Genre: Country

William Clark Green

William Clark Green

Based on the latest local guidelines, attendees are no longer required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test AND/OR vaccination for entry into this event. Other shows on our calendar may still have specific health and safety requirements based on artist request.  Be sure to check our venue website for the latest updates and guidelines as entry requirements are subject to change.


ABOUT WILLIAM CLARK GREEN

In the proudly independent Texas-country scene, it’s not easy to separate yourself – or to evolve once you have. But for almost 15 years, William Clark Green has done both with a nod to his home state itself, both rooted in the past and barreling toward the future.

Boasting sandpaper vocals and country-rock sound at the crossroads of back-alley grit and gravel-road grace, the Flint, Texas, native emerged like many others before – sauntering out from Lubbock’s live music loving college-bar scene. But he has since carved a space that is uniquely his own. Pairing singer-songwriter tradition with a progressive musical mindset, he’s both a troubadour of troubled souls and maestro to lyrical mischief, renowned for underdog anthems filled with sardonic wit, vivid characters and even historical curiosity.

Over five previous albums, multiple Number Ones on Texas Regional Radio have joined iTunes Country Album chart toppers, the respect of critics and peers and a vibrant touring profile anchored on Texas’ biggest stages. But even after so much success, two years of treading water left Green looking to get beyond his comfort zone.

“My whole mentality is that if my voice went out tomorrow, or I lost my arm and my career ended, I’ve got nothing but gratefulness,” Green explains, flashing his signature sense of dark humor. “But in some ways, we wanted to reach and see what else is out there. I think the band is ready, I think I’m ready, and it’s not really about money or anything. It’s about feeling that high again, feeling that new-ness.”

Returning with Baker Hotel, his sixth studio album and first in almost four years, Green goes after that new-ness with an open mind, and the thoughtful approach of roots-rock poet. Just as each album before it, he continues mixing Lone-Star mythos into his storytelling, this time occupying an abandoned monument to the past in Mineral Wells, Texas. But as he hinted above, Baker Hotel takes his craft to new heights. Even for an artist who’s fans expect the unexpected, it finds Green raising his game to the proverbial penthouse suite.

Featuring 13 tracks and the return of producer Rachel Loy (Rose Queen, Ringing Road), the set taps everything from lush ‘80s pop to classic highway rock and traditional Western balladry, as  Green seeks out new sonic connections – and probes deeper into his soul than ever. The set arrives after a grueling 2019 tour which featured more than 170 shows, then the isolation of a pandemic shutdown, and it’s that push and pull of burnout, creative detox and almost-meditative rejuvenation that drives the project – all captured through the eyes of a deadpanning interstate philosopher.

“Songwriting is such a weird deal for me, because everything I write about is true,” Green admits. “What this record means to me is self-reflection, realizing that I just turned 35 and it’s like ‘Where am I at in life? Where do I want to be? Where did I think I would be?’ Not being able to work, I had a lot of time to sit and think about myself, and what’s really locking me down, and that’s what I think this record is about.”

The title track best captures the dual nature of that growth. Waiting until early 2021 to record, Green gathered a small group in his guitar player’s Texas home studio – his first in-state recording since 2010’s Misunderstood – and they simply let the spirit move them.

Co-written by Green with Ross Copper and Dean Phillips, “Baker Hotel” checks in with a classic dose of historic whimsy, landing squarely in the vein of much-loved adventure anthems like “Ringling Road.” But then it builds on precedent, adding in a strutting rockabilly groove.

Now dilapidated, but still towering 14 stories over Mineral Wells, the real-life Baker Hotel was once among the nation’s most illustrious, hosting everyone from Bonnie & Clyde to Marilyn Monroe and Ronald Regan. Green’s tribute likewise toasts the local tradition of sneaking in and climbing to the top, and with plans to revitalize it underway, his spooky-roots barnstormer salutes the past as a new age arrives.

Elsewhere, however, Green’s not working off any playbook at all. Recording freshly written songs, sometimes penned just the day before, Green and his team felt free to roam. Some of his most challenging vocal performances are joined by in-the-moment arrangements, including craggy country rockers drenched in steel guitar, barstool ballads and two-steppers built for packed venues all across the nation – plus orchestral strings and the fat-bottomed bass lines of daydreamy plains pop.

Each new track is almost like a different guest in the Baker Hotel itself, as Green explores themes of evolution in myriad ways.

“I think the entire COVID quarantine, it was about breaking out of chains to get back to normal on the outside, but also in an inner way, too,” he says. “It’s just a way different observation on myself and the world than I’ve ever had before.”

The high-flying “Feel Alive” may be project’s spiritual focus. Soaring with optimistic determination and a vocal that approaches the heavens, it’s the joyful sound of a soul opening up. With tracks like the confessional “Getting Drunk,” a lifelong good-timer wonders what he’s trying to drown out. And “Leave Me Alone” finds a guy arguing with himself in head spinning hill-country pop.

Meanwhile, “Dog Song” pairs Green’s sly humor with a funky, four-legged foundation and a charming romantic turnaround. “Me, Her and You” dresses a classic-Western heartbreaker in stunning strings. “All You Got” writhes with ‘90s alternative rock frustration, and “Give a Damn” shimmers like the last rays of a West Texas sunset, somehow feeling both empty and electrifying.

No, it’s no small feat to grow while staying true to who you are … and for a proud Texan, true to where you’ve been. But if the last year-plus has taught him anything, it’s that the future is uncertain – so live fearlessly and blaze new trails while you can.

“I’m so fired up to go, its ‘Like let’s see where the road leads?’” he says. “I don’t have any kind of constraints, and that is bad ass.”

Kelsey Waldon:<br>No Regular Dog tour

Kelsey Waldon:
No Regular Dog tour

Based on the latest local guidelines, attendees are no longer required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test AND/OR vaccination for entry into this event. Other shows on our calendar may still have specific health and safety requirements based on artist request.  Be sure to check our venue website for the latest updates and guidelines as entry requirements are subject to change.


ABOUT KELSEY WALDON

On her new album No Regular Dog, singer/songwriter/guitarist Kelsey Waldon shares a gritty and glorious portrait of living in devotion to your deepest dreams: the brutal self-doubt and unending sacrifice, hard-won wisdom and sudden moments of unimaginable transcendence. Revealing her supreme gift for spinning harsh truths into songs that soothe and brighten the soul, the Kentucky-bred artist ultimately makes an unassailable case for boldly following your heart—a sentiment perfectly encapsulated in No Regular Dog’s raw and radiant title track.

“I wrote ‘No Regular Dog’ at a time when I was gone so much and working so hard and starting to wonder if I had the staying power to keep it going,” says Waldon, who now lives in Ashland City, Tennessee. “After putting in my time in the van on the road, after all the blood, sweat, and tears and the crying in parking lots, I’d finally gotten to where I wanted—but it was also a moment when I really started questioning myself. In the end I came around to answer my own question and realize that, yes, I can do this. I won’t be put down so easy. I am no regular dog.”

Waldon’s fourth full-length and the follow-up to 2019’s White Noise/ White Lines—her debut release for John Prine’s Oh Boy Records—No Regular Dog came to life over the course of many charmed and freewheeling sessions at Dave’s Room Studio in Los Angeles, with production from kindred spirit Shooter Jennings (Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker). “I’d never recorded an album anywhere but Nashville or back home, and it felt good to get outside my bubble,” Waldon says. “We were able to hunker down and work till late into night, doing what we could to catch lightning in a bottle.”

In a departure from the more guitar-heavy approach of its predecessor (a critically lauded album that landed on NPR Music’s Best of 2019 list), No Regular Dog unfolds in a lush yet understated sound that lets the singular character of Waldon’s songwriting and voice shine through each track. Featuring her longtime band members, Brett Resnick (pedal steel), Alec Newnam (bass), and Nate Felty (drums), along with musicians like famed guitarist/dobro player Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards), the album also illuminates the immense depth of her musicality, mining inspiration from such eclectic sources as mid-century bluegrass, ’60s soul, and ’70s country-rock. “Everything’s in there, all the music I’ve ever known and loved,” says Waldon. “I wanted to show my whole color scheme and create something that’s less of a honky-tonk thing and more like a big, beautiful picture of everything I see in country music.”

After opening on the luminous strings and pedal steel of its title track—in which Waldon self-identifies as a “prisoner of my mental cages, my own worst enemy”—No Regular Dog kicks into a much punchier mood on the brightly rambling “Sweet Little Girl.” “It’s about a girl who’s lost her way and now she’s trying to find it,” says Waldon. “I was inspired by real-life incidents, like all the thoughts that go through your head when you’re dealing with addiction and feeling like you’ve got this rage inside that you don’t know what to do with.” Graced with the lilting fiddle melodies of Jennings’s longtime collaborator Aubrey Richmond, the result is a prime showcase for Waldon’s fiercely honest storytelling (from the chorus: “I’ll be crawlin’ up the walls, just a like a little ol’ house fly/Anything so I can’t feel this hollow inside”). From there, No Regular Dog shifts into the candid introspection of “Tall and Mighty,” a bittersweet meditation on getting by in a world bent on breaking you down. “I’d been having conversations with my peers in this business, especially all my girlfriends who are such amazing songwriters in their own right, talking about this journey and all the smoke and mirrors of trying to live up to your dream,” says Waldon. “There have been times when I’ve tried to prove the wrong thing, but I’m through with that now. I’m not trying to be anybody but myself, and to write songs that show what’s in my heart and on my mind.”

A particularly poignant moment on No Regular Dog, “Season’s Ending” finds Waldon ruminating on the passing of John Prine, who died from Covid-related complications in April 2020. “That was the first song I wrote after John died—like so many people I was in complete shock, I couldn’t write for months,” says Waldon. “There’s been so much loss over the past few years; my partner’s uncle died from Covid the same day as John, and a lot of my friends have seen family members lose their struggles with addiction or depression. We’ve been carrying such a heavy load, so this song is about coping with that and trying to understand that death is a part of life.” One of several tracks featuring the heavenly background vocals of Kyshona Armstrong, Maureen Murphy, and Nickie Conley, “Season’s Ending” matches its soulful harmonies and lonesome guitar work with the kind of loving serenade that gently pierces the heart (e.g., “And ain’t it just like you to bloom and be gone”).

In a creative breakthrough for Waldon, No Regular Dog also features the first unabashedly joyful love song she’s ever written, the quietly powerful “Simple as Love.” “I was at home sitting on my back porch and I started thinking about how I’ve got all these heartbreak songs and drinking songs, but I’m not experiencing any of that anymore,” she says. “I’m at a point where I’m in a healthy relationship with someone who actually cares about me, and I wanted to write a song that expresses what love feels like in its purest form.” Laced with cascading guitar tones that glisten like sunlit honey, “Simple as Love” wholly achieves an ineffable sweetness while spotlighting Waldon’s idiosyncratic brand of poetry (“Like a junkie’s got its itch/It leaves you wantin’ more, wantin’ all of it/Just like a lily in a ditch/It grows where it wants to grow”).

Originally from the tiny rural town of Monkey’s Eyebrow, Waldon has long relied on music as a lifeline. “I’ve always used songwriting as a way to process the world around me and also process my own thoughts and feelings,” she says, naming classic country artists like Loretta Lynn, George Jones, and Merle Haggard among her early influences. “If I didn’t have the ability to put all that down on paper, I think I’d be pretty lost today.” After penning her first song as a small child—“My mom still has lyrics sheets I made when I was about nine, everything laid out in verse and chorus”—Waldon continued sharpening her craft and eventually left home for Nashville, where she further honed her chops by playing local bar gigs. Over the coming years, she put out a series of EPs before making her full-length debut with The Goldmine: a self-released 2014 effort that earned abundant praise from leading outlets like Rolling Stone, who hailed her as “Tammy Wynette on a trip to Whiskeytown.” Arriving in 2016, Waldon’s sophomore album I’ve Got a Way drew even more acclaim and appeared on such coveted year-end roundups as the Top 10 Favorite Albums Of 2016 list from Ken Tucker of NPR’s Fresh Air, with its lead single “All By Myself” featured on NPR’s Top 100 Songs of 2016 list. Several years later, she performed at the Grand Ole Opry with the likes of Sturgill Simpson and John Prine, who invited her to join the Oh Boy Records family while up onstage—making Waldon the label’s first new artist signing in 15 years. Co-produced with Dan Knobler (Allison Russell, Della Mae), White Noise/ White Lines delivered such standouts as “Kentucky, 1988,” which later topped Rolling Stone’s 25 Best Country and Americana Songs of 2019 list.

Looking back on the making of No Regular Dog—an album rooted in rigorous self-reflection—Waldon speaks to her newly clarified sense of purpose as a songwriter and artist. “I hope that these songs are able to live with people and help make the world a little better, because I think that’s a big part of what my job is,” she says. “At the end of the day, I’m so thankful for my passion for music because it’s sustained me throughout my whole life, and now I want it to do the same for other people. And if anyone’s struggling, I hope they can recognize the ‘No Regular Dog’ within themselves, and start to see how much they’re really worth.”

Midnight North

Midnight North

Based on the latest local guidelines, attendees are no longer required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test AND/OR vaccination for entry into this event. Other shows on our calendar may still have specific health and safety requirements based on artist request.  Be sure to check our venue website for the latest updates and guidelines as entry requirements are subject to change.


ABOUT MIDNIGHT NORTH

There’s Always a Story represents a new chapter for Midnight North. Ten stories told through song on their most polished album to date.Reflecting on the time since their origin, Midnight North is ready to tell the world its story. A group of multi-instrumentalists with songwriting roots in Folk and Americana, Midnight North is a mainstay on the stages of the national touring circuit. Rolling Stone hailed Midnight North as the “Best New Act” in its review of 2018’s Peach Music Festival saying the band “takes the best parts of roots music and weaves them into a tapestry of rock and Americana.”Grahame LeshElliott Peck, & Connor O’Sullivan began playing together in San Francisco. In early 2012 they played their first show as Grahame Lesh & Friends. Grahame & Elliott both brought a repertoire of original music to this new project that was a perfect marriage once the band began performing in earnest. In late 2012 the band went into the studio for the first time, tracking the entirety of their debut album End of the Night in just 2 days. End of the Night (mixed & produced by Connor) was released in June 2013 as they officially debuted the name Midnight North.

The band began touring in June 2015, with the release of their second album Scarlet Skies. That began a five year run as a touring band, playing in 36 states in front of thousands of people across the country. They released Under the Lights, their most successful studio album to date, in summer 2017. “Across all of the tracks, when you think you have the band pegged for a style or a genre, all of a sudden a chorus, or a new solo or new instrument altogether, diverts the music boldly but smartly to a new sound and feel,” said The Poke Around in their review of Under the Lights. They also released two live albums including 2018’s Selections From the Great American Music Hall which featured Bob Weir & Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead plus members of Twiddle as special guests.

A pivotal moment for the band came when Grahame met drummer Nathan Graham at a benefit show in Philadelphia in 2016. A month later Nathan sat in with the band for a show, eventually joining the band for their longest tour to date in the Spring of 2017. Bringing on the well seasoned drummer as a full-time member of the band (and learning about his banjo playing, singing, and song-writing skills) represented the next step forward as plans were made to record their fourth studio album.

In January 2020, the band went into a California studio with producer David Simon-Baker to craft their fourth studio album, There’s Always a Story, released in 2021 on Americana Vibes. As the world shut down in March and the band quarantined separately around the country, the album was finished remotely in California and Pennsylvania. As the months ticked by they let the rest of the newly written & recorded songs sink into their consciousness so that when work resumed on the album in June the entire album became even better than they could have hoped.

2022 and beyond is a new beginning, and while Midnight North longingly looks ahead, hand-in-hand with the rest of the world, There’s Always a Story will serve as a collective and reflective narrative.

This show is supported by WIJAM
www.wijam.net/
The Deslondes

The Deslondes

Based on the latest local guidelines, attendees are no longer required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test AND/OR vaccination for entry into this event. Other shows on our calendar may still have specific health and safety requirements based on artist request. Be sure to check our venue website for the latest updates and guidelines as entry requirements are subject to change.


ABOUT DESLONDES

We shed old skin in order to evolve and move forward. We let go of who we were in the past and embrace who we’re meant to be now. The Deslondes have taken such steps as not only bandmates, but as brothers. The New Orleans quintet—Dan Cutler, Sam Doores, Riley Downing, Cameron Snyder, and John James Tourville—have weathered ups, downs, and everything in
between only to strengthen the bond between them.

Infusing everything from saxophone, flute, and synth to string arrangements and a full drum kit for the first time, the group naturally progress and evolve in real-time on their third full-length offering, Ways & Means [New West Records]. “The title reminds me of being young, getting into the music business, going through everything, and coming out of it,” Riley observes. “We’re taking a look right, left, and back at ourselves.”

“We were letting go of a bunch of old dynamics that left us burnt out,” adds John James. “However, we’re focused on being productive and on the other side.”

The “other side” might just be their brightest yet. The Deslondes revealed their self-titled debut to widespread tastemaker applause during 2015. However, they really hit their stride on Hurry Home in 2017. Right out of the gate, Noisey proclaimed, “The Deslondes have found a comfortable sound to create art in, and it serves them well,” while Rolling Stone noted, “The Deslondes’ take on country relies on a gritty, grimy mix of early rock ‘n’ roll and lo-fi R&B.” In addition to praise from American Songwriter, Paste, The Boot, and more, the record closed out the year on Uncut’s “Favorite Albums of 2017.”

Then, the musicians opted to quietly take a break. In the meantime, Sam shared his self-titled debut as Riley also served up his solo album, Start It Over. Maybe it was something in the air, but 2021 seemed like the perfect moment for the boys to pick up where they left off. “I reached out to everybody individually,” recalls John James. “Dan’s got kids, and I’ve got kids. We’d been touring for a long time. Once I called, it seemed like everyone was really into it. We were excited about doing it again.”

“I was in Lawrence, KS visiting my folks at the height of the Pandemic,” Sam remembers. “I was walking down Massachusetts Avenue on a Sunday morning and wondering what I had left to give the world. Perhaps, I was experiencing a mild existential crisis from living off unemployment and facing the cancellation of my album release tours. Luckily, my phone rang. John James asked how I’d feel about making another Deslondes record with so much genuine enthusiasm it was contagious. We all owe it to him. Instinctually, a resounding ‘Hell Yes’ came out of my mouth.”

Missing the camaraderie, the guys congregated at old haunt The Tigermen Den. Together, they worked out the songs before they entered the Bomb Shelter with longtime producer Andrija Tokic. This time around, members brought in a host of ideas and agreed upon the process before recording.

“We came to some personal agreements about how everything was going to go down in advance,” Dan elaborates. “From experience, we realized what we liked and who was good at what. In terms of the studio, it was probably the easiest album we’ve ever made. Usually, we’re too busy touring to put a lot of thought into pre-production and ideas. This was definitely the most prepared we’ve ever been beforehand.”

The preparation shines on the likes of the first single “South Dakota Wild One.” On the track, harmonica wails over acoustic strumming. Simultaneously, Riley’s grizzled and gruff delivery simmers above a slow burning beat punctuated by a soulful lead.

“It’s a nostalgic song about getting into music, traveling, and running into the special people who were around then, but aren’t around now,” notes Riley. Elsewhere, the opener “Good To Go” saunters on airy electric piano towards a heavenly and hummable saxophone solo.

“If ‘South Dakota Wild One’ was the beginning of traveling and playing music, ‘Good To Go’ is where we’re at now,” Riley continues. “We’re still out here. We’re still good to go. The songs bookend each other.”

Then, there’s “Dunes.” A twang-y riff underscores a fifties-style melody as guitar echoes. “It’s about the arc of a love affair—a relationship that went wrong eventually,” Dan says. “It explores
the symmetry of a relationship and how things come full circle in our life.”

The dreamy “Five Year Plan” nods to Harry Nilsson with its dusty bliss, plinking keys, and cinematic orchestration. Album closer “Hero” takes flight on soaring slide guitar and wistful vocal delivery.

“I grew up in a real tight-knit family in the country,” Riley goes in. “We all pitched in to take care of my grandmother at the end of her life. We’re our own heroes to our families and friends. I needed to write the song to remind myself you can be your own hero. If it helps me, maybe it will help someone else.”

In the end, The Deslondes draw on their own familial union to forge a similar connection with listeners.

“To us, this is family,” John James leaves off. “It’s a part of our lives. When you hear our music, I hope you feel like you’re hanging out with us. The band’s back together now, and it just feels good.”

“Riley, JJ, Dan, and Cam are my brothers,” Sam concurs. “We’ve all been through so much together. I don’t think any of us will have that experience with another group of people again in our lives. Sometimes, we drive each other crazy of course, but we’re family. I’d take a bullet for any of those geezers.”

Wu Grass: Chris Castino & Chicken Wire Empire

Wu Grass: Chris Castino & Chicken Wire Empire

Based on the latest local guidelines, attendees are no longer required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test AND/OR vaccination for entry into this event. Other shows on our calendar may still have specific health and safety requirements based on artist request.  Be sure to check our venue website for the latest updates and guidelines as entry requirements are subject to change.


Chris Castino & Chicken Wire Empire Independently Release Fresh Pickles

A Star-Studded Bluegrass Restyling of Castino’s Music with The Big Wu

Featuring guest appearances by

Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Andy Hall, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams,
Tim O’Brien, Nick Forster, Vince Herman, and Album Co-Producer Adam Greuel

 St. Paul, Minn. —You could say that Chris Castino is a writer of dance music. Not the kind you hear at any club. It’s the kind you hear at a Dead show, or festivals, when the crowd moves together spinning and bouncing like an ocean of blissful and emancipated souls. Chris is the primary songwriter for his longtime popular Minnesota-based rock’n’roll jamband The Big Wu. The Big Wu started in the mid 90’s and quickly ascended from the comforts of the local club scene to playing H.O.R.D.E Fest, Bonnaroo, Gathering of the Vibes, High Sierra, and the list goes on.

With the incredibly talented band Chicken Wire Empire from Milwaukee, WI, Chris and the boys took the opportunity, while sitting through COVID-19 lock-downs in 2020 and 2021, to arrange some of his catalog into impeccably fitting bluegrass tunes. These songs were transformed and the resulting album, Fresh Pickles, sounds instantly familiar. What the listener will hear is an album that feels like a classic bluegrass album—it is a light-hearted, down-home concept that plays with the idea that although some of the songs were written many years before, they now feel brand new. Fresh.

Chris is a natural; in his singing style, writing, and producing. Fresh Pickles is just the beginning of a heartfelt and fulfilling voyage into bluegrass— it features stomping rippers and sweet, harmonic ballads, as well as a taste of genre-shifting psychedelic rides. Always true to the tradition and authentic in presentation, Fresh Pickles is packed with great music and will be independently released on February 4.

This joyous album making process produced many special guest appearances from several GRAMMY winning artists in the bluegrass and Americana world including Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Andy Hall, Vince Herman, Nick Forster, Keller Williams, and Adam Greuel.

Chris says, “What turned out to be just something to occupy our time while we weren’t touring, became something outstanding. I am driven to make music that is lasting and accessible; but my personal style is a combination of sincerity and imagery. There is, to be fair, much more depth in my writing now, having gone through the reckoning of addiction that laid me low, and required nothing short of a rebirth.”

“It brings me joy to hear how these songs in particular have been given new life,” Castino continues,”For music lovers who are unfamiliar with my songs I truly believe that this record will be a fresh experience for them. It’s not essential to understand the history of these songs to appreciate them. My hope is to bring a new audience to my music, so that the next record can reach more people. This is my only desire. And my best tunes are yet to come.” Fresh Pickles follows Castino’s introspective 2020 debut solo album Brazil.

Adam Greuel (Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, The High Hawks) worked with Castino to produce the album, along with adding vocals on a couple of tracks (“Minnesota Moon” and “Jackson County”). Greuel says, “I’ve always heard and felt the influence of bluegrass music on Caz’s songwriting. Lyrically, his content and themes seem to occasionally draw from that tradition, while the music has hints of that bluegrass drive or perhaps the sweetness of a traditional waltz. When Castino gave me a ring and explained that he was interested in breathing some new life into some of his more loved Big Wu classics by way of bluegrass, my initial reaction was raw excitement. Castino is one witty and wild loon. His lyrics tell a vivid story and his chord progressions are often that lovely balance between familiar and boundary-pushing.”

Castino’s early passion for bluegrass music was cultivated by his father, a professional singer of standards, who was captivated by that plaintive, lonesome vocal style. He says, “I learned all he could from the weekly dose of bluegrass served, like some foreign cuisine to the northern city folk of Minneapolis who knew not the traditions of the southern hill folk, by host Phil Nusbaum and his 35+ years long running radio show Bluegrass Saturday Morning on local community radio: to this day.” Captivated, he began to steer his composing down this road.

Greuel says, “Caz got in touch with the fellas from Milwaukee’s Chicken Wire Empire to effectively ‘bluegrassasize’ his tunes. With the songs having already been recorded with Castino’s main band, The Big Wu, there was essentially a road map or launch pad for the tunes to evolve from. CWE are a group of musical masterminds. Their music lands on this wonderful line between tradition and exploration. To me, they were the perfect fit for Caz and his songs. Their talents flow far and wide, both individually and collectively, and their ability as arrangers and bluegrass students and historians led this project into a perfect musical territory where the tradition of bluegrass music was happily melded with the progressive and ever creative songwriting of Chris Castino.”

Fresh Pickles features 11 original songs penned by Castino. All of which, but one, were first released on four of The Big Wu’s five studio albums spanning from 1997-2019. The other song (“The Ballad Of Dan Toe”) appeared on a 2002 “official” live show release from 1998. Fresh Pickles can be seen as a retrospective and reexamination of these songs through a bluegrass lens.

The Ballad Of Dan Toe” is a south-of-the-border inspired tune that The Big Wu has kept in their repertoire since the 90s. Castino says, “It’s a tale of a mythical mystic who is bigger than life. Because it is inspired by the writing of Peter Rowan there’s no understating the bliss of having him sing with me on this tune. Jerry Douglas also appears here. These two are my bigger-than-life heroes.”

Formed in 1992, the Big Wu’s momentum was driven by Castino’s catchy songwriting and the band’s hefty tour schedule in the late 90’s early 00’s, which launched the band into becoming a mainstay in the national roots and jamband scene. In 1997 The Big Wu landed a spot on H.O.R.D.E Fest and that same year they also released their first album, Tracking Buffalo Through The Bathtub, which included the already crowd favorites, “Kangaroo” and “Red Sky.” In fitting format, those are the first two tracks on Fresh Pickles.

The Fresh Pickles album opener, “Kangaroo,” demonstrates how well the songs lend themselves to bluegrass and introduces the core band with Castino on lead vocals and guitar along with Chicken Wire Empire’s Ryan Ogburn on mandolin, Jordan Kroeger on bass, Ernest Brusbardis IV on fiddle, and Jon Peik on banjo. Castino says, “‘Kangaroo’ is one of the very first songs I wrote as a professional. It’s upbeat and irreverent but also reveals the bluegrass influence which was so strong in my writing in those early days.”

An ambitious “Red Sky” recounts a drive home from the Dead shows in 95; the lyrics being sets of images with Sam Bush’s fiddle work here knitting several different movements within the theme together.

A couple of other songs from that era include the buoyant “Shantytown,” a song in which Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman’s vocals are the perfect fit, if there ever was one, and country-song-turned-funky, “Minnesota Moon” (both released in 2000 by The Big Wu on Folktales).

Having earned a reputation as one of the most actively touring bands around, along with regularly hosting their own festival since 1998 (The Big Wu Family Reunion), by 2002, The Big Wu became the first band to play at Bonnaroo, kicking off the inaugural version of the festival. They also had a new album in hand that year, Spring Reverb, from which two tracks are selected here. Two more pickles in the jar: “Rhode Island Red” (a high speed bluegrass tune since day one) and Fresh Pickles’ closing track “Irregular Heartbeat,” which Chris says, “has a decidedly different feel… Perhaps indicative of what the future might (and certainly could) hold for us. It’s a Thile inspired alternative to the genre. He’s one of my favorite writers.”

The high energy and jolly “Texas Fireball” (originally released on Tool for Evening in 2004), marks the center of Fresh Pickles and sees Keller Williams spit the second verse fast and smooth and The Infamous Stringdusters’ Andy Hall’s Dobro solo is on fire. Keller says, “It’s fun to collaborate with old bros. This direction seems to make sense for Chris. Storytelling and quick picking is right up his alley.”

The Big Wu was a full-time touring commodity for years until they spilled some wind from their sails so they could deal with the changes within their lives including new family dynamics and health. They continue to write and perform a number of select shows and released their most recent studio album, We Are Young, We Are Old, in 2019. A few of those tracks were selected for Fresh Pickles, adding three more pickles to the jar: the travelogue “Bound For the South,” the nostalgic “Young Pioneer,” and the atmospheric song from the road, “Jackson County.”

Tim O’Brien’s harmony fiddle is mournful and resolute in the travelogue Bound For the South,” while Nick Forster [both of Hot Rize] contributes vocals along with Castino. They take you through a journey down Highway 61 from Minnesota to Mississippi.

Castino says, “‘Jackson County’ completely morphed into something remarkable. Originally an epic Floyd-style power ballad about the thin line between real and drug-induced perceived threats, we turn it into a Flatt & Scruggs-Esque uptempo waltz. Maybe it’s Jerry Douglas’ killer licks but I’m certain this is what the song was meant to be. Still epic, and It’s also now a favorite of mine.”

Fresh Pickles highlights some of Chris’s most beloved tunes arranged to manifest and honor his longtime affection for bluegrass music. With the help of many of Chris’s lifelong musical heroes, this record has that classic 70’s and 80’s alt-bluegrass sound, while never too far from the traditional bluegrass style that defines the genre. Fresh Pickles aims to satisfy your cravings.

 

Dale Watson

Dale Watson

Based on the latest local guidelines, attendees are no longer required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test AND/OR vaccination for entry into this event. Other shows on our calendar may still have specific health and safety requirements based on artist request. Be sure to check our venue website for the latest updates and guidelines as entry requirements are subject to change.


ABOUT DALE WATSON

Dale Watson, keeper of the true country music flame, latest album Call Me Insane, was recorded in Austin with veteran producer Lloyd Maines (Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, etc.). The Austin-based honky-tonker carries on in the tradition of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson with his “Ameripolitan” brand of American roots music.

Album highlights include “Jonesin’ For Jones,” a love song to the music of the legendary George Jones, “A Day At A Time,” about “getting by by barely getting by;” “Call Me Insane,” the album’s moody title track; “Bug Ya For Love,” a fun warning to all the single ladies, and “Mamas Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow Up To Be Babies.” (Yes, it is an answer song to the Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson hit.) “Crocodile Tears” is a tear-in-your-beer country song that sounds like an instant classic and “Burden Of The Cross” reveals Watson’s serious side.

Call Me Insane was recorded in Austin by Watson and his ace touring band, “His Lone Stars”: Don Pawlak (pedal steel), Mike Bernal (drums & percussion), and Chris Crepps (upright bass & background vocals). Dale plays electric guitar throughout and Lloyd Maines added acoustic guitar. They were joined in the studio by Danny Levin on piano and the Honky Tonk Horns: Jon Blondell (trombone), Joey Colarusso (saxophone), and Ricky White (trumpet).

“Having known Lloyd over 20 years and worked with him as a musician, I knew he was a great guy and picker,” Watson says. “But having Lloyd produce your record is like letting your mom in your kitchen. You know you’re gonna like what comes out and it’s amazing how such basic ingredients can be made even better. He is an artists’ artist.

The admiration is mutual. “I’ve been a Dale Watson fan since I played steel guitar on some of his early records,” Maines says of the sessions. “My early musical influences are the same as Dale’s. We both grew up playing real country music. Dale is one of a very short list of today’s artists who still keeps it real country. I’m honored that he asked me to produce his new record. I think he knew that I would maintain the integrity of his passion for the music.”

Dubbed “the silver pompadoured, baritone beltin’, Lone Star beer drinkin’, honky-tonk hellraiser” by The Austin Chronicle, Watson sat in with Jimmy Kimmel’s house band as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) from SXSW 2015. He also emceed the first ever SXSW “Ameripolitan” showcase featuring the best of Honky-tonk, Outlaw Country, Rockabilly and Texas Swing music.

Since the release of El Rancho Azul in 2013, Watson’s profile has risen considerably via appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS), Austin City Limits and The Sun Sessions(PBS) and as a guest on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me. A veteran touring artist and consummate entertainer, he is on the road more than 300 days a year. He also put his money where his heart is and took over ownership of two struggling Texas honky-tonks, the Little Longhorn Saloon in Austin (home of Chicken $#!+ Bingo) and The Big T Roadhouse in St. Hedwigs (outside San Antonio). If not on the road, he and His Lone Stars perform at one of them each Sunday.

Dale has flown the flag for classic honky-tonk for over two decades. He’s christened his brand of American roots “Ameripolitan” to differentiate it from current crop of Nashville-based pop country. The Alabama-born, Texas-raised Watson may be the hardest working entertainer today and is rapidly approaching legendary status. He is a country music maverick, a true outlaw who stands alongside Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and George Strait as one of the finest country singers and songwriters from the Lone Star State.

Church of Cash

Church of Cash

Please note that High Noon Saloon, Majestic Theatre, Orpheum Theater, and The Sylvee are requiring all fans to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours OR full vaccination for entry to all events at the venue moving forward. In accordance with current Dane County Public Health guidelines, this performance will also require masks regardless of vaccination status. Additional policies may apply on a show-by-show basis. More details available here.

Whether you are an ‘ol timer that grew up listening to Mr. Cash in your tractor or a young soldier driving your tank across the deserts of the Middle East with the Man in Black in your headphones, the Church of Cash will bring his music, with style and energy to fans everywhere.

What the Church of Cash has that no one else can match is their loyalty to the song and the message that Johnny left to all of us. The band merely keeps this word alive with a youthful spirit that has entertained audiences completely.

Doors at 7:00 pm | Show at 8:00 pm

Security will be checking vaccination cards and/or proof of negative tests and will deny entry to those non-compliant with these requirements. Any bags larger than a small personal clutch must be clear. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. Ages 18+ All tickets are standing General Admission and are available on a first come first serve basis. Advance tickets can be purchased online or at The Sylvee box office. Once the doors have opened, if tickets are still available, they can be purchased at the High Noon Saloon.

Hiss Golden Messenger

Hiss Golden Messenger

Please note that High Noon Saloon, Majestic Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, and The Sylvee are requiring all fans to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours OR full vaccination for entry to all events at the venue moving forward. Additional policies may apply on a show-by-show basis. More details available here

Doors at 7:00 pm | Show at 8:00 pm All tickets are standing General Admission and are available on a first come first serve basis. $1 from every ticket goes to support the Durham Public Schools Foundation whose mission is to foster community support for public schools and invest in our students, educators, and families to ensure success and equity for every student.