March 2009

Ari Hest CD Imagine writing, recording, producing and releasing one new song per week for 52 weeks in a row. In 2008, singer-songwriter Ari Hest did just that. On March 10, 2009 Hest self-released the studio CD, “Twelve Mondays”, containing reworked versions of the 12 fan-selected songs from the ’52’ project. The independence and freedom has served Hest well. I learned of the ambitious project after the fact and heard the songs on “Twelve Mondays” before downloading all the Songs from 52: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Each season contains 13 songs. From the ‘52’; 4 from Winter, 3 from Spring and Autumn and 2 from Summer made the final cut. The first track on “Twelve Mondays” is also the first track on “Winter.” “One Two” is a deeply textured song that just sticks in your head. The first song of the ‘52’ is one of the best for the whole year. Another stand out is “Dead End Driving”, which was on “Summer”. It’s another catchy song that I keep listening to over and over again.  From “Autumn” is “Cranberry Lake” which teams up Hest with Amy Kuney in a simple duet (he attempted to sing Kuney’s part at his Club Café show). “Spring” contributed the fun sounds of “Binoculars” and “Ride the Brake”.  Other songs that deserve more than a casual listen include the tongue & cheek "I'll Be There", the rhythmic "The Weight", the layering on "Broken Voices" and the catchy "Morning Streets" along with the final track "Reason to Believe" rounding out the CD, like it starts, with one of those songs that just sticks in your head.

You can’t just comment on the final product of “Twelve Mondays” without acknowledging the pool of ‘52’. I did not hear the songs as they came out each week in 2008; instead I listened to them in order over a 5-day period. I feel there is not a weak song in the bunch. Certainly some songs sounded like demos. Some started abruptly or just ended with no warning. There was one instrumental. Many songs had multiple instruments and sounds. Guitar, piano, percussion and harmonies. You could at least hear the potential of what Hest was attempting to do with a particular song. I was impressed by actually how polished many of the songs were.

The quality and integrity of Ari Hest’s music is evident. In one review, Hest was compared to John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I don’t think those comparisons do justice to the depth of the songs Hest has produced over his young career (Hest will be 30 in June). To me, Ari Hest sounds like … well, Ari Hest. He is unique. Maybe in the future other artists will be likened to … Ari Hest.

On 2006’s “The Green Room Sessions EP”, Hest covers Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies”. It’s hard to believe it’s one person singing that song, but Hest pulls it off brilliantly.

Ari Hest has recorded almost the equivalent of a whole career worth of music in one year. What an incredible accomplishment! Well done, well done! To date, “Twelve Mondays” is my favorite CD of 2009!

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

ELVIS COSTELLO’S NEW ALBUM ‘SECRET, PROFANE & SUGARCANE’ will be out on JUNE 2nd. The recording is Produced by T BONE BURNETT in Nashville.

Joining Costello were Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Mike Compton, Jeff Taylor, and Dennis Crouch. These guys are some of the most highly regarded recording artists and musicians in traditional American country music, Bluegrass and beyond.

The album includes ten previously unrecorded songs. “Sulphur to Sugarcane” and “The Crooked Line”, were co-written with T Bone Burnett while, “I Felt The Chill” marks Costello’s second recorded songwriting collaboration with Loretta Lynn.

I'm fairly certain that is the same group of musicians that helped create 'Raising Sand' with Plant & Krauss. Looking forward to this release !

I discovered singer-songwriter Ari Hest on the 2008 Cayamo cruise.  I only had the chance to see him briefly then, but he made an immediate impression on me.  At Club Cafe, 29-year old Hest was the early show.  He was backed by Ron Calder on bass, Thad Debrock on guitar and Doug Yowell on drums.  The band also co-produced Hest's latest release "Twelve Mondays", from which he performed many tracks.  The concept, as Hest explained it, was that he wrote and shared on his website 52 songs in 2008.  He wrote a song a week and the 12 best, voted by the fans, made it on to this CD.  All sounded like winners to me.  Hest is quite tall, and seems comfortable on stage.  Even though I wasn't familiar with most of the songs, after 1 hour and 15 minutes, I didn't want the show to end.  I wanted to hear all 52 songs and then some.  The music and performer were engaging. Tim Brantley opened the show with about a 35-minute set.  He's a singer-songwriter out of Atlanta who plays the guitar and keyboards.  He seemed like he would be more comfortable with a backing band.  He has a great voice and is very personable, making a lot of eye contact with the audience.  Brantley is releasing his first CD next month "Goldtop Heights" P.S.:  I'm going to attempt to do my first CD review.  Actually my first five, as I've been listening to Ari Hest's Songs from 52:  Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn and the CD "Twelve Mondays" released on 03.10.09, which is a 'best of' the 52 songs.  Review is here: Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
    We've heard from many WYEP listeners so far, but the deadline is fast approaching for you to enter your favorite 20 songs. This listener generated list will be counted down in May, don't miss your chance to have your selections counted. The dealine for voting is Friday, April 10th.  
Bonnaroo Stay tuned to 91.3fm WYEP.  We'll soon have a chance for you to enter to win a pair of passes to this years Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN taking place June 11th to June 14th. for the complete lineup
On Day 7 we were scheduled to be at Great Stirrup Cay, a private island in the Bahamas.  Due to the windy weather we couldn't tender off the island, so instead we docked at Nassau.  No one seemed upset at the change.  What a beautiful city!  I will always remember the ship pulling away from Nassau in the sunset, with the picturesque lighthouse. The last evening.  On the windy Pool Deck, Oakhurst was joined by Levi Lowery (a very talented fiddler who seemed to sit in with everyone), then Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies) and also Shawn Mullins (who did a John Prine song).  I ended up sitting next to Heather Luttrell (who we never got to see perform). The final show in the Stardust Theater was supposed to be by Buddy Miller (who is recovering from triple-by pass surgery).  Instead it was a show billed as the Know-Buddies.  Since Buddy Miller was our original choice for "Twice as Nice" we were given reserved seating in the 1st 4 rows, for this general admission show.  Wow.  It was a who's who of the performers on the Cayamo Cruise. Webb Wilder opened up the show, doing two new songs from his upcoming album.  He then did MC duties (he was previously a host of a show on satellite radio) for this tribute to Buddy Miller.  Wilder is a neighbor of Miller and often sees him in the grocery story.  Some performers did Buddy Miller tunes.  The collaborations were amazing. Canadians Kathleen Edwards (violin), Ed Robertson (guitar) and the Denver based banjo player from Oakhurst did "I Hate Winnipeg".  Robertson suggested a mutiny of sorts.  Since the passengers outnumber the crew, he wanted to storm the Sixthman offices at 3 a.m. to take over the ship.  We were all having so much fun, we just didn't want it to end. Edwards teamed up with Tift Merritt and did a bit of a Vegas like comedy act (what a great singing voice Merritt has - she also plays a mean harmonica).  Shawn Mullins lead a super group that included David Ryan Harris and Heather Luttrell.  Ken Block teamed up with Aslyn (both from FL) and a few others on a Tom Petty Song.  Shawn Colvin, Brandi Carlile and Patty Griffin each took turns singing alone and in collaboration.  Wow. In Gatsby's, we briefly saw Jeff Holmes (Floating Men).  We then went to the Spinnaker and caught Aslyn's last song.  It was a touching tribute to her grandparents.  He grandfather was named Wally (same as my dad) and it was about having a long relationship with the one you love.  It made me cry.  What a lovely way to end the evening.  We wish we had seen more of Aslyn, what a voice, what command of the piano! We weren't able to see everyone perform, but we made every attempt to at least see a few moments of as many performers as we could.  What an amazing line up of talent.  It would be hard to duplicate anywhere else.  We're ready to sign up for the journey through song, 2010! Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

Day 6: It’s a day with a moderate sea and strong winds. They had to cover the equipment once due to a quick rain storm. I was able to access the Internet on the Pool Deck, while listening to Bonepony.  They were followed by The Greencards (re-scheduled from the previous day, due to the weather).  They play quite a variety of music.  Great energy and sound (especially when they did bluegrass)

We both got some sun and despite using 50 SPF, I have some sun burn on my shoulders, chest and neck.

As part of "Twice as Nice" we had our photo taken with Brandi Carlile. It was a nice opportunity, even if it was very quick.  The photo came out nice and it's a good memory of the cruise.

The shows were all running a bit late on the Pool Deck, so we only caught part of Drew Copeland's (Sister Hazel) show.  He's been working with Edwin McCain on his solo effort and you could hear the influence.  We think Marc Broussard also sounds like McCain.

We finally got to see multi-instrumentalist Kathleen Edwards do a whole show.  I had no idea she played the violin.  She said her husband comforted her after her losses at the casino with goodies from the chocolate buffet.  Edwards also freely used "adult language".  She told an entertaining story about making the video to "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory".

Glen Phillips has some great guys backing him up.  One is Luke Bulla on fiddle (Works Progress Administration), the other is Jonathan Kingham.  Phillips gave each a chance to solo during the set.  Kingham stole the show with a rap during a Bobby Brown song all about the Cayamo cruise experience on the Norwegian Dawn.  He earned a much deserved standing ovation.  Phillips did a song about being present when his father passed on.  Mr. Barb and I could relate.  After his performance I was able to chat with Phillips and get his autograph.  He also kindly posed for a photo with me, doing a 2nd take, as he blinked the 1st time.

The Spinnaker Lounge was perhaps not the right venue for someone such as Webb Wilder.  A tight band, but very loud!  Very good at what he does.  Other artists should watch him and learn how it's done.

Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies) was in Dazzles.  The lounge we could never get into, and always had to settle for standing along the fringe.  Roberston is very entertaining and we were glad to catch him performing again before turning in for the evening.

We sailed into the Eastern Time Zone and to the Bahamas. Of course we would lose the hour again when we went back to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday. Oh well. As Glen Phillips said we’re on a cruise, we get back to reality next week and can sleep then.

On a cruise, you can’t help but run into the performers in the hall ways. Lyle Lovett is impeccably dressed even when not on stage. Mr. Barb saw Ed Roland in the bathroom. You just never know. The performers seem open to chatting informally with fans.  I usually was on the look out for performers in the Garden Cafe, like all of us, they had to eat sometime.

Barb S.  – Sunday Mix Host

Another humid, windy day in the 80’s ashore, in the very quaint Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Shawn Mullins was supposed to play the Pool Deck, but due to rain and 2” of water on the stage and over the wires, his show was moved inside to the Atrium.  Another part of the Cayamo experience is being flexible. Mullins was also joined by guests for his final set, including the banjo player from Oakhurst.  Mullins stuck to his more familiar material.  It was a so neat to see people gathering all around the Atrium, on the spiral staircases, in the glass elevators and in any free space they could find to see Mullins.  Afterwards he signed autographs at the Merch Store.  I finally got the opportunity to get my photo taken with him and I had not showered and was wearing a hat to cover my hair. Mullins was very gracious.

Next we caught Darrell Scott.  Like the others, he had guests join him on stage throughout the show.   After a shower and dinner we went to see Ed Robertson.  He’s quirky. A good quirky and I bet a fun dad.  He did a few Barenaked Ladies songs and had a few guest artists, including a “cruiser” who played a mean harmonica. Before we went to hear more music we went to a chocolate buffet (I drew the line tho on chocolate sushi).  We caught a bit of Edie Carey, Vienna Teng and Beth Woods.  We like all three ladies.  Next we went to see Ed Roland (Collective Soul).  He admitted he was not proficient on the guitar (I couldn’t tell).  He’s working on writing songs for next Collective Soul CD and was looking for some ideas from the cruisers.  It’s obvious he writes more for a group then solo, but it still translated quite well on stage.  We ended the evening with the veteran Cayamo act Oakhurst.

Barb S.  – Sunday Mix Host

Day 4:  St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  Another humid, windy day in the 80’s ashore.  Our evening entertainment was provided by David Ryan Harris, Joey Ely, Girlyman, Katie Herzig, Jim Bianco and Glen Phillips.

David Ryan Harris was on Cayamo last year when he joined Shawn Mullins and Edwin McCain on the Lido Deck.  I was looking forward to seeing him solo.  Harris is a combination of John Mayer and Prince.  He's a talented singer-songwriter who’s not well known, but should be.

We sampled a bit of Joe Ely again (The Flatlanders), Girylman, along with a little bit of Katie Herzig in the Atrium, and checked in on Mindy Smith and then Jim Bianco.

Our “Twice as Nice” Show was Brandi Carlile (instead of Buddy Miller, who was unable to join the cruise due to triple by-pass surgery).  Sixthman did a great job of trying to accommodate those of us who choose Buddy Miller.  We were thrilled to see Carlile twice.  We had 4th row center in the Stardust Theater.  Wow.  Brandi, one of The Twins and Josh performed barefoot again.  Since we were close enough, I tried to get some photos of their feet.  Marc Broussard and Vienna Teng were among the performers who joined her on stage.  A large group sang “Let It Be” (Beatles) while holding lyric sheets.  It’s that kind of impromptu atmosphere.  You never know who will turn up on stage.

It was off to the late show of Glen Phillips.  I have to admit here, I was not impressed with Phillips when we saw him with Jonatha Brooke in December at the Rex.  I really wanted to give him another chance, as I had heard he was a good performer.  Well, he won me over.  Mr. Barb and I stayed for the whole show, until 2:15 a.m.  The Spinnaker has very comfortable couches and chairs.  Mr. Barb and I found a couch.  It was ironic, that Phillips talked about the “bumper cars” (couches).  He knew it was late and said was okay if we fell asleep in the bumper cars/couches.  Phillips is still re-learning the guitar after his accident (injuring his hand after it went through a glass table).  The late night show also seemed to affect his memory for lyrics.  But that’s part of the ambiance of this cruise.  It’s very casual and it’s okay to forget the words.  Phillips hit his head on the microphone a few times when he just couldn’t remember anymore of the song.  Mr. Barb and I left the comfy bumper car to move up front to get a closer look. 

 Barb S.  – Sunday Mix Host

Day 3:  Webb Wilder, Hub City Allstars, Tift Merritt, Glen Phillips, Brandi Carlile, Marc Broussard, Shawn Mullins, Ed Robertson, Zac Brown Band.  After a day in Samana, we had plenty of music to come back on the boat for.

Webb Wilder followed by the Hub City Allstars were on the pool deck again.  It’s a perfect location to hear their music.

Tift Merritt started off the night in the Spinnaker Lounge.  She did “Broken” and mentioned watching the “Titanic” before going on the cruise.  We were quite impressed with her performance.  We caught a little bit of Glen Phillips (who noted he was enjoying getting re-acquainted with his wife on this cruise) before going to see our headliner Brandi Carlile.  What a difference a year makes.  Carlile, with Josh on upright bass and “The Twins” in her band were amazing.   She has much more confidence (as she should with that voice and songwriting ability).  Carlile likes to perform barefoot.  She also sang a few new songs from her upcoming new release.  The Indigo Girls joined her on stage. As usual, Marc Broussard was SRO and on again before Shawn Mullins.  Broussard brought his dad on board to accompany him.  Mullins’ changed up his set for his 2nd show of the cruise.  He did a very impassioned version of the James McMurtry song  “We Can’t Make It Here”. While I was seeing Mullins, Mr. Barb checked out Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies) – his quirky sound played well in the Atrium, and Mr. Barb recommended we check out his show later in the Spinnaker.  After Mullins’ we stayed around to see the Zac Brown Band (Clay Cook pulling double duty tonight with Mullins & Zac.)  There was a lot of buzz for this band, and their hit “Chicken Fried”.  We only stayed for a few jams, but we were in awe over their sound.  A little bit of everything. 

Barb S.  – Sunday Mix Host