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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Train Rocks The Tracks To House Of Blues November 14


Train
By Brian M. Howle

When a rock band takes its collective first steps in the world of recording and releases, it’s a tentative time at best for most who attempt to walk the line to stardom. The hard, cold fact is that more hit the express track to obscurity rather than basking in the glory of success and acceptance. But more often than not, when the public gives the “thumbs up” and embraces a newcomer, the rise can be equally opposite in the sense of meteoric arrival … and a good name can really make that express track work for them (in a double entendre sort of way).

So the 15-year sojourn of one of San Francisco’s favorite bunch of sons will be on stage for all to enjoy, as Train – with opening act Uncle Kracker – comes to House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, SC on Saturday, October 17, 2009.

Here’s the recap on their career, culled from their website and Wikipedia:

Train started out in San Francisco, and 1997 they were touring nationally, opening concerts for groups such as Barenaked Ladies and Counting Crows. The original band members – Patrick Monahan (lead vocals), Rob Hotchkiss (guitar, vocals), Scott Underwood (drums), Jimmy Stafford (guitar), and Charlie Colin (bass) – financed their self-titled debut, which cost them a total of $25,000 to produce. Columbia Records agreed to sign Train under Aware Records after hearing their first album. Their song “Free” saw significant airplay on mainstream rock radio, later being featured in the TV show Party of Five. Train then released the song “Meet Virginia” as a single. The song became a major hit on modern adult contemporary radio stations, and became a top 20 pop hit. The success of “Meet Virginia” helped their album graduate from the Top Heatseekers chart and enter the top half of the Billboard 200 album chart.

Prior to the release of their second album, the band issued the single “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)”. The song entered the Hot 100 on March 10, 2001, and spent over a year on the chart (53 weeks) before being relegated to the recurrents chart. The song won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement.

The album Drops of Jupiter was released on March 27, 2001, and became Train’s first multiplatinum album, due in part to the strength of the leading single. The album was Train’s first top 10 album, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard 200. The album was also a top 10 hit in the UK, where it peaked at number 8.

In 2002, founder Rob Hotchkiss left the band to pursue a solo career, after having contributed to 6 of the 11 songs on the upcoming My Private Nation album.

The band’s third album, My Private Nation, was released in June 2003 with “Calling All Angels” as the lead single. “Calling All Angels” became Train’s third top 20 hit, and was a major hit on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.

The band released their first live album, Alive at Last, in 2004. Also in 2004, Train won a Radio Music Award for best artist.

Train began recording their fourth studio album, For Me, It’s You, in Atlanta during the summer of 2005. The album was the only Train album to include members Johnny Colt on bass (formerly of The Black Crowes original line up) and Brandon Bush on keyboards.

Starting in November 2006, the band took a break from recording and touring to be with friends and family. Lead singer Pat Monahan released a solo album, Last of Seven, on September 18, 2007. Train announced in April of 2009 that the band would be returning to its three original members with the departure of Johnny Colt and Brandon Bush. On August 11, 2009, Train released their first single in over 3 years, “Hey Soul Sister,” from their new album Save Me San Francisco, due to hit shelves October 27.

Over the course of 15 years, Train has made its mark on music history with their Grammy-Award-winning song “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” and chart-topping singles “Meet Virginia” and “Calling All Angels.” Since forming in San Francisco in 1994, the multi-platinum selling band has traveled a long, successful and sometimes arduous journey. Following their 2006 release, For Me, It’s You, the band took a three-year hiatus, and in that time, Train has, for all intents and purposes, experienced an epiphany as a whole. Now, with their fifth album, Save Me San Francisco, Train has channeled their early days, revisiting the roots rock sound that has made the band such a tour de force – and, in turn, the band is united stronger than ever before.

“I think taking time away from each other really made the heart grow fonder,” frontman Pat Monahan says of the break. “We realized how important we were to one another and taking a few years off helped us all really look at ourselves and what we could contribute to this band as opposed to what we weren’t getting from the band.”

When looking back, Train credits the city of San Francisco with cultivating the band’s identity and foundation, so it’s no wonder than the title track of the record would pay homage to the Bay Area metropolis the band holds so dear. “We owe all of our gratitude to San Francisco because they embraced us back when, if they hadn’t have, no one would have,” Monahan explains. “Basically, this album is our way of paying tribute, giving thanks and also recognizing that we kind of need San Francisco to OK this band before anybody else does. Those were the best times of our lives – even though we didn’t know it – living in San Francisco and struggling to make a band work.”

“Save Me San Francisco” is an autobiographical account of Train’s beginnings, and embodies not only the spirit of the album, but also the soul of Train as a band. The song’s lyrics take the listener through the three-piece’s humble start in the mid-90s up through the time when Monahan, in particular, left the City by the Bay. “It’s very related to my existence, but Jimmy, Scott and I have been through a lot together in the last 14-15 years, so it represents a lot to them, too, because they don’t reside in San Francisco anymore, and we all miss it.”

Train spent April and May of 2009 holed up in London’s Kensaltown Studios with producer Martin Terefe (KT Tunstall, Jason Mraz, James Morrison) with whom Monahan credits with helping the band “get back to the roots of the first record.” “It was an incredibly refreshing environment that Martin created for the band,” the singer says. “I’m really appreciative of his approach on things because he’s really great at what he does. I had more fun making this record than ever in my life. I think I’ve made seven records and it was by far the most fun.”

Save Me San Francisco taps into Train’s organic sound, recalling the blues and folk-infused rock that put the band on the map from the start. “It’s pretty basic,” Monahan explains of the record. “But really cool because there’s super catchy riffs and melodies in it, which I think are way more important that any production trick or great-sounding vocal production. It’s kind of us going backward so we can go forward.”

It is befitting that the focus of Save Me San Francisco is as uncomplicated as the record sounds. Monahan explored the age-old concept of love through his signature storytelling lyrics and the album, as he explains, is “about love in every way you can think about it.”

“There are certain songs that, instead of there being an intention, there was almost a theme,” he says. “I think a lot of the way I wrote on this wasn’t necessarily, ‘Hey, this reminds me of a situation I was in,’ but more how I see certain things being lived out in life, whether it’s from myself or someone else’s perspective.”

In this day and age, career artists are few and far between, and after a decade and a half of being a band, Train is ready to present one of their strongest efforts to date. Monahan recognizes the band’s accomplishments, and, as he states so clearly, is more than grateful for the success they have experienced. However, for a band as consummate as Train is, Monahan still sets his goals high and hopes the band’s fans will continue to come along for the ride.

“I still remember what it’s like to paint houses,” he recalls. “I had fun because I loved the people that I worked with, but it’s really not what I want to do – not because it’s a degrading job or anything, but because when I’m on stage I feel so much more connected to who I think I truly am. I just want to stay connected to the highest level myself can be and I think it comes through music. With that said, I’ll never stop wanting to sell out Madison Square Garden, so my goals are very simple, but they’re pretty big at the same time. I think Train fans who have watched the good and the bad, have been a part of all of it and have loved some of the music and not liked some of the music, are really going to like this record a lot — I think, much more than they have in years.”

Personally, I don’t think their fans have anything to worry about – so come on out and see for yourself how they’re doing as Train – with opening act Uncle Kracker (yes, kids, it’s ALL good) – bring their San Francisco-flavored brand of music to House Of Blues in N. Myrtle Beach, SC on Saturday, November 14, 2009. Doors open 7:30pm. For ticket info call 843-272-3000 or Ticketmaster 843-679-9333; or visit http://www.houseofblues.com or http://www.ticketmaster.com.
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This article was also published in Alternatives NewsMagazine, October 22, 2009 and is at their website under “Nightlife & Entertainment” at http://www.myrtlebeachalternatives.com.

 

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Guitar Superstar: An Interview with Steve Senes, Guitar Player Magazine’s Guitar Player of 2009


Steve Senes

By Brian M. Howle

As we discovered in the last issue, Murrells Inlet’s resident guitar laureate Steve Senes bested nine other of the best guitarists on the planet to take the prestigious Guitar Player Magazine’s “Guitar Superstar: Guitar Player of 2009” title in San Francisco, CA, on Sept. 12, 2009.

Hot off the big win, Steve flew back home and began sorting through the hectic and fruitful week, and began making plans for taking his good fortune to the next level – which, as any guitarist worth his chops will tell you, is to be signed by a major recording label. But before that happens, this very accessible and extremely down-to-earth young man took the time to grant me an interview.

Howle: So, tell me … how did this long, winding musical road begin for Steve Senes?
Senes: Well, it’s because I have the coolest parents in the whole world … they took my sister and me to see KISS in concert back in ‘77 … and that was my very first concert … and that was it, man! I fell in love with the band and music in general, and rock and roll in particular. My folks bought me a little acoustic and I just beat the hell out of it the first day, you know? (Laughs)
So then when I was 9 or 10, I started taking guitar lessons from a guy, but didn’t really stick with it at the time. But when I was about 15, my friend and I were walking thru our neighborhood – him with a bass, me with my acoustic, like we’re badasses, you know? And this guy sees us walking by and says, “Hey, come over here and let me show you how to play that thing!” Turned out he had a Fender amp and Stratocaster … he taught me a bar chord, and then a major scale, and I was off and running. I got my first electric guitar and amp not long after that, and it’s all been downhill from there! (Both laugh) Everyone gets exposed to music in a different way, but I think it was this guy showing me how to play rock & roll.
One of the first songs he taught me was The Cars’ “Just What I Needed”, and that turned out to be sorta prophetically cool because one of the guys from The Cars was one of the judges in the Guitar Superstar contest. So there I am, vying for this title, in front of a guy who recorded the first rock song I ever learned.

Howle: So what was the biggest influence on you, as far as the genre of music that really got your juices flowing?
Senes: When I was about 15, one of my friends turned me on to Alcatrazz’ Live Sentence , which featured Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar while we were setting up to play at a party. (For you neophytes: In 2007, Malmsteen was honored in the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II. Players can receive the “Yngwie Malmsteen” award by hitting 1000 or more notes in succession). I listened to that and thought, “Man, how the hell do you get a guitar to sound like that?”, and I focused from that point on, on teaching myself how to play in that vein. I played until my fingers were blue, and I realized, “Hey, I can play like that”, and from then on, I forgot about football and baseball and all that stuff I had been into before, and that was it, man! And I was a pretty good baseball player, you know? (Both laugh again)

Howle: Oh, and don’t I know that feeling well, as do a few other million guitarists. So when this fellow was teaching you guitar, did you learn to play be ear, or did you learn to read music?
Senes: Man, sometimes I don’t really know how the hell I learned or what I’m doing. I learned to play a lot of stuff by ear, like Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden or Mötley Crüe, because it’s really not all that complicated. But in order to grow as a musician, I knew I needed to learn the proper way. So when I graduated high school, I went to college and took music courses, and realized a lot of the things I had learned – in how to play – was basically wrong. So then I spent the next ten years or so unlearning that and reeducating myself the right way. But then I realized that pretty much took the rock ‘n roll out of it, and my way of playing and “feeling” it, you know .. so then I spent that time unlearning what I had learned in college, to get back to the way I really needed to play.

Howle: (Laughing) So that was a construction/deconstruction/reconstruction event?
Senes: Yeah, that’s pretty much the way it worked out!

Howle: I’ve seen you play several different types of guitar at your gigs here around the beach. What type of guitar do you prefer now?
Senes: The main ones I play now are made by ESP; the model is a Les Paul knockoff called the LTD EC-1000.

Howle: I first saw you playing a white Carvin, right?
Senes: Yeah, that was actually the electric that I learned on. But about a year or so ago, I found the ESP, and it really changed the way I play guitar. I have two of the them, and the sounds that come out of them when I play are amazing … I mean, there are harmonics and stuff that, in turn, bring out something else in my playing style that the other guitars just don’t evoke. It’s just a great sound that works for me in a very special way.

Steve had to stop for a few minutes to take a call from his buddy at ESP guitars (who flew up to San Francisco for the contest)…

Senes: Hey, that was my friend from ESP … just called to tell me he’s been having fun telling everyone that the guy who won the contest did it on a relatively inexpensive ESP … so now I’m in their official press kit!

Howle: Way cool! Sort of the whole idea of the fringe benefits of winning something like this, huh?
Senes: Actually, remember the guy I told you about, who saw my friend and I walking and taught me how to play? He works for PRS now (Paul Reed Smith guitars) as Quality Assurance Director.

Howle: Small world, huh?
Senes: Really! Anyway, what I was telling you about the ESP … when I was recording my CD, I would pick up any guitar and just do the same thing, you know, just shredding, running scales and stuff. But when I picked up the ESP for the first time, I started playing actual melody lines, you know? All kinds of new, different things started coming out, and I’m telling you, this guitar made it possible for me to make this CD.

Howle: What’s your songwriting process like? Do you have something set in your head, or do you just go in different directions and see what happens, or what?
Senes: It just depends on the material. I had one song on this CD , where I had this riff in my head for probably 7 or 8 years, but I never really sat down and worked the whole thing out. And then, like in “The Swami” there’s that intro loop; I just started that and liked it and then worked everything else around it. I remembered Steve Vai talking about how loops can be an inspiration for creativity. So when I got my gear that came with a bunch of different loops in it, I heard that one loop and started writing a solo over it.
Then I came back about a week later and started the middle break, and then the whole thing sorta wrote itself. And on another song, there was a drum loop that I sorta liked, and I got an idea for a bass line so I picked up the bass and started playing and did the whole bass line all the way through. And in two hours the whole song was completed and recorded. And them sometimes I’ll work on something for weeks and still never develop anything. It’s really weird … I wish I could come up with a reliable method for writing a song! But I guess it all works for the best …

Howle: Well, in my interviews with everyone from Lindsey Buckingham to Johnny Winter to Chubby Checker, the one thing that remains constant in all is that the best thing to do is stay true to yourself, and the way you are comfortable doing things … like they say, stick with who brung ya to the dance, you know?
Senes: And sometimes I’ll have a bass line, like one I had was an industrial sounding thing, and then I started fooling around with tempo changes and the next thing I knew, it had a funk groove to it. Like I said, I wish I could isolate whatever it is that makes it happen!

Howle: And then you could rule the world!
Senes: Exactly!

Howle: So how did you come about entering this contest, sponsored by Guitar Player Magazine?
Senes: Well, I read about it last year, and I thought about it, but I didn’t have anything prepared to submit for the entry process. And then this year I saw it again, and though, “Hey, what the hell,” and figured maybe someone at GPM would enjoy hearing something I played or something, never imagining I would be selected for the finals or anything. And one night at band practice (Steve is a member of Superswamp Heroes), I just mentioned in passing to the guys that I had entered this contest, and there was a date when they were having the finals and I said, “Hey, let’s leave this date open in the unlikely event I happen to get in or something”. And I had to set up an online account to submit the songs (a way to prevent a zillion wannabes who just picked up a guitar from cluttering the field with garbage) that required a fee, and they said finalists would be notified by Aug. 1.
Well, about Aug. 2 or so, I was getting a little tight on cash and was going to cancel that account to save the money. Now, when you click on the part to cancel, it prompts a box that says “Do you really want to cancel this account?” And I thought, “What the hell, it’s only 6 bucks and that’s not going to make or break me, so I’ll leave it there for a few more days.”
And not five minutes later, I got an email telling me that I had been selected for the finals.

Howle: Wow … that close to making a huge mistake, huh?
Senes: Yeah, and I can’t imagine how much I would have kicked myself for canceling and never knowing what would eventually come to pass.

Howle: How many people entered the contest? And how did GPM go about selecting the finalists?
Senes: One of their guys told me they got about 2,000 entries in all. And then the staff divided up the entries among them, and each one weeded out their choices and then they ended up with the Top 10 finalists .. and thank God, I was one of them.

Howle: Hey, when I’m out listening to musicians and I hear someone like you … I know you’re destined for bigger and better things. And it may sound a little odd, but I have to tell you, I’m really not surprised that you were selected – I’m happy for you and all, but I never doubted for a moment that you had that ability.
Senes: (In Steve’s typical, humble manner) Oh … well, you’re too kind .. thanks, man!

Howle: But, back to the details … what was the actual final, live competition like? How did that go down, and what was the time between when you played and when you learned the results?
Senes: Well, I flew out there a day early, to get acclimated to the time change and all and to be rested, so I got there on Thursday. And then I spent Friday practicing over and over, and then we went out Friday night and just hung out with all the other guitarists in the contest. And they were all just the coolest, nicest folks … I mean, really, nobody in the contest had an ego and it was just really cool.
So on Saturday, we all took the shuttle to the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center in Livermore, California (east of San Francisco) around noon for a soundcheck with the backing band. The contest is the centerpiece of Guitar Player LIVE!, a 3-day celebration of guitars, music, and gear.
We each had about half and hour to get our settings and stuff on our amps and dialing in our sound, you know, and I got the first half of the song, and then the second half, and then my time was done and I was just raw nerves by then. I mean, Ihear all the other guys doing their stuff and I’m wondering, “Man, what in the hell am I even doing here?”
Well, I was scheduled to go on last (out of 10), and I was up in the Green Room, and I had decided not to listen to anyone so as not to psyche myself out or anything, and then someone goes and turns on the TV up there and I was like, “Oh, great”. So I just put my headphones on and started practicing, and it seemed like every time I took them off, they were critiquing a contestant’s performance, and they would be ripping them apart (sorta like the American Idol format of judges), and that added to the nerves, but it was sorta like a Guitar Summer Camp. I mean, whenever they would rip someone, everyone else was like, “Hey, come on, man” … so there’s all the judges, and about 800 people at a sold-out theater, waiting for you to do your thing …
And then when I walked out on stage, all the nerves just went away. And the next thing I knew, five minutes had passed and I was playing like the best guitar I had ever played in my life!

Howle: Sounds like you were in the zone, huh?
Senes: Well, the crowd was so amazing … it was the first time in my life I felt a stage shake with the applause. Man, that’s better than any kind of buzz you can imagine!

Howle: Hey, I can relate to that … that symbiotic relationship with the crowd is what makes it so alluring. So with the backup band – did you have to provide charts to them, or what?
Senes: Well, they would take charts if you had them, but they said you could just submit MP3’s of your song and that’s what I did. One guy gave the band those, and then each member charted out their part. I can attest to how they did on the other guys’ stuff, but on mine, they were freakin’ unbelieveable.

Howle: I would think they would have to be, to take on 10 musician’s songs from a cold start and then play up to each one’s expectations.
Senes: Oh, easily, the best group of musicians I have ever had the good fortune to be on stage with. They were called “Thud Factor”, and man, they were just awesome.

Howle: Well, how long was it before you learned that you had won?
Senes: I was the last contestant to play, and I wandered outside to text message my dad, and when I came back it was just about ready … I’d say maybe 15 minutes from when I finished.

Howle: Oh … (Laughs) Oh, really? Hey, talk about your Karma justice … saving the best for last?
Senes: Actually, that’s what the guy from The Cars said – they saved the best for last!

Howle: I’ll say it again, Steve … I love ya, but honestly, I’m really not surprised that you won. You are really just that good, my friend.
Senes: Man, it’s disorienting to keep hearing that … all my friends say the same thing, and I’m wondering, “Man, am I the only one who’s surprised?” (Laughs)

Howle: And that’s what makes you so special, bud … So, what sort of things have been happening as a result of winning this puppy?
Senes: Man, it’s ongoing, but I’ve gotten some endorsements from Voodoo amps and Keeley effects … and I’ve been in touch with the guy that handles Gene Simmons … As far as goodies, let’s see … I got: • My choice of one of 3 Mesa/Boogie amps (I chose the Stiletto) • BC Rich Exotic Class Mockingbird in Spalted Maple • D’Addario Prize Package (dunno what’s in there) • My choice of a Seymour Duncan stompbox and pickup set • Voyage-Air Acoustic Guitar • Line 6 Spider IV 75 • Peterson StroboStomp 2 • N-Tune Tuners • Essential Sound Products – MusicCord PRO Power CordDean Markley Prize Package.

Howle: And when will this be in Guitar Player Magazine?
Senes: They print so far in advance, probably not until the first of the year, which is cool because that gives me more time to work on getting my CD mastered.

Howle: So what’s the long range goal now, bud?
Senes: Well, Superswamp Heroes is my main thing, you know .. what I’m really hoping for is to get a little money out of this, maybe get my name out there a little bit, and a recording deal would be nice … but really, whatever happens at this point is fine by me!

Howle: As it would be by all of us out here who are in your corner, Steve. Thanks for your time, and continued success in all of your endeavors.

And folks, that is what you get with this humble, grounded guitar wizard … an easy going attitude without the ego, and I just can’t say it enough … one of the nicest and most talented guys you will ever have the pleasure to meet.

So if you’re lucky enough to live in our little patch of Paradise, make a point to visit Steve’s website and then check out Superswamp Heroes (and his acoustic project, Pale Horse, which plays Wednesdays thru October at Bully’s in North Myrtle Beach). For further updates visit his MySpace site at http://www.myspace.com/9yu and his website at http://senesmusic.com
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This article also appears in Alternatives NewsMagazine, October 8, 2009 at http://www.myrtlebeachalternatives.com

 

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Bonnie Raitt’s Legendary Music Comes To House Of Blues October 17


Bonnie Raitt
By Brian M. Howle

The stats will tell you that her first breakthrough album was recorded in 1977, and the hit single was “Runaway”. But for me, the signature album was 1982’s Green Light, and the song that caught my ear was the uberbiographical “Me & The Boys”. And with that, I became a huge fan, and I have waited oh, these many years for this iconic musician to visit our fair little village by the sea.

And now my wait is finally over, and I invite you to join me as Bonnie Raitt – with extra-special treat opening act Randall Bramblett – comes to House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, SC on Saturday, October 17, 2009.

Here’s the background on Bonnie from her official website:

More than just a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer, and accomplished songwriter, Bonnie Raitt has become an institution in American music. The release of Souls Alike, her eighteenth album, marks yet another brave, exhilarating step in a legendary body of work.

Born to a musical family, the nine-time Grammy winner is the daughter of celebrated Broadway singer John Raitt (Carousel, Oklahoma!, The Pajama Game) and accomplished pianist/singer Marge Goddard. She was raised in Los Angeles in a climate of respect for the arts, Quaker traditions, and a commitment to social activism. A Stella guitar given to her as a Christmas present launched Bonnie on her creative journey at the age of eight. While growing up, though passionate about music from the start, she never considered that it would play a greater role than as one of her many growing interests.

In the late ‘60s, restless in Los Angeles, she moved east to Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a Harvard/Radcliffe student majoring in Social Relations and African Studies, she attended classes and immersed herself in the city’s turbulent cultural and political activities. “I couldn’t wait to get back to where there were folkies and the antiwar and civil rights movements,” she says. “There were so many great music and political scenes going on in the late ‘60s in Cambridge.” Also, she adds, with a laugh, “the ratio of guys to girls at Harvard was four to one, so all of those things were playing in my mind.”

Raitt was already deeply involved with folk music and the blues at that time. Exposure to the album Blues at Newport 1963 at age 14 had kindled her interest in blues and slide guitar, and between classes at Harvard she explored these and other styles in local coffeehouse gigs. Three years after entering college, Bonnie left to commit herself full-time to music, and shortly afterward found herself opening for surviving giants of the blues. From Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sippie Wallace, Son House, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker she learned first-hand lessons of life as well as invaluable techniques of performance.

“I’m certain that it was an incredible gift for me to not only be friends with some of the greatest blues people who’ve ever lived, but to learn how they played, how they sang, how they lived their lives, ran their marriages, and talked to their kids,” she says. “I was especially lucky as so many of them are no longer with us.”

Word spread quickly of the young redhaired blueswoman, her soulful, unaffected way of singing, and her uncanny insights into blues guitar. Warner Bros. tracked her down, signed her up, and in 1971 released her debut album, Bonnie Raitt. Her interpretations of classic blues by Robert Johnson and Sippie Wallace made a powerful critical impression, but the presence of intriguing tunes by contemporary songwriters, as well as several examples of her own writing, indicated that this artist would not be restricted to any one pigeonhole or style.

Over the next seven years she would record six albums. Give It Up, Takin’ My Time, Streetlights, and Home Plate were followed in 1977 by Sweet Forgiveness, which featured her first hit single, a gritty Memphis/R&B arrangement of Del Shannon’s “Runaway.” Three Grammy nominations followed in the 1980s, as she released The Glow, Green Light, and Nine Lives. A compilation of highlights from these Warner Bros. albums (plus two previously unreleased live duets) was released as The Bonnie Raitt Collection in 1990.

After forging an alliance with Capitol Records in 1989, Bonnie achieved new levels of popular and critical acclaim. She won four Grammy Awards in 1990—three for her Nick of Time album and one for her duet with John Lee Hooker on his breakthrough album, The Healer. Within weeks, Nick of Time shot to number one (it is now certified quintuple platinum). Luck of the Draw (1991, seven-times platinum) brought even more success, firing two hit singles— “Something to Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” —up the charts, and adding three more Grammys to her shelf. The double-platinum Longing in Their Hearts, released in 1994, featured the hit single “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” and was honored with a Grammy for Best Pop Album. It was followed in1995 by the live double CD and film Road Tested (now available on DVD).

After all the awards and honors and decades of virtually non-stop touring under her belt, Bonnie decided to take a break and enjoy some of the well-earned rewards of life off the road. Spending time biking, hiking, and doing yoga, enjoying family and friends, and traveling for fun instead of work brought her a great sense of renewal and purpose. Of course, she never really went too far away, continuing her activism and guesting on numerous friends’ records, including Ruth Brown, Charles Brown, Keb’ Mo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Bruce Cockburn, as well as tribute records for Richard Thompson, Lowell George, and Pete Seeger. She picked up another Grammy in 1996 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for her collaboration on “SRV Shuffle” from the all-star Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, and continued her “dual career,” performing with her father, John, in concerts as well as on his Grammy-nominated album, Broadway Legend, released in 1995.

In 1998, she returned to the studio with a new collaborative team to create Fundamental, one of her most exploratory projects, signaling her growing desire to “shake things up a bit.” Inspired by the music of Zimbabwean world-beat master Oliver Mtukudzi, Bonnie wrote “One Belief Away,” the first single, with Paul Brady and Dillon O’Brian.

In March of 2000, Bonnie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; this was followed by her welcome into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, along with her father, in June 2001. Over the years, Bonnie has appeared as a guest on over 100 album projects, as chronicled in the discography section of her official website. She continues to stretch the boundaries, performing with artists as varied as Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora, and legends B.B.King, Tony Bennett, and Willie Nelson.

All of Raitt’s experiences led her to Souls Alike, her first album ever to bear the credit “Produced by Bonnie Raitt.” The album, again recorded with her close-knit, beloved touring band and ace engineer/co-producer, Tchad Blake, is a collection of songs by lesser-known songwriters with whom Raitt feels a deep affinity and whose work she is eager to champion.

Featuring some surprising new directions and, as she describes them, “thorny, adult themes,” the ambitious and innovative Souls Alike reveals an extraordinary artist who’s never been content to rest on her laurels. “You gotta do stuff that stretches you,” Bonnie says. “I’d hang up my spurs if I didn’t have something new to play.” Sounds ranging from the stark fragility of “I Don’t Want Anything to Change” (written by Liz Rose, Stephanie Chapman, and Maia Sharp) to the swampy electronic loops behind John Capek and Marc Jordan’s “Deep Water” attest to Raitt’s desire to grow and find new things to say. The themes tackled in “The Bed I Made” (also by Batteau and Sharp) or Randall Bramblett and Davis Causey’s “God Was In The Water” are sophisticated, adult, and complex — hardly conventional material for pop songs.

“I Will Not Be Broken,” the Grammy-nominated lead single from Souls Alike (written by Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Tommy Sims, the team behind Silver Lining’s “I Can’t Help You Now” and Eric Clapton’s “Change the World”) reflects Raitt’s mindset during the making of the record. “There was an element of being pushed to the wall with what was going on in my personal life, my family crises—and then there was the election,” she says. “So that song was like an anthem for me, and for everybody that wants to feel like they can stand up to getting pushed around.”

Souls Alike debuted at #19 on the Billboard 200 in September 2005, eliciting widespread critical acclaim and propelling Raitt back onto the road. (She’s resumed the Green Highway eco-partnership she began on the Silver Lining tour.) On September 30, 2005, Raitt performed a special concert at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ, which aired as the premiere episode of VH1 Classic’s “Decades Rock Live” series. The innovative concert series pairs celebrated artists of rock and roll with some of today’s hottest recording acts who have been influenced and inspired by these legends.

Raitt has since been selected as the inaugural artist for the companion series of DVD/CD releases. VH1 Classic Decades Rock Live! Presents Bonnie Raitt and Friends Featuring Norah Jones, Ben Harper, Alison Krauss and Keb’Mo’ was released in August of 2006 and features never-before-seen performance and interview footage, including four duets not included in the VH1 Classic broadcast of the concert. With two hours of concert and interview footage, the concert which was filmed in Hi-Definition and is presented in 5.1 audio, features Raitt performing 17 songs with her longtime band – George Marinelli (guitar), James “Hutch” Hutchinson (bass), Ricky Fataar (drums) and Jon Cleary (keyboards). Included are such classic Raitt hits as “Something To Talk About,” “Love Letter” (with Mo’), “You” (with Krauss) and a knock-out encore of “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” with Raitt, Jones, Harper, Krauss and Mo’ as well as highlights from Souls Alike, including “I Will Not Be Broken,” “God Was In The Water”, “I Don’t Want Anything To Change” (with Jones) and “Unnecessarily Mercenary” (a duet with keyboardist Cleary, who wrote the song). The accompanying CD features 11 tracks, including the radio single “Two Lights In The Nighttime” (featuring Ben Harper).

These last few years have also brought some personal challenges as well. After a prolonged illness, her father passed away in early 2005; her mother died unexpectedly from complications from Alzheimer’s just months earlier; and in 2009, Bonnie’s brother finally succumbed to his battle with brain cancer which he valiantly fought with a macrobiotic diet program for eight years.

Bonnie continues to use her influence to affect the way music is perceived and appreciated in the world. In 1988, she co-founded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which works to improve royalties, financial conditions, and recognition for a whole generation of R&B pioneers to whom she feels we owe so much. In 1995, she initiated the Bonnie Raitt Guitar Project with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, currently running in 200 clubs around the world, to encourage underprivileged youth to play music as budgets for music instruction in the schools run dry.

So, for maximum bang for your buck, come spend a memorable evening as Bonnie Raitt – with opening act Randall Bramblett – brings her distinctive musical stylings to House Of Blues in N. Myrtle Beach, SC on Saturday, October 17, 2009. Doors open 7:00pm. For ticket info call 843-272-3000 or Ticketmaster 843-679-9333; or visit http://www.houseofblues.com or http://www.ticketmaster.com.
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This was originally published at: https://bhowle.wordpress.com.

 

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