Shy Kid Blues Could Be A Candidate For One Of 2014′s Best New Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  Hullabaloo Music

Courtesy: Hullabaloo Music

In an age when audiences seem to be increasingly fickle in their musical tastes, any band that reaches anything more than three albums released should consider itself/himself/herself very lucky. For such bands, groups, or artists to reach eleven albums released is a landmark. It’s even more of a landmark for those that are classified under the children’s music genre. This Spring, the two-man act known as Hullabaloo will hit that landmark when it releases its eleventh full length album, Shy Kid Blues. The album is another great addition to the children’s music scene in 2014. The first reason for that is the album’s format. Those that have perhaps heard fellow children’s entertainers Josh and the Jamtones’ 2013 album Bear Hunt! will notice a similarity in the story-telling style of the album. Another reason the album is such a great addition to this year’s crop of children’s albums are the positive messages delivered through the story. And last but definitely not least is the album’s overall country/rockabilly style sound. The three factors noted here collectively make Shy Kids Blues a potential candidate to be one of this critic’s top ten new children’s albums of the year by year’s end. It’s still early. But it could end up on that list as enjoyable as it is.

The primary reason that Shy Kid Blues is such a great addition to this year’s crop of new children’s albums is its format. The format of this album is one of a story-telling nature. Those that have heard Josh and the Jamtones’ 2013 album Bear Hunt! will recognize that familiar story-telling format on this record, too. The difference is that whereas Josh and the Jamtones used a classic children’s poem/song as the basis for their album, Hullabaloo—Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer—have actually crafted a wholly original story in its latest release. Denyes and Kremer have crafted a story in Shy Kid Blues that follows two childhood friends as they grow up together and help each other overcome their own shyness and become who they always knew they could be underneath. That is another part of what makes this album such a great addition to this year’s crop of children’s albums. It will be discussed later. Getting back to the album’s overall story and format, the story itself is original. One could almost see this story playing out in its entirety in short form on screen. It almost begs to be made into a full story put to video. It would be an interesting story to see happen should anyone consider making it.

The story presented in Shy Kid Blues and the story’s format are together the foundation of this outstanding album. Sitting atop that solid foundation is another reason for this album’s ease of enjoyment. That reason is the album’s collective positive messages. Shy Kid Blues boasts at least two positive messages over the course of its two dozen songs. The positive messages embedded in the album’s story are messages of friendship and of self-confidence. The message of friendship is presented through the story of Steve and Brendan. The two boys were born mere weeks apart from one another. And while they were born so close together in time, they turned out to be two entirely different people.   One was really shy. The other was the total opposite. Interestingly enough, despite their differences, the two became fast friends when they got older. And they stayed friends well into their adult lives. They stayed friends because they didn’t let their differences keep them from being friends. Instead it made them stronger because they supported the other emotionally. This is a wonderful message for young listeners to take in. It shows true friendships can weather anything as long as friends don’t’ let their differences tear one another apart.

The second message presented in Shy Kid Blues is one of self-confidence. As the story progresses, listeners learn that as extroverted as he was, Brendan turned out to be very shy in his own way. He was afraid of singing in front of everyone . So Steve supported Brendan much the same way Brendan supported him. He told Brendan how great a singer Brendan was. Together, the two built each other. They helped one another believe more in themselves. This in turn helped their friendship to remain strong even into their adult years. It is yet another positive message presented by the real life Steve and Brendan. Together with the wonderful message of friendship, it proves once more why Shy Kid Blues is such a great addition to this year’s crop of new children’s albums.

The positive messages shared through Shy Kid Blues make this album all the more solid for listeners of all ages. Together with the story and its presentation style, it makes Shy Kid Blues all the more solid an album. There is still one more factor in this album that makes it such a great addition to this year’s crop of new children’s albums. That final factor is the album’s musical styling. Shy Kid Blues largely boasts a country/rockabilly sound throughout the course of its two dozen total tracks. There are some tracks that move a bit more to the left of center. But by and large, the album’s sound is more centered in country and rockabilly. Making the sound even more enjoyable is that the songs that boast a more country vibe are more along the lines of classic country. Listeners more familiar with the world of classic country can hear influences from the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and even Hank Williams, Sr. to a lesser extent. Put simply, it is a great introduction to the world of country music for those wanting to initiate their young listeners into that world. So not only is it a way to entertain listeners, but it also serves as an introduction potentially to a whole new musical world. It is the last part of the whole that is Shy Kid Blues, proving once and for all why this album is not only another great addition to this year’s crop of new children’s albums, but also a potential candidate for this critic’s final year-end list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

Shy Kid Blues will be available Tuesday, May 27th. Audiences can order the duo’s new album via its website, http://www.hullabalooband.com and through CD Baby at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/Hullabaloo. While there, audiences can check in on the band and get all of the latest news, tour updates and more from Hullabaloo, too. Audiences can also keep up with Hullabaloo via Facebook and Twitter at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hullabaloo/220028144692974 and http://twitter.com/hullabaloosteve. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Jennings’ New Album More “Solid Country Gold”

Courtesy:  Entertainment One Music

Courtesy: Entertainment One Music

The year is still young.  But this critic’s list of candidates for the year’s best albums is already beginning to fill up quickly.  The Slide Brothers and Experience Hendrix, Inc. have already made the case to be candidates with their new releases.  Now another album has made the case to be not just on the list of the year’s best albums, but also the year’s best Country Music albums.  It’s Shooter Jennings’ new album, The Other Life

The Other Life is proof that one should never judge a book (or a CD) by its cover.  At first glance, one glance at the artwork for Shooter’s new album might lead some to believe that this album is going to be much like that of Black Ribbons, which he recorded with the members of Hierophant.  The artwork used throughout the album’s packaging is quite similar to images used throughout albums released by Tool.  But one listen through this album reveals something quite different.  What listeners get in this latest release from one of Outlaw Country’s best is eleven radio ready and easily accessible country songs. Every listener will find something especially entertaining from this album’s song list.  Every song carries a familiar vibe from Shooter’s previous LPs.  But they don’t sound like the songs from his previous releases.  In simple terms, each song on this album is an original work similar to his previous songs in feeling only.  One of the album’s brightest shining moments comes halfway through the album in the song, ‘Outlaw You.’ 

‘Outlaw You’ is bound to become a fan favorite both on the record and at live shows.  It is a defiant stance against so much pop country that tries to call itself pure country.  Jennings sings loud and proud in this song, “Hey pretty boy/With the baseball hat/Couldn’t hit country with a baseball bat/Country ain’t just about where you’re at/It’s about being true/To what’s inside of you/You say you’re an outlaw/With the perfect boots/That you got from the record label’s image group/Sing another man’s song/With a big drum loop/Listen, son/You ain’t got a clue/You can’t buy true/I’ll tell you what they should do/They should outlaw you!”  This echoes the sentiment of Jennings’ fellow Outlaw Country artist, Hank III.  Hank III wrote a similar song some time ago about how so much pop country tries to masquerade as real country.  This song is one more that any country purist will surely appreciate and enjoy as it has the exact same true emotion.

While it may not seem like it at first listen, but another high point of this LP is its penultimate track, ’15 Million Light Years Away (featuring Jim Dandy).  Dandy’s vocals are so rich and vibrant here.  They make for an excellent counterpart to that of Jennings.  And the guitar solos thrown in will almost sure lead to thoughts of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Lyrically, it comes across as a social commentary of sorts, with the duo singing about the legal system being perverted and of everything in the world being in a state contrary to what it should be.  The musical backing helps to set the song’s mood, too with its slower, minor sound.  It stands out unlike anything else on the record.

Perhaps the most intriguing song on The Other Life is its closer, ‘The Gunslinger.’  What makes it so intriguing is its musical side.  It starts out like any pure country song, with an acoustic guitar and soft, gentle vocals.  From there, it proceeds to crescendo to something totally different with its mix of electronics and sax part eventually ending the song.  Forget the lyrical side here.  This is a song that simply must be experienced solely for its musical side.  It’s an unlikely candidate to be one of the album’s high points.  But because it is also so different from anything else on the record, it is one of those songs that will lead to discussion for its ingenuity.  In turn, the discussions that it is sure to raise will prove why it is one of the so many high points of this album.  Put simply, every song on this album will appeal to country purists and country music fans in general.  There is not one bad moment throughout the course of this record.  Every song creates a wholly different feel within itself and its listeners with every listen.  And that is something rare at this point in the music industry.  The album will be available in stores, Tuesday, March 12th.  Before it drops though, Jennings will hit the road in support of the new album, beginning March 6th in Miami Florida on the Kid Rock Cruise.  From there, he will perform at the annual SXSW Festival in Austin, TX on March 12th and 13th.  Fans in North Carolina will also get their chance to see Shooter live.  He will be performing at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, April 16th and on Friday, May 24th at Gus’ Bar in Jacksonville, NC.  Audiences can get a full tour rundown and all the latest news and more from Jennings on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ShooterJennings and http://www.ShooterJennings.com

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Shooter Jennings Releases Album Release, Tour Dates

Courtesy:  Entertainment One Nashville

Courtesy: Entertainment One Nashville

Second generation country artist Shooter Jennings is set to release his new album, The Other Life on Tuesday, March 12th.  The new album—his fifth full length studio release—will be released via Black Country Rock/Entertainment One Nashville.  In anticipation of the upcoming release, Jennings has officially released the second single from the new album.  The new single is titled ‘Wild & Lonesome.’  It is a full-on acoustic piece in which Jennings duets with fellow musician Patti Griffin.  Griffin is just one of a handful of guests that make an appearance on the new album.  He has brought along a group of musicians who he dubbed “The Triple Crown” in recording this album.  “The Triple Crown” is famed jazz pianist Erik Deutsch, guitarist Chris Masterson, drummer Tony Leone, bassist Jeff Hill, and pedal steel player Jon Graboff.

Along with the release of the new single, Jennings has revealed the current slate of dates for his upcoming tour in support of The Other Life.  Jennings’ North Carolina fans will get not one but two chances to see him live in person during his tour.  He will make a stop at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, April 16th and another in Jacksonville, NC on Friday, May 24th at Gus’ Bar.  The whole tour kicks off on Wednesday, March 6th in Miami, Florida aboard the Kid Rock Cruise.  After returning from the cruise, Jennings will be performing at the annual SXSW Festival on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 12th and 13th.  The tour runs through Thursday, June 13th

As one can see, Shooter Jennings is going to be quite the busy person this Spring and Summer with the release of his new album and a supporting tour.  That’s not all that he’s doing though.  He is also set to co-produce a film based on the life of his legendary outlaw country father, Waylon Jennings.  The as-yet untitled film is expected to go into production in 2014.  It will allegedly focus on his father’s groundbreaking years when he went toe-to-toe against the Nashville establishment and his own personal demons to be the face of a whole new genre of country.  The film has the blessing of both Jessi Coulter and the Jennings estate.    

To get more information on Jennings’ upcoming film and his full list of tour dates and more, go online to http://www.facebook.com/ShooterJennings and “Like” it or his official website, http://www.shooterjennings.com.

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Jennings Shows His Talent, Originality Again On New LP

Courtesy:  Black Country Rock/Entertainment One

Courtesy: Black Country Rock/Entertainment One

Shooter Jennings is one of the most underrated individuals in the music industry today.  The son of music royalty, Jennings has made his own identity throughout his career, making music the way that he has wanted.  The result is two impressive modern country albums and an equally impressive and brave experiment in the form of his previous record, Black Ribbons.  When Jennings released Black Ribbons, the initial reaction was mixed.  But it showed his versatility and thus not only kept most of his audience, but also brought in a whole new faction of fans.  Now on his most recent release, Family Man, Jennings has shown just as much versatility.

Family Man bears little resemblance, if any, to Shooter Jennings’ previous recordings.  Its opener, ‘The Real Me’ is classic outlaw country with a touch of blues mixed in.  Lyrically, it’s classic Shooter right along the lines of fellow outlaw country artists Hank Williams Jr., and Hank III.  The song’s chorus is the best evidence of that.  He sings in the song’s chorus, “I’m a double-talkin’/Chicken-lickin’/Meaner than the Dickens/Sick and wicked/Hole-diggin’, pickin’/Son of a gun/And I’ll love you like the devil/Bite you like a snake/And then forsake and break/Everything I don’t take before I am done.”  The chorus itself is lyrically the heart of this song.  But it’s the lyrical delivery of the chorus that makes it really hit.  It’s almost a rap style delivery, for lack of better wording.  Just hearing Shooter deliver the chorus in this manner is impressive.  It’s something that audiences have rarely heard from him.  Set against the rest of the song it simply stands out and makes the song that much more enjoyable.

Shooter shows more of his outlaw country side in the album’s opener.  But he doesn’t stay in his safe zone on this record.  He branches out, showing quite the mix of influences time and again.  Just one example of that bag of musical influences is the album’s lead single, ‘The Dollar & The Deed.’  Jennings’ vocal style set against the music makes for an interesting combination of Bob Dylan meets Kenny Rogers mixed with a modern country love song.  Stylistically speaking, Jennings’ vocal style in ‘The Deed & The Dollar’ invokes images of Bob Dylan.  Coming from a musical standpoint, this song is classic country all the way.  One of the best comparisons that can be made is to the likes of Kenny Rogers.  Lyrically, the song is a good fit for any happy couple or hopeful happy couple to be.  He sings, “She’s got a special way/Makes me happy every day/What do the old folks say…When I feel alone/She reminds me that there’s always tomorrow/I kinda wonder if she knows/My sun comes up/Just to hear her call.”  If that’s not the basis for a romance, it’s anyone’s guess what is.  And with Valentine’s Day already right around the corner, this would make for a fitting song to set a romantic mood.

Shooter gets soft at times on his new album.  But he also shows that he’s got that outlaw still in him later in the album in the song, ‘Family Tree.’  This is not just country.  It’s pure outlaw country and is bound to become one of his biggest hits with fans both on the album in live.  He sings in this song, “We’re southern by God/Our name is mud/We’ve got each other’s backs/Cause we’ve got the same blood/Let the stock market crash/Cause we’ll always be free/We may be trash/But we’re family.” Simply put, this is an anthem for Shooter’s fans.  It will light a fire under his fans and have them singing along and pumping their fists with pride at every one of his shows.  And it’s just one more example of that makes this new album yet another success from one of this generation’s greatest all around musicians.

Jennings recently wrapped up his most recent tour in support of this album and is currently putting the finishing touches on a new album that’s due out in early 2013.  Fans can keep up with his progress online at his official website, http://www.blackcountryrock.org/shooterjennings and his official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ShooterJennings.

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Peter Green & Co. Bring Back The Best Of The Blues On New Compilation

Courtesy: eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records

The blues is one of the purest forms of American music that exists, next to jazz.  The blues is the root of so much of the most popular music throughout the ages.  Elvis, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and AC/DC all have their music steeped in this classic music, just to name a handful of acts.  Along with those acts, fans might recognize the name of former Fleetwood Mac front man Peter Green among the masses of blues fans out there, too.  Green and his band, Peter Green Splinter Group, have a brand new record out now titled, “Blues Don’t Change.” 

“Blues Don’t Change” is a wonderful record that longtime fans will love more and more with every listen.  The record opens with a cover of Robert Johnson’s timeless classic, ‘I Believe My Time Ain’t’ Long.’  The song brings up memories of a dusty, darkly lit blues club.  It’s almost a musical time capsule.  Green’s musicianship takes listeners back in time with this opener, paying homage to one of the greatest names in the blues.  There is also a rendition of Muddy waters’ famed twelve bar blues hit, ‘Honey Bee.’  Again, it has that quiet intensity for which old school blues is known.  It has that same feeling as ‘I Believe My Time Ain’t Long.’

‘Little Red Rooster’ is another great addition to this new compilation of blues hits.  The gritty feel of the vocals and subtlety of the classic Willie Dixon piece will keep listeners in that musical time warp, back to the days of the old juke joints that dotted the country’s landscape. 

For all the slower pieces on this record, “Blues Don’t Change” does change up here and there.  ‘Don’t Start Me Talking’ is just as impressive as every other piece on the record.  It’s noticeably more up-tempo than other pieces.  But it doesn’t lose any of the flare of the original in Green’s interpretation. 

“Blues Don’t Change” is loaded with so many incredible blues standards that it would take far too long to go into all eleven songs in the playlist.  Needless to say, this record is more than just a compilation of songs.  It’s a musical history lesson of one of America’s greatest musical genres.  “Blues Don’t Change” is available both in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online at http://www.eagle-rock.com.

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