News From Hemifran December 2016

Hemifrån is an independent A&R, promotion and marketing company, based in the heart of Sweden, specializing in, what they call, “gut music” – The kind of music that you can feel in your gut, no matter what. Hemifran is promoting a lot of singer-songwriter, westcoast-pop, country, AOR and more. Here are featured some of their latest news – it is not all west coast, but dig into it!

Steve Brooks – I´ll Take You Home

60 years ago, a young man and woman met at a roller rink outside Houston. Their love story, covering half a century and half the globe, provides the centerpiece for ”I’ll Take You Home”, the 5th full length album by singer songwriter Steve Brooks. Many of the songs explore the meanings of home, where we find it and how we keep it standing, against the twin winds of age and economy. As in the americana classic ”One Good Year”, which Steve wrote with Slaid Cleaves, his characters are chasing grace, in a world in which grace ain’t so easily found.

Some songs also reflect Brooks’ home for the past 25 years, Austin, the heartland of the Texas troubadour tradition. More than a few of those troubadours have written with Steve or recorded songs from his catalog. They include Cleaves, Christine Albert & Chris Gage, The Flyin’ As, Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus, Danny Santos and Oscar winning actor Russell Crowe.

At heart, Steve is a Guy Clark style storyteller, with the knack for turning phrases you’d expect from a former reporter for the New Orleans Times Picayune. He seasons with generous dashes of humor, honed by writing a satirical song-a-week for Jim Hightower’s syndicated radio show, and appearing on TV’s “I’ve Got a Secret” as 6 time World Pun Champion. Through many of his songs runs a strong spiritual current, a reflection of lay sermons he’s delivered at more than 30 Unitarian churches.

More than 70 folk and americana DJ’s have spun Steve’s last album, ”Chasing Grace”. Crowdfunded through the faith of more than 160 fans, ”I’ll Take You Home” promises to spread Steve’s songs even farther beyond the borders of Texas. More information at Hemifran.

Backtrack Blue Band – Way Back Home

On its new release, “Way Back Home”, the Backtrack Blues Band has delivered an exciting harp and guitar infused album that really hits the mark. The group has been one of Florida’s leading original blues acts for decades, and those years of performing have paid big dividends on this record. The solid grooves, stellar guitar, electrifying harmonica, and vocals make this CD one of the best blues releases of 2016. Reminiscent of the sounds of Paul Butterfield and the early Fabulous Thunderbirds, the songs on this record are true electric blues with lots of soul and energy.

Backtrack Blues Band has won 3 consecutive Tampa Bay Music Awards for ’Best Blues Band’ and has performed at festivals and concerts around the world with blues music legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Gregg Allman, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Winter and others. “Way Back Home” marks the band’s 5th album, and the critics have proclaimed it the band’s best work. More information at Hemifran.

Anna Fermin´s Trigger Gospel – You Belong Here

Anna Fermin’s Trigger Gospel is an all original americana, roots and country band based in Chicago, Illinois. Together nearly 20 years, they boast 5 previous critically acclaimed and well received releases. They have toured throughout the US and Europe, sharing the stage with an impressive roster of musicians including Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Robbie Fulks, David Crosby, Delbert McClinton, Neko Case and many more.

Named after and old western novel, Trigger Gospel’s 20 year history has seen a rotation of bandmates, mostly in the lead guitar position. But in recent years the americana group has returned to its original line up, formed in 1997, with Anna Fermin at the helm, Paul Bivans on drums, Michael Krayniak on bass, and Andon Davis on lead guitar. Alton Smith joined the group on keyboard and accordion a few years back, and has also worked with Fermin over the years on various projects away from Trigger Gospel.

Anna Fermin’s Trigger Gospel has come together, once again, with all the original members to record and release ”You Belong Here”, their first full length album in 8 years. In a recent write up in the Chicago Tribune, critic Greg Kot proclaims that Anna Fermin is ’a singer with a striking voice and a songwriter with a feel for the indelible image’.

”You Belong Here” features 9 songs penned by Trigger Gospel’s front-woman, Anna Fermin, and one song written by Texas songwriter Butch Hancock. The album was produced by Trigger Gospel, with assistance from multi instrumentalist John Rice, who has played on many recordings by notable folk and country artists, including John Prine and Jim Lauderdale. The record was engineered by Joe Dilillo at Solid Sound Studios in Hoffman Estates, IL, mixed by Mike Tholen, and mastered by Dave McNair. Prominent Chicago artist and writer Tony Fitzpatrick, who is a long time fan of the band, created and donated the cover art for the album.

Says Fermin, “It felt great to be back in the studio with Trigger Gospel after 8 years. We were all ready to make music together again. You can’t really say we were picking up where we left off, because in our time apart we all continued to work on different projects and grow in ways we wouldn’t have grown if we had only been working with each other. There’s a real connection between us that’s evident as soon we’re all in the same room, and I think it really translates in the music we make together”. More information at Hemifran.

Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch – Champagne Velvet

Based out of Dallas, TX, Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch is a high energy trio that blends jump blues, hard hitting rock, vintage soul, r’n’b and traces of 60’s country into a unique, but familiar, sound that always maintains the essence of the blues, while simultaneously offering a fresh take on the genre. Jason Elmore is uncommonly seamless in his ability to tailor his performance to suit the venue and demographic, without compromising the integrity of the band’s mission, which is to give 110% with every single performance, regardless of whether it’s 2 people or 2 000.

Having grown up with an obsession for all genres of American roots music, Elmore is remarkable in his ability to appeal to fans of all genres of music with his virtuoso level guitar playing, soulful and powerful old school vocals, and keen sense of songwriting. It is common to see an artist excel at one of those three things, but Jason is uncanny in his ability to express himself with an original and unique voice as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. All one needs to do is watch him play live one time in order to have a good understanding of how all of these different genres of music have a common thread when it comes to eliciting an emotional response from the listener and taking them to that special place where only the music exists and the troubles of the world are temporarily put on hold.

The band is currently set to release their 3rd full album, titled ”Champagne Velvet” on the Underworld Records label. The album is a slight change of direction from the band’s 2010 album “Upside Your Head” and 2013’s “Tell You What”, both of which featured a heavy emphasis on Texas rock and blues. ”Champagne Velvet” sees the band exploring their soul, blues, and country roots more in depth than before, with a sense of excitement and fire that is uncommon in the contemporary blues scene. It is a throwback to 1950’s jump blues, rockabilly, and Memphis soul. The guitar tones are cleaner, the bass and drums interplay with more dynamics and the grooves jump like a kangaroo on a hot sidewalk. All 13 original songs flow with an abundance of melody, harmony, and clever lyrics. At the same time, there is just enough variety to quench the thirst of fans of the more rock oriented material of past albums.

”Champagne Velvet” is like a road trip from Dallas, TX, to Memphis, TN, with a quick stop by the West Coast on the way. It perfectly captures the essence of the band doing what they do best, which is bringing unrestrained boogie to the party. So get ready to groove with Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch, baby, these boys can flat get it!. More information at Hemifran.

About the author

Good music enriches your life. At BLUE DESERT we are passionate about this particular yet wide-ranging style of music we call West Coast Music. This site is a modest tribute to the music and the performing artists, who through the (many) years have given us - and continue to give us - endless hours of musical enjoyment. As long-time fans we want to share our enthusiasm, experiences and views with fellow connoisseurs as well as curious newcomers. If we can do our bit to help promote this great music and all the gifted artist – well, then we have succeeded.