News From Hemifran February 2017

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!

Will T. Massey – 30 Years In The Rearview

I traded my shotgun for studio time, to a guy who lived on the edge of town, that was one. Some guys from Austin and I travelled out to West Texas. There was an older fiddle player with me, and a negro woman. That was two. Jesse Taylor and I did some studio work together out in Lubbock. A bunch of other people were involved, that was three. I met Bruce Springsteen, making four, in L.A. I still owe him money for some studio time. 5 and 6 were solo’s. The objective was to have some relationship with an audience. I got the Sexton brothers together on 7, back in a big studio. The Eastside Flash and I got together on 8, comfortable, cerebral working, crafted instrumentation, rootsy. Lost a love and made number 9. Lost a friend working on it. Dig it. Others, you know I’m spinning ’em.” ~ Will T Massey. More information at Hemifran.

Lowland And Friends – Play Townes Van Zandt´s Last Set

In 2012 we invited friends from around Pavia to make an album for the centennial of Woody Guthrie’s birth. It was a fun way to make music with friends and local bands we love, while paying tribute to one of the greats. In 2016 with a few more band and solo albums under our belt we decided to record Townes’ last ever setlist and to invite friends we had played and recorded with from around the world. We had no budget and every single guest played for free as we recorded this in livingrooms and kitchens, studios and rehearsal rooms. Someone even made a contribution over the phone. Musicians from Austin to Melbourne, from Stockholm to Southend on Sea, from Philadelphia to Pavia. We treated Townes’ songs not as relics but as living and breathing beings and we mixed them up till we smiled. To tie all the various contributions together we needed someone special and we got him. Ex-Borderline manager, legendary tour manager and DJ, Barry Marshall-Everitt was the only man I would have trusted to bring it together. We love his radio work and thought it would be cool to present this as a radio session. Rome based Route 61 Music adopted this album and my thanks goes to Ermanno Labianca for opening his doors to us for this album. I am proud of the album and so grateful to all involved, both past and present Lowlands members as well as all the guests. We hope you enjoy listening to this as much as we enjoyed recording it. Thanks.” ~ Edward Abbiati, Lowlands. More information at Hemifran.

Jardier – S.T.

The self titled album from Jardier. More information at Hemifran.

Anton Walgrave – Where Ocean Meet

Anton Walgrave is a man who creates music. He sings and he plays, because this world needs singing and playing. Anton tells a story. A story that resulted in 8 albums so far, in a career that’s over 16 years. No 2 albums the same, never the same process of making them. This brought Anton from the large record companies, to smaller labels, and to self released albums. ”Where Oceans Meet” is the newest result of this, and once again the proof of a restless willfulness.

Just as Walgrave is following his own path, he tries to get closer and closer to his audience. Literally so, the album was record live, in front of an audience. 2 recording sessions in 2 nights, in the breathtaking scenery of an 18th century chapel just outside of Brussels. Anton played the album in its entirety, with the help of a string quartet, guitars, vocals and electronics. With top class engineer Staf Verbeeck and in front of the cameras. More than ever connected to the people listening, because of the intimate music and the overwhelming setting.

The people present contributed to these nights in a more active way as well. They could choose to co-finance the recordings, for whatever amount they considered right. Others can just buy the album on the website, also for what they choose to pay. Same counts for the shows Anton plays. Touring together with his companion de route Jelle Van Den Bergh with just their folding bikes and trains, from living room to living room, every time being able to actually meet his audience. Not in the spotlights, but really between the people. DIY and peer-to-peer are the somewhat cold terms for this, but the reality is all the more warm. ‘Sharing possibilities’ is how Anton calls it, people share their living rooms, he shares his music, the audience shares the possibility for him to keep making that music. Because the concerts also work on the pay-what-you-want principle. Moreover, the whole financial background is available on the website, because Anton sees no reason not to be open about that. Small scale thinking, proximity, sustainability, affordability, trust, that’s what it’s all about to Walgrave. That is his path.

Just like the way of working, the album is about connection. About the love that ties every one of us together, even if many seem to have forgotten that. It’s a connection that Anton tries to establish with his music and his concerts. Anton Walgrave has been on the road for more than 16 years. That’s what he loves doing. And arriving, that’s not what it’s about. More information at Hemifran.

Eileen Kozloff – Just Words

An award winning artist, for her singing, songwriting and instrumental work, Eileen Kozloff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been actively involved in the autoharp world for nearly a quarter of a century. She is best known for her unique pick-less style of diatonic autoharp and for her soaring vocals, stunning harmonies and commanding performances. Her ability to compose, play and sing in a wide range of genres has made her a versatile festival performer and workshop teacher.

In addition to performing at festivals, concerts and dance venues, Eileen has appeared live on numerous radio and television broadcasts, and for several years she was a rostered artist with the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Artist In Residence program. In the winter of 2012, Eileen performed and taught workshops at 2 Australian Folk Festivals, Cygnet, in Tasmania, and Illawara, in Wollongong. A return tour of Australia is now planned for 2017.

Her extensive repertoire is a rich mix of old time chestnuts, Carter Family songs and her original compositions, which stylistically run the gamut from country, blues and folk, to jazz and even rock’n’roll. The Old Time Herald calls her approach “emotive, clear and controlled, reminiscent of the best of the revivialists, such as Joan Baez or Anne Hills”, and her performances “heartfelt, with ravishing, wide ranging vocals”.

Eileen’s recordings have garnered stellar reviews and her discography includes 2 critically acclaimed CD’s with her former band, Well Tempered String Band, as well as 3 solo efforts, “Solitary Rider”, “Hearts & Souls Entwined”, and her forthcoming 3rd solo CD “Just Words”, which is scheduled for release in early 2017. More information at Hemifran.

Lorin Hart – Love Come Back

Lorin Hart has been writing songs about basic issues of love and trouble for most of the time since she left the snowy pastures of Northwestern University and dove into the whirlpools of Haight Ashbury, Woodstock, Cambridge, Greenwich Village, Coconut Grove and Fayetteville, Arkansas. After years of partnering with her guitar slinger husband, and running around briefly with the likes of Tim Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Phil Oaks, Country Joe Macdonald and Lucinda Williams, they split up and she kept half the debt, her guitar and the kids.

She recorded her 1st solo CD ”Breathe” with Hal Blaine and Don Randy of the famed Wrecking Crew some years back, which brought her air play around the country, as she continued writing while finishing raising up her spectacular children. She has now released her 2nd album ”Love Come Back”, featuring Jim Keltner, and looking forward to many more years of finding ways to tell her story in song. The famed Paul Zollo would have her tell you she is also the grandaughter of renown early silver screen stars, John Gilbert and Leatrice Joy. More information at Hemifran.

Steve McNaughton – Eagles Aloft

Australian artist Steve McNaughton has earned high praise as one of Sydney’s best contemporary songwriters whilst achieving independent chart success and overseas airplay. His music varies from solid radio friendly hooks, to passionate, upfront and personal material. He has been writing songs for over 20 years and performing with different artists and bands around Sydney for nearly as many. Steve launched his 1st album ‘Hardly Softly Rock’ in 1999, and as the name suggests it was an album with an impressive blend of solid rock and sweeter US westcoast rock. Several of the singles on the album, particularly ‘Hold Me Tonight’ and ‘Stalingrad Still Stands’ gained both massive local and overseas radio airplay and spent many weeks in the top 10 of the Ison Live Radio Top 50 chart. With 2 duets on the album, one featuring legendary Aussie rocker John Swan, and the other blues vocalist Jenny Lang, the album quickly sold out the original CD run.

In 2007 Steve released his 2nd album ‘Storm Chaser’ full of songs with solid radio friendly hooks and some definite groove and attitude. The opening title track ‘Storm Chaser’, was inspired by Scott Currens, and other American storm chasers. It is a high energy rock song that fully captures the fury of nature when the plains turn violent across the United States’ mid-west. Skope TV and radio magazine has been full of praise for this album and provide the following glowing tribute, “Steve McNaughton’s ‘Storm Chaser’ is an earth moving experience. If you turn on the CD and close your eyes you could almost mistake his vocals for the legendary Elvis Costello. There seems to be a clear influence from that era. The CD is full of up tempo contagious tunes. The instrumentation is a good companion to solid, well written lyrics and the production takes some interesting turns, with killer background vocals that really drive a couple of the songs”.

Now we have his latest album ‘Eagles Aloft’, his best album by far. With this album, Steve has taken a huge leap into the contemporary country scene using US westcoast artists, some americana and Nashville influences, for inspiration. The result is a slick album of crossover country and soft rock, earning rave reviews from highly credible sources. Donna Wilson from the Nashville Examiner not only gave the album a 5 gold star rating, but states “ this is one album you absolutely must have in your collection”.

Douglas Garnett from Skope Magazine and Radio, heaps praise on the album and is full of superlatives with these quotations, on some of the stand out tracks, “’Cross Country’ is the first track from the new album by Steve McNaughton, titled ‘Eagles Aloft’. Bluegrass is the first thing that comes to mind, americana with roots in country. The players are top notch and the production is perfect for jukeboxes in pubs all across the beltway. ‘One More Shot’ steps things up a notch, with an upbeat driving guitar and some gypsy like fiddling. ‘Floating’ has a Tom Petty type of feeling to it. This song is a story driven track with a soulful organ guiding the vocals. Even Steve’s voice sounds like mr Petty at times throughout the song. The vocal harmonies are great and the guitar solo shows a lot of restraint. My stand out track on the album is ‘When You’ve Got It Good’ sounding like a cross between Eagles and Heartbreakers. Americana is the best way to describe it. Pop for the golden age of radio”. More information at Hemifran.

Jon Strider – Soul Reunion

This ”Soul Reunion” album has Jon Strider coming full circle in his musical, and personal, life. Indeed, it is a departure from his ’rhythm’n’folk’ and ’retro rockin’ country’ recordings released between 1990 and 2015. Growing up in Berkeley, CA, in the 1960’s, Jon was exposed to many styles of music, but was particularly taken by r’n’b, soul music and blues. He thought it was high time that he made a recording that celebrated this music, and tapped his more soulful side. 4 years in the making, Jon sincerely hopes you’ll enjoy this fantastic album.

Unlike many of Strider’s albums, ”Soul Reunion” is keyboarda and vocals driven, rather than guitar driven. This gives the record a beautifully warm, yet still powerful and soulful. sonic texture. Jon’s eloquent piano playing swims beautifully with Skip Edward’s compositional hammond b3 performances. Based in L.A., Skip has played on thousands of top drawer records, among them albums by Dixie Chicks, Bonnie Raitt, Roy Orbison, Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakam, kd lang and Ike Turner. The project’s other stand-out is Mariam Ucharu. To imagine this recording without her background vocal contribution is simply unimaginable. It also must be noted, that Jon is singing, producing and arranging, better than ever. All these factors, along with top drawer musicians, and Emil Isaksson’s engineering prowess, assure that the goods are delivered, no doubt about it. And, Indiana and Nashville based mastering whiz, Paul Mahern, makes absolutely sure that the promise of ”Soul Reunion” is fully realized. 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.