News From Hemifran November 2017, December 2017 & January 2018

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!

Calle Karlsson – Pappa/Ett Stilla Regn

More information at Hemifran.

Mojo Monkeys – Swerve On

Labels don’t stick easily to the Mojo Monkeys, a groove greasing Los Angeles trio of veteran musicians who filter swampy New Orleans grooves, Bakersfield honky tonk and Texas swing through distinctly Angeleno sensibilities. Their 3rd album, ”Swerve On”, testifies to the improvisational verve that makes their shows such infectious, dance floor packing fun. Band leader and drummer Dave Raven, bassist Taras Prodaniuk and guitarist Billy Watts 1st discovered their kinetic musical chemistry while backing Tower Of Power vocalist Hubert Tubbs in a funk band 20 years ago. Since then, between them, they’ve accompanied a who’s who list of americana and rock artists, including Eric Burdon, Merle Haggard, Teresa James, Kris Kristofferson, Shelby Lynne, Mike Ness, Bonnie Raitt, Richard Thompson, John Trudell, Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams. That depth of rootsy musicality infuses ”Swerve On”, which displays more stylistic diversity than 1999’s ”Hang” or 2010’s ”Blessings & Curses”. More information at Hemifran.

Hayward Williams – Pretenders

Hayward Williams is a veteran singer songwriter from Milwaukee, WI. With 6 full length records under his belt, Williams is set to release his latest effort, ”Pretenders”. This record is yet another swan dive into the deep end of the americana and soul world that Hayward tends to reside in. Growing up in Wisconsin in the 80’s and 90’s convinced Hayward Williams to search for something more out there in the world. Foregoing higher education, he joined a band and learned much about what to do and what not to do in the Midwest music scene. More information at Hemifran.

Katie Giribaldi – Home Sweet Christmas

Katie Garibaldi is a San Francisco, CA, based singer, songwriter and guitar player who has been releasing music independently for about half of her life, thus far. Her multi award winning music video “Delightful”, standout song from her 2016 release “Rooted Clarity”, is currently screening at film festivals around the world. She was recently featured on notable magazine Acoustic Guitar with a video performance sharing her songcraft. Elmore Magazine describes Garibaldi’s sound as, “sweet, smooth music that is equal parts old school, pop princess and folk songstress”.

The songwriter has a characteristic musical style wherein her country tinged dreamy folk gives her a distinct sound, ethereal americana with sparkling memorable melodies. Though, this prolific artist continues to stretch the boundaries of any genre’s walls with her new full length album this holiday, ”Home Sweet Christmas”, a collection of original Christmas songs that embrace Garibaldi’s operatic vocal prowess and soulful folky affection, but also songs that branch out into traditional country and even gospel atmosphere. More information at Hemifran.

Whiter Ward – The Ancor

Whitherward is a full time indie folk touring trio out of the United States. It began with the partnership between Nashville songwriters, Ashley E Norton and Edward A Williams, and now the addition of violinist Stephanie Groot. The group decided to hit the road permanently, embarking on several multi week tours, never settling anywhere and living to play music they love for people who love music. Compared to a modern day Simon & Garfunkel, or maybe The Civil Wars, with influences of rock, folk, jazz, classical and singer songwriter. Whitherwrd is touring with their 5th album release and multiple music videos. More information at Hemifran.

Keegan McInroe – A Good Old Fashioned Protest

Keegan McInroe is a Texas based writer and musician. Raised in Lubbock, TX, he moved to Fort Worth in 2001, where he attended and graduated from Texas Christian University with degrees in religion and philosophy in 2005. While at university, Keegan began playing music in bars, and in 2003, he helped found the band Catfish Whiskey. The band called it quits in 2009. A professional musician since 2006, McInroe now troubadours primarily as a solo artist. Since 2012, he spends about half of each year playing everything from house concerts to music festivals all across Europe, and splitting his time back home in the States, between Fort Worth, Dublin, TX, and the road. His music weaves threads from old country, old blues and folk together with his own unique voice and perspective, creating an original tapestry of American roots music, earthy and lyric driven. More information at Hemifran.

Zachary Richard – Gombo

Singer, songwriter, poet, cultural activist, environmentalist, Zachary Richard is best known as recording artist and performer. With 20 albums on his roster, including several gold and platinum albums, his musical career is international. In 1996, Zachary Richard founded Action Cadienne, a non profit organization devoted to the promotion of the Acadian culture and French language of Louisiana. In March, 1997, he is decorated Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of the Republic of France. That same year, he is initiated into the Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique by the government of Québec. In the course of his career he has received 4 honorary doctorates from the University of Moncton, New Brunswick, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, l’Université Ste Anne, Nova Scotia, and the University of Ottawa, Canada. More information at Hemifran.

Todd Kessler – About Memory

Todd Kessler has quite a story, and, with all the memories floating around in his head, perhaps it makes sense that his new album, scheduled for release late this year, is entitled ”About Memory”. With precision and grace, Kessler seeks to make sense of the past, while looking pensively into the future. Appropriately, ”About Memory” finds Kessler going back to his roots, producing a timeless folk sound, with hints of alt rock and classic americana. Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Todd Kessler was always singing. He began playing the trumpet at 9 years old, but by 12, he’d fallen in love with the guitar and began writing his own songs. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in music theory and composition, Kessler began work on his first LP, ”We Are the Musicmakers”. The album was released in 2006 and led to a series of gigs across Chicago. More information at Hemifran.

Emily Herring – Gliding

Emily Herring simply sings purest country music. Witness ”Gliding”, Herring’s 4th record, produced by legendary instrumentalist Steve Fishell and releasing on Austin based Eight 30 Records, delivers all raw emotion with a voice branded at birth for honkytonks. Listen. You’ll hear. The daytime auto mechanic and nighttime singer songwriter effortlessly infuses her new collection with equal measures swagger and sway. “I found an immediate connection with Emily”, Fishell says. “Her voice rings like Rosie Flores did in the 1980’s when I played with her during the Los Angeles cowpunk movement. She has that energy and fire”. More information at Hemifran.

Rupert Wates – The Lights Of Paris

Rupert Wates was born in London and has been based, since 2007, in New York City and Colorado. He averages 120 live shows a year, in every state in the US, in Canada and Europe. He has won well over 30 songwriting and performing awards. In the last 3 years alone, 2 tribute albums to his material have been recorded, ‘Crazy Puzzle’ in 2015, by Nashville based performer Roxie Rogers, and ‘Wide Open Heart’ in 2017, by Los Angeles vocalist Susan Kohler. Rupert Wates’s 9th solo album takes an unflinching look at the dangers, disillusionments and cruelties of today’s world, in which “The Lights Of Paris” offer a symbol of love, beauty and hope. On this disc, Wates’s signature sound has been reduced to the essentials of his voice and distinctive fingerstyle guitar, with color added by virtuoso musicians Adrianna Mateo, violin, and Brian Sanders, cello, in string arrangements by Grammy nominated John Guari. To preserve the warmth and spontaneity of a live performance, the album was recorded live in the studio in just 2 days. Singing with the voice of the timeless balladeer, Wates takes us song by song on a journey through the shadows that threaten to engulf us, towards the faint but still glowing lights. More information at Hemifran.

Beth Wimmer – Bookmark

In late 2017, Beth Wimmer releases her 4th full-length album, ”Bookmark”. ”Bookmark”, Wimmer’s 1st new collection in 6 years, offers 9 original songs, and one fantasy fulfilled of covering the late David Bowie’s ”Starman”. As usual, Wimmer changes up her styles and energies, and the tunes’ various stories are playful, intelligent, revealing and hopeful. Sometimes dreamlike, sometimes presented by different characters seemingly residing within Wimmer, ”Bookmark” burns with guitar based grooves, ambience, infectious rhythms, and Wimmer’s mature vocal delivery. ”Bookmark” is co-produced by guitarist Billy Watts (Mojo Monkeys, Eric Burdon, Jennifer Warnes) together with Wimmer, and features lush, expert, storytelling guitar work from Watts, and the irresistible solid fun rhythm section of David Raven on drums (Mojo Monkeys, Keith Richards, Jim Lauderdale, Norah Jones) and Taras Prodaniuk on bass (Mojo Monkeys, Richard Thompson, Lucinda Williams). More information at Hemifran.

Matthew O´Neill – Trophic Cascade

Matthew O’Neill’s ”Trophic Cascade” is the debut release from Underwater Panther Coalition. O’Neill found acclaim with the ”Campfire Cook” LP issued in 2015 via California’s Lone Pine Records, and was praised by LA Weekly, CMJ, Magnet Magazine and others. Returning with ”Trophic Cascade”, we see a more driven and determined O’Neill. Offering a more sophisticated record that’s bigger, bolder and more ambitious, he charts sonic territories unimaginable to listeners of his earlier works. Having spent much of his early years living nomadically in National Forests and on Indian reservations, and working seasons on isolated farms and ranches, O’Neill’s worldview and experiences are full of contradictions, and these can he heard on this gorgeously eclectic new LP. More information at Hemifran.

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst – Some Times Jesse James

With Steven Casper at the helm on lead guitar and vocals, he and his band, Cowboy Angst, get tighter every year. In 2013 they were recognized by Country Music Television, CMT, who called their song, “Trouble” a ’recommended americana track’. In 2015 they were declared, ’one of the hottest unsigned bands’ by Music Connection Magazine. Now Steven Casper and the boys are back with ”Sometimes Jesse James”, his 8th recording and his 7th production with Ira Ingber (Bob Dylan, Van Dyke Parks). The members of Cowboy Angst are well known studio musicians and longtime members of this band. John McDuffie on electric and classical guitar, pedal steel and lap steel, as well as co-writing a song on the album, Carl Byron on electric and acoustic piano, accordion, and B3 organ, Herb Deitlebaum on bass, Jay Nowac on drums. Ingber not only co-produces with Casper, but also lends additional guitar, keyboard, percussion, bass, dulcimer, cittern, and backing vocals. More information at Hemifran.

Scott Kirby – Chasing Hemingway´s Ghost

As Scott Kirby prepares to release his 8th CD, ”Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost”, he continues to perform over 100 shows each year, across North America, as well as taking the stage at his own club in Key West, when taking a break from touring. Kirby joined friends in 2012 to open the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, a 200 seat music club best known for hosting the Key West Songwriters’ Festival, the largest songwriters’ festival in the world. A creative lyricist and accomplished finger style guitarist with an expressive voice, Kirby describes himself as a direct descendent of the 70’s folk rock singer songwriter movement. In fact in 2009, Kirby was lucky enough to record his 6th album with veteran session players Leland Sklar, Dean Parks and Russ Kunkel, a trio that played on many of the iconic albums of that era. Kunkel also produced Kirby’s ”Row Me Home” and co-wrote 4 of the songs on the CD. More information at Hemifran.

Michelle Lewis – The Part Of Us That Still Remain

Michelle Lewis writes joyful songs that make you cry, and sad songs that leave you smiling. Her music is rich with melody, her lyrics find beauty in sadness. As a storyteller, she writes intensely visual songs that explore the defining moments in burgeoning and breaking relationships. More polished than folk and more personal than pop, Michelle’s songwriting is uniquely intimate. Her single, ” Run Run Run,” found huge popularity among Boston Marathon runners and was featured on the national cable broadcast of the race. The song’s music video amassed more than 100 000 views in its first month and has more than 300 000 to date. More information at Hemifran.

Gregg Stewart – S.T.

Gregg Stewart grew up in the meadowlands of northern New Jersey in a small trailer park, nestled among the factories that bring you Chips Ahoy cookies, Yoohoo chocolate beverages and Matchbox cars. He received his 1st guitar from a family friend at the age of 14, and after spending a humiliating amount of time trying to teach himself, he was lucky enough to meet and be mentored by the most musically talented high school dropouts in the state. More information at Hemifran.

Gregg Stewart – Twentysixteen

Gregg says, “I’d meet them every night after school at the local laundromat to learn new songs. We’d drop a couple quarters in the dryer to keep the place warm, unplug a couple washing machines, plug in our practice amps and start playing. To this day, I can trace the majority of my song sense and playing skills back to these guys, and my time in the laundromat”. At 16, Gregg moved to California to complete high school and pursue a career in art, but instead found himself working the factories of Ontario. During his stint as a forklift driver, Gregg began playing in a local punk band made up of fellow factory workers and all aspirations of an art career were soon abandoned. At age 22 he signed his first publishing deal with EMI Blackwood Publishing and spent a year writing songs for them and collaborating in the Los Angeles songwriter scene. While writing for other artists around town, he helped form a female fronted rock, pop and soul act that soon signed to Elektra Records. Gregg describes his time in a band on a major label as ’my college education in the music industry’. More information at Hemifran.

Bodinrocker – Roller Coaster Ride

Anders Bodin, alias Bodinrocker, has been there before. At a tivoli in Towyn. By boat passing Isle of Man. With a packed lunch at the archery club in Ampthill. On the last bus in the middle of the week to the campsite in Shankill. In the sun on a sandy beach of Harwich or Rosslaire. Or just at any forgotten celtic ruin during a typical green rainfall. The new single ”Roller Coaster Ride” will be released November 3rd, 2017. And it proves it all. One more trip with Bodinrocker to the boogie sound of the British islands. Classic riffs and catchy melodies. This time in company with Klas Anderhell, drums, Stefan Deland, bass, and Lars Ekberg, keyboards. The lyrics are written by Jan Leentjes on yellow post-it notes in Sommelsdijk. Along with ”Vacation” this is another teaser from the album ”Eye To Eye” that will be released in early 2018. More information at Hemifran.

Ground Level Falcons – The New Wilderness Vol. 1

Hailing from the blue collar, hockey town of Edmonton, Canada, the recently 3 piece Ground Level Falcons have seen their fair share of changes in the last year. One of the founding members, lead guitarist Adrian Armitage, left the group for family reasons this past July. Adrian’s replacement, Brent Whitford, tragically passed away a month later, he was only 33 years old. The album release was in tribute to Brent. He was a type 2 diabetic, the cause of his passing. On a side note, the band will be donating any online LP sales to the Canadian Diabetes Foundation moving forward. Another founding member, bassist Greg Kolodychuk, took a leave of absence from the group after the release of the latest album “The New Wilderness”. Greg is getting married in mid October, him and his bride to be are expecting their first born in early November. More information at Hemifran.

Judy Nazemetz – Balancing Act

Judy Nazemetz’ new album “Balancing Act” is the followup to Judy’s celebrated 2014 breakthrough release “Variety Pak”. “Balancing Act” features 12 new songs, done with Judy’s unique sense of humor, though to be honest, there are a couple of serious songs, as well. Her songs address a range of subjects including lousy drivers, that first cup of coffee, mortality, hanging clothes on the line, arrogance, a stick of butter, the rising tide, literally, love, and senior moments. Did I mention senior moments? And, it wouldn’t be a Judy album if it didn’t have a bunch of different genres, country, jazz, folk, reggae, gospel, Jimmy Buffett-esque, yes, that’s a genre, I googled it, and a special holiday tune sung by mrs Claus. More information at Hemifran.

Kelsea Ballerini – Unapologetically

Growing up means never apologizing for who you are, and what you’ve been through. And for Kelsea Ballerini, one of country music’s new voices, growing up also meant having the courage to put it all, the loss, the love and the highs and lows of life, into song. The result? ”Unapologetically”, Ballerini’s sophomore album, a collection of songs, all which she wrote or co-wrote, as on her gold certified debut ”The First Time”, meant to share her experiences over the past two years like a sonic journal, inviting listeners to open the book of her story and listen along. From the first notes of “Graveyard” to the concluding chorus of “Legends”, ”Unapologetically” is a snapshot of Ballerini’s life since the release of ”The First Time”, all told through songs that push country’s boundaries and reveal just how personal the Grammy nominee’s writing can be. Though it could have been easy for Ballerini to just collect a loose selection of hits, she decided to make an ’intentional album’ instead, carefully curating tracks that unfolded within the record as her own musical documentary in 3 parts. It’s not the norm to write albums this way, nor is it easy, but Ballerini goes with what is in her heart. More information at Hemifran.

Lelle Dahlberg – These Words Are True

I was born in the rural outback of Bureå, Sweden, to hard working parents. My mother Siri worked with caring for the elders, and and my father Torsten worked the vast forests of Västerbotten. The one who inspired me to take up music from the very beginning, was my grandfather on my mothers side, Kalle Markström. He played the guitar, the fiddle and sometimes he sang. I think I must have been about 10 years old when I started to investigate grandpa’s beautiful Levin archtop guitar. Got my first own guitar a few years later and eventually started playing alongside a couple of friends and we formed a band, The Sailors. I wrote my 1st song when I was 13, and after that there has been hundreds and hundreds more, some where I have written both music and lyrics, some are co-writes, and some just lyrics for the music of others. A couple of hundred has been recorded by artists and bands and has topped the Swedish charts. Now, I have finally decided to release a few of my own songs on an album, this time under my own name, or rather, Lelle Dahlberg. More information at Hemifran.

Sebastian Caldas Zeballos – Nowruz

Sebastián Caldas Zeballos was born in Uruguay in 1977. He moved to Sweden at the age of 2. He started playing classical guitar in Malmö at the age of 9 and knew very early that he would dedicate the rest of his life to music. His formal education was first in Spain where he studied with maestro Marco Socias at Musikene, The Higher School Of Music Of The Basque Country. There he got a higher diploma in music with classical guitar as specialty in musical performance in 2006. In 2004 he was awarded with 2nd prize in the International Guitar Competition Of Azpiazu in the duos modality, in San Sebastián, Spain. He has got master degree from Piteå Musikhögskola at the Master Program in Music Performance with Jan-Olof Eriksson. 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.