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Elmore Magazine Review

Too Sad for the Public
Vol. 1 – Oysters Ice Cream Lemonade

This is the new project from New York City artist and Grammy-winning producer Dick Connette, who has previously released four acclaimed albums based on American folk and popular traditions under the name Last Forever. This diverse music either continues or expands on that concept, employing four different lead singers and an ensemble of 17 musicians. Mashed up in the mix is Delta blues, folk music, jazz of Jaco Pastorius, go-go music of Chuck Brown, and even a creative combination of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” together with “Sweet Thing,” featuring the guitar of Astral Weeks standout, Jay Berliner.

Yes, the group name is a bit odd and belies much of the music. The story associated with it stems from a tune on the album called “Old Alabama” taken from bluesman William Moore’s 1928 tune, “Old Country Rock.” It consists of bluesy finger-picking behind a series of spoken imperatives. While many of those spoken passages were conventionally predictable, out of nowhere Moore exclaimed “Too sad, I mean, too sad for the public.” This, and many other interesting stories and anecdotes are included in musicologist Connette’s liner notes.

The album devotes most of its playing time to ’80s go-go music star, the D.C.-based Chuck Brown, who made a lasting impression on Connette when he played NYC’s Tramps in the ’80s. “Chuck Baby” runs for over 12 minutes, and you hear references to it in the opening track, “Prelude” as well.

Pastorius’ “Liberty City” is rendered in three parts, serving as interludes between the vocal pieces. Connette does not sing but defers to Suzzy Roche, Ana Egge, Rachelle Garniez, and Gabriel Kahane. Egge does both “Old Alabama” and the Van Morrison combo, “Young Loves to Love” while Roche takes lead on three of the eight vocal tunes. Strong instrumental contributions come from Chaim Tannenbaum (harmonica) and Rayna Gellert(fiddle).

The music is at times entrancing and dreamlike, but it keeps changing to the point where “Chuck Baby” may get you up and dancing. The Harvard-educated Connette has been writing music based on American folk traditions since 1992 but his palette that includes his own recording studio, label, work with choreographers, video and film makers, and theater artists. There’s tons of influences in his approach which, if you’re like me, will motivate you to not only go for repeated listens here but to seek out his catalog. Connette has a vision of American music that runs beyond the common genres into 20th Century classical, vaudeville, and even minstrelsy. Best yet, this is only Volume 1.

—Jim Hynes

Elmore Magazine Premieres "He's A Bad Boy" Featuring Suzzy Roche

Elmore Premiere: Suzzy Roche delivers “He’s A Bad Boy." Dick Connette's CD Too Sad For The Public makes us happy.
Songwriter/composer Dick Connette intended to major in Mathematics at Harvard, but was soon seduced into Music and American and English Literature studies. After graduating cum laude, he studied percussion (snare drum, marimba, tympani) ran his own Soho recording studio and worked as a freelance musician/composer. In 1997 Nonesuch released Connette’s the first (of four) Last Forever CDs, which the New York Times named one of the year’s top releases.

With Last Forever, Connette released four albums based on American folk and popular traditions. His new project, Too Sad for the Public, Vol. 1 – Oysters Ice Cream Lemonade, features six originals and two covers, with vocals by Suzzy Roche, Ana Egge, Rachel Garniez, and Gabriel Kahane, among others—17 artists in all. Elmore’s proud to premiere Suzzy Roche’s cover of Carole King’s “He’s a Bad Boy.”

Here’s what Connette told us about “He’s A Bad Boy,”: “Some years ago, I was trying to give John Cohen a taste of some music outside his accustomed folk fare, and played him this Goffin/King number. I had the temerity to think I should/could stretch him out some. He immediately identified the song as a take on ‘Stagger Lee.’ Well, dammit, he was right, of course, and I got schooled. Turns out Gerry Goffin was shook by the folk scare, primarily as embodied by Bob Dylan, and this was, evidently, an attempt to incorporate. King gave it a sort of Belafonte island/calypso vibe, hardly au courant, at best only recently passé, and part of that whole ’50s/’60s pop-folk-radio-roots movement, you know – The Weavers, The Limeliters, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary – that crowd. Whatever their intentions, Gerry and Carole reverted to (spectacular) form, and turned a bad man ballad into an expression of lovestruck teenage defiance. For my version, I put Lloyd Price front and back, and Frank Hutchinson in the middle, trying to keep the faith with whatever the fuck is going on here.”

Click HERE to read the story and listen to the song.

Dick Connette Shares His Musical Scope on ArtistDirect

Legendary singer songwriter on the influences behind his star-studded new sequence, "Too Sad For The Public"

Dick Connette is an artist whose name resonates amongst those in the Americana hall of fame. The humble, legendary, traveling musician has worked with a number of artists, like Loudon Wainwright III, and has inspired countless more.

Last Forever, a previous release of Connette's, gathered together four albums worth of American folk and other traditions to present a collection of material that captured the hearts and minds of genre aficionados.  Now, the New York songwriter returns with a new project - Too Sad For The Public, the first installment of which is called  Vol. 1 - Oysters Ice Cream Lemonade 

The new collection combines two covers (Carole King and Van Morrison), six originals, and tributes to Jaco Pastorius and go-go superstar Chuck Brown. The ensemble of 17 musicians includes Rayna Gellert, Chaim Tannenbaum, Erik Friedlander, Steve Elson, and Astral Weeks guitarist Jay Berliner.

With a wide-reaching spectrum of influences, Connette is an artist who has spent his years quietly becoming a point of reference in what it means to focus on the material, and let the music shine. ARTISTdirect caught up with Dick to ask about his musical memories, here's what he said...

Utne Reader Premieres Chaim Tannenbaum Video for America The Beautiful

In the immediate wake of Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, among other controversial policy moves, many Americans are struggling to come to terms with what it is that their country stands for. Musician Chaim Tannenbaum has responded to the rise of Trump with an encouraging reminder of the professed values upon which the United States of America was founded. Three days after the election Tannenbaum unveiled his version of “America the Beautiful,” which includes all of the original verses, to a captivated crowd in London. The reaction to his performance was so positive that Tannenbaum decided to record the song in the studio.

Speaking of his reasoning behind playing the song, Chaim explains, "In a former time, America was the hope of mankind. It promised no less than that life would be led freely and justly. For the sake of principles that would make such life manifest and durable, free men and women wearied themselves, took on lavish risk and suffered lavish injury. We had an idea, I, C.J. Camerieri (trumpet, french horn) and Marcus Rojas (euphonium, tuba), that by calling to mind that former time, we might give courage to ourselves and to others who might wish to recover its spirit and mandate.”

For the music video (below), Chaim collaborated with Robin Forte-Lincke to create “a video featuring images that portray what America has been, and, he hopes, could still be.”

Click HERE to read the full piece and watch the video

Song Premiere on WNYC Soundcheck

Soundcheck Weekly Music Roundup - Too Sad For The Public – New Project Remakes Old Songs

For many years, the producer, composer, and arranger Dick Connette has been creating music built on a wide variety of American traditions, from Cajun to blues to children’s rhymes. Working with the singer Sonya Cohen – daughter of John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers and niece of Pete Seeger – he released several albums of these songs under the name Last Forever. But Sonya passed away at age 50 in 2015. Since then, Connette has been working with a varied group of singers and musicians (including Suzzy RocheGabriel Kahane and others) on a project called Too Sad For The Public. The first album, called Vol. 1, Oysters Ice Cream Lemonade, is out on June 16. Here, he casts an even wider musical net; many of the songs are still based on traditional music, but one is built on the sounds of Washington DC Go Go music (more on that next week). This track, called “Young Loves To Love,” will immediately be familiar to fans of Van Morrison. With lead vocals by Ana Egge, it’s a medley of Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Sweet Thing,” featuring Jay Berliner on guitar (who played on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks album). More than a cover, though, it’s a typically personal take on these familiar songs, making them into something new and strange. 

Too Sad For The Public will spread the joy in a live setting this Friday, June 2, at Roulette in Brooklyn.

Click here to read the full piece and listen to the song

Dick Connette To Perform At Brooklyn's Roulette On June 2nd

Song Out! Folk 'N' Pop Fantasies Concert.  Curated By Avant-Garde Music Pioneer Meredith Monk

Appearing at Roulette, one night only, Friday, June 2 @ 8 pm, Rachelle Garniez, Dick Connette, and Mimi Goese will perform new songs, together with Karen Waltuch (viola), Steve Elson (reeds), Kevin Kuhn (guitar, banjo), and Derek Nievergelt (double bass), and featuring guest vocals by Ana Egge and Suzzy Roche.

Garniez will be presenting a set of her own songs, putting her particular spin on jazz, soul, and r ‘n’ b, with a band especially assembled for the occasion.

Connette and Goese will premiere a group of songs with text by Emily Dickinson. In addition, Connette, assisted by Ana Egge and Suzzy Roche, will present repertoire from both Last Forever and his latest project, Too Sad for the Public, whose first CD, Vol. 1 – Oysters Ice Cream Lemonade will be released on StorySound Records June 16.

Roulette is located at 509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn. For more information, tickets, go to roulette.org or call (917) 267-0363

New Release: Chaim Tannenbaum Sings America The Beautiful

It was at his show at the Proud Camden in London, only three days after one of the most shocking elections in US history that Chaim Tannenbaum decided to unveil his version of America The Beautiful. Still reeling from the election results, the audience was left overwhelmed simply by the pure emotion and sincerity Tannenbaum expressed behind every word. The performance stood as an encouraging reminder that now more than ever must the core values and spirit America was founded on not be forgotten. The couplets at the end of the last two verses below instilled the powerful and relevant message into the minds of the audience.

America, America,
God shed his grace on thee 
Till selfish gain no longer stain 
The banner of the free.

and

America, America. 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till nobler men keep once again 
Thy shining jubilee.

A few weeks after the Proud Camden show, in a New Jersey concert with Loudon Wainwright III, Chaim again sang America the Beautiful. Wainwright was so moved by the performance that he encouraged him to record it. So Chaim, together with producer/StorySound label head Dick Connette, immediately went to work to record and release a studio version.

As Chaim explains the reasoning behind his performance and recording of the song, "In a former time, America was the hope of mankind. We had an idea, I, C.J. Camerieri (trumpet, french horn) and Marcus Rojas (euphonium, tuba), that by calling to mind that former time, we might give courage to ourselves and to others who might wish to recover its spirit and mandate."

Loudon Wainwright III "Surviving Twin" Comes To London

Loudon Wainwright III performs his stage show "Surviving Twin" for the first time in the UK at London's Leicester Theatre March 9 - 12.

“Surviving Twin” is a posthumous collaboration in which connects some of his best songs with the writing of his late father Loudon Wainwright Jr, the esteemed LIFE Magazine columnist. The performance is a game of creative catch between son and father, exploring issues like birth, loss, parenthood, fashion, pet ownership, and mortality. “Surviving Twin” has never been previously performed in the UK.

“The sardonically humorous singer-songwriter delivers a moving meditation on father/son relationships.”  The Hollywood Reporter

“…a bristling, acerbic, ultimately affecting family album of a show, with father-son resentments, hostilities and resemblances laid out for all to see, alongside the love and self-loathing.”  New York Times

Purchase Tickets

Loudon Wainwright III song "I Had A Dream" included in Rolling Stone's 13 Great Anti-Trump Protest Songs

Dozens of artists have responded to Trump's rise with new or reworked songs of defiance. HERE are some of the most powerful. 

 

No Depression Review

Rayna Gellert's Hard Work Pays Off
by Rachel Cholst

January 27, 2017

Rayna Gellert's Workin's Too Hard is a little long to be an EP and shorter than an album, but it says a lot more than most. Gellert is perhaps best known for her work in the roots band Uncle Earl. I don't know too much about this corner of Americana, though, and the seven songs on Workin's Too Hard is enough keep Gellert on my radar.

The album was recorded in a single room with, according to the photo on the inside jacket, with the musicians just inches from each other. This intimacy can be felt throughout the songs. While most of them are slow-paced, the uptempo "I'm Bound for the Promised Land" allows the band to let loose a bunch of energy. However, it's in the first six tracks that they truly spread out and shine. From the get-go with "Workin's Too Hard," Gellert's all-too-human narrators fill us with empathy and warmth, even as we immerse ourselves in their pain. These songs feel timeless but are truly distinctive. It's a beautiful compilation and I'm excited to go deeper into Gellert's catalog.

Speaking of the jacket, if you're into this kind of thing, the design on the physical album is beautiful. From the understated style of the jacket to the dirty fingerprints on the CD itself, the same amount of care and craftsmanship that went into the music can be found in the album. The whole project is intimate, earthy, and human -- things we all need in the coming years.

To see the full review and listen to the track Workin's Too Hard go to: No Depression

Bluegrass Situation Premieres "Grey Bird"

Listen to the track "Grey Bird" from Rayna Gellert's new album Workin's Too Hard.

"We thought the album was done and dusted, ready to master, and then 'Grey Bird' came flying in. Kieran and I, in the instant inspired, finished it sitting in the studio, and then we all chased down the arrangement together. Working with such versatile musicians makes it hard to narrow down the options. But as soon as I heard the octave-mando-and-electric-guitar combination, I knew we'd captured it." -- Rayna Gellert

THE BLUEGRASS SITUATION: The home of everything bluegrass, folk, and Americana

Chaim Tannenbaum Makes MOJO Best Folk Albums 2016 List

Congratulations to Chaim and producer Dick Connette!

Rayna Gellert to Release New Album and Tour UK In January

On Old Light: Songs from my Childhood & Other Gone Worlds, old-time fiddler Rayna Gellert first established herself as a songwriter and vocalist. Workin’s Too Hard (available January 27), her new collection of original and traditional songs, carries that promise forward, along a tradition now of her own devising, and demonstrates how deep immersion in our musical past can point the way toward the future of American music. She developed the album in collaboration with co-producer Kieran Kane, multi-instrumentalist Kai Welch (Abigail Washburn, Bobby Bare Jr.), and drummer Jamie Dick (Rhiannon Giddens, Joan Shelley). Recorded old school live in one room by Grammy-winning engineer Charles Yingling (Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard), the sound of Workin’s Too Hard is as warm, intimate, and deep as the songs themselves.

Workin's Too Hard - UK Tour 2017

Fri 20th Jan - Whitstable Sessions, Whitstable, Kent
Sun 22nd Jan - Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge, Wales
Wed 25th Jan- Manorbier, Pembrokeshires, Wales 
Thurs 26th Jan - Green Note, London    
Sat 28th Jan - Square & Compass, Worth Matravers, Dorset 
Wed 1st Feb - Strule Arts Centre Omagh  
Thurs 2nd Feb - Council Chamber Hall Bangor   
Fri 3rd Feb - Market Place Theatre Armagh  
Sat 4th Feb - Roe Valley Arts Centre Limavady  
Sun 5th Feb - Black Box Belfast    

Review of Loudon Wainwright III London Palladium Concert

Loudon Wainwright III, London Palladium
The singer-songwriter joyfully hymns five generations of his family (and trashes Trump)
by Jasper Rees

Loudon Wainwright III, a going concern as a singer-songwriter since the start of the Seventies, has long since been occluded by the commercial success of his brood, Martha and Rufus. Their old man is still enough of a draw to pack out the Palladium with just a guitar, a banjo and a back catalogue of cranky songs only he could have composed.

For subject matter Wainwright has tended to commute, he cheerfully conceded, along a well-trodden path between “shitty relationships” and “death and decay”. There was a bit of both here – a compulsory outing for “Unhappy Anniversary” and his medical comedy song “The Doctor”. Both themes mordantly combined in “The Morgue” from his most recent release Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet). The song gleefully pictures the deceased on the slab, slain by “a guilty conscience and a broken heart”. How we laughed.

But most of this set was a loving and epic paean to family spanning five generations from grandparents to grandchildren. In winks and glances, it even told the story of the North American century. In “Half Fist”, reflecting on the grandfather he never met, Wainwright rhymed “Loudon” with “World War One” and “shotgun”. There was a lovely story about the tour of Alaska recently undertaken by a bunch of Wainwrights, segueing into “The Wainwright Family Adventure” in which Rufus’s switch in sexual preference was scrunched into a couplet: “once was a tit man/Now checks pecs out at the gym”. “What family isn’t insane?” crooned the clan patriarch in “All in the Family”, reflecting on parental failures.

The figure who loomed over the evening was Wainwright’s father, who in his time was an eminence at Life magazine. His fame was “kind of a drag”, grumbled his son, whose patricidal instincts have mutated into fond respect for a master craftsman. Three times the singing stopped as Loudon Wainwright III allowed Loudon Wainwright Jr to step forward and speak again through him via long stretches of his Life column “The View from Here”. The first was about birth – the singer’s own in hospital on the same night as a much older expectant father heard that his own first child was stillborn. The last was an immensely touching paean to the family pooch. 

With his face an ever-changing canvas of writhing grimaces and wacko tongue wags, Wainwright’s instinct is to make his audience chortle like coyotes. “Election Song” was a typically surreal assault on Donald Trump, who in a nightmare vision makes “My Ding-a-Ling” the national anthem and carpet-bombs Montreal (where Wainwright’s kids were brought up by their mother Kate McGarrigle). But he can also conjure up melancholy without his old man’s help. “I’m Back in Your Town” opened the set and established an undertow of sorrow beneath the jaunty veneer. There was a lovely elegy to an old Carolina troubadour in “Charlie’s Last Song” and a thoughtful memorial to Hank Williams in “Hank and Fred”.

As for the music, Wainwright made light of his touch. “Don’t know what I’m worried about,” he said as he tuned his guitar. “You can’t tell.” His Grammy for best traditional record he modestly dismissed as “category 57 behind best poker record”. But he picked and strummed folk tunes of bracing originality, mingling blues swoops and country licks and, when his hilarious long-term sidekick Chaim Tennenbaum sauntered on, sprinkles of bluegrass banjo plus gorgeous close harmonies.

This was a lovely memoir in song and spoken word. In his dotage, is the old man growing sentimental? “We’re too old to die young,” he said, “but we can dream, can’t we?” May he dream on and on.

Chaim Tannenbaum To Play London In November

At the conclusion of his UK tour opening for Loudon Wainwright III, Chaim Tannenbaum will play a solo show Friday, November 11 at Proud Camden in London.  The show presented by The Nest Collective will feature Chaim performing songs from his selt-titled debut album with special guests Kate St. John, Neill MacColl and Dick Connette. 

Purchase tickets HERE

StorySound Live: Excursions Into American Song at The Yard on Martha's Vinyard

StorySound Live: Excursions Into American Song
Featuring the music of Dick Connette, Rayna Gellert, and Chaim Tannenbaum with Kevin Kehrberg, Kevin Kuhn, and Nathaniel Smith
For one night only Friday, September 16 at The Yard on Martha's Vinyard.
Click HERE for more information and tickets

Dick Connette and Folk is led by composer Dick Connette, whose "conceptual vision stands at a crossroads between composed "serious" music and the wide horizons of American folk music," (Sam Sutherland). His works merge American folk and popular music. StorySound Records, founded by Dick Connette, is a small NYC label, focussed on song, rooted in American folk and popular music. Since 2009 it has released 15 CDs, including Loudon Wainwright III’s Grammy-winning High Wide & Handsome. The shows will feature songs by Dick, Rayna Gellert, and Chaim Tannenbaum, all StorySound artists. The group has been assembled especially for The Yard, and all of the performances will be premieres.

Chaim Tannenbaum Four Star Review in The Guardian U.K.

It’s a no-nonsense, charming and compelling affair. At 68, he’s a new folk hero. 4-Stars!

Read the entire review HERE

Chaim Tannenbaum To Open For Loudon Wainwright III On Tour Of U.K.

Chaim Tannenbaum will tour the U.K. this fall in support of his new self-titled release.

October

Thu 13             Cambridge              Corn Exchange      
Fri   14             Manchester             BWH                      
Sat  15             Bexhill                    De La Warr Pav  
Mon 17            Bristol                    St. Georges Hall        
Tue  18            Birmingham           Town Hall              
Thu   20           Milton Keynes         The Stables            
Fri     21           London                   The Palladium       
Sun   23           Liverpool                 Philharmonic                   
Mon   24          Gateshead              Sage                      
Tue   25           York                        Barbican                
Thu   27           Sheffield                 Memorial Hall        
Sat    29           Glasgow                  RCH  
Mon   31          Cork                       Opera House

November

Tue   1             Limerick                 Limetree Theatre
Wed  2             Belfast                   Mandela Hall
Sat   5              Galway                  Seapoint          
Sun  6              Dublin                    Vicar Street      

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