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Shane Yellowbird – Rising Star (Update)

by Jim Poulton

In November, 2011 the 12th Annual Native American Music Awards (Nammys) were announced at a gala show and concert in New York. Check out their website for all of the artists who were honored. In my book, though, one artist who really stood out was Shane Yellowbird.

Yellowbird grew up in Hobbema, Alberta and is Cree. He exploded onto the country music scene in 2006 with the release of his debut album Life is Calling My Name. The album garnered Yellowbird four top ten singles and a host of awards, including Rising Star of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards, Best Country Recording at the Nammys, and Aboriginal Entertainer of the Year at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards (APCMA).

Pickup Truck, one of the songs from Life is Calling My Name, reached the top 5 in Canada in the summer of 2007. Backed by excellent musicians, Yellowbird has a mellow, confident voice, an easy demeanor, and a great sense of humor. He’s fun to listen to – it’s easy to see why he made a splash.

Yellowbird released his second album, It’s About Time, in 2009, and again he nabbed a bunch of awards (including Best Country Recording at the Nammys and Single of the Year, Country Album of the Year, and Male Entertainer of the Year at APCMA). Two songs on the album, Bare Feet on the Blacktop and Watching You Walk Away, reached the top ten in the Canadian Country Music charts. On the strength of his second album, Yellowbird was the subject of a documentary by director Antonio Hyrnchuk. The 30-minute television special chronicled the days leading up to Yellowbird’s debut performance at the Grand Ole Opry in November of 2009:

Take a listen to Bare Feet on the Blacktop. A rousing song with great instrumentation (an impeccable mix of country and bluegrass flatpicking – listen especially to the guitars), Yellowbird displays his easy ability to paint compelling visual images with his lyrics.


In March of 2012, Yellowbird released a single video of his song Sedona, Arizona. Here's a teaser for the video (warning, it ends half way through):

And here's a new YouTube recording of one of his best songs, I Get That a Lot These Days:

Check out Yellowbird at his website.


Gary Clark - The Savior of the Blues

By Jim Poulton

Credit: GaryClarkJr.comMany of you probably already know about Gary Clark, but I was just introduced to him. Hailing from Austin, Texas, Clark has taken the rock and blues world by storm. He was heralded by Rolling Stone as “the best young gun” and by the Seattle Weekly as “a musical force to be reckoned with, a serious songwriter and a [expletive deleted] of a guitar player,” and he deserves every accolade you could ever dream up. His guitar playing is a combination of Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robin Trower, with a solid blues foundation and overtones of rock and jazz. His licks are as tasty as a cold beer on a hot Texas day, and he’ll either soothe you with his mellow and spacious falsetto, or kick your butt with his driving, writhin’ blues.  They say that Austin’s blues scene is the best in the West. If so, Gary Clark is the best of the best.

Here are three selections for you, showing off the incredible range of his style.


The Rhine’s Own Cowboys - The Boss Hoss

By Bennett Owen

Credit: tonspionRhine as in Rhine River. These cowboys from Berlin are hugely popular in Germany, and are selling out concerts through much of Central Europe and Britain with their blend of country, rockabilly boogie and plain old good time rock and roll. OK, some sex appeal doesn’t hurt either. Oh right. And talent. As Sharon Stone once said, ‘you can only sleep your way to the middle.’

Credit: WhiteTrashFastFoodBoss Hoss’ 2005 debut was titled, ‘InterNashville Urban Hymns’, described as an effort to put a country spin on some of their all-time favorite songs and introduce them to a new generation of hip youngsters in the party capital of the world.  The seven man group has been steadily gaining popularity ever since.

Credit: semajblogeaterThey took a one and a half year hiatus and traveled to Texas to gather inspiration for their latest effort, ‘Liberty of Action.’  A tribute, they say, to the love of freedom. Along the way, they realized a lifelong dream, playing venues across the Lone Star State, including the landmark Continental Club in Austin. This video was filmed in Austin and it is infectious:

The BossHoss -- Don't Gimme That - MyVideo

The Houston Press described one of their concerts thusly: “We weren’t really sure whether we had witnessed…some kind of brutally ironic Berlin-intellectual post-industrialist art statement that we are too hick to understand. What we did know was that The Boss Hoss delivered the fun.”  Indeed. 

Boss Hoss Frontmen Sascha Vollmer and Alec Völkel are dedicated Elvis and Johnny Cash fans. “Elvis is ageless,” Vollmer says. “He was sexy, good looking, and even in his dotage had a voice like a young god. His music was a revolution.”  High praise from the Berlin hipsters.

Credit: WikipediaIn their new CD, The Boys have teamed up with Nena, of 99 Red Balloons fame for a cover of Nat King Cole’s evergreen, L.O.V.E.  OK, I sense some tongue in cheek on this one but I had the hots for Nena in the early 80s and it appears she has only gotten better with age.


Norah’s Country-Side

By Bennett Owen

Long years in the Big Apple have neither extinguished that Texas twang, nor the torch Norah Jones carries for country.  “I love playing country music,” she says. “More than any other genre, it makes me feel at home.” That from a jazz artist who has sold over 40 million albums since her stunning debut in 2002.

Credit: Blog.wfuv Jones’ second recording with The Little Willies is a trip down a winding country lane of classics including Jolene…Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves…and the title track…For the Good times. No camp posturing here, each member’s love of the music shines pure and powerful. 

But it’s far from Jones’ first venture into the countryside. There is all kinds of it on her 2004 release, Feels Like Home…along with the guiding hand of longtime friend and mentor Willie Nelson. The playlist includes a duet with Dolly Parton  in an Emmy-nominated rendition of ‘Creepin In.’

And then came The Little Willies. Though the band is mostly New York natives, they all grew up listening to classic American music including Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. As a group they try to maintain a bar-band feel and it comes through in this joyous rendition of Willie Nelson’s chestnut ‘Gotta Get Drunk…’

You can almost smell the stale beer and cigarette smoke, can’t you?   As for the new effort, check out the promo and band interviews below…looks like there’s a good time to be had wherever the Little Willies are ‘Wailin’. 


Country Carol Countdown: #1 Christmas for Cowboys - John Denver

By Bennett Owen

Our favorite Christmas song of 2011 -


Merry Christmas!