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Larry Keel Brings New Album ‘Experienced’ On the Road

With Tour Dates In The NE & SE States

Larry Keel Independently Releases Experienced on Friday, February 26, 2016
A blazing journey of music featuring special guests:
Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Jason Carter, Mike Guggino, and Anders Beck

LEXINGTON, VA —  Flatpicking guitar phenom Larry Keel is set to release a his 15th album, Experienced, on February 26, 2016. Keel has a variety of musical formats swirling around the calendar each year: look out for his core band, The Larry Keel Experience (featuring Will Lee on 5 string banjo and vocals and Jenny Keel on upright bass and vocal harmonies). They are set to embark on an album release tour starting in late February with stops throughout the north and south eastern States including a couple of sets at Suwannee Springfest in Live Oak, FL and a lot of pickin’ gig on at Aiken Bluegrass Festival in South Carolina. See Larry’s full list of tour dates below including a few early February dates with Keller & the Keels, as well as All-star shows in Hawaii leading up to Valentine’s Day and at Winter Wondergrass in Vail in mid-February.

Experienced includes seven tracks and is an entirely original work that showcases both Larry’s and bandmate Will Lee’s exceptional songwriting, singing and jaw-dropping instrumental performances, accompanied by Keel’s equally talented wife Jenny Keel on upright bass and harmony vocals. It was recorded at Wally Cleaver Studio in Fredericksburg, VA with engineer (and guest drummer) Jeff Covert and mastered by the award-winning industry great Bill Wolf (Willie Nelson, Tony Rice, Doc Watson) in Arlington, VA.

Added to the raw sophistication of Keel’s progressive acoustic style are several guest-musician-friends who appear on various tracks of Experienced, a list of artists that reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of icons and new stars including Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Jason Carter (The Del McCoury Band), Mike Guggino (Steep Canyon Rangers), and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass). According to Larry, “This project is a collection of my songs and Will Lee’s music, developed further with the amazing talents of some of our musician friends and heroes. Very real. Very fresh.”

Larry Keel On Tour with Experienced 2016

Keller & the Keels
2/04 Thu – Plaza Live – Orlando, FL*
2/05 Fri – Jannus Live – St. Petersburg, FL*
2/06 Sat – b.e. easy Music & Arts Festival – Lake Worth, FL

The Keels w/ Special Guests
2/12-13 Fri-Sat – Charleys Restaurant and Saloon – Paia, HI
2/19-20 Fri-Sat – WinterWonderGrass – Vail, CO

The Larry Keel Experience
2/26 Fri – Shepherdstown Opera House – Shepherdstown, WV
2/27 Sat – Gypsy Sally’s – Washington, DC
3/03 Thu – Rabbit Hole – Charlotte, NC ^
3/04 Fri – Charleston Pour House – Charleston, SC ^
3/05 Sat – Tifton Rhythm & Ribs Festival – Tifton, GA
3/18-19 Fri-Sat – Suwannee Springfest – Live Oak, FL
3/24 Thu – The Jefferson Theater – Charlottesville, NC <
3/25 Fri – Asheville Music Hall – Asheville, NC
3/30 Wed – Plain Folk Cafe – Pleasant Plain, OH
4/2 Sat – Woodlands Tavern – Columbus, OH
4/3 Sun – Elk Creek Cafe – Millheim, PA
5/7 Sat – Sleepy Creek Spring Ding on the Potomac – Berkeley Springs, WV

The Keels w/ Special Guests
5/13-14 Fri-Sat – – Aiken Bluegrass Festival – Aiken, SC >

*w/ Yonder Mountain String Band
^ w/ Jon Stickley Trio
< w/ The Woodshedders
> Friday LKE set, Sat Keller and Keels as well as Larry Keel All-star jam with Vince Herman, Mimi Naja, Paul Hoffman, Anders Beck and more!

More date TBA! Stay tuned to www.larrykeel.com.

What folks are saying about Experienced

Experienced_Keel_COVER“Keel’s record is beautiful–I love how the rawness of his voice (and playing) really lets the soul shine through the arrangements! I’ve always liked how he can go from sweet and sentimental to dirty and greasy and back. I especially liked the song ‘Memories’” —Oliver Wood, The Wood Brothers

“Larry Keel is one of my favorite artists..his new cd has grit, warmth, vision, and is so real. Which is what makes this band the most kick ass band to ever raise hell this side of the old dominion.”
Chance McCoy, Old Crow Medicine Show

Experienced jimmies into your soul” No Depression, Amos Perrine

“Listening to the new Larry Keel album Experienced is a revelation. It is a look at what music can be when stripped of preconceptions and when a blend of bluegrass, deep woods psychedelia and moonshine combine.”Consider Collective, Eric Rayburn

“The album alternates from the sweet nostalgia of ‘Memories’ to the rough and raw ‘Fill ‘Em Up Again,’ to the spooky spirit-filled ‘Warrior,’ complete with Native American chanting from Rowan, similar to his work on ‘Land of the Navajo’ from the first ‘Old and In the Way’ album.”  —Mountain Times/ Watauga Democrat, Jeff Eason

“Not that many artists get to album number 15 in their career. With Experienced (due out February 26), flatpicking phenom Larry Keel hits that milestone… and he does so with more than a little help from his friends.” –Kelly McCartney, Folk Alley premiered the song “Fill ’em Up Again.” Stream it here → www.folkalley.com/archives/001465.php

The Bluegrass Situation Premiered the song “Memories.” Stream it here → www.thebluegrasssituation.com/read/listen-larry-keel-memories  

“Larry Keel is a true original, be it traditional, progressive, improv- he does it all and with such joy. I love jamming with Keel. Enjoy the music, Larry does.”–Sam Bush

“Larry Keel, the Bluegrass Warrior, has kept the flame of mountain alive with intensity and clarity of singing and fiery guitar picking! Larry and Jenny both have big-ears and wide listening to open their music up to a growing young audience” —Peter Rowan

Find out more and stay up to date with news from Larry Keel at www.larrykeel.com, www.twitter.com/LarryKeel, www.facebook.com/LarryKeelFishinAndPickin.

 

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The Grey Eagle Hosts NPR World Cafe’s ‘Sense of Place’
with Jon Stickley Trio & The Honeycutters on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tickets are on sale now at → http://bit.ly/WorldCafeAtTheGreyEagle

ASHEVILLE, NC — NPR’s World Cafe, produced by XPN in Philadelphia, is bringing the show to Asheville’s The Grey Eagle on Tuesday, February 23rd for an evening of entertainment with Jon Stickley Trio and The Honeycutters, two Asheville-based bands who have both been making headlines across the country. World Cafe host David Dye will be in the house to interview with them before each band performs. This is a special show with limited seats available, so get tickets early before it sells out. Doors are at 7pm and the shows starts recording at 8pm. Tickets are on sale now at www.TheGreyEagle.com. $15/$18. Come see it LIVE! It will air at a later date, tba!

The New York Times calls Jon Stickley Trio’s sound “respectful and free” and NPR Music featured a track off their new album Lost at Last on their program Heavy Rotation with Folk Alley’s Linda Fahey writing, “Jon Stickley has been playing in bluegrass bands for years, and is known as a progressive and adventurous flatpicker, but his musical roots and influences range widely to include rap, grunge, punk and more… [It’s] a wonderfully unique sound that defies easy categorization.”

Nashville’s Music City Roots’ Craig Havighurst says of The Honeycutters, “Vocalist Amanda Platt has a voice that’s complex, sweet and aching. Even more potently, she writes songs that folks are citing as up there with the best of the field, such as Mary Gauthier and Lucinda Williams.” Saving Country Music goes on to write, “…Platt’s songwriting could be placed in the exceptional category, at least from the evidence Me Oh My [2015 Organic Records] presents in her favor. It’s not just the sorrow and sincerity, it’s the insight and the resonance.”

Since launching World Cafe in 1991, David Dye has served as the host of this nationally acclaimed show, now syndicated on more than 250 public radio stations across the United States. Every week, Dye brings out the best in interviews with internationally known artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Joni Mitchell. He has conducted nearly 4,500 interviews during his years with the program. He introduces a half-million listeners each week to groundbreaking artists like Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons, PJ Harvey, Sheryl Crow, Beck, LCD Soundsystem, and Amos Lee.

World Cafe’s Sense of Place is a quarterly series which brings the whole crew, including host David Dye, to various cities around the world. Previous shows have been recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Iceland, Havana, Stockholm (Sweden), Dublin, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Austin, Pittsburg, Nashville, Memphis, Portland, and more. Sense of Place is made possible by a grant from The Wyncote Foundation in hopes to give you an idea of the past and present of various local music scenes and some pointers for musicians or music-lovers planning a visit.

Asheville-area NPR affiliate, WNCW, consistently sings praise for each band; The Honeycutters placed #3 with Music Director and Morning Host Martin Anderson saying, “Amanda Platt writes songs on par with Lucinda, Isbell, Lauderdale, Hank Sr.” Anderson says of Jon Stickley Trio, who placed #13 in the poll, “Asheville has a force to be reckoned with in the tight three-piece perfection of the Jon Stickley Trio. It’s pretty incredible how closely the three play with their unique blend of Appalachian, jazz, maybe even prog-rock styles.” You can tune in to World Cafe on WNCW weekdays between 4am to 6am and 6pm to 8pm.

For more information, please visit www.xpn.org/world-cafe/sense-of-place, www.TheGreyEagle.com, www.jonstickley.com, and www.thehoneycutters.com.
Get Tickets at http://bit.ly/WorldCafeAtTheGreyEagle.
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Suwannee Springfest Celebrates 20th Anniversary
March 17-20, 2016 at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL

Suwannee Springfest celebrates twenty years of kicking off the spring festival season at the beautiful Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL on March 17-20, 2016. The festival is excited to announce a handful of additions to this year’s 20th anniversary including Brandi Carlile, Railroad Earth, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Habanero Honeys, The Applebutter Express, Steve Pruett, and Canary in the Coalmine.

The already stellar line-up includes legendary headliner John Prine as well as lot of return favorites from over the years including The Del McCoury Band, Keller Williams Grateful Grass, The Infamous Stringdusters, Jeff Austin Band, The Larry Keel Experience, Donna the Buffalo, and Jim Lauderdale. Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers and Dave & Dave (of Trampled By Turtles) make their debut appearance at the fest!

Other fun acts on the bill include Cabinet, Fruition, Jon Stickley Trio, Nora Jane Struthers, Mandolin Orange, Rumpke Mountain Boys and more. Stay tuned for additional artist announcements, workshops, and other activities! See the full lineup below and at suwanneespringfest.com.

Suwannee Springfest brings some of the best in bluegrass, americana, and roots music to multiple stages in the midst of a friendly, family-style environment and encourages attendee to bring their acoustic instruments to join in on the fun with some campground pickin’. Festivalgoers experience four days of camping in a stunning natural setting of moss-draped oak and cypress trees nestled in 800 acres on the shady banks of the historic, tea-colored Suwannee River. There are miles of trails for hiking, a plethora of prime camping spots, canoe and kayak rentals on the river, horseback riding, disc golf, as well as a restaurant and country store. The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park offers a unique experience like no other, a true playground for all that attend.

Get your tickets for Suwannee Springfest now for $175 (GA) until midnight on Sunday, January 17th when they raise to the next tier. Student / Military Ticket $175 advance through March 16th. Weekend tickets will be available at the gate for $210. Individual day tickets are also available. Tickets are inclusive of all taxes and fees, and include 4 days of primitive camping and music Thursday – Sunday nights. Kids under 12 are invited to join for free.

Attendees can also upgrade for a VIP Experience which includes a four-day ticket with primitive camping, dinners from Thursday – Saturday evenings, a VIP Laminate, a swag bag with the festival poster, a cap, and other goodies for $300 until 1/17 when it goes up to $350. See all rates and tiers and get tickets at www.suwanneespringfest.com/tickets.

Attendees can reserve RV hook ups, cabin rentals, and golf cart rentals by calling the park. SOSMP is located just north of Live Oak, Florida between Jacksonville and Tallahassee,  about 30 minutes south of the Georgia State line, about 45 minutes north of Gainesville and is host to a variety of events. Please visit the park’s web site at www.musicliveshere.com or call them at 386-364-1683 for information.

Suwannee Springfest 2016 Lineup
John Prine
Brandi Carlile
Railroad Earth
The Del McCoury Band
Keller Williams Grateful Grass
Infamous Stringdusters
Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers
Jeff Austin Band
The Larry Keel Experience
Donna the Buffalo
Dave & Dave (of Trampled By Turtles)
Jim Lauderdale
Cabinet
Fruition
Jon Stickley Trio
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Nora Jane Struthers
Mandolin Orange
Rumpke Mountain Boys
The Broadcast
The Virginia Daredevils
The Applebutter Express
Grits & Soul
Grandpa’s Cough Medicine
Big Cosmo
Habanero Honeys
Nikki Talley
Sloppy Joe
Quartermoon
Steve Pruett
Canary in the Coalmine
Taylor Martin’s Engine
Two Foot Level
The Steppin Stones

Further information at suwanneespringfest.com. Also visit us on at facebook.com/suwanneespringfest, twitter.com/SuwanneeSpring and instagram.com/SuwanneeSpringfest.

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Stig Stiglets, Anya Hinkle, Jed Willis and Aaron Ballance are Tellico 

Southern Songs and Stories, a documentary series on the music of the South and the artists who make it, profiles western NC roots acoustic quartet Tellico in their third episode.

Tellico plays at Moonlight Mile Studios 6pm Sunday, January 17th as part of their episode on the music documentary Southern Songs and Stories. Highlights of their episode will be shown before the concert, which will also be filmed for inclusion in the documentary, and refreshments will be included. Southern Songs and Stories is a music documentary series independently produced by WNCW’s Joe Kendrick and his partner and Moonlight Mile Productions owner Tony Preston. Previous episodes featured Aaron Burdett and The Honeycutters.

6pm Sunday, Jan. 17
Moonlight Mile studio
565 Long Shoals Rd, #203
Arden NC 28704
$18 in advance, $20 DOS
704-300-9776
www.southernsongsandstories.com

Only 50 seats are available. This event is the primary fundraiser for producing the documentary, which features scenes from Tellico performances in Franklin, NC, Asheville, NC as well as lead singer Anya in a trio setting in Floyd, VA. The episode also features interview footage of all four band members in separate settings as well as legendary fiddler Arvil Freeman, and musicians Mac Traynham, Jackson Cunningham, and Galen Kipar.

Town Mountain. Photo by Sandlin Gaither.

Town Mountain. Photo by Sandlin Gaither.

Town Mountain on Tour with Railroad Earth January 2016 in the Southeast ~ Bluegrass with Swagger

1/14 Thu – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
1/15 Fri – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
1/16 Sat – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
1/17 Sun – Iron City – Birmingham, AL
1/20 Wed – Druid City Music Hall – Tuscaloosa, AL

ASHEVILLE, NC — Town Mountain is excited to announce they will be hitting the road in support of Railroad Earth next month. The run of dates kicks off with a two night stand in Atlanta at the Variety Playhouse on January 14th and 15th, followed by a hometown performance at The Orange Peel in Asheville, and wrapping up in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa respectively.

Town Mountain’s hard drivin’ bluegrass sound, tight harmonies, and stellar in-house songwriting have become the band’s trademark. They light up the stage with their honky tonk edge and barroom swagger, featuring a Jimmy Martin-style bounce and confidence that is countered at times by a laid-back John Hartford-esque groove. Town Mountain includes Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, and Adam Chaffins on bass.

Town Mountain just wrapped up the final touches of their 5th studio album which is due out in the Spring of 2016. Produced and engineered by GRAMMY winner Dirk Powell, the album was recorded in Powell’s studio The Cypress House in south Louisiana. To warm everyone up this winter, they released a two-track disc of their favorite tunes from the Grateful Dead’s catalog called The Dead Session, that has some snazzy artwork to go along with it; it will be available at the shows!

For a sneak peek at what to expect on the future studio album, watch the band perform a new original song, “Wildbird,” in this wonderful session filmed by Hype Music Festivals at the 2015 Suwannee Springfest in Live Oak, FL →

Town Mountain is in it for the long haul… check out out where they’ll be travelin’ to next and keep and eye on TownMountain.net for further dates as well as a brand new selection of merchandise. For updates from the road, please visit facebook.com/TownMountain, twitter.com/TownMountain, and instagram.com/townmountainbluegrass.

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Larry Keel Independently Releases Experienced
on Friday, February 26, 2016

A blazing journey of music featuring special guests:
Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Jason Carter,
Mike Guggino, and Anders Beck

LEXINGTON, VA —  Flatpicking guitar phenom Larry Keel dazzles music-lovers once more with his 15th self-released album Experienced, due out February 26, 2016. The album is an entirely original work that showcases both Larry’s and bandmate Will Lee’s exceptional songwriting, singing and jaw-dropping instrumental performances, accompanied by Keel’s equally talented wife Jenny Keel on upright bass and harmony vocals. It was recorded at Wally Cleaver Studio in Fredericksburg, VA with engineer (and guest drummer) Jeff Covert and mastered by the award-winning industry great Bill Wolf (Willie Nelson, Tony Rice, Doc Watson) in Arlington, VA.

Added to the raw sophistication of Keel’s progressive acoustic style are several guest-musician-friends who appear on various tracks of Experienced, a list of artists that reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of icons and new stars including Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Jason Carter (The Del McCoury Band), Mike Guggino (Steep Canyon Rangers), and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass). According to Larry, “This project is a collection of my songs and Will Lee’s music, developed further with the amazing talents of some of our musician friends and heroes. Very real. Very fresh.”

The seven tracks on Experienced reflect Keel’s musical personality, from frenzied and raunchy to mystical and sensitive, and through it all, Keel’s honest attitude shines, fearlessly and with throttle wide-open. As Sam Bush (who plays mandolin and fiddle on the fiery opening track “Ripchord”) says, ‘Enjoy the music… Larry does!” “‘Lil Miss” follows up with a cynical gibe at a mock Miss Prim and not-so-proper young lady of modern day society, set to a down and dirty blues-rock riff.

“Memories” (co-written by Larry and Jenny) is the portrait of the artist (Keel) gently swept away by life’s vast gallery of experiences and personal connections, and the poignant emotions that spring from it all. As the third track, it cools down the pace of things, letting the listener settle into the musical journey Keel has orchestrated.

“Larry Keel is a triple threat… songwriter, guitar player, entertainer. He can do it all,” says Del McCoury, who is featured on the playful and rollicking “‘Fill em Up Again” along with Carter and Guggino. “I think what makes Larry so powerful is that he has lived his songs, he’s not sitting in a room trying to write the hit of the week, he’s writing what’s in his heart and on his mind.”

“I love me some Keels. There is a certain genuine authenticity that Larry and Jenny possess,” says Keller Williams. “When we get together, our wonder-powers unite to form a giant, impenetrable sphere of open-minded, Appalachian psychedelic goodness.” Appropriately, Keller plays on the swelling and rolling “Miles and Miles,” which is a sort of metaphoric travel log of life on the road as a musician (and as a human being)… the key being to stay true to one’s own ‘voice’.

“The Warrior” is loosely based on the Carlos Castaneda book The Teachings of Don Juan and the search for knowledge by an old Yaqui Indian brujo. Peter Rowan joins on percussion instruments, yodeling and throat singing, adding a burning tension to the music, as the tale is sung in Keel’s gravely baritone. “The warrior is seeking the power… Standing tall he will never cower… He can see the spirits in the air… He can see the things that are not there.” The musicianship, lyrics and magical production combine to bring the listener down into the depths of the mystics and back out again in revelation.

Following “The Warrior”, the album’s gentle and refreshing closing melody, “Another Summer Day,” emits the feeling of resurfacing into the world, relaxed and carefree to enjoy the daylight and breeze.  The tune was written and sung by Will Lee, with Anders Beck lending his intuitive touch on dobro and Jeff Covert carrying it along with a light drum beat.

“Larry is the yin and the yang,” declares Beck. “He will break your heart with a waltz, but he can also scare the hello out of you in the next song.  He plays on the edge… no, strike that.. he creates genius guitar solos while staring over the edge and laughing maniacally.”

“This studio album was a complete blast to make, from start to finish,” says Jenny Keel. “Larry, Will and I, along with our exceptional engineer Jeff Covert coalesce into a working musical unit that push each other to higher and higher heights of magic, skill, art and energy.  Add to that this cast of guests with all THEIR unique talents, and you have a recording that is pure enjoyment. Every detail of it!”

Throughout his prolific career, Keel has released 15 albums, including Experienced, and is featured on 10 others. Along with those that guest on the new album, Keel has performed with a multitude of top acoustic and electric musicians alive, and some now gone, including Vassar Clements, John Hartford, Tony Rice, Bill Monroe, Bob Weir, Jorma Kaukonen, Little Feat, Trombone Shorty, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon and many many others. Larry has written songs being performed by the likes of Del McCoury Band, Infamous Stringdusters and Yonder Mountain String Band and has a tune on Del McCoury’s GRAMMY-winning album The Company We Keep [2005] entitled ‘The Mountain Song.’

Experienced Track Listing:
1. Ripchord [Lee] 6:09  w/ Sam Bush
2. ‘Lil Miss [Keel] 4:22
3. Memories [The Keels]  4:00
4. Fill’em Up Again [Lee] 2:55 w/ Del McCoury, Jason Carter, Mike Guggino
5. Miles and Miles [Keel] 4:37 w/ Keller Williams
6. The Warrior 4:38  [Keel] w/ Peter Rowan
7. Another Summer Day [Lee] 4:47 w/ Anders Beck, Jeff Covert

*All tracks with The Larry Keel Experience: Larry Keel, Will Lee, and Jenny Keel

Find out more and stay up to date with news from Larry Keel at www.larrykeel.com, www.twitter.com/LarryKeel, www.facebook.com/LarryKeelFishinAndPickin.

 

 

 

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Vocalist & Songwriter Jane Kramer Makes a Full Voiced Return to Her Roots with Mountain-made Second Solo Album,
Carnival of Hopes – Due Out Feb 26, 2016

Produced and Engineered by Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios,
The album features backing band Free Planet Radio as well as guest appearances by Nicky Sanders of Steep Canyon Rangers and more

ASHEVILLE, NC — Vocalist and songwriter Jane Kramer is set to independently release her gutsy and ambrosial second solo album entitled Carnival of Hopes on Friday, February 26, 2016. Carnival of Hopes feels both celebratory and frank. It is filled with songs of regret and insight found after deep and gritty self-reflection. At its core, the album tells the story of facing down dark inner demons while still clinging to “that tiny chirping of light in your bones that somehow keeps you tethered to keeping on,” Kramer says.

Throughout the album, it is Kramer’s unvarnished honesty and searching, powerfully sweet and heartrending voice that carry the well-crafted and arranged songs and tie both elements of loss and healing cohesively together. “I’m not great at making stuff up,” she says, “so I sing what I lived and what I know, without any sugar or fluff.”

“Anyone who has stared down the barrel of themselves and their failures and fears and shipwrecked loves has scraped up against the bottom of their own capacity for hoping,” says Kramer, a social worker and musician by trade. “My carnival of hopes is busted and hideous and rusty and somehow still brave and sparkly,” she says, “like the image of the forgotten Ferris wheel printed on the disc – half taken over by trees and time, but still standing.”

With deep ties to the area, Carnival of Hopes, boasts a sparkling cast of Ashevillian producers and players. It was recorded at the award-winning Sound Temple Studios in Asheville in February of 2015, while she still lived on the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon. A few months later, after a four-year run spent writing and reflecting on the West Coast, Jane Kramer pulled up stakes and returned to Western North Carolina with a renewed energy to share her new music with the world.

Carnival of Hopes aches and soars with her connections to Appalachian balladry, a force she first encountered at Warren Wilson College and honed while performing with the Asheville-based all-female trio, the Barrel House Mamas, who helped reintroduce Americana music to the Blue Ridge Mountains a decade ago. However, it is as a solo artist where the power of Kramer’s songwriting and world-class vocals truly shine.

Kramer’s longtime friend Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios, whose portfolio of clients includes such names as Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma, produced and engineered the album. Kramer is backed by Chris Rosser on piano and harmonium, Eliot Wadopian on upright bass and River Guerguerian on drums and percussion, the virtuoso trio that comprises Free Planet Radio, and by master Georgia-based bluegrass musicians/ multi-instrumentalists, Pace Conner (steel string, high string and baritone guitars, ukulele, mandolin, and backing vocals) and Michael Evers (Dobro, banjo, mandolin, and backing vocals) who arranged the songs for recording and perform and tour with Kramer regularly.

Carnival of Hopes as an album is full of sometimes-searing flourishes on the complexities of Kramer’s modern life. The title track clearly encompasses that, she says.

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Jane Kramer. Photo by Sandlin Gaither.

“In the song ‘Carnival of Hopes’ and on the record as a whole, I talk about letting things die and being honest about it: the notion that I am a good woman, ideas for my future and success, a big love, and even parts of myself dying and being reborn in the letting go” she says. “I talk about laying down my hammer but leaving the light on in the window. While these are heavy concepts, I feel the take-away feeling of the album is one of hope.”

 

On this deeply personal album, Kramer’s favorite track is the ballad, “Good Woman.” While she says she’s not one who fits that description, listeners might disagree after hearing the lilting but earnest passion and regret in her voice.

“Good Woman” is the song you write when your lover kicks you out of the house and you’re half drunk on cheap box wine in a crappy motel room staring at yourself in the mirror under the fluorescent bathroom light,” Jane says. “You can’t help but be honest then.”

“Aside from the sentiment, the contributions of virtuoso players, Nicky Sanders of Steep Canyon Rangers and Franklin Keel of Sirius B, also help make the song a favorite,” Kramer adds. They play orchestral fiddle and cello, respectively, on “Good Woman”.

Other songs on the album offer clear hints to Kramer’s unflinching self-examination and ability to convey heavy subject matter through utterly palatable and even catchy song-crafting. The New Orleans jazz-influenced “Why’d I Do That Blues,” (which features a horn section comprised of JP Furnas on trombone and Ben Hovey on trumpet), the classic country honky tonking sass of the opening track “Half Way Gone,” and the banjo-driven, uptempo modern-day spiritual “My Dusty Wings” all speak to a talented songwriter laying herself bare. She credits her songwriting hero and mentor, Mary Gauthier, with helping her reach for, and express, everything she hoped to communicate with the album.

The songs on the album were all penned by Kramer with the exception of one cover, “Down South,” written by Tom Petty. “This tune just sounds like the mountains.” Kramer says,”I’m a huge Petty fan and love the poignant simplicity of his writing. Additionally, and probably what was most important to me was the message of the song thematically, about returning home to the south and it’s little idiosyncrasies.”

The sense of homecoming that rings through was a conscious effort, Kramer says. “I did that because Asheville is my dirt. It’s my home and my culture, musically and otherwise. I missed it and knew somewhere in my bones I would be coming back to stay soon,” she says.

“I didn’t want to make an album that didn’t sound like home,” Kramer adds. “I wanted Asheville musicians and Appalachian instrumentation – that wistful, southern dobro sound that hurts your heart a little.” Carnival of Hopes is indeed a homecoming album, and will take listeners through the enchanting and accessible emotional landscape of a woman who has climbed the mountain of her own failures and fears and learned how to be at home with herself.

Album: Carnival of Hopes Track listing:

  1. Half Way Gone  3:45
  2. Carnival of Hopes  5:25
  3. Your Ever~Green Heart  3:21
  4. Good Woman  5:29
  5. Down South (by Tom Petty) 3:30
  6. Truck Stop Stars  4:31
  7. Why’d I Do That Blues  2:38
  8. Highways, Rivers & Scars  4:25
  9. Truth Tellin’ Eyes  4:19
  10. My Dusty Wings  2:57

Learn more about Jane Kramer and her music at www.JaneKramer.net and stay up to date with news at www.facebook.com/janekramersongstress.

 

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