Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats practically explodes with deep, primal and ecstatic soulfulness. This stunning work isn’t just soul stirring, it’s also soul baring, and the combination is absolutely devastating to behold. You don’t just listen to this record—you experience it. So it’s entirely fitting that the self-titled album will bear the iconic logo of Stax Records, because at certain moments Rateliff seems to be channeling soul greats like Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. But as this gifted multi-instrumentalist honors the legacy of the legendary Memphis label, he’s also setting out into audacious new territory.
The place where Rateliff is coming from is intensely real and intimate. Doing what he does is an act of bravery. “These songs are about the struggles I’ve had in my life—drinking too much, that kind of crap,” he says with characteristic candor, punctuating the admission with a rueful laugh. “And then the relationships we all have. I’m not a great communicator in my personal life, so it’s funny to be writing songs that say the things that I’m never very good at saying. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out. I’m trying to be a better communicator, but it’s horribly awkward—it’s awful—to tell somebody something you know is gonna hurt their feelings. I’ve always been one to go, oh, I’ll just eat this one; it’ll be okay.”
Rateliff, who’s 36, traveled a long road to get to this point. He left school after his dad passed away at the end of 7th grade, left his home in the small town of Herman, Missouri, where his future would’ve likely involved endless shifts in a nearby plastic factory; and worked as a janitor for a high school. Not long afterward, he followed some local missionaries to Denver, thereby escaping what he describes as “the Midwestern lifestyle of working and growing up too fast.” He soon outgrew his childhood understanding of religion, realizing that “there are so many books out there besides that one,” as his worldview expanded exponentially. Rateliff spent the next 10 years on the loading dock of a trucking company before becoming a gardener and getting married along the way. But as the years passed, he became increasingly focused on writing songs and performing them at any watering hole that would have him, in time becoming part of the city’s burgeoning folk scene. “I got kind of a late start making music,” he says, “but eventually I went out on the road,” first with Born in the Flood, which he’d formed with Pope, and then The Wheel, the forerunner of the Night Sweats. By then, he’d overcome his longstanding discomfort at playing his songs in public.
“I try to be lighthearted,” Rateliff continues, “because, although the songs are heavy, I want it to be a release for people. I’m trying to do something that’s emotionally charged and heartfelt, and I want the experience to be joyous, for people to feel excited and dance around instead of being super-bummed by reality—I mean, things are hard. But I can remember dancing around to some song that was breakin’ my heart, dancin’ with tears in my eyes. I love that feeling, and I wanna share it with people, and hopefully they’ll feel it too.”
Sometimes, truth can't be explained. But it can be felt, running wild through a song. "I don't want to tame myself. I want to be wild," says Langhorne Slim. "If I can continue to refine the wildness but never suffocate or tame it, then I'm on the right path. Because it is a path. I feel it."
The Pennsylvania-born, self-taught guitarist moved to Brooklyn at 18, and began feeling out his place in a burgeoning punk-folk scene. Over the years, he wound his way to the West Coast and to the South, and now finds himself celebrated from Newport to Portland as one of today's most original singers and songwriters.
Numerous press outlets have celebrated Langhorne Slim. Rolling Stone praised 2012's The Way We Move as "damn near perfect," while The Guardian proclaimed the band as "one of the greatest live acts." Additionally, Entertainment Weekly called Langhorne Slim "your next obsession," and The New Yorker described him as having "Leadbelly's gift for storytelling and Dylan's ability to captivate crowds."
His most recent release, The Spirit Moves (Dualtone, 2015), was released to high critical praise, including The Boston Globe: "Slim is more reflective now, his banjo-driven rock-folk-pop hybrid increased in artistry and depth." The Spirit Moves is also the first album of his career written and recorded entirely sober, a fact often mentioned in interviews and reviews and thematically evident upon first listen. Easily his most introspective album, it is his second with the rock-solid members of The Law.
Slim has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, CBS Saturday Morning, and more. He has played major festivals like Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and Bonnaroo, and has toured with The Lumineers, The Devil Makes Three, and the Avett Brothers.
When asked whether or not he fits in to any narrow-cast definition of this country's music, Slim replies with a perfect, laconic joke: "I think we fit in most places that would take us."
When we called it the American Dream, what we really meant was "the American Myth." That myth convinced us that the right house/car/bank account/voting card could punch our tickets to a happily-ever-after, but for reasons too numerous and depressing to note, that myth is finally dying. Somewhere along the way, we realized the secret to mythology is not letting anyone sell it to you. You have to create your own. And now something new is springing up as we cast off the strange rules and crushing expectations of old. We're rediscovering that freedom comes from the inside out, not from the outside in.
Kristin Diable has been exploring freedom and choice in her music ever since she picked up an open mic at a lounge in Baton Rouge and stunned the audience into silence. She rode that vibe, away to New York and then back to her native Louisiana like a storm front, one that shook New Orleans and cooled the air. And her newest album, Create Your Own Mythology, invokes her Louisiana and Americana roots, while firing a rock-and-roll shot across the bow of borrowed myths. Producer Dave Cobb expands upon a stellar year that had seen Sturgill Simpson's Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Lindi Ortega's Tin Star, and Jason Isbell's Southeastern all arrive to critical acclaim--here he does double duty, producing and also standing the front lines on guitar. Cobb is known for spurring his performers to find their truest voices, and this is Diable's richest and most elaborate album to date. It takes a person to write an album, but a good album writes a person too. Kristin realized Create Your Own Mythology was fighting its way into the world during her force-of-will tour, which alighted in Europe and Africa in 2013. Cut loose from the norm, discovering new venues almost as fast as she could perform in them, she found swimming in her head new songs about holding on, letting go, patience, and faith in the face of futility. And about penning your own rules and your own reality.
From the gospel notes of "True Devotion", written in Morocco during a Ramadan sunset, to the wistful universal waters flowing through "Deepest Blue", Diable weaves a dense, bewitching net. The idea of embracing the infinite unknown and finding freedom, clarity through the trials we experience along our journey as human beings is explored in songs like the lead single, "I’ll Make Time for You", and "Eyes to the Horizon". The latter has been used twice in HBO’s Treme performed by the character, Annie. Rumi wrote, "Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." Kristin says that music is her ticket on that journey to the soul's distant elsewhere, and this new album is her invitation to the listener--not to follow her on her mythical path, but to go questing for their own. That's a journey that will require some suffering, and acceptance, and evolution and honesty--these are the tokens hidden in these songs, smoothing that hard path, leading us away, and leading us home. The Mississippi River makes a hairpin turn in Baton Rouge before swerving unstoppably into the Gulf of Mexico. As it slowly zigs and zags like a cautious alcoholic, rich sediment sloshes loose onto the sun-baked Louisiana turf. It's lush country. Things grow here. New Orleans grew here. Kristin Diable grew here and is still growing. And myths grow here like sugarcane does: fast, tall, and sweet.
A six-pack of wine, a couple of guitars and a handful of songs gave rise to The Silverado Pickups in the spring of 2010. Since that fateful gathering one evening down along the Oakville Crossroad, these wine-country cowboys have planted their roots deep within the Napa Valley wine and music scenes and have graced stages throughout California, Nashville and New Orleans.
Band members and coconspirators include Napa Valley wine Industry vets David Duncan of Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars (vocals and harmonica), Jeff Gargiulo of Gargiulo Vineyards (lead guitar), Shane Soldinger with Silver Trident Winery (vocals and guitar), Dan Zepponi of Cuvaison (lead guitar), winemaker Tres Goetting of Robert Biale Vineyards (bass guitar), professional percussionist Joe Shotwell, and notable wine-industry advisor Paul Hoffman (keys).
The Pickups have created an original sound of wine infused California Country Rock. While some have described their music as ‘Americana’ others have called it ‘Corked Country’. The band has shared the stage with Lucinda Williams, Chuck Leavell, David Pack, Billy Dean and Radney Foster. They’ve opened for legends such as Leon Russell, and Tim McGraw. The Silverado Pickups are veteran performers to Music Festivals including Bottle Rock Napa Valley as well as Boudin Bourbon & Beer – New Orleans, and in 2018, the boys are scheduled to complete the recording of their highly anticipated debut album.