PUT ME IN, COACH: Nominations are now being accepted for this year’s Vic Chesnutt Songwriter of The Year Award. For 2021, there are two categories: Career and Play For Fun. The first is for career musicians (I mean, obvs), and the second is for those who don’t necessarily consider their craft a career. Nominees can pick whichever they want. The winner of each category gets $1,000, and all finalists will receive $250. The winner of the Play For Fun category also receives recording, time courtesy of Amplify at Nuçi’s Space, and the Career winner receives a promotional package from Team Clermont. Artists may nominate themselves, of course, but anyone may nominate an artist of their choosing. The requirements are that the artist must live in Athens-Clarke County or one of our immediate neighbor counties (Oconee, Oglethorpe, Jackson, Barrow, Madison) , and the nominated song must have been released via some method in 2020. Could be on Bandcamp, YouTube, from an album, whatever. It just needs to be available to the public. There’s no formal limit on how many songs may be submitted from a single artist, but if a whole bunch of songs come in under your name, the award folks are gonna work with you to pare that down. The deadline for nominations is Mar. 22, and this year’s awards event will be held May 6. Please read closely and follow all instructions at vicchesnuttaward.com/nominations to make a nomination. The award was created by and is administered by the Rotary Club of the Classic City of Athens, and you can find all additional info about them and the good work they do at classiccityrotary.org.
REST IN PEACE: Former Athens guitarist, recently of Los Angeles, Dave Phillips passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Feb. 22. Phillips had been a member of Redneck GReece Deluxe and Little Debbie and, most famously, was part of Liquor Cabinet and featured on bandmate Jack Logan’s critically acclaimed 1990s albums. He moved to L.A. in 1997 and joined former member of The Replacements Tommy Stinson’s band, and he would go on to become a key member of both ex-Pixie Frank Black’s band Frank Black and the Catholics as well as Guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard’s combo The Ascended Masters. By all accounts, Phillips was a beloved friend and was known for his sweet nature as well as his incredible and reliable talent.
NEW STUFF: Songwriter and musician (guitar and drums) Lena Rayne Allen released lastweek a new three-song EP, Boo Hoo, recorded at The Glow Recording Studio. Allen has a strong vocal presence that, although generally soft and subtly delivered, has a distinctive vibrato that appears at the end of select lines. I was taken by her guitar tone, too, which is decidedly metallic but not tinny or sharp. At times it reminded me of certain tones found from artists seemingly as disparate as John Fahey and even John Fogerty. The songs themselves are quiet but not pastoral. Indeed, there’s a heaviness here that seems deeply reflective (“I can’t tell a threat from what’s benign/It feels so permanent/my own hostile design,” from “Presence of a Storm”) but doesn’t lead the listener to despair. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it straddles a line between moods, but it also never collapses under its own weight. In short, it holds its own quite well. Check it out on Spotify.
DIGGIN’ YER SCENE: It’s been nearly two years since there was a new release from multifaceted guitarist Grayson Hauser, but now there is, so you can stop holding your breath. His new album is named Lost Futures, and, yet again, Hauser shows himself to be talented enough to explore different styles within a single set of songs and maybe a bit stubborn as well. OK, sure, lots of folks try this, but let’s admit right now that most of them sound like wet spaghetti hitting a wall, with the thrower hoping something will stick. Hauser skips seemingly effortlessly among whatever styles suit a particular song. From the jazzy Lou Reed sing-speak of opening song “Mirage” to the full Hendrix buzzsaw of “Journey Inside Your Mind” to the funky yacht-rock groove of “Golden State,” he’s got it covered. I’m not entirely sure why I’m personally taken with Hauser as an artist, because I’ll be the first to admit that what I’ve written above wouldn’t necessarily sell me on it. But I know from experience what an ear-wormy kind of writer he is. All of which is to say: Take this with a grain of salt and stream the new record and the rest of his catalogue over at graysonhauser.bandcamp.com.
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