Well, folks, here we are. This is the final Threats & Promises of 2013, and I want to thank all of you for reading each week, taking me to task when needed and also holding your tongue and gritting your teeth when necessary. It’s this balance that makes the whole thing work. Here’s to a very Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it, and a wonderful holiday season to all. We’ll see ya in 2014! I’m honored to have you close out the year with me. Let’s start closing below…
The Sound of Young America: The brand new album by The Skipperdees came out last week. Titled Some Bright Mourning, this is the first collection of new music from Emily and Catherine Backus since 2011’s Here’s To Hoping. It was recorded with engineer Marlon Patton and produced by the highly accomplished, and rightfully revered, Jim White. Athens’ own John Keane handled mastering duties. Special guests on the record include pedal-steel player John Neff and Hope for Agoldensummer’s Claire Campbell on singing saw. As anticipated, the album is full of the Backus sisters' well-woven folk tales; their lost mountain tunes are always imbued with a smiling melancholy. If you say you’ve found a better record to soundtrack your long winter’s nap, I’ll say I don’t believe you. The only thing I wish is that the band had published the lyrics online like it did with the last record. But all you need to do is slap the headphones on and get to listening over at theskipperdees.com.
Keep Your Friends Close: Vanessa Hay and some friends will host a wake for Margaret Adams at Little Kings Shuffle Club Thursday, Dec. 19 from 8 p.m.–midnight. Adams, who spent the 1970s and '80s in Atlanta and Athens, was uniquely tied in to each town's music scene via her role as fan club president for one of the great Atlanta bands of the era, The Brains. She was most recently a special education teacher in her native Illinois, and passed away this past summer. It was Adams' desire to have no funeral, so Hay, along with former Brains manager Doreen Cochran and former 40 Watt sound man and Athens music archivist Pat Biddle, decided to throw this wake as a memorial. Live music will be provided by Tom Gray (The Brains), The Swimming Pool Q's, Potter's Field (featuring Rick Price of The Georgia Satellites and The Brains along with Laura Joseph), Supercluster, Sue Garner (Vietnam, Fish & Roses, Last Round-up) and Rick Brown (Information, Fish & Roses). Says Hay, "Everyone is welcome. It's free. Margaret was a music lover and collector and loved a good party. We are going to give her one."
Shinin’ On: Athens rockers Radiolucent will head into the studio in January to record the follow-up to last year’s Turn Me On & Turn Me Loose. In other news, the band will ring in the New Year at the 40 Watt Club along with Atlanta-based Southern rock proponents The Higher Choir. For a mere $11, this is by far the most economical way to catch the band before it sails away on the Rock Boat XIV cruise, where the cheapest ticket left is $450. For more info, see radiolucentmusic.com.
Some of This, All of That: Brent Blalock (ex-Marriage) has unveiled his new project, Who Don’t?, and has just dropped his first collection of songs under the name. It’s a weirdo collection of funky keyboard tunes, thrift-store space jams and all the artistic direction you’d expect from a home-recorded album that took 10 months to birth. That is to say, you can find everything and the kitchen sink on there. In addition to the kitchen sink, there are guest vocals from Joel Hatstat, Sanchez Elder, Josh Wooten (ex-Marriage), Brigette Herron (Tunabunny) and Jesse Stinnard (Tunabunny, Antlered Auntlord). The record is primarily available via digital download, but Blalock also had a short run of CDs made, which should be available locally this week. Stream at will over at whodont.bandcamp.com.
Dub Selector: This week, local dub-reggae collective DubConscious released a compilation of seven songs recorded between 2005–2008. Reel it Back, Vol. 1 features unreleased material written around the time the band released its Stereotype EP, and was recorded with "everyone together in the same room with practice amps spread around the 'home studio' in bathrooms, kitchens, closets, etc.," according to the band's Matthew Woolley, who also says he is in the process of "digging through the old 'reels' for more to release." DubConscious will play Atlanta's Variety Playhouse on Sunday, Dec. 22, after which it will team up with local Latin-jazz group Grogus for a special New Year's Eve performance at New Earth Athens. Read more about that next week. [Gabe Vodicka]
Jazz Odyssey: Jazzist Marty Winkler has had a bang-up season so far. Her holiday EP, (These Are the) Ornaments), was released at the end of November and is selling well in the digital marketplace, which Winkler attributes to attention from various radio outlets. In the past, her music has been featured on legendary radio impresario Jonathan Schwartz's radio show, and well-known comedic actor Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap, "The Simpsons,") once personally requested her music to feature on his critically acclaimed NPR program "Le Show." Winker will be performing her holiday show at Echo Saturday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m., and her band will feature Bryan Shaw, Brian Smith and Tony Oscar. The EP is available at all major digital music outlets. For more information, see martywinklermusic.com.
Poppa M.: Athens songwriter Dave Marr has slowly released some new tunes via YouTube over the past few weeks, and they’re all reportedly songs slated for a new album. But the album has no title yet, nor a release date, nor answers to any of those other questions musicians get hammered with when they say they’re working on an album. So, leave your questions at home and head to youtube.com/jdavidmarr69 and dig his new, clear days. I sure am.
Viva Scott Vegas: The coolest news all week—quite possibly all month—is that Athens luthier and musician Scott Baxendale has been commissioned to restore the guitars of Elvis Presley. According to reports, Buddy Miller’s mind was blown when he spied Lera Lynn’s Baxendale-crafted conversion guitar, after which Baxendale rebuilt a 1940s-era Kay guitar for Miller, which in turn led to guitarist Michael Lockwood (and his wife, Lisa Marie Presley) turning their eyes toward Baxendale. Long story short, Lockwood hired him to restore the King’s strings. This is so cool I can’t even imagine. Hats off to you, Mr. Baxendale! And with that, Happy New Year, y’all!