#SUNDAYSPOTLIGHT – JARROD DICKENSON @jarroddickenson

Welcome to another Sunday Spotlight! I am super excited to introduce today’s artist! He has released two new albums in 2020 and the one I am going to let him tell you about today is Under A Texas Sky.

The album cover alone conjures up all sorts of musical visuals! But just wait until his voice and delivery of these tribute songs! I love to listen to couples make music together and Jarrod’s wife, Claire, can be heard on each of the songs along with him.

But I’ll let Jarrod tell you about it in his own words!

Texas. The word alone conjures up images of larger than life characters, and a vast and sprawling landscape. The lines between reality and myth are often blurred when it comes to The Lone Star State, and the truth is you can’t truly have one without the other. Texas is a world unto itself, and its inhabitants are as unique as the state they call home.

I grew up in a medium-sized city in Texas called Waco, which is situated equidistant between Dallas and Austin along Interstate 35. As a native Texan, I’ve always been aware of the rich musical heritage of my home state, but as one often does with the place they’re from, I took it for granted. It wasn’t really until I moved away from Texas that the music that grew out of that same soil from which I came truly started to grab a hold of me. For quite a while now I’ve wanted to pay tribute to the many great artists from The Lone Star State, and thus Under A Texas Sky was born.

Under A Texas Sky is a collection of songs by classic, fellow Texas-born artists that have inspired me and my own musical journey. Choosing just five artists from the state of Texas was a feat in itself, and one can’t even begin to scratch the surface of the incredible music that has come out of Texas in just five songs. That said, I wanted to show the diversity of the music that has come from my home state, and I wanted to choose artists and songs that maybe weren’t immediately obvious to the listener. With that in mind, this EP features my own renditions of songs by Roy Orbison, Esther Phillips, Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm and Guy Clark. Each of these artists, along with so many others, have made an enormous impact on my own musical path.

1. Uptown – (Roy Orbison)

Roy Orbison, born in Vernon, TX, is one of the early pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll, and the epitome of cool. He had an unmistakable sound and a golden, crooner-like voice that most singers would give their right arm for. With artists like Roy, I wanted to be careful not to choose a song that was too obvious, or too big a hit, but rather dig a little deeper into their catalogs to find hidden gems. ‘Uptown’ was originally released as a single by Roy Orbison in 1959, and later made another appearance on his ‘A Black & White Night’ concert special from 1988. The song itself is a straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll shuffle, with big, roomy drums by Josh Hunt, a driving bass line by Ted Pecchio and call-and-response backing vocals by Claire Dickenson and Stephanie Jean, who became affectionately known as “The Ward Sisters” during this session. This was the first song we recorded for the Under A Texas Sky project, and it set the mood for the rest of the session.

2. Try Me – (Esther Phillips)

When thinking of artists born in Texas, Esther Phillips is likely not one of the first names that would jump to mind, but this native of Galveston, TX was a powerhouse R&B singer who heavily influenced many artists who came after her. “Try Me” is a song written by Jimmy Radcliffe and Buddy Scott that she released as a single in 1966, and which featured the horn of King Curtis on the recording. Esther Phillips’ voice is haunting and full of yearning. This minor blues song knocked me off my feet the first time I heard it, and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. I wanted to try to capture the energy and longing and tension that her original version featured, while also putting my own spin on the tune. I played a warbling, staccato Leslie guitar part on this song that provided the bed that everything else sat atop. JP Ruggieri played a blistering guitar solo, while my wife Claire and Stephanie Jean, of the duo Ida Mae (known together as “The Ward Sisters”) provided hypnotizing backing vocals that glue the entire track together.

3. Seven Spanish Angels – (Willie Nelson + Ray Charles)

Any collection of Texas music, no matter how big or small, would be woefully incomplete without the inclusion of The Red Headed Stranger. Willie Nelson, born in Abbott, TX, has never been one to simply go with the grain, and do what’s expected. He has spent his entire career effortlessly weaving in and out of countless genres while always staying true to his unique voice and style. Willie was another artist with whom I was careful not to choose the most obvious song for this project. In fact, the song we recorded was originally a duet between Willie Nelson and Ray Charles for Ray’s 1984 album “Friendship”. Now, obviously Ray Charles was not born in Texas, so you may ask why he’s included in a collection of songs by Texas-born artists? To that I would say that Ray Charles is an American treasure who should be celebrated at every possible opportunity, and also that it’s my EP, so I make the rules! We wanted this song to be a big, gospel singalong, with foot stomps and hand claps and big Hammond organ swells. Chris Turpin, one half of the husband-wife duo Ida Mae, plays a beautifully musical resonator solo on this track, while Stephanie Jean, who makes up the other half of the bluesy duo holds down a throbbing Wurlitzer groove, and joins the chorus of voices.

4. I’m Glad For Your Sake (But Sorry For Mine) – (Doug Sahm)

Doug Sahm is hardly a household name these days, but those in the know are devout followers of this San Antonio native’s music. Sahm was a young musical prodigy, being offered a permanent spot on The Grand Ole Opry at the age of thirteen. Sahm, however, chose a different musical path, and with his bands The Sir Douglas Quintet and later the Texas Tornados, he became a trailblazer for what we now call “Americana music”. Sahm was one of the first to mix genres like Blues, Jazz, Country, Tejano and Rock ‘N’ Roll together to form an entirely new and unique sound. He was also among the first white artists to form a band with Hispanic musicians at a time when the American south was still a fairly segregated place. The song “I’m Glad For Your Sake” was originally recorded by Ray Charles in 1952, but it’s the Sir Douglas Quintet version from their 1968 Honkey Blues album that first really turned me on to the music of Doug Sahm. It had everything; Texas Blues at its finest. It swung, Sahm’s vocal was soulful and strong and the horns were out of this world. For our version, we didn’t have the brass, but we had a grooving rhythm section, a big Hammond organ and ‘50s Doo-Wop style backing vocals laid down by The Ward Sisters.

5. Dublin Blues – (Guy Clark)

When I had the initial idea of the Under A Texas Sky project, Guy Clark was the first artist that I knew I had to include. I discovered Guy’s music later than perhaps I should have since I grew up in Texas. It was until I had moved to Nashville (for the first time) in 2010 that my roommate at the time got me hip to his music. His songs stopped me in my tracks, much like John Steinbeck’s novels had stopped me in my tracks when I first discovered them. Guy Clark changed the way I thought about writing songs and telling stories. He was an absolute master of the craft, and remains a giant inspiration to me to this day. Clark grew up in Monahans, TX, which he described as being “between Pecos and nowhere”. His song “Dublin Blues” has been a song that my wife, Claire and I have sung together for several years now, and it’s always been a favorite in our live sets. This is the most stripped back song on the EP. We recorded it live, all in a circle with myself on acoustic guitar, Claire and I singing together, JP Ruggieri on pedal steel, Ted Pecchio on bass and Chris Turpin on his National resonator. It was a magical moment in the studio, and a fitting closer to the EP.

Under A Texas Sky was recorded live alongside good friends and musical cohorts in our current home of Nashville, TN at Johnny Duke’s Spirit Radio Studio. I tried to inject myself and put my own spin on these classic songs that have meant so much to me over the years. I hope you enjoy listening to these songs as much as I enjoyed recording them.

PURCHASE LINK

Photo Credit: Tatsuro_Nishimura

FOLLOW JARROD DICKENSON ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website – https://jarroddickenson.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jarroddickensonmusic

Instagram – https://instagram.com/jarroddickenson

Twitter – https://twitter.com/jarroddickenson


Two Amazing Ladies of Music! Claudia Nygaard and Ruby Lovett

One of my greatest joys in life is supporting music artists. I receive a lot of press releases because I write for Buddy Magazine. We are strictly a Texas Music magazine. However, I often receive music from artists who aren’t based in Texas but deserve a shout-out.

That is the case with these two ladies. So, I am using my blog today to introduce you to Claudia Nygaard and Ruby Lovett!

Claudia Nygaard is Nashville based and Ruby Lovett is from Mississippi.

Their music touched me and I want to share!

Claudia Nygaard isn’t afraid to tackle sensitive or difficult subjects with her music. From that aspect, she reminded me of a younger Loretta Lynn. She is a fantastic storyteller, as is shown in the lyrics of the title track of the album, “Lucky Girl.”

It tells the tale of her great, great, great grandaddy, her great grandaddy and her grandmother all on her father’s side of the family. From Norway to North Dakota, it’s a journey of hard times and heartache, a tribute to one family’s ability to survive and thrive. With that kind of family lineage, it makes Claudia a lucky, lucky girl!

“Like a Moth to a Flame,” she relates a story that many of us have experienced. There are times in life where passion draws us too close to the fire and we singe our wings. I loved these lines from the song, “Mama if you need me, you can find me in my room/I’m pulling all the shades down, gonna sit here in the gloom/Mama I’ll be tending to these wings so badly singed/Mama I’ll be praying that he’ll pass this way again…” Sigh…Some lessons are never learned.

With songs like “The Codependent’s National Anthem,” “Tumbling Down,” and “I’m A Little Bit Embarrassed” it’s easy to see that Claudia doesn’t shy away from the raw honest truth.

This just might be my favorite line from this collection of emotion-driven songs. “This isn’t something ladylike to do/But you treated me like trash/So that’s how I’m treatin’ you…” The title of that song is “Me Too.”

If you’d like to sample Claudia’s music, here is her performance of “Lucky Girl.”

You can find her new CD, Lucky Me, wherever music is sold, but for your convenience, here is the Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Girl-Claudia-Nygaard/dp/B07VC1DF79/

Follow Claudia Nygaard:

WEBSITE

Facebook

Twitter

When Ruby Lovett emerged on the music scene in the late 1990s, music critics said, “Lovett’s voice is a refreshing slice of hillbilly heaven. “

When I listened to her new CD, I had to agree. Her voice is authentic and real.

While she didn’t write all the songs on her album, It’s A Hard Life, she chose songs that fit the theme and tell compelling stories.

The first track, written by Nanci Griffith, “It’s A Hard Life,” speaks such strong truths! “If we poison our children with hatred/Then a hard life is all that they will know…” Isn’t that a message the entire world could pay heed to today?

Lovett did write the second song on the album, “A Father’s Love,” as a tribute to her adoptive father. This line says it all, “Some say blood is thicker than water/And tho’ I wasn’t born your daughter/You cherished me as if I were your own…”

“Catfish John,” takes us back to another place and time in history. “He was born a slave in the town of Vicksburg/Traded for a chestnut mare/But he never spoke in anger/Though his load was hard to bear…”

Another written by Lovett, “Straight From My Heart,” drips with genuine emotion and her delivery is nothing less than pure honesty. “Here in this changing world/where nothing lasts forever/A love that you can count on is sometimes hard to find…”

Ruby Lovett’s music is as real as she is, full of honest emotion and real life situations sung with pure grace and power. I’d like to tell you about every song on this beautiful album, but I’ll let you explore, if it has piqued your interest. 

Take a listen for yourself!


AMAZON purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/ItS-Hard-Life-Ruby-Lovett/dp/B07P6YXFRX/

Follow Ruby Lovett:

Website

Facebook

Thank you for allowing me to introduce these two amazing women and their music to you! I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

BOOTLEGGERS – CD Review

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BOOTLEGGERS

SOUTHERN ROADS

INDEPENDENT

 What does deep south France and Southern Rock have in common? The correct answer is a band, the Bootleggers. And they’ve recently released a new Indie album entitled Southern Roads.

In the vein of ZZ Top, the twang of electric guitars and hard rocking beat defines the Bootleggers. Band leader, lead vocalist and acoustic guitar player, Didier Cere sets the tone for their music. Point Blank’s guitarist, Rusty Burns who passed away before the CD was released, Van Wilks and Neal Black from San Antonio join in on the project.

The album kicks off with Van Wilks’ “Sometimes You Run.” Having heard Van’s original version, I have to give the Bootleggers kudos for their rendition of this hard-rocking song. You cannot listen and sit still.

“Short Change Hero” written by Kelvin Claude Swaby and made popular by The Heavy is the second track, followed by “Sending Me Angels,” a Delbert McClinton tune, which switches to a soulful tempo showing the diversity of this group.

“10 Million Slaves” penned by Otis Taylor features one of the most important American Artists on the blues scene, Neal Black on electric guitar.

The next track came as a surprise. “Negro Prison Blues,” written by Alan Lomax starts out acapella and moves into a beautiful instrumental featuring the slide guitar of Claude Zanglois.

The Bootleggers interpretation of “John The Revelator” by Blind Willie Johnson is simplistic and organic. Didier Cere shines on the vocals.

Neal Black penned “Hangman Tree,” and in the truest depiction of southern rock with a heavy drum beat and slide guitar, it is an easy favorite.

“Spirit in the Sky,” topped the charts worldwide in 1969. Written and released by Norman Greenbaum, it became one of the most recognizable songs on the radio. The Bootleggers did a rocking version in the spirit of the song with some outstanding harmonica work by Nico Wayne Toussaint. Dick Burnett’s “Man of Constant Sorrow” brings this album to a close in a surprising way. I have to say I am impressed by the vocals on this album and the versatility of the musicians. For more info visit https://www.reverbnation.com/bootleggers

Watch a Video of the BOOTLEGGERS Performing live! Video Link

I hope you enjoyed meeting a new and unique group of artists. It’s not often I get a chance to review a CD from a band in France. 

 

CD Review – Sam Baker

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CD REVIEW

SAM BAKER – LAND OF DOUBT

Independent Release

 Central Texas music artist, Sam Baker has released his fifth album, Land of Doubt, produced by Neilson Hubbard.

What you’ll hear on Land of Doubt is stunning, beautifully arranged strains of chords and melodies with lyrics deeper than the roots of an old oak tree. Baker is well-known for surviving a violent terrorist attack in Peru in 1986. He suffered some hearing loss in the explosion but has defeated all obstacles to emerge as a respected songwriter and performer.

Land of Doubt opens with simplistic yet complex guitar chords from Will Kimbrough on “Summer Wind.” I am immediately reminded of Willie Nelson’s style of intermingling guitar licks with meaningful lyrics.

“Same Kind of Blue” pays tribute to a shy young soldier named Charlie, who was sent to Viet Nam to fight the Viet Cong also known as Charlie. “It was a long way to go for a boy named Charlie/There was snakes, there was jungle, there was all kinds of gnarly/Fighting somebody everybody called Charlie/Was a mean kind of joke/Charlie fighting Charlie…”

“The Silvered Moon” is a forty-eight second instrumental that begs for candlelight and a glass of wine. A tender love song, “Margaret” is a treasure. “Love Is Patient,” says so much on such a deep level. “She said, ‘Please come home’/It’s so late/I worry/I wait/Love is Patient/Love is Kind/Love is hard/Love is blind…” I was drawn by the sad refrains of “Leave,” as it tells Faith to leave because it’s squandered a man’s trust.

More instrumentals, “Pastures Fit for Thoroughbreds” and “Song of Sunrise Birds” are incomparable music arrangements with Dan Mitchell on Trumpet.

Only clever songwriters like Sam Baker and Mary Gauthier could compose lyrics about a girl with a drug addiction, and bring “Moses in the Reeds” into it.

Another tune that grabbed my attention was “Peace Out,” a break-up tune woven so implicitly that you almost miss the message. “She’s a very nice girl/Going with the flow…Peace out/Letting me go.”

“Where Fallen Angels Go” is another exquisite instrumental that moves with an ebb and flow blending keys and strings that feature David Henry and Eamon McLoughlin.

“Land of Doubt” ends this album with a culmination of every aspect of each song rolled into one. If you’re a fan of incredibly beautiful music and deep lyrics, you are sure to love this new album from Sam Baker. Visit http://www.sambakermusic.com for more!

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Land of Doubt is also available on Amazon

Hate The Sin

Back in another lifetime, I was a songwriter. It was a time I treasure with all my heart, along with the recordings that we managed to preserve our music with.

Jan in NO vest (2)       Rick_Anson_Texas

 

We had an outdoor spa building behind our house. One night I was in the hot tub by myself and this song came to me. I wrote it all within twenty minutes. (We kept pad and pen close at all times.)

The result of that late night soak was “Hate The Sin But Don’t Hate The Sinner.

I loved every aspect of this creative mode from jotting an idea down to finishing out verses and chorus and walking into the studio to record.. Do I miss it? Heck yeah, but the writing just simply turned a corner in another direction.

Hope you enjoy!!

Hate The Sin But Don’t Hate The Sinner by Jan Sikes

Purchase Links:

Amazon      CDBaby    Website

Rick & Jan 06-22-08

 

To Celebrate Valentine’s Week!

This is something I rarely do, but in honor of Valentine’s Week, I have made HOME AT LAST free on Amazon Kindle!

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With empty pockets, a heart full of love, and hope for a new beginning, Luke leaves behind the horrors of prison and embraces a bright future. In this book, he and Darlina are finally united after fifteen long years apart. Their tenacious love is what carries them through struggles that seem insurmountable.  Journey with them as they learn to live as one unit, facing difficulties head-on. Lessons learned the hard way and belief in their undying love is their strength!

An epic love story.

Get your copy today! CLICK HERE

AND, I’d be thrilled and honored if you’d pick up the music CD that accompanies this book. I’ll Be Home When The Roses Bloom Again” is a compilation of songs from the heart of Rick and Jan Sikes.

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THANK YOU FOR YOUR AWESOME SUPPORT!