New Music From Bill And The Belles.

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May 272021



Bill and the Belles – Happy Again – May 21, 2021

Happy Again isn’t exactly happy. But the delightfully deadpan new album from roots mainstays Bill and the Belles is full of life, humor, and tongue-in-cheek explorations of love and loss. Out May 21, 2021 on Ditty Boom Records (distribution and promotion by Free Dirt Service Co.), Happy Again marks a new chapter for the group by featuring eleven all-original songs penned by founding member Kris Truelsen. There’s no dancing around it: this album is about his divorce. But the group has a knack for saying sad things with a bit of an ironic smirk, pairing painful topics with a sense of release and relief. Anyone who’s been to one of their shows can attest that you leave feeling lighter and refreshed. The band often jokes that their setlists appear mournful and angry, but if you don’t listen to the words, you wouldn’t know it. “One of the darkest times of my life turned out to be one of the most creative,” says Truelsen. “I realized, ‘My life is chaos. I need to write about this shit.’” This personal loss turned out to be a creative boon for the band. Many of the songs were cranked out in just a few months, two were even written the night before they were recorded. This raw songcraft, along with the deft production touch of Teddy Thompson, son of Linda and Richard Thompson, who encouraged using only first or second takes, gives Happy Again an emotional punch that deepens with each listen.

The core of Happy Again is the foundational Bill and the Belles quartet sound featuring Truelsen on guitar, fiddler Kalia Yeagle, bassist Andrew Small, and banjo/banjo-uke player Helena Hunt, recently replaced by Aidan VanSuetendael. The album is also gently supported by Nick Falk on electric guitar and percussion and Don Eanes on piano and B3 Hammond. Early fans of the band were hooked by their singing, and Happy Again continues to deliver stellar vocal trio arrangements, honed by Yeagle, that nod toward groups like the Ronettes and The Shangri-Las. ​The band began as a project to explore the sounds between rural and urban music, between vaudeville and down home roots, but they’ve arrived somewhere wholly their own. They revel in the in-between: deeply engaged with the stringband tradition and eager to stretch those influences to contemporary settings. Happy Again is the latest chapter of that ongoing story: what happens when a stringband from East Tennessee lays down a session at Motown. It’s a welcome evolution that feels familiar.

Hear The High Hawks’ Shuffling Ode To The Road In “Heroes & Highways” From Debut, Self-Titled Album

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May 272021

Hear The High Hawks’ Shuffling Ode To The Road In “Heroes & Highways” From Debut, Self-Titled Album
Members of Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, Hard Working Americans, and more spread their wings with brand new band and album; out June 11th
May 7, 2021 – Nashville, TN – In the first few seconds of The High Hawks’ debut single, a flurry of pulsing electric piano, kick drum, and Townshend-esque guitar strums give way to a flat out J.J. Cale groove just in time for the first line to be sung: “If we could just find a highway…might even find a way to make it home.” And thus, The High Hawks take flight. That tune, “Heroes & Highways,” is an appropriate first taste of music from the long-time-coming, feel-good Americana cooperative, naturally expressing the range of which the bands’ members can reach. With close to 150 years of collective experience as professional touring musicians, The High Hawks—Vince Herman  (Leftover Salmon), Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth), Chad Staehly (Hard Working Americans), Adam Greuel (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades), Brian Adams (DeadPhish Orchestra) and Will Trask (Great American Taxi)—have maintained a generation-spanning presence at the forefront of the roots music scene for over two decades. On June 11th, their debut album The High Hawks will be released via LoHi Records.
Yesterday, Live for Live Music premiered the music video for the aforementioned “Heroes & Highways,” a song the band calls “a nod to the ever-present tension of the thrills and experiences of ‘the highway’ and the comfort and pleasures of home sweet home.” Live for Live music echoed that sentiment, calling the tune “a much-needed reflection on the way of the road.” Fans can watch the video for “Heroes & Highways” now at this link and pre-order or pre-save The High Hawks ahead of its June 11th release right here.
While the term “supergroup” gets thrown around a bit too frivolously, it’s an apt description for these gentlemen who’ve known each other, played in other musical outfits together and sat in with each other’s bands for the better part of the new millennium. But talk to the band members, and you’ll find that their reasons for getting together were much more down to earth. “Sometimes you meet somebody and you hit it off, and you feel like, ‘Man, I don’t want to just look at the cover, I want to read that book,’” says guitarist Adam Greuel with a laugh. “It’s a tight-knit music community in our Americana-bluegrass-jam band world. Over the years, we all kept bumping into one another and realizing there was a deep sense of fellowship and kindred spirit. The main impetus to form The High Hawks was really a curiosity about one another, both musically and personally. This band came out of a yearning to hang out.”
Two years ago, when they first convened at guitarist-singer Vince Herman’s house in the Rockies, there was no clear road map for where they might go. Greuel says, “We had a run of shows booked in Colorado, and we didn’t know what kind of music we were really going to make. Everybody brought a few song ideas along. It was two days before our first show, and that’s when a lot of the songs came together and our whole vibe as a band came together. We have shared influences, shared musical vocabulary, but even with that, there was a kind of telepathy that was like, ‘Holy moly, not only should we be playing some shows, but let’s cut a record too!’” “We went in with zero expectations,” says Carbone. “Once we got together and played the songs we had in mind, it was like, ‘Wow, there’s something going on here! This is not just a bunch of guys playing some songs. This is a band.’”
Indeed, the baker’s dozen of songs that make up their debut have the strong identity and cohesiveness of a band three records into their career. The summery, fiddle-infused opener “Singing a Mountain Song,” with its self-referential line—Soaring like a high hawk across this mountain top—acts as a kind of mission statement for the whole collection. There’s a lot of good feeling and optimism in these grooves, from the celestial cowboy vibe of “White Rider” and the revved-up Cash rockabilly of “Bad Bad Man” to the catchy, sauntering “Do Si Do,” which sounds like a great lost Grateful Dead track, the spare emotional cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Fly High,” and “Just Another Stone,” a moving ode to love’s redemptive power. Throughout, the creative hand-offs between four songwriters and four distinct singers all come together to channel influences from bluegrass to folk to reggae to cosmic Americana into a singular, appealing voice. “These songs wouldn’t sound like High Hawks songs if it was just one of us playing them,” Greuel says. “When it all comes together, there’s a sound.”
As touring starts to wind back up—a list of the High Hawks’ June tour dates can be found below—the band is ready to get these new, feel-good songs out in front of a live audience. “There’s a lot of stuff on this record that’s soulful and soul-nourishing,” says Carbone. “That’s what I get out of it. So I hope that people who listen will get something similar—a replenishment and a nurturing of the soul.” And that’s something that, after all these years of making music and touring the world, all of the band members are grateful for—as the outro of “Heroes & Highways” exclaims, they “Still got a soul!”
The High Hawks Tracklist:
Singing A Mountain Song
Talk About That
Heroes & Highways
Just Another Stone
When The Dust Settles Down
White Rider
Fly High
Bad Bad Man
Do Si Do
Home Is
Blue Earth
Trying To Get By
Goodnight Irene
The High Hawks On Tour:
June 2 – Pearl Street Brewery – La Crosse, WI
June 3 – The Hook & Ladder Under The Canopy – Minneapolis, MN
June 4 – WIJAM Presents Sol Dance at Jones Park – Appleton, WI
June 5 – Mackey’s Hideout (outdoor stage) – McHenry, IL
June 6 – The High Hawks Invitational @ Long Bridge Golf Course –

The Red Barn Convention Center 2021 Shows.

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May 272021

With the insane deluge of shows pouring in, and the amount of venues that are in dire need of support from not just me, but every music fan, I proudly announce that my Ohio friends over at The Red Barn Convention Center has gone back into full throttle. Now, many of the shows that were scheduled for 2020, are rescheduled for 2021 to the best of their ability.

We need to remember that many of these national touring acts have so many shows to make up from being postponed, that many people already hold tickets for. Many of them did not want to forfeit their tickets, however they hung onto them in hopes of instances like this.

However, like many other large venues, they are having to cancel a mega ton of shows and are keeping a good sized amount of them as well. As I delve into a nationwide plethora of outdoor amphitheaters and convention centers, I find that many of these national acts can only keep so many shows.

To be honest, having been around the music business as I have for a few years, A LOT of these decisions are made by management, and booking agencies. The actual artist does not really have as much control over their schedule than you think. Many of them that have smaller circles of control, and make the calls….but a LARGE portion of them that are on the echelon of this venue….do not.

One needs to keep in mind how many hands are in the cookie jar behind the scenes at a show. SO MANY are in the background laboring tirelessly to bring you the best entertainment they can. It truly takes a lot of effort to just ‘play music”.  Please take that under consideration when you become irate at artists or the venue itself.

The History

As visitor to the Red Barn Convention Center enter the facility, gasps of aw and astonishment can be heard and, it is difficult to envision that just a few years before the Cantrell Family purchased the now known RBCC that the very building was once known as the unfinished abandoned mega-church alongside the Appalachian Highway flapping with strips of weather torn house-wrap and waist-high weeds. The dream was to create a family-oriented place people of all ages and backgrounds can unite to enjoy concerts, festivals, camping, and so much more in a relaxing environment.

The Red Barn Convention Center has been designed for both patron comforts and stage performance technology, in additionally, it is the region’s largest and most versatile event room. The Auditorium offers plush seating for 1,000. The fully-equipped stage features state-of-the-art lighting and sound. Features of the RBCC include a house sound system, spacious backstage area and professional technical and events staff to make any type of performance or production possible. The main foyer, where patrons can gather during intermission can accommodate more than 300 and enjoy a full-service cafe and shop merchandise and memorabilia of RBCC entertainers and performances. Entertainers enjoy full-service hospitality perfectly situated backstage and convenient access to and from their buses and trailers. In addition, the RBCC affords hospitality events staff to ensure the comforts of entertainers and their crews during their time at the RBCC.