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Mike Dow

Mike Dow

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This week’s edition of Sound Bites could have contained more than twice as many titles as appear here, so fast and furious the new releases keep coming. Here’s a sampling of some of the best new material I’ve heard issued over the last two weeks.

Now we wait for the party. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has released the long-awaited list of inductees for the class of 2021. According to rock hall president and CEO, Greg Harris, the 36th group of recruits is its most diverse to date.

The six names to be ushered into the hall under the performer category are Foo Fighters, The Go-Gos, JAY-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, and Tina Turner.

Foo Fighters, The Go-Gos, and JAY-Z all appeared on the rock hall ballot for the first time. Harris said they are all deserving of induction.

“Everyone on this list belongs in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Harris said during an interview with The Maine Edge that aired on BIG 104 FM.

When Tedeschi Trucks Band and friends performed at Arrington, VA’s annual four-day jam-centric LOCKN Festival on August 24, 2019, they unleashed a set for the ages. Special guests Trey Anastasio of Phish and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II joined Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and their 10-piece band, for a searing performance of Derek and the Dominos’ epic 1970 double album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.” The set was mixed by Trucks, Bobby Tis and Brian Speiser, and is due for release on July 16 on vinyl, CD and digital download.

The connections between the “Layla” album and Tedeschi Trucks Band have long been a topic of conversation among fans.

When Eric Clapton formed Derek and the Dominos with American-born musicians Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon in 1970, the group name afforded the guitarist a degree of anonymity following the mega-success of Cream and the too-much-too-soon supergroup hype that caused Blind Faith to implode the previous year.

Recorded in Miami between August and October 1970, “Layla” is perhaps rock’s greatest album of unrequited love, created at a time when Clapton was hopelessly obsessed with the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. The Dominos first act was to become Harrison’s backing band earlier in the summer during the recording of the triple album “All Things Must Pass.”

In steamy Florida in late August, producer Tom Dowd arranged a union of Derek and the Dominos with the Allman Brothers Band, whose second album, “Idlewild South” he’d just finished producing. After some studio jams, Duane Allman stayed behind to add further fire to the Dominos’ lineup on slide guitar.

The “Layla” album, a blend of original impassioned soulful blues and some carefully chosen covers, was released on Susan Tedeschi’s birthday, November 9, 1970.

Did Bigfoot waste three guys on a northern California pot farm in the fall of 1993? It sounds ridiculous right?

Investigative journalist David Holthouse has put himself in the middle of some freaky situations in pursuit of a story, from infiltrating neo-Nazi groups to earning the trust of both sides of a gang drug war. He’s not afraid of much but he says this crazy Bigfoot story he heard from two rattled tweakers on a black market weed farm had him fearing for his life when he returned to the area 25 years later and started asking questions.

“Sasquatch” is Holthouse and director Joshua Rofé’s true-crime Hulu docuseries, presented in three narrative-driven episodes, only the first of which I’d seen before speaking with Holthouse for this story. No spoilers here.

(You can find Allen Adams's review of the full "Sasquatch" docuseries here.)

In the following interview, Holthouse speaks of the off the grid danger of California’s Emerald Triangle – the largest cannabis-producing region in the country. The vast mountain forest he revisits for this series, he explains, is generally undisturbed by the law and littered with the remains of countless bodies that knew too much.

The Sasquatch angle is the primary focus of the docuseries’ first episode, introducing both believers and skeptics, as the viewer joins Holthouse in the investigation.

Writer Aaron Carnes was tired of seeing his favorite musical genre become a sitcom punchline or used as the butt of a joke in a random tweet.

Ska music was hatched in Jamaica in the late 1950s. A precursor to reggae, ska in its purest form blends elements of calypso with American R&B and jazz. Other genres later melded with ska, including rock, metal and punk.

The genre has a deeply diverse and rich history, but Carnes says popular culture has mostly reduced its impact to a brief period in the mid-1990s when ska reached a level of mainstream popularity with bands like Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Carnes said he set out to correct this miscalculation and maybe even turn some new fans onto ska with his book “In Defense of Ska” (Clash Books), a collection of detailed essays, stories, interviews and investigative music journalism. The author admits it’s a book with an attitude, but then again, so is the subject at hand.

“In Defense of Ska” is a deep dive into ska’s past and present, with fascinating stories about some of the genre’s most significant players, some well-known and others still obscure.

Here’s a good problem to have: so much new music, so little time to absorb it all. I’ve chosen five titles worthy of your consideration in rock, blues, country, and folk-pop released within the last two weeks.

CNN is taking a deep dive into late night television history with its six-part docuseries “The Story of Late Night,” scheduled to air Sundays at 9 p.m. through June 6. The series spans six decades of late-night TV history’s most memorable moments while analyzing how the format has survived and adapted to an ever-changing society.

“The Story of Late Night” executive producer Bill Carter has authored four books on television, including 1994’s “The Late Shift” and “The War for Late Night.” Carter was chief television correspondent for the New York Times for 26 years and currently serves as Senior Media Analyst for CNN.

(The following excerpts are from a longer interview that aired last weekend on BIG 104 FM.)

We may not always notice them, but wild things are unrelentingly growing and creeping around us. Even the most securely constructed edifice of the unnatural world has elements of nature growing on, around or through it.

That notion of wildness being found in the most ordinary places – and how the two interrelate – is at the heart of pianist Ben Cosgrove’s fourth studio LP “The Trouble With Wilderness,” a beautiful and fascinating instrumental concept album that celebrates the certainty of nature’s presence in the most unnatural spaces.

The Boston-based Cosgrove has deep ties to Maine and says he plans a return to Portland soon where he feels most at home although in a normal year his home could be just about anywhere.

For a decade prior to the Covid lockdown Cosgrove performed about 200 shows per year around the country.

“It’s the lifestyle that works best for me,” Cosgrove says. “I really get a lot out of talking to a room full of people every night and being able to move around and live lightly. I’m not great at sitting still so the last year has been a bit of a challenge.”

Remember how much fun it was to have a houseful of friends over on a Saturday night? Those days will return. In the meantime, singer-songwriter A.J. Croce, with his friends, have put together “By Request,” an outrageously fun album of diverse pop, rock, jazz, blues and soul cover songs – from Randy Newman to The Beach Boys - that gives us a glimpse of how much fun it would be to crash a Croce house party.

A.J. Croce has become firmly established over the last three decades as one of America’s finest musical craftsmen through nine albums of original songs encompassing multiple genres. It became evident during an interview with The Maine Edge that he’s also a musicologist in possession of an almost encyclopedic knowledge of music history and music-makers. Croce says he did his best to tighten the reins on his broad taste when it came to selecting titles for “By Request.”

“As much as this album is a celebration of different kinds of music I love, it’s about the celebration of friendship, being together and entertaining friends,” Croce said. “This record was recorded live in the studio, and I produced it with that in mind, as if I could welcome the audience over to my place, hang out and play music for them.”

“By Request” features a mix of well-known songs and others that are waiting to be discovered by new listeners, as Croce (who augments his piano by also playing guitar, organ and harmonium) and his touring band deliver each one with a great spirit of fun and spontaneity.        

With a veritable boatload of music titles being issued each week from new and established artists alike, I intend to increase the frequency of these review columns to round up some recent and forthcoming standout releases. This week, we have new albums of note in rock, country, alternative, and Americana/roots.

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