Folk/Country

Raye Zaragoza calls for unity in new music video for "They Say"

Now residing in Long Beach, California, Raye Zaragoza is spreading her sonic wings and taking flight. The new music video for her latest single “They Say” is a beautiful tribute to folk music’s power of unity that is evermore needed during these divisive times, and that through sharp harmonica leads and a rich vocal delivery is easy to understand. Zaragoza, Indigenous on her father’s side and a first-generation Japanese-American on her mother’s, rejects any type of segregation in music and pushes for an inclusive world via a song that embraces and rejects politics at the same time; the music can exist calmly in all hearts, inspiring reflection. The music video filmed with director Matthew Freiheit in Los Angeles on March 17 (a day after the city’s lockdowns took effect) is a walk through a cityscape bare of bodies but not of souls yearning for a better tomorrow. Stream the new music video for “They Say” below for something heartwarming and real. - René Cobar, photo by Caleb James

   

Soul Honey Records "Heard About Your Heresy"

Soul Honey Records released two new single last month, "Sugar Melting in the Rain", and the most recent "Head About Your Heresy". Both singles closely follow the release of the band's debut EP, "The Soul Honey Family Barbeque" back in July.

This is the ever evolving project from Andrew Christopoulos and on "Head About Your Heresy" he is joined by Sean Burke, Tory P-Lopez, and James Ringness.

   

Plague Dad evokes the spirit of New England in dual-single release "Sanitized For Your Protection"

As many of our readers will have noticed, the music of New England and the area itself is home to me. That folk/Americana tradition that fills pubs and café’s from New Haven to Bangor may seem as dim today as the rest of the world, but it will brighten up once again as its acoustic guitar strings will ring, and voices shall chant merrily. I know this because there are artists out there like Maine’s Plague Dad who surface seemingly out of nowhere and carry on that tradition regardless of the times. Through his dual-single release, Sanitized For Your Protection, which includes the tracks “Plague Song” and “Rust,” this artist is embracing a folk spirit vibrant. Strummed strings seem to trot out a rhythm that accompanied by a relaxed vocal melody, evokes nature, humanity, and their complicated relationship—New England’s calling card. This post is my final one for Deli New England, but what a ride it has been and what a pleasure to discover artists from a place so dear to me. See you soon, New England! - René Cobar

   

Vin Mott's Country Blues In Quarantine

 

Few people have made a name for themselves in the Austin blues scene faster than Vin Mott. The week he arrived, Mott sat in at the Little Elmore Reed Blues Band’s weekly residency in the heart of the East Side, fiercely blowing into his harp with a determination that couldn’t be ignored. Mott quickly brought his harmonica driven intensity to Rainey Street with a weekend residency at Clive Bar that exposed a younger audience to a century of traditional sounds.

The train may have stalled with venue closures amid the Coronavirus pandemic, but Mott isn’t one to twiddle his thumbs. Country Blues in Quarantine is Mott’s most transparent release, showing off his intensity for the music and his versatility on instrumentation. Mott performed vocals, harmonica, guitar and drums on the album along with Steven Kirsty on bass.

Mott started taking drum lessons at the age of seven, and took advantage of every music program available throughout grade school in New Jersey. His talent granted him acceptance into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, and after graduation in 2011, Mott returned to New Jersey and put together a traditional harmonica-driven blues band. After gaining notoriety and releasing his debut albumQuit the Woman for the Blues, Mott was advised by songwriter and guitarist Bob Lanza to take a look at the Texas blues scene.

“I would tour alone actually in my Jeep,” Mott said, “and travel the country and play the blues. I strung together gigs basically to and from Texas, and I did that twice in two years.”

Mott was immediately drawn to the thriving atmosphere that put the Austin blues scene on the map, and loaded up every inch of his Jeep with music equipment and clothing.

“It just came down to making a decision,” Mott said. “I could either sit back home and continue doing the same stuff I’m doing for the rest of my life, or I could take a shot while I’m young, and while I dont have too much commitment. I don't have a wife, or a kid, or a house to take care of. It’s now or never really.”

In his first two months in Austin, Mott found a weekly spot on drums at the Big Easy with Matthew Brodnax and the Blues Sherpas, a happy hour gig with pianist Henry Herbert at Skull Mechanix Brewery and led a full band with traditional and original material. Two of the venues Mott performed at have since closed, with another up for sale due to mandated Coronavirus shut downs.

“I started to build a little bit of something until everything shut down here. I got like every email from every one of my gigs all in one day that everything was cancelled,” Mott said with a laugh. “I got here just in time.”

As working musicians watched Coronavirus mandates effectively end live performing in major metropolitan areas, Mott purchased a $50 acoustic guitar on Facebook Marketplace, borrowed an audio interface from local guitarist Chris Ruest, plugged in his Shure SM 58 microphone and

started laying down tracks for Country Blues in Quarantinein his Oak Hill apartment. Mott later sent the tracks to Kirsty in New York for upright bass.

“I had a little well of songs that I had been writing since my last record,” Mott said. “I had always wanted to start learning to record myself, I had just a very bare bones knowledge of how to do it. It was something that was always in the back of my mind.”

Mott focused on open tuning and traditional slide on the guitar to back up his harmonica. The style fits perfectly on the quick country blues opening track “Buck 110 Blues,” and provides a sweeping low down grit on “The Werewolf.”

“My influences are in that traditional Delta blues vein, on this record especially, and I just felt like that was what I wanted to try and do, even with my limited skills,” Mott said. “I almost think it’s cooler to suck a little bit, you know? It’s almost like the punk rock attitude in a blues setting.”

Mott’s humble attitude may give a nod to the artists that caught his attention in the blues genre, but the guitar playing and DIY attitude put forth on Country Blues in Quarantine can’t be understated.

“It forced me to look at my life, and how I make money, and being a musician,” Mott said. “It’s never too late to learn a new skill, and now’s the best time to learn a new skill, so I’m just trying to take advantage of what is positive about it, you know? It’s a blessing in disguise in that way.”

Mott’s future in the Austin blues scene remains as uncertain as the venues that featured nightly acts earlier this year. A recent Facebook post indicated a possible return to New Jersey to be with family through the pandemic, but Mott feels a connection to the audiences he’s performed for.”

“That’s the whole reason why I fell in love with Austin,” Mott said. “No matter what you’re doing, or what you’re playing, there’s more appreciation for the artists and the music.”

Country Blues in Quarantine combines powerful vocals with intense instrumentation and an obsession with the traditional Americana recordings that have spread around the world.

“This is the deepest dive into my mind as you’re going to get,” Mott said. “It’s purely me. It’s purely my sound and the way I feel it and hear it.”

 -Andrew Blanton

   

Entering The Atmosphere: New Margaret Chavez Record Dreams Big

 

Into An Atmosphere, Marcus William Striplin's excellent sophomore LP under his folky Americana project Margaret Chavez, is a haunting, soothing, fully-enveloping record. 

 

Across eight tracks, Striplin pulls few punches. From taking listeners through familial trauma at an ICE detention center in "The Croupiers Unite I.C.E. ("To be a cat licking your paws in front of an ice detention bus") to the power-driven wrestling match in "I Virgo" ("Forever keeper of the past//you use your powers to advance and cripple") the record achieves the evergreen without watering down the present. 

 

Just when the terms of engagement appear to be dictated, Striplin kicks up the dust and unleashes swelling synths and psychedelic guitar textures, making for a markedly different soundscape. ("H O R A" shines bright.) Though occasionally feeling almost sparse or trim, the record has adequate space between the sobering emotional stakes evoked throughout. 

 

For all of its elegance, quiet, and restraint, Into An Atmosphere is also a decisive, dynamic, and effective shout.

 


- Ben Wiese