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A father-son dynamic of sorts creeps its way into this weekâs Ear Bliss as we look at albums from The Hold Steady and the late Memphis artist Sid Selvidge. The common thread between the two releases is Steve Selvidge who has held down guitar duties for The Hold Steady since 2011 and is the son of Sid Selvidge and played a pivotal in the resissue of his dadâs classic 1976 album, âThe Cold of the Morning.â Letâs take a look.
The Hold Steady
Washington Square Records
On its sixth album and first since 2010âs âHeaven Is Whenever,â New York-based rock band The Hold Steady unleash a muscular guitar attack unlike that heard on any previous album. Those axes continuously circle, reverberate and move in and out of lead singer and principal songwriter Craig Finnâs literate, modern day-Joe barroom anthems. The album is the first without keyboardist Franz Nikolay who left the band in 2010 and was replaced by guitarist, Steve Selvidge. Selvidgeâs trial run on the bandâs subsequent tour turned into a full-time job the following year. Together with lead guitarist Tad Kubler, âTeeth Dreamsâ presents a formidable two-pronged attack featuring catchy hooks and riffs aplenty. As is par for The Hold Steady course, the centerpiece remains the storytelling and passionate delivery of front man Finn whose songwriting construction has always had a Springsteen-esque quality to it. That songwriting remains the draw. Combined with a tight and talented band, âTeeth Dreamsâ is 49-or-so minutes of mostly urgent and high anxiety rock. Only near albumâs end, the final two songs âAlmost Everythingâ and âOaks,â does The Hold Steady wind down the tempo. They prove two of the most rewarding tunes on a fine record.
The Hold Steady appears at The Met CafĂ© in Pawtucket (1005 Main St.) on Saturday night. Cheap Girls are in the opening slot.
âThe Cold of the Morningâ (resissue)
When he passed away all too early at the age of 69 last May, Memphis lost one of its great voices in Sid Selvidge. From his early work as a disc jockey just across the Mississippi River at KWAM in West Memphis, Ark., to his vital part in the legendary Memphis band Mud Boy & the Neutrons to his spearheading role behind the syndicated public radio program Beale Street Caravan to his own solo career, Selvidge was a fixture in various capacities on the Memphis music scene beginning in the 1960s and lasting right up until the time of his death. A voice to behold, Selvidgeâs nuanced baritone was a versatile instrument that could deliver a heartfelt folk ballad as easily as it could a bluesy spiritual. As far as recordings were concerned, Selvidge did not have a prolific career. His debut called âPortraitâ was released in 1969 on the Enterprise label, a small subsidiary of Stax Records. Selvidge would then sign with Elektra Records, but would never release an album and was subsequently let go in a management change. Selvidge would not release his next album until 1976 with âThe Cold of the Morning,â on which his voice was laid bare for all to hear. A varied affair, it was slated for release for a small Memphis label called Peabody Records until the money person behind the release dropped out and consequently handed the reigns to Selvidge. Without proper backing, the album still managed to gain attention including a rave New York Times review the following year when Selvidge was holding down a weekly residency at Tramps in New York City. Featuring such soon-to-be Selvidge classics as âBoll Weevilâ with its soul-endearing falsetto highs, âIâve Got A Secret (Didnât We Shake Sugaree)â and the spiritual âLazrus,â the album would gain Selvidge critical kudos in folk music circles and even see some major labels extend offers. Sadly, the album would never reach enough potential listeners to take his career to that next level in gaining a national audience. Even still, âThe Cold of the Morningâ is etched in the annals of Memphis music which when you get down to it is about as diverse in the historical spectrum as anywhere. Produced by the late Jim Dickinson and featuring Mudboy & the Neutrons (on two of six bonus tracks, as well as two of the original album tracks) along with photos by the legendary Memphis-based picture-taker William Eggleston, the reissue of the long out of print masterpiece is most welcomed and once again allows music fans to discover one of the great voices of Memphis. Visit www.omnivorerecordings.com.
Music at Lilypads in Peace Dale (27 North Road) presents a solid twin bill on Saturday night featuring the return of The Honey Dewdrops and singer/songwriter Jonah Tolchin. Doors are at 7 p.m. and music begins at 7:30.
Mary Ann Rossoni returns with a collection of songs. âEdentownâ is the newest and eighth album from Rhode Island-based singer/songwriter Mary Ann Rossoni (these going by just âRossoniâ). The new album presents an artist who has come full circle, from acoustic music and back again. Rossoni brings Edentown to life at Manchester 65 in West Warwick (65 Manchester St.) on late Sunday afternoon with a show that begins at 4 p.m.
Head to the Wood River Inn (Main Street) in downtown Wyoming, R.I. on Sunday evening for the dynamic duo of The Rank Strangers with Chris Monti starting at 6 p.m.
Dan Ferguson is a freelance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.