Historical collections of note from the Omnivore Recordings label occupy the Ear Bliss spotlight this week. We begin with an album of previously unreleased 1967 recordings by the late and legendary Gene Clark of The Byrds fame. Next up is the previously unissued final album for Capitol Records from 1975 by country legend Buck Owens called Country Singer’s Prayer. We also offer up one of our periodic festival alerts with the focus on the local heavyweight from a music fest standpoint, the annual Rhythm & Roots Festival happening Labor Day weekend at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. Let’s get to it.
Sings For You
Gene Clark is best known as a founding member of The Byrds and the principal songwriter for the band at its mid-1960s outset penning such classics as “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” and “She Don’t Care About Time,” to name but a few. Yet, Clark’s musical legacy is so much more than that. It included work with the likes of Doug Dillard (Dillard & Clark), The Gosdin Brothers, the trio McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, and in his later years collaborating with Carla Olson of The Textones fame. It also included some stellar solo work of which some of the earliest is now available thanks to the recent collection Sings For You. It features eight circa-1967 recordings by Clark just after he departed The Byrds that were discovered on a rare acetate with the handwritten title “Sings For You” that were discovered in the vaults of Liberty Records. The collection also gathers six previously unissued recordings from a second acetate from the same timeframe that were demos submitted by Clark to the band The Rose Garden for consideration for their debut album (The Rose Garden debut has also just been reissued by Omnivore Recordings). Newly remastered, the 14 total tracks offer both an early and ear-worthy snapshot of one of the singer/songwriter greats of the ‘60s era. Visit www.omnivorerecordings.com.
Country Singer’s Prayer
Thanks to classics like “Tiger By the Tail”, “Act Naturally”, “My Heart Skips a Beat” and countless others, Buck Owens & the Buckaroos ruled the country charts in the 1960s. By the mid-1970s, Owens’ firestorm of electrified C&W full of pop and bounce was waning. Many factors contributed including the untimely death of his lead guitarist Don Rich, not to mention his move into TV via the successful Hee Haw variety program which began in 1969 and which Owens co-hosted with Roy Clark. With his contract with Capitol Records coming to an end, Owens with his Buckaroos would embark on making one final album for the label. Targeted for release in 1975, that album was Country Singer’s Prayer. As is customary, a single or two from an album are usually released first to test the waters for the full monte. The title track from the record, a straight-up country weeper, was the first single and when it stiffed on the charts, Capitol decided to shelve the album release. Now over 40 years later, Country Singer’s Prayer finally sees the light of day. Featuring the original 10 cuts to go with two bonus tracks (“B” sides of the album’s first two singles) and including new liner notes, it represents the final chapter in Owens’ lengthy run at Capitol. Whereas it does not break any new ground, it is a worthy addition to the Owens catalogue and for completists, it is must-have goods.
The big music festival event in these parts happens next weekend (i.e., Labor Day weekend). The annual Rhythm & Roots Festival begins on Friday, August 31, and continues through late night Sunday of that weekend at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. The 21th edition of the event is overloaded with talent featured across multiple stages. This year’s headliners include Taj Mahal Trio, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Leftover Salmon, Hot Rize (featuring Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers, Donna the Buffalo, and Asleep at the Wheel. Also performing are Los Texmaniacs, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Shinyribs, CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Bonerama, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Say Darling, Feufollet, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Cedric Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters, Session Americana, Dustbowl Revival, Girls Guns & Glory, Earle & Coffin, Kristin Andreassen & Bright Sides, GroovaLottos, Len Cabral, and more. Visit www.rhythmandroots.com for all the information.
Victor Wainwright & the Train are at Chan’s Restaurant (267 Main Street) in Woonsocket on Friday night. Local favorites Sugar Ray & the Bluetones perform on Saturday night at the house of eggrolls and blues. Show time each evening is 8 pm. Also in Woonsocket this weekend, the city’s summer music series held weekly on Friday evenings during July and August at the downtown River Art Park (95 Bernon Street) continues this Friday with appearances by Quincy Mumford, Emily Luther, and Grace vs Gravity. It’s a free event running from 6 to 9 pm.
A terrific twin bill happens at Askew in Providence (150 Chesnutt Street) on Saturday night with local stalwart Ian Fitzgerald and singer/songwriter Anna Tivel each performing. The Portland, Oregon-based Tivel released one of my favorite albums of 2017 called Small Believer (Fluff & Gravy Records). It’s a 9 pm start time.
The Providence Folk Festival is back again this year and it all goes down on Sunday with a lineup that includes Ariel Zevon (daughter of the late Warren Zevon), Brenda Bennett, Jaime Michaels, Cardboard Ox, Allysen Callery, Bob Kendall, and more. It happens at the Roger Williams National Memorial Park located at 282 North Main Street in Providence. Music starts at noon. Best of all, it’s a free event.
Several shows of note next week all happening on Thursday evening. Get your Rhythm & Roots festival fix on Thursday night with a pre-fest kickoff show by Donna the Buffalo happening at The Knickerbocker Music Center in Westerly (35 Railroad Avenue). The Towers in Narragansett (35 Ocean Road) concludes its summer music & dance series with Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys who will no doubt get the blood boiling with their Cajun sounds starting at 7 pm. In Providence that same evening, country swing master Wayne “The Train” Hancock returns to our Capital city for a show at Askew (150 Chesnutt Street) with doors at 8 and music starting at 9. The Teledynes and Zack Slik are also on the bill.
Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3.