Dave Miller

Dave Miller

Tompkins Square

With his eponymous, second solo album, Dave Miller—a Chicago by way of New York by way of Chicago guitarist—has realized his crowning glory.

Miller seems more focused, more melodic and generally more guitar-centric this time around, with almost nary a hint of the avant-garde jazz/psychedelic/folk found on 2016’s “Old Door Phantoms” or the experimental rock on the three albums by previous band Algernon.

Continuing in the instrumental-music vein of the above-mentioned efforts, “Dave Miller” has secured the man a spot alongside such tone meisters as Bill Frisell, Arlen Roth, John Jorgenson, Charlie Hunter and Johnny A.

Miller was kind enough to talk a little about his latest refinements.

“I’m always writing music, studying composition and developing my sound on the guitar,” he told Good New Music by email. “That never really stops and is a daily practice. That being said, I do prioritize melody a whole hell of a lot.”

As far as this reviewer’s perceived increase in Miller’s focus, “… that is for sure something I also practice on a daily basis,” he replied, “in all walks of life, really—trying to be more present and trim the fat. I think the main thing that was different about this record vs. ‘Old Door Phantoms’ is that, since I own the (Whiskey Point Recording) studio, I had unlimited studio time to add more instruments, mix to my heart’s content, and generally spend a ton of quality time to sculpt the product. That was indispensable, for sure.”

His stylistic eclecticism remains, matched by the variety of guitars he uses on the album. Here’s a list he provided GNM “from memory”: Gibson ES-335, Fano TC6 Alt de Facto, Teisco Del Ray ET-200, Danelectro baritone, Breedlove acoustic and Gretsch 5715 Electromatic lap steel.

Opening cut “Hand Dipped” delights in its multitracked guitars, which include soul-shaking rhythm and laser-sharp lead set off by fuzzy forays into distortion that take over and carry the tune as they pan back-and-forth between the left and right channels.

The slightly Afro-soul “Rollerblade or Die” chugs along in raw magnificence with a faint sheen of old-school-dub reverb, not unlike something by the Budos Band. “Your New Truth” rings of late-’50s sentimental balladry—imagine Johnny playing “Sleep Walk” without Santo, with a surprise blues coda.

The pinnacle, however, is reached on the penultimate “BW,” a high-energy amalgamation that takes the best bits of “Polk Salad Annie,” “Harper Valley PTA” and “Dance to the Music,” and drops in a little chicken-pickin’ at just the right spot.

1. Hand Dipped
2. Fellow Man
3. Rollerblade Or Die
4. Bison Boom
5. Your New Truth
6. Ellie & Arthur
7. BW
8. Deep Moraine

Total time: 41:00

External links
artist’s site

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Green Leaf Rustlers

From Within Marin

Silver Arrow

As far back as Foamfoot, a 1994 ensemble thrown together for one show at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, singer Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes has shown a penchant for covering classic rock songs.

After slide guitarist Luther Dickinson joined the Crowes in 2007, the percentage and quality of cover songs in their shows really took off, perhaps best exemplified during the group’s December 2010 run at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

In 2011, after two hiatuses and four years prior to the Crowes’ breakup (thankfully a third reunion is in the wings for this summer), Robinson began busying himself with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood—a Grateful Dead-inspired band that issued six studio albums. In 2018 and 2019, he mostly stuck close to his Marin County home with the Green Leaf Rustlers: a “cosmic American” jamband supergroup formed to cover old-school country rock standards.

As did many of the genre’s pioneers, the Rustlers emphasized the value of maverick pedal steel guitar playing, and Barry Sless (Moonalice, David Nelson Band) was more than up to the task. The Rustlers’ inaugural release, “From Within Marin,” is a live album of highlights from three nights at the Sweetwater Inn in March 2018 (before a keyboardist was added); its 10 tracks were recorded and culled by legendary Grateful Dead engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson.

Robinson and Sless are joined on “Marin” by bassist Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship, Moonalice), drummer John Molo (Bruce Hornsby and the Range) and guitarist Greg Loiacono (Mother Hips). Good New Music emailed Sless to ask him a few questions.

• • •

GNM: You must be in heaven when you get to play those long solos during these really cool old-school country rock tunes. Do you get to just play what you feel, or does Chris Robinson tell you which songs, where and how long?

SLESS: Well, being a player that has made most of my living improvising, it’s always nice to be part of a project with like-minded players where we have the flexibility to do that. Chris decides which songs we stretch out on and generally where, but never tells us what to play or for how long. If he hears that one of us is developing a solo and continuing to build it, he’ll let it go as long as it needs and sometimes even gives the nod to take it around one more time and push it a little farther along. And then there’s a few jams on the record that I play guitar on that are completely open-ended and not restricted by a chord progression, and they’re free to go anywhere the muse leads them.

GNM: Were you a regular-guitar player first, and then at some point decided to take a stab at pedal steel? If so, was there a defining moment of inspiration that you can cite?

SLESS: The first pedal steel I was aware of hearing was on CSNY’s “Teach Your Children.” The sound really caught my ear, and I was wondering what the instrument was that made that sound. That was Jerry Garcia playing it and was before I was familiar with who he was. At some point I got turned on to Poco, who had the great pedal steel player Rusty Young; the Flying Burrito Brothers, who had Sneaky Pete Kleinow and later Al Perkins; and Pure Prairie League, who had John David Call and Al Brisco on steel. I had been playing guitar for a few years and starting trying to emulate the steel stuff those guys were playing on guitar until I had the opportunity to get a pedal steel. One night on the way to one of my first regular gigs, I was surfing the AM radio stations in my car and discovered I could pick up the Grand Old Opry from WSM in Nashville on the weekends. At that point I started listening to old-school country and trying to pick up ideas from those cats. That opened me up to a whole new world of pedal steel.

GNM: Have you ever thought of making your own solo album, possibly an instrumental pedal steel (and/or regular-guitar) one?

SLESS: The thought has crossed my mind to do a pedal steel album that I also play guitar on. Maybe some day …

• • •

Robinson, Sless & Co. have done a real service in the cause of preserving a nearly forgotten musical genre, while putting their own twist on it via extended improvisation. Here’s hoping others are inspired to carry the torch, and that the Green Leaf Rustlers stage their own reunion in the future—or at least release more live recordings that undoubtedly are in the can somewhere.

1. Big Mouth Blues (Gram Parsons)
2. Just Groove Me (Doug Sahm)
3. No Expectations (Rolling Stones)
4. Jam
5. Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)>
6. That’s All Right (Elvis Presley)
7. Standin’ (Townes Van Zandt)
8. Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan)
9. I’m A Ramblin’ Man (Waylon Jennings)>
10. Ride Me High (J.J. Cale)

Total time: 1:04:28

External links
artist’s site
Apple Music

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Harry Nilsson

Losst and Founnd


A quarter-century after his death and nearly 40 years after his last album, Harry Nilsson still can do no wrong.

This archive release might not be the exact “comeback album” he had in mind when he began sessions for the tentatively titled “Papa’s Got a Brown New Robe” prior to his demise, but at least some of the songs from those sessions are finally getting the treatment they deserve.

“Losst and Founnd,” as realized by friend Mark Hudson (whom the singer-songwriter initially tapped as producer), is more cohesive than latter-day Nilsson efforts such as “Sandman” and “…That’s the Way It Is.” It’s also a slap in the face of naysaying online-forum commenters who spouted off before hearing it.

As anyone who’s heard the original demos that have circulated on the internet can attest,”Lost” could not have been easy to produce. Hudson’s work to smooth out Nilsson’s voice—which had been dealt a permanent blow when he continued to sing after suffering vocal-cord damage during the recording of the “Pussy Cats” LP—is impressive. But also remarkable is his judicious inclusion of only the cream of the “Robe” crop, rounding out the album with a Jimmy Webb and a Yoko Ono cover (“What Does a Woman See in a Man” and “Listen, the Snow Is Falling,” respectively) as well as a song from Nilsson’s stage musical, “Zapata” (“Love Is the Answer”).

All of the songs were rebuilt to varying degrees, with several reportedly having been recorded to four-track cassette in the home studio of another Nilsson friend, Andy Cahan. At least one cut was stripped down to just Nilsson’s vocal before instruments were added back.

Webb, Van Dyke Parks and Jim Keltner, as well as Nilsson’s bass-playing son Kiefo Nilsson, are among those who helped modernize the tracks. But it’s guitar slingers Ricky Z and Paul Santo who really added some sparkle, collectively laying down some well-placed slide on five of the selections.

1. Lost And Found
2. Woman Oh Woman
3. U.C.L.A.
4. Hi-Heel Sneakers/Rescue Boy Medley
5. Lullaby
6. Animal Farm
7. Listen, The Snow Is Falling
8. Try
9. Love Is The Answer
10. Yo Dodger Blue
11. What Does A Woman See In A Man

Total time: 43:00

External links
artist’s site
Omnivore store
iTunes Store

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In the Clearing

Crispin Glover

Sugarfoot’s latest represents a branching out: Unlike the Norwegian band’s earlier releases, the overall feel of the music has become “country prog” (for lack of a better term) more than simply “country rock.”

No doubt this has something to do with the fact that bassist Bent Sæther also is in Motorpsycho (not to be confused with Motorhead, although the former group did start out in kind of a prog-inspired hard rock vein before incorporating psychedelic, pop and avant-jazz elements).

Of course, founding members and guitarists Øyvind Holm and Hogne Galåen, who were in psych-pop outfit Deleted Waveform Gatherings, obviously are not ones to be tied to a mainstream musical genre either.

But perhaps the man most responsible for Sugarfoot’s evolutionary quantum leap is producer Lars Horntveth, himself a musician and composer with experimental jazz group Jaga Jazzist.

Galåen, when asked by email, was kind enough to tell Good New Music the story of how Sugarfoot ended up with such a strong producer:

“Lars Horntveth had collaborated with Motorpsycho earlier … and we needed to think fresh after two albums recorded at Rancho de la Luna, Joshua Tree,” Galåen explained. “We knew that Lars would have a different approach to this album just by knowing who he is as a producer, but also as a musician. We spent some days together before going to France and Black Box Studio and we hit it off right away. It’s fair to say that all the songwriters in Sugarfoot present songs to the band, which then either will be formed in style by every member or it will die there and then as an SF song, but this time we let Lars make all decisions regarding what songs to record. We ended up with 11 songs recorded in this amazing studio in rural France, two of which did not end up on the album, but were released as a bonus 7” with the (500-copy, sold-out) first edition of ‘In the Clearing.’ …

“After the week in the studio, we took a break from it, knowing that Lars would still be working on this from his hometown Oslo, and after a while the sessions started to reappear and we all knew that this was going to be something different. The rest of the backing vocals and percussion were finished and Lars took it to (Blanca Studio in Bergen, Norway) and mixed it together with Matias Tellez, who also did a fantastic job.

“You know, one special thing about this album is that the sound it has, is so big in the way that every tiny little detail is so clear. I’m absolutely stunned by how it came out. And the reception from the fans has been overwhelming. It is good to be in Sugarfoot at the moment and we’re gonna play as much as we can for the fans, but Norway is not the best country (in which) to be a touring band—cold snowy winters and long distances between the big cities combined with roads over big mountains. It’s surely not the best and pretty expensive but hey, in the long run it is worth it!”

Comprising another major factor in the album’s excellence are the pedal-steel stylings of member Roar Øien, whose playing sounds decidedly more non-country, perhaps even jazzy, this time around. GNM posited this perception to Galåen, who responded:

“Roar is the best pedal steel player I’ve ever heard! He can adapt to anything, whether it’s pure country or in (more of a Daniel) Lanois landscape.

“The first time we met Roar was when (Deleted Waveform Gatherings) still had some momentum. We were finishing a double album and he put down a few tracks on it. We fell in love with his playing right there and then, and he’s not just a fantastic player but also one of the best guys you’ll ever meet.

“On ‘In the Clearing’ he’s amazing. I believe Lars made an impact on him as well as all of the other members—like if our mantra was to really try to do something different, something we’d never done before. … This was really different for all of us.”

Opening track “Changing Times” is a perfect example of the newfound “country prog” motif—Jon Anderson-like vocal refrains, Chris Squire-ish bass runs, Tony Kaye-style organ riffs and even a mini acoustic guitar solo à la Steve Howe, all with the added delight of pedal-steel embellishments poking their little heads out like eels from their hiding places!

The title track’s structure and arrangement are mind-blowing and allow it to fluctuate in spirit between Poco in its finest spaced-out pedal steel hour (think “Driving Wheel” from 1974’s “Seven”) and Led Zeppelin during its Middle Eastern infatuation phase (i.e. “Kashmir” on 1975’s “Physical Graffiti”).

The pedal steel takes center stage for “Ladybug Fly,” serving as lead guitar on a light and airy song that also boasts impressive harmony vocals, acoustic strumming and a nearly military drum beat. A unique closing passage sees all the instruments except pedal steel slow to nearly a stop and then gradually resume their previous tempo, all while the vocals and pedal steel continue unabated.

Lead singer Holm hands the reins over to Sæther for the “The House on the Hill,” a Sæther composition that despite featuring a Clavinet in stark contrast to other, pseudo-electronica passages manages to overall have the feel of “Countdown to Ecstasy”-era Steely Dan!

Closing out the album is by far the proggiest track, “Foggy Town, Pt. 2—Noyant-La-Gravoyère,” named after the municipality in western France where Black Box Studio is located. It begins in earnest as a ballad, but after about four minutes the tempo shifts as the song becomes an instrumental and the keyboards morph into the sound of Tony Banks on early Genesis LPs such as “Nursery Cryme” and “Foxtrot.”

At the end of the day, Sugarfoot’s fifth effort is a fine updating of classic country rock, lending new meaning to the term “Cosmic American Music” in a way that genre pioneer Gram Parsons surely would have appreciated.

1. Changing Times
2. Cotton Candy Clouds
3. In The Clearing
4. Ladybug
5. Just A Dream
6. The House On The Hill
7. Little Miss Darkness
8. Original Sin
9. Foggy Town, Pt. 2—Noyant-La-Gravoyère

Total time: 45:00

External links
artist link
Crispin Glover Records (vinyl)

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Simon Flory



More than just an outstanding, no-frills sophomore album from a down-to-earth Texas singer/songwriter with serious backwoods cred, “Radioville” represents can-do spirit and DIY philosophy — not unlike the sustainable farming and light industry found on some communes back in the ’70s!

And speaking of the ’70s: According to the back cover, Simon Flory’s new release was recorded on a 1970s Neve console using low-wattage tube amps and vintage microphones, live to a rescued tape machine, without click tracks or post-production corrections.

And in true communal fashion, Flory’s friends helped him out: Marshall Terry (son of Eric Clapton guitarist George Terry) engineered and co-produced. The recording was done at the Shaman Shack, a former reefer truck turned NBC remote-feed truck that Terry converted into a studio parked in a warehouse on the east side of Austin.

Jody Suarez, Matt Roth and Dan Patrevito served as the core backup group (drums, bass and Wurlitzer, respectively) on the album’s five full-band tracks.

From Flory’s liner notes:

“The full band tracks were cut June of ’17 in the midst of a central Texas heat wave. We couldn’t all fit in the truck, so we ran a snake out to the back corner of the stagnant warehouse lit with a few floodlamps, but no talkback mic to the truck. We’d holler after takes, reviewing before we rewound over the track or kept it. We only had six inches of tape left over at the end.”

Among the other friends chipping in for Flory’s all-original set of tunes were roots music singer/guitarist/songwriter Charley Crockett; blues singer/guitarist Dylan Bishop; country songstress Summer Dean; Guy Clark protégé Noel McKay; and multi-stringed-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Brennen Leigh.

The songs on “Radioville” are like short stories, and that’s the point. In an interview with Voyage Dallas magazine, Flory says: “I don’t want to be a living museum piece of ‘roots’ music, I want to shed a little light on the struggle of real human lives, not caricature them. My goal is to tell stories that find a home and make an impact of positive change in someone’s life.”

Kickoff track “American Ancients,” according to Flory’s Facebook page, is “a song based on conversations with the homeless citizens of Texas.” Channeling one such citizen, he sings, “My touch is radiation on your fingertips. When you hand me spare change, I feel it.”

An inmate and his wife exchange letters in “County Fair,” a stripped-down duet with Dean. “I never meant to hurt nobody. But for $27, I will miss you always,” the convict tells her, as a mournful pedal steel provides an acoustic guitar’s sole accompaniment.

In the title song, a narrator with an intentionally exaggerated drawl sets the scene (“There’s an old bowling alley just wasting away, where I played my only 100-point game”) before launching into a progressively plaintive talking-blues dirge about being stuck in Radioville.

Perhaps the best case for listening to the album can be found in the liner notes’ foreword by Taylor W. Rushing, who did the cover art: “Introducing the world to the first proletariat, hillbilly, folk-art honest person’s concept album that transcends commodity!”

1. American Ancients
2. Radioville
3. Hard Luck Kid
4. Station Agent
5. Appalachian Sky
6. First Gear
7. Barefoot Mule
8. County Fair
9. Just Like That
10. Soft Gravel Stone

Total time: 39:26

External links
artist’s site
iTunes Store

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