The Random Five

I often do six-packs of established artists or new music. But then I have all these songs I know of or hear where I just want to feature that one song. Or let’s just say I have a potpourri of songs I like, wanted to post, and didn’t exactly know what to do with. Or songs I couldn’t squeeze into other posts but loved. Hence, the random five (which may occasionally be six).

First up, a true New Englander, Ray La Montagne. (Pictured on top of post.) Ray was born in Nashua, NH, (not all that far away from yours truly), made his way to Utah for a while and moved to Lewiston, Maine after high school.

According to Wikipedia: “LaMontagne was inspired to quit his job and begin a career as a singer-songwriter after waking up one morning to the radio on his alarm clock playing the Stephen Stills’ song “Treetop Flyer.” (I wake up to songs all the time and the only thing I’m ever inspired to do is go pee – ME)

LaMontagne began performing in 1999 while maintaining a part-time job as a tutor. In the summer of 1999, he recorded ten songs for a demo album that was sent to various local music venues including Maine’s Oddfellow Theater.”

To date, he’s released eight studio albums and if you haven’t heard him in all this time it’s because he’s the kinda guy FM radio doesn’t much play and used to play all the time. You can be forgiven if you think his song “Three More Days” from Till the Sun Turns Black sounds like Joe Cocker:

Spotify link

You likely all know Joe Bonamassa. I’m sure I haven’t written about him enough if at all. He is one of the kings of blues guitar who, by his own admission, learned more from the British blues guys than he did from their black “ancestors.”

“You know, my heroes were the English guys – Paul Kossoff, Peter Green, Eric Clapton,” he advises. “There’s a certain sophistication to their approach to the blues that I really like, more so than the American blues that I was listening to. B.B. King’s a big influence – he’s probably my biggest traditional influence.

I love Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and T-Bone Walker, and stuff like that, but I couldn’t sit down. I was always forcing myself to listen to whole records by them, where I’d rather listen to Humble Pie do “I’m Ready” than Muddy Waters, you know? I think, the English interpretation of the blues just hit me a lot better, you know?”

Here he is cranking away on “Last Kiss.”

Spotify link

“Nickel Creek is an American Americana music group consisting of Chris Thile (mandolin), and siblings Sara Watkins (fiddle), and Sean Watkins (guitar). Formed in 1989 in Southern California, they released six albums between 1993 and 2006. The band broke out in 2000 with a platinum-selling self-titled album produced by Alison Krauss, earning a number of Grammy and CMA nominations.”

Wikipedia lists their genres as progressive bluegrass, acoustic pop, country, folk, rock. I’ve been meaning to post this tune, “Smoothie Song,” for a while. This is the kind of music you listen to when you go to some outdoor summer music festival and you’re hanging in the sun, layin’ on the lawn:

Spotify link

Quick history on Maria Muldaur – She was born Maria Grazia Rosa Domenica D’Amato (so, a nice Jewish girl) in Greenwich Village. She began her career in the early 1960s as Maria D’Amato, performing with John Sebastian, David Grisman, and Stefan Grossman as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band.

During this time, she was part of the Greenwich Village scene that included Bob Dylan, married fellow Jug Band member Geoff Muldaur, and after the Kweskin Jug band broke up, the two of them produced two albums. She began her solo career when their marriage ended in 1972 but retained her married name.

You might recall Muldaur’s one and only Top 40 hit, “Midnight at the Oasis,” with its oh-so-naughty implications:

But you won’t need no harem, honey
When I’m by your side
And you won’t need no camel, no no
When I take you for a ride

(Is it hot in here or is it me?)

Anyway, if you like good gospel, you gotta hear Muldaur and Bonnie Raitt singing (and Bonnie playing) on “It’s a Blessing.”

Spotify link

I didn’t know much about Wilko Johnson till a few years back till I did a Dr. Feelgood tune. They were a pub-rock band and he was their guitarist. He was (is) more of a fingerstyle player which helped him create a “highly percussive guitar sound.” Of him, Paul Weller has said,  “Wilko may not be as famous as some other guitarists, but he’s right up there. And there are a lot of people who’ll say the same. I can hear Wilko in lots of places. It’s some legacy.”

Here’s his (my) belated tribute to 4/20 day, “Marijuana.”

Spotify link

35 thoughts on “The Random Five

    1. Interestingly I first heard of Ray from a friend who just moved up to Maine. That was several years ago. He’s got some good stuff. A very soulful singer. Thile is.. Wilko??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I bought his first three records as they came out – I had a few friends who worked in record stores at the time, and they were all playing his stuff a lot.

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  1. This is a great mix of songs! Like you said about Nickel Creek, these songs make me itch for a summer festival. Fingers crossed that we’ll get to enjoy them again soon.

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    1. Lowell, MA has a nice, lively music scene. They have what they call a folk festival every July but it’s really somewhat of an Americana type thing. It’s all over the city and so we usually walk around and catch different acts. pretty much all outdoors.

      But apart from that they have an outdoor weekly music festival where we’ve seen people like Buddy Guy and others. They are advertising, we are both vaccinated and hence, very tempted to go. Very easy to socially distance there.

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      1. That’s so great. We’re still looking like we’ll be tightened up til mid summer (July-ish). We usually have one of each outdoor blues, jazz & folk festivals, but no one’s committing to anything yet.

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        1. Yeah, well let’s say we ain’t running out to buy tickets just yet. And if we do I suspect it’ll be for well into the summer. Fenway Park is currently restricted to about 4500 fans per game. But strangely, my daughter got tickets to see Lady Gaga there in August. It holds about 35,000 people. Do they know something we don’t? It’s the city that decides on capacity during this thing so I’m not sure what to make of that.

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  2. Familiar with both Ray and Joe just never took a deep plunge. Like the Nickel Creek. Cool to see Metallica’s bassist involved. You just never know. Been a fan Of MM’s for a long time. She still pumps out good music. Been onto Wilko for a long time. We talked about the album him and Daltrey did a few years ago

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    1. CB’s on it. Joe is pretty well-known but Ray is, I think, less so. Metallica’s bassist? What did I miss? I recall discussing Wilko but I completely forget the Daltrey part.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, when I watched the clip I recognized Metallica’s bassist. I love musical get togethers like that especially when they work.
        I have a cut of Joe doing a great version of ‘Lazy’ with Jimmy Barnes (Australian singer)

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        1. Just listened to it. Doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Keyboard player went apeshit on the intro. Joe is a beast of course. Interesting that instead of having JB do the solo like on the record they all traded off. I’d like to go back to that rock and roll camp and do that one. Everybody knew it but it wasn’t on the pick list.

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        2. Ill come up with something. Like you say that organ on the cover isnt to shabby. A real good example of some no bullshit musicians laying it down. Jimmy’s vocals are killer. Looks like he just dropped in after lunch with the family to sing a bit.

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        3. A buddy of mine is a huge fan of both Joe and Knopfler. I like Joe but he came along way late in my blues appreciation. SRV was probably the last blues guitarist I was really into.

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        4. Here’s one you might remember. He has a huge library. So if your interested there’s lots there. He’s good. When I got into him he was like a Boss, Mellencamp vibe but he’s all over the place.

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  3. I like Ray, but I find his discography a little patchy. That said, I have most of it… though my favourites are Trouble, God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise, and Ouroboros (possibly my favourite). Joe is a strange one, too. I have a few pals that really dig him, but they couldn’t recommend a studio album – instead pointing me toward his live stuff. I think he’s okay. I like that he’s quite open about his influences and how he goes about things, but Ive yet to hear something by him that really moves me. Y’know? A great player… no doubt… a tendency to overplay? Maybe.

    Some other stuff here for me to check out a bit more of – Nickel Creek especially.

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    1. I’m more in agreement with you than not. I like Ray but really haven’t tremendously gotten into him. Likewise JB. I feel like with Joe I’ve been there and done that on so many blues guitarists, he’s just late in the game for me. And for both of them, I never really buy albums anymore so there’s no way for me to really build any fan loyalty. I’ve been sitting on Nickel Creek for a while for no good reason but they’ve got a great sound.

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  4. Cracking bunch again, sir. I haven’t caught up with Ray in years but I played the arse out of his first two albums – real talent. Wilko has a very unique playing style but it’s Joe Bonamassa track that’s the standout for me, but then I’ve been listening to a lot of the blues stuff of late

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    1. Yes, it turns out LaMontagne is more well-known than I’d anticipated. I haven’t seen anyone write about him. BTW, i see you subscribed again. I take it you are still plagued with not getting notifications. I suggest that you might just check over here every 4 or 5 days which is typically how often I post.

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      1. Did I? I wasn’t aware I’d unsubscribed – perhaps it’s just down to not being ‘about’ as much. I’ll keep checking in

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        1. I don’t think you did. Unsubscribe that is. You can subscribe 15 times and Word Press will let you. Could be a glitch but I got a notice.

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