Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli:
One listen to Lori’s voice and you’ll understand why she’s an award-winner; she was recognized in 2010’s Great American Songwriting Contest, and received Pulse Magazine’s Best Female Vocalist award in 2011 and 2012. Evocative of renowned songbirds like Sarah McLachlan and Joni Mitchell, Lori’s warm, emotive, and pitch-perfect voice conveys vulnerability and confidence in simultaneous and equal measure.
Add capable multi-instrumentalist Fred Abatelli to the mix and you’ve got something of a quiet powerhouse on your hands. The instrumentation on the four CDs available on their Nimbit store is largely piano and acoustic guitar driven, making for a collection of songs that are absolutely perfect for unwinding after a hard days’ work.
Their recordings reward repeat listenings through judicious use of vocal harmony and divergent instrumentation—but never too much of either. Lori’s voice and lyrics are the real stars of the show, here, and the arrangements sensibly give them both plenty of space. Given the duo’s thematic focus on empathy, it seems just that a portion of all of their CD sales go to support NEADS—a nonprofit organization that provides independence to people who are deaf or have a disability through the use of canine assistance
Of particular note, Lori is maximizing the potential of Nimbit’s Calendar feature. Her show listings include not only the critical information of where and when, but even screen caps of the venue’s location on Google Maps to help attendees get their bearings.
A smart move. Also included is venue contact info, links to ticket purchases, and Lori’s own thoughts about the venues and festivals she’ll be performing in, which is a nice personal touch, likely appreciated by venue owners—a little goodwill can go a long way toward repeat bookings. Lori has clearly created some demand for her shows and is planning ahead, as her calendar has bookings well into October of 2015!
Telecaster elite Jim Weider has been in the game for a lifetime. He’s one of those incredible guitarists that has somehow flown under the radar of many—but I’ll put it to ya this way: When The Band reformed in 1985, Jim was the go-to first-call six-stringer to replace Robbie Robertson.
You don’t get that gig without knowing your way around a fretboard. Jim didn’t just get the gig, but kept it for 15 years.
The Weider collaborator name-drop roll call reads more or less like a who’s who of Woodstock-era wunderkinds: The Band, Dylan, Taj Mahal, Paul Butterfield, and more. Further luminary collaborators include other folks you may have heard of—including a guy who calls himself “Keith Richards,” and someone else called “Mavis Staples.”
Oh, and Jim was born in Woodstock, New York. Just sayin’.
Jim’s Nimbit store is largely focused on his most recent effort, PRoJECT PERCoLAToR, a notable diversion from his rootsy roots. PRoJECT PERCoLAToR is a little more on the experimental side of things, instead focusing on multi-layered guitar parts and looped drums and percussion. The result is a series of groove-driven efforts that offer a fresh direction for Jim—one that listeners familiar with Jim’s pedigree may be surprised by. Studio and live albums are both available.
Something we don’t see every day in the merch section of Nimbit stores is instructional resources. Jim’s got a bevy of guitar instructional DVDs covering blues, country blues, and rockabilly—all of which are available autographed! Also available is the exhaustively researched Get That Classic Fender Sound DVD, an exploration of vintage Fender guitars and amps from the 50s and 60s that gear geeks will flip a chrome tailpiece for.
Roomful of Blues:
Cards, meet table: Roomful of Blues formed in 1967, and are currently celebrating their 45–year anniversary. Think about that for a second—how many bands can you name that have been around for 45 years and are still kicking?
Hmm, let’s see. Motorhead? Nope, formed in ’75. Cock Sparrer? Close at 1972. The Rolling Stones? Well, they formed in 1962, so they check out OK… but that means when it comes to finding a contemporary for Roomful of Blues, The Stones are the only fair comparison?
Seriously. The Stones? The Stones? Yep. Wow.
While lineup changes are to be expected in an outfit of this vintage, Roomful of Blues is currently a horn-heavy octet fronted by powerhouse vocalist Phil Pemberton. They’ve been known to draw from blues of all shades, and as a result have developed a sound that incorporates swing, soul, and some New Orleans flavor that keeps even blues aficionados guessing as to what the band will do next. Critics have taken note as well, and to date the band has earned five Grammy Award nominations, seven Blues Music Awards noms—including a win.
45 Live was just released on July 30, 2013, in celebration of the aforementioned anniversary. The band packed a three-day party at Mantunuck, Rhode Islands’ The Ocean Mist, and played their hearts out evey night, recording every note. The best performances from the anniversary show make up the 45 Live disc—which sounds a lot better than most live records, BTW.
I understand that some might argue that it’s not about the years, it’s about the mileage—and if so, RoB is the blues’ equivalent of an unstoppable Mack truck that has steadily, reliably been shipping music lovers up and down Highway 95 for a lifetime. The Roomful of Blues Nimbit store boasts a handful of T-shirts, but the real star here is the discography—SEVENTEEN full-length albums available via CD or HD download! In the time I’ve been writing these Nimbit Artist of the Week Posts, that’s the most I’ve seen a band offer. It sets the record for number of records.
In an ecologically conscious 2014, it might be less than PC to acknowledge that demons are the most efficient fuel for a songwriter’s fire. But Travis Meadows, who grew up hard in Jackson, Mississippi, probably isn’t too worried about that. Now hailing from Nashville, Meadows has spent the last couple of decades grabbing his demons by the neck and throwing them into his personal incinerator. Who ya gonna call?
The result is a school of gritty, haunted country rock that harkens back to a time before mainstream country went paradoxically digital. Travis’ three offerings on Nimbit are more about spit than polish, and in era where “wild” songbirds are getting their chirps Auto-Tuned, a little bit of Meadows straight-shooting is just the rooster-cry CM needs right now. While his repertoire leans heavily on emotive ballads that may belie his 5-o’clock shadow/sunglasses after dark image, there’s also a weighty darkness in creepers like “Good Country People” that offer a stirring window to another side of Travis’ soul. His lyrical content is deeply personal, acknowledging his win over cancer, the loss of his leg, and victories over a few different kinds of bottles. Heartstrings tugged hard enough to snap.
Travis was decorated in 2001 with ASCAP’s Christian Music Award, and has landed eight Top 20 singles in the Contemporary Christian genre. He’s also found success in lending his songs to other performers, including the title track of Dierks Bentley’s latest album, Riser. He’s also a staff writer at Universal. Writing collaborators include Lynard Skynyrd, Lee Ann Womack, and Jake Owen, and Adam Brand. He’s the subject of a recent feature in Rolling Stone as Nashville’s Hottest Songwriter, and is featured in this duet with Jake Owen,”What We Ain’t Got.”
Travis has cherry-picked a fine lineup of session players to round out these records; highlights include some excellent flourishes of organ and pedal steel on “Play with Fire” from My Life 101. Said additions enhance the record in a manner that’s not over-the-top or distracting from what’s important here: the stories. That said, critical listeners will not overlook the caliber of these performances. There’s not really any showboating here, but they’re strong enough to make a listener think “I’ll never be good enough to play that.” Not to say that Travis’ chops as a guitars and vocalist couldn’t carry these records alone—they can—and on more restrained tracks (“Lonely Like This,”) they do. Dusty without the rusty.
My Life 101 concludes with one of the more stirring renditions of “Amazing Grace” that I’ve heard in a long time, a suitable counterpoint to some of the rough-and-tumble ruckus of the previous tracks.
Travis’ Nimbit profile boasts not only three full-length albums and his tour schedule, but also four live performance videos—something that we don’t see enough of on these profiles, so take note!
While a formidable country songwriter and arranger in her own right, Suzy Bogguss’ voice is the centerpiece of her sonic offering. Anyone who’s heard it once will immediately recognize it on a subsequent listen—heartfelt and pitch-perfect, with just a touch of lonesome smoke. Suzy’s been in the game a while, now, having scored a string of top ten singles in the 90s, including “Outbound Plane,” “Drive South,” “Hey Cinderella,” “Letting Go” and, most notably, “Aces,” The title track of her platinum-selling 1991 album. All told, three of her albums have raked in gold album status, and to date she’s moved a total of three million copies and taken home awards from the CMA, ACM, and the Grammys.
She’s not one to hang up her hat on such accomplishments—nowadays, Suzy plays a lot of shows, and somehow finds the time to run her own label, Loyal Dutchess—which has allowed her complete creative freedom and ownership of her material. Her latest full-length, Lucky, illustrates the benefits of having set out on her own. Lucky finds Suzy reinterpreting classics from none other than Merle Haggard. The admittedly sparse, acoustic instrumentation allows Suzy’s aforementioned voice—and the stories it tells—to drive the entire record. And as anyone who’s listened to Merle Haggard knows, the story is what matters most.
Suzy’s Nimbit store is packed with no fewer than nine full-length records, including a Christmas album and a greatest hits compilation. She’s also taking advantage of the platform’s Calendar feature, and from the looks of things she’s pretty booked up through late April. If she rolls through your town, she is not to be missed.
Dave Coffin‘s involvement in the music biz started when he was very young, potentially even prenatal—he was born into a supportive family who raised him in an environment rife with classical music, and you know what they say about kids who hear Mozart while in the womb.
As Dave grew up a little, his aptitude for music was clear, and said supportive family encouraged his musical leanings by buying him a strat for his ninth birthday. Despite having been raised on the classics, Dave found himself drawn more toward mohawks than powdered wigs, and wound up cutting his musical teeth on punk rock.
While his parents may not have been able to sway him from Green Day, Dave Matthews (yes, that Dave Matthews) did. After hearing the siren song of DMB, Coffin cashed in the strat and amp for a Martin, and the rest is history. He wrote and recorded acoustically for six years before pulling up stakes from Maine and shipping up to Boston for college, where he majored in Ellis Paul with a minor in Patty Griffin.
Dave’s Nimbit store offers two four-song EPs and the 2010 full-length, The King is Dead. The Dave is alive, fortunately, and so are many of his session-player friends, who joined him in the studio to make their mark on Dead, and it sounds great as a result. Dave’s earnest performance, songs, and sincerity probably helped a lot, too. Give it a close listen, and you may well be able to hear a streak of politically-charged punk rock attitude here—buried quietly somewhere in the songwriter’s heart, and no longer worn on a safety-pinned sleeve.