Delbert McClinton’s 2017 Sandy Beaches Cruise

By Ken Paulson

Delbert McClinton is the host and ringleader of the Sandy Beaches cruise, opening and closing the week, and playing all over the ship throughout the week.

Delbert McClinton is the host and ringleader of the Sandy Beaches cruise.

We’re looking forward to Delbert McClinton’s 2017 Sandy Beaches Cruise, which begins Jan. 6 in Tampa. There’s a relaxed vibe throughout the week, in contrast to other music cruises that include assigned seats and lines to get into shows.

It’s a great line-up, with Marcia Ball, the Mavericks, Marc Broussard, Fred Eaglesmith, Clay McClinton, the Quebe Sisters, Wayne Toups, Red Young, World Famous Headliners, Teresa James, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Etta Britt, the McCrary Sisters, Big Joe Maher, Lari White, Bob DiPiero, Anson Funderburgh, Bluz House Rockers, Bruce Channel, Danny Flowers, Doyle and Debbie, Gary Nicholson, Jimmy Hall, Kimmie Rhodes, Kree Harrison, Lee Roy Parnell, Mike Zito, Mingo Fishtrap, Sharon Vaughn, Shelley King, the Band of Heathens, Spooner Oldham, the Howlin’ Brothers and Tom  Hambridge .

We’ll have full coverage of the 2017 Sandy Beaches cruise, but here’s our report from 2016.

As Marcia Ball wrapped up her first song to polite applause, she seemed a little nonplussed.

“I thought there was a dance floor here,” she said, as she kicked off Delbert McClinton’s Sandy Beaches Cruise 2016. The crowd took the hint, and the rest of the evening – and the week – was one non-stop dance floor.

That sets this music cruise apart from others, where headliners and reserved seats are the norm. The Sandy Beaches crowd listens respectfully, but they move to the music.

That’s probably the influence of McClinton himself, who is a low-key and welcoming presence thoughout the cruise. It’s as though you were invited to Delbert’s house – one with a very large pool – with his musical friends on a Saturday night.

And if this is your first visit to Delbert’s, you won’t feel like a newcomer for long.

“This is your cherry and we’re here to bust it, “ Ball declared, launching into a high-velocity set of rhythm and blues, including the week’s first performance of “Sea Cruise.’ “A lot of nerve, “ she laughed.

“All Night Long” with the Mavericks

Raul Malo of the Mavericks

Raul Malo of the Mavericks

The Mavericks headlined the pool deck stage three times and the energy never flagged. Since reuniting in 2012, the band has been on a roll, culminating in their Grammy nominations for the song “All Night Long” and their Mono album, and being named group of the year in the Americana Music Association awards. When a band with more than two decades of experience hits a new career high, it shows on stage. In their final set of the week, they even played a danceable “Okie from Muskogee.”

 

 The McCrary Sisters Let It Go

The McCrary Sisters delivered their first set on Sunday, appropriately so for this hard-rocking gospel quartet. Regina McCrary spoke of God’s capacity for healing and offered to pray for anyone in need. If you have a burden, you should “Let It Go,” they sang. No, not the song from “Frozen.”

Later in the day, Roger Blevins Jr. and Mingo Fishtrap announced they were going to echo the McCrarys’ advice to “let it go, “though their version would be “more profane.”

It wasn’t all church for the McCrarys . The sisters did the Family Stone proud with an inspired version of “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin.)”

Sandy Beaches Cruise 2016 songwriters

The songwriter sessions were uniformly impressive, giving artists the chance to showcase their writing in an acoustic performance. Sharon Vaughn told the story of how she pitched her classic My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” to Waylon Jennings, who refused to believe she wrote it. Spooner Oldham played songs he co-wrote with Dan Penn, including James and Bobby Purify’s hit “I’m Your Puppet.”

Delbert McClinton joined the songwriters mid-week to showcase songs from a new album due this spring.

The World Famous Headliners

Former NRBQ member Al Anderson has been on the last 18 cruises, but this time he brought his bandmates from the World Famous Headliners . It’s a tongue-in-cheek name, but Anderson, Shawn Camp and Pat McLaughlin make up a potent front three, with stellar guitar work and tight harmonies. The band – deep in writing talent – showcased songs from their new album, including “Hitchike Home,” “The Whoa Whoa Song” and “Fried Chicken,” a song that mashes up Memphis music and the Bee Gees.

The Headliners know no barriers. “We’d like to apologize for these songs,’ McLaughlin told the audience, shortly before Anderson sang “Stick It Where the Sun Don’t Ever Shine.”

The band brings Little Village to mind. That was the storied band featuring Nick Lowe, Ry Cooder, John Hiatt and Jim Keltner, an amazing line-up of players and songwriters that never seemed to gel as a group.

The Headliners gel. They even have their own theme song, which they played at both the beginning and close of their set. “We’re the World Famous Headliners…”

Keb’ Mo’ and the return of Lee Roy Parnell

Among other highlights of  Sandy Beaches Cruise 2016:

Keb’ Mo’ drew big and appreciative crowds poolside with impeccable sets of blues and soul, including his fresh take on the O’Jays’ “Love Train.”

Mingo Fishtrap rallied the audience on the final day, with Blevins Jr. saying that although everyone would have to disembark the next morning, now was the time to “self-lobotomize.” The band then launched into a blistering medley of classic James Brown songs.

Lee Roy Parnell, on the Sandy Beaches Cruise since its inception 22 years ago, was back after a year away. He saluted the late Allen Toussaint with a spirited take on his “Holy Cow.” Lari White joined him for a duet of a song she and Parnell had written, and Etta Britt delivered a powerful “People Get Ready.”

The annual “Pianorama,” with Marcia Ball as ringleader, convened virtually every keyboardist on the cruise for a piano jam. Five players at a time took the stage, trading off parts on songs like “Iko Iko,” “Nothing from Nothing” and Drinkin’ Wine Spo-de-o-dee.”

The Quobe Sisters Band

The Quobe Sisters Band

The Quebe Sisters were a revelation. Their harmonies were gorgeous – in 1940 they would have been the Andrews Sisters –and all three play fiddle beautifully. They draw on a big songbook, but Western Swing is a specialty.

Doyle and Debbie, the lampooning country music revue, doesn’t change and doesn’t need to. It remains fresh and funny.

Alyssa Bonagura was joined onstage by her parents Kathie Baillie and Michael Bonagura, aka “Baillie and the Boys ,” who revisited their musical past, including an impressive “Blue Bayou.” It’s that rare family where the daughter can plug her parents’ CDs at the merch table.

Bruce Channel joined Delbert to perform his big 1962 hit “Hey Baby,” a record on which McClinton played harmonica. I’m sure they’ve performed it together dozens of times, but it’s still a joyous performance.

The Howlin’ Brothers – Ian Craft, JT Huskey and Jared Green impressed audiences with both a reverence for folk, blues and bluegrass classics and their ability to craft new songs that continue the tradition.

Guy Clark’s Dualtone work collected

New: Molly and Me’s “Old Friend”


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Americana Music Association’s Top 100 albums

avettThe Americana Music Association just released its list of its 100 top albums, the most-played on Americana music radio stations from Dec. 1, 2015 through Dec. 5, 2016. Each year we always find some overlooked gem. The Avett Brothers top the new list, followed by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Bonnie Raitt and the Lumineers. For full details and other Americana music news, you’ll want to visit their site.

 

Avett Brothers True Sadness
Tedeschi Trucks Band Let Me Get By
Bonnie Raitt Dig In Deep
Lumineers Cleopatra
Hayes Carll Lovers And Leavers
Parker Millsap The Very Last Day
Mudcrutch 2
Sturgill Simpson A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
Colvin & Earle Colvin & Earle
Jayhawks Paging Mr. Proust
Margo Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
Record Company Give It Back To You
Lucinda Williams The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats
Dylan LeBlanc Cautionary Tale
Cactus Blossoms You’re Dreaming
Darrell Scott Couchville Sessions
Elizabeth Cook Exodus Of Venus
Bonnie Bishop Ain’t Who I Was
Aubrie Sellers New City Blues
Sarah Jarosz Undercurrent
Loretta Lynn Full Circle
Sara Watkins Young In All The Wrong Ways
Shovels & Rope Little Seeds
Carrie Rodriguez Lola
Josh Ritter Sermon On The Rocks
Wynonna & The Big Noise Wynonna & The Big Noise
Infamous Stringdusters Ladies & Gentlemen
John Prine For Better, Or Worse
Hard Working Americans Rest In Chaos
Paul Simon Stranger To Stranger
James Hunter Six Hold On!
Aoife O’Donovan Magic Hour
Robert Ellis Robert Ellis
Honeycutters On The Ropes
Luther Dickinson Blues & Ballads
Peter Wolf A Cure For Loneliness
Sam Bush Storyman
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals Call It What It Is
Devil Makes Three Redemption & Ruin
Joe Ely Panhandle Rambler
Buddy Miller & Friends Cayamo Sessions At Sea
Dwight Yoakam Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…
Lori McKenna The Bird & The Rifle
Jason Isbell Something More Than Free
Yarn This Is The Year
Wilco Schmilco
Various – The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson God Don’t Never Change
Anderson East Delilah
Randy Rogers Band Nothing Shines Like Neon
Corb Lund Things That Can’t Be Undone
Turnpike Troubadours Turnpike Troubadours
Willie Sugarcapps Paradise Right Here
Luke Bell Luke Bell
Jim Lauderdale Soul Searching
John Doe Westerner
Bottle Rockets South Broadway Athletic Club
Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones Little Windows
Miss Tess Baby, We All Know
Los Lobos Gates Of Gold
Bill Kirchen & Austin de Lone Transatlanticana
Southern Culture On The Skids The Electric Pinecones
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Lost Time
Black Lillies Hard To Please
Green River Ordinance Fifteen
Jack Ingram Midnight Motel
Patty Griffin Servant Of Love
Amanda Shires My Piece Of Land
Chris Isaak First Comes The Night
Charles Bradley Changes
Sierra Hull Weighted Mind
Wood Brothers Paradise
Reckless Kelly Sunset Motel
Chris Stapleton Traveller
Shovels & Rope Busted Jukebox Volume 1
Hackensaw Boys Charismo
Grant Lee Phillips The Narrows
Todd Snider Eastside Bulldog
Seth Walker Gotta Get Back
Charlie Faye & The Fayettes Charlie Faye & The Fayettes
Drive-By Truckers American Band
William Bell This Is Where I Live
Derek Hoke Southern Moon
Tim O’Brien Pompadour
Sarah Borges Good And Dirty
Frankie Lee American Dreamer
Steve Martin & Edie Brickell So Familiar
Earls Of Leicester Rattle & Roar
Hiss Golden Messenger Heart Like A Levee
Whiskey Myers Mud
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry Shine A Light
Lydia Loveless Real
Sean McConnell Sean McConnell
Malcolm Holcombe Another Black Hole
Billy Gibbons Perfectamundo
Tim Easton American Fork
Mary Chapin Carpenter The Things We Are Made Of
Rob Baird Wrong Side Of The River
Brent Cobb Shine On Rainy Day
Janiva Magness Love Wins Again

 

 

New release: Farewell Milwaukee’s “FM”

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Carolyn Sills Combo’s ‘Dime Stories Vol. 2″

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New: Balsam Range’s “Mountain Voodoo”

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Review: Aaron Lee Tasjan’s “Silver Tears”

 

silvertears_160By Paul T. Mueller – With his new album Silver Tears, Aaron Lee Tasjan nails an impressive achievement – channeling a roster of worthy influences while remaining true to his own voice and vision. Tasjan, an accomplished singer-songwriter and guitarist based in East Nashville, leads off with “Hard Life,” which does in fact deal with difficulties, but in a bouncy pop style that brings to mind Harry Nilsson. “Little Movies” casts life in cinematic terms – “Watch the day unfold in little movies / With silver tears that sparkle from my eyes” – recalling John Lennon in both its arrangement and its lyrics. The dramatic “Ready to Die” evokes Warren Zevon in its fatalistic lyrics (“I’m ready to die / For a worthy cause / It’s ’cause I’m tired of feeling bad”).

Tasjan, who’s done stints with the New York Dolls and drivin n cryin in addition to his solo work, is a master of many musical styles, as shown here on the introspective ballad “Refugee Blues,” the soulful twang of “Memphis Rain,” the quiet folksiness of “On Your Side,” the bluesy New Orleans vibe of “12 Bar Blues,” and the exuberant R&B of “Success.” All of it is driven by richly textured instrumental support, not least of which are Tasjan’s excellent guitars. It’s also peppered with lyrical wisdom. “One day, they said the future / Was flying cars and a ride on a rocket,” Tasjan sings in “Till the Town Goes Dark.” “Time passed and all I got / Was America today and a TV in my pocket.” Credit to producer Eli Thomson and a fine group of supporting musicians.

In “Success,” Tasjan observes, “Success ain’t about being better than everyone else / It’s about being better than yourself.” Given that Silver Tears is his strongest and most consistent effort to date, that makes Aaron Lee Tasjan, by his own lights, a success. Listeners are likely to agree.

New release: Kacey Musgraves’ “Very Kacey Christmas”

kacey-christmasAmericana Music NewsKacey Musgraves has a new holiday album, aptly titled A Very Kacey Christmas. She talked about the unconventional collection of Yuletide tunes in an interview on WMOT Roots Radio at the Family Wash in East Nashville yesterday.

There are standards – “Let It Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” among them – but plenty of surprises as well. There’s the obscure 1953 hit “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and a cover of “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late.)”

Guest appearances include Willie Nelson on “A Willie Nice Christmas,” plus the Quebe Sisters and Leon Bridges.

First-person: Aaron Lee Tasjan’s “Silver Tears”

Americana Music News – Aaron Lee Tasjan dropped by the Family Wash in Nashville today to sing a few songs on a WMOT Roots Radio broadcast in support of his new album “Silver Tears.” Here he talks about the new recording and an unusual promotional tour.

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