Veteran Songwriter Bruce Cockburn Fires Vocal Rockets

Categories: Folk You!

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Courtesy of Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn has to be the most hot-cold songwriter operating today. On one hand, there are songs about sunrises, horses running across golden plains, the mysteries of life, and spiritual awakening. And on the other, Cockburn fires off songs about narco-politics, human rights, religious flaws, and environmental degradation, offering such poignant lyrics as "If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die."


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Back from the Brink, Rocky 
Votolato Moves Forward Again

Categories: Folk You!

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Bjorn Lexius
Rocky Votolato

Rocky Votolato is a guy on the shore skipping stones across the water. Part craft, part amusement, the circumspect Seattle songwriter's success and happiness has ebbed and flowed like the tide, something he's gradually grown more accustomed to, though it's not always been a smooth ride. Finally firmly at peace, he's enjoying that purgatorial moment between albums.

"Most of the songs are there, but I'm still writing the last few, and I have a couple different offers from labels to work with them," he says about weighing his options. "I'm in a real open space again. These songs are extremely intimate and they're just kind of happening on their own. That's really the best thing and it feels much better than being burned out or feeling overexposed."


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Dax Riggs Brings His Demons to Scottsdale

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Danin Drahos
Dax Riggs

Demon tied to a chair in my brain/ black bird a-tapping on the window pane/ sittin' and smilin' at a stray dog in the rain/ demon tied to a chair in my brain.

With these haunting, bluesy lyrics, Dax Riggs opens with on the first track of his 2007 album We Sing of Only Blood or Love, introducing his then-new solo project to fans and gaining the respect of those who had him pegged as just a heavy metal guru. The song, aptly titled "Demon Tied to a Chair In My Brain," certainly picks up pace from there and serves as a perfect prelude into the blues-based album that ranges from slow to fast; filled with dark imagery, soothing tones and even the blood-pumping growls that Riggs has been associated with since his sludgy heavy metal outfit of the early '90s, Acid Bath.



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Justin Moody, Corey R-J, A Cloud for Climbing, and Old Hours - Axiom - 3/22/14

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Photos by K.C. Libman
Singer-songwriter Justin Moody at Axiom on Saturday night.

Justin Moody, Corey R-J, A Cloud For Climbing, & Old Hours
Axiom
3/22/14

Peoria is not the first suburb that comes to mind when Phoenicians think live music -- hell, it's not even likely to be the fourth or fifth suburb for that matter. However, nestled behind a string of fluorescent-lit dealerships just off of Bell Road and the 101 hides Axiom, a less-than-likely venue that played host last night to Valley folk darlings Justin Moody and Old Hours, electronic solo act A Cloud For Climbing and Massachusetts' Corey R-J.

While the lineup felt thematic in terms of genre, it ended up being an eclectic mix whose small attendance was more a reflection of the locale than the talent.

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Singer-Songwriter Justin Moody Doesn't Make Pretty Things

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K.C. Libman
Justin Moody is scheduled to perform on Saturday, March 22, at Axiom in Peoria.
Justin Moody writes songs. They sit firmly in the folk vein -- dark, self-deprecating tales that are often vicious to their characters, capturing the excruciating eye for detail that only a storyteller can see.

Justin Moody also lives in a one bedroom apartment on the edge of Arcadia, a space cluttered with vinyl, acoustic guitars of varying vintages and requisite musical memorabilia hanging on the walls. Despite the trappings of a musician's life around him, there's a sense of transition within him, whether it's his restless chain smoking of Camel Lights as we sit on the tailgate of his white Ford Ranger or his inability to sit still when playing new songs from his upcoming record.

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Feeding America Benefit Concert - Crescent Ballroom - 7/25/2013

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Lauren Wise
Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special
On Thursday night at Crescent Ballroom, the vibe was even more feel-good and positive than usual. Sure, it was a roster chock-full of locally loved acts -- Flamenco por la Vida, Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special, The Senators, and Dry River Yacht Club -- that attracted an impressively large crowd for a Thursday evening. But the main focus of the show was that it was also a chance to help fight hunger in Arizona.

It was time to watch a great show for an even better cause. Benefiting Feeding America and United Food Bank, and sponsored by Fourpeaks Brewery, the concert attendees arrived with non-perishables in tow. They were directed to the back of the venue, where they received promo materials from United Food Bank, and receive a raffle ticket for each food item you donated.

United Food Bank is a driving force in fighting hunger, distributing almost 46,000 meals daily, and can provide five meals with just $1. By the time I donated my bag of four non-perishable items, they had already collected about 160 pounds of food.


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The Balcony Scene to Make Phoenix Debut at Crescent Ballroom

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K.C. Libman
Justin Moody of The Balcony Scene
Folk musicians, for the most part, have it rough. Blindly thrust into the Dylan-esque pantheon, the overarching image of a folk-based singer-songwriter is that of the introspective introvert who shyly picks at an acoustic guitar before gracefully exiting whatever forum he holds. Yet when you're young and influenced by the croonings of Damian Jurado and David Bazan, both exceptionally dynamic musicians in their own right, you're bound to take a different approach to such a storied genre.

Justin Moody, operating under the moniker The Balcony Scene, is such an example, having recently returned to his native Arcadia after spending the majority of his teens in Prescott. Breaking out of the coffee shop mentality for the first time, Moody is making his biggest debut yet with Tempe powerhouses Dust Jacket, Instructions and Sundressed on Tuesday at Crescent Ballroom.

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Billy Bragg: With Tooth & Nail, the British Folk Singer Continues to Evoke Woody Guthrie

Categories: Folk You!

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Andy Whale
Billy Bragg
Once again, it's a sort of apprenticeship with Woody Guthrie that's drawn Billy Bragg into a new realm.

Thirty years since his debut, the seven-song Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy, Bragg is back with a new album, Tooth & Nail, which came out Tuesday on Cooking Vinyl. Bragg calls the album an extension of the Mermaid Avenue project that paired him with Wilco to write and record music for song lyrics pulled from the vast archive Guthrie left behind.

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