Dawes – The California-based roots rocking Dawes consists of brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith - whose father Lenny was the lead singer for the legendary Tower of Power - Wylie Weber and Tay Strathairn. Formed in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hills, this young group quickly became a favorite or critics, fans - and the veteran musicians who influenced its music. After connecting with producer Jonathan Wilson, the group began sitting in on informal jam sessions at Wilson's house with Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, the Heartbreakers' Benmont Tench, and the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson. These sessions, as well as influences like Wilco and Band of Horses, informed the group's 2009 debut, “North Hills.” The band’s new recording, “Nothing Is Wrong,” again features Tench as well as Jackson Browne - who has since invited the band to both support and back him on a European tour. In addition, after Goldsmith contributed vocals to Robbie Robertson’s “How To Become Clairvoyant” release, the legendary guitarist/songwriter asked Dawes to serve as his backing combo for a number of promotional performances.
James McMurtry - The son of novelist Larry McMurtry, James McMurtry was born into a storytelling tradition. After winning one of the songwriting awards at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in 1987, his 1989 John Mellencamp-produced debut brought him to the forefront of the Texas singer-songwriter scene. Since then, McMurtry has established a singular style and voice. In his regular column for “Entertainment Weekly,” author and music fan Stephen King called McMurtry “the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation.” Released in 2005, “Childish Things” featured the stinging commentary “We Can’t Make It Here,” which won “Best Song” at the fifth annual Americana Music Association Honors and Awards. Always outspoken, “Just Us Kids” featured politically-charged tracks like “Cheney’s Toy” and “God Bless America (Pat MacDonald Must Die).” In 2009, he released “Live in Europe,” with backing provided by Ian McLagan and Jon Dee Graham.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Hailing from Greenhill, AL - not far from famed music Mecca Muscle Shoals - Jason Isbell came into prominence as a member of Athens, GA’s new breed Southern rockers, Drive by Truckers. A member of the group for six years, he struck out on his own in 2007. With more than 400 shows under their collective belts, Isbell and the 400 Unit are a band that can move effortlessly from ferocious rock to subtle, acoustic-based Americana. In addition, Isbell has guested on albums by Justin Townes Earle, Middle Brother, Abby Owens and Coy Bowles. The current release is titled “Here We Rest.”
Blitzen Trapper - Formed in Portland in 2000 by songwriter Eric Earley, Blitzen Trapper has slowly amassed both a large following and a resume that includes playing most of the country’s major festivals. The band has toured with the likes of Iron and Wine and Wilco and, in 2007, was named in Pitchfork magazine’s list of “Best New Music.” The group appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, was featured in an episode of the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, and numerous BT songs have appeared in television shows, commercials and movies. Blitzen Trapper’s latest recording is “American Goldwing,” its third full-length release for the Sup Pop label.
Matthew Sweet - After cutting his teeth as the guitarist with Athens, GA’s Oh-OK and Lloyd Cole, Nebraska native Matthew Sweet emerged as one of the leading voices of the ‘90s power pop revival. After recording a demo with Don Dixon in the mid-‘80s, Sweet signed with Columbia Records and released his debut, “Inside” on which he played almost all of the instruments. Sweet began with the traditional pop songcraft of bands like The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Byrds, and added post-punk guitars and flourishes of country-rock gleaned from Big Star and Neil Young. His breakthrough release, 1991's “Girlfriend” - largely inspired by the demise of his marriage - quickly became a critical and commercial favorite as well as a touchstone for a decade of power pop artists. His 1995 release, “100% Fun,” reached gold status. In 2011, Sweet celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of “Girlfriend” by playing shows on which he played the entire album. He also released his first CD of original material since 2008.
This episode is scheduled for NPR Distribution in December 2012. For more information, including hi-res photos, please contact Adam Harris at 304.556.4900.