Category Archives: Country Music

Songs of Christmas from Russell Lee

Russell LeeRussell Lee is a tried-and-true Canadian guitar player and singer. The Winnipeg-based artist keeps busy with album releases, playing major events, and promoting a recent project called Songs Of Christmas. If you like Blue Rodeo, Jackson Browne, Johnny Cash, or John Denver, I think you’ll appreciate the sound of Russell Lee’s voice on songs like “Little Drummer Boy,” “We Three Kings,” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

For Russell Lee, music is a true calling and a fundamental way of life.

Embracing the power found when honest songwriting meets professional musicianship, Russell has released three well-received albums. Entertaining Canadian audiences with the help of some very talented band mates, Russell Lee’s live shows are enjoyed by many people.

While living in Nova Scotia back in 2005, Russell wrote and recorded his first album titled In The Night. While it received some radio airplay, a few years later, in 2008, Russell decided to get a new perspective in a new place. He moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he continues to write and play music today.

Russell LeeIn September 2015, he released his second album titled What Do I Do, and has been busy promoting this emotionally charged and beautifully honest album. It has what I’d call that “classic Canadian prairies sound.” 

Not one to rest too long on his previous projects, Russell Lee went back into the recording studio and came out with a brand new Christmas album titled Songs Of Christmas, available through his website here.

Meanwhile, Russell recently performed a full set-list at the world-renowned Dauphin, Manitoba CountryFest, an honor not many musicians get to share.

As he straddles the lines between Country music, rock and folk, Russell Lee keeps it interesting. It never hurts to make a Christmas album, since it’s the kind of thing that only grows in popularity year after year. 

Dave Rudolf offers clever folk and country songs

Dave Rudolf just sent me his 31st and 32nd albums. He calls All Folked Up Volume 3 a “sort of loving mockumentary ala Mighty Wind or Spinal Tap.” The other one, Let It Roll, is “a singer/songwriter album of mine that covers a wide variety of genres.”

Dave Rudolf

Let It Roll starts off with the title track, and it sounds like Americana-Country-Blues, complete with Rudolf’s deep voice reminding me of Elvis Costello, Steve Tyrell, Bob Dylan and Randy Newman. Later on, among the 15 tracks, there’s a cover of the jazzy song “Glory of Love.” My favorite track, though, has got to be “You’re Getting Old,” a Country song that has lyrics that’ll make you laugh: “You can grow hair on your rear, in your nose and in your ears, but on your head it disappears; let’s face it, you’re old.” I just might ask him for the chords to “You’re Getting Old” so I can sing it at Buffalo-area Senior homes where I entertain old folks since I think they will LOVE this song.

All Folked Up Volume 3 is all over the place musically.

Often comedic with his lyrics, I especially like Rudolf’s “Protesting Protesters” song. He also surprises me with songs like “Mangled Tango,” a silly-lyric tango that showcases Rudolf’s ability to sing any kind of song.

Proving he’s adept, Rudolf even manages to sound like a pirate on the sea shanty “Mutiny on the Bounty,” which reminded me of the kind of song I heard at the Tall Ships festival this past summer in Erie, PA.

If you want to dance, the cajun tune “Bordeaux’s Hot Sauce” will get your feet movin’. Fans of Jimmy Buffett will appreciate Rudolf’s Calypso song “Coconut Head.” The song’s about men and women– with the woman calling the man a “Coconut Head.”

Finally, I want you to hear “Wurst is the Best.” He does a German polka song that is so cleverly written you’ll want to press repeat, even if you’re not into polka.

All together, All Folked Up Volume 3 will put a smile on your face; Rudolf excels at singing and writing a wide variety of crowd-pleasers in multiple genres.

Find out more about Dave Rudolf at his website here.

Carol Martini: Songs of the Girl on the Swing

Carol Martini“Tired of this Heartache” starts off Carol Martini’s Songs of the Girl on the Swing release. It’s the kind of song that will encourage anyone tired of doom, gloom, heartache, and pain. Martini’s folk-rock voice and her cleverly-written lyrics make this an upbeat romp that showcases her talent.

How would I classify Carol Martini’s music?

I’d call it Americana, with a bit of rollicking Country, nice harmonies, and pop sensibilities.

A songwriter since age eleven, having given up the violin for the more “songwriter-friendly” acoustic guitar, Martini released a couple albums of original material, and with 19 tracks, Songs of the Girl on the Swing is the kind you put on and listen to all the way through.

If you like The Beach Boys, The Mamas & The Papas, The Beatles and, from the 1990s grunge era, The Breeders, I think you’ll appreciate Carol Martini. She offers honest, harmony-laden vocals.

Has she performed at coffee houses in Southern California? Yes. How about bookstores, music stores, small clubs and colleges? Definitely. I have a feeling wherever she goes Carol Martini can endear herself to the gathered audience. She can be serious or funny, depending on the crowd. Plus, her voice consistently delivers whether she’s rocking out on songs like “Love Asked Too Much” or slower tunes.  For the record, her material is generally mid-tempo or fast. This is not music to sleep to.

I enjoy finding solid, accomplished, versatile music artists like Carol Martini. She represents what the music business is lacking– real people making real music. She doesn’t have to wear a short skirt and sing about nonsense for the dumbed-down masses.

Even Fish Love Beer

Gary Clark has a Country song that will put a smile on your face: “Even Fish Love Beer (A Fish Tail)” Available on iTunes, Amazon and other sites, “Even Fish Love Beer” brings something back to Country music that’s sorely missing these days: a sense of old-school humor with the song lyrics.

Even Fish Love Beer

Even Fish Love Beer

When he’s not at his day job as a commercial banker, Clark writes songs, plays guitar and sings– and does all of these things well. It’s refreshing to hear a song like “Even Fish Love Beer” compared to what’s passing for “Country” music these days on the radio.

Have you heard of the term “Bro-Country?” The style’s made by and for tatted, gym-toned, young white party dudes. For a couple of years now, Bro-Country has taken over the charts with songs that seem to concentrate on trucks, country roads, and objectified women (aka girls wearing tight jeans) as the main lyrical themes. One thing Gary Clark’s “Even Fish Love Beer” song has in common with Bro-Country is that both celebrate beer… proving alcohol is, was, and always will be a Country music staple.

My friend Grady posted about the Bro-Country phenomenon on YouTube and his video has since received more than 4 millions views! Check it:

When songwriters all start to sound the same, using the same themes, it gets boring. This has happened in Christian music, pop music, and, yes, even Country music. That said, there are usually independent artists on the fringes who are willing to do stuff differently in order to stretch people’s imaginations when they hear interesting songs that aren’t just “by the numbers.”

I think Gary Clark’s unique new song, “Even Fish Love Beer,” will appeal to Country music fans who appreciate oldies but goodies like “There’s a Tear in My Beer” by Hank Williams, Sr., and “Too Drunk To Fish” by Ray Stevens.