Bits: Cadillac Sky, The Due Diligence, Bill Monroe, Justin Townes Earle, The Black Keys

  • We are very sad to announce that Cadillac Sky are going on “indefinite hiatus”, i.e. they broke up. But I guess if you’re going to go, it’s good to go out on the best album of your career. And we still have The David Mayfield Parade to enjoy, along with projects the other guys will surely be involved with.
  • The Due Diligence is touring! Along with Crazy Brains and a number of local openers, they are hitting a number of joints down the eastern U.S., including a January 13 stop at Now That’s Class with Shivering Timbers.
  • The International Bluegrass Music Museum will be hosting the Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration in honor of what would have been the 100th birthday of the late bluegrass great September 12-14 in Owensboro, Kentucky. The amazing line-up will include Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, J.D. Crowe, Bobby Osborne, Eddie Adcock, Tom Gray, Kenny Baker, Curly Seckler, Everett Lilly, The Lewis Family, Bill Clifton, Rodney Dillard, Melvin Goins and Paul Williams.
  • Justin Townes Earle will be hitting the Late Show with David Letterman tomorrow night, January 5, while the Black Keys will be making their Saturday Night Live debut on January 8.

Bits: Cadillac Sky, Stephen Calt, The Magnetic Fields, mr. Gnome, Twain, The Low Anthem

  • Bryan Simpson has announced his departure from Cadillac Sky. An announcement about his replacement is forthcoming. We are grateful to Bryan for the great music he’s given us and wish him much happiness.
  • Dust-to-Digital reports the passing of blues biographer Stephen Calt, author of King of the Delta Blues: The Life an Music of Charlie Patton and I’d Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues among other tomes.
  • Now on to better news: the Magnetic Fields would like to bring their film Strange Powers to your town. Learn how you can help make it happen.
  • mr. Gnome has almost completed it’s third album and has announced tour dates starting in November.
  • Mat Davidson of the Low Anthem has released his second album with his project Twain. Interesting stuff. Check it out.

Speaking of the Low Anthem, we’ve been slowly falling in love with them since seeing them open for the Avett Brothers last winter. Here’s a nice little docu-video on them.


Bits: Cadillac Sky & Mumford & Sons, Justin Townes Earle, Conrad Plymouth, Wayne Coyne, the Black Keys

  • NTSIB favorites Cadillac Sky will be touring with Mumford & Sons from late October to mid-November. They’re not coming through Ohio, but, hey, I’m not weeping bitterly while wondering what I’ve done to anger the music gods or anything…
  • For the price of your e-mail address, you can get
    ” target=”blank”>a free mp3 of “Harlem River Blues”
    from Justin Townes Earle’s forthcoming album of the same name, which drops on September 14.
  • Christopher Porterfield of Conrad Plymouth is playing some solo dates in support of Jeremy Messersmith. He promises some brand new material.
    8.10.10 – The High Noon Saloon – Madison, Wisconsin
    8.11.10 – Cactus Club – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    8.12.10 – Schuba’s – Chicago, Illinois
  • People have been all… uh… atwitter about Kanye West joining Twitter, but the new Twitter poster you really want to follow is Wayne Coyne (I don’t have to tell you he’s the beneficent leader of the Flaming Lips, right?). He will make you happy.
  • Northeastern Ohio music fans are proud of the Black Keys. Obvious statement is obvious. We are proud of the blow-the-top-of-your-head-off music they make, but there’s another aspect of these guys that makes us proud, too, as illustrated in this clip from one of their recent Toronto shows (if you’re impatient, go to the 2:05 mark). Language may be NSFW.
  • [youtube=]

    Slackday: Theme Time Time with Cadillac Sky

    In addition to being talented musicians and songwriters, the members of Cadillac Sky are also a bunch of goofballs. It’s part of what we love about them. Their YouTube account features, along with some performances and some interesting behind-the-scenes documentation, something called “Theme Time Time”, which is basically Matt Menefee and David Mayfield acting like dorks and exercising their playing fingers at the same time. All under a minute long, the clips are a nice way to get a smile and hear some good picking.



    Obsess Much? : Dan Auerbach never stops

    Okay, in terms of making this Cadillac Sky Week at NTSIB, this may be cheating a little, but since it’s my blog and you can’t stop me…

    Dan Auerbach – of Akron, Ohio’s the Black Keys, if you don’t know by now – loves music. This may seem an obvious thing to say about a musician, but it’s more true of some than others. To quote the man himself from his Nonesuch feature page, “I’m pretty obsessed with making music and with recording, I’m always thinking about it. It drives my family crazy. But it’s what I do.” Auerbach likes being on both sides of the recording console and in his “spare” time, he lends his help, and his home studio, to a long list of bands. Here is a gathering of Auerbach-produced songs from bands ranging in vibe from bluegrass to blues to punk.

    Cadillac Sky – Nashville, Tennessee

    Obviously, we here at NTSIB love these guys and encourage you, again, to pick up their new album, Letters in the Deep, and catch them live if at all possible.

    Buffalo Killers – Cincinnati, Ohio

    Hacienda – San Antonio, Texas
    You might also recognize these guys as the Fast Five, the name they used when touring as Auerbach’s support band on his solo tour. They’ll be in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Beachland Ballroom on June 19 when they open for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

    SSM – Detroit, Michigan

    Patrick Sweany – Nashville, Tennessee

    The Ettes – Nashville, Tennessee

    Radio Moscow – Story City, Iowa

    Brimstone Howl – Omaha, Nebraska

    Jessica Lea Mayfield – Kent, Ohio
    Jessica is gearing up to release a third album, and the early word fro
    m her brother David is that it is mind-blowing. She’ll be opening for the Black Keys when they play Nautica in Cleveland on July 24.

    Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Cadillac Sky

    More Cadillac Sky = more good. Jennifer shares a little of her experience with the guys during their New York show. Panda says this show was off the hook, and I don’t doubt it for a second.

    Continuing the Cadillac Sky theme for this week, here’s some pictures from the show I went to over Memorial Day weekend. They played at Union Hall – the random picture of the old lady that was hanging on the wall behind the stage has sadly disappeared – and it was a rockin’ good time.

    Note: Union Hall tends to be dark, and I was struggling a little bit with the low light. I do take pictures in color, I promise, it just happened that this time the black and white ones were (mostly) the ones that came out the sharpest.

    Bryan Simpson

    Matt Menefee and David Mayfield

    Matt Menefee and Andy “Panda” Moritz

    At one point Dave, Bryan and Ross came down off the stage and into the crowd to do a cover of “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie, which they made into a wrenching mountain ballad. By the end the whole room was singing along.

    Dave Mayfield, Bryan Simpson, and Ross Holmes

    The absolute best cover of the evening, though (possibly of the year) was “Video Killed the Radio Star” done “B for Bluegrass”-style, which I didn’t photograph because I was too busy being filled with joy. Later in the evening there was also an epic guitar/fiddle battle, and I was pretty sure I detected bits and pieces of “Devil Went Down to Georgia” amid the cascading flurries of notes.

    And finally, here they are doing a Stanley Brothers song barbershop quartet-style:


    — Jennifer

    Bits: Cadillac Sky, Big Boi, Mark Lanegan & Isobell Campbell, Juniper Tar, Local Natives, Lou Barlow & the missingmen, Suckers

    • Because it’s Cadillac Sky Week here at NTSIB, we have to kick this off by reminding you that their excellent album Letters in the Deep is available NOW. Get it.
    • Hypetrak has a Big Boi song for you to hear and enjoy that re-teams BB with Andre 3000, along with Dungeon Family cohort Sleepy Brown, but which may not appear on Big Boi’s solo joint coming next month due to apparent record label bullshit.
    • Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell are teaming up yet again. Their third collaboration, Hawk, will be released on August 24 with U.S. tour dates in the works.
    • At the time of this writing, there are 18 hours left to help fund the Juniper Tar tour documentary. They have some pretty nifty reward levels, including a private house concert for big-bucks donors in the Milwaukee area.
    • Aquarium Drunkard’s forthcoming (June 22) digital compilation, L’Aventure, a collection of covers from Television’s album Adventure will feature Local Natives doing “Careful”. Hear it here.
    • Lou Barlow has recorded an EP with the missingmen, =Sentridoh III, and Pitchfork has the sweet track “Losercore” available for listening.
    • One of the nicest things you could do for yourself this week would be to head over to Spinner and take a listen (or twenty) to the new Suckers’ album Wild Smile.

    JP and the Chatfield Boys & Cadillac Sky at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH, 6.5.10

    JP and the Chatfield Boys

    The evening began a little quietly with JP & the Chatfield Boys playing straight-up bluegrass of a somewhat sedate nature. While they’re certainly a skilled group, they were pretty by-the-book. But the harmonizing on “Midnight Moonlight” stood out, as did the fiddling on “Stoney Lonesome”. They would be a great group to catch at an evening outdoor event.

    Cadillac Sky

    A sure sign of a good show: when you, as an audience member, are exhausted, yet the band is still going.

    To call a Cadillac Sky show a bluegrass show would be akin to attempting to recreate a Brueghel painting with one brushstroke – there is so much more going on. Cadillac Sky assured us they meant business by opening their 2-hour-plus set (from my calculations, but I didn’t pay close attention to what time they came out, so I may be off – I can tell you they played longer than I’ve seen any band play in years) with a high-energy rendition of “Trapped Under the Ice” that only hinted at the levels of energy and excitement they would build up as the night moved along. Exuberantly rambling through nearly all of the songs on their upcoming album, Letters in the Deep, all the songs from their Weary Angel EP and some earlier fare. My favorite CS song, “3rd Degree”, was wrenching. “Weary Angel” became a blistering rock-out with David Mayfield taking the lead on electric guitar. The Stanley Brothers’ “How Mountain Girls Can Love” was given the barbershop quartet treatment. And I may have embarrassed myself by actually jumping up and down to CS’s stellar cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

    It was possibly the best show I’ve ever attended, combining elements from all of my past favorite shows: the joy of a Hothouse Flowers show, the fun and humor of a They Might Be Giants show, the crowd-hushing ability of an A.A. Bondy show, the heart-aching beauty of a Church (the Australian band) show, the full-on rock of a Black Keys show. There was laughter, dancing, booty-shaking, beatboxing (yes, seriously – and, yes, it worked), and it was difficult not to get choked up when Ohio-born David Mayfield grew teary-eyed as he sang the last verses of “Tired Old Phrases” (And I’m sorry for being so bad/To my dear old mother and dad/I threw some fits/They put up with it/And now I owe them all that I am. And some day when my folks meet their end/If by chance I live longer than them/For the love that they gave/And the music we made/I’ll be proud to have called them my friends.) to his parents, who were in the audience.

    Inevitably, when I go to a show, I begin writing my review in my head as soon as the show is over. My initial review of the Cadillac Sky show was going to be one line: If you were in Cleveland the night of June 5 and weren’t at the Cadillac Sky show at the Beachland Ballroom, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? But perhaps berating you is not the best way to talk you into seeing Cadillac Sky when they play near you. How about this: Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog, Jennifer, said of the CS show she attended at Union Hall in New York that it was possibly the happiest she’s been at a rock concert in her life. A Cadillac Sky show makes you feel good to be alive.

    Cadillac Sky: Keep the Melody Ringing

    It might not be the first thing you notice. The first thing is probably the musicianship throughout or the down-home quality harmonies on a song like “Hangman” or the sweetness of David Mayfield’s voice on a song like “Human Cannonball”. But it doesn’t take long to notice it, and it is the thing that will stick with you the most about this third full album from Cadillac Sky (made up of Bryan Simpson, Matt Menefee, Ross Holmes, Andy “Panda” Moritz and Mayfield), Letters in the Deep: the emotional wallop. It is not solely one thing or another; it is all the elements, from lyrics to instrumentation to vocals to dynamics, combining to make an incredible whole.

    Recorded at the home studio of Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys in Akron, Ohio, with Auerbach in the producer’s chair, in many ways, Letters in the Deep is, as Auerbach declared at the end of the four-day recording session, Cadillac Sky’s “first record”. With new band member Mayfield (brother and cohort of Jessica Lea Mayfield, who has also benefited from Auerbach’s production skills), a new direction and a new commitment to capturing the vitality of their live shows on record, Cadillac Sky is like a new band, vibrating with energy and hunger, bursting with stories to tell.

    Founding member Bryan Simpson and aforementioned newest member David Mayfield were kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

    Can you give a brief history of your band? I know a number of my
    readers will just be learning about Cadillac Sky for the first time as
    they read this.

    Bryan Simpson: A brief history of the band: well, we sort of kicked things off in November of 2002 in Fort Worth, TX- I met Matt our banjo, piano, drum guy in Texas at a benefit we were both playing with other bands, and a friend of mine knew I was looking to put together a sort of pseudo-bluegrass band and had seen a gold plate on Matt’s banjo (a banjo he had won in the contest) that read “2000 National Champion …..”- Matt hates that story, but he will stress he only played that banjo ’cause that’s the only one he had. So, anyway, my friend said I ought to check him out. So, we sort of got together at the back of the parking lot and played a few tunes- and it was love at first sight. He was my long lost musical soulmate. Ha. And from there, it came together easy. He knew Ross, and I knew a couple of other guys, and it came together pretty quick- within about two weeks.

    Well, we wandered around in the desert for a while, but it never went anywhere. We were making music but nothing else. Weren’t even really trying (too left-brained?). It was sort of our virgin voyage for most of us to really be true partners in a band, and by 2004 we broke up. We all went off and did our own thing for about a year and just felt like what we had was or could be special, and, so, Ross leading the way (he’s to blame), we put it back together. Made a record in 2005 that Ricky Skaggs got wind of and really loved. He signed us to his label- around that time our bassist bailed and we scavenger-ed the countryside only to found the perfect guy in our backyard- Houston- Andy Moritz- now forever known as “Panda”. We then made another record- under what one would not call the best of circumstances- with a division in our band forming between us and our guitar player at the time that I feel like even showed up sonically on that recording. So we knew it was time to make a change- far past time, so we went looking for a guitar player. I called a friend of mine named Tyler Grant- he gave me a list of great guitar players he thought would work, but in triple-faced bold print he had David Mayfield written- said he would be perfect for our band if he would do it. I called him up- he was into it. And once he jumped on board, it started something that’s become more than a band. A real brotherhood was created, and God has moved this thing along at such a swift rate musically and more importantly spiritually, that it really has been jaw dropping.

    Then at some point last year, David was out with his sis Jessica Lea Mayfield playing bass- which he does between tours with us, and they were opening for the Black Keys. Dan asked him what he was doing musically outside of his sister, and he passed along our CD. Dan must’ve heard something because he wanted to take us into his studio – and that all came to fruition last September in the making of “Letters in the Deep”. And here we are today. Four glorious days in Akron , Ohio, at Akron Analog Studios. That’s basically where we’re at- too much I know- brief? Not so much, sorry.

    Tell me about your personal history with music. What did you hear or
    see that first sparked your love of music? Who were the artists you
    listened to early on that had the most influence on you?

    Well, I can’t really quantify what sparked my love of music- it was just there early on- maybe it was the sense of community that music is usually such a part of. Maybe my grandfather’s love of traditional roots music was what sparked my interest in that style- early on at least- the opportunity to hang with him- mostly it’s probably because it’s the only thing I have ever been halfway decent at, ha!

    The artists that influenced me early on were- Bill Monroe- Tim O’Brien big time, Ricky Skaggs, Tom Uhr and the Shady Grove Rambers- a local group that had an original sound-

    David Mayfield: I grew up in a very musical household. So I was constantly surrounded by musicians and instruments. You had to move a guitar or a mandolin to sit down in our living room because they were always laying around. My mom or dad would just walk into the room, pick one up and start playing. So the first music I heard was my parents and my Papa. I remember also listenting to my parents’ records a lot. Stuff like Reno & Smiley, Jimmy Driftwood, all the way to Jackson Browne and The Starland Vocal Band.

    The new album, Letters in the Deep, has such an emotional rawness to
    the whole thing – the words, the music, the vocals, all of it. Do you
    think that came from Dan Auerbach’s “hit it and quit it” recording
    style, from the addition of David to the band, something else entirely
    or a combination of things?

    BS: Certainly a combination. I think our fans had a lot to do with it- a few very honest fans expressed that, although they loved our previous records, that they didn’t contain the same energy, sincerity, “raw emotion” that our live show unveiled. And we agreed, btw. So when me and Dan were talking, we sort of found common ground in the fact that he wanted to put something on tape that was us and nothing else. No computers- just five guys staring each other in the eye, around a few mics, making music mixed with blood, sweat and tears… certainly believe that added a certain humanity to this record, which, to me, makes it more relatable even though the music is far more blurry in definite direction. But yeah, Dan, David, the fans, all of that.

    DM: I don’t feel like I really changed the band when I joined, I think of more as I allowed them to be themselves fully because I was an outsider who was excited about new possibilities, they really just needed some big change to jar them creatively.

    I love what it says on your MySpace page about Dan Auerbach saying “BE
    who YOU are RIGHT NOW” being a mantra during the recording of this
    um. Can you talk a little about that experience of recording with
    Dan and what things you might have learned from that session that
    you’ll carry into future recordings?

    BS: Our prayer is to not live in the past, not live in the future, but just to stay concentrated on the moment so you don’t miss the beautiful subtleties of life. Our faith has allowed us that freedom, and I think that’s what “be who you are right now” is about.

    Dan just served as a constant reminder that most of the best things that we’ll ever experience in life will not be planned- and so it is with this record. We went in the studio with somewhat of a plan- Dan thought great records are made by prepared bands- but we certainly didn’t have it all worked out- and there are some moments on this record that, without Dan’s humble approach to recording and producing, would’ve never seen the light of day.

    DM: As far as Dan’s influence, he really shaped the sound of the record, but as for the arrangemnets, they were all there beforehand. I think we could have made this record somewhere else, and it would have all the same lyrics and notes, but that emotion would not be there. That came from Dan and his method of pulling the trigger and making decisions on the spot. Too many options can really stifle you in the end. Dan’s process forced us to live with little anomalies that would have been ironed out in a modern studio setting, ironing out all the life of the track as well.

    The instrumental pieces on the new album are beautiful, and the names
    of the pieces – Lee of the Stone East, West and North and The Long
    Sigh – made me wonder if there was a story behind them. Do you think
    there might be longer pieces like that in the future?

    BS: Yes, I hope so- they really tie the whole record together and really took it to another place- I didn’t have much to do with those- Matt and Ross and Panda- really brought those things to life- but they do seem to tell a story- and sort of give the record an almost score, if you will- like the lyrical songs are the dialogue in the movie, and the musical vignettes are the score- I don’t know, maybe.

    What albums are going to be playing in the Cadillac Sky tour van this
    time around?

    BS: Well, I’ve just gotten my hands on the new National record, and the first few listens have proved deserving of many more listens- it’s pretty great. The new Mumford and Sons record will keep you attentive while navigating the dark highways, and of course, the new Black Keys record- I can’t stop singing “Next Girl”.

    DM: You know I can’t go on tour without my copy of Bridge Over Troubled Water. I think it is possibly the best album ever made. But, along with that, I’m listening to Among The Oak and Ash, Leslie and the Badgers, Tywanna Baskette, and my sister Jessica Lea Mayfield’s new album, which isn’t out yet but is blowing my mind.

    Letters in the Deep will be available June 8th, and here are a few mp3s to illustrate just why you need to buy this album: the instantly likeable “Hangman”; my favorite track from the album, “3rd Degree” (which still knocks me out with its intensity, even after several spins) and instrumental piece “Lee of the Stone: North”.

    Cadillac Sky – Hangman
    Cadillac Sky – 3rd Degree
    Cadillac Sky – Lee of the Stone: North

    Cadillac Sky are on the road now, landing in Cleveland to play the Beachland Ballroom on June 5. It promises to be a great night.

    Cadillac Sky Official Website
    Cadillac Sky MySpace