Midge Ure (Photo courtesy Erika Tooker)
The brilliantly talented Midge Ure inaugurated his Backstage Lockdown Club — a series of live performances, presentations, and chat — via his Patreon site over the last few months. The gregarious singer-songwriter takes requests, performs acoustically, shares tales, greets guests, and more several times a month for a very reasonable subscription fee! In a time of very few concerts due to the pandemic, Midge has thrown us a live music lifeline, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be greeted in song or story by his distinctive Scottish vocal.
During the concert series, Midge performs songs from his solo back catalogue as well as covers and selections from his other bands, including of course Ultravox, the influential New Romantic band he fronted from 1979-1988 (and again circa 2008-2013). Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter caught up with Midge via Skype to chat about Backstage Lockdown Club, the 40th anniversary of Ultravox’s breakthrough album Vienna, and more.
Luke Lalonde (left) and Born Ruffians (Photo courtesy Yep Roc Records)
Canadian post-punks Born Ruffians are known for their high-energy shows, full of bright guitars and biting lyrics. Frontman Luke Lalonde formed the band with his collaborators in 2004, and they have released seven full-length albums and at least another three EPs. In 2020, Born Ruffians released two albums — Juice and Squeeze via Yep Roc Records — after crafting a bunch of songs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Usually, Born Ruffians are often on the road, including regular stops in DC, where they appear at venues like Black Cat and Rock and Roll Hotel. Indeed, Parklife DC considered Born Ruffian’s 2015 show at the Rock and Roll Hotel to be one of our Top 10 Concerts of the Year. While the pandemic has sidelined touring bands, Luke has been passing the time at home, and he chatted with Parklife DC about the lifeline of touring, creative writing, and the two new Born Ruffians albums.
Broke Royals (Photo courtesy the band)
DC heartland rockers Broke Royals release a new single, “U + Me + WWIII,” on Friday, Sept. 4. The song focuses on anxiety-related insomnia largely stemming from the political and social unrest facing the world today.
This track sprang from Broke Royals’ Alone, Together series where the band creates a new song every week. Season 1 of Alone, Together, a livestream chat and music series, wrapped on July 31 after 10 episodes and 10 accompanying new songs. Broke Royals launches Season 2 of Alone, Together on Sept. 18.
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter chatted with Philip Basnight and Colin Cross of Broke Royals in advance of the new single and upcoming livestream series for an inside look at the band’s creative process. And of course, Parklife DC readers named Broke Royals as the Best DC Band of 2018 in our inaugural Thrushie Awards, so you know the gents started out strong, and they are only getting better.
Karen Jonas (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)
The voice of country music in the DMV is a big, bright voice that belongs to Virginia native Karen Jonas. A regular sight on DC concert stages, Karen releases her fifth album, The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams, on Friday, Aug. 28 via Yellow Brick Records.
On past tours, Karen has visited Texas, New Mexico, California, and their neighbors, scribbling notes while on the road. She drew upon those memories to animate the characters of The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams. The results are a little bit peppy and a little bit sad but always full of life.
Prior to the new album’s release, Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter chatted with Karen about the record, her band, and her desire to get back on the road. And Karen plays a free outdoor album release show with her full band at Jammin’ Java on Thursday, Sept. 10.
Steve Kilbey (Photo courtesy the artist)
The indefatigable Steve Kilbey is best known around the world as frontman for the fantastic neo-psychedelic ensemble known as The Church. And in his homeland of Australia, Steve also keeps busy with a variety of projects, releasing solo albums, collaborating with other musicians, and writing poetry, among other pursuits.
On Sept. 4, Steve is releasing a new solo album, Eleven Women, via Foghorn Records. And he’s working on a new album with The Church. He’s meanwhile collaborating with musicians like Gareth Koch and performing concerts, live and virtual, including an upcoming performance with supergroup The Winged Heels (along with Gareth, Barton Price, and Roger Mason)
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter had the pleasure of catching up with Steve Kilbey via email to ask him how he spent his lockdown days in Australia, what’s new with The Church, and his plans for the future.
Bill Frisell Trio (Photo by Monica Jane Frisell)
Few musicians have demonstrated an eternal devotion to the exploration and discovery of sound like Bill Frisell. The 69-year-old made a name for himself as a studio guitarist for ECM Records in the 1980s and went on to become a tremendously influential presence on the New York City jazz scene working with John Zorn, Paul Motian, John Scofield, and many others on a long list of projects.
Guided by his life-long pursuit of melody, Bill left the City in 1988, intentionally breaking out of the walls of jazz he’d constructed around himself, and moved to the West Coast, but his desire to create new music would take him all over the globe.
The cover of “You!” by Peter Godwin (Photo courtesy the artist)
Singer-songwriter Peter Godwin is best known for his new wave hit “Images of Heaven,” which continues to fascinate listeners, as shown in its recent power ranking in a Facebook poll called the ’80s Synthpop Singles World Cup 2020. Only weeks ago, Peter released a new single — “You!” — and Johnson Somerset, a regular collaborator, remixed it for release a few days ago.
In the ’70s, Peter began his career in the glam rock outfit Metro, which gained even more notoriety when David Bowie covered the band’s song “Criminal World” on his album Let’s Dance. After Metro, Peter took off on a solo career, although he became a master tunesmith for a variety of other artists, ranging from German synthpoppers Camouflage to fellow Englishman Steve Winwood.
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter phoned Peter at home in Nice, France, where he dedicated part of a relaxing evening reminiscing about his career and looking forward to the future.
Blues Comin’ On, the latest offering from blues guitar legend Joe Louis Walker, was released on June 5, 2020, from Cleopatra Records.)
Blues artist Joe Louis Walker has been making music with his voice and guitar for over a half century. A 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee and a four-time Blues Music Award winner, Joe has learned from, been a mentor to, or simply played alongside just about everyone in the business.
His new album, Blues Comin’ On, which was released on June 5 by Cleopatra Records, features guest performances by fellow blues icons Keb’ Mo’, Eric Gales, and Albert Lee, Detroit soul singer Mitch Ryder, harmonica virtuoso Lee Oskar, Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen, punk rock vocalist Charlie Harper, and legendary session player Waddy Wachtel among others.
Parklife DC’s Ari Strauss had the opportunity recently to speak with Joe by phone to discuss the new album, his career, and the many wonderful artists he’s played with over the years.
Shirley King’s latest album, Blues for a King, releases June 19, 2020, via Cleopatra Records.
Just in time for Father’s Day, Shirley King, the daughter of iconic Blues legend B.B. King, releases a new album, Blues for a King, today via Cleopatra Blues, a division of Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records.
In this latest offering, Shirley steps out of her musical comfort zone to cover diverse range of musical genre including soul, R&B, rock, and her native Blues. The album also features a roster of legendary guitarists including Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MGs), Duke Robillard (Roomful of Blues/Fabulous Thunderbirds), Elvin Bishop (Paul Butterfield Blues Band), Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), and Junior Wells to name a few.
Parklife DC’s Ari Strauss had an opportunity to speak with Shirley by phone recently to discuss the new album, her career, and what it’s like to be the daughter of Blues royalty.
Lauren Calve (Photo by Shane Gardner)
DC Americana and blues artist Lauren Calve releases Wildfire, her new EP, on June 23. She recently released the first single from the album — a song called “Better Angels.” As Lauren has said, she took inspiration for the song from Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address, which prompted her to reflect on the courage of people today dealing with modern challenges like COVID-19.
And, of course, as everyone has been in a pandemic lockdown, Lauren has been a regular performer in livestream concerts, spreading the word about her new music and finding creative outlets where she can. Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter recently caught up with Lauren to ask her about getting music out during the lockdown, her approach to unique arrangements in her music, and her spiritual connections to the places that gave birth to roots and Americana.
Visit Lauren Calve’s website to grab her new single!