Americana: Music That Matters 

The South side of Chicago has never been a great place to play original music. On any given weekend live music venues are filled with cover bands. Give the folks what they want to hear. But in recent years things have changed as several roots based bands have recently emerged with recordings of original songs. Say hello to the new roots scene and its most prominent artists: South City Revival, The Railway Gamblers, Pat Egan and the Heavy Hearts, and the Liam Durkin Band. 

South City Revival is comprised of Joe Pacelli (vocals, guitar), John Quinn (lead guitar, vocals), Mike Fitzgerald (bass), José “Pino" Perez on drums, and Brendan Linnane (lead guitar, pedal steel). They recently released their first full length CD “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire.” Their lives shows have earned a devoted following. If you like your country with a kick, check ‘em out. 

https://www.southcityrevival.com/ 

The Railway Gamblers, based in Evergreen Park, IL are led by prolific singer/songwriter Brendan Folliard (guitar, piano, harmonica, lead vocals), who alongside Matt Fricks (lead guitar), Sean Wilmsen (drums), and Dan Kane (bass), just released their fifth recording. Their self-described “Cosmic Americana” style of homegrown music has been attracting fans for several years. 

https://railwaygamblers.com/home 

If you like your music with the volume turned up, look no further than Pat Egan and the Heavy Hearts.“Folk rock with 70s guitar swagger,” according to their Facebook page. Check out their 2019 release Love and Disruption." According to their Facebook page their recording was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully things will resume and a new release will follow soon. 

Liam Durkin is a familiar performer to those who frequent Irish pubs on the south side of town. His powerful vocals and impressive guitar work is evident at his live performances. The Liam Durkin Band just released “Behind the Wheel,” and he is currently supporting its release with a busy touring schedule. 

http://www.liamdurkin.com/home.html 

It appears the restrictions placed on live music venues are finally easing. Check out these bands and show some support for these bands.

Chicago's South Side Roots Revival 

                                  



                                 
                   

                    

The South side of Chicago has never been a great place to play original music. On any given weekend live music venues are filled with cover bands. Give the folks what they want to hear. But in recent years things have changed as several roots based bands have recently emerged with recordings of original songs. Say hello to the new roots scene and its most prominent artists: South City Revival, The Railway Gamblers, Pat Egan and the Heavy Hearts, and the Liam Durkin Band.

South City Revival is comprised of Joe Pacelli (vocals, guitar), John Quinn (lead guitar, vocals), Mike Fitzgerald (bass), José “Pino" Perez on drums, and Brendan Linnane (lead guitar, pedal steel). They recently released their first full length CD “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire.” Their lives shows have earned a devoted following. If you like your country with a kick, check ‘em out.

https://www.southcityrevival.com/

The Railway Gamblers, based in Evergreen Park, IL are led by prolific singer/songwriter Brendan Folliard (guitar, piano, harmonica, lead vocals), who alongside Matt Fricks (lead guitar), Sean Wilmsen (drums), and Dan Kane (bass), just released their fifth recording. Their self-described “Cosmic Americana” style of homegrown music has been attracting fans for several years. 

https://railwaygamblers.com/home

If you like your music with the volume turned up, look no further than Pat Egan and the Heavy Hearts.“Folk rock with 70s guitar swagger,” according to their Facebook page. Check out their 2019 release Love and Disruption." According to their Facebook page their recording was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully things will resume and a new release will follow soon.

Liam Durkin is a familiar performer to those who frequent Irish pubs on the south side of town. His powerful vocals and impressive guitar work is evident at his live performances. The Liam Durkin Band just released “Behind the Wheel,” and he is currently supporting its release with a busy touring schedule.

http://www.liamdurkin.com/home.html

It appears the restrictions placed on live music venues are finally easing. Check out these bands and show some support for these bands.

James McCandless - A Forgotten Chicago Treasure 

                                                    

Chicago has had its share of accomplished singer/songwriters, most notably Michael Smith, Steve Goodman, and John Prine. But another artist, just as talented, was the late James McCandless. He passed away in 2013, but his music still deserves a larger audience.

 I first heard McCandless around 1990, at Fitzgerald’s night club just outside of Chicago. It was their Tuesday evening open mic. I sat at the bar as various aspiring musicians wandered in with guitar cases in hand. Others huddled in a corner talking shop or tuning up to prepare for their performance.

The proceedings began as the first gentleman slowly took the stage. He looked disheveled in his baggy pants and loose sweater. Then he played some of the best songs I had ever heard. Others in attendance seemed to know him, and I quickly learned I had been listening to James McCandless, a local songwriter.
He immediately stood out by the quality of his songs and his almost classical finger style guitar. The first chance I got, I drove to the Old Town School of Folk Music on Armitage and bought Out West Somewhere. I went to see him every chance I got, which was usually at Fitzgerald’s. He occasionally opened for a touring artist whose songs would usually pale in comparison.

I discovered his music just as he was about to release Sea of Freedom, another collection of stellar compositions. “Lily Langtry” which I have heard called one of the best songs written about celebrity. His own family history is the subject in “Springfield.” Irish musicians John William, Martin Hayes and Jackie Moran join Julianne Macarus to round out the instrumentation.

The music of James McCandless is intelligent, insightful, and will leave you wanting more. Hopefully, more artists will cover his songs in ther future. His wonderful songs are widely available on streaming services and at jamesmccandless.com     

                                                

Best of Americana 

What exactly is “Americana “music? It can be argued at length, but perhaps the best way to explain it is  to give my list of favorite recordings that I consider outstanding examples of the genre. Drum roll please... 

Guitar Town - Steve Earle 

This was the record that put Steve Earle on the map. It rocks and has enough twang to earn some success on the country charts. Key tracks: “Fearless Heart,” “Someday” 

Trace - Son Volt 

After the break-up of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar released this stunning collection with new band mates as Son Volt. This 1995 release still holds up as an example of brilliant songwriting. Key Tracks: “Windfall” “Tear Stained Eye” 

Poor Man’s Dream - Tom Russell 

Tom Russell has flown under the radar for most of his career. He has produced one of the most impressive catalogues of any American songwriter and is still going strong. This 1989 record is a great introduction. Key Tracks: “Eyes of Roberto Duran” “” Blue Wing" 

Time (The Revelator) - Gillian Welch 

This contemplative 2001 release is a masterclass of understated excellence. Accompanied, as always by partner David Rawlings, this undoubtedly the high point of her career. Key Tracks: “April 14th (Part One)” “I Dream a Highway” 

The Missing Years - John Prine 

This alum is all over the place, stylistically. From folkie finger picking cuts “All the Best” to the radio friendly rock oriented “Take a Look at My Heart” produced by Tom Petty bassist, Howie Epstein, this includes several great songs and remains one of Prine’s bestselling albums. Key Tracks: “Picture Show” “Everything is Cool” 

Out of California - Dave Alvin 

Dave Alvin is Americana. After leaving The Blasters, he began a stellar career that includes this live recording. Armed with a full band, including the late Chris Gaffney, this encompasses everything from blues to straight ahead rock-and-roll. Key Tracks: “Out in California” “Blue Boulevard" 

All These Dreams - Andrew Combs 

This 2105 recording has been in steady rotation since its release. This Nashville based singer/songwriter has been compared to Glenn Campbell or Mickey Newbury for his countrypolitan sound, but don’t let the easy going vibe be taken lightly. Key Tracks: “Rainy Day Song” “Nothin’ To Lose” 

Southeastern - Jason Isbell 

The release that made everyone stand up and take notice. The former Drive By Trucker gave up alcohol and in the process became an artist who seems incapable of releasing a poor record. Key Tracks: “Elephant” “Cover Me Up” 

Gloryland - Kevin Gordon 

 Gordon’s music has inherited the swampy sound of his native New Orleans. Several cuts were inspired by growing up in the South, as with the “Colfax/Step in Time.” This 2011 recording just never grows old. Key Tracks: “Pecolia’s Star” “Trying to Get to Memphis”

Best Americana Albums 

 What exactly is “Americana “music? It can be argued at length, but perhaps the best way to explain it is  to give my list of favorite recordings that I consider outstanding examples of the genre. Drum roll please...

Guitar Town - Steve Earle 

This was the record that put Steve Earle on the map. It rocks and has enough twang to earn some success on the country charts. Key tracks: “Fearless Heart,” “Someday”

Trace - Son Volt 

After the break-up of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar released this stunning collection with new band mates as Son Volt. This 1995 release still holds up as an example of brilliant songwriting. Key Tracks: “Windfall” “Tear Stained Eye”

Poor Man’s Dream - Tom Russell

Tom Russell has flown under the radar for most of his career. He has produced one of the most impressive catalogues of any American songwriter and is still going strong. This 1989 record is a great introduction. Key Tracks: “Eyes of Roberto Duran” “” Blue Wing"

Time (The Revelator) - Gillian Welch

This contemplative 2001 release is a masterclass of understated excellence. Accompanied, as always by partner David Rawlings, this undoubtedly the high point of her career. Key Tracks: “April 14th (Part One)” “I Dream a Highway”

The Missing Years - John Prine

This alum is all over the place, stylistically. From folkie finger picking cuts “All the Best” to the radio friendly rock oriented “Take a Look at My Heart” produced by Tom Petty bassist, Howie Epstein, this includes several great songs and remains one of Prine’s bestselling albums. Key Tracks: “Picture Show” “Everything is Cool”

Out of California - Dave Alvin

Dave Alvin is Americana. After leaving The Blasters, he began a stellar career that includes this live recording. Armed with a full band, including the late Chris Gaffney, this encompasses everything from blues to straight ahead rock-and-roll. Key Tracks: “Out in California” “Blue Boulevard"

All These Dreams - Andrew Combs

This 2105 recording has been in steady rotation since its release. This Nashville based singer/songwriter has been compared to Glenn Campbell or Mickey Newbury for his countrypolitan sound, but don’t let the easy going vibe be taken lightly. Key Tracks: “Rainy Day Song” “Nothin’ To Lose”

Southeastern - Jason Isbell

The release that made everyone stand up and take notice. The former Drive By Trucker gave up alcohol and in the process became an artist who seems incapable of releasing a poor record. Key Tracks: “Elephant” “Cover Me Up”

Gloryland - Kevin Gordon 

 Gordon’s music has inherited the swampy sound of his native New Orleans. Several cuts were inspired by growing up in the South, as with the “Colfax/Step in Time.” This 2011 recording just never grows old. Key Tracks: “Pecolia’s Star” “Trying to Get to Memphis”


Tribute to "Troop" 

Greg Trooper, one our best singer/songwriter’s passed away January 15, 2017 at 61. Armed with his trademark Martin guitar and pork-pie hat, he left behind an impressive catalogue of songs and legions of fans in Europe and here in the states. Several artists, Vince Gill and Steve Earle among them recorded his songs. In one of his last performances, he opened for John Prine and joined him onstage for Prine’s “Paradise.” 

He died on this date three years and is greatly missed. I first heard Greg Trooper in 2003. Sugar Hill released his Floating record to rave reviews. I am one of the many fortunate fans who got to know “Troop,” through a mutual friend who booked him for a few gigs. He was fond of talking music, enjoying a glass of wine, and sharing all his great songs. He was also willing to discuss his inspiration and his admiration of other artists. 

A native of New Jersey, “Troop” formed The Greg Trooper Band in New Your in the 90s, which featured Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan). He eventually moved to Nashville where he continued to release critically acclaimed records. These included Noises in the Hallway, produced by E Street Band bassist, Garry Tallent, and Popular Demons, produced by Buddy Miller. After moving from label to label, he released two more stellar recordings for the Sugar Hill label. He moved back to New York in 2009 and continued to tour, write and release records. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and tragically passed away in 2017. 

Like any road warrior, he had plenty of stories.I once asked him about his popularity in The Netherlands. I had noticed he toured there at least once a year. He told a story about being invited to headline a festival. He brought a band and played the prime slot on the Saturday night of the festival. “It was one of those dream gigs. We just nailed it! And ever since I’ve had a steady audience there.” 

Even a casual music fan would recognize that “Troop” deserved a much wider audience. Greg Trooper’s music is still readily available on all streaming platforms. Give him a listen. RIP Troop.

Tribute to Greg "Troop" Trooper 

 


Greg Trooper, one our best singer/songwriter’s passed away January 15, 2017 at 61. Armed with his trademark Martin guitar and pork-pie hat, he left behind an impressive catalogue of songs and legions of fans in Europe and here in the states. Several artists, Vince Gill and Steve Earle among them recorded his songs. In one of his last performances, he opened for John Prine and joined him onstage for Prine’s “Paradise.” 

He died on this date three years and is greatly missed. I first heard Greg Trooper in 2003. Sugar Hill released his Floating record to rave reviews. I am one of the many fortunate fans who got to know “Troop,” through a mutual friend who booked him for a few gigs. He was fond of talking music, enjoying a glass of wine, and sharing all his great songs. He was also willing to discuss his inspiration and his admiration of other artists.

A native of New Jersey, “Troop” formed The Greg Trooper Band in New Your in the 90s, which featured Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan). He eventually moved to Nashville where he continued to release critically acclaimed records. These included Noises in the Hallway, produced by E Street Band bassist, Garry Tallent, and Popular Demons, produced by Buddy Miller. After moving from label to label, he released two more stellar recordings for the Sugar Hill label. He moved back to New York in 2009 and continued to tour, write and release records. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and tragically passed away in 2017.

Like any road warrior, he had plenty of stories.I once asked him about his popularity in The Netherlands. I had noticed he toured there at least once a year. He told a story about being invited to headline a festival. He brought a band and played the prime slot on the Saturday night of the festival. “It was one of those dream gigs. We just nailed it! And ever since I’ve had a steady audience there.”

Even a casual music fan would recognize that “Troop” deserved a much wider audience. Greg Trooper’s music is still readily available on all streaming platforms. Give him a listen. RIP Troop.

Best of 2020 

It takes but a few seconds into God Made a Woman to know this is country music. Acoustic guitars, piano and a soft pedal steel humming in the background frame the introduction as Lauren Mascitti’s vocal draws you in. 

Too many artists try to be too many things to too many people, so It’s refreshing to hear a “new” artist embrace the sounds of classic country music.  I say “new” because she has been releasing music for several years, but this release has gained her the attention and critical accolades she deserves. 

Produced by Nashville veteran songwriter Shawn Camp, this release (along with appearances on American Idol), places Mascitti as one of the most engaging and talented performers in country music. 

Mascitti is not a newcomer to the Nashville scene, but this is her most fully realized recording to date. Besides being a talented singer/songwriter, Mascitti works a night shift as a nurse and financed the recording herself. Its independence guarantees its disregard for any commercial trends in popular country music. She is joined on this record by Ricky Skaggs, pedal steel master Paul Franklin, guitarists Guthrie Trapp and Camp among others. 

Her connection to the songs are obvious as her emotional yet restrained vocals add just the right touch to put these stories across. The title track has gained her a wider audience since she performed it on Idol. Another standout is “I Wanna Show You My Town.” Anyone who has taken a drive to show a loved their hometown or the old neighborhood will appreciate the details of the song. “Hello Sad Eyes” is inspired by her work as a nurse. She sings every cut with feeling and never over reaches for cheap sentiment. 

Above all these are great songs, tastefully produced and sung by an artist embraces that is good about country music.

Best Recordings of 2020 - Lauren Mascitti God Made a Woman 

 


It takes but a few seconds into God Made a Woman to know this is country music. Acoustic guitars, piano and a soft pedal steel humming in the background frame the introduction as Lauren Mascitti’s vocal draws you in.

Too many artists try to be too many things to too many people, so It’s refreshing to hear a “new” artist embrace the sounds of classic country music.  I say “new” because she has been releasing music for several years, but this release has gained her the attention and critical accolades she deserves.

Produced by Nashville veteran songwriter Shawn Camp, this release (along with appearances on American Idol), places Mascitti as one of the most engaging and talented performers in country music.

Mascitti is not a newcomer to the Nashville scene, but this is her most fully realized recording to date. Besides being a talented singer/songwriter, Mascitti works a night shift as a nurse and financed the recording herself. Its independence guarantees its disregard for any commercial trends in popular country music. She is joined on this record by Ricky Skaggs, pedal steel master Paul Franklin, guitarists Guthrie Trapp and Camp among others.

Her connection to the songs are obvious as her emotional yet restrained vocals add just the right touch to put these stories across. The title track has gained her a wider audience since she performed it on Idol. Another standout is “I Wanna Show You My Town.” Anyone who has taken a drive to show a loved their hometown or the old neighborhood will appreciate the details of the song. “Hello Sad Eyes” is inspired by her work as a nurse. She sings every cut with feeling and never over reaches for cheap sentiment.

Above all these are great songs, tastefully produced and sung by an artist embraces that is good about country music.

CLASSIC ROCK- COUNTRY- IRISH FOLK -OLDIES

Join our email list for the latest news


"..stirring renditions."
Chicago Tribune

Thanks for visiting the website of Joe Monahan, one of Chicagoland's most versatile acoustic entertainers. A native Chicagoan, Joe has played in and around Chicago for over fifteen years. He has a wide ranging repertoire from Irish ballads to popular Rock/Pop and Country & Western hits.


TO  CONTACT JOE MONAHAN:
jktm444@gmail.com

708-334-3340
 

 

 

 

 

 

  monahanmusic.com
All Rights Reserved
copyright 2020 All Music written by Dennis Keane and Joe Monahan
Keane Monahan Music BMI