Grand Ole Echo with Brian Whelan

Grand Ole Echo

Brian Whelan

To me, Brian Whelan will always be the Kid. When he first materialized several years ago at the Cinema Bar, that charmingly crowded, noisy little room in Culver City known as "The World's Smallest Honky Tonk," he was an alarmingly boyish presence. At first he stood out because he didn't look old enough to legally consume the beer he was holding. But he soon distinguished himself as a young lion behind the roots-rock sages – Randy Weeks, Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson – whose shows packed out the tiny joint. It became quickly apparent that Brian could play just about anything, and brilliantly; his formidable chops later found him a primo spot in Dwight Yoakam's band. But he displayed other musical dimensions: He also played in a tough little pop-rock band, known variously as the Brokedown and the Broken West, which recorded a couple of fine records before lamentably breaking up too soon. He fronted another rockin' unit, Wheelhouse, as a prelude for the album you're listening to now. It shows off splendidly the many things – singing, playing, writing -- that Brian does so exquisitely well. And it cuts across the broad swatch of stylistic turf that he occupies effortlessly, from the rootsy inventions of Gilkyson's "Mojave High" and Stinson's "Brand New Love Song" to a group of originals (two of them co-authored by Broken West cohort Ross Flournoy) that to my ears bear favorable comparison to the best of Nick Lowe or the Plimsouls.
Yeah, he's still the Kid to me. But Brian Whelan's work is thoroughly mature and emotionally wise, and many another grown-up musician will envy its excellence.
Chris Morris
Host, "Watusi Rodeo"/Scion Radio 17
Los Angeles, June 2012

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Amy Blaschke

An Amy Blaschke song is like a well-worn gold locket, deceptively simple on the surface, opening to reveal a beautiful secret wonder. It could be a sneaky counter-melody of guitar or a lush, hushed vocal that perfectly captures one of the many shades of heartache. While lovely and confessional, her delivery is never precious. -Sarah Tomlinson

Desert Varnish, Blaschke's 4th album, is named after the patina on weathered desert rocks, like those found in Joshua Tree National Park.

Blaschke writes songs as beautiful as they are restless. Her tunes often bubble with melancholia but refuse to wallow. The instrumentation is mostly sparse here, but to call her instrumentation minimal and her compositions soft is misleading. That Blaschke’s dreamy, airy, singular purr is perhaps the most affecting instrument in the mix is a testament to the sheer vitality of her recordings. -Nat Bourgon

Desert Varnish, recorded in January 2011, was produced and engineered by Joshua Grange (KD Lang, Dwight Yoakam), featuring Grange on lead guitar, Ian Walker (KD Lang) on bass, Steve Nistor (Sparks, Sparklehorse) on drums and Jebin Bruni (Aimee Mann) on keys. The album is a return to her ethereal vocal roots, since her last full-length, Of Honey and Country on Go Midnight Records, released in 2007 under the band name Night Canopy, with multi-instrumentalist Nick deWitt (Pretty Girls Make Graves).

Blaschke hails from Seattle and started performing early on, playing her first show at the age of 16. She has been performing, writing and recording ever since, and currently calls Los Angeles home. In addition to her solo efforts, Blaschke was vocalist/keyboardist alongside frontman Justin Deary in Seattle psych rock band, Whalebones; Morning Man EP on Luckyhorse Industries, released in 2008. Her early solo releases include Amy Blaschke S/T on Luckyhorse Industries, released in 2003, featuring Erin Tate (Black Hills, Minus the Bear) and James Bertram (Red Stars Theory, 764-HERO); and Red Letter on LaPush Records, released in 1999, featuring Hannah Blilie (Gossip, Shoplifting).

Ryan Traster

Less than a year after the release of Ryan Traster's Good Hearts EP, heralded as an "amazing mix of raw rock, folk, and bit of that sweet spot that makes it sound current", the beloved troubadour returns with the gentle, yet revealing 7 inch Cruel Love on Dead Letter Records. Traster remains a midwest soul stranded in NYC, sharpened by the city bustle, yet holding tight to a solid heart that knows the contours of the prairie as well as the brownstones of Brooklyn. The darkness that seeped through the riffs on Good Hearts still hovers about the themes of Cruel Love, yet the single projects a certain optimism in its jangle and jaunt. Paired with a dreamy, laissez faire cover of Guided By Voices pop-classic "As We Go Up We Go Down" as the B side, Traster exploits fuzzy and distorted edges surrounding the addictive melodies on Cruel Love. With Good Hearts, love's loss found Traster in the gutter; with Cruel Love, he's lost in the clouds.

Ryan has over 10 years under his belt as a touring songwriter, having shared the stage with xiu xiu, Limbeck, New Amsterdams and more. He has recorded with members of The Jayhawks and Golden Smog. Traster's songs have been licensed to television networks like: Discovery Channel, E!, MTV, VH1, and more. Ryan recently had a song featured on "Keeping up with the Kardashians", later hijacked by Starbucks without him knowing.

Leggy Peggy

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Grand Ole Echo with Brian Whelan with Amy Blaschke, Ryan Traster, Leggy Peggy

Sunday, May 12 · 5:00 PM at The Echo