Who is Ben Smolin? Ben is a local musician and performance artist. To be more descriptive, he does “a lot of weird performance art and really weird music.” Weird. That may speak to what, but not who. I don’t pretend to know anyone well enough to speak to who they are. I feel in order to do that, you have to truly know someone or atleast get to know them. We sought after Ben to learn more about who he is, but we were declined an interview, forcing us to speak to what he is.
First, let’s go back to the declined interview. Have you began to form any opinions yet? I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t necessarily expect the response that we got, especially given that Ben messaged us about his upcoming show this weekend at Syndiate Lounge. But I guess I wasn’t necessarily surprised by it either. “Of course,” I thought, “this makes perfect sense.”
Let me back up to the first time I saw Ben Smolin perform live. People don’t know what to think when they see him the first time. “Weird,” is probably one of the first things that…
If The Grateful Dead made a positive impact on your life, cozying up to this album is about as comfortable as riding a roller coaster. The list of big-name, big-talent artists just keeps going; there’s a special kind of thrill with seeing a “China > Rider” performed by Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. However, certain songs make you question if this was another ploy to make Bob Weir a little more money. We’ll leave those tracks unnamed.
But then, Bela Fleck picks his way through “Help on the Way” with Oliver Wood; Courtney Barnett delivers mandatory grit for “New Speedway Boogie”; Jim James delivers spot-on Jerry vocals for “Candyman”; The War on Drugs, Hiss Golden Messenger, and The Flaming Lips’ contributions play like originals. You might wonder which good deeds in life led you to this audio treasure trove.
Thankfully, this album was not engineered to make Weir more money. Day of the Dead was produced by Red Hot, a nonprofit production company that uses “popular culture and artful propaganda” to raise money to fight HIV/AIDS and other related health issues. This album will be Red Hot’s twentieth in twenty-five years, marking their total money raised at over twelve million dollars.
This New Music Monday features two routes for streaming Day…
The Old Paints rock hard, they jam a little country, they ebb toward the psychedelic sea. It all works, together, as a self-professed pure-pop, rock n’ roll, country-folk-jangle trio from right here in Birmingham, Alabama. Andy Harris, resident twang master on guitar and vocals, also crafts posters and zines for the band and other outlets, such as Birmingham Zine Fest. Drummer Breely Flower’s voice sounds like an angel who just discovered cigarettes, her percussion skills lifting her up and out of innocence. Breely recently won Girls Rock Birmingham‘s songwriting contest, earning studio time at Communicating Vessels and airtime on Birmingham Mountain Radio. Bassist Joel Nelson keeps it calm, cool and collected, playing on and off again with the band but hopefully settling in as a more permanent member.
The Old Paints get their title from what cowboys sometimes named their horse (“Old Paint”) in Country Western songs and movies of days past. Dialing into this persona, The Old Paints take you for a ride, carrying you into lonesome sunsets via gallop-worthy riffs and grooves.
Catch a cool breeze between your fingers and the reigns with the endlessly catchy “What Did Rock & Roll Ever Do…