The Musical Ear - Sights & Sounds of the Tri-cities and Beyond

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, National Music,   From Issue 642   By: Scott Baker

02nd August, 2007     0

With 2007 featuring new studio albums from local original artists Larry McCray, The Banana Convention, Dave Kellan, and later this year Bob Hausler, Sprout, Matt Besey (cross your fingers), Born, as well as one from yours truly, Cary Ewing has released a masterpiece, a year in the works. The former bassist/vocalist for The Happy Bastids' among other groups in a storied musical history, has put together Box Of Pandora, 13 incredible pieces of music, destined to become a part of Tri-cities music history.

After recording the title-track and shooting his own video for it—a journey through Bay City's Historic Masonic Temple (a feature at Bay City's Hell's Half Mile Film Festival last year), Ewing went on to wrap up the rest of the album he had begun. Utilizing many area players much like Kellan did for his new album, Box Of Pandora features cameos from Jon Potrykus and Teri Stangle of Duality, Eric Janetsky, Frank and Jude Gorske and Rick Wheatley of The Iconix, Perry Bruneel, Javier Munoz, Cory Hillman, and Brian Huggins as well. Ewing's ability to mix singer/songwriter style tales with his incredible vocal talent comes across so natural, it's a surprise he hasn't found the mainstream yet. Go to or and secure a copy. Ewing is playing solo occasionally around town as well—he is not to miss! The CD comes with a free DVD containing his video Box Of Pandora and one for the track Deluge as well.

Before Chris Whitley's tragic death to lung cancer in November of 2005, he was able to meet up with his long-time music pal from Australia, Jeff Lang produce some of his final and finest material. Dislocation Blues, released this past April on Rounder Records, is an epitaph of a musical partnership that showcased a future of brilliant musical styles and depth. Both Lang and Whitley dig deep into themselves for a portrait of two friends finally getting their paths to cross - unfortunately it will also be the final time. This disc will finish in the top of the music lists. Hear the final round of wonderful music that Whitley had to offer.

Cornpone - roots music, country, rockabilly. Think Hank Williams I, II, & III, rolled into a trio made up of ex-Sprout and the Orange members Nate Callison on acoustic and vocals and Jeff Schrems on stand-up acoustic bass (gut-string slapper!), and Ziggie Zeitler, the Tri-cities own master multi-instrumentalist laying out the steel guitar in this configuration. This type of band (based out of Hemlock and Saginaw) is not your typical country radio favorite. These guys dig deep, play real roots and bring back something lost from the 40s and 50s that comes across ultra-fresh today. They also will sting you with a crazy cover from another genera every so often. See them live all over the area by checking them out first at It's real and real good.

Norah Jones guitarist Adam Levy has just released a solo album featuring his new trio. Titled Washing Day (Lost Wax Music), Levy's songwriting takes center stage with his mellow vocals adding dynamic to his already world-cred guitar playing. Levy played in Bay City back in May at the Arlington and hopes to tour with his band later this year. Bassist Andy Hess hails from Gov't Mule and the incredible Tony Mason is on drums. Get a copy at or An excellent listen in 2007, and one which may be floating under the radar.

Speaking of Levy, his past guitar partner in Jones’ band Kevin Breit has a brilliant new album out with ‘mysticsippi’ slide guitar guru Harry Manx. In Good We Trust is a fascinating slide guitar and songwriting workout, breathing in both the individual Manx and Breit's slide guitar and alternate tuning languages. They gel together for one of the best CD's of the year. Available on Stony Plain Records, home of unique music pieces such as Jay Geils’ Plays Jazz, and Eric & Leon Bibb's Praising Peace—A Tribute To Paul Robeson, In Good We Trust should find a market to guitar lovers everywhere. If it isn't available locally, check out to get square with some real earthy music that won't quit.

Readily available on VH-1, Joss Stone's Introducing Joss Stone (Virgin Records) is another groove masterpiece from the British young vocal queen. Not to be mislead by her sophomore efforts hit storm and polish, Introducing has the edge and yearning of Stone's debut, while crossing genres with a spirit from the soul-filled 60s that hasn't seen light-of-day on the radio in this day and age of corporate slice-and-dice music. If you heard one song, wait until the next!

Wrapping up this edition of Sights and Sounds, are some blues to be used. Both Tinsley Ellis and JJ Grey & Mofro have put out a pair of outstanding, southern-drenched soul-blues albums that reach above the rest. Grey's Country Ghetto (Alligator Records) has the most stompin’est, in-yer-face sound of anything released this year. A pleasure to spin at parties and a great driving CD, Country Ghetto is the next step in Grey’s climb to the top of the swamp-charts. While you may not hear him on the radio, he is not to be missed. Ellis’ Moment Of Truth (also on Alligator) features vocals and guitar tone like no-one in the business. Living along the lines of a roadster, much like the Allman Brothers, Ellis has the depth of the three Kings (eh, um--that would be B.B., Albert, and Freddie) and at times the swashbuckling style of Albert Collins. Following a career-spanning live release that brought his stock back up, both Ellis’ songwriting and playing couldn't get much sweeter than this. Not to be missed.


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