At 2:00 p.m. Pacific time this past Saturday (the end of my show), my first thought was “well that was fun!”. That’s because it was. I got to do two interviews with really interesting musicians, Mark Bingham from Michot’s Melody Makers, and Mike Crooker and Ray Carmen of Librarians With Hickeys. I also got to debut a couple of eagerly awaited album tracks: a splendid new track from Anton Barbeau’s forthcoming double album “Manbird”, and a dynamic track from Kat Jones’ new live album “We Are Warm, Young, Blood”.
So now that I’ve told you about the really great tracks from Anton and Kat, let’s talk about the artists I chatted with.
I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with musicians in the orbit of Louisianan Louis Michot’s various projects. This week, legendary producer/engineer/musician Mark Bingham stepped up to the plate. He’s worked with such varied luminaries as John Scofield, Flat Duo Jets, R.E.M., and more. Usually, but not always, he’s behind the scenes. He’s been so busy working on other people’s projects for the last, oh, four or five decades, that he hasn’t really been in a band. Until now.
Mark, who moved to New Orleans in 1982, after various stints in Indiana and New York, started working with Louis Michot. He started playing with Michot’s Melody Makers, which led to filling in on live gigs, which led to an invitation to become a permanent member of the band. All the more noteworthy because Mark had never played any kind of Cajun music in the past. But the Melody Makers are not your typical Cajun band–they kind of mix the expected traditions with even older traditions (when, to paraphrase Mark, Cajun was considered kind of “punk”), and modern instrumentation and ambient, spacey sounds. He’s never liked to be pigeonholed or limited to a single type of music, and this band sounded interesting to him. They never do the same thing twice, and oftentimes, improvise and invent new things during a performance. That sense of musical adventure appealed to Mark, so here we are.
We sample cuts from the new album, “Cosmic Cajuns From Saturn”. Check out more info here: https://michotsmelodymakers.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-cajuns-from-saturn
A little later on, I got to meet Mike Crooker and Ray Carmen, of Akron, Ohio’s Librarians With Hickeys. The band name draws you in, but the music brings you back. Seriously. They released a single a while back which had two perfect songs on it: “Until There Was You”, which instantly sounds like something you grew up with. It’s a wonderfully melodic song, very comfortable and easy on the ears. If they’d stopped right there, I would have thought really highly of this band. But then that B-side: “And Then She’s Gone”. Where the A-side might have been influenced by the 70s, the B-side screams early 90s alternative to me–specifically, the jangly guitars playing off that swirly bass, while retaining the great harmonies. This one really got into my head and heart.
So the single was flawless. No way they could keep up that level of quality if they ever released an album, right? Wrong! They met up with Rex and Christina from Big Stir Records, it was love at first listen, and just like that, “Long Overdue”, their new album literally dropped the day before the interview. And it’s a great one. An integral part of my summer soundtrack. It fulfills the promise of the single. All great songs, chock full of hooks and melodies galore. They bring the rock, and my latest obsession is, well, the song “Obsession”. Sounds like something I might have listened to in 1990–the alternative, pre-grunge era. Backwards guitar solos get me every time. But that’s not the whole album. You could call parts of it power pop, and other parts just straight up rock and roll. But anybody who can tap into the sounds of my growing up years, my dating years, and my “trying to navigate adulthood” years, has really done me a solid. Please make yourself as happy as I am and get it here: https://bigstirrecords.com/librarians-with-hickeys
Enjoy the show!