Born into a musical family, multi-talented electric blues guitarist Mark Cook grew up on the road, touring North America with his parents, who billed themselves as the Dale & Vicki Duo. Cook inherited his parents' gift and passion for music, namely the blues, and set out to become a serious musician after settling in Indiana at age 15. Since then, Cook furthered his masterful command of the guitar and also taught himself bass, piano, and production. Over time, he constructed a professional recording studio in his home, where he engineered, produced, and recorded his debut CD, An Evening With the Blues, in 2000. The album won acclaim, particularly from Just Plain Folks, a large music-industry organization, who voted it Best Blues Album of the Year 2001…
Multi-award-winning composer Paul Reale has a distinctly American voice, enriched and given touches of familiarity through references to folk idiom and musical ancestors such as Bartók and Kodály. This program brings together Reale’s works for cello and piano. His earliest, Séance, is a haunting combination of modernist sounds and Baroque melodies. The operatic Cello Sonata No. 1 daringly uses What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor as the backbone of its finale, and the recent Chopin’s Ghosts explores the Romantic composer’s long, weaving lines and evokes his poetic spirit.
In 2002, Mark Lanegan was looking to make some changes in how he approached his music – the Screaming Trees had finally collapsed at the end of the '90s, he'd found a new fan base as a frequent guest vocalist with Queens of the Stone Age, and the spare, blues-leaning solo efforts Lanegan cut for Sub Pop were no longer side projects but the first chapters of a new career. As Lanegan was strategizing his next move, he went to Houston, Texas and in five days recorded a dozen songs with a handful of talented local musicians, including guitarist Ian Moore and longtime Willie Nelson sideman Mickey Raphael on harmonica, with Justice Records founder Randall Jamail as producer. While the sessions were meant to be demos for a stack of songs Lanegan had written for Jamail's publishing house, the finished product sounded good enough to be an album, and in 2015 Lanegan finally released the material under the title Houston: Publishing Demos 2002. The jolly irony is that while these are supposed to be demos, in many respects the performances sound more polished and "commercial" than most of Lanegan's early solo efforts, capturing a laid-back but buoyant mood that's informed by country and blues as much as rock, and Lanegan seems comfortable singing with the group, rather than simply laying his vocals over the top.
Blue Floyd, an all-star jam band performing variations on the material of Pink Floyd, are a spin off from Gov’t Mule, featuring Allen Woody and Matt Abts from Gov’t Mule, Berry Oakley (son of Raymond Berry Oakley from The Allman Brothers) on bass, Mark Ford (The Black Crows) on lead guitarist, and Johnny Neil (Dickey Betts Band And The Allman Brothers) on keyboards. This 3 disc set was recorded on the bands 2000 tour in Alexandria, Vancouver. Gov’t Mule have recently toured Europe, promoting their new releases including Dark Side Of The Mule, following on from Blue Floyds reinterpretation of the Pink Floyd catalogue.
Arista dropped them but the Church soldiered on – Tim Powles fully joined in the songwriting process a number of times, while Peter Koppes guested on various cuts after his absence from Sometime Anywhere. Violinist Linda Neil also appeared along with other guests from that record, with Magician Among the Spirits being the attractive end result. If the band was still a touch fragmented, Magician shows them well on the road to becoming a fully tight unit once again, with a number of interesting diversions along the way. Sonically, things followed in the vein of Sometime to a large extent, trying out different approaches and backing, often exploring more spacious, sometimes very late-night, relaxed arrangements.