Award-winning Nashville recording artist Tommy Womack performs, with Irish singer / songwriter Ben Reel.
As both an artist and a person, Tommy Womack has been called everything from "Tom Lehrer with a Telecaster" to “Nashville’s best loved musical eccentric,” and he might blushingly, but proudly, accept both titles. That's because separating Womack the man and Womack the artist is impossible, as they're both the same guy. An award-winning recording artist and a published author, Womack writes songs as honest as anything Hank Williams or Steve Earle ever recorded, and has attracted the attention of the national press while accumulating a loyal following.
Womack came to Nashville from Kentucky, where he led the legendary post-punk band Government Cheese. Then came the short-lived bis-quits (who made one great record for John Prine’s Oh Boy! Label and brought Tommy and Will Kimbrough together for the first time of what has become a long, fruitful partnership). After the demise of the bis-quits, Womack immortalized Government Cheese’s story in the cult classic rock bio "Cheese Chronicles: The True Story of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band You’ve Never Heard Of". (With the release of a 2 CD anthology of Government Cheese’s, a sell-out reunion tour, and the success of the book, the Cheese is arguably a bigger band now than they ever were when they were together!)
On his fourth solo album – the career-defining There, I Said It! – Womack, sang about how his better days appeared to be behind him. “Nice Day”, a heart-tugging tale of a father enjoying a day swimming with his son while financial worries swirl in his head, won the “Best Song” award in the 2007 Nashville Scene Critics poll (an award he’s won twice). That record also features his epic tour de force “Alpha Male & The Canine Mystery Blood” is 8 minutes of cathartic musings on life, love and aging that often moves audiences to standing ovations.
With the release of 2012’s Now What!, Womack picks up where he left off. “This record is totally a sequel. Hence the title. The last record was all about being washed up.” he says, “This one is about what happened when There, I Said It! gave me my career back. Songs about home and family (“Play That Cheap Trick, Cheap Trick Play”; “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Good”) collide into songs about the perils of road life (“On and Off the Wagon” and the hilarious - if blood-chilling - “90 Miles an Hour Down a Dead-End Street”.) In between, we meet old flames in the grocery (“Bye & Bye”), grow old ungracefully (“Over the Hill”) and ponder simple love (“I Love You to Pieces”; “Wishes Do Come True”; and the album closer “Let’s Have Another Cigarette”.)
Womack is omnipresent in Music City, both live and on record, whether working with Will Kimbrough in their band DADDY, who have released two records, to leading the Alphabetical Kinks with Bill Lloyd (playing a night full of Kinks tunes done in alphabetical order, starting with “All Day & All of the Night” and ending with “You Really Got Me”), or leading his Clash tribute band Tommy Gun, or being in his harmony vocalist’s band backing Lisa Oliver-Gray (who’s record he co-produced) on simply playing his own show being backed by his own fine band, the Rush to Judgment. “I like being busy.” Womack says, “Keeps me out of trouble. I’ve been in enough trouble as it is. I feel lucky getting to do all this. After growing up such a square peg and spending so much time miserable, I like getting near 50 and actually thinking, ‘hey, it’s fun being me.’”
Irish singer/songwriter Ben Reel has released his 6th studio album on the 22nd April 2013 entitled Darkness & The Light. It includes 11 brand new songs. This will be the first record that he has recorded & produced in his own home studio in Co. Armagh. There will also be a special limited edition of the album available only on the benreel.com website, which will include 5 bonus tracks.
Since his debut back in 1999, each album has gone from strength to strength, touching on different styles of music from rock,soul,blues, Alt Folk/Americana & with the occasional injection of reggae. This was highlighted on his 2012, 18 song best of album (Ben Reel 1999-2009 Compilation 10) released only as a limited edition for loyal fans to buy at gigs, also available on iTunes worldwide.
Ben’s music has evolved into an honest earthy sound that has matured like a fine wine and he has very much his own sound today. This can be heard on this new album.
Darkness & The Light is a powerful soulful album with deep meaningful lyrics and memorable epic anthemic songs, with strong melodies combined with imaginative expansive arrangements. Recorded digitally but with an analog feeling of warmth. The songs deal with the fall out since the global economic crash. Also probing for spiritual meaning and balance between the Yin and the Yang, trying to find light, hope and healing in these troubled times. Serious songs from a serious artist in a serious moment in time.
In the last 10 years he has had numerous high profile TV & Radio appearances and airplay under his belt including Bob Harris BBC Radio 2 and has supported names like Jools Holland, Alabama 3, The Cranberries and appeared as a special guest at one of Hal Ketchum's shows in Dublin. He has performed his radio hit ‘U People’ with the late great Ian Dury’s legendary ‘Blockheads’ and has recorded the song with award winning saxophonist Gilad Atzmon.
Over the last 5 years Ben has enjoyed successful tours in Europe, receiving rave reviews and attracting a growing fan base. His band includes amongst the finest musicians in Ireland, his brother in law Michael Black on Drums, Ronnie O’Flynn on bass and Mick McCarney on guitar. With this line up they have built up a loyal underground following. Ben is often described as an ‘artist lying beneath the radar for way too long’.
In 2011 Ben played showcase gigs in Nashville & Memphis (Folk Alliance) where he collaborated with some of Nashville's finest, David Olney & Sergio Webb, co wrote with Irene Kelley and in February 2013 he toured with Tommy Womack in the UK & Holland. Plans are in the pipeline to return to the U.S in Sept 2013 to promote his new record and to follow up on his success on Airplaydirect.com radio download rock chart, where he has been number 1 for the last 4 months. Plus he will be touring extensively in Ireland, UK & Europe.
"A country, folk troubadour in the early Dylan/ Woody Guthrie tradition..." so scribed one reviewer. Michael C. Smith certainly has the songwriting chops and enough southern born gravel road riding through his rich baritone to lend to such comparisons. He's built a foundation not so easily categorized; drawing from a rich influence of artists, poets, philosophers, used car salesmen, lovers, hobos and thieves.
His debut album Hands of The Wicked is a nine song essay on man's dark search for redemption from the belly of his own hell, relying on sparse instrumentation stacked like bones inside a rich body of lyrics to create a work that is both deeply personal and hauntingly universal.