Darling West are the cosmic folk duo hailing from the land of Norway who have released Spelleman-winning (Norwegian Grammy) album ‘Vinyl and a Heartache’ and such hits as ‘Rolling On’, ‘Traveller’ and ‘The Sweetest Tune’. Host CloudwatcherUno sits down with artists Mari and Tor Egil Kreken to talk about their music, gorgeous lyrics and phenomenal harmonies and melodies. In the podcast Darling West perform live acoustic versions of ‘Rolling On’ and ‘Loneliness’ and there’s also the album version of ‘The Sweetest Tune’ that starts the show.
Darling West started life as folk trio with very dramatic thoughts on how they would be a band and ended up more into cosmic folk territory with electric guitars, drums and the banjo. Tor plays claw hammer style banjo like his Appalachian heroes of the US. Darling West’s sound started out as an interest in old fiddle tune time songs with mountain folk vibe similar to the music from the film ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ It was a jumping off point for the band to start their exploration of building and writing their songs.
The last EP ‘Interpretations’ explores their love of pop tunes through a country landscape. The music on the EP brings them joy and that translates to the listener when they hear the tracks ‘Don’t Start Now’, ‘Pamela’ and ‘Bulletproof’. It’s a way of expanding their audience’s expectations of the band. It was a challenge to find the tenderness within the original lyrics and the almost harsh production style and reimagine with a much softer gentler interpretation.
Darling West also bring their sound to life by showcasing their music through their Friday Sessions cover videos available on YouTube and Instagram. They bring the joy of their music by collaborating with fellow artists such as Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra. The ‘Friday Sessions’ started out as a response to the duo experiencing the lockdown in Norway and not being able to go out but still wanting to connect with their fans and audience. It’s a lot of work learning a new song every week and then record it flawlessly as a live video to such a high professional standard. Don’t expect the sessions to continue forever though as the duo need to work on releasing their own original music.
One of my favourite songs from the album ‘We’ll Never Know Unless We Try’ is ‘Home’ written by Tor Egil with Mari in their family’s cabin and was a song that just came out so easily and encapsulates the cosmic folk catalogue of Darling West. You can feel the influence of Gillian Welch in the lyrics and it sounds like poetry put to music.
The duo have adapted as well as they can to having to put touring to one side and have now been able to focus on the Friday Sessions, their songcraft and building a nice home for themselves to create an atmosphere conducive to blossoming their creativity. Without the pressure of trying to make a Darling West record has enabled them to explore different genres, sounds and musicality.
Growing up Tor Egil started off wanting to play football but that obsession was overtaken by learning to play the guitar while listening to his older brothers record collection. In junior high school reading about musicians playing their instruments and touring with their bands, Tor Egil knew this was going to be his life. When Mari and Tor met 15 years ago, Mari didn’t even play an instrument. Mari always enjoyed singing and her father always sang as a way to relax. There was always country music on the radio. After 7 years together Mari also wanted to become a part of the musical community in a real way and bought her first mandolin. It took a lot of practice before Mari felt that she had the sound she wanted from her instrument and could call herself a musician. It was all worth it as the duo have released four albums showing their incredible virtuosity, skill and range in producing stellar music.
Mari and Tor Egil don’t right formulaic music or middle of the road tunes for them there is no formula that they stick to. They want to keep their music as alive as possible and act as a homage to the Norwegian mountains. Speaking metaphorically if they found themselves in lifeboat having to recue their songs then they would save ‘Darling West’, ‘Vinyl and a Heartache’, ‘Someone Like You’, ‘Rolling On’, and River.
Darling West are at the forefront of the Nordicana music scene and bringing their own twist to the traditional Americana/ Appalachian music that’s been produced and being released. Their music is full of guitar, banjo and pedal steel which envelops the listener transporting them to a mythical country and western world. Going forward the duo want to focus more on their own song writing and they have more time to really record the songs they want in the style and production that showcases their music the best. A new album will arrive and when it does you know it’s going to be fantastic.
Click below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Darling West. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.
CloudwatcherUno speaks exclusively with David Jameson an American singer-songwriter from South Bend, Indiana. Through collaboration with Radio West Virginia he has released videos that perfectly capture his blend of American roots music styles including folk, old-time, and outlaw country.
Who Is David Jameson?
Right now, I live in Texas. During the last five to ten years, I’ve been living all over the world, but I grew up in the Heartland. A lot of my music influences are classic country and traditional Appalachian music, Bluegrass and old time music.
How excited are you in sharing new music this year?
I’m very excited. There’s really no other way to think about it. The songs have been really well received by everyone who has listened so far. I’m excited to share them more broadly.
How are you finding the process of releasing music during the pandemic?
It’s certainly a bit more difficult. Travelling and recording in the studio can be difficult while trying to socially distance and wear masks, especially for me since I am a singer. With almost any other instrument, the musician can wear a mask, but I can’t at least when I’m singing so I keep it on all the time and take it off right before I sing. After I finish, I put it right back on.
What was it like writing and recording ‘Sherman’s March’?
I was in West Virginia and had just visited WB Walker on the Old Soul Radio Show. I popped over to Boone County, West Virginia to record this video out in the holler amongst the trees. It was a beautiful location, and I was surprised that we were able to get such high quality audio because it was quite windy. My fingers are not used to playing out in the freezing cold, but it was a beautiful spot to hang out and play.
Tell us more about the video and how was it produced?
John Price of Radio West Virginia (RadioWV) and I walked out into the woods with a camera and a microphone, and we tried to find a spot that wasn’t too windy. And we scouted around, set up the microphone and plugged in my guitar so that we could get a clearer sound, and finally we got around to shooting the video.
You’ve talked a little bit about Radio West Virginia, can you talk more about your connection with them?
I’ve been a fan of Radio WV for quite a long time. John and Draven promote a lot of talented regional artists, and they do beautiful videos out in the woods of West Virginia. The musicians are fantastic. They’ve done videos with Charles Wesley Godwin, Drayton Farley, Cole Chaney, Logan Halstead, and many others. All of them sound great, and their videos have been really popular with people across West Virginia and beyond.
You already released ‘Tall Dark Pines’ through Radio West Virginia so what was that like?
It was great to get down to Dingess and Boone County, West Virginia. I’ve been to Tennessee and Kentucky but never to West Virginia, and it’s a whole different place. It’s gorgeous. A lot of the good murder ballads come from Appalachia. ‘Tall Dark Pines’ is very much inspired by traditional American music like the song ‘In The Pines’ or ‘My Girl’ depending on who sings it be that Lead Belly, Nirvana, or somebody else. ‘In the Pines’ is very much about the pines, and my song pays homage to that so it was very cool to sing it amongst the pines, out in the woods where the majority of the song takes place. Plus, ‘In The Pine’s is also a murder ballad of sorts, but the traditional song is much more gruesome than mine, even though mine is pretty explicit.
Do you sing any happy songs?
Yes, I sing happy songs for sure! My music reflects the range of experiences that you might have in life. The things that happen in real life are the strangest. ‘Tall Dark Pines’ is based on a murder that happened in my home town in Indiana. I put that story down in a song just like they did in the original murder ballads from the early days of the US. The truth of the story makes it all the more haunting.
Can you explain what your sound is?
The best way to describe my sound is that I’ve been channelling some of the early sounds of the United States including an Irish influence in the vocals and chord structures. I try to bring those storytelling songs into a modern era, so they may feel a little old but they still are relatable to people of today.
Do you think an artist now can afford to be just in one genre of music or should they cross genres?
I’m not sure what an artist should or shouldn’t do, but for me each song writes itself and sometimes a song calls for a slightly different sound. Some of my songs have come out as more of a rock song while others are more traditional country tunes in the Carter Family style with the Carter scratch.
Can describe the feeling that you get from actually having released a song from beginning to end?
Finally getting a song out is a relief. A lot of time goes into writing, refining and recording the song and preparing everything around the release. When the song gets out there you can finally let the bird fly.
You released a song called ‘South Bend Town’ and you were raised in South Bend, Indiana what was that like?
It was a really cool experience. I have lived in Texas off and on for a long time so going back home to South Bend was great. I enjoyed meeting some of the music community there who play music locally and nationally. I was starting to write the music for the album at the time and I thought that it would be more interesting to do something for the community. When I mentioned that idea to other people and they were super excited about it and wanted to join the project. Then I ended up recording with a number of artists who are popular locally and nationally including the guitarist from Umphrey’s McGee who is from South Bend, Jake Cinninger. I also met other artists who didn’t lay down tracks for the song, and they provided their invaluable guidance. In particular, The Bergamot and Francis Luke Accord have been very helpful. The song was received really well in South Bend and beyond with 20,000 plays across 50 different countries. In South Bend, a lot of people wear the South Bend Town t-shirt. Some of the kids especially my nieces and nephews sing it constantly because it’s very catchy and specific to South Bend. In South Bend, it’s had a big impact!
It’s a great song. Sounds like you had a lot of fun.
I had a lot of fun making this song.
Growing up did you always want to be a musician?
What kid doesn’t want to be a musician? It’s kinda like wanting to be an astronaut. Seems cool, not really sure how to do it. I don’t know if I intended to be a musician but I always played. I played with my family, and I played in bars in China when I was living over there. In China, a friend dragged me to go try out for a TV show, and we ended up making it on to the show. Then I thought maybe I could do something with my music, but back then I was singing covers in Chinese. Singing somebody else’s songs doesn’t have the same emotional punch as singing my own songs so I wanted to come back to the US and write my own stuff.
Tell us more of you being a western singer but to a Chinese audience.
It’s certainly a unique experience and in particular for me as a singer. I really like a lot of the Chinese music especially the folk music. It’s weird singing it though. Even though I can say the words and understand them, they don’t have the same impact on me. Like the word love doesn’t have the same emotion depth in Chinese because I don’t have all the experiences attached to the word. For example, as a baby, my mother said the word love to me many times in English, but no one said that to me in Chinese. So trying to sing a love song feels a bit empty emotionally. It doesn’t have the same kind of emotional release as it does for me in English. I have to think about it a lot more deeply to feel the meaning.
What’s your instrument of choice?
Definitely the guitar.
And how long have you been playing the guitar?
I’ve been playing the guitar for well over a decade. When I was younger I played the piano but I wanted something that was more mobile because I knew that I would be travelling around quite a lot. And more recently I’ve inherited my grandfather’s banjo so I’ve been learning that as well but I’m not ready to perform with that as of yet.
What kind of music inspired you and has stayed with you now?
Certainly singers like Johnny Cash and Elvis. They sing more in my range especially Johnny Cash. Very few singers today sing in that range. Many singers now have high voices and that’s just not my range. As a kid, Johnny Cash was one of the few singers that I could sing along with and the same with Frank Sinatra. I really liked those artists because I could actually sing and perform their songs and sound like the record.
What’s it been like for you as an artist not to be able to perform in front of an audience in these strange times?
It’s a lot like performing in front of TV where I wouldn’t really perform in front of anybody and sometimes there might be a studio audience of a couple of hundred but most of the audience would usually be behind the screen. So performing and recording these videos with Radio WV just feels normal, but certainly not being able to perform in front of a live audience and seeing their response changes the way that I write because I’m not getting the feedback from a larger audience.
What do you think fans get from your music?
It depends a lot on the song. Often I start with an emotion or a story that’s actually happened and think about how that actually makes me feel or how would it make a person in that story feel. Everything from the music to the lyrics, it’s all meant to create a feeling within the listener. Whether it be angry, sad, happy or nostalgic, I try to take that emotion and carry it through the whole song and the production.
And what songs do you feel have connected for you and with an audience?
The song in the last few years that made me feel the most was ‘Scarecrow In The Garden’ by Chris Stapleton, it’s a fantastic story about a family coming to America, creating a farm and life becoming more and more difficult as generations pass. The last line of that song still gives me Goosebumps. It’s such a powerful story, and the last line makes you really think about Heaven and Hell. The last lines are ‘There’s a bible in my left hand and a pistol in my right.’ Implying that he’s either going to find solace in the pistol or scripture. It’s a very dark choice. It’s pretty powerful emotionally.
For my music I have a very large extended family and often we’ll have a Zoom call where everyone gets together, brothers and sisters, anyone who can join. I played them all a song based on a family story of my Grandfather who was a Pastor. It’s called ‘Eye for An Eye’ and everybody was crying before I even sang halfway through it. It was pretty powerful to see how much they were moved by it. I’m not sure the average listener would cry while listening this song, but it really impacted my family.
Music is such a powerful experience do you feel a responsibility at all as an artist?
I feel that music should capture the real human experience and pop songs going into the pandemic were only happy songs, but people didn’t feel happy so why would you give them songs that don’t match their emotions. Sometimes you want that sad song. A lot of the old country songs are about real life, and I think that art has to represent real life. People can’t as easily connect with an emotion if it’s not represented in art. If you don’t have words to describe sadness then you struggle to feel it. And you struggle to capture in words what it might be. It’s easy to say this song is what I’m feeling because it’s more fundamental to your emotional state and it captures an emotion that words cannot.
That’s a fantastic answer.
Looking ahead what next for David Jameson?
Still pretty much focused on the album, I’ve yet to come up with a name yet. I’m still getting everything together so I can release in the next few months. This week ‘Sherman’s March’ video will be released on Radio WV and then more to follow. They are great videos and were really fun to shoot.
Checkout the video for ‘Sherman’s March’ by David Jameson with Radio WV.
James Steinle is a kindred spirit, a spirit that fills your ears with warmth and wonder. In this first episode of the New Year get ready to really listen to a singer whose voice reaches out from the darkness of the ether to transport you to a magical land. A land of music that runs parallel to ours but echoes the long lost songs of yesteryear. His lyrics and songs sound like lost songs from childhood or something that was on the radio when you were growing up but in fact was released in 2020. In this most horrendous of years music has been our saviour and one of those knight errant taking you on adventures is a boy who grew up in Saudi Arabia, lived in Germany and has now gone back home to South Texas.
CloudwatcherUno sits down with James to talk about ‘Cold German Mornings’ his album released in what conventional A&R thinking would be a complete non starter but for James it made perfect sense when else should you release an album that has songs set in snowy Germany than in winter? The album itself is full of gems that sparkle in the night sky, these are not filler songs but ones that have been polished with care and attention, so that a professor of song writing would mark this album with distinction.
We talk about his thinking behind such songs as ‘ Three Dark Kings’ in which James effortlessly switches between his western cowboy drawl to German. Even though you might not know it is being sung and subtitles would be welcome they aren’t necessary as the feeling and music carries you along with this nativity set song.
Then you have ‘Ein Schnapps, Ein Bier’ a song that wraps its way around your consciousness to make you get up and dance and has so infectious a melody that you’ll be singing it in the shower in no time. Then we switch direction again when we listen to ‘The Lusitania’ about the tragedy that befell this ship and the consequences it had not only for those who lost their lives but for the world as it was the catalyst for ensuring that America joined the western powers in WW1 and bring about the defeat of Germany.
On the album James gets to sing with Juliet McConkey whose voice complements his on so many levels. The couple also join forces on the video for their version of “Christmas on the Line” by Michael Martin Murphey.
Other topics of conversation range from he who must not be named who is currently in The White House, to Gun Control, The reality behind The Bluebird Cafe and it’s lack of authenticity and how to reach a global audience for your music in the age of a pandemic. For more of what we discussed you’ll just have to listen into the podcast! So what are you waiting for an invitation? Go listen to James’s music even better go buy his music because we most certainly want more unique melodies and songs from a one of a kind Texas artist.
James has also just released a new song ‘The Ballad of Wan Hu’ to kick off 2021 in style. It tells the trueish story of the Chinese astronaut Wan Hu and his attempt to leave the earths atmosphere on a chair propelled by 47 rockets!
Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring James Steinle. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Sandee June’s journey into music is an inspirational story that shows it’s never too late to follow your dreams, take up an instrument and make music. In this podcast we get hear an acoustic version of ‘Somewhere Between Hell and a Honky Tonk’ supported by Craig Phillips and Jennifer Rose Toler. Sandee’s natural gift for singing a melody and her fantastic voice are on display in this podcast.
Growing up music was an important part of Sandee James life whether it was James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard. When Sandee turned 50 and ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ rearing its head in her life she taught herself to play off You Tube. After a year of practicing Sandee wanted to play live. That’s where she was fortunate enough to meet Craig and Jennifer who showed her the way to go as hard and as fast as she could into this new chapter of her life. Sandee plans to keep going from strength to strength from just playing with her guitar to a full band sound.
Sandee has a gift for singing and her love and passion for music radiates from her every pore. Sandee is planning to release an EP in January 2021 and her album in Spring 2021. It’s truly amazing what you can do when you have faith in your own abilities and the passion to deliver on your ambition.
Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Dalton Mills. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Dalton Mills soul sparkles so brightly you’ll need sunglasses to go with a Hazmat suit. An exceptional lyricist he’s captured the lives, loss and heartaches of the disposed. Like a later day Chekov or Tolstoy he sings about the lonely souls in society, those who have fallen through the safety net and then kept falling with no end insight. His self titled album ‘Dalton Mills’ explores the stories of those who don’t register on the mainstream, who aren’t able to voice their pain and longing in a world where increasingly they are becoming ghosts.
In this podcast we get to listen to two acoustic songs from Dalton they are ‘Tornadoes’ and ‘Mountain Call’ from his majestic album. A labour of love for over a year and a half from taking the songs in lyric form and then with the help of friends, recorded in the back of a record store. The album was recorded just at the cusp of the pandemic, any later and we wouldn’t have such songs out in the world.
Coming from rural Kentucky from the small town of Middlesboro, (a city that’s built in a crater!). Dalton has seen his fair share of those who’ve been affected by drugs, mental health issues and those who’ve been abandoned by their families. Not one for happy songs, Dalton expresses more affinity for songs touched by darkness and damaged people, damaged people are often the most dangerous. They know how to make hell feel like home. Dalton follows in the footsteps of his musical heroes Townes Van Zant, Guy Clark, John Prine in writing and performing songs that matter and connects with an audience who want more than just manufactured pop songs.
Picking up a guitar as a high school student has led Dalton down this path of musical greatness. For the last 5 years Dalton’s been writing songs of a phenomenal calibre. One of the bleakest songs ever put to music is ‘Last Goodbye’ a tale of a bedridden soul, who has lost all hope and waiting to see if he will perish at the hands of his carer. It’s a song that will stay with you hours after you’ve heard it. Go listen to this sensational artist who brings words and stories from the darkest corners of humanity to life.
Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Dalton Mills. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Born in the USA but brought up in Denmark, J.Tex (Jens Einer Sørensen) grew up listening to Bluegrass music while other children were dancing to Abba. CloudwatcherUno sits down with J.Tex from his home in Copenhagen where we talk about his childhood, travelling to Tennessee as a teenager, his amazing tattoo’s, busking on the streets of Italy, driving trucks on the Faroe Islands and all the while honing his skills and his sound to produce a sumptuous album called ‘Neon Signs & Little White Lies’ from the Heptown Records label.
This is his seventh album and is simply the nest. The album was recorded in Lund, Sweden with the production skills of Tommy Tift. The album was recorded on the same analogue mixing board which produced the hits for ABBA. With this album J.Tex wanted to capture the sound of that live music experience to his audience. Recorded in the studio over three days the music truly captures the electrifying magic that is J.Tex. Jens describes how his songs grow and develop from practice sessions to live performances. Music is his job 24/7, 356 days a year. In this podcast we get to listen to ‘Way Down in The County’ and two acoustic tracks ‘I Told You So’ and ‘Broken Rose’.
J.Tex mixes Americana, Country, Bluegrass and Roots music and influenced by Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins. Jens music is a melting pot of sound, riffs and melodies that invoke an era of music that is far from the music that comes out of Nashville now. It connects with your soul, mind and body to make you smile and get up and dance.
Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring J.Tex. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.
The Spellemann (Norwegian Grammy) award winning Sweetheart have just released a new self titled album ‘Sweetheart’ released by the label Mother Likes It Records It’s a phenomenal achievement for this band and one that places them on the music map. Sweetheart are John-Arne Gundersen and Anne Mette Hårdnes and hail from Norway. In 2003/4 Sweetheart was a three piece collective and then more of a country rock band. After a 14 year absence in 2018 the band was reformed into a more melancholic sounding band that currently tugs at your heart strings that carries you along into a different universe full of longing and memories of what could have been.
The new self titled album ‘Sweetheart’ explores the sense of missing something or someone. The songs feel like poems brought to life by the intense ghostly vocals that lay open the human condition.
We get to hear the acoustic version of ‘Leaving for Stockholm’ which describes the true life experience of what it feels like when someone you love leaves to travel away from the family home. We also hear the acoustic track ‘Can We Make It Out Of Here Alive’ a song that could be an anthem for 2020. There’s also a favorite of mine ‘The Pines By The River’ that opens the podcast.
Being a musician was always a childhood dream for Anne Mette and one that she always wanted to follow through into adulthood. Meeting John-Arne has focused her energies with his in producing an album that channels her beautiful voice to full effect. The turning point for John-Arne was listening to the album ‘Heartbreaker’ from Ryan Adams.
Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Sweetheart. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and many other platforms.
Joshua Ray Walker has the voice that you find only once in a generation. Once you’ve listened to tracks such as ‘Loving County’ where he yodels his heart out and produces a spine chilling effect down your back. Not since Dwight Yoakum and Slim Whitman has there been an artist who can combine the craft of singing, yodelling and lyrics that hit you right between the eyes to such an effect.
Joshua’s music makes you want to think, cry and dance all at the same time. This is an artist who at his peak did 280 shows a year and only slowed down to release his first album ‘Wish You Were Here’. In the fall of 2019 he started his first Scandinavian where he discovered first hand the European love for all things country and western.
Growing up in East Dallas Joshua would spend his time with his grandfather and was inspired for his love for bluegrass, soul funk and afrobeat music. Joshua loves the diversity of where he lives and enjoys the melting pot of cultures especially tejano music that influenced him coming out of backyards and continues to influence his music.
Joshua tells the story behind ‘Fondly’ which was the first song he ever wrote. It was important for Joshua to have this song on his first album. The song was inspired by his love for his grandfather and the loss that he felt when he passed away. Without his grandfather teaching Joshua in his workshop and the many instruments that he could pick up as young boy we wouldn’t have the magic of the albums that we have now.
Joshua’s songs deal with subjects as diverse as underage sex workers, suicide, heartbreak and other intrinsic emotions that make the human condition. Joshua is inspired by those who feel downtrodden and who have fallen through the cracks of society. Its these characters that Joshua breathes life into through the genius of his music.
Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Joshua Ray Walker. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and many other platforms.