Tag Archives: mountain music

CloudwatcherUno Podcast S4 Ep 9 ~ Nick Shoulders

Nick Shoulders is the whistling, yodelling, guitar picking, mouth organ playing and bird calling superstar of the Ozark mountains. It was a privilege and a joy to spend time with my hero and get to talk about all the joys and happiness that is music as broad to not only me but to legions of fans across the world. Nick takes the sounds of yesteryear and melds them with the heavier rhythm of todays music.

‘Snakes and Waterfalls’ by Nick Shoulders

A saving grace for Nick in these Covid times has been connecting through the screen and connecting through the ones and zeros of the digital world. Playing country music has allowed Nick to connect with history in a real tangible way and a tradition of music which is larger than any musician and play ‘Grandpa Music’ and take what’s compelling about the music and make it his own. The lines between what is Folk Music and Country Music get blurred and the artifical barriers created by marketing teams of the music industry quickly dissolve into nothingness when you hear such songs as ‘Snakes and Waterfalls‘, ‘Black Star‘, ‘Rather Low‘, ‘Bound and Determined‘, and ‘Turn On The Dark‘.

‘Rather Low’ by Nick Shoulders for Western AF

Learning to warble from one set of grandparents, having a fiddle passed down to him from his other grandfather and having the wide open spaces to practice his vocal skills and fiddle playing has turned the young Nick Shoulders into a virtuoso instrumentalist. Moving to New Orleans Nick cut his album ‘Lonely Like Me with Mashed Potato Records and got his buddies to play the instrumental parts and the result is magnificent. One of the outstanding tracks on that album is a old Elvis Presley song ‘Black Star‘ a song that was a favourite of David Bowie and soon was a favourite of Nick’s as well.

‘Black Star’ by Nick Shoulders

In New Orleans Nick was a drummer for hire and played with Sabine McCalla and his metamorphosis to singer songwriter was complete with his album ‘Okay, Crowdad.’ The artwork for all the albums is doe by Nick himself as he is a painter and illustrator and these talents are further showcased in his new album ‘Home On The Rage‘. The blonde Mardi Gras haircut has now become synonymous with Nick’s musical persona as has his collaboration with fellow Ozarkian and family member in a distant way Willi Carlisle. Gems on VHS, Western AF and others have catapulted Nick into the public consciousness with their ‘Vidjas’ (Videos) that capture the essence of this musical genius.

‘Bound and Determined’ by Nick Shoulders for Gems On VHS

For our audio pleasure Nick Sings acoustically his warm up song ‘Irene Goodnight‘. Take a moment and just listen to a little slice of heaven.For the future Nick will be travelling and paying shows across the states and even across the Atlantic to England in the autumn.

Nick Shoulders from the podcast. Photo: CloudwatcherUno

Click below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Nick Shoulders. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

CloudwatcherUno Podcast S4 Ep4 ~ Willi Carlisle

Willi Carlisle is what the world wants, what the world is waiting for, he is the poet of the Ozark Mountains, the lyricist of Arkansas who has graced us with such songs as ‘Cheap Cocaine’, ‘The Cuckoo’ and ‘Stone County’ all of which you can find in this latest podcast with host CloudwatcherUno. If you were in any doubt to the talent of this folk singer then listen to his EP ‘Too Nice to Mean Much‘ and album ‘To Tell You the Truth‘ it will stir joy and happiness in even the most sceptical mind. There is no doubt that Willi is an artist that he belongs alongside the heroes of yesteryear.

Willi Carlisle ~ His music will touch your soul.

‘THE BEST AMERICANA ARTIST YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF’ ~ THE GUARDIAN

Willi is a musical poet, playwright and songwriter come down from the mountains to bring the music of the heavens to this world. His blend of old time music, banjo plucking, fiddle playing and accordion brings a southern sensibility to tunes that are timeless.

Willi Carlisle – Poet and Folk Singer

Following in the footsteps of Roscoe Holcomb, Janie Hunter, Ralph Stanley and Glenn Ohrlin. Willi has travelled the country, Canada and the UK to showcase his unique talent. A storyteller at heart he has gathered legion of fans by appearing on the coveted Western AF videos, this video channel has become a focal point for all those listeners who wonder where they can find true folk/country music.

The Grand Design by Willi Carlisle
Willi Carlisle connecting with audiences across the globe.

‘THE MAN’S ENERGY IS BLINDSIDING, HIS SONGWRITING IS TERRIFIC, HIS HEART IS BIG ON EVERYONE’ ~ WESTERN AF

‘Cheap Cocaine’ by Willi Carlisle for Western AF

In the podcast we learn about Willi’s love for being a Square Dance Caller and an auctioneer and being able to find his voice and express that through his music. We talk about what it means to be singing folk songs at punk venues, protest songs in response to the death of Michael Brown Jr, reinterpreting traditional music for a younger generation and the relationships between rural and urban communities.

‘Van Life’ by Willi Carlisle for Western AF
Willi Carlisle from the podcast. Photo: CloudwatcherUno

Click below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Willi Carlisle. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.

CloudwatcherUno Podcast S4 Ep1 ~ Darling West

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.

Mari and Tor Egil Kreken are Darling West.

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.

‘O Brother Where Art Thou’ (2000) Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

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.

‘Bulletproof’ from the Darling West’s Interpretations EP _ Video from their Friday Sessions series

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.

‘Gold Dust Woman’ performed by Darling West featuring Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra

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.

Darling West showcasing the best that Nordicana music has to offer to the listening world.

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.

Lockdown has brought Darling West the time they need to craft their songs and focus on their sound.

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.

Mari and Tor Egil from the podcast. Photo: CloudwatcherUno

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.

Darling West partners in music, life and storytelling.

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.