Hesta Prynn carries a torch for Kenan Bell

Hesta Prynn and Kenan Bell

Hesta Prynn and Kenan Bell

Hesta Prynn’s recommendation: “If you’re a dude between the ages of 11 and 40 you’ve probably heard Kenan Bell’s song Like This in between quarters while you’re playing NBA 2K10. If you’re me, you lived together at “Rancho La Tuna,” our frat house in LA. Kenan is a mix of two worlds – a literate, witty rapper in the old school tradition but with a tricky flow that is ultra modern and progressive. Like me, he’s a genre-blender who loves a big hook. He’s 6’5″ and stylish and calls himself a “bookworm with a ghetto blaster.” The ladies love him, but to me he kinda just feels like a twin brother. Go to his site and download 5 songs from his record Until the Future for free.”

MP3: Like This Pocket Rockets Remix by Kenan Bell

Hesta PrynnAbout our guest author, Hesta Prynn: Hesta’s hip hop career is quite the stunning Cinderella story. Hesta and her two Long Island gal pals formed Northern State for fun, but the band was able to attract some of the biggest rap names in the game to help on their records (Pete Rock, Questlove, and Ad-rock of the Besties to name a few) after the band’s first EP landed a glowing review in Rolling Stone. When Hesta went solo in 2008, she enlisted producer Chuck Brody (Wu-Tang Clan) to help create a new sound that she says is “…. ‘post-everything.’ It’s post-hipster, post-genre and post-pop.” (Listen to the mp3 for Can We Go Wrong below to get an idea). Hesta has a new EP out (also called Can We Go Wrong), which you can purchase here and is doing a series of shows with, you guessed it, Kenan Bell. Check her web site for the full tour details.

MP3: Can We Go Wrong by Hesta Prynn

Justin Jones recommends Otis Redding and Ray Charles

Justin Jones and Otis Redding

Justin Jones and Otis Redding

Justin Jones’ recommendation: “Ray Charles and Otis are the only singers I really truly admire. I can hear other singers and like it, but nobody touches Otis or Ray. When I’m on the road, I always listen to I Love You More Than Words Can Say. That one’s for me and my wife. It’s just perfect soul music. No bullshit. His singing is simultaneously effortless and strained. It’s amazing. And Dock of the Bay was my dad’s favorite song so that means a lot to me as well. The last time I saw him before his death we sang it together, me on guitar and him on harmonica.”

Justin Jones’ Otis Redding album pick: Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay

Justin JonesAbout our guest author, Justin Jones: If you live in the DC area and you’re a live music fan, then you most definitely have been to the area’s premiere venue, The 9:30 Club. The club and its co-owner Seth Hurwitz see a ton of great acts fly on and off of their stage, but when it came time for Seth to create a record label, he recruited Justin Jones to be the first act to record for his newly launched 930 Records. Give the self titled track from Jones’ new EP Little Fox a listen (MP3 below) and you’ll hear why Justin was given the honor of being the label’s first round draft pick. “You can imagine I’ve been exposed to more music than most,” Hurwitz says, “but once in a very blue moon, a new artist stops me dead in my tracks.” Jones has also caught a lot of attention with his live performances where has been seen opening for heavy weights like Loretta Lynn, Alejandro Escovedo and Levon Helm. Don’t miss the opportunity to see him open for Sheryl Crow in the coming weeks. Check Justin-Jones.com for the full tour schedule.

MP3: Little Fox by Justin Jones

Kasey Anderson carries a torch for Bob Dylan

Kasey Anderson and Bob Dylan

Kasey Anderson and Bob Dylan

Kasey Anderson’s recommendation: “I know that citing Bob Dylan as an influence is like citing Thomas Edison as ‘an influential inventor,’ but the fact of the matter is I spend an immense amount of time listening to, and thinking about, Bob Dylan’s work. There are other writers whose work I find inspirational and influential but Dylan is just wired differently than anyone else; he’s plugged in to a socket that most of us will never have access to.

When you’re talking about Dylan, it’s really easy to pull examples from that maddeningly prolific period from 1964 – 1966 where he churned out The Times They Are A-Changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde On Blonde – stop and think about that for a second; he released five of the 100 best records of all time in a span of a little over TWO YEARS – but, for me, Dylan’s greatest contribution to songwriting is not that thin, wild, mercury sound or those unbelievably vivid stream-of-consciousness explorations of society and self, but the way he drew from everyone and everything that came before him, synthesized all of it, and created the most unique lyrical voice (and, for that matter, the most unique singing voice) in music.”

New to Bob Dylan? Kasey suggests you start here: “As great as the aforementioned five records are, and as great as a handful of other records in Dylan’s catalogue are (Blood On the Tracks, Street Legal, and Oh, Mercy! come to mind), Love and Theft stands out as the record that exemplifies everything I love about Dylan. His singing is fantastic. Fantastic. Listen to the way he delivers a line and try to tell me Bob Dylan can’t sing. He may be the best rock ‘n’ roll singer alive. The band, as always, is phenomenal; there’s so much going on musically but it’s cohesive and limber and brilliant. And then, Dylan’s writing. He steals from everyone – old blues singers, ancient poetry, masterpieces of literature, the Bible – but he does so in such a fashion that it doesn’t seem like theft (though it’s right there in the album’s title), but homage. That’s what makes Dylan great. He’s fooling all of us without even trying. People spend their entire lives excavating Dylan’s lyrics for some insight in to who Bob Dylan is, but it’s all right there. Dylan is the culmination of everything and everyone that came before, and he has influenced everyone and everything that has come along since. There are some phenomenal young songwriters out there to discover (Joe Pug and Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem chief among them), but you don’t have to listen for longer than five seconds before you hear Dylan’s influence. For that reason, and a million others, it would be disingenuous to write about my influences without writing about Bob Dylan. There’s Dylan, then there’s everyone else. That’s how it’s always going to be.”

Kasey AndersonAbout our guest author, Kasey Anderson: Click over to Kasey Anderson’s press page and you’ll find the likes of Paste Magazine and Oregon Music News calling him ‘a masterful storyteller’ and ‘a litereate workingman’s poet.’ Anderson grew up in North Portland and Vancouver and he recorded his latest record, Nowhere Nights in that area. The album features I Was a Photograph (audio below), the tale of Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller and his lonely road back from Iraq. You’ll hear hints of Springsteen and Earle, and of course, Dylan in Anderson’s delivery, but all through Anderson’s North Western filter. Anderson’s tour page will tell you where you can catch this rising singer/songwriter live.

MP3: I Was a Photograph by Kasey Anderson

Matt Bishop of Hey Marseilles carries a torch for Damien Jurado

Matt Bishop of Hey Marseilles and Damien Jurado

Matt Bishop and Damien Jurado

Matt Bishop’s recommendation: “One of the first seminal moments of my development as a songwriter occurred while watching Damien Jurado on public access television while I was still in high school in suburban Seattle. My parents had just bought basic cable and I was spending a solitary Friday evening flipping through the variety of undiscovered channels when I caught Damien and his guitarist, Eric Fisher, doing an in-studio on UWTV. As I watched his songs unfold for the first time, I was entranced by his ability to use pretty simple chord structures as a foundation to highlight the strength of his melodies and evocative lyricism. I spent the rest of that evening writing and trying to recreate that formula for myself, and a couple days later, I bought Rehearsals for Departure, fell in love song by song, and never looked back as a Damien fan. He’s evolved and experimented since that release—he’s well-known as a prolific writer so he’s had plenty of records since to demonstrate that trajectory—but each album he’s put out has spoken pretty powerfully to me. Perhaps it’s the romanticism of first love, but I’m pretty confident in saying he’s one of the best songwriters of today.”

New to Damien Jurado ? Matt suggests you start here: “His last two albums—Caught in the Trees and Saint Bartlett—are a couple of my favorites, but I’d recommend starting with Rehearsals for Departure, if only to experience how sorrow can be consistently articulated in such different ways. Winning tracks: Ohio, Curbside, Honey Baby, and a number of others.”

MP3: Paperwings by Damien Jurado

Matt BishopAbout our guest author, Matt Bishop: Matt is the lead singer and guitar player for Hey Marseilles, the Seattle based 7 piece ensemble that has been aptly labeled as the ‘Lil’ Decemberists’ by Seattle Weekly. The band’s 2008 release To Travels & Trunks caught the attention of Sound Magazine as they named them one of the “Top 10 Bands to Watch for 2008.” The band most recently re-mastered and re-released their rookie record, performed at Bumbershoot and landed a spot on the Starbucks Sweethearts compilation. Be sure to check their website for news and tour dates.

MP3: Rio by Hey Marseilles