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Tony Ramey grew up in West Virginia on Bluegrass and Bill Withers; found Willie, Waylon, Cash, and Kristoﬀerson at eleven, who compelled him to write songs; then heard Steve Earle who made him move to Guitar Town to hone his craft; and he left for Texas when the road called him out again...
Somewhere in the middle of all that he acquired a Masters, taught at a university while working on his PhD, and garnered Gold and Platinum Records as a songwriter in Nashville. Currently he tours the US and Texas, where he has been named 2016's Independent Artist of the Year by the Texas Country Music Association.
With the exception of his release Soul Survivor, featuring a duet with the iconic Willie Nelson (also a new fan of his music), Tony Ramey has not caught much press. Yet, he is still grabbing the attention of industry people, and growing his audience by leaps and bounds because of his undeniable prowess as a singer/ songwriter, and his passion for playing live. Ramey has spent most of his music career flying below the media radar, refusing to don make-up and perform the dog and pony show for the camera. Not a fan of glitz and glamour, Tony prefers the troubadour life-style, and the solace of his writer's getaway between shows where he says he can "be alone with nature, his thoughts, and the eternal spring of the Art Spirit."
It's not uncommon for artists of Ramey's ilk to find a low profile as a result of an obsessive pursuit of the next song, next town, next project, or the next artistic endeavor, forsaking photo ops and publicity driven functions…So following the bohemian path that most true artists naturally follow, Tony occupies an awkward middle ground in terms of his recognition. His name rings a bell outside his touring routes because he is a giant in terms of his craft. Most listeners understand the power of his gift only upon experiencing it first hand--at a show or by hearing one of his records. Industry icons like Willie Nelson and George Strait know his name well because of his status as a poet in the purest sense of the word.
Ramey admits that his current project Spirit of Hank and the Heart of James Dean came at a strange time. He says of contemporary music and the state of the industry, "We live in an age when the album is obsolete, the song is incidental to the artist's brand, and artists seem only as popular as their pockets are deep. But I still make music the way I want to make it. There are awesome opportunities out there for Indie's these days--Kickstarter, crowd funding, Indy Labels, etc.--so all is not lost in big business; we just have to work a little harder for a little less. Nobody told me this life would be easy, and I don't mind the sweat." With songs like "The Spirit of Hank and the Heart of James Dean," “This Ain’t No Country,” ”Ramblers,” "Pocatalico," "Almost Had Me There," “Ain’t Gettin’ Anywhere," "Lonely Heart," and "Good Kinda Crazy," Ramey’s next album is chalk full of powerhouse songs that will continue to turn heads and wow audiences everywhere.
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Growing up in Sweden her music has always had a special tint of her Scandinavian heritage, making her a favorite among music lovers, but her 16 month, and 37 state long tour, through the USA (in an RV) has moved her music closer to the Americana tradition. The adventure on the road spurred a lot of emotions, both those of triumph and joy, but also those of self doubt and defeat – all of which found their way into the songs of her 2015 album ”Big Sky Country”.
Living like a musical nomad, moving from place to place, slowly but steadily building her audience through her heartfelt and personal performances she got to experience the USA in a way few people do. The people she met opened their homes and hearts to her and some of them even made it into her songs. But the new album is not a diary from her tour, it’s more of a storybook of emotions, new and old in which everyone can find their own place.
Sofia’s debut album Blue Moon was released in 2005 to much critical acclaim followed by Street of Dreams in 2007 which features a duet with indie pop icon Bernard Butler from British band Suede, released on her then newly formed record label Makaki Music. Continuing a steady pace of releasing albums Sofia released her album Jonestown, named after the tragic 1978 event in Jonestown, Gyuana, 2008, and was the first Swedish female artist to play the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, that same year.
“It’s not often that an album takes your breath away, and I hate to sound hyperbolic, but “Florida” actually has several “Oh my God!” moments of sheer beauty.” – CD Baby
about Sofia Talvik’s 2010 release Florida, and album inspired by spending a few hot summer months in Florida in 2009.
Sofia who toured the US several times from her first success at the Lollapalooza festival in 2008 has been invited to officially showcase at SxSW 3 years as well as to The Folk Alliance International Conference in 2012, completed a 16 month long tour of the US promoting her 5th release The Owls Are Not What They Seem. The tour took her through 37 states and she did over 250 concerts. She’s been noted in media all over the the world for her impeccable live performances and captivating stage presence. In October 2013 she released her album Drivin’ & Dreaming LIVE an album with live recordings from her U.S tour.
In March 2014 Sofia Talvik released the EP “FOLK” – a six track special. A hauntingly beautiful EP of old Swedish folk songs in a new modern presentation.
“Folk is as short as it is blissful. It gracefully bows to tradition. Sofia Talvik captivates the listeners with the soul and emotions of these folk songs. The Swede is one of those singer-songwriters who turns everything she touches into gold.” – Lie In The Sound
April 2015 Sofia’s 6th studio album “Big Sky Country” was released. A storybook of adventures and hardships, about sometimes doubting yourself but also finding strength within yourself. 10 original songs written on the road as well as in the contemplation after, beautifully packaged in a simple yet powerful production. “Big Sky Country” also contains a cover of “Starwalker” by Buffy Sainte-Marie. The album is being distributed in the USA and Canada by ILS/Caroline/Universal. The album was appointed 4th best americana album of the year by U.K newspaper The Telepgraph.
After having continued her tradition of releasing an original Christmas song, every year for over 10 years, Sofia released her Christmas album “When Winter Comes” in 2017. The album reached no 5 on Folk Radio Charts in the USA, and Sofia was the 3rd most played folk artist of the month of December.
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In Austin, Texas—a town overflowing with gifted singer/songwriters and guitar players—Christine Albert & Chris Gage have a long track record of making beautiful music together, although both musicians' individual pedigrees are far more extensive. Over the course of six duet albums, the duo has demonstrated that disparate backgrounds do not preclude musical soul mates from finding one another.
The Houston Press noted, “From George Jones and Tammy Wynette to Richard and Linda Thompson, male-female duets are one of popular music's most delightful permutations. And the Austin-based duo of Christine Albert and Chris Gage easily slot right in with the best.”
Onstage, Albert's slender, dark beauty contrasts strikingly with Gage's craggy good looks and how gracefully they complement each other is easily apparent. In 2003 Albert and Gage released their first live recording, Albert and Gage at Anderson Fair. Dirty Linen commented that the set, which is reflective of their typical live performances, had “energy, humor, really fine duet singing, strong leads, original harmonies, a strong sense of partnership, personality, and musicality” and Sing Out! called it “a cohesive and exciting exploration of the roots of popular, mostly American, music”.
Gage is a journeyman musician and South Dakota native who literally began touring in a station wagon at age 15. In the mid-Seventies and early Eighties he led the popular Midwestern country-swing Red Willow Band, whose reunion shows still draw thousands of devoted fans. From there he graduated to an eight-year tenure on piano with guitar virtuoso and country star Roy Clark, which included appearances on Hee Haw, The Tonight Show and The Grand Ole Opry. After moving to Austin in 1991, Gage began commuting to San Antonio to take the reins as a musical director for the Fiesta Texas theme park.
But it was during (and following) his next incarnation, as bandleader for West Texas alt.-country singer/songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore, that he began to carve out his own place in the Austin scene as an in-demand session player, accompanist and producer. It was with Gilmore that Christine first heard Chris play and in 1997 Albert & Gage was formed. The duo later toured as an opening act for Gilmore and as members of his ensemble. In 2011, the Academy of Texas Music proclaimed Mr. Gage "Musician of the Year" and in 2015 he was inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Christine cut her musical teeth in northern New Mexico after moving west from her childhood home in upstate New York. Along with old friend and fellow New Mexico chanteuse Eliza Gilkyson (whom she also cites as an early influence and inspiration), Albert relocated to Austin in 1982 and began to distinguish herself as a singer-songwriter in a town where the bar for such artists is set very high indeed.
Christine Albert's French grandmother lived in Paris and her mother was born in Switzerland, so perhaps it's inevitable that the occasional Edith Piaf song migrates into her sets of original material and carefully chosen covers. She has recorded a series of acclaimed albums of lovely Franco-Lone Star fusion - Texafrance (1992), Texafrance-Encore (2003) and Paris, Texafrance (2008).
Christine's latest release, "Everything's Beautiful Now" is an exploration into the richness of loss, and has been well received by critics and fans alike. Everything's Beautiful Now were the last words spoken to Christine by her mother-in-law Darleen as she was making the final move towards the other side. Originals mix lovingly with soulful covers of Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne and Texas faves Shake Russell and Dana Cooper.
Christine released several other solo albums during the years before she met Chris, and had established a solid name on the Texas scene. She was voted Female Vocalist of the Year in the Kerrville Music Awards poll and has appeared on Austin City Limits. A longtime community activist, Albert is also the Founder of “Swan Songs”, a non-profit that fulfills musical last wishes by organizing private concerts for individuals with a terminal illness. Ms. Albert served for 10 years on the National Board of Trustees of The Recording Academy, the organization that presents the GRAMMY Awards, eventually rising to the position of Chairman of the Board.
With the exception of 1997’s Jumpin’ Tracks, Albert and Gage’s albums have been recorded at their own MoonHouse Studio (a commercial facility in south Austin) and released on the artist owned MoonHouse Records. Chris maintains a busy studio schedule and over the years they have expanded MoonHouse Records with Gage productions by Cowboy Johnson, Michael Austin and Abi Tapia. Gage also plays lead guitar in Texas legend Jerry Jeff Walker’s band and is co-produced Walker’s latest CD, It’s About Time.
The duo’s most recent CD, Dakota Lullaby (2009), features twelve songs by an unheralded songwriter from South Dakota – Tom Peterson. The CD landed in the top 40 on the Americana Music chart and the Top 20 on the Euro-Americana and US Folk-DJ charts. FAME described it as “a pure, unadulterated labor of love…Albert & Gage, obviously on the same page at all times, blend voices effortlessly, fluctuating between smooth country and western swing like they were born to it. Beneath those voices Gage placed a bang-up group of sidemen most musicians would kill for and handled production like the pro he has become.”
Christine Albert and Chris Gage are well respected, seasoned music business veterans, but the joy they experience making music together is fresh and infectious. “They can rock, boogie, swing, trot down country roads and stride down sophisticated boulevards and make it all sound as it should: like parts of a unified whole rather than a mishmash of different styles. Albert and Gage have global class, musicality and charm.” (Houston Press) You can’t ask for more than that.