Staff Picks: Music Maker Artists’ 2022 Releases

Tim's Pick: Shelton Powe's "Shake 'Em on Down"

We recorded this song in our Music Maker Studio with dozens of Freeman Vines guitars hanging from the ceiling.

I handed Shelton the only acoustic-style guitar that Freeman had recently made. The guitar issued haunting overtones, not just buzzes, but sounds from within the wood. Shelton embraced the moment and recorded this beautiful song. When I told Mr. Vines about it, he said it was the spirit in wood that we heard, the wood is alive, and that Hanging Tree wood spirit was talking.

Shake 'Em on Down
Denise's Pick: Hermon Hitson's "Let the Gods Sing"

Hermon Hitson’s command to “Let the God’s Sing” beckons us from another realm. It’s a time and place that is groovier, less black and white, more complex, and a little unnerving. Contemporary yet psychedelic, altogether far out!

Let the Gods Sing
Nick's Pick: Johnny Ray Daniels' "I Shall Not Be Moved"

I’ve been obsessed with his version of this song since I saw him perform it on the virtual Freight Train Blues in 2021. I’m most familiar with the song as a Charley Patton recording from the 1920s and it’s amazing to hear him bring such groove, bounce, and positivity to it. I got to talk to him on a phone a few times and he is the same way, engaging and welcoming. I played that Livestream over and over last year when I needed a lift. Johnny Ray’s been singing forever–first rock and roll then sacred soul–but this is his album debut, which makes it even more special.

I Shall Not Be Moved
Taylor's Pick: Sugar Harp's "My Truck, My Dog, My Wife"

I like “My Truck My Dog My Wife” because of its smooth, groovy guitar and bass, which seem to imitate the steady sad trudge of a man who has lost everything. Sugar Harp’s voice has so much passion and the simple lyrics exemplify exactly what one imagines when one thinks of the Blues. A true classic!

My Truck, My Dog, My Wife
Gabi's Pick: Albert Smith's "Down in Burningham"

Albert Smith sings “Come on Down to Burningham,” is such a genius play on words that I’m surprised I haven’t heard it before. The upbeat tone, piano playing, and clever but bleak lyrics make me wonder what inspired the song about the jumping man – I love the dissonance between the two. Though this album was recorded in the 90s in Albert’s living room, the boogie-woogie style transports you to an earlier time.

Down in Burningham
Ardie's Pick: Beverly "Guitar" Watkins' "Red Mama Blues"

This was Bev in HER element singing a song about HER guitar, playing with HER band and just being her badass self … it was magic.

Red Mama Blues
Brittany's Pick: DMZ's "Lord Hold My Hand"
Lord Hold My Hand
Tess' Pick: Little Freddie King's "Two Wheel Cadillac"

As someone who loves riding my bicycle, this song captures perfectly that carefree feeling of cruising down familiar streets.

Two Wheel Cadillac