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TJ’s Summer Roundup 2023 with Rodney Rice, Carter Sampson, Del Barber, Mike Miz and Selwyn Birchwood

By Brian Rock

Just in time for Summer, the Beatles classic, “Here Comes The Sun” has just topped one billion streams on Spotify. As the temperatures rise, here are a few rising new artists looking to claim their place in the sun as well.



Rodney Rice Rodney Rice

Rodney Rice is a revelation. The album is a kaleidoscopic combination of country, blues, rock, soul, folk, dixieland, cajun, and ragtime. Like Hayes Carll on magic mushrooms, Rice is a technicolor triumph with a seemingly endless reservoir of musical influences. “Every Passing Day,” opens with outlaw country. “Get To Where I’m Going,” is lively folk rock. “Little Pieces,” adds sweet Memphis soul. “Nothing To Lose” adds some spicy Cajun rhythms. “Rabbit Ears Motel,” is pure sawdust on the dancefloor honky-tonk. “River Roll,” is a tender country ballad. “Set ‘em Up,” sets the tone with barrelhouse piano and dixieland horns.” Rice rocks out on the closing number, “Wonder Where I Come From.” Like the facets of a diamond, each song shines in its own rite.

Fun in the sun single: “How You Told Me So”

Ragtime piano and piedmont blues rhythms turn the tables on a nagging harpy. The rollicking rhythms completely distract from the hardship of the lyrics. Like “Same Old Road” by Travis Linville, and “Oh, Love!” by The Far West, this song can’t help but put a smile on your face.

rodneyrice.com  |  fb  |  buy



Carter Sampson Gold

Country up and comer, Carter Sampson is stunning on her latest release. Part Tammy Wynette and part Kacey Musgraves, Sampson is the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary country music. A gifted storyteller with a compelling voice, Sampson gives a fresh take on the standard love, loss and life on the road themes that populate the genre. Her backing band and producer do a masterful job of seamlessly weaving together old and new styles. A healthy dose of steel guitar and fiddle are balanced with Hammond organ and subtle, cosmic cowboy synth effects. From the anthemic “Gold” and “Can’t stop me now” to the traditional “Yippie Yi Yo” and “Fingers to The Bone” to the tender “Drunk Text” and “Today is Mine” to the brooding “Black Blizzard” and “Pray and Scream;” Sampson and company deliver a nugget of sophisticated modern Country music that is worthy of the album’s title.

Fun in the sun single: “Can’t Stop Me Now”

Steel guitar and cosmic cowboy effects combine to create a manifesto of self-confident self-assertion. Playing by her own rules Samson declares, “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do.”

cartersampson.net  |  fb  |  buy



Del Barber Almanac

The spirit of Gordon Lightfoot lives on in fellow Canadian, Del Barber. Lilting rhythms and lyrical landscapes abound as Barber sings odes to friends, lovers, and the memories that live on after they part. Songs like, “Something To Say,” “Even God Almighty,” “Jared,” and “Me and Jim” are contemplative, country/folk fusions that explore the ins and outs of relationships. Adding mandolin, organ and electric guitar; Barber kicks it up a gear on the folk/rock anthems, “One Good Year,” “Flash In The Pan,” “Spade,” and “On My Way Out The Door.” Ranging from acoustic to electric and introspective to ebullient, Barber creates music as diverse as the weather forecasts of a dozen farmer’s almanacs.

Fun in the sun single: “Still Got You”

The perfect feel-good song to enjoy when you’re sipping your favorite summer beverage on the back deck. Gently rolling folk rhythms play out on acoustic guitar as Barber celebrates the simple joys of life like pruning tomatoes and watching the stars on a moonless night. Resonator guitar and clapboard percussion join in as the song picks up the pace as news from the world outside disturbs the peace. But whatever sorrows the newsman brings, Barber is content that he’s “still got you.”

delbarber.com  |  fb  |  buy


Alt Rock

Mike Miz Only Human

Part rocker, part Americana crooner, Mike Miz explores the duality of human nature on his debut. When he rocks out on tracks like “Hand of the Sculptor,” “Tail Lights,” “Only Human,” and “Six Ways from Sunday,” he evokes the energy and attitude of The Black Crowes and early Bon Jovi. The album’s flip side shows off Miz’s softer side. Channeling the tender introspection of Justin Townes Earle, he incorporates acoustic guitar, piano, and pedal steel to contemplate loss, loneliness, and life. His baritone voice expresses both the energy of the rockers and the pathos of the ballads with equal ease. Though “Only Human,” Miz’s songwriting skills and vocal delivery make him much more than only a singer.

Fun in the sun single: “Hand of the Sculptor”

Capturing the feel and energy of “Trouble Came Early” by Band of Heathens, this song rocks on all cylinders. With Gospel flourishes, Miz reminds us that life’s hardships aren’t meant to break us, but to strengthen our best parts and wear away our weaknesses, like a sculptor cutting stone.

mikemizmusic.com  |  fb  |  buy



Selwyn Birchwood Exorcist

Blues can be a demon, and if you have the blues; you better call someone to get it out. Selwyn Birchwood is more than qualified for the job. Large and in charge, Birchwood delivers good ole Chicago style blues like a musical communion. Slide guitar, saxophone, and barrelhouse piano help raise spirits as Birchwood confronts the demons of bad luck, bad love, and bad decisions.  A brilliant guitarist with a booming voice that’s way larger than his slender frame, he is a true disciple of blues guitar legends like Albert Collins, Buddy Guy and Tinsley Ellis. After dealing with the heartaches of “Horns Below Her Halo,” “Hopeless Romantic,” and the swampy, voodoo flavored, “Exorcist:” Birchwood asserts himself and his independence on “Underdog,” “Done Cyrin’,” and the jazzy jump blues of “Call Me What You Want.” He even manages to find some fun in the headline-news inspired, “Florida Man.” From beginning to end, Selwyn Birchwood’s “Exorcist” has the power to banish whatever ails you.

Fun in the sun single: “Lazarus”

Gospel singers, Hammond organ, and a dynamic horn section recount Jesus’ miraculous healing of Lazarus with enough energy to raise even the most “dead-tired” of spirits.

selwynbirchwood.com  |  fb  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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