#FreeFriday: American Beauty

It’s #FreeFriday, y’all! Here’s a little giveaway to end the week.

For a chance to win today’s featured album, all you gotta do is read this post, then share it on social media at least one of these ways:

  • Share the link on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #FreeFriday
  • Retweet one of the #FreeFriday tweets we send via @murfiemusic
  • Share today’s #FreeFriday Facebook post

Be sure your social settings are on public so we can see your post! Enough details. Now on to the album we’re giving away…

Grateful Dead American BeautyAmerican Beauty (Grateful Dead, 1970)

The Grateful Dead are one of those bands. Some people love ’em and some hate ’em. I feel you need to hear the right song of theirs at the right time to get hooked. And once you’re hooked…it’s for life. American Beauty is The Dead’s sixth album, and possibly one of the band’s most popular. Stylistically it’s similar to Workingman’s Dead, which they released just a few months prior in 1970, because it channels the same elements of country, rock, and folk.

The first chords on track 1, “Box of Rain”, stir up images of driving down Highway 1 on a sunny day with the windows down. It’s a feel-good tune that sets the tone of the entire album, with plenty of acoustic guitar and easygoing harmonies. Track 2 is a fantastic song about an outlaw called “Friend of the Devil”, with the lyrics being the strongpoint, in my opinion. “I set out running but I take my time / A friend of the devil is a friend of mine / If I get home before daylight / I just might get some sleep tonight.”

Other stand-out tracks to me are “Ripple”, a song with a storytelling layout, “Brokedown Palace”, a slow country anthem, and “Till the Morning Comes”, a ’70s rock gem. “Attics of My Life” is another great one that’s a testament to The Dead’s surreal topics. The lyrics are amazing. “In the secret space of dreams, where I dreaming lay amazed / When the secrets all are told, and the petals all unfold.” The album closes out with the upbeat song “Truckin'” which boasts the very popular Dead lyric “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

American Beauty is a must-have in your collection if you love ’70s rock, and it’s a great place to start if you’re not familiar with the Grateful Dead yet. Time to get on the bus, man! ;)

Share this post in one of the ways listed above, and we’ll let you know if you won the album on Saturday! There can be more than one winner! Best of luck. :)

Elephant Revival Interview

Elephant Revival is a band that blends folk music with bluegrass, celtic music, psychedelic country, indie rock, and occasionally, even reggae and hip hop. Even with so many different sounds in their songs, they retain a style that is distinctly their own—mostly because of their wonderful vocals and environmentally conscious themes. Since 2006, they’ve been building a solid fan base around the country, and are about to embark on a Midwest tour. On September 28th, they’ll be playing at the Majestic Theatre in Madison, just a skip away from Murfie HQ—so we thought the time was perfect to learn a bit more about them! Here’s a Q&A I had with Dan Rodriguez (acoustic guitar, electric banjo/guitar, vocals). We talked via phone from his friend’s studio in Boulder, Colorado:

K: I see you guys are from Nederland, Colorado!

D: Yeah. We started there, and we all lived there for a handful of years. Just recently Sage moved back to Kansas to the family farm. So we’re not all living in Nederland now, but we still consider ourselves a Nederland band.

K: I actually visited that place for the first time last year for Nedfest—have you gone to that?

D: I’ve gone to it many times, and performed there a few times too. It’s a hometown fest!

K: Nederland is a funky little town, there’s mountains and taverns and flannel—I love it. And the people are really nice. One thing I like about your band is it’s a co-ed band, a mix of guys and girls. Have you found that it brings a certain energy to the band?

D: I certainly couldn’t imagine it any differently. The men and the women—the kind of alchemy that happens—it’s just been such an integral part of everything. It’s just a big part of our sound and part of the vibe.

K: So you all are coming to Madison on September 28th —do you have shows in between then?

D: Yeah, we do. We have one in Minneapolis, at the Cedar Cultural Center, and then we play Boats and Bluegrass Festival in Winona, Minnesota, then we play Ames, Iowa, and then we’re in Madison.

K: Have you had some good luck touring in the past? Do you like to travel around for shows?

Continue reading Elephant Revival Interview

Interview with Charlie Parr

To celebrate #ThrowbackThursday, we went into the Murfie Podcast vault to bring you this transcription of our interview with Charlie Parr, recorded on April 9th, 2012! You can listen to the full audio podcast here.

Charlie Parr_MG_7107

INTRO: This is Kayla here, with your Murfie podcast. This week, we’re featuring the one and only Charlie Parr. Now, he’s humble about this, but he’s widely known for his work in gospel and bluegrass music. Recently, he gave me a call to tell me about his new album, Keep Your Hands on the Plow.

[MUSIC: “Gospel Plow” by Charlie Parr]

Kayla: So Charlie, where are you calling from?

Charlie: I’m actually calling from my mom’s house, in Austin, Minnesota. I came down with the kids for the holiday weekend, for Easter, and we’re still here and gonna get up in the morning and head back to Duluth.

Kayla: Ahhh. So, are you from Minnesota originally?

Charlie: Yeah, I’m actually from Austin, Minnesota. I grew up here, left in the mid-‘80s, I think it was, stopped in Minneapolis for a few years, and then headed for Duluth.

Charlie Parr 1922Kayla: Mmhmm. I saw that you spent some time in Australia, touring because of the success of your album, 1922—so how was that?

Charlie: Yeah, oh, it was good. I’ve been over there now…five times? I’ll head back over again in probably January of 2013, for another run. It’s great, I love touring in Australia. It’s kind of like touring in the Midwest—it’s relatively easy, and everybody’s really friendly…really nice.

Kayla: So, your success there…I know it started with the song “1922”, and I heard there’s kind of an interesting story behind that, about your father?

Charlie: Oh, about the song, yeah. I mean, I didn’t really start writin’ songs until my dad had died in ’95, and so that was one of the first ones I ever wrote. It’s named for the year he was born, in 1922, and it’s primarily just a bunch of little snippets of things that he had talked about, or told me about. He had all kinds of adventures when he was a kid, when he was a teenager, early teens, y’know. The Depression was on and they were livin’ in a large family—he had, I think, eighteen brothers and sisters, or seventeen brothers and sisters. And he took off, and went out and hopped freight trains, and done stuff like that for quite awhile, and had a bunch of stories to tell me when I was a kid, and I always remembered all of ‘em. So when I started tryin’ to write songs, some of the first songs I tried to write were about him, and those stories, and I think it was a way to grieve, y’know. I think it still is, ‘cause a lot of the songs I’m still writing to this day have touches of all the things that I kinda learned from him. He was a gigantic influence on me in a lot of ways. He was a good father, he was quite a mentor.

Kayla: Mmhmm. And musically, too, has he had any influence on you?

Charlie: He did, when I was a kid. Y’know, his record collection is my record collection now. He listened to old country western music and old folk music, and blues, and acoustic music. And when I was a kid, that’s what I listened to, ‘cause that’s what played all the time in the house. And he bought me my first guitar when I was seven years old. He traded a perfectly good boat motor in on this guitar, and I’d better learn how to play it, ‘cause that was a really good trolling motor, as opposed to the other motor he had, which wasn’t as good. But, yeah, so I mean, I kind of owe it all to him.

137842-largeKayla: I see that on your recent album, Keep Your Hands on the Plow, Emily Parr lent her talents on there for some vocals and tambourine—is that your wife?

Charlie: That’s my wife, yeah, she’s the other person I kinda owe it all to. It’s always nice when she gets to sing a little bit with me, and we planned this whole record out kind of together…songs that we both like, y’know, older songs…it’s some gospel songs, and some traditional songs, and even a chain gang song on there. It was really nice, gettin’ to record with her. Unfortunately, we don’t get to perform much together because, y’know, she’s got a job and works quite a bit.

Kayla: She’s got a great voice—does she have a history with music or singing?

Charlie: Oh, yeah, I mean she’s done this kind of stuff all of her life. She went to college and had a degree in music and theater, so she’s always been interested in music. And she plays the flute, and she’s played in symphony-type situations quite a bit. I’m untrained myself, so we can’t really play music together because I don’t have a clue what’s going on and it’s frustrating for her, I think.

Kayla: [Laughs] So you’re mostly self-taught then?

Charlie: I’m all self-taught, yeah. I just learned from listening to old records of my dad’s, tryin’ to pick out what they were doin’. And I’m still tryin’ to learn—I don’t think it ever stops…which is good, y’know, it keeps you interested. And sometimes it’s frustrating, and you feel like there’s gotta be a quicker way, but in a way, I think that’s maybe not a good way to think about it, because the way I took did me a lot of good, I think, even though it was longer.

Kayla: So, your new album was recorded in a church—how was that? Was it different than your other recordings, or have you done that before?

Charlie: I’ve done a few things in a church, once in awhile. It was decommissioned some time ago, and it’s now a performance space and recording studio in Duluth—the Sacred Heart. And it’s pretty amazing, I mean when you walk in, it’s a church, it’s a huge sanctuary, so you get that kind of church-y sound, y’know—it’s got a nine-second reverb time in the sanctuary. So it’s a pretty incredible place to just…be, and perform, much less record in. So it was really nice, and it is different…I usually record wherever I feel comfortable. We’ve recorded in garages and storefronts and bar basements, and wherever it feels right, y’know. So, it felt good…and we had a really nice afternoon, and pretty much got the whole thing done in an afternoon and a little bit the day before, when I came in and did a couple solo things.

Kayla: So, this album was released in 2011, and—I love it by the way—so, what have you got planned for this year?

Charlie: This year, I’m starting to record the next record which will be kind of more back to my own original material, and I’m probably gonna record it in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, at a friend of mine’s house down there. And it’s probably not gonna be out until early in ’13. I’m doing a lot of touring before then, so I don’t know if I’m gonna get around to recording it until sometime this summer. But I’m heading out for Ireland here at the end of this month, and then I’ve got shows all through the summer, and might be heading back to Europe in the fall, and then Australia in the early part of next year. But the new record, the next one comin’ up, it’s gonna be called Barnswallow. And it’s probably gonna be more of the same that I usually do, my own kind of songs, harmonica player and a washboard player, maybe talk Emily into comin’ down and singin’ a couple of songs…we’ll see what happens, I guess.

Kayla: Well, definitely keep us posted about that! We’ll have that to look forward to. And good luck with touring, too! It looks like you’re gonna be pretty busy.

Charlie: Yeah, it’s been good though—I’ve been really lucky. Thank you very much.

Kayla: Yeah—thank you!

OUTRO: And that was Charlie Parr. You can find him at charlieparr.com, and the album Keep Your Hands on the Plow is available now. Thanks for listening, and enjoy this clip of “Gospel Plow”.

[MUSIC: “Gospel Plow” by Charlie Parr]

Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review


 Monday 5/5 

shinsOn Twitter: @bradleege won a copy of Chutes too Narrow by The Shins in our first #FreeFriday giveaway!

On the Blog: Ally reviewed three of her favorite folk albums (Let’s Be Still by The Head and The Heart, Indigo Girls by Indigo Girls, and Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez) in Staff Picks: Ally’s Folk Picks.

On Twitter: We responded to a Forbes article called “Taking The Collecting Out Of Music“, letting them know that the spirit of the music collector is alive and well at Murfie.

In the Press: AudioStream wrote an article about us called “Murfie: A New Home for Your CDs in the Cloud“.


 Tuesday 5/6 

377182-largeIn the marketplace: 5 brand new album releases by Atmosphere, Lily Allen, Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLachlan and The Horrors were added to the Murfie marketplace.

On Twitter: We congratulated Musaic for the success of their Kickstarter campaign and expressed our excitement for being a streaming partner!


 Wednesday 5/7 

– On the Blog: Ally gave us our weekly dose of music history in This Week in Music HIstory (May 7th-13th).



 Thursday 5/8 

tbt– On Twitter: Throwback Thursday! Out #tbt tweet included an article and a picture of Matt and Preston from 2011, back when Murfie had “a couple hundred” members.

– In the Press: AV Specialists posted our guest article, called How Does Murfie Work? A Murfie Employee Explains. The post includes a special offer!


 Friday 5/9 

mouse– On the Blog: Andrew posted our #FreeFriday giveaway: The Mouse and the Mask by DANGERDOOM. You still have a chance to win if you retweet us or share our Facebook post!

– On Twitter: We got a shout-out all the way from Australia! The locals love us! :-)


Saturday 5/10

– On the Blog: Ally told us about some Mom-Approved Modern Music for Mother’s Day.


 

Staff Picks: Ally’s Folk Picks

Up until recently, I definitely did not consider myself a fan of folk music—I barely could name a folk artist, and never thought to add folk music to my listening rotation. In the last few months, however, I’ve become hooked on folk as a new soundtrack to car rides, homework sessions, and everything in between. Here are a few of my newfound favorites.

The Head and the Heart - Let's Be StillThe Head and the Heart
Let’s Be Still

The Head and the Heart’s sophomore album has solved the problems of the bands overly fast-paced debut, slowing it down to allow for more thoughtful songwriting and lusher instrumentation. The melodies here are beautiful and complex, incorporating violin, banjo, piano and guitars into a smooth and mellow sound. Combined with singers Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell’s vocals, the album is the perfect combination of soulful and lighthearted.

This band masters the art of creating ballads that are heartfelt, not sappy, and it shows. Highlights like “Cruel” showcase the band’s excellent songwriting, which lends itself perfectly to their newly quiet and pensive sound. The result is a new kind of folk music—thoroughly modern, not lost or stuck in decades past—that seems to have real staying power. The Head and The Heart have discovered what works for them, and they’ll withstand any shifts in what’s popular in music. This album ultimately plays like a plea to just take a moment, be still and listen—the rest will work itself out in time, after all.

> Don’t Miss Tracks: “Cruel”, “Homecoming Heroes”

Indigo Girls - Indigo GirlsIndigo Girls
Indigo Girls

The Indigo Girls are everything a musical pair should be: they certainly collaborate, but their differences in style ultimately create a stronger and more interesting final product. This album at times has a split personality, moving from the upbeat, bouncy “Closer to Fine” (one of my personal favorite songs) towards brooding tracks like “Blood and Fire” that ruminate on topics like love and faith. Although the songs reflect each member’s individual personality, they nevertheless compliment each other seamlessly.

This album is raw and powerful—it feels almost unedited at times, but in a wonderful way. The tracks capture their passion and let their personalities and opinions shine through, never asking them to keep anything in check. The power that surges through these songs, however, suggests a musical duo whose talent will take them far. Combined with their truly poetic songwriting, the Indigo Girls create a commanding musical presence that captures attention and demands that you really listen to every last word they have to say.

> Don’t Miss Tracks: “Closer to Fine”, “Secure Yourself”
> Check out this Murfie Podcast that we recorded with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls!

Joan Baez - Diamonds and RustJoan Baez
Diamonds and Rust

Although previous installments of Baez’s work centered around her anti-Vietnam war activism, Diamonds and Rust brings her back to her soulful, yet commercial, roots. The album is flush with outstanding music influences, including contemporary jazz greats like Larry Carlton and covers of legends the likes of Stevie Wonder. Although Biaz shines on cover tracks, original songs like “Children and All that Jazz” reveal a new style that’s personal and extremely appealing.

The real hero of this album, however, is the title track “Diamonds and Rust”, arguably Biaz’s finest achievement as a singer/songwriter. Written about her relationship with Bob Dylan, the track reminisces about what once was in a way that is intensely intimate.  Her most popular track ever, the song is a folk classic and a whole new standard for the soul-baring love song category. The sheer power of “Diamonds and Rust” combined with the album’s other shining moments makes this album the best of Baez.

> Don’t Miss Tracks: “Diamonds and Rust”, “Winds of the Old Days”


Ally Boutelle
@arboutelle

Ally is a communications intern at Murfie, blogging about all things music. When she’s not typing away, she cooks spicy food, does hot yoga, and reads weird history books. She’s also a college student double majoring in history and journalism.


Get to Know a Murfie Staffer!

Murfie may be an internet-based company, but there’s a group of real peeps who work here (super-cool peeps, may I add!), all currently living around the Madison area. It’s our team of developers here at Murfie who are responsible for building the features on our site: everything from Wishlists and the album pages to the Android app and more. You can meet one of these folks today:

ZACH FOSTER

Where are you from? > I’m from a little town about 20 minutes north of Milwaukee called Cedarburg. It’s a quaint little town with a rustic main street. At some point, in some magazine or something, it was said to be number three on the top tourist attractions in Wisconsin, but though it’s cute, it’s not that cute.

How long have you been working at Murfie? What is your role? > I’ve been working at Murfie since August of 2011. I originally started as an Ops member, but gained enough knowledge to move into a developer role. I’ve been developing for almost a year now, and I absolutely love it.

What do you like about working at Murfie? > My favorite part of the job is my group of coworkers. I love having really motivated and creative people around me, and every day, Murfie employees are doing awesome things around Madison. Our gang is making Madison a better community, while making Murfie a better company. There’s nothing like good people.

What kind of music can be found in your collection? > Since I was gifted roughly 500 discs, my collection is a mess. That being said, it’s full of some of my favorites, artists like: Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Bright Eyes, Phosphorescent, and The National. I drift heavily into the Folk/Indie/Americana side, songs with good lyrics and peaceful, spare melodies.

Who are your favorite artists/bands of all time? > Oddly enough, this is an easy question for me, I’ll give you three, two of which I already mentioned: Bright Eyes, Phosphorescent, and Bob Dylan. You’d be surprised by how similar they all are.

If you could have coffee with any musician, from any time, who would it be any why? > Definitely Dylan, but it would have to be when he was just getting started releasing albums, around when he released the self-titled. I don’t think I am interested in anything he’d have to say, but boy, I would love to hear him speak.

Are you a Beyoncé fan? > I went through a phase because I grew up with a sister three years older than me. That’s all I can reveal.

What album are you really digging right now? > Volcano Choir‘s Repave. I think “Comrade”, the third track, is etching itself onto my plaque of all time favorites.

Do you have any pets? > I do. I have two turtles who were given to me by Tyler, another sMurf, and I have a 1-year-old kitten named Matilda. She’s quite the little bundle.

What is your favorite food? > Curry. 4 stars.

What can people find you doing when you’re not at Murfie? > Too many things. I’m not good at sitting still and doing nothing. My current obsessions are exercising, watching Miyazaki films, and reading. I’m working on a couple side projects, including a social app for new parents and their children, and a developer bootcamp for others interested in obtaining job skills that one may not learn in school.

Now you know more about Zach, someone who does a lot for Murfie! Behind the scenes, we have a lot going on here!

Get to Know a Murfie Staffer!

Our operations team is the best! Ops staffers are here seven days a week, ripping discs, checking metadata, processing downloads, sending kits, and more. This week you can get to know an operations pro:

                ALEX SCHACHERL

c8babb38-df3d-11e2-8ec3-3520997e13f8Where are you from? > I’m originally from Galesville WI, about 20 minutes north of La Crosse, and I moved to Madison in 2010.

How long have you been working at Murfie? What is your role? > I’ve been here since February 2012, and by now I am a 9th level Audio extractor with cross class capabilities in Download Protection (Operations Staff).

What do you like about working at Murfie? > I love the fact that anyone I talk to about my job is instantly jealous of the amazing work environment and job description.

What kind of music can be found in your collection? > Mainly folk, pop/rock, and stand up comedy. Lately I have been acquiring lots of film soundtracks and scores.

Who are your favorite artists/bands of all time? > Mumford & Sons, Tenacious D, Flight of the Concords, The Beatles, and Daft Punk.

29214-largeIf you could have coffee with any musician, from any time, who would it be and why? > Harry Connick Jr., because according to several of the Murfie staff I am his Doppelganger.

Are you a Beyoncé fan? > Who doesn’t love Foxxy Cleopatra?

What album are you really digging right now? > The Greatest Video Game Music, performed by the London Philharmonic. I’m an aspiring game developer, and there’s just something about an orchestrated Tetris theme that I just can’t get over.

photoDo you have any pets? > Currently, my two gerbils, Korra and Katara.

What is your favorite food? > I could probably eat boneless wings for dinner every night.

What can people find you doing when you’re not at Murfie? > When I’m not at work or school, I spend a good chunk of my time rehearsing and performing with Fundamentally Sound, an all male acappella group from the UW Madison campus. Other than that I enjoy gaming, frolfing, and all sorts of other merriment with friends and family!

Now you know more about Alex, a Murfie ops staffer extraordinaire! We love showing off all the cool cats who work here. Stay tuned and meet someone new next week!