About John Kimsey's Twisted Roots music:
“An ingenious way to integrate political and social commentary into a musical architecture”.
-- Ben Sidran (host, NPR’s Jazz Alive and score composer, Hoop Dreams)
“This is music to inspire the soul and charge your commitment to peace and justice.”
--Anthony Nicotera, DePaul University Center for Spirituality & Values in Practice
"A wonderful blend of lyricism and political satire and a bona fide work of American art"
-- David Simpson, DePaul SNL
"Quirky, literate and original"
--Toby Thomas, Silver Moon Radio
To screen videos of the big band version of John Kimsey’s Twisted Roots Ensemble, go to Youtube and enter John Kimsey & Twisted Roots in the search box.
John Kimsey's 2003 CD, Twisted Roots, was a pioneering effort: a song cycle that used homegrown Southern music styles to map the highways, byways and lowdown dirty ways of contemporary American politics and culture. Kimsey's new album -- Traps for Troubadours: the Best of Twisted Roots -- continues in that vein while enriching it with new material, a grander emotional range and the picking, grinning and take-no-prisoners attitude that Twisted Roots fans have come to expect. The new album contains 14 tracks and five of these -- the hilarious takedown Talking Talk Radio, the eerie underworld journey Mole in the Ground and the dead-on political satires Spin This, Alibi Club and What's Wrong With This Picture? -- come from the 2003 album and have been remastered for this collection. Two other Twisted Roots staples -- the aching ballad Lydia and Kimsey's striking reharmonization of the hymn How Can I Keep From Singing? -- are presented here in previously unreleased live versions featuring vocalists Lia McCoo (on Lydia) and Lia McCoo & Cathy Braaten (on How Can I Keep).
In addition, there are 7 new tracks:
Wide Lawns & Narrow Minds, Kimsey's rockabily response to the banksters and Too Big To Fail;
Elivis On Velvet (our nomination for Best Country Song You Never Heard), presented here in swinging honky tonk style -- a new arrangement that marks the 30th anniversary of the song's composition by Kimsey way back in the 20th century;
One More Time, a ballad which speaks for itself;
Draining the Swamp, an eldritch r&b workout featuring the keyboards of Morry Fiddler and the percussion stylings of Brad Newton;
Amarantha, a melodic hillbilly-brother-duet that sounds old but which was written this year (see the line "their faces become phones" re facts of life in the 21st century);
Beat the Drum Slowly, a keening, Celtic-flavored instrumental featuring John on pennywhistle and his estimable musician brother Jim on accordion and field drum -- a song dedciated to the memory of their father, Ed Kimsey, 9/12/28 - 9/12/87;
And the Canned Heat classic Going Up the Country -- here rendered with an irresistible New Orleans second line feel (propelled by Brad Newton's drums & percussion and featuring piccolo by Lia McCoo with organ by Morry Fiddler) -- which nods to those occasions, way back when, where John and Brad had the honor to play with NOLA music legend Dr. John. This tune ends the album on suitably ecstatic note, to which we can only add --
All songs composed by John Kimsey, copyright controlled & published by John Kimsey Tunes (ASCAP), except:
Mole in the Ground (Traditional, arranged & adapted by John & Jim Kimsey ; John Kimsey Tunes / ASCAP); How Can I Keep From Singing? (Public Domain - music by Robert Wadsworth Lowry, arranged by John Kimsey; John Kimsey Tunes / ASCAP); and Going Up the Country (Alan Wilson; (EMI UNart).
John Kimsey - Lead & background vocals, all guitars, pennywhistle (13), bass (1, 2)
And featuring the Twisted Roots Quartet:
Lia McCoo - lead & bg vocals. piccolo, percussion; Morry Fiddler - piano & organ; George Healey - bass; Brad Newton -
drums, congas & percussion
As well as the following occasional contributors:
Jim Kimsey - bg vocal, keyboards, ring modulator, spin effect, field drum (7, 8, 13); Cathy Bratten - co-lead vocal (12); Dan Leali - drums (5, 8, 10); Brad Elvis - drums (1, 2); Tom Elferdink - saxes & horn arrangement (9); Gary Bristol - bass (3, 13); Jim Dinou - piano (3, 13); Kevin Korschgen - drums (9); Donna Adler - bg voc & percussion (3); Ellis Clark - bridge bass & gliss (1); Steve Eisen - flutes & sax (8); Joe Lill - trumpet (8).
Arranged by John Kimsey, except track 7, arranged & adapted by John & Jim Kimsey (with additional music by Jim Kimsey)
Produced by John Kimsey & Ellis Clark (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 11, 14)
Produced by John Kimsey (tracks 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13)
Recorded by Ellis Clark at Angel City, except: tracks 4 &12 recorded by Ellis Clark live in concert;
tracks 7 & 13 recorded by Jim Kimsey at the Avant Garage; and track 3 recorded live by Jon Zdon in Jim D’s rehearsal attic
Mastered by Blaise Barton, Joyride Studios, Chicago, except tracks 3 &13, originally mastered by Mark Richardson at Metropolis Mastering, Chicago and remastered by Blaise Barton at Joyride
Artwork by Steve Hashimoto
Cover image: Chiromancy / Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, etched by Robert Fludd, 1619
“Beat the Drum Slowly” dedicated to the memory of Ed Kimsey, 9/12/28 - 9/12/87
Special thanks to Jim Kimsey, Morry Fiddler, Ellis Clark, Tom Elferdink & Carol
A Thoughts Microphone Production
Copyright John Kimsey, 2012