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New review from Montreal 

Vividly painted | "This show is for lovers of musical folklore. In a staged intimate setting meant to imitate that of a cozy all-night café, Rupert Wates uses soft melodies and catchy tunes to tell the stories of the American people. The catch, however, is that these are not the stories that you might read about in history books or see in Hollywood films. These stories do not depict the traditional American hero... Rather, these stories highlight the truth of heartbreak, loss and hope that mark the lives of America’s silent heroes... At times angry, sad and hopeful, these stories take you through vividly painted images of life... [An] escape into the quiet lives of others, and there is some sort of comfort in knowing that these lives have not been forgotten." (St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival 2013 review, Bloody, June 15, 2013)

Joe's Cafe in Top 20 on KRSC in Tulsa 

We've just heard that "Joe's Cafe" is number five in the top 20 most played albums for December on a program called "Innervisions" on KRSC Radio in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "Innervisions" is hosted by Dave Butler and broadcasts at 91.3 FM on Sunday mornings. The Top 20 includes albums by people like Jackson Browne (who didn't place as high)!

'More Holy Ground' wins honorable mention in Mid-Atlantic Song Contest  

We were very pleased to hear that "More Holy Ground" written by Rupert Wates and sung by Alissa Stahler won an honorable mention in the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest of the Songwriters' Association of Washington. Included in this post is a podcast of the song, recorded June 15, 2010 at Hard Luck Recording studios in Brooklyn, N.Y. This recording features a superb string arrangement by John Guari. The song is the story of Robert Gould Shaw, the colonel of the first all-black regiment recruited in the Civil War. It didn't make it onto the "Joe's Cafe" album, but it's a great addition to the live show, and to the roster at Joe's Cafe.

New album review of "Joe's Cafe" from ROOTSTIME: 'Unreservedly recommended' 

Below is a new review of the album, by Lisael in ROOTSTIME, an online mag in the Netherlands, translated from the Dutch:

"Rupert Wates was born and bred in London, a full time musician since 1992. In 2001 he moved to Paris, and in 2006 settled in the USA. In London he worked mainly as an accompanist for Jazz singers. During his time in Paris he emerged as a solo artist, bringing out CDs regularly. This is his fourth.

"We are dealing with a concept album. Here in 'JOE'S CAFE,' Wates issues a welcome and himself takes the role of Joe. There follow stories typical of a cafe in the '60s, about the people who frequent the cafe, and taking inspiration from Paul Auster's True Tales Of American Life.

"Wates has a soft voice which suits his gentle folky material. His voice is reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot. But he assigns the roles of the different people to other singers. Thus twelve different vocalists perform the songs, making for some variation while still preserving unity. Wates himself sings three songs. Among the names of his collaborators only that of Craig Bickhardt rings a bell.

"Some numbers stand out by means of their different flavors. There is 'Snow In New York,' a jazzy number sung by Cassendre Xavier, a lady with a voice recalling that of Cassandra Wilson. Also in a jazzy vein is the powerful 'The Voodoo Doll' sung by Safiya Fredericks. 'Dick And Delores' is the story of a white man who marries a black woman, who cannot accompany him to cafes, leading to a legal battle. This story is accompanied by some great violin and recalls the work of Tim O Brien. I may mention also that the cover comprises an illustration of a lighted cafe window, with a mixed race couple outside (and presumably forbidden to enter).

"The best number is 'The Skies Of South Dakota', sung virtually acapella by an assured Ashley Gonzalez. Next best is a close fight between 'Dick And Delores' and 'Days Of Mercy', notable for beautiful harmonies and an infectious rhythm. The songs go from introspective to swaggering, from sad to happy. As examples the sad tale of 'Stand Up Comedians' and the gypsy swing of 'A Sunny Afternoon In The Bronx' are polar opposites. The album ends with a very accessible song of cheer raising a glass in toast to friendship.

"Wates has given a concert performance of the album featuring all the musicians at the Metropolitan Room in New York City. This concert can be seen on YOUTUBE, so you can check out the quality for yourself. I myself can unreservedly recommend the CD to anyone who likes to bask in beautiful stories set to music."

Session produces new version of 'Sally's Farm' with strings  

On July 8, 2010, I returned once more to Hard Luck Recording Studio to add strings to my own version of the song Sally's Farm from Joe's Cafe. The recording features myself on voice and guitar and Marc Schmied on double bass. Bryan Saunders played cello and Carolyn Pook played violin on another great arrangement by John Guari. The attached podcast contains the finished product, engineered and mixed by Chris Medrano. This was one of the last sessions at the old Hard Luck premises. They're moving next door in August.

New recording: 'More Holy Ground' featuring Alissa Stahler, John Guari  

On Tuesday, June 15, at Hard Luck Recording studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., we recorded a new version of the song More Holy Ground, featuring a great vocal by Alissa Stahler and a superb string arrangement by John Guari. Click on the podcast that accompanies this post to hear the recording. The song is the story of Robert Gould Shaw, the colonel of the first all-black regiment recruited in the Civil War. It didn't make it onto the album but it's a great addition to the live show, and to the roster at Joe's Cafe.