Everybody's Looking for a Meal
San Francisco band Blind Willies is guitarist/singer/songwriter Alexei Wajchman and fiddler Annie Staninec. Bluegrass, old time, and gypsy jazz fiddler Annie has toured with David Grisman's Gypsy Caravan, and performed with Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Crooked Still, and Stephane Wrembel. Alexei has been called 'a remarkable songwriter' by Jenn O'Donnell, editor of the popular online zine Delusions of Adequacy, who wrote of the duo's 2007 debut CD, The Unkindness of Ravens, 'Blind Willies play incredibly wonderful music. Annie's fiddle is the perfect accompaniment for Alexei. The great albums seem fewer and farther between each year. Blind Willies surprised me by bringing back that wide-eyed joyful feeling that I used to get from albums like this.' The debut album is on O'Donnell's 2007 Top 10 list. Blind Willies' subjects range from urban street life to the vagaries of personal relationships. Alexei's characters include pimps, prostitutes, homeless wanderers, teen runaways, and unrepentant sinners. Annie is an inventive improvisational fiddler, and Alexei plays a passionate guitar that gives his lyrics a raw immediacy, providing the foundation for Annie's interpretive riffs. Their style can be deceptively innocent as in 'Mom Says No,' the song Alexei wrote for a family audience; cynically and hilariously pointed as in 'Shark Out of Water' ; or plaintively critical as in 'If You Was a Good Pimp,' a funky blues rant against bad management. Everybody's Looking for a Meal was recorded, mixed, and mastered by the same team responsible for the band's debut CD. Lemon DeGeorge and Paul Carlsen are engineer's engineers. Lemon has worked on all of Jolie Holland's albums, and he recorded the CD soundtrack and location sound and dialogue for Academy Award nominated, Sundance Audience Award winner, Genghis Blues. Paul Carlsen worked with Lemon on Genghis Blues, mastered Nirvana's seminal album, Nevermind, worked with Neil Young, The Doors, John Prine, John Hammond, David Geffen, and he designed the award-winning sound for George Coates' influential avant-garde theater production, Right Mind. Blind Willies made their professional debut at San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in 2004. They've played Falcon Ridge Folk Festival's 2008 Emerging Artists Showcase, The Folk Project's Minstrel Concert Series, San Luis Obispo Folk Music Society Concert Series, SF's 2008 Summer Sailstice, Berkeley's Freight and Salvage, SF's Great American Music Hall, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Zeum, SF Folk Festival, Djangofest, and smaller venues throughout the Bay Area and NYC. In 2007 they performed with Peter Stampfel (The Holy Modal Rounders, The Fugs)at New York's Sidewalk Cafe. Confirmed radio play includes Better Days Radio, Vancouver, BC; Pirate Cat Radio, SF; KPIG, KRSH, WXPN, WFUV Woody's Children, KPFA, WFDU, KALW, KZSC, KUSP, KYOU, KQED, KDVS, KKUP, WOBC, WTJU, WDVX Writer's Block, WCOM Taproot Radio, Americana Roots, WWUH, KZSU, KRCB, KSCL, WBGU, KAOS, WTUL, WCBN, KBCS, WEFT, WMBR, KBGA, WSDP, WDCB, KXCI, WRKF, KACI, WLRN, KCSC, WFHB, WMUD, KAFM, Thayrone's The Bone Conduction Music Show (syndicated), WRFL, WDBX, KGLP, Radio Marabu/Europe/No Pigeonholes, Hanx/Netherlands, Crossroads/Netherlands, Heart of the Night & TransAtlantic Acoustic indieheart.com podcasts, indieSF.com, Todd Mack's Off the Beat-n-Track, Suffolk 'n Cool/UK, CKUA Tom Coxworth's Folk Routes/Canada, WYEP, WGDR, CJLX, CKHA, WHAY, WBSD, WKZE, WHDD, NHPR, KRCC, KLOI, CHES Erin Radio, CJTR, Progressive Roots/WSJF, WHJX, WFJO, 2 MAX/Australia, Triplej/Australia, 3 INR/Australia, 2AIR/Australia, 4RED/Australia, Radio Upper Galilee/Israel, Highway 61 Radio Voce Spazio/Italy, Radio EVW/Germany, Radio ZuSa/Germany, Radio Shalom/Canada. 5/30/08 Music Review, Delusions of Adequacy: Artist: Blind Willies Song: If You Was a Good Pimp So many good albums, so little time! I really enjoyed the Blind Willies' debut album, The Unkindness of Ravens - so much so that it made the number 7 slot on my Top 10 of 2007 list. I was thrilled when the new Blind Willies disc, Everybody's Looking for a Meal, arrived recently. Though it's a great album, I just haven't found the time to do a full review that can do justice to the music here, so I thought I'd focus on one track - 'If You Was a Good Pimp'. Other than having a great title, 'If You Was a Good Pimp' shows off everything great about this duo. Annie Staninec (fiddle) and Alexei Wajchman (guitar, vocals) play off each other expertly here. Both the guitar and fiddle rock and roll off each other like nobody's business, and Staninec's chorus vocals give a gospel feel to Wajchman's more earnest singing. Since I heard the first Blind Willies disc I've felt that Wajchman has a knack for writing lyrics, and this song is no exception. Consider 'If you was a good pimp, Jesus would be smiling. I'm no two-bit mama, I'm no trash bag sister. You better play it right, I ain't gonna hook for you no more.' I love it! Just like 'Last Rites in December' from the debut moved me emotionally, this tune makes me shuffle and shimmy. 'If You Was a Good Pimp' is a fine example of what the Blind Willies is all about. I hope Annie and Alexei continue to follow this path, and continue to make great music. If I had a proper place to host, I'd be all over inviting these two by for a backyard party into the wee hours. Grilling, drinks, good friends, and the Blind Willies sounds like a perfect summer Saturday night to me! -Jenn O'Donnell, Editor 05/30/08 ==================================== 'If the Devil went down to San Francisco where Blind Willies are located and challenged Annie to a fiddlin' contest it would be no contest because you cannot fiddle like this without divine intervention. Blind Willies prove once again that traditionally styled folk music can sound aggressively modern.' jill no jack indieheart.com Heart of the Night podcast #64 1/31/08 ============================================== Blind Willies: Everybody's Looking For A Meal Keith Laidlaw, KQED, 7/4/08 Imagine the White Stripes driven by the fevered folk of Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, and you might get some idea of where the Blind Willies are coming from. Duo Annie Staninec and Alexei Wajchman have brought a punky attitude to bear on songs whose templates have long histories. Alexei's voice drawls and snarls over agitated guitar, while Annie's fiddle playing gives the music it's whirling, devilish heart. Like Meg and Jack before them, they combine to create a sound bigger than the mere sum of their parts. High points include the rich, sneering sarcasm of 'Mom Says No,' the bluesy, Jagger-esque swagger of 'Shark Out of Water,' and the dark gypsy sorcery of 'Sinners Medley.' The line between the past and present is muddied in the melée: You can as easily imagine 'If You Was a Good Pimp' being penned in a dingy prohibition-era juke joint as by Snoop Dogg. It's this sound, of traditional music being seized by musicians with new, fiercely held ideas of their own, that makes this album so invigorating. ---------------------------------------------------- Blind Willies, Everybody's Looking for a Meal Americana UK, Michael Mee, 7/31/08 All too often, musicians take the path of least resistance in an attempt to be universally 'popular' so it is refreshing to come across an album that has something to say that is worth saying. The greatest gift of Everybody's Looking For A Meal is that each time you return - and believe me you will - you'll discover a completely different album in front of you. But be warned in place of sugar coated, banal nonsense you'll find an album that demands as much of the listener as it did of it's creators. --------------------------------------------------------- It's not often I write to thank an artist on the same day as I receive a CD in the mail. Indeed I don't often listen to them for weeks. As I am listening to it for the 4th time now, continuously, it is dawning on me what a unique album this is. The country/bluegrassy tones give a driving rhythm to some of the most thought provoking songs I've heard for a long time, as well as some of the best fiddling. Sinners Medley opens with a freilachs type tune (rarely heard on radio in Israel)and goes on to become a satanic urban nightmare. I didn't actually intend to write a review, just to say that what initially appeared to me to be a bit of a weird CD rapidly turned into something marvelous which is going to take me many many spins to fully fathom out - if ever I do. Menachem Vinegrad, Director, 11/11/08 Radio Upper Galilee Jacob's Ladder Folk Festival, Israel.
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