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Tony Joe White
 
 
   
 
     
   
 
TONY JOE WHITE
“The Shine"
Irish Release Date 12/11/10 on Munich Records (MRCD 323)

ICONIC SOUTHERN SONGWRITER TONY JOE WHITE GETS RAW ON “THE SHINE”, HIS MOST INTIMATE, UNVARNISHED ALBUM TO DATE

One of the most distinctive and respected songwriters of the Deep South, Tony Joe White, gets raw and real on his new record “THE SHINE”, set for an Irish November 12th release on Munich Records. “THE SHINE” is a stripped-down collection of ten new White-penned songs that beautifully lays bare his rich, nuanced baritone, and distinctive brand of swampy southern soul. While White's critically acclaimed “Uncovered” featured a slew of special guests including Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald and J.J. Cale, “THE SHINE” is all about White. He produced and recorded the album himself in his home studio outside Nashville. From the first whispery notes of “Season Man”, in which he recounts an ominous dream, to the record's closing track, “A Place to Watch the Sun Go Down”, “THE SHINE” is an album of understated beauty and beguiling mystery.

TRACKLISTING
01 Season Man
02 Ain't Doing Nobody No Good;
03 Paintings on the Mountain;
04 Tell Me Why;
05 All;
06 Long Way From the River;
07 Strange Night;
08 Something to Soften the Blow;
09 Roll Train Roll;
10 A Place to Watch the Sun Go Down

Tony Joe White has accomplished much in the years since he emerged from his home in Louisiana's swamp country and the hardscrabble circuit of Texas honky-tonks. His music is part of America's soundtrack – sparse and elegant, filled with shadows, sadness and beauty. Nobody else writes songs like these – songs that evoke both the mysteries of the place were he was raised and the spirits that haunt us all in our most private, lonely moments. Nobody sings them like White either. That dark baritone, scarred and sweet, brings these songs to life like none other.

Even so, others have memorably interpreted his songs, from Brook Benton's unforgettable take on “Rainy Night in Georgia” in 1970 to Tina Turner's intensely soulful rendition of “Steamy Windows.” Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield, Etta James – iconic artists in their own right have honored “the Swamp Fox” by cutting his tunes. Others have joined White, with Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Shelby Lynne among those who have paid tribute as guests on recent, theme-oriented projects such as The Heroines and Uncovered.

But with The Shine, released September 28 on White's Swamp Records imprint, this long road circles and comes back toward where it began. Before exploding onto the Top 10 with “Polk Salad Annie” in 1969, before beginning his ongoing commitment to perform regularly for fans in markets as distant as Europe and Australia, White built his vision on a bedrock of blues, backwoods country, and sounds too much his own to categorize. This foundation is simple yet seductive and strong: Within its fabric of raw guitar, hypnotic rhythm and spellbinding lyrical imagery, White's soul pulls from its roots and reasserts itself with deep conviction. There are no all-star cameos on The Shine – only White on guitar, harmonica and vocals, bassist George Hawkins, drummer “Swamp Man” Jack Bruno, Tyson Rogers on keyboards, John Catchings on cello, and a selection of songs that had sprouted in White's imagination over the previous few months. “They just started stacking up on me and my wife Leann over the wintertime,” White says. “They hit me every day and every night. When I'd go to bed, they were going through my mind. It was really cool stuff, and I was like, ‘Man, I've got to put these down, just to see what they sound like.'” Each one told a different story, but taken together they seemed to call White back to the well that had first nourished him.

From the feverish, dreamlike images that course through “Season Man” to the heartbreak that colors the romantic nostalgia of “All", these tracks live on their own yet exist together as memories and premonitions of a single story. “They're all about truth and life and daily or nightly happenings,” White says. “They all came to me, the guitar parts and the words, maybe at a campfire down by the river with a few cold beers. I'll sit there, strum a little bit, and all of a sudden a lick will come – except for the ones I wrote with Leann. She's a real word person, so she'll say ‘what do you think about this,' and all of a sudden a little light goes off in my head, a guitar chord will pop up and here we go.” “Paintings on a Mountain” is one example of this collaboration between Tony Joe and Leann White. “We have a place up in Taos, New Mexico,” he says. “Our house sits on land that backs up to an Indian village. It's a magic spot. In the late afternoon, the sun makes so many paintings on the mountainside; they change as the sun moves on. A lot of that was written by Leann.”

The guiding principle for The Shine can be heard in one of its details, from “Tell Me Why,” which preaches “it's all about the song, keeping it simple. Got to have passion. Got to have soul.” That was the mission when White and his musicians began cutting these tracks in the living room of his home south of Nashville. Beneath high ceilings, on original hardwood floors in a building old enough to have been used as a battlefield hospital during the Civil War, they played with minimal direction, trusting in the moment as they brought these songs to life. “Sometimes I would say ‘simplify,' but that's all,” White remembers. “It was almost like I was a bystander. I had this weird feeling of looking at everybody as we played, watching the song happen without really trying very hard to make it happen.” Most songs were captured in one take. The emotions and connections were so strong that even without any rehearsal, with only the barest indication of which chord followed the next, each one seemed to draw deeper from somewhere within White. He sensed this himself, sometimes not even singing where he was supposed to because the music they were laying down was so compelling. “All of a sudden I'd remember, ‘Hey, you should have been singing right there,'” White says, chuckling. “So I'd go back later and punch it in. But we were all very aware that something was happening in the air between us. Maybe there were some spirits walking about.” They roamed especially free on the one track where White recorded solo, “Roll Train Roll.” “I think that one was a matter of being taken back,” he reflects. “That's what made it sound like I was going back to listening to Lightnin' Hopkins, when I lived on the Boeuf River in Goodwill, Louisiana, first learning the guitar. That's the kind of stuff I'd play out on the porch at night.”

One doesn't have to have been a Tony Joe White fan to appreciate that there is something elusive and hard to define in this music. But these depths surface in The Shine. More than a return to an artist's seminal references, this project seeks the seed from which his work took form. White finds it on The Shine; from here, all that he produced before and all that will follow come into a revealing and enduring light.

 
 
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In 1969, Tony Joe White brought his brand of Swampy Blues into a Top 10 hit with his song "Polk Salad Annie." This was followed very shortly in 1970, by Brook Benton’s soulful rendition of White's timeless "Rainy Night In Georgia."
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s White toured in support of artists including Creedence Clearwater Revival and James Taylor. In the 1990s Tina Turner recorded four of his songs for her multi-platinum selling album Foreign Affairs, including the world-wide hit "Steamy Windows". With the advent of that project, White formed an alliance with Turner's manager, Roger Davies and his career began to soar.

In Europe, White gained legendary status following a successful debut at the historic Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. His European following has spawned a career that has spanned the decades.

In 1991 he issued the Closer To The Truth album and spent the next two years touring Europe in support of Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker, among others. He cut two more albums, 1993's Path Of A Decent Groove and 1995's Lake Placid Blues, the latter garnering the first of two nominations for "Best R & B Album" from the Nashville Music Awards.

In 1999, White went back to his roots and recorded One Hot July, in the swamps of Louisiana. He then toured Australia and Europe once again in support of the critically acclaimed album. In 2001, he released The Beginning - a stripped-down acoustic album that received worldwide recognition and five star ratings in virtually every country.

Most recently Tony Joe White has released The Heroines and the critically acclaimed new album “Uncovered” both have been released on his own label, Swamp Records.

“Uncovered” features Tony Joe White at his finest. The album features dear friends of the timeless musician; each of these visitors himself an icon. These featured musicians include Mark Knopfler, who’s playing dovetails with Tony Joe on “Not One Bad Thought.” Eric Clapton follows on “Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You,” finding a different perspective yet also providing a perfect complement to White. On “Baby, Dont Look Down” Michael McDonald proves once again why he is the outstanding blue-eyed soul crooner of our time. The elusive J. J. Cale snakes through the prowling groove of “Louvelda.” Most notably on this album is the late Waylon Jennings, who joins Tony Joe for a timeless performance of the previously unrecorded, “Shakin the Blues,” in one of Waylon’s final studio appearances. Add legendary Memphis Horns to a couple of tracks and you’ve exceeded the hero’s quota for any one album.

Even with the amazing addition of these artists, the focus here stays tight on Tony Joe. The tracks, most of them cut late at night at his studio south of Nashville, are raw and rough, as they should be. Emotions overflow in his vocals, spilling from each melody like rivers washing out their banks: sensual on “Run for Cover”, defiant on “Rebellion”, and enlightened by life’s painful lessons in “Taking the Midnight Train”. On “Keeper of the Fire” he pulls heat from the embers of blues and sings it softly back, like pictures blown in smoke. And he delivers, at long last, the definitive recording of his classic “Rainy Night in Georgia”, in one flawless take. These performances are the culmination of a lifetime spent in music. A breathy lifetime of swampy blues.


 
 
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