American Roots singer and songwriter Cole Mitchell’s work is an expression of a hard life, well lived. "Kind of a sideways take on the music I'd heard as a kid hangin' around my grandmother's honky tonk in southern New Mexico. See, I was born in Billy the Kidd country," says Cole. "and raised in Hank Williams country."
Spending many of his formative years in Alabama, he moved back to New Mexico in his teens to work his parents ranch near the Gila Wilderness. “I never considered riding horses for pleasure,” he says only partly kidding. Cole worked alongside his dad from an early age and got a steady stream of country radio. He started entertaining himself by learning to play a guitar his folks gave him, and soon enough started picking out the Western Traditional as well as the Frizzell, Cash, and other country tunes his father listened to.
After discovering that 'other' music on rock and roll stations, Cole attended several concerts and his rebellious nature was impressed and momentarily uprooted. Until he learned how to blend the balls out style he was growing to love with the deep secure roots he had grown up with. So, full of piss and vinegar, he left home at sixteen to front a touring band that he'd impressed. Though he found the road invigorating, being of working man's stock Cole determined to get real about music, and about making a living.
Soon, he was back in New Mexico working long hours on oil rigs. He made good, bought a ranch, and before long was trading horses and running cattle. But his restlessness again took hold of him, and the next thing he knew he was skinning carcasses in a slaughterhouse in a town he didn't know. Not finding that work particularly appealing, Cole next got involved in a rather nefarious border business. Sensing that nothing good was coming out of most of it, he hit the road again. Through his forty days and nights in the wilderness, Cole's constant companion was his guitar and music his best friend.
Whether from good fortune or dumb luck he can't really say, but he eventually made his way north to Albuquerque where he soon came to the music establishment's attention as front man for Saddlesores. The Saddlesores went on to become a somewhat legendary roadhouse band specializing in a free wheeling mix of country/western and rock and roll with a punk edge. Cole fronted Saddlesores for some fifteen years, stirring up powerhouse performances and writing and singing raucous, memorable songs that defied description and eventually came to be labeled, perhaps for lack of any available idiom, Americana.
Tragically, Cole lost his eye sight in 1992. Deciding to take this part of his journey anew, Cole broke with Saddlesores and has been recording largely solo and touring a bit since. His current work still bears the mark of that raw and original take on life that colored so much of his work with Saddlesores.
Cole's two solo CD releases are a expression of his transformation from a writer and front man for an iconoclastic, good time band to a poet and storyteller becoming more intimate with the raw honesty of his life. During his travels along the highways and byways stretched between the Wild West and the Old South, he apparently learned a good bit by staying true to himself. Cole Mitchell's restless heart, and the people and places he's kept with him along the way, give his music an authenticity missing in too much of contemporary music. His heartfelt musings, dry humor, hard luck, and hard edge give these stories from the fringe of what's left of blue-collar America a genuine sense of real music, real life.
Cole Mitchell. American roots. American real.
Cole Mitchell-acoustic guitar, vocals, harmonica, songwriter
Performances can be as a solo act or including any of the following of these talented individuals from this continuously evolving list of CURS:
Johnny Burns - lead acoustic/ electric guitar and harmony vocals
Jacob Means - mandolin, mandocello, and harmony vocals
Shelby Lee Means - stand up base and vocals
Matt Sneddon - resonator
J. Forsythe - guitar and lap steel
Antonia Montoya - stand-up bass and backing vocals
August Johnson - drums and percussion
Allen Appel - guitar, banjo, and dobro
Cole Mitchell - Primordial Reckoning (release Oct. 2009)
Cole Mitchell - Bullet-Proof
Cole Mitchell - Invictus
The single "Gravity". This song featured in the film First Snow to be released March '07.
Cole Mitchell and the Curs - Nobody's Blues
'Nobody's Blues' Release
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They say that even cowboys get the blues and after just a cursory listen of 'Nobody's Blues', the ne...They say that even cowboys get the blues and after just a cursory listen of 'Nobody's Blues', the new release by local cowpunk Cole Mitchell and his band the Curs, it is obvious that his musical roots run deep. "I was born in Billy the Kid country and raised in Hank Williams country," Mitchell states in his current biography. Filled with road weary tales of whiskey-soaked nights, deals gone bad, clocking time in a slaughterhouse and "breathing fire and drinking gasoline," Mitchell's songs sweat bullets of genuine American tears laced with grit and asphalt. It's a quality that can only come from experiencing long days of work, wild nights of play and occasional, but all too inevitable, bouts of heartbreak. Some call it "piss and vinegar," which is a much more colorful description than Americana. Either way, 'Nobody's Blues' should be on everyone's playlist.
-Kevin Hopper (May 15th, 2008)
'Nobody's Blues' Review
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(4 stars) Cole MItchell has a distinctive singing voice. HIs growling is somewhere between John Fog...(4 stars)
Cole MItchell has a distinctive singing voice. HIs growling is somewhere between John Fogerty and Mick Jagger.
Add to the mix his twangy guitar and the originality of his lyrics, and you've got a hearty recipe for rock 'n' roll and country rock that you don't want to stop.
Add to that mix his band, the Curs. Backing Mitchell are Jay Forsythe's hard-driving electric guitar and lap steel, Chris Martin's slam-bang drums and Antonia Montoya's acoustic bass (she's a standup player).
The songs on the CD cover the many rough patches in the road that grown men find, whether with their women, their buddies or their jobs.
Here are some of the CD's highlights.
"Go On and Go" (a man telling his woman to leave because "I'm emotionally bankrupt from paying your dues"), "The Deal" ("This part of my life it's through/But I can't say what's going to come of you"), "In a Blue Room" ("I drink old whiskey to dim the hue/of this blue room filled with you") and "The Amarillo Butcher House Blues" (A man has swung a sledgehammer for 10 years, making just enough money. Now he's a short order cook leaving the old job to immigrants who work for less.)
You'll no doubt play Mitchell's latest CD, "Nobody's Blues," over and over and over. But don't miss his CD release party Saturday night.
"Nobody's Blues" is a step up from Mitchell's previous CD release, 'Invictus.'
-David Steinberg (May 16th, 2008)
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For about a decade and a half, up until a few year ago, singer-songwriter Cole Mitchell fronted one ...For about a decade and a half, up until a few year ago, singer-songwriter Cole Mitchell fronted one of the most egregiously underappreciated bands in Albuquerque's contemporary rock history. As lead vocalist, lead harmonica player and lead hellraiser of the Saddlesores, Mitchell had an aura about him that was equal parts Merle Haggard, John Lydon, and Bob Dylan. That very same aesthetic is alive, well and all over Mitchell’s second solo venture, Invictus (Wasteland Records). While the sheer raucousness of a live Saddlesores show may never be duplicated, Mitchell channels all the fixin’s – sly wit, sarcasm, cleverness, a deep-seated love affair with classic country music and a rooted sense of all things Americana- into the 10 tracks that make up his latest record, all snug with the voice of an angel who’s been through Hell.
Michael Henningsen, IQ Magazine
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Cole Mitchell "Invictus" (Wasteland Records 2006) Just as I was advocating the demise o...
Cole Mitchell "Invictus" (Wasteland Records 2006)
Just as I was advocating the demise of the grizzled, whisky-swilling troubabdours in a previous review up pops another one in the shape of Albuquerque’s Cole Mitchell, former head-honcho of the cow punksters The Saddlesores. Invictus is Mitchell’s second solo outing and pretty much ticks all the boxes for lovers of gritty, rockin’ barroom country. With a voice akin to early Jagger (in fact there are primetime Stones reference points on likes of “Bye Bye Baby” and “Born To Lose”) with a splash of a grizzled Steve Earle, Mitchell is an engaging frontman. With an acerbic tounge and endless clever observersations on life’s affairs of the heart he serves up these ten self-penned composisions with ample gusto and enthusiasm that far outweighs any doubts you might have as to the longevity of these songs. Glenda June Fish adds complimentary backing vocals on a lot of the tracks and, in a way, softens the songs to make them a little less angular and easier on the ear. It’s a kind of throwaway country by numbers complete with honky-tonk solos, stompin’ barroom anthems, and good ole knees-up drinking tales. In other words, bloomin’ good fun so enjoy it while it lasts!
Date review added: Monday, February 05, 2007
Reviewer: Del Day
Wisperin & Hollerin Review
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Anybody remember Roger Chapman, with his quivering, raucous singing style? Well, Cole Mitchell so...
Anybody remember Roger Chapman, with his quivering, raucous singing style? Well, Cole Mitchell sounds like Roger Chapman sings country, and Cole's distinctive singing is married to honest, quirky, humorous songwriting and a lo-fi slightly chaotic sound that adds up to one very distictive and appealing set of songs. He describes his music as a twisted take on the country music he grew up with - Hank Williams et al. His story is that after several other working lives, he fronted a particularly raucous honky-tonk band for fifteen years, which I'd like to have heard. Although he sometimes sounds a bit like Steve Earle, his is far from a classic country voice, and undermines completely any notion that you night be listening to bog-standard country fare.
Bitter and twisted, his writing deals with life not turning out like the brochure promised - happiness, contentment and true love always round the next corner: "Been a long time coming, a long time gone/ Since I had a good gal or a proper home/ I'm a steamroller, got a million plans/ If one of them clicks I'm going to stick it to the man" (Born To Lose). For a little time, life can come together, and he can appreciate it with a poet's intensity: "Can't you hear the night, oh it's deafening/ With the stars so bright they could burn out your eyes/ And I don't know darlin' if you're listening/ But with you right here tonight I'm sure alive" (Van Gogh's Moon).
Mostly, though, things don't work out and a new day, a fresh start have to be faced all over again. His wry humour is never far away, though, and all these things are matched by loose country arrangements, twangy guitar often to the fore and back-up singing from Glenda June Fish that is gloriously, appropriately, never quite with the lead vocal. Three cheers for Allen Appel's guitar and Cole Mitchell's own production that take us from the scratchy lo-fi confessed pain of "Transient Emotions" to the dance floor fun of "Bye Bye Baby". Here's a man to cheer for, an antidote to the same old radio-friendly schtick.
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"This sounds like it came right out of Sun Studios 1954, simple but effective." -Ralph McLean Radi..."This sounds like it came right out of Sun Studios 1954, simple but effective."
I have had the chance to listen to Cole Mitchel "Invictus" (twice!!). Really love this album, love the guy's voice (reminiscent of Jim Almand) and I love the lady on harmony vocals (very sweet). Really love the way the album kicks in with "The Curse", which due to the guitar sounds is very reminiscent of Steve Earle's "Guitar Town". But a great opener for an
album that doesn't disappoint from there on. Thanks for sending on this
one, will be receiving plenty of radio play from mysel! Another track that
really rocks is "Bye bye Baby" (love it!).
Desi Fisher (BBC Radio Ulster/ Maiden City FM, N. Ireland)
This Cd is a real pleasure both vocally and
instrumentally and for sure one of the best thing I have heard these
weeks. I particularly like you on up tempo songs and i noticed the
good sound and the excellent vocals. I love your voice!... Mike Penard ISA, France
LOVED THE MUSIC, specially Bye, Bye Bay, Born to Lose and Lucretia Borgia. Very original voice and style and great musicianship... Raúl Tejeiro, AMC Uruguay
i just got a chance to throw the cd in my car and give it a good listen yesterday. i was worried it was going to be some overly sensitive, singer-song writer confessional kind of music. i think the title of the cd threw me off ( i really should look "invictus" up in the dictionary). i was so glad to hear some some twanged up guitar. i dig the cd and will be giving it a lot of spins...rob silverberg, wcuw, 91.3 fm , worcester, ma
I like the recording, sounding live and sincere... Jacques / RCF national network
Invictus was my
favorite Henley poem, "I am the Master of my fate, The
Captain of my soul" and all that.
I realize the cover art was entitled "Invictus" but it took
a lot of chutzpah to call the CD by that title what with
Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph quoting the poem as an
inspiration. Or maybe the lyrics to "Bye Bye Baby" were
inspired by that?
I found the whole CD captivating. I know most musicians
don't care for comparisons but I kept on thinking the CD
kind of a Steve Earle (early Steve) meets Buddy & Julie
Miller (Glenda's superb background vocals). I am sure we
can put this Cd to good use at KTEP.
..Dan Alloway, "Folk Fury" KTEP-FM
Authentic, refreshing and sounds good to my ears...Theo Oldenburg, Alt. Cuontry Cooking, Netherlands
I received the sampler copy of your latest CD and I now take the chance to thank you so much for sending it to me: "Invictus" is a good album in the alt. country stylem sometimes making me think like a sort of Rolling Stones singing country music indeed, and a couple of days ago I started playing it in my radio programme of American folk and roots music here
"Cold Light Of The Day" was the first song to be played but more tracks from that album will be surely on air in the next weeks.
-Massimo Ferro, Radio Voce Spazio, Italy
Fine work! I like it a lot. Keep up the good work!
Barren River Breakdown
Invictus CD Review
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Listen to Cole Mitchell’s deep, mesmerizing, hallowed out voice and you think that’s John Fogerty si...Listen to Cole Mitchell’s deep, mesmerizing, hallowed out voice and you think that’s John Fogerty singing…maybe Mitchell and Fogerty were drinking from the same well.
Mitchell has a little more quivering country in his voice though his original songs are more in the vein of country rock and rock ‘n’ roll.
His themes are often a mix of honest human emotions- true grit, bittersweet love and uncertain hope ground up together to produce a strong dose of reality.
And the bonus is you can dance to it.
-David Steinberg, Albuquerque Journal
"Invictus" Wasteland Records CM00202 3 out of 4 stars
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Raucous roots rock from ex-horse trader and cattle rancher now based in New Mexico. This, the se...Raucous roots rock from ex-horse trader and cattle rancher now based in New Mexico.
This, the second release from Cole Mitchell, is best described as a curious mix of honky-tonk and deep southern swamp rock. From the opening "The Curse" to the closing number "Painting The Town", we are introduced to Cole's world. A world of snake pits, tattoos, fist fights, alcohol, oh and a touch of love and tenderness thrown in for good measure.
Cole has an unusual deep down and dirty vocal style; a kind of countrified Captain Beefheart, this this shown perfectly on "Transient Emotions", a love song, but delivered in Cole's warped, howling-at-the-moon style of singing. Mention just has to be made of guitarist Allen Appel, whose playing is superb on this, and indeed on every track, his Telecster twang matches perfectly with Cole's barking vocals. I do love to hear the sound of an accordion, especially when used in country-rock and honky-tonk and Barbara Basinger does a great job especially on tracks such as "Van Gogh's Moon", a slow ballad about a guy fondly looking at a picture of an old lover, now full of regret at losing her - sung with conviction, but delivered in that special Cole Mitchell way. Cole wrote all ten tracks and produced the album himself and has done a fine job. A standout track for me is "Bye Bye Baby", a fast paced rockabilly song about losing your job and having to leave town and family to find work far away. The track is sung as if Cole had done exactly that, well he probably has. This is not an easy-to-listen to collection of songs, but it does have appeal. Perhaps somewhat limited due to the vocal delivery, and some of the lyrics, but I have to say the more you listen to it, the more you like it. If you like a bit of cow punk mixed with the quirkiness, of say... the Knitters, you will like this. Well worth a try, but best taken with something strong, preferably in a bottle. JHS
Best of 2007
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As usual my list with favorite records of this year. Thanks for the great music. Kind Regards, ...As usual my list with favorite records of this year. Thanks for the great
www.altcountrycooking.nl / Blueprint
www.bogdike.nl / Blueprint
Best Of 2007 www.dutchrootsradio.com
Roots / Americana
Dustin Bentall – Streets With No Lights
Jimmy Lafave – Cimarron Manifesto
Perry Keyes – The Last Ghost Train Home
Romi Mayes – Sweet Somethin’ Steady
John Fogerty – Revival
Dave Gleason’s Wasted Days – Just Fall To Pieces
Eilen Jewell – Letters From Sinners &
Gordy Quist – Here Comes The Flood
Ron Lasalle – Nobody Rides For Free
Rench – Life In Mean Season
Cole Mitchell - Invictus
Don’t Forget: The Dam, Rachel Harrington, Jenny Whiteley, Jenny Stearns, Stephen Simmons, Sam Baker, Steve Earle, Jason Isbell, Ry Cooder, Richard Stooksbury
Blues & Soul
Mavis Staples – We’ll Never Turn Back
Bettye Lavette – The Scene Of The Crime
Watermelon Slim & The Workers – The Wheel Man
Eugene Hideaway Bridges – Self Titled
The Mannish Boys – Big Plans
Ruthie Foster – The Phenomenal
Jim Byrnes – House Of refuge
Ian Siegal – Swagger
Big Blind – Dressed To Win
Johnny Sansone – Poor Man’s Paradise
Mason Casey – Sofa King Badass
Don’t Forget: Ellis Hooks, Doug Jay & The Blue Jays, Bill Sheffield, Barbeque Bob & The Spareribs, Gina Sicilia, The Twisters, Philip Walker, Billy Jones, Johnny Mastro & Mamas Boys
Primordial Reckoning/ Interview
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 Interview with Cole Mitchell Category: Music ........ Inte...Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Interview with Cole Mitchell
Interview with Cole Mitchell
Ch.L.: What's your latest CD and how's it doing?
Answer: We have just released Primordial Reckoning and the reception has been good so far in the Euro Americana and American roots market.
Ch.L.: How did you choose the title for the CD, is there a story behind it?
Answer: Yes, there is a story. As a matter of fact fans can find many elaborations on songs I’ve written and other points of interest, on my website, such as this one:
Primordial reckoning in this context is dealing with one’s past in the mist from whence we came and after doing so hopefully recognizing the light that illuminates the exit from this stage to the next. Now this is no small feat, to even slow down long enough to recognize what’s always been there. For we as human beings move as instinctively to distraction as a herd of cattle going to water, almost mindless, or with no mind fullness. So familiar are we with the mind of distraction that it is effortless to find. Slowing down long enough to recall, much less study, the history we have at our grasp can be tedious, almost painful, especially when we are trying to highlight the mistakes and misdeeds that have caused us misfortune. With careful contemplation, it is without question always ourselves who are the culprits of blame.
So vigorously do we try to shirk responsibility for these actions that the recountings become more and more elaborate as time goes on until our rose-colored history is woven into the fabrics of our minds. Mindfulness and contemplation, avoiding distraction, slowing down and going inside to study what has actually gone on and why, although extremely difficult, is necessary to keep from committing the same mistakes over and over and therefore reducing the difficulties we create for ourselves.
A primordial reckoning may sound like a one-time housecleaning, organizing our thoughts and memories into an understanding of what has and will happen; but, once the reckoning has begun, one is locked into a continuous analytical process the duration of which hinges solely on the effort applied. To this end, we spend our lives on the path seeking illumination from entrance to exit, one stage to the next, and one moment to the next. If our contemplation has been correct, we will have realized early on that to make a journey so long and tedious it’s a pretty good idea to have an experienced guide, one who’s made the trip, who knows the way.
Ch.L.: What's the difference between your last CD and the current one?
Answer: This CD takes me back to my roots, hence the title. It was a lot of fun making an all acoustic record. That’s not generally my style.
Ch.L.: How much creative control do you have over your music?
Answer: I am luckier than most because I have 100% creative control. I write arrange and produce all of my music. It’s not that I wouldn’t give up some of the production control, its just that I haven’t found the right person to work with as of yet.
Ch.L.: As an artist you have to do so many different things such as recording, touring, doing interviews etc. What do you like best, what's your favorite activity?
Answer: I enjoy my job and all aspects of it. There’s nothing like seeing your visions come to life in a recording, but my favorite part is always communicating with an audience, the fans.
Ch.L.: Are you doing anything to take country music beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?
Answer: Myself and many others in the Americana genera are taking all kinds of roots music to different platoes these days. Myself I am always interested in blending the styles of music I have been influenced by and hopeful coming up with something completely different.
Ch.L.: What inspired you to become an artist?
Answer: I was inspired at an early age by what was going on around me. I hit the road at sixteen and began documenting everything I saw in the form of song. There is a lot going on out there and I have a lot to say about it. That’s my inspiration.
Ch.L.: Is there any place you haven't played that you would like to?
Answer: I’m always looking for new places to take my music. I have received such a warm welcome through European radio that I’m very interested in bring my live shows to that audience.
Ch.L.: What can your fans expect to see when they see you in concert?
Answer: I perform two ways, sometimes with my band, the Curs, which is made up of a long list of my musical companions; not always the same group. But a lot of times I perform solo and in this raw form fans can expect to experience my songs just the way they were written.
Ch.L.: Many music fans today get their information about artists via the internet. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?
Answer: Fans are always welcome to visit my website Colemitchellmusic.com. There they can find out just what I’m up to, find pictures and all the press that’s fit to print as well as posting on my news/journal page, which I contribute to regularly. So there is always something new to read.
Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )
Sets average from 40 to 90 minutes depending on the venue. Sets are compiled from previous releases and sometimes include new songs to be tested, or covers which may include "Dallas" by the Flatlanders, "Dead Flowers" and "Sweet Virginia" by the Rolling Stones, etc.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.