With River-Philip Rodriguez + Colin Carthen
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With River-Philip Rodriguez + Colin Carthen

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"A Folk DJ's Review of "Youth, Innocence and Pain" [Philip Rodriguez]"

Sometime in 1998, I was digging through the CD's that had come into the radio station where I do my eclectic folk/songwriter radio show and came upon a CD titled, "River Through The Sun," by a songwriter named Philip Rodriguez. I had never heard of Philip, but that was not surprising, as I was right coast and he was left coast. In any event, it proved to be a very pleasant discovery and I often played three or four favorite tracks on my show. Philip's record label name, "Jaguar Night," also struck a chord with me. I even put my favorite track. "Song For Noah," on one of my compilation CD's. In fact, a friend named that compilation, "Listen To This CD 2," as the best compilation CD she had ever heard.

Since 1998, I had been meaning to do a web search to see if Mr. Rodriguez had ever released a follow up CD. Sometimes daily life gets into the way of doing what we really want to do.

Needless to say, recently, I was excited to find out that Philip had just released a new CD, called, "Youth, Innocence, and Pain." When I received my copy of the disc, I gave it a spin.
"Youth" contains four cover tunes, a Dylan, two by the Late Great Townes Van Zandt, and one by Texas songwriter, Eric Taylor. My experience as a dj has been that very often my favorite tracks on singer-songwriter CD's wind up being the cover tunes, as most singer-songwriters songs can't compare with or run with the big dogs.

Alas, this was not the case. On first listening(s) Philip's songs stood out. However, his readings of Townes' "Highway Kind," and "Colorado Girl," made me want to pull out my Townes collection. I must admit that I am not familiar with Eric's own version of "Joseph Cross." However, I have long admired June Tabor's version of this dark, dark song. Mr. Rodriguez matches June's skill in mesmerizing the listener, but in his own fashion.
Finally, all I could think of when listening to Philip's, "Masters of War," was that he had a private audience with acting-president Bush and I heard this song like I had never heard it before, before Philip was led away in handcuffs.
Now the Philip Rodriguez songs: First let me say that I tend to like records that are not overproduced, records that are not filled with every flashy musician the artist has ever met. On several songs, there are background vocals by Philip's sister, Leticia and, on others, by Colin Carthen, with whom Philip is currently forming a musical partnership. On one track there is a piano and Philip also doubles on violin. Otherwise, it's Philip and his guitar. In my opinion, there is nothing better than a songwriter baring his soul with only the partial cover of his/her voice and guitar.
There are six vocal compositions. Philip fully commands your attention on them all. Verses like, "I thought I saw you in a hollow tree," pique your attention. The bluesy, "Hold You In My Heart," and its "constant ball and chain" chorus held my attention for its full 8:29. "Emiliano" with its guitar arpeggios and its starkness evokes a feeling of desperation, perhaps intended by its composer. "The End" is a distant cousin of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love," or The Youngbloods', "Get Together," but without the Pollyanna, unrealistic fantasizing.
"Santa Fe Trail" channels tunes like John Prine's "Green River," and sounds like a timeless classic. "River Through The Sun" was also the title track of Philip's first underrated CD, but his performance here adds to the original. In fact, the concept of this tune inspired me to write a song last year.

A word about Philip's guitar playing. It is strong, crisp and clear, and very effective. In fact, there is a hidden, unnamed track at the end which would do well to serve as an opening/theme song for a folky/singer-songwriter show, hint, hint, hint.

In summary, let me know when Philip is playing on the right coast. I want to be there!
- Ken Swiatek, FolKenS.uch, WJJW 91.1-FM


"Misc. Snippets About Philip Rodriguez + Colin Carthen"

“The touch of the master…I’m blown away.”
--Dave Stafford, Friday Folk-Off, KKUP

“Wow! I love his voice... If you haven’t heard Philip Rodriguez play live, you don’t want to miss it. …A wonderful singer-songwriter with a new cd.”
–Jackie Loken, Moonlight Trail, KKUP

“Phil is a wonderful and sincere songwriter, and singer, and an excellent guitarist.”
–Dick Brundle, Fiddling Cricket

“Philip Rodriguez's show is a recommended weekend ‘Eye-Opener.’"
–A&E Section, San Jose Mercury News

“A master finger-style guitarist …When Rodriguez sings, his universal themes of life's ups and downs come through in his alternative folk, Americana and country/folk songs and the twang of his guitar.”
–Nora Villagran, San Jose Mercury News

“He writes from the heart. He’s humble and his lyrics come from the soul. He’s written one of my all-time favorite songs, ‘River Through the Sun.’”
–Lisa Morales of the Houston-based band, “Sisters Morales.”

“Very timely indeed . . . a beautiful rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War.’ Very well done.”
–Jackie Loken, Moonlight Trail, KKUP

About River Through the Sun: “A spare, intimate portrait of a middle-aged man coming to terms with all that's good, bad and indifferent about being human -- the crucial mistakes, the emotional wounds, the children and the grandchildren, the sheer boredom of being alone -- River's ten, mostly acoustic tracks are a sometimes extraordinary testament to a pretty ordinary life.”
–Hobart Rowland, The Houston Press

“Rodriguez writes and performs in a minimalist, old-school, retro-folk music style sometimes reminiscent of his three major heroes: his older brother, David Rodriguez; early Leonard Cohen; and the late Townes Van Zandt. His very personal approach to songwriting is derived from the experience of working in the refineries and living in the suburbia of blue-collar, southeast Houston.”
–SonicGarden.com

“His music is rich and layered with a poetic sensibility. The lyrics convey intelligence and depth; they are the reflections of a man who has felt pain and struggled to overcome it. There is optimism in the music, though in a guarded, introspective kind of way.”
–Craig Howard, Houston City News

“His sound is somber and soulful; sad and yet, still uplifting.”
--4HORSEMEN Records

“Colin is amazing…totally amazing.”
--Dan’s Diatribe

"Powerful and soulful with amazing harmonies."
--Firesign Entertainment Group - misc.


"River Jewel"

"With River is an undiscovered jewel! Both Philip and Colin
are great songwriters."
Lisa Atkinson, KKUP - KKUP


Discography

The new With River CD--entitled "With River"--will be available for sale at CDBaby.net starting mid-June 2006. Clips from all songs on With River will be available for listening at the CDBaby link as soon as the CD is available for sale. Tracks from the With River CD can be heard at www.WithRiver.org. There is a line-up of live radio performances, starting with KPIG Please Stand By on June 11, 2006.

In addition, tracks can be heard at www.PhilipRodriguez.org from Philip Rodriguez's solo CDs, River Through the Sun and Youth, Innocence and Pain. "Youth"--Philip's 2005 CD--was honored with airplay (several tracks) on www.FolkScene.com and on KPFA. Both CDs have received airplay on many radio stations.
Finally, some of Colin's original songs can be heard at www.ColinCarthen.com

Photos

Bio

Featuring powerful vocal harmonies + an array of strings, in a new Americana/Alt-Folk sound.
Colin Carthen and Philip Rodriguez met at Espresso Garden, San Jose, in 2004. Each saw the other’s brilliance but their styles came from different musical roots. They found their common chord with vocal harmonies, guitars, mandolin and violin. With influences ranging from Townes Van Zandt, Tracy Chapman, Jeff Buckley, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, early Bob Dylan, late Johnny Cash (American Recordings), & The Soggy Bottom Boys (from O Brother Where Art Thou), their sound is unique--both driving and flowing.

They come together as WITH RIVER to create a brand new style of folk music that appeals to the angst of a younger generation and the wisdom of generations past. The combination of Colin’s soulful vocals and Philip’s roots-style guitar break down cultural barriers and win over the hearts and minds of fans of all ages and colors. With River has performed live on KPIG and KKUP. Listen to With River’s songs at www.WithRiver.org

"We need another Folk Scare and you guys are leading the way!" "Sleepy John" Sandidge, Please Stand By, KPIG

DETAILS about singer-songwriters PHILIP RODRIGUEZ + COLIN CARTHEN

Philip Rodriguez, after living his whole life in Houston, is a singer-songwriter who thought he knew Texas until he moved to the Bay Area in 2000. Philip's first CD album, River Through the Sun, tells the story of his life in the South. Another CD, Youth, Innocence and Pain, is beautiful and wistful, described by some as dark but actually filled with light, particularly in Philip’s master finger-style guitar work. Philip has enjoyed live and CD airplay on many California stations, including KPIG, KPFA, KZSC, KUSP, KKUP, and the syndicated show FolkScene (www.folkscene.com). Listen to Philip’s songs and see a video at the Music link of www.PhilipRodriguez.org

“Philip Rodriguez's show is a recommended weekend ‘Eye-Opener.’"
–A&E Section, San Jose Mercury News

“Phil is a wonderful and sincere songwriter, and singer, and an excellent guitarist.”
–Dick Brundle, Fiddling Cricket

“A master finger-style guitarist …When Rodriguez sings, his universal themes of life's ups and downs come through in his alternative folk, Americana and country/folk songs and the twang of his guitar.”
–Nora Villagran, San Jose Mercury News

“He writes from the heart. He’s humble and his lyrics come from the soul. He’s written one of my all-time favorite songs, ‘River Through the Sun.’”
–Lisa Morales of the Houston-based band, “Sisters Morales.”

Colin Carthen is a singer-songwriter and excellent guitarist. Young and at the start of his musical career, Colin is a prolific and gifted songwriter, a great vocalist and musician. His life experiences come through and hit you to the core in his raw and inspiring lyrics. He began his musical career in Providence, RI working in various genres from Alt-Folk to Hip Hop and R&B. Colin continues to draw fans from both coasts as his musical journey continues. Listen to Colin’s original music at www.ColinCarthen.com

“His sound is somber and soulful; sad and yet, still uplifting.”
--4HORSEMEN Records

“Colin is amazing…totally amazing.”
--Dan’s Diatribe