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Southern Nights -- "Southern Nights: Volume 1:Americana"
Paul Summers Jr. -- "Brag's A Good Dog" 
Paul Summers Jr. -- "Juggling Butterflies"

2001 Huckleberry Music Schedule 

Southern Nights 
"Southern Nights: Volume 1:Americana"
Reviewed By Michael P. Jones

My response to the "Southern Nights" CD can be summed up in one simple, but actually very descriptive word: "Wow!"

 "Southern Nights" is a trio that hails from the Portland Metropolitan Area and does things right -- or should I say "perfectly." Whether they are up on stage or in a studio, or just creating a package for their CD, they give their best and it comes through loud and clear.

This CD, titled "Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana," was released just in time for the New Millennium. The CD features thirteen outstanding songs, all new, that were written in 1999. Eleven of the tunes are written by Wayne Richards, with "Maybe" and "When We Were Young" co-written by Richards and Karolyn Laster.

Just who are "Southern Nights"? They are Wayne Richards, Carolyn Laster, and Cheri Brown, three incredibly talented individuals who have been gaining recognition as their music increases in momentum.

The past several years "Southern Nights" have performed at the prestigious "Stormy Weather Arts Festival" on the Oregon Coast, with their performances seeming to dominate the "Great Northwest Music Stage" at the Cascade Geographic Society's increasingly popular "Mount Hood Huckleberry Festival & Barlow Trail Days" and at the "Mount Hood Salmon & Mushroom Festival." Wherever they perform, audiences all seem to love them. Perhaps it's their particular style of New Folk that features all original songs which seem to touch everyone. Perhaps its their blend of outstanding guitar work with beautiful harmonies that seem to invoke continuous reveries once they stop performing on stage, or when the recording halts, as in the case of this CD.

The "Southern Nights" trio consists of a blend of individuals whose talents appear to be seemingly unlimited. And, if the CD "Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana" offers any sort of proof to this truth with its New Folk mood that's harnessed with an interesting and strong dose of Countried flavor, then we can hopefully expect even more recording projects from them.

All the vocals were done by Richards, Karolyn Laster, and Cheri Brown, with Richards on guitar. However, assisting on "Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana" were a number of people who are not only talented musicians, but also great friends of the three who wanted to lend a hand in making this recording project a reality. They include Ken Brewer on fancy guitar, Arlene Hale on bass, Tracy Grammer on violin and mandolin, Mike Pearson on piano and organ, Dave Griffith on flute and wind synthesizer, Gary Watters on synthesizer and keyboard, Mark Evilsizer on percussion and drums, and Doug Fulton on harmonica.

The songs featured on "Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana" are nothing short of being great. Which one is the best is difficult to say, and surely will provoke some arguments since you have 13 to listen to.

"Soup Surprise," the lead-off song on the CD, is a good illustration of Richard's work as a songwriter. With clever lyrics accompanied by country-flavored music, not to mention an appropriate illustration of a can of "Soup Surprise" inside the accompanying song booklet, it's a great beginning to an impressive CD.

"Billy the Kid and Soup Surprise,
two pretty good answers to what otherwise
Would still be a mystery to me
Billy the Kid and Soup Surprise,
the rain on the sage and a pink sunrise
It may be everything you'll ever need."

"So Easy" is probably the best song, and it rightfully deserves this credit since it made it into the finals of the Portland Songwriters Association's "Showcase Finals." However, in reality it's still difficult to say, since there are so many great tunes that are featured on this CD.

"Maybe," written by Richards and Laster, as well as their other jointly-written song, "When We Were Young," are two other favorites from the CD. Both are possessed by lyrics that will be long remembered by listeners as thought-provoking poetry.

"Country Love" is equally as good as any other stand-out song on the CD. Written by Richards, this tune portrays love, Country love, that is, that is masterfully crafted with lyrics that are interwoven into some interesting Country-Folk instrumentation that accents the song's message of simple living and appreciating the love that goes along with it.

"Cause nothing's like the way
my baby she says hello
She's happy just to see me
comin' home
She smiles and says I love you
and the long day slips away
She's in every Country Love Song
that they play."

"Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana" was produced, engineered, and mastered by the person the trio describes as "the patient, gifted genius of Gary Watters aka Pat Doro" of Take The Lid Off Productions. An impressive recording project, Watters (or is it really Doro?) has captured this threesome perfectly on disc.

As for the packaging on "Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana," credit goes to Kathleen Williams and Jerry Elparin of Magic Glass Photography. Their artistically-fashioned graphics are accented by some outstanding photography that dominates with a brilliant photo of a set of steps that appears to cascade down into a garden-like setting, while the back is occupied by a a lone yellow school bus maneuvering along an obviously misplaced modern asphalt roadway that cuts across a Western Desert landscape, as if to leave its own misplaced mark on this particular patch of earth.

As for the trio that makes up "Southern Nights," you'd be hard-pressed to find nicer people. Forget for a moment that they are talented; Richards, Laster, and Brown are the kind of folks that remind you of being as pure as the wind-driven snow, making them three individuals for whom you want nice things to come their way. Well, their CD is one heck of a blessing for all of them.

Wayne Richards is a singer/songwriter with his feet firmly planted flat on the ground as he reaches into everyday life and creates lyrics that most everyone can seem to identify with. He is a great guitarist who appears to literally invoke a kind of unique, quiet symphony with the music he creates.

Richards has a long tradition of performing, recording, and publishing. He is one of the founders of the "Portland Music Association".

A dedicated tunesmith, Richards has written hundreds of songs. One of his tunes, "So Easy," placed in the finals for the "Portland Songwriters Association Showcase," while "Blossoms of May" took second at the "Dallas Texas Songwriters All-State Gospel Competition."

Carolyn Laster is the second member of "Southern Nights" and is the primary promoter of her trio. She is also an accomplished writer and radio talk host who seems to be always in demand as a studio singer.

Laster is a national award winning singer who possesses an impressive range to her voice that has almost a magical quality to it. She was a member of a Regional Touring Champion Accapella Quartet and was invited to perform at the Arlene Snitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon and at the Superdome in New Orleans. But, her main talent clearly is when she is up on stage or in the recording studio performing as a member of "Southern Nights," capturing the songs with her beautiful harmonies or lead vocals.

Cheri Brown is the third member of the trio. An accomplished singer with impressive credentials, she was a member of the four- time Regional Champion Accapella Chorus in which her group was selected to perform in the multi-ethnic "Good in the Hood" production. She was also accepted as one of Portland Oregon's famous "Singing Christmas Tree" performers, and also toured and performed in Europe.

Brown is well-known for her beautiful vocals and perfect sense of timing, wonderful range, and world-class ear for music. She has opened for such entertainers as "Manhattan Transfer" as well as Roy Clark. Her role in "Southern Nights" brings an amazing range of experience and vocal gifts to the trio.

"Southern Nights" is a popular Northwest trio who can fill your musical needs with New Folk music that everyone should enjoy. With their beautiful harmonies and well-crafted songs, they're available for any venue wanting the best. With tunes ranging from the tender and sweet to love and sensitivity to the heart-tugging, not forgetting the toe tappin' to the get-out-on-the-dance-floor rhythms, as well as the just plain funny and slightly risqué, they perform all original music of the people.

This trio has now entered a new dimension for their music. Their CD "Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana" can now introduce new audiences to their original songs, as well as help to remind their ever-loyal followers that even when off stage their music can still entertain them.

The CD "Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana" is a must. To say the least it is impressive, from its great 13 songs to the captivating photography featured in its packaging. Clearly, if anything could best illustrate the talents and the professionalism of this trio known as "Southern Nights," it is this recording project that should create the mold for anyone willing to take to a studio and capture their music.

You can order The CD "Southern Nights Volume 1: Americana" by sending a check or money order for $15 (plus $3 for shipping) to: Green Swings Productions at P.O. Box 82267, Portland, Oregon 97282.

For touring and booking information on "Southern Nights", also contact Green Swings Productions by calling (503) 257-0643. You can even reach them via electronic mail at so_nights@yahoo.com or just be keeping your ears tuned in and listening to the sound of great music being carried out into the world by the wind; odds are it'll be the music of this talented trio.

[SPECIAL PERFORMANCE NOTE: "Southern Nights" has performed at the Cascade Geographic Society's 1998 and 1999 "Mount Hood Huckleberry Festival & Barlow Trail Days," and at the Society's 1998 and 1999 "Mount Hood Salmon & Mushroom Festival".]


Paul Summers Jr.
"Brag's A Good Dog" 

Reviewed By Michael P. Jones

Paul Summers Jr. is a singer-songwriter who specializes in promoting and sharing good music: his own! His Soft Alternative Rock tunes speak of the elements of life that all of us face; they are tunes that conjure up emotions that everyone has, but are probably too busy to stop and take notice of. This ability is clearly the art of a true tunesmith.

Summers has taken his music from the recording studio to the wide open road, performing in clubs, coffee houses, and concerts, and anywhere else where there's an audience. And, now with two CDs to his credit, he's even more determined to share his creativity with people who want to listen to both a gifted and energetic performer and a prolific songwriter who writes from the heart.

The story of Summers' struggle in the music business is similar to most other musicians: one heck of a lot of miles donated to the pock-marks of too many highways and back streets; living out of suitcases in dingy hotel rooms or anyplace he could toss his bedroll; and entertaining what has become a blur of people's faces in his audiences that, he cannot remember their names, only their reactions to his songs.

It's been a lot of years and many thousands of miles since Summers began traveling that unpredictable and the no-one-said-that-it-would-be-this-hard road as a professional in the music business. Today, having recorded two CDs featuring his original songs, there is a renewed sense of purpose to take to the road once again and hawk his creative wares. And why not, since his career is continuing to steadily build.

Summers comes from Las Vegas, Nevada, although you wouldn't believe this with his must-be-an-Oregonian mannerism and sincerity. Having come from a place that he describes as "culture-barren" and "synthetic" with all its glitz and glamour, he made the best of it and honed his skills as not only a musician, but as a tunesmith.

The Vegas nightclubs opened up opportunities for Summers and his music, especially when he began playing in the larger venues. He has opened for "Little Feat", "Devo", "Crash Test Dummies", and "The Smithereens", as well as "Matthew Sweet". At the 3,500 seat Hard Rock Hotel, he broke-in the audience for the legendary "Al Green".

In spite of Summers' success in Las Vegas, he soon realized that his original music would never get the support that his hard work should one day reap. So he headed out for the more artist-friendly Pacific Northwest, taking refuge along the Willamette River in Portland, where his creative juices not only flowed, but his stage personality blossomed. Revitalized by the rain that turned the landscape green, and the changing seasons, Summers' talent soared. The result was a revitalized confidence in his music, and a determination to share his songs with a variety of audiences.

Today, Summers is absolutely committed to his career as a singer-songwriter. He's an artist extraordinaire whose passion to his music and his down-to-earth approach to this way of life is illustrated in the CD "Brag's A Good Dog" and his latest recording "Juggling Butterflies", with his "Paul Summers Band".

The Northwest inspired Summers to write more original songs. These became a special 13-tune collection called "Brag's A Good Dog". This CD, whose title was taken from an old saying of his father, sent him on the road touring and showcasing his original songs. Two years passed, 1,400 copies of this recording sold, and radio stations in 22 states gave it airplay.

"Brag's A Good Dog" provides a full menu of the songwriting talents of Summers. With a voice often resembling that of Tom Petty, the lucky thirteen songs that are featured are as refreshing as a street poet's special collection of verse.

"You Deserve My Love" is a notable song, with a straight-forward message of music accented by a violin that's uniquely inserted in just the right places. "Spoiled Generation", with its folksy presentation and Bob Dylan-like harmonica makes this a notable traveling song that takes the listener on a journey. "Wayward Potion Blues", with its lyrics written in first-person, is also notable with it's brilliant harmonica work. The magic of the slide guitar in "Caught In The Maze" is refreshing. The title tune, "Brag's A Good Dog", an instrumental, demonstrates that Summers is master of the Folk guitar.

One of the main highlights of the CD "Brag's A Good Dog" is a song entitled "Doubts". This tune offers a lingering array of guitar mastery with haunting lyrics. It is not only brilliant but most assuredly addictive. Of all the thirteen offerings by this singer-songwriter on this CD, this best represents the talents of this artist.

Paul Summers Jr.
"Juggling Butterflies"

Reviewed By Michael P. Jones

Paul Summers Jr. is a singer-songwriter who specializes in promoting and sharing good music: his own! His Soft Alternative Rock tunes speak of the elements of life that all of us face; they are tunes that conjure up emotions that everyone has, but are probably too busy to stop and take notice of. This ability is clearly the art of a true tunesmith.

Summers has taken his music from the recording studio to the wide open road, performing in clubs, coffee houses, and concerts, and anywhere else where there's an audience. And, now with two CDs to his credit, he's even more determined to share his creativity with people who want to listen to both a gifted and energetic performer and a prolific songwriter who writes from the heart.

When Summers returned from the road to Portland, the experience clearly had nurtured his song writing talents even more. Next came the "Juggling Butterflies" CD which featured his latest songwriting direction, which he calls "ultra-honest personal tales that reflect my experiences, conclusions, and abilities as a singer, lyricist and guitarist."

Backed by a band, the "Juggling Butterflies" is special and reveals this singer-songwriter as a gifted performer whether it's in the studio or in a live performance. And, while reflecting on this latest recording venture, Summers describes the finished product as "ever-evolving", and whose "songs seem to playfully dance around the balance beam which ties good to bad; pain to joy; intuition to insensitivity; wisdom to carelessness."

Guest artists who appear on "Juggling Butterflies" include the following: Michael Keith Fouts on drums and percussion; DARA Quinn on keyboards and piano; Mike Dillon on conga drum and bongos; and Mike D on bass guitar. Summers plays guitar and harmonica.

Notable songs on "Juggling Butterflies" include: "Elizabeth", featuring Latin-influenced guitar work that takes you south of the border; "Cold Feet" with its haunting lyrics; and the beautiful and thought-provoking Folk Rock tune "What U Wish 4", whose words are accented by the sound of a fleeting harmonica.

Both of Summers' CDs can be purchased at Music Millenium and Locals Only. You can also order them directly from Summers by contacting him at: Autonomous Records CD, P.O. Box 56104, Portland, Oregon 97238-6104. 

"Brag's A Good Dog" sells for $15 (which includes shipping); "Juggling Butterflies" sells for $10 (which includes shipping); or both CDs for only $20 (which includes shipping). Or, you can take your chances by tracking him down at performances in clubs, coffeehouses, and festivals at just-about-anywhere along the West Coast and throughout the United States, and purchase them directly from the stage. 

Summers will also be one of the featured performers at the year 2000 "Mount Hood Huckleberry Festival & Barlow Trail Days". Be sure and stop by the Musician's Table during his performance to purchase your copy of the CD's.  

For additional information about Summers and his music, you can call him at (503) 285-1558. And, be sure to check out his website at www.mp3.com/pauljr to download songs and for other information such as tour and performance dates, or contact him via email at JamPAULjr@aol.com for updates. You can also get on his mailing list, which has grown to to over 800 interested listeners from around the U.S.A.