Stace England

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Greetings From Cairo, Illinois, Gnashville Sounds Records, 2005
Stace England Vocals, Guitar
Jimmy Salatino Lead & Slide Guitar, Bass (Grant Slept Here & Buy My Votes)
Charlie Morrill Drums (Grant Slept Here & Buy My Votes)
Woodbox Gang: Hugh DeNeal, Alex Kirt, Dean Thiebaud, Pete McRaven, Brian DeNeal Vocals (Equal Opportunity Lynch Mob & The North Starts In Cairo)
Gutter Swans: Shaun Mason, Glenn Giffin, Shane Henderson, Rob Sherman Vocals (White Hat)
The Implications: John Brown, Dan Fox, Dane Spalt Vocals (Far From The Tree, Jesse's Comin' To Town & Can't We All Get Along)
Jason Ringenberg Lead Vocal, Harmonica (Prosperity Train)
George Bradfute Lead Guitar, Bass (Prosperity Train)
Steve Ebe Drums (Prosperity Train)
Gäste:
Julie Sommer, Chris McKinley, Rob Sherman, Jon Merz, Matt Workman, Rum Runners Horns
Produziert von: Stace England & Mike Lescelius Länge: 41 Min 00 Sek Medium: CD
1. Going Down To Cairo 7. White Hats
2. Cairo Blues 8. Jesse's Comin' To Town
3. Grant Slept Here 9. Buy My Votes
4. Equal Opportunity Lynch Mob 10. Prosperity Train
5. The North Starts In Cairo 11. Can't We All Get Along
6. Far From The Tree
 
When you see the CD cover and the title you’re naturally and immediately reminded of Springsteen’s "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.Y."   But that is completely inaccurate, as the CD does not fit that style.  A work can focus on people in one place, and stories that may or may not be true.  However Stace England is not content with everyday life stories, but has immersed himself in detail with the history of that city at the place where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet.  You can read on his homepage, somewhat more exactly, about the characteristics of Cairo, Illinois.
 
The musical historical tour begins with a choir in gospel-influenced A Cappella, like from many an old Western, or something similar to music in the film "O Brother Where Are Thou.”  It’s a good beginning, and sets the mood.  With the title Cairo Blues you already know the style of the next number. It’s country acoustic blues from the year 1929.
 
Stace supplies lyrics and a small story for each song in the booklet with the background of each song.  Grant Slept Here brings more momentum into the story. The history of the civil war general is conveyed in country/swamp style, that comes in quite powerfully, and the slide guitar reminds me of the sound of Sonny Landreth.
 
There were race conflicts in Cairo perhaps more frequently than in other American cities, and it was also home to surely one of the most inglorious chapters in African American history – the Will James lynching on 11 November 1909. Stace takes this history in Equal Opportunity Lynch Mob in the form of a kind of acoustic country sing along and it sounds somewhat sarcastic, as "Lynch Mob" comes to the conclusion again and again: "Justice should colorblind".
 
Travel is taken up with The North Starts in Cairo, which makes clear with quick country speed that blacks had to sit separately on their way from the south to Chicago. Starting in Cairo they did not have to be separated by a curtain from the other passengers on the bus. Appropriately, this song uses slide guitar and the melody rolls.
 
Far From The Tree moves more into the roots/Americana corner and also sounds very good.  It reminds me in parts of Chris Knight.  Naturally the apple, "doesn’t fall far from the tree" as we know in this country. The background thereby that the racism of parents still clings to the children and oppresses them is something we know well.
 
And this story line does not diminish on the following song White Hats, it’s another story of a murder of a black man named Robert Hunt. It hits a swamp groove, and with beautiful slide and a honky tonk piano, you can simply rock along with the serious topic. If you catch yourself however, you’ll remember the fact that all these stories are true or at least on based on true occurrences.
 
Jesse's Comin’ to Town moves the music in the disco direction. Stace sings in a falsetto, as Mick Jagger has happily used with similar songs, and lies somewhere between the Stones disco trips around 1980 and the dance grooves of the 70's. Naturally it concerns the black civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who visited the city in 1967, when the waves struck around the equal rights of black and white particularly highly.
 
Buy My Votes - the title says everything already. Here we are again back in the swamp groove, which could have bubbled up from Louisiana. Again a beautifully edgy slide guitar from Jimmy Salatino.
 
With a whistle heard in the background, it rams and cooks, and rocks closely to the best JASON & THE SCORCHERS. Yes, this and the violently blown harmonica confirms: Jason Ringenberg is at work.   He also takes over the singing with Prosperity Train, which reminds me something of a sped up Six Days on The Road. George Bradfute is not Warner Hodges on guitar, but it sounds prime nevertheless.
 
Wrapping up in a mid tempo country song a la Gram Parsons, Stace asks the question Can't We All Get Along.  The title emerges in the chorus and rhymes with: "Together we could so strong".
 
“Stace England has made a strong work here. It is pleasing to the ear, creative in its variety and also offers some history, as well as food for thought. One is inclined to believe the songwriter when he says: ‘Cairo, Illinois is the most fascinating town in America’.”
 

See the original review in German here.