TITLE: MILE-HIGH RODEO

ARTIST: JOHANNA DIVINE

LABEL: JOHANNA DIVINE

RELEASE DATE: 2010

By Joel Okida

Johanna_DivineJohanna Divine’s Mile-High Rodeo is an instant Americana classic. Just like that! Every song gleans from a different roots music genre and adds what appears to be a Divine touch. She possesses a real knack for melodic hooks, a skill honed, perhaps, from writing jingles for local merchants in Lafayette, Louisiana, her hometown of the past several years. Then there’s the voice; not a seductive Crystal Gayle soprano, nor a lean and stern Tammy Wynette croon, but an up front mid-range that gets the most out of her Knoxville, Tennessee delivery. Divine does not shy away from any style from the Americana catalog. All songs are originals, but you know she’s been around the jukebox of country, swing, jazz, rockabilly, honky-tonk, and torch songs, absorbing a lot of that true grit from the 1930s to the 1960s eras.

With noted Louisiana musical legend Dirk Powell (Balfa Toujours, Loretta Lynn) as producer, the songs are given a knowing embellishment and allow for Divine’s vocals and lyrics to shine. This is not to say that the musicians who play on this album, give just a workmen-like effort. Those familiar with the work of fiddler Kevin Wimmer, bassist Eric Frey, and drummer Glenn Fields, know they are a talented and versatile threesome from southwest Louisiana’s Red Stick Ramblers. The Louisiana influence is heard throughout whether it be the rolling New Orleans piano accompaniment from David Egan or the multi-tasking Powell on accordion, banjo, piano, guitar or backing vocals. Young lions, Chris Stafford on guitar, and Chris Segura on fiddle, members of Lafayette’s Feufollet band, join in on the sessions, too. Yet it’s Divine’s personal touch that prevails throughout, as the hometown production and local musicians influence is not overplayed. Powell lets you feel the strength of the songwriting and that divine Divine Knoxville drawl.

Johanna-Divine--by-Jillian-Johnson1The highlights are many and the rare accomplishment is her ability to make you want to sing along to both the melancholy songs as well as the upbeat swing tunes. There’s no compromise in quality as she moves around the aforementioned categories. The opening Done ‘em In, a melancholy tune of faded good times, is a honky-tonk two-step set in a lonely barroom, one whose clients’ best years are now reminiscing in old photographs. Old country lament a la Patsy Cline, Bright Side is a slow burning break-up song and Divine squeezes out the blood and the blues while trying to convince herself that she can find some optimism after a break-up. Why Do Today is a happy-go-lucky country swing song dedicated to the art of procrastination and highlighted by Wimmer’s lively fiddle work. Lulu Saint Marie is a sweet evocation of the prowess of a certain working girl. David Egan’s lone piano accompaniment helps imagine Divine singing this in a French Quarter watering hole with Lulu working the room. The last song Beelinin’, a simple and direct Western Swing love song bounces with infectious rockabilly rhythm and some fat guitar licks.

Descriptions of Divine and her life’s varied paths seem to indicate that she is a modern day renaissance woman; one whose experience and travels seem to have flavored her songwriting as she deftly paints each tune with seeming old pro knowledge of her craft. Originally conceived to be just her and her guitar, Mile-High Rodeo, went deeper and got wider with Powell’s assistance and the band he brought in. But the songs would stand up on their own if she sat and strummed that guitar and sang all by herself. There is a kind of verisimilitude that Divine generates which apparently comes from a musician who has listened and learned from those that came before.

Joel Okida is a struggling artist, struggling writer, and struggling musician. It occurs to him that life is all about the struggle. Fortunately, he did not take up acting. However, he's not half-bad as a zydeco dancer and the ability to make a mean gumbo and lovely walnut tortes has gotten him by.

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Joel Okida is a struggling artist, struggling writer, and struggling musician. It occurs to him that life is all about the struggle. Fortunately, he did not take up acting. However, he's not half-bad as a zydeco dancer and the ability to make a mean gumbo and lovely walnut tortes has gotten him by. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

TITLE: MILE-HIGH RODEO

ARTIST: JOHANNA DIVINE

LABEL: JOHANNA DIVINE

RELEASE DATE: 2010

By Joel Okida

Johanna Divine’s Mile-High Rodeo is an instant Americana classic. Just like that! Every song gleans from a different roots music genre and adds what appears to be a Divine touch. She possesses a real knack for melodic hooks, a skill honed, perhaps, from writing jingles for local merchants in Lafayette, Louisiana, her hometown of the past several years. Then there’s the voice; not a seductive Crystal Gayle soprano, nor a lean and stern Tammy Wynette croon, but an up front mid-range that gets the most out of her Knoxville, Tennessee delivery. Divine does not shy away from any style from the Americana catalog. All songs are originals, but you know she’s been around the jukebox of country, swing, jazz, rockabilly, honky-tonk, and torch songs, absorbing a lot of that true grit from the 1930s to the 1960s eras.

With noted Louisiana musical legend Dirk Powell (Balfa Toujours, Loretta Lynn) as producer, the songs are given a knowing embellishment and allow for Divine’s vocals and lyrics to shine. This is not to say that the musicians who play on this album, give just a workmen-like effort. Those familiar with the work of fiddler Kevin Wimmer, bassist Eric Frey, and drummer Glenn Fields, know they are a talented and versatile threesome from southwest Louisiana’s Red Stick Ramblers. The Louisiana influence is heard throughout whether it be the rolling New Orleans piano accompaniment from David Egan or the multi-tasking Powell on accordion, banjo, piano, guitar or backing vocals. Young lions, Chris Stafford on guitar, and Chris Segura on fiddle, members of Lafayette’s Feufollet band, join in on the sessions, too. Yet it’s Divine’s personal touch that prevails throughout, as the hometown production and local musicians influence is not overplayed. Powell lets you feel the strength of the songwriting and that divine Divine Knoxville drawl.

The highlights are many and the rare accomplishment is her ability to make you want to sing along to both the melancholy songs as well as the upbeat swing tunes. There’s no compromise in quality as she moves around the aforementioned categories. The opening Done ‘em In, a melancholy tune of faded good times, is a honky-tonk two-step set in a lonely barroom, one whose clients’ best years are now reminiscing in old photographs. Old country lament a la Patsy Cline, Bright Side is a slow burning break-up song and Divine squeezes out the blood and the blues while trying to convince herself that she can find some optimism after a break-up. Why Do Today is a happy-go-lucky country swing song dedicated to the art of procrastination and highlighted by Wimmer’s lively fiddle work. Lulu Saint Marie is a sweet evocation of the prowess of a certain working girl. David Egan’s lone piano accompaniment helps imagine Divine singing this in a French Quarter watering hole with Lulu working the room. The last song Beelinin’, a simple and direct Western Swing love song bounces with infectious rockabilly rhythm and some fat guitar licks.

Descriptions of Divine and her life’s varied paths seem to indicate that she is a modern day renaissance woman; one whose experience and travels seem to have flavored her songwriting as she deftly paints each tune with seeming old pro knowledge of her craft. Originally conceived to be just her and her guitar, Mile-High Rodeo, went deeper and got wider with Powell’s assistance and the band he brought in. But the songs would stand up on their own if she sat and strummed that guitar and sang all by herself. There is a kind of verisimilitude that Divine generates which apparently comes from a musician who has listened and learned from those that came before.

Joel Okida is a struggling artist, struggling writer, and struggling musician. It occurs to him that life is all about the struggle. Fortunately, he did not take up acting. However, he's not half-bad as a zydeco dancer and the ability to make a mean gumbo and lovely walnut tortes has gotten him by.