Happy Birthday, Kenny: A Tribute to Kenny Rogers ⫸ ⫸ ⫸ ⫸ ⫸
Perpetual Doom is proud to present Happy Birthday, Kenny: A Tribute to Kenny Rogers. Bringing together an oddball mix of artists from across the country, this collection celebrates the outlaw at heart of The Gambler. From his early work with the First Edition to his golden hits and legendary duets, Rogers’ catalogue of chart-toppers gets reimagined by some of indie music’s most singular outsiders. The familiar becomes new and strange again in this lovingly curated tribute, which includes Califone, Mira & Maia Macdonald, Little Wings, Suzanne Vallie, Austin Leonard Jones, Karl Blau, Diane Cluck, Graves, Jeffrey Silverstein, Jesse Woods, Michael Nau, Pearl Charles & Michael Rault, Doug Tuttle, Longriver, Tommy and the Ohs, and St. Yuma,.
No one knows Kenny like this. On Happy Birthday, Kenny, one of country music’s biggest stars shares the limelight with leading underground musicians. His most hummable melodies meet new voices and serendipitous arrangements. From tracks that center the indelible tunes and storytelling—like Austin Leonard Jones’ lo-fi rendition of nostalgic baseball yarn “The Greatest” and Longriver’s gentle cover of “Love Will Turn You Around”—to those that find something unexpected in old favorites—like Mirah and Maia Macdonald’s sultry and angular take on “Islands in the Stream,” Rogers’ classic duet with Dolly Parton—the result is a tribute album that relishes Kenny Rogers’ ability to unite timelessness and novelty. Each contributor shares a short personal reflection on their relationship to Rogers’ legacy and music.
Release Date: August 20, 2021
1. Austin Leonard Jones - The Greatest
2. Califone - Coward Of The County
3. Diane Cluck - We’ve Got Tonight
4. Doug Tuttle - Just Dropped In
5. Graves - Lucille
6. Tommy and The Ohs - Sweet Music Man
7. Jeffrey Silverstein - Share Your Love With Me
8. Jesse Woods - Lady
9. Karl Blau - The Gambler
10. Little Wings - You Decorated My Life
11. Longriver - Love Will Turn You Around
12. Michael Nau - Till I Get It Right
13. Mirah (ft. Maia Macdonald) - Islands in the Stream
14. Pearl Charles & Michael Rault - Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town
15. St. Yuma - Take This Heart
16. Suzanne Vallie - Morning Desire
17. Lee Baggett - Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer
Austin Leonard Jones
A native Texan, Austin Leonard Jones is a prolific songwriter who now resides in Ojai, CA. Austin sings insightful, and at times humorous, songs about life, death and finding the perfect coffee shop that doesn’t stare at you while they make a pour over.
"I love songs about sports. Ironically I am not a sports fan. This song rolls like a small movie, no doubt because it was written by Donald Alan Schlkitz, the master storyteller behind Kenny's other hit "The Gambler". Kenny is like sports to me."
Califone is a music collective led by Tim Rutili, with a rotating list of contributors and longtime collaborators. Formed out of the Chicago band Red Red Meat, Califone explores the tension between experimental noise, acoustic texture, technology, humanity, cinematic images, and microscopic poetry, with more than a dozen albums of sleeper hits and enduring classics.
"Some days I prefer a more suave, less country Kenny but on this day I felt the country/humble/rural dude Kenny that overcomes self doubt to exact revenge in the name of love. Plus - the great Brad Wood contributed some very sweet keyboard pulse and mixed this track. Plus - this song is also a movie that I have never seen starring Kenny Rogers as a preacher and uncle of the protagonist. Plus - Kyle Field was kind enough to trade songs when "You Decorated My Life" became too heavy for me."
Diane Cluck is a musician and teacher living in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"I chose this song from the jukebox of my childhood mind. It had a romantic drama that spoke to horizons beyond my experience in a way that felt tender and exciting. Kenny frequently appeared on TV when I was a kid--The Barbara Mandrell Show, The Muppet Show, Christmas specials. He had a warm and handsome presence and seemed like family."
Massachusetts singer,-songwriter and guitarist Doug Tuttle makes relaxed music that harkens back to the hazy days of 70's psychedelia and rock.
Portland, Oregon's Graves revolves around songwriter Greg Olin’s unique vision: blending accessible, melodic songwriting with skewed lyrics, breezy arrangements, a mid-fi (somewhere between lo-fi and radio sheen) production aesthetic, and Olin’s earnest guy-next-door vocal delivery.
“Sometimes I can pair the the year I first heard a song with the type of baseball card I was collecting at the time. Kenny Rogers “Lucille” was definitely 1987 Topps, which makes me 12 years old. It was this song along with Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” and maybe Billy Joel's “Goodnight Saigon” that I realized that song writing could be straight up story telling. Previously it was all abstract units of sound that I could sorta sing along too - Steve miller’s “Abracadabra” & Eurythmics “here comes the rain again” (1986 topps). These story telling types of songs broadened my experience with music and drew me in as a listener."
Jeffrey Silverstein is a musician, writer, and teacher living in Portland, Oregon. He has been making music for over a decade.His debut full-length, You Become The Mountain, is out now via Arrowhawk Records.
Silverstein released "You Become the Mountain", his first LP for Arrowhawk Records on April 3, 2020.
"Learning someone else's songs can be a wonderful way to shift your own approach. I often do this when feeling stale or stuck with my own ideas. Despite being unfamiliar with the Kenny Rogers catalogue at large, working on 'Share Your Love With Me' was a rewarding experience and opportunity to practice collaborating remotely. Honored to be on comp alongside so many talented artists. Thanks for the music, Kenny."
Jesse Woods is an Austin-based singer-songwriter and rock musician.
Karl Blau is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and DIY icon who helped turn his hometown of Anacortes, Washington, into an indie-music mecca. He has released more than 40 records in 20-odd years, many self-released in handmade packaging and mailed to subscribers, and others on iconic indie Northwest labels K and knw-yr-own. Blau has also toured and recorded for years with Laura Veirs, the Microphones, Little Wings, D+, and Earth.
"I cannot separate this song from my childhood. As a kid, AM radio station listening in the back seat of the car on rainy drives. I think I've wept countless times during that breakdown. This version I decided to create in a minor key - mostly it's a sad tale. But of course I couldn't resist the outro becoming a major feeling because in the song there is hope that the message gets through. I still think about this message constantly being a gambler myself as a songwriter."
A West Coast journeyman of many years and sometimes guitarist for Little Wings, Lee Baggett casts something of an enigmatic shadow in the indie rock world. His most recent album, "Just A Minute", has received high praise from fans and critics alike.
"In the golden days, the top 40 station never turned. Riding back from the ski peak in the Oldsmobile, dreaming and sunburned. Slow skate at the roller rink, Casey Kasem's Sunday morning countdown. Kim joined Kenny about the same time the dial creeped up from Y94 to 95 KBOS. The golden days became a dream, the diamonds turned to rust."
Little Wings is Kyle Field's band since 1998... Exploring themes of loneliness and togetherness with oneself and others, the music tries to capture through poetry the feelings of being a human being and match words with their appropriate tone and color. To be alive.
"When I was 8 years old, my father like many bought Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” at Walmart or some old place. The songs each had a special power over me. They seemed like life lessons but for adults and I felt I was receiving an early peek into the shape of things to come. I remember playing the card game “UNO” with my family on vacation at some lake house and timing a sip on my Country Time Lemonade with the line “and he drank down my last swallow”. I was wearing overalls and felt like a child extra actor on “Hee Haw”. That’s when I knew I would be somebody someday.”
Jason Frank Rothenberg
Longriver, a singer-songwriter and poet from Austin, Texas. After a decade on the road with different bands, David Longoria set out on a path of artistic re-invention under the name Longriver. With a finger-picking style and a voice like a sharp and flowing water, Longriver turns the mirror back on the world with earnest and captivating tone.
"I have always had a connection with Kenny Rogers. I'm familiar with a lot of his music even though I really only know his hits. We were both born in August in Houston, and we went to the same college. This song has that bright "Tears but Joy" quality, and it's about the power of love. The version I made is more temperate, recorded on 4 track cassette, in the apartment living room in the four-plex, April 2020, with Jess Longoria contributing backing vocals."
Jackie Lee Young
Colombian-American producer, songwriter, artist. Thinking about sound and memory, images, archives, process.
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Michael Nau crafts reflective indie rock tinged with folk, psychedelic, and vintage pop influences. He's known for leading the like-minded projects Page France and Cotton Jones from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s before beginning to record under his own name in 2016.
“To be honest, I had to familiarize myself with a large part of the library. the songs I’d known had been picked over, which gave me an opportunity to look a bit deeper. Glad I did. I made a playlist, lived with it for a few days, and ‘til I get it right’ kept popping out at me as one that could work with the tools that I had.“
Michael Rault is a Canadian born singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Rault left his hometown in early adulthood to enmesh himself in the music scenes of first Toronto and then Montreal, before most recently relocating to the USA and the California Mojave desert / Joshua Tree area.
Throughout the past decade and some, he has released multiple critically acclaimed albums, EPs and singles on various venerable indie labels before settling into his current musical home of Wick Records, a subsidiary of the mighty Daptone Record company. With the help of Daptone mainstay producer Wayne Gordon (Kali Uchis, Bruno Mars), Rault recorded his 2018 Wick debut album “It’s a New Day Tonight” at the Daptone studio in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Utilizing the analogue soul based sound for which the studio is famous (Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones) to craft a psychedelic power pop album reminiscent of the post Beatles sounds of Big Star and Badfinger, and leaning into the later more progressive pop territories of subversive 70’s chart toppers like ELO & 10cc.
When he’s not letting his own personal freak flag fly with his eclectic solo project, Rault also ventures out as a session player on various instruments, playing and contributing arrangements both live and in the studio for an impressive list of modern indie bands, including US Girls and Pearl Charles among others. Recently Rault was recruited as a guitar player in the revived line up of the legendary 70’s Zambian psychedelic rock band, WITCH, alongside Jacco Gardener, and members of L’Éclair & Mauskovic Dance Band.
As an experienced touring musician, Rault has played many shows, amassing hundreds of hours of live playing experience and has shared stages with many of the most legendary bands of the past and present of psych, rock & soul including (just to name a few) Shuggie Otis, Charles Bradley, Os Mutantes, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Whitney, Homeshake, Thee Oh Sees, Mild High Club, Cut Worms and many more.
Rault’s 2nd album with the Wick imprint is currently finished and awaiting release, likely in the new year. Recorded before and during the Covid 19 pandemic and societal shut down, the release date has yet to be announced, but we can tell you that the album is a continuation of Rault’s increasingly deep exploration of the worlds of progressive pop, psych folk, yacht rock and “too slow to disco” drug fueled dance floor slow steppers.
Brooklyn-based Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn (b. 1974, Philadelphia) creates incorruptible independent pop music defined by her graceful songwriting and adventuresome recordings. Mirah has released over a dozen solo and collaborative recordings on K Records, Kill Rock Stars and various US domestic and foreign independent labels while touring the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand many times since 1998.
"Truth be told I am a huge Dolly fan and that was the reason why I chose this duet to cover. But another truth- I grew up in the 80’s listening to, among other things, lots of pop radio. So I bopped around to every KR hit that crossed over from the country chart many, many a time. And another thing, if you‘ve never had the pleasure of watching KR sing The Gambler on The Muppet Show, treat yourselves to a youtube sesh right now and enjoy!"
Pearl Charles lives in the moment, seeking excitement whether it leads her down a dark, dusty road or into the arms of a trouble-making lover. Her songs describe late night revelry, love affairs, running away and running towards, serenading the sunrise through whirlwind stories of her native Los Angeles, the city, the canyon, the desert, and the road. On a quest to discover the truest version of herself, Charles embraces the feeling of not being settled, a person that always restlessly wants more from life and will chase it down. Pearl has been playing music since she was five years old. At 18, she formed country duo The Driftwood Singers with Christian Lee Hutson, singing and playing guitar and autoharp. At 20, she joined garage rock band The Blank Tapes as a drummer. After a few fun-filled years immersed in the rock and roll lifestyle, she decided it was time to pursue her own songwriting and began developing the songs that formed 2015’s eponymous debut EP. Her music career has been a chronological progression from old-time music to 60’s garage and psychedelia, and now to more 70’s and 80’s country and soft rock. Gravitating towards catchy, poppy hooks and choruses, Charles draws from what she loves about each era while developing her unique style and voice as a musician, singer, and songwriter.
"Having just spent a week in a studio where Kenny Rogers himself recorded, I was re-acquainted with why I love the man so much in the first place. From Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In) to Islands in the Stream, Kenny had a voice of gold that transcended eras and genres and can perfectly soundtrack any moment. Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town became my favorite Kenny Rogers song the moment I heard it and is one of my go-to DJ staples, so naturally I jumped at the chance to cover this classic country gem."
St. Yuma is a Texas based band formed in 2015 in Seattle, WA by brothers Stevan & Zack Alva. Their sophomore album Lights Out, Lonely Birds was released May, 1st of 2021.
"We are honored to celebrate “The Gambler” with a cover of Take This Heart. Kenny was truly a one of a kind!"
Suzanne Vallie is a poet and songwriter inspired by all-day drives, the lonely magic of far-out places, and how far love can follow. She released her folk-rock album, Love Lives Where Rules Die, in 2020 on Night Bloom Records, much of it written while driving Highway 1 on California's Central Coast.
"Kenny Rogers is a master storyteller singer. "Morning Desire" is simple. Being in bed with you is better than anything past the blankets. Released in 1985, it doesn't follow along with other hits of the time where sex was corralled into the midnight hours. Sometimes, braggardly, lasting all night long. But Kenny lets us know with his generous warmth, it's 7am and we are so fine he's going to be late for work."
Tommy and The Ohs
Nashville based producer Thomas Oliverio has long lived at the confluence of American roots music & the avant-garde. Most notably known for his work with the influential group Bawn in the Mash, Tommy and The Ohs launched in 2013 with the release of Living in the Swamp, recorded live to tape at RCA Studio A. His debut album- the long awaited psychedelic opus de heartbreak Mariposa Gold, will be released March 18, 2022 via Perpetual Doom.
"My mom attended a Kenny Rogers concert while pregnant, claiming I kicked along to the beat of each song; A few months later I was born on August 21. As a songwriter, I wanted to pay tribute to my astrological contemporary by selecting an original composition, and humbly present this interpretation of Sweet Music Man for your listening consideration.”
Credits: Produced by Thomas Oliverio, featuring Jimmy Matt Rowland (keys, drum programming) and Adam Donald (pedal steel). Mixed by Jack Tripper at The Bomb Shelter, Nashville, Tennessee.