Appleseed Recordings is celebrating its 21st anniversary with a monumental 57-song compilation that illustrates some of the most important matters of our time: gun violence, the opioid epidemic, dark money in politics, criminal justice reform, weaponized misinformation, injustice at the U.S. southern border and much more.
The 3-CD Roots and Branches features contributions from singer-songwriters, blues and rock musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello, Donovan, Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, Roger McGuinn, Judy Collins, Ani DiFranco, Tim Robbins, John Wesley Harding, Tom Russell, Bonnie Raitt, Jesse Winchester, Pete Seeger and Jackson Browne.
Since its foundation in 1997, Appleseed has lent its voice to significant issue: protesting Apartheid in South Africa and the Iraq War, fighting for peace in Northern Ireland and marriage equality in the United States and much more. As Tom Morello says in the album’s liner notes, “a musician’s responsibility is a simple one, and that is, through your music, to tell the truth.”
Singer, songwriter and musician Bonnie Raitt has earned the Folk Alliance International’s 2018 People’s Voice Award. Presented annually, the award is intended to honor individuals who endeavor to take on social or political activism in conjunction with their artistic careers, as with 2017’s winner Canadian singer, songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn who has highlighted issues like the environment, human rights and politics through his music.
Championing environmental issues since the 1970s, Ms. Raitt has spoken out against the oil and gas industries and is a founding member of MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy), as well as called for the protection of forests and fought for clean water. As an advocate for The Guacamole Fund, Ms. Raitt aids non-profit organizations working to the goals of sustainable energy forms and environmental protections.
Known also for her political activism and her humanitarianism for help for victims of the 2004 southeast Asia tsunami, Ms Raitt has also been a champion to the Little Kids Rock organization that provides free musical instrument to children and helped finance memorial headstones for musicians like Dick Waterman, Memphis Minnie, Sam Chatmon and Tommy Johnson.
She’s piled up recordings like Give It Up, Takin’ My Time, Sweet Forgiveness, Nick of Time, Silver Lining and Slipstream. She earned double digit Grammy Awards, made Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time and earned a Lifetime Achievement award for Performance from Americana Music Honors and Awards and place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
If that weren’t enough she’s stretched her fame to influence fans by being a founding member of Musicians United for Safe Energy, donated a song to Aid Still Required’s CD to help victims of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, worked with the pro-environmental organization Reverb and is part of the No Nukes organization. She’s the blues singer, slide guitarist and songwriter Bonnie Raitt and she’s still kicking music in the proverbial gut with her brand of the rocking blues on her latest release of Dig In Deep out on the Redwing Records label.
Ms. Raitt says of Dig In Deep, “I’m feeling pretty charged, and the band and I are at the top of our game. I think all these years together pay off, and the best part is that we know how lucky we are to still get to make our livings doing something we love this much.”
Joined by bandmates George Marinelli, James “Hutch” Hutchinson, Ricky Fataar, Mike Finnigan, Jon Cleary and Ryan Freeland, with some help from guest artists like vocalists Arnold McCuller and Maia Sharp, electric guitarist Bill Frisell, acoustic guitarist Greg Leisz and keyboardist and arranger Patrick Warren, Ms. Raitt delivers the goods on Dig In Deep that rings with the magic of her own slide guitar work and swoon worthy vocals. Bluesy rock and rocking blues ratcheted up by a healthy measure of R & B proves potent on the 12 searing tracks of Dig In Deep.
Dig In Deep also sports some surprises for fans, including her version of INXS’s “Need You Tonight.” She explains, “I can’t wait for people to get wind of that. You know I’m such a music fan. I play “Magic Carpet Ride” and Jimi Hendrix song and I love “Highway to Hell” by AC/DD. There are a lot of unusual choices of things that I play in sound checks that I’ve secretly wanted to record. From the first time I heard (“Need You Tonight”), I knew I could just kill it.” She adds, “That sounds egotistical. I knew I could wrap myself around it in a way that would be fresh. It’s a very sexy song.”
Opening with the kickass “Unintended Consequence of Love,” Ms. Raitt and company find a groove that’s both familiar and infectious. Ripe with delicious slide guitar, sassy keyboards and thrumming rhythms, Dig In Deep is all about letting it all hang out and pure enjoyment.
Fans get the sizzling “Need You Tonight” (and yeah, she does kill it), the smooth and silky “I Knew” and the fast and furious “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes.” Smooth and easy tracks “All Alone with Something to Say” and “Undone” find the tender spots by way of Ms. Raitt’s achingly lovely vocals.
Other goodies include “If You Need Somebody,” “Gypsy in Me” and the melancholically delightful “You’ve Changed My Mind.” Closing with the poignant “The Ones We Couldn’t Be” proves to be personal and powerfully spare with just vocals, piano and keyboards.
A string a losses, her mother in 2004, her father in 2005 and her older brother in 2009, sparked “The Ones We Couldn’t Be.” Ms. Raitt says of the song, “I don’t think I could have written that song without having gone through what I went through, losing so many family members. It’s been awhile. But in time you take a look at the relationships that either had some edges in them or were painful.”
She adds, “And with time and wisdom, you start being aware of your part in what made things happen the way they did in a relationship. That’s what this song is about. I just came to this wrenching awareness that I couldn’t have been a better this or that.”
Dig In Deep is raucous, soulful and utterly Bonnie Raitt.