Grant Sabin’s Sound Advice 

click to enlarge JEFF DEWITT
  • Jeff Dewitt
Grant Sabin recently released his fourth album Bourbon & Milk, which is also his first as leader of The Juke Joint Highball, a local Mississippi-style blues band that features Joe Johnson on rhythm guitar and Kevin Ott on drums. With his talent for electrifying slide-guitar playing and a gravelly voice that’s been with him since his early teens, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter has earned his place as one of Colorado Springs’ best-known musicians. We caught up with Sabin to ask about some of his favorite records by artists who, as he puts it, “make the world sound good.”

“Wish I’d written that” song: “Locomotive” by John-Alex Mason. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the best blues songs ever written. The imagery is extremely palpable; and the lyrics are simple enough to act as a sort of mantra. There are songs I wrote that I feel like I didn’t write; “Locomotive” is a song I didn’t write that I feel like I wrote. When I play it, I feel like John-Alex is there playing with me.

Favorite song to cover live: This changes all the time for me. It used to be “The Preachin’ Blues” by Robert Johnson. Then it was “Poor Black Mattie” by R.L. Burnside. At the moment, my favorite song to cover with my band is “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day” by Robert Johnson; and my favorite song to cover acoustic is “Killing the Blues” by Rowland Salley.

First record I bought with my own money: The first vinyl LP I bought was Mr. Wizard by R.L. Burnside. The cover art is awesome, the music is even better, and Kenny Brown plays on it. It doesn’t get much better than that. The first CD I bought, with money my grandpa gave me, was Porgy and Bess by Miles Davis. Still to this day, one of the most perfectly beautiful jazz records I’ve ever heard.

Essential Saturday night listening: Pretty much any Junior Kimbrough song. It depends on what kind of mood you’re in though. If you’re feeling romantic or sentimental, listen to “Meet Me in the City.” If you want to party, listen to “All Night Long” all night long.

Essential Sunday morning listening: Liquid Swords by GZA/The Genius. That whole record motivates me and inspires me for all sorts of reasons. On a Sunday morning, put on Liquid Swords, think about samurai shit, clean your house, do some qigong, and you start your day off with some music that has a good moral lesson to it. It’ll make you feel good.

My latest online discovery: A very talented musician and very dear friend of mine recently showed me a website called Fractal Enlightenment. Today I found an article on that website about an Australian artist named Andy Thomas who takes recordings of bird sounds and pairs them with an abstract animation of moving shapes and colors. It is probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. He calls them “audio lifeforms” and that’s exactly what they are.

Local artist more people should know about: Locally, Mallory Ferraro. I co-host a singer-songwriter circle with her on Sundays at the Stagecoach in Manitou. I don’t think she has any records out yet; but seriously, every time she plays I wonder why she isn’t booked six nights a week. Nationally, I have no idea why The Yawpers aren’t the biggest rock and roll act in the world right now. That band is everything you want from a band. It’s just badass and 100 percent entertaining. They have a few albums out and they’re all awesome. The new one, Boy in a Well is my favorite. And on top of that, they’re really great people.

Guilty Pleasure: I don’t think I have one. I was going to say Mariah Carey; but I’m not guilty about that. She’s insanely good. Probably cigarettes. I like those things; but they stink up the place and I hear they kill ya. I wish they didn’t make them so good.


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