Los Angeles folk & roots outfit Diane Hubka & The Sun Canyon Band’s debut album You Never Can Tell (out Jan. 20) dances from ‘60s folk, delta blues, lilting ballads to Texas swing and heartland country rock. Co-producer/arranger Chad Watson (Ronnie Milsap, The Burrito Brothers, Janis lan,) who also plays bass, trombone, mandolin and guitar, brought together Hubka’s honey-toned vocals and rhythm guitar, Rick Mayock’s expressive guitar work and vocals, drummer Lynn Coulter (Rita Coulidge, Leon Russell, Carol King,) and the one-of-a-kind guitar sounds and mandolin picking by special guest, legendary English guitarist Albert Lee (Emmylou Harris, Everly Brothers, Eric Clapton).
The album is a sprightly and seamless blend of Americana, Western swing and California folk-pop that recalls the work of ‘70s country-rock icons Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. “I’m so excited to have Albert Lee play on this recording! I’m a huge fan of Emmylou, and I actually learned a lot of these tunes from her recordings which Albert played on!”
Until recently, Hubka was known across the country as a jazz artist. She lived in New York City for two decades and became a vital member of its jazz community. After recording three albums in the Big Apple, one with saxophonist Lee Konitz, she moved to Los Angeles in 2005, where she recorded three more albums, and even made it big in Japan, touring the country multiple times.
But Hubka’s earlier influences came from growing up in the Appalachian mountains of Western Maryland, a child of the ‘60s folk revival. With a mother who sang in a folk group, she was a big fan of Peter, Paul & Mary, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. In early 2017, upset by the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election, she turned away from a lifetime of jazz and went in a new direction. “I wanted to sing protest songs -- and union songs!” she laughs. “I suddenly felt a calling to get back to my acoustic and folk roots.” Five years later, Hubka and her Sun Canyon Band are releasing their new album of originals (written by Hubka and Mayock) and covers of classics by artists including Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Randy Newman and Guy Clark.