Today, Texas-based psyche-folk group Leon III shares their version of Hoyt Axton’s “Kingswood Manor”.
LISTEN AT KINGSWOOD MANOR (HOYT AXTON COVER)
“There are a lot of people who seem to be struggling with mental health and addiction issues right now, especially in the music community,” says Andy Stepanian. “With this release, we’ve decided to donate to the SIMS Foundation for every upload to our Bandcamp page and for every time someone records the song on Spotify or Apple Music during the first week after release. The Austin-based Sims Foundation does a great job providing mental health and addiction recovery services to music industry professionals and their families.
I stumbled across Hoyt Axton’s 1969 album “My Griffin is Gone” in 2020. Like many people, I discovered all kinds of music during the COVID months but “My Griffin is Gone” really stuck with me . I played there a lot. The record is spinning all over the place and there is that psychedelic folk thread from the very end of the 60s that sometimes borders on the absurd. There are almost cheesy string arrangements and songs with lyrics to “riding on a green velvet dragon”, but there is also a manic obscurity to the record that makes up for all of that and makes it a serious and singular piece of work.
After digging into it I realized I knew a bunch of Axton songs that were made famous by others like “The Pusher” which Steppenwolf did (although I only know the Blind Melon version) and “Snowblind Friend” that I knew from the Vic Chesnutt / Collab of Generalized Panic Called Brute. And, of course, everyone knows Joy to the World. He has also been an actor in films such as Gremlins and Black Stallion.
“Kingswood Manor” struck me the most on the album. It encapsulates the duality of the entire disc. He has those exaggerated sayings about “float in the air on a cotton candy cloud” and “Crystal Buddhas of the sea” and chime lullaby sounds, but he also has a dark belly on the struggle to find happiness. in mental illness throws. It’s a disconcerting song, but also soothing and hopeful.
A few months ago we had a day to kill in Nashville and I thought it would be fun to go to our friend Kai Welch’s studio and try to shoot a version of “Kingswood Manor”. It was a super relaxed session. We had exhausted ourselves for two whole days before shooting a live set, so we had no real agenda or expectations. Some friends who had played on our Antlers in Velvet record like Paul Niehaus (Justin Townes Earle) and Tony Crow (Lambchop) stopped by to play and producer Paul Ebersold (Morgan Wade) just stopped to hang out and say Fuck. We had a wonderful day. After we left, Kai called in Molly Martin to sing the backing vocals. She really put the song together and gave it a timeless feel.
After everything was mixed up, we thought it would be cool to release the song digitally and try to use the opportunity to do some good.
– Andy Stepanian, Leo III
About Leo III:
Leon III, the exploratory psych-folk band based in Texas and led by Andy Stepanian (vocals, guitar, keyboard, piano, omnichord) and Mason Brent (guitar, bass, vocals, banjo), sounds like a relic from another age . In an age when much of today’s music feels as disposable and time-consuming as a tweet, Leon III is standing against the tide. With their latest album, Antlers in Velvet, the band evokes the spirit and ambition of Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead.
Make no mistake, this is an album with the potential for a serious lifespan.
About the SIMS Foundation:
The SIMS Foundation provides mental health and addiction recovery services and supports to musicians, music industry professionals and their dependent family members. Through education, community partnerships and accessible managed care, SIMS seeks to destigmatize and reduce mental health and addiction issues, while supporting and enhancing the well-being of the music community as a whole.