Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Best of 2007 - Final

This is My final Best of 2007. Wilco is still #1. The debuts are Deadstring Brothers at #5, The Boss at #9, John Fogerty at #16, Larry Cordle at #22, Ryan Bingham at #25, Band of Horses at #33, Little Big Town at #39 and Levon Helm at #46 Also, as usual, I did some rearranging based on further reflection.

Because the list stopped growing at 50, some albums had to come off. My apologies to the artists. However, like the AP College Football Poll I have an others receiving votes type of honorable mention category at the bottom to recognize albums that came close to making it. For a year in which you hear so much negative press about the music industry, 2007 is a banner year. The major labels may have committed Pop suicide but the indie world is as or even more prolific as ever. Enjoy the list and feel free to tell me how you agree or disagree. Also, make no hesitation to trash me or my intelligence in any way you see fit. I'm used to it.

1) Wilco - "Sky Blue Sky"
2) Patty Griffin - "Children Running Through"
3) White Stripes - "Icky Thump"
4) Kelly Willis - "Translated From Love"
5) Deadstring Brothers - "Silver Mountain"
6) Lyle Lovett - "It's Not Big It's Large"
7) Wrinkle Neck Mules - "Wicks Have Met"
8) Jason Isbell - "Sirens of the Ditch"
9) Bruce Springsteen - "Magic"
10) Assembly of Dust - "Recollection"
11) Kane, Welch, Kaplin - Kane Welch Kaplin
12) Hackensaw Boys - "Look Out"
13) The Shins - "Wincing the Night Away"
14) Ryan Adams - "Easy Tiger"
15) John Doe - "A year in the Wilderness"
16) John Fogerty - "Revival"
17) Son Volt - "The Search"
18) Peter Case - "Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John"
19) Oakley Hall - "I'll Follow You"
20) The Broken West - "I Can't Go on I'll Go on"
21) Elliot Randall - "Take the Fall"
22) Larry Cordle & Lonsome Standard Time - "Took Down & Put Up"
23) The Basement - "Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs"
24) Josh Ritter - "The Historical Conquests of"
25) Ryan Bingham - "Mescalito"
26) Paul McCartney - " Memory Almost Full"
27) Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles - "Diamonds in the Dark"
28) Kim Richey - "Chinese Boxes"
29) Joe Henry - "Civilians"
30) King Wilkie - "Low Country Suite"
31) Modest Mouse - "We Were Dead Before he Ship Ever Sank"
32) Giant Bear - "Giant Bear"
33) Band of Horses - "Cease to Begin"
34) Feist - "The Reminder"
35) Iron & Wine - "The Shepherds Dog"
36) Olav Larsen and the Alabama Rodeo Stars - "Loves' Com to Town"
37) Elizabeth Cook - "Balls"
38) Mary Gauthier - Between Daylight and Dark"
39) Little Big Town - "A Place to Land"
40) Dale Watson - "From the Cradle to the Grave"
41) Spoon - "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"
42) The Gourds - "Noble Creatures"
43) The National - "Boxer"
44) Slider Pines - "Road, Avenue, Railroad"
45) Alberta Cross - "The Thief and the Heartbreaker"
46) Levon Helm - "Dirt Farmer"
47) Infamous Stringdusters - "Fork in the Road"
48) Adam Hood - "Different Groove"
49) Steep Canyon Rangers - "Lovin' Pretty Women"
50) Rocky Votolato - "The Brag and Cuss"

Other Notables (In no particular order):
Kevin Deal, Terri Hendrix, Plant-Krauss, Randy Khors, Chuck Prophet, Jim Lauderdale, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely, Josh Rouse, Grace Potter, Bettye LaVette, Charlie Louvin, Nathan, Steve Earle, Cadillac Sky, Eillen Jewell, Pieta Brown, 2 Cow Garage, Willy Mason, Pela, Brandi Carlisle, Martin Sexton, Okkervil River and The Derailers.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Deadstring Brothers Live @ Zydeco in Birmingham, AL

I always thought how inspiring it must be for a musician to walk on stage in fromt of 12,000 screaming fans. But what about when it is 12 fans? How inspiring is that? Pretty damn inspiring if the Deadstring Brothers are any example. In reality there were more than 12 people at Zydeco two nights before Thanksgiving, but to say there were 25 would be generous. What they gave the fans that night was an inspired set that had the feel of a private show for friends. It is so refreshing to see a band play because they love it, which clearly these guys do.

The cozy setting allowed the band to develop great rapport with the crowd. In fact , they were very curious about the Southern Phenomenon of the fried turkey. Which the lead vocalist Kurt Marschke is apparently willing to "eat the ass out of that bird." I don't think I would want to witness that but I bet they found some fried turkey on Thanksgiving to try. The musical highlights of the show included from the new album "Heavy Load" and "Queen of the Scene," which are consumate live songs. The best song of the evening though was "Sacred Heart" from Starving Winter Report. Another highlight came in the encore when they did a steeple rockin' version of the gospel song "Uncloudy Day."

Check out these video clips I shot at the show. The audio isn't the best but you will get the idea:

"Tennessee Sure Enough"

"Queen of the Scene"

"Singing Gospel"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Apparently McCoury Music Only Thinks it Knows Bluegrass

Check this out on Twang Nation

The Grammy nominating committee would not consider Merle Haggard's Bluegrass Sessions for a nomination in the Bluegrass category because they felt it wasn't Bluegrass.

Let's look at the facts. It was produced by McCoury (as in Del) Music, who decided to call it Bluegrass. It features Bluegrass musicians and it was recorded at Ricky Skaggs place. That sounds a lot like Bluegrass to me. Also, if you go to any Bluegrass fstival you will see that the Bluegrass community casts a pretty wide net as to musical styles. I definitely think there is room in that net for this album.

Talk about hypocricy! If you can't call Haggard's album Bluegrass then please don't call Faith Hill or Shania Twain country.

Alison Krauss, Robert Plant and T-Bone Burnett on Charlie Rose

Many thanks to Ashley. Whose comment let me know about T-bone, Robert Plant and alison Krauss on the Charlie Rose show today.

Here is an excerpt from the interview

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hope for an Indie Artist - Randu Kohrs gets grassroots support on CMT

Defying the odds, resophonic guitarist Randy Kohrs' video "Who's Goin' With Me" (from his excellent album Old Photograph) has risen up to number 3 on the listener picked CMT Pure 12 Pack countdown show. He is also starting to get a bit of notice from radio outlets. Anyone who understands how things work in Nashville can understand how difficult it is for an independent label and artist to get this kind of play. I take this as a sign of life for the Nashville mainstream music scene. Maybe they are willing to try something new in the wake of declining sales. If the Nashville music industry's greed and desire for revenue begin to favor "real" and indie country artists for a change, that will be the ultimate irony. We can only hope.

See the article on Cybergrass

Give him a vote on CMT

The Results Are In!!!!

Winners of the Americana Music Honors & Awards held November 1st at the Ryman in Nashville:

• Album of the Year-Patty Griffin/Children Running Through

• Artist of the Year-Patty Griffin

• Duo Group of the Year-Avett Brothers

• Instrumentalist of the Year-Buddy Miller

• New/Emerging Artist of the Year-Avett Brothers

• Song of the Year-"Hank Williams' Ghost"-by Darrell Scott

Additional Awards went to:

• Lyle Lovett - Trailblazer Award

• Joe Ely-Lifetime Achievement for Performance

• Mavis Staples - "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech Award

• Ry Cooder-Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist

• Willie Nelson-Lifetime Achievement for Songwriter

• Jim Dickinson-Lifetime Achievement for a Producer Engineer

• Townes Van Zandt-The Presidents Award

Settin' the Woods on Fire- This Week's Charts

This is a bi-weekly feature in which I post on AWT the top albums and debuts in the airplay charts from Americana Music Assoc., XM Cross Country and FMQB Non-Commercial Adult Alternative chart. Links to all of these charts are found to the right in the AWT favorite links list.

Americana Music Association - Airplay Week of November 5th
1) Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
2) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
3) John Fogerty - Revival
4) Levon Helm - Dirt Farmer
5) Various - Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino
6) Dwight Yoakam - Dwight Sings Buck
7) Lyle Lovet and His Large Band - It's Not Big It's Large
8) Kane Welch Kaplin - Kane Welch Kaplin
9) Emmylou Harris - Songbird
10) Shooter Jennings - The Wolf

32) Will Hoge - Draw the Curtains
33) Neil Young - Chrome Dreams II
39) Iron & Wine - The Shepherds' Dog

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking week of Nov. 5th
1) John Fogerty - Revival
2) Emmylou Harris - Songbird
3) Shawn Camp & Billy Burnette - The Bluegrass Elvises
4) Cross Canadian Ragweed - Mission California
5) Kane Welch Kaplin - Kane Welch Kaplin
6) Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
7) Toni Price - Talk Memphis
8) Lyle Lovet and His Large Band - It's Not Big It's Large
9) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
10) Korby Lenker - King of Hearts

45) Shooter Jennings - The Wolf
46) Blue Rodeo - Small Miracles
47) Miles from Nowhere - Bloodline
48) Matt Powell - New Kind of Something

FMQB AAA Non-Commercial - Airplay Week of Nov. 5th
1) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
2) Bruce Springsteen - Magic
3) Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
4) John Fogerty - Revival
5) Mark Knopfler - Kill to Get Crimson
6) Ben Harper - Lifetime
7) Iron & Wine - The Shepherds' Dog
8) Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquest
9) Various - Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino
10) Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight

17) Neil Young - Chrome Dreams
19) Levon Helm - Dirt Farmer
27) Ingrid Michaelson - Girls & Boys

Monday, November 5, 2007

North By Northwest

Recently I have run across some music by a few artists from the Northwest and Canada. Canadian artists are often ignored in this country, but there is a healthy music scene in Canada. Canada's music roster includes a wide ranging group of songwriters, from the obscure country of Corb Lund to musical Icons like Bruce Cockburn and Hank Snow. Bands hailing from Canada include legends Rush and The Guess who as well as current progressive groups like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. So I would like to take a few moments to introduce you to a couple of lesser known Canadian artists as well as one artist from the Seattle area, which is close enough I guess.

The Deep Dark Woods - Hailing from Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, they have just released their sophomore album Hang Me Oh Hang Me on Black Hen Music. According to the band they drew their inspiration from the long, depressing Saskatchewan winters. However, this is far from a depressing album. The songwriting is diverse and covers many genres. The music features rich vocal harmonies and the melodies draw you hypnotically into each song.

Check out the Title Cut

Jim Armstrong - Toronto based singer - Songwriter Jim Armstrong makes his debut with Mudtown He is an accomplished producer who has worked with number of independent Canadian artists. Although the comparison may not be fair, He is clearly influenced by John Hiatt. After working all of these years with other artists he is finally releasing a solo album of his own. In fact to call it a solo album is an understatement since Armstrong wrote or Co-wrote all of the songs, produced the album and played most of the instruments himself. The result of this tightly controlled process is an infectious hook laden Americana album.

Visit Jim Armstrong's MySpace Page

David Bavas - Originally from the Appalachian foothills, David Bavas now lives in Seattle. His style is unique, although his Appalachian upbringing definitely influences his music. However, his sound owes as much to Indie Rock as it does Roots Music. His newest album Songs of Love, Death and Trains was released on October 2nd by Proud Mountain Records. The album was mixed by Kevin Suggs (The Shins, Minus 5, Cat Power). Among his original tunes is an excellent cover of the Townes Van Zandt song "No Lonesome Tune."

Listen to All the Trains

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Patty Griffin won artist of the year at the Americana Music Honors and Awards show on November 1. The Awards show was held at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville. In fact, it was a busy week for Griffin. She released a new DVD on Tuesday, Live from the Artists Den. It was recorded in New York in January of this year.

Check out this live video recorded at Lizard Lounge:

The Decmberists Cancel Remainder of Tour.

The Decemberists have canceled the remainder of their current North American tour. A total of 27 dates have been canceled! Accouring the band's website:

"One of our band members has been ill for a while but we thought all would be well in time for these tour dates. After a couple shows, though, it has become clear that the illness is much worse than we had initially realized. We need to return home so our friend can mend.

It saddens us to disappoint our fans. We hope everybody understands it is only because of an extreme situation that we had to cancel a tour we've all been excited about doing since the idea was originally hatched."

I hope all turns out well for their freind whatever his illness. They certainly put on a good live show.