Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ben Sollee New EP and Tour

Ben Sollee has a new EP called Something Worth Keeping

He's written a note about it:

"The beauty of people is anchored in imperfection; it is not that we are destructive but that we are ignorant to a better way. We dream big with even bigger costs. Furthermore, we learn the lesson daily that we don’t know what we have until it is gone. Combined, these two qualities are child-like but ever present.

When I look around I see a lot of things that are worth keeping: the mountain tops of Appalachia, family and community farms, art and music in schools, and, most of all, a government by the people and for the people. But how? The challenge that our leaders and us face is that we don’t know how to accomplish these goals. There are many eloquent ideas out there about renewable energy, educational systems, and governing, but realizing them means trying new things; which is daunting at least, and terrifying at most. As my generation takes the reins we should not sacrifice some qualities of this nation and the land in its boundaries to the wayfaring spirit of economy. They are important for Americans, our children, and the rest of the world.

These thoughts inspired these two new songs. But they are only songs…" - Ben Sollee

His upcoming tour starts Saturday. "Only a Song" features Jim James from My Morning Jacket.

Only a Song

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lucinda Williams & Elvis Costello - Jailhouse Tears

After listening to Little Honey it is great to see Lucinda Williams happy again. I'm also glad she is still sassy. She has recorded her share of memorable duets over the years, but "Jailhouse Tears" is in my opinion the best duet of her career. Previously my favorite duet of hers was "Down to the Well" with Kevin Gordon from 2000. The duet with Costello ranks with some of the great country duets. Paste Magazine feels the same way. Costello and Williams first hooked up on CMT's Crossroads. They certainly capture the magic again on this call and reply style song, in which a woman telss her man "how it is." The song is traditional in its vocal styling but thoroughly modern in every other way.

Check out this video from the CMT performance to get a taste:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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

After a few requests I am bringing this feature back. I will post every 2 weeks on AWT the top albums and debuts in the airplay charts from Americana Music Assoc. and the FMQB Non-Commercial Adult Alternative chart. I have dropped the XM Cross Country Chart because it is a reporting station to the Americana chart. The links to these charts are included on my Blogroll at the right.

Americana Music Association - Airplay Week of 10-13
1) Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Rattlin’ Bones
2) Todd Snider - Peace Queer
3) Rodney Crowell - Sex & Gasoline
4) Lucinda Williams – Little Honey
5) Little Feat and Friends – Join the Band
6) OCMS – Tennessee Pusher
7) Chris Knight – Heart of Stone
8) Carrie Rodriguez – She Ain’t Me
9) Darrell Scott – Modern Hymns
10)Band of Heathens – Self Titled

25) Bob Dylan - Telltale Signs
28) Charlie Haden - Ramblin' Boy

FMQB Non Commercial AAA Chart - Airplay Week of 10-13
1) Calexico - Carried to Dust
2) The Pretenders - Break Up the Concrete
3) Michael Franti - All Rebel Rockers
4) Lucinda Williams - Little Honey
5) Bob Dylan - Telltale Signs
6) Taj Majal - Maestro
7) Dar Williams - Promised Land
8) Coldplay - Viva La Vida
9) Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
10) Ben Folds _ Way to Normal

28) Snow Patrol - Hundred Million Suns
29) Joseph Arthur - Temporary People

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

R.E.M. To Release deluxe version of Murmur

I was 16 in 1983. During that year, through a couple of Friends, I encountered a handful of albums that changed my life. I won't bore you with the list, but one of them was R.E.M.'s Murmur. Fans of "Alt-Country" and Uncle Tupelo would do well to go back and listen to the stripped down renderings on this album and find inspiration. After all, Peter Buck did produce an Uncle Tupelo album. This was the early unpredictable R.E.M. When Michael Stipe, often stoned and singing with his back to the audience, used his voice as an instrument. I defy anyone to decipher the complete lyrics of this album. The album will be released on November 25th. Here is a description from the R.E.M. Website:

The two-CD set features R.E.M.'s debut album, remastered, plus an additional disc with a previously unreleased concert recorded at Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto, three months after Murmur’s April 1983 release.

The 16-song live performance boasts nine of Murmur’s 12 songs, including “Radio Free Europe," three songs from the Chronic Town EP, early renditions of "7 Chinese Bros." and "Harborcoat," as well as “Just A Touch,” eventually a track included on R.E.M.’s fourth album, 1986’s Lifes Rich Pageant. The live set also features a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “There She Goes Again,” which R.E.M. recorded in the studio for the b-side of “Radio Free Europe.”

Exclusive essays by producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, as well as former I.R.S. executives Jay Boberg, Sig Sigworth, Carlos Grasso round out the deluxe edition.

HANK III Release Day


Just in time for Halloween the famous namesake unleashes another group of songs full of personal and inherited demons that mixes Traditional Country with a hint of Metal and Punk. He is the original The Southern Gothic Outlaw. This could be his edgiest album yet.

Here is the EPK:

Here is the first video:
(Check Out the Jesco White Shirt. Anyone who has never seen the "Dancing Outlaw" documentary please do so soon. Also see the creepy cameo of Unknown Hinson)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Alex Woodard New Video

Singer/guitarist Alex Woodard debuted two new music videos for songs off his recently released self-titled album on Adrenaline Music Group last week, "Reno" and "There Is No More Time To Waste." The San Diego Tribune says, "Woodard's well-crafted songs are cut from the same cloth as those of Tom Petty, Rodney Crowell, John Mellencamp, Jim Croce and other American troubadours- - past and present - whose music eloquently captures earthy truths about living, loving and growing older without losing the dreams of youth."

"Reno" features Alex with Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek on vocals and fiddle here it is:

The Book Report Part 1: Sing Me Back Home - Dana Jennings

Dana Jennings shares through his personal experience why traditional Country music endures and has meant so much to so many generations. He also reflects on how it has changed, and conjectures as to why modern country music has changed its tune. The primary factor is socio-economic and demographic. Histtory teaches us that after the great depression and World War II America was unleashed in an economic expansion that turned our country into the juggernaut we are today. However, Jennings points out that in much of rural America post-war prosperity was a mere rumor. This held true in the North as well as the South. (In fact, Jennings himself was from New Hampshire) It is Country Music of the 50's and 60's that tells this secret history of the American rural working class. It also characterizes the move from the country to the city many rural Americans were forced to make in search of work.

Jennings tells this story by juxtaposing Country Music themes and songs next to the experiences of his own immediate and extended family during this time. In this memoir the characters themselves are worth the read. He had a Grandmother that let's just say "got around." His father was a hell raiser who aspired to be a Rockabilly bad-boy. His mother struggled to keep it together and turned to her records for solace. His aunts and uncles are even more entertaining (and sometimes a bit scary). Music had a big influence on his family. In fact, he makes a point that to much of rural America the death of Patsy Cline was far more devestating than the death of John Kennedy. They related to Patsy Cline but left the politics of the day to the middle and upper classes. The only place he misses it is religion. Because his family wasn't very religious I think he misses the importance of God in the lives of the rural people of that era. In fact, when the Cross was all they had to cling to it was truly meaningful.

Eventually prosperity found rural America and urban America found Country music. As times became easier Country became corporate and Nashville devoured Country music. But Country music of that era still has meaning today. As Jennings says in his final Chapter:

"In the spirit numbing information age we gorge on the Web and CNN...but in the end we know less of each other...of our hearts...of our souls. But Johnny Cash singing "I walk the Line" or Hank sorrowing through "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry" still gives us more insight in three minutes, tells us more about what matters most in our lives, than we get in an entire twenty-four-hour news cycle"

... and let's not forget it.

Next up: Amanda Petrusich - It Still Breathes

This review also appears on Twangville

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

IBMA Award Winner Andy Hall Free MP3

Interestingly enough the IBMA award winner for best instrumental album was a digital only download by Dobro phenom Andy Hall. Sound of the Slide Guitat features hall along wit Rob Ickes and members of Infamous Stringdusters. The folks at Sugar Hill have agreed to allow AWT to share an MP3 from the album.

The Chase.mp3

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don Was Gives Polish Without Changing OCMS

Using Don Was to produce an acoustic band could have been risky. An excellent Rock producer but it could have taken the roots out of their music. Was instead expanded their sound without changing what makes them great. To be sure there is more of an emphasis on songs and less on solos on Tennessee Pusher. However, I think thera has also been a tendency to view Old Crow Medicine Show as pickers and less as songwriters. No one will doubt their songwriting now. Don Was deserves the credit for that.

Listen to Caroline:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Slimfit - Great New Band from Amish Country

Go Download this now!!!! Slimfit from Amish Country in PA.

From Their CD Baby Page (Sounds like everything AWT is about):
The band’s rollicking collision of meat and potatoes songwriting and punch-drunk delivery has never been more vibrant than on SLIMFIT’s debut full-length, Make it Worse. On it, you can hear UNCLE TUPELO’s fervor, STEVE EARLE’s rasp, TOM PETTY’s jangley pop and, if you put your ear to the ground, whispers of co-songwriters Joey McMonagle and Pat Kirchner’s other influences, including SUPERDRAG and DESCENDENTS. “Make it Worse is a complete love record,” says Kirchner, who plays electric guitar. While he’s referring to love of the fairer sex in the lyrics, he’s also alluding to the labor of love that these lifelong friends took on while writing and recording Make it Worse. “The way we write songs and the way we interact is a testament to our friendship,” McMonagle adds. “I can’t imagine being in a band where we’re not all best friends.”

In light of their tongue-in-cheek writing style, it might be difficult to believe that roots rockers SLIMFIT actually take themselves seriously. The band’s live shows ooze with fun and a devil-may-care attitude, climaxing with as many as three consecutive “bull-rushes” – a SLIMFIT specialty, during which Kirchner, co-guitarist Sam Gorgone, bassist Sean Harmann, or even drummer Tony Kirchner dives between frontman Joey McMonagle’s gangly legs like a greased piglet. It’s all sloppy, drunken fun … riding on the shoulders of meticulous, timeless roots-rock songwriting that hammers home the band’s ultimate dedication to their craft. They bled these songs out, and now they’re gonna dance to them.

Sample on MySpace

Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson - Rattlin' Bones

There is no doubt the “Royal Couple” of Americana is Buddy and Julie Miller. With the release of Rattlin’ Bones, Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson should at least be considered a member of the Royal Court. Perhaps they could be known as the Duke and Duchess of Overseas Americana. That might be an appropriate title for an Australian couple. I must admit Kasey Chambers has always been at the top of my list, and Rattlin’ Bones is one of the most emotionally moving albums I have ever heard. It is at once chilling, moving, and spiritual. It is at times dark and at other times beautiful. In short it is a manifestation of how human relationships really play out. The relationships we encounter in life leave us with regret, sadness, love, hope and happiness. They are complicated but meaningful and absolutely inseparable from whom we are individually.

The style of music on the album is steeped in the Post-Depression Folk and Americana tradition. It was a time when musicians wrote about life and love as it really occurs. To the people of that era relationships were full of hardship but they were also your lifeline and the only source of support and hope. Relationships for the rural poor were always on a tightrope walk between falling into despair or life-sustaining beauty. Sometimes they seemed to be doing both at once. When times are hard people cling to each other, seduce each other, and hurt each other. We build people up and tear them down. We love them and push them away. That is the reality of being human. Rattlin Bones’ captures the dichotomy of relationships in a way that you will feel deep in your gut. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, please do. You will be better off for the effort.

Check out Their Website

This review also appears on Twangville