Monday, December 21, 2009

8) Charlie Robison 9) Sam Bush 10) Grant Langston

Sam Bush and Grant Langston have previous reviews here on AWT. Coming in at number 8 Charlie Robison rates higher than both. Beautiful Day is both a kiss off to Emily, his Dixie Chick ex-wife, and an embrace of new found freedom. It has three main ingredients heartache, piss and vinegar. It also has an awesome cover of Bobby Bare Jr.'s "Nothin' Better to Do."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Numbers 11 and 12: Lucero and Wrinkle Neck Mules

12) Wrinkle Neck Mules - Readers of AWT know how much I love the Mules so I will just point you to my Previous Post. Now on to ...

11) Lucero-1372 Overton Park - This band has building something great for almost ten years. With 1372 Overton Park, they created the perfect record that blends their Drive-By-Truckers meets The Replacemenrts sound and the perfect amount of hometown Memphis R&B.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Bird List

The Bird List. A bird's eye view of the combined top 20 lists of what we like to call a "loose confederation of like minded bloggers". This is the inaugural year. It's been a patchy one! But what we do have is a decent idea, and what we feel is an interesting list. So Here it is. The best albums of the year as voted on by 30 of the web's leading aficionados of twanglike music.

I referenced this in my own Best of list below. See the AWT post below and compare. The inspiration for the name is the infamous photo of Johnny Cash giving the finger backstage. This list is essentially a flip off to mainstream Nashville.

1. Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies
2. Lucero - 1372 Overton Park
3. Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses - Roadhouse Sun
4. Buddy and Julie Miller - Written in Chalk
5. Dave Rawlings Machine - A Friend of a Friend
6. Slaid Cleaves - Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away
7. Todd Snider - The Excitement Plan
8. Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
9. Band of Heathens - One Foot In the Ether
10. Tom Russell - Blood and Candlesmoke
11. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit - S/T
12. Corb Lund - Losin' Lately Gambler
13. Charlie Robison - Beautiful Day
14. Drive-By Truckers - The Fine Print
15. Steve Earle - Townes
16. Deer Tick - Born on Flag Day
17. Wrinkle Neck Mules - Let The Lead Fly
18. Magnolia Electric Co. - Josephine
19. Guy Clark – Somedays The Songs Write You
20. Those Darlins - S/T
20. Miranda Lambert - Revolution

Contributing Blogs: A Fifty Cent Lighter, A Truer Sound, Alt-512, Amber Waves of Twang, Americana Rock Mix, Americana Roots, Beat Surrender, Because Whit Happens, Country California, Country Music Pride, Farce The Music, For The Sake of The Song, Front Porch Musings, Heartworn Highways, High Noon Saloon, It's Great To Be Alive, Kim Ruehl (No Depression), Juli Thanki, (The 9513), Romeo Sid Vicious, More Cowbelle, My Aimz Is True, Ninebullets, Sounds Country, The Gobbler's Knob, There's Always Someone Cooler Than You, This Mornin' I Am Born Again, Twang Nation, Twangville, Freight Train Boogie, When You Awake
Special thanks to: Truersound, Sounds Country, Romeo Sid Vicious, and David Attaway

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The best of 2009

The Winner is...
Tis the season... The best of lists are coming out in force. So I am going to get ahead of the curve. This year is particularly interesting if you want to check out the top "Twang" lists. Keep your eye on Twangville for a collaborative list for those of us in the Posse, as well as individual lists. The best best of list will be The Bird List, but there will be more on this later. For now let's just focus on my humble list here on AWT.

In my mid-year list, Buddy and Julie were on top, but they have been replaced by Band of Heathens in the final list. This was actually a close call and was decided by addiction. Once I listened to the first song, One Foot in the Ether became audio crack. Other new entries into the top ten are Roseanne Cash, Two Tons of Steel, Sam Bush and Grant Langston. Enough banter the list is below and then I will spend the remainder of the year writing individual posts on my top 12. (Sort of a twelve days of Christmas with no turtle doves.)

1 Band of Heathens - One foot in the Ether
2 Buddy & Julie Miller - Written in Chalk
3 Roseanne Cash - The List
4 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses - Roadhouse Sun
5 Roman Candle - Oh Tall Tree in the Ear
6 Two Tons of Steel - Not That Lucky
7 M. Ward - Hold Time
8 Charlie Robison - Beautiful Day
9 Sam Bush - Circles Around Me
10 Grant Langston - Stand Up Man
11 Lucero - 1372 Overton Park
12 Wrinkle Neck Mules - Let the Lead Fly
13 Monsters of Folk - Self Titles
14 Wilco - The Album
15 Slaid Cleaves - Everything You Love Will be Taken Away
16 Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies
17 Stephen Kellog and the Sixers - The Bear
18 Brendan Benson - My Old Familiar Friend
19 Sarah Jarosz - Song Up in Her Head
20 Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles - The Stars are Out
21 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Speed of Life
22 Elvis Costello - Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
23 Guy Clark - Sometimes the Song Writes You
24 Scott Miller & the Commonwealth - For Cryin' Out Loud
25 Hill Country Review - Self Titled
26 Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band - Outer South
27 The Gourds - Haymaker!
28 Donna Ulisse - Walk this Mountain Down
29 Bottle Rockets - Lean Forward
30 The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
31 Bob Dylan - Together Through Life
32 Chuck Prophet - Let Freedom Ring
33 Derek Trucks - Already Free
34 The Flatlanders - Hills and Valleys
35 Dallas Wayne - I'll Take the Fifth
36 Red Stick Ramblers - My Suitcase is Always Packed
37 Chuck Mead - Journeyman's Wager
38 Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream
39 Gina Villalobos - Days on Their Side
40 Cracker - Sunshine in the Land of Milk and Honey
41 Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Self Titled
42 Kieran Kane - Somewhere Beyond the Roses
43 Radney Foster Revival
44 Mindy Smith - Stupid Love
45 Mark Olson & Gary Louris - Ready for the Flood
46 Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey and the Gru Grux King
47 Pter Holsapple and Chris Stamey - Here and Now
48 Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
49 Sara Watkins - Self Titled
50 Dierks Bentley - Feel that Fire

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sam Bush - Circles Around Me

Circles Around Me, Bush's seventh solo album is a mix of classic bluegrass covers and new originals. Quite possibly this is Bush’s most cohesive release. Bush has always been a dichotomy. He is influenced by the old but is the original innovator of the new. Hell, he literally coined the term new grass with his original band New Grass Revival, which he founded. The young innovators of today like Chris Thile, Infamous Stringdusters, Old Crow Medicine Show, Chatham County Line, Hackensaw Boys, Crooked Still and more recently the likes of Sarah Jarosz, owe their success to Bush, Bela Fleck, John Cowan and their peers.

On this new release, Bush blends the old and new seamlessly with both covers and original compositions. Produced by Bush, Circles Around Me includes appearances by Del McCoury, Edgar Meyer and Jerry Douglas to name a few. Let’s not forget Bush's own band; Scott Vestal, Stephen Mougin, Byron House and Chris Brown, which is one of the best in all of Bluegrass.

The album includes some great songwriting collaborations. The title cut was co-written with Jeff Black. My favorite is "The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle," which Bush co-wrote with Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson. This song is a true story of the 1973 murder of Grand Ole Opry star David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife. "Souvenir Bottles" and "Whisper My Name" are re-workings of New Grass Revival songs. These songs build a nice bridge to the traditional tunes on the record. Del McCoury lends his unmistakable tenor on two Bill Monroe covers, "Roll On Buddy, Roll On" and "Midnight on the Stormy Deep." However, the most poignant and powerful of the traditional songs is the excellent rendition of "Diamond Joe."

Whatever you perspective, Circles Around Me gives us an artist that obviously is content where he is now, where he came from and where he is headed. Maybe that is why he just received the AMA lifetime achievment award.

Check out his AMA performance:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wrinkle Neck Mules - Let the Lead Fly

With the release of their fourth album the Wrinkle Neck Mules have established themselves as one of the premier roots rock bands. Let the Lead Fly is a bit less electric but rocks just as hard. With the use of banjo, mandolin and pedal steel, the roots move to the forefront on this release. As usual the band tells stories of the people on the margins of society. The poignant vignettes are especially effective at a time when the margins of society are growing However, this is not an album about sorrow and despair. As they say on the title cut, “Don’t just stand there raise, your guns and let lead fly.” Instrumentally the linchpin that brings the traditional and the electric rock together is “Medicine Bow.” This song stands in contrast to “The Waters all Run Dry,” which would have been a country standard if it had been recorded in the 40’s or 50’s.

The band has two members that contribute lead vocals and each gives the band a different feel. Andy Stepanian has a raw, edgy voice. Mason Brent has a smoother voice that gives a folksier feel. To put it in terms of bourbon it is like Old Grand Dad versus Basil Hayden. However, either one can result in a good time. This two singer, two style concept has a direct correlation to the Drive-by Truckers. The formula works pretty well for both the Truckers and the Mules. The comparison to the Truckers is not entirely fair given the depth of the Truckers catalogue. However, after four albums the Wrinkle Neck Mules have firmly established themselves. They seem to be here to stay and getting better. If you haven’t listened to them yet it is time for you to Let the Lead Fly.

Sample Title Cut

Thursday, October 22, 2009

WSM starts new show - Music City Roots

The legendary Nashville radio station WSM, the broadcasting home of the Grand Ole Opry, has a new show, Music City Roots. It is broadcast from a new venue, The Loveless Barn, just outside of Nashville.

This week was Sam Bush and Mike Farris. The first episode was Emmylou Harris. Check out the website .

The Upcoming Lineup is unbelievable. You can also go to the WSM Website for on demand streaming

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sarah Jarosz appears on Prairie Home Companion

My friend Mark heard Sarah Jarosz on Prairie Home Companion last week and was blown away. This reminded me that I had a promo I was going to post about earlier this Summer. The problem was I got busy and moved and the post was never made. That was crime that needs to be rectified.

Sarah Jarosz is only 18 and she grew up in the Texas Hill Country, home to a songwriter or two I would say. What makes her unique is that she is a great musician as well as a songwriter. She is now studying at a conservatory in the Northeast and released an album this past Summer on Sugar Hill Records that includes a whose who of Modern Bluegrass stars. The album is entitled Song Up in Her Head and guests include Chris Thile, Darrell Scott, Stuart Duncan, Mike Marshall, Tim O'brien and Jerry Douglas along with Samson Grisman the progeny of David Grisman. It bares repeating that this is her debut album. I can't imagine what she will due for her next release.

She is a kindred spirit of Sara Watkins and Abigail Washburn. The future of Bluegrass never looked so good.

Listen to the Audio

Monday, October 5, 2009

Two Tons of Steel = One Ton of Fun

The band was named after the vintage restored Cadillac owned by lead singer Kevin Geil. This is appropriate considering Not that Lucky is a cruise through the Country and Rockabilly of the 50s delivered with a punk attitude. Two Tons of Steel certainly deliver a fresh interpretation of what a Honky Tonk band should be. This is their first since 2005’s Vegas and is already creating a buzz, debuting at number 8 on the Americana charts and is now number 4. They enlisted the expertise of the ubiquitous Texas musician and producer Lloyd Maines. Maines touch is evident on this masterpiece. Another notable contributor is Tom Gilliam, who plays on the title cut and wrote the ending track, “Bottom of the Bottle. “ All of the other songs on the album were written by Geil except for the brilliant cover of Fred Eaglesmith’s” Alcohol and Pills.”

The Punk attitude of this album really shows up when they use the thumping upright bass and fuzzy guitar riffs as on “Wanna Dance.” Make no mistake though this album is also a vintage Honky Tonk party. One listen to Not That Lucky will have you pouring sawdust on your hardwood floors and clearing the furniture. So call the neighbors and have plenty if PBR on hand because they will want to join the party. After all something this fun needs be shared and enjoyed by all, at least until the Cops arrive. Not that Lucky was released last month by the Texas label Smith Entertainment Group. Get your copy today but be sure to get the PBR first.

Stream on the Two Tons Website

This review also appears on Twangville

Monday, September 21, 2009

Roseanne Cash - The List

Read the press release below and tell me how this won't bw great. Then check out the track list and imeem link.




Acclaimed singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash will release her 12th studio album, entitled The List, on Manhattan Records on October 6th, 2009. This stunning work features Cash's contemporary interpretations of 12 classic songs culled from a list of essential country tunes that her legendary father Johnny gave her in 1973, and filtered through her own unique, sophisticated perspective.

Known primarily for her stellar songwriting, Cash showcases her incredible voice on The List -- her first-ever covers record. As a result, the album is Rosanne Cash like you've never heard her before as she embraces her heritage and sings for the pure love and beauty of these songs which have shaped who she is as an artist.

The idea for The List came about while Cash was on tour promoting her 2006 studio album, the critically heralded, Grammy-nominated Black Cadillac -- a reflective song cycle about the loss of her father, mother Vivian Liberto, and stepmother June Carter Cash. During the well-received multi-media event Black Cadillac: In Concert, Cash told audiences how, when she was 18, her father became alarmed that his daughter appeared to lack a deep understanding of country music (having been obsessed with The Beatles and steeped in Southern California rock and pop music). Johnny gave her a list of the "100 Essential Country Songs" and told her that it was her education and she should learn them all.

The track-listing for The List :
1. "Miss the Mississippi and You"
2. "Motherless Children"
3. "Sea of Heartbreak" (w/ Bruce Springsteen)
4. "Take These Chains From My Heart"
5. "I'm Movin' On"
6. "She's Got You"
7. "Heartaches by the Number" (w/ Elvis Costello)
8. "500 Miles"
9. "Long Black Veil" (w/ Jeff Tweedy)
10. "Silver Wings" (w/ Rufus Wainwright)
11. "Girl From the North Country"
12. "Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow"

Long Black Veil with Jeff Tweedy

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kieran Kane - Somewhere Beyond the Roses

An album doesn’t have to have great lyrics for me to connect with it. A good song doesn’t need to possess deep meaning for me to enjoy it. In fact there is nothing more formulaic and boring than a guy with an acoustic guitar pretending to hold the meaning of life. However, when I come across an album with lyrics that have a genuine and distinctive reflection on life I develop a spiritual connection that goes beyond the music. That is the way I feel about the new Kieran Kane release Somewhere Beyond the Roses. It would be great if it stopped there; but in this case the instrumentation and arrangement of the songs makes the album one of the top releases of the year. Kane has been cranking out the brilliance in the last several years both as a solo artist and with Kane, Welch and Kaplan. However, with this release Kane is playing his trump card.

To begin with it is hard to even adequately describe the style of his banjo playing it is so eclectic. He combines this on the songs with a Baritone Sax that hearkens back to the alternative rock band Morphine. Deanna Varagona (Lambchop) supplies this baritone sax, Richard Bennett (Neil Diamond, Mark Knopfler) is on electric guitar, and Lucas Kane (Kane’s son and contributor to Kane, Welch, Kaplin) is on drums. David Olney provides backing vocals on “Don’t Try To Fight It” and Fats Kaplin plays steel guitar on “Unfaithful Heart”. The unusual banjo and Sax combination gives the music complexity even though the production is stripped down and raw. In almost perfect harmony with this minimalist yet edgy instrumentation the lyrics are infused with a raw spirituality. The spirituality is earthy. There is nothing esoteric about the lyrics. They are deep and infused with timeless truth.

Sample Tracks

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stephanie Schneiderman

Tony Furtado recently produced an interesting project, Dangerous Fruit by Portland, Oregon Indie Pop artist Stephanie Schneiderman. It is some masterful songs that are bent and twisted in some different directions. Fans of Feist should really like her. She is creating a Buzz in the Northwest.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wolfmother New Album

I don't often hype metal but Wolfmother is worth the exception. They have only one album released in 2005 that was equally ground breaking and derivative. Then turmoil hit and they supposedly broke up. However, co-founder Andrew Stockdale is back with a new lineup and is set to release a new album. As the real driving force behind the Wolfmother sound I expect nothing less than another masterpiece and am excited for the release. You can already pre-order Cosmic Egg on iTunes.

Listen to "New Moon Rising" onMySpace

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mindy Smith - Stupid Love

The best way to understand the present state of Mindy Smith's career is to put that career in the context of how it really began. Mindy Smith was included in an all-star tribute album to Dolly Parton, Just Because I'm a Woman (Sugar Hill, 2003). However, in 2003 Smith was no All-Star, but there she was on an album with Allison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Kasey Chambers, Shelby Lynne and Norah Jones among others. Dolly Parton was so impressed with her cover of "Jolene" that she sang on the version recorded for Mindy Smith's 2004 debut album. In fact,the two of them remain close Friends. Fast forward to 2009, and you see a Mindy Smith taking a step away from those rootsy and acoustic beginnings and embracing a more diverse sound, and potentially a wider audience.

Widening your appeal can be a tricky proposition, often to create breadth an artist will sacrifice depth. Fortunately, there is nothing shallow about Stupid Love. There is a theme to the album. Love is tough and involves heartache and disappointment. However, there is enough good to make it worthwhile. Maybe that is why love is stupid. There is more heartache than happiness for humans when it comes to love. Is it really worthwhile? Is it worth all the heartache we go through in the search for true love? When you look at human behavior the answer seems to be yes. Mindy Smith seems to have noticed this also, and to her it seems to be stupid. How ironic! The fact that we are stupid enough to look for true love makes it all the more satisfying when we find it. It is the depth of her music that ha always made me connect with it. On Stupid Love I see a Mindy Smith that has widened her appeal in a way that will not weaken her connection with her existing fan base.

This review also appears on Twangville

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Brendan Benson Power Pop Genius

Brendan Benson has taken a break from his side project ith Jack White, The Racoteurs. He is back to doing what he does best, making great Power Pop. Hooks and tunes you can listen to0 over and over. My Old, Familiar Freind is certainly familiar territory for this under appreciated Indie star.

Check out his letterman performance from earlier this week:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Radney Foster New Album

REVIVAL will be releasing on September 1st. I am a huge Radney Foster fan and this promises to be a huge release for him. Following on the death of his father, I have no doubt this will be an emotionally charged release:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Grant Langston - Stand Up Man

When I first looked at the CD and saw a song called “Shiner Bock and Vicodin” I thought it had possibilities. Then I listened to the song, which featured a naked guy in a wedding, and knew that Stand Up Man couldn’t miss. Then I remembered that Grant Langston was the guy who dared to do a Country cover of “Fat Bottom Girls” and even made it work. Talk about an oddity, a Honky Tonk Freddie Mercury song sounds more like a bad porno, but it is hilarious. “Burt Reynolds Movie Brawl” is a tongue in cheek reference to the obligatory donnybrook that always seemed to be included in Reynold's movies. In that song Langston referred to, “The guy in the L. S. U. T-shirt that looks just like Terry Bradshaw” and I almost drove my car in a ditch. Langston also provides a fresh perspective on aging in “The King of Sunset Hills,” which is the story of man who finds renewed vigor when he is sent to a retirement home as a “Thoroughbred champ turned out to stud… The doctors they cannot believe their eyes, he’s lost 14 pounds and his prostate’s the normal size.”

If humor was all there was, Stand Up Man would fall short. Fortunately there is so much more. The melodies and musicianship are great and there is a mix of traditional country and modern roadhouse sounds. I highly recommend this CD, but I don’t recommend going naked to weddings. Do us all a favor and save the nudity for the honeymoon.

Check out the title cut.

This review also appears on Twangville

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Best of 2009 So Far ...

There is no better way to return and get things kicked up again than with a best of list. But a little healthy debate never hurt anything. I actually have fun doing it but the truth is rankings can change with moods or the weather. Plus the music industry is so prolific these days with all of the new media it is difficult to choose. So I just assembled the necessary tools and started ranking. In case you are wondering the essential tool needed for such an endeavor as this are, Shiner Bock Beer, Blanton's Bourbon, a dartboard, little pieces of paper in a hat, Corn Nuts, and a Moon Pie for energy. The results of this combination are below for you to read and then tell me what the hell I missed:

1) Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses - Roadhouse Sun
2) Buddy & Julie Miller - Written in Chalk
3) M. Ward - Hold Time
4) Wilco - The Album
5) Roman Candle - Oh Tall Tree in the Ear
6) Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies
7) Elvis Costello - Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
8) Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles - The Stars are Out
9) Charlie Robison - Beautiful Day
10) The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
11) Slaid Cleaves - Everything You Love Will be Taken Away
12) Bob Dylan - Together Through Life
13) Deer Tick - Born on Flag Day
14) Scot Miller & the Commonwealth - For Cryin' Out Loud
15) Hill Country Review - Self Titled
16) Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream
17) Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band - Outer South
18) Donna Ulisse - Walk this Mountain Down
19) Gina Villalobos - Days on Their Side
20) The Gourds - Haymaker!
21) Derek Trucks - Already Free
22) The Flatlanders - Hills and Valleys
23) Dallas Wayne - I'll Take the Fifth
24) Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Self Titled
25) Son Volt - American Central Dust
26) Chuck Mead - Journeyman's Wager
27) Todd Snider - Excitement Plan
28) Red Stick Ramblers - My Suitcase is Always Packed
29) Sarah Jarosz - Song Up in Her Head
30) Old Californio - Westering Again
31) Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
32) Sara Watkins - Self Titled
33) Pter Holsapple and Chris Stamey - Here and Now
34) Kendal Carson - Alright Dynamite
35) Cracker - Sunshine in the Land of Milk and Honey
36) Mark Olson & Gary Louris - Ready for the Flood
37) Sam Roberts - Love at the End of the World
38) The Greencards - Fascination
39) U2 - No Line on the Horizon
40) Dierks Bentley - Feel that Fire
41) Wayne Hancock - Viper of Melody
42) Otis Gibbs - Grandpa Walked a Picket Line
43) Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey and the Gru Grux King
44) Fiction Family - Self Titled
45) The Damnwells - One Last Century
46) Romi Mayes - Achin' in Yer Bones
47) Webb Wilder - More Like Me
48) Michelle Malone - Debris
49) Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels
50) Patteron Hood - Mudering Oscar

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back in the Saddle adn headed to Charlotte

After taking a month off to due to my work load at the day job that pays my bills. Additionally, my wife and I have been finding a house in our new city Charlotte, North Carolina. (A move also resulting from the day job that pays my bills.) Now all we have to do is move. As a result, the worldwide AWT headquarters will be following along.

So as of Monday next week i will be back in the saddle with new content and in the process of moving my home base to the Queen City. Sorry for my absence but I assure it was needed, even if ti was unplanned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Roman Candle - Live at Workplay Birmingham, AL May 24t

From the first moment Roman Candle took the stage playing "Eden is a Garden" and lead singer Skip Matheny demonstrated his average white American leaping ability, I felt it would be a special show. I was not disappointed. The performance was high energy but laid back. That may sound oxymoronic but if you were in attendance you would know what I mean. There was nothing pretentious about Roman Candle. Aside from the aforementioned leaps by the vocalist, there was no showing off. There was however plenty of good music. There is a spiritual side to Roman Candle that they deliver without the maudlin shoe gazing of your typical "high school emo band." (See link to "Why Modern Radio is A Ok") They manage to do it while having fun, which seems to be the exception in modern music. They played a good balance between their current release Oh Tall Tree in the Ear and their previous one, Wee Hours revue..

The highlight of the evening was when they played what I think is the best song of the year, "Why Modern Radio is A Ok." Another high moment was "Another Summer" from Wee Hours Revue. Their professionalism was much appreciated since the audience size was reduced dramatically because everyone in Birmingham went to the beach for Memorial Day. (So much for the bad economy.) The band's label success may have been recent but they are actually grizzled veterans. They began in Chapel Hill, North Carolina over 10 years ago and developed a loyal following there. They also worked with some of the area's top talent like Thad Cockerell and Caitlin Cary. Also, they regularly toured and recorded with Chris Stamey. According to Skip Matheny, who I spoke with after the show, they decided a different scene might be helpful and now live in Nashville. They have had hard luck with labels over the years but let's hope now is their time.

Listen to the year's best song below:

<a href="">WHY MODERN RADIO IS A-OK by Roman Candle</a>

Monday, June 8, 2009

Reed KD a good find.

I received this Singer Songwriter album in the mail. Reed KD has been a good find check out Kelly's review over at Twangville.

Reed KD Review

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses - Roadhouse Sun

I often wonder if record labels get stressed when an artist tries to top a great debut. After all sustainability can only be proven over time. Then again such anxiety just comes with the territory. Mescalito established Bingham and had critics crowing about his future. Expectations can be a burden, but Roadhouse Sun reveals a Ryan Bingham that is undaunted as his rough hewn voice moves from song to song in a follow up that actually tops its’ predecessor. This shouldn’t be a surprise since he is a former competitor on the Southwestern rodeo circuit. After all, some pencil necked A&R lackey or cynical critic is nothing compared to 8 seconds on the back of bull. In fact, if you are not familiar with Bingham’s story just pick up any Cormac McCarthy novel and you will get the picture. He is not the kind of person to be concerned with the opinions of others. He simply delivers raw emotion and honesty.

Roadhouse Sun is harder driving than Mescalito. In fact, the album title is an allusion to the mood of the album. Bingham is still a troubadour with lyrics that reflect the contemplation of a life spent on the road, yet the music is often ready for Saturday night. It is as if there is a battle going on between home sickness and wanderlust and home front is losing. However, it is precisely this tension that creates the almost perfect balance of Roadhouse Sun. The album is a trip that is both rewarding and fun. So it is time for everyone to forget their expectations of Ryan Bingham because he has arrived.

This review also appears on Twangville

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Winner Is ....

Earle Freeman of Carbon Hill, Alabama

Based on Earl's comment Naked Willie is the pre-ponytail Willie that has all of the element sof Outlaw Willie.

Earl contact me and get me your address and I will put it in the mail.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Jay Bennett - RIP

Sad news to report here is the lead from CBC:

Musician Jay Bennett dies at 45
Last Updated: Monday, May 25, 2009 | 3:11 PM ET CBC News
Jay Bennett, a former member of the band Wilco, died Sunday at his home in Urbana, Ill. The multi-instrumentalist was recording this fifth studio album when he died at age 45.

An announcement from Undertow Music Collective, which released one of Bennett's solo albums, reported the musician died in his sleep, adding, "Jay was a beautiful human being who will be missed."

The cause of Bennett's death is not yet known.

With Wilco, Bennett played on the albums Being There, Summerteeth, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, as well as their Mermaid Avenue collaborations with Billy Bragg, all between 1994 and 2001.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Free Naked !!!! - Naked Willie Giveaway

No I am not trying to convert this sight to Porn. I'm giving away the Naked Willie album. The folks at Apex Exposure are graciously supporting a giveaway of the album I featured right here on AWT a few weeks back.

Just leave a comment about your favorite Willie song or concert moment and I will announce the winner one week from today. Check back on Saturday May 30th and if you are the winner you can e-mail me your address.

I'll get the conversation started. My favorite Willie song is "Whiskey River." It may seem to be a strange selection, but I saw him play it live almost 20 years ago and it just embodied what makes Willie so unique. It was the highlight of that show.

Check out the EPK TV Player

AWT Fave Donna Ulisse on Sirius XM

Pres Release from Hadley Music Group:

Donna Ulisse's in-studio visit with Kyle Cantrell for the taping of his popular new Bluegrass Junction show "Track by Track" will air for the first time on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. EST.

Ulisse and Cantrell discussed and played all thirteen tracks off of her current release WALK THIS MOUNTAIN DOWN and also talked about Donna's early career in country music while on Atlantic Records. The broadcast schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. EST

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. EST

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. EST

The show will air on SiriusXM's Bluegrass Junction which can be found on channel 14 on XM and channel 65 on Sirius

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Red Stick Ramblers - My Suitcase is always packed

The Red Stick Ramblers derive their name from where their hometown, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Their music is also derived from the cultural influences of their native region. Baton Rouge is located along a corridor that runs from New Orleans to Houston. Consequently the Red Stick Ramblers deliver an eclectic mix of Zydeco, Country, Bluegrass and Swing. They also deliver a shindig that is a festive Jamboree whether it is in Cajun country or anywhere else in the country for that matter. Their new album My Suitcase is Always Packed was released this week on Sugar Hill Records, and it is a perfect example of the diversity of influences that dwell in the collective soul of this band.

The album is aptly named as it takes the listener on a road trip of Honky Tonks, Cajun dances and Southern countryside. Along the way they find love and lose it and they get happy and get the blues. The Ramblers are accomplished musicians. In fact, Linzay Young, better known for his smooth vocal styling, has been nominated for fiddler of the year by Offbeat Magazine and he may not be the best fiddler in the band. In the end on the final song of the journey, “The Barnyard Bachelor” the Ramblers give us the moral of the story, “There is only room in the barnyard for just one rooster and that means no chicks for you.”

Check out Lazy Summer day from the new album:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Webb Wilder - More Like Me

Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em." This is the Webb Wilder credo. It is a credo that I have lived by since my college days in the late 80s when I first heard Webb Wilder. Back then Webb was doing the college bar circuit that included bands like Jason and the Scorchers all of which are to blame for my mis-spent youth. Nothing has changed since then for Webb though. Webb is the self-proclaimed last of the full grown men. His humor can take things like circus freaks and make a song about them (As he did in his early classic “Human Cannonball”). His music is Rock and Roll with a mix of Blues and Rockabilly. He is also the epitome of cool. In addition to being a prolific musician, Wilder is a filmmaker. He made a collection indie shorts collectively known as the Corn Flicks in the spirit of 70s B-movies. These movies are as hilarious as they are demented. Wilder was also a DJ for XM Cross Country before it became a fatality of the Sirius merger.

Mostly though Webb likes to Rock Hard, and his new album More Like Me has plenty of examples to prove it. The album begins with the Rockabilly throw down “Ju Ju Man.” It is no secret Webb is a fan of Link Wray and that influence is apparent on “Don’t Slander Me,” a song in which space aliens make an appearance. “Honky Tonkin’ (in Mississippi.)” is an electric blues number that will no doubt get the crowd moving. The ballads on the album are a mixed back. “Sudden Stop” is a very good number and a very unique song for Webb, but “She’s Nor Romantic” frankly could have been left off the album. Another notable cut is the Southern Boogie of “Still Water Runs Deep.” More Like Me is Wilder’s first album in five years. It is safe to say he hasn’t forgotten his credo and still knows how to have a good time. Look for him on tour and I promise you will have time worthy of a full grown man.

Sample at his Website

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sara Watkins Goes Solo

When you heard about Nickel Creek prior to their break up most of the focus was on mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile. Although Sean Watkins' guitar work also collected a following. In fact, Watkins and Thile have had similar solo success. Since they parted ways, Thile has garnered praise with the Punch Brothers and Sean Watkins has received similar accolades with Fiction Family. Still you can't make a wheel with just spokes. You need a hub to get it rolling. The hub of Nickel Creek was clearly Sean's sibling and fiddle player Sara Watkins. Chris and Sean were flash and athleticism. Sara was the class and elegance of the group and made their sound cohesive. Without question she has always shown a mastery of the fiddle. However, she was always quiet and in the background until she sang in that smooth and calming voice. It is her voice that gets overlooked. I remember a late night session at Merlefest when she broke into a beautiful hymn and I swear my heart stopped beating it was so powerful.

In making her first solo release she asked a few friends to help. Of course her brother and Thile showed up. For producer John Paul Jones, bassist for Led Zeppelin, volunteered. She could have stopped there, but for good measure she invited other Friends to join. The duo of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings pay a visit, as do Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, Tim O’Brien, Punch Brothers’ Chris Eldridge and Ronnie McCoury. Sara also demonstrates the breadth of her talent by writing 8 of the 14 songs included in the final product. You don't have to be a fan of Bluegrass or New Grass or any other kind of Grass to appreciate this album. The word of the day is elegant. For a definition buy the album.

This review also appears on Twangville

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Spiritual Power of Music

The Sunday Night Shout is a happening in Nashville that Mike Farris started in order to recover lost Gospel Soul and Funk songs. It turned in to a type of church and spiritual healing for the participants. They decided to record it live at the Station Inn. The album Shout Live released this week. Check out the EPK below:

Steve Earle - "Townes"

Steve Earle is set to release Townes, his follow up to Washington Square Serenade, on May 12th. The 15-song set is comprised of songs written by Earle’s friend Townes Van Zandt. It will also be available as a deluxe two-CD set. The fact that the two were so close means this will be more than your typical tribute album. It will be his interpretation of his freind.

Check out this sneak preview:

To Live is to Fly

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Under the Radar - 2009 Surprises

I wanted to highlight a few bands I have run acriss this year that you may not have heard of but are woth checking out:

Angus and Julia Stone A Book Like this - This brother and sister duo make emotional story songs with haunting mid-tempo melodies. They are starting to get some notice with this North American Debut.


No Show Ponies The End of Feel Good Music - Americana influenced Pop with intelligent lyrics. The album by this Austin based band was produced by Kevin Russell of The Gourds. It also features John Dee Graham. The album won't release until Fall but it should hit with a bang.


Poerterdavis - Another Austin group that was just awarded best Roots Rock Band at the Austin Music Awards. They are working on a yet un-named album wiht Gurf Morlix. Enough said. Look for it this Fall.


Bosque Brown Baby - Haunting modern folk sung in way that mixes in influences of traditional church music. Chritian overtones reflect the Baptist upbringing of Mara Lee Miller. The music is mesmerizing. It is both forboding and beautiful.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Willie Nelson - Naked Willie

Many people will tell you it all began back then. What was the “Nashville Sound” in the sixties is now Adult Contemporary with an accent. I don’t know if I totally agree, but there is no doubt that the “Nashville Sound” was the first attempt to put a formula on the music in order to make it marketable to a broader audience. Chet Atkins was largely responsible for this sound. However, it is hard for me to be too hard on a legend like Atkins. Clearly he was not attempting to rip the roots out of Country music. He was trying to widen the audience, but I find it hard to believe that he was attempting to render the Genre indistinguishable from other forms of Pop music as it is today. Whether intentional or not, the “Nashville Sound” grew into a glutinous, money hungry monster.

In the late sixties a successful songwriter recorded some sides for RCA. His name was Willie Nelson and he was responsible for many hits including “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. These recordings were done in Nashville and produced with the typical orchestration and choral milieu of the day. Thanks to longtime Willie band mate Mickey Raphael the vault has been opened on these recordings. They have been remixed with the ear candy removed. On Naked Willie it is apparent that when these songs were recorded, the “Red Headed Stranger” already existed. On this special project Raphael has peeled the onion back and revealed where Willie was headed. He just did it about 35 years after Willie did it himself. It does not matter, because these recordings in there altered state are powerful examples of Willie's passion whenever they were done.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Romi Mayes - Achin' In Your Bones

With honest emotion and raw guitars Romi Mayes is emerges from Canada and delivers a gut punch on her new release Achin’ in Yer Bones. The album was produced by none other than Gurf Morlix, who also plays and contributes vocals to the project. Mayes is at times as unfiltered and plain spoken as Mary Gauthier. At other times her sound is more refined. Then there are songs like “Tire Marks” where she is just a bad ass. She is a Country singer with a Blues attitude, but Dusty Springfield also haunts the dark recesses of the album. Even when Mayes displays her softer side it has a hard edge. On “I Won’t Cry” she watches her lover go and although it hurts, she puts it in perspective and vows to move on. “I’ve been around the block I know the pain of loss. It ain’t nothing new. I’ve lost my father, my sister, my heroes and lovers like you … I won’t cry, not for you.” Almost as if proving her point, she follows that song with “If the Lord Don’t Love You,” a straight on in your face Blues rocker.

Mayes has previously won the WCMA Songwriter of the year award and I feel certain more notoriety is in her future. She is about to head to Europe where she has already developed a following. I hope she can increase her following in the US. There are certain artists that are just honest and sing from the heart. Listening to Romi Mayes you can feel the earnest emotion. This is real. Most people avoid reality. They chose instead to watch reality television , which is anything but real. On Achin’ in Yer Bones you can’t avoid reality. It is right in front of you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Flatlanders - Hills and Valleys

Nobody in this band has anything left to prove. Individually Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock have established their reputations so deeply in their home state that you can not talk about the Texas Music scene without mentioning them in the same breath. The collaboration of the three as The Flatlanders goes back about thirty years to their days living in Lubbock. By this point in time, what they have together is beyond collaboration. It is kinship. Indeed Hills and Valleys which will be released on March 31st by New West Records sounds as relaxed as a family reunion. In fact, I feel like it is as good as anything they have done in the past. I understand that is saying a lot, given their long history of recording together; but Hills and Valleys floored me.

The album opens with “Homeland Refugee” sung by Ely. It is an extremely powerful reflection on the current state of our country told, in typical Ely fashion, from the perspective of someone living in the thick of it. The album is not all serious though, in typical Flatlanders fashion, they can bring a smile to your face on songs like the Tex-Mex infused “No Way I’ll Never Need You.” Also, they have not forgotten how to rock the roadhouse. On “Just About Time” Ely sings as the band lays down house rockin’ crunchy guitar licks. As if great songwriting was not enough, the trio brought in ace producer Lloyd Maines to bring it all together. The album is not perfect. There are a couple of weaker tracks on the album, but the best songs on Hills and Valleys are truly great.


This review also appears on Twangville

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

SBBS New Video

My thanks to the Sarah Borges Fan Club for giving me a shout about the new video from the album. If you haven't figured out by now, I love the new Album.
Fan Club MySpace

Get out the Vote for Fiction Family

The first video from Fiction Family "When She's Near" is nominated to be put on the regular rotation on MTVU. In case you haven't heard the band is comprised of Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins and Switchfoot's John Foreman. It sounded like a strange partnership when I heard of it, but the result is a Pop masterpiece. The vocal harmonies and guitar work of Watkins make for a combination that works. I for one am just excited there is an MTV network that still shows videos.

Vote at MTVU

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles New Direction

Check out Kelly's Review

For anyone who is worried about her new direction don't be. The new album is Fantastic!!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pierce Pettis is Born Again

Pierce Pettis has never gotten credit he deserves. He is a thoughtful lyricist. He delivers his stories and messages with a twist of irony and poignancy that is hard to ignore. Pettis has been laying low for the last 4 years. With the release of That Kind of Love it is apparent that Pettis has not spent that time slack-assin’ around. He has been creating the poetic piquant songs which have garnered him such a loyal following. Pettis’ fans are a loyal bunch who have no doubt been waiting for this release and will not be disappointed. His followers may not number as large of a group as Bruce Cockburn, John Hiatt or Steve Earle, but they are loyal just the same. Pettis also does a couple of good covers on this album. The best of the covers is the opening track, “Nothing but the Wind,” originally penned by Mark Heard. He follows the theme of the opener with the self-written tune, “I Am Nothing.”

That Kind of Love features many guest artists who have appeared on Pettis’ past recordings. Stuart Duncan (fiddle, banjo), Andrea Zonn (background vocals, strings), Reese Wynans (Hammond B3), Phil Madeira (Hammond B3, accordion), Byron House ( bass), and Garry West (electric bass). West also produced the album and co-owns the label Compass Records. Needless to say, with this supporting cast the musicianship equals the song craft. When Pettis is at his best, which he is on That kind of Love, his music is transcendent. In fact, he is most reassuring when he points us outside of ourselves. “I am nothing but the angels sometimes whisper in my ear. They tell me things and then they disappear. Though I am nothing, I sometimes like to make believe I hear.” I for one am listening.

Sample at Compass

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE will releases his Sophomore album on March 3rd. Midnight at the Movies follows close on the heels of The Good Life. Sometimes success breeds more success and based on some MP3s like the one below it should be a welcome follow up Check it out. The album is on Bloodshot Records.

What I Mean to You MP3

Jason Isbell and the 400 New Album

Life is good. A new Jason Isbell album can cheer up my day and I haven't even had a chance to listen to it. Some things are just destined for greatness.

Check out the EPK:

I understand he kicked things off with an in store at Grimey's in Nashville.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Derek Trucks - Already Free

Virtuosos can sometimes be so esoteric that it makes them less accessible. So it has been at times with Derek Trucks. It is not his fault he is just on another plane musically. His brilliant improvisation has garnered wide acclaim but it also makes it hard for him to reach a wider audience. The release of Already Free should introduce Trucks to the wide audience he deserves. With the help of friend Doyle Bramhall II and is better half Susan Tedeschi hes has put together a brilliant and entertaining album. There is a lot more than Trucks slide guitar acumen on Already Free from the opening cover of Bob Dylan's "Down in the Flood" it is game through the closing title track.

What is pleasure? Blues, R&B, Jazz or Gospel take your pick the buffet is open. Trucks recorded the album in a new studio he built behind his house in Jacksonville, Florida. Putting Derek Trucks in a private studio is like locking a mad scientist in a lab. However, this is science you can dance to.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Otis Gibbs - Rocketing Up the Charts

Otis Gibbs' new album Grandpa Walked a Picket Line Has risen up to number 5 on the Americana charts in only a few weeks. If you haven't checked it out you need to do so. I caught a short set he played last weekend at the Evening Muse in Charlotte. I wish he had played longer. He composes stories based on personal experience of his life as a wanderer. He has slept in hobo jungles and lived with mauntain shepherds all in search of honesty. He is a bit of a radical that has a raw unfiltered message.

Springsteen's New Classic

Having been able to listen to the new CD Working on a Dream a few times now, I can only conclude the album is a new classic. Springsteen has lost nothing over the years. His superbowl halftime performance showed he still has the ability to take over a crowd. Check out Jeff's review on Twangville

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Gourds - Live at Visulite Charlotte January 22nd

Some things never change. The sun rises and sets every day, The Earth spins on its’ axis, Amy Winehouse gets wasted, Britney parties with no panties, Congress pisses away taxpayer dollars and The Gourds rock. From the first time I saw them years ago at SXSW until I saw them on January 22nd at Visulite in Charlotte they still freakin’ rock! They are older and a few miles have been put on the tour bus but a Gourds show is still about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. They started off with “Country Lovin’” from the new album Haymaker then went into “Cranky Mulatto” off of Noble Creatures. The first half of the show focused on new and recent releases. The band is a group of multi-instrumentalists and has three members that sing. Over the years they have become more electric which I think has enhanced their studio albums. Also, it has made their live shows even more eclectic, and they were already the musical definition of eclectic.

In the middle of the show local Charlotte Americana musician David Childers joined the band on stage and sang a few of his own songs. At this point the band began to play more of their older songs. It is amazing to witness them move from irreverent acoustic songs to more electric jams so seamlessly. Also, I am happy to report that Accordion player Claude Bernard pronounced Burger King’s new “Angry Whopper” a success. They opened the encore with the classic “Magnolia” and followed it up with “Kicks in the Sun” which seems to have become a new classic. Some in the crowd were a little disappointed that they didn’t play “Gin and Juice” but I can imagine they need a break from that song now and then. Ausitn Singer-Songwriter Ramsay Midwood opened the show and with a little help at various times from The Gourds played a very entertaining set.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mark Olson & Gary Louris - Ready for the Flood

Some songwriting teams are made to be together. No doubt Mark Olson and Gary Louris established themselves as such a team with the early Jayhawks albums Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass. They established themselves along with Farrar and Tweedy of Uncle Tupelo as leaders in the Alt- Country phenomenon of the 90s. The problem with songwriting partnerships is that egos and creative differences more often than not create tensions that can not be overcome (see Lennon and McCartney for example). The Jayhawks lost Olson and Uncle Tupelo could not overcome the clash of egos. It is highly doubtful we will ever see a reunion of Farrar and Tweedy. Thankfully time seems to have healed wounds for Olson and Louris. As a result they have provided us with a memorable reunion.

Ready for the Flood shows us what we have missed, and what a sweet reminder it is. The album is a decidedly mellow and subdued reunion that showcases the duo’s harmonizing formula. The natural fusion of their voices has not been diminished by time or absence. In fact, songs like “Bicycle” will stop you dead in your tracks They have written and toured together recently and that certainly helped, but there is something organic that happens musically with these two on songs like “Doves and Stones,” and the most upbeat tune on the album “Chamberlain, SD.” Though the album is a bit melancholy it is a pure joy for listening. The album was produced by Chris Robinson of Black Crowes and will be released on January 27th. Welcome Back!


This review also appears on Twangville

Mary Kate O'neil Video - Nashville

I ran across this video released in advance of Mary Kate O'Neil's forthcoming Nettwerk release Underground. I am not familiar with any of her previous work but this is a catchy Indie - Pop song. The album was co-produced by Jill Sobule and has a cadre if indie rock veterans as guests. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Donna Ulisse - Walk the Mountain Down

Donne Ulisse Will be releasing a star studded Bluegrass album, Walk the Mountain Down on January 20th. The album is her second traditional Bluegrass album. She wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album. Produced by Keith Sewell it also includes an all-star cast of players including, Andy Leftwitch, Byron House and Rob Ickes. Ulisse has been singing all of her life but in Nashville she is better known as a songwriter (Although she did have a brief record deal with Atlantic in the early nineties). Walk the Mountain Down establishes Ulisse as an accomplished voice in the Bluegrass world. It is a world she is very familiar with being married to Rick Stanley, a close relative of Ralph Stanley. In fact, The Clinch Mountain Boys played at her wedding.

The new album is full of well written and arranged Bluegrass and Gospel gems that also reflect her Country influences. "Trouble With You" and "In My Wildest Dreams" are infectious tunes. "Levi Stone" is a moving although dark story song. The title cut and "Everything Has Changed" are very good Gospel influenced tunes. There is a lot of good Bluegrass being produced these days, but Donna Ulisse will not get lost in the shuffle. She will be noticed.

Sample on CDBaby

This review also appears on Twangville