The simple-minded view of country music as a soundtrack to the religo–fasict faction of red state America completely ignores the poor, working class roots of country music and the and the multifaceted, complex great artists that created it. Sometimes a release reminds you of all of that and does it in spades.
Texas’ Spicewood Seven brings us Kakistocracy (rhymes with democracy), meaning “government by the incompetent and corrupt, and in the midst of the current Bush administration I’d say that’s about right.
Keeping up the tradition forged by the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson. Loretta Lynn, Steve Earl and many others Kakistocracy is a condemnation of the corruption of American values by the powerful elite. Great music has always been created in response to war. From Woody Guthrie to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – the horror of war cries out for artists to address it.
Led by lyricist Luke Powers and multi-instrumentalist Tommy Spurlock (a longtime stalwart of the Austin music scene who’s recorded with everyone from George Jones to Shania Twain), the Spicewood Seven include guest shots from a variety of names both well-known (Garth Hudson of the Band adds organ) and some less-so – Leon Rausch, Brennen Leigh, David Hearne, Elana Fremerman, Jimmy Karstein, Rosie Flores, Jane Bond. All songs were written by Tommy Spurlock and Luke Powers, the disc was mixed and produced by Tommy Spurlock for Austin Records.
Song themes run from the Iraq war (“Crawford, Texas,” and “Going Down the Road to Baghdad”) and the blight of methamphetamine on rural America (“Crystal Time”). Protest music succeeds or fails by the same standards all music does, is it boring? Spicewood Seven makes music that speaks to your mind but also moves your ass.
Much fuss was made a couple of years ago when Green Day released the punk-opera”American Idiot” in response to the buffoons in Washington. Kakistocracy makes American Idiot sound like easy listening.