Brad Armstrong is an auteur of atmosphere. On his newest release the guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist of the post-Southern rock band the Dexateens is working in the darker areas of the human psyche and the relationships and culture it forges to cast those shadows.
On ‘Cherokee Nose Job’ A strummed acoustic guitar gives no tell of the grizzly scene being set.
“Drew my best hunting blade, through my long, lost lovers face, and I sent her in the street to make amends.”
Slide dobro and electric guitar snakes around, refrains then bursts into a rushing torrent of feedback, bloodlust and righteous indignation.
Armstrong says of the song:
“CNJ is one of the more violent and harsh songs I’ve written. The plains Indians had a thing where if a woman were found to be cheating on her husband, they would slit her face open, up her lips and through her nose, so the rest of the tribe could see what part of her got her in trouble. The husband would do it. Stephen King had a riff about it in his novella Rage, which has stuck with me since I read it, at about age 14 or so. I just got to thinking about this Jim Jones kind of dude, like in Dogs of God by Pinckney Benedict, making his crazy family up in the mountains, and how he would probably do something like that. I had originally started doing a whole record about this crazy dude, but scrapped it. There are three tunes that survived from this project: CNJ, Deep Water, sung by Maria Taylor, and Shrines. I decided not to run them together in the sequence or anything, but those three go together.”
‘Cherokee Nose Job’ is from Brad Armstrong latest release “Empire.” Two songs from the album have been placed on the Audience Networkâ€™s show â€œKingdomâ€ as well as ABCâ€™s hit show â€œNashvilleâ€.
Another year has passed and the amount of quality music being created continues seemingly unabated in spite of the economic conditions surrounding those creators. More great Americana and roots music is being cerated than possibly any time in history. And along with the awards and resulting sales for artists like Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton the music is becoming more prominent in popular culture which assures its ongoing economic viability and influence in the future for more creative endeavors.
And as a fan itâ€™s just plain badass.
But the picture is not all rosy. The golden goose rule applies in few areas more than it does in the music industry. Without the creators output the delivery channels offer nothing. No creator no business. The blame for the pitiful state of revenue sharing gets murky in the finger pointing. Pirating is the most obvious offender (stealing is stealing) But obtuse and outdated licensing laws and artists with little or no sense of their business worth plays into the overwhelming problems that plague the music industry. Some would like to blame technology for the current sorry state of the music economic environment, but the history of delivery – sheet music, radio, TV, movies or streaming, pays the fees they are legally bound to pay. Itâ€™s that legally mandated equitable distribution that needs to be seriously addressed if fans, and musicians, values the fruits of that labor.
And speaking of streaming, the digital access to music has blurred the concept of genres in the perception of an entire generation. Without the absolute geographic boundary of the record store bluegrass and thrash metal are served effortlessly from the same pipe allowing music in the mind of a young fans to be evaluated into good or bad. Will genres disappear altogether? I donâ€™t think so. Human decision processes rely too much of distinctions and connections for it to melt into a mass of mono-genre . But these distinctions will matter less as a badge of personal culture separation and division. Music is becoming a format that brings us together in live events and online conversation.
But for every rules there are exceptions. I love the craft beer boom that is growing here in Texas and all over the nation. The creativity and ingenuity displayed by creates that love their craft is a treat to anyone with consideration to what they imbibe. But in that culture grows a geekdom that can verge on snobbery. A subgroup that use their love of quality as a self-appoineted status used as a license to condemn those that donâ€™t align with their gospel. Music fandom falls into these same human patterns. Iâ€™ve done it myself. Nothing is more tedious then someone droning on ad nauseum about the inferiority of Budweiser or Florida Georgia Line. But Iâ€™ve never been a fan of barrel fish.
But when the industry, beer or music, systematically excludes selection (http://www.twangnation.com/2015/05/31/an-americana-response-to-saladgate/) based on some demographic studies to keep them rich and us without choices that needs to be addressed.
I resolve in the new year to try and refrain from wasting time on obviously contrived product, focus on the beauty and care taken on the rare, good stuff and the ways we can get more of the latter to our speakers.
No radio station, label, industry group or hell, blogger for that matter, has a monopoly on great music. It can come from anywhere at anytime. Let’s find it together.
Criteria – Calendar year 2015. No EPs, live, covers or re-release albums no matter how awesome.
Donâ€™t see your favorite represented? Leave it in the comments, and here’s to a new year of twang!
14. Matthew McNeal – â€˜Compadreâ€™
McNeal creates music well beyond his 22-years on this planet. The rollicking road tale opener of loneliness and doubt â€œAlonelyâ€ sits comfortably with lonely introspective ballads like ‘A Losing Hand’ – â€˜Itâ€™s a shame, my dear, the way the cards were dealt Not a diamond on the table to make it alright Two hearts laid down, Two spades to bury them Iâ€™ll be playing at a club out of town tonightâ€™ – build into an impressive if rough around the edges offering of Texas roots rock and soul.
13. Aaron Lee Tasjan – ‘â€˜In The Blazesâ€™
Country and folk can often feel weighted down by earnestness. It takes a deft hand of someone like Roger Miller or Bobby Bare Jr. to bring levity to the style without trading in attention and respect to the craft. Wry just short of snark lyrics in theâ€œE.N.S.A.A.T.â€ (East Nashville Song about a Train) is a Heartbreakers-esque send up of the Ohio natives current residence and itâ€™s movement toward bohemian homogenization. â€œJudee is a Punk,â€ a bittersweet ballad that namechecks Jesus and the Ramones and â€˜Bitch Can Singâ€™ is a buzzed-out number that sound like what might have happened if the Stooges had cut a track in Muscle Shoals studios.
12. Sam Outlaw – â€˜Angelenoâ€™
Between the â€œOutlawâ€ surname (from his momâ€™s side), his past life as an ad-sales director to his SoCal zip code thereâ€™s much to warn you off Sam Outlawâ€™s Ry Cooder-produced second full-length â€˜Angeleno.â€™ Like many on this list Outlaw well reflects a golden era of country and roots music without being weighed down by copping a nostalgic novelty routine. The opener â€œWho Do You Think You Areâ€ is a smooth danzÃ³n-mambo number punctuated with mariachi-style horns that brings the tropical heat. â€˜Iâ€™m Not Jealousâ€™ is a smart honky-tonk send up of the ‘Walking the Floor Over Youâ€™ that turns the tables on the lady painting the town. Ignore all the surface and dive in and you too will be a believer.
11. Daniel Romano – â€˜If I’ve Only One Time Askin’
Canada’s contribution to roots music is significant. From Hank Snow to all but one member of The Band it’s safe to say without or northern neighbor our favorite music wouldn’t be where it is today. Enter Daniel Romano , an ex-punker turned neo-traditionalist is taking classic forms and tropes na turning them on their ear. The string soaked opener ‘I’m Gonna Teach You” and the honky-tonk weeper “All The Way Under The Hill’ shows he can play it straight but the funk outro of ‘The One That GoT aWAY (Came Back Today)” and biting lyrics show there more there under the countrypoliton sheen.
10. Sarah Gayle Meech – ‘Tennessee Love Song’
If you think the outlaw spirit resides only in the YX chromosome Sarah Gayle Meechâ€™s sophomore release,’Tennessee Love Songâ€™ will set you straight. Meech takes us on a grand tour of country musicâ€™s genres and themes over the years. From the title cuts 70â€™s era Countrypolitan to the slinky, greasy groove of â€˜No Mess,â€™ Tennessee Love Song,â€™is a amalgamation of styles forged into an extraordinary body of work.
9. Mike and the Moonpies – â€˜Mockingbird’
So often we are sold a product with a â€˜country musicâ€™ pasted on itâ€™s exhilarating to hear a release that needs no outward claim. From the moseying pace of the barstool confessional of â€˜One Is The Whiskeyâ€™ or the boot-scooting twin-fiddle driven shuffle of â€˜Say It Simplyâ€™ thereâ€™s no denying Mike and the Moonpiesâ€™ third studio album bona fides. This is a shot of pure, great country music with no crossover dilution. God bless country music and god bless Texas.
8. Chris Stapleton – ‘Traveller’
Anointed the new savior of country music Stapleton is no overnight story. He cut his teeth on Music Row for over a decade penning hits for the likes of Kenny Chesney and Darius Rucker. He took a turn in the spotlight being the original power house lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of the The SteelDrivers. He was so good at that gig he inspired Adele to cover one of their songs. On his solo debut â€˜Travellerâ€™ Stapleton lends his soulful rasp to sparkling originals and breathing life into the George Jones and David Allan Coe chestnut”Tennessee Whiskey.â€ Stapleton wife, singer/songwriter Morgane Stapleton provides a welcoming warm countering harmony on many of the songs. Will â€˜Travellerâ€™ change the ways of Music Row? No and who cares?
7. Andrew Combs – â€˜All These Dreamsâ€™
â€œPopâ€ music getâ€™s a bad rap these days. But Andrew Combs sophomore release shows that the Texas-bred, Nashville-based singer/songwriter is an astute disciple of ’70s countrypolitan/folk rock in the vein of Glen Campbell, Mickey Newbury, Gordon Lightfoot, and Harry Nilsson that reminds us that pop can be inspired instead of just insipid. The album’s first single, “Foolinâ€™â€ features a Jeff Lynne-style driving beat sliding up against Tejano-inspired break reminiscent of Doug Sahm era Texas Tornados.
6. Gretchen Peters – ‘Blackbirds’
Gretchen Peters knows a thing and more about song craft. A member of the esteemed Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame she enlisted a roster of contemporary American roots music luminaries like Jerry Douglas, Jason Isbell, Jimmy LaFave, Will Kimbrough, Kim Richey, Suzy Bogguss to help create her latest dark jewel. Pretty Things rides a â€œOnly Women Bleedâ€ melody and builds an atmospheric ode to to lifeâ€™s ashes and rust. â€œBlack Ribbonsâ€ is a moral tale on that BP disaster that isnâ€™t cheapened by tin-ear moralizing.
5. Ryan Culwell – â€˜Flatlandsâ€™
Though this is his third album I am a newcomer to Ryan Culwell. But Iâ€™m a believe now. His sound and hardscrabble tales bare the mark of country and rock found in much of the Texas troubadours like as early Steve Earle, Ryan Bingham and Rodney Crowell, whose voice he sometimes eerily suggests. The title â€˜Flatlands’ refers to the Texas panhandle where he grew up and he and his family worked the oil fields. â€œRed Riverâ€ is a chillingly sparse stroll through a muddled morality and quiet strength of the everyday.
4. Jamie Lin Wilson – “Holidays & Wedding Rings”
A familiar face on the Texas music scene, Jamie Lin Wilson’s wonderful full length debut, Holidays and Wedding Rings, is a collection of songs that pulse with authenticity. Her voice is comforting familiar and so uncompromisingly real. Itâ€™s the perfect vehicle to deliver these tales of hope, love, heartache and mortality. These are roadhouse confessionals and bar and small town testaments wrenched from the personal and identifiable roads we all travel. The pain and regret is palpable on â€œJust Some Thingsâ€ Wilsonâ€™s duet with Wade Bowen follow both down an intersection of regret and quiet desperation. â€œItâ€™s like running for the edge and thinking youâ€™ll fly/Knowing damn well that itâ€™s suicide.â€ Cheating is a staple of country music an the ballad â€œRoses by The Dozenâ€ brings a contemporary sound and slant to this murder ballad featuring Texas singer/songwriter, Courtney Patton on harmonies and the sparse arrangement and placid vocals on â€œWhisper On My Skinâ€ will deliver a chill to the skin and bring a tear to your eye.
3. John Moreland – “High on Tulsa Heat”
Texas born / Tulsa, Oklahoma-based singer-songwriter has only three records chalked in his discography but he’s already drawing comparisons to John Prine and Guy Clark. These are not names to evoke in a trifle, but this is more than hot air. Moreland digs deep beneath the surface and drags up the hope, pain and heartbreak that binds us in our shared humanity. In â€œHeartâ€™s Too Heavyâ€ his own humanity is on display â€œWell these angels in my eardrums / They canâ€™t tell bad from good / I lived inside these melodies / Just to make sure I still could.â€ In a field where sincerity and songcraft are the stock-in-trade John Moreland has the goods to earn a place with the greats.
2. James McMurtry – “Complicated Game”
“Honey don’t you be yelling at me while I’m cleaning my gun. I’ll wash the blood off the tailgate when deer season’s done.” In the hands of a lesser songwriter hands this exchange between a shop owner looking down at his retirement and his wife might come off hackneyed. But Texas songwriter James McMurtry trained eye , honed over twelve records , the trailer park scenarios and lonesome road characters ring full and true. “Complicated Game” finds McMurtry uncharacteristically hopeful and romantic. It suits him, but these textures are kept short of cloying by his usual sardonic humor. One thing stands true, his stories crackle with his usual empathetic intelligence with a literary eye.
1. Jason Isbell – “Something More Than Free’
It’s satisfying to see someone with a dedication and passion for music evolve and gain confidence in their craft to become truly exceptional. “Something More Than Free,’ Isbell’s follow-up to 2013’s ‘Southeastern,’ has all the markings of that growth, maturity and focus. Songs like â€œIf It Takes a Lifetime,â€ with it’s shuffling ragtime-tinged rearview (I thought the highway loved me but she beat me like a drum) whole also looking ahead with hopeful determination to a better future (I keep my spirits high / find happiness by and by) and the title cut, with it’s soulful ode to pride in purpose and the study on the folly of planning that is â€œ24 Framesâ€ are all perfect examples of Isbellâ€™s instinct for storytelling. With one boot in coffee shop folk and the other in the roadside honky-tonk he was just the man to straddle the Americana music divide and bust to the top of the Billboard Country, Folk and Rock charts. Isbell has become an artisan of life sketches that feel genuine in their detail and reverence. That’s what makes these songs exceptional.
On August 7th everyone’s favorite dark country chanteuse, Lindi Ortega, will release her fourth album ‘Faded Gloryville’ out on Grand Tour/Last Gang Records.
Ortega lends her signature crystal trill and lonesome wail to the album, created over three sessions and produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Shooter Jennings), who also worked on her previous effort, ‘Tin Star’ recorded three songs at the Sound Emporium in Nashville. Colin Linden (T Bone Burnett), who was behind her “Cigarettes & Truckstops’ album., produced four songs and the Single-Lock Records heads Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes) and John Paul White (Civil Wars) produced three songs tracked in Muscle Shoals, including a Nina Simone-inspired update of the Bee Gees classic “To Love Somebody.”
The press release reads “Although all three sessions were different, every one of them focused on live studio takes, capturing both the rough-edged rawness of Ortega’s live performances and the smooth salve of her voice.”
“There’s something about the Shoals that entices artists to forget themselves, to reimagine, to reinvent,” says John Paul White, whose harmonies can also be heard on three of the album’s tracks. “Lindi did a great job of immersing herself in what we do around here, yet retain that thing that makes her indelibly unique. That takes an amount of confidence that most do not have.”
The Canadian ex pat appears to have a cinematic frame of mind for her newest effort. To her “‘Faded Gloryville’ represents a state of mind — a place we all visit on our way to something bigger and better. It’s the dark, dreary town that looms on the near horizon, infinitely closer that the far-off destination we’re trying to reach. Most weary travelers pull their cars into ‘Faded Gloryville’ and stay awhile, beaten down from the long journey. Some are willing to dust themselves off and leave town in the morning, though, determined to chase after their goals regardless of the conditions.”
“‘Faded Gloryville’ isn’t just about music,” she told Rolling Stone Country. “It’s about anything that brings you down, whether it’s dreams not coming true or relationships not working out, and its message is this: you can go to place where you’re feeling really down about things, but it’s what you do afterwards — do you decide to reside there forever, or do you leave and make the situation better — that matters. You have to travel through ‘Faded Gloryville’ to get to Paradise.”
‘Faded Gloryville’ – Track Listing
2. Faded Gloryville
3. Tell It Like It Is (Hear below)
4. Someday Soon
5. To Love Somebody
6. When You Ain’t Home
7. Run-down Neighborhood
8. I Ain’t The Girl
9. Run Amuck
10. Half Moon
It takes guts to cover Townes Van Zandt. A musician will fall short of the original can take comfort that though they get leads of cred for choosing the legendary songwriter.
â€œWaitinâ€™ â€˜Round To Dieâ€ is one of Van Zandt’s darkest songs in a discography brimming with melancholy. A nameless drifter recalls abusive from his father, abandonment of his mother, drug and alcohol abuse, fast women and then a stretch in prison. All leading to a husk of man waiting for his new companion, codeine, to take his wretched life.
This is not a tailgate party ditty.
Townes’ first wife, Fran Petters, stated in the Townes documentary, “Be Here to Love Me, that “Waiting ‘Round To Die” was the first song Van Zandt composed during their marriage in Houston, Texas. My favorite version of the song was done Van Zandt on the extraordinary documentary of 1970’s roots music, :Heartworn Highways.” Townes lays the song his Austin, Texas home picking his guitar picking in his signature style as his neighbor and friend Seymore Washington sits nearby. At one point during the performance 75 year old Washington begins to weep.
This is the power of music.
Where’s Townes original was spare and spacious, Whitey Morgan fills the space with a Ennio Morricone-style arrangement swirling around his his Southern-soul baritone.
Whitey Morganâ€™s â€œWaitinâ€™ â€˜Round To Dieâ€ from forthcoming â€˜Sonic Ranchâ€™ – May 19th
Delta Rae continues to hone their craft for and dark theatre with the video for their new song ‘Scared.”
The video was shot in New York City with director Lawrence Chen, the same man who helmed their wonderful ‘Bottom Of The River; video.
An aching song of relationship insecurity backdrops the scene of shady deal, involving a painting of a cat with a crown of all things (was that a ‘purrrr” I detected in the beginning of the song?!) , that goes horribly, horribly wrong. In the ned I guess his fears were quite founded. A bad end is elevated by that glorious harmony!
Pre-orders for our new album, ‘After It All,’ are on sale now! Order today and receive instant downloads of ‘Scared and new recordings of Run, Chasing Twisters, and I Will Never Die. The first 500 Album+Lithograph Bundles ordered from our online store will be signed by the band.
On March 31, 2015 Nickel Creek founder Sean Watkins will release a limited pressing split 7â€ featuring two songs – a lovely version of the classic murder ballad â€œBanks of the Ohioâ€ featuring Fiona Apple (hear it below) and â€œDead Flowersâ€ with ex-member of Old Crow Medicine Show Willie Watson. Pre-orders currently available at Bandcamp and come with an immediate download of â€œBanks of the Ohioâ€. It will also be made available digitally on 3/31/15.
Of the Apple collaboration Watikns told Rolling Stone “Fiona and I met and started playing songs together,” he remembers. “(The L.A. listening room) Largo was still a small place back then, a place you could go try out new things and learn new songs, so we started finding some music we both could identify with. I learned some songs she had grown up singing â€” mostly jazz standards â€” and then she learned the equivalent for me, which was bluegrass songs and murder ballads.”
Canadian folk rock duo Whitehorse (Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland) has released a spellbinding video for their Spaghetti-Western-meets The Zombies’ “Time Of The Season” cut “Sweet Disaster.”
The video, directed by Ken Cunningham, features delicate overlayed images with washed-out white. The images fit perfectly with this song the band describes as ” a story about one rich manâ€™s quest to send a couple to Mars. Itâ€™s fitting subject matter for Melissaâ€™s first ever love song to Luke, and for a band described thus far as â€œspace cowboy lovebirdsâ€ (Now Magazine, Toronto).”
Whitehorse’s song “Sweet Disaster” from the album Leave Kickstarter-funded “No Bridge Unburned,” out February 17, 2015 on Six Shooter Records.
If you’re a fan of roots music there is only one place to be in the fall, and that’s Americanafest. The Americana Music Association will be presiding over this 15th Festival – along with its Conference and Awards Ceremony – in Nashville, September 16-21.
This is the premier industry event celebrating the music we love. Thousands of artists, fans and industry folks from all over the world will gather to talk biz, eat BBQ, drink local beer and, yes, hear the best music on the planet.
then get up the next morning and do it all over again (pace yourself, drink water!)
This year the increased the number of acts has grown to 160 (!) performing across 11 venues (!!) This might have given me more awesome choices, but I’ve yet to figure oy t that whole cloning myself thing. This makes seeing many performances, many happening at the same time, an impossibility.
But the upside is no matter where you find yourself you’re in for some of the best music going.
Over the years of attending this extraordinary event I’ve tried to dig deep in the bill and look for hidden gems that might I might miss on my initial scan. Some newer or more obscure performers are the ones that can often leave an impression and have fans talking for days after.
Though I like to see the big names as much as anybody, There are a few names that fly a little lower under the radar but will be well worth making time for.
Caroline Rose – The Basement – Tuesday September 16, 2014 7:00pm – 7:45pm
Caroline Rose just came across my ADD addled mind and I’m better for it. Pop folk never sounded so fresh and vibrant.
John Moreland – High Watt – Wednesday, September 17, 2014 11:00pm – 11:45pm
There’s nothing fancy about a John Moreland performance. He sits alone, mostly with an acoustic guitar spinning rich tales of the human landscape. His sparse, concise yet elegant style has him counting Lucero and Jason Isbell as fans and having his songs showcased on the biker drama, Sons of Anarchy
Hannah Aldridge – Fanny’s House of Music “Americana Ladies Night Line-Up” – Thursday September 18, 2014 5:30pm – 8:30pm
A voice of the ages that can be heard from two blocks over (unmiced) Aldridge beings the goods and more on her sterling debut “Razorwire.”
Banditos – The Rutledge – Thursday September 18, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
This Nashville-by-way-of Birmingham band is a potent blend of rock, country and soul that draws on many influences and squeezes greatness from every drop. Some of the tunes might seem “jammy” but they always right themselves and head straight for solid framework.
Zoe Muth’s sweetly plantive voice sings songs of hardscrabble love and life that can tear out your heart or rock your soul, often at the same time.
Shinyribs – High Watt – Wednesday September 17, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Shinyribs is the pseudonym of The Gourds mastermind of madness Kevin Russell. Tightly arranged tunes, spiked with a heavy dose of whimsy, shows Russell reflecting a stew of influences from Bob Wills to the Texas Tornadoes.
Jonny Two Bags – The Basement – Wednesday, September 17, 2014 11:00pm – 11:45pm
Sometimes punk rockers age and cross over to Americana. Sometimes their original band has always had a foot in the dusty road. The latter is the case for Jonny Two Bags. As the guitarist for the SoCal institution Social Distortion, Jonny Two Bags didn’t have to travel far to pull out his
Whiskey Shivers – Station Inn – Thursday September 18, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Newgrass? Naw, how bout thrashgrass. Whiskey Shivers heats up the already hot genre by pulling in an audience and making a performance a communal celebration that will have you to leaving your troubles at the door. They’ve even caught the ear of fellow Texas genre-hopper Robert Ellis who has produced their upcoming self-titled album.
Otis Gibbs – Station Inn – Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Otis Gibbs is what a musician looks like that refuses to compromise. His songs are instantly relatable and yet poetic.The man effortlessly exudes that ever elusive quality of authenticity.
Hello Strangers – Two Old Hippies – Friday, September 19 6:00 PM – 7:00pm
Sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace hail from the foot of the Appalachian mountains, due north of the Mason-Dixon Line , in Mercersburg, PA. They ended up in Austin where they worked their craft in the rich music scene helped hone their harmony-rich folk and roots rock spirit.
Jonah Tolchin – Third Man – Friday, September 19, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Jonah Tolchin’s voice belies his years on earth. His neo-soul roots style transports you and breathes life into the past.
Marah – The Basement – Friday, September 19, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Marah are one of my favorite rocks bands, all ramshackle and passion fueled recklessness. Thier newest roots music production, ‘Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania’ takes all that’s great with the band and runs it through a copper wire od dark mountain folk.
Nashville by way of Texas classic country and Townes Van Zandt influenced Cale Tyson’s musical path. Tysonâ€™s latest EP, “High On Lonesome” reflects that legacy with hints of Gram Parsons, Guy Clark and Willie Nelson.
After seeing Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, Jamestown Revival, at an LA Americana event honoring the Everly Brothers I was hooked. They arguably stole the show that night. This was a show that included Rodney Crowell and Bonnie Raitt get there early. JR might be somewhat off the radar but their popularity is growing.
Cory Branan – High Watt – Friday, September 19, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Sharp songwriting and an aversion of the lazy trope has made Chuck Ragan and Lucero into fans of Cory Branan. Come see what all the fuss is about.
Grace and Tony – Station Inn – Saturday September 20, 2014 8:00pm – 8:45pm
Grace and Tony come from a bluegrass and punk rock background respectively. Not just joining in matrimony they fused a hybrid style they describe as Punkgrass. Colliding the worlds of Charlie Poole and The Clash might have been a disaster for some, but they make it work thanks to a love of craft many of live performances in front of adoring fans.
Lera Lynn – High Watt – Saturday September 20, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Texas-born Lera Lynn has a hard one to characterize. A little Dusty , a dash of Loretta, leads to a quality to her that make her rock-roots/soul style irresistible.
Jason Eady – Mercy Lounge – Saturday, September 20, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Jason Eadyâ€™s is the odd man out here. He’s not Americana, he’s country..or at least he’s what country used to be , before it became Americana. Damn it just go see him!
David Ramirez – The Rutledge – Saturday September 20, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Austin’s David Ramirez is the textbook definition of a troubadour. A songwriter hammering out hard tales with a guitar and a song. His extensive touring has gained him fans from coast to coast.
With the official demise of the Civil Wars I invite you to turn your wistfully romantic ears toward husband and wife dup Carolina Story (Ben and Emily Roberts.) Though they can get a little more country (read twang) than TCW the Arkansas couple can also plumb the depths of a forlorn soul.
Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons – The Basement – Sunday September 21, 2014 12:00am – 12:45am
Joe Fletcher’s solo debut ‘You’ve Got the Wrong Man,’ populated with soldiers, scammers, hangers-on, hellraisers, boozers and the woe-begone. Comparisons to Tom Waits would not be far off.
Performers like Konrad Wert (Possessed By Paul James) , Scott H. Biram and Hillstomp have been spectacularly creating Depression era country, bluegrass, folk, gospel, and blues music for years by jolting the dusty form with a furious intensity and emotional directness that would make Marcus Mumford sob into his vintage hanky.
We can now add to that the Joplin, Mo. trio of Ben Miller, Doug Dicharry and Scott Leeper, collectively known as The Ben Miller Band.
Producer Vance Powell ( Wanda Jackson,Buddy Guy, Jack White) is just the right man to steward ‘Any Way, Shape or Form,’ TBMB’s debut for New West records, though the many influences that make up what the band calls “Ozark Stomp” and bring out the band’s best effort to date.
Opener “The Outsider” evokes Dock Boggs and split Lip Rayfield as Miller’s clawhammer banjo, Dicharry’s percussion and Leeper’s washtub bass kick up a foggy mountian moshpit accenting by a hot guest slide guitar break by Chad “Gravy” Graves. The spirit of John Lee Hooker is raised in the jump boogie of “You Don’t Know” with a nasty little guitar break in the middle, and in the greasy/sleazy ‘Hurry Up And Wait” which features Dicharry’s blazing washboard work. Things gear down on the melancholy “I Feel for You” which is given a a dreamy quality from the inclusion of Graves pedal steel and Dicharry’s mandoline. The inclusion of the vaudeville-jazz ditty “23 Skidoo”, a 1920’s slang phrase for getting while the getting’s good is an odd twist especially when it grows into a dramatic swell. “Burning Building” is an Appalachian-meets-garage rocker that would make Jack White give a pasty smile.
the treatment given to the traditional folk ballad “The Cuckoo.” The internal dialogue of the piece occurs in a fever dream of roots-psychedelic, stabbing guitar, musical spoons and furious percussion. “Twinkle Toes,” is a jaunty lock-down break-down sing-along featuring blistering dobro. “Life on Wheels” kicks off like a “Whiskey River” remake but quickly breaks another direction as harmonica brings to mind a whining train whistle. “No War,” is a lofty Phil Ochs-style topical folk song calling out corruption and ponders the metaphysical.
“Any Way, Shape or Form” is work of considerable scope executed into a whole of rambunctious cohesion. It leaves you wondering what else Ben Miller Band might have up their sleeves.
The Americana Music Association continues its tradition of showcasing some of the best in Americana and roots music by it’s partial roster of Americanfest performers released today.
Though the lineup doesn’t show any groundbreaking direction, I’m fine with that. There are lots of folks on the list that have been busting their hump for years and deserve this recognition rather then inserting acts to placate outsider accusations of one thing or another. Personally I’m happy to see Casa Twang favorites Howlin’ Brothers, Jamestown Revival, John Moreland, Lera Lynn, Marah and Ben Miller Band on the bill. And Texas is well-represented by Billy Joe Shaver, Sarah Jarosz, Jason Eady and Hayes Carll
The event is celebrating its 15th as the premier Americana event by welcoming 160 performers taking the stage at 11 venues including 3rd & Lindsley, The Basement, City Winery, High Watt, Cannery, Mercy Lounge, The Rutledge, Station Inn, Music City Roots, Downtown Presbyterian Church and Musicians Corner.
Three-time Americana Group of the Year, The Avett Brothers, will headline the event at Riverfront Parl on Saturday Sept. 20. Americana’s Music Festival & Conference registrations will have access. Tickets for the general public will go on sale Friday, June 27 at 10AMat www.ticketfly.com.
The first half of Americanafest’s performing artist list includes:
The Avett Brothers
The Barefoot Movement
Ben Miller Band
Billy Joe Shaver
Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay
The Cactus Blossoms
Chatham County Line
Danny & The Champions of the World
The Deadly Gentleman
The Dustbowl Revival
Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo
The Fairfield Four
Green River Ordinance
Gregory Alan Isakov
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
JD Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers
Jonny Two Bags
Lake Street Dive
Lee Ann Womack
Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy
New Country Rehab
Quebe Sisters Band
Todd Snider & Friends
Tony Joe White
Trigger Hippy (feat. Jackie Greene, Joan Osbourne, Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac & Nick Govrik)
The 15th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference occurs September 17-21, 2014 in Nashville, Tenn. The 13th annual Americana Honors & Awards Show on Sept. 17 at the historic Ryman Auditorium.