What the $#%& is Couch By Couchwest?!

Truth be told I really had no idea what the hell Couch By Couchwest was going in . I got that the name was a play off the Austin Music/Tech/Film festival South By Southwest but what else?

Being a newbie I reached out to the Couch By Couchwest via their twitter account for a scheduled of performances. Being a blogger I’m naturally lazy and like to get my information neatly packaged. No dice. I got this response “..this is a festival based on laziness! Do you really think we’d put together a schedule!?”and “Official CXCW Schedule: March 11-18th, videos sun-up to sun-up. Couch, kitchen, bed, bathroom, alternate as needed.” My laziness had been trumped.

So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do. I Googled Couch By Couchwest. I was presented with the main sources for performances, YouTube and Vimeo video uploads that are then gathered by the main site CouchByCouchwest.com,  a step up from their original tumblr page, as a single place for enjoying the music. Past performances by Neko Case (below) and other excellent, and some okay, performances. But there was no denying how compelling the idea of open source cultural event like this was.

The submission criteria makes to mentions of genre, style or guidelines of any type aside from uploading and tagging on the submitted video. This is as democratic as the local open mic except that it’s happening world-wide. Judging my the videos the only crieria is that there is often, but not always a couch in teh videos submitted.

Audience participation comes in the form of posting pics of your pets (sharing the couch with you no doubt) and tacos (apparently the official Couch By Couchwest fare) as well as the often hilarious Twitter feed which is topically aligned by the hashtag #CXCW or #CXCW2012.

Operations take place in secret from some undisclosed location Baton Rouge, Louisiana from the pseudonym, Baron Childs. Childs is reported as saying “There are some really talented people who just don’t’ get the chance to get heard because either they can’t afford to go to South by South West or they families that prevent them from going. This is a way to give those people a voice, too.” and that the purpose of Couch by Couch West is not about exposure or making money, but rather the focus should be on the music. “We’re not making any money off this, it actually costs us money.”

The defies all the conventional ideas about marketing and music publicity and results in an open-source cultural event. So far this week has Couch By Couchwest has given us excellent performance by Austin Lucas, Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil , Imperial Rooster an many others.

In the end Couch By Couchwest is about the joy of music and the serendipitous nature of the web. The use of technology to support the traditional folk and roots legacy of intimate , personal space performances is a great hybrid cultural experience that I can really get behind.


Jason Isbell Accuses Dierks Bentley of Plagiarism

Yesterday evening I was hanging around on the twitter machine (I’m a wild man on a Friday night!) I was watching the usual silliness pass along on the distinguished group of folks that I follow there and then I saw a post from singer/songwriter Jason Isbell that caught my attention:

“Dierks” has officially ripped off my song “In A Razor Town.” Dierks is a douchebag.”

In A Razor Town” is a cut off Jason Isbell’s first solo release ‘Sirens in the Ditch.”

There aren’t many Dierks that I’m aware of in music so my assumption was that he was accusing Nashville Capitol Records recording artist Dierks Bentley. That assumption was confirmed with subsequent tweets as Isbell called Bentley out by his full name and named the title of the allegedly “ripped off” song.

The accused song is “Home,” the title song off Bentley’s 10/10/11 release. Wikipedia states that  “The song was inspired by the Tucson, Arizona shooting that killed six people and critically injured U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011.”

Isbell also accuses Bentley of possibly bringing an idea of his song to co-writer of Home Dan Wilson.

“I bet Dierks brought that idea to the table and Dan ran with it.”

Bentley took to his twitter account to address the accusation:

“@Jasonisbel “I bet Dierks brought that idea to the table and @Danwilsonmusic ran with it.” -HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! that is some funny shit!”

These things are tricky, and I was terrible at spotting copyright infringements in my copyright law class at NYU, but after listening to both songs (below) it’s a pretty amazing coincidence. If Bentley had heard Isbell’s song, and mistakenly brought it to the writers table as his own idea, he needs to listen objectively, fess up and cut Isbell in on the songwriting credits.  That’s what Miranda Lambert did when it was brought to her attention that the title song to her album “Kerosene” was strikingly similar to Steve Earle’s  “I Feel Alright.” Miranda will always be aces in my book for that.

ON EDIT: Ernie over at El Trash has a post striking similarities between Dierks Bentley song “Up on the Ridge” and Matt King’s songs “Hard Luck Road” and “Shanty Town.” there appears to be a pattern forming here.

Jason Isbell – In A Razor Town

Dierks Bentley – Home



Dierks Bentley

Americana Music Association Nominees Announced

The Americana Music Association announced the nominees for the trade organization’s 2009 Honors and Awards ceremony today at its annual celebration at BMI Nashville. The show, in its eighth year, will be held Thursday, September 17 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

I’ve attended the conference and showcase for the last three years and it’s always an amazing time. I don’t agree with all the nominees, and as a member of the organization I voted accordingly. But one thing is for certain, every nominee kicks the shit out of 99% of the CMA Awards.

The 2009 Americana Music Association Honors and Awards Nominees are:


Real Animal, by Alejandro Escovedo
Written in Chalk, by Buddy & Julie Miller
Jason Isbell & The 40 Unit, by Jason Isbell & The 40 Unit
Midnight At The Movies, by Justin Townes Earle


Alejandro Escovedo
Buddy Miller
Justin Townes Earle
Raul Malo


Buddy Miller
Gurf Morlix
Jerry Douglas
Sam Bush


Band of Heathens
Belleville Outfit
Justin Townes Earle
Sarah Borges


“Chalk,” written by Julie Miller, performed by Buddy Miller & Patty Griffin
“Country Love” by the Gourds
“Homeland Refugee,” by Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock, performed by the Flatlanders
“Rattlin’ Bones” by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, performed by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
“Sex And Gasoline,” by Rodney Crowell, performed by Rodney Crowell


Buddy & Julie Miller
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
Reckless Kelly

Chris Rock on the Music Business

Chris Rock turns his always insightful eye on the music industry in the Current Rolling Stone

Chris Rock: Music kind of sucks. Nobody’s into being a musician. Everybody’s getting their mogul on. You’ve been so infiltrated by this corporate mentality that all the time you’d spend getting great songs together, you’re busy doing nine other things that have nothing to do with art. You know how shitty Stevie Wonder’s songs would have been if he had to run a fuckin’ clothing company and a cologne line?

RollingStone: Plenty of rappers say, “I’m not a rapper, I’m a businessman.”

Chris Rock: That’s why rap sucks, for the most part. Not all rap, but as an art form it’s just not at its best moment. Sammy the Bull would have made a shitty album. And I don’t really have a desire to hear Warren Buffett’s album – or the new CD by Paul Allen. That’s what everybody’s aspiring to be.

We live in a weird time. No one knows who’s smart – we just know who makes money. “Hey, somebody invented Viagra! We don’t know their name, but we know Pfizer, because they make the money.” That guy made a pill that keeps your dick hard, and nobody knows who the fuck he is. The pharmaceutical companies are like fuckin’ record companies. There’s literally the Bo Diddley of medicine walking around, not getting his royalties. He signed all his fucking pill publishing away.

(“Rolling Stone”, Issue 1039, November 15, 2007, page 157)

Shout out to the LefsetzLetter for bringing this pearl to my attention.

AMA Conference Highlights

This is just brief rundown on events here in Nashville at the Americana Music Association conference. I will add more detail next week.

Meeting Barbara Lamb, Sunny Sweeney, Chip Taylor, Kendal Carson, Gurf Morlix , Stacy Earle and Janet Reno!

The Halloween tribute to the memory of Porter Wagoner with Mark Ferris, Rodney Crowell, Jim Lauderdale and Emmylou Harris.

Seeing Darrell Scott at the Station Inn.

The AMA Awards at the Ryman Auditorium (the Mother Church of Country Music) featuring Joe Ely, Guy Clark (in a tribute to Townes Van Zandt) , Lyle Lovett, The Avett Brothers, Patty Griffin, Old Crow Medicine Show, Darrell Scott, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale and Emmylou Harris.

Eating Jacks BBQ and drinking Big River Brewery beer.

Visiting the Hatch Show Print studio.

More Big Label Idiocy

How stupid do the major labels think their customers are? The Wall Street Journal‘s front page detailed a plan to deceive customers by passing off a signed talent, a 24-year-old singer and guitarist named Marié Digby, as a DIY YouTube using amateur cover-artist trying to get a deal.

Are the labels so bereft of ideas and hard up for the good old days when they printed money and screwed the customers and the artists that they are now willing to squander any shred of remaining good will they might still have with fans, well, at least the ones they haven’t sued? For an unknown cover artist? I mean where is the frikkin upside here? Are they trying to build a more justifiable moral case for musical piracy?

Country music’s soul remains it’s authenticity. Nashville has been very effective peddling pop-country hat acts to people that wouldn’t know Hank Williams from Robbie Williams, but this is a level of calculated fraud that would embarrass even the most hard-bitten music row veteran.

Good for the Journal for exposing this sham. I hope this level of coverage of business misconduct doesn’t diminish under the new ownership by media mogul and FOX News steward, Rupert Murdoch. I won’t be holding my breath.

SXSW Showcase Update

An update in fun doings in Austin.

What: Guitartown/conqueroo SXSW week kickoff party & showcase
When: Wednesday, March 14, 12 noon until 9 p.m.
Where: Mother Egan’s Irish Pub, 715 W. 6th St.

11:45-12:10   Randy Weeks
12:25-12:50   Ed Pettersen
1:05-1:30   Michelle Shocked
1:45-2:10   Scrappy Jud Newcomb
2:25-2:50   Walter Tragert
3:05-3:30   Tom Freund
3:45-4:10   Jon Dee Graham
4:25-4:50   Pam Tillis
5:05-5:30   James McMurtry
5:45-6:10   Uncle Monk featuring Tommy Ramone
6:25-6:50   The Silos
7:05-7:30   The Summer Wardrobe
7:45-8:15   Patty Hurst Shifter
8:30-9:15   TBA

What:  Whatever That Is Party (sponsored by Split Rock Records)
When:  Friday, March 16th, 2:30 – 6:30pm
Where:  The Ginger Man Pub, Austin TX

2:30pm  Michelle Shocked
3:30pm  Freedy Johnston
4:30pm  Ed Pettersen
5:30pm  Uncle Monk (Tommy Ramone)
6:30pm  TBA

Willie Nelson and Rick Rubin Are Nominated for a Grammy

Typically I could care less about the Grammy’s. I mean COME ON! Hootie & the Blowfish, Milli Vanilli and Culture Club! Yeesh! But because because of a flash of musical perception, odds, or whatever…they sometimes get it right. This year the folks at the Grammys have a couple of winners..if they actually win that is.
Willie Nelson’s You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Album and Rick Rubin has been nominated for Producer of the Year, Non-Classicalfor his work on Johnny Cash’s album American V: A Hundred Highways and the song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”. He is also nominated in the same category for his work on albums from Neil Diamond, The Dixie Chicks, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Sugar Hill CEO Barry Poss Featured in the Wall Street Journal

There a great article on Sugar Hills Records CEO, and recipient of the 2006 Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award, Barry Poss in today’s Wall Street Journnal. poss does a great job describing his vision in championing artists “with one foot planted firmly in the traditional world, but were young enough to be exposed to pop music of the time. These artists include Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Tom O’Brian and Marty Stuart. I believe Poss best underscores that the recording industry will need to get back to it’s, pardon the pun, roots when he says “If you stay close to your fan, if you work hard and are passionate about the marketplace and the music, you can be fine at this (market) level, even with all the changes that may seem a threat for some of the recording industry.”   Amen brother!