Listen Up! Aaron Lee Tasjan – “The Trouble With Drinkin’ ” [EXCLUSIVE]

Aaron Lee Tasjan
Aaron Lee Tasjan. Photo by Stacie Huckeba.

A highlight of last year’s Americana Music Festival was when my friends and I happened on a set at The High Watt while mulling about in the huge Cannery space in Nashville. The smaller, newer space was packed with onlookers, arm-to-arm, whose collective attention to the stage made us curious and whose collective body heat warmed the outside night chill out of us.

On the stage was a solo performer, spectacles covering most of his boyish face. A nautical-themed cap casting a shadow on the scruffy folk-singer with a side-slant smile. He picked at an old banged-up Guild acoustic, told stories about seeing Ted Nugent live and beautifully performed songs clever as they were reflective.

The crowd was transfixed by Aaron Lee Tasjan.

Tasjan had moved on from his glam rock days shredding guitar with New York City’s Semi Precious Weapons to and was making his way to his current incarnation as one of East Nashville’s most sought-after axemen and solo troubadours. Damn well transition too. On the surface his songs, Roger Miller and Frank Zappa, sprinkled with wry humor might divert you from the beauty of the songs and the care in the music. That would be a lazy mistake.

Case in point is Tasjan’S new song “The Trouble with Drinkin’” A Leon Russell-style folk-funk stroll through a place where heaven’s open bar keeps that amber current flowin’ through his mind. (Apologies to Willie Nelson) The musicianship and tight. the song structure if casual but deft, and those just here for the groove might overlook it. And that’s cool. But try a little harder and reap greater reward of deft song craft that would compel Shel Silverstein and John Prine to take him out for a few rounds.

Of “The Trouble with Drinkin’ ” origin Tasjan recalls:

“I came up with this song on my way out of Rock Island, IL. I was on tour last fall opening for The Legendary Shack Shakers. This was no small feat to accomplish because they are without a doubt one of the most exciting and entertaining bands I’ve ever heard, and I had to get up there with nothing but an acoustic guitar before they’d come on and decimate the place every night. We were playing a gig at a place that was also a brewery, and I had checked into a hotel that was right across the street from the venue, which can be dangerous. Touring all on your own has a great way of keeping your post-show good times in check because you have to be responsible for everything. You don’t have to be as responsible when there’s nothing to do after a show but stumble across the street to your hotel room while on the phone to Domino’s. Playing a gig at a brewery is always gonna be a tough one, too, if you like beer because they’re going to give you a shit ton of it, and you’re probably going to drink it either because you want to or because you were raised to be polite and take what you’re offered.

I woke up the next morning feeling pretty alright, save for the late-night pizza and all those free beers, so I went to a coffee shop to get some breakfast. Afterward, as I went to pay, I realized—or more accurately, thought that I realized—I left almost all the money from the gig in the hotel room I’d just vacated. When I went back to the room, though, the cash wasn’t there so I decided to retrace my steps in my mind to figure out the last place I had it. And that’s when the suddenly vivid memory of my pizza delivery man profusely thanking me multiple times upon receiving payment for the pizza came back to me. At the time, I’d drunkenly thought, “What’s the big deal? Anyone can pay for a pizza. It’s not a particularly impressive thing to do.” But it probably was pretty impressive to the delivery guy that I’d handed him all my gig money, effectively paying him around $200 for a $10 pizza.

At first I was mad he kept it, but then I thought, “Man. Maybe this guy could really use it. Maybe he came up $100 short on his kickstarter and now he can make an album and get out of this pizza gig or something.” Either way, I made peace with it and started driving down the road thinking about how I probably shouldn’t get hotel rooms close enough to the gig that I could George Jones myself out of two C notes. It had all been too easy. That was the trouble with it—there wasn’t any trouble with it. And I do like things that don’t require too much effort.”

Aaron Lee Tasjan’s “The Trouble With Drinkin’” is from his debut solo LP ‘In the Blazes,’ out Oct. 6th

8/1: Newport, KY – Southgate House Revival w/Lilly Hiatt
8/20: Charlotte, NC – The Evening Muse w/Lilly Hiatt
8/29: Tulsa, OK – The Colony w/Wink Burcham
9/3: Memphis, TN – 1884 Lounge w/Ray Wylie Hubbard

Watch Out! Rolling Stones – “Dead Flowers” with Brad Paisley Nashville June 17, 2015

Rolling Stones - "Dead Flowers" with Brad Paisley

The Rolling Stones are about half-way through their American “Zip Code” tour, but they waited until last night at Nashville’s LP Field to break out the classic cowboy junky track “Dead Flowers.”

Mick and the boys had vocal and guitar help from opener, and fanboy, Brad Paisley, who is donning his own classic lips and tongue logo shirt for the occasion.

See the fan-filmed coolness below.

Listen Up! Jason Isbell – “24 Frames”

Jason Isbell – “24 Frames”

Jason isbell told Rolling Stone that his new song “24 Frames” “…kind of sounds like the way indie rock sounded when I was 15.”

Isbell was 15 in 1994, a year when grunge and post-punk reigned. Though the keen melodic sensibility that echoed through the airwaves then has always been part of Isbell’s toolkit “24 Frames” also owes much to his Southern heritage. The tight-but-loose pop jangle is reminiscent of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and the wail of the slide has melancholy shades of Duane Allman.

But the songwriting is pure Isbell. He has a way of making the common moments exquisite.

“This is how you make yourself vanish into nothing; And this is how you make yourself worthy of the love she gave to you back when you didn’t own a beautiful thing.”

But all is not rosy and Isbell shows in the refrain, accompanied by Amanda Shires’ understated harmony, that plans are for fools.

“You thought God was an architect; now you know, He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow.”

Harkening it’s cinematic reference “24 Frames” is a sonic diorama of the human condition packed into 3:13.

Beautiful in it’s brevity.

’24 Frames’ can be found on ‘Something More Than Free,’ out 7/17. Pre-order it and get ’24 Frames’ as an immeadiate download.

Jason Isbell Announces New Album ‘Something More Than Free,’ Tour

Jason Isbell Announces New Album Something More Than Free

Jason Isbell has officially announced the follow-up to 2013’s breakthrough “Southeastern.” “Something More Than Free,” will release July 17 via Southeastern Records. The record was recorded at the Sound Emporium in Nashville, TN and produced by Dave Cobb, who also produced ‘Southeastern.’

‘Something More Than Free’ features 11 tracks of what the press release calls his “most sonically diverse album to date.” The release also details some tracks – “If It Takes A Lifetime” having a “classic country tone.” “24 Frames” (see video below) has an “easy, Laurel Canyon vibe.” “Flagship” is described as “wistful folk balladry” and “Palmetto Rose” has a “bluesy Southern rock timbre .”

Isbell took to twitter on March 14th to declare that “I think these songs are better than the Southeastern batch.”

Sounds pretty great, yes? I for one can’t wait for June to come.

Isbell and his 400 Unit are currently on the road with old and new songs in towa and featuring some fantastic opening acts. The tour ends with a four-night stand at the Mother Church of Country Music, The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, October 23-26. Isbell visits Texas , but both shows are in Austin – June 20th at a sold-out Texas Union Ballroom show and on July 4 where he plays Willie Nelson’s talent-packed 4th of July Picnic.

tour dates below.

April16 – Chattanooga, TN – Track 29 ^^
April 17 – Charlotte, NC – Tuckfest at U.S. National Whitewater Center
April 18 – Greenville, SC – Horizon Records (Record Store Day 2015 In-Store)
April 18 – Columbia, SC- Music Farm Columbia ^^
May 2­ – Meridian, MS – Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival
May 8 – Richmond, VA – Friday Cheers at Brown’s Island
May 9 – Maryville, TN – The Shed #
May 12 – Jacksonville, FL – Florida Theatre **
May 13 – Clearwater, FL – Capitol Theatre **
May 15 – Orlando, FL – The Plaza Theatre **
May 16 – Atlanta, GA – Shaky Boots Festival
May 17 – Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre **
May 19 – Westbury, NY – The Space at Westbury **
May 20 – Port Chester, NY – Capitol Theatre **
May 22 – Albany, NY – Hart Theatre @ The Egg **
May 23 – Cumberland, MD – Del Fest
May 24 – Boston, MA – Boston Calling
May 26 – Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall **
May 27 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues **
May 28 – Bristol, TN – Paramount Center for the Arts **
June 4 – Cincinnati, OH – PNC Pavilion %
June 5 – Dayton, OH – Rose Music Center at the Heights %
June 6 – Black Mountain, NC – Pisgah Brewing Co. Outdoor Stage°°
June 20 – Austin, TX – Texas Union Ballroom – SOLD OUT
July 4 – Austin, TX – Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic
July 9-12 – Winnipeg, Canada – Winnipeg Folk Festival
July 26 – Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion ✚
July 31 – Fort Smith, AR – Peacemaker Music & Arts Festival
August 14-16 – Lyons, CO – Folks Festival
October 23-26 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
** = Craig Finn opening
^^ = Strand of Oaks opening
# = Anderson East opening
°° = Amanda Shires opening
% = With Amanda Shires, opening for Dwight Yoakam
✚ = Opening for My Morning Jacket
Ryman Auditorium Special Guests:
October 23: Amanda Shires
October 24: Parker Millsap
October 25: Hurray for the Riff Raff
October 26: Chris Stapleton

Listen Up! Matthew McNeal – “Alonely”

Mattew McNeal

Hang on to your Stetsons kids. Fort Worth-based roots-rocker Matthew McNeal has delivered a sizzling track to deliver us into the hot Lone Star spring.

Pure guitar tone sets up McNeal’s soulful, jubilant croon as galloping drums and pedal steel belies this forlorn testament of the self-inflicted isolation of the road.

Of the song McNeal says: “One of the prevalent concepts on the album is the idea of feeling lonesome, even when there’s no reason to feel that way. I always wanted ‘Alonely’ to tell a story- packing up and hitting the road to chase this music-man dream, realizing that love doesn’t always come easy when you’re chasing that dream, then finally seeing that you can’t fulfill those dreams without other folks around. It’s probably one of my favorite studio stories- when we were tracking the tune, we changed the groove of the entire song about ten minutes before actually recording it. I remember looking at my drummer right afterwards and laughing, thinking ‘why didn’t we think of making it this rowdy sooner?!” It’s definitely a fun one to play live, plus I really enjoy telling the story of winning the war against those lonesome feelings.”

“Alonely” is the latest single from McNeal’s upcoming sophomore album, ‘Compadre,; slated for a June release. ‘Compadre’ was recorded at Redwood Studios in Denton, Texas, and produced by Midlake members Joey McClellan (Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and Israel Nash) and Grammy award winner McKenzie Smith (Regina Spektor, St. Vincent and John Grant).

Record Store Day 2015 – Americana and Roots Music Picks


Record Store Day, the annual celebration of local record stores for aficionados of the antiquated data storage device known as vinyl will be taking place as always on the Third Saturday in April. For 2015 that means Saturday, April 18.

The crew behind Record Store Day have been the driving force for 8 years on what we’re now seeing as the explosive, and surprising, resurgence of vinyl releases. The most public example of this is last year’s Record Store Day ambassador Jack White’s the recent sales of his latest ‘Lazaretto’ setting a record for first-week sales by moving 40,000 vinyl copies. This eclipsed the previous long-standing record of about 33,000 held by Pearl Jam’s ‘Vitalogy.’

As overall music sales continue to decline , vinyl sales increased to 6.1 million in 2013, up from 4.6 million the year before. By comparison, total vinyl sales failed to reach even one million units in 2007.

As vinyl grows in popularity there’s is pressure on vinyl manufacturers, who like us all were caught off-guard by the resurgence. But shops like United Record Pressing based in Nashville, TN, the shop responsible for manufacturing White’s best-seller are expanding to meet the growing demand.

The demand for vinyl is partially due to it’s described ‘warmer’ sound, BUt the real drive behind Record Store Day is uniqueness and scarcity. Maay of the releases come on colored vinyl or as picture discs and many of the releases are produced in very limited runs, some totaling no more than a few hundred.

This stands in direct contrast to digital music’s hemogeny of sound and structure. an MP3 might be convenient, but it’s never scarce or unique.

Check out the Americana and roots selections below and take a look at the full list. Get to your favorite indy record early on April 18 (I’ll be at Good Records in Dallas) and share those great finds with me on Instagram and Twitter.

Asleep At The Wheel (with Willie Nelson and The Blind Boys of Alabama) – Unreleased single from ‘Still The King: Celebrating The Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys’
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Bismeaux Records
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
RSD Exclusive single featuring bonus Asleep at The Wheel performances with Willie Nelson and The Blind Boys of Alabama not included on the Still The King album. Signed by Ray Benson, and numbered.
TRACKLIST: “New Spanish Two Step”/”The Devil Ain’t Lazy”

Bob Dylan – ‘The Basement Tapes’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Other Peoples Music
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info: The Basement Tapes recorded in 1967 while Bob Dylan recuperated and features many Dylan songs that had appeared on bootleg records prior to the “official” release in 1975. The recording took place in Woodstock and features four members of the Hawks (Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson – and one American, Levon Helm) better known today as The Band. Individually autographed and numbered by Garth Hudson.

Bob Dylan – ‘The Night We Called It A Day’
Format: 7″ Colored Vinyl
Label: Columbia
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Limited Edition blue vinyl single featuring two songs from Bob Dylan’s newest release “Shadows In The Night”

Brandi Carlisle – special 7”
single of the new song “Wherever Is Your Heart” + B-side cover of Graham Nash’s “Simple Man”

Johnny Cash – Koncert v Praze (In Prague–Live)
Format: 12″ Colored Vinyl
Label: Legacy
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Johnny Cash playing his greatest hits behind the Iron Curtain in 1983. Limited edition heavy weight vinyl release pressed on Soviet Red 180 gram vinyl.

Steve Earle & The Dukes – ‘Terraplane’
Format: 10″ Vinyl
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Steve Earle A-side version of Terraplane (a song not on the record) and a b-side of Robert Johnsons “Terraplane Blues”. Will be mastered at the level of Robert Johnson’s original recording. Most of the versions you hear today are remastered and the db’s are brought up. This one will be as close to the original 78 as possible. Includes download card.
TRACKLIST: A: Steve Earle “Terraplane” B: Robert Johnsons “Terraplane Blues”

Father John Misty – ‘I Love You, Honeybear’
Format: 7″ Colored Vinyl
Label: SUB POP
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Father John Misty presents a lovely, acoustic version of the title track of his latest album, I Love You, Honeybear, along with a new, exclusive B-side, truthfully-entitled “Never Been a Woman,” on a colored-vinyl, heart-shaped 7”. This release is exclusive to Record Store Day, and it is limited to 5,700 copies worldwide. Includes download card.
TRACKLIST: “I Love You, Honeybear (Acoustic Version)”/”Never Been a Woman”
TRACKLIST: Side A: “The Night We Called It A Day” Side B: “Stay With Me”

Charlie Feathers – ‘Charlie Feathers’
Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Sundazed Music
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Crazy, coveted rockabilly recordings from legendary wildman Charlie Feathers! Includes all eight of his King sides as originally issued in ‘56 & ‘57 – now rare and pricey 45s and 78s – with new notes from Colin Escott.
TRACKLIST: “One Hand Loose” / “Can’t Hardly Stand It” / “Bottle To The Baby” / “Everybody’s Lovin’ My Baby” / “Too Much Alike” / “When You Come Around”

Dom Flemons – ‘What Got Over’
Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Music Maker
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
10″ record with nine new tracks. “Included here on What Got Over, there are also a few alternatesto the main tracks I picked for Prospect Hill – versions in which I experimented with the sound and instrumentation but in the end they didn’t make the final cut. I sequenced this EP to be record two of two in conjunction with Prospect Hill. When you reach the end of this album you will have heard the whole Prospect Hill Omnibus! If you take both albums and make them into a playlist it will be a full hour of music.” – Dom Flemons
TRACKLIST: “Big Head Joe’s March”/”Milwaukee Blues”/”Clock On The Wall”/”Keep On Truckin'”/”Hot Chicken”/”Have I Stayed Away Too Long”/”Going Backward Up The Mountain”/”Til’ The Seas Run Dry”/”What Got Over”

Gram Parsons/Lemonheads – ‘Brass Buttons’
Format: 7″ Colored Vinyl
Label: Rhino
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
7″ 45 RPM Vinyl is Circle swatch splatter Bronze on Baby Pink. Part of Rhino’s now celebrated RSD exclusive Side By Side 7″ singles series. Two artists perform the same song. Surprising and unusual performances and repertoire.
TRACKLIST: “Brass Buttons”/”Brass Buttons”

Justin Townes Earle – ‘Live at Grimey’s’
Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Vagrant
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
TRACKLIST: Side A: Call Ya Momma, When the One You Love Loses Faith, Worried Bout the Weather, Single Mothers
Side B: Today and a Lonely Night, Burning Pictures, White Gar

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – ‘A Little Something From The Road, Vol. 1’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Concord
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
12″ vinyl featuring live smokin’ versions of classics from the recent Goin’ Home project as well as a couple extra blues nuggets.
TRACKLIST: 1. “Looking Back” 2. “House Is Rockin’” 3. “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover” 4. “Woke Up This Morning” 5. “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now”

Robert Earl Keen – ‘Gringo Honeymoon’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Sugar Hill
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Much anticipated vinyl issue of the Texas troubadour’s breakout 1994 release.

Lucero – ‘Jukebox Series #3’
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Liberty & Lament
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
TRACKLIST: “Boom Boom”/”Midnight Special”

Mumford & Sons – ‘Believe’
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Glassnote
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Bootleg style 7″ hand numbered and hand stamped. First physical release of music from the upcoming album.
TRACKLIST: “Believe”/”The Wolf”

Willie Nelson – ‘Teatro’
Format: 2 x 12″ Colored Vinyl
Label: Modern Classics/Light in the Attic
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
* First time ever issued on vinyl for Record Store Day 2015
* Features duets with and backing vocals by Emmylou Harris
* Produced by Daniel Lanois (U2 Joshua Tree; Bob Dylan Time Out Of Mind; Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball)
* Record Store Day exclusive featuring deluxe gatefold “tip-on” uncoated jacket and gold vinyl
* Limited to 5,000 copies

Location is everything. When Willie Nelson and album producer Daniel Lanois set out to create a cinematic-sounding album, Teatro, they took over a disused movie theatre in Oxnard, California, and pictured its dusty glory on the LP sleeve. Recorded as-live in situ amid the red velvet seats, Teatro sees Nelson working extensively with his frequent collaborator Emmylou Harris, who joins him for duets and on backing vocals on 11 of the 14 tracks. The other major player is U2 and Paul McCartney collaborator Daniel Lanois (producer of Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind, Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball), who produces the album, plays guitar and bass, took the cover photo and wrote one of the album’s songs, “The Maker”, a stunning performance with glacier-thick vibe.

Originally released by Island Record in 1998, Teatro is issued here as a special Record Store Day release. LA and Seattle-based Light In The Attic present the album as it’s never been seen before – on vinyl. Pressed on gold vinyl with a deluxe, gatefold, ‘tip-on’ uncoated jacket, this is a chance to own this unique album in its most beautifully presented form.
TRACKLIST: Side A: “Ou Es-Tu, Mon Amour? (Where Are You, My Love?)”, “I Never Cared for You”, “Everywhere I Go”, “Darkness on the Face of the Earth”
Side B: “My Own Peculiar Way”, “These Lonely Nights”, “Home Motel”, “The Maker”
Side C: “I Just Can’t Let You Say Goodbye”, “I’ve Just Destroyed the World (I’m Living In)”, “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”
Side D: “Three Days”, “I’ve Loved You All Over the World”, “Annie”

Okkervil River – ‘Sleep and Wake-Up Songs’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Sleep and Wake-Up Songs is now being rereleased for Record Store Day, it’s first time pressed ever on vinyl. Including a demo of the EP track “You’re Untied Again” and the never before released song “Knocking Myself Out,” the EP reveals Okkervil River in-between the monumental albums Down The River of Golden Dreams and Black Sheep Boy. Band leader Will Sheff looked back to this EP, remarking, “I can hear in it somebody who is actually getting comfortable with singing, with playing the guitar, with letting music happen naturally.”
TRACKLIST: SIDE A: 1. A Favor 2. You’re Untied Again 3. And I Have Seen the World of Dreams 4. Just Give Me Time
SIDE B: 5. No Hidden Track 6. You’re Untied Again [Solo Sketch] 7. Knocking Myself Out [Home Recording]”

Reverend Horton Heat – ‘It’s A Rave-Up/Beer, Write This Song’
Format: 7″ Colored Vinyl
Label: Victory Records
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Two brand new, previously unreleased tracks from Reverend Horton Heat on solid red 7″ vinyl with 150 randomly distributed clear pink copies.
TRACKLIST: “It’s A Rave-Up”/”Beer, Write This Song”

Simon & Garfunkel – ‘Homeward Bound/Leaves That Are Green’
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Legacy
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
This collectible 7” 45rpm vinyl releases recreates the origina 1966 “Homeward Bound” single, pairing two essential Simon & Garfunkel cuts from that year: “Homeward Bound” (from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme) and “Leaves That Are Green” (from Sounds of Silence). A Top 5 single in the US, “Homeward Bound” became a worldwide phenomenon reaching #4 in the Netherlands and #9 in the UK while going Top 20 in Australia and Sweden (where it hit #12). The cover for this RSD 2015 release is based on the German single artwork.

Dolly Parton – ‘The Grass is Blue’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Sugar Hill
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Dolly’s seminal 1999 bluegrass debut, available for the first time on vinyl.
TRACKLIST: “Homeward Bound”/”Leaves That Are Green”

Todd Snider – ‘Impending Doom’
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Aimless
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
The A-side of this RSD exclusive 7″ is a Rolling Stones cover, the B-side is an unreleased Todd Snider original.
TRACKLIST: “Shattered”/”Backlash”

st paul

St. Paul and the Broken Bones – Live From The Alabama Theatre
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Single Lock
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Covers of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song” and David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” recorded live at the Alabama Theatre on 11/14/14. Released on a 12″ transparent crimson record SHAPED LIKE THE STATE OF ALABAMA.
TRACKLIST: “Sing a Simple Song”/”Moonage Daydream”

Doc and Merle Watson – ‘Ballads from the Gap’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Vanguard
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:
Fan-voted vinyl re-issue of the iconic release, re-mastered from the original tapes and presented in ‘exact replica’ packaging.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Broeder Dieleman – Split 7″
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Snowstar Records
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
Bonnie ‘prince’ Billy & Broeder Dieleman cover and translate each other, after having toured together in the Netherlands in 2014. Broeder Dieleman is from the south of the Netherlands, and sings in Dutch. He translated Bonnie prince Billy’s ‘Three Questions’, while Will Oldham does his (translated) take of ‘Gloria’
TRACKLIST: 1: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Gloria 2: Broeder Dieleman – Drie Vragen

Junior Brown – Better Call Saul: Theme 7″
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
TRACKLIST: “Better Call Saul”/”Better Call Saul (Instrumental)”

Giant Sand – ‘Valley of Rain (30th Anniversary Edition)’
Format: 2 x 12″ Vinyl
Label: Fire America
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
Marking the 30th anniversary since Giant Sand’s debut album “Valley of Rain,” Fire America brings you this limited edition 2xLP 30th Anniversary Edition. The first disc is the lovingly re-mastered “Valley of Rain” in its entirety, with the addition of the track “Torture of Love,” which was added by Howe Gelb himself. The second disc features extra material recorded as Giant Sand and the pre-Giant Sand line up “Giant Sandworms,” including a “Valley of Rain” remix, a “repaired” version of “Tumble and Tear” along with five fascinating bonus tracks compiled from live and radio recordings from the time period.
• Limited to 500 copies for North America
• Liner notes from Howe Gelb.
TRACKLIST: Disc One: 1. Valley Of Rain, 2. Tumble & Tear, 3. October Anywhere, 4. Barrio, 5. Death, Dying & Channel 5, 6. Torture Of Love, 7. Down On Town / Love’s No Answer, 8. Black Venetian Blind, 9. Curse Of A Thousand Flames, 10. Artists, 11. Man Of Want
Disc Two: 1. Valley Of Rain – Remixed Instrumental, 2. Tumble And Tear – Repaired, + Five bonus tracks

Lydia Loveless & Cory Brannan - 'Prince Covers Split Single'

Lydia Loveless & Cory Brannan – ‘Prince Covers Split Single’
Format: 7″ Colored Vinyl
Label: Bloodshot
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
Two never before released tracks. Physical Only, Purple Vinyl
TRACKLIST: Lydia: “I Would Die For You” Cory: “Under The Cherry Moon”

Lee Ann Womack – ‘Trouble in Mind’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Sugar Hill Records
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
a limited edition 3-Song 12” vinyl – blues classic “Trouble in Mind,” Roger Miller’s demi-obscure “Where Have All The Average People Gone?” and Ralph Stanley’s bluegrass gospel “I’ve Just Seen The Rock of Ages.”

Various Artists – ‘Music To Drink Beer To’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Legacy
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
Music To Drink Beer To is a limited-edition compilation put together by longtime friends Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Adam Block of Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings. Sam, who’s in the beer business and a raging music geek, and Adam, who’s in the music business and a raging beer geek, sat down over a few beers and a stash of well worn vinyl and picked some of their favorite tracks.
TRACKLIST: 01. “Please, Mrs. Henry”/Bob Dylan & The Band, 02. “Fishin’ Blues”/Taj Mahal, 03. “I Put A Spell On You”/Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, 04. “Gimmie Danger”/Iggy And The Stooges, 05. “Whiskey Bottle”/Uncle Tupelo, 06. “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”/The Byrds, 07. “What Good Can Drinking Do”/Janis Joplin, 08. “Mannish Boy”/Muddy Waters, 09. “Scuttle Buttin’”/Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble, 10. “Surrender”/Cheap Trick, 11. “Juicy Fruit”/Mtume, 12. “Electric Relaxation”/A Tribe Called Quest

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – ‘You Can’t Judge A Book…’
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Daddy Kool Records
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has been creating a whirlwind with their riveting and unconventional elixir of muscular and high voltage country blues capped by gritty growling vocals and striking finger picking. Inspired by the likes of Charley Patton, Furry Lewis and John Hurt, Reverend Peyton is steeped in the great blues tradition but is catapulting its roots into a new era.
TRACKLIST: “You Can’t Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover” B/W “Some These Days I’ll Be Gone”

Chris Stapleton – ‘IN STEREO’
Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Mercury Nashville
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
TRACKLIST: “When the Stars Come Out” “Fire Away” “Tennessee Whiskey”

The Waterboys – ‘Puck’s Blues’
Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Harlequin & Clown
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
More Info:
Home demos and acoustic tracks recorded in advance of the new album.
TRACKLIST: A1-November Tale, A2-I Can See Elvis
B1-The Girl Who Slept ForScotland, B2- Destinies Entwined

The Mavericks – ‘Mono’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: The Valory Music Company
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
More Info:
Early vinyl release for Record Store Day, includes digital download

John Prine – ‘September 78’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Oh Boy Records
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
More Info:
A live record of John playing with a full band. There are loud guitar solos, funky organ playing and a couple of unreleased covers that will really surprise some folks.

Various Artists – ‘Sawyer Sessions Vol 1’
Format: CD
Label: Yep Roc Records
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
More Info:
The Sawyer Sessions started simple enough: new town, new building, new vibe. When the Yep Roc Music Group moved to Hillsborough, North Carolina two years ago, they wanted to find a way to integrate themselves into the creative juices flowing just beneath the surface of this historic, southern town. Named after their nearly 100-year-old office building, The Sawyer Sessions are one part video series, one part mobile recording lab, one part way to introduce the music group to their neighbors. But instead of bringing by a pie, they bring a collection of artists with diverse backgrounds and styles – Grammy Award winners, noted international songwriters, all legendary performers. They drop them into to everyday life situations and record them at restaurants, galleries and private homes – the only rule is that it has to be within the roughly 4.3 square miles of their new hometown. This record documents the best of those first year of performances and serves as a “map” of Hillsborough, North Carolina. Limited Edition Record Store Day Exclusive with hand-drawn cover art.

Bruce Springsteen – ‘Nebraska’
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Legacy
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
More Info:
• Newly remastered on LP!
• Packaged in faithful recreation of original LP sleeves.
• Remastered from the original source tapes
• 180-gram audiophile vinyl
TRACKLIST: “Nebraska”, “Atlantic City”, “Mansion On The Hill”, “Johnny 99”, “Highway Patrolman”, “State Trooper”, “Used Cars”, “Open All Night”, “My Father’s House”,”Reason To Believe”

Live Review – Old 97s – Majestic Theater – Hitchhike to Rhome Anniversary Show – December 13

Old 97s - Majestic Theater

Remember That mongrel cultural mash-up, fueled on a hefty helpings of George Jones and The Clash, that burst into cultural consciousness with Uncle Tupelo’s 1990 debut ‘No Depression?” Though the style is still heard in many performers in the greater Americana genre the movement proper has the boozy haze of days gone by.

Don’t tell the Old 97s this.

For over two decades the indie band that could has crossed the globe many times, hung out with music legends, had loads of positive ink spilled, had their songs featured on television shows and movies, and flirted with mainstream success.

And tonight they looked poised to do it all over again.

Saturday night the Old 97′s played a hometown show with their brand of, joyously ramshackle performances offsetting sharp songwriting and melodies, is still going strong. On the Majestic Theater stage, blocks from their Deep Ellum origins, the band came to celebrate ‘Hitchhike to Rhome,’ their 20-year-old debut, by performing it in its 16-song entirety for a full house of adoring fans.

The over two hour show included the aforementioned debut rundown as well as a full set from their recent ‘Most Messed Up’ tour. Through it all this band of buds, Rhett Miller, Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea, Philip Peeples has endured by focusing on what works.


‘Hitchhike to Rhome’ conjured memories of their 20 years younger selves in the studio with Killbilly guitarist and the album’s producer Alan Wooley. “You have to be kind of delusional to start a band.” Miller said beaming at the audience that wall shared in that beautiful delusion. As well as memories the songs channeled spirits. Abbey Hoffman and frenetic Loco Gringos frontman Pepe Lopez appeared in ‘Desperate Times,’ a song a 14 year-old Miller penned after being chosen as an extra for Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK.’ “Miss Molly invoked the spirits of the songwriter Cindy Walker and the father of western swing Bob Wills that made it famous. The spirit of Merle Haggard’s ‘Mama Tried’ with Hammond on vocals. “I grew up with this song and knew it had to be on here.” he beamed before tearing into a rousing rendition.

Less etherial people with ties to the songs also were in attendance. Alan Wooley sat in on three songs playing guitar and mandolin on three songs/ The actual Doreen was situated front and center. It was pretty great that right before tearing into the song Miller looked down and said ‘are you ready Doreen?’ She smiled and mouthed that she was.

Not sure if Mike Schwedler, the former Killbilly drummer who managed the 97′s when they recorded Hitchhike to Rhome now runs the city-owned theater they celebrated in, but it made it more fitting to imagine he was.

In the end we got what we came for, an Old 97s show. Loud, sweaty, vibrant and full of songs with lyrics etched on our brains. They were sang by all at full volume on this night.
The occasion made it all more special, for sure, but in the end they played like their 20 years younger selves. like I remember on the stage of Club DaDa or Clearview. And that was always special.

Here’s to 20 more.

Cream of the Crop – Twang Nation Top Americana and Roots Music Picks of 2014


It defies all marketing logic.

Take thoughtful, and oftentimes uncomfortable, music built unapologetically (and more importantly, without irony) from instrumentation and melodies that reflect the past and drag it into the present.

Brazen sentimentality in the face of a blase world and lack of absolute style and ideological boundaries allows Americana to attract strange cultural bedfellows, Reminiscent of the 70’s when Saints Willie and Waylon brought the rednecks and hippies together under the tin roof of Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters, this music hits us at the human core. Good music strips away the bullshit, shows our humanity, and can make us whole.

This is why it’s the greatest music being created today. That’s why it’ll last as fashions fall and technology and cultural isolation encroaches.

But it’s shit for mapping out a contemporary music career. So how does this great stuff keep happening?

With no apparent thought to charts, hit singles, karaoke reality shows or clutching at the greased pig of contemporary music taste people believe so deeply and completely that they sit in a van for 200 plus days a year, in freezing snow and burning summer heat, to play barely filled rooms at a level like they’re playing the Ryman or Beacon. Because that girl near the stage, with the band logo tattoo, is singing every word to every song. In spite of increasingly remote odds of economic sustainability they keeping lining up and enduring.

They have no choice, the spirit fills them. And we are moved by it. It affects us all.

And that extraordinary music is not just culturally and stylistically satisfying, there’s a viable market. Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson have gone from tight quarter vans and half-full seedy clubs to spacious buses and sold-out theatres. Movies and TV shows are using more and more roots music to set a mood. The genre is snowballing in fans and new music and the influence is felt everywhere. It’s no longer our little secret.

This is good, it’s evolution. It’s is growth. The risk of commercial popularity resulting in diminitionment of quality is assured. But just as Americana is not fed from one influence it is also not any one band. There is a wealth of choice. some of which I hope I’ve been able to list below.

2014 leaves us in turmoil and cultural upheaval. Roots music has historically been a cultural channel to discuss injustices from the point of view of those most affected. From Woody to Dylan to Alynda Lee Segarra roots music provides a poetic reflection of where society and humanity are and where we’d like to be.

But it’s not all topical earnestness. There’s plenty of toe-tapping tomfoolery and easy fun to melt away your troubles and woes and sing at the top of your lungs.

We cry, we laugh, we get drunk and do both simultaneously. No airs, no regrets, no AutoTune.

Lists are subjective, and no more so than my own. But each year I hope to place a loose marker around where I feel we are, and where we’re headed as disciples of this mongrel aesthetic.

This year we can be assured that country music has finally been saved, so enough of that. Roots music continues to make inroads in the mainstream without losing it’s way (or soul.) As happened so music last year, many mainstream media best of country music year-end lists to purloin from the rootsier side (like this and this – ). I applaud this. Bro-country’s foe is not the same tepid, lazy style wrapped in a dress. It’s better music without boundaries and gatekeepers.

2015 shows no sign of waning in output or fan interest. New releases from Steve Earle, Allison Moorer, Ryan Bingham, James McMurtry, Caitlin Canty, American Aquarium, JD McPherson, another from Justin Townes Earle, Rhiannon Giddens, The Lone Bellow, Whitehorse, Robert Earl Keen’s bluegrass album, and possibly a new Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell collaboration has the new year is looking rosy.

Criteria – Calendar year 2014. No EPs, live, covers or re-release albums no matter how awesome.

Don’t see your favorite represented? Leave it in the comments and here’s to a new year of twang

26. Mary Gauthier – ‘Trouble & Love’
The only way to best your demons is to look them in the eye. Gauthier does just that on ‘Trouble & Love’ With her wonderfully roughewn voice to inner struggle in the wake of love lost (or, more appropriately, taken) Misery loves company and Gauthier keeps some of
Nashville’s finest – Guthrie Trapp, Viktor Krauss, Lynn Williams, Beth Nielsen Chapman, The McCrary Sisters, Darrell Scott, Ashley Cleveland. Catharsis rarely sounds this good.

25. Old 97s – ‘Most Messed Up’
Remember I sure do. And so does Rhett Miller. The Dorian Gray of roots rock and his faithful compadres Ken Bethea, Philip Peeples and Murry Hammond still bring the heat to their blend of Tex-power pop in even the most road-weary, blase’ moments. This is a work of fury, fun and not giving a damn. here’s to that!

24. Angaleena Presley – ‘American Middle Class’
Presley steps out of the shadow of her super group Pistol Annies and digs deep into her history to deliver an album deeply steeped in country music traditions. Presley writes songs of hardship that rings true and is too busy making a living to sing hands and despair.

23. Sunny Sweeney – ‘Provoked’
Who needs bro-country when you have Sunny Sweeney. Her voice is your afternoon sweet sun tea but her wit is the bourbon you stir in. ‘Provoked’ is Sweeney’s true voice and it twangs true and kicks some serious ass.

22. Billy Joe Shaver – ‘Long in the Tooth’
Billy Joe Shaver is not about to sit on his long and prestigious laurels. No sir, not if Todd Snider has anything to say about it (Todd prodded Shave into this) Shaver takes aim at Music Row ( ‘Hard To Be An Outlaw’) love (“I’ll Love You as Much as I Can”) and teh absurdity of life ( “The Git Go”) God bless Billy Joe Shaver and everything he represents!

21. Rodney Crowell – Tarpaper Sky
Following his Grammy-winning collaboration with Emmylou Harris ‘Tarpaper Sky’ finds Crowell relaxin into a zone of a craft he’s spent 40 years refining. Songs from the rearview (“The Long Journey Home”, “The Flyboy & the Kid”) , heart-busters sit beside cajun frolick (“Fever on the Bayou”) to create a satisfying release.

20. Kelsey Waldon – ‘The Goldmine’
Great country music is rooted in the blood, sweat, and the threadbare hope of those just out of the reach of the American Dream. Kelsey Waldo’s songs richly reflects a lives hobbled by hard decisions and opportunities never given. While ‘The Goldmine’ reflects a hard realism, Waldon smartly ensures that it is never devoid of hope.

19. Doug Seegers – ‘ Going Down to the River’
A story too absurd to be true. Swedish documentary features homeless Nashville busker leading to a number 1 single on Swedish iTunes Charts for 12 consecutive days and a Will Kimbrough produced full-length featuring collaborations with Emmylou Harris and ex-tour mate Buddy Miller. But it’s true, and ‘ Going Down to the River’ is deep with truth.

18. Robert Ellis – ‘The Lights From the Chemical Plant’
Ellis moved to and works in Nashville. But he’s still got the heart if a Texas musician, wandering and unbridled. His love for George Jones is as much a part of him as his love for Jimmy Webb. ‘The Lights From the Chemical Plant’ reflects not only his versatility on the fretboard but his command of the songwriting craft. He reflects multiple styles, sometimes within the same song, and makes it behave. And across it all his voice glides across each with its own high lonesome.

17. The Bones of J.R. Jones – ‘Dark was the Yearling’
Brooklynite J.R. Jones, aka Jonathon Linaberry travels even further down his moody roots road with his second effort ‘Dark was the Yearling.’ Fitting comfortably with with moody-folkies like Lincoln Durham and Possessed By Paul James, sparse production ‘s soulful croon, haunting blues picking and percussive stomp make Darkness Was the Yearling is a galvanization of Linaberry both as a songwriter and a producer.

16. Marah – ‘Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania’
Pennsylvanian folklorist Henry Shoemaker long-ago cache of American song lyrics are discovered and interpreted by Marah’s David Bielanko and Christine Smith performing live around a single microphone in a ready-made studio set up in an old church, doors open to allow local performers and the generally curious to gather and join along. The result is a startlingly cohesive work driven by a ramshackle spirit. ‘Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania’ opens a contemporary channel to the restless, rustic ghosts of Big Pink more authentically than the recent T Bone Burnett helmed effort.

15. The Secret Sisters – ‘Put Your Needle Down’
Shedding the gingham shell that encased their debut The Secret Sisters , Lydia and Laura Rogers, apply their exquisite sibling harmony to push their songwriting chops and build a testament to contemporary roots music. I’m looking forward to riding along with the Rogers as they take us from the past toward a brave musical adventure.

14. Lee Ann Womack – ‘The Way I’m Livin’ ‘
Music Row superstar hangs out with motley Americana crew and ends up making a spectacular roots album? ANd it’s up for the Country Album of the Year Grammy?! Bask in genre confusion and the beauty of great songs performed by a master.

13. Hurray for the Riff Raff – ‘Small Town Heroes’
Few bands have the roots chops of Alynda Lee Segarra and her Hurray for the Riff Raff. Social-minded tunes performed with poetry over preachiness strikes a delicate balance most of the Guthrie-inspired falter. Segarra and crew prove you win hearts and minds my tapping toes and shaking asses on the dancefloor.

12. Lera Lynn – ‘The Avenues’
Lynn’s warm honey voice might lure you like a Siren, but the smart songwriting will truly wreck your ship. No, no this is a good thing! Stripped down guitar, drums and doghouse bass and cause you to sit on shore amongst the wreckage and let bask in ‘The Avenues’ glint and shimmer.

11. Cory Branan – ‘No Hit Wonder’
I defy you to find a better contemporary songwriter that is as deft and studied at the craft as Cory Branan (DEFY YOU!!) As evidence I submit to you “The No-Hit Wonder.” a work expansive yet grounded in the classic folk and country styles. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s badass.

10. Shovels & Rope – ‘Swimmin’ Time’
This follow-up to their 2012 acclaimed ‘O’ Be Joyful,’ has Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst has a tighter focus and arrangement of songs. This can sometimes come off as too eager to please. But when their indy-rock-meets-Carter-Family spirit overtakes, like in “Mary Ann and One Eyed Dan,” it hits on all cylinders and transcend crowd-pleasing.

9. Karen Jonas – ‘Oklahoma Lottery’
Small town character studies have always been a staple of country music. Karen Jonas builds scenes with her breathy drawl that make you feel like you lived through the desperation, danger and loneliness and litters the landscape of this excellent release.

8. Nikki Lane – ‘All Or Nothin’ ‘
Every night is Saturday night on Nikki Lane’s ‘All Or Nothin’ ‘ The Black Key’s Auerbach sets the mood and get’s out of the way as Lane fuses SMART SONGS, 60’s B-movie pop and country music gold to make her mark. So hang on, hold on and have the time of your life. But bring bail money and, be assured, there’ll be a broken heart…and a scar.

7. Hiss Golden Messenger – ‘Lateness of Dancers’
M.C. Taylor is a wandering soul. His fourth full-length as the moniker Hiss Golden Messenger continues his (hiss) quest across a troubling yet hopeful human landscape. This time the pat taken is in the form of his usual folk and country traditions with scenic asides in rock and R&B resulting in his best so far.

6. Old Crow Medicine Show – ‘Remedy’
From buskers to roots music ambassadors Old Crow Medicine Show has shown great songs and keen instrumentation does have a place in the mainstream. The band faces their newfound fame by doing what they know best, Delivering a solid ‘Remedy’ that appeals to long-times fans and garners new ones that wouldn’t be caught dead at a bluegrass festival.

5. Ben Miller Band – ‘Any Way, Shape Or Form’
If you’re looking for a band that mashes old forms with new look no further than Ben Miller Band’s latest ‘Any Way, Shape Or Form.’ The traditional folk chestnut “The Cuckoo” is taken to a tribal-drum psychedelic level. “Any Way, Shape or Form” pushes the Ben Miller Band form just another string band toward something vibrant and a forceful.

4. The Felice Brothers – ‘Favorite Waitress’
On their new release the Felice Brothers have returned from their sonic diversion in “Celebration, Florida” to their usual rustic terrain where Big Pink meets Brooklyn (with a little Velvet Underground thrown in) Gliding nimbly from ramshackle folk to smokey piano ballads to unbridled zydeco ‘Favorite Waitress’ is a fine stylistically homecoming to their splayed and gangly jams.

3. Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives – ‘Saturday Night/Sunday Morning’
Country music. like life, has always been steeped in the struggle between the light and the darkness, sin and salvation. This double album takes us on a boxcar across the dark
(‘Jailhouse, ‘Geraldine’) and the light (‘Uncloudy Day,’ ‘Boogie Woogie Down the Jericho Road’) Stuart was there when Country and Americana music was the same thing. Thank goodness he’s still on his game and cares to remind us.

2. Caroline Rose – ‘Will Not Be Afraid’
This sonic offspring of Chrissie Hynde and Wanda Jackson debut release is everything that’s great about music. It grabs you by the throat immediately with ‘Blood on your Bootheels,’ a cut on racism and violence void of sanctimony that hits like a topical bomb. ‘Tightrope Walker’ is a jaunty roots-rocker with spooky organ line as Rose lyrically juxtaposes two Americas and exposes us to be without a without net. Rose bends, shapes and fires words in a way that would make Dylan envious. This is a daring debut is the kind of record that will make you remember where you were when you heard it.

1. Sturgill Simpson – ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’
Shocking, right? But sometimes the hype does reflect reality. Simpson will surely be all over Americana and mainstream country best of lists (the latter showed a tendency to reach over the fence last year when Jason Isbell sat alongside Tim McGraw and Band Perry), and rightly so. The Kentuckian’s success is more than a bro-country backlash. The praise from NPR Music to UK’S Telegraph speaks to than a more than a mere clerance of Music Row’s current low bar. Simpson channels 70’s hard outlaw country, spiked with bluegrass dexterity into songs that feel genuine. His topics are a contemporary a Kristoffersonion introspection of spirituality, identity and mind-altering substances. Simpson isn’t saving country music, he’s just reminding a us all that there’s a hunger for vibrant music that is vibrant, thriving, and unrepentantly ornery.

The Last Waltz -Reflections and Alternate Footage

On November 25th, 1976, Thanksgiving Day, San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom was the setting for the end of an era. One that had started seventeen years earlier when Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, and Robbie Robertson aligned as The Hawks, a backing band for rockabilly pioneer Ronnie Hawkins.

The concert most famously known as ‘The Last Waltz,’ from the Martin Scorsese documentary and resulting best-selling soundtrack, was part fan’s, friend’s and peer’s celebration of a legendary band and a grand and final statement mandated by Robertson, who unilaterally wanted to end The Band as a touring entity.

Through Scorsese’s studied gaze, and his love of music, the film delivers an intimate and exuberant slice of music history But off-screen business maneuvering, lawyers and a fair amount of paranoia and hubris tainted the celebration and drove a wedge between Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson that time, and lawyers, never remedied.

As Helm recalled in his book ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ Robertson “… was saying he was sick of it all. He wanted to keep on recording with us, but not go on the road. ‘We’re not learning anything, man. It’s not doing anything for us, and in fact it feels dangerous to me. Look what’s happening, Levon. I’m getting superstitious. Look at Dayton Stratton (a friend and associate of The Band who had died in an air crash). Every time I get on the plane I’m thinking about this stuff. The whole thing just isn’t healthy anymore.’

Set designer Boris Leven lent a deft hand in creating a cozy yet grand stage aesthetic. Using stored props from Opera Company of San Francisco’s production of Verdi’s opera ‘La Traviata’ – columns, chandeliers, crimson wall hangings – Leven grandly melded lavish pomp with living room comfort to set a fitting au revoir.

Contrast this with the ‘Cocteau Room.’ A backstage space painted white walls to ceiling, with white carpeting. Also furnished was a glass table strewn with razor blades for the express purpose of cocaine use for the gathered guests. Helm remembers Scorsese being so wired that “he talked so fast I barely understood a word he said.”

Though there’s no denying the talent and magic of some of the performances, I’m left wondering if this was a bit of thunder stealing. After a spirited full set by The Band, complete with horns arranged by Allen Toussaint, the latter portion of the bill relinquished The Band to back-up positions. Not only of their former frontmen Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan but also for Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison and others who performed their own songs.

Though this no doubt broadened the marketing potential for the movie and soundtrack I personally believe it was taking the spotlight from its proper focus, The Band and their musical legacy. Wouldn’t it have been more fitting, and appropriate if these artists were brought on to support the group in their own songs and them maybe then given one of their own? I believe so.

But it’s all history now, and the music remains. This was even more poignant to me after I happened across this great raw footage of the event. Footage that shows the performances like the crowd that night experienced it.

Let us give thanks that The Band was with us, no matter how briefly, and left a rich musical trail-blazing legacy still followed, and celebrated today.

Listen Up! Old 97’s – “Eyes For You”

Old 97's debut ‘Hitchhike to Rhome.’

As I previously posted Omnivore Recordings today releases the Old 97’s standard-bearing debut, ‘Hitchhike to Rhome.’

Before you head over and get your copy (and you should,) check out the barn-burning (and unsettling) cut “Eyes For You,” below. The rave-up was selected by the band and co-producer Ken Bethea for this reissue and shows the boys at their hall-bent finest.

The version was first in Chicago in ’95 for Bloodshot Record’s “Early Tracks” and as a limited red vinyl edition (1000) 7″ single.

This version was cut in Dallas a year earlier during the original ‘Hitchhike to Rhome’ sessions, but was not included on it’s release.

Buy a few to stuff in those pitifully empty stockings over the fireplace.

Disc One
St. Ignatius
Drowning In The Days
Miss Molly
Dancing With Tears
4 Leaf Clover
Wish The Worst
Old 97’s Theme
Hands Off
Mama Tried
If My Heart Was A Car
Desperate Times
Ken’s Polka Thing
Tupelo County Jail
Disc Two
St. Ignatius (demo cassette version)
Drowning In The Days (demo cassette version)
Making Love With You (demo cassette version)

Stoned (demo cassette version)
Dancing With Tears (demo)*
Ivy (demo)*

Eyes For You*

Crying Drunk*


Old 97’s Theme Spgeddi*
Alright By Me*

Desperate Times*
Side One
St. Ignatius
Drowning In The Days
Miss Molly
Dancing With Tears
Side Two
4 Leaf Clover
Wish The Worst
Old 97’s Theme
Tupelo County Jail
Hands Off
Side Three
Mama Tried

If My Heart Was A Car
Desperate Times
Ken’s Polka Thing
Tupelo County Jail
Side Four
Crying Drunk*

Dancing With Tears (demo)
Ivy (demo)*


Eyes For You*
Old 97’s Theme Spgeddi*
* Previously unissued
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