Shovels and Rope / Third Man Records Contest

Shovels and Rope Johnny 99

Casa Twang is proud to offer the latest from Jack White’s Third Man Records excellent Blue Series. The 7-inch vinyl features Charleston indie-folk duo Shovels and Rope covering Bruce Springsteen’s “Johnny 99” (listen below) on one side and Tom Waits’ “Bad As Me” on the other.

The Third Man’s Blue Series brings singers and bands traveling through Nashville by the third Man Studio to record one or two songs. The songs are then, as soon as possible, made available on 7” vinyl and digitally on itunes. The series also includes releases by Brittany Howard and Ruby Amanfu, Seasick Steve, Chris Thile with Micheal Daves , The Secret Sisters, Wanda Jackson and others.

It’s easy to enter in the contest, just leave a comment below! The picked at random winner will receive the 7-inch vinyl and a CD copy of the release. Winner needs to be located in the United States and will be picked at on 12 PM Pacific Time on Sunday, April 7th. Comment away and good luck!

UPDATE: Amanda Ramsey is the winner! Thanks all for commenting and look for more contests soon!

Shonna Tucker Unveils Eye Candy

eye candy I’m just catching up with ex-Drive-By Truckers bassists and vocalist Shonna Tucker’s new project, Eye Candy.

Apparently the word has been out for some time , but somehow it’s been flying under my radar. The Athens, GA based band set up a Facebook page today and a repost by my bud at Country Fried Rock drew my attention.

From what I’ve been able to piece together aside from Tucker the band will be Athens musicians Clay Leverett (drums) and Bo Bedingfield (guitar), as well as Truckers steel guitarist John Neff.

Shonna assured me on twitter that she would be sending me more information on Eye Candy. Look for updates when I get more details.

Check the cut below and the video from a show at the storied 40 Watt club and let me know what you think.

Watch Alabama Shakes On Saturday Night Live and Austin City Limits [VIDEO]

alabama shakes SNLAlabama Shakes is definitely hitting a stride. Coming off lead singer Brittany Howard shining performance among other at luminaries at the Grammy’s Levon Helm tribute the band then made their Austin City Limits and Saturday Night Live debut. Both of which airing simultaneously last night.

The band performed their rootsy Motown-like single “Hold On” and a newer song titled “Always Alright” (free for download for a limited time) on SNL.

Their ACL setlist included five songs: “Hold On”, “Always Alright”, “You Ain’t Alone”, “I Ain’t the Same”, and “On Your Way”. The episode of ACL also featured a four-song performance by Texas’ blues man Gary Clark, Jr.

Check Alabama Shakes’ two SNL performances and the full episode of ACL below.

Watch Gary Clark Jr. / Alabama Shakes on PBS. See more from Austin City Limits.

Drive-By Truckers Founder Mike Cooley Readies Solo ” The Fool On Every Corner”

Mike Cooley is a perfect counter to his fellow Drive-By Trucker founder and former roommate Patterson Hood. Cooley’s tales of male rites of passage (Daddy’s Cup) and tales of contemporary Hatfield and McCoys  (Where The Devil Don’t Stay) for right alongside Hoods more contemplative work making each Drive-By Trucker a deeper and richer refection of The Dirty South.

Cooley’s debut solo album, The Fool On Every Corner, will be released December 11, 2012. The album was recorded by longtime Drive-By Truckers’ producer David Barbe during a three-show run last March, beginning with a two-night stand at the Atlanta rock club The Earl and The Melting Point in Athens, GA .

The record features live acoustic versions of Drive-By Truckers’ favorites like “Carl Perkins Cadillac”, “3 Dimes Down”, and “Marry Me” as well as one new song, “Drinking Coke and Eating Ice. ” There’s is also a cover I’m very much looking forward to Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors”.
Playing without his DBT band mates left Cooley and little uncomfortable. “When you don’t do it normally, it’s terrifying,” Cooley admits. “I try to relax, but I’ll probably never be able to sit down in a chair on stage as easily as I sit down on a toilet behind a closed door. That’s the goal—somewhere in between,” he deadpans. “I set the bar high.”

On this release Cooley abandons the guitar pick he expertly wields with The DBT and finger picks.
“Strip it, strip it, strip it down,” he says, alluding to the mantra that guided these performances. “What’s left is the song and nothing else.”

Cooley will continue to play select solo dates throughout 2013.

Track Listing:
1 – Loaded Gun In The Closet
2 – Cottonseed
3 – Guitar Man Upstairs
4 – Cartoon Gold
5 – Pulaski
6 – 3 Dimes Down
7 – Eyes Like Glue
8 – Carl Perkins Cadillac
9 – Behind Closed Doors
10 – Marry Me
11 – Where The Devil Don’t Stay
12 – Shut Up And Get On The Plane
13 – Drinking Coke And Eating Ice





Stagecoach 2013 Lineup Announced

If somebody said that Justin Townes Earle and Lady Antebellum would be appearing on the same bill you would not be remiss in thinking “You’re nuts.”

Then you haven’t been to Stagecoach.

The above is indeed correct. The Goldenvoice-produced festival, now in it’s seventh year, takes a broad, historical view of country music. Contemporary country staples Toby Keith and Trace Adkins with country legends Charley Pride and Don Williams and Americana music favorites Old Crow Medicine Show and Hayes Carll are all included.

I’m a fan of this cross-influence dynamic. That a Toby Keith fan could check out Hayes Carll is good for both fan bases that tend to be a bit musically and culturally insular. Americana acts in front of these huge audiences gives them a big opportunity to grow their audience.

And if Keith and Carll break into a rendition of “Beer for my Horses” I’ll be the first to applaud.

The festival place the weekend of April 26-28 in Indio California. Tickets go on sale Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. via the official Stagecoach site. A new pricing structure is in place for 2013, and a three-day festival pass will cost $239.

Friday, April 26:
Toby Keith, Hank Williams Jr., Trace Adkins, Jeff Bridges & the Abiders, Roger McGuinn, Old Crow Medicine Show, Joe Nichols, Connie Smith, Maggie Rose, Hayes Carll, Wylie and the Wild West, Commander Cody, the Steel Wheels, Haunted Windchimes, Alissa Griffith

Saturday, April 27:
Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Rodney Atkins, Dwight Yoakam, Phil Vassar, Nick 13, John Anderson, Marty Stuart, Jana Krama, Justin Townes Earle, Suzy Bogguss, the Honky Tonk Angels Band, Sons and Brothers, the Westbound Rangers, Robert Ellis

Sunday, April 28:
Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker, Thompson Square, Lonestar, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charley Pride, Don Williams, Tanya Tucker, Blue Sky Riders, John Reilly and Friends, Riders in the Sky, Waddie Mitchell, Florida Georgia Line, Brown Bird, Becky Stark, Gabriel Kelley

Robert Plant Elopes With Patty Griffin (Not!)

UPDATE: Plant’s U.K.-based manager says was being “cheeky” when he used the word “eloped” to describe his home life. “Robert has not married Patty Griffin,” she tells us. “He was just referring to the fact that he’s been residing in Texas.”

Rock legend and recent Americana emigre Robert Plant, has taken his Austin Austin residency seriously.

Led Zeppelin and Band of Joy front man revealed in an interview last Wednesday with the U.K.’s Independent
that he has secretly tied the knot with Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and Band of Joy member Patty Griffin.

“I eloped and ran off to Texas,” Plant told the newspaper.

No word on if the couple has been seen at the local Whole Foods product isle and whether Griffin can keep her hands off his lemon.

Robert Ellis Spotlighted in The Guardian

I always knew Houston’s Robert Ellis was the real deal. Now they agree with me across the pond. From The Guardian’s New Band of the Day:

“That idea of dovetailing country old and “new” – the Nudie suit-wearing good ol’ boys and the countercultural LA wannabes – is a development, of sorts, although arguably Gram Parsons was the living embodiment of both sensibilities. Robert Ellis is a hippie throwback but he also moves between periods and worlds with aplomb – at a recent party for Paste magazine he and his band, according to one onlooker, “deconstructed old bluegrass songs and borrowed as much from Radiohead as George Jones”. He alternates between country and on the two “sides” ofof (sic) his concept album Photographs.”

Aside from his appearance I don’t get the “hippie” reference, but whatever. Ellis is getting the attention he so richly deserves.

Here’s Robert Ellis’ Stream of “Photographs” at

News Round Up: Shonna Tucker leaves Drive-By Truckers

The band member door revolves once again for the Mighty Drive-By Truckers as long-time bassist/vocalist (and ex-Mrs. Isbell) Shonna Tucker posted on the band’s site that’s she’s parting ways with Drive-by Truckers after eight years with the band. The tone of the note seems to indicate that her recent foray into singing on recent DBT albums might allow her to follow her ex-husband lead into a solo career.

From the band’s site:

Hello friends,

Unfortunately, I come to you all with some sad news.

It’s time for me to move on to the next great thing, whatever that may be.

I want to thank each and everyone of you, with my whole heart for your overwhelming kindness and support over the years. You are the greatest fans in the world! You really do amaze and inspire me. I can’t express how much you all mean to me. Your rock solid encouragement has carried me through, many nights. I have been so lucky to have had the chance to meet and talk with so many of you. Your stories and passion are so incredibly inspirational to me.

I am, without a doubt, not done. I will have a website up and running very soon so that we can keep in touch. I have a whole lot left to say and do, and I can’t wait to hear what all of you are up to. This is very difficult, so I’ll leave you with this… for now…

Thank you all so much!

Safe travels and Happy Holidays to you all!

See you soon somewhere…

All my love,

Asked through his twitter account if he would rejoin the band in the wake of Tucker’s departure, Jason Isbell responded “No. I’m a terrible bass player.

Americana Music Association Conference & Festival 2011 Wrap Up

On the night of the 10th annual Americana Music Association Awards, the director of the organization, Jed Hilly, recounted from the stage of the historic Ryman Auditorium a few of the key accomplishment te genre had enjoyed over the last few years. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences included a separate Americana Grammy category and Miriam-Webster added the word Americana to their dictionary: “a genre of American music having roots in early folk and country music.” I was fortunate to be chosen to cover the Grammys as the official Americana blogger this year and so was personally appreciative of that part formal industry recognition and I think the Miriam-Webster definition is imprecise but Hilly’s assessment is correct, movement now feels like progress.

The nearly 50 panels ranged from topics better suited for barroom debates  (Is  Blues Americana?) to tips and insights in booking shows, using Cloud-based, digital distribution,  steaming music services and tips on using social media to expand your fan base.

As great as the America Music Awards program and panels were the real action was around Nashville. A neat definition of Americana was made even more futile by the contemporary variations on display by the 100 bands showcased at five of the city’s best live music clubs throughout the dates of the conference.

Wednesday night started with Austinite power-couple Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison at the Station Inn. I had see their show several months ago at my home in San Francisco and they had honed the songs and patter over the miles. The married pair emanated a presence and rapport that can only be delivered from two people that have been in the thick and thin together. Jokes about marriage counseling followed by numbers laced with classic country was reminiscent of John and June or George and Tammy. Then across town to catch Blind Boys of Alabama and another Austin resident Hayes Carll at the Mercy Lounge. The BBoA are simply one of the most amazing live acts I’ve ever seen. Their version of Amazing Grace performed over the familiar lonesome strains of House of the Rising Sun will give you hope while making you weep. Hayes Carll delivered his learned honky-tonk with spirit and a Texas crooked smile to charged crowd that hung on every word, even when that song was as wordy as KMAG YOYO.

Thursday was all about the 10th annual awards Americana Music Association Honors and Awards held at the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium. Once again Jim Lauderdale performed MC duties and Buddy Miller led the house band once again and also triumphed by winning two awards, Artist of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year. Miller showed the utmost humility by stating after the second hand-made folk-art trophy was handed to him  “Well this is just embarrassing. I feel like I get away with murder,” he said. “I’m really, really not that good. … But I get to play with some wonderfully incredibly talented people.” Emmylou Harris quipped that they should just name the hand-made trophies “The Buddy.” I think she’s on to something.

Robert Plant and his Band of Joy took home the trophy for Album of the Year took acceptation to Miller’s assessment. Saying of his Raising Sand and Band of Joy collaborator “I stole a great deal with my old companions, and I was very fortunate, the last few years, to be welcomed by some spectacular people, especially in this town,” Plant said. “”I’m never going anywhere without Buddy Miller. “ Regarding the Band of Joy win, I would argue that a covers album should not be in the running for album of the year, but if one is Gurf Morlix’s album of Blaze Foley covers “Blaze Foley’s 113th Wet Dream” should have been that album.

Musical highlights included the Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow, the Avett Brothers’ The Once and Future Carpenter and soul singer Candi Staton’s tribute to Rick Hall, founder of Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, Ala. with Heart on a String.

Song of the Year winner Justin Townes Earle delivered on an up-tempo Harlem River Blues, the Secret Sisters represented country tradition with Hank Williams’ Why Don’t You Love Me and Scott and Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers provided background vocals during Jessica Lea Mayfield’s For Today.  Other performers included Lucinda Williams (Blessed), Amos Lee (Cup of Sorrow), Elizabeth Cook (El Camino), Buddy Miller (Gasoline and Matches), and Jim Lauderdale (Life by Numbers).

The show closed out with Greg Allman on Hammond B-3 organ leading Plant, Griffin, Miller, Lee, Cook,  and others on an extended version of the gospel standard, “Glory, Glory Hallelujah.”

Post awards activities too place primarily in the Basement under Grimey’s Record Store. I walked in on the winsome Amanda Shires mid-set, decked in a lovely dress and monogrammed boots her fluttering vibrato held the packed house in silence. Malcolm Holcombe followed with a two-piece accompaniment that in no way fenced in his frenetic guitar picking as he strolled the stage and growled songs of love and hope. On advice of a friend I stuck around for Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three. Their country-swing-blues sound was a perfect to close a late night.

Friday I was fortunate enough to catch the great Henry Wagons at the Second Fiddle Australian/Americana lunch showcase. Wagons is one of these guys that was born to perform, and it works to his favor that he’s cool to be around. Later that night I headed over to the Mercy Lounge to catch Robert Ellis playing the opening bill at the Mercy Lounge, “I thought I had gotten the shitty slot.” Ellis said grinning at the nearly packed room. He and his band then proved why they are the one to watch in the coming. years. It reminded me of when I first saw Ryan Bingham in New York City in 2007, great things to come. Amy LaVere followed playing her jazzy folk renditions  with winsome charm and playing, and seeming waltzing, with her stand-up bass. I then spent time catching Elizabeth Cook doing her always excellent set and heading downstairs to the Cannery Ballroom to see Jim Lauderdale & Buddy Miller show how it’s done. Did I mention this is the best Americana conference/festival in the world? Then across to catch the Bottle Rockets do an acoustic show at the Rutledge, where the band proved that even unplugged they are one of the best live acts in America.

Saturday I decided to hit the the Americanarama in the parking lot of Grimey’s Preloved Music Record Store to see a current favorite, Nikki Lane,  perform her blend of 60’s surf rock and country noir. Lane charmed the crowd and then wowed them. She also won extra style points from me for sporing a Waylon Jennings logo tattoo on her forearm. I was suprised by the band Hymn For Her that I judged by their name to be a wispy folk duo. They were anything but as they tore through their set of hillbilly garage-rock with Lucy Tight on cigar-box guitar & Wayne Waxing on guitar, kick drum and harmonica. They blew me away with their cover of Morphine’s Thursday.

Overall this year’s conference seems like the community has come into their own with old friends and new mingling to laugh , argue and celebrate the thing that brings us together. Great music.


Music Review: Grayson Capps – The Lost Cause Minstrels [Royal Potato Family]

On his 5th studio album Grayson Capps engages a new band, The Lost Cause Minstrels, consisting mostly of former members of the now defunct Mobile, Alabama band Kung Fu Mama – Guitarist Corky Hughes, keyboardist Chris Spies, drummer John Milham and bassist Christian Grizzard  – captures the greatness of classic rock, country as well as folk, blues and Dixieland resulting in a blend of great Americana music.

The main protagonist in The Lost Cause Minstrels is the asphalt ribbon, both as a means of escape and as a means anguish. Sometimes, as in the country rock ramble Highway 42, both in the same song to Tao-like results “Let go of the future, let go of the past, put gasoline on the present, and have yourself a blast.”

Other characters emerge on the travels. Capp’s aging rocker rasp, reminiscent of Shooter Jennings, opens the album with Coconut Moonshine is a Jazzy Cab Calloway-style tale of the character Mr. Jim who dispenses tropical bootleg hooch from his Ocean Springs, Mississippi barbecue joint. Taj Mahal’s country shuffle Annie’s Lover gets a loving rendition of palatial proportions and features a bit of hillbilly scat for good measure.

Capps reflects both his Alabama birth and, until recently, New Orleans residence in a horn and drum fueled Dixieland romp on Ol’ Slac. the name derives from the fictional character created by Joseph Stillwell Cain, Jr. (Joe Cain. in the song) Chickasaw Chief Slacabamorinico. Cain was a Confederate veteran that revived the tradition of Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama after it was halted by the occupying Union Army. Cain and six other Confederate veterans paraded in a decorated coal wagon playing drums and horns were dubbed The Lost Cause Minstrels.

The road takes it’s own toll in Rock N Roll, a Turn the Page-like lament of empty gas tanks, full whiskey glasses and long nights and Yes You Are has an aging, battle-worn musician confessing the futility of his chosen career to his lover who tenderly assures and  and encourages from afar.

A couple of classic-rock styled torchers pick things up as  No Definitions (in which the title defines the album overall) highlights guitarist Corky Hughes chops and manages to sound new and channel Hendrix’s Foxy Lady. John the Daggar rocks by digging out the blues is a retelling of the John Lee Hooker crossroads fable.

The albums taunt sound is a credit to Capps, who co-produced the effort with his longtime partner and Grammy Award-winning engineer/producer Trina Shoemaker (Queens of the Stone Age, Dylan Leblanc, Sheryl Crow). Capps has taken on a considerable undertaking of styles and personal, heartfelt confession and made it into a great album.

Official Site | Buy