Record Store Day’s Black Friday 2013 – Americana and Roots Music Picks


The day after Thanksgiving, November 29 – ominously named Black Friday (if you’re in the rush at Wal-Mart it kinda makes sense) – is the busiest shopping day of the year.

The good folks that organize Record Store Day have provided music fans with a holiday treat to make Black Friday more festive.

This year part of the retail bounty special exclusive releases from some of the most popular artists in almost every genre. Of course my focus is on Americana and roots music. Some dandies are being released from The Civil Wars, Blackberry Smoke, Blind Boys Of Alabama, Jason Isbell & John Paul White, Dawes, Uncle Tupelo and more. Some of these realeses are completely exclusive to the record store, some of them making their appearance at a record store before you’ll find them anywhere else.

Head to the official Record Store Day site to get a complete list of releases and participating stores.

Blackberry Smoke / Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd &
Blackberry Smoke Live 12″
Vinyl Split
Label: Southern Ground
A live compilation featuring six previously unreleased tracks.
Side A Lynyrd Skynyrd Live Slovesburg, Sweden 6/9/12 – “Whats Your Name”, “That Smell”, “Simple Man” – Side B Blackberry Smoke Live Winston-Salem NC 4/12/13 – “Six Ways To Sunday”, “Pretty Little Lie”, “Ain’t Music Left Of Me”

Blind Boys Of Alabama/Jason Isbell & John Paul White
Christmas In Dixie/Old Flame
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Lightning Rod Records/Thirty tig
7″ Silver and White Swirled vinyl
Exclusive 7″ single featuring covers of Alabama classics. These and others on the Tribute to Alabama album.
Side A – Blind Boys of Alabama “Christmas in Dixie” Side B Jason Isbell and John Paul White “Old Flame”

Brandi Carlile/The Lone Bellow
Live Split
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Descendant Records
Brandi Carlile recorded live on the Hard Way Home Convoy Tour in 2013; The Lone Bellow recorded at SXSW March 2013 at the Paste Magazine Stage on Sixth Party, sponsored by Record Store Day
Side A Brandi Carlile – “Raise Hell” Side B The Lone Bellow – “You Never Need Nobody”

The Civil Wars
Between The Bars
Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Columbia Records
10″ single containing exclusive studio versions of four cover songs which have been part of The Civil Wars live repertoire
“Sour Times” (Portishead cover), “Between The Bars” (Elliott Smith cover), “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson cover), “Talking In Your Sleep” (Romantics cover)

Stripped Down At Grimeys
Format: LP/CD
Label: HUB Records
Orange LP Version – Recorded live at Grimey’s in March of 2013. Contains songs from the acclaimed Stories Don’t End album and a few classic Dawes tracks. Set is a plugged in yet intimate approach as opposed to the typically bombastic Dawes live experience.
1. “From A Window Seat” 2. “Someone Will” 3. “Time Spent In Los Angeles” 4. “Most People” 5. “Something In Common” 6. “A Little Bit of Everything”

Bob Dylan
Side Tracks
Format: LP
Label: Columbia Records
A compilation of tracks that have never appeared on a formal Bob Dylan album. 180 g, numbered, triple LP package.

Harry Nilsson
Rarities Collection
Format: LP
Label: Columbia Records
RARE Nilsson tracks on 1 LP, 180g and indivually, numbered. A collection culled from the 17 CD Box Set which includes all of Harry’s original RCA albums, previously unreleased demos and radio spots.

Various Artists
A Musical Tribute To The Songs of Shel Silverstein
Format: LP
Label: Sugar Hill Records
Vinyl release of the 2010 star-studded tribute to Shel Silversein. On 45 RPM double white vinyl.
My Morning Jacket–“Lullabies, Legends and Lies”, Andrew Bird–“The Twistable, Turnable Man Returns”, John Prine–“This Guitar is For Sale”, Dr. Dog–“The Unicorn”, Kris Kristofferson–“The Winner”, Sarah Jarosz with Black Prairie–“Queen of the Silver Dollar”, Bobby Bare, Jr. with Isabella Bare–“Daddy What If”, Black Francis with Joey Santiago–“The Cover of the Rolling Stone”, The Boxmasters–“Sylvia’s Mother”, Ray Price–“Me and Jimmie Rodgers”, Todd Snider–“A Boy Named Sue”, Lucinda Williams–“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”, Bobby Bare–“The Living Legend”, Nanci Griffith–“The Giving Tree”, My Morning Jacket–“26 Second Song”

Uncle Tupelo
I Wanna Be Your Dog / Commotion
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Columbia Records
Side A – Stooges cover (studio, outtake from No Depression sessions)
Side B – Credence cover (previously unreleased studio outtake from No Depression sessions)
“I Wanna Be Your Dog”/”Commotion”

Townes Van Zandt
Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972
Format: Vinyl Box Set
Label: Omnivore Recordings
The vinyl version of this release housed in a 3 LP box, on clear vinyl. Includes 28 unheard versions of legendary songs by one of our most treasured songwriters. All songs drawn from his most prolific period, 1971-1972. Liner notes by Colin Escott.
This will be exclusive to indie stores for 90 days.

Watch Out! Boo Ray “Boots and Blue Jeans” [VIDEO]

Boo Ray

Boo Ray’s “Boots and Blue Jeans,” from his current release “Six Weeks In A Motel” carries a heap of grit and soul. The video filmed at the legendary Johnny’s Tavern in Nashville, TN by Daniel Henry & Price Harrison show folks having a high time. The kind of folks that would drop quarter after quarter to play this hotnumber.

Ray’s time raised in the western mountains of North Carolina has given him a sensibility for southern and roots rock in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Faces. melody with bite and brawn. This is 100 proof with an ear for a hook.

“Six Weeks In A Motel,” the Boo Ray’s follow up to 2010 release “Bad News Travels Fast.”

The musicians featured include Steve Ferrone on drums (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Jimmie Lee Sloas on bass (Keith Urban, Reba McEntire), British guitar virtuoso Sol Philcox, and Bruce Bouton (Randy Travis, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs) on pedal steel.


Listen Up! The Ben Miller Band – “Get Right Church”


Grit and Gospel are two elements you rarely hear together. But that what The Ben Miller Band’s “Get Right Church” has in spades.

The Joplin, Missouri trio blends swampy delta blues echoes of old-style mountain music into a blend they have christened “Ozark Stomp.” “Get Right Church” fits that bill as singer-songwriter Ben Miller’s bottleneck guitar serves as a response to his howls for salvation.

“Get Right Church” immediacy offers us a glimpse into the reported legendary live performances that have Miller (guitar and banjo) Scott Leeper (one-string washtub bass) and Doug Dicharry (drums, trombone, trumpet, mandolin, electric washboard and electric spoons +) wowing crowds across the nation since 2004. I look forward to seeing for myself next week at the Americana Festival and Conference in Nashville.

Their heated grit sounds caught the ears ZZ Top’s Reverend Billy Gibbons and he enlisted the band as the main support on their 2013 North American tour.

“Get Right Church” is from the band’s self-released 2012 album, “Heavy Load.” They will enter into the studio this fall to record their New West Records debut with producer Vance Powell(Jack White, Buddy Guy, Wanda Jackson, Willie Nelson and Kings of Leon.)

Buy Heavy Load

September 18 – Fayetteville, AR @ Biker, Blues and BBQ Festival
September 27 – Springfield, IL @ Donnie’s Homespun *
September 28 – Tahlequah, OK @ Riverstomp Music Festival
October 4 – Fayetteville, AR @ Arkansas Music Pavilion +
October 6 – Gretna, LA @ Gretna Heritage Festival +
October 8 – San Antonio, TX @ Majestic Theatre +
October 9 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater +
October 15 – Midland, TX @ Wagner Noel PAC +
October 20 – Salina, KS @ Stiefel Theatre +
October 23 – Springfield, IL @ Sangamon Auditorium +
October 25 – Lima, OH @ Lima Civic Center +
November 13 – Rouen, FRA @ Le 106 ^
November 15 – Ostend, BEL @ De Grote Post ^
November 16 – Brussels, BEL @ Le Botanique ^
November 17 – Hamberg, GER @ The Stage Club ^
November 19 – Zurich, CH @ Moods ^
November 22 – Utrecht, NLD @ Tivoli ^
November 24 – Brighton, GBR @ The Haunt ^
November 25 – Bristol, GBR @ Thekla ^
November 26 – London, GBR @ Islington Assembly Hall ^
November 30 – Blue Springs, MO @ Trouser Mouse
December 21 – Blue Springs, MO @ Trouser Mouse
* With Los Lobos
+ With ZZ Top
^ With Valerie June

Music Review: Blackberry Smoke – The Whippoorwill [Southern Ground]

My first encounter with Atlanta’s Blackberry Smoke – Charlie Starr on Lead Vocals, Guitar, Richard Turner on Bass, Vocals, Brit Turner on Drums, Paul Jackson on Guitar, Vocals and Brandon Still on Keyboards – was seeing them open two shows for ZZ Top at the Beacon theater. The neo-Grecian Beacon was originally a deluxe movie place designed Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager of Chicago and , since 1989, most famously the home for the Allman Brothers yearly New York City spring residency.

Both shows were great,as a Texan I am obligated to see all ZZ Top shows in a 50 mile radius, and Blackberry Smoke easily won over a crowd in the unenviable spot opening for a legendary band. The band won the crowd by performing their no-frills brand of Southern rock, that rowdier sibling to the Progressive Country movement. The blend of blues, country rock, r&b, rock, southern soul and gospel forged by pioneers like The Allmans, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Oak Arkansas and others provided a rich terrain for the band to work.

Newly released The Whippoorwill, their third studio album and first for Zac Brown’s independent label Southern Ground, proves the quintet has 12 years of road-honed musical contributions to the cause. This is made clear by the brash opener “Six Ways To Sunday” continues that tradition. Fueled by a Still ‘s barrell house piano, and fuzz guitar boogie and blue-collar come-ons like “I’m chasing my tail, and a couple other ones too” cements the song as a staple of their live performance from years to come.

“Pretty Little Lie” and “Everybody Knows She’s Mine” are excellent romps on romantic denial and celebration respectfully. Both songs deftly fuse country and rock so organically and soulfully that they stand, not only as great songs, but as sharp contrasts to Music City’s recent pathetic attempts to create the same sound.

“One Horse Town” leans toward folk before kicking into a rock groove detailing the isolation of rural living. The same quiet opening lures you into Ain’t Much Left Of Me” as the big rock sound sweeps you up. The title cut is a choice slice of Southern soul that stretches out like a country road baking in the Summer sun.

“Leave A Scar” is a pure piss. vinegar and whiskey rave-up offering a less than PC refrain of “When I die put my bones in the Dixie dirt” and “I may not change the word but I’m gonna leave a scar.” Kinder and gentler this aint’.

Southern rock continues to be maligned in the current genteel musical landscape. More for, I feel, cultural baggage rather than musical merit. The celebration of Southern history, culture celebrated sincerely without a a wink and a smirk pitiable strikes some as fodder for knuckle-draggers. In the end Blackberry Smoke makes great, well played, music loyal to tradition, to to thier fans. They’d sure prefer you to enjoy it, but if you don’t I’m sure they give a good goddamn.

While other contemporary bands, Like the Drive-By Truckers, use Southern rock as an element of expression; at the first whiff of commercial acceptance they jettison the style like an old pair of overalls to court their new-found demographic thus losing their soul and much of their base.

It’s great to hear this level of love and joy Blackberry Smoke brings to their music, a style that is obviously not a marketing contrivance. The album has just been officially released but has been available at their live shows for some time as a reward to their long-time fans. As Starr says “There is no way on God’s green earth that we are not going to put this in the hands of people who have spent their money night in and night out when we’re out doing shows. If we’ve got it, they are going to get it. I’d give them away, I don’t care. I didn’t want to make them wait another six months. They’ve been there for us, and we wanted them to have the music first.”

This, ladies and gentleman, is the real deal.

Official Site | Buy

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


News Round Up: Jimmie Dale Gilmore Premiers Heirloom Music

  • Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass fans take note! Texas’ Americana music legend  Jimmie Dale Gilmore waxes philosophic on what is wrong with country music today. Gilmore’s upcoming release was done with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass benefactor Warren Hellman, and his band the Wronglers. The album is a collection of vintage Nashville classics entitled Heirloom Music, which they’ll be premiering at Slim’s in San Francisco on Sunday3/10/11  afternoon.
  • On March 17 “Americana @ The Bluebird Cafe” show will focus on the rock side of Americana, with performances from Webb Wilder, Brad Jones and Hans Rotenberry. Tickets for the 9 p.m. show are $20, available through beginning at 8 a.m. on March 10, and all proceeds will go to the Americana Music Association. Also planned for this month are two more “Americana @ The Bluebird Cafe” shows: Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer will perform on March 22, and there’ll be a Jerry Douglas & Friends concert March 24th.
  • In support of his latest solo effort, the T Bone Burnett produced Low Country Blues, Gregg Allman has announced a solo tour that will launch April 19th in North Charleston, SC. For the first handful of dates, Allman will be joined by the Steve Miller Band. Allman will also be performing at several festivals this summer, including Bonnaroo and Nateva Music Festival. Press for Allman also indicates that he’ll be “back doing shows in late summer into the fall” as well.

News Round Up: New Releases by John Prine, Johnny Cash Art Collective

  • In true DIY fashion The Johnny Cash Project is a “global collective art project” that allows fans from all over the world to contribute to a arrogated, user-generated video for the title track from the latest Johnny Cash recording American VI: Ain’t No Grave. The single images are then threaded together into a one-of-a-kind labor of love. I only wish the Man in Black has lived to see this.
  • John Prine fans are about to hit pay-dirt. On May 25th, 2010, Oh Boy Records (founded in 1981 by Prine and manager Al Bunetta) will release the live In Person & On Stage, which will draw from performances spanning the past several years and covering songs from as far back as Prine’s 1971 debut and as recently as 2005’s acclaimed Fair & Square. Then Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine will be released on on June 22nd (Oh Boy) and will feature Prine compositions interpreted by devotees such as My Morning Jacket, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, The Avett Brothers, Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, Lambchop, Drive-By Truckers, Deer Tick featuring Liz Isenberg, Justin Townes Earle, Those Darlins, and, reprising their respective tracks from In Person & On Stage, Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins and Josh Ritter. Oh Boy will begin a pre-sale for In Person & On Stage on April 20thand for Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows on April 27th at
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has announced it will pay tribute to the legendary Tammy Wynette with an exhibit titled Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music. Presented by Great American Country (GAC) the exhibit will open in the Museum’s East Gallery on August 20, 2010, and run through June 2011.
  • More news from the The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. An upgrade to the Hall’s core collection, Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music, are expected to be completed next month. The updates, which focus on country music’s last five decades, will bring the story of country music forward in time and conclude with a glimpse of the future. They will highlight the country-rock, pop-country, southern rock, full-strength classic country and the “Urban Cowboy” craze. The upgrade includes new oversized portraits, video clips and artifacts such as Dolly Parton’s handwritten lyrics to Jolene, Tom T. Hall’s acoustic guitar he purchased from songwriter Merle Kilgore, and items from Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Rogers, Mel Tillis, and Tanya Tucker. Other updates focus on the mid-1980s arrival of artists like Dwight Yoakam, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Randy Travis and Steve Earle. New exhibits celebrate contemporary bluegrass and Americana artists, ranging from Alison Krauss and Del McCoury to Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale.

News Round Up: Willie Nelson Works with T Bone Burnett

  • For a man in his 70s Willie Nelson is showing no signs of slowing down. The Texas Yoda is reportedly working with producer T Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Walk the Line soundtracks, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant – Raising Sand, Elvis Costello’ s -  Secret, Profane and Sugarcane and much more) in Nashville on his very first bluegrass album. Some of the songs being considered are Sixteen Tons, Dark as a Dungeon, and the oft covered Joe “Red” Hayes and Jack Rhodes classic Satisfied Mind. (via
  • Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It is about roller derby in Austin, Texas. Sound like boxoffice gold to me! Ms. Barrymore was also instrumental in choosing the music for the soundtrack which includes Dolly Parton’s Jolene and .38 Special’s Caught Up in You as well as less twangy work by the Ramones, Peaches and Go Team! (
  • The Americana Music festival and conference is next week in Nashville TN (Sept 16-19) and the early bird registration price has been extended to Sept. 14th. Get in on what is sure to be a great conference and excellent showcases all over the city.
  • Congratulation to Patterson Hood from the Drive By Truckers and his wife Rebecca on the birth of their son Emmett Hood!
Willie Nelson

News Round Up: The Glossary is Giving Their 2007 Album, The Better Angles of Our Nature

  • has Juli Thanki’s newest Torch & Twang post (Louisiana Woman, Texas Troubadour)  Thanki bypasses the standard view that Loretta Lynn’s best duet partner was Conway Twitty and makes her case for Ernest Tubb.
  • Best Buy is offering an exclusive EP from Miranda Lambert today which  includes her new single “ Dead Flowers” from her upcoming album Revolution. The EP includes three bonus tracks from her prior album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The cost of the EP is $1.99, or you can pre-order Revolution and get the EP free. (via My Kind of Country and the
  • Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price, Bobby Bare Jr. and My Morning Jacket are some that will pay tribute to writer, artists , country music songwriter and Playboy mansion resident Shel Silverstein on Turnable, Twistable Man which is produced by Silverstein ‘s friend Bobby Bare.
  • Murfreesboro, Tennessee-based quirky indy Southern rock band the Glossary is giving their new 2007 album, The Better Angles of Our Nature, free from their official site and in different quality formats.  I’ll review it soon, but after a couple of passes on the iPod it’s a great one.
  • Happy birthday Patsy Cline  (Sept 8 1932)
  • Another use for texting? Apparently looking for the country crooner that stopped in your town and might have knocked you up is now on that list.  A certain lady with a Wisconsin phone number is currently looking for this Rodeo Romeo. (via NashvilleScene)

Music Review: Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – III (Ferret Records)

maylene_iiicoverThere are few genres as maligned as Southern Rock. The term brings to mind a drunken guy wearing a wife-beater and a trucker cap with a Confederate flag patch screaming “Freebird!” Despite stereotypes the truth is that most people that grow up in the South/Southwest are born knowing about two musical genres, Country and Rock. Given the working class environment and the musical heritages of the regions this is no surprise.

The legacy of the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd were revived and renewed most popularly by the DIY success of Northern Alabama’s Drive By Truckers. But other bands, like Austin, Texas’ Dixie Witch and Birmingham, Alabama’s Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster follows the Allman and Skynyrd path by way of  a more aggressive Southern metal route most famously blazed by Pantera.

Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster rose from the ashes of vocalist Dallas Taylor’s unceremonious dismissal from the Christian post-hardcore band Underoath in late 2003. Though MATSOD are designated A “a Christian southern metalcore” band on Wikipedia the Christian element is not the central focus, the music is. Like Johnny Cash and U2, MATSOD are about getting their message across in allegory delving into the ambiguities of faith rather than self-righteous cartoon ideas of good and bad. In the case of MATSOD it’s just done faster and louder.

To blur the line further between heaven and hell the band’s name is taken from  the legend of the barbarous criminal gang of Ma Barker and her fraternal offspring.

Step Up (I’m On It) offers Southern-fried bottleneck and banjo, Listen Close and No Good Son lift  licks from the Skynyrd playbook and Oh Lonely Grave begins as an updated swampy dirge, but the blasting intensity of the latter part of the piece and of  Settling Scores By Burning Bridges and Harvest Moon Hanging shows that the  combination of  Saturday night sin and Sunday morning salvation still proves a potent mix.

Official Site | MySpace | Buy

Little White Lies.mp3 |   Step Up (I’m On It).mp3