Robbie Fulks in the The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe has a nice feature (He’s country but he jumps genres with irreverence) on journeyman Robbie Fulks. A excerpt:

Fulks, who plays a duo show with his friend Robbie Gjersoe at Club Passim tomorrow night, says that hearing Chet Atkins do Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” on “A Prairie Home Companion” gave him validation for his obsessive urge to demolish musical barriers.

Curiously, he’s both country to the core and an incorrigible iconoclast. “I feel it’s an ongoing tension in my life,” says the singer, who parlayed the considerable buzz of his mid-’90s arrival into a steady, if largely under-the-radar, career as an “alt-country” mainstay.

The tension, he says from his Chicago home, isn’t between country music and everything else as much as it is between “genre and experiment.” Given the choice, he’ll jump the wall every time.

Robbie Fulks “Cigarette State” – Corporate Country Sucks


The Village Voice Talks with Jon Langford

The Village Voice has a Q&A with Jon Langford of the Waco Brothers and the Mekons (playing the Highline Ballroom this evening.) Langford talks about the Waco Brother’s beginnings, his time on Bloodshot Records and their recent release Waco Express: Live & Kickin’ at Schuba’s Tavern.

Waco Brothers, “Death of Country Music”


James McMurtry in the Washington Post

The Washington Post sits down for some Mexican food and beer with Texas’ own James McMurtry appropriately titled “His Songs? Bleak. His Future? Bright.” McMurtry talks about his new release “Just Us Kids,” his growing popularity and the sorry state of America.  A sample:

His lyrics focus on broken dreams and hard realities. “I tend to look at the dark cloud behind the silver lining,” he says. (The songwriter Robert Earl Keen says that when McMurtry sits down to write, it’s as if “another tragedy is about to unfold.”)

Whatever he is — bard in a bar band; songwriter’s songwriter; hell, writer’s writer (Stephen King will talk your ear off about him and called McMurtry  “the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation” ed) — McMurtry, at 46, has crafted one of the year’s best albums in “Just Us Kids,” which artfully mixes provocative portraits with political screeds, including the Bush-bashing “Cheney’s Toy.”

James McMurtry – Ruby & Carlos –  the Granada Theater Dallas, TX


Gibson Guitars Blog Picks the Top 5 Essential Alt.Country Albums

Dave Hunter over at the Gibson Guitar’s blog (love their acoustic guitars, but for electric I gotta side with Fender) has taken on the daunting task of choosing the “Top 5 Essential Alt-Country Albums.” No real surprises on the list, and I might have a quibble with one or two of the choices (No Lucinda Williams? No Bottle Rockets?) but it’s a nice introduction for anyone getting into the genre.

Missy Gossip and the Secret Keepers

Patsy Cline brought country music from the hayride into the smoky piano bars of what was adult American pop in the late 50’s and may have set their course on that trail blazed by the torch she seemed to carry in every song. Add the that list Atlanta’s Missy Gossip and the Secret Keepers. This time the sorrowful siren is Lauren Staley who not only belts out some great tunes but plays guitar to boot. Luke Long lends the reverb vibe, Carla Kootsillas is on Mandolin and Mike Schmidt’s Bass and Jimmy Martin’s Drums all laying down a heavy bottom to pile high the tears. They even lend a feeling of remorse and loneliness to Micheal Jackson’s “Beat It.”

They group is out shopping their first EP and I think it’s going to be a jewel once released. Keep you eye on these folks, they’re doing it right!

Missy Gossip and the Secret Keepers – Beat It

Missy Gossip and the Secret Keepers cover Beat It

Twangfest Rides Again – St. Louis, MO

Add to the list of festivals I have yet to attend but want to Saint Louis, MO’s 4-day Twangfest (June 4-7, presented by KDHX 88.1 FM .) Twangfest is on it’s 12th year of providing fine to the lucky folks that live in the area or can make the trek. This years line up is a doozy.

Wednesday, June 4

The Schlafly Tap Room
2100 Locust Street at 21st
St. Louis, MO 63103
General admission; doors open at 7:00 PM.

Chuck Prophet
The Builders & The Butchers

Thursday, June 5

The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill
6504 Delmar
St. Louis, MO 63103
General admission; doors open at 7:00 PM.
Friday, June 6

The Gourds
Charles Walker & The Dynamites
Deadstring Brothers

The Pageant
6161 Delmar Blvd
St Louis, MO 63112
General admission; doors open at 7:00 PM.
Saturday, June 7

Old 97’s
Hayes Carll
Miles Of Wire

Off Broadway
3511 Lemp Ave
St Louis, MO 63118
General admission; doors open at 7:00 PM.

The Waco Brothers
Ha Ha Tonka
the everybodyfields
Caleb Travers Review Drive By Truckers Show – May 15th Charleston, S.C. has a glowing write up on the May 15th Charleston, S.C. Drive By Truckers show. A sample:

That they continue to pull it off in such hammering, consistent fashion is not only a credit to their staying power (and ability to weather waves like the departure of Jason Isbell last year), but, as they showed on a sweaty and Jack Daniels-fueled 25-song set in Charleston, proof that it still might make sense to buy completely into the notion that rock n’ roll is the literal answer to many, many things.

Legendary Shack Shakers Line Up Shake Up

As per a post from the Legendary Shack Shakers MySpace page and on the fine blog there seems to be a line up change for the LSS.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As our good buddy David Lee is currently tearing up his bicycling career all over the world, please meet the NEW guitarist for the Legendary Shack Shakers: Duane Denison.

Duane first came to public notice through his work with Chicago indie rock icons The Jesus Lizard. But he has also worked with a wide variety of internationally acclaimed artists including Hank Williams III, Mike Patton/Tomahawk, Bobby Bare, the Silver Jews and Firewater.

Duane’s style is synonymous with innovation, technique and taste. His move to Nashville a few years ago has allowed him to collaborate with several local, country-fried musicians. But only now will he be allowed to push the envelope and blur the lines between both the roots and Indie Rock worlds.

Strap yourself in and get ready for the NEXT chapter of the Legendary Shack Shakers!

Review – Rodney Parker & Fifty Peso Reward – The Lonesome Dirge (self-released)

Some compare Rodney Parker to the Old 97’s Rhett Miller is style, tone and subject matter. You won’t find me doing that.

I was designing band and club graphics, doing mural painting and bartending part-time in Dallas’ Deep Ellum in the early 90’s and remember Rhett with his “Mythologies” era Brit-pop stylings, with his teen beat poster-boy looks, playing the bars and coffee houses with an endless pack of swoony sorority scensters in his wake. Safe to say when he headed into alt-country territory with the Old 97s I could appreciate the song craft but he was still a bit too precious.

That said, to compare Denton–based Rodney Parker to Rhett Miller is to give the latter too much credit and the former not enough. If pressed I’d have to say I would liken Parker to West Texas singer/songwriter Joe Ely. Like Ely Rodney Parker, and his phenomenal band the 50 Peso Reward, forge honky-tonk tinged pop spinning tales of love and pain all shot through with humor. But Rodney Parker and the 50 Peso Reward spices up this recipe considerably with a hefty dose of rock. And like any good Texas music worth it’s salt there is plenty of bravado, brawling and whiskey in equal measure.

The Lonesome Dirge tears out of the shoot like an amped-up Ring Of Fire – all Mariachi horns and squeeze-box accordion and Gabriel Pearson setting a furious gallop of military-styled drums that drives this song of roasting rattlesnake, drinking moonshine and spiritual cleansing toward a searing a Springsteen-like anthemic conclusion. Speaking of Springsteen, Parker and Co.take the Boss’ spooky atmospheric “Atlantic City” (hey, that pretty much describes all of Nebraska) and makes it a defiant opportunistic declaration rather than Springsteen’s original exercise in existential resignation.

“In The River” is probably the closest Parker and Co come to a mainstream country song, except that it’s good and structured in ways that take you by surprise. “Brother” is a helluva pedal steel girded mid-tempo rocker about sibling rivalries and “Ghost” moves into melodious Ryan Adam’s-style pastoral narrative territory ending on an Irish ballad note. I’m not sure what brought the Emerald Isle spirit running throughout this release, but it rears it’s head again on “I’m Never Getting Married” which is a straight-up Irish whisky-soaked sing-along celebrating bachelorhood.

It’s good to get the message here in New York City that great music is not only surviving but thriving in the Lone Star State and bands like Rodney Parker & Fifty Peso Reward are doing us proud.