Jim White Q&A with Popmatters.com

PopMatters.com features a Q&A with Pensacola, Florida’s cosmic-folk chronicler of the South Jim White. At various points in his life, Whit has been a practicing Pentacostal, a fashion model, a New York taxi driver (a distinction he shares with Tom Russell) , a drifter, a pro-surfer, photographer, and a filmmaker. Renaissance man or ADHD? You decide.

White’s new release Transnormal Skiperoo (Luaka Bop) is available now and catch him on the road this Summer.

Jim White – Jailbird


The Dexateens – “Lost and Found” – Free Download

The Dexateens - Lost and Found

Following a questionable business model, laid down by millionaires like Prince, Trent Reznor (NIN) and Radiohead, of giving away your music for free online but then asking for a donation (why buy the cow? etc. etc.) or recouping the cost in other ways, Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s The Dexateens, and their label. Sky Bucket, are offering up their new release “Lost and Found” gratis.

The Dexateens are one of my favorite current bands and one that best epitomizes the moniker alt.country (for good or bad) and I hope this free download gets them some headlines and some cash from fair-minded people that realize it’s hard to make great music if you’re waiting tables or changing oil to make the bills. I’d like to hear what what all of you think about this model.

The exposure that The Dexateens get by supporting the mighty Drive By Truckers on the road for some upcoming dates might go a long way to helping them get the word out. Get out and see this great show when they come to your town.

May 6 2008- Detroit, MI at Crofoot Ballroom w/Drive by Truckers Detroit, Michigan
May 7 2008 – Columbus, OH at Newport Music Hall w/Drive by Truckers  Columbus, Ohio
May 8 2008 – Harrisburg, PA at Dragonfly w/Drive by Truckers Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
May 9 2008 – Washington, DC at 9:30 Club w/Drive by Truckers Washington DC
May 10 2008 – Washington, DC at 9:30 Club w/Drive by Truckers Washington DC
May 11 2008 – Dexateens show in Charlottesville, VA (details TBA)
May 12 2008 – Greenville, SC at the Handlebar w/Drive by Truckers Greenville, SC
May 13 2008 – Carrboro, NC at Cat?s Cradle w/Drive by Truckers Carrboro, NC
May 14 2008 – Carrboro, NC at Cat?s Cradle w/Drive by Truckers Carrboro, NC
May 15 2008 – Charleston, SC at Music Farm w/Drive by Truckers Charleston, SC
May 16 2008 – Jacksonville, FL at Freebird Live w/Drive by Truckers Jacksonville,FL
May 17 2008 – St. Pete, FL at Jannus Landing w/Drive by Truckers

Alt.country is dead, long live Alt.country

Gram ParsonsAquarium Drunkard recently commented – Grieving Angel (or, What Happened to alt.Country) – on the demise of No Depression magazine as a sign on the wall that alt.country, and all its various strains is headed for a well deserved dirt nap.

Everybody wants to be Nietzsche and be the one to get the “God Is Dead” headline. So Jeff Tweedy decided to chase the hipsters and ape Radiohead and Al Green instead of pursuing his inner Jimmie Rogers. Good riddance. His work in Uncle Tupelo will always be respected but making Tweedy the canary in the alt.country coal mine a like holding up John Lydon as the torchbearer for punk. Public Image Ltd.? Punk is dead! Artist champion then abandon, or simply just cross for a spell, genres every day with questionable intentions and to mixed success. Their movement across genres doesn’t leave the genre left dead.

Yes, No Depression magazine was the go to messenger for the genre and its many branches, but their demise seems to be more a reflection on external forces – the economy, paper prices – and internal business opportunities not pursued – changing editorial direction, overlooking the power of advertising on the web – rather than a symbol of a genre’s demise. If Rolling Stone magazine pulled the plug tomorrow would people assume rock is dead? Hardly. We’d think that somebody at Rolling Stone really screwed up.

Some see the embodiment of the genres extinction in its commodification and acceptance by the mainstream. Abercrombie and the Gap start selling pearl snap western shirts. Urban Outfitters starts to sell John Deere caps for $30. the same ones you could once get for free with two bags of feed at the local supply store. Bullshit. When leather jackets with safety pins turned up in the windows of Macy’s New York store and Hot Topic sprang up in malls across the Nation many beat the drum of punks demise. Punk didn’t give a shit what they said and gave us Green Day, the Offspring and Rancid.

And as far as the acceptance of the mainstream, this is still music with folk and country in its DNA. It is made to be appealing and to be related to by all people living a workaday life. With troubles and families and simple joys. It is made to be accessible so mainstream acceptance is a sign of success. This isn’t alt.rock where where the rules appear to be when there is mainstream acceptance it’s a sign for the hipster herd to move on.

This is America, The sincerest form of flattery in our hyper-capitalist culture is to be co-opted by trend-spotters and sold to middle America by the yard. So what? For every Flying Burrito Brothers there will be an Eagles. There are plenty of thrift shops and seedy bars for those that know the real, better thing from the Plexiglas replica. A genre that is so rarefied and precious as to wilt at the first sign of filthy lucre was never a legitimate genre anyway. It was just a gleam in some PR agents eye that once obtained was cashed in and abandoned. Grunge anyone?

It used to be that sub-genres were prohibited by physical space to thrive. Tower and Peaches only had so many shelves to hold album, cassettes and CDs and a minimum wage staff that know nothing about music didn’t help to perpetuate the hidden gems. But that hurdle didn’t stop indy boutiques from filling the void by bringing expertise and products that could not be found at the big box music stores. Now the rules and economics have all changed and physical space for product is not an issue. Online retail can adapt and support genres and sub-genres as they establish themselves to be financially viable. Amazon offers an alt.country and Americana section featuring the likes of Tift Merrit, Neko Case and the Drive By Truckers and iTunes offers an essentials alt.country play list featuring Ryan Adams and Johnny Cash. For those that prefer the boutiques expertise and selection can head over to Miles Of Music.

The whole argument might just be moot. Country music as a singular entity is really just a newfangled marketing artifice. What we have come to think of as country music is a mongrel beast of Celtic tunes, sea shanties, blues and gospel music. Hell, what we know as country and rock music today cross pollinated in the 50’s at a little studio at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee and changed the music world forever.

People that argue that alt.country and its cousins Americana and roots music is some way diluting “true” country music ignore the genres history as already existing and enduring sub-genres Honky Tonk, Bakersfield Sound, Bluegrass Traditional Country, Yodeling, Country Boogie, Country Rock, Close Harmony, Square Dance, Jug Band, High Lonesome Sound and Western Swing. Like the English only crowd, they ignore the history of cultural evolution in an attempt to erect a legislative dam to keep the genre pure. I say put on the Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” and watch their heads explode.

Livestock breeders often practice inbreeding to “fix” desirable characteristics within a population. However, they must then cull unfit offspring, especially when trying to establish the new and desirable trait in their stock. Alt.country, roots, Americana are the unfit offspring of the Nashville and corporate play list cultural breeders. These castoffs, misfits and outlaws make their own way in places across the globe. They make American music healthy and thrive by allowing a level of flexibility and brave experimentation that evolves the art and lays the groundwork to be culturally relevant to a new generation of fans.

Every day I’m contacted by new artists like the Dexateens, Twilight Hotel and the Whipsaws or their representatives that are taking alt.country, Americana, roots and Country music in exciting and sometimes unusual directions. Are they representative of country music? No, not in the officially sanctioned Nashville and mainstream radio sense, but there they are, listening to Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson and playing in their bedrooms and down at the the local bar. The are putting up a MySpace and Facebook page to allow people all over the world to discover them, refer the bands to their friends, and the artists can accumulate a list of fans so that they can serve them directly going forward. These artists have much to say and prove. Alt.country in and of itself is a merely a label that is only useful if representing a thing. Judging by my email, mailbox and experiences with local performances and conversations with artists and fans there is certainly a thing thriving out there that will not be denied, not matter what Nashville or cultural critics (me included) thinks.

I have to concur with the Twin-Cities country music critic Jack Sparks when he said “It’s important that I end this thought by saying everyone leading up to this, and everyone after, who writes an article about how “alt country” is dead, is a fucking moron.” Amen partner, amen.

Uncle Tupelo – Chickamauga


Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward – CD Release Party – Granada Theater – Dallas (3/28)

No mater how much time I spend looking over this great land of ours (and others) looking for great music something is bound to slip my gaze. I try to make up for it later and I’m about to make amends for not knowing about Denton, Texas’ Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward sooner then I have.

I will be reviewing their new release. “The Lonesome Dirge” (Label Name – release 4/8) soon but if you find yourself near my hometown this evening haul your ass to the Dallas’ Granada Theater to catch RP50PR CD release party and enjoy some a stiff shot of alt.country rock goodness.

If you can’t make it to the show “The Fine Line” will be webcasting the show live tonight.

Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward – Rodney Parker “200 Acres”


Upcoming New York shows

The mighty Drive By Truckers will be at terminal 5 Wednesday March 26th. There’s still a few tickets available, let’s show the Truckers the New York love and sell this sucker out!

Austin’s own baritone-voiced guitar wiz Junior Brown – Monday March 31st at Maxwell’s – Hoboken, NJ

The Bodeans – Thursday, April 3rd at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza

Kathleen Edwards – Thursday, April 10 at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza

The Felice Brothers with Justin Townes Earle and McCarthy Trenching – April, 12 2008 at the Bowery Ballroom

Dolly Parton – Thursday, May 1st (rescheduled from March 7) 8:00 at Radio City Music Hall

James McMurtry – Thursday, May 1st at the Bowery Ballroom

The Wood Brothers – Saturday, May 17th at the Bowery Ballroom

The Bottle Rockets (15th Anniversary Show) – Saturday June, 7 at the Mercury Lounge

Any I forgot? Post ’em below!

James McMurtry on Popmatters.com – New Release “Just Us Kids” 4/15

PopMatters.com has an excellent 20 question with Ft. Worth native and alt.country gadfly James McMurtry – who Stephen King has called “the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation” (Entertainment Weekly) – From the feature:

You want to be remembered for…?
Oh, perhaps…not screwing up my son any worse than I was screwed up. Of course, we don’t get remembered for what doesn’t happen on our watch.

During the waning years of the Carter presidency, Israel invaded Lebanon. The often portrayed as spineless Jimmy Carter told the Israelis to go home if they still wanted spare parts for their jets. The Israelis pulled back and waited for Reagan, who let them roll into Beirut and create one unholy mess. Reagan sent in the US Marines as a “symbolic presence”. Over 300 of those Marines died when a truck bomb blew up their barracks and a few more died from sniper fire.

When Walter Mondale suggested that perhaps the intervention had been a bad idea, since the troops had been sent in more or less for the hell of it with no clear military objective, he was accused by the Reaganites of saying the troops had “died in vain”. Anybody remember what didn’t happen under Carter?

In case tyou were wondering what to do with those tax returns, McMurtry’s latest release, Just Us Kids, drops April 15.

Lone Star 92.5 – Full Throttle Garage

Dallas based terrestrial roots-music/classic-rock/country-music radio station Lone Star 92.5 offers some great live performances by the likes of Steve Earle, Chris Duarte, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jason Isbell, Back Door Slam, Todd Snider and Billy Joe Shaver on their feature the Full Throttle Garage.

Quick Shots Reviews – Ashton Shepherd, Dawn Landes

Quick Shots - MusicReviews Graphic

Ashton Shepherd – Sounds So Good (MCA Nashville) – Like her Texas counterpart Miranda Lambert, Alabama native Ashton Shepherd serves up a gritty remedy for the sugary pop-confection emanating most recently from Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. Like Gretchen Wilson (without the goofy Muzik Mafia taint) Shepherd is a hell raising gal that calibrates good loving and a good time. Sure the release has producer Buddy Cannon’s Nashville sheen ladled over it like he does Kenny Chesney’s slop, but Shepherd shines through it with bad-ass glory. “Takin’ Off This Pain” puts all the cards on the table as a testament to women’s love woes. “I Ain’t Dead Yet” is a lovely Texas waltz about yearnings for good times in spite of domestic and maternal obligations. “Old Memory” is a slow burner that dwells on lost love that makes you forget the lady is only 21 years old. This is unabashed country music gold!

Dawn Landes – Fireproof (Cooking Vinyl) – Brooklyn by way of Louisville, Kentucky native singer/songwriter/producer Dawn Landes travels the same quirk-folk roads as her contemporaries Feist, Joanna Newsom and Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and like them she makes music that is both bold and subtle. On her second album, Fireproof, Landes hit a spot between the traditional and the contemporary. Like T. Bone Burnett producing The Breeders.

Singing with a voice that reflects a whispery-fragile grace reminiscent of Hem’s Sally Ellyson (some of the members of Hem appear on the release as well as members of The Earlies) and Suzanne Vega. Landes also plays everything from guitars, Optigans to bells and uses her experience as a producer to blend and fade between styles while preserving an overall mood of beauty veined with menace.

“Bodyguard” opens kicks things off like some kind of Appalachian beatnik mutation with it’s circular phrasings of “Where’s my bodyguard..” and “I saw a man, I saw a man, I saw a man..” it sublimely creepy. “Picture Show” has a Tom Waits scratchy junkyard carnival vibe that wobbles and skews under beat poetry. My preference for music with an open smile instead of a smirk and songs like “Tired Of This Life” and and the pedal steel tinged “Twilight” exhibit a simple, honest beauty that is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell.

Shooter Jennings to open Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jam

Charlie Daniels has invited Shooter Jennings to open a series of Daniels’ Volunteer Jam concerts this year. April 11-12 in Harris, Mich. the bill also features .38 Special (which includes Donnie Van Zant, of the country duo Van Zant.)

The origial Volunteer Jam took place in 1972 was suppose to a one-off showcase of Daniel’s friend’s which just happed to be the best Southern Rock bands of the time which including the Allman Brothers Band and the Marshall Tucker Band.

The BoDeans Release “Still”, Tour US

I saw the roots-rock group the BoDeans open for U2 in Ft. Worth for the Joshua Tree tour and they tore up the stage. The DoDeans are back with a new studio release, “Still” which is the eighth studio album for the band and is releasing it via their own record label, He & He LP. The disc was produced by T-Bone Burnett and features 12 new tracks. The band is touring this spring in support of their new album.

The first leg of the tour kicks off at SXSW in Austin, TX, and will cover the eastern part of the country. The group plans to visit the western half of the U.S. in a forthcoming second leg of the tour early this summer.

03/12/2008 – Threadgill’s – Austin, Texas
03/13/2008 – SXSW @ Bourbon Rocks – Austin, Texas
03/21/2008 – House Of Blues – Dallas, Texas
03/22/2008 – House Of Blues – New Orleans, Louisiana
03/24/2008 – Exit In – Nashville, Tennessee
03/25/2008 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, Georgia
03/26/2008 – The Handlebar – Greenville, South Carolina
03/27/2008 – McGlohon Theatre – Charlotte, North Carolina
03/28/2008 – House Of Blues – Orlando, Florida
03/29/2008 – House Of Blues – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
03/31/2008 – Toad’s Place – Richmond, Virginia
04/02/2008 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
04/03/2008 – Fillmore NY @ Irving Plaza – New York, New York
04/04/2008 – World Café Live – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
04/05/2008 – The Chance – Poughkeepsie, New York
04/07/2008 – Mr. Small’s Theater – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
04/08/2008 – 20th Century Theater – Cincinnati, Ohio
04/10/2008 – University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Wisconsin
04/11/2008 – The Vogue – Indianapolis, Indiana
04/12/2008 – House Of Blues – Cleveland, Ohio
04/14/2008 – Royal Oak Theater – Detroit, Michigan
04/15/2008 – The Intersection – Grand Rapids, Michigan
04/17/2008 – Paramount Theater – St. Cloud, Minnesota
04/18/2008 – People’s Court – Des Moines, Iowa
04/19/2008 – Washington Pavilion – Sioux Falls, South Dakota