Music Review: Daniel Romano – Come Cry With Me Normaltown Records]

NTR1006-DanielRomano-REDPeople often wondered why Gram Parsons, a member of a 60’s generation that cast off the past so dramatically, would choose to perform music so informed by country music clad in the garish uniform of the institution, a Nudie suit. Granted the suit was adorned in spangled by pot leaves. But still, what gives? Was he a novelty act? But then you heard “Hickory Wind” and you knew this wasn’t hippie irony. This was reverence.

Ontario-based singer/songwriter Daniel Romano stares at you from his latest release ‘Come Cry With Me” donned in a brown, Nudie-style, bespangled suit. Stetson, hipster ‘stache and sideburns. Like a retro Instagram filter set to Country Gold. Romono dares you not to ask “is this dude kidding?”

By music don’t lie. ‘Come Cry With Me” is as real as anything that’s come out as country music scene since it moved from the porch to the studio mic.

Like Chuck Ragan and Austin Lucas, Romano spent his youth in punk and hard rock msuic founding the indie-rock outfit Attack in Black. Like them his journey led him to the music he grew up listening to A music with stylistic and thematic ties to punk and hard rock. Country and folk music.

Hank (Williams and Snow) Gram, Willie, Waylon, Billy Joe, Ernest, George Jones – they would all identify Romono’s fourth solo record as spiritual and melodic kin.

Weepers like “The Middle Child” and “Two Pillow Sleeper” used to spend weeks at the top of the jukebox charts and brings to mind long-forgotten smokey bars, broken hearts and cheap beer.

But it’s not all tales of the misbegotten and downtrodden. “Chicken Bill” takes a page out of the Cash book of Boom Chicka Boom and pulls the chair out with a mysterious ending. The wry humor and double entendre soaked “When I Was Abroad” sound like a result of a Roger Miller and Shel Silverstein amphetamine-fueled songwriting session at the Playboy Mansion.

And the excellent celebration of 3/4 waltzes “Just Before The Moment” would make Lefty Frizzell smile and cause Music Row execs the night sweats.

The rebellion that shapes punk and hard rock music has led Romano to one of the most rebellious acts he could undertake in today’s cultural environment. Creating an honest-to-God country music record.


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Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 12 Full Schedule / Picks / Spotify Playlist

The 12th year of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival shows the premier showcase for great (and FREE!) Americana and roots music is showing no signs of slowing down. This year might prove to be the best yet as old friends like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Ralph Stanley are joined by event newcomers like punk-turned-folkie Chuck Ragan, Texas sweethearts The Trishas and Americana darlings The Civil Wars, who pulled out of last year’s HSB.

Have fun, and remember to wear layers and stay hydrated out there (and upwind.)  Below find the schedule with my picks in bold.



Friday Oct 5 (10:00am – 7:00pm)

Star Stage
10:00am Poor Man’s Whiskey and Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Banjo Stage
12:00pm John Reilly and Friends (featuring Becky Stark and Tom Brosseau)
    1:15pm Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys
    2:40pm The Jerry Douglas Band
    4:15pm The Time Jumpers (Vince Gill, Dennis Crouch, Paul Franklin, Larry Franklin, Andy Reiss, Dawn Sears, Kenneth Sears, Joe Spivey, Jeff Taylor & Billy Thomas)
    5:45pm Elvis Costello Solo

Arrow Stage
12:00pm Chuck Ragan
1:00pm Pickwick
2:10pm Chris Carrabba
3:20pm Patterson Hood & the Downtown Rumblers
    4:45pm Jon Langford & His Sadies feat. Sally Timms
6:15pm Reignwölf

Rooster Stage
12:00pm Simone Felice
    1:00pm Chuck Prophet & the Mission Express
2:20pm Beachwood Sparks
3:25pm Ben Kweller
4:25pm Jenny Lewis
5:45pm Conor Oberst

Saturday Oct 6 (11:00am – 7:00pm)

Banjo Stage
11:00am World Famous Headliners (Big Al Anderson, Shawn Camp, Pat McLaughlin, Michael Rhodes & Greg Morrow)
12:10pm Alison Brown Quartet with Stuart Duncan
1:25pm Buddy Miller
2:45pm Tribute to the Founding Fathers: Warren Hellman, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson featuring Alison Brown, Stuart Duncan, Tim O’Brien and Bryan Sutton, with special guests Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris with Heidi Clare & Colleen Browne (from the Wronglers), Peter Rowan, Nick Lowe & more!
4:15pm The Chieftains
5:45pm Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses)

Rooster Stage
11:00am The Go to Hell Man Clan with Special Guests the Wronglers featuring Jimmie Dale Gilmore
12:00pm Lloyd Cole
1:10pm Guy Clark & Verlon Thompson
2:30pm The Lumineers
  3:50pm Patty Griffin
    5:30pm Robert Earl Keen

Star Stage
    11:00am Roger Knox and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
    12:30pm Dirty Three
    2:10pm Dave Alvin & the Guilty Ones
3:45pm Cowboy Junkies
5:45pm Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Towers Of Gold Stage
11:40am Red Baraat
1:20pm Justin Townes Earle
3:00pm Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang
4:45pm The Head & the Heart

Arrow Stage
11:00am The Trishas
    12:05pm Reckless Kelly
1:30pm Bill Kirchen & The Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods
2:45pm Heartless Bastards
4:05pm Jerry Jeff Walker
    5:35pm The Flatlanders feat. Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock

Porch Stage
11:00am Joe Pug
12:10pm Sara Watkins
1:25pm Little Green Cars
2:40pm Allison Moorer
3:50pm Robyn Hitchcock
4:50pm Sierra Hull
6:05pm Seasick Steve

Sunday Oct 7 (11:00am – 7:00pm)
Banjo Stage
11:00am Dry Branch Fire Squad
12:05pm Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands
1:20pm Peter Rowan
2:45pm Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys
4:15pm Tim O’Brien Party of 7
5:45pm Emmylou Harris

Rooster Stage
11:00am Jim Lauderdale
    12:05pm Kevin Welch & Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin
1:10pm Jesse Winchester
2:20pm Glen Hansard
3:35pm Nick Lowe
4:50pm Todd Snider
6:10pm The Civil Wars

Star Stage
11:00am Giant Giant Sand
12:40pm The Knitters
2:15pm DOUG SAHM’S PHANTOM PLAYBOYS featuring: dave ALVIN, steve EARLE, delbert McCLINTON, boz SCAGGS, jimmie VAUGHAN… and whoever the cat drags in…
4:05pm The Del McCoury Band
6:00pm Keller Williams, Steve Kimock & Kyle Hollingsworth featuring Bernie Worrell, Wally Ingram & Andy Hess

Towers of Gold Stage
12:00pm The Milk Carton Kids
1:30pm Soul Rebels
3:10pm Dwight Yoakam
5:00pm Patti Smith and her band

Arrow Stage
11:00am Lucero
12:05pm Moonalice
1:25pm Rubblebucket
2:45pm Son Volt
4:10pm Luther Dickinson & the Wandering
5:45pm ALO

Porch Stage
11:00am The New Orleans Bingo! Show
12:10pm Tiny Television
1:25pm The Barr Brothers
2:40pm Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys
3:55pm The White Buffalo
5:10pm Walter Salas-Humara
6:20pm Jonny Two Bags & Salvation Town

The Revival Tour – Slims – San Francisco, CA – 11/6/09

Me and many others have drawn a crooked, dirty line from old-time country, mountain and folk music to punk music. Working class themes punctuated by simple rhythms defined more by passion then artistry While I consider myself a music fan, I know next to nothing about current punk (or post-punk) bands, so I took it on the advice of a friend to check this tour out. I did some research and like what I learned.

The tour started last year as the brainchild of Chuck Ragan, frontman for  post-hardcore/punk band, Hot Water Music, and presented by Ragan’s own label Ten Four Records. The format gathers a revolving cast of musicians from various punk and post-punk bands to revive the old style jamboree and hayride format of organic collaboration. The musicians either stripped down their original material to fit the folk/ Americana acoustic format or they have written material that fits the genre structure for the show and egos are kept in check as musicians accompany each other in various combinations.

Aside from Ragan, this bill for the Orlando show featured Jim Ward (of At The Drive-In, Sleepercar and Sparta), Frank Turner (of Million Dead), Joey Cape (Lagwagon), folk/Americana singer Audra Mae, The Anderson Family Bluegrass Band, Konrad Wert (Possessed by Paul James) and featured the frequent and excellent fiddle playing of Jon Gaunt & Digger Barnes on the upright bass bringing up the low end.

The show starts with all the musicians on stage exhibiting the democratic and supportive ethos that characterizes the tour. It sounds like a recipe for chaos but all the performers are amazing and the caradre from the musicians spills out into an adoring crowd that whoops and claps along.

Audra Mae and The Anderson Family Bluegrass Band were the only full-time Americana acts on the bill and they delivered in spades. The former sang with a clear stream voice that warmed your heart and made you forget your troubles and the latter,  Mom Christy on upright bass, Dad Mark banjo and their family Paige (guitar/vocals), Aimee (fiddle), Ethen (mandolin) and Daisey (fiddle), tearing it up onstage and winning over an audience that probably could not name one song by Bill Monroe.

El Paso, TX based Jim Ward, formerly the rhythm guitarist of At The Drive-In, the vocalist/guitarist in Sparta, and currently fronting his Alt-Country project Sleepercar performed a spirited set and appears to be comfortable in his newly chosen genre (must be those Texas roots) and British folk/punk Frank Turner (formerly the vocalist of U.K. post-Hardcore band Million Dead) performed a rollicking set drinking songs from across the pond and remained us all that “What you call Americana and country has been kicking around my country for a couple of thousand years.” tis true. Both  performers left me wanting more.

Possessed by Paul James did a sit down set with a soar and yelp of his voice he embodied the best tradition of a one man band and local boy (well, Santa Barbara) Joey Cape played a great set to an audience that seemed to know his songs word for word and sometimes filled in. Cape’s  voice, more than the others,  lent itself well to the more subtle singer/songwriter format. Jon Gaunt was a great pick for fiddle support. He reminded me of O’Death’s Bob Pycior as a find of a guy that brings ferocity yet precision to the instrument.

As a master of ceremonies Chuck Ragan is a modest one. His graveled vocals and acoustic attack that can only come fro a guy that cut his teeth on punk’s intensity and he commands the stage during his set.  As he plays through his set the rest of the band enters the stage and things end as they began , camaraderie and revelry on a large scale. Check closed by saying “See you next year!” so it appears  that the Revival Tour will continue for years to come. I’ll be there.


News Round Up: George Jones Says Get Your Own Damn Genre!

  • Happy birthday to Willie Nelson’s longtime drummer and the “Paul” of the Willie’s song “Me and Paul,” Paul English.  Happy birthday also to legendary Texas singer/songwriter Guy Clark.
  • The latest installment of’s excellent Torch & Twang series Juli Thanki delivers a post exploring ithe intersecting careers of bluegrass legend  Bill Monroe and musician and folklorist Ralph Rinzler.
  • I’m a long time fan of Libertyville, Illinois rocker Ike Reilly. So when I read over at the fine that Reilly was teaming up with on-and-off country outlaw 2.0 Shooter Jennings for the song The War On The Terror and Drugs (from Reilly’s upcoming release Hard Luck Stories) I was intrigues. Turns out it’s damn fine! (Song Illinois)
  • Front Porch Musings is offering a sweet playlist from performers playing the Americana-by-way-of-punk showcase showcase The Revival Tour.Featured are Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Jim Ward (At the Drive-In, Sparta), Frank Turner (Million Dead), and much more.
  • Country, roots, Americana- as the rest of us are grappling with nomenclature (fancy word for names) for music, George Jones uses his old-guard status to reclaim flag and call Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift “not country music.”

News Round Up: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Begins

  • The winners of the 20th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards went to: Dailey & Vincent : Entertainer of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper : Instrumental Group of the Year, Dan Tyminski – Male Vocalist of the Year, Dale Ann Bradley – Female Vocalist of the Year, Wheels : Dan Tyminski, (artist/producer) Album of the Year, Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away : Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass (artist) – Song of the Year (via See photos from the award show, held at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn (The Bluegrass Blog)
  • London-based Americana (Euro-Americana?) band The Dog Roses have a new EP, Just Another Saturday, scheduled for release next month. It is discribed as “foot tapping country-bluegrass mix with hints of celtic thrown in for good measure.” Download Let the Bottle Take the Heartache from the forthcoming EP: Let The Bottle Take The Heartache Away.mp3
  • Go pick up the new podcast from featuring tracks from upcoming cds by Lucero,  Strawfoot and Micah Schnabel (Two Cow Garage) as well as new material from Drivin’ & Cryin’ and Chuck Ragan.
  • Sounds Country takes a look back at Jerry Jeff Walker’s 1975 release Ridin’ High
  • Hardly Strictly Bluegrass begins today and goea on until Sunday in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park Speedway Meadow. The 9th year of this free annual Americana and roots festival features 5 stages featuring John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, Billy Joe Shaver, Elizabeth Cook, Buddy Miller and many, many more. You can follow HSB on twitter. And you can follow Twang Nation tweets from the festival all weekend.