Jason Isbell Readying 2009 Release

Former Drive By Trucker Jason Isbell is readying the self-titled release of his second solo album. The release was recorded at the renowned FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. and will be the first to feature the 400 Unit, which has been Isbell’s band for over 200 shows in support of irens Of The Ditch.

The 400 Unit features Derry deBorja on keyboards, Jimbo Hart on bass and Browan Lollar on guitar. Isbell co-produced the album with Matt Pence, who also lends his dumming talents to the lineup.

The release has a Feb. 17, 2009 drop date, but tracks can be heard now on Isbell’s MySpace page.


1.  Seven-Mile Island
2.  Sunstroke
3.  Good
4.  Cigarettes and Wine
5.  However Long
6.  Coda
7.  The Blue
8.  No Choice in the Matter
9.  Soldiers Get Strange
10. Streetlights
11.  The Last Song I Will Write

Drive By Truckers/The Hold Steady Contest

Live in the San Francisco area? Want to see the Drive By Truckers and The Hold Steady on their “Rock and Roll Means well” tour when it comes through the legendary Fillmore theater on Sunday, November 23rd? Hell, sure you do. You’re not CRAZY!

Just send an email to holler(at)twangnation.com (replace the (at) with an @). type “Drive By Truckers/ The Hold Steady Contest” in the subject field, and tell us why we should choose you to go to this amazing show. The best reason will receive a pair of tickets. Be sure to send your mailing address so we can send you the tickets if you win. Good luck!

Drive By Truckers / The Hold Steady Co-Headlining Tour

Straight from the Truckers:

The Drive-By Truckers are pleased to announce a 23-date co-headlining tour with their friends The Hold Steady. The bands will alternate who closes the shows throughout the tour, pre-sale begins Tuesday, August 19 (http://rockandrollmeanswell.frontgatetickets.com) and the public on-sale starts Friday, August 22.

The tour is aptly named the Rock and Roll Means well tour. The name of the tour is taken from a lyric of one of Mike Cooley’s songs, “Marry Me.” The line is one of Craig Finn’s favorite lyrics (which he often quotes) “rock and roll means well but can’t help telling young boys lies.”

“We’re all really excited to tour with The Hold Steady. They’re one of the greatest bands out there now and their new album is amazing. Craig writes songs I wish I’d written,” says Patterson Hood. Finn credits seeing DBT live on their Southern Rock Opera tour as the inspiration for him to start playing music again. USA Today rec ently called Southern Rock Opera “this century’s best rock album.”

The Drive-By Truckers have just wrapped a sold out tour of Europe and will play the Outside Lands Music Festival this weekend in San Francisco. Their latest album, Brighter Than Creations Dark was released in January and debuted at #37 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.

Drive-By Truckers & The Hold Steady – Fall Tour Dates

Thu    30-Oct    Louisville, KY    Coyotes @ City Block    
Fri    31-Oct    Nashville, TN    Ryman


Sat    1-Nov    Atlanta, GA        Tabernacle

Sun    2-Nov    Tallahassee, FL    The Moon @ FSU

Mon    3-Nov    Raleigh, NC        Lincoln Theater

Wed    5-Nov    State College, PA    The State Theatre

Thu    6-Nov    New York, NY    Terminal 5

Fri    7-Nov    New York, NY    Terminal 5

Sat    8-Nov    Philadelphia, PA    Electric Factory

Sun    9-Nov    Boston, MA        Orpheum Theater

Tue    11-Nov    Toronto, ON        Phoenix Theater

Wed    12-Nov    Pittsburgh, PA    Carnegie Music Hall

Thu    13-Nov    Bloomington, IN    Bluebird

Fri    14-Nov    Chicago, IL        Riviera Theater

Sat    15-Nov    Minneapolis, MN    First Avenue

Sun    16-Nov    Minneapolis, MN    First Avenue                    
Wed    19-Nov    Boise, ID        Big Easy    
Thu    20-Nov    Seattle, WA        Showbox            
Fri    21-Nov    Seattle, WA        Showbox     
Sat    22-Nov    Portland, OR        Crystal Ballroom        
Sun    23-Nov    San Francisco, CA    The Fillmore    
Mon    24-Nov    San Francisco, CA    The Fillmore            
Tue    25-Nov    Los Angeles, CA    Wiltern

Americana Music Association 2008 Honors and Awards Nominees Announced

The 2008 Americana Music Association Honors and Awards Nominees have been announced with Alison Krauss & Robert Plant getting the most nods for their moody roots release “Raising Sand.”  Some are dead on and some, like the The Avett Brothers who have come out with no new release for 2008, you just wonder if the AMA is going to have it’s own equivalent shoo-in like the Country Music Awards giving Kenny Chesney Entertainer of the Year for something like 13 years in a row (5 years in a row, actually.)

Here’s the list

Alison Krauss & Robert Plant
Raising Sand
Hayes Carll
Trouble in Mind
James McMurtry
Just Us Kids
Levon Helm
Dirt Farmer

Steve Earle
Levon Helm
Jim Lauderdale
James McMurtry

Buddy Miller
Chris Thile
Gurf Morlix
Sam Bush

Justin Townes Earle
Mike Farris
Ryan Bingham
The Steeldrivers

“Broken” Tift Merritt
“Cheney’s Toy” James McMurtry
“Gone Gone Gone” Alison Krauss & Robert Plant
“Poor Old Dirt Farmer” Levon Helm
“She Left Me for Jesus” Hayes Carll

Alison Krauss & Robert Plant
Drive By Truckers
Kane Welch Kaplin
The Avett Brothers

In more Americana Music Association news, the AMA is going to give their Lifetime Achievement in Performance Award to alt.country pioneers Jason and the Scorchers. The Awards show will be held Thursday, September 18 at the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Original Jason and the Scorchers members Jason Ringenberg, Warner Hodges, Jeff Johnson and Perry Baggs will be on hand not only to accept the honor, but to perform together for the first time in more than a decade.

Billboard.com Review Drive By Truckers Show – May 15th Charleston, S.C.

Billboard.com 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.

Jason Isbell To Release 6 Song EP – 4/15

Ex-Drive By Trucker Jason Isbell and his backing band the 400 Unit will celebrate tax day (April 15, for all you rich people) trying to pick up a little bank by releasing a live 6 song EP. “Twist & Shout” (New West Records) was recorded at the Twist and Shout in Birmingham, Alabama back on 11-16-07. After seeing Isbell and his band put on a great show over the summer I’m thinking this is probably just a quarter of the full show. Why not the full show New West? I’m especially disappointed about the decision not to include my favorite cut from Isbell’s solo release “Dress Blues” but I am glade to see the inclusion of some of his great DBT cuts.

Track listing:

1. Grown
2. Goddamn Lonely Love
3. Hurricanes and Hand Grenades
4. Danko/Manuel
5. Outfit
6. Into The Mystic

Jason Isbell – Dress Blues


Drive By Trucker Drummer Brad and Wife Kimberly Morgan Have Baby

Congratulations to Drive By Truckers drummer Brad Morgan and his wife and musician Kimberly  (from the band Kimberly Morgan and the Everlovin’ Band) for the arrival of the newest member of the Trucker family, Ruby Morgan!

The Dexateens have posted a new blog on MySpace about recording their new release “Lost and Found.” There’s also a cool blog about the making of the multi-media artwork that they used for the cover.

The Jack Grace Band starts their every Sunday night run at the Rodeo Bar (27th and 3rd Ave, New York, NY )

Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers plays Hanks Saloon ( 46 3rd Ave at Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, New York) tonight, and it’s FREE!

Country Stars Central has a fine interview with Brenda Lee. Branda talks about her life growing up poor in Atlanta, Georgia and her 1957 Grand Ole Opry Ryman Auditorium which also featured with Elvis Presley.

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


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!