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

BLACK FRIDAY

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)

Dawes
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.

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv29x-AEGNM&list=UUlEMmhYh_L1ZV7Nw6iq-2ng&index=1&feature=plcp

Music Review: The Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do [ATO Records]

First off; cards on the table, the Drive By Truckers are a one of the reasons I started an Americana/roots blog. They and a handful of other bands crossed my path while living in New york City and coming to grips with my Southwestern roots. The mighty DBTs embraced what Patterson Hood brilliantly coined the “duality of the Southern thing” (from the Southern Rock Opera song Southern Thing):

You think I’m dumb, maybe not too bright
You wonder how I sleep at night
Proud of the glory, stare down the shame
Duality of the southern thing

In the South we call it the ugly sister exception – I can call my sister ugly, but if you do it’s out of line and you’ll probably get your ass handed to you. It really just boils down to the attitude shared by many disenfranchised tribal-like cultures – we can take care of our own, thank you – no outside help is wanted or appreciated. This attitude spoke to me and my upbringing and it opened up a world of familiar yet new, interesting and exciting musical narratives and sounds that was part Cormac McCarthy and part Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern-swagger meets the Replacements punk pop smarts. it was like the Drive By Truckers took the current alt.country genre replaced the engine and floored it.

It’s a common Catch-22 many of us apply to bands. We want our precious, unearthed gems to stay our little special secret and to achieve only enough success so they can continue to make music but not enough where they achieve the dreaded “sell out.” The Drive By Truckers haven’t reached the mega-fame of U2 or Radiohead, but they are far from  from their humble Alabama beginnings. And as they say the band have done good for themselves.  Rave reviews and relentless touring and sizzling live shows led to divorces, band changes (both encompassed by singer/songwriter Jason Isbell’s divorce from bass player/singer Shonna Tucker leading to his subsequent departure from the band) kids, marriages, playing back-up and for legends Bettye LaVette and Booker T Jones, Austin City Limits, David Letterman etc. etc. This special secret was getting progressively less secret. Patterson Hood even took to wearing thick hipster classes and drinking wine instead of Jack Daniels!
As success has come the narratives from A Blessing and A Curse, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark as well as The Big To-Do are less abut the cultural landscape of the South and more about the emotional landscape of middle-age which, By the nature, is going to be less interesting and more self-indulgent.

The “rocking” moments are here but they are few and more subdued than in the band’s piss-and-vinegar past. Patterson Hood’s Daddy Learned To Fly and After the Scene Dies both carry shades of past rock greatness. The Fourth Night of My Drinking follows the Groundhog Day-like binging of some poor schmuck, full of boozy minutia  like “There was a taste in my mouth, I wasn’t liking it.” The tune grooves more than actually rocks, but it picks up the tempo near the just to crest into a peculiar Pink Floyd finale. This Fucking Job has a great title, but that’s where the vitriol ends. It’s a blue-coller bitch-and-moan counterpoint to David Allen Coe’s  hillbilly au revoir Take This Job and Shove It, with riffs cribbed from The who’s Can’t Explain. Hood’s Santa Fe is not groundbreaking but has a nicely satisfying sorry of lost love and twang. Even when Hood covers familiar dark backwoods of the human soul. like in The Wig He Made Her Wear, the menace is cut buy the arrangements. it just sounds so damn…peppy. With The Wig He Made Her Wear hand claps just ladles cheese on an otherwise great song.

Mike Cooley, who continues to be criminally unrepresented, only has three cuts. Get Downtown is a rollicking boogie-woogie tune that would tickle The Killer and a bittersweet ballad for his son Eyes Like Glue closes the album. Though Cooley showed on The Dirty South‘s Where the Devil Don’t Stay and Daddy’s Cup that he can speak with dignity and bravado from even the most pitiful and poor white trash’s POV,  the jaded stripper in Birthday Boy seems to have no redeeming value and comes off as more pathetic than sympathetic.

Shonna Tucker’s weighs in again as the newest singer/songwriter in the band  (she’s played bass for the band since 2003.)  The atmospheric weeper, You Got Another, and the doo-wap girl-group-style cut (It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So, seem like oddities on a DBT album but come as a nice surprise and allows Tucker to put her stamp on the group. I’ve said it before, to me Tucker has the charm of the drunk girl who sings passably at karaoke but does it will such passion that you have to admire her nerve.

Wes Freed continues, with his fantastic outsider art style, to portray the DBT brand as hand-crafted, epic and menacing.

Ex-Trucker Jason isbell sang “So don’t try to change who you are boy, and don’t try to be who you ain’t” on the Dirty South’s Decoration Day’s fantastic Outfit. On the Big To-do the mighty Drive-By Truckers aren’t necessarily being what they aint, they certainly aren’t what they used to be.

Official Site | Buy

This Fucking Job

Eyes Like Glue

News Round Up: Taylor Swift Attends Miranda Lambert’s Revolution

  • Vince Vaughn is not only hilarious, and tall, but he loves country music. Or is it Americana music…hell I can’ keep up.
  • The Americana extravaganza that is Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is next weekend people. John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Boz Scaggs, Steve Earle, Ricky Scaggs, Gillian Welch, Booker T and the Drive By Truckers as his backing band, Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, Aimee Mann and Little Feat. And it’s FREE!
  • Taylor Swift showed up at the Ryman last night to watch Texas’ own Miranda Lambert play her new release Revolution (I wonder if she has to pay Steve Earle royalties on that too?) That’s right Taylor, that’s how it’s done! During her performance Lambert knelt down and kissed the historic wooden stage of the hallowed Mother Church of Country Music. No mics where taken from any performers as far as I know…

Music Review: The Drive By Truckers – The Fine Print (A Collection Of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008) [New West]

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I discovered the Drive By Truckers while an ex-pat Texan living in New York City. The environment that I has always known, and taken for granted, was replaced by something foreign and I was looking for cultural footing to make me feel “at home” but also to reflect my learned redneck attitude, a new framework look back over my home and its history. That’s when I came across a review for the Drive By Truckers’ 2004 Southern rock masterpiece The Dirty South. Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and Jason Isbell proved to the reincarnation of Lynyrd Skynyrd cut with the  Replacementsthat I needed at the time. Blue collar, backwoods gems like Where the Devil Don’t Stay, Danko/Manuel and Daddy’s Cup revived my faith in the Southern magic of storytelling and the band’s triple guitar attack revived my faith in rock and roll .

The Fine Print (A Collection Of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008) is an odds & sods largely culled from that fruitful period in the DBTs career. Along with Live from Austin, TX album, The Fine Print fulfills the DBT’s obligation with New West Records and allows them to move on to their own label, Ruth Street Records. The dozen songs on contained here is a bumper crop from a fertile period underscoring the power and focus of that time and that line up. The bitter-sweetness from listening to the album is that as good as the consecutive albums have been, the band has not met this level of intensity or focus since the departure of the youngster Jason Isbell after 2006’s middling A Blessing and a Curse.

The album kicks off with the jaunty George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues featuring John Neff’s sweet pedal-steel. The song deals the Possum’s 1999 car wreck while he was driving drunk and talking to his daughter on a cell phone. It shows love to Jone’s hopes it’s a while before he joins the legions of legendary country stars cluttering the afterlife.

The Trucker’s have never been shy about their influences and the four covers contained here are tackled with heart and reverence. Tom Petty’s Rebels is elevated to a Springsteen-like anthem and Tom T. Hall’s Mama Bake a Pie (Daddy Kill a Chicken) details the everyday cost of war without mounting a soap box. Warren Zevon’s Play It All Night Long fits right in with the The Dirty South‘s dark swampy groove and the cover of Bob Dylan Like a Rolling Stone is woozy fun and features a Shanna Tucker debut as a front and center vocalist.

The Alternate Versions of Uncle Frank, from 1999’s Pizza Deliverance and Goode’s Field Road from 2008’s Brighter Than Creation’s Dark are great but hardly improve on the originals. The gangstabilly mythos of The Dirty South‘s Where the Devil Don’t Stay and The Boys From Alabama has their dark reflection in The Great Car Dealer War, but to lesser narrative affect and Little Pony And The Great Big Horse highlights Mike Cooley’s subtle greatness in songwriting and storytelling. The creepy Christmas blues cut Mrs. Claus’ Kimono should have been the song behind the closing credits of Billy Bob Thornton’s black comedy Bad Santa.

Like most outtakes and rarities collections, The Fine Print is a bit of a mish-mash and overall doesn’t stand up as consistently as the DBT’s best work, but almost all the cuts are hands down better than most of what passes as rock these days. Besides it’s great that these songs (featuring another excellent cover by their long-time cover/poster/t-shirt illustrator Wes Freed) have seen the light of day at all I hope the release points the way to a revitalized and impassioned future for the mighty Drive-By Truckers.

Official Site | MySpace | Buy

4_rate

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLP_r7NZY_w[/youtube]

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

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxNu9rLKxF0[/youtube]

Review – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Lightning Rod Records)

If you will indulge me a half-cocked theory that the genre lineage represented by the forefathers of swaggering, guitar-driven Southern Rock Lynyrd Skynyrd and of roots-reverent, punk-drunk alt.country Uncle Tupelo beget the fierce, dark Faulknerian beast, The Drive By Truckers. Jason Isbell was a key element in that propagation when he replaced Rob Malone on guitar and vocals during the Southern Rock Opera tour in 2001, a time many see as the start of their golden era.

Making his mark on the band’s fourth studio album, Decoration Day, Isbell did something awe-inspiring – he stood toe-to-toe with great songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley and penned the title track for the album
in a reported three days after joining the band. If that weren’t enough he also wrote the outstanding Outfit, a song about Southern pride, familial loyalty and not “Gettin’ Above Your Raisin'” that is still part of his live set. He was 22 at the time.

Isbell’s first solo release after divorcing his wife, Trucker’s bass player – and in the wake if Isbell’s departure vocalist – Shonna Tucker, and leaving (or getting pushed) by the band was 2007’s Sirens of the Ditch was a strong but wobbly sound of a young man finding his feet as a solo artist but offered a jewel in the reverent requiem Dress Blues.The new self-titled release seems even more unsure and scattered and offers nothing close to Dress Blues.

Now 30, Isbell’s silky baritone makes him a kind of rougher Ray Price raised on rock and he sounds great here. His exceptional band, the 400 Unit (this being his first release with his touring band) do what they can with the material given to them.  Steady beats and searing guitars give what little cohesion and fuel is felt in the album.

The sweeping Seven-Mile Island begins the album with dobro and driving drums which start out strong but stay so far up in the mix that they become distracting over the duration. But the story is of haggard drifters torn between family and freedom is there gleaming brightly under all the noise.

Isbell can still melt you heart; Sunstroke, and the dusty Steve Earle-style weeper Cigarettes and Wine, or melt your eardrums;  Good, but for the most part this release is, and it pains me to admit this, forgettable.

Many strong songwriers that start in the alt.country fold find that the genre is constricting sanf strike out toward other horizons and though Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is not as far off the reservation as Neko Case or Jeff Tweedy have wondered but there is a level of experimentation here that is less then the sum of its parts. Many of the sings like Streetlights and The Last Song I Will Write take a middling mid-tempo arrangement and render any veins of storytelling gold into lead. I’ve seen Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit do some of these songs live and they come off much better in concert,  but that just puts a finer point on what these might have been if approached with a little more care and a lot more fire.

I wish Isbell would take his own advice as he laid it out ” real nice and slow” in his Drive By Trucker’s era gem Outfit; “…don’t try to change who you are boy, and don’t try to be who you ain’t.”

Official SiteMySpaceBuy

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL5Zf_76nCA[/youtube]

Bob Lefsetz Does Country

I usually hang on every acerbic and insightful post from music business gadfly Bob Lefsetz. He’s a no bullshit guy that sees the bloody writing on the wall for the big labels and pulls no punches. I hope this blog allows me to do 1/16th of what he’s been able to do in exposing the hypocrisy and crap in the music industry and also point the way to a great talents that are trying make a difference and do great work.

But recently Mr. Levitz was caught in L.A. Traffic and came across Sirius radio Channel 60, “New Country” who, by the blurb on their web site states they play ” Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney.”

Lefsetz writes that while listening to the station that:

“…every one of (the) words rang true and glowed like burnin’ coal, pourin’ off of every page like it was written from me to you, but I was not tangled up in blue, I was laughing, I was alive, I was ECSTATIC! This was a joy I hadn’t experienced in oh-so-long!

But I don’t know shit about country. Maybe this is the crap. Maybe this is the stuff those deep into it rail about. Then I realized, I was the target audience, I was fucking IGNORANT!”

I’m here to tell you Bob, you are listening to the crap, and allow me to school you.

You are a fucking genius savant when talking about rock and pop of the past, present and future, but when you stray into country music, I won’t say “fucking ignorant”, but I will say sadly naive.

What you were listening to was the country equivalent of listening to Beyoncé or Fallout Boy. Sad, shallow reproductions of artists that came before that did it not just do it better, but did it in a way that was breathtaking and dangerous. What you were listening to was formula, contrivances and confection.

You pine for the days of the Beatles, Stones and Hendrix. When the Velvet Underground and the Stooges were punching sonic holes in the cultural malaise of the 70’s. If you’re looking for the contemporary country equivalent of that, then you’re not going to find in on Channel 60, “New Country.”

The country equivalent to these ground-breaking artists, the giants that the current talent of country artists are standing on the shoulders of is Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. It’s the Allman Brothers and The Band. It’s Lynyrd Skynyrd, X, Jason and the Scorchers. Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam.

You’re more likely to find these artists on the Dallas area station Lone Star 92.5 that, despite being a Clear Channel station, is taking risks and plays artists that better represent the spirit you crave. Bands like The Drive By Truckers and the Bottle Rockets. Artists like Hank Williams III and Shooter Jennings. But Lone Star 92.5s are hard to find just as great rock stations are. The playlists are still the most common framework for commercial radio, and playlist are driven by sales.

Shooter Jenning’s band, the .357s comes closer to Led Zeppelin than the comparison you draw between Zeppelin and Tim McGraw. Tim McGraw is less Led Zeppelin and more Peter Frampton.

There is great country music out there and Bob Lefsetz, with a little counseling, is just the gauge that will recognize it. I for one would love for him to turn his laser eye on the Nashville money machine and the way it takes great talent and churns out dull, gray sausage.