Six Rounds Spent – El Corazón

Passion, jealousy, betrayal, lying, cheating, drinking, drugging, violence,, reconciliation, repeat…ah love. Here are 6 of my favorites. What are yours?

Ridley Bent – Nine Inch Nails


Ryan Adams – Come Pick Me Up


Jason Isbell/Drive By Truckers – Goddamn Lonely Love


Guy Clark – Dublin Blues


Blaze Foley – If I Could Only Fly (at a wedding, no less!)


Steve Earle – Valentines Day


Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line  (BONUS)


Music Review: Colt Ford – Ride Through the Country (Average Joe’s Ent.)

Are there any more maligned or misunderstood genres of music than hip and country? When asked what kind of music a person likes these two styles are at the top of the excluded list. Now imagine them joining forces in some unholy alliance of country-rap (or as one person I know coined it “crap.”) I can just imagine the exit becoming glutted with the fleeing hordes. Screw ’em….

I was cruising twitter and came upon several posts/tweets the name of Colt Ford. He’s become sort of surprise dark horse on the both the country and the hip-hop charts . I have a soft spot for both country underdogs so I checked him out.

Though not as left-of-center as Buck 65 or Ridley Bent , or as bat-shit crazy as “Insane” Shane Mckane, this 300 lb former PGA golfer comes across as a drinking buddy of Everlast and Bubba Sparxxx that might have passed a bottle with Jamey Johnson (who appears here on the cut Cold Beer) when he was working out the lyrics for Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk.

Like a typical hip-hop album Ride Through the Country offers cameos from other artists and you can judge the performer by the company he keeps.
The title cut is a slow country-rock ride back to Colt’s Georgia roots with smooth backing vocals and guitar furnished by John Michael Montgomery. The excellent Gene Watson trailer-park kiss-off cut No Trash in My Trailer gets a great reworking here and is made better by the great Mike Dekle on chorus.

As mentioned earlier, Jamey Johnson sings chorus on Cold Beer a rollicking party cut and Nashville singer Lindsey Hager provides a smooth counter to the Ford’s gruff lone-wolf with a soft heart lyrics on Never Thought. Saddle Up is a hell raising fiddle laced cut featuring the Alabama rapper Attitude. The bluesy, swaggering Good God O’mighty is tailor made for a good old fashioned hell raising drunk singalong.

The themes on Ride Through the Country are as cartoonish as a typical rap or country album – beer and rotgut, fighting, Southern cooking, pride in vehicle choices (4X4), pride in America, God and the bible, keeping it real – except the mean streets of Brooklyn or Philly are replaced by the dusty, feel good (where even fights are cordial) streets of Georgia. This is about as good as something like this can get and it beats the crap out of anything Kid Rock ever did.  Somebody give me a hell yeah!

Official Site | MySpace | Buy



“I’ll Love You till I Die” – Top 30 Country/Roots Love Songs


Sure most genres deal with topic of love but few can work all the angles like country and roots music. Courting, marriage, sex, cheating, fighting, break-ups, shooting, disposing of bodies… it’s all there in all its heart-wrenching glory.

Some old, some new, all guaranteed to get to you some when mixed with tequila and memories.

I’m sure I let some beauties sip so feel free to add your own.

1. He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
2. I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
3. Angel Flying Too Close the Ground – Willie Nelson
4. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain – Willie Nelson
5. Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson
6. Valentine’s Day – Steve Earle
7. Still I Long For Kiss – Lucinda Williams
8. Marry Me – Drive By Truckers
9. Arlington – Ridley Bent
10. Dale Watson – Every Song I Write For You
11. Before The Next Teardrop Falls – Freddy Fender
12. Behind Closed Doors – Charlie Rich
13. Oh My Sweet Carolina – Ryan Adams
14. Carrying Your Love With Me – George Strait
15. Cowboy Take Me Away – Dixie Chicks
16. Crazy – Patsy Cline
17. Gentle on My Mind – Glen Campbell
18. Lovin You Against My Will – Gary Allan
19. Golden Ring – George Jones and Tammy Wynette
20. He’ll Have To Go – Jim Reeves
21. Hello Darlin – Conway Twitty
22. Melissa – Allman Brothers Band
23. Hello Walls – Faron Young
24. Help Me Make It Through the Night – Sammi Smith
25. I Cross My Heart – George Strait
26. Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ – Charley Pride
27. It Only Hurts When I Cry – Dwight Yoakam
28. Please Break My Heart – Thad Cockrell and Caitlin Cary
29. Lovesick Blues – Hank Williams
30. I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry – Hank Williams

Best Releases of 2007

Music sales are down in most genres but the Americana and roots sales look strong for 2007. The labels still sue fans, bitch and whine about online piracy which is only half of the story. The other half is the cultivation of mediocre talent that produces “music” with the shelf life of nachos. If you look at the mainstream Country music field it’s as if we are in the 70’s and all we have is the Monkees or the Bay City Rollers and there were no Hendrix or Dylan to balance it all out.

Luckily there’s the borderland of Americana and roots music that brings creativity, diversity as well as a respect for history and a calculated abandonment for rules in equal amounts. Americana is the genetic mutation that makes the musical breed heartier, healthier and more of a mutt.

2007 brought in some great new talent and allowed a legend to bid a proper goodbye. All picks are my own and reflect my taste and bias in all it’s wondrous white-bred glory. Now on with the list…

10. Southern Culture On The Skids – “Countrypolitan Favorites” – Featuring 15 tunes typically associated with other artists SCOTS burns a hole through their hillbilly shtick to show the exceptional band they really are. SCOTS deliver the Kinks “Muswell Hillbilly,” T. Rex’s “Life’s a Gas,” and the Byrds‘ “Have You Seen Her Face” with respect and passion and the cover of George Jones’ ode to the joys of wife swapping, “Let’s Invite Them Over” is a classic reinterpretation on an old infamous chestnut. This release is a country-fried delight!

9. Ridley Bent – “Buckles and Boots” – Canadian hick-hop gone country traditionalist Ridley Bent came out of left field for me. I was aware of his fellow countryman and partner in rhyme (rap humor, heh!) Buck 65 but had not heard of the Halifax born, Alberta bred singer/songwriter blends the right amount of Bakersfield and Texas outlaw to tell clever stories for the head and the heart.

8. Jason Isbell – “Sirens of the Ditch” – Riding with the Drive By Truckers during their move from the country-rock fringes into what amounts to as close to mainstream success, Jason Isbell decided to take his own path. Many of the catchiest and heartfelt songs on recent DBT releases have been Isbell penned, Outfit, Dank/Manuel and the classic Decoration Day. It then comes as no surprise that Isbell carried through that keen-eyed and passion onto his solo debut and features DBT bassist Shonna Tucker, drummer Brad Morgan, and DBT founder/front man Patterson Hood, who also co-produced this release on almost every track.

7. Robert Plant / Alison Krause – “Raising Sand” – When I got word that Robert Plant was kicking around Nashville and working with bluegrass chanteuse and John Wait duet partner Alison Krauss I met the news with trepidation and dread. Would Plant approach American roots music with the historical revisionism Led Zeppelin brought to Delta blues or would it be a gilded palace of cheese? Happily Plant channels the spirit of the hills and prairies and let’s the crystal voiced Krauss set the tone for the surprisingly wonderful release.

6. Th Legendary Shack Shakers – “Swampblood” – Still one of the best live bands crisscrossing America today, Th Legendary Shack Shakers last installment of their “Tentshow Trilogy” has the band going all out with Pentecostal ferver and Dixie-core abandon. Most American genres from the past century are poured into a grinder and rendered into a frantically dark-Gothic elixir for the restless soul.

5. John Fogerty – “Revival” – A boy born in the Bay Area (not on the bayou) certainly earned his roots cred wailing his backwoods caterwaul fronting Credence Clearwater Revival. As the title makes apparent, “Revival” harkens back to the CCR days more then any other Fogerty solo work (due mostly to litigious reasons) and the man sounds more newly fired-up and impassioned, comfortable as a well-worn flannel shirt, and shows Fogerty as the roots-rock master he is.

4. Kelly Willis – “Translated From Love” – Somewhere between Americana and British pop Kelly Willis’ “Translated From Love” is a country pop masterpiece. Tight, smart hooks coupled with traditional instruments compliment Willis clear stream vocals to make this the best release for her so far.

3b. Patty Griffin – “Children Running Through” – Patty Griffin has never sounded more confident and transcends songwriting to arrive somewhere near artistic perfection.

3a. Dale Watson – “From the Cradle to the Grave” – I published this list and then it occurred to me that I had overlooked one of the best releases of the year. Maybe it was the early 2007 drop date, maybe it was the beer…whatever…so now I’m going to punt with a 3a, 3b (my blog, my rules!) Dale goes old school, old testament school, on this excellent harkening back to country troubadours of the past.

2. Ryan Bingham – “Mescalito” – Ryan Bingham sounds more ragged and rugged than his 25 years on this earth might lead you to believe. “Mescalito” is sun-soaked and West Texas dust choked and nails the right balance between outlaw country and rock and roll swagger.
This is the sound of the lonesome road, the rowdy roadhouse and the front porch in one package.

1. Porter Wagoner – “Wagonmaster” – Marty Stuart has earned a special bar stool in honky-tonk heaven for all he’s created, championed and, not least of all, helping Porter Wagoner create his finale (there’s a stool right near by for Anti records for releasing it when Nashville turned up their noses). I was lucky enough to see Marty and Porter perform in New York City just before “Wagonmaster” was released. Porter was visibly moved and humbled that the sold out show proved that even after 55 years of recording people still held the “Thin Man from the West Plains” in the highest regard. “Wagonmaster” is a crystallization of a what made Wagoner a country music legend, Puritan aesthetic, engaging storytelling of the lost and the hardscrabble. At the age of 80 Wagoner went out with honor and dignity. Unfortunately he had to look outside Nashville, in all their market-tested, plastic wisdom, to do so.

Honorable mention:

Dwight Yoakam – Dwight Sings Buck
Levon Helm – Dirt farmer
Miranda Lambert – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Joe Whyte – Devil in the Details
Pam TillisRhinestoned
Shooter Jennings – The Wolf
Avett Brothers – Emotionalism
Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger
Joe Ely Happy – Songs From Rattlesnake Gulch
Steve Earle – Washington Square Serenade
Old Crow Medicine Show – Big Iron World
Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
Kendel Carson – Rearview Mirror Tears
Cadillac Sky – Blind Man Walking
Willie Nelson -Songbird
Betty LaVette – Scene of the Crime
Chris Knight – The Trailer Tapes
Hackensaw Boys – Look Out
Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price – Last Of The Breed
Grayson Capps – Wail & Ride
Jim Lauderdale – Bluegrass
Robbie Fulks – Revenge!
Merle Haggard – The Bluegrass Sessions

Record Review – Ridley Bent – Buckles and Boots (Open Road)

Most Americans aren’t aware of the rich country music tradition in Canada. The twangy stuff drifted up from the States in the early part of the 20th century from then burgeoning US radio shows like WBAP, Fort Worth (1923), WLS, Chicago (‘WLS Barn Dance’ 1924), and WSM, Nashville (‘Grand Ole Opry‘ 1925). Country music was soon being broadcast on Canadian radio, beginning with George Wade and His Cornhuskers on CFRB, Toronto, in 1928, and Don Messer on CFBO, Saint John, NB, in 1929.

The point of this Canuckian history lesson is to understand how someone as genuinely country as Ridley Bent can come from the Great White North (Halifax-born, Alberta-raised, Vancouver-based, to be exact.) There’s a lot of history to draw on.

From the official PR sheet- Ridley was “Fed by a steady diet pulp westerns, and recent collaborations with housemates and sometime writing partners, Dustin Bentall and Cam Latimer, Ridley’s renewed interest came to a head during a long, unplanned detour on Vancouver Island. He had a grand total of five records to hand, but never got past George Jones’ Super Hits and Brad Paisley’s Part Two. Those records got Ridley to thinking, not just about what kind of music he wanted to make, but what kind of band he wanted to make it with…

“A wicked Country band,” he says flatly – the kind that makes a record sound like its been tracked in one go, by a crew of heavy, road savvy players in matching suits. So, with a fist full of new songs, Ridley teamed up with Vancouver based producer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Ellis to do just that…” And with “Buckles and Boots” (Open Road) Ridley Bent has made a great country album that should assure him Nashville stardom. He has the looks, the wardrobe, the sound, hell, he even has the perfect name. The rub against mainstream success is what makes Ridley Bent’s music so compelling. His daring ventures into smart narratives instead of hackneyed cliches and and an occasional genre-bending excursion instead of cookie-cutter arrangements dictated from the marketing department (Ridley’s MySpace genre is listed as Country / Hip Hop / Western Swing) will be his mainstream undoing. Even with his adept grasp on tradition he clearly is clearly unafraid to take on a challenge.

The opening title song gets things is revved-up Bakersfield style with forlorn broken-hearted lyrics that stand in contrast with the boot-skootin arrangement and the cracker-jack 7-piece band consisting of the country staples of steel, slide and lead guitars, fiddles, piano and organs – all ripping it up with abandon.

“Nine Inch Nails” is another break-up song in a Texas-shuffle Bob Wills style with a ripping guitar break and a title that refers to the mixed up albums that resulted in the split with his lady. I love a song that name checks Tom T Hall and Husker Du in the same song! Funny and brilliantly executed with heart.

“Cry” is another breakup song (sensing a theme here), but it’s the first one that sound like it. Opening with the sad mourn of lap-steel and fiddle the song is a waltz of loneliness. I don’t know if Scott wrote this song as a tip-of-the-hat to Johnny Cash (who had his own hit with a different Cry, Cry, Cry) but if he did this is a fitting tribute to the Man In Black.

“Heartland Heartbreak” (here we go again!) gets the party stared again with a song George Strait would kill to record and “Arlington” is a life-on-the-road country love song that can only be described a beautiful and shows no hint of Nashville-style cloying. A moving tale of unrequited love loaded with longing, “Faded Red Hoodie” should be a hit on all country radio stations everywhere. “Mama” sound like a Lyle Lovett-style ditty about a long in the tooth road-racer on run from the law.

Apache Hairlifter is where genre’s fold in. Ridley blazed new ground with hick-hop on his first release “Blam” and on this cut he moves back to his brand of spoken word story-telling. It works better then anything Kid Rock ever tried and rap and country aren’t that as strange as it might see, Listen to Johnny Cash’s cover of Hank Snow classic “I’ve Been Everywhere”
and tell me rap and country have no common elements. Apache Hairlifter has dope flow (couldn’t resist, yo) as it unfolds a story about a cow-puncher and his adventures in the wold-west and an encounter with an Indian beauty.

This is a pleasant late addition to my best of 2007 list!