Trust me when I say if you go ambling through American college towns, you won’t find anything resembling a dearth of string bands with a bunch of young men and their banjos and fiddles stomping and shouting on stage. What you will find a dearth of are these bands that are actually worth listening to, at least outside of the context of a drunken college town barroom.
.357 String Band
Joseph Huber is one of those country roots gems with potent tunes that impact the open heart with such resonance and penetration, it remains with the listener much after the music stops. The Hanging Road is an exposition of Huber’s multi-talented musical skill set, engaging and vibrant, yet humble and rootsy as he takes his country, folk, bluegrass and blues influences into heavy account.
The greatest album, and the greatest recorded song will never be able to trump the truly live musical experience where music is shared in real time with both the artist and listeners. It is in this spirit that each year I assemble a list of the Best Live Performances to reinforce that as technology and the busying of life incrementally encroach upon us, we must remember that the live music show deserves its own attention and reverence.
.357 String Band, 2013, American Aquarium, Andrew Bird, Austin City Limits, Best Live Performances, Bob Wayne, Dirty River Boys, Eric Church, Gruene Hall, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jared McGovern, Jason Eady, Jason Isbell, Jayke Orvis, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Lincoln Durham, Liz Sloan, Patsy Cline, Pickathon, Punch Brothers, Red 11, The Crooks, The Mavericks, The White Horse, Tift Merritt, Turnpike Troubadours, Valerie June, XSXSW
One of the great things about roots music is its Gothic legacy of cautionary tales, ghost stories, murder ballads, messages to the infirmed, and other such methods of macabre that allow country and roots artists to paint in dark colors when they so choose. This makes roots music one of the best realms to draw from when putting together your Halloween playlist.
.357 String Band, Black Jake & The Carnies, Creech Holler, Dad Horse Experience, Devil Makes Three, Filthy Still, Goddamn Gallows, Jay Munly, Jayke Orvis, Joe Buck Yourself, Joel Kaiser & The Devil's Own, Larry & His Flask, Lincoln Durham, Lindi Ortega, Lonesome Wyatt, Nick Cave, O' Death, Pine Box Boys, Pinebox Serenade, Rachel Brooke, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Reverend Glasseye, Rodentia, Serial Killer, Shakey Graves, Slackeye Slim, Slaughter Daughters, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Sons of Perdition, Squidbillies, Strawfoot, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, The Bloody Jug Band, The Dinosaur Truckers, The Haunted Windchines, The Perreze Farm, The Slow Poisoner, Those Poor bastards, Tom Waits, unknown hinson, Viva Le Vox, Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys
The underground country movement initially formed around the mid 90’s not because somebody launched a website or a record label. It wasn’t because of a festival or because someone came up with a special name for a new genre. It came from the songs artists were writing, recording, and performing; songs that spoke very deep to the hearts of hungry listeners.
.357 String Band, Goddamn Gallows, Hank Williams, Hank Williams III, Hank3, Jayke Orvis, JB Beverly & the Wayward Drifters, Joe Buck, Lonesome Wyatt, Rachel Brooke, The Boomswagglers, Those Poor bastards, Wayne Hancock
Good music is entertaining. Great music changes lives. And on the front lines of life altering music experiences are the one man bands. Courageous, pioneering, persevering through obscurity and misunderstanding, one man bands might make up a majority of the music world’s boldness and creativity per capita. Here’s 16 of them from a wide swath of the roots world.
.357 String Band, Bloodshot Bill, Bob Long III, Charlie Parr, Joasph Huber, Joe Buck Yourself, Lincolmn Durham, list of one man bands, Lone Wolf, McDougall, Molly Gene One Whoman Band, one man bands, Otis Gibbs, Possessed by Paul James, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Reverend Deadeye, Scott H. Biram, Shakey Graves, The Slow Poisoner, William Elliot Whitmore
Can four dudes from Germany make American roots music and still be authentic? Do they have the ear, the personal history, the DNA, the dirt under their fingernails to do what American-based string bands do, or will they be forever relegated to being once removed from the American musical experience? If The Dinosaur Truckers and their new self-titled LP are any indication, the answer would be “Ja! Natürlich!”
If you’re looking for an act that is still virtually unknown, one that is buried deep in the underground and that embodies the raw energy of the roots movement and not just a commercially-viable watered-down derivative, one whose active ingredient still works on even the most hardened of roots addicts, then Jayke Orvis and The Broken Band might be your drug.
.357 String Band, Alabama Shakes, Bless This Mess, Bob Wayne, Farmageddon Records, Hank Williams, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jared McGovern, Jayke Orvis, Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band, Jello Biafra, Joe Perreze, Liz Sloan, Punch Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Shovels & Rope, Sturgill Simpson, Weary Boys
“Leavin’ Yesterday” is a brilliantly-written, steadfastly country old school tearjerker that doesn’t relent on the heartaches once in the album’s 13 stellar tracks. Just a glance at song titles like “I’m So Happy I Could Cry” and “That Makes 3 Of Us” lets you know you’re in store for a stone cold and felonious hard country heart stabbing.
Reno, Nevada’s Hellbound Glory has just come off two legs of arena shows opening for Kid Rock on his nationwide Rebel Soul tour, and are recovering now to get ready for their own tour in early summer. Saving Country Music talks with Hellbound front man Leroy Virgil about the tour, the potential for new music, and about the new single “The Feud.” Leroy releases an alternative version of the song through SCM.
Holy mother. While the Mumfordization of roots music has left so many string bands looking for the right watered-down derivative to forge mass appeal, The Dinosaur Truckers offer up the pure, uncut, unadulterated form–potent and dangerous and not for the faint of heart. Listen to The Dinosaur Truckers at your own risk.
Many of the bold changes in the direction of popular music begin with artists that are too fey, too polarizing to become popular themselves. So it takes others who understand how to soften music with sensibilities to make it accessible to the masses, and hopefully, if time is on their side, transect the popularity timeline, resulting in superstardom.
.357 String Band, Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Flatt & Scruggs, Foghorn Stringband, Goddamn Gallows, Jimmy Martin, Ketch Secor, Larry & His Flask, Marcus Mumford, Mumford & Sons, O Brother Where Art Thou, Old Crow Medicine Show, Ralph Stanley, Split Lip Rayfield, The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, The Devil Makes Three, The Hackensaw Boys, Trampled by Turtles, Wayne Hancock
The Farmageddon Records family suffered a grave loss last week when Richard Laferte II unexpectedly passed away Saturday, January 5th while visiting family and friends in Maine. Following a formal time of remembrance, the gathering turned to celebrating Richard’s life through music. The celebration included the reunification of 3 original members of the .357 String Band, Jayke Orvis, Derek Dunn, and Joseph Huber.
Where 2011 felt like a high water mark year for live performances and an average year for recorded projects, 2012 feels vice versa. When I look back on 2011, it seemed like there were moments I experienced that I will never top the rest of my life. 2012 is the year that some albums and songs were released that may never be topped. Still there were a quite a few memorable performances worth noting.
.357 String Band, Anderson Family Bluegrass, Austin Lucas, Bob Wayne, Don Maddox, Glossary, Goddamn Gallows, Jayke Orvis, JB Beverley, Joe Buck, Lake Street Dive, LC Ulmer, Lucky Tubb, Muddy Roots, Pickathon, Rachel Brooke, Ralph Stanley, Restavrant, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Robert Belfour, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Sturgill Simpson, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, The Calamity Cubes, Thee Oh Sees, XSXSW
By request, here is my list of the greatest underground country albums of all time. The underground country movement started roughly in the mid 90’s on lower Broadway in Nashville that at the time was a run down part of town. Young musicians from around the country, some from punk backgrounds, came together from their mutual love of authentic country music.
.357 String Band, Andy Gibson, Bob Wayne, BR549, Dale Watson, Donnie Herron, Hank Williams, Hank3, Hellbound Glory, Jayke Orvis, JB Beverley, Joe Buck, Justin Townes Earle, Legendary Shack Shakers, Leroy Virgil, Lonesome Wyatt, Lucky Tubb, Rachel Brooke, Slackeye Slim, The Boomswagglers, Those Poor bastards, Wayne Hancock
I have been struggling to write this article for almost two years, but have been putting it off because there’s some hard things to say, and I didn’t want to “talk down” a movement that was already trying to deal with pretty alarming trends. But I think that especially now, zooming out and trying to be honest and critical in a constructive way is important, because there is positively no doubt that underground country is dying.
.357 String Band, Bob Wayne, Dale Watson, Hank3, Hellbound Glory, Larry & His Flask, Leroy Virgil, Muddy Roots, Pickathon, Rachel Brooke, Reinstate Hank, Reverend Horton Heat, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Shooter Jennings, Sturgill Simpson, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, The Goddamn Gallows, Those Poor bastards, Underground country, unknown hinson
About this time every four years the political rhetoric reaches critical mass as TV, radio, and the internet are permeated with political ads, while your personal social network feed is filled with political memes and other such oversimplification of issues we’ve been fighting to resolve for decades. Here are some apolitical, or anti-political songs to help survive the political season.
.357 String Band, Centreville, Chris Knight, Derek Dunn, Hellbound Glory, Lee Bains and the Glory Fires, Lery Virgil, Merle Haggard, Nothing On Me, Rainbow Stew, What's This World Coming To (If It Ain't Coming To An End)
the loss of .357 String Band may go down as underground country’s greatest tragedy. I can think of no other project that was so ripe for becoming a success story of authentic American underground roots. They were brilliant, but accessible at the same time. It is a great sin of American music. They have re-issued their landmark 2008 album “Fire & Hail” on vinyl.
By all accounts, I should hate these dudes, and this album by proxy. t was announced that Babel was the best-selling debut so far in 2012, selling 600,000 copies and outpacing folks like Justin Bieber. Really? Has the “roots” revolution reached such a point that it is the most popular, mainstream thing going in music these days? How am I supposed to be okay with that, and where is this leading?
Lower Broadway in Nashville has a new songstress haunting the streets, and she’s a good one. If you want to know how to put out one badass independent/underground country album in Nashville, you could use One Good Thing as a template. With impeccable country taste and instincts, Sarah assembles 12 original and authentic honky-tonk hard country songs for your listening enjoyment.