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On Monday (4-21), The Outlaw Carnie Bob Wayne will be releasing his latest album called Back To The Camper. It will be his first independent release in the United States after releasing two album with the heavy metal label Century Media, though Bob is still signed with the label’s European counterpart, People Like You. Back to the Camper symbolizes that Bob’s back to the DIY style of music, and the album marks a renewed attention to the story side of his songwriting style. Before a show at Austin, TX’s White Horse honky tonk, I sat down with Bob to talk Back To The Camper and catch up with his other doings.
Tell us about the album. Give us the scoop. What can people expect?
Every record I’ve done so far I’ve been pretty happy with. This one has got a lot more story songs. It’s got a couple of hellraiser-type “yee-haw!” songs. But I get a little bit more into my storytelling side. I spent a couple months at my property in Alabama, and I just sat by the fire with my banjo and guitar. I don’t know, the story songs were just really hitting me.
I got a duet on there with Elizabeth Cook. I actually wrote that song a couple years ago and I’ve been looking for the right girl to sing it, and the voices just haven’t quite been what exactly what I’ve wanted. I’m pretty picky, especially with that song because I really liked it. So one night I was watching Squidbillies, and I heard her singing, and I dropped everything and said, “Who is that?” My buddy was like, “That’s Elizabeth Cook.” I found her on Facebook, I sent her a shitty iPhone recording of the song and was like, “Hey, I heard your voice, I’ve been holding onto this song forever.” She wrote me back, “Hell yeah!” Turns out she just lives down the street from Andy Gibson [the engineer & Hank3 steel player] and she’s really busy. She ended up coming over and nailed it.
Red Simpson. Me a Red put this song together. Recording it with Andy Gibson—Andy knows his country music. Andy knows all things country. Andy was the one who showed me Red Simpson ten years ago. We’ve done a lot of miles listening to him. Now me and Red are really good friends. We talk on the phone all the time. It sounds like classic Red Simpson with a little bit of a darker tone to it that Andy kind of brings with his steel. But the song is positive. It’s called “Dope Train” and it says, “Don’t get on the dope train, don’t get on the devil’s dope train.” It’s all anti-drugs and taking about “trust in the Lord” and all this stuff.
There’s this ballad I wrote about my Great Great Great Aunt. My Great Aunt from Ireland was a famous pirate queen, and I was actually on tour in Ireland and I felt close to her, and I was driving by her castle, and I ended up writing this song for her. I always write about the female element. There’s always a kind of strong, female element: Liza, La Diabla.
Overall I’m super, super happy with how that all turned out. It has a different feel. I’ve had some people bitch about the cursing and whatnot. There is a couple cuss words on here, like on one song “Sam Tucker”. But that’s just because what else rhymes with “Tucker”? You know what I mean (laughing)? It’s a rhyming game. But overall it’s a pretty family friendly record besides those couple words.
So you’re still with People Like You which is over in Europe, but the album is Back To The Camper which is hyperbole because you’re self-releasing it in the States, right?
Yes. Century Media owns People Like You. In Europe, they’ve fucking killed it. They’ve done a really good job. When you join with someone like a record label, it should be a team thing where both sides are helping each other out. I brought the music, and their job was to help me get it out there. And in Europe, they were making phone calls, getting us on big festivals, putting their neck out to push us, and now we’ve got a bunch of big festivals. They really helped us, so I’m really happy with that partnership.
With the USA, it wasn’t that they didn’t try or anything, I just don’t think it was that great of a fit being that they were more metal where the Century Media in Europe had a more punk label. So we’re more punk; we kind of fit into that a little bit. We’re not punk, but we’re a punk country kind of hillbilly, you know. We have that edge, so they got it. Whereas Century Media America with the newer metal type stuff wasn’t anything like what we’re doing. So I gave them one more record in Europe, and I took my rights back to the rest of the world, which I’m happy with because I don’t mind burning CD’s. People don’t go to Wal-Mart to buy our CD’s anyway. We sell our CD’s at shows. For me, it’s better financially. No middle man, just straight from me to you. And Back To The Camper kind of symbolizes that I’m burning now again in the States.
Now you’ve got a place in Alabama. You’re originally from the Pacific Northwest, your recording apparatus is in Nashville, and you decide to hoof it down to Alabama and put your stake there. Why Alabama?
Well you know it’s funny because I have that song “Everything’s Legal In Alabama”, but it has nothing to do with it. Yeah, I ended up in Nashville, and the thing is I’ve been touring, like I had a camper parked out at Shelton’s (Hank3) house for years when I was working for him, and then I had my van out there, kind of living out of my van and campers for years, and then I bought a John Deere motorhome and was rolling around in that. All the while I haven’t paid rent since 2004. Any bit of money I made I was saving up. I always had a vision of a place out in the woods somewhere where I could put all my campers, have my band park their campers where we wouldn’t have to pay rent, we could just live for free out on the land, and tour. Basically I have this vision for Carnie town. My band members and family and friends who want to come out there.
Well I just happened to be on tour and I met this guy in Alabama, we were playing, and him and his wife were talking about this property that they weren’t gonna get that was like marked down from $40,000 to $15,000. We I went out there and looked at it. It was five acres of woods out in the middle of nowhere next to a lake with a house on it. A condemned house, but the power worked. I offered $12,000, they said “yes”. So for $12,000 I bought Carnie Town. And I’ve already started dragging all my cars out there. Right now the John Deere’s out there, my limo, the van, I’ve got campers. So yeah, Carnie Town is born now. It was mainly a price thing. It was just the fact that it was $12,000. My John Deere motorhome was $18,000, so my house and five acres was cheaper.
It’s actually cool, it’s right by Kawliga. Hank Sr. actually had a cabin five minutes from my house in Kawliga, Alabama. You know the famous picture of Hank Sr. in jail, where he’s all skinny and in jail? That jail is five minutes from my house. I actually went to the jail to see it. The town is where Hank Sr. used to hang out and party. It was kind of a good omen for me when I found out.
So you’ve got this new album coming out, and you’ve still got your deal in Europe. Do you feel like it’s all moving in the right direction? Do you feel like you’re growing as an artist?
Yes, definitely. Tonight we had three people that drove here from Mexico City with their 8-year-old son. I said, “So you came here for something else?” and they were like, “No, we came here to see you.” They drove from Mexico City to Austin to see us. So the growth thing, yes, it’s cool that more people show up to shows. But I’m a lifer. I was doing this for years when ten people were showing up every night, and that didn’t stop me. I didn’t care that ten people were at our shows, because ten people got up off their asses. I know what it means to get up and go to a show. People are excited and they like the music. I can’t wait for this new CD to hit because I’m excited to share it with everybody. I’m all about the songs and the stories. I can’t not write songs and play music.
Well I can tell you this. No matter what you were expecting from this album, you’re probably going to be surprised.
I’ve never thought of Joe Buck as one to pay too much attention to the artistry of the recorded format. His discography consists mostly of slapped together CDRs with little psychotic scribbles for cover drawings, all home recorded, many with multiple versions of the same songs. I’m not complaining. They’re cool in their own right, like little pieces of evil folk art that contain more meaning than a mass produced glass-mastered silver disc in a plastic jewel case ever could. But it would be a stretch to say that a lot of refinement went into them. Joe Buck is a live performer.
Then about two years ago he released Piss & Vinegar, a proper studio album produced by Jack Endino (Nirvana’s Bleach) reportedly to be put out with heavy metal label Century Media before that deal went south. It included the prime cuts of Joe Buck’s previous albums done in a proper studio. For some of Buck’s core fans who’d been used to hearing the rough versions for so many years and watching him morph into a one man monster live, Piss & Vinegar felt somewhat tame. But Piss & Vinegar wasn’t for them necessarily, it was to reach folks who’d never heard Joe Buck before, to create a high-quality archive of his songs.
Joe Buck’s song craft has always been under-appreciated. People pick up on the primal experience of his show and many times miss the wisdom in his music. He once told me he could write songs for Taylor Swift (after telling me also that he “gets her”), and with one of his signature songs “Bitter Is The Day”, Joe Buck has given us a glimpse of what he’s capable of.
Who Dat is a completely different direction for Joe Buck, while still being exactly what he’s always done. That’s the root genius of it. Yes, without question this album is a lot more tame, more tame than even Piss & Vinegar. But what this approach does is bring out the roar of quiet anger. In many ways, even though this album features much less distortion and more singing than shouting or screaming, it’s even harder, even more disillusioned and unbalanced as a byproduct of it’s muted approach. Joe Buck’s anger isn’t as obvious, it is seething beneath the surface, boiling and permeating these recordings with an unsettled feeling, like a pressure tank ready to burst.
Just as with all of his albums, Joe Buck plays everything: guitar, drums, and bass. The instrumentation on Who Dat is more fleshed out than on most Joe Buck works, with good separation and engineering in the recording by Twin Oak’s Jason Dietz. Joe Buck plays his leads on an acoustic, again keeping you on that creepy edge from the understated approach. The words are more clear, making the conveyance of Joe Buck’s madness more coherent, while in places his writing leaves the messages a little more veiled.
Joe Buck’s song craft works in a circular pattern, spiraling into a moral about the descent of mankind that some may misunderstand as iniquitous or anti-religious. In truth it is the opposite. It is the Dante approach as apposed to the Gospel approach to pointing out the wayward trajectory of man. The acoustic-only “Jesus Is Dead” may be the best example of this, and one of the best Who Dat songs from an instrumental standpoint. In spots Who Dat is very personal, like the sweet and straightforward “Tied at the Hip” about Joe Buck and his wife. At other times it’s playful in a wicked way, like in the “Tango of Death”.
I don’t want to say Joe Buck has reinvented himself. I’m sure the stage show will be very similar to what we’ve seen from him in the past. And those who are familiar with Joe Buck’s work with Captain Sean from Throwrag may warm up quicker to this more subtle Joe Buck approach, that at times sways towards that Capt. Sean lounge-like feel.
What Joe Buck does with Who Dat is keep his music fresh. So many of his signature songs have been played for so many years with the same exact arrangement because they work so well. Now he has a new crop of excellent songs to work in as core standards, as well as a new approach to older songs if he wishes. This isn’t Joe Buck growing old with his music, it’s Joe illustrating tremendous self-awareness for a now almost 50-year-old performer; to be able to pull back, evaluate, and evolve to something new that at the same time is exactly what he’s always done.
Joe Buck will always be misunderstood by the masses. But when you look at the greater music world, his contributions are stout. To having a significant role in the #1 and #3 albums on SCM’s Greatest Underground Country Albums of All Time, to when you watch the new TV show “Nashville” on ABC and see Layla’s Bluegrass Inn featured—a place that Joe Buck bought back when lower Broadway in Nashville was virtually abandoned and help bring up along with that whole part of town–it’s plain to see that the music world would be a lot more plain if it wasn’t for Joe Buck’s musical madness.
Two guns up.
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Who Dat is only available on MP3 format and at Joe Buck live shows.
I bet when you saw Bob Wayne‘s name in the title of this article, you had some sort of immediate emotional reaction, didn’t you? You either thought, “That foul mouthed punk, I can’t even stand to see his ugly face,” and you blame him for perpetuating a perversion of country music. Or, you saw his name and said “Hell yeah,” remembering the last time you saw him live and how he rocked your face off, or how how one of his deeper, heartfelt songs helped you through a hard time.
Like him or not, Bob Wayne has arrived. One way you can tell this is by the polarization that precedes his name (just check out the comments on his last album review). In music, it’s always better that people have an opinion about you than to be ambivalent or unbeknown to your existence. Usually where there’s sharp, contrasting opinions, there’s success. Take Shooter Jennings and Hank Williams III for example. You won’t find two more polarizing, or more successful figures in underground/independent country music. But unlike Hank3 and Shooter, Bob Wayne has not had help from his given name, nor the burden of unrealistic expectations being a famous namesake can bestow.
Instead his success is a symptom of relentless touring in America and Europe; a tour schedule whose tireless nature rivals any other in music today. And one thing Bob Wayne has that country’s famous sons don’t is fantastic label support. Century Media may be way better known for metal music, but they fit in that sweet spot for present day labels: big enough to be considered a “major” with an expansive network and Rolodex, but small enough to be considered an “independent” with the ability to offer strong, healthy, catered support to each of their artists.
Though the crowds for Bob Wayne are certainly growing domestically, Europe is where he’s made his strongest foothold, like many independent country and roots artists that made the jump from amateur to professional before him. In certain Euro stops, Bob Wayne is pulling 800 capacity crowds in, just to see him, not as a support act. This is likely one of the reasons Century Media decided to put out his last album Till The Wheels Fall Off on their European imprint People Like You, an unusual move for an artist based in the States. Bob has also bought a van and a complete set of backline instruments for his band that he permanently stores in Europe to facilitate his frequent overseas tours and save on expenses.
Instead of worrying about pulling a profit or working some master plan, Bob Wayne simply put his head down and booked his own breakneck tours for years, figuring out how to include European stints in them when he could. He would work construction jobs in his home state of Oregon to get the money to buy European plane tickets for him and the band, tour the country from West to east, fly out to Europe, and then start the whole cycle over again. All of that touring led to a tight live show and a professional attitude on stage from Bob and his talent-packed “Outlaw Carnies”.
Over the years, the Outlaw Carnies have become a proving ground for underground country talent. With a loose arrangement, players are allowed to come and go as they please, but they all must provide stellar musicianship to keep up with Bob and the band’s budding legacy. Joe Buck, Andy Gibson, Donnie Herron, and Dan Infecto are just a few of the names that have contributed to Bob either live or recorded in the past, and then continued on to make bigger names for themselves. The dating duo of fiddler Liz Sloan and bassist Jared McGovern cut their teeth as Carnies, and now play with Jayke Orvis and Filthy Still among others. The entire .357 String Band once did a stint as Bob’s backing band.
The newest edition is Lucy B. Cochran on fiddle. At first glimpse you might mistake her for Liz Sloan who she replaced, but the two female fiddles have very different styles. Lucy goes to the bluegrass shuffle like few fiddlers I’ve seen, and adds a more countrified element to the Carnies. The current Carnies also feature “Elmer” on standup bass, and Ryan Clackner who can serve up some of the hottest leads licks on Telecaster that you can find. Bob’s current lineup is as sharp as any you will find in underground country, and so is Bob’s show…that is of course if Bob Wayne is your thing. If it’s not, then he could resurrect Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys to back him up and it still wouldn’t be enough.
It’s the swear-filled lyrics and racy themes in many of his songs that will always keep Bob at odds with many country faithful, and understandably so. They will also unfortunately keep those same people from enjoying many of his deeper songs that don’t feature racy topics or bad language.
The cold, hard fact is many favorite underground country bands may never be able to make the leap from being amateur, underpaid musicians, to professionals making a reasonable, living wage, despite the quality of their music or their desire or ability. But Bob Wayne has, and with continued label support, creative freedom, a stellar backing band, and a bottomless pit of energy and enthusiasm for touring, he also seems to have plenty of upside potential.
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Bob Wayne is playing the Muddy Roots Festival on Friday 8/31 at 11 PM on Stage 2.
Sporting a squared off pompadour, work shirt, bushy beard, and a mess of tattoos, American Idol introduced Jason “Wolf” Hamlin as one of this year’s contestants on the episode that aired Sunday night. This mechanic-by-trade came in with his “guit-fiddle” (guitar) and sang a “CCR” song (which the well-versed would recognize as Leadbelly’s “Midnight Special”), and then when Steven Tyler asked him to sing another, he sang Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”.
And then the emails started coming, and the chatter raised on various social networking channels Saving Country Music patrols seemed positive for “Wolf” with many saying, “Well hell, if he’s gonna be on there, I may actually watch this year!”
…and now you know why he was featured.
And “Wolf” was not only featured on an audition, he was significantly highlighted on the episode. They sent a production crew to his job as a golf course mechanic, got an in-depth interview with him, etc. I’m assuming all of this stuff happened after his audition. I mean, they wouldn’t go though all that trouble pre-audition unless they already determined he would be a contestant or would be featured, would they?
…and now you know a little more of what’s going on here.
Look, the blue-collar “roots” demographic, though seemingly small because it is traditionally ignored by the mainstream, is in many ways blowing up as a cultural force. American Idol did not “pick” Jason Hamlin, they “chose” him, and specifically chose to make him a significant focus of their episode.
And American Idol isn’t the only one all-of-a-sudden paying attention to the independent roots music world. The shift of the punk culture into roots music is a very real, culturally-significant phenomenon that the greater world is taking notice of. And they are courting the roots fan for the passion and loyalty that are recognized as top attributes of their behavior.
Century Media, a traditionally heavy metal label recently started a roots division for artists like Joe Buck and Bob Wayne. Victory Records, who some will give credit for “killing” punk music, has announced a roots project with so far an unknown specificity. And there’s a pretty solid rumor out there that Kevin Lyman of The Warped Tour and the Country Throwdown Tour is putting plans together for a “roots” version of the annual touring festival, possibly as early as this year. We’ll see.
As for Jason “Wolf” Hamlin, he could be a great thing, or he could be a horrible thing. We don’t know the guy, and we shouldn’t pretend we do, and we should understand he’s just a mechanic at a golf course who likes Johnny Cash. Or is he? And sure, he could be a shill for FOX producers hoping to bring the burgeoning masses of roots fans into the fold. Or, he could be the country music Messiah that I’ve been dreaming of (and Eric Church mocks me for). Or he could dive out in the first few weeks and all this consternation is for naught, unless in the process he actually exposes some kids to some real music they would otherwise not be.
But be wary friends and neighbors. If you reacted positively to seeing Jason “Wolf” Hamlin on American Idol and said “Well hell, I kind of like this guy. I may actually watch this stupid show this year!” just understand that is exactly what the folks in Hollywood wanted you to say.
Here is Wolf performing an original song.
Whenever the name Joe Buck comes up, invariably there will be someone spouting off about how he is not country. Sonically, this is certainly true–he is punk. Lyrically and historically, he might be more country than any other artist you can name. I didn’t think about it until I sat down to write this review, but Joe Buck is critically responsible for two of the top three albums in my Top Ten Albums of the Decade list. He played every single note on Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers Cockadoodledon’t (#3), and on Hank III’s Straight to Hell (#1) he played all the bass and help engineer and produce it. Oh, and it was also recorded in his house.
The uniqueness of Joe Buck is that never has such unchecked anger and vulgarity been accompanied by such Stoic wisdom, coming from the most mild mannered person you’d ever meet. Pissed-offedness is rarely hand in hand with introspection, self-repudiation, and a calm clairvoyance for the impending follies of man. But Joe Buck possesses this all, and at the heart is an outrage over the South’s decaying culture built into a wise, steadfast rage.
For those that have a pile of Joe Buck’s self- recorded/produced/distributed CD’s with their weird little drawings on the front and makeshift packaging, you might not see the point of buying the same songs again, or in some cases, a third time. But as Joe Buck put it:
I have to have a really great representation of this stuff because I’m really proud of these songs. It’s just they didn’t get their due and it’s one of those things where it’s like I can’t move on until I get this like I need to.
And that is what he has done with Piss & Vinegar. With legendary producer Jack Endino, he has created a uncompromised archive of his most popular songs, though I’d stop short of smack talking his previous releases. There is something endearing about their imperfections and homespun nature, but Piss & Vinegar may be the more accurate representation of the music. Owners of his previous material might hear these songs as a little to polished, just like if someone heard this album first and then went to the older stuff, the self-produced material would sound too rough.
There are some different hitches and minor lyric changes in the songs here and there, but probably the biggest difference is that Joe’s voice and lyrics are much more articulate and calculated. Yes, sometimes this is in lieu of the growling and anger, but on the flip side the lyrics are also more understandable, making them more potent. Yeah, I kind of miss his dog barking at the end of “Dig A Hole” but it’s also good to finally know the correct rapid-fire verses to “Devil Is On His Way.”
Since this isn’t packed with new material, it is a little hard to find the inspiration to shower this album with wordy praise, but it it is worthy of praise nonetheless. Initially it was going to be distributed worldwide through Century Media where it would reach new Joe Buck recruits, but with Joe Buck’s strong roots network and tireless tour schedule, it almost doesn’t matter. He leaves each town with a few new apostles behind, and his legacy grows.
Two guns up!
As much as we’ve been ballyhooing what a big year 2010 was for great music from independent and up-and-coming artists we love to champion around here, January 2011 might be a bigger month than any one 2010 can boast about. And it is especially big for the female artists, and artists taking a step up from burning CD’s out of the back of their car to more legitimate and professional releases.
Oh yeah baby! Can’t wait for this one. When Jack White teemed up with Loretta Lynn for Van Lear Rose, the result was one of Saving Country Music’s Albums of the Decade. Now Jack takes on the Queen of Rockabilly and I am frothing with anticipation of what that concoction will brew. They have already released a couple of tracks, “You Know I’m No Good” (see video below) and “Shakin’ All Over” and from what I’m hearing Wanda has still got it, and so does Jack! This is gonna be a big one folks!
This is Bob’s first serious release through the traditionally-metal label Century Media. For fans of his from the past, it includes much more slick versions of his past great songs, with a few new ones as well. Works as a great primer of his music if you are just learning about him, or a great addition to your collection if you have all three of his independent releases. Fun, rowdy music to listen to, with glimpses at masterful songwriting thrown in there too.
Right no this is available for pre-order through Century FOR ONLY $7.00 !!!
You can also listen to 4 songs from the album on his Facebook Band Page, of course, if you have Facebook, or are friends with him, or who knows what other provisos Facebook has put into place to preclude artists from promoting themselves.
Rachel Brooke – Down in the Barnyard – late Jan.
From one of my favorite female independent artists, this is her much-anticipated release that she has been working on for a long time to make sure it is “right.” Rachel’s work on albums like A Bitter Harvest have made many huger for that one seminal release from her, and by all accounts, this will be the one. She has been working very hard on it and has been uncompromising, while taking some risks as well. “I have been recording it at home, and have been playing just about all the instruments on it.”
No exact date on this yet, but as soon as one’s available, you’ll hear about it here. Also keep your eyes peeled for some Midwest tour dates with Rachel and Those Poor Bastards in March.
Folks who already ordered this album online, word is you should be expecting it very shortly. This is Joe’s first professionally-done CD, working with the legendary Jack Endino. It’s very similar to the Bob Wayne release, where it has a lot of Joe Buck’s classics redone better, with a few new ones mixed in. Piss & Vinegar was going to be released through Century Media as well before things fell through.
As explained when Saving Country Music released the EPK for this album, it will be available only in limited quantities online. The main distribution outlet is the Joe Buck show, which is not as daunting as it sounds due to Joe’s incessant touring schedule.
Little Lisa Dixie – late Jan.
Another one that is almost done with no definite date at the moment, but keep your eyes peeled. “I can’t wait for y’all to hear it! I’m so lucky for the friends and talented musicians who have lent their time and talent to help me out. I am forever grateful for y’all”
You can listen to four of the tracks on littlelisadixie.com, “Devil’s Gate” “Dance With The Devil” “Woke Up Broke” and “Stoned Again.” Such a sweet, innocent girl that Little Lisa is!
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Wanda Jackson & Jack White:
A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Bob Wayne before his gig at Austin’s Hole in the Wall to discuss a few things, including the slight delay in the release of his new album Outlaw Carnie and his relationship with the traditionally heavy metal label Century Media, as well as the new band lineup, and how he lets Andy Gibson beat him at video games.
I’ve transcribed the meat of the interview, but you can also listen to the full audio below, recorded in the back of his 80′s era Cadillac limo with steer horns on the front, parked on a busy Austin street the day before Halloween while Bob single handedly consumed a large cheese pizza. You can also listen to an interview I did with his new fiddle player Liz Sloan.
Bob Wayne: This is what’s happening right now with me and the label. They have two different plans with me. In Europe it’s here’s this songwriter guy who lives in his limousine driving down the highway, selling the shit out of the back of his car for five years, you know, serious musician. Whereas American its like woo hoo! Party, chicks, limos, drinks, drugs! I write songs for a show. In a show I can’t just nail them with songs like “Blood to Dust” the whole time because you’ll lose … people are getting drunk. I’m there to put on a show so I want to make you laugh, I want to make you think about some shit for a minute, I’m gonna take your mind off everything, then I’m gonna break it down for you. If you lure them in with that stuff then you can put a serious song in there that’s like “Whoa.”
Triggerman: Tell me about the new album. It was supposed to be out in January, then it was October 25th, and now all of a sudden it’s January again.
Bob Wayne: At first they told me it was coming out in October, before I ever announced anything. Then they told me “Look Bob we have three other bands coming out in October that are really big. We don’t want to have your album … they want to do a good job on my record because this is new for them. The didn’t want my CD to be back burner. They want it to be a focus and really have a chance. So then they decided to move it to February. Also there was some problems with the bar code. When you rang up my record it came up as some old metal band from the 80′s.
Triggerman: Country is sort of the new metal, and bluegrass is kind of the new punk in a lot of ways, and I think it’s really proactive and smart for Century to be trying to pursue this avenue.
Bob Wayne: They’re going to see how my record goes I think, and if it does real good, they’ll be doing more.
Triggerman: So the new band. Or I guess you’ve always got a new band.
Bob Wayne: Not by choice, for the record. Though sometimes I do like to do what I did with the .357 String Band, or with Zeke backing me up or people from Hank III’s band. That stuff’s fun to do. I’d like to have a core group and I did for a while: Pat, Dan (Infecto), Uncle Buck. We rode that for a good couple years. Thing is I have an unhealthy obsession, I can’t stop touring. And people have their lives, you know. People have their own passions and dreams and I totally understand that, and I totally knew that going into this, and that’s why when I was thinking about band names I just went with Bob Wayne, because I knew how hard I wanted to hit it, and I didn’t want to have to be in a position where I was explaining to people why this person wasn’t in the band anymore.
Triggerman: So you can have a superstar band, because you don’t have to commit, and they don’t have to commit.
Bob Wayne: Yeah. Billy Cook is leaving and I’m gonna have Andy Gibson whose like the most amazing musician I know, so.
Triggerman: Liz Sloan is the new fiddle girl that you’re playing with. How did that come about?
Bob Wayne: She emailed me on Facebook. At the time I still had Buck, and I’m actually pretty loyal to people. It’s not me making the decisions, like you’re in you’re out this game. Buck decided he wasn’t going to show up for a few shows, so Liz stepped up and took that slot for those gigs and now she’s there. And she likes it, and she’s really good and she’s meshing really well. And she’s a total road dog, which means a lot.
Triggerman: So you mentioned Andy Gibson. He recorded your new album.
Bob Wayne: He recorded all of my albums, and played half the instruments.
Triggerman: How is it working with him?
Bob Wayne: We play a lot of Medal of Honor, on our breaks. And I’ll let him beat me. And then he feels good about himself. And then he’s like “It’s OK Bob, you can’t win them all. Let’s do that banjo track again.” You know I build up his self-esteem by making him think he’s really good at that game, but really I can slay him in like 5 seconds.
When I went to see Joe Buck a couple of weeks ago in Denton, TX, he was billed as “Hank III’s Bass Player.” Yeah, I know; people need a context to understand why a name on a calendar is something to pay attention to, but Joe Buck is so much more. To the average human with no context to put Joe Buck in, I’m sure he comes across a some degenerate punk musician to be scoffed at. To people who know his music, there is no peer to the amount of energy and passion he brings, and his songwriting reveals great wisdom once you get past the rawness of the presentation.
In my music world, Joe Buck is elevated even one more notch. He is the top elder of underground country punk. No other living musician can be slotted above him in that pyramid. Underground country punk can be traced back a few ways, but the main one leads to lower Broadway in Nashville, in the early 90′s. At that point The Ryman was shuttered and empty, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge had bums living in it, and the few blighted honky tonks were hidden between dirty bookstores. Now it is completely revitalized, and maybe over-revitalized to the point where it is cartoonish, the “Disney” version of Nashville according to some, including Joe Buck.
The turnaround story for downtown Nashville doesn’t involve acts of government. Lower Broadway was revitalized by music, and specifically, the music that was the precursor to the music we listen to, and talk about on this site. Mainstream fans will sometimes put down this music as “obscure” or “irrelevant.” Toby Keith and Tim McGraw didn’t revitalize the most historic part of Nashville. It was a bunch of punk kids from all around the country, who moved to lower Broadway to walk the same streets Hank Williams walked. At the time there was a saying: “The older you sound, the more punk you’re being.”
Joe Buck started as a street performer, then started playing Robert’s Western World, which bills on its sign “Home of BR549.” Then Robert opened “The Bluegrass Inn” next door, later giving it to Joe and his then partner Layla, and Joe Buck was billed the “BR549 of the Bluegrass Inn.” Those two venues shot life into lower Broadway. Next thing you know more venues opened up. They reopened Tootsie’s and The Ryman. Then they’re building hockey stadiums and convention centers. The music saved downtown Nashville. Only a few years removed, the city has already forgotten that.
But I haven’t. Joe Buck and a few others deserve keys to the city for their contribution. I’ve been working on putting a chronology together of the lower Broadway rebirth, doing interviews with the different artists involved. Joe Buck is always reluctant to talk positively about it. He’s always looking forward, and as he puts bluntly, all of that is dead. Country is dead. Lower Broadway is dead; exploited and nothing like it used to be.
I got him to talk a little about it though, and other things, like his falling out with Century Media, how he’s still working with Jack Endino, life on the road, the driving habits of America. Below you’ll find the newsworthy items of the interview transcribed, but for the true music nerds, you can listen to the rest below, taped in Joe Buck’s new Sprinter motorhome. (AC and generator supplied the humming ambiance).
A lot of people don’t classify Joe Buck as country. I think he is more country than country; that he is what country might have been if its evolution had not been cut off by corporate interests. When I saw him this last time, he started his set with three acoustic straightforward country covers, and played a few more before the end.
I didn’t do any production on this interview like my last Joe Buck interview, this is just the raw feed.
Triggerman: Last time I talked to you, we kinda broke the news that you had been signed to Century Media, and you were going to be working with Jack Endino.
Joe Buck: I was going to be. I recorded with Jack, that’s my new record. They got real flaky. There was money issues. I don’t think they can do anything for me. Record labels don’t even exist anymore hardly. I mean its like what’s the point? Take the music, it’s free. The minute you put something out, it’s free, you can get it. So they got no way to capitalize on it.
Triggerman: So you got an EP, and you recorded some more stuff after, you went back up to Seattle, right?
Joe Buck: Right. So there’s a full length, and there’s like my little EP that I made 500 of. I’ve got a few of those left. I made just what I needed to get the record out there. I was just going to give it away and people told me I was stupid. My people buy all this shit anyway when they come to the shows, even though they’ve already got it.
Triggerman: That’s the difference between the average spoon-fed fan and the people who are music people. There’s all this debate that the reason the music industry is going down the tubes is because everyone is stealing music, and that’s probably part of the problem. But the other part of the problem is their products sucks and that’s why people want to steal it. But if I appreciate something, I’m gonna go and give him money, even if I stole it off the internet two months ago, I’m gonna buy the physical product just so Joe Buck can get down the road.
Joe Buck: I tour almost more than anybody. Collectively I play for as many people as big bands, because I do 5 times as many shows. That to the industry, a lifetime of work has done me dick because they have not a clue whats fucking going on. Who fucking cares, why do I give a fuck if those motherfuckers validate me? The people do it every night.
Triggerman: You said to me when you signed with Century Media, you said that the guy that you talked to said, “You don’t need us, we need you.”
Joe Buck: He did. And that was my buddy. And he doesn’t work for Century Media now. That’s where things went weird.
Triggerman: I’ve been trying to put together some sort of chronology for the revitalization of lower Broadway in Nashville. I’ve talked to a few other people, I never think I appreciated the scope of what happened in the mid 90′s, with you and BR549. How did you get The Bluegrass Inn?
Joe Buck: Me & Layla were together. We lived with Robert, who had Robert’s Western World. Because I played all those Stanley Brothers songs (at Roberts), Toby (the owner of the building that Robert’s and The Bluegrass Inn) bought the name of The Bluegrass Inn which had been around the corner, the name had been around forever but they bought that name, and opened The Bluegrass Inn, with the star attraction Joe Buck. I was supposed to be the BR549 of that club. About a year later, Robert wanted to go to California, and we got the bar. Rented it, and it’s still rented.
Triggerman: Who’d you start booking there?
Joe Buck: Anybody who didn’t suck and played country music. It was a place to go cut your teeth, and play country music. It doesn’t exist like that any more dude. I knew it was the last bastion….
Another gem from the interview:
Joe Buck: They’re (some country bands) worse than Nashville, going “I’M COUNTRY! I’M COUNTRY!” You don’t need to tell anyone that if you’re country. I don’t believe in what people are doing, they’re trying to catch on to what Shelton was doing. Completely misguided, now you got a bunch of people putting their accent on, and its like, I find that more offensive than Toby Keith. At least he’s brazen about what he’s doing. That’s why all of my records are straight ahead. It’s like “there’s lots of bluegrass going around.” I’m like there’s no bluegrass. Fuckin’ hipsters, you know. “We’ll play banjo, except we won’t really learn how to play, we’ll just hold them. Oh man, the olden days.” It’s 2010, shit is so fucked up, you should have 20 stacks of Marshalls trying to destroy everything in your path.
Triggerman: So you’re not a fan of Old Crow Medicine Show?
Joe Buck: I was about 10 or 15 years ago when they first came to town. Might as well be a boy band now.
Last October, I stepped onto Joe Buck’s legendary motorhome for an interview, and during our conversation he dropped the bomb that he’d signed to Century Media and was going to be working on a record with legendary producer Jack Endino.
This was big news, because Joe Buck was about the last person I envisioned signing to a record label. The only person more unlikely was Bob Wayne. In the first song on his first album, Bob says “As far as selling out goes I ain’t even looking for a deal.”
Weather he was looking for it or not, a deal found him, and as announced first on Outlaw Radio Chicago Episode 100, it was with Century Media as well. Since that news it looks like Joe Buck will NOT be moving forward with Century, though he is still going forward with the Jack Endino project. But Bob Wayne rolls on.
Last week Century sent out a press release and released a couple of videos of Bob being backed by the .357 String Band (see below). And it doesn’t end there. He’s also announced a tour with Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, and he’s now working with Coffin Case. There’s rumors of movie projects and video shorts, and word is Wayne Hancock makes an appearance on the new album Outlaw Carnie due out October 26th. Our little Bob Wayne is all growns up, and things are clicking for him finally.
If there’s a hitch, it’s that some Century Media faithful are crying foul. Century is a pure heavy metal label, and has been for years. One reason I’m hearing that the Joe Buck deal didn’t go down is that Century was planning to open a new division or imprint, and Joe Buck was part of that plan until Century decided not to go in that direction. Joe Buck and Bob Wayne together maybe on a sub-label would have seemed more plausible. But to the casual Century fan, I can see how this signing and media push could come out of left field. Think of how insurgent country fans would feel if Bloodshot started signing metal bands.
As I’ve been saying for years, Bob Wayne is one of the best pure songwriters in country today. He’s spent years paying his dues touring tirelessly for little money. If people want to hate his music simply because it’s not metal, that’s their loss. And for the record, Bob Wayne was playing metal in the metal band Stickman when some of these whiners were still shitting their Pampers.
Century has decided to go in this direction because the fandom of punk and metal music is shifting to roots based music. Century doesn’t want to be left in the cold. Having said that, there’s two sides to Bob Wayne, and the promotion videos only show one, leaving out the Cash-esque superlative songwriter. Doesn’t help that the audio quality is sub-par as well. Still, if you’ve been a Bob Wayne fan like me, head over to YouTube and let Bob, Century, and the close-minded metal nerds know what YOU think about the Devil’s Son.
BOB WAYNE VIDEO #1
BOB WAYNE VIDEO #2
Alright so recently we’ve had a ton of new concert dates released, as well as albums that people have been wondering when they will go digital, go digital, as well as other interesting album news and tidbits. So in no sexy delivery, her’s all the info:
ALL THREE of Lucky Tubb’s great albums have finally been released digitally by Lone Star Music, including his often forgotten first offering Generations. You can download the albums and listen to previews of every song by CLICKING HERE.
Also Jayke Orvis’s new album It’s All Been Said was just made available for download. So those of you having Farmageddon paypal problems can try that route. Or you can continue to email me incessantly about a problem I have no control over, over and over again and see if that works. (Read my review of the album HERE.)
And speaking of The Shack Shakers (smmoother segway), it has just been announced they will be touring with Bob Wayne come spooky Rocktober, as Wayne supports his new album entitled Outlaw Carnie due out 10/26 from Century Media. You can find those and ALL relevant Saving Country Music dates at savingcountrymusic.com/calendar.
Hank III has added a few new dates as well.
OK I guess that’s it for now. As you were.
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- Scotty J on Equal Time – The Best in Mainstream Country Music in 2014
- Trigger on Equal Time – The Best in Mainstream Country Music in 2014
- Trigger on Equal Time – The Best in Mainstream Country Music in 2014
- hoptowntiger94 on Equal Time – The Best in Mainstream Country Music in 2014
- Scotty J on Equal Time – The Best in Mainstream Country Music in 2014