Browsing articles tagged with " Husky Burnette"
Sep
28

Sweet GA Brown Proves He’s A ‘Wordsmith’ in New Album

September 28, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  10 Comments
sweet-ga-brown-wordsmithWell I’m the man who turned Hank on to heroin.
I’m the man who broke Wahoo’s leg.
Well I’m the man who taught John Denver how to fly a plane.
And I sold shotgun shells to Kurt Cobain.

When this is the opening stanza to the opening song of an album, you may be safe to assume that you’re in store for a rambunctious and potentially lewd exploration of the human id in all of its glorious misbehaving malcontentedness. And in the case of Sweet GA Brown’s new album Wordsmith you would be right, at least partially. But you would be wrong to assume that this is all this self-described wordsmith has to offer in these 13 songs, and be surprised that amidst the salty language and brashness is one of the best-written albums so far this year, and one which is embedded with the virtues of simple wisdom, stretching all the way to a sincere spirituality that is as fulfilling as it is refreshing.

Though he may be a stranger to your ears, Sweet GA Brown has been slaving away at writing songs for years, and has released five complete albums and an EP since striking out as a solo artist in 2009. Aiding him in this 2014 effort is renown blues guitar player Husky Burnette and Dave “Burma Shave” Dowda on drums, but first and foremost this is a songwriter’s album that focuses on Brown’s words and melodies as he saws away on his acoustic guitar while whoever else happens to be around plays catch up. This is not a slick album by any stretch, but just like Dylan back in the day it really doesn’t matter. The audience is tasked to listen with their heart, and whatever imperfections may persist can be taken as character.

Sweet GA Brown is the real deal when it comes to songwriters—sweating under a blue collar all day to earn the right to sing in swill joints at night. His music emanates from the small town of Ringgold, GA just outside of Chattanooga; that’s the Georgia-Tennessee-Bama region that has seen the rise to other songwriters who like to cut their hard-hitting realism with humor like Roger Alan Wade.

sweet-ga-brownThere’s a lot of Bob Dylan in Brown’s writing in the way he sometimes ambles and makes you think he’s going to lose his train of thought or not be able to pull off the next rhyme, only to prime you for a lyrical sucker punch whose welt remains well after the song is over. There is some Chris Knight in him in the respect of just being a simple guy living a simple life, and the simplicity in how his stories deliver their moral is what sets him apart. And Sweet GA Brown’s spirituality seems to underwrite everything he does, even when on the surface it may not seem as such, like how the opening stanza articulated above is really about how our demons are our undoing, and at every turn life is there to serve them to us on a silver platter.

With his Amish-style beard and a baseball cap bent over his eyes so you can barely see them, Sweet GA Brown can pull of a song like the uncensored “Wordsmith,” saying, “Some do it for the fame, some doing it for the riches, I’m just a motherfucking wordsmith … bitches. Well we all live in a yellow submarine, someone’s gotta clue me in on what the hell that means. ‘Cause I gotta get up in the morning and go to work.” Then with the very next song called “Cookie of Gold,” he comes across as brilliant and wise as an Asian proverb, only relayed in the endearing colloquial language of the American South.

As Wordsmith carries on, Sweet GA Brown’s spirituality is revealed when he sings a very humble and understated version of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” which then dovetails into one of the album’s best songs, “Don’t Curse God.” The way in which Brown first endears himself to you through poetry and humor allows him to delve into non-secular material without making you feel like you’re being preached to. This allows the message to become the most important thing to take away for the song as opposed to the vessel, making the songs inviting for both religious and non-religious listeners. And just to make sure this album doesn’t turn too serious, it concludes with a cover of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” backed by the Pine Box Boys.

Sweet GA Brown and Wordsmith are a pleasant surprise and shouldn’t be frowned upon because of somewhat crude production, potty mouth language, and religious leanings. Within this music is the message of living life with a grin on your face and kindness in your heart, and no matter what your stripes, that’s a message that can resonate with all of us.

1 3/4 of 2 Guns Up.

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Purchase Wordsmith on BandCamp

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Nov
29

JB Beverley Talks “Stripped to the Root” & More

November 29, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  12 Comments

jb-beverleyIt’s been nearly 5 years since songwriter, performing artist, and pioneer of underground country J.B. Beverley released his last album with the country band The Wayward Drifters, and now he’s finally back with a new record, but it’s not with The Wayward Drifters, or exclusively a country project. Instead it’s a very introspective and conceptualized work that touches on many sonic shades referring to Beverly’s wide musical palette that he’s explored with various projects he has been a part of over the years.

Since Stripped to the Root and some of its songs might lend to a little curiosity or downright confusion, we decided to place a call to J.B. to get his take on what people can expect from Stripped to the Root. The entirety of the 20-minute interview can be heard below, and the meat of the interview is transcribed below that.

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Purchase Stripped to the Root from Rusty Knuckles

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There’s been some big news here lately. A good Outlaw country artist named Wayne Mills has passed away. Did you know Wayne very well, and if so what did his music mean to you?

I didn’t know Wayne very well in the big scheme of things, as far as for a long time. The joke we made when we were hanging out in Altamont [at the Outlaw and Legends tribute concert] was that we knew of each other a lot longer than we’ve known each other. But he impacted my life in a great way, both personally and musically. An amazing, from the heart and from the gut songwriter, very pure, very true to his personality and cultural roots. And as a man, he’s was as stand up of a guy as I’ve been around since I can remember. He was a really remarkable person that was taken out of this world too early, that’s for sure.

stripped-to-the-root-jb-beverleyYou’ve said about your new album Stripped to the Root that it’s not a country record; that there’s some country stuff included, but it’s not a Wayward Drifters record which is your country band. Explain to folks what the idea and inspiration is behind the album, and what they can expect.

The album was sort of a happy accident. It wasn’t something that I planned to do. I had the same band in the Wayward Drifters for a long time, and Johnny [Lawless] took a temporary retirement from the road, Dan Mazer my banjo player had moved to the West Coast, so for the first time in a decade I found myself without a band and some time to kill. And I was going through some really tumultuous personal stuff. My long-term girlfriend of several years and I had split up, a couple of my friends had passed away, my dad had taken ill, and I left Virginia and moved to North Carolina. But through all of this, what became Stripped to the Root basically was a collection of songs both that I had written, or either heroes or friends in some capacity had written that were helping me get through that time.

The best way to put it is that it’s not so much a record, or if it is a record, it’s a concept record. And to look beyond that, a good friend of mine named Cameron Romero who’s a filmmaker said it best, he said, “This is less an album in a conventional sense, and more a soundtrack to the last three years of your life, which is very bold and very naked.” There’s a certain vulnerability to this record. Every song is very personal. This album was very cathartic for me. It was something that I had to do, and something I don’t think I could ever do twice.

What made you decide to release Stripped to the Root through the Rusty Knuckles label?

I have a lot of love and respect for the folks at Farmageddon, but it wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to. I really wanted the album to come out, and the Rusty Knuckles folks offered me finishing funds and a means of really promoting the album and getting it properly distributed, and really just wanted to see it happen as bad as I did. At the time I’m sitting here with medical bills and legal bills, plus my fans have gone since 2009 without a Wayward Drifters record. I had to do something. I couldn’t wait another six months or a year. I really had to move on it. And so it really came down to just having to get it out, and doing what was best for the record and for the fans.

jb-beverley-003You say these songs are really personal to you, so let’s talk about a couple of them. The first one “Disappear On Down The Line” has been out there for a little while. It’s a song that has spoken to a lot of people. What was the inspiration behind that song?

That song, and the song “Stripped to the Root,” I kind of call them sister songs in a way. They were both written on the same night. And they were the two songs that led to my concept behind the record. So I can thank both of those songs for being the springboard. The actual story behind “Disappear On Down The Line” is pretty much transliterated through the lyrics. I was in my home, totally isolated and alone, my woman had left, I’d buried my friends, and all the proverbial voices of doubt and chaos, and all this negative stuff was fueling my mind at the time. I use the parable that the demons were dragging me down. Granted, there weren’t literally ghouls in the room tugging me through the floorboards, but as far as the emotional, spiritual, and mental direst and in some instances torment I was under, it was very real.

“Disappear On Down The Line” and “Stripped to the Root,” both those songs, I wrote those songs to avoid picking up my pistol and doing something real stupid. There’s no real other way to put it. I’ve never been a suicidal type, I’ve never tried it, I’ve never threatened it, I’ve never really entertained the idea. But at that point in my life, I was so down and out, I did find myself sitting there staring at my pistol. And the instant that I felt that way, I knew I had to get it out of my system or I was gonna die. So I penned those songs in an effort to get through that night and keep from doing something stupid. And the beautiful part is that I’ve been able to treat the execution of this record as a catharsis, as in the sense that you have all these negative feelings and all this stuff weighing on your ticker and spirit, and if you’re able somehow to leave it in the art work, leave it in the song, then it no longer haunts you.

There’s another song “All The Little Devils” co-written by Ronnie Hymes…

Yeah, Ronnie is singing on it as well. I was working on that song, and Ronnie had just come by my studio to visit, and he made a couple of lyrical suggestions. And after his second or third suggestion that I actually liked better than what I had written, I just said, “Okay man, I’m going to use your words and you officially co-authored this song with me. So it kind of came about impromptu. It was really organic.

And what’s the message you’re trying to convey with “All The Little Devils”?

I’ve seen a transition in music in recent years. I’ll give you an example. I loved what Hank3 did with Straight to Hell. I felt in a very real way it was a concept record with a very honest depiction of where his heart was at the time. But what I saw in the aftermath of the popularity of that record has been a wide variety of bands that are basically trying to cash in on the whole “drinking, drugs, Satan, let’s raise hell.” There’s a time and place for all that. I like to have a good time. I’ve fucked up many things in my life. I’ve not always been a great person. But at the same time, I don’t understand why a lot of these people feel the need to celebrate being a degenerate, to celebrate having no honor. I just don’t get it.

Like I say in the song, I’m not saying I’m any better. I’ve made many of those same mistakes. The difference is I learned over the years, and I no longer celebrate it. It ain’t me trying to force feed my politics or spiritual beliefs on anybody. I’m not trying to put anybody down. I’m all for people trying to reflect their feelings, and their sentiments, and their dreams however they choose to. But the problem is that there’s got to be more to it. You can’t have all Saturday night without Sunday morning. You’ve got to have some inner reflection. You’ve got to have that honest look in the mirror and say, “Am I choosing to be a decent person, or am I choosing to serve that lower order? Am I choosing to corrupt and corrode?”

You’re also a renegade studio owner now. What are some of the projects you have done, or may have coming up with Rebel Roots Studio?

The first thing I ever did was the last Wayward Drifters album Watch America Roll By in 2009. I did Jayke Orvis’s first record It’s All Been Said, and I did Owen Mays’ first record. Matt Kellie and the Idle Americans. Husky Burnette’s album I engineered, produced, and played bass on. Carolina Still’s album. Man, there’s been a bunch. Me and Buck (Thrailkill) have been staying pretty busy since I’ve been down here. It was sort of a default thing. I had to reconfigure my lineup, I had to take care of some family stuff, I couldn’t tour like the way I had been, so I figured the logical thing was if I can’t do what I’ve been doing for the next year or so, at least not full time, and there’s no work to be had here, you might as well use one of your other skills. And I had been doing recording before I moved to North Carolina, but Buck and I stepped up the workload once I got here because I wasn’t touring as much. So I sort of defaulted into it.

Nov
3

The Continuing Legacy of Leroy Virgil’s Guitar

November 3, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  6 Comments
leroy-virgil-2

Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory

The following story is a guest post by Mike Fiedler, proprietor of the Shore Road Tavern in northeast Philadelphia.

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Back in October of 2012, Leroy Virgil and the boys from Hellbound Glory flew into New York City for a handful of East Coast shows including one at The Shore Road Tavern. We run the place like a true roadhouse by maintaining a third floor apartment above the bar, which is reserved strictly for the touring musicians that play our venue. It has become a welcome stop on the road as it allows musicians a chance to relax after their set, hang out with the crowd, or chill in the apartment, and to not have to worry about loading out until the next day. This was to be our third time hosting the ‘scumbags’ and, needless to say, we were really looking forward to their company as always. But this trip held a special purpose for Leroy.

Jimmy Lloyd, host of NBC’s The Jimmy Lloyd Songwriter Showcase, had chosen Leroy Virgil, along with singer songwriter Sean Walsh, to participate in the inaugural episode of his “Live Songwriter-in-the-Round Series” at Hill Country BBQ, located near 26th and Broadway in New York City. The event was being taped by NBC Digital Networks for a future broadcast, and immediately after the hour long taping, Hellbound Glory was to play a full-band set.

Leroy invited us to come up for the Thursday night show. Since it was going to be such a big night for the band, and we live a very convenient 90 miles from Manhattan, we didn’t hesitate to say yes. Plus we had a large case of Hellbound Glory shirts that were shipped to the bar, in advance of their upcoming Philly show that Saturday, so I figured they’d come in handy.

The “Songwriter Showcase” followed a format that saw each songwriter perform one of their songs, one after another, followed by a discussion about the meaning of the song and how it evolved. Throughout the evening, Leroy was the clear standout.

After Hellbound Glory finished playing at Hill Country, the guys opted to ride back to Philly with us that night instead of taking a train the next day, but they had a 1am show to do somewhere in the East Village first. We started to load their gear into our SUV, and as Leroy was putting his guitar case in the back, he muttered “I’m tired of dragging this thing around” “I’m gonna’ leave it in Philly”. “Yeah, yeah, right Leroy”, I said. With a camera crew in tow, that had apparently been following Leroy around New York City all day, we squeezed in to a few vehicles and set out for the East Village.

After a late show, and an uneventful ride back to Philly, we pulled up to the bar and started to unload the truck. As Leroy pulled his guitar case out of the back, he reiterated, “I am, I’m leaving this thing here, I’m tired of dragging this thing around”. “Yeah, yeah, right Leroy”, I said. We dropped them off at the apartment and went home to crash. We returned to the bar later that afternoon because, as willing as they were to rely on Amtrak for this handful of shows, they were equally willing to accept the offer of my truck to run down to DC for a show that night. As they loaded up the truck, Leroy again repeated how he was leaving his guitar “here at the apartment in Philly”.

By now, knowing how mischievous Leroy can be, and how much he loves fucking with people, I am pretty much dismissing him outright as ‘Leroy just being Leroy’.

leroy-virgil-guitarThey came back from DC Saturday afternoon and pretty much laid low in the apartment until showtime. The boys once again played to a packed house, throwing down another raucous three hour show that we’ve become accustomed to whenever they play Philadelphia. We hung out until well after closing and, since they really had no place to be until they flew back to Reno on Monday, they decided to stick around for another night. We surely didn’t care as long as they didn’t mind sharing the apartment with the acts scheduled to play that Sunday night, James Hunnicutt and Filthy Still (which, at the time, featured Jared McGovern and Liz Sloan as touring members). Of course they didn’t mind.

With a lighter turnout on Sunday night, and so many musicians milling about, the night broke out into some spontaneous music, both in the bar after Filthy Still’s set, and well into the night as James Hunnicutt, Jared McGovern, and Liz Sloan continued to work on some things in the empty floor above the bar. At one point, I walked in to see Leroy sitting in the corner, leaning back in a chair, watching them play with that shit eatin’ grin of his. I pulled up the chair next to him, sat down, and said “yo, that’s Django Reinhardt they’re doing”. He just grinned even wider as he slowly nodded his head. We just sat there for the next 5-10 minutes or so, watching these three virtuosos without saying a word.

The night wound down shortly after that and, as we were socially preparing for the inevitable parting of our separate ways, Leroy once again reinforced his desire to leave his guitar at the apartment as the “house guitar” and to “let everybody play it”. By this point, I was a bit worn down by his dogged persistence and single-mindedness, and for the twelfth time that weekend I said, “yeah, yeah, right Leroy, OK”. We hugged, offered our salutations and well wishes, and went our separate ways until our paths would, inevitably, cross again.

Everybody had left the apartment by Monday afternoon and I didn’t have a chance to get down there and clean until Tuesday morning. As I walked up to the third floor apartment, sure as shit, there it was just like he said. Sitting at the top of the staircase, leaning against the wall with the case open was Leroy Virgil’s beat up old Esteban guitar. I shook my head and thought to myself ‘that’s Leroy being Leroy’ and, with a slight smirk on my face, I picked her up and then just let out a sigh as I placed it into one of the closets. As I was cleaning up the apartment, processing all the events of the last couple days, I kept thinking about one thing in particular that Leroy had said, “let everybody play it”. I then thought about how he had left me in stewardship of his old guitar, an instrument that, from my perspective, already has provenance and should rightly wind up in a museum one day. I decided that, to honor that trust he had in me, I would continue to add to the instrument’s already storied life by doing a running portrait series of every musician that plays his old guitar.

husky-burnette-guitar billy-don-burns-guitarawesome-bill-dorsey brina-smitty-smith-guitar brook-blanche-calamity-cubes-guitar brownbird-rudy-relic dave-lefever david-patillo-guitar dusty-rust-guitar james-hunnicutt-guitar jared-mcgovern-guitar jayke-orvis-guitar jay-scheffler jb-beverley jesse-roebuck-guitar jim-chilson josh-patch-guitar kody-oh-guitar leo-distanto liz-sloan-guitar lone-wolf-guitar marcus-bunch-cuttthroat-shamrock-guitar mighty-junior olds-sleeper orb-mellon-guitar phillip-roebuck-guitar saint-christopher scrimmy-broucher-guitar shane-vain stevie-tombstone tim-v-guitarjeff-bryson-guitar

Dec
8

Peewee Moore is “Making Sure The Story’s Being Told”

December 8, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  6 Comments

The last time I talked about Peewee Moore at length, he’d recently arrived in Austin, TX and was just getting his hands dirty in the country scene of the world’s “Live Music Capitol.” Now he’s a mainstay of Austin’s honky tonk music circuit along such names as Roger Wallace, The Carper Family, Jim Stringer, and the El Capitan Dale Watson. Any given night you might see Peewee haunting the stages of The Continental Club, Ginny’s Little Longhorn, and The Whitehorse Saloon with his permanently-haggard raccoon eyes, and his Tele riddled with battle wounds slung over his shoulder.

Peewee will never get too far away from his Chattanooga roots though with that unmistakable and thick northwest Georgia, southeast Tennessee accent. Just like fellow Chattanooga native son Husky Burnette, Peewee played lead guitar back in the day for the Choo Choo City’s country music patron saint, Roger Alan Wade. With Roger, and with his first band The Tennessee Rounders, Peewee cut his mold as a hard country, honky tonking Outlaw, way before that term would be so horrifically subverted by Music City pretty boy carpetbaggers looking to distract you from their slick, arena rock songs and silver spoon upbringings.

I initially had a little trouble getting into Making Sure The Story’s Being Told, I think because the first three songs came from such a similar vein: describing Peewee’s hardtack life as a traveling musician. Maybe I thought he was talking a little too much shop, but over time and taken individually, all three songs revealed themselves as worthy, especially the slow and plodding “Worn Out Old Guitar”, and specifically the line, “When you ain’t in the spotlight, you’re all stuck in a van.” Peewee Moore is the real deal, which means he’s not perfect. He’s like the personification of the American struggle, and that’s why he fits right into sensibilities of real music fans so well.

Further on the album revealed that it was brimming with variety. For my two cents, the best song on the album is the brilliant “Beneath The Cold, Cold Ground” where Peewee’s excellent guitar work sends your mind reeling around an infectious chord groove, while his vocals reach the sweet spot of his tone before distorting into a growl for emphasis. This is followed in order with the very fun and well-written foot stomper “Running Moonshine”.

“Samuel Colt & His Cartridge Gun” is probably the biggest surprise of the album, with its intelligent story craft brought to life with a tasteful trumpet part. “So They Call You An Outlaw” is not what you may think from the title. Instead of directly calling out fake Outlaws, Peewee gets crafty by conveying that “Outlaw” is not a term you can bestow on yourself, but must be given to you by others; and how that’s not necessarily a glamorous or fortuitous as some would have you believe.

These honky tonk albums are hard ones to make in 2012. Everyone else in country is trying to carve their niche, bending and blending genres and doing any manner of outlandish things to get folks to pay attention to them in a glutted music world. Meanwhile the charge of the honky tonk musician is to keep the traditions alive through purity. When it comes to artists like Peewee, I wonder if they wouldn’t be better off mixing in a few songs from other artists on their albums instead of writing all their own material; adding their best cuts of with the best cuts of others to bolster a project.

At the same time, what makes Peewee Moore distinct is that he plays his own leads and writes his own songs with a gutsy, lunch pail approach. Peewee Moore may never be big, but you can always count on him being Peewee. And for those not distracted by image or hype, that authenticity is what makes him special.

1 1/2 of 2 guns up.

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Making Sure The Story’s Being Told was released July 28th. It is only available at Peewee Moore shows at the moment, or by contacting Peewee at Peewee Moore at Yahoo dot com. Check back for online availability.

Jul
2

12 Reasons to Attend the Farmageddon Music Fest

July 2, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  10 Comments

Not everybody will be able to make the trek to The Farmageddon Music Festival going down on July 20th-22nd in West Yellowstone, Montana at Hebgen Lake. But if you’re sitting on the fence, hemming and hawing, sweating because you only have two days left before you have to ask off for that extra day of work, here’s 12 random reasons to pull the trigger.

Purchase Tickets to Farmageddon Fest

 

1. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club

Of all the artists and bands I’ve seen live over the years counting any style of music, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is right up there for putting on the best live performance possible. They don’t throw themselves around with tremendous energy or evoke epic guitar solos. Instead they rely on conjuring up the similar incantations to the old school snake oil salesmen and tent preachers did, preying on some inherent human frailty that allows you no other option than to submit to their spell. You may not know exactly what’s going on, but you will love every minute of it.

2. Hebgen Lake

This is where Farm Fest is happening? What more needs to be said?

***UPDATE*** It has been moved to 10 Denny Creek Road off of Targhee Pass HWY/HWY 20. GET FULL DETAILS

3. The Drive There

Yeah, Farmageddon Fest’s out-of-the-way location may be prohibitive for some folks, but it also one of the festival’s best assets. Whether you’re packing up the station wagon and heading out from Osh Kosh, or flying into Jackson Hole and renting a sub compact, and some point you will find yourself surrounded by some of the most beautiful country the United States boasts. It may be hard to get to, but it will be even harder to leave behind.

4. Performers

In the Farmageddon Fest lineup, you have some of the most dynamic performing bands in all the land. The aforementioned Slim Cessna’s Auto Club for starts, then add on top of that the fire-breathing Goddamn Gallows, The Calamity Cubes, Husky Burnette, Southern Culture on the Skids, and Bob Wayne & The Outlaw Carnies just to name a few. These are bands that will melt your face off with their performances.

5. Songwriters

Tom VandenAvond, McDougall, James Hunnicutt, Stevie Tombstone, the legendary Soda Gardocki, and Graham Lindsey are just some of the high-caliber songwriters who will bring depth and soul to the Farmageddon stage. This is not just a one-trick festival, but one that will cater to a variety of musical moods and sensibilities.

 

6. Artists You May Not Get Another Opportunity To See

From the 2011 Saving Country Music Album of the Year winner Slackeye Slim to local boy Aran Buzzas, a lot of the bands playing Farmageddon Fest don’t have the means to tour full time or nationally so this is your chance. Farmageddon Fest helps you out by putting them all in one place.

7. The Bands You’ve Never Heard Before

I’ve never understood folks who look at a festival lineup and scruch their nose at it saying, “But I’ve never heard of a lot of these bands.” The discovery is half the fun. If a festival does their job right, their should be unfamiliar names. And if you do your job right, you walk away from the weekend with a few new favorite bands.

8. The Ugly Valley Boys

Just because their album Double Down is so damn good and I can’t get enough of it.

9. Collaborations

The bands scheduled to play is a known quantity. What isn’t is the random, improvised, and amazing collaborations that could break out at any moment, at any place, on stage, in the campground, in some bar back in town, you name it. “Oh my god I just saw Husky Burnette playing with Avery from the Goddamn Gallows on washboard and James Hunnicutt playing guitar, and then The Calamity Cubes were playing with Soda Gardocki and the Dead Tree String Band!” This is what your thumbs will be feverishly working to post to Facebook, and what is bound to happen when you put this many bands who are familiar with each other in one place.

10. Fellowship

Inevitably, whenever anyone attends a festival like this, they walk away boasting about the bands, the grounds, etc., but it is the fellowship, the camaraderie that is created when assembling such a collection of like-minded folks together for three days is what you walk away with valuing the most. The experiences can never be captured in photos or videos to the extent they will be in your heart.

11. Because if you don’t support independent festivals, they will go away.

12. The Lineup

Feb
4

The Rise of the Music Micro Festival

February 4, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  45 Comments

As the new music reality continues to take shape, where one big mono genre serves the masses and micro genres crop up to serve the rest, the shape of the way live music is delivered to people is adapting as well. Huge festivals, or “mono festivals” like Bonnaroo mix all music genres to appeal to a many large demographics as possible. Meanwhile house concerts have gone from a kitschy trend to a legitimate way for artists to connect with attentive fans, and fans to enjoy music without succumbing to the rigors of bar or big festival life. Last year I highlighted Weber’s Deck in Minnesota, where the house concert concept is taken to its extreme to become a construct of community. For the upcoming festival season of 2012, a new trend is emerging: the micro festival.

Similar to a house concert but with a much greater scope, the micro festival usually serves a very specific slice of the greater music pie, and like a house concert, is thrown either at people’s houses or on their private property (but not always), but unlike a house concert, includes many more bands, and many more fans, some of which will drive and even fly from out of state to attend an event that in total may have less than 100 patrons. The micro festival is about micro service to a music community forged online and oriented on very focused musical tastes.

Johnny Lowebow, creator of the Lowebow Cigar Box Guitar, and namesake of "Lowebow Fest"

A great example of the micro festival is Lowebow Fest, thrown by Nick Reddit of Cracker Swamp Productions in Orlando FL. March 9th & 10th 2012 will be the second year for the event that focuses strictly on artists that play Cigar Box Guitars, and a specific type of cigar box guitar crafted by performer and luthier Johnny Lowebow. This year will include a performer flying all the way from Finland for the event.

Nick Lindsay of No Brow Productions, a video production specialist from Seattle flew all the way to Orlando to attend the inaugural Lowebow Fest in 2011 and created a DVD of the event that will be sold at the festival and online this year. Nick is also launching his own micro festival in 2012, called the Deep Blues Festival Northwest, an extension of long-running Deep Blues Festival. It will take place this August 4th on a few acres his family owns in Orting, WA.

Nick Lindsay, Videographer, Deep Blues Enthusiast

“The main reason I decided to do this is that I’m selfish and decided that nobody else is going to put on a party like this for me so I’m going to put up my money and time and make it happen,” explains Nick. “Over the last few years I’ve become a big fan of the Deep Blues music movement. This movement consists mostly of bands who have been heavily influenced by the North Mississippi Hill Country artists as well as the Fat Possum record label which helped (somewhat) popularize a lot of these great, old blues artists while they were still alive.”

Another common theme of the micro festival is since they are thrown out of love of the music instead of as a commercial enterprise, there is usually no admission fee. The performers are compensated by donations from the devout and rabid fan base a micro festival attracts.

“This will be a free event with donations accepted. It is going to be a one-day, overnight party and celebration of all the great NW blues-based bands and some from other parts of the country, for all of the fans out here that love this music.

One Deep Blues Fest Northwest performer, The Ten Foot Polecats, is making the trek all the way from Boston for the event.

Really this whole event will be more of a party than a festival.” Nick continues. “I don’t anticipate a big crowd but rather a solid group of friends. However everyone is welcome to attend.”

Another example of the micro festival is Christyfest, being thrown by B.J. and Nicole Christy in their backyard in Shippensburg, PA on May 12th. Music fans as far away as New York and Illinois are planning to attend.

“The reason I am doing this is because there is no where touring bands can play around here,” says B.J. Christy. “Only one bar will book these kinds of bands, and even they are spotty at times. And to tell you the truth I am inspired by Casey Weber (of Weber’s Deck), and believe I can copy that working formula here in the hills of PA. I want an all-donation, laid back environment where bands can come hang out get some good food and a place to stay. And in turn we can all hear good music; something that is lacking in this area. If there is no movement, start one.”

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Lowebow FestMarch 9th & 10th, at SIP in Orlando, FL.

Performers: Johnny Lowebow, Purgatory Hill, Hymn for Her, Jukka Juhola (Black River Bluesman, from Finland), more, & release of 2011 Lowebow Fest DVD.

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Deep Blues Festival NorthwestAugust 4th, 2012 12 PM- 8 PM , at Lindsay’s Landing in Ortega, WA

Performers: GravelRoad, Scissormen, Ten Foot Polecats, Last Watch, McDougall, Lonesome Shack

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ChristyfestMay 12th, 2012, Shippensburg, PA

Performers: Olds Sleeper, Sean K Preston, Husky Burnette, Danny Kay and the Nightlifers, and The Ten Foot Polecats, Robert “Fireball” Mitchell

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Weber’s Deck 2012 Season will begin Sunday, July 8th, and run EVERY Sunday from 1pm-5pm through Labor Day weekend in French Lake, MN.

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Are you throwing or attending a micro music festival in 2012? Leave the info below!

Dec
8

Saving Country Music’s Essential Albums for 2011

December 8, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  46 Comments

So here it is, the list of albums Saving Country Music deems essential for 2011 listening. Please note this list only includes albums that have been reviewed so far. There are a few more good and important albums in 2011 that have yet to be reviewed, and there is a list of some of them at the bottom. Aside from the first few albums mentioned, which should be considered close runners up to the SCM Album of the Year (which includes albums not on this list), the albums are in no special order.

And as always, your feedback is encouraged. What are your essential albums? What did we miss? What was released in 2011 that deserves a review? Please leave your feedback below.

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Rachel BrookeDown In The Barnyard

Every year, there is going to be one album that gets screwed out of being a nominee for Album of the Year. Even if I double the amount of nominees, still the line is drawn somewhere, and that next album on the list is the odd one out. Last year it was Jayke Orvis’s It’s All Been Said. This year it is this amazing offering from Rachel Brooke. Call it 2011′s “Most Essential” album.

You can tell Rachel has studied many modes of classic country, not just some. I hear Charlie Louvin, not just Hank Williams. I hear The Carter Family, not just Johnny Cash. And the themes are not just from the 1950′s, but the 1850′s as well. There’s no big branches for you to grab on to and say, “Hell yeah, this is the kind of country I like!” but the originality embellishes the album to such a more magnanimous degree. (read full review)

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The Boomswagglers- Bootleg Beginnings

Another album I wouldn’t argue with you over if you wanted to call it the best of the year. One of the most authentic albums of 2011 for sure.

The music is wildly entertaining and deceptively deep. If you’re going to be a Boomswagglers song, someone’s got to die, and likely a woman. Some may find this silly, monotonous, or even offensive, but you have to listen beyond the lyrics, and unlock the carnal wisdom that is hidden in these songs. They were Boomswagglers, and that low form of living is ever present in every note on this album.(Read full review)

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Lone WolfLone Wolf OMB

Probably the album with the most original approach in all of 2011; something nobody else has done before. And at the same time, it is the most viscerally engaging. Excellent album you’d be foolish to overlook.

The first time I turned this album on, I was out of my chair, stomping my foot on the floor, banging my head, making a complete ass out of myself for the entertainment of the four walls of the Saving Country Music headquarters. It made a music virgin out of me again. (read full review)

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Lucky Tubb & The Modern Day TroubadoursDel Gaucho

One of the best of the year, and one of the best from Lucky Tubb. In Del Gaucho, you really feel like he has found his voice and sound.

So many other artists and bands, to take this same selection of covers and originals and record them, it would just come across as cheesball retro country with it’s anachronistic language and outmoded style. But Lucky Tubb has a swagger that makes him immune to such concerns. To him, this isn’t playing country like it used to be done, this is playing country like it is supposed to be done. (Read full review)

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Husky BurnetteFacedown in the Dirt

The best album of 2011 from the Deep Blues side of things in my opinion.

This is music to get you moving. I can’t listen to this album at home. I’ll get flying around and break things. I can only listen while driving, with a foot pumping on the gas pedal to the groove. If somebody was listening to this album and wasn’t at least bobbing their head or tapping their foot, the next thing I’d do is put a mirror in front if their mouth. (read full review)

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Nick 13Nick 13

This solo country project from psychobilly’s Tiger Army is certainly essential, and one of those albums that was not on your radar at the beginning of the year, but you’re still listening to at the end of it, especially the essential songs of “101,” “Gambler’s Life,” and an updated version of “In The Orchard”.

With Nick 13′s first self-titled release, he hasn’t just stuck his foot in the door of country music, he’s kicked the door down. This is a good one folks! The California native’s brand of country is hard, with a lot of Western influences mixed in to the instrumentation and lyrics, contrasted with his soft and delicate, but deliberate voice. (read full review)

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Ugly Valley BoysDouble Down

Another surprise album out of left field that has become one of the year’s best.

So many bands try to imbibe their music with a vintage feel and Western space by using copious amounts of chorus or reverb. Guitar player, singer, and songwriter Ryan Eastlyn takes the road less traveled with the use of moaning, melodic chorus lines that are so excellent, they vault this band from a relative unknown to one responsible for one of the better albums put out so far in 2011. (read full review)

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Cody Canada & The DepartedThis Is Indian Land

I was surprised to find out a few months after reviewing this album that not many Cross Canadian Ragweed fans, or critics for that matter have much use for this album. I have to respectfully disagree. Quit wanting what you’re used to expecting from Cody Canada, and start listening to what he is offering. There is a little fat here, but This Is Indian Land also has some of the best songs put out all year.

This is one of the funnest, freshest, well-written, well-produced albums to come out this year. There’s good songs, good performances, and it’s bold. While still sounding relevant and un-obscure, Cody and The Departed were able to stay out of the well-worn grooves that run like tired veins through so much of mainstream music. (read full review)

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The Dirt DaubersWake Up, Sinners!

Along with Larry & His Flask’s All That We Know, I’m afraid these are the two albums being grossly overlooked this year.

I love this album. You may look at the track listing and ask yourself why we need yet another version of “Wayfaring Stranger”. The answer is because the great Col. JD Wilkes has never done one before. A perfect mix of classics and originals, don’t just pigeon hole this project as just another rag tag bluegrass bit, there a lot of hot jazz, rockabilly and blues mixed in with the old time string band approach. (Read full review)

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Larry & His FlaskAll That We Know

Larry & His Flask from the ultra hippie nouveau town of Bend, OR have been making the rounds on the live circuit for years now, leaving legions of disciples and gallons of sweat behind at every stop. Putting out as much energy as any band has in the history of ever, and a lineup that necessitates shoving multiple tables together at every restaurant the tour van stops at, LAHF’s live show is impressionable to say the least.

Along with all the other elements, LAHF build their music using dark cords and unusual, unintuitive changes and progressions that give them a unique sound beyond any traditional string or punk music. (Read full review)

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Willy Tea Taylor- 4 Strings

If you’re a tragic, tragic audiophile like myself, then you understand just what a blessing it is when out of the blue you discover an artist that really speaks to you, and it opens a brand new vein of music for you to enjoy for years to come. This is the experience most people come away with when hearing Willy Tea Taylor for the first time.

Like so many albums that take the stripped down approach, there is just less to criticize, allowing the pureness of the music to flow. I cannot give you one reason not to like Willy Tea Taylor or 4 Strings, only reasons you’d be a fool for not loving it. (Read full review)

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Slim Cessna’s Auto ClubUnentitled

When this album came out early in the year, it was the frontrunner for Album of the Year. At the end of the year, it still holds up. Slim Cessna is not for everyone, and his take on pop music may make this album even more obscure, but it is nonetheless genius and engaging.

At first I didn’t know what to make of this album. In places, this is the most accessible, most non-dark music they have ever done. There are many bands that if they had put out an album like this, grumbles of “going mainstream” or “selling out” would be heard. But The Auto Club is so weird, so fey to begin with, being more normal actually makes them even more weird than they were before, adding to the mystique and mythos behind the band. (read full review)

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Hank3Guttertown

Still can’t get into Ghost To A Ghost, the first album of this double album set, but the second album is solid from beginning to end.

The first record in the 4 record salvo from Hank3 Ghost to a Ghost felt very much like business as usual in the post-Straight to Hell era. But Guttertown is where Hank3 gets it right by doing the same thing he did in the early and mid oughts, following his heart, defying any expectations for sound and genre, and letting his creative passion flow. Simply put, this is the best album Hank3′s put out since his 2006 opus. (Read full review)

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Jason Boland & The StragglersRancho Alto

One of the standouts in both Red Dirt and real country for 2011.

The heavy thematic focus on Texas and Oklahoma in Red Dirt music is what has made the movement strong throughout that region. It’s also what keeps it from progressing beyond. I’ve always believed that good songwriting allows you to look past proper names, and delve into the meaning of what a songwriter is attempting to convey. Jason Boland does this in Rancho Alto. (Read full review)

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Scott H. BiramBad Ingredients

When it comes to one man bands, Scott H. Biram is the franchise. He is the top of the heap, the one that inspired so many others. He’s tussled with semi trucks and spilled his guts out on the highway just like he’s spilled his guts out on countless stages all across the Western world until he earned that glorious ‘H’ in the middle of his name.

Biram may deliver his best album yet, and possibly one of the best albums in this calendar year, buoyed by one of the year’s best songs in the aforementioned “Victory Song”. With Bad Ingredients, Scott H. Biram simply delivers. (read full review)

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Tom WaitsBad As Me

One of the most pressing questions I’ve seen about his music in the context of his new album Bad As Me is if it should be considered “roots” or “Americana.” 7 years ago, when Waits put out his last real original album, I would have probably said no, but loaded with qualifiers. Today my answer would be “absolutely.”

What can I say, it’s Tom Waits, and he’s better than everyone else. It’s pretty much unfair and bullshit, but that’s just the way it is. All other artists, back to the drawing board with you. There has never been another artist worthy of the title of “transcendent” than Tom Waits. (Read full review)

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Olds Sleeper – I Will Follow You To Jail

Olds has a few other albums out in 2011 including Plainspoken which SCM has yet to review, but I Will Follow You To Jail may be the best primer to get you in touch with this genuine and prolific songwriter.

Unless you frequent a few small music circles in the underground world, you may have never heard of the artist Olds Sleeper, but that doesn’t diminish the argument one can make for him being one of the best songwriters of our generation. Of course, saying anyone is the “best” of anything is always disputable, but numbers are not, and by the numbers, Olds is indisputably one of the most prolific songwriters out there. (Read full review)

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Gillian WelchThe Harrow & The Harvest

I firmly believe that one of the problems with modern music is that there’s too much of it. So to see Gillian Welch wait 7 years to put out an album, is refreshing, and wise. But time and patience don’t guarantee a good album. What does is excellent songwriting, and that is exactly what Gillian delivers in The Harrow & The Harvest.

This album is one of those that needs multiple listens before you can fully appreciate it, but once it sticks to your bones, not listening to it enough will not be an issue, because you might need a pry bar to get it out of your player. (Read full review)

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Little Lisa DixieLittle Lisa Dixie

One of the few that made the Essential List that was not rated “Two guns up,” but belongs here from the strength of the songs.

With her first self-titled album, Little Lisa Dixie is helping make the case that in independent/underground country, 2011 might be the year of the woman. With surprisingly good, classic songwriting, excellent use of texture, and solid instrumentation, she has made the album that her fans have waited years for be one that is well worth the wait. (read full review)

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Bob WayneOutlaw Carnie

The first thing you need to appreciate about Outlaw Carnie is that it is country. Forget that it’s on a metal label, and that Hank III’s name is being put out there for context. There’s no fusing of metal and country here. There’s no sludgy BC Rich or Flying V guitars, no screamo, cookie monster lyrics. There’s banjo, fiddle, dobro, upright bass, brushes on snare, if there’s any drums at all.

I would assert that Outlaw Carnie is better than good. It is great, and worthy of affording Bob Wayne the much wider audience that his music deserves. (Read full review)

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Jimbo MathusConfederate Buddha

There’s no pretentiousness in Confederate Buddha, no premeditated attempt to appeal to demographics. Just like Gram once explained to Emmylou about country music, the beauty of Jimbo’s songwriting is in the simplicity.

Confederate Buddha is yet another exercise in what Jimbo Mathus does best: Delving auspiciously into various styles of classic American music, while blurring the lines between them and injecting his deep-rooted Mississippi blood. It continues and perpetuates the music mythos of Mathus as a genuine student and steward of American roots music, and a Mississippi and National treasure. (Read full review)

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Sunday ValleyTo The Wind And On To Heaven

First and foremost Sunday Valley is a live band, and that is how they approached this recording. The guitar is unapologetically loud and heavy–kind of the Stevie Ray approach of simply not worrying about what people say, just continue to do it until that is what you’re known for. This is about the loudest and heaviest you will hear guitar that still has the identifiable country “twang.”

Sunday Valley is definitely worth your consideration and raising a blip on your radar, because mark my words, I have a feeling that this will not be the last time you will hear about this band, from me or others. (Read full review)

Other albums yet to be reviewed:

The Goddamn Gallows7 Devils

Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy SpooksHeartsick

The Damn QuailsDown The Hatch

Other albums many folks recommend & received positive SCM reviews:

Dale Watson – The Sun Sessions

Lydia LovelessIndestructible Machine

William Elliot WhitmoreField Songs

Eilen JewellQueen of the Minor Key

Nov
28

Nominees for 2011 SCM Album of the Year

November 28, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  115 Comments

There is nothing I take more seriously than naming what I think is the best album of any calendar year. The Album of the Year offers a guidepost for future generations to find the best music that was forgotten by the mainstream, while at the same time being a current ambassador to the mainstream to illustrate what great music they are overlooking. An Album of the Year can’t just be the best album to listen to, it has to be impactful, influential, and/or groundbreaking.

The decision of who to nominate is always difficult, but this year it seemed especially difficult because of the additional albums I could have included beyond these three. Both Rachel Brooke’s Down in the Barnyard and Lone Wolf’s self-titled album were excellent, breakthrough releases. Cody Canada & The Departed’s This Is Indian Land I thought was especially strong, though I may be alone in that thought. And there were a couple of landmark blues albums this year, Husky Burnette’s Facedown in the Dirt, and Scott Biram’s Bad Ingredients, and make no mistake, though it would have to fight an uphill battle, a blues album could win.

But in the end, if I had included one of those albums, I’d have to include them all to be fair to the requirements of all the nominees, and that would have diluted attention from the three albums that truly have a chance to win. And certainly those albums and many more will be included on the “2011 Essential Albums List” forthcoming.

Saving Country Music is a benevolent dictatorship, and I will make the end decision of the winner, but feedback will be taken into strong consideration, so please, leave your votes, comments, your own candidates, or write-in votes below. Just don’t make fun of the cheesball “2011 Album of the Year” logo I slapped together, or you comment will be disqualified.

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Austin LucasA New Home in the Old World

Of all the albums in 2011, this was the one I listened to the most. It is one of those albums where a few of the songs hit you the first time through, then after you’ve worn out those songs, the ones you didn’t like at first grow on you, and by the time those wear out, you’re favorites in the first place are renewed once again until 6 months have gone by and you never stopped listening. In this day of so much parody in music, this is such a rare feat.

A New Home in the Old World scores two guns up on every element of this album: the songwriting, the singing, the instrumentation, the production and accessibility. You can put this album on for one of your pop country friends, and they will like it, and you will too, and Lucas proved his wide appeal by appearing on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour this summer. And it is solidly country, pure country, with steal guitars and fiddles and down home, but not apish harmony vocals, even though he comes to us from a punk music background, and through the Suburban Home Records scene.

Simply based on appeal, and our ability to hold up an album to Music Row and say, “See, there is music out there that is better, but still widely appealing, that could save your business model,” there is no better album in 2011 than A New Home in the Old World. (read review)

Slackeye SlimEl Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa

El Santo Grial is a masterpiece, a magnum opus, of the highest proportions. And it’s not just that this is the greatest masterpiece of 2011, it very well may be the best masterpiece that has been put out in the independent/underground country world, ever. And I’d go even another step to say there’s a good chance it will never be rivaled in that regard. The artistry, the vision, and the patience and uncompromising approach to see it through makes El Santo Grial one for the ages.

However artistry and vision is one thing, and appeal is another. Is this an album you can play for your pop country friends? Uh yeah, probably not. They’re not ready for it, and even many people who are not pop country fans are probably not ready for it. Ulysses may be the greatest novel of all time, but damn if most of us can’t make it past the first chapter. But even though El Santo Grial may not have mass appeal, I do think it could appeal to a mass variety of people by transcending genre and traditional ideas of taste, like what Tom Waits does, until it does command a big audience. And I do think there are songs here that can be picked out of the work and stand alone.  (read review)

Hellbound GloryDamaged Goods

Originally I was not going to include Damaged Goods on this list; the 2011 Album of the Year was going to be a two horse race. Don’t get me wrong, I think the album is excellent, but I just don’t know if it is their best effort. I’m not saying it “isn’t” their best effort, I’m saying “I don’t know” if it’s their best effort, like I can say about A New Home and El Santo Grial. And I have to balance that against the fact that Leroy Virgil wanted to make an album that was an approximation of their live show, which these days is fairly stripped down because of budgetary restraints.

But when you take into consideration influence and appeal, it would be an injustice to leave Damaged Goods off. Austin Lucas could blow up, but Hellbound Glory would blow up if the right buttons were pushed by someone who has the power, and understands their aesthetic. Leroy Virgil could be the next Justin Townes Earle, a solid underground success story, or he could be the next Alan Jackson. I just wish he knew that the possibilities were in arms length of him, and I wish I knew how to get him that last step–not to afford him arbitrary measures of success like money and fame, but because the world needs Hellbound Glory’s music. (read review)

Nov
22

Muddy Roots + Hillgrass Bluebilly + SCM = XSXSW 5

November 22, 2011 - By Trigger  //  News  //  14 Comments

I am very excited to announce a unique partnership between Saving Country Music, Hillgrass Bluebilly Records & Entertainment, and Muddy Roots Music (The Muddy Roots Festivals) to bring together the 5th Annual XSXSW showcase, aka XSXSW 5, as part of the annual mid-March gathering of the tribes in Austin, TX known as South By Southwest.

The idea is to create a larger and more robust footprint for underground country and roots music at what is the yearly premier music event for the independent music industry, held in the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Unfortunately over the years, SXSW has become more “industry” and less “independent” as the festival has grown, and it has become a logistical nightmare for bands and fans alike to attend. SXSW is in essence a “pay to play” event, asking for non-refundable money for artists to be considered for officially-sanctioned showcases, and the event overtakes the entire downtown corridor of Austin for official SXSW use.

The spirit behind XSXSW is to offer fans and artists an alternative to the SXSW madness, while still giving them the opportunity to take advantage of the massive collection of talent, resources, and networking capabilities SXSW affords, and unlike many SXSW events, it is completely open to the public. This is the 5th year Hillgrass Bluebilly has thrown the XSXSW event, and Saving Country Music and Muddy Roots are coming on board to give the showcase that much more support and impact. Previous XSXSW acts include Los Duggans, Left Lane Cruiser, Hillstomp, O’Death, Austin Lucas, & The Harmed Brothers.

And this is not just important to artists and people in and around Austin. XSXSW 5 will be a national event, with a national focus, yet still in the original spirit of SXSW of showcasing local talent next to national acts. For folks from Texas, the Southwest, or anywhere else that can’t make it to other big independent roots events like The Muddy Roots Festival, Farmageddon Fest, The Deep Blues Festival, etc., this might be your chance to take part in a large scale event. And for those that can’t make it at all, the event will be broadcast right here on SCM LIVE, giving rise to national, and international participation via the web.

And since the event is being held at The Austin Moose Lodge on the east side of town, just outside of the SXSW madness, it offers an alternative to Austin locals who regularly avoid the annual festivities because of the headache they create. Ample parking, huge indoor/outdoor facilities, 3 stages, yet not too far out of the city makes the Austin Moose Lodge the ideal location. And as Hillgrass Bluebilly founder Keith Mallette states, The Moose Lodge embodies:

…a revival of “lost America”, for our friends and family to have a place of our own. A place that IMPROVES & BUILDS FOR US as we bring them beautiful, exceptional music that you just flat out cant get anywhere else… and prove once again that you never know where a song might take you!

This initial lineup of bands is just the tip of the iceberg of what the two day event will include, but we wanted to make folks aware of what will transpire. Florida’s Cracker Swamp Productions is also involved, and other entities and sponsors will be coming on board soon. Stay tuned to Saving Country Music for more announcements and information on XSXSW 5 as March gets closer.

Sep
29

Album Review – Husky Burnette – “Facedown In The Dirt”

September 29, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  21 Comments

2011 has seen the rise of more entities and organizations to support music in the greater underground roots/country movement than possibly all the other years combined. One of those entities has been Reverend Nix’s Cracker Swamp Productions out of Orland, FL, which in the spirit of full disclosure, broadcasts a podcast from this very site through SCM LIVE on a weekly basis.

With a servants heart, Rev. Nix buries his nose deep into the murky recesses of music that many of us dare not to go, with a tireless drive to find the audio gold just waiting to be discovered. It was in this pursuit that he unearthed Lone Wolf early this year, a previously-unknown banjo-playing one man band whose first album was Cracker Swamp’s freshmen release and featured one of the freshest approaches to banjo music in years, and still holds up after 6 months as one of the standout albums of all 2011.

With Husky Burnette, it is a little less about discovery, and more about making sure an excellent album doesn’t fall through the cracks. Husky is a wily veteran of the underground roots circuits where country and blues intertwine with no prejudice, playing lead guitar for Roger Alan Wade for 2 1/2 years, and doing time with Polecat Boogie Revival who opened for Hank3. Zach Shedd, Hank3′s current bass player, plays bass on a couple of tracks for this album that is by far more blues than country.

Very few albums pass under my nose that I can’t find at least something wrong with, yet I can’t bring forth any gripe about Facedown in the Dirt. It’s not that the music is hugely groundbreaking, it simply is consistent and solid throughout, which is exceptional in its own right in this day of homespun, impatient projects cluttering the landscape.

Husky plays an electric, Mississippi Delta-style version of the blues, but what makes it so unique is his ability to straddle lines without crossing them. His voice has a hard grit and growl to it, but he doesn’t scream or sacrifice melody. His guitar tone is crunchy, but not so much that you would mistake this for metal. And the groove is the glue that binds Husky’s great taste for tone with his top notch songwriting, which works in traditional blues themes. Husky’s drummer Tony “Tonky Ponk” Jones also deserves props. His name might not be on the cover, but he is half responsible for the infectiousness of Husky’s grooves as the heartbeat of this blues tandem.

This is music to get you moving. I can’t listen to this album at home. I’ll get flying around and break things. I can only listen while driving, with a foot pumping on the gas pedal to the groove. If somebody was listening to this album and wasn’t at least bobbing their head or tapping their foot, the next thing I’d do is put a mirror in front if their mouth.

This is one of those albums that when someone first tells you they’re all originals, your gut instinct is to call bullsh. The songs are just too good, and too steeped in the authentic blues modes. But the liner notes don’t lie. They’re all Husky’s. And if you have any good sense, you should make them yours.

Two guns up!

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Purchase Facedown in The Dirt Directly from Husky Burnette

Preview and Purchase Tracks from Amazon

Husky playing a suitcase with a hollow bone at Muddy Roots. Jay from the Ten Foot Polecats on Harmonica.

Del Maguey
Old Soul Radio Show
Lucette
Elam McKnight

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