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I picture a post-Apolcolyptic scene: ghost towns full of crumbling buildings and rubble, smoke filling the sky and blocking out the sun, the result of a society that gave no value to art, heritage, and truth; a vast wasteland of grayness. Then all of a sudden in the midst of all the death and decay, there’s movement: a lone being protected by the elements by a big black, robotic-like suit. Maybe it is one of the few survivors, or an alien sent to investigate the fate of this once beautiful place.
He goes sifting through the rubble of a bombed out structure, looking for evidence of what went wrong. He finds a shelf whose contents of CD’s and DVD’s have been belched out onto the dusty, rubbage filled floor in a pile. A big black glove pushes aside CD’s by Brittaney Spears and Taylor Swift, DVD’s with pretty movie stars adorning their covers. Then he sees something curious: a black disc with crossed guns on the front. What is this? He pops it into a media player attached to the side of his helmet, and all of a sudden a new world is presented to him: The picture of a collection of artists fighting against society’s homogenization and creative vapidness unfolds through music. A resistance. Outlaws, fighting a rebel war against the mainstream, and carrying forth a long line of traditions from the past.
I normally hate compilations. This one is different. No, this does not have all the “hits” from our insurgent country scene that you’ve already heard compiled in some way to try to squeeze more money out of worn out songs. And it’s not the odds and sods and leftovers for other projects either. It is a collection on good, fresh, original, previously-unreleased material that is fun to listen to, and also acts as a primer for artists you may have heard of, but never heard their stuff.
But in another way this is so much more than that. This compilation DEFINES our movement. It gives it clear edges, and at the same time illustrates and celebrates our diversity. Our diversity is what makes us strong: men and women, gothic country w/ Those Poor Bastards, New Outlaw country with Roger Alan Wade, REAL bluegrass with the .357 String Band. Sure there’s maybe a few signed artists missing like Hank III, and the Bloodshot Record’s gang like Wayne “The Train” Hancock and Scott Biram. But you already know those guys. This is a jump start for the fresh blood, the up and comers.
I’ve got comments on specific songs below, but in closing let me just say that if you do not buy this compilation, you deserve to have your genitals dry up a whither.
Outlaw Radio can be heard every Wednesday night at 8PM Central at scrubradio.com. Show are archived, and you can purchase this compilation at savingcountrymusic.com/outlaw-radio
1. The Dad Horse Experience–Gates of Heaven (Vinyl Version): How ironic is it that there’s more appreciation for American roots in EUROPE than in the US? Dad Horse might be one of many European bands we see crop up in the coming years. Love the German accent here, glad he didn’t try to hide it.
2. Old Red Shed–Another Round: Great song from a band whose about to put out their first album Country Fury on Arjuna Records. Get in on the ground floor with these guys and watch them rise, they’re great!!!
3. Black Eyed Vermillion & Andy Gibson–Death Don’t Have No Mercy: Not my favorite BEV track ever, but a great example for those who think Gary Lindsey is all blood and guts, just how soulful he can be. And Andy Gibson, well, he is the master. Our generation’s Tompall Glasser. Hats off!
4. Bob Wayne–Ain’t No Diesel Trucks in Heaven: INSTANT CLASSIC! Bob Wayne proves once again that he is the best lyric writer in underground country, and maybe in current country period with this Cash-eque song tastefully arranged and witty. Great song!
5. Rachel Brooke–Closer Still: BEST TRACK OF THE ALBUM! Amazing. Rachel’s voice is somewhere between sublime and perfection. I said in my review of A Bitter Harvest:“Rachel has a big bag of tricks, and though this album highlights some that have never been seen before, there are more that my ear yearns for that I know are lurking within her. She can tear into bluegrass.” Well this is Rachel tearing into bluegrass. A++
6. Ted Russell Kamp–My Heart Has a Mind Of Its Own: Shooter Jennings’s bass player is more than just Shooter Jennings’s bass player. This song highlights his tight songwriting skills and a strong, soulful, smoky voice.
7. Ronnie Hymes–Sea of Sin: Good song from the best artist on the Pint of Happiness Record Label.
8. Joey Allcorn–Gone, But Not Forgotten Blues: An excellent neo-traditionalist artists that seems so easily “forgotten,” and I am to blame as much as any. A solid track.
9. Those Poor Bastards–The Minister’s Doom: The Kings of Gothic country never cease to amaze me with how deep their bag of tricks is. This track isn’t for everybody, just like Those Poor Bastards isn’t. But it nonetheless exemplified Lonesome Wyatt’s adeptness at arrangement, and his expertise at setting a mood to tell a story in.
10. Dave Smith and the Country Rebels–Price to Pay: This song may come across as “too mainstream” for some, but I personally think we need more accessible artists in this scene, and Dave & The Rebels prove why. Fun, tight song.
11. Last False Hope–$2 Pints: Gothic punkgrass from the mastermind of the Outlaw Compilation himself: Jashie P and a few close friends. When I first heard this track, I was amazed at the complexity and depth of songwriting, and how clean and pro it sounded. I guess I had just always envisioned Jashie as more of a hack . Seriously, good song, and keep your eyes out for a full length release from them coming soon.
12. Izzy and the Kesstronics–Gotta Do What I Wanna Do: Nothing replaces seeing Izzy and the boys live. Their energy level and astuteness are mindblowing. But this track comes very close at bottling that live energy. It’s a goofy song, but it’s what they do. You may hate Izzy Zaidman, but the simple fact is he’s a better musician than you are, and probably gets laid more often too.
13. The Fisticuffs–The Ballad of Bill Blizzard: We can’t forget that we owe the roots of our roots to the folks in the British Isles over the pond. This is a band worth checking out if you like an Irish attitude with a punk approach.
14. The Boomswagglers–Run You Down: LOVE THIS SONG! Only reason this isn’t my favorite song on the album is because Rachel Brooke is hotter, but The Boomswagglers are one of the best kept secrets in this scene. Crude, dirty, lo-fi, but their songwriting prowess is undeniable, and this might be the best song they’ve ever cut. Hopefully these boys can keep their asses out of the pokey and we’ll hear much more from them in the future. This is one of those songs that you love the first time you hear, and you play it over and over. A++!!
15. Roger Alan Wade–Breakfast At Audrey’s: Just the name Roger Alan Wade adds legitimacy to this album, and this song adds a solid singer/songwriter track with endless soul. What I really like about this song is it is clearly just Roger and a mic. You can even hear him flip the paper the verses are on while he sings. Some artists spend thousands of dollars trying to bottle that raw sound, and Roger did it just by being himself. Good track!
16. Little Lisa Dixie–Cheating Games: If I was going to cheat on my music love Rachel Brooke, it would be with Little Lisa. This song has a good slow grooving rockabilly feel to it. Little Lisa has enough talent that she should take her music to the next level, and proves that WOMEN are a big and beautiful part of this music revolution.
17. .357 String Band–Restless Man Blues: Known for bluegrass, this is a pretty straight country-feeling tune. Not their greatest track ever, but a solid offering.
18. Six Gun Britt–Hard Habit To Break: Damn. Six Gun could melt a rock. She is just amazing, and this is a beautiful, sad song. Every time I hear Six Gun sing, it makes me angry. That’s right. Because in a perfect world she would be a superstar. Her talent is that worthy. And if her music wallows in obscurity for the rest of time, what an atrocity that would be. If you’re reading this right now, consider yourself deeply blessed, because you’re one of the few who knows who Six Gun Britt is.
19. Hellbound Glory–Livin’ On Pabst Blue Ribbon: Leroy Virgil is the fastest rising star in Insurgent country, and that is the fault of his unbelievably adept songwriting, built on a solid foundation of REAL country appreciation and study. All one hell of a backing band, and Hellbound Glory might be the best apostles for REAL country we have right now. Not Hellbound Glory’s best, but a good, fun song.
20. The Goddamn Gallows–Waitin’ Around to Die (live): Great cover of the Townes Van Zant classic spiced with the Gallow’s gotic circus freak sow punk billy grass that is all their own. SEE THESE GUYS LIVE BEFORE YOU DIE!
21. Joe Buck Yourself–Big River (live): This song comes from a recording Jashie P did of an entire Joe Buck concert in Chicago a while back. He played the whole show at the end of one of his podcasts, and I listened to it probably a dozen times, and it remains my favorite recorded Joe Buck experience, more than his albums. Joe Buck is just such a unique experience live, I think that is what his next release should be, a live CD.
22. Lucky Tubb & The Modern Day Troubadours–Thanks A Lot (live): Lucky has a spellbinding singing cadence that is all his own. It’s there in his recorded material, but even more present live. He’s dripping with talent, and puts the “traditionalism” back in neo-traditional. Good track. Love the steel guitar.
#5 Roger Alan Wade–Breakfast At Audrey’s
#4 Six Gun Britt–Hard Habit To Break
#3 Bob Wayne–Ain’t No Diesel Trucks in Heaven
#2 The Boomswagglers–Run You Down
#1 Rachel Brooke–Closer Still
If you’re anything like me, if I want to hear some new music, you sure aren’t going to find me sniffing around CMT or burying your nose in the latest Rolling Stone. No, I’m likely going to be looking to the past, not the future. And man, what a thrill it is when you find a vein of music you’ve never heard before that unlocks months of new music for you to explore.
The little town I was living in at the time, Ashland, OR, people liked to rave about “Maddox Beef.” There was a farm just east of town that everyone knew as the Maddox farm. Little did I know that a woman that you can trace back some of the very foundations of country music to, someone who was making country before it was even called that, was buried in that town. And that this woman had a huge impact on rock n’ roll as well. And that this woman and her brothers were also the first to blend the two sounds into what today we call rockabilly, and that they were the first band to use the term “Outlaw” to refer to their music.
Rose Maddox has been called the Grandmother of Rockabilly, The Queen of West Coast Country, Miss Boogie, the Original Hillbilly Filly, and many more I’m sure, and her impact on modern music cannot be understated.
Rose and her brothers moved from Boaz, Alabama during the Depression era to California in search for work. The story goes that one day Rose’s brother Fred while working in a cotton field sat down on his sack, tired and frustrated, and proclaimed to the rest of the family, “We’re going into the music business.” The family called his bluff, and the band became known as the “Alabama Outlaws,” with Fred on bass, Cal on rhythm guitar, and 11-year-old Rose singing. They played weekday mornings from 6:30 to 7:00 on KTRB in Modesto, CA, sponsored by Rice’s Furniture Store.
Later in 1939 they would win a sponsorship by Anacin Pain Reliever at the Sacramento Fair and sign a contract with the McClatchy Broadcast Network that broadcast their music all over the West Coast.
“We were called hillbilly singers – not country – then.” Rose recalls. “No, none of this country music then. People just called us hillbilly. It took people in our field years and years just to get to the point where we were called country singers.”
During WWII Fred and Cal joined the armed services, and when they got back in 1947, younger brothers Don and Henry joined the band, Rose started playing some fiddle, and they began to go under the name “The Maddox Brother’s and Rose.” The group dropped their small label, called Four Star Records, and signed to Columbia. About this time is when Rockabilly was born, as the group mixed elements of their “hillbilly” or country music, with “boogie woogie,” later known as rock n’ roll.
Their up tempo, slap bass rhythm, and electric guitar blended with traditional hillbilly sounds was something that had never been heard before. It is where Rockabilly, or “country boogie” came from, but elements of it would also go into making what we now know as traditional country and rock n’ roll.
“People tell me that I was one of the first women to sing what I sang – country boogie.” Rose says. “I guess I was. There was no rock ‘n’ roll in those early days, before 1955. Only country boogie.”
By the mid 50′s The Maddox Bros. & Rose were touring coast to coast, and rockabilly music was an all out craze. The band played on the Louisiana Hayride, and toured with Elvis. Elvis’s bass player, Bill Black, looked up to Rose’s brother Cal as a mentor, and they played similar styles. As rock n’ roll was being formed, The Maddox Bros. & Rose were right there. They also played the Grand Ole Opry, the Las Vegas Strip, toured with Marty Robbins, and even Hank Williams.
In 1957 the band broke up, but Rose Maddox stayed on Columbia Records, making albums and releasing singles. She became known as “Miss Boogie,” and Rose was who every aspiring rockabilly or rock n’ roll female singer learned the craft from. You can hear the same rockabilly singing style that people like Wanda Jackson perfected in Rose’s early solo stuff:
“Kitty Wells would stand up there and not even move,” says Johnny Whitesides, who wrote a biography on Rose. “Rose would get on stage and high-kick and shimmy-shake. That drove people crazy.”
One of Rose’s more rockin’ tunes was called Wild Wild Young Men.
Emmylou Harris has stated that Rose and her brother’s combination of repertoire, stage presence and rural heritage helped make many more people aware of country music, and that Rose never received the recognition she deserved because of “a reluctance in American society to celebrate the value of white country and roots music.”
Rose Maddox had an indelible mark on country music, AND rock n’ roll, and virtually invented rockabilly. That is why it is a shame that the Country Music Hall of Fame has yet to recognize her, and it lends credence to the idea that there is a bias against country performers from the West Coast.
Man. If you like REAL/Underground country music, than this upcoming compilation from the Outlaw Radio Chicago podcast should get you pitching a tent in your music pants. This compilation is going to include ALL PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED MATERIAL. And the names are a who’s who of the underground movement. Check out this laundry list of contributors:
- Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies
- .357 String Band
- Six Gun Britt
- The Dad Horse Experience
- Izzy and the Kesstronics
- Lucky Tubb and the Modern Day Troubadours
- Ol’ Red Shed
- Ted Russell Kamp
- Dave Smith and the Country Rebels
- Black Eyed Vermillion
- Little Lisa Dixie
- The Boomswagglers
- Joey Allcorn
- Rachel Brooke
- Last False Hope
- Slackeye Slim
- The Fisticuffs
And there might be more to come from that!
At the moment it is slated to come out in April 2010, and the cost will ONLY be around $8.00. The idea is just to recoup the capitol to put out to make the CD’s, and help promote the artists, so this is not some for-profit hosing. Can you imagine pop country doing this? This again proves that Jashie P. of Outlaw Radio is a man of integrity and good ideas, and that as a community, the REAL country movement is stronger than most, if not all. Artists are ponying up the songs, Outlaw Radio is ponying up the dough and time to make it happen, and I’m sure you will pony up for a copy.
I’m usually not much for compilations, but this CD is already near the top of my list for most anticipated 2010 releases in an already VERY strong field.
Outlaw Radio is heard every Tuesday night at 9 PM Central, and all the shows are archived the next day at savingcountrymusic.com/outlaw-radio. This week Pearls Mahone will be co-hosting, and he will be debuting a song from the new Jayke Orvis project.
When I heard that Izzy Zaidman, former lead guitar player for Wayne “The Train” Hancock was starting a new band, I was conflicted. Izzy was fired from Hancock’s band for assaulting steel guitar player Tony Locke, and when I spoke with Hancock in August, he said Izzy had been “black balled from the scene.” BUT, though Tony was the one who came up on the losing end of the fight, Wayne made it sound like both men were at least equally as culpable in the situation.
My stance from the beginning was that it is none of our business what happened, and talking about it can only descend into making assumptions and side taking. I am about the music. Izzy is one of the best guitar players in the underground roots scene, and this can’t be denied. Still, Wayne Hancock is a legend in that same scene, and his words must be respected. So I walked into this show with this conflict buzzing through my head.
Izzy and the Kesstronics could have let me out easy by just not being that good. I could have forgotten the whole Hancock/Izzy/Tony Locke situation and moved on. But the band was good. They were real good. In fact as far as talent, they might be one of the best new bands this year, if not the best. I have to temper that by saying they are definitely more rockabilly than country, but they fit nicely in that far but still connected branch of the underground country world that includes people like The Reverend Horton Heat, Rosie Flores, Brian Setzer, etc.
Izzy and the Kesstronics is made up of four ringer musicians. I never saw Izzy with Wayne Hancock, and it was hard to visualize him there because Izzy is just too good of a guitar player, too good of a front man, and too good of a songwriter to play second fiddle to anyone. And having said that, the Slovene drummer, Gasper Bertoncelj was a show stealer. Simply put, Izzy and the Kesstronics were an amazing, mind blowing, high energy, intense band that didn’t let up for one second.
Again, this wasn’t much of a twang thang, but you still had a similar feeling in the room. It was helped along by the presence of the Bullfiddle Daddy Dan Enriquez sporting a Hank III shirt. Dan played upright bass for Wayne Hancock around ’02-’03, and was responsible for introducing Wayne to my favorite lead guitar player for Hancock of all time, Eddie Biebel. Dan sat in for a few songs with the band, and was a hell of a good guy to hang out with.
I could see how Izzy could be playing right into the hand of the Izzy haters, basing himself out of Brooklyn, the pompador, the racy lyrics of the “single” off the new album, “24/7.” I don’t know that I would want Izzy to date my sister, but from a musical standpoint, Izzy and the Kesstronics are superb, and I would go watch them live again, and again.
Izzy has “IT”; the thing it takes to be a successful front man. He has a commanding stage presence: something about the way be plays on the back of the pickup, and the way he commands the audience from the stage. I hate to break it to the Izzy haters, but if they keep writing songs, playing out, and cutting albums, there’s no stopping Izzy and the Kesstronics.
Listen to an interview with Izzy and the Kesstronics on Outlaw Radio Episode 69.
Izzy sitting in with opening band “Step It Up and Go” fronted by a badass rockabilly girl Nikki, and the owner of the venue Johnny B playing bass.
Izzy and the Kesstronics:
We all Fall Down:
Well tonight is a pretty big night in podcast land. First I am happy to announce that one of my favorite podcasters, Tim Pop of Tim Pop Live is debuting a spanking new podcast tonight called Rebel Rouser Country. It is going to air weekly on realpunkradio.com, Tuesdays at 7 PM EST.
And for his first show Tim Pop is going to treat us to a Hank Williams tribute, which only seems fitting. Tim Pop has been a big supporter of the Reinstate Hank movement, and though he’s always been a punk podcaster first, he was one of the FIRST to recognize the cross appeal of REAL country music and the punk scene.
Can’t tell you how excited I am about this show.
Izzy is the former lead guitar player for Wayne “The Train” Hancock and played all of the lead guitar on Wayne’s latest album Viper of Melody. He was kicked out of the band in April after an altercation with steel guitar player Tony Locke. Whose fault the fight was depends on who you talk to, but we can all agree that Tony, who was put in the hospital, received the worse end.
Izzy is a wildly talented guitar player without question, and so far what I have heard of the new band is good stuff. But when I interviewed Wayne Hancock in August, he told me Izzy was black balled from the scene. So the big question is, will Izzy’s reputation precede him? We might get some answers tonight, and I have a copy of the album on the way and will be seeing them live myself in a couple of weeks. If Outlaw Radio doesn’t throw him some hard balls, I just might have to.
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