32-year-old Owen Mays, known as the staunch country traditionalist of the underground country and roots movement, has died. Known for his blistering and honest songwriting, he reportedly passed away in his sleep in the early Wednesday morning hours (7-22). Owen was born and raised in south central Wisconsin in the small town of Cambria where he began playing guitar at the age of 16.
This isn’t any slick and polished nouveau bluegrass with lilting runs and brazen compositional poise, this is Stringbean and Grandpa Jones slapping away at strings while sucking on corn pipes trying to entertain folks on back porches and beyond. Unpretentious and fun, and fairly authentic to the Appalachian traditions, The Urban Pioneers will make you chuckle and strut, and see the timeless value in the old traditions of primitive country.
Call them the underground roots house band or the underground roots All-Star Band, either way the super couple of fiddle player Liz Sloan, and upright bass player (and banjo player, apparently) Jared McGovern have comprised, and do comprise the backbone of so many hard-working, road-weary roots bands, it’s a wonder they have any time to breathe, let alone record their own album.
Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band crashed their small tour bus Sunday night (1-12) while traversing the snowy Colorado roads in the midst of a 6 week Winter tour. Nobody was seriously injured, but members of the band suffered bumps & bruises and the bus was totaled. Anyone willing to sell, loan, barter, or otherwise procure a touring vehicle for the band is encouraged to contact them.
The greatest album, and the greatest recorded song will never be able to trump the truly live musical experience where music is shared in real time with both the artist and listeners. It is in this spirit that each year I assemble a list of the Best Live Performances to reinforce that as technology and the busying of life incrementally encroach upon us, we must remember that the live music show deserves its own attention and reverence.
.357 String Band, 2013, American Aquarium, Andrew Bird, Austin City Limits, Best Live Performances, Bob Wayne, Dirty River Boys, Eric Church, Gruene Hall, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jared McGovern, Jason Eady, Jason Isbell, Jayke Orvis, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Lincoln Durham, Liz Sloan, Patsy Cline, Pickathon, Punch Brothers, Red 11, The Crooks, The Mavericks, The White Horse, Tift Merritt, Turnpike Troubadours, Valerie June, XSXSW
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.
Billy Don BUrns, Django Reinhardt, Filthy Still, Hellbound Glory, Husky Burnette, James Hunnicutt, Jared McGovern, JB Beverley, Leroy Virgil, Leroy Virgil's guitar, Liz Sloan, Lone Wolf, Mike Fiedler, Olds Sleeper, Phillip Roebuck, Shore Road Tavern, Stevie Tombstone, Ten Foot Polecats, The Calamity Cubes
If you’re looking for an act that is still virtually unknown, one that is buried deep in the underground and that embodies the raw energy of the roots movement and not just a commercially-viable watered-down derivative, one whose active ingredient still works on even the most hardened of roots addicts, then Jayke Orvis and The Broken Band might be your drug.
.357 String Band, Alabama Shakes, Bless This Mess, Bob Wayne, Farmageddon Records, Hank Williams, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jared McGovern, Jayke Orvis, Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band, Jello Biafra, Joe Perreze, Liz Sloan, Punch Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Shovels & Rope, Sturgill Simpson, Weary Boys
The Farmageddon Records family suffered a grave loss last week when Richard Laferte II unexpectedly passed away Saturday, January 5th while visiting family and friends in Maine. Following a formal time of remembrance, the gathering turned to celebrating Richard’s life through music. The celebration included the reunification of 3 original members of the .357 String Band, Jayke Orvis, Derek Dunn, and Joseph Huber.
From all the music festivals I attended this summer, from South by Southwest this Spring, to all the other musical events intermixed throughout the year, few rival the magic that transpired Halloween night when Lucky Tubb and the Modern Day Troubadours pulled their tour van up to Johnny B’s in Medford OR all the way from Austin, to share a night of music with the legendary Don Maddox.
Tom VandenAvond is one of these wheel guys. They may not be the flashiest of artists, but when you sit back and study the music, you find these wheel guys are essential to it in so many ways; how everything seems to revolve around them. They are the trunk from which so much other music grows. Trace the veins of the music and you find that their songs and work create foundations and inspiration.
I think at this point it is pretty much a forgone conclusion that in 2012 we’re all going to die of death. You know, that whole Mayan thing. But I thought just to be on the safe side, just in case we all don’t die, we’ll probably want to listen to some music, so wouldn’t it be cool to know what some of your favorite artists have planned for 2012.
Adam Lee, Austin Lucas, Bob Wayne, Derek Dunn, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jayke Orvis, JB Beverly & the Wayward Drifters, Lone Wolf, Lonesome Wyatt, McDougall, Olds Sleeper, Peewee Moore, Possessed by Paul James, Rachel Brooke, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Roger Alan Wade, Ruby Jane, Slackeye Slim, Sunday Valley, Those Poor bastards, Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Willy Tea Taylor
2012 will go down as the year that the roots music revolution went transcontinental, as the Muddy Roots Festival heads over to the Old World to storm the beaches of Europe with a ridiculous lineup of talent. Though the festival is happening in Europe, it will mostly feature American acts.
.357 String Band, Bob Wayne, Cashman, Derek Dunn, Heinrich XIII, Hillbilly Moon Explosion, Hollowbelly, Honkeyfinger, James Hunnicutt, Jayke Orvis, Lucky Tubb, Molly Gege, Muddy Roots Festival, Reverend Deadeye, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, The Buckshots, The Hackensaw Boys, Tio Gringo, Tom VandenAvond, Wayne Hancock
When I sat down to name the top 10 live performances of 2011 as seen through my eyes, I didn’t know what a mess I was making for myself, and it wasn’t until then that I realized what a power packed year for live music it has been. My 10 stretched to 15 fast, and I’m still leaving many live acts out.
Austin Lucas, Bloodshot Records, Charlie Parr, Hank3, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jayke Orvis, Justin Townes Earle, Lukas Nelson, Marty Stuart, Micah Schnabel, Pickathon, Possessed by Paul James, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ruby Jane, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Sunday Valley, SXSW, The Goddamn Gallows, The Muddy Roots Festival, Two Cow Garage, Wayne Hancock, Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Willie Nelson
The two common threads that run through most of the candidates this year, is a progressive approach to the music, and poignancy in the message. These are changing and troubled times, and the songs that speak to us the deepest will act as the soundtrack for our 2011 memories for years to come.
99 Lives, Amanda Shires, City of Shame, Codeine, Ghost Bird, James Hunnicutt, Jason Isbell, Life Is Beautiful, Rachel Brooke, Run You Down, Scott Biram, The Boomswagglers, The Goddamn Gallows, Victory Song, Willy Tea Taylor
In 99 Lives, Hunnicutt creates a circle of wisdom through fearlessly conveying his personal, intimate experiences in life, and by intimating his fears and frailties, and his victories against them. Honesty is the benchmark of all great albums, and 99 Lives’s honesty is unchecked, complimented by the most powerful voice in all of independent country roots.
Caleb’s name deserves equal billing beside the other top shelf independent roots artists from across the country. And though you may have not heard of Caleb until recently, or just right now, the 40-year-old with flecks of gray hair sticking out from under his trucker hat has been touring and making music for 20 years now. It just has not always been music that bears his name.
As hard as I am on albums and artists, I am double hard on songs. An album can have it’s low points, a song can’t. And just like with the Best 2011 Albums So Far, the songs so far in 2011 present a weak field. But there a few good ones worth noting from Jason Isbell, James Hunnicutt, Jimbo Mathus, Amanda Shires, Austin Lucas, and Rachel Brooke.
As anti-Nashville and neo-traditionalist music was finding support in a grassroots audience on MySpace, many new bands and artists were beginning to jump on this bandwagon. I had heard of some of these new bands before, but when I went onto this Section 08 MySpace site, that is when it dawned on me, that there was massive movement of music brewing that had not been there a few years before.
.357 String Band, Bloodshot Bill, Bob Wayne, Dale Watson, Darren Dorlarque, Farmageddon Records, Hank III, James Hunnicutt, Jayke Orvis, JB Beverley & The Wayward Drifters, MySpace, Rachel Brooke, The Goddamn Gallows, Wayne Hancock
Jayke Orvis isn’t just a songwriter and mandolin player, he is a composer. When I first heard the song “Raise the Moon” on .357 String Band’s first album, I knew this was more than mere throwing words and chords together. “Dreadful Sinner” from his new album Its All Been Said is in the same vein, with tight arrangements in a composition-based approach that is more like classical music than anything.
Mandolin maestro Jayke Orvis is hitting the road once again as his own man, with help from some familiar faces. The former .357 Sting Band member, and occasional member of The Goddamn Gallows has roped in the greatness of James Hunnicutt, along with Joe Perreze on banjo and Fishgutz (The Goddamn Gallows) on bass, aka ‘The Broken Band’ for a tour through the South and Midwest starting mid January.