The Metamodern rise of Sturgill Simpson could be classified as meteoric, and his dramatic ascent in the last few months is virtually unparalleled in the modern country music world for an independent artist. Amidst the swelling crowds, the high praise, and far flung accolades, let’s look back at Sturgill Simpson, and take a moment to reflect on how he got here.
Shakey Graves is quickly becoming an inspiring independent roots music success story and in a big way, despite what seem to be his best efforts to remain as unassuming, humble, and non-commercial as possible, while people gladly shove dollar bills at him. But 2014 promises to see a sea change from this rising roots artist. He’s assembled a band to take his song craft to the next level.
Lake Street Dive is a neotraditional, throwback group that blends elements of jazz, roots, Motown, and other smoke-filled, bluesy and soulful influences that both awaken the spirit in classic American music while still cleverly residing within its own little niche of the current zeitgeist. Aside from the style of Lake Street Dive which is so immediately inviting to culture thirsty ears….
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.
Welcome to Saving Country Music’s 2013 Pickathon LIVE blog! We will out at Pickathon all weekend, leaving our thoughts, posting pics, and other bits of information from the fest all weekend. Below you can watch a LIVE stream from the festival’s primary stages, but at any given time, multiple performances might be going on, so check below that in the live blog section for other activities transpiring at Pickathon.
Announced a few days ago, “VIP meet & greet packages” are being offered at many of Shooter’s upcoming appearances, including at the Muddy Roots Festival this late August. What do you get for your $85? A T-shirt, a tote bag, 5 guitar picks (that all grand total will cost Shooter less than $12-$15 wholesale), and this is my favorite one, an “Invitation to pre-show private shopping experience.”
The 2013 Pickathon Festival in Happy Valley, Oregon just outside of Portland has announced their 2013 lineup, and it is a doozy. The roots festival that specializes in breaking down barriers between styles, tastes, and scenes, as well as being one of the most environmentally-friendly festivals in the entire world, outdoes themselves for their 15th season by releasing their most stellar lineup yet.
Where 2011 felt like a high water mark year for live performances and an average year for recorded projects, 2012 feels vice versa. When I look back on 2011, it seemed like there were moments I experienced that I will never top the rest of my life. 2012 is the year that some albums and songs were released that may never be topped. Still there were a quite a few memorable performances worth noting.
I have been struggling to write this article for almost two years, but have been putting it off because there’s some hard things to say, and I didn’t want to “talk down” a movement that was already trying to deal with pretty alarming trends. But I think that especially now, zooming out and trying to be honest and critical in a constructive way is important, because there is positively no doubt that underground country is dying.
They’re like a perfect recipe that includes all of your favorite ingredients, though you can’t taste any of them individually in the end result because they’re blended and mixed so well. Gothic, poetic Americana, Gospel, and strait-laced country elements, they are all interlaced harmoniously with a broody pall cast over everything for a cohesive sound and an immersing experience.
The thing I am most thankful for when it comes to Pickathon is that in this age of music and cultural mypoia, where technology and media that intuitively should give us access and awareness to so much more seem to instead be fueling the narrowing of the music reality tunnel, Pickathon works to erode music myopia by filtering off the cream of many different scenes and styles of music and offering them all in one place.
From the outside looking in, one may look at the lineup of The Muddy Roots Festival for example, and wonder how all these bands could all be booked right beside each other and it work seamlessly. This illustrates the dramatic sonic and geographical diversity that goes into creating what we know now as the underground country roots, or “Muddy Roots” world.
Farmageddon Records, home to such roots acts as Rachel Brooke, Jayke Orvis, and The Goddamn Gallows, has announced they’re throwing a full-scale, 3 day festival this summer, July 20-22, just outside of scenic West Yellowstone, Montana, behind the Longhorn Saloon on Hebgen Lake.
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.
Certainly Pickathon is an expensive festival in a severe corner of the country (just outside of Portland, OR), and these natural barriers will always keep some from being able to attend. But as far as creating the best environment to allow creativity to happen, and a model for other festivals and public events to learn and be inspired from, Pickathon has no peer…
By sea, by plane, by land (or as Pickathon would prefer it, by carpool or public transportation) if you can make it to the Pendarvis Farm just outside of Portland, OR, you should make being a participant in this year’s Pickathon Festival a priority this weekend. But if you can’t, you can still participate, and still be insipred by the sustainable model Pickathon has created for it’s patrons, performers, and community.
Whitey Morgan and his bass player Jeremy Mackinder have a very similar symbiotic relationship that made the pairings of Waylon Jennings and his drummer Ritchie Albright, Willie Nelson and his drummer Paul English, into such successful, productive duos: a working relationship that just works, where creativity can flourish while nuts and bolts tasks still get done. During SXSW I sat down with the pair for a chat.
The Pickathon Festival, Aug 5-7 out in Portland, OR boasts of having “The best festival experience in the country.” And having been a participant of it in 2009, I can vouch personally for this bold statement. But Pickathon and others don’t throw this statement out to create a rabid desire for tickets with the idea of shattering previous attendance numbers in a yearly cash grab. . .
Indie doesn’t really have its own traditions, its own infrastructure like country, blues, or even Texas music. And in this music climate of massive contraction, this is not the time to be creating new infrastructure that may not be sustainable moving forward. So the solution appears to be to incorporate existing infrastructure that was built years ago for roots and country artists, ostensibly squeezing the support for these types of artists out of the picture.
Sure, the attrition is slow and calculated.But over time, as you look at the yearly schedules for things like Austin City Limits, or ACL Fest, or Pickathon…
…production can only go so far. There’s no meat here, no body. No soul, no blood, no deep roots–just aping and parody that is orchestrated, arranged, and packaged very well. I keep listening, waiting for those one or two songs that will cling to me so I can use them to buoy together an affinity for this project, but they haven’t come.
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