If you’re overlooking the world of bluegrass and what Billy Strings is accomplishing, a malevolent blind spot has infiltrated your point of view. After all, bluegrass is the vessel for the oldest forms of country, and Billy Strings is adhering to it, while somehow pushing it forward like never before in its nearly 80 years of existence.
A review of Jamey Johnson’s new album The Guitar Song is coming, but since every time the words Jamey and Johnson are mentioned a brew ha ensues, I hope with this to get some of the drama and positioning statements out of the way so the review can purely be about my take on the album, and not the sideshow the mention of his name creates.
Justin Townes Earle’s Thursday night (10-16-10) performance at Radio Radio in Indianapolis apparently went horribly wrong, with Earle drinking heavily on stage, getting in verbal altercations with the audience and venue staff, reportedly trying to start fights and breaking things, and eventually taking it outside where he continued to taunt audience members until he was eventually arrested.
I noticed this for the first time last year, that as the birthday of Hank Williams approached, people were looking at it more than just a bulletin you would pass along on social network sites. It felt like a full blown observance, maybe even a quasi-holiday. And the days leading up to it, there was anticipation.
The upper Midwest will be getting it hard and heavy in the next month or so. In a surprisingly quick turnaround, Hank III, whose still has a few more dates on his East Coast tour, will be heading out again October 10th for 16 dates and possibly more to come. Also Jayke Orvis, Rachel Brooke, and James Hunicutt will be leaving on a Midwest tour of their own…
What set me off was the introduction. And when I say “set me off,” I mean it hit my ears like an unprovoked insult. With a couple of uninformed, arrogant, and belittling sentences, the awesome legacies of dozens of New York-based folk artists were reduced to a trifle in such an irresponsible manner, I could palpably feel the anger pulsing through my veins and I lost a night’s worth of sleep…
In some of his songs the ambiguity of the lyrics allows them to hit your brain and bend to your own life’s experiences and needs. It’s like a cure all. Normally in an album review I would list certain songs, talk about them, compare them with each other and other songs for other artists. I would pick out favorite tracks, and talk about the weak ones to prove my objectivity. But with Possessed this seems like folly. There are no weak tracks.
…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.
In a time that calls for bold ideas, fresh blood, and innovation, country has decided to stick even more vehemently to their unimaginative formulas, while cutting costs ahead of unnecessary contraction to keep ill-conceived infrastructure in tact. Country is not void of talent, far from it. It is void of ideas of how to mine and evaluate that talent, and then educate its consumers on what to listen for, like listening at all. I listened to Taylor’s performance, but could barely hear anything.
Jeremy Hickman, a ridiculously-talented flat-picking acoustic guitar player that can burn through bluegrass with the best of them. His speed is sick, and accompanied by soulful singing and unique takes on traditionals while mixing in a few originals here and there. Backed by Dave Hampton on bass and Aaron “The Kid” Alkire on mandolin, The Jeremy Hickman Band brings the traditional bluegrass hard and heavy.
Frequent readers here already know that what makes a country music Outlaw is not image, quite the contrary. It is an independent spirit that is unwilling to bend to popular trends or Nashville’s money-centric methods. However recently I spied a trend, a fashion trend if you insist, that spans the time line of the Outlaws that I think is interesting to note.
Last Rites of Ransom Pride, a movie written by Ray Wylie Hubbard, and starring Dwight Yoakam and Kris Kristofferson among others, is finally moving forward with distribution, with the LA Premier this Friday and Saturday and a slew of other dates following (see below for complete list).
And if you don’t see a town near you on the list, you can request the movie to come to your area at www.lastritesfilm.com…