Split Lip Rayfield (+ some Willie Nelson news)

Some quick Willie Nelson news. I know many have been unimpressed with some of the more recent Willie work as he comes across as straining to stay relevant, but there are a couple of albums coming up that peaked my interest. The first is Willie and the Wheel, a collaboration between Willie Nelson, western swing group Asleep at the Wheel, and producer Jerry Wexler, due out in February.

The second is called Naked Willie, which includes remixes of recordings from 1966 to 1970, minus the Nashville overproduction of orchestras and backing vocals that were all the rage at the time, and pushed Willie out of Nashville and back to Texas. It is being done by Willie’s long time harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and is due out in March.

My music resolution for the year is to try to discover some new bands, and hopefully take all of y’all along with me. I don’t ignore people when they refer bands to me. In fact, keep ’em coming. But it might take some time to get to them all.

The first band I want to highlight is Split Lip Rayfield which I know a lot of you have been into for a while and I’m just discovering. This is a REAL, high octane bluegrass band from Wichita, and having been around for 14 years, they are wily veterans of the bluegrass scene.

To me REAL bluegrass has a few essential elements: Speed (tempo that is, though you can mix in slower songs to clean the palate), and themes that deal with the sin and salvation inherent in the culture of the American South. Bluegrass is also the jazz of country music, in regards that only musicians at the top of their craft can do it, and do it right. Just because you have a stand up bass or a mandolin in a band does not make it bluegrass. I’m happy to say Split Lip passes thee sniff test on all of my perquisites for good, REAL bluegrass.

Whenever I’m checking out a band, I not only listen to the music, but I also like to yonder on over to YouTube to see what they do live. Many times this can really sell you on a band, or expose them.

The following performance from Wichita’s Cotillion in 2006 highlights the energy, skill, and songwriting of one of the greatest bluegrass bands of our time. You may not have the time to watch it all know, but come back when you can and bite one or two off at a time. It’s worth it. Great performances and great interviews:

They will be on tour in February and in the Spring, so check out their MySpace site for dates.

Split Lip Rayfield Albums:

Split Lip Rayfield
In the Mud
Never Make It Home