Friday, January 31, 2014

Album Review: Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash - New Old Story

It's been five years of waiting patiently, and I'm excited to announce that the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash have released a new CD - New Old Story. I was informed about the release through early play on Sirius Outlaw Country and once Mark Stuart posted the SoundCloud embed, I've been listening through the BSOJC website almost every day. This is the best country music album I've heard early in this year and seriously competes with my favorites from 2013.  Rootsy or twangy, Stuart delivers through both upbeat honky-tonk, tex-mex, or waltzy ballads. This is real country music - heartfelt songs with a great backing band that plays the instruments in No Honky Tonks: pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin, and plenty of rockn' guitar. We have Alex Watts, David Berzansky, Mark Thomas, and Michael Faughnan to thank for that. The songs sometimes resembles some of the greats, Merle Haggard throughout; Leave the Lights On and Shaver; the title track and Dave Alvin. As the pioneers move on, Mark Stuart and the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash are there to fill the gap. Now, please just come East for a tour. Pair with Stuart's hometown brewery, Bakersfield's Lengthwise Brewing. Cheers.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Album Review: Annie Ford Band

We recently received a link from HearthPR to download the self titled debut CD from Annie Ford Band.  Ms. Ford currently resides in Seattle, but her early roots are in rural Virginia and this release encapsulates some of the traditions of old time music. But it is also a classic country sound with bits of pedal steel and rhythm guitar as well as some bluesy notes in some tunes. Ford's vocals are soothing and rhythmic; clean yet powerful. They are balanced with a talented set of musicians, including Ford on the fiddle, that support and integrate the vocals but do not overshadow. The CD is available at Bandcamp and the rhythmic, sultry Buick 1966 is available as part of the Trail Mix January 2014 from Blue Ridge Outdoors. Pair with Seattle's Pike Brewing Company -  a music friendly venue. Cheers.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The 2014 Grammy Results That Matter Most

Since here at we don't follow the Pop and Top 40 scene very closely, here are the Grammy results that we care about in the Alt-country, Blues, Rock, & Roots fields. Congratulations to Guy ClarkKacey Musgraves, Edie Brickell & Steve Martin, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Del McCoury Band, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience, Ziggy Marley, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Gypsy Kings, Vampire Weekend, Led Zeppelin, and all the other Grammy winners.

Best American Roots Song
Love Has Come For You
Edie Brickell & Steve Martin, songwriters (Steve Martin & Edie Brickell) Track from: Love Has Come For You
Label: Rounder; Publishers: LA Films Music/Brick Elephant Music

Best Americana Album
Old Yellow Moon
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Label: Nonesuch Records

Best Bluegrass Album
The Streets Of Baltimore
Del McCoury Band
Label: McCoury Music

Best Blues Album
Get Up!
Ben Harper With Charlie Musselwhite
Label: Stax

Best Folk Album
My Favorite Picture Of You
Guy Clark
Label: Dualtone

Best Regional Roots Music Album
Dockside Sessions
Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience
Label: Musicmatters Records

Best Reggae Album
Ziggy Marley In Concert
Ziggy Marley
Label: Tuff Gong Worldwide

Best World Music Album
Savor Flamenco
Gipsy Kings
Label: Knitting Factory Records

Live: Singing For Peace Around The World
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Label: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Best Rock Song
Cut Me Some Slack
Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic & Pat Smear, songwriters (Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear)
Track from: Sound City - Real To Reel
Label: RCA Records / Roswell Records; Publishers: MPL Communications, Inc./M.J.-Twelve Music/Murky Slough Music/Kobalt Music/Ruthensmear Music/Bug Music

Best Rock Album
Celebration Day
Led Zeppelin
Label: Swan Song/Atlantic

Best Alternative Music Album
Modern Vampires Of The City
Vampire Weekend
Label: XL Recordings

Best Country Song
Merry Go 'Round
Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Kacey Musgraves)
Track from: Same Trailer Different Park
Label: Mercury Records

Best Country Album
Same Trailer Different Park
Kacey Musgraves
Label: Mercury Records

Best Recording Package
Long Night Moon
Sarah Dodds & Shauna Dodds, art directors (Reckless Kelly)
Label: No Big Deal Records

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Album Review: Graham Colton - Lonely Ones

One of the regular shows I try to catch at Jammin' Java, my local music joint, is Graham Colton. Colton always attracts a good crowd and can guarantee an entertaining performance every show. He's back on tour (February 23rd at J.J.) in support of his just released CD, Lonely Ones. I purchased the full release yesterday and after listening for the entire day see that this former singer-songwriter has transitioned to a larger sound. Think of the psychedelic orchestration of The Black Keys paired with soft melodies of previous Colton releasess. The first track Mixed Up is where I got the Black Keys reference, and it continues with the next track, Born To Raise Hell, an interesting story of a serial killer - wrapped in many la la las. Hands Untied showcases both the larger sound balanced with a catchy melody that continues with the rest of the release. Taking a detour from my alt-country ways, I really enjoyed this CD - nice job Graham. Been pairing with a big Cabernet Franc from CrossKeys Vineyards & Estates. Cheers.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

CD Review: Girls Guns and Glory - Good Luck

This week I was able to catch up with an old friend, Chris Hersch, who I originally met when he was the banjoist for Oneside. When that band met their fatal end, he was acquired on waivers by Ward Hayden, who along with Paul Dilley (bass) and Josh Kiggans (perccussions) comprise the roots rock-country band Girls Guns and Glory. They tour constantly and fortunately the band route several times into the Washington D.C. area - this time at Georgetown's Gypsy Sally's. On any given evening you are bound to hear a range of music from Hank Williams or Chuck Berry to original songs that play tribute to country music's past - no contemporary Nashville pop here. I'm definitely a homey, but Chris plays a wicked guitar and Ward possesses a vocal style that matches that old time country sound. And these were all on display at Gypsy Sally's; who would have thought this sound came from a group of guys from Boston.

As a bonus, after the show Ward treated me to a copy of the band's latest release Good Luck, which I have listened to continually over the last two days.  The CD contains almost all original material reflecting a more rockin' side - perhaps due to producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel - who has also produced albums for Steve Earle and The Bottle Rockets. The first track, All the Way Up To Heaven, is a perfect example of this new sound - very tight, sharp vocals, and a unique mixture of rock and country. Be Your Man picks up the pace with some serious guitar; then some are pure fun (Shake Like Jello, Built for Speed), whereas others are serious ballads (One of These Days, Centralia, PA).  The later I remember hearing live and pays tribute to Chris and Paul's home state of eastern Pennsylvania and the abandoned coal mining town.The last three tracks are my favorites, the cover Rockin' Chair Money, UUU, and It's Your Choice - particularly this last song. Each are completely different but all integrate a tight sound and chemistry that the band seems to have developed over the past few years. Can't wait for their next stop to DC, until then Lucky Star remains in the CD cycle. Pair with Boston's Bully Boy Distillery. Cheers.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

CD Review: Clay McClinton - Bitin’ at the Bit

I've been listening to Clay McClinton for a few years now enjoying his rootsy-soul vocals that, at times, resemble his father Delbert McClinton - but mostly chart a separate path. And that trend continues with his upcoming release Bitin’ at the Bit - incorporating a style or sound that McClinton calls Texas gumbo. And there's a lot going on in these songs - some rock, alt-country and country ballads, blues, and plenty of Tex Mex.

The CD was reproduced by esteemed producer-songwriter Gary Nicholson who also co-wrote most of the material with McClinton. The exceptions are his father's Victim of Life’s Circumstances in which Delbert shares vocals, the oldie Just Dropped In - to See What Condition My Condition was In, and the bluegrass tune Poison Love. The backing band is worth the price of the CD in itself. McClinton and\or Nicholson have some friends as they acquired the services of guitarists Kenny Vaughan, Dan Dugmore and Colin Linden; percussionists Lynn Williams and Tom Hambridge; and bassist Steve Mackay — along with members of Clay’s touring band Jon Sanchez on guitar and Ed Friedland on bass. Then there's the role played by Joel Guzman on the accordion and organ - adding that Tex-Mex flavor to many of the songs.

The first two tracks Wildflowers and Stories We Can Tell are two upbeat, catchy songs that seem to be tributes to his native Texas and to life as a traveling musician. The next two tracks Beer Joint and Sound of a Small Town reflect simpler times with the former finding a partner in the cleverly written Hydrated: "I'm no nutritionist, but there's corn in alcohol and plenty of water in beer". You may recognize What a Little Bit of Love Can Do which was featured in the film, “Crazy Heart" and sung by Jeff Bridges. And don't miss the last track, Bound For Glory - which McClinton delivers in a powerful and soulful manner. This may be my favorite track - particularly with Guzman's contributions.

Bitin' at the Bit is scheduled for the February 18th 2014 release.  You cab probably grab an early copy at one of McClinton's performances - 'cause its worth getting now. Pair with some good Texas beer from Live Oak Brewing Company.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band Announces the Big Damn Roots Revolution Tour

We look forward to this tour from the Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 13, 2014) – Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is happy to announce The Big Damn Roots Revolution Tour, which will take the band throughout the U.S. this winter and spring.

With a reputation for their incendiary live shows, it seemed only natural for the Big Damn Band to hit the road again in support of Between the Ditches, their latest album. But this time, The Rev, Breezy & Ben will unleash their ferocious roots/blues explosion to the masses alongside some of their favorite artists for what is sure to be an unforgettably evening of roots music. Conceptualized by none other than the Reverend Peyton himself, The Big Damn Roots Revolution Tour is a musical event that will showcase today’s top roots artists in a whole new light.

Between the Ditches has been received with enthusiasm since its debut at #1 on the iTunes Blues chart week of release. They’ve received critical raves in the US and internationally, video play from CMT and MTVu, charting at both college and Americana radio and inclusion in the hit Showtime series Shameless starring William H. Macy.

Roaring out of the southern Indiana foothills, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band plays a brand of Americana and Blues that stands alone - Delta blues and hillbilly fervor combine with musical acuity sharp as razor wire. Their new album Between The Ditches is a chronicle of this lifestyle. Since it arrived in August, excellent reviews have appeared in publications like Vintage Guitar, Classic Rock Magazine, Alternative Press and Living Blues. Their fifth album celebrates the growl of a good truck engine, the fiercest passion for their country home and the importance of family.

Weds Feb 19 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
Thurs Feb 20 – Lexington, KY – Cosmic Charlie’s
Sat Feb 22 – Memphis, TN – Newby’s
Sun Feb 23 – Little Rock, AR – Juanita’s
Tues Feb 25 – Tulsa, OK – Tulsa Shrine
Weds Feb 26 – San Antonio, TX – Sam’s Burger Joint Music Hall
Thurs Feb 27 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Garage
Fri Feb 28 – Austin, TX – The Belmont
Sat March 1 – Houston, TX – Warehouse LIVE
Fri March 7 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
Weds March 12 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze
Fri March 14 – Chicago, IL – Reggie’s Rock Club
Sat March 15 – Ferndale, MI – Magic Bag Theatre
Sun March 16 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop
Sat April 5 – Kansas City, MO – Middle Of The Map Fest
Sat April 12 – Clarksdale, MS – New Roxy Theatre
Fri May 2 – St. Augustine, FL – Gamble Rogers Folk Festival
Sun May 25 – Logan, OH – Duck Creek Log Jam
Sat June 14 – Delton, MI – Buttermilk Jamboree
Sat August 2 – Mammoth Lakes, CA – Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza
Sat August 9 – Kokomo, IN – Kokomo Pavillion

Stay connected for the latest:

For more information, please contact:
Jamie Coletta – (323) 790-0990 –

Monday, January 13, 2014

Album Review: Chase Gassaway - Certain Circles

If I ever found the courage to write songs, Chase Gassaway, would be the songwriter I would try to emulate; he is the antithesis of the mindless pop-country crap now in fashion. His upcoming release - Certain Circles - is a must listen as it contains songs with meaning, songs that lead to self-inspection, and songs that inspire.  Coming at the beginning of a new year when most of us review the previous year and seek to make changes in the new, this Austin based musician provides some lessons. There are self-inspecting words such as: "when the conversation in your heart makes you question everything you are" or "I think I'm overrated, I have no excuse, nothing seems to make me inspired.." or  "when the ship goes down, who will you save, ...will the lifeboat hold all of your silver or all of your gold?"

Then there are the clever lyrics - "I don't need fast machines or TV screens if I have you" or "I've got stories that you will never know, some of them are mine, some of the better ones I stole" or "its got its bruises, everyone was earned, sometimes getting hurt is the only way you learn".

But there is also hope - "we can turn this thing around" and my favorite "there is nothing wrong for feeling good - everybody cries and everybody should but there's nothing wrong for feeling good". I couldn't have said it better myself. And I can't get the opening track Turn This Thing Around - out of my mind - great advice throughout the entire song - show them what you are worth and we can turn this thing around.

All these observations are wrapped in a folksy-pop sound that make the lessons entertaining.  Look out for the January 21st release. I'll be revisiting this CD throughout the year to see how I'm fairing. Pair with Austin based Argus Cidery. Cheers.

Friday, January 10, 2014

PBS History Detectives Investigate Music History

While working out I watched an interesting episode of History Detectives on PBS. The basic modus operandi of the show is that take an item of potential historical significance and research its importance and authenticity.The episode I watched was titled Duke Ellington Plates and focused on whether printing plates found in a Brooklyn dumpster were the original plates for publishing Ellington's "Take the A Train." The investigation starts with the history of Ellington and his band, the composition of Take the A Train.", and explores the financial burdens required to support Ellignton and his co-horts. Very interesting - take a look. And while browsing the History Detectives site, I saw more musically inclined episodes such as Bob Dylan Guitar, Frank Zappa Collage, & Beatles Autographs. I'm hooked.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Album Review: The Farewell Drifters - Tomorrow Forever

While driving through the Shawangunk Wine Trail, exploring New York wine and beer, I listened to The Farewell Drifters soon to be released CD, Tomorrow Forever. Both the wine trail and music were new territory, musically because this is less a traditional bluegrass effort that I have become accustomed to by the band and more a refined acoustic pop CD. Normally I would turn away, but the bands vocal harmonies are as soothing as seeing the snow covered Shawangunk mountains. Just listen to Brother - my favorite track -  that and Bring 'em Back Around - the most rockn' song of the release. The songs are all original, written by Joshua Britt and Zach Bevill (Clayton Britt and Dean Marold round out the band), and is a nice listen, perfect for country roads.  Plus it's nice to heard guest fiddler Eamon McLoughlin again. Looking forward to seeing the band January 28th at Gypsy Sally's in Washington DC. Pair with Brimstone Hill Winery or Baldwin Vineyards Chardonnay.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Highballers - New Album and CD Release Party at IOTA

I've been falling The Highballers for a couple years now - completely enjoying their old school country sound and chuckling over entertaining lyrics and song titles. The Washington DC based band is back again with a new self titled CD and plenty more songs of drinkin', unruliness, and remorse plus great guitar work and vocal harmonies. This CD helped me through two long plane rides and a couple of stern looks as I laughed and sung the melodies to hushed passengers. I mean, who can't sing and laugh to I Need My Ass Kicked or Can't Stop Drinkin'.  Then listen to the beautiful vocals of Lula's Gone and the more serious songs such as  King of the Plains or Love Will Find You - classic country and harmonies.  Here's a pretty cool animated video of the former that should entice you to attend their CD Release Party at IOTA Club in Arlington, VA next Saturday January 11th. Pair with Catoctin Creek Distilling Company Roundstone Rye Whiskey.