Friday, June 27, 2014

Album Review: Carolina Story - Chapter II

I missed Chapter I from Carolina Story but will be revisiting the dual after listening to the followup EP: Chapter II. Apparently Chapter I dealt with courtship and Chapter II marriage, but regardless this couple has great chemistry, starting with their harmonies and down to penning interesting songs - see Crash and Burn. The EP was produced by GRAMMY award-winning producer Blake Chancey and includes several stellar Nashville-based musicians: Chad Cromwell on drums, bass player Michael Rhodes, Billy Panda on guitar, steel player Dan Dugmore, and award-winning artist/songwriter Darrell Scott on mandolin/acoustic guitar/bouzouki. Yes, that Darrell Scott. Quite a cast. This one deserves some Arkansas Cynthiana from Chateux Aux Arc. Cheers.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Album Review: Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds In Country Music

Sturgill Simpson is the new face of country music. Or at least he should be. I thought High Top Mountain was an excellent album, but his latest, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, is even better. Just listen to that authentic voice and sound on Turtles on the Way Down or Life of Sin. The later is pure honky-tonk and the former, well, how many countries songs image the world perched on the back of a turtle and mention aliens.  The next track, Living the Dream, is my favorite - just listen. And keep going, there's story telling, a truckers road song, jam-band material, and much more excellent material. Pair with Woodford Reserve Bourbon (The Woodford Reserve Distillery) from Simpson's hometown of Versailles Kentucky. Cheers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Album Review: Cooley Comes Alive with The Drive-By Truckers English Oceans

PHOTO CREDIT: David McClister
It's been over a decade since I jumped on The Drive-By Truckers wagon and although the band cranks out a new release almost every year or two, they never seemed to match the initial thrill of hearing Decoration Day or Brighter Than Creation's Dark. Until now. One listen to English Oceans and it is winner. Could be all the adversity the band's been through the last few years with bassist and songwriter Shonna Tucker, departing the band after eight years and the tragic passing of long time merchandise manager and sometime player Craig Lieske.

Normally in a DbT album, Patterson Hood provides most of the songwriting with Mike Cooley contributing a couple, but for there's an equal split. And even though the dual pen their songs separately there's a nice balance between their individual songs - both musically and lyrically. There's less of Hood's storytelling and more of Cooley's philosophical undertones - even in Hood's songs. See the final track, Grand Canyon, Hood's tribute to Lieske. The new DbT lineup consists of Hood and Cooley, Brad Morgan (drum), Patterson Hood, Jay Gonzalez (keyboards and Guitar), and Matt Patton (bass). You will find me in the crowd this Thursday (6/26) at Baltimore's Rams Head Live. Pair with Athen's Terrapin Beer Company. Cheers.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Album Review: Mingo Fishtrap - On Time

I just went through a streak of music that just really didn't match my palette, so it was a great refresher to receive the latest from the Austin based funk-soul band Mingo Fishtrap.  "On Time" is timeless, classic 60's and early 70s soul and funk. The horns are uplifting, searing guitar, tight harmonies - what is not to like. Actually if this CD doesn't move you, emotionally and physically, then somethings wrong with you. "Mingo Fishtrap are Roger Blevins, Jr. on lead vocals and guitar; Dane Farnsworth on vocals, organ, and keyboards; Chip Vayenas on vocals and drums; Mikel Urdy on percussion; Roger Blevins, Sr. on bass; Steve Butts on trumpet; Dan Bechdolt on tenor and alto saxophone; and Zol Waterhouse on trombone".  I want to see these guys with JJ Grey & Mofro. Time to click the repeat button; I'm feeling Uncle Billy's Brew & Que with these guys, but they will also be at Wolf Hills Brewing Company in Abingdon next weekend. Cheers.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Key to the Highway - Phil & Dave Alvin cover Big Bill Broonzy in Common Ground

I was introduced to The Blasters music in the late 1980's, a couple years after Dave & Phil Alvin had parted ways - but to this day - listen to The Blasters Collection monthly if not weekly. And Dave Alvin's solo CDs are always within easy reach. Thus, it is time to celebrate that the brothers have found Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy - the early bluesman that influenced dozens of later blues and rock musicians and is best known for "Key to the Highway".

The CD was released June 3rd and I was able to listen to several early song releases as well as catch the brother's appearance with Mojo Nixon on Outlaw Country. The brothers resolved to cover Broonzy after Phil's death experience (yes, he flat-lined) in 2012 while in Spain since the bluesman is one subject they never argue about. During the interview they mentioned how Broonzy not only influenced Muddy Waters, but also the folk musicians of the early 1960s. He was also the first blues-man to venture to Europe and have a sustained success - where he influenced the skiffle bands and guitarists Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.

The brothers cover Big Bill Broonzy in their own style, giving them a Blasters rockabilly edge - just check out "Feel So Good".  The brothers distinct voices add more flavor when they alternate vocals - "Key to the Highway" - and the musicianship is first rate. Dave's half Resonator guitar is pretty cool looking. "Tomorrow" and "Trucking Little Woman" are other favorites. Joining the brothers on the CD are The Blasters’ pianist Gene Taylor and bass and drum duties where split between Bob Glaub and Don Heffington on one hand and Dave's band mates Brad Fordham and Lisa Pankratz from The Guilty Ones.  Pair with Progress Brewing, Downey California's closest brewery. Cheers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Patrick Sweany - Close to the Floor & Summer Shows

I recently received an email from a publicist for Patrick Sweany which lead me to revisit his 2013 release Close to the Floor. If you digg electric blues guitar, this is the guy for you: whether blues guitar, slide,  or fingerstyle. His vocals are deep and rustic - perfect for the genre; and his songwriting - highly original. Check out "Working For You" and I love "Bus Station " - Awake at 4:40 is a bad place to be. And the guitar in "Deep Water", "Just On Night", or for that matter the entire release.

Esquire Magazine recently featured this video and Sweany appeared on Music City Roots late last night.  This summer Sweany will appear at the Eureka Springs Blues Weekend; Red, White & Blues Festival; Hullabaloo Music Festival; and the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival; and numerous venues across the U.S.. Pair with