Cover/Uncovered: Hesitation Blues

Posted by Payton | Posted in cover/uncovered | Posted on 05-12-2010

Tagged Under : , , , , ,

It’s been a while since my last Cover/Uncovered. For the uninitiated, it’s a feature where I explore a song in which I first heard the covered version – and subsequently learned of the original, or ‘uncovered’ it.

This installment explores a blues/bluegrass standard that’s just about as close to ‘traditional’ as you can get. Written in 1914 and has since gathered more than thirty verses, the refrain being the only consistent part.

How long have I got to wait

Can I get you now

Or must I hesitate?

My introduction to the song came from Old Crow Medicine Show’s 2001 album Eutaw. The band treats the song fairly traditionally, Ketch Secor’s fiddle carrying the melody that will become familiar soon enough. Willie Watson begins with a verse heard nowhere else:

I was born in England, raised in France. Aw, they sent the coathanger, wouldn’t send the pants.

but the second verse is present in nearly every version, and might just be my favorite:

I was raised in Alabama, born in Tennessee. If you don’t like my peaches, don’t you shake on my tree.

Cover: Old Crow Medicine Show - Hesitation Blues

 

Since finding the song, I’ve located quite of few live bootleg versions from some of my favorite artists. Scott Avett does what sounds like an impromptu version that reveals the often indiscernable lyrics. He begins with a common verse:

If the river was whiskey and I was a duck, I’d dive to bottom and I’d never come up.

Cover: The Avett Brothers - Hesitation Blues (live)

 

My favorite version from my library is performed by none other that Justin Townes Earle. Justin fingerpicks that lovely melody all while strumming the rhythm and delivering an impassioned performance. He includes a verse I’ve yet to hear elsewhere:

Now I ain’t the doctor, but I’m the doctor’s son. Mama, I can play the doctor ’til the doctor come.

Cover: Justin Townes Earle - Hesitation Blues (live)

 

Moving to some older recordings, we find the Mayor of MacDougal Street, Dave Van Ronk, doing his version of the staple from back in 1960. Blues legend Leadbelly included a recording of the song on what would become his last ever recordings, done in 1948.

Cover: Dave Van Ronk - Hesitation Blues
Cover: Leadbelly - Hesitation Blues

 

Most songs this old, with so little consistency within the lyrics can’t be traced back to any one writer. But the men that wrote ‘Hesitation Blues’ just so happened to be in the music publishing business. Billy Smythe, Scott Middleton, and Art Gillham formed a band in 1914, and while on the road, penned multiple verses to go along with the above-mentioned chorus. One of the earliest recordings of the song was done by Art Gillham, also known as The Whispering Pianist. His lyrics show that the song was always meant to be lighthearted and improvised:

I’m going down to the levee. Gonna make a rocking chair. If the blues don’t leave, gonna rock away from there.

I had a sweet mama, so bashful and shy. When she mends her underwear, she plugs the needle’s eye.

A doctor’s in love with my girl, they say. I got her eating apples just to keep him away.

You must love your neighbor, like the good book say. But that don’t mean to love her when the husband’s away.

Uncovered: Art Gillham - Hesitation Blues

Justin Townes Earle Download Code Giveaway!!

Posted by Payton | Posted in contest, free music | Posted on 01-27-2010

Tagged Under :

Just picked a winner for the last download giveaway – Congrats Jeanette!

Next up is #10 from my 2009 Album ListJustin Townes Earle’s Midnight At The Movies. This album was also the landslide winner of the first annual Bird List.

Once again, it’s easy. Simply click below or on the album cover above and enter your email address. A winner will be randomly chosen next Wednesday (2/3).

Click here to enter the contest
Contest complete – Congrats Tim!

The Lists: Top 50 Songs of 2009

Posted by Payton | Posted in best of 2009, lists | Posted on 01-12-2010

Tagged Under : , , , , , , , , ,

Finally, my first post of the new decade. After my ski trip, I was backed up with work, and I’ve had a lot of photos to edit. And for the second year in a row, the task of making my lists sort of drained the free-form fun out of what I do here. I’m ready to start finding new music as well as posting about some older stuff that had a hand in me starting this blog in the first place.

Truth be told, I wanted a little extra time to refine this list as it is quite large. So without further adieu, my Top 50 Songs of 2009:

50. Sunflower Rain – Ryan Adams
[purchase]
49. Dog Days Are Over – Florence and the Machine [purchase]
48. You Never Know – Wilco [purchase]
47. Sailor Song – First Aid Kit [purchase]
46. Ship Come In – Jonny Burke [purchase]
45. Give Me Time – Dawes [purchase]
44. – Brendan Benson [purchase]
43. Two Weeks – Grizzly Bear [purchase]
42. Goodbye Hollywood – JET [purchase]
41. Cry - Slaid Cleaves [purchase]
40. Don’t Come Calling – Stephanie Briggs [purchase]
39. Orion & Dog – Sea Wolf [purchase]
38. Boots Boy – Langhorne Slim [purchase]
37. Brother John - Middle Distance Runner [purchase]
36. The Guitar – Guy Clark [purchase]
35. In These Arms - The Swell Season [purchase]
34. Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare – Matt & Kim [purchase]
33. Cooperstown - The Felice Brothers [purchase]
32. Bells of Harlem – Dave Rawlings Machine [purchase]
31. Eager For Your Love – Tristen [purchase]
30. Nikorette – Conor Oberst & The MVB [purchase]
29. Champion Angel – The Low Anthem [purchase]
28. Lisztomania - Phoenix [purchase]
27. Heartbroken, In Disrepair – Dan Auerbach [purchase]
26. Round Here – Middle Distance Runner [purchase]
25. Ten Women – Conor Oberst & The MVB [purchase]
24. Hurtin’ You – Ben Kweller [purchase]
23. Smith Hill – Deer Tick [purchase]
22. Tell Me True - Sarah Jarosz [purchase]
21. Cage The Songbird – The Low Anthem [purchase]
20. Ten Thousand Words – The Avett Brothers [purchase]
19. The Traitor – Sea Wolf [purchase]
18. Funeral Singers - Califone [purchase]
17. Day Is Done – Ryan Bingham [purchase]
16. Everyday - Vetiver [purchase]
15. White Limo – The Felice Brothers [purchase]
14. Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap [purchase]
13. A Thousand Men – Joe Pug [purchase]
12. Far And Wide - The Roadside Graves [purchase]
11. Easy - Deer Tick [purchase]
10. Mama’s Eyes – Justin Townes Earle [purchase]
9. The Big Surprise - The Felice Brothers [purchase]
8. Speak of Trouble – Great Bloomers [purchase]
7. Laundry Room (live version) – The Avett Brothers [purchase]
6. Gunslinger - The Medders [purchase]
5. Take It In - Wye Oak [purchase]
4. I Got The Reason – Conor Oberst & The MVB [purchase]
3. Ticket Taker – The Low Anthem
[purchase]
2. Honeymoon – Bombadil
[purchase]

1. Ruby - Dave Rawlings Machine [purchase]

Ruby, let down your golden hair
When I’m standing at the bottom of your stairs
Ruby, I can see your TV on
But the people there, they flicker and they’re gone
So let down your golden hair for me tonight
Let down your golden hair for me to climb
Just like an old-time telegraph man
I came here with a simple job to do
‘Cause that news coming down the wire
Says that your head’s on fire
And I’m trying to get a message through to you

Ruby, you ain’t lonely yet
With your crystal and your Russian cigarette
Ruby, haven’t you heard before?
Working is the finest tower when it hasn’t got a door
So let down your golden hair for me to climb
Let down your golden hair for me tonight
Just like an old-time telegraph man
I came here with a simple job to do
‘Cause that news coming down the wire
Says that your bed’s on fire
And I’m trying to get a message through to you, Ruby

I’m that old-time telegraph man
And I came here with a simple job to do
‘Cause that news coming down the wire
Says that your world’s on fire
And I’m trying to get a message through to you

I’m that old-time telegraph man
And I came here with a simple job to do
‘Cause that news coming down the wire
Says that your world’s on fire
And I’m trying to get a message through to you
————-

The Lists: Top 20 Albums of 2009 (1-10)

Posted by Payton | Posted in best of 2009, lists | Posted on 12-22-2009

Tagged Under : , , , , , , , , ,

Part II of my Top 20 Albums of 2009


10. Justin Townes Earle – Midnight At The Movies

Bloodshot, 3.3.2009

Justin Townes Earle’s second album cemented his star-studded name as star in his own right and won the top spot in the first ever Bird List – by a landslide. Justin, like some of the best out there, has a difficult time translating his live show allure to a studio CD, but Midnight At The Movies does a damn good job trying. His rollicking, ‘Hillbilly Music’ (tracks like ‘Walk Out’ and ‘John Henry’) are where he grabs your attention, but it’s the slower, more personal songs (‘Mama’s Eyes’, ‘Someday I’ll Be Forgiven’) that truly separate JTE from other folk-country acts out there.

Justin Townes Earle – They Killed John Henry
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

9. Sea Wolf – White Water, While Bloom
Dangerbird, 9.22.2009
Alex Brown Church and the folks behind him, better known as Sea Wolf, are probably one the most accessible bands I promote here. I have to admit that they had a little advantage making my top 10 due to the fact that I didn’t discover their 2007 release Leaves In The River until last year, and wanted to make up for not mentioning it in my inaugural posts. This year with White Water, White Bloom, Sea Wolf continued to make listener-friendly indie-rock paved with inspiring string pieces, powerful rhythm sections, and soaring vocals.

Sea Wolf – Dew In The Grass
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][iTunes]

8. Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers – Songs In The Night
Ramseur, 4.28.2009

Samantha Crain broke into the folk scene last year with a superb EP. Don’t let the fact that her debut full-length was released early this year and the hype surrounding her may have since slowed lead you astray. This is one killer album. Songs In The Night contains very mature writing and even better music created by The Midnight Shivers. It’s got a perfect mix of tempos – sing-along folk-rockers, contemplative acoustic ballads, and even a couple electric grooves. If I could pick a poster-band for the sound I want out of my Americana, this is it.

Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers – Devils In Boston
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

7. Middle Distance Runner – The Sun & Earth
Engine Room Recordings, 10.20.2009

Every year so far, I’ve had at least one album that made my list for one simple reason – it rocks. This year’s album that always seems to get my head bobbin’ is Middle Distance Runner’s The Sun & Earth. I stumbled across the D.C. band earlier this year thanks to a couple mind-numbing singles/EPs they released. I grabbed the full album released in October, delighted to see those tracks on it, and even more thrilled to enjoy the rest of the disc. It’s one of those albums that you seem to not remember tracks names simply because it’s 45 minutes of pulsating Rock n Roll intertwined with moments of acoustic bliss of that all melds together in you brain – in a good way.

Middle Distance Runner – Round Here
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

6. Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid
Nonesuch, 2.10.2009
I was skeptical of Dan Auerbach breaking from his bandmate to strike out on a solo mission. But I was a fool. Dan brought his funk-filled guitar licks to the studio, polished them off just a tad, and ultimately brought everything to his solo debut that The Black Keys were missing. Keep It Hid has the feel of an artist who knew the exact sound they wanted. Plus, who knew this blues-rocker could slow it down and give us a handful of touching down-tempo ditties to compliment his unique, blistering electric sound.

Dan Auerbach – When The Night Comes
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][iTunes]

5. Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band – Outer South
Merge, 5.5.2009
I had Outer South, the second album bearing Conor Oberst’s name and the first bearing The Mystic Valley Band, in my library for a while this year before I really gave it a listen. I don’t know what held me back – maybe I was overwhelmed by the amount of tracks on it and the fact that Conor participated in another release this year – but as soon as I listened once through, I knew it was a top 5 album. This year will mark the 3rd year in a row that Conor Oberst has placed an album in the top 5 here at This Mornin’. Last year, I made the claim that his self-titled album solidified his place as the Best American Songwriter under 30, and with this release I stand by that claim – though he only has 2 more months to hold the title. He will then have wait 5 years in a distant second place until Ryan Adams turns 40.

Outer South doesn’t necessarily show us anything particularly new about Conor – his songs continue to be energetic – only slowing when necessary – well-written, and most noticeably perfectly delivered. Conor has a knack for isolating a line apart from the music behind it with the effect of heightening the importance of that lyric like no one else. What sets this album apart from Oberst’s earlier work is his band. Although The Mystic Valley Band played on Conor Oberst, that album was more about Conor. On Outer South, he lends prime real estate to his bandmates letting them take 7 of the 16 tracks, including tracks as early as 3 and 4. The songs that Nick Freitas, Taylor Hollingworth, and Jason Boesel wrote and provide lead vocals for aren’t my favorite off the album, but they ain’t bad, either. Hollingsworth may have the standout non-Oberst song with his Replacements-esque ‘Air Mattress.’ Outer South is yet another disc from the Omaha alt-rocker that doesn’t have a single skippable track.

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band – Cabbage Town
Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band – Air Mattress
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]
4. Deer Tick – Born On Flag Day
Partisan, 6.23.2009

Easily my most anticipated release of the year, Deer Tick’s sophomore effort obviously pleased me. But not right at first – if you read my initial reaction, you’ll see I was happy with it, but thought it paled in comparison to 2007’s War Elephant. What I grew to enjoy about the album after some time, however, was everything that sets Born On Flag Day apart from their debut. Aside from John McCauley’s grizzled vocals, this album doesn’t have the same grunge-rock feel of which we were introduced to Deer Tick. In its place as an overlying feeling on the album is a bit of a retro-vibe. Born On Flag Day boasts multiple tracks that sound straight out of a 50’s studio session outtake disc. Both vocally and musically, I’ve heard traces of The Everyly Brothers (when they tried out an electric set), The Animals, Chuck Berry, and even some Beatles when I listen to this album. John manages to get those familiar, classic rock tones from his sea-green Fender Strat, both on this album and in the band’s live show.
Deer Tick – Stung
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]
3. Bombadil – Tarpits & Canyonlands
Ramseur, 7.7.2009

I could sit here and regurgitate words that tell you how Bombadil is groundbreaking, brave, and stylistically unclassifiable, but if you’ve ever heard their music, that is all too apparent. The simple fact is, it’s fun to listen to them – and what else do you really need to know? Tarpits and Canyonlands outreaches the band’s last album in terms of accessibility and execution. Here, there are real songs, still liberally arranged with instrumental twists and turns, but in a more focused way. The guys took their time with this recording, and it shows. Most impressively, Tarpits‘ strongest parts may be the more subdued moments. The slow-building opener ‘I Am’ provides a gentle, yet ominous lead-in to an album with peaks and valleys in terms of tempo and activity, but never a dull moment.

Bombadil – I Am
Bombadil – Kuala Lumpur

[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]


2. Dave Rawlings Machine – A Friend of a Friend
Acony, 11.17.2009

I reserved big, comfy spot for this album in my Top 10 as soon as I learned of its release. Don’t get me wrong – I still analyzed the songs, but I already knew what we were getting. For an artist with a resume like Dave Rawlings, over a decade to hone his songwriting chops, and the likes of Gillian Welch and Old Crow Medicine Show ushering him in, A Friend of A Friend was bound to be nothing short of spectacular. The last thing I expected going in was to be most impressed by the strength of Dave’s original songs. ‘Ruby’ immediately shot to the top of my favorite songs list, while ‘Sweet Tooth’ and ‘Bells of Harlem’ are at once fresh and classically timeless. It’s a short and sweet album, with a perfect mix of Dave’s early co-writes, well-chosen covers, and original compositions that will no-doubt stand the test of time. Expect a further in-depth review of this one after I’ve let it simmer a little longer.

Dave Rawlings Machine – Sweet Tooth
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]


1. The Low Anthem - Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
Nonesuch, 6.9.2009

Last year, I expressed my thoughts on what I believe makes a great album. Most importantly, that it need be a cohesive, focused, flowing collection of songs, none being superfluous or out of place. The Low Anthem’s Oh My God, Charlie Darwin takes this idea to another level. It’s a beautiful record, start to finish, complete with ballads and rockers, an interlude, and a reprise. It flows seamlessly, taking you through ethereal hymns and turbulent gospel barn-burners. Some may argue that OMGCD was a 2008 release – the Providence-based band self-released the album in September of 2008 and were subsequently picked up by Nonesuch Records. The label then gave the record a proper release (including vinyl) in June of this year. I discovered the band just after this release and was pleased to see that their schedule crossed paths with mine and we would both be in Nashville at the same time – me for The Big Surprise Tour, them for an intimate show at The Basement. Catching a live show of theirs and meeting the band members had a big part in the placement of this album at the top of my list. Read my review.
The Low Anthem’s strongest quality – as a band and especially on this album – is their unmatched instrumentation. Between only Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystokwsky, and Jocie Adams, The Low Anthem travels with a trailer-full of gear, all of which gets used on a nightly basis. Their stage progression plays out like a carousel, or literally a game of musical chairs. Most instruments can be played by more than one member, each with their own personal flair. I read a few interviews with the band prior to this write-up (check out this well-written one). In one interview, Miller says they try to push their musical limits by limiting their play on instruments they are comfortable with. He says they walk blindfolded into the instrument room; they “prefer to stumble into beauty.” Another interesting note I picked up on, Miller says that band doesn’t get too caught up in listening to a lot of contemporary music. This is obvious in the end result of their own music – you can’t seem to pick out any specific influence or even compare it to anything else you’ve heard before: completely original music, earthy and natural.

The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin
The Low Anthem – Horizon Is A Beltway
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][iTunes]

————————————————-

The Big Surprise Tour: Nashville, TN

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 08-13-2009

Tagged Under : , , , ,

Checkin’ in from the hotel in Nashville before I head down to the banks of the Cumberland to enjoy night 1 of my Big Surprise Tour double-feature. I feel like I’ve already been on vacation for a week, but have yet to experience the real reason for the trip. We’ve been in Music City for 3 nights now – checked out Lower Broadway, the uber-tourist, live music strip in downtown Nashville, as well as some other, less-cheesy areas of the city. We caught an amazing show from The Low Anthem in a quaint, little brick joint known as The Basement. I will put up a full review of the show complete with photos when I get the time.

The venue couldn’t be more in the heart of Nashville. Riverfront Park is a grass lawn overlooking a stage/barge docked in the Cumberland River. The area backs up to the corner of First St and Broadway. The backstage area not only consists of the river and various bridges, but the Titans’ LP Field also serves as a scenic backdrop.

The bands are no-doubt in full stride by this point in the tour, having had numerous stops from New Hampshire on down to Tennessese, and the last stop tomorrow night in Knoxville promises to be a blowout of a finale. Full reviews/photos to follow.

The Felice Brothers – The Big Surprise
buy Yonder Is The Clock (2009)

"Take me to another place. Take me to another land…"

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 08-07-2009

Tagged Under : , , , ,

Arrested Development – Tennessee

That song steps a little out of my normal genre realm, but how can you not love it? As I searched my library for ‘Tennessee,’ it was the first result. Immediately, I was taken back to raiding my sister’s CD collection when I tired of my own crappy, country cassettes.

“A game of HORSESHOES!”


Tomorrow (in spite of being warned that Tennessee sucks in the summer), I head east to catch two instances of the Big Surprise Tour. If you don’t know, it’s pretty much the best folk lineup in this young century. Old Crow Medicine Show headlines an August-long set of dates with help from The Felice Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, and the spectacular duo of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Yeah.

The showcase is said to feature all acts “shar[ing] the stage, taking part in each other’s songs, resurrecting old standards, and playing newly written collaborative material as they go.” Ketch Secor says of the lineup: “If there is a ‘scene’ around the music we play, these artists make up the better part of it.” I couldn’t agree more.

We’re making a road-trip out of it, taking our time getting there, and spending a few days in Nashville before catching the last two dates of the tour in Music City and Knoxville.

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings ft. OCMS – Odds n’ Ends

Gillian Welch &David Rawlings – I Want To Sing That Rock and Roll (live)
buy Time (The Revelator) (2001)

Old Crow Medicine Show – Fall On My Knees (live)
buy OCMS Live (2003)

The Felice Brothers – Hey, Hey Revolver (live)

Justin Townes Earle – Chitlin’ Cooking Time In Cheatham County (live)


Early ‘09 Release Forecast….

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release | Posted on 02-04-2009

Tagged Under : , , , , ,

I figured the best way to get back in the groove of posting was to begin with a little Album Release Forecast. I’ve had this in mind for a while, but kept putting it off because so many of the expected releases I know of don’t have much substantiating evidence. Thanks to MySpace for keeping me in the loop with most of these bands’ happenings, but as you can see, there are many details still left to be determined.

February 2009

Dan Auerbach ~ Keep It Hid (2/10/09)

Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach has decided to step away from his rhythm-making partner for a solo album. The tracks I’ve heard show a style more geared toward the vocals – which are quite smooth – but still as groovy as anything from The Keys.

1. Trouble Weighs a Ton
2. I Want Some More
3. Heartbroken, in Disrepair
4. Because I Should
5. Whispered Words
6. Real Desire
7. When the Night Comes
8. Mean Monsoon
9. Keep It Hid
10. My Last Mistake

Pre-order the Cd/LP here.

Ryan Adams ~ Extra Cheese – Valentines Day EP (2/10/09)

Looks like Lost Highway is gonna suck everything they can out of their contract with Ryan. This rehashing of old love songs from Ryan will only appease those people that actually enjoyed Cardinology. It will only be available through iTunes ($3.99). Stay tuned here and I may just post these tracks before it comes out.

1. Two
2
. Blossom
3. Answering Bell

4. Evergreen

5. My Love For You is Real

6. Desire

7. Hey There, Mrs. Lovely

March 2009

Justin Townes Earle ~ Midnight At The Movies (3/3/09)

Dropping in March is the new one from JTE. HearYa.com had the pleasure of hearing this album early and wrote up a little review. There will also be a limited edition vinyl version of Midnight At The Movies. Here’s the song that I mentioned hearing (and adoring) at his show back in December made available on the Bloodshot Records website.

1. Midnight at the Movies
2. What I Mean To You
3. They Killed John Henry

4. Mama’s Eyes

5. Dirty Rag

6. Can’t Hardly Wait

7. Black Eyed Suzy

8. Poor Fool

9. Halfway to Jackson

10. Someday I’ll Be Forgiven For This

11. Walk Out

12. Here We Go Again

The Roadside Graves ~ My Son’s Home

Folk outfit The Roadside Graves’ new one is scheduled for a Spring Release on their new label Autumn Tone Records. Although no release date or tracklist has been divulged, more info can be found here.

My Son’s Home(Demo)
Far & Wide

April 2009

The Felice Brothers ~ Yonder Is The Clock (4/7/09)

Hoping to make 2009 as big a year as ‘08 was for them, The Felice Brothers have a new album scheduled for a spring release as well as a slew of tour dates – including some with Old Crow Medicine Show. I’m planning on attending the New Orleans show on February 13th. Here’s the tracklist for their upcoming album which will also be available on vinyl:

1. The Big Surprise
2. Penn Station
3. Buried In Ice
4. Chicken Wire
5. Ambulance Man
6. Sailor Song

7. Katie Dear
8. Run Chicken Run
9. All When We Were Youn
g
10. Boy from Lawrence County

11. Memphis Flu

12. Cooperstown

13. Rise and Shine

Slaid Cleaves ~ Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away (4/14/09)

Slaid’s last album was released in 2006 and was a covers compilation. I, therefore, have extremely high hopes for the songs that will make up this new one.

1. Cry
2. Hard to Believe
3. Beyond Love
4. Green Mountains and Me
5. Run Jolee Run
6. Dreams
7. Black T Shirt
8. Tumbleweed Stew
9. Twistin’
10. Beautiful Thing
11. Temporary

Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers ~ Songs In The Night (4/28/09)

Samantha’s first full-length album is one of my most anticipated releases to be mentioned yet. Likewise, she’s gaining quite the critical buzz around the net. From the mixture of songs I heard at this show and the ones she did for Daytrotter (which is more than half), Songs In The Night should be a stellar debut.

1. Rising Sun
2. Songs in the Night
3. Long Division
4. Get the Fever Out
5. Bananafish Revolution
6. Scissor Tales
7. Devils In Boston
8. Bullfight (Change Your Mind)
9. Calm Down
10. You Never Know
11. The Dam Song

Other Notes:

Reigning This Mornin’… album champion These United States stated briefly in a MySpace bulletin that they have a new album in the works – no details or release date though.

The Avett Brothers have mentioned that their next full-length release on American (Columbia) Records, produced by Rick Rubin, will see a Summer Release.

Bombadil told us that their next album for Ramseur Records will be produced by Scott Solter.

The Fleet Foxes mentioned today that they have begun preparations for recording their next album – in a rented house in Port Townsend, WA.

Ramsuer Records has reported that The Everybodyfields hope to get a new album out “later this year.”

Band of Horses have not given out an album title or release date, but I’ve heard that they have done some recording at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama as well as Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC.

It’s been six years since the last Gillian Welch album, but rumor still has it that there is one due this year.

Justin Townes Earle/Samantha Crain Live @ The Mucky Duck…

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 01-07-2009

Tagged Under : ,

Welcome to 2009, dear readers. It’s been exactly one week since I last posted, but seeing as that I now have a near-full year of archives saved up, I think I deserve the break.

——————

Way back in December of last year I had the pleasure of catching an uber-impressive double show in Houston. Samantha Crain and her Midnight Shivers opened up for Justin Townes Earle at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck – a very intimate listening room that might just be the best place for live music in Houston.

Samantha Crain’s debut EP was one of the most impressive releases of last year, and her show lived up to the hype. This girl deserves all the attention and praise she has received. Even in an abbreviated set (about 6 songs), Samantha and her band justified my glorified opinion of their music. From the handful of new songs played, their upcoming full-length release has jumped to the top of my most-anticipated ‘09 albums. The title-track, Songs In The Night is an early standout that we had the pleasure of hearing at the show. Here’s one that’s available on her label Ramseur Records‘ site.

Get The Fever Out from Songs In The Night (April 28th, 2009)

——————————-

I’ll be honest – I didn’t really like The Good Life from Justin Townes Earle. Sure there are some good tracks, but on the whole the album just didn’t do it for me. I felt like the honky-tonk, swing country feel of the disc was trite and forced. But from the first moment JTE took the stage in Houston, it all made sense. Justin Townes is as authentically country as it gets. Although his deep Tennessee drawl is not an act, his show most certainly is. Much like his fellow statesmen Old Crow Medicine Show, Justin and his band turn a concert into an all-out performance. From stage banter to song segues and bandmate interaction to storytelling, JTE’s performance is attention-stealing and worth every penny.

Hesitation Blues (live)

Maybe it was the tiny room or the fact that Justin likes to set his mic at his chest, but the man commands the stage and seems 10 feet tall while doing so. Just about every thing he did that night impressed me far beyond my expectations. The way he strums his guitar like it’s an extension of his arm was the first clue that Justin has gallons of talent running through his blood (check out this video for an example). I have never seen someone look so natural with an instrument in their hands. Throwing his fingers at the strings, Justin proves that the guitar truly is a percussive instrument.

Chitlin’ Cooking Time in Cheatham County (live)

With his mic as hot as possible, Justin showed us that he has mastered using his distance from the microphone to accentuate the showmanship aspect of his set. Justin took some extra time during set-up to request a towel to place under the mic stand saying “believe me, it’ll make a BIG difference.” What at first seemed like an improvised kick drum, Justin threw a hearty foot stomp at just the right moment in a song. But just one – no rhythm. Throughout the show these random stage durability tests showed up with no explanation except that when the music flowed through him just right, he simply needed to stomp.

Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me (live)

It quickly became evident that night that Justin’s Townes Van Zandt connections go much further than his name. In addition to his unique strumming technique, JTE fingerpicks with the same effortless proficiency as Townes in his hey-day. During a song intro, Justin mentioned that the upcoming tune was by the “greatest songwriter that ever lived.” After a shout from the crowd, Justin answered, “you’re damn right Townes Van Zandt. Only one other comes close, and he ain’t that close.” Then Justin stepped into ‘Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold’ – one of the most under-appreciated TVZ songs. Later, during a version of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ ‘My Starter Won’t Start’, a song that Townes often played, I found myself transported to a sweaty Houston bar just the other side of Hwy 59 in the Third Ward back in 1947. I’ve always felt a bit of pride being from Houston, but never more than when Justin reminded me of not only Townes’ Houston roots, but all the way back to Hopkins’ blues beginnings in the underbelly of the city.

My Starter Won’t Start This Morning (live)

Another notable cover he included in the set was The Replacements ‘Can’t Hardly Wait,’ with that ear-sticking melody picked out on the mandolin by the multi-talented Cory Younts (get the version recorded for his Daytrotter Session). My favorite song of the night was a new(?) one that could possibly be titled ‘I’ve Got My Mother’s Eyes.’ If anyone has any info on this song, hit me up. The plaintive tune speaks of the influence both of his parents had on him, with his ability to see right from wrong coming from his mother. Late in the show, Justin spoke of his late grandfather Jack Dublin Earle and played a song for him, retiring the tune that night.

Justin Townes Earle is the brightest ray of hope for the future of country music. And if you had similar reservations about his latest album, do yourself a favor and catch a live show. It will definitely change your opinion, and you will come away a fan.

A Desolate Angel’s Blues (live)

Thanks to HearYa.com for these tracks.
They are from Justin’s set at Pickathon 2008 – get the whole show.

Top 10 Songs of 2008…

Posted by Payton | Posted in best of 2008, lists | Posted on 12-16-2008

Tagged Under : , , , , , , , , ,

Ok, i’ve put this off long enough. We’re now only 2 weeks away from 2009, and i might be one of last to get their lists up. And to be completely honest, my top 10 album list is not yet complete – well not the back half. But i have made final decisions on the Best Songs of the Year. But first….

What makes a song great?

That question has been tossed around since the first single was ever recorded, and if we (or anyone) knew the answer, there would be nothing left. The truth is, there is no answer. Music is subjective – some people simply listen, and if they like it, it’s a good song. Some look for originality, some for familiarity. Many people want emotive lyrics. Many want to hear words they can relate to. Many people (who are no doubt Dylan fans) are looking for groundbreaking wordplay that will blow their minds.

Of course, certain instruments excite certain people. i, for example, love the plunk of a banjo in an otherwise non-bluegrass tune. Acoustic guitars picked with purpose will grab my attention far earlier than a hard-strummed electric. Lately hand claps and tambourines make me happy.

What about vocals? Let’s be honest – the Folk/Americana/Alt-Country (what have you) world doesn’t possess the greatest or most talented vocalists. Many lead voices are of the love it or hate it variety, and can immediately turn someone off from a song. If i can’t listen to the lead vocals, the band is going to have a hard time getting on my good side. That said, there is no formula or standard that i judge by, and i have a fairly wide acceptance range. The most important thing a singer can possess is believability.

Growing up listening to mainstream country (and shifting between rap phases), i was under the impression the only song structure consisted of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus. While that simple formula still works, an artist can expand or abbreviate to an indefinite degree as they see fit. Adding dynamic to a song with a tempo or key change can seem strange at first, but is one the most vital factors in keeping the listener engaged.

A particularly separating attribute for a list like this is enjoyability. This doesn’t mean that the song has to have uplifting lyrics; it’s often the opposite. The best judge for this element is how fun the song is to sing along to. The songs that i found myself belting out (severely off-key) in my car were the first to be added to the list.

So where does this leave me? Basically back where i started. There is no formula, no set of rules, and no boundary to great songs. That is what keeps music interesting, fresh, versatile, and what makes it an essential part of life. Taking these factors into consideration, here are my picks for the Top 10 Songs of 2008.


10. The Greatest Hustler of All ~ Old Crow Medicine Show

from Tennessee Pusher, written by Willie Watson/Ketch Secor


9. Who Am I To Say ~ Justin Townes Earle

from The Good Life, written by Justin Townes Earle



8. Skinny Love ~ Bon Iver

from For Emma, Forever Ago, written by Justin Vernon



7. Souled Out!!! ~ Conor Oberst

from Conor Oberst, written by Conor Oberst



6. Sideman Blues ~ The Dedringers

from Sweetheart of the Neighborhood, written by Jonny Burke


5. Murder In The City ~ The Avett Brothers

from The Second Gleam, written by Scott Avett


4. Traipsing Through the Aisles ~ Samantha Crain
from The Confiscation EP, written by Samantha Crain


3. White Winter Hymnal ~ Fleet Foxes

from Fleet Foxes, written by Robin Pecknold


2. Rattlin’ Bones ~ Kasey Chamber & Shane Nicholson
from Rattlin’ Bones, written by Chambers/Nicholson


1. Frankie’s Gun! ~ The Felice Brothers

from The Felice Brothers, written by Ian Felice


“My car goes… Chicago.
Every weekend to pick up some cargo.
I think I know the bloody way by now, Frankie,
Turn the god damn radio down, thank you.
Pull over. Count the money.
But don’t count the .30 in the glove box, buddy.

That’s for to buy Lucille some clothes.

Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille!
Bang Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille! (He shot me down!)

Work zones, double fines.
Don’t pass the double lines.
Trailer McDonald’s, rest stop trailer double wide.
I saw a man hit my mom one time, really
I hurt him so damn bad I had to hide in Jersey.
Called my mama told her, ‘In the dresser
There’s ten or twenty dollars but there ain’t no lesser.’
That’s for to take my sister to the picture show.

Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille!
Bang Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille! (He shot me down!)

Sha nay na sha nay na na na na na…
Sha nay na Sha nay na…

Slip make a fender shine,
Frankie you’re a friend of mine,
Got me off a bender after long-legged Brenda died.
I thought we might be on a roll this time, Frankie.
I could have swore the box said Hollywood blanks, but
You see my mama
Please tell her
I left a little rock in a box in the cellar.
That’s for to wear till kingdom come.

Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille!
Bang Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille! (He shot me down!)

Sha nay na sha nay na na na na na…
Sha nay na Sha nay na…

Yodelea he hoo.”


Click the album covers to purchase.

Check out last year’s list (my 2nd post on This Mornin’…), and stay tuned for the definitive Top 10 Albums of 2008.

New Digs: Daytrotter’s My Record Store

Posted by Payton | Posted in new digs | Posted on 09-09-2008

Tagged Under : , , ,

Haven’t picked up anything new recently. Okkervil River’s new one came out today, but i never left my house, so…. for now enjoy a few splendid, new Daytrotter sessions.

To this day, i haven’t found anything from these guys that i don’t think is amazing. This session is no exception.
Speaking of…. i’m gonna get to catch the brothers (along with Deer Tick) in about a month in the crescent city – if it makes through the storm season…..
Check out the venue:

Looks like it’ll be a regular ol’ shin-dig down in ‘Nawlins.


Justin Townes Earle

Although i didn’t completely enjoy his debut The Good Life – a few good songs, but a little too much of a hoe-down, swing-country feel – i did like his EP Yuma, his HearYa Live Session, and this one. Highlight: cover of The Replacements’ Can’t Hardly Wait.

i’ve kinda been diggin’ on Bon Iver and For Emma, Forever Ago. It’s a vocally-driven album with sparse and interesting instrumentation – perfect for a rainy day. The sound on this session is even more meager, but i dig it none the less.