I’m going to take a quick break from the ABCs. I was working on some other stuff in parallel, and got that finished first. I hope you don’t mind bouncing around with me. It’s how my mind normally works, haha.
It’s not every day that BRP feels mellow, but I’m deep in the south right now, and I’m feeling it. In fact, it’s the unusual day when I’m not wanting to crank up the rock. But when I do, I have the tunes to kick back and enjoy. I call most of this music American roots music, but my family corrects me and says “its country.” We are both right. I do like country, but I also like alt-country, rockabilly, bluegrass, the blues, and all the other American musical forms that swirl around these defined styles. And all of those musical forms are a pretty big departure from the other side of me. (No, I don’t like folk, so you generally won’t find that genre discussed here, except perhaps to disparage it).
Now, I’m not going to go off on Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard or George Strait. They’re great, but you already know about them, right? Same with Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis, David Allen Coe, Joe Ely, Ryan Bingham, Junior Brown, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Travis Tritt, Taylor Swift, or Yonder Mountain String Band. Those artists all show up prominently on my iPod, but there is nothing to share about them that you haven’t already been subjected to by a million others. So while these artists are the backbone of the roots music that I listen to, I’m going to try and stick with the theme of discussing newer or less well-known artists. I’m also going to stay away from alt-country artists for now – I think they deserve a separate blog entry, and will get to them, well, I don’t know when but sometime soon.
What’s that you say? Enough about me? You are right – for Pete’s sake, let’s get on with the music. So here we go:
Call out time to Pam in California! I had never heard of Phil Cook, but she said that I should check him out, particularly his album “Southland Mission.” Good damn call. This album is a very nice mix of country and blues, and after a few listens you’ll find yourself humming the tunes as you go about your daily routine. Some of it reminds me of Little Feat and other roots/southern bands of that persuasion, and some sounds more like the deep south. Dip a toe in, the water’s mighty fine. Here’s a tune that I think you will enjoy called 1922:
Everyone has heard of Chris by now. There is an argument, nay a theory, that great country only comes out of Nashville (but see, Dwight Yoakam) and Chris is deeply embedded into that venerable town’s music scene. But until this fellow cleaned up on the 2016 Grammys, Country Music Awards, etc., he was operating in the background. Now all of a sudden, he’s a big damn deal. And deservedly so. This is just amazing new country music that I listen to in my more mellow moods (yup, both days of the year). Here's the audio to the song "Tennessee Whiskey:"
More proof that I’m not just a power pop/punk idiot. It’s without doubt that this guy is terrific. And he has become popular enough so that I have heard his songs at Phillies games and in other public spots. His music is a mix of rockabilly, R&B, country and straight up rock ‘n roll. Check out this song called “Let The Good Times Roll:”
Austin-based Rosie Flores is not new to a lot of people, but she is to me. I saw her at the Queen opening for the Rev. Horton Heat, and what a revelation. She’s this tiny little thing with a big Stratocaster, and she plays rockabilly with passion, wit and skill. After rolling through some of her own rockabilly numbers, she proved to be a complete bad-ass as she played the Sex Pistols “Pretty Vacant,” first as a slowed down country version and then tearing into the second half of the song with a snarl that would have made Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious proud. I’m dying to see her again, but have had only near-misses so far. Here’s a video called “Working Girl’s Guitar:”
Looking for some fun country? Check out Brandy Clark's "Big Day in a Small Town". It's got real stories (think Courtney Barnett meets Dolly Parton) that are grownup (think Squeeze). And it's sorta country (the themes, the lyrics, the ballads) and it's got a southern rock vibe too. This was one of the records recommended in a recent Wall Street Journal story on new women country artists. Though the record has a female perspective (If Taylor Swift were growing up to be a real person she might have written this record), it's not exclusively so. Sure, the song "Girl Next Door" could be an anthem for lots of "girls" you probably know. But I think you'll dig the hillbilly anthem: "We're Broke". Maybe I'll get sick of this soon. But I haven't yet. Here’s the official video to “Girl Next Door:”
How is that for some fun and different music? And here you thought I was a one-trick pony. Hey, and don’t think that all great rockers only rock out. Neil Young has “Heart of Gold” and “Harvest Moon,” two very sentimental songs. So It is not unprecedented, right? Anyway, I’ll be back to more rockin’ stuff soon enough, but in the meantime, enjoy.
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My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.