Reviewd by Bill Tokash
If you scraped the residual aural DNA accumulated on the walls and floors of this legendary venue over the past 30 years and reconstituted it Jurassic Park-style, the artist created would be Charley Crockett. On this warm holiday weekend evening at FitzGerald’s, the epicenter of Chicago’s American Music scene, Charley Crockett blended his soulful baritone voice across a 34-song whirlybird set to the delight of the beer-swiggin’ honky tonkin’ audience. (more…)
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Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This is true “tear in my beer” honky tonk. And I am loving every second of this. It makes me want to cry and it is also completely uplifting. I guess it’s the same as looking at the car accident or putting your tongue in your cavity, even though you know it is going to lead to excruciating pain. People like living on the edge. This is about as “living on the edge” as I get. The bigger point is that Joshua Hedley is able to evoke real live emotion. And that is downright impressive. (more…)

Reviewed by Bill Tokash
Out here in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. I’m lucky to have not just one, but two friends who are, like me, intense music lovers. Both of my friends enjoy hosting home concerts, and I benefit from the fact that we have quite a bit overlap on our tastes. So, it was with great anticipation that we all gathered last Friday night to see Jodee Lewis perform amongst a full house of neighborhood friends.

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Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I do love a feel good story. Well, that is the story of Ten Penny Gypsy. Justin Patterson and Laura Lynn Danley make up this dynamic duo. Look at that cover. I don’t usually mention an album cover in my reviews, but this cover art says so much. They are in love and doing what they love. Who could ask for anything more? Well, a little more cash wouldn’t hurt. But besides that, how many people can say that they are happy at work and love their job? Ten Penny Gypsy can. (more…)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I find myself listening to this over and over again. It is quirky and down right fun. Two qualities that I cherish deeply. It’s minimalistic with  a very simple arrangement. Proof that complicated does not always win. This is genius in its simplicity and transparency. What you see is what you get. And what you get is Gene Turonis or Gene D. Plumber.

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Reviewed by Bill Tokash
Red Shahan was born in Bluff Dale, Texas, a small town southwest of Ft Worth, but he spent a fair amount of his formative years as an emerging artist in the Lubbock area after attending Texas Tech. His sophomore release, Culberson Country is a slice of pure, sun-drenched, West Texas singer-songwriting perfection. His outstanding first release, Men and Coyotes, has a slightly less gritty Ryan Bingham, Texas Roadhouse feel. But on Culberson County, Shahan couples his smooth, lonesome vocal style with simple, evocative, small-town narrative songwriting that sounds to me like what Whiskeytown would have sounded like if Ryan Adams had been born on a ranch somewhere between Big Spring and Sweetwater.

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Reviewed by Bill Tokash
During the interview after Dale Watson’s performance to close out the 39th season of Austin City Limits, he cited a John Lennon quote about how an artist’s originality comes from their inability to emulate their influences. When I heard that line from Dale, it quickly sunk in that no other statement about artists and their influences could better capture the true spirit of why artists make the music they do. Every single musician that first picks up as guitar or a microphone, or sits down at a Hammond organ or a pedal steel guitar to try to play starts out trying to play songs they love. And then they go on from there once they start to write their own songs and develop their own style. (more…)