Jesse Daniel’s 2018 eponymous release on his Die True Records label is a rollicking, thoughtful, melody-and-hook laden gem of a record that mostly belies an explicit accounting of thepersonal challenges that Jesse has overcome. But maybe the name of his record label gives a hint. Jeff Tweedy famously highlighted in his lyrics to Wilco’s War on War release in 2002, “You have to learn how to die, if you want to want to be alive.” This album feels more like a rebirth, a fresh start filled with acceptance and optimism coupled with matter-of-fact lyrical expression of life’s basic travails that portends a bright songwriting future for the Santa Cruz, California-based artist.
Hot damn! Just what the doctor ordered. This is serious outlaw, honky tonk, hell raisin’ music. And it should be played loud. All I know is that when I hear that pedal steel, it gets the blood flowing. And there is plenty of steel on Smokin, Drinkin, & Gamblin. Yes, it is very much 1977. That is the golden age of outlaw so ’77 is a good year to target. Craig has that perfect country voice with a bit of twang and a very strong set of pipes.
This came out in January so I am a little late. But this album is so good that it needs to be heard. This is true classic country both in musical stylings as well as the song topics. This is true tear in your beer country. With song titles like Bar Fight, Bullies Win Again, Frail Shadow, End Of The World, etc., you know this is going to be a multi tissue listen. Maybe I like tragic stories or maybe misery loves company, I don’t know. What I do know is this, I Want To Believe is absolutely irresistible.
This gets a WOW right up front. Just stunning song arrangement, writing, musicianship, etc. But then again, we are talking about Paul Kelly. He is the Australian equivalent to Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. Nature is Paul’s 24th studio album and it is a true game changer. I will get back to that shortly.
Very solid third offering from The Nouveaux Honkies. This is a difficult release to classify since they really cover so many different styles from classic country, folk, rockabilly, and rock and roll. The Nouveaux Honkies are comprised of Rebecca Dawkins on violin and vocals and Tim O’Donnell on guitar and vocals. Vocals are certainly their strong suit. Not to say that the other elements are not good, because they are. But what really sets this band apart from the other man/woman duos are the strength and beauty of the vocals. The duo has become smitten with the Smokey Mountains and made Knoxville, TN their home base about two years ago.
This is the first time I have been to the new Union Craft digs and let me say, I am impressed. The venue itself is very industrial and has a nostalgic feel to it. All that metal and austerity is tempered by the positive energy inside. Even with all the cold steel and concrete, the venue is warm and inviting. The staff couldn’t be more accommodating and the patrons all seemed to be quite friendly.
Appalachian artist Tyler Childers is an “overnight sensation” eight years in the making. In 2018, during his “emergence”, he’s played both the Grand Ole Opry and Lollapalooza and had his name mis-pronounced while being named the Americana Music Association’s 2018 “Emerging” Artist. He even recently played with legendary songwriter John Prine on Austin City Limits. His recent take (paraphrased) that he wasn’t quite sure how all this came about, but that it may be best described as someone leaving the back door open while he snuck into your living room seems half accurate.
Rock and roll with the purity of mountain spring water. Sarah is very sweet, but when she is performing, it is take no prisoners. There is a rawness and authenticity in Sarah’s music that has not been experienced since Lucinda Williams was in her prime. Sarah’s music has a punk rock edge and attitude, even on the slower numbers. The emotion is real whether tempo is fast or slow.(more…)
It was good to see a “big” show in Baltimore. Most artists go to Philly, skip Baltimore completely, and head right to DC. It happens all the time, so much so that it hardly registers. But maybe the tide is turning. I was surprised to see a sold out crowd on a Tuesday night right here in Baltimore, hon. Especially an artist such as Tyler that gets no airplay on terrestrial radio. He is played on Sirius XM Outlaw Country. But this movement is grass roots. It’s word of mouth and it is very powerful now that it has built up momentum. The crowd last night was not your typical Federal Hill crowd. People traveled for this show coming from distances over 60 miles. On a school night!
It is very rare that a show sells out at Southgate House. The shows draw very well, but sell outs are not too common. The only show I remember selling out recently was The Breeders and now two nights for Tyler Childers. On a weeknight! I think this is a testament as to how popular Tyler is. Granted, this is his home turf, but some people drove over two hours to see not just one, but both shows. Tyler’s current town of Irvine, KY was well represented. Most of the people knew every word to every song. The point is this – this is a grassroots movement, going from town to town. And he makes fans wherever he goes.
I can’t say enough good things about the venue, Southgate House Revival. It is one of my top three favorite music venues of all time. Even when there is a big crowd, the vibe is always positive with good energy flowing from the bands to the audience and back again. It completes a circuit. I can’t think of a better place to see a show. And it seems like the bands that play Southgate mingle with the crowd more than anywhere else I have seen shows.
And once you see or hear Tyler and the crack band, you will understand why. The music is fantastic. And it is scale-able. I could easily envision this show in a 5,000 seat arena, or even bigger. The music and playing are great. And the band chemistry is palpable. Yes, the chemistry is evident, you can see it. And more importantly, you can feel it. I was fortunate enough to attend both nights. I could have easily gone to a third.
Arlo McKinleyPhoto courtesy of Wayne Litmer
The first night was Arlo solo and a full band for night two. Both shows had a tremendous amount of energy and feeling. The first night was just electric. It was great to be able to concentrate on the singer and not really focus on anything else. Arlo’s songs are so well written and performed that either acoustic or electric are a treat. I was very impressed. And he did two songs with Sarah Davis, which were absolutely brilliant. Their voices blend so nicely together and Sarah can flat out sing.
Blank Range Photo Courtesy of Wrenne Evans
Can you imagine what it would sound like if you mixed Neil Young and Pink Floyd? Well, wonder no more. Blank Range sounds like someone dipped Laurel Canyon into San Francisco in 1968. Their sound is country as all get out, but they also have the ability to jam and get spacey. They can also lay down some seriously filthy (and beautiful) guitar riffs similar to the master, Mr. Young. Yes, I am glad someone saved the fuzz. It sounds wonderful!
The buzz surrounding Tyler and his band is legit. They are great and ready for the prime time. I can tell that Tyler is so down to earth that fame will not change him. He is a genuinely nice guy (and so is the band) that truly likes his fans and feeds off of their energy. Also, the way he thanked the audience throughout the show was totally sincere and heartfelt.
Tyler knows that his fans travel well and he never forgets that. It is really nice to see someone who really gets it. His talent alone is deserving of greater exposure but the fact that Tyler is a great person makes me root for him even harder. As I stated, both nights were wonderful. If you get a chance to see Tyler Childers. either acoustic or with a full band, don’t miss the opportunity.