Southeast Engine released their latest record, Canary, just as the band was dispersing geographically–relocating for their dayjobs, but coming together as a band. The guys are in Athens and Dayton, Ohio, Morgantown, West Virginia, and Durham, North Carolina, but being spread out has not seemed to detract from their mutual language as Southeast Engine.Working with Misra Records has connected the guys through five albums, and now one of them is working for the label itself. (Misra is very cool about offering a few songs from their artists for free download. Check them out here and investigate their other artists, too.)
The band formed while Leo DeLuca and Remnant shared mutual music interests as students at Ohio University. They are the core of the band, who have seen some line-up changes over their decade together. The Appalachian area of Southeastern Ohio influences their music, though, in the inclusion of old time and folk music into their psyche, processed through memories of his first electric guitar and Nirvana cover band duo with his brother, through local Dayton music, and classic 1960’s and 1970’s folk and rock. They consciously avoided being a garage rock or jam band, which is more prevalent in the Athens, Ohio area, and have gravitated more towards the old time and folk influences recently, which is apparent in Canary. They intentionally craft each album to reflect a cohesive sound, while also not repeating the exact vibe of previous work, and moving in new directions along an arc–not swinging the pendulum, but intentionally moving around within their comfort zone.
Despite having their own distinct musical identities, they appreciate the others’ preferences, too, and that allows them to arrange music together in a way that works, incorporating the different elements, but not muddying their sound. Remnant wants each album to be mini-masterpieces, and wishes they had unlimited time to create little releases between albums, like split 7″ or “basement tape” EP’s and music recorded simply for fun. An audience’s energy fuels the band and different venues bring distinct vibes, which can lead to very different shows from Southeast Engine.
Shurman first appeared on our radar when mentioned on Country Fried Rock by two Austin, Texas bands in 2011: Stonehoney and The Mother Truckers. When musicians recommend other musicians, we pay attention. Through the magic of the Americana Music Festival, front-man Aaron Beavers and I met through mutual friends at a casual event in Church Street Park benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank. We talked for a while and he mentioned that he was releasing three new records in the next year or so, including a Christmas album recorded in the height of Austin’s hottest summer in recent memory.
Despite no similarities whatsoever to Rush, Shurman’s next release, Inspiration, lands on February 21, 2012 (2.21.12…2112…insert music geek laughter here). Shurman’s new record label, Teletone Records, has given the guys the freedom to record what they want on their own schedule. Country Fried Rock is thrilled to be the first media outlet to bring three brand-new songs to you from the Austin rockers’ upcoming record, Inspiration. “Back to Texas” is an homage to Aaron’s grandmother, Jane Beavers, “Midnight Apt. 9 Blues” is a song Mike Therieau wrote that the band enjoys playing and highlights Mike’s vocals, and the title track “Inspiration.”
Although Beavers is a native Texan (and we follow the Third Coast Music’sdefinition of “Texan”, of “from there or got there as fast as they could”), he lived in many places, including long stints near Atlanta, Hawaii, and Los Angeles. He is definitely a Texan because he thinks barbecue is made from beef, not pork, and does not include a vinegar preparation! Beavers is at home in many places, and with many other musicians. He is one of those guys that other players and music people gravitate towards, like his buddies Rich Mahan, John Popper, and Shilah Morrow of Sin City Social Club. After a nice run with Popper’s Duskray Troubadors, John returned the favor to play some awesome harmonica on one of the hotter-than-Hades sessions for the Christmas tunes Shurman just released.
Dawes’ most recent record, Nothing Is Wrong, launched the folk rockers from niche-favorites to headliners of sold out shows. At the beginning of the summer when it was released, fans and music bloggers latched onto their album as they had their performances, spreading the word about Dawes in ways the guys could only dream. Now preparing for a European and Australian tour, Dawes may surpass some of the bands they were supporting as openers just last year.
For a band who defines themselves with their analog recordings and vintage tube gear, they really fleshed out their vibe by bringing live sound guru, Wes Delk, on board for the fall stretch of their tour. Jonathan Wilson‘s production and studio keep the Los Angeles band channeling Laurel Canyon and Echo Park’s music history; they are very aware of what has come before them, yet humble about their role in the developing roots rock music scene.
While their music may not be overtly political, the guys are certainly influenced by the inclusion of social justice in lyrics, particularly in older R&B and folk music. For those who know Dawes, they were not surprised to see them perform with Jackson Browne as part of an “Occupy Wall Street” protest in Manhattan in December 2011. Goldsmith takes his songwriting craft seriously, and immerses himself in great writing, such as Browne’s.
Wow! In 2011, Country Fried Rock featured 50 roots musicians via in-depth conversations, highlighting their songwriting and musical influences. From those, we selected the 40 most-listened to programs, and let our listeners select their Top 10. Hundreds of listeners voted for the Country Fried Rock “Best of 2011” list, yielding a surprisingly clear Top 10.
If you liked any of the music we have featured this year, please consider buying the albums and supporting the musicians who make great songs. All of the songs posted for download are with express written permission of the artists. Please “thank” them by visiting their pages or buying their music. If you buy music through our links, a very small portion also goes to bring you Country Fried Rock in the future. Thanks for supporting roots music & Happy (almost) New Year!
10. Renee Wahl, Cumberland Moonshine
Free download “One More to Go”
1. Stephanie Fagan, Heart Thief
Free download of “You Are the Devil,” first available for our listeners
So, who would you like to hear in 2012 on Country Fried Rock? Leave a comment and let us know.
Rounding out the fan-voted Top 25 of 2011:
25. Dehlia Low
23. The Only Sons
21. Dodd Ferrelle
20. The Avery Set
19. Doc Dailey (My personal favorite of 2011, even though it was released in late 2010.)
18. The Wild Rumpus
17. Matt Woods
16. Mark Cunningham
15. Joe Pug
14. Allen Thompson
13. Packway Handle Band
12. Boo Ray
11. Farewell Drifters
Joe Pug spent three years and countless dollars studying to be a playwright, only to discover that he really likes to read. While college may not have been the correct format for his writing, he brings a lot of theatre theory to his songwriting. Pug humbly describes his room for growth with arrangements in his songwriting. He uses some of the same concepts from writing farces when developing his lyrics; the stock characters from commedia dell’arte allow a playwright to use familiar characters and create stories around them, likewise, Joe Pug uses familiar melodies and subjects to craft his own songs. He considers himself more of a lyricist than a songwriter at this point, letting the songs speak for themselves in creating meaning for a listener.
Early on, Joe Pug recognized that social media, especially YouTube can be incredibly effective for independent musicians. He encouraged taping at his shows and let fans post the audio and video. Pug matched this grassroots method with his own free promotions: sending a home-burned CD with 2 or 3 of his songs on it to any fan who sent their address and asked for one–for free. By controlling the free distribution of his music (to the extent that anyone can control that), Joe developed a loyal fan base who became his “street team” in ways that other entities now copy. By the time Lightning Rod records came on board for his last album, Pug was able to allow this controlled, free distribution of a limited number of songs to continue.
For a guy who references Steinbeck (hence Springsteen’s “Ghost of Tom Joad” tune), Nabokov, and Chekhov in conversation, Joe Pug’s favorite type of venue may surprise you: dive bars. Pug affectionately refers to those dingy, local rock clubs because of their crowds that probably don’t expect to hear a heady songwriter, yet give him their attention and find his music appealing by the end of the evening anyway. A lot has changed for Joe over the last year; after hundreds of gigs, he is finally getting the recognition for his music that leads to performing arts centers and halls with padded seats and clean floors. What remains for Pug, though, is the intensity of his performance and gratitude for the road he ultimately chose.