Fox Theatre Revival #1901

What could get us out of semi-retirement more than a member of R.E.M. playing our favorite venue? Nothing! Grab your tickets to the Fox Theatre Revival, hosted by Kevn Kinney of Drivin N Cryin. The show happens Friday 9/13/19 at the fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.

Drive-By Truckers, Michelle Malone, and Dodd Ferrelle and the Councilmen featuring Bill Berry of R.E.M. join special guests to raise money for the historic Fox Theatre Institute. The Fox Theatre Institute funds historic preservation at venues across the Southeast, including the Winterville (GA) Auditorium and spaces in Abbeville, Cheraw, and Dillon, South Carolina. They recently started a hurricane recovery fund for historic performing arts places.

Enjoy our quick conversation with Country Fried Rock alum, Dodd Ferrelle, about the Institute and the event!


Tim Nielsen of Drivin N Cryin #1802

Atlanta’s Home Town Band

Tim Nielsen co-founded Drivin N Cryin with Kevn Kinney in Atlanta in 1985. Drivin N Cryin were hometown heroes before their debut album, Scarred But Smarter, was even released, as R.E.M. had already “made it huge” for a Georgia band by then. Whisper Tames the Lion was their major label release on Island Records, who also re-released SBS. By the time Mystery Road came out, Drivin N Cryin were on the road to major rock band stardom. Catch the almost-rise, and not-exactly fall in the fan-film by Eric von Haessler, with special guests like Jason Isbell and Darius Rucker.

Vinyl Album Re-issue of Mystery Road

In October 2017, the archives imprint of Island Records remastered and re-released Mystery Road, in a gatefold vinyl double album. The re-issue includes several of the Peter Buck demos for that session, previously only available under the counter from local record stores and tape traders. Even the scrapped title track finally makes this version of Mystery Road. Buck and Kinney have been long-time close friends, and Buck was supposed to produce Mystery Road. Due to R.E.M. band obligations and the album-cycle expectations of DNC’s label, the project ended up with a different team behind the board. It’s a treat to finally, officially hear some of these demos!

DNC Officially Welcomes Laur Joamets & Announces New Album Produced by Aaron Lee Tasjan

Country Fried Rock’s family tree continues to pollinate. In our original Kevn Kinney interview (here and second conversation here), he mentioned one of his favorite emerging songwriters, Aaron Lee Tasjan, who has since been featured twice on this podcast. Tasjan will produce the next Drivin N Cryin album, and has already shared some pre-production sneak peeks.

Mystery Road reissue 2017 album art

Drivin N Cryin: Mystery Road Re-issued

It’s crazy and weird and fantastic to have bands I snuck out of the house to see (R.E.M. and Drivin N Cryin) continue to matter to music fans so much that their albums get re-issued. I’m pretty sure I’ve told y’all the story of not getting hired at a Columbus, Ohio, radio station in the late 1980s when the Program Director asked me who my favorite Atlanta band was and I said, “Drivin N Cryin.” He said, “I only know one song from them, and I don’t like it. Too country.” I ended up working at that station anyway by co-hosting the morning show. I laughed my head off when the PD drunkenly sang “Straight to Hell” at the station Christmas party. Joke’s on you, dude.

As a fan of the band since before their debut album was released, I forget that Mystery Road and Fly Me Courageous are the albums most Southerners knew from Drivin N Cryin. The band played a lot of the material before it ended up on the album, so the vocal mix on the release of “Honeysuckle Blue” (with Atlanta legend, Michelle Malone) stuck out oddly. I was surprised that audiences in the Midwest, where I was living, latched on to the harder rock songs like “Toy Never Played With” and “You Don’t Know Me” and didn’t seem to “get” the dance-able ones like “Ain’t It Strange” or the softer ones like “With the People.” The song that clearly was the live anthem (moving out my favorite “Scarred But Smarter”) was “Straight to Hell,” a crowd sing-along, where the rednecks, punks, and hippies all felt the song was about them.

The upcoming expanded double album re-issue of Mystery Road is exciting for mega-fans and those who arrived to Kevn Kinney’s songs later in life. Primarily, the songs have been remastered and the long-known but not heard demos produced by Peter Buck (R.E.M.) are part of this special package. After Whisper Tames the Lion, the local chatter was that Buck was producing Drivin N Cryin’s next album, but when it came time for release, it was some “outsider” (Scott MacPherson). Not knowing how labels and band obligations and recording and “the machine” worked at the time, my crew of Atlanta fans felt that the album was a bit “slick” for our guys. These Buck-produced demos, though, tease of the direction the album might have gone, had that synergy of Georgia jangle happened. I like that they are demos, because the songs are raw and plain and share how song ideas can change, with time, with influences, and with instrumentation. Listen to one of Drivin N Cryin’s demos, produced by Peter Buck, the omitted title track, “Mystery Road.”

The DNC lineup at the time of Mystery Road included founders Kevn Kinney and Tim Neilsen, former Kansas and R.E.M. guitar tech, Buren Fowler (RIP), and Jeff Sullivan, who had recently left Mr. Crowe’s Garden (who later re-emerged as Southern Rockers, The Black Crowes). The band has played more in the last several years than the decade prior, with drummer Dave V. Johnson, and a rotating cast of lead guitar players, from Aaron Lee Tasjan, Sadler Vaden (now in Jason Isbell’s band), Warner E. Hodges (Jason & The Scorchers, Dan Baird/Georgia Satellites), to recently Laur Joamets (Sturgill Simpson’s former lead guitar player, and a noted musician and songwriter in his own right, just like the others). Kinney writes prolifically, once telling me that he’ll keep putting out new records for the rest of his life. Their live shows do not follow a fixed set list, and I don’t think they’ve ever played the same show twice. Kevn told me years ago that they all know 100 Drivin N Cryin and Kinney solo songs, and he pulls them out on the fly.

Long-time friend of the band, Darius Rucker, recorded “Straight to Hell” for his upcoming new album. Rucker often sings that song live, especially if you catch him at charity gigs or unofficial nights out. I’m not a Hootie hater, and frankly don’t understand that energy at all. Hell, don’t we all want to hear him sing “rain” in four more songs? I commend him for seeing the potential of this song in a pop country market, and I hope Kevn Kinney and Tim Neilsen get some nice mailbox money out of it.

PREMIERE Jon Latham “Lifers”

Jon Latham‘s pals are lifers. Capturing the heart of why Country Fried Rock exists, Lifers highlights songwriters who create because they must — driven to write, driving in vans. In this song premiere of the title track, dedicated listeners to this radio show will be able to guess who the song is about: a couple of our alumni and other lifers who make our kind of music happen.

Pre-order Lifers here on IndieGoGo:
Catch Jon Latham’s official AmericanaFest showcase Sat., 9/24/16 at the 5 Spot.

Catch a quick VOIP chat with Sloane Spencer and Jon Latham here, where we talk about our friends like Todd Farrell, Jr.: All Our Heroes Live in Vans (not “friends,” but you know what I meant) (Benchmarks, The Dirty Birds), Aaron Lee Tasjan, and Darrin Bradbury.

Drivin N Cryin #1522

Kevn Kinney of Drivin N Cryin has been a thread throughout my life in music, from teenage punk wannabe sneaking into clubs for shows (thanks, Randy!), to not getting hired at the first radio station I interviewed for because the program director told me he hated DNC and I defended them anyway (look who turned out to be right, Chris), to one of the very first radio shows on Country Fried Rock, before we had a podcast and were still streaming on Live 365, to now — me filling my dream of talking to the best songwriters about music I love and so many of y’all loving what we share. Kevn Kinney changed my life and now his band will be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.


Kevn Kinney is not stuck in the 1980s, though, and that is what makes his solo work interesting and also what keeps DNC vibrant. They are not a nostalgia band at all; in fact, their series of EP’s over the last couple of years, produced by Sadler Vaden (then, playing in DNC, now playing with Jason Isbell, but also a solid songwriter in his own right and his former band, Leslie), brought DNC to fresh territory and new audiences. I first learned about #CFRalum, Aaron Lee Tasjan, via Kevn, and Tasjan later played with the band for a while. (ALT also has a new album, In The Blazes.) Currently, Warner Hodges (solo, Jason & The Scorchers, Dan Baird) is bringing his guitar to the stage with the band.

Collaborations are Kinney’s behind-the-scenes hallmark, regularly writing with his pal, Todd Snider, and upcoming recordings with Chuck Mead (BR-549). Just as Peter Buck gave Kinney new platforms to share his writing with MacDougal Blues, Kinney does the same for folks like Findlay Brown, The Everyothers, and Angie Aparo (who sings like an angel, y’all). Kinney has at least four other records coming out in the next twelve months, keeping fans and new listeners on their toes. Catch a show, solo, band, or the special “And Friends” sets — you will be in for a treat.

Buy Drivin N Cryin or Kevn Kinney‘s music.

Stream or download below, or on SoundCloud.

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We welcome your feedback on the show. You can reach me on Facebook or @countryfriedrok.

Sam Lewis #1513

Sam Lewis first crossed our radar on a video from Music City Roots, but the timing was off to feature him on the show. As Lewis has toured more in the US & UK, he has built a following and honed his songs, yielding a his new Waiting On You album, recorded with some of Music City’s Americana elite at an historic studio, Southern Ground (recently purchased by Zac Brown). When folks like Brandon Bell champion you to Darrell Scott, Will Kimbrough, Mickey Raphael, Gabe Dixon, and the McCrary Sisters, then you know that your record will sparkle.

Buy Waiting On You here.

Available below or on SoundCloud.

Please subscribe to Country Fried Rock in iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and leave us a rating and a comment! That will help boost our search results and allow people to find the show more easily.

We welcome your feedback on the show. You can reach me on Facebook or @countryfriedrok.

Four Offbeat Music Festivals: Georgia

There’s an old saying, “In the South, we don’t hide away our crazy; we dress it up and parade it down Main Street.” Those “parades” celebrate the unique arts and music in nearly every small town throughout Georgia. Here are four festivals where you can let loose and enjoy the unusual.

Read more from Sloane Spencer here

Headliners of these events include friends and alumni like Drivin N Cryin, Shooter Jennings, Elizabeth Cook, Shawn Mullins, and many other fantastic bands and activities.

Shaky Knees Music Festival 2014

Once again, a veteran music blogger and consummate fan of great music covered Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Festival for Country Fried Rock. Blake Ells is super! –SS

It rained again. A lot. And then it rained some more. After two years, two locations and five total days of Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Music Festival, I’m not sure it would be the same without a torrential downpour. This year, it began around the Airborne Toxic Event’s set on Friday, which was 6 p.m., not sometime around midnight. I managed to find shelter under an overpass that provided entry to the festival, and for nearly an hour, it seemed like things would be better.

Security forced us away from that area after a while, and we were left to a giant parking lot with nowhere to run. And that was Shaky Knees lone fault, in the good times and the bad: while the asphalt of Atlantic Station allowed patrons to not be forced trekking through the knee deep piles of mud left last year at Fourth Ward, it still let no escape from the rains of Friday and Saturday or the blistering sun of Sunday afternoon. While there were potential places that people could have found shade or relief from the rain in nearby parking decks, those places were closed off to only emergency personnel. If you were soaked, you were soaked and you were going to stand in it. If you were too hot, you were too hot, and you were going to take home a burn if you were ill prepared in the sunscreen department.

But the patrons of Shaky Knees have proven to be a unique community deeply in love with a “Southern Indie” curated lineup that aims to please a niche audience and hasn’t tried to be something other than itself.

No other festival stacks its undercard quite as impressively. Bonnaroo has done a better job of that in 2014 than many others have in recent years, but it’s an eclectic schedule that has a little something for everyone. Shaky Knees, on the other hand, has a lineup that appeals to a very specific audience on every stage and is deep with talent. By sheer coincidence, I have still not seen an entire headlining set at the festival in its two years. I was too rain soaked, miserable and old to care to stand around for The National and Modest Mouse, and as a Birmingham native, getting back to the Magic City at a decent hour seemed much more appealing than seeing the Alabama Shakes close out the weekend, a band that has played everything here from a barge to a brewery.

What lay between those headliners this weekend in Atlanta was nothing short of fantastic.

The Best.

1. The Replacements – This reunion had the trappings of a cash grab. Our notable current reunions are this, Neutral Milk Hotel and Outkast, and I’m not sure any of those produce new material. In either case, at the end of the weekend’s worst rain on Saturday, Paul Westerberg took the stage with Billie Joe Armstrong in tow. Drummer extraordinaire Josh Freese (The Vandals, A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, Guns ‘N Roses, The Offspring, Ween, Weezer, etc.) sat behind the kit. And both 90’s punk rock legends spent the duration of the set quiet and unrecognized. A few songs in, Westerberg acknowledged the former by simply saying, “Our little quartet has expanded to a quintet.”

The quintet wove a cover of The Ramones’ “Judy Is a Punk” into a set that last a little over 75 minutes. The set wrapped with a trio of the band’s biggest hits: “Alex Chilton,” “Can’t Hardly Wait,” and “Bastards of Young,” before encoring with “I Don’t Know,” “Customer,” and “I.O.U.” The encore seemed to run longer than their initial intentions, but the performance was beyond any expectation. Now we wait to see if this spawns new music.

SETLIST – Takin a Ride – Love You Til Friday – Maybellene [Chuck Berry cover] – I’m in Trouble – Favorite Thing – Nowhere is My Home – Color Me Impressed – Kiss Me on the Bus – Achin’ to Be – Androgynous – I Will Dare – Merry Go Round – Swingin’ Party – Judy is a Punk [The Ramones cover] – I’ll Be You – Left of the Dial – Alex Chilton – Can’t Hardly Wait – Bastards of Young – ENCORE – I Don’t Know/Buck Hill – Customer – I.O.U.

2. Local Natives – Local Natives did what Local Natives do, as the sun went down on Sunday evening, before the Violent Femmes and Alabama Shakes closed out the weekend. They delivered an energetic set that encouraged crowd participation and amazing percussion that made rock and roll danceable. A Local Natives show is such an unexpected surprise the first time: the natural fear is that the studio sound can’t possibly be recreated live, but it is, and likely better. Few songs reach as powerful of a conclusion as “Sun Hands,” which the band typically closes their set with.

SETLIST – Wooly Mammoth – Breakers – World News – Wide Eyes – You & I – Camera Talk – Airplanes – Out Among the Stars (written by Johnny Cash, but first recorded by Local Natives) – Colombia – Heavy Feet – Who Knew, Who Cares – Sun Hands

3. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Among a group of artists that stereotypically fall under the same “Americana” umbrella, which I’ve preferred calling “Southern Indie,” Isbell has reached a point in his career where he is easily the most polished.

Trust me, that wasn’t always the case.

There was a day when Isbell played alcohol soaked, three hour sets loaded with covers. While his health and the people he was around were certainly the beneficiaries of his sobriety, there was quietly another beneficiary that goes unspoken too often: he has become incredibly professional. The best. I noticed it as I made my way over early from the Deer Tick show next door – his entire band was onstage checking levels to perfection during the last half hour of Deer Tick’s set. Not roadies. Not a crew. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit were the only band I saw all weekend stand on stage for a half hour before their set and make sure the sound being produced was exactly what they wanted. And it was worthwhile.

I’ve seen Isbell over 30 times in the last five years, and I had begun to lose sight of the perfectionist he has become until I spent most of Deer Tick’s set watching him and his band work. He sings with an unrivaled clarity that is bone chilling when he reaches the crescendos of “Cover Me Up,” and each time I hear “Alabama Pines” outside of the state I have lived in for all of my 31 years, I’ve grown to get the same kind of chills. He’s one of the most powerful songwriters in music, and while some grew to know him because of the time that he spent with Drive-By Truckers, his own band has achieved the same level of success and the back story is no longer necessary.

The most unique moment was his invitation of Candi Staton to the stage to sing her own “Heart on a String,” which he covered on his own record “Here We Rest.” It was a spectacular moment, and a generous one that allowed the songstress a quick plug of her upcoming a record, a record that features a collaboration with Isbell and John Paul White.

SETLIST – Flying Over Water – Stockholm – Outfit – Heart on a String (w/ Candi Staton) – Decoration Day – Live Oak – Alabama Pines – Cover Me Up – Traveling Alone – Codeine – Super 8

4. The Hold Steady – The Hold Steady did something I never expected – they played a ton of Boys and Girls in America. I assumed we’d get a heavy dose of Teeth Dreams, and we did, but the band hasn’t forgotten about “Southtown Girls.” The band also greatly benefited from being on the Ponce de Leon stage, one of the smaller stages, as it made their set much more intimate and interactive, something The Hold Steady relies on, something that doesn’t fill up a larger space very well. The new material meshed well, but the sing-a-longs have defined this band and its hardcore fans recited lyrics back to Craig Finn from songs like “Stuck Between Stations,” “Hot Soft Light,” and “Sequestered in Memphis.”

SETLIST – On With the Business – Stuck Between Stations – Big Cig – Sequestered in Memphis – The Swish – You Can Make Him Love You – I Hope This Whole Thing Doesn’t Frighten You – Constructive Summer – Hot Soft Light – Spinners – The Weekenders – Your Little Hoodrat Friend – Southtown Girls – Stay Positive

5. The Gaslight Anthem – This spot was hard, but I settled on one of the other primary bands on my weekend’s agenda for many of the same reasons that The Hold Steady is included: it was on the same, smaller stage which made it an appropriately interactive and communal experience. The band nailed a terrific cover of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” and version of The Clash’s version of “I Fought the Law.”

The Guest Appearances.

There was much to be said about folks showing up that weren’t scheduled. Most notably, Billie Joe Armstong’s appearance with The Replacements, though the Green Day lead singer had shown up at the band’s Coachella set, so it wasn’t out of left field.

Vanessa Carlton’s appearance was, if you weren’t previously aware that the pop-turned-country singer is married to Deer Tick front man John McCauley. McCauley himself joined The Hold Steady on stage later in the evening, and on Saturday, Conor Oberst was backed by Dawes.

The Discoveries. 

Easily summed up, the biggest discoveries for me at Shaky Knees in 2014 were Phox and San Fermin. The former reminds me of Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs fronting a Southern Indie band, while the latter reminds me of The National’s Matt Berringer fronting tUnE-yArDs with LeRoi Moore of Dave Matthews Band on baritone sax.

Phox has yet to release a record, but you’ll want to check it out. San Fermi’s eponymous debut was released in 2013, and you can find it in the usual places, but you’ll want to see their live show. And soon.

Year three is always pivotal and I’m eager to see the shape of what this festival becomes. Atlanta’s only other major festival is the revived Music Midtown, and that caters to a much different audience. Shaky Knees is going to continue to grow, but will they continue to cater to an extremely niche audience or reach beyond those bounds?

The former continues to make for a weekend where the rain doesn’t matter.

The Woggles #1408

The Professor Mighty Manfred of The Woggles flips between his radio persona and reflective musician, as if he momentarily forgets that he is being recorded and just…talks. As a daily host on Little Steven’s Underground Garage on SiriusXM, his garage rock expertise and larger-than-life character make listeners smile. As the frontman for The Woggles for two decades, Manfred’s songs and energy make audiences dance. The Woggles are not retro as in trying to stay in the past, they simply brew their music through that filter and put their own spin on songs by everybody from the Fleshtones to Hillbilly Frankenstein. The Woggles will be playing several sets during SXSW 2014, so check the apps and see a show or three.

Click here to listen to the entire radio program.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to download the Special Edition podcast, including 3 songs from The Woggles, or on iTunes.
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Buy The Woggles music here on Amazon.

Liner Notes
The Woggles
The Fleshtones
Flat Duo Jets
Chuck Berry
Guadalcanal Diary
Hillbilly Frankenstein
The Forty-Fives
Dick Dale
The (Fabulous) Wailers



Amy Ray #1404

Amy Ray‘s new solo album, Goodnight Tender, allows her to explore the country music she has often been accused of writing, but this Georgia songwriter has always refused to be bottled into one form. From her on-going collaboration with Emily Saliers as The Indigo Girls, the foremost folk rock duo from the South for decades, to a reinterpretation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, to mentoring emerging songwriters and musicians, Ray follows her muse and then determines how her art should be shared. Long-time fans of her music will not be surprised by this album, as hints of Georgia and Ray’s roots have always guided her songs, but now she is not limited by expectations — and The Indigo Girls are still going strong, joined by several orchestras on tour in the coming year.

Radio Show
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Liner Notes
Amy Ray
Indigo Girls
Rock*A*Teens (on the Daemon Records label early on, Kelly Hogan connection, produced by David Barbe)
Ralph Stanley
Original Carter Family
Jesus Christ Superstar Resurrection
Mount Moriah
Tedesci Trucks Band
The Shadowboxers


Hannah Thomas

Hannah Thomas will be at the 30A Songwriters Festival 2014 and continues on the road to Athens and Atlanta, GA to Asheville, NC and then Chicago and back down through Nashville — just in the next couple of weeks. Thomas is on the road constantly, honing her performances and playing for every crowd that will listen.

Buy her music here on Amazon.

From her bio:

Hannah Thomas has never liked labels, or playing just one kind of music. Amy Ray (of the Indigo Girls) describes Hannah’s music best. (Hannah has) “the soul of old country, and that will always be there, but she’s also a diehard rocker with some punk thrown in the mix” (Spring 2013 issue Georgia Music Magazine)
And Hannah has been playing that music for everyone who will listen. Having played over 200 shows in the past 18 months in more places than she can count, she also made time to record the 7 songs on her newest studio CD, “Goodbye on Wasted Time”
“Music is all I think about” says Thomas. And you can hear that dedication in her songs. From the soulful bluesy “Church on Friday” to the tale of life in the country (“Watch Out for the Deer”) to rockers like “Goodbye on Wasted Time and “Pacifier” (the latter featuring Amy Ray on guest vocals) Hannah keeps her audience’s attention by never having two songs sound the same.
And there is no denying Hannah has what it takes to move to the next level. Eddie Owen (founder Eddie’s Attic, now at Georgia’s Red Clay Theater) was asked about Hannah for a recent issue of Georgia Music Magazine and said “For any performing songwriter to advance through the levels, several common variables are required – talent, an unending discipline and work ethic, no hesitancy in self-assurance and self-promotion, and an unending desire to learn and become better. If one has all that there is still the ‘being in the right place at the right time’ factor. Hannah has the first four factors, so when that opportunity comes, she’ll be ready.”

The Whiskey Gentry #1337

The Whiskey Gentry‘s second album, Holly Grove, sets the stage for this Atlanta band to break out of their Georgia confines and become a nationally known roots music band.  Lauren Staley’s lyrics and vocals are backed by a tight band of stellar players.  Their second album is the first that wholly originated during the lifespan of the band, and John Keane again coaxed the best from their talents, while changing up their recording methods from song to song, partially because of its piecemeal recording process over five months, and partially because the core of the band, husband and wife, Jason Morrow and Lauren Staley, were inspired by the Sound City documentary, and wanted to record some songs fully live.  Following up on a year of success, including their first European tour, The Whiskey Gentry will be touring much more in the coming year across the US.  Their high-energy live show should be on your must-see list.

Liner Notes