Drivin N Cryin

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.

Sadler Vaden #1609

Sadler Vaden released his debut full length solo album in August 2016. His DIY effort morphed and was scrapped then re-imagined and recorded over a few years. What ultimately became this upbeat, pop influenced rock record demonstrates Vaden’s expertise gleaned from fronting his own band in the early 2000s for 8 years, playing for Drivin N Cryin, and most recently for Jason Isbell. Even his cover of John Moreland’s song, “Nobody Cares About Songs Anymore,” becomes Vaden’s own, filtered through Big Star and Vaden’s own sensibilities.

Buy Sadler Vaden here on Amazon or here on iTunes.
Vinyl, CD, and digital available.

Best of 2015

Our listeners choose Country Fried Rock’s Best of 2015 list by streaming or downloading our podcasts throughout the year. Usually, this leads to a very clear selection of songwriters, but there were several ties this year, so the Top 10 are actually the top 14! Even better!

As always, thank you so much for listening to this show. If you like what you hear, please give a positive review or rating on your podcast source of choice, such as iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Agogo, SoundCloud, etc. Thank you. –Sloane

10 Rayland Baxter

9 Lee Gallagher

8 tie: Aaron Lee Tasjan

8 tie: Andy Gabbard/
Buffalo Killers

8 tie: Great Peacock

7 Lilly Hiatt

6 Danny Barnes

5 Bones of JR Jones

4 tie: Justin Townes Earle

4 tie: 6 String Drag

3 Drivin N Cryin

2 Cale Tyson

1 tie: Ben Miller Band

1 tie: Steve Earle

Sadler Vaden: New Music

sadlervadenIf you have followed Jason Isbell for the last couple of years, or Drivin N Cryin for a few years before that, you may have heard Sadler Vaden on lead guitar. Fewer fans know that Vaden formerly fronted the band, Leslie, of Charleston, South Carolina, and released a couple of solo albums during the transitions among those projects. In a recent Country Fried Rock podcast, Kevn Kinney of Drivin N Cryin lauded Vaden for re-invigorating the band and bringing the vision for their EP series, which he produced.

After more than a year of rumblings, Vaden confirmed that his new album is complete and will be released within the next year. As a special treat for fans, he is setting free an outtake, “Brand New Guitar” from the upcoming album’s sessions, which will be for sale this Friday via Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp and other digital outlets. Not just a writer and guitarist, he often gets behind the drum kit and more. Reminiscent of Southern college rock in the early 1980s, the tune balances pop and guitar in a way that teases Vaden’s own balancing act of playing for others while being a stellar music-maker on his own.


Aaron Lee Tasjan #1523

Aaron Lee Tasjan writes folk songs for an indie rock crowd, weaving storylines with humor and social commentary. His debut full-length album, In The Blazes, includes friends from his former band, Everest, at the helm, and the vibe of Elliott Smith’s studio, New Monkey. Tasjan is touring heavily in support of the album, opening for Ray Wylie Hubbard, and playing solo and band gigs across the country. NOTE: We previously featured ALT here, following his debut EP.

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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.

Fangirl.

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.

Podcast
Stream or download 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.

Aaron Lee Tasjan

You might not realize that you already know Aaron Lee Tasjan‘s music or playing, but not in this way. His forthcoming solo EP, Crooked River Burning, differs from his work with Semi Precious Weapons or shredding as lead guitar for Drivin N Cryin recently. Letting his songwriting overtake his ironic glasses is a good move for Tasjan.

Buy Aaron Lee Tasjan’s older music on Amazon.

From his bio:

East Nashville, TN November 2013-”Don’t walk away, I’m talking to you,” sings Aaron Lee Tasjan in the first chorus of the first song off of his new EP, Crooked River Burning. The song is aptly titled Don’t Walk Away and covers a lot of ground in four minutes and twenty-one seconds. It is, in it’s own way, much like the artist himself: filled with insight and brutal honesty, humorous and sincere in a fashion which is truly unique to the man delivering the song. These songs have been heard all across the USA this past year; in just about every bar, parking lot, van and music club that is still open and still puts on live music. As you listen to the songs on this EP, you begin to understand that while Tasjan seemingly works endlessly to bring his music to whomever will listen out on the road, he is also singing these songs because he has to. There is pain within the reedy Midwestern drawl of his voice but also the ability to laugh at life’s misfortunes and ultimately transcend them by putting into words and music all of his thoughts and experiences along the way.

Produced by Anton Fier (Bob Mould, Golden Palominos), the EP also features Fier on drums and Chris Morrissey (Taurus, Andrew Bird) on bass and upright bass. Recorded live with ALT, Fier and Morrissey all tracking at the same time, there is a feeling of immediacy and human interaction happening in these cuts that is greatly benefited by Tasjan’s laid back approach to technical prowess and highly effective regard for feel. The performances are spirited and the songs are of such quality that Tasjan was even recently honored by ASCAP at The Kennedy Center as one of America’s great songwriters of the next generation.

Now living in Nashville, TN, his list of accomplishments and accolades continues to grow, but one only need listen to the songs on this EP to realize that Tasjan can accomplish what few can musically, he can write songs that make you laugh and cry at once all while revealing himself to you in a manner such that you feel connected to something healing and powerful.

Prevent Musician Suicide #1332

Yeah, not a fun topic…but one we should talk about more.

That’s why our album cover is a close-up of an elephant — major depression and musicians’ mental health are like the elephant in the living room.  It’s so close that you almost cannot figure out what it is.  We all know someone who needed help, but couldn’t afford it, was on the road all the time and couldn’t access care, or who self-medicated until they just disappeared.  Every friend in music knows somebody who needed help and couldn’t get it, either due to lack of access or the lifestyle challenges of being in this creative field.

So, we decided to help musicians get the care they need, and we need you to help, too.

BUY THE ALBUM HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FREE PODCAST ON iTUNES, ON SPREAKER, OR AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE

Find out more about Nuci’s Space here.

If you need to talk, please click here or call a trained counselor to talk right now.

800-273-8255

Adam Klein & The Wild Fires #1314

Adam Klein & The Wild Fires latest album, Sky Blue DeVille, travels further down the rock road for the songwriter, as each record meanders more in that direction. Klein’s music ranges well beyond his native Athens, Georgia, though–in fact, his last record was written and recorded in Mali.  The former Peace Corps volunteer has returned to Mali several times to maintain his friendships and connection to the nation, and the album from his last trip there, Dugu Wolo–just before the tensions with Islamist extremists escalated to the devastating level they have–will see wider release when the accompanying documentary is released.  Sky Blue DeVille is a full-fledged rock record.  In true Athens fashion, Klein has called upon friends in music over the years to contribute their talents to his projects, ranging from Randall Bramblett to David Blackmon to John Neff–keeping the Athens music circles intersecting.

Buy Sky Blue DeVille HERE on Amazon and HERE on iTunes.

Liner Notes

  • Adam Klein & The Wild Fires “Sky Blue DeVille,” “Goodnight Nobody,” “Where Our Love Is” Sky Blue DeVille
  • You should definitely check out Adam Klein’s previous album from Mali, that was only in limited release, Dugu Wolo.  I absolutely love this album.
  • Randall Bramblett “Roll” His new album, Bright Spots, will be released on May 14, 2014. Here is the CD pre-order for Bright Spots or here for Bright Spots on vinyl Bright Spots.
  • Drivin N Cryin “Scarred But Smarter” One of the best rock songs ever written. Scarred But Smarter
  • Kenney Blackmon String Band “Yew Piney” The Singing Tree Blackmon is most known for his fiddle contributions for Jerry Reed, Widespread Panic, and R.E.M. The KBSB album is really interesting–his wife, Noel Blackmon, culled lost songs from field recording sheet music and books, several of which are believed to be the first modern recordings of these songs (explanation adapted from album notes). They are dynamic live. After breaking his neck in a freak frisbee accident, it’s pretty incredible to see him jam.
  • Deer Tick “Main Street” available on AutoRip Vinyl here Divine Providence. (AutoRip means you get an automatic mp3 album download and the vinyl is shipped to you right away.) Deer Tick is headlining the Twilight Americana Festival in Athens this month.

Podcast

Drivin N Cryin EP Series

In early 2012, Drivin N Cryin announced a series of four EP’s, each with a theme. After adding guitarist Sadler Vaden and re-invigorating their tour schedule, it seemed like a brilliant move.

Kevn Kinney’s songwriting befuddles some critics, because he is so prolific and many times the “set of his best songs at that time” do not necessarily fit together in obvious ways. Fans expect the songs to range from folkie to country to punk to rock, but those who do not already “get” the band sometimes find them to be scattered.  Drivin N Cryin exemplified Americana music before the term was coined.

I’m biased. I was one of those kids who waited in line at the record store to buy Scarred But Smarter when it was released. Drivin N Cryin had a huge local following just from their live shows well before the record was even released. They were one of the few local bands who frequently did an early all ages show before their “real” shows, and we always magically managed to sneak into the ones that were not all ages. (Thanks, RB!)

In June 2012, they released Songs From The Laundromat [Explicit].

In September 2012, they released Songs About Cars, Space and The Ramones

In April 2013, they will release Songs From The Psychedelic Time Clock.

2012 and 2013 have been amazing years for the resurgence of this band. At its core, Drivin N Cryin is the weird pairing of Kevn Kinney and Tim Neilson. A radio personality in Atlanta debuted his documentary about the band, Scarred But Smarter: The Life and Times of Drivin N Cryin, in March.

Check out a bunch of teasers for the film HERE. Look for our review later this week.

Find Drivin’ n’ Cryin’s back catalog of music and the new EP’s from Drivin N Cryin on iTunes.