Jimbo Mathus

JD Wilkes #1803

Debut Studio Solo Album from JD Wilkes of Legendary Shack Shakers

JD Wilkes, the vibrant front man of the Legendary Shack Shakers and the Dirt Daubers, releases his debut studio solo album, Fire DreamBruce Watson of Fat Possum Records produced, calling upon his Mississippi hill country cadre of stellar players, including fellow Country Fried Rock alum, Jimbo Mathus (also of Squirrel Nut Zippers), Matt Patton (Drive-By Truckers), and Dr. Sick.  Fire Dream whirls like a sideshow fire dancer, with a circus feel, and a touch of Threepenny OperaYou are not completely sure if this is a beautifully crafted satire or intensely serious.  The songs in Fire Dream find influences from gypsy music and klezmer as much as old time.

Hillbilly gypsy, klezmer, and solo tour with band

Wilkes’ upcoming tour begins as a duo with his long-time bass player.  On several dates, Wilkes opens for musician and performance artists, Unknown Hinson.  By March, the JD Wilkes band tour starts. Members of the Shack Shakers will back Wilkes, but not as a Legendary Shack Shakers tour.  This is a solo album, with a live band that knows how to keep up with Wilkes’ antics.  Additionally, they are playing acoustic and often around a single mic for much of the show — definitely a departure from a LSS show!

Tom Thumb joins the band

Finally, the fifth member of the band joins JD Wilkes — a Tom Thumb piano.  Wilkes bought his Chinoiserie 64 key piano on EBay.  The 100-year old instrument tinkles from the side stage.  These smaller pianos (versus the standard 88 key instrument) often resided in restaurants and speakeasys because they were easier to move around.  Sometimes, traveling salesmen used them as demonstration pieces.  Wilkes discusses their use in Tin Pan Alley songwriting in the last century.

Jimbo Mathus: Dark Night

Jimbo Mathus was one of our top programs a couple years ago. (You can download that great podcast here). Since then, Mathus has released another full-length album with our fellow Country Fried Rock alum, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, called Dark Night of The Soul. In additional “it’s a small world” coincidences, a songwriter fan of this show, Robert Earl Reed “RER”, also happened to be one of Mathus’ close friends and collaborators. Reed was incredibly supportive of our projects for musicians’ mental health care (which you can donate to here). I “met” Reed through an online festival called Couch By Couchwest, which happens to be coming up in March. (If you are a musician, you should submit a video PDQ here.) When Reed passed away suddenly this past year, the first person I thought of was Mathus and their close friendship, music videos together, and co-writing. When I asked Mathus to update us, I offered to omit the questions about Reed, but Mathus’ heartfelt answers make this record even better.

Buy Dark Night of The Soul here on Amazon.

Sloane Spencer: Since we first talked between Blue Light and White Buffalo, you and Roscoe have worked together quite a bit in different roles. How has that relationship changed as you work with new material?

Jimbo Mathus: I have really been influenced by Roscoe’s guitar philosophy over the past few years. It’s very simple yet strangely poetic and tough at the same time. On “Dark Night” he was on the floor with us as a member of the band. So, combined with Matt Pierce and myself on guitars, many songs have three guitars all blending harmoniously with the organ, bass, drums and piano. It creates a heavy, full sound.

SS: I don’t think you’ve ever made the same album twice. What’s different about Dark Night of the Soul?

JM: Dark Night has some pretty challenging lyrical themes on it. I was influenced by the news stories of 2013, which seemed to be one mass shooting or national disaster after another. Some of the themes are drug addiction, rampant capitalism, and massive geological and seismic upheaval on planet Earth. Other themes include learning from past mistakes and the simple, profound beauty of true love.

SS: You were close friends with a musician whom I was in the process of setting up an interview when he suddenly passed away this year — Robert Earl Reed. I know y’all made some videos together, and he was a prolific, self-critical, perfectionist songwriter (based on my email conversations with him over a few years). Would you like to share anything about RER?

JM: RER and I blazed a bright arc in our brief time together. I produced his first collection of songs and mentored him on his singing and guitar playing. He, in turn, inspired me with his songs, songwriting and aesthetic. Two songs on “Dark Night” were co-written by him–“Tallahatchie” and “White Angel.” We started Repent Films together and created five music videos. He was just a person that I will never be able to replace; a true like-minded artist and Renaissance man. We just instinctively understood one another. I miss him all the time.

Featured Archive: #1229 Jimbo Mathus

Best of 2012 musician, Jimbo Mathus, has a new album out called Dark Night Of The Soul. Please enjoy this archived program following his EP, Blue Light, in anticipation of White Buffalo. The podcast at the bottom of this page is still one of our most popular. –SS

Jimbo Mathus describes himself as “original,” a word with layers of meaning for him and that he uses frequently in conversation. Mathus is one of those rare, self-taught experts in the humanities, well-versed in art history and poetry, local history and its impact on Read More

Jimbo Mathus

Country Fried Rock alum, Jimbo Mathus, writes, records, produces, or performs constantly. His latest video, “Tennessee Walker Mare” from Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition’s 2013 album, White Buffalo, shares his visual aesthetic, as well.

Catch our fantastic conversation from 2012 HERE.

Buy Jimbo Mathus’s music HERE on Amazon or HERE on iTunes.

Country Fried Rock Best of 2012

Click to page 3 to listen to the Best of 2012.

Click the titles to purchase on iTunes.  Click the album covers to purchase on Amazon.

25 The Shovel vs. The Howling Bones – Lincoln Durham

Lincoln Durham started playing violin at age 4 via the Suzuki Method of instruction. By 8, he was hiding on stage facing the wall playing fiddle with the Osceola Opry–a loose association of players who met monthly in an old wooden schoolhouse to cover Hank Williams and Bill Monroe songs for the gathered farmers and country folk. Durham picked up the guitar in his early 20′s, which captivated his interest more than the fiddle ever had. Wandering through a period of singer-songwriter expression, Lincoln still felt pulled by something different in music, but had not been able to define it for himself, let alone have it clearly expressed in music. CONTINUE

24 Michelle Malone: Day 2

This album is currently only available directly from Michelle Malone HERE.
Michelle Malone was part of the Atlanta music scene that evolved from the Indigo Girls’ success, enjoying national attention for the music of Shawn Mullins, Tinsley Ellis, and Drivin N Cryin, with her band at the time, Drag the River. The confluence of blues-tinged Southern music at the time made for an exciting music scene, that was later replaced by the still-dominant hiphop scene. Atlanta is a weird place filled with temporary residents who are not from the area, but it is also a collection of neighborhoods with their own identities and people who are part of the arts culture and give different places their distinct vibes. It is from the latter community that Michelle Malone emerges, not as an ingenue, but as the definition of the Atlanta rock sound–Southern, blues-touched, guitar-driven, but still about the song. CONTINUE

23 Sweat Like the Old Days – Holy Ghost Tent Revival

Holy Ghost Tent Revival took their lowest point in the last five years and used it as a reason to find a new sound and revive their music. It’s not any easier to pigeonhole their work than it was before the departure of their bass player and harmony vocalist, but their music is definitely easier to dance to now than it was before. Despite having almost nothing in common with bluegrass music, they are often lumped in there with old time bands–great for a festival lineup, but inaccurate in categorization. Think of the Avett Brothers with a horn section, and you are much closer to the sound of Holy Ghost Tent Revival. CONTINUE

22 Two Step Silhouette – The Corduroy Road

The Corduroy Road‘s fans sounded alarm bells when the band left their life on the road for a long hiatus, but after nearly an eight-month break, the core of the band emerged with some new players in the lineup, refreshed and ready for the next phase of the band. The Corduroy Road musically balances between Americana and bluegrass in the dance-able area we refer to as “upbeat string band.” Their songs make you move, and you might even miss the weight of some of their lyrics, such as a hunter stumbling upon a meth lab in the woods where the meth-farmer and sheriff are in cahoots. Southern Gothic lyrics to outsiders, perhaps, but just another day in the country to some of us enmeshed in baffling small-town alliances. CONTINUE

21 Death of a Decade – Ha Ha Tonka

Ha Ha Tonka records flow thematically, bound together by a premise or idea, but not so tightly as to be concept albums. Initially, the themes were obvious, like Buckle in the Bible Belt, moving towards historical, as evidenced in the album artwork for Novel Songs of the Nouveau South, but for their recent record, Death of a Decade, the idea that emerged from which these songs began surprised me: Michael Jackson’s death. As Brett Anderson explains, every decade their seems to be some iconic political or entertainment figure who passes away, somehow creating endpoints for their times by their death. Jackson was a controversial figure in life, but even his greatest detractors accede that he was one of the greatest entertainers of our era. With Michael Jackson’s passing, it was the death of a decade. CONTINUE

20 Come Home to Me – The Famous

The Famous bring together a punk influence with traditional country, yielding music that seems to emerge only from California. I always imagine skateboarders who listen to country, not for the irony, but for the cool-factor. In the case of The Famous, though, their music is as much a product of the craft brewing scene as anything else. From brew pubs to brew fests–even a song in homage to their favorite beer–The Famous have found a well-heeled, selective audience for their music in the greater San Francisco Bay region. CONTINUE

19 Waiting All Night – Derek Hoke

Derek Hoke left rock and roll in the dust years ago, finding a new sound, which he dubbed “Quietbilly,” a gentle, sweet rockabilly, now twinged with some Southern blues. His previous album, Goodbye Rock and Roll, clearly cemented Hoke’s distinguishable sound, but his recent release, Waiting All Night, explores a wider variety of rhythm, while still being a Derek Hoke record. Producer and childhood friend, Dexter Green (of Sea Lab Sound), partnered with Hoke on the project, taking their time to call upon friends to play on songs between their own touring schedules. The list of guests reads like a Who’s Who of East Nashville and legendary sidemen, and reflects on Derek’s ability to make his peers feel at ease. CONTINUE

18 Bird In The Tangle – Brett Detar

When Brett Detar ended his band, The Juliana Theory, he was not sure he would ever play music again. Seeking a change, he became the customer service department and chief stain remover for his wife’s vintage clothing shop. Detar fully escaped music, trying to evade his self-doubt about his ability to write songs or be an artist at all. During these years, every scrap of paper of a lyric or theme crammed into a box, waiting for Detar to make them into music. CONTINUE

17 Slowburner – The District Attorneys

The District Attorneys live across north Georgia, ranging from Atlanta to Athens, managing to bridge the musical divide of these very different cities–one that is much wider than the lanes of I-85.  With two homemade EP’s (which you can download for free from the band) and their first full-length record on This Is American Music, The District Attorneys have already refined their sound, bringing bare bones indie-pop together with twangy Georgia roots, as if they are the new representatives of Southern jangle pop.  Slowburner solidly places this band in with the list of best debut albums in roots music this year.  (So, I am biased. I love this record.) CONTINUE

16 Gloryland – Kevin Gordon

Kevin Gordon’s album, Gloryland, explores the blues side of roots music, with lyrics that would make the Drive-By Truckers jealous.  Gordon grew up in Monroe, Louisiana, and although he has been away for decades, the reality of life there and the people he knew bring grit to rural life without glorification.  Glorylandis not about redemption or salvation, and definitely not about glossing over the seamy and sadistic side of life in the deep South. CONTINUE


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Jimbo Mathus: New Video from White Buffalo

Recent album from Country Fried Rock alum, Jimbo Mathus.