Judy Blank #1907

Dutch Americana songwriter Judy Blank records in Nashville. Blank tours in Europe because of the prohibitive cost of US work visas for musicians. American audiences will have to live off videos and her album, Morning Sun, to enjoy her take on nuanced songwriting.

European Americana Songwriter

While hip hop prevails among younger audiences in the Netherlands, Blank found her audience with an older, but dedicated demographic. US songwriters often find their first superfans in Dutch audiences, which is as much the “exotic import” factor as anything. The novelty is less for Judy Blank as a homegrown Dutch Americana musician, so her songs and performances must stand out.

Stream Judy Blank’s latest release, Morning Sun, here.

The Minks #1904

Nikki Barber of the Minks fuses arty psychedelic vibes with rock and roll. The Minks debut album, Light and Sweet, just launched on Cafe Rooster Records. Barber’s songs reflect growing up, well after coming of age.

Originally from the urban Northeast, Barber landed in Nashville following her other creative endeavor, fashion design. Music quickly took over, garnering most of her focus. She has not strayed from her fashion roots, though; Barber designs and makes her stage clothing and that of many other Nashville performers, and also sews custom alterations for select clientele.

Caleb Caudle #1804

Caleb Caudle‘s new album, Crushed Coins, builds dreamy, ethereal landscapes. The newest Country Fried Rock podcast (below) features an in-depth conversation with Caudle about recording in Los Angeles and Nashville and expanding his sound. With familiar players from his previous albums, Caudle found new sounds by keeping the plan flexible. The pedal steel goes ambient rather than country, yet it’s clearly a Caleb Caudle record. Partnering with Cornelius Chapel Records and touring extensively in the US and Europe this year, catch Caleb Caudle live and check out Crushed Coins.

Caudle also happens to love the US National Parks, having visited many of them over his years of touring. Stop by his Instagram to see some of his recent visits. We discuss a few of them in this podcast, as well as his adventure on Cayamo 2018.

Banditos #1801

Banditos Visionland, Bloodshot Records

Banditos grew as a band through relentless touring of nearly 250 shows per year.  When not on the road, they lived together in a house in Birmingham, Alabama, and later relocated to Nashville.  Their second album, Visionland, is named for a defunct theme park in rural Alabama.  The namesake fell apart due to political corruption and greed, which Banditos see recurring in our national political landscape.  Producer Israel Nash (and Ted Young) kept a calm, creative vibe during their recording. Keeping cool can be challenging with a band of three songwriters and a fully egalitarian structure.


Recently, founding member Steve Pierce returned to Alabama, and the band honed their songwriting methods by trying new ways of communicating.  Pierce emailed song ideas from Sweden at the end of the year, and when they gathered again for two weeks, the band worked together on those songs and ideas.  These foundations of their third album show Banditos’ growth as songwriters and performers.


Banditos hit the road again this winter, continuing their hectic touring, and looking ahead to where they will record their next album.

Boo Ray #1702

Boo Ray recently released Sea of Lights on vinyl, the debut release from Kindercore record pressing in Athens, GA. With a fresh mastering for vinyl and successful showcase at AmericanaFest 2017, Boo Ray and his band continue to tour the US with his distinct brand of Jerry Reed-inspired rock and roll. He’s a heckuva picker and performer and just as laid back and easy-going as you could imagine, laughing at his own jokes because they’re funny.

Catch the podcast below, or in the iTunes and other links. Essential production support for this program provided by Jay Burgess.

Gels or Gummies Got You Gagging?

Electro-Bites from Fuel100
As I’ve mentioned before, my stomach is a little…touchy…on adventures. While unidentifiable street food probably won’t bother me at all, electrolyte foods quickly leave me begging to find the bushes. Partly, it’s the texture of gels that make me want to gag when running or mountain biking, but it’s also the huge sugar hit that seems to not settle well. I thought that gummies would solve my salt-fuel challenges, but they have a dual conflict in our house: hubs eats them like magical Swedish Fish, and I find they require just too much chewing while riding, especially. I can’t stand that feeling of a gummy stuck on my back teeth. My current solution seems to work the best so far — Electro-Bites from Fuel 100.

Front of packet of fuel 100 electro-bites:  pumpkin spice, salty vanilla, simply salty

Front of packet of fuel 100 electro-bites: pumpkin spice, salty vanilla, simply salty

The first time I used Electro-Bites was on an unexpectedly hot weekend in Nashville, where we over-planned our adventures and only had hydration packs with water. We started the day hiking at Harpeth Hills, but didn’t realize it would hit the 90s before lunch. We live in flat lands and although we are usually adapted to late fall heat, the hills were kicking our tails. I’m usually careful to plan hydration, food, and electrolytes, but since we were out of town and with other people, my normal prep was off. Thankfully, I had stashed some small packets of Electro-Bites in my hydration bag.
Honestly, they looked like fish food pellets. I happened to have grabbed Salty Vanilla, Simply Salty, and Pumpkin Spice. Salty Vanilla was first up. I tossed the packet of Simply Salty to my husband, and we dug in. The good news is: there’s no way hubs is going to randomly snack on these fuel options when raiding the pantry. You’re not going to confuse Electro-Bites with candy. They were easy to chew and sort of dissolved in a slightly gritty, but not bad way. The Salty Vanilla flavor was fine and did not leave a gross aftertaste like vanilla gels do. (Ugh, that aftertaste used to gross me out!) Hubs liked the plain old salty ones. Within half an hour, we decided that the Electro-Bites were a great solution to our on-going problem of not wanting to carry electrolyte drinks AND water on various outings. The packet was around 100 calories, so just enough to perk you up, but not such a sugar jolt as to cause a crash like many electrolyte-fuel bars do. The texture was not snackable, which is good for us, but it was easy to chew and swallow while active, which is important.

After hiking the hills, we went to the swap meet. After a couple of hours wandering through the parking lot and the sheds, we were sweating like we’d actually done something worthwhile. (Haha!)

I saved the day with Electro-Bites!  So insanely hot that day.

I saved the day with Electro-Bites! So insanely hot that day.

Then, we headed to nearby Franklin, TN, to an outdoor music festival. As I mentioned, we were not prepared for the heat that weekend, and were especially unprepared with what we brought with us for the day, in terms of drinks and snacks — our fault, and we should know better! The festival was fun, but there was no shade anywhere at all. We were well past 10 miles walking for the day by the time we arrived. After wandering between the stages in search of shade, we decided to crack open the Pumpkin Spice packet of Electro-Bites, out of desperation. I love pumpkin, but I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice products.

Much to my surprise, we both really liked them. I was laughing at us for using our electrolyte fuel for a music festival, then I decided that we were geniuses. Most of the concert-goers were struggling with the heatwave and the outrageous beverage prices, so the hydration pack of water was perfect. Not exactly the half-marathon training session where I’d normally prepare my fuel-electrolyte-hydration plan, but a real life scenario where I was grateful for the weird “food” perks of my hobbies, like the newly discovered Electro-Bites! My only wish is that they came in a Salty Ginger flavor, especially for others with questionable stomachs like mine! (Now pass the spicy Samosas!)

Fuel100 electro-bites sampler pumpkin spice, salty vanilla, simply salty w/ ingredients

Fuel100 electro-bites sampler pumpkin spice, salty vanilla, simply salty w/ ingredients

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Electro-Bites for free from Fuel 100 in consideration for a gear review.

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.

AmericanaFest 2016

Decided to do a quick podcast update from my 3 favorites at AmericanaFest 2016. Lots more video to come, but here’s a taste of my favorite band that I did not previously know: Ladies Gun Club (Sally Jaye/Sarah Roberts). I also dug a #CFRalumni band that I had never seen play live and the band all my music friends most-suggested to me. Tons of great music all week!

Listen for a feature on Ladies Gun Club soon.

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.

Allen Thompson #1608

Allen Thompson Band‘s new album, Brace Yourself, is still kept under top-secret guard, but the stories leading to the title seem surreal. Thompson and band mate, Clint Maine, both broke their backs in separate accidents within a month of each other. The following year helped them expand their sound and get weirder, as they describe. Thompson called on a slew of music friends to contribute to the record, including the first single, a duet with Elizabeth Cook, “Long Time Thinkin’,” out now.

Always know about your new favorite band by clicking your favorite “Subscribe” link below!

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Kevin Gordon #1604

Kevin Gordon‘s latest album, Long Gone Time, continues his thoughtful, critical examination of reconciling your love for family with deeply held incompatible beliefs. Country Fried Rock previously featured Gordon following his album, Gloryland. Gordon again recorded with his friend and frequent guitar player, Joe V. McMahan, and funded the album with a personal twist on crowdfunding, detailed in our conversation. We recorded this program in our AirBnB in East Nashville during AmericanaFest 2015.

Buy Kevin Gordon’s music here.

Listen or download the podcast below or on SoundCloud.

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.