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Allen Thompson: Encore From 2011

Some of y’all have been with us since our early days in 2010, as a food blog with a side of music and travel, to a music blog with a side of travel and food, to an online streaming radio station, to a weekly radio program, and then dropping all the side-projects to just focus on the weekly radio show. Well, somewhere along the way, we amassed over 200 interviews, only some of which have been available in our archives for the last year or so. Many of these conversations hold up well, and the bands have only gotten better, which is how we decided to bring you our conversation from early 2011 with Allen Thompson, following his acoustic solo record, 26 Years. Since then, the Allen Thompson Band released a fantastic full band album called Salvation In The Ground that needs to be in your collection. I still listen to both records weekly, which is saying something, considering how much new music I listen to, as well.

Please excuse my exuberance and goofiness. I had not quite figured out how to express my enthusiasm without stepping on people’s words at the time. I think I know why my friends describe me as “delightfully dorky” when I listen to programs like this… –Sloane Spencer (Host)

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Dustbowl Revival #1327

Zach Lupetin advertised for some bandmates on Craig’s List, and from that post, Dustbowl Revival formed. Over the years, this collective of musicians (it’s not exactly a fixed band lineup and not a revolving door, either) has released several records refining their sound from stringband to to multi-instrumental roots swing with drums, horns, and nearly every stringed instrument you can imagine! With influences ranging from Stevie Wonder to opera to the Rolling Stones, you can imagine the challenge of creating a cohesive vision for their own songs and the traditional songs they arrange. Dustbowl Revival’s latest album, Carry Me Home, most fully embodies the energy of their live shows without becoming a chaotic mess of instrumentation. Have fun and dance in your car to this one!

Liner Notes

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Sam Doores #1309

Sam Doores collaborates in recording and performing, making creative and practical decisions that allow his songs to reach as many audiences as possible. Whether Doores is playing solo, with his band, in a duo setting with a stompbox, or as part of Hurray for the Riff Raff, the versatile musician and songwriter is adding more to his professional toolbox. Doores’ influences range from Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie, to knowledge by necessity with a weekly four-hour gig just off Bourbon Street in New Orleans–fusing the music of Allen Toussaint, old R&B, swamp pop, and traditional country with Irish barroom tunes. Such a diverse setlist allowed him to develop his own skills and sounds as he crafted and improved his own songwriting.

Liner Notes

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Whitehorse #1301

Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet joined creatively to form Whitehorse, after many years of successful, separate music careers in Canada.   Their first release together sounded like alternating their individual sounds, but their new album, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, creates a new sound that is neither his nor hers, but theirs.  With this record, Whitehorse decided to expand into the States.  Leaving their comfort zone of Canada and their established careers proved challenging–not just in building new audiences, but also in the realistic logistics of constant touring and creating their sound with limited personnel.

Making music work right now requires more than just being “all in” with the art; it also necessitates the leanest live interpretation of a band’s music possible, without compromising the ethos.  Financially, many songwriters have opted for stripped down touring with the lofty goal of just breaking even while on the road.  Whitehorse holed up in a cottage on a lake and crafted a live performance with just the two of them–yet still nearly replicating the layered sounds of their studio album.

By seamlessly integrating technology–particularly a brilliant use of a looping pedal–and alternative gear like an old-fashioned telephone receiver as a microphone, Whitehorse crafted a dynamic and fascinating live show full of instrumentation and sound.  Their set is not a note-for-note replication of their album, but a creative extension of the vibe of their songwriting.  The performance mesmerizes audiences.  Whitehorse is poised to dominate late-night television, and engage fans in a variety of genres.  Our prediction?  By the end of 2013, the duo will dominate critics’ picks lists and people who see them live will win over their own friends to being fans of Whitehorse.  The Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss is sleek, but Whitehorse’s show is spell-binding.

Liner Notes

  • Whitehorse The Fate of the World Depends on This KissWhitehorse  I was familiar with both Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet’s prior work, then I had the honor of emceeing their showcase at the Americana Music Festival 2012 at the High Watt, Nashville.  Their set was mesmerizing.  Of all the 2012 AMA showcases, this was one of the best.  If you get the chance, you really must see them live.
  • k.d. lang Absolute Torch and Twang “Big, Big Love” Absolute Torch and Twang - k.d. lang
  • Sarah McLachlan Rarities “Blackbird” She has a beautiful voice, and I just really like this Beatles tune. Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff, Vol. 2 - Sarah McLachlan
  • Sloan One Chord to Another “Good in Everyone” (the bevy of drummers on Whitehorse’s album) A Sides Win: Singles 1992-2005 - Sloan
  • The Weakerthans Reconstruction Site (more from the bevy of drummers) Reconstruction Site - The Weakerthans
  • Lee DorseyFreedom For The Funk “Wonder Woman”  The title of Whitehorse’s album comes from a vintage Wonder Woman comic, but I have always loved Dorsey’s soul and funk, and this fits lyrically more than the campy TV theme.  Besides, in case you did not grow up knowing his music, this album is a great place to start. Soul Mine - The Greatest Hits & More 1960-1978 - Lee Dorsey
  • Trampled By Turtles Stars And Satellites  “Midnight on the Interstate”  Chosen because TBT was also on the Festy bill in 2012, but also because of the discussion about life on the road and avoiding the cliche of road songs, while still acknowledging that is one’s actual life.  Stars and Satellites - Trampled By Turtles

Podcast

#1251 Bloodkin

Bloodkin’s 25th anniversary box set, One Long Hustle, is everything a retrospective should be, yet it is completely new, too. The booklet of the band’s history reminisced and revealed by Daniel Hutchens, the collection of previously unreleased tracks, and the stories they tell are as much about Athens, Georgia’s musical spiderweb as they are of the band itself. Despite collaboration with legends like Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrison of the Velvet Underground and Southern stalwarts like Gov’t Mule, Bloodkin might be the band that was always there for every amazing show– that you have never heard of before…but you have probably heard their music.

Friends and conspirators with the guys in Widespread Panic from the beginning, many of Hutchens’ and Eric Carter’s songs gained notoriety when played by the jam band, like “Can’t Get High,” “True to My Nature,” and “Henry Parsons Died.”  One Long Hustle is like being transported to the nights you might have missed at their famed High Hat residency “way back when.”  Bloodkin’s songs sound like them, but definitely do not sound the same.  They travel through their different sounds in a natural flow, bringing their own history, the sounds of their friends who play on various tracks, and their latest muse with them.

What appeals most about One Long Hustle is the breadth of the recordings:  living room tapes on a 4-track Tascam, cleaned up in the studio by David Barbe, but wisely not sanitized into a shiny version apart from the original, studio outtakes from a variety of formal and informal sessions throughout the Southeast,and alternate takes that did not make an album playlist for one reason or another.  Bloodkin’s 25th anniversary is not just about history; it’s also about where they are headed.  They recorded a few new tunes for the release, too.  Listening to all 88 songs carries me through the 25 years of Georgia music that formed me, too, from the Athens, Georgia Inside Out days (which was around or just before when Hutchens and Carter arrived from West Virginia) to the current success of The Whigs or Drive-By Truckers.

Author’s Note:  Bloodkin generously donated “Henry Parsons Died” for a worldwide debut for Country Fried Rock’s Compilation Vol. 1 to Benefit Nuci’s Space in Athens, GA, available for free download here.  Please consider a generous donation to Nuci’s Space in return for the download.  They prevent musician suicide by removing barriers to mental health care and a lot more. 100% of the money in the compilation’s “tip jar” goes directly to Nuci’s. I personally covered all the expenses of the album. SS

Liner Notes

  • Bloodkin You should buy the One Long Hustle box set from the band just for the amazing liner notes.  The music is, of course, worth every penny.  Bloodkin
  • Widespread Panic Hugely supportive of Bloodkin’s music, recording and playing several tunes from Hutchens and Carter over the last 25 years. Widespread Panic
  • Vic Chesnutt Athens’ songwriter (anti-)hero, who passed away a few years ago. At least 2 documentaries  about him are floating around. Vic Chesnutt
  • The Rolling Stones Some Girls (Deluxe Version)Some Girls (Deluxe Edition) - The Rolling Stones
  • Bob Dylan Street-LegalStreet-Legal - Bob Dylan
  • Brute (Originally, a collaboration between Vic Chesnutt and some of the members of Widespread Panic.  On the second album, I believe the whole band joined Chesnutt.  WP still plays “Blight,” and other Chesnutt songs, like “Aunt Avis,” regularly.)  Nine High A PalletNine High a Pallet - Brute
  • Sugar: Copper Blue (Deluxe Remaster) Engineer and producer to the stars, songwriter, singer, player, leader of the Quick Hooks, David Barbe also played bass in Sugar.  Bob Mould (formerly of Husker Du) still plays these songs regularly. Sugar
  • The Heap: Deluxe The Heap horns. So fabulous that they are going to be the bed music for the 2013 Country Fried Rock radio shows.Deluxe - The HEAP
  • Betsy Franck Franck was featured in 2011 on Country Fried Rock. She is a fixture of Athens’ current music scene, singing on hundreds of bands’ albums, in addition to her own music. This Far - Betsy Franck
  • Taxi Driver (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition), the Robert de Niro movie, from which the character Travis Bickle’s line forms the title for this box set. Taxi Driver

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Podcast

#1250 Gretchen Peters

When Gretchen Peters decided to write about her private upheaval of the last few years, she chose to record these songs herself.  Calling on a small circle of close friends, including her new husband–but longtime bandmate–Barry Walsh, Peters crafted a dark but cathartic album.  For listeners familiar with her previous albums, Peters’ voice explores the lower end of her register, hinting at the difference in this theme and what is to come in Hello Cruel World.

Most Americana fans know Rodney Crowell for his songwriting and performing, but to Peters and Walsh, he was also their marriage officiant, with a certificate straight off the Internet.  Despite their familiarity with each other, Peters was a bit intimidated to work with Crowell on this record, and especially on the song that turned into their duet.  Even noted songwriters like Peters can have professional idols and a little bit of fangirl-dom, too!

Country Fried Rock probably would not have been tapped into Peters’ album if she had not stopped by  Couch By CouchWest 2012, a virtual music festival held each March.  In this event, songwriters send exclusive videos of themselves performing from a couch–or elevator, sofabed, recliner–and music fans all over Twitter join in.  This year, #CXCW went crazy when noted writers Ray Wylie Hubbard and Gretchen Peters, respectively, sent in videos.  Thanks to a fun time on the Internet, we rediscovered a writer we may have overlooked.

Liner Notes:  Gretchen Peters has extensive liner notes for Hello Cruel World on her website.
Gretchen Peters Hello Cruel World [Explicit] Gretchen Peters
Kim Richey Wreck Your WheelsWreck Your Wheels - Kim Richey
Daddy (Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack) For A Second Time Kim Richey
Mickey Newbury An American Trilogy Mickey Newbury
Bob Dylan and The Band The Basement Tapes The Basement Tapes - Bob Dylan & The Band

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#1247 Humming House

Humming House reversed all the normal processes for their first album.  When songwriter Justin Wade Tam went into the studio for a one-off single recording with legendary producer Mitch Dane, Tam did not even have a band assembled.  As he gathered his friends and their friends to fill the instrumentation he wanted for his songs, his professional relationship with Dane and the players grew, and the opportunity to record an album seemed possible.  As the assembly of players readied for the process, a family emergency pulled Dane away unexpectedly and the pre-production was scrapped as they were gratefully handed over to colleague Vance Powell to record the album–a happy accident, for sure.

In the process of recording the album, the group of players revealed themselves to be a band.  Although they did not start out that way, by the time the album was finished, Humming House had forged a musical path together.  As they have taken the album on the road over the past year, they have matured as a group, yielding clearer musical voices for each of the players and a more collaborative approach to the new songs they have written.  Humming House is already tossing around ideas for their next album, which will highlight Kristen Rogers soulful vocals more like their live shows than their first record indicates.

Humming House plays regularly, keeping their performances lively and throwing in unexpected covers, like Whitney Houston, Bill Withers, and the Beastie Boys–even the Ghostbusters Theme for Halloween.  They have become a band and putting the cart before the horse did not send them down the wrong path.  They started with their dream team, and have lived up to it as they have grown.

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  • Humming House “Gypsy Django,” “Stop Me Still,” “Young Enough to Try”Humming House
  • Angel Snow “Lie Awake”Angel Snow
  • Andrew Combs “Worried Man” Andrew Combs
  • Beastie Boys “Intergalactic”Beastie Boys
  • The Dirt Daubers “Wake Up Sinners”The Dirt Daubers
  • Kristen Rogers “Don’t Let Me Win” (Could not find a link.)
  • The Raconteurs “The Switch and the Spur”The Raconteurs
  • Carolina Story “Carry Me Home” Carolina Story

Podcast

#1241 The Pollies

The Pollies’ record almost did not happen. Songwriter, Jay Burgess, began recording some of the songs nearly 2 years ago, in what he now considers demo tapes, but the intent was not to make a record; it was merely a side-project from his previous band, Sons of Roswell. As it became apparent that Sons of Roswell were fading away, Burgess’ writing never ceased, and the demo recordings became more of a focus. Fellow musician friends from the Shoals area of Alabama (the “Quad Cities”) came and went with the project, leaving national acts to go solo again and others finding an international audience seemingly overnight for their other bands. Thus has been the whirlwind impacting what has ultimately become Where the Lies Begin, The Pollies’ debut record on This Is American Music record label.

Essentially, the album was recorded twice. Chris James (also formerly of Sons of Roswell), Daniel Stoddard (who also plays with Dylan LeBlanc), Matt Green (also with Belle Adair), Ben Tanner (also with the Alabama Shakes), and Reed Watson round out the current lineup for the Pollies, demonstrating the interwoven, mutually supportive music community of the Shoals. Mutual friends’ support for the demos and internet leaks of songs via YouTube ultimately led Burgess to bring focus to the Pollies project and make it a real band with a real focus on making a record. As it all came together, the visual presentation of the album helped define its title and ultimately, the theme: Where the Lies Begin.

Chris James had the idea for a bird’s nest and reverse side of an album cover with smashed eggs in a nest for a long time, but it was in discussing the songs on this record with Burgess that the complete concept revealed itself. In what others have described as “Southern Gothic rock and roll,” sometimes the adult realization that the stories your family tells about itself are not accurate. The deeper story that lies beneath is darker, more uncomfortable, and less simplistic than the tales we repeat trying to make them be true. A favorite uncle might also beat his wife. Your granddad might have spent his life abusing your grandmother. What happened behind closed doors does not go away by ignoring it. Such are the stories that lead to where these lies began.

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  • The Pollies Where the Lies Begin “Good for Nothing,” “Something New,” “Little Birdie” (Direct from their labelWhere the Lies Begin - The Pollies
  • Ramones “Commando” Ramones
  • Doc Dailey “Picture Frames” from the upcoming release (International debut of this song!) Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil
  • Belle Adair “No Reply” Belle Adair
  • Sons of Roswell “In the Moonlight” (not available on Amazon or iTunes)
  • Alabama Shakes (from their original EP when they were still a four-piece called The Shakes, before Ben was regularly part of the touring band) “On Your Way” Alabama Shakes
  • Jason Isbell “In a Razor Town” (chosen because the lyrics reference a female character with abuse in her past, as part of the conversation about truth revelaing itself in our personal stories) Jason Isbell
  • Centro-Matic “Twenty Four” Centro-Matic
  • Neutral Milk Hotel “Holland, 1945” Neutral Milk Hotel


Country Fried Rock

Podcast

#1240 Greensky Bluegrass

“Sometimes, we’re the weird band in a bluegrass festival; sometimes, we’re the bluegrass band in a weird festival.” Either way, Greensky Bluegrass fans will pack their festivals, large and small, usually for the entire run of their shows. From their home base in Michigan, Greensky Bluegrass rapidly developed a devoted following and spread that dedication to their music across the country playing hundreds of shows per year for years on end. The hard work has paid off, as the band is readily mentioned in the same phrases as Yonder Mountain String Band and the Infamous Stringdusters–bluegrass-ish bands with more in common than just their feat of bringing the hippies into the bluegrass fold; the three bands also share a songwriting mentor in Benny Galloway.

For modern bluegrass players who did not grow up with an Appalachian music heritage, pickers are usually brought into the style in two major ways: either they played punk rock and found the traditional instrumentation appealing, or they were jamband fans, who followed the path from The Grateful Dead through Jerry Garcia to Old and in the Way to David Grisman, Tony Rice, and pretty soon, they were playing Flatt and Scruggs tunes. While the traditional and progressive bluegrass camps may not always agree about “bluegrass,” the latter methods have brought more young musicians under the tent. In about five minutes of listening, fans can easily tell which influences formed the band.

Anders Beck joined Greensky Bluegrass after an earlier run with the Wayword (sic) Sons.  As it became apparent that the Wayword Sons were not going to be a full-time touring band, Beck decided to examine the bands who were making music he liked who were also on the road constantly  and determine which ones could benefit from the addition of a dobro.  After a tour to test each other out, Beck became part of the band nearly five years ago.  Since then, his instrumentals and hooks have added to the main songwriting of Greensky’s mandolin player, Paul Hoffman (who, interestingly, writes songs on acoustic guitar).  To find out Beck’s connection to Metallica, though, you’ll have to listen to the radio show.

Songs in this week’s radio show:
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