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Video Premiere: Weston Harris Hill “Love Me, Tinder”

Song Debut from Weston Harris Hill

Weston Harris Hill has been around East Nashville for a while. Familiar faces and places in his new video attest to his place in the community of musicians. “Love Me, Tinder” will be cringe-worthy and real for anyone in the current dating scene, and bemusing for those who have not dated in the App Era. Stacie Huckeba captures the genuine friendships and bonds that help keep musicians’ heads above water.

New Album, Summer 2018

Hill’s second record, When You Least Expect It, releases late summer 2018. He recorded the album at home with a vintage Tascam, producing himself, but this is not a lo-fi, scrappy sound. With hints of Tom Petty in the Traveling Wilburys in a couple of the songs, this lead track is a modern country story song: man seeks blue-haired woman… We told you it’s modern music, even if the songs make you want to drop the top on a 1971 Mercury Cougar convertible and drive.

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Best of 2017

This week a friend described 2017 as the “Hold my beer, y’all!” to a difficult 2016 for many folks.  Music, though, soothes souls.  In that regard, 2017 was stellar. Country Fried Rock’s Top 5 of 2017, in alphabetical order by songwriters’ first names:


Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes (Chris Porter)
Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You

Porter was a dear friend to many folks connected to Country Fried Rock.  We chatted with several of the musicians who helped make his final album.  Prior to recording DGBIGGWWY, Porter described the record as “We’re gonna get weird.”  They got loud and had fun.


Hiss Golden Messenger
Hallelujah Anyhow

MC Taylor’s latest album should be in everyone’s playlists.  Hiss Golden Messenger made a cohesive album to share that life is to be lived, no matter is going on around us. Hallelujah Anyhow is a light in the darkness.  Music saves.


John Moreland
Big Bad Luv

John Moreland has been a core songwriter for Country Fried Rock since before the first Couch by Couchwest.  His latest album is so much fun, and the king of sad bastard songs stays true to himself while making a heckuva upbeat, dance-able record.


Jon Latham
Lifers

There’s actually a “missing” Country Fried Rock podcast featuring Jon Latham that has a terrible hiss in the audio file, so we have not shared it yet.  We found an audio engineer who is working his magic, and we hope to share that conversation in January.  Better late than never. Lifers is now on vinyl, so jump on it while you can!


Lilly Hiatt
Trinity Lane

Lilly Hiatt’s latest record lands on many end-of-year lists, including ours.  Trinity Lane is pleasant on the first listen, but gets into your head by the third session.  Hiatt has grown as a performer, too.  We saw her in different configurations (solo, acoustic with band, rocking hard with her band) for several shows this year, and each one was better than the last.  Stop referring to her in her father’s shadow;  Hiatt stands on her own as a songwriter and performer.

Two Wheel Gear Convertible Pannier Backpack

I used the new Two Wheel Gear Convertible Pannier Backpack for two weeks as a bicycle commuter from an in-town neighborhood to a small city co-work space in a bike-friendly Southern city. I’ve been using a “corporate backpack” that is great for vehicle commuting, but was not shaped nor designed for bicycle-commuting. Overall, I like the convertible pannier backpack, but it reminded me of a few pet peeves I have as a long-time bicycle commuter with vehicle options.

The Good

  • The shape and size of the backpack is perfect for my bike commute to co-work space. I can fit my laptop (see note below, because this is a critique, too), battery, headphones, and a full change of clothes along w/ lunch and water bottles.
  • The chest strap can be adjusted for comfort, but definitely requires planning ahead. The attachment mechanism does not come off easily. Once adjusted, they were very comfortable.
  • Enough interior and exterior pockets, but not too many. Liked the mesh interior pocket.
  • The bright yellow rain cover easily removes from the pocket for visibility and protection.
  • I stuck my bike lock in the rain cover pocket while riding.
  • The exterior charcoal material is work appropriate for the tech environment of my co-work space.
  • I was apprehensive about the lack of waist strap, but the backpack fit well while riding in a small city environment with bike lanes. It did not slide around, as I had worried.
  • The pannier attachments were easy to use, but it reminded me why I don’t like riding with panniers. By the time I got to work, the exterior of the pack was gritty from the road and just yucky. I didn’t really want it touching me once I was ready for work, whereas wearing it as a backpack, it stayed clean from road grime. I had forgotten that about fabric panniers until I commuted with this bag for 2 weeks.
  • I attached my helmet to the outside loop once I got to work.
  • The Bad

  • The interior slash pocket for the laptop is too small. The pocket itself would fit my laptop, but the opening has no stretch or give and does not open wide enough to let my computer in. We tried 3 different laptops (Asus, Lenova, and HP) and they were all just slightly too thick to fit into the pocket. Kinda defeats the point of a laptop pocket.
  • The main zippers are VERY substantial. Unfortunately, even with the red grippers, the zipper itself is hard to open and requires holding the bag in a certain way to unzip. You have to fold back the fabric all along the zipper and guide it around the opening. It stops at the curves of the top unless you guide it along. You could not open this bag one-handed.
  • The interior compartment is black, making it the deep black hole. Literally any lighter color interior would be a better choice than black.
  • I do not have locker or storage space in the co-work space, so when my riding shoes were dirty, I had to put them in a separate baggie and attach it to the outside of the bag, as I don’t want grit on the inside of the bag where my computer goes. I got one of those giant zipper style plastic bags and kept it in the backpack for those days.
  • Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a prototype Two Wheel Gear Convertible Pannier Backpack for 2 weeks of testing, which I then returned, in consideration for a gear review.

    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.

    How to Cold Pitch Digital Media for DIY Musicians

    After decades working in corporate radio, print and digital media, and PR, I’ve developed a few tips for independent musicians to increase the likelihood of gaining media coverage.

    At the AmericanaFest 2017 conference, I mentored several songwriters in quick ten-minute sessions. Everyone should have access to the #PRoTip nuggets of wisdom, so spread the word!

    “Shit Got Dark” from Upcoming Posthumous Album, Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes

    Long-time pal and friend to everyone he ever met, Chris Porter‘s final album, Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You from Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes, will be released 10/20 on Cornelius Chapel Records. Porter recorded with fellow Country Fried Rock alumni and friends, Will Johnson (Centro-Matic), John Calvin Abney, Shonna Tucker (former Drive-By Truckers), Chris Masterson & Eleanor Whitmore (The Mastersons), and intended it to be released as a farewell to Austin, TX, to relocated to Nashville. His plans with his fiancee, Andrea Juarez, were cut short by his tragic death while on tour in October 2016, when their van was rear-ended on the interstate.

    Keep your ears peeled for upcoming podcasts with several of Porter’s pals on how they worked to make sure his album reached the world, after he left this one. There will be two album release parties, in his hometowns.
    Austin, TX 10/21 Stay Gold
    Birmingham, AL 11/4 Syndicate Lounge

    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.
    electrobites_tnhotday_cropped
    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.

    In Memory of Chris Porter, Part 1

    As most of y’all know, our friend, Chris Porter, passed away in a terrible car wreck while on tour (along with touring partner, Mitch Vandenburg, and survived by drummer, Adam Nurre). I’ve been going through my old hard drives to the early days of this show, when it was a daily feature on select country stations across the country, with a brief excerpt of my interview with one song from the band, called the “Daily Plate of Country Fried Rock.” Here’s the excerpt. I also found the full interview from around 2010, and I also have a long, un-aired interview with Porter — including video — from September 2015. I have offered that audio and video to the people who will hopefully be releasing his recently completed record, if they choose to use it.

    Please support Porter’s surviving fiancee, Andrea Juarez, Adam Nurre Rehabilitation Fund, or the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians in his memory.

    XO,
    Sloane

    ***
    Here was my original post following this old conversation:

    Much like it never occurred to us that iced tea could be “out of season,” it never once crossed our minds that someone might not know what “Back Row Baptist” meant.  These Birmingham, Alabama musicians chuckle (politely, of course, to themselves) every time someone asks about the “Backroad Baptists” or where “Bagrow” is.  The Ole Miss Center for the Study of Southern Culture is the academic authority on phrases, food culture, religion, and history in the Deep South, so that’s where we turned for a definitive explanation:

    I can’t immediately find an answer to who, if it’s possible to identify anyone, first started using the term. I think it’s theologically meaningful, because the Baptists have so much emphasis on going forward to the altar–you can’t have “back row” Episcopalians or even Presbyterians. It’s also important because unlike other groups that emphasize going forward and making a commitment or testimony, various pentecostal groups for example, Baptists have a reputation for conservatism, so staying in the back is a way of being in between the action at the front and staying out of it altogether.  (Source:  Ted Ownby, personal email, 22 June 2010)

    The Back Row Baptists bring together political controversy and kickin’ country music much like Lynyrd Skynyrd did.  Throw into the mix multiple lead singers, including the amazing jazz-influenced Sarah Green, and you’ve got crank it up, party down country rock that you will love, even if it might make you think or tick you off.  It’s hard to narrow down their standard three-hour live show to one CD, but their first label-backed release allowed them the luxury of a horn section and a less rushed atmosphere.  They are influenced by the subversive lyrics and themes of Boston underground hip hop, the multi-instrumentation of The Band, and punk-ish Black Flag, which unveils itself in dark, uncomfortable themes within a rocking country sound.  As Chris Porter says, “A sign of a good Southern city is a great cemetery.”

    The band is defined by their Southern history, including the unpleasant and seedy reality of racism, exclusivity in religion, and eternal judgment in life and death.  They embrace their cultural history while throwing their more progressive, open-minded, and inclusive beliefs right in the face of fans who might be blatantly ticked off by it.  The Back Row Baptists’ music shamelessly challenges the status quo from within the culture.  Porter writes and sings from a character’s point of view rather than personal experience, while his sweeter love songs are generally sung by Green.  Porter is greatly influenced by literature, and uses those themes as conceptual starting points for many of his songs, taking a turn of a phrase and making it Southern, throwing in a touch of a Cops episode, resulting in a statement on the death penalty.  Tactful writing can get a controversial political message across without ticking off your audience.

    VIDEO PREMIERE: M. Lockwood Porter “Reach the Top”

    Written and Produced by M. Lockwood Porter
    From the album How To Dream Again on Amazon or iTunes

    “Reach The Top”

    mlockwoodporter.com
    blackmesarecords.com (US)
    hiddentrailrecords.bandcamp.com (UK & Europe)

    Video by Joseph Casey and M. Lockwood Porter
    Featuring Joseph Casey and Kris Payne
    Engineered and Mixed by Peter Labberton

    M. Lockwood Porter – vocals, guitar, harmonica

    Reach The Top

    It’s a psychopathic isolation daydream come alive:
    The worker drones still serve their queen though she’s destroyed the hive.
    Instead there’s bigger houses and some better cars to drive,
    A screen to feel connected
    A pill to kill the pain,
    A ladder to convince you that your climbing’s not in vain,
    A mortgage and a mouth to feed that keep you up at night.
    “You may reach the top one day,” they say, “if you play your cards right.”

    First, they took the farms, and then they built the factories.
    But then they took the factory jobs and they sent them overseas.
    They raised all the tuitions and told us all to get degrees.
    Now we’re deeper into debt,
    Deeper in despair,
    Deeper underwater and we’re running out of air.
    But if you want to see the rainbow, you must put up with the rain.
    “You may reach the top one day,” they say. “There’s no need to complain.”

    There’s something percolating in the poorest parts of town.
    There’s new cafes and restaurants and new money all around.
    And everywhere you go, you hear the same familiar sound.
    From Detroit to San Francisco.
    From Brooklyn to the South.
    In everything that goes into or comes out of your mouth.
    In the shirt upon your back or the very bedroom where you sleep.
    “You may reach the top one day,” they say, “but it ain’t coming cheap.”

    The suicide is sprawled upon the bloody bathroom floor.
    A policeman shot another boy and no one knows what for.
    I try to listen to the wind blow, but you can’t hear it anymore.
    There’s only smoke and static.
    There’s only noise and fear.
    There’s only so much talking until you tune out all you hear.
    There’s only buried bodies trying to shout up through the dirt.
    “You may reach the top one day,” they say, “but someone’s getting hurt.”

    Our new path to heaven’s paved with hundred dollar bills
    And a hundred ways to justify the people that we kill.
    We have now more than ever, but that won’t satisfy us still.
    Every drop of oil.
    Every drop of blood.
    Everyone who fights back lying facedown in the mud.
    Everything belongs to us no matter what the price.
    “You may reach the top one day,” they say, “but you’ll have to sacrifice.”

    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: https://igg.me/at/jon-latham-lifers
    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.