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Updated October 2008


News Archive

2006/ 2007/2008


American Roots Music     History of Alt.Country

Gram Parsons    Emmylou Harris   Townes van Zandt      Blaze Foley

 Doug Sahm     Neil Young    Whiskeytown    Hazeldine     Calexico


Steve McCormick
talks about
"Lowlights and Footnotes"

by Johanna B. Bodde
Reckless Kelly

by Steve Schmidt

Pete Marshall
(The Broken Prayers)

talks about

by Johanna B. Bodde

"Carried To Dust"

(Sept 4th)
“CARRIED TO DUST is, at least partially, the story of a writer in Los Angeles around the time of the writers’ strike we had a while back in late 2007,” CALEXICO’s Joey Burns explains. “Our hopper heads out east on a whim and a dry Santa Ana tail wind. Stopping at the Yucca Valley swap meet he buys an old road map with a route already marked with red pen. It leads him to a cabin, and from the cabin to a chain of other small town thrift stores, picking up old copies of National Geographic magazines along the way. Stories about snow drops in Moscow, leaning houses in Valparaiso, abandoned neighborhoods in New Orleans, and a manmade lake full of cell phone trees creep their way into his notes. He finds further inpiración at old roadside diners, bending an ear to each waitress and the local news over badly brewed coffee. The break proves to be enlightening. He falls in love with the newly found space and being carried along spontaneity's spark.”

There’s always been intrigue and adventure at the heart of CALEXICO. Ever since they were a largely instrumental duo experimenting with their unique collection of instruments and soundtrack sensibilities, Joey Burns and John Convertino have constantly imbued their music with an unparalleled sense of drama, calling upon the myths and iconography of the American West and its Spanish speaking neighbour Mexico, equal parts Sergio Leone, Larry McMurtry, Carlos Fuentes and Cormac McCarthy. Naming themselves after a town near the Californian / Mexican border in honour of this cultural mélange, they’ve spent the eighteen years since they met in Los Angeles mapping out musical territory that had otherwise been neglected or at the very least considered the preserve of historians. Now, with CARRIED TO DUST, they have defined that sound, calling upon almost two decades of exploration and an ensemble of musicians that must surely be the envy of bands throughout the world. CARRIED TO DUST represents the pinnacle of their achievement, a thrilling and moving journey through a landscape that draws upon the modern world as much as it does the decayed reminders of times past, stumbling upon unexpected delights whilst always moving forward with a pioneering sense of purpose. It presents a vivid picture of a world in which listeners can immerse themselves much as one is caught up in the tangled narrative of a Steinbeck novel or the imagery of a John Ford film, and confirms CALEXICO as one of the great American bands of the 21st Century.

CALEXICO’s music has always mirrored Burns and Convertino’s penchant for new experiences. From their intimate beginnings on Spoke, their dusty but highly evocative debut album, they’ve never shied away from embracing whatever inspires them. As their horizons have expanded, through both their relentless touring schedule and growing reputation, they have been able to call upon a growing community of collaborators and an ever-increasing familiarity with music from around the world, integrating both seamlessly into their idiosyncratic sound.

Known for their ability to adapt to working with other musicians – from Nancy Sinatra to Neko Case– the cast on CARRIED TO DUST includes Sam Beam, who appears on ‘House Of Valparaiso’, a furthering of their work together on Iron And Wine’s breakthrough release In the Reins. Tortoise/Brokeback mainstay Douglas McCombs contributes to the ghostly sounds of album closer ‘Contention City’, and Canadian chanteuse Pieta Brown lends her plaintive charms to ‘Slowness’, “one of the album’s few love songs”, Burns admits. Amparo Sanchez (of Amparanoia, whose solo debut was recently recorded in Tucson with CALEXICO and who appeared on fourth album Garden Ruin) guests on ‘Inpiración’, while Jairo Zavala – another acclaimed Spanish artist to benefit from CALEXICO’s production and playing skills on his forthcoming album – contributes to a number of tracks, including the upbeat opener ‘Victor Jara’s Hands’. Meanwhile, on ‘Bend To The Road’, Mickey Raphael – who CALEXICO met while working on the soundtrack to the acclaimed Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There – shows why his understated harmonica skills have not only earned him a place in Willie Nelson’s band since the mid 1970s, but have also seen him work with the likes of U2, Emmy Lou Harris and Neil Young.

Carrie Rodriguez
"She ain't me"

By the sound of things, that definitely isn't our girl Carrie on the back cover stylin' in the Christian Louboutin footwear. Nah, the girl inside is far too keen on tearing into it until she has firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with than to be worried about getting all gussied up like that.

She Ain't Me is the sophomore effort we all hoped it would be. Stronger and ballsier than her distinctive debut, 2006's cosmic country mix Seven Angels On A Bicycle. Free of Chip Taylor's nurturing, if sometime overbearing influence, She Ain't Me is Carrie's disc pure and simple, with every song serving as a step forward, bringing new delights with each listen.

Co-writing with a host of collaborators, among them Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, fellow Americana rooted Mary Gauthier, Semisonic's Dan Wilson and Son Volt's Jim Boquist, has expanded Rodriguez views and themes, and a bold course is set from get go. Launching from Infinite Night to the poppy title track into the ringingly plaintive Rag Doll ("You make it hard for me to love you/But I just do it even more") and then into the fiddle driven hard truths of Absence makes for a powerful sting. The enticing groove of El Salvador bounces appealingly and almost deceptively into the hard rocking sneer/indictment of the right wing, Mask Of Moses. With Lucinda Williams drawling behind her, Rodriguez implores "C'mon, take off your mask of Moses/ So we can believe what you say".
Malcolm Burn's atmospheric, yet strangely grounded production gives each song a unique stamp while providing Rodriguez with a wide stage to swagger on. And gladly she takes full advantage of the setting to showcase a smoky maturity to her free range vocals which accompany her daunting fiddle and mando-guitar playing. She Ain't Me is the work of artist who plans on being around a while.

written by Mike Jurkovic

Little Feat and friends
"Join the band"
by Michael Quinn
26 June 2008

Join The Band arrives 29 years almost to the day that Little Feat founder Lowell George passed away at the age of 34.

What he might have made of this decidedly relaxed trawl by surviving band members through the back catalogue in the company of assorted 'friends' is probably best left unanswered. A nod towards modernity throws in material new to the band, most notably in the shape of Wood Guthrie's anthemic This Land is Your Land.

A cautionary word to begin with: if the word 'friends' has fabled Feat collaborators such as Dylan, Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson or John Lee Hooker leaping excitedly to mind, heightening the anticipation of what is to come, prepare to be disappointed.

The brightest luminary to be found here is Emmylou Harris who brings the curtain down on the 14-track compendium with an agreeable enough cover of 1972's Sailin' Shoes, the title track of the band's second album. Arguably, Bob Seger could also lay claim to A-List credentials, and certainly he delivers a red-blooded version of the Jeffrey Steele penned Something In The Water with all the country-rocker credentials he can muster.

After that, well… it really all depends on whether you remember Little Feat as something more than mere bluesy, alt-country crooners. And whether your boat is floated by the thought of Vince Gill (who puts in two appearances, most successfully on Spanish Moon from 1974's fourth long-player, Feats Don't Fail Me Now), or another two-time guest, Jimmy Buffett, who reprises his own Will Kimbrough/Gwil Owen-penned signature, Champion Of The World, with wistful rootsy conviction.

The trouble is, the more you listen to these perfectly adequately delivered performances, the more you begin to detect an unsettlingly self-satisfied accent, one heightened rather than diluted by the assembled fawning extras, who include banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, slide guitar bluesman Sonny Landreth, and rhinestone-coated country-and-western duo, Brooks and Dunn.

Making an album just because you can is surely not enough reason to actually do so, especially when it turns out to be as self-referentially dull and uninspiring as this.

It's probably best not to wonder what the inspirational Lowell George would have made of this schmaltzy flavour-free smorgasbord. One for completists only.

01. Fat Man In The Bathtub - feat. D. Matthews & S. Landreth

02. Something In The Water - featuring Bob Seger
03. Dixie Chicken - featuring Vince Gill and Sonny Landreth
04. See You Later Alligator - featuring Jim Mayer
05. Champion of the World - featuring Jimmy Buffett
06. The Weight - featuring Bela Fleck and Mike Utley
07. Don't Ya Just Know It
08. Time Loves A Hero - featuring Jimmy Buffett
09. Willin' - featuring Brooks and Dunn
10. This Land is Your Land
11. Oh Atlanta - featuring Chris Robinson
12. Spanish Moon - featuring Vince Gill
13. Trouble - featuring Inara George
14. Sailin' Shoes - featuring Emmylou Harris

The Wrights
"In the summertime"

This duo decided to go the covers route for this self released album. It’s a great stroll through anyone’s record collection. It features acoustic covers of Roger Miller, Stephen Fromholtz, A. P. Carter, Tim Carroll, Mississippi John Hurt and others. It’s the perfect disc for a summer picnic or just a late afternoon on the front porch with the sun going down. All selections were recorded using retro equipment and mics with no overdubs. We wouldn’t change a thing.

Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis
"Two Men With The Blues"

The event was simply billed as "Willie Nelson Sings the Blues," but the historic two-night stand on January 12 and 13, 2007 at Jazz at Lincoln Center was far more than that. Call it a summit meeting between two American icons, Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis, two of the most significant figures in modern-day country and jazz, who discovered common ground in their love for jazz standards and the blues. Their performance stirred the sounds of New Orleans, Nashville, Austin and New York City into a brilliantly programmed mix that was equal parts down-home and cosmopolitan, with plenty of swing and just a touch of melancholy. To say that these shows were a hot ticket would be an understatement. Luckily, the tapes were rolling and the results of this unique collaboration now constitute the Blue Note album Two Men With The Blues for everyone who couldn`t cram into The Allen Room. Featuring great playing from one of the hottest bands around these classic tracks are given new life by the extraordinary dual talents of Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. At a time when most people are thinking of retirement, Willie has never been busier. His profile has been high in recent weeks with his various career retrospective releases and sold out tour and this album can rightly stake it`s place alongside anything else he has done. Wynton rarely sounds so relaxed and both of these musical giants are clearly having the time of their lives together on these new interpretations of some of the greatest songs of the 20th century.

Ry Cooder
"I, flathead"
Many of guitarist Ry Cooder's best albums are movie scores, including the folk-culture clash of 1985's Alamo Bay and the purple-prairie atmospheres of 1989's Paris, Texas. So it makes sense that, offscreen, he writes music like a film director. I, Flathead completes Cooder's trilogy of albums about endangered subcultural California (following 2005's Chavez Ravine and 2007's My Name Is Buddy), and a deluxe edition of this CD comes with a novella. You will need it to fully grasp the concept — Cooder plays a fictional race-car driver and struggling country singer, Kash Buk — but it is easy to enjoy the songs as individual scenes, by turns sultry (the mariachi-R&B opener "Drive Like I Never Been Hurt"), comic (the Western-swing gag "Spayed Kooley") and romantic (the cantina-band yearning of "Filipino Dance Hall Girl"). Cooder sings the album's best number, "5,000 Country Music Songs," in character, as Buk, but in a way closer to the 1972 gem "Boomer's Story" — like a guy making slow headway in an indifferent world, to tart, poignant guitar-playing that is a sweet, short movie in itself. 

David Fricke

Los Lonely Boys
There’s no question mark after the title of Los Lonely Boys’ third album, “Forgiven,” but it sure couldn’t hurt. The last time we heard from the brothers Garza, bassist JoJo and drummer Ringo were still dogged by assorted drug and assault charges. “Sacred,” the album they were promoting at the time, was rising up the charts, yeah, thanks to the carry-over popularity of the song “Heaven” from their self-titled debut, but it was hard not to feel disgusted by the air of moral decline.

Enter big brother Henry, who pleads their case on the new album’s title track. “Can you take it away, Lord?” he sings, “Help me change my ways of living.” He seems sincere (hey, we’ve all known a little moral decline), and the brothers are in rare form.

Indeed, Los Lonelys’ voices are glued together on harmonies honed under the tutelage of an exacting father. And Henry and JoJo’s lyrics preach virtue without being pedantic: their themes include self-affirmation, introspection and perseverance. The best yet is Henry’s shredding in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan, which is in full effect on “Heart Won’t Tell a Lie;” you can feel the song’s gigantic guitar intro percolating under Ringo’s congas from a mile away, but it still gets you every time.

“Forgiven” was recorded at East Side Stages in Austin, and includes Dr. John on three tracks, among them the funky “You Can’t See the Light.” Instead of a traditional studio environment, Los Lonelys re-created their live setup. That’s an approach that screams, “We just wanna forget everything else and play for the sake of playing.” And that’s exactly what “Forgiven” sounds like — done-good Texas boys playing their smooth “Texican” blend of rock ‘n’ roll, pop and the blues because they don’t know what else to do.

So, are they — forgiven, that is? Well, it’s not really a “yes” or “no” question.

Recommended tracks: “Staying With Me,” “I’m a Man.”

Jefferson Pepper
"American Evolution II"

The second volume of Jefferson Peppers three-cd series covers fifty years of musical and cultural evolution from 1941 to 1991. Recorded in a cabin in the Conewago Mountains of Pennsylvania by Pepper and engineer Marshall Deasy; additional recording was completed in Nashville by Tim Lorsch, who o-produced Sam Bakers `Mercy` and `Pretty World.`. Special guests include Fats Kaplin (Kane Welch Kaplin, Roy Bookbinder, Pure Prarie League), Tim Lorsch (Sam Baker, Kris Kristofferson, Mary Gauthier, Lucinda Williams, Allison Moorer, Rodney Crowell), Gene Rabbai (Neil Young, Willie Nelson) and more. (American Fallout)

John Mellencamp
"Life Death Love And Freedom"
Earlier this year, John McCain used John Mellencamp's hits "Our Country" and "Pink Houses" during stump speeches, until the Democratic singer asked him to stop. It's unlikely that the Republican candidate would find anything useful for his campaign on Life, Death, Love and Freedom. Mellencamp teamed up with producer T Bone Burnett to create a whole new sound — a set of textured, atmospheric folk and country blues that adds up to one of the most compelling albums of Mellencamp's career. There's not a bright, catchy riff or fist-pumping populist anthem to be found among these brooding, low-key songs about growing old, sick, lonely and pessimistic.

Burnett brings a fuzzy moodiness to the gospel hymn "If I Die Sudden" and the Springsteen-like "Don't Need This Body," both underpinned by distorted guitars and reverb-heavy leads. Politically motivated songs like "Jena," about the racially charged Jena 6 trial in Louisiana, and "Young Without Lovers," a more general plea for tolerance, sometimes strain to deliver a Big Message, with lines like "Let the people have the right to be different." But Mellencamp excels at the simple tunes: the twangy "My Sweet Love," kick-started by a big Bo Diddley beat and sweetened with female harmonies, and "A Ride Back Home," his desperate plea to Jesus over spare, ragged guitars. Life's dark undertones may not make for easy listening, but Mellencamp's raspy drawl has only gotten more soulful with age.

Mark Kemp

"Mile By Mile"

Mile by Mile is how Honeybrowne has gained its large, loyal and growing fan base. It also happens to be the title of the bands fourth studio release on Smith music. Strong songwriting, edgy musicianship, and their availability to fans have kept Honeybrowne a staple in the regional Texas music circuit for ten (plus) years. Mile by Mile, produced by one of Austins best, Mark Addsion (Bob Schneider, Ian Moore), is a must have for music lovers who dig the roots rock, Americana, alt-country sound and will continue Honeybrownes reign as one of the best in the scene. (Smith Music)

"Last Country Album"
Regulars at Austin's Continental Club, Heybale would stand out if for no other reason than the pedigrees of its members. Merle Haggard sideman Redd Volkaert is one of the Telecaster visionaries of his generation. Earl Ball played keys on the Byrds' Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, produced Haggard's 1970 Bob Wills tribute album, and later toured with Johnny Cash. Gary Claxton is an experienced vocalist, bassist Kevin Smith worked with Brian Setzer, and Tom Lewis drummed with the Wagoneers and Raul Malo. They deliver an effective blend of standards, including Willie Nelson's "Mr. Record Man" and Faron Young's 1971 hit "Step Aside". Augmented by guest pickers, the quintet shines on the country-jazz instrumental "Haybalin'" and Bob Wills' "Hang Your Head In Shame". Claxton's moody, first-rate original "House Of Secrets" feels like an undiscovered Patsy Cline recording; his "California Wine" and Ball's "Livin' In A Cheap Motel" each reflect a similar, timeless edge. Ball's sing-alongs, "Honky Tonk Mood" and "Everything -- About Drinking", fit the band's barroom sensibilities. Nothing here pushes any musical boundaries. It's all about unadorned Texas honky-tonk and dance music, something Heybale delivers flawlessly.

Hacienda Brothers
"Arizona Motel"
The passing of Chris Gaffney in April, 2008 led to much anticipation for his last recordings. “Arizona Motel” is a superb memorial to the multi-talented artist, showcasing not only his singing and writing, but the depth of emotions he delivered effortlessly with friend and fellow band member Dave Gonzalez.

From the faded love song opening the CD”A Lot Of Days Are Gone,” a somewhat eerie feeling begins as Gaffney sings of time slipping away. This feeling, however, subsides as the listener is drawn to the powerful passion in each song. “Ordinary Fool” along with “I Still Believe” highlight why the Hacienda Brothers are well known for their soulful traditional country ballads.
Gaffney delivers perhaps the most moving performance with “Use To The Pain,” which was co-written by Gonzalez and producer Dan Penn. The lonely despair in this song permeates throughout, driving this poignant song home.
“Soul Mountain,” which was written by Gaffney, is an uplifting gospel revival number that paints a more joyous outlook on life. The contributing background vocals add to the fervor quite well.

The Hacienda Brothers include an outstanding instrumental entitled “Light It Again Charlie,” which allows Gonzalez to display his keen bluesy guitar, along with Joe Terry on Piano and Gaffney on accordion.

There are three covers included here, which add much to the variety. Connie Smith’s “I’ll Come Running” takes on a more Bakersfield sound. “When You’re Tired of Breaking Other Hearts,” written by Hank Williams is a well done shuffle by Gaffney. The vocal arrangements add to the haunting despair on Bill Deaton’s “Divorce Or Destroy.”

The Hacienda Brothers fourth album is certainly their most poignant. Filled with a mixture of ballads, soulful country, and blues, this CD displays how the Hacienda Brothers had matured. With the unfortunate passing of Gaffney, one can only wonder where it goes from here.

The Fugs
"Don`t Stop Don`t Stop (Box)"

Priceless hoard of previously-unheard material joins The Fugs’ first two epochmaking albums

The Fugs were New York’s first punk band, broadsiding out of the East Village in the mid-60s with a new style of ribald, urban blues which lambasted the government while smashing social taboos and blasting the Vietnam War. They formed in late 1964 after activist writer Ed Sanders joined forces with downtown beat poet Tuli Kupferberg, plus musicians including drummer/lyricist Ken Weaver and Holy Modal Rounders Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber, who whipped up a suitably anarchic aural backdrop.

Pioneering archivist Harry Smith arranged to record The Fugs for Folkways, producing the joyful riot of their first album, The Village Fugs: Ballads & Songs of Contemporary Protest, Points Of View and General Dissatisfaction. The previously-available expanded versions of this and 1966’s The Fugs Second Album provide the first two discs on Ace’s fabulous box set, joined by two CDs of previously-unheard material from 1965-69. Compiled from Sanders’ huge archive, they include outtakes, demos and curios such as Allen Ginsberg knees-ups, Carpe Diem performed at Lenny Bruce’s funeral and Sanders’ brutally-moving Elegy To Bobby Kennedy, along with a 13-minute collage of Kupferberg musings.

The Fugs became the most dangerous band in America, harassed by the authorities until splintering in the early 70s (although they later reformed). Sanders remains a fiercely prolific writer, now publishing his epic America: A History In Verse. These recordings are now as historically important as Harry Smith’s Anthology Of American Folk Music or Alan Lomax’s field recordings in capturing a seismic era. They’re also rollickingly good fun.

***** (5 Stars)

Reviewed by Kris Needs

Donna The Buffalo

Embodying the culmination of two decades of collaboration between founding members Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear, Donna The Buffalo’s 2008 album builds on the band’s signature sound - a bedrock of traditional mountain music infused with elements of Cajun, rock, folk, reggae and country. The album also includes the talents of such well-known guests as Béla Fleck, Claire Lynch, David Hidalgo and Amy Helm. 13 tracks. (Sugar Hill)

Crooked Still
"Still Crooked"
The self-styled, alternative bluegrass group Crooked Still has pretty much made a perfect album; no frills, no fancy studio production, no gimmicks, just great songs and stellar performances that have been recorded with unparalleled intimacy and taste. . . Crooked Still sounds more powerful than ever and the constant play between cellist Clarridge and fiddler Hass is addictive. It is obvious that Crooked Still is a stronger band with the new additions and these new additions are carrying the band on this release. Lead singer Aoife ODonovans voice still has a striking resemblance to Alison Krauss, but her delivery has more passion and feeling than Krauss could muster up on a good night. -- Jonathan Keller,

Alejandro Escovedo
"Real Animal"
Many rockers glorify one aspect of their personalities, be it sexuality, anger, cockiness, or mysteriousness. But Alejandro Escovedo has spent the last two decades stripping away artifice in order to expose raw emotions and personal truths.
The veteran singer-songwriter has never rocked rawer or truer than on "Real Animal," which boils down his influences - Lou Reed, John Cale, Iggy Pop, Mott the Hoople - into a visceral statement about where he came from and who he became.
Escovedo still utilizes strings behind power chords as well as any rocker. But "Real Animal" emphasizes glam-rock swagger more than his recent works. Perhaps it's because these songs mine his youthful beginnings: "Nuns Song" is about his first punk band in San Francisco, and "Chelsea Hotel '78" is about the infamous Manhattan flophouse where Escovedo resided when Sid Vicious was arrested there for the murder of girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
Ecovedo's roots in Los Angeles and Texas come through, too, especially in "Hollywood Hills" and "Chip n' Tony," the latter about his partners in the band Rank and File. But the songs skip decades, too: "Golden Bear" deals with his recent health battle with hepatitis C.

But a listener needn't know Escovedo's story to enjoy his message. These tunes are about passion and true believers, and it treats those who didn't survive as honorably as those who have.

by Michael McCall

Mike Mangione
talks about

by Johanna B. Bodde
Will King
"Come on in from the cold"

by Johanna B. Bodde

The Band of Heathens
"The Band of Heathens"
Stones fans who loved the Band but prefer the Gourds to the Black Crowes will be very happy with The Band of Heathens. That's a compliment to the upstart Momo's scene, where the exuberant BoH launched as a side project from Messrs. Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist, Colin Brooks, Seth Whitney, and John Chipman. Their free-form, rootsy grab of country and folk-rock won them last year's Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards, literally forcing them to admit the sum was greater than the whole of its parts. Swell songs abound on the Ray Wylie Hubbard-produced LP, with Brooks' clever "Heart on My Sleeve" and Quist's "Unsleeping Eye" paying heartfelt tribute to Little Feat's "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" and Jurdi's Gourds-y "Don't Call on Me." What BoH does best is take the old, polish it like new, and make it appeal to everyone. Good trick, boys.


The Deep Dark Woods
"Hang me oh hang me"
Complete with piano and organ by engineer Ross Nykiforuk (The Northern Pikes) and pedal steel by the band`s drummer Lucas Goetz, The Deep Dark Woods` sophomore record possesses all the same diverse song writing as their self-titled debut but with more emphasis on arrangements and instrumentation. Influenced by the likes of The Byrds,The Grateful Dead, Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Tom Waits as well as traditional bluegrass artists like The Stanley Brothers and Carl Story, The Deep Dark Woods blur the lines between country, rock, folk and bluegrass. From the dark, creepy Redwood Forest to the joyful gospel number Glory, Hallelujah to the bitter heartbreak of Five-Hundred Meters to the pedal steel driven They Won`t Last Long the record`s songs are as heartfelt as the band`s songwriters. (Black Hen)

The Dillards
Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark
The 1968 debut, originally released on A&M, from one of the first and finest L.A. country-rock outfits. Comprised of Gene Clark, hot on the heels of his departure from the Byrds and his debut solo release (with the Gosdin Bros.), and Doug Dillard, the virtuosic banjoist/guitarist of the Dillards. Gene Clark is perhaps the most underrated songwriter of the 1960s and this could very well be his finest post-Byrds moment. Featuring help from fellow Byrd Chris Hillman, future Burrito Brother "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, and future Burrito/Eagle Bernie Leadon, this is an absolutely essential piece of L.A. country-rock history, not to mention an out and out masterpiece. (Water)


Eliza Gilkyson
"Beautiful World"
Neither life nor love has spared Eliza Gilkyson its sharp edges, even if the muses have blessed her bountifully. She bore her wounds with style and grace on 2000's Hard Times in Babylon, tour de force "The Beauty Way," and the acclaimed Lost and Found (2002). Last year's Grammy-nominated Land of Milk and Honey was filled with blood tears for losses redeemed and the dead remembered. It's with great relief and comfort, then, to hear Paradise Hotel and feel the new, soft skin as old scars heal. This new offering in her contemporarily flawless oeuvre is tender and cathartic to the point of jubilation, brimming with radio-polished tunes ("Is It Like Today," "Bellarosa") and exquisite traditional folk ("Jedidiah 1777"). Paradise Hotel is rife with nuances that distinguish its author's pen; on "Borderline," she hums "Whiter Shade of Pale" to her own melody. Gilkyson hasn't backed down from her hard-line political stance either. The album's showstopper is the third track, "Man of God," booming with authority and righteous rejection of the party line. With longtime producer/compadre Mark Hallman providing his intuitive and expert touch, the question then is not which of her albums is the best; it's how do you choose between silk and velvet?


Eleven Hundred Springs
"Country Jam"

... Their blend of trad but contemporary Western swing, honky-tonk and country rock speaks to the roots while it pushes the edge, and the band’s first release in four years (and after a band shuffle) “Country Jam” showcases those skills in spades.

You can almost feel the heat, smell the Tex-Mex combination platter, and taste the ice-cold cervezas as the album opener “Texas Afternoon” stretches out with a Tejano accordion and hints of West Texas artists Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely. It’s a song that genuinely makes you want to smile...

Emmylou Harris
"All I intended to be"

... With this release though, Harris cements herself as a true star in her own right, her voice warmer with age, but undiminished, instead she has developed a sound as obviously country influenced and full of gravitas as the genre’s biggest male star, the late Johnny Cash. Though the tone of the album is somewhat consistent throughout, perhaps one or two slightly upbeat tracks wouldn’t have been too much to ask, what we have here are 13 stunningly beautiful tracks, none more so than ‘How She Could Sing The Wildwood Flower’ with it’s haunting three part harmonies, Canadian folk stars the McGarrigle Sisters voices weaving around Emmylou’s in such a deft manner that the song washes over you like the warmth of a rising sun.

Fayssoux McLean was best known in music circles for providing harmonies on the first four Emmylou Harris solo albums. Journalist and musician Peter Cooper coaxed Fayssoux from retirement resulting in this sublime country album. McLean and Cooper combined her originals, traditional songs her grandma used to sing, and classics from well respected songwriters. Cooper, Lloyd Green, and Brandon Turner provide a gentle, aching country backing. Several old friends and admirers contribute, including former boss Harris but never overshadow the true star in this production, Fayssoux McLean. -- Jeff Weiss, Miles of Music (Red Beet)

Frank Carillo and The Bandoleros

... Someday is truly an awesome album, stuffed full of great songwriting and playing all highlighted by Frank’s gravely voice which has the rough edged honesty of Springsteen or even Joe Cocker. He delivers the tunes passionately, sounding just like he’s spent as many nights singing on stage, as he has! Most of the tunes are faster paced bluesy tunes, such as the stellar opener “Roll the Bones,” which Frank says was inspired by listening to old British folk/rock, especially of Fairport Convention, saying he was amazed with the content, including lust, murder, war, betrayal and sheep shearing! He wanted a tune spiced with all of this and more. Frank’s guitar is backed on a number of the tunes by Hammond B3, played by Augie Meyers (Bob Dylan, Sir Douglas Quintet, Texas Tornados). With all his travels he has developed a love of new and different instruments. One of these is a laud, a Spanish instrument he picked up in Barcelona which is somewhat like a mandolin, only larger and with 12 strings. He effectively blends this instrument into the tunes “Everything Changes” and “Eastern Time.” Frank can go bare bones as well. He strips things down to acoustic guitar and vocals on “Glass Heroes,” one of the more beautiful songs you are likely to hear. I have a strong suspicion this disc will end up on my Best of 2008 list, if it isn’t worn out by then!

Griffin House
"Flying Upside Down"
In this day and age, Singer-Songwriters are often compared to other similar artists from both past and present. For Nashville-based performer Griffin House the chief comparison seems to be Josh Ritter or Ryan Adams. Griffins latest offering, Flying Upside Down opens with the track `Better Than Love` and the opening notes and lyrics for that cut is drenched with the sound of Adams. House does make clear that he is his own artist however. On this album, House never quite reaches the highs of Adams best works (think Heartbreaker-era), but he also never sinks to the meandering, moody and often times self-indulgent lows of Adams past either (think 29). . . The albums star track is `When the Time is Right`. This cut offers simplicity, but doesnt let that stand in the way of setting an atmospheric, wistful and yearning vibe. All in all, Flying Upside Down succeeds much in the way a folk record that isnt attempting to alter the musical landscape should. House establishes a folky-pop presence and displays the chops that will likely show a great deal of development over the next couple of albums. -- Kelly, twangville,com


I See Hawks IN L.A.
"Hallowed Ground"

A superb ensemble with a serious pedigree in California's roots-rock scene - the band has links to Dave Alvin, Dwight Yoakam and Dillard & Clark - I See Hawks' work is a timely update of Blasters/Beat Farmers heart-on-sleeve populism. On 'Hallowed Ground' singer-songwriter Rob Waller has a great feel for a kind of burned-out, post-apocalypse American landscape evidenced by the sparkling , world-weary ballad 'Highway Down', and the percolating 'Ever Since The Grid Went Down' ('I killed a man for batteries', he sings). 'Yolo County Airport', a scorching Chuck Berryesque tale, highlights a very strong effort!"

- Luke Torn, UNCUT Magazine / June 2008

Mary Cutrufello
`The growling Miss Mary rocked the 2007 Houston Women`s Festival with selections from this indie production, and rightly so, with winners like the driving `Bring on the Night.` Cutrufello penned all the tunes on this sold collection, except for her strong rendition of Springsteen`s `Take `em as They Come.` If `I`ll Still Love You Forever` doesn`t break your heart, maybe you don`t have one.` -- Nancy Ford, Mary Cutrufellos first full-band recording since 1998s When the Night is Through (Mercury) finds the singer/songwriter/guitar-slinger at turns proud and pleading, once again telling her stories of desperation and redemption, wonder and resolve. The joyous, faith-affirming performances by Cutrufello and her band give shape, meaning, and ultimately hope to the characters in her songs. 35 is `an explosive mix of all that is good in American music` (High Plains Reader, Fargo, ND), and brings heartland rock resoundingly into the 21st century. (self-released)

The Mother Truckers
"Let's All Go To Bed"
On their latest release, "Let`s All Go To Bed," the Mother Truckers bring their brand of outlaw country fused together with a rockin`, Rolling Stones tinged Blues style (see "Streets of Atlanta), and have put together one hell of an album. Right from the opening notes of "Dynamite" this album explodes with a rockin` brand of country, complete with walking bass lines, and sing-a-long choruses, that will no doubt have you bopping right along. The vocals provided by both Josh Zee and Teal Collins are excellent. Teals` gritty, raw delivery masked by a sweet exterior is enough to draw comparisons to the likes of Gretchen Wilson, while Zee`s outstanding backing vocals help to fill in their overall sound. Call the Mother Truckers what you want to. Roots Rock, Alt. Country, etc... I believe that this is what country music today oughta sound like and if you like your country rocking as much as I do then this is a must have album for you. --

Even a dude with a track record as golden as Tom Petty's needs to reflect on paths not taken. Mudcrutch, Petty's pre-Heartbreakers band, released a single and little else in the mid-Seventies. And that's too bad, since they reunite here for a hot country-rock set that clearly aspires to, and gets within spitting distance of, genre classics like Sweetheart of the Rodeo, The Gilded Palace of Sin and American Beauty. If the Heartbreakers had never happened, this band would have worked out just fine.

Mudcrutch has more jammy, expansive guitar work than any Petty record ever. Yet the leader doesn't play a lick, shelving his Rickenbacker to play bass, as he did back in the day. The twin-guitar front is Heartbreaker Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon, a dazzling player who found less fame than his brother Bernie (Eagles, Flying Burrito Brothers). The pair duel on the hot-pickin' traditional tune "June Apple," run Allman Brothers tandems on the boogie-rock "Bootleg Flyer" and space-waltz Dead-style on the organ-swathed, nine-minute "Crystal River." Heartbreaker keyboard whiz Benmont Tench and journeyman drummer Randall Marsh complete the original lineup; everyone's back, and better for it.

The songs are mythic Americana: With help from his bandmates, Petty creates a vivid cast of road dogs, strippers and junkies that conjures Gram Parsons' Bible-haunted Southerners and Robert Hunter's cosmic Westerners. And his weathered harmonies with Leadon make them flesh; though his voice is frayed, Petty's never sounded more real. Two country-rock covers nearly match their models: The Byrds' "Lover of the Bayou" and "Six Days on the Road," a Burritos fave. If they fall a tad short, that's appropriate: Mudcrutch's ragged enthusiasm is the sound of a hungry gang getting its first taste, just a few decades late.

(Posted: May 1, 2008)

Old 97's
"Blame It On Gravity"
Blame It On Gravity is the seventh studio album and the first new album in 4 years from alt-country pioneers Old 97 s. The album finds the band turning up the amps and returning to the satisfying crunch with a mix of rock, punk, pop and classic country that defined the band s sound on earlier albums. The band credits the new album s enthusiasm to their return to their hometown of Dallas, TX to record, the first time since their initial independent release. The band, still comprised of original members Rhett Miller, Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples, deliver what they believe is the finest album of their 15-year career. (New West)
The bonus DVD contains a 44 minute documentary on the history of the band including live performances featuring classics and new songs. Blame It On Gravity is the seventh studio album and the first new album in 4 years from alt-country pioneers Old 97 s. The album finds the band turning up the amps and returning to the satisfying crunch with a mix of rock, punk, pop and classic country that defined the band s sound on earlier albums. The band credits the new album s enthusiasm to their return to their hometown of Dallas, TX to record, the first time since their initial independent release. The band, still comprised of original members Rhett Miller, Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples, deliver what they believe is the finest album of their 15-year career.

Railroad Earth
"Amen Corner"
Railroad Earth is a roots and Americana-based jamband from Stillwater, NJ. Their name stems from a Jack Kerouac poem "October in the Railroad Earth," and the band has a song by the same name. Railroad Earth`s music combines elements of bluegrass, rock and roll, jazz, celtic and more, and the group is known for its extensive live improvisation and lyrical songwriting within an acoustic base. The Amen Corner album features songs such as "Been Down This Road," "Waggin` The Dog," and "Lovin` You."

Rodney Parker & Fifty Peso Reward
"The Lonesome Dirge"
Rodney Parker & Fifty Peso Reward  might get lumped into the Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt/Jayhawks alt country crowd, but their new release "The Lonesome Dirge” is much more than that. Parker’s songs are perfect examples of radio friendly “rural pop” (a phrase coined by the underappreciated NC band  Lou Ford). The spaghetti western flavored “Firefight” kicks the disc off with a gallop and the second track,"10 Lb.Test", sets the hook. No question. I was reviewing this disc. A full band version of Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” and a heartfelt take on Friedman’s “The Wild Man of Borneo” fit in perfectly with the nine original guitar tunes from the band. “I’m Never Gonna Get Married” may be the best song the Pogues never wrote. Rodney Parker is the best new singer-songwriter I’ve heard this year. Bring on the challengers. I don’t expect him to be dethroned. “The Lonesome Dirge” will be on my list of the top ten discs of 2008.

D. Mulligan
"The Late Great Southwest"

by Johanna B. Bodde
Andy Gorwell
"City Walk"

by Johanna B. Bodde

New  Lyrics !!!

Alela Diane  Austin Collins  Band of Heathens  Bart Crow Band  Bleu Edmondson  Eileen Jewell Frank Carillo  Hayes Carll  James McMurtry  Jeff Dernlan  Lonesome Sisters  Loomer  Mando Saenz  Moe  Patrick Bloom  Peter Cooper  Po' Girl  Romi Mayes  Ryan Bingham  Texas Sapphires  The Wrights  The Wood Brothers  The Woodys  Zac Brown Band

Concert Review
De Oosterpoort, Groningen (NL)
May 3rd, 2008
by Johanna B. Bodde

Paul Zunno
"Solo Acoustic"

by Johanna B. Bodde

The Tripwires
"Makes You Look Around"
by Johanna B. Bodde

Patrick Bloom

by Johanna B. Bodde

Peter Cooper
"Cautionary Tales"
by Johanna B. Bodde

The Believers
"Lucky You"
by Johanna B. Bodde

Alt Country History

*And don't forget*
Jerry Garcia Townes van Zandt Gram Parsons
Hank Williams  
Bill Monroe  Lowell George  Tammy Wynette  Rose Maddox  Woody Guthrie  Carter Family  Carl Perkins  Jimmie Rodgers  Roy Huskey jr.  Shel Silverstein Hoyt Axton  Doug Sahm   Rick Danko John Hartford  Fred Neil  John L. Hooker  Chet Atkins Mimi Farina  Dave van Ronk  Waylon Jenning  Alan Lomax  Dave Carter Warren Zevon  June Carter  Johnny Cash  Porter Wagoner
and so many others