Jan 092016
 

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Well all of you know by now I have many friends all over the country that I support on this website and they support me on their respective media outlets. Mr. Brandon Walker AKA W.B. Walker’s Old Soul Radio Show is a weekly podcast broadcast on I Tunes that features three artists of like types that varies each week. He does a truly fine job featuring some GREAT different music each time he releases a new show.

We became friends a few years back and talk on the phone quite often although he is one of the few I haven’t met in person, I have come pretty close to him. I’d pretty much do anything for him and when he announced some plans for his third annual anniversary show at the Vclub in West Virginia and I now have the lineup for you and more news.

I am going to be including him in a NEAR future project that I am involved with in Kansas City for a festival stage I am sponsoring and I’ll be mentioning him on stage during this festival as I emcee it so I can help him grow his audience in the central U.S. And he can help spread the word about what I’m doing, and starting VERY SOON he will be announcing what I’m going to do and some of the bands I will be featuring.

So for right now go on over and check out his latest editions of the podcast with several of my TOP 50 albums of 2015 and buy some new music he features. I’m sure he’d be tickled pink to have you listen in to what he’s up to.

Doors @ 7 Show @ 8 $10 Adv $12 DOS 18+
Senora May Childers
8:00 – 8:20

Justin Payne
8:25 – 8:45

The Horse Traders
8:50 – 9:20

Josh Nolan
9:25 – 9:45

Luna & The Mountain Jets
9:50 – 10:20

Josh Morningstar
10:25 – 10:55

Joshua Black Wilkins
11:00 – 11:30

Caleb Caudle
11:35 – 12:15

Colter Wall
12:20 – 1:00

Tyler Childers
1:05 – Close

Jan 092016
 

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The Jailhouse Poets? Jeff Shepherd? Jeff Shepherd and the Jailhouse Poets? Over the past few years, Jeff Shepherd has toured, performed, and released demo’s under each of these names. Well, his “Official” debut is under the name Jeff Shepherd and the album is named “Jeff Shepherd and the Jailhouse Poets”. Figure that one out yourself.

I met Jeff about three years ago. He sent me a demo for play on Outlaw Radio Chicago. He was the first artist I have ever booked at MoonRunners Music Festival off of a demo, and I began to push for him hard after my first introduction to his music and his personality. After meeting, we became more than just friends, but partners in crime. He was also my personal in studio performer on Outlaw Radio Chicago for a very long time, debuting new songs, drinking with Stevie Lee and I, and just being a solid fucking dude. Our bond is strong and I love him to death.
Two years ago, folks compared Jeff to Hellbound Glory, or more specifically, Leroy Virgil. Both wrote about hard living, drugs, love lost, depression, and suicide. At that time, Jeff welcomed those compliments, as Leroy was and is his favorite songwriter and inspiration. But, these days, Jeff Shepherd has out grown any comparisons. He is far and above the single best unknown song writer out there today. Period.

First things first, I have heard many different versions of every song on this record. Jeff and I worked for about a year on a Solitary Records release that never saw that the light of day, and I have seen him perform countless times. This will not be a biased review. The words I say are true and I have believed in this man for a very long time. The completed record made for my label was not released because it wasn’t great, we just both knew there was more inside of Jeffrey, and he proved that with the release of his self-titled album. While, I am bummed my label’s name is not on it, I know it was necessary for this to happen. Jeff began a newfound friendship with the great Matt Woods, and decided to invite Matt as a producer to try to cut an album once again. They took shelter at Shed Studio’s 55 in Knoxville, TN over most of 2015.

Sticking to being honest, I believe this album really begins on track four “Sink Down”. I am not speaking ill of the opening tracks what so ever. “Gone” is in fact a beautifully written number about new found love and belongs on this album. “Jukebox Junkie”, in my mind, is a bit hokey with the electric guitar intro that can resemble a song on mainstream radio. It is still catchy and well written, but, not what Jeff was born to do.

His more upbeat songs are just fine, but, his ballads and sad songs are what he was born to do. Every artist needs upbeat songs to make albums and live shows flow, and Jeff does his job as a musician to make that happen. “Tragic Love” is another great upbeat song, and I think folks will love it, but when I put in this record now, I start with song four. I am by NO means saying you should do the same, because you will miss good songs. I am one man, and this is simply the way I prefer to listen.

“Sink Down” has been a live staple for the band since their inception, and it is a classic story of living hard and enjoying every minute of it. I can write this entire piece on lyric quotes by Jeff, because they are that damn good, but, I will spare you all and let you discover them yourself. But, “Sink Down” includes the lyric “I live my life like my hearse is double parked, after last call on the wrong side of town”. What the fuck Jeff? How the hell do you come up with these amazing lines? Jeff is not one to brag about drinking and drugs. The man lives his life, and these songs are not fiction. He is not proud, and rarely glorifies the lifestyle. But, goddamn, he knows how to write about a hard living life.

“California” is the first ballad on the album that will make a grown man cry. Jeff’s lyrics hit hard and makes you think, and makes you wonder. We have all been in these spots of regret, depression, and solitude. Jeffrey just knows how to write about them, and for this I applaud him.

“Ghosts” and ”Forever Young” are both upbeat songs and they thrive, keeping this record moving along nicely. Both songs are intense and are some of the live sets best portion. The band really shines on these tracks, and Andy Westcott’s electric guitar solo on the latter song rips through and leaves you wanting more. Longtime Jailhouse Poet, Marco Sassman is simply an amazing banjo picker. His licks and rhythm will leave you breathless if you pay close enough attention. Liz Sloan was hired on for her fiddle style, and for obvious reasons. She shines on this record, as she does on any recording she is a part of.

The last four songs on this album are my favorite. All very depressing and cringe worthy on the way they shred your heart.
“You know I tried like hell not to turn out like my old man. But, looking at our two pictures, side by side, it’s hard to tell which one I really am. I only miss him when I’m drinking, now I’m drunk all the time” More unbelievable lyrics, this time from the standout track “Hold On”. If this song does not become a single somehow or another, than Jeff is getting screwed. As will America. People need to hear these songs. “Broken” is another song that should be a single.

“If I’m incapable of loving, like you say that I am, why are you crying every day wishing I was still your man”. A relationship gone wrong, but, with neither side wanting to take the blame. Who is the one who is broken? That will never be known. But, we have all been there, and this song will remind everyone of that.

“The Worst Withdrawal” is a song that has had a video on Youtube for many years now, and what really put the Jailhouse Poets in people’s ears. It is also the song that brought the Leroy Virgil comparisons. Is that a bad thing however? Who wouldn’t want to be in the same sentence with that man? A song comparing a woman’s love and body to drugs, (“Your kisses filled with cocaine, your hugs like morphine”). At the time this came out on Youtube, it was instantly getting views like crazy, and there is a good reason why. It is a good thing that the band decided to re-record it and include it in this collection. It’s a wonderful song.

“Son” closes out the record and for good reason. There is no coming back from this song after listening. A deeply heart breaking and somber song about both of Jeff’s parents dying in the year of 2009. Whether Jeff is performing for a crowd of 20 or 200, he silence’s the crowd every time with this one. If you have ever lost a parent, or loved one, this song will hit you VERY hard. It is perfectly written and simply can’t even really be reviewed. It is personal as hell, but will relate to every listener. This is as powerful as a song can get. Speechless.

Overall, this is a nearly perfect record. I needed to borrow a website just to review it, because it is just that damn well done. Rachel Kate pops up here and there with great backing vocals, and Jeff’s new band really fits what he is going for on this record. If this album does not make journalist’s “top ten” or best of lists at the end of 2016, it is simply because the reviewers have simply not heard it. Let’s hope they do!
Jeff Shepard can be purchased right now at Jeffshepherdmusic.com.
Do yourself a favor and order it now!

Jan 092016
 

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It is with a heavy heart that I write to report tonight that I was texted around 9:30 and I was told Country Legend Red Simpson died tonight in California, he was 81 years old. Please join me right now as I share some stories and some accolades Red Simpson achieved in his lengthy career which spanned many decades. First off in my cover photo YES THAT IS Stump Tail Dolly, at the time they were not formed. They played ONE HELL of a show in 2013 at Muddy Roots Festival, you know what Mr. Owen is welcomed him in Heaven I’m sure. Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies and Jason Galaz and Gene Thome and so many more brought him to us.

I spoke with him on the phone so many times and I asked him once Who discovered you? KNOWING Fuzzy Owens did Haha
but he said well, My Momma and the doctor discovered me coming out…
He was 14 years old when he wrote the song “Endless Black Ribbon” and replaced Buck Owens at clubs when he became of age, when Fuzzy Owens discovered him and in fact he and Owens began writing songs together in the 1960’s. Their biggest charting hit was ‘Gonna Have Love”..I’m thinking it was 1962 or 3. He had a huge role in forming the west coast Bakersfield Sound of one of my favorite era’s of Country Music ever.

Ken Nelson wanted some trucking songs and Merle Haggard was not interested so Simpson was contacted and he agreed. His first album “Roll Truck Roll” debuted in the top 50 and that song was one of his biggest songs. His next hit was “Sam’s Place” and the ever popular “I’m A Truck”.

In 1972 he debuted on the Opry and in 1976 he recorded “Truck Driver’s Heaven” for Capitol Records, if you can find the first pressing of that album it is a “Holy Grail” to collectors and VERY RARE. In 1980 Merle Haggard recorded his song “Lucky Old Colorado” and also in 1979 Charlie Walker recorded “Close All The Honky Tonks”, and that was re-recorded many times.

In 1995 Junior Brown brought him forth to record two hits “Semi Crazy” and “Nitro Express” and Red Simpson also wrote “Highway Patrol” which was a big hit for Junior Brown. Since then he was a regular in his local scene of Bakersfield performing at Trout’s weekly and he and many more were FINALLY recognized at the Country Music Hall Of Fame with a Bakersfield Sound exhibit, and was given a guest appearance there.

In 2013 like I said Mr. Jason brought him to our hallowed field and we set him on a chair on the O’l Wood Stage and yelled out songs to him and he played for well over an hour and a half that night. He stayed and took pictures with every inquiry until the line wound down. In fact he played “Roll Truck Roll” TWICE for us just because we asked.
It has been reported that he has a new album being released Feb 4rth and at this time I’m not sure if it is finished or not, he had been sick lately suffering a heart attack and had a pacemaker put in. He passed away this evening at 81.