Muddy Roots 2019

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Oct 052019
 

It’s time once again for my annual visit to the almighty ultimate independent music festival that brought forth all of the Roots Music bands, of course I’m talking about the TENTH ANNUAL Muddy Roots Music Festival. A LOT has changed at this festival in the ten years I have been going to it, and to be honest a LOT has changed with my website in the ten years I have been operating it as well.

In those years, I have been to over 31 states and traveled MANY miles covering this local music I bring to you. I have taken on another writer Mr. Joshua Wallace, and NOW I have ANOTHER writer I’m trying out for this job. We shall see if he does well, I’m already pretty excited about him coming aboard to help because I think the world of him as a person and as a friend.

Miss Delaney Chavez and her husband Mr. Milton REALLY stepped up and designed ALL of the logistics of this event beginning with double port a potties and better stage placement for the BEST sound EVER. Most of the stage times flowed along nicely, and EVERY time I saw her she was working VERY HARD to give us ALL an awesome time. She and her husband are VERY approachable, and will take care of ANYTHING the guests need.

We are going to chat about EVERYTHING from the weather to the vendors here, the bands and THE PEOPLE. That’s right folks YOU MAKE MUDDY what it is, if YOU bought a ticket and bought merchandise, and enjoyed the music on behalf of Mr. Jason and his ENTIRE CREW I thank you from deep in the heart.

I have a new writer this week from Ohio trying his hand in the Muddy Roots article game, his name is Mr. Luther Center. He wrote up some of the first sets I missed as Mr. Joshua Wallace and Miss Marla Gibson of Marla Gibson Imagery who was on board to help me with photography this weekend.


Photo courtesy of Luther Center

My good festival buddy Mr. Luther Center is a new face to my website, and he is a music nut like I am. He goes to a TON of music festivals, and I enjoy his input on my articles. He made some comments that he saw some whole sets that I kind of saw partially, and I thought WHY NOT INVITE him to participate? So here is what he had to say about a few things.

The sun is high, the temperature is a warm but manageable 80 degrees, and the trees surrounding the stage are swaying with the breeze and providing just enough shade to accommodate the growing crowd as the Muddy Roots Music festival has started!

Not many bands are better suited for Muddy Roots than are Black Tarpoon. The band (Vocals/Acoustical pickin’- Jesse James, Bass/Dirty vocals- Oatmeal Reed, Resonator- Billy Mo, Washboard- Tasha the Don, Drums- Daniel Rangel) from Corpus Christie, TX, have long been top practitioners of punk acoustic/electric Americana roots music.

The band settles in onstage early and are joking with the crowd as all present anxiously await the High Noon start for their set. Suddenly we hear, “We are Black Tarpoon. 1-2-1234” and they are off, as the band kicks immediately into high energy “Fixin’ To Play”. For the next 55 minutes we are treated to a blistering set featuring much of their first two records (2016s EP “Creature from the Black Tarpoon” and 2017s full length “A Macing Grace”) as well as tracks from their recent 1332 Records split 45 EP with Black Irish Texas titled “Blacked Out at Muddy Roots”.

I know their set included “Little Irish Bird”, “Ghost On The Highway” and one that features the young lady on washboard a lot called “Love Songs Ain’t Easy”. One of my favorite songs of theirs was one called “Black Widows Waltz”. None of my crew got to catch the entire set of any of the bands this weekend, as we roamed around to evenly catch as many sets as humanly possible here.

What a way to begin my Muddy Roots weekend! Their set was energetic, they were fun to watch, and their punk-roots style kept the crowd engaged and moving throughout the show. Highly recommended to see live if they show up in your town. Their music is available for sale on Bandcamp and from 1332 Records.


Photo Courtesy of Marla Gibson

It’s approaching the hottest part of the day Friday as Sean K. Preston And The Loaded Pistols take the stage. Sean coolly appears, looking svelte in his matching black suit pants and vest with a bright red long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He straps on that guitar, the Pistols lock in, and off they go with “Homeward Bound”.

“Last Call” was part of the set today as well as “The Decision” . He began with a really nice instrumental of his lead guitar talents before transitioning into “Ain’t A Dog”. Mr. Christopher “Sparky” Spiridigliozzi  on drums and Mr. Cory McGrath on upright bass makes up the Loaded Pistols right now, and as they played songs like “Get Thee Behind Me” they displayed why they deserved to be a part of this lineup.

Preston incorporates power blues, country, and rockabilly into his music, and adds a sometimes sinister edge. It’s all on display as he heavily features extended tracks from his 2018 album “Forgive” on the Rusty Knuckles label, which happens to be one of my favorite records released last year. His band is tight and steady as Sean controls the stage with his confident voice and wicked guitar licks on songs like “The Twister” and “The Widower”.


Photo courtesy of Marla Gibson

While Gary Hayes was unpacking his camper behind the showers with Mr. Joshua Wallace he got to hear him play “Barnburner” and more of his set before ending the show with his signature song, “Satan”, the crowd has now reached fever pitch and, if you can believe it, Sean and the boys have ratcheted up the heat even more. I’ve seen Sean and the Pistols numerous times in recent years, and they never disappoint. The same was true here, and I’ll be sure to buy the next record and see them the next time they’re in my town.

The next set Mr. Luther got to see was Moonshine Wagon  who hails from the Basque Country in Northern Spain. They brought their high energy show to Muddy Roots not once, but twice this year, playing the pre-party Thursday night at the Wood Stage, followed by a 1:30 set in the Big Tent on Friday. They describe their music as “Hellgrass” (as in “Hellgrass = Bluegrass + Heavy Metal”), and it’s a good description. They play their bluegrass fast, loud, and with an enthusiasm that is hard to match.


Photo courtesy of Luther Center

I had never seen Moonshine Wagon before, so I had no idea what I was in for. I enjoyed the Thursday evening set from the Camp Ohio area while visiting with friends, so I didn’t see them, but I did hear them, and man, I liked what I heard! I made a point to see their Friday set.

I walked into the Big Tent just as their Friday set began. Appropriately enough, they opened the show with the dirge-like strains of the title song from their new album “Straight From the Mud”. Midway through the song, it kicks in to the high energy punk metal bluegrass we’ll get to hear for the remainder of their set.

They play, sing, and perform expertly, and their energy throughout is infectious. The crowd is on their side and before long, it’s a party in the Big Tent! They went on to play the title track from their 2017 album “Porca Miseria”, followed by “Ghost” which opens with a great acoustic sound.

Goiatz Dutto, Joel Bruna, Lander Lourido and Victor Martin make up this trio that included songs like “Running And Hiding”, which was one of the more upbeat songs with the more Bluegrass sound.  ‘Everybody Lies” starts out with some GOOD finger picking and fiddle style, and was great to dance to.  “Days Go By” “You Yourself And You” , and “Ace Of Spades” wrapped up the set.

They leaned heavily on the new album, available at Roots Union, and they should, as it is excellent. With select songs from their two previous albums and a cover or two, Moonshine Wagon provided the perfect soundtrack for day one of Muddy Roots. I bought the album at their merch table and vowed to see them again as soon as I can.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Wallace

Mr. Joshua Wallace got to see Mr. James Hunnicutt whom always does a stand up job at Muddy Roots, and is one of the most positive and humble people I have ever met. So here is what he had to say about that.

James Hunnicutt was on the tent stage on Friday at 3:30pm – 4:30pm. He had already started by the time I entered the tent and had a huge crowd with the tent about half to three quarters full. He was sitting down for this year’s set but he still had the same amazing vocals and raw energy that he always brings to his regular acoustic Muddy Roots set.

Photo Courtesy of Joshua Wallace

I heard him do crowd favorites like “My Pain” and “99 Lives”. He did his amazing version of “Long Black Veil / My Wayward Bride” which always turns into a sing-a-long with the Muddy Roots crowd and this year was no exception. He also did a selection of tracks from his first album which included the Muddy Roots anthem “Risk The Fall”.

The last song I caught from James was the always popular “Don’t Let Teardrops Fill Your Eyes”. It is always interesting to watch the Muddy Roots veterans who know the hand signs for this song and the new fans looking around wondering what is going on. James Hunnicutt always delivers a highlight set of Muddy Roots and this year was no different.


Photo courtesy of Marla Gibson

Miss Marla Gibson was kind enough to take my own camera and take a few of me with others like my big buddy Mr. Brooke Blanche from the Calamity Cubes, whom we will touch on later. Right now, we will flip over to my account of the mighty Hillbilly Casino.

2017’s “Red White And Bruised” album brought up their opening song called “Give It All Up For You”, followed by the song “No Toll Taken” as their leader Mr. Nic Roulette violently swings the mic around while flailing about like a crazed madman. This stage show is not for the weak or daft souls, and they truly light up the tent ( literally) with a mechanics light, and oversized stuffed animals that end up crowd surfing.

“She’s Got Tricks” and “How Do You Think” were both taken from the new album as well. Now from a seasoned fan like me, I’m not sure they will ever be able to beat my favorites “Big Dan” or “Tennessee Stomp” which the later of the two was the closing song. Hillbilly Casino is ( I believe ) the only band that has played all 10 years of muddy Roots, I’m pretty sure that is correct.


Photo courtesy of Marla Gibson.

After you see these two pictures here, I’m quite sure you will agree that having her on board this time was a GREAT choice. I met her in Mississippi at another festival and when we talked I could tell that she “gets it”. I arranged for her to come with us, and she had a wonderful time here.

“PBR” was included in the set, as well as “The Hole” and “One Cup Beyond” from the iconic album “Three Step Windup”.  Mr. Ronnie got out the other guitar and started into the solo intro for “Violets In May”, which resonated through the entire tent with furious fever.

They closed with “Troubles” and “Jibber Jabber” and as usual and like I stated earlier their last song was indeed “Tennessee Stomp”. As always they left the entire festival stunned, and just going nuts. They are by far one of the many Muddy Roots favorites on the list.


Photo courtesy of Marla Gibson

Another Muddy Roots powerhouse duo is the mighty Left Lane Cruiser whom just recently released a new album called “Shake And Bake” on Alive Records!. I’m in the works of making them an article for the album feature, maybe I’ll come back and embed it here.

They went old school on one of their songs from the 2006 album “Gettin Down On It” called “Riverwalk”. This band is one of the older roots bands that I found out about on the mighty MySpace. I began discovering these bands in 2007 and 2008 myself, and they were one of them. I’ll be honest I have so much on festivals on my desk, I think I may have lost some of my notes.

Mr. Joe Evans and Mr. Pete Dio come from Fort Wayne Indiana, and blend Mississippi blues and rock and many other forms of roots music to formulate their own sound, and volume! There were a few bands I got to only check out one or two songs from before moving along, they were one of them.

I meandered down to the wooden stage to see Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. This is a Denver Colorado outfit that I have featured many times on here, and they have played Muddy roots many times. Munly Munly, Mr. Slim Cessna, Mr. David Edwards, Mr. Jeffery Paul, Lord Dwight Pentacost, Miss Rebecca Vera, Mr. Ian O’Dougherty, and Andrew Warne make up the current lineup.

“This Is How We Do Things In The Country” has the whole crowd dancing and going nuts into the night air. I went up into the media tower to take some pictures of the crowd as well as side stage. They also played “Children Of The Lord”, among others.

This year they played the wood stage and had a little more room to spread out, and it helped to see the stage show a little better. They played a rousing rendition of “Do You Know The Enemy”, that included one of Lord Pentacost’s trademark double neck guitars which I caught on camera here, before I called it a day. The first night is always the roughest for me, as I work third shift and travel here in the morning right after work.



I woke up for day 2 ready to go, and even though I got enough sleep I was still pretty sore. I ventured out onto vendor row to see some of the food and shopping choices this year, sadly I didn’t get the chance to visit the waterfall but I may go out there on my own to bring you a better story that way. I did get to write a really nice article a few weeks ago, and you can read it HERE.

I wandered down my familiar favorite vendor row, the one that I have loved and cherished for ten years. The gravel road where I have made many friends, and we remember ones we have lost to death. A gravel road where I have seen children born and gotten to watch them grow up. You see folks, Muddy Roots really is a family in many aspects.

Many of these people are so close to me as personal Friends, like Mr. Ralph Miller who heads up one of the biggest original roots music’s labels called Rusty Knuckles. That label has recorded some of the most iconic albums in all of roots music history. If I ever wrote a book on the history of roots music the role of Rusty Knuckles would be the most prominent of all of them.

Also pictured above is my good friend Miss Sarah Brown who operates the traveling store of original hand made goods called Stoned Beautiful Jewelry. This young lady travels all over the country and sells her wares to every music audience out there, and you need to check her out.

There were plenty of great food vendors like our friends G’zs BBQ from East Nashville. There were plenty of choices for every person’s lifestyle, however I’m not sure about vegan. I’m not as trained to look for vegan choices, and I need to look for more vendors that can cater to gluten free folks.

One of the first acts of the second day was none other than Country Rock artist Mr.Jason Charles Miller.  He is also the front man for the industrial rock band called Godhead, and I knew very little about him until now. His resume was indeed quite impressive from a Country and Metal lover’s standpoint, as he has opened for big names on both genres. Some of the pop country I wasn’t really impressed with, but to have worked with some of those names just shows me his versatility.

From his 2011 album called “Uncountry” he began with a song called “The River”, and went into a song called “No Bridge Left Unburned”. His songs were all pretty heavy and even though they did have a country influence they were pretty much good old fashioned rock and roll.

Cmon folks this is Muddy Roots you know damn well were going to have the entire spectrum of music at our fingertips! This man fit in really really well with Muddy Roots, in EVERY way and I enjoyed his songs. His album called “In The Wasteland” boasted a REALLY cool song called “Old Scarecrow” who sits in the sun and his work is never done…good line. “Trunk Full Of Bibles” was another good song included in his set today, along with other songs like “In The Wasteland”, and “You Get What You Pay For”.

He closed his set with his own version of the Hank Williams classic song “I Saw the Light”, and I got to sing along with him as I wandered off to the wood stage to listen to my Colorado area friends called the Tejon Street Corner Thieves.

They started with their song called “No Good” from their 2016 album called “Every Last Drop”, and with  the help of one of the members of the Bridge City Sinners (whom I’ll touch on next) they tore up the wood stage today. Now, they just released a live album out called Live At Western Jubilee which as many of these songs on it.  “All We Need” is a whiskey drinking song, and pretty much self explanatory.

Mr. Connor O’Neal – Banjo, Percussion, Lead and Backing Vocals, Mr. Shawn D’Amario – Washboard, Guitar, Lead and Backing Vocals, Mr. Spencer Mode – Washboard and Mr. Michael Flecha – Bass make up this band that glorifies the Westport Saloon on songs like “Goers”. Every community has an anthem and it has pillars of the scene, and the Westport Saloon is indeed an integral part of the Roots music scene.

The same can be said about Four Roses Bourbon, as they have been a longtime sponsor of this community and its wonderful bands and fans. I myself have been a Muddy Roots family member for over Ten years now. “Home” was next, a song about a man that thinks he is going be killed unless he spends the rest of his life on the road.

“Whiskey Shivers” and “.44″ were next, .44 being about a drunkard with a loaded .44. It’s a very poignant and dark song filled with their signature gravely harmonies that Roots music is noted for. It’s about poor choices and failure so how can it be a bad song? There has been a time in everyone’s life they have felt unworthy of the love of the Lord.

‘No Water” was next followed by a cover of “Minnie The Moocher”, and at that time I went up front to the merchandise area to shop and eat. The next band I had in mind to see was an amazing one I have never covered before called The Bridge City Sinners.

Part of the fun of festivals is running into so many friends on the roads from stage to stage as everyone goes and sees their favorite band all day and night. This afternoon I for one found a new favorite band in the Bridge City Sinners, who come from Portland Oregon and was formed in 2016.

They have a new album called “Here’s To The Devil” out now on Flail Records and from that album they opened with “Through And Through” which was full of suicidal innuendos and selling your soul to the devil, you know all that happy stuff. This band is choked full of wonderful scenes like holy water burning your fingertips.

This band was originally slated to play the Southern Gothic festival in October, but couldn’t play. I was disappointed, because songs like “Kreacher” are inventive and fitting for Halloween fun. Miss Libby Lux has her signature growl and evil laugh on songs like “Laugh While You Can”, where they display an absolute macabre sense of hilarity to the stage. It’s evil and it’s fun, it’s raw and edgy but at the same time it’s professional and contains complex music from the likes of Mr. Lightnin’ Luke Bespiel on fiddle whom also assisted the Tejon Street Corner Thieves.

The band also has Mr. Jesse Payne on acoustic guitar, Mr. Michael Flecha on the resonator AKA King Strang. Mr. Scott Michaud who owns Flail Records played upright bass today for them. Also they had Mr. Clyde McGee on the banjo for their set.

I was beyond impressed with the amount of people that this band drew here today. On the third day of any festival and this early in the day, to draw a crowd this size is indeed an impressive feat.

“Song Of The Siren” I cannot see how she performs that night after night without loosing her voice. It truly digs deep out of her chest to sing that song, and while it is well written for a Roots song it has that accompanying Gothic theme to it. “Pussy Cat” was pulled from their self titled 2016 album as was the song “St. John’s Infirmary” which gets covered by many. “Ashes” was next which had all the fine fiddling I needed to satisfy my palate and make me jump in joy.

“Virgin Sacrifice” was next followed by “Run From The Sun”, and the last song I caught by them was called “Witches Wrath”. And as the partying continued my crew and I parted ways into the musical abyss to capture so many different aspects of the festival, some of these photos may not be Country bands..but this website appreciates ALL KINDS of REAL MUSIC!


Photo Courtesy Of Marla Gibson.

Miss Marla took thousands of terrific photos and shared many of them on social media in groups and on pages. Many of the artists and bands were enjoying them and using them. Once again if you would like to hire her or purchase some of her photos her page is right HERE.

The next band I got to see was the Texas based Mike And The Moonpies whom also released a new album right on the time of the festival date here. There were so many great bands that released new music on this weekend it was uncanny. I am going to let Mr. Joshua Wallace write about them, but all of us were there for this one!

I’m going to focus some time on this band and then I’m going to share some photos for you that Miss Marla took, and ones I took of Punk Metal Legends The Dead Kennedys, and others like Hank Von Hell, and a BUNCH of others that played on the Saturday portion of this event.

Mike Harmeier was a local songwriter who, in 2007  recruited drummer Kyle Ponder, guitarist Catlin Rutherford, bassist Omar Oyoque, and steel guitarist Zachary Moulton to form a powerhouse band in Austin Texas called Mike And The Moonpies. This band also helped usher in the Red Dirt movement, and I hope that muddy Roots joins in that movement. See that’s what’s unique about Mr. Jason, he enjoys ALL KINDS of stuff and books what he enjoys. On one stage you may have GZA and another you may have this band.

Once again I wanted to thank Marla Gibson Imageryfor her contributions to my weekend of work on Muddy Roots, with these pictures of The Dead Kennedys and The Koffin Kats and Hank Von Hell. To be honest, I have always been more of a Country and Roots website that has strayed many times into different forms of music you cannot make a genre out of.

And that is honestly what Muddy Roots is all about. Mixing so many different kinds of music fans into one big field enjoying each other’s company. For the select few that actually ‘get it” and get what Muddy is all about we enjoy some beautiful company and life long friends. Hugs and smiles all around make Muddy Roots my HOME festival.

Mr. Charlie Overbey played the wood stage at the same time as Mike And The Moonpies, and we got to see him play “Slip Away”. I myself didn’t get to see him play much more than two songs today, because I was bouncing around so much this weekend.

This young man’s music has been impressing me, and I have been keeping an eye on him and the Broken Arrows, which is his band. He was born and raised in California, which actually has a rich history of West Coast Country Music that this young man carries into his present day stage act.

He has a similar past to many of us my age, to where we grew up with Country Music and it remained deep within our veins only to remain docile, but not until our Punk Rock or Metal years have been quenched that it shall surface. However, when that day does indeed emerge it triumphs any and all other passions in our souls.

Mr. Justin Boot ran a very nice open mic stage for the weekend outside of stage one, and it featured a wide array of talent from the festival patrons. The water park area was also in the same area, where kids played and cooled off all weekend while listening to the music.

The side stage tent called the Sweet Time Tent featured some good bands like this one called Sash The Bash. They had a hard rocking set with intense kick you in the balls songs like “Rock And Roll Orgy”. Which was just a hardcore party good old fashioned time. I mean let’s do it on the floor, let’s do it on the table…that gets a guys attention, HA.

Tonight she was just signing, but some of her videos she has a bitching double neck guitar, and her band is top notch up your ass metal.  Now I thought that the song “Bang Your Head” would be the Quiet Riot cover, however it was not, it was their own version of their own song.

Miss Sasha Valleley is the leader of this band of crazies that also consists of Miss Amy Epperley on the bass guitar, Mr. Cullen Curtis and also Mr. Ben Dairedow.

“I Don’t Like You” was their debut single and one of the only ones you’ll see on Spottily. That’s not really a bad thing to be honest, I enjoy YouTube and buying their music from the merch table. This stage was ran by good friend Mr. Chad, who always does a top notch job of managing his stage. He is always a nice friend to me and came to see my set Sunday ( which I may touch on a little). Mr. Chad is a VERY good friend that supports what I do vehemently.

“Hipster Douchebag” is another strong in your face song. This band is very strong lyrically and is an integral part of the presence of women in local music. “Mornin After” , and “Wild Man Child” were both also included in tonight’s set. I thought perhaps the song “Hotwired” was going to be a metal version of a Del McCourry cover song, but again NOPE. This young lady has her OWN style and songs, and fit in VERY WELL with the Muddy Roots way of doing things. I LOVED this set here!

Mr. Chad Martindale one of our yearly stage managers who dedicate their time to make sure we have a good time for ourselves. I think right now is ANOTHER TIME I need to take a few moments out to thank all of the fine folks that do so much for Mr. Jason, like my buddygirl Miss Cole that sells merch and takes tickets every year, Miss Delane Chavez and her husband Mr. Milton. Mr. Chris Cahill and Mr. Robert brown who does all kinds of jobs there.

Photos courtesy of Miss Marla Gibson.

Mr. Luther is going to be writing about this band The Goddamn Gallows whom have played many Muddy Roots festivals. First off, I have to admit that Goddamn Gallows is one of my favorite bands in the world. They are the definition and embodiment of the term “Muddy Roots”. The fact that they’ve played EVERY Muddy Roots Musical Festival should tell you everything you need to know about this band.

That said, their 2019 show at MR is one of the best sets I’ve ever seen them play. Mikey Classic (guitar, banjo), Jayke Orvis (banjo, mandolin), Fishgutzzz (Stand up bass), and Baby Genius (drums), rocked the Truck Stage for 75 minutes, until a stage tech reminded them they were 15 minutes over. They commanded the large stage with their hybrid brand of punk psychobilly hoedown roots metal (say that 3 times fast), or as I like to describe it, bluegrass you can slam dance to, keeping the crowd fully engaged the entire time.

Performing songs from throughout their discography, they were in top form as each member, expert musicians and colorful characters, took the spotlight at some point of the show. The appearance of Urban Pioneers Liz Sloan and Jared McGovern onstage for a few songs gave us a 3/4 Jayke Orvis Broken Band reunion. There were also guest appearances from Gary Lindsay (Black Vermillion) Jack Gibson (Exodus), and Tommy Koffin (Koffin Kats).

Overall, an outstanding set by one of the best bands out there touring and recording today. If they come to your town, go see them!

Grassmuncher
Heaven
What Was The High?
7 Devils
Down With The Ship
The Maker
City of Fools
Pass the Bottle (w/Gary Lindsey)
Raise The Moon (w/Liz Sloan and Jared McGovern)
Dreadful Sinner (w/Liz Sloan and Jared McGovern)
When No One’s Around (w/Liz Sloan)
Ol’ Dusty Trail (w/ Liz Sloan)
Waiting Around To Die (w/ Liz Sloan and Jack Gibson)
In League With Satan (w/ Liz Sloan and Jack Gibson)
Howlin’ Wind (w/ Liz Sloan and Tommy Koffin)

Metal Legends Municipal Waste closed out Saturday night with one hell of a set on the wood stage, that I watched from the media tower. Folks I’ll be honest I’m too damn old and wore out for stomping around in mosh pits, but I still enjoy my Heavy metal.

I don’t really mind including these photos in my articles in any way, and I still have a ton of stuff to tell you about as we move into Sunday’s shows. I played my own small set Sunday morning, and got to work with the sound guys on the big tent stage. This was Mr. Chris O Brien from Stage Rite Sound in Nashville.

Sunday ended up being an early departure for me as I had to get my photographer back to the airport very early in the morning so we left shortly before the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band performed. However I did indeed catch some of their set this weekend.

One of the first people I got to see was Mr. Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen on the wood stage, while I took part of the gospel hour in the tent before my own set. Yes folks you heard that correct I did indeed play a full half hour set, but my time was pushed back for scheduling discrepancies. I played a bunch of old timey classic three chord country music.

There was a plethora of good music VERY early today here, as also Mr.Josh Morningstar was on the wood stage and my good friends the Urban Pioneers were also on the big main stage after I played. I will be bringing you coverage of all of these sets from today, as well as some other things I wanted to touch on about Muddy Roots in general.

Mr. Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen plays that good old fashioned country Music that warms the heart and soul, and he possesses a powerfully smooth voice and a equally smooth guitar tone. He plays his own signature compositions and also plays obscure covers that the public doesn’t always pick on as being covers. That’s what I like to do when I play as well. I call it the “BR5-49 Formula” because in the early 90s they were doing it down on Broadway.

Mr. Josh Morningstar, man what can i say about him that hasn’t already been said? This young man is out burning up the highways and byways playing his shows for everyone. he has had a very good songwriting career, having many songs penned for Mr. Cody Jinks and others.

He opened with a song about quitting, and it was called something like “The Only Thing I Ever Quit Was Quitting”. It was one of his newer songs I had never heard before myself, and he also played his title song called ‘The Plea’. Many of his old albums are out of print and have become obscure, and I revel in that obscurity as a collector.

“Damn These Birds” is his anthem for the addicted and the struggling person to get clean. It is about the dealers that push their crap on people, and how they manipulate junkies into needing their stuff. He went into a fun and lengthy version of Roger Miller’s “Dang Me”, which features his passion for Country Music history. It’s always a treat to get to stop and talk to him about Legends that have passed on.

“Must Be The Whiskey” is the first song he had recorded by Mr. Cody Jinks for the Lifers album, and he always plays this on his set. He played a bunch more good cover songs until he got to my personal favorite song called “Jerry Lee”. This song is about Rock And Roll Legend Jerry Lee Lewis who is one of the most overlooked outlaws of any genre of music…period.

Black Irish Texas is a way cool band that played in the big tent stage. They opened with “Join The British Army” among other songs. They are a combination of so many types of music that it’s very hard to label songs like “To hell With The King” into a folder.

Mr. James Fitzsimmons, Mr. Mark Maughmer II, Miss Shannon McMillan , Mr. Michael Franklin, Mr. James Sheeran, Mr. Chad Fitzsimmons, Mr.  Bil Zarate, and Mr. Brian Blackwood make up this Austin Texas outfit here.

I got to catch up with my good friend Mr. John Howie Jr in the Sweet Time tent, now mind you I am catching many sets at one time. This was right before I hired Mr. Luther to help , so now I have more eyes and ears on the field.

He graced my TOP 50 of 2018 with a masterpiece of an album called “Not Tonight”, and blasted us with his first song off that album called “Wish My Heart”.  This song is a lonely lament of not knowing what to do, and wishing your heart would know what to do. Now he pulled some songs from his 2011 album called Leavin’ Yesterday. One was called “Handful Of Heartaches” and some of them were from the Two Dollar Pistols like “Getting Gone”…from way back in 2002 and 2003.

See folks, years ago when I started listening to underground music and Texas music I discovered a plethora of bands like his band, which he lead and people like Miss Tift Meritt and labels like Yep Rock Records. This man is in my opinion a local music Legend,  and I’ll stand on the damn rooftops and shout it out.

From his new album he played “Never Could Say Yes” and another one called “When I’m Not There With You”. Back in 2008 I discovered a BUNCH of GREAT Texas music like Red Meat and Eleven Hundred Springs…and THIS MAN TOO. So many of the songs he played today like “I’m Not There With You” I just stood back and enjoyed.

“So Doggone Lonesome” was another song in his set along with “Breakin Up With Me”, and others. I was rapidly moving around from place to place trying hard to retain everything before we had to leave for the weekend to return to life. His band is all from the Chapel Hill North Carolina area, and consisted of Mr. Mark Murphy on drums, Mr. Nathan Golub on pedal steel, Mr. Tim Shearer on guitar and Mr. Mark Connor on the bass.

My good friends, also from Texas and Tennessee ( and everywhere else)  called The Urban Pioneers is as always Miss Liz Sloan, Mr. Jared McGovern and Mr. Scott on the upright bass. Honestly they have self released some truly solid records in the last few years, only one being on a label which was Muddy roots Records.

Their sixth album was the 2019 release called “Come Out Swingin”, and I didn’t get to hear their entire set or any of the songs that were on this album here. I did indeed get to hear a bunch from their first album called “Addicted To the Road”.

This husband and wife duo are one of the many original people from the first Muddy Roots Festival here, back then they were both playing for Mr. Bob Wayne and The Outlaw Carnies. I remember admiring their musical abilities all those years ago, before they joined Mr. Jayke Orvis And The Broken Band to record two more albums.

The Broken Band disbanded soon afterwards, leaving them to release the 2014 iconic Roots music album that I mentioned just before called “Addicted To The Road”. The songs that I did get to hear from them were selected from this album. They aptly opened their set with “Muddy Roots”.

“Autumn Time” is one I really like to hear myself, and in fact I truly wish the damn weather would act like it was autumn time here. It’s October and it’s 100 damn degrees out! “High On A Mountain” is from their 2016 album called “Feast Or Famine”.

The last song they played that I got to hear was called “Please Give Me A Highway”, then I also got to catch some of the band called Gallows Bound. They played the song called “Broken Glass”, which opens with dark and poignant banjo picking. They are six childhood friends from Virginia that were involved in the local punk scene, and used to privately jam Bluegrass and other kinds of music. Miss Jordan has an absolutely BEAUTIFUL voice, and she is an energetic stage presence, in fact this whole band does!

Miss Jordan Joyes on vocals, guitar, Mr. Jesse Markle on vocals, guitar, Mr.Justin Carver – banjo, Mr. Aaron Blow on bass and finally Mr. Rob Shultz back on the drums make up the band. Their stage presence and demeanor is defiantly one that fits with our Muddy roots frame of mind.

 

They are a very talented outfit that I have had the opportunity to cover a few times. As soon as she sings take your finger off the trigger, the whole tent goes nuts. They have that punkgrass style mixed with rolling drums and fast picking banjo and mandolins.

“Empty Flask Empty Heart” was another great song here along with “Appalachian Witch” which was later on in the set today. “Black Widow Woman” was another great slow starting song that turns out to be a toe tapping rowdy song about running around the hills. She’s gonna kill you folks, this is pure mountain punk folk music folks.

“Guardian” and “Dogs A Howlin” were part of their set tonight as well as the song they closed with called “Del Fuego”, which is about a working man who is ready to party. This song is a complete jam with lines like when we get to where we’re going we’re going down.

Honestly, right now I am writing three different festival articles and this gal….this gal is involved in two of them. I got to hear some NEW SONGS from her at Americanafest during the fourth annual backyard bash for her label Bloodshot Records. Her band is a well oiled machine, and I get excited about every time I get to cover their set at festivals in ANY type of environment. Do I really need to introduce Miss Sarah Shook And The Disarmers?

She had Mr. Eric Peterson on electric guitar leads still and also Mr. Phil Sullivan on that pedal steel, and this time she had a different bass player, and drummer. The 2017 ( and older) album Sidelong boasted her opening song called ‘Heal Me’, as well as her third song called “Fuck Up”.


Photo Courtesy Of  Miss Marla Gibson

“Parting Words” is a hurtful song about breaking up and using condolences to say goodbye. Many of her songs are taken from the darker side of life and love, she is a modern day female version of Hank Williams in many ways. And that’s not a bad thing one bit, I’ll say this about the gals in 2019…they have outdone the guys in my opinion on music. I’m enjoying them at festivals much more than male artists, with this gal at the forefront.

“Road That Leads To You” was next from Sidelong as well as “Nothin Feels Right But Doing Wrong”. I LOVE this thumping beat song filled those pedal steel twangs that push the song along. One more upper in my hand, one more make it a double…one more…every addict can relate to one more.

I really REALLY enjoy studying Mr. Phil here and I like to zero in on him and just watch what he does. I hope I don’t get in his way or crowd his space on stage ever. “Lesson”, was next also “Good As Gold” was in this set. She included the title track “Sidelong” as well as what I think were some new ones.

“Over You” was another good one I love, as well as “Damned If I Do Damned If I Don’t”. I don’t wanna try this again I’m over you…once again this is just a give up song. Sometimes you just cannot keep retrying to have a good romance if it’s “not there” anymore.

“The Bottle Never Let’s Me Down” and another good one that turned me onto her is “Dwight Yoakam”. She closed her set with “New Ways To Fall” from the second album. I wandered off to catch other sets like The Calamity Cubes!

This was the initial band ever booked by Mr. Jason to play the inaugural Muddy Roots, and they started around 2007. They are Mr. Brooke Blanche, Mr. Joey Henry and Mr. Kody Oh. They were joined by many other musicians today that have played Muddy Roots in so many other years like Miss Liz Sloan.  I got to hear them play “Delia Rose” before I went onto other things for the day.

I did get to hear The Revered Peyton’s Big Damn Band play “Clap Your Hands”. We did have to leave early on Sunday for rest and getting back to daily order for us. I still had a wonderful time out at the Junebug Ranch and once again my thanks to Mr. Herbert And Miss Amber Lee Clark for hosting us.

All of the wonderful food at Scooters bar and the gorgeous property that this festival is held on is someones property and I want ALL OF YOU to PLEASE remember to respect that. Leave the wildlife alone and respect the bathrooms and the firewood.

MUDDY FAMILY FOREVER.

Gary Hayes Country TOP 50 OF 2018.

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Dec 292018
 

Well it’s been one hell of a crazy 2018, with this past summer being one of the first jobs I ever had to cancel when I blew that car up! I had the opportunity to cover many great new events TWO NEW festivals Master Musicians Festival and for Day 1 click HERE. I was also fortunate enough to have been invited to cover Kickin It On The Creek for day 1 click HERE.

I was invited to cover Whitey Morgan At The Ryman on his first ever headlining show there. I had fun watching him grow as a national act, and you WILL SEE his album down there on the list. I covered Muddy Roots for both days of the event HERE is day 2 of the event. I also covered the Nashville Boogie on both days you can click HERE for day 1.

Mr. Joshua Wallace and I stay in constant communication and stay working to bring YOU THE BEST in Country Music, Red Dirt, Americana (which ain’t no part of nothin) Bluegrass, Newgrass, and many other communities of music like the Appalachian community and mid west K.C. and Denver area. Also, people like Mr. Dallas Moore are booming the Ohio community wide open while maintaining a Texas presence.

Now, I let Mr. Joshua RELEASE HIS TOP 50 before I release mine,and I do NOT impose any rules on him as far as what he prints. I allow him full creativity and control. Because I’ll be honest I HAVE NOTICED how mainstream Country radio has been omitting women from it’s forefront, and why not? It’s target market is women! Well folks I want to say there were SO MANY GREAT albums from Women in 2018 I could make a TOP 50 of JUST women, but I think your palate will be well satisfied with my list…

ONE THING AS ALWAYS I want to stress is that my number 50 and number 2 means NOTHING. If you made my TOP list your album spoke to me as a person, and I LOVED IT! I eagerly listened to over 500 albums this year, and I loved them all.

1. Joshua Hedley Mr. Jukebox

Oh yes by ALL MEANS this album was NUMBER ONE of 2018 for me! I mean it really does describe this man and his extensive plethora of songs he can perform live, you CANNOT stump him on classic Country Music. He knows the melodies and lyrics WORD FOR WORD, and will perform them with flawless precision.

It’s very unique to begin an album with a slow song like “Counting All My Tears”, however it’s such a well written tear jerker that it would be remiss to NOT have placed that song first. This man possesses an extensive arsenal of heartaches..get some Kleenex for this album.

This man deserves EVERY accolade he has earned in music, because he put in so many years playing the Honky Tonks of downtown Nashville. I got to cover him during the Nashville Boogie one year, and with his fiddle he entertained us readily. If you would like to read our review of this album click HERE.

He has the look, the attitude and demeanor to become a Country Music Legend like the ones I watched him perform with on Country’s Family Reunion. He has single hand-idly restored my faith in the future of Country Music with songs like “Weird Thought Thinker” which sounds like I took a time machine to the 60’s…and there isn’t a DAMN THING wrong with that.

2. Colter Wall Songs Of The Plains

My friends over at Young Mary Records outdid themselves on this project along with someone I shall mention several times on this article Mr. Dave Cobb ( I call him a modern day Mr. Owen Bradley). This album is easily his most believable album TO ME he has out now, simply because of his gritty baritone voice and his TRUE cowboy authenticity. He LOOKS like he came in off the range, and sounds like he just herded cattle.

He holds dear to his heart the likes of Mr. Wilf Carter and Legend Billy Don Burns which boasts a cut on this album called “Wild Dogs”. It also contains some GREAT story songs like “John Beyers (Camaro Song)” which I first heard on the square in Madisonville Kentucky. You can read about that HERE. Also he recruited the likes of steel guitar Legend Lloyd Green and MORE to play for him on this album.

You can read more about my thoughts on this album HERE. Now PLEASE don’t get me wrong his second album with Kate McCannon helped usher my father into heaven. My father had Dementia, and we used that album to ease him down the path of it. He LOVED the album and played it over and over.

3. Shooter Jennings Shooter

This album here was one of my favorite album Mr. Shooter ever put out! I had an ecstatic hunger for it ever since he played The Nashville Palace and I got to hear many of the new songs live. One thing I love about Mr. Shooter is that he holds dear many of the things I do from my youth like toys and Hee Haw, as he promoted the album with skits akin to the show. You can watch those HERE.

It begins like an 80’s Hank Williams Junior classic song, that reminded me of the old Jimmy Bowen produced albums he did. I thought “Bound Ta Git Down” was a great launch to an even better record, that I loved in every way. If you ask if you should buy this album it’s a NO BRAIN question like “Do You Love Texas”?

This album is a few songs shorter than his previous albums but I didn’t mind because I loved the direction this one went. One thing Mr. shooter isn’t afraid to do is share his creative desires with his fans, no matter who criticizes him. This album proves that very thing! I also love the closing song called “Denim And Diamonds”, the sound of the vocals were smooth and different, you can read our thoughts on the whole album HERE.

4. Whitey Morgan Hard Times And White Lines

Much like a few of these choices, this album is perhaps my favorite album this man has ever released.  His band to me is sort of like The Texas Troubadors back in the day, it has begun to spawn some mighty fine side musicians that have gone their own way with Mr. Whitey’s blessings. In fact one of them is ALSO on this list here!

You cannot take away the fact this outfit tours relentlessly and plays one of the best live acts in local America right now. He just recently (see above) earned some headlining spots at the Ryman, and I’m sure he will make many more.

“Carryin’ On” was a song that related to myself, I never realized how brutal the road was until I myself began following these bands around America, and many have families. Yet, night after night they are miles from home and they do it with seemingly easy power.

This album began with a poignant song called “Honky Tonk Hell” which explores the dark side of Country Music, and continues with “Fiddler’s Inn” which features some truly fine steel guitar work in the back from Mr. Brett Robinson, and tells some awesome stories about a motel that is….quite busy….

5. Craig Gerdes Smokin’ Drinkin’ And Gamblin’

My friends at Sol Records have created many fine albums for us through the years, and as a journalist (actually I’m just a shlub with a website) and as a music patron I myself LOVE old timey Honky Tonk stuff that sounds retro. I love hard sounding steel, and I love Legends, and I LOVE Mr. Jim Vest.  This album is choked full of all of those, along with a finely tuned vocal delivery from Mr. Craig.

HERE is my article from the album release party at the Nashville Palace from earlier this year. For Mr. Joshua’s review click HERE. From the opening song of the same title the fancy twisting steel guitar work dazzled my mind, as I listened to the background.

It’s also got that trademark foot stomping rhythm that you used to hear on those iconic Outlaw Country albums in the 70’s. It has well done covers like “Slide Off Of Your Satin Sheets” , which Vest makes sound just as beautiful as when Paycheck cut it in 1977.  I think Paycheck would be proud of the direction this young man is tasking his music!

6. Kayla Ray Yesterday And Me

Now here begins the point I was trying to illustrate to all of you, that 2018 was a STRONG YEAR for females that mainstream media ignores. They don’t want you to know about all of this fine music that is coming out of the woodwork on local levels, because it’s GOOD STUFF!

This woman’s background bears great evidence of her relevance within the Texas Country Music scene, and she has done more in her twenties than many artists I could name have done on their couch doing live feeds. In her young age, she managed Jason Eady WITH SUCCESS and also played with the Legendary Johnny Gimble Band.

This album is stuffed overflowing with shuffle melodies that ring true to the sawdust floor Honky Tonk of Texas and all across America. Including the fast paced KILLER SONG called “Pills”, it’s hilarious and probably one of the best songs I heard in 2018.

It has twelve songs on it, and all the songs are great length and accompany one another well. The listener is taken on a rocket ride of Honky Tonk bliss, with a twangy and unique vocal delivery that makes her distinguishable from her peers.

7. Brent Cobb Providence Canyon

This album would be a shame to omit off ANYBODY’S TOP lists of 2018, I mean honestly this man is one of the finest songwriters out there today. You can pick his voice out a HUGE GROUP of artists that exist today, and his music fits NO real genre to be honest. You can classify him as whatever you want as long as it’s good music.

The album is named after a nearby gully that he visited often as a young man, and is about life on the run. On the run is exactly what he spent 2017 doing touring with powerhouse Mr. Chris Stapleton and Miss Margo Price.

I think his cousin Mr. Dave Cobb is one of the most iconic producers of our time, and teamed up with Mr. Brent  Cobb’s fine musicianship and songwriting skills this man is unstoppable in every way.

It drops upbeat songs like the title track and sways over to funkier styles like “.30-06” as well nine other fine songs to accompany those two, to read Mr. Joshua’s review click HERE. Whatever you do make sure you go out and catch his live show in 2019, because he is steamrolling forward!

8. Ashley McBryde Girl Going Nowhere

This is a phenomenal album in every way,and I think it’s downright shameful the way that mainstream media overlooks her and a few other females out there doing some damn fine Country Music on a hardcore touring basis. It seems no matter how hard they get out and work, they get NO attention from radio.

The opening song “Girl Going Nowhere” is amazing, and well written. It grabbed me right away, and shared her personal struggles with me. She’s evidently had a LOT of doubters and negative people putting her down.

Another good song was “Livin Next To Leroy” which is pretty much a truthful song about rural drug America and how things are around town. However the greatest song on this album was “Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” , this was truly a well written masterpiece and one of the best songs of 2018 in my opinion.

9. Loretta Lynn Wouldn’t It Be Great

Another album that could’ve easily been higher up on the list, but to be honest the numbers  on this list mean nothing for importance. In fact I could have easily made a TOP 100 but for GOD’S SAKE I couldn’t build one that big ( you have NO IDEA how long 50 takes).

The title track was the last song she ever wrote for her late husband before he passed away, and to have this album be nominated for a Grammy was heavenly. Followed by the great song called “Ruby’s Stool” which was one of my personal favorite songs of 2018 as well.

The re make of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was vocally flawless and pure gold,  despite her age Miss Loretta is one of the finest singers around. True she has had some health issues, but she remains quite active and honors her Opry membership with pride.

At thirteen songs this album was one of the finest album she has released since Van Lear Rose, and it contained more new music than anything she has released in a while. “I’m Dying For Someone To Live For” is a beautiful two step song full of mournful craving for a new loved one.

10. Sarah Shook And The Disarmers Years

Another damn fine album released by a damn fine gal, and I enjoy her live show just as much as anybody’s.  Her band the Disarmers is an absolute well oiled machine, and once again we have an artist with a VERY distinct voice. Her style rivals nobody else but her own, and I loved the direction of this album here.

She played ONE HELL of a GREAT set at Muddy Roots this year, and IT WAS HOT, and she was RIGHT IN the sun. Regardless she banged it out and gave us one hundred percent, and one hell of a terrific show. Sometimes when I think of my past marriage I can flip things around and relate to “New Ways To Fail”. That’s a truly well written song of woe is me drama from a shit life. But I built myself back up now!

Another great song here was “Parting Words” even though many may regard her lyrics as negative and sad, I regard them as relatable and REAL. You know Miss Sarah isn’t afraid to speak her mind and support her passionate feelings, and that’s alright with me…it shows in her songs which makes her unique in a good way.

11. The Earls Of Leicester Live At The CMA Theater

I mean how can a Bluegrass super group like the Earls Of Leicester NOT get on the TOP 50? Not only a super group, but a super group modeled after a band like Lester Flatt And Earl Scruggs? See, this band is called The Earls Of Lester, just spelled like that.

From the very intro from the warm voice of Mr. Eddie Stubbs, they barrel right into “Salty Dog” and play many other well known Flatt And Scruggs songs. I just LOVE Mr. Jeff White who plays a few off of his solo album called “I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow”, which features all of their individual talents like the dobro work of Jerry Douglass.

This album boasts a vibrant twenty three song set, well over an hour of music. You get a lot of bang for buck when you buy this album on vinyl, it’s a biggie. It’s also filled with classics like “Rollin In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” and “Black Eyed Suzy”..to read more click HERE.

12. Dallas Moore Mr.Honky Tonk

Although the initial title song here was actually a re make of his own song in a different tempo, many of his newer fans (including myself) didn’t know that at first. I sort of delved into his past to find that out, and then he told me more. To call him a local Ohio Legend would be a correct moniker here, he’s been at this for decades. To call him a road warrior would also be aptly correct, as he plays a whopping 340 shows a year. So when he sings “Home Is Where The Highway Is” he is correct.

This album also boasts songs like “Somewhere Between Bridges”, and my favorite on the album is easily ‘You Know The Rest” because I DO know the rest, he will melt your damn face off. The last time I went to see him, he surprised me with a rare Mr. Hoyt Axton song “Della And The Dealer”.

HERE is our review of this album, and HERE is an article from him opening for Mr Gene Watson.The only drawback was this was a short album, and I wanted a little more of Mr. Moore. Although the GOOD thing was I finally got to buy him on vinyl.  This album is spot on fantastic in every other way possible.

13. John Prine The Tree Of Forgiveness

What can I say about Mr. John Prine that nobody has yet? Well, this year we spoke with our wallets as consumers, because this album was his most commercially successful album in over twenty years for Mr. John.

He told us all a story during his performance at Master Musicians Festival about the song called “Egg And Daughter Night Lincoln Nebraska 1967 ( Crazy Bone)”. I cannot print the entire thing here, but I did within the link article there.

Everybody loves the song “When I Get To Heaven” and it could easily become his anthem song along with “Paradise”. this album was recorded and mastered so beautifully that it captured the very essence of Mr. John with dignity.

Despite this album only having ten songs, they are very lengthy and it makes the album enjoyable. He wrote the songs in a motel room that he rented for the duration of the time he needed to write. He said he ate, and slept when he wanted while writing the songs.

14. Laura Benitez And The Heartache With All It’s Thorns

This album almost flew under even my radar, had it not been for Miss Kim Grant, one of my PR people that enjoy sending me clients albums for my opinions. Well here’s my opinion of this one, FANTASTIC. It starts right out of the gate with a toe tapping song with Cajun influence akin to a Mavericks tune called “Something Better Than A Broken Heart”.

The steel guitar work on songs like “Easier Things To Do” bring out the honesty in her vocals with a very warm and Country tone, and follows right into “Our Remember Whens” that anybody that has entered into a relationship can relate. When a couple can get together and reminisce on the good times…that’s a treat. Everybody can’t wait to have special moments like that.

‘Ghost Ship” is a poignant and darker song with some mighty fine fiddle work, and I thought that song showcased her voice better than any on the album overall. Every song was well over three minutes here, which made this album stellar on every level. To read more about this album click HERE.

15. Mike And The Moonpies Steak Night At The Paradise Rose

I must agree with other websites out there featuring real music about this band, THEY ARE the best Country Music band out there right now. They are a hard working “Road Crew” type band, with mind blowing instrumentals and toe tapping beats that inspire alcohol consumption on copious levels. This is one of those instances that number 50 isn’t ANY WORSE than number 2.

The title track itself is one of the best songs on the album, with a slower two step tempo that tells stories about real life. My father used to take me to bars when I was little also, and it inspired me to chase musicians around and write articles about them like I do now!

This band misses NO notes, and in my opinion is a well oiled machine in every way, and boasts some of the finest written lyrics I could find on the Texas scene from any band. With songs like “Getting High At Home” you cannot find on a mainstream level anymore. I’m older now, and my major partying is done, I enjoy getting drunk at home by myself…with music like this! To read more about this album please go HERE.

16. Josh Card With A Heavy Heart

This former member of Whitey Morgan’s backup band the 78’s reminds me of the Texas Troubadors type deal from long ago. When solo acts emanated from backing bands, and became Legends like Mr. Jack Greene and Mr. Carl Smith. I was first exposed to his music as he opened for Whitey Morgan in 2018 on New Years…read that HERE.

This young man boasts more promise than anyone on this list as far as breakthrough acts as far as I am concerned. I sent my right arm to Florida to cover his release party, and got good reports. It starts out with a fiddle double stop, that right there should make you buy this album! I asked myself many times why do I “Suffer’ over you?

“Won’t Chase Your Your Love” is a classic well written Country song that I brought tears to my eyes from hunger for hearing one like it. Just a touch of late 80’s shuffle and some 70’s feel, one can easily ascertain this young man knows his shit. He is like ME, he eats, sleeps and breaths REAL country from many eras.

The BEST SONG is ‘Unknown Legend” I know a few of them myself, this is a terrific story telling song. VERY descriptive and vivid in the picture it paints into my head, I highly suggest this album and catch this man’s live show. To read more on this album click HERE.

17. The Wooks Glory Bound

This Bluegrass band is one of the Appalachian community staples, and I was introduced to them from my buddy Mr. JJ Waters and his Honky Tonk Hero page on Facebook (please go check them out). I finally got to see them live at Kickin It On the Creek. Now initially I did NOT like them, but I kept listening and found I was WRONG.

This band is TIGHT and very energetic on stage, even though they are Bluegrass, they have their own sound. Quite a different niche like Jamgrass has, I mean you could place them with Greensky or Pert Near Sandstone and pull off a GREAT show. The title track ‘Glory Bound” brings forth a noble sound with obvious traditional harmonies that brought me goosebumps.

The vocals on this album are beyond terrific on songs like “Union Pacific” but the album shifts over to funky shuffles like “Little Sandy Queen” that features terrific banjo picking of older style with a new style of tempo. I myself heavily support the new evolution of the Jamgrass tempo, I know many of the traditional people hate it.  This band truly has a bright and big future ahead of them.

18. John R Miller And The Engine Lights The Trouble You Follow

Here is another West Virginia, East Kentucky based member of that community that plays bass for another of my TOP list here Mr. Pat Reedy And The Longtime Goners, also he is a staple member of the Prison Book Club. The first song on this album is called “Holy Dirt” and is an absolute JAM, very uniquely written song with real meanings.

“Red Eyes” was another song I liked on this album with a good melody, to be honest every song on this album featured some mighty fine songwriting. Also, he delivers his lyrics with his own style of singing that differentiates him from his peers.

“How It Feels In The Light” is another cool toe tapping song with that steel sound I like as a fan, but when I got to “Whale Party” I found my favorite song on this album. That song just spoke to me as a person more than the rest, it was easily relatable to me. To read more on this album click HERE.

19. The Urban Pioneers Hillbilly Swing Music

This brings me to another mind blowing talented band The Urban Pioneers, one of the hardest working road warriors on the market today. This latest offering is by FAR their BEST album out to date, both songwriting wise and musically. Don’t get me wrong “Mary The Elephant” and other songs are good, and ALL their albums were good musically, however this one stood out like a rooster wearing socks.

This pairing of Miss Liz and Mr Jared was a blessing for local music like this, they understand each other and Mr. Martin on bass make this band even better. “Hillbilly Swing Music” launches this album right out of the gate at breakneck speed.

“Can’t Make You Love Me too” is a slow and sorrowful song about just what the title says, you can’t make someone love you. “Run Little Rabbit Run” is such a fast paces song I cannot even explain how they pick that fast! This band has garnered a plethora of success at many of the festivals I cover, it’s no surprise to see their names  on twenty or so. HERE is my review of the album.

20. Cody Jinks Lifers

First off let me stress once again just because this album looks to be low on the list MAKE NO MISTAKE it makes no difference WHERE any of these albums are I enjoyed them all just the same. Now, this album faced huge criticism from fans due to the level of production on it, and I had no real complaint on that. Cody Jinks is growing on an exponential level, but that didn’t come easily. He spent MANY YEARS playing gas stations and small bars for 10 people.

Mr. Josh Morningstar’s song “Must Be The Whiskey” was one of the high points on this album for me, along with Mr. Ward Davis’s song “Colorado”. All of the songs on this album were really good, but they didn’t speak to me personally until the title track “Lifers”. I been banging away on this website for almost ten years, I’m a lifer.

I also liked the song “Big Last Name” it was well written and had some 80s influence to it for sure. Mr. Cody is a prime example of what hard work and proper networking can do for yourself. He didn’t use radio and major media exposure to get to his echelon. He beat and banged the road and endured a lot of pain, and sweat to get here! HERE is Mr. Joshua’s review of the album.

21. Josh Ward More Than I Deserve

This album from a young man in the Texas Music community absolutely enthralled me with so much delight, I heard it ten times before I decided YES that’s on my TOP 50. He isn’t exactly Red Dirt, but I can easily see how he could fit in there. I just liked his tempos and melodies on songs like “Ain’t it Baby”.

The more Red Dirt sound emanates forth on this album when the song “The Devil Don’t Scare Me” This album has many lows and highs of life in the songs, with relatable meanings and three chord truths that define Country Music as a whole.

HERE is another article we made for him, as he recorded the fiftieth Live At Billy Bob’s series (which I collect on vinyl). “Another Heartache” was a good old shuffle that was another song that took me back in time to better days, and past relationships I have had.

22. Pistol Annies Interstate Gospel

I waited for this album at Wal Mart at midnight and I bought it as the guy pulled it from the tote to stock the shelf. It is an absolute SHAME the major media has ignored and lambasted this album, and these three gals. HELL Gals in general!

This album just blazes out with their signature trio harmonies, some of the best harmonies I have heard since the Cactus Brothers and before that Marty Robbins! “Stop Drop And Roll One” is a prime example of their snarky songwriting. Here on their third offering we have some of their best songwriting yet, mainly due to where they were in their personal lives.

“Got My Name Changed Back” was hopefully Miss Miranda’s message to her ex, because I loved it. However, “Sugar Daddy” was the energetic rowdy song I expected this album to contain, and then follow that with a song like “Leavers Lullaby” which was slower and you have a MUST have addition for your collection.  This album was exactly what Country Music needed! HERE is Mr. Joshua’s review of this album.

23. Jason Boland And The Stragglers Hard Times Are Relative

This album boasts what is most defiantly my favorite song of 2018, and it is the title track from the album “Hard Times Are Relative”. I mean, good Lord we NEED more of these story songs like this, ones that make you THINK and use your imagination. We do NOT have those good old time western tunes like that one anymore, and with Country Music it’s not always a happy ending like this one. That song is flawless masterpiece of perfection.

More of his master songwriting skills shine out with songs like “I Don’t Deserve You” featuring Miss Sunny Sweeney, and another good one called “Dee Dee Od’d” which was about the Ramones. Many of his albums have been features on my TOP 50 in the past, however this is by far his best album to date in every way…period.

The last few songs on the album were good, but more stellar songwriting shined out as the song “Grandfather’s Theme” came out of my speakers. As I previously said the writing on this album is exquisite, and this song was nothing short of amazing like the other ten songs. HERE is Mr. Joshua’s review of the album.

24. Jamie Lin Wilson Jumping Over Rocks

2018 was truly a year for the ladies in my opinion, as I stressed on here MANY TIMES. this album was also BY FAR better than her first album. Maaan that first note she sings just punched me right in the guts. Her vocal abilities exceed many of her peers, and reminds me of one of my favorite gal singers Miss Emmylou Harris.

“Oklahoma Stars” features Mr. Evan Felker a man who spent much of 2018 in the limelight, and despite that I truly admire his band and his voice as well.This album was produced VERY WELL and sounds perfect, and I didn’t want this album to end. “Everybody’s Moving Slow” was a good song on the middle portion of the album, and helped this album flow smoothly. If you need a good relaxing album after a shitty workday, spin this one.

The song “Death And Life” was a truly amazing song with realistic hard to swallow lyrics, that make  you stop and think about what it’s all about. Basically it’s about death and life in circles, but it has a few hidden meanings if you think about it. “Run” was a song about running from an abusive relationship, which many can easily relate to I’m sure. HERE is Mr. Joshua’s review of this album.

25. The Tillers The Tillers

I have always admired and liked this band’s music, and if HAD TO name a favorite album by them I could not. Their precise musicianship usually makes many of their songs enjoyable in every way, and it accompanies songs like “The Weald And The Wild” to make it a wonderful song to begin an album.

I related very well personally to the song “Like A Hole In My Head” , which I was hearing during all of my summer festivals I was covering like Muddy Roots. As well as the next song “The Old General Store Is Burning Down” , which features  some great fiddle.

Their signature sound can be heard vibrantly on the song called “Riverboat Dishwashing Song”, that beautiful string band flow paired with a story woven very eloquently within the lyrics of the song. The final song on this album called “Another Postcard” was another simple song that I enjoyed so much, I could sit back and enjoy this band all night. HERE is our full review of this album.

26. Blackberry Smoke Find A Light

There are many genres of music I support on this website, and the whole Southern Rock type movement is one I LOVE. I’ll tell you WHAT if there is one fantastic stage show it is Blackberry Smoke. “Flesh And Bone” is a steady gallop song with rocking beats, with an I don’t care message of being only human.

Thirteen songs make up this behemoth album with only “Let Me Down Easy” with Miss Amanda Shires the only one under three minutes. One of the high points of this one is the five minute toe tapper called “I’ll Keep Ramblin” with steel player Mr. Robert Randolph, and breaks into a choir in the background. It starts to sound like a true southern Gospel revival, complete with guitar licks from all directions. It breaks and makes you think it’s over..and starts again.

When I initially saw the song “Till The Wheels Fall Off” I thought it was a Mr. Bob Wayne song of the same name and album title. But it is their own song with a punishing beat. This album was produced very well, however it wasn’t their BEST album, STILL it was very deserving of being on my list.

27. Missy Raines Royal Traveller

This third record that Bluegrass bass wizard Miss Missy Raines has released was a true gem. The song “Fearless Love” with Mr. Tim O’ Brien was a good song, then it went into the fiddle and mandolin work of her peers Miss Sierra Hull, Miss Molly Tuttle and Miss Becky Buller. Just gorgeous harmonies and string punishing banjo rolling. Oh, the harmonies are just breathtaking and gave me goosebumps. If it’s ONE voice I LOVE it is Miss Missy Raines And The New Hip.

“Allegheny Town” was equally beautiful to me and described a quaint little escape I have up here in Kentucky when I want to go clear my head and relax. This album relaxes me and makes me STOP and take a deep breath and FOCUS, ALL Bluegrass does, however the slower more contemporary Bluegrass eases me more. “To Here From There” was another fine song on here, it makes you look in the mirror and say HEY SHE WROTE THAT SONG ABOUT ME!

Artists like Miss Missy make me answer the age old “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” adage for the Bluegrass community. You cannot retract the authenticity of people like her, or Miss Sierra Hull or ANY of her peers. Their musicianship and passion for tone make albums like this a favorite in my collection. “Goodbye Virginia” With Mr. Trent Wagler was a great throwback song with an Appalachian vibe that stood out apart from the others here, and that was a good thing.

28. Cliff Westfall Baby You Win

Every year I get what I call a “mail champion”on my TOP 50 list…please let me elaborate on this. I get albums mailed to me on a HEAVY BASIS, and I’ll admit sometimes THE COVER grabs my eye. As did THIS MAN, it just said STOP, PICK ME. Funny Story I was on my way to the Country Music Hall Of Fame for the Studio B movie that plays there, and other stories, when I got this in the mail. So I thought to hell with it and stuck it in my truck stereo. RIGHT OFF the first ten notes of the upright bass thump I had to STOP and take notes. This album has a touch of rockabilly influence with that J.P. Harris twang on the lyrics.

Tone wise and lyrically this man is all over the spectrum, and that’s what my palate has been STARVING FOR in 2018. I mean I love being thrown for a loop and Mr. Cliff left me amazed, the title track “Baby You Win” was amazing and had some classic pop and twang, and an amazing fuzzy guitar tone.

BUT the BEST songwriting on this album comes at the middle of the journey with a well written song called “Off The Wagon”. This had a toe tapping pop and twang tempo as well, but the lyrics…WOW. Probably one of my TOP 10 songs I heard all year, from a fellow Kentucky boy who was raised not far from me, but now resides in New York. The line ‘You know rock bottom sure looks good on you” was phenomenal word placement and is a terrific song about sobriety and lack of it. BUY THIS DAMN ALBUM!

29. American Aquarium Things Change

This album is aptly named for one reason, with this band things did change. In my honest opinion this album is BY FAR their best work, and it made NUMBER ONE with my trusty partner Mr. Joshua Wallace.  To read more about that please click HERE. “The World Is On Fire” was kind of political song in it’s own way however I related well with myself, I don’t believe this is the world my grandfather fought for either, and I worried about the world as my child grew also. It’s a VERY positive song about strength and honor.

It’s been a few years since their last offering 2015’s Wolves however it’s been well worth the wait because this album shined like a bright beacon to me. “Crooked Straight” spoke to me like many songs this year, I was not quite sure WHO I WAS in my twenties either. I developed into one hell of a good journalist, and “Work Conquers All” folks. The steel guitar tone accompanied this song SO GOOD, and the Oklahoma music community is awesome.

This band is absolutely tight and right now they are on the pinnacle of their success if they continue in this direction for albums. They have a LOT more to accomplish in their career before ‘Till the Final Curtain Falls” and trust me they WILL, out of anybody on this TOP 50 list, they have the brightest future.

30. Randall King Randall King

This album is another classic three chords and the truth Traditional Country album, and it was top notch in every way. I see him on SO MANY Texas Music scene festivals, and I love that community. Songs like “Mirror, Mirror” are the good old fashioned George Strait type songs WE NEED in today’s mish mash of crap. The opening song “Freightline” was a good Honky Tonk thumping song that raised my expectations of this album, and he did NOT disappoint me.

‘Tuggin On My Heartstrings” was a good song many single men can relate to, accept the truck clean line. Mine is ALWAYS clean, you gotta love them women that tug on the heartstrings. I do NOT like change in my personal life so this song spoke to me.

I thought perhaps “Reason To Quit” was a cover of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson from the Pancho And Lefty album, however it was not. The closing song here was one full of heartbreak and sadness. HERE is our full review of this album.

31. Brandi Carlile By the Way I Forgive You

“Hold Out Your Hand” was a terrific song on this well recorded album.The production on this album captured her passion better than any of her previous albums in my opinion. The Devil don’t take a break indeed, and she hits the nail on the head here. I felt all of the songs accompanied one another quite well on this album, however most people would loose interest in the song length, I did not.

Even though this album only had ten songs on it the overall length of the those ten songs made it a good album, “Fulton County Jane Doe” is a GREAT song that I really liked a lot. You can read the full review of this album HERE.

“Harder To Forgive” was a good one to me I love a lot of the songs I hated as a kid too. I believe we all had wasted time in our youth, all souls are defiantly born kind in every way, innocent and pure. I had to stop and dwell on this song a while, and I loved it. I loved the concept and meaning of it, and I hope to catch her live in 2019.

32. Old Crow Medicine Show Volunteer

It’s not hard for me to dissect anything this band puts out, and it’s even more difficult for me to NOT like ANYTHING they do musically. I’ll be honest I LOVED Remedy the best out of any album BUT this album was absolutely AMAZING. These boys are like a modern day Nitty Gritty Dirt Band…they play EVERYTHING, you get a HUGE bang for your buck at live shows. You get FANTASTIC harmonies and LOVE of Country Music.

It starts out FAST and rowdy with “Flicker And Shine” which celebrates friendship, and showcases their harmonies they have as a band. This band is indeed a well oiled machine flawless in every way. This album has more of their signature harmonica playing on songs like “A World Away”, and goes into another epic song called “Child Of The Mississippi”, which has their signature dobro stomp and clap.

“Elzick’s Farewell” was one of my favorite songs here, with the swift Russian/ gypsy fiddle tempo and no lyrics. This type of musicianship is what I appreciate most from Old Crow than anything, however the song that follows “Whirlwind” was also fun. What a truly great story that paints a lovely picture in your mind, if you listen close enough, and care.

33. Dusty Rust Stolen Horse

This is one of my Kansas City scene friends, and he is a hard working artist, and a damn fine friend. This album starts out with the traditional sounding gallop song called “No One To Blame”, he could easily be placed on a lineup with Mr. Colter Wall or several others on this TOP list here. He has that baritone western voice that spins tales of the old west like many of his peers.

He is a staple presence at the beloved Westport Saloon, which if you love roots music as much as I do it is hallowed ground. YOU MUST watch their LIVE video feeds that take place EVERY NIGHT, you’ll eventually see this young man. “Don’t Wanna Go To Heaven” was another good point on this album, you will love the PARTY IN HELL lyrics.

It behooves me WHY more people in the Roots Music and Outlaw Music community cannot pay more attention to this man with songs like “Misery” it’s a complete NO BRAINER to put him on my TOP 50 list for the year. This album is perhaps one of the most underappreciated albums on my list…I hope this changes that, and it gets what it deserves.

34. Pat Reedy And The Longtime Goners That’s All There is And There Ain’t No More

Another album that I hope to bring more recognition to is this one Mr. Pat Reedy is a construction worker by day and Honky Tonker by night. He put on ONE HELL of a live show at Muddy Roots this year, and another man on this list Mr. John R. Miller plays bass for him.  First off this album has twelve songs, and they are all well written. “Bloodshot Heart” is the album’s opener, and it’s your typical Honky Tonk jam complete with proper push from that steel and hard beat.

This man personifies the working man like many of OUR heroes did, I say OUR because I think we ALL pretty much looked up to Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. I’m also just “Lucky I’m Alive”, the sound and the spin of the steel guitar make this a wonderful song. HELL there isn’t a bad song on this whole album!

HERE is my review of the whole album. “Conversation With Jesus”was one of the BEST songs I have heard this year as well. I feel the same way being a devout Christian myself, I think treating my fellow man with respect is setting a good example. I also had to laugh at the G Damn reference because I SURE THE HECK am guilty of doing it. “Funny Thing About A Hammer” hmmm it has a G Damn in it…I loved the lyrics on this album, and deem it an outstanding piece of music.

35. J P Harris Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing

What better to open a Honky Tonk Country album up with than a song about drugs and sweating the high out in a hotel room? “JP’s Florida Blues #1” and also “When I Quit Drinking” were full of good hooks I expect from this man’s songwriting style. I just LOVE his simple Honky Tonk slamming songs. When I quit drinking I start thinking about starting up again….what a DAMN GOOD line!

“Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing” is another complete masterpiece in my opinion, hoenstly if I did do a TOP 10 songs of the year, they would all be on here. That song would be on it for sure! “Hard Road” was a good rabble rousing song as well, it IS a hard road before you get back home for sure, I spent many a bloody nights broke to get where I am.

“I Only Drink Alone” was a good slow piano shuffle that I also relate to when I listen to Honky Tonk Country, and he followed that with another good drifter song called “Runaway”. He always gives off the perfect classic whiskey soaked hardcore hurt vibes on every song he sings, and that’s why I LOVE his music.

36. Adam Hood Somewhere In Between

This young man from Alabama was on my radar for quite some time before I finally got the chance to sit down with his album, and I REALLY enjoyed the writing on the opening song called “Heart Of A Queen”. Mr. Brent Cobb is also on this list, who appears on the song “She Don’t Love Me”.

However I stopped in my tracks when I heard the song “Alabama Moon” You know there are so many songs about Alabama now, but this song is such a different approach to his point here. It’s very descriptive and an overall good story about his youth, and if it’s a true story it’s a good one!

“Bayou Girl” was equally a good song about a Cajun gal, and I really enjoyed the dobro work on this song, it was well produced…probably one of the better produced albums on this list. HERE is Mr. Joshua’s review of his album.  The slower closing song called “Confederate Rose” was absolutely stunning and descriptive, and I eagerly await to hear it live.

37. Town Mountain New Freedom Blues

If there was one thing I learned at Kickin It On The Creek this year it was that the band Town Mountain doesn’t play around on stage. This new album was nothing more than eleven songs choked full of Bluegrass greatness with banjo craziness and more. The title track is the first song “New Freedom Blues”, which sets the pace with wonderful fiddle work. The banjo rings true on songs like “Lazy River”, and “Underdog”.

“Underdog” is a terrific song about getting knocked down on the gambling tables, you know you cannot win if you don’t play. “Witch Trials” was a good one about injustice in life. When I finally got to see them live I bought all of their albums, and I would have a huge problem choosing my favorite Town Mountain album.

The songs are very lengthy so you know what that means…the songs are packed full of blazing instrumentals and plenty of time to sit back and enjoy the fiddles. It begins to close with a song called “Pamlico” which is a slow and lazy song with good harmonies. This band is amazing live for one thing, to read the full review of this album click HERE.

38. Jason Eady I Travel On

So now let me re illustrate this, NUMBER 50 AND NUMBER 2 are just as good. Because this album was amazing in it’s own right.  Truthfully I enjoyed FM Country Hell as his best album overall, but this album DID have many high points on it for me. “I Lost My mind In Carolina” is a great song about life on the road, and a road warrior he is playing an amazing amount of road shows.

However one best songs I have ever heard him do was “Calaveras County” the melody and beat just grabbed my attention at first, and after I played it a few times, I loved the lyrics too. That fiddle break was also cool, it paints a really pretty picture for the listener.

A very self explanatory song is called “Always A Woman” I truly don’t have to illustrate any meaning here. “She Had to Run” was lyrically some damn fine trademark Jason Eady.A very dark and poignant song about an abuse victim finally getting free. Mr. Jason is one of those you can easily pick out of a plethora of other voices, and that makes him very unique and special. To read our full review of this album click HERE.

39. Nick Dittmeier And The Sawdusters All Damn Day

This Indiana band wowed me at Master Musician’s Festival this year, and was on my radar for months prior to that. Now, legitimately this really is their self proclaimed debut FULL album, but their previous one was long enough to be an album too. The opening song “Love Me like You Did” has a cool melody and just sounds great, it’s another song about a new girlfriend that just isn’t as good as the old one.

“I Can’t Go Home” was another vital song on this album that stood out to me, and was a good middle portion song. All of the songs here are upbeat and good to dance to, or just jam out on, or in MY case this is a good interstate driving song! The band itself is a strong unit, that has their own Honky Tonk twang, and this band brings that twang to many shows across America.

“O’ Bannon Woods” was a heavy rocking song towards the end, about making drugs. Time sure has a bad way of changing things sometimes, and I related with this one somewhat because the place I grew up is a war zone now. It just a downright shame what has happened to people in my past. You can go right HERE for our full review of this album.

40. Jason Sinkhorn Junction City, Kentucky

Don’t really care if I catch hell from my fellow media peers here about including acoustic albums on here, this album was amazing to me, as was this man’s vocals on this recording. From the very initial song “The Runaway Dorothy Gale” Mr. Jason had me at attention as a music fan. He is a great picture painter on my canvas mind with well woven tales of Wizard Of Oz references to another story..get it? BUY THIS ALBUM AND LISTEN CLOSE!

I first heard of this young man as he played for Mr. Coby Langham And The Citizen Band, and i was introduced to him further there. He is a prominent fixture in the West Virginia community of music, one that I usually keep a pretty close eye on, because you find many good albums there like this one. I had to go forward to “People Watching #42” just because the name intrigued me to delve into it, it made me giggle to hear him mention Milwaukee…I was raised there.

There are many good songwriting hooks and lines in these nine songs, delivered by a very unique voice and an even more unique style. “Flat Rate Heartbreak Blues” had me related as well, as I too work in a factory (ehh it’s a living).. I think all of us are Hank Williams fans. Thumping like a barn dance on Friday night was a VERY COOL line, I thought this song was the best of the album.

41. Hot Rize 40th Anniversary Bash

I LOVE Bluegrass, I LOVE LIVE Bluegrass albums, and I LOVE bluegrass Legends. Well on this album you have them all, I mean WHO DOESN’T love 40 years of Hot Rize? All of y’all who do not are worng. One of the interesting points of the album is the band introduction where they introduce Mr. Jerry Douglass, and they play Colleen Malone from the 1990 album called take It home.

On this album, you will learn some Bluegrass history as they invite Mr. Sam Bush out who previously played with Emmylou Harris to come out and play a Peter Kuykendall song called “Out On The Ocean”. Mr. Peter was the creator of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, I have studied a LOT about him.  “Just Like You” features those well known Hot Rize harmonies, and note for note string discipline.

“Walk The Way The Wind Blows” was another high point on this album, as they played their 1986 hit song, that was also recorded by Miss Kathy Mattea. Toward the end the band appreciated the audiance for supporting live music, and the festivals. I STRESS supporting the festivals, because it’s a good resource to see multiple bands in one place.

42. John Howie Jr. Not Tonight

I love good old fashioned Honky Tonk albums like this one, I like steel guitar infused ballads full of feeling, and this album is bursting full of both of them. “Back When I Cared” is a well written song full of honesty that anyone can relate to. I am so excited to somehow find a way to see him play these songs live.

This man’s vocals are SO distinct and different it makes his album interesting to enjoy, and with songs like “When I’m Not There With You” that add some twang, you have a KILLER ALBUM THAT YOU MUST BUY. If you do not add this album to your collection you are WRONG!

There is so much feeling and soul in the song “Underground” that I had to stop at that track and listen about twenty times. This man poured out his heart to me, and I understood what he was going through as a man, and as a person.

43. Grassfed Moovin’ Down The Road

This Kansas City Bluegrass band was brought to my attention a few years ago, but I didn’t get to see them in full action until Muddy Roots this year. Not only did I enjoy their live set but their lightning fast dobro picking and picking overall just moved this album into my TOP 50. “Dear Lyla” was a good song off this album that I really liked.

“Gas Tank” was an awesome song that reminded me of a Split Lip Rayfield type jam, filled full of acoustic guitar solos and KILLER dobro work, the lyrics are pretty easy to understand and enjoy. You could EASILY dance and jam to these guys, and I can easily ascertain that they JUST HAVE FUN together. They understand one another musically, and they aren’t trying to be anything they are not.

“Little Maggie” is an old traditional cover tune, that they did a good job on, the album closes with a song called “Yard Work” which was nice to end the album with a toe tapper. If you like string bands filled with all kinds of harmonic solos you will LOVE this album.

44. Jesse Daniel Jesse Daniel

This young man is about to embark out on a short run with Country music Legend Mr. billy Don Burns, and by God he deserves it! ‘Big Fish” is a big song about small fish. It’s about paying dues and fake ass people, and it has a TON of good lines and hooks. This young man understands how to pay his dues and beat the road to get what he wants in life.

“Soft Spot (For The Hard Stuff)” was another good song on the album, and a good reassurance to me on the question “who’s gonna fill their shoes”, as this young man brings forth an mature older Honky Tonk sound while maintaining a younger approach to that sound.

“Killing Time Til Time Kills Me” was avery inventive title, and this song itself was filled with some damn fine Honky Tonk twang and shuffle. I liked the way this album was produced and the damaged goods vibe the songs gave off. Trust me, this young man will be garnering more attention form the underground community next year!

45. Dillon Carmichael Hell On An Angel

The song “Natural Disaster” on this album is beyond amazing, and at first I thought it was Mr. Jamey Johnson singing. This young man has been on the Opry, and upholds Traditional Country Music standards with songs like “Country Women” which is a total retro throwback type song.

Now if you have spotify I can tell you some interesting information about this album. There is commentary about each song from Mr. Dillon himself, on a seperate album you can listen to. With songs like “Dancing Away With My Heart” this album is even better with the suppliment commentary, where you can get an even better perspective on the songs and the artist.

” Hard On A Hangover” was another great old timey throwback song with that truly great melody and divorce lyrics, this song sounds like it was released in the late 80’s. Not that it’s a bad thing!  Hey when you listen to a Country song you loose your truck…well…yeah. To read our full review on this album click HERE.

46. Felix Thursday End Time Jubilee

OK Folks you can click up there to buy this one digitally BUT if you want a REAL COPY contact Mr. Aaron “Dogbite” Harris over at Ruckus In the Records label. This man is an old journalist friend of mine from the Myspace era, and he released a DAMN FINE album here. He enlisted the help of some more of my old friends like Miss Lucy B. Cochran on fiddle and my buddy Mr. James Hunnicutt.

“Remington” is an anti politically correct song about a lost time when we went to school with firearms in gun racks in our trucks. We didn’t have nutballs shooting up schools because we had respect for firearms, and knives. Another GREAT song on this album was “It’s Hard Stayin Sober In Heppner”, I love his vocal delivery on that song. He’s got a very convincing voice and you can tell he sings with conviction.

The songs on this album are shorter than most of the others, but by God they were so well done that I couldn’t pass up acknowledging this album for what it was worth. I promise you it will stay in my constant rotation for all times, and I strongly suggest you buy this album.

47. The Travelin McCourys The Travelin McCourys

This huge massive article has a lot of Bluegrass album on it I know, but it has been a really good year for Bluegrass. Bluegrass Legend Mr. Del McCoury and his crew has made this awesome side project going called The Travelin McCourys. Early this year we heard their first album self titled.  It kicks off with the toe tapping song called “Let Her Go” , about lost love.  This album has the song Mr. Waylon cut for Mr. Steve young called “Lonesome Onry And Mean”, it was interesting to hear as a Bluegrass tune.

Mr. Del’s iconic vocals assist the song “I live On A Battlefield” ring out as a focal point song on this album, and I loved the banjo work on “The Shaker”.  Like every one of the Bluegrass albums on this list, I chose this one because of the wonderful instrumental work.

“Days I Wish I Had” is a traditional sounding song with a steady melody, with good lyrics that make it a inspiring Bluegrass song, overall this whole album was a feel good Bluegrass album.

48. Trampled By Turtles Life Is Good On the Open Road

Trampled By Turtles is one of my favorite”Americana” bands…if you will…I just consider them good music and I don’t really fit anybody into genres. Not really Bluegrass but they do have a LOT of Bluegrass influence I found on songs like “Kelly’s Bar” which was a fast paced beginning to one of their best albums out yet.

These twelve songs here were enjoyable each in their own right, and I cannot wait to see them live once again. “Right Back Where We Started” is one of my favorite songs they have right now, as well as the title track ‘Life Is Good On The Open Road”. It’s been good to hear a new album from this band for the first time since 2014.

49. Cody Barnett

This album is one of my “last but not least” type deals, I mean if you want some DAMN FINE songwriting just go listen to ‘Cherokee Blood” it has a bunch of GREAT lines in the song. At first I wasn’t sure if I would have a short album of only seven songs on my list, but after I heard ‘Blood Moon” I found the importance of including this album.

This young man needs to be recognized and could be paired up with so many on this list, the possibilities were endless. His style and his songs are eloquently represented by his vocals on songs like “Back In Birmingham”. This song was fantastic and descriptive as hell…just what I like. He is from the Oklahoma music community, and is a nice local representation of his respected area out there.

This album closed with two fantastic songs one called “Mockingbird” which I was wondering if it was a cover of the James Hand song of the same name, but no it wasn’t. This was it’s own rocking song in his style that shows his more rock roots. The last song was a fast paced song laced with with fine steel called “Evil Woman”.

50. Bri Bagwell In my Defense

I knew this album would be on my TOP 50 list the second I got it in my hands. I LOVE the Red Dirt and Texas community, I love a good Country gallop, and I love female singers. You juxtapose all of those together and you have this album. It was produced terrifically and I love the band she has. “Asphalt And Concrete” was a good song about her being from the West Coast.

A slower song called “Cheat On Me” had a slower flow with tons of feeling, but accompanied the other songs on the album pretty well. “I Can’t Be Lonely ” was another good song with lots of twang, and her sultry and sassy vocals were captured really well on this song.

Another good song on this album was “Feel Like Home”, and it closes with a few other good ones. This album is by all means her best offering yet, and I see great things for her in the future. I have yet to see her play live yet, and I have to drive to Texas to see her play, I will.