NewsComments Off on Railbird Festival Announces Their 2020 Lineup
By Joshua Wallace
Railbird Festival has announced their 2020 lineup and it’s a good one. This event takes place at The Grounds at Keeneland in Lexington, KY from August 22nd – 23rd. Tickets for this stacked lineup go on sale Friday at 10AM EST.
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Aubrie Sellers – Far From Home
By Joshua Wallace
Aubrie Sellers is back with the follow up to her 2016 debut record called New City Blues. This new record is called Far From Home and it amps up the garage country style Aubrie introduced in her debut. It goes into more space rock and psychedelic country and fleshes out the style she started with on her debut. I particularly dig this brand of country music and this album has quickly become my favorite of 2020 so far.
The album kicks off with the title track which is a spacey ballad about how we wander aimlessly into loneliness. The melody is the kind of thing you’d normally hear with a fiddle and smooth guitar playing in the background, or in some cases A Capella. However, I really dig the spacey guitar sounds as it creates a feeling of loneliness that echoes the sentiment of the track. Up next is “My Love Will Not Change” which features Steve Earle on a banger of a track that would see lots of radio play if things were right in the current landscape of country music. It has a groovy fuzzy guitar riff and a foot stomping back beat. Steve Earle is a nice feature on the track as trades lines with Aubrie on the second verse. Definitely check this one out when you get a chance.
One of my personal favorites on this album is the track “Glad”. It leans into the fuzzy country rock vibe with heavily distorted guitars and a thick groove that screams cool. It’s a catchy revenge song where Aubrie is glad that an ex broke her heart. The thick riffs and groovy back-beat make for a really good dance-able track with this one. “Troublemaker” leans further into the fuzzy space rock country sound Aubrie is creating on this record. This track has my favorite riff on the album and that creates a fun vibe especially when paired with over cuts like “Glad”. I particularly dig the psychedelic solo work on here and I love the transition back into the next verse. I can’t wait to hear that live. Finally, “Under The Sun” is a great smooth ballad in the later half of the album. It’s still somewhat spacey guitar rock that leans into pop rock and country rock territory. This is another song that should get lots of radio play from this album. I particularly dig the hook in this one and it still has the smooth groovy vibe you get in the rest of the album.
Aubrie Sellers has released a sophomore LP that improves every bit on her debut release which was already a great album in itself. Here, she’s further defining her brand of “garage country” by leaning further into the elements of that sound that made her first album special. This has me looking forward to seeing her band live. I think I will get that chance very soon as she just announced a co-headlining tour with Lillie Mae which kicks off very soon. You can find more info on that at her website. Far From Home is available everywhere as of Friday February 7th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : Far From Home, My Love Will Not Change, Drag You Down, Glad, Troublemaker, Under The Sun, One Town’s Trash
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – The Cadillac Three – Country Fuzz
By Joshua Wallace
I have been a fan of The Cadillac Three for a while. They bring a sound similar to ZZ Top but with modern aesthetics which bring that sound forward. They always have a mix of rocking numbers and smoother songs meant for country radio. This album is much heavier on the fuzzy rock tunes as the title implies. For those who are not familiar, The Cadillac Three have been around since 2011 and are Jaren Johnston on lead vocals and guitar, Kelby Ray on bass guitar, steel guitar and vocals, Neil Mason on drums and vocals. Let’s check out some of the good stuff from this record.
The album kicks off with “Bar Round Here” which is a fun rockin number about your local watering hole. I dig the electric slide guitar solo on this one. You know you’re in for a fun record. The track “Slow Rollin’” is a slower track that brings the heavy fuzz rock sound you would expect from this record. I dig the groove this track has and it’s sure to be a fan favorite live. “Crackin’ Cold Ones With The Boys” has some fun lyrical turns with the laundry list style of songwriting. It has an infectious hook and some groovy beats that will pull you in much like the rest of this album does.
On a different note, the ballad “Raise Hell” is a song about how hard it is to get to Heaven if you want to raise hell. This track is a ballad, but it keeps the heavy fuzzy rock aesthetics that run through the album and I dig that in a song like this. “Jack Daniel’s Heart” is a fun spin on the typical Jack Daniels song. It asks the question who broke Jack Daniel’s heart to make him want to make a whiskey so strong. The dobro on this track is groovy and infectious. It will have anyone dancing once this one comes on. Finally, we have the heaviest song on the album “Whiskey and Smoke”. The riffs are heavy and thick with this one and it goes more into stoner rock territory than southern rock. I dig it as there is nothing else really like this in The Cadillac Three catalog.
This is the best record from The Cadillac Three in my opinion and leans stronger on the southern rock heavy sound that makes them unique from other bands on country radio. If you have slept on this band for any reason, Country Fuzz is a good place to give them another look. This album was out everywhere as of Friday February 7th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : Bar Round Here, Slow Rollin’, Crackin’ Cold Ones With The Boys, Labels, Raise Hell, Jack Daniel’s Heart, Whiskey and Smoke
The Cadillac Three – Country Fuzz (2020)
Bar Round Here
Hard Out Here For A Country Boy feat. Chris Janson, Travis Tritt
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Brent Cobb – No Place Left To Leave
By Joshua Wallace
No Place Left To Leave is an important album for Brent Cobb. It’s also one that the majority of his fan base probably hasn’t heard yet so this is a good re-release. Brent Cobb released this record in 2006 before he truly hit the national scene with his 2016 album Shine On A Rainy Day. This record was produced with his cousin Dave Cobb who he had just met at the time. They made the record with Shooter Jenning’s then backing band including Jason “Rowdy” Cope on guitar and Chris Powell on drums. This album features his first two cuts that were recorded by another artist also. These songs are “Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd” which was recorded by Whiskey Myers and “Hold Me Closely” which was recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys. He has since gone on to have songs cut by the likes of Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, The Steel Woods and Lee Anne Womack. This is actually my first time hearing his first album so let’s dig into some of these songs.
The album kicks off with “Richland”. It’s an upbeat shuffle about the place where Cobb comes from called Elleville, GA. This is a small town in southwest Georgia and this song is about the life you’d find there. I really dig the harmonica work throughout the track and you can tell this will be a fun record right from the start. “Lavenders and Loving Gestures” is another highlight and it’s a wonderful break-up ballad. I really dig the pedal steel guitar throughout the track. This version of “Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd” plays more like a demo tape than the version Whiskey Myers recorded on their debut album. It’s still a great rocking tune though that plays into the southern rock sound you would find on Cobb’s Providence Canyon album.
“Black Bottle” continues the southern rock sound and it’s a tune that reminds me of some of the 90’s era grunge bands but more acoustic leaning than that era of rock could be. “Dirt Road In Georgia” is probably my favorite track on this record. This song really captures small town Georgia life better than most others who have tried. I dig the smoothness of this track and I can’t wait to hear a live version of this in the future. “Black Creek” is another smooth ballad on the album that is often a fan favorite. There is some great acoustic picking and it is a great example of the songwriting you would find on his bigger releases.
Even back in 2006, Brent Cobb was showing some promising talent. This re-release of his first album shows me that he will be around for a while whether he is doing a singer songwriter style or a low key southern rock style. You can see Brent Cobb on his acoustic tour if your date isn’t already sold out. I highly recommend seeing him live whether it is acoustic or with his band. You can find out where he will be here. The reissue of No Place Left To Leave is out everywhere as of Friday, February 07th, 2020.
Note: The Charlottesville, VA venue has since been upgraded to The Jefferson
Favorite Tracks : Richland, Lavenders and Loving Gestures, Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd, Black Bottle, Dirt Road In Georgia, Black Creek
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Possessed By Paul James – As We Go Wandering
By Joshua Wallace
I have been a fan of Possessed By Paul James for over ten years now. For those who are not familiar with his music, he is a multi instrumentalist who is a one man band live, but his later records are recorded with a full band. He plays guitar, fiddle and banjo and is an incredible vocalist. His live shows are truly an experience because you are focused on him as a performer and it draws you in. This album is a follow up to his 2013 release There Will Be Nights When I Am Lonely. Even though there are seven years apart from these releases, nothing has changed when it comes to the full band sound of Possessed By Paul James’s recorded output. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite tracks.
I particularly enjoy “In The Dark Of Morning”. It’s an upbeat acoustic tune with some really good fiddle work. It’s a song about running back home and particularly enjoy the line about “We’re running home to lovers or we’re running from our graves” which indicates the dual nature of running back home. You can either be going for good or bad reasons. Another standout is “I’m So Good At Absolutely Nothing”. It’s an awesome banjo tune that’s about accepting failure and facing it head on. “Dance With Me Tonight” starts off with some killer fiddle work on a simple tune about a man approaching a woman and asking her to dance and be with him as he thinks they were once lovers. The fiddle playing on this tune is great to dance to and I love that about this track.
Possessed By Paul James never disappoints with his albums, however his live show is where you will be blown away as he performs these songs solo with enough power and conviction to match anyone out there. You can often find PBPJ live at the Muddy Roots music festivals. If you are nowhere near those festivals, you can find his touring schedule at his website. He can’t always tour everywhere though as he is a special education teacher as well as an amazing musician. As We Go Wandering is out everywhere as of January 31st, 2020.
Favorite Tracks :Come Back In My Mind, In The Dark Of Morning, I’m So Good At Absolutely Nothing, When It Breaks, Dance With Me Tonight, I Didn’t Know You When
Possessed By Paul James – As We Go Wandering (2020)
NewsComments Off on Top 10 2020 Country Music Releases To Look Forward To
By Joshua Wallace
Feb. 7: Aubrie Sellers, Far From Home
We are big fans of Aubrie Sellers here at Gary Hayes Country. Her first album New City Blues introduced us to her low fi grungy brand of garage country and we’re looking forward to hearing more. I particularly dig “Drag You Down” from the pre-release singles.
Feb. 15: Billy Don Burns, The Country Blues
There is a new Billy Don Burns album out this month. While there is no pre-release single out yet, you can expect this album to be as real as it gets. A new Billy Don Burns album is always on our most anticipated albums list. This album includes some updated versions of some classic Billy Don Burns tunes such as “Runnin’ Drugs Out Of Mexico”, “Wild Dogs” and “Stranger”. “Wild Dogs” was recently covered by Colter Wall and “Stranger” was recently covered by Cody Jinks. Since there is no pre-release track from this ablum, I will include a link to hear the original version of “Runnin’ Drugs Out Of Mexico” from the Heroes, Friends and Other Troubled Souls album.
March 6: Brandy Clark, Your Life Is a Record
Brandy Clark is quickly becoming one of the top female country artists you should know. Her new album Your Life Is A Record promises more somber moments as indicated in pre-release tracks “Who You Thought I Was” and “I’ll Be The Sad Song”.
March 6: The Panhandlers, The Panhandlers
I think most of our Texas Red Dirt fans probably already have March 6th circled on their calendars. That is the release date for the new super-group The Panhandler’s debut self titled album. If you don’t know, this group features the likes of William Clark Green, Cleto Cordero, Josh Abbott and John Baumann. Check out the track “No Handle” for a preview.
March 27: Lilly Hiatt, Walking Proof
Lilly Hiatt’s 2017 album Trinity Lane was one of our favorites that year and her new record Walking Proof is probably going to continue that streak. Pre-release tracks “P-Town” and “Brightest Star” showcase a rock forward country sound.
April 3: Ashley McBryde, Never Will
This is a big one. If “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” did big things for Ashley McBryde, “One Night Standards” and the trilogy of songs that it begins has been even bigger. I’m particularly a fan of the rocking murder ballad “Martha Divine” which is the middle part of that trilogy. This is one of our most anticipated albums of 2020.
April 3: Caleb Caudle, Better Hurry Up
Caleb Caudle is back with a follow up to his 2018 album Crushed Coins. This record was recorded with a bit of the soul of Johnny Cash at the Cash Cabin. The title track is out now and I’m really digging the sound he’s taking on with this one.
April 10: John Anderson, Years
One of the biggest surprises early this year was a new single from John Anderson. Years is an entirely new release produced by mega producer Dan Auerbach. Auerbach was already responsible for one of our favorite 2020 albums with Marcus King’s El Dorado. Some are comparing this record to Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums and it could be a similar career revival for John Anderson. Check out the title track everywhere now.
April 18: Whey Jennings, Gypsy Soul
Whey Jennings has a new record coming out this year called Gypsy Soul. You might have heard of Waylon’s grandson as a touring act performing mostly cover songs and a few originals. As far as I can tell, this is his first recorded LP and I’m looking forward to hearing the entire record. The title track “Gypsy Soul” is out now and you can get a copy of the album at it’s album release show on April 18th at The Nashville Palace which is one of Whey’s favorite venues to play.
April 24: Whitney Rose, We Still Go To Rodeos
Finally, Whitney Rose has announced the follow up to her amazing 2017 album Rule 62. This one is titled We Still Go To Rodeos and you can hear the single “Believe Me, Angela” now. It’s not a typical cheating song in that it’s more about compassion than revenge. This has me looking forward to hearing the entire album in April.
NewsComments Off on The Inaugural Born And Raised Festival Has A Killer Lineup
By Joshua Wallace
The inaugural Born And Raised Festival has announced it’s lineup and this one might be worthy of a road trip. This festival is being held in Pryor, OK at the Rocklahoma Festival site.
Willie Nelson & Family and Hank Williams Jr. will headline a lineup featuring a lot of our favorite country singers. We have Jamey Johnson, Whiskey Myers, Blackberry Smoke, Margo Price, Shooter Jennings, Paul Cauthen, Mike and The Moonpies, Zach Bryan, Kendell Marvell, Elizabeth Cook and more on this amazing lineup. I hope they have minimal overlap between sets so folks can get a chance to see everyone they want to here. You can find out everything you need on the festival’s website. Tickets start at $89.50 and go on sale February 14th, 2020 at 10 am CT. This one is sure to sell out with that lineup. We will have more information here at Gary Hayes Country as it becomes available.
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Hayden Haddock – Red Dirt Texas
By Joshua Wallace
I first came across Hayden Haddock when I heard his track “Honky Tonk On” as a pre-release single for this record. As a first impression, it was a really good track. It reminded me of a cross between Aaron Watson and Randall King. Hayden Haddock certainly represents the red dirt sound perfectly. This is actually his second album that I can find. His first release was First Rodeo which was a seven song effort from 2018. Red Dirt Texas is the name of his new release and it’s a better effort in every way. There is better production across all ten tracks here and a more confident sound. Let’s dig into a few of my favorite tracks.
The album kicks off with the title track, “Red Dirt Texas”. It’s a great ode to Texas red dirt country and it’s a fun way to kick off the album that lets you know what you’re in for over the next thirty minutes. “Still Dancin’” is a great country love song and Hayden Haddock gets to showcase his smooth vocals on this track that would fit in nicely on any Aaron Watson record. “Honky Tonk On” is a good Texas honky tonk track. You can’t really go wrong with this one and it’s a perfect introduction to Haddock’s sound. Finally, “Take You Home” is a song about taking the right one home to mamma, but in a rocking country number. I dig the guitar work on this track and I’m sure it’s a live favorite.
Red Dirt Texas makes a great first impression to the music of Hayden Haddock. If you’ve never heard his music, I highly recommend giving it a spin. If you’re out in Texas, Hayden Haddock is playing live all over that state so there are plenty of chances to check him out live there. If you’re not in Texas, check out this new release and let us know what you think on social media. Red Dirt Texas is out everywhere as of Friday January 31st, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : Red Dirt Texas, Still Dancin’, Honky Tonk On, Whiskey Did You Miss Me, Take You Home
NewsComments Off on Live Review – Mike and The Moonpies In Macon, GA
By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace
I was able to see Mike and The Moonpies live in Macon, GA on January 25th, 2020 which was a Saturday night. This concert was at The Creek Stage at The Rookery which is a restaurant in Macon. They convert a dining room into a concert hall when they have concerts scheduled. It’s a very intimate venue and a very unique setting. I hope to go back to The Rookery sometime soon to eat as it looked like a very good restaurant. I arrived at 09:30pm on a Saturday night and it was packed. You can’t say that about many places these days. This show was actually billed as the after party for a show that was happening at the Hargray Capitol Theater which is down the street from The Rookery. That show was Robert Earl Keen with Aubrie Sellers as the opening act. I was only here for Mike and The Moonpies though and they got things kicked off at 10:45 pm with no opener. The small room filled out pretty quickly. The Moonpies put on a great show as they always do. This band gets better every time I see them.
The band kicked things off with “Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em” and “Damn Strait”, the latter of which is my favorite track off The Hard Way album and is always fun to hear live. When the band got into “Getting High At Home” and “Steak Night At The Prairie Rose”, you could tell this would be a fun crowd as they were singing along with both songs. In fact, this crowd favored pretty much everything from Steak Night At The Prairie Rose and the new album Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold. The band still played through the older stuff and I especially loved hearing “El Camino” from their The Real Country album. We got a great Merle Haggard cover with “Working Man Blues” before the band got into material from the new record.
I was happy to hear “Young In Love” and “Miss Fortune” live this time. I feel like those are two underrated tracks from the stellar new album. “You Look Good In Neon” was another hit with the crowd as it turned into a sing-a-long. This was amazing as the last time I had heard this song live, the record was barely out and no one knew the track. You could say the same for “Danger” too which is another mega popular track from the new album. “Beaches Of Biloxi” is also always a popular live track with bass player Omar’s seemingly random crowd participation bits. The band then got to the title tracks of both 2012’s The Hard Way and the new album Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold. The latter of which was another sing-along with the crowd. From there, they did “London Homesick Blues” and their cover of Fastball’s “The Way”. I used to love that song back in the 90’s and until Mike and The Moonpies did it, I had not heard it in a long time.
The band did a great version of “Bottled Beer” off their first album which concluded with Omar’s tease of the famous bass line from Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. The fans that know that song always pop for it. They wrapped up the regular set with “We’re Gone” and “The Real Country”. The band played a great closing jam before coming back to the stage for covers of Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty” and Rusty Weir’s “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance”.
I highly recommend seeing this band live in smaller venues while you have the chance. I don’t think we will have that opportunity for very long. This band is a very tight live band and they have such a charismatic stage presence that not many have right now. Omar Oyoque is one of the best bass players you can find in a country band and is a highlight of every show. Mike and The Moonpies are currently playing in Key West, FL as part of Mile 0 Fest. If you’re in the southeast, your next chance to see them will be at the Standard Deluxe in Waverly, AL for the 20th Anniversary of the “Old 280” Boogie on April 18th. You can find details of that event here and check out the band’s website for more tour information and where you can find out when they are coming near you.
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Eleven Hundred Springs – Here ‘Tis
By Joshua Wallace
This new record Here ‘Tis is actually my first experience listening to Eleven Hundred Springs. This band has been around the Texas scene since 1998 and has released more than 10 records at this point. Eleven Hundred Springs come across as a true country band. Everything you’d ask for is here from fiddle to pedal steel and some really good song writing from Matt Hillyer and company.
I dig the acoustic guitar lick that opens up “Miles Apart”. From there, the track settles into a groove that is funky and smooth at the same time. I dig the solo work on this track as well. Moving on, “Let’s Move Out To The Country” picks up the pace a bit on a track that has the classic theme of a country boy looking to get out of the city. I love the dueling fiddle and pedal steel solo on this one. Some good stuff here.
Probably my favorite track on this record is “The Song You’ll Never Hear”. It’s about those alone and quiet moments and the song we only have for us. This isn’t a topic you see often in music and I’m liking it here. Finally, “Let Me Be Your Man” is a great up tempo track that starts off with some good fiddling and never lets up. As with the rest of the record, the solo work here is phenomenal and you get solos from electric guitar, pedal steel guitar and fiddle on this one.
Eleven Hundred Springs is a long running country band out of Texas that is known for quality country music and this album does not disappoint. The musicianship is stellar throughout this record as is the songwriting. I don’t know if this band ever tours the southeast, but I would love to see them live at some point. In the meantime, you should give Here ‘Tis and the rest of their discography a chance if you’re like me and are just getting into this band. Here ‘Tis is out everywhere you can find good music as of Friday January 17th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks :Miles Apart, Let’s Move Out To The Country, The Song You’ll Never Hear, Let Me Be Your Man
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Marcus King – El Dorado
By Joshua Wallace
El Dorado is the debut solo record from Marcus King. He has previously issued albums under The Marcus King Band. I was a big fan of his 2018 record Carolina Confessions. This new album is looking to be his break out hit as he has enlisted mega producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. His influence is clear throughout this record and El Dorado looks to be the first great release of 2020.
The first listen we got of this new record was a song called “The Well” This is one of the tracks where you hear The Black Keys influence the most. The song features a swinging foot stomping beat and fuzzy heavy guitar riffs. It’s a great track to introduce new fans to Marcus King as it showcases his guitar playing and singing voice. The opening riff permeates through the entire track and it closes out with a killer solo that fades at the end, leaving you wanting to hear this song live. Another favorite is “Beautiful Stranger”. This song is a slow soulful jam that really highlights Marcus King’s beautiful vocals. It has a bit of a country blues flare with the guitar solo. It shows a side of Marcus King that you don’t get with “The Well”.
I really dig the rocking track “Turn It Up”. Marcus turns it up on this funky rocking blues track for sure. It’s a favorite on the album and is guaranteed to be a hit live. “Too Much Whiskey” is a killer country blues number. This track would fit in with any honky tonk dive. He mentions both “Whiskey River” and Shotgun Willie on a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a classic Willie record. I really dig the harmonica solo towards the end as well. “No Pain” closes out this album with a super smooth bass heavy ballad. This track has a great groove and closes out the album with a smooth dueling electric and acoustic guitar solo.
This album is a great starting point for new fans of Marcus King. It’s a fresh take on his amazing blues sound that takes it from smooth slow jams to heavier rocking blues numbers. Dan Auerbach’s influence is all over this album and it has a super smooth sound. I hope I’m able to catch Marcus King live at some point during this year and if I do, I will have a full report of that experience. In the meantime, you can find all upcoming tour dates on Marcus King’s website. El Dorado is out everywhere January 17th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : The Well, Beautiful Stranger, Break, Say You Will, Turn It Up, Too Much Whiskey, No Pain
NewsComments Off on Live Review – Tyler Childers with Liz Cooper and The Stampede in Atlanta, GA (Night 1)
By Joshua Wallace Photography By Joshua Wallace
Earlier this month, I got the chance to check out Tyler Childers on his Country Squire Run. This show was the first of two nights in Atlanta, GA on December 21st, 2019. He initially sold out this date during pre-sale and they added a second date on Sunday December 22nd. I was only able to get a ticket for Saturday night, but I know both nights were amazing sold out and packed shows. This is kind of crazy to me because the last time I saw Tyler Childers was on March 28, 2018 at a small venue in Florida that only held 300 people. This show was a huge upgrade from that at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA which holds around 2600 and was packed. The opener for this two night run in Atlanta was Liz Cooper and The Stampede and I will start with their set.
I honestly did not know what to expect with Liz Cooper and The Stampede. I had listened to some of their music on Spotify and they appeared to be a psychedelic folk rock trio. On this evening, they leaned more to psychedelic rock. From what I have been told, they played new material so we didn’t get any songs you would be familiar with such as “Mountain Man”. Most of the songs were heavier rock tunes that went into psychedelic jam territory. I did enjoy their groovy bass player and you don’t always find bass players with the skill this guy has. I somewhat enjoyed their set, though I don’t know if their choice of material matched the expectations of a crowd awaiting a country singer like Tyler Childers. I look forward to the chance to see them live again in the future.
Tyler Childers came out and got right into it with “Honky Tonk Flame” from his amazing 2017 album Purgatory. This lead to other tracks off that album like “Universal Sound” and “Born Again”. The first cover song of the night came in the form of a great tune called “Tulsa Turnaround”. This was a Kenny Rogers cover and I loved hearing Tyler Childers and The Food Stamps do it. Up next we got the title track off his newest album called “Country Squire”. This is one of my favorite tracks off the new record and I was glad to hear it live. In fact, this song started a run through the entire Country Squire record which was awesome to get live. A real highlight was the live version of “House Fire”. Tyler picked up an electric guitar for this song and kicked it off with a long instrumental called “Reuben’s Train”. From there he did an awesome version of “House Fire” that is actually much better than the recorded version and is a song you must hear live. I also know he doesn’t do “Matthew” as part of his sets every time and this felt special to get the entire album here.
“Matthew” also began the acoustic run for this show which included “Nose To The Grindstone”, a rare “Banded Clovis” and “Follow You To Virgie”. It was amazing hearing the sold out crowd singing along to older tracks like “Follow You To Virgie”. I would say the crowd was just as much a part of this show as the band was. Following this acoustic run, we got a second cover of the night with the awesome Bobby Charles song “Tennessee Blues”. This is a wonderful cover that not many in the crowd will be familiar with. I’m happy to see Tyler covering these obscure classic tunes.
After that cover, we got a run of 3 big songs from the Purgatory album. This included “Feathered Indians”, my favorite from the record “Whitehouse Road” and “I Swear (To God)”. Following that song there was a brief break before the encore. I say this is brief because while the lights went down, the band never left the stage. The crowd knew what was happening though and gave Tyler one of the loudest reactions of the night. He finished the evening with a Charlie Daniels cover that he often does called “Trudy”.
If you get a chance to see Tyler Childers, I highly recommend it. His stock is only rising and I fully believe his next headlining US tour will be in amphitheaters and arenas instead of large theaters. In fact, he’s already doing a run of opening dates next year with Sturgill Simpson and this tour is going through and has already sold out some of the nation’s biggest arenas. Tyler still has one show left in 2019 on New Years Eve in Pikeville, KY with Todd Snider and Darrell Scott opening. If you can’t get a ticket to that one, get a ticket to one of his shows opening for Sturgill Simpson. You can find all of his upcoming dates at his website. While you’re there, check out his new record titled Country Squire which features in many best of 2019 lists including my own. This was my final show for 2019 and my final show of this decade. Look for more live show and festival reviews in 2020.
NewsComments Off on Live Review – Colter Wall with Wade Sapp in Macon, GA
By Joshua Wallace Photography By Joshua Wallace
Colter Wall and The Scary Prairie Boys
This past Thursday night (12/05/19), I was lucky enough to see Colter Wall at the Hargray Capitol Theater in Macon, GA. Over the years, this has become one of my favorite venues and I’ve seen acts like Sturgill Simpson, Whitey Morgan and now Colter Wall there. This was my first time seeing Colter Wall since seeing him at Jack Rabbits in Jacksonville, FL back in 2017. That place holds about 300 people. I would say he came close to doubling that number tonight. The floor was packed out fairly well by the time the opening act started and the balcony looked about half full. The opening act this evening was Wade Sapp who is a country singer out of Atlanta, GA.
Wade Sapp hit the stage with a full band which was a surprise as I was expecting an acoustic opening act. His full band featured a lead guitar player, bass player and drummer. It was a simple set-up, but it worked. His guitar player Ryan Tolson was awesome and a big compliment to the overall sound. The rest of the band featured Paul Wagner on drums and Adam Higgins on bass. Going into this set, the only song that is truly out there is “Keep On Truckin’” which was released as an “OurVinyl Sessions” live version. Wade played a full eleven song opening set. I’m not sure if this set was the entirety of his debut record coming out next year or not, but it felt like it. Of those eleven songs, only one was a cover. He closed the night with a killer version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Lungs”. Other highlights include originals such as “SOB”, “Beer Drinking Daddy”, “Smoke” and “Bleeding Blue”. If you go to one of the shows remaining on this run, be sure to go early and see Wade Sapp.
Colter Wall solo acoustic
After Wade Sapp, there was a short wait before Colter Wall took the stage. He started the show off with a few acoustic songs before the full band joined him. The first song of the night was an old Bob Dylan cover called “Diamond Joe”. He followed that up with one of my favorites from the EP Imaginary Appalacia called “Caroline”. The great thing about this is the crowd got into it and did some foot stomps in time with the song. You could tell this was going to be a fun night.
I was happy that he kept the acoustic intro to “Thirteen Silver Dollars” as that was one of my favorite parts of his set with the Speedy Creek Band. From there he did my favorite of the two songs he released on a 7” record earlier this year called “Happy Reunion” by singer/songwriter and cowboy poet Mike Beck. He also did an extended version of “Motorcycle” with an extra verse written by Blake Berglund. From there he got to the first of several newer songs called “Western Swing and Waltzes”. This was a great track and I can’t wait to hear a recorded version on the next album. I loved the cover he did of Bob Wills’s “Big Balls In Cowtown”. Later on in the set he also did a cover of my Marty Robbins song off the album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs called “Big Iron”. I loved hearing this one live and his band did it justice.
Another new track in this set was a song called “Have You Met My Friend” about Sam Colt. From there he got to one of my personal favorites from his self titled LP called “You Look To Yours”. At this point he introduced the band which consists of pedal steel, dobro and mandolin player Patrick Lyons, harmonica player Jake Groves, drummer Aaron Goodrich, and bass player Jason Simpson. I must say this band fully compliments the sound Colter Wall is creating with a sound that can go from upbeat country to western swing to western folk. Following the band introductions they did my favorite track on the “Songs Of The Plains” record called “Thinkin’ On A Woman” which was the second trucking song of the night. From there he did a cover of the Stan Jones western classic called “Cowpoke”. I love his version of this song and Colter just has a way with these old western tunes that just comes natural. He also has an amazing yodel that really gets to shine with this performance.
There was also a great version of one of my favorite Townes Van Zandt songs in “White Freightliner Blues”. This was followed up by “Plain To See Plainsman” and another obscure cover with Ian Tyson’s “The Coyote and The Cowboy”. Colter closed out the regular set with possibly his biggest mainstream hit in “Sleepin’ On The Blacktop”. The crowd wasn’t ready to be done though and we got an encore with another new song called “High and Mighty”. These new songs sound great with the Scary Prairie Boys and I can’t wait to hear them on a record.
This was my first experience with Colter Wall’s new band The Scary Prairie Boys. It feels like a more versatile set-up than the roots based sound of his original Speedy Creek Band. This band also fits the current direction of Colter Wall’s sound which is including more elements of western music including western swing and folk. Colter Wall and Wade Sapp still have a few nights left in this December run through the southeast. You can find all remaining dates at the band’s website. You can also keep up with Wade Sapp at his website. I highly recommend checking them out and if you do go to a show, come early for an amazing opening set from Wade Sapp.
NewsComments Off on Live Review – Atlanta, GA’s ATLive welcomes Eric Church, Luke Combs and more
By Joshua Wallace Photography By Joshua Wallace
This past Sunday November 17th, 2019, I had the opportunity to see Eric Church, Luke Combs, Brothers Osborne and Caylee Hammack live at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. This was the second night of the ATLive concert series promoted in Atlanta by Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s AMB Sports and Entertainment. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, this night was a sell out with 52,414 fans. This was one of the biggest crowds I have ever been a part of for a music concert and it was an amazing night of good country music.
Caylee Hammack opened the night. She was probably the most pop oriented singer of the evening. She didn’t get a very long set and maybe did 5 songs. She did originals like “Preciatecha” and “Family Tree”. She also did covers of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. I came out of her set feeling sort of indifferent to her music as she did some good covers, but her originals didn’t really grab me. I was however, pumped for the rest of the night.
The Brothers Osborne mentioned that this was their last show of the year and they couldn’t have picked a bigger crowd to do it in front of. The band kicked off their set with “Drank Like Hank” which is one of my favorites off their last studio album. They rely heavily on long jams during their set and John Osborne is one hell of a lead guitar player in that respect. The longer jams help space out their more pop leaning songs through their set. During the nearly hour long set, they got to songs like “Shoot Me Straight”, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)”, “Burning Man” and wrapped it up with “It Ain’t My Fault”. This last song was a killer jam that I feel like lasted at least past the 15 minute mark. There was an epic keyboard solo followed by John’s longest solo of the night. This song is one of those epic closing songs that will make anyone a fan that sees this live, even if you were on the fence throughout the rest of the set.
Luke Combs was the first double headliner for the night. He played an hour and fifteen minute set full of hits and songs from his new record that are sure to be hits in the future. This wasn’t a full set you would get at one of his own concerts, but I feel like we only missed a small portion of his usual set. He came across very humble on stage and very real. The band kicked the night off with one of my favorite tracks from his first album titled “Honky Tonk Highway”. He then immediately went into the hits with one of his biggest in “When It Rains It Pours” and you could hear the entire stadium singing along. In fact, it was like this the whole set for Luke Combs.
Some highlights included the hit song “1, 2, Many” where after the line “So whatcha say we shotgun one?” he actually paused for a bit to shotgun a beer before going back to the song. He performed “This One’s For You” largely acoustic before the band came back out to finish the song with him. He did one of my favorite tracks off the new record titled “Angels Workin’ Overtime” and I’m sure that one will be a hit at radio.
Speaking of radio hits, Luke Combs announced that “Even Though I’m Leaving” is his 7th straight number 1 at country music radio. That is an amazing run for any singer, let alone someone who is only on his second full album. He closed the set out with a Brooks and Dunn cover of “Brand New Man” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart”. Before playing his final song, he announced that due to a bet with his keyboard player who was from Atlanta, he had to wear an Atlanta Falcons jersey for the final song of the night. Atlanta played his time the Carolina Panthers and beat them soundly earlier that day. This was the first time I had ever seen Luke Combs live and this set only made me a bigger fan. I can’t wait to see him again but hopefully more up close next time.
The final act of the night was Eric Church. I had seen him perform previously on the “Holdin’ My Own” tour in 2017 where he performed two sets in one night so I knew we were in for a long evening still. He kicked the night off at the front of the stage on acoustic guitar doing a rendition of “Drowning Man” from his latest record Desperate Man. Eric Church’s live band brings a heavier rock and roll sound to the proceedings so it’s no surprise that he does things like add a tease of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” to the end of “Smoke a Little Smoke”. He also did an exceptional version of “Creepin’” from his The Chief album with his lead guitar player Jeff Hyde handling the dobro for the song. Before he got to one of his older hits “How Bout’ You”, he discussed playing a smaller venue in Atlanta called Wild Bills and how crazy it was to be at a sold out Mercedes Benz Stadium on this evening. Also, during “How Bout You” he did a full cover of Waylon’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and a tease of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” before closing out “How Bout You”.
He performed one of my favorite songs called “Mr. Misunderstood” largely acoustic before the band joined him again halfway through the song. It is my strong opinion that Eric Church is at his best in a more intimate acoustic setting. Following that, he kicked off a series of a few of my favorite songs of his. He did a great tease of an “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” cover. Then he went into a string of songs that included “Cold One”, “Record Year” and “Round Here Buzz”. He did a spot during “Record Year” where he signed vinyl records that fans had around the stage. He held up each one to the camera, including a vinyl record of Bruce Springsteen’s famous Born In The U.S.A. album which he signed. Before “Homeboy”, one of his guitar players came up front and did an awesome metal interlude with the band that was the heaviest bit of music of the night. The set also heavily featured the vocal talents of his back-up singer Joanna Cotten. She was featured on the track “Mixed Drinks About Feelings” which features Susan Tedeschi doing a verse on the album cut. We got an amazing dueling guitar solo during the closing moments of a rousing rendition of “Pledge Allegiance To The Hag” that was awesome. He closed out the night with “These Boots” where he signed a bunch of boots around the stage and one of his most popular songs in “Springsteen” which he says is his ode to a moment and the influence music can have on that moment and the power of a song to take you back to a specific moment in time. I know many people who were at this show will go back to this particular moment in time when they hear any of these songs that were played this night. He came back out for a one song encore of the Jackson Brown song “The Load-Out” which is a perfect encore song for any band.
This was an amazing night of performances and while no one got to do a full set, it was a full night of great music. Eric Church and Luke Combs were of course the highlights, but Brothers Osborne was awesome as well. I didn’t really get a chance to hear much of Caylee Hammack with her short set. Overall, this was a great night and I can’t wait to hear many of these artists again. You can find out a full tour itinerary for all of the artists involved in this show on their respective websites.
NewsComments Off on Live Review – Ward Davis, Lucero and Cody Jinks in Albany, GA
By Joshua Wallace All Photography By Joshua Wallace
This past Thursday on November 7th, 2019 I had the chance to see Cody Jinks live with Lucero and Ward Davis as opening acts. I arrived at the Albany Civic Center shortly after 6pm. That was the time printed on the ticket and on everything on social media, so I assumed it meant doors were at 6pm. Nope, the show started at 6pm and I could hear Ward Davis already going as I got my ticket at Will Call. I walked into the Civic Center as Ward was playing “Old Wore Out Cowboys” from his 15 Years In A Ten Year Town album. This song normally features Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson on the record, but this time we had an early guest appearance from Cody Jinks who graced the stage for a verse in the song. The crowd was still filling in at this point as like me, I assume most people thought the show started at 7pm.
Ward Davis feat. Cody Jinks
Ward Davis put on a good set this evening with tracks like “Get To Work Whiskey” and his cover of “Big River”. He also got around to “Good and Drunk” which is my favorite track off the Asunder EP he released last year. He rounded out the set on the keys playing tracks like “15 Years In A 10 Year Town”, “I Got You” and a rousing rendition of The Eagles hit “Desperado”.
Lucero was up next and I admit, I’m not the biggest fan of theirs and I was hoping to get a better feel for the band in a live setting, but it didn’t work out that way this evening. Between Ward and Cody, they were kind of the odd band in the sound mixing department and I don’t think that worked in their favor. I did pick up on a few songs they played like “On My Way Downtown” which is my favorite track from the 2012 Women and Work album. Ben Nichols did a stripped down version of what I think was “The War” from the 2005 release Nobody’s Darlings. They also did “Texas & Tennessee” from their 2013 EP of the same name. They also played a newer song called “Hello My Name Is Izzy” which has been released as a single. They finished the set with a track from the 2002 release Tennessee titled “The Last Song”. I hope to be able to catch this band live again soon and catch a full set next time.
You could tell this crowd is ready for Cody Jinks by the time he hit the stage. Before we get into Cody’s set, I have to commend whoever was playing music before Cody came on. They mixed classic country hits with songs from current artists like Paul Cauthen, Alex Williams, Whitey Morgan and others who many in this crowd might not have heard of as Albany, GA is a fairly new market for Jinks.
Cody Jinks started right away with music from his new records. He kicked the set off with “Same Kind Of Crazy As Me” from The Wanting. This set was heavy on new tunes, but he plays a long enough set list that you still get everything you want. Speaking of the set list, he is doing something interesting with his set lists as of late. He has lines with two songs listed instead of one. It seems like these are parts in the set where he has two songs in the same key lined up and can select either one. This is a very cool way of doing things. It gives the band flexibility to read the room and it potentially gives fans a different experience each night instead of just having the same old set.
Jinks then went on with the title track off the Lifers album and followed that up my personal favorite off that record “Big Last Name”. More new songs followed with “Tell Em What It’s Like” and “The Wanting”. After those tracks we got into “I’m Not The Devil” which had a special appearance from Ward Davis who sang a verse. Albany, GA was also the site of the very first live version of “Where Even Angels Fear To Fly”. I really dig this one live and it is quickly becoming a favorite of mine off The Wanting album.
Cody Jinks feat. Ward Davis
We also got another favorite track of mine off The Wanting album with “Which One I Feed”. I was especially looking forward to this one as it was one of my favorite preview tracks leading up to the albums release. More new music soon followed with “Ain’t A Train”. This song is huge for the fiddle solo that hits you hard every time it drops in the song. Well, the live band does not have a fiddle player so Austin “Hot Rod” Tripps grabs a dobro instead. While it’s a good track live, it’s just not the same without that hot fiddle solo. Jinks mentioned that this is one of his most upbeat setlists he’s ever done before going into one of his biggest tear jerker tracks in “David”. It still hits hard in a live setting.
Cody Jinks and The Tone Deaf Hippies
Another new track followed with “Wounded Mind”. This isn’t one that I had anticipated hearing live, but it’s a good one. It’s a very good deep cut from The Wanting. Up next we had “Holy Water” from Lifers and “Think Like You Think” from After The Fire. There is a bit of irony singing a song like “Think Like You Think” in front of a drunk and rowdy crowd on a Thursday night, but it’s a damn good song live. “Cast No Stones” was one of the highlights of this night for me. It’s one of my favorite Jinks tracks overall, but this is especially good live as he brings the house lights up for an extended sing-a-long with the crowd. “Must Be The Whiskey” and “Hippies and Cowboys” closed out the regular set. “Must Be The Whiskey” is a huge fan favorite off the album Lifers and it feels like a hit every time I hear it live. Jinks came out for a two song encore which included the acoustic leaning “The Raven and The Dove” and one of his biggest fan favorite songs “Loud and Heavy”.
This was my third time seeing Cody Jinks live and his show never disappoints. From seeing him at the Ryman a couple of years ago to this show, he keeps getting better. He’s upped his showmanship a lot recently. He picks out kids in the crowd and gives them guitar picks and acknowledges signs and interacts with the crowd in a meaningful way. A lot of independent artists don’t do this level of crowd interaction but it is a must for bigger stages and crowds. Cody Jinks is riding high and the sky’s the limit. He’s always on tour and I can’t wait till the next time I get to see him live. You can find out if he’s coming to a town near you at this link.
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get
By Joshua Wallace
Luke Combs is on a monster tear through country music history off the heels of his last album titled This One’s For You and it’s deluxe packaging titled This One’s For You Too. Earlier this year, he released the mega successful EP titled The Prequel. That EP featured the first 5 songs on this new album titled What You See Is What You Get. What You See Is What You Get is finally the follow up to This One’s For You that the world has been waiting for. Does it live up to the hype? I’m here to tell you that yes, yes it does. If his last album is any indication, Luke Combs has another massive collection of hits on his hands.
The album kicks off with the mega hit “Beer Never Broke My Heart”. The track kicks off with a quick banjo riff before going into heavy twangy guitars that are often the signature of this album. It’s a fun track that is both fun to throw on at a party and fun to experience live. Another great single released ahead of this record is “1, 2, Many”. This is more of a honky tonk drinking song and the chorus is infectious. Brooks & Dunn make a fun cameo near the end of the song. It’s great to hear something like this getting radio play.
The track “Every Little Bit Helps” is a bit of a smoother throwback to 90’s country radio. This song was released by Luke as an acoustic video back in July and at that time it was a slower acoustic demo. It’s fun to hear how the song has changed since then with this final version of the track. Another track that got that same early release is “Dear Today” which has an acoustic live version floating around out there. It starts off like that on the record, but the band slowly creeps into the track and it’s such a smooth tear jerker of a song. This will be a mega hit on country radio before this album cycle is up, it’s that good of a song plus I love the solo on this one.
Another track that fans are looking forward to eagerly is “Does To Me (feat. Eric Church)”. It’s more of a feature than a duet as Eric Church doesn’t come in till the end. He gets to name drop Don Williams which is cool in my book and it’s a damn good song to boot. “Angels Workin’ Overtime” takes the 90’s country sound and brings into more southern rock territory on a track about being overworked and underpaid. “Nothing Like You” is a ballad about being on the road but missing what you have back home. It’s a stripped down affair and is one of the softer Luke Combs moments, until you get to the finale of the record. “Better Together” a song dedicated to Luke’s fiance Nicole and it’s just him and his big voice against a piano. This is one of Luke’s better moments on this record and I can’t wait to hear it live.
Luke Combs is on a run like none other in country music and I don’t think he’s stopping any time soon. What You See Is What You Get picks up where his debut album left off and it’s another collection of hits waiting to happen. I hope I get to see Luke live sometime in the near future and if I do I will report on it here. The sky’s the limit for Luke Combs right now and it’s only getting crazier from here. What You See Is What You Get is out everywhere on Friday November 8th, 2019.
Favorite Tracks : Beer Never Broke My Heart, 1, 2, Many, Every Little Bit Helps, Dear Today, Does To Me (feat. Eric Church), Angels Workin’ Overtime, Nothing Like You, Better Together
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Erin Enderlin – Faulkner County
By Joshua Wallace
If you’re a fan of sad country songs with thick pedal steel, this album is for you. Erin Enderlin has issued her follow up to 2017’s amazing Whiskeytown Crier with Faulkner County. This album picks up where that left off with some of the saddest country songs you’ll hear all year. The pedal steel is thick throughout this record with tracks with Dan Dugmore, Paul Franklin, and Smith Curry handling the instrument throughout the record. Let’s dig into some of these tracks.
One of my favorites is the track “Whatever Gets You Through The Night”. I dig the smooth jazz sounds on this one as Erin Enderlin goes through all the different ways you can try to get through a rough night. I love the way the piano plays with the pedal steel here. If you’re looking for more great piano licks, look no further than “The Queen Of Marina Del Rey”. It’s a song about a woman trying to make it famous out in L.A. and struggling to do so. It’s a great tune and I dig the guitar solo on this one. One thing to note, there is a track “Till It’s Gone” that repeats from the Whiskeytown Crier album. It appears to be a re-recorded version of the original with a shorter run time. It’s a good inclusion here though as it does fit with the overall sound of this album.
Who doesn’t love a good trucking song? “A Man With 18 Wheels” provides just that but from the truck driver’s wife or significant other’s perspective. I love the line in this one that says “His home away from home is in the house that Peterbilt”. Another favorite is “These Boots”. This version is listed as the “Full Band Version”. An earlier cut of the track was released as a single in 2018. This version is smoother and the acoustics fit in with the album as a whole better. Finally, “Old Flames (Can’t Hold A Candle To You)” is a twist on the traditional country music cheating song in that it’s about not cheating. You don’t hear songs like this often enough and I’m happy to hear it here.
This album was released as several EPs throughout the year, but I’m glad to have it as a whole. The entire package makes sense as you can imagine these songs being about characters living in or being from a small rural county called Faulkner County. I’ve been a big fan of Erin Enderlin since her 2017 record Whiskeytown Crier and this one doesn’t disappoint. Jim “Moose” Brown & Jamey Johnson returned to produce this new effort and you can definitely hear their influence on the sound here. If you’re looking for a great traditional country record in 2019, look no further than Erin Enderlin’s Faulkner County which is out November 1st, 2019.
Favorite Tracks : Whatever Gets You Through The Night, The Queen Of Marina Del Rey, A Man With 18 Wheels, These Boots, Old Flames (Can’t Hold A Candle To You)
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Micky & The Motorcars – Long Time Comin’
By Joshua Wallace
Alt-country band Micky & The Motorcars have returned with their first studio album since 2014’s Hearts From Above. If you were a fan of that album, the new record Long Time Comin’ picks up where that left off with guitar heavy red dirt music with an alt country flare. Micky and Gary Braun are still the centerpieces of this band, however Gary takes more time up front writing half the songs and singing them. Let’s take a look at some of the tracks you’ll find on the album.
One of the preview singles is the opening track “Road To You”. It’s a cleverly written road song with a driving rhythm perfect for any road trip playlist. It’s worth noting that Courtney Patton shares a co-write here with Micky. It’s a great opener to reassure long time fans that the band hasn’t changed anything. Another favorite is “Lions Of Kandahar” which evokes middle eastern vibes in a track that describes a deployment in the middle east. It’s a first person story song that really showcases Gary’s songwriting ability. I particularly love the last verse which addresses the PTSD soldiers experience after coming home from war.
The track “Thank My Mother’s God” was written by Micky and Jeff Crosby. It’s a good tune that pays tribute to mothers and their devotion. I particularly love the line “Throw your heart in the river and hope it sees the ocean someday”. Finally, the track “Stranger Tonight” is another rocking track that is that is about the search for comfort, even if it’s not in love. I love the grungy guitars throughout this track and it really highlights the alt country rocking part of their sound.
Micky & The Motorcars haven’t missed a beat since their last studio album 4 years ago. If anything the band has improved with Gary taking more of an up front role on this album sharing those duties with his brother Micky. I hope to see the band live at some point if they ever make it to the southeast. In the meantime, Long Time Comin’ is out everywhere you can find good music on Friday November 1st, 2019.
Favorite Tracks : Road To You, Lions Of Kandahar, Thank My Mother’s God, Stranger Tonight,
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Stoney LaRue – Onward
By Joshua Wallace
Red Dirt country legend Stoney LaRue has returned with another studio album in Onward. It is his first studio release since his 2016 covers album Us Time and his first album of original tunes since 2014’s Aviator. I was a big fan of Aviator and I’ve been looking forward to another album of Stoney LaRue tunes. This new record Onward does not disappoint, so let’s get straight into some of these tracks.
“Hill Country Boogaloo” was one of the album’s pre-release singles and it’s a barn burner. It’s a killer rocking track that takes you to a groovy honky tonk and it’s bound to be a live crowd favorite. Another highlight is the Gary Nicholson cover of “Falling and Flying”. I’ve always been a fan of this song and this version does not disappoint. “Evil Angel” might be my favorite track on the record. It keeps the funk of “Hill Country Boogaloo” while adding a hint of southern gospel to the mix. The album rounds out with a duet version of Brandon Jenkins track “High Time” in tribute to the red dirt legend who passed away last year. It’s a nice tribute to a singer who left us way too soon.
Stoney LaRue does not disappoint with this new record Onward. I only hope we don’t have to wait another 4 years for the next batch of new original tunes. If you need some red dirt in your playlist this year, this album hits the spot. It has features from the likes of Brandon Jenkins and Tanya Tucker rounding out the album. Once again, I highly recommend checking this out. It is out everywhere Friday November 1st, 2019.
Favorite Tracks : Hill Country Boogaloo, Falling And Flying, Evil Angel, Worry Be Gone, Let’s Chase Each Other Round The Room, Thought You’d Want To Know
NewsComments Off on Double Album Feature – Cody Jinks – After The Fire / The Wanting
By Joshua Wallace
Cody Jinks is back with his follow up to 2018’s Lifers release. This time around he’s releasing 2 different albums a week a part. This is a different strategy from the typical double album release most artists would do with this kind of output. However, I feel like these two albums stand out on their own. Each record has its own loose lyrical theme with After The Fire focusing on the aftermath of events and The Wanting focusing on opposites like light vs dark and good vs evil. Jinks worked with some of his common co-writers on these albums. Names fans will be familiar with like Josh Morningstar, Ward Davis, Tennessee Jet and Paul Cauthen are all here. There really isn’t a bad track on either of these albums, but here are a few of my favorites.
After The Fire
This album kicks off with the title track “After The Fire”. It describes the lows of a man who lost it all and the thing that potentially saves him in the end. It’s a perfect introduction to the theme of this album which appears to be touching on the aftermath of certain events through one’s life. I love the great pedal steel work on this one. “Yesterday Again” continues the theme with a song taking place after a breakup. Jinks is looking back and wanting to do “yesterday again” and hoping for the best the second time around. It’s a great piece of songwriting and a track that will resonate with a lot of listeners.
Up next is the song “Think Like You Think”. This track originally appeared on one of Cody’s early albums called Collector’s Item. These are no longer in production, so this remake of the song is putting the track back out there. It’s a great tune that follows a character after a drunken bender and his wife gets onto him because his actions do not follow his beliefs. I love the message here and the play of light vs dark and good vs evil with this very sobering song.
Another amazing song on this record is the tearjerker “William and Wanda”. It follows an elderly couple finally meeting again in the afterlife. I won’t describe this one any further because it truly must be heard to appreciated. “One Good Decision” picks the pace back up on a track that is sure to be a fan favorite live. It’s about a man who has had his night at the bar and isn’t really struggling with the decision he has to make on whether to go home or cheat because he’s got a good thing at home. It’s a lyrical take on the end of the night at the bar song you don’t hear very often.
“Same Kind Of Crazy As Me” is going to be the anthem of these two records. I expect this one to be on Jinks setlists for a while. It’s a great tune right in line with his other most popular songs and it will resonate with a lot of his fans. “Never Alone Always Lonely” is a song that is about how you can always be lonely even in a crowd. I personally know this feeling very well. Lyrically Jinks plays off that theme a lot with lines like “Easy to find, seldom seen”. It’s a very well written song that captures that feeling that a lot of people don’t always get.
I really dig the imagery in “Which One I Feed”. It’s a song that highlights the lyrical theme of light vs dark and opposites in this album. “It Don’t Rain In California” is another well written song about a breakup where “She said she needed sunshine / She had enough of clouds” and California represents the sunshine and the main character of the song is the clouds. It continues the play on opposites that you see throughout this album and it’s really clever.
“Ramble” is a cover of the Chris Hennessee song from his 2018 album of the same name. Jinks does a great cover here and I love how he always represents artists who don’t always get their due on a big stage like this. If you’re not familiar with Chris Hennessee, I highly recommend checking out his work. Finally the album closes out with “The Raven And The Dove”. It’s another song of opposites about how some days can be good and some can be bad. The acoustic guitar work is the highlight here as it plays off a foot stomping beat and I can imagine this one being a live favorite as well.
These two albums include some of Cody Jink’s best work. There isn’t a bad track in the bunch and there are some that many fans will call their new favorites. Personally, I think The Wanting is my favorite disc of the two, but it is very close. I will admit, when he announced that he was releasing two separate albums instead of one double disc, my main concern was that these songs would be thrown on each of the albums with no rhyme or reason for them being there. You can put that concern to rest as the track listings for each album make sense and carry their own lyrical themes throughout each record. As a final note, I hope to be able to catch Cody Jinks live next month and report back here with some live reviews of these new tracks so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, After The Fire is out October 11th, 2019 and The Wanting is out October 18th, 2019 and you can find them anywhere.
Cody Jinks – After The Fire (2019)
Favorite Tracks (After The Fire) : Ain’t A Train, Yesterday Again, Think Like You Think, William And Wanda, One Good Decision
After The Fire
Ain’t A Train
Tell ‘Em What It’s Like
Think Like You Think
William And Wanda
One Good Decision
Dreamed With One
Someone To You
Cody Jinks – The Wanting (2019)
Favorite Tracks (The Wanting) : Same Kind Of Crazy As Me, Never Alone Always Lonely, Which One I Feed, It Don’t Rain In California, Ramble, The Raven And The Dove
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – The Quebe Sisters – The Quebe Sisters
By Joshua Wallace
The Quebe Sisters are a Progressive Western Swing band out of Dallas, TX. Instead of featuring the huge band lineup you would find in western swing outfits like Asleep At The Wheel, The Quebe Sisters are the three sisters on fiddle and vocal, Simon Stipp on guitar and Daniel Parr on bass. This stripped down lineup allows them to do some different things with the western swing genre. The focus is always on three part harmonies and the fiddles, however there are some jazz and traditional country elements in there as well.
A favorite track on this record is “Pierce The Blue” which is more of a country waltz song. The majority of the track features acoustic guitar and bass backing up the sister’s vocals and it’s a great stripped down song on this record. “Lonesome Road” starts off slowly before picking up the pace. The guitar kicks into high gear and everything just comes together. This is a great western swing traveling song from the sisters “Bluegrass In The Backwoods” is my favorite instrumental on the album. It feels like a bigger band is doing this, but it’s not. I love the fiddle work on this track and it is some of the best you’ll find on this album. “Twilight On The Trail” closes out the record with the sisters delivering their take on the classic Perry Como western trail song. This is a great cover of this classic that often goes unheard. I love the use of the bass for the low end harmonies on this track.
The Quebe Sisters are one of the best bands in all of western swing going today. They’re also one of the best sibling harmony groups going as well. I hope to get to see them live someday out here on the east coast, though I know that is rare. Their self titled album is out everywhere you can find good music as of September 20th, 2019.
Favorite Tracks : Pierce The Blue, Lonesome Road, Bluegrass In The Backwoods, Twilight On The Trail
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Jason James – Seems Like Tears Ago
By Joshua Wallace
Jason James has finally released the follow up to his highly acclaimed 2016 self titled debut album. This record is called Seems Like Tears Ago and it is once again one of the most traditional country albums you will find this year. You will hear him channeling the likes of George Jones and others throughout this great throwback record. Lets dig into a few tracks on this one.
The album kicks off with the title track “Seems Like Tears Ago”. This one would fit right in with your classic George Jones playlist. The pedal steel on this track is perfect along with the fiddle. Another favorite is “Move A Little Closer” which brings in the twangy guitar on a faster track that changes things up a bit for this album. I love the solo that plays between the fiddle and guitar on this track. “We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight” is a song that reminds me of the songs like Hank Sr.’s “Setting The Woods On Fire” celebrating the old tradition of going honky tonkin with your favorite girl. Finally, “Cry On The Bayou” also harkens back to a Hank Williams classic in “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”. This is an original with some lyrical allusions to the Hank Sr. classic. I really love how Jason James pays tribute to those that came before him and inspired his style heavily on this record.
Jason James is quickly becoming a huge name when it comes to traditional country music in these modern times. Seems Like Tears Ago is just another example of classic execution of styles of country music that you don’t always hear in their purest forms. This album is available everywhere you can find good music as of October 4th, 2019.
Favorite Tracks : Seems Like Tears Ago, Move A Little Closer, We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight, Cry On The Bayou, Ole Used To Be
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Dallas Moore – Tryin’ To Be A Blessing
By Joshua Wallace
Dallas Moore is back with his newest studio album Tryin’ To Be A Blessing. This album is a follow up to 2018’s Mr. Honky Tonk. Country music has always had a Saturday night and Sunday morning kind of feel to it. This record is the Sunday morning vibe compared to Mr. Honky Tonk’s Saturday nights. Here we find a much more sober and mellow Dallas Moore. I really dig the juxtaposition between this album and his last.
“Mama & Daddy” kicks off the album with Dallas paying tribute to his parents on a great honky tonk track. I especially love the honky tonk piano on this one. It’s a great track that will be a fan favorite live. Dallas slows things down a bit with “Everything But You”. This track finds Dallas longing for the one thing he’s missing. It’s a well written love song that has some great pedal steel work throughout.
The title track sees Dallas looking inward and trying to be a blessing through life, love and religion. There is some nice harmonica work on this one that changes the sound from the previous tracks. This track certainly represents the Sunday mornings and does it well. Another favorite track is “You Saved Me From Me”. This is another track that continues the religious themes from earlier. Dallas finds an angel that saves him from his darkest times. It’s a really great track that combines the themes of love and religion that run through this album together.
There are also two great covers to end the album. “Lovin’ On Back Streets” is a song first released by Mel Street in 1972 and covered by Daryl Singletary more recently. The other is “Lodi” which is Creedence Clearwater Revival from their third album Green River. Both of these covers are great pieces to end the album with
You can always count on Dallas Moore for a great album of country music and this one doesn’t disappoint. This was his second album produced by Dean Miller and between this and Mr. Honky Tonk, I think Dallas has found his sound. I highly recommend this record and it is out everywhere as of October 4th, 2019. Dallas Moore is always on the road touring and you can find out where on his website.
Favorite Tracks : Mama & Daddy, Everything But You, Tryin’ To Be A Blessing, You Saved Me From Me, Lovin’ on Back Streets, Lodi
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Billy Strings – Home
By Joshua Wallace
Billy Strings is about to explode. He’s already had an amazing 2019 selling out shows on his tour supporting this album and some amazing festival runs. His music transcends bluegrass while keeping true to the roots of the genre. He is one of the best guitar pickers alive today and he’s got an amazing band that can keep up with him. Home is his second studio album and it takes things to another level. There is more great songwriting, more longer jams that you can’t wait to hear live versions of and more lightning fast guitar picking. This album certainly lives up to the hype.
The album kicks off with “Taking Water” which is one of the more traditional bluegrass tracks on the whole record. I love the opening of the track with the use of John Mailander’s fiddle to create seagull sounds to help create the setting of the song. I also dig the track “Running”. This one features some lightning fast picking and while it airs on the more traditional side, it sets the stage for things to come. “Everything’s The Same” is another track in the same vein as “Running”. Super fast guitar licks here and I love the lyrics here about no matter where you go or what you do, everything’s the same.
There are two longer jam tracks on this album, the first of which is “Away From The Mire”. The song starts off slow, but picks up pace after the first chorus and doesn’t let go. After the third chorus, the band goes into psychedelic overdrive with a solo that will knock you back a few feet. When it is all said and done, it ties everything back together and refrains the first verse and chorus. It’s already a major hit live and I personally can’t wait to hear it myself. The second of the two longer jams is the title track “Home”. This starts off with a very structured melody and some orchestral pieces sparsely sprinkled throughout. Like “Away From The Mire”, this track builds epicly to an amazing finale that is in my opinion, the best thing Billy Strings has put to record in this vein. It keeps the orchestral element building while he incorporates electric guitar and a sound that is almost Santana inspired during the long solo. It’s really awesome and I cannot wait to hear this performed live.
Another favorite track is “Highway Hypnosis”. It’s a hard driving bluegrass song about being on the road. I love the mandolin solo from Jarrod Walker before the song breaks out into a psychedelic sound effect overload for a while before going back to the main tune. It’s a great use of the trippy elements Billy has been incorporating on an otherwise traditional bluegrass tune.
The final two tracks on the album deliver something a bit different. “Guitar Peace” is just over four minutes long and it’s a solo piece from Billy on his guitar. It starts out slow, but builds and some psychedelic effects are thrown in as the pace picks up pace more and more. It’s a great bit of very technical playing from Billy and I can’t wait to hear what he does with it in a live setting with improv. Finally, the album closes with the most traditional tune on the record, a bluegrass gospel number called “Freedom”. It’s complete with harmonies from the entire band and ties the record back to it’s bluegrass roots. Billy certainly isn’t a bluegrass traditionalist by any means, but he never forgets the sound that brought him to this point on this record.
With the release of Home, Billy Strings is set for bigger things. He is already on tour supporting this record and many shows are sold out if not near selling out. If that’s not a sign of the start of something huge, I don’t know what is. He’s making music that transcends bluegrass and he’s drawing crowds bigger than most modern bluegrass acts I have seen. You can stay up to date on everything Billy Strings and pre-order this record at the band’s website. Home comes out everywhere Friday September 27th.
Favorite Tracks : Taking Water, Away From The Mire, Home, Highway Hypnosis, Love Like Me, Everything’s The Same, Guitar Peace, Freedom
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Riley Green – Different ‘Round Here
By Joshua Wallace
The 90’s country throwback trend is in full swing and Riley Green’s debut full length release titled Different ‘Round Here will take you back for sure. There is some good stuff here and if country radio sounded more like this overall, I might find myself tuning back in every now and then. Let’s take a deeper dive into this one and preview a few tracks.
The album kicks off with “There Was This Girl” which is pure 90’s throwback with the twangy guitars and fist pumping beat. This one is pure rockin’ country made for your next backyard BBQ. I also dig “Same Old Song” which is about staying the same staying true even if you’re rich. It’s a familiar theme, but with some good songwriting that makes it fresh. Speaking of good songwriting, look no further than “I Wish Grandpas Never Died”. I love the shoutout to Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” in the lyrics.
“Bettin’ Man” is a tune that starts off with some chugging guitars and a slow backbeat before turning up the twang on a song that is a clever break-up tune. I dig this one and it’s a song that would be a #1 hit in the 90’s. Finally, another song that would be a hit in the 90’s is “Get That Man A Beer”. It’s another clever break-up song where Riley wants to get the man who stole his girl a beer because he did him a favor. It’s another great piece of songwriting on this album full of potential hits.
Riley Green’s Different ‘Round Here is another in a long line of great debut country albums that have come out in 2019. He has released a steady stream of EPs and singles for a few years now, and some of these tracks were on those releases, but this album works as a whole much better. Riley Green is currently on the Get That Man A Beer Tour and dates can be found at his website. Different ‘Round Here is streaming everywhere as of Friday September 20th, 2019.
Favorite Tracks : There Was This Girl, Same Old Song, I Wish Grandpas Never Died, Bettin’ Man, Get That Man A Beer, Outlaws Like Us
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Vincent Neil Emerson – Fried Chicken & Evil Women
By Joshua Wallace
If you want an album that is 100% Grade A certified classic country in 2019, look no further than Vincent Neil Emerson’s debut record called Fried Chicken & Evil Women. This record hits all the notes of what you would want in a classic country album. Smooth country crooning, nice pedal steel, honky tonk piano, it’s all there. This 27 year old from East Texas has put together the complete package. There isn’t a bad track on this record. Let’s take a dive into it.
The first highlight here is a great piece of song writing called “Willie Nelson’s Wall”. It starts out with an amazing pedal steel riff and I love the opening line “I’m as high as a fly on Willie Nelson’s wall”. It’s a great upbeat song about being high. Another highlight is the title track “Fried Chicken & Evil Women”. The pedal steel and honky tonk guitar are thick on this track, as it is on most of this album.
“Dade County Jail” starts off with some piano chords that will make you think you’re back in church. But in reality, the song is a slow blues track about waking up in jail. I love the acoustic guitar solo on this one. Some really good songwriting here. Finally, “Highway Shine” kicks off with some simple acoustic picking and great crooning from Vincent till the full band kicks in. It’s a smooth track about wanderlust that closes out the album. There’s some more great solo work on this track and I love the shout out to Billy Joe Shaver.
Vincent Neil Emerson has released an impressive debut album with Fried Chicken & Evil Women. In fact, this is one of the most country albums you will find in 2019. The playing and songwriting are top notch throughout and I cannot wait to see where this takes Vincent. I hope to be able to see him live one day. Fried Chicken & Evil Women is available everywhere you can find good country music as of Friday September 13th, 2019.