NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Caleb Caudle – Better Hurry Up
By Joshua Wallace
Better Hurry Up is the follow up to Caleb Caudle’s 2018 album Crushed Coins which was a favorite here at Gary Hayes Country. While that album was more Americana leaning, this album takes Caleb Caudle in a more funky and soulful direction while still keeping things grounded in Americana. I would go as far as saying that Better Hurry Up is the best Caleb Caudle album yet. Read on and find out why.
I dig the groove in the title track “Better Hurry Up”. It sets the stage for a funky and soulful trip throughout this record. Another favorite is the track “Dirty Curtain”. It’s a track that takes you down the road of country music’s dark side with plodding drums and haunting pedal steel. It’s about a place you don’t want to go, but sometimes you have to and you have to encounter life’s more seedy and dangerous elements. Finally, “Let’s Get” is a catchy and more mellow tune. I really dig the piano’s groove on this track. The harmonica is also a nice touch. This entire album has a nice range that goes from funky to soulful while still keeping things country and Americana and I dig it.
This truly is the best Caleb Caudle album yet. I cannot wait for the day when I can hear some of this album with a full band. I was going to potentially catch him live in Macon, GA last month but everything suddenly changed. This record came out April 3rd, 2020. Check it out and you can find out everything Caleb is up to at his website.
Favorite Tracks : Better Hurry Up, Dirty Curtain, Let’s Get, Monte Carlo, Reach Down
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Ashley McBryde – Never Will
By Joshua Wallace
I have been a big fan of Ashley McBryde ever since her hit song “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” came across my radar way back in 2017. 3 years later we’re getting the follow up to the 2018 album that contained that song with her new record titled Never Will. This album continues where Girl Going Nowhere left off with a mix of solid country gold and 90’s country influenced tracks. This album is sure to be a favorite and will likely land at the top of many country fan’s album charts when 2020 is all said and done.
The first song anyone heard from this record was “One Night Standards.” It’s a great track with a smooth sound meant for the radio. It’s an interesting twist on classic cheating songs that you don’t often hear these days. Another interesting track is “Shut Up Sheila”. It’s a very simple guitar track with some interesting percussion in the background. It’s a song about not letting go of who you are, even in the toughest of times. I dig the rock riff that comes in in the final third of the song. Another great song is “First Thing I Reach For”. From the awesome opening riff, you know this is a great country track. I love the pedal steel throughout this one. It’s all about how we keep going back to the things that we shouldn’t, especially in relationships.
My favorite track on this record comes in the revenge murder ballad “Martha Divine”. It’s a great story telling song with a classic rock and 90’s country inspired sound. You don’t always hear murder ballads that are this dance-able. I love how the title track of both of Ashley McBryde’s major label albums have been about how she has denied critics throughout her career. This song in particular is about not selling out to get where she is and how she “Never Will”. Finally, the last song on the record is a fun and different kind of song to end the album on. It’s the only song she didn’t write on the album and it is written by Randall Clay. It’s a funky song and she kind of raps the verses but it works because it is a bit of a silly tribute to “Styrofoam”.
This album is the perfect follow-up to Ashley’s great 2018 album Girl Going Nowhere. It features the same classic country mixed with 90’s country and classic rock sound.There is some good songwriting here and I love how she tells a story that can center around a place, an object or a person. I can’t wait to hear some of these songs live and see what is next for Ashley McBryde. Never Will is out everywhere as of April 3rd, 2020. You can support Ashley McBryde and find out everything she is up to on her website.
Favorite Tracks : One Night Standards, Shut Up Sheila, First Thing I Reach For, Martha Divine, Velvet Red, Never Will, Styrofoam
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Jessi Alexander – Decatur County Red
By Joshua Wallace
Decatur County Red is Jessi Alexander’s third record following her 2014 album titled Down Home. This is actually my first time listening to Jessi Alexander and you might be saying the same thing as it has been six years since her last album. However you possibly know her music as she has written several songs that have been both great deep cuts on mainstream albums and country radio hits. She has written songs for the likes of Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton and even newer artists like Travis Denning. While she has written for a good list of top country radio names, this record is more in the traditional country realm and it has a really good sound in that respect. Let’s take a dive through some of the cuts on this album.
First up is the first single from the album titled “Mama Drank”. This is a great songwriters song that makes great use of setting and character to tell a story. The song has a bit of fun with the subject and I dig the low key electric guitar riff on this track. The next track is a song that originally appeared on a Tim McGraw album by the same name called “Damn Country Music”. I wanted more from McGraw’s cut of the song when I heard it and Jessi Alexander has delivered what I was hoping for here. The McGraw cut of the song sounded like something was lost in translation. However, you feel it here and Alexander’s cut has the solid country gold sound you would want from a song called “Damn Country Music.”
The album isn’t afraid to have fun either. The cut “Country Music Made Me Do It” featuring Randy Houser is a fun tongue in cheek duet about the influence of country music on good or bad decisions. It’s a fun and dance-able track that is fun to throw on during your living room quarantine dance parties. Finally, the song “Lonely Out Of Me” is a great vocal performance from Jessi and it’s a slower track that takes you back to classic country songs of the 60’s and 70’s.
This entire record is solid country gold and at only eight tracks you only get the good stuff. Jessi Alexander’s career up to this point may be defined by the songs she has written for others, but this is a top notch record that deserves to stand on its own. I hope that I get to see her live at some point in the future. In the meantime, you can check out her website and social media to find ways to support her during these crazy times. Decatur County Red is out everywhere as of March 27th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : Mama Drank, Damn Country Music, Country Music Made Me Do It, Lonely Out Of Me, How I’m Going Out
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Porter Union – Loved & Lost
By Joshua Wallace
Porter Union are husband and wife duo Cole and Kendra Porter. We were a big fan of their 2017 debut self titled record here at Gary Hayes Country and this new record Loved & Lost is no different. This album continues the strong traditional country sound that recalls some of the great duo records of the 70’s and 80’s. There is an honesty and real quality to the songwriting you’ll find with their ST debut and Loved & Lost that cannot be found in many of today’s albums. Loved & Lost is a more upbeat affair overall and I really dig a lot of the performances on this record.
The album has a fun opener in “We Got It Right” and this song really gives you that classic country duet feel. It’s all about how they’ve both got things wrong before so many times they know when something is right. It’s a fun and upbeat country jam with two amazing performances. Another favorite performance on this album is “River”. Cole Porter is great on this track about the typical southern small town that has seen better days. Kendra has a similarly great moment with “Laundry”. It’s a stripped down track about a woman discovering her significant other is cheating on her by doing the laundry. The song is clever in that it takes a lot of common relationship issues about a woman doing everything and not feeling appreciated at the same time and she makes a discovery that changes everything. Finally, “Curb Appeal” features a guest vocalist in Kayla Ray on a fun song about how things aren’t always how they seem. I particularly love the pedal steel solo on this track.
While their debut album featured slower tracks, this new record Loved & Lost finds Porter Union picking things up with more upbeat songs. I love that this duo is switching things up on this record. If you wish to support Porter Union, you can find their website here and buy merchandise directly from them. Loved & Lost is available everywhere as of March 06th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : We Got It Right, River, Pennies, Laundry, Curb Appeal, Where Are You
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – The Panhandlers – The Panhandlers
By Joshua Wallace
The Panhandlers are a Texas country super group featuring William Clark Green, Josh Abbott, John Baumann and the front man of Flatland Cavalry Cleto Cordero. This project was produced by Bruce Robinson and it marks the first outing of this mega collection of Texas and Red Dirt country singers. This album was cut live straight to analog and done in a very lo-fi fashion so the production values might not be what you’d expect, but it is a very good record with lots of great performances. Whether you’re a fan of these four singers or not, you’ll find something to like here.
The album kicks off with “West Texas In My Eye” which is a love letter to west Texas where these singers are from. All four of the singers trade verses on a track written by west Texas songwriter Charlie Stout. It’s a great mellow start to the record and I dig the pedal steel here on this one. The title track “The Panhandler” is another great track that tells the tale of a panhandler. The banjo that rings throughout this track makes it a great upbeat number. I also love the harmonies on the chorus for this one. Finally, “This Is My Life” is an ode to the life on the road that these four singers live year round. It’s extra special because of everything going on in the world right now that is preventing these singers from living the life they describe in this song. I particularly love the final verse where Josh Abbott goes through and talks about all 4 of the singers on the record including himself.
The Panhandlers has been one of our most anticipated records of 2020 and it lives up to the hype. The lo-fi straight to analog production gives the album a live in the studio feel and these four singers live up to their billing of being a part of a Texas country super group. Time will tell if this ends up being a side project for these four or something they revisit from time to time. I hope I get the chance to see this band live as it seems like it would be a fun show. Check out The Panhandler’s website for ways you can support the band by buying merch straight from the band. The Panhandlers is out everywhere as of March 06th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : West Texas In My Eye, No Handle, West Texas Girl, The Panhandler, This Is My Life
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Sadler Vaden – Anybody Out There?
By Joshua Wallace
You might know Sadler Vaden as the guitar player for Jason Isbell’s band The 400 Unit. You might even know him as a former member of Drivin’ N Cryin’. However you know his music, you should check out his solo work. His latest album is titled Anybody Out There? and it’s a follow up to his self titled 2016 debut. This record is actually my first exposure to his music as a solo artist and I’m digging it. He reminds me a lot of Tom Petty and the country leaning rock sound that he often brought. He also brings the same thought provoking lyrics that Petty often brought to the table. However you are familiar with Sadler Vaden, this is one record you should check out.
The opening riff to “Next To You” kicks off like a long lost Tom Petty B-side. It’s a fun classic American rock song that gets you pumped for the rest of the album. The second track “Don’t Worry” slows things down a bit. I love the smooth guitar work that is a direct contrast to the opener. I love the line “Honey, wake up and see the dawn / ‘Cause that amber sky, it don’t last long”. It’s a song about taking time to appreciate the small things and not letting stuff bog you down. It’s a great track that is an example of simple songwriting you don’t see much these days.
The title track “Anybody Out There” has a bit of a trippy vibe to it. The song starts off with some drums that have some spacey effects to them before settling into a great rock rift. The track “Peace + Harmony” opens with more great riff work and it settles into a groove that is smooth and rocking at the same time. “Be Here, Right Now” is a smooth slow track with some nice slide guitar throughout. This one adds to the country/folk vibe on the album and it’s about getting away and being here, right now. The solo reminds me of something out of Tom Petty’s playbook.
This whole record has cool vibes all over it. If you’re missing the brand of country-ish and southern fried rock n roll that Tom Petty used to bring to the table, this album from Sadler Vaden hits the spot. This is where I would normally tell you how to find tour dates, but with everything up in the air on that front, I will direct you to Sadler Vaden’s merch store where you can buy this record and other items. Anybody Out There? is available everywhere as of March 06th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : Next To You, Don’t Worry, Golden Child, Modern Times, Peace + Harmony, Be Here, Right Now
NewsComments Off on Album Feature – Brandy Clark – Your Life Is A Record
By Joshua Wallace
Brandy Clark has returned with the follow up to her 2016 release Big Day In A Small Town. This album is titled Your Life Is A Record and thematically it’s about endings and beginnings. Overall, it’s a slower record than her previous album with more somber moments although there are some upbeat breakup songs on this record as well. Brandy Clark is a great songwriter and her ability to tell stories shines through on this one. Here are a few of my favorites.
The album kicks off with “I’ll Be The Sad Song”. This is kind of the title track in that it’s about if a life is a record, the break-ups and sad times brought by the narrator provide the sad songs. It’s a great tune that really sets the vibe for this record. The album does have some more upbeat numbers throughout, though still not upbeat lyrically. “Long Walk” is probably my favorite song here and it’s a great lyrical turn with “take a long walk / off a real short pier / take a cinder block with you as a souvenir”. It’s a great infectious revenge / break-up song that gets stuck in your head easily.
Another favorite is a great story song in “Pawn Shop”. It’s a song about a wedding ring and how it ended up in a pawn shop. It’s a great tune centered around the emotions that go along with it all. On a similar note is “Bad Car” and it plays into the sentiments of things we keep around because they’re familiar even if we know they’re long past their prime and in need of an update. Finally, “Can We Be Strangers” is another break up song acknowledging that a bad relationship is probably best if the two parties never even met. It goes through all of the emotions of a bad relationship turning worse until you just don’t want to know a person anymore. You don’t even want to miss them.
This record further cements Brandy Clark as an amazing story telling songwriter. She does what she sets out to do with every song. Whether it’s telling a story, evoking an emotion or taking you to another time and place, she is a master songwriter. If you have been a fan of 12 Stories, Big Day In A Small Town or anything else she has done, you’ll be a fan of this. Be sure to check out her website for tour dates and this record is out everywhere as of Friday, March 06th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : I’ll Be The Sad Song, Long Walk, Pawn Shop, Bad Car, Who Broke Whose Heart, Can We Be Strangers
NewsComments Off on Brent Cobb Pulls Double Duty With Acoustic Shows In Atlanta, GA
By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace
I had the chance to catch Brent Cobb’s A Night Of Fine Acoustic Country Music Tour this past Wednesday night February 26th, 2020 in Atlanta, GA at Terminal West. Brent Cobb actually had two shows this evening due to the initial show selling out quickly. These were duo shows featuring Brent on acoustic guitar and his regular guitar player Mike Harris on electric. It was set up like the two were on their own front porch picking songs and hanging out with a few hundred friends. The opening act for this tour is Maddie Medley. I didn’t have much experience with her music before the show. She only has one song out on Spotify with the promise of more to come soon. She played the same set both shows so I will cover her music once.
Maddie Medley was a solo act for these shows with an electric guitar. Her voice is deep and rich and her songs are very personal. A stand out was “Edith” which she says is about if she has a daughter. She sings about the things she would teach her future daughter about and how she would raise her in this world. The song she ended with was “Coming Of Age” which is the song you can hear on Spotify. It’s a bit more upbeat than the rest of her set, but still a very personal song that looks inward. I hope to be able to hear more of her music in the near future.
Brent Cobb’s set began shortly after Maddie Medley’s set and you could tell it was going to be a fun evening from the start. It was a very loose affair and the first show of the evening even had no set list. He kicked things off with a brand new song called “Keep ‘Em On Their Toes” which you can hear a snippet of in a video from the recording sessions of his next album on Twitter. From there he got into a couple of songs from his last new album with “Mornin’s Gonna Come” and “Sucker For A Good Time”. Mike Harris was a great accompaniment for this set as he made the smooth songs still slow and smooth and the rocking songs still rocked out. I particularly enjoyed hearing “Solving Problems” in this setting and the story that went along with it. Brent did another new song called “Shut Up And Sing” which I got a video of. It’s got a great message to it and I hope lots of folks hear it. After a rousing rendition of “Digging Holes”, Brent got a request from the crowd for “Old Shit” which is a song he wrote that Miranda Lambert recorded. It was great hearing his version of this song and it’s refreshing to see an artist take requests in a setting like this as long as the audience is respectful about it.
I particularly enjoyed this version of “Providence Canyon” stripped back. It was very smooth and laid back. We got another new song in “Soapbox” in the first set. Brent does have a new album coming out in the fall and after hearing these new songs live, I’m particularly looking forward to having them on a record. We got a version of “Black Crow” from the No Place Left To Leave album and it’s cool hearing those older songs live some 14 years after they were initially released. From there, we got a cool instrumental segway into “Let The Rain Come Down” which was eventually recorded by The Steel Woods. I’m torn on which version I prefer, but Cobb’s acoustic version is great here. A highlight of the early show was Brent Cobb doing a rendition of Tenacious D’s “Tribute” into “Down In The Gulley” when it got to the part in “Tribute” where you have to play the best song in the world. It was a great off the cuff moment that is what fans come to these stripped back acoustic shows for.
When it came time for the second show, those who were staying for both had to go back outside and come back in with the new crowd of people who were not here for the first. Maddie Medley performed essentially the same set as she did the first time around so I won’t rehash that. Brent Cobb however performed a different set with a few duplicate songs but an almost entirely different order.
Brent started things off with another new song which I think was called “Ain’t That Enough” before going into one of my favorites from the Shine On Rainy Day album called “Traveling Poor Boy”. There was also a rendition of “Come Home Soon” from Providence Canyon in the second set that was nice to hear here. There was another new song in this set called “The World Is Ending”. This was my personal highlight of the night. Sometimes you hear a brand new song live and it just floors you. I’ve had that experience a few times with different artists and I cannot wait to hear this one on the album and for everyone else to hear it. From there, an audience member surprised Brent with a song he said no one requests from the Providence Canyon album called “Lorene”. I was happy to hear this one live as it’s been a recent favorite of mine and it should be a regular part of the set list, especially on a stripped down acoustic set like this.
I can’t say enough about Brent having Mike Harris on guitar for these shows. He adds another element to the sound that makes these more than just your regular acoustic sets. This is especially apparent in heavier songs like “High In The Country” and “.30-06”. Mike Harris got to rock out on these numbers with extended solos and killer riffs that kept these songs rocking but still stripped down from what you would normally get in a full band setting. The night ended with Brent Cobb starting up “Richland” from No Place Left To Leave before changing up to the slower, appropriate closer of “South Of Atlanta”. I was happy to finally get to hear this one as it’s one of my favorite Brent Cobb songs from any of his records.
I highly recommend going to this tour if it comes near you. Brent Cobb is a great performer and entertainer in this unique setting. The tour is set up like two guys picking on their front porch in front of a few hundred friends and it comes off like that. You get to know Brent between the songs and get to know a little about the songs that you might not hear otherwise. If for some reason you can’t make it out to this tour, there is apparently a new record coming in the Fall for folks like me who can’t get enough Brent Cobb. I’m already looking forward to the next time I get to see Brent Cobb live because it’s a good show whether it’s stripped back or full band. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom and get the dates for the rest of this tour. You can also check Brent’s website for the most up to date tour information.
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,