Archive for September, 2009

Notes from a Bachelor and his Dog

Posted in Amy Speace, Drive-By Truckers, Levon Helm, Merle Haggard, Tim Easton on September 30, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

The smiling creature seen above is my dog Deacon. He’s a strange little Golden Retriever, Chow, Pekingese mix (we think). He’s also my only company this week while my wife is out of town on a business trip. Hopefully, the two of us will manage to stay alive until she gets back.

In the meantime… Notes.
***I’ll start with a sad note I picked up over at Music Fog. It seems as though Levon Helm is on a doctor prescribed vocal vacation for a while after having a lesion removed from his vocal chords. The lesion was determined to be non-cancerous, which is extra good news due to Levon’s past battles with throat cancer. He will, however, need to take a break for a while to let his vocal chords heal. I hope you’ll join me in wishing him a speedy recovery. Check out the full story at Music Fog.
***Speaking of the Fog, I’ve really been enjoying all of the videos they’ve been posting from their visit to the Americana Music Conference. They invited several artists to join them in the “Celebrity Coach” (read: big ole bus) for intimate acoustic sessions. They recorded it all and are posting videos to the site. Here’s one from Amanda Shires, an artist I featured last week. There are also great performances from Charlie Robison, The Trishas, The Band of Heathens, The Belleville Outfit, Annie & the Beekeepers, and many more. Check it out.
***The September edition of Tennessee Shines takes place later this week on Wednesday night at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville. This month, we’re joined by local bluegrassers Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier, last year’s Best New/Emerging Americana Artist Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Review, and songwriters Amy Speace, Tim Easton, and Randall Bramblett.
The whole thing will be broadcast live on WDVX and Wednesday night at 7:00 Eastern. Here’s a small taste of what ought to be another great show. These are a couple of older tracks from Amy Speace and Tim Easton.
Amy Speace: Two (featuring Gary Louris) (Buy Album)
Tim Easton: Poor, Poor L.A. (Buy Album)
***As I mentioned before, my wife is out of town this week. What better time to share a track from one of my favorite bands (and one of my wife’s least favorite), The Drive By Truckers. I have no real reason for sharing this one other than to ask all of you to play it at the loudest possible volume and sing along.
Drive By Truckers: Sink Hole (Buy Album)
***I’ll end by balancing that one out with a link to stream Rosanne Cash’s latest release The List. The album isn’t released until October 6th, but you can hear the whole thing right now on NPR’s website. The album (which is Excellent) is made up of Rosanne’s renditions of twelve classic songs culled from a list of 100 essential songs her father, Johnny Cash, gave to her over three decades ago. I’ll share the original version of one of the songs here. You can read more and listen to Rosanne’s version from NPR and buy the album next week.
Merle Haggard: Silver Wings (Buy Album)

Reminder: Porterdavis CD Giveaway

Posted in Porterdavis on September 28, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Just a reminder for everyone…

Today is the final day for the Porterdavis CD giveaway contest. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment here or at the original post with your name and email address. You can also email me if you have any problems with the comment system.
I’ll hold the drawing tonight after I come home from work… roughly 8:00 Eastern time. The winner will be notified by email. Good Luck.
Here’s a live track from Porterdavis recorded during their visit to the WDVX studio.
Porterdavis: Grass Growing Through Concrete (Buy Album)

Random Weekend Post: Patti Smith

Posted in Patti Smith on September 26, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Because sometimes you just need a little Rock & Roll…

Cleaning Out the Old Inbox: Kelly Manix, Amanda Shires, & Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Posted in Amanda Shires, Kelly Manix, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on September 24, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Before I get into today’s post, I want to remind everyone one more time to sign up for the Porterdavis CD giveaway. All you have to do is send me an email or leave a comment on this post to have a chance to win an autographed CD from the band that was named “Best Roots Rock Band” at this year’s Austin Music Awards. You won’t be disappointed.

Now… It is time once again to clear out some of the mp3s that have accumulated on my hard drive over the past few weeks and share with you a few of my new favorites.

First up is Seattle-by-way-of-Tennessee singer/songwriter Kelly Manix. Manix studied the music industry as a student at Middle Tennessee University and studied the musicians themselves after graduation during her tenure working in the marketing department of a “well-established independent label” in Nashville. While working in the industry, Manix says she studied the artists she came in contact with to see how they handled themselves and went about their craft. Perhaps that’s why her debut digital release EP Emerald City sounds like anything but a freshman effort.

Emerald City contains five songs that inhabit the same sonic territories of artists such as Mindy Smith and Another Country era Tift Merritt. I was drawn into this EP by Manix’s warm vocals and production, and I think you will be too. Here’s the title track from her EP Emerald City. It’s the story of what happens when Dorothy returns to Kansas to find that there may be more to life than what the comforts of home have to offer.

Kelly Manix: Emerald City (Buy Album)

Up next is an artist who Justin Townes Earle compares to both Dolly Parton and William Faulkner. Although Amanda Shires has just released her debut album West Cross Timbers, she is no stranger to the spotlight. Shires began playing fiddle and singing with Tommy Allsup and the Texas Playboys when she was just sixteen. She’s also shared the stage with artists such as Billy Joe Shaver, Justin Townes Earle, and Will Kimbrough all while fronting her own band, The Thrift Store Cowboys.

After years of touring with other artists and performing as part of a group, however, Shires decided the time was right to attempt a solo project. She turned down paying gigs on the road and took a job waiting tables so she could stay home to work on the eleven songs that would make up her debut solo album. Co-produced by Shires and songwriter Rod Picott, West Cross Timbers is full of sparse arrangements that fully display Shires’ cheerful sounding vocals on songs that often deal with dark subject matter. Here are two tracks from the album… the murder ballad “I Kept Watch Like Doves” and Shires’ rendition of Picott’s “Angels & Acrobats.”

Amanda Shires: I Kept Watch Like Doves (Buy Album)
Amanda Shires: Angels & Acrobats (Buy Album)

Finally, here’s one for you from the new release by the legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I don’t think I really need to say too much about these guys other than they’ve been going strong for over four decades now, and they show no signs of slowing down on their new album Speed of Life. Much of the album was recorded live in the studio and really hits on that classic Dirt Band sound. Here’s one from it… the band’s version of Shawn Camp’s “Tulsa Sounds Like Trouble to Me.”

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Tulsa Sounds Like Trouble to Me (Buy Album)

(Edit: Once again, someone has seen fit to file a complaint about an mp3 that was given to me directly by the record label. “Tulsa Sounds Like Trouble to Me” has been removed by my file host. I’m going to leave it down for now… but hopefully it will be back. In the meantime, you can hear most of the song in the YouTube video below.)

…And here’s a video of the guys in the studio making the new album.

Congrats to Lucinda

Posted in Lucinda Williams on September 22, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Congrats to Lucinda Williams and her new husband Tom Overby. The couple got married on stage Friday night in Minneapolis during one of her shows. You can read all about it in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Lucinda Williams: Passionate Kisses (Buy Album)
And… don’t forget about the Porterdavis CD giveaway contest.

Porterdavis Interview and CD Giveaway

Posted in Porterdavis on September 21, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Last week, I introduced you to the band Porterdavis and their bluesy style of American Roots music. They played at WDVX last Monday on the Blue Plate Special and came back to town Wednesday night for a show at the Preservation Pub.

Before their Wednesday night gig, Daniel Barrett, Mike Meadows, and Simon Wallace of Porterdavis stopped by the WDVX Studio to chat for a bit and play a couple of songs from their new self-titled CD. I recorded our conversation and would like to share it with you here. As always, ignore the references to “tonight’s” show… it already happened.
Interview with Porterdavis
If you want to hear “Carter’s Tune,” the song we were talking about at the end of the interview with Eliza Gilkyson, you can find it in this post along with the studio version of “Smack you Back.”
Now for the giveaway. When the guys were in the studio Wednesday night, they provided me with an autographed copy of Porterdavis for me to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment with your name, email address, and the words “Porterdavis contest” in your comment. If for some reason you can’t get the comments to work, you can always send an email to me at Just use Porterdavis Contest as the subject.
The contest will run one week and end on the 28th of September. I’ll throw everyone’s name into a hat and pull the winner at random. I’ll then post the winner in the comments here and contact him or her by email to get mailing info. In the meantime, check out Porterdavis at their website, and feel free to visit their webstore.

Random Weekend Post: Patty Griffin

Posted in Patty Griffin on September 19, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Because this lady is seriously under represented on this site…

Americana Award Winners & Other Notes

Posted in Americana Music Awards 09, BettySoo, Buddy and Julie Miller, Buddy Miller, Gurf Morlix, Justin Townes Earle, Patty Griffin, Porterdavis on September 18, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

***Well… The results are in from last night’s Americana Honors and Awards Show, and the winners are Buddy Miller, Buddy Miller, Buddy Miller, Buddy Miller, Gurf Morlix, and Justin Townes Earle.

Obviously, Buddy was the big winner on the night. He walked away with wins for “Artist of the Year,” “Duo/Group of the Year” with his wife Julie Miller, “Album of the Year” for Written in Chalk (also with Julie), and “Song of the Year” for his duet with Patty Griffin called “Chalk.”
With his four wins last night, Buddy now has nine Americana Music Awards to his credit. He has two previous wins in the album category for Buddy & Julie Miller in 2002 and Universal United House of Prayer in 2005. He’s also a two-time winner of the instrumentalist award and was honored in the song category for “Worry too Much” in 2005. It’s quite the impressive resume.
The other two award winners, Morlix and Earle, both were presented with their first Americana trophies. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Morlix took home the “Instrumentalist of the Year” award while Earle was honored with the “Best New/Emerging Aritst” trophy.
***Speaking of Gurf Morlix… Thanks to A Truer Sound for introducing me to Asian-American Americana songwriter BettySoo. BettySoo hails from Texas, and her latest album Heat Sin Water Skin features Morlix as a player and producer. You can read about BettySoo… and watch some videos… over at A Truer Sound, or stream and purchase the album here. You can also stream most of her entire catalogue on her website. She’s worth checking out.
***One more Morlix related note… Be on the lookout for my first ever CD giveaway contest sometime next week. I have an autographed copy of the debut studio album from Porterdavis to send somebody’s way. Morlix produced the album, and it sounds great. Look for info on the giveaway (and interview/performance audio from the band) on Monday.
***Finally, a couple of loyal readers of this site were featured recently on CNN, and I think that’s pretty cool.
I was first introduced to Steve and Jill Kaufmann when I was the host of Americana Crossroads at Morehead State Public Radio. They started listening to the show from their home in Lexington, KY and would send in the occasional e-mail when they heard something they really liked. We lost touch when I moved to Knoxville, but reconnected a while back through the blogosphere when I noticed I was receiving some traffic to this site from a blog called Off the Grid and On the Map.
As it turns out… the Kaufmanns had quit their jobs, sold their house, bought a van, and embarked on a long term driving tour of North America… and they were blogging about it. They would listen to WDVX over the internet on their travels and had tracked me down through that. Pretty soon, I was getting e-mails from them in the studio at work… only now the messages were coming from Mexico and California instead of Lexington. I started following their travels on their website, and I guess I wasn’t the only one as Steve and Jill were recently featured on
In honor of Jill & Steve’s Excellent Adventure, here’s a song dedicated to them from the one and only Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash: I’ve Been Everywhere (Buy Album)

Americana Music Awards ’09: Lifetime Achievement Awards

Posted in Americana Music Awards 09, Asleep at the Wheel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty, Sam Bush on September 17, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Tonight is the night… The Americana Music Association Honors & Awards Show takes place tonight at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It is a night designed to celebrate the best Americana music has to offer, and I can almost promise that Kanye West will not charge the stage at any time during the ceremonies.

I’ve already run through all of the nominees for this year’s awards. Today, I’d like to briefly spotlight three artists who will honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards tonight.

First is virtuoso mandolin/fiddle player Sam Bush. Bush is being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist.

Sam was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1952 and was exposed to bluegrass and country music through the Flatt & Scruggs TV show and his father’s record collection. He picked up his first mandolin at age eleven, and by the time he reached 17 Sam had already recorded his first album, won three national fiddle championships, and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. From there, Sam went on to found the wildly influential New Grass Revival, and band that brought a rock & roll flair to bluegrass music.

Since disbanding New Grass Revival in the late 1980’s, Sam has continued to perform and release solo records while also being one of the most in demand session players around. His credits include stints touring and playing with Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, and his former New Grass band mate Bela Fleck. He has also appeared on recordings by everyone from Garth Brooks and Allison Krauss to Little Feat and Hootie & the Blowfish.

Sam Bush is one of the most innovative and influential players of his generation, and is well deserving of this award. He is also nominated for Instrumentalist of the Year tonight, and may just come away with that one as well. He has a new album called Circles Around Me due October 20th from Sugar Hill Records. Here’s one from that record along with an old favorite that really showcases Sam’s picking talents.

Sam Bush: Gold Heart Locket (Buy Album)
Sam Bush: Funk 42 (Buy Album)

This year’s honorees for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance are Western Swing revivalists Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel.

Although their music is most closely associated with the state of Texas, Asleep at the Wheel originally formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia in 1970. By 1974, the group had settled in Austin, and started their long tenure as one of the most respected outfits in the state of Texas. The band’s line up has changed several times over the years, but the spirit of the music remains the same. Nearly forty years and twenty albums into their career, Asleep at the Wheel have placed more than twenty singles on the country music charts, won nine Grammy Awards, and leader Ray Benson has been inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame.
I had the good fortune of seeing Asleep at the Wheel perform at the 2004 Americana Conference, and I will say that they are worthy of this award. The band flooded the stage at the Mercy Lounge with musicians to create a huge sound that came straight from the days of Country music’s past. The set was powered by a pair of dueling fiddles that kept the crowd dancing, and I’m pretty sure Benson was juggling at one point during the show. It was (to put it mildly) a lot of fun.
Here are two tracks from Asleep at the Wheel. The first is a collaboration with the Dixie Chicks from the 1999 Bob Wills tribute album Ride with Bob. The second is their most recent effort, a collaborative effort with Willie Nelson called Willie & The Wheel.
Asleep at the Wheel with The Dixie Chicks: Roly Poly (Buy Album)
Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel: Hesitation Blues (Buy Album)

The final honoree tonight is legendary swamp rocker John Fogerty who will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting.

Fogerty first came to prominence with the band Creedence Clearwater Revival in the late 1960’s. The band achieved great success with their slightly psychedelic, rootsy Bayou sound and all-time classic songs such as “Bad Moon Rising,” “Proud Mary,” “Fortunate Son,” and others. Fogerty was the primary songwriter for the group and the singular voice behind their songs. With Fogerty at the helm, CCR became one of rock’s biggest acts by the end of the decade.
By 1973, however, CCR had parted ways and Fogerty struck out on his own as a solo artist. His biggest success in that realm came in 1985 with Centerfield, the album that produced the ubiquitous song of the same name. Now in his sixties, Fogerty continues to release vital roots-rock albums like 2004’s Deja Vu All Over Again and 2007’s Revival. Both albums were timely and topical while also possessing Fogerty’s timeless sound.
It’s easy to overlook Fogerty as a songwriter or to overlook his output in favor of contemporaries such as Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen. When you look back at his career, however, it becomes more and more clear that he deserves to stand alongside any of the songwriters from that era. John Fogerty is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and tonight will honored for his career by the Americana Music Association.
Here’s one from his days with CCR and one more from Revival.
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Lodi (Buy Album)
John Fogerty: Gunslinger (Buy Album)

A Little Knox Music: Roman Reese

Posted in Knoxville Music, Roman Reese on September 16, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

It occurred to me recently that it’s been a while since I’ve posted any local music here on the blog.

Here then is another installment of “A Little Knox Music.” Posts in this series are brief looks at local artists who deserve to be known outside of our little town of Knoxville.

This time it’s local roots-flavored singer/songwriter Roman Reese. Roman is a veteran of the music business, having played in a few Nashville area bands (Numbers and Tony Roman & The Cool Tunes) in the late 1990’s and the early part of this decade. He joined the military in 2002 and spent time in Iraq as an MP. Once his tour of duty was complete, Roman moved to Knoxville to attend law school at The University of Tennessee.

While he chased his law degree, Roman Reese continued to chase his muse. He released Gritty City in 2007, an album he says was inspired by the gritty cities of Knoxville and Baghdad. His sophomore effort Listen Before Dialing came out this spring, and is quite a gritty effort itself. He sings of bourbon and beer, barroom brawls, and a dashboard Jesus… his songs as rough as the raspy voice that sings them. Odds are you’ll be growling and singing along with him in no time.

Here’s one from the new album that has an infectious groove and a nice sampling of Roman’s sound.
Roman Reese: Used Car Lot (Buy Album)