Archive for January, 2010

Random Weekend Post: Brandi Carlile & Stephen Bruton

Posted in Brandi Carlile, Stephen Bruton on January 30, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Two videos today… with a related theme.

First is Brandi Carlile covering Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” from something called The Interface. Brandi will play the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville February 10.

Next is one from the late singer/songwriter/producer Stephen Bruton. Stephen has received a lot of attention lately for his work on the Crazy Heart Soundtrack, and I’ve dedicated a couple of sets to him at WDVX lately. His good friend Alejandro Escovedo dedicated a song to him during a recent visit to the station, and that has left Stephen Bruton on my mind.

A listener sent me this video last night after I played a song from Crazy Heart. It’s a song Stephen wrote that became a hit for The Highwaymen… a group featuring Willie Nelson. This is Stephen’s version.

Thanks Bruce.

News and Notes: New Truckers, Lucinda’s Birthday

Posted in Drive-By Truckers, Lucinda Williams, The Salty Dogs on January 26, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

It’s been a while since I’ve banged out a full-fledged news and notes column… so here we go.

***The Drive-By Truckers have a new album set for release this March, and the first song has been released on Stereogum’s website. Patterson Hood says The Big To-Do is “very much a rock album,” and this new track seems to confirm that.
Thanks to The Gobbler’s Knob for the tip. You can listen to “This Fucking Job” from the Drive-By Truckers at Stereogum. I can’t say I haven’t felt this way about my day job sometimes. The new album drops March 16. The Truckers are in Knoxville to play the Bijou Theatre February 14.
***My first ever CD review for the Country Standard Time online magazine has been published. I reviewed the new release from The Salty Dogs… a four piece Americana outfit from Little Rock, Arkansas. The album sounds at times like Reckless Kelly and at times like BR-549. The track I’m sharing here sounds like neither, but is still a great little song. You can read my full review here.
The Salty Dogs: Rock & Roll Will Never Stay (Buy Album)
***It’s another fine week for live music at WDVX this week. Tennessee Shines takes place again Wednesday night with some great bluegrass from Blue Highway and Adam Steffey & The Boxcars. We’ll also be joined by the phenomenal guitar duo Frank Vignola & Tommy Emmanuel as well as local songwriter Robinella. Jim Lauderdale will host as always.
As for the rest of the week… Justin Townes Earle will stop by the studio Thursday at 5:00 for a live interview and performance with Tony Lawson. Justin will play later that night at Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville with Dawn Landes. Finally, R.B Morris will rock the WDVX Blue Plate Special Friday at Noon along with The Black Lillies. These are two of the finest acts Knoxville has to offer, and you can hear them both in one place on Friday.
All of these performances will stream live on WDVX.
***Finally, today is the birthday of Lucinda Williams. Lucinda is one of the most beloved and respected artists working in Americana music today, and she was born on this day in 1953 in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
We’ll close things out today with my favorite Lucinda Williams song. This is “Pineola” from the 1988 release Sweet Old World.
Lucinda Williams: Pineola (Buy Album)

Alejandro Escovedo at WDVX: Recap

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on January 25, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

This is a picture of me with Alejandro Escovedo and his guitarist David Pulkingham taken last Tuesday when they visited the WDVX studios.
Alejandro was in town for a performance at the Bijou Theatre, but took the time to drop by the studio for an on-air interview and performance session with WDVX Program Director Tony Lawson. During his visit, Alejandro offered acoustic versions of two brand new songs from his upcoming CD and a slew of newsworthy tidbits.
First… the music. Alejandro began the set with a tune called “Anchor,” a bouncy love song that was immediately catchy and full of hooks. The second number, “Down in the Bowery,” was a much more personal tune that he wrote for his 17-year-old son to encourage him to follow his dreams. Alejandro says his son is a graffiti artist and the lead singer of a “very noisy” punk band. He says he couldn’t be more proud. He closed the brief intimate set with a beautiful rendition of “Sister Lost Soul” from Real Animal. He now dedicates the song to the memory of the late Stephen Bruton.
During the on-air portion of the interview, Alejandro revealed that he will be in the studio soon (possibly this week) to begin work on his new album. He will reunite with Real Animal producer Tony Visconti and return to the same Lexington, KY studio where he recorded my favorite album of 2008. Look for that project sometime this summer. He says he’s already been working out seven or eight new songs (more on those later) in his recent live sets and expects the new record to have a similar sound to Real Animal.
Off the air, I chatted with Alejandro a bit about the new album and his current touring line-up. He told me he wants to continue playing with his current four piece rock outfit for another couple of years. After that, he wants to “try everything musically I’ve ever wanted to do.” It’s very hard for me to imagine anything that he hasn’t done… but I can’t wait to see what those things are.
He also let me in on a special treat for any of you who are lucky enough to attend SXSW this year. The Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra will be reuniting for a show at the festival. I really wish I could be there.
As for his performance that night at the Bijou, it was every bit the the blistering Rock & Roll show that his previous visit was last January for Tennessee Shines. At that show, Alejandro fielded a few complaints from the bluegrass fans in the audience for being too loud and generally playing the Devil’s music. There were no such complaints last week, but Alejandro was able to work in a few good natured jabs at the grassers by promising to keep things nice and quiet.
It was a promise he didn’t bother trying to keep.
After walking on stage to the strains of George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Alejandro, decked out in a grey suit with a red scarf and red cowboy boots, cranked up the volume and energy with raucous renditions of “Always a Friend” and “Everybody Loves Me.” He also peppered the set with other familiar favorites such as “Sister Lost Soul,” “I Was Drunk,” and “Real Animal.” In the middle of the show, Alejandro and David unplugged their guitars, stepped in front of the microphones, and treated the audience to an acoustic version of the long distance love letter “Rosalie.” He dropped everyone to their knees with that one… and then brought them back to their feet with a fire breathing version of “Castanets” (my favorite AE tune) to close the main set.
Those songs were all great, of course, but the real story from the night was the presence of so many new songs in Alejandro’s setlist… seven in all. I’ve mentioned two already, and “Anchor” and “Down in the Bowery” only sounded better with the full force of The Sensitive Boys (Alejandro’s band) behind them. The rest of the new batch included the rocking “Faith,” “Tender Heart,” and “This Bed is Getting Crowded.” These three songs make me believe Alejandro wasn’t kidding when he said the new album will be full of just as much fire as Real Animal.
Two of the songs were slightly less bombastic, but full of their own character nonetheless. “Tula” was inspired by the works of author Larry Brown, and had a bit of a beat poetry/speakeasy feel to it with a deliberate beat and hand played percussion. “After the Meteor Shower” has its roots in the music of The Velvet Underground (the Underground’s John Cale produced Alejandro’s 2006 release The Boxing Mirror). Alejandro says the was basically trying to rewrite the Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes.”
The night ended with Alejandro leading the audience in a sing along of The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden” that was followed by me walking the streets of downtown Knoxville listening to 40 Licks on my iPod. It was a very satisfying evening overall and one that left me very hungry to hear Alejandro’s new album this summer. I’ll tell you all about it when I do.
In the meantime, here are two tracks recorded live in the studios of WDVX. As per Alejandro’s request, these tracks are available for streaming only. Hope you enjoy.

Random Weekend Post: Reckless Kelly’s New Album

Posted in Reckless Kelly on January 23, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I got my hands on a copy of Reckless Kelly’s new album Somewhere in Time last night. The album is a tribute to the music of a songwriter by the name of Pinto Bennett from a band called The Famous Motel Cowboys. I haven’t had time to listen to the full album yet, but I like what I’m hearing so far.

Here’s the EPK for the album where the guys tell us all about Pinto Bennett and the tribute project.

Alejandro Escovedo at WDVX Today

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on January 19, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Today (Tuesday) is going to be a big day at WDVX. Alejandro Escovedo is in town for a concert at the Bijou Theatre, and he’ll be dropping by the WDVX studio to chat with Program Director Tony Lawson before the show. Alejandro will likely share a few songs with us on the air as well. He’s scheduled to stop by around 4:00 (Eastern). You can listen to a stream of his appearance at the WDVX website.

Alejandro was in town around this same time last year… he played Tennessee Shines in January. For that show, he shared the stage with four other artists and played roughly only 35 minutes due to the nature of the Tennessee Shines program. Tonight, He’ll have the stage entirely to himself (minus opening sets from Johnny Quaid and Roman Candle), and I can’t wait.
As an added bonus, Alejandro has been working out some new songs on this tour and is preparing to return to the studio with producer Tony Visconti to record the followup to 2008’s Real Animal. I imagine he’ll play some of those songs tonight. I’ll try to check back in with a post-show report later this week. Until then… here’s a classic Alejandro track.
Alejandro Escovedo: Paradise (Buy Album)

Random Weekend Post: Dawn Landes

Posted in Dawn Landes on January 16, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Earlier this week, I was sent a copy of the new album from Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Dawn Landes. Sweetheart Rodeo (Buy Album) is a charming mix of folk, pop, and country with just a few electronic flourishes sprinkled in. Dawn hits fine country notes on tunes like the title track and the harmonica laden “Wandering Eye.” She wanders into Feist-like indie-pop territory on tunes like “Romeo.” It’s a fun listen overall.

Here’s the video of the lead track from the album, “Young Girl.” It has more of a rock flavor than the rest of the album.

[Update] I forgot to mention that Dawn will be in Knoxville January 28th with Justin Townes Earle at Barley’s Taproom.

NPR First Listen: Patty Griffin’s Downtown Church

Posted in Patty Griffin on January 15, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

On Tuesday, I mentioned that Patty Griffin’s new CD Downtown Church is set for release January 26th. I also mentioned that you could hear a track from the album at Patty’s MySpace page.

You can still do that… You can also now listen to the album in its entirety courtesy of NPR’s First Listen series. The album features two original gospel tunes from Patty alongside a slew of standard numbers. Buddy Miller produced the project which features vocals from Buddy, Emmylou Harris, Jim Lauderdale, Raul Malo, and the McCrary Sisters.

I haven’t had the chance to listen to the whole thing yet, but I plan to real soon. You can too if you follow this link.