Archive for October, 2010

ReviewShine Wednesday: Driver

Posted in Driver on October 13, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

In doing some extra research on today’s band, I discovered that “Driver” is a very popular band name. I should point out before we start, then, that this is not Driver, the rock band from Northern Michigan or Driver, the hard rock band from California or even Driver, the French rapper.  This is Driver, the roots rock band from Austin, TX who have just released their debut album Dashboard Alchemy.

While the band is new, its members certainly aren’t strangers in their hometown of Austin.  Driver is primarily made up from members of Austin stalwarts Javelin Boot who found out they weren’t quite ready to take the break from music they thought they were.  Guitarist/vocalist Volney Campbell, guitarist/vocalist Scott Bonneau, bassist/vocalist Blake Patterson, and Drummer Rob Solomon are all musical vets who bring a certain level of maturity to their rock heavy sound.  Driver may put you in the passenger seat, but they’ll take you on a heckuva ride.

Driver: Don’t Drink My Whiskey (Buy Album)

Best of 2010/$5 Albums on Amazon

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo, Arcade Fire, She and Him, Spoon, Tift Merritt on October 12, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I don’t know if you’ve noticed the Amazon search box in the sidebar on the site or not. If you have, then you know this already. If not… I have recently joined the Amazon Associates program.

What that means is that if you purchase any of the music I write about on this site through the Amazon links I provide, I get back a (very) small percentage of the sale back from Amazon.  Not only will you be helping the artists featured on the site, you’ll be helping the site as well.  This site is ad free, and I have never made one cent from it in the two-plus years I’ve been running it.  The problem with that is that I put a lot of time into things here and I have to pay a hosting fee every month for the mp3 files.  It adds up.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to all of the sudden start adding link after link or change anything on the site.  The Amazon search box in the sidebar will be the only real change.  Please feel free to use it for your Amazon shopping if you like.

I did notice today, however, that several of the albums I’m considering for my Best of 2010 list are currently available as $5.00 digital downloads from Amazon during the month of October.

If you’d like to get a leg up on the 2010 list and help out the site as well, please take a moment to download a couple of these albums.


You can find the full list of $5.00 albums here.

R.I.P. Solomon Burke

Posted in Solomon Burke on October 10, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

The King of Rock and Soul, Solomon Burke passed away early this morning on a flight from L.A. to Amsterdam.  He was 70 years old. You can read a message from Burke’s family on his website.

While I don’t consider myself to be an expert on Burke’s work, I did have the chance to see him perform at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville at the 2005 Americana Music Conference.  Never have I seen a performer with such presence and magnetism on stage as he had that night.  He made a connection with every single member of the audience and held everyone in rapt attention as his scheduled 45 minute set stretched into an hour and a half.

Burke kept trying to wrap up his performance, but the crowd wouldn’t let him, as they begged for encore after encore.  Even Buddy Miller, who was supposed to follow Burke that night, could be seen backstage motioning for the legend to keep performing.  It was quite a scene.

Miller would later produce Burke’s 2006 CD Nashville.  Here’s a track from it along with a YouTube clip of one of Burke’s classics.

Solomon Burke: Up to the Mountain (Buy Album)

Weekend YouTube: Alejandro Escovedo

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on October 10, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

If you don’t follow Alejandro Escovedo on facebook… then you should.  He’s always posting cool YouTube videos to his profile.

Here’s one recorded last year in Austin…

And an older clip from Esovedo’s punk/glam outfit, Buick McKane…

Interview with Jason Ringenberg

Posted in Jason and the Scorchers on October 8, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

You may remember that back in May, I wrote fairly extensively about Halcyon Times, the new album from Jason & The Scorchers.  Well… The Scorchers are currently out touring behind the album, and they made their way through East Tennessee this past weekend.  I wasn’t able to attend the show in Johnson City, but I did get in touch with Jason Ringenberg through e-mail to ask him a few questions about the new record and The Scorchers’ place in alt-country history.

Here are my questions and Jason’s unedited responses.

FiftyCentLighter: Prior to the release of this album, it had been 14 years since the last Jason and the Scorchers record. I would assume that the genesis for this project was the reunion at the 2008 Americana Music Awards Show when the Scorchers were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance. Congratulations by the way! What was it like having the band back together for the Conference? Did everything fall back into place once you were back together, or was there a period of readjustment?

Jason Ringenberg:  The band didn’t really reunite in any real sense. We only did 2 songs at the awards show. Getting the award was a huge honor, and it was nice to play with Jeff and Perry again.

FCL:  After the reunion, only two members of the original band signed on for the new album and the subsequent tour. What can you tell us about the new players and what they bring to the table?

JR: Al Collins came on first. He was a friend and colleague of Warners. He is a very subtle but essential part of our new sound. He so effectively holds the wildness together, much like Jeff did in the vintage years.

Pontus Snibb is a colleague of mine from Sweden whom I have played with before. He is so incredibly talented that we deal with having a Swedish drummer. Him and Warner together are much like Page/Bonham.

FCL: Speaking of the album itself, Halcyon Times as an album title, along with several of the songs on the record, evokes a real feeling of nostalgia. The narrator in “Golden Days,” for instance, fondly recalls earlier days and several rites of passage from those bygone days. It’s a song a younger artist couldn’t pull off credibly simply because of the life experiences needed to write it. Earlier this year, I spoke with Brian Henneman of The Bottle Rockets and Chip Robinson of The Backsliders about the different approaches they take to songwriting now that they’ve matured as artists and individuals. After three decades in the music business yourself, how has your approach changed from the early days? Is this a record the Scorchers could have made 30 years ago?

JR: Primarily, the older I get the less I write about myself. It’s mostly about characters now. I am certain we never could have made this record 30 years ago.

FCL: Speaking of 30 years ago… Many different artists share a part in the genesis of the alt-country/cowpunk/whatever you want to call it movement, but I like to trace a significant portion of it back to The Scorchers’ early days in Nashville. At the time, were you aware of what you were starting? Did you have any visions of still doing it 30 years later?

JR: Yes and yes. We knew we were doing something special and we did believe we were long term artists.

FCL: One more question about Halcyon Times… As a native of Eastern Kentucky, an area where coal mining is still very much a part of daily life for many communities, I was particularly struck by the song “Beat on the Mountain.” What was the inspiration for that track?

JR: Thank you. We love doing that song. It seems to resonate with lots of folks, even those who have no mining heritage. The whole coal miner thing, especially the deep shaft miners, really strikes a cord with me. Those people risk their lives daily for their families.

FCL:  What’s on tap next? Is there another Jason & The Scorchers album in the future?

JR: Having experienced that my predictions about Jason and the Scorchers future are usually wrong, I venture none. We take it day at a time and enjoy the ride.

Jason & The Scorchers: Beat on the Mountain (Buy Album)

ReviewShine Wednesday: Simon Fagan

Posted in Simon Fagan on October 7, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Every Wednesday, I feature a brief review of at least one album that has been submitted to me through the ReviewShine website. I have cleverly titled this recurring segment “ReviewShine Wednesday.

I’m a little late this week, but it’s still technically Wednesday in Tennessee.

Today we focus on Irish singer/songwriter Simon Fagan.  Fagan is a former trumpet player who studied at some of the most prestigious music schools in the UK as a teen.  After finishing college, however, Fagan put down his trumpet and picked up a guitar.  The switch seems to have been a wise choice.  Fagan’s new CD, Outside Looking In, is his first full-length album and is full of Americana infused pop songs that can’t help but grab your ear.  Fagan is fully capable of captivating you with a quiet dirge such as “Love Don’t Work” or surrounding you with layers of sound as in “Water’s Edge,” but it’s the crunchy, hooky pop songs like “Damn Honey” that suit him best.

Simon Fagan: Damn Honey (Buy Album)

Weekend YouTube: Mumford & Sons

Posted in Mumford and Sons on October 4, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Sorry this is a day late.  I spent the weekend at my parents’ house, and the internet there is slightly less than optimal.

I seem to be coming to this band a little later than some, but I have spent the last few weeks completely mesmerized by Mumford and Sons.