Archive for the Drive-By Truckers Category

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)

Top 10 Americana Albums of the Decade: #4 – Decoration Day by The Drive-By Truckers

Posted in Drive-By Truckers, Top 10 Americana Albums: 2000-2009 on November 30, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

We took a bit of a break for the Holiday, but it’s time now to continue with the list of my favorite Americana albums of the past decade. The album here at number four stands as a stark contrast to the subdued beauty of Neko Case at number five, and is probably the loudest, most guitar driven album on the list.

Album #4 is The Drive-By Truckers’ 2003 release Decoration Day.
Others may place the band’s 2001 effort Southern Rock Opera in this spot… and that would certainly be hard to argue against (although I would rank SRO third behind even 2004’s The Dirty South). Southern Rock Opera was an ambitious, two-disc, concept album that used a backdrop of Southern landscapes and Southern issues to trace the career path of a Skynyrd-esque band of Rock & Roll misfits. The album tackles what front-man Patterson Hood refers to as the “Duality of the Southern Thing” all while presenting a dualistic quality in the music as well. Hood and guitarist Mike Cooley wrote an album full of loud, bombastic songs about heavy topics such as racism, Southern politics, death, drugs and alcohol, and the gaudy excesses of fame. They did so however with a careful and caring eye for detail that forced the listener to think while the electric guitars wailed.
Even with the bar that was set by Opera, I still can’t help but list Decoration Day as my favorite.
Some of the themes from the previous record are present here as well. Hood’s “Hell No I Ain’t Happy” is a classic “band on the road” song that both celebrates and curses the lifestyle they have chosen and could have easily blended in with the story arc of Southern Rock Opera. In fact, the formula here is basically the same. Start with powerful stories about flawed people in flawed situations, mix in some heavy guitar riffs, and play the whole thing as loud as possible.
The one thing that makes this album different from The Truckers’ previous work (and makes it my favorite) is the addition of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jason Isbell to the group. This is Jason’s first (of three) albums with the group, and he wasted no time in making his presence felt. Jason only wrote two tracks on this disc, but they are undoubtedly two of the highlights.
One of those is the album’s title track “Decoration Day.” It tells the tale of a modern day Hatfield and McCoy type family war. The feud has lasted so long that no one can remember how it started, or how many in the warring families have died. As the narrator, Isbell wants it all to end, but his father forces him to continue the fight. By the end, he comes to hate his own Lawson family as much, if not more than, the Hill clan he is sworn to destroy.
Isbell’s other contribution is also possibly the band’s finest moment. “Outfit” is another tune that features a relationship between a father and a son as its narrative touchstone. In this song, however, the dad offers some fatherly advice from a man who wants better for his son than he had for himself.
Of course, I don’t want to gloss over the contributions of the band’s other two songwriters. Patterson Hood is the longtime leader of the band and the author of nine of the album’s 15 tracks. Hood’s highlights include the full-on guitar assault of “Sink Hole,” the aforementioned “Hell No I Ain’t Happy,” and the somewhat jangly “My Sweet Annette.”
Hood is a master at capturing the feelings of the flawed and confused. His characters often must face harsh realities or make hard decisions. In “Sink Hole” a desperate farmer fantasizes about killing the banker who has come to foreclose on his family’s land. His characters also leave their brides at the alter (“My Sweet Annette”), struggle through the trials of divorce [“(Something’s Got to) Give Pretty Soon” & “Your Daddy Hates Me”], and take their own lives (“Do it Yourself”).
If you’re looking for sunshine on this album, Mike Cooley isn’t the one to turn to either… although he may come the closest with the musical proposal “Marry Me.” The protagonist here simply realizes that while he isn’t perfect (and neither is she), he gets by much better by his girl’s side than he does when he’s off chasing some other dream. As Cooley puts it, “I’d rather be your fool nowhere than go somewhere and be no one’s.”
Of course, Cooley lets his dark side out on this album as well. “When the Pin Hits the Shell” offers another point of view on suicide. “Loaded Gun in the Closet” offers another picture of wedded non-bliss and leaves us wondering who will use the weapon first… and who they will use it on.
It’s a dark album to be sure, but one that continues to draw me in. The Drive-By Truckers essentially crafted an album full of tragedies and train wrecks, but those stories are told in such a compelling fashion that it’s impossible to turn away. Here are three tracks from the album… one each from Hood, Cooley, and Isbell.
Drive-By Truckers: My Sweet Annette (Buy Album)
Drive-By Truckers: Marry Me (Buy Album)
Drive-By Truckers: Outfit (Buy Album)

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 wdvx.com 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)

Americana Music Awards: Nominees Super Post

Posted in Alison Krauss, Americana Music Awards, Drive-By Truckers, Hayes Carll, James McMurtry, Jim Lauderdale, Kane Welch Kaplan, Levon Helm, Robert Plant, Steve Earle, The Avett Brothers on September 11, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

It’s been a while since I posted anything about the upcoming Americana Honors and Awards Show. Since it’s coming up next week, I thought I’d better get back on the ball. You can find my previous posts on the Awards here. A full list of this year’s nominees can be found here (scroll down).

Last month, I started this whole series on the awards nominees by listing the five songs nominated for Song of the Year. Four of the five nominated songs come from albums nominated for Album of the Year. Since I wrote fairly extensively about the artists in that post, I’m not going to write about them again. Instead, here is a list of the nominees with another track from each album.

The nominees are…

Raising Sand from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Just Us Kids from James McMurtry
Trouble in Mind from Hayes Carll
Dirt Farmer from Levon Helm

Robert Plant and Allison Krauss: Fortune Teller (Buy Album)
James McMurtry: Bayou Tortous (Buy Album)
Hayes Carll: Drunken Poet’s Dream (Buy Album)
Levon Helm: Feelin‘ Good (Buy Album)

Out of these four… my vote probably goes to Hayes Carll. If I were betting, however, I would place my money on Levon Helm. I think the fact that he’s making a return from throat cancer, coupled with the fact that Dirt Farmer is truly a killer album will be enough to carry him here. He’s probably the favorite for Artist of the Year as well.

Speaking of which… the nominees for Artist of the Year are…

Levon Helm
James McMurtry
Jim Lauderdale
Steve Earle

John Prine won this award a few years ago when he was making his return from cancer. Levon should take this in a walk. Competition comes from tireless performer and Americana Ambassador, Jim Lauderdale. Lauderdale released two albums during the nomination period (2007’s Bluegrass Diaries and 2008’s Honeysongs), is the long-time host of the Americana Honors and Awards Show, and recently took up hosting duties for the Tennessee Shines radio show. Earle and McMurtry will always get a few votes for their outspokenness and activism. I’ll be shocked, however if Helm doesn’t win this one.

We’ve heard from Helm and McMurtry… here’s a taste of what Earle and Lauderdale were up to over the past year.

Jim Lauderdale: Honey Suckle Honey Pie (Buy Album)
Steve Earle: Sparkle & Shine (Buy Album)

The final group I’ll look at here is Duo/Group of the Year. The nominees are…

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
The Drive-By Truckers
Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, & Fats Kaplan
The Avett Brothers

Judging by the fact that Plant & Krauss were also nominated for Album and Song of the Year, I’d say this award is theirs to lose. The Truckers put out another stellar album this January called Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. My favorite Trucker, Jason Isbell, left the group before the recording of this album, but the Truckers still deliver with another epic effort. Kane Welch Kaplan continues the trio’s signature sound of bluesy acoustic folk. The Avett Brothers didn’t release anything new during the nomination period, but they continue to tour relentlessly with their high energy show, pushing the limits of their sound and bringing their music to new audiences. The Avetts won this award last year, the first year the award was presented.

The Drive-By Truckers: Two Daughters & a Beautiful Wife (Buy Album)
Kane, Welch, Kaplan: That’s What I’ve Got (Buy Album)
The Avett Brothers: Tear Down the House (Buy Album)

There you go… the nominees for this year’s Americana Honors and Awards Show. The show will take place September 18th at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The ceremony will be broadcast live on XM Satellite Radio’s X-Country Channel.