Archive for the Porterdavis Category

Top 20 of 2009: 21-19

Posted in Charlie Robison, Porterdavis, Samantha Crain, Top 20 of 2009 on December 15, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

My decade list has been posted. The Bird List has been compiled. Now it’s time to look back at this year’s new releases and attempt to list my favorite albums of 2009.

It’s important to note that these are my favorite albums and not necessarily a critical review of the best of the year. There’s a lot of stuff out there that I didn’t hear this year, a lot of things I enjoyed but didn’t earn favorite status, and a few critical darlings that just flat didn’t do it for me. This is simply a list of the 20 albums that I enjoyed the most this year and the ones I kept coming back to.

A couple of notes before we get into it…

I’m doing 20 instead of ten this year because that’s the size of the list I came up with for The Bird List (A collective effort by 30 Americana and Roots bloggers to create a master list of the most essential albums of 2009). In fact, this list will have 21 albums because it includes one album that was not on my entry for The Bird List. This album’s inclusion on the list is based on my bending of the definition of “2009” in order to make it fit. I’ll tell you more when we get to that spot.

The write ups for each album will also be a bit shorter than last year. I’ve already written about most of the albums on this list at least once this year. Where I can, I’ll provide links to the original posts as I progress through the list. The mp3 links in the original posts will be inactive, but I will provide active mp3 links for each album in the new posts.

Ok… Let’s get started…

#21. Porterdavis by Porterdavis

I was first introduced to this trio from Austin this summer when they sent me a copy of their self-titled studio debut produced by the wonderful Gurf Morlix. When I noticed they were headed to Knoxville in September to play the Blue Plate Special and a few other shows, I gave the album a few spins and really came to like what I heard.

The band had a unique sound that was built around the vocals and guitars of lead singer Daniel Barrett and filled out nicely by Simon Wallace on harmonica and Mike Meadows on the Black Swan Drum (an instrument of his own invention). Simon’s harmonica heavily ties the band’s sound to the blues while also taking some cues from folk and alternative country. The lead track on the album, “Smack You Back,” showcases all of this while also dropping some lyrical references to classic rock. Here’s the studio version of the track along with another version played live at the WDVX studios when the guys visited with me in September. You can also listen to their entire visit here.

Porterdavis: Smack You Back (Buy Album)
Porterdavis: Smack You Back (Live @ WDVX) (Buy Album)

#20. Beautiful Day by Charlie Robison

My original review of this album was one of the first posts removed by the blog police this summer, but that won’t stop me from including it here as one of my favorites of 2009.

As I said previously, Charlie has always been my favorite of the two Robison brothers. This album goes a long way toward explaining why. Charlie always seemed to have a bit more of an edge than his brother Burce, and that shows through clearly here on songs like “Yellow Blues” and “Nothin’ Better to Do.” Charlie’s music has always seemed a little more carefree and wild than his brother’s.

That’s why it’s so striking that the true successes of this album come when Charlie lets his more vulnerable side shine through. He recorded this album in the aftermath of his divorce from long time wife Emily Erwin of the Dixie Chicks. The heartbreak is palpable in the pleading “Reconsider” and the mournful “Down Again.” But he refuses to give in to the failures of the past, and instead turns his eyes to the future on tracks like “Feeling Good.” Despite the emotional scar at the center of the album, Charlie never seems defeated by the circumstances of his life. He sees the Beautiful Day on the other side of his pain and lets the light shine through.

Charlie Robison: Beautiful Day (Buy Album)

#19. Songs in the Night by Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers

Samantha Crain is a young songwriter from Oklahoma who turned a lot of heads this year with her full length debut Songs in the Night. On this release, Samantha displays a mature songwriting style and manages to create her own individual sound while still allowing each song to have a life and feel of its own. She is able to convincingly pull off the subdued “Long Divison” just as easily as the up tempo “Devil’s in Boston.”

Samantha appeared on Tennessee Shines in October and also visited me in the studio before the show. She played a couple of songs for me in the studio and shared a great story about how an email to the Avett Brothers helped to jump start her career. It was great to have such a promising young artist in the studio to share her story and her music. As much as her songs spoke to me on the album, it was amazing to have her share them with me one on one in the WDVX studio. Here voice is truly a unique instrument and one I was glad to have the opportunity to experience up close. You can listen to my entire interview with Samantha Crain here and check out a studio track and a live performance below.

Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers: Songs in the Night (Buy Album)
Samantha Crain: Get the Fever Out (Live @ WDVX) (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)

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.

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)

Porterdavis: Live on the Blue Plate Special

Posted in Porterdavis on September 14, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Here’s another heads up for a chance to hear some great live music over the airwaves. If you tune in to WDVX or today (Monday) at noon (Eastern), you’ll be treated to a fine bluesy roots stew served up by Austin’s Porterdavis.

Porterdavis is actually a trio of songwriters brought together by a shared love of blues and folk music and songwriters such as Townes Van Zandt and Muddy Waters. Daniel Barrett handles the guitars, Simon Wallace blows a Chicago-style blues harp, and Mike Meadows provides the percussion. All three write. All three sing.

The band has its origins in Boston, where Barrett and Meadows first started busking in the Porter Square and Davis Square subway stations. The subway stations, they say, provided them with a pressure free environment where they could freely experiment with their sound. The sound they eventually discovered was a rhythmic form of blues that is given a strong swagger by Barrett’s growling lead vocals and Meadows’ inventive beats that utilize any number of percussion instruments from around the world. Wallace and his harmonica completed the trio when he joined up in 2004 after Barrett and Meadows moved to Austin.
Their new, self-titled, album was released earlier this month and features an impressive collection of original tunes (and a fine Muddy Waters cover). The album is produced by Gurf Morlix and features a guest appearance by Eliza Gilkyson. The company they keep is a strong statement to the legitimacy of this young group’s talent.
Please take the time to get to know them today on the Blue Plate Special. They’ll be playing a twin-bill with Nashville songwriter Samantha Harlow.
Here’s the lead track from their new album along with the guest shot from Eliza Gilkyson.
Porterdavis: Smack You Back (Buy Album)
Porterdavix: Carter’s Tune (Buy Album)
P.S.: If you want to know more about the Blue Plate Special… just go here and check out the upcoming calendar of shows. There are some great shows coming up, including… Sarah Siskind Sept. 17, Sons of Bill Sept. 21, Amy Speace Oct. 1, and Jill Andrews of the everybodyfields Oct. 9. The shows are always free to attend and are broadcast live every weekday at noon (Eastern) on