Archive for the Son Volt Category

Now Entering the Terrible Twos

Posted in Son Volt on July 6, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

This is the week A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz celebrates two years on the scene, and I honestly can’t believe I’ve kept it up for this long. I certainly didn’t know how much work it was going to be when I started it. If I had, I might not have done it. Writing was never something that I ever particularly enjoyed throughout my academic career, and I had no reason to think that would ever change. Somehow… something about this whole blog thing has turned me around.

Every now and then I go back and read some of the stuff I posted in the earlier days of the site to get a little taste of nostalgia. Doing that also helps to remind me of what music had me excited at a certain point of time.
A look back to the site’s first month in July of 2008, actually reminds me of a fairly exciting time in my musical life. I got to attend concerts by John Hiatt, Tift Merritt, and The Old 97’s. I saw my high school friend and his upstart bluegrass band play Late Night with Conan O’Brien. I shared my thoughts on a couple of Essential Albums and fell in love with a couple of new ones. I got my first music submission to the site directly from an artist. I even made a case for The Dixie Chicks to become the flag bearers for the Americana genre.
Mostly, I just fumbled around trying to find my voice and figure out what exactly it was I wanted to do with this site. It was a time before the IFPI and international copyright infringement threats. It was a lot of fun… and it still is.
Things may slow down a bit here over the next month or so as I deal with real life for a while. My wife and I are expecting our first child in a few short weeks, and I suspect it will take me some time to find a proper balance between my jobs (plural), my wife, my child, my dog, and this place. I’m also looking to move the blog to a new host… I’m sure that will eat up some time.
This post may seem a tad self-indulgent, but it’s really just to share how much I’ve enjoyed the last two years writing this site and how much I look forward to wherever it might be headed.
Today, I’d like to share a track from Son Volt’s 1995 album Trace. Trace was the first album I reviewed in this space and, in many ways, the inspiration for this site. I originally wanted to call this place Searching for a Truer Sound from the song “Windfall” until I realized that name was essentially already taken. This song was written by Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones, and appears as the album closing track on Trace.
Son Volt: Mystifies Me (Buy Album)

Posted in Hindu Love Gods, R.E.M., Son Volt on October 28, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Interesting heads up on something I learned about yesterday from USA Today’s Pop Candy blog

MTV has just launched a website that lets you watch all the videos you used to be able to watch on the network itself. You can find the site at

Here are a couple of samples of what you might find there…

Son Volt: Drown

Son Volt MTV Music

R.E.M.: Orange Crush

R.E.M. MTV Music

Hindu Love Gods: Raspberry Beret

Hindu Love Gods MTV Music

The Players: Brad Rice

Posted in Brad Rice, Johnny Cash, Ryan Adams, Son Volt, The Backsliders, Tift Merritt, Whiskeytown on August 13, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Here at A Fifty Cent Lighter & a Whiskey Buzz, I talk about a lot of different artists, but usually the posts are geared toward the artist whose name appears on the CD or the front man for the band. That is to say a post about Alejandro Escovedo will deal mostly with Alejandro Escovedo while a post on the Jayhawks will focus mainly on Marc Olson & Gary Louris.

But what about the players behind the front man? The ones who make the music but stay out of the spotlight?

For every Johnny Cash… there is a Luther Perkins. Perkins’ guitar is just as important to the sound of the early Johnny Cash records as the voice of the Man in Black himself, but Perkins doesn’t get nearly as much recognition. The records don’t say Cash & Perkins… they just say Cash. There are moments, however, where Luther Perkins got a chance to shine.

Johnny Cash: Luther Played the Boogie (Buy Album)

It is in the spirit of Luther Perkins that I introduce what I hope will become a semi-regular feature here at AFCLAAWB. “The Players” will take a look at the musicians behind the music… the ones who don’t quite get as much attention as men and women with the microphones. With that in mind… I present guitarist Brad Rice.

In the mid-nineties, Brad Rice and his guitar joined a band out of North Carolina called The Backsliders, a roots-rock outfit that blended a nice bit of country twang with their guitar fueled rock. Their debut album, 1997’s Throwing Rocks at the Moon, was produced by Pete Anderson (Dwight Yoakam) and drew favorable reviews. Rice shines on several songs, including the title track and “Paper Doll World.”

The Backsliders: Throwing Rocks at the Moon (Buy Album)
The Backsliders: Paper Doll World (Buy Album)

After leaving the Backsliders, Rice hooked up with fellow North Carolinian Ryan Adams and worked on a few projects with him. He was featured on Whiskeytown’s 2001 release Pneumonia and stayed with Adams after that band’s demise. He was a part of Adams’ band for the second Pink Heart sessions in July 2001 (not to be confused with the first Pink Heart sessions that took place in December 2000 with John Paul Keith). Those sessions were never fully released, but one of the tracks, “Nuclear,” showed up on Adams’ odds and ends collection Demolition.

Whiskeytown: Crazy About You (Buy Album)
Whiskeytown: Don’t Wanna Know Why (Buy Album)
Ryan Adams: Nuclear (Buy Album)

(Payton over at This Mornin’ I am Born Again has more info about “Crazy About You” here and more about the first Pink Heart sessions with John Paul Keith here.)

As everyone does… Rice eventually left Ryan Adams’ band as well. This time he hooked up with Tift Merritt and joined her touring band shortly after the release of 2004’s Tambourine. This was my first real introduction to Rice as I saw him play with Merritt several times at The Mercy Lounge in Nashville and the Mountain Stage in Charleston, WV. While he never showed up on any of Merritt’s studio recordings, Rice was a vital part of her band for a couple of years and appeared on two live recordings. A DVD released by Austin City Limits in 2007, and a hard to find 2005 release called Home is Loud. Here’s Brad Rice rocking live with Tift Merritt.

Tift Merritt: Neighborhood (Live) (Buy Album)
Tift Merritt: I am Your Tambourine (Live) (Buy Album)

When Jay Farrar assembled his new Son Volt line-up before recording 2005’s Okemah and the Melody of Riot, he came calling on Rice to provide some muscle on guitar. Most of the songs on the album are guitar heavy, and this is probably the best chance Rice has had to truly flex his muscles since his days with The Backsliders. That is no more evident than on the songs “Afterglow 61” and “Who.” Rice also appeared on Son Volt’s 2007 release The Search, but nowhere on that album does he get the same workout he did on Okemah.

Son Volt: Afterglow 61 (Buy Album)
Son Volt: Who (Buy Album)

These days, Brad Rice is making the big bucks on tour with Keith Urban, but hopefully one day he’ll return to the world of Americana. Until then, you can find out more about Rice at his website

Essential Albums: Trace by Son Volt

Posted in Essential Albums, Jay Farrar, Son Volt on July 10, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

When I was first kicking around the idea of starting a blog I always thought my first post would be about this album. Post #3 still ain’t too shabby.

Trace was the first album released by Son Volt… the band Jay Farrar formed after the split of his previous band, Uncle Tupelo. While in Uncle Tupelo, Farrar and his band mates Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn blended the heartfelt lyrics of Leadbelly and The Carter Family with the punk rock fury of Iggy Pop and The Minutemen. The group recorded four albums together before infighting between Farrar and Tweedy led to a split following the release of the band’s 1992 album Anodyne. Tweedy formed the band Wilco while Farrar, Heidorn, and brothers Jim and Dave Boquist rose from Uncle Tupelo’s ashes with a project called Son Volt in 1994.

In 1995, the band released Trace… a strong effort that perfectly blurred the lines between country and rock and still stands as the Masterpiece of the 90’s Alt-country movement.

The album begins with “Windfall.” An acoustic country number that transports the listener to a deserted stretch of road on a “trail spent with fear.” The narrator is alone on the highway with nothing but his troubles and his prayers for the wind to take them away. Somewhere in the night, he finds a radio station with a heavenly sound to keep him going to the next stop.

The last verse and chorus:

Switching it over to AM
Searching for a truer sound
Can’t recall the call letters
Steel guitar and settle down
Catching an all-night station somewhere in Louisiana
It sounds like 1963, but for now it sounds like heaven

May the wind take your troubles away
May the wind take your troubles away
Both feet on the floor, two hands on the wheel,
May the wind take your troubles away

Incidentally, the name of this blog would have been “Searching for a Truer Sound,” but it was already taken. I also heavily considered “Steel Guitar and Settle Down.”

After “Windfall,” the album alternates between fiery country rock and more sombre acoustic numbers before closing with “Mystifies Me”… a bluesy country cover that originally appeared on Ron Wood’s (Rolling Stones) 1974 solo album. The rockers all feature catchy guitar riffs and driving beats. Jim Boquist is usually ready with a nice harmony vocal as well.

I didn’t really discover Son Volt or Jay Farrar until sometime around 2003 when I downloaded the following two songs from a file-sharing network that I used at the time. Within a couple of weeks, I had bought almost everything Farrar had recorded to that point. These songs, and this album, had that much of an impact on me. Jay Farrar has the Real Ultimate Power.

Son Volt: Windfall (Buy Album)
Son Volt: Drown (Buy Album)