Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 E2TG - Earie Awards - Mega Video Playlist Wrap Up

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I did not get a chance to post videos for every one of the "Earie" Awards.  So, I decided to close out 2015 and the 1st Annual "Earie" Awards with a Video Playlist.  This should help tide you over until I come back next week to kick off 2016.  55 Songs in the playlist.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Great and Powerful So and So Mix

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Here we are!  The final regularly scheduled shuffle of 2015. (I'm not ruling out a shuffle tomorrow but no promises).  But first, we have one final bit of business to wrap up the debut edition of the "Earie" Awards.  Remember: The "Earies" it sounds strange, but it's not really.  The final award is the Golden "Earie" Award (aka the E2TG Artist of the Year). 

Since we have a bunch of new readers, I thought I would indulge in a brief history of the award.

I began writing the blog in May 2011. That year, I named a "Band of the Week" every week.  As the end of the year approached, I thought it would be fun to have a Readers Poll to select a "Band of the Year".  So, I created an on-line poll that included all of the Bands of the Week.  Being new to on-line polls, the poll was wide open meaning you could vote as many times as you wanted.  The polling was spirited and fun with several artists really getting into it.  At the end of the poll, The Mobbs (a UK band) flooded the ballot box and were named Band of the Year.  Howard Rabach's band Ubiquity Machine finished second and Don Ryan from New Jersey finished third.

Because the poll was so much fun (and brought a lot of page views to the blog), for 2012 I decided to have a Band of the Month poll - which I did.  At the end of 2012, all of the Bands of the Month plus some "Wildcards" competed for Band of Year.  The now defunct but totally awesome Skeletons in the Piano from upstate New York were the second Band of the Year.

By 2013, I had kind of grown tired of the polls. It seemed like some artists were more into it than others plus I kind of decided it was a distraction from what was really important - being the music.  When 2013 year end came up, to me there was one obvious choice for Band of the Year.  The End Men, of Brooklyn, remain to this day the most tagged artist on #E2TG. Beyond that they are really wonderful people.  They had a big 2013 and (as I expected) they had an even bigger 2014. 

In 2014, once again the choice was obvious.  Darrin Bradbury emerged from a Wal-Mart parking lot and began to conquer Nashville. He dominated Ear to the Ground - at one point I think there was at least one DB song in the shuffle everyday for almost a month.  In 2014, I probably saw Darrin play life on average 2 or 3 times a week.   Also, as expected, in the year that followed (2015), he continued to excel and made me very proud to have him as my Artist of the Year (I had to rename it because he wasn't a band).

Which brings us to the 2015:

The choice this year became pretty clear to me early in the year.  my anticipation of Jon Latham's debut album was so high.  But, anticipation does not equal awards.  Real Bad News managed to exceed my very high expectations. My review can be read HERE.  And the album alone is almost enough to make Jon a lock for Artist of the Year.  But, there were several great albums released in the past 12 months.  But wait, there is more!  Jon is one of the kindest people I know. Some people may say that has nothing to do with music, but I would disagree.  Grant it, there is long list of really amazing artists who happened to be assholes, however, in the case of Jon Latham, his kindness comes through in just about every song.  Beyond that, Jon's knowledge and interest in a wide variety of music is almost encyclopedic.  Again, at least in the case of Jon Latham, that depth of knowledge is, I think, crucial to his craft as a songwriter. 

As 2015 rolled along, people began to take notice of Jon Latham.  The Sin City vs. Guitar Town Eastside Throwdown was a turning point.  Jon Latham backed Aaron Lee Tasjan in one of the most electrifying sets I have seen all year.  Playing acoustic guitar and singing bgv, people took notice.  Since then, Jon has opened shows for Aaron Lee and for the legendary Malcolm Holcombe.  Real Bad News has garnered international acclaim and made some best of 2015.

You have one more chance to see the 2015 Artist of the Year in 2015. Jon will once again be joining the incredible Aaron Lee Tasjan in an opening slot for Christ Knight at the Exit/In on New Year's Eve.   On Monday, you can catch 2014 Artist of the Year Darrin Bradbury as he kicks of his residency at The Basement East.  2015 Artist of the Year Jon Latham is on the bill for that night.  I, for one, am excited!

Basically, those who get it, will understand right away why Jon Latham is my Artist of the Year.  If you don't get it, check out the video playlist below and you probably will.  Some of Jon's best moments (plus if you look closely in one video  you will see the jean shorts clad leg of 2014 winner Darrin Bradbury).  A couple of bonus clips that I came across: one is a clip I had heard about but not seen, Jon doing a song that does not often make it to his playlist these days.  The touching and tender, "Put It in Your Butt" plus so that we didn't end on that note, a rare clip of the Latham Family Band doing a Dawes cover.

Congratulations Jon!  Terry Rickards take note: 2013 Band of the Year, The End Men played the 2014 Post-Americana all-day marathon show at The Basement, 2014 Artist of the Year, Darrin Bradbury, played the 2015 Post-Americana all-day marathon show at The Basement East.  I'm just sayin'  American Fest will be here before we know it.

Now the last shuffle of the year.... a short commute and walk, and some longish songs means only 5 songs in the shuffle

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday Morning Music Shuffle - Celestial Beer Mix

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Hopefully, Lemmy is having a celestial beer somewhere... RIP

DISCLAIMER:  For one of the first times (if not the first times) in E2TG history, I actually composed part of this post in advance.  Over the long holiday weekend, I took time to go over the "Earies" and tried to figure out a game plan for my last three posts of the year (two "Earies" and Artist of the Year).  When I figured out what I wanted to do for today's final "Earie" before the AofTY, I knew it was going to be time consuming and so I wrote the next bit in advance.

FURTHER DISCLAIMER:  Both yesterday's and today's shuffles produced head smacking moments of remembering artist deserving of "Earies".  I can only beg forgiveness for any and all omissions.  Despite how it may appear, I do most of #E2TG posts by the seat of my pants. *I know shocking* and to boot, I often have a very disorganized mind.  It's part of my charm...   Anyway, let's jump right into the last "Earie" before the "Golden Earie"....

(this next bit was written on Sunday and editing since then)

Now, we have reached the penultimate E2TG 2015 Award.  Tomorrow, I will unveil the 2015 Artist of the Year.  As I frequently write and say, I find it very fortuitous that through a series of unfortunate events that I would have never volunarily chosen to end up in the place I am at the moment I arrived.  Arrived without travelling… sure, but it has been a journey.  Finding myself smack in the middle of the East Nashville music community in the middle part of the second decade of the 21st Century, I am keenly aware of what a moment I am experiencing.  You might think I would be jaded or disillusioned by now, and you would be partially correct.  I have been jaded and disillusioned many times, and certainly if you look for them or focus on them, there are plenty of reasons to be jaded and disillusioned by the state of music.  But, there are causes for hope.  The obvious examples that people will mention - Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson… sure but it goes way deeper and way beyond that.  The level of excellence here is incredible. Songwriters, guitar players, bassists, drummers, pedal steel players, photographers, music writers, bookers…. the list goes on,  

Now, do not get me wrong East Nashville (or maybe more precisely the other side of Nashville) is not a perfect situation.  I have made off-hand (kind of) joking comments about the Nashville Conundrum - referring to the sheer volume of incredible volume of awesome live music and the impossible choices this creates.  Choices between two or more shows going on at the same time, choices between going out or staying in to get my own work done or to rest and recover. For a music fan, it is an excellent problem to have - for musicians - not always.  It is, I think, a pretty well known fact that some of our community’s best spend a significant amount of time on the road because that is where there is money to be made.  Nashville/East Nashville is home base and the spirit of collaboration and community keeps them coming back, but shows that would be events in another city are easily overlooked or passed over here in Nashville.   

I do not propose or make any claim to a solution to the monetary issues facing the musicians these days. It seems to me to be a complicated equation. The amount of artistic freedom and autonomy made possible by advancements in technology vs. the increasing difficulty of getting music fans to spend money on independent music.  Honestly, it can be discouraging even for someone not directly impacted by it.  But, for me it just drives me harder to spread the word about music of substance that needs to be heard more widely and supported.

All that wordiness to say, I am giving the final “Earie” before Artist of the Year to the community of artists who have become a part of my life over the last year and a half.  I am going to call out a few people by name, and ommissions are inevitable.  In a hypothetic sense, this last “Earie” will be represented by a giant sized “Ear” right smack dab in the middle of 5 Points. You know, that weird intersection of 11th and Woodlawn and those other streets.  

1.  Aaron Lee Tasjan -  I had to single out Aaron Lee for reasons which should become obvious if they are are not already. I had heard about Aaron Lee Tasjan before I actually heard him. The first time I heard him play guitar was on the same day that I met Darrin Bradbury.  He was backing up Tim Easton at The 5 Spot.  Later, he did a residency at that bar, and I finally got to hear him do his own songs.  To say, I was blown away would be an understatement.  In fact, I think it took me some time to fully grasp how amazing he was as a songwriter.  His mixture of humor, cultural references, and emotional resonance is incomparable. Over time, I learned more about his history and got to meet him and found him to be a really nice guy. The other thing he is - which to me typifies this community, is generous. In 2015, as he began to garner more and more (well deserved) attention, ALT (as he is known) seemed to work even harder at lifting up his fellow musicians and writers.  His album, In the Blazes, was one of my most highly anticipated releases and yet it still managed to surprise me.  It is a rock and roll record, it is a alt-folk record, it is a alt-country record - it shows off his abilities as a songwriter and as a guitarist.

2.  Tim Easton - the mentor and a driving force behind the Campfire Propaganda movement.  His experience and wisdom has helped to push these younger songwriters forward, and their influence seems to have revitalized this long-time East Nashville presence.  The celebrate his 100th published song, Easton began posting a song a day for 100 days.  He is at the tail end of this marathon project.  

3.  Zach Schmidt - One of the brightest lights in the East Nashville community. Schmidt has an album in the can that will be released in 2016.  He has all the attributes of a classic male country music star, and his songs manage to deftly walk the line between tradition and innovation.  Watch for Zach Schmidt in 2016.

4.  Nellie Marie Clay - Originally from Oklahoma, Clay made her way to Nashville after spending a few years in the far reaches of Alaska. Like Zach Schmidt, she brings a new energy to traditional sounding roots music.  Her distinctive drawl and the twanginess of her music made her a force to be reckoned with. Her new album I Never Did What I Shoulda Done is excellent,

5.  Megan Palmer - Besides being a go to side musician for the likes of Darrin Bradbury, Tim Easton and others, Palmer is an excellent songwriter in her own right.  Her performace of one her best songs, “Knife Twister” backed by an all-star backing chorus that included Julie Christensen, Nellie Marie Clay and others was a highlight of the year.  She has a new album ready to go in 2016.  It will be worth your while to check it out.

6. Brian Wright - Probably a half dozen of my favorite musical moments of 2015 involve Brian Wright.  A powerhouse guitar player, an unequaled songwriter, and a supporter of his fellow musicians.  If you ever get the chance to see Brian Wright live - in any configuration, do not miss out!

7. Carl Anderson - Anderson came to Nashville by way of Charlottesville, VA.  His album, Risk of Loss, is one of the best of 2015.  Such amazing songs.

8.   Other songwriters:  Andrew Leheay, Lilly Hiatt, Tim Carroll, Tommy Womack, Kiely Schlessinger, Luella Wood, Bob Lewis, Allen Thompson, Russell Thompson, Amelia White, Adrian+Meredith Krygowski, Dave Coleman, Ariel Bui, Yosi Mesbah and so many more.  Covering music that can be described as country, alt-country, folk-country, not country, roots rock, alt-folk, rock, blues-rock, jam band….etc.  I tend to shy away from putting labels on music (though I understand that for artists it is a necessity sometimes). I think of it as excellent music.  Traditionally, Nashville has been known as a town of songwriters, and even though the quality of writing on “the Row” can be called into the question - that tradition lives on around campfires, on porches, and in clubs around the city but concentrated in East Nashville. (And by reference, I include some of the amazing writers who have already won “Earie” Awards)

9. The musicians - once you have a song, the next step is to bring that song to life. And, although that can be done by just the writer and an acoustic guitar, when the song is developed and augemented by the help of some of the best musicians in the world, the results can be amazing.  Many of the writers I mentioned are also amazing musicians who frequently back up other writers  (Brian Wright, Megan Palmer, and ALT stand out).  When you go out and hear music in Nashville, one thing you begin to notice is some of the same faces showing up again and again playing behind a very diverse mix of musical styles. Justin Amaral, Aaron Shafer-Haiss, Steve Ebe, Raun Shultz, David Strayer, Daniel Seymour, Cameron Carrus,  Adam Kurtz,  and many many more. Some of the above named front their own projects and some do not, but they are all part of the lifeblood that makes this new Music City what it is.

10.  The non-musicians - Musicians and songwriters are the reason this scene exists but it would not run if it were for the photographers, managers, bookers, writers, publicists. and behind the scenes folks. I want to call out Stacie Huckaba, Mary Sack, Terry Rickards, Sue Havlish, Karen Leipziger (who is also a songwriter and musician as I recently learned), John McCollum. Skip Anderson, Heather Lose, Randy Fox, and many more.

11.  Bands - I should probably mentioned some of the amazing bands who call Nashville home. Covering an incredible diverse range of syles and sounds,  Year of October, Dogs of Oz, Turbo Fruits, Blackfoot Gypsies, Humming House, Benchmarks, Fendrick and Peck, and many more.

2016 is going to be an amazing year, and the “Earies” will be back for their second season.  But, I’m not quite done with 2015.  The Artist of the Year for 2015 will be revealed tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

back to live posting

Now for the penultimate regularly scheduled shuffle of 2015!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Morning Music Shuffle - The Pills Ain't Working Mix

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I am back after an extended time away...  When I last posted, storms were on the horizon for Nashville and that appears to be the case today six days later. In fact, as I look out the window, the rain has started.

This is always an odd week.  Christmas is over, New Years Eve is still a few days away. There is a sense of winding down of the old year and anticipation of what is to come.  In my office, there are many people out this week.  The overall pace of life seems just a wee bit slower.  But, here at E2TG, we keep pushing to the end.  We have more "Earies" to hand out and more shuffles to be shared.

The "Connections" Award. 

The premise:  Although, I don't always explicitly state it, one of the central themes of Ear to the Ground has always been the thread of connectivity that runs throughout all music.  The Shuffle (which to me is more than random) can often serve to highlight those connections. When songs that seem to be incongruous are placed together, they can often serve to reveal previously unseen connections. These connections come in all different forms and can be difficult to explain.  Long time readers may recall a post I made a few years ago when I shuffled together the then new records by Imperial Rooster and Black Jake and the Carnies.  These two bands came from different regions of the U.S. and were not even aware of each others existence but I found connections.

The Award:  So for this award, I thought about artists/bands who have come into my consciousness who have no visible connection but who speak to me in very similar ways despite their obvious differences.

1.  Tim Lee 3/Bark - A long time favorite of #E2TG, I first encountered TL3 via Couch by Couchwest.  They are based in Knoxville and have roots in Jackson, MS. As I have gotten to know Tim and Susan Lee, I have discovered their deep connection to much of the music I listened to growing up.  To illustrate, I found out not too long ago, that Tim Lee produced or co-produced Will and the Bushmen's Gawk album which has been a favorite of mine for a long, long time.  In 2015, Tim and Susan celebrated their vinyl anniversary (33 1/3 years) with the release of a new Tim Lee 3 album (331/3) and the very first EP from Bark.  I was lucky enough to see both configurations live in 2015.  The music of both bands manages to sound both fresh and familiar to me.

2. Susan James - A couple of years ago, I got the opportunity to hear and write about Susan's then new album, Driving Toward the Sun.  Susan is based in Southern California. At the time, I saw where D.J. Bonebrake of X (one of my all-time favorite bands) had acted as emcee for a CD release show for an earlier album.   In 2015, Susan James released Sea Glass which marked a departure from the Americana feel of her previous two releases.  Sea Glass is a wonderful example of California pop music.  Several times on the album, the Paisley Underground sound is evoked very effectively.  It is an album I want to hear over and over. 

Just to put too fine a point on my premise, Tim and Susan Lee have some very deep and personal connections to the original Paisley Underground scene of the 1980s which is evoked so well on Susan James latest album.

On to the shuffle:  I am going to be shuffling from the "Featured  Music" playlist for the three days I am at work this week.  Trying to get through some of 2015's featured music to clear some room for the many new releases expected in early 2016.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday Morning Festivus Music Shuffle - Pretty Girl Dancing to Jugband Music Mix

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Happy Festivus!  Stay tuned for the traditional airing of grievances and feats of strength.

You know, even though I have been featuring some holiday/Christmas/Winter/Red Cup themed music for the last few days, I honestly have not been in the spirit of the season.  Maybe it the fact that it is almost 70 in Nashville and tornados are possible later today or maybe it is just the realities of current life.  However, last night, I attended the Ornaments Christmas Show (it was actually their 14th performance this season) which featured the music of Vince Guaraldi from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  The night also featured Holiday music from Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers  and a Tuba Christmas.  There was so much great music and great vibes present that I found myself- wholly against my will caught up in the Spirit. 

It also helps that today will be my last day of work for four days and I get to leave early today!!!!

The "Earies" continue with the "Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain" Award.

The premise:  I don't think I've ever been to the state of Oklahoma (my parents lived there a short time before I was born). And other than the musical and some college football games, I've never given it much thought. (no offense - I really don't think much at all about anything).  In 2015, however, it seems like I kept hearing awesome music from artists who call Oklahoma home. 

The Award:

1.  I would be severely remiss if I did not give an "Earie" Award to John Moreland.  His album, High on Tulsa Heat, was a break-through and definitely among the top tier of best albums of the year.  Throughout the year, I was fortunate enough see him perform live a few time, and each and every time, he managed to give me goosebumps and stir my heart and soul.  At Americana Fest, Moreland managed to mostly silence a packed out Mercy Lounge and garnered a very rare AMA Showcase encore.  

2.  Dan Martin. I met Dan Martin at a David Olney residency at The 5 Spot earlier this year, and I got hold of his CD Hoka Hey, and it quickly became one of my favorite albums of 2015.

3. Levi Parham and John Calvin Abney.  These two amazing singer-songwriters blew me away when I saw them perform during the Campfire Propaganda residency at The 5 Spot.  Actually, I kind of feel like their is a definite psychic link between Oklahoma and East Nashville. 

4.  Samantha Crain:  I saw Samantha Crain perform as part of an incredible round at the Bluebird Café earlier this year.  She combines excellent songs with a unique voice.  There was some hope that she would make it back to Nashville this month or so, but it did not pan out.  Hopefully, we will see her here again in 2016.

Next, we wrap up our Red Cup Season Playlist!  Best to everyone no matter what you celebrate and if you are struggling with anything during this season remember you are not alone. Peace!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday Morning Red Cup Season Music Shuffle - Shepherd's Quake Mix

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We are reaching the end of the 2015.  After today's post, we only have three more "Earies" to award before the crowning of the 2015 E2TG Artist of the Year.  The anticipation is palpable.

One of the many perks of writing Ear to the Ground, is that I get the opportunity to hear and write about awesome music which otherwise may have slipped past me. So, today's "Earie" Award is going to go out to the some of the best of that category from 2015.

1.  The Poorhouse Says are an Americana/Indie-Folk/Folk-Rock band from St. Louis.  They released As Patterns Go, and I was fortunate enough to get to hear it and tell you folks about it. 

2.  Broken Guru are a Alt-Rock band from New York City.  They released Bent Up Halo earlier this year.  The album injected a refreshing burst of hard alternative rock into our shuffle.

3.  The Hidden Agendas are a Pennsylvania rock and roll band who came to my attention is 2015.  Although, I have only been able to feature one or two of their songs, they made a big impression, and I look forward to more music ahead.

4.  The Naddiks -  This band from Canberra, Australia could have easily been included in the International "Earie" category, but then I could have had to do some heavy-duty geographic research to figure out if Canberra or Christchurch, New Zealand was further away.  And nobody wants that.  The Naddiks combine blistering, upbeat rock and roll with positive lyrics which are much appreciated in this day and age which can be a rather negative place.  They released 21CB (21st Century Boy) this year, and more recently, they just released an anti-bullying single called, "Stop, Listen, and Love"

Moving on - we jump back into  our holiday music shuffle with a very special edition....

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Morning Red Cup Season Music Shuffle - Grandma Otter Mix

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I have to just admit right now that I'm really not feeling it today. Whatever "it" is.  The approaching holiday with everything surrounding it, the fact that this is the shortest day of the year, and that fact that it is a grey and rainy day here in Nashville...   But, I will press onward...  rest assured...

The "Earies" are getting down to the wire.  Our last six awards are forthcoming. It is getting difficult to decide which award to post.  Do I save one for right toward the end or do I go ahead and post it now... who have I forgotten... what should I call this or that award... but I don't really have time for all that existential overthinking...

Consider this the counter-point to the "All the Young Dudes" award - kind of... I will call it the "Southern Women Showcase"  Award focusing on some of the excellent music I came across this year that happened to come from female artists who either live in or originated the southern part of the United States) (or both)....

1.  Tiffany Huggins Grant - A Jonquil Child from Smyrna, Georgia (now a Nashville resident). Tiffany released here stunning album, Jonquil Child early this year, and it serves as an excellent testimony to her extraordinary vocal abilities and her strength as a songwriter.  The album was produced and features guitar work from fellow "Earie" winner - Mark Robinson.

2. Amy Black - Although she recently relocated from Boston to the Nashville area, Amy Black grew up near (but apart from) the music mecca of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.   Her recent album, The Muscle Shoals Sessions includes classic and lesser known tracks recorded in that fertile ground - plus a few original compositions inspired by recording and being around that hallowed ground.

3. Angela Easterling - Hailing from South Carolina, Angela Easterling released the amazing, Common Law Wife this year.  The album is a showcase of her amazing abilities  as a singer/songwriter.  Coincidently (or whatever) both Easterling's album and Amy Black's album feature the guitar work of Nashville icon, Will Kimbrough.  

I was fortunate enough to see all of these talented artists perform live during 2015, and I look forward to what they each have in store in the future.

We have three shuffles before Christmas... so let's have our second installment of the Red Cup Season Playlist shuffle.  Remember - I tried to pick a name for this playlist that could not possibly cause offense. Red Cup seemed like a pretty neutral thing....

Just as E2TG strives to cover music from as many different angles has possible, today's shuffle pretty much does the same with holiday music. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Featured Friday Morning Music Shuffle - Sharpest Marble Mix

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First off - ICYMI because I posted so late yesterday.  Here is the link to yesterday's shuffle and "Earie" Awards...

Today's "Earie" Award category is either called, "The Hall of Fame Part II" Award or the "E2TG Survivor Series" Award or something.  Over the 4 1/2 year history of E2TG, I have been fortunate to get to know and write about a ton of really awesome and talented artists.  As most people reading this know, making music and trying to be heard in 2015 is a challenging proposition. It is easy to get burned out or for more lucrative opportunities to take precedence.  This award is meant to recognize long time favorites of this blog who are still out there doing their thing and making vital and interesting music.

1.  Killing Kuddles - from Atlanta - Elwood "Killing" Kuddles first caught my attention a few years ago with his blending of punk and folk or folk and punk - which I hereby dub.. "Polk" (because "Funk" means something else).  In 2015, Kuddles released the Sinking Ship EP which pushed his signature sound forward.  I love his slightly twisted humor and the way his music makes me happy.  Very happily, I made a Black Friday purchase that included a Killing Kuddles t-shirt, stickers, patches, and buttons. 

2.  The Danbury Lie - originating from Connecticut, I think he's kind of a citizen of the world now.  The Danbury Lie holds the distinction of being the third most tagged band in E2TG history.  Like so many Connecticut artists, he is extremely prolific.  In 2015 alone, he released Scattered Moments of Connection, Choose Your Delusion, Shallow Cuts (kind of a Greatest Hits collection), and the DVD (with accompanying soundtrack) called Whispers to Oblivion.  And he is already at work on a new project schedule for early next year.  His music is unique and amazing. It is an interesting mix of experimental metal, out there folk, and something harder to define.  Whispers to Oblivion is a chronicle of his cross-country drive over the summer.  It is an amazing video which manages to give the viewer insight into The Danbury Lie's world.  I would recommend it even if I didn't make a voice-only cameo appearance.

3. Pony Boy - When I first came into contact with the music of Marchelle Bradanini - aka Pony Boy - she was in Los Angeles, and I was very impressed by both her songs and her incredible voice. Since then, she has partially relocated to East Nashville (she lives 1/2 time here and in L.A.), and she has begun to received some well deserved attention. Pony Boy released Blue Gold this year, and I have seen it mentioned on some best of lists already.  And now, she has an "Earie".

Our last featured Friday shuffle of 2015 is on deck....

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thursday Morning Music Shuffle - Adventure and Fun Mix

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This crazy time of year... Here I am posting this on a Thursday evening.  Circumstances, blah, blah, blah... Any way, let's get to it...

Last night, I had a blast - another great show at The Basement (the original one).  "Earie" Award winners, Richie Owens and  the Farm Bureau put on another outstanding show that included a version of "Can't Be Satisfied" featuring Richie Owens on the lap steel.  Bassist John Reed and stand-up drummer Brian O'Hanlon were in fine form.  I also got to see Saint Luke's Drifters for the first time.  They called their sound Rockified Country. Songs ranged from high energy rockers that brought to my mind the Scorchers to some very honky-tonkish country songs. Vocal duties were shared and each singer brought something unique to the band's sound.  I really enjoyed myself, and I hope to hear much more.

So, by my rough count, there will be seven more regular E2TG posts before the end of the year - not counting any weekend or holiday bonus posts.  My plan is to hand out "Earies" each of those days with Wednesday December 30, being reserved for the 5th Annual Ear to the Ground Artist of the Year. Which I will for the first time dub, the "Golden Earier" Award.

But, I am getting ahead of myself.  We have some "Earies" to give away today.

Prologue:  I have been having a really good time handing out these awards.  Even though the categories are sometimes a bit silly, the sentiment behind them is very real.  I really want to write about and honor artists who have made a big impression on my in 2015 (and before in some cases). I could have just made a list or handed out awards without giving them names, but really, this is more fun isn't it?  I say all this to preface the fact that I have struggled a bit with what to call this next award.  Flippantly, I thought about the Six Degrees Award - as my having met these remarkable people has moved me up a few degrees of separation from some of the my all-time favorite artists (and some of the most famous in the world). But, really that name would only serve to diminish the extraordinary artists they are in their own right.

So - I hereby name this award the "Legends in Their Own Right" Award.  And I am going to just get to it before I overthink it and decide to change the name again....

1.  Reckless Johnny Wales -  The first time I encountered Reckless Johnny, I did not know who he was, but I suspected (correctly it turns out), that I was in the presence of someone remarkable. The next time, and when I finally got to meet him, I was standing on what can only be called Hallowed Ground - namely the Cash Cabin recording studios... if those walls could talk... and even though I did not hear the walls talk that night (although it would not surprise me if some who have been there have heard stranger things than that), I did get to hear some of Reckless Johnny's stories about meeting Johnny Cash and many others.  More importantly, as a result of that meeting, I received a copy of Reckless Johnny Wales' American Heart, and any doubts that I might have had (I didn't really) were tossed out the window.  The music on that album demonstrates that the remarkable storied life (lives?) can and were translated into some memorable music.  I have a full review in my plans for early 2016, so I will stop here for now.

2.  Bebe Buell - Speaking of a life filled with stories...  As perhaps one of the world's most famous groupies, Bebe Buell experienced first hand some of the defining moments of the rock and roll era. I will leave it to you to read more about her remarkable life, but for me the most important thing is happening now.  Throughout all of those interactions with rock and roll royalty, Bebe Buell was paying attention.  Having relocated to Nashville a few years ago, Buell is now focused on her own music pursuits. I first saw her performing Tom Petty songs with the amazing Long Players, and then I saw her own show at 3rd and Lindsay, and I was impressed by her music and her stage presence. That night and again at the end of October, I also saw that she is still the ultimate rock and roll fan - which is obviously when she talks about and dances to the music of the Blackfoot Gypsies.

3.  Julie Christensen (Stone Cupid) - Julie Christensen is another fairly recent transplant to our fair city.  Christensen's musical career includes being a part of one of the pioneering Country/Punk bands, The Divine Horsemen with her husband at the time, Chris Desjardins founder of the legendary Flesheaters - a band whose membership history reads like a role call of the very best of Los Angeles music of the late 70s to early 80s.   Later, Christensen spent several years as a featured background singer with Leonard Cohen.  She reunited Cohen for the now legendary I'm Your Man concert film and album.  Upon, relocating to Nashville (and even before), Julie Christensen began working with some of the finest writers and musicians this town has to offer.  Her band, now called Stone Cupid, features an incredible line-up.  Sergio Webb and Chris Tench are two of the finest guitar players in a city that has a few... and the rhythm section features Steve Latanation (Agent Orange) and Bones Hillman who was member of Midnight Oil throughout there was most successful years. (UPDATE: There is reason I do not usually post late, I totally forgot to mention Stone Cupid's new album The Cardinal which will officially be out early in 2016.  And I wanted to mention, that Stone Cupid played during the final week of the original Family Wash, and that show was one my favorite live shows of the year.)

On a personal note, having met them all, I am I find myself more interested in the people they are and the music they are making now than I am in their remarkable past.  But, to be honest, I will not walk away from a great story about some of the most important musical giants of our time...

To the shuffle (before it is Friday): (a regular shuffle - we'll hop back into the season music next week).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday Special Red Cup Morning Music Shuffle - Oil Up a Snake Mix

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Wednesday!  Well, thanks to about 500 of you, The Ear to the Ground Facebook page reached the 500 "Like" milestone late yesterday.  It really means a ton to me.  I promise bigger and better things for 2016.

I am running a bit short on time, but The "Earies" 2015 do continue on...   I decided to call this one the "Dirty Rice" Award - aka - the "Land of my People" Award. 

The premise:  Although, I was born in Tennessee and have lived all but about one year in this state, my roots are in the bayous of Louisiana, and I still feel a deep connection to that very unique and colorful state.  This year, I have been fortunate enough to write about two artists and albums with connections to Louisiana.  This seemed like as good a reason as any to link them for this award.

The Awards: 

Kevin Gordon - is one of the most respected songwriters around.  He has released a number of excellent albums, and his album Gloryland definitely raised the bar. In 2015, he released Long Gone Time, and with it, he managed to raise the bar even further.  Kevin Gordon is an incredible live act, and his music really captures the complicated realities of the post-Civil Rights era deep south.

D.L. Duncan - A well respected blues musician and songwriter, D.L. "Dave" Duncan, released a self-titled album in 2015 that really captured the essence of the what the blues are all about. The album was partially produced in Lafayette, Louisiana which happens to be where my parents lived when they were first married.  Featuring an all-star cast of musical talent, the album has some of the most infectious blues grooves I've heard in a long time.

On to the shuffle: I have not downloaded a ton of Christmas/Holiday/Winter music this year, and so I had intended to wait until next week to break into that list, however, I did download a few more song last night, so I decided to kick things off today.  As I mentioned before, I struggled with what to call this playlist.  As creative as I can try to be, my playlist names are pretty unimaginative.  The main playlist from which most shuffles are drawn, is just called "E2TG".  The Featured Friday playlist is called "Featured Friday". When it came to this one though... I just was not sure.  I have not problem with Christmas, however, for the sake of accuracy, I knew that the list might included some songs some of the other holidays celebrated at this time of year.  I could have called it "Holiday Playlist" but I know the term, "Holiday" bothers some people.  Some songs are not about a holiday, but rather are just about the season of Winter.  Again, Winter playlist didn't seem to work, because while the winter songs might be appropriate for a couple more months,  I really don't want to hear about mangers and Santa and elves in February.  In the end, I decided to call this playlist the Red Cup playlist, because, who in the world could be offended by red cup?  Am I right?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Morning Music Shuffle - Just Can't Win Mix

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After today, there are only nine work days left in 2015.  Which means no more than nine more days of the "Earies"  (unless I hit panic mode and start posting on weekends which is not out of the question).

So the next award...

I call this one the "Far From East Nashville" Award.

The premise:  I had a funny moment a while back when I was introduced as someone who writes an East Nashville music blog.  It was meant as a compliment, and I took it as such, but it did give me pause. When I started writing Ear to the Ground (on a lark and with no experience writing about music) back in May of 2011, some interesting things began to happen.  For whatever reason, when I wrote about Nashville bands and artists, I was generally ignored, but when I wrote about band's from elsewhere, it seemed more likely that my posts would be acknowledged, appreciated, and shared. This is not a criticism of Nashville musicians. My take was, honestly, that the folks in Nashville knew that I wasn't one of the "big players" when it came to music writing in Nashville. Meanwhile, folks from other places maybe didn't know that and so they gave me a chance.  I am forever grateful for the music and wonderful people I discovered and met during that period of Ear to the Ground, and my ear continues to be open to great music from any locale. But, in a very unintentional way, I have been able to meet and hear some of the amazing talents this town has to offer. Over the past year, in particular, I have noticed and maybe you have, too, that more and more Nashville artists (East or not) have been showing up in my posts. However, as I said, I still keep my ears open to wherever I am lead, and so this award goes out to International Artists who have been a big part of E2TG.

The Awards Go To:

1.  Start closest to home:  Brock Zeman has been on my radar for a while, but in 2015 he released, Pulling Your Sword from the Devil's Back.  I also was fortunate enough to see him three times this year. Once in an amazing round at The Bluebird Café, and later on subsequent nights at The Family Wash and The 5 Spot.  Shoot, I almost consider Brock and his musical partner Blair Hogan to be honorary Nashvillians.  Nevertheless, they are from Canada.

2.  Also from our neighbor to the north: Velodrones/Bosveld. Again, Velodrones which is Stopmo Turt Darren has been on our radar for a while.  In 2015, his project Bosveld released Veldbrand a very beautiful and unique collection of songs that combine several different and divergent music styles and wonderfully original way.

3.  From a bit further away, Jeremy Gluck.  You may recall back in the Spring or so, I think we had a Jeremy Gluck song in the shuffle for what seemed like weeks.  We were spinning tunes from Memory Deluxe: I Knew Buffalo Bill 2 which was actually release in 2014.  The album was a follow up to his 1987 album, I Knew Buffalo Bill - an album that featured Jeffery Lee Pierce of The Gun Club, Nikki Sudden, Epic Soundtracks, and others.   Gluck was in the band The Barracudas, and more recently has been working on a project called Plasticon (and some other projects). 

4.  Getting further away:  Artur U and  The New City Limits. From Helsinki, Finland.  Artur U and the New City Limits released their full length debut, Holiday from Eternity early this year. I fell in love with the high energy grooves. They are very closely connected to some of our friends at True Groove in Brooklyn.

5.  The farthest from East Nashville award:  The Transcendents.   From Christchurch, NZ.  I first connected with this band via their self-titled debut which was released late in 2014.  In 2015, they released two EPs, Lay Where You Collapse and Common Ground.  I really love the way this band creates unique and challenging soundscapes that still remain rooted in the kind of awesome pop music that I grew up listening to.

Congrats to the winners:

To the shuffle (I'm low on time!)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Morning Music Shuffle - Now You See the Light Mix

By the way, the #E2TG Facebook Page is approaching 500 "Likes".  I would love to reach that milestone by the end of the year.  If you have not done so, give us a "Like".  Limited time offer: We will waive the normal $0.00 Annual Fee!

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Sending Birthday wishes to 2014 Ear to the Ground Artist of the Year, Darrin Bradbury who just wrapped up his first ever West Coast tour. 

The 2015 "Earie" Awards roll onward. 

TODAY'S AWARD:  The "Middle-Aged America" Award The Premise: No premise - just an inside joke.

The Award goes to:  Drew Kohl and Taylor Alexander
Young America was a band from Georgia that had a long run. They released an EP early in 2015 shortly before deciding that with two members in Georgia and two in Nashville, it was no longer viable to continue as a group.  The award goes to the two members of Young America who are now living in Nashville.  Time flies when you are having fun, thus my joke about Middle-Aged America...

Drew Kohl:  Drew is a super talented singer, songwriter, and player.  He released Sweetheart, an EP filled with songs that explore different aspects of the theme of Love, earlier in the year, and he has been touring and playing throughout the year, sharpening his sound.  His trademark is his high-lonesome bluegrass inspired songs which often feature mind blowing sustained vocal notes.

Taylor Alexander:  Taylor has been recording his solo album which is due in 2016.  He is a regular performer on Lower Broadway, and he often backs up other musicians.  He and fellow "Earie" award winner, Lindsay Ellyn frequently perform as a duo (which I have dubbed: #Tindsay - which Taylor hates so let's make that hashtag trend!).  He has an impressive repertoire of classic country tunes and his own compositions have a classic country feel to them.

Congrats, Taylor and Drew!  The "Earies" march on for the rest of December culminating in the naming of the 2015 #E2TG Artist of the Year.

By the way, before we jump into the shuffle, I had the great opportunity to head out to the Stone Fox in West Nashville last night to see Chris Scruggs and the Stone Fox 5 play some amazing classic country music.  They will be there every Sunday throughout December and most of January.  Highly recommended.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Featured Friday Morning Music Shuffle - The Joy and the Crap Mix

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Well... It's Friday!  By my estimates, there are eleven work days left in 2015.  I am going to have to huddle up with the awards committee* over the weekend to take stock of where things stand.  I know I will leave somebody important out, so expect some adjunct awards early in 2016.
*I am the awards committee, by the way....

Now to today's "Earie"Award.

The Award:  the "There Going to Put Me in the Movies" Award aka the "Act Naturally" Award aka the "Buck Owens" Award....

The premise: No premise really, just a way to connect two awesome songwriters/musicians so that I can give them both an award for being awesome.

The Awards go to:

1.  Joe Nolan -  Joe recently signed a new publishing agreement with Creative Songwriters Music which is hopefully mean we will be hearing some of his great songs in movies and television shows soon. In addition, Joe Nolan is by the best definition I know, a true modern day renaissance man.  In addition to his extensive journalistic work  - among other things he is the arts editor for the Nashville Scene, a regular blogger, etc. etc. etc.  He was recently awarded a commission by the Metro (Nashville) Arts Commission to create a song based upon a piece of public art, and he has an on-going Nashville Public Radio series about Nashville's many "Pikes".  Makes me proud to be a "Joe".

2.  Andrew Adkins - Andrew has an excellent track record of having songs used in movies and trailers.  Most recently, one of his songs was used in the trailer for Colin Hanks' film about Tower Records, All Things Must Pass.  This was cool to me for two reason, 1. Tower Records played an important role in my musical development - particularly in the early 90s.  2. Colin Hanks was in Orange County and he's Tom Hanks' son.   In addition, Adkins has kept busy making music under a variety of names before consolidating it all under his own name.  Semi-coincidently, he just released the first single from his forthcoming album, Glass Castles (which will be released the day after my birthday).  The single is called, "May the Stars Fall At Your Door" and it marks a bit of a departure from the kind of music Andrew Adkins has been doing.

On to the shuffle:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thursday Morning Music Shuffle - Like a Cash Machine Mix

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Whew... it's been quite a week. Thanks for hanging with me as my schedule has been off...  We seem to be back on schedule. 

Enjoyed some fine Nashville music last night at The Family Wash.  Nellie Clay, Megan Palmer, and Russell Thompson - all backed by an amazing band made up of Adam "Ditch" Kurtz on pedal steel and guitar, Aaron Shafer-Haiss, and Jonathan Beam.

Today's E2TG "Earie" Award is called the "Hall of Fame" Award.  It recognizes long-time E2TG favorite artists who made significant achievements in 2015.

1.  The End Men - I was first introduced to The End Men around January 2012.  They immediately caught my attention and have been a favorite band of mine ever since.  2015 saw the release of their latest album, Terms and Conditions which found the band's sound enhanced by the addition of a sax player.  They still melt faces.  In addition, they had a successful European tour and partnered with the the comic book East of the West for a song/comic collaboration of epic proportions.

2. Valued Customer - Valued Customer have been on my radar since at least October 2012 (maybe earlier).  They are one of the most creative and unique bands I have ever encountered. Combining wildly inventive experimentation, classically trained musicianship, and some pretty deep Eastern spirituality.  The diversity of their musical knowledge and tastes puts me to shame. Although, their next album hugecup is not due until next year, the band treated us with byugecup which are b-sides from the new album - which blew me away.

To the shuffle:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Los Angels Mix

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Welcome back.  Well, this should be the last late post of the week.  Plus, my new bluetooth earphones came in today. So the shuffle will be continue onward unabated.

So some of you have asked about the integrity of the E2TG "Earie" Awards.  The ballots are stored in a secret and remote location watched over by a team of trained seals. Unlike some of the fancy awards, we could not afford a Certified Accountant to monitor our processes, so we went with a certifiable accountant.  Did I ever mention that I am an accountant.  Seriously though, the whole process takes place inside my head, and that is as remote and secret as it gets.

Today's award:  I'm calling it the "Mott the Hoople" Award aka the "All the Young Dudes" Award.

The premise:  No premise really, just an award to some of the young dudes who made cool music in 2015.  (keep in mind, I'm getting up there in age so "young" is a term that is more broadly defined everyday, but these dudes qualify by my standards...

The Award goes to:

1.  Josh Morris - When (former E2TG Featured Artist) And the Giraffe parted ways, Josh Morris turned his attention to his solo work.  Green Fields was released early in the year,  Morris has new music in the works that promises a change in direction from Green Fields.  In addition, Morris is quickly making a name for himself as a go-to producer.

2.  James Tomberlin - When James Tomberlin left town to return to school, he left a unique but significant hole in the Nashville songwriting community.  Fortunately, before he left town, he recorded a album, Still Life With Orange which by the way was produced by Josh Morris.  I, for one, though, miss his arcane and sophisticated sense of humor.

3.  Patrick Kinsley - For a Thousand Miles is flat out one of my favorite albums of 2015.  It is an excellent showcase for the mass of contradictions that is Patrick Kinsley.  Earnest heartland flavored rock and roll music with simple but intelligent lyrics and a deep emotional resonance.  The album is a journey.

4.  Zachariah Red -  The new Zach Red album is due out just after the first of the year, and I can't wait.  But, his single, "40 Miles" was released just in time for the totally fictional "Earie" deadline.  Bringing the wisdom and work ethic of a Wisconsin carpenter, the energy of a former punk rocker, and songwriting chops, Zachariah Red plays real country music effortlessly.

(There a couple of other people who might qualify for this award, but I may have something else in mind for them)....

To the shuffle:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tuesday Morning Music Shuffle - Baby Out of Jail Mix

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Well, here we are.  Another late posting.  Tomorrow likely will be, too.  Let's jump to it. Plus by stupid bluetooth earphones have bitten the dust.  Replacements are on their way.

We've been doing the "Earies" for about a week now.  I hope everyone is enjoying themselves.  I am coming up with winners faster than I am coming up with Award names.... but it's all good.  I just hope I don't forget anyone, but I probably will...

Today's award is the "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" Award.

The premise:  I have known for some time that Nashville is the home to some amazing blues players and music, but that fact came into sharp focus for me this year.  The other thing that came into sharp focus for me is that "The Blues" is not a narrow genre of music and it is very much alive and well in this middle year of the second decade of the new millennium.  This award is meant to recognize some of the best of the blues and it so happens both of this years winners come from Nashville, and they both bring their own unique twist to the genre.

The Award goes to Ted Drozdowski's Scissormen  and Eight O'Five Jive.

Ted Drozdowski is a journalist and scholar of the Blues and an amazing guitar player.  With his trio, he brings Mississippi to Nashville and rolls into a sweet psychedelic coating while telling stories and blowing minds.  Love and Life was one of the best albums of the year and one of the best albums Ted Drozdowski has made.  An electrifying live act (no stage can contain Ted and no utensils or glassware are safe from being used as a guitar slide.

Eight O'Five Jive play upbeat, swinging jump blues that evokes an earlier era while remaining firmly rooted in the present.  Their album, Too Many Men, was smart and sexy and a whole lot of fun.  They won a couple of awards at this years Nashville Independent Music Awards including Best Blues Artist, and now they can add an "Earie" to their award cabinet,

On to the shuffle:

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Morning Music Shuffle- Use Ya Blinkahs Mix

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Well. here we are on a  Monday. I'm posting this late because I have been in a conference for work all day and will be tomorrow and Wednesday.  In addition, being a Monday, my bluetooth earphones decided to act all weird.  That along with the fact that we have a very long song in the shuffle means only four songs.

But first, time to hop back into the 2015 "Earie" Awards.  To recap, last week we handed out virtual statues to Darrin Bradbury, Paul Zografi, Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau, Mark Robinson Band, and The Foresters.

I couldn't decide what to call this award, but I knew who the winners would be... three way tie on this one...  How about we call it, the New York State of Mind Award.  All of winners are excellent songwriters on the Nashville "scene" who moved her from New York, and who to me represent the best of "New Nashville".  By that I mean, they really seem to "get" what this town is about and they bring a fresh perspective and new voices.

The "New York State of Mind" Award goes to:  Lindsay Ellyn, Sara Syms, and Jeremy Nash.

Lindsay released her Out of Road EP earlier in the ear.  Surrounding herself with some of Nashville's best, she made one of my favorite records of the year, and her live shows are always amazing.

Sara released Way Back Home recently.  The album was recorded in New York, but here in Nashville, she has also embraced some great local players and has become a fixture on the local music scene.

Jeremy, like Sara Syms, recorded his recent album, Getaway Driver in New York, and I think he may be the freshest face of the three in Nashville.

The three albums are among my favorites, the three songwriters are, I believe, net gain assets for the Nashville music community.   I am happy to let them fight over the one, invisible award.

Moving on...

Finally, I have to say that I learned a lesson this weekend.  When you post something on the internet about how you don't dance, you are just setting yourself up.  This weekend, I found myself dancing not once but twice at two different venues on Saturday night.  Thanks to the person at the Basement East who I don't know who convinced to dance during Sadler Vaden's set and Mary Sack for convincing me to dance during Ballhog! (I think).

It was another amazing weekend for live music kicking off with Jon Latham who killed it opening for the out of this world Malcolm Holcombe. Holcombe's band included Darrell Scott and Ken Coomer, and Mary Gauthier joined in for one song.  After that I got a good reminder of the awesome friends I have made over the last year or so.  Helping some friends celebrate their new house, singing loudly and badly to Bob Seger, and being a part of a conversation that moved naturally from the lack of necessity of the powder on Doritos to the films of Werner Herzog,,,,

Saturday, Sadler Vaden was amazing and Drvin' 'n' Cryin' were every bit the legends they are - with Warner E. Hodges on guitar, they played for around 2 1/2 hours including playing nearly an hour long encore that included Warner leading the band through "Absolutely Sweet Marie".  Then, I made it to the 5 Spot very late to catch the tail end of the Get Behind the Mule: Tom Waits Tribute and Benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank.  I know the whole night was fabulous, but at least I saw Shane Tutmarc, Bone Machine, and Ballhog!.

To the short, sharp, shuffle:

Friday, December 4, 2015

Featured Friday Morning Music Shuffle - Just the Same as Dyin' Mix

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"Being afraid of living is just the same as dying."  This line from Two Cow Garage seems like one of the most important for me to remember today.  More about Two Cow Garage and last night's other great music is few...

First, the next 2015 E2TG "Earie" Award:

The premise:  "Kids these days."  I write those words, but how did I mean it?  Was it said with exasperation, as it has been said for generations?  Well, in this case, that is not how it was meant. We live in a time of incredible possibilities - really!  Just thinking about music (keep in mind, I know next to nothing about the recording, mixing, mastering etc. process), the potential for DIY recording, distribution etc. seems pretty amazing.  But of course, availability of technology is just a part of the equation.  It is when and where ripe and fertile minds meet this "new" technology that things start to get exciting.  The driving force for me when it comes to music is the constant search for something new.  E2TG has always been (in part) a balancing act between incredible new music being made all over the globe  and maintaining a health appreciation and passion for the music that made the new music possible.  It's about connections. Right?  Yes!  Some "kids" these days are using the tools of the day to make some really cool music, and sometimes, this exciting new music is forged by an appreciation of music way older than those who are making it.

About three years ago???? I was introduced (by Papa Tune's - of course) to a young band of brothers from Connecticut called The Foresters.  At the time, I think only one of the brother was a teenager - the rest were pre-teens.  I made a joke that their average age was 10 3/4 but that their amps go up to eleven. (or something like that). The Foresters were a pop punk band - formed after the three brothers, named Nork, attended a Green Day concert and asked for a received instruments.  The early music was really good power, pop punk. Over the past couple of years, The Foresters have released a couple of EPs, recorded with and as several different side projects. The influences have expanded and diversified and the music has gotten more complex and better.  The band's latest album, Sun Songs, finds the band reaching a new plateau - while the possibilities remain endless. A couple of years ago, the band were given the Hope For the Furure award by the Couch by Counchwest Music Festival. Well, the future is now, and The Foresters appear poised to find out what happens next - which at this moment is a 2015 "Earie".  Actually, special mention for this award needs to go out to all of the artists on the band's homegrown record label, Dord Music Group.

Congratulations to The Foresters - you are the 2015 "Kid These Days..." Award winners.

Last night was a quintessiential Nashville live music night - with some great shows going on in different venues.  Me, I hung out at The Five Spot.  Early, was a show featuring Fats Kaplin, Kristie Rose, Paul Burch, and more.  Later, I was introduced to my new favorite band.  They are called Red Collar from Durham, NC. They are a high energy, punk influenced band.  Austin Lucas - who I saw for the third time this year was as amazing as ever, and Two Cow Garage who I saw for the second time this year (and who barely made it due to mechanical issues) blew me away as they did the first time I saw them.

Tonight, I'm excited to see Jon Latham opening up for the legendary Malcolm Holcombe at The Basement (not East).

Now, we have a Featured Friday shuffle to close out the post-holiday work week.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thursday Morning Music Shuffle - Enough is Enough Mix

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First of all, let's all try to be good to one another...

Second, The "Earies" continues.  I call today's award, "So You Think Joe Can Dance??? Really???" award. 

The premise: I mean c'mon, I'm a fighter not a dancer... or something like that. I mean, sure I will flail around sometimes in a crowd in front of the stage, but when it comes to spontaneous dancing, it does not happen that often... however....

The Winner:  As I have said before, The Mark Robinson Band is one of the best and most entertaining live acts in Nashville. They do not play in town super often, and so when they do, it is Must See Live Music.  Mark Robinson is a stellar guitarist and his rhythm section (usually Justin Amaral and Daniel Seymour) are simply the best (at the most recent show, Rick Schell filled in for Justin and he's not slouch either.... ahem*Pure Prairie League*ahem).

So at the tail end of this years Tomato Fest in East Nashville, it came about due to the infectious grooves and some instigators, I found myself dancing not once but twice.  I figured that deserved an award (not my dancing!!!).  By the way, many of the awards are directly or indirectly going to be related to albums released in 2015.... because I hate doing Top 10 lists - basically.  Mark Robinson and his band did not release a new album in 2015 (expect one next year), but Robinson has been busy producing other folks and he did release a two-sided single, "Gone South" (both an Electric Rock and Acoustic Folk version).  

Congrats to The Mark Robinson Band with a hat tip to the instigators Mary Sack, Karen Leipziger, and Mark Robinson's lovely other half, Sue Havlish.  Let's Dance!

Third, I am emerging for my self-imposed exile from live music beginning tonight.  Over the next three days, I expect to see the following artists on Nashville stages:  Fats Kaplin, Red Collar, Two Cow Garage, Austin Lucas, Jon Latham, Malcolm Holcomb, Sadler Vaden, and Drivin' n' Cryin' with Warner E. Hodges.  Whew!  Other cool stuff that I will have to miss, too.

Fourth, we have a very cool shuffle this morning... so jump to it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Hit the Right Spot Mix

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The 1st Annual E2TG Awards (The Earies) continues... Today's award ended in a tie (expect several to end up this way).  Today's award is "The Better Late Than Never Award" (aka "The Anti-Hipster  Award".

About the Award: As a respected music blogger (ahem!) and journalist (ahem!), I do pride myself on "discovering" new artists early on in their careers.  However, I also recognize that there is (and has been) a ton of great music out there, and that I went through periods where life and all kept me from being on the cutting edge like I am today (ahem!).  I also remember the days of trying to outdo people by claiming to have been a fan of (some band or artist) since before they had even played their first show or whatever.  So, these days, when I "discover" music that is new to me or that I have been aware of but not really checked out thoroughly, I just proudly admit that fact and move on.

The two winners of this award are both Nashville artists who released albums prior to 2015, but that I did not get my grubby little hands on until this year. Do I wish I had heard the heard the music sooner? Sure, it's good stuff, which is why I am handing out the awards (again, no actual trophies will be exchanged). 

Winner #1:  Paul Zografi - Bright (Released 10/2014)

I met Paul at Bobby's Idle Hour through Tim Carroll which is when I copy a copy of this album which I fell in love with.  Found out he shares at least one band member with Joe Nolan who was also playing at Bobby's that night.  Zografi's music has clarity and understatement and really good songs. 

Winner #2: Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau - Tennessee (Released May 2014)
There was a even longer interval between the release of this album and my getting hold of it, and in this case, I really don't have a good excuse. I first saw Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau late in 2014 at Rocking Roots Guitar Showcase during Americana week.  (I have been a fan of Richie's music for over 30 years).  I have been fortunate to see them live on a number of occasions since then, but I didn't get a hold of the album until a chance encounter with Farm Bureau bassist John Reed downtown over the summer. The album offers a rootsy, rocking history of the Volunteer State through familial and public stories that span the state.  Owen's besides being an amazing instrumentalist and songwriter, is able to provide an authentic and honest voice to the stories.  Plus, he has more first hand stories of the beginnings of Nashville's independent music "scene" than just about anybody I know.

Congratulations to the winners!  More to Come....

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Morning Music Shuffle - Cosmo and Seventeen Mix

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PRESENTING THE  1st Annual E2TG Awards - "The Earies"  (The Earies - it sounds kind of strange, but not really). 

Well, it is December, and as I promised, we will begin our month long celebration of all things E2TG.  Welcome to the first annual E2TG awards.  Our red carpet welcome had to be cancelled due to rain in the Nashville area, plus we don't have a red carpet, and someone forgot to book the Ryman.  So, this will be an on-line awards show this year... 

I thought long and hard about how to begin this award month, but finally it seemed fitting and proper to begin the 2015 awards with the artist who closed out 2014 by being named the Artist of the Year.

Presenting the first award for 2015 is ..... me...   Thanks, Joe.  The first award to be presented is the Flattery Will Get You Everywhere Award.  It recognizes the artist or artists who have realized that the blog host is basically a big ball of insecurities and self-doubt and that a little bit of flattery (even somewhat dubious flattery) goes a long way.

This artist not only routinely dedicates one of his signature songs to me, but he also included my likeness on the album cover of his most recent release.  I think "Bob" is a pretty handsome guy, even if I would not say that he is short or tall.     The 1st ever "Earie" goes to Darrin Bradbury.  Darrin is currently on tour out West, so I will accept the award on his behalf.  Also, we don't have actual
statues.  Maybe next year.  

Stay tuned all month for more awards....

On to the shuffle:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Morning Music Shuffle - Whispered Diamonds Up Shit Creek Mix

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We are back and ready to finish off 2015 in style. I hope everyone who celebrates it had a good Thanksgiving.

After fighting off a cold for several days, I ended up pretty knocked out by Friday. I'm on meds and making a recovering. Expect my live music updates to be few and far between the first part of the week, but I will be healthy for some fun stuff coming up at the end of the week.  More on that.

On a related note, between the cold and getting ready to and going out of town, I am WAY behind on e-mails and checking out music that has been submitted.  Please be patient, but feel free to shoot me a follow-up e-mail/message.

We have a pretty awesome 8 song shuffle.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Featured Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Talk, Talk, Talk Mix

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Well, it is time for the last shuffle before the long Thanksgiving weekend.  I hope if you are travelling that you have safe travels, I hope you find a place of gratitude, I hope you remember those for whom the holidays are a painful or difficult time.  I hope you do all the things you want to do.  For my Canadian friends, you can like, #tbt tomorrow to Canadian Thanksgiving or whatever...

We have one more awesome featured music shuffle to see this work week off in style.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Featured Tuesday Morning Music Shuffle - At the Crack of Noon Mix

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Rolling on toward Thanksgiving.   Keep an eye out for the 1st Annual E2TG Awards - 2015 - which I calling "The Earies". (Tagline: "The Earies, it sounds strange but it's really not"). 

About "The Earies":  I will begin announcing the awards around the first of December and continue on and off throughout the month.  There will not be nominees - because no matter how much people say that it was an honor to be nominated... well, you know.  Also, we will have recipients and not "winners".  This is for two reasons, 1. Calling someone a winner may imply that others are "losers".  2. The recipients may think there is some sort of cash reward, which there is not.  Nor are there actual awards.  It is an honorary honor.

The awards will culminate with the naming of the 5th Annual Ear to the Ground Artist of the Year.

There will not be fan voting, sorry.  Although we had fun in 2011 and 2012 running Readers Polls, I decided at the end of 2012 to suspend the practice. 

Bribes will be accepted and the awards will probably go to the highest bidder. 

Anyone caught taking the awards too seriously, will be severely teased.

All the awards are not all that serious, what I am serious about is taking another opportunity to recognize some of the great music that came my way in 2015.

In other news, after Thanksgiving, pending my getting in a bunch of seasonal music, I am thinking of having a once-a-week shuffle from a playlist filled with such songs. I am debating what to call the playlist.  Christmas is too specific as their may be songs that have nothing to do with Christ's birth.  Holiday Playlist will probably piss off people - since apparently Holiday is a nasty word or something.  I may just call it the Red Cup Playlist.  We shall see.

We have another featured music shuffle today - featuring some favorites (old and new) and some artists hitting the shuffle for the first time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Featured Monday Music Shuffle - Fell Down on my Knees Mix

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Welcome back!  I trust everyone had an okay weekend... Winter seems to have put in an appearance here in Nashville with our coldest morning of the season...

Music around town is still heating up.   Friday night, I caught a trifecta of great shows.  Joey Kneiser had part one of his album release show at Grimey's New and Used Music.  Great stuff, and be sure to check out his new album.  Next, Nellie Clay opened for Will Kimbrough downstairs at The Basement.  Nellie sounded awesome, and Will Kimbrough melted faces with his songs and his playing.  After that, I booked it across the river (following the lead of Mary Sack) to The Family Wash for Tommy Womack's birthday show.  Tommy, who is well on his way to full recovery from his car accident at the beginning of the summer, pulled together an all-star band (Mark Robinson on guitar, Ross Rice on keyboards, Daniel Seymour on bass, Brad Pemberton on drums, and Lisa Oliver Gray).  They ripped through an impressive set that opened with a version of the Velvet Underground song, "Sweet Jane" and closed (before an encore) with Dylan's "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again".  In between, Womack hit some of his best songs - like "Alpha Male and the Canine Mystery Blood", "90 Miles an Hour Down a Dead-End Street", and "Nice Day" and more.

Saturday, featured another really entertaining Mark Robinson Band show at The 5 Spot.  Back by Daniel Seymour and Rick Schell. Robinson showed off his incredible blues rock guitar chops.  Honestly, one of the best live bands around.  That was followed by a short trip over to the Family Wash - this time to catch Knoxville living legend, poet, and songwriter R.B. Morris. Morris also put together an amazing band  (Greg Horne on guitar, Daniel Kimbro on Bass, and Paul Griffith on drums).  Morris was in rare form as he tore through a set that besides his original music included covers of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.  Morris will be back in Nashville one week from this coming Saturday for the 10th Annual Get Behind Mule Tom Waits Tribute and Benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank.

To the shuffle - partially because Friday was so much fun and also because this is a short work week plus to help clear out some of my Featured playlist - I have made the executive decision to do all Featured Music shuffles this week.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Featured Friday Morning Music Shuffle - For Money or Against Your Will Mix

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And so it goes, and we reach the end of another work week here at #E2TG.  Heading into the weekend just ahead of Thanksgiving here in the United States. There is  a ton of great music happening this weekend at different venues.  Choose your poison and get out there. 

Among the shows coming up today and tomorrow (and no I cannot make it to all of these):  Today: Joey Kneiser of Glossary is releasing a new record, and he will play this evening at Grimey's.  Will Kimbrough is also he releasing a new record, and he will be playing The Basement at 7:00 with Nellie Clay opening. Today is Tommy Womack's birthday, and we will playing around 9:00 at The Family Wash. Also tonight, the East Nashville Underground: A Magical Reunion is going on at The Basement East.  Plus there is the weekly, Tim Carroll Rock and Roll Happy Hour at The 5 Spot. Plus probably tons of other stuff.

Tomorrow night: One of this blog's favorites Mark Robinson Band will be playing an early show at The 5 Spot (6:00 start).  Joey Kneiser will be playing that venue after that.  Meanwhile, over at the Family Wash - Knoxville poet and songwriter R.B. Morris will be playing.  Plus the aforementioned East Nashville Underground event continues at The Beast.  and More...

We have a Featured Friday Shuffle that I am really happy about today... let's take a gander...