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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).
"Think I Said Too Much" by Sugar and the Hi Lows
Another great track from one of Nashville's best. From their self-titled album.
"Tom and Bob" by Blake Babies
More from that Blake Babies live album- available on Noisetrade. This song was on their debut album, Nicely, Nicely which came out in 1987.
"Attention Shoppers" by Crazy Aces
More music from Nashville's premiere instrumental rock band, Crazy Aces.
"Camera Roll" by Jonas H. Sjøvaag's Navyelectre
From Norway. I have really been digging the music of composer Jonas Howden Sjøvaag. The album is called Large Ensemble.
"Fool Man Runaway" by Some Kind of Illness (ft. Caoilfhionn Rose)
We move on to another song from Some Kind of Illness from their self-titled album. This track features Manchester singer-songwriter Caoilfhionn Rose (her first name is pronounced Keelin). Two songs in and I continue to be impressed by this band.
"Take My Time" by Daphne Willis
Another track from free-spirited Nashville singer-songwriter Daphne Willis' new EP, Get It. Seriously, get it!
"Little Wild One (No. 5) by Marshall Crenshaw
We jump next into the first of two songs from two of my all-time favorite albums. This is the opening track to Downtown, which was Crenshaw's third album following his amazing self-titled debut and Field Day. Downtown was released in 1985.
"I Misunderstood" by Richard Thompson
Rumor and Sigh was released in 1991, and it still stands out as some of the best music of one of modern music's most prolific and talented musicians.
"I Can't Tell" by David G. Smith
We close out the shuffle with our first listen to First Love, the new album by singer-songwriter David G. Smith. Smith, like Julie Christensen, comes from Iowa and now resides in Nashville. I will have much more to say about this album - which features great songs and an incredible line-up of musicians. This was a great way to close out the shuffle this morning.