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Well, we reached the final shuffle of 2016, Before we get to it, a few things:
Last night I attended what will likely end up being my final live show of the year, and what a way to got out! If you don't know, and if I have not made it abundantly clear, David Olney is a national treasure. I count myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to see him perform live several times in 2016, and last night was quite possibly the best performance ever. In addition to being one of the best living songwriters, he is a consummate performer. Last night his band - Ward Stout on fiddle, Daniel Seymour on bass, and Justin Amaral on drums were absolutely on point. You may or may not know that David Olney had a very nasty fall down a flight of stairs a couple of months back, and he (and we) are very fortunate that it was not more serious than it was. If there was any doubt about his recovery, he laid that to rest with a two hour set (it would have been a non-stop two hour set but for a broken guitar string) that showcased his power both as a songwriter and a performer.
As if that was not enough, the one and only Derek Hoke opened the night with a solo set that showcased his amazing abilities. Olney said it was like watching Roy Orbison.
Talk about a quintessential Nashville night of music. To cap it off, I got to hang out with 2015 E2TG Artist of the Year (and my friend) Jon Latham for a few hours that culminated with eating Taco Bell in a parking lot about midnight and hearing some of the mixes from his forthcoming album, Lifers, which I am stating for the record will be one of the best albums of 2017.
I have some outside-the-shuffle "Earies" to distribute:
1. The "All Rhodes Lead to Somewhere" award goes to Eli Rhodes. I reviewed his album Ghost Therapy back in June, and then he went a released Deux earlier this month. Ghost Therapy was confessional and vulnerable with just some flat-out great songwriting. My December has been so messed up that I haven't had a chance to check out Deux, but I plan to rectify that soon.
2. The "90 Miles" Award goes to Ben de la Cour. Back in August, I had the distinct pleasure of premiering Ben de la Cour's music video for "(Ain't Going) Down that Road" from his album Midnight in Havana album. (Cuba is 90 miles from the US, Havana is in Cuba thus the award name). I was first introduced to de la Cour's music via the Couch by Couchwest on-line music festival (which was another casualty of this awful year). Since the time, I first heard him, he moved to Nashville, and I finally got to meet him. He is an awesome songwriter who draws on some unique life experiences to make some amazing music.
3. The "Precipitation Award" goes to Drew Kohl. I reviewed his latest release New Rain earlier this year. Kohl is one of my favorite songwriters and favorite people. Among his many talents is being able to sustain a note vocally for an insanely long time - plus he does a really awesome cover of the Ramones' song "I Wanna Be Sedated". Requested next time you see him live.
4. The "Impatience and Growth" Award goes to Josh Morris. Morris produced Jon Latham's Real Bad News Album and he is producing, Lifers which I mentioned above. As good as Real Bad News is (and it is really, really good and you need to own it if you don't) it was amazing to hear how much Josh Morris has grown as a producer in the year or so since that album was made. It is equally astounding to hear how much Josh Morris has grown as a songwriter and performer - which is evident from his latest album Can't Wait 'Til Now which I reviewed back at the beginning of this month. You may recall that Morris was one half of the band And the Giraffe which was a featured band in the early days of E2TG - through some pretty mind-blowing coincidences, I reconnected with him a couple of years ago, and I have been impressed by all he had accomplished.
Okay - so the deal is after today's post, I will still have a few Earie Awards to hand out. So my current plan is to do a special post Monday to award the final "Earie Awards" and then Tuesday I will reveal my "Artist/Band of the Year" and then we can jump into the new year with both feet on Wednesday. Deal?
The shuffle yields a few more "Earies" - let's do it!
"Story of Greed" by Matthew Skoller
"EARIE ALERT": The "No Borders" Award goes to Matthew Skoller. His most recent album is called Blues Immigrant. I am fortunate to have some great connections to hear some of the best blues and blues-based music being made these days. Although, I never thought of myself as a blues fan, in the past couple of years, I have not only come to really appreciate the genre, but to come to understand how integral that music is to much of the music I love. I have really been digging this album, and I count Skoller among the awesome artists that came to my attention in 2016.
"Greener Grass" by Danny Trashville
"EARIE ALERT": The "Paper Napkin" Award goes to Danny Trashville. Okay, so the Great Unknown actually came out in 2013. But, I just came to know about it after meeting him on the porch at The Basement East during some show there earlier this year. We got to talking and he ended up writing the bandcamp link to this album on a paper napkin from the bar. I cannot say that I had any great expectations, but man I have really loved hearing this album. I literally know nothing else about Danny Trashville and to be honest this is the first time (I think) one of these songs has shown up in a shuffle. But, I felt compelled to award him an "Earie" just because I like album that much.
"Ugy's Hoem" by Valued Customer
What can I say that I have not already said about Valued Customer? This Toronto band - for reasons I cannot fully explain - are one of my all-time favorites. I do not know how many of my Nashville readers have had the chance to check them out, but I really hope everyone reading this right now will give them a listen. I will have more to say. This track is actually from their 2015 album (which was b-sides to 2016's hugecup which is one of my favorite albums of the year). In addition to hugecup, Ugggy of Valued Customer released Legends of the SmoKe in 2016 showcasing his mad skills as an alternative hip-hop artist.
"In My Dreams" by Danny Trashville
Next up another track from Danny Trashville!
"Marigolds" by Flavored Cardboard
"EARIE ALERT": The "They May Be Small Giants" Award goes to Flavored Cardboard. Flavored Cardboard is a duo that features Luke Slomba - the non-Nork member of The Foresters. If you were at the E2TG Anniversary Show - Slomba was the one playing keys and accordion. Flavored Cardboard released Fingers Crossed back in March. I really dig it because they are heavily influenced by They Might Be Giants who are one of my favorite bands (they even cover a song from Apollo 18 on this album (in video playlist below).
"Awesome Tapes" by Valued Customer
"EARIE ALERT": The "Higher and Even Higher" Award goes to Valued Customer. This is one of my favorite tracks on hugecup, and it highlights some of the finer points of why VC are awesome in my book. I first heard Valued Customer through a song they did called "Frank Ocean". I'm not even sure how I came across that song, but the story I am going with is that I was googling Frank Ocean and found the song. However it happened, it was a fortuitous event. Unique and original hip-hop influences (check), classically trained musicianship (check), deep spiritual elements (check), wicked humor (check), extremely diverse musical knowledge (check), and just being awesome human beings that I really want to meet in person (check).
"Organ Mouth" by Matthew Skoller
One more from Blues Immigrant.
"32 Degrees" by Flavored Cardboard
And another from Fingers Crossed.