Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook!
Well... here we are at the penultimate shuffle of the year, and the penultimate Earie post (not counting the "Golden Earier" posts.
Reflecting on 2017 some more (although really ready to see it in my rear-view mirror), and I see ups and downs - as with most years. To me there is a fundamental shift that happened this year. Perspective and perception are everything, and so I don't always know when my experience of something (a year perhaps) is mine alone - or if it is shared. I can say, though, that I have heard enough people talking about this year to know that I am not alone my outlook. That shift - is not for the best - IMHO, nor is it a permanent shift. Already, I see signs of hope. It seems like every year, I enter the year filled with some sense of hope that I will do more or better or at least different. This year, I'm not sure I have hope, but I think I do have resolve. I don't make resolutions at New Years - I don't have much luck with those, but I do tend to see the cycling of the calendar as an opportunity to revisit and change things that aren't working.
This is the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year. Hanukkah just ended, Christmas is coming up as is Kwanzaa. And the end of the calendar year in the west. And so, I send out well wishes to anyone who is reading this - no matter what you do or do not celebrate. In a divided nation and a divided world, I send out thoughts of reconciliation and peace and harmony.
This is just my tiny corner of the internet, but I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people I have met because of it.
"Tell Me What You Want" by Bee Taylor
EARIE ALERT: Time can be elusive to me, so I'm not sure if it was 2016 or 2017 that I first saw Bee Taylor live. This is actually a dual Earie - going out to Bee Taylor and Cody Brooks. They each play in the other's band, and they have been kicking ass and taking names in 2017. I look forward to many more opportunities to see them both in 2018. So, why not, I'm giving them both the "Kicking Ass and Taking Nanes" award.
"Drivin' Nails in My Coffin" by Fangs and Twang
EARIE ALERT: I have a long-standing appreciation of good twangy music, and I also have a long-standing love of monsters. That makes Fangs and Twang a perfect band for me. This is a track from their debut full-length album - High Fives All Around - which came out this year. This track sounds like a classic country song - and it is about vampires. I am giving Fangs and Twang the "Creature Feature" award.
"New American Dream" by SeepeopleS
EARIE ALERT: SeepeopleS are a long-running anti-genre band from Portland, Maine. They came to my attention in 2017 with the release of their EP Hate - from which today's track is taken. Their music came up quite a bit in the spring and summer, and this record remains of my favorites of the year. I'm gonna give them the "Love Hate" award - because I love their EP Hate.
"Rock With You" by The Maxx
EARIE ALERT: Georgia band - The Maxx are another long-running band that came to my attention in 2017 with their release Funk Box. Their origins go all the way back to 1980. Funk Box features a juicy serving of 1970s Funk/Soul music that grooves so hard. I am giving them the "Good Time" award, because hearing their music makes me feel good.
"Walk a Little Straighter" by Scott Ramminger
EARIE ALERT: From the January release, Do What Your Heart Says To (which is great advice). Ramminger is a singer, songwriter, and saxophonist. He also writes prose. He released a live album in the fall of this year. Do What Your Heart Says To was recorded in New Orleans. Listen for The McCrary Sisters from Nashville on this track from that studio album. I am giving him the "Folllow Your Heart" award.
"Holes" by Sean Quinn and the Tremblers
EARIE ALERT: Sean Quinn and the Tremblers have already been awarded an Earie for their performance during the May Residency. Never Meant To Last was released back around the beginning of the year. This song from that album was the first one I ever heard Quinn sing - and as I have shared before a couple of people got up and walked out - put off by the unflinching description of coming of age sexually. As for me, I knew right then, I had a new favorite songwriter. It has been great seeing Sean Quinn grow as a musician and performer. The Tremblers don't play live very often, but you will get a chance to see them on my birthday (January 14) at The Local (formerly The Country) - more on that later. Meanwhile, I am going to award Sean Quinn and the Tremblers with the "Not-So-Secret Crush" award because... well just because...
"Dirty Ol' River" by Jon Byrd
EARIE ALERT: I first saw Jon Byrd play at The 5 Spot in September of 2013 - part of an incredible line-up put together by Mark Robinson. Since then, my appreciation for his music and humanity has steady increased. Byrd may be the hardest working Nashville artist of the year - at least in terms of local live shows, and he released his latest album (of which today's track is the title tune). Byrd and his band Byrd's Auto Parts (a rotating cast - that always includes some of the best players around) make real country music. For this award, I am going to borrow his catch phrase (created by his daughter) and give Jon Byrd the "Don't Rock, Ever" award. (He does come dangerously close sometimes, though.)
"Stones River" by The Coal Men
That show is September 2013 where I first saw Jon Byrd perform, was also my first chance to see Dave Coleman perform and to meet him. His long-running band The Coalmen have been a favorite of mine since that time, and they released - what I think is their best album - Pushed to the Side. This was the first track I heard from that album. As I have written previously, Dave Coleman is an in-demand sideman, a producer, and who knows what else. I realize that not only did I first see Jon Byrd and Dave Coleman on the same show, but both of these songs are about rivers. I love coincidences. I am giving The Coal Men the "Front and Center" award (a play on their album title because I think their music deserves to be front and center.)