Friday, September 29, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Space Jam Mix

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Well, we've reached the end of another week and another month of shuffles...

Temperatures have cooled off in Nashville - it actually is beginning to feel like Fall.

There is much to mourn, there is much in the world that needs to change- and which will only change if people of good conscience fight for that change.

There is also much good in the world, much beauty, and a great need to help share that good and beauty.

It's Friday, and on Friday E2TG plays songs from the "New Music" playlist which is currently just under 500 songs long - and includes songs received as recently as this week and songs added many months ago.  Perhaps I will move some of the older songs off the playlist... maybe.  Most of what I feature on E2TG will be new to someone who reads. 

I am feeling more comfortable being me and doing what I do. I still have a tendency to want to please everyone, but I have learned that when I try to do that I usually end of pleasing no one - least of all myself.

That last is true on so many levels about so many different parts of my life.

Let's just shuffle- 'cause that is one thing that I do...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Topical Thursday Morning Shuffle - Hambones and Spider Queens Mix

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About 2/3 of the way through American Aquarium's set at The Basement East last night, I had a thought. I was thinking about all the people (many of them people about my age or older or younger) who say things like "Music these days sucks." or something and then they will usually compare some classic band from an earlier era to some disposable pop star of the moment (as if there have not always been disposable pop stars).  My thought, my message to those people, is turn off top 40 radio and go out and see live music. I know I am very spoiled by living in Nashville, but I also know that there is great music (crossing all genres and styles) being made every night and every day all around world.   Cordovas opened for American Aquarium, and as I have come to expect from that band, they totally destroyed.  Seriously, Cordovas are a band I will never get tired of seeing live.

American Aquarium leader B.J. Barham has gone through some major changes in the last two and half years (which is about the time I first really got into the band).  Among those changes was the departure of his entire band.  He has a newly formed band, and they were incredible last night.  Most of the band comes from Texas (Barham is a North Carolina native) and also includes Nashville's own Adam Kurtz (Buck n Stuff) on pedal steel.  I may be bias, being a big Buck n Stuff fan, but I think Kurtz was one of the stars of the night.  As of Barham, he seemed energized and he seemed to be enjoying himself - bouncing around the stage and engaging with the band and the audience.  He speaks hard truths with love, and explores his own life with honesty. 

This show came after taking in the early show at The 5 Spot - which local Sarah Clanton and a band that included the bass player from The Barefoot Movement.  Clanton plays the cello and I had just recently been turned on to her by my DJ partner Sue.   After Clanton's set, Heather Mae from D.C. took the stage. She injected some much needed positive energy into my soul. I am a fan, now. Turns out she knows my friends in FuzzQueen - proving just how small the music world is, Tom Goss closed that early show, and I dug his music, too. 

I hate that I missed Benchmarks at The 5 Spot - as it turned out, I probably could have seen most of their set....  also last night E2TG 2015 Artist of the Year Jon Latham made his debut on Music City Roots with his killer band.  I am looking forward to catching the video of this.

Anyway, from my point of view, the state of music is just fine - the business/money side of it may be a different story, but that is a topic for another time.

Today, we jump back into our exploration of E2TG history.  E2TG began in May 2011.  A vast majority of my posts are the monring shuffles like this one.  The basic premise is, "Hey, I heard some cool music this morning on my way to work, let me tell you about."  So, let me....

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wild Wednesday Morning Shuffle - Sleep Talking Mix

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"I mean, I'm not disagreeing with what they are trying to say but..." 

"...they could have found a better way than dumping all that tea into the water."
"...why'd they have to sit at the lunch counters during lunch time? I just came to get a sandwich not to see this." 

Civil disobedience is supposed to be civil, it is not supposed to be convenient. (although I'm having a hard time understanding why someone respectfully kneeling during the National Anthem bothers people so much.  (that is a rhetorical question). 

Racism and other forms of bigotry are not new, but it is disheartening to see so many racists and bigots being emboldened by the current administration.  Maybe it is necessary to bring evil into the light in order to destroy it.  That, at least, is my hope.

 "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice."  Theodore Parker (later paraphrased by Martin Luther King Jr.)

Wow, the 3rd Quarter of 2017 is almost over... It's just about time for me to start thinking about the 3rd Annual Earie Awards and the 2017 Band(s) and Artist(s) of the Year.  As is often the case in recent months, I find that I cannot possibly get to all of the music sent my way.  I try my best because I know some really awesome stuff is slipping by me. And, even with those that slip by... my "New Music" playlist recently topped 500 songs.  Beginning Monday, I am going to adjust my schedule to cover more of the "New Music", and I will also be working to clear some older songs from that playlist. I am really excited about some of the new music that has been coming my way...

Today is Wednesday which is "Wild Wednesday" here at E2TG.  We shuffle up all the songs in my phone memory and present a decent cross-section of the diversity of music that I dig. Sometimes, I will think that maybe I could have a bigger audience if I narrowed my focus... but I could also have a bigger audience if I used click-bait headlines and made controversial statements about popular artists just for the sake of being controversial. I don't want to do any of those things... so here is E2TG just being E2TG..... Peace...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle- Lipstick Tubes and S**t Mix

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I'm running short on time... It's Tuesday where we take a look at what's "trending" on E2TG.   By the way, my "New Music" playlist just topped 500 tracks. Which means I have a ton of new and newish music yet to be featured here....  it's a great problem to have - especially since I only add music I dig.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Music City Monday Morning Shuffle - History and Hell Mix

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My take:  For a nation that is built upon the idea of freedom, the most patriotic thing one can do is to exercise that freedom in whatever way one deems necessary.  I saw video of people shouting obscenities during the National Anthem at men who choose to respectfully and silently protest by kneeling during the National Anthem.  I have to ask, who was being disrespectful?   And these people who are shouting obscenities are being inflamed and encouraged by the President of the United States.  These are difficult and discouraging times, but I do feel some hope that the resistance is growing and the investigations are deepening...

Well, it's the last full week of September.  It is officially Autumn -and yet the temperature is going to be near 90 the first part of this week...

And, it is Monday - which means Music City Monday on E2TG.  It's no secret that Nashville is experiencing an incredible period of growth.  And there are pains associated with that growth.  There is the fear of losing somethings that make Nashville distinctly Nashville. There are traffic woes and parking woes and cost of living woes.

I never know how the shuffle will play out any given day - that's part of the fun of using the random shuffle feature... but I purposefully front-load my playlist with a mix of old and new music from people who have been in Nashville longer than I have to those who are recent additions to our fair city.

My hope is that the newcomers will pay attention to the voices of the long-timers.  The history of Nashville and its music matters. The best local artists, in my opinion, recognize this and then thoughtfully and purposefully add their voices to that history.

My hope is that the long-time Nashville artists and residents, will open their ears to the voices and songs of the newcomers. Some amazingly talented people are moving here everyday - trying to find their place.  They bring with them their own history and stories that will help shape the Nashville of tomorrow.

The fact is, the old Nashville is not coming back. But, as to exactly what new Nashville is going to be is still being written. I hope both the newcomers and long-timers will contribute and help make that new Nashville the best it can be.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Lips are Moving Mix

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All right. It's Friday....  saw Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack doing their Daddy (duo)  thing last night at The Family Wash.  Lisa Oliver Gray joined them for a couple of songs.  Always great to see the two of them.  There are working on the third DADDY record and it is open to pre-orders now - through Will Kimbrough's PayPal account.

I'm going to jump right into the Featured Friday shuffle...

"Funny Feeling" by Luxury Mane

We start things off with the last track we have to feature from Lux Runnin Out - the 2016 album by this band from St. Petersburg, Florida.  I look forward to what's next from this band.

"Gluten Farmer" by Discount Ravioli

It's becoming a regular Friday thing to have a Discount Ravioli track or two or four as part of every Friday's shuffle. This is (apparently) a sequel to the classic Circus Propaganda song, "Gluten Farm" What is a Gluten Farmer?  Check out Discount Ravioli's Baby Arm Sessions and find out.  

"I Know" by The Maxx

Next up, we have another track from Funk Box - the latest album by this long-running 70s-style funk/soul band from Atlanta. Adding some groove to my Friday commute.  

"id" by Ugggy

This is the opening track from Ugggy's May 2017 release,  STŒND ALŒN (uncollected thots), (the third of seven so far this year).  It is a fifteen second introduction to the release. 

"Stagger Lee" by Taj Mahal

or "Stack-o-Lee". The first of two tracks from the Labor of Love album released in conjunction with the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Taj Mahal originally recorded a version of this song (which dates from 1911) on his De Ole Folks at Home album in 1969.

"Warning Sign" by Black Needle Noise  with Kendra Frost

Next up, we have another track from Black Needle Noise - which features John Fryer of This Mortal Coil.  The most recent album, called Lost in Reflections features a number of collaborations included this one with Kendra Frost. 

"News Blackout" by Tim Easton

Next, we have another cut from Strange Freedom: Songs of Love and Protest which Cafe Rooster put out recently. This track was originally released on Easton's 2008 album Ammunition. The words seem pretty appropriate today. 

"Song for Brenda" by Taj Mahal with Cool John Ferguson

Next, we have an instrumental - and a cool one at that  - from Labor of Love featuring Taj Mahal and Cool John Ferguson.  Ferguson is a frequent collaborator with Taj Mahal (and others).  Taj Mahal has said that Cool John Ferguson is among the top five guitar players in the world.  He is also the Director of Creative Development at Music Make Relief Foundation.

"Nedobity" by The Foresters

And we close out the shuffle with a track from the latest album (House Stories) by E2TG faves, The Foresters. There is some crossover between Discount Ravioli and The Foresters.   Near as I can tell, "Nedobity" is a reference to something or someone or somewhere in Connecticut.  In other words, it's a Connecticut thing. Follow E2TG on Facebook and maybe someone from The Foresters camp will explain what it means or not. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Topical Thursday Morning Shuffle - Down by the River Mix

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And then it was Thursday...

Last night, after work, I headed down to The Country to check out Ben de la Cour and Gaelynn Lea (who you read about in Collins' guest post earlier this week). (if you missed it, click the link).

Ben is one of my absolute favorite songwriters.

Gaelynn Lea (who won NPR's Tiny Desk Contest) is nothing short of brilliant. Playing traditional fiddle music and originals using a loop pedal and her unique playing style, she makes otherworldly and music that is at once dark and beautiful.

After that, I headed to Kay Bob's to hang out with some of my fellow WXNA DJs.  Every third Wednesday, Kay Bob's hosts WXNA Night and donates 15% of all sales to the station.  It's a fun hang with good food and a great beer selection.

Then, I crossed the river in time to catch Brian Milligram at The Crying Wolf.  I was reminded about how much I love his music.  Folk-punk delivered with passion. And he can pull off a sad song pretty well, too.

Today being Thursday, we return to our special Topical playlist  - said topic being self-referential and we delve into the history of E2TG.  It's an interesting history (if I do say so myself) covering a wide swath of musical styles. From the beginning, my approach to E2TG has been to write about music that moves me without much regard to the relative notoriety (or lack thereof) of the artists.  To that end, some bands I have written about have gone on to achieve greater notoriety and others have seemingly disappeared - at least from social media.  I take no credit and accept no blame from either. In my estimation, the value of the music itself is not really affected at all by what happens next for the artist. But, that's just my take...

Without further ado, here is the Topical Thursday (E2TG-centric) shuffle....

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wild Wednesday Morning Shuffle - Off the Beat 'n' Path Mix

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You know, I am generally a pretty optimistic guy. I mean, I don't think I'm Pollyanna about it, but I do tend to look for the bright spot in things or at least the light at the end of the tunnel (that is hopefully not an on-coming train.)

Lately though, it is not easy to maintain optimism. It's not just the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue... I actually think he is more of a symptom (although a potentially fatal symptom) of a large problem.  I often hear the suggestion that we are part of an empire in decline. And maybe we are... maybe we have been for some time. There were certainly warning signs at various points of my life.

As someone who is deeply passionate about music (and art and creativity of all kinds), it is very hard to see incredibly talented people - who pour their souls into their art and who make vital and beautiful things - struggle to find an adequate platform for their work.  And then to read about a junk culture flash-in-the-pan figure getting signed to a record label... I just don't know.  It's easy to lay blame on the record companies... or on Spotify or whatever... but I think this all goes to a deeper problem in our society - where as a whole, we don't value truth or beauty or substance...

For the most part, I try to focus upon the communities of which I am a part that do value those things... and I do my part to put truth and beauty and substance into the world...

To that end... it is Wednesday... I call it Wild Wednesday... but really it's like classic E2TG day... from the beginning, I hoped to place new and under-heard music alongside some of my all-time favorites and recent discoveries (of older music) and oddball choices that stretch and challenge genre boundaries...   Eventually, things got so big that I needed to create specialized playlists for new music or Nashville music or whatever... but I am glad that I can have one day a week to shuffle all of the music I have on my phone and see what madness ensues....

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle - Angels in the Architecture Mix

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I think I am well on the road to recovery from Americana Fest.  I've been laying low trying to make sure that I get this crud out of my system.

It is Tuesday.  We call this day, Trending Tuesday (because... well, Trending and Tuesday both start with T... and that sort of thing is cute - apparently).

But seriously, we shuffle up songs from our "New Music" playlist - which features primarily songs that have been submitted to us or songs from long-time favorites. It's all relatively recent - sometimes not yet released. It covers about every genre you can think of and a few you probably have never thought of.. it's all good, and that seems like a good reason to stop writing and get to the songs...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Music City Monday Morning Shuffle - Unconventional Mix

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Well.... Americana Fest 2017 is in the books... I feel kind of overwhelmed about what to write about the last two days (for me) of the conference. I think I got some sort of post-AMA drip thing going- runny nose and scratchy throat.... but I'm carrying on...

Look for some more detailed analysis forthcoming...  overall, I have to say, although I am probably not the best person to explain what Americana music is... as evidenced my attempts this past week to explain it to people... what I can say without any hesitation is that any festival that can find a place for as diverse a set of artists I saw (and missed) last week is okay in my book.  From Robyn Hitchcock to the Blackfoot Gypsies, from Dave Alvin to Brian Wright, from North Mississippi All-Stars to Darrin Bradbury... etc. etc. etc.

The other thing I want to say today is that I am super proud about the performances of the three E2TG Artists of the Year who played AMA Fest.  

2014 Artist of the Year Darrin Bradbury:  From his raucous single-song performance on Tuesday night - which ended with him leaping off the stage and disappearing into the crowd to his utterly charming and arresting performance at his official showcase Saturday night at The Anchor. The Saturday night show was probably among the five or six best Darrin Bradbury shows I have ever seen. (And I've seen a bunch).  Playing to a crowd - many of whom were there to see the nights final act - The Secret Sisters (who were phenomenal by the way) - Darrin pulled a good mix of his classics with some brand new songs and he utterly won over the crowd - as he has the amazing ability to do.

2015 Artist of the Year Jon Latham: For someone who did not have an official showcase (a glaring oversight in my opinion) - Latham managed to stay extremely busy all week.  He, too, was awesome on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, I missed a couple of his other performances during the week, but his closing set at the Cafe Rooster party on Saturday at Little Harpeth was among my favorite moments of the festival. Backed by his killer band, Jon commanded the stage in a way that he does better than most.  He took us, the audience, on an emotional ride.  His introduction to "Lifers" - the title track from his latest album - which he dedicated to the late Ben Eyestone, Jessi Zazu, and Chris Porter literally drove me to tears.

2016 Artist of the Year Brian Wright: Along with Aaron Lee Tasjan - Wright was one of busiest performers at the festival.  I saw him three times - all were spectacular, but his Friday night official showcase was nothing short of brilliant.  Wright is one of the few artists who can be equally captivating solo acoustic as he is playing full-on rock and roll with his amazing band.  He flat out gives his all to every performance and I for one cannot look away when he is playing.

So much more to write about but not enough time...

In case you missed it, please check out the latest Guest blog post from Collins de la Cour.  It is her review of Gaelynn Lea's utterly captivating performance at the American Legion on Friday night.  Check it out HERE.

Meanwhile, it Monday and we have another Music City Monday shuffle of songs somehow connected to the city of music...

Guest Blog Entry | Gaelynn Lea & The End of Times

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“You would think that the Finnish would have a lot of beauty to recreate in their art but surprisingly you find that the music is supremely dark and menacing. This is a traditional Finnish fiddle tune that I've adapted. It sounds like the apocalypse.”

Gaelynn Lea performs from her wheelchair. She began playing violin 20 years ago after a creative music teacher helped her to adapt a playing style that suited her frame. Lea holds her instrument like a tiny cello and loops her classically trained rhythms and melodies to create a symphonic cacophony that is both glorious in its reach and profoundly introspective.

Winner of NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Concert, Lea now tours the country full-time, performing original songs and clever adaptations of traditional folk songs and choice covers. Her well earned platform also gives her the opportunity to give talks advocating for people with disabilities. Lea has recently graced the TED Talk stage to give her own experience of “Sexuality, Disability & the Journey to Inner Freedom.” I highly recommend giving this talk a listen.

I first met Gaelynn at the 2017 Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City. Since then my husband, Ben de la Cour has had the opportunity of touring with her to open shows across the northeast and midwestern states. Her performance quality is transcendent to say the least and her influencing positivity and confidence has been a huge source of encouragement to our family.

This past evening she perform an unofficial showcase at Green Room Music Source’s official AmericanaFest party at The American Legion, Post 82. Because many stages are not made to be wheelchair accessible she didn't even bat an eye to the accommodations of bringing the sound equipment down for an intimate, audience-level performance. Lea comes across just as confident on stage as off.

But back to the apocalypse. She certainly wasn't wrong about the tones and cadence of the performance she gave. All I'll say though is that if her ‘apocalypse’ is indeed what it will sound like in the end of times, we may all count ourselves lucky to be caught in the rapture.

Peter Jackson, wherever you are out there, listen up! I know a woman with a fiddle who needs to score your next movie.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Dr. Strangelove Dough Mix

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Americana Music Association Fest 2017 rolls on... I think my total sleep for this week is still in the single digits. Maybe the very low double digits...I'm too tired to figure that out.  But no rest for the wicked... and things roll on tonight. Once again, there is way too much going to catch it all, but there are numerous really cool things happening:

Early this evening: The Wild Ponies host their annual Happy Hour - at The Family Wash.  Three years ago, it was at that event that I first me Julie Christensen and Grant Peeples - not a bad day.

Also, Bloodshot Records is holding their party - outdoors at The Groove in East Nashville with Jon Langford and much more, Tim Carroll's Rock n Roll Happy Hour is an official AMA event, if you are from out of town, that is a slice of the real Nashville experience that you should check out, and the fine folks at Green Room Music Source are throwing a party at the American Legion in Inglewood.  Technically, it may be possible to catch at least of part of all of these... I'll leave that to you to figure out.

Later, much to be recommended... Joey Kneiser's showcase is at The East Room, India Ramey is at The Country, and The Basement East has a great lineup that includes Little Bandit, Patrick Sweany, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and E2TG Artist of the Year 2016 Brian Wright.  There is also great music at The OG Basement and other venues across the city. It is probably physically impossible to catch all of these, but you are more than welcome to.make an attempt. Better yet, pick one and then enjoy that show and don't stress over all that you are missing.

Hey - ICYMI, we have an AMA-themed guest blog post from Collins de la Cour.  I love the way she writes, and she has some good things to say.   Check it out HERE.

Well - I have managed to keep up on blog posts during AMA, and today is FRIDAY! This is the day when we post about "featured" music on E2TG.  Let's shuffle!

Guest Blog Post | A Thursday Sermon with Reverend Sekou

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Tardiness is not a quality of mine that I value. Time and time again I try to show up before the bell. I will do all the preparatory, anxious worrying about timeliness only to still fail the clock.

So picture me today, hustling into a tight parallel parking spot, shuffling with my AmericanaFest badge tangled in my hair, hurrying through the crowded hallways of the Westin, rushing past the gorgeously groomed industry professionals. I'm on my way to a songwriter's round hosted by NPR’s World Cafe moderator Jewly Hight.

Being tardy to these events is frowned upon to say the least and the doorman scowls at me as I reach for the door. As I draw open the heavy oak out pours the sound of a growling, powerful vibrato, “Bury me in the struggle of freedom! - In the arms of someone who knows my name.”

Reverend Sekou is performing. Behind him sits his guitarist who rips at the air with an electric, Hendrix accompaniment to Sekou's gesturing spiritual. With his hands free, he floats them in the air before him as if he were plucking at the vibrations of his own voice, harping the tones, casting his spell, making you believe in the power we share when we share life together. With each verse he grasps at the air, drawing his audience closer, still closer, “until something beautiful is born.”

In the tremor of the hall, after the hum of his words is left lingering, the audience stands, cheering as if they were at a venue and not at a moderated panel in a conference room. The wild clapping and shouting is contagious.

I try and find my seat.

Jewly Hight quietly subdues the audience’s passion respectfully, applauded Reverend Sekou and calmly asks where the inspiration for his songs comes from. It is clear that though his background as a Southern, charismatic preacher from the Arkansas Delta is prominent there is a modern, youthful exhibit to his bluesy rock-gospel.

Like the best of storytellers Sekou, with a tone, blurs the air around him like a film reel going back into time. He invites the audience to see the world as he sees it and locks us inside his recent account of the events around Charlottesville, Virginia where he and 600 other men and women of faith boarded themselves inside their worship hall while Nazis parade the local streets around them with torches.

The inspiration he says comes from the strengths of each soul within that church to battle against white supremacy with the peaceful hum of their voices united in song.

Collectively, we the audience seem to realize that Reverend Sekou’s message strikes a note within each of us. It is the reason why we are in the conference hall today. We are all here to unite our disparate voices in song and because his church is carried around with him, today we were his parishioners. In my own secular way I knew that even to show up late to this modest, modern revival was better than to not show up at all.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Topical Thursday Morning Shuffle - An Artist Man Mix

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I need to start by saying cancer sucks... I hate it!  Rest in Peace to Grant Hart (Husker Du).  Along with The Replacements and Minutemen, Husker Du were part of the holy trinity of great American post-punk bands on the 1980s.

Whew... I am somehow still functioning (at least as good as I normally function).  So far this week, I've seen somewhere close to 15 hours of live music (with 7-8 more on tap tonight), worked my regular schedule, posted my normal blog posts, recorded a radio show, run into a ton of good friends, strategically managed to drink quite a bit for a fraction of the cost ;-), posted on Instagram for the radio station, danced at 1:00am at The Family Wash, and even got to sleep - just a little.

Last night, I saw the amazing Bonnie Whitmore, K. Phillips (who co-wrote the Erica Blinn song we premiered last week), and the always enchanting Amelia White.

Tonight: As if the case almost every day/night this week, there is a ton of amazing music.  I plan to start my evening at The 5 Spot.  E2TG Favorite Mark Robinson Band.  This is Mark's fifth year running of holding down the Thursday early slot at The 5 Spot. This year, in addition to hi stellar band, he will be joined by Dave Coleman (who I saw playing with Amelia White last night), and one of my favorite local songwriters Kevin Gordon (according to my Facebook memories, two years ago, I was attending the City Winery CD Release show for Gordon for his most recent album).

Speaking of City Winery, their lineup tonight includes, Robyn Hitchcock, Dave Alvin, Tony Joe White and more.

If all goes as planned, my evening will end with North Mississippi All-Stars and Blackfoot Gypsies at The Beast.

Meanwhile, I have Shuffle to present.  It somehow is Thursday, and that means today's shuffle comes from the special E2TG Topical playlist... featuring songs from across the six year history of this blog.

Let's shuffle!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wild Wednesday Morning Shuffle - Honk if You Feel Fine Mix

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First off, I join the rest of the Nashville music community in mourning the loss and celebrating the life and spirit of Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins. I am a fan of that band and have written about them on E2TG.  I never got to meet Jessi, but I have been reading about her courageous battle with cancer.  I send my love out to all those who knew and loved her.


Second, I guess Americana Week is officially kicked off.  One again, Lil Deb and Shilah threw one hell of kick off party.  Whiskey Wolves of the West opened, Chuck Mead and his friends once again blurred the lines of Americana with his set that included covers of The Jam's "In the City", Ian Drury's "Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll", and even Paul Anka's "(You're) Having My Baby" with Sarah Gayle Meech.

Cafe Rooster Records hosted the third segment and they tend to do, they ruled. It was great to see not one, not two, but three E2TG Artists of the Year rocking the packed house.  It was also great to see hear (on a night of many covers), many in the crowd singing along to Jon Latham and Darrin Bradbury original songs. Ladies Gun Club made a rare appearance (that I really hope will be less rare in the months to come), and guests Lilly Hiatt and Aaron Lee Tasjan were awesome.  (Aaron Lee is up for an AMA award - Best Emerging Artist - tonight!)

The Mavericks closed the night and were nothing short of spectacular with many guests and surprise covers.

Beyond all that, it great to see some many people - some I haven't had the chance to see a some a while.   I'm pretty tired today, and there are still five days to go!

By the way, ICYMI, please check out yesterday's guest blog post by Collin de la Cour  (the first ever E2TG guest post!)

It's Wednesday, and we get wild - with a shuffle of ALL THE SONGS on my phone.....

Let's do this!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Guest Blog Post | Sounds of Solidarity with Collins de la Cour

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Not being one to enter a room and immediately start shaking hands, I'll begin this guest blog with an introduction that suits my nature and allows me to skirt the edges to share a little about myself before I jump in with my commentary. Joe has graciously agreed to allow me, Collins, to help cover some of the talent that will be showcased during this year’s 2017 Americana Fest. I intend to do just that.

For months I have been looking forward to this year's line-up. This being my second Fest I feel like I've shed my sea legs and am ready to actually enjoy myself this year. To do so I've outlined a plan on who I will make sure to support. This plan though began long ago, on one blurry summer's day twenty years ago...

The woman was never a great photographer. She was hardly even a good one. Though for reasons all her own, she inserted herself into the folds of an Atlanta based, Buddhist community as their official photographer. On July 22nd 1997 this woman, with her untrained eye and trembling hands, captured a blurry image of me in a crowd gathered around an equally blurry though poised and seated, Rosa Parks.

This photograph - one I keep framed even in it blurriness - frames Mrs. Parks with her ankles elegantly crossed and a bell of flowers draped across her lap. She is waving, smiling it seems with her chin slightly towards her chest as if giving a bashful bow. Three smeary faces to her left, is me: an enthusiastic ten-year-old, dressed in her Sunday’s best.

It is in this image that my blurry cast will forever be captured in hazey stop-motion. In what I assume was the beginnings of a wave, my right hand fist forward in an empowered, clenched symbol of solidarity. Though I didn't know what my gesture meant at the time, or even that I was making one, I did know that my parents adored this picture and would smile over it with a joke between them that they’d done something right in the rearing of their little girl.

Growing up in Georgia it would be easy to assume that by pure virtue of being Southern I would have been witness to racial injustice. Somehow though because of my parents devotion to a widely international Buddhist community, I was raised in a hive of multiculturalism.  It wasn’t until I was in my teens that the realities of racism in America became real to me. To that point I honestly believed that it was a thing of the past; something overcome by Rosa Parks’ generation's struggles and capped by the “I Have A Dream” speech.

It was my folk’s divorce and the need to find affordable housing which led my single mom to move out of the city and into the suburbs. The 25 minute drive O.T.P. (outside the perimeter - for those unfamiliar with Metro Atlanta Sprawl) placed our family in a totally different world. This move would come to mark the first time that my whiteness and the privilege of it would come to mean anything to me at all.

Though I was the new girl, scrubbed clean with freckles, red hair and braces, I was for the most part welcomed to my new school without mayfair. I don’t suppose anyone would have guessed how surreal it felt to be among a class of very nearly all white children. Today I know that my whiteness granted me the freedom of easy inclusion in that suburban world. It was a protection that allowed me in many ways to be blind to the realities behind why there would be such a distinct demographic difference from living in a Southern city to a Southern suburb.

Outwardly my family fit the accepted mold. Subtleties in the ways in which I was included into the fabric of this new community led me to learn what coded behavior to perform in order to continue feeling normal among my new peers. Even though my family's religious practices were outside the scope of what was expected, we had been able to shelter our difference in this community, a luxury (you could say) that many who found themselves living in this Georgian suburb were not able to do.

Today I live in Nashville, TN. I have grown up to embrace my upbringing and have learned to side-eye anyone who would callously rebuke a child for their family's religious beliefs, heritage or race.These days it seems silly that I ever allowed suburban normalcy to infiltrate my self esteem. It is clear to me now how easy it can be for prejudices to become internalized in communities that are too homogeneous.

This past Fourth of July, 2017 I went down to a venue to listen to two of my favorite songwriters perform: Mary Gauthier and Kevin Gordon. I go out to listen to each of these artists whenever I get the opportunity because embedded in the rhythms of their turns of phrase are un-blurred images of solidarity. With clarity they speak to the ‘normal’ and call it what it many won't - discrimination.

On this particular Independance Day, during their respective sets, Gauthier sang a song about mercy; Gordon about marching straight ahead through a daytime gathering of the Ku Klux Klan. I easily locked into their cadences and waltzed through the brackish flood waters of their Louisiana born lyricsims.

In listening to Gauthier’s song “Mercy Now”, I came to love my country despite its current misgivings. Entranced in the narrative-coupled cadence of Gordon’s song “Colfax”, I felt compelled to keep on marching, straight ahead towards a better tomorrow.

When the sound man switched over to house music, the fireworks began popping off in celebration. Caught in between the tradition of the evening and the terseness of the night's musical message I was left feeling nostalgic for a time that we as a nation haven't really gotten to yet. I reflected on how it was the strengths of Gauthier’s and Gordon’s role models who had emboldened each of them with their passions to communicate the all too normal prejudices we still see within our society.

It was meeting Rosa Parks, on that blurry day in July more that 20 years ago, when an equally august role model influenced me to not be blind to the potentials of prejudice.  Mrs. Parks’ nonviolent resistance modeled dignity and respect in the face of strained humanity as did Gauthier’s father, brother, church and country - as did Gordon’s marching band leader.

Artforms allow our humanity to peek through while we tossle and play with the at times harsh details of our existence. In art and especially in the sharing of it, we have the power to intentionally attune our awareness to the diversity of our spaces, notice patterns of exclusion and change these patterns to reflect a more dynamic humanity.

A form of nonviolent resistance in its own right, music may be worn like a tailor made garment, lavishly expressive and customizable. The tradition of weaving experience into melody is as American as Searsucker and Americana, Roots Music is a pattern of our country’s fabric that is worn by a broad and diverse community.

We who love the history of Roots Music know its strong influences: from Blues to Gospel, Cajun to Creole folk, Appalachian folk, Zydeco, Spirituals, Scotch-Irish Ballads, Tejano, and Native American music, among many others. By listening and supporting the diversity of our musical artists we have an opportunity to compel a vision of unity and to strengthen and fortify ourselves in divisive times.

With Americanafest upon us I feel compelled to acknowledge patterns of diversity in my own musical community. In my sphere, I’ve inadvertently accumulated a lot of white men with guitars. Though each of these acclaimed songwriters reflect awareness and respect in their art, I know that it would enrich my perspective to change this unintentional pattern of exclusion and seek out more diversity in the songwriters that I support during this year’s conference.

In reviewing the 2018 Lineup for Americanafest, I am pleased to note that the conference itself has also been deliberate about reflecting the scope and scale of who Americana music is created by and for.

Because it is impossible for one person to cover an entire scene when there are so many excellent performers to support, I will be helping Ear to the Ground by reviewing some of the Americana performers who are keeping the diversity of heritage and roots music strong in this year’s Americana Fest official showcases.

Many thanks in advance to Joe for agreeing to let me scribble my thoughts on his well loved blog. May the Festivities begin!

Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle - Opening Credits Mix

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Whew! Americana Fest week is (kind of) underway.  Last night was like a pre-pre AMA Fest night. And what a night, it started for me at Betty's Grill to check out Jon Byrd and the awesome pedal steel player Paul Niehaus who played a fun mix of traditional country songs and original tunes (included a couple of Davis Raines songs).  Betty's is a great DIY venue which works very hard at providing a space for a wide variety of great music.

Next, it was off to The Family Wash for Homemade Sin (less Dan Baird - who is undergoing treatment for a form of leukemia).  I have been looking forward to this show since I heard about it, and my expectations were pretty high... and they were wildly exceeded in every respect. First of all, it was yet another reminder of the incredible community that exists around music. Time and again, when I musician goes down to illness or injury or other hardship, it is heartening to see the community rally in support. It belies the common (and IMHO false) narrative of musicians being selfish or self-centered.

There were so many aspects to last nights show that were meaningful to me that I am having a hard time putting them down (at least in time I have to write this).  First off all, it was all just really, really great rock and roll music. Call it roots or Americana or whatever, it was just rock and roll and it was damn good!

Homemade Sin features Warner Hodges (Jason and the Scorchers), Mauro Magellan (Georgia Satellites), and a brand new bass player Sean Savacool.  Joe Blanton is filling in for Dan Baird.

Seeing Warner and Joe on stage together was pretty awesome.  I have been a fan of both of their music for over 30 years.  Warner from the Scorchers and Joe Blanton from The Enemy and Royal Court of China.

Speaking of The Scorchers.  With Dan out, the band have added a few Scorchers songs to their set and last night Jason Ringenberg himself was on hand to sing a few.  When they ripped into the classic Scorchers version of Dylan's "Absolutely Sweet Marie" the usually sedate dinner crowd at The Family Wash exploded and everyone sang along. It was thirty-two years ago this month when I first say The Scorchers live.  Jason still bounces around the stage like a whirling dervish and Warner still slings his guitar effortlessly and deftly.   Other special guests included Elizabeth Cook, Chuck Mead, and Aaron Lee Tasjan (with Jon Latham).

I was happy to get to hang a little with Robert Logue (Royal Court of China, The Shakers) and Chuck Allen (The East Nashvillian) and hear and share stories from back in the day.

One last thing (and this is kind of a hard story to explain so bear with me):  Dan Baird's old band The Georgia Satellites were a big part of the Nashville music scene in the 1980s when I was coming of age. The Satellites are probably best known for their huge hit "Keep Your Hands to Yourself". When I was nineteen years old, I started keeping a journal (I kind of think I was blogging but there wasn't any way to post it back then). The journal was mostly mundane details of my life, stray bits of random writing (fiction etc.), and song lyrics. From the time, I first heard "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" on WRVU (the Vanderbilt student radio station and predecessor to WXNA), I must have included lyrics to that song in my journal dozens of times.  And I watched in amazement as it grew from this local thing to a #2 song on the pop charts.  It was a pretty cool and pretty rare thing since most of the music I listened to was pretty non-mainstream.  So, there was a strange and wonderful feeling when the band launched into that song I got to sing along with Jon Latham and Aaron Lee Tasjan.  And then when Joe Blanton turned his guitar over to Aaron Lee Tasjan... I was just floored. Music for me is ALL about connections and there were so many connections made last night. It was a perfect way to begin a very busy week that promises many great moments.

As I mentioned yesterday, E2TG is going to break some new ground for us this week, as we welcome our first guest blogger - Collins de la Cour who will be covering some select Americana Fest shows for us. Her introductory post is coming later today, and I am blown away by how good it is, and I think you will be, too.

It is Tuesday, and this is the day that we shuffle up songs from the "New Music" which is mostly (fairly) recent music that we have had the chance to feature here.  We have a pretty cool mix today so let's not dally any more....

Monday, September 11, 2017

Music City Monday Morning Shuffle - Bend with the Breeze Mix

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Well, it is officially Americana Fest week in Nashville. Looking forward to seeing some out of town friends this week, and of course, seeing and hearing some amazing music. I'm going to try to avoid stressing out too much over all the great shows I will miss because it is logistically impossible to make them all.

I am excited to announce my first ever guest writer.  Look for some AMA reviews and commentary from Collins de la Cour.  I'm really excited to take this next step with E2TG.

Tonight, I have some pre/non-AMA shows.  Meanwhile, we are expecting a couple of days of wind and rain from Irma. So far I have gotten good reports from friends and family in Florida.

Meanwhile, it is Monday. On Monday we focus in on Nashville, the Music City... new stuff, old stuff - it's just all more or less connected to Nashville.  Let's Shuffle!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Hashtag No Filter Mix

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In case you missed it, E2TG premiered the new single from Erica Blinn this morning.  Check it out HERE.

Other than that, it is Friday - and this is my last post before Americana Fest madness gets underway next week... sort of... I guess Monday and Tuesday's posts will technically be before AMA Fest, but Monday night, I'm going to see Homemade Sin at The Family Wash.  This is Homemade Sin without Dan Baird who is recovering from an illness. Warner Hodges and Joe Blanton (two folks who I have been fans off for over 30 years) will be helping to hold down the fort. Looking forward to seeing lots of friends that night.

Since it is Friday, E2TG brings you Featured Friday - songs from my "New Music" playlist... let's shuffle...

E2TG Song Premiere: "Dance With The One (Who Brought You Here)" - Erica Blinn

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I am super excited to have the opportunity to premiere the second single from East Nashville's own Erica Blinn's forthcoming album, Better Than Gold.  "Dance with the One (Who Brought You Here)" was co-written by Blinn and Kristopher Michael Phillips (aka K Phillips - his first Nashville co-write).

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Topical Thursday Morning Shuffle - Best Get Over It Mix

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Thinking about the human beings who are or who possibly will be affected by Hurricane Irma and those still reeling from Harvey.  Thinking of those whose lives are in turmoil because of political gamesmanship and inhuman policies. Thinking of those suffering loss of any kind. Thinking how my problems can seem insurmountable until I can step back and keep things in perspective.

Thinking and figuring out actions to take to go with those thoughts.

It's Thursday and today's shuffle literally covers the entire history of E2TG from Artists I wrote about in the  earliest days of the blog in 2011 to those I just learned about recently.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wild Wednesday Morning Shuffle - Spike Driver Mix

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I'm back after an unintentionally extra long, long weekend.  So much going on in the world. And, right now, I don't feel able to even begin to comment effectively.  Life is interesting. Life can be hard. Life can be unexpected. Life is a constant lesson being learned. Sometimes grace (for want of a better word) comes from unexpected places and people. It is easy to focus on all of the negatives - whether it is the state of the world or the state of our own lives, whether it is forces beyond our control or our own human fallibility.

It is Wednesday and as per our regular schedule, I have shuffled up all of the songs currently residing on my phone memory card. The results are "wild" which is why I call Wednesday shuffle's "Wild Wednesday".  Things start off in a decidedly experimental vein before moving into standard (if awesome) song structures.

Let's shuffle!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Dutch Baby Mix

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Harvey hit Middle Tennessee last night and today. Obviously nothing like Texas, but tornado warnings and flooding all around.

Meanwhile, it's a big day for a couple of E2TG favorites.  2015 E2TG Artist of the Year, Jon Latham, releases his long awaited follow-up to Real Bad News.  Lifers is out on Cafe Rooster Records and available at a bunch of the usual places to find music.

Also, Ugggy (1/2 of 2016 Band of the Year, Valued Customer) releases his seventh mixtape in seven months today. It's called The H​{​ear​}​T Beet Tape.  Expand you mind and your horizons.
"smoke to it. . . .
rap to it. . . .
nap to it . . .
peace to all the gods . . ."

Meanwhile, it's Friday and we have a pretty wild mix of songs from our "New Music" playlist to feature today....