Friday, December 29, 2017

E2TG 2017 Finale: Bands and Artists of the Year

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook!

Well, as promised, I am back from my long break one last time for 2017 to announce the 2017 Artists and Bands of the Year.

A brief history (you can skip this part if your read/heard this before - but there may be some new nugget of information).

E2TG officially started in May 2011.  Before that, I had been posting my morning shuffles on Facebook (and sometimes Twitter) for about two years. With encouragement, I decided to turn that into a blog. In the very early days, my shuffles were mostly older songs from my collection along with some more recent "discoveries" - mostly somewhat mainstream indie music. I knew I wanted E2TG to be more that that, but I wasn't sure where to begin. When you start a new music blog - artists and bands typically don't start sending you music right away.

I began to notice that bands that I had never heard of started following me on Twitter. I decided to give some of them a listen, and lo and behold, some of them were good.  So, I came up with the idea of posting about a band every week and calling it the Twitter Band of the Week - this eventually was shortened to Band of the Week to reflect the different ways I got music.

When I got to the end of 2011, I realized a had named thirty something "Bands of the Week" (in those early days it seemed to be mostly bands and even when it was a solo artist - I just stuck with the generic name).  Anyway, on a lark, I decided to have a Band of the Year Readers Poll (it was half tongue in cheek - because I didn't have a huge readership by that point - a few loyal readers). It turned out to be great fun and did draw a lot of people to the site.  In the end, a band from England called The Mobbs attracted a large late turnout and won the crown. Ubiquity Machine came in second (Howard Rabach of UM was probably my first reader that I didn't already know). 

The poll was so much fun that I decided to start a Band of the Month Poll.  All of the Bands of the Week would compete,  The first few months were fun. I think it was January or February of 2012, there was an epic battle between The End Men and MAKAR that was especially fun. At the end of 2012, I had twelve Bands of the Month - I added a few "Wild Card" selections and the second Band of the Year was held in December of 2012.  Skeletons in the Piano from Upstate New York won that,

By 2013, the monthly polls stopped being so much fun, and I started realizing that it drew attention away from the music a little. Also, the number of artists I started find grew so that featuring just one per week was not enough. So I moved to Featured Artists of the Month (usually ten per month).

When I reached the end of 2013, I decided to forgo the year end poll, and just name my Band of the Year. Brooklyn's The End Men were the obvious and deserving choice. They were, at the time, the most tagged artist on my blog (they are still second), and I loved and love their music.

In 2014, my life turned upside down, and in the midst of that I met Darrin Bradbury and subsequently began to get more connected to Nashville's music community which was undergoing a major renaissance. I don't think anyone who read E2TG back then was a bit surprised when I named Darrin Artist of the Year. (It didn't make sense to call him a "Band of the Year" - because he was mostly playing solo at that point).

Darrin introduced me to Jon Latham, and by the spring of 2015, I was pretty well set on naming Jon the Artist of the Year (in fact Darrin recommended him for the award), Then, he released his debut album Real Bad News and that sealed the deal.

By 2016, I was fully entrenched in the Nashville music community and was getting a ton more great music from all over the country. I was having a hard time deciding upon a Band or Artist of the Year (so many worthy choices). In the end, I got the idea of having a Band and an Artist of the Year, and furthermore I picked two Artists of the Year - one from Nashville and one not from Nashville. I tried to be clear about the fact that this was not intended to be seen a local vs. national/international distinction. It merely reflected that while Nashville had begun to kind of dominate E2TG - I wasn't nor did I intend to be just a "Nashville Music Blog".  I named Valued Customer Band of the Year - I had been following them for years and their Hugecup album was a remarkable achievement.  Jason P. Krug was named Artist of the Year - non-Nashville. Following the demise of Grimm Generation - a long-time E2TG fave, he released his masterpiece - a meditation on loss called Zen of Losing.  Brian Wright was named Artist of the Year - Nashville.  He made great music - both solo and backing ALT - Live, and he co-founded a new record company - Cafe Rooster Records.

Which brings us to 2017.  For E2TG - 2017 was a year of growth, and I think that is reflected in the list of close to 100 Earie Awards that I handed out - a list that included some well-known national and international acts which I was able to feature - along with the lesser known but awesome bands and artists who continue to be the primary focus of E2TG.
You can start reading again if you skipped the history lesson

Without further ado, here are the 2017 E2TG Bands and Artists of the Year!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - I Feel Fine, "Honk" Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

Well, this is it!  The final shuffle of the year, and the final batch of Earie awards.

Since I just know I will have forgotten someone who really should have won an Earie, I wanted to take this time to offer a sincere expression of appreciation to everyone who helped make this year bearable.  If you released music that I heard, if you played a show I attended, if we attended a show together, if we shared music on social media, if you came to one of my residency shows, if you listened to Double Shot, if you read his blog, if you helped to bring great music to people, if you are reading this now, thank you!

As I have been mentioning, I plan to post the Artist(s)/Band(s) of the Year next week. I can announce today that, expanding on what I did last year, E2TG will hand out a total of four "Golden Earies" for 2017.  There will be both an Artist and a Band of the Year for both Nashville and non-Nashville.

As I explained last week, this should not be taken to mean that the Nashville awards are some sort of local award vs. the non-Nashville being a national award.  These designations merely serves to acknowledge both the roots of E2TG as well as the fact that while there is a definite Nashville focus, I will always remember and appreciate the bands and artists from other cities that supported E2TG before most in Nashville knew I existed.

Well, let's get  to the final shuffle of the year:

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Trending Thursday Morning Shuffle - What Have I Become? Mix

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. 

Let's shuffle:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wild Wednesday Morning Shuffle - Use Your Words Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

3 more shuffles left in 2017.  Feeling kind of ready to kick this year to the curb, but we have some business left to do.

I have a few more out of shuffle Earies to hand out. 

First, the "New Kid(s) in Town" award: we have a tie!  Congrats to WXNA and to Cafe Rooster Records.

WXNA - words cannot express how happy I am that this station started about a year and half ago. Not only because it has given me to incredible opportunity to have a show with Sue Havlish, but also because it is such a valuable to asset to the city of Nashville. The founders were all long-time DJ's at Vanderbilt's WRVU. When their bid to save that station fell short, they went to work and man did they work!  That work has paid off in spades. A couple of months ago, WXNA was voted Best Radio Station in Nashville by the readers of the Nashville Scene. To some, it may not be clear just how amazing an accomplishment this was. Nashville has a celebrated radio history. In terms of terms of  "alternative" music - WRLT Lightning 100 has been an institution for nearly 30 years. For WXNA to be voted best radio station in this town after just over one year of operation reflects the void that the station has filled in this community. As I have said, I am still flabbergasted to be able to play even a small part in this station.

Cafe Rooster Records - Not long after WXNA went on the air, Brian Wright, Sally Jaye, and Darrin Bradbury decided to create Cafe Rooster Records to release their records and other worthwhile releases. Their Americana Music Fest parties are already legendary (after just two years).  Their line-up includes releases by Brian Wright, Ladies Gun Club, Darrin Bradbury, and Jon Latham (his latest album, Lifers is one of the best of 2017.  They also released the incredible Strange Freedom: Songs of Love and Protest compilation. Cafe Rooster Session Vol. 2 was released a couple of months ago and features not only the aforementioned artists, but also some very special guests. In May, Cafe Rooster Records hosted one of the E2TG Residency Nights and put on an epic show that I will not soon forget.

I can't wait to see what the future holds for both of these Nashville treasures.

I would be remiss if I didn't give the "Co-Conspirator" award to Collins de la Cour. Collins was the first ever guest contributor to E2TG - contributing some insightful coverage of the Americana Music Fest back in September.  Look for more from Collins in 2018!

This is the time of the Earies when I start stressing out over who I may have accidentally omitted.

Anyway, after today, we have two more days of Earies and still a fair number of awards to hand out. Next week, the "Golden Earies" for Band(s) and/or Artist(s) of the Year for 2017.

Today's shuffle (as we do on Wednesdays) comes from all of the songs in my phone's memory.  Things can get wild - so let's shuffle:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle - Poison Water Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

In the last few days, I have had more than more conversation about how Nashville's embarrassment of musical riches can be easy to take for granted. On any given night, we can wander out to your favorite neighborhood bar and be likely to see any one or more than one or all of the following: world-class musicians, musicians who have backed up the biggest names in the music business, top-notched songwriters (young and not-so-young).  All of this while mingling with other incredibly talented musicians, songwriters, photographers, journalists, artist managers, publicists, etc - in a totally loose and casual environment.

Saturday - I took my daughter to see Fats Kaplin and Kristi Rose at The 5 Spot - with Wes Langlois, Justin Amaral, and Daniel Seymour. Plus special guests Paul Burch and Kevin Welch. 

Last night, I headed to Dee's in Madison for the weekly Madison Guild Monday - this week hosted by Megan Palmer and featuring the "Backyard Bitches" featuring an incredible line-up of talented songwriters - some backed by equally talented musicians.

Well - just four more shuffles for 2017. This is one of those four - so let's get to it!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mondo Monday Morning Shuffle - Leaned in Close Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

I guess this is what they call the home stretch.... As we head into the final week of the Earie Awards for 2017 (as well as the final week of shuffles for 2017), I find myself reflecting on the year that is winding down.  On many, many levels, it was a difficult year, but I remain bolstered by the incredibly wonderful people I have come to know and the incredible variety of amazing music that has come to my attention just because I started writing this blog.

The highs of this year were high and the lows were low, and I prepare to enter 2018 with much uncertainty as to what it will bring. I have been pondering some tweaks to E2TG for the coming year - something I have done periodically over the six and half years of this site. I'm not sure what those will be. Certainly there are things that don't work like they used to  (like my inability to embed my video playlists). I guess, I'll just say - stay tuned.

Let's jump right into the shuffle and the Earies for Monday December 18, 2017....

Friday, December 15, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Didn't Seem to Mind Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

Well, I guess you could say we are in the home stretch of the 2017 Earie Award and actually for 2017 for E2TG overall.  In so many ways, 2017 has been a very difficult year for myself and many others. I guess when I look back, I am trying to focus on the good moments, the new friendships, the accomplishments (my own and others), and hope despite the fear.

Anyway, after today, we have five more shuffles and five more days of Earies. The Golden Earies (Artist(s) and/or Band(s) of the Year) will be posted between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Let's jump to it!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Trending Thursday Morning Shuffle - Colorful Recipes Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook!

Well, I'm back after being a little under the weather yesterday.

Happy Birthday to the 2014 E2TG Artist of the Year, and the most tagged artist in E2TG history - Darrin Bradbury!

Only 7 more shuffles and 7 more days of the 2017 Earies.  After next Friday, I will be out for the rest of the year, but you can expect the Golden Earie Awards to drop during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Meanwhile, we have another batch of Earie awards that are burning a hole in my pocket (small award or big pocket?).   As always, no nominees - my categories are arbitrary and sometimes silly but the awards are heartfelt.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle - Five More Minutes Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

Well, I'm running a bit late today, and for some reason, I am really tired. So, I'm going to power through this shuffle.  I created a special playlist of artists I wanted to highlight for the end of the year for my "Earie Awards".  Step right up!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mondo Monday Morning Shuffle - Was It An Accident? Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

Well, it's time for week two of the 2017 Earie Awards.  I handed out about 25 awards in week 1.  Two weeks to go.  If all goes as planned that we have 10 more shuffles in 2017 and then I will be taking some time off work.  Expect the Golden Earies to post during that break period.

First up a very special "Earie" award to Mary Sack for her tireless work all year round to promote great music, and especially for her dedication to the annual Get Behind The Mule: Tribute to Tom Waits and Benefit for Second Harvest Food bank which happened this past Saturday at The 5 Spot. Judging by the crowd and the talent (musical and visual artists), it was a huge success.  I'm proud to present Mary with the "Force of Nature"award!

Onto the shuffle:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Friends Everywhere Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook


January 14, 2018 8:00p.m.  The Country (soon to be called The Local) 110 28th Ave N
Nashville, Tennessee 37203  - It'll be my birthday, and we'll have a triple threat of talent with Conrad y Skordalia, Danny Henry, and Sean Quinn and the Tremblers.

Speaking of E2TG Presents shows... keeping a tradition alive since last year, I have a very special Earie award to the bands/artists who played my residency in May:  Mark Robinson Band, Kristen Englenz, Nick Nace, Darrin Bradbury, Matt Benjamin, Sean Quinn and the Tremblers, Sergio Webb, David Olney, Cafe Rooster Records (Sally Jaye, Jon Latham, Darrin Bradbury, Brian Wright and their special guest Rorey Carroll), FuzzQueen, and Amelia White. Also Earies to The 5 Spot for having me and for Eric for running the sound. And to everyone who came out to one or more of the shows.  The "E2TG Live" award goes to all you and anyone I left out.

Time to start making plans for May 2018... who would you like to see play the E2TG 7th Anniversary Residency?

Congratulations to Rayvon Pettis on the release of Dying Light and for an awesome CD release show. Rayvon backed by The Big Dumb were wonderful.  Rocky Bottom was great, and Darrin Bradbury - played a bunch of new songs that were top notch.

Tomorrow night is the 12th Annual Get Behind the Mule: Tom Waits tribute and benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank.   If you aren't there, head to The Country - early it's Kristen Englenz, Drew Kohl, and Cntry and late it's Zach Schmidt with Haley Thompson King.   If only I could be two places at once.

On to the shuffle:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Trending Thursday Morning Shuffle - Stuff Dreams are Made Of Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook!

Last night, I got a good and much needed dose of rock and roll- checking out Snakehips and Smoky White Devils at The 5 Spot.

Tonight is the long awaited CD release show for Rayvon Pettis' Dying Light album.  I am pretty sure I wrote about this album last year, and I got to hear a preview several months back.  I am so excited for people to hear this album.

So, I have one Earie to give out before we get to the shuffle. Over the course of this year,  I have found myself reading about what my friends are up to and saying, "Man, they are killing it!" And yes this happens a lot with musical performers but as often it has been people in other fields (closely or loosely or completely connected to music) (music is kind of a big part of my life).  So, I have several winners of the "Killing It"* award.  This is not an exhaustive list, but all of these folks are infinitely deserving.

1. Hayden Coleman (and not just because I accidentally tagged him in yesterday's post) - I have featured Hayden's own music several times in the past. He is a hip-hop producer and a rapper - who has been immersed in that world for much of his life. In 2017, Coleman has been busy as a producer, co-writer, and guest performer.   Most notably (perhaps) on Morgan Bosman's cool track "Runaway". Check out the video where Hayden can be seen running...

2.  Lindsy Davis - I met Lindsy - as I did so many people - through Darrin Bradbury.  You may recall she drew the cover image for Bradbury's The Story of Bob" album.  You member the devilishly handsome man on the cover. That, though, is just the tip of her talents. She is an extraordinary visual artist, this year she ventured into tattoo artistry. For me, she is inspiring in the way she has carved out a niche for herself in this town and continues to chip away and grow that niche.

3. Stacie Huckeba - To be honest, Stacie used to kind of scare me, but that was probably more about me than her. I know that Stacie has had a difficult year, but through that, she has managed to continue to kick ass as a photographer, writer, advocate, and just generally all around awesome person. She is up for East Nashvillian of the Year - which I think she richly deserves, but I don't get to vote on that one (as far as I know), but I get all the votes on the Earies.

4. Chad Cochran - I had been aware of Chad's photography - mostly his art photography of incredible landscapes - for a couple of years. I think I followed him on Instagram before I ever met him.  He still produces some of the most visually stunning landscape photographs I have ever seen, but in 2017 (and before) he has been killing it with his photos of musical performers - both on and off stage.

All of these folks motivate me to do more, and I am happy to know them.

*I know some people hate the phrase "killing it" (and to be honest, my use is somewhat ironic but I mean it with the utmost respect and admiration)

Okay - on we  go to the shuffle and perhaps a few more  Earies...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wild Wednesday Morning Shuffle - Mad As Hell Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

More Earie "Fun" facts/Info/FAQ (not that anyone has asked questions):

As determined, by me, last year, receiving an Earie during the month of December does not disqualify an artist or band from winning a "Golden Earier" (i.e. Artist or Band of the Year).

Also, I feel an impulse to "save" certain awards until later in the month - for dramatic effect or something, but given the fact that I do this all haphazardly and that I have a very distracted mind, I am choosing to just go ahead and award things as I think about them. (except for the aforementioned "Golden" Earies.

Now, to avoid being any more self-referential, I will move on and award some Earies:

The next category is the "Keep Nashville Cool and Interesting and Original and/or Funny and/or Wild and/or (fill in the blank with a word or phrase that means something good) -  Band" Award goes to... and we have a three way tie!

Microwave Mountain - I had been hearing about this band last year, and I finally got to see them in January during the Buck n Stuff Residency at the Legion. I was happy to jump on the bandwagon. Their debut album can now be streamed on Spotify - so go do that! 

Buck n Stuff - Speaking of... When you look at the credits of the band members - this COUNTRY MUSIC band is most definitely a "SUPERGROUP"  Drummer guy has been playing for the solo tour of one of the members of a legendary group from the American South which is named after an airplane (I think).  Bass Guy - can be found playing bass with tons of cool folks including  on a regular basis as part of the band for an iconic early weekend weekly event at a noted East Nashville venue with a number in it's name, and the Main Guy - is part of band named for a lyric of a song by a band that formed after the disillusion of another band that had an album that gave its name to a magazine.   They may have a live album coming soon that I may or may not have heard already.

The Big Dumb - Sometimes you pick a name quickly without thought and it sticks. That's what happened with Ear to the Ground. I was fortunate enough to witness the birth of The Big Dumb - kind of. I was at a show by a band called The Cult of Javi Jones when mid-set, they decided that they wanted a different name - and decided on The Big Dumb. I don't know if that name had been discussed before hand, but for the sake of the legend, I am going to assume it had not. I just recently got to see them again, and I was completely blown away. The Big Dumb are the backing band for Rayvon Pettis who is having his CD release show tomorrow night at Dee's, and that is a cool thing,  but if you get the chance, see these guys doing their own thing!

Next, the "Best Damn DJ Partner in the Whole World, Like, Ever" Award goes to... Sue Havlish! It was a close vote, but really no contest. Double Shot with Joe and Sue on WXNA has been the most incredible experience, and it is Sue who makes it so much fun to do. We are approaching our 80th show together, and we haven't yet run out of theme or stopped having a blast.  Thanks Sue!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle - Hairy Eggs Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook

As we move forward into the 2017 Earie Awards, a few words to those who are new here or otherwise unclear:

1. While my categories are sometimes tongue-in-cheek, my admiration for the music and artists is genuine and true.

2.  I don't do lists (Top Ten or otherwise).

3.  Any rules or criteria are coincidental and subject to change at my whim.

4. I live in constant dread that I will leave someone out unintentionally, and I probably will. It's okay though - as far as I know no one has gotten a gig or recording contract based upon having won an "Earie".

5. It's really all in fun and just another opportunity for me to express appreciation for the awesome music and people who have come into my life thanks for E2TG.

Finally (not specifically Earier related), spread love as often as you can in any way that you can. The world can use all the love we can muster.

Onward to the shuffle (and more Earies):

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mondo Monday Morning Shuffle - Befriending Dogmas Mix

  Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook!

Well, it's Monday, the world is screw-up, life is hard, and hope is fleeting. But, it's December, and time for the 3rd Annual E2TG "Earie" Awards.  "The Earies, they sound strange but they're really not".

For the uninitiated, the "Earie" awards are my annual chance to give kudos to the musicians and others who made my year better. Unlike, the Brand X awards, at the Earies, we don't mess around with nominees, our categories are... um... non-standard, and the eligibility period is liquid and determined solely by me.

As we did last year, we are going to embed many of the awards into the shuffles.  The awards will continue throughout December and culminate in the awarding of the "Golden Earie" awards for band(s) and artist(s) of the year.

Let's get to it...

Friday, December 1, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Gonna Be Okay Mix

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook!

Well... here we are. It is December!  The 3rd Annual Earie Awards will kick off next week.

Two years ago, I awarded the very first "Earie" Award to Darrin Bradbury. He is about to enter the studio to work on a new album of all new songs. I am excited to hear the results.

A great night of live music in Nashville. I checked out WoodMackFleet (formerly Carpetbaggers 615) at The 5 Spot followed by the one and only Stuffy Schmitt.  After that, I headed across the river to Springwater to see Connor Rand and Matthew Moon performing as Acquired Tastes followed by a rare full band show my Tom Schreck Escapes.  Great seeing some awesome people at both shows.

Well, we have some cool songs fired up in the shuffle, so let's hit it!