Today is Memorial Day, the day we remember those who have given their lives defending the country. Multiple members of my extended family have served in various branches of the armed forces and one of them died in combat. So it's kind of a sad day. But I always remind myself of this on Memorial Day:
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." -- Gen. George S. Patton
To me the good thing about Memorial Day is that it raises a very important question,"would you lay down your life defending the United States government if called to do so?" Why or why not?
The thing about the Americana Music Awards that kind of bugs me is that they never seem that surprising to me. There's rarely an "aha!" moment when I read the nominations list. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to be snarky or holier-than-thou about the nominations. But I do think you have to keep in mind that the awards are about rewarding the veterans of the industry. The folks who've paid their dues year in and year out. And frankly, it's about the people who've paid back to the genre. The Americana Music Awards aren't about music discovery, they are about the people who've survived. If you want to discover new artists, the ones that are breaking new ground, you're in the right place, listening to the right show.
Having said, I'm happy to see Jason Isbell nominated for both artist of the year and album of the year. With no disrespect at all to the other nominees, I think Isbell is the clear winner in terms of both getting what americana is all about and actively working and contributing to the genre.
For duo/group of the year, I'm sad to report I haven't heard the Milk Carton Kids or Lake Street Drive. Among the rest of the nominees, it's a tough call between the Avett Brothers and the Hard Working Americans. I thoroughly enjoyed the Todd Snider's work on the Hard Working Americans album and thank god there's someone on the scene carrying the banner for rock 'n roll. But it's an album mostly of covers. And I've got nothing against that in general. But it just seems to me an award like best album of the year should go to someone who's written original material. On the other hand, I think the Avett Brothers album is a fine one, but it took me a while to warm up to it. Like many Avett Brothers albums, I had to listen to it a few times before I started to appreciate it. But this category is for the group, not one particular album. And because of that, I'd lean towards the Avett Brothers for Best Group because their live shows are legendary and they've been doing it for a long time. Of course Snider has been too, but the HWA itself is a brand new band. I haven't seen them live but I'm sure they put on a good show. But I'd say give them a couple of years and a couple of albums and then let's nominate them again for best group.
For the Emerging Act Of The Year category, I'm sad to say I have not heard Valerie June's work. I'm very glad to see Sturgill Simpson on the list and happy to see Hurray For The Riff Raff on the list. But to me the clear winner in this category is St. Paul & the Broken Bones. Their pitch perfect rendition of that classic soul sound is not just a historical recreation. They're making soul music relevant for the 21st century and that makes me very happy.
Go make some noise,
On episode 193 of the Americana Music Show, Hezekiah Goode plays three tracks from Two Billion Acres Of Salt and talks about writing songs about true stories and the happiest instrument. Also on this episode, rock & roll from Rod Melancon, a crooner from Roy Orbison, new rock from Mary Gauthier, pub rock from the Hard Pans, a fun piano bar number from Eden Brent, country rock from Susto, beautiful country from Red Molly, and new country from Charlie Greene.
In case you haven't run across her yet, allow me to introduce you to the music of MaryLeigh Roohan. She got her start playing in a pub in St. Andrews, Scotland and has been playing festivals in upstate New York the past couple of years. So she knows how to play to tough crowds and her music has developed into a sound that is strong, confident, modern, and beautiful all at once. She has released her second collection of songs. It's called Skin And Bone, and as you might expect from the title, it has some surprisingly dark undercurrents among the soaring vocals, the upbeat tempos, and the sunny arrangements. There are songs about the men she's toyed with, the men she's "left heartless" and the men she intends to go home with. It can be a little scary, but Skin And Bone is also one of the most engaging singer/songwriter albums I've heard in a good long while. I'm happy to announce that MaryLeigh Roohan's Skin And Bone albumis the giveaway album for May, courtesy of Fake Chapter Records.
Eden Brent plays “Boogaloo’s Boogie” which was taught to her by her mentor, Boogaloo Ames.
I really enjoy The Howlin’ Brothers latest album, Trouble. I think they are close to being able to lay claim to a whole new subgenre of music. It’s similar to “newgrass,” but based more on early rockabilly. Newbilly? Think early Elvis trying to bring “Hound Dog” to the world. The Howlin’ Brothers’ Trouble hits, lots of bases. The title track sounds like an old school blues tune. “Boogie” sounds like a deep Appalachian tune. “World Spinning Round” has a classic country sound. There are even touches of cajun on the album. But it all has that early rock ‘n roll drive to it.
I’m adding “Pour It Down,” “Boogie,” “Night And Day,” and “Pack Up Joe.”
Preview Trouble by The Howlin’ Brothers on Amazon.
When you hear the kazoo laying down the opening bars of “When The Sun Goes Down In Harlem,” you know you’re getting ready for a fun ride. There’s no way to be sad or morose when a song kicks it off like that. And as a rule, this carries through Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy, Come In by the Bumper Jacksons. You can say it’s old-timey 20′s and 30s music. Maybe it’s a little cheesy. Maybe. but this music was the original street party music. It’s music that never forgets for one second that people are listening to be entertained. They are listening to dance. They are listening to carouse. And if the band slacks off on these things even one second, they’re gonna get thrown out with the trash in the back alley. The Bumper Jacksons take this spirit of every word, every guitar lick, every thump of the upright bass, every kick of the drum is played like they’re playing for their supper and the result is an album that’s street-party entertaining from front to back.
I’m adding “When The Sun Goes Down In Harlem,” “Miss Molly,” “Ragtime Millionaire,” and “The Bacon Adoration.”
Preview Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy, Come In by the Bumper Jacksons on iTunes.
Joseph Huber’s The Hanging Road goes full on country/folk, but he writes songs that anyone can relate to. No need to wear a cowboy hat to enjoy his music. You don’t have to live on a farm to understand what he’s singing about. But he’ll make you wish you did. He kinda reminds me of the early John Denver days that way. There’s lots of upbeat toe-tappers on this one. Lots of singalong opportunities.
I’m adding “Same River Twice,” “Coming Down From You,” and “Goin Far On Little (Just A Little Too Long).”
Preview The Hanging Road by Joseph Huber on Amazon.
You Got It / Roy Orbison / Mystery Girl Expanded / 3:31
A Love So Beautiful / Roy Orbison / Mystery Girl Expanded / 3:33
California Blue / Roy Orbison / Mystery Girl Expanded / 3:58
The Only One / Roy Orbison / Mystery Girl Expanded / 3:55
The Only One (Studio Demo) / Roy Orbison / Mystery Girl Expanded / 5:12
Clinch River Blues / Red Molly / The Red Album / 2:50
You Don't Have The Heart For It / Red Molly / The Red Album / 3:47
When It's All Wrong / Red Molly / The Red Album / 3:40
My Baby Loves Me / Red Molly / The Red Album / 2:18
Sing To Me / Red Molly / The Red Album / 3:29
Marella / Rod Melancon / Parish Lines / 3:31
South Louisian' / Rod Melancon / Parish Lines / 3:04
Wanna Go for a Ride / Rod Melancon / Parish Lines / 2:15
Pour It Down / The Howlin' Brothers / Trouble / 2:42
Night And Day / The Howlin' Brothers / Trouble / 2:20
Pack Up Joe / The Howlin' Brothers / Trouble / 2:32
Good Friend Of Mine / The Bones Of J.R. Jones / Dark Was The Yearling /
Lines In The Pines / Lines On The Pines / Cookie And Paul Evans Pedersen, Jr. / 3:17
When The Sun Goes Down In Harlem / The Bumper Jacksons / Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy, Come In / 3:09
Miss Molly / The Bumper Jacksons / Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy, Come In / 2:25
Ragtime Millionaire / The Bumper Jacksons / Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy, Come In / 2:16
The Bacon Adoration / The Bumper Jacksons / Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy, Come In / 2:36
Can't You See / Grant Farm / Plowin' Time / 3:38
Gospel Road / Grant Farm / Plowin' Time / 4:02
Plowin'Time / Grant Farm / Plowin' Time / 4:02
Song on the Wayword Son / Grant Farm / Plowin' Time / 3:14
You Ain't Worth The Fight / Hannah Aldridge / Razor Wire / 3:18