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Favorites of 2014

Last year’s list was dominated by Jason Isbell.  This year it is Sturgill Simpson’s turn.  Here’s Tank with our foreword.

Flat out in all categories, Sturgill Simpson has captured my soul in ways I didn’t think were possible any more. It’s so hard for me to compare things like art and music to say what is my “favorite”, but I’m giving him the nod here because a) he’s not in my immediate listening circles, b) there’s an energy about him that makes you want to go lose your voice at his shows c) his music has made my friends go out and see music with me all over the state. In no way can I say he’s better than people I love and respect. But I can say that he released a fresh album, he’s a damn hard worker, and he invigorating fans and musicians alike. We should all strive to do that. – Ryan “Tank” Hargrave

It’s been another great year for music all around.  Here are the records, songs, acts and scenes that shaped our 2014.

Favorite Albums

 Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.  It should come as no surprise that Simpson’s sophomore effort tops my list of favorites of the year.  His debut record graced this list last year.  He took the momentum of that first record, slapped it into a 4-day studio visit and delivered the finest record of the year in any genre.  Lyrics, sounds, themes and tones combine together to create … Keep Reading

What Do Todd Snider and Haley Cole Have in Common?

by: @A_Ghost_To_Most

For starters, they both recently played shows in the San Marcos area.  Todd Snider played a sold out show at Gruene Hall, while Haley Cole played the late gig at Cheatham Street Warehouse.  Most Todd Snider fans know that Todd Snider began his career at Cheatham Street, with the famous “Class of ‘84” and saw his idol, Jerry Jeff Walker, play a sold out show at Gruene Hall before beginning his musical journey.

Todd Snider wasn’t into nostalgia Saturday Night, but that was okay.  For those of you who have never seen a Todd Snider show, it is a must.  You are guaranteed to laugh out loud for half of the show.  His stories are well documented.  He told many of his stories weaved in between his songs of love, hope and despair.  The crowd laughed, cheered, and even sang on cue, but there was no doubt he controlled the entire room.  Dancehalls are not often listening rooms, but many times the only sound you could hear was Todd Snider’s voice.  The highlight of the night was the covers he chose as the encore.  Fittingly, but not surprisingly, due to his extensive musical knowledge, he played a somber version of Gary P. Nuun’s “London Homesick Blues” and closed out the show with Willie Nelson’s “Blue eyes Crying in the Rain”.

About fifteen minutes north, the Haley Cole bandwagon was gaining steam.  I’m here to tell you, get on the Haley Cole bandwagon now!

I arrived at Haley Cole’s … Keep Reading

Jonny Burke Has Problems

by:  @A_Ghost_to_Most

 

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Jonny has problems, but songwriting ain’t one.  Listen to his song “Problems” on The DROP, then go buy it and the other 2 songs from his self-titled EP.  Trust me.  All three songs will have you hooked on Jonny Burke.

I recently drove an hour and a half to hear Jonny Burke play.  I was curious.  I didn’t know much about him until I came across his three song EP on his website and later on iTunes.  I was impressed with those three songs – real impressed.  Hooked.  “Problems” should be all over the radio.  Wanted to see him live to see if he had the “it” factor.

Lately, it has been hit and miss at shows.  Don’t get me wrong, an artist doesn’t owe me anything and vice versa.  But, I want to be entertained.  I have been to shows where I absolutely love the songwriter and the songs, but the shows leave me flat and I would rather stay at home and listen to their music on my back porch.  There are others where I will go to every show they put on, but their music is not on rotation at the house.

The truly great ones are both.  Some talk, some rock, some make you laugh, some make you drink, but they all command your attention in one way or another.

Twenty years ago, I snuck up to Dallas and saw Guy Clark at Poor David’s Pub.  It was a benefit for something … Keep Reading

Thanks for the Music 2014

This year, we  once again continue our annual November tradition of surveying folks across the Texas/Red Dirt/Americana genres about a musical topic they are thankful for.  This year, we asked folks:  what song, album, artist, show or moment are you most thankful for this past year?  Not necessarily what their favorite record was, but which one were they most thankful for.  It could be a new record, or maybe an an older project they’re just now discovering (or re-discovering).  As always, the answers are varied, insightful and, yes, ripe with gratitude.  Please leave the artists, songs or albums that resonated with you this past year in the comments section.

Dan Adams, singer/songwriter

This year I’m thankful for the new “Muscle Shoals” documentary film.  After watching it, I was reminded how much I love all those old records that were cut there.  Country albums from artists like Alabama, Ronnie Milsap, and Mac Davis. Rock records from Skynyrd, the Stones, all the Duane Allman stuff. And of course all the old R&B records from Otis Redding to the Commodores.  I was influenced by all of those things as a Southern kid and a budding singer/songwriter.  That film led me down the rabbit hole….and I listened to a ton of records I hadn’t heard in a long time.  I recently re-kindled a friendship with a producer buddy who I had worked with when I was first starting out in Nashville in the 90s, and he had started his recording career in Muscle Shoals … Keep Reading

{Review} Loco Gringo’s Lament Turns 20

by: Damon Rodgers

rwhIt seems 20th anniversaries of albums are everywhere now.   Off the top of my head, I know that Shelby Lynne, Wilco, and Todd Snider are all celebrating twenty years of something.   Of course, some of that is because of the resurgence of vinyl, which makes it a win/win for both the artist and the consumer.  I was curious about one of the albums I consider to be in the top ten of best albums ever written, and lo and behold, it was put out in 1994 – making this year the 20th anniversary.

Ray Wylie Hubbard is a great songwriter.  Undisputed.  Most known for songs like “Snake Farm”, “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”, and “Screw You, We’re From Texas”.  He is also known for his live shows that combine wit, rock ‘n roll, blues, country and humor, often self-deprecating.

However, with the release of LOCO GRINGO’S LAMENT in 1994, he became much more than that.  He became one of the smartest men and one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard.  Each song holds up on its own, but as an album, each song bleeds into the next, culminating with the last three songs that show more than any other, the songwriting genius Ray Wylie really is.

Listen to it.  I dare you.  Listen to it and try not to feel, try not to think, try not to empathize.

Twelve songs – all linked thematically by despair, tragedy, hope, redemption and love.

“Dust of … Keep Reading