Archive for November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from TCB

Posted in News on November 27, 2008 by takecountryback


Happy Thanksgiving from Our Home to Yours

We have much to be thankful this past year as well as in the future. We have been amply blessed and feel much gratitude for blessings granted.

We hope that the season reminds you of the blessings in your own lives as well and that you will continue to celebrate them always

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns that what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Blasters’ Phil Alvin Rejects Albums, Embraces Technology

Posted in Artists, News on November 25, 2008 by takecountryback

The Blasters

The Blasters (HANDOUT / November 18, 2008)

There are plenty of things Phil Alvin loves about the history of American music, but the record industry isn’t one of them.

It’s not just that the longtime Blasters front man doesn’t trust label execs, although he’s been around long enough to know why he shouldn’t.

On a more fundamental level, he rejects the idea that music should be pressed onto pieces of plastic — records, cassettes, CDs — and sold by large corporations.

“The album was an artificial imprint on music that didn’t exist before [record labels],” Alvin says from California shortly before beginning a Blasters tour that stops Saturday in New Haven.

In a sense, it’s strange to hear Alvin take such a nontraditional stance. Since he and his brother Dave formed the Blasters in 1979, the band has taken an almost scholarly approach to classic American sounds — rockabilly, most notably, but also R&B, country and blues.

Alongside California contemporaries such as X and Los Lobos, the Blasters proved that roots music could be relevant in the age of punk, a genre that, to some, was bent on destroying all that had come before.

Alvin has nothing but reverence for the great artists of the past — in a matter of minutes he can steer a conversation from Louis Armstrong to Sun Ra — but he’s also a proud member of the digital revolution.

As downloaders wrest power from record labels, he says, musicians will have the freedom to sell individual performances, rather than collections of songs put together by men in business suits.

“Maybe there are 50 good performances of ‘Marie, Marie’ out there,” he says, mentioning one of the Blasters’ best-loved tunes. “And someone might like one or might like five of them. I know that’s true of me and songs I like multiple versions of.”

Alvin’s willingness to embrace new technology may have something to do with his extra-musical activities.

He’s an unofficial anthropologist who believes music exists to preserve cultural history. The goal of the Blasters, he says, has always been to put the past in new contexts and pass along important messages from those who came before.

“Music was handed to me by great people who would say great people handed it down to them,” Alvin says.

Jason Isbell to Release New Album

Posted in News, Upcoming Release on November 25, 2008 by takecountryback


“…confident, charismatic songwriting that just can’t be taught.” – Pitchfork

“…a gorgeously whisky-soaked country-soul masterpiece.” -Spin Magazine



Muscle Shoals, AL – Lightning Rod Records will release Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit’s eponymous album on February 17, 2009. Isbell is a former member of the Drive-By Truckers and this is his second solo release (his first release with his band The 400 Unit). The 400 Unit is Derry deBorja (keyboards), Jimbo Hart (bass) and Browan Lollar (guitar). Matt Pence (Centro-matic/South San Gabriel) lends his talents as co-producer, drummer and engineer.


The album was co-produced by Isbell and The 400 Unit with Matt Pence. “I want it to be known that it’s a band record,” says Isbell. “I want it to be known that it’s something we all did together. Even though I wrote the songs, it was a very inclusive project.” Isbell has posted the new track, “Seven-Mile Island,” on the band’s MySpace site.


The album was recorded at the renowned FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL. Isbell, who Details Magazine calls “one of America’s best young songwriters,” is following in the tradition of American songwriters who have recorded in North Alabama. Much like Arthur Alexander, Eddie Hinton and Spooner Oldham, Isbell mixes a soulful vocal style with songs that are passionate and unrepentant in their sense of place and direct in their stubborn Southerness.


Isbell and The 400 Unit have played over 200 dates since the release of Sirens Of The Ditch  (including All Points West, Voodoo Music Experience and WXPN Freedom Fest) and will announce the first round of their 2009 dates soon.


This is the second release for Nashville-based Lightning Rod Records whose US distribution and marketing is handled by Thirty Tigers/RED.


1.  Seven-Mile Island                        

2.  Sunstroke

3.  Good

4.  Cigarettes and Wine

5.  However Long

6.  Coda

7.  The Blue

8.  No Choice in the Matter

9.  Soldiers Get Strange

10. Streetlights

11.  The Last Song I Will Write


RollingStone: From the Delta to the Black Keys: The Story of the Blues

Posted in News on November 25, 2008 by takecountryback
Original Link

Before he moved to Tennessee and pioneered country music, a young Jimmie Rodgers walked into a Jackson, Mississippi, record shop for an audition. Talent scout H.C. Speir, who found acts for roots-music labels like OKeh and Paramount in the Twenties and Thirties, sent the future great packing, telling him not to come back until he had some better songs.

It’s a good thing Speir was more impressed by the blues pioneers who walked through his door — a world-changing pantheon that included Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James, Muddy Waters and more. Speir was a white businessman who sold records to black fans, and his story is one of the stronger threads linking many of the guitar-playing field workers from the Mississippi River Delta who changed the way we hear music.

Meticulously researched and reported by music historian Ted Gioia, Delta Blues demythologizes the blues and its makers without squeezing the blood out of the subject. Much has been written about Johnson’s meeting with the devil at the crossroads — but Gioia digs deep, finding the roots of the myth in West African and Caribbean fables. He also suggests Johnson may have been an early master marketer of his own music, spreading the tale himself. Author of the exhaustive 1997 History of Jazz, Gioia writes about the blues in active, colorful prose, describing Delta music as “a throbbing texture of sound” in which guitar “chords are not so much strummed as torn from the instrument.”

After tracing the blues’ migration to — and electrification in — Chicago, Gioia brings the tale into the present with a sharp analysis of how the blues have reverberated through the ages, emerging in British Invasion rock, San Francisco psychedelia and current revivalists from the Black Keys to the North Mississippi Allstars. After all, as Gioia writes, “Many of the same ingredients that contributed to the first flowering of the Delta blues — the social, demographic and cultural fingerprint, so to speak — are still present today. And no one will deny that folks still have more than enough to be blue about.”


Wells changed country sound with woman-centered hit

Posted in Artists, News on November 25, 2008 by takecountryback

Original Link

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Before Kitty Wells, men didn’t just rule the roost in country music, they owned it.

It wasn’t until her 1952 hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” that a solo female country singer had a No. 1 record.

The song, written by a man, was a rebuttal to Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life.” It made Wells a star, and dashed the notion that women couldn’t be headliners.

Until then, most “girl singers,” as they were called in country music, were either paired with men, like Rachael Veach with Roy Acuff, or were members of a family group, like sisters Sara and Maybelle Carter with the Carter Family.

Wells’ success also encouraged Nashville songwriters to begin writing from a woman’s perspective. Before then, women had a hard time finding material and often had to change the sex in the lyrics.

“Kitty Wells was way before Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Brenda Lee — you name it,” says country and rock hall of famer Brenda Lee, who in the ’ 80 s recorded a medley with Wells, Lynn and k. d. lang for lang’s album Shadowland.

“Kitty was right there at the forefront, and she absolutely opened those doors and pushed the button for women,” Lee says.

Wells, now 89 and the subject of a new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said she never considered the song political or daring and didn’t think of herself as a feminist. To this day, she still doesn’t know what the fuss was all about.

“I never really thought about being a pioneer. I loved doing what I was doing,” she says.

In Thompson’s song, a man’s wife left him and “went back to the wild side of life.” In the chorus, Thompson sang, “I didn’t know God made honky-tonk angels.” Wells followed the same melody but countered that women who go astray are often led there by men.

“It wasn’t God who made honky-tonk angels, as you said in the words of your song,” she sang over steel guitar. “Too many times married men think they’re still single, that was caused many a good girl to go wrong.” Written by Louisiana composer J. D. Miller and produced by Owen Bradley for Decca Records, the song was controversial enough that the Grand Ole Opry asked Wells not to perform it, and some stations were reluctant to play it.

Wells didn’t even know Decca had released the song until she got a call from Hank Williams’ wife, Audrey.

“Audrey Williams had been down to Montgomery and she called me when she got back home and said, ‘Girl, you’ve got a hit on your hands. Every station I tuned to coming back from Montgomery was playing the song, ’” Wells says.

Wells’ song reached No. 1 in the summer of 1952 and stayed there for six weeks.

“That really opened doors for other women,” says exhibit curator Mick Buck. “Kitty set a new precedent.” Wells’ hit also reached No. 27 on the pop charts, the same ranking as Thompson’s hit.

The multimedia exhibit, titled “Kitty Wells: Queen of Country Music,” traces her career, from singing with husband Johnnie Wright’s duo, Johnnie & Jack, to her 35 Top 10 hits and her retirement in 2000. It includes her guitars, stage costumes, awards, vintage photos and posters.

But a big chunk of the exhibit, which runs through June, dwells on “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” Ironically, Wells, whose real name is Muriel Ellen Deason, almost didn’t record the song.

She’d been singing professionally with her husband for nearly 15 years and was ready to retire and stay home with their three children. She’d already recorded for RCA as a soloist without success. Wright had to persuade her to go back to the studio.

“I thought it would be like the ones I did on RCA. Nobody even got to hear it. So we went and recorded it, and I never thought anything about it making a hit,” she says.

Wells became “The Queen of Country Music.” She had many more hits in the ’ 50 s and ’ 60 s, including “Heartbreak U. S. A.” and “Makin’ Believe.” Her career cooled by the mid-1960 s as a new wave of female singers emerged, some of whom, like Lynn, would further challenge sex roles with edgy songs such as “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin ’” and “The Pill.” Her last charting single was in 1979, although she, Wright and their children continued to tour as a family act until 2000.

The Election, Politics and Country Music

Posted in News on November 25, 2008 by takecountryback

From CMT:

When Barack Obama won the Presidential nomination earlier this month, it may have signaled the best thing that’s ever happened to country music. That’s according to a story in theNew Republic by David Browne, who is also a contributor toRolling Stone. He talks about how GOP presidents have long latched themselves onto country singers, and that there’s almost nothing at all “country” about Taylor Swift. Meanwhile, writer Gabe Meline at Metro Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif., suggests that Gretchen Wilson and all other John McCain supporters should get the boot from the radio airwaves.

Doug Sahm Tribute Coming in 2009

Posted in News, Upcoming Release on November 25, 2008 by takecountryback

Off the Record
November 21, 2008

Revolutionary Ways

Marcia Ball doesn‘t remember the last time she played with Freda & the Firedogs, her progressive-country outfit that was produced by Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler and backed Doug Sahm upon his return from the Bay Area in the early 1970s (see “Nowhere but Texas,” Dec. 13, 2002). Nevertheless, the cosmic quintet gathered last Saturday at Joe Gracey’s Spicewood studio to cut Sahm’s “Be Real” in homage to the original Texas Tornado for Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm. The Lone Star-studded compilation, due in late March through Vanguard Records, features a stellar stable of local talent, including Jimmie Vaughan (Why, Why, Why”), Alejandro Escovedo (“Too Little Too Late”), the Gourds (Nuevo Laredo”), and Terry Allen with Joe Ely (“I’m Not That Kat Anymore”), while co-producer Shawn Sahm covered “Mendocino” with Augie Meyers for the occasion. “If you start with an artist that was really inspired, the rest tends to follow,” opines co-producer and Chronicle scribe emeritus Bill Bentley, whose previous tributes to Roky Erickson (Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye) and Moby Grape‘s Alexander “Skip” Spence (More Oar) rank among the all-time best of the genre and helped bring both artists long overdue critical and cultural recognition.