Not exactly an interview or a review, but full of love

A night that ends with Jon Snodgrass (of Drag the River) singing for you is a very good night indeed. Even better if he is actually singing live for you and not just playing on the old Ipod.

Jon had a quick layover on his way to Memphis to play with Cory Branan (a show that I could not attend, no I don’t want to talk about it, I might cry). [Seriously, we need to find a way to supplement our income so that we can pursue our rock star lifestyle because the day job thing is getting old. What gives, universe?—Daisy] We met up for drinks with a couple other friends. [Which I could not attend. No, I’m not at all bitter, why do you ask?—Daisy] There wasn’t time for a podcast or really even a formal interview but I did learn a few things about Jon, about myself and about the world. Here they are in no particular order: Continue reading

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Lucero Family Picnic version 2.0, the revenge of Arkansas

Daisy and I boldly braved predictions of flash flooding to drive the long, desolate hours to Batesville, Arkansas for the Lucero Family Picnic. It was worth it. So worth it. First off, before I tell you about the show, let me fill you in on the news we gleaned while there:

As many of you maybe know already, Lucero’s Brian Venable is expecting his first child any day now. He was primed to leave, even mid-show, should his lovely lady, Sam, have gone into labor. We saw ultrasound pictures of Henry, the boy they are expecting to join their family soon. So everyone keep them in your thoughts for an easy delivery. I know Brian can’t wait to meet Henry (we can’t either!). Seriously, if every expectant father was as happy as Brian appears to be, the world would be a much, much better place. [It really is just about the sweetest thing ever how excited he is.—Daisy]

There is a Ben Nichols solo EP, The Last Pale Light in the West, arriving soon to the internet near you. Like the most recent Lucero release, this will be available for digital download, with a CD to follow later in the mail (with purchase of the download). What’s that? You didn’t know Nichols’ was making a solo album? Well, neither did we. Apparently it came together very fast. And if what I hear is true, it’s a somewhat thematic album, based loosely around characters from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. So exciting, I mean, you all know I live for shit like this, right? [The unexpected gift of new Ben Nichols songs? It’s like our reward for having to do, like, work and stuff.—Daisy] Hooray! There will be an extensive solo Ben tour this fall as well. No excuses people, even the West Coast gets some play this time. I have no firm date on the EP release, but I hear tell it could be as soon as this week.

I did not get any confirmation on the new Lucero album, which many folks were hoping for this fall. I do know they signed an excellent four album deal with Republic/Universal. I know the new album has songs already (anyone who saw the last tour heard a couple of them) and the boys are looking forward to making it. I don’t have details on when they are going into the studio, but I’m guessing they will probably hold off at least Brian’s baby arrives and everyone gets settled in after Ben’s solo tour.

So! Picnic! Rockin’ awesome! Oh yes. The line-up was great. We sadly missed The Good Fear and Dan Montgomery (it’s long drive from Nashville and we had to stop to eat). I heard from many folks I trust that we definitely missed some good music. I have since checked out the sites for both acts and, well, goddamn our refusal to speed through rural Arkansas, I wish we’d seen them!

Cory Branan was up next. He was/is/always awesome. [By the way, we love Cory. In case you didn’t know.—Daisy] His set was short. I heard “technical difficulties” which might have meant broken guitar strings, or might have meant ‘oh shit, hurricane Ike really is headed here, should we keep playing?’ The five or so songs he played were certainly crowd pleasers, and he was joined by the lovely Amanda Shires on fiddle and the superlative Rick Steff on accordion. [We love them, too.—Daisy] Also I spent the last two hours of the drive talking about how I wanted a cheeseburger. Got to the show and FREE CHEESEBURGERS! Which I ate while watching Cory. So I’m gonna go on record as saying it was the best Cory Branan show ever. Even if it is just the cheeseburger love talking.

Cory cleared off to make way for Justin Townes Earle. You know, we’ve been incredibly remiss in not talking about Justin here before. He is, I’m sure you’ve heard, ♥Steve’s♥ son. He is incredibly talented in his own right and has no need to trail on his father’s career (which he is definitely not doing). I have had his EP, Yuma, on heavy rotation for months. His recent release, The Good Life, is so exactly the kind of troubadouring that we are always seeking out here. Seeing him live is a treat. There’s a pervasive sense of real Americana– real roots music in his sound that translates to his show. He is touring the rest of the month, you should try an hit up a show if you can. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

The line-up for the Picnic seemed to be all excellent and sort of just getting better and better and better. After Justin, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit played a lovely long set. The weather was starting to get iffy, rain, though light, was coming in and the sky was getting more threatening. Jason played right through it. You’ll recall maybe that, last summer, I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped to be with Isbell’s Sirens of the Ditch release. It is a great album and it has grown on me. The thing about Jason is that some people are going love him no matter what because of the Drive-By Truckers connection. Some people are really going to get how good he is just from listening to his album. Some people, like me, need to see him live to fall in love. His is still touring, so if you don’t fall into the first two categories of Jason love, you have chance to redeem yourself like I did. Also, girls, I am not going to lie. He is cute. [True story.—Daisy] We met him briefly backstage and, yes, I confess I have known weakness for Alabama boys, but he is also charming and friendly. So, go see him, there are at least four reasons why you should.

What could possibly follow this goodness? Why Lucero of course! [Hooray! —Daisy] The usual suspects were joined by the stupendous, wonderful, ticklish, cheerful, sweet, alluring, winsome Rick Steff (who we ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥) on keyboards and accordion [Double hooray!—Daisy], and by that mythical creature, Todd Beene, on pedal steel. (If you don’t know, Todd Beenes are native to the mid-south, though found all over the world. They are characterized by mischievousness and incredible musical talent. There have only been sightings of the one, but if you encounter him, be careful! He’s as likely to tease you mercilessly as he is to play awesome music for you.)

It was a Lucero show, a good one. Ike was seriously rolling by that time, the wind whipping Roy’s hair around as he played, making it hard for anyone to smoke a cigarette and making me worry that the lights would fall and kill crew. The fanboys sang along and screamed for Ben’s attention. Brian rocked despite surely spending every second wondering if his baby was going to arrive right then. John C. spoke nearly incoherently into the mic about how grateful the band is for their fans. New songs were played, old favorites could have been sung by the audience, and I decided one of my preferred parts of Lucero shows is watching Roy play (he looks like he’s made of rubber!!). I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all, and the oncoming hurricane added strange, but wholly pleasant sense of melancholy to the entire show.

There was an after party and the club by the park, just like last year. This is a more intimate gathering, like a Ben and Cory acoustic tour, with periodic appearances by any of the cast of characters that played the rest of the picnic. I drank, talked to tons of people and had mostly a good time. The stage is badly placed and hard to see, unless you are in the insane crushing crowd in front of the stage. The audience is so drunk as to be more interested in yelling requests than actually listening to them. It’s kind of a clusterfuck. [Though slightly less clusterfuckish than last year.—Daisy] I’m glad we went. I had fun (and lots of beer which leads gives one the idea of fun, even if it isn’t being had). I’m glad they do that afterparty, but I’m not sure we’ll go again next year. Picnic, yes, afterparty, maybe not. [Yeah, we feel that way now…—Daisy]

So there it is. We wish you were there. We encourage you to go see everyone who played if they ever come near you. And now we have to go rest up, Arkansas can take a lot out of girls like us.

Hanks, boy trouble and accidents

I am too tired today to go back through old posts and check what I’ve talked about before. Which is kind of ironic because usually when I’m this lazy I can’t manage to do much more than browse the internet. I am anxiously awaiting the day when I have dozens of minions to do my bidding while I sit back on the couch, drink coffee and play on the internet. Which is, uh, what I am doing right now, but I feel guilty for not being more productive. Presumably the minions would alleviate that guilt.

So I’m sitting here going through all the sites I’ve bookmarked recently, trying to catch up on the news. And by news I mean what is going on in twangalicious music this week, because watching the Democratic Convention is likely to make my head explode. Anyway, as I read it occurs to me that there’s all this stuff I should be telling y’all about.

Have we talked about Reinstate Hank? It’s a campaign to get Hank Sr. back into the Opry. They’ve got some awesome shirts, “Hank would agree, the Opry ain’t so grand anymore.” I think most of you can agree with that sentiment, since I assume if you are reading this, you are listening the kind of music we like over here which isn’t what the Opry is playing these days.

Speaking of Hanks, the video for the first single, “Long Hauls and Close calls,” from Hank III‘s forthcoming album, Damn Right, Rebel Proud is making it’s way around the internet. It is definitely the harder, angrier side of Hank III, so maybe don’t watch it with your morning coffee, but save it for when you’ve had 18 Miller High Life’s and are feeling like you want to take out the 4×4 and go muddin’. Check it out:

I stumbled on a new-to-me podcast, It Burns When I Pee, while reading through my usual line-up of music blogs. It plays like a morning radio show hosted by a combination of Wayne & Garth and Beavis & Butthead with good music. The music is pretty damn awesome, but the dirty, teenage boy humor of the hosts is either totally going to be your thing or it really, really isn’t (Mom, don’t bother listening). Just make sure you’ve had those 18 Miller High Life’s before you listen. It really is a boy’s club over there, despite having a female host. It’s not Howard Stern levels of offensive, but be prepared for a lot of dick jokes (the porn segment gets pretty effing gross). Interestingly enough what drew me to the podcast was the title of the most recent episode, “Twang Ain’t Just a Guy Thang,” and I thought hey! that’s what we do over here, right? But no, it isn’t a bunch of girls talking about twang, this is guys giving a few passing minutes to girl singers. Which is cool, I guess, any play girls get is awesome. Plus we don’t really need anyone stepping on our gig. You can get all the episodes at Podcast Alley. Check the William Elliott Whitmore one for sure and hey, the IBWIP boys hate on the mainstream Nashville music machine as much as we do, so they are, in essence, our brothers in arms (the enemy of my enemy).

Nashville musician Will Hoge was in a pretty nasty traffic accident here in Nashville about a week ago. It happened a couple blocks from HCT HQ so it feels like not just horror in the music community but in our ‘hood too. Will is currently in stable condition. I understand he will reschedule some tour dates, as he broke his collarbone and leg. Even if you aren’t already a fan of Will’s, send him well wishes and go check out his music:

Hmm, this post is kind of a downer. My fault for posting after half a cup of coffee instead of half a dozen whiskey drinks.

rumors, news, and tours

I am full of the news of big changes here at HCT. Coming soon. See this space. Hmm, it could be coming even sooner if I was working on it, instead of posting here. But I love you guys and I don’t want you to think we’ve just wandered off and stopped posting, as we so often do (none of that in the future though, I swear). And once again, if you are interested in writing for HCT, email me. This is an unpaid, though very prestigious, exotic and exciting job. What do you get out of it? Free music to review. What do we get out of it? Your awesome, smart writing. Call me, you know you want to hook up with us.

The 2nd annual Lucero Family Picnic was announced today. September 13 in, yep, you guessed it, Batesville, Arkansas. Will the HCT girls be there? Can they manage another day’s drive through Arkansas? That remains to be seen, my friend. Luckily for everyone not near Arkansas, the Lucero tour starts today. Dates are here, and while I’m super excited that I get to go right away, I’m a little jealous of y’all who get Justin Townes Earle on the bill. Seriously, Justin lives in Nashville and we don’t get him on the bill here? BOOO!! Anyway, no matter where you see them, there’s rumors of new songs to be heard, so get up, get out, and go to the show!

It is summer tour time, though I swear hardly anyone seems out this season. I’m not sure if it’s gas prices keeping our bands down or what, but don’t let it keep you down too. Get out and see some people. Even if you have to take the bus to get there. Don’t know who to go see? Might I suggest The Magpies, Hayes Carll, The Old 97s (!), Bruce Springsteen (if you are up for stadium show and you already have tickets), Steve Earle, Wayne Hancock, The Avett Brothers, Lyle Lovett and dozens of others that I am too woozy to think of right now.

The new Hank III album, Damn Right and Rebel Proud, is coming at you on October 21, 2008. That’s my mom’s birthday. I doubt she’s impressed with this coincidence. The first single will be “Long Hauls and Close Calls.” I can seriously barely contain myself. Now if only he’d play Nashville, my summer would be complete.