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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

ROUTES & BRANCHES   
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
May 4, 2013
Scott Foley

This week's broadcast of George Jones' memorial has given me pause for thought regarding country music.  Call it what you will, add all the hyphens and apostrophes and qualifiers you like, most of what we play is simply some expression of country music.  At the funeral, folks like Travis Tritt, John Anderson and Wynonna (Judd) paid tribute to the troubled legendary singer.  As far as I'm concerned, Vince Gill sealed the deal with an emotional and heartrending duet with Patti Loveless on Gill's own "Go Rest High On That Mountain".  Oak Ridge Boys, Barbara Mandrell ... Barbara Bush?  Fact is, these performers are all light years away from their glory days on mainstream country radio.  While they were a talented bunch, forgiveness doesn't come easy when acknowledging that they all served as the musical "gateway drug" on the way to the mainstream's present day addiction to largely ineffectual junk.

Of course, much of what we play here on R&B is little more than country music that the country mainstream refuses to acknowledge.  Turnpike Troubadours, Sturgill Simpson, Hellbound Glory:  All are acts that might once  have been embraced by the country establishment.  Listening to the new release by Jason Boland & the Stragglers, I am reminded again of Boland's undeniable songwriting chops, of the band's solid and traditional backing, and of the fact that they are typically ghettoized with the always vague tag of "red dirt music".  It's country.  Boland's voice is one of the strongest in our kind of music, and readily harkens back to artists like those who showed up to pay their respects to George Jones.  Coproduced by another country expat, Shooter Jennings, Dark and Dirty Mile is probably the most traditional country album Boland has built since his 1999 Pearl Snaps debut.  While the subject matter embraces environmental and social pollutions (as well as a suggestion to "roll some kill in the electric bill"), there are still the stellar pedal steel lines and the occasional fiddle breaks to remind us from whence it all hails.


It's not easy for me to admit that I'm playing country music, especially when my kids are so quick to point out the obvious.  I suppose it's much easier than embracing the folk music roots of much of what's here. 

*  Wooden Wand, "Supermoon"  Blood Oaths of the New Blues  (Fire, 2013)
*  Daniel Romano, "Middle Child"  Come Cry With Me  (Normaltown, 12)
*  Left Arm Tan, "Long Yellow Stripe"  Alticana  (Self, 13)
*  Larkin Poe, "Long Hard Fall"  Spring an EP  (DefPig, 10)
*  Thom Hell & Larkin Poe, "I Can Almost"  Sound of the Ocean Sound  (Expression, 13)  D
*  Jesse Manley, "Apple of Your Eye"  Path Through the Dark  (Self, 13)  D,C
*  Jason Isbell, "Stockholm"  Southeastern  (12th St, 13)   D
*  Kim Richey, "Breakaway Speed"  Thorn In My Heart  (Yep Roc, 13)
*  Scott Miller, "I Made a Mess of This Town"  Thus Always To Tyrants  (Sugar Hill, 01)
*  Pokey LaFarge, "Central Time"  Pokey LaFarge  (Third Man, 13)  D
*  Yvette Landry, "Lord I Get High"  No Man's Land  (Self, 13)
*  Backsliders, "I Don't Cry Anymore"  Hicktopia  (Self, 13)  D
*  Sawmill Joe, "Be Your Man"  JeffCo Ltd  (Self, 13)  D, C
*  Lucero, "Texas & Tennessee"  Texas & Tennessee  (ATO, 13)  D
*  Rick Steff, "Rick's Booogie Part II"  Rick's Booogie  (Archer, 13)
*  Patty Griffin, "Go Wherever You Wanna Go"  American Kid  (New West, 13)
*  Derailers, "More Of Your Love"  Here Come the Derailers  (Sony, 01)
*  Nora Jane Struthers & Party Line, "Let Me Fall"  Carnival  (Blue Pig, 13)
*  Shovels & Rope, "Gasoline"  O'Be Joyful (Expanded)  (Dualtone, 13)  D
*  John Murry, "Penny Nails"  Graceless Age  (Evangeline, 13)
Hollyfelds, "Sins"  Title Stealers  (Self, 12)  C
^  Jason Boland & the Stragglers, "Ludlow"  Dirty Dark Mile  (Proud Souls, 13)  D
*  Alejandro Escovedo, "Irene Wilde"  Bourbonitis Blues  (Bloodshot, 99)
*  John Moreland, "Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore"  In the Throes  (Last Chance, 13)  D
*  Sturgill Simpson, "Poor Rambler"  High Top Mountain  (30 Tigers, 13)
Haunted Windchimes, "Wandering Heart"  Out With the Crow  (Blank Tape, 12)
*  Patty Loveless, "Sleepless Nights"  Sleepless Nights  (Time Life, 08)
               

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