Jun 30, 2010

The Halfway Report: Top Albums

We're about halfway through 2010 now and while it's been another solid six months of good music, it's been a little more top-heavy this time around. I've listened to my favorites over and over, while rarely returning to any albums beyond they top 30 or so. Here are my top 20 of the year so far. Feel free to throw in any of your favorites in the comments.

1. Trampled by Turtles - Palomino
2. Austin Collins - Wrong Control
3. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
4. Joe Pug - Messenger
5. Kasey Anderson - Nowhere Nights
6. Rodney Hayden - Tavern of Poets
7. Truth & Salvage Co. - s/t
8. Drive-by Truckers - The Big To-Do
9. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - I Learned the Hard Way
10. Dirty Sweet - American Spiritual
11. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
12. Great American Taxi - Reckless Habits
13. Against Me! - White Crosses
14. Hellbound Glory - Old Highs and New Lows
15. The Roots - How I Got Over
16. Phosphorescent - Here's to Taking It Easy
17. Johnny Cash - American VI: Ain't No Grave
18. Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer of the Void
19. Reckless Kelly - Somewhere in Time
20. The Black Keys - Brothers

Jun 28, 2010

Introducing: Artesia Bonaparte

Here's new contributor (or one time wonder), Artesia Bonaparte, with her thoughts on @drunkenmartina

Click for a closer read.

Jun 27, 2010

Snap Judgments: Promo Only Country Radio July

Welcome to the dog days. Many of these songs are lazy to fit the lazy, hell-hot middle summer months. Not lazy in a pleasant, relaxed way... just lazy. Where's my hammock?

Click the links to hear the songs.

Undo It - Carrie Underwood
The lyrics in the chorus are kindergarten-esque, but the hook hooks me for some reason (yeah, I know... you either luh uh uh uh uv it or hate it). Sure, she's had some better written songs out in the past year, but this is the only one that's stuck with me. I like it.

How he got to be that way? I'm guessing....dad is probably 5'7", mom is 5'1"... just a guess. As for the song, it's pretty standard "I'm rough around the edges" fare. It seems like a pretty weak choice for a single IMO. Album filler does not a #1 make.

I'm In - Keith Urban
I'm glad Keith keeps cutting Radney Foster songs, but even if Radney was singing this, I'd be mildly entertained then yawn.

While You're Still Young - Montgomery Gentry
I like the message of the song - it's not glorifying being young - just the feeling of youth. The first two verses don't bring much new to the table, but the chorus is unexpectedly memorable melodically, if not lyrically. Verse 3 brings it home in an RV to happy effect. Better than I expected.

All About Tonight - Blake Shelton
A mindless party song with a melody that doesn't really go anywhere. I like some mindless party songs. I like some songs with melodies that aren't that memorable. I don't like when these two aspects intersect. I like Blake and anybody who has covered The Black Crowes' "She Talks to Angels" in concert and Chris Knight's "It Ain't Easy Being Me" on an album has a lot of money in the bank with me, but this song is a bounced check.
Cool. I dig this a lot. If we can't get neo-traditional and alternative country played on country radio, songs with this amount of laid back edginess and freshness will work.
If I Die Young - The Band Perry
WTF? A pretty, mildly authentic sounding country song from The Band Perry, whose last single wouldn't have sounded out of place on a 90's dance floor? The token fiddle doesn't even sound that token. The Band Perry is almost forgiven for "Hip to My Heart" and their name. Almost.
Makes Me Go (La La) - Williams Riley
Nonsense words can be used to great effect at times. Not this time. It sounds pretty, but I won't be listening to this song again for fear the la la's might get stuck in my head. What's the deal with all the up-and-coming bands who sound like Restless Heart (the live version on the link doesn't, but the single cut does)?
Keep the Change - Darryl Worley
Despite the fact that I see both sides politically, I can't review this song objectively, even on a snap judgment. Basically, it's fairly catchy, I appreciate the combativeness of the hook, and this is waaaaaay smarter than his last foray into politics. I don't like it that much, but I can't bring myself to loathe it.
Just Fine - Bomshel
Not bad. Just fine, in fact. Just go ahead and play 'em, country radio. They're obviously not going to stop sending you singles, and this one's better than, say, the last 3 Rascal Flatts songs, so make some room on your 20 song playlist.
Summer Thing - Troy Olsen
Which Apple exec does this guy have pictures of in a compromising position? His EP with this song on it has been featured on iTunes for weeks in one of those rotating marquis at the top of the country page... and I've never even heard of him. I'm flat out sick of summer songs, so even if this is the greatest, most original awe-inspiring ode to the warmer months (it isn't), I don't want to hear it again.
That's Love Y'all - Bridgette Tatum
Her voice has too much soul for this to get played on Fearchannel. Pretty good song, gospel flavored, easy going and engaging. This is a summer song... and it doesn't even mention summer. Take note, songwriters.
Beautiful Girl - Lathan Moore
Hmm. A country song that doesn't beat you over the head with word play. A simple title/hook that's surrounded by a decent enough idea sung by a nearly memorable voice. It doesn't have a chance in hell.
Satisfied - Jewel
I like Jewel. She has a cool voice, seems like a nice lady and is easy on the eyes. Some of her early releases feature some great songs. So far, I'm not enamored with her jaunt into country music. This song is meandering and forgettable.

An aside: It's a real beatdown on the ears and mind to listen to these comps all at one time. This is probably what it feels like to be a stay home mom or dad who only speaks to small children all week - the adult thought processes and conversational abilities melt away.

Not that Far Away - Jennette McCurdy
Jenn's second (third?) attempt at country airplay isn't bad. She has a pretty nice voice, better than another famous teen who will go nameless, but has the initials T.S. Sorry Sam, this song is boring. You could probably go somewhere with a better tune.
Boggy Creek - Boggy Creek
No. If the singer sounds like a poor man's Luke Bryan, the song is plain destitute. My snark tank is dry at this point.
FFFFF (sorry, key got stuck)
Don't Cuss the Fiddle - Keller & the Keels
Neat. A little bluegrass interlude. Like this a lot.
Redneck Riviera - Jim Van Fleet
Back to the mindless. This is an example of a shallow song I kinda enjoy, however. It's catchier than All About Tonight and on about the same level intellectually. Nothing wrong with a fun party song and boy does the redneck riviera need some fun right about now.
Doggonest Feelin' - Jeremy Parsons
Sounds like something you'd hear on Boot Liquor radio. Easy going old-timey country blues. I'm glad people are still making this kind of music, even if you'll never hear it played between Zac Brown Band and Eric Church - unless you're listening over my shoulder when I have my iTunes on shuffle (stop it, that's creeping me out!).
Nobody Knows - Coldwater Canyon Band
Inexplicable D-List artist submission of the month. There's some level of enjoyment to be had in the harmonies here, but little else. To be fair though, I'd much rather hear this than, say "Crazy Town," or similar crap from A-Listers.

If you've made it this far, I salute you and pray for you. See you next month!

Jun 25, 2010

YouTube Gems: Chris Knight

Here's Chris Knight recorded live at Music Fog with "Heart of Stone." If you don't like this guy... you better have a damn good reason.

Jun 24, 2010

John Rich's Songwriting Tips #39

Professionally associate yourself with minorities, the physically challenged and the economically disadvantaged because when they succeed, you succeed and you don't look racist and discriminatory to the general public for the fact that you associated with their downtrodden asses in the first place. Just don't hang out with them after hours. They're a real leg repellant.

Not actually written by John Rich.

Jun 23, 2010

.99 Reviews - Soulja Boy "Pretty Boy Swag"

Soulja Boy Tell'em @souljaboy
"Pretty Boy Swag"

The People's Take:

Hold up h8ters (jelous a bit??)
(5 Stars)
Ok this new album Dre is gonna nail it big time he has listend to you haters and now he's rapping buy this now I say 2milli is gonna kill everyone of y'all next single that's gonna come out is "do it big" kills everything on this track too so shut the F** up about he's not a rapper go hug a tree or sumthin cus this is 2010 right here and he's killing it. From were he came from crank that soulja boy to this it's pretty Much beast right here people!! BUY IT

(5 Stars)
all you haters should be ashamed of yourself. If you don't like it go listen to something else you racist no lifes!!! Go put in a gay rock album or something. leave soulja boy alone u make me sick.

PRETTY BOY SWAG is a good song if you don't like it don't click on it and waste valuable time trying to generate negative energy. no life racist.
-SODMG, Inc.

(1 Star)
this song is garbage. Sorry for being so nice about it, too. His 'flow' is essentially like a speech disorder which hinders him from making any sense whatsoever.

Ugly Boy Swag
(1 Star)
Worst rapper ever, dead or alive.

My Take:
Before I'm called out as unqualified to review a rap song, while it's true I've never officially reviewed a hip-hop song, I'm a fan of good hip-hop. I like Jay-Z, K'naan, Nas, Game, old Snoop, OutKast, Mos Def, Dr. Dre, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, 2Pac, Run DMC, Nappy Roots, Eminem, Tech 9ne, Krizz Kaliko, Ice Cube, Notorious BIG, Jedi Mind Tricks, Common, NWA, Eazy E, Cypress Hill and countless others. I think that makes me as qualified as anybody else without a job at Vibe, a music history or journalism degree. On to the review.

This alleged rap song begins with breaking glass then a ring tone-ish beep. That's par for the course with Soulja Boy, who is frequently called a ring-tone rapper by his haters. He goes to great lengths to prove them right with this hook-less drone of a hip-hop track that should have been left on the cutting room floor of even the most quickly tossed off mixtape. The "chorus" (which eats up a good 75% of the song) is an overly repetitive breathy recitation of self aggrandizement entirely lacking of memorable rhymes or even the scant shred of artistic worth. The beat would make Al Gore very happy though, it's recycled, and the beat it recycles is also recycled ∞.

There's nary a line in the song that elicits even the presumption that, one day, Mr. Tell'em might turn a clever phrase. He's got swag, girls are on his dick, they scream his name. Yep. For the explicit version, he curses at the calculated moments that can easily be scrubbed from the radio version. Dre (his name, and the name of his forthcoming million-selling drink coaster) is a product, plain and simple. He has a cult following of teen girls, disaffected suburban youth (read: whangstas) and possibly a few people with actual street cred who follow his Tweets with disturbing stalkerishness. He runs a veritable empire with his gaming website and all the merchandise related to him and his SODMG organization. Apparently, he's a good businessman or hype man. He is not a good rapper.

I'll bite a phrase from one of the iTunes reviewers: "His 'flow' is essentially like a speech disorder." That's not h8er hyperbole. Soulja Boy rides the rhythms like Willie Nelson on a weed bender. And his voice: nearly any drunk guy at the club or the karaoke bar this weekend could easily replicate this flow. Seriously. How he got into the "rap game" is beyond me. I won't say I could rap better - I have the rhythm of a blogger - but I bet most of you could. Seriously.

"Pretty Boy Swag" is chaff. Congratulations Soulja Boy Tell'em. You suck worse than Bucky Covington.

Total Value: .00/.99

Jun 22, 2010

CDB's new single cover

Hmmm... subtle.

Jimmy Buffett Parody with music

My buddy Bobby Joe, who has contributed a few lyrical parodies in the past, has written this new parody of Buffett's "Margaritaville." It's not necessarily humorous, but it's certainly timely. And he's starting to get some country radio airplay. Ronnie Lee Hurst is on vocals and musical backing.
Listen here.

Band Mashup: BEP + CB =

Jun 21, 2010

Since Nickelback is apparently country now...

Since Nickelback has been added to the CMT playlist, I guess that means they are country (thanks for letting me know, guys!)... therefore, here's one of their recent hits rewritten to fit their new demographic a little better!

A Dip in Your Mouth
(Parody of Nickelback’s “Something in Your Mouth”)

Got to meet that cutie with a cut off jeans booty
They say she’s still married but man, I just ain’t carin’ come on...
Needs to ride my big Ford we’ll open up the side doors
If Nashville had called her we’d autotune her hollers, come on...

Pretty backwoods lady with the tube top on
Every barroom Blake Shelton’s feelin’ the same want
Doesn’t care about rap music she likes Possum and Charley
It’s amusin’ how she wants to use it, my hillbilly bone

(y’all so naughty)
You’re tearin’ up some eight ball honey
(you sexy darlin)
You flaunt your ‘donkadonk for everyone
(I like that two step)
I love the way you flirt with all the cowboys
(The beer you drink)
And tease them all by sucking on your Pabst
Drink it like water, but Skoal’s what you’re all about
Yeah you look so much hotter when a dip in your mouth...

When she spits, she don't drip
Hank Jr. tatt on her hip
She's bending, rowdy friending
theres no end to it so sweetie come on...
Dressed up like Shania
The neon's got her shinin'
Like the jukebox behind her, wanna push her buttons come on...

Rural route cougar with the sequined shirt
Every barroom Blake Shelton’s feelin’ the same hurt
Doesn’t care about sippin' wine, she's a down to earth hottie
I'm slippin' hands around her hips n' my chicken is perched

(y’all so naughty)
You’re tearin’ up some eight ball honey
(you sexy darlin)
You flaunt your ‘donkadonk for everyone
(I like that two step)
I love the way you flirt with all the cowboys
(The beer you drink)
And tease them all by sucking on your Pabst
Drink it like water, but Skoal’s what you’re all about
Yeah you look so much hotter when a dip in your mouth...

She loves the long cut, her butt's got a ring on one bun
She dances like Laura Bell Bundy, keeps the boys all stunned
On the sawdust she might cuss, but she's havin' fun
She's the queen of nicotine and she's always buzzin' son

(you’re so much hotter)
When your cheek looks like a pouch
(she don't like to swaller)
with a dip in your mouth...

(y’all so naughty)
You’re tearin’ up some eight ball hon'
(you sexy darlin)
You flaunt your ‘donkadonk for everyone

blah blah blah

With a dip in your mouth....

Jun 20, 2010

Songs Illustrated #22

This one's for the Mac geeks out there - current song. First correct guess can have an unclaimed Willie Nelson CD. No answers/no correct answers, I'll assume your all stoopid.

Band Mashup: VN+NM =

Jun 19, 2010

Earsplitter: Nickelback

I already have the YouTube Gems feature that gives you an idea of what I'm digging these days and hope you check them out occasionally. Since I spend 95% of my posts making fun of the bad in music, you should probably get an idea of what I'm really hating too. Here's Nickelback's new "country" song. I'm sorry. (Note: if you turn off the sound, it's not that terrible)

Jun 18, 2010

YouTube Gems: Against Me (exclamation point)

Blogger won't let you put an actual exclamation point in the title. That's stupid!

Punk, arena rock, folk, pop rock, sell outs.... Against Me! gets a lot of labels. I just label their new album White Crosses gooood! Here's "Rapid Decompression" from said album.

Jun 16, 2010

___ Deserves a Sackpunch #9

Anyone Who Wears a Flat Brim Cap

Here's where I show my age and my lack of swag. I guess this isn't necessarily music related (though I saw some people wearing these at Riverfest a couple weeks ago), but this is a trend that's really getting my goat right now. Flat f*cking brim hats. This is the dumbest looking style that has come onto my radar in some time (yeah, it's been around a few years, but it's just now getting big across the south), and dammit, I've lived through parachute pants (did not have), denim jackets (yep), mullets (did have), tight rolled jeans (once or twice), tramp stamps (uh no), saggy drawers (hell no!) and zip off cargo pants (?).

Basically, some "kids these days" (males ages 13-22) are wearing baseball hats with the brims either flattened out manually or purposely bought that way. I'm talking flat enough to set a drink up there for later. Flat enough to install solar panels. And they mean for it to look that way, it's not that the caps are un-broken in. To further piss me off, these whippersnappers cock the hats back on their pinheads at odd angles or turned slightly sideways. It is my belief that these young men sport them in this manner, not to attract the opposite sex (as if), but to rebel against the rules and laws of pleasing aesthetics.

As if the wearing of the egregious headgear and the askew presentation wasn't enough, some of these under-22 males have large, ugly-ass stickers on the bills. Really? Why don't they just go on and wear a purple top-hat that says "I'm a moron" on it? That would make it slightly easier for me to avoid them. I wouldn't have to get close enough to see their acne riddled face before realizing that they were, in fact, not of high enough intelligence to give me the directions I was seeking or tell me what time it was.

I'm not sure what culture originated this style, but it looks stupid on red and yellow, black and white - they are not precious in my sight - so it's not something I "don't understand" because I'm not of a particular race. I've seen these caps on white kids more than anyone and it looks drop-dead foolish regardless of skin tone.

Happily, these dolts' pushed back caps provide a clearer shot for decent humans and members of the style police to punch their smug faces in. And yes, do this at home. I fully support those who would inflict (moderate) harm on perpetrators of this horrific look. (for legal reasons I ask that you not say I gave you the idea though and if said activity happens, I was just kidding a couple of sentences ago... ha ha I meant ridicule, not physical harm)

You put a fist in their face, I'll punch 'em in the sack. Hopefully they'll never reproduce.

Some related links:
Things I Can't Stand (language warning!)

Jun 13, 2010

Top 10 Worst Voices in Contemporary Music

Click links for samples.

10. Ke$ha
Honestly, her voice doesn't bother me that much, but I see where the hate comes from. Ke$ha (if that really is her name) sounds like a combination of drunken valley girl, fake b-girl and Paris Hilton. Not exactly a combo that many people are clamoring for. Don't worry haters, she won't be around long. 11:02, 11:03... tick tock tik tok

UK has a tolerable enough everyman voice that really doesn't offend (he's even passable live), but uh, so do a lot of other people who don't actually put their voices onto albums to sell to music fans. He started out as Kid Rock's DJ. Does that last sentence even need a snarky comment?

8. Rihanna
I actually enjoy a lot of Rihanna's songs, but I've got to admit she has a pretty un-dynamic voice. If country music is three chords and the truth, Rihanna's sound is one note and the truth. I'd rather run out into the rain than hear "Umbrella" again. Eay! Eay!

Shooter is a genetic marvel, in my opinion. His dad was handsome and had the booming voice of a honky-tonk god. His mom was beautiful and had/has a lovely voice. Shooter is as ugly as a wet rat chewing on a hornet and only twice as talented vocally.

What more can I say? And why would I have to? She's not that bad, but when you're at the head of the class commercially, is it too much to expect for you to sing above a loud whisper and carry a tune? I will say that I'm almost annoyed enough by the awards shows' recent self-correction in regards to lauding of her work (hey, you guys hitched your wagon to her; you look like hypocrites for shunning her now!) to leave her off this list, but nah. Facts are facts.

5. Gary Levox (of Rascal Flatts)
Gary "The Voice" (to new readers, that really is what his stage name means) might sound "okay" on wax, but his nasal shriek is pretty grating on the ears live. His high notes sometimes call to mind times I accidentally stepped on my cat's foot. That debacle with Jamie Foxx was unforgivable for someone who didn't have much goodwill built up in the first place.

4. Ashlee Simpson
One only need reference the Orange Bowl catastrophe or her disastrous SNL appearance for proof that Ash is the less talented Simpson (and that's saying something). What's even more difficult to believe is that she may have married down artistically.

This one's kinda a cop-out because, granted, he doesn't make his Benjamins as a singer, but when you put yourself out there as a singer, as Wayne frequently does live and did on his recent utter flop, Rebirth, you gotta expect to get shredded. His rapping voice isn't exactly a thing of beauty so what convinced him to warble is beyond me... oh wait, I know.

2. Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst is adored by tens and tens of fans, a veritable cult of douchenality, but I don't get the appeal. He sounds like a goat stuck in a box fan. His tunes are yawn inducing, so he doesn't even get the Bob Dylan pass. He just sucks.

You've never heard him before unless you're a stoner (I've only heard him because, like, I've been exploring stoner metal lately ...uh, seriously dude) but Dave's voice is more shredded than anyone else's who's ever vocalized into a studio microphone. He sounds as though he's ingested copious amounts of weed (obviously), whiskey, meth, hot gravel, sand, glass shards, burning cigarettes, metal filings and sawdust. To say he sounds as pleasant as the band's namesake would be an overstatement. Besides, a weedeater can hold a note. Luckily, his fans don't care.

Jun 10, 2010

John Rich's Songwriting Tips #38

Here's a new question from the email sack. Heh heh, I said sack.

Skip in North Carolina wants to know: "Should I put some research time in before and during writing songs involving politics or history?"

JR: Hell no, Skippy. What you learned in vocational school ought to be plenty 'nough knowledge for you to drop on the country listener. If I wanna write something about Rick Nixon, I don't bother studying up on Watercase... who gives a shit? Jane Countryfan just wants to nod her head to a mid to up-tempo catchy tune bro, not think. You want to do a song about the current economic crisis or the BP leak? Just write it, throw in something about a bastard stocktraderman...or a dirty stinkin' petroleum-man; don't waste valuable drinking time with fact finding and that sort of stuff. Just Wiki it if you must. Write on homie.

*Not actually written by John Rich.

Jun 8, 2010

Drew Kennedy Says People are Idiots For Not Getting the Josh Grider Trio

Drew Kennedy Says People are Idiots For Not Getting the Josh Grider Trio
(co-signed by Matt Skinner)
Subtitle: Trailer Gherms at "Pickin' in the Pasture"

Saturday night I lived the life of a rockstar blogger. Hung out with some of my favorite singers. Took pictures from right beside the stage as they performed. Bought Drew Kennedy a Flying Dog. Tried one of Austin Collins' hand rolled cigs (tobacco!). Ate fine barbecue after standing in line chatting with Josh Grider and bassist Chris Grady. Sipped cold ones long into the breezy southern night.

A picturesque lakeside pavilion was the setting for "Pickin' in the Pasture," an annual event held in rural Madison County, Mississippi. It was a family event with probably a couple hundred folks in attendance, enjoying pulled pork with all the fixings and fellowship with friends. Kids played, dogs roamed and beer poured (politely).

Any other get-together of this sort across the south would feature whatever C-list mainstream country singer the host family had ties to. There'd be piped in radio country over the speakers, before and after the concert. Somebody would probably be funneling Miller Light in the parking lot. Drool would pour from the corners of attendees mouths.

Nah, not here. This was some throwback bizarro world with good taste.

There was a pre-supper feature of the host family's kids/grandkids playing fiddle with mandolin accompaniment (well I might add) then singing a pretty rendition of "Angel Band." It was an unexpected and sweet way to start the night. If I didn't have the photographic evidence, I might not believe it actually happened. What was this, 1953?

As this was finishing up, I finally met Dean Drew Kennedy in person for the first time. Nice guy. He said that he, Austin Collins and Matt Skinner were going on first and that we'd hang out afterwards.

Next was prayer and line-up for some delectable barbecue prepared by Fireman John's competition cooking team. Mmmm. Spoke to Josh
Grider and his bassist, Chris Grady, while waiting in line. Nice guys. My first impression of all the singers this night was "damn they're tall." I don't think one of them is a hair under 6'2".

The trio Drew mentioned earlier took the stage first. They traded off songs like Drew's "Rolling Around in the Bed," Matt Skinner's "If I Were a Painting" and Austin's "Conventional Lust" and his kickass cover of Whiskeytown's "16 Days," helping out with guitar parts and harmonies on one another's songs. I wasn't familiar with Matt Skinner's work before the event, but his songs easily held their own, and his guitar playing shined. It was a revelation, to be honest. I've rarely heard
anybody shred on an acoustic, but Matt did. I made sure to pick up one of his CD's after the show - an EP from his band with Dub Miller called Eleven Bones. It rocks, by the way.

I'll preface this next rant/review by saying I think all the guys I just mentioned should be much more well-known than they are. Matt's guitar playing and grit should have him being the toast of dancehalls across Texas and the southwest and aiming for national recognition. Drew's unique, soulful voice ought to have college girls swooning and critics acclaiming his original sound across the nation (his songwriting should land him some Nashville cuts as well). Austin's darker, more rocking alt-country sound has him well on his way, but the fact that his current output is better than anything Ryan Adams or Jay Farrar has put out in years should have him showing up on a broader radar.

All that said, the biggest surprise of the night was the Josh Grider Trio. I've got Josh's Sweet Road to Ride and Million Miles to Go albums and I've enjoyed them a lot, but whoa... to say they sound better live than on record is like saying the Titanic (never mind its final port of call) was more impressive in person than on design schematics. Why isn't the Josh Grider Trio huge??

Instrumentally, they were tight as my granddad's wallet (by that I mean working well together - not overly rehearsed sounding) and their harmonies were otherworldly. The songs are as catchy as anything coming out of Nashville (but twice as smart) or Texas (but with less Texas references). Josh, friendly, humble and down to earth in person, is a magnetic frontman on stage. Throw in a little Jason Eady, a little Dave Matthews, a little Roger Miller, a little Merle and some of that indescribable "it" factor and you've got Josh Grider.

If he comes off a touch flat in the studio, he's as animated and fiery as you could possibly hope for when the bright lights are on. Maybe that's one of the issues that's held them back so far. The production of his albums (the two I've heard) is not bad by any means, but maybe a little sterile. A bit more of an "off the cuff" raw feel could possibly benefit future cuts. I'm no production expert (hell, I'm not even a novice) by any means, so take that with a grain of salt.

Drew Kennedy says people are idiots (for not getting JG3) and Matt Skinner's got his back on that. So, is the JG3's writing too smart for wide commercial appeal? Possibly, but i don't see where that's a huge issue when the songs are this lively and enthralling, whether you're listening intently or using them as background music. You can think or you can shut off your brain, JG3's good for either.
(Seriously, I think they're accessible enough that they could sell out ...a la Pat Green fairly easily, but I hope they never do)

A lot of their songs are danceable too. No offense to my buds in the opening trio, but it was mostly dogs on the dance floor before Josh and his brethren took the stage, but songs like "Crazy Like You" and "Sometimes" had the couples and kids out in force.

It's not for lack of trying that they haven't hit it big. Each of the other performers mentioned what hard workers the JG3 are.

Maybe it's lack of promotion. I know for most up and coming bands, touring IS their promotion. There's no ad budget, no viral campaign, no fan club. It's just them and their instruments, their songs and a dream. To that end, the Josh Grider Trio did a helluva good job promoting themselves Saturday night. They could have mailed it in for a crowd of less than 300, but they played like they were in front of 5,000. Thanks guys.

They left the stage to as much applause as you can squeeze out of a small crowd. The music didn't end there by any stretch of the imagination.

After the bulk of the audience had headed home, a core group of friends and family (and one blogger) moved to the front and the guys once again took up their guitars and drums. They performed deep, deep, deeeeeeep into the night (I left at 3:15 and Matt & Josh were still going!), tossing off covers ("Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)," Son Volt's "Windfall," a host of Roger Miller songs, Waylon's "Wurlitzer Prize" and others) and a few of their originals (Drew finally got around to playing my fave, "Cincinnati") and lots of jokes and tomfoolery. Josh's drummer, Jeff Botter, was the class clown of the evening, sipping bourbon, making up songs on the fly and dancing with audience members.

All had a grand time. I left with a few new memories and a few new friends. And a lot more questions about why America can have steak for supper at the same price, but would prefer a Whopper.

I hope you'll take the time to check out all of these guys (links above), because, to the man, they're all truly talented and truly good folks who love what they do.

If all musicians and songwriters cared even half as much, there'd be no need for Farce the Music. Thankfully, but unfortunately for all our ears, that's not the case.

*Thanks to A.M. for some of the photographs!


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