Nov 6, 2020
Oct 1, 2020
When the dude on your friend's shoulders is a known Luke Bryan fan
When your son doesn't take his guns to town but he still gets in trouble
Many people enjoy Kane Brown's music
Why doesn't your buddy like Colter Wall?
Jericho: Your mother is a Florida-Georgia Line groupie
Me, back in the day when Rascal Flatts' fans said they were going to get this blog shut down for making fun of RF
How Vandoliers decide the last song that makes the cut on the album
When your dad throws out your old Willie t-shirt
Sep 14, 2020
Aug 21, 2020
May 1, 2020
|Photo by Kayla Rayborn|
Today we have a premiere for you. The song is “CCC” from Texas songwriter Zach Aaron, whose forthcoming album Fill Dirt Wanted promises a healthy slice of folk-country with plenty of heart, history, and weirdness thrown in for good measure. “CCC” refers to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a voluntary public work relief effort that operated from 1933 to 1942 for unemployed, unmarried men. It provided 3 meals a day and $30 a month for people going through the hard times of the depression¹, and this song presents that program from the viewpoint of an eager and thankful worker. It’s a simple and tuneful song that will find you singing along to a hard luck narrative that seems a world away, but maybe really isn’t. RIYL: Woodie Guthrie, Adam Carroll, Colter Wall, Townes Van Zandt.
Zach’s thoughts on the song:
I was sitting around the house drinking and thinking about stuff one day when I came across a PBS documentary about the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). I had recently taken a deep dive into Woody Guthrie and Depression-era songwriters at the time, so I was really intrigued by this. There is a part in the documentary where they interviewed men who served in the CCC and I remember one man in particular mentioning that his time in the CCC was the first time he had ever had two pairs of shoes. I loved the contentment he had with three meals a day and two pairs of shoes and it made me want to write a song about the CCC. We have so much nowadays and we are, for the most part, very ungrateful. While on a solo acoustic tour in the northeast I came across a few sites that were actually built by the CCC and made it a point to find a few more (which I'll do whenever touring is a thing again).
The CCC was a very controversial program when it first came about. I didn't want to bring to light the politics of the whole thing as much as the human element and the gratitude these men had for receiving so little in a time of great strife.
More information about Zach and Fill Dirt Wanted under the video.
Zach Aaron -- Fill Dirt Wanted (May 15)
There’s a whole lotta lonesome in the world. Trying to make sense of it all, including his own, Texas troubadour Zach Aaron travels through lifetimes of hurt on his new album. Fill Dirt Wanted weathers every kind of storm - from a dear friend’s final moments to working one’s hands to the bone. Spanning 12 songs - all tracked live in a room, straight to tape - the record also contains tales about paranormal activity, the Civilian Conservation Corp, and a good for nothin’ local train system - all fitting hallmarks of a traditional Texas country/folk troubadour.
“Running from the preacher / Running from my sins / Running from my family / I’m running from my fears / Running from anything that gets too near,” he agonizes over the hole swelling in his chest. “Got no one to blame / I dug it on my own.” Such anguish is the bedrock of the record, often writhing around or drowning in it completely, and the title cut serves as an appropriate kick starter.
“Animal of Burden” pounds and yanks the listener out of their seat. “Work, work, work / That’s my game / I’m comin’ up short at the end of the day,” he barks. “I’m an animal of burden / I know my place / Fueling all the fires in a rich man’s race / Breaking my back with a smile on my face.”
Calling to such influences as Woody Guthrie and Guy Clark, Aaron walks a delicate tightrope - doing what needs to be done but feeling suffocated while doing it. “I was feeling like I was working my ass off and not really getting anywhere,” he says. “I came across the term ‘animal of burden’ and got to thinking about how most people live their whole life as just an animal of burden - working their life away. I was wondering, ‘What for? Is it all worth it?’”
With his third studio album, recorded at Breathing Rhythm in Norman, Oklahoma, with producer Giovanni Carnuccio and engineer Steve Boaz, Aaron tears through a rush of emotions. Moments like “Potato Salad,” “Aztec Cafe,” and “Southeast Texas Trinity River Bottom Blues” flex the full extent of his abilities. He combs very honest encounters and observations to dissect humanity’s darkest pains and tragedies, as well as our brightest joys. It’s a true cross section of what it means to be alive, to be broken, and to find healing in the wreckage.
Born in El Paso, Texas on an army base, Aaron shuffled off with his mother to Tombstone, Arizona to live with his grandparents following a divorce. The two lived there until Aaron was 12 years old, and soon, they relocated to East Texas. It wasn’t until after high school that he began to explore music as a creative outlet. He took up a local construction job, and one of his co-workers first taught him basic chords.
Aaron was hooked. “I never sang in my life before or even wrote songs,” he says. Six months later, he entered the Air Force in which he worked for the next four and a half years. He continued to hone his craft, of course, and when he returned, he pursued music more seriously.
In the coming years, he worked with a fence company for a while, playing shows and writing when he could, and later on an oil field. He then rough necked in northern Louisiana on an oil rig for the Patterson Oil Company. His work took him all over the south and as far as Corpus Christi, Texas.
The music eventually pulled him back, and he decided to “go all in,” he says. “I always had little jobs here and there to keep bills paid.” During his many work endeavors, Aaron released two albums, 2014’s Find My Soul and 2016’s Murder of Crows - both recorded at The Zone in Dripping Springs, Texas.
In addition to his music, Aaron does custom leather work. His items include belts, guitar straps, and holsters. His younger brother first started in the business, eventually piquing Aaron’s interest, so when an ex-girlfriend’s mother was getting rid of some tools, he took to the craft himself.
Now living in Tarkington, outside of Cleveland and 45 minutes north of Houston, Zach Aaron eyes the most emotional and compelling record of his career. Fill Dirt Wanted boasts rootsy compositions and a roster of musicians, including Kevin Haystack Foster (guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, harmony vocals) and Dave Leech (upright bass, piano).
Fill Dirt Wanted carries with it a timely air, too. Aaron’s lyrics implicate great compassion and empathy, but he never hops upon a soap box. It just is.
Fill Dirt Wanted can be pre-ordered through Zach's site and I imagine it will be available for purchase in all the usual locations on release date (May 15).
Aug 10, 2019
Jun 19, 2019
Apr 18, 2019
|Photo by Shalon Goss|
Today, we’re debuting the “Sit Right Here” video from Nicholas Mudd. The song is a driving barroom anthem with fiddle, steel, drinking, heartache, and hope. The video follows suit, making the best of a bad time. RIYL: Charley Crockett, Dwight Yoakam, Colter Wall, Margo Price, Paul Cauthen, Zephaniah Ohora
“We shot the video in my living room. I live in a house that was renovated in the 70s for the purpose of throwing swingers parties - The living room is actually a full bar like you’d find in a decent sized restaurant, with a rotisserie in the wall, a big stone hearth, and drop panel ceiling lights. And of course it’s got floor to ceiling dark wood paneling. So all I really had to do was get the cameras and lights and invite a bunch of friends over to party. Had a real good time.
The video was shot and edited by my friends Adri DeGirolami and Nick Ducassi. The musicians were Kenny Feinstein (pedal steel), Claire Oleson (fiddle), Jush Allen (drums), Michael Gomes (bass), and Steve Dannemiller (guitar).
The bartender was played by the uncommonly interesting Vejay Kesh, and “my buddy Eric” mentioned at the top of the song is played by my actual buddy Eric, who flew in from London to do the shoot. That good lookin’ redhead is my girlfriend Claire.”
More information about Nicholas and his self-titled album (out this past Friday!) below the video!
Nicholas Mudd // Nicholas Mudd (April 12)
When the road calls, you’ve gotta go. Neo-traditionalist Nicholas Mudd hopped on his Harley and hit the open highway, plotting a 10-day trip from Lexington, Kentucky to sunny Los Angeles; a 2011 pilgrimage west that would prove to be a pivotal turn in his musical journey. His upcoming self-titled album spins like a top between themes of heartache, romance, the thrill of the sea, and booze-soaked youthful sensations.
Criss-crossing state lines and camping out to save money, Mudd hatched a journey down to Memphis, then through to Texarkana and Denton just outside of Dallas, and then inched his way across New Mexico and Arizona before finally arriving in California. “Waiting on Me” is a free-spirited, twinkling dance-hall cut, in which the singer-songwriter yearns for his former life back East, all the while knowing he’ll never return to it. “Well, it’s been five years now / And I can’t help but wonder / If she would even know me, if I came back home,” he sings.
Opener “Come with Me Tonight” jingles and jangles in true neon-strewn, boot-scootin’ fashion, while “High Lonesome” breathes in the expansive scenery and woodlands rolling like thunder down and away from him. Over the span of these eight songs, produced and mastered by Eric Rennaker, Mudd runs the gamut as a country songsmith, contrasting heart-torn whimpers with canyon-sized caterwauling.
Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, surrounded by horse country and lush farmland, Mudd found himself immersed in country, southern rock, and traditional folk music. It was evident from a young age that he had inherited his grandfather’s musical interests. Leonard Mudd, now 92, always had a collection of guitars, mandolins, fiddles, dulcimers, and banjos sprinkled around his home, and still manages to make music from time to time.
Mudd’s exploration of music continued into high school when he formed The Blue Barrel Band, a cheeky nod to the fact they lacked an actual drum kit. “There was this giant blue plastic barrel in dad’s garage,” he recalls, “And we used it as a bass drum for our really bad folksy rock ‘n roll.”
Later, he took to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University where he earned a degree in theatre, alongside another folksy music endeavor with some classmates. After graduating, he spent a few months back home before his cross-country trip to Los Angeles, where he took up an unpaid internship with a prominent casting director. The role soon led to a full assistant’s position, allowing him just enough of a financial foothold to get by in the City of Angels.
Music took an unexpected back seat for several years as he began his film career. Ultimately, two key events in 2015 spurred him to return to the musical fray: His first weekend trip to Bandit Town USA and his discovery of the Grand Ole Echo (a celebrated weekly summer country show in Echo Park). Surrounded and inspired by these communities of like-minded musicians, artists, and urban outlaws, he picked up the old ax and got back to it.
In late 2017, Mudd stepped into Bedrock LA for his first proper studio recording session. A daunting task ahead of him, the Americana troubadour suited himself up for a record that faithfully adheres to the neo-traditionalist style of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. But he’s got a fire in his belly for gale-force songwriting and catchy melodies. His voice is ripe with emotion, from the teary waterfall of “Lady of the Night” to the ethereal bliss with closer “Sailing Song,” an almost post-apocalyptic fever dream. “I’ve seen mountains on the sea / I’ve seen fire in the sky / I’ve outrun southern gales / I’ve cheated death,” he sings, in whimsical swoons, as if gliding away on tides ripping out to sea.
Mudd lands somewhere amidst contemporaries like Joshua Hedley, Margo Price and Colter Wall. He’s never tied to convention, even when he leans so unapologetically into sturdy classic country structures. His voice, as much as his penmanship, stimulates the senses with the most universal human emotions spanning pain, loneliness and abject fear. Furthermore, his album rekindles the kind of raw storytelling for which the genre has long been desperate, and 2019 might be the year the industry finally pays attention.
Apr 12, 2019
Apr 4, 2019
Feb 15, 2019
By Kevin Broughton
There’s a quiet, humble confidence to Charles Wesley Godwin. It’s like he almost knows he’s made a special record but can’t quite believe it. Maybe it’s because the 26-year-old West Virginian is relatively new to the guitar, let alone using it and his voice to make a living. There’s a determination in him, not just to succeed, but to prove to himself and his state and region that anything is possible.
Godwin paints a rich and honest portrayal of his homeland and its people with his debut album. Seneca is a moving snapshot of life and well-soiled roots in the Appalachian hills, a backdrop that has given birth to some of the most intelligent and hard-working people in the country.
Godwin’s voice is weighed down by the current condition of the world, but he doesn’t allow the tragedy, pain, or regret sour his view of life. That’s what makes him an exceptional storyteller; he employs his experiences into melodically profound and timeless compositions. “Seneca Creek,” a stunning ballad laced with both melancholy and hope, tells the tale of his grandparents and their courtship in the spring of 1949.
Another essential piece of his story, “Shrinks and Pills” exhibits a dry, sly humor and sees Godwin lament the roar of the open road in his ears and an unquenchable homesickness wedged deep in his bones. He misses the comfort of his homestead, but he wouldn’t have it any other way--heartache be damned. “Hardwood Floors” dazzles in the dim light of a local pub as he shares a tender embrace with his wife amidst the ho-hum of the crowd.
Godwin is quick to credit producer Al Torrence for the album’s balance, flow and continuity. And we’ll step way out on a limb here and suggest there’s collaborative potential that could reach the lofty heights of Jason Isbell and Dave Cobb. This record is that good.
The artist counts every day as a both a blessing and an opportunity, taking nothing for granted. This is a guy who would succeed in just about anything he attempted, and sees no reason why anybody else wouldn’t.
Grounded. Humble. Nice. Hopeful. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with Charles Godwin and talk about Big-12 football, Estonia, and Waylon’s drummer?
How did you and producer/engineer Al Torrence connect?
When I was playing with my old band, Union Sound Treaty, we made one album and that was comprised of my first batch of songs. Al worked those sessions as an engineer, and we were just really comfortable together. He’s a Berkley School of Music grad, and his knowledge of music is really impressive. We just worked well together. He’s put it all on the line the way I have, and I really like him.
A lot of these songs are easy to picture in an intimate setting, just you and a guitar, and I imagine that’s how you worked out a lot of them before recording. Some of them, though, like “The Last Bite” and “Sorry For The Wait,” have a really sweeping, big sound. Had you done those with a full band on the road, or were those arrangements put together in the studio?
It was done in the studio. It’s a setup I would love to take on the road, but I wouldn’t be able to do that unless I could pay everybody a living, know what I mean? But if the opportunity ever arises, everything on the album I’ll bring out on the road with me, without a doubt.
“Pour it On” is another one with a big, full feel to it, and “Windmill” of course. You have a pretty good balance of songs here of different arrangements. Was that a purposeful thing when you were picking which 13 songs would go on the album?
Neither he nor I were too concerned about the tempo; we just wanted to pick the songs that were related, sorta, to the theme of the album, which is my home. We wanted to stick to that, but I do think it is pretty well balanced.
There are a couple things in your bio one doesn’t see every day from a singer-songwriter. You hail from Morgantown, and actually tried to walk on the football team at WVU. What was that like?
Yeah, I love football and really love playing it, and I had always dreamed about playing football for West Virginia; I wanted just to go out and make a few plays for ‘em, if I could. And it’s something I tried really, really hard to do my first couple years of college. But, you know, I just wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have any delusions going into it and knew I probably wasn’t physically gifted enough to do it…
Were you a defensive back in high school? You look kinda like a safety.
I was an outside linebacker. I used to work out really hard. It was something that I didn’t have the natural ability for. I hadn’t started playing music yet, but up to that point nothing had come easily for me and I really wanted to try it.
|From Charles Wesley Godwin's Instagram|
Well, that’s just kind of a rarity, you know? “Aspiring Big-12 athlete” and “singer songwriter” aren’t terms usually heard in the same sentence; I’m trying to think…I think Ryan Bingham was a rodeo cowboy for a while…
(Laughs) Well, having the phrase “Big 12 athlete” anywhere near my name is probably not correct. I didn’t make the team, but I wanted to try it, and it was the first big dream in my life that didn’t come true.
And you picked up the guitar in earnest while studying abroad in Estonia of all places. What was your course of study that would send you to the Baltic region?
Yeah. That was interesting there, because WVU has a really good “study abroad” program, and I got the “Promise” scholarship because I was an in-state kid who had good grades in high school, and it covers your study overseas as well if you’re able to get a plane ticket. I was in the finance program, and there were only a few options where you could get your credits for study abroad. They partner with hundreds of universities, but only four of them had classes that I hadn’t taken yet that would go towards my degree: Hartfordshire, England; Hamburg, Germany; Hong Kong; and Tartu, Estonia. The last one sounded cool to me.
How long were you there, and it that where you really decided to dive into the music thing?
I was there six months, and by happenstance I started playing in front of people for the first time there. I played my first gigs there, and yeah, I kinda got spoiled there thinking, “Aw, this will be easy.” But that’s where I really got started, for sure, thinking I could be a musician. And when I graduated college I had it set in my mind that I was gonna keep going with it.
|Charles Wesley (Wikipedia)|
There was a pretty famous Methodist composer of hymns named Charles Wesley. Were you named for him?
Sort of. My grandfather was a Methodist preacher, Charles Godwin. So, I would say it’s 1A I was named after my granddad and 1B Charles Wesley. But yeah, I come from…well, on the Godwin side of the family we’re all Methodists. My granddad was a preacher, and then I also have an uncle and an aunt who are Methodist ministers.
I suppose the comparisons you’ve received to Tyler Childers and to a lesser extent Colter Wall are inevitable. Those guys came on the scene over the last couple years with a certain level of instant credibility. What do you think about the comparisons? Do you feel any kind of pressure there, or do you put any on yourself as a result of them?
I’ve heard some of those same things from people. I don’t put any pressure on myself; it’s certainly a hell of a compliment, to hear anybody say that I would remind them of either of those two. They’re both really good at what they do, really good songwriters. But yeah, I’ll take that compliment any day of the week. I believe in my work and I’m really proud of this album. If certain people want to categorize it along with those guys, I’m more than okay with that.
Your portrayal of coal country is certainly authentic and real, but not necessarily as dark as one might expect it to be. Appalachia has gotten its share of rough cultural PR over the years, but there’s an optimistic feel to this record. Were you pushing back a little bit?
Yeah. Yeah. I always have a tough time articulating this in conversation and I think it always comes out better in song. Home is what we make it, and there are a lot of smart, talented people in West Virginia. With the Internet, anybody can do anything, anywhere. There are a lot of opportunities.
I remember I was playing a show in Pineville, West Virginia in February of last year. I was sitting at the bar after the show, and this guy came up to me and said, “Man thanks for coming here and playing for us. Not many people come here, and people overlook us.” And I’m thinking Man, I’m not too good to play anywhere. And he was telling me that he works at the pizza shop up the road and that he just drinks after work and there’s nothing to do. All there is to do is drink and get into drugs. And I’m nodding my head, like, yeah, I know it’s rough. And I was staying in Bedford that night, and driving back to the hotel I kinda got mad.
It was one of those things where after the fact you think about what you should have said. And I got mad, and thought, you know what? That’s bullsh*t. I live out in the middle of nowhere, and I’m just trying to do the best I can. There are all kinds of people around the state, carpenters, whatever, who are just making it happen. And that guy could’ve done it, too. There’s plenty to do around there, if he’d just try. That’s where “Here In Eden” comes from.
It’s about making the best of where you are. And that’s the way I feel about West Virginia. There’s no reason nowadays that people can’t succeed if they’re willing to work at it. So yeah, I take the optimistic view. It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s not just drugs and opiates.
The record has already received wide critical acclaim. Do you get the sense that things will change in an appreciable way for you once it’s released? Or that maybe you’re about to become a much more widely known individual?
I really hope so. I can already tell there’s been a noticeable uptick in the attendance at shows. People can review it all they want, but unless it translates to people buying the music and coming to see me play, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. But it would give me a lot of relief if it were to work out and allow me to do this in a greater capacity, because what I’ve been doing the last couple years has been the definition of “the bottom,” and it’s been a hell of a grind.
You got a day job?
No. I’m all in on this.
You’ve already shared bills with some pretty impressive names: Childers, Shooter, Colter Wall, David Allen Coe. Was there a moment as you started doing that more and more that it sort of dawned on you that, “Yeah, this is something I’m really gonna do for a career?”
Um, I don’t think there’s been any show where I’ve opened for anybody that made me more confident that “this is gonna work out.” Every day it’s like a seesaw for me, where I question what it is I’m trying to do for a living. Some parts of the day it’s I got this, and other times it’s WHAT am I doing? I ask myself, “What are the chances you’ll be able to make a middle-class living playing music?” So I wouldn’t say that opening for any of those folks made me think this is gonna work out. I still don’t know if it’s gonna work out.
I will say that the coolest thing – of all the times I’ve opened for anybody – was after the Shooter Jennings show. He had Waymore’s Outlaws with him that night – some of the tour he takes his dad’s old band out with him. I got to talk to Richie Albright, who was Waylon’s drummer from WAY back in the beginning, when he was in Phoenix. Before he ever went to Nashville. I got to talk to Richie for about 30 minutes. And I was so happy about that. I’ll always have that. If this all goes away and music is something I only do for fun -- and like I said, I think about that every day – if it all goes to hell, I’ll always have the fact that I got to hang out and talk with Richie Albright. I wouldn’t want to offend him by saying “I touched a piece of history,” (laughs) but to get to interact with such an important figure in music history was really special.
Dec 5, 2018
Colter Wall - Songs of the Plains
You roll your own cigarettes. You only wear raw denim. You think condiments are for the weak.
Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
You never knew you liked country music and you're completely amazed a debut album could be this good.
Morgan Wallen - If I Know Me
You are in Morgan's family.
Tyler Childers - Purgatory
You aren't really into calendars.
Kelsea Ballerini - Unapologetically (Deluxe)
This is the only album you've heard this year.
Ruston Kelly - Mockingbird
You are blocked by Ryan Adams on Twitter. People who know you would best describe you as "pretends to be clinically depressed."
Pistol Annies - Interstate Gospel
If female, you have probably punched a man in the face before. If male, you vote Democrat but own a shitload of guns.
Cody Jinks - Lifers
You have been muted by half your Facebook friends for sharing too many Farce the Music memes.
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - Years
You have definitely punched a man in the face before. You once landed a frontside 180 kickflip without spilling your whiskey.
Kane Brown - Evolution
You have a misspelled tattoo about drama somewhere on your body. All your Facebook posts are passive aggressive but end with a Bible verse. You graduated 5th in your class …of 5 people in your GED class.
This is satire. Don't take it seriously.
Also, if your favorite wasn't here, there may be more editions soon.
Idea stolen from Medium.
Idea stolen from Medium.