Showing posts with label Lori McKenna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lori McKenna. Show all posts

May 12, 2020

Larry Hooper: The FTM Interview 2

Today, we speak with the Texas singer-songwriter-bus-driver, Larry Hopper. I hope you enjoy. (Also, he's taking over Galleywinter's FB page Thursday.)

FTM: Hello, Hopper! It’s been a while since we last spoke. I’ve been meaning to ask you, are you related to Jim Hopper from Stranger Things?

Larry: I said no to this interview.

FTM: Your denial didn’t take. So what have you been doing in the 9 1/2 years since our last interview? Prison time? 

Larry: I had some good toast about 4 years ago. I wanted to make sure and tell you about that toast. It wasn’t any special kind of bread, it was just the EXACT right amount of toasted. Not burnt, not under toasted. Can you imagine? It was so good!! I have some pictures of the toast if you need them.  

FTM: I'm good. What are you doing to pass the time during quarantine, besides (insert tired beard grooming joke here)? 

Larry: During what? No idea what you’re talking about. 

FTM: These crazy times, buddy! Hey, when you and your wife are teaching your kids for in-home school, are you in charge of bad jokes and puns training, while she teaches all the other subjects?

Larry: My wife will be offended that you would think for ONE SECOND I would be the one who would teach puns. She has her doctorate in Punning.

FTM: Is it true you co-wrote a song for Cody Jinks?

Larry: With.

FTM: Yeah right, Hopper; is it one that “accidentally got left off the album?”

Larry: It was the title cut of his 2019 release “After the Fire.” It was the number one country album for one whole week. Then he released another album the next week and kicked himself off the top spot. 

FTM: Oh really? Does Cody owe you money or something?

Larry: I wish. I keep hoping someone will remember that they owe me money. Nobody does. 

FTM: Most artists, and I use that term carefully, consume lots of art to keep their creativity flowing. What sort of books, movies, and music keep your muse alive? I’m assuming there will be a follow up question about coloring books, Tom Green films, and Hoobastank. 

Larry: I only watch my extensive collection of Puppy Bowl recordings. I recently read a book about a little dog named Meli that went to the vet. It was quite the thrill ride. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but page 12 will surprise you!!! As for what I listen to, mostly my interior monologue of self doubt and fear and neurosis and anxiety and guilt . Also John Prine. 

FTM: So I see you’ve been doing streaming concerts during the pandemic. What does that mean?

Larry: It just makes sense. Staying home is the best way for people to come see me. 

FTM: No, I meant “pandemic,” I’ve always assumed that had something to do with pandas.  

Larry: This is why I said no to the interview. Plus you barely even seemed interested in my really good toast story. The toast was excellent, the story was really good. 

FTM: You live a wild life, Barry. I haven’t been stalking you, I promise, but I’ve noticed there are always a ton of kids in your social media photos. Are you starting a cult?

Larry: I hear there’s good money in it. 

FTM: If your cult will have brisket and singalongs, I’m interested. Let’s talk about that later. Right now, I need to know what you think about how Red Dirt, independent country, and Americana music are kinda sorta mainstream these days. When we did that first interview, I’d have never dreamed that our buddy Drew Kennedy would be modestly more well known in 2020. It's wild.

Larry:  I don’t know who that is, but the meshing of all the different musical subsets is bound to happen. It’s a cycle. Some kids get sick of  mainstream music and there’s a movement of a new sound, it becomes popular and in that popularity gets watered down and pushed towards a more generic sound to appeal to more people.  theres art and then there’s business and the 2 can only coexist in a small window before it becomes more business. That’s not to say anyone is wrong for that that’s just the nature of the beast. Radio stations have to sell ads to keep the lights on. They have the seemingly impossible task of staying true to their format but appealing to as many people as possible. People get mad at radio stations if they play a song that that person doesn’t think belongs. That’s bizarre to me. Just.. don’t listen to that song? I don’t like calling myself an artist but I’m sure not a business man. That’s why most people reading this think you’re interviewing the guy from the Lawrence Welk show, But there’s always good music to listen to.  Mainstream or not.  I’ll check out Drew Kennedy though. 

FTM: Oh you know who he is; he asked me to tell you to stop texting him asking to open his shows all the time. It's getting awkward for everyone. Next question: Are you working on any new music? 

Larry: I’m always writing. I have plenty of songs for a new album I just haven’t had time or money to record. And with the covidteen going on I have no idea what everything will look like when shows start up again. 

FTM: You didn’t have to go on for so long. I don’t really care, it’s just something I have to ask since this is a music blog. But since we’re on the subject, will you be doing any boyfriend country songs?

Larry:  I don’t know what that means. 

FTM: Nobody does. Hey, it’s bizarre that I’ve “known” you online for over 15 years and I still don’t know your favorite N-Sync member. Care to elaborate?

Larry:  Timberlake is the only one I can even name.  

FTM: Who are some of your favorite songwriters these days? 

Larry: Other than the standards, Lori Mckenna is just unspeakably good.  I keep expecting to move on from my Isbell fanboyness but he’s just such a great writer. The writing BJ did on the new AA record is so good. Courtney Patton is better than most. So are Jacob Furr and Gabe Wootton. Mike Ethan Messick.  Jackie Darlene for sure. 

FTM: Again, don’t actually care. Did you watch Tiger King? That was some crazy sh*t.

Larry:  I did. It was sad. 

FTM: I see you’re still not going to come out and admit that you were the fake Cowboy Troy troll on that Americana message board we used to frequent. Why is that? 

Larry:  I think the record will show that the Cowboy Troy user had better spelling and grammar than me. 

FTM: Okay, I think this has gone on for long enough. I’m as bored as you are, if not more. Let’s do the lightning round! Do you have a Larry Hopper face Covid mask on your merch site?

Larry: yes. It comes in the shape of a shirt and you have to DIY your mask. 

FTM: That’s a missed opportunity. Alright, favorite flavor of Swisher Sweets?

Larry:  I don’t use them because of poisons. I need to stay healthy so I can overeat for longer. 

FTM: That’s a hoax. Tobacco is grown from the earth, so it’s healthy. Bigly. Do your research. Next question is multiple choice: Are these times A)uncertain B)crazy C)troubling 4)frowsty?

Larry: Can I put “exhausting” as a write in answer?

FTM: If Sam Hunt asked to cowrite a song with you, what color would the Land Rover you bought with the royalties be?

Larry:  I don’t think you can buy a Land Rover with royalty money anymore.  I might could get me an old Isuzu trooper. 

FTM: Jay or Jeff?
Larry: Jay

FTM: No, I meant Jay Cutler or Jeff Garcia. Read the room.

Larry:  Jeff Garcia from the Grateful Dead?

FTM: You don’t know soccer at all, Lawrence. Who is the coolest celebrity you’ve ever met?

Larry: Henry Winkler 

FTM: Ayyyy! Favorite Juice WRLD song?


FTM: That is an acceptable answer. What’s the first restaurant you’re going to sit down and eat at when it’s finally safe again?

Larry: Somewhere with chips and salsa 

FTM: You thought that was going to be a trick question, but these are very serious. What is the highest number of feral hogs that has ever run into your yard?

Larry: 28-48

FTM: When you’re writing a song: lyrics or music first?

Larry: Lyrics 

FTM: Another serious question! I’m getting good at this! Spell “Thibodaux.”

Larry: Thibodeaux. I learned that from an episode of King of the Hill.

FTM: I was talking about the city in Louisiana and with this being an email interview, I gave you the answer and you still missed it. Anyway.. if you were doing a big nationwide tour, what particular food or drink would be on your tour rider?

Larry: 4 fried chickens and a coke. 

FTM: Alright, now it’s the requisite time in a Farce the Music interview when we give you the opportunity to speak poorly of mainstream country. If you don’t say something funny, pithy, or meaningful here, you may lose legions of fans. No pressure.

Larry: jokes on you, I don’t have legions of fans. 

Mainstream Country is awful but so is a lot of other stuff. I just don’t listen. I don’t care what they’re doing. It’s not for me. I am not their target. Honestly the only reason I even know the names of most of them is because of Farce The Music, haha. And it’s just name recognition. If I’m in a store and mainstream country is playing it lets me know that I still am not interested, but that’s the extent of how much I think about it. I don’t like most Jazz music, so I just don’t listen to Jazz music.i don’t have to make shirts about how much I hate it.  I used to get worked up about what they were calling country music but labels are for the masses and the record execs. Something I work hard on reminding myself, and I wish more people understood: you don’t have to have an opinion on everything. In the time of this constant barrage of new information or media or whatever, we feel like we have to know about it all and have an informed opinion on every single thing. Just pick a few. I just choose to not care, as you can fell by the massive paragraph I just wrote on the matter.

FTM: So much for “lightning.” What do you think the water from inside a waterbed would taste like?
Larry: Pall Mall cigarettes and bad decisions. 

FTM: Possibly. It’s just something I’ve been wondering about. Okay, last question: Would you rather have a sack full of punch or a punch in the sack? 
Larry: I really said I wasn’t going to do another one of these interviews. 


Dec 28, 2018

Farce the Music's Top 10 Songs of 2018

Here are my top 10 songs of 2018 (#s 11-30 here). There's a Spotify playlist of 1-30 at the bottom. 

10. Fantastic Negrito – Transgender Biscuits
I don't have a clue what this song is about but it's so much fun. Maybe it's about how stuff's tough all over for everybody, so we might as well have a good time and love everybody while we're at it. Maybe it's about biscuits. Whatever.

9. Jamie Lin Wilson – Death & Life

8. Caitlyn Smith – This Town Is Killing Me

7. Father John Misty – Please Don't Die

6. Ashley McBryde – Tired of Being Happy

5. Cody Jinks – Colorado

4. Lori McKenna – The Lot Behind St. Mary's

3. Lucie Silvas – My Old Habits
Expertly crafted, well -produced, strongly performed bar rock is one of my musical sweet spots and this gets right in there. It was stuck in my head for days on end and that never became annoying. Lucie sings the hell out of this song. It gives me some Bonnie Raitt vibes, and that's never a bad thing.

2. Ruston Kelly – Faceplant
Catchy misery is one of my musical sweet spots and this is a bullseye. "Not even angels came around" really drove it home. 

1. YOB – Our Raw Heart
Epic, emotional, visceral, tortured. "Our Raw Heart" conjures images of mountains rising, of ice cliffs smashing into one another, of 90 foot waves falling against the shore, continents sliding into the sea. It's gigantic, ugly, and beautiful all at once. YOB nearly didn't exist into 2018; its singer Mike Scheidt almost died of intestinal issues in 2017. The album was a statement of survival and growth after trauma, and this, the title song, was its raw, beating heart. A cathartic masterpiece.

Sep 6, 2018

Scrubs: Country Reaction Gifs

Who wants to hear "Foggy Mountain Breakdown??"

When your wife's not so sure about teaching little Johnny and Katie that mainstream country sucks

When Isbell plays "If We Were Vampires" in concert

A Kane Brown fan's views on science

BMLG's latest country duo

When you're dating someone who owns a Walker Hayes album

When someone can tell you've been listening to Lori McKenna again

"But it must be country - they play it on the country station"

Jul 19, 2018

The Office Country Reaction Gifs 3

What's your favorite Turnpike Troubadours song?

What it's like to listen to a Lori McKenna album

When your office-mate complains about you listening to Cody Jinks all the time

Why isn't your song on country radio?

When a Luke Bryan song starts

Male country singers get plaques for their #1 songs;
Female country singers get...

Still better than going to a Kane Brown concert...

If you like Mitchell Tenpenny

Album Review / Lori McKenna / The Tree

From my perspective, Lori McKenna is the best working songwriter whose last name isn't Prine. She has a gift - and 'gift' seems like the biggest understatement ever - for conveying real, lived-in emotion. She doesn't paint a picture; she paints you into the picture. You're there. 

No matter your particular station in life - when Lori sings, you're a broken-hearted husband, a loving mother, a thankful child. I'm almost convinced it's voodoo.

The Tree is McKenna's latest foray into messing with your feelings. Family is front and center across the eleven songs, and again, it doesn't matter what you bring to the experience - Lori's plucking you from your existence and plopping you down in her stories. 

"People Get Old," the album's first single, builds a world around its simple title. The passage of time and the certainty of aging are well worn themes to be sure, but you haven't felt them like this. The imagery - dad's cut sleeved t-shirt, turning off all the lights int the house like her dad did - doesn't just set the scene, it sets the mood. Lori's vocals pull you the rest of the way in, and suddenly you're reminiscing the past and pondering the future right alongside her. 

"You Can't Break a Woman" tells a philandering mate how little his drinking and running around matters anymore. She's still there, but she's not there for him to hurt. Even though the message is to the lover, you're the titular woman. She hasn't left yet, but she's long gone. 

Though a lot of The Tree's songs lean on shading and expertly arranged simple prose, Lori can wordsmith with the best of them. On "The Lot Behind St. Mary's," McKenna flexes her lyrical muscle. It's a longing and nostalgic look back to a couple's more innocent times. I'd pick a line or two to include here, but really, the entire thing is incredible. The most devastating thing about this song is what she doesn't explicitly tell us. When it hits you…

There's some joy to be found on The Tree - celebrating the small things and the everyday heroes (mom!). There's also a lot of struggle to go around - much like life. McKenna's brilliance is her searing honesty. Her ability to absorb the listener into the song is without equal. 

Give this album your full and undivided attention, but prepare yourself. This isn't a record of pat platitudes and mindless entertainment. It demands of you. I don't get "in my feelings" much, but if you really listen to this album and don't go there, you missed out. 

The Tree is out 7/20 on all platforms.

Jul 9, 2018

Show Review / Lori McKenna / Ram's Head Onstage

by Scott Colvin

As much as I like to think of myself as someone adept at “discovering” new music, it never hurts to have friends and family with good taste to turn me onto something that I might have missed due to whatever sub-genre I’m overdoing at the moment.

In junior high my older cousin taped me (dating myself big-time) Metallica’s Ride the Lightning when it came out. That blew my mind way more than the poodle haired safe for radio “metal” I knew at the time. Years later in high school, I was into 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M. when some older friends clued me into to Jane’s Addiction and The Smiths (to name a few). A whole new world opened. And of course now we all have Trailer who introduced most of us early on to that Sturgill fella (and many other real country artists that makes us all swoon…thanks, bud).

Sometime in the early 00s I joined a CD trading community called (RIP). Artist suggestions on the site’s message board were more prevalent than half-finished PBRs at a Blake Shelton concert tailgate. One “friend” knowing that I had an affinity toward women singer/songwriters asked me if I heard of Lori McKenna and particularly her new album Bittertown. Sheepishly, I said, “no, but I’ll check it out,” which in “Scott speak” means, “I’ll get to it as soon as I listen to the 20 or so CDs I have but haven’t listened to yet, learn how to finally play mandolin and naturally cure cancer.” But, I trusted the dude enough and gave it a whirl. And that’s when I fell in love with not only Lori’s aching voice, but the voice inside her head that wrote the most gut-wrenching songs I’ve ever heard. “Stealing Kisses,” a song that Faith Hill regrettably drained all of the angst out of on her Fireflies album, was and will always be one of my most cherished McKenna songs.

I was lucky enough to see McKenna on her tour for 2007’s Unglamorous and again in 2011 for Lorraine (where she played another personal favorite that would appear on 2013’s Massachusetts, “Make Every Word Hurt”) at the intimate Rams Head Onstage in Annapolis, MD. Both were fantastic shows that played up her catalog.

Good fortune reared its head on June 29 as McKenna returned to RHOS on the first night of her tour in support of her new album The Tree (out on July 20).

Going into the show, I fully expected and anticipated hearing a steady dose of new music, songs she co-wrote for others that became big hits (although part of me thought it would’ve been amusing if she would’ve covered those artists instead…like imagine her singing “Truck Yeah” or “Pontoon”…in her distinct heartbreaking style…but I digress), and a smattering of her older fan favorites.

I was mostly right, but also partly wrong, which had me days later a little bummed after some reflection (AKA looking at my concert notes while sober), even though I left the show on a total concert high (and a little drunk). Don’t get me wrong, the songs she played were brilliant tales of love and loss, with dynamic twists at the end (the story arcs in her songs are anything but predictable), and impeccable musicianship by her band. Her banter with the crowd was lighthearted, informative and endearing. 

What was missing though was a musical acknowledgment of her extensive back catalog (her set consisted solely of new songs, a few off her previous album “The Bird and the Rifle (such a great record by the way), and a cover. I can understand “sticking to the new stuff” for artists who tour often, but she really doesn’t these days, focusing more on her songwriting craft (she is one of the most sought after co-writes in Nashville these days). I can also see why an artist would want to focus on the now and not the past, but when the new album won’t be released for weeks it can make for a long night of not hearing anything “familiar.” It’s a minor/spoiled music fan gripe indeed, as fortunately, the new songs sounded sublime and I can already predict that the Dave Cobb produced album will sit atop many top 10s at the end of the year.

Of the new songs she played “The Tree,” “Young and Angry Again,” “Mother Never Rests,” “The Lot Behind St. Mary’s,” “The Fixer,” “Like Patsy Would,” and the album’s first single “People Get Old.” As mentioned, she also played songs from her previous album The Bird and the Rifle including the title track, “Old Men, Young Women” and naturally, the stunning “Humble and Kind” that Faith’s hubbie turned into one of the finest songs on pop country radio in recent years (I still would’ve killed to hear her take of “Truck Yeah”).

McKenna and her band had a “rock-out” moment with “Happy People” written by McKenna and made famous by Little Big Town. During the encore her band provided transcendent harmonies to another song LBT recorded and sprouted from the mind of McKenna, 2015’s most ubiquitous radio song, “Girl Crush.”

The concert concluded with a cover by another American songwriter hero Tom Petty, as they played a stellar version of “Room at the Top.”

In the end, Lori McKenna live, as on record, is a treasured storyteller that country fans who prefer swimming in the deep end of country music’s pool can thoroughly appreciate.  


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