Roots-Rock Twang Update

jethro_small_pianoMy piece on Indy musician Jethro Easyfield appears in the March 6-11 edition of NUVO. He’s a good dude.  I enjoyed spending a couple days with him and getting a clearer picture of what he does.  He’s quirky – not in a bad way, but he ain’t no slick Nashville boy. either.  Jethro is rural Indiana with a unique voice and lyrics that take a couple listens to catch.  And it is still all good.  I love the backing band, “the Arrowheads”, that he recorded with, and has played with in the past (tuba, anyone?).  He’s someone who could bring the band to a gig and play just about any venue that would hold 100 folks, and rock the place.  It will be interesting to see if he climbs higher than where he is now.  After peering into what Jethro is about, I think he is criminally underrated and could have a bigger influence on the Indy roots-rock live music landscape.  Whether he can grab that, and whether others identify his uniqueness as a positive, we shall see.  I just hope the guy captures some more ears.
neilyoungheartofgold_filmstillNeil Young’s new/old invention  is a  1959 Lincoln Continental that runs entirely on alternative energy -and it also serves as source material for “Fork in the Road,” Young’s new album,.  It is out April 7 .

The album features longtime NY sideman Ben Keith (pedal steel guitar, keyboards), plus Chad Cromwell (drums), Rick Rosas (bass), Neil’s wife Pegi Young (vocals) and Anthony Crawford (vocals, guitar).

Here is the “Fork in the Road” track list:
“When Worlds Collide”
“Fuel Line”
“Just Singing A Song”
“Johnny Magic”
“Cough Up The Bucks”
“Get Behind The Wheel”
“Off The Road”
“Hit The Road”
“Light A Candle”
“Fork In The Road”

The album is about Young’s involvement with the Lincvolt Project, He spearheaded, with biodiesel expert Johnathan Goodwin, a car that uses no gas – a cool old car is the hook . I read about this project in the past year, and Neil believes in the endeavor.  He may be considered a rebel with his ideas, but rebels can do brilliant things.  I think Neil qualifies on both counts….Rebel and brilliant.

The  vehicle, Young’s own 1959 Lincoln Continental, is making a cross-country gasoline-free road trip to Washington, DC.  It will be filmed.

The Bittersweets – Royal Theatre in Danville 
Roots rock just sounds good at the great little theatre.  It’s not too far to drive, plus they sell micro-brewed beer in a little tap room in the theatre.  It’s a listening crowd, respectful but not quiet.  And The Bittersweets (w/ Cara Jean Wahler opening) create anthemic Americana. This is one of those shows that Indy-ites who are into hitting the best shows before a great band gets even bigger need to catch. ($18 door ($7.50 students) – all-ages show)
BONUS: The band has a free live album you can download on their website.  Another reason you can tell they have a clue about how to work it in 2009….

Faces reunion may still happen in 2009 — but probably not a full-scale tour or album – and maybe not with Rod the Mod.
From Billboard
Keyboardist Ian McLagan says the latest idea, proffered by guitarist Ron Wood at a lunch in London with McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones, is “we do a couple shows and film it. Whether Rod (Stewart) wants to do that…I’m hoping he’ll be into that ’cause it’ll be such a lot of fun. It’s what the three of us would like Rod to agree to.”  The Faces, with Stewart’s touring bassist, got together during November in London to play for three days in various configurations. McLagan  says the sessions were “really, really great.”

McLagan says that Wood is currently in Los Angeles and plans to talk to Stewart about the latest idea. “I’ll get a call eventually, and maybe we’ll do something in June or July,” McLagan says, ” ’cause I don’t want to do anything next year. I’m not gonna wait again. It’s either gonna be this year…It’s now or never! I’ve got my fingers crossed, but I’m not going to waste energy trying to make it happen. I’ve worked for 30 years trying to make it happen. It’s now in the lap of the gods — or the hands of Rod, maybe.”

Live Faces from 1972 – how can you not like this band?

I’M DIGGIN THIS: Grungy bluegrass folkies Avett Brothers do a little Bruce.


With a nod of the head and friendly wave of the hand to, one of my very favorite music blogs, I’m gonna rip of their idea and  give you a little peek into what’s in my music library; what I listen to when I’m in the car or walking the dog. I’m going to put the ipod on shuffle and the first five songs that come up each week I will share with you.  Feel free to comment on what you get on your First 5 Shuffle, or about the songs you see pop up each week here.  And smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

1.  “Chips Ahoy” – The Hold Steady (Live at the Non-Comm Radio Convention)
As with a lot of the stuff on my ipod, it’s live.  Bootleg copy recorded from a soundboard, it captures the grit and power of the critical darlings. I’ve never completely drank their kool-aid, but I do like their sound, most of the wordiness and the sheer volume that emits from the speakers.   

2. “We Can’t Make it Here”  – James McMurtry
Literate Crunchy Texas Country Rock.  That’s his category.  From the album “Childish Things”.  I love this song, his honesty, and his Lou Reed-esque vocal delivery.  He’s way too smart for me. Buy the first album, featuring Mellencamp’s band members backing him.  Almost 20 years old, and it still rocks.  And so does his new stuff.

3. “Close Enough For Me”  – Henry Lee Summer
From his one and only live album.  If you remember Henry Lee from the heyday, he was an unstoppable force in concert –  full of hair, bravado, wearing Chuck Taylor high tops, slamming vocal chops and the ability to take a band and a crowd into the “magic” of what happens when the band is in the pocket and the crowd is crazy. This cut is a loose, groovin’ thang, with Carl Storie blowing on the harp.  I miss this Henry Lee….

4.  “Babo O’Reilly”  – Bob Walkenhorst
Who cover via the ex-lead singer of a late 80’s roots-rock band The Rainmakers. I had a serious love affair with the band’s “The Good News and the Bad News” cassette tape around 1990 .  Nasty Telecaster guitars, a rock and roll snare drum really high in the mix and songs that told stories, and even some horns in a couple tunes. Bootleg here recorded live at one of his solo gigs.

5.  “Dancing Queen – The Yahoos
One of Dan Baird’s (Georgia Satellites) side projects.  Greasy cover of the iconic ABBA song.  He turns it into a rock anthem.

Meanwhile, Back at the Rock Sideman Icon Ranch: Steve Van Zandt  – aka Little Steven from the E St. Band – has some interesting things to say about rock and roll and his desire to get his vision on Tv, or someplace else.


“We’ve been working on a TV series for years and came very close. It’s probably my greatest frustration right now, by far. Three years in a row we came within five minutes of a network deal. They keep backing out at the last minute, they’re afraid of music on TV. They tell me it never works. I tell them, ‘I know why it doesn’t work — because it always sucks. How about we do a show that doesn’t suck? Let’s try that!’

“We could do a fantastic TV show and I think that would change everything. It will completely focus this traditional rock and roll and contemporary garage rock movement. The main thing we would do and what you haven’t seen the last 30 years is that it will have kids dancing to rock & roll. I just feel that one day we were dancing to rock & roll and the next we started listening to it, and it’s been downhill ever since — somewhere around 1967 or so. I’m exaggerating only slightly. It may end up on cable.

We may have to start it on the Internet, or a fucking cell phone. It’s something I’m determined to do.”


With digital cable, and the web, there are more and more sources for live music and videos, and getting to something ultimately valuable and intelligently unique is tough.  Frustrating sometimes.  And while there is more music available  that one or five or nine years ago, there is nothing on TV that has the singular drive to be garage rock-unique. I listen to Van Zandt’s excellent “Underground Garage” program on WTTS, and his Garage Rock channel on Sirius/XM.  Some of it is challenging, most of it is pretty damn good and they are nearly all inspired recordings. He seems to be about the real.  He pushes me to know the past and then blowtorching the preconceived notions of what something should be.  He plays stuff I hear nowhere else, believing in his (this) music and presenting it with passion.  Can’t ask for much more, other than some talent to back it up.  Which he has.  He should get this project done.  Even if it becomes just one more option for people like us.


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