Americana Awards Nominees; Ex-Wilco Guitarist Dies; New Fogerty and Snider Album News

New label, new album for Indianapolis favorite Todd Snider

Todd Snider’s next album The Excitement Plan, comes out June 9 and you can stream it now
listen here
 I like Todd (and love-love-love the live show) but need a couple more listens to the album. Underwhelmed right now. But then, that has happened before to me some great albums (always on U2 records and R.E.M records, it seems).
Here’s Todd telling a great bar story about meeting Slash:

Former Wilco band member Jay Bennett died at age 45 over the weekend. The multi-instrumentalist died in his Illinois home May 23. Things were pretty messed up for Jeffy Tweedy and him at the end for their time together, and Jay seemed to be searching for something. He wasn’t getting what he needed in the group, and left/was fired. His recent $50,000 lawsuit against the band for unpaid royalties was odd. This is just sad.

You can hear Wilco’s untitled new record  (set for a late June release) streaming on their website site at

John Fogerty has finished his next album, “John Fogerty: The Return of the Blue Ridge Rangers,” a sequel to his 1973 solo album. We don’t know when it’s coming out,” Fogerty tells “We’re in talks. Stuff can change.”

OK. We can live with that, if that is your answer, Mr. Fogerty. T-Bone Burnett produced the record, which means it will be a bit of a departure in sound for Fogerty who has fully embraced his old CCR sound on the most recent records.
Here’s some Fogerty (with Kenny A. bangin’ on drums) from last year:


Alejando Escovedo will pick up a load of AMA hardware - his most recent album "Real Animal" is deserving of honors
Alejando Escovedo will pick up a load of AMA hardware - his most recent album "Real Animal" is deserving of honors

The Americana Music Association announced the nominees for its 8th Honors and Awards ceremony

  The ceremony will be held September 17 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, during the Americana Festival and Conference. It’ll be hosted by Jim Lauderdale, featuring a band led by Buddy Miller.

Album of the Year
Real Animal, Alejandro Escovedo
Written in Chalk, Buddy & Julie Miller
Jason Isbell & The 40 Unit, Jason Isbell & The 40 Unit
Midnight At The Movies, Justin Townes Earle

Artist of the Year
Alejandro Escovedo
Buddy Miller
Justin Townes Earle
Raul Malo

Instrumentalist of the Year
Buddy Miller
Gurf Morlix
Jerry Douglas
Sam Bush

New & Emerging Artist
Band of Heathens
The Belleville Outfit
Justin Townes Earle
Sarah Borges

Song of the Year
Written by Julie Miller
Performed by Buddy Miller & Patty Griffin
“Country Love”
The Gourds
“Homeland Refugee”
Written by Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock
Performed by The Flatlanders
“Rattlin’ Bones”
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
“Sex And Gasoline”
Rodney Crowell
Duo/Group of the Year
Buddy & Julie Miller
The Flatlanders
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
Reckless Kelly

Indiana Roots-Rockers The Elms Set Album Release; with Henry French and Shameless in Indy Friday; Mellencamp Box Set, More

The Elms hit the Rathskeller Friday with new album ("The Great American Midrange") finished

The Elms’ new studio album, “The Great American Midrange”,  is out on August 25 and will have 12 brand-new songs, recorded in Nashville and Seattle from February – April of this year. Their new single, “Back To Indiana”, will have its official premiere this Sunday on ABC during the national television broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 race

Of the local bands (regional bands?) that flip my Americana switch, they are one.  And they team with an up-and-coming band to hit the Rathskeller in downtown Indy Friday (5.22) night. The Elms just wrapped recording a new album, and are out playing tracks from it. More of their crunchy, literate heartland rock. Henry French and the Shameless open up. Check out their webpage, ’cause you may not be familiar with who they are.  If you are reading this, you will like it.

BONUS TIP: It is the outdoor biergarten with French from 7-8p and Elms rock from 8-11pm. Hands down, it is the best place to see live music in the summer. Stop arguing. Go see.  Good beer.

Patterson Hood (Drive-By-Trucker leader) releases his second solo record in June.
Drive-by-Trucker leader Hood releases second solo album

Summer Roots Rock album releases…and more to come.





John Mellencamp will release a four-disc, 72-track box set titled “On the Rural Route 7609” this fall.  The number 7609 is a reference to the fact that the set spans Mellencamp’s entire recording career from 1976 to 2009. It will include a disc of early demo recordings, two discs of various versions of well-known songs and previously unreleased songs, and a fourth disc that will include different versions of other material. It is estimated that 65-75% of the material on the box set will be previously unreleased recordings, whether they are demos or alternate versions of familiar songs or songs that were never released for one reason or another.

indiana_telecaster_flag150INDIANA AMERICANA: Stella and Jane
Even when comparing artists to other similar-sounding bands, there seems to be a musical flavor that runs through many of the artists who come from Indiana.  A lack of pretension.  A small, almost unnoticable degree of dirty rock in the sound.  And usually a nod (or more) to some kind of 60 or 70’s rock sound, even from today’s younger bands.

Stella and Jane are Stella  Weakly and Bobbie Jane Lancaster, based in Bloomington, and with harmonies Indigo Girl-like. But there is far more twang from these two (and the band that comes along) than to stop with that comparison.  Soulful, folky and even three-chord rockish in places, the album “On With the Show” also features multi-instrumentalist Jeff Foster. 

Roots Rock: Mellencamp, Earle Announce Tours; Three Gotta-See Videos; plus Twang News

Rocking at the Crump Theatre, Mellencamp delivered with 90 minutes of sweaty roots rock.
Rocking here at the Crump Theatre in Columbus last fall, Mellencamp is headed out on the road with Dylan and Willie this summer.

John Mellencamp Q&A: on Willie, Bob and a New Album:
Mellencamp hits stages this summer on a bill with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, playing outdoor venues and lots of minor league baseball stadiums, including Louisville and South Bend. (What? No Victory Field in Indy?) I think it’ll be one of the surprise hits of the summer, if you can call those three together drawing big crowds any kind of surprise. But the non-traditional rock venues and the trio make it a bit different than a regular “let’s promote the album by ourselves at 3,000 seat theatres” outing.
From the John Mellencamp website (

Q: What are your feelings about the tour?
JM: I grew up listening to Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson! Their songs and records were in my house from when I was pre-teen. So I’m really proud and happy to be on tour with these two artists. Very few people get to grow up and go out and tour with guys they’ve admired for so long.

Q: What can you say about your part of the show?
JM: We’re going out there with the full band and we’ll be playing material from over the past 30 years–a combination of new and old material including songs from “Life Death Love and Freedom” and songs that haven’t been recorded yet. We’ll be playing for about 75 minutes each night.

Q: Any chance you’ll perform with the other guys?
JM: If it happens, it will happen organically.

Q: You perform regularly with Willie at Farm Aid. When was the last time you performed with Dylan?
JM: Bob was going to play a flood relief benefit in St. Louis with me in the early 1990s but we got flooded out, so this is really the first time since the original Farm Aid that we’ll be on the same bill.

Q: You’re still planning to record a new album during the tour?
JM: Yes. We’ll be recording the new album on days off over the course of the tour. It just seemed like a good idea to do it this way: It gives the making of the album a new perspective and context–and it’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve gone into Belmont Studio for the last 30 years to make records, and this is another way to do it.

Q: What about the box set?
JM: It will be a broad overview of my songwriting, and it will be much more about the writing than about the hit records or the versions of songs you may be familiar with.

Q: And what about your participation in the Pete Seeger birthday celebration concert in New York?
JM: You have to admire Pete for persevering for 90 years! He’s the last of the great original American folk singers and has written or performed so many great songs. For just about all of his life, Pete Seeger has stood up for humanity, freedom and the environment.

Austin City Limits announced its Festival line-up, to be held Oct. 2-4 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. The 130-acts that will be spread across eight stages during the three-day festival. Here’s are the highlights of the bookings  – includes Indy’s Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band:
Pearl Jam
Dave Matthews Band
Beastie Boys
Kings of Leon
Sonic Youth
Ben Harper
Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band
Flogging Molly
The Decemberists
The B-52’s
Levon Helm Band
Raul Malo
Arctic Monkeys
Sara Watkins
Lily Allen
Robyn Hitchcock
Todd Snider
Zac Brown Band
The Avett Brothers
The Felice Brothers
Brett Dennen
Poi Dog Pondering
Asleep at the Wheel
The Virgins
Reckless Kelly

indiana_telecaster_flag150As part of this gig, I come across (and get sent) lots of music from bands and artists who live here in the great Hoosierland.  Lots of it is really good.  I want to share.  So for the next  eight weeks, we will give you a series called Indiana Americana.  A two sentence description and a song that represents what they do best.  Turn it up.. That’s the intention here…  

artist: Gamblin Christmas |  album: Alaska | song: Blue Lights
Gamblin Christmas is Patrick Flaherty and Kurt Franke, harmonizers and folk rockers from Indianapolis… both are Ball State grads…The Alaska album was recorded in Michigan…”Blue Lights” is the one on the album that I cannot get out of my head….best thing on the record, and cut #1. 

Former Wilco member Jay Bennett filed a lawsuit against Wilco-frontman Jeff Tweedy. The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claims Tweedy owes Bennett “damages of at least $50,000” for his time in the band. Bennett was out of the band after the 2002 Wilco documentary, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”. Bennett was a key part of the Wilco rise, and it’s all kind of a shame, even after Bennett was looking less than heroic in the film.

Jerry Lee Lewis has been honored with a road. The Tennessee legislature voted to name a stretch of Getwell Road in Shelby County, now called Jerry Lee Lewis Highway. The section runs from the Mississippi state line to Interstate 240. – Good for “the Killer”, although I did like the alternate name suggested on somone’s blog that I read: Their suggestion? “I Humped My Cousin Highway”

Steve Earle, whose new album of Townes Van Zandt songs has arrived in stores, is set to hit the road later this month.
Earle new record “Townes,” comes out May 12. Look for a Bloomington date to be added.
May 28 The Music Hall Portsmouth, NH
May 29 Berklee Performance Center Boston, MAw
May 30 Swyer Theatre/The Egg Albany, NY
June 2 SOPAC South Orange, NJe
June 4 McCarter Theatre Princeton, NJ
June5 Wolf Trap Filene Center Vienna, VA John Prine w/Special Guest: Steve Earle
June 6 Paramount Theater Charlottesville, VA
June 7 Chuck Mathena Center for the Performing Arts Princeton, VA
June 9 The National Richmond, VA
June 10 The ArtsCenter Carrboro, NC
June 12 Atlanta Botanical Garden Atlanta, GA
June 13 Fine Arts Auditorium – Armstrong Atlantic State University Savannah, GA
June 14 Florida Theatre Jacksonville, FL
July 22 Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua Bayfield, WI
July 25 RockyGrass Lyons, CO
August 1 Constellation Performing Arts Center Canandaigua, NY
August 2 Susquehanna Bank Center Camden, NJ
September 6 Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Westhampton, NY

A new album that contains some sounds we like….
Tim Easton – Porcupine
Review by Hal Horowitz
The “1-2-3-4” that kicks off Tim Easton’s fifth album (and fourth for New West) indicates the folk-rocker is more in the rock rather than folk mode here. He doesn’t consider it a return to his rawer roots but it’s hard not to see it that way. There is a strong Midwestern rock and roll vibe throughout, augmented by some unexpected musical twists (strings, backing female vocals), honed through the vibrant performances created with few overdubs.
Read Review here

→ Excellent James McMurtry video for “Ruby and Carlos” from his new album “just us kids”, performed at 89.7 WNKU, a terrific public radio station at Northern Kentucky University, with a signal that hits the Cincy area. They have the full podcast available by visiting their website at < a href=””>

→ And just for fun, here is Will Kimbrough in their studios. Again, great combo of video and audio.

→ Can I get me some Webb Wilder? Who remembers the “Human Cannonball” song? Clearly quirky yet oddly engaging and obviously loving the performance, here’s a live video reminder of his magic. He’s still out, rocking the road, as evidenced here:

Bassist Donald “Ean” Evans of Lynyrd Skynyrd died after a battle with cancer. Evans died Wednesday at his home in Mississippi. He was 48. He joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2001 and had been touring regularly with the band until being diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

Concert Review – Hoosier Springsteen Show featuring Tim Grimm, Jason Wilber, Bobbie Lancaster, Gordon Bonham and White Lightning Boys

Saturday night’s Hoosier Springsteen — a tribute to Springsteen’s music paid by Indiana artists — proved to be an inspired effort not only by the musicians, but also by the crowd, who hung in and responded throughout the three-plus hour show. It was the first edition of the event, put together by Indiana songwriter Tim Grimm, following on the Grimm-organized Hoosier Dylan tribute show.

Unlike doing a similar show for nearly any other artist, those on stage had to meet the challenge of doing more than simply singing Bruce’s songs. To be truly effective in capturing the essence of Springsteen, they had to hit on at least two of the three skills that make Springsteen legendary. They did.

It’s hard to miss on the songs. With few exceptions, Springsteen’s catalogue of songs is exquisite, with more tunes to choose from than could be played in one night.

Secondly, there’s the performance. While albums like “Nebraska” or “The Ghost of Tom Joad” are unarguably lo-fi affairs, picking a song from a record like “Born to Run”, “Darkness on the Edge of Town” or even “Born in the USA” means taking on the iconic music too. It’s either replicate or reinvent if you take a shot at those records.

And the third challenge is finding a way to add a little homage to Springsteen’s live show. The best live performer of his generation, the Hoosier Springsteen gang needed to bring the power, the touches of gospel and the push that comes with his live performance for the night to be a complete success.

Turning a rundown Crump Theatre in Columbus, Indiana into the perfect venue for a debut of a the Grimm-led series, the singer and actor took a break from performing in a stage play in Chicago to trek back to Southern Indiana and treat the 150 or so in attendance to a night that made us glad we were there.

Among the performers included Grimm, John Prine guitarist Jason Wilber, guitarist and songwriter Gordon Bonham, Bloomington-based singer and songwriter Bobbie Lancaster and hillbilly bluegrass band White Lightning Boys, plus a terrific backing band, highlighted by the spectacularly tasteful Troye Kinnett, from John Mellencamp’s band, on keys.


Leaning heavily on “Nebraska” and “Born In the USA” material – 14 of the night’s 31 (!) songs were from those two early and mid 80’s records – the musicians found “Nebraska” perfect for a night of Americana songwriters playing Bruce music. Yet it was individual performances that elevated the evening’s best moments, when performers strayed slightly from the records.

Columbus singer Dale Sechrest opened each of the two sets solo, “Cover Me” appropriately starting the show, followed by the obscure “Jesus Was an Only Son” to a hushed crowd. Wilber, a hell of a guitar player, introduced the band with a rollicking “Hungry Heart” and the first magical moment of the night, teaming with Bonham and Kinnett for an angry “State Trooper”. Lancaster provided the first glimpse at her engaging stage persona and “aw shucks, ain’t I a killer singer?” voice with a bluegrass-inflected “All I’m Thinking About is You” from the “Devils and Dust” album.

Grimm joined for Lancaster for a smoldering duet of “I’m on Fire,” the band’s restrained playing and Kinnett’s mid-80’s keyboard touch gluing the song together, making it new and classic at once. Perfect.

Bonham’s first turn at vocals came with Nebraska’s” “Reason to Believe”, morphed into a country shuffle, complete with Lancaster and two friends dancing behind the band. The band stayed with the 1982 album for “Open All Night”, creating a jubilant rock song that had the audience moving up front to dance and Jason and Gordon trading searing leads. Another keeper.

Poet Matthew Jackson provided a breather with his first of three appearances, reading original poetry, before the White Lightning Boys turned in an Avett Brothers-like performance of “I’m Goin’ Down”, followed by the economic hardship song “Youngstown” from The Ghost of Tom Joad.

Grimm and his wife Jan dueted beautifully on the sad story song “Highway Patrolman”, before the group hit on a set of tunes that became the best segment of the night. “Devils and Dust” started the momentum with a great vocal from Tim, and a more uptempo performance than on the record, followed by “Johnny 99,” featuring stinging leads from Bonham’s Fender Telecaster.

But it was the Wilber/Bonham duet on “Born in the USA” – just two guys, two Telecasters and a bit of a crowd singalong too – that told the crowd why they came. Wicked guitar playing and Wilber emanating a comfortable yet forceful energy on stage perfect for the song and the night. That song led into the full band’s rousing and fun “Glory Days.”

Lancaster grabbed “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” off the Seeger Sessions” record, released in 2006, with Kinnett’s accordian playing and Lancaster’s southern lilt working together. “My Hometown” wrapped the first set up, and it clicked along nicely, in part because she changed the lyrics to reflect a daughter instead of a son in the song.

A more ragged second set began with a trio of songs from the bluegrass White Lightning Boys, on stage for “Old Dan Tucker”, “Nebraska” and “Mrs. McGrath”, followed by Grimm and Wilber for the title cut from “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. Sechrest came back for Seeger Session’s obscure “Eye on the Prize”.

Give the band extra kudos for next tackling one of the legendary anthems of Springsteen canon. “Racing in the Street” is long, beautiful, and iconic. Not the easist to pull off, but they did. “Used Cars”, and a pair from the 1995 “Greatest Hits” album followed, with Tom Clark contributing a lovely sax solo during “Secret Garden,” replete with Wilber playing along, eyes closed, fully in the moment.

Grimm led “Blood Brothers” with son Conner onstage playing bass, and they stayed for a joyous “Thunder Road”. Bonham burned in a rendition of “Atlantic City”, using a fiery Bruce concert arrangement.

An unexpected “Meeting Across the River” off “Born to Run” from Jason led to a finale of the title cut from that 1975 record, putting a fitting cap on a Springteen length live show.

For a Bruce fan, it was special to watch some of the best from our little state tackle Jersey’s chosen son. And give the crowd credit for making the night fun and helping make the first shot at performing this show a winner. Worth a trip to Danville to see the next outing on June 20.