Roots Rock News: Alejandro Escovedo, Tim Grimm, Drive-By Truckers

Roots Rock and Twang News: All kinds of news ‘n’ notes. I must pass them along before something bad happens, like a new Winger album appears to punish my selfishness. So I share….

While the Grammy’s pounded away at honoring (mostly) commercial success over everything else, there were a few winners of note to us:
Steve Earle won the Grammy Award for best contemporary folk album for 2009’s “Townes.” Loudon Wainwright III (from “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” to this…) won for best traditional folk album with “High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project”. Best americana album went to Levon Helm, for “Electric Dirt.” and Springsteen won for best solo rock performance for “Working on a Dream”.

Alejandro Escovedo retreated to Mexico with long-time friend, co-writer and fellow artist Chuck Prophet, for the follow-up to his most recent studio album “Real Animal”. The new record is slated to be released in late June. Escovedo’s next album will come out on Fantasy Records, the former home Creedence Clearwater Revival, and again home to John Fogerty. Escovedo’s in Kentucky making the record with producer Tony Visconti, who also produced “Real Animal.” One of the best americana shows in the Indy area last year was Escovedo’s appearance at the Royal Theatre in Danville.

Eddie Vedder’s cool cover of “My City Of Ruins” by Bruce Springsteen, recorded at the recent Kennedy Center Honors show in DC, is available as a charity digital single through iTunes. Proceeds benefit Artists for Peace and Justice Haiti Relief.

Barbara Higbie begins a run of six consecutive excellent female singer/songwriters as part of the Indy Acoustic Cafe series. She appears February 13 for a 7:30 show at the Wheeler Community Arts Theater (1035 Sanders St.). Catie Curtis is slated for Feburary 27. more info at indyacousticcafeseries.com

Tim Grimm (photo from KDHX Community Media)

Tim Grimm plays February 20 for the Indy Folk Series at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis (615 West 43rd Street). The Indiana singer/songwriter/actor/farmer is the mastermind behind the Hoosier Dylan, Hoosier Holiday and Hoosier Springsteen shows, and this is a nice chance to hear him play his own music. A great voice, filled with relaxed strength, and iy’s sneakily captivating.
more info at indyfolkseries.org

Dixie Chicks and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison will record an album together without their Dixie Chick partner Natalie Maines. Maines father, legendary Texas pedal steel player Lloyd Maines reports that the split is “temporary.

Nielsen rolled out the 2009 year-end music sales and radio airplay, showing album sales were down 8.5 percent. Digital track sales went up 8.3 percent over 2008, and digital album sales up 16.1 percent. Vinyl also grew, with music fans buying 2.5 million vinyl LPs, a 33 percent jump over 2008. Still, music industry revenues in 2009 were $6.3 billion, less than half what they were in 1999, and people spent 32% less in 2009 on music than they spent in 2008.

In 1979, Doug Fieger played rhythm guitar in a band called the Knack and sang a song called “My Sharona” that stayed at No. 1 for six weeks. More recently he’s been a cancer patient, lung and brain and beyond.
Here’s the article

Though Charlie Daniels suffered a mild stroke while snowmobiling in Colorado on Jan. 15th, he says he plans on keepting upcoming shows, on Feb. 27th in Ft. Pierce, FL and Feb. 28th in Brooksville, FL. Daniels was released from Swedish Medical Center on Sunday, Jan. 17th and returned to his home in Colorado. I saw Daniels play a mighty fine pre-race Brickyard 400 show a couple years ago, in the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He still had the energy (he’s 73), some damn good country-rock fiddle and guitar songs, and looked at home on the big stage.

ALBUM NEWS
The Drive-By Truckers have a new album set for release this March, and the first song has been released on Stereogum’s website. Patterson Hood told the website that “The Big To-Do” is “very much a rock album,” You can listen to “This Fucking Job” from the Drive-By Truckers at Stereogum. The new album is due March 16.

Rick Rubin produced the new Johnny Cash album “American VI: Ain’t No Grave”, and that record is out later this month, slated for February 23. The set includes one Cash original (“First Corinthians”) and a version of Sheryl Crow’s “Redemption Day”, among the tracks.

Merle Haggard has a new deal with independent label Vanguard Records (where Levon Helm is signed) – and will release “I Am What I Am” on April 20. He’s currently touring with Kris Kristofferson, whose latest album (“Closer to the Bone”) is magnificent – he has finally grown into that idiosyncratic voice of his, and the words and music match up to produce of the best albums from late last year.

PERFORMANCE NEWS
Elvis Costello will tour the U.S. this spring in a variety of configurations. Costello will be playing solo on some shows, plus some with his band The Imposters, and others with The Sugarcanes, the musicians who joined him on his 2009 album “Secret, Profane & Sugarcane”. Costello will also perform solo with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the end of May.

Here’s one of those Texas festivals that sound like a whole lotta fun: The line-up for Cross Canadian Ragweed’s 4th Annual Red Dirt Roundup has been announced. The festival will be held on two stages at the Historic Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas on Sunday, Sept. 6. The bands include Ragweed, Charlie Robison, Robert Earl Keen, Johnny Cooper and The Wallflowers.

THE WILLIE WATCH
Willie Nelson will turn to T Bone Burnett, for Nelson’s new album called “Country Music”. It features old-time banjo master Riley Baugus, double bassist Dennis Crouch, and T Bone himself, all musicians featured on “Raising Sand” the 2009 Grammy award-winning Album of the Year by Plant and Krauss. The album will be released on April 13th. And in what has seemingly become an annual tradition, members of Willie Nelson’s band and crew were cited recently for misdemeanor possession offenses after of marijuana somehow came blowing out of the tour bus. Six members were busted in Duplin County, NC for possession of marijuana and three-fourths of a quart of moonshine.

FINALLY…
If you don’t know anything else about my quirky ideas on music, understand that I think Cheap Trick, over the past 30 years, has somehow influenced every rock and roll band worth a shit. So I’ll end by passing along word that Cheap Trick will be performing dates with Squeeze during summer 2010 and taped a PBS Soundstage that will air some time in June or July 2010.

Here’s a bit of the Tricksters…

Review – Cheap Trick – “Music For Hangovers”

Mini Spin
Music For Hangovers
Cheap Trick (Live)
By Rob Nichols
 
For a band that hit the big time with a sonically inferior live album recorded in Japan under adverse circumstances, the new live CD from Cheap Trick Music For Hangovers is a chance at a little redemption.
 
Taken from a four-night stand at the Metro in Chicago last spring, the band has put together not so much a greatest hits package but rather set of songs that remind us why Cheap Trick is so valuable.
 
On each of the four nights, the band would tackle one of their first four albums in it’s entirety, then play some more off other albums during encores.  The first night, the band performed the entire Budokan album, followed on successive nights by performances of 1977’s Cheap Trick and In Color from the same year, and concluded the stand with a performance of Heaven Tonight, originally released in 1978.
 
Only four songs on the new live CD cold be considered hits, with performances of “Surrender”, “I Want You To Want Me”, “If You Want My Love” and “Dream Police”
 
While “Surrender” sounds great, the reason for this album to exist is to help us remember how a band should age.  Cheap Trick revisits a bunch of songs 20 years old and reinvests themselves into the music, with a not so surprising rock and roll punch. They treat listeners to an album of guitar rock and roll.
 
Robin Zander’s sounds like only Robin Zander can sound, which is like a he’s been preserved in a 1978 time capsule, while drummer Bun E. Carlos is terrific. Guitarist and main songwriter Rick Nielson wrote some great pop songs and his playing sometimes get lost behind his image.  Not here.
 
They sound good.  They look good.  We find some songs we used to know.  It’s a nice package.