Roots-Rock Music News: Truth & Salvage Co., Levon Helm, Legendary Shack Shakers

Tim Jones, the voice and guitar from Bloomington’s near-legends Old Pike, has spent 10 years banging around the LA music scene, and he’ll resurface in a big way with a new band that has the chops and sound to break out. In California since 2001, he’s now part a band called Truth & Salvage Co. They’ll release a debut album May 25, produced by the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson (the bands are on the same label – Silver Arrow Records).

Truth & Salvage Co., featuring guys from Georgia, Ohio, Indiana and New Orleans, sounds like – well, a lot like Old Pike. Rough-and-ready vocals, sweet harmonies, a great space-filling Hammond B3 sound tumbling around inside a band cranking out American rock and roll. Does that interest you? It should. You can hear three cuts from the album here

They’ve landed a slot opening for the red-hot Avett Brothers tour all through April, and play their own show at Birdy’s here in Indianapolis on May 6, as part of a Midwest trek that includes St. Louis, Columbus and Chicago.

When I listen, I hear a group that sounds ready for their moment. When critics start to write about them, you’ll hear comparisons to The Band, Tom Petty, the aforementioned Avett Brothers, maybe even Old Crow Medicine Show, and inevitably, the Black Crowes, though not nearly as jam-happy or blues-based. While they pull their sound from all of those influences, it’s still midwest rock, filtered through the harmonies of California and the gospel of the American South. Worth finding the music and the noting the upcoming show. They are my new favorite band.

hear in-studio live performance at

→ The Band’s Levon Helm’s has lived a rough and glorious life: He’s survived throat cancer, bankruptcy, drug addiction and the tragic loss of band mates Richard Manuel and Rick Danko. His last two solo records (especially Electric Dirt”) have been acclaimed (rightly so) as the return of a legend. His voice is one of the most recognizable in the history of rock music. And now “Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm” will take a look at all of it, making its premiere at the SXSW Festival through March 21.
Read a great blog post about making the film from it’s director, Jacob Hatley
“It’s late and you’re sitting around Levon’s kitchen table. It has a hazy glow about it. Crew and cast have slept until at least 11 am that morning. Nothing is scheduled for the next day. Your mind is limber.

“So Levon just starts talking.

“He describes the duckbilled platypus (“the absolute baddest thing you can get a hold of”), he reenacts his favorite scene from The Wild Bunch, he talks about an old boy he once knew who rode his mule into town to go to a dance and on the way swapped his .38 for a .22 because you just can’t move around with a big .38 in your pocket. He remembers living in hotels in Canada, the simple existence when you didn’t owe anybody anything and you told the maids to just leave some towels, and you spent your days watching Peter Cushing double features and your nights playing hard driving rockabilly music.

“It’s loose but goddamn it’s vivid. And you realize you want your whole film to be nothing more than this: an A, number 1 certified hangout movie. A movie, as Howard Hawks put it, that’s no plot, just character.

“But then things do happen. Levon records his first record in twenty-five years. He loses his voice. He runs into serious financial trouble. He is told he will receive a Lifetime Achievement Grammy for The Band and he rejects it. Suddenly, events loaded with dramatic potential swarm around you. Stuff documentary filmmakers supposedly dream about. But the thing that keeps nagging at you: ‘What about the duckbilled platypus?'”

→ In other new release notes, Gothic-country punkers The Legendary Shack Shackers will release their seventh full-length album, “Agridustrial”, on April 13th on their own Colonel Knowledge label. Loud and thrashy, with a bit of a twang.

Get a free download of “Sin Eater” from the new record

→ The Court Yard Hounds (Dixie Chicks sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire) take the stage during the Americana Music Association showcase at Antone’s at SXSW next Thursday (March 18th) and will go on to do a string of intimate shows across the country. The CD, on Columbia (meaning it’s more than just a side project) is out May 4.

listen to four cuts here. Very Sheryl Crow-like…