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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

Dylan and Mellencamp Announce Tour, plus Old Crow, WhoaTiger! and Drive-By Truckers

»New Old Crow Medicine Show video for “Caroline” from the Tennessee Pusher album
watch it here

»Chuck Mead, the co-founder of the former band BR549 will release a new album, Journeyman’s Wager, on May 12.

»The New Bluegrass: Five Acts to Watch: From
Legends Del McCoury and Sam Bush weigh in on Old Crow, Avett Brothers, O’Death and more
read story here

»The folks over at have a post about Whoa!Tiger. Guitar-driven pop/rock/blues. They have some dates at Locals Only on the calendar. Worth a listen.
read article here
Listen to music here

DBTLive at Paste – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
The former Drive-By Trucker doing an acoustic performance of “The Blue” live in the Paste Magazine studio. The cut is from their self-titled sophomore release that came out in February.
watch video here

»Drive-By Truckers leader Patterson Hood will release his second solo album, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs), on June 23.

The most accessible (though derivative) thing that Pricnce has done in a long time is his new “Crimson Clover” (his variation of the title) on one of his new albums released this spring. He melds Tommy James and the Shondells with The Troggs to create a nicely done cover hybrid. And he appeared on Ellen (!) to play it. So let’s go to the video. (For the record, I like this version…)

I’M DIGGIN…Pandora Radio on the web
Pretty simple. Create your own music mix by entering artists and titles, and they make a streaming “radio station” for you. It’s on now as I am writing. Rob’s Roots Rock Radio. It’s quite good, I must say. When I created it, I believe I entered The Bottle Rockets, Bruce Springsteen and The Del Fuegos as core artists and everything was based on similar artists and styles. Since then, I’ve added J. Geils Band, John Eddie, Dan Baird, WIll Hoge, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Chuck Berry, Bob Seger and the Bodeans.

It is streamed at 128kbp, so the sound is about like FM. I like it better than, a similar site. Listening just now, it moved into a classic rocker bender and I heard cut from the J. Geils’ mediocre Love Stinks album, “The Joker” from Steve Miller, a live “Running on Empty” from Jackson Browne and CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” with a gorgeous Hammond B’3 coming through that I hadn’t always heard. But then went more alt-country Bottle Rockets, Uncle Tupelo and then served up a band called Prisonshake.

You can’t rewind. Catch them as they fly by. Fast forward to the next tune if you want. No commercials. Try it if you haven’t. And if they woud just make it possible to upload your own audio pieces and really start to allow users to make it their own, then it would earn my coveted “Best Thing Ever” stamp of approval. It is just shy of that designation now .
hear Rob’s Roots Radio

Called “An uncanny tribute to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, featuring Matt Ryan and American Dream” on their website, the band comes to the Bluebird in Bloomington May 13th and the Vogue in Indy on May 14th. I can’t ever remember a Springsteen tribute band coming through here. I have watched their video online. I think it could be fun for Bruce fans. A band playing a couple hours of Springsteen is OK with me anytime.
watch preview video

Robert Zimmerman»Lengthy and excellent Bob Dylan interview online. He talks about his favorite songwriters, and namechecks John Prine, Jimmy Buffett(!) and more. Check out the dates below…he will play in South Bend and Louisville, if you arew looking for the nearest shows.
read article here
Bob Dylan’s Ballpark Tour Dates:
Bob Dylan has just announced  a new lineup for this year’s summer concert tour. Along with Willie Nelson, this summer, The Bob Dylan Show will also feature John Mellencamp, marking just the second time in the past 24 years that these three performers have shared the concert stage.
Mellencamp: “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.”
7/2, Sauget, IL (GCS Ballpark)
7/4, South Bend, IN (Coveleski Stadium)
7/8, Louisville, KY (Louisville Slugger Field)
7/10, Dayton, OH (Fifth Third Field)
7/11, Eastlake, OH (Classic Park)
7/13, Washington, PA (Consol Energy Park)
7/14, Allentown, PA (Coca-Cola Park)
7/15, New Britain, CT (New Britain Stadium)
7/19, Syracuse, NY (Alliance Bank Stadium)
7/21, Pawtucket, RI (McCoy Stadium)
7/23, Lakewood, NJ (FirstEnergy Park)
7/24, Aberdeen, MD (Ripken Stadium)
7/25, Norfolk, VA (Harbor Park)
7/28, Durham, NC (Durham Bulls Athletic Park)
7/29, Sevierville, TN (Smokies Park)
8/4, Round Rock, TX (The Dell Diamond)
8/5, Corpus Christi, TX (Whataburger Field)
8/7, Grand Prairie, TX (QuikTrip Park)
8/11, Glendale, AZ (Camelback Ranch)
8/12, Las Vegas, NV (Cashman Field)
8/14, Fresno, CA (Chukchansi Park)
8/15, Stockton, CA (Banner Island Ballpark)