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steve earle Content tagged as steve earle.

John Mellencamp: Freedom's Road (Universal)

John Mellencamp: Freedom's Road (Universal)

If this guy hadn't been such a dickhead when he was John Cougar in the early 80s, or so arrogant when he became John Cougar Mellencamp we'd probably be falling all over him now as one of the authentic voices of Americana/alt.country rock. He reinvented himself as a man with a conscience and in touch with the spirit of small towns in the...

The Greencards: Viridian (Dualtone)

The Greencards: Viridian (Dualtone)

Canny name for a band of two Australians and an Englishman who formed in Austin in 2003 to play high-energy fiddle-driven bluegrass and alt.country. The following year these imports were named Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards, they subsequently opened for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, and last year they were nominated in the best new...

Steve Earle: Washington Square Serenade (NewWest/Elite)

Steve Earle: Washington Square Serenade (NewWest/Elite)

A decade after Bob Dylan washed up in Greenwich Village, Steve Earle left his home in Texas and started on the same journey -- inspired, he admits, by the cover photo on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan which showed the skinny Bob and his girlfriend Suze huddling on a wind-whipped street. Earle (see tag for interviews, album reviews) never made it...

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

If anyone has won the right to sings songs of life on hard scrabble farms it is Levon Helm, the former drummer/singer/mandolin player in the Band who grew up on a cotton farm near a town called Turkey Scratch in Arkansas. His group -- called for a time Levon and the Hawks -- backed Ronnie Hawkins, linked up with Bob Dylan and became simply...

The Felice Brothers; Tonight at the Arizona (Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

The Felice Brothers; Tonight at the Arizona (Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Although perhaps too referencing of Dylan and the Band holed up in the basement of the Big Pink, that doesn't mean this shakily delivered collection of Americana from these three brothers and a bassist isn't without considerable charm and lowkey impact. And nope, there is no problem with your stereo during Hey Hey Revolver, that drop-out is...

The SteelDrivers, The SteelDrivers (Rounder)

The SteelDrivers, The SteelDrivers (Rounder)

Some people have (understandably) said to me they didn't quite get this immediately -- and to be honest nor did I. Bluegrass isn't my thing: I find the vocals often nasal and whining, the scraping fiddle gets on my wick after a while, and the songs are either flat-tack upbeat or downright morose. Which makes it a real surprise to me that I...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (New West/Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (New West/Elite)

The Truckers inspire passionate loyalty for their Southern-framed country rock'n'roll and literate, sometimes provocative, lyrics. They often make you want to crack the top off a beer and kick back, but the words touch some deep and dark places as well. Here they open with a weary song about a guy at the gates of Heaven ("two...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James McMurtry: Just Us Kids (Lightning Rod/Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James McMurtry: Just Us Kids (Lightning Rod/Elite)

The murky photo of a small, barroom audience on the inner sleeve of this brittle and typically dark album by singer-poet McMurtry might have included me. It looks like it was taken in the Continental Club in Austin where I caught him and his band the Heartless Bastards a couple of years ago playing their regular gig. Since his remarkable...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008:  Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway)

You'd think with strip malls, fast food franchises, saturation low-cost reality television and the widespread levelling out of mainstream culture that guys like Carll would have been ironed out of American life But he's one of those crinkles in the texture, an alt.country-cum-trad.country guy who is a little early Steve Earle and Joe Ely,...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Rattlin' Bones (Liberation)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Rattlin' Bones (Liberation)

Chambers -- daughter of the very great singer-songwriter Bill -- is one of Australia's finest alt.country/roots artists and here she teams up with her husband Nicholson for their first album together. Oddly enough although they play together in their casual side-project The Lost Dogs covers band they hadn't previously written together -- yet...

John Hiatt: Same Old Man (Elite)

John Hiatt: Same Old Man (Elite)

It has been two decades since John Hiatt hit a high profile with the albums Bring the Family and Slow Turning. But despite some fine albums since (and a few duffers) he seems to be missed by the spotlight and has now become one of those rock-country journeymen who is more respected than actually listened to.His Crossing Muddy Waters at the start...

Malcolm Holcombe: Gamblin' House (Borders)

Malcolm Holcombe: Gamblin' House (Borders)

Your first response to this gruff-voiced, whisky-stained singer-songwriter may be, "how come I haven't heard of him sooner?"Well, diligent Elsewhere listeners may well have: he appeared on the massive and ambitious Songs of America triple set which appeared here some months back. He sang The Old Woman Taught Wisdom, a song which dates...

Jakob Dylan: Seeing Things (Sony/BMG)

Jakob Dylan: Seeing Things (Sony/BMG)

This son of Bob will be 40 next year and has a substantial career behind him with the Wallflowers (five albums) plus some high-profile guest spots. But with this debut under his own name you have to ask, "Aren't you a bit young for this?"That's because the album is a stripped-back (mostly) solo affair produced by Rick Rubin who is...

Pete Molinari: A Virtual Landscape (Shock)

Pete Molinari: A Virtual Landscape (Shock)

English singer-songwriter Molinari's debut Walking off the Map was a beguiling, blatantly Dylanesque affair which found great favour at Elsewhere -- but this time out he's like a pub quiz: which song am I referencing now?Usually it's Dylan but he lifts shamelessly from Sam Cooke, Hank Williams, the Stones' in 65, young Donovan . . . And you...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Lucinda Williams: Little Honey (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Lucinda Williams: Little Honey (Universal)

After her last, quite exceptional but largely melancholy album West (in part influenced by death in the family) it is almost as if Williams is here staking her claim again to some sassy rock'n'roll threads. The opener Real Love blazes off the disc and the closer is a cover of AC/DC's It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock'n'Roll)...

WATERMELON SLIM INTERVIEWED (2007): He's had interesting lives

WATERMELON SLIM INTERVIEWED (2007): He's had interesting lives

“You tell them this,” says 58-year old bluesman Watermelon Slim in a voice which sounds like he has been gargling whisky-soaked nails. “God has blessed me with an extremely full and interesting life. It’s not all been fun or positive and I’m not proud of everything I’ve done. But I’ve been blessed to get...

Alison Moorer: Mockingbird (New Line)

Alison Moorer: Mockingbird (New Line)

Moorer has quite some story: she is the younger sister of Shelby Lynne, was 14 at time of the murder-suicide of her parents, her ballad A Soft Place to Fall appeared in The Horse Whisperer and earned her a Grammy nomination, and she is the seventh Mrs Steve Earle (although to be fair to Steve he married Lou-Anne Gill twice) with whom she...

The Mother Truckers: Let's All Go to Bed (Shock)

The Mother Truckers: Let's All Go to Bed (Shock)

This tough Texas country-rock outfit with twangin' guitars, a stupid name and a photo of Led Zepp behind their amps is here because there is a huge pub audience for this kind of Southern barroom rock'n'roll which shaves off a bit of Lynyrd/Black Crowes/The Faces etc and arc welds it to a post-punk version of Stevie Ray Vaughan/Tail Gators etc....

Woody Guthrie: Original Folk, The Best of Woody Guthrie (Music Club)

Woody Guthrie: Original Folk, The Best of Woody Guthrie (Music Club)

Judging by the roar of approval when Steve Earle paid tribute to Pete Seeger at his Auckland concert, and the rediscovery of the earthy wisdom and political position of Woody Guthrie by another generation, this double CD of 50 songs (with minimal liner essay) is welcome. Disappointingly it is the abridged version of The Land is Your Land...

John Prine: The Missing Years (1991)

John Prine: The Missing Years (1991)

Around the time in the early 90s when he went from cult figure to frontline, American singer-songwriter John Prine got a nice kiss-off line to his entry in the Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music: “His live solo act is spellbinding,” the final sentence of his brief career synopsis stated baldly. Well, he’d had plenty of...

BILL CHAMBERS INTERVIEWED (2003): Call of the big country

BILL CHAMBERS INTERVIEWED (2003): Call of the big country

When Bill Chambers tells it, with a smile at the corner of his lips and in his leisurely Australian drawl, it sounds the most natural thing in the world. But it's kind of strange. He's talking about the mid-70s and what he was doing then, having grown up on country music and playing in bands. "I was a bit of a cowboy hippie, long...

Various: Troubadours Vol 1 (Exile)

Various: Troubadours Vol 1 (Exile)

My guess is that you'd have to look long and hard (possibly through secondhand bins) to find albums by Glen Moffatt, Al Hunter and Red McKelvie who, from the late Eighties to the mid-Nineties carried the flag for contemporary New Zealand country music. They didn't owe a lot to Nashville other than the sense of a song but were too straight to...

Steve Earle: Townes (New West)

Steve Earle: Townes (New West)

The legend of Townes Van Zandt (who died age 52 on New Year's Day 1997) continues to grow and the somewhat messy details of life -- depression, alcoholism, drugs -- have faded steadily to allow a greater clarity in which his dark but often beautiful work can shine. Down the decades he has been covered frequently by the...

Willie Nelson: Lost Highway (Lost Highway)

Willie Nelson: Lost Highway (Lost Highway)

Another month, another Willie album, huh? This 17 track collection of songs from his period on the Lost Highway label (and some unreleased material) comes hard on the heels of his American Classic album (a sequel of sorts to his excellent Stardust of many years ago, Willie on standards) and prior to that there was the natural pairing with...

Matt Joe Gow and the Dead Leaves: The Messenger (Essence)

Matt Joe Gow and the Dead Leaves: The Messenger (Essence)

I especially like this line in Matt Joe Gow's bio: "Like most New Zealanders with any imagination, Matt soon found himself compelled to stray beyond the boundaries of his wonderful counmtry . . ."Kind of a back-handed compliment there from an Australian, I guess. Still, no artist should ever be held to their bio and this one was...

Richmond Fontaine: The Fitzgerald (Southbound)

Richmond Fontaine: The Fitzgerald (Southbound)

Richmond Fontaine come with big advance notices: the indie Americana band from Portland broke big with their rowdy Post to Wire album two years ago, which drew favourable comparisons with the Replacements, but for their follow-up, The Fitzgerald, they have turned the volume way down. Written by guitarist Willy Vlautin while living at...

Richmond Fontaine: "We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like A River" (Southbound)

Richmond Fontaine: "We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like A River" (Southbound)

This exceptional, and exceptionally consistent, group out of Portland with songwriter and novelist Willy Vlautin at its core has appeared at Elsewhere previously. Way back in 2005 with the penetrating album The Fitzgerald, and later for Vlautin's stark novel The Motel Life which invites favourable comparisons with writers such as Larry...

The War on Drugs: Wagonwheel Blues (Longtime Listener)

The War on Drugs: Wagonwheel Blues (Longtime Listener)

Some music is purely functional: music in airports; massage music, Kiwi backyard-bbq reggae etc. This one by a US band I know nothing about is driving music -- annoying inner city stop-start or highway freedom -- and comes off in places like amphetamine-fuelled and wordy Dylan '65 (or more correctly, Butch Hancock when he was doing that...

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Roadhouse Sun (Lost Highway)

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Roadhouse Sun (Lost Highway)

American singer-songwriter Bingham's voice was so lived in and road-hardened on his debut Mescalito (a Best of Elsewhere 2008 album) that he sounded like a man far beyond his mid-20s. He seemed to have literally lived the rough roadhouse life and whisky bars that others could only suggest they had. You didn't doubt his stories of...

Kieran Kane: Somewhere Beyond the Roses (Shock)

Kieran Kane: Somewhere Beyond the Roses (Shock)

If nothing else, and there is a lot of "else" here, the instrumentation on this new album by the Nashville singer-songwriter Kane would be pretty arresting: drums, electric guitar, banjo and baritone sax, the latter from Deanna Varragona who has played with Lambcop. It makes for a sound which can be sprightly (the banjo) but also...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Black Crowes: Before the Frost . . . Until the Freeze (Silver Arrow)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Black Crowes: Before the Frost . . . Until the Freeze (Silver Arrow)

After calling it quits in 2002, frontman Chris Robinson going solo, then their resurrection with Warpaint last year (which brought in guitarist Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars), the Black Crowes rarely sounded so on top of their game. And they followed Warpaint with a double punch Warpaint Live (the album played live and...

Chris Prowse: Trouble on the Waterfront (Proco)

Chris Prowse: Trouble on the Waterfront (Proco)

The 1951 waterfront strike in Auckland (which lasted for five months but had repercussions for years, even decades, after) was one of the most significant flashpoints and dividing lines in New Zealand history, certainly as much as the Springbok tour three decades later. The strike, lock-out, state of emergency, troops and farmers coming to...

Warren Cate: The Reparation Tapes (Warcat)

Warren Cate: The Reparation Tapes (Warcat)

Cate is what we might call an "occasional" rock'n'roll singer-songwriter: this is only his fourth album in about 14 years. He has a day job. I recognise on his website some highly favourable comments (uncredited) from me down the years, and his music has always found a place on my Sunday afternoon Kiwi FM show. This album will...

Rosanne Cash: The List (EMI)

Rosanne Cash: The List (EMI)

Of all the songs Johnny Cash recorded in his final years the most moving was September When It Comes on his daughter Rosanne‘s album Rules of Travel: “I cannot move a mountain now,” he croaked. It  brought tears to the eye. Rosanne Cash has had an erratic career: her first albums were excellent then things went wobbly;...

Bill Chambers: Drifting South (Whitewater)

Bill Chambers: Drifting South (Whitewater)

Bill Chambers -- quite apart from being the father of singer-songwriter Kasey and producer Nash -- is one of Australia's great singer-songwriters whose work just seems to be getting deeper and more resonant. He is suitably road-grizzled these days and his work (just a reference point) sits somewhere between Paul Kelly, Kris Kristofferson and...

Tom Russell: Blood and Candle Smoke (Proper/Southbound)

Tom Russell: Blood and Candle Smoke (Proper/Southbound)

Tom Russell is a cinematic singer-songwriter whose storytelling is compelling, and whose whisky’n’grit vocals can take you to the heart of Tex-Mex territory. The poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti said he was “Johnny Cash, [poet and novelist] Jim Harrison and [barfly writer] Charles Bukowski rolled into one“. Born and...

VINYL HAYRIDE; COUNTRY MUSIC ALBUM COVERS 1947-89 by PAUL KINGSBURY

VINYL HAYRIDE; COUNTRY MUSIC ALBUM COVERS 1947-89 by PAUL KINGSBURY

The purest strain of American country music -- not the pop-schlock of Shania Twain or the credible singer-songwriters out of Texas -- bewilders most people. It can be cornball, sentimental, blindly patriotic, hypocritically conservative, and often just plain strange. It is also, to cite Nick Tosche's excellent studies of it, "the biggest...

Old Crow Medicine Show: Live at the Orange Peel and Tennessee Theatre (Shock DVD)

Old Crow Medicine Show: Live at the Orange Peel and Tennessee Theatre (Shock DVD)

The rocked-up country-cum-bluegrass outfit haven't ever fully convinced on CD, although the best of their previous outing Tennessee Pusher certainly explained why they are such a potent live act. This DVD of shows filmed in Asheville, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee capture them touring that album but generously throwing in some real...

Bap Kennedy: Howl On (Lonely Street Discs)

Bap Kennedy: Howl On (Lonely Street Discs)

After time in the Irish band Energy Orchard, Kennedy spent many years in the America he was obsessed with as a child. For this moving tribute to the America of his dreams -- and specifically the days of the Apollo Mission to the moon and Woodstock -- he gives concept albums a good name. Now back in Belfast after his Nashville period, he...

Guy Clark: Somedays the Song Writes You (Dualtone)

Guy Clark: Somedays the Song Writes You (Dualtone)

Now in his late 60s -- he turned 68 in November -- this great Texas singer-songwriter is sounding very weak'n'weary in these 10 co-writes and his cover of Townes Van Zandt's If I Needed You. And that is its very strength. Clark brings a melancholy reflectiveness or quiet gravitas to these lyrics and whether it be considering the mysteries...

LARRY HENLEY INTERVIEWED (1993): The world beneath his wings

LARRY HENLEY INTERVIEWED (1993): The world beneath his wings

On this slightly hung-over weekday morning Larry Henley doesn’t look the kind of man whose words have touched a generation. He speaks with a quiet, modest and slow-drag Texas accent and seems too self-effacing for someone whose song lyrics have been recited at funerals and marriages, during intimate moments by way of love or apology,...

Baskery: Fall Among Thieves (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Baskery: Fall Among Thieves (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Recently I flipped on yet another faux-country alt.folk album and listened to university educated people pretending they were Appalachian mountain dwellers imbued with a rural spirit and old time religion. I thought, "Spare me much more of this!" And then comes this album to reinvigorate my interest in a mighty crowded genre -- and...

Warren Zevon, The Wind

Warren Zevon, The Wind

The late Warren Zevon was a self-destructive guy - throwing himself down stairs while in the grip of the demon drink was one of his things - but this Jekyll and Hyde of sunny California in the 80s, who wrote the lovely Hasten Down the Wind, could also pen, "He took little Susie to the Junior Prom, and he raped her and killed her, then he...

Helen Henderson: Twisting Wind (Ranui)

Helen Henderson: Twisting Wind (Ranui)

Tough and often earthy blues rock/alt.country from a New Zealand-born LA raised singer-songwriter who here calls up some big names (guitarist Doug Pettibone, Spooner Oldham on keyboards) whose credentials (Dylan, Ronstadt, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams) adds lustre to what is a fine collection of self-produced, mostly original co-writes (with...

Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed (Epitaph)

Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed (Epitaph)

One part youthful Billy Bragg and another of very early Springsteen (the Asbury Park period) and a Pogues-styled energy propels this manic, politicised, wordy outing by this English post-punk folk poet who does a terrific line in taking down myths: "There's no such things as rock stars there's just people who play music, and some of them...

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

Very belated acknowledgement of an album that was recorded in 2007, came out Stateside in 2008 (to little fanfare) but to the best of my knowledge only appeared in New Zealand in late 2009. This dark, edgy country-rock (and beyond) band with a revolving door membership -- who perhaps take their name from the Doors song of the same title? --...

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

Although his previous album This Old Road won some critical plaudits, it is hard to hear Closer to the Bone as much other than a collection of sentimental songs, some of which border on the trite. Kristofferson, especially in recent years, has never been much of a singer (he concedes that) but here his voice really has lost most of its...

Lyle Lovett: Natural Forces (Curb)

Lyle Lovett: Natural Forces (Curb)

With this fine country/alt.country singer-songwriter due to play in New Zealand soon, with Kasey Chambers (date and details here) and knowing his albums rarely go reviewed, it is timely to consider his most recent release which came out in the pre-Christmas slew of hits and compilations. Lovett has never been an easy one to pigeon-hole:...

Various artists: Crazy Heart soundtrack (New West)

Various artists: Crazy Heart soundtrack (New West)

This soundtrack album is from the excellent movie which has been picking up Jeff Bridges acclaim and awards, as it should. He does a terrific job as an aging country singer whose career has been derailed by booze and drugs and itinerancy. And who looks for all the world like Kris Kristofferson might have if he hadn't pulled himself up a notch or...

Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

Just from the repeated electric strum here, Waylon Jennings was announcing a different kind of country music: and its minimal sound threw even greater attention on his lyrics which questioned the whole country music establishment as epitomised by the smooth Nashville Sound, the Grand Ole Opry and the Music Row writers cranking out generic songs....

Johnny Cash: Cash, American VI; Ain't No Grave (American)

Johnny Cash: Cash, American VI; Ain't No Grave (American)

In recent years I have been lecturing in contemporary music (rock'n'roll to hip-hop) and it has been an insight for me. After showing clips of a young and wild Elvis for example some students will come to me afterwards and express surprise: they only knew him from parodies as that boring fat guy. History is reductive: it's necessary to remind...

Various Artists: Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown (For the Sake of the Song)

Various Artists: Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown (For the Sake of the Song)

The late Van Zandt is hardly the little-known cult artist he once was: there are many tribute albums (Steve Earle most recently) and his estate must coin it in from all the covers alt.country artists do. Most of Van Zandt’s originals were spare, lowkey and acoustic -- so the surprise here is what an embellishing or reconfiguring...

Fionn Regan: The Shadow of an Empire (Inertia/Border)

Fionn Regan: The Shadow of an Empire (Inertia/Border)

On the cover he may look like one of the more camp American Idol finalists, but Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan occupies that appealing musical territory between Dylan in '66, Pete Molinari and lo-fi Chris Knox with his urgent, lyrically twisting songs which are punctuated by ear and heart-gripping lines. Catacombs here suggests a story...

The Eastern: Arrows (Social End Product/Rhythmethod)

The Eastern: Arrows (Social End Product/Rhythmethod)

The Eastern out of Christchurch are new to me although for the past few months their name has been mentioned a lot, always along the lines of, "Oh, you gotta hear the Eastern." Now I have and I too am saying, "Oh, you gotta hear the Eastern". Part arse-kickin' Steve Earle (for whom they have opened), part reflective old...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bruce Springsteen; Nebraska/The Ghost of Tom Joad

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bruce Springsteen; Nebraska/The Ghost of Tom Joad

Elsewhere has already made the case for Bruce Springsteen's 1982 Nebraska as an Essential Elsewhere album. It was not only a great album but a turning point in his career: it allowed him to step away from the bombast and hype and become a singer of depth and longevity outside of rock's over-hyped expectation. That he followed it up with Born...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Warren Zevon; The Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Warren Zevon; The Original Album Series (Rhino)

Singer songwriter Warren Zevon (1947- 2003) was a different one alright. When he emerged in LA in the mid Seventies he was like the anti-Jackson Browne: he was the anthesis of those mellow singer-songwriters from Laurel Canyon. His sardonic wit and sometimes weird songs caught the ears and the imaginations of critics and fellow artists, although...

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Shock)

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Shock)

It's instructive but perhaps unfair to put this album from the former member of Drive By Truckers alongside their most recent album, The Big To-Do: after a flawed solo debut Sirens of the Ditch in 07 Isbell here sounds in command again, whereas the Truckers album is pretty ropey in places. Here Isbell and his band (on an album that came...

FRANK TURNER: AUDIO INTERVIEW (2010): The documentarian of politics and the soul

FRANK TURNER: AUDIO INTERVIEW (2010): The documentarian of politics and the soul

British singer-songwriter Frank Turner moves between many worlds with ease: he plays to hardcore audiences (and started his career in such bands) but also works the folk circuit. He also plays huge festivals and small clubs. His music roams across politics (Thatcher Fucked the Kids), wry humour (I Don't Care What You Did in Your Gap Year)...

CHRIS WHITLEY INTERVIEWED (1991): The Law man living with the lore

CHRIS WHITLEY INTERVIEWED (1991): The Law man living with the lore

Sometimes you can just get too much too soon - and the wrong kind of attention. Take American singer Chris Whitley, whose debut album Living with the Law has been picking up praise by the bucketload. Sure it’s a great album; Rolling Stone called it “riveting and original” before acclaiming Whitley as “a visionary...

Greg Trooper: The Williamsburg Affair (52 Shakes)

Greg Trooper: The Williamsburg Affair (52 Shakes)

According to his website, country-rocker Trooper recorded these songs with his touring band 15 years ago in a Brooklyn studio in just four days, then he moved back to Nashville and the tapes were left to languish. Now mixed and mastered these 11 songs (10 originals and a strong treatment of Neil Young's Wrecking Ball) appear for the first...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

Willie Nelson makes so many albums these days – from Western Swing with Asleep at the Wheel and Tex-Mex to jazz stylings with Wynton Marsalis – that it's helpful this title is a product description. So here's Willie – now 77 – going back to songs by Ernest Tubb, Doc Watson, Hank Williams and others, as well...

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

New Zealand has no great popular history of topical, political songs -- and the few that there are tend toward the humorous (My Old Man's An All Black with its reference to no Maori being allowed into South Africa in our representative rugby team during the apartheid era, or Click Go The Toll Gates about tolls on the newly constructed Auckland...

JOAN BAEZ; HOW SWEET THE SOUND a documentary by MARY WHARTON (2009)

JOAN BAEZ; HOW SWEET THE SOUND a documentary by MARY WHARTON (2009)

Time to flip all the cards and say that until recently I was never as smitten with Joan Baez as so many people were. Certainly the purity of her voice was striking and when I started discovering Dylan in his early days she seemed to be that dark angel hovering in the wings -- but none of her folk music really stuck with me. I never much...

Bob Dylan: Who Killed Davey Moore? (1963)

Bob Dylan: Who Killed Davey Moore? (1963)

Bob Dylan's Hurricane in '75 is one of the best known songs about a boxer -- but very early in his career Dylan also sang another about a boxer, the fighter Davey Moore who was knocked out by Mexico-based Sugar Ramos from Cuba during a bout in March 1963. Moore spoke to the media afterwards (the illustration is taken from a famous post-fight...

TOWNES VAN ZANDT INTERVIEWED (1988): Say hello and wave goodbye

TOWNES VAN ZANDT INTERVIEWED (1988): Say hello and wave goodbye

You hate to say lt, but Townes Van Zandt had probably already written his own obituary - many times. Try this as a sample of his cut-to-the-bone, white knuckle lyrics: “There ain’t much I haven’t tried -- fast llvin’, slow suicide, I try to tell myself I’m fine but it just aln’t so.” Van Zandt has...

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN LIVE IN SYDNEY (2003): Normal transmission will be resumed shortly

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN LIVE IN SYDNEY (2003): Normal transmission will be resumed shortly

Bruce Springsteen won't forget his show at Sydney's Cricket Ground last Saturday. He said so repeatedly and meant it. Losing power in a show can never be discounted as a possibility. But losing it twice would suggest alarmingly bad luck or poor technical support. Losing your stadium rock thump four times in the first hour, however?...

Kris Kristofferson: Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Light in the Attic/Rhythmethod)

Kris Kristofferson: Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Light in the Attic/Rhythmethod)

Elsewhere agrees with itself that Willie Nelson makes too many albums these days (although the last one Country Music was excellent). But the collection to return to repeatedly is Classic and Unreleased, a '95 Rhino box set of Willie's early years. In it you can hear the gifted songwriter that everyone recognised, and the utterly personal...

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

As in rock‘n‘roll, country music has its casualties, like Hank Williams who died at age 29 in the back of his chauffeur-driven Cadillac on the way to a gig. Others make a longer crawl to the bottom through years of drink, dope, one-night stands in cheap bars where they stagger through versions of their hits with a local...

GUY CLARK INTERVIEWED (1989): Close to the chest and heart

GUY CLARK INTERVIEWED (1989): Close to the chest and heart

In a way it almost doesn’t matter if you don’t know who Guy Clark is -- Bono and the rest of U2 do. Not only do they attend his concerts (and a month ago, when Clark was in Dublin for a television show, they dropped by there too), but the Irish stadium rockers have signed this quiet singer/songwriter from Nashville to a...

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

There has been quite a tradition in country music of complaining about how it has lost its roots, lost its way, been taken over by big business and stars selling out for the almighty dollar. Way back Waylon asked Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way? and ol' Hank Williams (something of a rebel himself, remember) seems to be the touchstone for...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

The name "Ryan Bingham" has been getting a lot of eartime recently -- it was the name of George Clooney's character in the movie Up in the Air. But more importantly in the real world it belongs to one of the most interesting Americana singer-songwriters of the past deacde -- the man who picked up an Oscar for his song The Weary...

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AT 60: Still running through America

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AT 60: Still running through America

Sometimes we forget just how huge Bruce Springsteen has been: between '75 and '85 alone he sold in excess of 50 million albums (one of them, The River, was a double) and although he deliberately turned from mainstream success with low-key albums like Nebraska (in '82) and The Ghost of Tom Joad ('95) that has hardly stopped his juggernaut....

John Prine: In Person and On Stage (Oh Boy)

John Prine: In Person and On Stage (Oh Boy)

The great John Prine falls somewhere between folk and country, but also has a rare downbeat sense of humour and his wry observations have always elevated his albums. Here on a collection of live tracks -- essentially a greatest hits by a man who has rarely had a hit -- he has some grin-inducing anecdotes at times which are kinda...

Lee Clayton: Industry (live, 1989)

Lee Clayton: Industry (live, 1989)

Rocking country singer Lee Clayton out of Alabama and Tennessee almost made the big time at the end of the Seventies with two exceptional albums, Border Affair and Naked Child. In some ways he was ahead of his time and if they had arrrived around the same time as James McMurtry, Chris Whitley and a few others a decade later he might have...

JAMES McMURTRY INTERVIEWED (1990): In from the wasteland

JAMES McMURTRY INTERVIEWED (1990): In from the wasteland

The literary landscape of the American south sets it apart from that of the rest of the country. The hard indifference of William Faulkner’s world is reflected in his lean poetic writing; the inhospitable, suspicious small towns and brooding menace stand stark in Eudora Welty’s stories, and crippling heat brings sweat and...

Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Over three previous albums this son of Steve (and named for Townes Van Zandt) has cut an increasingly confident path with originals which are nominally country-Americana but refer to alt.rock, bluegrass, honky-tonk, ragtime and Hank Williams-styled truck-stop rock. His shows here have been popular and on this album he slips in the...

BOB DYLAN'S CAREER, AN OVERVIEW (2007): Yes, do look back

BOB DYLAN'S CAREER, AN OVERVIEW (2007): Yes, do look back

At 66, Bob Dylan has been through many musical changes in the course of his career, from fresh-faced young folkie to senior statesman of his generation. He's been folk, what we now call alt.folk, folk rock, psychedelic rock, rock’n’roll, country, alt.country, troubadour, country and western . . . And he made movies, changed hats...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

“You know kids go, 'Hey, when are you gonna make a record?',” Bruce Springsteen said in March 77, “I say, 'One of these days'.” And they were difficult days for the man they call The Boss. After his breakthrough album Born to Run in '75 – which sold around 10 million globally and took him to the covers...

Barry Saunders: Far As The Eye Can See (Ode)

Barry Saunders: Far As The Eye Can See (Ode)

More than just a compilation of tracks from his various albums and radio sessions (including some from his excellent Zodiac album), this collection of songs by country-inflected singer-songwriter Saunders was a prompt for various painters and visual artists. Wellington curator Ron Epskamp of Exhibitions Gallery (here) invited 14 artists to...

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

The truth about Billy Joe Shaver is much more interesting than anything anyone might make up about the guy. Shaver has lived on the hard edge of life. Born in Corsicana in Texas in late 1941 or '39 depending on where you read it (“just a cotton-gin town, the same one Lefty Frizzell came from") and raised in Waco, he lost two...

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

Having always been a fan of Bob Seger in that classic period in the mid Seventies (especially the Stranger in Town album) it was a real pleasure to shove this disc in the car player and crank it up . . . because by halfway through the first track I was thinking this was the great and largely forgotten Bob accidentally put in a Kid Rock cover....

Andrew McKenzie: The Edge of the World (Arch Hill)

Andrew McKenzie: The Edge of the World (Arch Hill)

Andrew McKenzie is the singer-guitarist in the New Zealand band Grand Prix which has long delivered a very pointed kind of slightly snarling alt.country with a rock'n'roll heartbeat and a dark, unsettling edge. For this album under his own name McKenzie (who plays almost everything from drums and bass to harmonica and sitar) mines some of...

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

These are more good days for Lucinda Williams: happily married and comfortable, a Grammy nomination for Kiss Like Your Kiss (best song in a film or television series, it appeared in True Blood) and acclaim from her peers, critics and an increasing fan base. And she has a new album out, Blessed which was produced by Don Was, her husband...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway)

Although Lucinda Williams admits things are going well in her life (see interview here), she also adds that no one is ever permanently happy and she lives in this world with all its sadness and misery. And she has had a few encounters with those things herself, notably the estrangement of her brother after the death of their mother, and the...

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Following Cash's Personal File: Bootleg Vol I -- and of course the Dylan bootleg series, Kris Kristofferson's Austin Sessions and demoes, George Jones' Great Lost Hits and various Willie Nelson issues of early demos and sessions -- there is no shortage of material for scholars researching these artists. This Johnny Cash double disc from his...

JOHNNY CASH; THE MAN IN BLACK (Xelon/Southbound DVD)

JOHNNY CASH; THE MAN IN BLACK (Xelon/Southbound DVD)

Despite it's promising subtitle "A Documentary", this 90 minute overview of Johnny Cash's career is little more than a Reader's Digest synopsis where much is glossed over (just why was the death of his older brother so traumatic?) and important events are left hanging or unexplored. It is also scrupulously free of a single note of...

JOHNNY CASH REMEMBERED 2006: Solitary, and singular, man

JOHNNY CASH REMEMBERED 2006: Solitary, and singular, man

The last photographs of Johnny Cash told their own story: the thinning grey hair, the once tough jaw bent out of shape by years of painful dental surgery, the lines which spoke of a world-weariness. And the ineffable sadness in those dark eyes as if he was looking into the beyond where he would once again be with his wife June, who died just...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

In the late Seventies, Tom Paxton was still appearing in rock encyclopedias. It was a time when rock was still close enough to some of its folk roots (post-Dylan) for him to still be relevant. These days Paxton -- now in his early 70s and still performing -- may seem just a footnote in rock (usually mentioned in passing with regard to...

The Thomas Oliver Band: Baby, I'll Play (Rhythmethod)

The Thomas Oliver Band: Baby, I'll Play (Rhythmethod)

As with his fellow Wellingtonian Darren Watson, Thomas Oliver is a finalist in the blues category of the International Song Writing Competition to be judged in April 2011. The song is Goin' Home - which kicks off this rootsy, bluesy and alt.country-tinged album -- and the video of it released a year ago was named among the top 30...

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

In his recent collection of essays Listen to This, the New Yorker music critic Alex Ross has an interesting and provocative piece on Bob Dylan. It opens, “America is no country for old men. Pop culture is a pedophile's delight” then he ask what – in this world of manufactured teen pop – we are to do with “a...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Shane Nicholson

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Shane Nicholson

Australian singer-songwriter Shane Nicholson has delivered consistently interesting, but rather too few, albums. Each makes you want another almost immediately because of their lyrical sensiblity and sharp songwriting. Nicholson is also alongside his wife Kasey Chambers on her albums and because she is part of a fine family -- dad Bill a...

Shane Nicholson: Bad Machines (Liberation)

Shane Nicholson: Bad Machines (Liberation)

Nicholson is one of the finest of Australia's singers-songwriters with his feet in alt.country and Americana, but he's as comfortable with Dylanesque wordplay in a strange narrative (Blueberry Pie with its "monkey with the golden tooth") as he is delivering emotionally weighted acoustic ballads (Trick Knee Blues). And as always he...

The Felice Brothers: Celebration, Florida (Spunk)

The Felice Brothers: Celebration, Florida (Spunk)

While it's interesting to read in a promo slip that this new album by the so-far fascinating Felice Brothers "casts scenes of dreamy characters and stories interwoven like a block of primetime TV", this is promo-hype. It presumes you will actually be engaged enough to listen with unswerving intensity through the sonic haze of...

Drive-By Truckers: Go-Go Boots (ATO)

Drive-By Truckers: Go-Go Boots (ATO)

Despite doing well on the charts, the last album by the Truckers -- The Big To-Do -- was a disappointment: perhaps the knocked-off-quickly feel worked against it, you wouldn't attribute it directly to the loss of one of their songwriters Jason Isbell to a solo career (although many felt that). Its occasional rowdiness had undoubted appeal,...

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

The captivatingly named rock troubadour Vile from Philadelphia offers a kind of alt.folk-cum-indie rock skew which refers to Cohen as much as Cobain. But he also has an ear for a mainstream rock melody (Puppet the the Man here with AOR guitars behind his echoed alt.rock vocals) and recently said his current listening includes the Stones'...

Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (New West)

Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (New West)

Perhaps because there is already so much Steve Earle in the world -- this is his 14th studio album by my account -- there is very little frisson of delight or surprise coming from this album. Little Emperor would seem to be addressed to George W Bush ("no pomp and circumstance, no more shock and awe, you're just a little emperor that's...

TEX PERKINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Cash money and black is back

TEX PERKINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Cash money and black is back

The hotel's drawn blinds shut out the mid-morning Auckland sun, pills are scattered on a table, the remains of takeaway food are on another and there's a pervasive air of “the morning-after”. “Yeah, very Johnny Cash,” says Tex Perkins, the room's slightly disheveled occupant, in a husky and weary voice. The...

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

When this Willie Nelson song started to get a bit of attention around the time of the movie Brokeback Mountain, many people -- myself included -- assumed it had been prompted by that film. But the story of it goes back quite a way and the song's writer Ned Sublette tells it in his excellent book The Year Before the Flood about his time in...

Known Associates: Penny Love (Warcat)

Known Associates: Penny Love (Warcat)

Auckland singer/writer/guitarist Warren Cate of Known Associates has made some fine and deliberately unpolished rock albums under his own name in the past but here, with a team of equals who hunkered down for weekly sessions last year to toughen themselves up and work out material, he excels himself. Cate always possessed a slightly...

Greg Brown: Freak Flag (YepRoc)

Greg Brown: Freak Flag (YepRoc)

When you get to your 24th album you probably aren't expecting a major breakthrough in terms of having a whole new audience find you. And nothing on this fine album sounds like either a departure, or capable of taking this poet/singer beyond those who already know of him. Formerly the musical director on the famous A Prairie Home Companion...

Watermelon Slim and Super Chicken: Okiesippi Blues (NorthernBlues)

Watermelon Slim and Super Chicken: Okiesippi Blues (NorthernBlues)

In Clarksdale, Mississippi I saw a singer/guitarist who called himself Howl N Mudd, which was certainly a man covering his bases. (That story is here.) The juke joint he played in was very popular (be sure to read that piece of graffiti I quote) and recently Elsewhere reviewed a DVD of Watermelon Slim whiuch was filmed there. Slim has a...

Neil Young and the International Harvesters: A Treasure (Reprise)

Neil Young and the International Harvesters: A Treasure (Reprise)

While many of us would wish Neil Young release the next long-awaited installement of his Archives series (ho ho ho, like that'll happen any time soon), in his wilful and non-chronological release schedule it was almost expected a follow-up to the terrific and raw Le Noise would be . . . a country music album. But even so, A Treasure is a...

Joe Ely: Satisfied at Last (Rack 'Em Records/Southbound)

Joe Ely: Satisfied at Last (Rack 'Em Records/Southbound)

The very good news is that the great Joe Ely -- who has delivered a few patchy albums in the past decade -- doesn't sound at all "satisfied" as the album's title would suggest. In fact from the opener The Highway is My Home to Butch Hancock's Circumstance 40 minutes later this tight'n'tidy 10 song collection has much of the old...

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers: Starlight Hotel (Signature/Border)

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers: Starlight Hotel (Signature/Border)

Les alt. than country, Zoe Muth from Seattle invites favourable comparisons with Eilen Jewell and early Emmylou Harris, and a whole host of Nashville writers who are smart enough to still have their hearts in the honky-tonks. These are pedal steel and mandolin stories which cut out the fat and get right down to the sad and lonely bones of...

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2007): Out of the Blue

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2007): Out of the Blue

Almost 20 years ago on her self-titled album, Lucinda Williams sang Am I Too Blue, a penetratingly drained song about loneliness and self-doubt. If it hadn’t been for some flashes of jangling pop and a few light-hearted romps in the intervening years, the essence of Am I Too Blue and its honest weariness might stand as Williams’...

Jeff Bridges: Jeff Bridges (Blue Note)

Jeff Bridges: Jeff Bridges (Blue Note)

After his multiple awards-winning turn as broken down country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, and the spin-off T Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack, there should be interest in this (also produced by Burnett) where Bridges again sings persuasively on originals and material by John Goodwin, Stephen Bruton (who wrote most of the Crazy Heart...

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON INTERVIEWED (2005): Rebel with a scholarship

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON INTERVIEWED (2005): Rebel with a scholarship

Before he was 40 Kris Kristofferson -- now in his 70s -- had lived enough to fill the pages of at least a couple of wild novels. And the real craziness was still to come. In the 80s Kristofferson greeted a journalist with, “Let’s have some dope”. The interviewer reported she remained high just by breathing his exhaust. Born...

Drive-By Truckers: Ugly Buildings, Whores and Politicians; Greatest Hits 1998-2009 (New West)

Drive-By Truckers: Ugly Buildings, Whores and Politicians; Greatest Hits 1998-2009 (New West)

Those who have missed the career of Drive-By Truckers out of Athens, Georgia are advised to just dive in at their Southern Rock Opera of a decade ago (which gets four of the 16 tracks on this chronological collection), The Dirty South (three tracks here) and/or Brighter Than Creation's Dark (two). Grounded in Southern rock (Lynyrd Skynyrd)...

Jerry Jeff Walker: Jerry Jeff Walker, Expanded Edition (Raven)

Jerry Jeff Walker: Jerry Jeff Walker, Expanded Edition (Raven)

First released in 1972 and only now available on CD (here expanded with  five extra songs including a 2002 version of his classic Mr Bojangles), this album was one which introduced Texan Walker as part of the left-field non-Nashville country acts of the day alongside Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Waylon Jennings. In...

Tom Russell: Mesabi (Proper)

Tom Russell: Mesabi (Proper)

Although American singer-songwriter Tom Russell's name isn't as widely known as that of Joe Ely, Townes Van Zandt and others, his songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Peter Case, Iris DeMent and many more, and his story-telling tied to a backbeat has consistently drawn praise from critics and peers. Jerry Jeff Walker, poet Lawrence...

Guy Clark: Songs and Stories (Dualtone)

Guy Clark: Songs and Stories (Dualtone)

Although the smart money would have been against his longevity, here is the road-worn troubadour Guy Clark -- 70 in November 2011 -- working his way through exactly what it says on the box, singing his back-catalogue (LA Freeway, The Randall Knife, The Cape, Homegrown Tomatoes among them) and Townes Van Zandt's If I Needed You. Recording...

STEVE EARLE INTERVIEWS (2004, 2002): A hero on the homefront . . . and relevant album reviews

STEVE EARLE INTERVIEWS (2004, 2002): A hero on the homefront . . . and relevant album reviews

By 2004, Steve Earle could reflect on a career and life which had been one of the most extraordinary in American music. He crashed into country music with his 1986 classic rockin' country album Guitar Town then spun through a drug-fuelled downward spiral which earned him a prison term in the early 90s. He emerged a stronger man, vocal...

WILLIE NELSON INTERVIEWED 1998: The hard working lazy man

WILLIE NELSON INTERVIEWED 1998: The hard working lazy man

There’s not a lot you can say about the latest Willie Nelson album Teatro. Produced by Daniel Lanois, it’s Nelson’s second for the Island label after the critically acclaimed Spirit, has a band which includes Emmylou Harris and Luscious Jackson drummer Tony Mangurian, and is little more -- or less -- than another addition to...

WILLIE NELSON ALBUM REVIEWS 2000 - 2005: What a long strange trip

WILLIE NELSON ALBUM REVIEWS 2000 - 2005: What a long strange trip

He smoked a joint on the roof of the White House, sang with Julio Iglesias and on We Are The World, and he's still here. And still great -- sometimes. Willie Nelson, much like Dean Martin, has an effortless approach to life -- and recording. He could, as they say, sing a telephone directory and make it sound intersting. But latterly it is...

Lubbock, Texas: Lubbock or leave it

Lubbock, Texas: Lubbock or leave it

There comes a time when anyone who travels becomes Blanche Du Bois, the woman in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire who famously said, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers". We might not always be as needy as that faded southern belle -- but when you need help strangers are often the ones you depend on....

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Cats

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Cats

The cliche and joke about Nashville, the country music capital of the world, is that every bus driver, real estate agent, waitress and desk clerk is an aspiring songwriter. Spend more than a minute in their company and they will be pressing their demo tape on you just in case you can be useful to their career. I'm not sure what Roger thought...

STEVE EARLE INTERVIEWED (2013): Observations from the low road

STEVE EARLE INTERVIEWED (2013): Observations from the low road

No subject – be it family, money, his job or politics – is off-limits in a conversation with Steve Earle, if you can get a word in. A talker whose conversation takes off into interesting tangents, Earle is like Bruce Springsteen, a well-off musician who can relate to the working class and those suffering economic privation....

Larry Henley: A very rich man indeed.

Larry Henley: A very rich man indeed.

Ray Columbus seldom rang me at the Herald unless he had something to say. I liked him for that, he wasn't a time waster. But once he called and said he had an American friend in town that I might like to meet, the guy who was the lead singer for the one-hit wonder 60s band the Newbeats. Before we go any further let me tell what I know about...

Neil Young: Out to lunch

Neil Young: Out to lunch

Nothing showy here, but I've spoken to Neil Young three times. And the man was boring and awkward every time. But that's just my opinion. I've never understood why musicians -- especially those with as many track miles as Neil Young -- bother with interviews if they don't want to talk. Why do they subject themselves, let alone anyone else...

Roger McGuinn: The Byrd who can't fly from his past

Roger McGuinn: The Byrd who can't fly from his past

The backstage meet'n'greet is usually an uncomfortable if not dire affair. Record company types, tour managers, promoter's flunkies and various levels of B-grade guests -- such a myself -- mill around waiting for that quick handshake with someone whose music you might like, and whom you'd probably not want to invite home for dinner. I avoid...

Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)

Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)

Of all the artists to emerge in the past two and a half decades, you can effortlessly make the case that Steve Earle has moved the most. With confidence, and often great success, he has worked within genres we might define as country, folk-blues, alt.rock, bluegrass, country-rock . . . Earle has been a provocative political voice...

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