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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Freedom of speech now endangered for every musician

"Amid the ongoing fallout from the violence that saw a civil rights activist killed, music subscription service Spotify began removing so-called white power music, flagged by the SPLC as racist 'hate bands.' 

"A Spotify spokesperson said: 'Illegal content or material that favours hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like, is not tolerated by us. Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention. 

"We are glad to have been alerted to this content -- and have already removed many of the bands identified, while urgently reviewing the remainder." ("Apple denounces neo-Nazis as Spotify bans 'white power' tracks," Guardian 8/17/2017)

This should be of concern to anyone who would write, play, and sell music without first considering the authoritarian prejudices of ideological overlords. 

It should go without saying that 'white power' music (or anything at all complementary) is both morally repugnant and inherently hostile to the American, Constitutional equality ideal we commonly cherish. 

Also, as private company, Spotify can set any participatory standards it chooses. 

But the notion of suppressing articulation based on subjective assumptions of propriety is also contrary to traditional Constitutional guarantees. A censor's red pencil can deny liberty even more effectively than an obscure Charlottesville lackwit with poison fancies and substandard grooming habits.

As witnessed with the 1980s LP-labeling craze, the movie rating system, and the comics code of the 1950s, private industry makes content decisions based on market calculations, not on high-minded, individual liberty priorities. And those dollar-conscious reckonings soon become the orthodoxy. Art is impacted.

Once a measure for speech's 'legitimacy' has been adopted, all expression is threatened. And, whether noxious sloganeering or satirical, under-the-table advocacy of sensibleness (remember Randy Newman's "Short People?"), any lyric containing officially proscribed verbiage would be automatically tossed away.

Rock and Roll itself evolved in wonderful defiance of racial mores. 

The ability to consider ideas -- positive and productive ones, as well as their negative, destructive counterparts -- is crucial to intellectual development. By hearing contrasting perspectives, and judging them side by side, listeners are able to arrive at sufficiently thought-out and dependable conclusions.

(I'm not talking about Chaplinsky's "Fighting words" standard, nor of "clear and present danger" yelling 'fire!' in some packed theater, or the health hazards demonstrable in unlabeled, improper product ingredients. Ideas can be either accepted or rejected; physical poisons have but one logical end.)

Given contemporary mania for toppling statues, ripping down plaques, renaming streets, and other ill-considered efforts at historical revisionism, do not be surprised when, in coming times, rockabilly bands 'disappear' the Confederate Stars and Bars and other southern iconography from presentations.

Such reinvention, though, may not be entirely of musicians' conception. Owners of performance venues, record labels, and radio stations, not illogically apprehensive about adverse publicity and feel-good boycott campaigns, may soon present bands with a choice: Conform or die. Accommodate ideological fascism or be denied the ability to earn a living at your chosen profession.

That used to be called McCarthyism. Today, Spotify hails it as social justice.



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Poor Fellas
Streets of Desolation (self)

Whether hot rod-percolating across broken twilit tarmac, blasting star-ward in atomic rocketship coolness, or following frantically twangin', pounded bop to whatever fractured psychological plane it might scale, the reward lies always in the daring journey. And once you've been, you'll never seek return.

Recommended: "Dream Killer," "On My Feet," "Goodbye," "Feeling Blue," "Hot Rod Ride"

Video "Dream Killer"

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bruce Mississippi Johnson
The Deal Baby (self)

This unvarnished humanity-interpreted-as-blues/soul-orating rises up with bold self-awareness. And strapping satisfaction. It knows its origin, digs itself, and compels headbobbing, slap-grinning listeners to reciprocal earthy communion.

And that would already be enough. But here, it's just the solidly reverential bedrock. Reaching high from it is an ambitious contemporary voice that grabs for a corporeal spirituality of uniquely amphetamine ambitiousness that declares, moves out, and impacts with a wonderfully jarring precision birthed in timeless definitude.

Guitars step out, stylin'. Keys roam with aplomb. The essential beat centers us all. And Bruce's world-grained narratives hold to life.

You could ask for other. But you'd be a damned fool.

Recommended "No Good," "The Neighbor Next Door," "That's the Deal Baby," "I Can't Shake the Blues," "See You Tomorrow," "You Been Workin' Mojo," "I'll Bleed"

Video "No Good"

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


"My favorite chapters in this book are the ones on Bettie Page and the one on the author's late brother Rick, a guitarist and all-around roots musician in their native Iowa and surrounding region nearly all of his life

"...One thing crystal clear is that DC Larson is one of us: he has a passion for the music that we love, and doesn't have tunnel vision about it -- he loves a wide variety of America Roots Music, and the culture that surrounds it. He's written about a spectrum of artists from Elvis, Paul Burlison, and Ray Campi to Dale Watson and Wayne Hancock, and rockabillies like Robert Gordon, Chris Spedding, Hillbilly Casino, Nick Curran, and Jinx Jones.

"His final essay, 'Rock'n'Roll Will Stand,' is something on which we can all agree, but his own perspective and research fleshes out the idea with some interesting anti-Rock'n'Roll quotes you may or may not have encountered before."
- Marc Bristol / Blue Suede News, issue 112 (summer 2017)

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Linecutters
Anthill (Slope)

Crams fresh humanity, including all of the sparks-schizzing, burgeoning actualization it neither knows how to / cares to domesticate, into hurtling chords of joy-fury. Bursts loudly in all directions and at speeds awe-striking. Youth thrives athrash, in peculiar storms.

Recommended "Anxiety," "Mademoiselle," "On Parade," "Never Doubt," "Don't Do It," "Betrayed," "Jett Fuel," "Leafy Greens"

Video "Anxiety"

Visionland (Birmingham / Nashville)

Insistence cannot be denied. It's an impulsion with animation its single ambition. And, when filtered through instruments by judicious interpreters, it can sound pretty damn cool. 

To listen is to tumble through a kaleidoscopic swirl of ambitious musings, intellectual darings, and tipsy passages rooted in before-days and grasping enthusiastically for unknowable delights yet to loom.

Recommended "Fine Fine Day," "Thick N' Thin," "Strange Heart,' "Fun All Night"

Video "Fine Fine Day"

Monday, March 20, 2017

s/t (Killjoy)

The black and white patrol cruiser sped down twilit dirt roads, its rooftop-cherry strobing and siren blaring. Frantic townspeople had besieged the station-house desk sergeant's phone with confused cries that a bizarre saucer had crash-landed behind the old hills just outside town.

Officer Jamie swung the car to a halt. "Come on," he growled. "We'll sneak in on 'em! Get the drop!"

Kelton, nervous, followed. His revolver-hand trembled. "I don't know why I always have to get these monster details!"

As the uniformed pair crept to the hill's top, weird music grew louder. They peered down and gasped with shock. Horror.

A strange rock'n'roll party unlike any before witnessed by mortal eyes was in full, lunatic swing. Creatures jumped and whirled in mad, macabre hyper-dances to an old-school psychobilly beat both magnetic and unaturally menacing. 

The perpetrators of that crazed bop-racket that had come from outer-space to assault earthly normalcy -- three wild-eyed apostles of cosmic oddness. They leaned into their strange assault, seemingly bent on turning the whole dimension on its head and making it love the violation.

On the hilltop, Kelton pushed back his policeman's hat. "What do you figure we should do?"

"My plan?" Jamie whispered in response. He scowled, eyes squinted. "Go back to the station house, tell 'em we saw nothing. Just some prank calls!" 

Kelton gulped. "I'm with you!"

Recommended "Invasion of the Radarmen." "Cosmic Kidnapping"

Video "Invasion of the Radarmen"

Friday, March 17, 2017

Koffin Kats
Party Time In the End Times 
(Koffin Kats Records)

There can be no simple, A-to-Z journey through a Koffin Kats arrangement. Typically, these charge then twist then flirt with breath-kept suspension and ultimate upheaval. As hurtlingly dynamic as a maddened UFO spree o'er topsy planes coined at whim.

Recommended "Party Time In the End Times," "Witch In the Woods," "Dark World," "Nasty Weather," "Pigs In the Grove,"
"No Free Rides"

Video "Way of the Road" (non-CD, 2012)

Don Leady & His Rockin' Revue
Poppy Toppy Gone (Leray Music)

Don's encyclopedic, twang-splayed negotiations jar agreeably. The orthodoxy is ever in the bones: Riotously living honky tonk and blues joint spirits jump up and proclaim in fire-tongues. In one moment, "Train Kept A-Rollin'" gestures. Another recalls Jeff Beck's "Goin' Down." Both are marvelous inspirations. The assembled Revue --  Eric Przygocki, Alberto Telo. and Jack Montesinos -- are the conducive force appropriate; brawny, sure-stepping, and rocking the house with a nimble hipness. And then, all of a moment, Don opens up his own magnificent muse.

Recommended "Poppy Toppy Gone," "A String Of Pearls," "Mumbo Jumbo," "Conga Mamba," "Okie Dokie Stomp," "Goin' Down That Road"

Video "Goin' Down That Road"

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dylan Bishop Band
Exciting Sounds of the... (Espanada)

That Jimmie Vaughan and Doug James fell in for certain cuts tips big doings. Vernal blues cat Dylan raises up shouted promise in twanging Texas testimonies. Feature the bluntness of Gatemouth Brown and Frankie Lee Sims, given Nick Curran rave-up reinvention. Solid, straight through.

Recommended "What You Do To Me," "She's My Baby," "Monkey's Uncle"

Video "What You Do To Me"

email Dylan for booking info:,
call or text 817-701-6303

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Levi Dexter and the Gretsch Brothers
Okie Boogie b/w 7 Nights To Rock 
(Dextone Records USA)

The names alone inspire blood-surging delirium. Mastered at Capitol Records' fabled Hollywood tower, through whose halls the Catman's tempestuous, guiding spirit may well on occasion waft. These tracks appeared on the earlier All Thru the Night LP. Merely 1000 copies of this dashing new 45 exist, which means it's vinyl safari time. 

Video "7 Nights To Rock"

At this writing, available only at gigs and these sites:…/vinyl-bunker-roots-mu…/89112894/


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mario Cobo and his Guitar Posse
Burnin' Daylight (Sleazy Records) 

Relax, as mellow notes transport you up into cloudland. Deftly caressed instrumentals in an oh-so cool country-jazz vibe. Introspective. Articulate. Dreaming. Feeling. A guitar tone clear and sincere. At turns contemplative, idyllic, and whimsically ambitious. 

Recommended "Five More Stops," "String Theory," "40 Laps To Go," "Gradiation," "Toman Waltz," "Third Time Lucky"

Video "Five More Stops"

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March To Your Own Beat (Lime Digital Music)

There's a spot at which etched genre demarcations -- rockabilly, punk, psycho -- lose meaning, so utter is the joyfully thrashed melange. A recommending matter with the Hyperjax is songcraft so engaging that one at first doesn't catch on to the cleverness. And then, realization sets in. 

Recommended "Angry Young Man," "Burn In Your Own Flame," "Hard Knock Chops," "City of Broken Rain," "Sweet Solitary," "Whatever Happened To the Krewmen?," "Blast Me Into Outer Space"

Video "Burn in your own flame"

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Darrel Higham
Hell's Hotel (PledgeMusic)

Jump aboard and give the man your ticket. You know where you're headed -- muscular, tonic rock'n'roll territory -- and the confidently cheeky cat up front urging the mighty engine to new extremes knows his business. It's a wild ride. Also a smart one. And the train keeps rollin', all night long.

Recommended "Hell's Hotel," "Turn Around and Go," "When You Smile"

Video "Hell's Hotel"

Monday, March 6, 2017

AJ Hobbs
Too Much Is Never Enough (Booker)

Sure, easy-played stories of suffering and satisfaction can connect on the commonly experienced-humanity level without artful construction. But here, such attention amplifies.

Recommended "Too Much Is Never Enough," "Tomorrow, I'll Be Hurtin'," "The Loser," "Shit Just Got Real," "A Whole Lot of You and Me"

Video Clever 1980s TV-style promo

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lance Lipinsky and the Lovers
Roll (self)

Lance digs what the old masters always taught; As crucial as are percolated fun-drive and its pursuit-of-kicks actualization (whether in hopped-up whirling or dreamily romantic incarnations), optimal rendition requires knowing administration born of serious experience. And hipness, too. Gotta be hip.

Recommended "So Real," " Boy Like Me, A Girl Like You," "Fool a Fool," "Eventually," "Move Move Move," "Paper Ring"

Video "So Real"

Video "A Boy Like Me, A Girl Like You"

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Ghost Wolves
Texas Platinum (Hound Gawd)

As much sliding eerieness and gone-ga ga animalism as their chosen name evokes. Wriggling and beclawed specimen of Austin, Texas guitar/drum twosome's unsettling Voodoo blues/thrill-rockin'/punk-poetic shards of the macabre. And it's about a mover.

(Note: This CD is scheduled for April release. For critical regard, I drew on previously available video clip song versions.)

Recommended "Strychnine In My Lemonade," "Cry Babies Go Home," "Whetin' My Knife," "Bunny Run"

Video "Strychnine In My Lemonade"

Friday, March 3, 2017

Ray Condo And His Hardrock Goners
Hot 'N' Cold (SuperOldies)

The talent was always evident, through hiccuppy, herky-jerky stage episodes. Ray may not have been here long (he passed in 2004, only 54 years old), but like the jumped-up honky tonk swing he threw out, he blazed a jagged trail of moment. Enhanced reissue includes three archival video testaments.

Recommended "Hot 'N' Cold," "Crazy Mixed-Up World," "Blast Off"

Video "Crazy Mixed-Up World"

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Truly Lover Trio
"Does it again with Candy Kisses" (Twinkletone)

Always of organically superior rank, TLT handily illustrate that light-on-its-feet mellifluousness makes the fun work to everyone's joyful benefit. Clever, brisk, memorable, and with a proper measure of sincere heart. 

Recommended "Candy Kisses," "Speed Limit," "She's Lookin' At Me," "Lovestruck," "So Soon," "I'm No Good Without You," "That'll Do," "The Joint's Really Jumpin'"

Video "Candy Kisses" promo

Monday, February 27, 2017

Danny B Harvey and Annie Marie Lewis
Barbwire Heart (Lanark)

Unions this immaculate appear with such maddening infrequency that they should be held fast unhesitatingly and without release. Hot-lashed guitar expostulations within whose metallic and limber-stringed confederation are the heady stuff of precisely American animation. And exquisite vocal endeavorings blood-rooted in archetypal rock'n'roll genetic landscape, ones that not only pledge vindication but make thoroughly good on that meritorious vow.

Recommended "Don't You Lie To Me," "Fly Me To the Moon," "Easy To Love," "Nitro," "Rock Little Baby," "Cross Roads Blues"

Video "Don't You Lie To Me"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Quentin Jones Stands Up

There surely is tremendous inner tumult when you know you've got something extraordinary, know you've got something important to say -- and can mentally hear it portrayed in a definite manner -- but are restricted by auxiliary commitments.

Quentin Jones founded Pennsylvania's Lanark Records. While that was to his individual credit, though, the label largely existed to give platform to other artists.  Too, he has earned global plaudits for his strident guitar assertions with the Reach Around Rodeo Clowns; indeed, such is his ability that he now has a Gretsch endorsement. But that distinction also came from works bannering aggregate endeavors.

The Rockabilly Hall of Fame has recognized him for his studio and live toil with so many, including Robert Gordon, the Rockats, Herman's Hermits, and the Gas House Gorillas. So, while it's true that Quentin's tasted fame, it's often been as an adjunct to someone else's project. One might say his lamp was often hidden beneath a bushel.

But, no more. In 2017, he's busting out of the shadow world. Standing tall. Declaring out loud his own, unique artistic identity.

A disc is in the pipeline -- one bearing his name alone, and not that of some collective. The demos he sent me are all of consistently superior quality. All peaks, no valleys. I guess fire comes in messes, 'cause there's a mess of fire coming out of these songs. 

Quentin's formidable, party-crashing guitar jet-streams with amazing nimbleness through arrangements smartly reverential of the old while reinventing it as technicolor newness for contemporary climes.

He's already planning shows as "Quentin Jones and Friends," And numerous major names have signed on to sit in at various gigs: Annabelle Lwin (Bow Wow Wow), Dibbs Preston (Rockats), Billy Burnette, and Billy J. Kramer (of Beatles-related renown).

He's known all along that he had something special. Now, the world's going to know that, too.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Kent Rose with Chris Casello
All That American Night (Memory Train)

So just plain right. Various of these sparkling odes are arrayed to distinction, and stake dissimilar territories. But all bloom from proletarian clay.

Two tracks merit special note: "If You Dig It," its tradition-founded rocking cast as a burstingly animated, vividly contemporary declaration, reminds much of the old/new synthesis so cleverly realized on Robert Gordon's 1981 Are You Gonna Be the One? LP. And, "Pretty World of Make-Believe" honors old-ways honky tonk; Chris's serpentine bass-string guitar line, and Kent's easy, knowing voice, guide toward a luxuriant, natural essence to whose decided tempo one simply must bop.

Recommended "If You Dig It," "Pretty World of Make-Believe," "Why You Wanna," "All That American Night," "This House Gets Lonesome," "Leave This Town," "Workingman's Hands," "Jungle Jaguar Pants"

VIDEO "If You Dig It"

Scott H. Biram
The Bad Testament (Bloodshot)

Scott's stark, one-man band conformation allows him to wring from these way-down-deep chronicles all the out-loud humanity they promise and we appreciate. No more is needed but a tastefully picked gut-box, a voice as capable of slightness as mammoth storm, and the tenacious resolve of a man who, damn-it-all, believes.

Recommended "Just Another River," "Long Old Time," "I Want My Mojo Back," "Judgement Day," "Slow and Easy," "When I Die"

VIDEO "Just Another River"