09
Jan
12

Our Kind of Music is moving!

After a little over two years at its current location as an ordinary wordpress blog, Our Kind of Music (OKOM) is finally going to grow up and become a real website! We’re still going to be bringing you great articles and news about your favorite Americana / Folk / Roots artists, but over the next couple months we’re going to kick in the second wind!

In the past, we’ve brought you interviews with Todd Snider, Will Kimbrough, and Robert Earl Keen and we had fun doing those, but now we want to take interviews a step further. How would like to see Skype interviews with OKOM artists? Yeah, I thought you might like that. I’m jazzed about it too! I think it would be a hell of a lot more fun than reading those transcriptions of the phone interviews! And I sure as hell won’t miss that shitload of typing!

We’re also planning on bringing reviews of up-and-coming OKOM artists’ releases; news and tour updates about your favorite OKOM singers; and much more.

But first – I do have a bunch of typing to do and finish up those final installments of The Lost Snider Tapes that I promised you (almost a year ago). The Lost Snider Tapes – Part 1.3 will kick off the new website.

The new Our Kind of Music website is located at ourkindofmusic.com. Slide on over there and take a look. While you’re there, take a second and enter your email address where it says, what else… Enter Your Email and you’ll get notified when the new site is up and buzzing!

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24
Feb
11

The Lost Snider Tapes – Part 1.2

This interview with Todd Snider took place the morning of May 9th, 2009. Todd’s upcoming record, The Excitement Plan, was due to be released a month later. In this second part of the interview, we cover everything from pot to Dock Ellis to being lucky in life.

OKOM: The last time you were in Eugene, we were talking on your bus, and you mentioned that you and Dave had gotten popped for possession. Now, I’m assuming that’s the backstory for “Greencastle Blues.”

Todd: Yeah, it is.

OKOM: Yeah, and I couldn’t help but make comparisons between “Greencastle Blues” and “Tillamook County Jail.” But, “Greencastle Blues” has a serious and somewhat dark, more mature tone to it. There is even a hint of regret in there. What were your – if this isn’t too personal – what are your thoughts about what you went through that ended up being the inspiration for a very personal song.

Todd: Yeah, I was feeling more ashamed about getting caught smoking marijuana than about smoking marijuana. At the age of 42, I think it was my seventh little trip to jail, and they are starting to get old. I would like to shake that side of my life but the thing that sticks with me is that I still smoke weed and I assume that I probably will for the rest of my life. So, that means that I always have to be real careful and try not to be disrespectful to the people that don’t want me to do it.

OKOM: What also came across in the song – besides being so personal – was that last line that spoke like a little act of defiance – “less than an ounce of possession, shit, I can do that kind of time standing up.”

Todd: Yeah, I feel like I was trying to show the cycle of how somebody stays a person like me. And most of the cats in my neighborhood are like that too. You find yourself – well I guess I shouldn’t say you, I should say I – you know how someone says, “You find yourself.” I’m like, no, you find yourself. Don’t tell me what I should do. So anyway, I find myself – damn, after that I forgot what I was going to say. But I liked the other point. [laughs]

OKOM: [laughs] A little side thing, last night I read that the New York Times had dubbed Jackie Greene as the Prince of Americana. I couldn’t believe that when I read it but… So, what would that make you?

Todd: Ummm, The Grand Imagineer!

OKOM: [laughs] That sounds much better than Prince.

Todd: [laughs] Yeah!

OKOM: Okay, onto the next one. “America’s Favorite Pastime” – the title alone can be taken two ways – is it baseball or hallucinogenic drugs?

Todd: Yeah! [Laughs] Wow, I love you, man! You really appreciate the lyrics. I like to hear that you listen to it because it makes me feel understood. I always try to put in little things like that, you know?

OKOM: [Laughs] Man, you’ve got a lot of stuff like that. Now, when did you first hear about that game? I mean, you were only about four years old when that game was played.

Todd: Oh yeah, sure, I know. Maybe it was about two or three years ago. Maybe it was from one of the guys in Yonder Mountain String Band. I know it was backstage at a hippie festival, and the conversation went to – because a lot of the hippie bands take acid before they play – and the conversation turned to Dock Ellis having thrown a no-hitter that way. And I was just very fascinated by that.

OKOM: So did you have to do some research about Dock Ellis and that game?

Todd: I did. I had my friend Peter Cooper show me how to get on the computer and get the box score. Wait a minute – was it him? Anyway, somebody showed me how to get the box score. That was all I needed.

OKOM: You give a rundown of the whole game and a lot of the stats in the song.

Todd: Yeah, I do. My innings and my scores I believe are correct. And the coach’s name, Murtaugh. I used the box score pretty much for all that. And I had heard of this one part, that I couldn’t quite get in because I couldn’t get it to rhyme. It was a part about somebody hitting a dribbler at him and he hit the dirt like it was a line drive. I had heard that supposedly happened.

OKOM: Yeah, I believe it did. Okay, “Bring ‘em Home.” I love the viewpoint from the soldier’s side and it is not your typical end-the-war songs.

Todd: It was important to me, for some reason when I was working on that song, that I don’t come out and tell anybody to bring somebody home. So I felt like I wanted to tell it from the point of view of somebody else.

OKOM: Right, and why not somebody that’s out there in the middle of it? One of my favorite lines from that song is “it seems like all I’m ever almost dying to do” I mean, listening to that, it’s like you’re saying – or he’s saying – that he knows that any day he could die.

Todd: Exactly, and he’s just trying to get back. And I don’t know the answer. I know some people with some kids over there that just want to come home, man.

OKOM: I hope you don’t mind, Todd. I’m just going down the list.

Todd: No, I’m enjoying it. I appreciate you doing this for us and thank you for listening to it.

OKOM: That’s what’s always got me about your stuff. I always tell people when I turn them onto your music – listen, because you’ve got a lot to say.

Todd: Well, thanks man. That means a lot.

OKOM: It’s not superficial shit, it’s deeper than that. You work hard at it, and it shows. Next one – “Corpus Christi Bay” is one of my favorite Robert Earl Keen songs. But you didn’t just do a cover, you made it your own.

Todd: I tried to.

OKOM: I think it’s your vocal style and when that haunting fiddle of Molly’s comes in on the second chorus just sets that sad and pathetic mood.

Todd: Yeah, you got it.

OKOM: Now, was there a personal reason for the choice of that song?

Todd: Yeah, I’d heard that it was true for Robert Earl. Every time I’ve heard that song it reminded me of me and my brother. If you took the Corpus Christi Bay and replaced it with, say, the music world; and took the oil rigs and replaced it with the road and honky-tonks, you’d have our story. He [my brother] was out there with me for a while and now he’s home.

OKOM: Where does he live?

Todd: He lives across town here. He works in a booking company.

OKOM: So, you guys are still close?

Todd: Oh yeah, very much so, I talk to him every day.

OKOM: Are you far apart in age or are you very close?

Todd: I think it’s only about a year.

OKOM: That’s good to be close. My brother and I are nine years apart; we’re like two only children.

Todd: Oh wow, that’s weird.

OKOM: The years don’t matter; we love each other like brothers. And I think  – shit, I know – I was an accident. My mom told me I was.

Todd: [laughs] Hey man, that’s cool, accidents are fantastic!

OKOM: [laughs] Hey, as long as I’m here! Enough about me. Okay, a couple of songs – “Slim Chance” and “Good Fortune” – it’s obvious, well at least it seemed obvious to me that you’re talking about Melita. Does she inspire you a lot?

Todd: Yeah, oh yeah.

OKOM: Do you consider yourself lucky?

Todd: Oh yeah, very much.

There’s more to come next week. Right now, I’ve got to get ready to go to Reno for Todd’s two shows at John Ascuaga’s Nugget. See you there. It’s gonna be a blast.
22
Feb
11

The Lost Snider Tapes – Part 1.1

This interview with Todd Snider took place the morning of May 9th, 2009. Elmo Buzz and the Eastside Bulldogs were scheduled to play a Full Moon Party at The 5 Spot that evening. Todd’s upcoming record, The Excitement Plan, was due to be released a month later. In part one of this interview, we talk about “Money, Compliments and Publicity” and how Don Was came to be the producer of The Excitement Plan.

OKOM: Hey, Todd. How are you doing?

Todd: Hey man, I’m doing good. Are you calling from Eugene?

OKOM: Yeah, I am.

Todd: Right on. Good to hear from you again.

OKOM: Well, it’s always good to talk to you. What I was hoping to focus on today was the upcoming CD [The Excitement Plan].

Todd: Oh great, I’d love it.

OKOM: Yeah, I’ve been listening to it quite a bit since Courtney sent it to me a few weeks ago.

Todd: Oh man, well, thank you. We worked hard on it.

OKOM: I wanted to talk a bit about some of the songs – and well – why don’t we just get into it.

Todd: Sure. Sounds good.

OKOM: Okay, since this is an interview – and we know what comes from an interview – I thought the appropriate song to start off with would be “Money, Complements, and Publicity.”

Todd: [laughs] You got it.

OKOM: Personally, I learned a very valuable lesson from that song. That is to never listen to one of your songs for the first time while driving my car…

Todd: [laughs]

OKOM: …because I damn near got in a wreck when you got to that line about taking care of your friends.

Todd: [laughs] Yeah!

OKOM: You know, because the song starts out as sounding so sincere and then it takes a sharp turn towards narcissism.

Todd: Yup, yup.

OKOM: Then you thank everyone including Clive Davis. Did you get your inspiration for that song from watching the Grammys?

Todd: You know what it was, I was working on the record, and I’d come up with a ton of songs but I only liked nine of them. In my head, at the time, I just needed another song. I’d never done that before; I’ve never looked at anything like that before. So, I got up one morning, and I sat down at the piano, and I thought – okay, what can I sing? And I realized, I said to myself, “You know, you’ve never done anything like this. You’re just sitting down at the piano to make up a song just to have another song. What the hell are you doing? You’ve never done this before.” I was disappointed in myself. And I thought, wow, what’s the point of singing a song if you don’t actually have something in your heart. And then I remembered this thing that I had read about this Eddie Rickenbacker, a World War II pilot. He’d said that man had reached his pinnacle of success when he ceased to care about money, compliments, and publicity. And I thought, the only reason I’m sitting here at this fucking piano – if I really wanted to be honest with myself – is because I’ve got to get a record done. And what you do a record for, right?

OKOM: [Laughs] Right.

Todd: [laughs] So, then I started just singing it like that. And I started writing that out and all, and about halfway through, I thought – Hey, I’m going to get a real therapeutic, real normal song out of this. And I don’t know if I would actually do what I said in the song, you know. Like I tell all my friends when they hear that song, “Of course I’ll call you! Just you, me and my old lady.”

OKOM: Right, don’t take it personal.

Todd: Exactly, don’t take it personal. I’m talking about everybody else, man!

OKOM: Yeah, yeah.

Todd: Man, there’s some dark, gross truth in there. I’m one of them people that can get in my own home and stay in it for months. I enjoy my friends, but they know that I can disappear for long periods of time. So, I ended up really getting something really good out of that song. I always like it, when I write a song, and end up with something like that, no matter how it comes out at the end. Even “Alright Guy” that I made up years ago, came to me when I had just been dropped from some job, they gave me a record contract, and then they told me that I couldn’t have it anymore. I was like 25 at the time. And I remember, even though I was purging, I don’t know, it was sad – it was a very sad day that I wrote “Alright Guy.”

OKOM: Yeah but you got a lot of good stuff out of those times.

Todd: Yeah, I like those types of songs.

OKOM: And this one [Money, Complements, and Publicity] is another one of those songs of yours that starts out going one direction and then doesn’t end up the way you think it’s going to end. At least to me, you had that turning point in it. It started out sounding so heartfelt, and then you hit us with that line – buy an island, run a phone line, call and tell them all to get fucked – and I thought, shit, that’s classic!

Todd: [laughs] I’m glad you liked it. I’m glad you liked that.

OKOM: Oh and by the way, I hope you guys have fun tonight. As just my little way of showing support, I’m wearing my Elmo Buzz and the Eastside Bulldogs T-shirt.

Todd: Oh, kick ass! We’re going to rock tonight. We’ve got a saxophone kid that came out the other day and a piano player too. It’s cool. We actually had a practice!

OKOM: Oh, yeah?

Todd: We’d never done that before. It’s sort of changed. It used to be that we –

OKOM: Wait a minute. You said you have practiced before or you haven’t?

Todd: We haven’t ever before. It used to kind of be a practice when we played under that name. And then we started making up songs to do just as that. Now we have a bunch of songs that we play.

OKOM: I’d heard that you were planning to put out a CD under the name Elmo Buzz and the Eastside Bulldogs. Is that true?

Todd: It might happen.

OKOM: That would be cool.

Todd: Yeah, we’ve been thinking about it. If we can do it, we will. We almost did it last week, but we decided to just wait.

OKOM: Were you thinking along the lines of a live CD or a studio CD?

Todd: I don’t know, I don’t know. We’re not quite ready yet. But we’ve been thinking about it. We sure have a lot of fun. The thing with that group is that – the rule behind it is that it has to be absolutely, positively fun. It can never not be fun. The couple of times that we hinted at making a record, man, when you start to do that, it changes everything. So, we have to find a way to just disappear someplace and do it without telling anybody so that it doesn’t turn into work. You know, my job is really, really, really fun. I love it. But when I get with these guys, and we plug in our electric guitars and we go jam – I don’t ask anybody on my team about it, you know? Like my manager, I tell him, “You can come, but you better be drunk and you better leave me alone.”

OKOM:  Well, I’ll be having a glass of wine for you and wishing I could be there.

Todd: Hell yeah.

OKOM: And I hope you’re getting some use out of that “Keep Eugene Weird” T-shirt that I gave you last time I saw you.

Todd: Oh my God, I had it on yesterday. As a matter of fact, it was for a photo thing. So maybe you’ll be seeing it come back at you.

OKOM: No shit? That’s great! Alright, let’s get back to the CD, because I easily get sidetracked. Okay, you teamed up with Don Was.

Todd: Yeah.

OKOM: He’s got a hell of a history. You also have Jim Keltner – he’s one of my favorite drummers. Anything that he plays on, I just love what he does, he makes it sound so simple but so perfect. What he did on some of your tracks was just that – perfect.

Todd: Yeah, I love his style.

OKOM: Yeah, and you’ve got Greg Leisz. They’re all legends. How did that all come about? And how jazzed were you that it did all come about?

Todd: I was really excited and shocked. It started as I was working on the album and I was seeing that I had run out of ideas as a person who was basically producing myself with my friends. At least I thought so, and so did the rest of us. We were like, “You guys, we’re doing the same thing that we had already done.” So, I was starting to get into that Kristofferson that he had just made and taking this as maybe more as where my head was at. Actually, there was one track on there – “Loaded Again” – I went in and played that for my manager. And I told him that this is what I wanted to do, I wanted to sort of go in this direction and fuck around down here for a minute and that I think I should get somebody to produce me. He called me back later and he said Don Was wants to do it maybe. And I went, “You’re fucking joking around right?”

OKOM: Wow.

Todd: Yeah, he said, “No, I know a guy who knows him. He’s the one who made the Kristofferson record and I thought to call him. They’re on the road right now, and he said to go out there and get on the bus with them for a while, see what happens.” So, I rode around with the band – there was like 13 of them. Then me and Don went to a Brewers game and talked about records, and why you make them and what they’re for and all that. He asked me if I wanted him to help me. So we went right back to his hotel and he pulled out a whole lot of equipment. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the video on YouTube.

OKOM: Yeah, I saw the one where he’s sitting in the corner recording as you’re playing.

Todd: Yeah, that’s the one. We had just got back from the Brewers game. We had recorded like 16 songs that day. And my tour manager, Elvis, was filming those. That’s what that is. And then, he said he would do it. And everything that I was telling him that I wanted or was looking for, I never had that in my life, you know? I’d say that I wanted a sound like that Ry Cooder record or that JJ Cale record. And he’d say, “Oh, that’s Jim. You want to get Jim?” And I’d be like, well sure… you can do that? You know that guy? And then I’d said something about a Joni Mitchell thing or something about steel guitar. And he’d say, “I’ll get Greg Leisz.”

OKOM: He’s played with a ton of people too.

Todd: Oh, yeah. And he [Don] knows I’m a big fan of all [Rolling] Stones. I’m a huge fan of all of Don’s Stones period stuff. And it was so exciting for me to get to be around somebody who watches them work. And then he got the engineer that did the Bigger Bang record. And it was just the five of us, and we did it in like 2 1/2 days. Live, completely, there’s no overdubs on it.

OKOM: I was wondering about the recording of this record because it has a very raw but clean sound to it. It’s not overproduced or anything. So that is the case; you just laid it down live.

Todd: Yeah, we did it real spontaneous and loose and they just recorded it real good. I even told him that one of my favorite records was Tapestry by Carol King and he just said, “Yeah, we can go there.” [laughs] I just said, “Man you’re the best!” And now he is going to come play Bonnaroo with me. I really feel like I’ve made a friend, you know.

OKOM: A friend like that is rare.

Todd: He’s been really kind to me. That was probably the most fun I ever had playing music.

02
Feb
11

A Hoe-Down Feast (with Drums on the Side)

The following article is about a recent Eugene, Oregon appearance of The Emmit-Nershi Band, Great American Taxi, and Danny Barnes. All  fine musicians with deep bluegrass influences.

But before I get to that article I want to share a related personal story of – something that happened over thirty years ago – the weekend I lost my virginity to bluegrass music. I’ll admit I was nervous, after all… I’d seen Deliverance.

Drums on the Side

Who Cares! - (L to R - Wayne, me, Felix)

Back in the early 80’s I was the drummer in a three-piece (sometimes four-piece, sometimes five-piece band – depending on who brought beer and a guitar) called Who Cares based out of Mountain Pass, California, Sorry, no hyperlink to that band – we were way ahead of our time and the internet. My band-mates Felix Lenox and Wayne  Elliott – both excellent guitarists – were talking one night about the Bluegrass in the Spring Festival, an annual event held in Calico Ghost Town, California. Wayne and his dad, Don, would be performing there as The Mountain Pass Drifters. Felix and I decided that we should pack up the van and head out to Calico and take in the Festival.

The next morning we started loading all the essentials – beer, peanut butter, beef jerky, sleeping bags, and beer. Felix put a couple of his guitars into their cases, grabbed his amp, took them out to the van, snatched a beer out of the cooler and sat in the open back-end of the van.

“Hey, Blake,” he yelled into the house, “you about ready to hit the road?”

“Almost, man,” I said as I came out the side door of our single-wide mobile home carrying my bass drum. “I’ve just got a few more things to load.” I hadn’t noticed Felix’s puzzled look as I set the 20″ drum into the van. I headed back inside, returning shortly after with my toms and cymbal bag.

Felix sat there, his beer bottle – not quite up to his open mouth – seemed blocked by the question that hung on his lips… “What the fuck are you doing?”

Now I had the look of bewilderment. “What the hell does it look like?” I said. “You’re taking your axe; I’m taking mine.”

“I really don’t think you should,” he explained, “Bluegrass people don’t like drummers.”

I smiled, “Shit, everybody loves a drummer.”

It was about a three beer drive (one and a half hours) to Calico Ghost Town from Mountain Pass, California. We staked out a spot in the campground, grabbed a couple more beers from the cooler, headed out to join the crowd and enjoy the music. There were a ton of guitarists, along with more mandolin and banjo players than I had ever seen in one place. As far as I knew, I was the only drummer around.

Mountain Pass Drifters (Wayne is front and center)

Felix and I watched the Mountain Pass Drifters compete with some other very good bluegrass bands. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you if they won or not; the day was long and hot, many beers were consumed. After Wayne finished with the serious music, he joined us on the streets of Calico as we performed some bluegrass standards for tips and beer. I armed myself with my snare, hi-hats, brushes, and a pair of sticks (in case I felt the need to get loud). We entered a talent contest at a theatre – that looked like it came right from the set of Gunsmoke – and we won FIRST PLACE! Maybe I read too much into it, BUT, we were the only group with percussion. Don’t tell me these people don’t like drummers.

The nightlife in the Calico Ghost Town campground was a real treat. Everywhere we turned – musicians jammed. Felix and Wayne joined in when it struck them. After making the rounds, we made our way back to the van. As Felix and Wayne picked their way through some tunes, I opened the back doors of the van, pulled my drums out – piece by piece – and quietly assembled them. What’s the worst that could happen? I was surrounded by fellow musicians… drunken bluegrass musicians that – I was told – didn’t like drummers . In my twenties, I didn’t always think things through.

For the most part, it went pretty well. We jammed and people listened. We played bluegrass, country, and rock (we may have even slipped in an acoustic version of B-52’s “Planet Claire”). After a couple of hours of jamming, we took a break. A tall kid in blue jeans and a cropped-sleeved t-shirt approached me at the back of the van. He looked to be about 15 or 16. He asked me if that was my kit and asked if it was okay if he sat down at them. I said, “Sure, go ahead,” figuring he came from a drum-deprived bluegrass family and had never actually seen a drum kit up close – I was wrong.

He tapped around on the skins, then turned around and asked, “You have a tuning key on you?”

I was a bit skeptical at first, but thought I could always re-tune them later. I dug the key out of my pocket and handed the key to him. I watched and listened as he tuned and tapped, tapped and tuned, until my drums sounded sweeter than ever.

He handed me back the key and said, “You mind if I play them a bit?”

“Hell no,” I said, “Thanks for the tuning. Knock yourself out, kid.”

His solo started out slow and unassuming and – as a crowd gathered around our little piece of the ghost town night – gradually built into a complex, melodic, piece of percussive expertise that would have made Neil Peart himself say, “Damn, That kid’s good!” He ended with an explosive crescendo of metal and taut skin that shook the air. The crowd cheered loudly as the young drummer handed me back my sticks and simply said, “Thanks, man.”

I talked to him just long enough to learn that he was 16 and had been playing since he was 8. I thanked him and then he disappeared into the campfire-lit night. Felix and I stood there silently for a bit until Felix said, “You want to play some more?”

“What?” I said, “I ain’t following that.”

“Yeah… me neither,” Felix said.

I thought – Don’t tell me bluegrass people don’t like drummers.

A Hoe-Down Feast

Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon) and Bill Nershi (String Cheese Incident) – both founders of popular jam bands – have done the sold-out-stadium, prestigious rock ‘n’ roll thing flawlessly. Over the years they developed a strong friendship as the paths of their bands crossed at shows and festivals. From that kindred-spirit bond grew the idea of forming a project together and returning to their roots as The Emmitt-Nershi Band. They didn’t waste much time focusing on the band’s name; instead, they focused on the music – some of the finest examples of modern bluegrass music you’ll ever hear. Their latest collaboration, New Country Blues, is like a cornucopia filled with the succulent fruits of their love of the music.

Great American Taxi

Great American Taxi

Bring Emmitt and Nershi together with their old friends of Great American Taxi – one of the best-known headliners on the jam band circuit – and you’ve got one hell of a show. Former Leftover Salmon singer, guitarist, and mandolin player Vince Herman is one of the founding members of Great American Taxi. The band’s music – a recipe of swampy blues, progressive bluegrass, funky New Orleans strut, honky-tonk country, and good old fashioned rock ’n’ roll – has been self-labeled “Americana Without Borders.” Their latest release, Reckless Habits, captures the raucous enthusiasm of which their live shows are legend.

Danny Barnes

Danny Barnes

If that’s not enough, genre-bending banjo man Danny Barnes will join them on stage. While incorporating digital technology and multiple effects pedals, Barnes takes the banjo where it has never been musically. His skill as an instrumentalist has ushered him to share the stage and record with countless multi-genre artists including Leftover Salmon.

This article was originally published in Eugene Weekly, November 4, 2010

03
Jan
11

That Classic Country Sound Lives On…

It’s encouraging to hear young acoustic performers out there that are still strongly influenced by some of the greats of country music. Crooked River band mates Teri Jacobs (guitar/vocals/harmonica), Lana Dishner (guitar/vocals) and Rob Jacobs (mandolin/guitar/vocals) are old friends who, over the years, have shared laughs, food and their love of the classics – Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Marty Robbins to name a few. Less than a year after Rob taught Lana to play guitar, the three of them (with Teri on harmonica), were performing their treasured classics for friends and at summer garden parties.

Once bitten by that performance bug, Teri learned guitar, began writing songs like a woman possessed while Rob and Lana continued to polish their musical skills and also write songs. Rob also picked up mandolin, adding a crisp fresh layer to their already true-to-the-classics sound. Soon they had an impressive assortment of original songs.

The collection became their debut album – My Troubled Heart – which is filled with tales of anguish that a broken heart holds from the title track’s lonely story of betrayal, to the blithe account of loss (but just leave the beer) in “6-Pack,” closing with the tranquil journey of “I’m Home.” Staying true to their inspirations – Crooked River recorded My Troubled Heart in mono, giving it the warmth of a candle-lit living room performance. Join Crooked River as they celebrate the release of My Troubled Heart.

This article was originally published in Eugene Weekly, November 11, 2010

03
Jan
11

A Voice All Her Own

After spending ten years as the “sultry” voice of the Canadian female trio The Be Good Tanyas, Frazey Ford launched her voice to the forefront on her debut solo album Obadiah, released earlier this year. Proving that Ford is capable of delivering a solid album on her own, the smoldering Obadiah sounds more ambitious than any of her work with The Tanyas. Her palette expanded, Ford’s comforting voice – weaving easily from soothing jazz, smoky soul and somber country – brings new colors to light.

Obadiah has the spontaneous feel of a live performance full of honesty and heart, rich with stories about love, loss and life that unravel at their own colorful pace. Ford’s writing has matured, touching on subjects that come with experience of life’s ups and downs. Her long list of influences are an eclectic collection – Joni Mitchell, Bessie Smith, Al Green, Sean Hayes, Pauline Lamb, Prince, Ann Peebles and Joan Armatrading just to name a few.

A true teller of tales with an incomparable voice, Ford’s finest talent is her skill to take on the embodiment of her song’s characters. This is evident on the opening track “Firecracker,” where she’s a hard-drinker that talks to angels with an artful grin. On “Gospel Song,” she looks back on her family life through the eyes of country preacher. In a nod to one of her early inspirations, she covers Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee” and makes it her own.

This article was originally published in Eugene Weekly, December 2, 2010

03
Jan
11

I Owe You All…

…The Lost Snider Tapes

Photo by Todd Purifoy

Over a year ago I conducted two interviews with Todd Snider – one in January, 2009, and one more in May, 2009. I intended to write a interview/CD review article – based around the interviews – with hopes of getting it published in a national magazine. I sent query letters (sans the article) to a bunch of national publications, trying to get my foot in the big door only to find it locked (or maybe there were other writers leaning on the door from the inside). Then I got busy with other projects and pushed the Snider article to the back-burner – a couple months later my laptop crashed and the audio files of the interview were among the things lost.

BUT – guess what I just found on a flash drive buried at the back of my desk drawer? Apparently, at some time before the crash, I had a moment of clarity and good sense, and backed the audio files onto the flash drive – and then forgot I had backed them up.

So, my resolution to you all is that I’ll get them transcribed and up on my blog. That is, if you are still interested in reading them. The May, 2009 interview – that I’ll post first – has some very cool conversation about the (then) soon-to-be-released The Excitement Plan, Don Was, jail-time, wine, relationships, and some personal subjects that I promised Todd would be kept off the record – and they will stay that way. Since we talked for damn near an hour, that interview will have to be broken up into three or four parts (like I did with the Will Kimbrough interview).

The interview done in January, 2009 – that I’ll post after the May interview –  was a lot of fun too; We talked about his tour, living on the road, and his (then) upcoming Eugene, Oregon show. I’ll also share my experiences on the Todd Snider tour bus here in Eugene…

BUT FIRST – My wife, our dog Zack, and I have to pack up and move again at the end of January. You see, I got laid-off from my full-time job at OBEC Consulting Engineers in Eugene, Oregon over eight months ago and have had no luck finding full-time work here. I know that there’s a lot of that going around, I’m not the only one, so I won’t whine about it.

So I PROMISE, once we get settled in, sometime in February, I’ll get busy transcribing those Once-Lost Snider Tapes. Thanks for understanding. I hope your 2011 is better than your 2010!




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