Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Some of My Favorite Listening for 2013

WOUB Public Media once again asked me to reveal my favorite listening for the old year.
Here are some bits and pieces.

Sam has been pushing her own buttons and sliders since 2008 with consistently amazing results. T-Bone pushed em before that. This recording is the soundtrack of a few moods. I dig getting moody with Sam.
Current favorite track is the poppy When I'm Alone.

"Some guy in Bombay is running that press I used to hate. Now I sling hash for what all spills off the interstate" is my favorite line from the song "Where I Fell". The song is performed in such a whispered state that it gives Robbie's abrasive verbal jabs more power than ever. This isn't your typical Fulks, but then again, nothing ever is. Steve Albini again stays out of the way and produces a real sounding record. No percussion here and very little electric.

Being a songwritin' WV boy, I felt like I'd heard all the coal songs I needed, or I should say, I felt that the good ones were already penned. Keep Your Dirty Lights On, written by Scott and performed here changed my mind. Recorded mostly live in the studio with little to no overdubs. I heard just now that the song was nominated for a Grammy, but don't hold that against em.

THE MIDDLE RATS - The Middle Rats
What started out as a side project for Joey Hebdo and friends, turned out to be one great recording. These rats are hep cats. I caught them before my show at Donkey Coffee earlier this year as they were playing at Casa Nueva. Typical noisy cantina crowd, which always makes me feel somehow sad for the performers who play over it. The noise that is. I knew they were good live, but was unprepared for where the CD would take me as I was stuck on the DC beltway. Check out Instead She Let Me Go and compare it to this video and you'll get an idea of how diverse this recording is.

I don't like this recording because Paul is out there and still at it at 70. I think it is a really cool listen.
I understand some of the lyrics are improvised. I'm thinking these might be the best lyrics, but lyrics aside, I marvel at the endless supply of nutty great melodies that continue to come from this man.  The songs, Early Days and New, are tunes that both have Paul looking back. They are probably the weakest of the batch, but led me to the next recording on my list.

After New, I went "old". I'd never heard this whole album. Released in 1973 I believe. Band on the Run and Jet are worth the price of admission, but the rest of the recording is grand too. I'm 40 years behind on my listening. I envy those who will hear some of the classics for the first time.


I spent much if not most of my casual listening time celebrating Mountain Stage's 30th anniversary year by listening to many of their archived shows. So many of them are so great, but one in particular shines a light on what a classic program Mountain Stage really is. On Aug 6 1989 they recorded a program with John and Jamie Hartford, Rambling Jack Elliot, The McGarrigle Sisters and Tony Rice. The same archive has a bonus set of Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys recorded earlier that same year. A thrill through and through. Happy anniversary to Mountain Stage.

BIRTH OF A RADIO SHOW - Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective by Dave Mistich
The single most captivating hour of listening for me in 2013 would have to be this WV Public Radio piece by Dave Mistich. Mistich does a great job of telling us the story of Mountain Stage from their inception 30 years ago, to now. Many famous artists talk it up here, from Richard Thompson to Kathy Mattea and beyond.
Host, Larry Groce and past producer, Andy Ridenour tell their story as well as many others from the Mountain Stage staff, band and crew. There isn't much music at all on this podcast, but it is crucial listening for any fan of this world famous program, that I'm proud to say, is produced right here in the great state of West Virginia.

Andy Ridenour and Larry Groce

After Reed passed, I kept going back to this superb recording from 1991. He recorded a group of songs surrounding the passing of two of his close friends. Life's Good

Others off the top of my head

Blue Yonder - Bittersweet Road - John Lilly has a real way of making his new songs sound like classic county. Guitar champ Robert Shafer smokes all over this too.

Fields of Gettysburg by John A Walsh - Walsh churned out a great song cycle on the 150 anniversary of this notorious battle. Nothing hayseed here. Members of the Mountain Stage Band, Tim O'Brien, Colten Pack and more.


Superchunk - I Hate Music
Jason Isbell - Southeastern
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
Kurt Vile - Waking on a Pretty Daze
Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door
David Bowie - The Next Day

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