Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW pt. III: Wednesday March 12

Our intrepid reporter has been somewhat delayed by travel and technology, but has continued undaunted. Below is her report from her first show-filled day.

After spending numerous protracted coffee breaks trying to figure out the SXSW schedule, I finally hiked deep into the heart of No-Man’s Land — past the endless blocks of band parking, through a sea of Econoline vans and long-haired skinny-jeaned men lugging instrument cases — to The Echoplex SXSW Throwdown at Red 7. The bill featured a number of up-and-coming Los Angeles bands, but I only had ears for my new musical supercrush: Kan Wakan.

Determined to stake out a spot in front, I arrived early. But I needn’t have worried: Brandon the Swag Man still had a whole table full of free swag and the venue was far below capacity. Only a few hardcore festival-goers lingered in the courtyard, and I ran into singer Kristianne Bautista practically right away. She, too, was recovering from a fever and general travel fatigue, but was excited to meet a new fan. We chatted about her band’s rising fame while they set up, since a seven-piece act needs a little extra preparation.

Unfortunately, that extra work cut into their set time, and they went onstage with room for only four songs: one unreleased tune, the single “Forever Found”, and the two-song suite which closes their EP. And they delivered those four songs with total ease and confidence. It takes some heavy stones to play a twelve-minute orchestral piece in front of a handful of hungover stragglers at an afternoon showcase during a festival, and Kan Wakan simply threw down like it was no big deal. Bautista has an impeccable cool that makes her deep, rich voice roll like an ocean, while her band radiates technical proficiency and casual charisma. Show photographers take note, you will enjoy this band, because every single member is camera-savvy and has unpretentious stage presence.

Short as their set was, it flowed effortlessly and felt perfectly timed, like a miniature release party played live. The sound struck a sweet spot of relaxed intricacy, one that could resonate with serious fans as well as first-time listeners who were riding out a pot-and-alcohol haze. The suite wrapped up on a satisfying note, like a calling card tucked into a hand-picked bouquet, and the band amiably went on to the next gig like it was any other day in their lives. I mentally gave them eighteen months to become front-page famous, twelve-minute instrumental suite and all.

With that excellent start, I set off to Cheer Up Charlie’s, hoping to catch mr. Gnome and Jessica Lea Mayfield in one stop. To my dismay, the schedule had been updated and mr. Gnome’s set bumped up an hour; they were just wrapping up as I arrived.

Luckily Cheer Up’s is probably the most perfect SXSW venue for aimlessly hanging out, so I grabbed a cup of complimentary water and compared schedules with fellow showgoers — one of whom happened to be Nikki Kvarnes of Those Darlins. Jessi “Darlin'” Zazu and Charli XCX also happened by at the same time, so it felt like fate.

During that time, the courtyard slowly filled out until the house stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Those Darlins went on at 4, much to everyone’s delight. They growled and swaggered and laid down countryfied hair-metal-inspired garage rock for a solid forty-five minutes, part of which I spent in line for the restroom. By the time I came back, the cock rock had passed back into male hands and Adrian Barrera had the mic, which just didn’t have the same appeal.

If Those Darlins had a great turnout, Jessica Lea Mayfield did them just a little better, packing the courtyard from edge to edge. I grabbed a spot in front, just in time. She went on at 5, rocking a pair of glittery gold Martens and looking more like a Kurt/Courtney hybrid than Frances Bean currently does. Anyone deceived by Mayfield’s sparkly pink Gretsch and the kitty stickers on her pedals was quickly put right, since she laid immediately into a hard and heavy set. I stood directly in front of her, beside the central speakers, and it became quite clear why she titled her new record Make My Head Sing … : that shit will make you dizzy, in a good way.

The new, toothier treatment might be too strong to suit some of her earlier fans, but I felt it improved tracks from 2011’s Tell Me. Her band during that period was a very capable country-rock ensemble, but her current outfit has leveled up: she’s wisely eliminated a second guitarist and streamlined down to an extremely capable rhythm section, which highlights her own guitar prowess. Though she is clearly aiming for a spot in the neo-grunge pantheon, her voice is so sweetly emotive that she can never quite achieve true deadpan — which is for the better, since she can convey all the simmering resentment and barely-contained restlessness needed to layer her material with more than mere ennui or existential angst. I left impressed, my ears still swimming.

My day ended with back-to-back Doe Paoro shows, first at Banger’s Sausage House for a Dickies’ Roadhouse showcase. The band was sound-checking as I arrived, providing a pre-show teaser for the line forming outside. Although the venue did host Biebs earlier that week, they provided free gourmet sausages and a well-stocked green room trailer for talent, which slightly redeemed their karma. Talent was abundant, as well: after soundcheck, cellist and producer Yuri Hart gushed about crossing paths with Polica‘s Channy Leaneagh.

Despite taking stage while the venue’s barbecue was still heating up, Doe Paoro captivated the gathering dinner crowd. Singer Sonia Krietzer’s nimble vocals, influenced by both R&B and Tibetan opera, were rounded out by Hart on cello and keys, Tatiana Kochkareva on moog and vocoder, David Lizmi (fresh from touring with MS MR) providing bass and additional keyboard, and Chris Berry on both electronic and analog drums. Their sound was big but not overwhelming, fresh but not brassy; Krietzer tends to open shows by beckoning the audience closer, and this group didn’t hesitate. People danced and enthusiastically made iPhone videos, then talked praise after the set.

Because many downtown Austin streets were closed to auto traffic, I grabbed a keyboard case and trekked with the band on foot to the next gig. Although navigating South By Southwest crowds can be a chore even without gear, we managed to arrive at the aptly-named Holy Mountain by sheer force of will (and the people-parting powers of Hart’s cello).

Immediately upon entering the large tented courtyard, my equilibrium shifted. Until the following band mentioned the gig’s strange lighting, I thought I was having an acid flashback. Therefore, my observations of Doe’s set were slightly blue-tinged and wobbly, but I did notice the crowd having a great time; a drunk guy at the rail had an especially good experience and even seemed to know all the words. Krietzer had been worried about the logistics of singing two nearly back-to-back sets, but her voice — and characteristically dynamic stage presence — stood up perfectly to the test. Strange lighting only made it more memorable.

After the set ended, the band packed up, and I caught a licensed photographer sneaking my picture, I decided that “exhausted daze” was a bad look and headed home. The streets were full of more drunk people, most of them venue-hopping, some of them standing in groups to discuss intense interpersonal dramas; the pavement was strewn with empty bottles and discarded flyers, the city’s party not even close to winding down.

A few hours later and a few blocks away, a drunk driver would plow past police and through the traffic barricades into the crowd; four people would lose their lives and dozens more would be injured. But at the time I went home, the boogie was still swinging at full tilt strength and no one knew it would be anyone’s last.

– Joy/@paleotrees

Founder of Living Blues Needs Your Help


An important dispatch from Rick Saunders:

JiM O’NEAL (second from the left in the above photo) – Founder of Living Blues Magazine & Rooster Blues Records Has Cancer and No Insurance. Please Help!

Jim O’Neal, the founder of Living Blues Magazine and the late great Rooster Blues Records has been diagnosed with Lymph cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. Like so many in the music industry, and blues in particular, Mr. O’Neal does not have insurance. You can help Mr. O’Neal and his family by sending a donation and helping to spread the word. It’s good karma, baby!

A fund has been set up at Commerce Bank in Kansas City.

Checks may be sent to:

Jim O’Neal Blues Fund
P.O. Box 10334
Kansas City, MO 64171.

You can also donate at to the account “”.

Of course, musicians being who they are are always quick to help their own and a series of benefit shows are being arranged. If you live near any of these locations please show up for a night of great music for an even greater cause. The good that Jim O’Neal done for blues music and musicians can hardly be repaid. But here is your opportunity to try.


OCT. 20, 2011
With Memphis Gold and others

OCT. 28, 2011
Kenny Neal, Memphis Gold and others

NOV. 19, 2011(date is tentative)
Kenny Neal, Memphis Gold, Eddie Clearwater, Eddie Shaw, Billy Branch, Elmore James Jr., Nora Jean Bruso and others

For further details and confirmations of time and artists, please check

photo: Panny Flautt Mayfield

Now Read This: Deep Blues by Robert Palmer


My co-blogger and I are both tremendous consumers of books as well as of music. Naturally, we also read books about music, and you’ve seen a few examples of that sneak in here and there – Jennifer’s review of Keith Richards’ Life, my write-up of B-Sides and Broken Hearts by Caryn Rose, and the recent blurb about Put the Needle on the Record by Matthew Chojnacki – and there are more to come. To that end, we introduce Now Read This, where we’ll write about music-related books that we get our grubby, grabby hands on.

To inaugurate our new title tag, I am very pleased to present a review of Deep Blues by renowned music journalist/musician Robert Palmer (not that Robert Palmer) from the man who thought of our clever new tag, kick-ass friend of NTSIB, Rick Saunders. (If’n you don’t know, Rick is the commander of his own wonderful blog, also known as Deep Blues. He is the only person I know who can consistently recommend music to my idiosyncratic self, so if you like what I write about here, you’re going to love Rick’s blog.)



“Anybody singing the blues is in a deep pit telling for help.” – Mahalia Jackson

“The blues ain’t nothin’ but a good woman feelin’ bad. You got a good woman, she ain’t feelin’ good, get her to feelin’ good. Say amen, somebody.” -Rev. Thomas A Dorsey aka Georgia Tom

The blues is the high loud Yop! The Om. The first cosmic sound. It’s a cry in the wilderness. The human or bestial wail. Which is worse? The baby about to be born or the man about to be hung? Ain’t that the blues? Rockabilly guitarist Charlie Feathers said of Mississippi hill country blues master Junior Kimbrough “The beginning and end of all music.” So, too, is blues music.

From our earliest known history in Africa, every society has had its blues. As we spread across the earth we brought our blues, and those blues mixed with the blues of others. Delta blues, country blues, gypsy blues, Tuvan blues, British blues, Piedmont blues, Chicago, St. Louis, Mississippi, Louisiana blues. They all retain the root. The human condition and the music it brings forth, the deep blues.

Robert Palmer weaves not only the raw history of the Delta blues – the who, what, when, where and why of the blues – but more importantly, the human story behind the music. With Delta blues great Muddy Waters as his protagonist, Palmer breathes new life to the Delta blues story.

We follow Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) from a rude Mississippi shack on the Stoval Plantation where he drove a tractor for twenty-two and a half cents an hour to a solid two-story brick home in Chicago and life as not only a living legend, but one of the most important progenitors of Delta Blues music.

As we follow, Palmer introduces us to the blues high society, the aristocracy, if you will. Names like Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Son House, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Sonny Boy Williamson, as well as their aliases. Palmer shows us and helps us to understand how they lived and spares few details. Perhaps more importantly, Palmer explains the worldwide importance of Delta blues music.

The way we play guitar, the use of a metal tube, glass bottleneck or even a steak bone to slide across the guitar’s neck by Delta musicians like Muddy Waters, R.L. Burnside, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Elmore James and countless others set the tone for later hard rock and heavy metal groups. The use of distortion and feedback to augment the sound, again now commonly used worldwide, stems from Delta blues, which, of course, stems from Africa and the buzzing of the strings on the one-string precursor to the banjo and the rattle of crude drums. As Palmer explains, it was Delta musicians that first put feedback and distortion to use, now these techniques are wholly common and put to use worldwide. Both techniques bring a sound to life that emulates crying, the tears of the broken-hearted and oppressed. That’s the soul of the blues.

The piano, too, gained a terrific boost from the innovation of Delta blues artists like Roosevelt Sykes and Muddy Waters’ accompanist Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins. Their percussive, boogie-woogie style of piano playing, with its infectious, driving, rollicking sound, brought the piano boogie out of the Delta’s juke joints and spread it throughout the world, influencing generations of pianists.

Our language contains common words like jive, hip, hip cat, banjo, and more, all sourced from the Wolof people of the Senegal and Gambian or Senegambian coast, a favored slave trading region. The way we sing, too, stems from Delta blues. The use of call and response, a common technique in musical styles as varied as blues, gospel, rap, old timey country, and instrumental jazz, as well, finds its roots in Africa and the slave trade.

The lowly one-string diddley bow, now in a resurgence of popularity, along with the cigar box guitar, originated in the Delta region. The diddley bow, often built by removing and tacking the wire that holds a straw broom together to the side of a house and using a glass bottleneck, heated over a flame to smooth its jagged edges, for a slide, was the starting point for many Delta would-be guitarists. Artists such as Charlie Christian, Robert Pete Williams, Albert King, Big Bill Broonzy, Carl Perkins and countless others from the region started out on simple, homemade cigar box guitars. Made from a box that once held cigars, one could easily attach a length of scrap wood for a neck, a couple eyebolts for tuning pegs and one to four strings, and you’d have yourself a very inexpensive but great-sounding guitar.

Blues is the sound of poverty, the sound of oppression, the sound of heartache. Robert Palmer referred to it as music “created by not just black people but by the poorest, most marginal black people” who “could neither read nor write…owned almost nothing and lived in virtual serfdom”. But it can also be the sound of joy, the sound of making love and raising hell on Saturday night, and the sound of redemption come Sunday morning. Although, as Palmer points out, the blues and those who trade in it have almost always been looked down upon. “If you asked a black preacher…or faithful churchgoer what kind of people played and listened to blues, they would tell you, ‘cornfield niggers’.” This is an attitude that, in spite of a long history of deeply gospel-infected blues music by the likes of Blind Willie Johnson, Roebuck “Pops” Staples (a contemporary of Charley Patton’s on the Dockery Farms Plantation), Sister Rosetta Tharp, and others, continues to this day. For example, St. Louis record label Broke and Hungry Records has an artist on its roster that calls himself The Masked Marvel. He allows no pictures, and his name is unknown but to label boss Jeff Konkel, because he’s a deacon in his church and fears repercussions for playing the blues.

Robert Palmer’s use of Muddy Waters as protagonist was a perfect choice. Out of all the characters Palmer had to choose from, it’s Waters that best represents the history of Delta blues. From his humble beginnings in Mississippi to worldwide stardom and legendary acclaim, no Delta blues artist, save perhaps B.B. King (Waters’ junior by 12 years), has achieved so much. The main difference between the two, and between Waters’ and all others: Muddy Waters did it first. Now, that’s not to say he was the first Delta bluesman to play slide, or go electric, but what Waters did do is lay the template for those that followed. He proved that Delta blues could go national, and beyond. He set the groundwork for what Palmer, and now current groups like The North Mississippi Allstars, calls, “the world boogie”.

As Palmer writes, “Muddy adapted to survive”. By changing his song and lyrical style, and adopting a tougher approach to an already often tough-sounding music, he not only transformed himself into a more commercially-marketable personality, via songs like “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “Natural Born Lover”, “All Night Long”, “Mannish Boy” and others, Waters appeared as the man men wanted to be and the man the ladies wanted to be with. It was that harder, sexier sound, followed by the feral blues of Howlin’ Wolf, the fascinating rhythmic mashup of the Bo Diddley beat – part call and response field holler, part Illinois Central train rhythm (the train from Mississippi to Chicago) – that opened the door wide for the new sound, for better or worse, of rock and roll.

Robert Palmer, in one slim, two hundred and seventy-seven page volume, captured the stark reality of the Delta blues, the depth of its history and the story of its people in a way that had not been done before. Certainly there have been numerous other volumes published on the history of African-American music, but one would be hard pressed to find one with as much emotional sensitivity, attention to detail and historical and cultural depth as Deep Blues. Palmer writes, “How much thought … can be hidden in a few short lines of poetry? How much history can be transmitted by pressure on a guitar string?” Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues represents well “The thought of generations, the history of every human being who’s ever felt the blues come down like showers of rain”.

Austin Lucas at Blue Moon Café, Shepherdstown, WV, 8.26.11

Happy to have another guest post from the lovely and talented Michelle Evans (Dear Ben Nichols, The Vinyl District: Washington, D.C.), this time a live review of Austin Lucas and the Bold Party.



I discovered Austin Lucas a couple years ago, but I had yet to see him live. When I heard he was going to be at the intimately set Blue Moon Café in Shepherdstown, WV, with his brilliantly talented back-up band The Bold Party and opening acts Matt Kline (of The Fox Hunt) and Marcellus Hall (from Brooklyn), I packed up my ’89 Honda Accord (with pop-up headlights!) for a road-trip north to see some awesome music (oh, and my sister too).

I am very much a voice and lyrics person. I often say that if I can’t understand what someone is singing, I’m not likely to be very interested in what the singer has to say (although there are, of course, exceptions). While initially drawn by the overall tone and sorrowful beauty of Lucas’ voice, I came to find bluegrass, country (the real kind), mountain, and Old Time influences in his music – some of my favorite genres. But that’s not all I found. On his new full-length album, A New Home in the Old World, Lucas has employed the use of electric guitar, as can be heard on one of my new favorite songs by him, “Thunder Rail.” Some of my other favorite songs he performed that night included “Somebody Loves You,” “Go West” (below), and “Wash My Sins Away” (also below), all of which can be found on both Somebody Loves You and Live from the White Water Tavern.

Austin Lucas is by and large one of the alt-country genre’s unsung heroes. He not only has a beautiful, soulful voice that propels along a story, but a knack for constructing and writing songs that are both emotive and smart.

Recently coming off a tour with Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown, Austin Lucas is currently headlining a tour with The Bold Party as well as touring as support for the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. If Lucas is performing within a few hours radius of where you live, see him (and definitely see him with The Bold Party, if you can). It won’t be long before he’ll move from intimate saloon settings to theaters, and you’ll regret not seeing him when.


Austin Lucas - Go West @ The BlueMoon Saloone 08/26/11


Austin Lucas - Wash My Sins Away @ The BlueMoon Saloone 08/26/11


Austin Lucas - Wild Boar @ The BlueMoon Saloone 08/26/11


Austin Lucas Official Website

Austin Lucas @ Reverb Nation

Austin Lucas @ Facebook

Diamond Doves, Brooklyn Bowl, 8.19.11: “We Always Want People To Dance”


NTSIB friend and cohort Joy Wagner kindly offered this sweet little interview/show review to us and the good dudes at Citizen Dick. Check out Diamond Doves’ music at their MySpace (and then entreat them to get off of MySpace).



The odds are good that, if you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ve already heard of the Diamond Doves. They’ve backed up and opened for several popular acts: A.A. Bondy, The Felice Brothers, Elvis Perkins. In fact, they were Dearland, as in “Elvis Perkins In.”

These days, they’ve struck out on their own, but they’re not trying to ride any coattails. The Doves are doing this all themselves.

“With our band, we’re trying to break every rule we set for ourselves [in the previous band],” says Wyndham Garnett (guitar, trombone, vocals).

Brigham Brough (bass, vocals, saxophone) agrees. “Our past material taught us what we’re capable of and what we wanted to do. But we’re trying less to build off of that platform than to create anew.”

Which isn’t to say that they’re arrogant — just that they’ve learned from experience. Nick Kinsey (drums, clarinet, vocals) maintains “We’ve hit the ground running.”

And indeed, in the space of a few months, they seem to have picked a direction and headed for it full bore. In April, when I last saw them, they were playing upbeat, catchy, and well-orchestrated but fairly mild tunes: solidly enjoyable opening-band material. Between then and August, however, they’ve shifted into floor-shaking, guitar-driven indie rock that can convince even a notoriously apathetic Williamsburg hipster crowd to dance.

Garnett attributes this to the album they’ve been recording. “We’ve been working our ass off to make the new record and we want everyone to hear it.”

“We always want people to dance,” says Brough. “We want to write good songs and make good music. [Within the band] we want to inspire and challenge each other.”

Which seems to be working out pretty well. Their songwriting method is democratic, with each band member contributing his part and allowing the others to fill in theirs. Each takes his turn at singing, while Brough and Garnett often trade instruments onstage. Each has his own distinctive sound, and there is no clear frontman in the typical sense of the word.

Brough acknowledges that this approach is both “our biggest strength and our biggest weakness,” and that it keeps them on their toes.

Garnett asserts that with his contributions, “I want to impress my homeboys and give them something good to play.”

“Our energy ties it together,” says Kinsey, adding that the trio’s longtime friendship has given them a significant nonverbal connection. And indeed, their democratic interactions carry over off the stage. When I caught up with them after their set, they were affable, personable, visiting with friends and chatting over a shared plate of chicken wings. They have a habit of contributing to and even finishing one another’s sentences. The Diamond Doves are just three friends who are also in a band, making music they want everyone to check out.

“We speak music to each other,” Garnett explains, and I readily believe that.

After the chicken wings had vanished, the trio went outside to watch the other bands on the bill and catch up with Elvis Perkins, who’d offered a supportive presence; I sat in the lobby organizing my notes. A young man sharing the sofa explained that he’d journeyed all the way from Pennsylvania to hear the headlining act, and asking what I had come for. When I told him, he frowned in thought for a moment.

“The Diamond Doves, were they the first act?” He paused, then grinned. “They were fucken awesome.”

Between that and the dancing hipsters, I think this is a good sign.


Diamond Doves opening for the Felice Brothers, Club Helsinki, Hudson, NY, 3.26.11

A Conversation with Austin Lucas, Part II

NTSIB friend Michelle Evans (Dear Ben Nichols, The Vinyl District: Washington, D.C.) concludes her conversation with Austin Lucas. If you’re in Seattle, you can catch both Austin and Drag the River this Friday at SoundFest



It seems both Austin Lucas and I are quite the chatty pair, which is great for y’all, because we discuss the country music scene, Lucero, Cory Branan, and everything in between.

So what are your thoughts on country music?

I listen to a lot of country radio. I appreciate the songwriting, even though most people hate the songwriting, but I listen to it, and I’m like, “This is so catchy. This person is such a clever, intelligent songwriter.” What a lot of people don’t understand about pop music, in order for something to stay with someone after hearing it one time, it has to be extremely catchy. The average music listener isn’t really a music fan. They want image. They want to lust after somebody who’s a star. So the thing is, if you don’t reel them in with a really, really catchy hook, they’re not interested. Trust me, writing really, really dumb and catchy stuff is a lot harder than you think. There’s a certain amount of genius that goes into doing that. A lot of people are hateful towards pop music and very spiteful, and the way I feel about it is, it’s there, but you don’t have to pay attention to it or give money to it, and maybe spend less time being upset about that stuff and more time discovering bands that are worth giving money to and are great. On the other hand, as a songwriter, I just respect the fact that people can do that. And, I mean, who are we kidding? Everyone likes a certain amount of that stuff.

Yeah, there seems to be some pretentiousness out there with certain groups of people regarding pop music or music on mainstream radio.

Yeah, it’s like this pretentiousness exists in people to be nit-picky. When I was young, and I think when everyone’s young, and we’re first exposed to music, everything they hear, they like, pretty much. I used to see the shittiest bands just because they were local and they played kind of the style that I liked. Any band that came on tour, I would go see. Anything I could get into at the all-ages clubs, I’d see. Or a house show, I was there. I would just sit in the record store and be that annoying guy asking what’s good. The point that I’m getting at is that as we get older, we get so pretentious. Our tastes get refined, and we learn to be pretentious, because everyone else is pretentious. I’m guilty of it too. We all are at some point, but the truth is, I feel like I have to have an opinion about all the music out there, even if I don’t really care either way about it. I hate the fact that I’m like that – that I’m the way that I hate how people are.

You just came off Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown. What were some of the highlights?

Everything was a highlight at the Throwdown, but I think that the biggest highlight was probably the first night that I went on stage and sang with Willie Nelson. I just remember how it felt. It’s weird. I did it seven times. I was definitely counting, because that’s what you do when something that spectacular is happening to you. But the first time that I did it, it was in Arkansas, and Travis from Last chance Records – my record label boss – was there as well as my wife, so it was so cool to run out on stage and be like, “I’m doing this, and these people that I care about are here!” And I looked over, and Willie Nelson’s there, and I swear to god, and everyone told me I was crazy, but I swear he looked over at me with a look that said, “What the fuck is this fucking freak dude doing on the fucking stage right now?” [laughs] I mean, because for the first week of that tour – and this is no joke – everybody thought that I was on the crew, because it’s Warped Tour personnel, so all the stage managers and lighting people and tour managers are all punks and all tattooed, so everyone just assumed that I was part of that menagerie of the circus. It took a long time before everyone realized I was a performer.

Did that make you feel extra special?

Well, it made me feel very special in a lot of ways, but it also made me feel like an outsider, which I was. The people I performed with were great, but there were press people specifically who had no desire to talk to me and who were talking down to me. They’d cut interviews short or say really rude things to me like, “So you’re not part of the country music scene.” And I was like, “Actually, I’m part of the alternative country scene which most people would probably argue is more like country music than the country music you’re talking about,” and he countered with, “Well, you’re not in Nashville. You’re not going to be on the radio,” and I’d just be like, “Yup. That’s true.” I dunno, it was funny for me, because I don’t take things that seriously, so I would just make jokes about it usually. There were some really nice press people too, though, who saw me as a good story. You know, the guy who’s not from Nashville and who doesn’t live in Nashville and not part of the corporate country music establishment, and yet I still have a career, and I’ve toured Europe, so a lot of the people from the press were excited to talk to me. It was just kind of a mixed bag, and I really just thought it was all funny. What was really funny is that I always get that I’m “too country” in the punk world, so it was funny going into the country world and be told I’m not “country enough.” [laughs]

You started out in the crust-punk scene with your band Guided Cradle, which is as metal as punk can get, and now you play folk/country music. I’m interested to know who some of the bands are whom you admire or of whom you are a fan.

Well, one of the bands is Lucero. And I know a lot of people love Lucero, and I know a lot of people hate Lucero, but the truth is – and I don’t think there’s anybody who would disagree with this on either side – but Lucero really were a game-changer. They fought to become as popular as they are, and that’s probably why they’re going to be popular until they decide to call it quits or until they die. Every single fucking fan that they ever had, they had to fight for. They won them by constant fucking touring. You know, they were playing country music in a scene [the punk scene] that was totally not interested in it, and in a lot of ways, made people interested in it. I think that a lot of the interest that happened in country music and roots music in the 2000s happened as a result of Lucero hitting the scene and working their ass off. I mean, there are a lot of other factors, but I think they are a very heavily influential band and a very important band, and if someone who’s not a dick writes a book about the scene one day, if they don’t give Lucero all those props, then they’re leaving them out because they personally have a pretentious idea of what is and what isn’t important. Them and Drag the River, actually, are both important.

Anyone else?

Cory Branan is another one. He is probably the best songwriter of my peers. And I don’t think that – I know that that’s true. The guy is a fucking genius. He’s a great performer. I hold him in such a high regard. He’s definitely one of the genre’s unsung heroes.

Last but not least, tell me about your current tour.

The first two weeks are just headline shows with my back-up band, The Bold Party. Then we’re main support on tour with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band who is from Brown County in Indiana, right next to Monroe County, which is where Bloomington is, which is where I’m from. They have a lot of days off, so the days off are going to be filled with more headline shows. Basically, it’s half a support tour and half a headline tour. It’s gonna be awesome, because I’m going to be out with people from my home turf.




Austin Lucas Official Website

Austin Lucas @ Facebook

Austin Lucas @ Twitter

A Conversation with Austin Lucas, Part I

We continue our interviews from good NTSIB friend Michelle Evans (of Dear Ben Nichols and The Vinyl District: Washington, D.C.) with the first part of her chat with the lovely Mr. Austin Lucas. Check out Austin, Drag the River and many more at SoundFest in Seattle, which starts today and runs through Sunday.



I was able to catch up with Austin Lucas just after his tour with Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown. We talked about punk rock. We talked about bluegrass. We talked about the music industry. We talked so much, in fact, that we’re splitting his interview over today and tomorrow, when we’ll resume talking about things like his current tour with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, his experience with the Country Throwdown, and Cory mother-fuckin’ Branan.

I’m of the ilk that while I want the people I love making music to do well and sell records, I wouldn’t wish fame on anyone. It just seems like the worst fate imaginable to me (but that’s just me). One of the things I appreciate most about you is your accessibility. Is that something you make a point of doing?

Sometimes I feel like when I’m doing a show, I’m there to see the people at the show and not the other way around. I try to be as open and interactive with my fans as possible, personally. The thing is, it’s not like any of us are famous, you know. I mean, some of us more than others. But even if you go see the stuff that you love in an up to 500 capacity venue, and even if it is sold out, that’s 500 people in that town, and if you think about what it’s actually like to be famous, it’s like being in awe. I mean, being at this level allows a certain amount of interaction, and that’s a beautiful thing about it. You can still be interactive, and you can actually become friends with the people who listen to your music rather than have just a bunch of nameless faces that are buying your product.

Though buying your product is great. You deserve to make a living doing something you love. Some people hold a viewpoint that opposes that, and I don’t understand where that comes from.

I think there are a lot of people who frown upon it. I don’t personally care for those folks, especially the band folks that pretend that’s not what they want and kind of cast off people the more popular they get. That’s always been something that’s really bothered me personally. You know, everyone wants to be popular, and everyone’s gonna ride it as far as it’ll take them. I mean, not everyone wants to be mega-famous, but people want fans at their shows. I mean, it’s depressing to show up in a town and have nobody there. Absolutely nobody fucking wants that, and, you know, I think that it’s a really interesting dichotomy that, like, it’s okay of 200 people come and see you, but it’s not okay if 500 people come and see you, or it’s not okay if a thousand people come and see you?

I’m not gonna lie. As a fan, do I love it when I go to a show, and there are only, say, five other people there? Sure. Yeah, that totally rocks for me, but I understand that it may not necessarily rock for the band trying to make a living.

I mean, it can be really, really fun, depending on the situation, but if you’re talking about making a living and the repercussions of there only being six people at a show, there’s more going on than a lot of people think about. There’s the fact that you’re probably making less money or making no money, and there’s a guarantee, and there’s a promoter, and they lost a bunch of money on it. The odds of them doing another show for you go down dramatically. Also, the odds of other promoters doing a show for you also go down dramatically. Trust me, I know, because that’s my life.

So how did you start playing music?

I’m naturally a very lazy human being, which is why I’m a musician in a lot of ways. You know, because I had no interest in going to school, and it was the only thing I was naturally, predisposed to being good at, and I’d already been playing music my whole life, since I was a little child, so I just kind of fell into it. It was kind of, like, well, what can I do that requires the minimal amount of effort with the most payback? All right, well, I’ll play music. I’m gonna keep doing that. It’s fun, and I was always good at it. I mean, maybe not the greatest in the world or anything like that, but it was something I was always decent at.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the bluegrass influence in your music.

Well, I’m definitely not at all real bluegrass. I mean, I definitely have bluegrass influences and stuff like that, but as a genre, serious bluegrass fans would definitely not call me bluegrass. The only people who ever do are people who don’t really know but maybe hear the banjos and the fiddles and call it bluegrass. Bluegrass is a very, very specific style of music, and I might utilize a lot of the motifs that are involved, and I’m definitely very heavily influenced by bluegrass, but more honestly by mountain music. That’s really more of what inspires me, at least for my first several records.

That’s true, which is why I said “influence.” [laughs]

I’m used to people calling me bluegrass, and I’m always like “uh-uh”. For me, I’m just immediately like, “Nope.” Honestly, I like to educate people musically, which is why if somebody asks me what I do, I always say, “I’m a folk singer,” or “I’m a country singer.” I consider all of it to be folk music, truthfully. I consider everything that’s made by people that aren’t fucking, like, ridiculously wealthy to be folk music. [laughs] And I know that’s, like, a poor dude being biased against rich people, which admittedly, I kind of am. [laughs]

So I’m curious then, how did you find punk rock?

I’m from southern Indiana. We had a rock station that back in the 80s and 90s played what we consider to be classic rock now, but they were pretty diverse. They had a radio show on Thursday nights called “Brave New World”, and it was all punk and all alternative, college rock stuff. I’m from Bloomington, which is a university town, and I grew up about six miles outside of the city in the woods, but the county seat is Bloomington, so I’m going to school there and going to shows and stuff like that. We have record stores. I was very lucky in that regard. I mean, our record store may not have carried everything, but it carried enough to give me a pretty good musical education as far as stuff outside of what was on the radio. I also have an older brother seven years older than me, and he was into punk, so that’s how I got into it. The first shows that I went to were scary. You didn’t know what was gonna happen. There was always crazy fights, and being 12 years old and seeing a circle pit and trying to get in it is pretty intense. [laughs]




Austin Lucas Official Website

Austin Lucas @ Facebook

Austin Lucas @ Twitter

A Conversation with Jon Snodgrass of Drag the River


NTSIB’s dear friend Michelle Evans of Dear Ben Nichols and The Vinyl District: Washington, D.C. has graciously allowed us to share her recent interviews with Jon Snodgrass of Drag the River and, tomorrow, the lovely Mr. Austin Lucas. Catch both gentlemen at SoundFest in Seattle, Washington, August 17-21.



Drag the River have been one of my favorite bands for quite some time, so imagine how stoked I was to hear they are selling their albums in a “Pay What You Can” style. On top of that, they’re back on tour and joining the likes of Lucero, Austin Lucas, and Larry & His Flask at this year’s SoundFest in Seattle. Catch ’em while you can.

So what made you decide to sell the entire Drag the River catalog in a “Pay What You Can” style?

To be honest with you, the only jobs I ever had, ya know, that I never got fired from, were record stores for years – two or three different ones – and it always seemed weird to me, CDs cost $13.99, $15.99, but once it gets unwrapped and comes back, ya know, records are only worth the music that’s on them. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself right.

I know what you mean. I’ve sold back CDs that I’ve paid $15-$20.00 for, and I’m getting, like two bucks for them, because maybe it wasn’t the most stellar CD, but if you’re selling back Jawbreaker, for instance, or Lucero’s Tennessee, which is out of print, ya know, you can get mad money for those.

Exactly. Speaking of which, I gotta signed copy of that record.

Jealous! I’ve got Tennessee on vinyl, but it’s not signed. I’ll have to work on that. So you were saying…

Oh yeah… It’s just people have different amounts of money, and I’m fine with whatever, and all those records that we made, that we’re putting up right now, they’re in the black. I’m not saying we made a lot of money off them, but I mean, we don’t owe money on them. Everything’s done, so we can afford to do that, and I see what everyone pays, and I’m fine with every amount that comes through. I mean, it’s a wide difference. People give what they can. Bands don’t really get paid that much on their records, so it all works out, and we’re gonna use that money to make our next record. We have to pay for our own records. We have to pay our own way.

And you’ve done that all along?

We haven’t done it all along. I mean, we’ve done it a lot. We’ve done it to a degree, and we’ve definitely done it more than a lot of people, probably. There are definitely some records we’ve tried to do it with, and then it got to the point where it just got a little too expensive, and then there would be record labels that we’d be working with that were always there ready to pay.

Do you find that there’s more artistic freedom when you pay for it yourself?

No, it’s just the sense of pride of owning your own thing and doing it yourself and not having to ask anyone for money, and just doing it. It’s mainly that and also legally, it’s just your stuff, and no one can ever claim it. We’ve been doing this a long time and know how things are supposed to be done, so it’s easier if we just pay for it ourselves too. And it’s weird, ya know, sometimes what you spend almost nothing on ends up being the best. Ya know, sometimes you end up using that demo you made for some song that you ended up spending thousands of dollars to record, and it’s like, I know we wasted a lot of studio time on this, but I like this one, and I know it’s out of tune, and I know I sang that really bad right there, but I don’t care. I like this one better, because it has the heart. But then there’s the vice versa too. That happens too. Ya never know, you just gotta be open.

Will you be recording the songs from the 2010 Demons?

We’re gonna do some of them. I think we’re gonna do “History with History.” We’re gonna do “Here’s to the Losers.” Ya know, Chad and I write alone a lot, but these songs are more collaborative. Some of them, like “Here’s to the Losers,” have been sitting around for five years and just needed a bridge and then were ready to go.

So you’re from Missouri, which surprised me, because I don’t feel like you sound like you’re from there. Sometimes you sound very Southern.

It’s funny you say that, because some people – and I’ve read this before – but some people think in the Americana genre that, like, we’re pretending – that we’re not really Americana. It’s not something I come across all the time, but I’ve heard it before, and I’m like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” [laughs] It’s like, why would I pretend to be something that doesn’t make money? But nowadays, there are people trying to make music like we make music, but we’ve been doing it a long time. We started recording our first Drag the River songs in 1996.

I think one of the things that make Drag the River unique are your vocals. Both you and Chad have very distinctive voices. I also care a lot about lyrics. If I can’t understand the words being sung, I don’t usually stick around to hear the message.

Yeah, I think that’s what we got going. Me and Chad work really good together. It’s funny. I used to not care about lyrics. I cared about melody more than lyrics a long time ago, before I made records. I didn’t care as much in the beginning, but I care more about lyrics every year. It’s more and more important to me.

So when can we listen to those beautiful voices live then?

Our show page is finally up on We’re coming east and going to Canada and all kinds of other places August through November, and we’re playing SoundFest in Seattle.

How do y’all do in Canada?

It goes pretty good. It’s kind of weird, ya know. It’s sort of like being in a different country. [laughs] Honestly, I love it up there. It’s great. We’ve just slacked in the United States forever. We don’t even try, but up there and in Europe, it’s a totally different game. We actually do things like radio interviews, which here, we don’t hustle for things anymore. We have a very “take it or leave it” attitude about everything we do. We try not to over-do anything.




Drag the River Official Website

Drag the River @ Bandcamp

Drag the River @ Facebook

SoundFest Official Website

The Dead Exs at the Bowery Electric, New York City, NY, 6.8.11


We’re very pleased to have a guest review from our good friend @Popa2unes.



The Dead Exs release their CD – Resurrection, and it’s a party!

By @Popa2unes and DJ Knucklehead

Photos courtesy Kristin Viens


We wandered into the Bowery Electric and walked down the steep steps to the basement with water pouring down the pealing brick walls from the torrential downpour taking place outside. Large chrome lights dangled from the high black ceilings; it was dark, dank and perfect for what was about to take place: raw, fuzzy roots rock and blues. “The Dead Exs CD release Party.” We found a seat on one of the large Group W benches that surrounded the stage, and planted ourselves. There was a nice size, enthusiastic crowd Hipnik’s, Hipsters, Rockers, Hobohemians and an abundance of beautiful women. I love NYC.

Bang Bang Boogaloo recording artists, The Dead Exs are David Pattillo (henceforth DP) on electric slide guitar and vocals with Wylie Wirth on the skins.



The Dead Exs bring a multitude of influences to their music from Albert King to ZZ Top. Every song seems to have a bluesy familiarity to it, but is original in its writing, delivery and style; it’s just good ole Rock n Blues and I love it. Their live performance is like being invited into their home for a night of hanging around with friends.

They started the show with “Whole Lot of Nothing” with DP alone on the stage with his axe, working slow and steady building up to a powerful crescendo that brought everyone to full attention and the ladies out onto the dance floor. Then BAM! Out of nowhere Wylie crept into his seat to join in with a thunderous beat.




They played “All Over You”, “La Grange/Come Down Easy” and “Gone” with Mark Grandfield on harp. At the end of “Come Down Easy” they released the Kracken in an electric, sonic-guitar-harp- blob of fuzzion that nearly blew the roof off the place.




They were joined by Shane Bozza on vocals and Jimmy Caps on bass from The Dirty Glamor for three Rock scorchers: “No Way To Go But Up”, “Shut Up and Love Me” and “Till It’s Gone” – delighting the crowd even more. When Shane sang “Shut Up and Love Me” I found myself nodding my head yes, yes, yes! …and I lost my heart for the umpteenth time that night.




At times DP seemed to transform into Ganesh playing four guitars at once, wrenching more from the instrument than seems humanly possible. He snarls, growls, wails, and screams his way through every song in a way that can provoke the savage soul in any human.



Like a ghost blending into the background with the kaleidoscope images projecting on his spirit, Wylie sat at his kit and was a powerhouse of drum beats. He is a solid drummer with an effortless style, laying down hypnotic drumbeats, and then suddenly he’ll crash those skins like Jacob Marley shaking his chains in the middle of the night, shooting you out of your skin.



The Dead Exs show, that yes you can still play the Blues today and still be new and exciting. There are no rules; their sound is modern yet classic, ruff and primal. They are a Rock N’ Roll band that seem to take ques from all facets of music from Blues, to Soul, to Jazz, and tie it together in a dirty, nasty, raw mass of sonic nuts and bolts meant for only one thing: to knock you off your feet.

The Dead Exs – Resurrection can be purchased from iTunes or here.


The Dead Exs on Reverbnation

The Dead Exs on Facebook


Also on the bill were Only Living Boy, The Fieros and Golden Animals from the Bang Bang Boogaloo NY Rock and Roll Compilation 1, which you can download for free here, which I highly recommend you do.

What It Is To be Free: Music As Release

NTSIB’s good friend Brucini, proprietor of The Black Keys Fan Lounge, has graced us with a rumination on the freeing power of music, as exemplified by a couple of his fellow countrymen.

How does it feel to be free? How is it possible to just be yourself? Most folk don’t think about it. Some musicians wittingly or otherwise are emboldened to consider these notions, it informs their way of being.

Musicians through live performance seem to be able to demonstrate a way to be – free, and real, and honest, if just for a fleeting moment.

It’s not a way others can inhabit easily, it’s just a way, their way.

Music historically has opened a door to a type of personal transcendence. Fears, inhibitions, anxieties are either dealt with onstage through lyrics and music or they are simply put aside during those brief moments of performance.

The stage creates a space in which this personal transcendence can take place. The audience pays its respects to this place. The music urges on feelings to be released, to rage against the world, to do away with the attachments that otherwise chain us.

Two of the best examples of this going around, though definitely not the only, are Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Have you ever seen two men so free on stage?

2010 – Grinderman “Kitchenette” live:


To have the confidence to pursue a singular artistic vision is audacity indeed. To have done it for so long with an unrelenting drive is even more remarkable.


1981 – The Birthday Party “Nick The Stripper”


Nick and Warren embody an expression of what it is to be free. When you are free or so tangled you are striving to be free, the music seems to become free too.

To listen to and see Warren Ellis’ band The Dirty Three live and in full flight grabs hold of your emotions as he and the band wrestle with theirs. Instrumental music forces you to fill in the vocal blanks, to engage.

Performer and audience both come out the better for it. You’ve been exposed to a way, a pathway to somewhere.


2004 – The Dirty Three “Everything Is Fucked”


The release of musical freedom walks an unsteady tightrope. The muse can tangle up a normal life. Regular being doesn’t allow pure expression, emotions that need to be released, to be expressed and reinterpreted, endlessly.

There are seemingly many ways to be free. Nick and Warren give life and expression to some of them.