A Good Read, a Good Listen, and a Good Drink: Mudlow

photo credit: Nhung Dang


It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.

Much like my appreciation for Skip James, my interest in Mudlow was originally piqued not by their music, but by a photo of the band. The photo you see above, in fact – taken by Nhung Dang with a pinhole camera made from a biscuit tin. Anyone who has ever purchased a record by an artist they’ve never heard before based solely on the sleeve art knows that art/graphics/image can convey much about sound. When I saw this blurred, rough photo of a bunch of hard men, holding big knives and wearing spattered aprons, I knew they made music I had to hear.

And, well, not only can you sometimes judge a book by its cover, you can also occasionally judge a band by their press photo because I can now put a Mudlow album in the player and happily leave it there for days of repeated listening. The noir grit of their music sits perfectly in that spot where all my favorite music hits me, somewhere between the gut and the pelvis – music for fucking and fighting. All the Mudlow elements, from Trimble’s sinuous saxophone to Tobias’ one-more-whiskey vocals, combine to create a sound that nearly dislocates your jaw with a strong uppercut before confidently seducing you into bed… or vice versa.

The men of Mudlow have favored us with some great recommendations. If these aren’t men you’d like to raise a glass with… well then, I’ll just take your place at the bar.


“Zane Merite” – Mudlow



Good Read:
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
Amid the staggering brutality and violence in this book I love the way ‘the kid’ keeps on surviving. The descriptive way in which McCarthy writes is epic beyond anything else I’ve read. Also it’s a western and who doesn’t love a western!

Good Listen:
Big Time – Tom Waits
This is like a ‘best-of’ from his most creative period. I think that the re-worked songs, recorded live with a full band (one hell of a band too) are better versions than most of the studio originals.

Good Drink:
Wild Turkey bourbon
It picks you up when you’re down and knocks you down when you’re up. Cheers!



Good Read:
Jolie Blon’s Bounce by James Lee Burke
I hadn’t read any James Lee Burke novels before this one, I picked it up at a second-hand store because I liked the cover. It’s the last book that I read more than once and it’s still my favourite of his.

Good Listen:
Burnside on Burnside – R.L. Burnside
For me, there’s two really great live albums that I listen to regularly (Tobias chose the other one) and R.L. Burnside tears me a new earhole every time I put this one on. Superb sound and a ferocious set from R.L., Kenny and Cedric. It begs to be played really LOUD every time.

Good Drink:
Brooklyn Lager
Ice cold and from the bottle, this is my new favourite lager, flavourful but not too sweet. (there may be a slight emotional bias…my girlfriend is from Brooklyn too!)



Good Read:
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
This is my current read. A ‘true crime’ classic. Hmm… Seems like we choose books with rather dark themes, huh.

Good Listen:
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground
I have way too many (ever-changing) musical ‘likes’ to choose just one but I re-visit this album more than most and it’s a good one to drink and read to.

Good Drink:
I regularly go on holiday to visit my Dad in Corfu and this sweet, Greek brandy is my drink of choice when I’m there.



Good Read:
The Life of Lee – Lee Evans (autobiography)
I tend to read factual stuff on the whole, so I don’t really have a favourite but this is what I’m reading at the minute and it’s pretty funny.

Good Listen:
Smell of Female – The Cramps
It’s EP length really but it’s the Cramps at their best, it always makes me want to go out for a good time, as a result this record has got me into a lot of trouble over the years!

Good Drink:
Tequila Sunrise
It’s a ‘boat drink’. The kind of drink that puts you somewhere better, somewhere with the sun on your face. I hardly ever drink it coz I never go on holiday and you wouldn’t ask for this in the kind of english pubs i go to.


“Evol” – Mudlow


Mudlow Official Website

Mudlow @ ReverbNation

Mudlow @ Google+

Mudlow @ Facebook


Giveaway: Scott Miller

That’s right: we haven’t even closed the Hayes Carll contest, and we already have another great giveaway. I’m pretty tickled by this one. Scott Miller, of V-Roys fame, is releasing a new solo album. Check out the charming video for the first single, “Lo Siento, Spanishburg, WVa — A Story of the Real Americana”.



How can you not love that closing chorus?

Now, the goodies. We have two prize packs to give away, one men’s and one women’s, that contains Scott’s CD, a T-shirt and a FREAKING KAZOO. A kazoo, y’all! How great is that? Each winner will get to choose the shirt style and size of his/her choice from Scott’s nifty shop.

All you have to do is drop a comment below with your favorite of the 50 United States of America – and your preference for men’s or women’s shirt. One man-style and one woman-style winner will be chosen at random. We’ll give y’all until August 3, 2011 at 5 PM EST to enter. Winners will be announced on August 4.

Scott Miller Official Website

Giveaway: Hayes Carll

First, check out this video:

Freaking adorable, and a great pairing of vocals between Hayes Carll and Cary Ann Hearst. The song, “Another Like You”, is off of Carll’s latest album KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories).

Now here’s the really good part: You could win a copy of KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories) on warm, delicious vinyl. Just drop a comment below with your favorite opposites-attract pairing for a chance to win. Deadline is July 28, 2011 at 5 PM EST. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on July 29.

Hayes Carll Official Website

The Dad Horse Experience: Dead Babies Singing in the Sky


“Like a dead dog on the highway…” sang an unmistakeably German voice. It was the kind of lisping German accent that my American ears associate with camp villains in bad movies. Then in came the banjo.


“Like a dead dog, I’m hanging around,” the German voice continued singing over the quaint banjo melody. “Won’t you stop and pick me up? Dig me a deep hole in the ground.”

I was, to put it kindly, perplexed. What in the world was this? In my head, my conditioned American thoughts, banjo and heavy German accents did not belong together. But I kept listening, fascinated, compelled to find out what this was all about. And as unprepared as I was for the initial track, I was yet again thrown off balance by what the second track brought.


Kingdom It Will Come / THE DAD HORSE EXPERIENCE by dadhorse


Oh yes, there was definitely something worth investigating here. By the end of the album, I was smitten.

Dead Dog on a Highway is the second long player from the Dad Horse Experience, which consists mostly of a man who goes by the name Dad Horse Ottn. He sings while accompanying himself on banjo, keeping the rhythm on bass pedals and throwing in some occasional kazoo1, playing what he has dubbed keller (German for “cellar”) gospel. Keller gospel draws from an amazing range of influences from the simple and perfect country of Hank Williams, the gathered folk of the Carter Family and the outsider gospel of Washington Phillips to punk to polka. And it’s all filtered through one possibly deranged, definitely unique man who apparently didn’t begin playing music until he was 40.

Dead Dog on a Highway is a wunderkammer of an album that contains more treasures and obscure delights than I have the time and space to limn here. You’ll certainly find entertainment here and things to make you smile. You might also find a moment or two of fright. And perhaps, if you’re paying enough attention, you’ll find a song, a moment, that speaks directly to you.

You can get a download of the absolutely-worth-the-price-of-your-email-address “Tella Me, Lord” here at the Dad Horse website.

Dead Dog on a Highway is available from CD Baby, Amazon (US), Amazon (DE), iTunes and Flight 13.


The Dad Horse Experience Official Website

Dad Horse plays for Jesco White


1Kazoo is making a serious comeback, people. The Carolina Chocolate Drops and Daniel Knox have also made liberal use of the humble instrument.

Whitey Morgan & the 78s in Cleveland


I don’t usually like to use PR blurbs, but I couldn’t get it better than Bloodshot’s PR already has it on Whitey Morgan.

Outlaw’s always been the rough-around-the-edges, tuff guy uncle at the country music family picnic. Denim and leather, not Stetson and Nudie. Hair by Pennzoil, not Pomade. But, in the right hands—Haggard, Paycheck, Junior, Willie and Waylon and now Whitey Morgan—Outlaw is more than beards and bandanas, ink and attitude, it’s goddamn folk music. It’s about doing the best you can, about getting by and about cold beer and colder women—everything that keeps the honky tonks full on a Saturday night. It’s about standing up when it’d just be easier to fall down.

Coming from Flint MI, the always forgotten civic little brother to Motown but no less a hard town with empty factories and emptier prospects, loaded Whitey Morgan & the 78’s with that survivors’ f.u. mentality. The self-titled debut Bloodshot album was recorded at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock NY, and while their antecedents are pretty clear, Whitey and the boys play with a muscular attack and energy that makes us think they HAD to learn to play it that way to be heard over the din of the stamping plant and its ghosts.


Here’s a taste of what Whitey does.




You can see Whitey Morgan & the 78s at the Beachland Tavern tonight for a 10-spot. Doors at 8, show at 9. Jason Patrick Meyers, Robbie Jay Band and Guggy’s Rock-n-Roll Party 101 open.

Austin Lucas: Constant Sound of Thundering Rails


As has likely become obvious to regular NTSIB readers, I’m a sucker for a good voice. A voice full of pathos and urgency – and especially one that has been roughened with whiskey and cigarettes – will get me every time. Austin Lucas has a classic bluegrass voice. “High lonesome” is a good phrase for it. And while this sort of voice would seem best paired with quiet instrumentation and pretty guitars, as Lucas has often used in the past, on his latest album A New Home in the Old World, Lucas shows that bringing up the intensity of the music to match the intensity of the voice benefits both the singer and the song. Check out a little of what I mean on my favorite song from the album, opening track “Run Around”.


Run Around by Austin Lucas


It’s a sharp smack in the face of an introduction to an album that pulls a taught thread of emotional intensity throughout. Later on in the album, such as on lead single “Thunder Rail”, electric guitar is pulled into the mix, recalling some of the best roots-minded alt.rock.


Thunder Rail by Austin Lucas


Lucas is an earnest songwriter, but New Home doesn’t fall into the usual singer/songwriter trap of using the music as nothing more than a bed of lettuce for the entrée of the lyrics. This is not a poetry reading. This is music flowing with blood, guts, yearning and hope.

You can purchase the album directly from Last Chance Records (my advice is to purchase directly from the label whenever possible – they’ll put much more care into your order than a megawarehouse would and often at a better price), where a live album from Lucas is also available. You can also catch him on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown 2011 Tour that starts up toward the end of this month.


Austin Lucas Official Website


Bits: The Imperial Rooster, Bang Bang Boogaloo, Modest Mouse & Big Boi, Craig Wedren, The Twilight Singers, Wolfgang’s Vault

  • The Imperial Rooster will be playing at El Farol in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on May 10 at 6 PM MST and the set will be broadcast live on Radio Free Santa Fe. Tune in locally at 98.1 or via the Radio Free Santa Fe website.
  • New York label Bang Bang Boogaloo has put together a killer compilation of unsigned New York bands called New York Rock & Roll 1. You can listen to and download it for free on their website.
  • Big Boi revealed, via Twitter, that he’s working on an album with Modest Mouse. “Been camped out in the Lab with Modest Mouse all week, workin on the new mouse LP, coolest cats ever. Long Live The Funk.” Cannot wait to hear the results of that collaboration.
  • Both Craig Wedren and the Twilight Singers are offering new songs for free download. Wedren’s “Cupid” is a Shudder to Think-era tune re-purposed for his upcoming solo album, WAND. The Twilight Singers’ “Don’t Call” is a non-album track, as well as being a Desire cover.
  • Wolfgang’s Vault has added a video section to their mammoth live music archives. While you’ll find the old stand-bys you’d expect from WV – the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band – you’ll also find some NTSIB favorites like A Place to Bury Strangers, the Builders and the Butchers and even the Gutter Twins. Worth a dig.

Pete David & the Payroll Union: Ghosts Came By and They Told Us to Go


Recently, while listening to a band whose genre was listed as “Americana” but who were not from any of the Americas, let alone the United States, I likened Americana music in the ’10s to Irish music in the ’90s – a genre named for a country, rapidly filling with non-native practitioners.

But that phenomenon is not necessarily a bad thing. Take Exhibit A: Pete David & the Payroll Union. Based in Sheffield, England, the group was formed by a couple of young Brits (vocalist/guitarist/harmonica player David and banjo player Joseph Field) who held an acute interest in the traditional music of the U.S. This makes a sort of sense since lines drawn from early American music (string bands, drum and fife bands) often lead back to the British Isles.

The lyrics of Pete David & the Payroll Union’s debut EP Underfed and Underpaid make this even more of a musical Möbius strip as David and company sing stories set during the French and Indian War, the Civil War, the Salem Witch Trials, etc. They even have the visage of America’s 7th president Andrew Jackson gracing their website. Not for the first time, the Brits have beat us at our own game.

Whatever, it’s probably just prolonged jealousy over that whole Revolutionary War thing. You’ll forgive them once you hear the music. The album begins with the attention-grabbing “St. Lawrence River”, in which a company of soldiers opine, in earthy harmony, that they will “die on a muddy river bed” while Field picks beautifully on his banjo and drummer Ben President urges your feet to stomp along. Later on, in “Abigail”, David croons over a slowly-strummed guitar before the song opens up with the full band into a romantic cry of longing. The album ends with “There’s a Light”, probably the most traditional-sounding song on the album with Paul Heath’s freight train bassline and Field’s banjo strumming.

Two of my favorite tracks are “The Sacrifice” with its Nick Cave-like bravado and the appropriately-haunting “Ghosts”.


[Tracks removed by request.]


Pete David & the Payroll Union have a string of gigs at home in Sheffield, later branching out to Glossop, Wales and York (check their website for details). They’re looking to work up a U.S. tour in the future, but until then, check out their lovely website and download or order Underfed and Underpaid from their Bandcamp site.


Pete David & the Payroll Union Official Website

Pete David & the Payroll Union @ Bandcamp

The Imperial Rooster: My Heart is Thawed

Couch by Couch West: it started out as a tongue-in-cheek backlash against the rising tide of babble that always inundates the online music community around South by South West time. But while the whole thing started out as a joke that masked the fact that many of us were envious of the people who were going out to Austin to take in some great live performances, CXCW turned into a viable entertainment option of its own, complete with exclusive performances from unknown and name acts alike (Neko Case didn’t play SXSW this year, but she and her dog Liza did serenade CXCWers). NTSIB found more than a couple of acts that made us sit up and say, “We’ve got to get them on the blog!”

One of those bands was the Imperial Rooster. Playing from a porch in Espanola, New Mexico, the Roosters showed up early and often at CXCW. Here they are in their CXCW performance of “The Ballad Of Lightning Bill Jasper”:



Their first album, Old Good Crazy Poor Dead, spans the spectrum from raucous novelty songs (“Pigfork”) to heart-tearing, Southern gothic ballad (“Uranium Mole”). Rooster music is loose and full of heart, and we heartell they put on a mean live show. (And Shooter Jennings likes ’em, too.) Stream or download a couple of my favorite tracks from OGCPD below.


Your Friends Think I’m The Devil by The Imperial Rooster


Never Cold Again by The Imperial Rooster


The Imperial Rooster has a new album coming out sooner than later, and we’ll be keeping you apprised of those goings on.


The Imperial Rooster @ ReverbNation

The Imperial Rooster @ Facebook

Notable Shows in the Greater Cleveland Area

Shows worth checking out this week in and around Cleveland:

The Beachland Ballroom & Tavern

  • Sat, Apr 9| 8:30 PM (7:30 PM door)
    Hayes Carll
    Shovels & Rope
    Roger Hoover
    $10 adv / $12 dos
    Ballroom | All Ages
  • Sun, Apr 10| 8 PM (7 PM door)
    John Mark McMillan
    All The Bright Lights
    $10adv / $12 dos
    Ballroom | All Ages
  • Mon, Apr 11| 7 PM (6:30 PM door)
    Scott Hanson & The Champagnes
    Mary Mee
    Ballroom | All Ages
  • Wed, Apr 13| 8 PM (7 PM door)
    Ezra Furman & The Harpoons
    The Apache Relay
    $10 adv / $12 dos
    Tavern | All Ages

Grog Shop

  • Sat, Apr 9| 8 PM
  • Sun, Apr 10| 8 PM
    Champagne Champagne
    Hot Cha Cha
    The Nude Acid American Revolution Band
  • Mon, Apr 11| 8 PM
    Mike Watt + The Missingmen
    The Lawton Brothers
    Restless Habs
  • Thu, Apr 14| 8 PM
    Royal Bangs
    The May Company
  • Fri, Apr 15| 8 PM
    The Black Angels
    Terminal Lovers
    $13 adv / $15 dos

Now That’s Class

  • Sun, Apr 10| 10 PM
    Davila 666
    The Wooly Bullies
    Mr. California
  • Tue, Apr 12| 9 PM
    Des Ark
    Pygmy Lush
    Reverse the Curse
    Craig Ramsey
  • Thu, Apr 14| 9 PM
    Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout!
    Let Me Crazy
    Powerhead Kids


  • Sat, Apr 9| 8 PM
    Chip Tha Ripper
    Ace Boogie & Sauce
    Blac Cease
    Mister Mick Fizzle

Wonder Bar

  • Fri, Apr 15| 9 PM
    The Hounds

Quicken Arena

  • Fri, Apr 15| 7:30 PM
    $46.50, $69.00, $93.50


  • Fri, Apr 8| 9 PM
    Peter Murphy
  • Fri, Apr 15| 8 PM
    Local H
    The Dig
    User Sets Mode