Jul 242007
 

Up until “10 Days Out”, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was an artist whose name I knew, but music I really didn’t. I had a coworker back in the day who used to preach the gospel of KWS but never brought me one ounce of music to actually hear. Then, earlier this year, I read a review for the “10 Days Out” release and went on the search for it that night. We all know how that turned out. I have been collecting music by some of the artists featured on the album (you’ll see their names in the coming month or two), so I figured that while I was collecting these cds, I would be remiss to just ignore KWS. So, after seeing him live, I ordered up all 3 of his studio albums. Now, I have said before that I am no expert on the blues, nor will I ever claim to be, but I am an expert when it comes to knowing what I like….and I do like the blues. This is a brief review of Kenny’s other releases.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Ledbetter Heights

The Ledbetter Heights neighborhood, traditionally known as “The Bottoms”, is one of the earliest parts of Shreveport to be settled outside the original downtown district, dating back to the 19th century. For almost all of its history, it has been predominantly African-American. In the early 20th century, there was a red-light district with legal prostitution within this neighborhood, and musician Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, after whom the neighborhood is now named, lived and performed there. The renaming of the neighborhood to Ledbetter Heights in the 1990s was part of an effort to rehabilitate the area’s image, as it had become known as an economically depressed and crime-ridden area.

Shepherd named his debut album after this neighborhood as an homage to the blues tradition of his home town.

Recorded when Kenny was 17 years old, this cd was released in 1995. Many people regard this as his best release and, outside of “10 Days Out”, I would be inclined to agree. While dismissed by the critics as a young gun protege’ with lots of style but no soul, the fans took to it without issue. It is a raw blues guitar orgy with a little rock and country tossed in for spice. Raw being the key word. This is the cd that will be alongside “10 Days Out” in my house for frequent listening pleasure.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – I’m Leaving You
Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Shame, Shame, Shame
Kenny Wayne Shepherd – One Foot On The Path

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Trouble Is

“Trouble Is” was Kenny’s second release. A lot of people liked it, and I think it has some stellar tracks on it. For some reason though, it just doesn’t catch me like “Ledbetter Heights”. Maybe it lacks the raw quality of “Ledbetter”….I dunno what it is, but it boils down to this: “Trouble Is” sounds like something I would hear on cd, while “Ledbetter” sounds like something I could hear in a bar one night. I like the cd mind you, I just don’t see myself reaching past “Ledbetter” and “10 Days” to listen to this album too often.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – True Lies
Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Everything Is Broken
Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Trouble Is

Next came a live cd entitled “Live On” that I have not bought yet, but seeing as how blues is a genre best heard live I imagine it will be awesome and it’s on my short list of cds to buy. The follow-up to “Live On”, “The Place You’re In” was Shepherd’s effort at releasing a rock disc. Incidentally, it was also the first disc to feature Kenny on vocals. To say the disc is a complete failure is an understatement. He abandoned his blues sound and ends up sounding like a fish out of water. Since ninebullets.net is not a critics site I’ll just leave it at that.

Next was “10 Days Out”, and we all know how I feel about that cd. So where does that leave us? I’m not too sure. I hope “10 Days Out” shows Kenny coming back to the blues…getting back to that raw, tossing back whiskey shots with beer sound….and if so, I think we are in for great things.

Only time will tell.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band covering Midnight Rider:

Jul 232007
 


I would never sit here and claim that I am some huge Dixie Chicks fan. Hell, up until 2 weeks ago, the only Dixie Chicks song I could name was Wide Open Spaces. I had no idea that they are the highest-selling female band in any musical genre ever. I was aware of their little controversy regarding some comments about the mouth breather in office, but only in the most basic sense. Natalie Maines said she was embarrassed Bush was from their home state of Texas and a bunch of overly sensitive people got all “offended”, whined to radio stations and they stopped playing their music. I did not know that to this day, some 4 years later, the country music establishment is still giving them the cold shoulder. Judging from what Nashville, pop country radio and CMT is going to bed with these days, being ignored probably isn’t a bad thing. I can not speak from experience, but I would imagine being in the same room with Toby Keith irreversibly lowers one’s IQ by 15 points or so.

So, a couple of weeks ago the wife and I sit down and watch the Dixie Chicks documentary, Shut Up and Sing. Unbelievable. I kept thinking, “Are you serious? That’s all it was?” What do you think the reaction/backlash would have been if she said that today? I’ll bet there are folks out there that threw their Dixie Chicks cds away 4 years ago that are embarrassed by this administration today.

But this is a music blog, not a political blog. No, if you wanna hear my blind hatred for all things political you must come and get drunk with me, so let’s steer this back to the music.

Before all the controversy, The Dixie Chicks had the number one song on country radio, Traveling Soldier. They kept playing it at the beginning of the movie and I was diggin’ it, so I made a mental note to download it after the flick. As the movie continued, I was surprised and inspired by how well they stuck together as a unit, and their courage to stand up in the face of the controversy and fight back against stupidity. Their refusal to back down off the comments was music to my ears. A big time band with resolve. They could have sucked the dick of the establishment and moved on, but instead they stood up for themselves. INCONCEIVABLE! Watching pieces of the song-writing process for their 2006 release Not Ready To Make Nice gave me enough insight into how personal the song was that I decided I wanted to give it a listen. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna like it or not but I decided to buy it in lieu of downloading it to show support for the girls and the first amendment, and to offer a big “fuck you” to Toby Keith and country radio. That’s probably also the essence of this post.

All in all it’s an “eh?” album for me. I really like the tracks that I can directly identify as being born from commentgate. However, at this point I’m really only lukewarm on the rest of it. That could be because I inherently felt a connection to certain tracks because of the movie and the others will grow on me. It could also be that those are the only tracks on the cd that are likable. I’m gonna give it a few more weeks before I decide, but I can tell you that the high points of Not Ready To Make Nice make it worth checking out, even if it’s by download. The song Traveling Soldier is also terrific, but my main reason for this entire post was to say that you should give this documentary a look see. It is a fantastic rock doc and I bet you’ll feel the same way about The Long Way Around after watching it.

Dixie Chicks – Not Ready To Make Nice
Dixie Chicks – The Long Way Around
Dixie Chicks – Traveling Soldier

Dixie Chicks Official Site
, Dixie Chicks on myspace, Buy The Long Way Around

This is the video for Not Ready To Make Nice. While being the lead single of their last album it is also the direct response to all the controversy. You go girls! You won a fan outta me.

The trailer for Shut Up and Sing:

Jul 202007
 

(Authors Note: I had planned to post something else today but it’s a Friday, I’m getting off work early and I’m feeling a little rambunctious so I decided to go with some good time drinking music instead.)

I gotta thank my buddy Larry from the band Holidaysburg for convincing me to check out Knoxville’s Mic Harrison and the High Scores. While Push Me On Home is Mic Harisson’s third solo disc, it is my first exposure to him and his band. I do not suspect it will be my last.

My immediate reaction from Push Me On Home was that it reminded me of a rawer, more rocking and less sober version of Robert Earl Keene. Push Me On Home is 10 tracks of straight ahead twang-stained rock and roll without a single weak track in the bunch. With tracks like “Wiser the Whiskey,” “Mighty Good Wine,” and “Long Time,” I think these boys are comfortable to be labeled as music to get a hangover to.

Ultimately, my only complaint about this cd would be the length. Coming in at a mere 30 minutes, it seems to be over just as it gets going, but it’s hard to complain when you take into account that all 30 minutes are awesome. I guess the chorus of “Long Time” could also be a synopsis of the cd:

We ain’t here for a long time but we’re here for a good time. Every night is a Saturday. Hangovers don’t exist. I hope I always remember what my Granddaddy said, “Let’s all have a good time as long as we can.”

Amen. If I want a longer cd I’ll just set the cd player on repeat. Essential Listening for sure. We’ll see about that whole hangovers not existing thing tomorrow…

Mic Harrison and the High Scores – The Only Road
Mic Harrison and the High Scores – Long Time
Mic Harrison and the High Scores – Mighty Good Wine

Mic Harrison and the High Scores’ Official Site, Mic Harrison and the High Scores on myspace, Buy Push Me Home

Jul 192007
 

Okay. Since My Name is Earl went into reruns, outside of Man Vs. Wild I have been bored with TV. Meadowlands….already deleted the scheduled recording from the box. Sure, John From Cincinnati is interesting, but so far it is moving at the pace of Carnival and it’s just as vague, and that’s a bad thing. The only bright spots in TV land currently are Top Chef and Flight of the Conchords.

All of the above was true until last Sunday. Yes, all of that was pre-Rock of Love.

What do you do when Flava of Love has run it’s course? You replace the hiphop dude with a hair-metal dude and the ghetto bitches with trailer trash. TV gold. Seriously. I mean, it’s VH1 so it’s trashier than Courtney Love and K-Fed in a keg stand contest, but fuck an A it’s fun, and I may be drunk right now (affirmative) but I think it has inspired a weekly blog entry.

We’ll title this week’s episode “Every Thorn Has It’s Rose” or “All the Thorns it Takes to Get to the Roses“….yeah, that.

This week saw 25 girls come to the rock house with the intent of getting to fuck Brett Michaels. Right off the bat, Big John (Brett’s head of security) whacks the five hardest ridden hags at the door. One of which, Tiffany, will absolutely not take rejection as an answer so she comes beating on the door in the middle of the evening demanding to get back in, even though there’s no bed for her. She’ll sleep on the floor, she’ll sleep in the bathtub, just let her back in. Big John does as good TV would demand. Once in the mix of the house, Tiffany makes the trailer trash proud by getting drunk and making a proper ass of herself. The best part of the entire Tiffany portion of the show is the fact that VH1 proceeded to subtitle her drunk talk in a misheard lyric fashion. IE: when she was saying “Brett would never kick me out.” the subtitles read “Brett would ne’er kick me route”. Watch this skank, it’s comedic gold.

Other notes from this week show: Brandi C. is the trailer park version of New York and happens to be the only one representing my home state of Florida. In the opinion of both the wife and myself, Jes is the hottest and finally, Rodeo and Heather are the 2 wild-cards since they are both a tad older and therefore close to Brett’s age. What will happen? Will the trailer trash inspire the drama of the ghetto bitches of Flava of Love? Who knows. One thing is for sure though, the trailer trash will drink as much booze.

Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn (album version)
Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn (MTV Unplugged Version)
Joshua Fit For Battle – Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Rex Hobart – Every Rose Has Its Thorn (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED HONKY TONK VERSION!!!)

side note: Both the wife and I noticed Brett only appears on camera with a hat or with a bandanna. We think Mr. Michaels has gone bald and either wears a hat or wig to cover the Kojack.

Jul 182007
 

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I am a frequent reader of the Hank III message board. Apparently there is some beef between III and Shooter. I don’t know either one of them, so I could give 2 shits, but to some people on there you gotta like one or the other, regardless of whether you like them both or not. Because of that, I have read a lot of Shooter sucks show reviews. I tried to block them out and go into the show merely as a fan of the music who had never managed to see him live. I’ll never know if I went into that show with depressed expectations due to the III message board chatter or not, but I do know that Shooter and the .357s blew my expectations away.

They took the stage a little after 9 o’clock with no opening act. First thing I said to my wife was, “Looks like a scene right out of a movie about the Southern rock movement of the 70′s,” and she agreed. Seems fitting to me. While a lot of people call Shooter “country” I’ve seen both of his studio releases as more rock than country. Call it revivalist Southern Rock if you wanna, but they just reinforced my opinion live.

The crowd size honestly surprised me. I had not spoken to a single person outside of my wife in this area who knew who Shooter was, but judging from the sing-alongs, I need to get a little more talkative. They crowd knew their Shooter, in fact the only stuff that did not get a full crowd harmony was the new material. Personally, I had a great time adding my part to the harmonies and left the show with a shit-eating grin that can only come from too many drinks and a great night.

Highlights of the night for me were “Electric Rodeo”, “Lonesome Blues”, the new song, Shooter’s cover of I Don’t Think Hank Done It This Way, “Manifesto No. 2″ and my absolute favorite Shooter track yet, “Hair of the Dog”. Reduced expectations or not, I can tell you that the next time Shooter and Co. is in town they are gonna have one hell of a high water mark to live up to. Their own. Fuck that country label and the III message board. If you like that classic Southern rock sound, then check this kid out when he rolls through your town. You’ll thank me the next day after the hangover starts to recede.

Shooter Jennings – Hair of the Dog
Shooter Jennings – Manifesto No. 2
Shooter Jennings – Electric Rodeo

As a side note: My camera’s batteries died about 10 seconds after I turned the camera on and I had pretty much relegated myself to having to find a stock picture for this piece. Then I saw thee 3 people taking pictures from the crowd and it was immediately obvious they knew what they were doing, so I had the wife write down my email address and the web address.

They were really nice to the slurring drunk jackass (me, not the wife) who, in the middle of the show, is handing them a napkin with some contact info and going through this drunken spiel about a camera and dead batteries. They took my napkin with a smile and said “no problem,” so I wobbled away confident. Then Saturday passed with no email and the reality of a drunk fella at a concert approaching a stranger set in and I knew I was gonna be grabbing a stock photo for this piece.

Enter Sunday…and an email.

Turns out the fellas at Blind Imagery Photography weren’t just humoring a drunk person and to top it all off they sent me the photo that heads this piece. Freaking awesome. So much better than anything I ever would have taken and may I say it adds a sense of professionalism to the site.

Thanks for being awesome people!