Rocky Votolato & Chuck Ragan – Kindred Spirit Review – 2015

kindred spirit

I’d never been into Rocky Votolato, and not because of any discourse with his music, it just hadn’t reached the top of my list of things to listen to until this split came along. I am a huge fan of Chuck Ragan and all his musical endeavors, so when Kindred Spirit hit the shelves, I immediately put it into regular rotation.

My attention was immediately grabbed with the first line of the opening track by Rocky Votolato – “Sparks of Recovery”,

“In a 91 that still runs but barely, Writing your name in the fog on winter windows in the morning”

A great metaphor of life. A perpetual feeling that life is about to fall apart but the comfort and company of another is all you need to get through.

Sparks of Recovery is a beautifully constructed tune that captures a great metaphor of life. The perpetual feeling this uncontrollable journey is falling apart, and yet the comfort of another will lead to resolution or perhaps just acceptance. Struggle and perseverance, whatever that may be.

Rocky’s other two tracks, “St. Louis” and “Let Go” continue in the same vein as this opening track. Sonically soothing, unavoidably beautiful and surprisingly comforting. He has a great ability to introduce ideas of ultimate sadness only to be followed by a perfectly uplifting resolution:

“Eventually we’ll all lose every single thing we love”
“But we can beat death while we’re still alive”

These songs server as a great reminder that resolution is in the hands of your own mind, so make of it what you need.

Chuck Ragan’s side of the split does not disappoint. Three great tracks, with some fantastic guest’s helping him out on the vocals. Dave Hause, Jon Snodgrass, Ben Nichols, and Chad Price all make appearances.

Chuck’s tracks all sound like they could have been included on his previous release “Till Midnight”, and made the already brilliant record, even better. “Vagabond” is a track you will recognize from Till Midnight, but the guest appearances make this a well deserving re-release.

My favorite track on the record is the closer, “Before Dust”. It’s a slow grind that’s captivating enough to make you lose yourself in thought, if you let it. The song makes me feel like I’m on a motorcycle cruising two lane mountain roads well after midnight, with only my mind and the stars above to keep company. The song is like a good book that can be read in snippets. Take nearly any line presented throughout and let your mind digest it. I mean really dig in, and see where it takes you. Challenge yourself to learn more about yourself through this brilliant thought provoking track. My current favorite:

“We all must land somewhere”

Anyway – this is a great record from end to end, and damn good soundtrack for road trips and traveling into the great unknown. Hop on over to Chuck Ragan’s website, link below, and get yourself a copy of this on CD or Vinyl

Rocky Votolato & Chuck Ragan – Kindred Spirit – ORDER HERE!


Bikeriders 2015

Ben Nichols in Columbus, OH
Ben Nichols in Columbus, OH

For those unfamiliar with this tour for the past 3-4 years when Lucero has a tour break Ben Nichols straps his acoustic to the back of his bike and hits the road for a string of dates with tattoo artist Oliver Peck and a rotating group of other folks. These are solo shows staged in smaller rooms with local openers and therefore tend to be more intimate than the normal Lucero performance. I’m a diehard long-term Lucero fan and have been to previous incarnations of this tour so this year I made my way to the dates in Columbus and Pittsburgh and thought it’d be worth writing up.

I hadn’t been to Columbus since high school so I had no idea what this venue or crowd would be like and to say they were great would be an understatement. The show was at the Rumba Cafe which was sold out well ahead of time much to the dislike of the people I saw trying to buy tickets at the door. Lydia Loveless opened the show with an around 40 minute solo acoustic set that consisted of songs from her albums and Boy Crazy EP as well as what I think was a new song. She’s always great live but it was interesting to hear completely stripped down versions of these songs. The surprising part for me was that a lot of the crowd didn’t seem to be familiar with her at all and I would have assumed there’d be a large crossover with their fan bases. Ben was introduced by Oliver and took the stage at 8pm which seemed unnaturally early but the crowd was already sufficiently lubricated so away we went. I’d be comfortable saying that this was the best solo show of his I have ever seen because not only did he sound great and seem to be having a great time but the crowd was very into the whole set, singing along and still respectful. I don’t keep set lists as i’m too busy enjoying the show to write anything down but aside from the usual Lucero live favorites we were treated to some rarities like the Red Forty song Outsiders, Mine Tonight and songs from Nichols solo concept record The Last Pale Light in the West. Lucero has a new record coming out in September so we were treated to two songs from that record the first of which being Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles that despite only being released the week before the crowd already knew the words to and Young Outlaws which is full of references to Ohio. The show was over by 10pm which allowed for more drinks and eventual street tacos so yeah it was a good night.

We moved on to Pittsburgh which was a city i’d never even been to previously. The venue  called Club Cafe was even smaller than the night before and nice enough that I wondered if they knew what they were in for from the crowd. It turned out to be another fun but very respectful group and the only issue was that they ran out of Jameson before the night was over. The opening act was Paul Luc who arrived on his bike as well. He played a great acoustic set which given what i’ve seen online now seems to be unusual for him. Ben was up next and proceeded to run through a similar but still very different set from the night before which included the more “standard” live Lucero tracks and then also rarities like Hearts on Fire and closing with Joey Kneiser’s song Bruised Ribs. We were then treated to an encore or crowd cajoled last song of I Can’t Stand to Leave You which I don’t remember hearing live before often if at all.

In the end these are just fun fan friendly concerts with a chance to see and hear a performer in a way you’re not used to experiencing. The old Lucero website and message board were named LuceroFamily and that still holds true today. You meet good people, bond over the same music and have a great time. What else could you ask for?

Thanks to Jeff Scroggs for this video from Columbus

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zybxptNFbU&w=560&h=315]

Ben Nichols – I Woke Up In New Orleans – Bootleg Video

ben

Last week Ash Nicole uploaded some videos of Ben Nichols doing a couple of songs from the new Lucero record. I really like these and can’t wait to hear them with the full band treatment. Below is “I Woke In New Orleans” and if you go to the link above you can see “Young Outlaws” as well. I may have my reservations about “Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles” but these songs blow away any doubts I had about the new record.

HOLIDAY HANGOUT 2014 ROAD REPORT

Two Cow Hangout

This year’s celebration of Last Chance Records head honcho Travis Hill’s birthday, like every year, was also a celebration of life in general. The pins given out in the VIP package summed up the 2014 that so many of us had: ‘Hard Work And Plenty Of It’. I’m sure by now most of you who read this site have been inundated with Holiday Hangout 2014 tweets, photographs, or drunken text messages, and now that the event is over may be breathing a sigh of relief. But not so fast; I still have a few things to say.

The Holiday Hangout is much more than a simple concert, or mere festival: it’s a rock and roll family reunion. This year four 9bullets writers (Charles, RSV, Scott, and myself) gathered with dozens of our closest friends and sang our hearts out to our favorite bands. Those are the things you may have picked of from the never-ending Instagram updates from Little Rock that got less frequent and blurrier as the night, and weekend, went on. I want to tell you about a few things you may not have been able to perceive from over the internet. There may be some friends I made or artists who played that I don’t mention, and for that I apologize. I think every Holiday Hangout might require a novella (and spare liver) to cover adequately, but I have the time and space I have. What follows are the key moments, observations, and musings from my White Water Tavern nights this December:

  • Austin Lucas – Just as this year has been hard for some of us, it sounds like it’s been a hard year for the smooth-voiced Lucas as well. For his set (backed by his band The Bold Party), Austin pulled out all the stops to deliver a powerful rock and roll performance. He also played songs from his new record, which I’m already unbelievably excited for. Those songs have a distinctly more country feel than Stay Reckless, but their true defining quality is the incredible songwriting. Austin has always been a storyteller, but what was on display here was an attitude and clear-eyed determination pouring through his lyrics that I haven’t seen from him before. He also joined in with Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires for their barn-burner “Dirt Track”, and watching the passion with which he sang “Keep on working, keep it on the dirt track” was inspiring. Now is the time to pay attention to Austin Lucas.
  • John Moreland – Yes, yes, you know. John was amazing, and his new songs hit you in all the places you thought In The Throes had already thoroughly covered. It’s like Robin Hood hitting the bullseye with another arrow. The general consensus is that John’s mainsteam success is a matter of when, not if, and I for one am glad of it. John Moreland’s music comes straight, no chaser, and the rest of the world could use plenty of it.
  • Magic Mike – Some of you may be wondering who the magician hanging out with bands all the time is, and why he’s there. Go see his show and you’ll see. Mike loves these bands as much as any of us (he got Red Collar their first gig at the White Water years ago), and he knows how to show a crowd a good time. He also threw a knife at me. It was a good weekend.
  • Jkutchma and Red Collar – I was ill-prepared for seeing Red Collar. Last year JKutchma had to play two solo sets, an ice storm preventing the rest of the band from making the Hangout. I’d listened to Red Collar’s albums and liked their music, but wasn’t a new convert. This performance may have changed that. Red Collar is a powerful band, full of explosive energy and straight-to-the-point lyrics. Their fans, unconditionally devoted, were unbelievably excited to see the band and it showed in the messy, sweaty, almost conversational relationship between those on the stage and those in front of it. I spent the entirety of their set wanting to get to know the band’s music better so that I could take part in that relationship. JKutchma also played solo, and I can tell you this about his new songs: you want to hear them.
  • Two Cow Garage – This is the band that will not quit. Micah Schnabel and Shane Sweeney keep turning out new songs that are as catchy as they are visceral, lyrically potent, emotionally charged. When you see them on stage you cannot doubt that they mean every word they say. The musicianship and energy of their drummer, David Murphy, have propelled them to a new sonic plane (which I think is a D&D thing, actually). You would hardly recognize some of their older songs the way they play them now, and all the change is for the better. Micah and Shane both played new songs during their solo sets, and demonstrated the range of their songwriting. Two Cow Garage is not a peanut butter/chocolate situation, folks: these are two men who have been writing songs for years, managing to grow both on their own and together as a band. It’s a wonder to behold. And speaking of peanut butter, for their full band set they were joined on guitar by 9bullets reader favorite Todd Farrell, and speaking of Todd Farrell…
  • Todd FarrellIt’s hard when your friends make music. First off, what if it isn’t good? Second off, what if you think it’s good but that’s just because you’re friends and the rest of the world hates it and your friend has to become an insurance salesman? Well after the Holiday Hangout I can safely say neither of those cases are true for our friend Todd Farrell. In addition to playing guitar for Two Cow, Todd also played solo at the Arkansas Record Exchange In-Store show (trading his guitar off with Austin Lucas), and one song on Sunday at the demand of Micah Schnabel. The response that Todd received, not just from the crowd but from his fellow musicians, was incredibly heartening. You could see the bonds forming, the songwriters nodding to each other over a clever turn of phrase, laughter and applause mid-song from a crowd on the edges of their proverbial seats because they were seeing something new. The first night of the Hangout, Todd was walking up the stairs at the White Water as Otis Gibbs, grey-bearded bastion of folk, was walking down them. They stopped at the landing and spoke with each other for a few minutes, I have no idea about what. But then they shook hands and they headed their separate ways. That moment felt important to witness.

So there you have it, my take on this year’s Holiday Hangout. Thanks to everyone at the White Water who made it happen, everyone who played, everyone who went and sang and shouted and danced and swore and shook. All we have to do to get to the next one is make it through another year.

Here’s a video of Micah Schnabel, Brent Best, David Murphy, Todd Farrell, Joey Kneiser, Ben Nichols, John Moreland, Travis Hill, and Shane Sweeney playing “Like A Rolling Stone”. If you have to skip past the first three minutes of laughter and terrible jokes because Shane forgot to plug his guitar in, that’s what you have to do. But I don’t recommend it.

If you like the picture above be sure to check out Melissa Brawner Photography, who took some AMAZING photographs that you may just want to buy a print of, as did Carra Martin!

Did you have any favorite moments this Holiday Hangout, or questions about the shows? Leave a comment and let’s talk! Or hit us up on Twitter, @Real9Bullets!

ROBERT CHILDS' GUITAR: BEN NICHOLS (Lucero)


photo courtesy Scott Lakes

My dad built a guitar.
Shortly after finishing it he got really sick.
Now, I try and get people to play the guitar.
You can read the whole story here.

Last week Ben Nichols from Lucero was kind enough to met up with me before their show here in St. Petersburg and play a few songs on my dad’s guitar.

I’LL JUST FALL

LAST PALE LIGHT IN THE WEST

GO EASY


Previous players:

9b IS DOWN WITH O.P.P. (OTHER PEOPLE'S POSTS):

Forgive me for slacking.  It had been my intention to provide these posts more often than they have appeared but things like taking my dog to the dog park and watching The Rachel Maddow Show have kept me from compiling links.  But here you go.

We posted a bunch of new Lucero songs not too long ago and here is an excellent interview with Ben Nichols where he discusses the new album Women & Work.  Thanks No Depression.

There are several videos on youtube of Glossary playing songs from their spectacular new album Long Live All Of Us. The quality is good so here is A Shoulder To Cry On and Trouble Won’t Last Always.

American Aquarium is about to record it’s first live album at Raleigh’s Pour House.  Here’s a write-up.  And don’t forget about their Kickstarter campaign.

The Black Keys forthcoming album El Camino has been getting plenty of play around the Nine Bullets Office and you should really see RomeoSidVicious’ dance moves to this one.  They’re offering streaming of five songs over at the official site.

The Devil Makes Three has been out on the road lately and my lack of planning caused me to miss them in Denver.  This looks like a good night in Eugene.  Looking rather Amish and Awesome.

And then there’s THIS that our fearless leader pointed out.

PLAYLIST: NINEBULLETS RADIO 11.24.11

Ninebullets Radio is a radio extension of the blog ninebullets.net that airs every Thursday night in Tampa, Florida on WMNF 88.5 FM at 10pm Eastern. The show is archived for one week after it’s original air date and is available for streaming here. Also, don’t forget to head over to Facebook and like the Ninebullets Radio page.

Below is the playlist for November 24, 2011.

01. Possessed By Paul James – Feed The Family
02. American Aquarium – Cape Fear River
03. Scott H. Biram – Lost Case Of Being Found
04. Chris Cornell – Call Me A Dog
05. Hellbound Glory – Knocked Off That Horse
06. Have Gun Will Travel – Katharine, Don’t Fall Off The Wagon
07. Brett Detar – Cocaine, Whiskey & Heroin
08. Ben Nichols – It May Be Too Late
09. Otis Gibbs – Where Only The Graves Are Real
10. Black Diamond Heavies – Stitched In Sin
11. Jerry Lee Lewis – Meat Man
12. .357 String Band – I’m Gone
13. Old Crow Medicine Show – Minglewood Blues
14. Kingsley Flood – I Don’t Wanna Go Home
15. Hackensaw Boys – Radio
16. The Drive-By Truckers – Daddy Needs A Drink

Bold = Request

P.S.: If you like this show, do me a favor and post about it on your Facebook/Twitter/Blog. It’ll do a lot to help these bands reach new ears…and in the end, that’s what this is all about. It’ll also help bring the existence of the radio show to more people’s attention & the more people there are listening/paying attention to the show the more likely it is to stay on the air.

Episode 47: aired 11.24.2011

THE BACK ROW BAPTISTS – BROKEN HEARTS & BAD DECISIONS


The Back Row Baptists were brought to my attention via some of my fellow Twitter tweeters a few months back, and after a few mishaps one of their new cds, Broken Hearts & Bad Decisions, landed in my mailbox. For a while I really didn’t think I liked the album very much but after a few passes I realized that there was just a 4 song stretch (tracks 4 thru 7) in the middle of the cd that I really didn’t like. I deleted them and found a new band that I am digging the hell out of.

The Back Row Baptists come out of Birmingham, Alabama and consist of Chris Porter, Sarah Green, Heath Green, Susan Nuckols, Adam Guthrie and Jay Taylor. Where I come from, Southern Baptists are everywhere. Besides being bat shit crazy they are also one of the most judgemental cults you’ll ever run across (but at least they don’t rape little boys like those pesky Catholics). I tell you this because I’ve always heard the term “back row Baptist” used as a descriptor for a Southern Baptist who drinks, gambles and commits other hell-worthy offenses, of which Southern Baptists have more than the day is long. Now, I don’t know if that’s where the band pulled the term from, but I am pretending that it is.

Their bio describes their music as “uniquely Southern” and “outlaw gospel”. In this era of internets, cable tv and increased homogeneity, I’m not quite sure what “uniquely Southern” really means anymore, but I can damned sure get on board with the “outlaw gospel” descriptor. Another one of my fellow twitter tweeters called them, “a Birmingham version of American Aquarium”. It was a comparison that I had not even thought of, but damned if a revisit to the album didn’t prove it to be dead on. Both bands write real songs about real people (literally) and real situations. However, The Back Row Baptists do it with a lot more of a country flair. One might say Chris Porter’s voice sounds a little like a young pre-years of road abuse Ben Nichols while his inflection could be the brother of BJ Barham’s. I’m also told they’re one hell of a fun band to see live, so I just might have to put on my show promoter hat and get them down here to Florida.

The Back Row Baptists – Fourth of July
The Back Row Baptists – By and By
The Back Row Baptists – Miles Away

The Back Row Baptists’ Official Site, The Back Row Baptists on myspace, Buy Broken Hearts & Bad Decisions

AUTOPSY IV'S FAVORITE 20 ALBUMS OF 2009 (today):

Well, I guess it’s my turn. Kasey and RSV have already dropped their faves of the year (here and here) on y’all, so there’s just no avoiding it for me now. This year was particularly difficult due to the sheer amount of great music that came out, and had I made this list tomorrow it would certainly change. That said, you can edit forever but eventually you have to settle on something and call it your list. So, with out further ado I am gonna steal RSV’s formatting and get this show on the road:

20. Eilen Jewell – Sea of Tears
19. Those Darlins – Those Darlins
18. Strawfoot – How We Prospered
17. Justin Townes Earl – Midnight at The Movies
16. Malcolm Holcombe – For The Mission Baby
15. Jon Snodgrass – Visitor’s Band
14. Ben Nichols – The Last Pale Light In The West
13. Cam Penner – Trouble and Mercy
12. The Fox Hunt – America’s Working So We Don’t Have To
11. William Elliott Whitmore – Animals In The Dark

Top 10 (with mp3s) are under the cut…

Continue reading “AUTOPSY IV'S FAVORITE 20 ALBUMS OF 2009 (today):”