Mar 312011
 

I wanted to revisit this post today because it was just announced the the album won the Independent Music Awards award for Best Alt-Country Album Of 2010 and I felt that should earn it a rerun for those that missed it the first time. One time I said something about Possessed By Paul James and I feel this would be a good time to quote it, “a lot of people won’t get Possessed By Paul James but those that do will have found a musician who’s albums they’ll be listening to for years to come and that’s a special thing.”

Congragulations to Konrad and all the Hillgrass Bluebilly folks.


The last time I wrote about Possessed By Paul James I was relatively sure no one outside of my little Deep Blues circle had any idea who he was. Flash forward a couple of years and a stint on the last Revival Tour, and people on my alt.country/punk-folk circle have at least heard of him and a few lucky ones have seen him live.

Possessed By Paul James is one Mr. Konrad Wert, currently living in Texas but hailing from my home state of Florida. His past two albums, Possessed By Paul James and Cold and Blind, coupled with his live shows have garnered him a cult following as rabid as any, and one I am proud to call myself a part of. That said, the albums have also fallen into the “love ‘em or hate ‘em” category. It’s an issue I can relate to because for the longest time I loved Cold and Blind but found Possessed By Paul James utterly unlistenable. That was, until I managed to catch him live 2 times at the Deep Blues Festival 3 years ago.

Konrad is best understood if you’ve seen him live, that’s an undeniable fact, but it’s become less of a requirement with each album, and now with Feed The Family I think he’s managed to make an album accessible enough that the live show isn’t a requirement for those with a slightly more confined musical palate. Feed the Family captures everything that makes Possessed By Paul James great without spending too much time in that challenging area that requires knowing him live to be able to truly “get it”

So, what does that get you? For long time fans, the stomps, vocal quakes and yelps are still present. For the potential newly indoctrinated (slash Konard live virgins), said stomps, vocal quakes and yelps are mixed more into the background, with Konrad’s picking and passion out front for display. The results are a surprisingly restrained sound that manages to capture the immediate and passionate nature of Konrad’s music. I think with all that said, it’s clear that this is seriously some Essential Listening. If you’ve heard PBPJ before and didn’t like it, listen again ‘cause this is easily the best album he’s recorded to date, as well as a done deal for a slot on the 9B Top 10 of the 2k10.

Possessed By Paul James – Feed The Family
Possessed By Paul James – Shoulda’ Known Better
Possessed By Paul James – Color Of My Bloody Nose

Possessed By Paul James’ official site, Possessed By Paul James on myspace, Buy Feed The Family

Jan 112011
 

Autopsy IV is on his annual pilgrimage to strap a board to the bottom of his feet and slide down mountains. While he is away 9B will feature a collection of guest posts. Today’s post comes from our good buddy Chris Green.


I’m sure that a lot of ninebullets.net readers are familiar with the legendary T Model Ford and the band GravelRoad from their appearances at the (late, lamented) Deep Blues festival and previous coverage on this site, but I’ll give a brief intro. T Model Ford is an elderly blues-man whose raw sound was first brought to a larger audience by his recordings with Fat Possum records, and who has inspired and influenced many of the artists covered here. T Model started his recording career when he was in his 70s, and there’s a lot of colorful lore about him and his life out there on the internets. GravelRoad is a great 3-piece band from my hometown of Seattle whose sound is a blend of blues, hard rock, and psychedelia, and who have also been performing and collaborating with T Model Ford since 2008.

T Model Ford had an interesting 2010. He started off the year by releasing The Ladies Man, an album full of stripped-down acoustic blues that he recorded with his long time backing band, GravelRoad. This excellent album was recorded live with minimal studio work and featured out-takes between the songs of T-Model talking to the band and telling some stories, providing the listener with the feeling of hanging out at a casual jam between blues musicians. He did a lot of touring in 2010 as well with GravelRoad, playing both small clubs and larger festivals. He also suffered a mild stroke which required him to work hard to regain his full right-hand dexterity for playing his guitar. T Model might have celebrated his 90th birthday in 2010 (no one, including T himself is 100% sure what year he was born). He also got married (for the 6th time) to his longtime companion Stella (who is mentioned in several of his recordings).

And, this past summer, he went into the studios again with GravelRoad for the recording sessions that resulted in a new album, The Taledragger, releasing on 1/11/11 on the Alive/Natural Sounds label.

The new album is a loud electric affair with dense instrumentation. The opening song, “Same Old Train” is a driving 7 minute long groove broken up by T’s singing, guitar solos, and some pounding piano courtesy of guest musician Brian Olive. This track broadcasts to the listener the essential difference between this album and the previous one – while The Ladies Man usually sounds like GravelRoad acting as a backing band with T Model front and foremost, on Taledragger, I’m hearing one seamless band of great musicians.

When corresponding with Marty of GravelRoad, he told me that when they recorded Ladies Man, they had played less than 10 shows with T Model, but that by the time the new material was recorded, they had done 8 or 9 tours with him, and that Marty has drummed with him for something on the order of 150 sets. So it’s not surprising that the new album sounds so much more like a full collaboration.

The second song, “Comin’ back home” introduces another new sonic element, with some fine saxophone playing augmenting the shuffling groove. The sax playing stays with us as they pick up the pace on “How Many Years”. Then things take an interesting turn. “Someone’s Knocking On My Door” opens with some echo-ey, distorted wah-wah guitar, and when T Model’s voice comes in, it’s augmented with a trippy echo. For the next 3 songs, the psychedelic and rock elements of GravelRoad’s sound come through loud and clear, melding seamlessly with T’s juke joint sound. While I love every song on this album, I find these 3 tracks the most exciting.

Then, things shift again. On the rollicking “Red Dress”, T’s opening wailing vocals bring to mind some of his earlier rawer recordings. The album finishes with a slow traditional blues number, “Little Red Rooster”, which was first recorded by Howlin’ Wolf.

I think this a very fine album indeed, that I will be listening to for a long time to come. And, despite it’s early January release, I expect it to show up on plenty of best album lists at the end of 2011.

GravelRoad is planning extensive touring this year, and I highly recommend going out to see them when they visit your town. They will also be doing some dates with T Model Ford, with the first one being in Phoenix in February. One of the high points of 2010 for me was having the privilege of seeing them both together for a great, inspiring Seattle show and getting to talk to T for a bit. I urge anyone out there who has a similar opportunity to take it. If there was a poll for the musician most likely to be still playing 2-hour sets at age 100, T Model Ford would be at the top of the list, but you can hardly treat this as a certainty.

T-Model Ford & Taledragger – Someone’s Knocking On My Door
T-Model Ford & Taledragger – Same Old Train
T-Model Ford & Taledragger – Red Dress

T-Model Ford’s Official Web Site, Gravelroad’s Official Web Site, Buy Taledragger

T-Model Ford and Gravelroad performing at Deep Blues Festival III:

.

Aug 302010
 


The last time I wrote about Possessed By Paul James I was relatively sure no one outside of my little Deep Blues circle had any idea who he was. Flash forward a couple of years and a stint on the last Revival Tour, and people on my alt.country/punk-folk circle have at least heard of him and a few lucky ones have seen him live.

Possessed By Paul James is one Mr. Konrad Wert, currently living in Texas but hailing from my home state of Florida. His past two albums, Possessed By Paul James and Cold and Blind, coupled with his live shows have garnered him a cult following as rabid as any, and one I am proud to call myself a part of. That said, the albums have also fallen into the “love ‘em or hate ‘em” category. It’s an issue I can relate to because for the longest time I loved Cold and Blind but found Possessed By Paul James utterly unlistenable. That was, until I managed to catch him live 2 times at the Deep Blues Festival 3 years ago.

Konrad is best understood if you’ve seen him live, that’s an undeniable fact, but it’s become less of a requirement with each album, and now with Feed The Family I think he’s managed to make an album accessible enough that the live show isn’t a requirement for those with a slightly more confined musical palate. Feed the Family captures everything that makes Possessed By Paul James great without spending too much time in that challenging area that requires knowing him live to be able to truly “get it”

So, what does that get you? For long time fans, the stomps, vocal quakes and yelps are still present. For the potential newly indoctrinated (slash Konard live virgins), said stomps, vocal quakes and yelps are mixed more into the background, with Konrad’s picking and passion out front for display. The results are a surprisingly restrained sound that manages to capture the immediate and passionate nature of Konrad’s music. I think with all that said, it’s clear that this is seriously some Essential Listening. If you’ve heard PBPJ before and didn’t like it, listen again ‘cause this is easily the best album he’s recorded to date, as well as a done deal for a slot on the 9B Top 10 of the 2k10.

Possessed By Paul James – Feed The Family
Possessed By Paul James – We Welcome You Home
Possessed By Paul James – Color Of My Bloody Nose

Possessed By Paul James’ official site, Possessed By Paul James on myspace, Buy Feed The Family

Jun 242010
 


Red Clay River proudly comes out of Roanoke, Virgina and could very well be one of the most popular bands ever prior to releasing a full length album. My Red Clay River experience came at Deep Blues Festival ’09. My buddy from here in Florida had already tipped me off about them and made me promise to catch them live while I was there, and being a man of my word, I did. Afterward we went back, met the guys (and gal) and picked up their music. Nothing, neither of the two EP’s I picked up nor the live show I saw last summer, prepared me for what we’re getting from this album.

Now I was admittedly mostly drunk for the bulk of the ’09 incarnation of The Deep Blues Festival, so my recollection of Red Clay River there was of a pretty standard (albeit solid) country/folk effort. The cd’s we picked up were from miscellaneous other incarnations of the band, but if we’re painting in broad strokes the description is pretty much the same as above. So imagine my surprise when this cool little cd shows up full of all these neat percussive beats and sounds coupled with this sometimes plaintive balladeer and at other times Waits-esque rumbling ringleader, all stacked on a quiet & calm traditional folk/country skeleton. It’s enough to catch a man off his guard now, lemme tell you, and while this album may not contain my favorite version of “Rattlesnake Mountain”, it is certainly one of the most surprising and exciting albums so far this year. It’s also a shoe-in for the next Essential Listening collection. Check it out. Tell me what you think:

Red Clay River – Rattlesnake Mountain
Red Clay River – Stompin’
Red Clay River – Hold On


Red Clay River on myspace
, Buy Cover Our Faces With Soot and Dreams

Feb 012010
 


After 4 years, 200+ bands, mounting debt and plenty of rain storms Chris Johnson announced yesterday that he would no longer be doing the Deep Blues Festival. I can’t say I am really all that surprised, the festival was always an ambitious undertaking that at times seemed to feature more band members than actual paid attendees, I guess I just always held out hope that Chris and crew would figure out how to scrape together another year.

The funny thing about The Deep Blues Festival was that it suffered no lack of support from the international / out of town community and it seems it’s ultimate failure may lie solely at the feet of the people in the Twin City area. Not that it matters at this point.

I just wanted to make a post to thank Chris for his efforts with DBF. I made it up there for two of the 4 festivals and had a blast both times. I met some fine folks, made a few friends and I saw bands like Charlie Parr, Possessed By Paul James, Davina and the Vagabonds, A Night In The Box and Jawbone whom I’ll likely never get to see again.

So, thanks for the memories Chris. I wish it would have worked out better for you.

Here are some bands that played DBF over the years:

A Night In The Box – Rich Man’s Table
Black Diamond Heavies – Smoothe It Out
Chris Cotton – The Gambler
Reverend Deadeye – Fuck the Devil
Jawbone – Saucy Sauce
Left Lane Cruiser – Big Mamma
Possessed By Paul James – Ferris Wheel
Scott H. Biram – Time Flies