ROCK REPORT: DRAG THE RIVER & CORY BRANAN (IN THE ROUND) @ RUDYARD'S; HOUSTON, TX

I don’t think I’ve missed a Cory Branan show in any town he’s played that I was within a hundred miles of since I met some years back in Fayetteville, AR. However I had never seen Drag The River until a few nights ago. I had seen Jon Snodgrass with Cory on their last tour but it was without Chad Price. I still haven’t seen the whole band and since my going to the Suburban Home Records 15th Anniversary Party fell through I won’t be seeing the whole band in just a few days and yes I am fucking bitter about it! I did, however, get to see something damn cool. Right before Cory took the stage to open for Jon and Chad, Jon suggested they play in the round, which apparently isn’t their normal style, and let me tell you it was pretty damn cool. Aside from Jon not playing “Back to God” (and I quote) “Why won’t you all request songs we remember how to play!” I got to hear everything I wanted to hear. I didn’t shoot this show on my wife’s camera so no bad ass shots like last time but I did buy a Flip and video some select songs. I learned a couple of things as well. Number one: The more I drink the worse off I am as a camera man and number two: AA batteries only last about thirty minutes in a Filp. Other than that I got a dozen songs on video not counting Cory and Jon’s little 9B exclusive at the end of the night while the staff was trying to make us all leave since the bar was nine kinds of closed.

Seeing all of these guys trade songs back and forth and accompany each other on favorites was an amazing experience. Songs that I’ve heard thousands of times took on a whole new aspect. It was hard not to sing along with every last one of the songs and I failed at some points so you can hear me on the video if you listen close enough and for that I apologize. Seeing Jon sing along with Cory was cool and finally seeing Chad do “This Cross” was nearly a religious experience. I drank, bought drinks, and sang along probably way too loud. It was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. If you missed The Budget Helicopter Tour then you missed one of the best tours of the year. I may not be able to make it to Denver this week but I got to see three of my favorite artists on stage exchanging songs and it was a damn good time. Since I don’t have any audio of this show and you all damn sure better know every song by these boys I am just going to post the videos. Since there are a ton of them you’ll have to click the link to see them all…

Nine Bullets Exclusive – Cory Branan w/Jon Snodgrass – Daddy Was a Skywriter

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JACKSON TAYLOR & THE SINNERS

Aces n Eights

This might be a little off the farm for some of ya’ but here is an album from an ol’ boy I saw quite by accident and ended up hangin’ with (read: got way too wasted with) all night…

I was headed out to see Jason Boland at The Firehouse for the umpteenth time and left too early or didn’t stop and eat so I got there before the opening act had even started. You see I usually skip the opening acts for most bands I go see and that may be kind of shitty it’s just how I’ve done it for years. Anyway… The opening act, some dude named Jackson Taylor, starts up and much to my surprise the music was quite good. I meandered over near the stage there was this old boy wearin’ a Social D t-shirt, covered in tats belting out country music. One thing led to another and instead of seeing the band I came to see I ended up hanging out with the opener all night. There’s a story there that doesn’t warrant telling here but you can rest assured I had a grand ol’ time.

That said I have to admit this isn’t my favorite Jackson Taylor album. I mean he’s a bad son of a bitch (I was at a show he was late to because he had to bailed out of jail for a bar fight the night before) but it seems sort of forced in places on this album. The music is more polished than his early stuff and that could play into why I am not as into as his other albums. So why write about it? Well that’s because as much as it’s not my favorite JT album it’s still a damn site better than most of the tripe passing as country music these days and there are some real gems on it as well. I have a feeling even the songs that aren’t that great on this offering will be pretty damn good live because that’s just how Jackson is.

The two Social D covers, Ball & Chain and Highway 101, may be my fourth and fifth favorite covers this year (#1 Micah Schnabel – Can’t Hardly Wait, #2 Michael Dean Damron – Beautiful and Damned, #3 Chad Price – Hybrid Moments) and the new recording of Jackson’s own classic Barefeet on the Dash make this one worth picking up. At first listen the music may sound like standard Country & Western to some the lyrics and attitude is where Jackson makes his stand. He follows in the outlaw tradition of Waylon, Willie, Ray Wylie and Billy Joe in writing music that Nashville won’t touch with a ten foot pole as well as touching on topics that are generally forbidden in the radio safe sounds drifting out of Music City. Jackson is most assuredly a Texas boy, born and bred, and that shows through when he plays and in his overall approach to life.

Aces ‘n Eights ain’t gonna make album of the year for me but it ain’t getting deleted off my iPod either. It’s a good listen and I may be too harsh a critic. Pick it up and decide for yourself.

Two from Aces ‘n Eights
Jackson Taylor – Ball and Chain (Social Distortion Cover)
Jackson Taylor – Country Song

Two from Live, Locked, & Loaded at Longhorns:
Jackson Taylor – Whiskey & Women
Jackson Taylor – Old Lone Star

Jackson Taylor & The Sinners Official Site, Jackson Taylor & The Sinners on myspace, Buy Aces & Eights