That’s pretty effed up.

August 12, 2017

Also, as if we needed a reminder of how, shall we say, out of whack things are…

On one hand we have supposed “country” act Florida Georgia Line doing a duet with the Backstreet Boys, and on the other hand, on her album that just dropped yesterday, we have pop star Kesha doing a duet with Dolly Parton on “Old Flames (Can’t Hold A Candle To You)” (a No. 1 country hit for Dolly back in 1980) — and a surprisingly good version of it, even.

Granted, Kesha actually has a somewhat personal connection to that song, as her mother co-wrote it, but even so, this is a disappointingly rare thing, and a pretty damning commentary on the state of affairs in Nashville. You hear people talking about country having to appeal to pop fans, and maybe that’s true to an extent, but I for one think this is a much better way of doing it — that is, pop stars putting their own spin on gems from country music just like this one. People are gonna hear this, and they’ll go hunting for the Dolly recording of it…

…and if they’re half as inquisitive as I am they’ll find the Merle Haggard version of that song…

…and from there, who knows? They might even come away fans of those artists in general. And there are a lot more great songs where that one came from, from dozens of artists.

You laugh, but do you think FGL and Luke Bryan doing their thing with their non-existent country/hip-hop mixtape is gonna get people turned on to George Strait, even?

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In memory of Glen Campbell…

August 8, 2017

who died today at 81, and who showed us that pop country did not have to suck, and could, in fact, be very good, very good indeed…

Oh, this is nifty.

July 16, 2017

I’ve ranted in this space before about how so many people forgot about Rodney Crowell after Diamonds & Dirt

…but it deserves to be mentioned that he did some good stuff before that album, too. He recorded great versions of some of the songs he made his name with as a songwriter, including “Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” and “Stars on the Water.”

And then there was this, which I never knew existed before yesterday…

…which was originally recorded by Crowell’s fellow Texan Moon Mullican some years earlier.

…wait, what?

July 8, 2017

So, an anti-gun group, who ostensibly espouses peace and nonviolence…

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…uses a sign that evokes the Rising Sun flag used by the Japanese military in World War II. Oh, the irony!

Read the rest of this entry »

What happened to…what, now?

June 23, 2017

The proper question is, “What happened to honest music journalism?” Or “Who are the people quoted here and why in the hell do their opinions on Texas Music matter?” There’s so much bullshit here that it practically fisks itself, but what the hell.

A New York guy killed Texas Music. Yes, friends, the disintegration of this state’s edgy brand of country rock can be traced back to New York-born Texas-transplant Jerry Jeff Walker.

Uh…come again? There wouldn’t BE a Texas music to speak of if it wasn’t for Jerry Jeff Walker. But even so, whatever the objective state of Texas Music circa 2017, it strikes me as not quite fair, and more than a bit simplistic, to blame just him for it, because practically everyone in Texas Music 2.0, from Roger Creager to William Clark Green, was influenced by him. And all of that is assuming that we take the article’s central premise is true, and it just isn’t. Not by a long shot.

Robert Earl Keen Jr. followed in the 1980s, tapping into Walker’s party anthem vibe but with deeper writing (“Swerving in My Lane,” “The Road Goes on Forever”). The rowdies were inflamed.

Really. I’m going to guess these people have never heard “Mariano,” “Jesse with the Long Hair,” or “Shades of Gray,” or, hell, even the original version of “The Road Goes On Forever.” I remember hearing the latter and thinking it was anything but a party song; the one line in the song with the title is practically the only upbeat thing about it.

Then along from Oklahoma came Red Dirt, a similar type of rowdy country but with an even more Neanderthal approach.

Wait, what? Are we even listening to the same artists? Stoney LaRue, Jason Boland, Ragweed? These people don’t have a freaking clue.

And the bit about Maren Morris’ talent getting her noticed is utterly laughable. That’s not really a commentary on said talent, but rather…well…let’s just put it like this: If Maren Morris sounded like Lee Ann Womack or Courtney Patton, who are both every single bit as talented as she is, we all know that Nashville and country radio never would have given her the time of day.

I think my biggest problem with this article, though, is the fact that none of these people bother to actually call anyone out. Are there acts in Texas music who don’t measure up? Sure there are. And we all know who they are, more or less. But if you’re going to call the scene out for its quality or lack thereof, it’s incumbent upon you to point fingers and name names. Nobody hesitates to do that for Nashville, and we ought not to hesitate to do it for Texas/Red Dirt or any other scene. Not only should that be done to make the scene better, but also to differentiate between the good and the bad. Just like it’s wrong to say ’80s metal sucks because of Poison, it’s just as wrong to modern Texas music sucks because of Sam Riggs.

And, again, who the hell are any of these people quoted in this stupid article? If it was Ray Wylie Hubbard or Billy Joe Shaver or any of those guys saying all this that’d be one thing, but it’s just a bitter gaggle of nobodies with nothing more than axes to grind for reasons that only God Himself knows.

Well, all righty then.

June 21, 2017

So, on one hand we have mainstream Nashville artists doing a tribute to Motley Crue, and on the other hand, we have this:

What started out to be the idea for a heavy metal album of Outlaw country covers by DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara has apparently turned into a monster project that may include dozens of songs and as many as 25 guest appearances. A project long rumored from the band, Dez Fafara says he started reaching out to folks in the metal world who may want to contribute, and he received such an overwhelming reception, the project has taken on a life of its own.

Randy Blythe from Lamb of God, Lee Ving from the band Fear, and Chuck Billy from Testament are some of the names said to be involved with the project, with many other contributors being kept under wraps at the moment. Though the album was originally due to be released this fall, it won’t likely be released until next year due to the amount of contributions.

It might sound surprising at first glance that we’d see something like this, but it’s really not. You could call it the flip side of Jason Boland being a fan of Iron Maiden. There’s at least a little bit of precedent for metal covers of country songs, with — among others —Iced Earth covering “Highwayman” and Adrenaline Mob covering “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” And there were quite a few metal artists who paid verbal tribute to Merle Haggard when he passed away last year.

At the end of the day it’s really about liking honest, real music more than anything else, and I’ve always thought that real country music and most heavy metal had that in common if nothing else. I remember when Don Henley released Cass County a couple of years ago, I thought it was pretty sad that an aging rocker made a better country album than most if not all of the popular “country” artists of the day, and I could make a similar observation here — that is, that it’s pretty sad that it’s left to artists from another genre to pay tribute to country greats while “country” artists are paying tribute to middle-of-the-pack ’80s glam metal bands. I know that a mainstream country tribute to country legends these days would be every bit as insincere and inauthentic as the ever-popular country/hip-hop mixtape, but that inauthenticity is just yet another symptom of the problem with mainstream country music.

At any rate, I must admit I’m pretty interested to hear this tribute. I wouldn’t be too keen on hearing the Cookie Monster vocals on any of those songs, as I’ve never been a fan of that style to begin with — I much prefer metal with clean vocals — but I can definitely respect the metal guys doing something like this, at least. Considering that the album is going to have at least a few country artists collaborating, I bet it’ll have at least a few good if not great moments. We’ll see.

Something to remember today.

May 29, 2017

Back in 2009, I remember going to the big Memorial Day celebration in Orange. The Patriot Guard Riders didn’t get to make their grand entrance as planned because of the torrential rains, but they still came. I remember that I just about lost it  when Beaumont PGR chapter president Sandra Womack told everyone why they still came. She said of the fallen soldiers, “They didn’t get an opportunity to choose the weather they fought in, or to choose whether or not to go.”

We should remember that, today and every day.

Well, damn. Another one gone.

May 27, 2017

Really, 2017?

Music legend Gregg Allman, whose bluesy vocals and soulful touch on the Hammond B-3 organ helped propel The Allman Brothers Band to superstardom and spawn Southern rock, died Saturday, his manager said. He was 69.

I have said before that the Eagles were the first classic rock band that I got into; it could probably be safely said that the Allman Brothers were the second. My favorite ABB song, “Ramblin’ Man,” had Dickey Betts on lead, but those guys just didn’t do a bad song; my favorite with Gregg on lead vocals was always “Statesboro Blues,” with “Whipping Post” a close second.

Of course, with my love for classic country, it wouldn’t have been a far trip to ABB fandom, as Southern rock and outlaw country are close cousins, if not brothers, as a more than cursory listen to either of them would reveal. In fact, both Waylon and Willie covered “Midnight Rider”…

 

…and “Ramblin’ Man,” according to ABB drummer Butch Trucks, was meant for none other than Merle Haggard himself:

“After Duane died, for one thing there was only one guitar player, but then Dickey kind of took over and we quit playing so much in that jazz genre that we were playing in and started heading more toward country stuff,” Butch Trucks explained. “And then out came ‘Ramblin’ Man,’ and if I never hear that song again it’ll be too soon … [laughs]. We actually went to the studio to make a demo of that to send to Merle Haggard. Even Dickey figured it was much too country for the Allman Brothers.”

We’re all mortal, but just, damn. Won’t ever be another like him.

8 days. — ***UPDATED***

May 24, 2017

UPDATE, 24 May, 9:30 AM Central: WE HAVE POWER! FINALLY!

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What’s the significance of that number, you ask?

That’s the number of days that we’ve been without power. But it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

Tuesday morning, May 16 — the day after the fire — I took off work and made calls. — to SAWS (water), Time Warner/Spectrum (Internet), and CPS Energy (power). The first two are taken care of. The third, well…

…if everything was good there, you wouldn’t be seeing this blog post.

The power was scheduled to be turned on at the new place on Thursday, May 18. They said they would contact me if any problems arose. I didn’t get any calls or emails, so I thought everything would be fine. But I decided to be proactive and call CPS Energy on Thursday.

Guess what?

It got delayed because they had to do an investigation into the request due to power being stolen at the new location. I could either wait for the investigation to take its course, staying in the hotel all the while, or pay the over $1000 for the power that was stolen and have them turn it on immediately. Because, of course, I just have that laying around after losing all that stuff in the fire and having to restock, right? They need a lease, and ALSO, I find out that there are repairs that need to be made.

I provide a lease.

They can’t read the lease.

I call the electrician, he comes out and says everything is fine.

I give them a better copy of the lease.

And then I find out I have to call the engineering department to get a line and meter put in.

I call the engineering department, I tell them what’s going on, and they transfer me to customer service to get things set up as a new move-in.

All the while, here we are, paying out every bodily orifice for a hotel and food (mostly with donations, and all of you who have donated have my eternal thanks for that).

Did I mention that I had to be the one to reach out to CPS Energy for this, every step of the way? Yes. They NEVER ONCE contacted me about any delays in the process.

(But they’ll for damn sure send me a bill and call me when my payment’s late, won’t they?)

Supposedly everything’s going to be on by the end of the day…

…but if we get to the weekend, we’re probably going to need to go back into a hotel. I am not sure, but I do know it’s going to get very hot, and I can’t just have my family out in that. So, and I hate hate, HATE to do this, but anything you could spare for donations for the emergency fund would be greatly appreciated. You can either donate to the fund I talked about here, or send donations to Sabra’s PayPal at the following email address:

sabramorse at gmail dot com

Again, thank you all so much for your help in this trying time.

A few words on Chris Cornell…

May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell died, huh?

Well that sucks. I can’t lie and say I was always a fan, as I was more into country music than anything else in the ’90s, but once I started exploring other genres more I really took a liking to both Soundgarden and Audioslave. In fact, Soundgarden got to be one of the few ’90s rock bands I really liked. I once said that pretty much the only bands from the ’90s that I thought were worth a damn were the Offspring and Stone Temple Pilots, but you could definitely add Soundgarden to that short list.

And then there was this, from Cody Canada:

I feel like my childhood is dying.
Over the last couple of years the ones who taught me are leaving this place. I know this happens with every generation but I’m not ready.
I’m just not sure who our kids and our kids kids will listen to.
I was jolted back in time this morning looking at my crying boys.
Keith Whitley died when I was Willy’s age. I couldn’t stop crying because he moved me so much. My sweet parents let me stay home and play guitar that day.
Everyday the boys play Cornells voice in one form or another.
Doesn’t matter the bands name. It’s him man. It’s his demon. It’s his love. It’s his voice that we all gravitated towards.
The older I get the more I realize what’s important. Not the band name or the jaded ex member or the record label or what you wear. It’s the point of that one song in that right moment that made you cry or say I’m going to play music and change people’s day.
I’m going to carry on what this person spoke to me.
People have been trying to tell me how to do it and who they think I am for years now.
I know who I am and I know the people that made me believe in who I am and where I’m going. I catch myself telling my boys “no not like that” I’m wrong. Do it boys.
Don’t waste time listening to people tell you you’re not doing it right. How do they know?
I’ve been doing it since I was a child. Am I doing it right? Damn right I am. My way. Because that’s how they did it.
How you gonna stand out if you fit in.
Godspeed Mr. Cornell.
You paved a way for three generations of Canada’s. I hope you know what you did to music.

And you know, even if I didn’t like Soundgarden, I would at least respect them, for stuff like this. If there hadn’t been a Soundgarden, for all we know there wouldn’t have been a Cross Canadian Ragweed, and Red Dirt music would have been poorer for that.

And yes, that goes for all those other ’90s bands that I will freely admit to *not* liking.

I would say something about all those yahoos coming out of the woodwork crowing about the demise of “hair metal” at the hands of Cornell and his contemporaries…but, well, fuck them. They’re full of crap, they’ve always been full of crap, and they’ll always be full of crap.