Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Family Notebook

Our good friend Alan Shephard over at Country Dreams Radio sent us a nice email about our new CD that we'd like to share with ya'll:
"After playing the first 3 singles on Country Dreams, I had high expectations for this new album. It has exceeded those expectations! There are major labels out there kicking themselves for not having a piece of this release!"
And speaking of our CD, thanks to everyone who sent in emails to win a free copy. Our lucky winner is...Sue C. from Moseley, VA.
Congratulations Sue for your free CD and your great taste in music!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Best Damn Country Mix - November 2011

Here’s a little something new for y’all. It’s a roundup of our favorite new songs of the past month. Hope you enjoy!

Jessica Lynne: Singin’ Country – Dusty Srpingfield with a twang
Bare Bones: Come In/Stay Out – Allison Kraus meets U2
Family Reunion: Blue Collar King – Full throttle country rocker
Chicken Tractor Deluxe: The Cuckoo – Banjo and fiddle fest
Mud Blood & Beer: Coming Down – Irresistible guitar licks
Casey Donahew Band: One Star Flag – High octane tribute to the Lone Star State
The Monacchio’s: The Great Flood – Tragically beautiful ballad
Boca Chica: Sin City - Wonderful steel guitar
Steve Parry: My Name is Martin Gibson – Vaguely ominous story of family shame
Michael Donner & The Southern Renaissance: You Really Got Me – A country Paul Kelly & The Messengers
Mississippi Live & The Dirty Dirty: Way Down Here – Country blues with jangling guitars
Early Ray: Where the Wild Things Are – Rowdy hell-raisers
Miranda Lambert: Easy Living – Stripped down tune, but still sassy
Willie Nelson: Why Baby Why – As distinctive as ever
David Nail: Grandpa’s Farm – Down home boogie woogie
Toby Keith: Red Solo Cup – Proceed to party!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Family Reunion gives thanks and a Free CD

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. We've been honored to be the featured artist on Country Dreams Radio syndicated music show. We have had an overwhelming, positive response to our first three singles, we made thousands of new fans (a special konnichiha to our fans in Japan!) and we finished production of our first album! The digital version is out now and the CD version will be available starting December 13th. But we'd like to share a CD copy before it's in stores! Just send us an email ( with "Family Album" in the header, and we'll choose one lucky winner on November 30th and mail them the CD before it hits the stores!
Thanks to everyone for their amazing support this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hank Jr and Ellen DeGeneres play Odd Couple at CMT Artists of the Year Awards

It's been interesting to see the flow of celebrities jumping on the country music bandwagaon lately. From Kid Rock and Julianna Hough to Robin Roberts and even President Obama. Now comes word that Ellen Degeneres is joining the party. She will play a part in the CMT Artists of the Year broadcast on Tuesday, December 13th. For most people, the highlights will be watching Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum receive their well deserved recognition. But for me, the best highlight would be a pairing of Ellen Degeneres with Hank Williams Jr. (who will also be participating in the awards) for a little comic sparring. With their strong senses of humor and even stronger political views, I can envision a Comedy Central style roast breaking out in the middle of the awards! Well, I can always dream, can't I?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Album of the Week: Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers by Chicken Tractor Deluxe

In an age where many country music fans think music from the 1990's is "classic country," Chicken Tractor Deluxe goes much further back for their musical inspiration - all the way to the 1890's! With hints of ragtime (Please Don't Talk To Me) and sharecropper blues (Boll Weavil,) Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers mines the rich spectrum of American music from an era before genres and top 40 charts. Like Steve Martin's The Crow and Michele Shocked's Arkansas Traveller, Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers enthusiastically revives American "front porch" music. Driven by Kai Schafft's wonderfully frenetic banjo picking, Chicken Tractor Deluxe plays like a down home hootenany. With at least three band members taking turns on lead vocals, and instrumental flourishes provided on acoustic guitar, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, and an occasional trumpet; this album feels like an impromptu jam session at an old genral store. Like a jam session where Union Station and Squirrel Nut Zippers happen to drop by! There are many standout moments on this album, but I am drawn to "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" and "Cuckoo." With their references to the Blue Ridge Mountains and log cabins, they capture lyrically what the rest of the album evokes emotionally in music. This album truly captures an era and an attitude. Lately, more bands (and fans) are rediscovering this uniquely American attitude of self reliance and musical independence. So on the eve of Thanksgiving 2011, I give thanks for our American musical heritage. And I am thankful that bands like Chicken Tractor Deluxe are keeping that spirit alive!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Song of the Week: Coming Down by Mud, Blood, and Beer

Somewhere between alternative and alt-country lies an alternative alternative. Not quite country, not quite rock, but definitely influenced by both. Mud, Blood and Beer, like Uncle Tupelo and Wilco before them, falls into this musical shadowland. "Coming Down," the first song on their new EP, Gone For Good, is a perfect example of this genreless genre. Like a mash-up of Old 97s and the Meat Puppets, this song breaks the laws of even outlaw country. With hypnotically rhythmic guitar work and obscure lyrics ("I do believe insanity is wasted on the youth,") "Coming Down" creates more of a mood than a story. Like a scene from a movie, this song makes you feel like you're riding through the wilderness trying to keep one step ahead of the law (or your own personal demons.) You don't know how the story's going to end, you just know it's one hell of a ride!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Toby Keith fills his Red Solo Cup with Glee

After conquering YouTube with over three million hits, Toby Keith's hit song, Red Solo Cup, is taking on the popular Fox series Glee. In this season's episode 8, Chord Overstreet's character will give Toby the Glee treatment. I can't wait to hear what he does with the Freddie Mac line! In the highly unlikely event that you haven't seen the video for Red Solo Cup, here it is. Drink it all in:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Album digital release!

It's here! It's here! The new album is (digitally) here! What started out as a crazy idea turned into a few singles. The response to those first three singles was so good, we decided to move ahead and do a whole album. The (old school) CD will be available on December 13th, but for those of your who can't wait (like us!) the album is available for digital download TODAY! Check us out at Amazon, iTunes, and CDBaby!
We just want to thank everyone who helped encourage and support us as we faced the trials and tribulations of being a cross-country band. So thank you Alan Shepherd at Country Dreams Radio. Thank you to our first fans on Jango. Thank you to Skydog at Red Dirt Radio. Thank you to Bert Gagnon at Neon Productions Radio. Thank you to Billie Joe at NBRN. Thank you to Good Time Charlie at the Japanese Country Festival. And thank you to our blog readers. We couldn't have done it without you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Album of the Week: Double Wide Dream by Casey Donahew Band

As you might expect from The Casey Donahew Band's new album, Double Wide Dream, they wear their white trash roots on their sleeves. With lines like, "she likes to cuss and fight and she can drink all night..." on the title song and "Grandma,she smoked all my swag and Dale Earnhart 3 under a rebel flag..." on "White Trash Story II" they make no pretense of sophistication. In fact, "White Trash Story II" sounds like an even more dysfunctional version of Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From The Family." With lots of songs about drinking and partying and the inevitable follow up songs about lost love, this album plays like a rehab confessional. It's a glimpse into the tortured soul of someone who means well, but feels the regrets of giving in (repeatedly) to temptation. Like Montgomerry Gentry, these guys will never be confused with Nashville's more polished performers. But for that authentic honky-tonk sound, The Casey Donahew Band holds their own with fellow Texans Micky and the Motorcars, Jason Boland and the Stragglers and of course, early Pat Green. (Tell you what!) From the first chords of "Let You Go," Casey and company come out swinging with musical punch. With rockin' guitar and smokin' fiddle, the band swaggers through each track with the confidence born from playing over 200 live shows a year. "One Star Flag," one of the many highights on this album, finds them at their partying peak. With Jerry Lee Lewis inspired piano and Charlie Daniels' fueled fiddle, the song is a full throttle tribute to the Lone Star state. Another highlight, "Could Be My Time" takes a bluesy break from the partying theme of the album. With an optimistic eye toward the future Casey sings, "Keep on dreamin', reality's just believin' there's a chance..." Listening to this album, I have no doubt that this indeed could be their time. I hope we hear a lot more about these guys in the next few years!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Song of the Week: The Great Flood by the Monacchios

I'm departing from our usual party theme for this week's song of the week. Since we're partial to family acts around here, I'd thought we'd feature "The Great Flood" by the Monacchios. These two songwriters met, fell in love, wrote some songs together, and handed out CD copies of their songs to their wedding guests. The first few songs have grown into an album and the first song, especialy, is a great example of storytelling in song. It starts off with two voices harmonizing acapello (souding like a time warped duet of Cat Stevens and Suzanne Vega.) Then a single acoustic guitar is introduced, then a mandolin is added on the next verse. The verses themselves trace a poignant lover's trail of tears. Two peope meet, they fall in love, they face obstacles, they make other plans... Or as the Moracchio's sing: "My true love, it won't be long. I asked your daddy for your hand, but he got the answer wrong." This is a tragic love story in the great tradtion of Country heartbreakers. Love, like the raging waters of a flood, wash over us and carry us away. The real tragedy is to be the one left behind when the flood recedes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

CMA Roundup

by Cousin Carrie

I don't mean to say I told you so, but back in September I told you to keep an eye out for The Band Perry. I had a feeling these guys had some big days ahead. Last night's CMA Awards proved me right! The Band Perry hauled in three awards for song of the year, single of the year, and best new artist. In accepting her award for song of the year, lead singer Kimberly Perry said: "I truly believe that 'If I Die Young' would have been written with or without me. It just always felt like a song that was meant to be here. But I'll tell you this, I was so excited to have the pen and paper in hand when it was ready to come to earth." I'm glad she was there to receive both the song and the award. As I said before, I have a feeling we'll be hearing more from Kimberly and her brothers!
As for the rest of the CMA's, here's a few personal highlights:
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood cohosting - These two had great comic timing. Like Ricky and Lucy, they had me laughing throughout the show.
Brad's subtle put down of egomaniac Kayne West in the show's first minutes.
The crowd's standing ovation for Hank Williams Jr. (and his wilingness to play along with a joke at his own expense.)
Sarah Evans' beautiful performance of "A Little Bit Stronger;" complete with acrobats suspended on billowing red ribbons.
Taylor Swift toning it down a notch with an intimate solo performance
Thompson Square (another band we featured here on this blog) getting their first major tv exposure.
Miss Piggy's cameo and patented karate chop (or is that pork chop?)
Scotty McCreery's larger than life voice on "Walk In The Country" (Although I could have done without the contrived radio award segment shoehorned into the middle of his song.)
The heartfelt tribute to Glen Campbell
And of course, Reba. She didn't do much, and she only appeared at the end of the show, but she's still Reba, and that's enough!
(ALSO, there was a non-award highlight as Dolly Parton's new movie was advertised for the first time. I can't wait!)
I hope ya'll enjoyed the show. For those who missed it, you can check out video highlights here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Album of the Week: Steve Parry - The Fight Left In Me

The best music has the power to transport you to another time or place and to fire your emotions. The music on Steve Parry's The Fight Left In Me definitely has that power. Listening to this album, I am instantly transported to the Great Plains of yesteryear. I can almost hear the campfire crackling in the background as Steve sings earnest songs of love and loss and hopes and dreams. For some reason, I hear Steve Parry sing and I envision the Marlboro Man and that iconic image of a self sufficient man ready to face any challenge. Steve faces the challenges of human drama in the many characters he creates on this album. In "My Name Is Martin Gibson," he sings about a shame so deep it passes through generations: "My name is Martin Gibson, you can't blame that on me. I'm just another dying branch on this family tree." Steve paints a beautifully melancholy portrait of the farmer in "Till I'm Dead:" "I stare out on that red horizon, God I hope there's better days ahead. I guess it don't matter what tomorrow brings; "cause I'll work this land till I'm dead." Like Marty Stuart and Merle Haggard, Steve Parry is a true Western troubador. His acoustic guitar and his strong, yet yearning baritone voice bring each of his characters to life and straight into your heart. With subtle touches of violin, banjo, mandolin, harmonica and accordian (expertly arranged by producer Chris Cuunigham of Storyhill) the songs are each a beautifully woven tapestry of music and story. But the greater harmony is that of a man in tune with himself. Like that old Marlboro Man, Steve understands the peace that comes with self awareness. In "Tao of Betsy" he sings: "The secret to life is simply this, find what you love and you follow your bliss." This singing cowboy is clearly doing what he loves, and the result is pure bliss for those of us lucky enough to ride along.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Song of the Week: Right After the Dance by Buck Owens

As we've mentioned before, this continues to be a good year for tradtional country. Buck Owens adds his name to Country Hall of Fame artists in the news this year. Rockbeat records has recently released Bound for Bakersfield 53-56: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection. Like Hank Williams' Lost Notebooks from earlier this year, this album is a peek into the early formative years of a country musical genius. At the peak of his career, Buck Owens influenced everybody from Merle Haggard to Creedence Clearwater Revival to the Beatles. This collection takes us to Buck's earliest recorded works and gives us some insight into his influences. As country musicians (and fans) ourselves, we often feel the tug of war between tradtional country and modern country music. Many country purists complain that country music has gone steadily downhill since the 70s. Listening to this collection reveals that the debate between traditional and modern has raged since almost the very beginning of country music itself. The cuts on this album alternate between electric telecaster-driven rockabilly (like "Rhythm and Booze") and steel guitar powered country blues (like "There Goes My Love.") In fact, many of the songs on this album appear in two versions, perhaps indicating that Buck felt pulled in two directions at this early stage of his career. But the Buck Owens who would soon become legendary managed to combine his rockabillly and country influences. The result (as in "Right After the Dance") combines the best elements of both. Perhaps that message is as great a gift as the album itself. Even in death, Buck still manages to influence us for the better.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Miranda Lambert goes on the record for Four The Record

Here's a neat little interview with Miranda Lambert discussing the making of her new album, Four The Record. She credits her husband Blake for bringing out more of her sense of humor in this album (as evident in Baggage Claim.) Miranda also explains her willingness to work with other songwriters to be able to draw from a variety of perspectives to add greater depth to ther album. As a band of six songwriters, I think that's one thing we like to do as well - bring a variety of viewpoints and life expereinces to our work. Hey Miranda, if you ever want one stop shopping for a half dozen songwriter perspectives, just drop us a line! We guarantee to give you a "Fine Tune!"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sneek Peak at our new album!

Hey Y'all, we're inching closer to the release date of our first album! The digital version will be available in two weeks on November 15th! To get a sneek peak at one of the new songs, go to Jango and select our latest song, Peas Porrdge Cold. While you're there, make sure to give us the "thumbs up" sign and become a fan of Family Reunion. Drop us a line and let us know what you think. We'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kenny Chesney helps couple "Fall in Love"

Here's a feel good story for you from Wilmington, OH. A guy named Steve was having no luck getting the attention of a girl named Ashley. After months of trying, he finally gave up. Then they unexpectedly ran into each other at a Kenny Chesney concert (was "Fall in Love" playing?) and felt the sparks fly. Sure enough, they get married in a few years. That's a good story right there, but there's more. Ashley developed a rare and dangerous kidney disease. Some of her family offered to donate a kidney, but they were'nt a match. Ashley did find her match though (you guessed it) from her hubby Steve. Now Ashley has more energy than ever before, so she can dance the night away with Steve to Kenny Chesney's "I'm Alive!"