Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Best Damn Country Mix - January 2012

Hey ya'll! It's that time of month again. Here's our roundup of our favorite new country songs of the past month. Enjoy!

Corry Morrow: Beer - It's recorded live at Billy Bob's and it's about beer, what more could you want!
JP & The Gilberts: Fancy Drinkin' Time - When the occasion calls for more than beer, this accordian driven rave up will quench your thirst.
South Bound Lane: Waco - Texans singing about Texas as only Texans can.
Possum Jenkins: Mile Past Broke - So good, they've got they're own genre called Carolinicana.
Family Reunion: A Hard Man (Is Good to Find) - A party anthem for the hell on heels women.
Kellie Pickler: Tough - Tough song about never backing down.
The Great Unknowns: I'm Gonna Get My Heart Broken - Great soul searching tale of life after love's biggest letdown.
Dear Sister: Hey Oh - Canadian country trio with beautifully simple guitars backing beautiful harmonies.
Shelby Lynne: Revelation Road - A rustic, Bonnie Raitt style groove.
Lew Card: Chattanooga Blues - Joe Ely style Texas country blues.
Hellbound Glory: Bastard Child - Unapologetic outlaw country.
Minor Injuries: Indecisive - guitar driven alt-country insight into men's committment phobias.
The Little Willies: Wide Open Road - Nice retro charm from Nora Jones and company.
Dierks Bently: Home - A gentle reminder of what's really important.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Song of the Week: Indecisive by The Minor Injuries

"Indecisive" by The Minor Injuries is a great alt-country song - No, it's a great roots rock song. As you can tell, I still haven't sorted out this subgenre pigeonholing thing. But whatever you call it, Indecisive is a great, loose, lo-fi tune. Like a strangely satisfying combination of Whiskeytown and The Velvet Underground, The Minor Injuries have a great laid-back stream of consciousness feel. They're testing the waters with a self titled EP. The first song on the EP, "Indecisive," is a brutally honest look at one of those "on the fence" relationships. Singing, "I can't decide what to do about you. I'm just seeking out the optimum," The Minor Injuries give insight into men's committment phobias. Yes, the relationship is good enough to stay in, but what if something better comes along? Although this state of mind is no fun for either party, The Minor Injuries wax philosophic by adding, "There's no such thing as making sense out of making love." Although romance can make you indecisive at times, there's no indecision about loving this song.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our song, Blue Collar King, is in a song contest at Hoss the Boss!
Pleasse take a second and vote for us! You can vote once a day through the end of the month.
We really appreciate your support.
Thanks y'all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Album of the Week: THE BILL MONROE COLLECTION by Tony Rice

In honor of bluegrass legend, Bill Monroe's 100th birthday (Sep 13, 2011), guitar virtuoso Tony Rice has released a personal tribute entitled The Bill Monroe Collection (release date January 31, 2012). As Country music drifts further into pop sensibilities, it's nice to stop sometimes and remember where the music began. We were thrilled with the release of early recordings of Hank Williams and Buck Owens last year, and this release (although not by Bill Monroe himself) continues that spotlight on Country's great originators. Known as the "Father of Bluegrass," Bill Monroe had an enormous influence on the early days of Country all the way through the late 70s. For those of you not familiar with the style known as bluegrass, think of the song "Rocky Top" - lots of furious fiddling and banjo strumming mixed with slower country waltzes, all paying tribute to the simple joys of country living. Tony does a wonderful job paying homage to the genre and the man who invented it. Although he omits some of Bill Monroe's most famous songs ("Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "I Saw the Light" come to mind), Tony more than makes up for it with his enthusiastic and authentic renditions of 14 Bill Monroe Classics, most notably his take on "I'm on My Way Back to the Old Home." With over 40 years of experience at "pickin and grinnin," Tony uses his considerable talents to shine a glorious light on a true Country legend. For those of you new to Bluegrass, I hope this collection serves as a nice introduction to help you "see the light."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Etta James dies at age 73

I'd like to take a break from our usual country beat to honor the passing of blues giant, Etta James. Country owes a great deal to the blues and gospel singers who came before, and Etta was one of the best at blending those two styles. You'll hear a lot of her song "At Last" in the coming days in her memory. But I'd like to remember her for her joyful spirit,which I think is better captured on "Something's Got a Hold on Me"
Thank you for your music Etta. Heaven's choir just got a little better.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Song of the Week: Love Doesn't Live Here by Bryan Cole

As you might guess from the title, "Love Doesn't Live Here," by Bryan Cole is not our usual weekend party song. But it is a highly polished power ballad that reminds me of early Tim McGraw or Vince Gill. Bryan's first CD, Wide Open Road, earned a lot of attention from industry insiders like Cashbox and Music Row and this song looks to continue that trend. With melodic guitars and background vocals in support, Bryan sings about that most Country of topics, the broken heart. But in a twist on the familiar theme, in "Love Doesn't Live Here," it's the woman who ends up on the wrong side of the locked door. Singing,"sometimes the distance makes you stronger, and other times it can make you fall apart," Bryan points out that in love you don't always get a second chance. At one point or other in a relationship many of us (not me mind you, but many) have heard the line, "I just need a little space." Well Bryan gives that space, and lot more, as he makes clear that once you leave there's no coming back. So as in many a Country song before, it is Bryan's on again off again love who learns "you don't know what love is 'til it breaks your heart." It's a hard lesson to learn, but where would Country music be without it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Merle Haggard won't sing If We Make It Through December in January

Merle Haggard has been hospitalized for pneumonia. Publicist Tresa Redburn reported that Hag is recuperating in a hospital in Macon, GA. According to his tour manager,Frank Mull, Merle has been feeling ill since leaving his home in northern California last week. His next several shows through the end of the month have been cancelled.
We'll keep you posted as we learn more. In the meantime our thoughts and prayers are with Hag for a speedy recovery.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Resolving Resolutions

I've been thinking lately (as many have)about New Year's resolutions and goals and plans, etc. And it occurs to me that many of the same lessons I've learned about achieving personal goals can apply to bands. So, for what it's worth, here's the top 3 things I've picked up along the way to stay focused as the year wears on:

1. Set specific and attainable goals, not resolutions
Individually, it's more effective to say I will skip dessert one night a week than it is to say "I resolve to lose weight."
Same with bands. It's much more effective to say "I will send out 10 press kits each week." than to say, "I will become famous."

2. Adjust your goals as circumstances change.
If your goal was to get one gig a week and you reach it,congratulations! Now raise that goal to two or three shows a week. Success has a way of building on its own momemtum.

3. Make sure to give thanks
When you stick with your specific goals, you will see results. They won't always be the spectacular "cover of the Rolling Stone" type results, but they will come nevertheless. Remember to give thanks for them, write them down even. Keeping a "gratitude journal" will help you see that your efforts are bearing fruit and will help you stay motivated on those days when everything seems to go wrong.

So far, in the first two weeks of 2012, Family Reunion is grateful for:
48 new fans on Jango internet radio
Being in the Top 10 new Country bands on Jango
Acceptance to the Pandora online playlist (with songs showing in March)
Our first CD review in the Dallas Morning News
A committment for an additional online review in April
Several other newspapers and blogs requesting review copies of our CD
Our first nationally issued press release
Our first restock order on CDs sold through CD Baby

And that's just the first two weeks of January!
We hope your 2012 is just as joyful.
Drop us a line if you have any other ideas for sticking with your New Year's resolutions and goals.

Cousin JD

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Album of the Week: CAROLINACANA by Possum Jenkins

If you like your Country a little on the bluesy side, then pack your bags and take a trip to CAROLINACANA. Possum Jenkins serves up a heaping helping of 14 tracks worth of Piedmont blues perfectly seasoned with tradtional country, gospel, and even country-rock spiciness. They hit a mid-tempo blues groove that's perfectly punctuated by Brent Buckner's soulful harmonica (the best blues harp this side of Blues Traveller.) This CD makes me want to kick off my shoes, step out on the deck with a pitcher of my favorite summertime beverage and just play this disc over and over as I sit back, forget about everything else and just watch the clouds roll by.
Like my bandmates in Family Reunion, Possum Jenkins shares songwriting and vocal duties, creating a mixture of perspectives and vocal diversity. The result is a richly textured collection of songs that caputre the lows and highs of life's grand parade. From the regrets of "Cheatin Song" and "Been There Before" to the cautious optimism of "Mile Past Broke" and "All Is Not Lost" and ultimately to the jubilation of "Better Light" and "Know The Way," Possum Jenkins ponders life's twists and turns with honesty, integrity, and always a hopeful view toward tomorrow. As in "All Is Not Lost," they sing, "We all leave here with nothing, no matter what you bought. As long as there's something in your heart right now, then all is not lost." Indeed all the songs on CAROLINACANA are infused with a spiritual awareness. "A Toast" reminds us that, "You make your own luck and your own Hell." And in the bluesy, gospel song "Know The Way" they sing, "And when I die don't worry cause the worryin's all been done. I'll take care of that part and leave the rest up for the living." Their music reminds us that there will be a better day after this day and a better life after this life. So if you can't find me for the next few days, it's not becuase I'm dead - I'm just playin' Possum!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Song of the Week: Fancy Drinkin Time by JP & The Gilberts

Here's some good luck for this Friday the 13th! This week's featured song is "Fancy Drinkin Time" by JP & The Gilberts. It's a manic, accordian driven (that's right, I said accordian driven) ode to everyone's favorite afterwork pastime. The first lines of the song tell you everything you need to know: "Make me a drink with a cucumber in it; throw in some mash, shake the s*** out of it. I'm doin fine, 'cause it's fancy drinkin time!" The band backs up the lyrics by playing like a Margaritaville blender set on high. Try listening to this song without tapping your feet - it can't be done! JP's voice makes the song even more memorable with his wonderfully nasal, Willie Nelson like voice. Once you've drunk your share of this song, do yourself a favor and check out the rest of this album. It's brilliant, stripped down, low-fi country that's too country for radio. The band describes itself as "folk, old time, honky tonk, twang, alt country." Maybe we can give them their own genre and call it "Fonky Twalt." Whatever you call it,you'll call it damn good. And that calls for a drink (or at least a song about drinking.) Enjoy in good health!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kellie Pickler is "Going Out In Style" with local pooches

Kelly Pickler will host the 2nd annual "Unleashed: Dinner With Your Dog" fashion show on Saturday, January 21st at Nashville's Hutton Hotel. Tickets for the posh pooch event range from $80-$150 and benefit the Nashville Humane Association. Kelly along with Jimmy Wayne, Allison Demarcus, Julie Roberts, Sarah Darling and local fashion and jewelery designers will show off custom “canine couture” pieces on the runway (please don't call it a catwalk!)
Let's hope the music, but not the food, is TOUGH...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

We're Bona-Fide!

Hey y'all, we just got our first album review! Mario Tarradell of the Dallas Morning News said this about FAMILY ALBUM: "The music speaks for itself. Think Lone Star country with dashes of its mainstream counterpart and a little south of the border flavor."
Thank you Mario! And a big "Howdy!' to our fans in Texas!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Album of the Week: DAMAGED GOODS by Hellbound Glory

As 2012 kicks into gear, Hellbound Glory get set to kick some more rear. Their third album, Damaged Goods, is a take-no-prisoners set of high energy outlaw country. Like the original outlaw country artists, Waylon, Willie, and David Allen Coe, Hellbound Glory do things their own way and don't much care for rules. But unlike the original outlaws whose central message was, "I'm gonna do wrong, and if I hurt you in the process I'm sorry." Hellbound Glory's message is, "I'm gonna do wrong - deal with it!" With the first track on Damaged Goods, "Bastard Child," they let you know where they stand: "I was born a bastard child, but I wear it with no shame. For any good or bad I've done, I'll take the credit and the blame." And again in "Til The Lights Go Out," they warn you that, "This ain't my first fight in a bar parking lot." Listening to this album, that's easy to believe. Clearly no strangers to hard living, their songs paint a bleak picture of life on society's bottom rung. There are no happy endings in songs like, "Knocked Off The Horse," "Better Hope You Die Young," and "Gonna Be A Goner." In each of these songs death becomes a more attractive option than living in despair. But despite the somber lyrics, the music is full of energy and attitude; as if death itself is just another barroom fight. Listening to Damaged Goods might not make you a better person, but it will certainly make you feel thankful that you're better off than some. And it will definitely keep your toe tapping along the way.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

From Hospital Board to Chairman of the Board, Darius Rucker sings Sinatra for charity

Genre hopping singer Darius Rucker has moved seamlessly from Rock to Country and now adds Big Band Jazz to his resume. This February 13th, Rucker will perform a slate of Sinatra classics at the Charleston Music Hall to benefit MUSC Children's Hospital. But Rucker has no plans to leave his new Country fans, "It's something I do for charities. I'm not trying to get a record deal. I love to do it if I can help a charity here," he says.
His goal, as a board member of the hospital, is to raise half a million dollars. To make sure "The Best Is Yet To Come" for these kids get your tickets or donate to the MUSC Children's Hospital events site here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Album of the Week: HOMEFRONT by The Great Unknowns

One of the highlights of 2011 for me was discovering talented new artists and sharing them with ya'll here. I'm thrilled to continue that tradition in 2012 by introducing The Great Unknowns. I suspect The Great Unknowns won't remain unknown for long, because the emphasis on their album HOMEFRONT is surely on the "Great." Sounding like a cross between Lucinda Williams and Reckless Kelly, singer Becky Warren and bandmates Avril Smith, Altay Guvench, and Andy Eggers deliver an earnest dose of alt-country blues. From the first crunchy guitar chords of "Lexington" to the last somber note of "Army Corps of Engineers," HOMEFRONT is a beautiful, yet bittersweet musical masterpiece. Somewhere in the uncharted musical landscape between Country, Rock, and Blues lies my favorite kind of music; heartfelt and honest, full of soul and pulsing with energy. The Great Unknowns ride through this musical wilderness like expert Indian trackers. Never taking a false step, never hesitating, they move so seamlessly thrugh the musical terrain you almost forget they're there. Against this musical backdrop, Becky Warren's lyrics and voice shine like stars in the autumn night sky. She bares her personal struggles with the divorce of her husband who returned home from Iraq with PTSD. But through the break up there's a compassion for the man she can no longer bear to stay with. In "Long Way Home," she sings, "I know you're not to blame, but my heart broke all the same. You came back to me a different man." And again in the same song she adds, "I wish I'd taken one more look at your face, 'cause you're a stranger to me now." Clearly this is not a "take a louisville slugger to the headlights" breakup. This is not a woman escaping from a prison-like relationship. This is a woman forced to flee the home she loved as she watches it burn to the ground. To escape the pain of that reality, Becky and company take us on drink-to-forget exodus from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Ozarks and beyond. With guitars jangling like spurs, The Great Unknowns try desperately to outride the truth they can't face. In "Homefront," Becky even considers the perspective of her troubled soldier husband, singing "Somewhere along this highway is the soul of every man who ever left his girlfriend to fight in a foreign land... sweet Elizabeth you were right, there ain't no homefront." But through the struggles Becky finally finds acceptance, if not peace, as she sings in the album's final track, "Army Corps of Engineers;" "First April without you, I went down to the bridge,I gathered all my ghosts and threw them in... This too will pass away, like your breath on a window on a cold winter's day." The entire album plays like a soundtrack in search of a movie - a very good movie at that. The soldiers who serve our country give up so much for the benefit of the rest of us - sometimes they give so much of themselves that they forget who they are. HOMEFRONT reminds us, in a deeply personal way, the sacrifices our soldiers (and those who love them) make; and that the battles still rage even when the war is over.