Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Underground Country Music Is Dying (A Treatise), Repost From Saving Country Music

Eric Church may sing about a country music Jesus coming to save us all, but what Triggerman speaks on in the article below, is tangible salvation of the music scene, we all enjoy. The underground country, roots rock and americana underbelly, is a vast and whole heartedly opinionated group of individuals, who get passionate, when asked about what defines the genre(s) as a whole. The mere notion of creating one true definition is a tough pill to swallow. As a group it's an amalgamation of all these disparate music tribes, which make the perfect gumbo stew. 

There is a not a music genre alive, that has not had similar growing pains from punk to metal to even hip hop. Read on with the great write up below and add your thoughts to the discussion thread on Saving Country Music.

Link to original post on Saving Country Music

"On Saturday November 17th, two of the most important acts in underground country played what very well could be their final shows. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, a band that was there at the very beginning of underground country and the revitalization of the lower Broadway in Nashville announced they are calling it quits after 16 years, at least for now, playing their final show at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge. Meanwhile in Covington, Kentucky, Unknown Hinson, one of underground country’s greatest ambassadors from his work on Cartoon Network’s Squidbillies, played his final show as a touring act after 17 years, saying he was done, “Period.”

Both these acts had their specific reasons for calling it quits, and certainly the door is open for them to return. And for JD Wilkes, the long-time front man of The Shack Shakers, he still has his Dirt Daubers routine which has apparently retooled to a more electric sound. But you add these huge, high-profile, highly-important artists leaving on top of bands like .357 String Band dissolving, Sunday Valley re-aligning, and Leroy Virgil losing all his original players in Hellbound Glory, and all of a sudden underground country feels like it’s fighting a war of attrition, and losing.

I have been struggling to write this article for almost two years, but have been putting it off because there’s some hard things to say, and I didn’t want to “talk down” a movement that was already trying to deal with pretty alarming trends. But I think that especially now, zooming out and trying to be honest and critical in a constructive way is important, because there is positively no doubt that underground country is dying, and has been for years.
Why? Here are some ideas.

An aging fan base and aging artists

There are exceptions of course, but if you look at who comprises the underground country movement, it is predominantly people in their 30′s, and people from lower incomes. And what do people do in their 30′s? They settle down, they get married and have kids, they get better and more stable jobs, they buy houses. This gives them less time to spend partying, hanging out on the internet talking about music, going to shows on weeknights. In your 30′s, instead of being able to hit every underground country show rolling through town, you have to pick that one show a month you want to attend and pay a babysitter.

The same goes for the artists making underground country music. As they age, their motivations to keep working at music that doesn’t seem to want to stick commercially begin to fade. Health concerns begin to become an issue, and not being able to afford health insurance is a real concern. This was one of the primary issues facing the Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers. Yearning for more stability is a recurring theme in the attrition underground country is facing in its talent roster, from banjo player Joe Huber of the .357 String Band, to drummer Chico from Hellbound Glory.

Something else worth noting is the large sect of sober people who make up underground country, in both the artist and fan ranks. Over time, some people must move away from the music and party scenes to find their sobriety, and others may just not identify any more with music that tends to have foundations in a party lifestyle.

Meanwhile the infusion of youth into underground country is anemic. There are some exceptions. The Boomswagglers from Texas and The Slaughter Daughters are promising, young bands, and artists like Lucky Tubb and Wayne Hancock have been integrating side musicians into the scene for some time. But they rarely stick, partly because of a general lack of support. Any younger musician if they’re smart doesn’t attempt to start their rise in underground country, which seems to be trending down and never had much long-term infrastructure to begin with. They look towards Americana, or the Texas/Red Dirt scene, or bluegrass, where the support is much easier to count on.

A Lack of Leadership

Since the beginning of underground country, if you looked at the top of the pyramid you saw Hank Williams III, and that is still the case in regards to records sales and concert tickets sold in any given year. But in 2008, Hank3 took over a year off from the road, and shortly after he started touring again, he stopped carrying opening bands. Then he put out a succession of albums of questionable quality, and all of a sudden a career on the rise has been stagnant for going on 5 years, and same goes for the the scene that revolves around it.

It was not Saving Country Music or Free Hank III, or even MySpace that comprised the first information portal about underground country. It was Hank3′s “Cussin’ Board” forum. And people didn’t go there just for Hank3 news, but news about all the underground country bands, with artists like JB Beverley and Rachel Brooke participating in the discussions regularly. These days, the “Cussin’ Board” feels like a ghost town compared to its vibrant past.

Shooter Jennings has stepped up in the last two years to attempt to fill the leadership vacuum left by Hank3, and has done some positive things and had some marginal success. But his polarization has kept him from completing the task of becoming a solid leader everyone can look up to. Similarly, where Hank3 was once the most unifying factor in underground country, his obvious step back from the “scene” has now made him a polarizing figure as well, questionably capable of taking back the reigns of underground country even if he was motivated to, and which he’s shown positively no signs of wanting to do. I can’t blame Hank3 for wanting to take a step back, because there were so many people wanting to take from him, believing his name was their stepping stone to success.

Leadership must come from the artists, and it must come from the music first, and that is Shooter Jennings’ inherent problem. This was illustrated when he cut the “Drinking Side of Country” duet with Bucky Covington, or on his industrial rock album Black Ribbons. Whether you like these Shooter projects or not, they illustrate his lack of consistency that has lead to his ineptness as a leader of underground country, and his acute polarization that reaches as far as Eric Church fans, and fans of his father. Hank3 never professed himself a leader. He led by example, and used causes like Reinstate Hank to lead the charge of taking country music back.

The Scene Has Replaced The Movement


One of the reasons an underground of country music was founded was from a wide ranging dissent about the direction of country music. This dissent is where the varying range of musical styles united, taking the country punk of Hank3, the neo-traditional approach of Wayne Hancock, the Texas/Outlaw country of Dale Watson, the bluegrass of the .357 String Band, the blues of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, and the Gothic country of Those Poor Bastards and piling them all together in the overall underground country movement. It was united by issues, like the reinstatement of Hank Williams to the Grand Ole Opry, the opening and extension of the Williams Family Exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, the fight for creative freedom of artists from record labels, and the fight against the infiltration of pop on country radio.

Now these issues that defined, united, and energized the country music underground are seen as tired, if not counter-productive or annoying to many in the underground population. When issues arose with the sale of the Grand Ole Opry to Marriott International, or the changing of Billboard’s chart rules, the underground met them with apathy, if not anger at them being offered up as relevant to their music world. Issues are what made outreach possible for underground country, and now exclusivity seems to be what is yearned for by the majority of underground country fans. The “we have our music, screw the masses” attitude is what prevails, taking away one of the primary promotional tools for independent-minded underground ideals to reach out to other country music fans who also might be feeling disenfranchised with the mainstream.

Scenes and Cliques

Image and exclusivity seem to be the important dynamics in today’s country music underground, dragging on the commercial viability of the music, and making it hard for outsiders to integrate with the underground country culture. Though some on the outside looking in may enjoy the music, they may not understand the verbiage, anecdotes, and style that seem to be important with “fitting in” to the underground. So as long-time underground country fans taper off because of age, no new blood is there to take their place.

Facebook has also narrowed the perspectives of underground country fans, making them feel like how you present yourself is more important than what you do. An unhealthy culture of cloistered, inbred cross-promotion prevails through underground country, where small cliques of fans and bands have formed around labels, blogs, and podcasts, catering content to a select few.

These cliques promote each other within the clique, and at times may branch out farther to the “scene,” but rarely reach new blood because they are based on narrow perspectives and anecdotal experiences. It’s an “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” culture where quality and creativity are lightly regarded compared to political importance in the scene. And if you don’t participate in this culture of narrow, ineffective promotion of the other people in the scene or clique, you risk being ostracized. Intention is measured over effectiveness. These cliques and their differences have also given rise to eternal conflict, with the bigger overall “Shooter fans vs. Hank3 fans” splitting underground country squarely in half.

Saving Country Music, and I specifically have at times enhanced or enabled unnecessary “scene” drama, and this has potentially affected the fate of underground country adversely. There are lot’s of entities in underground country and roots who attempt to promote music that seem to get lost in promoting their branding and merch first, and the music second. There are many general reasons underground country is dying, but the specific one is lack of money. Underground country is funded by the $40 hoodie, and this creates a paradox for the music that is supposed to be the focus.

Though there is lots of talk about shared responsibility for keeping underground music alive, and there’s many folks who re-post bulletins on Facebook, take pictures and videos of shows, run podcasts, or boutique “labels” attempting to make a difference in the music, the effect is confined to cliques and micro-scenes, and is more catered to serving the few and propagating image and branding.

For example the Pickathon Festival in Portland that caters to a wide variety of independent roots movements, including underground country, boasts over 300 volunteers annually. The Muddy Roots Festival, which almost exclusively caters to underground country and roots had roughly a dozen volunteers this last year, with multiple people who signed up to volunteer to get discounted or free tickets either not working their shifts, walking off their shifts, or generally being unhelpful. Pickathon’s issues with people sneaking onto the site are marginal. Muddy Roots’ issues of people sneaking on site without paying are major. The most helpful volunteers at the 2012 Muddy Roots were a representative from a hair gel sponsor, and the Voodoo Kings Car Club who have very few ties to the music.

There seems to be little understanding that if bands, labels, and festivals are going to continue to exist, there must be a shared sacrifice from the fans. And not just symbolic sacrifice, but substantive efforts to offer real support to the entities making the music happen. Without any corporate funding, that’s how an underground music movement works.

A Lack of Creativity

Underground country was founded on creativity. The creativity found on albums such as Hank3′s Straight to Hell, Wayne Hancock’s Thunderstorms & Neon Signs, Dale Watson’s Live in London, and Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers’ Cockadoodledon’t is what caused a country music underground to form in the first place. In the mid 2000′s, you could confidently say that the creativity in underground country outlasted that of the mainstream per capita. These days underground country is mired in trying to recapture that creativity, in a practice that lends to the aping of styles and the rehashing of themes. Capturing a “punk gone country,” “honky tonk Outlaw”, or “old-time” aesthetic seems more important than carving out a new creative niche like the originators of underground country did.
Meanwhile any true creativity existing in underground country quickly evolves beyond it to greener pastures in Texas country or Americana, like Justin Townes Earle did. The lack of infrastructure, the presence of scenesters, and the general disorganization of the underground dissuades talented artist from associating themselves with it. Americana, Red Dirt, Texas, and West Coast circuits offer much more hospitable and palatable scenes, while underground country generally discourages cross-pollination with these kindred, independent-minded movements, misunderstanding them as either mainstream, or too high-minded for the music they like.

The Positives


A step removed from the influence of the scene, Europe continues to thrive and grow their support for underground country. There seems to be more general thankfulness that underground country music exists in Europe, and a stronger focus on the music itself instead of the scene that surrounds it. There’s more support, more of a volunteering attitude, and more of a willingness to help make the music happen by the fans. Europe continues to be the most commercially-viable place for many underground country bands to tour and sell albums, and that support is continuing to grow.

A Few Breakout Bands

Bands like Larry & His Flask, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, and The Goddamn Gallows have found some decent success over the past few years playing on some bigger tours like The Warped Tour and opening for The Reverend Horton Heat. Bob Wayne has found traction in Europe and domestically being singed with label Century Media. Justin Townes Earle is now a big concert draw, and Scott Biram is getting his music played on television shows.

But many of these artists are moving on from the traditional underground country infrastructure to find their success, and others like Leroy Virgil and Sturgill Simpson still seem to be one step behind where their creative potential should be taking them commercially.

Festival & Touring Infrastructure

This is something underground country was lacking for years, and now has a healthy dose of. Unfortunately rising gas prices and dwindling crowds sometimes means it’s too little too late for some bands. The reason Unknown Hinson says he quit touring was because it was costing him too much money.

There are more festivals in all shapes and sizes catering to underground country and roots than ever before. But again, with a dwindling fan base, these different festivals are competing with each other for the same anemic and contracting population.

The Deep Blues

The Deep Blues seems to be on a more sustainable path, and also seems to be able to divest itself from the drama that is confounding underground country. However since it shares much of the same infrastructure as underground country, the issues in underground country can bleed over to the deep blues as well. There is better sustainability in Deep Blues, but the growth is still marginal. In many ways, the Deep Blues is the only thing keeping underground country alive, and that could hinder Deep Blues from moving forward as it drags underground country along.

What Can Be Done To Save Underground Country

To save underground country there must be a renewed interest in finding and developing younger bands, attracting younger fans, and focusing on talent and creativity over forming exclusive scenes. “Young” should not be mistaken for the same connotations it carries in mainstream country. Talent and creativity should still remain key, as well as trying to reach the folks that “get it.” But if underground country wants to continue to remain a viable part of the overall country music landscape, it must recruit new bands and new listeners to replace the natural contraction within its population.

Underground country must quit being so reactionary about the outside world. It must diversify. It must find common ground, common struggle, and common tastes with Americana, Red Dirt, and Texas music, and promote its best and brightest talent to those worlds and then reciprocate. It must stick to its founding principles of preserving the roots of the music and fighting for creative control for artists, and seize on the opportunities current events create to promote those principles to the rest of the music world, promoting the music of underground country by proxy.

It needs leadership, big bands, breakout albums and songs that breathe new fervor into the movement.

It needs and end to the “I got mine” mentality.

And it needs it now, before it ends up like Communism: a great idea whose devil is in the application."

The Most Interesting Man In The World, For Real

Bestowing the title "World's Most Interesting Man" upon any mortal should not be done without heavy thought. The poseur we regularly see on the commercials is just an elaborate hoax to make you think these tales could never be lived, but we beg to differ. Below is one amazing story on an adventurer that knew no boundaries. For his efforts, bravery and manhood, we should all take up glass or bottle of our finest liquor cabinet delight and salute one of the great ones. Rest in peace John Fairfax.

Read the original article on the New York Times

John Fairfax is a hero to men everywhere. After fighting everything from pirates to jaguars, he is a true demi god
"He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.

He made both crossings in a rowboat because it, too, was there, and because the lure of sea, spray and sinew, and the history-making chance to traverse two oceans without steam or sail, proved irresistible.

In 1969, after six months alone on the Atlantic battling storms, sharks and encroaching madness, John Fairfax, who died this month at 74, became the first lone oarsman in recorded history to traverse any ocean.

In 1972, he and his girlfriend, Sylvia Cook, sharing a boat, became the first people to row across the Pacific, a yearlong ordeal during which their craft was thought lost. (The couple survived the voyage, and so, for quite some time, did their romance.)

Both journeys were the subject of fevered coverage by the news media. They inspired two memoirs by Mr. Fairfax, “Britannia: Rowing Alone Across the Atlantic” and, with Ms. Cook, “Oars Across the Pacific,” both published in the early 1970s.

The world is small in his mind so he rowed across two oceans
Mr. Fairfax died on Feb. 8 at his home in Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas. The apparent cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Tiffany. A professional astrologer, she is his only immediate survivor. Ms. Cook, who became an upholsterer and spent the rest of her life quietly on dry land (though she remained a close friend of Mr. Fairfax), lives outside London.

For all its bravura, Mr. Fairfax’s seafaring almost pales beside his earlier ventures. Footloose and handsome, he was a flesh-and-blood character out of Graham Greene, with more than a dash of Hemingway and Ian Fleming shaken in.

At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle.

At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate. To please his mother, who did not take kindly to his being a pirate, he briefly managed a mink farm, one of the few truly dull entries on his otherwise crackling résumé, which lately included a career as a professional gambler.

Mr. Fairfax was among the last avatars of a centuries-old figure: the lone-wolf explorer, whose exploits are conceived to satisfy few but himself. His was a solitary, contemplative art that has been all but lost amid the contrived derring-do of adventure-based reality television.

The only child of an English father and a Bulgarian mother, John Fairfax was born on May 21, 1937, in Rome, where his mother had family; he scarcely knew his father, who worked in London for the BBC.

Seeking to give her son structure, his mother enrolled him at 6 in the Italian Boy Scouts. It was there, Mr. Fairfax said, that he acquired his love of nature — and his determination to bend it to his will.

On a camping trip when he was 9, John concluded a fight with another boy by filching the scoutmaster’s pistol and shooting up the campsite. No one was injured, but his scouting career was over.

Jaguars nor Caiman's pose a threat to the manhood of John Fairfax
His parents’ marriage dissolved soon afterward, and he moved with his mother to Buenos Aires. A bright, impassioned dreamer, he devoured tales of adventure, including an account of the voyage of Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo, Norwegians who in 1896 were the first to row across the Atlantic. John vowed that he would one day make the crossing alone.

At 13, in thrall to Tarzan, he ran away from home to live in the jungle. He survived there as a trapper with the aid of local peasants, returning to town periodically to sell the jaguar and ocelot skins he had collected.

He later studied literature and philosophy at a university in Buenos Aires and at 20, despondent over a failed love affair, resolved to kill himself by letting a jaguar attack him. When the planned confrontation ensued, however, reason prevailed — as did the gun he had with him.

In Panama, he met a pirate, applied for a job as a pirate’s apprentice and was taken on. He spent three years smuggling guns, liquor and cigarettes around the world, becoming captain of one of his boss’s boats, work that gave him superb navigational skills.

When piracy lost its luster, he gave his boss the slip and fetched up in 1960s London, at loose ends. He revived his boyhood dream of crossing the ocean and, since his pirate duties had entailed no rowing, he began to train.

He rowed daily on the Serpentine, the lake in Hyde Park. Barely more than half a mile long, it was about one eight-thousandth the width of the Atlantic, but it would do.

On Jan. 20, 1969, Mr. Fairfax pushed off from the Canary Islands, bound for Florida. His 22-foot craft, the Britannia, was the Rolls-Royce of rowboats: made of mahogany, it had been created for the voyage by the eminent English boat designer Uffa Fox. It was self-righting, self-bailing and partly covered. 

John Fairfax would surely give Blackbeard a run for his treasure chest
Aboard were provisions (Spam, oatmeal, brandy); water; and a temperamental radio. There was no support boat and no chase plane — only Mr. Fairfax and the sea. He caught fish and sometimes boarded passing ships to cadge food, water and showers.

The long, empty days spawned a temporary madness. Desperate for female company, he talked ardently to the planet Venus.

On July 19, 1969 — Day 180 — Mr. Fairfax, tanned, tired and about 20 pounds lighter, made landfall at Hollywood, Fla. “This is bloody stupid,” he said as he came ashore. Two years later, he was at it again.

This time Ms. Cook, a secretary and competitive rower he had met in London, was aboard. Their new boat, the Britannia II, also a Fox design, was about 36 feet long, large enough for two though still little more than a toy on the Pacific.

“He’s always been a gambler,” Ms. Cook, 73, recalled by telephone on Wednesday. “He was going to the casino every night when I met him — it was craps in those days. And at the end of the day, adventures are a kind of gamble, aren’t they?”

Their crossing, from San Francisco to Hayman Island, Australia, took 361 days — from April 26, 1971, to April 22, 1972 — and was an 8,000-mile cornucopia of disaster.

“It was very, very rough, and our rudder got snapped clean off,” Ms. Cook said. “We were frequently swamped, and at night you didn’t know if the boat was the right way up or the wrong way up.” 

"Are you listenin' to me Paulie? This John Fairfax is a real card playa. Yeah, Ton' I will keep an eye out."
 Mr. Fairfax was bitten on the arm by a shark, and he and Ms. Cook became trapped in a cyclone, lashing themselves to the boat until it subsided. Unreachable by radio for a time, they were presumed lost.

For all that, Ms. Cook said, there were abundant pleasures. “The nights not too hot, sunny days when you could just row,” she recalled. “You just hear the clunking of the rowlocks, and you stop rowing and hear little splashings of the sea.”

Mr. Fairfax was often asked why he chose a rowboat to beard two roiling oceans. “Almost anybody with a little bit of know-how can sail,” he said in a profile on the Web site of the Ocean Rowing Society International, which adjudicates ocean rowing records. “I’m after a battle with nature, primitive and raw.”

Such battles are a young man’s game. With Ms. Cook, Mr. Fairfax went back to the Pacific in the mid-’70s to try to salvage a cache of lead ingots from a downed ship they had spied on their crossing. But the plan proved unworkable, and he never returned to sea.

In recent years, Mr. Fairfax made his living playing baccarat, the card game also favored by James Bond.

Baccarat is equal parts skill and chance. It lets the player wield consummate mastery while consigning him simultaneously to the caprices of fate."

Hellbound Glory To Tour With Kid Rock and Buckcherry

Great things come to those who work hard and continue to define their craft. Leroy Virgil is one of the hardest touring dudes out there. Logging in tens of thousands of miles a year, going from show to show, he is a true road dog. His dedication and efforts have been noticed far and wide and now he can credit one of his biggest fans to be Kid Rock, congrats hombre!

Link to original post on Saving Country Music

"Reno, Nevada’s Hellbound Glory with be touring with Kid Rock on his “Rebel Soul” tour to transpire at the very start of 2013, trekking through the Midwest and South. Buckcherry will also be playing in a supporting role. From press release:
Kid Rock is proud to announce the first dates of his “Rebel Soul” worldwide tour in support of his recently released album bearing the same name.  The tour kicks off February 2nd at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO with the first leg winding down March 2nd in Louisville, KY.  More dates are expected to be announced shortly.  Backed as always by his Twisted Brown Trucker band, the full-scale arena tour will feature Buckcherry and Hellbound Glory as support.
Leroy Virgil, the frontman of Hellbound Glory is one of country music’s best kept secrets in regards to songwriting. The band first rubbed elbows with Kid Rock on his “Chillin The Most” cruise down in Florida last March.


Feb 2 Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center, On Sale 12/14 @10am
Feb 5 Springfield, MO – JQH Arena, On Sale 12/14 @10am
Feb 7 Beaumont, TX – Ford Park Event Center, On Sale 12/7 @10am
Feb 9 Tulsa, OK – BOK Center, On Sale 11/30 @ 10am
Feb 10 Wichita, KS – INTRUST Bank Arena, On Sale 12/7 @10am
Feb 13 Bossier City, LA – CenturyLink Center, On Sale 12/7 @10am
Feb 15 Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena, On Sale 12/21 @10am
Feb 16 Greenville, SC – Bi-Lo Center, On Sale 12/7 @10am
Feb 18 Fort Myers, FL – Germain Arena, On Sale TBD
Feb 20 Pensacola, FL – Pensacola Civic Center, On Sale 12/14 @10am
Feb 21 New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Arena, On Sale 12/8 @10am
Feb 23 Birmingham, AL – BJCC Arena, On Sale 12/7 @10am
Feb 24 Huntsville, AL – Von Braun Center, On Sale 12/7 @10am
Feb 26 Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum Complex, On Sale 12/15 @10am
Feb 27 Knoxville, TN – Knoxville Civic Auditorium, On Sale 12/7 @10am
Mar 1 Memphis, TN – FedEx Forum, On Sale 12/8 @10am
Mar 2 Louisville, KY – KFC Yum! Center, On Sale 12/21 @10am

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

As for my personal thoughts? I think there’s no mistaking I haven’t been a fan of Kid Rock over the years, coining the nickname for him of “The Wet Cigarette”. However, Hellbound Glory may be the most under-the-rader band in country music right now, and they deserve this opportunity and exposure. I think it is times like these that the term “bittersweet” is in order. Ask me in a couple of days how I feel about it, but at the moment I can’t help but to be happy for Hellbound Glory for the opportunity, and however much I may dislike Kid Rock, giving him credit for seeing the potential of Leroy Virgil.

As I said over a year ago in my review of their last album Damaged Goods:
It is time for someone to step up. They don’t deserve the SCM Album of the Year, they deserve something better, something more than I can give. It is time for them to graduate, for someone a step higher to step up, put these boys as the opener on a serious tour, get them out of having to battle with a juke box full of rap music at brokedown bars, but also someone who understands their element, and how a loss of authenticity would be their demise.
Apparently, Kid Rock was the one to do that."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Antiseen - Flat Tires, Hail To The Chief, Review In Razorcake Magazine

Antiseen and Flat Tires split 7" vinyl record, Hail To The Chief
Get your copy of the 7" record now

"Two bands offer up their tribute to The Ramones. I will leave it a mystery as to which Ramone is on the cover, but I can tell you it is not Ritchie! Both bands do dead-on takes on their selections, but Flat Tires offer up just a little bit more grit in the kitchen. The third song is a collaboration between the two bands on an Antiseen song. I endorse picking this up post haste." - Sean Koepenick

Check out Razorcake

Antiseen - Flat Tires, split 7" review for Hail To The Chief

Billy Don Burns Album Review On VTwin Biker

Billy Don Burns album review by QBall at
 Link to all things

"Some time back my friend Rusty Knuckles sent me this CD in the mail. It came at a point in my life when a whole lot of shit was piling up, including my mail. As the weather turned chilly and things slowed down I found it under stack of bills while cleaning up and getting ready to work on my bike. I put it in CD player and felt like I had reunited with an old friend. Billy Don Burns has been around for a long time singing, writing, and playing with the old school country heroes. Its all his music, yet incorporates the classic beat and poetry of folks like Willie, Waylon, Kris, and Johnny. You’ll probably will never hear him on bubble gum country stations, but that’s OK, because his music and words are much deeper than rhine stone glitter. So, if your looking to spend some time with an old friend while working on your ride, or sippin some whiskey, Billy Don Burns is good company to keep.

While you are on Rusty Knuckles web site check out all the bands he represents. There is everything from head banging rock to traditional country, not to mention a great mix of everything in between like ass kicking contemporary Rock-A-Billy"

 - QBall

Soundslice Will Revolutionize How Guitarists Learn From YouTube, Repost From

Who wouldn't want to learn how to play guitar and to be able to do it in an easy manner, such as learning it through youtube. The more technology progresses the cooler the apps become, along with new innovative ideas. We are true fans of adding new arrows to the quiver and a tool such as Soundslice, just might help the budding guitarist, go from good to great.

View original post on Mashable

Learn how to play guitar through youtube, via soundslice
"As of yesterday, there were only two ways to learn guitar music from the web: Googling a tablature file and emulating another guitarist on YouTube. While both are easier (and cheaper) than buying a book of sheet music, they are not without tedium.

Tablature files (or “tabs” — a simplified guitar notation in plain text format) are aggregated by shady content farms with strong SEO and dubious quality control. YouTube videos provide audio and visual instruction, but require patience and the ability to “read the fingers” of the performer.

That’s why Soundslice is a revelation for self-taught musicians. Built on YouTube’s API, it’s a transcription interface that syncs tablature and videos so players get the best of both worlds. You can also play the video at half speed (without changing the pitch) and loop small sections if you’re trying to pin down a tricky riff. Everything functions in your web browser or iPad — there’s no software or apps to install.

While these tools are outstanding in their own right, the big promise here is in creating a rich trove of living, accurate guitar tutorials for everyone on the web to enjoy.

“My goal was to make something for myself, to make transcription less painful,” the site’s founder Adrian Holovaty tells Mashable. “I’d spend hours transcribing stuff, either on paper or in lousy text files, then I’d come back to it later and have to re-listen to the music to make sense of my own tab. I started to think, it would be so much easier to learn if the tab were synced with the original audio.”

SEE ALSO: Play a 3D-Printed Acoustic Guitar Made of Plastic
Holovaty has been working on this project for the last three-and-a-half years, and is no stranger to the web startup world. He launched EveryBlock, a network for “microlocal” journalism, in 2007. It was acquired by in 2009, and Holovaty stayed on, working on Soundslice in his spare time. He left the company in August looking to do something new, and ended up focusing on the music project. “This is actually the third incarnation of Soundslice. The first version was in Flash and used MP3s, the second version was a really bad HTML5 MP3 version, the third works only on YouTube.”
Soundslice uses YouTube’s official HTML5 JavaScript API, which allows developers to control videos using their own interface. Users can work from any YouTube video, not just their own. The transcription editor UI is similar to multi-track recording software. Add a track for chords, tab notation, song structure (chorus, verse, bridge) and start plotting.

Drag the length of the note on the string and add the fret number. Space bar will start and pause the video. You quickly realize that Soundslice adds a temporal dimension to tablature without need of time signature or measures. If the community takes off, it could fundamentally change how the Internet thinks about, creates and shares this kind of notation.

Soundslice Editor

I asked Holovaty about the potential for Soundslice to become a social network.
“It can become a commons for user-generated musical annotations and transcriptions,” he says. “At the moment, social interaction is very limited — you can see other people’s annotations and see all the other videos they’ve annotated and that’s it. But obviously, there’s a ton of potential to do more.”

Holovaty envisions the classic 20/80 split — 20% of users will create the content for the other 80%. “Originally I imagined it to be for relatively advanced musicians, but I’ve already seen some simpler stuff come through the system. Never underestimate the power of bored high school or college students who want to learn music!”

SEE ALSO: Fender’s iOS-Friendly Stratocaster Guitar Comes to Apple Store
Why would someone painstakingly transcribe a song into tablature and give it away for free on the Internet? The fact is, people have been doing that for years. “If you’re already doing the work of transcribing something — which is very labor intensive — you might as well do a tiny bit of extra work to make an incredible synced video thing. The end result is just so much better than a text tab, and it benefits other people who want to learn that tune in the future.”

That work will also be connected to your Soundslice account. Savvy transcribers might sync their own videos to teach, thus generating views and ad revenue from YouTube’s partner program. There’s a lot of potential for power users.

Quality Control of UGC

Current tab repositories are a cluttered mess. A song might have 20 versions, each with its own errors or embellishments. Quality control of user generated content can be a challenge, but Holovaty sees two potential modes.

“I’m considering both a revision-control model (like GitHub) or a Wikipedia model,” he explains. “What would make more sense for annotations: “branching” changes where everybody owns their own data and accepts pull requests, or a more shared wiki-style thing where anybody can edit anything, with revertible history? I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and am still not sure.”

Business Model

Soundslice Interface

The other challenge for UGC networks is monetization.

“I’m planning to add a pay-for version, where you can upload your own tracks as opposed to relying on YouTube,” Holovaty says of his future business model. “Plus, you’d get some niceties like a graphical waveform display, more fine-grained slowdown and an automated first-pass at the transcription (which would be imperfect but at least a starting point). I’d also like to talk to music education companies who might want to pay me to embed the interface into their own sites.”

Regarding that automated transcription, Holovaty is experimenting with software created by The Echo Nest — algorithms that power music analysis apps like Spotify and iheartradio.
Turns out, auto-generating sheet music from a complex recording is still a long way off. It’s a computational feat akin to sentient artificial intelligence, says Holovaty, who has been studying this kind of technology for some time.

“The Echo Nest has some nice APIs that make automated guesses at the underlying musical information in an audio recording,” he says. This means that a human could provide the framework for the transcription, and an algorithm could work from that to fill in the gaps, speeding up the process. Holovaty hopes to include this in future paid accounts.

For now, he and his designer PJ Macklin (the only two people working on Soundslice at the moment) are looking forward to seeing what users create, and adding features based on feedback. “Next up is the long list of feature additions and improvements. And of course, paying the bills and getting people to use it!”"

Thumbnail image courtesy of Dylan Adams, Flickr.

Outperformer #2 Roland Sands, By Royal Purple Motor Oils

Progression is the key to survival. If you want to remain relevant and be known for innovative ideas and craftsmanship, staying on top of your game is paramount. There are always a select few that rise above and become known for their work. Roland Sands has done this in spades and proves regularly through his builds and well crafted products. The video below is compelling in it's long format commercial style, which is produced by Royal Purple, whom is primarily known for their motor oils and lubricants.

Find out more about Roland Sands

Motorcycle Builders At The Artistry In Iron Show, Las Vegas

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stevie Tombstone Interview With The Highway Woman

Billy Don Burns Song Of The Week On WMBR In Cambridge, MA

Billy Don Burns has written more great songs than we can discuss in one sitting and within that body of work, many accolades are finally starting to come his way. His lyrical content can flow from heart ache to redemption and within those layers of musical journey, one man's soul is being echoed the landscape for all to hear. We thank WMBR for making Gaylor Creek Church, the song of the week. Do yourself a favor and check out their Lost Highway show for some other great music.

Buy Billy Don Burns music

Listen to WMBR - Lost Highway on MIT's 88.1

Billy Don Burns song Gaylor Creek Church is the feature song of the week on WMBR in Cambridge, MA
"Many thanks to Lucy Kaplansky for taking time from the family holiday to chat with me yesterday morning. We discussed the studio sessions with her great posse of musicians (Buddy Miller, Eliza Gilkyson, Duke Levine, Kevin Barry, etc) for her new release, Reunion, as well as songwriting with her husband Rick Litvin, and the joys of harmony singing. She's in town at Passim this Friday (30th) and Saturday (1st) at 7pm for cd release parties.
Only a couple of first time spins on yesterday's show - from Jesse Cook's latest (The Blue Guitar Session) and Joe Walsh's solo cd from a couple years back (Sweet Loam - that's the Gibson Brothers' Joe Walsh, not the James Brothers'). Next week I'll offer up that once annual best-of Lost Highway (2012) holiday shopping list show. If you're still buying music for friends 'n family (or just for yourself), this'll be a useful and fun couple of hours!
For a handful of suggestions for live music out around town this week, here you go:
- The Roy Sludge Trio this afternoon at 4pm at Radio
- the Berklee American Roots Music Series, Tuesday at 8pm at Passim - and/or - the Duke Levine Band at 9pm at Atwood's
- the Berklee American Roots Music Series Wednesday (yes, 2 nights in a row!) w/ the Acoustic Blues Ensemble, the Beatles Bluegrass Band & the Catie Offerman Band at 8pm at Cafe 939
- Simone Felice Thursday at 9pm at Great Scott - or - Three Tall Pines & Roosevelt Dime at 9pm at the Lizard
- the Jimmy Ryan Band Friday at 6pm at Sally O'Brien's - and - Lydia Loveless, Coyote Kolb, the Dirty Truckers & the Civil Warblers at the Middle East Upstairs a little before 10pm
If you'd like more suggestions, here's a link to WMBR's Roots Report - Best to all and enjoy the last day of your long holiday weekend if you've got one."

Modern Motorcycle Mechanics, Paved The Road For Repair Manuals

There are basic principles, which will always be needed when fixed anything that is mechanical. First and foremost, take your time and pay attention to how parts are disassembled in order to put them back correctly. If you are unsure, take photos of the process or write down what you have done. 

If you have seen any sort of modern repair manual or lack there of, many new products aren't made to last and are vastly inferior in parts quality, than older machines. My other huge gripe is the lack of mechanical aptitude in describing how to fix or reassemble the parts, within new repair manuals as they scrimp on the details. If you haven't noticed Youtube has become the best place to find out how to work on anything.

This is where a tome such as Modern Motorcycle Mechanics is flat out amazing. The book and the technology it is referring to are now considered vintage, but how J.B. Nicholson describes each item and how to properly maintain your motorcycle, is truly refreshing. 

Much of his guidance within the book has been hard earned through years of wrenching and solid understanding of basic mechanical principles, when it comes to machinery operation. Knowledge of this caliber can be applied to all modern bikes as many of the new parts and design schemes still function, on the same basic principles. If you want to give a great gift to the rider in your family, this is indeed something they will enjoy.

Want a piece of motorcycle history, get your copy of Modern Motorcycle Mechanics

Crankcase Reassembly, as part of the Modern Motorcycle Mechanics book.

Modern Motorcycle Mechanics, the first repair manuals created by someone who actually worked on bikes.
"Before Clymer and before Haynes service manuals, there was J.B. Nicholson and Modern Motorcycle Mechanics.

Nicholson, together with his brother Lawrence, opened Nicholson Bros. Motorcycles in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1933. To this small city in the middle of the Canadian prairie they imported DOT, Calthorpe and Douglas motorcycles and by 1935 the brothers had transformed the business into a fledgling mail order parts supply house.

But it was a 25-year old J.B. (Bernie) Nicholson who published what could be considered one of the first comprehensive texts regarding the operation and maintenance of motorcycles of the day. In 1942 the first edition of Modern Motorcycle Mechanics was distributed widely. They sold the book themselves, and industry giants such as Johnson Motors bought books for resale in their showroom. Floyd Clymer himself ordered hundreds of copies for resale through his motoring catalogs.

Nicholson went on to revise his book six times, with editions appearing in 1945, 1948, 1953, 1965, 1969 and the final and seventh in 1974.

Over the years more than 100,000 copies of Modern Motorcycle Mechanics books have sold from Canada to England, India, South Africa, Australia and beyond.

Jam-packed with Nicholson’s clear and concise service and maintenance information and ever-handy clearance and settings charts for several different makes and models the Seventh Edition Reprint of Modern Motorcycle Mechanics is 766 pages – just like the original. The book covers everything from setting the timing on a single-cylinder Lucas magneto to rebuilding the engine of a Harley-Davidson 45”."

Nicholson Bros. Motorcycles in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Nicholson Bros. Motorcycles in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Bio Mechanical Bugs From Vintage Watch Parts

Do not fear the impending woes of the world coming to an end due to arachnophobia, especially when these multi legged creatures are made from vintage watch parts. These mechanical marvels are made by a jeweler in Chicago by the name of Justin Gershon-Gates. The objects he creates all stem from vintage mechanical parts and these mechanical bugs are an offshoot of his day to day operations.

Check out this post and more original creative concepts at This Is Colossal

Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs  watches sculpture insects assemblage
Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs  watches sculpture insects assemblage
Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs  watches sculpture insects assemblage
Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs  watches sculpture insects assemblage
Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs  watches sculpture insects assemblage
Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs  watches sculpture insects assemblage
Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs  watches sculpture insects assemblage
Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs  watches sculpture insects assemblage

"Chicago-based jeweler Justin Gershenson-Gates recently grew a bit tired of creating jewelry after a show this summer and while experimenting with some watch part anatomy he decided to try his hand at spider and insect legs. One thing led to another a new series of small sculptural arthropods and insects was born. Justin tells me via email that each piece takes several hours to make and being unable to leave things unfinished he generally makes an entire new creature in one sitting, a monumental feat considering the scorpions can take an entire 12-hour work session as the watch springs, stems, gears and straps are assembled and soldered together (nothing is glued). I love the idea of the tiny light bulb for the spider abdomens.

If you’d like to see these crawly pieces up-close, you can see a few at the Bucktown Holiday Art Show December 8th and 9th, and you can also pick up some of the spiders on Etsy, at least for the moment. Tons more photos on Facebook. (via neatorama)"