Sunday, December 30, 2007

Life is what Happens When you’re Busy Listening to Live Music - 2007

January – New Year’s Eve with the Drive-By Truckers @ the Variety Playhouse – Okay, mostly 2006, but still a great rock show with lots of friends and Jason Isbell was still with the band.

February – Bela Fleck and Chick Corea sat down onstage at the Rivercenter and kept the audience spellbound for a couple of hours and could have done it all night. Glad to see the Rivercenter booking acts like this. Keep it up.

MarchTommy Womack @ Eddie’s Attic and Patterson Hood @ Andrew’s Upstairs in Buckhead…if you’re a fan of literate and visceral songwriting, it was one of the finest twofers you could hope for in one night. The end of the month was four days on the Suwannee for Springfest with Jorma Kaukonen, Darrell Scott, Ollabelle, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Dan Hicks, and Will Kimbrough. Springfest is the best festival on the planet.

April – If February’s Fleck/Corea show was the Rivercenter’s finest moment of the year, the Nickel Creek show was surely close. They are an inventive and talented band, and I can’t say enough about Chris Thile’s ability. First time at Waverly, Alabama’s Old 280 Boogie, but not the last. DBT @ The Georgia Theatre for the first show of their acoustic The Dirt Underneath Tour, which took the band in a new direction with the departure of Isbell.

May – We braved the smoke from the wildfires to take in Tampa’s Tropical Heatwave where we caught Paul Thorn, James McMurtry and Unknown Hinson. The frenetic Hackensaw Boys and ever-improving Packway Handle Band @ The Loft were a treat.

June – A trip to Athens for Athfest w/ the Drive-By Truckers, Dexateens, Sleepy Horses, Jack Logan, The Whigs, and Perpetual Groove. Athfest has a dizzying array of local music in a single weekend. The free Alex City Jazzfest featured Jon Cleary, the Lee Boys and Edwin McCain, and you can’t go wrong with Paul Thorn @ The Loft.

July – Newly relocated from Australia to Atlanta, Geoff Achison brought his blues guitar to The Loft and the Chattahoochee Folk Music Society hosted Rock Killough for a very special show.

August – Okay, I give up. It’s certainly possible I didn’t see any live music in August, but I won’t make that mistake in 2008.

September – We trekked all the way to Texas for the Austin City Limits festival to find Trucker Patterson Hood (anyone keeping track of DBT shows for me?) with members of Centro-Matic sitting in. Bela Fleck, Steve Earle, My Morning Jacket, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Mofro were among my favorites. Rhonda Vincent played the Phenix City Amphitheatre on a gorgeous fall night.

October - Autumn found us back on the Suwannee River for four days of Magnolia Fest featuring Donna the Buffalo, the Emmitt Nershi Band, Peter Rowan, the Duhks, Uncle Earl, and a reunited Snake Oil Medicine Show. I’ll say it again: there’s not a better music festival than Springfest. Well, except for Magfest.

November – While visiting family in Savannah, I realized that the bar I was watching the Georgia/Georgia Tech game at was hosting ex-Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell’s band the 400 Unit that very same night. Between the game and the show, I spent about fourteen hours in that bar.

December – The Mosier Brothers brought some blueground undergrass to The Loft, and Delta Moon closed out 2007’s year in live music with the one-two punch of guitarists Tom Gray and Mark Johnson.

I already can’t wait for 2008, so join me by getting our lazy asses up off the couch, putting down the remote and getting out to hear some live music.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pick of the Litter – 2007

I’m sure there are some records that should be on this list that I never got a chance to check out (Lucinda Williams’ West, Bettye LaVette’s Scene of the Crime, Levon Helm’s Dirt Farmer and Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky come to mind), but these are the discs that spent the most time in my CD player during 2007:

1. Tommy Womack - There! I Said it! – Womack lets it bleed all over this record, detailing his existential crisis (or nervous breakdown, depending on your terminology) and scrapes the thin covering of his life wide-ass open. “Alpha Male and the Canine Mystery Blood” is this year’s best song.

2. Delta Moon - Clear Blue Flame – Possibly their finest record yet. It’s focused and packed full of dual slide guitar goodness.

3. Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch – Ex-DBT guitarist breaks out with his own roots-rock record. “Dress Blues” is THE definitive song about the human consequences of war, but the rest is sheer Muscles Shoals soulful southern rock.

4. Glossary - The Better Angels of our Nature – Who gives away one of the best rock records of the year? Glossary does. Download it here:

5. Todd Snider - Peace, Love and Anarchy -- How many rarities and B-sides compilations make year-end best of lists? This one does because Todd Snider is a singer-songwriter who is hopefully just hitting his stride.

6. Infamous Stringdusters - Fork in the Road – Shimmering bluegrass that’s at once meticulously constructed and loose enough for some white-hot picking in between the lines.

7. Dexateens - Hardwire Healing – Smart pop and rock from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Cracker meets T.Rex and the Faces for bourbon drinks.

8. Tom Waits – Orphans – Sprawling is an overused adjective when it comes to multi-disc sets, but it applies here. Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards are the individual titles of the three discs, the 54 songs are amazing and the sequencing is immaculate. You know what I said earlier about compilations?

9. Mavis Staples – We’ll Never Turn Back – A powerful, moving statement of humanity and freedom courtesy of one of the great soul/R&B voices and producer Ry Cooder.