Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rattlesnake Confusion January 2007

Originally printed in Playgrounds Magazine - January 2007

Rattlesnake Confusion – 2007

By Curtis Lynch

Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix may be used to feedback, but I ain’t. To all y’all who said nice things about these first couple of Rattlesnakes, thank you. I wanted to try something a bit more personal and a bit more opinionated and I hope to keep that up in 2007.

This one, unfortunately, is going to be a quick regurgitation of what I liked this past year:

Best CDs 2006:

They’re sorta in order, but after the first three or four, it gets fuzzy for me.

Will Kimbrough – Americanitis – Easily my favorite record of the year. Kimbrough mixes humor and biting social commentary with a sensitivity for humanity that is too often lacking in today’s world.

Darrell Scott – The Invisible Man – This Nashville songwriter has recorded an amazing album of roots-rock that you really just need to hear to believe.

Drive-By Truckers - A Blessing And A Curse - America’s best live rock band trades sprawling Southern narrative for conciseness and maintains their integrity in the process.

T-Bone Burnette – The True False Identity – Burnette’s first record since 1992. Knife sharp lyrics over immaculate production.

The Mammals - Departure – Completely irresistible and infectious, the Mammals mix traditional instrumentation with forward-thinking songwriting to forge a sound somewhere between bluegrass and high-energy contemporary folk music.

The Drams – Jubilee Drive – A band comprised of 75% of Slobberbone has more balls and heart than 75% of all the other bands combined. The slight pop sheen does nothing to diminish the power of Brent Best’s music.

The Duhks – Migrations – Like the Mammals, the Duhks acoustically combine a world of influences and somehow garnered a Grammy nomination for “Best Country Performance by a Group or Duo” for a track from this one.

Todd Snider – The Devil You Know – Todd’s songwriting continues to get better. Three or four of these songs are among his best, but the whole album is a great listen.

Whigs – Give ‘Em All a Big Fat Lip – This Athens band’s combination of rock and pop with a slice of punk won’t insult your intelligence and will keep you intrigued.

Papa Grows Funk – Live At The Leaf – Sweaty funk recorded over three nights at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans. Pass it!

Best Festivals 2006:

Mucklewain, Harriman TN – A festival that focused on Southern roots-rock didn’t try to overachieve their first year, but they did anyway. It’ll be hard to top a one-day lineup that was as strong top-to-bottom as any festival (Steve Earle, Todd Snider, Jason Ringenberg, Tommy Womack and Will Kimbrough, Lucero, Caddle and Southern Bitch), but I’m going to be there next year to see if they can do it.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans LA – Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band brought a much-needed catharsis through music to the crowds. The crowds brought a much-needed influx of money and tourism back to the town that Katrina and FEMA couldn’t kill.

Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival, Thomson GA – Seems like we enjoyed the smaller festivals the best this year. This one had everything except overflowing crowds, overpriced beer, plastic food and anemic music.

Best Club Shows 2006:

Drive-By Truckers, 40 Watt Club, Athens GA – Two nights in Athens in January with this band is a tradition that’s probably taking a break in ’07. The sold-out, sweaty, appreciative hometown crowds won’t know what to do with themselves.

Caddle, SoHo, Columbus GA - These guys have country-rock swagger confidently nailed. Best band that makes regular stops in town.

I’m looking forward to 2007. Just like America, I’ll be another year older and deeper in debt.

What would I like to see around here next year? A radio station, either community or college based, that programs a wide variety of artists and local interests, a music festival that combines local and regional talent and makes people excited about coming back, a grass roots support for live music that goes beyond cover bands and open mic nights (there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either, by the way) and Sweetwater 420 on tap.

Oh, and that whole peace on earth thing.

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