Tag Archives: Country Music

Moot Davis – “Man About Town” — and Country

4 Feb

New Jersey’s MOOT DAVIS deliversMAN ABOUT TOWN”

Davis enlists Sirius XM host Elizabeth Cook & Kenny Vaughan as guests on new CD.

I had never really heard of Moot Davis when this CD hit my mailbox.  The cover provided a few clues. My wife said Moot looked like a cross between Clint Eastwood and Chris Isaak. He sported a Blues Brother suit and cradled a Black/White Fender Telecaster in his lap. The CD was produced by Kenny Vaughan of the Marty Stuart Band and recorded and mixed by George “The Tone Chaperone” Bradfute. Many of you may remember Bradfute from his tour of duty with the fabulous Webb Wilder.

I popped the disc into my CD player and gave it spin. I was immediately struck by the Dwight Yoakam influence. No big surprise — especially given the fact that Davis’ first 2 CDs were done by Yoakam sidekick and Los Angeles guitar master Pete Anderson. Fans of Yoakam, Kelly Willis, Hank Williams, and Chris Isaak should enjoy this newest collection. It’s pretty straight forward country stuff.

Fade to Gold and Queensbury Rules are especially good. Rocket mixes things up a bit with something of a rhumba beat. Black & White Picture harks back to the South of the Border story songs made famous by the great Marty Robbins. The acoustic guitar pickin’ on this number is tastefully executed. Rust is a bouncy, bluesy, echo-laden romp. Memory Lane is perhaps the closest Moot comes to sounding like Chris Isaak, while Everybody’s Gal is one of those classic, roll up the carpet, fiddle-driven Texas two-step numbers.

Old Moot is not pulling any punches here, folks . Sure, he’s a Jersey Boy. But I don’t expect he watches a lot of “Jersey Shore.” He’s country through and through — and damn proud of it. So if that is where your tastes lie, come and get it.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — From Auckland to Austin to Nashville, New Jersey-based country musician Moot Davis took quite a journey to make his third CD, Man About Town, but it was certainly worth it. Davis describes his new release as the one he likes the most because “it wasn’t altered to suit anybody’s tastes but mine.”

Moot Davis burst onto the country music scene in the mid-2000s. With his self-titled debut, Davis delivered a set of timeless honky tonk that brought comparisons to Hank Williams Sr. Entertainment Today touted Davis as “primed to be the leader in the new insurgent country music scene.” The kudos continued for his second effort, Already Moved On, which about.com’s Kathy Coleman ranked as the Fourth Best Country Album of the Year, ahead of the likes of Dwight Yoakam and Brad Paisley.

Man About Town fulfills the promise of his earlier efforts while also expanding into new musical territory. Tracks like “Day the World Shook My Hand,” “How Long” and “Only You” should resonate with fans of his earlier, retro honky-tonk sound. “Queensbury Rules,” on the other hand, boasts a harder, rockier sound, while “Rust” mixes country twang with a funky beat. Davis wanted a change with this disc. “I didn’t want to make the same album again and again.”

In a sign of his artistic growth, Davis accomplishes several firsts on Man About Town. “Crazy in Love With You” stands as his first duet, with the delightful Elizabeth Cook serving as his singing partner. He also delivers his first murder ballad with “Black & White Picture,” a highly cinematic tale driven by Mexican-style guitar picking.

Davis populates this CD with a number of vivid character studies. The lead-off track, “Rags to Rhinestones,” is a prime example of his storytelling talents. In this classic honky-tonk number, a musician goes from “rented rooms to mansion homes” only to squander it all and wind up being kicked “out of bars on Lower Broadway.” The tune came together for Davis after his buddy, musician Dave Gleason, told him of a successful country musician whose life and career veered off course. Davis became intrigued by the idea of “someone who rises to a certain level and then just dive-bombs.”

The song’s Nashville references reflect the fact that this album is the first one Davis recorded in Music City. (His first two, released on Little Dog Records, were done with the esteemed producer Pete Anderson in Los Angeles.) The ace players on Man About Town are from Marty Stuart’s band: guitarist Kenny Vaughan, who served as producer; pedal and lap steel player Chris Scruggs; drummer Harry Stinson and bassist Paul Martin. Also featured is fiddler Hank Singer, who plays with George Jones. These guys, according to Davis, are “all serious players but they are all regular guys too.” He describes the sessions as “one of those things where everything comes together. It’s kinda rare.”

Man About Town marks a return to recording after a short hiatus as Davis extricated himself from his Little Dog contract. A bit disillusioned with the music business, he travelled to New Zealand to do some acting. There, he says, “I fell back in love with music” and started writing songs again on an acoustic guitar. He next moved to Austin, bought a Telecaster and continued working on his tunes. The music evolved even more upon his return to New Jersey, where he played with some local guys. “They’d rehearse for hours with me, just kicking songs around. It was kind of like a therapy session.”

Growing up in New Jersey, Davis actually was more into classic rock than country. In fact, he sparked to traditional country from an unusual source: a TV ad. In his early 20s, he heard Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in a Pepsi ad and, in Davis’ words, “it just got my antenna going.” He immersed himself in the music of Hank Sr., Lefty Frizzell, Webb Pierce and others from the golden era of honky tonk. This music inspired him to learn to play an acoustic guitar and start writing songs.

A major turning point came for him when he wrote the song “Whiskey Town.” When he played it for other people and saw their reactions, Davis recalls, “I knew I was onto something.” Within a year of writing that tune, he had moved to Nashville and a year later he was flying to L.A. to record with Pete Anderson. “Whiskey Town” also landed a spot on the Crash soundtrack — the first of now nearly 20 song placements that Davis has had over the years, from movies like The Hills Have Eyes to TV shows such as Criminal Minds.

Man About Town also is the first album on Davis’ his own record label, Highway Kind Records. He started the label with Paul W. Reed, a Texas businessman who is a huge Davis fan. Davis marvels how this friendship developed and evolved into a business relationship too. “He really had some guts to help get this going,” Davis admits, adding, “I find it’s always better to be in charge of your own destiny.” Davis feels the current music scene has created a leveled playing field that allows the opportunity to achieve the American Dream if you work hard enough and have some talent. “Every success is a victory,” he exclaims — and with this new album, Moot Davis should have many more victories in his future.

twitter: @mootdavis


Two Versions of Johnny Horton’s Classic “The Battle of New Orleans”

28 Aug

This is the original version (above) of the 1959 hit song.

The British version (above) was recorded for sales in the UK.

***Why let a few little historical facts get in the way of commerce???

Former Mavericks’ Frontman Raul Malo releases “Sinners & Saints” Solo CD

17 Jul

From the plaintive opening wail of a mariachi’s horn, to the lonesome twang of the Duane Eddy-style guitar, to the bouncing echo of a vintage Tex-Mex organ, you know this is going to be a very interesting ride. The title track “Sinners & Saints” sets the tone for what proves to be a very ambitious solo effort from former Mavericks’ leader, Raul Malo. We all have long known that Malo can flat out sing. His voice conjures up a haunting “Roy Orbison heads South of the Border” sound. Raul has frequently been stylistically compared to the likes of Orbison, Marty Robbins and Chris Isaak. Yet he has often worked within the contraints of Nashville’s major record label system.

This new Concord release granted Raul the freedom to experiment with a variety of musical styles. His voice is still always at the forefront — a soaring, operatic instrument that has become a very potent and recognizable musical weapon. In this effort you will be treated to bluesy numbers, Tex-Mex rockers a la Doug Sahm, accordian driven party tracks, country weepers, and traditional Latin tunes inspired by Malo’s childhood in the Cuban neighborhoods of South Florida. The wah-wah laced “Staying Here,” one of my favorite cuts on the new record, sounds like a long-lost Jimmy Webb ballad that could have been penned for a fresh-scrubbed Glen Campbell in the mid-1960’s.  

This satisfying collection of recordings immediately grabs your attention like a fiery hot salsa rojo. And repeated listens will only deepen your appetite for Malo’s spicy musical tastes and the magnificent pipes with which the Saints have blessed him — and us.  


New album for Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group recorded in Nashville and Austin; guests include Augie Meyers, Shawn Sahm, Michael Guerra and The Trishas

AUSTIN, Texas — Self-produced in his home studio, Sinners & Saints is the most intimate, honest and complex album Raul Malo has made in an already distinguished career. One hears in it a lifetime’s journey, from the singer-songwriter’s youth in Cuban neighborhoods of Miami through his years as one of the most intriguing talents in the Americana scene. The album is set for September 28, 2010 release on Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group. Sinners & Saints follows 2009’s critically acclaimed album Lucky One, Malo’s Fantasy debut.

Rooted in Malo’s lifelong connection to Latin music but infused with his wide-ranging love of country, blues, jazz and vintage rock ’n’ roll, Sinners & Saints combines sonic ingenuity with emotional sincerity.

Entertainment Weekly stated, “Malo is one of those rare singers who transcend the mundane with the sheer operatic sweep of his marvelous instrument. He’s among the last of a breed: a country stylist with finesse and brawn in equal measure, turning his laments into bittersweet valentines.”

In a departure from his past albums, Malo took his tracks from his home studio in Nashville to Austin, where an incredible musical cross-pollination took place. Malo has spent much time playing in Texas with the Lone Star State’s wealth of legendary musicians. He entered longtime friend Ray Benson’s Bismeaux Studios and finished the album with the help of Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornado veteran Augie Meyers on the Vox Continental organ and, on the song “Superstar,” guitarist Shawn Sahm, Sir Douglas’ son. The Trishas (Savannah Welch, Kelley Mickwee, Liz Foster and Jamie Wilson) provided background vocals. And hotshot accordionist Michael Guerra, known for his work with the Tex-Mex Experience, lent further Tejas authenticity to the sound.

The title track opens the record, setting the album’s tone thematically and musically. From his boyhood and through his years of coming of age in Miami, Malo spent many nights in neighborhood music rooms listening to local artists perform their Flamenco zarzuelas. Malo wrote “Sinners & Saints” by conjuring up those nights in his head, and playing his electric guitar with a cross between Flamenco melodicism and retro surf-twang. “It has no chorus, no repeatable line,” he says, “And it’s long. Purposefully long.”

The second track, “Living for Today,” ventures into socio-political territory against an upbeat sound that includes chiming guitars, Meyers’ Vox organ and the Trishas’ backing vocals. In a musical space that includes the biting observations of Rodney Crowell, James McMurtry or Todd Snider, this song is a welcome addition. Speaking of Crowell, Malo provides a heart-felt reading of his modern-day standard “Til I Gain Control Again.”

The disc’s other songs are also full of special moments. In Austin Malo recorded an original song called “Superstar” with several pals from the Texas Tornados. That and several other tracks feature Guerra’s blazing Tex-Mex accordion, as in “San Antonio Baby.” In a more serious vein, Malo delivers the classic Spanish song “Sombras” in the stunning tenor voice that made him famous. He also offers an innovative cover of Los Lobos’ “Saint Behind the Glass,” whose rich mix of percussion, guitars and Mexican instruments will leave audiophiles deeply absorbed. The cryptic lyrics offer an unexpected finale to the album.

Malo & The Mavericks perform one of their Country hits

Raul Malo has seen and done a great deal in his career but Sinners & Saints demonstrates there is much more inside him. “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on an album,” he says with a mixture of relief and pride. That includes the physical labor of confronting the studio alone day after day as well as the emotional courage to challenge his listeners and speak his mind. “This really is about me and my point of view. I realized that after I’d done it. It reflects really how I feel about a lot of things. That’s why this is as much of me as I’ve ever put on a record.”

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Zac Brown Band – Chicken Fried

20 May

How could any blog called Dixie Dining not dig this???

Hank Williams’ Montgomery, Alabama

17 Apr

Hank Williams may have made his name is Nashville, but he was a son of Montgomery, AL. Hard living, alcohol and pain pills killed Ole Hank at the tender age of just 29 years old. Yes, 29 years old! Just think of the music he might have produced had he lived a longer life. Needless to say, his catalog of classic country songs is still incredibly impressive.  

“I Saw the Light” was Hank’s biggest gospel hit

Hank’s final resting place at Oakwood Cemetary in Montgomery, AL

Alan Jackson’s B/W video was moving tribute to memory of Hank Williams

Hank is buried alongside his wife, Audrey

Williams recorded a few songs under the moniker of “Luke the Drifter”

Me paying respects to the King of Country

Statue in downtown Montgomery park

A more detailed look at Hank and his guitar

Entering Hank’s museum in downtown Montgomery

Standup of Williams at museum entrance

This marker directs fans to Hank’s gravesite

George Jones Classic LPs Re-Released on CD

1 Apr

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Two classic Billy Sherrill-produced albums from the early ‘70s to be housed on a single CD, due out April 7.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The original liner notes from 1972 say it all: “George Jones has been around long enough to be a household name to country music fans. Even though his unique phrasing and style, his trademarks, are still the same as his ‘The Race Is On’ and ‘White Lightnin’’ days, there’s a subtle difference — a mellowing that comes from years of experience combined with the teaming of super-talented George and equally talented producer Billy Sherrill.” On April 7, 2009, two of Jones’ signature Sherrill-produced albums, A Picture of Me and Nothing Ever Hurts Me, will be reissued as a single CD by American Beat Records, now part of the Collectors’ Choice Music family of labels.

Both A Picture of Me and Nothing Ever Hurts Me are regarded as George Jones classics, and both are recipient of rare five-star reviews on AllMusic.com. A Picture of Me reached No. 3 on Billboard’s Country Album chart and featured two Top 10 smashes — the title track and “What My Woman Can’t Do.” A world-class songwriter in his own right, Jones nonetheless employed several of Nashville’s finest to write many of the songs on these albums — then-wife Tammy Wynette (“Wine [You’ve Used Me Long Enough]”), Tom T. Hall (“Second Handed Flowers, ” “Never Having You”), Lefty Frizzell (“Mom and Dad’s Waltz”), Bobby Braddock (“Nothing Ever Hurt Me [Half As Bad as Losing You]”), Freddy Weller and Spooner Oldham (“She Loves Me [Right Out of Mind]”) and Peanut Montgomery (“The Man Worth Lovin’ You, ” “We Found a Match”). In addition, The Jordanaires, best known as vocal accompanists on many of Elvis Presley’s hits, provide background vocals here.

In the space of two short years, American Beat Records has made a name for itself as a reissue label concentrating on ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s power pop and country. Collectors’ Choice Music is proud to announce that American Beat has joined its list of imprints (along with Noble Rot and Hep Cat Records), and that the label will continue to put out key Americana releases, including upcoming deluxe reissues from the Del-Lords and the Paley Brothers!

“Air Castle of the South” – WSM

12 Oct

I just received a review copy of this book and finished it in two days. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in the history of country music or in the development of radio as a medium. Havighurst tells this Southern success story with great detail and does a fine job of weaving in interesting sidebars on personalities like Dinah Shore, Minnie Pearl, Sam Phillips, Roy Acuff and many others. I especially enjoyed the behind the scenes anecdotes regarding the early days of the Grand Ole Opry, which really helped to put WSM on the national map. Buy this book — you’ll enjoy it.

Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music City USA” as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording between the 1920s and ‘50s, WSM, Nashville, and country music became inseparable, stemming from WSM’s launch of the Grand Ole Opry, popular daily shows like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven shows such as Hank Williams on Mother’s Best Flour.


Sparked by public outcry following a proposal to pull country music and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and existing sources to document the station’s profound effect on the character and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colorful artists and businessmen from the station’s history, including Owen Bradley, Minnie Pearl, Jim Denny, Edwin Craig, and Dinah Shore, the volume invites the reader to reflect on the status of Nashville, radio, and country music in American culture.




And for all you Minnie Pearl fans, here’s a clip with Carl Smith …


Aaron Tippin’s “Drill Here, Drill Now!”

9 Oct

Saw Tippin performing this on Fox News this morning. Thought provoking stuff.

Proper UK Releases New Steel Compilation

1 Sep

Proper UK has a great catalog of obscure recordings from days gone by. The also offer these collections at bargain prices. But that doesn’t mean that the packaging and liner notes aren’t first rate. Take a look at their many offerings at www.proper-records.co.uk .

The review of Steelin’ It seen below is from Amazon.com …

Most of the recordings are pre-1960….so the sound quality is going to be an issue, especially the stuff recorded in the 1930’s. That having been said, the Bob Wills, Milton Brown, and Speedy West stuff is the primest of the prime. Top drawer stuff. If you like western swing and honky tonk, this is a great place to start.