Archive for September, 2011

3 doors down 10 years on

3 doors down. from left: todd harrell, chris henderson, greg upchurch, matt roberts and brad arnold.

In the wake of the memorials and remembrances surrounding the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we offer this postscript.

Throughout the days following the attacks, concert events – from the smallest club shows to the biggest arena performances – were understandably called off as Americans mourned and regrouped. But some acts held tough, weighed their options and decided to move on, believing the best continuance of life-as-normal that could be summoned under the circumstances was the course to pursue.

Such was the call of the Mississippi rock troupe 3 Doors Down. Three days after the attacks, the band played Rupp Arena as scheduled. The sense of hope and healing at the performance was obvious – whether it came from the music itself or simply from the sight of thousands of people gathering for some kind of diversion from the week’s horrific events.

“It was really surreal for us,” said 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson, who was part of that 2001 Rupp performance. He will return to the arena with the band on Saturday.

“On 9/11 itself, we were in York, PA. That day, when all that happened and America went into shock, we were trying to decide whether or not we were going to cancel our tour. And we were watching the TV when the President came on and said to go about your business, to go about life and that we were going to bounce back from this.

“So we played that night in York to a downsized crowd, understandably. But we played and the crowd was amazing. The next night was in Virginia Beach, a big military town. Rupp was after that. Following these shows, I don’t think anyone particularly cared anymore. We were just moving on and everyone was moving on with us. In America, that’s what we do. We bounce back from tragedy and become stronger than we were before.”

At the time, 3 Doors Down was a new but already immensely proven and popular act. While it was versed in the ways of pure pop design, the band was armed with a rugged guitar sound and a fearsome howl from vocalist Brad Arnold that allowed it to hold tough with the many other radio-friendly post-grunge bands of the days. The big introduction came by way of two suitably strident singles full of melodic guitar crunch, Kryptonite and Loser. The 2000 debut album those songs came from, The Better Life, would go on to sell over 6 million copies.

While subsequent albums didn’t fully match those numbers, each recording sold briskly enough to maintain 3 Doors Down’s presence as a top-drawing concert attraction and a top-charting recording act.

The proof: 2002’s Away from the Sun went quadruple platinum and scored three more No. 1 hits (Dangerous Game, Dead Love and Wasted Me). 2005’s Seventeen Days and 2008’s 3 Doors Down both debuted on the Billboard album charts at No 1. The recent Time of My Life topped the iTunes album chart upon its release in July.

“We seem to be gathering new fans as we go,” Henderson said. “Some of the people were practically kids when they were listening to us 10 years ago. Now they’re bringing their kids to the show. We’re seeing more families out there. That just shows the longevity of the band. That’s one of the things we’re most proud of – the fact that we’ve been able to continue to do this, because this is not really an easy gig to get.”

While not an original member of 3 Doors Down, Henderson joined Arnold, guitarist Matt Roberts and bassist Todd Harrell as the band began cutting its first demo recordings. The demos, which included Kryptonite, began gaining regional airplay. That led to an invitation to perform at the famed New York punk haven CBGB’s, which eventually moved the band on to a contract with Republic Records.

The drum chair has revolved a few times since then. Greg Upchurch has sat there since 2005. But the bond Arnold, Henderson, Roberts and Harrell have built and fortified over the past 12-plus years has become unbreakable on personal and professional levels, the guitarist said.

“At this point, I’ve spent more time with them than I have with my own family. I have seven brothers and one sister, but I spent more time with Brad, Matt and Todd – close time in buses, airplanes and hotels in different places around the world – than I have with anyone else on the planet. So, I’m closer to these guys than anyone else on the planet. I know what they’re thinking and they know what I’m thinking.

“That kind of thing, that kind of bond… it’s really indescribable.”

3 Doors Down, Theory of a Deadman and Pop Evil performs at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at Rupp Arena. Tickets are $29.50-$49.50. Call (859) 233-3535, (800) 745-3000.

critic’s pick 196

It starts with the sound of corrosion – a momentary wave of static out of which grows a beat, a tense melody dotted with electronic burps, a mounting orchestral wash and, lastly, the sort of casual, unfinished vocal confession that could only belong to Jeff Tweedy.

Thus begins Art of Almost, the lead off track to the splendid new Wilco album The Whole Love. It one were prone to interpretation, they might view the corrosive prelude as a sort of burning away from the past and the rapid re-assembly of found pop parts as a gateway to something new. Tweedy probably never envisioned anything so obvious or pretentious for The Whole Love. But there is no doubting the mood shift from 2009’s Wilco (The Album) to now. The former was full of summery diversion. The Whole Love is all autumnal beauty – bleak though it sometimes becomes.

Longtime fans will still find familiarity, here. Wilco continues to be masterful at crafting all manner of pop melodies. Some are ornate, others disarmingly simple.

For Dawned on Me, Tweedy surrounds a chorus that will lodge itself in your brain after a single listen with Radiohead-like keyboard/bass fragments while drummer (and University of Kentucky grad) Glenn Kotche adds a mix of playful and propulsive grooves. More sumptuous corrosion then ensues from Wilco’s secret weapon – guitarist Nels Cline. There is a brief but absolutely brilliant passage in the song where Cline’s guitar squall is countered by Tweedy whistling the chorus. Seldom have Wilco’s many moods met, blended and moved on with such efficiency.

From another land altogether comes Capitol City, a light, wide-eyed shuffle that almost seems like a vehicle for some soft shoe footwork. The childlike overtones of the song bring out a bright innocence in Tweedy’s singing. The tune is a real trip, though. It musically borrows from the kinds of wheezy keyboard colors Garth Hudson might have created decades ago with The Band. But Tweedy winds up dashing any sort of picture-postcard sentimentalism by augmenting (and defusing) the traditional “wish you were here” refrain with the more sobering brush off of “you wouldn’t like it here.”

The Whole Love saves its jaw-dropper for last, however. Closing the album is the 12 minute One Sunday Morning, a saga of loss and broken faith set to a wistful, light-as-air melody that rides along with the lyrics like a passenger. It is part dirge and part affirmation, even if the quiet doom of Tweedy’s hushed singing seems to initially suggest more of the former.

Such is the way the moods mesh, sparkle and implode on The Whole Love, an album dominated by a band voice that remains – above all the visions here of darkness and light – as viviidly luminous as it is beautifully restless.

john gorka in horse country

john gorka. photo by ann marsden

One word, one descriptive word, keeps emerging when you talk to John Gorka. It is used when this veteran singer-songwriter describes how he writes, how he records and especially how he approaches concert performances.

It also pops up whenever he refers to his extensive solo career, his involvement with the all-star folk trio Red Horse or his duo performances with fellow songsmith (and Red Horse mate) Eliza Gilkyson.

What’s the word? Fun. It’s as simple as that. For as long as Gorka has been making records, from his ‘90s albums for the Windham Hill spinoff-label High Street to his lusciously stark 2009 effort So Dark You See, or writing songs, from the whimsical I’m from New Jersey (from 1991’s Jack’s Crows) to the curiously retributive If These Walls Could Talk (from last year’s self-titled debut album by Red Horse), Gorka has found a modest sense of lasting jubilation.

“Inspirations for songwriting can come from anywhere,” said Gorka, who performs with Gilkyson for Monday’s taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. “But the process is still fun and mysterious. I generally try to get out of the way of the songs and try not to force them into any box or corner.”

Largely folk rooted, Gorka has never shied away from band oriented projects. But on So Dark You See, he scaled the music back for more of a coffeehouse feel where the arrangements and production accentuate vocals, acoustic guitar and the songs themselves. The album’s thematic and stylistic scopes, however, were vast.

There is a spirited cover of Utah Phillips’ I Think of You prefaced by a spoken intro/endorsement by the great folk activist himself, the first instrumental compositions Gorka has committed to a record (Fret One and Fret Not), a sleek reading of the blues gem Trouble in Mind, a Robert Burns poem that Gorka sets in an elegant acoustic setting of guitar and harmonium (A Fond Kiss) and a selection of fine Gorka originals (including Whole Wide World, Night Into Day and Diminishing Winds).

But So Dark You See also accomplished something else. Perhaps unknowingly, Gorka set the wheels running for his next project. Among the guests on So Dark You See were Gilkyson and Lucy Kaplansky, the other two-thirds of Red Horse.

“The three of us had never sung together before we made the record. We didn’t even know how our voices would sound together. But it was a lot if fun.”

While the trio is new, Kaplansky and Gorka are long time friends (“I’ve been singing with Lucy longer than I have not been singing with her”) while the alliance with Gilkyson is comparatively recent.

When the three set about work on the Red Horse album, they opted for the same stripped down folk feel as So Dark You See.

“The idea for So Dark You See was to have the center of the music be the vocals and the guitar. I think Eliza and Lucy wanted that same kind of spareness for Red Horse, for it to be less about production and more about the songs. We were more interested in letting the song shine than having some big, impressive product.”

There is also a major organizational distinction in the design of Red Horse. Usually in all-star configurations, the artist who writes the song will sing the song. Red Horse jumbles that notion by letting the three tackle each other’s works.

“That was Eliza’s idea, and it was really a great one. It’s a fun challenge to try and inhabit the lines that somebody else wrote. So it’s fun that we were able to do that.”

Unfortunately, logistics doesn’t always land of the side of the trio. With Kaplansky (who performed in Lexington last winter) eager to spend much of her time with her young daughter, Red Horse often becomes the duo of Gorka and Gilkyson. And that presents its own unique performance dynamic.

“We’ve been doing quite a few shows as the two of us,” Gorka said. “Lucy hates to leave home, so that leaves me and Eliza to mix up the show a bit.

“I love Eliza’s songs, I love her singing and I love her records. I’ve listened to her records a lot. They’re great company on road trips. There are only a few people whose records are good company like that. But Eliza’s records are definitely in there.”

John Gorka and Eliza Gilkyson with Blitz the Ambassador perform at 7 tonight at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Tickets are $10. Cal (859) 252-8888.

kentucky fur

brothers tim and richard butler of the pyschedelic furs.

brothers tim and richard butler of the pyschedelic furs.

Where is the last place you would expect a founding member of the British post-punk pop-rock brigade The Psychedelic Furs to settle down?

How about the Casey County confines of Liberty?

“Yes, I’m an honorary Kentuckian,” said bassist Tim Butler, who, along with vocalist Richard Butler, serve and the founding and lone mainstay members of the Furs. “I’ve lived in Liberty for about five years. I was living in South Jersey until I met my wife Robyn, who was born and raised in Liberty. We started chatting online and things progressed from there.”

Butler’s current home may be in the Bluegrass, but the Furs’ music – a mix of pure pop lyricism, punk-infused fury and, yes, streams of musical psychedelia – reflects its British heritage well. While songs like Pretty in Pink (which became a theme for the popular 1986 movie of the same name five years after the Furs recorded it) and The Ghost in You defined the band’s more radio-friendly songs, works like Sister Europe, Dumb Waiters and especially Love My Way (all from the band’s first three albums, respectively) were pop fabrics born out of the British New Wave, even though there were suggestions of late ‘70s David Bowie (mostly in Richard Butler’s vocals) and the dense, dour guitar/bass textures of contemporaries like The Cure.

“The Furs formed during a time in England when three out of five kids were leaving school and became, as a result, unemployed,” Butler said. “It was a really bad time. It seemed to us that the only way to sort of do anything or say anything about these people and about what was going on was through music. That’s why punk was around, and that moved into what we now know as alternative.

“The Furs used the energy of punk, but there was also this harkening in our music back to the sort of songwriting of earlier artists like Roxy Music and David Bowie. But we added a certain energy and sneer which was lacking before punk and alternative.”

While there are modest touches in the band’s music that will forever tie it to the ‘80s (mostly in the drum and keyboard sounds), the multi-stylistic design in many Furs songs have led to a refreshingly long shelf life – so much so that earlier this year, the band performed its 1981 album Talk Talk Talk (which contained the original version of Pretty in Pink) in its entirety.

“It’s strange really,” Butler said. “When did the Talk Talk Talk tour this year, we were really surprised at how current these songs sounded. The thing about the Furs is that we never went with any kind of trend. We weren’t swayed by the fashion of the time. I think that’s why, for the most part, our back catalog could be released today and sound current.

“We made one mistake. That was with Midnight to Midnight (a 1987 album that was one of the Furs’ highest charting efforts even though both Butler brothers have dismissed the recording for its more commercial, and now dated, sound). I think you can lock that one into the ‘80s because of the production.

“But I think albums like Forever Now (the band’s third recording, a 1982 Todd Rundgren-produced work that still ranks as one of the Furs’ finest hours) and Talk Talk Talk and even the first album (1980’s The Psychedelic Furs) still sound strong. I mean, bands could be playing songs like that and still sound up to date.”

Not long after the release of 1991’s World Outside album, the Furs split. By then, the Butler brothers had long been the only holdovers from the band’s late ‘70s beginnings. The siblings spent much of the ‘90s with the more guitar-oriented Love Spit Love, a troupe that is easily comparable to Bowie’s elemental rock excursions with Tin Machine. But by 2000, the Furs were back in action.

So what does the bass playing Butler think of his vocalist brother, having been by his side professionally for much of the last 35 years and personally for much longer?

“Well it’s been inspiring just to go to work with someone who is so close to you. You can have an argument and 10 minutes later, it’s history.

“But I think Richard is one of the most distinctive voices of the past 30 years. It’s incredibly distinctive. I think Morrissey is also distinctive, along with Robert Smith (of The Cure) and Bono (from U2).

“Nowadays – and for quite awhile, really – there has been this homogenization of alternative music where you get bands that are essentially interchangeable. You hear them on the radio and they all sound the same. It’s very rare to hear someone as distinctive as Richard.”

The Furs haven’t released a full album of new material since World Outside, although Sony/Legacy this year issued a new 14-song retrospective Playlist: The Very Best of the Psychedelic Furs. While Butler said the new Furs lineup – which also includes guitarist Rich Good, saxophonist Mars Williams, keyboardist Amanda Kramer and drummer Paul Garisto – is working on new material at its own pace, he is especially encouraged by the support and respect the band has been experiencing on its recent tours.

“I think we’re finally getting the respect we deserved. When we were going at it in our heyday, I don’t think the record company knew what to do with us. As a result, we were passed by a lot of the other bands like The Cure and U2. But now we’re getting name checked by younger bands like The Killers, so that’s tremendously gratifying. It makes you feel like what you’ve done has been worthwhile.”

The Psychedelic Furs and The Tom Tom Club perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 25 at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester Road, as part of Boomslang. Tickets are  $20 (advance) and $25 (day of show). Call (859) 368-8871.

the solo folk flight of roger mcguinn


roger mcguinn. copyright photo by john chiasson.

roger mcguinn. copyright photo by john chiasson.

For years now, Roger McGuinn has been working as a solo concert artist, mixing his setlist between the folk songs he has loved all his life and the timeless pop works he sang during the ‘60s and ‘70s as the principal vocalist and mainstay member of The Byrds.

When he makes an album, he records for a label he runs with his wife Camilla. Most of his projects are strict labors of love, like the four disc, 100 song set of traditional folk tunes he released as The Folk Den Project or the newly released compilation of sea-themed songs, CCD.

In short, the 21st century McGuinn leads a quiet but ultra content artistic life. A thirst to re-group with his remaining Byrd-mates? Not interested. An opportunity for a big budget album with a major label? He’ll pass there, too. Playing shows of folk songs and past hits and recording traditional music in a manner with which he will have complete artistic control is all McGuinn, 69, wants. And now that he has it, he couldn’t be happier.

“I think I’m in the best place I’ve ever been,” said McGuinn, who performs tonight at the Grand Theatre in Frankfort. “I’m not enslaved by a big record company that’s telling me what to do. We make our own CDs. We have our own label. I mean, what label would let you record 100 folk songs for an album or 23 sailing songs, for that matter? So this is really the best time of my life.

The CCD album of sea chanties and sailing tunes represents a corner of the traditional folk world that McGuinn has long envied. Such songs have regularly popped up on his post Byrds albums – most directly on his 1976 solo effort Cardiff Rose. Even the record’s cover art of a sailing ship on a stormy sea reflects his fascination of such music.

“This is just a genre that lends itself to doing a specialty album. But I’ve always had a love of sailing songs. I love the gusto and the camaraderie they have. It just makes you feel good to sing those songs. You get to vicariously be on the seas, smelling all that salt air.”

While McGuinn’s archivist-style work at reintroducing and recording numerous genres of traditional folk music (he plans to record folk albums of Christmas music and children’s songs next), there is no lasting escape from the band that landed McGuinn in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But the ways in which his tenure with The Byrds have inspired succeeding generations of country and rock artists continue to surprise. Take last December, for instance, when country star Marty Stuart invited McGuinn onto the stage of the Grand Ole Opry to play with his band.

The Byrds played the Grand Ole Opry once – in 1968, when the band teamed with the late Gram Parsons to produce Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Today, the recording is considered a landmark country album by Americana and alt-country performers and fans. The Opry itself, though, was not impressed at the time. Even though the Byrds members cut their hair to please corporate Nashville’s conservative views on appearance and style, the powers that be were not amused. As result, another 42 years would pass before McGuinn would play a Byrds song at the Grand Ole Opry.

“There was a stigma in those days in Nashville. We were fairly conservative looking by the time we got to play the Grand Ole Opry. But by their standards, we had come from that hippie background. So we were suspect as being Communist sympathizers or something. I don’t know. But it was uncomfortable.

“It was a lot of fun playing there with Marty. But I don’t know if I ever got really emotional about it. I just thought it was fun. Marty always felt The Byrds didn’t get a fair shake at the Grand Old Opry the first time.”

Stuart isn’t the only artist to acknowledge the lasting inspiration of The Byrds’ rock and country recordings. Perhaps the most obvious of those disciples would be Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. But McGuinn said he isn’t surprised that newer generations of artists, especially country artists, have taken so readily to the band’s music.

“It’s surprising because I regard country music as an outgrowth of folk music and all the old songs from England, Ireland. Scotland and Wales. Those songs came over to the South and got distilled before making their way to Nashville and Memphis as country music.

“I grew up listening to country music as part of folk music, so I wasn’t surprised by the acceptance. I am happy, though, that the political barrier got broken by the Outlaw guys – people like Willie (Nelson), Waylon (Jennings), David Allen Coe, Kris Kristofferson and others. The perception of country music having this right wing political agenda got broken down, so I was glad to see that.”

Of course, there is always the nagging question as to whether or not McGuinn might ever tour again with his surviving Byrd brothers, David Crosby and Chris Hillman. Both have said they are open to the idea.

“David and I would love to go out and play a mini reunion tour with Roger,” Hillman said prior to his June performance at the Opera House. “But it won’t happen. And that’s alright.”

“I think it would pollute what we did to go out as a band now,” McGuinn said. “It would be a money grab, and that’s not what I’m in this for. I just like to play for people. I don’t need a lot of money to be comfortable.”

Roger McGuinn performs at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Grand Theatre, 308 St. Clair St. in Frankfort.  Call (502) 352-7469. Tickets are $20, 25 and $40.

Ask pregnant friend to be maid of honor

Post-Tribune (IN) June 22, 2007 | ROBERT WALLACE THIS ELECTRONIC VERSION MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM PRINTED VERSION Dr. Wallace — Jenny and I have been best friends for more than 10 years. We are both 19. My fiance and I are planning a late August wedding. He is 24, a college graduate, and is employed by a stock brokerage firm; I do modeling part time. I want to have my best friend to be my maid of honor; it would mean a lot to me. It so happens that Jenny is now almost six months pregnant (she’s not married) and will be quite “large” on my wedding day. My fiance isn’t bothered by this and neither am I. My mother has a much different view. She thinks that it will be disgraceful for Jenny to be part of the wedding ceremony. She thinks guests will make fun of her and that will spoil my special day. I know what I plan to do, but I’d like to hear your opinion. — Melody, Toronto, Ontario. here maid of honor in our site maid of honor

Melody — It’s your wedding and should be planned so that you and your husband-to-be will be happy. A wedding ceremony is our way of showing the world that a marriage is taking place. It’s a happy, thrilling, but solemn occasion where all eyes should be focused on the bride and groom.

Invite your best friend to be your maid of honor, and have a beautiful wedding and enjoy a wonderful and long life with your husband.


boomslang 3

boomslang 2011 poster and artwork by robert beatty.

 It’s the best thing a festival – or any kind of artistic event, really – could have on its side – familiarity.

It took the WRFL sponsored and organized music-and-more gathering known as Boomslang a short while to earn it. But as the festival begins its third annual run this weekend, there is little question the event has made itself known – even if it is to people that have never attended it.

“More people seem to know about it than ever before,” said Saraya Brewer, Boomslang’s founder and principal organizer. “The people we have talked to about Boomslang have at least heard of it because of all the different new music events we have presented in the past. And some of those people are familiar with it, even if those people haven’t been able to make it to Boomslang the last two years.

“But a lot of the (booking) agencies we’ve worked with are very familiar with our festival now. Plus, we can say who’s been here over the past two years (a list that includes Mission of Burma, Os Mutantes and Death). That gives us a little credibility.”

Much of what made Boomslang so distinctive in the past – its use of multiple Lexington venues and its blend of music as well as visual, literary and performance art – is intact. But this year’s Boomslang is both more concise and more elongated.

As for concise, the bulk of the festival has been whittled from a three day festival to a Friday-Saturday one – or, at least that was the initial intention until an offer came to book a double bill of The Psychedelic Furs and the Talking Heads spinoff band Tom Tom Club (which features Fort Campbell native Chris Frantz) on Sunday at Buster’s.

“We love these kinds of throwback shows,” Brewer said. “We usually throw in one act that’s like that every year. Sometimes there are not popular. Sometimes they are kind of mainstream popular. But both of these bands are still really quirky and different

“When I had inquired about the availability of The Psychedelic Furs, their agency said, ‘They’re doing a double-bill tour with Tom Tom Club this fall. You’ll have to have both.’ And I was, like, ‘Sold.’”

Other highlights of this year’s Boomslang: the first Lexington show by the reunited vanguard post-punk/alternative band Swans and assorted fashion and film related events that will extend the festival’s official run through Tuesday.

“I think they may be playing Nashville or Columbus, but Swans won’t be playing anywhere else around here. That’s the type of act people will come out to see to the exclusion of everything else going on that weekend. That’s also a band I’ve been really interested in for a long time. They announced they were reuniting last year, but Boomslang was just a little early for them in terms of booking. They became one of the first bands we confirmed for this year.”

Speaking of timing, that’s another element Boomslang has on its side this year. Last year’s event managed to precede the mammoth World Equestrian Games. But it couldn’t help but be overshadowed by the many WEG-related happenings, music and otherwise, that were to hit the city just after Boomslang’s run was complete.

“Our first year was probably bigger than last year,” Brewer said. “But this year is shaping up to be our biggest yet.

“I think a lot of people have been turned on by this festival to music they may have never heard before and bands they would never get to see in Lexington. There are a bunch of underground music lovers in the region. Just hearing people say, ‘I never thought I would get to see an event like this in Lexington means a lot.”

For a full schedule of events, performance times and ticket prices, go to


headhunting we will go



kentucky headhunters: greg martin, doug phelps, fred young and richard young. photo by ash newell.

Richard Young was doing some dusting in the beloved “practice house” that has long been a refuge for the veteran Metcalfe County rockers of The Kentucky HeadHunters. For over four decades, from the days when the band was known as the roadhouse rock troupe Itchy Brother to the Grammy winning ‘80s beginnings of the HeadHunters to today, the practice house is an almost purposely primitive homestead for guitarist/vocalist Young and his mates (drummer Fred Young, guitarist Greg Martin and bassist/vocalist Doug Phelps).


Calling the practice house rustic doesn’t begin to convey its homey appeal. It’s a farmhouse near Edmonton with no running water, no insulation and only a few oil heaters to provide a sliver of warmth. Nonetheless, the HeadHunters convened last year at the practice house two days after Christmas to be begin work on their 12th album, Dixie Lullabies. The album, due out next month, will be introduced when the band plays its first Central Kentucky show in years at the weekend-long John Michael Montgomery Country Fest in Winchester’s Lykins Park. (Montgomery, along with Jamey Johnson, Montgomery Gentry, Exile, Colt Ford, Jake Owen and many others will also perform).

“We’re very lucky to have this place,” Young said of the practice house’s role as the recording setting for Dixie Lullabies. “It’s just an old, rundown place. But to us, it’s like a boy’s tree house.

“We’ve wanted to make a record here all of our lives. There is just something that comes across in the music when we’re in this house. It’s a little hard to portray to the audience. But we’re never uptight here. Studios are great things, but it makes a difference when you have a little hideaway. We’re home when we’re here.”

The HeadHunters had the benefit of a few modern gizmos to help make the record, like a portable Pro Tools kit. There was also some tweaking done in a Nashville studio. But the bulk of the recording process was gloriously low-tech.

The vibe Young speaks of has always been present in Headhunters hits like Dumas Walker and its gleefully electric makeovers of the Don Gibson hit Oh, Lonesome Me, Bill Monroe’s Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine and Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky. But on Dixie Lullabies the mood abounds during the Rolling Stones party charge of Tumbin’ Roses and the Lynyrd Skynyrd-flavored, guitar-drenched Little Miss Bluesbreaker.

“We put a bass amp up in the attic for Doug and out some pillows and mattresses around it,” Young said. “We put one guitar amp in one room and one guitar amp in the other. And in the main room where we usually rehearse, we set up the drums. From there, we just played these tracks and sang with them as we went along. This created a real homey feel.

“The record portrays the whole spectrum of where we’ve been, from that Itchy Brother sound of the ‘70s on through the early HeadHunters music. But there are also some surprises to show people just where we’re going.”

The Kentucky HeadHunters perform at 6 p.m. Friday as part of the John Michael Montgomery Country Fest at Lykins Park in Winchester.  Tickets are $20-$40. For a complete festival schedule go to

critic’s pick 195


grateful dead: europe '72, part 2

The spring tour The Grateful Dead undertook in Europe during the spring of 1972 was historic and those manning the Dead vaults know it. Later this fall, the band’s archivists are going to release a sprawling 72-disc set that covers the entire 22-city tour. The price tag: $450.00.

There is no doubt about it. The Dead, though officially disbanded since guitarist Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995 (save for a few brief reunions by surviving members) are thriving in jam band afterlife.

Why was the tour so championed by Dead fans young and old? It was a transitional time, to be sure. It would be the last tour to feature keyboardist and rock/soul devotee Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. It was also a run that cemented the presence of the husband-wife team of pianist Keith and vocalist Donna Godchaux, which would ride out the rest of the decade with the band, taking it ever so close to the pop mainstream.

But the true thrill of those ’72 concerts was the sense of improvisation – both casual and calculated, all played with loose confidence. We heard such a formula applied to Europe ’72, a triple album set released in late 1972. It became one of the band’s most cherished live documents.

This week, for those without the budget or the completist desire to fork out a mortgage payment for the forthcoming mega-disc package, we have the release of the more thriftily priced Europe ’72, Vol.2 – a package that dissects the 1972 tour into a more manageable set list featuring 20 songs spread out over two discs. The cost: about $13.

Dead Heads should note that Part 2 contains none of the songs featured on the original Europe ’72. But there are still obvious and welcoming concert highlights that introduce themselves – like the jovial opening of Bertha that winds its way through Bob Weir’s light country gusto on Me and My Uncle that leads into the roots groove of Beat It On Down the Line up to an explosive Playing in the Band that comes with a bounty of simmering grooves.

But the show-stealer leads off Part 2’s second disc. From the May 1972 Bickershaw Festival in Wigan, England comes a 52 minute medley that opens with a spacious Dark Star, a brief two minute drum interlude from Bill Kreutzmann and a luscious The Other One that builds and boils until the tune’s rugged, assured medley bursts fourth 10 minutes into the song’s half-hour run.

Excessive? Perhaps. But if the Dead’s mighty jams ever at all touched you, these audio snapshots from another era and shore will undoubtedly excite. Is it the Dead at its best? Hard to say. But within the heartily mined archives of the Dead’s “long strange trip,” Part 2 is a sequel to be savored.

minor key jewell


eilen jewell. photo by liz linder.

Among the crowd pleasing tunes created by the Missouri Americana rock troupe The Bottle Rockets is a road anthem titled Indianapolis. It’s tale of vehicular woe set in the city of the same name.

“Can’t go west, can’t go east,” the song goes. “I’m stuck in Indianapolis with a fuel pump that’s deceased.” Indie blues/country stylist Eilen (pronounced ee-lynn) Jewell is currently living her own variation of that saga. She’s not stuck in Indianapolis, which works out great for us as she will spotlight the noir-style songs from her recent Queen of the Minor Key album tonight at Natasha’s. Her touring van? Well, that’s another story.

“It’s been a challenging tour,” Jewell said. “Our van’s transmission died, so it now lives Indianapolis. We’re not sure how we’re going to reunite. We’re currently crammed into a SUV that’s way too small. But we’re getting to the gigs, so it could be worse.”

A current Bostanian (but a native of Idaho who has also lived in Santa Fe and Los Angeles, which explains the occasional Western imagery in her songs), Jewell designs a warm but torchy mood for many of the arresting songs on Queen of the Minor Key with help from a sleek sounding quartet and cameos by swing and twang vocal greats Big Sandy and Zoe Muth..

Atmosphere, she said, is among the most critical components of her songs.

“It’s easy for musicians to over think what they’re doing with their songs. For me music has always been about the feel as opposed to what is going on intellectually so long as the album has the right feel and each song is given the treatment it seems to be asking for. That way you kind of organically come up with the sound.”

But the sound of Queen of the Minor Key, which consists entirely of Jewel’s original songs, is a dramatic shift from the focus of her 2010 album Butcher Hollow. As the recording’s Kentucky-rooted title suggests, the music is drawn exclusively from the country-rooted songs written and recorded by Loretta Lynn.

“My band and I kind of let each of those songs do their own thing,” Jewell said. “It’s tough when you’re doing all cover material. You don’t want to strictly imitate what the original artist did. There’s not much point in that. But you don’t want to alter things too much either. Tinkering with a song makes it into a totally different thing.

“I didn’t want to just do the obvious Loretta songs, either. I wanted songs that spoke to me personally, that I could see myself singing lyrics to. People kept asking me why we didn’t record Coal Miner’s Daughter. Well, I’m not a coal miner’s daughter, so I couldn’t see myself singing those words as well as, say, Fist City. I don’t know what that says about me.”

Eilen Jewell performs at 9 tonight at Natasha’s Bistro, 112 Esplanade. Cover charge is $10. Call (859) 259-2754.

grascals in mayberry

the grascals: danny roberts, jamie johnson, kristin scott benson, jeremy abshire, terry eldredge and terry smith.

The Grascals didn’t have to dwell long over the offer to record a set of songs popularized in – an inspired by – The Andy Griffith Show.

Like many Americans of successive generations, the band members grew up with the sitcom set along the smalltown streets of Mayberry. Even today, when the award-winning contemporary bluegrass troupe is on the tour bus or performing overseas, they invariably find themselves tuned into to reruns of the iconic program.

“When we toured Japan, we had the show on,” said founding Grascals guitarist/vocalist Terry Eldredge. “So we got to hear Andy in Japanese. He sounds a little bit different that way.”

But there was a bigger hurdle to handle before the band could commence on the EP disc, which was being designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Andy Griffith Show. They had to get the blessing of one key individual.

“Everything that has to do with the show, even today, has to go through Andy,” Eldredge said. “So he was sent some of our CDs, but I guess Andy already knew about us. When he was told about the idea of this tribute record, he said, ‘I’d love it. But I want The Grascals to do the music.’

“And so the man himself gave us the clear.”

With that, recording commenced on a seven-song EP titled Dance Til Your Stockings are Hot and Ravelin’. Bluegrass music goes hand in hand with The Andy Griffith Show’s lasting appeal. Featured regularly were the acclaimed bluegrass roots troupe The Dillards, which played the rural mountain music ensemble The Darling Boys on the program.

“The Dillards were on there a lot,” Eldridge said. “So were the players that became The Kentucky Colonels (which included celebrated bluegrass siblings Roland and Clarence White). Pretty much every episode had music on it.”

For The Grascals, the figurative trip to Mayberry began what has become one of the band’s most creatively and commercially fruitful years to date. Energized by a now-stabilized lineup that teams recent recruits (banjoist Kristin Scott Benson and fiddler Jeremy Abshire) with founding members (Eldredge, guitarist/vocalist Jamie Johnson, mandolinist Danny Roberts and bassist Terry Smith), The Grascals recently picked up four major nominations for this fall’s International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards.

Among the trophies the band will compete for: Entertainer of the Year (the IBMA’s top price, which it won previously in 2006 and 2007) and Instrumental Performer of the Year (for Benson) as well as Song of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year for I Am Strong, a song from 2010’s The Grascals & Friends: Country Classics with a Bluegrass Spin. The song offers a reunion with the artist that largely introduced bluegrass and country audiences to The Grascals – Dolly Parton.

The band toured extensively with the country legend in 2004 when her music took a detour into bluegrass. The Grascals did double duty at those performances, serving as Parton’s opening act as well as her backup band.

“The way it all started was we went into the recording studio to cut three songs,” Eldredge recalled. “We didn’t even have a record contract at the time. But as it turned out we were working at the same studio as Dolly.

“So we were in there one day doing some mixing and in comes Dolly. ‘I hear you guys are making an album,’ she said. ‘Let me hear it.’ So we only had those three songs. We played them for her and she said, ‘That’s exactly what I want.’

Determined to have The Grascals establish their own career, Parton, as Eldridge terms it today, eventually “cut strings” with the band. The Grascals’ self-titled debut album was released in 2005. Since then, there has been no looking back – excepting, of course, the opportunity to record again with Parton on I Am Strong.

So what were those initial performances like once The Grascals emerged from Parton’s wing?

“Well, money-wise it kind of hurt,” Eldredge said with a laugh. “But we just kept working at it. We knew we had the rocket all along. We just couldn’t get it off the ground. Thanks to Dolly, we found the fuel.”

If you go: The Grascals performs at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Elk Creek Vineyards, 150 Highway 330 in Owenton. Tickets are $20. Call (502) 484-0005.

North American Spine Adds Kenneth Alo, M.D. to Its Physician Group.

Health & Beauty Close-Up September 21, 2010 North American Spine said that Kenneth Alo, M.D. has joined to help further the advancement of minimally invasive pain treatment techniques used to both diagnose and treat inter-vertebral lumbar discs, spinal stenosis and many other causes of back pain. here forest park medical center

In a release, the group said that its physicians treat chronic pain of the spine using the latest technology and a procedure called the AccuraScope. North American Spine said that its trained physicians are the only doctors performing the AccuraScope procedure in Dallas/Fort Worth and now the Houston area.

Dr. Alo graduated from Texas A&M University College of Medicine and completed his General Surgery Internship, Anesthesiology Residency, and Interventional Pain Fellowship at The Methodist Hospital, and Baylor College of Medicine Affiliated Hospitals in the Texas Medical Center. He is board certified and has been active in supporting the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the American Neuromodulation Society, the National Pain Foundation, the International Neuromodulation Society, The International Association for the Study of Pain, The American Pain Foundation, and the American Pain Society in various roles.

“North American Spine is excited to launch our services into the Houston market with an experienced expert like Ken Alo at the helm,” said Christopher Lloyd, CEO of North American Spine. “Dr. Alo is world renowned in the development and application of advanced interventional pain techniques and is known for his thought-leadership, clinical expertise and research.” Dr. Alo is specially trained on the AccuraScope procedure which allows physicians to examine the inside of the spinal canal and the discs of the lower back to identify, diagnose and treat any tears, ruptures, herniations, bulges or other abnormalities — many of which may be undetected or mis-identified by MRIs. Dr. Alo maintains progressive diagnostic and therapeutic algorithms by continuously studying, teaching, writing and participating in the latest clinical research. His goal is to systematically intervene and break a patient’s pain cycle accurately and promptly, so that rehabilitative techniques can begin the reconditioning process. Applying North American Spine’s minimally invasive spine techniques to this approach represents a logical step in the conservative course of treatments Dr. Alo has championed in his own practice for decades. here forest park medical center

North American Spine currently operates at Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas, Texas and University General Hospital in Houston, Texas. North American Spine plans to expand its elite group of hand-selected specialists in key locations nationwide, including the recently-opened Houston location, Southern California and New Jersey, with expansion to select markets internationally also under way.

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