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Print Reviews

The Big House Collection

The Big House Collection

The Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House

This book is faithfully dedicated to every member of the Allman Brothers Band and their families, crew members, management, friends and various disreputable people who journeyed down the road that went on forever.

The Allman Brothers Band formed on March 26, 1969 in Jacksonville, Florida led by the musical innovation of Duane Allman. Along with Allman, the band included Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, Butch Trucks, Berry Oakley, Dickey Betts, and Gregg Allman, and their unprecedented sound arguably gave birth to so-called Southern Rock and forged a path for many new groups to follow. The band relocated to Macon, Georgia a few days after its creation to be managed by Phil Walden under Capricorn Records (co-owned by Walden and Frank Fenter) and to practice at their newly established Capricorn Studios. It wasn’t until 1970 that Linda Oakley-Miller would rent the 18-room sprawling Tudor house for $225 a month, and it would remain home and gathering place for the band until 1973, the “Big House.” Not all of of them “officially” lived there, however. In his foreword, John Lynskey points out that “while the Big House was important to the band, it was Berry and Linda’s home,” a fact often overlooked. There was enough success and sorrow to pack into a lifetime during that short span within and without its walls, but with the help of Oakley-Miller among many others, it has been restored to its former glory.

The hardcover, 224-page labor of love with its glossy, high resolution photos and in-depth descriptions is a must have for any Allman Brothers Band fan. Segmented into five chapters, “Instruments,” “Clothing,” “Posters,” “Assorted Items,” and “Paper” with stunning images and corresponding notes, it offers a small glimpse into the treasure trove of artifacts housed within the museum’s walls. The material does span all eras of the band but there is a heavier focus on the earliest years. There are also poignant commentaries preceding each chapter from the aforementioned John Lynskey and Linda Oakley-Miller as well as Galadrielle Allman, Kirk West, and Kirsten West, plus a heartfelt closing from Richard Brent, The Big House Museum Director. It was Kirk and Kirsten West who truly spearheaded the restoration of the house, purchasing and renovating it in 1993, and the eventual creation of the museum. Be sure to read Kirsten’s words on page 185. They are profoundly moving and really place you along on the Wests’ inspiring journey to Macon.

Macon itself has a rich, storied history and while you are there you can explore it for yourself or take a guided tour with Rock Candy Tours. Places such as Rose Hill Cemetery, H&H Soul Food (sometimes “Mama” Louise Hudson is even there), Robert McDuffie Center for Strings (formerly Beall House, where the iconic Stephen Paley photo for the eponymously named first Allman Brothers Band album was taken on its steps), and the newly renovated Capricorn Studios are just some of the many sites to visit while you are there.

On a personal note, I’m proud to be one of the hundreds of supporters who backed this project through a Kickstarter campaign. 895 fans pledged well over $100,000 for this project to see fruition. The book is available at The Big House Museum online gift shop, which also offers many other band-related items for sale. Due to the current health risks the museum itself is closed but when it does reopen, the book can be purchased on site in the gift shop along with many other unique offerings. Whether you’re a casual or die-hard fan and you’ve never made the pilgrimage, I highly encourage you to do so. If you can’t get there, then this coffee table book is the next best thing. The museum is chock full of memorabilia that is updated and rotated often. There is something magical about taking that first step over the threshold. I have read countless comments from people who say that the tears flowed down their cheeks as they entered for the first time, and I count myself among those. It’s a powerful place. Once again, I defer to the words of John Lynskey:

If you’re lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right moment in the Big House, perhaps you will feel a surge of positive energy swirl in and pass through your body, an echo of the time when a band of brothers called this house their home.

I know EXACTLY what he means. I feel it EVERY time I am there. But don’t just take my word for it – see for yourself.

The Road Goes On Forever…

www.merchmountain.com/product/allman-brothers-memorabilia-book thebighousemuseum.com www.rockcandytours.com

Categories
Event Reviews

The Record Company

The Record Company

with Buffalo Gospel

Georgia Theatre, Athens, Georgia • June 17, 2019

The intimate Georgia Theatre played host to a brilliant evening of music on a balmy Monday in Athens as Grammy-nominated blues rockers, The Record Company blew the roof off the historic venue. The building itself was destroyed by a fire in 2009 and reopened in 2011. It has the warm, down-home feel of a favorite local haunt, and what a treat it was to enjoy some amazing blues-laced rock in such a cozy setting. The Record Company’s second and latest release, All Of This Life, was unquestionably one of my top picks from 2018. It is in my constant rotation. Yes, the Los Angeles- based trio’s sophomore effort is THAT good.

Buffalo Gospel

Michelle Wilson
Buffalo Gospel


Buffalo Gospel

Michelle Wilson
Buffalo Gospel

Opening the show at 8pm was Milwaukee-based quintet, Buffalo Gospel, an Americana/country outfit that truly rocked the place to the rafters. Founding singer/guitarist Ryan Necci maintained a commanding stage presence and had the killer vocals to support it. Backed by guitarist Andrew Koenig, bassist Kevin Rowe, fiddler Haley Rydell and drummer Nick Lang, the folk band from Wisconsin put on a 40-minute, high-energy set that left everyone wanting more. The nine-song set list included “High Time To Hang Fire,” “Easy Love,” “Can’t Afford To Die,” with haunting vocals morphing into a gritty rocker, “On The First Bell,” the title track off their latest, critically-acclaimed record (2018), “Song Of The Ox,” “Best Get Fitted,” “Letters To Georgia,” “Son Of A Gun,” and “Don’t Do It,” a cover from The Band featuring The Record Company’s frontman, Chris Vos on lap steel, much to everyone’s delight. Necci had a great rapport with the audience, thanking them for dancing and inviting them to move up. He also introduced his brother, Dan at the merch table and encouraged the crowd to visit them following their set. This was a very impressive, tight band and I truly enjoyed them.

Chris Vos of The Record Company

Michelle Wilson
Chris Vos of The Record Company


Alex Stiff of The Record Company

Michelle Wilson
Alex Stiff of The Record Company

Taking the stage at 9pm and playing a 90-minute set plus a two-song encore, frontman/guitarist/harpist Vos, bassist Alex Stiff and drummer Marc Cazorla wasted no time getting the crowd going with Vos’ searing slide and signature falsetto on “Make It Happen.” With Stiff’s solid bass lines and Cazorla’s monster drum chops, people were dancing immediately while the light show dazzled. Vos was truly appreciative of the receptive audience. He gave props to Buffalo Gospel and encouraged fans to support them. He also mentioned more than once that it “takes special people to come out on a Monday night, so thank you.” Vos played several different guitars throughout the show including acoustic, electric and lap steel. His slide work is a thing of beauty.

Alex Stiff, Marc Cazorla and Chris Vos of The Record Company

Michelle Wilson
Alex Stiff, Marc Cazorla and Chris Vos of The Record Company


The Record Company

Michelle Wilson
The Record Company

Offering seven songs from each of their two albums plus an EP cut as well as a cover, the 14 songs and two-song encore were off the chain. I love that this band switches up players and instruments. Guitar tech Johnny, a jack of all trades, played keys and guitar, sat in on drums while Cazorla moved to keys, and also played bass while Stiff moved to guitar. He even played tambourine.

Chris Vos of The Record Company

Michelle Wilson
Chris Vos of The Record Company


The Record Company

Michelle Wilson
The Record Company

Cuts off Give It Back To You (2016) included “On The Move,” “Hard Day Coming Down,” “Rita Mae Young,” the title track, “Give It Back To You,” “Turn Me Loose,” “Off The Ground,” and “Crooked City” in the encore. The title track was out of the rotation since 2016 until a fan wrote and asked them to start playing it again. They had so much fun with it that they decided to add it back into the set. Also included was “Baby I’m Broken” off their 2013 EP and a smokin’ cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

Chris Vos of The Record Company

Michelle Wilson
Chris Vos of The Record Company

All Of This Life got equal treatment with “Make It Happen,” “The Movie Song,” “I’m Coming Home,” “I’m Changing” (a song they haven’t done much lately so we were lucky to get it), “You And Me,” “Life To Fix,” and “Getting Better” in the encore as the final song of the night. The crowd sang along as Vos blew his harp. What an incredible show this was, and it was over so fast.

The Record Company

Michelle Wilson
The Record Company

Very often I mention the band and I usually get the response, “What record company?” Well, that will all change very soon as more people become familiar with the greatness that is The Record Company. Their sound is such a breath of fresh air and it always amazes me how much volume comes from such a small band. They are touring as supporting act for such bands as Gov’t Mule, Blackberry Smoke and even Rival Sons over in the U.K. If you spend money on one show this year, make it The Record Company. You can thank me later.

Check out the full galleries of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/BLUES-CONCERT-PHOTOS/THE-RECORD-COMPANY-Georgia-Theatre-Athens-GA

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/COUNTRY-MUSIC-CONCERT-PHOTOS/BUFFALO-GOSPEL-Georgia-Theatre-Athens-GA-6-17-19

therecordcompany.net/, www.buffalogospel.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Dickey Betts Band

Dickey Betts Band

with Devon Allman Project featuring Duane Betts

Macon, Georgia • May 17, 2018

Dickey Betts’ sold-out show in Macon, Georgia on May 17, 2018 proves that you can, indeed, go home again. Just a few weeks after announcing his retirement in late 2017, the Grammy-Award winning guitarist, singer and songwriter and co-founding member of the Allman Brothers Band thrilled the world in late December, 2017 with a comeback tour announcement. Performing a sold-out hometown “rehearsal” show in Sarasota just two days prior to the “official” opening show of the tour, the Dickey Betts Band rolled into Macon, Georgia, the early home of the Allman Brothers Band, amid throngs of adoring fans. From their humble beginnings in this small Georgia community, the band went on to create some of the most groundbreaking music ever, and the people of Macon came to embrace the six young men who were as diverse as their music itself.

Michelle Wilson

Michelle Wilson

Michelle Wilson

 

Kicking off the show with a 50-minute set was The Devon Allman Project featuring guitarists Duane Betts and Jackson Stokes, percussionists John Lum and R. Scott Bryan, bassist Justin Corgan and keys player Nicholas David, with a guest appearance from Peter Levin (Gregg Allman Band, Blind Boys of Alabama) and Johnny Stachela (Duane Betts) . The band pumped out a stellar, high-energy set that included “Mahalo” (co-written by Allman for Honeytribe), “Ten Million Slaves” (an Otis Taylor cover appearing on Allman’s Ragged and Dirty ), “Left My Heart In Memphis” (written by Allman for Royal Southern Brotherhood’s self-titled debut), “I’ll Be Around” (The Spinners – Thom Bell/Phil Hurtt) “Taking Time,” featuring Duane Betts and his composition from his latest EP , and also featuring Johnny Stachela, “Multicolored Lady” (written by Allman’s father, the late Gregg Allman – a bittersweet homage that included use of the elder Allman’s Martin acoustic guitar), and lastly, another cut from Ragged and Dirty, the instrumental, “Midnight Lake Michigan.” Just prior to performing this last song, Allman was handed a guitar by his tech, and as he held it up high, he proudly stated: “this is Duane Allman’s goldtop right here!” It was Allman’s 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, and the Macon contingent got the thrill of a lifetime as Allman took his uncle’s iconic guitar out into the sea of concertgoers while playing it. The prized instrument, which was graciously proffered for the evening, is owned by Scot Lamar and housed at Macon’s Allman Brothers Band Big House Museum. Allman thanked everyone for all the love and support given to his family over the last year, reassuring them that it meant a lot to him.

Michelle Wilson

Michelle Wilson

Michelle Wilson

 

It was truly a monumental moment as a smiling Dickey Betts walked onstage around 9:30pm amid the roaring applause of lifelong Peach Heads, armed with the latest axe in his arsenal, a black, one-of-a-kind custom SG/Les Paul combo, dubbed “DB Proto 1.” Opening with “Hot ‘Lanta,” an Allman Brothers Band classic instrumental, the band followed it up with another Allman Brothers Band favorite, the Blind Willie McTell cover, “Statesboro Blues,” with Mike Kach’s growling, edgy vocals doing major justice to Gregg Allman’s recognizable sound. Backed by his son, Duane Betts as well as Damon Fowler on guitar, bassist Pedro Arevalo, the aforementioned keyboardist/vocalist Kach, and drummers Frankie Lombardi and Steve Camilleri, the set also included guest appearances from Allman (vocals and guitar on his father’s legendary hit, “Midnight Rider”), mother/daughter vocal team, Bonnie (Delaney & Bonnie) and Bekka Bramlett (Allman Brothers Band hits “Blue Sky” and “Ramblin’ Man,” and Dickey Betts & Great Southern staple, “Nothing You Can Do” (1977)), as well as Kris Jensen (Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band saxophonist, “Whipping Post,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”), along with the real highlight of the night, Jaimoe, on a monstrous “Whipping Post.” It was the first time Betts and Jaimoe had performed together in almost 20 years, a fact not lost on this capacity crowd. Other songs in the set included Dickey Betts & Great Southern’s “My Getaway” and 90s-era Allman Brothers Band tunes, “Change My Way of Living” and “Seven Turns.” With the audience on its feet, the encore of Allman Brothers Band hits, “Ramblin’ Man” and the instrumental, “Jessica,” rounded out the magical two-hour set. Kicking up the special factor a notch, Betts’ ex-wife, Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijig and their daughter, Jessica Betts, also were in attendance to cheer on their Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

Michelle Wilson

 

Allman Brothers Band die-hards “get” the magnitude of this event, and those lucky enough to be in attendance, this one included, felt the wash of emotion coursing through the venue. Being a small part of it was an indescribable feeling, but it is one that will be cherished forever.

Links to full galleries from Rock Legends Photographers:

DEVON-ALLMAN-PROJECT

DICKEY-BETTS

dickeybetts.com, www.devonallmanproject.com

Categories
Event Reviews

John Prine

John Prine

with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Fox Theater, Atlanta, Georgia • October 18th, 2014

John Prine released his self-titled debut album in 1971, and if he had never written another song, his place atop the ranks of contemporary songwriters would have been assured by those thirteen songs contained within. Hailed as another “new Dylan”, Prine seemed to emulate novelist Kurt Vonnegut instead, finding, as did the famously cynical author, a rare mix between the pathos and the absurdity of everyday life. The concert’s opening song, “Spanish Pipedream” is this in spades: For I knew that topless lady had something up her sleeve–and from the opening chorus–“We blew up our TV threw away our paper/Went to the country, built us a home/Had a lot of children, fed ’em on peaches/They all found Jesus on their own”–he had the rapturous Fox Theater crowd singing along, and they continued throughout the night as one old favorite followed another.

Thankfully Prine didn’t stop writing after his first album, and he drew upon his 15+ releases to form his set-list. From the poignant “Hello In There” and “Sam Stone” to later songs such as “Lake Marie” and “Humidity Built The Snowman”, Prine and his great band- guitarist Jason Wilber, bassist Dave Jacques and mandolin/guitarist Pat McLaughlin- had the crowd enthralled. An early “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” hit the mark as surely and sharply as it did in the aftermath of the Vietnam war–sadly, it seems to never lose it’s timeliness–and is an apt illustration of Prine’s unique gift, his ability to make us sing along to life’s most ridiculous moments and values.

The show was opened by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, fresh off a winning night at the Americana Music awards show, where the former Drive By Trucker won Artist, Song (“Cover Me Up”) and Album of the Year for his brilliant 2013 release Southeastern. While Prine is often humorous in his songs, Isbell isn’t- his subject matter is often dark with such material as “Live Oak”, a view from a serial killer, or “Elephant”, his gut wrenching, heart in the throat portrayal of watching a friend die of cancer. When Isbell performed the song, it seemed strange, somehow, to applaud- for it felt as if you were eavesdropping on a private conversation. It was a spellbinding moment from probably the greatest songwriter we have now. When Prine brought Isbell onstage to duet on “Storm Windows”, you could see the lineage–Isbell started performing the song in open mic nights when he was 17–and he learned well at the hands of a master.

John Prine is 68 years old, and has survived two bouts with cancer- who knows how long we’ll have him. Watching the show end with his song “Paradise” (again with Jason Isbell in tow), you felt fortunate to witness an extraordinary evening of two geniuses- the once and future king, perhaps. For the 4,000+ plus in attendance, there was no where you’d rather be.

www.johnprine.net

Categories
Music Reviews

Venice Is Sinking

Venice Is Sinking

Sand & Lines

One Percent Press

Canadian country-torch legends Cowboy Junkies’ most epochal moment was the Trinity Sessions, where the band gathered in a local church, clustered around a single microphone and, caught up in fever of creation, recorded their most enduring set of songs in one night. It’s that spontaneous, holy vibe that Venice Is Sinking sought to alchemically replicate on Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions May 24-28th 2008. Well, that and Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes and probably the Velvet Underground’s third album. Coming off like a Rymanized Mojave 3 or Mazzy Star, Venice Is Sinking knocks out a set of covers and originals that are stately, melancholy, and ragged — like heading out into the sun after a sleepless night of heartache. A pleasant spontaneity pervades these recordings that puts this album above Venice Is Sinking’s last album AZAR. Of the covers, “Jolene” is pitched between Damon and Naomi and the VU (fuck yeah), but I gotta say, their baroque arrangement of Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat” (pace slowed to a graceful shuffle, strings, horns, and sleighbells) almost beats the original (and fucking On Fire changed my life at 17). “Falls City” smolders alluringly with ghostly Martin Rev organ, a head-nodding beat, a string section, and Link Wray twang.

Sand & Lines is clearly in hock to its admittedly impeccable influences — I could name about fifteen albums that hew similar ground — but there is no denying the elegant music that pours forth, like a torrent of tears.

One Percent Press: onepercentpress.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Coathangers

Coathangers

Scramble

Suicide Squeeze

Atlanta’s Coathangers have been dividing audiences with their music, straddling that very shaky divide between sublime shambles (otherwise known as the Billy Childish line) and “Oh god I’m fucking walking out of here” shambles. Scramble really isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. It’s like a more unfocused, unhinged Vivian Girls, taking in and spewing out the likes of Bratmobile, the Slits, the Buggles, the Husbands, Marine Girls, EARLY Cure and Scratch Acid. Vocals are shouted out grindcore style, one low and raw, one high and shouty, drums a brutish trample, dubby bass and guitars are all spidery and entwined like Gang of Four, and weirdo haunted house keyboards add the final flourishes, all impulsively tripping over one another. During like half of Scramble, I’m thinking, jesus, even for me this is just a little much. But y’know I think they’re an insular enough gang… It’s like they’re doing the whole Twisted Sister music video thing where it’s, “I find your dissenting opinion on our band VERY interesting,” whilst secretly turning up the amp to 11 and blowing you (the naysayer) through a wall into wet cement like a particularly hapless high school principal. It’s a critic-proof stance.

The performances tend to wear thin as the songs unfurl, but there is so much messy ambition in the skewed arrangements that I can’t possibly stop listening. The Coathangers are bored of traditional verse/chorus/verse/same-as-the-first structures, and there’s more than enough fealty to new wave, and no wave, to keep things way more interesting than your typical garage rock clatter. The taut, sweating-bullets tension of “Time Passing,” the reflective jangly gambol of “Dreamboat,” the scuzzy swagger of tribute “Killdozer,” the shredded-throat and hardcore theatrics (that suddenly sounds like the Final Jeopardy music for a few seconds) of “Arthritis Sux,” are all really promising heralds of things to come.

Suicide Squeeze: www.suicidesqueeze.net

Categories
Event Reviews

Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll

with The Bluejays

Atlanta, Georgia • 07.19.2005

Hayes Carll at Smiths Olde Bar

Carlton Freeman
Hayes Carll at Smiths Olde Bar

Texan Hayes Carll burst onto the Americana Scene in a pretty big way this year. His Little Rock CD has held at or near the top position in the Americana charts for a good while. I personally like this CD a lot, Little Rock been one of those recordings that was getting so much attention and acclaim that I just didn’t see the point in spending time writing about it if everyone else already was and it’d all been said already. Hayes Carll has received several nominations for “Song Of The Year” and “Album of the Year” from some of the higher profile Media and Music Industry organizations. This sort of stuff doesn’t always match up with my own personal musical taste and sensibilities but I’d say that it does in this case. It also warms my heart to know that a self-released recording can do so well. Some artists need the help but with some, the artistic integrity of the original idea gets compromised more and more as more people put their thumbprints on the work. Hayes has avoided that trap.

Hayes Carll’s influences do include some of the finest of the legendary Texas Troubadours. He uses these influences and his own more youthful experiences in his songwriting and it puts his work on a level that’s not often seen from someone so young. It certainly didn’t hurt to have production by R.S Field on his Little Rock recording either. All-in-all Hayes has surrounded himself with and has drawn from all the right influences for him. Hayes is young, but he’s an “Old Soul” type so these older influences serve him much better than they do some who point to the same people as their influences. The other — and more important — barometer of a working artist’s chances of making it is how the live shows come off. Hayes Carll certainly excelled at this.

At several points in the beginning of the show there were some yakkers at the bar who were not there for the music. These guys were sufficiently humiliated by the chorus of shushing that went on to the point that they all either shut up or left the venue in pretty short order, leaving Hayes free to deliver one of the most engaging performances that I’ve seen out of any new artist in many years.

Hayes has a biting sense of humor and just the right amount of smart between-song banter to keep the continuity going but take the audience on a journey. He succeeded in delivering a live performance that stood up to and at times even surpassed what he’d earlier put to tape. I expect that Hayes will be around for a good long while. If he’ll just buy a Nudie Suit, hook up with Emmylou and make a run to Joshua Tree, he’ll surely be golden.

See him when you get the chance. It’ll be worth the trip.

Hayes Carll: hayescarll.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Hellstomper

Hellstomper

Are you From Dixie?

D-Fens

God, I love this record, and for all the wrong reasons. It’s loud, crude, completely politically incorrect, has no musical talent, crappy vocals and it’s GREAT! These guys look like a cartoon of rural Georgia rednecks, but as best I can tell are completely sincere, proud of what they are and where they come from, and make no bones about where they stand on gays, blacks, yuppies and everyone not born within five miles of where they were. Opening the disc is the anthem “Pabst Blue Ribbon,” a tale of country love and alcoholism. It’s not the woman he loves, but his buddies George Dickel and Jack Daniels, the PBR chaser, and the liquor goggles which make everything much, much better. Following this, we get another tender love song, “Suicide.” He’s found his woman in bed with another man, shoots them both, and then debates suicide. A useless waste of human life? MAYBE. Let’s think about it… This sort of thing goes on for a while, till right at the end of the disc, we get their take on free speech, “Berkeley in a Box”. Whatever these guys believe, I recommend not arguing with them if you have an orange Mohawk or a preference in chardonnay. You won’t win.

The only real problem is there’s not a lot of material here — 10 studio songs, plus 4 live versions of the same tunes and some random interview snippets that make it clear these guys are for real. I recommend this for any road trip that passes through Atlanta and doesn’t involve changing planes at Hartsfield. Yee haw, baby, this is the real stuff.

Hellstomper: www.hellstomper.8m.com/

Categories
Music Reviews

Hellstomper

Hellstomper

Are you From Dixie?

D-Fens

God, I love this record, and for all the wrong reasons. It’s loud, crude, completely politically incorrect, has no musical talent, crappy vocals and it’s GREAT! These guys look like a cartoon of rural Georgia rednecks, but as best I can tell are completely sincere, proud of what they are and where they come from, and make no bones about where they stand on gays, blacks, yuppies and everyone not born within five miles of where they were. Opening the disc is the anthem “Pabst Blue Ribbon,” a tale of country love and alcoholism. It’s not the woman he loves, but his buddies George Dickel and Jack Daniels, the PBR chaser, and the liquor goggles which make everything much, much better. Following this, we get another tender love song, “Suicide.” He’s found his woman in bed with another man, shoots them both, and then debates suicide. A useless waste of human life? MAYBE. Let’s think about it… This sort of thing goes on for a while, till right at the end of the disc, we get their take on free speech, “Berkeley in a Box”. Whatever these guys believe, I recommend not arguing with them if you have an orange Mohawk or a preference in chardonnay. You won’t win.

The only real problem is there’s not a lot of material here — 10 studio songs, plus 4 live versions of the same tunes and some random interview snippets that make it clear these guys are for real. I recommend this for any road trip that passes through Atlanta and doesn’t involve changing planes at Hartsfield. Yee haw, baby, this is the real stuff.

Hellstomper: www.hellstomper.8m.com

Categories
Music Reviews

The Reverend Lester Knox of Tifton, Georgia

The Reverend Lester Knox of Tifton, Georgia

Put Your Face in Gwod: The 366th Revival

The Smack Shire

The Reverend Knox spat crazy hellfire and brimstone, and occasionally hope. South Georgia (or Florida, or the South, or the USA) is properly steeped in a caricature of Christian history, partly due to folks like the Peach State’s Reverend Knox. Indeed, the audio recordings here of his disfavored AM radio-preaching do not necessarily put an appealing spin on the “Gospel as Truth” or “God is Love” options. Not that judging is virtuous.

No, Knox was one tough nut to crack. On Put Your Face in Gwod, he shares varied testimonies of healing, a vengeful God, salvation, an unknown presence flicking on and off the lights in the radio station, and an unknown entity tampering with the studio door. Yes, friends, some of thee aspects of his message — er, unclear. Obvious pronunciations are often botched, hence the title. Tinny, unrehearsed and sincere, the Reverend’s words were snapped outta the air and preserved. The reason why is unclear.

Folks, let us consider for a moment the attention given to Smithsonian Folkways, Harry Smith’s recordings, William Oldham and other aesthetes lauding simple American music. Amidst this congregation might Rev. Knox dwell, for his preaching time is shared with primary Gospel music renderings that recall, for ease sake, The Shaggs. Knox’s in-studio musicians (and Knox himself) consistently reduced classics like “He Touched Me” and “I’ve Got a Home in That Rock” to a pre-tongues charisma that is as unexplainable as it is free from critique.

Tom Smith and Gerard Klauder have built The Smack Shire, home to Rev. Knox. I’ve known Tom some eight years, having critically supported his personal music making with the late, great To Live and Shave in L.A. Thus, my review is influenced by a set of expectations about Smith’s taste, and general support for his vision thing.

I’m glad Reverend Knox has been heard. To me, the disc is artifact, cantankerous, irresistible.

The Smack Shire: http://www.smackshire.com