Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Concert Review: Hillgrass Bluebilly Records Launch Party, Austin, Texas

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On Saturday night the Hole in the Wall in Austin, TX was transformed into “Dirtyfoot” headquarters for fans, bands and extended family of Hillgrass Bluebilly Records for their Launch Party. Folks from as far as Canada, Seattle, Minnesota, and Boston flew in exclusively for the event and helped pack the walls of the Hole to near capacity, while over 150 people from around the world tuned in through SCM Live to share the experience.

7 bands and 5 hours of music meant both Hole in the Wall’s stages were pressed into service. Darren Hoff & The Hard Times got things stirring with their hard edged country on the smaller stage, while some started biting nails wondering if the second band The Boomswagglers were going to show for their second slot. As was explained later, “We forgot to put gas in the truck,” which they reportedly tried to remedy by pulling off a radiator hose and trying to siphon gas out of a motorcycle before calling someone to pick them up. Now if that ain’t country. . .
The Boomswagglers get the award for most authentic band of the night, in a night packed with authenticity. As they bled out their country/bluesy mix about bad women and hard times the shot glasses and beer jars stacked up on an amplifier like a mocking model of Austin’s ever-increasing skyline of posh condo buildings. Whatever the high rise condo represents, The Boomswagglers represent the polar opposite. Spencer Cornett is taller than a beanpole and skinnier than Shaggy on crack, while Lawson Benett is as tall is he is round. Together they are like dirty country’s Laurel and Hardy, with a larger-than-life, almost rock-star air around them even though they are the nicest, most down-to-earth “just blew in from the corn field” country boys you’ll ever meet.

The Boomswagglers were the one band that night I was most curious to see because I had no idea what to expect. Their song “Run You Down” that was featured on the Outlaw Radio Compilation has been one of the most popular songs in underground country, but was this just a one hit wonder? What I found was they are above-average pickers with solid and original songwriting ability that deserve whatever praise their small but loyal fans give them. Keep an eye out for their first Hillgrass Bluebilly release coming soon.

Next was Roger Wallace, who on such a stacked bill might have been overlooked by some, but was one of the standouts of the night. Roger is pure country, but with some soul and boogie to him as well. He also boasts one of the best bands to be found, with Jim Stringer on lead guitar, and the amazing Lisa Pankratz on drums. Lisa has also played with Dale Watson, Wayne Hancock, and Billy Joe Shaver to name a few. Like so many of the bands that performed, Roger deserves his own separate review.

Tom VandenAvond and his “Say Hey Kids” band afforded the most memorable moment of the night, when he finished his set on the main stage with the song “Brick by Brick,” and was joined on stage by the headliners Possessed by Paul James on fiddle and Larry & His Flask, as well as Brian and Molly Salvi in one of those family-feeling moments that can’t be rehearsed or staged.

The best flat out musician from the night, on a night filled with so many great ones, might be Jim Chilson who flew down with the rest of the Ten Foot Polecats from Boston exclusively for the event. The seemingly effortless trance-inducing guitar rhythms with ridiculous fingerwork put the blues in this Bluebilly event, and was accompanied by balls out singing from Jay Scheffler and expert drumming. Who needs bass?

Now we have come to the point where I am supposed to somehow explain with human language what it is like to see Larry & His Flask live, but no words, no videos do it justice. Larry & His Flask are sheer madness. They are the essence, the pinnacle of on-stage energy. I talk often about one man bands, and how they must put out the energy of a full band. Then there is Hillstomp, which is a two man band, with both men putting out the energy of an entire band, doubling the equation. Well play the analogy out, and Larry & His Flask are like a six man band. No, this isn’t stating the obvious because there’s six people in the band, what I aim to say is they put out the energy of six bands combined.

You might think that their punk approach to an eclectic combination of roots is not for everyone. Videos just make it seem like theater. You have to appreciate that NOTHING in music trumps Larry & His Flask in the amount of energy.

The night was capped by Possessed by Paul James on the small stage, which immediately after The Flask finished, was crowded around so thick even us 6+ footers had to settle for hearing and not seeing. Nothing can trump the energy of The Flask, but it was perfected in mood by Possessed’s heartfelt soul. At that point all these folks from all around the country, from different walks of life and varying musical slantings, young and old, male and female, were all family. It was no longer about launch parties or Austin, or any of that; it was about the fellowship that a dizzying night of music can create for the soul when it is capped so perfectly by true, heartfelt expression.

A few tears were shed as all joined in Possessed’s “We Welcome You Home” at the very end of the night, and the mood in the room was such that you might anticipate all participants would disintegrate into the cosmos in a moment of infinite bliss and communion with the almighty. However reality met you cold in the face the next day, but nonetheless the participants of the Hillgrass Bluebilly Launch Party, in person and online, will never be the same after their experience, and the joy and understanding will remain inside their souls till death and beyond.

Two guns up

Featured Artist: Ten Foot Polecats

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It’s better to own up and move on. Setting the record straight so you can concentrate on how to fess up, Ten Foot Polecats stand firm on ‘I Get Blamed For Everything I Do’. They stake a claim and grind into gear. The three pieces create a tribal ripple early on with “Chicken Headed Man” and pound heart on a sleeve into submission with “So Good to Me”. Big beats hint at big wins with “Scratch Ticket” but it’s those late night confessions (“I’m Going Crazy”, “Bar Hoppin’”, “Tears on My Windshield”) where these guys step up and lay it out. Ten Foot Polecats keep it greasy with their roots in North Mississippi Hill Country bending punk blues into musical form.

The Boston-based band found a home in Austin’s Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. The label name and the sound here are kindred spirits. When the blues woke up and plugged in, Ten Foot Polecats captured the sound and funneled through their amps. As a label, Hillgrass Bluebilly promotes rebirth of passion, conviction and instrumentation, an equality of sound and skill that isn’t trying to sell you anything and just bringing truth in music as it goes back to its roots. I can see why Ten Foot Polecats get that blame thing out of the way early. It’s easy to own this album, guilty.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hillgrass Bluebilly Records Launch Party - Listen Worldwide - This Saturday in Austin, TX

1st off, you can take part in the big Hillgrass Bluebilly Records Launch Party THIS Saturday and listen LIVE wherever you log on to the internet on planet earth.

click Saturday 6pm central time U.S.A. & listen on in!

cant wait to hear the reviews for this show YOU WRITERS & BLOGGERS....

This Saturday in Austin, TX at the Hole in the Wall will mark 5.5 years for Hillgrass Bluebilly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Album Review: "Gettin' Down On It" Left Lane Cruiser

Album Review: "Gettin' Down On It" 2010 Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
Artist: Left Lane Cruiser
Original Link: http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/2010/11/clearing_out_the_mailroom_mond_4.php
Blog/Paper: The Dallas Observer
Writer: Kelly Dearmore

Left Lane Cruiser (Fort Wayne, IN)
Gettin' Down On It (Hillgrass Bluebilly)

Demonic grunts and Vaseline-thick licks are ready to greet when this re-released disc opens with the startling "Big Mama." In this age where The Black Keys are legitimate festival headliners, this is a two-man blues-rock band that doesn't seem to be concerned with much else than frightening those who dare listen. The mix of delta blues, surging punk and the greasy drippings from a well-worn frying pan manages to produce a pace that ebbs at times, yet always seems to be flowing profusely, regardless. In what is obviously a trend in the mailroom this week, the titles contained in this collection are beyond telling. Among them? "That Ass," "Pork N' Beans," and "Shotgun Wedding." As with so many two-man acts, the sound can devolve into a one-dimensional state after a few tracks, but the incendiary slide guitar that scorches many of the songs keeps things just dangerous enough, so as to continually engage rather than bore. I made it: all the way through track No. 11, "Heart and Soul."

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Album Review: "Gettin' Down On It" Left Lane Cruiser

REVIEW: "Gettin' Down On It" 2010 Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
BAND: Left Lane Cruiser
ORIGINAL LINK: http://www.examiner.com/indie-music-in-philadelphia/re-release-of-left-lane-cruiser-s-debut-gettin-down-on-it-review
BY: James G. Carlson
More Links to this Review:
Tin Shack Music Blog: http://tinshackmusic.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/hillgrass-bluebilly-re-releases-left-lane-cruisers-debut-gettin-down-on-it/
No Depression Roots Community: http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/hillgrass-bluebilly-rereleases

Re-release of Left Lane Cruiser's debut "Gettin' Down On It"

When it comes to the vast and crazy wilderness that is today’s underground music scene, there occasionally comes along a band or singer/songwriter that turns out to be an entirely different breed of animal than we are accustomed to. Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Left Lane Cruiser (often stylized as LLC) are just such a band, with a big sound that can floor you as sure as a full-on punch at a bare-knuckle boxing match.

Speaking of Left Lane Cruiser’s sound, it’s definitely a raw, gritty, heavy and aggressive take on traditional country and blues, venturing into down n’ dirty roots rock and hell-raising swamp-punk territory. Fredrick “Joe” Evans IV plays bottleneck slide on electric guitar with distorted amplification, while delivering hoarse, frayed wire vocals like one who puffs two packs a day and drinks a bottle of hooch for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As Evans does his thing, Brenn “Sausage Paw” Beck mans the drum kit and junk percussion, pounding his way through the songs like a wild man.

Over the years, the two-piece band formula has proved a difficult one to get right for most artists that attempt it. There have been exceptions to that rule, however, such as Two Gallants, The Black Keys, Restavrant, Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival, and of course Left Lane Cruiser. Each of those outfits has mastered the two-man band endeavor in their own way. And though I count myself among the fans of all four, Left Lane Cruiser has commanded more of my attention than the others lately, as I just can’t get enough of the recent re-release of their debut album “Gettin' Down On It” from Hillgrass Bluebilly Records.

Now, Left Lane Cruiser weren’t always part of Hillgrass Bluebilly’s Dirty Foot Family. Before the re-release of “Gettin' Down On It” they were releasing albums exclusively on Alive Naturalsound Records beside such notable labelmates as Two Gallants (before they transferred over to Saddle Creek Records, anyway), The Turpentine Brothers, Trainwreck Riders, Black Diamond Heavies, and T-Model Ford. Of course, the Hillgrass Bluebilly roster is nothing to sneeze at either, with such artists as Possessed by Paul James, Ten Foot Polecats, and Tom VandenAvond. Hopefully LLC continues to work with both labels, since they are hands down two of the best of today's independent record circuit.

Having been molding and shaping their sound for the better part of seven years now, and with two albums under their belts on Alive Naturalsound Records – 2008’s “Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table” and 2009’s “All You Can Eat!”– their debut “Gettin' Down On It” remains a favorite of both press and fans alike. With great songs like “Big Mamma,” “Mountain Top,” “Truck Song,” and one of my personal favorites “Pork N’ Beans,” how could it not? And now, re-released four years later, it seems to have not only renewed the appreciation of the original’s fans but also captured the interest of a whole new audience of roots music enthusiasts and record collectors.
If you like your country and blues on the greasier, raunchier side, with the mighty movement of a freight train, the muddy depths of the Mississippi River, and the heavy goodness of a six-pack of cheap beer sloshing around in your guts, Left Lane Cruiser is probably the band for you. And the re-release of their first album “Gettin' Down On It” is no doubt the place to start.