Monday, 17 January 2011

"I just didn't want no more whisky"

I challenge any of you to watch this clip from the 1976 country music documentary Heartworn Highways and not feel a twinge of emotion. I can't figure out whether it's the crushingly sad lyrics of Townes Van Zandt's 'Waitin' Around to Die' or the undeniably real and knowing tears of Uncle Seymour Washington aka 'The Walking Blacksmith' (born 1896) sitting in the background of Van Zandt's beaten up old trailer, but it gets me everytime.

Van Zandt's then girlfriend Cindy is the only person in this clip still alive.  Uncle Seymour Washington died a year after this filming and Van Zandt died some 20 years later after a lifelong battle with heroin and alcohol. Even his dog Rex who you can just about hear barking in the background is gone. Thanks to film director James Szalapski we at least still have a snapshot of this young 'outlaw country music' pioneer filmed in the type of surroundings that evoked such cutting songs. It's interesting to note that Van Zandt never had a successful album or single but went on to influence the likes of Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Willie Nelson. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song 'Pancho and Lefty' which hit the Billboard number one  in 1983 but still Van Zandt spent most of his life playing mostly dive bars and living in cheap motels or sleeping on friend's couches.

Heartworn Highways also features performances from Guy Clark, Steve Earle, David Allan Coe, Rodney Crowell, Gamble Rogers, Steve Young, and The Charlie Daniels Band who all also took a more traditional approach to country music instead of following in the tradition of the previous generation.

If you have an interest in country music and/or seeing a bit of 70's Texas/Tennessee I highly recommend picking up a copy of this film.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Monolators - Don't Dance

I'm a big fan of 'Don't Dance' by unsigned LA band The Monolators.  I like it's perkiness and catchy guitar riffs.

I first heard The Monolators on Kickstarter which is an awesome crowdfunding website for creative projects (read more about Kickstarter here).

Having created all their past records out of their own pockets, this time The Monolators were asking fans for a little bit of financial help in reaching the finishing line with their latest album. Buy pre-ordering a copy of their already recorded album Silver Cities/Ruby Split EP they could raise the money to get it mastered and pressed to vinyl.  Seems like a fair deal to me.

To help them reach their $1600 goal the band offered up extras to go along with copies of their new album including hand silk screened album covers and a hand-sewn pillow filled with their very own dog's hair amongst other things.  Their DIY ethic paid off and they eventually hit their target although the dog hair pillow didn't sell.  Can't think why!

Here's an example of a more popular pledge which led to them covering Wire's 'Too Late' in the video below:

Awesome idea, cracking band!  Well done The Monolators!

To read the original Monolators Kickstarter project page click here and for more information about The Monolators click here.


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

LONDONEARS - London Gig Guide Website

I've stumbled across a great little London gig guide website called LONDONEARS and thought I'd share.

In general it covers the types of bands you'd read about on this website. It's got a nice clean layout, no navigation headaches/adverts and you can see all you need to know i.e. location/date/price on the home page.

Other pages on the site include London music Venue locations and Record Stores displayed using Google maps. There's also a Spotify playlist made up of the bands on the upcoming gigs list.

Thanks London Ears, sure beats the hours of copying and pasting I used to do for my weekly upcoming concerts posts.  Now I just need to shake myself out of my mid hibernation mode and push myself out the front door to see some of the shows.


Monday, 3 January 2011

Cloudlight - Eskmo

Here are some photos I took at my parents house in Anglesey, North Wales.  Anglesey is an island which has an effect on the light making the sunsets pretty special.

Eskmo's Cloudlight is a perfect tune for gazing at this spectacular light show.  Here's a clip, prepare to be relaxed.  Happy New Year!

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