The Mavericks – Mono

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As I noted before, The Mavericks have a kind of timeless sound to them.  Their previous album, In Time, evoked a particular moment in history when you listened to the whole thing.  Their latest release, Mono, doesn’t seem to have  quite the same thematic focus, but all the elements that make the band so ageless are […]

Parker McCollum – The Limestone Kid

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One of the things I like about debut albums from singer-songwriters is they frequently have a much richer collection of stories than happens once the pressure mounts to get new material out to fans to keep things fresh.  That’s the case with the first album from Texas artist Parker McCollum.  Entitled The Limestone Kid it’s […]

Wood & Wire – The Coast

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A few years ago some members of a couple of different Austin-based bluegrass bands got together for some late night jamming and out of it came one of my favorite bluegrass albums of 2013, the self-titled Wood & Wire.  The boys are now releasing their follow-up album, The Coast. There’s an occasionally recurring theme that […]

Shawn’s Picks – Best Albums Of 2014

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 1. Parker Millsap – Parker Millsap This album wasn’t Millsap’s first, but nonetheless it was twenty-some years in the making.  Full of stories tied to his roots in Oklahoma, his self-titled second album is a microcosm of Americana.  2. Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy Although it’s hard for me to put my finger on […]

Shawn’s Top 10 Live Sets Of 2014

I’m fortunate enough to live in an area with a tradition of supporting live music.  It’s not Austin or Nashville, but Santa Cruz holds its own when it comes to getting some great Americana tour stops.  I’m also lucky enough to be able to travel to some music festivals every year.  So while I don’t […]

While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years Of Bloodshot Records

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Insurgent country.  Twenty years ago, when Nan Warshaw, Rob Miller, and Eric Babcock founded Bloodshot Records in a spare bedroom to promote the copulation of country and punk music, they chose that name over alternative country or Americana.  While their choice of nomenclature didn’t have the lasting impact of the other two, it’s a microcosm […]

Jonathan Fox Band – 20 Something Runaway

Fox Album Cover

The subtitle for the new Jonathan Fox Band record, 20 Something Runaway, could easily be “A Young Man And His Guitar”.  Although he’s recorded solo efforts before and made a choice to put more emphasis on the band this time, the songs are really about Fox and his guitar. Fortunately Fox got a lot of […]

Billy Strings & Don Julin – Fiddle Tune X

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Fiddle Tune X is for bluegrass fans with attention deficit problems.  The new album from Billy Strings and Don Julin nearly captures an entire bluegrass festival in 59 minutes.  The Michigan based duo, with just a guitar, a mandolin, and their vocals, cover ground from speed-picking, self-written tunes all the way to slow gospel harmonies. […]