Loving the concert poster art of Jason Munn, who works under the name The Small Stakes.
Also just discovered his work is in the collection at SFMoMA!
This well-rounded piece on The Bold Italic about the best places in San Francisco to listen to classic country music got me in so many ways.
Then, the wonderful intro essay (below) by Sasha Darling about coming around to classic country music later in life after an early education by her dad totally sucked me in. I too developed a love of the music I grew up listening to with my dad– though it was more along the lines of The Rolling Stones, early soul, and anything with a good beat to dance to– and Darling put it more eloquently than I ever could have.
Finally, I love reading a good city guide (or really reviews of anything, also inherited from my dad) in the same illogical way that I love reading a cookbook cover to cover. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to read such things as leisure reading, when they’re meant for specific research. You can’t take advantage of the acquired knowledge at that moment. But still, just immersing yourself in the details takes you on a little escape as your imagination creates a preview of the thing you’re going to do/cook/go to/read/etc. Point being, I loved reading the descriptions of all these country joints that I now definitely want to check out in SF!
Below, the essay by Darling, and click over to the article to read about the spots she highlights.
“My dad bought me my first turntable when I was in third grade, and searching for records was our bonding activity. We spent all weekend hitting up record dealers and flea markets in search of rare scores. We agreed on almost everything when it came to music – except that I refused to listen to country.
Country was for rednecks and I was becoming a little new wave, punk rock girl. I couldn’t understand how my incredibly cool father could listen to such crap. He insisted that when I grew up I would appreciate country music. I firmly stated, never!
Of course as I grew older, I ate my immature words. In my late teens I got involved in the budding rockabilly scene. This new world of ex-punks turned hillbilly opened my mind to honky-tonk. As the years went on, I found myself putting on George Jones and Patsy Cline more often than the Descendents or The Smiths.
I was shocked at how connected I felt to the music. As much as I tried as a child to block out the lonesome and rebellious crooners, I knew the words to every country standard by adulthood. I still love all types of music, but these days I’m definitely a little bit more country and a little less rock and roll.
In this rock- and electronic-heavy city, it can be hard to find some good honky-tonks to hang out at, but with a little country know-how, you can find that hillbilly spirit within these urban confines.”
This one’s for my dad – if there’s a country singer, or rather duo, he loves, it’s Waylon and Willie, and particularly this song. He bought me an album of their duets before a cross country road trip, and I’ll forever associate the album with that trip. We even made a detour to go through Luckenbach, TX, just so we could listen to this song there.
I haven’t done a “listening to” update in a really long time, I’m not exactly sure why that is, but today I felt like I definitely needed share this gem of a band: Middle Brother. Middle Brother is made up of the three frontmen of indie-folk favorites Delta Spirit, Deer Tick, and Dawes– Matthew Vasquez, John McCauley, and Taylor Goldsmith, respectively– who trade off roles throughout the album.
I’d been in a phase of more electronic indie stuff for a while, and in need of something different, I discovered these guys, who immediately tapped into my deep-seated love of rock tinged with folk (what can I say, I’m from the South) and anything resembling Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, or Neil Young (all of whom they proclaim their love for). In addition to loving their sound, their lyrics are some of the best I’ve heard in a while– there are currently more than a couple clever lines rolling around in my head.
I loved this bit from a very well-written piece on NPR about them:
“There’s a singer-songwriter intimacy in many of the songs on Middle Brother, as though band members John McCauley, Taylor Goldsmith and Matthew Vasquez were sharing secrets and anecdotes and decided to set them to music. All three men belong to bands — Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit — that trade on folk, blues and country traditions; even their up-tempo songs are less rave-up rockers than hand-clapping foot-stompers.
This being a group composed of thoughtful guys with guitars, there’s a certain amount of bad behavior to be chronicled — bouts of drunkenness, hangovers, one-night stands and a general air of doomstruck melancholy. Sometimes it’s maudlin, but more often, as in Matthew Vasquez’s song “Theater,” it can describe dreams with a precision that matches the sharp snap of the drum beat.”
I’ve posted these live videos here since videos were the only embed-able material I could find, but the quality isn’t that great and their sound is pretty different live vs. on the album (more acoustic, softer, and refined on the album), so I’d recommend listening to the streaming clips here. I’m pretty sure you’ll want to download it… and then download the albums of all of their respective bands!
PS- SF people, they are playing here on Sunday! Everyone else, check their tour dates, they’re out and about after SXSW!