Van Life: Wild Ponies

Whenever I think of life on the road as a touring musician I inevitably think of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and those three goodie-laden coaches named after their occupants. Inside, no doubt, the fridges were full to capacity with beers and wine, the bunks were laden with goose feathered quilts, wafts of pheasant and cranberries escaping from the cooking galley with every conceivable need taken care of.  Sadly, for every ELP there are a million road warriors out there on the highways and byways living an altogether different van life. Continue reading “Van Life: Wild Ponies”

Pick of the Political Pops: Lynyrd Skynyrd “Sweet Home Alabama”

The vast majority of the statuary here at Americana-Uk Towers is dedicated to our Glorious Leader/Editor in Chief and we can’t see that history being revised anytime soon. Even the small shrine in the furthest corner of The Bunker dedicated to him features a small maquette of his likeness so we are well used to seeing his fairsome and fearsome visage around the place. Our interest was piqued then when we heard that certain statues in certain places (the southern USA for example) were to be removed since they no longer fit a modern view of history. We are planning a referendum on the matter of our own public art and will let you know the outcome when our Glorious Leader says we can. Meantime we have been mulling on the musical history of “The South” and were reminded of this little ditty in which the protagonists seemingly support a segregationist governor and don’t give a hoot about the anti-democratic wrong doings of a right wing president (in a place called Watergate). Perhaps fortunately the meaning of the song has also been subject to some ‘revision’ of its own (according to research) and we can now hopefully, politically correctly, tap our toes to what is a nice little tune. And of course laugh along with well known prankster Mr. N. Young.

Billboard: Americana in the UK is a thing

Oh well, this will wreck our Google search result listings – what possessed them to use the terms “americana” and “UK” in the same headline?  Billboard has an article today entitled “U.K. Americana Hits America, and Vice Versa, In New Roots Exchange” which is an incredibly interestingyou read about our symbiotic relationship with the genre over in the States, selling snow to the Eskimos as it were.  They report: “The idea of U.K. artists playing Americana, not just at home but in the U.S. itself, might once have seemed hopelessly ambitious. But as the genre, and the reception of it, has expanded into an ever-broader church, British acts are not only nudging doors ajar, but the two countries are enjoying something of a cultural Americana exchange — to the benefit of roots musicians on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading “Billboard: Americana in the UK is a thing”

Pick of the Political Pops: Compay Segundo “Guantanamera”

Down in the bunker we are, of course, shielded form the worst effects of inclement weather, plagues of locust and snotty folk spreading their horrible germs. This is how we filter our world. That said we like to keep up with current affairs and given that the architect of our bunker was a Gaudi devotee we are feeling the situation in the as yet/possibly to be announced People’s Republic of Catalonia. “Let’s have something Spanish this week” one wag commented on his way to our fulsomely stocked bar. Ignoring the fact that in Barcelona they speak Catalan and not Spanish we, of one accord, suggest this. We are also ignoring the fact that it’s actually a Cuban tune rather than Spanish . That’s two fails. And, in a spectacular fail all of its own it was originally written as a love song not the nationalist/revolutionary anthem that it has become. Lucky for us the bunker impenetrable to all dissent and we just do as we please. The best thing is that this has been an ‘easy listening’ hit in, amongst other places, the USA and was once memorably covered by the great protest singer Pete Seeger. Here then is an earworm for you that you’re not going to get rid of anytime soon:

Pick Of The Political Pops – Merle Haggard “Oke From Muskogee”

From down here in the AUK Bunker it often seems as if the Left (like the devil?) has all the best tunes. We have identified this as a decent little ditty from a small ‘c’ conservative direction, however. There are a number of ‘ironic’ covers of this tune but the original has the ability to make us smile and we particularly like the line “And white lightning’s still the biggest thrill of all” proving that even in deep redneck country they understand the power of two litres of cheap cider…

AUK album premiere: Mark Olson “Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun” – Listen

We’re delighted to be able to premiere the new album today from americana legend Mark Olson. “Spokeswoman of The Bright Sun” comes out on 1st September 2017 (that’s tomorrow, date fans) and is the follow up to the critically acclaimed “Good-bye Lizelle” which we said nice things about 3 years back. Recorded during the summer of last year (remember how simple life felt then? Actually we had just had Brexit so maybe not…), Mark explains “I think that the secret to making a unique album [is] keeping the momentum of the writing and part learning of the song as you move towards the final takes”. Continue reading “AUK album premiere: Mark Olson “Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun” – Listen”

RS: “Country music stars are reluctant to speak up about Charlottesville”

There’s a great piece in RS Country at the moment about mainstream country music’s deafening silence since the events in Charlottesville a couple of weeks back which has echoes of a piece they wrote earlier in the year about its silence on Trump. Winona Dimeo-Ediger writes: “On August 12th, a group of white nationalists carrying torches marched in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting, “Jews will not replace us” and “white lives matter.” Continue reading “RS: “Country music stars are reluctant to speak up about Charlottesville””

RS Country look back at Old 97’s classic

A nice little piece up in RS Country this morning about an album which still sounds great twenty (!) years on. You can listen to the whole thing below. “We felt some kinship to the alt-rock scene of the early Nineties, but we wanted to do it on our own terms. We wanted to be able to love Hank Williams and love punk rock.” While this sentiment from Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller isn’t a strange concept today, it was still a relatively underground idea when he and his bandmates unleashed their raw-and-rowdy major label debut Too Far to Care 20 years ago this month ­– and helped birth a whole new subgenre in the process. Continue reading “RS Country look back at Old 97’s classic”

Vote today for a future based on hope, not fear

Forgive me dear reader for the break in service for 5 minutes. Today is undoubtedly the most important election of my lifetime.  While you come here for your daily dose of americana and not to be lectured on which way you’re going to vote, I’ve written before that americana comes from a rich history of standing up for the underdog, and that its icons both present and past – Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger – have a pedigree of solidarity, community and resistance. Politics is about life, and music can’t bypass it without appearing irrelevant. Continue reading “Vote today for a future based on hope, not fear”

Why country music sings about drugs

Great article in RS Country today on a subject dear to my heart (since my other “head” is being a researcher in this field – not so much field work mind you) on a new study which finds that country lyrics contain more references to weed, cocaine and meth than rock or rap.  They report: “Drug references in music could be heard as far back as the 1930s. Jazz musicians, bluegrass artists and swing bands were among the first to sing about drug use, though the mentions were mostly casual. It wouldn’t be until the 1960s when pop stars, folksters and rock bands would talk about pot, cocaine, heroin, speed and other mind-altering substances on a regular basis.  Continue reading “Why country music sings about drugs”