If you remember the romance of radio road trips, or if you’re too young for all that and just wish podcasts could introduce you to exciting new music and let you eavesdrop on the kinds of conversations that happen among artists at late-night diners after gigs, Country Fried Rock is for you. If your job is to make your radio station sound interesting, or if you’re just a fan of great music, come on in. You can smell the soul in the air as the door closes behind you and your mouth begins to water. Everything is better when it’s country fried, right?
Dutch Americana songwriter Judy Blank records in Nashville. Blank tours in Europe because of the prohibitive cost of US work visas for musicians. American audiences will have to live off videos and her album, Morning Sun, to enjoy her take on nuanced songwriting. European Americana Songwriter While hip hop prevails among younger audiences in the...
Sally Jaye runs Cafe Rooster Records. The songwriter, musician, and creative entrepreneur crafts her own art. Through her independent music label, she elevates that of others, too. Jaye’s ear for art pushes boundaries. She refuses to stagnate creatively, nor allow others to wallow in complacency, either. The Minks just released their debut LP on Cafe...
Paisley Fields honed their traditional country tunes in the queer country community they created in Brooklyn. Soon after, the bands took their show on the road, with a honky-tonk road trip of queer country artists. In 2019, AmericanaFest featured these groups in the 2nd annual queer roots party. Taking a creative sabbatical to Nashville for...
Nikki Barber of the Minks fuses arty psychedelic vibes with rock and roll. The Minks debut album, Light and Sweet, just launched on Cafe Rooster Records. Barber’s songs reflect growing up, well after coming of age. Originally from the urban Northeast, Barber landed in Nashville following her other creative endeavor, fashion design. Music quickly took...
Midwestern roots rocker, Beth Bombara, recently released Evergreen. After regular touring, Bombara headed to the Rocky Mountains to clear her head. The mountain air let her reset mentally, and when she returned to St. Louis, Bombara wrote the songs for her new album. Bombara and her band honed their communication through a solid tour schedule....
Chad Cochran, the photographer known as Cowtownchad, created his I Didn’t Want to Tell You, Normalizing the Conversation About Mental Health project nearly 5 years ago. With a fully crafted concept, Cowtownchad refined his approach, and recently debuted the first part of this series via the coincidentally-titled No Depression roots music magazine. (The magazine title...
What could get us out of semi-retirement more than a member of R.E.M. playing our favorite venue? Nothing! Grab your tickets to the Fox Theatre Revival, hosted by Kevn Kinney of Drivin N Cryin. The show happens Friday 9/13/19 at the fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Drive-By Truckers, Michelle Malone, and Dodd Ferrelle and...
Don Gallardo‘s latest album, Still Here,
shares his signature sound with fresh vocal phrasing and deep instrumentation. The lush, beautiful album leans more folk-country or indie folk than the current “take” on Americana music. Subtle background vocals and harmony complement Gallardo’s voice. Notable contributors include Erin Rae and Luella. Gallardo shares raw, honest insight into independent music making. He reveals the situation that nearly ended the album mid-recording. While many people gloss over and pretend “everything’s fine,” he clarifies what life is like and how projects derail in a candid conversation.
Country Fried Rock featured Gallardo in our inaugural season
as a radio program. Sadly, that audio disappeared. He generously contributed to our charity compilation for musician suicide prevention. Vol. 1 and 2 continue to raise funds for Nuci’s Space, providing direct services to the music community of Athens, GA. After a decade in Nashville, Don Gallardo’s connections within the songwriters community led him to collaborate with several friends on Still Here.
Robby Hecht, Mando Saenz, Carey Ott, Doug Williams, David Borne’, Luke Amelang, Jesse Cole, and Tim Easton co-wrote songs for Gallardo’s latest record.
These connections with peers whom Gallardo admires allowed him to learn from their special nuances in both writing and performing, as he elaborates in this conversation in the podcast. In the studio, Gallardo also included friends and legends, Dylan Alldredge, Joe Andrews (now with Old Crow Medicine Show), Richard Bailey (banjo, played on hundreds of records, including Steeldrivers, Jim Lauderdale, and the Picking On series), Kyle Everson (dobro, who also played on Gallardo’s album Sweetheart Radio Revolution), Hillel Frankel (sax, who also happens to be a noted attorney in Nashville), Jim Hoke (clarinet, played on almost every record you own), Neilsen Hubbard (mixing, percussion, Mary Gauthier, Amy Speace, Garrison Starr, Amelia White), Micah Hulscher (Margo Price), Clint Maine (also in #CFRalumni Allen Thompson‘s band, Brent Mason (guitar on nearly every country hit since Geo...
Caleb Caudle‘s new album, Crushed Coins, builds dreamy, ethereal landscapes. The newest Country Fried Rock podcast (below) features an in-depth conversation with Caudle about recording in Los Angeles and Nashville and expanding his sound. With familiar players from his previous albums, Caudle found new sounds by keeping the plan flexible. The pedal steel goes ambient rather than country, yet it’s clearly a Caleb Caudle record. Partnering with Cornelius Chapel Records and touring extensively in the US and Europe this year, catch Caleb Caudle live and check out Crushed Coins.
Caudle also happens to love the US National Parks, having visited many of them over his years of touring. Stop by his Instagram to see some of his recent visits. We discuss a few of them in this podcast, as well as his adventure on Cayamo 2018.
Debut Studio Solo Album from JD Wilkes of Legendary Shack Shakers
JD Wilkes, the vibrant front man of the Legendary Shack Shakers and the Dirt Daubers, releases his debut studio solo album, Fire Dream. Bruce Watson of Fat Possum Records produced, calling upon his Mississippi hill country cadre of stellar players, including fellow Country Fried Rock alum, Jimbo Mathus (also of Squirrel Nut Zippers), Matt Patton (Drive-By Truckers), and Dr. Sick. Fire Dream whirls like a sideshow fire dancer, with a circus feel, and a touch of Threepenny Opera. You are not completely sure if this is a beautifully crafted satire or intensely serious. The songs in Fire Dream find influences from gypsy music and klezmer as much as old time.
Hillbilly gypsy, klezmer, and solo tour with band
Wilkes’ upcoming tour begins as a duo with his long-time bass player. On several dates, Wilkes opens for musician and performance artists, Unknown Hinson. By March, the JD Wilkes band tour starts. Members of the Shack Shakers will back Wilkes, but not as a Legendary Shack Shakers tour. This is a solo album, with a live band that knows how to keep up with Wilkes’ antics. Additionally, they are playing acoustic and often around a single mic for much of the show — definitely a departure from a LSS show!
Tom Thumb joins the band
Finally, the fifth member of the band joins JD Wilkes — a Tom Thumb piano. Wilkes bought his Chinoiserie 64 key piano on EBay. The 100-year old instrument tinkles from the side stage. These smaller pianos (versus the standard 88 key instrument) often resided in restaurants and speakeasys because they were easier to mo...
Atlanta’s Home Town Band
Tim Nielsen co-founded Drivin N Cryin with Kevn Kinney in Atlanta in 1985. Drivin N Cryin were hometown heroes before their debut album, Scarred But Smarter, was even released, as R.E.M. had already “made it huge” for a Georgia band by then. Whisper Tames the Lion was their major label release on Island Records, who also re-released SBS. By the time Mystery Road came out, Drivin N Cryin were on the road to major rock band stardom. Catch the almost-rise, and not-exactly fall in the fan-film by Eric von Haessler, with special guests like Jason Isbell and Darius Rucker.
Vinyl Album Re-issue of Mystery Road
In October 2017, the archives imprint of Island Records remastered and re-released Mystery Road, in a gatefold vinyl double album. The re-issue includes several of the Peter Buck demos for that session, previously only available under the counter from local record stores and tape traders. Even the scrapped title track finally makes this version of Mystery Road. Buck and Kinney have been long-time close friends, and Buck was supposed to produce Mystery Road. Due to R.E.M. band obligations and the album-cycle expectations of DNC’s label, the project ended up with a different team behind the board. It’s a treat to finally, officially hear some of these demos!
DNC Officially Welcomes Laur Joamets & Announces New Album Produced by Aaron Lee Tasjan
Country Fried Rock’s family tree continues to pollinate. In our original Kevn Kinney interview (here and second conversation he...
Banditos Visionland, Bloodshot Records
Banditos grew as a band through relentless touring of nearly 250 shows per year. When not on the road, they lived together in a house in Birmingham, Alabama, and later relocated to Nashville. Their second album, Visionland, is named for a defunct theme park in rural Alabama. The namesake fell apart due to political corruption and greed, which Banditos see recurring in our national political landscape. Producer Israel Nash (and Ted Young) kept a calm, creative vibe during their recording. Keeping cool can be challenging with a band of three songwriters and a fully egalitarian structure.
Recently, founding member Steve Pierce returned to Alabama, and the band honed their songwriting methods by trying new ways of communicating. Pierce emailed song ideas from Sweden at the end of the year, and when they gathered again for two weeks, the band worked together on those songs and ideas. These foundations of their third album show Banditos’ growth as songwriters and performers.
Banditos hit the road again this winter, continuing their hectic touring, and looking ahead to where they will record their next album.
Shonna Tucker emerged from self-imposed music exile to play bass for Chris Porter‘s final album, Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You. After she left the Drive-By Truckers, she formed a band and released a great album that we featured on a previous podcast. Later, she questioned whether she was meant to play music, and drove a tractor and fed pigs on a farm. Porter’s call to Tucker to play bass came at the perfect time and was just what she needed to jump back into music with both feet. Despite touring together with their former bands (DBT and Centro-Matic), Tucker and Will Johnson had never played together before as a rhythm section, which was a delightful treat for both. A few months after their whirlwind recording, Porter, John Calvin Abney, and Tucker hit the road for an acoustic solo tour, each playing their own songs. Since then, Tucker has joined Pegi Young’s band, The Survivors (along with legends Spooner Oldham, Phil Jones, and Kelvin Holly), and is also available for live and session work when not on the road with Young.
Friendships run deep when you are a musician. Friends with whom you can pick up right where you left off, after months on the road, become family. Chris Porter forged deep, fast friendships with people in every town he toured, but especially with his tight-knit chosen family of fellow “lifers.” Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson of The Mastersons were family for Porter. The Masterson’s sound permeates his prior album, This Red Mountain. They dropped into the studio one night, just off the plane from tour, to add their sparkle to Don’t Go Baby, It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You. The Masterson’s latest release, Transient Lullaby, was completed but not yet released when he passed away unexpectedly. They dedicated the album to Porter, and often perform the song they co-wrote, “You Got the Last Laugh,” in his memory.
Will Johnson (Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel) produced Chris Porter‘s final album, Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You, as well as his previous record, This Red Mountain. Johnson produced both albums. Britton Beisenherz engineered and mixed them at Ramble Creek Studio in Austin, Texas. The bands differed in each project, as did Porter’s vision for each album. On Don’t Go Baby, Porter pictured a rollicking rock record. He achieved that with multi-instrumentalist John Calvin Abney (solo, John Moreland), bassist Shonna Tucker (solo, Pegi Young and the Survivors, Drive-By Truckers), and convincing Will Johnson to play drums, yielding a fun rhythm section with Tucker.
Andrea Juarez never planned to release an album. The hair stylist and makeup artist made it happen to honor her fiance, Chris Porter, who passed away on tour October 2016, when their van was rear-ended on the interstate. Mitchell Vandenburg also was killed, and Adam Nurre miraculously survived the horrific wreck. Porter mostly finished tracking his album, Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You. He recorded it in marathon sessions with Will Johnson (Centro-Matic) , and Shonna Tucker (Pegi Young, Drive By Truckers), and John Calvin Abney (Solo, John Moreland). Bonnie Whitmore hosted a memorial concert to raise the rest of the funds to finish the record, which will be released on the anniversary.
Sally Jaye launched Cafe Rooster Records with a legendary guerrilla party at AmericanaFest 2016 in Nashville, TN. The cooperative record label began with friend and co-founder, Darrin Bradbury’s album, Elmwood Park. They quickly added a vinyl release of Jaye’s band, Ladies Gun Club, a vinyl re-issue of her solo album, Amarillo, and a digital release of fellow co-founder Brian Wright’s album, The Sneak Ups. Within the first year, Cafe Rooster released their first two albums “outside” the family, Jon Latham’s acclaimed Lifers and a collaborative record, Strange Freedom: Songs of Love and Protest, to benefit Planned Parenthood. Keeping with the DIY ethos of the artists, the label promotes limited edition, hand-made art, rather than typical merch. With a revived touring schedule of her own (playing in Ojai, CA, and Los Angeles this week), Jaye may be the busiest record label executive in the business.