Sturgill Simpson: “I wanna hit Goliath in the forehead with a rock”

There’s so many gems in this Sturgill Simpson interview, nuggets of advice for any aspiring musician:

  • “If you pour your heart out and you’re honest with yourself and your human experience and your life, and you put that into music, you don’t have to be talented. … People will connect, and they’ll spread it for you. You don’t need radio. You don’t need some big machine throwing it out there. I’m living proof of that.”
  • “I want people out there that are in the position I was in four years ago to know that there’s hope. I wake up every day and feel like, ‘I wanna fuckin’ crush this game, without playing the game,’ just to prove it can be done. … I wanna hit Goliath in the forehead with a rock.”
  • “It took me this long to get right here. [But] this isn’t all I want, this isn’t all I know my music [can do]. I know that there are a whole lot of people out there that aren’t aware, that will connect with [my] music. … The industry’s not gonna give it to me. And at this point I don’t want them to. I’m going to prove to them I can do it. In 10 years I’ll be the biggest country star on this planet, I guaran-fuckin’-tee it. And there’s nothing they can do to stop that.
  • “I’ve got the Rocky heart, man. I’m gonna do it now out of spite. And I’m gonna go play rock ’n’ roll, too, and take all those fuckin’ people, and I’m going to build a little army. And you’ll come to my show, and it’ll be four hours long, and it’ll be an American music show. It won’t be a country music show, Americana music show or a soul music show. We’re gonna hit it all, we’re gonna touch it all, because I love it all. And I want to love everybody.”
  • “I wouldn’t change my experience for any other fuckin’ road that could have come, man,” he says. “Because I know that this is real, and the people that are with me are with me.”
  • Simpson later recalls being back in Utah, and how his wife — more convinced than he was that he had more than a hobbyist’s skill for singing and songwriting — urged him to leave behind his misery-inducing railroad job. And leave the $80,000 salary that came with it, to return to Nashville and take a real shot at music. “Thank God, she just leveled me one night: ‘You don’t fuckin’ suck at this. … You should share this and maybe try doing something you love with your life before I wake up and I’m stuck with some 40-year-old miserable asshole.’ ”
  • “It’s all about me struggling to get my foot in the door and figuring out how to land. I’ve landed now. I can’t really sit there and complain anymore. Life’s pretty good.  … But you still won’t see me on the fuckin’ CMAs.”
  • “If you ask me what I think about, what I stress about — it’s making the best fucking records that I possibly can. [If] I feel like I just kind of went through the motions and pumped out what I think people were expecting, to appease them and make them happy to sustain my lifestyle, [then] I’m lying to them.”

Reimagining The Music Business via Rethink Music

Seems simple enough, right?

I see two industries with complementary skills:  music companies develop artists and technology companies develop applications.  Combine the two with fair remuneration to creators, deliver to consumers and you have a big win.  I firmly believe that through better alignment of business goals, simplification, and modernized use of common technological tools, we can create a vibrant future.

Source: Reimagining The Music Business — Rethink Music

Best Albums of 2015



I second guess, forgot my name so long ago
I’m headed west, I’ll find it on that golden coast
My heavy head can’t handle much more of this cold
I’m headed west…I’m headed home

I first heard of Allison Weiss on a FEST compilation last year and then on tour with Tim Barry this spring. She has a knack for great hooks and choruses and this album is a perfect mixture of well-crafted songs and thoughtful lyrics that capture that feeling of needing to move on…

Official Site



BEACH SLANG – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us

Go punch the air with things you write.
We are awake with hearts to riot.
We are young and alive.

I booked a show for James Snyder’s previous band Weston at The Middle East in 2008 and was blown away by their show on the Cursive tour this year. Those shows was great, but this is something else: this is late nights and punk rock and DIY sweaty clubs and songs you have to sing along to…it’s feeling young and full of life and knowing that your best days are yet to come.

Official Site



COLISEUM – Anxiety’s Kiss

Give me drums. Give me amplifiers. Give me feedback.
Give me the girl with no friends making noise in the basement.

I’ve followed Ryan Patterson’s musical path for years and Coliseum is a must-see every time they come to town, but they’ve finally made an album that measures up to the strength of their live show. This album has stayed on my playlist all year. No reason fans of Dischord / post-punk wouldn’t love the winding guitar lines, tight rhythms, and smart lyrics.

Official Site



DES ARK – Everything Dies

Will somebody help us please?
Convince us our love is no disease
That we won’t be lonely when we’re alone
From now on what we touch will turn to gold

Like a good book, this is an album you have to spent a little time with. But there’s mystery and beauty in these lyrics and it’s totally worth it, she’s just a great songwriter.

Official Site




When we pitch our tents on the statehouse steps
Now we’re taking it, now we’re taking it back
Now we’re taking it, now we’re taking it back
For the greater good…goddamn Robin Hoods

After a 13-year hiatus (??!!), I’m just glad they’re back (Read Music / Speak Spanish has been one of my favorite albums for a while.) If, like me, you’ve been looking for an album that addresses the angst we’re feeling, this is like the soundtrack to the current state of affairs, but done in a really smart way. It’s like Occupy Rock. And to hear Conor Oberst and the band go off on the injustice that surrounds us is just what music needs more of.

Official Site



I should try and get a life
But I don’t want that 9 to 5


In a year that was kind of weak for punk rock, I kept coming back to this album. The songs are smart and catchy and just make me want to know where the band is headed next.

Official Site



FLORENCE + THE MACHINE – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

For a pop album, the lyrics and dynamics are so smart that I can’t believe this didn’t end up on more best of the year lists.

Official Site



FRANK TURNER – Positive Songs for Negative People

I’m trying to get better because I haven’t been my best
She took a plain black marker, started writing on my chest
She drew a line across the middle of my broken heart,
And said: “Come on now, let’s fix this mess”
We could get better
Because we’re not dead yet

Official Site



HOUNDMOUTH – Little Neon Limelight

Hey little Hollywood, you’re gone but you’re not forgot
You got the cash but your credit’s no good

This is one of the albums I’ve played the most this year. It’s just the right mix of indie Americana, folk rock, and California vibes. Really fun live band too.

Official Site



JASON ISBELL – Something More Than Free

When I get home from workI’ll call up all my friends
And we’ll go bust up something beautiful we’ll have to build again

Beautiful lyrics. Becoming a master of his craft.

Official Site



JOHN MORELAND – High on Tulsa Heat

…Thought I was somebody nobody could love
Try to keep going but the ride won’t steady
Try to get high but your heart’s too heavy
You got one thing on your mind…

I think John Moreland might be one of the best songwriters alive. This album is simply heart breaking at times. Slays me.

Official Site



KACEY MUSGRAVES – Pageant Material

They say it’s now or never and all we’re getting is older.
But before we get to heaven, let’s give ’em hell
We might as well cause we don’t know when we’re done.
Let’s love hard, live fast, die fun

Plenty written about this album this year, but man, does she know how to write a country song.

Official Site




I was born; I’ve been running since
I’ve done things that make no sense
There was a devil in me
I had to set him free
Blue moons and my bold desires
Things burn if you set them on fire
I’ve learned you’ve got to be courageous
In time everything changes

His best album yet.

Official Site




Think of all the hours I spent in constant reflection
Well it gets you down but it don’t make it right
I made it my personal intervention
What a waste of time time time time time

Official Site



And we can hope and pray that we don’t grow up
But it’s not something we choose
And I got nothing left to lose
Yeah you can help me up


Probably my favorite punk album this year from start to finish. Melodies and lyrics that hold up to repeated listens.

Official Site



ROCKY VOTOLATO – Hospital Handshakes

Time to white knuckle this shit.
Make friends with these demons and just get on with it
Nothing’s changed and it never will…

Loved every album he’s put out, but this one is special. After nearly retiring from music, he said it was pushing boundaries to record this album that brought him back. The results are apparent.  His best album to date.

Official Site




Our triumph is sleeping now
My form of devotion
I’ll drag you down in the crowd
I go through the motions

Marissa Paternoster is one of the best guitar players in the world right now. Her guitar lines and the way they intersect with her vocals is so fascinating to me. And the band has become super tight live. I’ve listened to this album around a dozen times this year and each time I find something new.

Official Site


Pack up all your broken bones
All your broken bones
In a broken box, oh yeah


This just a great rock album. Hooks galore.

Official Site



TORRES – Sprinter

Consider myself grateful to have seen Torres play these songs every night on tour earlier this year.  This album is a work of art.

Official Site




Maybe I let on that I was interested
In your brand of lonely
A book you cracked once and never read

Great album from a great songwriter…been listening to this all year with no let down.

Official Site

David Lowery on Millennials and the Punk Rock Generation

Punk Rock Generation: We rebelled by protesting wars, dictatorships, apartheid, government corruption, the military industrial complex, polluting corporations, the christian right,  the draft, nuclear power, the slaughter of sea mammals, and even other punk rockers.  We were at times tear gassed and beaten by police (See Dead Kennedys Wilmington CA).

Millennials:   We rebel by not paying for stuff.  We want bean bag chairs at work.

So what you’re really saying is:  Millennial rebellion is rooted in some pseudo moralistic justification of theft based on which businesses use the discredited web 2.0 “freemium” business models? That’s where you take a stand?

(Personally I don’t buy this crap. I don’t believe there is a “millennial” generation with a different set of values than any previous generation.  Every generation has it’s selfish lazy assholes who are willing to justify any sort of behavior by claiming to speak for their generation.  And every twenty years or so marketers invent a new generation so they can pitch their consultancies, books, analytics and speaking tours.  But since the media seems determined to cram this current fiction down our throats we might as well have some fun with it by following the fiction to it’s logical conclusion.)

Source: Millennials vs the Punk Rock Generation: APM’s Marketplace accidentally illustrates absurdity | The Trichordist

Mike Wiebe of Riverboat Gamblers: “We’re just kind of doing this because we want to do this.”

There’s a really good interview with Mike Wiebe, the singer of one of my favorite bands, Riverboat Gamblers, below:

Some of it is that we all kind of do other stuff and it sort of reinvigorates that band. There’s different fuels for the engine. For that last few years it’s been a little bit nicer now that we took the pressure off ourselves to try and just do this band full-time and try and make an adult living off of it because there’s only a handful, especially rock bands, that can really do that. We kind of took the pressure off that. Some of it is just getting older and enjoying writing more, learning to stuff in the studio on our own. Some of it is getting along and getting more comfortable and taking chances. A lot of it is taking the pressure away from trying to do this every day of the year. Now we just kind of pick and choose the stuff we really wanna do, the stuff we like to do. If were doing a show now, or if we’re doing a record, it’s only ever because we really want to do it — that we enjoy it. It’s never forced. There’s times for any band where there’s a bunch of shows, where it’s, “Gotta pay the bills, gotta pay the rent.” Now we don’t have that pressure so much. It’s nice to get back to the old days. We’re just kind of doing this because we want to do this. We turn down so much stuff now because, no, it doesn’t sound fun. Even if, sometimes, the show is to our financial benefit, we’re just like, “No, I don’t think we’d really enjoy doing that.

Source: Central Track // Gambling Man

Paul Krugman: “I would have expected the Internet to be a leveling force…But, so far, that’s not reflected in the numbers.”

There’s a really interesting interview with economist Paul Krugman in Billboard which includes this quote:

would have expected the Internet to be a leveling force, because you don’t have to be promoted by a major company to find your audience. But, so far, that’s not reflected in the numbers. That may be because the algorithms at companies like Spotify are not democratizing the field as much as I would like. Or it might be that people are all pretty much the same — and they all want to hear Taylor Swift.

The Internet has made music much more democratic for its creators (anyone can make music with a minimal amount of money and effort) and its listeners (you can find just about anything online). So why hasn’t that democracy spread i.e. to concerts and sales? Has music tech (Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, etc.) just codified a winner-take-all system?

Or do most people just want to hear Taylor Swift?

Krugman also raises a point about ticket prices:

If, say, we had to pay $25 for a ticket to see a band at Bowery Ballroom instead of $15, and the artist got paid a bit more, it’s probably true that the great bulk of the audience would still come. So, I shouldn’t knock it. Organizing could make the difference between not surviving and barely surviving.

And while I agree that one quick and easy way for artists to make more money is by raising ticket prices, I’m not sure that’s the best move here. Wouldn’t lowering ticket prices increase access so that more people had a chance to see the bands?

But I agree that organizing is important.

His last point is worth noting as well:

The fact that Canadian musicians have publicly funded health care is not trivial. Policies that help low-earning workers, like health insurance and minimum wages, lead to somewhat better income for [them]…The majority of artists do not make a living, or they barely scrape by.

We have to do a better job of supporting working artists in this country.

Interesting food for thought here. Any thoughts?

Slim Moon: “I thought music was so healing and transformative that I wanted to give it to the world”

Pretty interesting interview with Slim Moon, founder of Kill Rock Stars below:

The thing is, I thought music was so important. I thought music was so healing and transformative that I wanted to give it to the world and giving it to the world was more important to me than moving up the job ladder or making more money or buying a car with my first middle-class income.

The thing is music touches us in a way that is beyond verbal. And to get really mystical, it’s like we’re made — it’s hard to figure out what evolutionary purpose our musicality serves, but we’re clearly made to really respond strongly to music.

Source: From Punk Rock Mogul to Unitarian Minister – OnFaith

Jeff Rowe: “You once had a fire inside of you. One that no one could put out.”

Jeff Rowe wrote a beautiful piece about growing up linked below.

If you ever get a chance to play music for a lot of people, be thankful. While working at the Co-Op I learned about a thing called shelf life. I’m pretty sure that even though this system was devised for food, it applies to everything.

 You really loved punk rock music. It was way more than the raw angst of the sound. When you felt like you had nowhere to go—it gave you shelter. So please, for the love of whatever bullshit you might have been led to believe, do not abandon it.

via Note to Self by Jeff Rowe | Enduring Gloucester

Steve Earle: “I’m basically a folk singer, and that job is musicology to a certain extent”

There’s a pretty interesting interview with Steve Earle linked below.

Mother Jones: Whenever I hear you speak about music, history, or anything, really, I’m always amazed by your encyclopedic recall.

Steve Earle: It’s just my job. I’m basically a folk singer, and that job is musicology to a certain extent. There is an academic quality to it—which is one of the things that people criticize.

via Steve Earle Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop | Mother Jones.



Honored and excited to be hitting the road with Torres for these May dates:

5/4 Saxaphaw, NC – Haw River Ballroom

5/6 Nashville, TN – The Stone Fox

5/8 Dallas, TX – Club Dada

5/9 Austin, TX – The Mohawk 

5/11 Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock Live

5/12 Los Angeles, CA – The Echo

5/13 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill

5/15 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge

5/16 Seattle, WA – Barboza

5/17 Vancouver, BC – Electric Owl

5/20 Minneapolis, MN – 7th St. Entry

5/21 Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle

5/22 Detroit, MI – UFO Factory

5/23 Toronto, ON – The Garrison