It’s no secret, Broken Headphones loves Henry Wagons and his band Wagons (two consecutive posts might hint at that…). The guy beyond hilarious and his band dishes out some of the best outlaw country/rock I’ve heard in a long time.
I just hammered out a review of the latest Wagons release the other day for your reading pleasure and decided I might as well touch base with Henry through the magical forces of email. Currently Henry and his band are touring North America in support of their new release titled Rumble, Shake and Tumble. Here’s what he had to say:
Henry, what brings you back to the states?
My global brainwashing mission is in full effect! I eventually want to take over the world with one of those swirly patterns on a TV transmission. Playing music with my band is the first step.
Were you able to bring your band along this time?
I have brought 3 stinky dudes with me.
How has the tour been so far?
It’s been great. Pretty much Seattle and Canada so far. I’m still bracing myself for the rest. I want to try as many weird burgers as I can.
I understand you flew to Toronto Monday night in a small plane with old men. How did that go?
It was a little bumpy and a little grumpy (old men).
How’s the tour been this round? Did that stupid hurricane affect you at all?
The only hurricane style event we have faced was the powerful massage shower in our Toronto hotel room.
What can someone expect to see at a Wagons show?
A lot of pent up energy expressed from many hours in the van and in airport customs queues. All the bodily fluids that are retained within our bodies from a aeroplane pressurised cabin come out on stage in the form of blood sweat and tears.
Most importantly, are you rocking the headband?
You know it.
Wagons are actually playing the Beachland Tavern this Sunday! Tickets are only $8. As I have mentioned previously in posts, Wagons are already big deal in Australia. 8 bucks…do it!
Wagons ‘Rumble, Shake and Tumble’ USA/Canada Tour Sep 03 | Bumbershoot Festival – Seattle
Sep 04 | Railway Club – Vancouver
Sep 06 | Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto
Sep 07 | Zaphod Beeblebrox – Ottawa
Sep 08 | Rockwood Hall – NYC
Sep 09 | Union Hall – NYC
Sep 10 | World Café Live – Philadelphia
Sep 11 | Beachland Tavern – Cleveland
Sep 13 | Hide Out – Chicago
Sep 14 | The Basement – Nashville
Sep 15 | Hangar 9 – Carbondale
Sep 16 | Off Broadway – St Louis
Sep 17 | Hi-Tone – Memphis
Sep 19 | At the Earl – Atlanta
Sep 21 | Hotel Café – LA
Henry Wagons and I met by chance one day last September. He was an opening act for Those Darlins that night and I remember the tall Aussie armed with a headband and acoustic guitar impressed me beyond belief. His set filled up the tavern that night with outlaw folk/country jams making me an instant fan. After his set I learned that Henry Wagons hailed from Melbourne, Australia, and actually left his band, Wagons, back home as it was too tough to fly everyone to the states. Even though they were a pretty big deal back home, Henry Wagons took it upon himself to spread their music to the states. I left that night with a copy of a Wagons CD titled Rise and Fall of Goodtown, a sweet towel and new love for an Australian band.
I tried my hardest to see Wagons play at SXSW in Austin, TX, this past spring, but thanks to a botched flight, I did not get there in time. Rumor has it, Wagons turned a bunch of heads with a memorable set in which they played new material off a new album. Needless to say, I was bummed out that I missed my chance to see Wagons and hear some of the upcoming tunes.
Luckily for me and many other fans, Wagons dropped their fourth all new release titled Rumble, Shake and Turn on Thirty Tigers toward the end of the summer. The album is country, it’s rock, it’s even a little cabaret and sure as hell is full of outlaw tendencies. When listening to Wagons, you get a sense you have heard the music before not just from your father’s collection, but also from your grandfathers collection you might have been exposed to at a young age. The band takes generations of music and blends it perfectly into their own style guaranteed to turn some heads.
Opening track “Downlow” is very Tom Petty sounding from the get go with lyrics that almost could emulate Wagons’ very own wit and charm. “I Blew It”, a quite addicting track to listen to, immediately followed full of outlaw country styles as well as some Elvis-sounding growling within. The music video as seen below is pretty damn amazing as well. “Moon Into The Sun” was about as country twang as any track on the album gets with a more sensitive Wagons declaring “my life has been a fucking mess without you.”. Wagons’ singing on this track easily brought the listener back to the days of Twitty, Williams, Jennings, Haggard, and even a starving young Cash and seemingly did not sound like he was even trying to.
The ever catchy tribute to Willie Nelson, properly titled “Willie Nelson”, deserved multiple plays on account of how fun it was to listen to. Comparing Nelson to other greats, I loved how Henry Wagons shifted his accent (“Willie Nel-sun!”) in a clear comical attempt to mess with the listener yet pay a homage to a country great. “He likes some salt and pepper with his evening meal” is repeated over and over by Wagons about his favorite musician in the country music business and as much of a tribute the song was, it was just hilarious to listen to. I would love to know what Nelson’s reaction was about this track.
“Love Is Burning” was an unexpected track on the album that was more rock and roll than anything. “My Daydreams” was a thoughtful track spanning around romance that easily has the ability to swoon. Wagons’ had no problem recalling the outlaw greats throughout the track as the band backs him up. “Save Me” was a simple upbeat tune with easy sing-a-long qualities, more of that country twang and even a little blues thrown in. “Follow The Leader” moved along with almost a train track rhythm only to jump rail and turn psychedelic for a moment. i did not know what to think about this song. It definitely strayed away from the rest. “Marylou” ended the album and at the very end, Wagons closes out the album with a sigh making me wonder how personal that track really was to Wagons.
Rumble, Shake and Tumble was a great album from start to finish full of American genres with a modest Australian twist. Wagons and company pull off yet another impressive release that more people need to check out. Wagons has quite the fan base back home and I am pretty sure before long, we Americans will be picking up on their talent.
Wagons is actually back on a US tour in support of the new release and will be stopping at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland this Sunday Sept. 11th. Tickets are only $8 and if you fathom yourself a folk/country/rock fan, you would be doing yourself a favor seeing them live. Not only is the music good live, but Wagons himself is a pretty candid guy. Don’t be lame. Get up there Sunday night.
Punk rock icons/godfathers Social Distortion are back with an all new album entitled Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes. After seven long years, Mike Ness and crew have released a self-produced album on Epitaph Records. This is the first time the band has taken production into their own hands in their 30+ year career.
Before I go any further, I have to confess that I have been a life long fan of Social D. Sure, I am sure there are a lot of us out there who can say that, it is almost hard not to admit that. I was introduced to Social D at a young age thanks to some cool kids and was hooked ever since. They were one of the bands that helped me identify the genre of music that I liked most – punk rock, however; they were the band that also got me into country and rockabilly. Over the years they were part of the soundtrack to my life and still are to this day. They will be one of those bands that stay with me for the rest of my existence.
So with that said and done, let’s talk about Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes. This is the band’s seventh release in their career and the first on the independent label Epitaph Records. The major difference in this release over all the others is that Mike Ness produced the album himself giving him the opportunity to do things his way for once.
Opening track “Road Zombie” was a two-minute instrumental piece of awesomeness. It was almost like a teaser to any listener who has been waiting seven years for Ness and crew.
A less gritty-sounding Ness sang on the following track entitled “California (Hustle and Flow)”. With female backup vocals that could have fit on any Springsteen track in the past, the track was more rock n roll sounding than I was expecting and honestly, I was impressed. The smooth and easy going track still had that Social D vibe I was hoping for including a certain ball and chain reference. Full of soul and a certain twangy feel made this song even more impressive to listen to.
“Gimmie The Sweet And Lowdown” brought back that sound I was looking for previously. With lyrics that begged to be memorized and a guitar riff that won’t be leaving my mind anytime soon. The gangster “Machine Gun Blues” was a stand-out track thanks to the old school feel with Ness just tearing up his Les Paul on this track towards the end.
“Bakersfield” really paid helm to the country and blues that Ness grew up on with a clear mention of Buck Owens. Whether or not the song was based upon a true story, the ending carried a certain hope of return. The track has been played live for a couple of years now by Ness during his solo tours and by Social D with good reason – it is amazing.
“Writing On The Wall” hinted heavily of Lynyrd Skynyrd (seriously, I was waiting for “Freebird” to interrupt the song), but once I got listening to it I could not help but identify with the heartfelt lyrics like “they say if you love someone you gotta let them go. and if they return to you that’s surely how you’ll know.”
“Can’t Take It With You” was another rock n roll track guaranteed to make you move. As if Ness’ singing was not good enough, throw in some more lively female vocals, barroom piano playing, and just some bad ass guitar jamming to make for one fun song.
Closing up the album was “Still Alive”, a track that almost defined the life of Mike Ness and all that is Social D. This was without a doubt my favorite track off the album. I loved the lyric “and I’m here to make my stand with a guitar in my hand.” Poetic justice at its finest.
Upon my first listen of Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes, I think I was a little too focused on looking for the Social D sound that I had become so accustomed to. I had concerns on how clean the album sounded and not once thought for a moment that maybe this is what Ness wanted to do now that he had full control. After a couple of listens though my opinion changed. Not only did I appreciate the collaboration of references throughout the rock n roll album, but I also dug the lyrics Ness put together; lyrics I intend to grow up with further in my life. The album is solid from start to finish and I doubt there will be many Social D fans out there who will disagree.
A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of seeing Austin’s very own Dale Watson & His Lone Stars at the Beachland Tavern with my pal Dale, not Watson. It was a cold January Tuesday night but once inside the tavern full of real country music lovers one would think they were in Texas with the atmosphere and fun attitude spread about during the performance. Cowboy hats were optional and I only saw a couple during the evening to be quite honest.
A brief history how Dale Watson’s music and I came to be before I even go on… I was working at the record store I once managed with my pal Dale, not Watson. Dale picked up a CD one day with a guy on the cover who had a couple tattoos and almost looked rockabilly mixed with some Chris Isaak appeal (here is a link to the album we had in our hands). I honestly thought once the CD began we were going to listen to some rock act that never made it but the moment Dale Watson’s voice came across the speakers both our mouths dropped open.
It was country music, not that crappy pop country music, but honest and wholesome country with some outlaw attitude added. His voice was baritone and ever so comforting. I was instantly reminded of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and even Waylon Jennings while listening to the CD. Dale was more astounded than I and he became a huge fan in moments time. Sometimes picking up a random CD out of a pile of what looks like nothing just to check out the sound is worth it.
I later on would learn that Dale Watson was more of an underground DIY type of artist who preferred to do things his way even if it meant he would not gain immediate popularity. He is friends with Jackass star Johnny Knoxville, and has released 18 albums (live & studio) over the past 15 years. Many of the songs are about being on the road doing his thing, truck stops, and life. Not all is cheerful though as some songs are written around the love of his life who he lost to a car accident in 2000 as well as how Dale Watson coped through the ordeal. His downward spiral of abuse and depression from the tragedy luckily ended in time for the artist to continue going through with his passion.
Dale Watson has come through town a couple of times now over the years but for whatever reason I missed out. Dale, not Watson, though made it to a prior show and had nothing but good things to say. I always was curious to see him live so the moment I found out Dale Watson was coming back to Cleveland I owed it to myself to make an appearance and thanks to Dale, not Watson, I was able to set aside time to ensure I would be there. There was no way in hell I was going to miss this opportunity as seeing someone as charismatic as Dale Watson.
Upon walking into the tavern that night I was shocked to see that I was actually one of the younger fans in house but I did not let that bother me at all. Before I knew it some older gentleman sitting at the bar was telling me stories about his tattoos and a Bic pen (don’t ask). He was beyond entertaining and I think was more than half in the bag before the show even started. I never did catch his name. A couple other folk there I actually knew so prior to the show we hung out and talked Watson.
With no opening act Dale Watson & His Lone Stars took the tiny stage and delivered an amazing show. Having been the first time I witnessed them live I made sure to plant my feet right next to the stage and held my ground until the last song was played. I also was equipped with my trusty camera so I may have taken a photo or two.
Having the fans provide the set list during the evening proved Dale Watson and crew were all about putting on the best show possible. A couple of times Watson would acknowledge the shouted out song and tell the fans he was going to save that for later but for the most part when some one shouted out a track the band played it. Playing tracks new and old I got a better taste of his material that evening than I ever imagined. Still learning his catalog I was most excited to hear “Country My Ass” and “Exit 109”.
After the show my pal Dale, not Watson, and I struck up a conversation with the drummer of the band as well as their road manager. Both gents were very cool people and after a little time passed we learned that Watson likes to drive the tour bus himself amongst other things. We even all shared a shot and toasted to my birthday that was happening in just a couple hours.
The shot you ask? A Jagerbomb… Yeah I know, not too country.
Soon they introduced us to Dale Watson who was just hanging out at the bar drinking a beer and chatting with a couple other fans. Needless to say Dale Watson was just as cool as the other members. He kindly chatted to the both of us and Dale, not Watson, told Dale Watson that he “felt like a little kid meeting Hanna Montana.” Laughs were shared about but I know how Dale, not Watson, felt. Even if Dale Watson is not at the top of the charts we both see him as a musical icon and to meet him and talk to him was a big deal. I could not have asked for a better evening of music that night and thanks to Dale Watson & His Lone Stars I also have some memories to accompany my most recent birthday.
Here’s a little snippet of the show thanks to Dale, not Watson, who filmed it with one of my cameras:
Have you found yourself interested in Dale Watson? Here are a couple of my recommendations:
I have been pretty good lately about not talking up a storm about Those Darlins but today they released a video for “Red Light Love” and I could not help myself but to share it:
The video was actually directed and illustrated by the band’s very own Jessi Darlin with additional art work by Nikki Darlin and their fearless drummer Sheriff Lin.
The girls announced that they will be getting around this Fall for another string of tour dates. I honestly think I have broken a record seeing these girls live in one year. I am excited as hell for their return too. Just look at all my previous babble about Those Darlins and myself being a junkie for them.
Embarking on another round of tours I think it is safe to say these ladies are getting the credit they deserve. Those Darlins will be playing shows on their own and with special guests throughout the tour including a Halloween show with The Meat Puppets! I wish I could go to that but I am not that big of a Those Darlins junkie…well maybe I am.
Check them out in a town near you or else.
22 – Chattanooga, TN @ JJ’s Bohemia #
26 – Knoxville, TN @ Tennessee Shines – Bijou Theatre
28 – Louisville – Ear X-Tacy – in-store – 6pm
29 – Urbana, IL @ University of Illinois Courtyard Café
8 Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop Bar
9 Cleveland, OH @ Case Western Reserve University
10 – Newport, KY – Southgate House
11 – Circleville, OH @ Tootles
12 – Louisville, KY @ Original Highland Festival
17 – Nashville, TN – Americana Music Festival @ Mercy Lounge
18 & 19 – Bristol, VA @ Bristol Roots & Reunion Festival
26 – Cumberland, TN @ Bluegrass Underground ++
28 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel *
9/29 – Atlanta, GA @ The Loft *
1 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Chelsea’s Café *
2 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
3 – Oxford, MS @ Proud Larry’s
8 – Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern
9 – Norman, OK @ The Opolis
10 – Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall
12 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
14 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
16 – Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
18 – Eugene, OR @ Sam Bonds Garage +
20 – San Francisco @ The Rickshaw Stop
22 – LA @ Silverlake Lounge
23 – LA @ Hotel Cafe
25 – Phoenix, AZ @ Modified Arts
27 – Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
29 – Dallas, TX @ The Cavern
30 – Austin, TX @ The Continental Club
31 – Houston, TX @ The Rudyard **
* W/ Dr. Dog
+ W/Digital Leather
** W/The Meat Puppets (Halloween!)
++ w/Charlie Louvin
For more information about the band or the tour visit their website or their MySpace page.