Reviews

TJ Stocking Stuffer with Jerry Jeff Walker, George Shingleton, Brit Taylor and Chris Hillman

By Brian Rock

Well the calendar is down to one page, and quite frankly the entire year belongs on Santa’s naughty list. But for those of us who have been able stay nice amidst the craziness, here are some well earned stocking stuffers for you and your music loving friends.

Jerry Jeff Walker: Mr. Bojangles: The Atco/Electra Years


One of 2020’s greatest crimes was taking Jerry Jeff Walker from us. This collection is a reminder of his understated genius that inspired so many others who followed in his footsteps. Not a greatest hits package, this collection contains his five albums (Mr. Bojangles, Five Years Gone, Bein’ Free, Jerry Jeff, and Too Old to Change) that were recorded from 1968 – 1979 on the Atco and Electra labels. As the title indicates, his recordings from MCA (including fan favorites like “L.A. Freeway” and “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”) are not included here. So, while not a comprehensive career retrospective, this collection highlights five complete albums from the height of his creative output. It is a loving look back at a dearly missed friend.

jerryjeff.com  |  fb  |  buy

 

George Shingleton: Out All Nighter


Sophomore effort from musical Mountaineer delivers outlaw country with a decidedly Charlie Daniels influence. Shingleton wrestles his inner demons against a backdrop of electric guitar, bluesy piano and a healthy helping of steel guitar. From chasing life’s pleasures (“Guitars, Girls, Green Grass and Guns” and “Have a Good Time”) to confronting life’s pains (“Misery & Gin” and “Fire or Flame,”) he turns to “Whiskey and Jesus” for answers. In the end, he realizes he’s “A Stone’s Throw Away from Heaven and Hell.” His quest for meaning is intensified by his emotive, whiskey worn voice.

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Brit Taylor: Real Me


Up and coming female Country artist following in the footsteps of Kacey Musgraves releases her debut album. Alternating between sentimental (“Real Me,” “Love Me Back,” “Broken Heart Breaks,” and “Raggedy Heart”) and sassy (“Back In The Fire,” “Wagon,” “Married Again” and “Go Down Swinging,”) Taylor captures both the heart and honky-tonk attitude of Country.

brittaylormusic.com  |  buy

 

Bonus Book Lover’s Stocking Stuffer

TIME BETWEEN by Chris Hillman

In 1955 when Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash recorded at Sun Studios, the line between rock and country was hard to distinguish, if it existed at all. But by 1966 and the release of “Eight Miles High” by the Byrds, the two genres were literally worlds apart. Then two years later in 1968, the Byrds stunned the music world by releasing a Country album. That album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, is considered by many to be the very touchstone of what would become known as Americana. But how did a psychedelic folk-rock band end up doing country? And how did that one album ripple through musical history to influence artists from the Eagles to Emmylou Harris to Marty Stuart? 

Chris Hillman answers those questions as he gives a behind the scenes, front row view of the very birth of Americana. He recounts his own Country and Bluegrass beginnings years before he joined the Byrds. He reveals his own personal role in shaping the careers of Buffalo Springfield and Emmylou Harris. He details the creation of the Flying Burrito Brothers and his involvement in a host of other prototypical Americana bands. He gives insights into the shady business dealings of the music industry. He gives first hand accounts of the toll that fame, drugs, and ego take on a musician’s soul. He also shares intimate stories recalling the insufferable arrogance of David Crosby, the unbearable self-destructiveness of Gram Parsons and even the psychotic imbalance that drove one of his bandmates to murder.

But more than just a history lesson, Hillman shares the story of his personal life and growth. Through all the ups and downs of a career in music, he describes his own spiritual growth and conversion to Christianity. He gives credit to Jesus for seeing him through the hard times and for helping him find meaning in life when even worldwide fame left him unfulfilled. With his new spiritual outlook, he has dedicated himself to using music as “a healing force in a broken world.”  In the end, TIME BETWEEN is both the story of the man, Chris Hillman, and the genre he helped create. And if Hillman is never considered its Elvis; these pages prove that he is certainly the Johnny Appleseed of Americana music.

chrishillman.com  |  fb  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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