TJ Summer Mix with Leftover Salmon, Charlie Marie, Zach Schmidt, Stephen Flatt and Ashleigh Flynn

By Brian Rock

Summer is finally here and, after more than a year of lockdowns, things are finally opening up! That means road trips – and road trips mean summer playlists! Here are a few recommendations of the hottest new Americana releases to jump start your ultimate road trip playlists. Wherever you’re heading, may you have safe travels and awesome tunes!


Charlie Marie: Ramble On

Combining Nikki Lane and Rosanne Cash vocals (with just a bit of extra tremolo,) Charlie Marie is Country’s latest fiery female sensation. Turning broken hearts into Country Gold, Marie sings defiant songs of goodbye and good riddance. “Bad Seed,” “Cowboys & Indians,” “Ramble on Man,” “Kiss My Boots,” and “Heard It Through the Red Wine,” are all Honky-Tonk classics sung with sass and style.  The latter of which is a clever take on “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” where she quips, “All I needed to know was in a bottle of merlot, when you took me by the hand and called me Mary Anne.” Marie is backed by a top-notch band that accentuates her expressive voice with dramatic emotion and a heavy dose of steel guitar.

Summer Standout Single: “40 Miles from Memphis”

Funky Hammond organ and steel guitar combine Soul and Country to capture the sound of Dusty Springfield’s seminal “Dusty In Memphis” album in a musical love letter to Tennessee’s other music city.  |  fb  |  buy


Zach SchmidtRaise A Banner

Schmidt combines folk rock and country to create a Bruce Springsteen meets Joe Ely soundscape. He incorporates elements of Tom Petty jangle Rock in, “Go My Way,” and “I Can’t Dance.” He captures Drew Holcomb’s vibrant Folk feel in, “You’re Still On My Mind,” and “Lost All Company.” He even taps into George Jones weepy country on, “I Look Different Through Your Eyes,” and “Back Around.” He rounds out his sound with smatterings of blues on, “Raise A Banner,” and “Burn Out Easy.”

Summer Standout Single: “Foregone Conclusion”

High octane honky-tonk from beginning to end, this song fires on all cylinders. The uptempo music conceals nihilistic lyrics about human mortality, but the music is so irresistible, you hardly notice.   |   fb   |   buy


Stephen Flatt: Cumberland Bones

Great-nephew of legendary Lester Flatt, Stephen Flatt impresses in his own right with his solo debut. Unapologetically playing straight country music, he weaves stories of addiction, revenge, and heartbreak against a backdrop of classic country styles. From the honky-tonk of “You Would Like to Hide,” to the outlaw country of “El Camino,” to the Bluegrass of “White County Shine,” to the country blues of “Brother,” and even a touch of southern rock on “Talking Like the Devil,” Flatt delivers classic country themes with grit and grace. A compelling storyteller with a dramatic voice, Flatt is sharp in his debut.

Summer Standout Single: “Hold You Tonight”

A rollicking love song with touches of Bakersfield and plenty of slide guitar charm, Flatt captures the joy of anticipation on returning home to a lover after being too long apart.   |   fb  |   buy


Leftover Salmon: Brand New Good Old Days

Before Trampled by Turtles and Yonder Mountain String Band, there was Leftover Salmon. After thirty years of playing their eclectic brand of bluegrass, the band returns with their eleventh album; sounding as innovative as ever. Always finding new styles and instrumentations to incorporate, the band pushes the boundaries with a “GrungeGrass” interpretation of Soundgarden’s hit, “Black Hole Sun.” They add playful, barroom piano to “Brand New Good Old Days.” A funky, electric bass takes center stage on “Category Stomp.” “Flyin’ at Night” adds touches of soulful Hammond organ to the musical stew. They even throw in some spacey synthesizer on their cover of Conway Twitty’s “Boogie Grass Band.” Of course, they still know how to play it straight as illustrated on, “Left Unsung,” “Red Fox Run,” and “We’ll Get By.” For a bunch of leftover salmon, they are still incredibly fresh.

Summer Standout Single: “We’ll Get By”

A banjo driven hymn of optimism, the band kicks into high gear to offer words of inspiration. Singing, “Two feet on the ground, your head up in the sky; the world is spinning ‘round. Don’t let it pass you by…somehow we’ll get by,” the band encourages us to keep looking forward.   |   fb  |   buy


Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters: Live From The Blue Moon

One of Covid’s many crimes, was stealing live music from us. This live album, recorded six months before lockdown, is a pleasant reminder of what we miss and a happy harbinger of what is finally returning to us. The all-female band combines country, rock and zydeco with style and swagger that’s equal parts Melissa Etheridge and Joan Jett. They rock out on “How the West Was Won,” “Cold Black Line,” “You will Remember My Name,” and “This Love.” They get their twang on in “The Sound of Bells,” “Deep River Hollow,” “Tiger by the Tail,” and the Polka tinged, “I’ll Fly Away.” Their sound is peppy and powerful and tailor made for outdoor music festivals.  

Summer Standout Single: “How The West Was Won”

A rockin’ girl power song that packs a punch. The song bounces on manic accordion strains and rock guitar riffs as Ashleigh sings the praises of cowgirl icon, Calamity Jane.  |   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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