This has been floating around for a while, but I only recently encountered it on one of the Ryan Adams Facebook pages — “Folklore,” a long lost and quite lovely song that Ryan recorded in the wee small hours one night at the home of a fan following a late-1990s Whiskeytown show in Virginia. The video includes commentary on how this recording came to be. Though never officially released, “Folklore” was a song Ryan also played live some back then, and it still blows my mind how easily he could just burp out stuff this good during the Whiskeytown era. A pity this one never made it onto a record.
Posts Tagged With: Whiskeytown
If you’ve read “Losering,” you know that I loved Whiskeytown and wanted the rest of the world to love them, too. Despite making some incredible music, however, they just never broke through commercially. By now, a decade and a half after breaking up, Whiskeytown is little more than an obscure footnote to Ryan Adams’ solo career, unjust though that seems.
But someone beyond the old hometown fans must remember, because a company called Contusion has gone to the trouble of recreating the design from one of the tour shirts that Whiskeytown used to sell on the road back in the day. This was the band’s best-selling shirt from 1997-98, according to road manager Thomas O’Keefe. Manufactured by California-based Zazzle Apparel, it can be yours for $27.95 plus shipping and handling (pro-tip: I’m told that if you use code ZSUNSETSALES, the total end price with shipping/handling will be $30.25).
It might be just the thing to wear while listening to DRA 1989, whenever that comes out.
Ryan Adams grew up in a military-base town, so maybe that had something to do with why he wrote one of the best Memorial Day songs there is. So dig “Houses on the Hill,” as performed by Whiskeytown in 1998 on “Austin City Limits” — and on this day, remember the people you should…
Eisenhower sent him to war
He kept her picture in his pocket that was closest to his heart
And when he hit shore
Must have been a target for the gunman…
So the second “Losering” tribute show is coming up, happening April 11 at Deep South The Bar in downtown Raleigh. And as if you needed another excuse to go, it’s going to be a benefit for the Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina. No, we’re not expecting Ryan himself to show up, but it will be a very fine lineup and most likely another sellout. So don’t sleep on getting tickets.
I’m also happy to report that this is not the only Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown tribute show in the works at Deep South. Coming later this summer will be an event paying homage to the definitive Whiskeytown album, Strangers Almanac. The date for this show is not yet settled, but it will probably happen somewhere around the anniversary of the album’s original release date (which was July 29, 1997). Stay tuned.
While I’m at it, there’s also a tribute show inspired by my man Eddie Huffman’s John Prine biography, “In Spite of Himself,” which will be in stores March 15. “A Tribute to John Prine” happens May 17 at Doodad Farm in Greensboro with performers including Chip Robinson, John Howie, Michael Rank, Caleb Caudle, Jon Shain, Danny Gotham and tons more. This, too, is a benefit – for Voices Together, a super-cool non-profit in Durham that serves children and adults with disabilities.
I’m not sure I’ll make it to the May 17 Prine tribute show because I’ll be on a music-writing panel at the Read Local Book Festival in Durham that same day. But I hope to be at one of Eddie’s bookstore readings, mostly likely Durham’s Regulator on March 25. He’ll also be at Scuppernong in Greensboro on April 10. Check his book blog for particulars on that.
Caitlin Cary and Skillet Gilmore used to be Ryan Adams’ bandmates as two-fifths of Whiskeytown’s lineup during the band’s mid-1990s salad days. But nowadays, they’re one of Raleigh’s coolest music-and-arts power couples. They’ll be on the radio together Thursday night, holding forth on Raleigh’s online station Little Raleigh Radio to present “Married to the Music” on the LRR program “Under The Influence.” Based on what they’ve been posting about disagreements over the playlist (Fugazi, y’all?), it’s sure to be hilarious.
“Married to the Music” airs from 9 to 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, and you can listen here. And in further news from their respective musical orbits, the first Tres Chicas show in many moons happens April 24 at the Cary Theatre; while Skillet plays with Patty Hurst Shifter March 29 at Slim’s.
UPDATE (2/19/15) — The playlist, interspersed with much good-natured banter and laughter, went like this:
Tres Chicas, “Desire”
Verbena, “Hey, Come On”
X, “Around My Heart”
Sam Cooke, “Jesus Gave Me Water”
Mountain, “Mississippi Queen”
T.Rex, “Lean Woman Blues”
Van Halen, “Jamie’s Crying”
Dirty Little Heaters, “Mexico Way”
Finger, “Shipwreck Dress”
Goner, “Battleground Park”
Ace Frehley, “New York Groove”
Geraldine Fibbers, “Jolene”
Firehose, “In Memory of Elizabeth Cotton”
Elizabeth Cotton, “Freight Train”
Ray Charles, “What Would I Do Without You”
Neko Case, “Calling Cards”
Pretenders, “2000 Miles”
If you’ve read “Losering,” you might remember Thomas O’Keefe — a man I only half-jokingly described as “Whiskeytown’s long-suffering tour manager.” He probably spent more time alongside them in the trenches than anyone else they ever worked with, and hilarious tales aren’t all he came away with. Thomas also amassed quite a pile of Whiskeytown and Ryan Adams mementos that he’s been hanging onto for the past two decades. And as fate would have it, the time to sell some of them off is now, for the very good cause of raising money to help out the family of his late sister (who passed away suddenly in November, leaving behind three children).
The auction just opened and will run through Jan. 14 on eBay. Included in this lot of items are laminated and sticky passes to various Whiskeytown shows and tours, one of Ryan’s guitar picks and what Thomas calls “the crown jewel” — his notebook with tour notes, guest lists and such from Whiskeytown’s last leg of Strangers Almanac touring. Gotta say, that one makes this whole package mighty tempting.
Anyway, you can scope out details and pictures of it all here.
UPDATE (1/14/2015): Below is the winning bid. Have to say, I’m surprised this didn’t come in higher. My estimated over/under figure was $500, so I figured it would go for at least double that $205 price.
Just in time for the holidays, here’s another super-cool Whiskeytown token that might be even rarer than the old Strangers Almanac whiskey bottles — Whiskeytown Beer, the entire 120-bottle run of which might already be sold out by the time you read this. It’s the work of Chapel Hill’s Starpoint Brewing, brewed by Tim Harper and Chris Baker. And if the name Tim Harper rings a bell, it should.
Long before he ever started brewing beer, Tim was an old studio hand in North Carolina for a couple of decades. Whiskeytown figures prominently on his resume. Tim engineered and Chris Stamey produced the 1996 “Baseball Park Sessions” that got Whiskeytown its deal with Outpost Records, and those two also oversaw the remix of Whiskeytown’s Faithless Street album that was reissued in 1998.
The road to Whiskeytown Beer started a few months back when Baker come up with a beer recipe involving whiskey, wood, chocolate and coffee, and enlisted Harper to brew it at at his brewery. First came the beer, then came the name.
“Nobody could come up with one,” said Tim. “I’d already started naming beers for bands I’ve worked with over the years, like a ’74-’75 Oktoberfest for the Connells. Sooner or later, I’ll do a Let’s Active beer. Stamey-Holsapple, I don’t know how I’ll work that out. But anyway, ‘Whiskeytown’ came to me in a flash one night for this one because of the whiskey barrels. We used Jack Daniels barrels to brew it.”
Before printing up the label, Tim got approval from multiple sources in Whiskeytown’s orbit, including the photographer who took the picture of Ryan (also seen on Whiskeytown’s Wikipedia entry), Caitlin Cary, Skillet Gilmore, lawyer Josh Grier — and yes, Ryan himself.
“What Ryan said was, ‘Tim, that sounds awesome,'” Tim said with a laugh. “And we found the photographer, got his approval, too. Caitlin and Skillet and Josh, even though Josh informed me that Whiskeytown did not have a trademark for food and beverage. So I didn’t even have to ask him, but I thought it’d be rude if I didn’t. Anyway, I asked everybody and they all said yes.”
Once he was done brewing, Tim bottled 10 cases to sell and put the rest into draft kegs. Those 120 bottles are going fast, but fear not: More is on the way.
“I’m working on a new batch,” Tim says. “It should be available in a couple of months, late February or early March.”
The past few days, social media has been awash in tributes to the late great Ian McLagan, the legendary Small Faces keyboardist, who died on Wednesday of complications from a stroke at age 69. Mac was a wonderful all-around chap, dynamite musician and one of the funniest raconteurs of all time (for proof, just check his hilarious and no-holds-barred 2000 memoir “All The Rage: A Riotous Romp Through Rock & Roll History”). I got to interview Mac a few times over the years, including one especially memorable 2009 chat that involved equal amounts of tears and laughter once we got to talking about all the songs he’d written about his late wife Kim.
Pretty much everyone in the roots-rock world who’s played the club circuit over the past few decades has a McLagan anecdote or two, including various members of Whiskeytown. The one from Ryan Adams, which you can listen to here, dates back to when Ryan was bottoming out while making his Love Is Hell album, on which Mac played; and it’s funny, but pretty much a standard excessive-drinking tale. Ryan’s old bandmate Skillet Gilmore has a better story, from his post-Whiskeytown days in Patty Hurst Shifter — in part because he can boast of having been given a nickname by Mac.
Dude, I’m jealous.
Grammy Award nominations are being announced today, rolled out a few at a time on Twitter this morning before the full list is posted at 2 p.m. Eastern Time — and our man Ryan Adams is already up for two. Ryan Adams has been nominated for Best Rock album, while “Gimme Something Good” has been nominated for Best Rock Song.
This marks Ryan’s first multi-nomination year since 2002, when he picked up two nods for 2001’s Gold (Rock Album and Male Rock Vocal) and a third for his contribution to that year’s Hank Williams tribute album Timeless, “Lovesick Blues” (Male Country Vocal). He was also nominated for his 2003 cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” in the category of Solo Rock Vocal Performance; and producer Glyn Johns also picked up a nomination for Ryan’s 2011 Ashes & Fire album, as Best Engineered Non-Classical Album.
But for all that, Ryan has yet to win a Grammy and I’d say he’s not likely to win this go-round, either, given who he’s up against: Black Keys, Jack White, Beck and Paramore for song; and U2, Tom Petty, Black Keys and Beck for album. Black Keys look like early odds-on favorites in both categories.
Ryan Adams might well pick up another nod or two, so I’ll update as events warrant. The Grammys will be presented on Feb. 8.
UPDATE (2 p.m.): The complete nominations list is out and “Gimme Something Good” is also up for Best Rock Performance; which brings him to three for this year. But given that he’s up against a lot of the same acts — Beck, Black Keys and Jack White again, as well as Arctic Monkeys — I’m afraid he’s just as much of a longshot to win this one, too. Based on what he just posted, Ryan seems to agree:
This weekend marks the official start of another holiday shopping season, with all the madness and forced merriment that implies. It’s the season when you’ll see gift guides all over the place, including my contribution to the Sunday News & Observer (music suggestions at the bottom are mine). It would be a fine idea to avoid going anywhere your local shopping mall, and I’m here to help with a gift you can procure without even leaving the house: Another “Losering” holiday special, which was enough of a hit last year that I’m offering it again this year at an even lower price.
From now until January, you can order copies of “Losering” directly from me for $12, which is $4.55 less than amazon’s current physical-copy price. And in my own personal version of “Amazon Prime,” that 12 bucks includes shipping as long as it’s within the U.S. (think of it as “Losering Prime”). A signature is free, of course, if you want it.
So give me a holler at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I shall be glad to hook you up. Makes a great gift, so buy in bulk!
Meanwhile, happy holidays to you and yours in whatever way, shape or form you mark ’em. God bless us, everyone.