Mar 262021

Self-described “Country Music Skeptic and Idiot” Mr Moderator is sold! This morning, he declared, to no one in particular, that Jimmie Dale Gilmore‘s Don’t Look for a Heartache the “greatest album the genre has ever produced.”

“Hands-down,” Mr Moderator said, when asked to expand on this statement, “it’s one of the only country albums that I’ve ever played twice in one day.”

Apr 062016

As good as it gets?

As good as it gets?

My 18-year-old son was telling me last week about his recent mission to spend entire days listening to the complete catalogs of artists who have interested him. One day, through Spotify, he listened to every Creedence Clearwater Revival album in order. He dedicated another day to Lynyrd Skynyrd. His growing interest in rootsy music has led him to investigate a genre I’ve never come to terms with: Country music.

“You know what’s the best driving station on the radio?” he asked me, to kick off this conversation.


“92.5, the Country station.”

“Really?” I tried to hide my concern over imagining my usually hip, somewhat snobbish son as a budding Bro-Country guy, clutching a Solo cup in the parking lot.

“Yeah,” he said, “the thing I’m realizing about Country music is that although not much of it is great, not much of it sucks.”

This is the kind of insight that has led me to lay the plans for one day turning over the “family business” of rock snobbery to my boys!

What musical wisdom has come from the mouths of your babes in recent months?


Stone Country

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Sep 212015

Mick Jagger helps his old pal Don Henley sing a Tift Merritt song “Bramble Roaw” on his new Cass County album out this week. My first Stones record was Some Girls, and before I knew any of the backstory of the Stones and their dalliance with Gram Parsons, I was surprised by the stone country sound of “Far Away Eyes.” Now I always got the joke, but damn, I always enjoyed the song, and I’m sure it was one of the reasons I became more open to listening to my mom’s Johnny Cash records, and later fell into the rathole of alt-country for about 10 years. (Aside — a guy who worked at country station in Belle Fouche, SD, told me he almost got fired for playing “Eyes” in the early ’80s — he spun it once and only once.)

My question is — what songs would you put on a Stones, Jagger, Keef country compilation? Are there any country-tinged songs on solo records that are not well known for this compilation? In addition, I’ll offer up Mick’s “Evening Gown” above. Thanks for your ideas!

Aug 102013

Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

Summer vacations aren’t over just yet and there is nothing quite like traveling the open road while listening to country, roots-rock, Americana, No Depression, or whatever term you choose. While I know that full on country or country rock(ugh) scares a lot of people in the Hall, I’m hoping we can find common ground with tonight’s set even though all of the songs aren’t really country to begin with. Enjoy!

Bend In The Road

[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your iTunes by clicking here. The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player.]

If The River Can Bend

Aug 072013

I read that Sheryl Crow is taking a page out of the old time rock ‘n roll playbook and shifting to country music full time — complete with visits to country radio stations, right out of Coal Miner’s Daughter. It seems to be in the grand tradition of Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, and others to move down the dial to country after the rock hits have dried up. This summer “Hootie” grabbed an Old Crow Medicine Show song “Wagon Wheel” — a hit that is hard to avoid — so good for him.

Does anyone remember Chris Hillman’s Desert Rose Band, who a had big country hit in the late ’80s with a John Hiatt song via Nick Lowe, “She Don’t Love Nobody”?I recall the country sheen was a little hard for me to take at the time. but I do like Chris’ nod to the Burritos with the Nudie suit.

Who’s your favorite rocker turned country — or would-be country star?

Jun 052013



The following song by Kelly Hogan, “Strayed,” always seems to come up on my iPod at just the right moment while I’m running it on shuffle during a long car ride. It sounds especially good late at night, while I’m driving the family through Connecticut en route to Maine.

Kelly Hogan, “Strayed”

The boys are asleep. They don’t have the patience for this slow-burning, atmospheric song. My wife is usually half asleep, keep herself just conscious enough to confirm which way I’m supposed to go at a certain fork in the journey. The first few times she heard “Strayed” she stirred more than usual at 3:00 am and asked, “Who’s this?”

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