Monday, September 16, 2019

HEY! LISTEN: The Miners -- "Miller's Cave"

"Miller's Cave" is The Miners' first release since their 2012 album Miner’s Rebellion -- and in my opinion, it's long overdue. This is The Miners version of the Jack Clement-penned classic, which was recorded previously by the likes of Gram Parsons, Hank Snow, Bobby Bare, Charlie Pried and Doug Sahm. The Miners give this murder ballad a wistful air -- one that makes sense when you get to the song's twist ending. It's a nuanced interpretation of a troubling trope, one that shows just how badly the Miners' thoughtful alt-country is needed seven years later.


The Miners core lineup of Keith Marlowe (vocals, guitars), Gregg Hiestand (bass) and Vaughn Shinkus (drums, backing vocals) recorded the track and Jim Callan added pedal steel guitar. "Miller's Cave" was produced, engineered and mixed by Marlowe at his own Match-up Zone Studio and mastered by Joe Lambert (Mt. Joy, Sharon Van Etten, Hiss Golden Messenger, etc.).

Fortunately, The Miners are hard at work on their follow-up to Miners Rebellion, with 10 new songs. It'll be out on vinyl and digital in early 2020, and you'll certainly be hearing more about it here.



The Miners -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Some Highlights From the Brandi Carlile Concert

I went to the Brandi Carlile show last night and all I got were some wonderful memories and a few videos! After uploading this beast, though, it seems like I'm rate-limited or something because Twitter won't let me post any more.

It's Mavis Staples and Brandi Carlile singing the Pops Staple duet, "Friendship," together.



Mavis's opening set was wonderful. We missed the first song or two, unfortunately, so we could beat the line and throw our money at both of the incredible powerhouses who sold out Madison Square Garden last night. It seemed like Staples focused her set on her most recent album, We Get By. That's a bit of a shame, because literally none of the people sitting around us knew who she was and sniggered their way through her entire set. If she had closed with some of the Staples Singers classics it probably would've shut their stupid faces.

I was so haunted by this I had an anxiety dream about going to a Mavis Staples museum and not knowing if anyone else was really appreciating the significance -- especially since it was on a maple sugar farm in New Hampshire. (????) Is that a metaphor for popular American music? Maybe!

My sister and I first saw her live playing the Gentilly stage at Jazz Fest, a side-stage for the most-respected local New Orleans acts and up-and-coming national acts. We got to watch her standing alongside Paul Sanchez (who wrote the lyric this blog is named for) and we were all amazed. I got to see her again  last summer popping into basically everyone's set at Newport Folk Fest. But when the house lights shone on last-night's sold-out crowd throughout the night, I kept gasping in awe.

Carlile cried her way through singing "The Story," and I did, too. This honor couldn't have been bestowed on a more deserving person. I believe everyone I write about on here should be playing to a crowd of 14,000 people. I'm so happy I got to witness that dream come true for one of them.

For me, the highlight of the night was Carlile bringing on Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby to play through a few Highwomen songs: "The Highwomen," "Redesigning Women," and "IF She Ever Leaves Me." (Maren Morris was playing LA last night.) Both Carlile and I were pleasantly surprised to see that most of the crowd already knew the words!

Truly, the apex of the whole evening was Mavis singing Yola's "Freedom Riders" verse on the Highwomen. I almost lost it. You all know what the rest of the song sounds like; here's Mavis singing her verse (and my sister and I freaking out.)


As a personal highlight, Carlile acknowledged that "If She Ever Leaves Me" is one of the first queer country songs. (Seemed kinda pointed but okay.) She shared an op-ed about the album from The Boot on her Instagram stories, so there's a small chance she read my article on queer country history, since it's linked there. I'm sure that acknowledgement comes from a bunch of personal conversations with her community (and mentors, as I discussed on the podcast.) But I'm going to pretend I moved the needle a tiny bit here. For what it's worth, I wore my Lavender Country t-shirt to the show.


I think it's fairer to say that I'm more of a fan of her in general than her music. In general, when she's at her best, her songs are head and shoulders above everyone else: she deserved to win that Grammy. But a lot of her back catalog is just fine, and that showed when she played the deeper cuts at last night's show. However, the concert reminded me about what Brandi Carlile has meant to be since she popped up on my Pandora feed almost 15 years ago: that even I, a newly out, scared college freshman could have a voice in popular music. Even in country music. That one day I'll get married and have kids, something that seemed in doubt back then. And that, thanks to the labor and sacrifices, of countless activists, a lesbian can play country music to a sold-out crowd to the biggest stage in the world in the heart of New York City.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Adobe and Teardrops Podcast -- Episode 79

Every new beginning is some other beginning’s end. I have Highwomen feelings and I wrote an article in The Boot!
Also, a little pop country!

  1. The Highwomen -- “My Only Child” (The Highwomen)
  2. Ma’aM -- “Sweet” (Can’t Talk, Being Chased.)
  3. Joseph Gallant -- “Better Buzz” (Single)
  4. Jessi McNeal -- “Out of Reach” (The Driveway)
  5. Charlotte Pike -- “Hurt Like This” (Single)
  6. Adam Ezra Group -- “The Toast” (Better Than Bootleg Vol. 3)
  7. Tacocat -- “Crystal Ball” (This Mess Is a Place)
  8. Jimbo Pap -- “Submission (Nice Pants)” (It Can Always Get Worse)
  9. The Hold Steady -- “Entitlement Crew” (Thrashing Thru the Passion)
  10. Blue Vines -- “Lanch Party” (Fever Dreamy) 

Rachel wrote a comic! Check it out here! Send us music via SubmitHub. Send me money via Ko-fi or Patreon. Contact Von via linktr.ee/vonreviews and say hi to Rachel on Twitter @adobeteardrops

Thursday, September 12, 2019

PREMIERE: Kristopher James -- "Too Soon, Too Late"

"We all have different relationships with love, no matter what kind of relationship we have," writes crooner Kristopher James. "Be it platonic, familial, romantic - they ebb and flow and if we're not being mindful - if we're too into it or oblivious, love could come "too soon" and we're not really ready for it, or it can come 'too late' - like it's in our rear view and we're stuck with only questions."

That lack of preparation is not how James rolls, though. Nor is it evident in "Too Soon, Too Late." The song marks something of a return for James, who blew me away with his last release in 2016, Find Me. After taking time to recover from surgery, James has returned to singing in excellent form -- and once you listen to "Too Soon, Too Late," you'll understand what I relief that is.


"Too Soon, Too Late" is a perfect primer for anyone who has yet to hear the swooning shifts and transcendent swells in James's voice. If his delivery wasn't so sincere, you'd think he was showboating. Fortunately, James has the graciousness to share his gift with the rest of us -- and the humility to get down to our level. Comfortably nestled between folk and soul, James's music reminds us how liberating vulnerability can be.



Kristopher James -- Official, Facebook

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

BONUS EPISODE: Queer Country Music History

Hello! I recently wrote an article on The Boot about the history of queer country music! There’s so much more than I wrote about -- and even many more artists than I’m including on this episode.
If you read my blog or listen to this podcast, you know I’m not great at tact. So I’ll also include the spicier takes that didn’t make the cut since it’s an article -- not an op-ed!
I cannot stress enough that these opinions are all my own.
For more background on the modern queer country community, see this article from Wide Open Country.


  1. Lavender Country -- “Lavender Country” (Lavender Country)
  2. k.d. lang and the Reclines -- “Big-Boned Gal” (Absolute Torch and Twang)
  3. The Indigo Girls -- “The Rise of the Black Messiah” (One Lost Day)
  4. Melissa Etheridge -- “Come To My Window” (Yes I Am)
  5. Tracy Chapman -- “Fast Car” (Tracy Chapman)
  6. Karen and the Sorrows -- “Guaranteed Broken Heart” (Guaranteed Broken Heart)
  7. My Gay Banjo -- “Muscle For Money” 
  8. Sam Gleaves -- “Hot Pink House Trailer” (Fink, Marxer, & Gleaves)
  9. Justin Hiltner -- “I’m Not in Love With You” (Watch It Burn w. Jon Weisberger) 
  10. Paisley Fields -- “Periwinkle” (Glitter & Sawdust)
  11. Amythyst Kiah -- “Wildebeest” (Amythyst Kiah And Her Chest of Glass)
  12. Brandon Stansell -- “Hometown” (Single)
  13. Orville Peck -- “Hope to Die” (Pony)
  14. Sarah Shook -- “What It Takes” (Years)
  15. Mariel Buckley -- “I Wonder” (Driving in the Dark)
  16. Loamlands -- “Some Boy You Don’t Need” (Lez Dance)
  17. The Highwomen -- “If She Ever Leaves Me” (The Highwomen)

Rachel wrote a comic! Check it out here! Send us music via SubmitHub. Send us money via Ko-fi or Patreon. Contact Von via linktr.ee/vonreviews and find Rachel on her socials via https://linktr.ee/rachel.cholst


Friday, September 6, 2019

HEY! LISTEN: Man of the Minch -- "Undertow"

By the time you read this, my article on the history queer country music should be up on The Boot! I could probably write a whole book on the subject (Nadine Hubbs has already broached the topic) but I limited the piece to nine artists.

If you've been reading this blog or following the podcast for more than two weeks, you know the scene is much, much bigger than that. And it crosses continents. Glasglow's Man of the Minch has been hard at work crafting beautiful pop country (but not, like, radio pop country) since his debut EP in 2017. Today, he's showing us what's in store.


"Undertow" uses country conventions to great effect, using a prominent fiddle to illustrate the tension between the narrator and his partner. The faded vocals -- borrowed from contemporary pop -- seek to blunt the pain, but the acoustic instrumentation shows us how the narrator truly feels. And there's a lot going on lyrically here -- the narrator is conscious of his mistake, but...is he really going to learn from it? He's skeptical of even being given another chance -- sounds like this has been going on for a while and, as he admits, maybe it's time to pick it up and move on.



Also of note is "Better Off Alone," more of a dance song than "Undertow." "Better Off Alone" is a kiss-off song -- one where the narrator is trying to line up a few more kisses. I'd like to think this narrator is the object of the other's affections. Like most modern dance music, if you crank the volume high enough you won't notice the pain embedded in the lyrics. (Seriously, have you been listening to some of these kids? More emo than emo.) 



Man of the Minch -- Facebook

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 78

Labor Day plans, hospital visits, and a whole lot of Big Moods!

  1. Wonderly Road -- “Knock Knockin’” (Single)
  2. Lisa Bastoni -- “Never Gone to You” (How We Want to Live)
  3. Panther Hollow -- “Letter” (Single)
  4. Aloud -- “Live TV” (Single)
  5. Isabelle Stillman -- “Nashville” (Middle Sister)
  6. Charles Mingus -- “Moanin” (Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus)
  7. Meanlife -- “Left Nothin’ Behind” (Bad Vibes in the Womb)
  8. Kathleen Edwards -- “Hockey Skates” (Failer)
  9. Eilen Jewell -- “Miles to Go” (Gypsy)

Rachel wrote a comic! Check it out here! Send us music via SubmitHub. Send us money via Ko-fi or Patreon. Contact Von via linktr.ee/vonreviews and say hi to Rachel on Twitter @adobeteardrops