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by Tony Peyser

November, 2006

Butch Hancock's War and Peace

The Flatlanders hail from Texas and recorded their first album in 1972. It was an impassioned lesson in (to make up a word) underproduction and captured the heart of country music without the usual Nashville hokum. I gather they played maybe a dozen gigs for less than a year before the band folded up like that proverbial cheap card table. That debut album was heard by very few folks and was presumed lost. It didn't have a real release until 1990 when it fittingly came out with the title More A Legend Than A Band. The Flatlanders didn't get around to their sophomore effort, Now and Again, until 2002. A third release, Wheels Of Fortune, came out a mere two years later, which was followed that same year by a live CD of a 1972 performance in front of a small club audience. All of the sudden, the long MIA Flatlanders were inching towards being, dare I say, overexposed.

by Tony Peyser

October, 2006

New Heathens' Heathens Like Me

Apart from some obligatory political content, the other thing that most albums I've reviewed here have in common is they're mostly by singer-songwriters. This is primarily because their songs are generally more lyric-driven than ones by bands. Well, I'm breaking with tradition here with the debut release by some New York fellows called New Heathens. Yeah, there are some tracks with a social conscience. But the bottom line is this puppy really rocks.

Monday, 02 October 2006 03:47

Congressman Foley Overreacts to Liberal Media Smear!

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I’ve thought over the predicament that former Florida Rep. Mark Foley finds himself in and I can’t help but wonder if he wasn’t a bit hasty with his resignation, which was based on a cheap liberal smear. I mean, what did he do that his constituents would find so terrible?

Thursday, 21 September 2006 04:51

Frameshop: Mothering 'Macaca'

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Using One's Own Mother For Political Cover

Following the Virginia Senate debate between the Democratic challenger for Senate, Jim Webb, and George Allen, we have all been led to believe that the subject of Allen's mother was something that was foisted upon him in a question about his Jewishness.

Thursday, 21 September 2006 02:54

Dan Bern's "Breathe" - A Blue State Jukebox Review

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by Tony Peyser

If the words alone don't work in most writing, the end result won't either. But there are a few exceptions.

I learned this years ago when I read a play Sam Shepard wrote with Joseph Chaiken called "Savage/Love & Tongues." I could not get into it at all. But when I saw the filmed version of the play, I got it and loved it. The words only came to life when you heard how they were supposed to be read.

One thing you can say -- the current debate on immigration is at last focusing attention on the pervasive violations of our labor laws in sweatshops and other parts of the low-wage economy. But instead of getting national legislation to shut down sweatshops around the country, we are getting policies to punish some of the victims -- while leaving the underground economy that breeds undocumented immigration largely in place.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006 08:01

Eminently Quotable

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"Evil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it."
-- Shakti Gawain, teacher and author (1948-)

by Tony Peyser

Will Kimbrough's Americanitis

Will Kimbrough is a piece of work.

The Mobile-born, longtime Nashville resident is an especially gifted guitarist who's played with cream of the crop folks like Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark and Joe Ely. He produces, too, including East Nashville Skyline by Todd Snider, who's as close as we may get to the new John Prine.

Friday, 11 August 2006 01:23

Frameshop: The War On Toothpaste

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Duck and CoverToday, when I turned on the television, I heard Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, explain that a terror plot had been foiled in Britain -- which would have involved the use of liquid explosives carried onto planes. In response, Chertoff passed a new regulation banning certain liquid and gel items in airplane carry-on luggage on all U.S. flights. The video shown repeatedly in the background featured a woman at airport security tossing a tube of toothpaste into a garbage can.

by Tony Peyser

About three years ago, I heard an album I really liked by a Virginia-based band called The Circuit Riders. It felt like they were summoning some old Americana ghosts with a mix of country, folk and blues. Much of their sound was carried by lead vocalist Steve Fisher, who also wrote a lot of the Circuit Riders songs. He sounded a lot Dylan as well as T-Bone Burnett, the producer of "O Brother" fame whose solo career finally generated a long-awaiting box set this year of his often hard to find albums. (This Dylan-Burnett comparison isn't a stretch since the latter was a de facto protege of the former.) I was especially smitten with "Circus Is In Town" which evoked that old thrill of three-ring theatrics coming to somebody's hometown. But there was also a somewhat jaundiced and modern eye cast on the proceedings: "The horses are getting tired, waiting in their stalls/The crowd is growing restless, hoping the acrobat will fall."

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