Tag Archives: Jacob Heiteen

LIVE: The Mountain Goats, Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

The Mountain Goats // Photo: Hollister Dixon

By Hollister Dixon

A few songs into Sunday’s Mountain Goats show at the Crystal Ballroom, frontman John Darnielle told a story about going back to his old apartment, and finding a mark he’d left on the door when he lived in it decades earlier. In the hands of a lesser artist, this might seem like an innocuous thing to sing about – but Darnielle turned the experience of turning his return to his 13th and Taylor apartment into a song – “We Shall All Be Healed”, a song which was sadly left off the album of the same name – about the simple joys of making it out of a horrible situation alive: “Stared down demons, came back breathing.”

It’s easy to forget, but Darnielle’s Portland roots go deep – We Shall All Be Healed was a semi-fictional account of his time in the city, and he talked a lot throughout the show about people he’d known in our town, going as far as to dedicate Transcendental Youth‘s “Spent Gladiator 2” to those that were lost to the same foul drugs he sung about on Healed. This was my second Mountain Goats performance, and while the first one felt like a great show, this one felt like I was getting to watch a performer, at long last, come home. Darnielle is a typically happy performer – which has always worked perfectly against his typically depressing fare (he made an album called Get Lonely, for god’s sake) – but his energy felt electric on that stage.

The newest album, Goths, isn’t an amazing record. It is packed with exactly the kind of great, witty, aware songwriting that you’ve come to expect from a Mountain Goats album. It’s the very first album that features absolutely no guitar (bass is acceptable – this an album about goths, after all), but most every song from the album they played was given a guitar-based live treatment – a move which truly elevated the songs past where they were. Despite this being an album promotion tour, and thus being heavy on Goths songs, each new song played felt like an old friend that was being trotted out for the excited fanbase. Call it having the right energy, call it having the right crowd, call it being a statesman of lyrically-rich indie folk rock – somehow each of the songs just worked

“I’d never want to be a Mountain Goats completist,” Spectrum Culture’s Dave Harris said to me a day after the show. I’m with him on this one; there’s just one thing on my Discogs wish list, and it’s the tour-only Come, Come to the Sunset Tree, which rarely dips below $200. Mountain Goats fans are a rabid, obsessive, almost religiously fervorous lot, and the sold-out crowd for that show illustrated all of the best parts of that. When Darnielle needed the crowd to shout, we shouted, and when he needed it to be silent enough that you could hear a pin drop, we sat with baited breath. Even during “Spent Gladiator 2”, when he dropped his mic to allow only his shout carry his words across the ballroom, the faithful helped carry the message to everyone. There’s a lot of magic in that.

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Episode 117: American Beauty

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Thank you to Jacob Heiteen, Todd Gleason, and Eric Robison for joining us this week! You can give this episode a listen above, or download it right here!

Topic:

  • 50 years of The Grateful Dead!
  • Where did our guests start with the band? How many times have they seen them?
  • What appeal does the band have for them, and their musical style?
  • What were some of the staples of the Grateful Dead’s live shows?
  • Where should the uninitiated start with the Dead?

Songs:

  • Marilyn Manson – “Devil Underneath my Feet”
  • Grateful Dead – “Scarlet Begonias”
  • Grateful Dead – “Alligator”
  • Animal Collective – “What Would I Want? Sky”

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LIVE: Patti Smith, Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

Patti Smith: Outside of Society
By Jacob Heiteen

In the immortal words of Kim Gordon’s t-shirt, “Girls Invented Punk Rock Not England.” If you need proof, look no further than the great Patti Smith. She is a punk original, and Rotten and Strummer got nothing on her. While Smith’s music may not scream “PUNK” the way some might know it, her style and attitude couldn’t be anything else but punk. It should also be noted that of all the members of the CBGB scene (which is basically the birthplace of punk), she was the first to put out a record. her first single was released in 1974 and her debut LP came a year later, predating the Ramones, Television, and Richard Hell. She was, in a sense, the first voice of the scene and forever shaped the way American punk would sound for the decades to come.

On January 20th, Patti Smith took the stage of a sold out show at the Crystal Ballroom, showing everyone that despite being 68 she has not lost any of her raw power. Honestly, I’m sure that if you were to compare last night show to one of her 70s show, the only difference would be the gray hair, because she hasn’t lost anything. She sung as fiercely as she did 40 years ago, was a sharp witted as ever, and had moments where she full on rocked the fuck out.

While unfortunately there was no “Gloria,” we did get “Dancing Barefoot,” “People Have The Power,” and “Redondo Beach.” Hearing all those songs played together made me realize that Smith and her band could sound like literally anything they wanted to. They could do a strange slowed-down version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (complete with a banjo!), the reggae tinted “Redondo Beach” and loud rockers like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger,” all while having made total sense. There were even a few song with the lead being taken by her longtime bandmate and garage rock aficionado, Lenny Kaye, who may have coined the phrase “punk rock” in the liner notes to his influential Nuggets compilation. The highlight was undoubtedly “Because The Night,” which she dedicated to her late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith. That song could pump up any room and when the first chorus hit it seemed like everyone in the audience was singing along.

It was also nice to see a show by such an established artist have such a lack of separation between star and audience. Smith seemed completely open and accessible, telling us in great detail about her day, her beloved old TV, and strangely, a seemingly very intense episode of Little House on The Prairie, saying that she’d rather hear talk about a TV show than some “bullshit political rhetoric”. The stage banter was not at all boring, in fact people encroached on it by shouting out questions about her Vatican performance and reaction to Kim Fowley’s death. Smith even went so far as to invite a random audience member take over for her on guitar while she rocked the mic.

The whole show felt like we were hanging out with her, talking with her, jamming with her. There was no ego with Patti. It felt honest, like we were getting the real woman.

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Episode 112: Festivus 3D: The Festivus Awakens

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Happy Festivus, everybody! Thanks to David Abravanel and Jacob Heiteen for celebrating with us! You can listen to the episode above, or download it right here!

Topic:

  • Festivus: the airing of grievance! This year, we discuss everything we hated about 2014, from terrible bands to horrible concertgoers to our least favorite trends in popular music.

Songs:

  • Whodini – “Friends”
  • Taylor Swift – “Welcome to New York”
  • Sicko Mobb – “Fiesta”
  • Michael W. Smith (ft. Bono) – “The Darkest Midnight”
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LIVE: Old Crow Medicine Show, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR

By Jacob Heiteen

After walking out of their performance at the Schnitz, all I could think was how much I wished more bands were like the Old Crow Medicine Show. For those who don’t know, OCMS started life a group of buskers playing high energy takes on old-time folk songs, when bluegrass legend, Doc Watson, heard them playing outside a pharmacy. He then invited them to play is annual MerleFest, introducing them to a very wide audience and jumpstarting their career.

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Episode 96: One Hit

Thanks to Jacob Heiteen for joining us this week! You can listen to the episode above, or download it right here.

Topic:

  • One-Hit Wonders
  • What exactly makes something a “one-hit wonder”? What qualifies as a “hit”?
  • Where do one-hit wonders come from? Why do they become so popular?
  • Can a song be a one-hit wonder if produced by a highly popular/influential band?
  • Do record sales/airplay work as a way to judge if a song is or isn’t a one-hit wonder, or even just a “hit”?
  • What makes a song a “hit” in the first place?
  • Do they still exist in the internet age? Does a YouTube play count tell you as much as sales used to?
  • Why do people love the concept of the “one-hit wonder” so much?

Songs:

  • John Williams – “Jurassic Park Theme”
  • Len – “Steal My Sunshine”
  • Swans – “Song For a Warrior”
  • Castanets – “Tell Them Memphis”

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MFNW ’14: The Jacob Heiteen Report

By Jacob Heiteen

SIDE NOTE: Unfortunately life and my job got in the way of me seeing as much of MusicFestNW as I’d like. I only was able to catch 70% of the Sunday lineup. I could mope about missing Future Islands or Girl Talk, but I would say that the bands I saw more than made up for their absence. Here is what I thought of the sets I saw:

WILD ONES:
The last time I got to see Portland-based synth-poppers was in a cramped basement of a house show, in the end of fall 2013. Since then they seem to be everywhere. This is obviously a band in the beginnings of a pivotal chapter of their career. Thankfully they made the house show to festival stage transition seem effortless. The crowed was eating out of their hands, dancing throughout the set, and cheering when the band pulled out their “From Portland” credentials.  The best part about seeing bands at this stage of their career is that they usually play with a tone of confidence, and Wild Ones was no exception. Can’t wait to see them play on an even bigger stage next time.

THE ANTLERS:
Look, I understand why The Antlers are so beloved. Sad bastard music will never stop being necessary, but for some reason I just can’t get on board the Antlers train. I had such a hard time standing in the heat, listening to drone-y song with horns and a crescendo, after drone-y song with horns and a crescendo. The set had its moments, like when they played some of their more forward moving songs, but it overall made me really bored. It just felt really out of place being sandwiched between the perky Wild Ones and the in-your-face-ness of Fucked Up (more on that later). Maybe I would have liked them more in a more intimate setting, but I feel like they just aren’t for me.

FUCKED UP:
Oh man did Fucked Up come in charging like a horde of rhinos! One drummer, one bass, three guitars, and one Leonidas-like frontman (Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham) were all that was needed to amply pump things up. Pretty sure the only mosh pit of the fest was during Fucked Up and thank god I was right in their getting completely covered in dust. The band was super on point and somehow kept things together despite all the chaos Abraham was bringing out of people. I’m sure that this was the first hardcore show for some members of the audience and I’m glad it was this one, since it gave you a sense of what the genre is at its best. It felt like the band was there for us to let our anger out, which they returned with an attitude that made it seem like they wanted be there for us. Damian Abraham’s stage antics and banter (which ranged from the personal to the political) almost made me forget I was at a festival. I felt like I was in a small venue with the band ten feet away, which is what makes Fucked Up so special. There is no separation between us and Fucked Up, when they play we are all Fucked Up.

tUnE-yArDs:
I don’t get why all bands don’t come to show in costume? It adds so much, and even if they suck at least they are fun to look at. Thankfully tUnE-yArDs did not suck, not in the least. Their jittery brand of indie-pop went over so well with the MFNW and probably had more people dancing than any other band that day. They weren’t there to play a set, they were there to put on a show. Aside from colorful costumes, there were background singers and fucking choreography (a total weakness for me). And lets not forget the jams (of which there more than plenty), from new cuts like “Sink-O” to classics like “Bizness”. I’m pretty sure that Merrill Garbus, the band’s mastermind, is the only person who can take out a ukulele and not make me groan because it mean “Powa” is up next. After the set all I could think was how much tUnE-yArDs needed to have their own super ambitious, Sufjan Stevens-like stage show.

HAIM:
The way to describe Haim is “likeable”. Their music is likeable, their offstage personas are likeable, and their set was likeable, which was kind of the problem. They didn’t really bring out any side of themselves that I didn’t get from listening to their record, which I very much liked. While they totally had the right energy and jams the whole set just felt like standard festival fare. I guess what I’m getting at is that I had a much more fun time listening to Haim than I did seeing them live.

SPOON:
So, someone please tell me why Spoon is not as big as indie bands like Arcade Fire or The National? I’d be way more OK with Spoon having that status than either of the aforementioned. They have the better songs, they have better albums, and they have the better vibe. Spoon is the real deal and need to be recognized as such. I forgot how much I loved Spoon, a band that has been with me since freshman year of high school, and I’m very glad to be reminded of why I love them. Needless to say they put on an absolutely killer set, complete with two encores. They played everything, including my personal favorite “Black Like Me.” Spoon was a perfect choice for closing things out. I feel kind of lame saying that the finale headliner was my favorite set, but fuck it they were just so good. Total gold standard of their genre.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
I was very skeptical of the changes to MFNW. The smaller lineup and the new enclosed space made me nervous. However, I found myself really enjoying the fest this year. Yes, it has become more like all the other festivals in the country but it still stood out in a lot of ways. The fact that it was so small was refreshing and made the dreadful walk from stage to stage less of an ordeal, the non-overlapping set scheduling allowed for people to see every act on the roster if they so choose, and the nice view of the city skyline reminded everyone that, despite the changes, this is still a festival done Portland style.

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“I Don’t Like Country”: In Defense of the Genre

By Jacob Heiteen

[Editor’s Note: This article should be read in conjunction with our episode on country music with Heiteen, entitled “Cowboy Blues“.]

It was senior year of high school and I was in the drama room eating lunch. As usual, it was filled with people, since it was one of the only rooms with couches and a microwave. I was on my computer doing some school work and figured I’d put some music on. I loved playing music out loud to my friends. I was known to be big music aficionado amongst my friend group. I wrote music reviews in my school’s newspaper and people would regularly ask me to make them mixtapes. I’ve must have made close to a hundred throughout my time in high school. People trusted me enough that they allowed me to play DJ during lunch from time to time.

That day I selected the song that had been stuck in my head for weeks, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” by Hank Williams. A ridiculously catchy tune, with some of the best word play I’ve ever heard. It’s kind of an anomaly amongst the Hank Williams discography, with its strong Cajun roots and phrases like “filé gumbo” and “ma chaz ami-o” (Cajun French for “my good girlfriend”). Then, I get a dirty look from this kid. I’ve never seen him before, he must have been there just for the microwave, but he gave me this look like I was offending him. “Are you playing country music?” he asked, with a tone that sounding like he caught me eating garbage of a dumpster. “Yeah, I am,” I answered, genuinely shocked that someone could have a problem with such an awesome song. “God how can you listen to that shit? Country music sucks,” he said. I immediately became very embarrassed and didn’t know what to say. I just retreated to the other end of the room and resumed what I was doing, this time with my headphones on.

This was the first time that I realized that my newfound obsession would be looked down on by some of my friends. I knew that if I where to go listening to country I’d have to be on the defensive.

A few months prior I started to notice that the music I usually listened to was starting to burn me out. I still liked it, but I had gotten the feeling that it was time for me to take a brake from my usual diet of indie and punk rock. This will happen to me every so often and I usually like it take this as an opportunity to delve into a genre I’ve either neglected or didn’t know much about. The first time I did this, I dedicated almost three whole months solely listening to rap music and modern R&B, two genres that I used to not listen to as much, but know love. I did the same with jazz, world, heavy metal, old folk music, bluegrass, African music, salsa, and electronic music. I loved doing this since it allowed me to broaden my musical horizons.

I would look up whatever the genre’s highly regarded artists and albums where and I’d listened to them over and over until I either loved or gave up on it. I also read books and articles on the genre, to further enhance my knowledge. I didn’t just want to know the best stuff from a particular genre; I wanted to know the whole history. By this time the only major genre that I haven’t delved into was country. The reason was that I like most people I knew, thought country music sucked. I had those same preconceived notions that everyone has. That country was filled with dumb songs, by dumb rednecks, about dumb subjects like tractors and such. Eventually though, I started to question if those where valid criticisms and whether or not I was just been stereotyping the genre. I was familiar and like some country at the time. I thought Johnny Cash was great, but he was the kind of artist that everyone loves despite their musical preferences. He’s like The Beatles of country, everyone likes him and anyone who says otherwise is just trying to be cool and should probably try harder.

I also loved Gram Parsons, who basically created country rock through his time with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, and his solo albums GP and Grievous Angel. He would also pal around with members of The Rolling Stones, reintroducing them to country music, and prompting them to make the country tinted Exile on Main St. Other than Cash and Parsons, however, I was rather clueless about country music. I had no idea where to start. So I started to browse the web looking for articles on country music. I stabled upon a series of articles on AV Club (a wonderful pop culture site) called “Nashville or Bust”. The idea was that the site’s resident hip-hop head, Nathan Rabin, would go though a “super-intense year-long crash course in country”. This was perfect for me, especially since Rabin and I had a lot in common: we were both Jewish music nerds with depression problems, who had no idea what country music was about.

I went through his articles in a flash, downloading all the songs and albums that spiked my interest. Soon I discovered other sites and blogs that where just as good. I started to read No Depression and Saving Country Music, two blogs that focused on country though an alt-rock lens and down the rabbit hole I went. I’ve been listening country music constantly for two years now, and even though I haven’t given up my beloved rock music, I can probably say country music has become at least my second favorite genre.

My preferred eras of country tend to be the 30s through the 70s. Each decade had seen country go through very distinct changes.The 30s was basically the birth of country with artist like The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. The 40s was when country started to become really popular and you had people like Bob Wills creating country swing and people like Ernest Tubb creating honky tonk. The 50s is kind of the golden age for country music and also saw the advent rockabilly thanks to people like Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. The 60s was when people like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard started to challenge the establishment of Nashville starting what is known as the Bakersfield sound. It also saw the rise of popular female country stars like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. The 70s is when outlaw country and the seeds of alt-country get planted thanks to people like Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. This era also happens to be my favorite.

I still have never gotten into much country music post the 70s, since was in the 80s and 90s that the genre started to become more formulaic and the current stereotypes cam about. There is still good stuff form past 30 years (i.e. Kacey Musgraves, Uncle Tupelo, Hank III and The Dixie Chicks) but the amount of quality stuff is certainly less when compared to later years. At the time though, I pretty much stopped listening to anything that wasn’t country music. I was, for lack of a better word, hopelessly obsessed. Every other type of music just didn’t interest me anymore. I’d spend every day listening to country. I’d walk down the halls with my headphones on not talking to anyone, I’d much rather listen to something that Lucinda Williams had to say then some regular person. But when I started sharing my passion with other the response was more along the lines of “why are you listening to that crap?” Soon, I started to keep my country music to myself. When people asked what I’ve been listening to I’d always leave out the country music. I sort of became ashamed of it for a while. It was my dirty little secret.

Of course, the idea of having this genre that I liked and no one else did made it seem cooler. It was my thing; I didn’t have to share this love with anyone. I then started to be secretly proud of my love for country. And I started to understand it, and why I like it so much.

The music appealed to me from a lyrical standpoint. Perhaps my favorite aspect of music is lyrics. I tend to be more into bands and artist who are known for there lyrics. Bands like Pavement, OutKast, Vampire Weekend, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Mountain Goats, and Guided By Voices are my favorites because they are great wordsmiths. Country music has no shortage of these. Probably my go-to argument when defending country is telling people that some of the best songwriters in the world are from country music. A case in point would be someone like Townes Van Zandt, a country cult figure, who is often regarded as the best 5 American songwriter next to Dylan. His songs are filled with dry-humor, dark subject matters, and a deep sense of beautiful melancholy. He is also a master storyteller. I consider “Pancho & Lefty”, a song about two desperado’s rise and fall, to be one of the best songs ever written. The popular country music of the 50’s and 60’s was also hosted some of the greatest songwriters of all time. Country is one of those genres where the stars are just as good as the cult figures. Nashville was home to most of these stars. Nashville was kind of like Motown, in the sense that it was this place full of talented writers and musicians who could turn out classic songs in their sleep. These songs would be part of what is called the “Nashville sound”, and to this day Nashville is considered the Mecca of country music.

The staggering amount of depressing music country offers also appealed to me. For some reason I tend to love music that is considered to be very depressing, which is probably attributed to my own struggles with depression. I don’t really like listening to music that is overly happy because I’m usually not in that kind of mood. I would much rather wallow in my own sorrow while listening to an equally depressing artist who “gets Country music is great for this. I’ve often said that if you take the lyrics to some country songs and added some electric guitars you’d have a great emo song. The motif of heartbreak is a country music staple and the genre produced some of the best heartbreak songs ever made. While there are plenty of cheerful country songs, my favorites tend to be the depressing ones. Every major country figure has at least one great sad song, usually dozens. George Jones has “She Thinks I Still Care”, Willie Nelson has “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”, John Prine has “Sam Stone”, Dolly Parton has “I Will Always Love You”, and The Louvin Brothers have a whole album of these songs album called The Tragic Songs of Life. The list goes on and on. Soon, I started listening to country music when I was depressed in the same way that I used to listen to The Smiths or emo music. It probably only made me more depressed, but I didn’t care.

My love for country music also probably came out as a reaction against my surroundings at the time. My drama friends where mostly into really generic alt-rock and country seemed like the polar opposite to that, which was what I wanted. Growing up in Portland, which is such a hipster city, can sometimes drive me crazy with the pretentiousness I encounter. There was something about country that seemed very unpretentious to me, which I also found very appealing.

The mythologies behind the country stars themselves are also reason enough to get into country music. Pretty much all of them are tragic and/or tortured figures in some why. Hank Williams ended up succumbing to his drug and alcohol problem, dying on New Years Eve at the age of 29. Pasty Cline died in a plane crash at the height of her career. Merle Haggard was in and out of juvenile detention centers throughout his childhood, before finally ending up in San Quentin Prison where he saw Johnny Cash perform and decide join the prison’s country music band. Cash himself had a long running problem with drugs, as did Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette, and her one-time husband George Jones. Jones was probably the worst of them all, doing so much cocaine and drinking so much that he developed for a time, short-term memory loss. I’m well aware that these are behaviors that are not to be glamorized, but for some reason I find them so fascinating. It dispels the notion that country music full of straight lased boring people. In fact they lived lives that could out rock star most rock stars. Finding that these giants of the genre were all so flawed made them more relatable than some seemingly perfect pop star. Knowing about these crazy country stars’ crazy lives is part of the fun of being a country fan.

These days I’m tired of hiding that I’m a country fan. I’m tired of having to cringe anytime I hear someone say “I love all kinds of music, except for county”. I’m tired of meeting people who say they are country fans but know nothing about Hank Williams or Waylon Jennings but rather the pop country that is manufactured for the radio. I’ve become a country music defender and I’m proud of it. I no longer retreat when people tell me country sucks. I fight back to defend the music I love.

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Episode 91: Cowboy Blues

Thanks to Jacob Heiteen for joining us this week on the show! You can listen above, or download the episode here.

Topic:

  • Country music: why is it so misaligned?
  • What makes music “country music”?
  • Who are the most important names in the genre?
  • Why does modern country sound so different?

Songs:

Bands:

  • Weird Al Yankovic
  • Robin Thicke
  • Pixies
  • A Sunny Day in Glasgow
  • Tori Amos
  • Kate Bush
  • Joanna Newsom
  • Wolves in the Throne Room
  • Mastodon
  • White Stripes
  • Black Keys
  • Our First Brains
  • Hemingway
  • La Dispute
  • Pianos Become the Teeth
  • Melville
  • Damn Librarians
  • Johnny Winter
  • Edgar Winter
  • Ringo Starr
  • Billy Squire
  • Gary Wright
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • J Dilla
  • Run DMC
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • MF Doom
  • Craig Finn / The Hold Steady
  • Drake
  • Sky Above and Earth Below
  • Carrion Spring
  • Merle Haggard
  • Willie Nelson
  • Townes Van Zandt
  • Hank Williams
  • Johnny Cash
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Neko Case
  • Uncle Tupelo
  • The Jayhawks
  • Wilco
  • Son Volt
  • Lucinda Williams
  • Carter Family
  • Toby Keith
  • Elvis Costello
  • Nick Lowe
  • Ray Charles
  • Ween
  • Garth Brooks
  • Trisha Yearwood
  • Chris Gaines
  • Shania Twain
  • Woody Guthrie
  • T-Bone Burnett
  • Patsy Cline
  • Loretta Lynn
  • Dolly Parton
  • Emmylou Harris
  • Tammy Wynette
  • George Jones
  • Billie Holiday
  • Wanda Jackson
  • Taylor Swift
  • Here’s Your Rodeo
  • Tears For Steers
  • Cole Porter
  • Buck Owens
  • Bob Dylan
  • Amos Lee
  • Depeche Mode
  • Nick Cave
  • John Darnielle / The Mountain Goats
  • Conway Twitty
  • Kanye West
  • Flying Burrito Brothers
  • Graham Parsons
  • The Eagles
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Allman Brothers Band
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Doobie Brothers
  • Drive-By Truckers
  • Old 97’s
  • The Smiths
  • Wings
  • Your Rival
  • The Sidekicks
  • Echo & the Bunnymen
  • U2
  • Tim Hecker
  • Oneohtrix Point Never
  • Grouper
  • Chris Brown
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