Tag Archives: Buck Owens

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Marty Stuart Pays Homage to California Country at Bowery Ballroom

April 27th, 2017

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives – The Bowery Ballroom – April 26, 2017


Marty Stuart is old school country good—it’s right there in the title of his band. Raised in Mississippi, entranced with the likes of Buck Owens and Marty Robbins, Stuart came to renown as a guitarist with Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash before he broke out as a solo artist, favoring a high-energy country, roots and Americana sound that feels classic but not overly nostalgic. The essence of his 18th album, the outstanding Way Out West, is also right there in the title: Stuart loves the mythology of the American West, the panoramic dreams and wide-open-desert terrors it can evoke and the range of moods that music flavored with these things can inspire.

Lest it seem like Stuart and his crackerjack band will get lost in the cinematic sweep of things, however, they definitely don’t: They’re as fun, foot-stomping and down-to-earth good a country band as any New York City can attract. Over an hour and a half at The Bowery Ballroom last night, they plumbed the best of Way Out West and served up hefty helpings of Stuart chestnuts and roots-music staples, from ancient stuff like “I Know You Rider,” “Orange Blossom Special,” “Country Boy Rock & Roll” and Robbins’ “El Paso,” to ripping, surf-leaning instrumentals like “Mojave” and “Torpedo,” newer tunes like the honky-tonk “Whole Lotta Highway” and Stuart classics like “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’.” They’re storytellers, string-benders, good-time Charlies who can acquit a twangy reworking of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and make it feel like a deep cut from a Best of the Bakersfield Sound compilation.

Stuart is the proverbial “name on the door,” but it’s the Fabulous Superlatives who get at least as much of the spotlight, claiming at least one solo vocal or instrumental performance apiece. Among them, Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson and Chris Scruggs (yep, grandson of Earl) cover guitar, bass, drums and plenty of other things, but, like Stuart, are best described as multi-instrumentalists for how seamlessly—and how musically—they inhabit whatever they’re playing or singing. That’s key: Beneath the wisecracks and convivial joy, the foursome exhibit a deep trust and abiding gratitude for this music and their ability to play it so magnificently. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

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Aubrie Sellers Confidently Walks the Line at Rough Trade NYC

May 18th, 2016

Aubrie Sellers – Rough Trade NYC – May 17, 2016

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Aubrie Sellers has described what she does as “garage country,” and that’s on point. It’s not that her music sounds bashed out or particularly raw, but it’s clear from the first notes—and even in her tenderest songs—that we’re not dealing with the side of Nashville that favors slickness, polish and a packaged sound. No, in Sellers’ hands, country songs get nice and scuffed, sometimes with a honky-tonk bent, sometimes with an infusion of indie rock, sometimes with punk’s burnt edges, sometimes mindful of ’70s AM rock and sounding perhaps a few clicks over from Fleetwood Mac. She’s part of a six-piece band, but there isn’t a keyboard, or a fiddle, in sight, and a whole lot of guitars kicking up some principled racket. There’s a steel player—used to great effect during last night’s set at Rough Trade NYC—but he’s just as likely to blow harp through a tricked-out microphone made from what appears to be an old telephone receiver. Cool. 

These distinctions are important because Sellers, who’ll be described here and probably in every profile, feature and review for years as the daughter of Lee Ann Womack and Jason Sellers, knowingly put extra pressure on herself by following her parents into the biz. But she’s neither a Nashville country supplicant nor a rebel. The songs on her debut album, New City Blues, walk the line between both of these poles. Over the course of an hour’s headlining set, Sellers tried them out on us: winking blues rock in “Sit Here and Cry,” sweet yearning in “Something Special,” moody country angst in “Light of Day,” cautioned romance in “Just to Be with You.”

Sellers explained that most of her set is usually sad or sarcastic songs but then sneaked in some reservedly happy ones. She pulled in a few covers, some obvious (Buck Owens’ “My Heart Skips a Beat”) and some far less so, but well chosen, including the Beach Boys’ “In My Room,” which the band turned into a misty-morning electric-folk song while Sellers mined its sensitive beauty. Throughout, and in any of those modes, she displayed able command of a big-sound band, knowing when to keep a tight rein so her vocals could be the main focus and when to let those gnarly guitars overwhelm her singing a bit. The confidence in that balance is working for her. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

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New York City Goes Nashville for April Fools’ Day

April 2nd, 2013

Caitlin Rose – Mercury Lounge – April 1, 2013

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

The indie- and country-music scenes can feel worlds apart at times, but there’s a good amount of musicians straddling the two. Caitlin Rose is one of those artists, and once either of the scenes fully realizes her songwriting talents, she’ll likely be a much bigger name. Of course, that may already be happening. With the front two rows of her sold-out show last night at Mercury Lounge comprised almost entirely of professional photographers snapping away, the momentum already seems to be there.

Rose and the band seemed a little nervous at first, perhaps because of this firing line of photographers in an intimate setting. But she fought off any nerves by conversing with the audience in between songs, coming off as sincere and earnest as she discussed the Nashville scene, how early shows can feel a little weird and how clowns, although creepy in reality, can make for excellent song material (like for her own tune, “Only a Clown”). The clarity and charm of her voice seemed to come out naturally and with little effort, contrasting perfectly against the twanging guitar sounds from her supporting cast of Nashville musicians, including the show’s opener, Andrew Combs. And although Rose thought her set time was up after finishing “Old Numbers,” she got the green light to finish things with Buck Owens’ barn-stompin’ country classic “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail.” —Dan Rickershauser