Tag Archives: Jamie Lin Wilson

Go See the Turnpike Troubadours Live If It’s the Last Thing You Do

It’s been a weird month for me, and I’m sorry I’m just getting to this now, but trust me, I had to take some time for myself, and it was well worth it. I do expect there to be quite an influx of writing during the next few days because I’ve been listening to a lot of music but haven’t had the time to really sit down and write my thoughts on anything.

But absolutely the first thing I have to address is the live show I saw last Friday in Oklahoma City at a place called the Criterion for the Turnpike Troubadours’ album release party. I’ve now seen Turnpike three times live, and I’m so glad I finally get to devote an entire post to this. I will freely say that in September at Medicine Stone, they didn’t live up to themselves as much, and their show didn’t blow me away on the level that it has each other time, but without a doubt, the Turnpike Troubadours is the best live music experience I’ve had the opportunity to see.

It’s hard to even begin to put into words the kind of brilliance you see at a Turnpike show, but you know all that ridiculous fiddle and guitar and just generally awesome instrumentation? It’s barely contained on their albums, and then you hear it just basically come unleashed in a live setting. There’s nothing like the opening to “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead” as the band just breaks out into the song, and all hell breaks loose. It’s surreal to listen to a song like “Seven and Seven,” meant to be such a deep and thought-provoking number, be screamed out among thousands of people because somehow this band managed to write it in an upbeat, concert-friendly way. This helped me to enjoy some of the new album more–you’ll see my thoughts on that shortly, by the way–because songs like “The Housefire” work better in a live setting, and suddenly a serious song becomes lively and fun. And then you get moments like “Pay no Rent,” where the songwriting of Evan Felker is on full display, and even if you came here looking for a party, you can’t help but be hit by the genius in these lyrics.

Even having seen Turnpike twice already, “Long Hot Summer Day” is a moment I was looking forward to, just hearing the fiddle over and over for the chorus. At Medicine Stone, they had tended to do this as an encore, but here, they did it as the finale, to ridiculous applause. The encore featured Jamie Lin Wilson, who had been the opener and is another great live performer, and she was there for “Call a Spade a Spade,” a song she appears on in its studio version. The night ended with “The Bird Hunters,” which is amazing in and of itself, because that song is a five-minute, waltzing heartbreak song, and yet, the Troubadours manage to make it something lively enough for the end of a concert. It’s truly special to hear everyone singing along to this, and it makes me go back to Jamie Lin saying that Evan Felker somehow manages to write “deep, thoughtful songs that also make you want to party.” This is extremely rare, and it means both that this band’s writing might be a little underappreciated and also that they’re accessible enough for everyone.

They’re certainly being given greater attention now, but the Turnpike Troubadours are still massively underrated. Trigger addressed this a little on SCM, but it’s a shame that artists like Turnpike and others are struggling to find live audiences outside Texas and Oklahoma because they should be on the level of Isbell and Simpson. NO question. So go out and support the best band making country music today if you have any interest in live music at all.

Highlights from Medicine Stone 2017

It’s a great thing as a proud Oklahoman to see what the Turnpike Troubadours and Jason Boland have started in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, with Medicine Stone. It’s a wonderful three-day experience of music and fellowship on the Illinois River, and I recommend going if you like Texas and Red Dirt music, or even just live music in general. The people are great too, and I was glad to go back for a second year. Last year, I tried to cover as many bands as possible–though it is physically impossible to see all of them because some of them play on different stages at the same time–so this time, I wanted to write something a little different. I thought overall, the fifth Medicine Stone was even better than the fourth, and I really enjoyed almost everyone I saw. So rather than reiterating that for a bunch of different artists, I thought I’d highlight some of the lesser known artists that impressed me, and maybe introduce some of you to their music. We all know Randy Rogers and Boland and Turnpike can put on a good show–that’s why they were the three headliners–so I want to focus more on some of the other names. (Also, if you want to see me gushing about Turnpike’s live performance ability, you’ll likely get that in a month when I attend their album release party.) Anyway, the point to be taken here is that I probably enjoyed artists I’m leaving off this list–these are just some that stood out and deserve some recognition.

Suzanne Santo

Medicine Stone came under some fire in 2016 for only having two women on the lineup. This was taken into account, and several more women were included on the 2017 list, many of them highlights of the whole weekend. I didn’t know Suzanne Santo before she took the main stage to open things Thursday night, but I am a fan now. She has a new album out that you will find a review for shortly.

Shane Smith & the Saints

Friends, if you’re not listening to Shane Smith & the Saints, you’re doing it all wrong. One of the best things I saw both last year and this year. Phenomenal harmonies, ridiculous fiddle playing, good songwriting, interesting production…just get on board with this band. Massively underrated. I don’t know why more people aren’t writing about them. And for the ones who are already in on the awesomeness, go see them live. Also, you’ll be glad to know they are working on a new record!


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Shinyribs aren’t going to be for everyone, as proven by my cousin’s reaction to this. But they should be, and I do hope they will keep coming back to Medicine Stone. I’ve been wanting to see them live since I discovered their latest album, and yeah, it lives up to everything you hear about it. Just fun. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and I like that. Get on board with them as well.

Sunny Sweeney

This was Sunny Sweeney’s first time at Medicine Stone, and all I can say is, please bring her back. One of the best performers as far as the more country side of Red Dirt goes. And really good interaction with us all. Also, just saying, she needs to record that lovely song she sang for us called “Whiskey Richard.” Just saying. She said it won’t get cut, but I think it should. I’d also like to point out that as a huge Sunny Sweeney fan but not necessarily a huge Trophy fan, I actually liked the songs from that album much better after hearing them live. Her personality made them come alive a lot more onstage.

Red Shahan

I’d like to apologize to the entire Medicine Stone community for not seeing Red Shahan last year–as I said, it’s physically impossible to see everyone, but I heard a lot of people tell me I should have seen him, and you know what? They were right. Good Lord, this is just a cool artist. Just as I said Sunny stood out among the more country artists, Red Shahan stood out among the artists with more rock leanings. He definitely needs to come back.

jaime lin wilson

Jamie Lin Wilson

Jamie Lin Wilson played at a smaller stage this year, and I was upset at first because she’d been on the main stage in 2016–but she shines in this intimate setting. She was one of the standouts last year, and she was even better this time. Also, I may have gotten to hear a song she wrote that Evan Felker added a verse to, and yes, it will be on the new Turnpike album. And Jamie Lin, we need some more new music from you soon.

Kaitlin Butts

The opposite of what I said about Jamie Lin applies to Kaitlin Butts–she was moved from a smaller stage to the main stage, and this is much better for her. All that attitude and energy is freer in this setting. She said she’s been to Medicine Stone all five years, and she should keep coming. Another one of these that’s massively underrated. Maybe not quite as much now after her song with Flatland Cavalry, but still. Get to know her, she’s one of Oklahoma’s best-kept secrets.

Jason Boland & the Stragglers

Okay, I’m breaking my own rule. Last year, Turnpike blew me away,and this year it was Jason Boland, and even though I’m trying to focus on lesser-known artists, I can’t ignore the outstanding live show that Jason Boland & the Stragglers put on. Best headliner I saw, and a tie between this and Shane Smith & the Saints for the best thing I heard all weekend. Something especially sweet when you get to sit there as an Oklahoman watching an Oklahoma-based band absolutely murdering the song “If I Ever Get Back to Oklahoma.”

Album Review: Robyn Ludwick–This Tall to Ride

Rating: 7.5/10

If you want a good endorsement for Robyn Ludwick and her music, Jamie Lin Wilson recommended her to me back in September when I asked her to give us the names of some Texas country females we should be listening to. Robyn’s also the sister of Charlie and Bruce Robison which definitely counts for a lot in the Texas scene. I could go on with more of an introduction, but those two points alone should get you interested right away, even before we get into the fascinating album that is This Tall to Ride.

This Tall To Ride–yeah, that’s certainly an appropriate name because this record and the material presented here won’t be for the faint of heart. Like a height restriction on a roller coaster, the title is there to warn unsuspecting listeners, and to let you know just what kind of ride you’re embarking on, and indeed to offer you the chance to turn around at the last minute and avoid this adventure altogether. It’s a ride that takes you through life on the streets and lonely motels, and tells stories of coping with hard times by turning to vices. Yeah, that last has been done a thousand times in country–but not Robyn Ludwick’s way, where the vices are often cocaine and casual, or even solicited, sex. I counted the word “cocaine” twelve times on this record, and you don’t hear a lyric like the opening line to the excellent “Texas Jesus” in just any country project–“She says baby, I don’t jerk just anyone, but this one’s under the table, it’s gonna be loads of fun. But he don’t care, she’s like Mexican heroin, and it’s blockin’ his hurt for awhile.”

That theme of blocking hurt and pain permeates this album, and it’s what makes all the drug references somehow fit; it’s like rock lyrics, but told with a country songwriter’s care for crafting a story, almost the opposite of the way in which Texas country artists normally mix the two genres. Robyn Ludwick writes and sings in a manner that makes you feel all the sorrow of these characters and understand why they often turn to drugs and strangers for comfort. She has taken their lives and almost made them seem glamorous, and that takes as much of a talent as writing your own stories in song, if not more–it’s interesting that she can step so well into these roles and sing with such conviction. And that’s not what she’ll sing about on this whole album, but it’s where her writing shines brightest, and it’s where the unique, sort of raspy tones in her vocal quality work to perfection to add a rough edge to these songs. That rawness in her voice especially enhances “Freight Train,” one of the other standout moments on this album.

This record is a bit hard to judge because there’s some filler mixed in with some absolute gems. You have some truly excellent songs; I already mentioned “Freight Train” and “Texas Jesus,” and I can add “Bars Ain’t Closin’,” “Lie to Me,” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Shoes” to that too. “Bars Ain’t Closin'” features some nice steel guitar as well and tells a great, desperate story of heartbreak and missing someone; it’s cool to hear more country instrumentation paired with lyrics like Robyn’s, and it makes her and these songs all the more unique within this subgenre of Texas country. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Shoes” speaks of life on the streets, and those sighs explain perfectly what the main characters were seeking when Ludwick sings, “she didn’t love him, but on the streets, you get hungry man.” But then, mixed in with these standouts, there are just some bland tracks like “Love You For It,”–which is an unfortunate opener that won’t hold your attention like an opener should–and “Junkies and Clowns.” Nothing bad on the album, just really mediocre songs, especially in comparison to some of the others–definitely what Country Perspective would have dubbed wallpaper. It was really difficult to rate this, and in that respect, it reminded me of Jaime Wyatt’s latest album because the good here is absolutely great, but there’s also some really average to balance it out. The one thing I will say for the weaker tracks, though, is that the melodies are engaging. IN fact, melody is one of the strongest points of the album all the way through, and it serves to add another element of accessibility to lyrics like these that might not otherwise be enjoyable and/or relatable.

Overall, this is just a cool, unique album. No, it’s not going to be for everyone, but that’s part of music and art, and the fact that this could be polarizing speaks both to the talent and audacity of Robyn Ludwick and to the fact that this record had something to say. Credit to Robyn for telling the stories of people so often ignored and/or misunderstood by society, and for allowing us all a glimpse into their lives and perspectives, exploring themes so seldom ventured into in country music. There’s some damn great music on here too; some of these tracks are honestly just brilliant in songwriting, and their melodies will stay with you. There’s some mediocrity and filler, and based on the outstanding parts of the album, Robyn Ludwick is capable of better, but it balances out to be a solid album, and worth your time, if indeed you’re ready for the roller coaster. Cool record, glad I went along for the ride.

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Album Review: Jason Eady (self-titled)

Rating: 9/10

If there is one album I regret not being able to discuss from this platform, it is Jason Eady’s 2014 masterpiece Daylight and Dark. That year, everyone everywhere was giving sturgill Simpson album of the Year awards, but if Country Exclusive had existed, that distinction would have belonged to Eady and without question. I know this is quite an endorsement, but that record was better than any ten I have reviewed here to date, and if you haven’t listened to it, you are doing only yourself a disservice at the amount of stellar songwriting and true country music you’re missing. All that to say, how do you follow something like Daylight and Dark, and then, how do you give it a fair rating? Well, Jason Eady’s answer was this–to strip everything down and make an album that, aside from some steel guitar, could be played entirely without electricity. My answer was not so easy, but as I’ve listened, the beauty in these songs has spoken for itself in a way that does indeed follow Daylight and dark nicely, even if I couldn’t quite see it at first.

“Barabbas” may be one of the most brilliant instances of songwriting we’ve seen yet in 2017, and Jason eady opens the album with this. Of course it’s stripped down, but since the whole record is, this feels like a redundant point to continue making throughout the rest of the record. As for the lyrics, Eady tells the story of the pardoned man freed by the crucifixion of Jesus yet, aside from the title, never mentions Barabbas, Jesus, or anything religious, thereby making the song relatable and universal, a story for all but still holding a deeper connection for those of faith. “drive” was previously performed by the Trishas and written by Eady, Jamie Lin Wilson and Kelley Micwee, but this is an entirely different, more upbeat track; the song tells the story of someone driving away from an ex and letting go of the pain, “looking for a lighter shade of blue.” “Black Jesus” tells of the friendship formed long ago between a white man and a black man; the black man taught the white man the blues, and the white man taught him Hank and Willie Nelson. Now, years later, the white man sings about their friendship and how one day, they will meet again. The song does a good job explaining the message without being preachy; you get the point that we’re all the same in the eyes of God without it being spelled out, and the story told is better than sermon. We need stories like this more, especially in today’s culture. “NO genie in This Bottle” is your typical classic country drinking song, as Eady searches for answers to his life in a bottle. The steel guitar I mentioned before makes this song–oh yeah, that’s Lloyd Maines playing it, and also, that’s Vince Gill adding harmony. This song is very much a case of less is more, and hearing it will do much more than reading my words. “Why I Left Atlanta,” the lead single, is quite similar thematically to Drive.” If I had to pick a song on this record that didn’t stand out in the context of the album, it would ironically be this one, but that’s not much of a criticism when the rest of the album is this great.

“Rain” is a simple, upbeat little song; again, it could be religiously minded but isn’t necessarily, inviting the rain to come and cleanse him. Eady has a talent for calling to mind religious symbolism and imagery in a way that draws parallels for so many without alienating others. It’s good songwriting because so much more comes across in these words–again, less is more. Next, we have Eady’s version of “Where I’ve Been.” My favorite is still the duet from Something Together, but since Eady wrote this, a recording of it from him was long overdue. Credit to Eady and Courtney Patton for making each version quite unique, and credit to Eady for writing a song worthy of three separate versions because it’s just that damn special. “Waiting to Shine” is probably the most lighthearted moment on the record–I already reviewed this song, but basically it’s a song comparing words to diamonds “buried in the bottom of the coal just waiting to shine.” Jason states that “finders are keepers, and I’ll take all the keepers I can find.” For what it’s worth, that strategy paid off in spades on this album. The album closes with two personal songs for Eady; the first is “Not Too Loud,” a song about his daughter and watching her grow up, and the second about all the things he has learned after forty years. The beauty in both of these songs is twofold; they are obviously deeply personal and real for Jason Eady, and yet people everywhere will be able to relate to them both.

This record is one of those that jumps out on the first listen as a good, solid album. But then, as you dig deeper, and the songs begin to speak, and each unique, hidden, sneaky turn of phrase starts to hit you, the greatness of this album starts to shine through. And the fact that the record is stripped down, allowing for this kind of reflection and introspection, is part of the genius that allows these songs to grow. It’s a songwriter’s album, and yet it’s simple and relatable throughout. Add to all this, it’s nothing but country from start to finish, and you have another excellent album from Jason Eady.

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Exclusive Interview: Jamie Lin Wilson

Jamie Lin Wilson is an ever-growing presence in the Texas/Red Dirt scene, with the Gougers, the Trishas and most recently as a solo artist, with 2015’s excellent Holidays and Wedding Rings. For more detailed information, you can read her Female Friday, featured here about a year ago. This interview was conducted by myself and Jennifer Lane during the 4th Annual Medicine Stone, discussed in detail here. Jamie Lin was gracious enough to sit down with us, in a casual skirt and tank top, hair still wet, in short giving the same comfortable, down-to-earth impression reflected in this photo. She was happy to tell us about Medicine Stone, the Texas/Red Dirt scene, and her unique story in all of it.

Country Exclusive: So is this your first time at Medicine Stone?

Jamie Lin Wilson: No, I came last year. Last year was my first trip here.

CE: Were you playing at the bar then, or were you on the main stage?

JLW: I was on the main stage last year too.

CE: What do you think about this event, and what the Turnpike Troubadours have started?

JLW: Man, it’s, it’s beautiful. There are people camping out all over the place, inviting everybody to their campsites, sharing…like last night, I got here very late last night, so I caught the end of Randy Rogers’s set, and then Mike and the Moonpies’ after party show. And then we just kind of walked around, and there were hamburgers being cooked…I stayed up till 4 AM, and I wasn’t even trying to. (laughter) It was like, all of a sudden, it’s 4 AM, how did that happen?

CE: So you would definitely come back.

JLW: Oh, I’d come back as long as they’ll have me. I love it. And the Turnpike boys, I mean, I’ve known them for a long time. Since they were in a van, which actually wasn’t that long ago. (laughter)

CE: NO, it wasn’t.

JLW: But I’ve just been so proud of them, watching them blow up, and I tell Evan [Felker] all the time that people out there are screaming the words to his songs, and like, there’s four thousand people in the audience,dancing and singing to all of these songs, and they don’t even know that they’re getting smarter. I’m like, “Your songs actually raise people’s IQ’s.” Because he writes so smart, and that’s the thing with all of these people that are here, like the lineup here is so great. And there’s so many more that aren’t here that are also in this scene, in the Texoma thing.

CE: I like the Texoma, because it’s usually Texas or Red Dirt, but Texoma’s good for an Oklahoman.

JLW: It’s the same, it’s the same, you know? Like there’s a definite influence with everybody of where you’re from, you can tell. If you listen to my songs, you can tell I’m from south Texas, I’ve got that. I’ve got that in me. You listen to Turnpike [Troubadours] and [Jason] Boland and stoney [LaRue] and Mike McClure and all those guys, you can tell that they’re from Oklahoma. There’s a thing. But, because of the quality of song and the give-a-shit that is put into it, that’s where it all comes together.

CE: Do you think that is unique to this scene, to the Texas scene? The uniqueness, or as you said, the give-a-shit?

JLW: I think that what is unique to Texas is…being someone who’s toured nationally, what’s unique to Texas is the passion that Texas and OKlahoma have for music, the fans. There are at least three or four venues in every major market that anybody can go to. You can go to Dallas, Oklahoma City, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Tulsa…you can have your pick. If you’re a large band, you get a 2,000-seat venue. If you’re a small band, you get 500 and below, you know? But in other states, there’s not that option. Like if you go to Georgia, you can play this, this, this, or this. (laughter) And in Texas and Oklahoma, the scene is so supported, and the fans are so passionate, that you can play any night of the week. You can go anywhere, any night of the week and see good music. Good songwriting, good musicianship, and that is just not normal everywhere else.
You know, the scene though, the songwriting and the quality of the music is pretty similar to what’s happening in the Americana world right now, where people are confused about what happened. and we’re the same. There are people coming here who were at the Americana festival too, they’re coming from Nashville. Like Randy was there and came here last night, Red Shahan’s coming, I did it last year, I did the shuffle. Like, we’re all a part of the same deal. People ask what makes something Americana too, because all the bands sound different. The sound is not the same; the thing that’s the same is the care that’s put into crafting a song, and the care that’s given by the fans. Whenever the fans want to hear good music, then the people put out good music. That, that is specific to the Americana scene as well as the Texas scene, and that’s why they go hand in hand. That’s why those Americana bands, [Jason] Isbell and Sturgill [Simpson] and the Black Lilies and American Aquarium and all those bands that aren’t Texas bands can come through Texas and have just as great of a turnout as locals, as people who were raised here. And it’s because the fans just want to hear good songs. How hard is that?

CE: It’s not.

JLW: (laughter) How hard is that to just give me something good? Just give me something I want to hear?

CE: I take it from hearing this, but I’ll ask anyway. A lot of texas artists try to get into Nashville scenes, to make it there. Is there any interest in that for you?

JLW: I mean, I love Nashville. I love it. I go there to write a few times a year. I’ll start doing that more next year since I’m not pushing a record right now. But I would love for those girls who wear short skirts to like, cut my songs, that would be cool. (laughter) But I don’t have any interest. I’d like to play the Opry, that’d be fun. But I don’t have any interest in being on the CMA Awards or doing that. That’s not really me. I mean, if that genre, if the top 40 genre started playing songs that I think I could write, then sure. You know, if that’s where the stardom goes, then more power to them, I’d love that. But I’m not interested in being famous. I like to sing and have my kids be proud of me for putting things out that have integrity, I think. I don’t know, does that sounds snobby?

CE: NO, not at all. It sounds the opposite. I was going to ask this later, but you led me to it. You said you’re not pushing a record, so when can we expect some new music?

JLW: Man, I’ve got things happening. I’m writing a lot right now, but I just don’t know. I haven’t figured out what I want to do with it. I’ve got some projects. Like, I want to write this record that has this and this and this and this, and then I want to write this record that has these songs on it. So we’ll see where all those land and how it happens, but I’ll probably record something next year, even if it’s just a few songs to put on Spotify or apple Music. I’m not sure that i’ll make a whole record, but you never know, I might.

CE: I look forward to it. I did really enjoy Holidays and Wedding Rings, that was one of the better albums of 2015.

JLW: Thank you, I was really proud of it.

CE: You should have been. When did you know you wanted to pursue music as a career?

JLW: Yeah, that’s a thing that just kind of happened. I got a guitar whenever I was a sophomore in college, and learned some chords, and I always knew that I could sing pretty good. I would just sit in my room and sing these songs, and eventually I started going to this open mic night. And probably the third one, someone asked me to be in their band. Hey you wanna come open for us and be in my band? sure. And that ended up being Shane Walker, who was in the Gougers with me, and then I was in a band. It just kind of became what I did, and then I enjoyed it, and I just never stopped. So here I am. (laughter)

CE: So here you are. Do you have anyone that influenced you musically?

JLW: Oh everybody. I mean, I can listen to things that I grew up listening to like Highway 101 and Dolly Parton and Kathy Mattea and Mark Chesnutt and Merle Haggard, George Jones and Ray Price and Bob Wills, all of these people that I listened to as a kid, and then I listen to them now and I go, Oh that’s where I got that from. I listen to Dolly and Emmylou [Harris], and I’m like, That’s where my voice came from, that’s cool. I pick it apart. Musically, I go through stages. I’ll just listen to something for three months, one record. And then I’ll find someone else, and just dive into it, and then I’ll listen to another guy. So as it turns out, I end up having all of these certain types of music. I go, Yeah that was the first half of 2003, I remember that, when I was into that record. You know, Gillian Welch and Lyle Lovett got me into Guy [Clark] and Townes [Van Zandt] and John Prine. And then I went to Tom petty and Tom Waits, and then you go to Jet. Jack White and all of his things. You pick it apart, and you get something from everybody.
And then, people ask me what I’m influenced by now, and honestly, it’s my friends. That’s who I listen to. People who are piers of mine put out records. Turnpike Troubadours and Drew Kennedy, Jack Ingram, have you heard Jack Ingram’s new record?

CE: I have not, I’ve been told I need to.

JLW: Oh, please do. It’s so good, so good. Just he himself is inspiring. But, Courtney Patton, Jason Eady, Kaitlin [Butts], all of these people who are friends of mine. Wade Bowen. We have this little group of friends that we all send each other songs. Like, hey I wrote this song, listen to it. A few weeks ago, one of my friends sent me a song that was new, and I listened to it, and that inspired me to write this other song. And I sent it to my friends, and that song inspired them to write these songs. It’s like this web of inspiration and influence. The Texas scene, in general, is so supportive of each other. We all build each other up and we love each other and we send each other pictures of babies and go to each other’s weddings.

CE: You’re family.

JLW: We’re a family. It’s cool, and I don’t know if it’s been like that forever, but it is like that now. I’ve got a hotel room over here and I was just walking through and I was like, “Oh, Kaitlin! You slept in a tent? Come take a shower in my room.” (laughter) Like, I’ve got three girls that are in and out of my room showering because we all love each other. Yeah, I’ve got a room, take it. Come sleep, take a nap. We all help each other, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. We jump up and sing with each other.

CE: There has been a lot of talk about the lack of female representation in Nashville and on radio. do you feel that in this scene?

JLW: This scene is weird regarding girls, and it’s nobody’s fault, I don’t think. I think that the thing with girls here, and in general…the scene in Texas and OKlahoma is driven very much by beer. There are these really big venues, and the definition of success is higher than like, in the Americana scene, for example. You go around and play all of these rooms, they’re 200-seat venues, 200-seat rooms. You sell it out, that’s a really big deal. Well, in Texas, there’s a 2,000-seat venue in every market! And if you’re not Randy Rogers or Wade Bowen or Turnpike or Boland, people selling out those big venues, then you’re not considered successful. But my band, the Trishas, sold out Gruene Hall, and that’s 700 people. And we sold out the Kessler, and we fill up rooms all over the state. But if it’s a 400-seat venue, then it’s like, Oh well that was just a little room. But anywhere else in the world, that’s success. And to us, that’s success. That’s what we want to do. So the lack of female representation…there’s Kelly Willis, there’s Robyn Ludwick, all four of us Trishas individually play by ourselves, there’s Kaitlin, there’s Courtney, there’s all these new girls coming up in Texas and I don’t know, we’re fine. Like it doesn’t offend me. I don’t want to play Midnight Rodeo, that’s not what I do. My songs don’t translate in venues that are 2,000-seat, everybody have a party. Like most guys, 80% of guys…most statistics are made up on the spot, but I would say the majority of guys who start playing music start playing music because they want to impress a girl. They want to be in high school sitting on the back of a pickup truck, the one with the guitar at the campfire, to get the girl. So inherently, guys want to have attention with them with their guitar, like, Look at this solo! So that’s how they start. Then, some of them become thoughtful, poetic songwriters, and some of them go, hey let’s party. And both things are cool, both things are good, both serve a purpose. But women, we pick up a guitar and start playing songs because we have something to say. But women are thoughtful way before men are thoughtful, not that they’re not both thoughtful as grownups, but when they start…it’s therapeutic for me. Like all my women friends, they write songs because it makes them feel good, or because I have to get this out of me right now. And sure, once you figure out how to craft it, you can write a party song, and that’s awesome, that’s great. But inherently, we’re just different. And that’s cool. And it shouldn’t hurt anybody’s feelings. (laughter) You know, Courtney Patton’s thoughtful, beautiful songs that make people cry, aren’t going to be played at the Texas Hall of Fame. That crowd’s not going to say, Wait she’s playing something beautiful, let me put down this quarter pitcher of beer and go listen to her. (laughter) But in a theater or listening room, that’s where that kind of songwriting shines. And so we choose to play venues like this. And people like Evan who write both kinds, you know, he writes super thoughtful songs that also make you want to party. I don’t know how he does it, but they’re great, he can go in either one. He can go play in a listening room or he can play this other venue. So it’s song-driven, and style-driven, and where you get the crowds. Like my crowd is older. My crowd goes out at 8:00 and goes home by ten, and they buy expensive wine and drink scotch and pay a $25 ticket to be quiet and sit there and enjoy a show. And I’m not saying there aren’t guys like that too, like Kevin Welch. I’m not saying only women play listening rooms and only men play parties.

CE: But it’s the songwriting that lends itself to them.

JLW: yeah! If I played party songs, then I’d want to go to Midnight Rodeo. But I don’t. I like doing that sometimes, opening for the guys and going, “I’ll play my most up tempo 45 minutes right now, and make everybody feel good, and then Turnpike’s gonna come out.” That’s cool, but I’m not going to headline there. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, and it does not offend me. At all.

CE; OK. As I said, we do features on women because people do know them less. So what women would you recommend we listen to? Obviously Courtney.

JLW: Oh yes, do you know Courtney’s stuff yet?

CE; OH yes, I’ve reviewed it, and I love it. So who would you recommend so that we can know them?

JLW: Well, there’s Kaitlin Butts, she’s here today. There’s Kayla Ray, I’m sure you know her too. She’s awesome. There’s Kelley Mickwee, Trisha with me. There’s some new girls coming up in Texas like Jackie Darlene…I’m sure you’ve already done Kelly Willis, and the big guns…Robyn Ludwick, do you know her?

CE; Yes. I know of Kaitlin, but I’ll maybe get to hear her today. I have two other questions that are just general. What does country music mean to you, what is it for you?

JLW: Country music. Let’s see. Country music. I think the thing that is specific to it and made the genre happen, when it came to be at all, is that it’s about real life. And that is also what’s dying right now on the vine is country music that’s pushed to the masses isn’t about real life. I think there’s a shift happening back around, everything’s cyclical. But country music started for grownups. It’s about hard times and real-life situations, and that’s cool. It’s always been pop music’s for kids and country music is for grownups, bruce Robison told me that one time and I was like, Yeah that’s true! And e said, “Country music’s not for grownups anymore.” Now radio is being pushed to younger kids. That’s what’s changed, and that’s why it’s all party songs and bonfires and shit. But, whenever a song comes out that they let out, like “The House That Built Me,” for example…that song had zero production, there’s not even drums on it, and it was, like, the most successful song in a decade because it’s real! It had real emotion, and people were like, Finally a song that’s real! And authenticity, you can feel it. Country music’s always been authentic and real. And it still is, with people that are making real country music, it’s just that’s not what you hear.

CE; The last question will probably be difficult for you with all these influences. Give us one album you would pick if you could only listen to that for the rest of your life.

JLW: one? The rest of my life?

CE; You can pick three.

JLW: Three, I can do three. Tom T. Hall, The Year Clayton Delaney Died, Lyle Lovett, It’s Not Big, It’s Large, and…this is hard. I think, the Trio record. Those are my three today, ask me again tomorrow…oh wait, fourth runner-up, Tom Petty, Highway Companion.