Tag Archives: Reckless Kelly

Reflecting On: Reckless Kelly – Under the Table & Above the Sun

Reckless Kelly is the band that initially got me into the red dirt and independent country scene. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to discuss them in a Random Reflections article, but I’m fixing that as of today. This album is not my favorite by the band, but it does feature “Nobody’s Girl”, which is the song that first captured my attention.

Release Date: 2003

Style: Red Dirt, rock country

People Who Might Like This Album: People who don’t mind a little rock mixed with country, those who appreciate a fiddle solo

Standout Tracks: “Nobody’s Girl”, “Desolation Angels”, “Vancouver”, “You Don’t Want Me Around”

This album starts out great. When you hear the opening guitar and drums of “Let’s Just Fall”, you’re instantly treated to what a classic, rocking Reckless Kelly song sounds like. The lyrics are clever too, they go “I know we could both fall flat, let’s just fall. Leave it at that”. It’s not a standout track, but I do really like it. “Nobody’s Girl” is one of my favorite songs by the band. As I said above, it’s the one that hooked me, but the fact that it’s held up for me over years of listening is a testament to its strength. It’s all about how a woman keeps men at a distance due to how her father left her mother without a word. Now she’s bitter and refuses to let anyone get close. When I was showing Megan this song, I brought up my favorite lines. “Everybody wants you but you don’t wanna care, so you keep em at a distance with the frown you wear”. That part is just super-catchy, and it never gets old for me. Another classic that just so happens to be on this album is “Desolation Angels”. It’s all about a traveling man who is looking for more out of life, but who is also trying to run from anything permanent, or harsh feelings. . “Wealth and matter has never made much sense to me, it’s bought a lot of souls but never has it set one free” is yet another example of the great writing these guys put out. Also, I love the fiddle on this song!

“Vancouver” is also great. There are a lot of cities mentioned within the lyrics, but it just makes the song more relatable to me. I like that it’s slower, and a love song. It really shows off how vulnerable the band can get. The man in the lyrics wonders where his love is as he’s getting drunk, and she’s off somewhere breaking hearts. “You Don’t Want me Around” is another faster song. It involves a man who wants to be with a girl, but she doesn’t share the same feelings. This one isn’t as deep as a song like “Desolation Angels”, but I just really like the music behind this one, and it’s catchy.

Like I said before, this is not my favorite album by Reckless Kelly. This one has a couple of their best songs ever, though. Also, as it features the track that really got me into the music that is my most favorite today, I figured it was the perfect thing to cover. If you have never looked into Reckless Kelly, I think everyone should give them a chance.

Buy the Album on Amazon

Country Music vs. Good Music: Does Genre Matter?

There has been a lot of talk lately about genre lines and how important they really are. Does it matter that an album sounds country if the lyrics are bland? Is hearing songs rife with fiddle and steel on the radio really an improvement in itself, or have we gone so far that country-sounding music is praised over good music in general? Do we overlook artists like David Nail and Eric Church, both of whom have put out solid country albums in the past year, while propping up more traditional artists like Mo Pitney and William Michael Morgan just because they sound a certain way? All of this boils down to one question: Does genre really matter at all?

Well, that is a difficult question to answer, and there are differing viewpoints on all sides. This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write because of the sheer number of people who may disagree, and I could ignore it, but I feel inclined to address it, and to be honest with myself and all of you. Honesty is absent everywhere in music right now, and that is one of the driving factors behind Country Exclusive’s existence, so I am going to do my best to provide it.

The simple answer is no, genre doesn’t matter. Good music is good music regardless of who is singing or what genre it is labeled. This is why I gave Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller two different grades–one as a country album, and one as simply an album. It makes a pretty good pop album. Kelsea Ballerini made a decent pop album too and then sent the singles to country radio–and not the best singles either, I might add, but that’s a different story. I wrote that Courtney Marie Andrews defied genre lines in Honest Life, and while not being the most country album, it is the best album I have reviewed to date. Good music can and does come out of every genre, and that is what we should be looking for the most.

To add to that, I want to say that country can be good without having fiddle and steel. I have written in several Red dirt album reviews a sentiment like, “This isn’t the album to buy if you want fiddle and steel,” followed by praise of the album. Red Dirt has a raw honesty that often surpasses genre, and this is evident in the massive sonic difference between Jason Eady and Reckless Kelly, both of whom have produced an inordinate amount of great music during their respective careers. There’s good pop country too, like the aforementioned Carrie Underwood and David Nail. Eric Church produced one of the better albums of 2015, both musically and lyrically, and you won’t find fiddle or steel anywhere on it. I have written a great deal about Maddie & Tae, advising strict traditionalists to give them a chance because they were bringing country back to radio, even if it was pop country. I praised Aubrib Sellers and her debut album which she labeled “garage country.” I’m far from a country purist, ready to criticize something immediately because it isn’t what country “should” sound like.

However, this idea of good music first has been taken too far. William Michael Morgan got a #1 at radio with “I Met a Girl,” which, while indeed lyrically weak, actually sounded country. It’s a step in the right direction as much as the songwriting on Eric Church’s album or the CMA wins of Chris stapleton. Why? Because something actually resembling country can be heard on country radio for the first time in years. But if genre doesn’t matter, why are we even celebrating? Surely Morgan’s “I Met a Girl” is just more shitty music with fiddle and steel.

It’s because truthfully, genre can’t be ignored completely. If you went to a bookstore and found the books arranged in categories of “good” and “bad,” this wouldn’t help you find a book at all. It’s because these terms are subjective. If you wanted to read crime fiction, you would go to the section marked crime fiction, and from there, you could decide which books you wanted to read. If you found romance in the crime fiction section, you would say the book has been put in the wrong place. Of course, there are books that have elements of both and can therefore be classified as both. Now, let’s apply this to music. Crime fiction might be country, romance might be pop, and the two might blend to make pop country. A book containing many different elements might be labeled just “fiction” or “literature”–in music, this could be Americana, with its blending of many styles. There are probably good books in all the different genres, but since you came looking for crime fiction, you aren’t going to be satisfied with a good romance novel. In the same way, if you want to hear traditional country, you won’t find it in the pop country of Carrie Underwood, the country rock of Eric Church, or the Americana of Jason Isbell.

Therefore, when an artist like Morgan comes along, who actually sounds traditional, it’s right to be excited that he’s getting airplay. It’s right to fight to hear more country on country radio–in fact, many of us ran to underground country simply because of the lack of country on country radio. And it’s right to want to see mainstream Nashville and country radio embrace people like Sturgill Simpson and Margo Price. We can run to Americana and give up on the mainstream altogether, but no matter how you look at it, Americana isn’t country. Some of it is excellent, but it still isn’t country. It isn’t the music we fell in love with, the music we miss. We should praise music of substance regardless of how it sounds, but the lack of country on country radio is just an important a problem as the lack of substance in the music.

I daresay the majority, if not all of us, fell in love with country music, at least in part, by listening to country radio. Maybe you grew up with the legends like Haggard and Nelson. Maybe you remember Keith Whitley and Randy Travis, or maybe you miss the sounds of Alan Jackson, George Strait, and Vince Gill. Maybe you’re like me, and the first country you ever heard was the Dixie Chicks. Regardless, you heard all of them because they were played on country radio and available to the masses, just like their pop country counterparts. Pop country has always been around, but never has it replaced and eradicated the traditional as it has in recent years. Wherever your nostalgia comes from, you fell out of love with country radio after it lost the sound and substance you were drawn to. Today, even though the substance is slowly returning, there is still a noticeable lack of the sound. People growing up with country radio today might associate country with Luke Bryan or Thomas Rhett, both of whom lack the sound and the substance. Or maybe they’ll associate country with Carrie Underwood and Eric Church–they will recognize the substance but lose the sound. But until Morgan and Pardi, there hasn’t been a traditional sound being carried to the masses in years. Pop country isn’t a bad thing, but the complete elimination of the traditional is a terrible thing, and a dangerous thing for country as we know it. Therefore, when an artist like Morgan breaks through and gets a #1 single, we should all be celebrating. There is still much work to be done in Nashville, both in sound and substance, but Morgan, and others like him, are bringing hope for everyone who thought traditional country was lost. He’s not pop country, he’s not country rock, he’s not Americana. He’s just country. And I miss country. I fell in love with country. Country is my passion as a fan and my focus as a reviewer. It’s what I’ll always love the most, even though I praise and listen to plenty of good music from other genres, and it seemed, not long ago, that the music I loved would be lost forever in the mainstream. I am nothing but glad that Morgan and Pardi have broken through, and that young people out there listening to country radio once again have the opportunity to fall in love with real country the way I did. As I said, there is still a lot of work to be done, but let’s all recognize this for what it is, a positive step, and be glad for how far we’ve come.

Concert Review: The 4th Annual Medicine Stone

Last weekend, I had the great opportunity to attend Medicine Stone, known by its web site as “the fastest-growing Red Dirt experience in Oklahoma.” Started in 2013 and organized by Turnpike Troubadours and Jason Boland, Medicine Stone is a three-day event held on the Illinois River in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, featuring Texas/Red Dirt music in all its forms–from the more traditional country sound of Jamie Lin Wilson to the rock sound of Cody Canada and the Departed, and everything in between. The sounds in Red dirt music and at Medicine stone are quite diverse, but there is a common thread running through it all, the quality of the music and the care that these artists put into their songs.

It was impossible to see everyone, due to artists playing in different locations at the same time, but I tried to experience as much as possible. I’ll only cover the artists I heard, but here is a link to the complete lineup of artists. It is quite an impressive and diverse list.

The event kicked off on Thursday with artists playing in a bar on site before the main stage area opened. I was impressed with my first exposure to Bleu Edmondson, who performed his Red Dirt hits such as “$50 and a Flask of Crown.” Shane Smith & the Saints, of Austin, Texas, opened on the main stage–with their harmonies, smart lyrics, and unique sound, they were definitely one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Shane Smith mentioned that they had come to Medicine Stone in 2015 and played in the bar, and that they had been invited to play on the main stage this year because of the tremendous amount of positive feedback and requests to hear more. I think they have a bright future in the Texas scene, and I highly recommend getting to know this band. William Clark Green and Stoney LaRue followed, both of whom have been established in the Red Dirt scene for years. Green performed many of his hits, as well as snippets of the Beatles and the Rolling stones. Stoney laRue made his mark on the event with what he described as the song that made his career, “Oklahoma Breakdown.” There is something special about hearing this live in Oklahoma, with thousands of fellow Oklahomans all singing along to it. The night closed with the excellent Randy Rogers Band, a more laidback, country sound after the rock leanings of both William Clark Green and Stoeny LaRue. The thing that impressed me the most about the Randy Rogers Band was how much their live music sounds like their recordings; it is a testament to the commitment to live music throughout this subgenre of music.

Friday offered the best lineup, and the attendance reflected this. Before the main stage opened, I had the opportunity to see two artists I’d never heard of, Kaitlin Butts and Midnight River Choir. Kaitlin Butts is a name you should check out if you like more traditional country–she sang many times with just her guitar, and when her band broke into Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” she had the entire crowd dancing. Midnight River Choir is a name you should check out if you like the more country rock sound of Texas music; I regretted that their performance overlapped Kaitlin’s because most people missed one or the other, and both were unsung standouts of Medicine Stone.

The main stage opened that night with the increasingly popular Jamie Lin Wilson, whom I also had the pleasure of interviewing during the festival; you can read that interview on Country Exclusive in the coming days! Wilson’s set was the most country of the weekend on the main stage, and a highlight of her time onstage was the murder song “Roses by the Dozen,” before which she advised us, “If you need someone to come creep out your festival, just call me.” Micky & the Motorcars followed, bringing a mix of country and rock, with more upbeat material. Reckless Kelly, another household name in the Red Dirt scene, came out next and performed many songs from their new album, Sunset Motel, released Friday and available for the first time at Medicine Stone. This band was another standout, singing everything from Merle Haggard to Bruce Springsteen covers and doing justice to both. They easily offered the most diverse sound within their set, and because of this, everyone could have found something to like from them. The Americana band American Aquarium, from Raleigh, North Carolina, followed; they seemed slightly out of place among the many Texas and Oklahoma-based artists, and theirs was the only set that I didn’t enjoy throughout. However, the quality and care in their music was much the same, and they showed it on highlights like “Losing Side of Twenty-Five.” The lead singer, BJ Barham, stated that “if we can get 6,000 people to come to the middle of fucking nowhere just to listen to some music, it proves people still care about music.” The night closed with Turnpike Troubadours, and I could have devoted an entire article to their performance alone–all I can say about them is please, please go listen to them live. Nothing I can say will do them justice. From the moment they kicked off with “Doreen,” until they closed with “Long Hot Summer Day,” they had the attention of everyone in the crowd. I heard a lot of great music each day, but the Turnpike Troubadours are on another level.

There were several artists on Saturday that I didn’t experience. I got to hear Cody Canada and the Departed, the most rock-leaning group there, and probably in the whole Red Dirt scene. It impressed me how many different sounds the organizers of Medicine Stone incorporated into the event. The Departed played some new songs and some of the Cross Canadian Ragweed hits. Also, I just want to point out, as rock influenced as they are, fiddle and steel were featured prominently in several of their songs–take note, mainstream Nashville. The night closed with Jason Boland & the Stragglers, another band you should absolutely see live. They, like Randy Rogers Band, sound very similar live to their recordings.

Texas/Red dirt is very hard to define. It can be country or rock and is usually a unique mix of the two. Cody Canada said onstage that “it is a community of people who share each other’s songs and love for music.” However you define it, there is something common in all of it, raw honesty in songs, the quality of the material, and the unwavering commitment to live music. Turnpike Troubadours and Jason Boland have accomplished a great thing by creating an event to celebrate this unique subgenre, and anyone with a love for country, rock, or just real, quality music should consider attending Medicine stone.

Texas Music From Oklahoma: A Look at the Texas Music Chart (October 19th)

Texas Music Chart

1. Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen–“Lady Bug” (up 2)
2. Bart Crow–“Life Comes at You Fast”
3. Curtis Grimes–“Smile That Smile” (up 1)
4. Casey Donahew Band–“Loser” (up 1)
5. Mike Ryan–“Girls I Date” (up 2)
6. Kevin Fowler & Deryl Dodd–“Damn This Ol’ Honky Tonk Dream” (down 5)
7. The Statesboro Revue–“Undone” (down 1)
8. TJ Broscoff–“Phone Calls” (up 1)
9. Josh Grider–“You Dream I’ll Drive” (up 2)
10. Stoney LaRue–“Easy She Comes” (up 3)
11. Roger Creager & Cody Johnson–“If You Had to Choose” (up 4)
12. Jon Wolfe–“Don’t It Feel Good” (up 7)
13. Mario Flores–“Beer Time” (up 3)
14. Uncle Lucius–“Don’t Own the Right”
15. Saints Eleven–“I Don’t” (up 3)
16. Reckless Kelly–“Real Cool Hand” (down 8)
17. Turnpike Troubadours–“Down Here” (down 7)
18. Zane Williams–“She Is” (up 2)
19. JB and the Moonshine Band–“Shotgun, Rifle, and a .45” (down 2)
20. Chance Anderson Band–“245 Miles” (up 1)
21. Jason James–“I’ve Been Drinkin’ More” (up 1)
22. William Clark Green–“Ringling Road” (up 5)
23. Josh Ward–“Whiskey & Whitley” (up 16)
24. Jason Boland & The Stragglers–“Holy Relic Sale” (up 6)
25. Dalton Domino–“Jesus & Handbags”
26. Luke Robinson–“Roses on the Radio” (up 3)
27. Green River Ordinance–“Red Fire Night” (up 13)
28. Miles Williams–“Teasin’ Me” (down 16) [biggest loser]
29. Casey Berry–“Blood of the Lamb” (up 2)
30. Cameran Nelson–“Nothing’s Got Nothin'” (up 18) [biggest gainer]
31. Bri Bagwell–“My Boots” (up 2)
32. Ray Johnston Band–“Small Town Square”
33. American Aquarium–“Losing Side of Twenty-Five” (up 3)
34. The Damn Quails–“Just a Little While”
35. Cody Jinks–“Loud and Heavy” (up 2)
36. Micky & the Motorcars–“Tonight we Ride” (down 1)
37. Pat Green–“While I Was Away” (down 11)
38. Cody Joe Hodges–“One More Drink” (up 4)
39. Paul Thorn–“Everybody Needs Somebody” (down 1)
40. Josh Abbott Band–“Amnesia” (up 3)
41. Jason Cassidy–“Rest of Forever” (up 4)
42. Aaron Watson–“Getaway Truck” (entering top 50)
43. Blue Water Highway Band–“Medicine Man” (up 4)
44. Kaleb McIntire–“Ozark Mountain Stomp” (down 16)
45. Breelan Angel–“She Made Your Bed” (up 1)
46. Tori Martin–“Woman Up” (down 5)
47. Prophets and Outlaws–“Country Music Gold” (entering top 50)
48. Parker McCollum–“High Above the Water” (up 1)
49. Folk Family Revival–“I Drew a Line” (entering top 50)
50. Zach Coffey–“Love Will Lead me Back to You” (re-entering top 50)

  • New #1: “Lady Bug”
  • next week’s #1 prediction: “Life Comes at You Fast”
  • Aaron Watson is back on the charts with “Get Away Truck,” entering at #42

Source: Texas Music Chart

Texas Music From Oklahoma: A Look at the Texas Music Chart (October 12th)

Texas Music Chart

1. Kevin Fowler & Deryl Dodd–“Damn This Ol’ Honky Tonk Dream” (up 4)
2. Bart Crow–“Life Comes at You Fast”
3. Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen–“Lady Bug” (up 3)
4. Curtis Grimes–“Smile That Smile”
5. Casey Donahew Band–“Loser” (up 2)
6. The Statesboro Revue–“Undone” (up 2)
7. Mike Ryan–“Girls I Date” (up 2)
8. Reckless Kelly–“Real Cool Hand” (down 7)
9. TJ Broscoff–“Phone Calls” (up 3)
10. Turnpike Troubadours–“Down Here” (down 7)
11. Josh Grider–“You Dream I’ll Drive” (up 2)
12. Miles Williams–“Teasin’ Me” (down 1)
13. Stoney LaRue–“Easy She Comes” (up 2)
14. Uncle Lucius–“Don’t Own the Right” (up 2)
15. Roger Creager & Cody Johnson–“If You Had to Choose” (up 3)
16. Mario Flores–“Beer Time” (up 3)
17. JB and the Moonshine Band–“Shotgun, Rifle, and a .45”
18. Saints Eleven–“I Don’t” (up 6)
19. Jon Wolfe–“Don’t It Feel Good” (up 1)
20. Zane Williams–“She Is” (up 2)
21. Chance Anderson Band–“245 Miles” (up 6)
22. Jason James–“I’ve Been Drinkin’ More” (up 1)
23. Kyle Park–“What Goes Around Comes Around” (down 9)
24. Cory Morrow–“Old With You” (down 14)
25. Dalton Domino–“Jesus & Handbags” (up 3)
26. Pat Green–“While I Was Away” (down 1)
27. William Clark Green–“Ringling Road” (up 2)
28. Kaleb McIntire–“Ozark Mountain Stomp” (up 3)
29. Luke Robinson–“Roses on the Radio” (up 6)
30. Jason Boland & the Stragglers–“Holy Relic Sale” (up 7)
31. Casey Berry–“Blood of the Lamb” (up 2)
32. Ray Johnston Band–“Small Town Square”
33. Bri Bagwell–“My Boots” (up 8) [biggest gainer]
34. The Damn Quails–“Just a Little While” (up 2)
35. Micky & the Motorcars–“Tonight we Ride” (down 1)
36. American Aquarium–“Losing Side of Twenty-Five” (up 2)
37. Cody Jinks–“Loud and Heavy” (up 3)
38. Paul Thorn–“Everybody Needs Somebody” (up 5)
39. Josh Ward–“Whiskey & Whitley” (entering top 50)
40. Green River Ordinance–“Red Fire Night” (up 7)
41. Tori Martin–“Woman Up” (down 2)
42. Cody Joe Hodges–“One More Drink” (up 2)
43. Josh Abbott Band–“Amnesia” (entering top 50)
44. Cody Johnson–“Proud” (down 2)
45. Jason Cassidi–“Rest of Forever” (entering top 50)
46. Breelan Angel–“She Made Your Bed” (down 1)
47. Blue Water Highway Band–“Medicine Man” (down 1)
48. Cameran Nelson–“Nothing’s Got Nothin'”
49. Parker McCollum–“High Above the Water”
50. Josh Fuller–“On the Radio” (re-entering top 50)

  • new #1: “Damn This Ol’ Honky Tonk Dream”
  • next week’s #1 prediction: “Lady Bug
  • Josh Abbott Band’s “Amnesia” enters at #43 this week

Source: Texas Music Chart