THRIFT STORE COWBOYS
Thrift Store Cowboys fourth studio album Light Fighter could be called their post-arson period, as the band wrote the record after a stranger torched a trailer filled with merchandise and parked next to lead singer Daniel Fluitt's bedroom, nearly taking his life. Produced by Craig Schumacher (Calexico, Neko Case, Iron and Wine) Light-Fighter's indie-rock shapeshifts through ambient and Gothic western music for songs that touch on death, loss, fear, redemption, the Spanish Civil War and West Texas ghost stories. All buoyed by soaring violin, draped against bottom-ended guitar and pedal steel sounds that the spaghetti western composed Ennio Morricone might envy.
The Lubbock based quintet, which includes Fluitt, Colt Miller, Clint Miller, Kris Killingsworth, Cory Ames and Amanda Shires on fiddle and vocals, have been touring together for over a decade after meeting at the musical South Plains College. They are neither of the typical Texas-based types of bands - a country-rock melange or strictly indie rock. As Buddy Magazine points out, "Thrift Store Cowboys' feel is more, for a lack of better description, gypsy desert music - the free sound of spacey, heat-induced delirium...a sure, confident sound backed by thoughtful vision." Schumacher produced their 2006 release Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping, of which Austin Sound said, "the album is to country music what Jim Jarmusch's film Deadman was to the western."
LIKE MANY OF HIS WEST TEXAS CONTEMPORARIES, DANIEL MARKHAM HAS OFTEN BEEN ABLE TO TAP INTO THE ISOLATING, YET CALM LONESOMENESS OF THE PANHANDLE.
Whether it be Thrift Store Cowboys and Amanda Shires of the last decade, Terry Allen and The Flatlanders of the late ’70s, or Buddy Holly and Wink-native Roy Orbison of the late ’50s, they all the ability to capture the parting winds of the flatlands and the blistering sun of the West Texas deserts. It was engrained in their sound–becoming signature for each in their own shades.
The now Denton-based Markham, a decade in as a songwriter and musician, presents his third solo full-length album, Disintegrator. Third. In ways, that’s a misleading description. In reality, it marks his 12th release–following Waiting to Derail’s self-titled, One Wolf’s One Wolf I and One Wolf II: Secret of the Wolf, Larry Legion and Forest of Swords under the Larry Legion persona, solo works Demonstrations, Hexagons, Ruined My Life, Pretty Bitchin’, and the collaborative efforts of Smoke Paint with Tony Ferraro and Harmony in Hell with Claire Morales.
Doug Burr has a habit of mulling things over, kneading thoughts around until they yield something of value. Burr is soft-spoken, bespectacled and rangy. Yet his placid manner belies the storm of paranoia, longing and wonder agitating at his core. The singer-songwriter from Denton, Texas, is often lauded for his candor, a reputation earned through no small labor. Burr is a disciple of the hard way that weaves between easy answers, buffeted, always pressing toward the truth.
Four records in, Burr remains true to that code, digging into everything ugly and gorgeous that comprises humanity. You can hear it on the Gospel-inspired Sickle and the Sheaves (2003) and on Burr’s acclaimed sophomore follow-up On Promenade (2007). In 2009, he released an album of Biblical Psalms set to original music called The Shawl. His last work, O Ye Devastator(2012), is an album of both personal confession and ingenious storytelling, as grave in its estimation of human frailty as it is amazed at human loveliness reclaimed.
Now Doug Burr returns with a new album, Pale White Dove. While Devastator, dabbled with heavier sounds, Pale White Dove swings the sledgehammer with abandon. Burr sounds like a man whose noted patience is worn to a raw bundle of nerves.The album’s aggression is cut with beautiful country tunes “Never Gonna Be Young Again.” But the soul of Pale White Dove is the electrified “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning” which is soaked in Southern Gothic and delivered in a fevered prophecy. The song, and much of the rest of the album, recounts a world tangled in its own violent scapegoating, hopeless save for supernatural intervention. For this reason, Pale White Dove is apt for this age, marred as it is by violence in word and deed.
Ferd is a man and a band creating a fresh and vibrant interpretation of American music. Ferd is set to release their first album, Feelin’ Like the Wind,in 2022. The album is a musical journey into the toils of joy we all find while stumbling our way to forgiveness.
Ferd the band is nearly 12 years in the making. Ferd Moyse first met banjo playin Matt Morelock while performing with the Hackensaw Boys. Ferd met Chris Stevens years later when their paths crossed with the Hackensaw Boys. Stevens came up in Ohio river valley and performed his way east over to Virginia, where he played bass with the Hackensaws. The fall of 2021 saw these dots connect and the three began playin together as a band known as “Ferd.”
Feeling Like the Wind will mark Ferd’s first album of original material. Recorded in the fall of 2021 by Jon Atkinson of Big Tone Records, album smacks with vibrancy. All tracks were recorded live to tape using pre-1940’s gear meticulously restored and maintained by Atkinson. The album features Haitian cellist and singer Leyla McCalla as special guest on four tracks.
The group began touring in early 2022. Stevens plays the big bass, Morelock on the banjo and Moyse fiddling and singing while stomping on an old Samsonite suitcase like a drum. The sound is driving, jubilant, original and fun.
Matt Woods is a product of Appalachia. You can hear his East Tennessee roots tangled in the lines of his songs and it is through this filter he distills the world, both external and internal, into his unique brand of songwriting. You can call it Americana, folk rock, even country music but no matter what it’s called it is, at it core, honest and heartfelt. Spending most of his time on the road, either engaging listeners as a solo artist or enrapturing them with his band, Matt Woods and the Natural Disasters, he would say, if asked, that he is “just trying to share some truth and get along.”
2019 brings the release of Woods’ 4th full length studio album, Natural Disasters, and an impressive touring schedule to support it with across the US and Europe, the latter of which having become a yearly endeavor since the release of How To Survive in 2016. Natural Disasters, produced by Joey Kneiser (Glossary and Austin Lucas), shares some insight to the realities of our place in time as perceived through Woods’ eyes and enriched by the talents of Adam Meisterhans on electric guitars, Jeremy Mackinder on bass guitar, PJ Schreiner on drums, and Mike Webb (Chris Stapleton, Poco) on keys with Lance Howell (Big Shoals) providing harmonies throughout.
Along the way, he has shared the stage with the likes of Chris Knight, Black Oak Arkansas, Bobby Bare, Frank Turner, Roger Alan Wade, Zac Brown, Drivin' n' Cryin', Will Hoge, Roger Clyne (of The Refreshments), CAKE, Robbie Fulks, The White Buffalo, The Black Lillies and others.
Rebecca Rego has been a Midwest singer-songwriter, recording artist, and producer for over 15 years. She has written and recorded eight albums and toured the country many times over, solo and with her Chicago-based band The Trainmen.
In 2014, a mysterious package arrived on her doorstep. In it was Lucia Berlin’s short story collection, “A Manual For Cleaning Women.” The note simply said: “I think you’ll love this.” As Rego began picking through the dark, witty, romantic prose, the stories slowly began to seep into her consciousness and affect her songwriting. After a few years, she realized she had created a unique set of songs based on Berlin’s book.
In the fall of 2019, Rego traveled to Northern California, where a handful of Berlin’s stories take place, and recorded six of these songs at Panoramic Studio in Stinson Beach with engineer Beau Sorenson (Death Cab For Cutie, tUnE-yArDs,) backed by multi-instrumentalist J. Tom Hnatow (Horse Feathers, Ringo Starr,) and Alysia Kraft, Staci Foster, and Tobias Bank of Fort Collins, CO based band Whippoorwill. The resulting album “Songs For Cleaning Women Pt. 1” will be released November 11, 2020. The release will be celebrated with a livestreaming performance during Grammy Award-winning music ensemble Eighth Blackbird’s “Chicago Artists Workshop” series.
As an independent female artist, Rego is influenced by the unflinching, raw honesty found in Berlin’s art. Many of Berlin’s stories are semi-autobiographical accounts of her time working blue-collar jobs, raising four children as a single mother, and dealing with her own alcoholism. Berlin died in 2004, never receiving critical acclaim in her own lifetime. Rego’s goal with this release is to pay homage to Berlin’s stories and introduce new audiences to her work.