The Ozark Mountains, and all its rivers and streams, are beyond the ideal setting for music played in real time. In real life. 10 miles from me one way there is a quaint little smattering of primitive cabins on the river. 10 miles the other way is the old, restored mill, with its own little happy gathering of dwellings.
It would seem to me that land such as this would breed such beautiful music but in terms of those making it around here, there are no terms. It’s not happening. The only strumming of a guitar the trees that quietly line the gravel road hear is that of Eric Church as an ol’ Chevy makes its way along the winding path, an occasional Natural Light thrown from the window. The flowers and birds of our woods never hear a banjo, as they damn well should. The hawthorn’s buds have never encountered a mandolin, as I believe they deserve.
What a glorious thing it would be to remedy that. How happy it would make me to gift the inanimate objects of the woods that surround us here with something as beautiful as the gifts they give to me on the days that I’m willing to take the time to see them.
I often imagine Pickering Pick on an old cabin porch. I dream about Shakey Graves sandwiched between two hundred year old oaks in a field. I pray for all 13 members of Typhoon on the side of a gravel road, serenading the unsuspecting passer-by as they hit a road cruise on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
If I were to curate a festival, up here in our woods, alongside a drearily moving river, my favorite place of all on Earth, these are some of those I’d invite. I’d pay them in exceeding gratitude, cheap American beer in cans, barbecue barbecued the best way (slowly, in case you’re wondering), and other morsels derived from the recipes of my mother and great-grandmother. I’d float them down the waterway in a canoe my father’s long-time employer made and show them the way to properly put a worm on a hook, if they aren’t already aware. I’d show them what’s left of the untouched country in America.
If I were to curate a festival up here in our woods and someone said, “Seriously dude, no Avetts or Bon Ivers. They are fucking expensive and Pitchfork likes them and we’re poor folk.”, these are the bands I’d invite…
Trampled by Turtles :: New Orleans (HearYa Sessions) [mp3]
This is a given. If I’m being honest, I’d reserve the sweetest cabin for these men. Simonett and Co. would get the bestest canoe. They would be the headliners.
There’d be a set in the morning, as biscuits are fried over an open fire and we’d rejuvenate ourselves and the band with sun and river shell hunting all day, before we asked them to play again after the sun has descended and the mosquitos and they’re much more bearable cousins, the fireflies, venture out for the music with us.
Shakey Graves :: The Waters [mp3]
Basically, one of the few goals I have in relation to this here blog in this here year, is to get Shakey into this here county.
Spirit Family Reunion :: On That Day [mp3]
While it would most certainly be a sacrilege of some type, I want to load this band in the back of an old beat up pick up truck and drive them to an unkempt cemeteries languishing in a far off field. We certainly have plenty of them here and if they were not to protest too much, I’d have them play this song for those people who would most appreciate — those who heard this kind of music way back when it was the best thing you could hear and when your grandpa was the fiddler in that band.
Punch Brothers :: Rye Whiskey [mp3]
I suspect that we could, with are immeasurable alcohol procuring skills in this county, come up with a super special, limited edition blend of Punch Brothers Rye Whiskey. It would kick the ass of whatever Jim Beam is calling rye whiskey these days, guaranteed.
Pickering Pick :: Like A River [mp3]
Open Scene: Ext. Gently Flowing River Bank In The Middle Of Slow Moving Eddy – Day. Scene begins with footage of water and we get all hipster about that shit and fuck with the focus now and then, keeping it interesting. A canoe approaches. A cooler of cheap American beer is unloaded. Cut to multiple scenes of said beer being drank on said river bank, close up of a few laughing and/or smiling faces (my friends and family will play the extras in this movie, FYI). At some point Sam (not I; also hates green eggs and ham, I imagine) plays this jam. Everyone shuts up. Then we all laugh some more and float away. I’ve not figured out how we’re gonna get a goddamned guitar down the river in a canoe yet but I’ll get there.
The Beaten Sea :: Serpent Song [mp3]
I suspect that The Beaten Sea would be the band to bring the class to this supposed, imaginary festival, what with their penchant for hats and suspenders. Which is good because with the amount of moonshine we’d drink at this shindig, we’re gonna need a bit of class.
Ha Ha Tonka :: Usual Suspects [mp3]
Being that this band is from a city very close to us, one that I used to inhabit myself, and being that this band is named after a state park just a few minutes down the road from me, they’re in.Plus, we’re gonna need some indie rock up in this bitch.
Harlowe and the Great North Woods :: Roses [mp3]
Amongst the piles of folk music I’ve listened to in the past two years, this band still holds a spot atop that stack. There is a place I envision, just down by the river and around the bend, and this band is resting on the rocks there, instruments in hand, playing this song.
Chatham County Line :: Wildwood (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]
I’m really only inviting this band because I want to convince them that they should be my neighbors. There’s a vacant house next door, I will wax on to them about the possibilities of squatting, and maybe they’ll pack a van and move here. And then I can wake up to bluegrass instead of an alarm clock. I think I can make it happen.
Typhoon :: Common Sentiment (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]
If you’re not in the boat with Typhoon, you’re a slacker and you should really rent a canoe for yourself and catch up with us as we ’round this fast eddy. 13 members strong, perfection live. A set by this band in the woods would call out to the animals and in addition to the humans jamming out, the band would no doubt be playing for the squirrels and baby deer that would head out the woods to hear what was being putting down.
Joe Purdy :: San Jose [mp3]
There is far too little talk of just how awesome Joe Purdy is on folk/indie blogs and there is far too little Joe Purdy on my g’damn mixtapes. We insert him into this festival and all is forgiven. I feel better about myself already. (As a sidenote, one year, not too long ago, I listened to this song EVERY F’ING DAY. Deal with that.)
Whiskey Folk Ramblers :: The Penitent [mp3]
When the day winds down and the sun begins to set out over our hills, it’s ray sprinkling in still through the mess of trees outside our cabin’s doors, this band will play. They will provide the second wind, the one we blame the next day for our skinny dipping in the pool up the hill and our hangovers.
Ozark Mountain Daredevils :: Chicken Train [mp3]
After a couple of days of music and camaraderie, with a smidge of debauchery tossed in for good country measure, we’d ask our hometown heroes to close out our time together. I’ve spoken at length before about what the Daredevils mean to me and what they mean to my family, but a highlight of my life would undoubtedly be this little band that was once famous among the likes of Dylan and Young to playing for just us. While this is clearly one of the craziest songs to venture forth from the 1970s and while there are better songs I could feature, nothing captures the Daredevils like ‘Chicken Train’.