You see, each year, as a cold and unforgiving winter rolls around, musicians of every caliber take to the studio, whether it be within a cozy tropical bungalow, mystic backwoods shack or polished cosmopolitan abode. They hunker down and let loose the juices of the relentless pursuit of their destiny, in search of what is rightly theirs, where late night shenanigans and early morning drives to destinations unknown are channeled and laid down into tracks spilling out the lyrical and melodic mastery of their existence.
Patrick Sweany — “Daytime Turned To Nighttime”
The six-strings gone electric madness that is Patrick Sweany once again proves why he is one the most exhilarating acts out there, onstage and in the studio, and of any genre. Period. A intoxicating blend of Howlin’ Wolf, Bob Seger and Junior Kimbrough, Sweany is the modern day epitome of what rock-n-roll is supposed to be — seductive, manic and razor sharp, where you almost feel you have to tiptoe subconsciously around the broken bottles and hearts of this mesmerizing album. Honestly, there’s something so timeless about Sweany’s sound, and yet he’s always got one foot in creative progress, where the sands of times never seem to cover his intent and drive.
Key Tracks: “First Of The Week” “Back Home” “Nothing Happened At All”
Charlie Parr — “Stumpjumper”
Hailing from the frigid January winds and frying pan hot summers of Duluth, Minnesota, Parr is one man, but with a sound of a steadfast army. Modestly hunched over his guitar, he’s a force of change, as the depths of his mind howls out of his throat and shoot out of his fingertips like a lightning storm. His words speak hard truths of America, of mankind, and of an uncertain future we all face on this rock hurtling through the dark abyss. And yet, as much sorrow as Parr paints with his presence, there is this strong thread of mortal beauty and essential optimism running brightly through his magnetic tone.
Key Tracks: “Over The Red Cedar” “Stumpjumper” “Temperance River Blues”
Wilco — “Star Wars”
The masters of “catch me if you can.” Just when you think you can pin down or pigeonhole Jeff Tweedy and Co., the Chicago rockers slip through your grasp, only to pop up when you least expect it, and in their hands, the latest gift to a world of listeners jaded by pop radio airplay and a less than mediocre mainstream. This record is urgent and raw, as if they took the recordings, strapped them to a rocket ship and shot them into outer space, all in an effort to absorb the sonic nature of the cosmos.
Key Tracks: “You Satellite” “Where Do I Begin” “King Of You”
Aaron Lee Tasjan — “In The Blazes”
This East Nashville troubadour plays in as many national tour bands as there are selections of this latest release. Tasjan is known not only for his intricate and calculated guitar playing, he also is, in many folks’ opinions (including mine), the finest singer-songwriter on the scene nowadays. He has a Dylan-esque output of material, where one could easily assume he gets up every morning and has two songs written before his third cup of coffee. But, the key here is, those creations contain within them words, phrases and chords that his peers would consider gold — for Tasjan, it’s another piece of his being broken off for all to immerse themselves in. It’s another day in the office for him, another mile down the road at the mercy of his talents, which are as limitless as his vision.
Key Tracks: “The Trouble With Drinking” “E.N.S.A.A.T.” “$66 Blues”
1 The 14th annual RailFest will be held Sept. 5-6 at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad depot in Bryson City.
2 The Seven Clans Rodeo will be held Sept. 4-5 at the intersection of U.S. 19/441 in Cherokee. Gates open at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Rodeos begin at 8 p.m.
3 The Classic Wineseller (Waynesville) will have The Blue Ribbon Healers (gypsy jazz/swanky-tonk) Sept. 4.
4 Nantahala Brewing Company (Bryson City) will have The Dirty Soul Revival (rock/blues) Sept. 5.
5 There will be a wine pairing dinner at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at Evolution Wine Kitchen in Sylva.