The Okee Dokee Brothers,
The TVD First Date

“By no means are we vinyl experts. We were born in the mid-eighties, so we listened to cassette tapes during our childhoods and CDs for the majority of our teenage years. Like many of today’s twenty-somethings, it wasn’t until we dusted off our parents’ record collections in our late teens that we started to understand what listening to a vinyl album really meant.

Justin and I both recognized that this “new-to-us” form of listening was a much richer sensory experience than what we were used to. The music sounded better and more authentic, you could wrap your arms around the covers, and the liner notes were big enough to actually read!

In college, we started hosting listening parties. Much like movie nights, we would invite friends over, turn down the lights, and instead of watching a film, we’d all close our eyes and turn on the record player. Here are some highlights of what we listened to then, and what we continue to listen to nowadays.”

Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band, Greatest Hits | This one was a life changer. 4 sides – 24 songs. We had listened to a few of their tunes on CDs and MP3s, but listening to Kweskin on vinyl puts you in the right context to understand their wacked-out sense of humor and pitchy sound tricks. The band goes for that warped sound anyway, so hearing the music struggle through an old player is delightfully imperfect.

One of their tracks, “Turn the Record Over” at the end of side 1 (on “See Reverse Side for Title”/another record), never did make much sense in the middle of a CD (Listen here.) The songwriting, arrangements, harmonies, and overall energy are right up our alley. Although, we might have been a bit biased due to our huge crushes on Maria (D’Amato) Muldaur. Highlights: “Rag Mama,” “Jug Band Music,” “Ukulele Lady,” “I’m a Woman,” “Blues in the Bottle.”

Bob Dylan, Another Side of Bob Dylan | Out of the many characters Dylan played (plays) in his life, this album has always seemed to be the one that captured his most honest, real, and youthful self. He’s at the height of his confidence as an early folk songwriter. It’s only his fourth album, and the second he put out in 1964.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that one person could fit so much into a record. Take the 7 plus minute “Chimes of Freedom,” every line is a subject for a novel. I’ve been in love with Ramona (“To Ramona”), and the Gypsy gal from “Spanish Harlem Incident” more than my girlfriend would appreciate. “Ballad in Plain D” seems like something Dylan didn’t mean to put out—it’s too honest, and let’s us in almost too much. That’s what keeps bringing us back to this album, we’ve always longed to understand him, probably just because we want to write an album this good.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Will the Circle be Unbroken | This project, put together by the up-and-coming Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1972, features all the most important musicians in Bluegrass, Old-time, Folk, and Country music that were still around at the time (most are gone now).

It also features songs that every American musician should know. This was a gem to listen to in high school, when we were just discovering the banjo and guitar. We always loved the way this record left a lot of talking in between songs. Made us feel like we were right there in the studio with Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, and Mother Maybelle Carter. They’ll be talking and Doc would ask Maybelle if she remembers “…how they used to end that old song,” and she’ll say “Well, we used to start it like this…” and everybody’s in, playing right on key. It’s amazing how creative you can get with records—I assure you, you can’t achieve that kind of stuff on a single on iTunes.

John Denver, Back Home Again | Our parents were huge John Denver fans, so when we inherited all his records, we became huge John Denver fans. Not just by default (we inherited a lot of Peter Paul and Mary as well and never delved too deep there), we were genuinely taken with him. He was a guy who stood for something and a songwriter who expressed his passion and love for the outdoors.

As The Okee Dokee Brothers, we write adventure albums that try to inspire families to get outside and explore nature. John Denver was our first big inspiration when it came to beautiful nature songs. Back Home Again is a record that always reminds us of our Colorado home and the songs never get old. We used to cover “Grandma’s Feather Bed,” “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” “This Old Guitar,” and I always keep “Annie’s Song” in my back pocket for campfire singalongs.

Roger Miller, King of the Road | The minute we spun this record, our music changed for good (or for worse!) As a folk/country songwriter, you can’t listen to Roger Miller without picking up some of his quirky nuances.

The man is a character with incredible timing, a completely unique sense of humor, and a gentleness at times that can break your heart. He walks the line between your goofy uncle and a brilliant poet. That’s a good line to walk. We quote his vocal lines that follow those playful guitar riffs on our new record.

Emmylou Harris, Roses in the Snow | This is our favorite Emmylou record, maybe because it falls on the bluegrass side of her country twang.

Hearing her voice on vinyl is a treat, especially along with Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Jerry Douglas. The tunes are everlasting and true.

Justin Townes Earle, The Good Life | Alright, enough of that old stuff. Here’s a “new” record we bought after downloading the songs from iTunes. We’re big fans of JTE, but this specific record is special and it deserves to be heard on vinyl. I don’t know how he did it, but this delinquent kid wrote a timeless county album that stands up next to any Hank Williams album.

Maybe that delinquency is part of the country recipe. You can hear ups and downs, struggles, heartbreak, and loneliness in every line – and somehow it sounds classic, not cliche. There’s something perfect about the first two tracks’ ability to contradict yet compliment themselves, 1. “Hard Livin’,” 2. “The Good Life.” We love every track on this album.
Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing

We’re delighted to debut the video for the title track from The Okee Dokee Brothers’ forthcoming full-length release,  Through the Woods, an album for kids and families, which arrives in stores on May 20th.

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