Author Archives: Michelle Evans

Geoff Koch:
The TVD Interview

Okay, so I really like Nashville-based musician Geoff Koch. He’s got a pretty voice and plays pretty songs, and I like him, and if you like pretty voices and pretty songs, I highly recommend giving him a listen.

Koch was one of a dozen musicians to participate in a Chevrolet (yes, as in the car company) documentary called The Chevy Music Showcase. Koch has three albums you can give a whirl: Throwing Rocks at Your Ghost, Live at Lucas School House, and If It Feels Good Don’t Do It, the latter of which was produced by Wilco’s and Uncle Tupelo’s Ken Coomer, who also played drums on the album. I caught up with Koch by phone for a quick chat just before his set at the Casbah in Durham, North Carolina.

I am new to you and your music, and since I may not be the only one, tell me about yourself.

Well, I grew up in St. Louis, MO.

Oh, I love it there.

It’s a great town. I lived there my whole life, and I went to college at University of Missouri in Columbia, and it was around that time I realized I just wanted to play and write songs and make songs. By the time I finished college, I knew that’s what I wanted to do that more than anything else. Around 2004-ish, I started to record my own songs and just got to the point where I didn’t want to just play Nirvana and Neil Young and The Beatles. I love them, and those are some of my early influences, but I wanted to play my own melodies and songs. It was around then I started putting out my own CDs, and I’ve been touring around the country making music since about that time.

Last August, I moved to Nashville, and I’m really happy. I always knew it’s where I wanted to be. It was a toss-up between L.A. and Nashville for a little bit, but logistically, Nashville is still close to family and St. Louis, and it just made the most sense. Also, for my purposes, Nashville is more of a songwriters’ town.

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Rick Steff of Lucero:
The TVD Interview

Rick Steff of Lucero has come out with a three-song EP on Archer Records, “Rick’s Booogie” (additional “o” an’ all). I caught up with him at one of the Illinois Lucero shows to talk about the makings of his EP, and what it was like to have his fellow Lucero members backing up one of his projects.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Steff is easily one of the nicest men alive anywhere, much less in music, and genuinely one of the most skilled and talented. 

What made you want to make an EP? How did it start?

Well, it started with just doodlin’ around on the piano and making these little boogies in down time and in the studio where we did Jeff Nichols’ independent film Mud, and Amy Lavere’s Stranger Me album. Roy [Berry of Lucero and Overjoid] and I had just done over a hundred pieces of music for a soundtrack for an independent TV mini-series called Head Shop, which is about a tobacco/ smoking shop that gets in trouble for selling bath salts. I don’t know if it’ll get placed. I haven’t heard yet.

So, anyway, this afforded us the opportunity to record a huge amount of music, which we’d be making anyway. So, we were in and out of that studio a bunch, which is a block from where Roy and I live, since we live only a couple blocks from each other, and there was just some down time in there, and I said, “I would like to lay down this boogie before I forget it,” so I played it, and they [fellow Lucero members] were like, “We should do something with that.” I had thought about doing a single at some point, like the old piano player EPs they did in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, ya know. I mentioned it to the band, and they all wanted to play on it, and I certainly wanted them all to play on it.

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Matt Woods:
The TVD First Date

Some people call what Matt Woods does Americana, but he “has a hard time putting a label on things like that.” A lot of his songs are “very much based in classic country music while others are grounded in straight forward and greasy rock ’n’ roll,” Woods explains. “I write what is ready to come out and try to be as honest as I can about it.”

Woods has been a figure in the East Tennessee music scene for the past ten years and has performed in several bands as well as working as a solo artist. Woods has shared the stage with the likes of CAKE, Drivin’ n’ Cryin‘, Will Hoge, Two Cow Garage, Chris Knight, and many other musicians compiling a seemingly never-ending list of talented independent artists from points around the globe. Woods took some time out from his current tour with Adam Lee, “The Connoisseurs of Lesser Things,” to share a story about his love of vinyl.

“I must have been 10 or 11 years old the year I got my first real stereo and turntable. Mail ordered from the Sears Christmas catalog and awaiting me that early morning was the power to rattle the walls with rock ‘n’ roll in a way previously lacking in the toy record player with the cartoon scene from The Smurfs on its lid. All I needed was some vinyl (my collection of Alabama 45s wasn’t going to be enough.) We were used to my dad playing country albums around the house like Willie and the Family Live, tons of old Merle Haggard, and always Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk him out of those.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Lucero at the 9:30 Club, 3/20

I’ve been reading a lot about Lucero shows lately. (It’s kind of my job.) It seems they’ve been particularly rowdy lately, and it seems people have been really diggin’ ’em that way.

This got me thinking, “Where have I seen the rowdiest Lucero shows?” to which I answered myself (because geniuses answer themselves, ya know), “Easy: Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington DC.”

Bikinis, Bobcats, and vandalism? Rowdy.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 10 Comments

Frank Turner:
The TVD Interview

As his fans already know, Frank Turner, an English folk-punk country singer, released his new single, “Recovery,” off his not-yet-released new record, Tape Deck Heart, on March 5th. Being a long-time fan of his music myself, I was anxious to hear it.

You see, I get scared sometimes. I get scared that a man with such a long history of making great music that consistently makes me really, really happy is not going to be able to keep doing it time after time after time. I go into his new songs with a tight gut and sharp ears, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it never does. Ever. And this why I love Frank-fucking-Turner. His music and lyrics (seriously, the lyrics) have never failed to lift me up from dark places, make me think, and, most importantly to me, inspire me to take action and risks in my life.

Turner is currently touring the United States through March 15 and 16, where he will be playing The Black Heart Bar and Red 7 for SXSW, respectively. I caught up with him in New York to talk about Tape Deck Heart.

First off, how have the U.S. shows been so far?

Oh, they’ve been great. A lot of times, they’ve been sold out, and tonight is sold out, so I have no complaints. [laughs]

Oh, good! So you’ve mentioned that this record is a “break-up record.” It’s really personal. Does it make you feel more exposed and vulnerable to your fans?

Yeah, very much, although, I mean, there’s a degree to it that’s deliberate. You see, one of my theories about why some bands get less interesting is kind of that, you know, after making a lot of records, they get too guarded about who’s going to look into what they are doing. Everything gets a bit more generic, and you just simply don’t write like that when you start out, when you’re a kid in your bedroom pouring your heart out, so, when writing this record, I thought it was really important to do quite the opposite of the obvious thing, which would be to kind of get more generic. I decided to be the most exposed I could. It helps that I am kind of, like, in a moment in my life where I have lots of things on my mind that are personal. But, yeah, I really wanted to kind of write something personal. Also, art is not supposed to be comfortable, and I think now that I’ve quite succeeded in writing something so personal, I am now actually quite nervous about what people might think about this record.

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John Moreland:
The TVD Interview

Like a lot of you, I’m guessing, I go to a lot of shows. There are many benefits to this, one of which is asking your favorite musicians who they’re listening to these days. Over the course of the past year or so, I noticed their lists almost always had two names in common: Townes Van Zandt and John Moreland.

That’s a hell of a thing for an up-and-coming musician to share a “must listen to” list with the late, great Townes Van Zandt (with whom I am already familiar), so I did what any good lover of music would do: I checked him out. Not only was I happy I did, but I also grew to understand why they were usually mentioned together: They’re both musician’s musicians.

How did you get started playing music?

My family is somewhat musical. My dad plays the guitar. I started playing when I was 10 years old when we moved to Tulsa from Boone County, Kentucky. I didn’t have any friends yet, and I was bored all the time, so I asked my dad to show me a couple of chords. I just kind of kept going from there. Then, you know, a couple of years later, I realized you could just, like, make up songs, so I’ve been writing songs ever since then.

How old were you then?

I was about 12.

So you’ve been doing that since you were 12?

Yeah, and throughout high school, I was in a bunch of hardcore bands.

Oh, who were your influences?

Um, well, back then, I really liked Converge and Pg. 99, and Minor Threat was my favorite band. Also, just a lot of DIY hardcore. At some point, that wasn’t really doin’ it for me anymore, and I kinda just started going back to music my dad had always listened to when I was growing up, like Neil Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival and stuff like that.

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Tennessee Native,
Matt Woods’ Last
Night in Town

I first heard about Matt Woods when I saw Austin Lucas perform at The Well in Knoxville, TN (Woods’ stompin’ grounds) last February. With nothing but a recommendation from Lucas (just do whatever he says, okay?), I picked up a copy of Woods’ latest album, Manifesto, while I was there. Being a huge fan of independent and alternate country, I fell in love at first listen. If you like solid songwriting and authentic country influence, I think you will, too.

I was able to talk to Woods before his last show of a three month national tour at the V Club in Huntington, WV, a venue in which he’s been performing for years. (Go there. They have an indoor and outdoor bar, a mini-arcade, friendly staff, reasonably priced drinks, and pool tables. Did I mention they have a mini-arcade?) I was stoked to not only witness his dynamic stage presence but also to learn about his love of vinyl, his upcoming studio time, and a new album in the works.

So tell me what’s coming.

Well, I go into the studio in January, and I hope to be on tour again in February of 2013. We’re lookin’ to tour the South and the mid-west at that time. I don’t have a full-time band, so I like to bring in people I appreciate – players I admire – and that takes some time to schedule. And later in the year, I’m thinking of bringing my drummer to do a two-man show across Europe.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Lucero at the 9:30 Club, 4/25 (and a chance to win a signed poster!)

I’ve been reading a lot about Lucero shows lately. (It’s kind of my job.) It seems they’ve been particularly rowdy lately, and it seems people have been really diggin’ ’em that way.

This got me thinking, “Where have I seen the rowdiest Lucero shows?” to which I answered myself (because geniuses answer themselves, ya know), “Easy: Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and New York City.”

If you’re one of those folks who digs being covered in beer and bruises when you leave a show, then you’re in luck. It just so happens we’re giving away two tickets to the April 25th Lucero show (with J. Roddy Walston & the Business as the opener!) at the 9:30 Club right here in Washington, DC.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 10 Comments

TVD’s 10 Weeks of Record Store Day Vinyl Giveaways: Lucero, Women & Work (Signed!)

We’re continuing our 10 Weeks of Vinyl Giveaways, our very own countdown to Record Store Day 2012, with a very special opportunity for Lucero fans.

They recently released their highly-anticipated eighth album, Women & Work, on their new record label, ATO Records (Drive-By Truckers, My Morning Jacket).

Women & Work is “a love letter from Lucero to its hometown, Memphis, TN,” featuring country and soul influences from records like Delaney & Bonnie’s first album on the Stax label, Home.

And guess what? We’ve got an autographed record to give away to one of you.

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TVD Live: Austin Lucas at The Well, 2/11

I caught up with Austin Lucas at a new basement bar and music venue in Knoxville called The Well (where, coincidentally, the talented-in-his-own-right Matt Woods has his day job). When I heard this was his last stop on a U.S. tour filled mostly with house shows and intimate venues, I knew I had to see him.

I have seen Lucas perform twice before: once with his back-up band The Bold Party in Shepherdstown, WV, and once while he was touring with Glossary as his back-up band when they opened for Lucero in Nashville. This time was different, though, because I got to see him by himself, and there is nothing I love more than seeing a musician perform with nothing but his guitar and his voice (and oh, what a truly incredible voice it is).

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: John Doe, Keeper

John Doe’s new solo release, Keeper, is already getting good reviews from NPR to the L.A. Times, and TVD is giving away a copy on vinyl.

Doe has an extensive and eclectic background, ranging in acting to music. He’s worked with the likes of The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, and the movie about his early career, The Unheard Music, was included in the Sundance UCLA Archive of greatest films of all time.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 1 Comment

Ben Nichols of Lucero: The TVD Interview

I caught up with Ben Nichols of Lucero last weekend during their two-night stand at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville. We shot the shit over things like the new record, the condition of his voice, the dream lineup at the Nashville shows (for which folks came from near and far to attend), and the possibility of touring with Frank Turner in the UK.

As fond as I already was of Ben Nichols The Songwriter and Musician, I came away with an equal fondness for Ben Nichols The Man. I could not help but be endeared by his humility, graciousness, and apparent deep love and respect for his family. I don’t think you’ll be able to help yourself either.

How did these Lucero/Glossary/Austin Lucas shows come to be? It’s kind of a dream lineup.

Well, Glossary’s on tour with Austin Lucas right now, which I haven’t seen yet. I haven’t seen Glossary backing up Austin yet, and I bet it’s amazing. I’m real curious to see how that goes. I’m sure it’ll be amazing. And, well, I did the first Revival Tour with Austin, and that’s where I met him, and we’ve run into him here and there, but we’ve never done a Lucero show with Austin before, that I can recall. We’ve kept in touch, though. We’ve always kind of run in the same circles, and so the fact that Glossary was out on tour with him, and Todd Beene plays with us and Glossary, it just kind of all fell together. So, of course, with Glossary being from Murfreesboro, having them as the opener is just ideal.

We’re all big fans of Glossary, and in fact, I’m just super-jealous of Joey Kneiser—well, actually the whole band. They really are possibly my favorite band right at the moment. The way I see it, I’m just trying to keep up with them, as far as songwriting and making music goes. I’m just trying to approach getting anywhere near that good, and ya know, I actually get to see them play. It’s nice playing shows with friends.

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TVD Live: Lucero with Glossary and Austin Lucas at Mercy Lounge, 11/18 & 11/19

I’ve been going to see Lucero for years. I’ve been to rowdy shows, calm shows, crowded shows, empty shows, and sloppy shows (my favorites, to be honest).

I’ve been to shows where the openers were people I’d never heard of, and I’ve been to others with openers the likes of Amy LaVere, Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm, Cory Branan, Drag the River, and Frank Turner, just to name a few. I’ve been to shows I can’t remember, and I’ve been to shows I’ll never forget. With Austin Lucas and Glossary as support, this past weekend’s two-night stand at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville without a doubt falls into the latter category.

The first night’s opening act was local Murfreesboro, TN rock band Glossary, who were there to support their seventh full-length album Long Live All of Us, which frontman Joey Kneiser calls “an all-inclusive homage to humanity” that emphasizes such qualities as “mercy, redemption, forgiveness, and second chances.” Their set included some of my long-time favorites, as well as one of my newest favorites, “Bruised Ribs,” off of Joey Kneiser’s free, downloadable solo album, The All-Night Bedroom Revival (which happens to be one of Ben Nichols’ favorite albums right now).

The second night’s opener was a particularly special treat: Bloomington, IN musician Austin Lucas with “one of his favorite bands in the world,” Glossary, as his back-up. Austin was there supporting his new full-length album A New Home in the Old World as well as showcasing some new songs, likeSo Much More Than Lonely.” As Lucero frontman Ben Nichols put it, “He can fucking sing, he can fucking write a song, and he can fucking play guitar.” Considering the folk and bluegrass lineage from whence he comes (his father is Bob Lucas), it’s no surprise.

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Posted in TVD Nashville | 2 Comments

TVD Recommends:
Bob Seger at 1st Mariner Arena, 11/25

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band kick off the second leg of their U.S. tour this Friday at the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore. Baltimore is the first stop on the second leg of their U.S. tour in support of their career-spanning, 26-track collection, Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets.

With such oldie-but-goodie hits as “Turn the Page,” “Night Moves,” and “Like a Rock,” as well as new hits like “Downtown Train” and “Hey Hey Hey Hey (Going Back to Birmingham),” this show promises to have a little something for everyone. Maybe he’ll play a few of these notable hits…

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TVD Recommends: The Features at Red Palace, TONIGHT, 11/3

The Features are a psychedelic rock-pop band from Sparta, TN consisting of guitarist and vocalist Matt Pelham, bassist Roger Dabbs, keyboardist Parrish Yaw, and drummer Rollan Haas. They play tonight at the Red Palace, and their new album, Wilderness, is available now.

Rollum was gracious enough to share with us the first piece of vinyl he bought, his favorite record store, and the thrill of a bargain:

“My favorite LP finds are usually things I get at thrift stores for cheap. It’s a nice feeling to find something you’ve been looking for and paying 99 cents instead of $30.”

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