Box Full of Letters from Issue #13
Right back at ya:
Letter about a letter
“I have to wonder if perhaps the alternative C&W and American roots music press has become infested with under-educated, under-experienced fans who fancy themselves to be writers, critics and chroniclers…” So reads the last paragraph of Jana Pendragon’s letter in ND #12 (Nov.-Dec. ’97). She finishes her letter with an idiotic comparison of this press to the press that was involved in Princess Diana’s death, but I don’t even want to go there.
In truth, I think her comments, which were stimulated by a crummy review in issue #11 of Dwight Yoakam’s Under The Covers, were valid until that last paragraph, when she seemed to go over the edge.
I’m sure no one who writes for this magazine is a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist on the side (although sometimes I think Linda Ray might be fooling us all!). But issue #12 contained some killer journalism (e.g. the Jimmy Day piece), and putting Ricky Skaggs on the cover was a bold move in itself — a move I didn’t get until I read the article, and now, of course, I want to go out and buy Bluegrass Rules. The magazine works!
I’m not in the music industry, I’m not a writer or a member of the press, and I don’t aspire to be. I’m just a hick fan who spends more of his hard-earned money on CDs than on liquor, cigarettes, drugs and lottery tickets (however, I do have a weakness for guns & ammo). My point is that I feel somewhat obligated to stick up for this magazine and its contributors as they continue to provide me with one of the few sources of information about a style of music that I sincerely love — a music that, at times, overwhelms me. Some people just don’t get (or at least they forget sometimes) that it’s all about the music!
A fan to the rescue
A few months ago a co-worker lent me a copy of your magazine. I was thrilled to find a publication that highlights such artists as Kelly Willis, Kim Richey and Steve Earle — artists who, for the most part, are overlooked by mainstream music listeners. For those of us who appreciate the quality of musical talent displayed by the artists you showcase, your publication is a godsend.
I anxiously await each issue’s “Waxed” section, which always exudes personal knowledge of the bands, the music and the talent behind it all. In fact, I have come to rely on the detail and depth with which these reviews are written and have yet to regret any of the many purchases reading your reviews have resulted in.
Therefore, I was hugely disappointed in the appalling inaccuracy of the recent review of Reckless Kelly’s Millican. Jim Desmond was quick to point out the natural appeal these five young men have, and just as quick to use their “early 20s,” “soap opera” appeal as an excuse to write them off. Young and attractive they may be; however, they also happen to be five of the finest musicians we will ever have the fortune of hearing.
Desmond’s total lack of knowledge of both the band and their music is disheartening. In his rush to pin the “cliche” tag on their music, he overlooks the incredible drums, guitar and harmony vocals that grace every track on the album. He also misses the exhilarating and at times aching fiddle, mandolin and harmonica played wonderfully by Cody Braun — who, by the way, no more plays the guitar than he writes the lyrics. If Desmond had done his homework on this one, he would have known that.
I suggest that Desmond go back and at the very least read the CD’s insert, then really listen to the music and realize that what Millican is seems to be far more impressive than what it isn’t.