Box Full of Letters from Issue #26
Blackstock, you ignorant slut
Peter Blackstock’s review of Richmond Fontaine’s Lost Son [ND #25, Jan.-Feb. ’00] inspired one “printable” word: NONSENSE. Perhaps there are others — garbage, crap, you get the picture. Perhaps Blackstock should spend more time listening to the music and less time admiring his words in print.
Richmond Fontaine is the real deal. I own all of their records, have listened to them countless times, and have had the pleasure of seeing them live on three occasions. The new record, Lost Son, is just the latest chapter in the maturation of this great band. How Blackstock concludes, essentially without explanation, that the lyrics are out of step with the music is beyond me. Further, his distinction between “crafting songs” and “writing short stories and setting them amidst a sonic backdrop” is empty at best. Finally, contrary to Blackstock’s suggestion, it is precisely the vivid, haunting and desperate tales spun by Willy Vlautin, set against the alternating backdrops of pure melody and high-octane cowpunk, which keep these records in repeat mode on the stereo and in the brain. Keep making records guys.
— Matt Feigenbaum
San Francisco, California
Thanks for the memory
I’d like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Barry Mazor and No Depression for the beautifully written Anita Carter obituary [ND #23, Sept.-Oct. ’99].
The article stepped outside the realm of the “token obituary” to give the readers an insight into Anita’s personality.
Of all the publications which mentioned Anita’s death, No Depression was the only one to give Anita the amount of news coverage she so rightfully deserved for devoting 62 of her 66 years to the public.
I know Anita would be pleased with the article, and I’ll be forever grateful to you for honoring her memory.
— Vicki Langdon
Untitled but not unheralded
Scott Manzler’s dismissal of the Byrds’ later work [ND #25, Jan.-Feb. ’00] ought not to go unchallenged. Certainly by the time of Untitled the glorious (and sometimes chaotic) diversity of the early days had gone, but there’s a lot more to be said for the McGuinn-Battin-Parsons-White lineup than Manzler will admit. Certainly the lengthy workout on “Eight Miles High” is very much of its time, but most of what remains is glorious — “Chestnut Mare”, “Truckstop Girl” and “Just A Season” are wonderful additions to the canon. Other than the silly “Well Come Back Home”, there’s really not a weak track on the studio side, and to dismiss Clarence White’s consistently outstanding playing on what most people would surely think of as his finest hour as “rarely better than his material” (whatever that may mean) is a grave injustice. Certainly the decline set in after Untitled, but in my view at least there’s no evidence of it on this stirring and moving record.
— Adrian Hodges
Somedays the Bear sells you
I was surprised by his omission in David Goodman’s Modern Twang; therefore, a big thanks for the update on James Talley [ND #25, Jan.-Feb. ’00]. In terms of album availability, however, the article is a bit too pessimistic. All of his eight earlier albums, including his four Capitol releases, are still available from Germany’s Bear Family Records (www.bear-family.de/index.html). For the budget-minded, Got No Bread…/Trying Like The Devil and Blackjack Choir/Ain’t It Somethin’ are re-released on two CDs, along with the typical lavish Bear Family booklets, at a fair price. Even the steep German postal prices should not deter anyone.
— Jochen Mezger
Radio free Wisconsin
I think it is really cool that you guys have been giving Bill Malone some attention lately. And thanks for the tour of my old stomping grounds [A Place To Be/Lake Superior, ND #24, Nov.-Dec. ’99]. While my interest in country music flows from recent and inevitably lame sources (ever hear R.E.M.’s “King Of The Road”?), Malone’s show (coupled with your magazine) served as a primer that allowed me to catch up on all of the rest. I moved down south a couple of months ago, and I can’t believe I missed the show that you were on. WORT has noble intentions, but even the most open-minded music fan will say “What the hell is that?” at times. Malone’s show is a sparkling exception, and I miss listening to it while I get ready for work. Especially now that I am in an area that is completely devoid of decent radio. Thanks.
— Oliver J. Kaufman
Wilmington, North Carolina
If we only had a brain:
No self-help mumbo-jumbo here
I have just recently entered into the web world and was pleased to find that when I entered No Depression, I was referred to you and not some self-help mumbo-jumbo.
I have been reading your fine publication for a couple of years now and feel the need to praise you on a job well done. The work you do reflects musical and writing integrity and through that integrity, you show a respect to readers that is rarely found in today’s music mag world.
Thank you for the kind of writing that assumes I have a brain and for representing the kind of music that helps me forget that I do.
— Michelle Dempsey
Buffalo, New York
That was the year that was:
From the Montana backroads
I haven’t yet subscribed, but after buying and reading cover to cover each issue this year , I just wanted to write a note and say thank you for a really great bunch of informative and entertaining articles in all the issues this year.
I really like the writing. It seems your writers find something more than just simple press release kind of things to say. Very thoughtful stuff.
I host a weekly Americana radio show, “Americana Backroads”, and I have used information here and there from various things written in No Depression.
I would like to compliment you especially for the articles on Kris Kristofferson and Dolly Parton [ND #24, Nov.-Dec. ’99]. Both very worthwhile indeed.
— Rik James
From the Great White North
Just wanted to drop a short line regarding No Depression and some of the musicians profiled.
I’ve just recently begun reading the magazine, after hearing about it for a couple of years. Like many others, I’m frustrated with the state of “country” music these days. My influences include Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, as well as Carlene Carter, Hank Williams Sr., the Burritos, etc., and today’s country acts just don’t cut it (apart from Steve Earle, Iris DeMent, Emmylou and a bunch of ‘subversive’ country acts).
No Depression has turned me on to a whole new world of artists. I recently purchased CDs from Miles of Music by Two Dollar Pistols with Tift Merritt, Belle Starr, Brooklyn Cowboys and Kristi Rose…and I’m floored. There is so much talent out there, and I’m being overwhelmed.
Keep up the good work, No Depression. You have a fan up here in Toronto, Canada — too bad that my music store doesn’t get the mag regularly. I’ll just keep my eyes open for it.
— Joanne Hurley
Seatrain, Heads Hands And Feet
First of all, love your magazine. Since I’ve only been a subscriber for slightly over a year, I’m unaware if you’ve done any articles on Peter Rowan and Richard Greene’s ’70s band Seatrain. Also, my personal favorite alt.country group of all time, Albert Lee’s phenomenal Heads Hands And Feet, has never been mentioned (as far as I know). Both of these groups were so incredibly ahead of their time and still are. It would be great if you could help spread their genius for future admirers.
— Loretta Vinson