Box Full of Letters from Issue #31
Carter Family Fold:
The place to be
After reading about the Carter Family Fold (ND #13, Jan.-Feb. 1998), my girl and I decided to take a trip down there and check it out for ourselves. We camped nearby the night before and hiked all day and then drove in to town to visit the museum and see the show. We were not disappointed. During our three-hour visit to the Fold, we met a moonshiner, learned to clog, conversed with some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met, and took in some dang good music. Naturally I had forgot to bring my camera, but the very kind gentleman from Tennessee seated next to me took pictures for us all night and then, true to his word, actually mailed them to us. This was a trip that I was certain could not be beat.
Last weekend my girl and I decided to take an other trip to the Fold. This time we stayed in the nearby birthplace of country music, Bristol, Virginia. We had lunch at a fair that was taking place in town that day and visited the monument and mural dedicated to the music born in that town. We also drove by the home of Jimmie Rodgers. Later, we drove over to Hiltons, Virginia, ready for an other great night of old-time music.
At the start of the show, Janette Carter told the audience she had a special treat for us before bringing out the scheduled band (Konnarock Critters, go see ’em!). I was excited at the possibility of who it could be but didn’t want to get my hopes up. Janette, her son Dale and her brother Joe played three songs to get things rolling. Then Janette came up to the microphone and said that it was time to bring out the special guest.
Perhaps it was via some alt-country intuition, perhaps just a good guess, but I knew who the guest was and couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. I leaned over to my girl and in a loud whisper said, “It’s Johnny Cash! It’s gotta be Johnny Cash!” A moment later I heard Janette say, “Ladies and gentlemen, Johnny Cash.”
He proceeded to sing about three songs, then had a seat onstage while the Konnarock Critters sang a few. Janette then announced that some folks had come in late and didn’t get to hear Johnny sing, so she brought him back out to sing one more. He joined the Critters for “Folsom Prison Blues”. Everyone showed their appreciation but at the same time respected Johnny’s space and didn’t crowd him. What a great “place to be.”
My point of this story is to extend my appreciation to you folks at No Depression for keeping us informed of tucked-away treasures such as the Carter Family Fold. Thank you for your integrity and your commitment to good music (whatever that is).
— Douglas Lent
Ub with beeble
Thanks for the great Peter Blackstock article on the Gourds [ND #30, Nov.-Dec. 2000]. Aside from a few terrific shows at Schuba’s, they seem to be a very well-kept secret in the Chicago area. I happened upon them in a record store listening station a few years ago, and have been hooked ever since.
A few years ago, myself and several musician friends were so affected by the Gourds’ record Dem’s Good Beeble that we put away the amps and electronics, busted out the acoustics, banjos and mandolins, and have let the songwriting take center stage ever since.
— Bob Kuhn
Round up the Rodeo
First, thanks for continuing the finest music magazine in this world.
Second, with all the various tribute albums/concepts, I am wondering when someone will recognize the Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo as the catalyst for so much of what happened. I mean, Wilco’s version of “One Hundred Years From Now” is just a hint of what could be. And that was on Gram’s tribute.
Third, a Clarence White retrospective would be very cool too. Just wishing!
— Steve Hullinger
Lincoln Park, Pennsylvania
I once was lost, but now I’m found
I’ve just gotten hold of my first-ever issue of No Depression (#29 Sept.-Oct. 2000), and I can’t resist writing to give you a pat on the back for this magazine.
Back in the mid-’80s, I played guitar in a band that fit into the mold of what used to be termed “cowpunk” music. You know the drill — songs by Patsy Montana and John Hammond cranked through Marshall amps. We opened for performers like the Leroi Brothers and Ned Sublette in New York, and toured a bit in the U.S.A. and Holland. Since then, with the exception of a few flirtations — Steve Earle, Tish Hinojosa, Alison Krauss, Townes Van Zandt — I pretty much drifted away from the field of “americana.”
That is, until I chanced upon the Alt. Country: Exposed Roots collection while looking through the stacks of a local record store. Something clicked. Big time. I picked up the CD, listened to it a couple of times, and felt like I was “home.” Naturally, I spotted the ND advertisement tucked away in there and I figured, “This has to be a fanzine that some guy is mimeographing in his basement somewhere.”
So, I was wrong. ND is a beauty, and I ain’t just talking about the arresting photo of Allison Moorer on the cover. ND mirrors the atmosphere of the music you write about by creating a pretty palpable (and enjoyable) mood of its own, between the reviews, articles, interviews and promos. It’s a pretty radical idea — a “music” mag free of crap — but it works. I’m only sorry I had to miss out on five years of ND before heading back to “the good stuff.” I’m looking forward to catching up on some of these great “alternative country” (whatever that is) artists. A handful of Lucinda Williams releases makes for a pretty decent start. Where has this woman been all my life?
I’m rambling now. Appropriate, maybe, for this type of music, but you guys have better things to do. So, I’ll close it up by saying again: Thanks for a great publication, well-produced, well-written, atmospheric as hell, and informative — oh yeah, definitely “informative.” And that’s the point, right?
— Mark Alessio
Point Lookout, NY
Sweet home Chicago
OK about that Langford letter [ND #29, Sept.-Oct. 2000]…The way I look at it, there are two possibilities. First , if it is an inside joke drafted by Jon’s friends (Tweedy, Escovedo et al.) and/or a Kaufmanesque attempt by Langford himself to drum up a response from Chicago readers — it worked. I’m sure ND has received several responses to the letter. [Ed. note: Yup, see last issue; we also received a similar letter recently from Andrea Matlak of Chicago.]
The other possibility, of course, is that the letter expresses an individual’s true sentiment. If they are truly held opinions, the writer has a few issues that require a professional response better left for another publication. (I’m thinking Psychology Today.)
The crux of the letter is that Langford gets more work than he deserves and that he should leave town so that our “frustrated musician” can get more work. Assuming that the writer can play (although I envision him as the type of “musician” whose main gig is at the mega Guitars R Us repeating endlessly the intro to “Crossroads” with 15 other headbobbing geeks all wearing Steve Vai T-shirts), the fact that Langford plays on a lot of records doesn’t preclude our hero from also playing on them, had he the talent or imagination. What’s Knopfler’s line, “…when you point your finger when your plans fall through, you’ve got three more fingers pointing back at you”?
All I know is that I witnessed the vast wasteland of the Chicago local music of the ’80s (remembered mainly as the “my Zeppelin tribute band is better than your Floyd tribute band” era). Langford and his ilk made it safe to return to the bars — may God keep Jon Langford in Chicago.
— Tom Morrissey