Southern Independent, vol. 2
There’s a lot of energy in XXX these days, and I’m not talking about those movies nobody watches that still manage to net millions for Hilton and Marriott. I’m talking about hard-edged country music delivered by a wide array of artists who are coming together under the XXX banner, held high by none other than Shooter Jennings, who has the correct genetic code for the job.
I’m probably an alt-country guy now because of the early Outlaw movement. Waylon, Hank Jr., Willie & David Allan Coe were all important to the development of my musical tastes, as were Southern rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and 38 Special. Somewhere along the way, I slipped out of Outlaw mode, even dabbled in popular music and mainstream rock, then eventually found my way back to the alt-country side of the ledger through singer-songwriters and acoustic music. The alt-country tent is big, though, and while sitting under it I’ve found myself listening to music that appears to be a natural extension of what the Outlaws were up to back in the day. I listen to SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country quite a bit. The channel is a bit misnamed, because it doesn’t just play Outlaw country. They do, however, play the old Outlaws every so often. Some of the newer artists they play would qualify for the Outlaw label, like Hank III (sorry, Hank3), Jimbo Mathus, Blackberry Smoke, North Mississippi Allstars, Southern Culture On The Skids, Supersuckers, Drive-By Truckers, Wayne Hancock and Shooter, just to name a few.
Of course, if you go to the XXX website, you’ll see that most of the names I’ve listed are there. And there are many more. Lately, the XXX guys have been working to get as many XXXers as they can out there where we can hear them in the “Southern Independent” compilations. They’re on volume 2 right now. Like the first iteration, volume 2 is an eclectic collection of sounds, ranging from a one man band (Lone Wolf) to an old favorite, Black Oak Arkansas. Two guys who did several shows together recently (I was lucky enough to see one of those shows), Jason Isbell and Johnny Corndawg, have songs on the album. Also on the record are Powder Mill, Jocephus, Imperial Rooster, Joey Allcorn, John Carter Cash, The Honky Tonk Hustlas, Roger Alan Wade, Whitey Morgan and the North Mississippi Allstars.
Volume 2 also includes Hootchie Kootchie Man by Jerry McGill, from the upcoming record A.K.A. Jerry McGill, which accompanies a film called Very Extremely Dangerous. VED is a documentary about Jerry McGill a.k.a. Curtis Buck a.k.a. Jerry Cole, covering a 3-month period when Jerry McGill is headed to a reunion session in Memphis and learns that he has cancer. By the way, Waylon plays on Hootchie Kootchie Man, which was recorded at Sun in the mid-seventies.
I said the collection was eclectic. Let me give you some idea what I’m talking about. Here’s an unofficial video of Joey Allcorn doing a song called Six Feet Down. It’s not on the record (his cut is also death-related, Whatever Kills Me First, and it’s exclusive to Southern Independent), but it gives you an idea of his classic, lonesome voice. Kind of a Hank 3 on his meds, would be one way to think of his sound:
Then we have Hear The Hills, by North Mississippi Allstars, which does appear on volume 2. Here’s a Rolling Stone video of a live performance of that tune:
One of the tracks I really like on volume 2 is Devil In New Orleans by Powder Mill. This is another Southern Independence exclusive – there are five on the record. Powder Mill has a Southern rock sound with strong lead vocals and a lot of guitar. They sound good, and Devil is an excellent song. In case you didn’t know it, the devil lives in New Orleans, or at least that’s where he gets his mail. Anyway, to give you a glimpse of this interesting group, here’s an official video for another Powder Mill tune, ostensibly focused on the other side of the duality. The song is called Billy The Baptist:
I could go on, but I won’t. You probably get the picture. Southern Independent, vol. 2 is available for download at the XXX website. For free. If the videos above have peaked your interest, I’d say it’s a no-brainer to get over there and get it. Just tell them, “Give me my XXX.”
Mando Lines is on Twitter @mando_lines, where he tweets about music quite a bit.