Mad Dogs, Margaritas and music

Steve Earle and the latest incarnation of The Dukes: Kelley Looney on bass, Chris Masterson on guitar, Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle & mandolin, Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel guitar, and Brad Pemberton on drums and percussion. | photo by Tom Bejgrowicz/

Pat O’B contends that there’s still some good music out there today, the Grammys notwithstanding and despite a preposterously publicized preponderance of primadonnas, poseurs and pissants.

He’s right, of course. As a free-range rumormonger and Avatar of Fake News I lean toward the flamboyant and unsupported statement: “That sucks.” Or as the black marketeer Duffy put it in “The Commitments.”

“I don’t know why you bother. Everything’s shite since Roy Orbison died.”

Duffy got himself head-butted later for acting like a douche during a gig, despite being a patron of the arts, albeit a slightly heavy-handed one. And he certainly had it coming, Roy Orbison fan or no.

So who isn’t shite, and why?  Chime in with your hit parade, and don’t sweat it about providing links if you’re not in the mood.

As for me, I’ll note that Steve Earle has a new album coming out next month, a tribute to the legendary Guy Clark, with guest appearances by Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Terry Allen, Jerry Jeff Walker, Mickey Raphael, Shawn Camp, Verlon Thompson and Gary Nicholson.

NPR’s Bob Boilen chatted with Steve earlier in the year. Their chat kicks off with a discussion of the Texas Chili Parlor’s Mad Dog Margaritas and segues into interesting bits like this:

“I’m very thankful that I came along at a time … this period when Bob Dylan had sort of singlehandedly elevated pop music to an art form by the force of lyrics. I really truly believe that this moment when Bob Dylan wants to be John Lennon and John Lennon wants to be Bob Dylan makes rock and roll hard overnight. Otherwise it’s just songs about cars and girls.”

So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say Steve Earle doesn’t suck. Steve Earle is not shite. Please don’t head-butt me.

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42 Responses to “Mad Dogs, Margaritas and music”

  1. Esteban O’ Says:

    Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt came to town this weekend, doing their conversation with songwriters thing. Solidly in the “doesn’t suck“ category.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The Unsuckitude is strong with those two.

      • Steve O Says:

        Not just doesn’t suck, but a decent couple of guys as well. First, they brought out Willis Alan Ramsey, who, turns out, lives next door in Loveland, where he’s been working on his sophomore album on and off (but mostly off) for the last 47 years. Later they did a shout out to their friends over in the UNC neck of the woods, Greeley Hat Works.

        I think I’ve seen LL half a dozen times, and JH 3-4. And every time, they’ve mentioned someone in the crowd or a local business they like.

  2. JD Dallager Says:

    Ha! Perfect timing! I was cruising around yesterday on my way to MTB and listening to “The Best of Roy Orbison”. Only a 3 octave range!!

    FWIW, there was a special interview on TV Sunday w/Linda Ronstadt — she has had to give up singing due to her loss of vocal chord strength as a result of, I believe, early Parkinson’s. What a great vocalist and person!

    Also been enjoying The BeeGees, Andrea Bocelli, The Eagles, Don Williams, and lots of classical to name just a few. Some contemporary and some earlier. Different styles and genres……all move the spirit……atleast mine.

    Just like cycling does! Ride on!

  3. Sharon Says:

    There’s still some great music out there, just a little harder to find. Difficult to find a more genuine and talented singer-songwriter, guitarist than Jason Isbell. He’s literally got several dozens of really great and powerful songs.

  4. JG Says:

    A bit of a different genre – but I’ve been down the (early) Van Morrison & ‘Them’ rabbit hole. Hands down, I think they did one of the best covers of Dylan’s ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’. Lots of good stuff came out of Northern Ireland…

  5. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Yep, we were lucky to be around for a good era in pop music as well. Living in SoCal in the 70’s and 80’s I was able to enjoy live a ton of great bands and singers…way too many to list here. I read a bit (NYT?) about how most of the recorded music today is ruined by the tech guys in the studio for some reason…with rare exceptions.

  6. Ira Says:

    For something completely different check out The Hu, a Mongolian rock band (I shit you not). Traditional Mongolian instruments and throat singing to a rock beat. Not for everyone but definitely unique.

  7. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I bought a guitar from Wendy years ago when she worked at a guitar store in Tucson. She was dealing with MS at the time, and her music career was winding down. Never got a break or reached her full potential as far as I could tell. She should have.

  8. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Got to see these folks perform here twice and loved it. She is a singer that should be discovered. She told us if you want to be rich, the music business ain’t the place to be.

  9. Randolph Says:

    A couple of recent songs I’ve been listening to. “We’ll Do It For Love Next Time” is a Rodney Crowell song covered admirably by Kelly Willis. And “The Color Of A Cloudy Day” written by Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires and covered by sisters Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer.

  10. Sharktooth Says:

    Some Canucks to keep thing warm on a cold winter’s night, and the only country music singer I can listen to.

  11. Hurben Says:

    Some from Downunder,

    This was written by Don McGlashan who was a great way with words & this song references this tragic incident in New Zealand

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aramoana_massacre

    Another one from Don, probably his most famous.

    I live just off Dominion Rd, & in keeping with the Kiwi attitude, there is a Plaque on the side walk which tells you when you are exactly halfway down Dominion rd.

    And finally, a nod to my South Africa roots, the mighty Juluka!

  12. Herb from Michigan Says:

    I have found tons of great music new and old from Mike. One of the greatest mix archivist in the world. Former head of The Loft on XM radio. https://www.mikemarrone.com/
    I listen through his Mixcloud link.

  13. David Rees Says:

    I’ve gotten quite a of bit of Keb Mo for the “Brighter One in the Household” and now listening to it for the last year, he definitely does not suck. Did an album with Taj Mahal last year this is quite good.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      I got on to Keb Mo late via Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival videos. The more I hear him, the more I like him. I wish he would collaborate more with Bonnie Raitt. He has performed in Tucson at the Fox Theater a couple times in the last year, once with Taj Mahal. I found out about Taj Mahal late as well from the movie “Songcatchers” where he was playing clawhammer style banjo. Another late catch on my part is Rihanna Gibbons. First saw her on a episode of PBS Craft in America then ACL.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Taj Mahal I first heard in “high” school, back in Bibleburg. “Giant Step,” I believe it was. My bros and I had eclectic tastes even then, including Taj, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Beatles and Led Zep.

      We got into some real early jazz, too, the kind of stuff Robert Crumb favors. We took to wearing three-piece pinstripe suits, fedoras and spats. Proto-hipsters, we were.

  14. Hurben Says:

    Let us not forget our Australian brothers..

    & Dave Dobbyn, at the opening of a new memorial to New Zealanders in London. Some of these veterans had so many medals, they wouldn’t have needed flack vests.

  15. Carl Duellman Says:

    i love this song about middle age.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Oh, yeah, that’s a keeper:

      “I’ll kiss my wife, I’ll kiss my son and
      Maybe someday I’ll go for a run
      Maybe someday a song will stick
      I’ll walk around like I got a big … boat..”

  16. Carl Duellman Says:

    john prine approved

  17. Carl Duellman Says:

    john haitt approved

  18. not Jusuk Says:

    Some classics just beg to be done. Brave Combo Grammy winners

  19. Not Jusuk Says:

    Who says a grammy winning band can’t do a classic

  20. Carl Duellman Says:

  21. Carl Duellman Says:

  22. John Woiton Says:

    I would suggest, in no particular order, Ray Wylie Hubbard, James McMurtry, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello (& the Attractions), Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, and others.

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