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October 3, 2000

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Steve Earle
Transcendental Blues
Artemis Records

Steve Earle did it all backwards. Renegade, badass, country-rock outlaws are supposed to have few big hits and get some power in Nashville before their drug habits get them in trouble with the law. Fortunately for us he also forgot to OD and die young. Well into his forties Steve has apparently gotten his act and his life together. The wealth of experience that has spanned almost three decades, six wives and a prison sentence has worked to polish his new release Transcendental Blues into an absolute diamond. Albums this good are few and far between. From the opening title track to Over Yonder, which closes the album 15 songs later, not a wrong move is made. Steve Earle has found the space where country, rock and traditional music come together climbed into it and claimed it for his own.

You want songs about unrequited love? How about "I can wait?" Angst ridden roots rock? Try "Another Town." Fall over Iím in love tunes? There is "I Donít Want to Lose You Yet." An Irish ditty? See "The Galway Girl." In fact this album has something for everyone. It spans the spectrum from alternative rock to pop to country. It's a blend of all that is American music-heavy metal cords with folk, bluegrass, rockabilly and traditional roots. The writing is nothing less than exemplary and the musicianship is flawless. If this album isnít in your collection go out and buy it now so at the end of the year when the best album lists come out you can say "Oh man, I've had that for months."

-- Jay Sharpe

warrenwolf.jpg - 18826 BytesBUZZ WITH ME,
Warren Wolf
(Self-Released), 2000.

Itís easy to picture "Hillbilly chicks on speed" providing the background score to the closing credits of a Quinton Tarantinoís film. You will get a chance to find out why when Warren Wolf performs this and other songs from his recent self-released CD, BUZZ WITH ME, live on Bayfest (Saturday, October 7 at 3:30 p.m., Bell South Stage).

Thanks to the Internet, Warren can now get reviews of his work from outside the confining and un-nurturing environment of Mobile., started by ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison, wrote back to say "Hillbilly chicks on speed" forces the company to develop a new category to place the song -- Rockabilly Blues -- which is now available not only on but also on A reviewer from calls the song "psycho-billy, it rules," and Micky Dean, guitarist for Robert Gordon, wrote back to say "not many songs are that well written and played" and to share information about what this brand new media made available by computer innovation can do for musicians.

BUZZ WITH ME is Warrenís attempt to update a musical genre in the early evolution of what is called rock Ďn roll. He borrows various styles of guitar-playing in creating some interesting combinations: a jazzy guitar-picking in a straight-ahead rockabilly, "Crazy Lilí Baby"; rockabilly licks in a blues, "Warrenís Blues"; a Stray Catsí tribute in "Tigar Man." The guitar playing throughout the CD is front and center, with expert contribution from the rhythm section by bassist Rick Long and Bud Smith on drums.

The Internet has not only opened new doors for musicians who want their music to be heard, the Internet also provides opportunities to music lovers to sample these musical offerings, free, with the musicians still receiving a fee based on the number of listens on the web. You can log onto or and download "Hillbilly chicks on speed," "Buzz With Me," "Dark Angel," and "Tiger Man." Better still, support local businesses and go to Satori Sound and get the music the old-fashion way.

-- ET

bigcountry.jpg - 15589 BytesKarl Shiflett & Big Country

Hopefully, by Thursday, October 12, your ears should have stopped ringing from the aural avalanche known as BayFest and you will be ready to hear live music again.

OíRourkes on Dauphin Street has booked Karl Shiflett & Big Country, just the type of band to ease you back in the water slowly. Big Country bills themselves as "retro," and we arenít talking mirror balls and polyester. Shiflett and his band take a giant step back in time when country music only had one style: bluegrass. Shiflett has played music all his life. His first instrument was a cigar-box fiddler, just like his grandfather made during the Depression. Now, wearing cowboy outfits and huddling around a single microphone, the Big Country Show is more than a band. Itís a time machine. The guys play Bill Monroe/Flatt and Scruggs-style bluegrass with passion and humor. Their shows include biscuit commercials, turning every performance into a Saturday night radio program.

-- Desmond Barrow


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