Thursday, August 14, 2008

Southern Rock: It's More Than Just Skynyrd

Around the mid-1990s, I became interested in country music. The first artists I enjoyed were Alan Jackson, Sammy Kershaw and Garth Brooks. Then I heard something a bit different in the music of Travis Tritt. It was country, but with more of a rock/blues style. Travis always starts his shows with the song "Put Some Drive in Your Country". In the song he talks of his influences, ranging from country classics like Roy Acuff and George Jones, to artists like Hank Williams Jr. and Waylon Jennings. My favorite line of the song says..."Well I made myself a promise, when I was just a kid, I'd mix southern rock and country, and that's just what I did". Another line says "Man I miss Duane Allman, I wish he was still around". (Sometimes in concert he substitutes the names Stevie Ray Vaughan or Waylon Jennings). So it got me thinking, who is Duane Allman and what is southern rock all about? I idolized Travis so much that I figured if he likes it, it must be some good stuff. I had heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd but did not know much about them or their genre of music. Much of southern rock originated in Florida and the most prominent bands peaked in the 1970s. So, here are some of my favorite southern rock bands with some of their best known songs listed.

Lynyrd Skynyrd---Freebird, Sweet Home Alabama, Gimmee Three Steps
Allman Brothers Band---Ramblin' Man, Melissa, Statesboro Blues
Marshall Tucker Band---Can't You See, Heard it in a Love Song
Molly Hatchett---Flirtin' with Disaster
Charlie Daniels Band---Devil Went Down to Georgia, The South's Gonna do it Again
.38 Special---Hold on Loosely
Stevie Ray Vaughan---Pride and Joy, Taxman (Some may consider him a blues artist, but there are southern rock influences in his music).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prominent Bands in the Genre of Ska Music

During the mid to late 1990s, ska music had a resurgence, and I have been hooked ever since. The genre originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s. It is distinctive music, which is made up of a mixture of calypso/reggae, jazz, and rhythm and blues. I like the fact that ska bands have horns, usually consisting of a trumpet, trombone and saxophone player. There are three periods of ska music, starting with the Jamaican music, then the 2 tone period in England in the late 1970s, and the 3rd wave starting in the 1980s. The most well known band in the 2 tone period was Madness, which had an international hit in 1982 with Our House. The most visible ska band during the 3rd wave had to be No Doubt. Their 1995 Tragic Kingdom album was a smash hit and their success led to countless other bands springing up. Gwen Stefani has done well as a solo artist, and the band No Doubt has changed their sound from a decade ago. They are scheduled to release a new album in 2009. Like No Doubt, Mighty Mighty Bosstones formed in the mid 1980s but did not have wide commercial success until a decade later. In 1997 their release, Let's Face It, contained the single The Impression That I Get, which rose to number one on the Billboard charts. Since 2000 the Bosstones have not had as much commercial success and the members have moved on to other projects. Lead singer Dicky Barrett has worked in LA radio and as an announcer for the Jimmy Kimmel show. The band has not broken up and they still tour occassionally, primarily in New England, where they are more prominent than other parts of the country.

Other third wave ska band that I enjoy include;
The Aquabats
The Insyderz (Christian ska band)
Less Than Jake
Let's Go Bowling
The OC Supertones
Reel Big Fish (great band with a wacky sense of humor)
Save Ferris (they did a remake of Come On Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners)
The Toasters (check out their song 2 Tone Army)

*Some source information from