Next up in the MusicRiot 2016 High Fives is a contribution from Dallas bass player, songwriter and manager Ward Richmond, better known as The Warden. There are some great lines on his eponymous album released earlier this year, including (from the raucous “Our Town”) ‘Miller Lites and shots and fights’ and the run-out at the end of “Sun Goes Down” which sort of sums up the album: ‘What it lacks in proficiency and accuracy is surely duly matched in sheer moxie’. Many thanks to Ward for sharing his favourites with us. If you’re particularly observant, you might notice that there are actually six entries here; bass players always like to go one higher. And DFW is Dallas/Fort Worth.

margo-priceMargo Price – “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”

This one by far is my favorite album of the year. 10 Thumbs up. Once “Hands of Time” comes to an end, you will be in love with this woman -- and her songs.

 

 

luke-bellLuke Bell – “Luke Bell”

Pure old school Texas-style honky-tonk. Do yourself a favor and watch the music video for “Sometimes”. It makes me want to move to Nashville and be roommates with this dude.

 

 

cody-jinksCody Jinks – “I’m Not the Devil”

Cody is from the Dallas/ Ft. Worth area. George Strait meets Waylon Jennings. The real deal. The title track says it all.

 

 

 

vandoliersVandoliers – “Ameri-Kinda”

Another DFW band. The scene here in North Texas is really becoming the strongest that I’ve ever seen it over the course of 20+ years of playin’ around town and the Vandos are leading the charge. If “Bottom Dollar Boy” doesn’t get your toes a tappin’, then I don’t know what will…

the-osThe O’s – “Honeycomb

And another DFW band. Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down, yet? This has to be my favorite Alt Folk duo in the world. The O’s also happen to be two of my good friends and bandmates in our project, Boys Named Sue. “Retribution” is my favorite track. I wish I wrote it. (We loved this at Riot Towers as well).

 

paul-cauthenPaul Cauthen – “My Gospel”

I met Paul literally 30 seconds after I met Kris Kristofferson. The next thing I knew he was onstage singing a song with Kris. “Still Drivin’” is my anthem for 2016.

When Country Was Proud titleEarlier this year I reviewed Ags Connolly’s excellent first album, “How About Now”, which was produced by Dean Owens. The album opens with “When Country was Proud” and it’s a pretty good choice as the lead track for the EP as well; it’s very accessible (if you have the slightest leanings at all towards country music, you’ll be singing along) and it’s a manifesto for Ags and the Ameripolitan movement generally. The song harks back to the glory days of country with references to Johnny Paycheck, David Allen Coe, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Hank Snow, contrasting the outlaws with the sanitised state of modern popular country, and it’s difficult to disagree. On an album that’s absolutely packed with great songs, this one stands out as a single.

The remaining two songs on the EP are from a solo session Ags did for Resonance FM earlier this year. “She Doesn’t Need Anyone Anymore” is a slow ballad about losing touch with a good friend, while the more uptempo “Trusty Companion” with its 60s sounding sus4 chords is a more hopeful look at relationships and possibly a companion piece to the album’s beautiful closing song “How About Now”. It’s interesting to hear these stripped-down live versions because they highlight the strength of the songs; if they work in that format, there’s no doubt that they’re good. The format also shows that Ags has a truly great voice for country music; with only an acoustic guitar for backing he sounds flawless.

The single is certainly worth adding to your collection for the live session, but if you really want to treat yourself, get your hands on the 180g vinyl version of the album which is released on Monday November 10.

“When Country was Proud” is out now on Drumfire Records.