Posted tagged ‘John Mellencamp’

New Music Review: “Long Way Back” by Hillbilly Vegas

October 31, 2014

I must confess, when I stumbled upon Hillbilly Vegas a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect.

As I looked at the name, I imagined Duck Dynasty meets the guys from Pawn Stars. In reality, after checking out their website, and listening to a ton of their music, I’ve found them to be more of a mixture of Blackhawk, Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp. Sounds good, right?

They intrigued me and I can say that I’ve been listening to their upcoming single, “Long Way Back”, on repeat for the last 8 hours straight (and I’m still not tired of it). From the vocals of lead singer Steve Harris, to the guitar work of Johnny Reed, as well as the rest of the band including Troy Hollinger, Robb Edwards and Stacey Thornburg, this song, which was co-written by Harris and Reed, is destined to be a hit.

Vegas

Before I get to the music, let me start with a little background.

“Long Way Back” is a very special song for the members of Hillbilly Vegas. According to the band, the upcoming video is going to be used by an organization known as Battle Saint who works tirelessly raising money to build treatment facilities for PTSD and traumatic brain injuries in returning veterans.  The Zac Brown Band and the creators of HBO’s Band of Brothers are also supporters of the organization.  The soon to be released video for “Long Way Back” will feature the great things Battle Saint does along with a number of veterans and their families. I, for one, can’t wait.

Now, onto the song itself:

Judging by the description above, this obviously isn’t a song simply about graduating high school and getting out of town as fast as you can. There’s a lot more to it than that, and that’s why “Long Way Back” is indeed a special song. While the melody and the music pull you in, it’s the lyrics that hooked me, and reminded me of my adolescence and my own struggle, wanting to get out of where I was. They say the grass is always greener, right? In the end, I knew it would be a long way back, and I still haven’t gotten there just yet.

“There’s a two-lane, blacktop, leading in and out of town”

I think a lot of us can relate to that.I grew up in Petaluma, California, which was about 30,000 people when I lived there. For the most part, we had two roads in and out of town, and both were just two lanes. It’s a symbol of old town America, the towns we grew up in.

“…and nothing ever happens no matter how long you hang around”

Remind you of your teen years growing up? I don’t care how large your hometown was, it never, ever felt like anything was going on. You always needed to be somewhere else. Where the girls were. Where the parties were. Certainly, not there. It’s funny how your perspective changes once you get out. Once you see the world. The good. The bad. The scary. Makes you think about how safe, and enjoyable, your hometown really was.

“There’s a girl back there that I used to call babe. Yes she said she’d wait but I bet by now she’s called it a day.”

While I never served, many members of my family did across a number of branches of the military. I’ve also seen it in movies where the boy heads off to battle, only to return, afraid that she’s no longer waiting for him. I can’t imagine the heartbreak. But I think that there’s a double meaning here. What about the soldiers who return who aren’t just afraid of the girl they loved and lost, but that everyone has forgotten about them. What about their kids birthdays they missed. Anniversaries. Graduations. The list goes on and on. These men and women give up everything to protect us. They should NEVER be forgotten.

“But if I ever find my way back. From wherever I’ve been. I ain’t leaving again.”

Ain’t that the truth. I know that if I could do it all over again, and I could go back and live my life in that small town, I would. Not sure why I wanted to get out so fast. Maybe it was the small town atmosphere. Maybe it was looking for my freedom. Either way, I miss that small town life. I’ve tried to bring it back by moving to a small town here in Oregon, but it’ll never be the same as my hometown. I can’t imagine the feelings that the men and women of the military have when they return home. After a year, two years or more. Away from their families…their friends. It might be a long way back, but I’d never want to leave again.

My Final Take

A good song…you’ll remember. A great song…you’ll never forget!

“Long Way Back” is certainly the latter. It’s a well written piece of lyrical genius with plenty of emotion to make you want to put it on repeat (like I did) and listen over and over again. This isn’t a fly-by-night song that you’ll hear on your local station a few times, only to disappear into the abyss. “Long Way Back” has staying power. It’s different than anything I’ve heard recently on country radio, and that makes it special.

This is the type of song that takes a band like Hillbilly Vegas and pulls them from obscurity, and puts them directly in the center of the country music map.

When you get the chance, check them out on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @hillbillyvegas.

You can also find “Long Way Back” on iTunes and Amazon.com. The song comes out next week (November 6, 2014) and I suggest you take a listen today. You won’t regret it!

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CD Review: Trailer Choir “Off The Hillbilly Hook”

June 18, 2009

If you haven’t heard of Trailer Choir yet, get ready, you soon will.

Signed by Toby Keith’s Show Dog Nashville in 2007, the band consists of three members: Butter, Crystal and Big Vinnie.

From their Web site:

Trailer Choir started as a loose association of musicians and singers, usually including Butter and Big Vinny, traveling the Southeast playing private parties and frat houses.

Not long after they began performing together, Crystal jumped on stage adding the finishing harmonies to the group. Soon they were having so much fun that folks started to notice. Quotable lines and good time songs only touch on the Trailer Choir experience.

Full effects can only be felt live and in-person, where we find master of ceremonies, comic ringleader and front man Butter, smooth and soulful Louisiana girl Crystal and worm popping small town big boy Big Vinny. Because you just haven’t lived until you’ve seen a 400-pound man do the pop worm in the middle of a country show.

On June 9, Trailer Choir released their new album “Off the Hillbilly Hook.” The CD features the radio favorite ballad “What Would You Say” the title track, “Off the Hillbilly Hook” (which was featured in Toby Keith’s movie “Beer For My Horses) and what is sure to be a highly requested summer anthem, “Rockin’ the Beer Gut”.

From beginning to end, the 6 song album is a crowd pleaser. There is a little something for everyone on this album, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

“Rockin’ the Beer Gut” is an ode to those ladies at the bar who might not always get the attention they deserve. With lines such as “The first thing that caught my eye…she was rockin’ the beer gut” and “it’s just some extra love around her waist” well, you know how this one will turn out.

“Rollin’ Through the Sunshine” is a fun, happy song, that just makes you feel good. This tune brings me back to my early college days when Len had their own hit “Steal My Sunshine”. While the two songs are completely different, you still get that “life is good” feeling listening to them.

“In My Next Five Beers” demonstrates that you don’t need to think about the future, where you’re going, or where you need to be in the next five years. What you need to do is think about where you’re going to be five beers from now, whether it’s out and about, or sitting right there in the same chair you’re already in.

“What Would You Say” hit the radio a few months back and has been a mainstay since, at least on KRTY in the Bay Area and other stations that frequently play the amazingly well written song. A tribute to those men lost in the West Virginia mine tragedy a few years back, this song makes you truly think about your life, if you have lived it to the fullest, and if you only had a few minutes left, and just a pad of paper, what would you say.

The title track to the CD, “Off The Hillbilly Hook”, is the first Trailer Choir song I ever heard. I first heard the tune at a concert at the Shoreline Ampitheater in the Bay Area when the band opened for Montgomery Gentry and Toby Keith. Rumor has it that KRTY’s own Indiana Al is the man behind the title to this country/rap hit and if you don’t think that these two genres of music can mix, then you must listen to this song. You’ll be “Hillbilly Hooked!”

Overall, “Off the Hillbilly Hook” is an album for everyone. It has a great mix of country, rap, ballads and more. You can listen to the tracks on the bands Web site or MySpace page but I recommend shelling out the money and buying the album as soon as you can. These guys may not be big just yet, but they have the talent to make it in the business and you better get on the bandwagon before it’s too late!

My only hope is that the band will come out with a Live CD/DVD soon. The music on the CD is good, but it’s the stage show that truly makes the band who they are. If Trailer Choir comes to your town, be sure to check out the show. You’ll have a set list which includes Trailer Choir material as well as songs by the Steve Miller Band, John Mellencamp, Sublime and more! Do I need to add a country version of “Baby Got Back”? It’s true!

Buy the album, check out a show. You won’t regret either!

Jackson Browne Sues John McCain

August 15, 2008

I guess John McCain will soon be “Running on Empty”. Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne has filled a lawsuit against Presidential candidate John McCain for using his song “Running on Empty” without his permission.

From the Associated Press:

The lawsuit claims the song’s use was an infringement of his copyright and will lead people to conclude he endorses McCain. The suit says Browne is a lifelong liberal who is as well-known for his music as for being “an advocate for social and environmental justice.”

The advertisement mocks Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s contention that if U.S. drivers got regular tuneups and drove on properly inflated tires, they could save the same amount of oil that would be gained by offshore drilling. According to the suit, “Running on Empty” plays in the background of the ad criticizing the remarks.

And from the Wall Street Journal:

Yesterday, Browne reportedly filed a copyright infringement suit against both McCain and the Republican National Committee in U.S. District Court in L.A. seeking a permanent injunction as well as damages. Here’s a report from the L.A. Times’ Top of the Ticket blog.

A McCain spokesman told the LAT that the ad in question is not a McCain campaign ad but one put together by the Ohio Republican Party.

Browne’s attorney, Lawrence Y. Iser believes otherwise: “We have sued the Ohio Republican Party as well, and we have been informed and believe that McCain and his campaign were well aware of the ad.” Iser said the lawsuit “is not politically motivated. It’s a copyright infringement lawsuit, pure and simple, but the fact that Sen. McCain has used this song in a hit-piece on Barack Obama is anathema to Jackson.” (The LAT notes that Browne gave Obama $2,000 shortly after he won his Senate seat in 2004 and another $2,300 in March.)

I remember when John Mellencamp was involved in a similar lawsuit years ago when Ronald Reagan used his song “Pink Houses” in his campaign. ABBA has also been involved in a lawsuit as well.

The singer claims his reputation has already been damaged and is seeking more than $75,000 in damages. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out but I’ll be putting my money on Browne. Thoughts?