3 Pillars of Americana: Family, Fusion, and the Hard Stuff


I’ve been thinking a lot about Americana music lately, mostly because my band The Fence Sitters (aka The Fence Cutters) were firmly wedged in that category. Fair enough – we had banjos and mandolins and harmony vocals and told stories in our songs. It never really rankled me, although to us we were just making songs and having fun playing them and using what instruments we had.
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The Fifteen Best Ry Cooder Records, and Why You Should Drop Everything and Study Them Now

Ry Cooders fifteen best albums

Ry Cooder has put out, by quick reference, over 80 albums, collaborations, and soundtracks over his 50-year career. Along that time he has innovated technically (his 1979 record Bop Till You Drop was the first DDD album – recorded, mixed and mastered digitally!) and musically (his direct influence on the Rolling Stones, Little Feat, and Captain Beefheart is clear and undeniable). He also introduced many musical geniuses to the world stage – Flaco Jimenez, Gabby Pahinui, Ali Farka Toure, and the whole Buena Vista Social Club, for example. AND his soundtrack work in the 1980s painted memorable moments in Paris, Texas and a dozen or so other movies (I particularly enjoyed Alamo Bay and, yes, Crossroads).
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John Fahey to Marisa Anderson: American Primitive Guitar Past and Present

American Primitive Guitar John Fahey to Marisa Anderson and Beyond

Like most stories for me, this one begins with memories of my father. Many of the songs he would play on the guitar (and later after arthritis set in on the piano) would be chord/melody pieces – hammering out the fundament with his thumb and plucking the melody up top – and thus definable as American Primitive Guitar. Once guitar became interesting to me, and I picked up a few of the licks from those pieces, he immediately started offering bounties on Chet Atkins tunes (“I’ll give you $50 if you learn ‘Little Roundabout'”). That was hard – there was no youtube, and very few people to ask (Chet Atkins didn’t live next door) – so I moved on to other things.
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Listen Along: More Blue Than Green by The Fence Sitters

More Blue Than Green The Fencesitters Acoustic Americana

Hey – the day has arrived! The Fence Sitters first album, More Blue Than Green, is now available on all major streaming services like Spotify – worldwide – and downloads (and a few of the remaining copies of the physical CD) are for sale through CD Baby.

In recognition of this occasion, I have decided to launch a series called Listen Along, which is basically live blogs of my favorite albums. I think of it as a DVD commentary track – or like that VH1 show where they told you stuff about the songs and videos. Anyways….
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New Fence Sitters and Fence Cutters Releases and other news

Texas summer has sure been hot, and I’ve been on a pretty hot streak as well:

  • Record Release
    • Baby Got Bacteria’s Boo came out in May
  • New Recordings
    • Zirque Bois d’Arc’s Voo Doo Deux is back in the work’s with Peter
    • Peter, Sam, David Hobizal and I recorded about 2 and a half hours of improvised awesomeness at Chico’s studio (MicroMega) that both David and Sam are going to toy with and turn into some songs – it’s really pretty fantastic as is and I can’t wait to see what they come up with
    • Home Demos for possible bass-led album, and possible follow up to The Fall Will Probably Kill You
  • The Continuum
    • Your Face My Face played our annual show at Me Mer Mo Monday
    • I played a solo Zirque show where I did some old Fenecsitters and Fencecutters material, along with some Songs about Russia, a few tracks from Voo Doo Deux and even (gasp) a couple of covers.
  • New Projects and Writing
    • Amy Hackerd and I are going to record some stuff the first half of August, so I am busy gathering ideas and writing new tunes. Not really sure what this is going to sound like, but looking forward to sharing it with you
    • The Flato Van Vleck/Zirque Bois d’Arc Space Desert Opera is still in its infancy, but I am very excited about how it is going.
    • This durn website – I’m writing all sorts of content that will show up as soon as it doesn’t suck
    • I’m doing another Zirque solo show at the Carousel Lounge on August 26!

    But the most immediate coolness is that we are (finally) making the Fence Sitters and Fence Cutters catalog digital!

    • Tuesday, August 1 – More Blue Than Green digital release (a few copies of the physical cd will be available at CD Baby)
    • Tuesday, August 15 – Extended Play digital release (a few copies at CD Baby)
    • Tuesday, August 29 – Horses and Asses digital release (a few copies at CD Baby)
    • Friday, September 1 – Mission to Mars full release

    I’ll talk more about each of these as it happens, but we are all very excited! and there are even tentative plans to record a fifth record this winter!

    That’s it for now – try to stay in the shade, drink lots of water and check out this Song About Russia from my solo Zirque show: