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The Best of 2017

Posted on January 12, 2018 at 9:39 PM Comments comments (328)

For the first time in the 21 year history of the Cosmic Cowboy Cafe I found it impossible to separate two albums for the #1 spot so this year I have declared a tie:
= #1 Across The Wide - "Records And Bottles"
= #1 The Reeves Brothers "King Of County Music"
Both these albums are independent releases with outstanding original songs, great vocal , playing and production.
Real country music is alive and well if you know where to look.
In this case Georgia and Nevada.
This is the second release for both groups and their first ones were equally as impressive.

I really don't know how to rank the other albums that make up my Top 10, so I'll list them alphabetically by artist:
* Johnny Bush - The Absolute Johnny Bush
Still at the top of his game at 82
* Darci Carlson - Darci Carlson
Why isn't she huge ? Ameripolitan Music Awards Outlaw Female 2017
Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts Shovel Full of Coal
Hard driving rocking country. Nominees in 2018 Ameripolitan Music Awards in Outlaw Group Category
Ags Connolly - Nothin' Unexpected
A bloody Pom taking coals to Newcastle
Billie Gant - On And On
One of the original "outlaw" greats showing the younguns how it's done
Emily Herring - Gliding
The long awaited follow up to her 2013 "Your Mistake"
* Zephaniah OHora - This Highway
A throwback  the 60s Countrypolitan style - in a good way ! He's from NY so go figure.
* Justin Trevino - A Salute To Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys
Another fine album from Justin who just exudes authenticity. This is country music as God planned it.
Dale Watson & Ray Benson - Dale And Ray Benson
Exactly what you would expect from from a pairing of these two legends of the Austin music scene.

Other notable releases from that I really enjoyed from 2017:
* Glen Campbell - Adios
A fitting swan song from this music legend.
* Rodney Crowell - Close Ties
His best album in decades. "Life Without Susanna" and "Nashville 1972" worth the price of admission alone.
*Sunny Sweeney - Trophy
Her best album since her brilliant 2006 debut album "Heartbreaker's Hall Of Fame"
* Heybale - Play Me A Cheatin' Song/The Songs Of Wayne Kemp
How can you go wrong ?
* Malpass Brothers - Live At The Paramount Theatre
Merle knew just how good these guys are
* The Don Diego Trio - Greeting From Austin
Sicilian rockabilly cats showing the locals how it's done. Three time nominees in Ameripolitan  Music Awards Rockabilly Group category. 2018 just might be their year
* Tom Russell - Folk Hotel
Every Tom Russell is a gem
* Steve Earle & The Dukes - So You Wannabe An Outlaw
A real return to form for Steve Earle
* Rick Shea & The Losin' End - The Town Where I Live
I've been playing this Californian on the show since we began in 1996.
* Eric Brace / Peter Cooper / Thomm Jutz - Profiles In Courage, Frailty & Discomfort
 Veteran duet partners Eric and Peter are  joined by master guitarist, writer and producer Thomm to create something greater than the equal of its parts.
* Cash O'Riley - Stewed & Screwed Hillbilly Blues - Music For Sirens & Sinners
One man band and two time Ameripolitan Music Awards Outlaws Male nominee comes ups with the best album of his career.

The Best of 2015

Posted on January 15, 2016 at 8:34 PM Comments comments (308)
I surely must be the the world's worst blogger. One post a year is pretty pathetic. Note to self: blog more in 2016.

Anyway it's that time of year again - time to make  list of my favourite releases of the past year. For the last two shows Tom the Teacher (ret.) and I have played tracks from our favourites release of 2015 on our  8th Annual Review of the Year That  Was Parts 1 & 2 shows. 

Tom introduced me to some artists I was unaware and whose music I will investigate further and here are his pick of the year:

 Top 10 2015 - Tom the Teacher (ret.) 
 1. Willie Nelson / Merle Haggard - Django & Jimmie 
 2. Dale Watson - Call Me Insane 
 3. Chris Stapleton - Traveler
 4. Wade Davis - 15 Years in A 10 Year Town
 5. Sarah Gayle Meech - Tennessee Love Song
 6. Billy Dee  - For Sale
 7. Max Stalling - Banquet
 8. Chuck Hawthorne - Silver Line
 9. Don Henley - Cass County
10. Amanda Cevallos - Got Me Where You Want Me

Cosmic Cowboy Cafe Album Of The Year 2015
Chuck Hawthorne - Silver Line
Charlie Roth sent me a video of  the song "Post 2 Gate" written in the basement of one of Saddam Hussein's palaces in Baghdad by a marine with 22 yrs service who gave up his gun for a guitar. A chance meeting with Ray Bonneville at an airport led him to produce Chuck Hawthorne's debut album and bring Gurl Morlix and Eliza Gilkyson to the record.

 #2 Sarah Gayle Meech - Tennessee Love Song
 #3 Amanda Cevallos - Got Me Where You Want Me
These are the albums that I probably played the most during the year, both by "Outlaw" gals. Sarah Gayle was the 2015 Ameripolitan Music Awards Best Female Outlaw and Amanda was unlucky not have been nominated  that category in the 
2016 awards.

And of course Dale Watson - Call Me Insane. Just another superb set of songs like we come to  expect from Mr Ameripolitan. The quality and consistency of his musical output  is staggering, not to mention his great stage performances.

2015 was  good year for singer-songwriters, apart from Chuck Hawthorne, The Two Toms, Pacheco and Russell gave us The Rose Of Roscrae and Boomtown respectively. These guys never disappoint. And Minnesotan Charlie Roth delivered another gem with Oh My Stars.

2015 was also the year of the tribute album:
Peter Cooper - Depot Light (Eric Taylor)
The Rizdales - Blue Ain't The Word (Ray Price)
Brennen Leigh - Sings Lefty Frizzle
Asleep At The Wheel - Still The King (Bob Wills)

We had some great kickers country from:
Dallas Moore (Band) - Dark Horse Rider
Whitey Morgan & The 78's - Sonic Ranch
Truckstop Troubadours - Untie The Horses

Honky Tonk music was well served by Billy Dee's long awaited For Sale sign.
Justin Trevino gave us Sings Johnny Bush and Live At The London Dance Hall

 I also really liked Nouveaux Honkies' release Blues For Country for the variety of songs on it and its sheer listenability.

So there you have it - the list of the Best Of 2015 when you're not having a list !

Of course there was so much more great music from 2015 that I haven't listed here.

The Cosmic Cowboy Cafe: 2014 Top 10

Posted on January 3, 2015 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (307)
The Best of 2014 is a much too limiting and exclusive term for my liking but since the Cafe flung open its doors in 1996 there has been an expectation  that I should produce one.

There really is no such thing as the definitive best of anything - it's all subjective and can change on any given day or in any given mood.

The Daredevil Kid" by Craig Moreau is The Cosmic Cowboy Cafe's Album of 2014 because it was the album I played most for my own pleasure. I also love the fact that Craig Moreau has made the hard decision but inevitable decision to follow his muse or be led by his muse after a considerable absence form the music scene.

Led  from Alberta, Calgary to Austin, Texas to record The Daredevil Kid.

The fact that "Sweet Luanne' is one of the best 'hooker" songs of ALL TIME also influenced my decision - "her momma was crazy, her daddy had a heavy hand ..".
This song stands proudly  alongside  Mickey Newbury's "San Francisco Mabel Joy", Townes Van Zandt's "Tecumseh Valley"  and  Paul Siebels "Louise".

I cannot possibly rank albums and the other  9 on my Top 10 are albums that gave me great pleasure during 2014.

 Album Of The Year 2104
Craig Moreau - The Daredevil Kids

and in no particular order:
Brant Croucher - Blanco County Lights
Matt Harlan - Raven Hotel
Brad Boyer - Montagu Hotel
The Bastard Sons Of  Johnny Cash - New Old Story
Stan Martin - Whiskey Morning
JP Harris And The Tough Choices - Home Is Where the Hurt Is
Doug Seegers - Going Down To The River
Arty Hill - Heart On My Dirty Sleeve
Artie Rodriguez - I'll Give You Something To Drink About

Australian Album Of  The Year 2014
Mike McClellan - Dancing In The Rain

Wish I was there

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 12:39 PM Comments comments (295)
Two of my favourite singer songwriters on the same bill on NYE

Now that would have been almost as good as the NYE fireworks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge

New Dale Watson Album

Posted on January 11, 2013 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (288)
I received my advance copy of  Dale Watson & His Lonestars new album from Ellen Stanley at Red House Records just in time to debut it last night's show.

A new album by Dale Watson is an event. Since his Hightone debut  with Cheatin' Heart Attack Dale Watson has set the benchmark for modern honky tonk.

I still get  a thrill every time I hear the opening bars of the title track and remember how blown away I was on first hearing the "punk Merle Haggard" one Saturday morning at Yesterday & Today Records back in 1995.

Dale's newie El Rancho Azul , his 21st album and his second on Red 
House records, was recorded at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio in Austin.

He is backed by  His Lonestars, his crack touring band.

Check El Rancho Azul out at or

It's only January but we have already found a contender for the best album of 2113.

I hope we get to see Dale & His Lonestars back in Australia this year to support El Ranch Azul.

When he was last here in 2011 his poor treatment by Tiger Airways inspired a song and video which went viral on YouTube:

OOPS - almost forgot

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (151)
So many great releases this year that I forgot to make mention of Willie  Nelson's Heroes. This is Willie's most consistently good album for many years. His son, Lukas,contributes three of his own songs and vocals. His brother Micah  Nelson also appears on the final track with Lukas.
Other guest include  Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver,  Ray Price, Jamey Johnson, Sheryl Crow (who caught Willie's "gotta duet with everybody" disease long ago)  and Snoop Dogg.

Q. Why did Willie Nelson cross the road ?
A.  To do a duet with the chicken

I also forgot to mention the wonderful 2012 albums by Tom Pacheco and Ronny Elliott.

Tom's Luminol: The Houston Sessions is classic Tom Pacheco - great stories and social comment. Woodie Guthrie would have been proud to have written Tom's Solidarity. 
The Girl With The Blue Guitar & The Black Beret is a little cinematic vignette.

Ronny titled his album I've Been Meaning To Write as it's been 5 years since the release of Jalopypaint. This is classic Ronny Elliot.  Mojo magazine describes his music as "Craggy but literary country blues like Jerry Lee Lewis if he were a beat poet or Townes Van Zandt with a Ph.D."
I love his line "she's sleeping her way to the bottom" from the track A Doctor And A Lawyer.

Tom the Teacher's Best of 2012

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM Comments comments (165)
Last night Tom the Teacher (retired) joined me for what was our 5th annual "The Year That Was" show.

Here are Tom's Top 10  albums for 2012:
 1. Chris Wall - El Western Motel
 2. Willie Nelson - Heroes
 3. Gary P. Nunn - One Way Or Another
 4. James Hand - Mighty Lonesome Man
 5. Todd Fritsch  - Up There In The Saddle
 6. Leyla Fences - Itty Bitty Twang Twang
 7. Kelly Spinks - Right Out Of This World
 8. Tim Culpepper - Pourin' Whiskey On Pain 
 9. Wesley Dennis - Country Enough
10. Waylon Jennings - Goin' Down Rockin'

Best of 2012

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (287)
2012 saw a slew of fantastic releases.

This is the first time in 16 years I've wimped out and had a shared #1 album of the year.

Leyla Fences “Itty Bitty Twang Twang” was my favourite album for the last half of the year, then Chris Wall releases his first album in 10 years “El Western Motel” and rockets to the #1 spot.

I could not possibly split them.

Chris Wall - along with the 2 Toms (Russell & Pacheco) is the most literate song writer of out time - music like Chris Wall's is the reason I have been presenting my radio show for the last 16 years.

Leyla Fences has clever lyrics , memorable melodies, great playing and production - modern honky tonk classics with a nod to the practical feminism of Loretta Lynn.

Balance of my Top 10 ( in no particular order)
Todd Fritsch - Up There In The Saddle
Rodney Hayden - Atascosa Sand
Mighty Lonesome Man - James Hand
Small Town Kid - Jack Higginbotham
Billy Don Burns - Nights When I Am Sober
Tartan Cactus Heart - Charlie Roth
Greg Tressell - The Hard Way
Jesse Dayton - Jesse Sings Kinky
Aaron Watson - Real Good Time

It was a great year for music from groups:
The Great Unknowns - S/T
The Washers - Tired Eyes
JP Harris & The Tough Choices -  I'll Keep Calling
Jason Arnold & The Sidesteppers - Crazy Things
J.W.W. & The Prospectors - It's High Past Time

And singer-songwriters:
Nanci Griffith - Intersection
Matt Harlan - Bow And Be Simple
Walt Wilkins - Plenty
Jimmy LaFave - Depending On The Distance

Tommy Alverson was busy with 2 new releases - Pickin' On Willie and  Texas One More  Time as well as a re-release of  Live At Ozona's.

Lost gonzo Gary P. Nunn came up with one of  his best albums One Way Or Another.

We were treated to Waylon Jennings'  "last album'"  Goin' Down Rockin'  and great live albums from Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver.

Bob Dylan's Tempest  is his best since Street Legal.

And Neil Young was back with Crazy Horse for two great  2012 albums - Americana and Psychedelic Pill.   Twisted Road from the latter is one of his best songs ever !

The best Australian release of 2012 was Catherine Britt's Always Never Enough.
Recorded in Jimmy LaFave's Cedar Creek Studio in Austin  , she co-produced it with Kasey's dad, Bill Chambers who also plays guitar and mandolin on the album
All the songs are originals with the exception of Guy Clark's She Ain't Goin' Nowhere on which the writer shares the vocals.
Other guests on the album include the ubiquitous Lloyd Maines, Gurf Morlix, Ray Bonneville and Jimmy LaFave. Also Aussie indie music legend Tim Rogers (You Am I) sings with Catherine on one track.

New Program Director at 2RRR

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (345)
At 2RRR's AGM last Monday I was appointed  program director .

The gig involves  helping create and maintain a diverse program schedule, overseeing the quality of the station's programming and maintaining regulatory compliance as well as liaising with presenters at the station.

The PD is also the guy that most people love to hate at the station  - I was told this AFTER I accepted the position.

Guess I'll just have to wait and see !

New Chris Wall album

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 8:18 PM Comments comments (227)
It's only taken Chris Wall ten years for  to follow up  "Just Another Place" with "El Western Motel" on his Cold Spring  Record label.

Texas music's most literate songwriter is still exploring his favourite themes of love lost and the trials and tribulations of performing.

The album's one page say's it all:
Like all of Wall’s previous work, El Western Motel pulls no punches and dodges no attacks. It’s equal parts mea culpa, apology, and defiant bluster bolstered by the usual assortment of concise, insightful lyrics that have been a hallmark of Wall’s career. 

The ubiquitous Lloyd Maines ( do this guy ever sleep ?) plays some wonderful dobro, resonator, slide and lead guitar on the album as well as co-producing with Chris and Merel Bregante.

The album was recorded in Bregante's studio in Austin.

Cody Braun from Reckless Kelly plays fiddle and mandolin.

Reckless Kelly backed Chris on "Tainted Angel" back in 1998.

Listen to this record and the listen to all Chris Wall's previous releases.

They will make you life a better place.

Music like "El Western Morel" is the reason I keep the Cosmic Cowboy Cafe open for business