Interviewing Kings of Leon before they took the throne

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 25, 2003 By Steve Newton There’s a real buzz happening right now about Kings of Leon, a scruffy Tennessee quartet consisting of three brothers and a cousin who are winning praise for their garage-y brand of Southern-flavoured guitar rock. England’s prestigious NME put the band on the cover … Continue reading Interviewing Kings of Leon before they took the throne

Link Wray licks led to Los Straitjackets’ Supersonic Guitars in 3-D

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 18, 2003 By Steve Newton Guitarist Eddie Angel was playing at a Nashville club in 1986, opening up for underrated roots-twang merchants Webb Wilder, when his future bandmate, Danny Amis, showed up. During the set, Angel caught the attention of the instrumentally minded Amis with a Link Wray … Continue reading Link Wray licks led to Los Straitjackets’ Supersonic Guitars in 3-D

Drive-By Truckers tone down the Skynyrdisms on Decoration Day

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 7, 2003 By Steve Newton Two years ago the Drive-By Truckers took the music world by surprise with Southern Rock Opera, a sprawling, two-CD concept album about ’70s rock and southern U.S. culture that focused on the legend of doomed Dixie rock act Lynyrd Skynyrd. The independent release … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers tone down the Skynyrdisms on Decoration Day

Tony Furtado dedicates song on American Gypsy to Americana great John Hartford

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 5, 2002 By Steve Newton Twelve seems to be an age that many musicians—and music fans—look back on as being influential in the formation of their musical tastes. I can remember spending countless hours as a 12-year-old sprawled on my parents’ living-room rug, poring over the lyrics … Continue reading Tony Furtado dedicates song on American Gypsy to Americana great John Hartford

The Donnas love horror, wish Freddie Krueger would Spend the Night

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 24, 2002 By Steve Newton When yours truly hooks up via cell with Donnas vocalist Brett Anderson, she’s in the band’s bus as it winds through the Colorado mountains en route to Salt Lake City and the first of four shows with New York City hotshots the Strokes. … Continue reading The Donnas love horror, wish Freddie Krueger would Spend the Night

Leftover Salmon’s The Nashville Sessions should have won a Grammy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 15, 2002 By Steve Newton I’d never actually heard Leftover Salmon until two weeks ago, when a copy of The Nashville Sessions came across my desk. That’s when I knew I’d really been missing something. On that 1999 disc, the self-styled “polyrhythmic Cajun slamgrass” group from Colorado is … Continue reading Leftover Salmon’s The Nashville Sessions should have won a Grammy

David Lindley says its serious time for the oud

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 8, 2002 By Steve Newton A while back I made one of my regular visits to Zulu Records and noticed that they were giving stuff away. Not great stuff—there were no limited-edition Hellecasters CDs or Jeff Beck bootlegs—but in the box of vinyl castoffs and local cassettes … Continue reading David Lindley says its serious time for the oud

Fuzz-pedal ripoff leads Fu Manchu to stack guitar tones on California Crossing

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 4, 2002 By Steve Newton On their latest CD, California Crossing, SoCal guitar-rockers Fu Manchu took a slightly different musical approach than they had before, toning down the fuzz to produce a cleaner, sharper guitar sound. Part of the change had to do with the band’s willingness to … Continue reading Fuzz-pedal ripoff leads Fu Manchu to stack guitar tones on California Crossing

King’s X guitarist Ty Tabor is not into chops for chops’ sake

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 20, 2002 By Steve Newton When I reach King’s X guitarist Ty Tabor by phone in Cleveland, he’s just gotten back from doing several weeks of guitar clinics in Southeast Asia, helping to promote his signature series of Yamaha guitars in countries like Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Most … Continue reading King’s X guitarist Ty Tabor is not into chops for chops’ sake

The John Butler Trio just said no to American record labels

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 23, 2002 BY STEVE NEWTON It doesn’t take long to figure out that Australian singer-songwriter and slide-guitar ace John Butler is an issue-oriented kinda guy. In the CD booklet that accompanies his trio’s latest disc, Three, one page is loaded with facts detailing the ongoing destruction of his … Continue reading The John Butler Trio just said no to American record labels

Cracker’s David Lowery on The Big Lebowski, Camper Van Beethoven, and Forever

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 2, 2002 By Steve Newton After a few listens to the new Cracker CD, Forever, I came to the conclusion that the title track—with its infectious jangle and big-toned, Duane Eddy–style guitar riff—was the standout among the disc’s 13 tunes. My overwhelming fondness for that song had me … Continue reading Cracker’s David Lowery on The Big Lebowski, Camper Van Beethoven, and Forever

Paul Kelly wonders if “Every Fucking City” will go over in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 21, 2002 By Steve Newton There are a couple of favourite things that come to mind when I recall my five-week holiday in Australia in ’86. One is what they called the “drive-in bottleshops”. You could just pull in off the street and have some guy hand you … Continue reading Paul Kelly wonders if “Every Fucking City” will go over in Vancouver

Jerry Cantrell doesn’t need no stinkin’ manager, or record label either

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 19, 2001 By Steve Newton Not every established rock star in the world has a recording contract. Some of them don’t even have managers. Take Jerry Cantrell, for instance. The former guitarist for Seattle grunge-metal heroes Alice in Chains has no label and no manager, so it’s a … Continue reading Jerry Cantrell doesn’t need no stinkin’ manager, or record label either

Southern Culture on the Skids’ Rick Miller loves Link Wray and Danelectros

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 8, 2001 By Steve Newton True to its name, Southern Culture on the Skids has always endeavoured to promote the stereotypical lifestyles of the culturally challenged dwellers in the former Confederate states. On previous CDs like Dirt Track Date and Plastic Seat Sweat, the North Carolina roots-rockers told … Continue reading Southern Culture on the Skids’ Rick Miller loves Link Wray and Danelectros

“It’s rough all over the world,” says R.L. Burnside, “even down in Mississippi some.”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 18, 2001 BY STEVE NEWTON R.L. Burnside is one of the most popular blues artists around today, but up until five years ago he was barely known outside of his native northern Mississippi hill country. After being featured in the 1991 documentary film Deep Blues, and releasing the … Continue reading “It’s rough all over the world,” says R.L. Burnside, “even down in Mississippi some.”

Good daughter Sarah Harmer goes solo with You Were Here

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 2, 2000 Sarah Harmer is a good daughter. And I’m not just saying that because, when the Ontario singer-songwriter rings the Straight, she’s calling from the basement of Chalmers United Church in Guelph. (Her trio is playing an all-ages show there that night.) No, Sarah Harmer is a … Continue reading Good daughter Sarah Harmer goes solo with You Were Here

3 Doors Down thank Superman for “Kryptonite” and God for The Better Life

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 11, 2000 By Steve Newton At my third annual 40th-birthday bash a few weeks back, a little mickey of Fireball whiskey talked me into taking an extended turn behind the borrowed drum kit set up in our garage. In my altered state I thought I sounded just peachy … Continue reading 3 Doors Down thank Superman for “Kryptonite” and God for The Better Life

Wacky NRBQ celebrates the phenomenon of the tap-dancing bats

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 24, 2000 By Steve Newton If there were such a thing as the Illustrated Dictionary of Pop-Rock, you could probably look up the word whimsical and see a picture of Toronto’s clown princes of pop, the Barenaked Ladies. Or maybe not. Nowadays that spot may be filled by … Continue reading Wacky NRBQ celebrates the phenomenon of the tap-dancing bats

Richard Buckner’s “barely earned” B.A. helped him drop his “Jewelbomb” gem

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 6, 1999 “Jewelbomb”, the fourth track on Richard Buckner’s Since CD, was one of my favourite tunes last year. It’s a finely crafted gem that beautifully combines Buckner’s resonant voice, exquisite wordplay, and knack for catchy hooks. In other words, it has hit single written all over it. … Continue reading Richard Buckner’s “barely earned” B.A. helped him drop his “Jewelbomb” gem

Fastball’s “The Way” is arguably the catchiest pop tune of 1998

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 26, 1998 By Steve Newton Fastball’s “The Way” is arguably the catchiest pop tune of the year. The bouncy ditty about a couple who wake up one day and hit the road, leaving their past lives (and current children) behind for “an exit to eternal summer slacking”, became … Continue reading Fastball’s “The Way” is arguably the catchiest pop tune of 1998

Steve Kilbey says his band feels like the Church again

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 24, 1998 By Steve Newton That big old vinyl collection of mine sure comes in handy sometimes. Up until last week I had no idea that it included anything by the Church, but in preparation for a chat with singer-bassist Steven Kilbey, I took a hopeful meander through … Continue reading Steve Kilbey says his band feels like the Church again

Teen tunesmiths unplug for dark but down-home Days of the New

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 26, 1998 Days of the New is different from most international recording acts in a couple of ways. First off, the average age of the Louisville, Kentucky–based quartet is 19. Then there’s the fact that it’s a full-on guitar band that doesn’t have much use for Les Pauls … Continue reading Teen tunesmiths unplug for dark but down-home Days of the New

Ventures guitarist Don Wilson on the origin and influence of “Walk, Don’t Run”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 13, 1997 By Steve Newton When Ventures cofounder Bob Bogle walked onto a Seattle used-car lot one afternoon in 1959, he wasn’t expecting to form the nucleus of what would become the world’s top-selling instrumental-rock band—he was just looking for some new wheels. Fortunately, he ran into aspiring … Continue reading Ventures guitarist Don Wilson on the origin and influence of “Walk, Don’t Run”

Pimped-out La-Z-Boys, shotguns, and crackheads colour S.C.O.T.S.’ Plastic Seat Sweat

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 9, 1997 By Steve Newton Some rock musicians search high and low for inspiration, while others just find it cruising around with a tow-truck driver high on crack. That’s what happened with “40 Miles to Vegas”, one of the wildest tracks on the new Southern Culture on the … Continue reading Pimped-out La-Z-Boys, shotguns, and crackheads colour S.C.O.T.S.’ Plastic Seat Sweat

Chicago blues legend Otis Rush still gets around: “It’s a job, you know, and I got to work.”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 19, 1997 By Steve Newton In conversation, blues legend Otis Rush comes across like one of his classic guitar solos: direct and to the point. He’s no fancy talker, but he gets to the heart of the matter. When the Georgia Straight tracks the 62-year-old musician down at … Continue reading Chicago blues legend Otis Rush still gets around: “It’s a job, you know, and I got to work.”

Nomadic tendencies and Jimmy Page colour Chris Whitley’s creative outlook

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 29, 1997 By Steve Newton Chris Whitley sure gets around. Born in Texas 37 years ago, the singer-songwriter-guitarist has so far taken up residence in such disparate locales as Mexico, Belgium, Vermont, and New York, to name a few. When his harried road manager calls the Georgia Straight … Continue reading Nomadic tendencies and Jimmy Page colour Chris Whitley’s creative outlook

That time a crotchety Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown said: “Save me a copy of this write-up”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 23, 1997 BY STEVE NEWTON Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown—there’s a ring to that name that just suits an elderly, pipe-puffin’ blues master. At least, that’s what I thought before conducting a phone interview with the 73-year-old musician, at home in Louisiana. I sure learned fast that the “Gatemouth” title … Continue reading That time a crotchety Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown said: “Save me a copy of this write-up”