Bullying the Jukebox Volume 1 The Mayhaws Lonely Places
I decided to take a little break from my by the numbers Dylan mix to start a new series entitled Bullying the Jukebox. This term comes from a song of the same name by The Bouncing Souls off of their CD Hopeless Romantic. I am beginning to see that I am becoming a prisoner of my time. I am hopelessly tied to the Compact Disc. I-Pods etc. be damned.
From time to time a bully comes around in the old CD case I carry in my car and is downright hateful towards its well respected brethren. When this fortunate for me, unfortunate to the other abandoned discs event happens I’m going to try to chronicle it here. For the last two weeks Mr. Bully has been in the surprising form of Lonely Places by Tallahassee locals The Mayhaws (bumping the former tough guy Together Through Life by Bob Dylan).
As chronicled I am knee deep in learning acoustic guitar, lots of calluses on fingers and blank stares from my Daughter Ireland and Hound Dog Cooper. As part of this I made up my mind to go out of the way to see if there were folks around Tallahassee playing the kind of stuff I eventually wanted to learn. In the newspaper (yeah newspaper – CD’s…old…) I saw a listing for an open bluegrass / folk session held at a local Irish themed joint called Finnegan’s Wake on the first Sunday of the month.
I went and I liked what I heard. Actually I really liked what I heard. There was a good mix of players; some near beginner, some midland, some hot. They all seemed to know each other pretty well and there was an open friendly vibe with the whole thing. Sitting and watching I wasn’t made to feel like an intruder or eavesdropper, which was nice.
Flexing my Google skills and simply asking folks “Hey who is that person?” I discovered The Mayhaws. A couple of the members had been there – Carrie Hamby and Dave Leporati. I liked the way Carrie sang and I liked the way Dave played mandolin. But mostly I dug their energy, it was all over them that they really loved the music.
I made it to a couple of Mayhaws shows (too infrequent!) the most recent being the CD release party for Lonely Places at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack. Don’t worry ma’ it’s a pretty friendly place. The show was real good and the place was stuffed. There was even an accordion fest during the break.
Despite another real good show I wasn’t too inclined to pick up a CD. Then I heard that distant whispering voice of my bride Tracy.
“Bet it’s good you cheap bastard.”
I’ve learned to listen to the inner wife voice (sometimes) so I picked up a copy for a fair price of ten dollars. My inner wife voice knew what it was talking about.
I do my fair share to support local music but on the same front if I don’t like it, I don’t like it. There is something in me incapable of tolerating music I don’t care for. It’s a character flaw and one I fear will show it’s ugly face as my daughter grows into her Hanna Montana years. When I’ve gone out locally most of the stuff is uninspiring, a rare surprise here and there but most of the time not so much when it comes to local bands, especially the records. The older I’ve got in my musification the more I appreciate the importance of record production. May be a good band or singer or whatever but the low budget record just doesn’t have the sound.
Then we have Lonely Places a big old 14-song collection of really enjoyable tunes. Of the 14 songs only 4 are covers leaving us ten possible insights into the collective spirit of the Mayhaws.
Some initial thoughts: Cheer up you guys. On second thought cheer down the title track really is a whopper, on third thought stop all medication, increase all drinking quotas and listen only to Townes Van Zandt or Johnny Paycheck records, Ride the Pine is great. The songs on the album written by Dave Leporati rejoice in the wonderful mystery that is head hung low honky tonk that makes one ask that eternal question: “Why do I love listening to songs that are so damn depressing? And are they depressing if they bring joy to my ears?”
A few highlights –
Track 1. Bite the Bitter – The info out there on Sharla June, who wrote and sings on this one, mention phrases like weird, quirky, strange but infectious. Well shit, I hear what they’re saying. First time around on Bite the Bitter I thought “that’s cute” second time around “this ain’t so cute.” third time around and after “that’s just a real good song.”
Track 2. Lonely Places – Yes! Unashamed to deliver a shameful, lonely, pathetic, Haggardy like song about drinking and misery. Carrie Hamby sings her you know what off on this.
“To make the only lonely face in this place fade awaaaaayheyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”
Pop, fizz, gulp, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Track 3. Drivin’ on 9 - I just love the way Sharla June sings this, holding on to some words just long enough to keep them alive. Cool cover of a song I’ve never heard before.
Track 10. Ride the Pine – I played basketball in High School, well I didn’t play much I sat the bench which they called riding the pine. This song has nothing to do with High School Basketball folks. Iris Dement wrote “I live just the way I want to and that’s the way I should.” This is a eulogy for someone who lives that creed. Unapologetic and raw and really well played by the band here.
Track 11. Hard Times – No not that Hard Times, the ones lingering around this cabin door are of the self inflicted variety. This song is a good lesson for the kiddies and a truckload of fun. I played it for my Dad over in Lynn Haven and he busted out the infamous Jerry shuffle. When the old man breaks into “the most embarrassing aspect of being me” you have the official O’Dell stamp of approval.
Yeah, I know you’re probably a little wishy washy but go ahead and buy Lonely Places and you can thank me later, just buy me a couple of beers at the next Tallahassee Mayhaws show (whenever that is – hint hint). Make sure you apologize to your other CD’s, they will probably get a little bit jealous.