Deep Thoughts with E2TG

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My mind has been a swirl of thoughts lately. Being a writer by design, my best way to sort through them all is to write them down.  And since, I have this blog, I thought I would use this space to share some of those thoughts.  Much of this is about or relate-able to music. Some might not be… whatever… there’s probably a song in there so I guess it is all about music….

Last night for whatever reason, I started thinking about the infinite vs. the finite.  Sometimes, my belief is that finite is all an illusion and all that is real is the infinite.  What I mean: let’s say someone I know (for arguments sake, someone I am not particularly fond of) experiences some degree of success (or happiness or love), sometimes, my reaction is to feel fear-based jealousy.  “There is only so much success (or happiness or love) to go around.  That bit that they are getting is just another piece that is not available for me.  The truth (to my mind) is that those things (success, happiness, love) are in infinite supply.  That other person obtaining those things has nothing at all to do with my ability to do the same.  I would go as far as to say that, to the extent, I allow myself to live in that fear-based jealousy, I am doing more harm than anyone to my own chances of obtaining any one or all of those things.

This leaves out the whole idea that those things are all relative and esoteric ideas. Often the only thing standing in my way of success, is my own (often false) belief that I have not already obtained success.  This is not in any way to diminish the value or necessity of working hard and pushing forward to some better place.

So, to make it more plain… if a music blog that is not E2TG reaches some milestone of “success” (be it followers or page views or money or notoriety or whatever), it is all too easy for me to say, well, there go my chances of making something better of E2TG. And that thought process uses proceeds to focusing on everything I have not achieved and (at least for me) that path leads to remembering every instance where somebody slighted me (or seemed to slight me) thus reinforcing my belief that my efforts to date have been futile and a failure.

But, to unpack that a little, what if I instead acknowledge and maybe even celebrate the other blog’s success while at the same time rejoicing in where I am at this very moment. From there, it is okay to acknowledge a little jealousy but only to extent that it motivates me to work harder to build on the success that I have already achieved.  Sometimes to do this, I have to find a way to really believe and trust that I have been successful up to this point and that that success will be a springboard to even greater success.  For me at least, this often requires me to let go of comparing myself to anyone else, letting go of comparing myself against my own expectations.

“Wow! 10 people follow me.  (it does not matter for this moment that 1,000 people follow Blog X or that I expected to have 10,000 followers by this point.) Those 10 followers make me a success.  It may not be the level of success where I want to land, but I have not landed, I am still flying.  Now, how can I get to 20 followers.”  (This is hypothetical – I have more than 10 followers – I think).

The other thought is about the long road to peace after something painful and difficult – especially when that pain and difficulty was brought about by another. Embracing peace and letting go (that phrase again) of resentments and ill-feelings is not always easy – especially when the other party is continuing to behave in the way that brought about the pain in the first place. The desire to exact revenge or to gain some concrete acknowledgement of the past wrong can be powerful. To the extent that I am able to turn away from those ideas, I can begin to experience peace, but sometimes that is not an immediate result. Sometimes, the immediate result of choosing that path, is more pain. Pushing through that pain and staying on the road to peace is essential.  That is if peace is what I want.

Thinking about the state of the music “business” and the changes which have occurred.  They just are… is there a path back to how things used to be? I don’t know, and I’m not entirely sure that this the right path.  I am a person who values art (which includes music). A popular meme compares the money we (as a society and as people in that society) are willing to spend on (for example) a cup of coffee vs. the expectation (of many) that a song or an album or a live music event should be free. So there is a whole other conversation to be had about how we reached this point – the fact is we are here. Now what?  Thinking about services that musicians (and others use) – like social media, streaming services, etc.  It is (in some ways) easier today than ever before to produce music and put it out into the world.  High quality home recording, sites to distribute music, apps so that fans can know when you are coming to their towns.

To get personal for a minute, thanks to modern technology, I can write Ear to the Ground and put it potentially in the hands of many people with relative ease.  Furthermore, thanks to social media, I can interact with my readers and develop relationships with the artists I am writing about – a bunch of them.  So, I have wondered about ways to monetize E2TG while maintaining my commitment to being a resource for exposing new artists and celebrating the incredible diversity of music in the world today. There are ways to do it (or at least try to do it).  I have witnessed sites who do all those things to generate clicks and revenue by getting bands to compete in contests and polls.

I have to pause right here and say that I do not begrudge or want to demean any artist who partakes in such contests – I recognize the potential value for the band. Think of my comments as a cautionary tale (with some first hand experiences and second-hand witnesses)

In the first year of Ear to the Ground, I came up the idea of having a poll to select an Band of the Year. To be honest, I was only halfway serious about it, and it really ended up being a lot of fun.  Everyone who competed seemed to enjoy it, and man oh man did my page views explode.  After that I began doing a Band of the Month poll.  Again, the first few were tons of fun – I think in particular about a battle between by friends MAKAR and The End Men.  The contest was spirited and a really positive experience.  Again, my page views went through the roof.  A few months along the road, I began to see that some bands took the polls very seriously and some didn’t care or notice at all. For me, the focus moved away from the music and to toward the competition.  I started to feel like I was in someway using the bands to improve my page views but that the page views had nothing to do with the content of Ear to the Ground or the “art” of the bands I was wanting to write about,

Contributing to this evolving sense of unease was seeing bands that I had begun to follow who seemed to be putting more energy into contests and things of that nature than into their music. For my own mental health, I had to step back and think about if this was what I wanted to do with my site. It wasn’t.

Again, I feel the need to pause – as I think about artists that I really admire who are or have recently been competing in various polls and contests.  My comments are not about you. My feeling is that if the site running the contest really cares about the artist and their art, and if they can offer something of value to the artist who wins the contest – more power to everyone. I have and still do vote for artists I like in contests and the like.  I guess, it is up to the artists themselves to determine if the poll or contest has value. (Thinking about it now, I might even add T.V. vocal competition shows to this discussion but that brings on more issues than I care to delve into in this already overly long post).  My caveat to the bands I care about is to hold onto your selves and your art. There are a lot of things out there – think of them as tools. Is that contest or that site or whatever the right tool for you now. And ultimately, the tool only has value if it helps your to do whatever it is you are trying to do.

Finally, I was talking this week about the idea of the “next big thing”.  This isn’t a new idea, but maybe the times in which we live have sent this idea into hyper-drive.  My thoughts on this are complex and incomplete and scattered, but here goes nothing….

Here is Nashville, I have often written about the mind-blowing number of excellent live music opportunities literally every single night out of the year.  This can range from Bridgestone Arena down to some small DIY space in East Nashville or West Nashville or South Nashville or wherever. As someone who loves and writes about music and who has friends who I want to support, the choices can be overwhelming.  What I am thinking about here – in thinking about the idea of the next big thing phenomenon…

 I think I need to explain that I am not trying to use the “next big thing” designation to put anyone down… so let me pause to unpack what I mean when I refer to the “next big thing” and where I think the dilemma comes in for me… Let’s say Joe Blow  (cause hey Joe is a cool buzz-worthy name) has been making awesome music for years. They have played to small crowds at small bars and been amazing. Now, through some combination of factors, Joe Blow has release an album that has caught on really well.  Now, Joe Blow is playing a larger venue and it is likely going to be a sellout or at least a sizable crowd. This is good for Joe Blow and it is good quality music.  The question/the dilemma: is that large capacity show featuring the undeniably awesome Joe Blow where I should go or should I go to some small venue with a relatively small crowd to see and write about Jane Doe  who may or may not one day be the next big thing.

And that is just choice A and B – not to mention choices C through whatever… the fact is that I sometimes chose to see Joe Blow and sometimes I chose to see Jane Doe. (And sometimes I chose to stay home and write long rambling blog posts).  In both circumstances, I have thought that perhaps I made the right choice and in both circumstances I have thought that perhaps I made the wrong choice…  So… I told you my thoughts were confused.  If I go to see Joe Blow and get wrapped up in the energy of the large crowd – does that have anything to do with the music?  Is Joe Blow better for having achieved this level of success or just more successful?   There can be an incredible amount of energy present in the midst of an intimate show where you realize you are experiencing something amazing – and are fortunate to be among the few who are there to see and hear it.

In the end, I don’t have an answer. I think I (sometimes) have an old school/punk rock mentality that equates success with selling out…

I don’t think that the Joe Blow show is by default better or worse than the Jane Doe show. As someone who writes about music and someone who loves to go out and see live music, I think my best bet is just to be extremely grateful to be in a place and time where all of these incredible options are available. And to make my choice and find the story that I am supposed to tell about whatever I choose to do and trust that just maybe there is someone at that (or those) other shows that is supposed to tell those stories.

Wow, I have been writing for a long time. I guess I will quit now.  Thanks for letting me work out my thoughts.

Here is a video of the Michael Stipe performance I wrote about this morning.  It is really rad!

Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle – Tune from a B-Side Mix

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It’s been a rough day.  I have a very late and very short shuffle.

First of all, I had the very wonderful opportunity last night to attend an early round at the legendary Bluebird Cafe which featured David G. Smith (who I have featured here on E2TG), a  couple of wonderful singer-songwriters named Anne E. DeChant and Nathan Bell, and a very rare and delightful appearance by my friend Karen Leipzinger (backed by Andy Ellis on guitar).

Now to the short shuffle,,,,

“At Least I Loved” by The Silent War

The duo of Garrison Starr and AG (Adrianne Gonzalez) make some wonderful music.  This track is from a sampler they put out of Noisetrade some time back.

“A Thousand Miles of Bad Road” by Aaron Lee Tasjan

Perhaps a rare ALT song.  This one comes from a benefit album called We Make Peace.  The song references Billy Joe Shaver and the debut album by Drivin’ n Cryin’.  Plus, it gave me the opportunity feature Aaron Lee’s new video for his song Don’t Walk Away in the video playlist. And that video is bad ass.

“Find the Beauty” by James Tomberlin

I am absolutely wild about this song.  It is so filled with joy and wonderful word play.  From the record called, Still Life with Orange, which was produced by Josh Morris.

“Blackstar” by David Bowie

What can I possibly say about this song. Bowie was so far ahead of the rest of the world even in his final days on this planet.  Blackstar is weird and complex and challenging and wonderful.

“Independence Day” (live) by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Springsteen’s song about fathers and sons from his album The River – takes from the January 19, 2016 show in Chicago.  A poignantly fitting closing song for today’s shuffle.  


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Friday Morning Music Shuffle – Ow Mix

Well, we muddled through another week….  It’s time for me to dive head long into creating E2TG version 3.0 (we are currently on 2.1) – I’m not sure exactly what that will entail, but it will be awesome – I bet.  There may be a release 2.2 in the meantime, but maybe not… whatever, if you have ideas of what I can do to make E2TG better, now would be a good time to send them my way.  I’ll either use the ideas or I won’t – it’s the cool thing of writing your own blog… 🙂  But, my philosophy since day one has been to be open to whatever comes along.  So wherever we go, I see my job is just to keep this thing between the lines… (only occasionally crossing)…

Whatever, the shuffle speaks… and we must listen… Jump to it if you dare…

“Where Are We Now?” by David Bowie from The Next Day

Many saw 2013’s The Next Day as a return to form (and a pleasantly unexpected one at that) for Mr. Bowie. 

“Anywhere” by Humming House from Humming House

A beautiful song from one of Nashville’s coolest and best bands.  The video we selected is a newer song and features two of my favorite people.

“Wasted Days” by Joseph Arthur from Redemption City

I love the sound of this track from Joseph Arthur.  A great companion to my trek through the downtown streets of Nashville.

“Ow” by Dizzy Gillespie from The Double Six of Paris

Groovy coolness in every note….

“The Neighbor’s Dog” by Darrin Bradbury from The Almost Great Crepe’s

Darrin Bradbury is back in the shuffle with a song about life and death and I guess about the neighbor’s dog.  Since this album isn’t available on bandcamp anymore, I won’t say anything about “neighbor” being misspelled. “I before E” my ass!

“Rabid Child” by They Might Be Giants from First Album Live

What is this song about?  Don’t ask John and John.  They don’t know….

“Can’t Say Why” by Taco Land from Home Sweet Home

Taco Land has a groove that just hits me in all the right ways… for kicks, I included a video of a song by The Dead Milkmen about the San Antonio landmark that gave this band its name. 

“Stipulation” by Gumshen from Progtronica

We added this album to our lineup back in January, and now, we have just one or two songs left.  I really like this interesting mix of sounds, and I look forward to hearing more from this band.


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I’ve been short on time so I haven’t been posting the Webstore information, but as always, if you hear something you like – so out and support the artists making the music.  If you can’t find where to get the music or just want more information on any of the bands we feature.  Let me know!

Have a great weekend!

Monday Morning Music Shuffle – Waiting in the Sky Mix

“There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds” – David Bowie

Shuffle after the jump….

“Images and Noise” by Mothers from Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen: Section 5/Panamanian Times

References Rolling Stones, Elton John, and Pink Floyd in a awesome post-punk stew of images and noises….  plus their bandcamp tags include the minutemen – so bonus points!

Video is Ben Wallin’s MCFK Testimonial.

“Starman” by David Bowie from Ziggy Stardust

… I leaned back on my radio oh oh…

Video is live performance from 1972.

“Running Wild” by Moon Taxi from Mountains Beaches Cities

Another track from Moon Taxi’s latest album.

Video is David Letterman

“Pocket Full of Pride” by Taco Land from Home Sweet Home

Long time E2TG favorite – from the latest album. Doing the Taco Land thing the way only Taco Land can do… check them out!

Video is an interview with Joseph “Taco Land” Russell to provide some background about the band.

“Joey’s Arm” by Sons of Bill from One Town Away

Charlottesville, VA based Sons of Bill have a new album due out at the end of September, and they have been added to the growing and impressive line-up for this year’s Americana Music Festival in Nashville.  They are signed to the Nashville-based Thirty Tigers label, and although I am late to the game, I have been blown away by what I’ve heard so far.  This song is from their 2009 album One Town Away

Video from the band’s YouTube channel.


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Go Shopping:
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Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle – Freak Out Mix

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1. “Winterlight”/The Autumn Defense/Ten Full Paces

Such a great sound. Saw them live in the parking lot of Grimey’s for Americanarama last September.

2. “living on”/The Lies/whatever
3. “Look in Your Eyes”/Taco Land/Home Sweet Home

During the hiatus, our old friends Taco Land dropped a new album called Home Sweet Home, and this track has such a great sound. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from Taco Land and more.

4. “Tar”/The Jean Jackets/Field Theory Blues


more after the jump….

5. “Killing Floor”/Tomas Doncker Band/The Howling Wolf Project

Finally, we get to this amazing release (in my opinion on of the best of 2014. It power of the Blues to express your deepest disappointments and sorrows and to wrap you up in it all and provide a strange kind of comfort. A heartfelt and fitting tribute to a legend.

6. “Safe With Me”/Jenny Leigh/Tipping Point

I met Jenny Leigh at a Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray show at The Basement, and I really dig her music.

7. “don’t know what you have”/The Lies/whatever

Second song from New Jersey band The Lie today and the third this week. Glorious rock and roll.


I don’t know where or how or when I added this to my playlist, but it’s freaking awesome. Jam band music for people (like me) who generally hate Jam band music.

9. “Selassie”/Tomas Doncker/Power of the Trinity

More music from Mr. Doncker.  Smooth and soulful on a global scale.

10. “V. The Meaning of Things (The Dream Lives Ought to See)”/Left of Logic/In Formation

Philadelphia based live electronic music. Challenging and pretty darn cool.

11. “Hold Fast Your Dreams”/Marla Mase/Half-Life

A mellower side of Marla Mase with her trademark spoken word spiels. Another of my favorite records of the year.

12. “Summer in a New State”/Swear and Shake/Maple Ridge
Another of those wacky New York Americana bands that sound like they should come from the South. Oh, and they are one of the best of the whole wacky bunch!

13. “English Rose”/The Jam/All Mod Cons

“No matter where I roam…”

14. “Bushwick Nights”/The Great American Novel/Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen – Section 5

The late great The Great American Novel burned bright and went out big with this Single/Outake/piece of awesomeness. Looking forward to what comes next from the various chapters of this great novel that ended way too soon.


1. “Love Hammer” by Mellow Bravo from S/T (2012)

Mellow Bravo is a six piece ROCK band from Boston. Another selection from my friend Ronnie B’s mixCD. Did I mention this ROCKS?

2. “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie from Ziggy Stardust (1972)

“Freak out….”

3. “Red Rose Nantahala” by Hiss Golden Messenger from Haw (2013)

This came off one of those incredibly awesome Feel Bad for You compilations. If you haven’t latch onto that monthly Mix well then, I feel bad for you… er… Hiss Golden Messenger is M.C. Taylor and Scott Hirsch from Brooklyn NY/Durham NC. I dig!

4. “Conscience of the World” by Tomas Doncker from Power of the Trinity (2011)

Why not close out today’s shuffle with yet another great song from Tomas Doncker’s incredible album Power of the Trinity. Why not indeed!

Video Playlist:


Friday Morning Music Shuffle – Juicy Avocado Mix

We made it through another week.

Let’s move on….

Today’s Shuffle contains 7 songs: 2 covers, a couple of songs by a New Orleans World/Fusion band from New Orleans who are new to #E2TG, and more…

The Mix:

“The Light” by Swear and Shake

“All You Do is Talk” (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club cover) by Kopecky Family Band

“Scarlet” by Taylor Brown

“Sweet Confusion” by The Plum Magnetic

“Pablo Picasso” (Modern Lovers cover) by David Bowie

“Parallax” by The Plum Magnetic

“Raja’s Song (Hold on My King) by Ghost Pal


The deeper I go, the more I like Swear and Shake.

I dig Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and I dig Kopecky Family Band. And, I dig this cover.

A few weeks back I spent a little time following the Bandcamp recommendations rabbit hole, and I came to “3 Folk Songs” by Taylor Brown who was recommended by Brian Bergeron of Mr. Kind.

The Plum Magnetics are from New Orleans, and they play a rocking version of World/Fusion music.  Sweet Confusion is an extended kind of funky instrumental track.

I dig David Bowie and I dig the Modern Lovers. Pablo Picasso is one of my favorite Modern Lovers’ songs, and I think I like their version of this song better.  Still, this is an interesting conversation starter.

Parallax by The Plum Magnetics. From their album Terra Animata. This band came to me from James Moore of IMP.

The day would be complete with out some #MCFK, this time via Ghost Pal from their God Save MCFK album.



Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle – Wheels of a Cadillac Mix

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Lovely to see you….

We have 11 songs in our shuffle today….

Shall we?  Let’s….

“Always Around” by Sam Davison
“Suddenly” by Swear and Shake
“Five Years” by David Bowie
“Just Got Punched in the Face by Schmee and the Bad Boys” by Ghost Pal
“Defiantly Loved” by Stoney
“Run” by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
“Night Clothes” by Joseph Arthur
“Liar” by The Delta Saints
“Railroad of Sin” by Sturgill Simpson
“Visit Us” by Joseph Arthur
“God Save Mama Coco’s” by Ghost Pal


Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen #MCFK is well represented today with yet another track from Sam Davison (I’m not complaining, but I hope he doesn’t think I’m stalking him. It’s all the shuffle’s fault).  This one kind of brings to mind Jonathan Richman at his best (unless it doesn’t in which case I’m just a music blogger pulling stuff out of his ass.  Which is pretty much the case, if you haven’t figured it out, but I work hard to make that stuff look pretty.  All this to say, I love this song.  Plus two tracks from Ghost Pal featuring Mama Coco’s ubiquitous presence: the incomparable Oliver Ignatius.  God Save Mama Coco’s indeed!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are from Detroit which I never thought of as a NASCAR city, but it does have the whole auto industry thing going so what do I know.  I mean really – what do I know about Detroit or about NASCAR? Not a hell of  lot. I do know that the band name is part of what got me to listen to these guys in the first place, and I’m kinda, pretty much glad I did.

Joseph Arthur – I just keep loving these songs.  I can’t help it.

Maybe it’s my Louisiana roots or maybe it’s a Nashville thing, but when I hear The Delta Saints, I just want to dance… and I’m not much of a dancer…  this was the song which propelled me from my car into the walk up the hill. Talk about getting a body moving!

I know that when most people say that they don’t like Country music, they are talking about the Country radio hit song kind of stuff sung by guys named Brad and Keith and Toby.  You know the kind that gets mashed up with really questionable hip-hop stuff… you know stuff about trucks and beer and girls and dogs and dirt roads.  Sturgill Simpson plays COUNTRY MUSIC. I don’t know much about the other stuff I was describing, but I know I like COUNTRY MUSIC.