Friday, October 3, 2008

Blog Names: A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz

Scott Miller: I Made A Mess Of This Town


As a folk blogger, I pay close attention to good blogs with a regional focus and a tendency towards any music remotely resembling folk. After all, by its very definition, folk music is rooted deeply in its community, and most of the better communities (such as the mid-New England valley region that I call home) have more than enough going on to keep any blogger busy. As such, it becomes nigh impossible for any one folkwatcher to keep tabs on the total spectrum of emerging sound without learning to depend on a few stalwart trendspotters and authenticators from as full a spectrum of local folk hotspots as possible.

Which was why I was so happy to find A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz. Star Maker regular Nelson has only been blogging for a few months now, but in that time, he's been a powerful influence on my own renewed interest in the Kentucky and Tennessee music scene, and in the curious cross-section of americana, indiefolk, country, and southern rock and roll which seems to both radiate out from and coalesce in the region.

Nelson really does know what he's talking about: he's a DJ on a local listener-supported Americana station down there, and he actually went to high school with two of my favorite new americana musical phenomena, old-timey newcomer Brett Ratliff and my own personal vote for best new singer-songwriter of the year, Steeldrivers lead singer Chris Stapleton. And the song from which his namesake lyric comes, a twangy alt-rocking ditty by local boy Scott Miller, speaks volumes about his local focus.

The combination of astute ears, local knowledge, and the access that radio station DJ-ing gives him to a breadth of new music has produced a series of entries which are as well-written as they are celebratory. His recent series on the Americana Music Awards was thorough and wise, a powerful introduction to both the breadth of modern americana as a genre, and the kind of awards show and stamp of approval that I am thrilled to find out about. Other recent favorites have included this week's wonderful post about meeting Charlie Louvin and the Old 97s, and one of his great "Top Five" posts about the work of Alejandro Escovedo.

In the end, A Fifty Cent Lighter is a perfect way to track a vital part of the modern music scene, a solid mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar, perfect for someone like me, who is just starting to trend towards the country side of americana, and needs a good local guide. Twice in as many months I have sat down to write a blog entry about a brand-new, previously unblogged musician or band only to find that Nelson got there first, and said it better than I was hoping to. If that isn't both validating and the highest praise, I don't know what is.

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