Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Shelter: Shelter

The Dexateens: Shelter

I seem to be writing about my song selection process a lot lately, which may mean that I’m trying to fill space because I’m running out of songs that have particular meaning for me. I hope not, because that would be bad for a blogger who mostly responds to theme prompts, but we’ll see—and maybe I need to take another short sabbatical to recharge. I’m spending a good deal of time these days working on projects directly or indirectly related to my 40th college reunion in May, which I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to write about down the road, and that also explains why I’ve been writing once per theme more often than twice these days. Also, there’s work and family. And good TV. 

So, when I heard the theme, my first thought was a King Crimson song, but seriously, who really wants me to write about another King Crimson song, and an instrumental, at that? (The volume of my Crimson-related posts surprises even me, considering that they are not my favorite band. What is my favorite band? I really don’t know.) My second thought was to pick the obvious Rolling Stones song, but I’ve written about that before. There’s also a Dylan classic, but writing about Dylan can be heavy lifting, and I don’t have the patience for that right now. 

Which inevitably led me to an iTunes library search, where I landed upon today’s feature song, “Shelter,” by The Dexateens. Is it a great song? No. Is it a good song by an underappreciated band in the vaguely Americana genre? Yes. Which means that it’s a good one for me to write about. (Although having finished this post, I realize that I mentioned the band a few years ago).

The Dexateens were formed in the late 1990s in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, featuring singer-songwriters and guitarists Elliott McPherson and John Smith, with drummer Craig "Sweet Dog" Pickering and bassist Matt Patton. If that last name seems familiar, we’ll get there. Their name came not from the same source as Dexys Midnight Runners, but instead from a guitar pick that Smith’s brother had gotten signed by Dex Romweber, a musician that you might have heard of. Or not. Although he’s pretty good and it is a memorable name. Mixing punk with southern rock, The Dexateens’ self-titled debut album from 2004 is excellent—raw and rocking, and “Shelter” is a Stonesy-stomp. 

I’m not sure when I first heard about The Dexateens, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was in 2007, when their fine album Hardwire Healing was released, and it was co-produced by Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers and David Barbe, who has worked with the Truckers (as well as playing bass in Sugar). I suspect that this was the hook that got me to check out the band, which has de-emphasized punk over the years. After some personnel changes, the band broke up in 2010. Patton joined the Truckers on bass (and as the occasional Ramones cover singer), and also plays with The Dexateens, which re-formed in 2013. And, he co-owns a recording studio in Mississippi (where part of the Ramones cover video in the link was shot). Busy man. 

 So, check out The Dexateens if you aren’t familiar with them.