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Notes From the Porch

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It’s a beautiful Saturday morning to be on the Front Porch. We are sharing lots of good music this morning and talking about live events in our region.

The Pennington Folk Festival is about to roll out the ‘grand finale’ day with Eddie Pennington, harmonica guru Charlie McCoy and guitar-monster Tommy Emmanuel. Here’s the scoop on today’s events in Princeton, KY at the Butler Campus:

10:30 a.m. Talent Contest

1 p.m. Franklin Place Jam Band

2 p.m. Sarah Elizabeth Burkey

3 p.m. Woody Pines

4 p.m. Eddie Pennington

5 p.m. patriotic Program

5:30 p.m. Al and Kathy Bain

6:30 p.m. Charlie McCoy

8 p.m. Tommy Emmanuel

Additional Activities Saturday

7 a.m. Caldwell Medical Center “Run for Your Life”

10 a.m.-5 p.m. WeKAN (Western Kentucky Artist Network) exhibits

Noon-2 p.m. Farmers Bank Mural Painting

4-8 p.m. Lakeland Crusiers Cruise-In and Car Show

More info at


Chris Thile & Michael Daves - Sleep with One Eye OpenChris Thile and Michael Daves met in New York City at a joint called the Baggot Inn just after Thile had transplanted from San Diego to NYC. A music friendship ensued and has led to an incredible new album titled “Sleep with One Eye Open”. Recorded at Jack White’s Nashville studio, the album is a series of little production and a lot of musical prowess! The stripped down sound leaves front and center the blistering interpretation of bluegrass-based tunes of two amazingly matched musicians. I’m featuring a bunch of it in this mornings second hour.

More information is available at Nonesuch Records website including a great story of the journey these two have taken to lead to this album.

Here’s Thile and Daves performing “Sleep with One Eye Open”.

I’m off to listen to Bill Monroe’s “Get Up John and serve up more music. Tune in on the listen live link at


Written by John McMillen

June 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

From the Porch: Exploring…

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Downtown Paducah, Market House Theatre

Image via Wikipedia

The rain is falling… at least its a light rain and it appears to be about finished with our region for the day. If you feel like getting out, stretching your legs, hearing a few tunes and getting involved then head over to Max’s Brick oven in Paducah. Today the Buzzard Brothers Smoke on the Water Flood Relief Fundraiser kicks of at 11:00 AM. There’s BBQ, music and fellowship. Music starts at 11:00 and runs through around 3:30 or so. Nathan Blake Lynn and The Solid Rocket Booster’s mix it up with other local artists to provide entertainment. All proceeds go to The Community Foundation of West Kentucky. Find more info on Facebook.

I’m spinning new music from Town Mountain this morning in the second hour. These guys have been around for about 10-years with two albums already under their belt and a title from the Rockygrass Music Festival band competition. The new album Steady Operator hit the street May 10 and features both traditional and non-traditional bluegrass music. Find out more on these guys at

Here is Town Mountain covering Bruce Springteen’s “I’m on Fire”.

Put these shows on your calendars.

  • Thursday, May 19 Bawn in the Mash at The Big Apple Cafe, 9 PM, Murray, KY
  • Friday, May 20, Blair Joseph, Logan Oakley and Jasmine Davis at Doe’s Eat Place in Paducah at 8 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday, May 28-29, Mark Dvorak, Dixie Volunteers, Cumberland River Plowboys, Bawn in the Mash and Nathan Blake Lynn among others at LBL’s Pickin’ Party at The Homeplace in Land Between the Lakes.
  • Saturday, June 10, Josh Williams Homecoming on the court square in Benton, KY

Written by John McMillen

May 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

Darrell Scott introduces Kenny Malone to Murray

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Last night one of the greatest songwriters in American music graced the stage at Lovett auditorium and what a night of music it was. Darrell Scott has written songs that have become top sellers in the country music market over the years but no one delivers them better than he does himself.

Kenny MaloneWith the lights low and the crowd gathered intimately around, Scott described the setting as “… it’s like being in the living room, only bigger.”

With all of the tricks used in popular music these days to make artists sound appealing to the masses, the crowd was treated to what the art of the song truly is about… emotion, touch, feel and sound. Scott at times took the sound to a whisper while still holding every ear eager to every note. At times his fingers barely moved, his notes on his guitar almost silently delivering the smooth roll from the strings while still exuding amazing prowess from the tones ringing the room. Then, that rich, deep, soulful voice would take you into the song, into the picture, into the setting so deeply that you felt transformed into the relationship he was painting with the tune at hand.

With the ring of a well-crafted song still floating through the room Scott introduced us to his friend. A man that has established the most demanded percussive rhythm to acoustic music known these days. In acoustic music it is hard for a percussionist to become part of the picture without a feeling left of separation. To embed yourself as an equal to the acoustic instrument while still laying the rhythm down is quite a challenge. To steal the show without changing the song… well, please meet Kenny Malone.

This is what the likes of Bela Fleck, Alison Krauss, New grass Revival, Jerry Douglas, Doc Watson, John Prine and so many more have come to love about Kenny Malone. Kenny not only holds the basic rhythm line steady and strong but he also layers above that rhythm a melody that adds to the song without overpowering it. When the standard round of changing leads works their way from guitar to mandolin to fiddle or beyond the percussion is often too powerful to just meld in. Kenny Malone just closes his eyes, smoothly wanders his head in time with the music and delivers an equal lead that can steal the show without the volume that drummers are accustomed to sharing.

Darrell Scott introduced Kenny Malone to the city of Murray last night and those that were present likely will never forget his name.

Here is a little video from YouTube where Kenny is flanked by Mark Schatz. Schatz is well known for his steady rhythm on the bass and earthy percussion so he provides rhythm via the “hambone” while Kenny takes off on a… well, a trash can. Enjoy!

Written by John McMillen

February 20, 2011 at 10:59 am

Notes From the Porch

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What a beautiful Saturday for some traditional and roots music both new and old!

I was able to get advanced copies of two great new albums this week. The Steeldrivers forthcoming Reckless release and Justin Townes Earle‘s forthcoming work Harlem River Blues. We’re sprinkling in folk, bluegrass, americana and more to frame up these two album features including a feature set of Norman Blake & Tony Rice that’s rolling as I type.

The Steeldrivers - RecklessThe Steel Drivers – Reckless – Rounder Records

This is the second album from the Steeldrivers, which acts as a swan song of sorts for the big, gritty voice and songwriting prowess of Chris Stapleton. Shortly after this album was released Stapleton parted ways with The Steeldrivers to seek a bit less hectic lifestyle. The new album features 12 Stapleton co-written tunes; 11 with Mike Henderson and one with Ronnie Bowman. The big Steeldriver sound is still alive in this release with a bit more variation of tempo.

The album hits the streets September 14.

You can also catch the Steeldrivers on the soundtrack to the movie Get Low which is a second collaboration of Rounder Records and Sony Picture Classics… yep, the same pairing behind O’ Brother Where Art Though. Read more at the Bluegrass Blog.

Want a preview of how The Steeldrivers sound with their new front man? Here is a video of the band doing “Reckless Side of Things”.

Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues – Bloodshot Records

Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle

When you pick up The Steeldrivers new album be sure and grab the new one from Justin Townes Earle as well. Harlem River Blues hits the streets on the very same day, September 14. This will be the third release from JTE on Bloodshot Records.

“Compared to the much-lauded Midnight at the Movies, Harlem River Blues is more mature and increasingly nuanced, while still embracing the raw voice and clean sound of previous standout tracks like “Mama’s Eyes.” Featuring guest appearances from Jason Isbell, Bryn Davies and Calexico’s Paul Niehaus, it’s rockin’ and reelin’ at times, sweet and slow at others – and it’s great. Like good fried chicken, a well-cut suit and a hand made guitar, there’s heaven to be found in the beautifully crafted simpler things.

~ From

The album is at times familiar with that quirky-in-time-thumping rhythmic approach that we have all come to know from Earle but still exploratory as JTE seeks to find new ways and new melodies to weave his stories.

Here is Earle doing Halfway to Jackson.

Have a good weekend and I will see ya in two weeks!

~ John McMillen

07-31-2010 Notes From the Porch

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Another hot and steamy summer Saturday here in Murray. Nothing like a cup of joe on the porch with the Front Porch rolling in the background. This is the way many of you share Saturdays with mark and I. OR… like Barry Combs, you’re on your tractor with your headphones on. Hey, whatever you do while listening, it’s nice to share the morning.

We featured some Front Porch debuts in the first hour including Darrell Webb‘s new release Bloodline. Out on Rural Rhythm Records, this release from Webb features plenty of great traditional bluegrass spread across 12 tracks from the 5-piece band. Darrell Webb has been performing on the bluegrass circuit for over 20 years with the likes of the Lonesome River Band, J.D. Crowe, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, lead vocalist and front man for Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. Webb has surrounded himself with a great band for his debut solo release including Jeremy Arrowood on bass, Asa Gravley on guitar, Jim Van Cleve plays fiddle, Chris Wade on banjo and Darrell Webb lends guitar and mandolin to the release. The band is out on the road with a bit of a different lineup sans Jim Van Cleve but adding Tyler Kirkpatrick on resophonic guitar. I offered up the second track from the release, “Poor Ramblin Boy”. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes From The Front Porch

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Tim O'Briens' Chicken & EggSpinning the new Tim O’Brien album Chicken & Egg right now on the porch. This is O’Brien’s 17th studio album released under his own name. He has plenty of help on this album from his musical compadres Ray Bonneville (harmonica), Mike Bub (Bass), Dennis Crouch (bass), Charlie Cushman (banjo), Stuart Duncan (virtually anything with strings), John Gardner (drums), Sarah Jarosz (vocals), Lucas Reynolds (guitar), Darrell Scott (vocals), Chris Stapleton (formerly of the Steeldrivers adds vocals), Bryan Sutton (guitars and vocals), Abigail Washburn (vocals). Wow, that’s a long list. There’s plenty of new O’Brien penned tunes here including the spin on the Adam & Eve story with “You Ate the Apple” and the sure-to-be-covered “Workin'”. O’Brien also twists familiar tunes such as “Suzanna” and Woody Guthries’ “The Sun Jumped Up.” This is definitely one to add to your library!

A new artist to the Front Porch this morning to close out the first hour. Megson plays “The Handloom Weaver & The Factory Maid” from their album Longshot. Megson features Stu Hanna and Debbie Hanna-Palmer, two British folk musicians who first met at a choir rehearsal in northern England.

I watched the movie Crazy Heart last night for the first time. What a movie! Gonna spin some Guy Clark in the form of “The Houston Kid” from the album The Platinum Collection as a tribute to the film. I know most people associate Bad Blake as a mix of Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard but you know, if you mixed the two together you’d likely get someone close to Guy Clark anyhow.

Received a new album from J Shogren titled Bird Bones & Muscle. It was a pleasant and refreshing surprise. The album is very blues-based with small flavors of all kinds of other roots and traditional genres. The album in general reminds me of the hot and humid rural south… images of a sweaty afternoon in the back yard with friends jamming out tunes. Sometimes rough around the edges. Odd thing is that the album was recorded in Laramie, WY by a guy who splits his time between Laramie and Sweden. Spinning “Salvation” this morning as I think it gives you a good taste of what you will find in this album.

Opening the third hour with the brand new Chatham County Line album Wildwood. These guys have been together for 10-years and celebrate that anniversary with their fifth album which is released on the Yep Roc label. CCL has a core of bluegrass in their soul but they aren’t afraid to mix in other elements and influences to keep things extremely interesting. This time around the rousing is bolstered by drums, piano and pedal steel but they also know how to ease up and bring great feeling to a piece of music. When they released IV in 2008 I was afraid we were beginning to see the pinnacle of their careers as I was sure they couldn’t top that great release. Then along comes Wildwood and the amazing experience continues. The Raleigh, NC band has yet to release a bad album and will definitely stay in high rotation on my stereo. Spinning four cuts this morning including “Heart Attack”, “Crop Comes In”, “Out of the Running” and “Saturdays and Sundays”.

How about a video of a cut from the new album? Here is “Crop Comes In” from Wildwood.

Hey, that’s it for this week. I’ll be back in two weeks to share all the tunes I discover between now and then. Thanks for listening and reading. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and get out and see some live music!

~ John McMillen

Notes From the Porch

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A few notes from the porch this morning….

The Infamous Stringdusters‘ new album “Things that Fly” keeps the band rolling at their current pace. The usual “Strinduster” sound here. Two cuts from the album this morning including The Deputy and You Can’t Stop the Changes.

The Kentucky Colonels were sooooooo good! Clarence White was absolutely one of the greatest guitar players ever to pick the strings. I’m spinning a cut from the album “Long Journey Home” called Brakeman’s Blues.

Tyler Grants‘ new album “Up the Neck” would be a great addition to your library. Great instrumental work here! I’m spreading some cuts out across the show this morning including Funky Boulder and Bill Frissell. It’s Tyler’s second solo effort.

Logan Oakley thinks that Born to Be with You by JD Crowe is the best bluegrass song he’s ever heard. You can hear it for yourself on the album”Blackjack”.

Lemme just say now that I love Lightnin’ Hopkins!

Three cuts this morning from the John Prine tribute album “Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows” including Far From Me by Justin Townes Earle, Mexican Home by Josh Ritter and The Late John Garfield Blues by Sara Watkins… and why not a cut from Prine himself, huh? Hey, the artists on this album do a good job placing their own definitions on the classic Prine penned songs.

John Mellencamp continues to distance himself from the past pop sound he’s known for. His upcoming album “No Better Than This” has me sold on the new sound. I’m spinning Thinking About You and enjoying the new stripped down, earthy and gritty sound. The album hits the shelves August 3rd… seriously, go give a listen!

And a little Darrell Scott and Memory Like Mine live from Folk Alley.

~ John McMillen

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Darrell Scott spins “A Crooked Road”

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It’s a long way from Darrell Scott’s birthplace of London, KY to where he finds himself these days and the prolific songwriter couldn’t have given his new album a better name. A Crooked Road was released May 25th and Scott packed two years of songwriting into a 2-CD release that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with his best work.

Darrell Scott - A Crooked RoadScott has garnered success penning songs for others that include John Cowan, Reba McEntire, Maura O’Connell, Mary Gauthier, Tim O’Brien, Trace Adkins, Travis Tritt, Blue Highway, Suzy Boggus, Grath Brooks, Sam Bush, Hayes Carll, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Guy Clark, The Dixie Chicks, Sara Evans, Beppe Gambetta, Kathy Mattea, Del McCoury, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and so many more. With a list like this to his credit there is no doubt that he knows how to work the machine in Nashville but with Scott, however, there is a rarity to his life as a songwriter. His songs rarely sound better than when he delivers them and that sets him apart from the mill of songwriters producing content for the faces of major labels.

This is Darrell Scott’s seventh release since 1997, his first 2-CD release and surprisingly there is no fill-material in this 80-plus minute experience. The common theme here is relationships both good and bad and the emotions, experiences and people within. This is yet another great album from Darrell Scott that equals what I consider his two best releases Aloha From Nashville (Sugar Hill, 1997) and Family Tree (Sugar Hill, 1999). This time around Scott is a one-man show as he recorded everything you hear alone, mostly from his home studio. Scott plays over 15 instruments throughout the recording… some admittedly learned along the way.

Darrell Scott – A Crooked Road

Written by John McMillen

June 6, 2010 at 10:57 am