Fly Fishing + Music

Posts tagged “alt-county

Fly Fishing Music: “I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons

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Mumford & Sons started in 2007 by playing the streets and humble venues of West London, offering indie folk and bluegrass behind strong songwriting. The four members, Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, and Ted Dwane, came together around a shared love of roots music. In 2009 and 2010, however, things changed. With the release of their debut album, Sigh No More, Mumford at al. began an adrenaline-inducing ascent. The album hit a cord with fans the world over – ultimately reaching number one in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand; and number two in the UK and the Billboard 200 in the United States. To top things off, Mumford & Sons got to perform with Bob Dylan and the Avett Bros. at the 2011 Grammys. Quite a rise, indeed.

The band now tours tirelessly and that makes them much more difficult to catch in their hometown. For fly fishermen and women that do catch them there (they’ll be at The Roundhouse on September 24th), there is a nice side-benefit: though entirely too massive to be thought of as a fly fishing town, London’s still got a bunch of nice fly shops and some excellent fly fishing right nearby. This from Dave Martin and Steve Rhodes, proprietors of Go Fly Fishing UK, a guide service that serves England, Wales, and Scotland:

There are . . . top class Trout fly fishing waters . . . only a 60 to 90 minute travel time from central London in the counties of Hampshire, Berkshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. Such famous fly fishing waters as the River Test, River Itchen and River Kennet are within particularly easy reach of London.

On September 25th Mumford & Sons will release their sophomore effort, Babel. Here is “I Will Wait,” a single and a preview from the upcoming album.


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Fly Fishing Music: “Indecisive” by The Minor Injuries

Fly Fishing Music

Fly Fishing Music

The Minor Injuries. Three guys who love to play music. I like that. That’s the extent of the band’s biography. These . . . well . . . men of few words . . . form an interesting Americana/roots rock outfit, based out here in the American West. We went to Arizona here and kinda here. We’re going back there this week . . . this time to Phoenix.

The Injuries are yet-to-make-it-big, but I think they’ve got a promising road ahead. They regularly play Phoenix-area watering holes . . . places like The Rogue Bar, the Yucca Tap Room, the Ice House Tavern, and the Rhythm Room.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Lock the Door Christina” by Joe Pug

Fly Fishing Music

Fly Fishing Music

Try and find something wrong with anything Joe Pug has done. Go ahead and knock it off my shoulder. Go ahead.

Shannon Drawe, Texas Fly Caster

Everyone likes Joe Pug. He is the kind of artist that is hard not to like. He is a superb young songwriter. He also has a lot of humility and maturity around his growing stature. He doesn’t take that growth too seriously. What he does take seriously, though, is his audience:

“. . . at the end of the day, these people paid money to get in here, this is their time off, they’re hanging out, and if you haven’t captured their attention . . . that’s your job to entertain them. They could give a shit about what you’re trying to accomplish artistically, unless you bring them in and show them why it’s important.”

He also says that his favorite place to play his music is still the small, local establishment . . . places like the Tractor Tavern in Seattle, The Parish in Austin, Low Spirits in Albuquerque, Hi-Dive in Denver, Doug Fir in Portland, The Bell Tower in Pullman, The State Room in Salt Lake City, and Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins.

Here is “Lock the Door Christina” from his album Live at Lincoln Hall.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Never Had Nobody Like You” by M. Ward

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Fly Fishing Music

Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter Matthew Ward (known by his stage name — M. Ward ) is set to release a new album next month. The album will be entitled, A Wasteland Companion. Inspired by that upcoming release, we are reaching backwards . . . to a prior M. Ward album, Hold Time . . . in order to profile one of my favorite songs.

First, though, let’s talk about Ward. The man is a talented songwriter and extraordinary guitarist. He’s got a clear sense of himself . . . a clear, comfortable identity. That makes him a powerful artist.

A man of simple musical pleasures, Ward prefers the tried and true over the new and unusual. His smoky voice atop fidgety guitar plucking is like a beach bonfire, a steady warmth with the occasional pop or bang.  The crackling recording equipment of old comes to mind . . .

These words are from Mark Stock, a fly fishing newspaperman from Portland. Stock is not alone among flyfisherfolk in his appreciation of Ward’s folky/indie/alt-country sound. Several fly fishing media outlets — for example, This Is Fly magazine — have profiled and recommended Ward’s music.

Here is “Never Had Nobody Like You” from Hold Time.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Streets of New England” by Have Gun, Will Travel

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Fly Fishing Music

There is a sodden freshness to the morning that reaches through clothing and sets a man shivering, and the men talk in low voices in deference to the roar of the river.

The promise of rain had been fulfilled by the time I came to the river. The trees dripped moss and the moss dripped rain and the droplets formed rings on the river before the current snatched them away.

Steve Raymond, The Year of the Angler

The Trinity River Playlist is for steelheading . . . before and after winter steelheading, actually. It’s for the truck on a cold, rainy . . . maybe snowy . . . maybe solitary morning. It’s for the wet back roads of the far north of California, Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia after dusk. The songs are slower, more haunting, more contemplative. They are good for when you’ve got some time to think.

All of them are outstanding, I think – “Here I Go” by Leif James, “Wish It Was True” by The White Buffalo, “Lost and Found” by Chuck Ragan, “Home in the Woods” by Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, “To The North” by Matthew and The Atlas “One Lone Night” by The White Buffalo, “Out of My Own Way” by Matthew Dean Herman.

An appropriate addition to the list is a song by the band Have Gun, Will Travel. Here is “Streets of New England” from the band’s new album, Mergers & Acquisitions.


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Fly Fishing Music: “Oh I See” by Adam Arcuragi

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Fly Fishing Music

I have been looking forward to profiling Adam Arcuragi and his band, the Lupine Choral Society, for some time. These guys represent much of what this site is all about . . . music that is substantial and artistic, but fun to listen to . . . a sound that is indie folk, gospel and alt-county . . . songwriting that is gritty and rustic, oftentimes reverent, sometimes irreverent . . . and a road schedule that includes the public houses, alehouses and roadhouses of the Wasatch Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Out of My Own Way” by Matthew Dean Herman

Fly Fishing Music

Fly Fishing Music

Matthew Dean Herman lives in Anchorage, Alaska. He’s the focal point of the Jack River Kings, an alt-country band that apparently “becomes irresistible when accompanied by a couple of friends and a pitcher of beer.” This according to the Anchorage Press newspaper. I haven’t seen them live myself, but that’s my kind of band. And, the JRKs are definitely the real deal. They have played with such outfits as the Whipsaws and Lucero. The group is currently working on a new album and I look forward to profiling the new songs, soon.

Herman’s last album was a self-titled one. I don’t know if the other Jack River royalty backed him on the album or not. I do know that the album is quite good. Herman clearly has talent, both as a songwriter and as a musician. Anchorage Press: “He refined his guitar skills throughout his adolescence and began seriously writing songs in his mid-twenties, drawing inspiration from the classic country and Southern rock of his youth, and from contemporary alternative bands like The Hold Steady and My Morning Jacket.” His album is entitled Blackbird – a “country-infused blend of rock songs about beer, fishing, run-ins with the law, and, predominantly, love gone wrong.”

Music from the album anchors the soundtrack of the fly fishing film Cast Alaska, which won Best Documentary at the 2012 Mountain Film Awards and is an official selection of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4).

Here is “Out of My Own Way” from Blackbird.


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Fly Fishing Music: “Dead Bones” by Brandon Reid

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Fly Fishing Music

Brandon Reid is from Fairbanks, from the great interior of Alaska. According to the folks at the local paper, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Reid has “a tattoo of a star in the middle of his right hand. When he curls his fingers and makes his hand the shape of Alaska, he can clearly show off his hometown.” I love his devotion and sense of place. Why, though, should flyfisherfolk care about this city that is so close to the Arctic Circle?

Well . . . how about this . . . Fairbanks owes its very founding to a fly fishing river. About 110 years ago, a steamboat carrying Captain E.T. Barnette, who was looking to set up a trading post somewhere else, ran aground at a shallow place on the Chena River. Two gold prospectors saw smoke from the steamboat’s engine, clearly saw an opportunity, hustled over and met Barnette when he disembarked at the site of the grounding. The two men – then and there – convinced Barnette to change his plans and establish his trading post at that site, instead. He did. That was 1901 and that was the founding of Fairbanks.

Today, the Chena flows right through the city and offers fly fishermen and women blue ribbon opportunities to wade or float and fish . . . mostly for Arctic Grayling. The following comes from the Fairbanks-based Arctic Grayling Guide Service:

Arctic Grayling are found only in northern latitude clear water systems that are clean and pollution free. They are the primary sport fish in Alaska’s vast interior region. The arctic grayling is in the salmonoid family and is a distant relative of the trout.

Getting back to Reid, why should flyfisherfolk care about his music? Well . . . how about this . . . it’s good. He won best local album of 2011 from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for his new EP, Stuck In The City. Take a listen below. Reid’s music is mostly an alt.country rock. The Daily News-Miner calls it “a mixture of Reid’s church hymnal roots (he first played guitar for his grandma’s church) and stomp-folk rock ’n’ roll style.”

Here is “Dead Bones” from Stuck In The City.

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“Ramblin’ Man” by The Whiskey Folk Ramblers

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Fly Fishing Logo

The Rio Grande Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis) is native to New Mexico and southern Colorado – and more precisely, the Rio Grande River, the Canadian River and Pecos River drainages, in those states. It was “the first trout to be discovered in North America by Europeans and was first described in 1541 by Spaniards crossing the southwest in search of gold,” according the nativetroutflyfishing.comPopulations, though, as with many of its western brethren, have dropped since the time of that discovery, especially over the past century. As a result, its current range is much, much smaller than its historical native range. According to M.R. Montgomery, author of Many Rivers to Cross, it’s “now limited to an estimated 1 percent of its original habitat.”

But, a debate about that – what the native range of the RG Cutty actually was – has emerged over the past couple decades. A fair amount of anecdotal evidence, taken from the historical record and correlated by researchers and academics, provides compelling evidence that the RG Cutthroat’s original habitat was likely larger than previously thought and likely included parts of the state of Texas, as well. The evidence comes primarily from the 19th century, from reports found in the periodical Forest and Stream and various railroad survey reports. If this fish was indeed native to Texas, it’s long since been wiped out by familiar enemies, like cattle grazing, timber harvest, irrigation, and competition from the introduced Rainbows (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Trout Unlimited, Texas Parks & Wildlife and others are currently exploring the possibility of reestablishing this native fish to one or more streams in Texas. That’d be cool.

Now, turning our attention from fish native to Texas to musicians native to Texas, a very interesting bunch that is not having to reestablish itself, but is simply establishing itself for the first time, is Whiskey Folks Ramblers of Fort Worth. Steve Steward, writer and music reviewer, offers a great description of the band:

Like the soundtrack to a spaghetti western set in the Dust Bowl, Whiskey Folk Rambler’s “folk noir” blends ominous, reverb-dripping guitars with boot-stomping train beats and funereal horns to create sonic backdrops for down-on-your-luck ballads and beer-soaked anthems.

Their music is the sound of a union meeting at its drunkest, of a last-resort robbery gone awry, of mice and men and the lengths they’ll go to forget about their troubles. From catchy singalongs to moody shuffles, Whiskey Folk Rambler’s sound takes American roots music down a road less traveled . . .

Here is “Ramblin’ Man” from the WFR.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Durango” by Fourkiller Flats

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Fly Fishing MusicTucson-based Fourkiller Flats is a straightforward rock band. Whether it’s more alt.country rock or more southern rock is debatable. It’s some of both. On the band’s MySpace page, the band members – there are four of them – offer their own unique, Jack Black-esque description of their music: “Chunka Chunka Chunka Chunka WAAAAAAAAAA weedle dee weedle deee WAAAAAAA Chunka Chunka Chunka.” That’s hilarious. I like that.

Another thing I like, and something that is an aspect of the aforementioned straightforward style, is that the “studio” Flats sound just like the “live” Flats. “We took the time to record organically,” said drummer Bill Green about their newest album, Treasure & Trash, in an interview with Tucson Weekly. “There’s no overproduction . . . It’s pretty damn close to what we sound like in a live show . . . It’s us.”

“Durango,” from the new album, is the best song from the Flats so far. It’s clearly more about a girl and some trouble than it is about the southwestern Colorado town that gives the song its name. That small fact notwithstanding, the title of the song gives me the opportunity to highlight Durango fly waters.

There is a lot to choose from, but the clear star of the show is the Animas River. The headwaters of the Animas are high in the mountains above Durango, near the old mining town of Silverton. Historical mining operations there have hurt fishing in the upper part of the river. As it tumbles downhill, however, fishing on the Animas gets very, very good. So good, in fact, that the Colorado Wildlife Commission designated a two-mile stretch – the part, actually, that runs right through the town of Durango – as “Gold Medal” water. According to the Commission, “Gold Medal waters are the highest quality cold water habitats and have the capability to produce many quality size (14 inches or longer) trout.” The CWC doesn’t designate blithely. It has given the “Gold Medal” designation to only 14 waters in the state. And, the Animas is one that deserves it. This from the folks at the Duranglers Fly Shop:

The Animas is a stunning, free-flowing river . . .  Cutthroat, rainbows and browns are the main trout species that live within the river and the average fish is 12 to 16 inches. However 18 to 20 inch fish are common. Monster trout in the 7 to 10 pound range do in fact lurk in the Animas and only show themselves once in awhile. Sight nymphing, stripping streamers and casting dries to these wild and planted fish make [for] fantastic wade or float fishing.

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Fly Fishing Music: “When We Were Wild” by The Orbans

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Fly Fishing Music

Cliff Wright plays bass for The Orbans. He’s joined by fellow band mates Peter Black (vocals and guitar), Kenny Wayne (guitar), Justin Pate (keys) and Jordan Elder (drums). The Orbans formed in 2008 and are one of the best new bands to come out of Texas. Their album – When We Were Wild – is an impressive debut.

Cliff reached out to RG recently because, besides being a serious musician, he’s a serious angler. “Music and fly fishing are my two biggest passions in life,” he explained, “and luckily they mesh pretty well . . .” He also described to me a particularly good example of that “meshing.” This past summer, he and the guys broke off from touring the Northwest and hunkered down for a few days in Jackson Hole:

We spent some time . . . at the base of the Tetons . . . writing and recording, and of course I got to slip out for some fishing. I attached a picture of where we set up shop . . . it was a cabin in the Grand Teton National Park. You can barely see our cabin in the bottom right, where we wrote and recorded for a week.

It worked out really great, as we ended up playing on the other side of mountains . . . in Victor, Idaho, where I met some local fly fishing addicts who took me out on the Teton River on their drift boat . . . throwing dries on a river that looked like a page out of an Orvis catalog.  Pretty amazing day. 

It was super inspirational to be up in a gorgeous setting like that . . . some of the tunes we wrote will be recorded in March when we go in the studio for our album to be released this summer.

Personally, I can’t wait for that next album. For now, we have the last album. And, it’s excellent. The title track “goes pretty good with fishing,” according to Cliff. I agree.

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Fly Fishing Music: {FREE TRACK} “Home In A Boxcar” by Hoots And Hellmouth

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Fly Fishing Music

Hoots & Hellmouth, a band formed by Sean Hoots and Andrew “Hellmouth” Gray, originated in Philadelphia and remains, to this day, based out of Philadelphia. It is not, however, what you’d necessarily expect from Philadelphia. Shoot . . . maybe it is what you’d expect. I don’t know. I lived there for three years and learned that Philly is a place that can surprise you.

H&H is certainly a surprise. The band is roots, all the way. But, it’s also got an edgy inventiveness. “New music for old souls,” the band members call it. Whatever it’s called, these guys are lots of fun to watch live . . . as you’ll see in the video below.

So, while they are possibly unusual (definitely very talented) Philadelphians, the members of H&H don’t spend all their time there. The guys vow that

one thing that won’t change any time soon is the band’s love of the road. Touring the old-fashioned way . . . the band performs in all manner of venues on their own and with friends . . . From rock clubs to folk festivals, . . . thousands of dive bars and more than a few farms in between.

Therefore, you might be able to catch Hoots & Hellmouth live in Philadelphia – for they do indeed play there. Or, you might have to chase them down somewhere else. But, do yourself a favor and catch them somewhere. And, if you do happen to catch them in or near Philadelphia, do yourself another favor and – before or after the show – drive a couple hours west.

There, in south-central Pennsylvania, is some good (maybe great) fly fishing on the area’s famous limestone spring creeks – the LeTort Spring Run, Yellow Breeches Creek, Falling Spring Branch Creek and Big Spring Creek. Each of these creeks hold big, wild Rainbows and Browns, and they can be fished on a fly, even this time of year – although you’ll need to be careful to avoid the spawning Browns and their redds.

In the video below, H&H performs “Home In A Boxcar” – a great song about life on the road – at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio in 2010. To download a free, live version of the song, right click the Archive.org link below and select “Save Target As.” This is a quality recording from another show, back in 2009, at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C.

{Note: Once again, I want to give a nod to some folks. This time to those at the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Forums. Some of the members there were also early RG fans. Great guys.}

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Fly Fishing Music: {FREE TRACK} “Start The Day Early” by Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers

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Fly Fishing Music

Stephen Kellogg grew up on “his father’s record collection, devoted to ’70s singer/songwriters like Jim Croce and Cat Stevens, and his sister’s rock & roll discs, dominated by hair metal acts such as Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe” – according to him in an interview with journalist and critic Mark Deming.

It’s interesting. If you heard that quote from Kellogg before actually listening to his band – Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers (or “SK6ERS” as the diehards call them) – it’d be hard, I think, to imagine the SK6ERS sound. After you’ve heard them though, the words make total sense. On the band’s website they say that they “bring the rich legacy of American rock & roll” – all types of American rock & roll, clearly – “into the present tense.” “This is thrilling music,” they claim, “muscular, immediate and life-embracing, steeped in tradition but addressing the present moment boldly and eloquently.” Strong words . . . but I think they’re actually pretty right on.

In terms of geography, the SK6ERS are all about Western Massachusetts. Specifically, they’re based in the town of Northampton. (Most of the band were students together at the UMass Amherst.) Northampton is a good choice of a base. National Geographic Adventure named it among its Best Adventure Towns: “Great trout fishing abounds on the Deerfield River; visitors travel from all over to fly-fish here.” And, while the Deerfield holds trophy Rainbows, Browns and Brooks, the town of Northampton holds the Iron Horse. The Iron Horse is a long-established place to catch live shows, of both the local and national kind – rustic and intimate and great sound. It’s a place SK6ERS have played many times.

“Start The Day Early” is one of my favorites – among a lot of favorites – from SK6ERS. Included below are download links to both Amazon and Internet Archive. To get a free, live version of “Start The Day Early,” right click the Archive.org link and select “Save Target As.” It’s a very good recording.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Maybe I Missed the Point” by Jeff Bridges

Fly Fishing Music

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So, Jeff Bridges is an interesting dude . . . an impressive dude. (The Dude, actually, but that’s probably another post.) Inspired after playing Bad Blake, a well-oiled country singer in the 2009 movie Crazy Heart , Bridges recently released a real-life, self-titled debut album. And . . . it’s really pretty good music – country, folk rock, slide guitar, suffused with the distinctive personality and voice of Bridges.

The Dude is also a resident of Montana’s Paradise Valley and a regular patron of the famous Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop in Livingston. At least he was a regular patron back in the early 80′s, according to the store’s late owner. Whether Bridges still wets a fly line and whether he still frequents the fly shop, I haven’t a clue. What I do know, though, is that where he lives, Paradise Valley, is a serious fly fishing destination. Home to a long stretch of the Yellowstone River, the valley also contains three renowned spring creeks—Armstrong, DePuy and Nelson. “For the true trout bum, [those creeks are] the apex of the sport,” says National Geographic Adventure.

“Maybe I Missed the Point” is one of the best from the Jeff Bridges album. It’s a great song for bumping along dirt back roads in Paradise Valley.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Rest Stop” by Pufferfish

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Fly Fishing Music

Seattle, Washington is another place that offers great music (we knew that!) and good fly fishing (we knew that, too). For example, just 90 minutes to the southwest is the protected 75-mile blue ribbon stretch of the Yakima River. The Yakima flows from the dark forests of the Cascade Mountains, through open prairies and pastures, into desert hills and canyons – past eagles and herons and hawks, bighorn sheep and mule deer and elk, cougars and bobcats and black bears. Because that stretch is primarily a tailwater (with some freestone tributaries) and averages 300 sunny days per year, you can catch and release wild Rainbows and Cutthroats on the river all year round.

Meanwhile, after the fish and back in Seattle, one of my favorite, up-and-coming, still-relatively-obscure-and-local bands making great music is Pufferfish. According to Jason Kinnard at Seattle’s KEXP: “They’re a little bit country, a little bit rock & roll, and some bluegrass and folk wrapped in the middle . . . Call it alt-country with a twist.” Pufferfish plays such Seattle establishments as the Conor Byrne Pub, The Columbia City Theater, The Comet Tavern and the Tractor Tavern.

Here is “Rest Stop” from the Pufferfish album Hello Zero. It’s a very good song.


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Fly Fishing Music: “Far And Wide” by The Roadside Graves

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Fly Fishing Music

The Roadside Graves is a band seven guys strong. They hail from New Jersey and, like most of the music profiled on Reel Grease, they grab and bind the notes and influences of country and folk and rock ‘n’ roll. But, the Graves also pull in strong Southern gospel and Cajun sounds. Their music is raw and real and risky. Death is a common theme. And, the band members, while clearly dedicated musicians and performers, overflow with life and energy and fearlessness. This description from Reed Fischer at Paste Magazine is a snapshot of what is most interesting about the group:

Alt.country rascals Roadside Graves got heavy meta with a jam about “dirt on my lip and blood in my eye” after the singer split his face open with his mic and bled everywhere. I should have taken video because I can’t find anything that comes close to the level of musicianship these tatted-up guys guys now display.

The best song so far from the Graves is “Far And Wide.” Below are an audio version – from the studio – and a video version – taken from a live show and, at the end, blended into another Graves song. Listen to the audio version first, to get a sense of the song and the songwriting. Then, watch the video, to get a sense of the guys, themselves. In the clip, they’re off the stage and performing in the midst of the gathered crowd. Really good stuff. Very appropriate addition to the “to the river” playlist.

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Fly Fishing Music: {FREE TRACK} “Castle” by Dash Pocket

Fly Fishing Music

Fly Fishing Music

The Apache trout, Oncorhynchus gilae apache, is native only to the White Mountains of east-central Arizona. In fact, it is thought to be native to only three rivers – the Black River, the White River and Little Colorado River – all of which have their headwaters on the high slopes of Mount Baldy, an ancient volcano on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation. These rivers, and the streams that feed them, flow cool and clear through coniferous forests and marshes, thick with spruce, white pine, ponderosa pine, aspen and fir.

The Apache trout itself is golden on its belly, blending upwards into dark olive on its head and back. It has beautiful dark spots that tend to be fairly evenly spaced from its head to its tail. And it has a gold cutthroat mark and a “masked” look, due to the dark spots that typically show on both sides of each of its eyes.

For anyone making the trip to this remote and pristine place to fly fish for the rare and threatened Apache trout, a course of approach that includes the city of Tucson is recommended. The town of Pinetop, “basecamp” for most Apache trout expeditions, is only about 4 hours North and slightly East from Tucson. The reason being (for going through Tucson) is that there are good opportunities for live music in the southern Arizona town. One band that is way off the beaten path is the Americana/alt.country/folk duo of Dash Pocket. You can most often find these two playing at the Nimbus Brewing Company.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars

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Fly Fishing Music

In 1653, Izaak Walton published The Compleat Angler; or, the Contemplative Man’s Recreation. The work has become one of the most well known books in the English language. It’s certainly well known among fly anglers. The book touts the joys of fishing (including much about fly fishing), but the book was also meant by Walton to be a soft protest against the civil wars that had plagued England, Scotland and Ireland during the decade prior. While no doubt quite interesting, this post is actually not about those civil wars of 350 years ago (thank goodness!). It’s about The Civil Wars of Tennessee and Alabama . . . today.

This version of “The Civil Wars” is one of the most interesting musical groups to emerge this year. The duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White has taken alt. county/Americana (very) mainstream. They’ve earned many, many accolades over the past several months for their music. One of the most popular songs by The Civil Wars is “Barton Hollow.” It’s a great song, a haunting tune – despite its driving, toe-tapping beat – about sin and greed, fear and flight, forgiveness and salvation (or not). The lyrics almost sound like from a modern, Southern-born Raskolnikov – from Dostoyevsky’s master work, Crime and Punishment.

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Fly Fishing Music: “Sunshine” by Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses

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This is an older song – relatively older, at least. It was released back in 2008. But, it’s one of the best songs from a guy that writes and sings a lot of good songs – another one of which earned him an Academy Award. That guy is Ryan Bingham. His band is The Dead Horses. A Reel Grease visitor suggested this particular work on our “What Music Are YOU Listening To? page and it was an apt suggestion. Bingham is just a natural fit for Reel Grease. Indeed, each of his last three albums appeared on the Texas Fly Caster’s annual Top Ten Fly Fishing Music Countdown posts. (TFC is a very good fly fishing blog. Also, Shannon Drawe knows and appreciates good music.) Bingham and The Dead Horses placed 8th on the site’s list in 2010 (for Junky Star), 7th in 2009 (for Roadhouse Sun), and got top honors in 2008 (for Mescalito).

Bingham is both an interesting character and a good dude. The folks at Texas Music Magazine write that he “talks and sings with a whiskey-and-cigarette throat that screams hard living. Hard in a way that can make a 29-year-old sound like a 50-year-old Tom Waits.” One thing clear about Bingham is that, despite his impressive musical success, his hard living has grounded him with humility and compassion:

Traveling around a lot, you see people from all different walks of life. … Especially in the early morning hours, you see and meet a lot of characters that you wouldn’t usually meet. I’ve kind of always had this soft spot in my heart for the homeless community, mainly homeless kids who live on the streets. I guess, in some way or another, that could have easily been myself or some of the guys in the band.

Whether as a background for tying flies at home or for manning the register at the fly shop, the music of Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses is a great choice. Take a listen to “Sunshine” below – both live at the Austin City Limits Music Festival (from a couple of months back) and from the studio.

Fly Fishing Music

 

 

Fly Fishing Music

 

 
Fly Fishing Music
 
 


Fly Fishing Music: “Churches of Wilmington” by Alexander Hudjohn

Fly Fishing Music

Fly Fishing Music

Alexander Hudjohn is originally from the American Southwest – San Antonio, Texas – but left there (with an interim stop in California) and went to the American Northwest, to the dark, rich, fertile musical soil of Portland, Oregon. He is an alt. country singer/songwriter that has played gigs at local Portland venues like the White Eagle Saloon and the Alberta Rose Theater. He is also a fly fisherman. From his Twitter profile: “I fly fish and drive old trucks.” You’ve gotta like that.

Hudjohn, like many others of his ilk (e.g., Chuck Ragan), has made the move from punk to Americana. In a former career, he was a singer and guitarist for the Portland punk band Anchor Down. But now, according to an interview he did for More Cowbelle, he is a “30-year-old guy who used to be in punk bands, grew up on country, and now plays acoustic.”  “I’m pretty sure that’s a genre now,” he jokes. What is clear is that he has settled into the simplicity of a one mic/one voice/one guitar-type of artist. “I do not have a backing band. I cannot afford a backing band. I don’t write songs for full bands. When I play live, it’s just me and a guitar.”

As a songwriter, Hudjohn’s lyrics are personal and unique and honest. They get a hold of you. The song below, “The Churches of Wilmington,” is a great example of that. It is from his album Silvertone – named for the 1959 Silvertone guitar that sits in his living room. “It’s always there when I need it, just waiting to be picked up and strummed. I come up with ideas usually as soon as I walk in the door, so it’s nice having it there waiting for me.”

Fly Fishing Music

 

 

Fly Fishing Music

 

 


Fly Fishing Music: “Joe Hill’s Ashes” by Otis Gibbs

Fly Fishing Music

Fly Fishing Music

It seems to me that a healthy appreciation for the “road trip” is just usually inherent in fly anglers. By this I mean that, once or twice a year, most of us flyfisherfolk instinctually look forward to spending a few days on the road – nearly always with a few good buddies – meeting new people, seeing new (or old, familiar) places, and fishing new (or old, familiar) waters – whether those waters be in Montana or Michigan, New York or New Mexico, Arkansas or Arizona, Colorado or California, Idaho or Oregon or Utah. I don’t want to overstate the thing, but it’s a fact – I think – that these adventures of the road are so appealing because they can be mythic and transformative, in a way that time spent on the home waters just . . . isn’t. Home waters are important, of course, but they are very different in their impact. And, therefore, most fly fishermen and women just naturally thirst for an occasional, maybe annual, road trip.

Tom Chandler, over at Trout Underground, has written a number of great posts on the subject of the road trip, primarily in the context of detailing his annual road pilgrimages to Montana. In my opinion, the best of these posts is, “Montana 2010: Missoula’s In The Headlights, But What’s On The Stereo? (or, The Top Five Road Trip CDs).” Chandler gets this connection between fly fishing and music. Because road trips, by their nature, require much time in the car, music is important. But, it goes way beyond that, I think – music can actually help define the trip, set the mood and the character of the trip. And, therefore, getting the music right becomes absolutely essential to the whole idea of the road trip.

One recording artist that captures the sound and texture of the road trip, perhaps better than any other, is Otis Gibbs. This is a man that knows a thing or two about the road. According to Gibbs, he “has spent the last fifteen years travelling across America and abroad documenting this world, and ha[s] a story to share about each stop along the way.” You can hear those stories in his songwriting and in his music.

Note: I am purposefully ignoring the political messages that run though the music of Otis Gibbs, because Reel Grease is anything but a political blog – his music is simply . . . very good. “Joe Hill’s Ashes” is one of his best.

Fly Fishing Music

 

 

Fly Fishing Music

 

 


Fly Fishing Music: “Love The Way You Walk Away” by Blitzen Trapper

Fly Fishing Music

Fly Fishing Music

Blitzen Trapper is an alt. country/folk band based in Portland, Oregon. The band has long been a part of Portland’s unique and robust indie music scene. Though its members had played together for years in various combinations, the band “crystalized” on the slopes of Mt. Hood at an event in the summer of 2000. They have released seven albums in the years since. While getting much mainstream attention during that time, Blitzen Trapper also seems to have built an impressively strong following among those who fly fish.

Maybe it’s not hard to see why. Aside from creating some great music (see “Love The Way you walk Away” below), Blitzen Trapper plays mostly close to home and Portland is a target rich environment for fly fishermen and women. The area is surrounded by several great trout and steelhead options. The most notable is the famous and classic McKenzie River. Also close by, though, are the Siletz, Nestucca, Nehalem, Sandy and Clackamas rivers.

Blitzen Trapper was also one of the first bands to step up and donate an exclusive track to Patagonia Music. Patagonia funnels funds from the sales of such tracks to causes that help protect and restore the natural environment. Each participating Patagonia Music artist gets to choose a particular cause to support. Blitzen Trapper chose one that, in the words of lead singer Eric Earley, is focused on “cleaning up water resources, watersheds and creeks and streams . . .”

Note: Another Blitzen Trapper song, “Black River Killer,” is on the musical soundtrack of fly fishing film Eastern Rises by Felt Soul Media.

Fly Fishing MusicFly Fishing Music