Local country/folk rockers Kelsey's Woods have more respect for tradition than they do genre boundaries; the quartet mixes up old acoustic music—classic country, folk, and bluegrass, all of it tinged with sorrowful fiddle—into something resembling all of those styles.
Russ Torbett, bass and vocals:
The Replacements, "Can't Hardly Wait" from Pleased to Meet Me (Sire, 1987)
Lately I've been really digging on the Replacements' song "Can't Hardly Wait," as I was reintroduced to it by Justin Townes Earle's cover of it on his new record Midnight at the Movies. The two versions are similar and straightforward, despite two drastically different approaches, instrumentally, to each's music. One has horns, one has strings. Both very cool. Check it out.
Damn Right, Rebel Proud (Sidewalk, 2008)
I've been a fan of ol' Hank III since his debut album Risin' Outlaw, and he just keeps getting better and better, and madder and meaner. Songs like "The Grand Ole Opry (Ain't So Grand Anymore)" and "Six Pack of Beer" are just awesome with their honky-tonkin', hellbilly rockin', I-don't-give-a-damn attitude. I can't help but turn them up and sing—or yell—them out loud! His show at the Valarium a few weeks ago was great, too.
Dave Kennedy, vocals and guitar:
Wilco, Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch, 2007) and Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch, 2009)
Ever since I got back from Bonnaroo and saw Wilco for the first time, I've joined the rest of the world and finally realized Jeff Tweedy's brilliance. I held out as long as I could, but the songs "You Never Know" off the new album and "What Light" off of Sky Blue Sky have been all over satellite radio and have become fast favorites.
Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song (Mercury, 2008)
I have to say that the album That Lonesome Song by Jamey Johnson has been played quite an awful lot in my car as of late. The guy is an amazing songwriter and has a great sense of what country music was, should be, and could be again so long as guys like him keep writing the guidebook. As always, I'm probably a little late to the ball with both of these guys, but I suppose there is some merit in making it there at all, or at least that is my hope.