Graham Wilkinson & Kimya Dawson jam at the Mean Eyed Cat in Austin

This weekend I caught some music in Austin. I got in to the live music capital of the world at the tail end of the South By Southwest (SXSW) festivities, which features official and unofficial showcases that bring together bands from across the globe. I went to an unofficial show at the Mean Eyed Cat. This old saw sharpening workshop turned club and living tribute to Johnny Cash rocked Friday night as Kimya Dawsonand Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township played some great tunes.

Graham played some of my favorites including “Boys & Girls,” “Let It Go,” and “Polvo’s Martinis.” Christopher Denny joined Graham for a rollicking Bob Dylan cover with shredding guitar solos and wailing harmonica. “The Man in Black” himself would have loved this night of music. The sounds were as eclectic as Johnny’s tastes. From Dylan folk ballads to protest songs to country and reggae to rock and roll, Kimya and Graham kept Austin weird for another night!

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Graham Wilkinson & Kimya Dawson jam at the Mean Eyed Cat in Austin

The Top Albums of October 2009

Never Give Up” with Screw Driverand Inner Circle is one of those uplifting songs that inspires and makes you want to take on all comers. It has the punch and message of the Jimmy Cliff classic “The Harder They Come.” This song is my new motto: “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.” Inner Circle’s State Of Da World deserves the attention of the world. This new album includes collaborations with reggae megastars Junior ReidGramps Morgan of Morgan Heritage, Bushman and Luciano.  Slightly Stoopid appears on “Mary Collie Weed” and Damian Marley and  Stephen Marley make guest appearances on “Smoke Gets In My Eyes.”

Texas musicians James McMurtryLyle Lovett, and Robert Earl Keen all released new albums this month. McMurty’s Live In Europe features rocking versions of “Ruby And Carlos” and “Just Us Kids.” Lyle Lovett‘s Natural Forces has a beautiful cover of Townes Van Zandt‘sLoretta.” And Robert Earl Keen has a Townes Van Zandt tune “Flyin’ Shoes” on his new album The Rose Hotel. The single “The Rose Hotel” is free and loose and classic Robert Earl.

On the rap/hip-hop scene Wu-Tang Clan Alumni Raekwon and Ghostface Killah released new albums. The sequel to Raekwon’s classic album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx has been released. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Part II features killer solo tracks like “Ason Jones.” Method Man, Inspectah Deck, and Ghostface Killah guest on “House Of Flying Daggers” and on “The New Wu.” Old School maestro Slick Rick joins Raekwon, GZA, and Masta Killa onWe Will Rob You.”  And new school rapper Lyfe Jennings appears on the track “Catalina.” Ghostface Killah’s album Ghostdini Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City includes the notable tracks “Baby,” “Back Like That (Remix),” and “Do Over.” Also on the rap scene A Tribe Called Quest emcee Q-Tip released Kamaal The Abstract with the jazzy single “Even If It Is So.”

Greensleeves released two solid reggae compilations this month: The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2009 and The Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems 2009. Great songs on this year’s one drop anthems include Beres Hammond’s Can’t Say I Never Tried” and Marcia Griffith and Busy Signal’s Automatic (Keeping It Real). The outstanding track is Romain Virgo’s tribute to the legendary Alton Ellis entitledAlton’s Medley: Breaking Up / Ain’t That Loving You / My Willow Tree.” Also Peetah and Assassin’sHot A Road,” Mr. Williamz’s No Cigarette” and Ziggi’sGonna Leave You” make this easy-going reggae collection worth the listen.

On the dancehall side of things with The Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems 2009 Black Ryno’sBend Over” and Vybz Kartel and Gaza Indu’sVirginity” induce the booty shaking while the catchy “Never Change (From Mawning)” by Chino will have you singing along. This newest addition to the dancehall anthems collection stocks up on heavy hitting dancehall singjays like Busy Signal, Demarco, Mavado, Jah Vinci, Laden, and Konshens.

  1. Inner CircleState Of Da World [Shanachie 2009]
  2. James McMurtry Live In Europe [Lightning Rod 2009]
  3. Lyle LovettNatural Forces [Curb/Lost Highway 2009]
  4. Monsters of FolkMonsters Of Folk [Shangri-La 2009]
  5. Various Artists The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2009 [Greensleeves 2009]
  6. RaekwonOnly Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 [EMI 2009]
  7. Robert Earl KeenThe Rose Hotel [Lost Highway Records 2009]
  8. Various ArtistsJah Live Riddim [Joe Frasier 2009]
  9. International Observer Felt [Dubmission 2009]
  10. Roseanne CashThe List [Manhattan 2009]
  11. Various ArtistsPenthouse Showcase Volume 4 [Penthouse 2009]
  12. Various ArtistsPenthouse Showcae Volume 5 [Penthouse 2009]
  13. Kiddus IGreen Fa Life [Makasound/Makafresh 2009]
  14. Breakestra Dusk Till’ Dawn [Strut Records 2009]
  15. Danny MaloneCuddlebug [Township Records 2009]
  16. Kid CudiMan On The Moon: The End Of Day [Dream On/G.O.O.D./Universal Motown 2009]
  17. The XX xx [Young Turks 2009]
  18. Various ArtistsThe Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems 2009 [Greensleeves 2009]
  19. MuseThe Resistance [Warner Brothers 2009]
  20. Ghostface Killah – Ghostdini Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City [Island/Def Jam 2009]
  21. Various Artists5: Five Years of Hyperdub [Hyperdub 2009]
  22. Gossip Music For Men [Columbia 2009]
  23. The Avett Brothers I And Love And You [Columbia 2009]
  24. Chuck FendaFulfillment [VP Records 2009]
  25. Omar Perry –  Can’t Stop Us [Makasound/Makafresh 2009]
  26. Tribal SeedsThe Harvest [Tribal Seeds 2009]
  27. Toddla TSkanky Skanky [1965 2009]
  28. Masta Ace & Edo GArts & Entertainment [Traffic 2009]
  29. Mark Stuart and the Bastard SonsBend In The Road [Dualtone 2009]
  30. Q-Tip Kamaal The Abstract [Jive 2009]
  31. Doveman –  The Conformist [Brassland Records 2009]
  32. DawesNorth Hills [ATO 2009]
  33. Kris KristoffersonCloser To The Bone [New West 2009]
  34. Mark KnopflerGet Lucky [Rerprise 2009]
  35. Takana ZionRappel à l’ordre [Makasound/Makafresh 2009]
The Top Albums of October 2009

Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township make music for all the “Ragamuffin” Kids

Nature lovin,’ tree-huggin, hippy musician and artist Graham Wilkinson put together a fascinating group of Austin-based musicians to accompany his original and inspirational songs on the new album Yearbook. Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township make beautiful music for mountain drives and nature hikes, but also for boisterous bars across North America. The music is original. Some might claim it is a kaleidoscope of roots music, folk, rock, Americana, jazz, and reggae, but really Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township melt away genres and make new and exciting music.

underground township photo

On Yearbook Graham Wilkinson writes beautiful ballads like “Star Blue” and blues tunes like “The Corner Store” underscoring his brilliance at song writing. Drummer Matt Morris, bassist Wayne Dalchau, guitarist P.J. Herrington, and Chris Stringer on keys make up the backbone of the Underground Township on this particular album with Graham playing a range of instruments from harmonica and guitars to percussion. The Township is joined by a revolving cast of musicians from the Austin scene including Hayes Carll, Alejandro Escovedo, Ray Hilner, Meg Kemp, Mista Swift, Margaret Whitt-Harn, Joe Fallhaeber, Trisha Keefer, Mark Levine, Nick Warrechuk, Mark Wilson, Kyle Clayton, Will Duppy, Leila Henley, Heidi Johnson, Danny Malone, David Moss, Hector Munoz, Ron Weisberg, Dawnerin Wilkinson, Sarah Lu Wilkinson, and even legendary Texan musician Lloyd Maines.

The track “Ragamuffin” sticks out as a particular favorite of mine. I’ve always liked this song, but when it came up on my iPod (in a random shuffle mode) while cruising through the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming it seemed to be the perfect song at the perfect time. Hayes Carll and Graham Wilkinson share vocals on the song with Lloyd Maines playing a beautiful steel guitar. The gliding pace of the song helped me to glide smoothly over the meadows and mountain lakes.

The tracks on Yearbook like “La Brisa,” “Let It Go,” and “Boys and Girls” are not only great songs, but they also have been well produced here by Township Records. Township Records, run by bassist Wayne Dalchau, is a great local Austin indie label with talented new artists like Danny Malone, James Levy, and Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township.

Yearbook is a concept album that takes a look back at the collaborations and music of 2008 in South Austin. The previous release from the band was the self-titled Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township, which took a different approach to Graham’s songs. On Yearbook the tracks are more filled out. And the good news is, The Underground Township are taking this wonderful music on the road for 2009. The late summer tour is exhaustive. Make sure to catch Graham & the Township playing in a town near you.

Aug 2 2009 6:00P Freds Texas Cafe Ft. Worth, Texas
Aug 5 2009 8:00P The Whitewater Tavern Little Rock, Arkansas
Aug 6 2009 9:00P Tres Hombres Carbondale, Illinois
Aug 7 2009 9:00P Duke’s Hideaway Chicago, Illinois
Aug 8 2009 9:00P Duke’s Hideaway Chicaco, Illinois
Aug 9 2009 8:00P Village Inn Suttons Bay, MI
Aug 10 2009 8:00P Village Inn Suttons Bay, MI
Aug 11 2009 8:00P Village Inn Suttons Bay, MI
Aug 12 2009 9:00P The Happy Dog Cleveland, Ohio
Aug 13 2009 9:00P Hill Country BBQ New York, New York
Aug 14 2009 10:00P Blak Oak Tavern Oneonta, New York
Aug 15 2009 8:00P Fred Fest Oneonta, New York
Aug 19 2009 9:00P Northside Tavern Cincinnati, Ohio
Aug 20 2009 9:00P Boone Saloon Boone, North Carolina
Aug 21 2009 9:00P Tasty World Athens, Georgia
Aug 22 2009 9:00P Westville Pub Asheville, North Carolina
Aug 25 2009 9:00P Lynagh’s Irish Pub Lexington, Kentucky
Aug 26 2009 10:00P The Basement w/ Rufus Huff (Kentucky Headhunters) Nashville, Tennessee
Aug 27 2009 8:00P The Whitewater Tavern Little Rock, Arkansas
Aug 28 2009 8:00P Smoke and Barrel Tavern Fayetteville, Arkansas
Aug 29 2009 8:00P The Parish w/ The Blue Hit & Danny Malone Austin, TX

Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township make music for all the “Ragamuffin” Kids