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Grandpa Style

Know that this one is not exactly safe for work. I hate to stereotype, or bring up race in a music blog post, but I’m just trying to give you some info. Macklemore is a white rapper, otherwise known as a rapper. He is from Seattle. Judging by this track, he is hilarious and has some friends making him nasty beats. I’m a fan.

1 p.m.
“Thrift Shop” by Macklemore

Apparently, he named himself after retired baseball player Mark McLemore. Remember when he played for the Orioles? He was part of one of my favorite outfields in ’93–Brady Anderson in left, Mike Devereaux in center and McLemore in right. The O’s are back, baby!

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Funk Nasty

Until about 40 minutes ago, I was completely unaware this band existed. What have I been doing with my life? What have all of us been doing? It’s like Sly Stone meets T Rex. So damn good.

“Truth Will Set You Free” by Mother’s Finest

Looks like they mostly rocked the ’70s, but they are still around today:


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My Turn

Some of you (honestly, very few of you) might have noticed that my regular column, “The Equalizer” did not appear in today’s Weekender section of the newsprint version of the Free Lance-Star. Now, before you start believing the conspiracy theories floating around out there, know that it was a simple matter of space. There wasn’t enough of it. I know, seems like a weak excuse, given that a significant portion of our known universe is made of space. But The Weekender is a finite resource and The Equalizer will not be constrained. Something had to give.

So give I will. For the rest of the day, I will present you, the lucky reader, with a song each hour. These will be special songs–dedications directly from my heart to yours. If you’re not careful, you might just learn something.

11 a.m.
“Hush” by Joe South

Safe home to Joe South, who died yesterday. He was one of those serious Nashville cats that had a profound influence on much of the music you’ve heard over the last five decades. Not only did he have his own hit songs (“Games People Play” being the biggest), he also wrote hit songs for others (including Elvis, who made “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” a concert staple.). South was also a stellar guitar player, and his axe is on Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” as well as most of the tracks on Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” album.

I think “Hush” (which he wrote and was recorded by Billy Joe Royal and Deep Purple) is a great example of his singing and songwriting–to my ears, his original version is worlds better than either of the well-known covers. It has a sort of slinky funkiness that is missing from those other versions.



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FAA To Host Dismemberment Plan


This might not help much, as tickets are already hard (if not impossible) to come by, but Fredericksburg All Ages has a major concert coming up August 11: the Dismemberment Plan at Eyeclopes Studio.

For the uninitiated, Dismemberment Plan is an influential indie-rock band from Washington, D.C., but their roots run directly to Fredericksburg and what was then Mary Washington College.  They had their greatest impact on music and culture (so far, anyway) in the ’90s. Their 1999 album “Emergency & I” is probably their critical high-water mark, routinely named one of the top albums of the decade. Critical success aside, it is an album built with sounds and themes that continue to influence rock music today.

If you want tickets to the show, get in line and cross your fingers. A small number of tickets were released this morning and are already gone, but more tickets are scheduled to be available here tomorrow at 10 a.m. Also, keep an eye on and the FAA Facebook page.

Dismemberment Plan tickets:

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Ben Sellers Is On ZZ Top

PHOTOS: Band pictures | Fan pictures

A quick review of yesterday’s “Gang of Outlaws” concert at Celebrate Virginia Live. Ben Sellers, the floor is yours:

Perhaps it was country-rock-blues cross-appeal of the bill that brought folks swarming on a Sunday night for the “Gang of Outlaws” (Gretchen Wilson, Three Doors Down and ZZ Top). Regardless, everyone seemed united under a single “Fredneck” banner, best represented by the battle-scarred Confederate flag that waved in the dusky breeze. The turnout seemed to rival some of the bigger shows at the pavilion, though the Celebrate Virginia Live Facebook page indicated that tickets were still on sale as of midway through the show.

ZZ Top rocked it, covering many of the hits fans came to see (“Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” “La Grange”) as well as “Vincent Price Blues” off the “From Dusk Till Dawn” soundtrack and a few more offbeat numbers. As seems to be the custom for Celebrate Virginia Live shows (likely due to the apartment complex a stone’s throw away), they cut it off at 9:30, leaving some fans with appetites unsated and the Texas blues-rockers’ massive song catalog only partially tapped (“Cheap Sunglasses” was notably absent). Yet most left satisfied–and probably more than grateful for the early last call when they woke up Monday morning. Maybe it was a good thing that Dusty and Billy didn’t keep rocking all night (and making barbecue) as they promised at one point during the show.

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Put Some Ballz In Your Country

I’ve taken some recent heat from friends and family for being overly negative about country music. I want to set the record straight: I love country music. I don’t think I need to explain it any further than that. But I’ll try.

I don’t love EVERYTHING about country music. Taken at face value, popular country music is the most insipid pop music on the planet–even more pedestrian and hackneyed than the stuff labeled simply as “pop music.” Keep in mind that popular does not necessarily mean bad. For instance, Garth Brooks is one of my favorite performers and Garth is very nearly the most popular singer of all time.

In my estimation, country music has it all: the heartbreak of the blues, the uplift of gospel, the virtuosity of jazz, the regional flavor of bluegrass, the tradition of folk and the hard edge of rock ‘n’ roll. But not all country songs reach the potential of the genre. In fact, few do. That’s a shame, but it’s to be expected.

So what country music do I like? Seeing no particular genre or label that suits my taste, I created my own: Ballz Country.

Ballz Country (n.): um…well, I don’t really have a definition yet. I need some help.

At the moment, it’s one of those “I know it when I hear it” sort of things, but I’m still feeling out the boundaries. It would be easy to just say this is “southern rock,” but it needs to be more inclusive than that. Let’s say Lynyrd Skynyrd is at one end of the range. Some of their songs would certainly qualify at “Ballz Country,” but not all of them do. And I don’t want this to be a total Skynyrd genre. And while some bluegrass can be Ballzy, most of it isn’t. Ditto with singer/songwriter country, which is full of gritty, tough, mean songs, but might not be performed in a way that connotes “Ballz.”

So without clear boundaries to guide us, here are some representative tunes.

“Choctaw Bingo” by James McMurtry
This is my ultimate Ballz Country tune. He’s a singer/songwriter, but he plays a gritty electric guitar. He has a rockin’ band. Lyrics are key here – it’s sort of a redneck talking blues, complete with drug abuse, questionable parenting, trailers, guns and rural details.

“Drink in My Hand” by Eric Church
For the most part, the stuff you’ll hear on pop country radio doesn’t qualify for “Ballz” status. But there are some exceptions. Here is an exception that is a bit more aggressive than the standard country party song. And Ballz Country certainly has room for party songs. Good party songs.

“Let There Be Rock” by the Drive-By Truckers
Flirting with Skynyrd territory here, but I think some Truckers songs are the epitome of Ballz Country. This isn’t twangy, and there’s no pedal steel, but it’s gritty, honest, pure power. That’s Ballz.

“Sin Wagon” by The Dixie Chicks
I’ll admit to a weakness in my genre–not many women. This isn’t to say there aren’t Ballzy female country singers. In some ways, the women are Ballzier than the men throughout country music history. While someone like, say, Loretta Lynn has incredibly subversive and tough songs, I’m not sure I’d blast ‘em with the windows down on a midnight trail ride. So I guess message is important, but the music might be more important. Maybe?

“Copenhagen” by Robert Earl Keen
Here’s evidence that a song doesn’t have to have Marshall stacks to have Ballz. This is a jokey acoustic novelty song, but I think it’s clever enough to warrant some recognition, and the subject matter is certainly country.

So what say you? Have any suggestions?

For those of you with a Spotify account, I have a collaborative playlist going on. I have a bunch of songs in there already, but feel free to add or remove as you see fit. I only ask that if you do add or remove a song, email me at and let me know why.

Together, we can put the Ballz in country. Join me.

Ballz Country

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The NBA Feat. Cee-Lo Green

The NBA is sometimes more entertaining because of what happens off the court. Have you seen the horrible suits rookies wear the the draft? How about Yi Jianlian showing off his post moves against furniture? And who can forget LeBron James eviscerating every fan in his home state by choosing to leave the Cleveland Cavs on national television? You don’t get more entertaining extracurriculars in any other sport.

(Just so you’re clear on where I stand, The Decision was horrible. I watched along with everyone else, but you shouldn’t create an entire TV show just so you can flip the bird to a city, even if it is Cleveland.)

It all goes to show that (thanks be to God) the NBA is ham-fisted when it comes to the off-the-court stuff. It’s fitting that the equally ham-fisted Goodie Mob has a song featured in an NBA commercial. Oh, I’m sorry. I meant Goodie Mob feat. Cee-Lo Green. You know, the guy from Goodie Mob.

Cee-Lo (not feat. Goodie Mob) has been on one recently, winning awards for “F*ck you” and flaunting his cross-dressing tendencies as a coach on “The Voice.”

I get that it’s for the name recognition, but could you imagine being one of the other Goodie Mobbers? You’ve seen your (friend?) and bandmate on stage during the Super Bowl halftime show with Madonna. You saw him have huge hit songs as a solo artist and a member of another group. He’s on an insanely popular TV show.

Imagine introducing The Beatles as “The Beatles featuring Paul McCartney.” John would have been pissed. Ringo would have, well…Ringo wouldn’t have cared. Ringo was lucky to be along for the ride.

I can’t imagine the rest of the Mob being as happy as Ringo about this development. Goodie Mob’s first album after Cee-Lo left was titled “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show.” I’ll let you guess who the monkey is.

For those of us who actually know Goodie Mob, the whole thing is cringeworthy. But it’s so fitting that it’s all happening during the NBA playoffs.

The NBA: where ham-fisted, awkward entertainment happens. Feat. Cee-Lo Green.

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Godspeed To The Go-Go Godfather

Chuck Brown has passed on to a better place, although it’s hard to imagine a better place to be than a Chuck Brown show.

Take the time and watch every part of this documentary. Amazing.


And this one:


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Levon Likes His Money?

I’m still a little stuck on Levon Helm’s death, but he had a big enough impact as a musician when he was alive that he influenced a few other artists. Influenced them to the point of writing songs about him. Before he died.Here are three that I could find. Maybe you have more?

“Levon” by Elton John
I’m not so sure this one is about Levon, but Elton John said he named the song and the titular character after Levon Helm.

“The Man Behind the Drums” by Robert Earl Keen
Sounds like a chronicling of Keen’s trip to one of Levon’s famous “Midnight Rambles” at his studio in Woodstock, NY.

“Listening to Levon” by Marc Cohn
I have a soft spot for the “Walking in Memphis” guy.

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Free Alan Jackson!

It looks like all 3,000 of the free tickets to Alan Jackson’s May 20 concert at Louisa County High School are gone. You might notice I’m posting this at about 10:10 a.m. Tickets went on “sale” at 10 a.m. at and appear to have sold out by about 10:03 a.m. That is Jimmy Buffett quick! While the tickets were technically free, there was a $3.50 service charge per ticket. Not a bad deal to see one of the greatest country singers of all time in a very unlikely setting.

So congrats to those of you who got them, and I’m sorry for those who did not. Let’s hope most of them went to deserving Louisa residents and not some sleazy ticket brokers.

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The Rumble - large This blog will highlight the best events in and around the Fredericksburg region, as well as reviews, music news and more. Feel free to tell us what we've missed.