Posts Tagged ‘nashville’

Dear John Prine

This morning, I cried so hard, listening to the new John Prine album, the Tree of Forgiveness,  I ran a red light and had to pull over. Mascara rolled down my face. It’s his first new album in 13 years and it’s a dandy. His songs are still beautiful, silly and heartbreaking,  John Prine is the cheerful and melancholy Dr. Seuss of the music world.

I started listening to John Prine when his first album came out in the 70’s. I was thirteen. My big brother Jack who was a freshman in college was a huge fan. He had a beat up pick-up and we’d roll down the windows and howl along to every song.  Two years latter both my dad and Jack died suddenly, two weeks apart and for several years John Prine’s voice, his messages and emotions,were just about  the only music I could tolerate.  His broken voice and sad, goofy songs some how  duct taped my heart for a little bit,  until it began to heal on it’s own.

In the beginning most of John Prine’s songs were really sad. But every album he has grown more hopeful, his view of life has evolved.  The world, I think, used to hurt his soul, now he seems amused and charmed by this planet and her inhabitants.

Over the years I’ve tried to meet John Prine, but it’s never meant to be and that’s ok.  I talk to him in my head sometimes.  Today, I imagined telling him about the two Mennonite men I saw this morning with long beards, big hats and antique hats and they were vaping.

My son Jack is a songwriter in Nashville, he grew up listening to John Prine and the influence is obvious. Jack is taking me to see Mr. Prine live next weekend in a little venue in Nashville. I don’t need to meet him anymore, but if I did I’d tell him I’m happy he’s happy. He wasn’t always. And I’m so glad we’re both still alive. That’s takes a lot of work sometimes. I’d thank him for Jack’s songs because they bring me joy and make me proud. I’d thank him so staying with me all these years.

I was still listening to Tree of Forgiveness when I got to work. I parked, turned off the car and the music stopped suddenly. And that med me cry all over again.


Jack and Eddie too me to see John Prine ten years ago.



Is There Hope For County Music?

margoI hate most country music right now. That’s a bad thing because I work at a big county radio station that I love. I make my living on county music. But most of it just sucks right now and doesn’t work for anyone over thirty five cause we aren’t hot girls any more, most of us don’t wear Daisy Dukes and dance in the back of pickup trucks in corn fields. Most country music right now is horribly over produced, predictable, commercial oatmeal. I’m not sure how it got so far away from it’s original sincere story telling roots.

I’ve had a long life with country music. When I was five and  my mom was listening to Fiddler On The Roof in the living room I stayed locked in my room listening to How Highs the Water Mama? by Johnny Cash. In the eighties, when my friends finally got out of my car I’d take out the Talking Heads or Cheap Trick tape and listen to Waylon, Merle and John Prine.

But there’s hope!  For months my oldest son, Jack, has been telling me about this girl in Nashville. Margo Price. At first he just talked about how good she was. Then, when she got signed by a real record label he was really encouraged and I started paying attention.  When her first album, Midwest Farmers Daughter came out and I saw her on a news program I started telling the country DJs in the building about her. I stood behind them and forced them to watch videos and I said stuff like, “Look, she’s a real musician, and check out her band. It’s freaking awesome.”

Then Margo was interviewed on NPR and appeared on Saturday Night Live. For the first time I started to think there was a little hope for country music.  If you haven’t heard her she’s a lovely mashup of old school, traditional, twangy country with a brilliant modern twist. She’s honest and smart with a killer steel guitar player. And this womanl has actually lived, she’s suffered and sinned, loved and lost…. so she  has something to write about. This is so much better than the vacuous frat boy stuff we’re listening to now.

And today it happened. Tom Duke a legendary country music DJ, walked past and said, “Well, I noticed that girl charted today.”

Maybe the crappy country tide is turning. Maybe Margo was the necessary stone on the country music scale that will start the tipping.

Yaaaahhhh. Thank you Margo Price. You’ve given something to me that I loved and lost. And for the first time in five years I might start listening to our station again, and I’ll even listen to the music, not just the commercial breaks to make sure my clients are taken care of.

Here’s one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9b7QwdCWhw

Free Stuff From Hampoland

nat out band

So, I spent the weekend in Nashville with my son Jack, his little brother, Sandor and the guys in Jack’s band, Natural Outlaw.

We tore that town up but by far, the highlight of the four day excursion   was a show, Saturday night. Natural Outlaw played and once again, I was absolutely astonished.  Their music is almost a throw back to Lynard Skynard/Marshal Tucker days. It’s guitar driven sleazy greasy Southern rock with smart lyrics.

It’s the kind of music that makes guy do shots and drunk girls get drunker then dance in a pack in front of the stage.

The boys know exactly what they are doing on stage but they don’t have a clue as to how the music business works. Still…folks show up when they play so they must be doing something right.

Everyone tells me they need a music manager.  Apparently I can’t buy one so I’m asking you for help and I’m also giving stuff away.

Write to me at hampoland@gmail.com  and I’ll send you an ep with three songs and a bunch of books of Natural Outlaw matches. Pretty handy, right?

The first song on the EP is Miss Nessa about an adventure with a horny  55 year old cage fighter lady who tried to pick Ryan and Jack up in a dive bar. It’s a true store.

The second song gives me goose bump. “Make You Proud” is the only sweet love  song Jack has ever written. It’s beautiful and he only drops the F Bomb once.

Track three is a gritty  southern anthem that needs to be played  in a massive stadium.   It’s the song that reminds me so much of Skynard and makes me roll my windows up so I can crank it and sing really really loud. I can’t believe my son wrote it.

So Hampoland readers, from East Texas to new England, if you want this prize package let me know and I’ll fix you up. If you like it and want to help me find a music manager or record company or producer….well then I’ll love you forever and give you more matches.

He said, “I Want To Buy Some Pot”…… The Real Nashville

There was a knock on the door.  I was alone, in my son’s cool  little house in a semi-sleazy Nashville neighborhood. It was after mid-night and someone was knocking on the door. Should I answer? What if it was a burglar  Do burglars knock?  The house was full of guitars, speakers, amps and keyboards. The knocking continued.

Peeking out the kitchen window, I studied the strangely preppy looking boy with George Michael hair and a Polo jacket. He stared at the door and knocked again. I was pretty sure I could take him, so I opened the door, wearing a pair of silky pjs with chickens and roosters all over them and a New Orleans Saints jersey.

“Is George here?”

“No, there at band practice. I’m Simon’s mom.”

“I know, I can tell. You’re just like him. I need some pot. Where’s George?” He wanted me to let him in but that wasn’t going to happen.

“They’re at practice. Do you want me to call?”

“Yeah, please. I really need some pot. I’m really jacked up.”

I was stunned. Was the kid an idiot? Who asks a middle age mom in chicken pajamas for pot? Closing the door, I called my son and was surprised when he actually answered. “There’s a guy here who wants George and some pot.”

“What? Who is it?” Simon asked obviously confused and instantly annoyed.

“Who are you?” I yelled at the door.

“Tell George it’s Jake.”

Simon heard our exchange. “Oh my God, what the hell is the matter with him?  Tell him we’re at Studio D.. I’m so sorry, Mom. I’m gonna kick his ass. What an idiot.”  He hung up before I could say anything else.

“Jake, they are at Studio D. But I’m not sure you should interrupt practice. they have a show tomorrow night.”

“I know where that is.  Cool. Goodnight.”  He wandered up the street where a girl was waiting in the car for him.

After closing and locking the door I snuggled back into the blankets on the  sagging couch.

The next morning I woke up around nine.  There were two guys and a girl on the other couches. I could identify their various limbs by the exposed tattoos. One arm had an Arkansas Razorback, that was Simon’s. There was a foot with a lovely floral display, that would be Jessica’s. And there was a hairy shoulder with a pirate ship and jolly roger. I had no idea who that was.  All the bodies were wearing most of  the clothes they had on the night before.

Stepping over guitars, a tray of pot and pipes and play station controllers, I slipped into the kitchen and made coffee.

That was my first night in Nashville with my son and a bunch of brilliant musicians. Seriously, I’m stunned at how good their band, Natural Outlaw, is and how ridiculously talented and bizarre each individual band members is.

I’ve seen the new series Nashville. Maybe it’s an accurate depiction of life for some bands, singers and songwriters. But it seems very shiny and plastic compared to my weekend with various band and musicians in Music City. And a lot less interesting.  If the characters on Nashville were a bowl of soup, they’d be canned chicken noodle and saltine crackers. The members of Natural Outlaw are more like whiskey infused gumbo with a pan of cornbread.

I’ll let you know what happened on day two of my visit pretty soon. It was something.




Terrible Awful Gifts From My Husband

    Last night Alex returned for a crazy fun weekend with our son, Jack, in Nashville. They went to see the Who perform Quadrophenia.

Proudly, Alex said, “look what I got you!”

Then he held up a large black Who concert tee-shirt with tour dates on the back. It was big ugly shirt unless you are a bearded middle aged dude who loves the Who. If you’re that guy it’s the coolest shirt ever.

Alex really did buy it for me but he’s a man, and men typically are not great gift givers. In the past Alex has given me mixing bowls, potato smashers and meat thermometers and lots and lots of lingerie. (By the way he’s a chef.)

Fortunately, I have two daughters with great taste and a son with an amazing memory. They generally help me out and  tell him what I really want. And sometimes he listens.

But the truth is I don’t get upset when Alex gives me another butcher knife or a  set of drill bits. He does lots of things that are more important, he just can’t wrap them up.

Every morning he gets up at 4:30 then re-sets the clock to 6:00 for me. Even when it’s freezing cold and sleeting, he jump-starts my car or changes the tire when I’m stuck….and he never ever bitches or complains. When I have to write a blog because it just won’t wait…he understands. He knows home much I love Muhammad Ali and surprises me with odd Ali stuff sometimes. But the most amazing thing he gives me….well, three nights a week, when I want to work out at Taekwondo for an hour, he understands, encourages me, and actually tries to get things done at the house. All these gifts add to the quality of my life so much more than “the perfect Christmas present”.

So, when I’m sitting next to the tree and open up the set of jumper cables or new cheese grater, I’m gonna give Alex a big hug and say thank you.

He just won’t know what I’m really saying “thank you” for.

The Power Of A Brutal Song

  Sometimes my kids do something so unexpected and extraordinary,  my understanding of the world changes just a little.

Jack has been a musician for years. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad (there was a song called “We Need More Hot Asian Chicks) and sometimes it’s ugly. The first time I went to one of his shows six or eight years a go he came out on stage in a tuxedo and by the end of the first song he’d stripped down to his boxers.

Now my son, who never stopped playing and writing music, is in Nashville.  He has joined forces with some astonishingly good musicians..they are Natural Outlaws.

Six months ago he called me with some lyrics he couldn’t get out of his head. As I drove he read some of them to me. “I just want to make you proud. I hope you hear me I’m singing awful loud. This old moonshine’s got no decency…”

Listening to him, I was kind of lost. I couldn’t figure out where he was going with the song.  All his  other  songs and lyrics had typically revolved around guns, whiskey and women. Pork chops and gravy music, that’s witty and evil and dangerous and makes you want to do double shots and dance with construction workers. Not a good thing for a middle aged mom, but fun. 

Over the next few months he mentioned this particular song in passing. The band was working on it in the studio. Their seemingly possessed drummer Matt, who went to Berkley, and looks and plays like a red-headed Viking,  sounded amazing.  Dan, who has played classical piano since he was five has be “ruint”. He now had some nasty and trashy honky tonk shit working in it the song.

A couple of months ago Jack sent me the rough cut of Make You Proud.  It gave me goose bumps, something that had never happened when I listened to his songs. I was stunned by the beauty and complexity of the entire arrangement.

Ryan is the bands guitarist and his music is generally very physical. It’s “boy rock and roll” verging on country brutality.  And Clark’s bass work changes your heart rhythm. Most Natural Outlaw songs  will land you in prison but this one was different.

This song made me stop and think and feel.I had to listen to it three or four times to understand all the soaring layers. What the hell was going on with those boys?

And the Natural Outlaws have finally given me permission to share it.

It’s the first song on their new webpage. http://www.naturaloutlawmusic.com/

I don’t know what will happen with the Natural Outlaws or this song. But this song does it. This song makes me proud.

Boys, Boobs and Bears

    For three nights I slept in a bear cave.   I went to Nashville to visit my son, Jack, who is 25. ( He and his band,  Natural Outlaws, put on an kick ass show at the Exit Inn.)  Before I got to Nashville, Jack asked if I wanted to get a hotel room or stay at his house? 

“I want to see you guys, I’m staying at the house.”

“Ok,” he said and I could hear the smile in his voice. “I’ll wash my sheets.”

While I was there a handful of guys from the band were in and out of the house, watching football, playing Madden, drinking, playing music, eating and sleeping( among other things) I was reminded of three things I already knew about boys/men living on their own.

You see, guys are actually bears with pants and guitars and we should all stop beating guys up for being…..guys. At twenty five all of these boys have graduated from college, they have jobs, pay their own bills on time and have car insurance. They take care of themselves. But they are not like us. They are bears who do what ever they want to do, when ever they feel like it. They don’t have to answer to anyone, they take care of each other, they are beautiful and powerful, like bears, in their natural habitat. But their rules and lifestyle are completely different from the rest of the world’s.

1. Guys don’t mind sleeping in their clothes and they don’t bathe as much as women…because they really don’t care about being clean or how they smell. Most women are compulsive about being clean. We shower two or three times a day. Guys shower when they have to or when somebody tells them they smell bad.

2.  Guys like looking at and trying to talk to hot semi-slutty looking girls. It’s in their nature.  Several of Jack’s friends ended up sleeping on the couch after a really, really late night. The next morning they explained what they could remember and James a crazy-smart brillant pianist explained  that around 2 am he absolutely had to go to a bar down town that’s something like Coyote Ugly where the girls dance on the bar. He knew it was dumb but he said he just wanted to see those hot dancing women. This boy had no intention of dating, sleeping with or even talking to any of the girls (I’m assuming) . He just liked looking at them and dancing like a fool…cause he’s a guy and it’s fun. Girlfriends and wives need to remember men don’t want to run away with hot girls who dance on bars or strippers. But they really like looking at them.

3. Guys like to fight, for them it’s fun.  I woke up at two in the morning and heard lots and lots of really loud yelling. Because I didn’t hear Jack’s voice I went back to sleep. The next morning two of the guys tried to remember what happened. They  thought they got in a fight over Madden NFL, then, just because they are dudes, they starting fighting. They beat the hell out of each other, then went to the ground, they rolled through three rooms, until one tapped out.

The next morning they were both a mess, sore and bruised but they were laughing.

If two twenty five year old girls had a fight at 2am the next morning their would be an arctic like chill in the air. They wouldn’t laugh or tease each other. They would drink their tea in hostle silence. Maybe after several hours of cold shoulders they would cry and hug but there would be no laughter.

Guys like fighting, it’s fun and they don’t care if they get hurt. Fights aren’t personal, they are recreational.  Women need to understand that.

And finally, guys don’t care if food is healthy, they don’t care if it’s loaded with salt, fat or chemicals. They just want it to taste good. And dudes don’t care if they get fat. Generally, they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, like bears. And they don’t understand why girls obsess over weight, why we can’t stop nibbling and we eat when we are upset. When guys want to lose weight they stop eating and play basketball. Maybe we could learn something from them.

 We need to stop beating dudes up because they act like bears. God made them that way and maybe we can learn something from them.

Jack Stell…No Longer A Meth Head Bitch or Shape Shifter

Big news…children are actually SHAPE SHIFTERS! You think you know who and what they are. Then they turn into something else completely.

My son, Jack Stell, has been a musician for years but he’s changed so radically, from a hippo into a dragon fly, from a spider monkey into a wolverine.

He now writes songs andI cry because they are so good. He’ s learned to craft  songs, funny sweet songs. I can’t get them out of my head. He moved to Nashville recently and has sent me some remarkable work.  I swear.

Yeah, yeah, I’m his mom, but I promise, five or six years ago, when he was jack2thefuture, I would say things like, “that was a hell of a stage show,” after a concert.The way he crawled across the stage on his belly, while howling lyrics, was pretty wild. The first time I went to one of his shows he appeard in a tux and looked insanely handsome then he managed to strip down to his boxers during the first song, on stage! he was nearly naked. Hey, that was entertaining and throngs of tatted up, pierced 21 year old went nuts.

But I never, ever said, “I love those songs.” I loved him and the theatrics, but not the songs.

Things have changed. When I listen to Jack Stell or Jack Stell and the Natural Outlaws I am stunned. He’s so good.

It’s Jack Stell’s heart-breakingly tender songs that take my breath away. There’s a song, “Dance with me Katie Marie.” It’s their last dance, the guy has done something horrible and it will be their last night together. The lyrics and tone are so poignant. I’ve had devastatingly beautiful nights like that, and last dances. I guess we all have and that’s what makes the song so powerful.

Christine” is a lovely and crazy catchy song he wrote to make me happy. It worked. The song follows a forty year love affair to the final days. “Now we’ve been married about 15 years, got us a house and got us some kids, but i love you just the same, as I did that very first day. Christine, my little queen…”

 Fireworks and Tattoos is a witty ballad, about a guy who wakes up from a big drunk and realizes he’s blown up his girlfriend’s double wide. “”And I would apologize,  if you’d just pick up your phone. Sorry I blew up you mobile home.”  It’s funny.

Jack is 24, how the hell does he know about this stuff?

Life Size Pizza was his last rock band, no that’s an understatement. LSP was a face crushing rock and roll band with some country licks thrown in.  The Jesus Song and Meth Head Bitch are Little Rock legends. LSP two cds and the second, No Love is really magnificent boy rock and roll. Too much howling guitar for a middle age white woman but I get it. It’s hedonistic, slippery and dangerous. The guitar work is amazing and I am a big fan of Life Size Pizza. If you need some new, fun and insane rock and roll find them on spotify.

But now my son he has shape shifted again. He is Jack Stell. And I am amazed and proud.

You can find Jack Stell on facebook. Keep up with him now, pretty soon you won’t be able to.

Leave or comment or write to me. hampoland@gmail.com

Jack Goes to Nashville and Crappy Bongs

Jack, who is 24, left for Nashville tonight. He left with his truck, a guitar, two pair of jeans and three white tee-shirts.

Fame and Fortune will meet him at the I-Hop. He is a brilliant, handsome talented guy and he’s headed for Nashville in a truck that just started smelling slightly of burning oil.

Lexie was carrying his guitar and tee shirts. She tripped over a dead piece of carcass Theo, the dog, dragged up.

“It’s a dead rib cage,” Lexie yelled.
“Hey Jack, Theo brought you a carcass. Is it the same one from last week?” Alex yelled.
I hit him in the stomach, “You think she asked for ID? It’s a dead animal,Oh my Lord.” I said.

Jack climbed into his trucks and pushed his hat back.
I yelled, “Please, sing happy songs!” He’s been prone to sad stuff lately.
Jack grinned, “Crappy Bongs?” he teased.
“No I said,  sing happy songs.”
“Nappy Thongs?” he yelled back, still grinning.
Alex pushed me, “He always had a way with words.”
And I slapped him in the belly again.

Jack started his truck and backed out of the driveway. Theo picked up his dead animal and dragged it into the bushes, since Jack didn’t want to take it with him.

Jack is going to Nashville. I love him. I guess this is how stars are born.