When I’m sitting at the bar after a crap day and it seems like the next four days aren’t going to get any better, there’s nothing like a good country song to pick me up, get me thinking straight, and remind me that there are many days like these and many people in the same situation, if not much worse; so, there’s no use whining or worrying.
And, when I say a good country song, I don’t mean mainstream country radio pop. I’m talking country blues with a rough edge and lyrics written on a grimy bar napkin after shot number ten, just before the blackout sets in (depending on your tolerance…) – that faint moment when the haze clears and the brief mirage of an epiphany wafts through the space of your mind. Now that’s the good stuff.
Hayes Carll writes those songs. Hailing from Austin, Texas, his drawl and rough, raspy voice is reminiscent of Steve Earle’s. Carll is well-read, witty, and wise. His songs cover the same general content as any other country tune, but where most of his contemporaries try to hook you with a catchy chorus and melody, Carll invites you to listen closely to his barroom sermons, and learn.
Carll is a throwback to an era of country music lost to time, and in that regard, delves deep into his roots – both Southern and European. In a search of his ancestors, he discovered a long lost cousin in Ireland, who had taken up the hobby of seeking out the Carll family history. It was learned that a past Carll, a monk in the 17th century, also moonlighted as a musician, with several cohorts, singing songs under the stars by a burning fire far from the disapproving eyes and ears of their fellow men of the cloth.
Their chosen name: The Drunken Poets. Those bored (and likely inebriated) men became a blueprint for generations of singers and songwriters who would pass down their tales and trials verbally through song – a mere pastime for them, but, a humble act of historic preservation all the same.
When listening to Hayes Carll, one gets the same impression – he’s but a messenger, bringing the stories of this life and lives past to anyone who might listen closely, and learn. He carries onward the mantle and legacy of his ancestor, the original Drunken Poet. And, I’d say he’s done his family name proud.
If you want to hear some real, Texas country music from a truly skilled lyricist and singer, then this is a must see show. Tickets are on sale at www.ramsheadonstage.com and the show starts at 8:00 p.m. this Wednesday, May 14th. Doors at 7:00 p.m. Opening up for Hayes will be Roots-inspired singer-songerwriter Caroline Rose.
Check out Carll’s video for “Chances Are,” below:
– Matt Ellis