Sunday, October 30, 2011

Win a Copy of Tom Waits' "Bad As Me" from Dirty Roots Radio and Anti Records!

For all the funky people who listen to the Dirty Roots Radio program:

I hope you understand by now that when I say I love you, I meant it, gentle listener. And not in any kind of surface/insincere/trophy-wife way that’s based on materialism or ulterior motives. I love you with a deep, souls intertwined kind of love.

Therefore, I hope you will...nay, you owe it to me (wink, wink) to participate in what could be the best contest of all time - potential personal embarrassment be damned...

I have two spankin’ new CD copies of the FANTASTIC new Tom Waits album, “Bad As Me”, courtesy of my good friends at Anti Records.

If you’d like to win one of these, all you have to do is post a video on the Dirty Roots Radio Facebook wall by 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 3rd. What should be on the video, you ask?

I’m looking for your BEST Tom Waits impression! It can be your impression of Tom Waits talking. Or singing. Just be creative.

The two I like the most will be selected and those who posted them will receive a free copy of “Bad As Me”. Winners will be announced on the Dirty Roots Radio Show on Thursday, November 3rd.

To get the ol’ creative juices flowing, a series of videos, performances, interview clips, and photographs follows…

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at



Thursday, October 27, 2011

DIRTY ROOTS RADIO - October 27th Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at

Joe Alford - Wise Mans Eyes
Johnny Cash - Devil's Right Hand
Iggy Pop - Real Wild Child (Wild One)
R.L. Burnside - Shake 'Em On Down
George Baker Selection - Little Green Bag
Joe Alford - The Blues & Pretty Girls
Joe Alford - Kool Till I'm Dead
Jeff Chapman - You Got To Move
Joe Alford - Margarita Mary
MC5 - It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World [live]
JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound - Baaadnews
Treme Brass Band - Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Mike Ness - Dope Fiend Blues
Stealers Wheel - Stuck In the Middle With You
Merle Haggard - I'm Bringing Home Good News
Rolling Stones - Happy
Nina Simone - Ain't Got No/I Got Life
Waylon Jennings - Jole Blon
Black Keys - Lonely Boy
The Cramps - Jungle Hop
The Cramps - Jungle Hop (YES, twice!)
Rick Nelson - Lonesome Town
Rufus Thomas - Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown
T Rex - Jeepster
Scott H. Biram - Born In Jail
Howlin' Wolf - Wang Dang Doodle
Izzy Stradlin & the JuJu Hounds - Shuffle It All

Big thanks to our buddy Joe Alford for coming by to talk about his new album, "The Blues & Pretty Girls. And thanks to Jeff Chapman for coming by to show his support for Joe and his love of local blues music! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK, FELLAS!

Find out more about Joe Alford and how to get a copy of "The Blues & Pretty Girls":



“Lux spent the ride dialing the radio for her favorite song. 'It makes me crazy,' she said. "You know they're playing it somewhere, but you have to find it." - The Virgin Suicides (by Jeffrey Eugenides)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

DIRTY ROOTS RADIO - October 20th Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at

The Nightwatchman – Solidarity Forever
Primus – Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
Tom Waits – Bad As Me
Steve Earle – Oxycontin Blues
Social Distortion – 99 to Life
The Clash – Police On My Back
Screaming Lord Sutch – Great Balls of Fire
Hasil Adkins – Rockin’ Robin
William Elliott Whitmore – Old Devils
Dick Dale – Hava Nagila
Son House – Grinnin’ In Your Face
Those Darlins – Be Your Bro
Johnny Cash – In Your Mind
Hasil Adkins – No More Hot Dogs
Wingless Angels – Rivers of Babylon
Tom Petty – Cabin Down Below
Tom Waits – Back In the Crowd
X – Johnny Hit and Run Pauline
Al Green – Tired of Being Alone
Pastor T.L. Barrett & the Youth For Christ Choir – Like a Ship
T-Model Ford – Bad Man
Johnny “Guitar” Watson – Gangster of Love
Solomon Burke – Cry to Me
Southern Culture On the Skids – Wolverton Mountain
Tom T. Hall – Harper Valley P.T.A.
Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Brooklyn
Bro. Smith + His Stars of Harmony – God Don’t Take No Vacation
Woody Guthrie – Pretty Boy Floyd
Townes Van Zandt – To Live’s To Fly
Scott Dunbar – Easy Rider
Two Gospel Keys – You Got to Move (When the Lord Gets Ready)
The Dictators – Who Will Save Rock And Roll?
Faith No More – Easy
Chuck Berry – Sweet Little Rock & Roller
The Cramps – New Kind of Kick



"Radio allowed people to act with their hearts and minds." - Dick York

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Soon We Forget

It recently came out that GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain said that Jesus was killed by a “liberal court”.

We forget the origins of things a lot, don’t we?

The annual celebration of Columbus Day was held last week. Yes, he discovered the “New World”…but we forget that he wrote in his diary the night he hit land that “These people are very unskilled in arms...with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished.”

We forget that Thomas Jefferson had illegitimate children with his slaves.

We forget that President Jefferson also created a version of the Bible that edited the supernatural aspects of Jesus out of its pages.

We forget that our “Manifest Destiny”, or westward expansion, equaled the genocide of the Native American tribes who had been on this land for thousands of years before we arrived. (Don’t miss the fact that “Manifest Destiny” indicates God’s will that we expand across the continent – at all costs.)

We also, inexplicably, forget that our country was founded following a revolution. An insurgency. An uprising. A violent overthrow of an existing government. Now, when folks gather peacefully to protest actions the government has taken, we label them as treasonous.

From a faith standpoint, we forget that it was the establishment that killed Jesus. Jesus upset the fruit basket and the “system” didn’t like it.

I could go on and on, but this is exactly why Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of this great American experiment (the same flawed human being who participated in the sale and purchase of human flesh…the same brave rebel who dared to publicly share his own unique thoughts on religion…the same brilliant mind who drafted our Declaration of Independence) said that a revolution was necessary every few years. He said that if people didn’t seriously question the government every 20 years, then democracy was no longer working.

Because he knew things became stagnant. He knew people and systems settle over time. And when they do, they become the establishment.

Modern Christians have become Pharisees. The modern American system has become the kind of system the founders of America sought to escape.

We forget where we came from.

There was a reason the establishment killed Jesus. He made them uncomfortable. He pushed people out of their comfort zones. He required that they sacrifice of themselves for no personal gain. He demanded we put the needs and well-being of others ahead of our own. Everything about Jesus ran counter to “established” thinking.

The American founding fathers wanted something new; something different. They didn’t like taxation without representation. They wanted to separate from what they viewed as an oppressive system:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” - Declaration of Independence

Rising up against such a government was their DUTY. Something they were morally obligated to do.

Right now, in this “land of opportunity”, “unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression (with the exception of a brief blip in the early 1980s), corporate profits are at an all-time high, both in absolute dollars and as a share of the economy, wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low, income and wealth inequality in the US economy is near an all-time high, the top earners are capturing a higher share of the national income than they have any time since the 1920s, CEO pay and corporate profits have skyrocketed in the past 20 years, "production worker" pay has risen 4%, and after adjusting for inflation, average earnings haven't increased in 50 years.”

***Credit to THIS ARTICLE for that information***

The last time these things happened in America was in the 1920s…just before the Great Depression. You’d think those at the helm of “the system” would have made a mental note that when these things happen, the people stand up. Unions get formed. People march. People protest.

This nation was supposedly founded by the people and for the people. And when the table gets tilted – and it always will – there will eventually come a point where the people will realize they’ve had enough.

Yet, when the people stand up, the system will say they’re defiling the vision of the founding fathers. They’ll say the people are being unpatriotic. Nowadays, they’ll say they’re socialists.

They’ve forgotten how this American experiment was founded.

Christians have forgotten that they’re supposed to be different.

We forget where we came from. How we started.

Young people rail against the system. They shake things up. Sometimes they even change things. Then they grow up and as the great Mike Ness, of Social Distortion, says; “The day may come when you’ve got something to lose.” And when we have something to lose, we start to play it safe. Then we get comfortable. And at that moment, we become part of the system. Part of the establishment.

We do it politically. We do it spiritually. We do it socially. We do it culturally.

And it’s boring. It’s bland. It’s a sellout of what we once believed – and what I would contend most can still feel burning somewhere deep in their hearts. It’s a limiting of potential.

And it’s wrong.

Remember where and how things start. Stay true to ideals. Stay strong.

Be brave. You may have something to lose, but what an example you’ll set when you’re courageous enough to step out on what you believe to be right.

Imagine the world if more people did that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

DIRTY ROOTS RADIO - October 13th Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at

Scott H. Biram – Just Another River
Scott H. Biram – I Want My Mojo Back
Tom Waits – Filipino Box Spring Hog
The Runaways – Queens of Noise
Elmo Williams & Hezekiah Early – Been Here and Gone
Hank III – Pills I Took
Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street
Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
Social Distortion – Mommy’s Little Monster
Social Distortion – Down Here (With the Rest of Us)
The Clash – Know Your Rights
Paul Simon – Late In the Evening
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – There’s Something Wrong with You
JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound – Sister Ray Charles
Chuck Berry – Reelin’ and Rockin’ (live)
Tom Waits – Make It Rain
Billy Bragg & Wilco – All You Fascists
Leonard Cohen – Anthem
Everlast – I Get By
Morphine – Early To Bed
Willie Mitchell – Soul Finger
Dwight Yoakam – I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
Head Cat – American Beat
Buddy Guy – Look What All You Got
Budos Band – Chicago Falcon
Happy Mondays – Step On
Tennessee Ernie Ford – Shot-Gun Boogie
Tom Waits – Come On Up To the House



"I don't get played on the radio ever. Marcel Marceau gets more airplay than I do." - Tom Waits

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Grand Ole Opry...

As I type this, Rascal Flatts is being inducted as the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry.

Rascal Flatts…the modern country group…purveyors of the “tight acid washed jeans, lavender striped and over-starched button-up shirts, wanna-be badass biker leather wristbands, and frosted spiky hair” look. Peddlers of the whiny voiced twang-less, ball-less style of washed out 1970s corporate cookie cutter arena rock crap that passes for country music these days.

The Grand Ole Opry…the long-standing institution, based on country music tradition. The protector of the legacy and heritage of country music.

The same Grand Ole Opry that banned Johnny Cash for busting out footlights; banned him for LIFE.

The same Grand Ole Opry that banned Hank Williams for chasing women, eating pills, drinkin’, and getting’ wild (have these people ever HEARD a country song?!?!???)

The same Grand Ole Opry who despite banning Hank, have a bronze bust of him in their entry way and who continually make money off his likeness and life’s work.

You know what…never mind…

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Grandpa, Otis

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandpa lately. He passed away about 9 years ago.

Otis was always one of my heroes, for reasons I’ve never really been able to put into words. He was just a solid dude. The epitome of a good man. I never heard him curse; not one single time. Normally I’d say that was a bad thing; a lack of “color”. Everyone else I’ve ever known I’ve heard curse in some way. But not my grandpa. He was consistent. I know he dealt with things in his life that caused him a lot of pain; I see it now that I’m older and understand what was happening in those situations better. But, at the time, he never complained. He was a rock.

The first time I ever really got a good feel for the kind of man he was, I was probably a sophomore or junior in high school. He played guitar as a hobby; nothing serious, just “noodling” around. He loved music and taught himself to play. When I was a sophomore in high school, I expressed my interest in learning to play the guitar and he gave me his. Him not exactly being a “serious musician”, I knew his gift was generous but I guess it didn’t seem that dramatic. Or maybe I was just a stupid 15 year old boy.

I came home from school one day and he was there. I worked a few hours a day at his part-time job, so he was picking me up for work. He wasn’t waiting in his car, though, as he usually was; he was in the house. When I went in, I didn’t see him anywhere. Then I heard music. He was in my room – a place he’d never expressed interest in before, playing the guitar he’d given me several months back. That’s when I realized what he’d sacrificed for me.

I’ve taken some lessons with that guitar over the years and done a little “noodling” of my own, but I really need to learn to play that thing. Honor his gift.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “In the 'old' days, people would invite friends over to listen to records. Imagine that."

That reminded me of a time, shortly before my grandpa went into the hospital for surgery – where he would eventually pass away. My grandma called me on the telephone and told me grandpa wanted me to bring over some of my old country music to listen to together.

Otis and I didn’t have that much in common. He was a tough guy. Very outdoorsy, very handy, very into watching sports on TV. I’m none of that. But as I grew older and developed an interest in roots music, we developed a strong bond over our love of vintage country music.

So I went over that day and took some CDs. I remember listening to some Roy Acuff and an album, new at the time, of modern artists covering Webb Pierce songs. I know there were others, too.

It felt a little awkward. Otis was not at all a warm fuzzy guy. He’d say he loved you, but only if you said it first. And it wasn’t anywhere near “emotional” when he returned the sentiment. So I knew it was a big deal that he asked grandma to call me and have me come over. I was happy to do it, and looking back on it, I treasure that memory.

When he went into the hospital, I felt like I should call him the day before his surgery. I did and we chitchatted awkwardly about nothing, really. After a few minutes I wrapped things up and he said, “I’m glad you called.” He’d never – ever – said anything like that to me before. Sometimes you have those moments that make you uncomfortable and you don’t go through with them. Usually you wish you had gone ahead with it. Once in a while, you do go through with it; and you know you got it right.

The other memory I’ve been thinking about is after grandpa’s surgery. He was in something not unlike a coma – but it wasn’t officially called that. He was in and out of coherence.

Sometimes he’d wake up and talk nonsense, sometimes he just didn’t respond, and sometimes you could talk to him and he’d communicate without talking. He’d move his mouth, squeeze your hand, or nod/shake his head.

On one trip to see him in the hospital in St. Louis, I was riding with my grandma and talking to her about my serious girlfriend (now my wife). I decided on that trip that it was time to go ahead and propose. My grandma and I made plans to visit a jewelry store after we spent some time with grandpa in the hospital.

During our time with grandpa, I mentioned to him that I was planning to ask Amber to marry me and I asked him if he thought that was a good idea. He squeezed my hand, mumbled some things I couldn’t understand, and nodded his head; a definite yes. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was alert enough to know what I was saying to him then. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that grandpa was telling me to ask Amber to marry me.

I did. And, while I would have done it either way, I’m glad I got to talk to my grandpa about it in some way.

In our society, we communicate a lot. We’re bombarded with messages. We talk continually. We update everyone we can on every aspect of our lives, in real time, in 140-character posts.

But Otis was quiet. He didn’t say much. When he did speak, he was to the point. When you hung out with Otis, you didn’t need to talk a lot, usually. You could just sit in his presence and feel good. He spoke when he needed to, but only then.

That’s why, when I was in a bad relationship several years ago and everyone on earth was telling me what I already knew – that I needed to get out of it – and I wasn’t listening to anyone…I DID listen when I heard Otis say, “He needs to get rid of that girl.” I didn’t do it immediately, but his saying that made me stop long enough to really think about it. If Otis opened his mouth and went out on a limb like that, it must have been important.

I remember him telling me once that he had put on weight and had recently taken it off and gotten back to his goal weight. I asked him how he’d done it – another one of those things in our society, right? Every time someone has success in weight loss, they detail the fancy and expensive program they used to do it. Not Otis. His response? “I ate less”.

Humble wisdom. Simple integrity. Unabashed love of family. Quiet strength.

Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing. Always.

I miss you, Otis.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

DIRTY ROOTS RADIO - October 6th Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at

Steve Earle – The Revolution Starts…
Pigeon John – The Bomb
Ry Cooder – No Banker Left Behind
Michael Franti & Spearhead – Yell Fire
Erykah Badu – Amerykahn Promise
Public Enemy – He Got Game
Darondo – Get Up Off Your Butt
Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blues
Social Distortion – Sometimes I Do
Tom Russell – Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall?
Steve Earle – Amerika V6.0 (The Best We Can Do)
The J.B.’s – Pass the Peas
Tex Williams – Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)
Tom Waits – I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
Ray Anthony & His Orchestra – Thunderbird
The Nightwatchman – The Iron Wheel
The Nightwatchman – Solidarity Forever
Monks – Monk Time
Edwin Starr – Stop the War Now
The Misfits – Rat Fink
Ben Harper – Better Way
The Monkees – You Just May Be the One
Tom Waits – Walking Spanish
MC5 – Kick Out the Jams
Duane Eddy – Rebel Rouser
Patti Smith – People Have the Power
Otis Gibbs – The People’s Day
Velvet Underground – Oh! Sweet Nuthin’
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – Androgynous
Urban Dance Squad – Deeper Shade of Soul
Rage Against the Machine – Renegades of Funk



"If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution." - Emma Goldman