Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 25, 2013 Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) at


Willie Nelson – Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
The Supersuckers w/Willie Nelson – Bloody Mary Morning
Andre Williams & the A-Bones – The Way You Dog Me Around
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Stone Free
Tom Jones – Burning Hell
T-Model Ford – T-Model Theme Song
T-Model Ford – Ask Her for Water
T-Model Ford – Let the Church Roll On
T-Model Ford – She Asked Me So I Told Her
ZZ Ward – 365 Days (Radio Edit)
Screamin’ RebelAngels – Out of This World
Tom Waits – Jockey Full of Bourbon
Iggy Pop – Sweet Betsy from Pike
Lucinda Williams – Everything But the Truth
Tim Timebomb – Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay
George Jones w/Keith Richards – Burn Your Playhouse Down
Waylon Jennings – White Room
Muddy Waters – Let’s Spend the Night Together
The Hooten Hallers – She Used to Love My Music
Shooter Jennings – The Real Me
Shooter Jennings – 4th of July
The Replacements – Lost Highway
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I Shot the Sheriff
Nina Simone – To Love Somebody
Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros – Junco Partner
Social Distortion – Winners and Losers
Jason & the Scorchers – Shop It Around
R.L. Burnside – Got Messed Up
Steve Earle – I Ain’t Ever Satisfied
Motorhead – Ace of Spades (acoustic)
T-Model Ford – To the Left, To the Right
T-Model Ford w/GravelRoad – Red Dress

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Someone Like T-Model Ford... (A Tribute)

I was heartbroken today to hear the news of T-Model Ford’s passing.  T-Model was a frequent guest on my Dirty Roots Radio Show and I’m very honored and proud to have been able to get to know him over the last few years.

When I tell people about T-Model Ford I always simply say, “You don’t know anyone like T-Model Ford.”  They simply don’t exist.  People often said he was the last of his kind.  I say he was one of a kind.

T-Model started life as James Lewis Carter Ford, born into extreme poverty and violent surroundings.  When he was a little boy, his father beat him so badly that on one occasion, his scrotum split and he lost a testicle – a fact he pointed out to me often when he bragged about his prowess in fathering children.  He told me that he has 26 children that he knows of and has lost count of his grandchildren.

T-Model was stabbed in a tavern once and killed the man in self-defense.  He served time both in the penitentiary and on the chain gang.  He still had scars on his ankles from the shackles.  He was asked once how many times he’d been in jail…he simply said, “Every weekend there for a while.”

T-Model has been married six times.  He kept his most recent wife, Stella, at arm’s distance as long as he could.  During one of our meetings he said she’d recently tricked him into a trip to the courthouse where she informed him they were getting married.  I never met Stella, but know several folks who have and they say she gave as good as she got and could keep right up with ol’ T.

One of his wives had bought him an electric guitar and amp as a gift.  He didn’t play and considered the gift a waste of precious money.  At the age of 54 that wife left him and after he literally watched her drive off into the sunset, he went back into his house, saw the guitar sitting in the corner, and said, “I’m gonna learn me to play that muthee-fucka.”  (his words)

He insists he didn’t hear much music growing up, but remembered one Howlin’ Wolf song and one Muddy Waters song that he’d heard many years before.  He taught himself to play guitar (at age 54!!) and created a style all his own.  Anytime I asked him about playing, he always pointed out how soft his hands were.  Most guitar players form callouses on their fingertips, but T’s hands were – again, his words – as soft as doctor’s cotton.  We watched a lot of his opening acts together and anytime one of them did something flashy with the guitar, he’d just look at me and say, “I ain’t scared of ‘em.”

No one knows for sure how old T-Model Ford was.  A poor black man born in the time and place he was – the hill country of Mississippi in the early 20th century – didn’t have much use for a birth certificate.  In the news since his passing I’ve heard everything from 89 to 94.  The 94 figure is closer to what he’s told me a few times.  He never went to school, never learned to read or write.  He worked hard labor jobs most of his life.  A tree fell on him during a logging job and messed up his hip.  He’s been shot, stabbed, and poisoned.

He had heart issues in his 80s (at our first meeting he opened his shirt and made me feel his pacemaker) and a stroke in his late 80s (or so…again, depending on where you stand on the age debate).  He had a series of health problems in his last couple of years, including more strokes.

Everything I’ve just detailed is more or less consistent with “official” reports on T-Model’s life, but I’ll stick with what I shared above, because it came from T-Model himself.  The stories may have changed slightly from one telling to the other…but it’s his story.

I have so many memories of the times I spent with T.  The first time I met him, a buddy and I presented him with a whiskey flask we’d had engraved with “Bad Man” – one of his album titles.  It was a joy watching him realize that the writing (which he couldn’t actually read) on the flask matched one of his CDs.  In that same meeting he practically wrestled me to the ground, insisting that I share his chicken dinner with him.  His band had brought in take-out food for him and he asked if I’d eaten.  I told him I hadn’t, but that I would later.  I couldn’t imagine taking food off of T-Model Ford’s plate.  But he wasn’t having it.  So we shared a plate of chicken fingers and fries.

I was pretty scared going into that first interview.  I’d only seen promotional material and footage of a slightly-younger, still pretty bad-ass T-Model Ford, and I’d heard he was quite a handful.  I didn’t know what to expect.  But the years between my discovery of his music and our first meeting had gentled him down quite a bit.  You often hear people say something to the effect that T-Model Ford is a teddy bear…he’s a teddy bear that will cut you…but he’s a teddy bear.

The next time I saw T, he was still recovering from a stroke, and he wasn’t back to 100% yet.  The interview didn’t go very well.  He’d start telling one story and finish it with the ending of another story.  He didn’t sing as much during his performance that night and he told me that his hands weren’t responding the way he wanted them to.

But the last time I met T, he was back.  His health was on the rebound and he put on a great show.  Sure, he repeated songs several times and yes, he was a little slower than he used to be.  But he was there.  And he wasn’t just phoning it in.  He gave it all he had.

When I’d sit with T in a club, every time a woman would walk in, he’d tap my knee under the table and slightly nod with this head.  It was very junior high…but man it was fun.

That last time we talked, I helped him to the stage when the time came.  His drummer and caretaker-on-the-road, Marty, asked me if I’d hold Black Mattie while he situated T comfortably in front of the microphone.  Before I had time to think, I reached out my hand and Marty put the neck of Black Mattie – T-Model Ford’s guitar in it.  I stood there on the stage holding Black Mattie while Marty got T ready and thought about the music that instrument had made and the stories she could probably tell.

When that night was over I knew I may not see T-Model Ford again.  You know that little voice in your head that tells you when something special is happening and urges you to commemorate it appropriately?  Sometimes we don’t listen to that voice and we regret it.  That night I heard that voice and I asked T if I could give him a hug. I wasn’t sure how he’d respond.  He didn’t say a word, he just laid his head on my shoulder.  I’m glad I did.

That’s the image I have of T-Model Ford tonight.  My friend.  I definitely didn’t know him as well as a lot of folks did.  We have mutual friends, some of whom might be reading this right now, and they definitely had deeper and more profound relationships.  I don’t want to put myself on par with them when it comes to remembering T.  And I don’t want to sound pretentious.  But T-Model remembered who I was each time I met up with him.  We had fun talking.  He always saved my seat when we were in the club together waiting for show time.  Getting to know him was and is a big, big deal to me.

He was a good man.  But he was also a bad man.  In some ways I mean a bad man as in a bad ass.  In the cool way, you know?  But, in a whole lot of ways he wasn’t always the nicest of people.  As cool as his story is from the outside, there’s the whole thing of being in prison, being married so many times, and all that.  I’m not slighting him, but T – especially in his early days – was a mean, ornery cuss.

A bad man.

For better or for worse, definitely a one of a kind.

Born into the worst of situations, he lived through the worst of situations.  He was handed one issue after another his entire life.  And he just kept on going.

And he kept on smiling.

He kept making others smile.

That’s one of the greatest things you can say about anyone.  He brought us joy.

He lived a long life.  And I’m glad his suffering is over, but my heart is broken.

I want to send out special credit and thanks to Marty Reinsel, drummer for GravelRoad, who toured with T-Model on and off over the past few years and took care of him, and to Jeff Konkel, of Broke & Hungry Records, who worked with T-Model a lot over the past few years for several different projects.  I appreciate both of these guys in a personal sense (each helped me facilitate meetings/interviews/etc. with T at some point) and in the bigger-picture sense (for playing huge parts in getting T-Model’s music and story out there).  I’m proud to know both those fellas, too.

I’m off now to share tons of video clips of T-Model Ford on the DirtyRoots Radio Facebook page.  And I’ll pay tribute to him on the show this Thursday night.  I’m not sure yet if I’ll share a handful of tunes, or if we’ll play T-Model all night.

That may sound overkill, but it needs to happen.  It needs to happen so that someone out there might found out about T.  People need to know that a man like this existed.  You don’t know anyone like T-Model Ford.  There just aren’t any in this corporatized, bland-o, cookie cutter world we live in.

I’m so glad I got to know someone like T-Model Ford. 

Rest in peace, T.  It’s Jack Daniel time!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Listener-Submitted Drug Song Playlist

If you've had an eye here or on the Dirty Roots Radio Facebook page at all recently you've probably caught on to the fact that I was recently diagnosed with a kidney stone.  After white-knuckling my way through excruciating pain for about a week, I finally went to the Emergency Room last weekend.  I hadn't been there since I was probably 8 or 9 and I'd never in my life been given any sort of narcotic painkiller.

But thank the gods for them!!!  They gave me all the kidney stone info, doped me up, wrote me some prescriptions, and I walked away...or more accurately WOBBLED away...with a newfound appreciation for drugs.

I'm off the painkillers now...I'm told the worst of the stone-passing process is over...but I still thought it would be fun to assemble a listener-submitted playlist of everyone's favorite drug songs.

So, here are your favorite songs in praise of, or cautioning against, drugs.  This is actually a pretty interesting list...we've got the country amphetamine tweakers...the hippie stoners...the pill poppers...the acid heads...those who use and chill...those who climb the walls...those who get way out there...a little something for everyone.  Dig in and maybe learn something new.  Lotta great stuff here.

My submissions...

Allen from Chicago…

Douglas from Detroit…

Lefty from Ohio…

JB from Virginia…

John from Illinois…

John from ???...

Jacob from Illinois…

Melissa from Ohio…

Joe from California…

Mark from Illinois…

I don't know this one...but Imma tag it with a NSFW for safety ;-)

Jerry from Kansas…

Tom from Wisconsin…

Victoria from Colorado…

Yep...the whole thing...all of 'em...

Dave from Iowa…


Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) at

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Listener-Submitted July 4th Playlist

On the morning of July 4th, I asked Dirty Roots Radio listeners to share their ideas for a listener-submitted Independence Day playlist.  Unfortunately, the next day, I was in the Emergency Room being diagnosed with a kidney stone.  This post isn't about me, or the stone...I'm just trying to make a pitiful excuse for why I waited so long to finally share what was contributed.  It's been a long week...

I friggin' love the Fourth of July.  It's grown to be one of my very favorite "holidays" - Halloween being the other.  I'm not a flag-waver by any means.  And my love of the 4th of July isn't born of patriotism...not in an "immediate" sense anyway.

I love the heat.  Not usually, mind you...I usually hate heat.  But I love the grit, grime, sweat, and dirt of the Fourth of July.  My family all gathers together, we swim, the kids play, we BBQ, we eat, we drink beer, we play, we all bring our dogs and they play...and then, at the end of the day, when the sun finally goes down and everyone is sunburned and caked in dirt and the kids have dried, gooey watermelon juice all down their necks and we're all beat and look like absolute hell....then we light off all the legal explosives we can get our hands on.  To paraphrase what one online pal said about it, it's just an awesome feeling of being alive.  And I guess that's connected to the whole freedom thing.

(Side note...we do all this at my dad's house every year.  They have a fireworks stand a few blocks away from where he lives.  We hit that on the afternoon of the 4th every year to stock up.  This year, we went into the tent - which has about 100 signs all saying "No use of fireworks within 300 feet of tent" and noticed a crowd at one end.  There was a huge group of guys all drinking beer and lighting off BIG - seriously, major - fireworks - about 10 feet from the tent.  I looked over to my side and a sheriff's deputy was standing there...observing...taking it all in with a big ol' smile on his face.  God bless 'Merica.)

I asked listeners for their favorite patriotic songs...favorite protest songs...favorite pro/anti/whatever-have-you kind of song that would fit well with the whole 4th of July theme.  That's kind of what the whole "being free" thing is about, right? it finally is.  Thanks to everyone who made suggestions!!!  (And sorry for my delay in sharing it.)

Here's a couple of my suggestions.  I was gonna share some of the others that were submitted by listeners, too...but when there are duplicates...the credit goes to the listener, not the host.

To start it all off...Yeah, some listeners did submit this one, too...but this one's beyond credit for either one of's gotta start things off.  

I read something once by some music critic/writer (Greil Marcus, maybe?) who thought this was the ultimate protest song of all time.  I tend to agree.  Doing it this way kind of acknowledges the importance and significance of America, but at the same time it's rough and raw and kinda nasty...kinda like America can be, for better or for worse.  And, yeah, it's maybe even a little disrespectful, thereby pointing out the issues Jimi and the rest of us can have with America...

Bassamp & Dano is a St. Louis based duo I love...and I couldn't not share this one, based on the occasion...

And a couple from Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings...

Ladies and gentlemen...a word from Our Founder (Johnny Cash)...

How about one from Our Patron Saint (Joe Strummer) and The Clash...

And now from the listeners...

JB from Virginia...

Harley from Kentucky...

Tom from Wisconsin...

Melissa from Ohio...

Paula from Massachusetts...

Pete from ????...

Maureen from New York...

King Rhino from New Jersey...

Victoria from Colorado... (Victoria and her husband submitted a WHOLE lotta great ones...some so good I couldn't even find them on YouTube at all!  Here's what I could get, though!)

(This one NSFW...)

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) at