Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The True Brothers- Early and Rare Vol. 1 & 2
I've lived in the same area of North Carolina for almost 36 years, and very soon I'll finally be living somewhere else (Baltimore). There are many things about this town that I can't wait to get away from, and of course there are others I will miss…but Greensboro has changed so much in 17 years, and not for the best (at least as far as I am concerned).
Anyone from Greensboro who makes a name for themselves, music-wise, either moves away or tours a lot and lives here in obscurity (best example: Eugene Chadbourne), or lucks out when time catches up…like what happened with an old local favorite of mine (who completely deserve it), Ashrae Fax (their last recording, 2003's "Static Crash," is probably still available on vinyl from Mexican Summer for y'all fans of avant-electro-pop…they're recording a new album, too). Other old friends have found success in Red Fang. Plus Cat Power, Vetiver, and one of Teagan & Sara are from here …Emmylou Harris briefly lived here and it's rumored that Townes Van Zandt's, "Greensboro Woman" is named after her. Add Billy Crash Craddock and the drummer from Pentagram who died here and what do you have?..
...The blank, confusing, ever-changing mess of Greensboro.
As always, most bands just fall through the cracks and many people I know have never been to a True Brothers show. Granted these recordings are from the early 90's, and I wasn't familiar with them until the late 90's, but when they made the change to "outlaw" country (kinda like Toby Keith…even though they still sang some good songs here and there) a couple of years ago it just wasn't a change for the better.
In their day, when they dressed up in full embroidered/sequined/tassel laden country star get-up, while playing beautiful guitars in custom leather casings (and if there were even strings on them, they were never in anything resembling any kind of tuning...they were just props) singing a country music hit parade of yesteryear along with karaoke accompaniment. Full showmanship. When they played in dive bars and punk-houses between indie, punk, hardcore, etc. acts…they always got a great reaction from the beer swilling audience. Many people long to see stuff like this in the South, but when they're faced with it there's a very clear dividing line in the audience.
Anything that squashes indifference is automatically art.
Many of these songs are covers, but there are several True Brothers originals (#9, 12, 15, 17-21).
They're really nice guys, but they'll talk your ear off. Their house looks like a rustic country home, but it's in a very nice yet busy neighborhood divided between college kids and upper-middle class white liberals. Their holiday decorations, no matter what the holiday, are always worth a gander. Before their Fathers' passing, every Christmas he would sit in front of their garishly decorated shack dressed as Santa, ready to pose for pictures.
Those old (late 90's, early 00's) True Brothers shows were always so much fun and always provided a wonderful alternative to punk/indie/etc. which we could see anytime. It rare to see so many scenesters lighten up so much...
People tend to give the South a bad name, and rednecks are always given WAY too bad of a name. OK, some live up to the negative stereotypes but most of them have way more common sense and a far better sense of humor than almost everyone else you'll meet, especially cool/hip/scene people. Many will joke about what they, and others, think is their lack of intelligence…common sense is the most valuable intelligence, in my opinion. I'm not sure if I could ever live above the Mason/ Dixon Line.
Pop open a few beers and cast expectations aside…taking yourself seriously is rarely enjoyable for anyone. Country music is so down to Earth that pompous pedants won't be anywhere near it, therefore keeping things simple and enjoyable for everyone.