Top Ten Fly Fishing Music Countdown – Final Five

| January 2, 2011

There are five strong discs left in a year that overall was not so strong. However, there are five that crossed the finish line with a two second lead in a 100-yard dash. They have a range of sound unprecedented in the history of Texas Fly Caster music countdowns. This may end up being the most dynamic top five ever.

Number 5
John Mellencamp – No Better Than This

John Mellencamp has been on the road with Bob Dylan for some time, and there seems to be some Dylan rubbing off on Mellencamp. I was less than enthusiastic until I saw Mellencamp do one of his songs on the David Letterman show. It was as honest and down to earth as it gets. The charm doesn’t wear off on the CD either. Recorded in two track, stripped to the bone and a divining rod of a golden age – Sun Records, Carl Perkins, Hank Williams – “No Better Than This” re-establishes that edge we all know Mellencamp has, but hadn’t been sharpened in years. Step away from the technology, and multi-tracking John, and stay away. Very good stuff.

Number 4
Los Lobos – Tin Can Trust

Now that the countdown is in the rare air of the top five, I have to admit that Los Lobos could have been a couple of spots higher if it were not for new artists at the top. After all Los Lobos have been together for most of three decades. In those three decades, they have continued to grow and master their sound, their musicianship, and go off in a variety of directions without losing sound or direction. This is a great CD and the MexiLA sound they are so well known for is perfect – the absolute peak in their sound. It crosses ethnic lines seamlessly, and I hope my South Texas (border) readers so far removed from good radio, will give this one a listen – because it reminds me of home quite a bit.

Number 3
Black Keys – Brothers

The Black Keys are as gritty and polished as any band out there. Their sound is incredibly large, but about the time you are lulled into easy listening, they hit you over the head with a tune like “Howlin’ For You.” Long on talent, and long on sound, the Black Keys “Brothers” probably could have been a number one in other years. Number three this year, is so much more meaningful than in years past. Pick any tune, and it’s probably already playing on someone’s fly fishing video. The instrumental “Black Mud” is already on one of the Colorado videos from this past summer and contrasts nicely. The Black Keys have yet to have a weak release, and I still wonder if blues fans are listening because they have proven themselves to be the expanders of the definition of “Blues” along with musicians like Jack White. That blues door may not be as open to these guys as it should be.

Number 2
JJ Grey & Mofro – Georgia Warhorse

Wow! This is what fly fishing music should be. There’s tons of variety, enough to keep this CD fresh time after time. There’s something for everyone here, and the title tune “Georgia Warhorse” is the definition of Fly Fishing Culture on the Skids. This is great music, and if you are about to take a road trip (or a few), add this one to your Fly Tripping Collection. “Georgia Warhorse” defies any one category, so sample it on iTunes first, and tell me I’m wrong.

Number 1
Shinyribs – Well After Awhile

Don’t many of us hope we will be “Well After Awhile?” When an anemic economy has made so many of us feel “unwell” for so long now, Kevin Russell (aka. Shinyribs) has come along to give us a collection of sing-along songs that are as infectious as any flu strain. Finally some music that takes us away, literally to the moon, and does so with childlike storytelling that can appeal to any age. I think Russell may be getting ideas from his “younguns” because there is a thread of innocence in some tunes that can be pulled to unravel some spectacular lyrics. The sound is Beaumont, Texas – Louisiana (think redfish) border – shrimper’s bar – low down twangy – cajun hillbilly. If you can’t handle a twang or don’t like The Gourds, heaven help you, but maybe Russell’s lyrics will still save you.

New Music for 2011
Along with everything else, music has to be better in 2011 than it was in 2010. It’s definitely getting off to a good start with a solo effort by Gregg Allman coming out this month. U2 has big buzz for their new release as well, so after the big dogs took a year off, it appears they are getting back into the hunt this year.

As you finish reading the Top Ten Fly Fishing Countdown for 2010, I hope you are well, and if you aren’t maybe some of the music will make us all “Well After Awhile,” and just maybe 2011 will be better that 2010 in one way or another for you and me.

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Music

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