Call for Book Reviewers and Bloggers

Music
cover art

Bryan and the Haggards

Still Alive and Kickin' Down the Walls

(Hot Cup; US: 15 Nov 2011; UK: 15 Nov 2011)

Weird American Music

When people think of country and jazz, they frequently consider the work of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Bryan and the Haggards perform the signature song of the Western swing band, “San Antonio Rose”, but the new band does things with it the older performers would. Bryan Murphy and company sound like they are drunkenly scatting the sounds of the instruments one minute and then play it straight the next, before launching into distorted music that could have come directly from Saturn (or at least Sun Ra).


They also perform six Merle Haggard originals and one of his more famous covers, Wynn Stewart’s bittersweet “Sing a Sad Song” and take the music to unexpected places. (It should be noted that Haggard also covered “San Antonio Rose”). This is free jazz with a sense of humor—think Frank Zappa in Bakersfield, where noises make squalls one minute and turn into a children’s melody the next. Bryan and his quartet use a piccolo and penny whistle, banjo, bass, drums and guitar—but mostly saxophones and a sense of creativity to emotively play with avant-garde aplomb. They put the country back in jazz;  that old weird American music that shares the same radical traditions.

Rating:

Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


Media
Bryan and the Haggards - Twinkle, Twinkle
Related Articles
18 Jul 2010
Pretend It’s the End of the World is Bryan and the Haggards' wild and woolly approach to the music of Merle.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
Win a 15-CD Pack of Brazilian Music CDs from Six Degrees Records! in PopMatters Contests on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.