Ben Nichols of Lucero is embarking on a quixotic motorcycle trip through the South with a guitar strapped to his back.  While most musicians would take time off to relax between their band’s tour dates, Ben is spending his vacation on two wheels and in front of small crowds of Lucero’s most loyal fans. I, being one of these cult fans for many years, couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see Ben perform solo – even if it was on Easter Sunday in a spooky room called Purgatory at Masquerade in Atlanta.

I stepped onto a back deck outside Masquerade where much of the pre-show crowd congregated to take in the beautiful 70 degree evening under the stars.  Ben chatted with some fans and then briefly with me and HearYa longtime friend, Tim Sweetwood, who handles booking and promotion at Masquerade. I’d seen Ben perform solo only once before at our SxSW 2010 party and he killed it, but this night was different. Away from the hustle of SxSW, he (not surprisingly) seemed more serene. He had a rough draft of a set list in his mind that included most of the songs from his Last Pale Light In The West solo EP, but the majority of the show was driven by requests from the crowd.

In a day where bands are “social” with fans via Facebook and Twitter, but sometimes move through set lists with military-like discipline,  it was refreshing to see a musician and his fans determining the course of the night together, with mutual admiration for one another. And collaborative alcohol consumption. At one point in the night, Ben was handed a tin flask from a fan and he asked “What’s in it?” Before the fan could answer he said, “Fuck it, I’ll drink it.” Such was the night. Ben would perform a crowd favorite, sip (or gulp) bourbon, chase with a coke, and repeat. If he had trouble remembering words to the song requests, he’d get cues from the crowd before starting each verse.

Highlights from the two hour long set were everything from Last Pale Light In The West, Bikeriders, Sixteen, Kiss The Bottle, My Best Girl, Nights Like These, Slow Dancing, and covers of Townes Van Zandt and Joey Kneiser (of Glossary). The Kneiser cover was particularly special. If you haven’t already, download Joey’s solo album for free here. Ben introduced the song by saying that “Bruised Ribs” is a song he wished he’d written and that Joey offered these for free because they were “just some acoustic songs he threw together.” Ben sarcastically said something like “that fucking asshole,” then played the song.

It’s that humble, accessible stage presence that draws me back to every Lucero show. Ben feeds off of the crowd’s energy and strives to deliver a collaborative experience.  He remarked that he was shocked that so many folks came out to see him (the show sold out). It may be time for Nichols to recalibrate his expectations.  He may be underestimating the loyalty and passion of Lucero fans, even on Sunday night religious holidays.

You can get a taste of the night in the (low quality) video I took below.

Joey Kneiser – Bruised Ribs

Live Video: Ben Nichols – Toadvine (live at Masquerade in Atlanta)


Glossary is a go-to band in my music library. They are perfect for driving with your windows down, preferably in a T-top. Believe me, I know. I had me one of them T-tops in high school and had to beat the ladies off with an aluminum Louisville Slugger.

Glossary plays American rock music made memorable by Joey Kneiser’s signature vocals and they just released a video for “Save Your Money For The Weekend” from this year’s album, Feral Fire. You can catch it down below.

But before we get to the video, I’d deserve a ball-punch if I didn’t point out two free album downloads offered by the band. You can grab The Better Angels of Our Nature and also Joey Kneiser’s solo album, The All-Night Bedroom Revival for free at their website.

Joey’s album is one we’ve never discussed on HearYa and it’s a nice, toned down companion to Glossary’s normal fare. It’s also an album I find myself listening to on a regular basis.  I recommend downloading both of those albums asap and, if you dig ’em, buy Feral Fire.

Joey Kneiser – Adelina

Joey Kneiser – Torch Song

Video: Glossary – Save Your Money For The Weekend


Top 50 Albums of 2008 [Picks 31-40]

by oz on December 16, 2008

You may as well just make a playlist out of these picks‚  from our top 50 albums of 2008. Not only are these outstanding albums, but these singles are some of my favorites of the year. Most notable are the tracks posted for The John Henrys, The Heavy, Elliott BROOD, Horse Feathers, and The War On Drugs.

31. The John Henrys – Sweet As The Grain (our review)

The John Henrys

The John Henrys show that country music is still alive and well – it just comes from Canada now.

The John Henrys – Lost In The Canyon

32. Howlin’ Rain – Magnificent Fiend (our review)

Howlin Rain

Grab bong, go to basement, crank up loud. Pretty fucking good, isn’t it?

Howlin Rain – Dancers At The End Of Time

Hear more at our live session with Howlin Rain.

33. The Explorers Club – Freedom Wind (our review)

The Explorers Club

A wonderful approach to The Beach Boys sound. Their acoustic live session moved them up 10 spots. Amazing 5 part vocal harmonies.

The Explorers Club – Do You Love Me?

Hear more at our live session with The Explorers Club.

34. Elliott Brood – Mountain Meadows (our review)

Elliott Brood Mountain Meadows

A rock and roll band playing bluegrass instruments.‚  That’s a recipe for success with HearYa.

Elliott BROOD – Write It All Down For You

35. The Heavy – Great Vengeance and Furious Fire (our review)

The Heavy

The Heavy capture the 70’s spirit like no other. By far the sexiest album on our entire list.

The Heavy – Colleen

36. Horse Feathers – House With No Home (our review)

Horse Feathers

There’s a trend following of whispering vocals over sparse instrumentation in the indie world. Iron and Wine, Great Lake Swimmers, Bon Iver…and now let’s add Horse Feathers to the list. Melancholy Americana at its finest.

Horse Feathers – Curs In The Weeds

37. War On Drugs – Wagonwheel Blues (our review)

War On Drugs

One of those albums that grows on you. Three months ago it wasn’t on this list, but it continues to get better. You’ll hear traces of Wilco throughout.

War On Drugs – Taking The Farm

38. Jessica Lea Mayfield – With Blasphemy So Heartfelt (our review)

Jessica Lea Mayfield

It’s hard to believe that this Kent, Ohio songstress is only 18 years old. Her debut is soulful and sultry – a cross between Mazzy Star, Loretta Lynn and Neko Case.

Jessica Lea Mayfield – Kiss Me Again

39. Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead (our review)

Helio Sequence

The Helio Sequence takes you on a meandering daydream of folk-inspired pop tunes. The perfect background music for a quiet Saturday morning, or a windows-down drive through the city on a sunny day.

The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead

40. Glossary – The Better Angels of Our Nature (our review)


This alt-country outfit out of Tennessee have put out five great albums and continue to fly under the radar. The Better Angels of Our Nature is still available for free on their website. You should download it if you haven’t already.

Glossary – Little Caney