A long overdue post about an incredibly groovy Southern boogie'n' soul cut. Thomas Jefferson Kaye wrote for many (Gene Clark, Loudon Wainwright III, Link Wray) and Steely Dan themselves had a direct hand (production and guest appearances) in the brilliance that are the two LP gems he cut for Dunhill in the early 70s. Seeped in what can only be described as gospel blues with a heep of funk. Dr John, Delaney and Bramlett ... along those lines. Check this one out. We've had it on the decks since we got it. Happy early spring!
In 1970, Little Richard, very arguably one of the kings of rock'n'roll, released a fantastic album. The critics loved "Rill Thing" -- the fans had moved on, to a degree. Shame, shame, shame. Memphis horns, Muscle Shoals swamp groove, country twang, soul, grit and POWER. It's all here. We're kicking off New Year's Eve and welcoming 2013 with a boogie'n'soul stomper from a creative genius. Get into it!
David Allan Coe is misunderstood by many; though his shifting musical personas are partially liable. At the every least, he's much more complex, talented and deep than one hit and a brilliant cover would suggest. Many write about a life of hardship, turmoil and resilience. So to speak, he's the real deal. His work is life's ups and downs, sin and piety, life really lived, good AND evil. Here's a killer cut from 1974 about rising when the blows bring you down.
This year, we will be ringing in the New Year with our brothers-in-arms, Three Floyds! There will be a full tap takeover, with some perennial favorites (Gumball Head, etc) as well as some rare beers from their vaults (barrel aged Black Sun Stout, Rye Da Tiger, etc). Expect amazing food specials from our kitchen, cocktail & shot special, and the most kick-assingest soundtrack you've ever heard. Free to get in, as always at Big Star. We hope you come party with us. High-five.
The weather is getting mighty chilly here in Chicago. You'd think uptempo classic rockers would keep at bay the winter blues. But on colder days, the warmth of pedal steel, a delicate harmonica line and a hook-laden beat with a lazy shuffle ... that warms the bones. Texan cowboy B.W. Stevenson died in 1988 at the age of 38, with a VERY well-known hit under his belt, but much, much more that went under-appreciated. Up on deck today are two delicious slices of B.W's countrified Americana.
Off the self-titled LP from 1972:
And two years later, the hit that reached the world but sadly missed the country charts:
Remember this? When we turned the patio into a Christmas tree lot last year? Well it's coming once again. Starting the day after Thanksgiving and going until December 23rd, we're partnering up with City Tree Delivery, a sustainable / eco-friendly supplier of Christmas trees who deliver, pick-up and will eventually recycle all trees. Stay tuned for more details!
It's not always the front and center stars that make a record amazing and transcendent. Sometimes, it's the sideman. Austin, TX, journeyman Marc Benno's guitar contributions to the Doors "LA Woman," several colabs with Leon Russell and other major artists, are subtle. But once you focus on his licks and buttery tenor, it's apparent certain songs wouldn't be the same without him. From the late 60s on, he cut several personal and beautiful roots rock masterpieces. And because everyone played on each other’s records back then, like much of the LA country rock output at the time, these albums feature a large ensemble of big talent. Enjoy the down low, slinky blues rock vibe of this cut, off 1972’s “Minnows.”
Countless bands worked the Southern California country-rock and rootsy folk circles in the mid to late 60s--many were prodigious in musical ability, but few were able to reach a wider audience. They had a love for traditional country music and history, but strove to work outside what at the time seemed like fairly rigid rules in contemporary country circles. Many groups worked around killer vocal harmonies. But Swampwater's were seriously soaring. They eventually became Linda Ronstadt's backing band, and key members went on to play with The Flying Burrito Brothers, etc. there are two Swampwater LPs, and they are killer--impassioned and lyrically grounded in Louisiana culture.
A few times a year, a group of us heads down to Kentucky to check out the history and production methods of America's finest spirit. (We occasionally drink some of it, too. In moderation). It's always a great time, the distilleries we work with are more than hospitable to us, and we love Lousiville more each time we go down. Here are a few shots of our most recent trip.
The Weller line are some of our favorite wheated whiskies. And if you've been to the bar on Thursdays and gotten a shot special, you have ingested some of the fantastic Weller Special Reserve.
An experimental pot / column hybrid still at the Bufflao Trace Distillery. We could explain what all these things do, but that would require a lot of science. Just marvel at how cool that thing is.
Speaking of cool stills, check out Willett's patented pot still! Only one like it in existence. And for fans of the Willett Pot Still Bourbon, you'll recognize that they modeled the distinctive bottle shape after this lil' guy.
Sampling bourbon straight out of the barrel. When we do our barrel selections, the stick a whiskey thief (essentially a giant copper straw) straight into the barrel, pull a little out, bits of char and all, and put it straight into tasting glasses. Safe to say that this is the best part of our day.
Ever wondered what an abandoned distillery looks like? This was the Old Taylor Distillery, founded by EH Taylor, one of the most important figures in the hisotry of bourbon. It's technically illegal to go on the grounds.....so we of course OBEYED THE LAW AND STAYED OUT. (But sources tell us that the broekn down beauty and magnitude of this place is unbelieveable).
Hoyt Axton is an incredibly influential songwriter, who in his artistry from 1963 onward managed to seemlessly blend blues, country, folk etc. Remember that first time you heard Steppenwolf's "Pusher," and thought ... "damn, this is so killer." Well, it was Hoyt. From Three Dog Night to Waylon Jennings -- they all paid interpretive respect. Allmusic.com puts it best: "his gravelly baritone and wry, earthy songs projected an uncommon wit, warmth, and optimism, yielding a consistently engaging body of work extending across four decades." Joy To The World features a slew of oft-covered freak flag rock and Americana classics. Here's a highlight. Seek this out, ya'll. It's super good.
Put simply: music matters a great deal at Big Star. Our record player crapped out once, and we just about died. We've been stockpiling stacks of badass country, blues and roots rock, and we always dig for rare cuts and lesser heard classics. We want to start sharing those with you. The cuts here are referenced from vinyl we play at work, and if you like what you hear, we hope you treasure-hunt and find a copy! "Smokies" is a cut off Barefoot Jerry's 1971 album, Southern Delight. Everyone in Barefoot Jerry cut their studio and live teeth in a number of legendary Southern rock and country sessions, far too numerous to list here. Leader Wayne Moss's musical legacy (Blonde on Blonde!) is enough to teach a class on. Gorgeous country harmonies, a swinging boogie vibe and subtle hippie imagery. Perfect. This is not a hard find, and the whole record smokes.
Folks, don't forget about The Dust-Up tomorrow! Free to get in, come buy records from the some of the city's most esteemed record labels, knock a few cold beers back, and watch some of our favorite bands play. Check out Time Out Chicago's preview here.
Hello folks, just a quick note: we are going to be closed Tuesday September 4th in order to throw our employees an appreciation party for all the hard work they do for us. We are sorry for any inconvenience, and we'll re-open for normal business hours on Wednesday at 11:30am. See you then.
We are super happy to announce the first installment of our annual concert series, The Dust Up, held in our parking lot on September 8th.
We’ll be doing this show at the end of every summer, a send-off to the season and a celebration of music and beer. We’ve teamed up with legendary Chicago music venue The Metro, and our most popular Mexican lager, Tecate, and we’re showcasing a slew of some of our favorite local bands this year.
Performing live this year are Disappears, Andre Williams, Old Baby, Quarter Mile Thunder and the Jeff Walroth Band. Plus, starting at noon, we’ll have a record fair with record from Bloodshot, the Numero Group, Kranky and more.
Beer & live DJs all day until the live music starts at 4. Keep it tuned here for more info, music / videos from the bands and more.
Big Star is tapping Stone’s “Enjoy By 09.21.12” IPA."
To say we’re lucky to have this beer is an understatement. It’s only available in three states and for a month only!
Stone already puts out beers with shorter shelf life, to push the freshness and character of malt flavor and hops. This is their upped commitment to how amazing fresh beer can taste. This beer was packaged fast and sent out even faster, to reach only Southern California, Chicago and New Jersey. If it does well, ideally they’ll make more and we can revel in its taste past September — it’s a double IPA, so ome prepared for a hop wallop and a high alcohol count! See you Thursday.
So check this out: one of our managers had his car broken into last night and among all the inexpensive things that these creeps stole was a bag of records which, in all likelihood, went into the trash. One of the records was by Jamul, a virtual unknown band of immense long-haired badassery. Never the one to let bad situations get him down, our manager soldiered on and is on his way back to collecting the missing pieces in his collection. In that spirit, the kicker off Jamul’s album, Ramblin’ Man, a dusty roadhouse blues-rock anthem if we ever heard one.
Today would’ve been the 85th birthday of Charlie Louvin, one half of the gospel-country legends the Louvin Brothers. A long time favorite of ours at Big Star, their recordings for both Columbia and Decca cemented them as one of the top names in country music, with their incredible vocal harmonies and spiritual depth found in every note they sung. Their trademark album, Satan Is Real, is a necessity for country music fans. Charlie passed away in 2011, but today we are raising our glass to him.