From the sedulous to the surreal in cultural context

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A Trip to ZZ Top’s Tejas

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December 10, 2015

Stepping into an album cover can be a surreal experience. One of my personal favorite ZZ Top albums is Tejas. Released November 1976, Tejas followed hit records Fandango! (1975) and Tres Hombres (1973), as well as earlier blues-rock offering Rio Grande Mud (1972) and the nearly eponymous ZZ Top’s First Album (1971). ZZ Top’s fifth long… Read More ›

New South Cocktail: The Terroir of the Jack & Coke

  Some call it a Jack & Coke. I like to think of it as a “Chattanooga.” Chattanooga sits at a gap in the Appalachians on Interstate 24, just southeast of the Cumberland Plateau. Balanced on the Georgia-Tennessee border, Chattanooga was once known as Ross’s Landing, a site where Cherokee Chief John Ross operated a… Read More ›

Gunning the Throttle for the Llano Estacado: The Epistemic Amarillo

    The academic life is an itinerant one, and sometimes you find yourself moving to a place you never anticipated. This July I found myself packing up my stuff, for the fourth time since finishing my doctorate in mythical pre-crash 2008, getting ready for a 968-mile move to Amarillo, Texas. Unofficial capital of the… Read More ›

Carefree/Blue Highways: On the Road with Mid-Seventies Malaise

In the mid-1970s America’s highways were apparently lonely places. Or at least they were a place where lonely people hoped to repair their fractured lives. Gordon Lightfoot’s tenth album, Sundown, was his most successful. The 36-year-old Canadian folk singer laid down the tracks in Toronto in November 1973. The record was out by January 1974… Read More ›

Huey Lewis and the News: The Applebee’s of American Music

  What does 1980s pop star Huey Lewis have in common with Applebee’s?  More than you might think. In 1983 Huey Lewis and the News put out their third record, Sports. They were following up on the success of their breakthrough second album, 1982’s Picture This. Members of the group had paid their dues in… Read More ›

A Tale of Two Rivers: Chance Encounters with the John Denver Sanctuary and Dan Fogelberg Memorial 

How do you memorialize a 1970s singer-songwriter?   Apparently, finding a river, a few boulders, a chisel, and some song lyrics is a good way to start. I discovered this truth by accident in June. While staying in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, for a sport history conference, I took my free Sunday afternoon (and my not-so-free… Read More ›

#vinylproject2014

What to do when you move to a new place and decide against keeping cable? Any number of things spring to mind: Take long, humid evening walks, listening to crickets and sniffing the local flora. Take up gardening. Perfect your Jack and Coke ratio. Or, you could decide to listen to your entire vinyl LP… Read More ›

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