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John Scott's Staff Pick: July 1, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer. I’m sure all the Scarecrow members’ write ups will be a lot more interesting and entertaining than mine from their European excursions, as me and Dom held down the fort back in Raleigh. Not much was happening in Raleigh other than it was hot as hell, but a couple weeks back I got to go to a pretty cool show at the Pour House downtown. I hadn’t heard anything about it till the day of the show, but it was a band from Saint Petersburg, Russia called Messer Chups and they play surf rock with a sort of horror theme going on, like the soundtrack for a weird 60s midnight movie. I had never heard of them, but it sounded like a pretty interesting show and what else was I gonna do on a Tuesday night? I ended up going with a friend of mine and it was a fun show. We both agreed it would make great spy/detective music, maybe cause they played the Pink Panther theme. After the show, I went over to the merch booth to pick up their latest record to support a touring band. The name of the album is Dark Side of Paradise and it came on a cool white and blue swirl vinyl. It’s a pretty fun listen. If surfy songs about Dracula and witches and black leather sound appealing to you, then this will be right up your alley. My favorite track on here is probably the cover of Nights in White Satin, which was pretty cool.

John Scott's Staff Pick: June 3, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers, I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend and got to relax a lil bit. I was able to go to the beach with some friends and hang out there for Sunday and Monday which was nice. It feels like summer is in full swing now and what better way to celebrate than listening to some dumb novelty music? I picked up The Big Itch Vol. 3 a couple months ago when I was in Oxford, Mississippi at End Of All Music, which is a really great spot to check out if you ever find yourself down that way. While I was flipping through records there, this one jumped out at me for two reasons:

1. The cool wrestling pictures on the cover

2. I thought it was called The Big Bitch Vol. 3 until after I bought it and was laughing about it and my girlfriend pointed out that it actually said Itch.

It was $10 so I figured why not? It was worth it for the cover alone. With songs like Wombat Twist, Cave Man Hop, Discombobulated, I was bound to get some enjoyment out of it. It’s a fun record to just throw on every now and then whenever you wanna hear some stuff that sounds like twice rejected Cramps songs. Move over Monster Mash and make room for the new king of Halloween bangers, The Graveyard Cha Cha.

John Scott's Staff Pick: May 28, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone has had a nice week. To everyone’s dismay, today I’ll be writing about the good ol Grateful Dead. This cool looking bootleg titled Cowboy’s Dead! came into the store and I had to check it out cause I had never seen it before. I’ve always been a fan and really respected the art of bootlegging, whether it be media, clothing or any medium, especially when it’s a real fan of the source material putting a lot of love into it. It’s cool to see people be such a fan of something that they take it upon themselves to get it out to the public. In true bootleg fashion, this record includes some minor errors such as incorrect tracks listed, like Deep River Blues being listed instead of Deep Elem Blues (a pretty honest mistake to be fair) and incorrect lyrics printed on the back, but I feel stuff like that only adds more character and charm. This recording comes to us from a show at Harpur College on 5/2/70, one of my favorite eras for the band. The first side features the aforementioned Deep Elem Blues, followed by Candyman which leads right into a very nice version of Cumberland Blues and ends with Cosmic Charlie. The second side is really what sells me on this record, with a ripping That’s It For The Other One that’s sure to melt the faces of any fans of 60s Dead, clocking in around 25 minutes. I’m just happy the universe dropped this one right in front of me cause if it wasn’t for that, I would have no idea this release existed.

John Scott's Staff Pick: May 14, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone has had a nice week. This week, I’m writing about another RSD release I picked up a couple weeks ago, 300% Dynamite, a compilation of Ska, Soul, Funk & Dub from Jamaica put out by Soul Jazz Records. I’m pretty sure I’ve stated this many times before, but any time Dom recommends a comp to me, I always pick it up. This one is perfect for spring and rapidly approaching summertime. I’ve got my record player set up in my room that connects to my back porch so I can hang out outside while making the whole neighborhood listen to whatever I’m listening to, but I don’t think anyone would have a problem with this. I honestly don’t have much to say about this other than every song on here is a banger. If I had to pick one track that’s stuck out as my favorite at the moment, it would probably be Coconut Woman by The Freddie Munnings Orchestra. An absolute ear worm, so many of the lyrics on this song are so quotable. Other favorites would be Uptown Top Ranking (Althea and Donna), Step Softly (Bobby Ellis), Jungle Lion (Lee Perry and The Upsetters) and Let’s Dub It Up (Dee Sharp) but honestly I could make a case to just list every song on here. Definitely check this one out if you haven’t already.

John Scott's Staff Pick: May 6, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone is having a nice week. Last week was my birthday, and I got to spend the weekend hanging out and relaxing at the beach with my friends, which was really nice. We even got to go to an old school skating rink, which also was a bunch of fun. My wonderful girlfriend knocked it out of the park with her gift and got me this live Doc and Merle Watson record that I’ve wanted for a while now. I never buy records online honestly cause it feels silly when I work in a record store. Coincidentally, this record was recorded on May 2nd, 1974, exactly fifty years from this past Thursday. Like the Live Johnny Cash record I wrote about months ago, this show was recorded by Owsley “Bear” Stanley, in his own unique way to make it sound like you’ve travelled back in time and are sitting right there in the crowd. They get things started with Wabash Cannonball, cause every show needs a train song to kick things off. Another song I really enjoyed on the first side was A Rovin’ On a Winter’s Night, which I had just heard for the first time a few weeks ago when I saw Billy Strings in Nashville and instantly fell in love with it. As I’ve said with every other live bluegrass album I’ve written about, I always love the banter and jokes in between songs. It really breathes life into the recording and makes it feel more personal. Other favorites of mine on here include Tennessee Stud, Peach Pickin’ Time in Georgia, Walk on Boy and Brown’s Ferry Blues. I’m so thankful Owsley Stanley took it upon himself to record such amazing and intimate performances so that we can enjoy them half a century later. Thank a taper today. Hopefully in fifty years I’ll be listening to a live record of a show I attended and think back fondly of the memory and remember all the small little details that happen in between songs.

John Scott's Staff Pick: April 22, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone had a good Record Store Day! I picked up a cool new release I wasn’t aware of till I saw it: Sun Ra’s Pink Elephants on Parade. This is a compilation of live recordings from Sun Ra and The Arkestra performing songs from old Disney movies (Dumbo, Snow White, etc.) but jazzed up in that special Sun Ra fashion. These are the type of releases I love for RSD: weird shit you never knew you needed. I also love all the live album releases, but I know some people feel differently about that. These recordings are from different shows, but you can tell the energy at all of them was just fun and loose. You can hear laughter in the voices of The Arkestra while they’re singing. My favorite track on here is Whistle While You Work. It has a real upbeat swing to it and I can’t help but whistle along to it and have it stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Me and Dom were listening to it at the store the other day and were moving around there like the seven dwarves. Anyways, I hope everyone scored whatever they wanted and enjoyed a nice Saturday at their favorite Record Store!

John Scott's Staff Pick: April 15, 2024

Whats up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone had a good weekend. Last Sunday, I travelled back to Nashville for a quick trip to go to a Billy Strings show (no shocker there). Believe it or not though, this one was different. He was playing a one-off show with Bryan Sutton at the American Legion Post 82 in Nashville, essentially a tiny dive bar, and tickets were sold in a raffle system and to be picked up at will call with a matching ID to prevent any chance of reselling. For once, I was lucky enough to win the raffle and score two tickets to the show (for reference, I heard around 15,000 people entered the raffle and only about 200 tickets were sold, take that info with a grain of salt.) This show was only announced two weeks before it happened and emails sent out if you got tickets a week before. I signed up as a Hail Mary and said I’d say what the hell and make the drive to Nashville if I got em and lo and behold. I hit up my brother who lives in Nashville and asked if I could stay with him and if he wanted my extra ticket to go to the show, which he was happy to oblige. Road tripping by yourself is pretty fun cause you can do all the stupid detours no one else would wanna do, like cruise down the Andy Griffith Parkway and visit Mayberry. I was a couple hours outside of Nashville and my brother called me up and informed me the venue the show was at was around the corner a block away from his apartment. Everything was falling into place. He planned to go pick up some beers and pizza for my arrival before the show. I got in about 6PM, doors were at 7 and the show was at 8, so we hung out for about an hour and we decided since I’d come so far for a show we might as well get there early at the doors. A quick cut through the Cookout and Popeyes parking lot and we were at the show. We had to go through about three separate sets of people with a list and show our IDs. We get inside and pass thru the bar to a back room where we’re greeted by a tiny stage with a few rows of foldout chairs mere feet from the stage. Holy shit. I’m used to seeing Billy in arenas full of thousands of people, so to be in a tiny back room of a dive bar sitting probably about 10 feet away from my favorite musician just pickin on the guitar felt like a fever dream. My brother turned to me and I could tell he realized the absurdity of this historical show we were about to witness. Since we got there early, we had some time before the show, so I went over to the bar to grab us some beers. Getting asked to start a tab while at a Billy show also felt otherworldly, since I’m used to getting hawked for $16 beers at arenas. Everyone who was there was so happy to be there. I kept hearing people saying they couldn’t believe they were actually there. A lady I talked to was a school teacher who said she started crying in the middle of class when she got the email that she won the tickets and her students had to ask what was wrong. She was telling me she brought her dad with her and I told her I brought my brother with me and another guy chimed in and said he brought his brother with him as well, It just felt like a real family affair and everyone had a smile from ear to ear. I sat back down and shortly after, Billy and Bryan came walking in thru the side door, right thru the crowd basically and walked right on to that tiny stage and took a seat and we were off to the races. This show was completely made up of just timeless bluegrass and folk staples which, if you know me, is my ideal set list. I got to hear more Doc Watson tunes than you could shake a stick at, including my favorite song of all time, Shady Grove. I loved every single song. It was just classic after classic after classic. I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. Like I said, I could only compare the feeling to being in a fever dream.

Getting to hear/be a part of the banter in between the songs felt like I was placed smack dab into one of my old live bluegrass records from the 60s that I’m always writing about. One of my favorite songs from the evening is when they played the Norman Blake song Randall Collins. I wasn’t familiar with it before, but I sure as hell am now. It was an instant earworm, and I probably listened to it about 20 times on my drive home. Just a cool as hell song. After probably what were two of the greatest hours I’ve spent on this earth, they closed the show with Let the Cocaine Be, a song I’d wanted to hear live since I first got sucked down the bluegrass rabbit hole. After the show, Billy just took a step down off the stage and took the time to say hello and take a picture and talk to everyone that was lucky enough to be in attendance, a real class act. I’m terrible in these situations and never know what to say, but I shook his hand and told him thanks for all the music and everything, and also gave him a copy of that cassette I wrote about months ago, Who’s This Living in My Soul?, a compilation of old rare folk and gospel songs from across the south. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get to hear Billy play a cover from that? Afterwards, me and my brother went to Dino’s to end the evening with some fries and a few more cold ones. While sitting there, there was only one word we could come up with to sum up the night: legendary. Getting to experience this intimate performance made me realize how thankful for music I am and how powerful it can be. I know this is a memory I’ll get to carry on for the rest of my life of seeing my favorite artist with my brother in the backroom of a bar in Nashville and for that I’d like to say, thank you Bill, it’s been a thrill.

John Scott's Staff Pick: April 8, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone is having a nice week. While organizing some of my records, it really struck me how much stuff I get from the bargain bins. It’s hard not to when working with a walking musical encyclopedia like Dominic. He’ll pull out some random $4 record and be like “have you heard this? You should get this,” and he’s always right. So many of my favorite records have come from the bins. You start to get excited about random shit in bargain bins. Dom and I were excited last week cause we found a record consisting of just train sounds and noises. It wouldn’t be the same if this record costed $30 instead of $3. It always confuses me when people ONLY buy brand new sealed records. We could have a record someone is looking for and you’ll pull out a copy and they’ll say “oh it’s used? I only want a new copy.” To each their own, but I think it’s funny when someone will pass over a $15 copy of a record they want, but would happily pay $50 for a brand new RSD release of the exact same record. Not for nothing either, but I’ve had worse luck recently buying brand new sealed copies of records that are warped, scratched up, scuffy, etc., whereas with a used record I know what I’m getting into. I digress, but I had to get on my soapbox for a minute about the often overlooked bargain bin, which leads me to the record I’m writing about today, The Sons of the Pioneers - Cool Water, a collection of classic western favorites. Dom and I found this gem the other day and decided to give it a spin. What first caught my attention was the title track. I’m familiar with the Marty Robbins version, which is one of my favorites of his, so I figured I’d give this one a chance. Plus, who doesn’t love cowboy songs? Listening to this makes it feel like you’ve been sittin in the saddle riding along the trail all day. My favorite track on here would probably be Blue Shadows on the Trails, a song I wasn’t familiar with before but instantly became hooked on. It’s a slower, smoother ballad, but it has this really cool vocal harmony in the background that goes on throughout the song that sounds like a steam engine whistle or something. It has an almost dreamy sound to it. Anyways, my main take away from listening to this record is that cowboys really like to sing about little doggies gettin along.

John Scott's Staff Pick: April 1, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone has had a nice week. I’ve had a strange day. I woke up really hungry and my stomach was growling, but that’s not out of the ordinary. I tried eating some breakfast. That didn’t help much, but I kept going on with my day. Lunch time came around and I had a big ‘ol sandwich, but still I was hungry. By the time it was dinner, I probably polished off my whole plate in 3 minutes, but my appetite still grew larger. I thought I was losing my mind. I tried everything but no matter what I did, I was still hungry. Frustrated, I sat down and decided to listen to some records to take my mind off it. I threw on Joy Division’s Substance. Surely this classic would distract me from my insatiable appetite. I was about halfway through Transmission when I felt like I was slapped in the face by the answer to my problems. I don’t know if it was a moment of clarity or insanity, but this hunger had driven me to the brink of my sanity, and I knew what I had to do. I ripped the record off the player and held it in my hands and took a big ass bite straight out of the vinyl, the first two tracks Warsaw and Leaders of Men. I’ve never tasted anything better in my life, and for the first time in what felt like forever, the hunger was going away. I ate the whole damn slab and felt like I just had a five course meal. Sometimes if you feel that hunger that can’t be satisfied by a meal, you need Substance.

John Scott's Staff Pick: March 25, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone is having a nice week. Lately, I’ve really just been dreaming of summertime. I can’t wait to go lay out at the beach or go chill at the river one Sunday afternoon. I feel like whatever season is the next one approaching is the one I love, but man I really do love summertime. Last summer, I was visiting a friend who lives over in Wilmington for the weekend and we were hanging out on the beach and my buddy was playing music on a speaker. All the sudden this song came on and probably about a minute into it I was like, “what is this song? Man, this is amazing” and he told me it was Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries by Willie Bobo. A smarter person than myself would’ve been able to deduce this pretty easily, since those are the only words throughout the entire song. I don’t know how to put it into words exactly, but this song sounds like it’s been baking out in the sun all day. The vocals are very warm and welcoming like Willie Bobo himself is inviting you to come enjoy some fried neck bones and home fries with him and his friends. I remember driving back to his place after the beach that day and saying, “hey, can you play that fried neck bones song again?” The next day I was driving back to Raleigh, so I decided to listen to the rest of the album and man what a treat. It was almost hard to drive cause this whole album makes you wanna stand up and shake the dust off your hips. Everyone has probably heard a hundred different covers of Michelle whether you want to or not, but this is by far my favorite one I’ve ever heard. I didn’t know so much life and energy could be shot into that song, but Willie turns it out. The way they shout “Michelle! Ma Belle!” will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. All this to say, I’m excited to drink cold beers in the hot sun this summer while listening to Latin jazz.

John Scott's Staff Pick: March 18, 2024

What’s up Sorry State readers, I hope everyone has had a nice week. I feel like I always mention the weather or season at the beginning of my write-ups, but that’s cause it really can affect my listening habits. We’ve had amazing spring weather here in Raleigh this past week. I think we even got up into the 80s one day. My cutoff jean shorts were calling my name like the green goblin mask. With great power (sunny and 70s) though, comes great responsibility (a bunch of pollen everywhere.) It hasn’t gotten too bad yet with the pollen, but I know it’s coming. Anyways, about a month ago I wrote about that 60s French female pop compilation I was really digging that I got at Goner Records in Memphis. Fast forward to last week, I’m flipping through the International section (one of my favorites) at the store and come across this France Gall record. The cover alone told me all I needed to know about this album, but what really sold me was the hype sticker on this Third Man pressing. And I quote, “with the psychedelic era upon us, we find Gall, now in her 20s, singing increasingly strange songs about mummies, LSD, and dreams of death.” It’s like that sentence was constructed in a lab to specifically appeal to me. How could I not buy it after reading that? It’s the perfect record for this time of year when everything is blooming. Why not have some bright, warm music to match? Even though I don’t understand any French, you can still pick up on the feelings and mood of each song. My two favorites on here being Nefertiti (written by Serge Gainsbourg) and Les yeux bleus. Getchu some French pop in your system this spring.

John Scott's Staff Pick: March 4, 2024

Whats up Sorry State readers, I hope everyone has had a nice week. It finally feels like spring has arrived here in NC, though we’ll see if we get hit with another cold blast. This past week I returned from my road trip across the South East which was a bunch of fun. I got to listen to a whole lot of bluegrass, see most of my family, and show my girlfriend around where I grew up. When we were in Memphis for a couple days, we decided to drive down to Oxford, MS for the day just to hang out in town and walk around. If you don’t know, Ole Miss is located right in Oxford and the town basically revolves around the school. This is pretty much the southern-preppy capital so it’s a little funny, but the town also has a long and interesting history on its own, including being the home of William Faulkner, a southern author whose stories often took place in the fictional Mississippi county Yoknapatawpha. You can even still visit his house and walk around the property and see where he’d sit and write and draw inspiration from. Like a true old southern town, the town square is the most central part of town where everything is: shops, restaurants, bars and a big ol court house right in the middle for good measure. Hidden in this bustling square though, right up some stairs to the side of a building, I came across a record store. End of All Music was the name of the shop and I was absolutely blown away by it. Right away you could tell this shop was run by people who really loved and cared about music. A vast collection of all genres of music, used and new, and organized very well so it was easy to find what you’re looking for. I was fully expecting a run of the mill record store located in this preppy college town’s square and was happily surprised. I could’ve stayed in there for hours flipping through everything but my mom and girlfriend didn’t come down to Oxford to watch me shop for records all day, so it was kept to a brief visit. When I’m in a situation like this, out of state in a great record store, I like to get something totally out of left field. Maybe I’ll like it, maybe I won’t, but I’ll always remember when and where I got it. I came across this record, Hypnotic Guitar of John Ondolo, released on Mississippi Records (very fitting). I like being hypnotized by a guitar and I knew I would never listen to this unless I just bought it, so I decided to go with that. John Ondolo was a guitarist, singer, songwriter and filmmaker from Tanzania, which is pretty impressive. The songs on here are nothing crazy, just rhythmic guitar with some vocals, a flute, and percussion. It’s not something I’d necessarily be dying to get, but I’m glad I bought it. Sometimes, especially I feel the longer you’ve been collecting, you can fall into certain buying patterns. You have a long list of stuff you wanna get by certain artists, and sometimes it can be hard to stray from that, but I think it’s important sometimes to pick something up that you’ve never seen or heard of in your life and say “this looks cool, I’m gonna get this.” You may not always hit a home run, but it’s important to expand your musical horizons and try a little bit of everything. And who knows you might just find your new favorite thing. If I didn’t get this record, I probably could’ve gone my whole life without hearing any music that came out of Tanzania, so I’m glad I decided to pick this up. It’s kinda sounding like I’m saying I don’t like this record, but I’m too stubborn to admit it, which is far from the truth. It’s just not a record I’m gonna be listening to everyday but there’s some songs on here I really enjoy like Haukutoka Mbinguni. However, I know one day I’ll have a musical itch in my head and wanna hear something and I’ll be flipping through my records going “no….no…..no….no” and then I’ll come across this record and throw it on and the memories will come flooding back in and l’ll smile.