This week there is exciting new music from Tom Petty, Otis Gibbs, and a body shaking collaboration with The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band and Dom Flemons featuring Steve Cropper and Scot Sutherland.
Finally, the much-vaunted and longed for the second half of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers is going to be released. Entitled Wildflowers & All the Rest comes out October 16. As part of the album’s rollout, the Petty family has released a demo version of “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” a home recording of new song “There Goes Angela (Dream Away),” and “Confusion Wheel” our first glimpse into the Wildflowers second half. Wildflowers & All the Rest is a multi-disc set including a disc of demo versions and a disc comprised of live recordings of Wildflowers tracks.
Tom Petty’s Wildflowers is a seminal album from a quintessential rock legend and since its initial release in 1994 Wildflowers has been incomplete. Originally envisioned as a double album with 25 songs, Petty’s record label had him shave it down to a single disc. At least ten songs were officially left on the cutting room floor. This is particularly heartbreaking because Petty was at his creative zenith and the most fruitful years in his storied career.
Newly released song “There Goes Angela (Dream Away)” is Petty at his absolute best. Petty’s familiar voice sings over two acoustic guitars gently strumming, while a harmonica breathes periodically and a tambourine is sparsely tapped. Maybe it is Petty’s aura, but the song reveals his ability to create a masterpiece from simplicity. Achingly sweet and playful, Petty’s lyrics are paternal, “If ever someone should break your will/ Have a dream on me.” Even though the song was written two decades ago it feels like Petty is sending a letter from beyond the grave. Towards the end of the song he reminds his loved one, “One day I’ll be back/ One day I’ll be home/ Right now I got somethings to do out on the road.” Petty has always been timeless and refreshing, but Wildflowers stands apart as his greatest work.
Otis Gibbs is the very definition of an independent artist and is broadcasting the need for more unfiltered truth-telling on his new album Hoosier National available September 18. Unrestrained and unencumbered by the cogs and gears of the music industry Gibbs wanted to make an album he would be proud to put his name on.
Gibbs is a storyteller. He tells stories in his music and on his long-running podcast Thanks for Giving a Damn. Otis Gibbs low speaking rasp underscores his warmth and sincerity. Showing a voice weathered by long nights of conversation and singing. Gibbs speaks in a cadence that gives space for interjections and dialog. He is a facilitator of stories, without the compunction to dominate and one-upmanship.
Selflessly, Gibbs centers his stories on the downtrodden, the overlooked, and the oppressed. On his new single “Nine Foot Problem” Gibbs sings about factory workers, jobless in a world that has allowed capitalism to value profits over people. In search of hope, the factory worker only finds the numbing freedom of pills and booze as Gibbs cries out, “American faded/ American Jaded.” Gibbs reminds us bleakness is not an excuse for blindness. Just because the truth is hard to face doesn’t mean it one should not bear witness to the pain all around us. Stylistically the Gibbs sounds like Bruce Springsteen if he had planted trees for ten years and a dash of Lucero country rock. But I describe Gibbs at my own peril, because as he states at the beginning of every podcast, “There are only two people in art that matter, the creative individual and the person experiencing it, and everything else is an artificial filter.”
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band has been serving heaving helpings of blues braised in rockabilly since 2003. Musicologist Dom Flemons is a founding member of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops and is a Grammy-nominated solo artist for his album Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboy for the African American Legacy Recordings series, co-produced with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
After a once in a lifetime all-star performance at the 2019 Blues Music Awards Reverend Peyton and Dom Flemons sought to recreate some of the magic conjured that night. Both Peyton’s band and Flemons gathered at the famous Sun Records Studio in Memphis Tennessee to perform Elmore James’ slide-guitar blues classic “Shake Your Money Maker.” Flemons also gathered Guitar player Steve Cropper and bass player Scot Sutherland to round out the powerhouse session.
The resulting rendition of "Shake Your Money Maker” is a pure flash of lightening. Bristling energy strikes with slashes of slide guitar laced in churning percussion. Flemons and Peyton vocals rumble and thunder into an earth clattering force. “Shake Your Money Maker” is demanding you to get on the floor to shake, rattle, and roll the blues away. Alone or not, it’s time to clear some space, turn on “Shake Your Money Maker,” crank it to 11, and dance. Let the jolts of joy reanimate any parts of your life needing revitalization.
Cory Martin is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn., writing about movies, music and pop culture.