New Arizona Country: The Bayou Bandits – The Mavericks

It was hot. Really hot! In fact, later we would find out that there was this massive heat advisory in Phoenix, on that late June day, but, well, Swampy Harley and the Indian Man had decided to meet up at Yucca Taproom to take an afternoon ride up to Cave Creek to have some lunch. There is a fine line between Stud & Stupid my friends, and Joshua Strickland and I defined the line that day!

These days everything seems to be a trigger. Whether it is Captain Marvel in Disneyverse or a new Watchmen series on HBO. Somewhere along the line, we forgot how to critically, objectively, THINK. There is an uproar right now about Watchmen being too politically charged. REALLY? My friends, I know I am 45, Generation X, and the Ghost Writer with a Peter Pan complex, but REALLY! Dr. Manhattan is named, MANHATTAN, for a reason. These things were always political! X-Men is about CIVIL RIGHTS folks. Alfa Flight #106 introduced the first openly gay super hero, Northstar in the spring on 1992 (I was a senior in high school, collecting comics), and it sold out in a week! It did not make headlines or cause uproars. Pink Floyd was always political. But when Roger Waters displays, “Trump is a Pig” in Phoenix, people lose their minds.


Allow me to pontificate, as I usually do – but this one is a bit charged, and necessary. Because we are doing everything humanly possible to SELF – SEGREGATE right now in our world. We move to communities that mirror our values. We enroll our kids in schools (Arizona is #1 in the country for Charter Schools BTW) that mirror what we want our kids to know. We become members of church communities, that even though they may mean well, end up being very insular in terms of where and how we spend our limited free time. We only listen to the news networks that tell us what we want to hear. And we get rid of people that cause us “distress” by labeling them toxic. We are all about creating our own little worlds, and becoming ‘woke‘ on all sorts of issues, but very often we shut down that progression of ideas because of labels, self induced definitions, and stereotypes. Example:, as much as Disney would like us to believe it is moving in all sorts of Progressive directions, it is still a stanch Conservative Platform donor. And we start to realize, as much as we ALL may HATE politics in general, EVERYTHING is political. When schools that educate our children, get to choose the ‘facts’ they teach, and people care more about sameness, than knowledge, we are in real trouble, my friends. There can be no Marketplace of Ideas if people have been conditioned to never speak about anything that matters.

Happy Thanksgiving !!!

When a band sends me an album to review, I listen to it non-stop. Most of the time I will have the album memorized by the time that I review it. I work early mornings at Costco, for five hours a day. It is a great job. And in that five hours, I can listen to your album A LOT of times with ZERO interruptions. After two or three days, I am ready to write. I have been listening to the debut offering of The Bayou Bandits for a few days now. Today at work, a co-worker passing by hears me listening to “Take me Back” and says, “Aren’t you too liberal to listen to that?”

The Ghost Writer Review – The Bayou Bandits

Gumbo As a former English teacher, I am a sucker for a well-constructed extended metaphor. There is really nothing more that I want from this song than my coined hashtag #GotGumbo (at least in this context) to catch on and become a thang! Because honey, when I get home I’m hungry……

Save Me Obviously, right off the bat from the first two tracks, you can hear that The Bayou Bandits are coming at you Southern Rock, they are slinging mud from the sweet dark of the swamp, and they are mixing it up with something here in the Arizona Southwest that is familiar, but unique and special at the same time. You see, look around; especially right now, this time of year, and in this age of change, look at the license plates.

Arizona native sons like me… are rare. And, you know what? That is okay! One of the things that has always made Arizona special is its amazing geography, its amazing people, its amazing weather, and the impact that all of that has on the culture of our amazing state! So… in that context. Keep rockin with this southern. rock/swampy/desert/blues inspired hella thunder fest, and #GeuxTigers

Tip ’em on Back Hopefully, after two years, you are starting to get a feel for the way that I write. It is obvious why I am #indie…. I am unique, and I don’t really fit into a mold. I write what I want, and I express why, and how, their music impacted me in the way that I want to. It fits into the amazing community of artists, writers, radio, bloggers, and bands that is Phoenix! Part 1 of this series on New Arizona Country emphasized the first ‘archetype’ of Country. It is Storytelling. It is weaving a narrative around a character that we care about and emphasizing that plot with a theme. Country music does it better than any other medium in popular music. It is part of what makes it…. Country. This song, is a Swampy tribute to that message. Because at some point…. we have all been there, howling at the ghosts with a bottle of gin.

Kandahar Let’s get some facts straight. Not #FakeNews, real stuff. My grandfather, Norman Clark, was Captain at Fire Station 1 in Tucson, Arizona , and he served in Okinawa during World War II. My grandfather, Albert Tompkinson, was a Tucson Postman, and he served on the German front in World War II. My father in law served in Vietnam. My younger brother served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And me, I taught English literature, coached debate, write books, and am liberal as Hell! If you read enough of my work, my politics and philosophy bleed through, as happens in most Art… but here is what is beautiful…..

Joshua Strickland is one of my best friends. We ride motorcycles together (more on that in a bit). We both support Marc Norman 2020 as a councilman in Tempe. We can talk about gun control. We can talk about our mutual love of the works of Mr. Luis Alberto Urrea. We can talk about the crisis at the Arizona, and rest of the American Southwest, Border. We can talk about medical reform. And we can ride a Harley and an Indian (more on that in a bit)…. and we are brothers. And as my second New Arizona Country Article discusses, one of the archetypes of Country… is the Everyman. The Hero…. we all know, but might never be on the cover of a magazine.

When The Bayou Bandits release their album THIS THURSDAY at VALLEY BAR… with The Real Fakes, I have it on good authority that this symbol of genre meshing awesomeness… will be repeated. GET THERE.

Rooster – in support of Marc Norman 2020

What has happened in America that said…. if you were on one side of the aisle, you could not see, feel, nor sympathize with the reality that all of us have had our own scars, our own battles, our own baggage…. and it marks us as humans. It ought not mark us as enemies, nor remove our standard of empathy. Why is it that so many people, across Tempe, and of all different political persuasions… support Marc Norman 2020? War… marks people. It is traumatic. People die. People change. People are never the same. People….

What… happened to us? Happy Veterans Day, Amigos.

The Swamp Moons, Birds, and Monsters is one of my favorite local rock bands. They are hard rock. They are metal. I defy you to place The Swamp immediately after the MBAM song, Lay that Bottle Down, on a playlist and not realize that the southern swampy roots of Rock…. infuse music across all genres. As Joshua Strickland himself says, “The Bayou Bandits are a little bit of Swamp water mixed with some Bourbon Street in the Arizona Desert.” These guys are brothers from that same Swampy Desert Goodness.

Take Me Back Today, this morning, a co worker overheard my cellphone blasting Ghost Writer Radio from my breast pocket. I was listening to The Bayou Bandits debut album on repeat… for five hours. That is my process. God this song is groovy! It will get stuck in your head right off the bat… promise! But at that exact moment, this lyric blasted from my pocket. “Well the Southern Pride, it runs deep inside, so don’t you tread on me Mother Fucker!

And the co worker commented, “Aren’t you too liberal to be listening to that?”

It behooves me to say, my friends, of all persuasions, faiths, politics, cultures, and traumatic pasts…. we are being DIVIDED. Our news is not meant to be a one dose of one side, that has been bought and paid for. What happened to Walter Cronkite? I coached Speech & Debate at Blue Ridge High School in Pinetop, Arizona. I took me team to Harvard…. twice. When my wife and I left Pinetop, Speech & Debate died, as are many Arts programs across this great State. Let me tell you a secret.

Let’s say a National Debate Topic is…. Gun Control. A team does not get to Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts from Pinetop, Arizona without being able to debate both sides of the issues. On a coin flip. That does not happen if you only watch FOX. That does not happen if you only watch CNN.

I can support Bernie Sanders, love Elizabeth Warren, applaud AOC, adore FDR, mourn for Kennedy, ride motorcycles with Joshua Strickland (an Army Veteran AND Registered Nurse) and wish Trump took lessons about National Parks from Teddy….. all at the same time. That is the beauty of Marc Norman 2020. We have lost that. We should remedy this.

Dixie Ass So… it was HOT. Really hot. And along the way from Yucca Taproom to Cave Creek, certain statements were uttered about a certain Swampy Musician’s Harley Davidson Motorcycle at low end, from the jump at a stop light. Certain statements were made about that Swampy Harley’s capabilities at the high end, opened up on the road. Certain statements about the weight, center of gravity, and general glam of said Swampy Harley were made, and discussions commenced. Let’s get back to facts. The 2016 Indian Dark Horse Thunderstroke 111 Original Release Model is the fastest Chief model Indian makes. Jiibay is my 2016 Dark Horse Indian Motorcycle. Anthony Hopkins starred in a movie called The World’s Fastest Indian.

And well… if any of this offends you…. I guess you can kiss our Dixie/ Southestern Asses.

That’s also…. not #FakeNews

Get out this Thursday my friends! Support a light’s out band, with a fantastic record, that is going to make you want to get down with your Bourbon Street Selves!

And Keep the Greasy Side Down!

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