As you may recall, Jeremy Mackinder, who has played bass in Whitey Morgan & the 78s, used to check in with us from the road with some entertaining and...educational...posts. Now he's playing with Deadstring Brothers (it's all relative over here at Bloodshot Records), who are on tour supporting their new album Cannery Row, which just hit the streets on 4/9. Here we have his story about his labor of love, the fourth annual Honky Tonk Throwdown, at which Deadstring Brothers themselves will be performing, along with an auditory smorgasbord of other twangtastic bands, at PJ's Lager House in Detroit next weekend, May 10-12. Proceeds will benefit the Waylon Jennings Diabetes Fund.
This is my fourth year of throwing the Honky Tonk Throwdown. It's a musical event that was originally born out of anger and frustration, but it many senses has become an entirely different animal as it has progressed.
I woke up one early morning in Woodstock, NY on a hotel room floor. I couldn’t sleep because my mind kept racing back to thoughts on the state of popular “country” music and how many more deserving songs and talents I knew around the nation and even at home in Detroit that were being ignored by the powers that be. And, to make it worse, one of the most objectionable displays of this occurred in my own backyard every year at a festival that not only ignored real roots music, but also took advantage of and abused local musicians by placing them on secondary out-of-the-way stages that were more insulting (especially financially) than anything. I could no longer stand for it. I found a partner in crime and belief in PJ at Detroit’s Lager House and got to planning my statement on the validity of honest roots music.
Hence, the birth of the Honky Tonk Throwdown. This fourth year brings back some old favorites and also welcomes a new helping of music that might just become your favorite. I am very thrilled to be holding my own band’s hometown album release party at the Throwdown as Deadstring Brothers' 5th record, Cannery Row, was released in April on Bloodshot and this will be our first trip back to Detroit since then. Also thrilled to be bringing in new acts to the Throwdown this year with If Birds Could Fly, Mary Cutrafella, Fifth on the Floor, Burning Miles Band, and the Greaves, as national touring acts making their first appearances. I'm pleased as well to announce the return of the Dock Ellis Band and the one and only Billy Don Burns making his fourth straight appearance this year(and here is hoping the fifth one will be next year's!).
Additionally, there is a new infusion of local talent coming in this year as Whiskey Charmers, Behind the Times, Captain Ivory, Gibson Seal, and Detroit-area legends The Sights are all first-timers. Old friends and fans will be happy to hear that we also have Katie Grace, Horse Cave Trio, Crooked Little Reasons, Jeremy Porter and the Tucos, The Orbitsuns, Bull Halsey, John Holk, and good ol' Ryan Dillaha as returning alumni to the Throwdown.
Just thinking about this year’s lineup brings a smile to my face this morning. It’s also exhausting, and each year as it’s winding down on Sunday, I think to myself that there is no way I can do this next year. And then on Monday morning, I start planning the next year’s event. Not this time. I know we’re doing year five; I've outlined and plotted it out. It’s even more exhausting than this one, and even more invigorating.
I have to mention that for the second straight year we’re working with the Waylon Jennings Diabetes Fund and the diabetes research organization TGEN to help eradicate diabetes. We’ll be taking donations all weekend and this year Shiner Beer has gotten involved and is contributing a Epiphone SG guitar that will be raffled off as well many pieces of Waylon memorabilia for those in attendance. It's been very exciting to see this develop and grow with the Throwdown’s involvement.
And here’s why I’m already excited about next year: this event born out of frustration and anger and a bit of rebellion has become something different. It’s now just about the music, the friendship, and the celebration. It’s done on its own merit now, for the good of it, not to be a part of a fight or a statement. It’s changed with time and in spirit. The name “Throwdown” goes away next year and with it disappears the combative undertone the title implies, but that’s for then—and for this year, its time to ring the bell and start up the Honky Tonk Throwdown again. Ladiiiiiessss and gentlemeeeeen, bring it.
All for now,