Minnesota To Wisconsin – an alternative route



You may all have noticed by now that leaveitallbehind’s musical taste is possibly the one most closely aligned with my own amongst current RR/Spillers. That’s one of the main reasons I’d decided to hitch a ride with him on his tour of the US.

But this week in particular, that companionship is theoretical only. On our trip down from the 49th parallel to the Gulf of Mexico and back, I’ve ended up ignoring LIAB9’s recommendations, and instead revisiting many of my oldest [musical] friends. In truth, there are only two of the following selections that I had to seek out to follow the route. The rest of them, I could find my way to blindfolded.


John Prine – Sabu Visits The Twin Cities Alone

If JP’s voice is too marmite for you, I can accept that. But he’s a hell of a writer, so go search for covers of his songs (much like I do with Bob Dylan). The Twin Cities in the song are of course Minnesota’s  Minneapolis & Saint Paul.

William Elliott Whitmore – South Lee County Brew

WEW is from Lee County, Iowa. If you join him for a brew – moonshine – watch out!! If you listen to the lyrics of this song, you’ll probably want to avoid him. But don’t, because I cannot recommend his 2006 Song Of The Blackbird album highly enough.

[Ed’s note: this tune is NOT on that LP.]

Dolorean – Hannibal, MO

My Missouri tune couldn’t have been anything else could it?!

@ LIAB9: have you been around long enough to be exposed to my obsession with this song? I once did a Spill post just on this song, in full-on sulky teenager mode because the RR journo-du-jour had ignored it AGAIN. Hmmm, maybe ”least said, soonest mended”. Moving on ….

Tony Joe White – They Caught the Devil and Put Him in Jail in Eudora, Arkansas

This came down to a straight choice between TJW’s blues or some Ozark country. Tony’s voice was always gonna win that fight. But I’m not hanging around in Arkansas, because getting back on Route 61, turning south, and flooring it, we’ll soon be …

Professor Longhair – Tipitina

Ah, back in N’Awlins at last! A city I’ve been to twice, but not for twenty years now, sadly. Tipitina brings it all back instantly. And I want to hang around, so here’s a DsD all-time fave:

Grant Lee Buffalo – Dixie Drug Store

Food, hospitality, bourbon, voodoo and enchanting music. Bring it on!

And another: William Topley – Magnolia

The ex-Blessing frontman covers two bases for me, namechecking streets in the French Quarter, whilst at the same time leaving Louisiana to the east with the smell of Mississippi’s state flower in his nostrils. Better put that car’s soft-top up though, because here comes (rapper) Nas’ jazz-guitar-playing dad to warn us of a Natchez:

Olu Dara – Rain Shower

* turns to face Camera Three *


Now then? Who do I know with ‘form’ for singing about Alabama? Oh yes. Have I mentioned this band before?

Drive-By Truckers – The Three Great Alabama Icons / Wallace

Because this is such a lecture in itself, I won’t bore you with more explanations. But a little-known factoid for you: the vocalist on Wallace was a short-lived DBT bass player who was at one time in Hothouse Flowers.

Now we get to Tennessee. Time to head for the very southwest corner of the state, and pay our respects to The King.

Elvis Presley – That’s All Right

Seriously, I’m not kidding. I’m not normally a fan of “audio tours”, but I have experienced two fantastically good ones in my life: Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay, and the hour or two standing in this little three-room nondescript brick building on Union Avenue, Memphis: Sun Studios. When they play back the audio of Elvis’ recording debut, the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention instantly. When you look around that room, and consider who has stood there before you, it is truly, properly, no hyperbole intended, jaw-droppingly, awe-inspiring.

After my holiday there in 1999, this next song took on much more weight of credibility in my head, and I make no apology for still loving:

Marc Cohn – Walking In Memphis

Of course, I also can’t leave Tennessee without reminding you of:

Little Feat – Dixie Chicken,

A song that I just cannot hope to import the significance of in my musical education.

So let’s head on north. Kentucky. Famous for what, you say, LIAB9? A horse race and some fried chicken?! Shame on you. Bluegrass, man, bluegrass.

Steve Earle & the Del McCoury Band – Harlan Man

I saw them in Bradford on their joint UK tour in support of The Mountain album. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, but unfortunately a “Don’t you EVER do that to me again!” experience for DarceysMam, who just hated “all that ‘Yee-Hah’ music”. 

AHEM! Let’s try to forget that, and inject some oomph to Kentucky’s musical heritage.

Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers – Something In The Water

is from my favourite LP by the Paducah, KY natives, Pandelirium. (cf DsD RR asafaeraes Iron Lung Oompah & Ichabod!) This song picks a fight with those world-class corporate scumbags, Union Carbide.

Do you remember Duck Dunn’s line in the first Blues Brothers’ film about having “a band powerful enough to turn goat’s piss into gasoline”? That’s how I feel about Pandelirium.

But now then, mention of the Blues Brothers immediately makes me think of Chicago, which in turn immediately makes me think of ……

UFO – Lights Out

Huh?!?!?!? WTF? Heavy rock Londoners with nary a blues-loving bone, nor an American band member between them? How do you figure that one, DsD?

Because my first ever gig was UFO in 1979, in support of their epochal live album Strangers In The Night. Intro, Side 1 – “Hello Chicago! Would you please welcome from England … U … F … O!”

And changing the “Lights out in London” lyric to “Lights out in Chicago” crowd-pleaser.

No Chicago blues will ever mean as much to me as that, musically. Sorry, blues fans.

And finally, as my heavy rock core has been exposed – again – let’s let Ed Kowalscyk and his [now ex-]friends have a swipe at two of Wisconsin’s major employers: Caterpillar and Harley-Davidson.

Live – Pillar Of Davidson

I’ve ‘Boxed this week’s rather long playlist in running order. I’m not sure I’ll have time to suss out the new Spill player this week, though. Apologies for those who cannot pick up what I’ve Dropped.


6 thoughts on “Minnesota To Wisconsin – an alternative route

  1. Off to work now, but the DsD folder in the DropBox has been updated with this week’s tunes.
    I’ve got links and playlist to do this evening.

    • You are a star, what a brilliant contribution, can’t wait to snaffle those tunes out of the box and have me a listen.

      Brilliantly written DsD.

  2. Hope I’m not overstepping bounds here by offering a tune. (again)
    Untill the nineteenth century, only adventurers who sought their fortunes as traders/trappers of beaver fur went as far west as the Missouri River. Most of the men were loners who were friendly with, and sometimes married Native Americans.
    Story of a trader who fell in love with the daughter of Algonquian chief -named Shenandoa.
    I offer these moving renditions:
    Oh Shenandoah – John McDermott (he sings of the daughter)

    Oh Shenandoah – Tennessee Ernie Ford

    Many artists have sung this song throughout the years.
    Oldiebutgoodie – at RR

    • I’m sure DsD will welcome you in due course but I’m pleased to see you’re finding your feet round here. 🙂

    • Not at all, Oldiebutgoodie, pile in!
      I don’t know of John McDermott at all, but that top one kinda puts me in mind of ex-Runrig singer Donnie Munro. It’s smooth, sweeping and undoubtedly majestic, but a little too “oldie” for my tastes.
      Tennessee Ernie, on the other hand, I do know, and had a magnificent voice. He really shouldn’t work for me, but I admit I would file that under G for ‘guilty pleasure’.

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