Spencer and Rachel long for the days of flowing mullets, line dances, and too tight jeans. Put on your boots and scoot and boogie with them every week as they invite a special guest to talk about songs from the greatest genre of music: 90s Country.
Durham's Charles Latham joins us to talk about how he came to embrace country and his experiences covering Alan Jackson at a two-step brunch and Dolly Parton as The White Stripes. We discuss Alan's authenticity and his early attempts to sound maybe a little too much like Merle Haggard and George Jones, along with ridiculous redneck Christmas songs and the appropriate amount of pedal steel for a neo-traditionalist. Finally, we talk about Charles' turn from his anti-folk beginnings towards country.
Charles' pick: “Chasin' That Neon Rainbow" by Alan Jackson, 1990
Check out Charles' music and tour dates at https://charleslatham.com/
After months of talking up singer/songwriter Kate Rhudy, she finally joins us for an episode that doesn’t disappoint. We discuss country music duets and how Kate romanticized the idea of having a lover to duet with. She also shares stories of her brushes with Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Alison Krauss while living in Nashville. Finally, we talk approaches to songwriting and Kate’s upcoming single release.
Kate's pick: “It's Your Love" by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, 1997
Check out Kate's music and tour dates at https://www.katerhudy.com/
Mipso’s Libby Rodenbough joins us this episode and admits that in the 90s, she was dazzled by the dance moves and sincerity of the Backstreet Boys (we all were -- it’s okay). Since then, she’s become a fan of Keith Whitley and songs in which the narrator fails at pretending to be fine. So obviously, we talk "I'm Over You" -- which Libby learned from 10 String Symphony and later covered with Hard Tuck. Between Spencer's country fan bonafides being called into question, we discuss bluegrass cheesiness, ridiculous Wikipedia descriptions, and the differing challenges between interpreting songs and writing them.
Libby’s pick: “I’m Over You” by Keith Whitley, 1990
Check out Mipso's music and tour dates at https://www.mipsomusic.com/
Delta Rae drummer Mike McKee enlightens us on the common ground between Weezer and The Dixie Chicks and shares his observation that songs in 6/8 teach us lessons. After we remember when 30 was old, Mike admits that he originally thought "Strawberry Wine" was written by a Triangle teenager who opened for his high school band. Rachel confesses her love for Boone's Farm (Blue Hawaiian or Melon Ball, please) while Spencer quotes from his Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Mike dishes on some of Nashville's inner workings and we all speculate on how much streaming and social media can combat the anti-woman bias of country radio. We also get an update on Delta Rae's plans after splitting from their label, including the two albums they'll release after their record-setting Kickstarter campaign.
Mike's pick: “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter, 1996
Check out Delta Rae at https://www.deltarae.com/, Baldman Percussion at https://www.baldmanpercussion.com/, and Drum Team Collective at https://www.drumteamcollective.com/.
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Michaela Anne joins us to talk about her journey from rapper and jazz student to embracing country music despite the genre’s contentious definitions of authenticity. We all hop on a soapbox about the lack of “lady singers” on modern country radio (seriously, no Kacey?!?) and the trouble with music app algorithms. Michaela discusses the intersections between Shania Twain’s music and some of her own material while Spencer cites parts of Shania’s biography, which he still hasn’t finished.
Michaela’s pick: “No One Needs To Know” by Shania Twain, 1995
Check out Michaela Anne’s music and tour dates at https://www.michaelaanne.com/
Lee Bains III, who fronts politically-charged Alabama rockers Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, joins us while stopping through Durham for a barnburner of a show at our beloved Pinhook. We talk about the importance of place in songwriting, from Lee's own songs to his home state heroes Alabama and his pick for this episode, John Anderson's "Seminole Wind." We touch on some deep topics like capitalism, environmentalism, and representative voices in music then give Tim McGraw and J.D. Loudermilk absolute hell for the existence of "Indian Outlaw." And Rachel's dog Beau seems to know that Lee's an Auburn fan so she tries her best to make some noise and be as beloved as Bo Jackson.
Lee's pick: "Seminole Wind" by John Anderson, 1992
Check out Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires' music and tour dates at http://www.thegloryfires.com
Durham’s Rissi Palmer, who became the first African-American woman to reach the country charts in 20 years upon release of her self-titled debut, joins us to discuss her life as a closeted country fan. Although she grew up listening to Kenny Rogers and Trisha Yearwood, Rissi opted instead to blast the Rush Hour soundtrack in the parking lot of her suburban St. Louis high school. She discusses her love for the Dixie Chicks, her experiences navigating Nashville as a woman of color, and how her new album melds soul and country influences.
Rissi's pick: "You Were Mine" by the Dixie Chicks, 1998
Check out Rissi's new album at http://www.rissipalmermusic.com
John Howie Jr. of The Rosewood Bluff and Two Dollar Pistols takes us through his life in country music, from watching Roger Miller as The Rooster in Disney’s Robin Hood to his acceptance of Johnny Cash while living with punks in Europe. Then John delivers some harsh truths about 90s country - there’s no love lost for Garth Brooks and his impact on country music. Finally, we talk about "Old Town Road"...again.
John's pick: "Burn One Down" by Clint Black, 1992
Check out John's tour dates and music at http://johnhowiejr.com
Scott Phillips, a singer-songwriter from Raleigh bands Goner, Gnoer and The Monologue Bombs, joins us for this episode. We learn that Lilly's in Raleigh is good for more than just pizza, it’s where Scott got a significant education in music. He explains how his road to country goes through John Denver and finds common ground between Richard Buckner and The Promise Ring. We plug the Indiegogo fundraiser for the next Monologue Bombs album and Scott plugs a future episode about Chris Gaines.
Scott’s Pick - “Lil Wallet Picture” by Richard Buckner, 1997
Check out The Monologue Bombs at https://themonologuebombs.bandcamp.com
Bombadil drummer and Durham producer James Phillips challenges our qualifications to host this podcast since he has formal education in country music. We discuss potentially problematic phrases found in David Lee Murphy's breakthrough single, wonder why a Bible is needed on a date, and figure out who to blame for that snare sound. We also discover Rachel's rapper name, learn which 90s country star is big in Fiji, and plan our own awards show.
James' pick: "Dust On The Bottle" by David Lee Murphy, 1994
Preorder Bombadil's new album at http://www.bombadilmusic.com/ and see them on tour this fall!
Museum Mouth bassist Kory Urban plays in a punk band but he's learned a lot by listening to country music, from song structures to first realizing that he wanted a girlfriend. After Kory discusses how his wife measures up to the character from "Daddy's Money" (he's not a gold digger - she's got her own money!), we talk about tropes and misogyny in country music and some of our picks for this year's Hopscotch Music Festival, which features a bill curated by Museum Mouth.
Kory's pick: "Daddy's Money" by Ricochet, 1996
Keep up with Museum Mouth at http://www.museummouth.com/ and see them on tour with Max Bemis this fall!
Triangle musician and producer Saman Khoujinian fronts T. Gold, plays guitar and synth in No One Mind, and has helped make records or played with the likes of Dad & Dad, Virgins Family Band, The Dead Tongues, Humanize, Chris Frisina, and Matt Phillips. Between breaking down Sting's only country hit and the bizarre music video that accompanies it, Saman discusses discovering country music while touring with Mandolin Orange and the influence (or lack thereof) it has had on his own music. Rachel & Saman also make controversial statements about a few highly regarded singer-songwriters and Spencer makes embarrassing confessions about his mid-2000s listening habits.
Saman's pick: "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" by Sting, 1996
Check out T. Gold at https://www.sleepycatrec.com/tgold
We're fixing to start a new season with even more guests! Before we do that, Rachel & Spencer recap season one, talk about some upcoming guests and a few changes to the format, and catch y'all up on what we've been up to over the summer. This is also our first episode where both of us are drinking, so we understand if you don't make it all the way through.
Our pick: Little Bitty by Alan Jackson, 1996
Comedian Britt Spruill of Eyes Up Here joins us this episode. It’s probably not a surprise that we end up talking about Jeff Foxworthy along with Kacey Musgraves and “Old Town Road” (again). But our lengthy discussions of RuPaul’s Drag Race, boy bands, and school dances are probably unexpected! So grab your cowboy hat from Gucci and get ready to lip sync for. your. life!
Britt's pick: No One Else On Earth by Wynonna, 1992
Spencer's pick: I Can Love You Like That by John Michael Montgomery, 1995
Rachel's pick: Next To You, Next To Me by Shenandoah, 1990
Follow Eyes Up here and find out when/where you can laugh with some funny ladies: https://www.facebook.com/eyesupherecom/
Dylan Earl cut his teeth on 90s country while riding around in his mom’s van. Now he’s all grown up with a van of his own, touring non-stop and and still jamming to 90s country. On this episode, we spend arguably too much time talking about line dancing and Sting, but wash it all down with a Hamm’s tallboy.
Spencer's pick: My Next Broken Heart by Brooks & Dunn, 1991
Dylan's pick: Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus, 1992
Rachel's pick: Passionate Kisses by Mary Chapin Carpenter, 1992
Pre-order Dylan's new album and check out his tour dates at https://thedylanearl.com/
Danny Johnson, a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays with several Triangle bands including Jack the Radio and New Reveille, keeps his lawyer on speed dial for this episode. He and Spencer discuss their alternative identities as school teachers and come up with a genius invention (two words: biscuit. koozie.). Then, Rachel shares dating advice inspired by Sammy Kershaw lyrics and fashion advice inspired by Canadians. Be sure to listen til the very end for a special message recorded for our friend BJ Barham of American Aquarium.
Danny's pick: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere by Dwight Yoakam, 1993
Spencer's pick: Politics, Religion and Her by Sammy Kershaw, 1996
Rachel's pick: Poor Poor Pitiful Me by Terri Clark, 1996
Check out what (some of) Danny's bands are up to at http://www.jacktheradio.com/ and https://newreveille.com/
Singer-songwriter Thomas Strayhorn joins us this episode to learn a lot about livin’ and a little ‘bout Alan Jackson. We marvel at Alan Jackson’s ability to water ski and savor our own grape snow cones from Durham joint Pelican’s Snoballs. In spite of Thomas picking the cheery “I Feel Alright” by Steve Earle, we discover through a discussion about the Dixie Chicks that he’s actually really into sad and sappy tunes, just like Spencer. To wrap up the episode, Spencer teaches us something about Natalie Imbruglia that the good people of Twitter knew years ago.
Rachel's pick: Chattahoochee by Alan Jackson, 1992
Thomas' pick: Feel Alright by Steve Earle, 1996
Spencer's pick: Once You've Loved Somebody by The Dixie Chicks, 1998
Check out Thomas' music and tour dates at https://www.thomasstrayhorn.com/
Loamlands leader Kym Register stops by and discovers just how many hypothetical Neon Boots events we have planned for The Pinhook, the Durham bar where they are the head honcho, before we try to decipher what the hell is going on in 90s music videos. Then we discuss the process of coming out (as gay or vegetarian) in the 90s country scene along with identity politics and the importance of the queer country label.
Rachel's pick: Goodbye Says It All by BlackHawk, 1993
Spencer's pick: Single White Female by Chely Wright, 1999
Kym's pick: Constant Craving by k.d. lang, 1992
Check out Kym's music and tour dates at http://www.loamlandsmusic.com
Prolific Triangle songwriter and powerhouse vocalist Reese McHenry has never been to Myrtle Beach but we let her on the show anyway. Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Jordan somehow steer our discussion from Patty Loveless to Reese's yet-to-be-recorded rock opera about the Michael Peterson case. We also ponder all the ways that Sharon Stone is wrong about Dwight Yoakam and whether George Strait sang the most boring breakup song of all-time.
Spencer's pick: Blame It On Your Heart by Patty Loveless, 1992
Reese's pick: Fast As You by Dwight Yoakam, 1993
Rachel's pick: Easy Come, Easy Go by George Strait, 1993
Listen to Reese's new album and find out more at https://www.reesemchenry.com/
Durham singer-songwriter and Hard Tuck member Chessa Rich makes her podcast debut and explains why she shouldn't be on Neon Boots. Before Rachel calls her out for not knowing Travis Tritt, we discuss the country tendencies of The Eagles and the lighthearted pop leanings of our #1 mullet man, Joe Diffie. We bask in the glow of Dolly Parton's genius and talk about Alabama's beginnings in Myrtle Beach, exploring how their songwriting relates to today's world. This episode features a cameo from Rachel's husband, who assures us that he knows at least two states.
Spencer's pick: Bigger Than The Beatles by Joe Diffie, 1995
Chessa's pick: I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton & Vince Gill, 1995
Rachel's pick: I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why) by Alabama, 1992
Keep up with Chessa at https://www.facebook.com/chessarichmusic/
There are some things that we will never not talk about. Those include mullets, baseball, Myrtle Beach and Reba McEntire’s “Fancy,” which all get shout outs in this episode with singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless and magic man Michael Casey. In spite of these tangents, we come away with important life lessons learned from all of our song picks: Hal Ketchum teaches us about parenting a heartbreaker, Toby Keith shows us how to stalk your ex, and Garth Brooks provides tips on partying low while feeling high.
Rachel & Spencer’s pick: Hearts Are Gonna Roll by Hal Ketchum, 1992
Lydia’s pick: Who’s That Man by Toby Keith, 1994
Mike’s pick: Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks, 1990
Listen to Lydia’s music and get tickets to her upcoming tour here: http://www.lydialoveless.com/
Find out where you can be frightened and amazed by Mike’s magic here: http://www.caseymagic.com/
Mipso and Hard Tuck singer/guitarist Joseph Terrell joins us with his mustache and tales of how he became a pickup man. We move from Brad Paisley and Disney's Robin Hood (trust us, they're related) to Keith Whitley and the first hints of Lil Nas X's fame (OK, those aren't very related). We leave with some reflections on Dwight Yoakam's many artistic assets and The Beach Boys' disappointing Stars and Stripes album.
Joseph's pick: Me Neither by Brad Paisley, 1999
Spencer's pick: Charlotte's in North Carolina by Keith Whitley, 1994
Rachel's pick: Ain't That Lonely Yet by Dwight Yoakam, 1993
Check out Mipso here: http://www.mipsomusic.com
Twangy Chapel Hill duo Blue Cactus joins us this episode before going into studio to record their next album. We start on Reba and end on Carson Daly before moving on to Spencer’s sneaky motivations for choosing Brooks & Dunn and Rachel bragging about being one degree from Kevin Bacon. But we leave with a few unanswered questions...is Neon Moon about a guy in a strip club? And which is the better sport: NASCAR or Swamp Buggy races?
Steph’s pick: Is There Life Out There by Reba McEntire, 1991
Mario’s pick: The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks, 1990
Rachel & Spencer’s pick: Neon Moon by Brooks & Dunn, 1991
Check out Blue Cactus and support their GoFundMe here: https://bluecactusmusic.com/
Veteran arts administrator Aaron Greenwald joins us this week and shares a behind-the-scenes look at Nashville in the late 90s and the art of making music videos. We talk about sweater vests without undershirts, Rachel’s not-so-secret love of demolition derbies, and Sammy Kershaw’s PG13 nickname. It’s sexier than Kenny’s tractor, y’all.
Song #1: It Ain’t Easy Being Me by Chris Knight, 1998
Song #2: She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy by Kenny Chesney, 1999
Song #3: This Kiss by Faith Hill, 1998
Song #4: Maybe Not Tonight by Lorrie Morgan & Sammy Kershaw, 1999
Find out more about Songs for Listening, Aaron's latest project, here: https://www.songsforlistening.com
Who wants to go to Dollywood?! Durham musician and proud mullet man Alex Bingham has offered to be our tour guide for the Great Smoky Mountains’ greatest attraction. We take some wild rides with misheard Dixie Chicks lyrics, spreadsheets about drinking songs, and toxic masculinity that results in violence against jukeboxes.
Alex’s Pick: Fancy by Reba McEntire, 1990
Rachel’s Pick: Bubba Shot the Jukebox by Mark Chesnutt, 1992
Spencer’s Pick: Hypnotize The Moon by Clay Walker, 1995
Find out more about Look Homeward here: http://www.lookhomewardmusic.com/
After a surprise cameo from Rachel's dog, Beau, Durham singer-songwriter Skylar Gudasz joins us to talk about sleepovers soundtracked by 90s country and make road trip plans to Dollywood. Between our ramblings about Chicken Soup for the Soul books and speculating on the future of viral yodeling star Mason Ramsey, we discuss Diamond Rio's accented vocals, Tim McGraw's romantic gestures, and LeAnn Rimes' childhood success.
Rachel's pick - Norma Jean Riley by Diamond Rio, 1991
Skylar's pick - Something Like That by Tim McGraw, 1999
Spencer's pick - Blue by LeAnn Rimes, 1996
Check out Skylar's music and tour dates at http://www.skylargudasz.com/
Durham musician Phil Cook, a Wisconsin native who has embraced the warm weather and culture of the Carolinas, joins us this week to talk about cheese (both culinary and musical) and the distinct differences between black gospel groups and Presbyterian choirs. Phil also shares great stories of witnessing performances of Randy Travis songs both bring bars together and tear them apart. We're pretty sure this episode contains our highest LPM (laughs-per-minute) yet.
Spencer's pick - I’m Gonna Have A Little Talk With Jesus by Randy Travis, 1992
Phil's pick - It's A Great Day To Be Alive by Travis Tritt, 2000
Rachel's pick - I Fell In Love by Carlene Carter, 1990
Check out Phil's music and tour dates at http://www.philcookmusic.com/
Anita & Sandra (She & Her's hosts with the most and OUR friends) teach Rachel & Spencer a little about professional podcasting and Shania Twain. This entire episode is devoted to our country queen of the great white north! We discuss songs from Shania's first three albums and her place as a feminist icon (and anti-capitalist icon?) in country music. As always, we find a way to mention Dolly Parton, Joe Diffie, and Bojangles.
Spencer and Rachel's pick - God Ain't Gonna Getcha for That, 1993
Sandra's pick - Any Many of Mine, 1995
Anita's pick - Man! I Feel Like a Woman, 1997
Check out Sandra and Anita on their podcast She & Her (it's Spencer's fav!) http://www.sheandherradio.com/
Durham singer-songwriter Al Riggs joins us this week and takes us on unexpected tangents about Jimmy Buffett and the best worst vacation spot—Myrtle Beach. We answer the tough questions like “Who is Joe Diffie?” and “Have you ever been to Cook Out?” And somehow Metallica and KISS get a mention. We’re not sure what kind of podcast we are anymore.
Spencer’s Pick: Some Girls Do by Sawyer Brown, 1992
Al’s Pick: Cowboy Take Me Away by The Dixie Chicks, 1999
Rachel’s Pick: I Try to Think About Elvis by Patty Loveless, 1994
Listen to Al Riggs' music online (https://alriggs.bandcamp.com/) and at The Cave in Chapel Hill on February 15.
Allison Hussey, music writer and (former) music editor of our local alt-weekly newspaper Indy Week, joins Rachel and Spencer this week. After we all beg for biscuit sponsorships, blank checks, and Dolly to become our fairy godmother, we get down to business. Rachel proves how little she knows about Seminole and drag history (a crossover that could only ever happen on this podcast). Spencer wonders what the hell Chablis is. Finally, Allison bids adieu to the Carolinas for someplace greener and warmer, i.e. Brooklyn?
Rachel’s Pick: John Anderson’s Straight Tequila Night, 1992
Spencer’s Pick: Jo Dee Messina’s Heads Carolina Tails California, 1996
Allison’s Pick: Dixie Chicks’ Goodbye Earl, 1999
Read Allison's work (and give her a damn job!) here: http://www.huss.works/
"Laugh at my trauma, please." Comedian Erin Terry joins us this week! Erin is the brains and beauty behind Eyes Up Here, a stand-up comedy cartel featuring NC-based Lady Comics. She sips on margaritas (hear the ice clink in the glass around 11:02) and reminiscences about painful teen years. Spencer overshares regarding body hair and Rachel forces everyone to listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks' rendition of 90s country hits.
Erin's pick: I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack, 1999/2000
Rachel's pick: Down at the Twist and Shout by Mary Chapin Carpenter, 1990
Spencer's pick: Did I Shave My Legs for This by Deana Carter, 1996
Follow Eyes Up here and find out when/where you can laugh with some funny ladies: https://www.facebook.com/eyesupherecom/
Grant Emerson of Durham band Delta Rae joins Rachel and Spencer this week. Things get as spicy as a Bojangles Cajun Filet when we discuss our first concerts, meeting music celebrities, and Weekend at Bernie's. Thanks to Durham's Carolina Theatre for hosting us!
Rachel's pick: Callin' Baton Rouge by Garth Brooks, 1993
Grant's pick: Midnight in Montgomery by Alan Jackson, 1991
Spencer's pick: Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die) by Joe Diffie, 1993
Listen to Grant and Delta Rae online: https://www.deltarae.com/
Visit The Carolina Theatre: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/
This week, Spencer and Rachel welcome our first special guest, BJ Barham! BJ is a NC-native who grew up on 90s Country and is the lead singer of the band American Aquarium. We talk BJ's songwriting influences, the important and undeniable link between country music and NASCAR, and Southern gothic murder ballads. This episode is full of some real 'twangers.'
BJ's pick: Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind by Confederate Railroad, 1994
Spencer's pick: Sunday Money by Brooks & Dunn, 1993
Rachel's pick: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia by Reba McEntire, 1991
Check out American Aquarium online (http://www.americanaquarium.com/) and in Raleigh at the Lincoln Theatre on January 25 and 26.
On this inaugural episode of Neon Boots recorded Veteran's Day weekend, Rachel and Spencer discuss the origin of their love for 90s Country and why they decided to spend their free time creating a podcast devoted to the topic. They also ruminate on Billy Ray Cyrus's flowing locks and tight tight jeans.
Rachel's pick: Romeo by Dolly Parton (featuring Mary Chapin Carpenter, Pam Tillis, Kathy Mattea, Tanya Tucker, and Billy Ray Cyrus), 1993
Spencer's pick: Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus, 1992