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Monday, February 22, 2010

We're Large and in Charge, and in the "Studio"


Studio = bedroom


Large and in charge = twins due in June

That's pretty much why we've been laying low, and will be for awhile! The second part is self-explanatory and will necessitate us being out of commission until god knows when--hopefully just August. The first part can use some more explaining, which is that we've been working with our friend Dylan on a new record! Dylan also is an SF expat living in PDX; he runs Badman Recordings and is a great base stealer on our softball team.

The new record is all songs that came from the same place as "Walking Papers," on our last record, Silver Dollars: Our friend Robbyn's grandfather, Elmer, a former nighttime security guard in Kansas, left her a suitcase full of lyrics when he died, and Jen has been writing music to go with them, ala Wilco/Billy Bragg's Mermaid Ave. We recorded some basic tracks in the studio with Dylan and some crack players up here in PDX; now we're adding overdubs and doing other fun stuff at home. Look for the record to be done in the next couple months (see above, re: second reason for being out of commission). We will for sure spread the news when it's ready.

And speaking of recordings, Dirty Linen recently gave our second record, Silver Dollars, a very nice review:

Axton Kincaid Silver Dollars [Free Dirt DIRT-CD-0057 (2008)]

Like the Meat Purveyors and Freakwater before them, San Francisco’s Axton Kincaid tramples over the same footpath on which country, folk, Americana, and bluegrass intertwine without much distinction. Jennifer Daunt’s mandolin playing and Kate Howser’s cheery, hearty vocals form the foundation of AK’s airy, acoustic sound, which includes some fiddle and steel guitar in the arrangements.

Several tunes, like “We Should Be Drinking,” in which the last verse finds every reveler in the whole damn joint warbling away, and the self-explanatory “I Don’t Need to Wear a Hat (To Prove I’m Country),” are simply buckets of fun. A few more — like the infectious opening track where a protagonist gives up and turns to the bottle — are more serious, but never maudlin, due to the tuneful melodies and arrangements. They put a refreshing spin on “Long Black Veil,” kicking it up a few notches instead of typically heard mournful, faux-Celtic ballad, while “Let the World Go By” has a spaghetti-western motif. Fun stuff that holds up well. (DW)
posted by axton kincaid #

Thursday, February 05, 2009

We Did Not Pay This Reviewer to Say These Nice Things

Behold, a review of the new record on

"In 2007, Axton Kincaid garnered critical acclaim for its authentic, unaffected alt-country from NPR and several publications and media outlets around the world. Songs from the Pine Room‘s “Red Lights” and “Who’s Gonna Pour My Whiskey When You’re Gone?” were popular hits on international radio and blogs. Now, the band returns with Silver Dollars and continues the exploration and integration of roots music into its own brand of modern Americana.

“The Saddest Story” kicks things off with a sunny sound that, as in all the best songs, belies the dark heartbreak of its lyrics (a friend falling victim to his demons and drinking). Jennifer Daunt’s jaunty mandolin and Katy Rexford’s fiery fiddle punctuate a sprightly rhythm, courtesy of bassist Ryan Waggoner and drummer Jon Fojtik, and the warm harmonies of Daunt and Waggoner’s voices mingle with Kate Howser’s, almost making you forget the sorrowful subject.

“Walking Papers”, a classic country ballad with just a hint of swing, again counters the lyrical theme with an irresistibly upbeat arrangement. “Can’t you see dear / I want you only / I want to spend my life with you / Not sad and lonely / Let me come back to you / Don’t make me feel so blue / Take back those walking papers” The track transcends time, as it could have been a hit for Patsy Cline. It’s easy to imagine Howser had Cline in mind as she sang.

Kate Howser’s vocals are the natural focal point of Silver Dollars, and the title track highlights her tough-yet-tender voice coupled with a somber fiddle performance from Rexford; later Daunt provides a magnificently mournful harmonica solo. While “Silver Dollars” has an undeniably burnished beauty, the best song on the album arguably follows it.

“We Should Be Drinking” is the perfect song for, well, drinking. It features The Whoreshoes’ Camilla Lincoln on piano; a nod to Buddy Holly; a shuffling, boisterous beat; and a sing-along chorus the band gleefully embraces: “We should be drinking / Let’s find the nearest bar / It may not be close /But I tell you what / It sure can’t be far / We should be drinking / We ain’t got much time / And I’ve got more than just the troubles on my mind.”

The band changes direction for the lonesome cowboy shuffle of “Let the World Go By.” Sung—and whistled—by Waggoner, the song is perfected by pedal steel (played by Mac Martine) and a melancholy refrain:

"Some days are just lonely days / Some days it just rains / Some days are just lonely days / And they don't bring nothin' but pain / And in those times, you know I find / It just don't pay to cry / Just lie in the shade, have a drink / And let the world go by"

“Let the World Go By” abruptly gives way to a rather raucous re-working of the traditional “Long Black Veil” sung with Howser on lead. Although not as affecting as the band’s somber, sorrowful take on the Stone Roses hit “I Wanna Be Adored” from last year’s Songs from the Pine Room, it affirms as an impressive and a worthy addition.

“I Don’t Need To Wear a Hat (To Prove I’m Country)” proves to be as equally impressive, ending the album on a high and humorous note. Each member of Axton Kincaid takes turns telling what doesn’t mark his or her authenticity, “I don’t need no Nudie suit to prove I’m country / I don’t need no rhinestones that shine / I don’t need no Achy Breaky to dance all night long / But I sure as heck will walk the line!”

Axton Kincaid switches things up several times across this album by incorporating California country-rock and Kentucky bluegrass while evoking Nashville new and old and never worrying about whether these elements are meant to mix. The band reveres tradition, not convention, and Silver Dollars shines because of it."--Christel Loar

posted by axton kincaid #

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Back As Promised

Already back! How's that for a New Year's resolution, eh?

So here's a roundup of some recent reviews of our new CD,
Silver Dollars. More on the way!:

One of the writers at included us in his Top 10 of 2008 list:
"Portland/San Francisco-based band Axton Kincaid is tough to classify. The band’s vocals have the charming self-awareness that characterizes modern indie folk, they flirt with old-timey harmonies, they play honky-tonk tunes, and they have some really smart rock arrangements. No slouches in the songwriting department either, the band gives us more than a few great ones on this record. But I think what I like the most about Silver Dollars is how new and modern it sounds; that and how excited Axton Kincaid seem to be playing their music. This is smart, often very touching, but always really pleasing and engaging country music. I really dig it and can’t wait to here what they do next."
We also got mentioned as one of Ten More Great Americana CDs from 2008 on
Fratrain's blog:
"A fine little San Francisco band, hip Americana with nice harmonies. Recommended!"
If you speak Dutch, you can read what the Belgians think of the new record from the horse's mouth at
ROOTSTIME. For the rest of us, here's a Google-ized translation, with a few editorial/translating tweaks to avoid giving you fits of laughter:

"The driving force of the formation of Axton Kincaid from San Franciscio is lead singer Kate Howser, who usually writes the songs for the CDs of her group. In the first half of 2007, they released their debut album, “Songs from the Pine Room” which also received positive reviews. Following that album, they shared the stage with Camper Van Beethoven, The Mother Truckers and Eileen Jewell. It was singer Kate who personally told us that the 12 new songs of the successor, “Silver Dollars,” were inspired by the country rock songs from the seventies and the classic Nashville sound.

Kate Howser and Jennifer Daunt (vocals and mandolin) have played together in various bands in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bassist Ryan Wagoner provides multiple songs for some extra vocal support and he also co-wrote four songs, including the smooth and swinging country duet “Spend Some Time with Me.”’

Inspiration for the songs on “Silver Dollars” are a bad childhood, divorce, and the fun and less pleasant moments in life. Axton Kincaid also do a contemporary version of the song “Long Black Veil,” the story of a murder suspect who refuses to be an alibi because at the time of the murder he was in the arms of his best friend’s wife. He takes this secret to his grave and the woman is in mourning. The original song dates from 1959 and comes from the songbook of country legend Left Frizzell. Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Marianne Faithfull, Joni Mitchell, Nick Cave, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen had previously discovered this song and recorded their own versions. It should, however, be said that in this list of great cover versions, this version by Axton Kincaid should be included.

The listening of the album “Silver Dollars” includes a list of memorable songs susceptible to repetition: “The Saddest Story,” about a friend who no longer likes like the bottle, “Empty Houses,” ”Spend Some Time with Me,” “Long Black Veil,” the pedal steel ballads “The Narrows” and “Hey Donna” and the concluding Irish drunk sound song, “I Don’t Need to Wear a Hat (to Prove I’m Country), in which Kate Howser makes us believe that Kirsty McColl is still alive. Axton Kincaid remain at all times faithful to their own style in the songs on this beautiful disc." (valsam)
Can You See the Sunset from the South Side made "Walking Papers" and "We Should Be Drinking" featured tracks:
Silver Dollars is the second album from Axton Kincaid, whose traditional country rock meets bluegrass sound and three-part harmonies is colored by shades of modern West Coast indie rock. The Dixie Chicks meets Centro-matic with an arsenal of fiddles, pedal steel, and harmonicas in tow."
posted by axton kincaid #

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year from AK!

One of our New Year's resolutions is to update this blog more often. We have a few new reviews of Silver Dollars to post. We even made some Best of 2008 lists! But first, some hair of the dog.

Here's wishing you all a happy, healthy and fruitful 2009.

Jen, Jon, Ryan, Kate and Mac
posted by axton kincaid #

Monday, December 01, 2008

Silver Dollars on Lithium!

...Radio, that is:

"This album reminds me of those Sunday afternoons when I was a little kid sitting in church (Southern Baptist) with my mother listening to the “choir” sing those old Hymns. The tracks aren’t Hymns or inspirational in that way but they have that same feel.

Besides Hank III I haven’t the modern bands that I’ve heard do classic (or traditional) country I haven’t really liked too much, but I’ve always said that energy and passion will come across on a record and will make it so much better and that’s what we have here, Axton Kincaid put every ounce they have to give into Silver Dollars.

Like a lot of country music, this album is perfect for sitting around drinking (vodka shots?) and smoking cigarettes. From the pit-falls of alcoholism (The Saddest Story) to bar hopping (We Should Be Drinking), that one just screams “pour me a drink”. But that’s not all the album is about, there’s almost every aspect of life’s highs and lows sung with the passions of someone who’s lived through the the things they’re singing about.

In short, a good album by a talented band, everybody who considers themselves an open minded music fan should at least give these guys a listen."

posted by axton kincaid #

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It is raining here in Portland. That is all.
posted by axton kincaid #

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Another Review, in Which Our Dirty Little Secret Is Revealed...

3rd Coast Music has discovered something about us we had been planning on telling you ourselves. It's just, things move so fast, you know? You promise yourself you'll come clean and then keep waiting for that perfect moment. Well now we know that perfect moment never comes. If we could, we'd go back in time and do it all different. Because it's true, and we wish we could have told you in person...we are lesbian vampires!!!

"Joan Baez's version of
Long Black Veil (In Concert Pt 2, 1963) was unsettling and not in a good way, t he song just flat didnt' work for a female singer, unless "I had been in the arms of my best friend's wife" was intended to be a rather bizarre subversive lesbian statement. However, though the Lefty classic has been recorded by, among others, Marianne Faithful, Hazel Dickens, Joni Mitchell and Sammi Smith, 45 years later, it still doesn't work for Axton Kincaid's Kate Howser.

That apart, there's lots to love about Howser's quintet, formed in the Bay Area now based in Portland, OR, none of whom are called Axton or Kincaid, and one of whom, steel guitarist Mac Martine only plays on three tracks. The three part harmonies iwth Jennifer Daunt (electric guitar, mandolin) and Ryan Waggoner (bass) are just gorgeous and the original songs, mostly by Howser solo or in combo with some or all of the band, are almost unnecessarily good for a band with such a great, fluid, unfussy ensemble sound (what's more, you can hear the words clear as a bell).

Howser and Daunt's background is playing together in various no name Bay Area indie rock bands [ed note: ouch!], Waggoner and drummer Jon Fojtik played together in Fojtik's father's rural Michigan wedding band, which seems a rather unlikely combination for what started out as more bluegrass (
Songs from the Pine Room, Free Dirt, 2007), but has evolved into country.

It's easy to make fun of not-kids-anymore who think they can transition from indie or punk to country, as the results are so often glaringly awful, neither fish nor fowl, but it has to be said that occasionally some of them pull it off, bringing fresh approaches and sensibilities to the genre without trying to reinvent it.

I've just learned from Howser that Axton is a homage to Hoyt Axton and Kincaid "would've been my dream name for a kid, but instead it became a band name." On minor oddity about the group is that they seem very camera-shy. I'm not asking for a fold-out poster, but there are no pix on the CD and a few very small ones on the website. Well, that's different, I guess."
posted by axton kincaid #

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