After a long week of kick ass videos, and several weeks of much needed recovery, we here at Couch by Couchwest wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who really made CXCW a success. Without your videos, your views, and your ongoing commentary on Twitter and Facebook, we’d just be a few folks with a website. This is your festival, not ours, and we hope you had a great time.
We especially want to thank all the musicians that took the time to record videos, cram into strange places, bum cameras from friends – all in the name of CXCW. We’ve watched every single video that was submitted and were fortunate to have to so many great bands willing to give us some of their talent.
Now we ask one more thing of you. If you liked what you heard during the past week, please go buy an album or a shirt or check out a band the next time they’re in your town. Even something as little as “liking” them on Facebook can help them with booking shows. After getting to hear 332 (we think) bands and artists for free, it’s the least we all can do!
Get your A-game ready for 2015 – the 5th annual Couch by Couchwest festival! Five already? They grow up so fast. Sniff. Sniff.
See you next year!
Hey, Amy here. Our colleague Greg has been working 80-90 hour weeks since the end of CXCW, and he has young kids and a wife and two cats and real responsibilities and shit. So, being the nice (and charming and intelligent and beautiful) person that I am, I told him I would write his summary for him. Greg told me that his favorite new artist of the year is Caleb Caudle. Who can blame him for picking Caleb? This song kicks ass.
Second, Greg is the only CXCW staffer I have met in the real world. We had a couple three beers when I was visiting New Orleans in 2011. I know Greg has been a huge fan of American Aquarium for years, so it’s no surprise that he selected BJ Barnham soloing on their new song “Wolves.”
Greg would like to close CXCW 2014 with these parting thoughts: “We’re so glad to see so many of you lovely people here tonight. And we would especially like to welcome all the representatives of Illinois’s law enforcement community that have chosen to join us here in the Palace Hotel Ballroom at this time. We certainly hope you all enjoy the show. And remember, people, that no matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive and survive, they’re still some things that makes us all the same. You. Me. Them. Everybody. Everybody.”
Every year we watch a metric ton of videos and every year there is always one performance that proceeds to blow me away and stand out among all the others. At CXCW 2011 it was Mark Folkrod. At CXCW 2012 it was Tom Savage Trio with “Train Keeps A Rollin.” Last year it was Jonny Burke with “32.50.” What do all those have in common? Well except for the Jonny Burke they are all artists I had never heard of until CXCW (I had seen Jonny open for James McMurtry once). These are performances without expectation, and they are all performances that are about the song….no gimmicks, just great songs. And really that is what makes it all worth it, all the work of putting CXCW on….it all comes into focus when that one magic song and performance graces my eyes and ears.
This year that song was “East Nashville Song About A Train” by Aaron Lee Tasjan. If you haven’t watched it, please watch it below and let your day be greatly improved:
We’ve agreed to only post 2 of our favorite videos, so the other performance I would like to highlight is Drew Gibson “Bright As Gold,” which is one you may have missed as it was posted on Sunday during the mad rush to get all the videos posted. Such a wonderful song, and again, no gimmicks, Drew just let’s the song shine with a great performance that shows the confidence of an artist that demands your attention.
To see some of my other favorite performances, just click the “Matt’s Picks” tag and enjoy. In closing I would like to throw a huge thanks out to all the artists who keep this mad dream going every year. You guys all make it worth it. Peace.
I always hate doing the staff picks because I wish I could just re-post half the videos we receive during the week. There’s so much great stuff it’s hard to trim it down to just a handful of artists without leaving someone out. Last year my picks had a strong Alabama bent; after reviewing what I tagged this year, I seem to be leaning more towards the Nashville artists. We’ll see where next year takes me!
Possibly my favorite video of this year came from Aaron Lee Tasjan. I had heard his name before but knew nothing about him. For some reason this song just stuck with me. Not only did ALT just release a new EP last week, but he’s playing my town this coming week (yay me!).
Check out my Brit Pick tab to see who else I enjoyed this year. Thanks everyone for all the effort you put into your videos. We love seeing the new faces just as much as the familiar ones. See y’all next year!
My inaugural year as a Couch by Couchwest staff member has been a great one. It was an absolute honor for me to be asked onboard with this crew, and, I tell you what, they deserve all the accolades you can give them – there is so much hard work that goes into this labor of love. Additionally, the behind-the-scenes work I’ve done for CXCW has led to some really, really, really (really) wonderful developments in my personal life. So I owe a debt of gratitude to my fellow staffers for that as well as for all the hard work.
But enough of this emotional shit – on to the music!
It’s always good to see old favorites return to the CXCW stage as one of my favorite things about CXCW is the sense of community among those of us who return every year to knock back a few with our friends around the world and enjoy some great music together. I was very happy for one of my favorite CXCW regulars, Daniel Knox, to bring us another of his beautiful piano songs. And I was absolutely delighted to see Afterbirth Monkey return with another fantastically saucy ditty.
And how impressive was the Irish Showcase this year? Creative powerhouse Tony Fitz brought us another fine crop of gems from the Dublin music scene, and you should take the time to check them all out if you haven’t. Tony’s own song, from his upcoming album-with-comic-book, was my favorite of that bunch.
My favorite aspect of CXCW, though, is the new bands who come out and wow us. I, naturally, have a lot of love for the artists I helped bring to the fest this year. I was so pleased to have the good men of Mudlow and their friends play for us this year after being unable to make it happen previously. (They are a great band, and their albums Welcome to Mudlow Country and Sawyer’s Hope are sublime.) And the Dad Horse Experience helped us kick off this year with the passion I have come to know and love from him, along with some top-notch cinematography.
And I’m not sure it was properly appreciated how fortunate we were to have the “King of New Wave Horns”, Ralph Carney film a one-man jam for us this year. There is a lovely quote from Tom Waits, with whom Ralph has worked with regularly through the years, about Ralph: “Ralph’s great… He’s guided by some other source of information. He’s like a broken toy that works better than before it was broken.”
The best part of all of CXCW, though, is coming across great performances that seem to come out of nowhere, like the busking plea from the Gold Hope Duo this year. My favorite surprise gem this year came from Patricia Santos and her unique way with a cello.
A little piece of advice: don’t start a new day job the week after CXCW.
The unofficial CXCW 2014 stats: 332 artists and bands, 405 total videos, 356 total posts, 1054 twitter posts, over 90,000 page views, 24,576 beers, 147 tacos, and one massive, massive hangover that knocked me out for all of Friday. I went through every page and watched every single video twice. I have one thing to conclude: y’all are some talented fuckers.
As a staff we decided to tag the videos that we loved with our names, so look at the tag line for “Amy’s picks.” Given that I had a hard time selecting just a few, I tagged 56 pages as my favorites. That’s 16.8% of all of the videos. I’m comprehensive like that. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites below.
How kick ass was the opening video by Those Crosstown Rivals? Love the starkness of The Dad Horse Experience and Drew Kohl’s twang. Todd Farrell, Jr. kicks ass per usual. Luke Dunkin, Mat D, Jamie Painter, Doc Feldman, Phil Norman, Gabe Wooten, Trace Faulkner, Olds Sleeper, Caleb Caudle, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Jonathan Torgrimsen, James Scott Bullard, Seth Adam, Kent Goolsby, and Seth Gray are among my favorite solo artists. Love the Every Brothers covers by Jesse and Noah and Hannah Fair & Dustin Meadows. I’ve had H.R. Gertner and Natalie Rella’s song stuck in my head for weeks. Bluejay killed it this year, and he was relatively clothed! Absolutely loved the auto-in-motion videos by Manitoba Rock N’ Rolla and Michael Rand and Stag. Other groups that I loved include The Foresters, The Deadfields, Charlie and the Regrets, Wicklow Atwater & The Fallen Flame, Ford Theater Reunion, Twangly Dark, Two Mule Blues, Charming Disaster, The Imperial Fucking Rooster, Glossary, The Bigsbys, and White Chocolate and the Cigarettes. And Skulk, dude, we need to party.
The staff limited ourselves to re-posting two of our very favorite videos, without looking at what the other staff members were posting. I selected an artist that was new to me, and a CXCW stalwart. One of the best parts of CXCW is discovering new artists. How killer is Scott Low? He blew me away with his song, “Blonde or Brown.”
For returning artists, you can’t beat The End Man. Damn! What a killer video. And that sax! There are lots of musical injustices in the world, but one of them surely must be the fact that The End Men aren’t huge. And I have a giant heterosexual girl-crush on drummer Liv.
My favorite part of CXCW is similar to what Mark Kirkland said about what an excellent community we have established. I love that a lot of you (maybe most of you?) have day jobs and that music is a hobby that you love, and you submit videos year after year. The fact that have made so many friends through this little endeavor has made all of the work (and the hangovers) worth it.
And mucho apologies for getting the awards, prizes, and final thoughts completed a little late. OK, a lot late, 7 weeks late? Oy. We’re taking our own slacker ethos a little too far…
The competition was fierce for the Beardliest Beard award. It was so intense that we had to call in an expert. Our homeboy from The Mod Cabin selected Dave Mason who emailed us a couple of beardly photos (we believe that he is the one on the right). Sadly, this is not the same Dave Mason who wrote the 1977 soft rock hit “We Just Disagree.” But the other Dave Mason seems to rock a killer beard too, or at least he did in the 70s.