There is a bloodline that stretches from Hank Williams to Merle Haggard to The Clash to Bad Religion. It goes straight from Johnny Cash to Vinnie Stigma to Motorhead. If you can’t hear that line, you are deaf. If you can’t see the difference, you are right. There IS no difference. Punk and country are tighter than three coats of paint. They are blood.
Social Distortion will lead you to Buck Owens. Bobby Bare will take you to The Dead Boys. Dwight Yoakam will get you to the Meat Puppets, and Bruce Springsteen will bring you straight to the shaved head and laced-up combat boots of Tim Steinfort.
Steinfort is the lead singer for a Dutch Oi! street punk band called Discharger. (Sample CD title: Our Hate Is Justified.) He has the requisite guttural voice for such a vocation. He sounds like he drinks diesel fuel and smokes P12 sandpaper. Like his trachea got perforated with a turntable needle. At times, he almost sounds like a demonic Gordon Lightfoot. He’s ragged, but he’s right.
Steinfort kicks off his debut solo CD with the title track, a heartfelt wish for cleansing the world:
And the clouds and heavens above, they won’t stop crying
And judgment day will come, there’s no denying
The exploited shall know benefit and justice will be done
I’ll wait for the rain to come.
As powerful as that is, it’s the thin end of the wedge. He follows it with nine more stunners about domestic violence, drinking, death row, poverty, drinking, old friends, drinking—and every one of them hits the bullseye. All hills, no valleys.
‘At Least I’m Being Honest’ could have come straight out of Sun Studios in 1955. ‘In The Gutter’ is a wistful sing-along that takes its melodic cue from Johnny Cash’s ‘Like A Soldier’. ‘One More Round’ celebrates the good old days, but knows we’re all circling the drain. Never has resignation sounded so good. And in the midst of all this is a bone solid cover of Ryan Bingham’s ‘The Weary Kind’.
This One’s For Us’, however, is the coup-de-grace. Every line cuts to the quick. It makes me want to stand on a table, sing at the top of my lungs, and spill a pint:
For the ones that always stood their ground
For those who spoke when no one made a sound
For the ones that fought till the end
For the ones that died with empty hands
For the ones that made it for so far
For those who are real proud of every scar
For the ones that probably die young
You’re my inspiration for this song
For the ones that still stand proud
For the ones that never ever had a doubt
For the ones like you and me
This one’s for us
On When The Rain Falls, Tim Steinfort sings working class folk music for working class folks. Anthems for the down and out, the stepped on, and the forgotten. What life is like for the other 99%. This is not music to play in the background. It’s meant to throttle you into paying attention.
It’s spare and rudimentary: guitar, drums, harmonica. It’s not about virtuosity or perfect pitch or ProTools. It’s punk Kristofferson good. It’s about sweating out the truth, leaving your heart pumping at your feet.
It’s about the bloodline.
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Michael Franklin is the Media & Reserves Specialist at Western Kentucky University’s Visual & Performing Arts Library (VPAL). Michael is also a professional musician and sound engineer. He is currently recording his 6th CD with his best friends Screenlast 6.0 and Audacity Sourceforge. He thinks Iggy Pop is the greatest singer in the history of music. If you disagree, you’re wrong. You better ask somebody.
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