Today’s Short Takes comes courtesy of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Dan Spaugy (photo of Dan used with the kind permission of Holding It Still Photography).
To say that Dan is involved in several music projects here in Dayton is to actually under-represent his involvement in the Dayton music community. Dan is in Age Nowhere, Neo American Pioneers and is an often in-demand session player for other musicians’ records. Dan’s guitar work elevates any song her contributes to with his passionate yet deliberate playing style.
We appreciate Dan taking the time out of his busy schedule to share the music that is currently part of his listening journey with us!
Dr. J: What are you listening to right now?
The Wallflowers “Bringing Down The Horse” (1996)
Year after year, usually during the summer months, “Bringing Down the Horse” is a mainstay in my listening rotation. Some of my earliest, most vivid memories were hearing “One Headlight” on pop radio stations and seeing the music video on MTV when I was around 10 years old. Out of all the tunes on mainstream radio, this one always stood out to me- the lyrics, driving beat, and that beautiful whistling-sounding instrument which I would later discover was a Hammond B3 Organ through a Leslie Speaker. I actually still listen to “One Headlight” on a weekly basis and it never loses its luster. In my teenage years while learning guitar I picked up a used copy of this album on CD at CD Connection (Dayton people- remember?). I truly feel that there is not a low moment on this album and every song is great, which is something that cannot be said about many albums. It is safe to say I will continue to praise this as one of the best albums released in my lifetime.
The Black Crowes “Before the Frost…Until the Freeze” (2009)
Recently I was out at a local show (finally!) and I had a conversation with a fellow Crowes fan. I don’t know if I had declared it out loud in the past, but in that moment I made up my mind to answer the loaded age old question that music fans always get- “Who is your favorite band of all time?” Now of course there are the Stones, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Led Zeppelin, but having witnessed over half of the Black Crowes career unfold as a fan, I can safely come to the conclusion that they are my favorite Rock & Roll band of all time. This double album was recorded live at Levon Helm’s barn in Woodstock. The “Before the Frost” section of the album contains all things Crowes – the dual guitar work, Chris Robinson’s howling vocals, some long jams, and a couple of ballads that hit the sweet spot. The second half “…Until the Freeze” showcases the depth of the Crowes musical influences. The songs on this side of the record have a timeless feel and sensibility. I feel that this side of the album was a bit overlooked and would have been a strong contender for Roots/Americana music awards the year it was released. My personal highlight of this album is the track “So Many Times,” which is a cover of a Chris Hillman penned tune for the Stephen Stills “Manassas” project. Chris and Rich deliver an intuitive brother vocal harmony performance that is reminiscent of the Louvin Brothers or Everly Brothers. To top it off, guest multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (Dylan, Phil Lesh, Levon Helm) delivers a beautiful pedal steel performance that sends this track to the next level.
Erika Wennerstrom “Sweet Unknown” (2018)
There are so many great local albums that have come out over the last several years. It would be hard not to leave someone out while writing this blog post so I have selected an album with a Dayton connection that has been in regular rotation. Erica Wennerstrom’s 2018 release “Sweet Unknown” often makes its way into my listening rounds. This album clocks in at almost an hour and nearly every song is over five minutes and all of them are wonderful. That is a lot to be said for me because nowadays albums with that long of a duration usually don’t hold my attention very well. For the guitarist in me this album features some of the most inspiring guitar work that I have heard in recent years. The songs are very atmospheric and contain many sonic layers. It would be a goal of mine to make an album that had a fraction of these elements. Seeing Erika and her band perform at Dayton Music Fest at the Brightside in 2019 was definitely a high point of my concert experiences for that year.
Many thanks to Dan for sharing some of his musical journey with us!
If you would like to contribute to a future Short Takes essay, just let us know at drjytaa on gmail.com! Our contact us through this page. We would love to feature more artists and listeners of Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative!