Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music)
Upon beginning my 2015 Euro tour, I acquired a 2002 Skoda and named it "Chuck Ragan the Car" in honor of Chuck Ragan the man. Chuck's ethos is raw, hard-working & brutally honest and I've always reveled in that. Chuck is also one of the few acts I'd seen in 2015 that didn't use backing tracks live. The man sings it like it is. May Chuck Ragan the car be as immortal as Chuck Ragan the man. Chuck and I met at our Ramones Museum show in Berlin. I traded him an LP for a future sabertooth muskie fishing lesson (and future 1st round draft choice). Chuck, I'd like to invite you to open for me on my next DIY living room tour ;) Have your people call my people.
Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit)
Matt Vasquez once asked me if I had any weed. While I could not be of any assistance on that fateful evening in Madison, I'd like to take this time to punt Matt's work and let you know what a human genius this dude is. A fearless performer who provides swift rock n' roll justice by staring down jabronies who text in the front row of a Delta Spirit show, Matt has just released his first solo EP into the cold harsh universe for everyone's listening enjoyment. Try not to pirate this one, okay?
Frank is a dude who gives hope that road-rugged songwriters can indeed take over the world town by town. The road is fucking hard and discouraging, and Frank Turner is the trailblazer who has weathered the beatings of DIY ethic and proved it's possible. His band has also been fighting the good fight against robots taking over the music industry. While 90% of festival acts struggle to perform their albums without loops, backing tracks, or Mac Books on stage, Frank's band does it all live, displaying iron ballsack in a world of empty ball bags and sackless wonders.
Hutch Harris (The Thermals)
5 years ago, my roommates and I were sipping PBR’s in our college shit-hole, listening to garage rock on the stereo. I plugged in my bands first EP. My punk-savvy roommate told me I sounded exactly like the dude from ‘The Thermals (Saddle Creek Records).’ I said “who is this dude and who are The Thermals?’. Turns out he is Hutch Harris, who has been sounding like me longer than I have been sounding like me. Hutch and I have kept in touch a little bit over the years, swapping a few garage rock tracks here and there. In addition to the occupation of rock n' roll, he is doing standup comedy around Portland. Follow Hutch on the internet. There is no Twitter page that builds Sleater-Kinney shrines & 90's pop culture jokes better.
Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies)
BNL was the first band I ever loved. They are the reason I started working at McDonalds at age 14 so I could buy a guitar. After six months on the fry-o-later, I bought a ghetto 6-string and immediately learned 9 Barenaked Ladies songs. BNL just finished an amphitheater tour with the legendary Violent Femmes. Listening to BNL still reminds me of working at McDonalds and smuggling chocolate milk shakes out of the restaurant via my pants.
My friend Sue Schrader once told me "Newski, you're a young Steve Poltz". Immediately I had to find out who Poltz was. Turns out Poltz is the most famous guy no one's ever heard of. Poltz is 55. Poltz is still crushing the road. Poltz is perhaps more insane than I am. Poltz is now my god damn hero. Poltz 4 life. Listen to Poltz.
Teddy is the godfather of indie rock in my opinion. He's not afraid to be a power-hack on the guitar or scream out-of-key to make a song more genuine. A dude who has always stuck to his guns, he's never let the availability of technology crowd his stage setup with 9 MacBook Pros like neighboring Pitchforkers. Ted has been flying under the radar for the past few years, but look for a fresh TL punk rock onslaught in the near future. Respect.
Adam Duritz (Counting Crows)
Not many dudes champion young bands better than Duritz. He's a man for others & shares his wisdom to the full effect. When I was 8, my dad and I signed up to one of those mail-in record clubs where we obtained "August and Everything After". It's a mighty timeless LP and most baby boomers own at least two copies. In addition to primo pop songwriting, Duritz just looks fucking sweet, rocking a 70's ABA afro that makes Julius Erving look like a semi-pro.
Sean Bonnette (Andrew Jackson Jihad)
Sean is the bravest songwriter I know. The guy will sing about anything, from making fun of his own depression to contracting an STD. AJJ is a fearless band and the most medicinal of all music. They deserve massive success no matter how much they try to avoid it. Sean and I have run into each other a few times on tour and he is a kind sweet dude for putting up with all my annoying power hugs. Check out their latest album Christmas Island via Side One Dummy Records.
I've always been a huge fan of "singers who can't sing". Ezra's raw and wobbly voice is just that. He wouldn't make it past the security guard on American Idol, but his songs are undeniable and his voice cuts thru you like no polished pop Idol chump ever could. His first record "Banging down the Doors" changed my life. He wrote that shit when he was 17. (High respect to Matt Gerding at the Majestic in Madison for letting me steal his copy of it.) Check out Ezra's latest LP, "Perpetual Motion People" via Bella Union.