There are plenty of clubs where you can go see bands around Raleigh, North Carolina. There’s the Brewery over by the N.C. State campus, where the Backsliders made their live record a few years back. Or Humble Pie in the downtown warehouse district. Or the Lakeside Lounge, home to the best jukebox in town.
But the heart of the scene beats in a modest bungalow a few miles east of downtown, at Lakeside co-proprietor Van Alston’s house. Drop in at any hour of the day or night, and there’s no telling who might be trading songs around the kitchen table — visiting out-of-town luminaries such as Alejandro Escovedo and Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, accomplished local songwriters such as Kenny Roby and Chip Robinson, or a choice assortment of various Chicas and Yayhoos.
Chez Alston is also the closest thing Whiskeytown’s Ryan Adams has to a home address in Raleigh nowadays; he generally stays there whenever he visits his former hometown. On a comfortable evening last October, Adams and Alston were entertaining a few visitors in the living room. There was some talk about the baseball game on the television (game six of the National League Championship Series), and Adams’ upcoming first-ever solo tour.
But most of the conversation centered around the PBS “Sessions At West 54th” Gram Parsons tribute program, which had just been recorded in New York City. The show featured an A-list lineup organized by Emmylou Harris and including Victoria Williams, Chris Hillman, Wilco, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, and Whiskeytown. In fact, it opened with Harris and Adams dueting on “Return Of The Grievous Angel”. It’s hard to imagine a bigger honor than singing one of the late Parsons’ signature songs with his original duet partner.
This is an excerpt of the full article which appeared in The Best of No Depression: Writing About American Music, which features 25 of the finest articles from the magazine’s back issues, and was published in 2005 by University of Texas Press to help celebrate the magazine’s 10th anniversary. Due to our agreement with UT Press we are unable to include this article in our online archive.
The Best of No Depression is the only place you can find these articles other than our back issues. Visit the No Depression store to buy your copy for only $10.
The 300-page volume includes co-editor Grant Alden’s award-winning 2001 feature on Billy Joe Shaver, co-editor Peter Blackstock’s 1998 “Artist of the Decade” piece on Alejandro Escovedo, senior editor Bill Friskics-Warren’s 2002 cover story on Johnny Cash, contributing editor Paul Cantin’s deep exploration of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco; and many other high points from our print heyday.
Table of contents for The Best of No Depression:
• Preface, by Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock
• Los Lobos, by Geoffrey Himes
• Alejandro Escovedo, by Peter Blackstock
• Jon Dee Graham, by Peter Blackstock
• Billy Joe Shaver, by Grant Alden
• Ray Wylie Hubbard, by John T. Davis
• Flatlanders, by Don McLeese
• Ray Price, by David Cantwell
• Johnny Gimble, by Bill C. Malone
• Johnny Cash, by Bill Friskics-Warren
• Rosanne Cash, by Lloyd Sachs
• Lucinda Williams, by Silas House
• Buddy & Julie Miller, by Bill Friskics-Warren
• Kasey Chambers, by Geoffrey Himes
• Loretta Lynn, by Barry Mazor
• Patty Loveless, by Bill Friskics-Warren
• Kieran Kane, by Peter Cooper
• Paul Burch, by Jim Ridley
• Hazel Dickens, by Bill Friskics-Warren
• Gillian Welch, by Grant Alden
• Ryan Adams, by David Menconi
• Jay Farrar, by Peter Blackstock
• Jayhawks, by Erik Flannigan
• Wilco, by Paul Cantin
• Drive-By Truckers, by Grant Alden
• Iron & Wine, by William Bowers