Jesse Hammock
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Jesse Hammock

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By: Dennis Cook
When most people invoke Lynyrd Skynyrd it's usually a semi-derogatory allusion to misunderstood clichés surrounding the landmark Southern rock pioneers. Spend time inside the five Ronnie Van Zant led albums released between 1973-1977 (as well as 1976's barnstorming double live record, One From The Road) and you'll discover a group that understands the inner workings of blues, country and rock, and expresses their knowledge with lovingly tangled combinations – great American music picked up at grandpa's knee, along dirt roads and inside minimum wage jobs. Powder Mill reminds one a LOT of Skynyrd in their early scratching-to-make-a-name days, overflowing with ideas, unabashedly Southern and serving up something as satisfying as cornbread & honey butter.

Led by Jesse Charles Hammock II (Shady Deal), Powder Mill is Mike Cooley rough and Jason Isbell tender, musical kin to the Drive-By Truckers family while welcoming in vintage flavors closer to Black Oak Arkansas and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, particularly in Powder Mill's incorporation of mountain folk elements like weeping, whipping violin. There's tons of invigorating foot stomp and nifty lil' touches that show all the smart whittling that's gone into this album. For as rangy and rowdy as their debut, New Mountain, gets there remains a real mix of moods and approaches, the band showing as much facility with acoustic lightness as they do with nasty boogies – a bit like those Skynyrd boys.

In the end, this sort of Southern rock isn't likely to reinvent much, so it's down to the quality of the playing and material, both of which are stellar on New Mountain. Your fave cut might be bouncing love letter "Baby Yo Man," road sing-along "Overpass," gnarly, amp-shaking opener "New Mountain" or plain ol' nasty "Meth Lab Blues" (which gets extra points for being credited as a "Traditional"). Or maybe like me, you'll find yourself just hitting repeat so you can let the whole enjoyable shebang bounce around the room without worrying too much about hierarchies. However, do keep an ear out for whatever Powder Mill does next. One suspects they're only going to flourish as they keep at it.




http://www.myspace.com/powdermillmusic

[Published on: 1/27/09] - Jambase-Dennis Cook


Album of the Month:
Shady Deal: The Ringer (self-released)
This is as good a pure rock record as anyone has put out in the past 20 years. Sound too loaded, too puffed up? Well, one should listen to the call-to-arms from wise, perpetually cool producer Jim Dickinson, who declares in the liner notes, "Listen to the words. They come alive and tell a story. World Boogie is coming!" Sure, Shady Deal is just three steps away from Lynyrd Skynyrd and they've clearly dined on Widespread's "Ribs And Whiskey" but these boys have also wolfed down some Goat's Head Soup and the nastier end of a Black Crowe or two. Without reservation, I can tell you if you like smart, wild-eyed southern boys, well The Ringer will twist your head like homebrew off the lips of a curvaceous belle. Lead singer-guitarist Jesse Charles Hammock belts 'em out with the pugnacious, yet oddly tender roar of a man gut shot and heart sore while the supremely tasty band behind him moves between back country acoustic blues and Motorhead heavy, balls out rock 'n' roll. It's the kind of range and fluidity one associates with the first half dozen Rod Stewart albums, where Ronnie Wood, Nicky Hopkins and the rest of the lads had their way with folk, blues and rock in a most salacious and sincere way. There's so many great moments on The Ringer I hesitate to even start listing them but I will say opener "Faulker" is as honest a picture of working class life as anyone has mustered, and "Skinny Goat" sounds so authentically dusty it could be an ancient 78 record. Their lyrical bent (and I use the word specifically) pairs lines like "Let's drag the pine box across the floor/ Take 'er on down to the Devil's door" with a brilliant non sequitur like "You belong in a magazine/ You belong in a magazine!" They can also play it straight, telling stories that will split you open a little or offering hooks that could sell more beer than Nascar. And they wrap the whole thing up with a cover of "Hurricane," a tune they probably picked up from Levon Helm's American Son, showing the depths of their pedigree. Shady Deal has long been a good band, The Ringer shows signs they might be a great one.


http://www.jambase.com/Articles/Story.aspx?StoryID=12984
- Jam Base-Dennis Cook


A rousingly/furiously presented mix is represented on this debut-CD by the band from Missouri formed around Jeff Chapman and Jesse Charls Hammock II (both lead vocals and lead-guitar): New Mountain races off like "Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Alligator Stew," and Highway Robbery is also, not incidentally, reminiscent of the band around the ex-frontman Gary Jeffries. The acoustic piece Overpass would have been splendidly becoming for Dan Baird and the Georgia Satellites; Darkness Of The Sun, with its numerous little guitar and (?)fiddle fillers and its swift rhythm, is even reminiscent of the Marshall Tucker Band in its best times.

Most excellent Swamp Blues is Baby Yo Man; Whose Hands comes along banging and thumping like Hogjaw on their Devil In The Details CD—and Ozark Girl, merely accompanied by acoustic guitar, really rocks off, despite its sparse arrangement!

How Far We've Come surprises with its musical relation to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Mississippi Kid—and What You Are To Me hits exactly the same spot that the Georgia Satellites and the Kentucky Headhunters have repeatedly worked at with simple Rock'n Roll Songs.

Meth Lab Blues is another Swamp Blues a la/in the vein of "early" Alligator Stew—The Devil And New Orleans [is] an acoustic roots piece about the hurricane Katrina catastrophe in Louisiana. There remains then Heaven Help Us, the CD's hardest song, a la "Hogjaw meets Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society;" its brutal riff virtually eats into one's ear canal.

Besides the wide musical range, the [album's] production convinces, which is adjusted to each individual song, be it an acoustic or a fully instrumentalized, rocking number!
- Southern-rock.de


Phantom riders patrol the darkness, sabers drawn. Chainsaw guitars scream in the night and church organ moans like a fat country girl in love. Drums thunder-roll like the circus from hell is coming to town. Sounds echo like two fright trains trapped in the same tunnel, running head- on for Doom's Day. Trembling in their ancient graves, the Confederate Dead lie restless for Revelations' final conflict.


Somebody pour another drink for Wild Bill.
The night is young
The odds are high
The dice is loaded, and
So am I.


Listen to the words. They come alive and tell a story.


World Boogie is coming!


Jim Dickinson
Independence, Mississippi
October 13, 2006
- Jim Dickinson


Discography

The Lift, Produced by Jim Dickinson (Shady Deal)-2004
The Ringer, Produced by Jim Dickinson (Shady Deal)-2006
New Mountain (Powder Mill)-2008

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Bio

Jesse Charles Hammock II was born in the bootheel of Missouri in 1981. His earliest memories were of his grandpa playing Hank Williams songs on the guitar and flat picking the banjo for the rest of the family at Christmas. These early country influences would have an impact on Jesse's music although he never picked up a guitar untill he was 19 years of age. At the age of 19, Jesse drove his pickup truck into a two story tattoo parlor in downtown Cape Giradeau, Missouri where he was supposed to be attending college. After fleeing the scene and staying on the lamb for several hours after causing nearly $50,000 in damages, he was later arrested and eventually charged with a long list of offenses. Knowing that he would not be leaving his home due to court orders and probation guidelines he asked his ma to bring the old guitar that was in her basement to his house next time she came to town. Always trying to look on the sunnier side of times, Jesse said, "Everything seems to happen for a reason, and I think running into that building was one of the greater events in my life. If someone had said I was down about it, they damn sure told it wrong."

After a year of steady employment(without ever cashing a check due to payments toward damages) and practicing that old guitar. He formed his first band Shady Deal with Jake Curtis, Austin Marshall, and Mason Watkins. The 4-piece moved to Oxford, Mississippi to embrace the flourishing music scene and the deep rooted blues that came from the Delta. The band toured the I-55 circuit and gained recognition from Columbia, MO to New Orleans, LA picking up their fifth member and keyboard player, James Pendley.

Jesse was then introduced to Jim Dickinson(North Mississippi All-Stars, Ry Cooder, Rolling Stones, John Hiatt, Bob Dylan, Big Star-to name a few) by Bob Camp, a mutual friend and troubador. Dickinson then produced Shady Deal's first record, "The Lift". With the release of their debut album, momentum began to build and the band was soon signed up by an agency that took them from coast to coast playing their music. Along the way they shared the stage with the Black Crowes, North Mississippi All-Stars, Shooter Jennings, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and countless others.

When the touring would break, they put out their critically acclaimed second album entitled "The Ringer" also produced by Dickinson at his Zebra Ranch studios. The band continued to tour behind their new record but the road began to take its toll. The group finally agreed to step away from the road for an extended period, while each member pursued other interests. Jesse went back home to Missouri to record his first solo record at Trumble Hill Studios in Carter County. Long time friend Jeff Chapman got the nod to produce the process. Jesse enlisted his cousin Andrew Bedell to play drums, and long time friend Pat McSpadden to play bass. The record took on a whole new life as it turned into a group effort with each player putting forth their own style. Jesse decided the project needed to be a band effort and Powder Mill was spawned from the depths of the Ozark woods. Powder Mill released their first album, "New Mountain" in 2008 and it has been received by critics, new listeners, as well as Shady Deal fans. Album sales and recognition in parts of Europe also came as a pleasant suprise.

Powder Mill is currently working on their follow up album, "Do Not Go Gentle" due to hit stores in the summer of 2009. The band embraces its southern rock roots but as Jesse will tell you, "The stories within the songs are definitely country stories cause thats who we are....country people." It is not hard to tell Jesse Charles has not strayed far from those days as young un' watching his grandpa pick, and I personally look forward to seeing where he goes next.

Vincent Clarkson, 2008