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Brighter Than Creation's Dark
March 14, 2011 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Wes Freed (some images NSFW) is a painter who combines Southern gothic subject matter with an outsider art style. He's best known for his work with the great Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers and has designed most of their album covers, posters, and merchandise.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (27 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
My favorite piece of Wes Freed artwork is almost impossible to find on the web. It's this DBTs shirt and features some sort of winged bird demon thing on a motorcycle. I'm not sure if it was only for their Aussie tour
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:38 PM on March 14, 2011


Great great great. Found a Christmas present for my brother already. Freed did the art for The Shiners too. They're one of my favorite bands.
posted by marxchivist at 7:52 PM on March 14, 2011


Freed is the band (The Shiners) too!
posted by marxchivist at 7:52 PM on March 14, 2011


wow, i did not know that. I need to check them out!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:53 PM on March 14, 2011


Wes is a great guy. And his wife Jill is a great gal. He designed a tattoo for my wife a couple of years ago. She had decided on a design that we agreed was kinda Freed-ish and she was at a loss to find someone to draw it. I said, why not ask the man himself? Worst he can do is say no. So she sent him an email describing what she wanted, he thought it was great, and a few weeks later we received an impossibly heavy package from Wes & Jill -- he'd not only drawn the tattoo (it's gorgeous and punk as fuck) but framed it in a hand-painted frame of weathered 2x4s. Now it has pride of place on our wall and on my wife's arm. We still exchange holiday cards with the Freeds. They're good people.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:14 PM on March 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


Your favorite band sucks is actually really, really awesome :) Saw DBT in SF last spring and they were an unstoppable rock n' roll machine...

Thanks for this!
posted by ducky l'orange at 8:15 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exceptional. I love Drive-By Truckers, and have often stopped to admire their album covers when putting on a disk; but somehow I never looked into the artist. Now I know.
posted by steambadger at 8:15 PM on March 14, 2011


I (or someone who's actually from the South?) should do a proper DBTs post soon. I saw them with Booker T and they utterly blew him away. One of the best live bands I've ever seen. Their records are great too.
Former member Jason Isbell is also putting out some great stuff
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:19 PM on March 14, 2011


I've been meaning to investigate the DBTs after having them recommended to me and hearing one song of theirs on a sampler recently. Just glancing at the front page of Freed's web site and reading this thread is making me very enthusiastic about the idea.
posted by immlass at 8:24 PM on March 14, 2011


I've been meaning to investigate the DBTs after having them recommended to me and hearing one song of theirs on a sampler recently. Just glancing at the front page of Freed's web site and reading this thread is making me very enthusiastic about the idea.

They've got two main songwriters (used to have three) and their albums are a bit too overstuffed, so if you don't like what you hear listen to another track. Southern Rock Opera is probably their best known album, but every one has some gems. 'Vegas' and 'Righteous Path' off the last album were great.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:28 PM on March 14, 2011


I could clog this thread with DBT stories. I've been a fan since Pat and Mike were in a band called Adam's House Cat. I've seen them play for six people in grotty little rock clubs with a $5 cover charge and I've seen them play for six thousand people.

They are, without question, one of the very best live bands you will ever see. Especially if you catch a bottle show -- a fifth of Jack Daniels is opened mid-set and they pass it around and play until it's empty. These shows usually wind up with roadies playing Pat's guitar while he howls Jim Carroll's "People Who Died" and Springsteen's "State Trooper" into the mic like he's single-handedly trying to save our souls.

And if you can listen to "Wonen Without Whiskey" without getting misty, especially after a couple of drinks, well, then you have a heart of granite.

I'm about the same age as these guys, maybe a couple of years older, and from the same part of the world. I deeply, deeply GET where they're coming from: the shame and pride of being Southern, the push and pull of hating your history and still loving your land, the release of hearing Black Flag as a kid and the comfort of still loving George Jones. Their music is kinda telling my story, too, and I'm so proud that the best goddamn rock band on the planet is from the great state of Alabama.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:39 PM on March 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


Oh, I should also mention that their records don't do them justice. They're a LIVE BAND. And they allow taping, so go to archive.org and search for 'em. There's tons of clean soundboard mixes posted there.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:41 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I could clog this thread with DBT stories.

Please do!
I grew up in Connecticut. I've talked to maybe 4 Southerners in my life (and two of them were Jason Isbell and Justin Townes Earle). So the 'Southern' songs DBTs do are interesting because they show me a world I've got very little experience with, though the emotions they sing about are universal. 'Zip City' is a good one for that.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:43 PM on March 14, 2011


Lovecraft, they're from my neck of the woods in the Shoals area.

If I may be so bold as to pimp a Facebook connection, check out ...

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/famestudios

FAME studios is run by a high school class mate of mine and a good guy. TONS of music history there that you will enjoy and I guarantee you will enjoy the FB posts he makes for music, photos, history, etc.
posted by insulglass at 9:16 PM on March 14, 2011


I just saw the Truckers on Wednesday and Thursday night here in the Pacific Northwest. I've been listening to them for about three or so years now and this was the first time I've had the opportunity to see them live. Their records are fucking great, but I had always heard that on stage is where they really shined. And goddammit was that true, and then some. It's surprising that I still have a face left, because those boys and that pretty lady did their damnedest to rock it clean off. On Wednesday in Eugene they played for close to two hours and were simply amazing. I love me some Mike Cooley and seem to gravitate to his songs the most. He played a bunch of my favorite songs and Patterson was no slouch either with his song selection. I was pumped for the next night.

And fucking-a did they deliver on Thursday in Portland. The venue was packed beyond belief and the crowd was jacked. I was hoping for another stellar night and more than got my wish. The night's festivities included the bottle of Jack that BitterOldPunk mentioned above and the Truckers played for well over two hours. Who does that anymore? Seemingly only jam bands, and at twice the ticket price for the most part. Anyhow, I got a bunch more Cooley songs, including Marry Me, one of my favorite Cooley songs. Of course, I also got Zip City two nights in a row, which made me happier than a pig in shit. Speaking of which, over the course of two nights and over four hours of music, DBT only repeated about 7 or 8 songs. Pretty fucking impressive, and the ones that they repeated were mainly off the new record they're touring on.

If you can't tell by now, I would heartily recommend to anyone that they go see the Truckers when they're in your neck of the woods if you like rock music at all. They can rock the fuck out and their story songs are some of the best in the business. But they can also cool it down and bring some sweet country at the same time In a just world, these folks would be fucking famous and not have to worry about supporting their families. So, go see some live music and support one of the best bands in the world. Hey BitterOldPunk, you should check out this recording on archive.org. It's the Truckers acoustic, recorded at Cooley's house round Christmas of 2003. Just friends and family, sitting around playing some tunes and drinking some beers. Awesome stuff.

And to keep this somewhat on topic, I love that they have a consistent art style across most of their records. You can pick out one of their records from across the room, and Wes Freed's grimy style fits the Trucker's tales of crime and booze and betrayal to a tee. Thanks for the link Lovecraft, I'm obviously interested in the subject matter.

ps--go see the Truckers and support awesome live music!
posted by friendlyjuan at 9:39 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey! I know Wes's wife since ages and ages ago! so YAY!
posted by mwhybark at 9:57 PM on March 14, 2011


And BoP, I missed the DBT show here recently due to me being LAME. and OLD.
posted by mwhybark at 9:58 PM on March 14, 2011


I saw the DBTs at the Fillmore a couple of weeks ago. Holy shit. Two and a half full hours. Who the hell plays a seven song encore? Especially after 23 songs. Patterson Hood sweat through his shirt just during the encore, for crying out loud. (He changed to a dry one after the main set.)

I'd appreciated them on record -- Decoration Day is a desert island disc for me -- but I'd never really appreciated how asskicking they were musically. Like, they have good songs and brilliant lyrics (especially the Cooley ones, like Self Destructive Zones), but I'd never stopped to really notice how holy-shit-good those guys are as musicians.

And to head towards the main topic, the stage was really nicely flanked by a pair of giant bird-dragon Wes Freed banners that evoked stained glass. Absolutely awesome.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:56 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk: "Oh, I should also mention that their records don't do them justice. They're a LIVE BAND. And they allow taping, so go to archive.org and search for 'em. There's tons of clean soundboard mixes posted there."

If the only song they ever recorded was "Sinkhole", I'd say their work on this planet is done. That recording is all kinds of kick-ass.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:59 PM on March 14, 2011


Great post. Let there be more DBT stories! :D
posted by snwod at 1:26 AM on March 15, 2011


Futher evidence that this is the right place to virtually be: On the way to work this morning, driving through the fog in northumberland, I was listening to "Dirty South" and was marvelling at how much of a beautiful song Danko/Manuel is.

Get into work and see this, of all things.

Thanks for this post. Didn't know who the artist was, and know that I know the day has begun on a decent note.

Gratitude.
posted by Hickeystudio at 2:03 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


DBT. The only band I ever bothered to put their sticker on my car.
posted by zzazazz at 5:35 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since my friend zzazazz won't self-link to his Flickr page pictures of DBT, I will.
posted by marxchivist at 6:10 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I love the Freeds. They'd put me up any time I headed out to Richmond, hang out at their house, take me to Dirtball and Shiners shows. They foster baby possums whose moms were roadkill; one particular possum liked to steal Wes's cigarettes right out of his shirt pocket.
posted by notsnot at 6:18 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Futher evidence that this is the right place to virtually be: On the way to work this morning, driving through the fog in northumberland, I was listening to "Dirty South" and was marvelling at how much of a beautiful song Danko/Manuel is.

It really is lovely! Jason Isbell has a new album coming out, I think. He's also on Twitter, but he's the 'this is what i had for breakfast' kind of twitterer so it breaks the mystique a bit
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:28 PM on March 15, 2011


Dammit Elvis, I swear son I think it's time you came around
Making money you can't spend ain't what being dead's about
.

I love this band.
posted by Sailormom at 6:23 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And how many "Southern rock" bands get quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:42 AM on March 16, 2011


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