Al James | A Continuous Lean.

This Year in Music | Dudes With Guitars

Dec 16th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Music | by Al James

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Last year we called it early and looked at some albums that were floating just below the mainstream. This year we’re highlighting the revival of a genre that critics keep saying has been dead for awhile. Across magazines, newspapers and blogs, writers have lamented the demise of guitar rock in all of its forms – punk, country, blues, garage, etc… They say that dudes with guitars are dead. They’ve been replaced by dudes with synthesizers, dudes with laptops, and dudes with samplers. This year, however, might be an exception. You don’t have to search too hard to discover that 2014 was actually an incredible year for straight-ahead, guitar-toting songwriters. Here are some of the best:

Sturgill Simpson
Though he worships at the altar of The Highwaymen, Sturgill is absolutely the genuine article. His Metamodern Sounds In Country Music is a classic country album filtered through a contemporary lens of drugs and existential dread. His songwriting point of view is fresh and his voice is timeless. Now if only the rest of Nashville could follow his lead.

Hiss Golden Messenger
After a series of great folk albums over the last few years, North Carolina’s M.C. Taylor dug deeper on Lateness of Dancers and struck gold. He and his band channel Dylan, The Band, The Dead and J.J. Cale like no one else has recently, keeping one foot firmly planted in swampy Southern R&B.





Parked | Foster Puts Down Roots…Sort Of.

Aug 27th, 2014 | Categories: Adventure, Al James, Americana, Oregon | by Al James

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After a few non-stop years on the road searching for clean breaks and untouched powder A Restless Transplant photographer and adventurer (and friend of ACL) Foster Huntington finally hit the brakes. The Spring of this year saw his second photo book published – Home Is Where You Park It -  and the summer brought him home to his family property in the Columbia River Gorge where he has begun constructing a life-long dream.

He and his group of friends have gathered on top of a long-dormant cinder cone in Skamania County, Washington to build a three-platformed treehouse connected by suspension bridges forty feet up in the air and a skatepark formed and poured into the top of the hillside. There’s a real community that has developed at the Cinder Cone – friends from around the country are camping for weeks, months at a time, sleeping in their trucks and in tents, pitching in to help realize Foster’s vision – an idea he’s had since he was a young boy growing up on the property. While a cynic might see a Tom Sawyer who has rallied his pals to help white wash a fence, something much bigger, much more substantial is happening.

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Final Destination | Tudor Heritage Ranger

Jul 2nd, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Watches | by Al James

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A little over a year ago I started thinking about watches. I know I wasn’t the only one. Fine timepieces were popping up all over – magazines, newspapers, blog posts and photo shoots – they were inescapable. My interest also grew because I was consciously moving away from being tied to my cell phone. I wanted to know the time, but not necessarily who was emailing, calling or texting while I was out for dinner with friends or fishing for steelhead before work. I bought an L.L. Bean Field Watch and a couple NATO straps and I was good to go. My time-keeping issue was more or less solved, but my curiosity with watches wasn’t going away.

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The ACL Fishing Report.

Jun 8th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Fishing, Outdoors | by Al James

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The weather is warming, the bugs are hatching and it’s time to air out those clammy waders that have been in the basement. It’s fishing season and it’s time to go stand in some water and wave around a stick with a bug tied to the end of it. The start of the season is also the right time to reassess your rod and tackle, so here’s the latest.





Frances May | One Step Ahead

Apr 18th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Portland Oregon, Retail | by Al James

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In the last two years Portland has seen an influx of established shops from around the country (Jack Spade, Steven Alan, Imogene + Willie) pop up next to some of the city’s home-grown Northwest retailers (Tanner Goods, Danner Boots, Poler, Nau, Filson). This combination of new and old, local and out-of-town, has created a mix that has finally started to give the city a bit of its own unique and diverse shopping scene. Yet even with all these new faces, one retailer continues to stand out in the crowd as a favorite – Frances May.

For the past six years, under the guidance of owner Pamela Baker-Miller and her Grandmother (and co-owner) Connie Codding, Frances May has been Portland’s most reliable shop for high quality mens offerings. Their selection is always evolving, always ahead of the curve and always classic. While they were early supporters of American labels like Gitman Vintage and Pendelton’s Portland Collection, they’ve continued to add to that base with more hand-picked clothing lines from across Europe and Canada (Common Projects, Our Legacy, Monitaly, Folk). The unifying theme being that each piece is extremely well made, wearable day in and day out and effortlessly timeless. These are the pieces that you wear for years, not just a season or a few months.

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Willy Vlautin Tells It Like It Is.

Mar 20th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Americana, Books | by Al James

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Has the recent finale of HBO’s True Detective left you jonesing for more pulpy American grit? Do you like your heroes broken-hearted yet courageous, desperate but loyal? Does your hard luck story require just the thinnest beam of light to pierce the looming darkness? Then author Willy Vlautin is your guy.

A Reno, Nevada native, Vlautin moved North to Portland, Oregon in the nineties to paint houses. When he wasn’t up on the ladder he wrote and played in bands. He founded, and still fronts, Richmond Fontaine, one the most-loved rock bands to come out of the Northwest. Starting with The Motel Life in 2007, he has published four novels that fit on the shelf next to Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son and Larry Brown’s Big Bad Love. Immensely talented company, but Vlautin’s work is at home with these greats.

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Yucatán Escape | Warm Weather Packing Ideas

Feb 24th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Gear, Travel | by Al James

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I’ve always viewed a winter get-away to warmer weather as a bit of a luxury, but this year with the exceptionally harsh and unrelenting cold, it feels more like a life line. With a ten day trip to the Yucatán Peninsula (Cancún, Isla Cozumel, Tulum) planned and booked at the end of last year, anticipating the vacation became almost as important as actually getting there. With the extra time to prepare, my packing became more thoughtful, more streamlined and more precise. This trip I got a few things right for once and I’m happy to share what I learned. —AJ

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