Wild Nights in the Upper Peninsula with Jeff Cowell
Earlier this year, reissue label Numero Group brought to light Lucky Strikes and Liquid Gold, a 1975 record by Jeff Cowell “previously available only out of the backs of borrowed cars, truck stops, campgrounds, and country-western bars between Algonac, Detroit, East Lansing, Cadillac, and Manistee.” Cowell’s music seems to only amplify those qualities, though with playful, and by turns surprisingly elegiac, lyrics and instrumentation that suggests a kind of “Honky Tonk Heroes” for those contemporary ramblers in the Northwoods.
As usual, Numero’s presentation of these rediscovered gems is outstanding, and their By The Numbers blog has been tracking the back story of this cult record, down to (as above) Cowell’s entertaining bar-by-bar itinerary of the Upper Peninsula folk/country scene through the 1970’s and early 80’s — a kind of irreverent, honest recollection that makes me wish we had more of these unofficial, beery oral histories of regional rural music scenes. Folks can follow the link above to travel through the UP with Jeff Cowell and hear the stream of Lucky Strikes and Liquid Gold below.
— Matthew Fluharty