Archive for June, 2018

“Tales From PA 6” available now!

June 22, 2018 Leave a comment

Physical CDs now available here..



Download now from….


Amazon | ITunes | Google Play

download the album NOW. Name your Price. From our BandCamp store

 01 – I Ain’t Gonna Grow Old In This Place Anymore (Flannery)
02 – Amantha Ray (Flannery)
03 – Rolling On (Flannery)
04 – Morning Eyes (Flannery)
05 – The Death of Joe Strummer (Flannery/Alexander)
06 – As Good a Choice as Anyone (Alexander)
07 – Stephen Foster’s Ghost (Flannery)
08 – Twilight In the Shadowlands (Flannery/Alexander)
09 – County Line (Flannery)
10 – Shelby Cobra (Flannery)
11 – A Greater Generation (Flannery/Alexander)


copyright 2018 all rights reserved
recorded at Saturation Acres in Dupont, PA
produced by Bret Alexander

Tom Flannery – guitar, vocals
Bret Alexander – guitar, vocals, mandolin, piano, harmonica

“Their songwriting chops are touched by the gods on this 11 song set. I don’t think any other duo does it better right now”
— 88.5 WRKC radio
“‘Twilight In The Shadowlands’ is a haunting track….Alexander transfers this
listener from the streets of north Belfast Ireland to
the rugged and haunting mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania…..
With its embattled stories of love, life and death ‘Tales From PA 6’
matches the intensity and standard of what the two men
have done before. We can only hope that this isn’t the last collaboration
between these 2 American gems”

— Seán Ó Sirideán

Belfast Poet, author of ‘The Ramblings of a Bessbrook Boy”

“Tom Flannery and Bret Alexander do it again. Two different voices, but one soul. And that soul shines within these new songs as it did on their 2016 release ‘Dupont Back Porches’.

Their latest release Tales from Route 6 is sharp, focused, and poignant. It’s filled with tales of America. Tales of all of us caught in the middle trying to make the best of thing…keeping our chin up…moving forward. Their style is in the vein of Springsteen, LaMontagne, and Drake. It’s Americana, it’s gritty, and it’s real. Alexander breathes into his harp and it wails in a Nebraska style. Many of these songs could easily fit nicely between “Mansion on the Hill” and “Used Cars”.

..even in the most melancholy or heartbroken lyrics there’s a sense of hope…Flannery and Alexander are two truly gifted individuals. Not sure if there’s anyone better locally to tell our stories.”

–Keith Perks – 1120 Studios / AntiHero Magazine

“Tom Flannery’s songwriting has always been distinctive for its defiant exuberance in the face of loss. In his latest, Tales from PA 6, with Bret Alexander, he takes it step further, claiming the mantle as coal country’s answer to James McMurtry. From the stunning, nuanced opening lines of “I Ain’t Gonna Grow Old in This Place Anymore,” into the evocative picaresque, “Stephen Foster’s Ghost,” all the way through the rocker “Shelby Cobra”, Flannery and Alexander catch the soul of a region – and a country – making damned sure if it’s bound for hell, it’s gonna squeeze every drop out of life before it goes.”

Seamus McGraw – Author of ‘The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone’, ‘Betting The Farm On A Drought: Stories From The Front Line Of Climate Change’, and ‘A Thirsty Land The Making of an American Water Crisis’

“…Universal and articulate; powerful ruminations on life, family, love and death.  An exception album of rock-driven acoustic story-telling…. the songs from Tales from PA 6  are thoughtful, mature and empathetic stories that have a familiarity that rings true no matter what road you are on.”

–Vinyl Voyage Radio

“Throughout its stirring 11 tracks, ‘Tales From PA 6’ takes you on an imaginative and highly descriptive creative journey. With each number, singer/songwriters Tom Flannery and Bret Alexander take you inside the lives of people that we’ve all seem to have known or encountered, and its done with a thoughtful sense of poignancy. It’s folk music at its best from two of the region’s finest songsmiths.”

—Alan K. Stout, music journalist and radio host, 105 The River



My favorite line from Tales Of PA 6 is this: “Resistance is futile saith the Lord/Especially when you’re 50 and bored”.

You have to be 50(or close to it) to feel that line. If you are half a century old AND a musician you feel it quite a bit more. The ghost of that line keeps showing up time and time again throughout the record. In character after character and in every story.

Tom and I discussed this record for the first time at a bar. We didn’t talk much about marketing it or doing shows to support it. We just talked about Pennsylvania. Love it or hate it, Northeastern PA is a unique place. It’s the kind of place that deserves a song or two written about it.

I wanted to do a collection of tunes about the people and places along Rt 6. I have spent a lot of time on that highway, and I thought there were treasure troves of stories on the side of that road. Tom had half the lyrics written before I decided whether I really liked the idea or not. That’s the way it is with him. We are a good combination, no doubt.

When I was in middle school my favorite short story was “A Piece Of Steak” by Jack London. It was a tale about an old prize fighter trying to win a match against a young man. The one fought for his family and the rent, the other for glory. Experience lost, youth won.

Years later, my favorite movie was “Cinderella Man”. A similar story but with a happy ending.

I don’t know what it is about fighters that I love so much. And if they know they are fighting a losing battle, I’m totally smitten. Resistance is futile, indeed.

As Rocky famously put it “It’s not about hitting hard. It’s about getting hit.”

That’s what I get out of these tunes. Everybody is out there, still in the game. Maybe they win, maybe they are still waiting to win. Sure, things didn’t go according to plan. That was years ago. But, like The Winter Warlock, they still have a couple magic beans….. and goddammit it’s time to use them. Probably they are fighting a losing battle, they know that. But there they are anyway.

Any 50 year old can relate to that.

— Bret Alexander


So we were sitting in this bar….

It was last summer. Bret and I decided to meet over drinks and discuss working together again. So we found a joint halfway between his place and mine, and started in on the whiskey and lager.

Our first effort was a record called “Dupont Back Porches” which we released in 2016. We met and wrote and recorded it in a sort of creative blur, skipping the parts where you’re supposed to rehearse, and going right to the parts where you hit the “record” button and hope you remember the bridge that you just finished writing 30 second ago. Somehow we pulled it off, and became good friends in the process. Music does that.

When we get together to talk new music we usually spend a few hours talking about everything else first. Our kids (we both have 2 daughters, around the same ages), our shared love of Levon Helm, the books on our respective nightstands, the current state of our nation. There’s no fixed starting point, and no roadmap. It’s a whirlpool of laughing and head shaking and sometimes astonishment that we’ve managed to make it this far without committing a felony. We kept the bartender busy, needless to say.

But back to the music. We discussed writing and recording an entire record in a single day. Neither one of us thinks the idea is insane….which should tell you all you need to know about who you’re dealing with. Anyway, someday we’re gonna do that. But we were looking for something else on this night.

Bret had this idea of getting in his car and following route 6 and the river, writing songs about what he encountered along the way. He also started to get really technical and talked about building an app for your phone that would pinpoint your location on route 6 and cue up the appropriate track… having a tour guide in the passenger seat who played guitar. I loved the concept but my non-technical eyes glazed over at the thought of downloading something from the app store…..and right around this moment somebody came into the bar and played The Beatles “Revolution 9” from the White Album on the jukebox.

I cannot convey to you just how weird of a moment this was.

You know the tune, right? Eight minutes of some guy chanting “number 9 number 9” over noises that sound like a barnyard being strafed by fighter jets. It’s how you spend your time when Yoko takes over, and the drugs run out of ideas. Why in the world anybody would play this song on a public jukebox is best left to deeper thinkers than I.

Bret and I both kind of looked at each other. Initially I thought maybe a herd of cats were fighting in the street, but no, it really was Revolution 9 on the jukebox. The volume was, it should be noted, at a level akin to a Motorhead concert.

A guy teetering on the edge of sobriety walked over to the (digital) jukebox. He assumed there was a record inside and that it was skipping. He was beating on it like the Fonz in a frenzy…to no avail. “Number 9 Number 9 Number 9….” continued unabated. He couldn’t take it anymore. Things were getting surreal.

We suddenly had the bar very much to ourselves. Everybody in the place had disappeared like they were raptured. The faces on potential patrons walking in was one of horror. What is that screeching sound? What kind of place was this?

And then, it was finally over. I think the next song was some vintage Chuck Berry, so at least the culprit had a wicked sense of humor. The bar re-filled and everybody pretended that what just happened didn’t really happen. And me and Bret emptied our glasses and silently decided that we’d do a sort-of concept album about a mythic road trip filled with rogues and tramps and saints and sinners and gamblers and thieves, all searching for redemption and little slices of dignity, and all not worrying about the sins of Saturday night until Sunday morning rolls in. We’d write songs about guys who might play “Revolution 9” on a jukebox in an Old Forge bar, in other words.

And then I went home that night and wrote the lyrics to “Twilight In the Shadowlands” and soon after Bret had the tune and we were off and running. We encountered Stephen Foster and Sid Vicious and Joe Strummer in our travels, discovered a man paralyzed by blind faith, waiting for his Amantha Ray. Men and women were scattering in all directions, running both towards and away from each other, numbed by religion or pills or booze or one-night-stands. Or just plain old 9-5 alienation. Three and four minute movies is what I discovered we were making. And we were pooling our voices together….showing solidarity with each other and the folks we were writing and singing about.

And just when we felt bereft of happy endings, kids the age of our own daughters stood up and said “no more”. Those long moments of silence from Emma Gonzalez at the March for Our Lives in DC were the first cracks under the feet of the casually cruel white men who stopped caring about us and the people we write about a long time ago.

The times seem to be a-changin. A greater generation indeed…..and so that seemed a good place to stop until the next time.

In a bit…



Categories: Uncategorized

WWJD. (Who would Jesus detain?)

June 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Raise your hand if you thought we’d be here.

Over 2000 children separated from their parents at the US-Mexican border, and put into, depending on your level of outrage…

Old Wal-Mart stores..
Federal detention centers..

trumpmuralMany of the 2000 are infants. One was forcibly taken away from her mother as she was breastfeeding. When the mother resisted, she was placed in handcuffs. Inside the camps is a mural featuring the grinning face of President Trump, next to which is a quote “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” The quote is written in both English and Spanish, a nice nod to the inclusiveness of our nation. Trump first used it to describe a NYC real estate transaction, in which he fought for the right to evict people from their homes and tear their building down. The quote appears in his book “The Art of the Deal”.

Does anybody else think this is a colossally fucked up quote to hang on the wall of a holding pen for children?

Border Patrol Agents Detain Migrants Near US-Mexico BorderThe children do not know where their parents are. Parents are not allowed to communicate with their children while in custody. And the government has not set up a system to reunite children and parents when one is released. In some cases, parents have been deported without their children, and children have been deported without their parents.

(A Texas detention officer has been accused of assaulting the 4 year old daughter of an undocumented immigrant and threatening to deport the mother if she went to the authorities. How many more of these stories lurk out there? It’s what happens when you play God.)

This is what it has come to folks.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers responsible for these separations are using the “just following orders” defense, which you may recall has been used before. Didn’t end well. Just saying.

The policy has been called a “deterrent” by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, but “not cruel” because “children will be put into foster care or whatever”. So take that, snowflakes.

White House officials have said that “the president has calculated that he will gain political leverage in congressional negotiations by continuing to enforce a policy he claims to hate”, which certainly makes it sound like these children are being held hostage. Trump wants his wall, Bubba, and Mexico ain’t paying for it, in case you haven’t noticed.

The Attorney General of the United States has used Bible verse to defend the policy, despite cherry-picking a verse (Romans 13) that had been used previously to defend slavery. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, herself a mother of small children, also referred to scripture to defend the practice, which seems to obliterate the line between church and state that is supposed to, you know, be separate and stuff. WWJD. Who would Jesus detain?

When do we admit that Trump is not using the bible as a moral signpost, but in this case as some sort of demented justification for keeping his America as white as possible (sorta the same way slave owners used it)? Just because only some dogs can hear the whistle doesn’t mean it’s not hurting the ears of others.

What you are doing is saying God wants you to rip children from the arms of their parents. I mean….to even suggest this is monstrous….to believe it puts you in the category of a cretinous sociopath with the moral compass of a diseased badger.

A few of Trump’s Kool-Aid whisperers are having a hard time defending this one without getting drunk first, so they’re doing the next best thing and simply denying the situation even exists…

“There is no policy of separating families at the border”, says DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (as children are being separated from their parents at the border)

A Deputy Press Secretary called it “completely false” that children are being separated from their parents (as children are being separated from their parents at the border), then in the same sentence saying “this is all the Democrats’”….thus blaming democrats for something he just claimed wasn’t real in the first place…a neat verbal tick not possible until Trump became President and we entered Orwellian Memorial Stadium.

All of these goons are apparently using the Goebbels/Trump/Big Brother tactic that the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it….especially if these people watch Hannity or considered Winston Smith to be an unpatriotic whiner.

Or my personal favorite, calling the entire thing Fake News. Ann Coulter went on Fox and called the immigrant children “child actors” and warned Trump “don’t fall for it” (the same repertory theater where all those dead Newtown kids and David Hogg originated, perhaps?). Not sure if this was before or after Fox thought it prudent to argue that it was unfair to call the chain-link fences these children are locked behind “cages”, but in this case I didn’t think the timing was relevant. Just my liberal two cents.

Trump, on the other hand, frustratingly unable to blame children being held inside cages on Hillary’s emails, is repeating that the entire thing is the fault of the Democrats, conveniently forgetting, just this once, that he’s the fucking President and could stop the separations with a single word (or in his case, a hopefully not misspelled tweet). Even his own wife seems appalled, although she may be hesitant to speak up for fear of being deported herself.

This shouldn’t be that hard folks. It should be as easy as not calling Nazis “very fine people”.  

Are we really this far gone? Are we so entrenched in our own ideological bubbles that even admitting that ripping a child from the breast milk of his mother is wrong. That it is a sign of political capitulation? Of political weakness?

Honestly, how much lower can we go? I’m convinced this nation would never stand for 2000 dogs being separated from their owners at the border. There’d be a national uproar of biblical proportions, presumably the only kind of uproar that holy warriors like Sessions and Huckabee Sanders would pay attention to.

How much of an unempathetic douce-nozzle do you have to be to sanction this type of thing? There is nothing partisan about this. It’s basic fucking humanity. Out of the same book that says you should not kick puppies or rip the wings off flies or stick a lit firecracker into the mouth of your neighbor’s cat.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It sounds so goddamned quaint now, doesn’t it?

In a bit…


Categories: Uncategorized