DMD’s Top 10 Alt-Country Tracks

By Stephanie Williams | Features

Written By: Janet Yaceczko

The local alt-country music scene is definitely rockin’. You’ve heard the rumor, but now you can hear the songs. Mixing in some americana, folk, rockabilly, and everything in between-take a listen to ten of my favorites, in no particular order:



Natalie York-“The Sweet Air of Virginia”

Listen To-” The Sweet Air of Virginia

What a crooner! Natalie York’s bluesy sound brings to mind a bit of Norah Jones, with a couple dashes of Sara Bareilles. The tasteful blending of piano and guitar just might make you feel a little more sophisticated after you’ve heard it: it’s like entering into a southern ball. “The sweet air of Virginia used to be my only friend.” Definitely keep an eye on this one, y’all.




Dean Crawford & the Dunn River Band-“I Can’t Reach You”

 Listen To-“I Can’t Reach You

“I Can’t Reach You” is Dean Crawford’s self-penned upbeat tune in the style of Tim McGraw’s “Just to See You Smile” and Colin Raye’s “Little Red Rodeo.” This stuff is more in the style of country music you hear on 98.7 WMZQ or 93.1 WPOC. Crawford also sounds reminiscent of ‘90s country pop artists Neal McCoy, Tye Herndon and Kevin Sharp. There’s a lot of great energy in this guy.




The Great Unknowns-“Long Way Home”

Listen To-“Long Way Home

Becky Warren and The Great Unknowns awaken the reality of life after war for the wife of a soldier in this Alison Krauss styled broken heart ballad.




Sean K. Preston-“Money”

Haunting and intense, “Money” is a story and a message. “Oh, my soul so heavy, oh my  soul.”  Think rockabilly legend Elvis Presley meets rockabilly legend Johnny Cash-but maybe sadder, darker and truer.




The Highballers-“Better Man”

“She still smiles at me even when I’m drunk as a dog.”

The Highballers give you deep home country with echoes of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, while elegantly weaving in the lead vocals. This track is a little bit country with a dash of rock and roll.




Vandaveer-“Dig Down Deep”

They sound a bit like the recently popular Civil Wars, with a perfect blend of male and female lead vocals. The superb percussion makes every beat of every drum take control of your pulse.




Brian Farley Band-“Out That Day”

More on the rock and roll side of things, but I simply can’t leave out this group that has so many different aspects, it’s difficult to fit them into a genre. A little punk, a little soul, and just enough folk and roots sound to make this list, “Out That Day” features the three man band offering the entire album free for the download on their official website.




The Junior League Band-“Kiss You in the Morning”

The sweet pipes of Lissy Rosemont draw you into this modern ballad. This song could easily send The Junior League Band into mainstream media.




The WeatherVanes-“Morning Light”

This song has high energy with striking harmonies and punchy, hard-hitting lyrics. If you haven’t heard of The WeatherVanes yet, where have you been? “Morning Light” is just one of my many favorites from this group.




Danny Kay and the Nightlifers-“Blue Skies”

This one opens up sounding just like an old Johnny Cash song, stand-up bass and all. Rockabilly to the core, Danny Kay and The Nightlifers pull you right out of your chair and onto the dance floor.

“I’m gonna beg that girl for one more chance/but only heaven knows!”

Also check out: DMD’s Top 5 Alt-Country Artists

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About The Author

is the chief curator and founder of D.C. Music Download.
  • Janice

    Highballers are also really good live too

  • Betty Kowalewski

    Worth listening to!!!

  • HgN772

    This is a pretty solid list. Pretty much sums up dc country in a nutshell lol

  • Marion

    You are so right about country music. I have been following Dean Crawford for about a year. He is charismatic, gifted and sings with such conviction. He is also a talented song writer. Once you have seen him perform, you cannot wait until the next show. So I keep up with him on his facebook. Thanks for recognizing this special man.

  • Miles Long

    You can’t go wrong with Danny Kay and The Nightlifers. They have a killer rhythm section. Zach Sweeney rules on sweet guitar!

  • Yvonne

    Dean Crawford is a talented song writer as well as a warm and caring person. I have loved him from the first time I heard him at least 7 years ago. I agree with everything Marion said above. Go see him live! You’ll be very happy you did.

  • Rhonda Dotson

    Dean Crawford and Dunns River are amazing! They are a group of very dedicated, talented ,hard working guys. Once you have heard them play , you can’t help but keep going back for more !

  • auntie rock

    enrgetic? you don’t know the half of it!Dean Crawford and the Dunn’s River Band have more energy then the energiser bunny. Their music is to die for, once you are hooked, you’re hooked for life. They have big hearts too and will help anybody out in a bind,. The guys are all truly beautiful people. Come hang out, they make everybody feel like family.

  • Mary Hudson

    Dean Crawford and Dunns River are amazing! They are a group of caring and fan devoted loving group . I heard them 3 yrs ago love their music and their dedication to fans . They come and take pictures with the fans during shows and talk to them personally . I have not seen another band like them who does this .Dean writes beautiful songs and love hearing him sing listen to his cd all the time .. So if you have never heard them Come See Them Live you will love them ..Me and my husband tell everyone what a great Band they are .. Keep up the AMAZING JOB !! Love to the BAND !!! And God BlessYou All …. :)

  • Matthew

    The Great Unknowns are a serious band. Their first album was one of the definitive alt country albums of all time, and I don’t say that lightly. They are to be compared with Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams. No shiz. And the new album should be getting some serious attention.