How mortifying! Upon review of our 2004 case files, Border Radio cannot find one single instance where we endorsed an artist we now despise. Woe, how toothless one gets with the onset of age. We sincerely hope some ruthless young buck or doe orchestrates our downfall in 2005.

Still, Border Radio tasted embarrassment. Despite promises made while wheedling our way into these pages, gospel and blues coverage in The Stranger has not expanded a jot. Chalk the former shortcoming up to our fear of religious institutions, and the latter to a case of food poisoning contracted from seafood ravioli consumed at a blues venue several years back. (What kind of moron orders pasta at a barbecue joint?)

Apropos of ignoring gospel and blues… on March 30, Timi Yuro, "the little girl with the big voice," immortalized by her soul-wrenching 1961 ballad "Hurt," passed away with nary a mention. We lavished 400-plus words on a woman named "Skeeter" who got booted off the Opry for Jesus freak talk, but Timi? Nothing. Mea culpa. Purchase her UK best-of collection, The Lost Voice of Soul, and hear what you missed.

Apologies to the Dusty 45's and the Little Red Hen. One great local rockabilly band, with a new CD, Devil Takes His Turn, and a beloved Green Lake watering hole that books noteworthy live acts. Two deserving institutions that failed to garner coverage, despite never currying our favor. No good deed goes unpunished.

Gracias to the merch girl for bluegrass hellions Split Lip Rayfield, who babysat after Border Radio hit the Knob Creek too hard. Kudos, too, for talking us into buying one of the band's DIY counted cross-stitch patch kits, as now we have a new hobby that is better suited for someone our age than drinking all night in dark, smoky clubs: Needlepoint.

On Election Night, Lost Highway artist Tift Merritt showed up at the Mirabeau Room, and Border Radio failed to coax her on stage for an impromptu performance. Not only would this have shown the assembled that not all red-state residents are inbred miscreants, but it also would have raised the profile of an artist signed to a label that labors under the misconception that Ryan Adams should be their top priority.

At least the Grammy people noticed Merritt, and nominated her sophomore full-length, Tambourine, for Best Country Album. This does not make amends for such gaffes as passing over Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose as a contender for Record of the Year, in favor of a lukewarm disc of Ray Charles duets, just because he died.

Speaking of Lynn, discretion and fear of retribution prevented us from printing the best (read: gossipy) portions of interviews with Neko Case--a woman whose name was foisted on Border Radio readers with a frequency that suggests that, in keeping with Stranger column status quo, we change her name to Kim Warnick. In a bold move, we will now reveal that, while Case worships Lynn's music, she dismissed her Hurricane Mills, Tennessee eatery, Loretta Lynn's Kitchen, as "a terrible restaurant."

kurt@thestranger.com

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