- Everyone’s doing the ALS ice bucket challenge, but Dolly Parton’s is the best.
- Don’t forget to set your DVRs for George Strait’s concert special on CMT this evening.
- Little Richard was in a car accident in Murfreesboro on Monday when an SUV he was riding in was hit by another car. Both vehicles sustained major damage, but no one was injured.
- Want to be a Punch Brother (or Sister)? Well, that’ll never happen. But you can contribute vocals to a song that’ll be on the band’s new record.
- NPR is offering free downloads of songs by Laura Jean and Israel Nash.
- Rob McCoury tells CMT Edge all about his new album, The 5 String Flamethrower.
- Michael Corcoran is counting down the 25 most significant and/or notorious nights in Austin music history, including Buck Owens’ 1995 birthday bash, a 2003 Dixie Chicks show, and Freddy Fender playing the Soap Creek Saloon in 1974.
- Former Jayhawk Mark Olson discusses the band’s split in this recent article posted on Vita.MN.
- Esquire premiered “Florence, Alabama,” a sparse new song from Americana singer-songwriter Joe Fletcher.
- If you live near Roanoke, next month you might want to check out Gary Reid’s A Life of Trouble, a one-man show about Carter Stanley.
- Out November 4: Outlaw Pete, a kids’ book based on the Bruce Springsteen song of the same name (which was based on a kids’ book from the ’50s). Springsteen isn’t the first musician to venture into the world of children’s publishing. Rosanne Cash and Keith Richards have both written them, and although the infamous drummer didn’t write it, I recommend Goodnight, Keith Moon, which has become my go-to baby shower gift.
- Raleigh has slowly become an excellent music destination. The Triangle Business Journal reports that 3.3 million people have come to Wake County for music events in the past year, and in the next month, the city will welcome Farm Aid, World of Bluegrass, and Beericana.
- Our pal Kelly Dearmore interviewed Micky and the Motorcars, who were also featured on Rolling Stone Country.
- Songwriter Marv Green (“Amazed,” “Consider Me Gone”) on the longevity of his career: “I try to write for radio as much as I can. I think there’s a certain type of songwriter who writes that album cut that we all love, that was never meant to be on the radio. And unfortunately, people don’t really buy albums anymore — they’re just going to iTunes and buying the song they heard on the radio. Those are the writers that we’ve lost…“You just have to be aware of who’s recording…If you are in a room on Music Row, and you never go see a concert — if you never get out and see what’s happening — then you’re kidding yourself. You’re not going to be aware of what kind of songs they need. Some writers are guilty of that.”
- John Fullbright was on Letterman last night. See?
Normally our Friday Fives revolve around silly topics, like “Country Singers Who Appeared on Sesame Street” or “Hookers with Hearts of Gold.” But today we’re going to look at a horrifying chapter in American history. You can find references to lynching in a number of blues, country, and folk songs: Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” alludes to the 1920 lynching of three black circus workers in Duluth, and Toby Keith and Willie Nelson sang about punishing the wicked with “all the rope in Texas” and a tall oak tree in “Beer for My Horses.” Below are five songs — nearly all of them based on real events — about 20th century lynchings.
5. Emmylou Harris – “My Name is Emmett Till”
In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was beaten, mutilated, and shot after allegedly whistling at a white woman. His body was found three days later. Till’s mother insisted on an open casket funeral so that the whole world could see her son’s mutilated corpse; photos of the body were published in periodicals like Jet and helped spark the Civil Rights movement. On this song from 2011’s Hard Bargain, Harris relates the story from the teenager’s point of view.
4. Ethel Waters – “Miss Otis Regrets”
Miss Otis is unable to make her lunch date because she shot her lover and was subsequently dragged from her jail cell and hanged by an angry mob. This Cole Porter song has been recorded by several artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, and Jenny Toomey & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts on alt-country album The Executioner’s Last Songs. Waters also sang “Supper Time” — a song written by Irvin Berlin for Broadway play As Thousands Cheer — in which a woman reacts to news of her husband’s lynching.
3. Otis Taylor – “Saint Martha Blues”
Blues singer Otis Taylor begins this song by reciting an extremely disturbing story: “My great-grandfather, back in Lake Providence, Louisiana, he was lynched. Not only was he lynched, they took his body, and they tore it apart, and they went to his wife, Martha Jones, and told her where she could find her husband.”
2. Joel Rafael – “Don’t Kill My Baby and My Son”
In 1911, Laura Nelson and her son L.D., who lived in Okemah, Oklahoma (Woody Guthrie’s hometown), were accused of stealing a cow. Deputy Sheriff George Loney found the cow’s butchered remains in the Nelsons’ barn; as he attempted to make an arrest, he was shot and killed. A group, which allegedly included Guthrie’s father, Charley, later took the Nelsons from their jail cells and hanged them from a bridge over the North Canadian River. Images of this lynching (and numerous others) were sold as postcards, which you can see in James Allen’s moving and disturbing collection of lynching photos, Without Sanctuary. Though the hangings took place more than a year before Woody was born, the storied he heard about it growing up haunted him, and he would later write several songs about the topic. Folksinger Joel Rafael recorded the song for 2003’s Woodeye: Songs of Woody Guthrie.
1. Billie Holiday – “Strange Fruit”
Holiday turned a poem written and set to music by Abel Meeropol into a haunting ballad whose powerful images linger in listeners’ heads long after the last notes have faded away: “Southern trees bear a strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root / Black body swinging in the Southern breeze / Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.” It became Holiday’s best-selling record; numerous artists have also recorded the song in the past 70 years, but nobody sings it with Holiday’s raw emotion.
Marty Raybon Rejoins Shenandoah; Lee Ann Womack, John Legend to Tape CMT Crossroads; Bob Dylan Announces Tour
- Lee Ann Womack and John Legend will tape an episode of CMT Crossroads that’s scheduled to air on September 26.
- Marty Raybon has rejoined Shenandoah after 17 years; the newly reunited band will go on tour beginning in late October; they’re also working on some new music.
- On Tuesday, the mayor of Hendersonville, Tenn. declared it Connie Smith Day. This honor came 50 years after the release of Smith’s debut single, “Once a Day.”
- Little Big Town and Darius Rucker will announce the nominees in several categories for this year’s CMA Awards on Good Morning America September 3. They’ll announce the rest of the nominees at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square; that won’t be televised, but you’ll be able to stream it on the Tennessean website.
- Cory Branan was on NPR’s All Things Considered. Listen here.
- Folk rockers Lost & Nameless will release their second EP of 2014, When You Walked Into the Room, on September 9. (via press release)
- Out September 23: Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongues. (via press release)
- Tonight’s Yonder Mountain String Band show in Charlotte will be live streamed on Yahoo beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
- Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives visited the Relix offices to play a few songs from their upcoming double album, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning. Check it out.
- Tickets for Bob Dylan’s newly announced tour go on sale September 5.
- Here’s Joe Pug’s cover of “Downbound Train” from Dead Man’s Town, the forthcoming Americana salute to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.
- The Nashville Scene published a feature on Logan Rogers, president of Lightning Rod Records, the label that’s putting out Dead Man’s Town and has released albums by Jason Isbell, Billy Joe Shaver, Amanda Shires, and more.
- Patrick Doyle of Rolling Stone listed eight highlights of Merle Haggard’s recent shows at the Ryman.
- Bluegrasser Donna Hughes released a new video for “Red Oak Tree.”
- Alan Jackson’s exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opens tomorrow.
- Marion James, Nashville’s blues queen (who might be best known for her R&B hit “That’s My Man”), tells Peter Cooper that, although she’s been battling illness, she’s trying to pull some material together for an upcoming album.
- Shovels and Rope were featured in The Wall Street Journal; according to the article, The Ballad of Shovels and Rope, a documentary that’s been on the festival circuit, will be available for download/on DVD in December.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Lineup Revealed; Stream New Lucinda Williams, Hal Ketchum Songs; Jim Lauderdale Documentary Due in September
- There’s a feature on Mac Wiseman in the new issue of Country Weekly; you can also stream a song from his new album here.
- Dolly Parton is going to appear on The Foo Fighters’ new HBO series, Sonic Highways, which premieres October 17.
- Stream the title track to Hal Ketchum’s forthcoming record, I’m the Troubadour.
- Our pal Jeremy Dylan’s Jim Lauderdale documentary, The King of Broken Hearts, (“one of the most engaging music documentaries of the last few years,” says some dork) will be officially released on September 15.
- Trisha Yearwood’s new single, “PrizeFighter,” will also be released on September 15.
- Watch Nickel Creek’s Tiny Desk Concert.
- Out September 30 on Rebel Records: Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers’ Another Day from Life.
- Shovels and Rope were featured on NPR.
- The full Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014 lineup has been revealed and it looks insanely good.
- Listen to Lucinda Williams’ new song, “Stowaway in Your Heart.”
- On November 6, Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes will be released in their entirety as a six-disc collection.
- We rag on Luke Bryan a bit here, but good for him for reaching out to a four-year-old fan with Asperger’s.
- The Rhett Walker Band will release their next album, Here’s to the Ones, on October 14. (via press release)
- Deadspin posted a clip of golfer John Daly’s country song “Hit It Hard,” which he recorded several years ago, but has apparently been getting some recent play on satellite radio.
- Justin Townes Earle released a video for “Time Shows Fools.”
- Start practicing your sea shanties: On September 19, the Folk Music Society of New York is hosting a “Sing Like a Pirate” event.
- The tenth annual Jug Band Jubilee comes to Louisville on September 20; bands like Bones Jugs N Harmony (I hope they cover “Crossroads”) and Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy Jug Band are slated to perform. The day before, a headstone that the Jubilee and Kentuckiana Blues Society purchased for blues singer Sara Martin, who’s buried in Louisville, will be unveiled.
- Neil Young has filed for divorce from Pegi Young, his wife of 36 years.
- Chris Parton of CMT Edge interviewed Cahalen Morrison about his fine new traditional country song with Country Hammer, “Over and Over and Over Again.”
- John Dickey of Cumulus Media, the company behind NASH/NASH Icons radio stations: “It’s time for country [music] to fragment.”
- Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal looks at the success and rising popularity of NASH FM 94.7 in New York City.
- Twang Nation premiered “Ain’t Nothing Wrong,” the new music video from roots rockers Jumbo Brown.
The phrase “feel-good album” conjures up memories of subpar songs about people bravely fighting cancer or disability while dispensing wisdom. Good thing you can always rely on Paul Thorn to keep things from getting too mawkish. The soulful singer-songwriter is in fine form on his new album, Too Blessed to Be Stressed, which manages to be uplifting without descending into sap, cliché, or lyrics about kids dressed as bags of leaves.
Where the track listing of his last album, 2012’s What the Hell is Goin’ On, was largely covers of songs by artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Buddy and Julie Miller, Blessed is all new, original material (most of it co-written with Billy Maddox) – though when Thorn sings, in the voice of a glue-addled junkie, lyrics like “This old stray dog and Jesus are all the friends I’ve got,” it sure sounds like a song that’s been kicking around for a few years.
Guests The McCrary Sisters add a bit of church choir to the ‘70s funk of the title track, which encourages listeners to focus on the positive elements of their lives, while on the album’s closing ballad, “No Place I’d Rather Be,” Thorn celebrates the simple joys of morning coffee with a loved one, and on “Real Goodbye,” he gleefully invites an ex to kiss his ass, as band member Michael Graham merrily pounds the piano in the background.
But Thorn doesn’t focus solely good times: on “Mediocrity is King,” the former boxer delivers a well-placed jab on the surgically-reshaped nose of contemporary, celebrity obsessed, kneejerk bipartisan culture: “When you don’t expect much, then you’re never let down / You get the kind of government we’ve got now / Republicans and Democrats are breaking my heart / I can’t tell them sons of bitches apart / Everything’s changed; I can’t say who’s to blame / But I do know one thing / Mediocrity is king.”
He’s not afraid to poke fun at himself either, as he does on the infectious “Backslide on Friday,” his whiskey-and-honey baritone delivering what could be a page from anybody’s calendar: on Sunday, he’s full of good intentions and promises, but by the time the end of the week rolls around, he’s back where he started.
Released on Thorn’s own Perpetual Obscurity Records, Too Blessed to Be Stressed is a record that certainly deserves to be hauled into the spotlight. Feeling good has rarely sounded so great.
- Ranger Doug reads more than you, is bored to tears by Gertrude Stein.
- Little Big Town unveiled the cover of their next album and announced several dates on their “Pain Killer Tour.”
- Read the introduction to Steve Lowenthal’s Dance of Death, a biography of John Fahey.
- Jason Isbell, Rodney Crowell, Valerie June, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Patty Griffin, Loretta Lynn, and Taj Mahal are among the artists slated to perform at the Americana Honors and Awards Ceremony on September 17. Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Elizabeth Cook, and Todd Snider are on the list of presenters.
- The Band Perry was on Larry King Now talking about songwriting, working on their third album, and hair products (no, for real). Watch here. (warning: autoplay)
- The Very Best of Slim Dusty has spent a record 800 weeks on the ARIA Top 40 Country Music Chart. The closest runner up: The Dixie Chicks’ Wide Open Spaces, which spent 610 weeks on the charts.
- Chely Wright just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the release of her next album. She’s asking for $175,000; people have already contributed more than $26,000 towards that goal.
- Peter Cooper profiled Otis Gibbs. (If you haven’t picked up Gibbs’ Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth, now’s a good time.)
- Lyle Lovett and His Large Band played Letterman last night. Check it out.
- Dom Flemons told No Depression about recording “Georgia Drumbeat” for his new album, Prospect Hill.
- Stream The Pine Hill Haints’ “Galaxy Buffalo.”
- Singer-songwriter John Fullbright on being “Grammy-nominated John Fullbright”: “It’s like having a doctorate: It’s a title you put before your name, and nobody can take it away from you…But even doctors can be quacks, so I certainly don’t rest on my laurels in that regard.”
- Jonah Tolchin played a few songs in for American Songwriter; watch here.
- On September 16, you’ll be able to live stream Tim McGraw’s Hammerstein Ballroom concert.
- Kellie Pickler’s working on material for a fifth album.
- Darrell Webb is going to leave side project Sideline (a bluegrass supergroup that includes Steve Dilling, Skip Cherryholmes, Jason Moore, and Greg Luck) in November to focus on his eponymous band and his job at Lumberjack Feud, which, as it turns out, is not part of CMT’s fall programming, but rather a dinner show in Pigeon Forge.
- Speaking of Pigeon Forge, Dollywood was prominently featured in The New York Times‘ travel section over the weekend.
- Here’s a thoughtful piece from Kelly McCartney of No Depression: “How Roots Music Calls and Cultivates Young Artists.”
- Download some free music from indie-folkies Humming House.
- The Howlin’ Brothers visited CMT Edge to play “Night and Day.”
- This week’s album releases:
Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time
John Cowan – Sixty
Brad Paisley – Moonshine in the Trunk
Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers Featuring Connor Forsyth – Walk with Me
Jerry Castle – South Holston
Abbey Hirvela – The Start
Workers in Songs – That Glorious Masterpiece
Jill Barber – Fool’s Gold
The Buffalo Ruckus – The Buffalo Ruckus
Flatt & Scruggs – Changin’ Times (mp3 reissue)
The New Christy Minstrels – Today (mp3 reissue)
- The door definitely remains open for Taylor Swift to return to country music according to radio consulting firm Albright & O’Malley & Brenner’s “admittedly unscientific” poll of of 60 country music station programming executives. Mike O’Malley writes that, “By more than 4:1 the panel hoped that Taylor Swift would cut another country song in the future with 30% feeling country radio would miss Taylor. 17% said they didn’t think they would play any new Taylor Swift songs now that she’s ‘gone pop.’”
- Peter Cooper called out those that vilify Swift and praises her for her grace under the criticism.
- Live stream Nickel Creek’s Austin City Limits taping tonight beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern.
- Merle Haggard on contemporary country radio: “I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t really listen to the radio at all anymore. Once in a while, I’ll scan it and I don’t understand what they’re doing. I can’t find the entertainment in it. I know these guys, occasionally play shows with them and they’re all good people. But I wonder if that record they’re making is something they can actually do. Too much boogie boogie wham-bam and not enough substance. It’s all the same musicians, too, probably eight to 10 musicians play on every record you hear. For a musician hearing things that way, you can tell when a certain guitarist is playing. I know more about the musicians than the artists, actually.”
- In that same interview with David Menconi, Haggard reveals that he’s got “four different album projects that are all almost finished.”
- Stream the title track of The Stray Birds’ next album, Best Medicine, which comes out on Yep Roc Records October 21.
- Sturgill Simpson will perform on Conan September 10. (via press release)
- Sweetwater Rain added vocalist Kaitlin Walker to their lineup.
- Bruce Springsteen came in at No. 17 on CMT’s All-Time Top 40: Artists’ Choice, a list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars.
- Mary Chapin Carpenter will embark on orchestral and acoustic tours this fall.
- The pertinacious C.M. Wilcox has another Quotable Country feature up over at Country California.
- Hunter Hayes performed on Today and then announced a headlining tour that will kick off in late October. (warning: autoplay)
- Aoife O’Donovan and Noam Pikelny will tour together this fall.
- From The Huffington Post: “Country Music and the Rise of the Binge-Drinking Bro.”
- Alabama will release Alabama & Friends at the Ryman on September 30. The two-disc live album includes guests like Trisha Yearwood and Jamey Johnson.
- Emmylou Harris had to cancel her August 28 show in Asheville due to a “personal emergency.”
- PopMatters’ Dave Heaton asks, “Is the sadness gone from country music?”
- Ricky Skaggs has written music for a new film called The Song.
- Texan Casey Berry will be release his new EP, Long Way Down, on September 16. The lead single, “Stupid Angel,” has already been featured on ABC’s Nashville.
- James King has been selected for induction into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame.
- The Rankin Family’s Molly Rankin has joined Alec O’Hanley (formerly of the pop group Two Hours Traffic) in a new band called Alvvays.
- The Secret Sisters performed on The Tonight Show. Watch here.
- Laura Bell Bundy will release an album entitled Another Piece of Me in early 2015. (warning: autoplay)
- Meet Megan O’Neill, an aspiring pop-country singer from Ireland.
- Old Dominion will release their self-titled debut on October 7.
- The track listing and album artwork have been released for Hal Ketchum’s I’m the Troubadour, which is also being released on October 7.
- Best wishes to Rory Feek, whose mother recently passed away.
- New music videos from the past week or so:
Belles and Whistles – “Princess”
Hot Rize – “Blue is Fallin’”
The Seldom Scene – “110 in the Shade” (Live at WAMU’s Bluegrass Country)
Roosevelt Dime – “Oh, To Be” (Live at WAMU’s Bluegrass Country)
Sandra Lynn – “You Belong” (Live at Blackbird Studios)
Josh Abbott Band – “Hangin’ Around”
Shooter Jennings – “Don’t Wait Up (I’m Playing Possum)”
Sturgill Simpson – “Life of Sin”
Anthony D’Amato – “Good and Ready”
Sam Moore and Nu-Blu – “Jesus and Jones”
Fire Mountain – “Moving Target”
Joel Crouse – “Even the River Runs”
The Felice Brothers – “Lion”
George Strait – “Give It All We Got Tonight” (Live)
John Berry – “Annie’s Song” (Tour Bus Cover Series)
Lera Lynn – “Out to Sea”
The cliché about musical sons of the Deep South (believed in most fervently of all by some sons of the place themselves) is that the true Southern Man, a child of nature with peat moss and mustard greens between his toes, does not and will not discombobulate himself with such encumbrances as complicated philosophical thought and arduous contradictions. The extraordinary singer and songwriter Jesse Winchester, son of an airman, born on a Bossier City, Louisiana Air Force base, and raised in rural Mississippi and in Memphis, was aware of these directives, digested them even, could not have been more of those places in the ways that matter, but he didn’t heed the instructions. After playing organ at church, he left for Germany to study philosophy. When the Vietnam War era draft board sent a note, the military son did not respond as expected—not, he always said, out of any specific political position on the war, but because they had no business, as he saw it, telling him where to be and who to shoot. He headed for Montreal.
He was no loner rebel; the songwriting, performing draft dodger sought relevant work and found it in Montreal, learned French, started to build a family, then got noticed circa 1970 by those mainly Canadian exponents of Americana, The Band, who, astonished by the strength of the music he was creating in exile, got him a record contract. Robbie Robertson produced his first, self-titled album, with a cover that looked like an outtake from the Matthew Brady-invoking Civil War style photos on the cover of their own then-recent, celebrated second album, the brown one. The songs were in keeping with the post-Basement Tapes material the Band guys and Bob Dylan had been producing, allusive but elusive, evocative, with specific images and experiences carefully placed in disorienting narratives. Some of his songs, such as “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” and “Yankee Lady,” were instant classics in his own hands, were soon covered, and also got attention for their subtle and not so-subtle references to his precarious displaced situation. (“They’ll catch you wherever you’re hid” the former had it.) He performed the latter, a song palpably seeking reconnection with Americans, for the BBC in 1976:
He was among the first allowed to head home under the 1977 draft amnesty promulgated by President Jimmy Carter, our most Southern music-savvy chief executive. Jesse’s particular form of rebellion had already cost him very much more than the alleged sort that involves wearing a black shirt marked “Outlaw,” mentioning Willie Nelson, and waving a longneck in crowds. Unable to make appearances during his peak young years, he’d never quite catch up as a performer and recording artist—except in quality. There was, this writer believes, no singing songwriter with a more consistent, varied, and regularly charming body of work through the seventies and eighties. (I’d stand on Townes Van Zandt’s dust covered-coffee table, if he had one, and say that—any time.) That his songs evolved quickly from that early metaphorical-literary style to one that made room for simpler, more direct applications of wit, rhythm, sex, spiritual impulses not disconnected from the physical, horns, and even occasional calls for social dancing, did not win him any bonus points among those who’d come to see the irretrievably glum and isolated as more profound than emotional and social reconciliation. Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm had appeared on his first LP: now he used direct Helmsian means to get at layered, nuanced Robertsonian ends. He was doomed (or freed) to be a cult performer, but his songs—“Mississippi You’re on My Mind,” “Oh What a Thrill,” “Defying Gravity,” “A Showman’s Life,” “Isn’t That So?” to list just a few—became most familiar in other hands. Soon after returning to American soil, there was this pointed, gospel-inflected performance with a couple of lady friends, which captures one side of the essential Winchester:
I highly recommend his rich, full body of work to anybody who’s not experienced it; his first six albums have become available as twofers on the Edsel/Bearsville CD label. Most of his music is now in print again. Before he died of cancer this past April at age 69, Jesse Winchester managed to hang in there, still doing it and not yet sick of it (as he might have put it), to record one last full album of songs, here in Nashville, A Reasonable Amount of Trouble (out September 16th on Appleseed Recordings). Mississippi’s Mac McAnally produced, with the likes of Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan and Jim Horn backing Jesse up.
It is a moving and most excellent final testament of a son of the Deep South who, good-naturedly but resolutely self-defined till the end, never accepted its Shallower parts. In one original, “Neither Here Nor There,” he “plays for favors, worries the neighbors,” and pours himself “a drop of hell.” In “Just So Much,” his philosophical closer of closers, he cheekily, sweetly salutes his Maker (“When it comes to sunsets, the Lord has a way”) but with a chorus that reminds those looking for simple, blessedly utter assurance of impossibilities (you can tell he’d met a few folks like that well before facing his own end, ready and resigned), “There is only so much that the Lord can do.” There are also several doo wop numbers, such as his take on the Clovers/Bobby Vee oldie “Devil or Angel.” They have good beats and you can dance to them.
He leaves us with this one, too, which was taped in a performance last November:
I won’t forget Jesse Winchester. You shouldn’t either.
Rounder Signs Shelby Lynne; Ronnie Fauss, Over the Rhine Announce New Albums; Jean Redpath Passes Away
- Rounder Records has signed Shelby Lynne. The label will release a 15th anniversary edition of I Am Shelby Lynne (with bonus tracks and a concert DVD) on October 7. Yesterday, USA Today premiered a clip from that concert film. Lynne also recently completed a new album that is tentatively set for a release in early 2015.
- Ronnie Fauss’ Built to Break will be released November 4.
- Lee Ann Womack, Dwight Yoakam, Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves, and Hunter Hayes, among others, will perform at the ACM Honors on September 9 at the Ryman. This year’s honorees include Cowboy Jack Clement, Ronnie Milsap, Bob Beckham, Steve Buchanan, Kris Kristofferson, Buck Owens, Dean Dillon, Toby Keith, Paul Moore, Carrie Underwood, and Rascal Flatts.
- On November 4, Over the Rhine will release a holiday album called Blood Oranges in the Snow; the record will include a cover of “If We Make It Through December” as well as originals that the duo describes as “Reality Christmas.” (via press release)
- This Boston Globe article says that Sturgill Simpson and producer Dave Cobb have already started work on a follow-up album to Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and that they “hope to cut as many as three albums by next year.”
- Scottish folksinger Jean Redpath passed away after a battle with cancer. She was 77. Redpath had been a regular on A Prairie Home Companion and had performed and lived with Bob Dylan and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. If you haven’t, check out her multiple Songs of Robert Burns albums.
- Peter Cooper wrote a fine column on Ben Haggard.
- Kelefa Sanneh of The New Yorker takes a look at “Country Music’s Taylor Swift Problem” now that the singer-songwriter has officially gone pop with her freakishly catchy new single: In a mix-and-match culture, it’s refreshing, and somewhat miraculous, that country music still exists as a genre and a radio format and a culture, able to nurture a promising teen-aged singer-songwriter with a knack for impossibly memorable love songs. A country music that can do that might also be a country music strong enough, and stubborn enough, to hear a surefire hit from one of the biggest pop stars in the world and tell her goodbye, for now.
- Hot Rize released a video for “Blue is Fallin’” from their forthcoming album When I’m Free, due out in late September.
- A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to help fund Far Western, a documentary about Japan’s country/bluegrass music scene.
- Garth Brooks and Joan Baez are among the five musicians who will receive ASCAP Centennial Awards in November.
- Check out a new song by Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real.
- Berklee College of Music will give Del McCoury an American Roots Master Award on September 9.
- Billboard’s Chuck Dauphin takes a look at The Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Anybody made it out there yet?
- Here’s a new Pat Green and Lyle Lovett duet, “Girls from Texas.”
- Farce the Music premiered a new song by Sara Rachele.
- Justin Townes Earle to TheFader.com: If you say “I play country music,” you have to follow it up with real country music and whoo-whoo and all this shit. I made The Good Life. I went out on the road, and I did not like what I was saying. I’m never going to make two records the same. I haven’t yet, and I’m going to continue to change them. My first honky-tonk band was put together about six months before I made The Good Life. That was an “I want to do this” record. After I saw where that was taking me, it was not the direction I wanted to go in. I didn’t want that fan base. I didn’t want to play the Grand Ole Opry. I did once and I don’t want to ever again. Country is a very narrow thought. There’s no room to branch out on it. I’m a serious classic honky-tonk fan, and I believe you shouldn’t do anything to it. I moved into a more experimental mode of combining all the kinds of music I like into something a little more neutral.
- Coming soon: happiness-inducing Engine 145 t-shirts.
American Songwriter Offers Free Lee Ann Womack Download; CMHOF Announces Americana Fest Schedule; Stream Unreleased Woody Guthrie Song
- JP Harris & The Tough Choices will release Home is Where the Hurt Is on September 23. Yesterday afternoon, Esquire premiered the album’s first single, “Give a Little Lovin’.”
- Time.com is streaming “Man’s a Fool,” a previously unreleased Woody Guthrie-Sonny Terry duet.
- Alan Jackson’s Hall of Fame exhibit will open on August 29; his ’55 Thunderbird will be on display until September 1. The museum is staging a couple neat programs for the exhibit’s first weekend, including a Songwriter Session with Jim McBride and a guided tour “When Daddy Let Me Drive: The Museum’s Cool Cars.”
- The Hall of Fame also released its schedule for Americana Fest. BR549, Paul Burch, and others will participate in a program celebrating the 20th anniversary of the “Lower Broadway renaissance,” Billy Joe Shaver will participate in a Songwriter Session, Barry Mazor will interview Ry Cooder, and more.
- Jewly Hight interviewed Larry Sparks about his 50th anniversary album, Lonesome & Then Some.
- Hight also wrote a piece for Rolling Stone on songwriter Natalie Hemby, who had a hand in hits like “Pontoon” and “White Liar.”
- She also wrote this lengthy Nashville Scene feature on Old Crow Medicine Show.
- The American Songwriter Muse September 2014 sampler includes some fab new songs from Lee Ann Womack (her cover of Mando Saenz’s “When I Come Around”), Cory Branan, Lera Lynn, and more. Download it for free dollars here.
- Otis Gibbs told some entertaining stories to a USA Today reporter, like the time he was mistaken for a homeless person by some German filmmakers.
- The Ellen DeGeneres Show premiered the lyric video for Brad Paisley’s “Shattered Glass” from his forthcoming album Moonshine in the Trunk, which comes out next week.
- A man died at Hank Jr.’s Sunday night show in Michigan due to head injuries sustained after being shoved by a 15-year-old family friend.
- Paste gave the documentary The Byrd Who Flew Alone: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Gene Clark a positive review.
- Did openly gay country singer Josey Greenwell step back in the closet and rebrand himself as Nate Green in an attempt to find success?
- Jake Brown’s Nashville Songwriter: The Inside Story Behind Country Music’s Greatest Hits will be released in September. The book takes a look at classics like Tom T. Hall’s “Harper Valley PTA” and George Strait chart-topper “Fool Hearted Memory” (written by Byron Hill and Blake Mevis) as well as contemporary hits by Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, and more.
- bob: Thanks Barry. Just reserved the Adam Gussow book. Sounds interesting.
- Barry Mazor: It may be over-stated, in arriving at practically a single explanation of everything, but Adam Gussow's book on lynching and …
- Leeann: Wow! Heavy topic and horrifying indeed! "Beer for My Horses" was all fun and games until that reference, I'll have …
- Barry Mazor: Everything else aside, the way that reporter fills us in, with must-have, pointless generational snark included, about who this "Little …
- luckyoldsun: "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia" seems to be about a lynching--even if there's something about a judge …
- Arlene: Sorry. I meant to give the link for "Supper Time." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ58Kfe41kI
- Arlene: Another song sung by Ethel Waters: Irving Berlin's "Supper Time"
- bob: Powerful songs. I read the book "A Lynching in the Heartland" by James H. Madison about a dozen years ago. …
- Ron: Sky Above, Mud Below by Tom Russell is another.
- Jack Williams: Another Othis Taylor song from White African is "My Soul's in Louisiana."