Tom Paxton Launches Kickstarter; Miranda Lambert, Trey Fanjoy Collaborate on Movie; Stray Birds Sign with Yep Roc
- The Stray Birds will release their Yep Roc debut, Best Medicine, on October 21. (via press release)
- American Songwriter premiered Grace Askew’s new video for “Cinnamon.”
- Tom Paxton launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his next album.
- Miranda Lambert is collaborating with award-winning director Trey Fanjoy (who has worked with Lambert on several videos) and screenwriter Cindy McCreery (whose IMDb.com page lists her as the writer of Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove) on the movie script Something in the Water, a “romp about five women challenging their men in a bass fishing competition.”
- Lucero frontman Ben Nichols is out on a solo tour.
- Check out “We Rise” an a cappella song recorded by Rhiannon Giddens, Charly Lowry, and Pura Fe for the Music Maker Relief Foundation’s 20th anniversary. (The song can also be found on the NC Music Love Army’s We Are Not for Sale.)
- Jewly Hight wrote a fascinating piece on Southern blues singer Adia Victoria. An excerpt:
In Nashville, she’s still enough of an unknown that she opens for more established acts like Those Darlins and Deer Tick, taking the crowds entirely by surprise. “I love watching people’s faces when they look at me,” she says, “’cause when they see a black girl get on stage, with a guitar, fronting a band, they’re like, ‘OK, what’s this gonna be? Soul music? India.Arie? What’s she gon’ do?’ And then I start performing and it’s disbelief: ‘I didn’t know black girls could do that.’” “That” could refer to the style of music Victoria and her bandmates are playing — shadowy, angular, southern-accented, indie-leaning blues. But it could just as easily refer to the utterly unhinged persona she lets loose during her shows. “That part of me, Adia Victoria — that’s my stage name — she’s very real to me. She’s very much alive. And there was a point in my life where I was letting her run my life. But as I got older, I realized, ‘I don’t have to change you — I just need to channel you. Because [otherwise], you’re gonna ruin my life.’ So on stage, I let her go free. It’s a safe place for her to come out and interact with people.”
- Kenny Chesney is co-producing a documentary on football coach Steve Spurrier.
- Nick 13 released a video for “In the Orchard.”
- There was a piece about Cowboy Jack Clement’s last album on NPR the other day.
- Syracuse.com posted a feature on bluegrass personality Bill Knowlton, whose Bluegrass Ramble Picnic is in its 42nd year.
- Barry Gibb sold his Hendersonville property once belonging to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash to a Texas businessman who wants to turn it into a residential facility treating those suffering from eating disorders.
- Dom Flemons was on NPR’s Fresh Air the other day. Listen here.
- Here’s the track listing for Brad Paisley’s Moonshine in the Trunk.
- Watch Shakey Graves’ Winnipeg Folk Fest Session.
- Bluegrass band Whiskey Shivers will release a self-titled album – produced by Robert Ellis – on September 23. (via press release)
- Amy Speace wrote a poignant column about one of her role models, the late Jack Hardy, for American Songwriter.
- Aussie alt-country singer Melody Pool is working on a new record.
- Listen to playlists celebrating 50 years of the Cambridge Folk Festival.
- Remember a couple weeks ago when we premiered “The Darker Side of Me,” an excellent track from Otis Gibbs’ forthcoming record, Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth? Of course you do. Now the song has a video.
Ricky Skaggs, Sharon White to Release Duets Album; IBMA Announces Inaugural Film Festival; Music City Roots Celebrates Night Train to Nashville
- The 615 premiered Billy Joe Shaver’s “The Git Go.”
- A 17-year-old girl was reportedly raped at Keith Urban’s recent Boston-area show where numerous hospitalizations and arrests for “alcohol-related issues” occurred. Bystanders may have filmed the alleged assault on their cell phones. In conclusion, people are terrible.
- Billboard’s Tom Roland asks if country radio needs an alcohol intervention: “Country of course has a lengthy history related to alcohol, though the relationship has changed dramatically. Such classic country titles as Merle Haggard’s ‘Misery and Gin,’ Gary Stewart’s ‘She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles),’ George Jones’ ‘If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)’ and Eddie Rabbitt’s ‘Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind)’ typified the mind-set of the times those songs were released. ‘The old guys were regretfully drunk,’ says songwriter Adam Wright, whose current Lee Ann Womack single, ‘The Way I’m Livin’,’ embodies the same attitude. ‘The new guys are proud to be drunk. There’s a little bit of a different spin.’”
- Tonight’s Music City Roots celebrates the tenth anniversary of Night Train to Nashville. This evening’s performers will include The McCrary Sisters, The Fairfield Four, Mac Gayden, and many more.
- Elizabeth Cook joined Hard Working Americans onstage for their Saturday night show at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin.
- The new issue of Lone Star Music Magazine includes articles on John Fullbright, Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, and more.
- Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White’s country duets album, Hearts Like Ours, will be released September 30.
- Garth Brooks will play Atlanta on September 19.
- The Tennessean put together a photo gallery of Roy Acuff performing at Centennial Park in 1964.
- Singer-songwriter Brian Pounds released a music video for “Somewhere, Maybe Carolina” from his forthcoming EP, Strikes and Gutters, which comes out September 2.
- Chris Jones & The Night Drivers will release Live at the Old Feed Store on October 7. (via press release)
- Brian T. Atkinson interviewed John Hiatt for CMT Edge.
- Mary Gauthier talks songwriting in this American Songwriter Q&A.
- Here’s a Baltimore City Paper piece on singer-songwriter Zane Campbell, whose aunt was Ola Belle Reed.
- Eight bluegrass films will be screened at the first IBMA Film Festival in Raleigh this fall. Here’s the list of movies. Check out the list of films and watch the trailers here.
- The Wall Street Journal premiered Doug Seegers’ duet with Emmylou Harris, a cover of “She” from Seegers’ forthcoming, Will Kimbrough-produced album Going Down to the River (out October 7 on Rounder Records). The 62-year-old Seegers has a pretty interesting story: the “often homeless” singer got a record deal after a Swedish country singer heard him sing at a Nashville food pantry.
The Pacific Northwest has had a flourishing roots music scene for years, and one of the region’s most promising up-and-coming acts is newgrass quintet Eight Dollar Mountain, who are based in Oregon.
The band recorded their third full-length album, Tied to the Tracks (produced by Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman) in the picturesque Applegate Valley at a studio formerly owned by Steve Miller. Naturally, this inspired them to cover the Steve Miller Band’s 1976 hit “Fly Like an Eagle;” we’re pleased to premiere their new video for that song this morning.
- This year’s ACM Honors, which will be held at the Ryman on September 9, will salute Kris Kristofferson and Dean Dillon (recipients of the Poet’s Award), Cowboy Jack Clement and Buck Owens (posthumous recipients of the Poet’s Award), Toby Keith and Ronnie Milsap (Career Achievement Awards), Carrie Underwood (Gene Weed Special Achievement Award) and several more. Check out the full list of honorees here.
- Check out Holly Williams’ damn good cover of “No Surrender” from upcoming Born in the USA tribute album Dead Man’s Town.
- The building that houses Studio A has been sold to Tim Reynolds’ Bravo Development. The Nashville Scene reports that according to the deed, “lease agreements with the building’s current tenants will continue under pre-existing conditions.” Reynolds says the building is in poor condition, with asbestos, mold, and other issues that need fixing; he is also in talks with out of state developers who have shown a “strong interest” in the property.
- Parker Millsap unveiled a new song, “Hades’ Plea,” when performing for CMT’s Concrete Country. Watch here.
- The Birthplace of Country Music Museum opens in Bristol, Virginia this weekend.
- Get the story behind “A Good Year for the Roses” with this video interview of songwriter Jerry Chesnut.
- David Nail announced his I’m a Fire Tour, which will kick off in Oxford, Mississippi on September 11.
- Go behind the scenes with The Bankesters as they shoot the video for “Found,” a song written in support of This Able Veteran, an organization that trains service dogs for veterans who are suffering from PTSD.
- Jewly Hight interviewed Jean Shepard for CMT Edge.
- The Music Maker Relief Foundation turns 20 this year.
- Listen to Pokey LaFarge’s Newport Folk Fest set. (warning: autoplay)
- Vote in Farce the Music’s Bummer Song of the Summer Poll.
- Dale Watson discusses Ameripolitan and The Truckin’ Sessions in this article posted on The 615.
- Here’s Billy Joe Shaver’s version of “Music City, USA” from Long in the Tooth, which comes out next week.
- Toby Keith topped Forbes’ list of the year’s highest-paid country stars, raking in $65 million.
- Graceland’s annual Elvis Week begins August 8 (here’s the full schedule of events); iPad-wielding visitors will now be able to take a guided tour, and on August 14, there will be an auction of various Presley artifacts.
- Brad Paisley put together a video preview for his forthcoming album Moonshine in the Trunk, but it looks like his label isn’t too happy about it. Or it’s all a carefully engineered publicity stunt.
- A Kickstarter has been launched to help fund a television special celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Carter Family Fold.
- Chris Young tells Rolling Stone that he’s influenced by everybody from Keith Whitley to Boyz II Men.
- Vice premiered “Time Shows Fools” from Justin Townes Earle’s new record, Single Mothers (out in September).
- Tim McGraw’s next album, the unfortunately named Sundown Heaven Town, will be released on September 16. It features a duet with Kid Rock.
- Download a couple songs from The Christian Lopez Band’s upcoming, Dave Cobb-produced EP on NoiseTrade.
- Hunter Hayes released his “Tattoo” video.
- Entertainment Weekly premiered Buffalo Clover’s “Hey, Child.”
- Blue Highway’s Jason Burleson was hospitalized with a bleeding stomach ulcer while on tour in France.
- This week’s album releases:
Noel McKay – Is That So Much to Ask
The Carmonas – The Carmonas
Marc Broussard – A Life Worth Living
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye
Eric Clapton & Friends (Willie Nelson, Derek Trucks, and more) – The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale
The Allman Brothers Band – The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings
The Everly Brothers – The Cadence Sessions, 1957-1960
- And a DVD:
Country Classic Singers (a five-disc collection featuring live footage and remembrances of George Jones, Marty Robbins, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Waylon Jennings)
- Dolly Parton has been writing a movie about her life and thinks Scarlett Johansson could play her. Parton’s “Jolene” is the American Songwriter Lyric of the Week.
- Our old The 9513 friend Stephen Deusner counted down 10 essential Dwight Yoakam songs for CMT Edge.
- In case you wondered if Garth Brooks still matters, he sold an estimated 180,000 tickets in three hours last Friday morning when one show in Chicago turned into 10.
- RPM Entertainment, the home of Maggie Rose and Tate Stevens, has “eliminated its radio promotion staff, effective immediately, to concentrate on management and publishing.”
- Sarah Darling can add fashion designer to her resume, as she’s teamed up with Durango to create a signature line of boots.
- On August 4, The Secret Sisters will release a deluxe edition of Put Your Needle Down through Cracker Barrel.
- Stream Christopher Denny’s If the Roses Don’t Kill Us at NPR.
- Music executive and songwriter Don Lanier passed away on July 23 at the age of 78.
- C.M Wilcox posted a new Quotable Country.
- The New York Times published an article on the Rodeo Bar, which closed on Sunday.
- Saving Country Music gave an update on the trials that have beset the Outlaw Music Hall of Fame.
- Chuck Wicks is finishing his next album for Blaster Records and is shooting for a late fall or winter release date.
- Country Weekly’s Bob Paxman wrote about how “You and Tequila” recharged Deana Carter’s career.
- Blackberry Smoke just finished recording their fourth studio album.
- On September 9, Pinecastle Records will release Detroit to Wheeling by The Osborne Brothers, the third installment in Pinecastle’s four-part series documenting the Osborne Brothers’ early years. This morning, WSM tweeted that Bobby and Sonny Osborne will appear on Eddie Stubbs’ radio show tonight.
- New music videos from the last week or so:
Bri Bagwell – “Crazy”
Zac Brown Band – “All Alright”
Reba McEntire – “Pray for Peace”
John Dee Holman & Dom Flemons – “John Henry”
JT Hodges – “Already High”
Stoney LaRue – “First One to Know”
Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers – “Make Me Change My Mind” (live for CMT Edge)
Jon Wolfe – “What Are You Doin’ Right Now”
LiveWire – “Drivin’ You Outta My Mind”
PawnShop Kings – “Make Me Whole”
Steff and the Articles – “Call You Mine”
Tebey – “Now I Do”
Radney Foster – “California” (Live on Texas Music Scene)
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen – “Yeah, Man” (Live on WAMU’s Bluegrass Country)
The Shires – “Tonight”
John Howie, Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff – “Suspicion” (Live at Schoolkids Records)
James Reams and the Barnstormers – “Almost Hear the Blues”
Country music, the whole popular roots music arena, in fact, has demanded give-and-take self-negotiations about what to hold onto, what to let go, how to find a balance between them and how to present the result, from its beginnings to this day. This summer seems to me to be proving a heady time for shows, books and recordings that, in varied ways, deal with those questions once again—explicitly.
Last Thursday night, July 24th, there was a memorable double bill in the annual Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman series, which started up with a set by Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys, as McReynolds marked his recent 85th birthday and 50th year as a Grand Ole Opry cast member. Throughout his Jim & Jesse bluegrass duo days with his late brother and beyond, mandolin master Jesse has never stopped looking for and finding exciting new musical turns to take. His Ryman set included everything from Pachabel’s soothing canon to Rafael Hernandez’s fiery “El Cumbanchero,” (popularized in North America by Desi Arnaz), and the aging Grateful Dead’s resigned, sometimes elegiac “Black Muddy River.” The enduring talent and flair for variety were winning, but what struck me as most powerful, now, was this: the dynamic underpinnings of the music he made, varied as it could be, were always unmistakably from traditional bluegrass. The man knows exactly who he is, what he can best bring to the show—and exactly how his first generation grasser legacy can be creatively and confidently applied. If more music makers felt the freedom that Jesse shows, built on his firm sense of his own identity and his music’s, there’d be a lot less nattering in the field about who’d ventured their way away from the bluegrass reservation and who had not.
And then Jerry Douglas and his “Earls of Leicester” (that’s pronounced “Lester,” y’know) took the stage in their Foggy Mountain Boys suits to introduce audiences to their take on what needs to be better recalled about the musical legacy of Flatt & Scruggs.
The stellar group lineup, which has a CD coming out on Rounder on September 16, includes Shawn Camp doing his best Lesterin’ salute as emcee and lead vocalist, Charlie Cushman showing no visible signs of being threatened by taking on Earl’s banjo parts, Douglas emulating Josh Graves, who’d inspired him to take up the dobro in the first place, Tim O’Brien on vocals and mandolin, Barry Bales on bass and, notably, Foggy Mountain Boy fiddler Paul Warren’s son Johnny Warren on fiddle. The key choice Jerry and gang have made was to have this evocation be not particularly of the epoch-making Scruggs banjo solos, which have so often been highlighted before, but the musical contributions of the members of that classic band. Live, Charlie did offer up the “Randy Lynn Rag” instrumental (not included on the CD advance I’ve heard), but the emphasis was on the rich variety of songs Lester sang and in which everyone played key instrumental roles at some point. This is a gutsy, unexpected and instructive way to recall that it was always Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys—though one result is a lot of mid-tempo songs, for all the variety in the Boys’ playlist. Johnny Warren had never before played the Ryman, and was never so spotlighted in a chance to show his own impassioned fiddling and salute to his own dad, so there was more than an educational opportunity involved that night for him—and he was on fire.
Fiery always, Jean Shepard, an Opry cast member a decade longer even than Jesse McReynolds, ranks as an all-time favorite fun interview for me, and you can share a lot of what that experience was like by getting yourself a copy of her new, long-brewing memoir Down Through the Years. There’s not a lot of self-analysis of her songs or musical techniques or role in country history by Jean in there, and I think I would have been almost disappointed if there had been. Instead, there’s the chance to spend time with the forever spunky voice, commentary on experiences and storytelling of Jean Shepard, a woman who pulls no punches, likes to talk, and is very good at it. Mainly, she tells you about who in country music circles she’s loved and appreciated and why. She also sets some emotional records straight—for instance, about those who were seemingly disappointed that she wasn’t an endlessly grieving professional widow after her husband Hawkshaw Hawkins died in the same plane crash that took Patsy Cline, and the relative lack of recognition her very successful marriage of nearly 50 years to former Osborne Brother sideman Benny Birchfield has gotten. She describes the challenges of achieving a star career at all beginning in years when even the smartest country label heads thought there was no possibility of genuinely solo stardom for a woman, and she was a key pioneer who proved that incorrect. And she reminds us—though she’s so associated with Nashville by now that it’s often forgotten—that she was an impoverished Okie migrant who reached success out in Bakersfield in the first place.
The full measure of that Bakersfield scene is still ongoing at the Country Hall of Fame and Museum for the rest of this year, but one aspect that was not particularly highlighted was the degree to which the honky tonk acts there didn’t just veer towards electric rockabilly sounds, but sometimes dove in outright. That rock and near-rock is the stuff of the two new single disc collections from Bear Family, The Other Side of Bakersfield: 1950s & ‘60s Boppers and Rockers from “Nashville West,” Volumes 1 and 2. There are some bandwagon jumpers doing obvious knock off of existing rockabilly hits, and a few performers who sound as much out of water and slightly desperate doing this material as, say, Webb Pierce was in “Nashville East.” Hearing Merle Haggard and Buck Owens’ rockabilly, or Tommy Duncan singing “Daddyo Loves Mommyo,” such talented obscurities as country Johnny Taylor and Bob Ehret (“Stop the Clock”), driving takes from Herb Henson, Dallas Frazier, Johnny Bond, and Fuzzy Owen, and the hot guitars that pop up all over these cuts add up to a real kick. Scott Bomar’s notes well fill in the details. There are plenty of bar bands and fans who love the overlapping, not quite differentiated rockabilly-Western bop-hard honky tonk space to this day and these discs, especially the second volume, I’d say, are certainly for you—and others.
When people talk casually about such outspoken Jean Shepard records as “The Root of All Evil is a Man” and “Did I Turn Down a Better Deal?” and her others that looked unblinkingly at the life details of working class women like herself, you can get the impression that these were breakouts after years of compliant “girl singer” songs that heralded accepting of a pliant and smiling fate, from the happiest girls in the post-War USA. That doesn’t stand up to examination; the truth was, as Kitty Wells once complained to me, nobody had been writing songs specifically for women to sing, of any point of view, in the early post-War years, one thing her “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” hit changed; it made a market. I mention this now since, in a period where female performers outside of groups have once again been almost entirely absent form the country singles charts, we now have the much talked about competing records and videos of the spunky Maggie & Tae’s answer to bro country “Girl in a Country Song” and more status quo cheerleading other-directed “Girl in Your Truck Song” from Maggie Rose. You can take your pick on the sentiments. (I prefer the Shepard-like spunky duo’s.) But I’ve heard some online rating these from the standpoint not of their sentiments, which nobody must, but from the standpoint that they’d like them better if they just didn’t sound like contemporary country records. We’ve had remarkable songwriting from women’s points of view coming from Brandy Clark and Ashley Monroe and Miranda Lambert, and (heads up) I think a lot of people will be knocked out by Angaleena Presley’s American Middle Class when it becomes available this Fall, too. Mainstream country adoption of those records, however brilliant, has been haphazard at best (unless you’re named Miranda or Taylor), reluctant at worst. But the fact that the Maggie & Tae and Maggie Rose releases are both getting attention and airplay, that there is this musical debate, is the most noteworthy thing about both of them. Like Jean Shepard records, they arrive breaking through silence, at a point where all those “boys” they’re talking about, and to, haven’t heard many female voices saying anything at all.
And by the way: I want to enthusiastically recommend Michael Jarrett’s revealing, finely constructed new book Producing Country: The Inside Story of the Great Recordings, which walks us back through country history from the point of view of the record producers—in their own voices and of those who worked with them. A working academic today, Michael for years interviewed producers for reports in the Tower Records magazine Pulse. This history exists because he cared about this subject then, when few did, asked the right questions of the right people, so now he’s able to piece together comments from different interviews chronologically and thematically, so the music makers tell us much about their work, their thinking behind the hits, and the results. Journalists slowly get to know some things through this sort of talk-by-talk knowledge accrual—and in this book, the reader can see how that works, too, and fell like you’ve been there.
Charlie Worsham and Ashley Monroe Collaborate; Kasey Anderson Sentenced; Dolly Participates in Tenn. Tourism Campaign
- Americana singer-songwriter Kasey Anderson was sentenced to nearly four years in prison; he must also pay nearly $600,000 in restitution after bilking investors for a nonexistent charity album.
- Here’s Dolly Parton performing “My Tennessee Mountain Home” for the state’s new tourism campaign. (warning: autoplay)
- Eric Banister interviewed Michael Jarrett, author of Producing Country: The Inside Story of the Great Recordings.
- Laura Cantrell to The Chicago Sun-Times: “For me country music is a type of soul music…The emotional content, whether it’s heartache or joy or longing for home, tucks into these songs in a way that’s very natural. I feel these songs are the highest level of songcraft you can experience. I look for threads of that to bring into and inspire contemporary country songs.”
- Stephen Deusner reviewed Country Funk, Vol. II for Pitchfork.
- Mike Barnett of The Deadly Gentlemen is releasing a solo album called One Song Romance on Compass Records August 19. The record includes guest appearances by Noam Pikelny, Tim O’Brien, Aoife O’Donovan, and more. (via press release)
- The National Geographic website posted a photo gallery of Nashville’s music scene.
- Check out Tim Easton’s “Don’t Spectate, Participate.”
- Charlie Worsham and Ashley Monroe collaborating? Yes, please. The two artists have written multiple songs together, one with the hook “I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home.”
- Peter Cooper looks at Jim Reeves’ legacy in today’s Tennessean.
- The Band Perry and Miranda Lambert will perform on the television special Fashion Rocks September 9. The show organizers must not know that the Perry boys dress like vampire Monkees.
- American Songwriter premiered Steelism’s “The Blind Beggar.”
- C.M. Wilcox looks at the buzz surrounding Maddie & Tae. An excerpt from his post: “Oddly, the modern sound of “Girl in a Country Song” might limit its appeal among those who agree so heartily with its message that they already left country radio for the more fertile pastures of roots or Americana and never looked back. Even as it rides a wave of anti-bro sentiment, ‘Girl in a Country Song’ doesn’t seem built for preaching to that choir. Rather, it’s a song for the in-between space where change actually happens: Enough to tip the scale, but not so much that it comes crashing down. If the sheen turns you off and you wish they’d excoriated Luke Bryan & Co. even more mercilessly, this isn’t for you. For the audience it’s aiming to reach, it’s exactly right. And probably pretty important.”
- Watch a previously unreleased clip of Crosby, Stills & Nash performing at Woodstock.
- 82-year-old Alabaman Raymond Cohen shares his memories of Hank Williams in this brief article.
Before he became a headliner at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, Hank performed on the floor above the Cohen family’s record store on Dexter Avenue, just down from the Capitol. It was a dilapidated building known as the “Grand Theater,” where music lovers couldn’t wait to hear Hank and his unmistakable twangy voice. When he wasn’t performing Saturday nights, Hank would drop by during the day to chat with Raymond and talk about the hottest records or ask to see the latest copy of Billboard magazine.
“He’d listen and then cover them when he wasn’t doing his own material,” said Raymond, whose reputation in Alabama’s music circles was such that, one day, he attended a meeting with Hank and Decca Records executives who were interested in signing him to a contract.
Lately it’s been too hot to venture outside my apartment; this would be unfortunate if it weren’t for the 200 channels of reruns keeping me company. Every now and again I’ll catch a familiar face on one of those shows, which is why today’s Friday Five celebrates country stars who’ve guest starred on police procedurals. Stay tuned for a future edition about country singers appearing on law dramas.
5. Rascal Flatts – CSI
The pop-country band guest starred on “Unshockable,” a 2010 episode in which Jay DeMarcus is mysteriously – and hilariously — electrocuted onstage.
4. Willie Nelson – Monk
When Nelson’s tour manager, Sonny Cross, is found murdered, the Red Headed Stranger is, of course, a prime suspect. Adrian Monk, a detective with a severe case of OCD, investigates and discovered that the murderer wasn’t Nelson, but a formerly-blind-but-now-seeing lady who shot Cross as revenge for a DUI accident he caused that killed her parents.
The episode ends with Willie and Monk – who apparently plays the clarinet when not solving murders — performing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” together.
3. Miranda Lambert – Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Normally on SVU, the celebrity guest star is the serial killer/rapist/Benson’s boyfriend. But in this episode, Miranda Lambert plays one of the victims, wannabe television star Lacey, and her acting duties mostly consist of wearing a cool leather jacket and being drugged and groped by Michael McKean.
2. Willie Nelson – Miami Vice
In this third season episode, Willie plays Jake Pierson, a former Texas Ranger who’s seeking revenge on the drug dealer who murdered his partner’s son. He gets it, though he’s also killed in the gunfight.
Steve Buscemi appears in this episode. Here he is getting his ass kicked by some goons before Willie and his hideous blazer show up to threaten him.
1. Johnny Cash – Columbo
In the episode “Swan Song,” Cash was Tommy Brown, a popular gospel singer whose wife dies in a plane crash that Tommy, a former paratrooper, just happens to survive. Good thing Lt. Columbo is on the case.
Compass Records to Release Jean Ritchie Tribute; Alan Jackson, Kenny Rogers HoF Exhibits to Open in August; Ralph Stanley Elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences
- Ralph Stanley, Al Pacino, Annie Proulx, Robert Reich, and Robert Ballard: the world’s most interesting dinner party or a few of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ newly elected fellows? (It’s the latter. Stanley, Pacino, et al. will be officially inducted into the Academy on October 11.)
- “Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin’ it Country” will open at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on August 29 and run through March 2015. (via press release)
- The HoF’s Kenny Rogers exhibit, “Through the Years,” will open on August 15. A day later, Rogers will participate in a Q&A at the Hall of Fame. (via press release)
- Elizabeth Cook, The Mastersons, Robby Hecht, and Over the Rhine are just a few of the zillion acts just added to this year’s AmericanaFest lineup.
- On September 2, Compass Records will release a two-disc set celebrating the music of Jean Ritchie. The 37-song collection includes performances by Kathy Mattea, Tim O’Brien, and Dale Ann Bradley. It also includes a recitation of “I Celebrate Life” by Pete Seeger, one of the folk legend’s final recordings. (via press release)
- Get ready for Shovels & Rope’s next record by downloading the “Swimmin’ Time Primer” on NoiseTrade and checking out one of the duo’s new songs, “Evil.”
- Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck are putting the finishing touches on their first duo record. Their progeny, Juno Washburn Fleck, is no slouch either: the tiny banjo messiah just produced this Uncle Earl rehearsal video.
- The nominees for this year’s IBMA Awards will be announced by Sam Bush and Jim Lauderdale on August 13. The event will be streamed on MusicCityRoots.com. (via press release)
- Del McCoury’s next project, which is slated for release later in the year, is an album of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie songs. According to this article in the Charleston Daily Mail, a concert DVD of McCoury performing Guthrie’s music is also in the works.
- Randy Travis’ forthcoming Influence, Vol. 2 includes covers of “Are the Good Times Really Over,” “For the Good Times,” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Here’s the full track listing.
- American Songwriter published a lengthy Q&A with Sturgill Simpson.
- There’s a Mandolin Orange live EP available for download on NoiseTrade.
- Maddie & Tae released a video for “Girl in a Country Song.”
- Here’s a short film on “The New Americana Movement” in New Orleans.
- Nikki Lane was on the World Café. Listen here.
- Puss N Boots played a few songs for Taste of Country.
- Stoney LaRue’s got a new video for “First One to Know.”
- Farm Aid 2014 will be held in Raleigh on September 13. Performers are slated to include Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Carlene Carter, Jamey Johnson, and, of course, Willie Nelson.
- The Nashville Scene’s Randy Fox looks back at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Night Train to Nashville” exhibit.
Though she’s resided in Austin for several years now, for her debut solo album, singer-songwriter Kelley Mickwee returned home to Memphis, not just physically (recording in a home studio set up in a midtown mansion that used to belong to the late historian Shelby Foote), but sonically as well. Mickwee quickly sets the scene on the soulful opening song “River Girl,” as she sings, “I come from the cotton, I come from the mud / And I know what this river can do when she floods.”
You Used to Live Here is quite different from Mickwee’s output with the currently on hiatus Americana band The Trishas: here she channels Dusty in Memphis and contemporary country-soul artists like Shelby Lynne on songs like the sultry “Hotel Jackson” and “Take Me Home,” which features gorgeous pedal steel from Eric Lewis.
As anyone who listened to The Trishas’ High, Wide and Handsome or the folky duo Jed and Kelley knows, Mickwee’s a fine singer, and she’s at her best on “Beautiful Accidents,” the highlight of the album. Co-written with Owen Temple, who also contributes vocals to the song, the duet sweetly celebrates the unpredictable paths love can take.
Mickwee also proves herself to be a stellar interpreter of other writers’ songs with two well-chosen covers: John Fullbright’s “Blameless” and “Dark Side of Town,” written by Eliza and Nancy Gilkyson. On the former, she flutters into an ethereal falsetto that’s a marked contrast to the earthy vocals found on Fullbright’s live recording of the song, while on the latter, she gleefully dives into the story song about a good boy gone bad, adding smoke and grit to her voice as she sings, “If the backbeat’s born in hell, then that’s the place I want to be.”
Clocking in at barely over 30 minutes long, You Used to Live Here is a tight collection of seven strong songs without a minute of filler. The Trishas’ future is currently up in the air, but with this album, Mickwee proves that she can shine as a solo act.
- Janice Brooks: Hopes somebody gets those memos about drinking songs. Meanwhile I'm feeling a lot of slots with Bluegrass.
- Leeann: Great news about Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White's duet album! Absolutely appalling about the Keith Urban concert!! Both the rape and …
- bob: I found the Billboard article about country music radio needing an alcohol intervention interesting. Songwriter Adam Wright is quoted as …
- Matt: Definitely agree with C.M. about Maddie & Tae. Certainly not the tidal wave of change some claimed it is or …
- Dave D.: Good stuff, as always. My copy of Producing Country arrived yesterday, and it looks to be as good as …
- Scooter: I agree Holly Williams can do no wrong in my eyes. Such a good album and great to see live …
- Carrie Mclaughlin: Your my Hero Mr. Jim Lauderdale!!! Come to Alaska Please? hehehehe
- Jeremy Dylan: You should check it out Dave D. It's from the first (and strongest) season.
- Leeann: Wow! I love that Holly William's cover of "No Surrender"! She's gotten to be so good.
- luckyoldsun: I made it through a minute of that "Girl In a Country Song Video." Man, that sucks.