Lately, singer-songwriter Doug Seegers has been performing a stripped-down version of Mark Wills’ 1998 hit, “Don’t Laugh at Me,” during his concerts. Written by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin, the song is especially poignant coming from the 62-year-old Seeger, who spent several years as a homeless busker who struggled with addiction before an encounter at a Nashville soup food pantry led to a record deal. Now a country star in Sweden, Seegers released his debut album, Going Down to the River, earlier this year on Rounder Records.
Watch his take on “Don’t Laugh at Me” below.
Lee Ann Womack to Sing Anthem at Eagles-Cowboys Game; Ty Herndon Comes Out; Nora Jane Struthers Announces New Album
Herndon’s announcement inspired Billy Gilman to do the same.
Ronnie Milsap shot a video interview for CMT.com shortly before his Hall of Fame induction.
IBMA drama continues: three more board members have resigned.
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn played a few for Folk Alley.
Scotsman.com published a brief article about mad fiddle scientist Casey Driessen.
Next Thursday you’ll have to postpone your traditional postprandial Thanksgiving nap: Lee Ann Womack is singing the National Anthem in Dallas at 4:30 p.m. EST when the Cowboys play the Eagles. She’ll be accompanied by Paul Franklin on pedal steel. (via press release)
The 2015 AmericanaFest will be held September 15-20 in Nashville.
Nora Jane Struthers will release her next album, Wake, on February 24. Here’s one of her new songs, “The Same Road.”
A deluxe, two-disc version of the Punch Brothers documentary How to Grow a Band is now available.
Alison Krauss has been added to the already star-studded lineup for the Emmylou Harris tribute concert in DC next January.
Check out the tracklisting and a song (inspired by Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smoke Stack Lightning”) from Steve Earle’s next record, which comes out in February.
Chicagoist.com posted an entertaining interview with Bloodshot Records founders Nan Warshaw and Rob Miller and Bloodshot artist Robbie Fulks.
The Mavericks, Steve Earle Announce New Albums; Billboard to Count Song Streams; The Voice Wants Jason Isbell
- I can’t decide if this is funny-funny or sad-funny: a producer from The Voice emailed Jason Isbell to see if he wants to audition for the show. Isbell’s response is definitely funny, though.
- Steve Earle & The Dukes will release a new album called Terraplane on New West Records February 17. (via press release)
- Also out on February 17: Mono, by The Mavericks. Robert Reynolds is taking time away from the band to be with his wife, who is battling cancer.
- On February 10, Rhiannon Giddens will release Tomorrow is My Turn, a solo album produced by T Bone Burnett. Check out a couple songs from the forthcoming record.
- The New York Times reports that, “Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, the agency that supplies its data, will start adding streams and downloads of tracks to the formula behind the Billboard 200.” They’ll count 1,500 streams as equal to one albums sale; furthermore, “they will also count ‘track equivalent albums’ — a common industry yardstick of 10 downloads of individual tracks — as part of the formula for album rankings on the Billboard 200.”
- James McMurtry shot a video for “How’m I Gonna Find You Now.”
- Lucero and Ryan Bingham are co-headlining a tour that’ll kick off in Asheville on February 17. (via press release)
- Go get yourself some free rock and roll from JD McPherson.
- Hunter Hayes canceled tonight’s St. Louis show due to concerns about “possible unrest” in Ferguson.
- If you’ve got Amazon Prime, you can stream a free holiday compilation that features recordings by Ashley Monroe, Kelly Hogan, Lucinda Williams, and more.
- Jewly Hight interviewed Tanya Tucker for CMT Edge.
- The Wall Street Journal published a feature on Hot Rize.
- Here’s an interesting Q&A with Rob Miller, co-founder of Bloodshot Records.
They’ve been “mildly impressing hipsters,” or so they say on their website (warning: autoplay), since their 2011 release Pay the Fiddler, which was produced by Andy Gibson, known for his work on Hank Williams III’s Straight to Hell. They prefer more traditional instrumentation (bass, banjo, fiddle, guitar — although on this last album they’ve replaced the fiddle with a mandolin), but are highly influenced by rockabilly, psychobilly, early rock and roll, and punk.
Their latest album, Safety Third, is definitely a level up from their freshman attempt. Brett Walker’s nasal, but strong vocals are the still group’s strong suit, and the songwriting is more thematically unified on this album. He always sings from a wayward male perspective, one that is not always necessarily loveable (think Delta Blues singers), but definitely self-assured, opinionated, and up to no good. On “Roadkill,” one of the group’s stronger tracks, he sings about being on the road and leaving his latest conquest behind. Love that’s been killed on the road, or perhaps, the woman he has abandoned is herself the roadkill, at least that’s what the narrator implies. Another integral part of this narrator’s identity is being “Amurikan;” references are made to pecan pie, a country founded on nicotine, corn subsidies, and Jesus. Their better songs bounce along, with a strong rhythmic drive – and often include sudden changes in tempo, in the spirit of punk music.
Musically, one could divide the songs on this album into three different categories: Basic progressive bluegrass instrumentation with punky vocals, a repeating riff that unifies all the instruments over the chord changes with punky vocals, or a mix of both of these things, with one instrument playing a defining riff that makes the song catchy, and the other instruments holding down the rest (and punky vocals). “Typical Pig,” the album’s last track, does the third option, and it may be the best song. It’s only enhanced by a great slap bass solo, of which there are too few on the album. Category 2 songs include “Roadkill” and “Let ‘Em Smoke,” both strong tracks. Category 1 songs are only redeemed by their lyrics, such as “Creepin’ On You,” which is the closest we get to a love song on this album: “I’m creepin’ on you/Just as you please/It’s what I do/It’s what you need.”
The album’s title is inspired by the first track, “Should Be Fine,” during which the narrator sings about half-assing his work (thus the title Safety Third.) It is a boring introduction to the album — “Typical Pig,” “Roadkill,” or “Priceless Advice” (during which the singer warns not to shoot your best friend, don’t have unprotected sex, etc.) would have been just as thematically unifying, minus the boredom. This group does not do slow songs well. “Colorado,” a song about escaping life and going to a distant utopia, was not only slow, but the lyrics were indecipherable. In some genres, like shoegaze or speed metal, this wouldn’t be an issue. In country and roots music, the understability of the lyrics is vital. Not to mention, the Texas Dangers’ forte is often their lyrics, which are funny and rakish, and if you can’t understand them during a slow song with a weak arrangement, you don’t have much left.
There are only two or three disappointments on this album, and the rest is very strong. With nods to Buddy Holly and even speedgrass, Walker & the Texas Dangers has put out another defiant album, giving us more of what they’re good at, which is boundless energy, tomfoolery, and sharp wit. When you listen, you can’t help but wish you were seeing them play it live. And if they can find a way of making their slow songs sizzle as much as their fast ones, well, they’ll be unstoppable.
Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett Announce Tour; The Gibson Brothers Salute Brother Acts; Guy Clark Documentary in the Works
- Listen to The Gibson Brothers’ version of “Bye Bye Love” from their excellent forthcoming album Brotherhood, a salute to roots music’s finest brother acts.
- Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett are going to play a handful of East Coast shows together in late January.
- The Huffington Post premiered “Bossy,” a cut from JD McPherson’s next album, Let the Good Times Roll.
- Lonesome River Band released a video for “Her Love Won’t Turn on a Dime.”
- There’s a Guy Clark documentary in the works. Without Getting Killed or Caught is slated for release in 2016, along with a Clark biography. Both projects are helmed by Tamara Saviano. (via press release)
- Check out Robert Earl Keen’s take on “Hot Corn, Cold Corn” from his upcoming bluegrass album, Happy Prisoner.
- NPR posted a couple of cool live performances: Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” from the Americana Awards and St. Paul & The Broken Bones playing “I’m Torn Up” during a Boston show.
- Oh, super. T-Pain says he’s working on a “lot of stuff” with Luke Bryan, Dallas Davidson, and Rhett Akins. (Although, when he’s not using Auto Tune, T-Pain sounds okay. So…maybe these new collaborations won’t be a pile of hot garbage?)
- While working on her latest album, Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, Lucinda Williams recorded enough material – including a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes” for another album.
- Garth Brooks: not a fan of YouTube. (warning: autoplay)
- Nate Rau of The Tennessean profiled Broken Bow Records, a “refuge for wayward music careers” and acts like Jason Aldean, Thompson Square, and Randy Houser.
- Keb’ Mo, Bonnie Raitt, and more discuss the legacy of Mavis Staples in this PasteMagazine.com piece.
- Willie Nelson taped a pilot episode for Inside Arlyn Studios, a proposed television series that he’ll host. His first guest was Gary Clark, Jr.
- Here’s First Aid Kit’s video for their take on Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.”
- Adam Hood discusses songwriting and his new album in this CMT Edge Q&A.
- Bloodshot Records get some love from hometown paper The Chicago Tribune.
- If you’ve got an hour, check out this BBC documentary, Bob Harris: My Nashville.
- Here’s a new Punch Brothers song called “Blow It Off.” It’ll be on their next album, which will be released in early 2015.
- Rosanne Cash released a limited edition 45 to benefit the restoration of the Historic Dyess Colony and Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash. It’s already sold out at her online store
- On February 10, Aaron Watson will release his next album, The Underdog (produced by Keith Stegall). (via press release)
- MuddyRootsRecords.com posted an article about DeFord Bailey.
- Wait, Jamey Johnson recorded a Christmas EP? Yep. (It’s out December 9.)
- The Oxford American’s Texas Music issue, which hits newsstands December 1, looks pretty neat.
- Guy Clark’s “L.A. Freeway” is the American Songwriter Lyric of the Week.
- The Wall Street Journal premiered a couple of videos on their Speakeasy blog: Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn’s “And Am I Born to Die” and Wade Bowen’s “When I Woke Up Today.”
- The Drive-By Truckers reflect on their last album, English Oceans, in this Rolling Stone Country article.
- For his final Tennessean column, Peter Cooper wrote about accordion player Joey Miskulin.
- The most important thing I learned in this Tanya Tucker interview is that there used to be Tanya Tucker Salsa.
- David Garza played an NPR Tiny Desk Concert.
- Lady Antebellum will be presented with the CRS 2015 Artist Humanitarian Award in late February.
- Here’s “Give Yourself to Love,” a previously unreleased Peter, Paul and Mary recording.
- Cale Tyson, Margo Price, and Raelyn Nelson discuss the state of country music in a Rolling Stone Country roundtable.
- This week’s album releases:
Charles Hill, Jr. – Shootin’ Man
Derek Thomas & Skyline Drive – Beyond the Trestles
James Carothers – Honky Tonk Land
Jonathan Byrd – You Can’t Outrun the Radio
Old 97’s – Hitchhike to Rhome: 20th Anniversary Edition
The Roys – Bluegrass Kinda Christmas
Sara Evans – At Christmas
Stephen Chadwick – Let’s Do This Thing
Thompson – Family
Trisha Yearwood – PrizeFighter
Various Artists – The Art of McCartney
Various Artists – While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records
For Jim Ed Brown, the last several weeks have been something of an emotional and physical roller coaster. Shortly after the 80-year-old singer announced his forthcoming solo studio album, In Style Again, he also revealed that he was diagnosed with lung cancer and needed to take four months off from touring and performing in order to undergo treatment.
In Style Again, which comes out January 20, 2015 on Plowboy Records, is 12 songs of smooth, solid country, with appearances from Vince Gill, Helen Cornelius, The Whites, and an on-point backing band that includes Chris Scruggs and Dennis Crouch.
Today we’re pleased to premiere the first single from the album, “When the Sun Says Hello to the Mountain,” featuring harmonies from his sisters, The Browns.
- Many artists across Nashville and beyond are mourning the passing of Station Inn fixture Ann Soyars. She was 67.
- Gretchen Peters unveiled “When All You Got Is a Hammer” from forthcoming album Blackbirds (out February 10).
- The 20th Annual ICM Faith, Family and Country Awards were held late last week in Nashville. Chuck Hancock, Russ Murphy, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson and Lady Antebellum were among the winners.
- The industrious C.M. Wilcox has a brand new Quotable Country up at Country California.
- Dolly Parton has taken the No. 4 spot on CMT’s All-Time Top 40: Artists’ Choice.
- Scotty McCreery celebrated the RIAA platinum certification of three of his singles.
- Blake Shelton and Wanda Jackson were inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
- Boston has been selected as the next location on Garth Brooks’ World Tour.
- Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver will release a new album called In Session on January 20.
- Tim Montana and the Shrednecks have signed a new agreement with Sony’s Red Music and will release a new single, “Rust and Red,”that was written with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.
- Saving Country Music sings the praises of dynamite New Zealand country artist Tami Neilson.
- Listen to a rare 1952 KRLD radio show featuring Leon Rhodes, who played with many of the greats, including Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb.
- Indiana-based country singer John Stevens has written an amusing song about his wife’s obsession called “She Love Peyton Manning More Than Me.”
- Canadian Beats’ Amanda Hather interviewed Jimmy Rankin about his solo music and his work as part of The Rankin Family.
- Billboard’s Chuck Dauphin conducted a five-part video interview with Dot Records’ Maddie & Tae.
- New music videos and some key live performances from the last week or so:
The Wolfe Brothers – “You Got to Me”
Keely Johnson featuring Lee Kernaghan – “Turn This to Gold”
Katie Armiger – “One Night Between Friends”
Mary Gauthier – “Mercy Now” (Music City Roots)
Angaleena Presley – “Knocked Up” (Music City Roots)
Carolyn Wonderland – “Palace of the King” (The Texas Music Scene)
The Henningsens – “Lovin’ Him” (Live at the Grand Ole Opry)
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn – “Shotgun Blues”
Montgomery Gentry and T Graham Brown – “Hell or High Water” (Live at the Grand Ole Opry)
Lee Brice – “Drinking Class”
Will Hoge – “Middle of America”
Shakey Graves – “Dearly Departed”
Bill Anderson – “Old Army Hat”
Alee – “Only the Strong Survive”
Brett Kissel – “Something You Just Don’t Forget”
Bo Phillips – “21 Guns”
Bob Seger and Jason Aldean – “Turn the Page” (CMT Crossroads)
The New Basement Tapes Play Fallon; Partial Old Settler’s Lineup Announced; Nashville Actors Plan Solo Albums
- Here’s Eric Church playing “Springsteen” on Austin City Limits.
- Stream Trisha Yearwood’s “I Remember You” from PrizeFighter for a limited time.
- Jewly Hight interviewed R&B singer/Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Sam Moore about his country music recordings for CMT Edge.
- Nashville actors Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio plan to release solo projects in 2015.
- Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation is opening a no-kill shelter called Redemption Ranch in Tishomingo, Oklahoma on November 22.
- Kenny Chesney’s on the cover of the next issue of Billboard. Inside, he discusses his move away from his previous, island-inflected music and his feelings about bro-country: “Over the last several years, it seems like anytime anybody sings about a woman, she’s in cutoff jeans, drinking and on a tailgate — they objectify the hell out of them…Twenty years ago, I might have written a song like that — I probably did. But I’m at a point where I want to say something different about women.”
- The New Basement Tapes played The Tonight Show. Watch here.
- Lee Brice released a video for “Drinking Class.”
- The Mavericks, Sam Bush, and The McCrary Sisters are among the acts playing the 2015 Old Settler’s Music Festival. A partial lineup for the festival, which will be held in Austin next April, can be found here.
- Kacey Musgraves was nominated in the Best New Touring Artist category for the 26th Annual Pollstar Awards, which will be held at the Ryman February 21.
- CMT Edge posted Levi Parham’s “Never Coming Home to Me” video.
- Here’s a sneak peek at Shovels & Rope’s Mountain Stage performance, which airs this week.
- Ian Crouch of The New Yorker on Garth Brooks: “[In] the world of contemporary country, which is ruled by kids with escapist fantasies, and grownups eager to seem young, Brooks seems fatherly and proudly unhip. He is in a unique position to do some lecturing—to take a leading voice in the genre’s current debates about race, gender, and cultural authenticity.”
- Chuck Dauphin of The 615 spoke with Joe Mullins about the bluegrasser’s latest album with the Radio Ramblers, Another Day from Life.
- There’s a new trailer for Song One, an upcoming film (produced by Jonathan Demme) that’ll hit theaters in late January. The plot sounds a little ridiculous — “When her busking brother is hit by a car and falls into an unexpected coma, Anne Hathaway’s character in Song One is left with only his journal to figure out the person he’s become. Somewhere along her travels to all of his favorite New York haunts, she runs into the musician James Forrester (played by real-life folkster Johnny Flynn) and strikes up a romance in the midst of her tragedy” — but the music seems decent enough.
Pokey LaFarge Signs with Rounder; Michael Daves Plans Twin Album Project; Signature Sounds Celebrates 20 Years
- Pokey LaFarge has signed with Rounder Records. He’s currently putting the finishing touches on his next album. (via press release)
- MilkDrive will release a new album called Places You’ve Not Been in March 2015.
- Michael Daves met his fundraising goal for the Twin Album Project yesterday. In May, he’ll release two albums with identical track listings; the first album will be traditional bluegrass, recorded with Mike Bub, Sarah Jarosz, Noam Pikelny, and Brittany Haas, while the second album will “focus on a raw, experimental take on the bluegrass and old-time songbook” and include different musicians. The Kickstarter campaign is running through November 20 if you want to contribute.
- The Tanya Tucker exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opens tomorrow. (via press release)
- Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell’s second duets record is almost completed. (h/t Jonathan)
- Signature Sounds Recordings will celebrate its 20th anniversary with the March 3 release of Rarities from the Second Decade, which will include music from Eilen Jewell, The Sweetback Sisters, Zoe Muth, Lake Street Dive, and other Signature Sounds artists. (via press release)
- Barry Mazor was interviewed for a PBS NewsHour piece on Ralph Peer.
- Bettye LaVette will release her next album, Worthy, on January 27, 2015. (via press release)
- The folks at Rolling Stone Country compiled a list of 50 rock albums every country fan should own.
- Charlie Robison’s high school football days gave him a bum knee and so many concussions that now “he sometimes finds himself in the grocery store without a clue why he’s there.”
- Justin Moore and Brantley Gilbert pulled their most recent albums from Spotify.
- Heads up, Texans: the first annual Smithville Folk Festival will be held on Saturday.
- Banditos have signed with Bloodshot and will release a new album early next year.
- Lucero’s Ben Nichols wrote about Tom Waits for American Songwriter’s “Role Models” series.
- iHeartMedia and Bobby Bones have partnered to launch development and production company Right Side Blind Productions. MusicRow.com reports that the “Los Angeles-based company will develop scripted and unscripted programming for cable and network television with an emphasis on original, sophisticated and innovative concepts.”
- Song and video premieres:
Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band – “Let’s Jump a Train”
Whitey Morgan & The 78s – “Where Do You Want It?” (live)
Sons of Bill – “Bad Dancer”
Lucinda Williams – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
First Aid Kit – “Stay Gold” (live on Conan)
- luckyoldsun: MH-- "...divisive, dismissive and argumentative." There's a shock. Who'da thunk it.
- MH: Looks like the IBMA is finding out what a lot of us already knew about former & frequent Engine 145 …
- Tom: ...it is almost the year 2015 - ain't it about time we leave people (celebrities included) having the personal relations …
- Paul W Dennis: I had assumed that Herndon was gay after the incident that Lucky Old Sun referenced, but bought the next Herndon …
- Jonathan Pappalardo: For anyone who wants to buy it, the Rosanne Cash 45 is available again. With 1000 copies being created, I …
- luckyoldsun: It seemed that the old morals arrest incident really did Herndon in. He was a pretty big country star before …
- CraigR.: Hopefully in the future being gay or straight won't matter at all. And then people won't have to hide their …
- Bruce: Jim has a remarkable voice for his age. Heck, for any age.
- bob: Good luck to Herndon and Gilman. I've seen Herndon in concert. While I liked his 90's material better, he's still …
- Leeann Ward: It was Brad Paisley and its on his Christmas album.