- Hot Rize will release When I’m Free, their first studio album in 24 years, on September 30. Listen to one of their new songs, “Blue is Fallin’,” here.
- There’s a video interview with Rodney Crowell on Yahoo’s Ram Country.
- Paul Thorn is the American Songwriter Writer of the Week.
- Randy Lewis wrote a fine feature on country music’s international appeal.
- Reba’s got a new video for “Pray for Peace,” and she’s giving away the song on her website.
- The July 31 issue of Rolling Stone includes a lengthy piece on Old Crow Medicine Show.
- Emmylou Harris sure could (and probably still can) rock mom jeans and a tambourine.
- The Complete Earl Scruggs Story is streaming on Hulu.
- Jon Pareles of The New York Times reviewed Sunday’s Pete Seeger memorial concert at Lincoln Center.
- You’re going to hear a lot about 22-year-old guitarist Benjamin Booker this year. NPR just premiered his video for “Have You Seen My Son.”
- The final show of Shania Twain’s two-year Vegas residency is scheduled for December 13, 2014. (via press release)
- Watch Lydia Loveless and her band play “Somewhere Else” in a barber shop.
- Loveless, Robbie Fulks, Wayne Hancock, and others are featured on the Bloodshot Records 20th Anniversary Sampler, which is currently available as a free download via Google Play.
- Craig Shelburne wrote an American Songwriter feature on Chris Stapleton.
- The main idea behind Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music: “Give yourself to love, don’t sweat the small stuff, and try not to be a dick.”
- Filmmaker Bob Burton has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund a documentary on the life of Henry Lewy, the producer/engineer behind albums like The Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace of Sin, Neil Young’s Harvest and Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
- Maddie & Tae were featured on NPR’s All Things Considered.
- Alan Paul of The Wall Street Journal interviewed Robert Hunter about the lyrics he wrote for The Grateful Dead.
- C.M. Wilcox compiled a new installment of Quotable Country.
- Zoe Muth played “Make Me Change My Mind” for CMT Edge.
- Eli Young Band will perform on Letterman tonight.
- Stephen Deusner picked 10 essential Tom Petty songs for CMT.com.
- Cody Canada told Rolling Stone that he and The Departed just finished recording their third album.
- A portion of the proceeds from Sunny Sweeney’s Provoked will benefit an organization called Court Appointed Special Advocates, a nonprofit which aims to “support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy so that every abused or neglected child can be safe, establish permanence and have the opportunity to thrive.”
- The Country Music Association and Music Choice have formed a partnership that will result in CMA content being featured on Music Choice’s channels and on-demand service.
- This week’s album releases (if you dig these news roundups and other content on E145, we’d appreciate it if you’d purchase your music through the affiliate links below. It doesn’t cost you extra, but we get a portion of each purchase that helps us keep the lights on):
Kelley Mickwee – You Used to Live Here
Dom Flemons – Prospect Hill
Chris Smither – Still on the Levee
Roger Creager – Road Show
Bend the River – So Long Joan Fontaine
Steve Gulley – Family, Friends & Fellowship
Nathan Marshall – What Ships are For
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper – On Down the Line
Richard Thompson – Acoustic Classics
Hook & Anchor – Hook & Anchor
Sammy Kershaw – Do You Know Me? A Tribute to George Jones
Bobby Patterson – I Got More Soul!
Brian Larney – Jupiter with You
Ward Thomas – From Where We Stand
Pat Green – Here We Go (remastered)
- And a book:
Carla Jean Whitley – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music
Jerry Douglas Announces Flatt & Scruggs Tribute Album; SiriusXM Launches Y2Kountry; New Music Videos
- Ali Lohan, younger sister of Lindsay, is reportedly getting ready to launch a country music career.
- The internet was abuzz over Tim McGraw’s intentional/unintentional swipe/slap of a fan that got a little too grabby at one of his concerts.
- JD Crowe, Doyle Lawson and Paul Williams will release Standing Tall and Tough on Mountain Home Music August 19.
- Closer Weekly interviewed some of Randy Travis’s friends who suggest that the singer will make a full recovery and get back on the stage.
- Chuck Dauphin interviewed Sammy Kershaw about his George Jones tribute album, which comes out tomorrow.
- Watch Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town sing The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Elvira.”
- Lady Antebellum will release 747 on September 30.
- Engine 145 friend Peter Cooper wrote a great piece on Michael Jarrett’s new book Producing Country: The Inside Story of The Great Recordings.
- Rolling Stone Country has a fine article about Richard Marx and his forays into country songwriting.
- Joanna Mosca will release Have a Little Mercy, a new EP, on August 19.
- Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison discussed Our Year for the Texas Music Scene.
- Florida Georgia Line’s “Dirt” went to Number One in its second week on the Billboard Hot Country charts.
- In case you were wondering what ever happened to Eric Heatherly…
- SiriusXM launched a channel called Y2Kountry, which plays country hits from the 2000s on Channel 57.
- Tom Petty was chosen as Number 22 on CMT’s All-Time Top 40: Artists’ Choice, a list of the most influential artists in history, chosen by country stars themselves. Petty also takes on on the Catholic Church on his new album, Hypnotic Eye, which is streaming here.
- Jerry Douglas got together with Shawn Camp, Charlie Cushman, Barry Bales, Tim O’Brien, and Johnny Warren to make a Flatt & Scruggs cover album called The Earls of Leicester, due out on Rounder Records September 16, the same date Rounder will also release Three Bells, the Dobro album Douglas recorded with Rob Ickes and the late Mike Auldridge . (via press release)
- The filmmakers behind the Gregg Allman biopic (in which one crew member was killed in an accident while filming on the train tracks) have been charged with manslaughter.
- New music videos from the last week or so:
Megan and Liz – “Simple Life”
Jim Gaudet & The Railroad Boys – “Ink My Name” (Live at WAMU’s Bluegrass Country)
Tigirlily – “A Little Fun”
Adam & I – “If I’m Taken”
Louise Goffin – “Follow My Heart”
Kasey Chambers – “Wheelbarrow”
McAlister Kemp – “Fight Me”
Florida Georgia Line – “Dirt”
Dan + Shay – “Show You Off”
Blackberry Smoke – “Six Ways to Sunday”
Bart Crow – “If I Go, I’m Goin’”
Justin Townes Earle – “White Gardenias”
Hurray for the Riff Raff – “I Know It’s Wrong (But That’s Alright)”
Trampled by Turtles – “Are You Behind the Shining Star?”
Josh Thompson – “Wanted Me Gone”
Niall Toner – “Million Dollar Bill”
If Gram Parsons and George Jones got together to name an heir to their throne, it would be Jim Lauderdale. There absolutely no question that Lauderdale and Marty Stuart—the other heir to the throne—have done more than any other musicians playing today to fill the shoes of Jones, Buck Owens, and Hank Williams, among others. Lauderdale works tirelessly—he’s one of the hardest working artists in Americana music today—as a guitarist, a songwriter, radio host (with Buddy Miller on their Sirius XM show), and weekly host of Music City Roots both to preserve the sound of traditional country and bluegrass music and to produce new songs directly in that lineage. In addition, Lauderdale generously supports emerging artists in their own efforts to join the larger family of Americana music.
Lauderdale’s new album, I’m a Song, illustrates the depth and breadth of his songwriting genius and also of his love of and commitment to the music that’s a part of the fabric of his life, the music that’s made him who he is today. Whether it’s the chicken-picked, Bakersfield riff of the opening tune, “Let’s Make a Good Thing Together,” the duet with Lee Ann Womack on the waltz “A Day with No Tomorrow,” or the jump-off-the-grooves “End of the World Rag,” Lauderdale reveals his mastery of every style, offering yet more evidence that he’s the answer to the persistent question: who’s gonna fill their shoes?
Engine 145 caught up by phone with Lauderdale a few weeks ago at his home in Nashville.
Tell me a little about the story behind the album.
Lauderdale: Well, a couple of years ago I started doing some recording down at Ben’s Studio, RCA Studio A. I’d worked together with James Burton and Al Perkins before, and we laid down about 9 songs that first day. I got busy and got away from the project, and other people were busy, but last January, I wanted to get back to it; so I got more folks, including Russ Pahl and Kenny Vaughan, and we went back into the studio and cut 11 songs. We just kept going and going. You know, I’d always wanted to do a double album, so this is kind of a milestone for me. I feel like this record is pretty hard country. One of my goals in making the album is that this is a WSM album; it’s an Opry album; there’s plenty of good country music on this album.
How did you come up with the album’s title?
I was in one of down-end-up moods, and I thought: “If I was trying to explain myself to somebody—what my essence is—I’d say I’m a song.” I have my foibles and my shortcomings, but what I have to offer the world is a song; music is more my identity more than anything else.
How did you select the songs for the album?
When I was writing the songs, or co-writing them, I could hear certain people on them. I thought, “I need a waltz for this record,” and I thought Lee Ann Womack would be great for the song “Day with No Tomorrow.” I wanted to get Buddy Miller, so he’s singing with me on the song that I wrote with Elvis Costello, “I Lost You.” When I was writing “Today I’ve Got the Yesterdays,” Patty Loveless kept flashing through my mind, so she’s singing with me on that one. I always wanted to write a song with Frank Dycus, and we wrote our first song together, “Doin’ Time in Bakersfield.” I started writing three of these songs—”The Day the Devil Changed,” “There’s No Shadows in the Shade,” “Hope and Find”—in the desert in California near Joshua Tree. I also put “The King of Broken Hearts,” which is on my out-of-print album, Planet of Love (1992), on this album because I wanted it to be available again.
When did you start playing, singing, and writing?
When I was a kid, my dream was to be a bluegrass recording artist. By my late teens, I was real heavily into bluegrass, and I just started going from there. When I went to college, I really started to write; I knew I wanted to be a singer-songwriter; luckily, other people started recording my songs, and I had a career. My first bluegrass album was with Ralph Stanley and that led me to start to collaborate. I came to Nashville in 1979 and did an album with Roland White, who was a big hero of mine. I met Zan McLeod, a guitarist who really influenced my guitar playing. When I was working on my first album with Ralph Stanley I tracked down Robert Hunter because I was listening continually to the Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty; you know the Dead was really a bluegrass band, and those were bluegrass albums. Anyway, I tracked down Hunter and threw out the proposition of our working together.
Who are your three greatest musical or songwriting influences?
First would be Gram Parsons; there is just something about the essence of what he did. Robert Hunter; I’ve learned more about writing from him than anybody. Finally, George Jones for everything he did.
Tell me a little about your approach to writing songs.
Songs happen in due time. I have to clear my head to open myself for them. Usually, though, a melody will come to me, and sometimes it will arise out of a title. Sometimes I’ll record the melody and the lyrics will then come to me; sometimes the song will come randomly to me. When I write with Robert Hunter, he’ll either give me a lyric or he’ll give me a melody and I’ll start from there.
For you, what are the elements of a great song?
Something that is memorable in a good way that you enjoy. A great song moves you in a good way; it’s thought-provoking. It makes you want to dance and experience emotions.
How have you evolved over the years as a writer and musician?
I feel like I’m still evolving. I haven’t got where I want to be writing-wise. I still feel like I’m learning and growing.
What’s next for you?
I have another record in the can that I did with James Burton and Al Perkins. I need to do another bluegrass album, and I did an album in England with Nick Lowe’s band.
Songster Dom Flemons rose to prominence in the American roots music scene as a founding member of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, where his charismatic stage presence was backed with an extensive knowledge of music history — nearly everyone who attended a Chocolate Drops concert left at the end of the evening having learned something new. Flemons, who left the group in 2013, displays the full spectrum of that knowledge on his fine new solo record, Prospect Hill (out July 22), which includes elements of folk, ragtime, blues, prewar jazz, and early rock and roll.
He’s currently preparing for a UK tour, which kicks off in London on July 23, but he took some time to tell us about a few of his myriad musical influences.
Phil Ochs – “Crucifixion,” 1965 Demo
This song by singer-songwriter Phil Ochs gave me a whole new understanding of what could be done with songwriting. He is one of my biggest influences. This song tackles many of the issues that we deal with in a capitalist society. It talks about the way we build up heroes and then we destroy them only to praise them as martyrs.
Muddy Waters at 1960 Newport Jazz Festival playlist
The documentary The History of Rock ‘N Roll got me into a lot of old music. One episode focused on early blues and they had a clip of Muddy Waters doing “I Got My Mojo Working” from the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival. I searched high and low for this video for years. It’s still available through Stefan Grossman’s guitar workshop. Nevertheless, I found a playlist that has all of the Newport Jazz Festival footage of Muddy Waters.
Paradise in Harlem (1939)
I found this movie on YouTube several years ago. This movie showcases black vaudeville in a very comprehensive way. It has comedians, classic blues singers, husband-and-wife teams, and blackface performers who are black. Just watch for yourself and see! It features Mamie Smith and Lucky Millinder.
How “Sh-Boom” Originated (The Chords)
I have always been a fan of old doo-wop. Every once in a while, I get into a big doo-wop frenzy and need to listen to it for hours. One fortunate day, I found this video. This is a short documentary about the song “Sh-Boom” originated by the doo-wop group the Chords. I have loved this song for years and it amazed me to hear the creators of this song talk about the references to local ideas and culture. It’s really a “pop” folk song if you really think about it. Enjoy!
They Hit a Blue Note
This six part YouTube documentary will absolutely blow your mind. It was found in the early ‘50s by Frederic Ramsey, Jr. He did his research with a Guggenheim Grant. Not only did he film this documentary, he also photographed his trip and made it into a book, Been Here and Gone, and released a ten-record set on Folkways called Music from the South.
The Music from the South record set features everyone you see in the video. Check it out on Spotify! Ramsey also recorded another record from that trip by the musician Cat-Iron that is also amazing (Koerner, Ray, and Glover fans will know Cat-Iron’s signature song, “Jimmy Bell,” which Dave Ray played.)
Take care, folks!
New Country Music Fest Comes to Vegas; CCMA Award Nominations Announced; Justin Townes Earle Covers “Glory Days”
- Chuck Dauphin makes a case for Don Rich’s Hall of Fame induction. (h/t A.B.)
- Lucinda Williams’ forthcoming double album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone will include a song called “Compassion” that’s an expansion of this poem of the same name written by her father, poet Miller Williams:
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
- Eric Banister interviewed Jonathan Bernstein, whose new ebook, Sweet Home Everywhere, examines the musical and cultural impact of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” Music Tomes is also giving away a copy of the book, so go enter that contest.
- Randy Fox of the Nashville Scene positively reviewed Bear Family box set The Other Side of Bakersfield: 1950s and ‘60s Boppers and Rockers from “Nashville West.”
- American Songwriter compiled a photo gallery of Nashville’s music scene that includes shots of the Bluebird, RCA Studio B, Gruhn Guitars, and The Station Inn.
- Nominees for the 2014 Canadian Country Music Association Awards were announced. Brett Kissel is nominated for seven awards, and Lindi Ortega’s up for Female Artist of the Year and Roots Artist of the Year. Check out the full list here.
- Folk-rock band Heaven’s Jail released a video for their song “Suicide.”
- Kelley Mickwee (whose fine new solo album comes out next week) on the future of The Trishas: “We are unsure. We know that we want to do something together again, but we didn’t put a time on it. We told each other that we would check back with each other in a year or so. We will see where everyone is in their lives. We will see if making another record is something we are able to do at that time or not. I realize that is kind of a crappy answer. It’s the truth. I think there is a future, but we are all unsure of when that will be.”
- Entertainment Weekly premiered Justin Townes Earle’s version of “Glory Days” from Dead Man’s Town, an upcoming Americana compilation paying tribute to Springsteen’s Born in the USA.
- Nathan Zeender, head brewer of the Right Proper Brewing Company in DC, has created a “No Depression” beer.
- Vegas will host the first Route 91 Harvest Festival from October 3-5. Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, and Dwight Yoakam are a few of the acts scheduled to perform.
- Paste published a lengthy interview with Candi Staton.
- BlogTO published a post on Toronto’s top five alt-country bands to keep an eye on, including The Lovelocks, Kayla Howran and Animal Parts.
- Filmmaker Matthew Pellowski tells Bluegrass Today that he hopes to have his Dave Evans documentary, Last of the Breed, out by the end of the year.
- The Bluegrass Situation looks at six great murder ballads, including “Stagger Lee” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.”
- NPR is offering free downloads of songs by Newport Folk Fest performers Caitlin Rose, Benjamin Booker, Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer, and others.
- Gary Louris discusses the recent Jayhawks reissues in this Houston Press feature.
- Here’s an American Songwriter article on the Welcome to 1979 Studio, an analog-heavy Nashville studio that’s also one of a few places in the country that cuts its own vinyl masters.
- Blues guitarist Johnny Winter passed away yesterday in Zurich, four days after his last performance, which was at a music festival in Austria. He was 70 years old.
- Ralph Stanley, Carlene Carter, and Jim Lauderdale are among the artists who’ll play free concerts during The Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s opening weekend on August 2 in Bristol.
- Town Mountain will release their next record, Live at the Isis, on August 22.
- Documentary The Winding Stream: The Carters, the Cashes, and the Course of Country Music will screen at the Lincoln Center’s Sound and Vision Film Festival on August 4. (via press release)
- Robyn Ludwick visited the KUTX studios to play “Heartache” from her new album, Little Rain.
- Fiddler Suzanna Barnes has joined Missy Werner’s band.
- The documentary Alive Inside examines the powerful effect music can have on those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Last year we posted a clip from the documentary (which opens this week in New York) in one of our roundups; it’ll probably still make you cry.
- Maddie & Tae discuss “Girl in a Country Song” with Jewly Hight for Rolling Stone.
- Paste reports that ATO Records and the Newport Folk Festival have formed a partnership to “curate a special vinyl series that features ATO artists who have performed at the festival or will perform at this year’s installment. The limited-edition series boasts rarities and unreleased tracks, as well as select live performances from the festival.”
- Samantha Stephens of CMT.com put together a list of 10 Tim McGraw Top 10 singles.
- Charles Humphrey III of The Steep Canyon Rangers is also an ultrarunner who’s training for his first hundred-mile race. He shares his love of running in this Asheville Citizen-Times article.
- Jewly Hight interviewed Michael Cleveland for CMT Edge. The article also includes a stream of three songs from Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper’s forthcoming album, On Down the Line.
- Thor Christensen of DallasNews.com wrote about the city’s struggling blues scene. An excerpt: “Shrinking support for the blues isn’t just a local issue. It’s a nationwide trend, fueled by popular music’s relentless march toward the new: For every blues-influenced chart-topper like Jack White or the Black Keys, there are dozens of young stars who couldn’t name a single blues song if B.B. King rang their doorbell and played them his greatest hits. Yet the problem is more glaring in Dallas than in other cities. While Chicago has the Chicago Blues Fest, Memphis has Beale Street and St. Louis is about to build The National Blues Museum, Dallas has done comparatively little to promote its legacy as a cradle of one of the first great American art forms.”
- R&B singer and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Sam Moore guests on Nu-Blu’s tribute to George Jones, “Jesus and Jones.”
- Rolling Stone put together a gallery of photos from the “Country: Portraits of an American Sound” exhibit currently running in L.A. Commentary from the photographers accompanies each image.
- Hunter Hayes will headline the U.S. Open’s annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on August 23 in Queens.
- Edd Hurt for The Nashville Scene: “If you believe that country music is the authentic expression of real emotions and urgent states of mind, the career of Dwight Yoakam may epitomize the way some artists struggle to make their authenticity known to a world that is not always impressed by it. If you believe that country music is a kind of pop music, you may regard any struggle for authenticity as potentially fatal to the idea of free-floating pop. What got in the way of country’s crossover potential in previous eras was its combination of moralism and conservatism. You’ll find plenty of moralizing and an essentially conservative musical vocabulary in most of Yoakam’s music, but he doesn’t betray much angst over authenticity. What Yoakam’s career illustrates is that authenticity isn’t a matter of being born into a musical culture, though that certainly helps — creators of music worry about the details of their presentation first, and art arises from that attention to idiomatic detail.”
- Former Harlem Globetrotter and collector of music memorabilia Lamont Robinson is spearheading an effort to find a home for The R&B Music Hall of Fame (currently a mobile exhibit) in Detroit. The plans include finding an existing building to convert into a 30,000 square foot museum that would include a restaurant as well as interactive exhibits and an auditorium.
Fundraising Stalls for Grandpa Jones Historical Marker; Seeger Fest Begins Tomorrow; Drew Kennedy to Release Live Album
- Fundraising attempts to put up a historical marker at Grandpa Jones’ Kentucky birthplace have stalled. So far only $700 has been raised, but the project will cost $2,500.
- Dolly Parton would like to make a LGBT dance record.
- There’s a LeAnn Rimes dance record due out out in August, featuring remixes of songs she’s recorded over the years. Thankfully, there’s no dance version of “Cattle Call.”
- Justin Townes Earle played his new single, “White Gardenias,” for CMT Edge.
- The Brothers Osborne released a video for their song “Rum.”
- Bart Crow’s got a new video too. Watch “If I Go, I’m Goin’” here.
- The folks at CommercialAppeal.com are counting down the 100 best songs about Memphis in five-song installments.
- Kellie Pickler will voice an anthropomorphic sweet potato in an upcoming VeggieTales release called Beauty and the Beet, which is scheduled for release on October 14. Pickler will also contribute seven songs to the soundtrack.
- Stream Dom Flemons’ Prospect Hill before it comes out next week.
- Drew Kennedy will release a two-disc live album called Sad Songs Happily Played on September 9.
- The third season of Nashville will premiere on ABC September 24.
- Trampled By Turtles played Letterman last night. Watch their performance here.
- Craig Shelburne of CMT Edge put together a list of 10 recent bluegrass albums folks should hear, including releases by Irene Kelley, Bryan Sutton, and Blue Highway.
- Willie Nelson’s “Time of the Preacher” may be used in Seth Rogen’s adaptation of the Preacher comic books.
- 20-year-old Clint Bowman founded Artists Like You, a nonprofit that seeks to preserve and promote North Carolina folk music.
- Shakey Graves will release And the War Came on Dualtone Records October 7. (via press release)
- Also due out October 7: Jackson Browne’s Standing in the Breech.
- Angaleena Presley debuted a few songs from her forthcoming solo record. Cindy Watts of The Tennessean has the scoop.
- On July 31, the exhibit “Keeping Time: Extraordinary Images from Louisiana’s Musical Past” will open at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans.
- The Opry tweeted that Craig Morgan will be the star of their birthday concert on October 4.
- Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas appear on “And When I Die,” a song on Billy Childs’ Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro. Check it out.
- Details of Pete Seeger’s will have been made public. It divides his estate among his three children, who will each get a trust in his or her name. The late folksinger and his wife, Toshi, will be celebrated this week in New York with the five-day Seeger Fest; on Sunday, the Lincoln Center will live stream a memorial concert that will feature Judy Collins, Dar Williams, and more. (warning: autoplay)
Though he’s been making records for more than a decade, Otis Gibbs might be the best unknown songwriter in music today. That’ll all change on August 19, when he releases Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth, an excellent and deeply personal collection of songs that might just be his breakout album. Today we’re proud to premiere a song from that record, “The Darker Side of Me,” a grim tale that is loosely based on stories Gibbs’ hobo friends have told him.
Gibbs is currently touring in the UK (he’ll be back in the States in August to play an album release show at The Station Inn — more tour dates will be announced shortly), but he was kind enough to painstakingly type out his answers to our emailed questions about Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth and his highly entertaining “Thanks for Giving a Damn” podcast on his phone while taking the train from Birmingham to Brighton.
What was the recording process like for Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth?
It was a quick and fun process. Nashville is home to some of the most gifted musicians on the planet. It’s an embarrassment of riches. I consider myself extremely fortunate that these folks are willing to play on my records. The players on this track are Thomm Jutz, Mark Fain, Paul Griffith, Justin Moses and myself. Our days in the studio were about as low drama as it gets. We’d spend about 20 to 30 minutes recording a song and then stand around listening to Mark tell a Bill Monroe story. Then we’d move on to recording a different song for 25 minutes and then stand around while Paul told us about playing with Hank Jr. It felt like hanging out at the barber shop with friends. If memory serves me, we did one run through on a couple of verses of “Darker Side of Me” and then recorded it in one or two takes. The players deserve a ton of praise for the life they breathed into this song. Their playing elevated it in every way.
“Wrong Side of Gallatin” is the album’s lone cover – what drew you to that song?
My partner (Amy Lashley) is a great songwriter and I’ve always loved this song. I had about 25 of my own songs I was considering for this record, but I kept coming back to this song. I think it fits perfectly on this record, so I decided to record it.
What led you to start the “Thanks for Giving a Damn” podcast?
I’ve long been frustrated with the questions asked by most interviewers. Instead of sitting around and complaining about it, I decided I’d try to put something positive out into the world. I wanted to create a show that I’d be happy to be a guest on. A lighthearted show where no one plugs their record or gets asked the same old mundane questions. A show where the host will actually shut up and listen for a change. I’m not a journalist, but I’ve always been a curious person who people seem to open up to. I figured I might as well dive in head first and try not to embarrass myself or bring too much shame onto my family.
Some memorable moments have been hearing Ian Hunter talk about seeing Buddy Holly live in Leicester, Ray Wylie Hubbard hanging out with pro wrestling royalty in the 70s, Todd Snider sharing stories about John Prine’s kindness and Brian Henneman sharing Uncle Tupelo road stories. The audience grew way quicker than I ever could have hoped and my 100th episode will air this fall. A nice side effect of doing my show is I’ve developed a better appreciation of what it’s like to be on the other side of the microphone.
- Holly Williams’ Tiny Desk Concert is damn good.
- Lucinda Williams will release the double album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone on September 30 (via press release). Williams played a free, small club show in Chicago on Saturday when her outdoor gig at Taste of Chicago was canceled due to rain.
- Little Big Town’s Pain Killer is due out October 21. Here’s the track listing.
- Watch Sturgill Simpson perform “Life of Sin” on Letterman.
- Marty Stuart’s photography is featured on The New York Times’ Lens blog.
- Here’s a song from Cowboy Jack Clement’s final record, which comes out today.
- Wall Street Journal columnist Taylor Swift looks better leaving the gym than I look on my best day.
- Garth Brooks’ tour will begin in Chicago on September 4; tickets go on sale July 25 — any bets as to how soon they’ll sell out? Also, his Dublin concerts have officially been canceled. Refunds are being issued.
- Brooks’ Chris Gaines project earned a spot on Mental Floss’ list of “15 Albums That Cost a Fortune to Make.”
- Crooked Still will reunite for three shows in late November.
- The Southern Folklife Collection blog published a post about “short-lived ensemble” The Church Brothers & Their Blue Ridge Ramblers, a bluegrass band from North Carolina.
- John Fullbright played a few for WNYC’s Soundcheck.
- Out September 23: My Name is New York, a three disc Woody Guthrie collection that pairs songs he wrote about NYC with interviews of Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Nora Guthrie, and Arlo Guthrie. Listen to the title track here and Seeger and Nora Guthrie talking about how “Tom Joad” came together here.
- “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” is the American Songwriter Lyric of the Week.
- The late James Alan Shelton left behind some serious medical bills. Luthiers Huss & Dalton are raffling off a Shelton signature model guitar to help Shelton’s widow, Greta, cover those costs.
- Rolling Stone spent five minutes with Bruce Robison, who talked about songwriting and his new record with Kelly Willis.
- Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, and John Evans have a side project called The Ego Brothers. Here’s hoping they find time to make a record.
- 40 years ago, The Ryman was in danger of getting torn down. The Tennessean’s Nate Rau recently wrote about the movement that saved the legendary venue.
- This week’s album releases:
Cowboy Jack Clement – For Once and For All
Robyn Ludwick – Little Rain
Trampled By Turtles – Wild Animals
Flatt Lonesome – Too
Peter Himmelman – The Boat That Carries Us
Denver – Rowdy Love
The Revelers – Swamp Pop Classics, Vol. 1
John Hiatt – Terms of My Surrender
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver – Open Carefully, Message Inside
Tim Stafford – Just to Hear the Whistle Blow
Bonnie Raitt – Nick of Time: 25th Anniversary Edition
- Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of The Ramones, passed away on July 11. In recent years, Ramone played in roots duo Uncle Monk.
- Warner Brothers has re-signed Dwight Yoakam, who’ll release a new album later in the year (one of the songs will be a cover of “Who’ll Stop the Rain”). He’s currently starring on Under the Dome.
- Ashley Monroe was discharged from a Nashville hospital yesterday after being admitted with a severe kidney infection late last week. She’ll resume her tour on July 18 in Cincinnati. (via press release)
- Sarah Buxton, Daniel Tashian, Kate York, and Ian Fitchuk formed a band called Skyline Motel. They released a self-titled EP that you can sample here.
- There aren’t any other details except for a mysterious pre-sale listing on Amazon, but it looks like Randy Travis may have recorded a second duets album back when he did his first one, as Influence 2: The Man I Am is scheduled to be released by Warner Nashville on August 12.
- Sugarland’s Kristian Bush released a lyric video for his first solo single, “Trailer Hitch.”
- Shania Twain to The Calgary Herald: “[Recording is] my priority this year and I will be in the studio as soon as I can get in, get my ducks in a row — I’m working on it all the time right now.”
- Meet Andy Roberts, the guy who’ll be the first fan on the planet to find out where Garth Brooks will kick off his upcoming world tour. In other Garth news, Trisha Yearwood is joining Brooks’ tour.
- The adroit C.M. Wilcox has a new Quotable Country feature up over at Country California.
- Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings are just a few of the artists contributing to Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited, a tribute album being released by Sony Masterworks on August 19.
- Tracy Byrd is this month’s featured artist over at My Kind of Country.
- Sharla McIver wrote a nice piece about Mary Sarah’s new album for Country Standard Time. Here’s an excerpt: “Getting the stars to agree to lend their voices, and their songs, to a mostly-unknown artist was not as difficult as it might seem. Once they heard her voice, they seemed sold. Perhaps it is Mary Sarah’s love for Patsy Cline, who originally recorded the song, also the first classic country song Mary Sarah learned while on the Texas Opry circuit, or the ease with which Nelson’s voice and hers blend. But with “Crazy,” it is often difficult to remember it is a 17- or 18-year-old girl singing with the legendary singer/songwriter.”
- Vince Gill counted down his 14 favorite guitarists for Rolling Stone Country.
- More love for Sturgill Simpson, this time from Salon.com: “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is a masterful work of musical experimentation, but it’s not revivalist: actually, it’s future-forward. Sure, it can be tempting to label it vintage-goes-bizarre, particularly the minute those pedal steel vamps swivel like a Southern version of a Rod Serling soundtrack – you’re traveling through another dimension, alright, and it’s nowhere near Music Row. But what it really is, if you strip away all the noise, is a truly modern offering. Sturgill Simpson isn’t the second coming of Waylon Jennings. He’s more likely on the path to becoming country music’s Radiohead.”
- Meet the Locust Honey String Band and stream their new album, Never Let Me Cross Your Mind.
- Leroy Troy, Roland White, and The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band were honored with Trailblazer Awards at Uncle Dave Macon Days.
- Rita Ballou had Sunny Sweeney in the studio at KOKE FM to talk about her new album, Provoked.
- Which of the states are “most conducive to life inside a theoretical country song“? Real estate blog Estately ranked them all, from Oklahoma to New Jersey.
- KJZZ uploaded a quick podcast with Phoenix Magazine managing editor Niki D’Andrea about the history of country music in Arizona.
- New music videos and key live performances from the past week or so:
Emily West – “Sea of Love”
Josh Thompson – “Wanted Me Gone”
Hannah Blaylock with Autumn McEntire – “Burned the Forest”
John Berry – “Ships That Don’t Come In”
Julie Roberts – “Good Wine and Bad Decisions”
Kip Moore – “Dirt Road”
Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison – “Motor City Man”
Paul Brandt – “Forever Summer”
Beverly Mahood – “Sunday I’m An Angel”
Puss N Boots – “Tarnished Angel”
Monroeville – “Be Natural”
Maggie Chapman – “Wonder Woman” (lyric video)
Florida Georgia Line – “Dirt”
Caleb Caudle – “Trade All the Lights”
House of Hats – “Close to Me”
The Tillers – “Willy Dear”
Spanish Gold – “Day Drinkin’”
David Rosales – “Too Young to Know Better”
- 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.