- Check out a teaser for The Southern Gospel Revival, featuring Courtney Patton, Drew Kennedy, Jamie Lin Wilson, and Ben Hester.
- John Marks of SiriusXM, who helped break Florida Georgia Line, is hoping to do the same thing for women country singers by introducing “Fresh Female Voices” programming on The Highway channel.
- Taylor Swift is hosting a mysterious “worldwide live stream” event on August 18 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. She’ll probably announce some new music. Or commit a ritual sacrifice to appease Cthulhu.
- The Wall Street Journal published an article on Europe’s country music scenes and homegrown acts like The Common Linnets and The Shires.
- Billy Joe Shaver and The SteelDrivers are among the acts scheduled to play Outlaw Fest in Bowling Green, Ky. this October.
- Watch Valerie June play “Workin’ Woman Blues” for CMT Edge.
- “Eastbound and Down” and Dolly’s “Straight Talk” made The A.V. Club’s list of soundtrack songs that double as film synopses.
- Jason Isbell, John Hiatt, Jamey Johnson, Don Was, and Blackberry Smoke are just a few of the acts who will celebrate Lynyrd Skynyrd at a tribute concert in Atlanta on November 12.
- Eric Church released a video for “Cold One.”
- There’s a Ben Glover sampler available for download on NoiseTrade.
- Tom Douglas, who co-wrote “The House That Built Me” with Allen Shamblin, talks about the story behind the song in this interview posted on the Tennessean site.
- Joss Whedon, the guy behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a bunch of things not as great as Buffy but still pretty good, is collaborating with singer-songwriter Shawnee Kilgore on a folk EP.
- Brittney McKenna of American Songwriter wrote a feature on rising star Adia Victoria.
- Stream Benjamin Booker’s self-titled album.
- David Bellamy to Chuck Dauphin: “I don’t know if we actually were the beginning of country rap, but I do think we were ‘Bro Country’ before it was cool.”
- Lera Lynn is the American Songwriter Writer of the Week.
- Brazilian kazillionaire Zero Freitas wants all the vinyl. He’s already got a collection of several million records, and he hopes to share it with the public by setting up a listening library that he’s calling “Emporium Musical.” Over the weekend, The New York Times published a piece on Freitas’ quest.
- Brandi Carlile’s Pin Drop Tour – inspired by a show in which her band’s PA system cut out — begins October 1 in New Hampshire. Carlile recently finished recording a new album, so concertgoers can expect to hear some new material at her fall shows.
- Brad Paisley on the “Accidental Racist” controversy: What I learned is that there are certain subjects that are almost next to impossible to sing about, to do songs about, but that was the point of the last album was to tackle those things that seem like they would be impossible to do and see if they are possible. Intention is everything and our intention was to try to raise awareness for points of view… I’m proud that we stood up and did this. I wish we’d gotten out in front of the people who took it the wrong way and framed it a little bit better that way and framed the debate ourselves, but it’s too late for that, but I also don’t know if I’d change much about it because in the same way that training for a fight as a fighter, you have to take punches to train for a fight. You can’t just stand there and throw punches, you have to take them and I took them. And in that sense, I’m ready to do better things and greater things because of the punches I took.
- This week’s album releases:
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen – Cold Spell
Ethan Johns – The Reckoning
Curtis McMurtry – Respectable Enemy
Randy Travis – Influence, Vol. 2: The Man I Am
Brian Setzer – Rockabilly Riot!
Quiet Life – Housebroken Man
Lucero – Live from Atlanta
Mike Zito & The Wheel – Songs from the Road
Louvin Brothers – Complete Recorded Works 1952-1962
Eddy Arnold – Complete US Chart Singles 1945-1962
- Lori McKenna will release a ten-song album called Numbered Doors on September 23.
- Cindy Watts reported in The Tennessean that Johnny Cash’s boyhood home is fully renovated and ready for its grand opening on August 16 in Dyess, Arkansas.
- Ticketmaster broke when tickets for Garth Brooks’ Atlanta concerts went on sale.
- We’d like to send some well wishes to Jessie Scott, the head-of-everything at Music Fog, who is recovering from a hip replacement surgery earlier this year.
- The summer of bad behavior at country concerts continues: a man was arrested after stabbing three people at a campground near the WE Fest in Minnesota.
- Esquire premiered Marty Stuart’s new song, “Jailhouse.”
- Longtime Grand Ole Opry fiddle player Earl White passed away last week at the age of 78.
- Kris Kristofferson will perform at the Ryman on September 13; all proceeds are going to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Tickets go on sale Friday morning. (via press release)
- Check out Taylor Swift in this clip from the upcoming film adaptation of The Giver.
- Ray Stevens is playing it serious on a new gospel collection that comes out on August 19.
- Joe Freeman wrote a piece for Country Weekly about Kelsey Weldon and her excellent new album, The Gold Mine.
- The consistent C.M. Wilcox posted a new Quotable Country.
- Vince Gill is Number 19 on CMT’s All-Time Top 40: Artists’ Choice.
- Trisha Yearwood is on the cover of the September issue of Woman’s Day.
- Lamon Records signed Texan Cody Joe Hodges.
- Rosanne Cash is set to receive the Performing Arts Award from Smithsonian Magazine in October.
- Rolling Stone Country posted some audio of Will Hoge recording “Middle of America” in Studio A.
- Rolling Stone Country also identified “The 26 Albums of 2014 You Probably Didn’t But Really Should Hear.”
- Welcome back, Billy Gilman.
- Kacey Musgraves has announced a ten-day fall tour that will begin September 25 in Tulsa. In other Musgraves news, she and pop star Katy Perry have written a song together that’s loosely based on The Wizard of Oz.
- Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick have teamed up to celebrate their heroes Vern Williams and Ray Park on a new album.
- On September 23, Saguaro Road Records will release a set of 40-year-old, previously unreleased recordings that Jerry Lee Lewis made for Knox Phillips in the 1970s.
- Our friend Rita Ballou posted a new Stoney LaRue song called “Golden Shackles.”
- Kix Brooks shot some mildly amusing new commercials for Zaxby’s restaurants.
- New music videos from the past week or so:
Don Williams – “Sing Me Back Home”
Israel Nash – “Who in Time”
Ben Miller Band – “The Outsider” (for CMT Edge Live)
Del Barber – “Right Side of the Wrong” (Live at WAMU’s Bluegrass Country)
Amber Lawrence – “Superhero”
Ray Benson – “I Ain’t Lookin’ for No Trouble” (Live on The Texas Music Scene)
Pieta Brown – “Before Gas and TV”
Neal Morse – “Heaven Smiled”
Stephanie Lynn – “Two Ships”
RaeLynn – “God Made Girls”
Summer is winding down, but there’s still time to add one more book to your beach reading list: Steve Lowenthal’s Dance of Death, a biography of guitarist/artist/folklorist John Fahey, American Primitive pioneer and the founder of Takoma Records.
Fahey, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 61, is a compelling – and more than a little eccentric — subject: he’s a man who discovered and preserved several obscure prewar blues 78s on his frequent music-hunting trips and destroyed other rare records by flinging them out of his car windows just to watch them shatter. He was drawn to the music of Blind Willie Johnson and Bela Bartok and his own creative output reflects not only those influences, but numerous other styles from around the world. There’s no one album someone can point to that epitomizes Fahey’s music. His 40-some records range from music attributed to “Blind Joe Death” to popular collections of gorgeous instrumental Christmas music that are still in print to lengthy experimental compositions that blend everything from excerpt of one of Adolf Hitler’s speeches to marching band music.
Lowenthal (The Village Voice, Spin), weaving together Fahey’s own writings (including the often satirical, half-fictional liner notes to his own albums), archival research, and interviews with wives, associates, and fellow musicians, traces Fahey’s life from his childhood in the suburban DC to a folk studies program at Berkeley to his battles with addiction, depression, and Epstein-Barr. Readers will notice several familiar names among the numerous figures who orbited Fahey at various moments in his life, including Dick Spottswood, ethnomusicologist DK Wilgus, Joe Bussard, Alan Wilson (who later formed Canned Heat), Takoma signee Leo Kottke, and even, for a brief moment, members of Charles Manson’s Family, who arrived at the Takoma Records office with their leader’s demo tape…and scorching cases of gonorrhea, which they subsequently passed along to most of the label’s staff.
Lowenthal neither deifies his subject nor vilifies him, and the result is a very short (only 240 pages) but engaging warts-and-all book that shines a light on one of roots music’s most fascinating and mysterious figures.
Haggard Salutes Buddy Holly; Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer to Release New Album; Free Lera Lynn Download
- Ray Benson played “Hot Like That” for American Songwriter.
- Listen to “High Life,” from Brad Paisley’s Moonshine in the Trunk.
- Paisley, Vince Gill, Charlie Worsham, and Sara Evans are among the guests who appear on the Doobie Brothers’ next record, Southbound, which comes out November 4.
- Billy Joe Shaver did another entertaining interview, this one with Jewly Hight for CMT Edge. Shaver’s also the subject of an excellent Esquire profile.
- More mandatory reading: Peter Cooper’s new column on Lyle Lovett.
- Jim James and Quiet Life covered Townes Van Zandt’s “Waiting Around to Die.”
- Out September 7: Remember Me, a country music compilation paying tribute to Buddy Holly. Merle Haggard, David Frizzell (who coordinated the project), T. Graham Brown, and more will appear on the benefit album; proceeds will go to the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation, a nonprofit co-founded by Holly’s widow. (via press release)
- Lee Brice visited Sports Illustrated Now to play “I Don’t Dance” – fast-forward to the 28-minute mark of this video. (warning: autoplay)
- MusicTomes.com posted an interview with Scott B. Bomar, author of Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock.
- Taylor Swift tweeted a couple more hints, probably about new music, but perhaps they are cryptic clues that’ll draw some plucky Twitter follower into a Se7en-esque quagmire of murder, mystery, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box.
- Download Lera Lynn’s “Out to Sea.”
- Two live Andrew Combs songs are available for download on LooseMusic.com.
- The New York Times’ Nate Chinen reviewed Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell’s recent AmericanaFest NYC/Lincoln Center Out of Doors performance. The article also includes this quote from Nashville’s mayor, Karl Dean: “I think of Americana as the music that everybody likes.”
- Our pal Donald pointed us toward this Calgary Herald article about a radio station that switched to a format called “QuickHitz,” in which songs are truncated so that the station can play 24 songs an hour instead of 12. Artists like Jann Arden are speaking out against the format, calling it “insulting” and “blasphemy,” while radio execs say it’ll allow stations to play more songs by more artists. Which side are you on?
- Emily Yahr of The Washington Post offers up a hypothesis as to why several country concerts have been beset by alcohol arrests and assaults this summer: For many years, country music was targeted to middle-age women, with the reputation of sappy love songs and family-friendly tunes. Now, the demographics have dramatically changed, as the audience is getting younger and the demand grows for rock-charged songs that blast out of your speakers as you pre-game a concert. At the moment, the genre’s most popular artists (from Aldean to Kenny Chesney to Luke Bryan, whose 2011 smash album was called “Tailgates & Tanlines”) cater to a young, often testosterone-fueled audience, many of whom enjoy an alcoholic beverage before, during and after a show. Some who specialize in security have a theory about why there are so many issues at country shows: Tailgates. (h/t Katy Daley)
- Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer’s Bass & Mandolin will be released on Nonesuch Records September 9. Here’s one of their new songs, “Tarnation.”
Country’s Night to Rock Ratings Drop; Upstate New York Bluegrass Scene Flourishes; Willie’s Braids Up for Auction
- Chris Stapleton played “When the Stars Come Out” for Yahoo’s Ram Country. (warning: autoplay)
- Barry Mazor wrote a fine column for The Wall Street Journal about the Music Maker Relief Foundation, which turns 20 this year.
- The Mavericks have finished recording a new album; it’ll be released next year on Big Machine.
- Paste photographers spent a day shadowing Hank Williams III. Hank 3 is also the subject of a new Nashville Scene feature.
- Upstate New York has a pretty solid bluegrass scene thanks to festivals like Grey Fox, folks like Bill Knowlton, who has held his annual Bluegrass Ramble Picnic since 1973, and artists like Tony Trischka and The Gibson Brothers (the latter act isn’t mentioned in the article, but should be).
- The A.V. Club premiered Cory Branan’s “Missing You Fierce” from The No-Hit Wonder, which comes out August 19.
- Rhett Miller performed a few songs for the Children’s Cancer Association as part of their MyMusicRx program. Watch here.
- On October 5, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix will host a pretty cool auction. A pair of Hank Williams’ cowboy boots, Willie Nelson’s braids, and Buddy Holly’s motorcycle (which a few members of The Crickets gave to Waylon Jennings in the late ‘70s) are just a few of the items that’ll go up on the block.
- Stream Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot.
- On Tuesday night, 7.16 million people tuned into his year’s CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock, a drop from last year, when 8.2 million viewers watched the program.
- Jake Owen shared his drought coping technique in a skit on Jimmy Kimmel Live: urophagia.
- The L.A Times published a feature on fab sister band The Haden Triplets.
- Trampled By Turtles played “Lucy” in the WFPK studios. Watch here.
- The Ben Miller Band played “The Outsider” for CMT Edge.
- The Last Bison’s new album, VA, will be released on September 30. They’re offering the album’s first single, “Every Time,” as a free download.
- Spin.com posted Grace Askew’s “Bad Habit,” which was recorded at Sun Studios.
- If you’re in the area, consider joining the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association. The organization is only a couple weeks old, but it hopes to “function as a support group for member organizations, venues, bands, musicians, and fans.”
- L.A. Weekly argues that surf rock is Southern California’s folk music.
- Get a sneak peek at JD Crowe, Doyle Lawson, and Paul Williams’ upcoming album, Standing Tall and Tough:
Anyone interested in the breadth of the country music tradition can these days get their hands on more of that history than ever before. Much of the genre’s back catalogue, whether of the absolutely essential or the just fun or revealing variety, is increasingly available on compact discs (well, for the time being it is…) as well as via download and online streaming. This is great news for country fans. At the same time, we always need to keep in mind that the bulk of the country tradition has yet to make the analog-to-digital leap. What’s more, at least commercially speaking (online fan sharing is another matter), we know it probably never will.
There remain gaping holes in the catalogues of even the most beloved and widely known country Hall of Famers. Way more Loretta Lynn and Hank Thompson and Eddy Arnold albums are out of print than in, just for instances, and even when it comes to the likes of George Jones or Waylon Jennings the ratios don’t improve to much more than sixty-forty. Not that all of these out-of-print albums are lost masterpieces, understand, though some of them are. More to the point, the also-rans and the long forgotten comprise a lost history of individual artists and of the genre as a whole that helps clarify what country music has meant for fans and radio listeners, in the main, and how it’s been embraced and used, across the decades.
By definition, “Here You Come Again” is keen on those music labels, whether indie or corporate, U.S. or international, that are doing something to fill in some of the blanks. One of these labels whose work I’ve come to value is Morello Records (a country reissue imprint of Brit label Cherry Red), which for the past few years has been specializing in the “2 Classic Albums on 1 CD” thing. I appreciate the niche they’re working for a couple of reasons (the second of which I’ll get to in my next column). First off, when the label tours the catalogue of major country artists, they tend to pause at the least frequented parts of their legends—that is, on the star’s solid-to great albums that were never all that popular to begin with (or even widely known) or on records that were once very popular but that’ve been forgotten.
Drawing from that latter category, last summer, Morello released, on one disc, a pair of strong Marty Robbins albums: 1967’s Tonight Carmen and 1968’s By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Both of these albums went Top Ten and produced at least one Top Ten single, and they’re both exemplary, in their very different ways, of what made Robbins such a beloved and distinctive artist. Carmen includes eleven first-rate examples of Marty working his South-of-the-Border (or nearabouts) persona, not via a format transcendent “El Paso” but as a limited little genre world unto itself. These include, of course, the country chart-topping—and oft anthologized—title track. But the album also includes, just for starters, the haunting “Gardenias in Her Hair,” a #9 hit, for goodness sake, that somehow hasn’t made the cut on any of the several Robbins anthologies currently available on compact disc. Similarly, the even better By the Time I Get to Phoenix album—this is orchestrated Marty, pop Marty, Marty the interpreter—includes another regularly overlooked Robbins hit, the catchy and lovely but deeply paranoid Top Ten single, “Love Is in the Air.” (It opens with the sound of a jet taking off, and Robbins wishing his stewardess lover didn’t ask flyers, “Coffee, tea or me.”)
This phenomenon—major hits from major stars that have failed to make it into the country canon as it’s come down to us on vinyl or compact disc—is frustratingly common. Then again, while hit singles are essential to understanding country music and the careers of its biggest stars, they’re not the whole story at all, as other recent reissues from Morello have reminded.
Take two little-known 1980s albums from the George Jones discography: 1987’s Two Wild Too Long and 1990’s You Oughta Be Here with Me. These albums, which Morello released on a twofer disc about a year ago, produced no big hits and didn’t sell all that well, but that hardly means it’s not important or entertaining to hear them. Why? Truth be told, Too Wild… is one of the weaker albums of Jones’s entire Epic catalog but one that also exemplifies where Jones’ career was at just then. Its string of flop singles—the generically self-referencing “I’m a Survivor,” the almost-but-not-quite-social-relevance of “The USA Today” and the unfunny double entendre of “The Bird” charted at Numbers 26, 52 and 63, respectively—illustrate how desperately Jones and producer Billy Sherrill were grasping for hits in these last days of Jones’ mainstream prime. So you probably don’t need to hear these albums, but… you very well might want to. Plus, the album includes a stripped-down, flooring-it-to-highway-speed take on Hank Williams’ “I’m a Long Gone Daddy” which, to my ears, is probably the best Hank cover George ever did, which considering he earlier cut two album-length Williams tributes is really saying something. You need to hear it.
You Oughta Be Here with Me was even less successful commercially, but I’d say that all past, present and future Jones fans are going to need to hear it, too. The single was “Hell Stays Open (All Night Long)”—I first bought it as a cassingle in 1990—and it didn’t chart at all, presumably due to due to lack of promotion as much as anything else. (Jones had already signed with MCA at this point, making You Oughta… the unheralded final solo album of Jones nearly two-decade Epic Records tenure.) Yet I am here to tell you that “Hell Stays Open” is a great George Jones single nonetheless, an angry ruthless kiss off to a man dying for one more kiss. Jones sings the appropriately miserable hell out of it, and the Bobby Harden-penned lyric provides a master class in how to write a country break-up song. First line of the first verse: “She said Hello—and I said Hon, it’s me.” First line of the final verse: “She said Goodbye—and don’t call me anymore.”
Much of the rest of the album—the loser’s lament “Somebody Always Paints the Walls,” the Roger Miller-penned title track, the definitive version of the prison escape story song “Ol’ Red” (sorry Blake Shelton)—is nearly as strong. In fact, if it weren’t for the earlier-in-the-decade releases I Am What I Am and (with Merle Haggard) A Taste of Yesterday’s Wine, I’d be calling You Ought Be Here with Me Jones’ finest album of the 1980s and a highlight of his entire catalog—albeit one that has been long out of print and hardly anyone has ever heard. It’s frustrating to know that we could make similar claims about some album or other in the catalogs of just about any Hall of Fame career you care to cite.
And that’s the big names. As for all of those important, talented country stars who’re only getting into the Hall of Fame with a ticket…well, the catalogs of these second and third-tier stars, who are the exemplary majority of country music at any given moment, don’t possess glaring holes so much as they just seem to have been swallowed by a black hole altogether. Entire noteworthy careers, sometimes decades long, have been reduced to just ten or a dozen “Best Of” tracks or Greatest Hits. If that.
I’ll take a look at some of Morello’s reissuing of those artists in my next column.
Paisley, Underwood Return as CMA Awards Hosts; Johnny Cash Museum to Open Sun Records Exhibit; Stream Ethan Johns’ New Album
- Trampled By Turtles covered “I’m Goin’ Down” for forthcoming Born in the USA tribute Dead Man’s Town.
- Billy Joe Shaver was featured on NPR yesterday. Listen here.
- Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host the CMA Awards for the seventh consecutive year.
- Stream Jesse Winchester’s “All That We Have is Now” from his final record, A Reasonable Amount of Trouble.
- The Civil Wars, who’ve been on hiatus since late 2012, finally officially broke up. They’re offering their version of “You Are My Sunshine” as a parting gift.
- A Prairie Home Companion will kick off its fall season with Hot Rize and Sara Watkins on September 20. (via press release)
- Nightline shadowed Hunter Hayes a couple months ago when he played a record-breaking 10 shows in 10 cities in 24 hours; they just posted the video online. (warning: autoplay)
- A woman was allegedly gang raped last month after a Tim McGraw concert at the Michigan International Speedway.
- Sammy Kershaw to Country Weekly: “[Country] music is the only genre that hates itself. It wants to be everything else, but country music.”
- Stream Ethan Johns’ new album, The Reckoning.
- Grayson Haver Currin of Wondering Sound explains why the summer music festival bubble is about to burst: With so many festivals pressing to book similar bands within a finite timeframe, many acts are able to command a higher price than they’d generally get for playing the same market. That is, they cost more than they’re worth… For these events to succeed, attendees must be able to afford the tickets. An increase in the number of festivals doesn’t necessarily equate to an increase in the amount the average person can allocate to attend those festivals, many of whose prices continue to climb as bookings agents fight for a critical mass of bands. Pushing for more impressive and expensive lineups means charging consumers more. Doing so represents the potential breaking point for the entire festival model. The supply of festivals is at an all-time high, but no one knows if that’s necessarily true of demand.
- Luke Winslow-King will release Everlasting Arms on Bloodshot Records September 30. Listen to the title track here.
- Chattanooga: “The Lost Music Town of Tennessee.”
- On August 15 The Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville will open an exhibit saluting the legends of Sun Records. The exhibit will run for 18 months.
- Chuck Prophet guests on New American Farmers’ new song, “Aiming for the Daylight.”
- Joe Nichols will play a free show on August 16 at Globe Life Park after the Rangers take on the Angels.
- Hal Ketchum’s got a new album: I’m the Troubadour will be released October 7 on Music Row Records. (via press release)
- The White Sox are celebrating Country Music Night at their August 15 game against the Blue Jays. Easton Corbin will perform on the field before the game, hopefully not at the same time Jose Bautista is taking batting practice. (via press release)
- The Phillies are holding a Country Night this evening.
- This is nice: a 14-year-old whose trombone was stolen at gunpoint in New Orleans got a new instrument thanks to Trombone Shorty.
- Shelby Lynne visited Morning Becomes Eclectic, played a song, and mentioned that she plans to re-release I Am Shelby Lynne with some material that didn’t make the original album.
- NPR broadcast a piece on the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.
- Guitarist Matt Wingate is leaving the Claire Lynch Band; Jim Hurst is slated to fill in for Wingate starting this weekend. Lynch (who’s currently working on a holiday album) will announce the band’s new guitarist following IBMA’s World of Bluegrass in late September.
- DangerousMinds.net posted a bunch of photos taken of Woody Guthrie in New York City, including Guthrie performing on the subway and singing for a shoeshine guy.
- Shooter Jennings covered “She Thinks I Still Care” on his new George Jones tribute EP.
- Bluegrass Today and The Bluegrass Situation premiered songs from the forthcoming Earls of Leicester album.
- Martina McBride interviewed Kenny Rogers for Entertainment Tonight. (warning: autoplay)
- Burrito lover Taylor Swift is dropping hints about…something (her inability to use an elevator?) on her Instagram.
- Dig twangy Telecaster? Of course you do; that’s why you’re here. The Charleston Daily Mail says you might enjoy Prison Book Club.
- ABC will air Country’s Night to Rock this evening. Yay?
- Nikki Lane played Conan last night. (warning: autoplay)
- Relix has been serving up some solid performance videos from folks like Kelsey Waldon, Robby Hecht, and Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers.
- Brad Paisley has added “Me and Jesus” as a bonus track on forthcoming album Moonshine in the Trunk in honor of Dr. Kent Brantly, an American physician who became infected with Ebola while doing charity work in Liberia.
- Chris Parton of CMT Edge wants you to rediscover The Allman Brothers Band’s “Statesboro Blues” with this animated video.
- New Englanders: the Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival is kicking off on Thursday in Hebron, Connecticut. This year’s lineup includes The SteelDrivers, Adkins & Loudermilk, The Bankesters, and Donna Ulisse.
- On October 4, Lee Ann Womack will join the Del McCoury Band onstage at IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass fest. (via press release)
- MusicRow.com reports that the RIAA named Jason Aldean the top male country artist in the history of the organization’s digital gold and platinum awards. Aldean has racked up “more than 21.5 million cumulative RIAA Digital Single certifications, counting song downloads and on-demand streams.”
- Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. EDT, you’ll be able to stream Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell’s Lincoln Center Out of Doors performance. Robert Ellis opens. The Lincoln Center also plans to stream an August 9 show featuring Rosanne Cash, The Lone Bellow, and Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale. Laura Cantrell will host the live stream feeds.
- The third season premiere of Nashville, scheduled to air on ABC September 24, will feature live performances from Charles Esten and Chris Carmack, who’ll perform for both the East and West Coast broadcasts.
- My pal Chris pointed me toward Finnish bluegrassish band Steve ‘N’ Seagulls, who cover songs like AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and Dio’s “Holy Diver.”
- This week’s album releases (thanks for helping to support E145 by purchasing your music through our affiliate links):
Billy Joe Shaver – Long in the Tooth
Larry Sparks – Lonesome and Then Some: A Classic 50th Celebration
Sunny Sweeney – Provoked
Christopher Denny – If the Roses Don’t Kill Us
Ben Miller Band – Any Way, Shape or Form
Shooter Jennings – Don’t Wait Up (For George)
Claydon Connor – Under the Big Sky
Risa Binder – Nashville
Angus & Julia Stone – Angus & Julia Stone
Goodnight, Texas – Uncle John Farquhar
Secret Sisters – Put Your Needle Down (Deluxe Edition)
- Blake Shelton will release Bringing Back the Sunshine on September 30.
- Ben Folds will be vacating Studio A after the new owners informed him that they will be increasing his rent 124%.
- Beville Dunkerley interviewed Jamie Lynn Spears for Rolling Stone Country.
- Keith Urban wrote a piece for The Tennessean asking for the preservation of historic buildings along Music Row: “The past, present and the future are ALL still here — but the Row is currently under threat from developers. Nashville has exploded as a music town, and not just country music. Musicians from all genres, all over the world are making the pilgrimage here to immerse themselves in the kind of creative center that so many other cities have lost but that Nashville still maintains. Nashville’s growth is exciting, but not at the risk of losing the creative epicenter that is Music Row and that truly makes Nashville Music City. I sincerely hope that those who have made Nashville their home over the years, and those who have recently discovered our fair city, will come together as a united front and continue to be vocal about preserving and fortifying our beloved Music Row.”
- Urban also responded to the alleged rape that occurred at his Boston-area show last month, saying that he was “horrified” to hear about the event and that “this type of behavior stands in stark contrast to the spirit of our shows.”
- Markos Papadatos makes the case for Dottie West to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- Ryan Adams’ “When the Stars Go Blue” is the American Songwriter Lyric of the Week.
- RockyGrass was featured on PBS NewsHour late last week.
- Chuck Dauphin (Billboard) wrote a tribute to Jim Reeves on the 50th anniversary of the singer’s death.
- IRS Records has signed the duo Muddy Magnolias.
- Trigger Hippy, a band in which Joan Osborne and Jackie Greene share lead vocals, has signed with Rounder Records.
- Statesboro Revue’s Stewart Mann wrote a sweet song called “Superman (A Song for Danny)” for a six-year-old cancer patient.
- Taylor Swift serenaded a seven-year old leukemia patient, played air hockey, and talked Spider-Man with the kid.
- Emily West made the semifinals of America’s Got Talent.
- Listen to a teaser of the Josh Abbott Band’s new single, “Hangin’ Around.”
- Paul Williams on his new album with JD Crowe and Doyle Lawson: “How amazing is it that three guys on Medicare can still be onstage performing this great American music called Bluegrass?”
- Proving quality still can sell, Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round” was certified platinum while the single “Follow Your Arrow” and Same Trailer, Different Park have gone gold.
- The thorough C.M. Wilcox celebrates six years of Quotable Country.
- Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down” jumped from #42 to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, setting a new record. At Aldean’s Saturday night concert in Hartford, 30 people were hospitalized for “alcohol related incidents” and a drunk driver hit a police officer.
- “Why Maddie & Tae’s ‘Girl in a Country Song’ is good for country music.”
- Montgomery Gentry unveiled “Headlights,” their new single.
- Aimee Graham wrote a nice feature about “A Woman Like You” and “Flashlight” songwriter Johnny Bulford.
- The Rolling Stones came in at number 20 on CMT’s All-Time Top 40: Artists’ Choice, a countdown of the most influential artists in history, chosen by country artists.
- Kelly Willis is this month’s featured artist over at My Kind of Country.
- New music videos from the past week or so:
Hunter Hayes – “Tattoo”
Maddie & Tae – “Girl in a Country Song”
Deana Carter – “Do or Die”
Ben Bradford – “Tequila Makes the World Go Round”
April Kry – “Beauty Queen”
Grace Askew – “Cinnamon”
The Tillers – “Shanty Boat” (Live at WAMU Bluegrass Country)
John Berry – “City of New Orleans”
Randy Travis – “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me”
Billy Dean – “Wounded Warrior”
Danielle Bradbery – “Say Something”
The Infamous Stringdusters – “Summercamp”
On September 9, singer-songwriter Drew Kennedy will release his seventh album, the two-disc live record Sad Songs Happily Played.
Like a lot of good things in life, this record was unplanned. In fact, Kennedy didn’t have a clue he was making a live album until after the show. Here’s his story:
So here’s what happened— I played a show on a Friday night. A Friday night in November of 2013, to be exact. I thought the show went really well. It was in an old post office south of Houston, TX. 150 people came to the show. The venue holds 150 people, so I was happy about that. After the night had ended the sound engineer asked me if I would have changed anything about the sound or my monitor mix. Here’s how it went:
Him: “How’d it sound— would you want anything different next time?”
Me: “Yeah. I would want you to record the next one because I’d love to make a live record here sometime.”
Him: “Oh, uh, hmmmm…”
Him: “Uh… I was supposed to ask you but I forgot to. You were supposed to give me permission to record it.”
Me: “Son of a–”
Him: “–I recorded it.”
This morning, we’re pleased to premiere one of the new songs from Sad Songs Happily Played, “Things Change.”
- bob: Thanks Barry. Just reserved the Adam Gussow book. Sounds interesting.
- Barry Mazor: It may be over-stated, in arriving at practically a single explanation of everything, but Adam Gussow's book on lynching and …
- Leeann: Wow! Heavy topic and horrifying indeed! "Beer for My Horses" was all fun and games until that reference, I'll have …
- Barry Mazor: Everything else aside, the way that reporter fills us in, with must-have, pointless generational snark included, about who this "Little …
- luckyoldsun: "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia" seems to be about a lynching--even if there's something about a judge …
- Arlene: Sorry. I meant to give the link for "Supper Time." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ58Kfe41kI
- Arlene: Another song sung by Ethel Waters: Irving Berlin's "Supper Time"
- bob: Powerful songs. I read the book "A Lynching in the Heartland" by James H. Madison about a dozen years ago. …
- Ron: Sky Above, Mud Below by Tom Russell is another.
- Jack Williams: Another Othis Taylor song from White African is "My Soul's in Louisiana."