- 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”
Kenny and Amanda Smith’s debut release Slowly But Surely in 2001 was meant mainly for family and friends, but bluegrass radio and fans would have none of it. Embracing the couple and their music, fans propelled that first album’s “Amy Brown” to the top of the bluegrass charts.
The Kenny and Amanda Smith Band has since recorded eight albums, enjoyed more chart success, and solidified its presence in the bluegrass community and beyond. KASB’s latest album, Catch Me If I Try (2012), has enjoyed several singles on the Bluegrass Today charts – the title track reached #1 last November.
As a young band, KASB won the 2003 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year award and has gone on to earn several IBMA, Grammy, and Dove award nominations. More important, they’ve gained fans worldwide and have landed some pretty impressive gigs such as opening shows for the great Loretta Lynn and the late George Jones.
The band’s appeal centers largely on Amanda’s vocals, which, as well as stirring fans like Del McCoury to say she had “God’s gift” to sing, garnered her an IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year nomination in 2013. Kenny, the band’s lead guitarist, is also a prolific Nashville-area flatpick and session guitarist, a member of The Rambling Rooks, and a two-time IBMA Guitarist of the Year in his own right. Prior to KASB, he played lead guitar for Claire Lynch’s Front Porch String Band and the Lonesome River Band, consecutively.
Since their last release, Kenny and Amanda have maintained a fast pace, performing full-band shows as well as house concerts and camps as a Kenny and Amanda duet. Recently, amid their busy summer bluegrass festival circuit schedule, the couple made time to share with Engine 145 a little insight into their continuing story of love, faith and bluegrass.
Let’s start at the beginning of your story. You two recently celebrated 15 years of marriage. How did you meet?
Kenny Smith: We met at the Milton Opry House in Milton, West Virginia. Lonesome River Band was playing that night. I saw Amanda right away and thought, “She’s beautiful. I’d like to date her.” Then I got to thinking how she probably doesn’t even like bluegrass … or maybe her parents dragged her there or whatever we tell ourselves in that situation. After the show, she walked up and told me that she sang and played guitar and that she had made a cassette tape she wanted me to hear. She said “Tell me what you think” and “Hey, my phone number is inside.”
AS: I was giving him excuse to call (laughs). I always went to festivals with Mom and Dad, but we hadn’t gone, gosh, for six months or more. I hadn’t heard that Tim Austin had decided to leave Lonesome River Band, so when Kenny walked out, it was a surprise. I couldn’t figure out who he was, and I thought he was cute. I worked up courage the whole night to talk to him.
KS: I listened to Amanda’s cassette. I loved her singing, so I called her. On our first date, we were sitting on her mom and dad’s couch, when she said, “Do you want to pick?” That’s pretty much where it all started for me. I’d never had a girl ask me to do that. We played for two or three hours I guess, and she knew pretty much the same songs I knew. I remember leaving that night thinking, “I really hope this one turns out.”
How did your first album, Slowly But Surely, play into the formation of your band?
AS: We truly didn’t have plans to start a band with Slowly But Surely. Kenny was still with Lonesome River Band, and I had a job. We hadn’t even spoke of a band at that point I don’t guess. Then, one of our friends, a DJ in Knoxville, started playing “Winter’s Come and Gone,” and it hit the bluegrass charts. After that, several DJs followed suit and began playing the song. It was one example of how people in the industry kept kind of shoving us toward starting a band and in a polite way began saying, “You need to do this.” We were thrilled and surprised to land on the charts and just as surprised to win the Emerging Artist award soon after.
What a testament to the power of radio at a time when DJs often seem to have little power to choose their playlist. Is bluegrass an exception to this trend?
AS: Yeah, I don’t think the ropes are quite as tightened in our genre, judging from the friends we know that are DJs. We come across fans often who have heard us on the radio and then come out to listen to us.
KS: True. The downfall to that is that we have to compete with everything that’s been recorded since about 1946, for an hour of programming. That’s what separates our music from some of the other genres. And most DJs have to choose all of that stuff. So, anytime we hear our songs on the radio we’re amazed because that means the DJ thought enough of our music to put us on.
How has your sound as a group evolved over the years?
AS:KASB has evolved on its own through a live-and-learn kind of process. From the onset, we always wanted to be recognizable. At first, that was tough. People don’t know your songs, so it’s easy to fall back on covers. We didn’t want to do that – from the first album, we tried to stay strong with that and not bend with that. People we looked up to– Blue Highway, Claire Lynch, Alison Krauss & Union Station and others – had their own sound and their own songs. I think that’s the key to longevity.
KS: In the last several years, it’s become clear that that was a good decision. With each album, we’re not trying to copy what this one or that one has done. We’ve stuck to our guns and so far, it’s really worked out for us. We’ve been able to settle in and people are enjoying what we do.
Where does KASB fit within the bluegrass genre?
AS: Bluegrass is our foundation – that’s where our shows are. But we also make music –our vocals, especially, I think – that falls into a range that’s pleasing in an Americana or country or contemporary Christian setting, too. When you get down to it, we want to make music that a child would love and that a 90-year-old person would adore. That’s hard, and you can’t please everyone, but we do really try to be considerate.
Amanda, who were your musical influences growing up?
AS: I grew up singing in church – that was the main influence. My parents listened to classic country, and I remember being drawn to Tammy Wynette’s voice. We listened also to ‘80s pop and ‘50s and ‘60s rock. I had Ricky Skaggs’ Live in London, and I remember getting out in the yard dancing and singing to that (laughs). I had every word down, and I had the ’80s cassette Full Tilt. I guess I had a lot of musical influences that I didn’t even realize at the time. I loved singing and memorizing the words and melodies.
I didn’t hear bluegrass until I was in high school. I was driving home from work one day, and I heard Alison Krauss on the local country station. I ended up purchasing my first bluegrass album shortly after that. It was Alison’s Every Time You Say Goodbye.
Kenny, who inspired you to learn how to flatpick?
KS: My dad and grandpa were fiddlers. My brother and I grew up hearing those tunes, and Norman Blake was the first guy I saw that was taking the fiddle tunes and picking the lead out on the guitar. My dad ordered a couple of Norman Blake records for me, and I started learning to pick. This was in the 70s. Learning was different. The only time I really learned anything was when one of dad’s friends would take the time to show me some things, and they did from time to time. Dad was a good fiddler, so he had a lot of people who would come over to play music. My brother and I would sit and watch these guys. It really trained our ear. I remember, too, going to a lot of fiddle contests. My brother would enter the banjo contest, and I would carry around a tape recorder. If somebody had a new tune, I’d record it to try to learn it. There are a lot more tools available now, but that was how I learned to play. That’s why I take the time to teach, as I have at Adam Chowning’s Nashville Flatpick Camp, for instance. I like what Adam is doing with his camps. They’re more intimate. They remind me of when I was a kid and these guys would come over and show me stuff. It’s not so much academic learning as it is a one-on-one, “Hey, what are you doing there?” approach, and I try to show them.
I’ve taught at Wintergrass Academy for many years, too, and I’ve taught at Augusta, Nimble Fingers (Canada), Kaufman, and others. Amanda’s been involved, too, especially as part of bluegrass harmony workshops.
What are some of your favorite guitars?
KS: My 1935 D-18 Martin guitar and my 1948 Regal Milford. As far as newer guitars, I have a Suda 12-fret dread that I enjoy.
AS: I have a 1953 D-18 Martin and I also have a Collings D1A Sunburst.
How does your faith factor into your musical choices?
KS: It’s 180% of everything in our life as musicians–when it came to starting a band and a business, we prayed about it. We go by faith, and we feel like if this is what God wants us to do, it’ll happen. Before I met Amanda, I prayed the lord would send me someone to share my life with.
AS: One of the great things about bluegrass, gospel has always been a big part of the music. But generally speaking, I always look for a song that speaks to me in a positive manner. And we’re always looking for that song that’s uplifting. It’s the bulk of our material. Jesus is the center of what we’re trying to do.
What’s next for Kenny & Amanda Smith?
AS: We are planning to record a new Kenny & Amanda album under our own label, Farm Boy Records. We are in the process of gathering songs now and look forward to sharing new music with our fans.
Ashley Monroe Hospitalized; Mac Wiseman Announces New Album; Rodney Crowell Named Musical Director of Everly Brothers Tribute
- Ashley Monroe has canceled some upcoming shows due to a severe kidney infection. As she posted on her website yesterday, “This is very serious and I’m heading back to Nashville to go to the hospital. Thank you for understanding and please keep me in your prayers. I’m so sorry for the disappointment this will cause, but if I don’t take care of this it could risk my life. I promise I will make it up to you all.” Best wishes to Monroe for a swift recovery.
- After 27 years, the Rodeo Bar in NYC is closing due to rent increases and a “changing landscape.”
- On October 25, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame plans to honor the Everly Brothers with a tribute concert. Rodney Crowell will serve as the show’s musical director and Don Everly will appear at the event.
- Julie Roberts released a video for “Good Wine & Bad Decisions.”
- NPR’s Ann Powers looks at three young country acts to watch: Charlie Worsham, Steelism, and Striking Matches.
- Deer Tick played a Back Porch Session for Garden & Gun.
- Check out Sunny Sweeney’s “My Bed,” featuring Will Hoge.
- Kasey Chambers released a video for “Wheelbarrow,” a song from her forthcoming album, Bittersweet (out August 29).
- Stephen Deusner looks at 10 ‘90s albums that defined the alt-country movement.
- Miranda Lambert was on NPR’s Morning Edition. Listen here.
- Robbie Fulks and The Mekons’ Jon Langford and Sally Timms are playing a couple shows in Chicago this weekend to help raise funds for their upcoming Scotland tour, which they’re calling “Hideout in the Highlands.” The Chicago Sun-Times reports that “the six-date tour spans Aug. 9-19 and will include recording sessions for a new album featuring all three, along with other members of the Mekons who live elsewhere in the world and are included in the traveling musical caravan: violinist Susie Honeyman, accordionist/vocalist Rico Bell and guitarist Lu Edmonds. The venues range from the Belladrum Festival, where the group will share a bill along with Tom Jones, Frightened Rabbit, Billy Bragg, and others, and the tiny village hall of Stromness, located on the remote island of Orkney.”
- CMT Edge posted Caleb Caudle’s “Trade All the Lights.”
- LeAnn Rimes will release a Christmas EP later in the year.
- Remember Billy Gilman? Now 26, he’s got a new single called “Say You Will.” Listen here.
- Monroeville’s got a new music video.
- Our pal Eric of Music Tomes interviewed Joel Selvin, author of Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues.
- Steve Goodson presented “A Blessed Work in a Somber World: Selections from The Hank Williams Reader” at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Here’s the video.
- Mac Wiseman will release Songs from My Mother’s Hand, an album of folk songs that his mother transcribed off the radio when Wiseman was a child, on September 23.
Earlier this month, young singer-songwriter Jonah Tolchin recently released his second full-length record (and Yep Roc debut), Clover Lane. Produced by Marvin Etzioni, the album – which includes guests like Chris Scruggs, Mickey Raphael, and Steve Berlin – is a damn good record that marks the New Jersey native, who’s currently on the road with Dave and Phil Alvin, as an Americana up-and-comer.
We’ve got five copies of Tolchin’s new CD to give away to Engine 145 readers, and since it’s Friday, we’re going to celebrate one of our favorite recurring features, the Friday Five, which has covered topics like hookers with hearts of gold, country singers who’ve appeared on Sesame Street, atomic bombs, New Wave covers, and songs about drag. And every now and again, we get musicians like Valerie June and Pokey LaFarge to put together their own Friday Fives.
Enter to win a copy of Clover Lane by leaving a comment below that mentions your favorite Friday Five from our archives. Winners will be chosen by random number generator on Tuesday, July 15 at 10 a.m. EDT and notified by email, so be sure to use a valid address.
Reporting back just after exiting the Nashville site of Garth Brooks’ web-streamed press conference, Marathon Music Works, Barry Mazor reports that the animated Mr. Brooks announced his signing by Sony Entertainment; specifically, by RCA Nashville, with a release equivalent to a new double album of what he called “Garth music.” Due out by the Thanksgiving shopping season, it will feature both self-written songs and new ones offered by top Nashville songwriters over the past three months. He revealed that, for the first time, the body of his previous work will become available digitally within the next weeks “at a stupid price” –but exclusively at his own website.
He also officially announced an expected oncoming world tour, details coming soon, at what he suggested would be affordable ticket prices, with huge sets already in the works. Brooks generally presented himself as determined but uncertain about his prospects in taking a chance at “a second half of a career,” facing a new, often younger audience who only heard about him from their parents.. A second career half, he suggested, “is not just granted.” He took some time explaining the complicated situation that left his planned 5-date shows in Ireland in limbo, as of now, apparently cancelled–ample evidence that the return can have its complications.
(All photos by Barry Mazor.)
Drunk History to Portray Kristofferson & Cash’s First Meeting; Stax Musical in the Works; Music City Roots Relocates
- Ketch Secor put together a list of eight essential Americana albums released in the last 15 years; his selections include The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Genuine Negro Jig and Iris DeMent’s Sing the Delta.
- Garth Brooks is holding a press conference (which you can stream here) at noon today. The 615 reports that sources say Brooks is announcing not only a mega comeback tour, but an album as well.
- Brooks is also still holding out hope that the Ireland concerts can be salvaged.
- Relix posted a 2013 video of Bobby Womack playing a few songs in the magazine’s NYC headquarters.
- Our pal Eric Banister recapped the sixth season finale of The Marty Stuart Show, which focused on Stuart’s relationship with Johnny Cash.
- Prepare to spend your entire day watching Music Vault’s videos of live performances by Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Sarah Jarosz,and about a billionty other artists. (warning: autoplay)
- This Nashville Public Radio piece on the “Save Studio A” movement is a pretty good summary of events.
- The 615’s Chuck Dauphin wrote a feature on Nikki Lane.
- Jamey Johnson to Jewly Hight (the whole interview is well worth your time): “In my career, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of my different heroes, and I can tell you that after meeting and spending time with guys like George Strait and Ray Price and Willie and Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard and Hank Williams Jr., there’s very few things that all of those guys have in common. The things that they do have in common, they all have, I’d say, an indomitable sense of self. It can’t be brought down. There’s nothin’ you’re gonna say or do that’s gonna make Hank Jr. stop bein’ Hank Jr., or make George Strait stop bein’ George Strait. So that tells me that all of the messages that I get from them through their songs or through their writing or through their day-to-day interactions with other people, that all of those messages right there are things about them that you can count on. That makes me aspire to be the same way.”
- Darius Rucker wants Old Crow Medicine Show to appear on his next record.
- Peter Cooper’s new column is all about national treasure Jean Shepard and her book, Down Through the Years.
- The lineup for the 2014 Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love (which will be held in Marfa, Texas from September 25-28) looks pretty killer, with Elizabeth Cook, The Old 97s, Robert Ellis, and more slated to perform.
- Members of the John Henry Historical Society are restoring an old building in Talcott, West Virginia to serve as a museum dedicated to the steel-driving folk hero. (h/t Jeff)
- Edd Hurt of The Nashville Scene penned a feature on Cowboy Jack Clement’s final record, For Once and For All, which comes out next week.
- Dallas Davidson was arrested in Nashville early this morning for disorderly conduct and public intoxication. TMZ reports that Davidson was challenging “various people” to fight and shouting racial and homophobic slurs.
- If you’re interested in learning about the business strategies of Nashville’s top managers, check out Holly Gleason’s neat new article, “When It Comes to Music City Management Styles, It’s Different Strokes for Different Folks.”
- On September 27, Carrie Underwood will headline the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.
- American Songwriter looks at “Sweet Amarillo,” the newest Bob Dylan/Old Crow Medicine Show song.
- Music City Roots relocated from the Loveless Café to The Factory at Franklin. Last night was their first show in the new location.
- Next week’s episode of Drunk History will focus on American music; here’s a clip from the episode that portrays the first meeting between Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash. Not too long ago, Drunk History delivered a pretty funny sketch about Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, so this should be a fun episode.
- Concord Music Group and Stuart Benjamin (Ray) are working on a Broadway musical about Stax Records; it is expected to premiere in 2016.
- Here’s a new video for Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis’ recording of “Motor City Man.”
Womack & Douglas to Host IBMA Awards; Nashville Songwriters HoF Announces Inductees; Concord Acquires Vee-Jay Catalog
- Lee Ann Womack and Jerry Douglas will cohost this year’s IBMA Awards in Raleigh on October 2.
- Loretta Lynn, Taj Mahal, Flaco Jimenez, and Jackson Browne will be honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Americana Music Association Honors and Awards in Nashville this September.
- Gretchen Peters, Tom Douglas, John Anderson, and Paul Craft are going to get officially inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in October. (via press release)
- Best wishes to Dawn Sears, who has hit what she calls a “bump in the road” in her battle against cancer.
- Check out Dom Flemons’ video for “Can’t Do It Anymore.”
- From The New York Times: “Concord Music Group…has acquired the catalog of Vee-Jay Records, a storied blues and soul label of the 1950s and ‘60s that put out records by the Staple Singers, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker and Jerry Butler.”
- Kasey Chambers is slowly revealing the artwork for her forthcoming album, Bittersweet.
- All five of Garth Brooks’ Dublin shows have been canceled, but listen to these Irish language students deliver a translated version of Garth’s cover of “Callin’ Baton Rouge.”
- There are openings for a Facilities Manager and an Assistant Director of the Museum and Education Center at the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, Arkansas.
- Sean Watkins chats with Jewly Hight about his newest solo album and Nickel Creek’s reunion.
- Download a free Howlin’ Brothers live EP on NoiseTrade.
- Robbie Fulks discusses road food and shares a recipe for spaghetti and meatballs in this highly entertaining Paste Q&A.
- Owensboro, Kentucky, home of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, wants to be added to the Americana Music Triangle, a 1,500 mile, music-centered trail that runs through Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, and a few dozen other important music towns.
- The Roys released a lyric video for “No More Lonely.”
- On July 31, Hank Snow, Shania Twain, k.d. lang, Tommy Hunter, and Renee Martel will be honored with Canadian postage stamps. Check out the designs here.
- The L.A. Times ran a neat feature on Ben and Ellen Harper and the family-owned Folk Music Center in Claremont, a store that inspired mother and son to collaborate on Childhood Home earlier in the year.
- John Cowan will release Sixty August 24 on Compass Records. He’ll have more than 30 guests on the record, including Ray Benson, Alison Krauss, Rodney Crowell, Chris Hillman, and Sam Bush. (via press release)
- AmericanBluesScene.com published a piece on The Killer Blues Headstone Project, a nonprofit that places headstones on blues musicians’ unmarked graves. (The one non-performer who got a headstone: “Stagger” Lee Shelton.)
- The 43rd Winnipeg Folk Fest kicks off today, but earlier this week, The Winnipeg Free Press looked back at the inaugural festival, which was held to celebrate the town’s centennial.
- Randy Rogers tells Kelly Dearmore about the history of his annual tour with Wade Bowen.
Here’s what Barry Mazor had to say about The Running Kind in one of last year’s Root Watches:
Cantwell finds a key to understanding Merle’s ever-evolving stances, attitudes and musical fixations, and more than a little of his grand original song catalogue, in the refrigerator car-raised Californian’s charged, obsessive reflexes and swinging door reflections on being entrapped and trying, often failing, to break free (of cells, lovers, attitudes), on standing firm, being hounded and bolting like crazy, on being judged and judging. This is a portrait of creative genius—in the hands of a man who long seemed to take an internal prison named “Merle Haggard” along with him no matter how fast and far he’d run, who, in fact revealed to an interviewer a few years back that he loved sleeping on his endlessly traveling tour bus because the bedroom was the size of a cell.
To enter our contest, leave a comment below – before 9 a.m. EDT, Friday, July 11 — that mentions your favorite music book and why you love it. Hey, even if you don’t win, you’ll at least get some suggestions to add to your summer reading list. A winner will be chosen via random number generator and notified by email, so be sure to use a valid address.
- Alice Gerrard, who celebrates her 80th birthday today, is going to release a new album called Follow the Music on Tompkins Square September 30.
- This is a sentence I never thought I’d write: Taylor Swift wrote a fine article for The Wall Street Journal. No, really, she got a stipple portrait and everything. An excerpt from the piece: “In recent years, you’ve probably read the articles about major recording artists who have decided to practically give their music away, for this promotion or that exclusive deal. My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet…is that they all realize their worth and ask for it. Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”
- Since Swift isn’t getting rich from print journalism, it’s a good thing her Red Tour is the highest-grossing country tour to date, raking in more than $150 million.
- Reigning IBMA Entertainers of the Year The Gibson Brothers have signed with Rounder Records; the band will release their next album in January. (via press release)
- Loretta Lynn shares her memories of Conway Twitty and discusses her start in country music in this video interview. (warning: autoplay)
- Barry Mazor rounded up a handful of new music books that are worth your time, including Steve Cushing’s Pioneers of the Blues Revival and Steve Lowenthal’s John Fahey biography, Dance with Death.
- Some jerkwad abandoned a dog at Glastonbury. It ended up getting named after this year’s festival headliner: Dolly Parton. The Rhinestoned One herself may adopt the pup. This better result in a new addition to our “Pictures of Country Singers Holding Puppies” Twitter series.
- Della Mae played a tune for Folk Alley.
- From The A.V. Club: “Folk is 2014’s heaviest music.”
- Hugh Bob & The Hustle played a few songs for CMT’s Concrete Country.
- East Tennessee town Lake City officially changed its name to Rocky Top late last month.
- The 37th annual Uncle Dave Macon Days celebration kicks off this week in Murfreesboro. Performers include Roland White and the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band.
- Dierks Bentley: “Nashville’s all about great songs. We’re just the vessels.”
- Bentley and The Secret Sisters guest on “Got Leaving on Her Mind,” a song on Cowboy Jack Clement’s final album.
- Edward Morris of CMT.com put together a list of a dozen new and recent drinking songs.
- TheMusic.com asks if Aussie pop-country band The McClymonts could be the act to bridge the gap between country music and city audiences: “In Sydney and Melbourne particularly, alt-country and Americana nights are attracting regular crowds of punters who are listening to country without the tag. And even though the three sisters that make up The McClymonts have built a career under the country banner, the mix of demographics that were dancing in the venue’s aisles to back catalogue numbers like Two Worlds Collide as well as new hits like Here’s To You & I proved that music’s oldest cliché – that great music will rise above genres – is true even for Australia’s most segregated mainstream scene.” What do you think, antipodean amigos?
- In September, Rhett Miller and some currently unnamed “All-Stars of Texas Country Music” will play a benefit concert in Fort Worth to help the family of late sportswriter Richard Durrett.
- Chris Stifel has left Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie to pursue other options; he’s been replaced by Tom Adams.
- Not country related — though “In the Mood” sounds mighty fine on a banjo – but fellow history and music nerds may be interested in tonight’s episode of History Detectives on PBS, which will look at Glenn Miller’s disappearance.
- This week’s album releases:
The Mastersons – Good Luck Charm
Mary Sarah – Bridges
I Draw Slow – White Wave Chapel
David Olney – When the Deal Goes Down
Peter Rowan – Dharma Blues
Noel McKay – Is That So Much to Ask
Blackberry Smoke – Leave a Scar: Live in North Carolina
BlackHawk – Brothers of the Southland
John Hartford – Life, Love & Music: 5 Essential Albums 1966-1969
Brenda Lee – The Complete US & UK Singles As & Bs 1956-62
Dale Watson – The Truckin’ Sessions Trilogy (mp3)
- A DVD:
Linda Ronstadt – Blue Bayou: Live 1977
- And a book:
- Garth Brooks is back, and holding a press conference on Thursday at noon to announce whatever it is that he’s got planned. (warning: autoplay)
- Brooks’ upcoming Ireland tour may be in jeopardy after officials only granted licenses for three of the planned five shows.
- Kenny Loggins made the announcement that he and the rest of the Blue Sky Riders are going the Kickstarter route in lieu of chasing a record deal.
- Meghan Linsey, formerly of Steel Magnolia, reached her crowd-sourcing goal on PledgeMusic and will release her debut solo album this week.
- Rolling Stone Country put together a photo gallery of Craig Morgan’s most-recent USO trip to Afghanistan.
- The dedicated C.M. Wilcox has a new Quotable Country feature up over at Country California.
- I counted down my favorite albums and songs of the first half of 2014 over at That Nashville Sound. What are yours?
- Stream Trampled By Turtles’ Wild Animal at NPR.
- Peter Cooper wrote another great column at The Tennessean, this time about David Olney.
- The City of Pittsburgh wants to change their current policies in order to prevent massive cleanups like the ones that followed Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan’s Steel City concerts. Two ideas that local authorities have proposed include putting a time limit on tailgating and requiring promoters put down a deposit to help cover cleaning costs.
- Kenny Rogers stars in a new Geico commercial.
- Jimmy Wayne outlined details about his upcoming autobiography, Walk to Beautiful, at The Boot.
- Gas Monkey Garage/Gas Monkey Bar ‘N Grill owner and Discover Channel personality Richard Rawlings says David Allan Coe tried to extort his club. According to Rawlings, Coe wanted more money to perform outside. The show ended up getting canceled.
- Eric Church has released a 19-minute short film that ties together all the music videos he’s released for songs from The Outsiders.
- Motley Crue digs the spin that The Mavericks put on “Dr. Feelgood.”
- Mother Jones has published an interview of Holly Williams. An excerpt: “It’s not that I see myself operating outside of country music in that I don’t like it, or I don’t want to be there. I’d like to think that my music would be played on country radio if it were the ’90s, when they had a lot more singer-songwriters on there, like Lyle Lovett and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Now it’s all that “bro-country,” with Daisy Dukes, beer, tailgating, and fireworks. So everybody calls me an Americana artist or singer-songwriter, along with those people who are not mainstream enough for country radio today. I think “The Highway” is a country song, but radio doesn’t hear it that way, so I’m just living on the outskirts.”
- BusinessWeek.com looks at Miranda Lambert’s growing business empire.
- 1950s RCA Records artist and Maine Country Music Hall of Famer Betty Cody passed away last Tuesday at the age of 92. (warning: autoplay)
- James Taylor came in at No. 24 on CMT’s All-Time Top 40: Artists’ Choice.
- Former One Flew South bandmates Eddie Bush and Chris Roberts wrote a new song for Bush’s forthcoming album; you can preview it here.
- New music videos from the past week or so:
Parker Milsap – “Heaven Sent” (Live from Mountain Stage)
Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen – “She Said She Will” (Live performance for WAMU’s Bluegrass Country)
Corb Lund – “Counterfeiter’s Blues”
Old Crow Medicine Show – “Sweet Amarillo”
The Easy Leaves – “The American”
Goodnight, Texas – “A Bank Robber’s Nursery Rhyme”
Kenny Chesney – “American Kids”
Ark Life – “Proud of Me Out There, Mama”
- Jack: "I got turned off a not so new guy’s music after he started recording songs like “Get Drunk and Be …
- A.B.: I think I understand why the eating disorder facility wants to be located there besides it being the former Cash …
- 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.