Earl Scruggs Passes Away; Jamey Johnson Salutes Hank Cochran; Mississippi Country Music Trail Honors Bob Ferguson

Juli Thanki | March 29th, 2012

  • Jamey Johnson is finishing up a Hank Cochran tribute record, on which he’ll team up with artists like Ray Price, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, and others. No release date has been set.
  • On Saturday, Bob Ferguson will be honored by the Mississippi Country Music Trail with a marker in Philadelphia, Miss.
  • Listen to “Wildwood Boys” from the upcoming South Memphis String Band record, which is due out May 8.
  • The Wall Street Journal’s Jim Fusilli wrote a fine feature on the Hall of Fame’s new Bakersfield exhibit. He does note that “[a]s comprehensive as it strives to be, the exhibition fails to fully credit the role of Mexican conjunto or norteño music in the development of the Bakersfield Sound. Dwight Yoakam and Chris Hillman discuss it briefly in a video, and accordionist Flaco Jiménez is saluted for his contribution to the 1988 Yoakam-Owens duet on “Streets of Bakersfield,” but elsewhere it goes without mention. Consider that a correctible oversight, and applaud the Country Music Hall of Fame for spotlighting a seminal musical movement that can still thrill and delight.” 
  • CMT’s Craig Shelburne is digging tunes from Kellie Pickler, Kathleen Edwards, Darrell Scott, Julie Lee & The Baby-Daddies, and lots more.
  • Here’s video of Lionel Richie and Jason Aldean singing “Say You, Say Me” on Letterman Tuesday night.
  • Kelly Dearmore wrote an article for the Dallas Observer about Ray Wylie Hubbard and the influence he’s had on musicians like Hayes Carll and Drew Kennedy: “He actually gave me a finger-picking lesson while I was still in college in Virginia,” Kennedy says. “After being introduced, Ray asked me about my music and my style. We spoke for a few minutes, and then he asked, ‘You do any finger-pickin’?’ I said, ‘No, that stuff is way over my head.’ So he grabbed a Sharpie from a desk and a legal pad, and then sketched out a visual representation of a finger-picking lesson. It was one of the most unadulterated displays of creative benevolence that I’ve ever experienced.”
  • Drive-By Trucker Mike Cooley played a stripped-down, five-song set for Paste.
  • Brad Paisley, a Belmont University alum, has established an endowed scholarship for students in need who are studying at Belmont’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business.
  • Carrie Underwood describes her new album as “a little more fierce, a little more serious.” 
  • Jay Farrar on a song from the New Multitudes project, which features unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics: The lyrics for the song “Hoping Machine” jumped out at me from one of Woody’s journals. The contents of Woody’s journals could be routine like “8 am breakfast, 9 am haircut” juxtaposed with something deeply inspirational like “Don’t let anything knock your props out from under you — Always keep your mind clear and let your plans come out of mistakes—Don’t let any earthly calamity knock your dreamer and your hoping machine.” 


  1. Jon
    March 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I hope to goodness that the ACM tweaks its awards show script to pay tribute to Earl. Or, failing that, that Dierks gets the job done.

  2. Barry Mazor
    March 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    As I was saying to Juli elsewhere, if they cared, yep, they’d at least have, say, Dierks and some grassers do “The Ballad of Jedd Clampett.” They won’t. They’ll say the song’s not right for primetime television.

  3. Jon
    March 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Or they could get Dierks and Paisley and some more grassers to back up Steve Martin on “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Seems like that could be right for primetime television, but what do I know?

    But if those ideas were vetoed by the director, I’d say it might be time for a little “Choices”-style action, eh?

    Either way, it might be an appropriate time to remember how awesome was Vince Gill’s insistence – at the risk of being yanked from the lineup – on turning the country segment of the 1997 Grammy Awards show into a posthumous tribute to Bill Monroe. It’s the kind of thing that helps explain why he got in the Hall of Fame sooner than others with longer lists of radio hits.

    • Juli Thanki
      March 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Just read on the ACM site that Steve Martin will share the stage with Rascal Flatts at the ACMs. I have a bad feeling about this.

  4. nm
    March 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I trust Dierks to do or say something. I mean, if Kid Rock can ad lib at the Grammys, I’m sure Dierks can manage at the ACMs.

  5. Rick
    March 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    The Earl Scruggs Review performed at UCLA’s Royce Hall back on Nov. 5, 2011 and the opening act was a local LA twangin’ rockin instrumental group named Merle Jagger. I’m an acquaintence of Mark Christian the leader of Merle Jagger and he told me what a thrill it was to be on the same show and stage with Earl, Randy, and the rest of Earl’s band and how friendly they were. I’m so glad I caught Earl on stage a few years ago at the Stagecoach Festival in Indio as it was a thrill. He will be missed.

    MEGA OPRY ALERT!!!!!!! Tonight is the spring season opener of the “Thursday Night Classic Country Opry” shows and it’s gonna be a barn burner! The show will feature Elizabeth Cook, Chuck Mead, Jim Lauderdale, Jan Howard, and Leona Williams paying tribute to the Bakersfield Sound with the zany Larry Gatlin as host. If you only listen to one Opry show a year, this should be the one. Grade: AAA+++!!! (lol)
    Schedule Link: http://www.opry.com/shows/ThisWeek.html

    That Jamey Johnson tribute album to Hank Cochran sounds mighty appealing. I hope the potential is more fully realized than say the recent “Quonset Hut” effort by Chuck Mead.

  6. timeo
    March 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Compare and contrast: “Jamey Johnson is finishing up a Hank Cochran tribute record.” “Lionel Richie and Jason Aldean singing “Say You, Say Me”

  7. Occasional Hope
    March 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Sad news about Earl Scruggs.

    The Hank Cochran tribute album sounds fantastic.

  8. Jon
    March 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I think that’s a good thing, Juli – but then, I like the song, and I like Steve, and I don’t mind Rascal Flatts.

  9. luckyoldsun
    March 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    “…Vince Gill’s insistence – at the risk of being yanked from the lineup – on turning the country segment of the 1997 Grammy Awards show into a posthumous tribute to Bill Monroe.It’s the kind of thing that helps explain why he got in the Hall of Fame sooner than others with longer lists of radio hits.”

    Well, it’s a convoluted and bizarro explanation for a somewhat curious happenstance, but it IS an explanation, I’ll grant you that–and I certainly can’t offer a better one.

  10. Barry Mazor
    March 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    That’s not bizarro; you’re taking it too literally and specifically. (How could that happen?) I believe Jon’s suggesting that this sort of impulse shown in doing that at the awards, this thoughtfulness about credit where it’s due, along with his thoughts and massive volunteered efforts for various charities, the music, and civic affairs, makes Vince the substantial sort of person who gets extra credit when it comes time for thinking about who to honor.

  11. Leeann Ward
    March 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Ditto to Jon and Barry regarding Vince. Then again, I’m biased, but proud to be so.

  12. Leeann Ward
    March 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    …And, of course, RIP to Earl Scruggs. Very sad news. He’s who got me to love banjo music, which wasn’t necessarily the most popular music to play in a Northern Maine dorm room.:)

  13. Ken Morton, Jr.
    March 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Leeann, the official terminology would be “an unabashed music crush.”

  14. Leeann Ward
    March 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Touche, Ken.:)

  15. Leeann Ward
    March 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Ken, I’m going to have to add “personality crush” to that too though.

  16. Leeann Ward
    March 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Oh, and yes, that Jamey Johnson album sounds very exciting. Can’t wait to hear it.

  17. luckyoldsun
    March 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    “You’re taking [JON] too literally?? Isn’t THAT calling the kettle black on behalf of the pot!

    Look, I’m sure you’re right about Vince’s “thoughtfulness” etc. earning him extra credit. They could put Marty Stuart in, too, on that basis.
    But I think there’s a risk that the Hall and the process become overly self-referential. I think the focus of the Hall should be on honoring the all-time greats–not on honoring people because they honored the greats.

  18. Barry Mazor
    March 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    LuckyOld, you’ve just been as literal and reductive as before. If you can reduce what I just said to “now the Hall is more honoring people for honoring and being self-deferential, more than for accomplishment,” because I said it was a CONSIDERATION, a PLUS, you can reduce anything–to what it never said or even suggested..

    Don’t want to upset the balance of anybody’s universe, but more than one thing can be true at once. (That’s sort of an interesting flittle pleasure or those who notice. )

    There is such a thing as proportion, and as “additionally true.” Not every sentence uttered is supposed to represent the only Prime Directive truth so nothing else matters, nothing else applies, nothing else is true.

    At least, on a site that tries to keep it smart.

  19. Rick
    March 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Its time for a humor break! (lol) Best country music blog article post of the week from “Saving Country Music” regarding the upcoming ACM Awards show:

    “New Artist of the Year Award:

    Brantley Gilbert – Predicted Winner
    Hunter Hayes
    Scotty McCreery

    The two fresh-faced boys will fall to the “Official Country Music Douche” Brantley Gilbert, unbeknownst to his fan base that will be too busy waxing their scrotums, or cooking up the latest batch of methamphetamine in their bathtubs.”

    Now how can you possibly beat that! Larry the Cable Guy, eat your heart out! (lol)

  20. luckyoldsun
    March 29, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    You’re defensive for no good reason. I did not criticize anything you said about Gill–I merely offered an opinion–that “there’s a risk” of the Hall becoming too self-referential–in order to provoke some thought. I’m aware that there can be and are a lot of reasons why someone gets in. I opted for brevity over stating what I thought was obvious.

  21. Jon
    March 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Don’t want to upset the balance of anybody’s universe, but more than one thing can be true at once.

    Too late.

    Don’t forget, Barry, you’re dealing with someone for whom the terms “unique, unprecedented, out-of-the-ordinary, incredible [and] amazing” are interchangeable. Nuance, subtlety and the possibility that more than one thing can be true at once just don’t exist in his world. Also someone for whom it is obvious that – despite previous protests to the contrary – greatness and, in the words of the Hall of Fame’s criteria, “significant contributions to the advancement of country music” are only measured by the number of chart hits, records and tickets sold, etc.

  22. Barry Mazor
    March 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Defensive, eh.. I also don;t continue conversations with brick walls.

  23. luckyoldsun
    March 30, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Gee, Jon–
    Not only do you know everything about country, bluegrass folk and Americana music, but you know everything about me!

    But I’m flattered that the twos of youse are able to become so irate over my opinions. In a world that seems to be overrun with hateful, vulgar, bigoted, threatening statements, I post a completely innoucous statement of opinion and–What was it that Travis Tritt once said?–you’d think I said Roy Acuff was gay!

  24. Paul W Dennis
    March 30, 2012 at 6:25 am

    One of the biggest musical disappointments of my life was that Flatt & Scruggs broke up after I purchased a ticket to see the First Wembley Country Music Festival in London in April 1969. They had been billed on the show. The first and second generations of bluegrass legends are almost gone now and the scene is much poorer for their absence.

    I’m looking forward to Jamey Johnson’s new album. He could do far worse than selecting the songs of Hank Cochran. In fact, he could hardly do better

  25. Jon
    March 30, 2012 at 9:14 am

    The first and second generations of bluegrass legends are almost gone now and the scene is much poorer for their absence.

    Also much richer for the presence of those who have come along since. That’s kind of how it works.

    And in point of fact, given that bluegrass is now well into its seventh decade, there are a surprising number of second generation legends around. Jesse McReynolds, Bobby Osborne and Paul Williams perform regularly, as do slightly younger figures like J. D. Crowe, Paul Williams, Bobby Hicks, Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, Roland White, Melvin Goins… Heck, I saw Curly Seckler at a pickin’ over at Del’s just a few weeks ago, and he was fixing to play some kind of gig the next week!

  26. Beverly Hawkins
    March 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Jon’s message was very interesting to read. Speaking of the first and second generations of bluegrass legends most all gone made me think of the unfairness of bluegrass and country legends who have never made it into the respective Halls of Fame. One who comes to mind is Jean Sheppard who only made it into the Country Hall of Fame earlier this year. So many more who were there at the forefront of these two classes of music and still have not made it in is so unfair. Wish fans had some input besides just signing petitions for these great stars…so many who still perform and tour and still do a great job but don’t get their well-earned due. Just a thought I had on my mind. But it is always a delight to see the people you named who are still so active in their field.

  27. Hoggy from Oz
    March 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    The Jamey Johnson album is now by far my most anticipated album for 2012 :D

  28. Jon
    April 1, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Kudos to the ACM for a fine, if brief, tribute to Earl Scruggs on tonight’s awards show. They done the right thing.

  29. luckyoldsun
    April 2, 2012 at 12:42 am

    The Jamey Johnson album seems weird. Usually, artists do this type of all-star duet project when they’re quite far along in distinguished careers. Sinatra, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Tony Bennett, Reba McEntire all come to mind. Even Randy Travis already had had four #1 albums and about 15 hit singles before he did his “Heroes and Friends” duet album. Johnson’s still something of a newcomer.

    In addition, I don’t know what if any special any special significance Hank Cochran has for Johnson or for today’s market beyond that of the other songwriers of his era, like Harlan Howard or Doodle Owens or Dalls Frazier. It seems kind of random.

    Maybe it will all make more sense after the album is released and I get to hear some of the cuts–and also read what Jamey Johnson has to say about the project.

  30. Carrie
    April 2, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I didn’t feel like Earl Scruggs got the right treatment on the ACMs at ALL. I was really disappointed.

  31. Occasional Hope
    April 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Jamey Johnson apears to be the kind of person/artist who makes the records he wants to make with commercial concerns a secondary matter. And he was also personally close to Hank Cochran as well as an admirer – see this link: http://www.jameyjohnson.com/news_d.aspx?nid=6107&cmnt=1

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