Guitarist Fred Carter, Jr. Passed Away; Taylor Swift Schedules Live Web Chat; Stars’ Stage Names

Brody Vercher | July 20th, 2010

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  1. [...] Western Swing, a genre seemingly as scarce with newcomers (a topic touched on in the comments of Tuesday’s news roundup) as Goree’s population. The occasion was the Bobby Boatright Memorial Music Camp. NPR’s [...]
  1. Jon
    July 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Davis’s question is a good one, isn’t it?

  2. Saving Country Music
    July 20, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I think Davis’s question is a good one, but there’s also a good answer. The Quebe Sisters are wowing crowds all over the country and in Europe. They recently played the Grand Ole Opry and The Marty Stuart Show. The only issue with the Quebe’s moving forward is going to be the lack of originality. They’re going to have to create new material.

    Ruby Jane who is a direct understudy of Ray Benson is also making lots of waves and is bringing originality to the genre. She’s played on the Opry as well, and was featured on the Willie and the Wheel tour.

    Both of these are very young up and coming acts drawing large crowds and getting good reviews. I understand what Davis is saying because it seems that Western swing skipped a generation, but the future is very bright.

  3. Nicolas
    July 20, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    RIP Deana Carter’s father =(

  4. Jon
    July 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    The Quebe Sisters are great, but one band – or even two, if you’re going to count Ruby Jane (who’s basically not a western swing artist – not that that’s a bad thing) – isn’t going to carry a sub-genre forward for another generation. You’d think with all the self-congratulatory blather about upholding tradition seeping out of Austin that it would be a hotbed of western swing, but you’d be wrong, wouldn’t you? Contrast that with evil Nashvegas, where young bluegrass musicians are thicker than flies on butter – no danger of *that* sub-genre dying out!

  5. BRETT ROBERTS
    July 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Lefty sold poncho out for the money

  6. Paul W Dennis
    July 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Bluegrass is an odd subgenre in which the musicianship is valued far more than any vocal abilities. I attend quite a few bluegrass events and the truth is that the vocal standard in bluegrass is abysmal. Yes, there are some good, even great vocalists (Rhonda Vincent, Alecia Nugent and Cia Cherryholme come to mind), but there are many out there that make Taylor Swift and Cletus T Judd seem fabulous by comparison.

    I love that “High Lonesome Sound” when it is performed well, but too often it becomes the sound of a wounded alley cat. Bluegrass fans don’t seem to mind a bit and God bless them for it for it, as it enables bluegrass to survive. The country music scene would be much poorer for its absence

  7. Jon
    July 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Bluegrass is an odd subgenre in which the musicianship is valued far more than any vocal abilities.

    Sorry, Paul, but that is complete baloney. It’s fine if you just don’t like bluegrass, but in fact, anyone with any degree of success in bluegrass will tell you that it’s about the singing first and foremost, and successful bluegrass acts that don’t focus on singing are exceedingly few and far between. In fact, I’ll bet you can’t name one.

  8. Jon
    July 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    In point of fact, over the past few years, the IBMA had to change its “Instrumental Recording of the Year” award category several times, first to allow albums with as much as 50% vocal content to be eligible, and then to single cuts rather than albums, because of a dearth of full-length instrumental albums. Does that sound “musicianship is valued far more than any vocal abilities?”

  9. Paul W Dennis
    July 20, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    You mean I’ve been attending all these bluegrass festivals because I don’t like the music ? What kind of masochist would do that ???

    I don’t recall using the term “big name” in my post. Of course the “big name” artists can sing – else they wouldn’t be “big name”

    There is a world of difference between the world of recorded bluegrass music (and the “big name” performers) and that which is performed at the smaller festivals, the jam sessions and parking lot get togethers all over the southeast.

    For the most part amateur bluegrass vocalists don’t match amateur contry vocalists.

  10. Rick
    July 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Sunny Sweeney Alert for central Californians! Sunny will be playing various gigs in and around Central California for the next week and a half or so! She kicks it off tonight at Sacramento’s “Rockin’ Rodeo” club and I hope to catch her Wednesday night at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace (a wholly inappropriate name!) in Bakersfield, which is as close to LA as Sunny’s ever performed to my knowledge. Go Sunny!

    Sunny’s Schedule: http://events.myspace.com/47942490/Events/1

    PS – The best “younger” (than Ray Benson that is) western swing bands going nowadays include The Hot Club of Cowtown, The Marshall Ford Swing Band, Shoot Low Sheriff, and The Belleville Outfit would be a kick ass western swing band if they put their minds to it!

  11. Brady Vercher
    July 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Joey & Rory are offering their latest single for free on their website. Or if you purchase it on iTunes, you can get their cover of Loretta’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough” for free. Has anyone heard the cover?

  12. Rick
    July 20, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Oh goodie, its the new Joey+Rory single featuring Zac (I’m an Obamavoter “Useful Idiot”) Brown! Wow, that’s just what I wanted! I have as much use for that as Mary Chapin Carpenter’s recent uncalled for dig at Sarah Palin during her Nashville concert (and every other location I would guess). That’s just freakin’ awesome…

  13. Andrew
    July 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Oh noes! Someone has different political views than me, therefore it invalidates anything they have ever done even though it’s unrelated to politics!

    Give it a rest, Rick. This is a music blog, not a political one. No one cares about your incessant ranting, and the “Obamavoter” stuff is tired. Stop being the stereotypical tea partier. You’re making the other conservatives (myself included) who frequent the site look bad.

  14. Matt Bjorke
    July 21, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Brady,

    They do a straight-up version of the song and it comes off very well.

  15. txcountryfan
    July 21, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Seems like Rick is the 29% percenter that still believe George W. Bush was a good President.

  16. Saving Country Music
    July 21, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Jon,

    I think you make good points about the strength of Western swing, and about Austin’s high-nosed hypocrisy.

    Ray Benson just did a run of ‘A Ride With Bob’ shows in Richardson, TX to sold out shows. However, 85% of the crowd was 55+. The post-punk music era has been kind to bluegrass. Blame ‘O Brother’ or blame the similarities in speed to punk and bluegrass, but young folks are into bluegrass in a big way. Not so much with Western swing. But I do think there is some fresh blood (finally) coming in to the picture. I think Ruby Jane only being 50% Western swing is an asset, as she can attract fans with more accessible material, and them expose them to the more complex stuff.

    Another thing that I think is promising is that I think Ray Benson feels the same way you do. That is why he’s trying to preserve this history, while mining and exposing this new talent.

    I don’t know that side by side comparisons of Western swing and bluegrass are fair. Western swing has always been a little reclusive compared to other subgenres.

  17. Nicolas
    July 21, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Thanks for the heads-up on that free download of Joey + Rory’s new single! I love it!

  18. Trish
    July 21, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Hey TX,

    There are a hell of a lot of people that feel that way now that we have the worst president in office in my lifetime. The guy can’t even speak at all without a teleprompter – what an embarrassment!

  19. Stormy
    July 21, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Saving Country Music: To be fair, AATW has beeing doing A Ride With Bob for years now. A lot of us under 55ers have already seen it.

  20. Jon
    July 21, 2010 at 7:58 am

    You mean I’ve been attending all these bluegrass festivals because I don’t like the music ? What kind of masochist would do that ???

    I dunno – perhaps the kind who, according to his own testimony, repeatedly spends money attending performances by people who can’t sing well, even when he believes there are better alternatives readily available. That kind?

    There is a world of difference between the world of recorded bluegrass music (and the “big name” performers) and that which is performed at the smaller festivals, the jam sessions and parking lot get togethers all over the southeast.

    Well, duh; it’s the same world of difference that you find between the world of recorded country music and that which is performed at your local Holiday Inn lounge all over the United States and Canada. But your statement was about the musical values of the genre – the musicianship is valued far more than any vocal abilities. Why would you attempt to characterize those by evaluating the worst and least popular of what it has to offer instead of by the best and most successful?

    For the most part amateur bluegrass vocalists don’t match amateur contry vocalists..

    And you "know" this by virtue of…what?

  21. Jon
    July 21, 2010 at 8:09 am

    @SavingCountryMusic I don’t think I’d agree that western swing has been more “reclusive” than other country music sub-genres; it was hugely popular on the west coast in the 40s, and elsewhere for more extended periods of time. And on the other hand, bluegrass has been more successful in attracting young musicians not just in recent years, but periodically – basically, every time it surfaces in the larger music arena (as in, for instance, the Bonnie & Clyde and Deliverance soundtracks; the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Circle album; Old & In The Way; Ricky Skaggs’ country success in the early-mid 80s; Alison Krauss’s success in the 90s; and the O Brother boom you mention). I think the key distinction is that, for a variety of historical reasons, bluegrass developed relatively early on (late 60s/early 70s) an infrastructure capable of providing instruction, employment and networking for musicians entering the field, as well as links to other arenas (notably mainstream country) where they could use their skills in music-related day jobs. And I think that, for a variety of historical reasons, western swing never really developed that.

    Note, by the way, that Davis’ account of AATW’s early years says nothing whatsoever about how the band actually started, which wasn’t in Berkeley, but rather, the OH-PA-WV circuit.

  22. Leeann Ward
    July 21, 2010 at 8:19 am

    *High five to Andrew!

    Stormy,
    Your comment is only doing the same thing as Rick, but from the other side/extreme.

  23. Paul W Dennis
    July 21, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Jon – I use my ears to judge vocal quality (too many use their eyes for this purpose)

    Also I attend bluegrass shows for the repertiore – I am more likely to hear the classic country songs of the 60s and 70s performed by a bluegrass act than by a modern country act. Sad but all too true

  24. WAYNOE
    July 21, 2010 at 8:52 am

    The reference to Don Williams momentarily coming out of retirement is the only bright spot to an otherwise nonsensical blather of meaningless comments.

    Andrew,
    You are incorrect. If you cannot see the hidden undercurrents of political references on this blog you are blind my fellow conservative.

    Nonetheless, music first is our collective preference. No argument there.

  25. WAYNOE
    July 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

    And another thing. I absolutely LOVE it when an originally non-bluegrass song is reconfigured to a bluegrass setting. To put a bluegrass twist to a country, pop, or rock song is great. Kudos to The Grascals.

    I heard Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives perform “Stayin’ Alive” acoustically. It was amazing.

  26. Leeann Ward
    July 21, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I have not enjoyed any of the Grascals’ covers so far.

  27. Michelle
    July 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I’m kind of mad at Don Williams. I went to see him in concert, on what was supposed to be his last tour. Oh well, I got to brag about for awhile.

  28. Jon
    July 21, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Nothing against Jamie, Terry and the rest of the guys (and gal), but “Last Train To Clarksville” was “reconfigured” more than 40 years ago, and has been regularly, if not frequently, done by bluegrass artists since then.

    @Paul Nice evasion. Let’s try again:

    Your statement was about the musical values of the genre – the musicianship is valued far more than any vocal abilities. Why would you attempt to characterize those by evaluating the worst and least popular of what it has to offer instead of by the best and most successful?

  29. Saving Country Music
    July 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Stormy,

    The Quebe Sisters and Ruby Jane shows are the same way: predominately older crowds. I’ve witnessed this first hand. The acts themselves have voiced concern/wonder to me why more young people don’t come to the shows. It is a problem.

    I think Jon is right. Western swing could learn a lot from bluegrass.

  30. Stormy
    July 21, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Stormy,
    Your comment is only doing the same thing as Rick, but from the other side/extreme.

    The AATW concerts I have been to have been pretty much the same as the Neko Case and Tift Merritt concerts I have been to. Maybe a few less college frat boys than Neko, but Ray was never named Sexiest Indie Singer by Playboy.

  31. WAYNOE
    July 21, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    It’s impossible for me to get mad at Don Williams.

    Don’t care how many times songs have been covered. I love it when, in most cases, a bluegrass version is performed of a non-bluegrass song. It’s an interesting twist usually.

  32. Brady Vercher
    July 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    If you cannot see the hidden undercurrents of political references on this blog you are blind…” I dunno why, but watching Waynoe continuously raise the loony bar is always entertaining.

  33. WAYNOE
    July 21, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Brady or Brody or whatever your name is,

    Glad I can be of some entertainment. Beats some of the music they pass for entertainment nowadays. Don’t you agree?

    Also, I noticed that there was a total omission of anything related to the 4th of July weekend celebration on this site. Not so on the other sites. Hmmmmm.

  34. idlewildsouth
    July 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Yes, everyone here hates America. And it’s Brody and Brady.

  35. Jon
    July 21, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    @Waynoe Try again. “Last Train To Clarksville” was “reconfigured” as a B-L-U-E-G-R-A-S-S song more than 40 years ago, and has been done as a B-L-U-E-G-R-A-S-S song more than once since then. So the Grascals’ version (which is an excellent one) presents “an interesting twist” (as opposed to fine performance) only if you’re unfamiliar with country music history of the past 40 years. Maybe you ought to lay off slagging others for such unfamiliarity until you can get out of the glass house yourself, pal.

    @Leeann Depending on exactly what you mean by “covers,” that would account for somewhere between 1/3 and 2/3 of the Grascals’ material. Maybe you just don’t like the band ;-).

  36. WAYNOE
    July 22, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Jon,

    Please show me where I said that “Last Train” was never covered before the Grascals. As far as being unfamiliar with country music history, well, I’ll just chuckle over that one.

  37. Leeann
    July 22, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Jon,
    I did notice that a huge percentage of their music is covers. And, yes, I’m not into their music. I’ve tried.

  38. Jon
    July 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Well, that’s ok, Leeann – everyone can’t like everything. Except maybe on Facebook.

  39. PaulaW
    July 22, 2010 at 9:10 am

    everyone can’t like everything. Except maybe on Facebook.

    LOL! :-)

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