Steve Martin on Earl Scruggs; Merle Haggard Hospitalized; Taylor Swift Lands Vogue Cover

Juli Thanki | January 18th, 2012

  • Steve Martin wrote a fine piece on Earl Scruggs for the New Yorker. An excerpt: The banjo lends itself to showing off: it’s often played fast and thrillingly, fingers flying up and down the neck, the right hand connecting to the left with seemingly impossible accuracy. But Earl always remembered his mother’s advice when he was a boy: “Play something that has a tune to it.” His first and last priority was to make music, which keeps his sound melodic and accessible. Yet, even professional players today say, “How did he do that?” It is not easy to make the melody note land in the right place when rolling three fingers over five strings, but Earl could syncopate, “bend” a string—which caused one note to move unbroken into another—and he could audibly retune the banjo in the middle of a song, leading to the invention of a mechanical device called “Scruggs’ pegs.” Earl knew when and how to surprise the heck out of the listener.
  • Merle Haggard was hospitalized before a show in Macon, Georgia last night after being sick for, according to his manager, about a week. Three shows have been canceled.
  • George Jones, Billy Joe Shaver, Lucinda Williams, and more appear on this Squidbillies album. Go download your favorite tracks for free.
  • Doc Watson and David Holt had a chat with Mike Melia from PBS NewsHour’s blog.
  • Country collector Marty Stuart wants to open a music museum in his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi.
  • Check out a preview of the Punch Brothers’ upcoming album.
  • Taylor Swift is Vogue’s newest cover girl. Here’s an excerpt from the article: “[F]or a certain audience, her music and her look are stuck in teenage gear. Which is why it comes as a nice surprise to discover just how sharp she is. She is clever and funny and occasionally downright bawdy as we ride around town with a small entourage on this hot fall day, visiting designer showrooms. Indeed, one of the first things she mentions is the infamous honey-badger clip on YouTube that features a deadpan obscenity-laced narration. Swift knows every line—though she asks if her cursing can be off the record. She may be edgier than her image suggests, but she is not Courtney Love. She has a deeply ingrained sense of appropriateness. She also knows her audience—and knows that they aren’t ready for her to grow up quite yet.”
  • The trial began in Garth Brooks’ lawsuit against an Oklahoma hospital. Brooks alleges that he donated money with the understanding that one of the hospital’s new buildings would be named after his late mother.
  • Lady Antebellum’s “We Owned the Night” and “Just a Kiss” have both gone double platinum.
  • For our friends across the pond: the CMA Songwriters Series featuring Clint Black, Bob DiPiero, and Bill Anderson will be in London, Belfast, and Dublin in late February.
  • Give a listen to “Hold On” from upcoming Alabama Shakes album Boys & Girls, which is due out April 10.
  1. bll
    January 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I’m not sure how the hospital thinks a donation from Garth is ‘anonymous and unconditional’ when in their filing they admit to pursuing him for almost 2 years.

  2. Rick
    January 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks for the link to the Squidbillies album tracks. Its good to hear some newer material from Unknown Hinson (ie “Early”). My favorite is “Burned”, which without the squid specific references would have fit nicely on one of Unknown’s earlier albums. I’m just glad to know he’s making some honest money off of that cartoon so he can cover his rent in the trailer park! (lol)

    I have to say I like the guitar playing on the Alabama Shakes song “Hold On” a whole lot better than the vocals. The female lead vocalist sounded better when she was doing her Janis Joplin impersonation…

  3. timeo
    January 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Wow, does anhyone else find the Goerge Jones vocal shocking (and, not in a good way)?! I mean, I know he’s 80…but his voice is totally shot. Quite different than the last time I heard him…

  4. Dana M
    January 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    After listening to the Alabama Shakes “Hold On” I can’t wait for their debut.

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