Vince Gill Leaves MCA; Don Williams Plans New Album; Chet Flippo Discusses Social Commentary and Country Music

Juli Thanki | February 24th, 2012

  • If you’ve got an hour to spare and are interested in music and copyright law, check out this lecture from UCLA ethnomusicology professor Anthony Seeger, who “looks at the opposing positions of ‘Don’t pirate my music’ and ‘Knowledge wants to be free’ to discuss the more general point that copyright law is only one way among thousands that societies regulate the transmission of and access to knowledge.” 
  • This year’s CMT Awards will be held on June 6 in Nashville.
  • In June, Don Williams will release an album with ten new songs. Said album might feature backing vocals from Chris Stapleton, who tweeted “I believe in love, I believe in babies…and I believe that I sang backgrounds for Don Williams today” last night.
  • Chet Flippo’s newest Nashville Skyline column is about Bruce Springsteen, country music, and socially conscious songs: The closest thing we get in the way of real reality and social commentary in country music these days is a Willie Nelson Chipotle commercial on the Grammy Awards telecast. Isn’t it amazing how much more socially relevant Willie has become since official Nashville turned him out to pasture several years ago at his retirement age? His latest extracurricular recording is titled “Hell and Back Again,” the theme song for a documentary on the Afghanistan war. Social issues have long been a part and parcel of country music, from Hank Williams’ anti-Joseph Stalin “No, No, Joe” and Roy Acuff’s anti-Stalin “Advice to Joe” to Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” to Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American).” But when commercial success today demands chartable, radio-friendly back roads song and hell-raising beer-and-babes videos, there ain’t much room anymore for unwelcome songs of complaint in the country music room.
  • Here’s the second part of Farce The Music’s February Country Day.
  • Luke Bryan talks with Cindy Watts of the Tennessean about his spring break-themed EPs: “The main thing is spring break is just a really, really fun opportunity to honestly make a new album and each year put new music in the hands of the fans. There was a time three or four years ago, (when) it was taking a single two-thirds of the year to get up the charts, so that makes the albums come out slowly. I wanted to have the opportunity to put more records out and put more songs out, so we started doing this spring break stuff. It’s a fun opportunity to go down to Panama City and play shows and kind of market all around that. It opens you up and makes you write outside the box a little bit. When you’re not writing necessarily for radio, you can have a little fun with it and not be bound by the parameters.” 
  • Mike White of Paste took some photos during a recent Mike Cooley (Drive-By Truckers) solo show in Atlanta.
  • Rick Moore of American Songwriter interviewed Amy Powers, a songwriter who has written for theater and film, and who has co-written songs recorded by Alabama, Diamond Rio, and many more acts.
  • Paste’s Jay Sweet wrote a feature on Yim Yames, Jay Farrar, Anders Parker, and Will Johnson’s Woody Guthrie project New Multitudes. The site is also streaming “Old L.A.” from that record.
  • Kimberley Grant posted an interview with singer-songwriter Jon Byrd on No Depression. Here’s his answer to the question of whether he finds the “age of DIY music empowering:” I don’t know about too many other musicians. For me? No. Not at all. But then nobody was ever gonna tell me what to do anyway. I think DIY actually crowds the landscape with mediocrity. Personally, I never wanted to be P.T. Barnum. I’m not a good business person. Okay, I’m a terrible businessperson. I don’t want to sell the popcorn, make change or take credit cards. I don’t want to sell stickers and coffee cups. I don’t want to book flights and rent cars and talk to cd manufacturers. I don’t really want to talk about my personal shit with music loving strangers for the hour before the ‘house concert.’ I’ve never had a recording contract; a manager; a booking agent; a publisher. Never. Pretty easy to see why when I lay it out there. I just want to write and play. Every thing else is a distraction.


  1. Jon
    February 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    All right, JB!

  2. Rick
    February 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    That’s great to see an article from LA’s own Kim Grant (who is the driving force behind LA’s “Grand Ole Echo” free Americana concerts) published in No Depression. Better yet is that its about Jon Byrd who I discovered when The Wrights included him in an E.T. Record Shop Midnite Jamboree show a few years ago. I’ve spun songs off Jon’s “Byrds Auto Parts” album at Echo shows but can’t remember if Kim ever asked me who the artist was? (lol) I reget I didn’t catch any of Jon’s LA shows. Oh well…
    (PS – Jon mentions Butch Primm who was Allison Moorer’s first husband before Steve Earle. One of the reasons Allison’s first three albums were so good was Butch’s songwriting contributions.)

    I’m curious about how the new Don Williams album will sound? Any chance there will be any new songs on the level of Tulsa Time? I can only hope so.

  3. Rick
    February 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Did anyone else out there in Engine 145 land catch Katherine McPhee singing “Redneck Woman” on the new NBC broadway musical based series “Smash” this week?
    Katherine’s character was back home in Iowa attending a friend’s baby shower at a karaoke bar when the friend assked her to go on stage and sing this song. Needless to say Katherine belted that song out of the ballpark! If there has ever been a single American Idol finalist I’ve wanted to see “go country”, its Katherine! Come on over Katherine, the music sales figures are just fine!

    PS – I do believe the songs performed on “Smash” are made available for download purchase after the show just like with “GLEE”. I don’t think broadway style songs will have the same pop culture appeal, but then again I’d guess “Smash” appeals to a much older audience than “GLEE”. Hmm…

  4. luckyoldsun
    February 27, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Does this new “Redneck Woman” keep the name-checks/references to Tanya Tucker, Charlie Daniesls and Bocephus?– Or does she update it to Gretchen Wilson, Tim McGraw and M-G? Time flies.

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