Son Volt Continue To Inspire And Challenge On Electro Melodier Set For Summer Release

Son Volt  -  Electro Melodier

It’s been a couple of years since Alt.country stalwarts Son Volt last release, Union and Jay Farrar and company have not been idle in these pandemic times. Their tenth studio album will be released July 30th and will feature Son Volt’s current lineup of Mark Spencer, Chris Fame, Mark Patterson and Andrew DuPlantis..

The title, Electro Melodier, is taken from the names of two vintage amplifiers from the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, and will feature more intimate and socio-political musings from Farrar, who originally set out to make a nostalgic record that paid tribute to the music of his youth.

“I wanted to concentrate on the melodies which got me into music in the first place,” Farrar said in a statement. “I wanted politics to take a back seat this time, but it always seems to find a way back in there.”

The first cut from Electro Melodier is “Reverie,” (below) a song of hope and sepia memories laced with organ swells and chiming guitar.

Pre-order Electro Melodier.

The follow-up to 2019’s acclaimed release Union, Electro Melodier finds band founder Jay Farrar’s unparalleled songwriting as poignant and intelligent as ever. Electro Melodier touches on the thought-provoking issues that impact us all, including the pandemic, love, and the inevitable passing of time. The current political divide makes its appearance on the album as well. “I wanted to concentrate on the melodies which got me into music in the first place,” says Farrar. “I wanted politics to take a back seat this time, but it always seems to find a way back in there.”

“Livin’ in the USA” echoes protest songs of old, highlighting both the breakdown of our culture and planet. “Share a little truth with your neighbor down the block, We’ve all got fossil fuel lungs while we run out the clock,” Farrar sings. “The Globe” reverberates with the tensions that arise with the fight for equality. “People climbing skyward stairs, Deciders of their fate, You can see it everywhere, Change is in the air…” The sentimental “Diamonds and Cigarettes,” featuring vocals by country singer Laura Cantrell, lovingly pays homage to his wife, while “Lucky Ones” is a weary tale of gratitude.

Electro Melodier features band members Mark Spencer (piano, organ, acoustic slide, lap steel, backing vocals) Andrew DuPlantis (bass, backing vocals), Chris Frame (guitar) Mark Patterson (drums, percussion). Son Volt will take Electro Melodier on the road with select tour date in summer and fall. See below and for tickets go to https://sonvolt.net/.

Farrar started Son Volt in 1994 after leaving the seminal group Uncle Tupelo, whose No Depression album helped define the alt-country and Americana genre. Son Volt’s debut Trace was heavily lauded and remains a defining document of the ’90s alt-country movement. Two decades later, the group continue to decidedly capture the times while breaking new musical ground on Electro Melodier.

Chris Thile & Folk Alliance Int’l: 10 Collaborations for COVID Relief

Folk Alliance International commissioned ten musical collaborations between U.S.-based and global artists, applying their exceptional talent to address this moment in history, presented in partnership with Chris Thile.

The first is out today, featuring John Paul White and Rose Cousins (below) Each will be available via the FAI YouTube channel every two weeks. The whole project also asks folk fans to contribute to FAI’s COVID-relief Village Fund and each video features Thile speaking on its importance at the close of each video. Fans can donate to the Village Fund.

Record Store Day 2021 – Americana and Roots Music Picks

Record Store Day has revealed its list of releases for the 2021 season. The releases will follows the 2020 pattern of spreading out releases over multiple days in response to the pandemic which, in this case will be 6/12 and 7/17, instead of the usual one day its usual April occurrence event.

This year’s batch of releases includes the usual mix of reissues, rarities, and notable exclusives.

Highlights include 2 releases by John Prine, one a curated collection of songs from the Oh Boy Records catalog by independent record stores and the other a live recording from New York City’s Other End from December 1975.

So, get to your favorite indy record store early (I’ll be at Good Records in Dallas) and share those great finds with me on Instagram and Twitter.

See the full list of Record Store Say releases here.

June 12th releases

THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA – I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Single Lock Records
Quantity: 1200
The Blind Boys of Alabama are among the most premier artists of the gospel world. Bela Fleck is among the most premier artists of the bluegrass world. Together, they have earned 20 Grammy Awards and scores of other accolades. For RSD Drops 2021, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Bela Fleck have joined together for a special 7″ 45RPM vinyl release.

On the A-side, they cover “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”, the Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas classic made famous by Nina Simone. The song continues to be an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement. On the B-side, the Blind Boys bring “See By Faith” to a physical format for the first time. A bonus track to their acclaimed LP, Almost Home, “See By Faith” is a previously unreleased Bob Dylan-penned track.

STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES / JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – The Saint of Lost Causes
ormat: 7″ Vinyl
Label: New West Records
Quantity: 2000
In the winter of 2021, Steve Earle & The Dukes released J.T., an eleven-song recording that consists of ten Justin Townes Earle songs and one Steve Earle original. The album was released to critical acclaim and Steve Earle’s proceeds from the record are continually being directed to a trust for his granddaughter, Etta (Justin’s daughter). In honor of Justin Townes Earle and the record his father recorded, New West is proud to present a split 7″ featuring two versions of an indelible Justin’ Townes Earle song. The double A-side single features “The Saint Of Lost Causes.” as performed by Justin from his 2019 album of the same name as well as Steve Earle & The Dukes’ version from the J.T. release. This split 7” single will be pressed on yellow vinyl and limited to 3,500 copies worldwide.
Side 1A “The Saint Of Lost Causes” – Steve Earle & The Dukes
Side 2A “The Saint Of Lost Causes” – Justin Townes Earle

SARAH JAROSZ – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For/my future
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Rounder Records
Quantity: 1200
Sarah Jarosz puts her own unique stamp on songs by Billie Eilish and U2 on this 12″ single. Side B etching.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For/my future

MARIA MCKEE – High Dive
Format: 2 x LP
Label: Afar
Quantity: 500
Essential re-issue of High Dive, Maria McKee’s post-Geffen return from 2003, pressed on double vinyl. This is the first time this album has been released on vinyl and it is an essential collector’s item for fans of McKee.
The Open Spaces / Life Is Sweet / After Life / Be My Joy / High Dive / My Friend Foe / In Your Constellation / Love Doesn’t Love / We Pair Off / No Gala / Non Religious Building / Something Similar / From Our T.V.Teens To The Tomb / Worry Birds

JONI MITCHELL – Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1 (1963-1967): Highlights
Format: LP
Label: Rhino / Joni Mitchell Archives
Quantity: 5500
Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1 (1963-1967): Highlights is an exclusive LP, featuring highlights from the first volume of the ongoing Joni Mitchell Archives series. The release – which has been supervised by Joni Mitchell – features rare home recordings, live performances, and radio broadcasts recorded between 1963 and 1967. Pressed on 180gram vinyl, exclusively for RSD Drops 2021. Strictly limited to 15000 copies worldwide.

July 17th releases

THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND – The Final Note
Format: 2 x LP
Label: Allman Brothers Band Recording Company
Quantity: 9000
Live Recording of Duane Allman’s last performance, from 10-17-71 at Painters Mill Music Fair in Owings Mill, MD
Additional unreleased bonus track, “Stormy Monday”, from Austin, TX, 1971.
Pressed on limited edition Black & White swirl vinyl as part of RSD Drops.

Statesboro Blues/Trouble No More/Don’t Keep Me Wondering/Done Somebody Wrong/One Way Out/In Memory of Elizabeth Reed/Hot ‘lanta/Whipping Post/Stormy Monday

CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG = Déjà vu Alternates
Format: LP
Label: Atlantic
Quantity: 10000
Déjà Vu Alternates from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young is a recreation of their immensely popular second album, Déjà Vu, featuring alternate versions of songs which appeared on the original album. The iconic album which featured “Teach Your Children,” “Woodstock,” “Our House” and “Helpless” will showcase these alternate versions on vinyl for the first time. It will also feature a cover that mirrors the original album with an alternate photo from the cover shoot. Pressed on 180g black vinyl, exclusively for RSD Drops 2021. Strictly Limited to 10,000 copies worldwide.

DR. JOHN, THE NIGHT TRIPPER – The Sun, Moon & Herbs Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition
Format: 3 x LP
Label: Run Out Groove
Quantity: 3000
Deluxe and limited 50th anniversary edition of Dr. John’s fourth studio album for Atco Records. Three LP expanded release with deluxe packaging and new liner notes featuring over 70 minutes of previously unreleased material on two discs, recorded during the 1971 album sessions and making a physical debut for RSD Drops. Only one track from the bonus material was previously available on the limited Run Out Groove vinyl release: Dr. John: Professor Bizarre’s Funknology.

1.Black John The Conqueror 2. Where Ya At Mule 3. Craney Crow 4. Familiar Reality-Opening 5. Pots On Fiyo (Filé Gumbo) / Who I Got To Fall On (If The Pot Get Heavy) 6. Zu Zu Mamou 7. Familiar Reality-Reprise 8. Home Boy, Show Me The Way Back Home (take 1)* 9. Free From the Beast (take 1)* 10. Headin’ A Little Closer To My Home (take 2)* 11. Jungle (take 2)* 12. Trip City (edits of takes 4&7)* 13. Strictly Off The Wall, Look What You’ve Done 14. Unknown Jam* 15. Fish Dance* 16. Catfish Soiree Medley* 17. Burning* 18. Numerology* 19. Where Ya At Mule (alternate take)*
*=previously unreleased

BOB DYLAN – Jokerman / I And I Remixes
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Legacy
Quantity: 7000
This 12” features two reggae remixes each of “Jokerman” and “I And I”, by Doctor Dread. The original versions of both tracks appeared on Dylan’s Infidels album, with Sly & Robbie as the rhythm section. The two “I And I” remixes were previously released on Is It Rolling Bob: A Reggae Tribute To Bob Dylan (2003) ,while the “Jokerman” remixes are newly commissioned and previously unreleased. Doctor Dread has worked with Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, Jimmy Cliff, Inner Circle, Gregory Isaacs, Luciano, Mad Cobra, Freddy McGregor, Sly and Robbie, Steel Pulse, The Wailers and many others.

Side A: 1. “Jokerman [Reggae Remix]” 2. “Jokerman [Instrumental Dub]”
Side B: 1. “I and I [Reggae Remix]” 2. “I and I [Reggae Dub]”

JOHN FOGERTY – Blue Ridge Rangers EP
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: BMG
Quantity: 2500
This special release combines two key singles from John Fogerty’s 1973 debut solo album The Blue Ridge Rangers on a limited edition Blue vinyl 12” single. The two singles included are the classics “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)” backed with “Hearts Of Stone” Also included are the original B-sides “Workin’ On A Building” and “Somewhere Listening (For My Name)”
Featuring replications of the original artwork from both singles, one on each side.

BOBBIE GENTRY – The Windows of the World
Format: LP
Label: Capitol Nashville
Quantity: 2500
Bobbie’s journey from country singer-songwriter to blue eyed soul diva stopped off at a hitherto unknown destination along the way. Before she arrived at Muscle Shoals to work her magic with the late great Rick Hall, Bobbie cut a laid back album of classic and contemporary jazz tunes that was abandoned before it had chance to see the light of day. This was a shame, as Bobbie proves herself as adept in this genre as in any other. This self-produced collection first saw the light of day on the Bobbie Gentry boxset, but this lost album deserves to have its own separate release and what better format than vinyl? The set exudes a sophisticated and intimate late-night vibe mostly featuring Bobbie alone with her guitar accompanied by a bass player; occasionally there is a whisper of strings from Jimmie Haskell who famously composed the cello and violin arrangement on Ode to Billie Joe. Gentry fans will find much to love in Bobbie’s short lived but brilliant turn as a jazz singer. The original 8 tracks to be supplemented by the ‘I Didn’t Know’ and ‘Hushabye Mountain’ demos recorded around the same time, this LP also features the previously unreleased Hushabye Mountain [alternate version].

Suppertime
God Bless The Child
Since I Fell For You
Here’s That Rainy Day
I Didn’t Know [demo]
Hushabye Mountain [Demo]
Stormy
Save Your Love For Me
This Girl’s in Love With You
The Windows of the World
Hushabye Mountain (previously unreleased)

THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS – Undercover
Format: LP
Label: Americana Vibes
Quantity: 1200
The Infamous Stringdusters are releasing a compilation of cover songs never-before released on vinyl for RSD Drops 2021. These songs have been played live in many instances, and were at once point released individually, so this will be a treat to band fans and vinyl collectors alike. The Infamous Stringdusters won three awards at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards Ceremony in October 2007: Emerging Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Fork in the Road (in a tie with J.D. Crowe & the New South’s album Lefty’s Old Guitar), and Song of the Year for the album’s title cut. The band was also nominated for 2011 Entertainer of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. In 2011, “Magic No. 9” (from Things That Fly) was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance. In 2018, they won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.

1. Just Like Heaven
2. Golden
3. Jessica
4. What’s Going On
5. Get Lucky
6. Big River
7. Highwayman
8. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
9. Fearless
10. American Girl

JOHNNY PAYCHECK – Uncovered: The First Recordings
Format: LP
Label: Lightning Rod Records
Quantity: 2000
Early in Johnny Paycheck’s pre-fame career, he toured as a sideman and bassist for George Jones in the early 1960s. At that time, he entered a recording studio in an attempt to secure a record deal as a solo artist. The recordings have been long forgotten and unheard until now. The Adams Brothers, who gained notoriety on Mike Judge’s Tales From The Tour Bus episode on Paycheck, produced the songs and worked as Paycheck’s band. These recordings showcase Paycheck’s considerable talent long before the music world took notice. Paycheck performs songs by some of country music’s most iconic songwriters such as Cowboy Jack Clement, Mel Tillis, and Bill Anderson. Step back in time and listen to uncovered country music history.
Family Bible / I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name / A Girl I Used To Know / Me and My Heart and My Shoes / Long Black Limousine / Kissing Your Picture (Is So Cold) / Miller’s Cave / Heartbreak Eve

JOHN PRINE – Stay Independent: The Oh Boy Years Curated By Indie Record Stores
Format: LP
Label: Oh Boy Records
Quantity: 3000
A collection of songs from the Oh Boy Records catalog curated by independent record stores.
Side 1: 1) In Spite of Ourselves 2) All The Best 3) Summer’s End 4) Some Humans Ain’t Human
Side 2: 1) Sins of Memphisto 2) Lonesome Friends of Science 3) It’s A Big Old Goofy World 4) When I Get To Heaven

JOHN PRINE – Live At The Other End, December 1975
Format: 4 x LP
Label: Atlantic
Quantity: 8500
In December 1975, Grammy award-winning songwriter John Prine played three nights at The Other End (previously and now known as The Bitter End) in Greenwich Village, NYC. The acoustic performances featured some of his best-known songs such as “Angel From Montgomery” and “Hello In There”, from his first four studio albums: John Prine (1971), Diamonds In The Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973) and Common Sense (1975). These rare and previously unreleased solo performances—comprising two full sets—will now be made available, pressed on 180g black vinyl, exclusively RSD Drops 2021. Strictly limited to 12000 copies worldwide.

ST. PAUL & THE BROKEN BONES – Half The City Live
Format: LP
Label: St Paul & The Broken Bones
Quantity: 1000
I remember the heat that day burning through my JCPenney’s suit that I bought just the day before for our show at Avondale Brewing Company in Birmingham. 100 degree temperature outside in the dead of summer in Alabama is not uncommon. I was pouring sweat alongside people who had just met that day for the first time to play a show under the name St. Paul & The Broken Bones. I hated my name being in the band’s name but who cared at that point, it was just a fling. Now, over 8 years later, we built a career out of it.

Teague Brothers Share Video Of Evan Felker Performing “7 & 7,” “Good Lord Lorrie” And More

Teague Brothers  and Evan Felker

Great news Turnpike Troubadours fans! footage of Evan Felker surfaced yesterday afternoon showing him taking the stage with the Teague Brothers Band at a charity benefit for Eric Neal at the Pipkin Ranch in Beaumont, TX.

Neal was diagnosed with Sclerosing Epithelioid Fibrosarcoma in 2018, and has since had surgery to amputate his right leg, in addition to having multiple rounds of chemo/radiation as well as surgery on his back. Recently, the deep soft tissues tumor was also found in the lining of the brain.

The benefit was held to raise money for Eric, and the Teague Brothers Band was the musical entertainment for the event. They then interrupted their set to welcome a very special guest… Evan Felker.

This is the first time we’ve seen Evan take the stage in nearly two years, since Turnpike announced their indefinite hiatus back in May of 2019.

Teague Brothers frontman John Teague shared the following regarding the performance:

“Yesterday, February 27, 2021, was truly amazing to be apart of. Eric you are consistently in our thoughts and prayers. I’m proud to call you a friend and it was an absolute pleasure to be there. What a community we have.
Evan Felker of the The Turnpike Troubadours was a true gentleman and performed beautifully for Eric. A dream come true to everyone in the room. Godspeed Eric & Shelby Neal.”

Even if the Turnpike Troubadours never reunite it’s great to see Felker looking and sounding healthy and happy.

And best to Eric Neal. Here’s how you can help him and his family while he continues his fight.

PayPal : rehatcher16@gmail.com
Venmo: @rachel-touchet

Wanted! – Notable Americana and Roots Music Releases for 2021

Featured

Lucero – When You Found Me (Jan. 29)

Most of 2020 to right now live music is largely put on hold, but plenty of artists are still finding ways to create. Time off the road and spent at home has meant hardship. but it’s also meant creative ways artists delivered performances to you at home and also time to reflect, write and record new music, which in turn means that fans can expect new albums from some of their favorite country, Americana, bluegrass and folk artists in 2021.

Despite 2020 being the worst year in most of our lifetime some great music still released to take a bit of the edge off.

2021 starts off right with releases from Steve Earle honoring the passing of Justin Townes Earle. We can also look forward to new releases from Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Langhorne Slim, Lucero, Aaron Lee Tasjan and many more.

Then there are yet-to-be-announced release dates for James McMurtry and others. Bookmark and check back to this list as we will update those add other releases as they come in.

Also if you know of a release not on the list feel free to add it in the comments below.

Thanks for keeping up with Twang Nation and here’s to a better 2021!

January
Jan. 1: Kandle & Kendel – ‘Birds’ EP (Neil Young Covers)
Jan. 4: Steve Earle & The Dukes – ‘J.T.’ (digital)
Jan. 8: Barry Gibb – ‘Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Songbook, Vol. 1’
Jan. 8: The Divorcees – ‘Drop of Blood’
Jan. 22: Jeremiah Fraites (Lumineers) – ‘Piano Piano’
Jan. 22: Justin Moses – ‘Fall Like Rain’
Jan. 29: Langhorne Slim – ‘Strawberry Mansion’
Jan. 29: Lucero – ‘When You Found Me’
Jan. 29: Pony Bradshaw – ‘Calico Jim’
Jan. 29: John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen – ‘The River Flows’

February
Feb. 5: Aaron Lee Tasjan – ‘Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!’
Feb. 5: Aaron Watson – ‘American Soul’
Feb. 5: Andrew Marlin (of Mandolin Orange) — ‘Witching Hour’
Feb. 17 Jim Keller – ‘By No Means’
Feb. 19: Austin Meade – ‘Black Sheep’
Feb. 19: Spencer Burton- ‘Coyote’
Feb. 19: Andrew Marlin (of Mandolin Orange) — ‘Fable & Fire’
Feb. 19: Catherine Britt – Home Truths
Feb. 19: Ian Fisher – American Standards
Feb. 19: The Dead South – Served Live
Feb. 19: David Olney and Anana Kay – ‘Whispers And Sighs’
Feb. 19: John Paul Keith – The Rhythm of the City
Feb. 19: Veronica Lewis –You Ain’t Unlucky
Feb. 26: Willie Nelson – ‘That’s Life’ (Willie’s second release of Frank Sinatra covers.)
Feb. 26: Clint Roberts – ‘Rose Songs’
Feb. 26: David Huckfelt -‘Room Enough
Feb. 26: Sara Petite – ‘Rare Bird’

March
March 5: Ottoman Turks – ‘Ottoman Turks II’
March 5: Jason Ringenberg (Jason and the Scorchers) – ‘Rhinestoned’
March 5: Graham Wilkinson – ‘Cuts So Deep’
March 12: Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno – ‘Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno’
March 12: Peter Case – ‘The Midnight Broadcast’
March 12:Southern Culture On The Skids – ‘At Home With Southern Culture On The Skids’
March 12 Valerie June – ‘The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers’
March 12 Israel Nash – ‘Topaz’
March 19: Loretta Lynn – ‘Still Woman Enough’
March 19: Austin Meade – ‘ Black Sheep’ (DEBUT)
March 19: Rob Leines – ‘Blood Sweat and Beers’
March 19: Steve Earle & The Dukes – ‘J.T.’ (physical)
March 19: Mike Barnett – ‘+1’
March 19: Melissa Carper – ‘Daddy’s Country Gold’
March 19: Loretta Lynn – ‘Still Woman Enough’
March 19: Mike Barnett – +1
March 19: Sarah King – The Hour
Joe Pug – The Diving Sun (Side A)
March 19: Mandy Rowden – Parachute
March 19: Janet Simpson – Safe Distance
March 21: Allison Russell – ‘Outside Child’
March 25: The Armadillo Paradox – “Out of Gas in Oil Country”
March 26: Sara Watkins – ‘Under the Pepper Tree’
March 26: Esther Rose – ‘How Many Times’

April
April 9: Parker Millsap – ‘Be Here Instead’
April 16: Triston Marez – ‘Triston Marez’
April 20: Coleman Williams – “Son of Sin”
April 23: Todd Snider – ‘First Agnostic Church of Hope And Wonder’
April 30: Ashley Monroe – ‘Rosegold’
April 30: Ronnie Milsap – ‘A Better Word for Love’

May
May 7: Ted Russell Kamp – ‘Solitaire’
May 7: Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram & Jon Randall – ‘The Marfa Tapes’
May 7: Travis Tritt – ‘Set in Stone’
May 14: Alan Jackso – ‘Where Have You Gone’
May 14: The Steel Woods – ‘All of Your Stones’
May 28: Ashley McBryde – ‘Never Will: Live From a Distance’ EP
May 28: Blackberry Smoke, – ‘You Hear Georgia’
May 28: Rider & Rolling Thunder – ‘On the Banks of the Tennessee’

June
June 4: Turner Cody & The Soldiers of Love – ‘Friends in High Places’
June 18: Amy Helm – ‘What the Flood Leaves Behind’
June 11: Oak Ridge Boys – ‘Front Porch Singin”
June 11: Cory Grinder and the Playboy Scouts – ‘Honky Tonkin’ Beauty Supreme’
June 18: Rory Feek – ‘Gentle Man’
June 25: JP Harris – ‘Dreadful Wind and Rain’

July
July 9: The Flatlanders – ‘Treasure of Love’

August
August 27: Jason Eady – ‘To The Passage of Time’
August 27: Summer Dean – ‘Bad Romantic’

TBA

Cream of the Crop – Twang Nation Top Americana and Roots Music Picks of 2020

Let’s be real, the fact that anything good came out of the hellscape that is 2020 is a miracle.
The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 left a mark on everyone not least of all the music industry. Many folks faced the daunting inability to earn a living on the road. Unbowed and resourceful they quickly moved to perform streaming shows, sometimes with little more than a smartphone and a prayer, and a virtual tip jar and made the best of it.

That said after 17 years I’ve decided to put the blog on hiatus.I have been battling health issues for some time. Thank those of you that have reached out with words of advice and encouragement.

The roots of this music cannot be denied and have been around longer than most of us have been breathing and will continue, as long as there is a heart broken or somebody with a paycheck looking for a good time, it will be here long after our last breath. And I will be listening and sharing on occasion for those open minded enough that they won’t be forced into a particular ideology to be deemed worthy of wearing some bands t-shirt.

17 yers of discovering records with a hungry and vibrant community, blistering, sweating beer live shows reveled in, the occasional brush with the legitimate music industry that believed a blogger made me some authority (suckers!) tons of friends made and enough memories for 10 lifetimes. Some of you might care less as many times I was on the unpopular side of the mob and was called out publicly instead of engaged with in good faith. Some of you might think this is a bummer. I hear you and wish it were different.

Enough of the kvetching. Below are my list of best albums of 2020. I applaud these artists, in no particular order, looked into the abyss of 2020 and made something beautiful in response. Special shout-out to newcomer Alma Russ. Her amazing instrumental talent and winning trill are the reason I wanted to share new finds with others folks holding lop-sided taste.

Adios and here’s to joyful mongrels.

Baron

Tessy Lou Williams, ‘Tessy Lou Williams’

Katie Pruitt, ‘Expectations’

Alma Russ, “Next Town”

Zephaniah OHora, ‘Listening To The Music’

Colter Wall, ‘Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs’

Charley Crocket, ‘Welcome To Hard Times’

Rachel Brooke, ‘The Loneliness In Me’

John Baumann, ‘Country Shade’

Joshua Ray Walker, ‘Wish You Were Here’

Chris Stapleton, ‘Starting Over’

Sturgill Simpson Surprises Again With “Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2. (Cowboy Arms Sessions)” Release

If you were thinking to yourself “Self, I sure do loveSturgill Simpson’s “Cuttin’ Grass Vol 1. The Butcher Shoppe Sessions” but wouldn’t it be great if he did another one in a few weeks?”

Well you greedy bastard you got your wish. News trickled in the socials last night that Sturgill had a new album out. Given his penchant for tomfoolery I’m hesitant to bite on early Sturgill news. But just as he did with the first Volume, Volume. 2 (Cowboy Arms Sessions) had populated across streaming platforms as a surprise, more personal release.

Simpson said in a statement about the project: “On Volume 2, we recorded everything I was too afraid to do on Volume 1. It’s hard to deny that this is a much more intimate offering. I was thinking about my kids, my grandfather, my wife.” Vol. 2 features a returning crew of celebrated bluegrass players who were also involved in Vol. 1, including mandolin player Sierra Hull, guitarist Tim O’Brien, and fiddler Stuart Duncan.

“Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 2” gives us toe-tapping version of “You Can Have The Crown” that had previously retired from his live shows performing. There’s the inclusion of “Jesus Boogie” and “Oh Sarah” from his earlier band Sunday Valley. Simpson debuts two new cuts on the record: “Tennessee” and a “Cowboy” Jack Clement tribute album closer “Hobo Cartoon,” billed as a co-write with late country legend Merle Haggard. The album also interprets a half-dozen songs from Simpson’s 2016 record “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth.”

Again joining Sturgill on the release is the hot-shot bluegrass band, dubbed the “Hillbilly Avengers,”fiddler Stuart Duncan, guitarist Tim O’Brien, mandolinist Sierra Hull, drummer Miles Miller, bassist Mike Bub and Scott Vestal and Mark Howard on banjo. David Ferguson produced the album.

Order “Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2.” pre-release.

“Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2. (Cowboy Arms Sessions)” Track List:

1. Call To Arms
2. Brace for Impact (Live a Little)
3. Oh Sarah
4. Sea Stories (Sunday Valley cut)
5. Hero
6. Welcome To Earth (Pollywog)
7. Jesus Boogie (Sunday Valley cut)
8. Keep It Between The Lines
9. You Can Have The Crown
10. Tennessee
11. Some Days
12. Hobo Cartoon written with Merle Haggard)

Record Store Day Black Friday 2020 Releases – Roots & Americana Picks

Record Store Day's Black Friday

Despite all the damage the pandemic has caused the music industry if you’re a record collector there is a silver lining. Vinyl sales surpassed CD sales for the first time in 34 years!

This is due in no small part to the efforts of the the good folks at Record Store Dy who have brought collectors limited edition new, classic and long out-of-print slabs of wax for the past 12 years.

The newest addition is RSD Black Friday. The event will take place on Black Friday (The day after Thanksgiving, November 27th) and, though a smaller selection than RSD proper (though it is closer to a 2020 version, the RSD drop) there’s still some good selections for the on your nice list to be had by John Prine, Luther Dickinson, The Drive-By Truckers, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings ,and, my personal favorite , a live Uncle Tupelo from 1994!

There’s also 3 Jonny Cash selections on the niche 3″ Vinyl format, so if you have a player you can get that.

If you pick up some of these releases ag me on Instagram (@twangnation) and show me what you’ve got.

See the full release list here.

JOHNNY CASH
Folsom Prison Blues

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Format: 3″ Vinyl
Label: ORG MUSIC
Quantity: 1000
A 3″ single release, made for the RSD3 mini-turntable and other turntables in the series, like the RSD2020 clear mini-turntable. Four Johnny Cash singles are being released in the series, on RSD Black Friday 2020. First recorded and released in 1955, “Folsom Prison Blues” became one of Johnny Cash’s signature songs. A live version, recorded among the inmates at Folsom State Prison in 1968 became a #1 chart hit and in June 2014 Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #51 on its list of the 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.

JOHNNY CASH
Guess Things Happen That Way

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Release Date: 11/27/2020
Format: 3″ Vinyl
Label: ORG Music
Quantity: 1000
Release type: RSD 3″ Vinyl

A 3″ single release, made for the RSD3 mini-turntable and other turntables in the series, like the RSD2020 clear mini-turntable. Four Johnny Cash singles are being released in the series, on RSD Black Friday 2020. Released on May 19, 1958 “I Guess Things Happen That Way” (originally written by Jack Clement) was Johnny’s fourth chart single—hitting #1 on the Country charts and #11 on the Hot 100. The head of religious programming for the BBC banned it from the airwaves when it was first released!

JOHNNY CASH
Get Rhythm

DETAILS
Format: 3″ Vinyl
Label: ORG MUSIC
Quantity: 1000
Release type: RSD 3″ Vinyl
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A 3″ single release, made for the RSD3 mini-turntable and other turntables in the series, like the RSD2020 clear mini-turntable. Four Johnny Cash singles are being released in the series, on RSD Black Friday 2020. Originally released in May 1956 as the B-side of “I Walk The Line” this tale of optimism from the point of view of a shoeshine boy was re-recorded with dubbed “live effects” and released as an A-side of its own in 1969.

JOHNNY CASH
I Walk The Line

DETAILS
Format: 3″ Vinyl
Label: ORG MUSIC
Quantity: 1000
Release type: RSD 3″ Vinyl
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A 3″ single release, made for the RSD3 mini-turntable and other turntables in the series, like the RSD2020 clear mini-turntable. Four Johnny Cash singles are being released in the series, on RSD Black Friday 2020. Recorded on April 2 and released on May 1, 1956 “I Walk The Line” was Johnny Cash’s first #1 Billboard country chart single, crossed over to #17 on the Pop chart, and stayed on the Billboard charts for 42 weeks. It was originally intended as a slow ballad, but producer Sam Phillips encouraged a faster tempo, and magic was made!

LUTHER DICKINSON
Rock, Live Concert

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Format: LP
Label: New West Records
Quantity: 900
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
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In the winter of 2016, Luther Dickinson began touring behind the release of his latest record, Blues & Ballads: A Folksingers Songbook Vols 1 & 2. Normaltown Hall, a now extinct listening room that sat above the New West Records office in Athens, GA, was known for hosting community events and intimate concerts intended for the listener and performer to connect. The venue capacity was permitted for 115 listeners, but on the night of March 9, 2016 there might have been over 200 people stuffed into the venue. Luther Dickinson (guitar, vocals), Sharde Thomas (drums, fife, vocals), Will Sexton (guitar), Amy LaVere (upright bass) and Brandon Chornes (drums) got on stage and brought down the house that night with a very intimate and eclectic set of American music.

New West Records is proud to release this once in a lifetime performance on super limited blue sky vinyl.

SIDE A: “Death Comes On Wings of Crepe / Blind Lemon and the Hook Man”, “Hurry Up Sunrise”, “Karmic Debt”, “Highwater (Soldier)”, “Station Blues”

SIDE B: “Mean Ol’ Wind Died Down”, “Bang Bang Lulu”, “Chevrolet”, “Shady Grove”, “Little Sally Walker”

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS
Plan 9 Records July 13, 2006

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Format: 3 x LP
Label: New West Records
Quantity: 3800
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
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On July 13, 2006 the Drive-By Truckers set up shop at Plan 9 Records in Richmond, VA. It was the 25th Anniversary of the store. The band performed to a packed house and played a blistering set of fan-favorites featuring the songs, “18 Wheels of Love”, “Let There Be Rock”, “Goddamn Lonely Love” and “Daddy’s Cup.” The performance was also set up to benefit the Bryan and Kathryn Harvey Family Memorial Endowment. The foundation provides, among other things, music scholarships in the Richmond area. Lead vocalist and songwriter, Patterson Hood ended up writing the song “Two Daughters and A Beautiful Wife” about Bryan Harvey and his family.

This RSD Black Friday 3 LP set will be pressed on black 140g vinyl and it will be packaged in a “bootleg” style wide-spine jacket featuring a a reprint of the ticket and show poster made for the event. The jackets will be numbered according to the worldwide pressing run of 6000.

SIDE A: “Tales Facing Up”, “One Of These Days”, “Easy on Yourself”, “Feb. 14 (3:35)”, “Aftermath USA”

SIDE B: “Gravity’s Gone”, “Sink Hole”, “Outfit”, “My Sweet Annette”, “Marry Me”

SIDE C: “A World of Hurt”, “Why Henry Drinks”, “The Day John Henry Died”, “Wednesday”

SIDE D: “Shut Up And Get On The Plane”, “Ronnie And Neil”, “Moonlight Mile”, “Let There Be Rock”

SIDE E: “Zip City”, “Goddamn Lonely Love”, “18 Wheels of Love”

SIDE F: “Nine Bullets”, “Daddy’s Cup”, “Decoration Day”, “Lookout Mountain”

SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In)

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Format: LP
Label: Daptone Records
Quantity: 4000
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
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Throughout their career, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings remained in high demand both publicly and privately to recreate and often re-imagine songs by other artists. More often than not, these covers were recorded by request, commissioned for placement in movies, television programs, tribute albums, or for samples. This album compiles some of their most popular and some never-before-heard renditions Though the band mostly built their career on a prolific catalog of originals, these forays into other artists’ compositions lay bare their gift for arrangement and the unmatched studio prowess that earned them their reputation as The Baddest Band in the Land.

SIDE A: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, “Little By Little”, “Just Dropped In”, “Here I Am Baby”, “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”, “Take Me With U”

SIDE B: “Inspiration Information”, “Giving Up”, “Rescue Me”, “In The Bush”, “It Hurts To Be Alone”, “Trespasser”

BETTYE LAVETTE, BILLIE HOLIDAY, NINA SIMONE
Original Grooves: Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Bettye LaVette

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Verve
Quantity: 2500
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
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Verve Label Group is proud to launch a new vinyl series, Original Grooves, available exclusively on Record Store Day and RSD Black Friday. Original Grooves showcases the vinyl cutting technique known as “parallel grooves”, where grooves are cut side-by-side instead of one after another, allowing for a different aural experience depending on where the needle is dropped. The first of this series comes from five-time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette, with hidden gems from Verve legends Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. The Blues Hall of Fame legend deftly reinterprets the classics “Strange Fruit” and “I Hold No Grudge” on this 12” EP, with the original timeless versions “hidden” on the neighboring grooves.

SIDE A:
01) Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday) (3:12)
02) Strange Fruit (Bettye LaVette) (4:30)

SIDE B:
01) I Hold No Grudge (Nina Simone) (2:18)
02) I Hold No Grudge (Bettye LaVette) (6:12)

JAMES MCMURTRY
Childish Things

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Format: 2 x LP
Label: Lightning Rod Records
Quantity: 3000
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Author Stephen King described Ft. Worth native James McMurtry as “the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation” in Entertainment Weekly. The son of acclaimed author Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment), James grew up on a steady diet of Johnny Cash and Roy Acuff records. 2005’s Childish Things garnered some of the highest critical praise of McMurtry’s career and spent six weeks at number one on R&R’s Americana Music Radio Chart in 2005 and 2006. In September 2006, Childish Things and “We Can’t Make It Here” won the Americana Music Awards for album and song of the year, respectively. This is the first time Childish Things will be available on vinyl.

1 See The Elephant 2 Childish Things 3 We Can’t Make It Here 4 Slew Foot 5 Bad Enough 6 Restless 7 Memorial Day 8 Six Year Drought 9 Old Part of Town 10 Charlemagne’s Hometown 11 Pocatello 12 Holiday

WILLIE NELSON
Live at Austin City Limits 1976

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Release Date: 11/27/2020
Format: LP
Label: Legacy
Quantity: 4000
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
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Willie Nelson has appeared on Austin City Limits more than any other artist, performing on the pilot and seventeen subsequent episodes of the Texas Public Television institution that debuted in 1976 and is still going strong as the longest running music series in American television history. This performance was captured in 1976 and aired as the premiere episode of the second season the following year. It found Willie and The Family performing his classic album Red Headed Stranger front to back in an amazing performance and this RSD Black Friday edition marks its first audio release.

Side A: “Time Of The Preacher”, “I Couldn’t Believe It Was True”, “Time Of The Preacher Theme”, “Medley: Blue Rock Montana/Red Headed Stranger”, “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”, “Red Headed Stranger”, “Time Of The Preacher Theme”, “Just As I Am”

Side B: “Denver”, “O’er The Waves”, “Down Yonder”, “Can I Sleep In Your Arms”, “Remember Me”, “Hands On The Wheel”, “Bandera”

JOHN PRINE
The Asylum Albums

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Format: 3 x LP
Label: Rhino/Elektra
Quantity: 2000
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
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John Prine’s three Asylum-era LPs, pressed on audiophile 180gram black vinyl, faithfully replicating the original packaging.

Album 1: Bruised Orange
1. Fish And Whistle 2. There She Goes 3. If You Don’t Want My Love 4. That’s The Way That The World Goes Round 5. Bruised Orange (Chain Of Sorrow) 6. Sabu Visits The Twin Cities Alone 7. Aw Heck 8. Crooked Piece Of Time 9. Iron Ore Betty 10. The Hobo Song

Album 2: Pink Cadillac
1. Chinatown 2. Automobile 3. Killing The Blues 4. No Name Girl 5. Saigon 6. Cold War (This Cold War With You) 7. Baby Let’s Play House 8. Down By The Side Of The Road 9. How Lucky 10. Ubangi Stomp

Album 3: Storm Windows
1. Shop Talk 2. Living In The Future 3. It’s Happening To You 4. Sleepy Eyed Boy 5. All Night Blue 6. Just Wanna Be With You 7. Storm Windows 8. Baby Ruth 9. One Red Rose 10. I Had A Dream

UNCLE TUPELO
Live at Lounge Ax – March 24, 1994

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Format: 2 x LP
Label: dBpm Records Inc.
Quantity: 2500
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
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Recording of the full concert from Chicago’s Lounge Ax club, originally broadcast live on WXRT. Pressed on two 33 RPM, 150g vinyl discs for RSD Black Friday.

Side 1 1. Chickamauga 2. Watch Me Fall 3. Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down 4. Fifteen Keys 5. The Long Cut

Side 2 1. Anodyne 2. New Madrid 3. Sandusky 4. Looking For A Way Out 5. Slate

Side 3 1. Great Atomic Power 2. Acuff-Rose 3. We’ve Been Had 4. Give Back The Key To My Heart 5. Postcard

Side 4 1. Gun 2. Whiskey Bottle 3. Effigy

HANK WILLIAMS
1952 Radio Audition

DETAILS
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2020
Release Date: 11/27/2020
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: BMG
Quantity: 2000
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
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Rare recordings from Hank Williams’ 1952 radio show auditions for the first time ever on vinyl.

Side A 1) Why Don’t You Love Me – Hank Williams 2) San Antonio Rose – Owen Bradley & His Orchestra

Side B 1) Honey, Be My Honey Bee – The Beasley Sisters 2) Cold, Cold Heart – Hank Williams 3) Why Don’t You Love Me

Hear Steve Earle Pay Tribute to Justin Townes Earle

On his forthcoming album, “J.T.”, Steve Earle & The Dukes pay tribute to Steve’s late son, Justin Townes Earle (J.T.), who passed away on August 20, 2020 in Nashville. The album will be released digitally on what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday, January 4, 2021, CD and vinyl formats will release March 19, 2021.

The first track, “Harlem River Blues” is available below and on your favorite streaming platforms today. The poignant song is one of Justin’s best-known compositions and took Song of the Year honors at the 2011 Americana Music Awards ceremony following Justin’s win in the Emerging Artist of the Year category in 2009.

100% of the artist advances and royalties from J.T. will be donated to a trust for Etta St. James Earle, the three-year-old daughter of Justin and Jenn Earle. While somber in parts, the album is ultimately a rousing celebration of a life lived with passion and purpose.

In addition, the following partners will be offering exclusive, limited edition pressings:
Good Records – Neon Pink
Vinyl Me, Please – Blue and Red swirl
Magnolia Record Club – Lime Green (members only until 11/19)
Australia – Translucent Green
Rough Trade – Translucent Yellow and Grey swirl

Amazon Studios to Create Merle Haggard Biopic

Sam Rockwell, Merle Haggard
Courtesy of Michael Schwartz; AP

deadline.com reports that Amazon Studios has acquired the rights to create a Merle Haggard biopic. Top of the list to play The Hag s Oscar-winning actor Sam Rockwell (The Green Mile, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Blaze) and that he will do his own singing of Haggard’s perennial standards

Robin Bissell will direct the film and will write the script with Merle’s widow, Theresa Haggard, based on the Haggard memoir Sing Me Back Home. Bissell and Haggard will produce the film jointly.

The film covers Haggard’s subsequent struggle to escape his hard past to become a better man and legendary artist. Ashamed of his past, Haggard hid his ex-con status from all but those closest to him until finally coming clean on Johnny Cash’s TV show in 1969. The story also focuses heavily on Merle’s complicated love affair, which played out on-stage and off, with singer Bonnie Owens – his singing partner and eventual wife.

Once Haggard figured it all out, he became a symbol of the power of rehabilitation: from 1966-1970, Merle had 9 number one hits, and would record 38 number one tunes overall and 71 in the top ten. His biggest hits included Okie From Muskogee, The Fightin’ Side Of Me, Sing Me Back Home, The Fugitive, Workin’ Man Blues, Mama Tried and Today I Started Loving You Again, to name only a few. He won seven CMA awards including Entertainer of The Year in 1970. Haggard in 1972 was pardoned by Governor Ronald Reagan, and astronaut Charlie Duke took his Merle Haggard tape to the moon on Apollo 16.