David Browne on the Future of Country Music in Politics

David Browne writes an interesting article on the New Republic site about country music’s seeming total allegiance to the GOP, and how the lost election may cause the industry to do some back-room hashing out of the future of country music. I like how the article ends up, but doesn’t Brown know that Ralph Stanley, in many ways the living embodiment of traditional country music, endorsed Obama?


A few dates are upcoming for country music legend Dwight Yoakam, since he’s not officially “on tour” they are scarce as hen’s teeth:

  • Terrible’s Casino – Star of the Desert Arena in Primm, NV on November, 22nd 2008
  • The Crystal Palace (Buck Owens Joint) New Year’s Eve December 31, 2008
  • Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel – Morton, MN January, 23rd, 2009


If you’re in my old neck of the woods, New York City, get your holidays started right and head to The Rockwood Music Hall on November 25th to catch Mr. Joe Whyte live, in concert. Whyte will be debuting so new tunes and the show is free so get on out, you’ll be glade you did.

Joe Whyte
Tuesday, November 25
Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen St., NYC
*take the F or V to the LES/2nd Ave stop and its right across the street

Chrissie Hynde Goes Country

Popmatters.com has a review of the DVD “Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass Music” which they discribe as “Informative and educational, intriguing and entertaining, part American history lesson, part biography and part concert film…”

The good folks over at The 9513 brought to my attention that current Twang Nation favorite Jamey Johnson will be joining Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Kenny Chesney (?!) for the 2008 Farm Aid music festival in New England on Sept. 20. Nashville Scene (High Lonesome Sound) and CMT.com(Don’t Tell Jamey Johnson That He’s “Too Country”) both offer features on Johnson.

The guardian.co.uk Music Blog has a brief run down of the current state of American alt.country/Americana scene (Are you ready for (more of) the country?)

Chrissie Hynde of the bad the Pretenders states that the bands first new album in six years (“Break up the Concrete”) will be “moving in a country direction.” Of all the country music carpet bagging that has been happening recently I have to say that a musician with Hynde’s credibility makes me think she’ll do it right, but she is a vegitarian, so does this mean that Jessica Simpson has to get another t-shirt?

Hank Williams pedal player Don Helms dies

From Country Standard Time: Don Helms, pedal steel guitarist for Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys, died this morning at 81. He is featured on more than 100 Williams recordings. Helms played a lap steel (also known as “Hawaiian steel”) guitar. This type of steel guitar lacks the foot pedals found on the more modern pedal steel guitar, which did not come into prominence in country music until after Hank Williams’ death in 1953.

Now go put on a Hank Sr. song (“So Lonesome I Could Cry” is a good one) and listen to the distict wail of Helms’ pedal steel.

Loretta Lynn in the New York Times

A Smithsonian Institution exhibit on the roots of American music opens today in Shepherdsville, KY.

The Tennessean.com has a piece on a guy I like and will keep my eye on, Montgomery, Ala., native Jamey Johnson.

The New York Times reviews Loretta Lynne’s recent show in New Jersey. Even though Lynne was ailing from a recent back operation the crowd was charmed and captivated.

David Allan Coe and Shooter Jennings in Harp Magazine

A great conversation by a couple of bonafide country music outlaws reminiscing about the good old days. From the piece:

JENNINGS: Nashville’s never going to change. They’re always going to be the same. They play by the rules. And it’s all still a pop thing. Nashville controlled it in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. It was just the reckless people that did it their own way that broke out [into the mainstream].

COE: The greatest example of that is Charlie Rich. Charlie Rich was just coming off of Behind Closed Doors, which was the biggest fuckin’ record. And if you went up by Sony Records, they would tell you-you couldn’t walk in a building, you know. Because Charlie was in the building, they had the doors locked. Security had to check you out first before you could get in the building. Then they had the awards show. And he was supposed to read the winner of male vocalist of the year. And he just opened the envelope and read it and took his fuckin’ lighter out and set it on fire.

JENNINGS: When John Denver won.

COE: Yeah. He refused to announce this guy as male vocalist of the year. And I thought it was the greatest fuckin’ thing I ever saw in my life. And you know what? You never heard Charlie Rich’s name again ever. That’s how powerful that town is. I just think music should be good or bad, period.

The Railbenders to Play Denver’s Mile High Music Festival

  • The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will feature music from their 42 year career to Austin’s Riverside Arena stage at 9:15 p.m. Friday, July 18. D.C. Drifters & Friends opens the show.
  • The San Jose Mecury News has a nice piece on David Andersen who plays his 15-year-old Epiphone and greets tourists from around the world in the atrium of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Earl Scruggs said of Andersen “I love your pickin,’ son.”
  • Nashville Skyline’s always excellent Chet Flippo has good things to say about  Randy Travis’ upcoming release “Around the Bend (July 15)
  • For all you with laptop country music asperations Beta Monkey Music has released “Pure Country I: Rocking Nashville” a new set of drum loops targeted to Country music musicians. The loops come in many formats, including Apple Loops, which are compatible with GarageBand and Logic. Just bring a real drummer when you hit the road, folks.
  • There still seems to be some confusion why Tim McGraw dragged Marcus Nirschl 30, a union glazer from Kent, Wash. on stage at a Washington State performance and then had him thrown out of the show. There have been allegations the man assaulted a woman who was in one of the front rows but the YouTube video of the incident is inconclusive (Q: Does McGraw allways look so bored while on stage as he does in this clip?). The ejected fan says he’s still a fan of McGraw. “I still like the guy,” Nirschl said. “The music’s still great. I just don’t know why he wanted to punch me.”
  • Our thoughts go out to Elizabeth Cook on the passing of her mother. Cook has used her MySpace Blog to share her feelings uduring these rough times.

Loretta Lynn Live at Ft. Worth’s Bass Hall

  • Dallasnews.com has a nice write up on the grand dame of Country Music, Loretta Lynn’s sold out show last Saturday at Ft. Worth’s Bass Hall. The night before Lo-retty had played Stubb’s in Austin’s (latter part via the 9513)
  • The New York Times covered the Alison Krauss and Robert Plant show at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. I was at this fantastic show and my review is forthcoming (I swear! Really!)
  • Jonathan Yardley at the Washington Post reviews Dana Jennings’ book about country music and his hard scrabble upbringing in rural New Hampshire “Sing Me Home.” I have read this excellent book and my review is forthcoming (I swear! Really!)
  • Stephen M. Deusner at Pitchfork.com uses Miranda Lambert’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” release as a jumping off point to other great country albums over the last few years that “demand to be heard with the same open-mindedness and enthusiasm as Lambert.”

  • Barnes&Noble.com has posted a video of “One on One with Emmylou Harris”, recorded live at their Union Square store in New York. Emmylou talks about her new release “All I Intended To Be” and performs her songs off the album “Gold,” “Not Enough,” written about her dog Bonaparte after he dies, and “How She Could Sing the Wildwood Flower” which was written after seeing a PBS documentary on the Carter Family. She also tells a great story about how her babysitter was the conduit for her and Gram Parsons to meet.
  • Willie Nelson and Carl Cornelius are ready to take the wrapping off the new 30,000-square foot renovation off of the renovation of Carl’s Corner truck stop, the one with the old Tango nightclub giant musician frogs on the roof.
    The new space is now christened “Willie’s Place,” and will includes a honky tonk, restaurant, a poker room and trucker amenities, with a concert July 3. “Willie’s Place” is on IH-35 about 40 miles north of Waco “Willie’s Place at Carl’s Corner” will also process and sell biodeisel fuel.
  • Cross Canadian Ragweed frontman Cody Canada draws a line in the Red Dirt between their sound and pop country: “It just keeps getting more pop and more pop. We’re only in our 30s, but we’re kind of old-school, old-fashioned when it comes to country music. If it’s called ‘country music,’ it ought to sound like country music.”
  • And last but not least, Twang Nation HQ will be pulling up stakes from beautiful, balmy New York City for new digs in San Francisco, CA. on July 15th (with a long stretch in the homeland, Texas, in between.

Texas Man Returns George Jones Guitar After 46 Years!

Props to retired oil man Larry Berry of Chandler, Texas for returning George Jones’ stolen acoustic Martin-000 guitar which he bought for $10 from two boys at his Fort Worth, Texas, apartment complex in 1962(!)

Berry said he’s been “trying to reach Jones since the 1960s to return it, and finally got through this year.”

The Possum will recieive the long lost instrument on June 14 when Berry will pesent him with the guitar at a performance in Bossier City, La.

What made Berry think that the guitar he bought belonged to Jones? The guitar’s strap had Jones’ name on it with streaks of “White Lightning.”

Yeah, that would do it!


Robbie Fulks in the The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe has a nice feature (He’s country but he jumps genres with irreverence) on alt.country journeyman Robbie Fulks. A excerpt:

Fulks, who plays a duo show with his friend Robbie Gjersoe at Club Passim tomorrow night, says that hearing Chet Atkins do Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” on “A Prairie Home Companion” gave him validation for his obsessive urge to demolish musical barriers.

Curiously, he’s both country to the core and an incorrigible iconoclast. “I feel it’s an ongoing tension in my life,” says the singer, who parlayed the considerable buzz of his mid-’90s arrival into a steady, if largely under-the-radar, career as an “alt-country” mainstay.

The tension, he says from his Chicago home, isn’t between country music and everything else as much as it is between “genre and experiment.” Given the choice, he’ll jump the wall every time.

Robbie Fulks “Cigarette State” – Corporate Country Sucks