Video Premiere – Grain Thief – “Colorado Freeze”

Today Twang Nation is proud to exclusively premiere the video for Grain Thief’s “Colorado Freeze” from their full-length debut “Stardust Lodge.” (out now – order below) The song is perfect road song and the video fitfully follows the band as they perform on their tour bus on the way to visit a Colorado amusement park. The VHS camcorder gives the whole thing a nice washed-out grainy aesthetic.

Grain Thief is a 5-piece americana string band from Boston, MA. The group comprises Patrick Mulroy (guitar, vocals), Zach Meyer (mandolin, vocals), Michael Harmon (bass, vocals), Tom Farrell (lead guitar), and Alex Barstow (fiddle).

Prior to the formation of the band, Grain Thief was used as a moniker for Mulroy’s solo project from 2011-2014. Mulroy toured the East Coast sporadically after recording two EPs and moving back to Boston from Washington, DC where he had worked in a Korean Restaurant and played bass in a heavy metal jam band called Thundertyts.

In Boston, he continued to use the name Grain Thief and brought in a revolving group of drummers, percussionists, guitarists, and bass players. Rhode Island born Tom Farrell joined the coalition early on as a lead guitar player–he and Mulroy met in a dark basement in Brighton somewhere around 2008. For a time, the band featured 2 drummers, with Farrell on bass allowing Mulroy to play his newly purchased blonde telecaster.

After much prodding, saxophonist, Zach Meyer reluctantly joined the band on mandolin. The two had met through a mutual friend in the Cambridge competitive beer-drinking scene and vaguely knew that the other could play an instrument. However, this quartet (Mulroy, Meyer, Farrell, and South Shore Joe Angellis on drums) would not last. Dissatisfied with the project’s direction, Mulroy dissolved it.

The new Grain Thief reformed almost immediately at Meyer’s apartment in Lower Allston, where the 3 former members (Mulroy, Meyer, and Farrell) worked on acoustic arrangements of some new and old songs to prepare for a one-off show in a converted Brooklyn warehouse.

Meyer’s then roommate was future fiddle-player Alex Barstow. Barstow was trained as a classical violist, but was soon dragged into jamming on old time tunes by Meyer who grew up in the old-time fiddle community in Washington state. Barstow never made it to that show in Brooklyn, but he did wind up at the band’s next rehearsal and first two shows at the Rosebud Diner in Davis Square.

Meanwhile, acquaintance of the band and recording engineer Mike Harmon was building a studio out by Wachusett Mountain in Central Massachusetts. Mulroy, a carpenter, seeing the opportunity to score some free recording time for his fledgling band, spent countless hours with Mike building out the studio. However, the free recording time would never come to pass, as Mike would soon join the band. With Mike’s bass, third vocal harmony, and Trident series 65 console, the band was now complete. Their union was solidified after Mulroy accidentally dropped Harmon’s 1939 Kay Bass down the stairs, snapping the headstock clean off, resulting in a costly repair and lifelong friendship.

Their debut EP Animal was recorded and released in November 2015. The record showcases the band’s roots in folk, bluegrass, and old time music. In 2017, the band began a residency at the Burren pub in Somerville and continues to entertain the Wednesday crowds to this day. From their perch in Massachusetts, the band has toured heavily in New England and made forays in the West, South, and East Coast.

The recording of Animal’s follow up Stardust Lodge began in April 2016 and finished a year and a half later. Mulroy’s lyrical approach to the album is met equally with songs of loss and regret, and the struggles of the everyday working man with a satirical twist. The arrangements and instrumentation represent a departure from Animal’s bleak simplicity with the band showing a bit more leg. With a new record out and shows booked throughout the country, the band has a long road ahead to cruise.

Reflecting on the inspiration behind the song, Mulroy has this to say:

“The song was co-written by myself (Patrick Mulroy) and a good friend, Connor McGinnis, a Nashville songwriter, formerly of the Zuni Mountain Boys, who is currently working on a new record down there.

He started the song, and I finished it is the short answer. It’s sourced from both of our memories of old flames and cold mornings. It deals with looking back on mistakes or memories from far into the future after the dust has settled.”

The song is the first single off of our record Stardust Lodge, which came out on August 24th.

In preparation for the release, the band did a 7 date tour of Colorado, hitting all four corners. They filmed the video on the road, and at various stops along the way– our bass player Mike handled the editing duties.

Buy “Stardust Lodge” here.

Official Site: grainthief.com

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Wanted! – Notable Americana and Roots Music Releases for 2018

2017 was another great year for Americana and roots music, and 2018 so far shows no signs that the great music is waning. As our Cream of the Crop favorites from last year makes plain we continue to experience a golden age of roots and Americana music. From Sturgill Simpson winning the Grammy for the best Country album of the Year (for his least country album no less) to the increased numbers of roots artists in media and festival line-ups the genre continues to represent and deliver on great music.

As I’ve said before, this is important not only because as fans, there’s abundant choices for our entertainment but because it continues to lay a foundation for future ‘Cream of the Crop’ recipients.

The list below is a collection of known 2017 notable Americana / roots releases. Some anticipated releases from artists like American Aquarium and Kacey Musgraves have no release dates yet, but when I become aware of them and others I will be updating the list throughout the year. Follow me on Twitter to stay current on changes to the list.

If you know of an actual release not listed yet please leave it in the comments.

One thing is for sure, it’s going to be another great year for roots music folks.

January 12th –
Brooks Dixon – White Roses EP
Ryan Bingham – ‘Live’
Cindy Alexander – ‘Nowhere To Hide’
Seth Lakeman – ‘Ballads Of The Broken Few’
Cassidy Best – ‘Same Old Sins’

January 19th –
First Aid Kit – ‘Ruins’
Lanco – ‘Hallelujah Nights
’
R. Finn (aka Chris Rondinella) – ‘Collecting Trip
Calexico, The Thread That Keeps Us
Steep Canyon Rangers, Out in the Open
Kalie Shorr, Awake EP
Mary Gauthier, Rifles and Rosary Beads
Devin Dawson – ‘Dark Horse’
Caitlyn Smith -‘Starfire’
Van William – ‘Countries’
Alice DiMicele – “One With The Tide”
Grace Basement – ‘Mississippi Nights’
Glen Hansard – ‘Between Two Shores’
John Gorka – ‘True In Time’

January 26th –
The Ben Miller Band – ‘Choke Cherry Tree’
Laura Benitez and The Heartache’s – ‘With All Its Thorns’
Sara Morgan – ‘Average Jane’
The Fugitives – ‘The Promise of Strangers’
Ron Pope – ‘Worktapes EP’

February 2nd –
Mike and the Moonpies – ‘Steak Night at the Prairie Rose’
The Wood Brothers – ‘One Drop of Truth’
John Oates – ‘Arkansas’
Sunny War – ‘With the Sun’

February 9th –
Wade Bowen – ‘Solid Ground
’
Jim White – ‘Waffles, Triangles & Jesus’

February 16th –
Matthew McNeal – ‘Good Luck’
Brandi Carlile – ‘By the Way, I Forgive You’
Courtney Patton – ‘What It’s Like to Fly Alone’
I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan) – ‘See You Around’

February 23rd –
Jeff Hyde – ‘Norman Rockwell World’
3hattrio – ‘Lord of the Desert’
Doby Watson – “Family Mattress Deluxe”

March 2nd –
Vivian Leva – ‘Time is Everything’
Chip Taylor – ‘Fix Your Words’
Haley Heynderickx – ‘I Need To Start A Garden’
Son of the Chief – ‘Needless Road’
Savannah Conley – “Twenty-Twenty.”

March 9th –
Ashley Campbell – ‘The Lonely One’
Ross Cooper – “Another Mile”

March 16th –
Trailhead – “Keep Walking”

March 23rd –
The Price Sisters – ‘A Heart Never Knows’
Paul Thorn – ‘Album Don’t Let The Devil Ride’

March 30th –
Caitlin Canty – ‘Motel Bouquet’
Lindi Ortega -‘Liberty’
Kim Richey – ‘Edgeland’
Ashley McBryde – ‘Girl Going Nowhere’
Great Peacock – ‘Gran Pavo Real’
Sam Morrow – ‘Concrete and Mud’

April 6th –
Blackberry Smoke – ‘Find A Light’
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – ‘Years’
Jodee Lewis – ‘Buzzard’s Bluff’
Kacey Musgraves – ‘Golden Hour’

April 10th –
Rita Hosking – ‘For Real’

April 13th –
John Prine – ‘Tree of Forgiveness’
Simone Felice – ‘The Projector’

April 20th –
Old Crow Medicine Show – ‘Volunteer’
Joshua Hedley – “Mr. Jukebox”
Charley Crockett – ‘Lonesome As a Shadow’
Ashley Monroe – ‘Sparrow’

April 27th –
Band of Heathens – “Live Via Satellite” On April 27th

May 4th
Scott Mickelson – ‘A Wondrous Life’
Parker Millsap – ‘Other Arrangements’
Trampled by Turtles – ‘Life Is Good On The Open Road’
Daniel Daniel – ‘Lonesome Hollow’
Rita Coolidge – ‘Safe in the Arms of Time’

May 11th
Ry Cooder – ‘The Prodigal Son’

May 18th
Kelly Willis – “Back Being Blue”
The Dead Tongues – ‘Unsung Passage’

June 1st
Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore – “Downey to Lubbock”
American Aquarium – ‘Things Change’

June 8th
Erin Rae – ‘Putting On Airs”

June 22nd
Jeffrey Foucault – ‘ Blood Brothers’
Paul Cauthon – ‘Have Mercy’
Lera Lynn – ‘Plays Well With Others’
Adam Wright – ‘Dust’
Roanoke – ‘Where I Roam’

June 29th
The Milk Carton Kids – ‘All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn’t Do’

July 13th
Carolina Story – ‘Lay Your Head Down’ – buy

July 15th
The Brothers Comatose – ‘Ink, Dust, and Luck’ buy

July 20th
Lori McKenna – “The Tree”

July 27th
Andrew Combs – 5 Covers & A Song’ EP
The Hollow Ends – ‘Bears In Mind’

August 2nd
Kevin Galloway – “The Change”

August 3rd
Jim Lauderdale – ‘Time Flies” and “Jim Lauderdale and Roland White’

August 10th
Dawn Landes – ‘Meet Me at the River’
Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis – ‘Wild! Wild! Wild!’

August 24th
Devil Makes Three – ‘Chains Are Broken’
Ryan Culwell – “The Last American”
Murder By Death – ‘The Other Shore’

August 31st
Aaron Lee Tasjan – ‘Karma for Cheap’ buy

September 7th
Roscoe & Etta – ‘Roscoe & Etta’
Mike Farris – “Silver & Stone”
William Elliott Whitmore – ‘Kilonova’
Kathy Mattea – ‘Pretty Bird’

October 12th
Colter Wall – ‘Songs of the Plains’

October 14th
Asleep at the Wheel – “New Routes”

October 26th
Whitey Morgan and the 78s – ‘Hard Times and White Lines’

Cream of the Crop – Twang Nation Top Americana and Roots Music Picks of 2017

Cream of the Crop – Twang Nation Top Americana and Roots Music Picks of 2017

Over that last 11 years of running this blog, roots and Americana has embedded itself as a fully realized and respected genre of cultural influence around the world. Bands and festivals from the UK, Australia, Japan and the Middle East are strapping on guitars, name dropping Townes Van Zandt and finding their inner hillbilly.

Though like most Best Of album lists around I’ve focused primarily on the cradle of Americana, the U.S., although the global influence cannot be underestimated. Traveling American artists find themselves with a ready and widening foreign market (oftentimes bigger than that at home) and visiting artists to The States face an open, if passionate and discerning, fanbase.

This global influence cannot be overemphasized, and I will address global Americana and roots bands in an upcoming post. Suffice to say, as might Ron Burgundy, globaly Americana is kind of a big deal.

The stylistic range and creative hunger embodies in these 10 following selections prove why the global appeal is occuring. Focus on songcraft and musicianship over studio trickery and hype alone is the lifeblood. Authenticity is a slippery concept bandied around to describe forms of music from hip-hop to punk where fakery and exploitation os trends is called out loud and mercilessly. And rightly so.

As our world slips further into digital version of the Greek myth of Narcissus, with the smartphone display as a glassy reflecting pool we longingly gaze into, we suffer a kind of cultural sickness. A sickness that ironically great song, itself a kind of Narcissism, can remind us of a shared yet isolated identity that happens when we hear it.

This crafting of shared narratives can slip from description of our journey tp prescriptive of our route. The current division within the U.S. (also largely fueled by technology) builds walls from our precious ideas separating us from understanding and, quite possibly, a change in perspective.

Whether you’re Billy Bragg or Ted Nugent, there’s a professional risk in wearing your ideology on your guitar strap. I applaud the professional stakes in the effort , but “This Land is Your Land” and “Blowin’ in the Wind’ are treasures precisely because they are the rare example of allegory over sermon that can move people.

The current charged political climate might compel artists to stretch their populist wings and create more topical songs. But many, even those that tenuously reflect my contradictory views, are little more than soapbox serenade slumming under the window of simple-minded politics, that constricts the mind instead of opening it.

2017 was another year of lost legends – Gregg Allman, Chuck Berry, Butch Trucks, Greg Trooper, guitarist Bob Wooton, Jimmy LaFave, Glen Campbell, Don Williams, Mel Tillis, Richard Dobson and others remind us how daunting their talent was and how
fleeting life is. Let’s hope for a calmer 2018.

Criteria – Calendar year 2017. No EPs, live, covers or re-release albums no matter how awesome.

Don’t see your favorite represented? Leave it in the comments, and here’s to a new year of Twang.

Zephaniah OHora – ‘This Highway’buy
If Zephaniah OHora didn’t exist he would have to be created. The mustache, slicked do, Man-in-Black wardrobe and a name right out of the Old Testament makes OHora gives the impression of a man right out of Country music central casting. But his full-length debut leaves no doubt that he’s a disciple of the classic era of Nashville Sound and Bakersfield honky-tonk and he’s here to testify to its righteousness. Songs like “I Do Believe I’ve Had Enough,” “I Can’t Let Go (Even Though I Set You Free)” and “She’s Leaving In The Morning,” evoke dark and smokey bars where tears poor like the tap beer. Is he putting us on? Perhaps, but I’m a believer.

Colter Wall – self-titled – buy
This sparse full-length debut from the man from Swift Current, Saskatchewan belies his 22 years on this planet. Produced by the hillbilly whisperer Dave Cobb songs like “Thirteen Silver Dollars” and ‘Motorcycle’ offer up a busted lip smile to world-weary vocals. Transistor radio static and train whistles intersperse with deft finger-picking across 11 dusty gems that pushes and pulls at the boundaries of Country and folk casting the mind back to a mythological romance of cowboy laments and hobo serenades.

Angaleena Presley – ‘Wrangled’ – buy
For her second solo venture the extraordinary Ms. Presley invited Pistol Annies co-conspirators Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe as well as Chris Stapleton, Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson, Vanessa Olivarez as well as legendary Texas singer/songwriter Guy Clark on what would prove to be his final completed song ( “Cheer Up Little Darling.”) The result is a deft collection of sonic vignettes tracking the unique female narrative of broken dreams, busted hearts, babies having babies and kicking against the small-town hairsprayed Harpies bent on tearing her down. Presley has provided a perfect example of female fortitude, not by penning platitudes of empowerment, but by creating a compelling album that pushes Country music forward while paying respects to the past and celebrates the mess that is life.

Sunny Sweeney – ‘Trophy’ – buy
Texas singer/songwriter Sunny Sweeney has sometimes danced closely to becoming another country music blonde hell-bent to get a foothold in the mainstream country radio badlands. Good thing she didn’t break big or her fourth studio album ‘Trophy’ might not have been made. (Though I’m sure at this point she’d prefer being on the road in a tour bus headed to one of her many shows she plays each year) Barroom laments that save a stool for misery like ‘Pass the Pain’ or as songs starkly confessional Lori McKenna co-write “Bottle By My Bed” have no place on the good-timing party seeping from contemporary Country speakers. Not to suggest all is dour here, the barn-burner ‘Better Bad Idea’ and the slinkily, smoldering title cut has the same depth but with wry smile and plenty of fuel to get those boots tapping. The chops Sweeney picked up in Nashville is in display but done in compelling and a way that feels as real as it does entertaining.

Nicole Atkins – ‘Goodnight Rhonda Lee’ – buy
New Jersey’s Nicole Atkins’ fourth album, Goodnight Rhonda Lee is a fantastic study in facing adversity and embedding it in adult roots pop in the vein of Patsy Cline era Nashville Sound and Dusty Springfield’s ‘….in Memphis’ era. The songs are deeper, more sophisticated yet more playful than her earlier work. The brilliant opening track, “A Little Crazy,” is a torchy little gem co-written with fellow neo-trad afficiend Chris Isaak pulls your heart out through the speakers as Atkins’ voice soars along with a string section and pedal steel. The title track is a reverb drenched down old Mexico way that evokes Marty Robbins best-known El Paso. ‘Goodnight Rhonda Lee’ at its heart might be retro but to stop there would be unfair to this daunting effort.

Whiskey Shivers – ‘Some Part of Something’ – buy
Texas junkyard bluegrass outfit Whiskey Shivers kicked my ass when I saw them live. ‘Some Part of Something’ comes damn near to that ass-kicking moment. The opener ‘Cluck Ol’ Hen’ is a slinking slice of Southern gothic greatness that could easily come from the book of Brooklyn’s O Death. The bluegrass heat gets turnt up high on ‘Like A Stone’ and ‘Long Gone’ careening down a one-lane road with a rock slide of melody on one side and an open ledge of potential peril on the other. Fans of Split Lip Rayfield and The Meat Purveyors rejoice

Tyler Childers – ‘Purgatory’ – buy
Yes, yes you’ve heard that Tyler Childers’ ‘Purgatory’ was co-produced by Sturgill Simpson, but that’s the least interesting this about this starting debut. Like the best of the mongrel form known as Americana it’s hard to draw a hard line where 70’s Country music Gold , folk and Bluegrass reside. And that’s just in the album opener ‘I Swear (To God)’ that contains enough drug references that would make Hank III look for the local 12-step program.’Whitehouse Road’ is another tale of hard times and hard living with a Waylon-esque confidence and what I noticed was a distinct sound of a Jew’s harp. Childers’ ‘Purgatory’ take on the darkness of drug addiction, poverty, and murder is are lived-in tales of biting sincerity and musical aplomb that casts an eye to the legacy of roots music as it blazes its own trail.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – “Tell the Devil I’m Getting There as Fast as I Can.” – buy
On his 16th studio album Hubbard stays firmly in the groove he’s made since 2006’s ‘Snake Farm.’ Like fellow traveler Lucinda Williams (who makes an appearance on the title song) Hubbard has found a late-career sonic refuge in the blues. “Tell the Devil…’ is more tales of women, reptiles, voodoo, grease and tube amps – the stuff of life on the road he knows well. The Big Guy is is busy in the opener ‘God Looked Around’ that’s a tremolo tale that owes as much to the book of Lightnin’ Hopkins as it does the Book of Genesis. In my opinion Hubbard is Texas own Poet Laureate and the words that build “Tell the Devil…’ prove it’s so.

Lillie Mae – ‘Forever and Then Some’ – buy
Lillie Mae might have been Jack White’s go-to fiddle and mandolin player but on her debut she’s firmly placed herself as a formidable talent. The glorious roots-rock opener ‘Over the Hill and Through the Woods’ is like a lost cu from mid-70’s Neil Young and ‘Honky Tonks and Taverns’ is a stright-up two-stepper with Mae vocal pitching change remiecent of a yodel. LAike White, who produced ‘Forever and Then Some’ Lillie Mae carries an appreciation for past forms while not being slavishly dogmatic in her work.

Malcolm Holcombe – ‘Pretty Little Troubles’ – buy
Malcolm Holcombe 12th release of new music has him working with long-time co-conspirator in roots music Darrell Scott as producer and the results is nothing short of breathtaking. Holcombe’s backroad gravel vocals is the perfect vehicle for these sparse reflections on the world. On the album opener ‘Crippled Point O’ View’ b’s lyrics are indirect sketches of a troubled world and the imperfections of a human vehicle observing it
‘my tongue is quick to tangle speed, and douse the lights within, and burn my self respect to death, and warm my hands again. ‘Pretty Little Troubles’ is an organic gritty glory of listening pleasure of roots music and great songwriting from a master.

Twang Nation Americana and Roots Music Holiday List

– “At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight” – Various artists (Bear Family) $250.
Germany’s Bear Family label has reputation for giving loving (obsessive) detail in creating their box sets and “At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight” continues that osession. The Saturday night music radio show was broadcast by Shreveport, Louisiana’s KWKH-AM from 1948-1960 and rivaled only by the more straight-laced Grand Ole Opry for live radio entertainment.

Country and roots music greats abound – Hank Williams, George Jones, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Louvin Brothers and many more in their prime.

A 20-CD set gives us a view back to live radio before studio wizardry and music was still wonderfully raw and brazon and done without a net.

Presley’s first TV appearance on the television version of the Hayride in March 1955 features and electrifying performance of his breakthrough single “That’s All Right,” as well as 14 songs includes “Baby Let’s Play House,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Don’t Be Cruel” and are just a fraction of the more than 500 tunes stocking At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight. The box set also contains long-buried treasury of like a previously unknown recording of “I’m a Long Gone Daddy” by Hank Williams.

The accompanying 226-page book not only identifies all the performance dates and musicians, but also provides plenty of historical context.

Yeas this sweet collectable clocks in at over $200, but it breaks down to about $.40 a song for these treasured performances. That’s quite a deal.


‘Why Bob Dylan Matters’ by Richard Thomas – Richard Thomas $16.50
Harvard Professor of Classical Literature Richard F. Thomas explores Dylan’s music with a lense on his music influence on society as well as style. Dylan is dealt with in a serious tone usually reserved for classical literary and poetic luminaries. ‘Why Bob Dylan Matters’ set his work in it’s proper place and argues that it’s a work deserving of the ages.


‘Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives’ – Holly Gleason, in Woman Walk the Line ( University of Texas Press) $19.65
Music industry vet Holly Gleason presents twenty-seven extraordinary women scribes writing about twenty seven country music greats that just happen o be women. These personal and uplifting stories dig to the heart of what it means to connect to Music. Yes I still believe that #WomennInMusic is not a genre and that self-segregation is nearly as harmful as outside variety, but damn, this is a great read.


Johnny Cash, “Unearthed” (American) – $228.
THere was a real chance that Johnny Cash might have died in popular obscurity in 2003 had Rick Rubin not had the great instinct to spearhead the Country music legend’s breathtaking late-career albums. This 2003 collection of outtakes
serves a bounty with seven LPs featuring alternate takes and unreleased songs. Cash lends his historic baritone to distinctive renditions of gospel, rock,folk blues, and, of course golden-age country as well as covers by
Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle and others so good you might forget their were sung by anyone before The Man in Black.


Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman To Release ‘Dear John,’ Tribute to John Hartford

Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman 'Dear John,'

Texan Robert Ellis and Coloradan Courtney Hartman bonded backstage at a music festival in 2013 over their mutual love of John Hartford songs. After a few years of friendship and collaboration led to the creation of ‘Dear John,’ a collection of both well-known and obscure material that reveals witty and tender layers found in Hartford’s lyrics. The album also allows Ellis and Hartman to showcase their perfectly blended vocals and the playful ebb and flow of their shared guitar playing.

“I feel like Courtney Hartman and I must have known each other in a previous life. We share a deep love and obsession with a lot of the same music. There is a unique cross-section of songwriting craft, tradition and it’s context, and musicality that we both really get excited by,” says Ellis. “John Hartford is sort of the apex of this and it came as no surprise to me that he was a big influence on both of us and what we do. These songs, and playing them with Courtney really seemed to recharge my spirit in some way. Through playing these songs we are connected to each other and to John in a way that makes me feel like I’m at home.”

The album encompasses ten cuts that span John Hartford’s 30+ discography including his best-known song “Gentle on My Mind” – later recorded by Glen Campbell – for which Hartford earned two GRAMMY awards for Best Folk Performance and Best Country & Western Song. Versions of the song were also recorded by Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby, Lucinda Williams, and most recently Alison Krauss.

Throughout his career, Hartford earned two additional Grammy awards, for ‘Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording’ for his record ‘Mark Twang,’ as well as Album of the Year for his work on the watershed soundtrack to ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’

John Hartford’s son Jamie noted, “They have captured a subtle part of my dad that gets overlooked way too often. Now they have an obligation to the world to get this out. I wish them much success.”

From the 1980s onwards, Hartford had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. On June 4, 2001, he died of the disease at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 63.

In support of the new release, Ellis and Hartman will hit the road for a limited tour kicking off on December 9 in Austin, TX at the Cactus Cafe, and ending at Stage One in Fairfield, CT on December 21. In between, they will make stops in Baton Rouge and Denver before two nights at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City.

Hear their gloriously heartfelt rendition of “Gentle on My Mind” below, and see ‘Dear John’ track listing and tour dates below:

‘Dear John’ Track List:
– Old Time River Man
– Them Way Long Time Ago Times
– Gentle On My Mind
– Right in the Middle of Falling for You
– Here I Am In Love Again
– Howard Hughes Blues
– Morning Bugle
– Delta Queen Waltz
– Up on the Hill Where They Do the Boogie
– We Did Our Best

Robert Ellis & Courtney Hartman Tour Dates:
12/7 – Dallas, TX @ The Rustic
12/8 – San Antonio, TX @ The Rustic*
12/9 – Austin, TX @ Cactus Café
12/13 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Manship Theatre
12/15 – Denver, CO @ Swallow Hill Music
12/16 – Austin, TX @ Moody Theater^
12/18 – NYC @ Rockwood Music Hall (stage 3)
12/19 – NYC @ Rockwood Music Hall (stage 3)
12/21 – Fairfield, CT @ Stage One
12/26 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues^
*Robert Ellis full band w/ Courtney Hartman opening
^Robert Ellis full band opening for Robert Earl

News Roundup – Jim Lauderdale, Sunny Sweeney, Jamie Lin Wilson, Courtney Patton, Brennen Leigh, Loretta Lynn

Lynn’s original handwritten lyrics to “Coal Miner’s Daughter,”
Loretta Lynn’s original handwritten lyrics to “Coal Miner’s Daughter,”

– Sure it’s still Summer, but it’s not too soon to think about Christmas when you know that Sunny Sweeney, Jamie Lin Wilson, Courtney Patton and Brennen Leigh will be reuniting for their Hard Candy Christmas Tour for the 2017 season. Tickets for most of the shows are on sale now and the more will be on sale soon. Check out all the dates and tickets right here.

– Check out Mr. Americana Jim Lauderdale performing “You Came To Get Me” off his new album “London Southern” on the Conan O’Brien show.

– Rolling Stone premiered ”If I Could Make You My Own’,’ the new song off Dori Freeman’s sophomore album Teddy Thompson-produced “Letters Never Read’ which will be released October 20th.

– The Legendary Shack Shakers, the band Stephen King described as dynamite and guitar legend Jeff Beck called “a cross between the Yard Birds and the Sex Pistols,” release their new album, ‘After You’ve Gone,’ on Last Chance Records. AllMusic premieres the exclusive stream of ‘After You’ve Gone’ here.

– Loretta Lynn is being honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s newest exhibit, “Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl,” which opens to the public Friday and is scheduled to run through Aug. 5, 2018. The Hall of Fame hosted an invitation-only preview of the new exhibit on Tuesday (Aug. 22) that was accompanied by dinner and acoustic performances by Margo Price, Brandy Clark, (“Fist City” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” respectively) and featuring remarks by Kacey Musgraves, museum director Kyle Young and Lynn’s daughter Patsy Lynn. Unfortunately Loretta Lynn did not attend the exhibit Opening, but her family assures fans she’s making a strong recovery after Stroke

Americana Music Association Announces Second Round of 2017 Americanafest Showcases

AmericanaFest  Announces Second Round of of 2017 Americanafest Showcases
Photo: (L-R) Top Row: Yola Carter, Drive-By Truckers, Iron & Wine
Bottom Row: Lukas Nelson, The Secret Sisters, Amanda Shires

Following the already stellar first round line-up announcement the Americana Music Association turned the yearly roots music showcase greatness meter firmly to 11.

The second round list of almost 300 artists slated to perform at the 18th Annual Americanafest roots music festival & conference plumbs deeper into the depths of Americana’s excellence than any other shocase of it’s type. Aside from stalwarts like Buddy Miller you get the new tradiitionalist like Elizabeth Cook and Hayes Carll as well as exciting young guns like Jade Jackson and Sammy Brue. Then there are my personal favorites Boo Ray, Angaleena Presley, Doug Seegers, Quaker City Night Hawks, The Secret Sisters, The Texas Gentlemen and don’t miss live performance by Whiskey Shivers. It’s also cool to see legendary folkers Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam on the list for the first time.

Conspicuously missing from the full list isthe most popular representatives of the genre – Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell, though Amanda Shires is on the list and Jason’s been known to show up as a guest.

With the list of the 84 performers announced can be found below, bringing the current line-up to 187 artists, which can be viewed here.

Resister for the full six-day festival here, or get festival showcase wristbands here.

AMERICANAFEST℠ Conference Registrations (currently $299 for members/$399 for non-members) offer priority admission into all showcase venues, sanctioned parties and events, daytime educational panels, and can be purchased here. At this time, only Conference Registrants may purchase Honors & Awards show tickets. If you’re just interested in the nightly showcases, a festival wristband will be your most suitable option at the wallet-friendly price of $75. Available on their website, a festival wristband grants admission into all showcase venues as well as select sanctioned parties and special events.

Second Round of Artists Confirmed to Play AMERICANAFEST℠:
The Accidentals
Amanda Shires
Angaleena Presley
Becky Warren
Ben Smith & Jimmy Brewer
Birdtalker
Bonnie Whitmore and Her Band
Boo Ray
Boy Named Banjo
Buddy Miller
The Cactus Blossoms
Cary Morin
Charly Markwart
Cody Canada & The Departed
Colin Hay
Cory Branan
Cris Jacobs
Dalton Domino
Darling West
Darrin Bradbury
David Ramirez
The Dead South
Dean Owens
Doug Seegers
Drive-by Truckers
Dustbowl Revival
Elijah Ocean
Elizabeth Cook
Emily Barker
Flatland Cavalry
Great American Canyon Band
Hayes Carll
Humming House
Iron & Wine
J.P. Harris
Jade Jackson
Joan Osborne
John Hiatt & the Goners
Joshua Hedley
Kaitlin Butts
The Kernal
Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams
The Last Bandoleros
Lee Roy Parnell
Lilly Hiatt
Lori McKenna
LUCETTE
Lukas Nelson
Marc Broussard
Mark O’Connor featuring the O’Connor Band
Matthew Ryan
The Mavericks & Friends
Michigan Rattlers
Nicole Atkins
Noam Pikelny
Nora Jane Struthers
North Mississippi Allstars
Phoebe Hunt
Quaker City Night Hawks
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Rogue + Jaye
Romantica
Sammy Brue
The Secret Sisters
Shannon McNally
Steelism
The Steel Wheels
Suzanne Santo
SZLACHETKA
The Texas Gentlemen
The Tillers
Timmy The Teeth
Tom Brosseau
Tommy Womack
Travis Linville
Twisted Pine
Whiskey Shivers
Whitney Rose
The Wild Reeds
Willie Nile
The Wood Brothers
Wood & Wire
Woody Pines
Yola Carter

(EDIT) –FINAL ROUND ADDITION–

A.J. Croce
Amelia White and The Blue Souvenirs
Amy Black
Belle Plaine
Big Star’s Third Live
Billy Strings
Blackfoot Gypsies
Blair Crimmins and The Hookers
Bonnie Bishop
Brigitte DeMeyer
Caitlyn Smith
Cale Tyson
Carson McHone
Carter Sampson
Cat Clyde
Cereus Bright
Charlie Mars
Christian Lopez
Colin Hay
Colter Wall
Danni Nicholls
Danny Burns
Darling West
Dave Alvin
David Mayfield Parade
David Myles
Don Gallardo
Early James & the Latest
Eddie Berman
Escondido
Falls
Faustina Masigat
Front Country
Gill Landry
Grant-Lee Phillips
Harrow Fair
High Plains Jamboree
India Ramey
Jack Ingram
Jamie Kent
Jamtown
Jason Wilber
Jesse Dayton
Jimmy Lumpkin and the Revival
Joana Serrat
Joey Kneiser
Jon Langford
Joseph Huber
K Phillips
Kaia Kater
Kamara Thomas
Korby Lenker
Kristina Murray
Lee Ann Womack & Friends
Leyla McCalla
Liz Cooper & The Stampede
Lucie Silvas
Mark Erelli
Mary Bragg
Max Gomez
Me And My Brother
Motel Radio
Muddy Ruckus
Natalie Hemby
Old Sea Brigade
Otis Gibbs
Parsonsfield
Rachel Baiman
Rayna Gellert with Kieran Kane
Reckless Kelly
Reuben Bidez
Robby Hecht
Robyn Hitchcock
Ryan Tanner
Sam Outlaw
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers
Shane Nicholson
Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer
Shelly Fairchild
Skyway Man
Taasha Coates
Tattletale Saints
Ted Russell Kamp
The Americans
The Lowest Pair
The Mulligan Brothers
The Steel Woods
The Stray Birds
Tony Joe White
Trout Steak Revival
Vikesh Kapoor
Webb Wilder
Wild Ponies
Will Hoge
Will Kimbrough
Zach Schmidt
Zephaniah O’Hora

Americana Music Association Announces First Round of 2017 Americanafest Showcases

First Round of 2017 Americanafest Showcases

(L-R) Top: Brandy Clark, Hiss Golden Messenger, Turnpike Troubadours
(L-R) Bottom: Charley Crockett, Deer Tick, Bettye LaVette

Continuing the stellar tradition of being the preeminent roots music event of the year, the Nashville-based Americana Music Association has released its first round of artists slated to perform at this year’s 18th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference, presented by Nissan, September 12 – 17, 2017.

The first 103 of more than 230 artists are made up of pioneers, icons, and upstarts like Brandy Clark, Hiss Golden Messenger, Turnpike Troubadours, Lillie Mae, Alice Wallace, Mike and The Moonpies, Rodney Crowell, Paul Cauthen, John Paul White, The White Buffalo, Jason Eady, Bruce Robison, and much more.

With more acts still to be announced, the event promises to live up to its reputation as a must attend for roots music fans and industry alike.

Resister for the full conference here, or get festival showcase wristbands here.

AJ Hobbs
Allison Pierce
Aaron Lee Tasjan
Alice Wallace
All Our Exes Live in Texas
Ana Egge
Andrew Combs
Andy Golledge
Austin Plaine
Balkun Brothers
The Band of Heathens
The Barefoot Movement
Beaver Nelson
Becca Mancari
Bettye LaVette
Birds of Chicago
Blank Range
The Blind Boys of Alabama
Boomswagglers
Brandy Clark
Brent Cobb
Brent Cowles
Brian Wright
The Brother Brothers
Brothers Comatose
Bruce Robison
CALICO the band
Caamp
Caitlin Canty
Carl Anderson
Caroline Spence
Carsie Blanton
Casey James
Charley Crockett
Charlie Parr
Chastity Brown
Ciaran Lavery
Cordovas
Courtney Marie Andrews
Darlingside
David Childers
David Luning
David Starr
Deep Dark Woods
The Deer
Deer Tick
The Deslondes
Dirty River Boys
Don Bryant
Dori Freeman
Elise Davis
Eric Ambel
Erin Rae
Forlorn Strangers
Futurebirds
Haas Kowert Tice
Hiss Golden Messenger
The Honey Ants
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
The Howlin Brothers
Hugh Masterson
Jason Eady
Jaime Wyatt
Jesse Terry
Jim Lauderdale
John Paul White
Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge
Kacy & Clayton
Kasey Chambers
Leeroy Stagger
Leslie Stevens
Lillie Mae
The Lil Smokies
Lindi Ortega
Little Bandit
Low Cut Connie
Luke Bulla
The McCrary Sisters
Micky and the Motorcars
Mike and The Moonpies
Mipso
Molly Tuttle
My Bubba
Patrick Sweany
Paul Cauthen
Paul Thorn
Pony Bradshaw
Quiet Life
Renn
Rev Sekou
Rodney Crowell
SUSTO
Shane Smith & The Saints
Them Rubies
Turnpike Troubadours
Tyler Childers
Wade Bowen
Walter Salas-Humara
We Banjo 3
The White Buffalo
Wildwood Kin
William Wild
Willie Watson

Watch Out! Lillie Mae “Over The Hill And Through The Woods” and “To Go Wrong” on Conan 4/13/17

Lillie Mae “Over The Hill And Through The Woods" and “To Go Wrong” on Conan

Lillie Mae made her solo national television debut last night on the Conan O’Brien show. She and her band, featuring her brother on guitar and sister on backup vocals, tear through a spirited version of “Over The Hill And Through The Woods.”

Mae also took the time to record a separate a stripped down performance of “To Go Wrong.”

See both below.

Both tracks can be found on Lillie Mae’s solo debut, ‘Forever and Then Some.’ (out today)

Sturgill Simpson’s Unlikely Road to the Grammys

Sturgill Simpson - Club DaDa - Dallas, Tx - 11/15/14

My first impression of Sturgill Simpson was of a man that embodied a duality of seemingly contradictory attributes – carefree determination. It was September of 2011 and over a pitcher of beer Simpson and I discussed his custom made telecaster (by him), the wonders of Bill Monroe and his recent debut on the stage at the Pickathon festival in Oregon a few days before. We also talked about his mini-tour he was then undertaking, with his then band Sunday Valley and his dad helping out with the driving, making way toward their new home in Nashville.

“Nashville? Why would you go there?” I asked him, believing Simpson’s “Outlaw” throwback style that placed him among contemporaries like Whitey Morgan or a more genteel Hank Williams III, would not fit well within the Music Row ear confection machine.

I believed this in 2011 but no longer do. After many trips, meeting many brilliant musicians and seeing dozens of great shows in Nashville and experienced the music community thriving outside of Music Row. I’m assuming that Simpson was aware of that burgeoning scene and had a long plan to work within that community and follow his music wherever it led him.

This eventually led him to a gig at The Basement where artist manager Marc Dottore first heard him. That led to representation by media relations firm
Sacks & Co, and the RED Distribution team. All working on the little more than faith that the man they represented tied the past to the future with a biting snarl and unabashed twang.

By 2013 I had a feeling that a tipping point had occurred. His performances at the Americana Music Association conference, a Bluegrass Situation and Groove records BBQ (see a clip below) showcases are still vivid memories, were heavily attended by people that didn’t go to any of the other conference’s live showcases. Many showed up in Sturgill concert t-shirts they had snatched up at one of the multiple sold-out shows he had performed tirelessly throughout the year.

Several years before I had merely strolled up to Sturgill in a seedy bar to engage him. Now I was in a journalist que at the Nashville Marriott, waiting my turn to be shepherded upstairs to the empty dining area overlooking the bustling lobby of the hotel. Once there Sturgill was the same man I remembered. Relaxed smile, talking about classic country, the fickleness of the music business, the absurdity that country music needs a savior. The discussion was insightful and the hour went by fast and, unfortunately, the recording of the discussion is lost to the ages due to a technology glitch.

Then came the breakout second album ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ produced by Dave Cobb. The album had universally positive reviews and helped to put both men on the hot musical map.

Then came the Late Show with David Letterman, Conan (twice), Jimmy Fallon, the Grand Ole Opry and at Austin City Limits and Keith Urban wearing a Sturgill concert shirt on American Idol.

What ‘Metamodern Sounds…” began 2016’s ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ completed in spades. The album bowed in at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, and No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart, eventually hitting No. 1 Folk and
Rock Albums charts.

Now Sturgill is a two-time Grammy nominee up for Best Country Album for his least country album and for the big prize, Album of the Year award.

This isn’t Sturgill’s first Grammy nomination. ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ was up for Best Americana Album against John Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’, Nickel Creek and the winner Rosanne Cash.

Sturgill nomination for Album of the Year award isn’t the category’s first roots album. That distinction belongs to Ray Charles ‘Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music’ (where ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ cribbed its title) in 1963. If he wins Sturgill won’t be the first roots artist to win in that category. That would be Glen Campbell ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ in 1969.

But Sturgill’s nomination for Album of the Year is significant in that it shows a teenage Sturgill out there watching that dogged diligence and a guiding independent spirit can lead you to a place where you can not only play your music to pay your bills, but you could be placed in contention with Adele, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and Drake for national attention.

Win or lose this can open doors.

Simpson’s path is one of sheer will and self-determination that surprisingly touched a nerve in music fans starving for something real.

I’m pulling for him.