Book Review: “Who The F$%# is Linda Chorney?”

Who The F is Linda Chorney

Once there was a woman of musical talent, persistence and ingenuity who performed original songs and favorite covers to audiences worldwide. She was a road warrior for over 30 years before catching a career changing break. Belief in herself, and her craft, took her to heights she’d never imagined. It helped drive her that she possessed the confidence that she certainly deserved to succeed. She believed.

Fellow musicians and industry professionals, caught in a music business grasping for identity, relevance and diminishing revenue, applauded her drive. Though her music – a pop-folk, adult contemporary mix not unlike Sheryl Crow – might not be their shot of hooch, they all treated her with respect and heralded her as a harbinger of the DIY work ethic. One where an artist can circumvent gatekeepers and industrial trip-wires and engage the double edge levers of technology to snag a professional success. Even a Grammy nomination.

Well, not quite. Linda Chorney, a black horse in the run for the 2012 Grammy Award for Americana Album of the year , was nominated among rock/country/folk/Americana heavy hitters Emmylou Harris, Ry Cooder, Lucinda Williams and Levon Helm (winner.) She used the Grammy social network, Grammy 365, to get her 7th album, Emotional Jukebox, in front of Academy members who nominated her for the short list for a little statue.

Chorney’s success from planning, help from friends and loved ones, dumb luck and shear will was met by some in the Americana community with almost immediate online character assassination, professional chicanery and calls for withdrawal of her nomination. On what grounds were the calls of withdrawal based? Accusations of “cheating” and “gaming the system” abounded though no actual proof was presented.

“Who The F$%# is Linda Chorney” details the her road to the Grammys much in a manner like her blog posts. Unguarded, profane observational bursts of of highs and lows that ring of authenticity. She tells of making the best of a once-in-a-lifetime moment – dress fittings in New York, cover features in Variety, shooting a music video in L.A. with renowned/producer Forrest Murray, walking the red carpet and hob-nobbing with her hero Gregg Allman. All the while enduring vile online and personal attacks and undermining. She does it in a way that never becomes dour and for reason both litigious and polite she changes the “names of the guilty.”

The worst offenders were those most threatened by by her unconventional success. media relations specialists, radio professionals and labels all piled on. Instead of accolades toward someone producing the stuff we all profess to celebrate – music- and a moment of professional self-reflection and reassessment where value is produced in the new music order, there was a circling of wagons and shots ringing into the night. The old guard reacted as you might expect. Attack and attempt retrenchment in a landscape shifting beneath their feet.

Though there was no official condemnation from the Nashville-based trade group Americana Music Association, the choice to not issue it’s standard nominee congratulatory press release that year, for the first time in history of the Americana Album of the year 3 year history, spoke volumes.

Cards on that table – I was the official Americana blogger for the Grammys during this whole sad affair. I have a small part in the book and was surprised to discover in reading it that I was the first person to interview her after her nomination. I was also a witness to much of the online attacks and for a while got caught up in, complete with threats, the ugliness that transpired. Truth be told, i was ashamed of our community of outcasts. I still see it as a dark period.

In the aftermath of the spotlight Chorney has brought her story to the prestigious TED talk series (below) and she sang the Star Spangled Banner for her beloved Boston Red Socks and recently recording a song memory of 8 year old Boston bombing victim Martin Richard

Oh, and she wrote a book which she’s now shopping around to be made into a film.

Whether you see Chorney as a gatecrashing outsider or a industrious rebel, her story is one that any artist toiling on the road can take to heart as proof that if you believe in your craft, and cultivate a gift for gab and a sense of marketing, success can be yours. It’s also a cautionary tale for the music industry and self-appointed gatekeepers that access ain’t what it used to be.


Book Review: Willie Nelson – Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road [William Morrow]

As far as I can tell Willie Nelson doesn’t man his Twitter account himself. The country music, hell American music, legend’s new book “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die‘ is probably the closest thing in tweet form  (well, long-form)  you’ll find directly from him.
This slight book (175 pages) has the Texas Yoda looks over his exceptional life experience and employs his mellow humor to weigh in on the likes of Religion “If we are children of God then we must be gods too. Very small children must be God also. We were made in his image . Duh. Why don’t we act like it?” Gun control “A handgun, a shotgun and a deer rifle is all we really need.” How he honed not only his craft of singing and songwriting but the skill that has served him just as well -salesmanship.
Road musings are interspersed with lyrics and vignettes from family, friends and band mates - which in many instances are the same person.
I’m not sure if the book title or the duet with Snoop Dogg Lion , and given the probable conditions the title came about Willie may not remember either, but Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road ($15) is like sitting across the table from a a man with unique perspective as he doles out pearls of wisdom…and drunk jokes.

Record Store Day 2012 – Americana Music Picks

If you do live in a place with at least one independent record store, and love music, then you need to know about the upcoming Record Store Day. This internationally celebrated day is observed on the the third Saturday in April of each year. The event was originally conceived by Chris Brown, VP of  Portsmouth, NH’s Bull Moose music store, and founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner. Exclusive and limited vinyl and CD releases made just for the day by hundreds of artists in hundreds of US and international stores to draw attention the the disappearing mom and pop music stores being affected by a tough economic climate the dwindling customer base that are flocking to buy music online.

This is the fifth year for the event and will offer special releases from Ryan Adams,The Civil Wars, Townes Van Zandt, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Patterson Hood and many more. There many great one offs and creative packaging (where else are you going to find a Buck Owens Coloring Book with a flexi disc?!)

I put together a quick list below of Americana and country artists participating in the event. There’s a good chance that I overlooked something so check the official list of goodies and also check the official participating stores list to make sure yours is on the list. And remember to call ahead for items as not all store will be carrying all releases.

The Black Twig Pickers – Yellow Cat
Format: 7″ 45
Label: Thrill Jockey Records

Blitzen Trapper – Hey Joe b/w Skirts on Fire
Format: 7″ 45
Label: Sub Pop

Bonnie Prince Billy- Hummingbird
Format: 10″ LP
Label: Spiritual Pajamas

Buck Owens Coloring Book w/flexi disc w/ download card 
Format: Book
Label: Omnivore

Richard Buckner – “Willow” “Candy-O.”w/ download card.
Format: 7″

Caitlin Rose – ‘Love Is a Laserquest’ & ‘Piledriver Waltz’ (Arctic Monkeys covers)
Format:  7″
Label: Domino Records

Our friends at Domino Records commissioned Caitlin to cover two songs by the Arctic Monkeys as a very limited edition 7 inch release for Record Store Day this Saturday, April 21st.


Carolina Chocolate Drops/Run DMC
You Be Illin
Format: 7″ 45
Label: Warner Bros.

Freakwater – Feels Like The Third Time (reissue)
Format: LP
Label: Thrill Jockey Records

Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, Yim Yames – New Multitudes
Format: 10″ LP
Label: Rounder

Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
Format: 7″ 45
Label: Bloodshot

Lee Hazlewood – The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes, & Backsides (1968-71)
Format: LP
Label: Light In The Attic

Patterson Hood & the Downtown 13 (featuring Mike Mills) After It’s Gone
Format: 7″ 45
Label: ATO

Richard Thomspon – Haul Me Up
Format: 7″ 45
Label: Beeswing Records

Ricky Skaggs & Tony Rice
Format: LP
Label: Sugar Hill

Ryan Adams – Heartbreak A Stranger / Black Sheets Of Rain (Bob Mould cover)
Format: 7″ 45  colored vinyl
Label: PAXAM

Sara Watkins featuring Fiona Apple/The Everly Brothers – You’re The One I Love
Format: 7″ olive green and black splatter
Label: Warner Bros

The Civil Wars – Billie Jean (Live)” Micheal Jackson / Sour Times (Live)” Portishead
Format: 7″ 45
Label: Columbia Records U.K.

The Civil Wars – Live at Amoeba
Format: CD
Label: Sensibility Music LLC

Lydia Loveless – Bad Way To Go / Alison (Elvis Costello cover)
Format: 7″ 45
Label: Bloodshot

Ralph Stanley – Single Girl / Little Birdie
Format: LP
Label: Tompkins Square

Townes Van Zandt – At My Window
Format: LP
Label: Sugar Hill

Uncle Tupelo – The Seven Inch Singles
Format: 7″ Vinyl Box Set
Label: Sony
More Info:
3×7″ box set

The Hunger Games Soundtrack Champions Americana/Country Music

The Secret Sisters announced this morning via their Facebook page that their song “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder”  (below) would be included on the soundtrack to the upcoming film The Hunger Games. I had known about (and more surprisingly actually enjoy) the song “Safe & Sound” with The Civil Wars and Taylor Swift. Two songs hardly make a theme so I looked up the soundtracks track list on ans was pleased to have my suspicions verified.  Miranda Lambert with the Pistol Annies, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Neko Case shows a hearty helping of Americana/Country music represented (0r as describes it “…the album is bursting with twang!) I haven’t read the books but will definitely be getting the soundtrack when it’s released on March 20th.

1. “Safe & Sound” (feat. The Civil Wars) by Taylor Swift
2. “Eyes Wide Open” by Taylor Swift
3. “Abraham’s Daughter” by Arcade Fire
4. “The Ruler & The Killer” by Kid Cudi
5. “Run Daddy Run” (feat. Pistol Annies) by Miranda Lambert
6. “Kingdom Come” by The Civil Wars
7. “One Engine” by The Decemberists
8. “Take The Heartland” by Glen Hansard
9. “Lover Is Childlike” by The Low Anthem
10. “Dark Days” by Punch Brothers
11. “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” by The Secret Sisters
12. “Just a Game” by Birdy
13. “Oh Come & Sing” by Ella Mae Bowen
14. “Rules” by Jayme Dee
15. “Reaping Day” by Carolina Chocolate Drops
16. “Give Me Something” I’ll Remember by Neko Case
17. Video “Safe & Sound” (Bonus Video) by Taylor Swift

News Round Up: Ralph Stanley in the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal’s Dave Shiflett covers (it’s not really a review) the  new autobiography of bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley, Man Of Constant Sorrow.  Shiflett details Stanley’s birth in Dickenson County, Va., his early sometime dangerous career playing alongside his older brother, Carter, and how a man named Elvis upended the country and bluegrass music industry with a new sound and led to a stall in Stanley’s career and to “….eating a lot of Vienna sausages.”  Stanley’s autobiography, Man Of Constant Sorrow, is available now.

News Round Up: Terry Allen Discusses Influences

  • Legendary Texas singer/songwriter Terry Allen talks to the Austin Chronicle’s Robert Faries about his colorful life that led to his skill as a storyteller and his  new solo play, Dugout III, written and directed by Allen playing at Austin’s State Theater.
  • The New York Times‘ Charles McGrath interviewed bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley before a recent performance at Carnegie Hall with Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. My favorite line from the interview:  “It used to be said that when you heard a Ralph Stanley tune, you either wanted to get drunk or go to church and get saved.” Dr. Stanley’s autobiography, Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times, will be released tomorrow.
new solo play, Dugout III, written and directed by Allen playing at Austin’s Sate Theater.

News Round Up:WSM to Launch Live From The Loveless Cafe

  • Tune in tomorrow night to catch Emmylou Harris and Vince Gill perform together Wednesday’s Jay Leno Show. The pair on the West Coast participating in a series of All For the Hall benefit shows. Proceeds from the all-start line up, which also includes Melissa Etheridge, Dwight Yoakam, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Faith Hill and Taylor Swift, will allow Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to expand. (The Boot)
  • Dr. Ralph Stanley’s autobiography Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times will be released on October 15 (
  • The Americana brand continues to grow! Legendary radio station, WSM 650-AM, will launch a weekly Americana program called Music City Roots: Live From The Loveless Cafe. The on Oct. 14 debut show will feature  the legendary Emmylou Harris,  acclaimed duo Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy, and emerging artists Annie Crane and Robin Ainger. Artists slated to performing in the coming months include Sam Bush, Radney Foster, John Cowan, Dexter Romweber, Dale Ann Bradley, Peter Bradley Adams, Mike Farris, Scott Miller and Webb Wilder. Each Wednesday evening broadcast will feature three to four artists in 30-minute segments, followed by a free-form “Loveless Jam” where all the artists and their bands will be invited to collaborate on the fly. WSM will air the show Wednesday nights from 7 – 9 p.m. live from the Loveless Barn in Nashville, TN. Ticket are on sale for performances.

News Round Up: Johnny Cash Graphic Novel & Do You Look Like Tanya Tucker?

  • has 20 questions for Austin’s neo-trad honky-tonker Wayne “The Train” Hancock.

I for one am glade that Terri Clark is back in action on the country music landscape and releasing a new album, The Long Way Home, this Tuesday. If the new single Gypsy Boots is any indication it’s going to be a great one!


Todd Snider in the New York Times

  • The New York Times features a great feature on Todd Snider. Snider discusses his long career of writing smart roots-folk songs, speaks to some of his fans (like Kris Kristofferson) years of struggling with addiction, and his new Don Was produced release  “The Excitement Plan” on Yep Roc records.
  • Tom Russell’s new upcoming , Blood and Candle Smoke (Sept. 25), was recorded in Tucson’s Wave Lab with features members of Calexico. Head over to his MySpace page to hear Santa Ana Wind and Mississippi River Runnin’ Backwards.
  • Also in  Tom Russell news, the man will be among many contributors to a new Jimmie Rodgers book, Waiting For a Train: Jimmie Rodger’s America, planned to be released in July.
  • Dave Alvin Remembers his friend and Hacienda Brothers founder Chris Gaffney.
  • The fine folks over at review The Builders and The Butchers album  Salvation Is A Deep Dark Well.
  • Jay N. Miller at the The Patriot Ledger talks to Brooklyn based band Americana band Yarn.

Twang Nation Christmas List

Postings have been slow going here at Ranch Twang. The holidays have me running like a headless chicken and my trips to Washington DC on my solid-gold private plane to ask for a bail out. Since I’m the only employee of Ranch Twang I’m none too happy about my audacious behavior while my job hangs in the balance. That check better be in the mail or Christmas presents are going to be as rare as hen’s teeth. But of the comes in time here, dear Twangers, is my shopping list:

At Folsom Prison Legacy Edition – Johnny Cash’s 1968 watershed concert is given the Legacy treatment with the inclusion of both of the days performances, One show at 9:40 in the morning and another at 12:40 in the afternoon – the first show was exclusively used for the official record. The performance was like an old-style showcase and all the performers are present – Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, Radio DJ Hugh Cherry and the Carter family. Also included is a documentary DVD featuring interviews with Roseanne Cash, Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart, and several former inmates who attended the famed concert.

Merle Haggard: Legendary Performances – A Shout! Factory and the Country Music Hall Of Fame produced DVD of many of the Hag’s vintage live performances such as “Branded Man” (Country Music Holiday,1968), “Mama Tried” (Billy Walker’s Country Carnival, 1968) and “Okie From Muskogee” (The Porter Wagoner Show, 1970).

Country Music: The Masters by Marty Stuart – A breathtaking scrapbook by singer/songwriter/musician and country music historian Marty Stuart has created the closest thing  to pressing the wild and beautiful soul of country music between two covers – Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe and more are candidly featured in Stuart’s own photos that span his 40 year career. The book somes with a CD including the song “Dark Bird,” an unreleased cut dedicated to Johnny Cash and written by Stuart after Cash’s death. There’s also a nice introduction from Boxmaster’s front man and actor Billy Bob Thornton.

Classic Christmas by George Strait – Who better to deliver your yule tides then the man with the pipes that could wrench away Bing Crosby’s hold as the voice of Christmas? “We Three Kings,” a playful “Up on the Housetop,” classics like “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing,” “Deck the Halls,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Aa great album to listen to by the fire while putting a little whiskey in your egg nog.

And last, but certainly not least, premier roots and record labels Bloodshot Records (Justin Townes Earle, Ryan Adams, tge Old 97s) and Hyena Records (Dale Watson, Grayson Capps) and legendary magazine (now web site) No Depression are all having a blowout holiday sale. Go clean ’em out!

For all of you on the naughty list, look for the full Rascall Flatts catalogue in your stocking.