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

First Aid Kit Pay Tribute To David Berman With Lovely Original + Silver Jews Cover

First Aid Kit - Random Rules
In tribute to the memory of singer/songwriter David Berman Swedish roots duo First Aid Kit has released two songs; the original “Strange Beauty” and their rendition of Berman’s band Silver Jews’ “Random Rules.”

In speaking about David Berman and their homage to his life and legacy, Klara Söderberg says: “I think a lot of people were as shocked as I was upon hearing the news of David Berman’s passing. It didn’t seem real. It left me completely devastated. So I wrote the song ‘Strange Beauty’ to try to make sense of my feelings.” She continues, “‘Random Rules’ is a long time Berman favorite of ours and a song we always thought we would record if we ever made a cover album. It holds some of the greatest lyrics ever penned and shows the genius of David Berman. We hope the songs can be some kind of comfort.”

After struggling for years with addiction Berman died by suicide on August 7, 2019, in Brooklyn, New York.

Hear the solemn and sparse “Strange Beauty” and their rendition of “Random Rules” swell as Silver Jews’ below.

Tonight we sail on a radio song – Tom Petty Tributes

Tom Petty’s music appealed to anyone who loved thoughtful and superbly performed songs, but he held a special place in the hearts of Americana and roots artists. In the wake of his untimely death of cardiac arrest last Monday, there was an outpouring of tributes from his contemporaries and acolytes. Here are some I’ve collected and will add more as I come across them.

Know one? Let me know in the comments below.

Walk off the Earth – ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’ – Just happened across this brilliant cover by Canada’s Walk off the Earth. Sit back and enjoy.

One person that best exemplifies a contemporary version of roots rock Petty helped establish is Jason Isbell. Here’s Isbell and the 400 Unit tearing through “Refugee” on the first night of their 6-night sold-out run at The Ryman Auditorium. Auditorium – October 9th, 2017

Heres Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit performing “You Wreck Me” on the second night of their The Ryman Auditorium run. October 10th, 2017

Here is Jason Isbell and the 400 unit ripping through “American Girl” at Mempho Fest 2017 – October 7th, 2017

Margo Price gives ‘Last Dance with Mary Jane’ a badass spin – 10/7/17

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – ‘American Girl’ at The Fonda Theater – Hollywood, Ca. – Willie’s son does this rocker justice.

Gov’t Mule – ‘Breakdown’ – Houston, October 2nd, 2017 – Gov’t Mule brings on the moody groove featuring searing guitar work by Warren Haynes.

Old Crow Medicine Show – ‘American Girl’ Sydney, Australia, October 6th, 2017 – A badass breakdown by Old Crow Medicine Show.

The Mavericks – ‘You don’t know how it feels’ – Humphrey’s – SD, CA – October 5, 2017 – The Mavericks put their unique spin on this classic.

Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus – “Wildflowers” – Whatever Miley Cyrus does musically she proves time and again that she has a country heart. Cyrus finishes out her Tonight Show residency with a lovely tribute to Petty with accompaniment from her father Billy Ray Cyrus.

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives- ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’, April – Marty Stuart has long proclaimed in concert that he’s a Petty fan. This tribute was captured a few months before Petty’s death.

The Avett Brothers – “You Don’t Know How It Feels” Council Bluffs, IA October 5th, 2017 – The Avett Brothers h=get a lot of help from the audience in this heartfelt tribute.

Chris Stapleton – “Learning to Fly” – October 5th, 2017, Moline, Illinois – Chris Stapleton offers some memories of playing a show with Petty before performing a soulful solo acoustic version of “Learning to Fly.”

John Fogerty – “I Won’t Back Down” – October 4th, 2017, Encore Theatre at Wynn hotel, Las Vegas. Fogerty honors Tom Petty at his show at The Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas. This was also the first show after the tragic events at Mandalay Bay

Wilco – ‘The Waiting,’ Toyota Pavilion, Irving, Texas, October 3, 2017 – I dare you not to get chills from this tribute.

Hanson – “Wildflowers” (rehearsal) – October 3rd, 2017 at the Corona Theatre in Montreal, Canada. – Say want you want about Hanson, this is a beautiful harmonic tribute.

Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Dave Matthews, Patty Griffin – “Refugee” by Tom Petty – Moore Theatre, Seattle October, 3rd 2017 – This performance was the opening song on the opening night of the 2017 edition of Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees benefiting Jesuit Refugee Services USA.

Foo Fighters “Breakdown”- Played at a secret 2013 show in Moorpark, CA – Redballs Rock N Roll Pizza. Just badass.

Super Bowl XLII Halftime Show – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – An all American moment with the master himself.

Tom Petty – A memory and a dream

“People come, people go
Some grow young, some grow cold
I woke up in between
A memory and a dream’

Though I had been a fan for years, I didn’t see Tom Petty in concert until the tour for 2010’s “Mojo.” Made eight years after his and the Heartbreakers prior release, “The Last Dj.” (‘Highway Companion’ was a Petty solo project) “Mojo” was an album many were sure wouldn’t get made. “Petty’s irreverent now, why would he put out new music.”

‘Mojo” was just the psychedelic-crunch sonic shot over the bow of those who had relinquished Petty and & the Heartbreakers in the dump of classic rock nostalgia. The reports of rock’s demise were premature. There was more in the engine and it was ready to roar.

The supporting tour was a stirring mix of live rock ferocity and deeply melodic grooves that reminded older fans why they fell in love in the first place and coaxed new fans gladly into the fold.

From the start with 1976’s eponymous debut you knew Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were a breath of fresh air. Populist heartland rock more melodic than the Boss, served with a punk-rock directness spoke to the intersection of the 70s into the 80s.

A soundtrack tailor-made for muscle car stereos all over America’s asphalt wonderland.

Petty went on to dominate FM radio as well as the newly introduced visual medium MTV. The back-alley pan shot in the video for ‘Refuge” showed a confident young ready for his destiny as a rock star.

Petty’s songs and arrangements sounded fresh, daring and yet familiar. Petty reflected his heroes – the Byrds, the Zombies, The Everly Brothers – skillfully embedded within the essence of songs so taut you couldn’t distinguish a single wasted note.

With Petty’s too early demise some will want to drop the curtain once and for all on rock and roll. That’s ridiculous and says more about their personal preferences than a proper read of the territory.

Few musicians embodied their time as singley as Tom Petty and still seemed to be of all rock history. A rarity that has influenced generations of young musicians that might, in time, carry that flame of heartland stories that make you throw a fist in the air as well as hum along.

One of my favorite deep cuts is ‘Luna,” the final song written in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Church Studio, before heading back to Hollywood to finish mixing their debut.

An early anomaly for a band that went on to be famous for guitar anthems. An improvised ballad made up on the spot with Stan Lynch on ARP synthesiser and guitar Mike Campbell using an Ebow with Benmont Tench on grand piano – an lovely but eerie piece from a band finding it’s legs.


White light cut a scar in the sky
Thin line of silver
The night was all clouded with dreams
Wind made me shiver
Black and yellow pools of light
Outside my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

The clouds are all silver and black
Floating around me
Luna come into my eyes
Luna surround me
With black and yellow pools of light
Fall by my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

The clouds are all silver and black
Floating around me
Luna come into my eyes
Luna surround me
With black and yellow pools of light
Fall by my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

Dr Ralph Stanley Funeral – Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and Ricky Skaggs [VIDEO]

Dr Ralph Stanley funeral - Vince Gill, Patty Lovelace, and Ricky Skaggs

YouTube member tdcat26 uploaded this video from Ralph Stanley funeral. It gives us an intimate glance of what it was like to be in attendance with all those paying tribute.

Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and Ricky Skaggs were on hand to do the same.

After a beautiful eulogy Vince Gill performs ‘Go Rest High On That Mountain,’ a song Gill began writing in the tragic aftermath of Keith Whitley’s death in 1989, but did not finish the song until a few years later following the death of his older brother Bob, in 1993, of a heart attack.

As in the original recording Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs lend their backing vocals in moving tribute.

In memory Gill said ‘The first time I heard Ralph’s voice it was life-changing. ,,, It was the most mournful, it was the most soulful, and it reached deep inside me more than any other voice I had heard in Bluegrass.”

Patty Loveless remembering her performance of ‘Pretty Polly’ live with Stanley “It means so much to me,,,I had a career but this raised even further.”

Americana Honors Prince

Dixie Chicks - 'Nothing Compares 2 U'

“A strong spirit transcends rules.” Prince

Prince not only appeared to transcended mortality he transcended genre. So it’s not surprising that songwriters and musicians across styles took his sudden death as a call to perform reverent Prince covers to fill the void.

Roots music is no different. Though his music superficially differed from Americana and country music they saw in Prince a prolific songwriters and accomplished musician who’s entire being was defined by his art. Prince created music just as readily as the music created him. They were indistinguishable from each other.

Below I’ve collected a few live tributes in the aftermath as well as Cory Branan and Lydia Loveless superb Record Store Day 2015 purple vinyl split 7″. All are wonderful and you can feel the bittersweet joy in remembrance.

Also a video of Prince doing a Stones classic, because it’s awesome.

Bruce Springsteen – ‘Purple Rain’ – Multicam mix – Brooklyn – New York – http://youtu.be/ifNyqjHHCGw

Chris Stapleton – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA – http://youtu.be/dV_Wp4vVlB8

The Dixie Chicks – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – Horsens Denmark – http://youtu.be/sHBFMjH9NFA

Avett Brothers “Pretty Girl From Annapolis w/ When Doves Cry Interlude” Chicago Theatre – http://youtu.be/DjgHfAtwMsg

Mumford & Sons – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – St. Paul, MN – http://youtu.be/ay0edC0lOh4

Old Crow Medicine Show w/ Margo Price – Purple Rain – Huntsville, AL – http://youtu.be/B1JCj5EWvP4

Cory Branan – “Under the Cherry Moon” – http://youtu.be/zVtSiXiQRE4

Lydia Loveless – “I Would Die 4 U” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvYjXEiXujo

Prince – “Honky Tonk Woman” – http://youtu.be/MpHtwa8YGBU

Remembering Merle Haggard 1937 – 2016

Merle Haggard 1937 - 2016

I’ve heard countless discussions around what constitutes “real country music.” These arguments contain few details of what makes up this elusive cultural archetype and people often reach for specific performers to create context.

Merle Haggard was one of those archetypes, greater than himself. He transcended from a mere country music performer to become a touchstone of what is great about the genre.

A product of a troubled childhood partially due to loss his father, James Haggard, at the age of 9. By the age of 11 he was riding the rails near his home, an abandoned refrigerated train car built by his dad. Then came a string of encounters that led to jail time, most notably when his mother turned him over to juvenile authorities for a weekend lock-up in an attempt to change his “incorrigible” attitude.

As he famously sang “Mama tried.”

A bungled burglary to rob a restaurant while they were still serving customers resulted in a two and a half year stretch at San Quentin State Prison. There he dabbled in music until Johnny Cash held one of his many prison shows for the inmates. He found his saving grace delivered by a Man In Black.

The first time I saw Haggard he was in 2009. He was co-headlining with Kris Kristofferson in Santa Rosa California. Cher wsaa in the audience that night. I’m not sure why she was there (maybe an acquaintance of Kristofferson in his hunky ‘A Star Is Born’ days) but I knew that had to mean something special.

The Hag was a lot more laid back than the ornery cuss that wrote ‘Okie From Muskogee’ and ‘ The Fightin’ Side of Me.’ No doubt due in large part to the lemon-sized tumor removed in the previous year. Perhaps is was the marijuana he used regularly after that surgery. When I last saw him in Ft. Worth’s Bass Hall in 2014 he asked the crows “How many are against pot?” To the smattering applauding in the affirmative he smiled and shot back ‘Why?”

Like his fellow Bakersfield sound” brethren Buck Owens Merle Haggard was a crafter of populist storytelling. He transcended country music to create great American standards by holding up songs like a mirror where we all saw ourselves. The good, bad and – like most of us – those in between.

The warden led a prisoner down the hallway to his doom
And I stood up to say good-bye like all the rest
And I heard him tell the warden just before he reached my cell
“Let my guitar-playing friend do my request”

That he died 79 years to the day of his birth will certainly just add to his mythology. Why not? Numerology and statistics aside it just seems like something supernatural.

But he was all too human. Fragile humanity ran through his songs and demeanor. He had passion for the genre he helped create and humility always in the way he approached it. He defined everything great about and, in turn, defined the best in us bound together by it.

Cowboy Jack Clement’s Posthumous Release ‘For Once and For All” Out July 15, 2014

Cowboy Jack Clement

Looks like the late legendary singer/songwriter/producer Cowboy Jack Clement isn’t quite done yet.

Clement’s last musical work, and only his 4th studio release, “For Once and For All” produced by Dave “Fergie” Ferguson and Matt Sweeney with T Bone Burnett as executive producer — will be the debut release on John Grady’s new I.R.S. Records Nashville label. Street date is July 15.

From the release:

“What an honor it is to be involved with Cowboy’s final record. This is the perfect way to start I.R.S. Nashville,” Grady says. “All the producers and musicians set the tone for this record. Sometimes we should all get together and do the right thing. I hope Jack is proud of us.”

He was 82-years-old when he died on August 8, 2013 and 82 when he finished this song-set with help from friends including John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, T Bone Burnett, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Dan Auerbach, Leon Russell, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Dickie Lee, Shawn Camp, Dierks Bentley, Jim Rooney, Jim Lauderdale, Will Oldham, daughter Allison Clement and a bunch of others who loved Cowboy and who Cowboy loved in return. His favorite accordionist, Joey Miskulin, played on “The Air Conditioner Song” and “Baby Is Gone.”

The whole thing is graceful and true, a primer for the unfamiliar, an anointed completion for the acolytes and a joy-filled lesson for those of us who study phrasing, musicality and soul.

Cowboy Jack was American music’s whimsical maverick. He was a singer and producer, a publisher, a best friend to Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. He was a writer of classic songs. He desegregated country music by bringing Charley Pride to popular attention and producing Pride’s first 13 albums for RCA. He was the first to record Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison, there at the popular birth of rock ‘n’ roll at Sun Records in Memphis.

He made the greatest album of country music’s “Outlaw Movement” when he produced Waylon Jennings’Dreaming My Dreams. He created the Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa, Nashville’s first great home studio and the nerve center for what would come to be known as Americana Music.

“If you unraveled all the threads Jack wove into the tapestry of what made country music great over the last 50 plus years, the whole thing would come apart,” Harris said.

No one unraveled those threads, though, and no one will. Can’t be done. The Cowboy’s tapestry weave is secure and indelible, and his import is ratified by a plaque in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Cowboy Jack Clement sustained an unprecedented and unduplicated career outside of the public eye. He and fame saw each other across a crowded street, waved and went their separate ways.

Though he was in and around recording studios all of his adult life, he didn’t release a solo album, All I Want To Do In Life, until 1978, when he was in his late 40s. The follow-up came a quarter century later with 2004’sGuess Things Happen That Way. And he rarely toured. So while Clement impacted myriad major careers, he did little to promote his own.
“I don’t remember it being any huge letdown,” he said, recalling the less-than-platinum sales of All I Want To Do In Life. “It took a few months before you realized you ain’t gonna outdo Elvis or something, and by that time I was off into something else.”

Hear “Let the Chips Fall” the tearjerking first single from the album below.

2013 The Year in Americana and Roots Music

Jason Isbell

2013 will go in the books as the year that Americana and roots settled comfortably into the mainstream. Kids are wearing dust-bowl duds and there is a brisk trade in acoustic guitars and banjos. Bands are taking a page from the Mumford, Avetts and Lumineers book of hand-crafted songs with rousing melodies just begging to be sung at live shows. It’s no longer a rustic throwback fad.

The genre grows more diverse, from folk-pop, Laurel Canyon rock, psych folk, hard-sore honky-tonk and everything that doesn’t neatly fit in other buckets. As genre defying as the music can be it all comes down to the only tis that matters, Great songwriting, evocative, absorbing narratives and memorable melodies that endures the ages.

But first you must find an audience.

ABC music row drama Nashville has done a fine job in highlighting great roots music, under the guidance T Bone Burnett , and now Buddy Miller, as well as classic country references and Americana and roots performer cameos. The show’s cutest stars (and real-life sisters,) Lennon and Maisy Stella, performed the Lumineers omnipresent top-40 hit hit “Hey Ho.” This gave the song an already bigger audience then it originally had. Is that possible?

This July Americana stalwarts Old Crow Medicine Show backed ex-Hootie & the Blowfish front man, and current country music star, Darius Rucker on Old Crow’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel” at the Grand Ole Opry. The song was recorded with the band and included on his latest album resulting in one of his most popular singles as a solo artist and reaching number one on Billboard Hot Country Songs in its 12th week.

Old Crow Medicine Show then had the honor to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry this fall by Opry members Dierks Bentley and Marty Stuart.

That’s not the only example of music row looking to Americana for material and a shot of inspiration. GRAMMY-winning singer Leann Rimes reached into the Americana well, and beyond her music row comfort zone, on her latest “ Spitfire.” She lends her extraordinary pipes to a searing version of Buddy Miler’s “Gasoline and Matches” in a duet with Rob Thomas. Country music chanteuse and Pistol Annie Ashley Monroe tapped legendary Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark to collaborate on the title song on her latest “Like a Rose.”

If your looking for evidence of Americana’s mainstream presence you need go no further than SPIN’s list of 20 Best Country Albums of 2013 had Blake Shelton and Brad Paisley mixed with The Civil Wars (12), Jason Isbell (11) and Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell (9) Holly Williams (8) Sturgill Simpson (6) Cailtlin Rose (2).

Entertainment Weekly, the beacon of popular taste, counted a majority of Americana artists on their list of top country releases of 2013 with Jason Isbell and Lindi Ortega taking the number 1 and 2 spot respectively.

As in recent years I even had a hard time limiting myself to a top 10,15, 20+ on my Cream of the Crop – Twang Nation Top Americana and Roots Music Picks of 2013.

T Bone Burnett again joins forces with the Coen Brothers to contribute soundtrack stewardship to thier new 60’s neo-folk focused film. The soundtrack features old folk songs performed by Marcus Mumford , The Punch Brothers along with the film’s actors Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan , Adam Driver and Justin Timberlake, who might use his his work here to jump dart his desired foray into country music.

As the music advances it’s important that a music that celebrate the past honors those that came before. George Jones, the greatest voice in country music and the innovator, Ray Price were both lost to use this year.

We also lost “Cowboy” Jack Clement, As a record and movie producer, songwriter, performing and recording performer and studio engineer, Clement was responsible for for shaping American music in the 20th century.

Premier rock and country journalist Flippo, who documented much of the major changes in country music including the Outlaw movement and one of the original Outlaws Tompall Glaser, both left us in 2013.

Though gone they will boot be forgotten for their contribution to the rich and progressive music we love.

Here’s to the music we love and the performers that endure much to offer their craft to make this world just a little bit better, kinder and more interesting. Here’s to a community that still buys albums, t-shirts and packs local shows and helps these talented folks make music a career.

Here’s to the New Year.

Country Music Pioneer Ray Price Dead at 87

RIP Ray Price

After some initial confusion the day before regarding the health of country music legend Ray Price, his death was confirmed today by veteran country disc jockey Bill Mack, a spokesman for Mr. Price’s family. Price passed away Monday at his home in Mount Pleasant, Texas, from complications stemming from the pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with in 2011. He was 87.

Price honed his craft at the heels of his friend and once roommate Hank Williams, who’s band he inherited, and rechristened the Cherokee Cowboys, in the wake of William’s death.

Price was an early practitioner of the 4/4 beat, later called the “Ray Price beat,” that then went on to become a standard of the genre.

with songs like “Crazy Arms” and Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times” Price was also a pioneer in bringing country music to a wider audience. With 109 songs charting between 1952-89, His history on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart spans more than 37 years with 46 top 10 entries, eight of those reaching No. 1.

Price last charting album was the collaboration with Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson “Last of the Breed.”

“I have fought prejudice since I got in country music and I will continue to fight it,” he told The Associated Press in 1981. “A lot of people want to keep country music in the minority of people. But it belongs to the world. It’s art.”

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Grammy Hall of Fame member was a staunch advocate for the dignity of classic country music. Last year price responded on Facebook to Blake Shelton’s classic-country “Old Farts” & “Jackasses” slam.
The ruckus played out on the Internet and introduced Price to a new generation of country fans.

“You should be so lucky as us old-timers,” Price said in a happily cantankerous post in all capital letters. “Check back in 63 years (the year 2075) and let us know how your name and your music will be remembered.”

Price follows George Jones as country music legends that have passed this year.