John Dawson Passes at 64.

  • Although it’s over a year old there is a great article (Facing the Music) on the seismic changes in the music industry through the lens of Music City and some of the unique ways some people are planning for the future instead of wringing their hands or suing their fans. The article was by Donnie Snow for
  • John “Marmaduke” Dawson, a longtime Grateful Dead collaborator who co-wrote “Friend of the Devil” and who, along with Jerry Garcia, developed a devoted following with his psychedelic country group New Riders of the Purple Sage, has died at the age of 64 from stomach cancer. (via the 9513 and
  • Paste Magazine spends some time with Americana Music Association executive director Jed Hilly. Jed discusses the growing influence of the genre, the Recording Academy adding an Americana Album of the Year Grammy for 2010 and that you need not be an American to play Americana. As a member of the AMA I’m glade to see some cred coming.

Twitter trend- #twangthursday

Add to the Twitter hashtag trends of  #followfriday and #musicmonday one that I can really get behind – #twangthursday.

#twangthursday follows these earlier trends of assigning each day of the week a adjective that makes it easy for other twitter users to find and add to a specific discussion. From what I can gather about the newly christened #twangthursday it’s about country, Americana and roots music.

I, like most people, didn’t initially see the value of Twitter. But like a newsreader that initially has nothing in it Twitter only as good as the streams of content you fill it with. If you are a fan of Mexican food cooking and you follow other fans, chefs and magazines that cater to that then what you have is a valuable and constantly updated resource. If all you follow is your friends, well, I hope you have very interesting friends.

So get out there people and let your #twangthursday fly!!

No Guns in Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge

  • The debut single from Jamey Johnson’s forthcoming album is entitled “My Way will be available as a free download at on August 3rd. On August 11, the digital e-single will be available for download at iTunes.
  • If you read this blog regularly then you know I’m a fan of 94-7 Badlands FM serving Americana and Red Dirt Music to the  Corpus Christi and coastal area of Texas (and streaming online!), but I have to say I am partial to Gina Gonzalez on Mid Days from 10am to 3pm. The girl plays some nice tunes!
  • Legendary Nashville Lower Broadway honky-tonk, and unofficial Ryman Auditorium green room, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge has laid down the law on packing heat in the bar. Tennessee has taken the genius move to allow firearms in bars so Tootsies had to take steps to keep the heeled from gaining entrance.  Frisking patrons and scanning with metal-detecting wands will now be part of entering the establishment. (

A Cooperative Looks for Musicians to Take American Music Worldwide

The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad is a partnership between Jazz at Lincoln Center and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.It’s a programs that “is designed to foster cultural exchange with audiences worldwide through performance and educational outreach.”

Aside from jazz, urban/hip hop the cooperative is looking for “American roots music (including blues, bluegrass, Cajun, gospel, zydeco, and country).”

Seems to be a shame that applicants need to be “ensembles comprised of four musician” since it’d be a lot easier for a single performer to sling a guitar over their shoulder and tour the world than coordinating four people to do so.

Musicians must be at least 21 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and hold a valid U.S. passport.

Selected ensembles tour to such regions as Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East for approximately one month. International activities include public concerts, master classes, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, jam sessions, media outreach, and collaborations with local musicians.

The U.S. Department of State funds international travel, hotels, and meals, and awards a modest tour honorarium to each musician.

Complete program information is available at the JALC Web site.

The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad is a partnership between Jazz at Lincoln Center and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program is designed to foster cultural exchange with audiences worldwide through performance and educational outreach.

Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss and Union Station to Play theWhite House

  • Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss and Union Station to play Obama White House for next week’s White House Art & Innovation Events: Music Series Celebrating Country Music & Smithsonian’s National Design Awards Event.
  • The Washington Post takes a look at Nashville’s Bluegrass scene and follows the high lonesome from the Ryman Auditorium’s annual Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman to one of my personal favorite The Station Inn.
  • Juli Thanki over at the reviews the new self-titled album by riot grrrl/roots group Those Darlins.
  • Decider Milwaukee sits down with Portland’s indy Americana band Blitzen Trapper.

The New York Times on Those Darlins

  • The New York Times posts a great review of the riot grrrl-trad country group Those Darlins show at the lower East-Side’s Mercury Lounge.
  • Willie Nelson’s Facebook page is posting hints where this year’s Farm Aid will be held. So far we have:  The city for this year’s concert has a professional sports team named after an animal,  the concert will be in a state that is in the top 12 for number of farms  and it will be in a city & state where Farm Aid where Farm Aid has never been held.
  • Speaking of the Texas Yoda – Head over to Texas Music Matter to listen to Amazing Grace: The Willie Nelson Story – a winner of two National Headliners Awards including this year’s Grand Prize for Radio. Nearly a year in the making, the program features rare music plus interviews with, among others, Kris Kristofferson, Norah Jones, John Mellencamp, Ray Price, biographer Joe Nick Patoski, Willie’s best friend and closest confidante (his sister, Bobbie), and the Yoda  himself.
  • Country music legend (and daughter of country music legend Mel Tillis) Pam Tillis talks to the Vancouver Sun about the state of country music.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Partial Lineup Announced

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the incredible (and FREE) San Francisco roots/Americana festival has announced a partial line up roster for the three day event.

So far the lineup includes Old Crow Medicine Show, Mavis Staples, Earl Scruggs, Hazel Dickens, Aimee Mann, Little Feat, The Wronglers, Okkervil River, Marianne Faithfull, Richie Havens, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Neko Case, Dr. Dog, Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Del McCoury Band, John Prine, Gillian Welch, Allen Toussaint, Billy Bragg, Doc Watson, Booker T. & the Drive By Truckers, The Chieftains, World Party, Old 97’s. Check the official site for more performer to be announced soon.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival takes place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on October 2,3,and 4 2009.

Elvis Costello – Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (Hear Music)

Hardly a day goes by that we hear about another performer leaving their chosen career trajectory and taking a swing at country music.Some of these travelers deeply feel the need to honor the history, the tradition, of the genre. They also bring something new and interesting to the sound. Then there are the carpetbaggers. The ones who’s career have a justly stalled and are looking to find a new audience in a genre they mistakenly see as an easy get. They carry with them the foul stench of mediocrity they cultivated from whence they came.

The latter category is too painful to detail here but a prime example of the former is Elvis Costello. A singer/songwriter so accustomed to straddling, hopping and distorting genres that people are surprised when he returns to his earlier literate pop-punk roots. Costello’s love of American Southern music is well documented. The established Angry Young (British) Man takes a sharp turn from edgy punk-pop to head to Nashville and cut 1981’s Almost Blue which featured songs by Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Gram Parsons. The post-divorce roots-folk of 1986’s T. Bone Burnett produced King of America. 2004’s The Delivery Man featuring duets with  Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams – who he also performed with in a CMT Crossroads. There is the Costello T. Bone Burnett penned Scarlet Tide was used in the film Cold Mountain, nominated for a 2004 Academy Award and performed by Costello it at the awards ceremony with Alison Krauss, who also sang the song on the official soundtrack. Point being his newest Americana release Secret, Profane & Sugarcane is not a hard diversion nor a lark for Mr. MacManus.

It doesn’t help that you’re sound is so distinctive that people start to harp on it like it’s a curse. Secret, Profane & Sugarcane like it’s spiritual cousins Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, Neil Young’s Harvest and the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street seems to lose points some detractors because the work reflects the unique characteristics the artists brings with them when they cross the Americana tracks. If you prefer your music by outsiders to be cleansed of all traces of the performers unique earlier style, well, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane is not for you.

The album took three days to create in a Nashville studio (March 31 to April 2, 2008)  thus beating out the usually fleet Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, which took 9 days (February 12, 1969 – February 21, 1969) is with producer T Bone Burnett- whos is becoming the go-to-guy when you want to do Americana – and focuses on Costello’s own work rearranged for a crack band featuring Stuart Duncan on banjo and fiddle, Jerry Douglas on Dobro, , Dennis Crouch on bass, Mike Compton on mandolin and Mr. Americana himself Jim Lauderdale lending honey harmony vocals to counter Costello’s (in)famous keen.

Things get off to a nice starts with Down Among The Wines And Spirits, originally written for Ms. Loretta Lynn, is a lolling down-and-out drinking song featuring the kind of wordplay Costello has become famous for (there’s that uniqueness again!) Complicated Shadows, first recorded for 1996’s All This Useless Beauty and originally written for Johnny Cash, gets the amped-up greasy blues treatment that would make Tony Joe White smile.

The beautifully sad I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came was penned by Costello and aforementioned Loretta Lynn is lovely but brings to mind the coldness suggested in the title. My All Time Doll is a hillbilly cabaret number featuring the excellent accordion work by Jeff Taylor and a demo from All This Useless Beauty Rhino reissue Hidden Shame gets a great rousing makeover.

How Deep Is the Red?, She Was No Good,”She Handed Me a Mirror, and Red Cotton
are  from Costello’s unfinished Hans Christian Andersen chamber opera The Secret Songs (did I mention that man was eclectic?) As prolific as Costello is, he is known to rework his own songs for different occasions, and although these songs do carry trace elements of their classical origins they sound right at home here.

Sulphur to Sugarcane was written by Costello & T Bone Burnett for (but not used)  in the Sean Penn 2006 film All The King’s Men. The song sounds like a bawdy ragtime-jazz response to Johnny Cash’s I’ve Been Everywhere as imagined by Leon Redbone. The Crooked line is rumored to have been an unused song for the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line and Costello is reported to have said that it’s “…the only song I’ve ever written about fidelity that is without any irony.” Here the song is a Cajun-flavored duet with Emmylou Harris with Emmylou way too far down in the mix, or just right, depending on your feeling about Ms. Emmylou’s disctinctive style. Changing Partners is a more-or-less faithful rendition of a the ubber-crooner Bing Crosby’ classic  number of lost love.

Is Secret, Profane & Sugarcane a great country or Americana album as you might expect from a seasoned vet? No. Is it a great Elvis Costello record? No, it hits just about in the mid-range of his canon. But with the likes of Jewel, Miley Cyrus and Kid Rock paraded as examples of roots and country music’s future Costello has given us a lovely, lively work to brace us out of that nightmare.

Official Site | Buy


Benefit Album for Evan Phillips to Be Released

  • has some good things to say about the new Scott H Biram’s Blooshot Records release Something’s Wrong / Lost Forever.
  • Kelly Dearmore at (no relation) praises the new The Dexateens release Singlewide.
  • A new Magnolia Electric co. album josephine will be released by secretly canadian on july 21st, 2009. Get a free mp3 of the title track over in the Magnolia Electric co.web site. In support the record they’ll head out july 10th on a month long tour crossing the U.S followed by a few weeks of full-band touring in Europe.
  • An benefit album to help Evan Phillips, – the principle songwriter for acclaimed Alaskan rock band The Whipsaws – pay medical costs associated with a debilitating chronic injury he sustained 7 years ago climbing is tentatively scheduled to release in Alaska and online on June 15. The album features acclaimed roots and artists like T, Nile, Matt Hopper, Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Devil Whales, Marty Jones and more all covering Phillips songs. Check the official MySpace site for more information and to listen to cuts from featured artists.

First Ever No Depression Festival Lineup Announcement

The news of No Depression’s death have been  greatly exaggerated. In the wake of their widely successful community website the purveyors of all things Americana/roots/ will hold the first ever (that’s hard to believe) all-day festival Featuring Patterson Hood & The Screwtopians, Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter, Justin Townes Earle, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Seattle Roots-Music All-Star Revue, and Zee Avi. The festivities take place Saturday, July 11 at Marymoor Park, Redmond, WA.

Tickets, $45.00 (not including applicable fees), are on sale Friday, May 15th at noon at all Ticketmaster outlets.