One of the more popluar posts here at Ranch Twang was a post on the Corpus Christi radio station KBSO 94.7 Badlands retuning to playing Texas and Americana music. Good new fans! The station has a new website where they are streaming their music and programs and keeping you up to date with local events.
While living in New York City I was lucky enough to see George Jones play Carnegie Hall in a venue the Possum last played 44 years prior on a bill that included Johnny Cash and Mother Maybelle Carter. On that crisp Halloween evening Jones headlined and the opener was a solo acoustic performance by the relative youngster Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson said of the opening spot “I can’t believe I get to open for George Jones.” That same wide-eyed, reverential innocence was also there as member of the country music “supergroup” The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kristofferson), he said of being included in the lineup that he felt like a kid won the lottery.
That same, now 72 year-old, wide-eyed kid was again struck by awe as Wednesday night as he shared that stage with a man only one year his elder – the Bakersfield Sound legend Merle Haggard. This opening performance of a three-night tour was held at ,the Wells Fargo Center in the sleepy bedroom community of Santa Rosa, CA. 50 or so miles due North on US 101. Loaded up into my favoriteZipcar Toyota truck I hit the rolling hills specked with grazing cows on a beautiful sunny day. First stop was Russian River brewery in Santa Rosa to partake of my favorite kick-you-in-the-head IPA -Pliney the Elder. The -night started off well.
The Wells Fargo Center is a nice subdued type of seated theatre where the tony locals come to relive their glory with classic rock bands or catch some culture from the local symphony. I was surprised by the age of the crowd which skewed into the 60’s , but the lack of body searches was a nice change from the big city shows I’ve become accustomed to.
Later as I was standing near the touring bus hoping to catch a glimpse of Merle or Kris and shooting the shot with a mother and daughter that each brought their guitars to be signed I saw what surely signaled this as a great event. I saw Cher. The Gypsy herself had come to catch the show and was sneaking in the stage door after a brief visit on the bus. My dream to utter the words “So, Cher and I were at this event, and…” can finally be fulfilled.
Clad in black with worn boots, Kristofferson had just finished Shipwrecked in the Eighties and was introducing Hag when the man his-self walked out on stage. No need for formality here son – and broke into the small-town living lament Big City, Hag’s voice was strong but still that of a 72 year old man that had recently undergone surgery to have part of his lung removed. There was still too much onryness and pride in the grizzled elder statesmen to allow any trace of frailty, though the adoring audience would have forgiven any if shown.
As a pioneer of the electric Bakersfield sound Hag has worked with a band his whole career and the publicized “acrostic set” between these musicians was not quite what it seemed to be. “I feel like an old stripper without a G-string,” said Merle Haggard before kicking off the intro to “Back to Earth.” Merle was not quite naked as he had brought along a stripped down version of his Strangers touring band which included his 16 year-old son Ben who played as proficiently as someone ten years his elder.
The pattern ran one song Kristofferson, two songs Haggard. Which sat just fine with the sold-out crowd and covered a lot of ground in the nearly two-hour long performance. Big City, Silver Wings, Me & Bobby McGee – each artist graciously relegating the floor to the other for a wealth of music. Collaborations were more democratic when other performers songs were performed – Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and Jimmie Roger’s T.B. Blues, which givenHaggard’s health was colored with even more poignancy.
Like two old friends that had seen over 100 years of country music history between them they traded witty good-natured jibs, winged a play-list of dozens of classics, screwed up, brushed it off and performed like the seasoned professionals they were. The Okie From Muskogee and the Liberal ex-U.S. Army captain and helicopter pilot . He became a helicopter pilot, like a country music détente for the sake of the song and in honor of the contributions each have made.
Sing Me Back Home, Mama Tried, The Bottle Let Me Down, Today I Started Loving You Again, Jody and the Kid, The Silver-Tongued Devil and I,SundayMornin’ Comin’ Down…it’s daunting as they keep coming at you like a crash course in country music history. Kristofferson has had the acoustic lone man show on the road for a couple of years now and performed like he was at ease and for all Hag’s pretense at being out of his element, he warmed up and eventually was just as home just doing what they both do best. Making great, timeless music. When they leave this Earth, we are likely not to see their kind again.
As is Haggard’s tradition there was no encore to the slight disappointment of the crowd. To gripe after such a banquet was served would be to risk gluttony. Like the rest of the evening Kristofferson was more than happy to follow his lead backstage.
Shipwrecked in the Eighties
Me & Bobby McGee
I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink
Folsom Prison Blues
Best of All Possible Worlds
If I Could Only Fly
Here Comes That Rainbow Again
I Wish I Could Be 30 Again
Help Me Make It Through The Night
If We Make It Through December
Okie From Muskogee
Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down
Back to Earth
Jody and the Kid
The Silver-Tongued Devil and I
Sing Me Back Home
The Pilgrim, Chapter 33
Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star
For the Good Times
Are the Good Times Really Over
Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down
Today I Started Loving You Again
Why Me Lord
- After more than a two-year absence KBSO 94.7 Badlands FM in the Corpus Christi area is switching from it’s current Tejano music format back to to a Texas, Red Dirt and Americana music format. Texas music fan and postal employee “Bobby” “My love of Texas music developed after I bought the High Chaparral dance hall in Robstown about five years ago,” said the 47-year-old, originally from Sinton. Larma states: “When Texas music went off the air, it was heartbreaking. They were actually building band recognition. We aim to do that again.”purchased the station from retiring long-time station owner Manuel Davila. “My love of Texas music developed after I bought the High Chaparral dance hall in Robstown about five years ago,” said the 47-year-old, originally from Sinton. “When Texas music went off the air, it was heartbreaking. They were actually building band recognition. We aim to do that again.” (Corpus Christi Caller-Times)
- Several events at this week’s SXSW will pay tribute to Texas great Doug Sahm, next week (March 24) co-producers Bill Bentley, Shawn Sahm and David Katznelson will release Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm. (via 9513.com)
- In her always excellent Torch & Twang series over at PopMatters.com Juli Thanki surveys the colorful, and largely forgotten, career of “America’s Most Colorful Hillbilly Band,” Maddox Brothers and Rose.
Here’s a YouTube treat I came across. Townes Van Zandt plays The Hole on the Solo Sessions Austin Music Network – January 17th, 1995.
- Shiner Bock and 95.
3 The Range presents the Texas Music Revolution 100, March 22, 2009 at the famous Southfork Ranch! This will be a great day of Texas-style twang featuring amazing artists, such as: Dirt Drifters, Darryl Lee Rush, Junior Brown, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Walt Wilkins, Micky and the Motorcars, 1100 Springs, Somebody’s Darling, Two Tons of Steel, Tejas Brothers, Max Stalling, and much much more! Tickets are $26. Aapre-party will be held on March 21 at the Dallas’ Granada Theater on Greenville Avenue.This show is FREE to everyone that buys a ticket to the Texas Music Revolution and will feature Stoney Larue & The Arsenals, Deryl Dodd, Austin Cunningham, Shootin’ Doubles, and Spur 503. Check out the newly updated www. khyi. com for more information.
- J.B. Beverley & The Wayward Drifters new release Watch America Roll By drops MAY 5th ’09 on Helltrain Records. The album was recorded at J.B.’s Rebel Roots Studio in Richmond, VA. and the PR says that it’s the “kind of real country music that honors American heritage and culture; the kind of country music rooted in the influence of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and other legends of the genre.” Judging by the cuts available at the bands MySpace page that’s an accurate description.
- What do you do when your career is skidding and needs a boost? Don a Stetson, drop your “G”s and cut some country tunes, Yall! Britney Spears 17-year-old baby sister Jamie Lynn Spears has reportedly relocated to Mississippi to raise her daughter Maddie and has “has been quietly working on a country album since last fall.” As much as I despise this genre carpetbagging, Jamie Lynn is a teenage mama a la Loreetie (though Loreeta Lynn had not one but FOUR kids by the time she was 17!)
- MyWestTexas.com’s Jimmy Patterson looks over the life of country music legend Waylon Jennings as a catalyst that changed the genre forever.
- Chris Morris, the programmer for the defunct 103.1 country, blues, roots program “Watusi Rodeo,” has found a new venue online with “Hillbilly Deluxe” on Scion Radio 17’s Web site. The three-hour show streams continuously, so drop in and take a listen. There will be a new show posted every month. Great luck with the show Chris!
- Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has announce the initial lineup for the eighth annual 2009 four-day camping and music festival held on June 11 – 14 on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, 60 miles south of Nashville. Some of the country and roots artist to perform are Wilco, Andrew Bird, Merle Haggard, The Del McCoury Band, Lucinda Williams, Neko Case, Jenny Lewis, Robert Earl Keen, Tift Merritt, Mike Farris , Todd Snider and The SteelDrivers.
Son Volt live at Bonnaroo 2006: Windfall
- Bill Chapin at MLive Music is posting his “entry in my Albums of the Aughts series, highlighting 50 great or near-great albums released since Jan. 1, 2000.” Albums of the Aughts No. 5 is the old time music juggernaut from Dec. 5, 2000 the T-Bone Burnett produced “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack featuring Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, bluegrass legends Norman Blake and Ralph Stanley and Grand Ole Opry members Emmylou Harris and The Whites.
- PopMatters‘ Bob Proehl posts a story on the history of the spiritual/secular divide in country music (Hank’s Other Side: Religion, Radio, and the Roots of Country Music) and how marketing and technology (radio) helped shape tactics like Hank Williams’ Luke the Drifter character to meet the artists desire to record spititual and gospel songs.
- The Bluegrass Blog covers Steve Martin’s hosting of Saturday Night Live (his 15th time , outlapping Alec Baldwin’s 13 times hosting SNL.) Martin plays “Late for School” from his upcoming bluegrass tinged banjo showcase album The Crow.
- The Boss and the East Street Band did a great job for the 43rd superbowl halftime show, and it got me to thinking “When was the last time a country act had that gig?” Checking the all-knowing Wikipedia, that would be 1994’s Superbowl 28 (or XXVIII for you purists) Rockin’ Country Sunday featuring Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt and The Judds. And yes I did exclude Shania Twain’s Superbowl 32 and Kid Rock’s Superbowl 33 .
I’ve just ran across the web site for “folksinger Michael Johnathon’s WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour” which bills itself as a “multi-media celebration of grassroots, Americana music” and “airs on 491 radio stations worldwide, XM Satellite Radio, online and on public television stations across the nation.” Cool! That said the site does offer some great audio archives featuring the likes of artists loke Chris Knight, The Grascals, The Del McCoury Band, James McMurtry, Justin Townes Earle, Kathy Mattea, Cadillac Sky, BR549 and Elizabeth Cook. Great stuff!
PRI’s The World featured a great segment with correspondent Julie Caine profiling Japanese teacher and country and western singer Toshio Hirano. Hirano heard Jimmie Rogers when he was a teenager and he talks about how it changed his life. Hirano currently lives, plays live, and evangelizes the gospel of Jimmie Rogers in San Francisco, CA.
The Daily News reports that Columbia University’s WKCR (89.9 FM) will kick off their annual Country Music Festival today and it will last over the weekend for 50 hours total. The festival features vintage country as well as live tunes from city bands. Maybe this is the first step for getting Gothem a full time country radio station. Of course commercial radio doesn’t come close to being this good!
Noon-3 p.m.: Great country songwriters, like Billy Joe Shaver
3-6 p.m.: Modern country storytellers, like Robert Earl Keen and Guy Clark
6-7:30 p.m.: Live music, with New York bands in the studio
7:30-10:30 p.m.: Gram Parsons
10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.: 40 Years in Folsom Prison. The anniversary of Johnny Cash’s famous live album
1:30 -4:30 a.m.: Uncle Tupelo and its family tree
4:30-7 a.m.: Murder ballads and disaster songs, 1913-1938. Based on recent box set of the same name
7-10 a.m: Zydeco
10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Norman Blake and Tony Rice
1-7 p.m.: Tribute to the late Porter Wagoner
7 p.m.-midnight: Tribute to the late Hank Thompson
Midnight-3 a.m.: Johnny Cash and June Carter. Their duets
3-8 a.m.: Country rock
8-10 a.m.: Country gospel
10 a.m.-noon: Black string bands
Noon-2 p.m.: Hank Williams