Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. The pairing seemed odd when i caught wind of it, but the results were a great combination of rustic roots with modernist sensibilities. Like the Nashville Sound if it had taken place 30 years earlier.
They made their collective TV debut last night, performing “When You Get to Asheville” with the Steep Canyon Rangers on the Late Show With David Letterman.
Appearing in back woods finery Martin deftly works the banjo and Edie recalls her “What I am…” breathlessness on this plaintive tune of a classic lovelorn longing. The perennial theme is afforded
modern touches like using email to communicate. They are deftly backed by the Martin’s usual partners Steep Canyon Rangers The cut is taken from their new release, Love Has Come for You, which Rounder released this week.
Elizabeth Cook stopped by the Late Show for her third visit to explain the Australian country music scene to David Letterman. Just what makes the Best Bush Ballad!
Cook also performed Tear This Building Down from her current EP Gospel Plow. She was joined by the Georgia Southern University “Southern Pride marching band. Cook is a 1996 graduate of Georgia Southern with dual degrees in Accounting and Computer Information Systems.
Alabama Shakes is definitely hitting a stride. Coming off lead singer Brittany Howard shining performance among other at luminaries at the Grammy’s Levon Helm tribute the band then made their Austin City Limits and Saturday Night Live debut. Both of which airing simultaneously last night.
Their ACL setlist included five songs: “Hold On”, “Always Alright”, “You Ain’t Alone”, “I Ain’t the Same”, and “On Your Way”. The episode of ACL also featured a four-song performance by Texas’ blues man Gary Clark, Jr.
Check Alabama Shakes’ two SNL performances and the full episode of ACL below.
Shoves and Rope made their national television debut last night on the Late Show with David Letterman. Dave and his staff have been a great supporter of roots and Americana music recently having Justin Townes Earle, Jason Isbell and Tom Russell and others. I say thank you!
The band looks like they are having a blast performing their song Birmingham from their latest O Be Joyful.
Is anyone working the circuit cooler than Ray Wylie Hubbard?
David Letterman continues his much-appreciated love affair with Americana and roots music by featuring Texas singer/songwriter/producer/guru Ray Wylie Hubbard as his music guest last night.
Hubbard performs “Mother Blues” from his latest Grifter’s Hymnal (buy it here)
Like many of his songs it’s a semi-autobiographical piece on guitars. girls and the “first of many bad decisions” loosely based around the Lemmon Avenue bar that, incidentally, was the first bar I ever when to. Hubbard appears to be a man that at the phase of his storied career shows no sign of running dry or slowing down, and appreciating every moment. Or as Hubbard does, after naming-checking and thanking the band and Dave, appreciates the moment with a “Been a damn fine day.” God bless Ray Wylie Hubbard. May he roll on for many , many years.
One of the most thrilling performances I’ve had the good fortune to attend was a New York City based CMT Crossroads, the first filmed outside of Nashville, featuring Rosanne Cash and Steve Earle.
The premise of the show is to pair country music artists with musicians from other music genres, often covering the other one’s songs and performing duets. Over it’s decade-long existence CMT Crossroads the pairings have ranged from the aforementioned Earle and Cash show, also Lucinda Williams with Elvis Costello and Travis Tritt with Ray Charles. Some are less inspired, like Sugarland with Bon Jovi and Sara Evans and Maroon 5.
I would put the upcoming collaboration of the Avett Brothers with country music legend Randy Travis in the inspired category. The Avetts are riding high in their new release , The Carpenter. The album threads with themes of mortality and personal trials. These are themes the recently troubled Travis can certainly identify with.
Check this excellent video Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses.” I hope the rest of the programs reached this level.
Tune in and find out – CMT Crossroads Nov. 23 at 11 p.m. ET/PT.
As I’ve said, I believe Nashville , ABC’S new evening soap opera , has the potential to be a great vehicle to introduce great Americana and roots artists to a much wider audience of music lovers. After watching the first two episodes I think T Bone Burnett has done a great job of dropping excellent artists like Shovels & Rope and Lindi Ortega into key scenes in the show. If the show can catch the attention of a large enough audience I predict great things.
I’d love to be a music consultant, so until some Hollywood big-wig rings me up here’s my shot at it. Here’s 5 under the radar artists whose music I’d personally like to see on Nashville. Some have a great country music spirit to echo the golden age, some are spiked with a current sound to drive their sound into the present day. Some have both.
Like any list this one is incolete. Please leave your choices and thought in the comments section. Appreciate you!
I defy you to find a current musician with more soul that Austin Lucas.
Whitey Morgan is pure outlaw, y’all.
Lera Lynne has a little Loretta and a little Bobbie Genrty
John Fullbright is one of the best and purist songwriters I’ve seen in some time.
Jason Eady is the current embodiment classic country and great songwriting.
David Letterman continues to champion great Country and Americana music by inviting Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss to appear on the Late Show. The duo perform a breathtaking rendition of the classic “Make the World Go Away,” from Johnson’s tribute to his friend, the just-released “Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran.”
Don Imus also showed his love for great Country music by featuring Johnson earlier in the week. He did “Love Makes A Fool Of Us All” and “I Fall To Pieces” from “Living for a Song…”
I’m intrigued by the ABC’s new dramatic series “Nashville,” not because a soap opera set in Music City is in any way compelling to be (it ain’t) but because said dramatic series has tapped one of the Godfathers of Americana, Grammy winner and Oscar nominee T-Bone Burnett , to be executive music producer for the show.
Isn’t this like the chicken being put in charge of the fox’s den?
Burnett’s stewardship is made even more perplexing when you consider the show also has ties to the Nashville big label system. Big Machine records (Taylor Swift, The Band Perry) will be releasing music featured on the program. First up is the single “If I Didn’t Know Better” co-written by the Civil Wars’ John Paul White (video below)
I imagined Burnett to be the ultimate Nashville outsider. Musician, producer and guiding hand of the neo-rusticity movement stemming from movies (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Cold Mountain, Walk the Line, Crazy Heart) rock crossovers (Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Jakob Dylan ) to full on champion of Americana ( Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, etc., etc. etc.)
Apparently Burnett has ties to the show that begins at home. He’s married to “Nashville” executive producer Callie Khouri ( who won an Oscar for penning the “Thelma & Louise” script. There is also the link from Taylor Swift to the Civil Wars (who she championed early on) to Burnett, who produced the recent Hunger Games soundtrack, which featured both Swift and the Wars. What the hell is gong on here?
Burnett says of music being chosen for the show: “I hope that we become the platform for the people who are writing from their whole hearts.”
Isn’t this exactly what’s wrong with current commercial pop radio? it’s not written from the heart, it’s written from the wallet.
So we have a story about Music City that is given musical dimension by the the more dynamic and emotional genre of Americana. Part of me thinks that the show should be stuffed to the gills with whatever stupid truck song is currently cluttering the airwaves and dare the audience the endure it. Aren’t there any compelling stories of talented musicians struggling to make great music without cutting each others throats to fill arenas that can better fit the greatness of this music?
In the end it’s about artists getting expose and building a fan base to make enough money to focus in their craft. No one has done more for exposing Americana to the broader public AND commercial interests that Burnett, (except perhaps NPR) so there’s no doubt he’s the man for the job. Hell he’s even got Lucinda Williams to contribute songs to the show
And , truth be told, I deeply enjoy the irony of a Music City soap opera being a powerful format for discovering great Americana and roots music. I look forward to hearing Jason Isbell during a love scene and Hellbound Glory during a road race or bar fight.