News Round-Up: Kathleen Edwards Video Premier | New Album January 17th

Singer/Songwriter Kathleen Edwards will release her new album, Voyageur,  January 17th 2012 on Zoë/Rounder Records. Produced by Edwards and Justin Vernon (who provides backing vocals and plays guitar, piano, organ, bass, banjo and xylophone), the ten-track album includes hilariously titled Change the Sheets, which was featured on Edwards’ recent 7” Wapusk (video below)

The album was recorded between August 2010 and May 2011 in Fall Creek, Wisconsin and Toronto, Canada. In addition to Vernon , the album includes guest appearances by Francis and the Lights, Norah Jones, Stornoway, John Roderick, Phil Cook (Megafaun), Sean Carey (Bon Iver), Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) and Brian Moen (Peter Wolf Crier). Also featured is Edwards’ touring band— Gord Tough (guitar), John Dinsmore (bass), Lyle Molzan (drums) and her longtime friend and collaborator, Jim Bryson (guitars, keys).” Of making the record, Edwards comments, “I knew laying the foundation for this record would start with the songs. For the first time I was open to the idea of co-writing, and what had previously been an intensely private process became a challenge to see what would happen with an open mind to a different approach.”

Voyageur is Edwards’ first full-length album since 2008’s acclaimed release, Asking For Flowers.

Americana Music Association Conference & Festival 2011 Wrap Up

On the night of the 10th annual Americana Music Association Awards, the director of the organization, Jed Hilly, recounted from the stage of the historic Ryman Auditorium a few of the key accomplishment te genre had enjoyed over the last few years. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences included a separate Americana Grammy category and Miriam-Webster added the word Americana to their dictionary: “a genre of American music having roots in early folk and country music.” I was fortunate to be chosen to cover the Grammys as the official Americana blogger this year and so was personally appreciative of that part formal industry recognition and I think the Miriam-Webster definition is imprecise but Hilly’s assessment is correct, movement now feels like progress.

The nearly 50 panels ranged from topics better suited for barroom debates  (Is  Blues Americana?) to tips and insights in booking shows, using Cloud-based, digital distribution,  steaming music services and tips on using social media to expand your fan base.

As great as the America Music Awards program and panels were the real action was around Nashville. A neat definition of Americana was made even more futile by the contemporary variations on display by the 100 bands showcased at five of the city’s best live music clubs throughout the dates of the conference.

Wednesday night started with Austinite power-couple Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison at the Station Inn. I had see their show several months ago at my home in San Francisco and they had honed the songs and patter over the miles. The married pair emanated a presence and rapport that can only be delivered from two people that have been in the thick and thin together. Jokes about marriage counseling followed by numbers laced with classic country was reminiscent of John and June or George and Tammy. Then across town to catch Blind Boys of Alabama and another Austin resident Hayes Carll at the Mercy Lounge. The BBoA are simply one of the most amazing live acts I’ve ever seen. Their version of Amazing Grace performed over the familiar lonesome strains of House of the Rising Sun will give you hope while making you weep. Hayes Carll delivered his learned honky-tonk with spirit and a Texas crooked smile to charged crowd that hung on every word, even when that song was as wordy as KMAG YOYO.

Thursday was all about the 10th annual awards Americana Music Association Honors and Awards held at the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium. Once again Jim Lauderdale performed MC duties and Buddy Miller led the house band once again and also triumphed by winning two awards, Artist of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year. Miller showed the utmost humility by stating after the second hand-made folk-art trophy was handed to him  “Well this is just embarrassing. I feel like I get away with murder,” he said. “I’m really, really not that good. … But I get to play with some wonderfully incredibly talented people.” Emmylou Harris quipped that they should just name the hand-made trophies “The Buddy.” I think she’s on to something.

Robert Plant and his Band of Joy took home the trophy for Album of the Year took acceptation to Miller’s assessment. Saying of his Raising Sand and Band of Joy collaborator “I stole a great deal with my old companions, and I was very fortunate, the last few years, to be welcomed by some spectacular people, especially in this town,” Plant said. “”I’m never going anywhere without Buddy Miller. “ Regarding the Band of Joy win, I would argue that a covers album should not be in the running for album of the year, but if one is Gurf Morlix’s album of Blaze Foley covers “Blaze Foley’s 113th Wet Dream” should have been that album.

Musical highlights included the Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow, the Avett Brothers’ The Once and Future Carpenter and soul singer Candi Staton’s tribute to Rick Hall, founder of Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, Ala. with Heart on a String.

Song of the Year winner Justin Townes Earle delivered on an up-tempo Harlem River Blues, the Secret Sisters represented country tradition with Hank Williams’ Why Don’t You Love Me and Scott and Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers provided background vocals during Jessica Lea Mayfield’s For Today.  Other performers included Lucinda Williams (Blessed), Amos Lee (Cup of Sorrow), Elizabeth Cook (El Camino), Buddy Miller (Gasoline and Matches), and Jim Lauderdale (Life by Numbers).

The show closed out with Greg Allman on Hammond B-3 organ leading Plant, Griffin, Miller, Lee, Cook,  and others on an extended version of the gospel standard, “Glory, Glory Hallelujah.”

Post awards activities too place primarily in the Basement under Grimey’s Record Store. I walked in on the winsome Amanda Shires mid-set, decked in a lovely dress and monogrammed boots her fluttering vibrato held the packed house in silence. Malcolm Holcombe followed with a two-piece accompaniment that in no way fenced in his frenetic guitar picking as he strolled the stage and growled songs of love and hope. On advice of a friend I stuck around for Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three. Their country-swing-blues sound was a perfect to close a late night.

Friday I was fortunate enough to catch the great Henry Wagons at the Second Fiddle Australian/Americana lunch showcase. Wagons is one of these guys that was born to perform, and it works to his favor that he’s cool to be around. Later that night I headed over to the Mercy Lounge to catch Robert Ellis playing the opening bill at the Mercy Lounge, “I thought I had gotten the shitty slot.” Ellis said grinning at the nearly packed room. He and his band then proved why they are the one to watch in the coming. years. It reminded me of when I first saw Ryan Bingham in New York City in 2007, great things to come. Amy LaVere followed playing her jazzy folk renditions  with winsome charm and playing, and seeming waltzing, with her stand-up bass. I then spent time catching Elizabeth Cook doing her always excellent set and heading downstairs to the Cannery Ballroom to see Jim Lauderdale & Buddy Miller show how it’s done. Did I mention this is the best Americana conference/festival in the world? Then across to catch the Bottle Rockets do an acoustic show at the Rutledge, where the band proved that even unplugged they are one of the best live acts in America.

Saturday I decided to hit the the Americanarama in the parking lot of Grimey’s Preloved Music Record Store to see a current favorite, Nikki Lane,  perform her blend of 60’s surf rock and country noir. Lane charmed the crowd and then wowed them. She also won extra style points from me for sporing a Waylon Jennings logo tattoo on her forearm. I was suprised by the band Hymn For Her that I judged by their name to be a wispy folk duo. They were anything but as they tore through their set of hillbilly garage-rock with Lucy Tight on cigar-box guitar & Wayne Waxing on guitar, kick drum and harmonica. They blew me away with their cover of Morphine’s Thursday.

Overall this year’s conference seems like the community has come into their own with old friends and new mingling to laugh , argue and celebrate the thing that brings us together. Great music.


Americana Conference Wrap Up

I’m baaaack. So if you’ve been keeping up with my tweets, or just reading the news,  you know the 10th Annual Americana Association Conference and Festival in Nashville last week was quite a shin-dig. I missed goodBBQ and that laid-back Southern charm and although the conference attendance seemed to be down a bit (well, a lot actually), if my Shiner fogged memory serves me, the showcases were better than ever.

There were a number of memorable nuggets that I wanted to quickly share. For one thing, there must be an aging painting in Jim Lauderdale’s attic becuase the man that is ubiquitous not only at the AMA event but in Americana music in general, still beams with youthful charm.

The performance that made my biggest impression was a serendipitous discovery. A friend’s showcase Friday afternoon at BB Kings brought Dallas’ Somebody’s Darlng to my radar. I should be ashamed of not knowing about them earlier since they hail from my home town and they rocked my ass with a their roots-rock soul sound.

Then there was the two great guitar pulls. The Douglas Corner Cafe featured The Americana Renegades Show with excellent performance by Irene Kelley, Roger Saloom, Joe Whyte and Stoll Vaughan. The club was like a Blue Bird Cafe II with a reverent and attentive audience. Then I lucked into getting out of the rain and a long line at the Station Inn to see Nanci Griffith, Mary Gauthier & Elizabeth Cook in their own audience hushing performance was a great treat.

Seeing Bearfoot do their short set at the Compass records’ notorious Hillbilly Central open house was also a nice surprise. I was not familiar with this newgrass band but they held the packed audience in spellbound attention with their performance and did musch less cocaine than the former Hillbilly Central residents.

There was the spellbinding rustic winsomeness of Amanda Shires. The leather-tough gold-hearted girl  – Angela Easterling (w. Will Kimbrough), and the omnipresence of Austin Texas with The Gourds, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Asleep at the Wheel, Reckless Kelly, Radney Foster and Charlie Robison.

Then there was standing near the stage to behold the wonder that is John Fogerty (along with Buddy Miller) at his semi-secret show at the Cannery. Wow…wow…

It was old-school alt-country at the closing night at the Basement with the ex-singer of Nashville super group BR549, Chuck Mead, and the only band that rivals the Drive By Truckers for a live performance, the Bottle Rockets, sending the whole thing off to a booming, bitter-sweet end.

Then there were the artists, radio, writers, fellow bloggers and general soldiers that, like myself, champion this music each and every day out of love more than riches (Ha!)

You can’t be everywhere all the time, and the four performance spaces for the AMA festival are a considerable distance from each other, so there are tough choices to be made and many show I wish I could have attended. But with a little logistics and a dash of serendipitous happenstance this trip to Nashville was a great party with wonderful memories (from what I can remember!)


Justin Townes Earle Readies ’09 Release reports that Bloodshot Records recording artists, and son to Steve Earle and namesake of Townes Van Zant, Justin Townes Earle, will be releasing a follow up to the excellent Bloodshot debut The Good Life. The new disc is called Midnight at the Movies, and is due out in March of ’09.

If you’re in Texas get yer ass out and see one of the best bar bands in America , The Supersuckers.

Nov 14 2008 – Jacks Patio Bar  –   San Antonio, Texas
Nov 17 2008  – Vortex  –   Beaumont, Texas
Nov 18 2008   – Continental Club  –   Houston, Texas
Nov 19 2008  -  Continental Club   -  Houston, Texas
Nov 20 2008   – Lakewood Bar and Grill  –   Dallas, Texas
Nov 21 2008   -  Scoot Inn  –   Austin, Texas

If you’re in my neck of the woods, San Francisco, CA. get yer ass out and see the one and only Texas Yoda, Willie Nelson at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium. Willie plays Friday, Jan 16,  Saturday, Jan 17, PM Sunday, Jan 18, Monday, Jan 19, and Tuesday, Jan 20. Must be all that good medical marijuana here in town.

Hank III “Damn Right, Rebel Proud” On Line Listening Station

Looks like Mike Curb is going to do right by Hank III and release his new album on the originally slated date. For those of you that just can’t wait for tomorrow’s release of Hank Williams IIIDamn Right, Rebel Proud” head over to the online listening station and hear the release in it’s entirety. Let me say that again, entirity.

Hank III – Damn Right, Rebel Proud EPK


Happy Birthday Dale Watson!!

First off -  Happy Birthday Dale Watson! Bubba you’re the Deal Deal!

The Villiage Voice has some choice (and funny) words about the new Lee Ann Womack release “Call Me Crazy.” “PowerPoint presentation in Music Row Pandering 10…” Ha!

Chris Parton over at the CMT blog has a brief, but still cool, observation of the Nashville Hank III show.

It seems that Willie Nelson has asked the King of Country Western Troubadours Unknown Hinson and Billy Bob Thorton’s band The Boxmasters to open some shows for him starting November 21 and ending around December 9. This should be a great show so get out therre and see it if you can. On a releated note Unknown Hinson and the Boxmasters will be  crashing on Regis and Kelly on oct 17. Damn, I wasn’t ware those boys could get up that early!

Dale Watson – Country My Ass


Ladies and Gentlemen…Ms. Rachel Brooke

You can keep your Carrie Underwoods, your Taylor Swifts, your Jewels and your Jessica Simpsons…I’ll take a beer and another song by Michigan’s Rachel Brooke.

Rachelle Brooke Covering Hank William’s Old Log Train


Cadillac Sky Announces “Gravity’s Our Enemy” Listening Parties

To celebrate the August 19th release of “Gravity’s Our Enemy” Cadillac Sky and Skaggs Family Records will be holding two, count ’em, two release parties.

The first takes place in  Nashville, Tennessee where those C-Sky’s boys will take the stage at the prestigious Grand Ole Opry. The show starts at 9pm. The second will take place Wednesday, August 20th in Fort Worth, Texas, hometown of the band, at Lola’s.  The party gets started at 7:30pm (admission is free with purchase of the cd), so get there early to get your place in line!

If you can’t make it to a show in person Cadillac Sky will bring the party to you. Just log on to on Tuesday at 9:00pm (Central) and witness the birth of “Gravity’s Our Enemy” live on the webcast as it happens.

Cadillac Sky – “Born Lonesome”


Chrissie Hynde Goes Country has a review of the DVD “Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass Music” which they discribe as “Informative and educational, intriguing and entertaining, part American history lesson, part biography and part concert film…”

The good folks over at The 9513 brought to my attention that current Twang Nation favorite Jamey Johnson will be joining Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Kenny Chesney (?!) for the 2008 Farm Aid music festival in New England on Sept. 20. Nashville Scene (High Lonesome Sound) and’t Tell Jamey Johnson That He’s “Too Country”) both offer features on Johnson.

The Music Blog has a brief run down of the current state of American scene (Are you ready for (more of) the country?)

Chrissie Hynde of the bad the Pretenders states that the bands first new album in six years (“Break up the Concrete”) will be “moving in a country direction.” Of all the country music carpet bagging that has been happening recently I have to say that a musician with Hynde’s credibility makes me think she’ll do it right, but she is a vegitarian, so does this mean that Jessica Simpson has to get another t-shirt?

No Depression Is Dead, Long Live No Depression

No Depression magazine, the bible of alt/roots/country/Americana music and lifestyle for thirteen years is making a comeback of sorts. will be relaunched in late September and will be edited by the magazine’s founding co-editor Peter Blackstock and will include regular blogs by many of the magazine’s most frequent contributors, including Blackstock and fellow founding co-editor Grant Alden.

The new site will also include record reviews and live reviews, features on emerging artists, news updates, the current web site’s popular upcoming-releases list, reader-participant discussion forums — and, perhaps most significantly, a vast and cross-referenced archive featuring almost all the content from No Depression magazine’s 75 issues published from 1995 to 2008.

In preparation for the September relaunch, the website is promoting the No Depression Founders Circle, a way for fans and supporters of the magazine to take a financial stake in the new web site’s continued existence. I think this is a good move that I wish had been taken back before the magazine folded. I for one would have paid for the coverage ND provided that I could not find gathered between a set of magazine covers.

In my opinion ND lost their way when the publishers started to think about their audience as a demographic instead of a congregation of sorts. They went from having John Prine and Johnny Cash on thre cover to featuring the then alt.rock flavor of the month The Shins. Like a politician, they attempted to move to the mainstream, toward popularity with the mainstream and their pocketbooks, at the riisk of alietnating thier hard-core and reverent followers. Someone should have told them that a vast majority of Americans distrust politicians and lawyers for just this very reason, they appear to stand for nothing but whatever will help them win at the moment. That is almost exactly the definition of shiftless. The congirigation lost faith after that and hard times became even harder.

As an added incentive for getting eyeballs, folks who sign up for the website’s mailing list at will be eligible to win an Epiphone DR-100 Vintage Sunburst acoustic guitar which has been provided by Epiphone. Great email bait! I singed up this morning!

Also a new No Depression “bookazine” (to be designated No Depression #76) also will be available in print-form on the shelves of bookstores nationwide in October. The publication, a joint venture between ND and the University of Texas Press, will be issued twice annually (every fall and spring). Blackstock and Alden will serve as co-editors, with Alden also reprising his magazine role as art director. A handful of book-release events at bookstores and record stores nationwide are also in the works. I appuad this effort and look forward to it, at the same time I wonder why something like this couldn’t have been applied to the magazine in it’s former incarnation.

All of this is no surprise for anyone that read the publishers online adios to the magazine: “Plans to expand the publication’s website ( with additional content will move forward, though it will in no way replace the print edition.” Why Grant and Peter weren’t doing this in conjunction with the print version of ND all along is a mystery to me, but I say better late than never. Get over there, sign up for their emails and send them cash. The world that I cover and we all love is a better place with them in it.