The New Basement Tapes collaborators – Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) – will make their first live performances via three national television appearances in November. They will perform on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on November 10, Ellen on November 14 and Jimmy Kimmel Live on November 19.
As I previously posted ‘Lost On the River: The New Basement Tapes’ is a T Bone Burnett-produced venture built sround ” recently discovered lyrics handwritten by Bob Dylan in 1967 during the period that generated the recording of his original Basement Tapes. ”
Dylan entrusted the lyrics to Burnett, who gathered the artists in March 2014 at Capitol Studios in Hollywood to write and create music together for the long-lost lyrics, swapping instrumental and vocal roles throughout the marathon sessions. The result was dozens of new songs and recordings, 20 of which are included and will be released by Electromagnetic Recordings/Harvest Records on November 10.
This comes on the heels of original Bob Dylan and The Band original Basement Tapes recordings getting the expanded edition treatment and being released a week earlier.
An original documentary ‘Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued’ will premiere on SHOWTIME, Friday, November 21st at 9 P.M. ET/PT. Directed by Sam Jones, the documentary will present an exclusive and intimate look at the making of Lost On The River.
Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes (Deluxe Edition) – Out November 10
1. Down On The Bottom
2. Married To My Hack
3. Kansas City
4. Spanish Mary
5. Liberty Street
6. Nothing To It
7. Golden Tom – Silver Judas*
8. When I Get My Hands On You
9. Duncan and Jimmy
10. Florida Key
11. Hidee Hidee Ho #11
12. Lost On The River #12
14. Card Shark
15. Quick Like A Flash*
16. Hidee Hidee Ho #16
17. Diamond Ring*
18. The Whistle Is Blowing*
19. Six Months In Kansas City (Liberty Street)
20. Lost On The River #20
*Not available on 15-track standard edition of the album
RollingStone.com has premiered “Married to My Hack,” from the upcoming “Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes”
The just shy of two-minutes track of marital resignation features Elvis Costello on lead vocals and Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rihannon Giddens on backing vocals. Costello channels Dylans croaked spoken-blues as Giddens monas an scats over a ramshackle junkyard symphony that would make tom Waits crack a crooked smile.
“Married to My Hack” and “Nothing to It” are instant downloads for preorder on iTunes and Amazon.
On November 21st Showtime will air a documentary about the making of the album, “Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued,” directed by Sam Jones.
Track list for the deluxe edition of “Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes”
1. Down on the Bottom
2. Married to My Hack
3. Kansas City
4. Spanish Mary
5. Liberty Street
6. Nothing to It
7. Golden Tom – Silver Judas
8. When I Get My Hands on You
9. Duncan and Jimmy
10. Florida Key
11. Hidee Hidee Ho #11
12. Lost On The River #12
14. Card Shark
15. Quick Like A Flash
16. Hidee Hidee Ho #16
17. Diamond Ring
18. The Whistle Is Blowing
19. Six Months in Kansas City (Liberty Street)
20. Lost on the River #20
Showtime will air a documentary about the making of the album, Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, which filmmaker Sam Jones directed, on November 21st. It will show the making of the record and compare it to Dylan’s original sessions with the Band.
In other Basement Tapes news, the complete recordings of Dylan’s original 1967 sessions are due out as a six-disc, 138-track box set – The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 – on November 4th. Rolling Stone premiered one of the tracks, an alternate take on “Odds and Ends,” which is streaming here.
If there was ever an Americana and roots music watershed recording the Basement Tapes 1967 sessions from Bob Dylan and The band was one.
Now there’s official word that that mainstay of Americana, T Bone Burnett, is working on a project “Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes.” The project has a solid (and marketable) roster – Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons.)
The event focuses on two-dozen recently discovered lyrics written by Dylan during the 1967 period that generated original legendary Basement Tapes release.
Recording is nearly complete on the project which will be released later this year by Electromagnetic Recordings/Harvest Records. The album will be accompanied by a Showtime documentary titled Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, directed by Sam Jones (the Wilco documentary, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart)
I can imagine the germ of this endeavor occurred during the “Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of “Inside Llewyn Davis,” held at New York City’s Town Hall last September. That one-night event featured Mumford and Giddens as well as Joan Baez, Patti Smith, Jack White, The Avett Brothers, Punch Brothers, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings Machine, Willie Watson, The Milk Carton Kids, Colin Meloy and Lake Street Dive. (see below)
Truth is I’m ambivalent about this. A sequel to The New Basement Tapes is like a sequel to Casablanca. Is it necessary and will it ever have a chance to even come close to the genius of the original. And as much as i respect the artists involved, they are hardly the contemporary versions of Dylan and The Band.
If this was Ryan Adams and the Felice Brothers I still think it would fall short, but damn it would be interesting.
Here’s to being proven wrong.
You can sign up for updates at on the project at the official site.
Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes” will be released Nov. 11. Pre-order here.
If you’re a struggling musician I suggest you take a look at the career of Jim Lauderdale. Between early setbacks as a Bluegrass banjo player, and being marginalized in Music Row there were plenty of opportunities to chuck his guitar in the gutter and call it quits. But he persevered and used his songwriting as a musical dowsing rod to move him always forward toward unexpected and exciting places.
If the Americana genre didn’t already exist it would have to be created for Lauderdale. He’s worked in multiple genres (Bluegrass, country, rock, soul) with multiple artists (George Jones, Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and more), but the music has always been grounded in honesty with a twist of risk. This will to be daring, attention to legacy, while pushing forward has allowed Lauderdale to become something you don’t see music in the music industry, unique.
He’s now a Grammy winning singer/songwriter, the subject of a crowd-sourced biopic (Jim Lauderdale: The King of Broken Hearts)
He hosts, along with Buddy Miller, “The Buddy & Jim Show” Saturdays 10 pm ET on SiriusXM Outlaw Country. He also hosts the “Music City Roots: Live from the Loveless Cafe”, weekly Americana music show broadcast live on WSM from the Loveless Barn on Highway 100 in Nashville. He is also the MC for the Americana Music Awards and Honors show in Nashville where his catch-phrase “Now THAT’S Americana” is as much of a delight as the stellar performances on the storied Ryman Auditorium stage.
I talked to Lauderdale, through spotty reception, on the road to Nashville the day after his birthday performance at the Music City Roots spin-off, “Scenic City Roots, in Chattanooga Tennessee
Twang Nation: Jim? How are you today?
Jim Lauderdale: Just fine. Driving on a beautiful, crisp spring day heading back to Nashville from Chattanooga Tennessee.
TN: Happy belated birthday, You share a birth with Bob Harris ( “‘Whispering Bob Harris” the legendary is the host of the BBC 2 music program The Old Grey Whistle Test, and a supporter of country and roots music)
JL: Really? It’s also George Shuffler’s birthday, who played guitar for the Stanley Brothers.
TN: Cool. So you’re taking some time off from your tour supporting the “Buddy and Jim” album. How’s that going?
JL: It’s been great! We too some time off because Buddy is producing the Wood Brothers and he also co-produces the music for the TV show Nashville with T Bone Burnett. He’s got a pretty full plate most of the time. Our next date is in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall. I love playing that space.
TN: I’ll be there. The first time I saw you and Buddy working with the new material it was at last year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. It was a morning slot but the place was still full.
JL: I love that festival. Warren Hellman has done so much for the community. He’ll be missed.
TN: True. So let’s visit your childhood in Troutman, North Carolina. Your father was a minister and your mother was a music teacher. How did this shape you musically?
JL: I believe it helped to train my ears. They were both great singers, so it was a combination of hearing a lot of church music. Hearing my mother, who was a choir director at the church, a chorus teacher, and a piano teacher, I was hearing stuff all the time. My older sister was the first to start buying records like the Beatles when I was in the first grade. At the time music was just exploding and so much was coming from the radio and in North Carolina radio then was a mixture of rock and roll, soul music like Stax and Motown, and then there were peripheral country stations where Bluegrass was being played. So there was just so much great music being played and available. I think Buddy and i share a lot of the same influences. that’s how all these influences made me want to sing. I started singing really early and then started playing drums for a few years when I was 11 and then, when I was 13, I started playing blues harmonica. When I was 15 I started playing the banjo and getting more into Bluegrass music. I always wanted to do a Bluegrass record but it took me a long time to get a deal to do one. When it happened I got to do it with Ralph Stanley and his band, the Clinch Mountain Boys (1999’s I Feel Like Singing Today)
TN: Not bad company to keep for your inaugural Bluegrass venture.
JL: That was kind of a dream because I grew up loving his work. I used to try and play banjo in his style and sing in a tenor like Ralph would. One of the best things to happen out of that was that I began writing with Robert Hunter (poet and lyricist for the Grateful Dead.) A friend of mine, Rob Bleetstein, put me in touch with him in the Bay Area. i knew that Robert and Jerry Garcia were huge Stanley Brothers’ fans, so that’s how I started writing with Robert and since then we’ve created 4 albums. The last two were Bluegrass of stuff we’ve done together. I have an upcoming album with the North Mississippi Allstars coming out in the fall and it has stuff that Robert and I wrote as well. So, even though it took me a long tie to get something out in that world, it was worth the wait because of all the good things that have happened.
TN: Making up for lost time.
JL: Right. And the same with Buddy. We had met back in New York in the early 80’s. We were both living there and both had country bands going and Buddy, to me, had the best band there. There was a nice country scene going on in New York at the time. There were about 5 bars in New York like the Lone Star Cafe that featured country music. So there was a lot of work. Eventually we both ended up on the west coast and started playing gigs together. Then Buddy came to Nashville first and ended up playing with Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris. His career really took off! So we’ve known each other for 33 years and have talked about doing a record for the past 17 years so this new album was also worth the wait. Our schedules just wouldn’t allow it. But last year we started this radio show last summer on SiriusXM Outlaw Country (The Buddy & Jim Show , Saturdays 10 pm ET) and that started moving things toward us sitting down and writing material. It happened pretty quickly, we spent a few days in pre-production and wrote some stuff but we cut the album in three days in his home studio. He produced the album and we’re really happy with it. I love playing with Buddy, he always makes me smile.
TN: There’s a song you wrote that was covered by George Strait called The King of Broken Hearst. It’s got a great story.
JL: I moved to L.A. partly to be in the same atmosphere that Gram Parsons had been in. There was this story that came from (former rock ‘n’ roll groupie and author) Pamela Des Barres, who was a friend of his, who said he had this L.A. party and was playing George Jones records. These people had never heard him (Jones) and he started crying. he said “That’s the king of broken hearts.” It was one of those times when an idea just comes to you. I play that song all the time and I love it.
TN: Gram is seen as the patron saint of the Americana genre and , I believe, you and Buddy have earned a place at that table. With your work with the Americana Music Awards and Music City Roots would you consider yourself an ambassador of Americana?
JL: Oh, I don’t know about that. But I’m certainly happy it’s out there. The guy I mentioned before, Rob Bleetstein, helped to coin there term (along with Jon Grimson of Nashville) for a trade publication that’s no longer around called Gavin Report. It was like Billboard and R&R (Radio & Records) magazine. They needed a chart for rootsy American music and Rob said “How about Americana?” So that put a name on it. But to me it’s just great that Americana allows a broad umbrella for roots music – Blues, Bluegrass, folk, rock, country – music that is not overproduced and it’s all connected, And it’s a place that, in his later years, someone like Johnny Cash can get played on the radio. And Merle Haggard, and folks like Guy Clark and Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and jimmie Dale Gilmore. Stuff that’s too rootsy for mainstream radio. it’s nice to have a place where people can be recognized.
TN: You’ve worked in the Music Row world and the Americana world and been successful in both. What do you think contributes to your success to work in both of those environments?
JL: Well I had plans but things would work out a different that what I thought. It was accidental in some ways. I wanted to make Blue grass records as a teenager, but it never worked out. Then in my early 30s I finally got a record contract in the country genre. But that record was too country at the time to be accepted in 1988. Dwight Yoakam’s producer and guitarist Pete Anderson did it with me (The unreleased CBS album that later appeared on an overseas label as Point of No Return.) My next album wasn’t as traditional but it was pretty far out there. It was co-produced by Rodney Crowell and John Leventhal (1991’s Planet of Love) Even though that album didn’t have a lot of commercial success, 8 of the 10 songs went on to be recorded by other people like George Strait. So that too me into that world of songwriting though my plan was to have a successful career with my own records. I kept putting out my own records and, when it wouldn’t work out, the only way to rise above of the disappointment was to write myself out of it. I still had a contract for a few more majors, but I started doing some independent labels and was more eclectic. Bluegrass with country mixed with R&B ad soul. The work I’m doing with the North Mississippi Allstars I did with Robert Hunter is more blues, rock and soul. I’m also trying to finish up a stripped down acoustic record that I’m writing with Robert. He’s really important in my like as far as music, so I want to keep that going.
TN: Speaking of Robert Hunter lest year you were in the Bay Area with the American Beauty Project. How did that come about?
JL: Those two albums (Grateful Dead’s) Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty opened up a door in my spirit when I heard them. All the things I’d done before – country, Bluegrass, rock – came together in those two records. To me they were like the Gram Parsons solo albums with Emmylou, those records are touchstones. The New York Guitar Festival which was put together by David Spellman, each year, would choose a different album and then singers and guitar players would play a song from that record. A few year’s ago they chose American Beauty and it went over really well. The singer Catherine Russell, Ollabelle, Larry Campbell and his wife Teresa Williams became the core of the American Beauty project which we took around the country. We still do it occasionally and will probably do some more shows in the future. It’s always a lot of fun.
TN: Tell me about your work with the roots-rock band Donna the Buffalo.
JL: I met them at the Newport Folk Festival while opening for Lucinda Williams on her “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” tour. I met this group of folks that were really friendly, but I had missed their show earlier in the day. We made this friendship and we then jammed together at Merlefest in North Carolina. They then invited me to play their festival that they put on in the summer and offered to back me up during my set. So over the years we’ve worked festivals and sat in with each other. I started to write songs for all of us to do and when i had an album’s worth we went into the studio and did it (2003’s Wait Til Spring) We still do stuff when we can. They’ve got a new album coming out in June which I’ve heard and it’s fantastic (tonight Tomorrow & Yesterday – June 18) They are one of my favorite bands as an audience member and I love to sit in with them. We have a few new songs we’ve written but i need some more material to do another record.
TN: Any other new artists that have caught your ear?
JL: There’s a lady that just moved to Nashville, Lera Lynn. There’s another band that just moved from L.A. to Nashville called HoneyHoney that I like a lot. There”s a songwriter named Ryan Tanner I think is really good. And there’s a guy in North Carolina named Daniel Justin Smith that I think is really good. There’s no shortage of new, young singer, songwriter and pickers that are acoustically influenced and have their own style of country and roots music. I’m really encouraged by that. When i host the Music City Roots showcase it gives me an opportunity to be exposed to new performers. There was a band on the other night out of Birmingham, Alabama called St Paul and the Broken Bones. They are a kind of soul review kind of band and they are just out of this world. There’s a woman called Sara Petite out of San Diego who I like a lot. I also love Shovels and Rope, Robert Ellis , Max Gomez and the Milk Carton Kids.
TN: Who would you like to write music with someone that you haven’t?
JL: Gosh, I wish I could work with Eric Clapton. I love his work. I would also like to work with Keith Richards. I got to sing harmony with him on the song Hickory Wind on a Gram Parsons tribute called “Return to Sin City.” Norah Jones was on that, I’d like to work with her. I did a song with John Leventhal called Planet of Love that was pitched to Ray Charles to do with Norah Jones, but that didn’t happen before he passed away. I always wanted to work with Doc Pomus before he passed. And I always wanted to do something with Jerry Garcia and I’m sorry that didn’t happen. I’m slowly getting to work with a lot of folks I hold in high esteem. I got to write with Dan Pen and we’ve been working on some things in England with him and Nick Lowe’s great band. I got to song with George Jones years ago and that was a treat. You just never know in this up and down world of music.
TN: You’ve moved deftly between genres in this time, is there a musical era you would like to travel to and perform?
JL: The 60’s and early 70’s for the soul, country and rock music that was coming out and then the late 50’s early 60’s for Bluegrass. And the 50’s for Blues music. Being able to work in those times at the peak of the music would have been great.
TN: You’re a great singer, songwriter but your also a consummate showman. You’re very personable and funny on stage. Many have also taken note of your rhinestone bedecked clothing when you perform. How many suits do you have and where do you get them?
JL: Oh, I think i have 20 or 25 suits with shirts. I have gotten a few vintage pieces here and there, but i get most of my things new and custom made from Manuel (Cuevas) who is a designer and tailor here in Nashville that used to work with Nudie (Cohn) out of L.A. when he was a teenager. He’s still here producing things for people like Jack White.
TN: Thanks for your time and keep your eyes on the road.
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.
I’m not what you would call a fan of musicals (though I do have a soft spot for The Sound of Music) but I am intrigued by the Gothic musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland CountyCD release. The result of a more than a decade long project between horror-rock master (and Americana music fan ) Stephen King and and roots/rock legend John Mellencamp. As the musical got closer to completion they brought in singer/songwriter and producer T Bone Burnett to help flesh out the music. Burnett, who helmed the music for the Cohen Brother’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? andScott Cooper’s Crazy Heart was brought in to “… create the vibe.”
The genesis of the project was Mellencamp who in the late 1990swas inspired by his own supposedly haunted cabin in Bloomington, IN . The lore goes that in the 1930s two brothers got into a fight over a woman at the cabin, and one of them wound up accidentally dead. The surviving brother and the woman sped away in a car, but crashed into a lake a short time later and both drowned.the stuff of Gothic lore, though the absence of moonshine and firearms works against it being Southern Gothic lore.
Mellencamp interpretats the story as “…two brothers; they’re 19 years old or 20, maybe 18 or 21, who are very competitive and dislike each other immensely. The father takes them to the family vacation place, a cabin that the boys hadn’t been to since they were kids. What has happened is that the father had two older brothers who hated each other and killed each other in that cabin There’s a confederacy of ghosts who also live in this house. The older [dead] brothers are there, and they speak to the audience, and they sing to the audience. That’s all I want to say, except through this family vacation, many things are learned about the family, and many interesting songs are sung.” Again I emphasis the lack of moonshine and firearms!
Both King and Mellencamp welcomed to opportunity to challenge themselves. “You can just keep doing the same shit and you’ll make a living at it,” says King.
The musical oped at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, between April 4, 2012 until May 13, 2012 and was directed by Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth, with musical direction by T Bone Burnett. The cast of the upcoming production is led by Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley (Young Frankenstein, Oklahoma, Sweet and Sad) and Tony Award nominee Emily Skinner (Billy Elliot, Side Show, James Joyce’s The Dead), and includes Justin Guarini (“American Idol,” American Idiot, Women on the Verge…), blues musician and actor Jake La Botz, Lucas Kavner (Completeness, The Blue Flower), Kate Ferber (One Child Born: the Music of Laura Nyro), Christopher Morgan (Gut Bucket Blues) and country musician Dale Watson.
Variety reviewed the show harshly, stating ” By the end of the show, you may yearning for “Carrie.” Ouch.
Though music created for a theatrical setting has it’s own flavor there’s no denying the pedigree of Americana music talent involved CD release. But judging by the Elvis Costello cut “That’s Me,” sung not by Costello but by a member of the cast, I think this could be a great idea that misses the mark.
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County will be available as Standard Edition CD featureing the complete soundtrack, dialog excerpts and digital libretto. The (2CD/1DVD) Deluxe Edition contains the complete soundtrack (with and without dialog), deluxe art work, handwritten lyrics, specially printed libretto and the “Making of Ghost Brothers” mini-documentary DVD featuring in-depth interviews with King, Mellencamp and Burnett along with other bonus material. Digital editions for tablets, smartphones and e-readers will allow users to interact with the soundtrack + digital libretto, as well as exclusive video and graphic materials.
GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY
-Libretto by Stephen King
-Music & Lyrics by John Mellencamp
-Musical Direction by T Bone Burnett
-Featured cast: Kris Kristofferson, Meg Ryan,
Matthew McConaughey, Samantha Mathis, Elvis Costello
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County track listing:
That’s Me – Elvis Costello (listen at bottom of post)
That’s Who I Am – Neko Case
So Goddamn Smart – Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin, Sheryl Crow
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong About Me – Elvis Costello
Brotherly Love – Ryan Bingham and Will Dailey
How Many Days – Kris Kristofferson
You Are Blind – Ryan Bingham
Home Again – Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin, Taj Mahal
What’s Going On Here – Rosanne Cash
My Name Is Joe – Clyde Mulroney
Tear This Cabin Down – Taj Mahal
And Your Days Are Gone – Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin
Jukin’ – Sheryl Crow
What Kind Of Man Am I – Kris Kristofferson, Phil Alvin, Sheryl Crow Dave Alvin, Taj Mahal
So Goddamn Good – Phil Alvin, Dave Alvin, Sheryl Crow
Away From This World – Sheryl Crow
Truth – John Mellencamp
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.
The 12th year of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival shows the premier showcase for great (and FREE!) Americana and roots music is showing no signs of slowing down. This year might prove to be the best yet as old friends like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Ralph Stanley are joined by event newcomers like punk-turned-folkie Chuck Ragan, Texas sweethearts The Trishas and Americana darlings The Civil Wars, who pulled out of last year’s HSB.
Have fun, and remember to wear layers and stay hydrated out there (and upwind.) Below find the schedule with my picks in bold.
Friday Oct 5 (10:00am – 7:00pm)
Star Stage 10:00am Poor Man’s Whiskey and Preservation Hall Jazz Band
12:00pm John Reilly and Friends (featuring Becky Stark and Tom Brosseau) 1:15pm Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys 2:40pm The Jerry Douglas Band 4:15pm The Time Jumpers (Vince Gill, Dennis Crouch, Paul Franklin, Larry Franklin, Andy Reiss, Dawn Sears, Kenneth Sears, Joe Spivey, Jeff Taylor & Billy Thomas) 5:45pm Elvis Costello Solo
Arrow Stage 12:00pm Chuck Ragan
2:10pm Chris Carrabba 3:20pm Patterson Hood & the Downtown Rumblers 4:45pm Jon Langford & His Sadies feat. Sally Timms
Rooster Stage 12:00pm Simone Felice 1:00pm Chuck Prophet & the Mission Express
2:20pm Beachwood Sparks
3:25pm Ben Kweller
4:25pm Jenny Lewis
5:45pm Conor Oberst
Saturday Oct 6 (11:00am – 7:00pm)
11:00am World Famous Headliners (Big Al Anderson, Shawn Camp, Pat McLaughlin, Michael Rhodes & Greg Morrow)
12:10pm Alison Brown Quartet with Stuart Duncan 1:25pm Buddy Miller 2:45pm Tribute to the Founding Fathers: Warren Hellman, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson featuring Alison Brown, Stuart Duncan, Tim O’Brien and Bryan Sutton, with special guests Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris with Heidi Clare & Colleen Browne (from the Wronglers), Peter Rowan, Nick Lowe & more!
4:15pm The Chieftains 5:45pm Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses)
Rooster Stage 11:00am The Go to Hell Man Clan with Special Guests the Wronglers featuring Jimmie Dale Gilmore
12:00pm Lloyd Cole 1:10pm Guy Clark & Verlon Thompson
2:30pm The Lumineers 3:50pm Patty Griffin 5:30pm Robert Earl Keen
Star Stage 11:00am Roger Knox and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts 12:30pm Dirty Three 2:10pm Dave Alvin & the Guilty Ones 3:45pm Cowboy Junkies
5:45pm Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Towers Of Gold Stage
11:40am Red Baraat 1:20pm Justin Townes Earle
3:00pm Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang
4:45pm The Head & the Heart
Arrow Stage 11:00am The Trishas 12:05pm Reckless Kelly
1:30pm Bill Kirchen & The Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods
2:45pm Heartless Bastards 4:05pm Jerry Jeff Walker 5:35pm The Flatlanders feat. Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock
Porch Stage 11:00am Joe Pug
12:10pm Sara Watkins
1:25pm Little Green Cars
2:40pm Allison Moorer
3:50pm Robyn Hitchcock
4:50pm Sierra Hull 6:05pm Seasick Steve
Sunday Oct 7 (11:00am – 7:00pm)
11:00am Dry Branch Fire Squad
12:05pm Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands
1:20pm Peter Rowan 2:45pm Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys
4:15pm Tim O’Brien Party of 7 5:45pm Emmylou Harris
Rooster Stage 11:00am Jim Lauderdale 12:05pm Kevin Welch & Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin
1:10pm Jesse Winchester
2:20pm Glen Hansard
3:35pm Nick Lowe 4:50pm Todd Snider 6:10pm The Civil Wars
Star Stage 11:00am Giant Giant Sand
12:40pm The Knitters 2:15pm DOUG SAHM’S PHANTOM PLAYBOYS featuring: dave ALVIN, steve EARLE, delbert McCLINTON, boz SCAGGS, jimmie VAUGHAN… and whoever the cat drags in… 4:05pm The Del McCoury Band
6:00pm Keller Williams, Steve Kimock & Kyle Hollingsworth featuring Bernie Worrell, Wally Ingram & Andy Hess
Towers of Gold Stage
12:00pm The Milk Carton Kids
1:30pm Soul Rebels 3:10pm Dwight Yoakam
5:00pm Patti Smith and her band
Arrow Stage 11:00am Lucero
1:25pm Rubblebucket 2:45pm Son Volt 4:10pm Luther Dickinson & the Wandering
11:00am The New Orleans Bingo! Show 12:10pm Tiny Television
1:25pm The Barr Brothers
2:40pm Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys 3:55pm The White Buffalo
5:10pm Walter Salas-Humara
6:20pm Jonny Two Bags & Salvation Town
It was another night when the disciples of roots music congregated within the hallowed walls of the Mother Church of Country Music, and the Ryman Auditorium, to homage to that which ties us together and makes us whole. Music.
The evening got off to a funk – soul start as Buddy Miller and the house band turned up the heat on Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist recipient Booker T Jones’ Green Onions. Drive-By Truckers front man Patterson Hood presented Jones with award recounting the DBT backing him on the Grammy winning “Potato Hole” and recognizing the legendary musician and producer for his contributions to the Stax Records and Memphis soul music sound.
“It means so much to me to receive this award, and it’s especially good to receive it from Patterson, I am so honored to accept this award in such great company. It really touches me.”
Bonnie Raitt presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting and guitarist extraordinaire Richard Thompson. Thompson’s songs have been recorded by The Del McCoury Band, Robert Plant, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, Blind Boys of Alabama, REM, Linda Ronstadt, Buddy & Julie Miller and Raitt herself.
Thompson, a Brit, said “I know we’ve had our differences, and especially that whole 1776 thing. But we do share a love of the folk music from the old country.” It Then broke into a sizzling version of his Vincent Black Lightning.
Raitt herself received the Lifetime Achievement for Performance, presented to her by by singer/songwriter John Hiatt who’s song “Thing Called Love” was a big hit for her when she covered it on her “Nick of Time” album. “I am proud to have an umbrella like Americana. Who cares what kind of music it is, if it is great music. Tonight we are putting aside generations and genres to celebrate roots music.”
Peter Cooper and Lee Ann Womack ‘s performance of Song of the Year nominated ” I Love” – Album from the Songs of Fox Hollow children’s album – was rendered even more eventful by a surprise appearance by the 76 year-old icon.
The greatest moment for me was an appearance by the legendary Guy Clark. The tribute This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark – produced by Tamara Saviano and Shawn Camp- won album of the Year. The noticeably frail Clark performed a song dedicated to his recently deceased wife Susanna, and “My Favorite Picture of You.”
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit snagged Song of the Year honors for “Alabama Pines.” Gillian Welch was named Artist of the Year, while The Civil Wars took home Duo/Group honors (and I won another bottle of whiskey from John Paul White!) Alabama Shakes were presented the Emerging Artist award and David Rawlings was named Musician of the Year.
Jim Lauderdale again was the perfect MC for the televised live event which moved at a more clipped pace than past years.
Excellent performances by Justin Townes Earle, Robert Ellis, The Mavericks, the Punch Brothers, Casey Chambers, Shane Nicholson, Hayes Carll, Cary Ann Hurst and the Carolina Chocolate Drops drew from the historic surroundings and often brought the crowd to their feet.
The evening closed with many performers joining by Emmylou Harris to pay tribute to the late Levon Helm, led by his daughter Amy Helm, who in a rousing version of The Band’s “The Weight.”
The upcoming Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the 12th annual and the first after the passing of benefactor and spiritual leader Warren Hellman, continues a practice it began last year by teasing us with audio hints to reveal it’s roster.
It’s a fun undertaking that social media helps to uncover the more obscure performers. Once the audio mystery has been solved you find HSB 12, as as it has in recent years, offers a stellar roster of roots and Americana performers with the occasional current rock favorites (Heartless Bastards) and baby boom indy darlings (Patti Smith, Nick Lowe.)
These latter, I’m assured when bemoaning the Americana acts that could have filled the slots, put the “Hardly Strictly” in Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Personally I’d put The White Buffalo (The White Buffalo is now on the bill!) or Corb Lund in any of their places.
As mentioned HSB 12 is the first Hardly Strictly since the festival benefactor Warren Hellman passed away December of last year. Hellman made his bones in private equity investing and, in the truest form of benevolence and love of music (that I share) funded the free festival out of his own pocket every year since its inception, I’ve been told that his will has provided for the event’s continued funding for at least a decade after his death.
The beautiful stretch of Golden Gate Park where the festival’s 5 stages are erected had it’s name changed from Speedway Meadow to Hellman Hollow in tribute.
The festival’s being a free event has led to serious overcrowding the last few years to the point where moving from stage to stage has become a chore and, on hotter days, a risky endeavor. Most of my my friends pick=jk a stage with the roster they most prefer and settle in with a blanket and cooler.
I spend the day braving the crowds and visiting these friends. After all, as an Americana music blogger it will not do to lay in the grass while Ralph Stanley or Buddy Miller echos from a distant stage.
Remember bring water, stay upwind from the weed, and leave your young children and pets at home, Especially on warmer days they don’t deserve the self-inflicted torture of the crowds.
Here’s to great music and here’s to Warren Hellman, a man I met briefly (and fittingly at the Ryman Theater in Nashville.) He was warm and gracious and his love for this music poured from him. Bless you Mr. Hellman and the legacy have left San Francisco. If you haven’t see it take a look at the archived Hellman tribute concert from Ocean Beach,
Here’s my best guess at the bill so far; Emmylou Harris has not been mentioned yet but as the sole performer that has been on the bill since the first HSB look for her addition.
Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, The Head and the Heart, Glen Hansard, Patty Griffin, Dwight Yoakam, The Lumineers, Nick Lowe, Heartless Bastards, Robert Earl Keen, Son Volt, Ralph Stanley, Lloyd Cole, Les Claypool, Todd Snider, Dirty Three, Dave Alvin, Rubblebucket, Sara Watkins, Buddy Miller, Jerry Douglas, The Milk Carton Kids, Del Mccoury, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Peter Rowan, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Laurie Lewis, Red Baraat, Giant Giant Sand, Little Green Cars, Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, Tiny Television, The Wandering, Laurie Lewis And The Right Hands, Amanda Shaw & The Cute Guys, Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue, Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys, Tim O’brien Party of Seven, Time Jumper, Steve Earle and the Dukes (and Duchesses), The Go to Hell Man Clan, Patterson Hood & the Downtown Rumblers, Old Crow Medicine Show