Wanted! – Notable Americana and Roots Music Releases for 2020

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2019 turned out to be another excellent year for Americana and roots music. Releases from John Paul White, Buddy and Julie Miller, Chuck Mead, Tanya Tucker, and many others were cause for celebration for the music we love. Roots radio continues to gain listeners and mainstream country radio continues to, occasionally, remember its roots and reflect the shift in tastes of a growing fan base.

But radio is just part of the story. We listened to this timeless music through the format du jour, streaming services. Spotify has several internally curated playlists for Americana and roots music ( The Pulse of Americana, Roots Rising,
Fresh Folk ) as well as my own semi-weekly playlist ‘Twang Nation Friday New Tunes Hayride Then there’s the vinyl boom which roots music artists and fans played a significant part.

2020 starts off right with releases from Gill Landry, Terry Allen, Maria McKee, Della Mae and Pinegrove with releases from John Moreland, The Lone Bellow, The Cadillac Three, and Aubrie Sellers releasing in February. Then there are yet-to-be-announced release dates for James McMurtry and others. Bookmark and check back to this list as we will update those dates and add other releases as we learn more.

Also if you know of a release not on the list feel free to add it below.

Thanks for keeping up with Twang Nation and happy 2020!

January
Jan. 10: Paul Kelly – Songs From the South 1985-2019
Jan. 10: Aerialists – “Dear Sienna”
Jan. 13: Maria McKee – ‘La Vita Nuova’
Jan. 13: Left Arm Tan – self-titled
Jan. 15: David Dondero – ‘The Filter Bubble Blues’
Jan. 17: Eleven Hundred Springs – ‘Here ‘Tis’
Jan. 17: Marcus King – ‘El Dorado’
Jan. 17: Marshall Crenshaw – ‘Miracle of Science’
Jan. 17: Pinegrove – ‘Marigold’
Jan. 17: The Innocence Mission – ‘see you tomorrow’
Jan. 17: Della Mae – ‘Headlight’
Jan. 17: Torgeir Waldemar – ‘Love’
Jan. 17: Fruition – ‘Broken at the Break of Day’
Jan. 17: Bill Fay – “Countless Branches”
Jan. 17: Dwight Yoakam – Blame The Vain (Vinyl Reissue)
Jan. 17: Buck Owens – ‘The Capitol Singles & Albums 1957-62’
Jan. 17: Buck Owens & Susan Raye / Very Best Of (Vinyl)
Jan.22: Vance Gilbert – ‘Good Good Man’
Jan.22: Gill Landry – ‘Love Rides A Dark Horse’
Jan 24: Terry Allen and the Panhandle Mystery Band – ‘Just Like Moby Dick’
Jan 24: Bonny Light Horseman – self-titled debut
Jan 24: Kailey Nicole – self-titled EP
Jan 24: Mrs. Henry Presents: ‘Live at the Casbah’
Jan 24: The Wood Brothers – ‘Kingdom in My Mind’
Jan 24: Bart Bugwig – ;Another Burn on the Astroturf’
Jan 24: The Haden Triplets – ‘The Family Songbook’
Jan 24: The Lil Smokies – ‘Tornillo’
Jan 24: Joy Mills Band – ‘Echolocator’
Jan 24: Kailey Nicole – self-titled
Jan 24: Steve Scott – ‘No Love For The Common Man’
Jan 24: Caitlin Sherman – ‘Death To The Damsel’
Jan 31: Dustbowl Revival – ‘Is It You, Is It Me’
Jan 31: Brian Johannesen – “Holster Your Silver”
Jan 31: Possessed By Paul James – ‘As We Go Wandering’
Jan 31: Tre Burt – ‘Caught It from the Rye’
Jan 31: Drive-by Truckers – ‘The Unraveling’
Jan 31: Cave Flowers – self-titled
Jan 31: Blackie & the Rodeo Kings – ‘King of This Town’
Jan 31: Sophie & The Broken Things – self-titled
Jan 31: Glenn Jones – ‘Ready For The Good Times’
Jan 31: Eric Brace & Last Train Home – ‘Daytime Highs and Overnight Lows’
Jan 31: RB Morris – ‘Going Back To The Sky’
Jan 31: Tomar & the FCs – ‘Rise Above’

February
Feb. 1: Glenn Jones Are You Ready For The Good Times
Feb. 7: Hank Williams – ‘Pictures From Life’s Other Side’
Feb. 7: John Moreland – “LP5”
Feb. 7: The Lone Bellow – “Half Moon Light”
Feb. 7: The Cadillac Three – “Country Fuzz”
Feb. 7: Aubrie Sellers – “Far From Home”
Feb. 7: Dom Flemons – ‘Prospect Hill: The American Songster Omnibus’
Feb. 7: Miss Tess – ‘The Moon Is an Ashtray’
Feb. 7: Darling West – ‘We’ll Never Know Unless We Try’
Feb. 7: Elkhorn – ‘The Storm Sessions’
Feb. 7: The Steeldrivers – “Bad For You’
Feb. 7: Frazey Ford – ‘U kin B the Sun’
Feb. 7: Corinne Sharlet – ‘Deceiver’ EP
Feb. 7: Chicago Farmer – ‘Flyover Country’
Feb. 7: David Allen – ‘Regrets and Retribution’
Feb. 7: Flyin’ A’s – ‘No Holds Barred’
Feb. 7: Supersuckers – ‘Play That Rock n’ Roll’
Feb. 7: William Prince – ‘Reliever’
Feb. 7: Frank & Allie Lee – ‘Treat A Stranger Right’
Feb. 7: Lynne Hanson – ‘Just Words’
Feb: 14: Phil Madeira – “Open Heart”
Feb. 14: Tami Neilson – CHICKABOOM!
Feb. 14: Robert Vincent – ‘In This Town You’re Owned’
Feb. 14: Jeremiah Johnson – ‘Heavens to Betsy’
Feb. 14: Little Misty – ‘Old Ghosts’
Feb. 14: The Third Mind – self-titled debut
Feb. 21: Nora Jane Struthers – “Bright Lights, Long Drives, First Words”
Feb. 21: Arik Dov – ‘The Man’ ep
Feb 28: The Secret Sisters – “Saturn Return”
Feb 28: Sierra Hull – ’25 Trips’
Feb 28: Pam Tillis – new album
Feb 28: Waco Brothers – ‘RESIST!’
Feb 28: Chelsea Lovitt – ‘You Had Your Cake, So Lie in It’
Feb 28: Avi Kaplan – ‘ I’ll Get By’

March
March 6: The Panhandlers – Josh Abbott, John Baumann, Cleto Cordero and William Clark Green – self-titled
March 6: The Mastersons- ‘No Time for Love Songs’
March 6: Brandy Clark – ‘Your Life is a Record’
March 6: Jim Lauderdale – ‘When Carolina Comes Home Again’
March 6: Will Sexton – ‘Don’t Walk the Darkness’
March 6: Green Leaf Rustlers – ‘Within Marin’
March 6: Aoife O’Donovan – ‘The Bull Frogs Croon (and Other Songs)’ EP
March 13: Dave Simonett (from Tramped By Turtles) – “Red Tail”
March 13: Sam Doores (of The Deslondes and formerly Hurray for the Riff Raff) – self-titled
March 13: Anna Lynch – ‘Apples in Fall’ EP
March 13: Outlaw Billy Don Burns -‘The Country Blues’
March 15: Sons of the Pioneers – ‘The Lost Masters’
March 20: Delta Rae – ‘The Light’
March 20: Carla Olson – ‘Have Harmony Will Travel 2’
March 27: Lilly Hiatt – ‘Walking Proof’
March 27: Marie Miller – ‘Little Dreams’
March 27: Kim Richey – ‘A Long Way Back: the Songs of Glimmer’
March 27: Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – ‘Naked Garden’

April
April 3: Caleb Caudle – ‘Better Hurry Up’
April 3: The Nine Seas – ‘Dream of Me’
April 3: Ruthie Collins – ‘Cold Comfort’
April 3: Lisa Lambe – ‘Juniper’
April 3: Matthew McNeal – ‘Good Grief’
April 3: Christy Lynn Band – ‘Sweetheart of the Radio’
April 10: John Anderson – ‘Years’
April 10: Eliza Gilkyson – ‘2020’
April 10: Watkins Family Hour – ‘ brother sister’
April 17: Shelby Lynne – self-titled
April 17: The Reverend Shawn Amos – ‘Blue Sky’
April 17: Girl Skin – ‘Shade is on the other side’
April 17: The White Buffalo – ‘On The Widow’s Walk’
April 17: Joe Ely – ‘Love in the Midst of Mayhem’
April 20: Nicholas Jamerson – ‘The Wild Frontier’
April 24: Teddy Thompson – ‘Heartbreaker’
April 24: Sailing Stones – ‘Polymnia’
April 24: Lucinda Williams – “Good Souls Better Angels”
April 24: Whitney Rose – ‘We Still Go to Rodeos’
April 24: Corb Lund – ‘Agricultural Tragic’
April 24: Willie Nelson – ‘First Rose Of Spring’
April 24: The Lowest Pair – ‘The Perfect Plan’
April 24: Pam Tillis – ‘Looking for a Feeling’
April 24: Kyle LaLone – ‘Somewhere In Between’
April 26: Randy Rogers Band – ‘Hellbent’
April ?: Van Darien – ‘Levee’

May
May 1: Elijah Ocean – ‘Blue Jeans & Barstools’
May 1: Cayley Thomas – ‘How Else Can I Tell You?’
May 1: American Aquarium – ‘Lamentations’
May 8: Andrew Hibbard – self-titled
May 8: Liv Greene – ‘Every Bright Penny’
May 8: Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen – Hold My Beer Vol. 2
May 15: Chatham County Line – ‘Strange Fascination’
May 15: Chuck Prophet – ‘The Land That Time Forgot’
May 15: Jason Isbell – ‘Reunions’
May 15: Lesley Barth – “Big Time Baby”
May 22: Reckless Kelly – ‘American Girls’ & ‘American Jackpot’
May 22: Steve Earle & The Dukes – ‘Ghosts of West Virginia’
May 22: Jarrod Dickenson -“Ready The Horses”
May 29: Jake Blount – ‘Spider Tales’
May 29: Jaime Wyatt – ‘Neon Cross’

June
June 5: Sarah Jarosz – ‘World On The Ground’
June 5: Turkeyfoot – “Promise of Tomorrow”
June 12: Sammy Brue – ‘Crash Test Kid’
June 12: Pert Near Sandstone – “Rising Tide”
June 19: Grayson Capps – “South Front Street”
June 19: Neil Young – “Homegrown”
June 19: Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways
June 19: Blackberry Smoke – Live From Capricorn Sound Studios
June 19: Darlin’ Brando – Also, Too…
June 19: Don Bryant – You Make Me Feel
June 19: Kristen Grainger & True North – ‘Ghost Tattoo’
June 26: Corb Lund – ‘Agricultural Tragic’
June 26: Country Westerns – ‘Country Westerns’
June 26: Scroggins & Rose – ‘Curios’
June 26: Emily Duff – ‘Born On The Ground’
June 26: Will Hoge – ‘Tiny Little Movies’
June 26: Arielle Silver – ‘A Thousand Tiny Torches’

July
July 10: The Jayhawks – “XOXO”
July 10: Joshua Ray Walker – “Glad You Made It”
July 10: Margo Price – ‘That’s How Rumors Get Started’
July 10: Ray Wylie Hubbard – “Co-Starring”
July 10: The Jayhawks – ‘XOXO’
July 17: The Texas Gentlemen – “Floor It!!!”
July 24: Ted Russell Kamp – ‘Down in the Den’
July 24: Lori McKenna – “The Balladeer’
July 31: Charley Crockett – “Welcome To Hard Times”

August
August 2: The Avett Brothers – ‘The Third Gleam’
August 7: Steven Bruce – ‘Same Time, Same Place, Same Station’
August 14: Kathleen Edwards – ‘Total Freedom’
August 21: The Old 97’s -“Twelfth”
August 21: Mandy Barnett – ‘A Nashville Songbook’
August 21: Cidny Bullens – ‘Walkin’ Through This World’
August 21: Robert Gordon – ‘Rockabilly For Life’
August 28: Karen Jonas – ‘The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams’
August 28: Zephaniah OHora – Listening to the Music
August 28: Colter Wall – Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs
August 28: Justin Wells – The United State
August 28: Moe Bandy – A Love Like That
August 28: The Reeves Brothers – The Last Honky Tonk
August 28: Heidi Newfield – The Barfly Sessions
August 28: The Allman Betts Band – Bless Your Heart
August 28: The Northern Belle – We Wither, We Bloom

September
September 4: Carolina Story – “Dandelion”
September 4: India Ramey – ‘Shallow Graves’
September 11: Elizabeth Cook – “Aftermath”
September 18: Fred Eaglesmith & Tif Ginn – ‘Alive’
September 18: Otis Gibbs – ‘Hoosier National’
September 18: Brennen Leigh – ‘Prairie Love Letter’

October

Novenmber
November 6: Madison Cunningham – ‘Wednesday’
November 6: Jackslacks – ‘When Pigs Fly’
November 6: Johnnie & Jack with The Tennessee Mountain Boys – ‘Collection 1945-62’
November 6: Larry Keel – ‘American Dream’
November 13: Chris Stapleton – ‘Starting Over’

TBA
Carla Olson
Will Sexton
Cidny Bullens
Marshall Chapman
The Claudettes
James McMurtry
Amelia White – produced by Kim Richey

Top 6 Roots Music Moments at the 2016 Grammy Awards

58th-Grammy-Logo

Grit, heart and soul found it’s way between the sequins and glitter of the 58th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Folks that have been bustin Asa’s for years, and sometimes decades, get recognition (and hopefully a bump in music and ticket sales) and a chance to stand toe-to-toe with ther accomplished msusiaans and remind the sometimes jaded industry audience why music will always tie us into a shared human condition.

Here are some highlights:

The Steeldrivers

After four nominations The SteelDrivers proved the fifth time is the charm. The Nashville-based bluegrass badasses won thier first Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for their fifth realese ‘The Muscle Shoals Recordings.’
The critically-acclaimed album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart and achieved the highest first-week sales in the band’s history.

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn’s eponymous album picks up the well-deserved Best Folk Album Grammy.

http://youtu.be/WV-Z1cfcVl8

The excellent documentary ‘Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” wins Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media.

Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr., and Bonnie Raitt play steal the show with this BB King tribute.

http://youtu.be/soijapAt6no

Aside from being part of the great tribute Chris Stapleton snagged 2 statues
Best Country Album (for Traveller) and Best Country Solo Performance (for the album’s title track). He shared the spotlight with producer Dave Cobb. He even called Taylor Swift out for “glitter bombing” him.

Jason Isbell made up for the snub of his 2013 ‘Southeastern’ by winning 2 Grasmmys during the event’s pre-telecast. Best Americana Album for ‘Somethng More Than Free’ and Best Americana Roots Song for ’24 Frames.”

Isbell thanked his wife, singer, songwriter Amanda Shires, who provides harmonies on the track; his manager Traci Thomas, his long-time band, the 400 Unit; producer Dave Cobb and those who voted mentioning humbly “It’s a real honor” to accept the award. At the end of his speech, Isbell also thanked Muscle Shoals, Ala., for “teaching me how to play music.”

Well done sir, no one deserves it more.

Listen Up! The SteelDrivers – “Brother John”

The SteelDrivers

Like the proverbial rivers edge, murder ballads are a perfect and moody destination for the bluegrass genre.

The SteelDrivers visit this familiar haunt on their song “Brother John.” The Nashville-based band – fiddler Tammy Rogers, guitarist and lead singer Gary Nichols, banjoist Richard Bailey and bassist Mike Fleming – play a deceptively spry arrangement underpinning a song dealing with murder, that may or may not be justified, and the killer’s brother advising him to run and slip the hangman’s noose.

About the emotional release in the appeal of murder ballads in bluegrass, lead singer Gary Nichols tells Rolling Stone: “I think it’s just that love gone wrong induces such rage in people, and there’s so much cheating going on in the world anyway,”

“Sometimes it’s just good for the listener to be able to kill their spouse in a song. They don’t want to do it for real, so sometimes having that song can help them feel better.”

The band tapped Jason Isbell to co-produce and play slide guitar on the song.

“I think he pushed us a little more,” says SteelDrivers lead singer Gary Nichols of Isbell’s contributions. “If you listen to the songs we cut, they’re almost on the edge of ‘slow,’ which with a banjo roll doesn’t always work. He just allowed us to just be the band in the studio, and we kind of let him drive.”

“Brother John” was co-written by Gary Nichols and Barry Billings. It can be found on the upcoming ‘The Muscle Shoals Recordings’ out June 16th on Rounder Records.

The SteelDrivers – ‘Hammer Down’ – Listen Up!

SteelDrivers - Hammer Down

Adele and i share something in common. We are both SteelDrivers fans. Adele even honored the band by recording a version of their song “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” and included it as a B side to her best-selling “Rolling in the Deep” CD single and has covered that very same song live.

The three time Grammy nominated, Nashville based band are well worthy of such accolades.

The SteelDrivers embody some of the best characteristics of any roots/Americana band performing today. The band fuses often dark lyrics, soul, bluegrass and mature pop to create something new and fresh and somehow comfortably familiar.

The SteelDrivers are banjo player Richard Bailey, bass/vocalist Mike Fleming, guitar / vocalist Gary Nichols, fiddler / vocalist Tammy Rogers and mandolinist Brent Truitt. Produced by Luke Wooton, Hammer Down is a collection of 10 new tunes from Rogers and Nichols as well as original members Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson. The set also includes the songs “I’ll Be There” and “Cry No Mississippi” that Nichols co-wrote with John Paul White of The Civil Wars.

The SteelDrivers’ upcoming Rounder Records’ release “Hammer Down” can be heard below for one week here at Twang Nation.

The SteelDrivers are on the road for much of 2013 and an updated itinerary is at www.steeldrivers.net

Tour Itinerary to Date:

February 6 Music City Roots/Loveless Cafe Nashville, TN
February 8 The Station Inn Nashville, TN
February 16 Joe Val Bluegrass Festival Framingham, MA
February 17 The Iron Horse Northampton, MA
February 18 Joe’s Pub New York, NY
February 28 The Ark Ann Arbor, MI
March 2 Woodlands Tavern Columbus, OH
March 3 Beachland Ballroom Cleveland, OH
March 8 Bluegrass Underground McMinnville, TN
March 9 Mountain View Bluegrass Fest Mountain View, AR
March 21 Carbondale, IL Hangar 9

Nominations for the 53rd GRAMMY Awards

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) announced the nominees for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards (to be held February 13th, 2011.) Here listed are the nominees in the Americana, Roots categories as well as similar artists in other categories (for a full list of nominees ho the Grammy.com)  Any surprises? Who’s missing?

BEST AMERICANA ALBUM
Rosanne Cash – The List
Los Lobos – Tin Can Trust
Willie Nelson – Country Music
Robert Plant – Band of Joy
Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone

BEST BLUEGRASS ALBUM
Sam Bush – Circles Around Me
Patty Loveless – Mountain Soul II
The Del McCoury Band – Family Circle
Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band – Legacy
The Steeldrivers – Reckless

BEST TRADITIONAL FOLK ALBUM
Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig
Luther Dickinson & the Sons of Mudboy – Onward and Upward
The John Hartford Stringband – Memories of John
Maria Muldaur – Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy
Ricky Skaggs – Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved

BEST CONTEMPORARY FOLK ALBUM
Jackson Browne & David Lindley – Love Is Strange – En Vivo Con Tino
Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Age of Miracles
Guy Clark – Somedays the Song Writes You
Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs – God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise
Richard Thompson – Dream Attic

BEST COUNTRY INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE
Cherryholmes – “Tattoo of a Smudge”
The Infamous Stringdusters – “Magic #9”
Punch Brothers – “New Chance Blues”
Darrell Scott – “Willow Creek”
Marty Stuart – “Hummingbyrd”

Other Americana/roots/indie/alt/whatever artists nominated in assorted other categories:

  • Dailey & Vincent – “Elizabeth” (Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals)
  • Dierks Bentley – Up on the Ridge (Best Country Album)
  • Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert & Jamey Johnson – “Bad Angel” (Best Country Collaboration with Vocals)
  • Dierks Bentley, Del McCoury & the Punch Brothers – “Pride (In the Name of Love)” (Best Country Collaboration with Vocals)
  • Ryan Bingham & T. Bone Burnett – “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart (Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Johnny Cash – “Ain’t No Grave”/ The Johnny Cash Project (Best Short Form Music Video)
  • Crazy Heart (Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Steve Earle – “I See You” from Treme (Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Patty Griffin – Downtown Church (Best Traditional Gospel Album)
  • Buddy Holly – Not Fade Away: The Complete Studio Recordings and More (Best Historical Album)
  • Elton John & Leon Russell – “If It Wasn’t for Bad” (Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals)
  • Jamey Johnson – “Macon” (Best Male Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Album for The Guitar Song)
  • Miranda Lambert – “The House That Built Me” (Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song, Best Country Album for Revolution)
  • Ray LaMontagne – “Beg, Steal, or Borrow” (Song of the Year)
  • Los Lobos – “Do the Murray” (Best Rock Instrumental Performance)
  • Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man” (Best Rock Song, Best New Artist)
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Mojo (Best Rock Album)*The Steeldrivers – “Where Rainbows Never Die” (Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals)
  • Robert Plant – “Silver Rider” (Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance)
  • Pete Seeger with the Rivertown Kids and Friends – Tomorrow’s Children (Best Musical Album for Children)
  • Ricky Skaggs – Mosaic (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
  • George Strait – “The Breath You Take” (Best Country Song)
  • Marty Stuart & Connie Smith – “I Run to You” (Best Country Collaboration with Vocals)
  • Treme (Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Hank Williams – The Complete Mother’s Best Recordings…Plus! (Best Historical Album)
  • Lucinda Williams & Elvis Costello – “Kiss Like Your Kiss” from True Blood (Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Neil Young – “Angry World” (Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Album for Le Noise)

The History of Emmylou Harris

  • AOL’s Spinner has a nice feature on the lovely, but messy, honky-tonk riot-grrrls Those Darlins.
  • The Onion’s AV Club “head writer and hip-hop specialist”   Nathan Rabin continues his discovery of Country Music in his Nashville or Bust feature. The newest post is a nice historic summary of Americana chanteuse and Gram Parson protege Emmylou Harris. (via the 9513.com)
  • The always excellent Juli Thanki’s newest Torch & Twang column over at PopMatters.com tackles a subject near and dear to Ranch Twang’s heart – the history of Canadian artists in Country Music.
  • The legendary Ryman Auditorium will host Jim Lauderdale & Friends featuring Amy Grant, Vince Gill & The SteelDrivers. The performance will benefit Thanks USA. The concert is on Monday, November 9 at 7:30 pm and tickets on sale Friday, August 21 at 10 am ($49.50 & $39.50)
  • The Washington Post has a great feature on Loudon Wainwright III’s new release – “High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project.” Wainwright created the album to bring attention to Poole’s music and that he played a key role in the history of country music. on edit- NPR did a feature on the Poole tribute.

Texas Monthly Features Five Texas Music Legends

  • Texas Monthly’s Pitch Perfect features five legendary Texas musicians—Guy Clark, Patty Griffin, Sonny Throckmorton, Robert Earl Keen, and Jack Ingram— and asks them to sgare the mystic secrets to writing a great country song.  It’s a funny, informative a great read.
  • The nominees for the 20th International Bluegrass Music Awards Awards has been announced (Yay SteelDrivers!) The ceremony will be hosted by Grammy-winning country artist Kathy Mattea and the legendary bluegrass band, Hot Rize, on Thursday, October 1, 2009, at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Legendary guitar pioneer Les Paul died today at the age of 94 at White Plains Hospital due to complications from pneumonia.
  • More info on Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Son Volt’s Jay Farrar work for the upcoming Jack Kerouac soundtrack collaborative album entitled “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur.”  The twelve song set is due October 20 via F-Stop/Atlantic and will serve as the soundtrack to the Kerouac documentary of the same title.  Farrar and Gibbard were approached by the filmmakers in 2007 about writing music for the film, which documents the events surrounding the author’s time spent in the Big Sur region of California.

Chris Morris Returns with Hillbilly Deluxe

  • 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

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcKqNZKoEzQ[/youtube]

Happy Birthday Ray Price!

  • Cybergrass has a nice post on the Grammy nominated soul-bluegrass (soul-grass?)  band The Steeldrivers.
  • As part of a settlement of a legal battle Mother Maybelle Carter’s 1928 Gibson L-5 acoustic guitar, along with Bill Monroe’s F-5 mandolin and two of Johnny Cash’s guitars will continue to be displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Kingport Times News)
  • Happy Birthday to Country Music Hall of Fame Member, Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Member, and Grammy Award Winner Ray Price. Born Noble Ray Price in Perryville, Texas, on January 12, 1926, the country music will be honored at a reception from 11am until 1pm on his 83rd birthday, Monday, January 12. (via stillisstillmoving.com)

Ray Price Willie Nelson Merle Haggard – Night Life

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD9WuHtq7U8[/youtube]

The Best of 2008 (For Reals)

Propaganda has been honed to a fine art in the last half century. Americans have been convinced to fight wars, hand over civil and employee rights and consume ever crappier beer, food and, alas, music.

Mainstream Country Music is one of the few genres in the 21st century that tolerates no real deviation from certified Music Row and mainstream radio product. Sure there are exceptions, the Outlaw Movement cooped a largely ignored youth movement, Garth tweaked the business model and stage production and Big and Rich and their “MuzikMafia” was a painfully lame attempt to emulate Hip Hop’s concept of crews. But when it comes to altering the DNA of the music the image driven slickness and paint-by-numers narritives seem as tightly mandated as the McDonald’s Big Mac cooking process. If you don’t fit the hat act mold you are cast into the slums of Americana, folk, roots, alt.country or, if the sins were severe enough, rock!

Into this unyielding environment stepped artists that discovered that Cash, Willie and Hank were speaking to them in ways larger then the flavor of the week bands being crammed down their throats. That’s where the wild hillbilly muse dances. That way real beauty and art lay waiting.

Americana/roots/alt.country is attracting new talent that bravely straddles the cultural divide between trad sepia-toned country circa Jimmie Rogers and Carter Family and the current attitudes, sounds and stories of our times. New artists like O’Death, The Felice Bothers, Justin Townes Earle and Star Anna and road-tested warriors like Dale Watson, Eleven Hundred Springs and Tom Russell have Inject new blood, whiskey and adrenaline into a largely lifeless form of music that refuses to be embalmed.

And then there are the genre-crossing big-wigs like  Elvis Costello, Ray Davies, Chrissie Hynde and Robert Plant (who is currently nominated for 6 grammys and forgoing a Led Zeppelin reunion to continue Raising Sand with Bluegrass chanteuse Alison Krauss) that are moving toward a the wildser lands attracted by its proclivity for authenticity and celebration of  experimentation. The only sin is mediocrity, the only transgression is bovine conformity.

There’s no reward for compiling a “best of” list. People will quibble with the selections, the order of said selections will displease many and whether the writer is at all qualified to compile such as list will be questioned. Ridicule and contempt is sure to follow.

I do this to celebrate those that are willing to look past the wanna-be-celebrity choked road paved with pyrite. The Great Ones bent Nashville to their ways or took refuge in other regions far from the industry, Bakersfield California,  Austin Texas, to ply their wares. The Music Row road is not an easy one, it’s just crowded with sheep and the destination is less interesting.

Here’s to the on’ry, ragged, dusty dreamers.

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10) Hank Williams III – “Damn Right, Rebel Proud” (Sidewalk Records) -The man with a country music royalty pedigree, and an arguable entitlement to the moniker “Man In Blacker,” burns the middle-of-the-road with another custom hot-rod release. Amazon | MySpace | Official Site

9) Jamey Johnson – “That Lonesome Song” (Mercury Nashville) -  Jamey Johnson does more than redeem himself for helping to pen Trace Adkins maga-seller Honky Tonk Badonkadonk with this brilliant release born of hard living and a love of Waylon Jennings and George Jones.  Amazon | MySpace | Official Site

8)  Sara Cahoone – “Only As The Day Is Long” (Sub-Pop) – Former rock drummer Cahoone has created a melancholy-shoegaze-Americana masterpiece with her rainy-day ready debut release.  Amazon | MySpace | Sub-Pop

7)  Star Anna – “Crooked Path” (Malamute Records) -  On this smoldering debut of Americana-noir Ellensburg, Washington’s Star Anna Krogstie proves she can hold her own with Lucinda Williams and Neko Case. Her voice seems to be the shear definition of longing and heartache.  Amazon |  MySpace | Official Site

6) Hang Jones – “The Ballad of Carlsbad County” (Self Released) – Hang Jones is the alias for Stephen Grillos and his concept album, set in 1887 New Mexico, takes the typical elements – lust, jealousy, whiskey, gunpowder and blood – and works his gritty magic to deliver a great album.  Amazon |  MySpace | Official Site

5) Luke Powers – “Texasee” (Phoebe Claire) – Powers stated in an interview that Texasee is a study of a mythical place that lies between Nashville and Austin and is done in a style reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah. Sign me up! Writers in the Western genre celebrate a few that are seen as more “literary.”  Powers like Tom Russell, James McMurty, John Prine and Joe Ely, occupies the mirror space in music.  CD Baby | MySpace | Pheobe Claire Site

4) Felice Brothers (Team Love) -From from the Catskill Mountains to the subways of New York city these actual brothers (and a bass player named Christmas) channel the Basement Tapes and spin  magnificently dark tales of desperation and violence. Amazon | MySpace | Official Site

3) O’Death -  “Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin” (Kemado) – New York’s O’Death is a concoction of parts that if mixed any other way would result into a noxious mess.  Appalachian Mountain music,  Gypsy music, Gothic punk, funk and metal, it all just shouldn’t play nice together. On Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin the sounds meld magnificently in a dark and volatile masterpiece.  Amazon | MySpace | Official Site

2) Justin Townes Earle – “The Good Life”  (Bloodshot) -Before technology allowed us to cheat, musicians were the source of musical synthesis, or what is referred to by the hipsters today as mash-ups. Justin Townes Earle harkens back to these aural alchemists and has created a potent blend of 19th century folk, country swing and hillbilly boogie. Overcoming his Daddy’s long musical shadow (and his inclination towards illicit substances) Justin Townes Earle’s first full length release rejoices in heritage while transcending its creators youth.  Amazon | MySpace | Bloodshot Records

1) Eleven Hundred Springs – “Country Jam” (Palo Duro Records) – If you want a crash course in the best Texas country music over the last half-century the 2008 release from Dallas’ ESL would be a great place to start. From the hillbilly poetry of Mickey Newbury and Joe Ely to the Western Swing of Bob Wills to the pop and rock of  Doug Sahm and Buddy Holly all the influences are there.  And though the sounds are reflective of the Texas greats  ESL makes it distinctly their own on this superior homage to the Lone Star State. Amazon | MySpace | Official Site

Honorable Mention:

Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creations Dark
The Whipsaws – 60 Watt Avenue
Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – Cipher
Caitlin Rose -  Dead Flowers
The Power of County  – See You In Rock and Roll Heaven
Lucinda Williams – Little Honey
Kathy Mattea – Coal
The Wildes – Ballad of a Young Married Man
Hayes Carll – Trouble In Mind
Joey + Rory – The Life Of A Song
Kasey Chambers and Shane – Rattlin’ Bones
Ashton Shepherd – Sounds So Good
The Steeldrivers – Self-Titled
Whitey Morgan and the 78’s – Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels