Austin, Texas, the self-professed “lLive Music Capital of the World” has announced “A Night For Austin,” a television and streaming event to raise money for the community of Austin in reaction to the closures and loss due to COVID-19 shutdowns. Produced by Luck Productions. “A Night For Austin” is the brainchild of Grammy legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon and the two hour, commercial-free telethon-style broadcast will start at 8 pm Central on June 10th at anightforaustin.com and twitch.tv/luckreunion. The program will also air locally on CBS Austin (KEYE). A Night For Austin will be powered by Brightcove, the world’s leading video technology platform.
Performances from Simon, Nelson, James Taylor, and more will intertwine with appearances from the likes of Ethan Hawke, Renée Zellweger, Woody Harrelson, and Owen Wilson; all Texans with a strong love for the city and its people. 100% of the money raised will go to a fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation to be distributed directly to MusiCares Austin, HAMM, Central Texas Food Bank, Six Square, Southern Smoke Foundation, Red River Cultural District, and People Fund. Locals will be able to watch “A Night For Austin” on CBS Austin (KEYE). Worldwide, “A Night For Austin” will be streamed on anightforaustin.com and at Luck Reunion’s Twitch channel, complete with a “virtual tip jar”—a direct link to donate throughout the evening. A full, ever-growing list of performers can be found below.
“The coronavirus has completely upended live music in Austin, which is why we must come together to support the industry that makes our city special. Austin Community Foundation is honored to work with Paul Simon to bring much-needed relief to those who rely on the music scene for their livelihood. The funds raised through A Night For Austin will go to nonprofit organizations equipped to help musicians, producers, venue owners, and others persevere through these difficult times,” said Mike Nellis, CEO of Austin Community Foundation.
What: “A Night For Austin” a two hour, commercial-free telethon-style fundraiser
When: June 10th at 8 pm Central
Where: anightforaustin.com/donate, twitch.tv, or locally on CBS Austin (KEYE)
Appearances by: Paul Simon, Edie Brickell, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, John Hiatt, Jerry Douglas, Bonnie Raitt and Boz Scaggs, Ryan Bingham, Black Pumas, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Augie Meyers with Los Texmaniacs, Flaco Jiménez with Los Texmaniacs, Patty Griffin, Alejandro Escovedo, Willie Nelson, Lukus Nelson, Gary Clark Jr., Britt Daniel (Spoon), Jimmie Vaughan and The Tilt-a-Whirl Band, David Ramirez, Charlie Sexton with Doyle Bramhall II, Terry Allen, Norah Jones, James Taylor, Ethan Hawke, Renée Zellweger, Woody Harrelson, and Owen Wilson.
Here’s some of the choicest sections of Americana and roots music for August 23rd, 2019.
Titles are linked to a source to purchase that may contribute to this site and help us keep doing
what we do. Enjoy the great bounty shared by these fine talented folks.
See the full Wanted! – Notable Americana and Roots Music Releases for 2019 list here.
Tanya Tucker – ‘While I’m Livin’ ‘
Vince Gill – ‘Okie’
Dalton Domino – ‘Songs From the Exile’
Jason Hawk Harris – ‘Love & the Dark’
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys – ‘Toil, Tears & Trouble’
Michael Cleveland – ‘Tall Fiddler’
Esther Rose – ‘You Made It This Far’
Leslie Stevens – ‘Sinner’
Croy and the Boys – ‘Howdy High-Rise’
Erin Enderlin – ‘Chapter Three: Whatever Gets You Through The Night’
YouTube member tdcat26 uploaded this video from Ralph Stanley funeral. It gives us an intimate glance of what it was like to be in attendance with all those paying tribute.
Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and Ricky Skaggs were on hand to do the same.
After a beautiful eulogy Vince Gill performs ‘Go Rest High On That Mountain,’ a song Gill began writing in the tragic aftermath of Keith Whitley’s death in 1989, but did not finish the song until a few years later following the death of his older brother Bob, in 1993, of a heart attack.
As in the original recording Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs lend their backing vocals in moving tribute.
In memory Gill said ‘The first time I heard Ralph’s voice it was life-changing. ,,, It was the most mournful, it was the most soulful, and it reached deep inside me more than any other voice I had heard in Bluegrass.”
Patty Loveless remembering her performance of ‘Pretty Polly’ live with Stanley “It means so much to me,,,I had a career but this raised even further.”
When Sony Music Nashville CEO Gary Overton told the Tennessean, “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.” it caused a minor kerfuffle between country music bloggers and country artists, like Aaron Watson and Charlie Robison, that felt they , and country msuic’s integrity, were in his contemptuous crosshairs.
I even took it apon myself to decry Overton’s statement on Twitter and retweet links to essays taking him to task.
But after some reflection, I am willing to concede that Overton is correct in his statement.
Overton made his incendiary remarks while attending the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, where 2,424 attendees, exhibitors, panelists and sponsors came to discuss the future of the industry. That’s the Country Radio industry. Not the roots americana industry. Not the historical preservation of country music.
As with any trade convention quality was not the focus, unless there is a direct line between it and profits.
It’s about return on investment. Period.
No more clear symbol of this was the surprise appearance of Garth Brooks to announced the year’s Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees in both the Radio and On-Air categories.
Whether you like Brooks’ music, or believe he’s the beginning of genre cross-over hell and the end of everything that was good about country music (he wasn’t), with 8 Academy of Country Music awards and a RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) listing of as the best-selling solo album artist of all-time (surpassing Elvis Presley) with 135 million units sold, he is the the gold standard by which radio play, record sales and concert attendance is measured.
Jimmy Rodgers mights be the father of country music, but Garth is it’s first superstar.
This is the ontological existence of which Overton refers. The world made possible by Garth.
When your music is no longer a nuanced craft and becomes a replicable commodity, you exist. If your personality and looks are a marketers dream, you exist. If your income far exceeds the label’s output, you exist. If you’re willing to run that gilded hamster wheel ad infinitum until the end of your short days, you exist.
If you’re willing to use your talents to grease the music row production machine, to achieve potential fame and admiration of millions, you exist.
Short of that piss off.
It’s not all gloom. When an industry behemoth refuses to adapt to customer tastes and industry trends alternatives spring up.
The Nashville Sound led to Buck, Merle , Willie and Waylon. The Urban Cowboy fab resulted in Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett and kd Lang.
Though these rebels were never fully integrated into the machine itself they did send waves into record sales and radio execs had take notice.
Now the so-called Bro-Country fad has Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell rocking the mainstream country boat.
But like McDonalds facing a healthier eating public, or Budweiser facing a less people willing to swill their sun-par product, Music Row can only partially assimilate. The assimilation will also lead to the application of the Garth standard of success, of existence, so songs will be optioned and the same flavorless production sauce will be slathered over extraordinary songs rendering them worthy of mainstream radio play and consumptions of an always shifting, faceless and fickle demographic.
So Overton is correct. By the Garth standard of rendering cultural artifacts into mass consumption radio fodder, most musicians don’t matter. Thier work or image doesn’t fit into the already prefabbed sonic and stylized containers.
But luckily the Garth standard is not the only one that counts.
There the already mentioned Bakersfield /Outlaw standard of creatively seeing untapped opportunities and bucking (hehe) conventional (and played out) trends.
There’s the model of artists like Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Gretchen Peters, Vince Gill, Chris Knight, Guy Clark and others that straddle the commercial and artistry territories without compromise.
There’s the vibrant and thriving Americana model that cultivates and champions the best of country music, and country music sourced genres , new and older talents. And has created a thriving , and lucrative, community.
And then there’s the Hank III model of giving the finger to Music Row and bringing in a whole new demographic from the ground up, to build a loyal, enthusiastic and sustainable fan base.
Some say the Garth standard of mega sales, and celebrity status, is dead, or dying, in a music industry in transition.
I certainly have no crystal ball telling me where all this is headed. But I take comfort is knowing that Overton and his ilk are on their heels as their concept of existence crumbles beneath them.
It’s fashionable to gripe about the current sorry state of contemporary country music and for good reason. In it’s single-minded obsession for hits and radio charting Music Row often appears to be like an Chinese iPad factory (with better clothes.) A casual listen of country music hits from the last 40 years clearly shows that the industry often tilts the cultural scales toward stacks of commerce over the beauty of craft.
Mary Sarah has the looks and the pipes to shoot for the denim and glitter of Country Music stardom. She even toured with the lucrative Kidz Bop franchise as a singer and dancer when she was 12 years old. The lady’s got options
But performing in the Texas near her home in Richmond TX home (outside Houston) put her in a unique position to be steeped in tradition and to meet some of the legends that created that music.
Her upcoming release, “Bridges,” is a collection iconic songs done as duets with the legends that made them famous. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Vince Gill, recorded over the last two-and-a-half years.
“I never imagined that singing these songs in the Texas Oprys would lead to one day recording them with some of the greatest country legends of our time,” Mary Sarah says. “Working on this album and with these legends has changed my life. Not only did I learn more about traditional country music, it has led me to have a clearer vision of what I want to accomplish in country music.”
That doesn’t sound like a crass money grab to grease the path to maga-stardom. It does sound like a smart move in a genre starving for substance to set herself up for longevity and, dare I say, a shot as legend.
Yes, Loretta there is hope for Music City.
“Bridges” is expected to be released in early April.
“Bridges” track listing
“Jolene” with Dolly Parton
“Crazy” with Willie Nelson
“Fightin’ Side of Me” with Merle Haggard
“Heartaches by the Number” with Ray Price
“What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life” with Ronnie Milsap
“Texas, When I Die” with Tanya Tucker
“Rose Garden” with Lynn Anderson
“Go Rest High on That Mountain” with Vince Gill
“Dream On” with the Oak Ridge Boys
All I Wanna Do Is Sing My Song” with Freddy Powers
“Where the Boys Are” with Neil Sedaka
“My Great Escape” with Big & Rich (original song)
“I’m Sorry” (solo version of Brenda Lee classic)
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Science held their big to-do to announce a few of the nominees for the next round of the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards. The choices in the Americana and roots categories again display an appreciation of some of the veterans of the genre and the roots they represent.
Collaborations reigned in the Best Americana Album category. Emmylou Harris may add another trophy to the 12 GRAMMYS she a lead has on her mantel with “Old Yellow Moon,” her duet collaboration Hot Band guitarist and legendary singer-songwriter , Rodney Crowell. Steve Martin & Edie Brickell are nominated for “Love Has Come For You,” their first joint effort and Americana stalwarts Buddy Miller And Jim Lauderdale are up for their “Buddy And Jim.” Mavis Staples , who won for Best Americana Album in 2011 is up for “One True Vine.” Legendary composer, producer, performer Allen Toussaint intimate and live deliberation of his new New York City home “Songbook” rounds out the list
Nominees for Best American Roots Song include another new New York resident (By way of Texas) Sarah Jarosz for the title cut of her third studio release, “Build Me Up From Bones.” Steve Earle snagged a spot for “Invisible,” his song focused on the homeless and indigent, from his latest “The Low Highway.” Old partners reconvene to gain a spot with Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott’s “Keep Your Dirty Lights On” from their Memories and Moments. Best Americana Album nominees Edie Brickell & Steve Martin is nominated for the title cut “Love Has Come For You” and Allen Toussaint for “Shrimp Po-Boy, Dressed.”
There are no slackers in a bluegrass band, and Best Bluegrass Album nominees are some of the best in the field. A nice surprise was the choice for newcomers Della Mae’s nomination for their sophomore release “This World Oft Can Be” Members of The Boxcars have collected numerous IBMA and GRAMMY Awards and have shared the stage with legends so it’s no surprise that their third album “It’s Just A Road” was nominated. Though Harlan Howard was referring to country music when he coined the term “…three chords and the truth.” James King and his cracker-Jack band adopted it as the title for their first GRAMMY-nominated album. Veterans Dailey & Vincent (Jamie Dailey (guitar, bass, vocals), Darrin Vincent (mandolin, guitar, bass, vocals)) are up for their 3rd GRAMMY Award nomination for their sixth release “Brothers Of The Highway” and the Del McCoury Band nabbed a nomination for their 14th release “The Streets Of Baltimore.” Del and the band won in the category in 2006 for “The Company We Keep.”
Roots music greatness continued with the Best Folk Album category, whose boundaries blur so much with Best Americana Album category that any performer from either side could swap with a perfumer from the other and few people would notice. Patriarch singer/songwriter Guy Clark grabbed his 6th nomination for his latest “My Favorite Picture Of You.” The Greencards received their 3rd GRAMMY nomination for their sixth studio album “Sweetheart Of The Sun” and Sarah Jarosz is up for her 2nd nomination for “Build Me Up From Bones.” Newcomer favorites The Milk Carton Kids are on the list for their current “The Ash & Clay.” “They All Played For Us: Arhoolie Records 50th Anniversary Celebration,” the roots-rich benefit
in tribute to the Arhoolie Foundation, and the 50th anniversary of Arhoolie Records, is also included.
Music Row continues to show some interest in Americana-leaning performers with country newcomer
Kacey Musgraves up for Best New Artist, Best Country album (Same Trailer, Different Park) andBest Country Snog (“Merry Go ‘Round”.) Best Country Duo/Group Performance category features The Civil Wars for “From This Valley, ” Kelly Clarkson Featuring Vince Gill for “Don’t Rush” and Kenny Rogers With Dolly Parton for “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”
Other nominations honoring Americana and roots artists are the soundtrack for “Muscle Shoals”, nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.
Root-rock pioneer Neil Young, with his band Crazy Horse, is looking to garner this third GRAMMY win with “Psychedelic Pill” for Best Rock Album
Multiple GRAMMY winner, and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, folksinger Pete Seeger received a GRAMMY nomination for “The Storm King,” in the category of Best Spoken Word Album.
Uncle Tupelo / Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy is up for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for his work with Mavis Staples, Low and Sarah Lee Guthrie And Johnny Irion.
Alabama Shakes is up for Best Rock Performance (“Always Alright”) Jack White for Best Rock Performance (“I’m Shakin'”) Neko Case for Best Alternative Music Album (The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight…) and Mumford & Sons are nominated for Best Boxed or Special Edition Limited Package, Best Music Film (The Road to Red Rocks)
After the nominations were announced twitter was abuzz with folks pointing out a glaring oversight of Jason Isbell’s “Southeastern” for Best Americana Album. The album is on all Americana and roots music end of year lists.
Isbell took to twitter to address with humor the snub,”Don’t worry guys, I’ll get plenty of noms. There’s a Chipotle right across the street from the hotel! #NOM”
“Don’t worry guys, I’ll get plenty of noms. There’s a Chipotle right across the street from the hotel! #NOM”
Congratulations to them all the nominees. Keep an eye on GRAMMY.com and on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/P on on January 26, 2014 to see who wins.
Best Americana Album:
Old Yellow Moon — Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Love Has Come For You — Steve Martin & Edie Brickell
Buddy And Jim — Buddy Miller And Jim Lauderdale
One True Vine — Mavis Staples
Songbook — Allen Toussaint
Best American Roots Song
“Build Me Up From Bones” Sarah Jarosz, songwriter (Sarah Jarosz) Label: Sugar Hill Records
“Invisible” – Steve Earle, songwriter (Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses)) Label: New West Records
“Keep Your Dirty Lights On” Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott, songwriters (Tim O’Brien And Darrell Scott) Label: Full Skies Records
“Love Has Come For You” – Edie Brickell & Steve Martin, songwriters (Steve Martin & Edie Brickell) Label: Rounder; Publishers: LA Films Music/Brick Elephant Music
“Shrimp Po-Boy, Dressed” Allen Toussaint, songwriter (Allen Toussaint) Label: Rounder; Publishers: Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc/Marsaint Music, Inc.
Best Bluegrass Album
“It’s Just A Road” — The Boxcars
“Brothers Of The Highway” — Dailey & Vincent
“This World Oft Can Be” — Della Mae
“Three Chords And The Truth” — James King
“The Streets Of Baltimore” — Del McCoury Band
Best Folk Album
“My Favorite Picture Of You” — Guy Clark
“Sweetheart Of The Sun” — The Greencards
“Build Me Up From Bones” — Sarah Jarosz
“The Ash & Clay” — The Milk Carton Kids
“They All Played For Us: Arhoolie Records 50th Anniversary Celebration” — (Various Artists) Chris Strachwitz, producer
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“From This Valley” — The Civil Wars
“Don’t Rush” — Kelly Clarkson Featuring Vince Gill
“You Can’t Make Old Friends” — Kenny Rogers With Dolly Parton
Artists/albums of interest to the Americana community, nominated in other categories:
Neil Young With Crazy Horse – Best Rock Album (“Psychedelic Pill”)
Pete Seeger – “The Storm King” (Best Spoken Word Album)
Muscle Shoals – Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media
Jeff Tweedy – Producer of the Year, Non-Classical (Invisible Way (Low) • One True Vine (Mavis Staples) (A) • Wassaic Way (Sarah Lee Guthrie And Johnny Irion))
Kacey Musgraves – Best New Artist, Best Country Artist (Same Trailer, Different Park), Best Country Snog (“Merry Go ‘Round”)
Alabama Shakes – Best Rock Performance (“Always Alright”)
Jack White – Best Rock Performance (“I’m Shakin'”)
Neko Case – Best Alternative Music Album (The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight…)
Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower – Best Children’s Album (Blue Clouds)
Mumford & Sons – Best Boxed or Special Edition Limited Package, Best Music Film (The Road to Red Rocks)
Last night’s George Jones tribute held in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena featured 40 performances honoring The Possum by artists , many of home, might not be where they are without him.
Jamey Johnson, Jim Lauderdale, Shooter Jennings and his mom Jessi Colter, Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks, George Strait and Alan Jackson – they all played on honor of the “greatest voice in country music.”
Billboard has a nice post on the event featuring a list of all performances.
Not sure of there’s going to be a formal network showing or DVD release of the event, but The Triggerman from Saving Country Music informed me via Twitter that “….they (the event producers) were broadcasting video feed outside and there was a camera crew, so we know the footage exists.”
That’s great news, but until that day I will post fan-made videos below.
Eric Lee Beddingfield, Mandy Barnett, Teea Goans, Chad Warrix, Greg Bates – “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”
Tommy Shaw (Styx) – “She Thinks I Still Care”
Vince Gill – “Bartender’s Blues”
Oak Ridge Boys – “Same Ole Me”
Marina McBride & George Strait – “Golden Ring”
Jamey Johnson – “Tennessee Whiskey”
Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert – “These Days I Barely Get By”
One of he bloodiest periods in American history, the Civil War (or the War of Northern Aggression as it’s often referred to south of the Mason/Dixon,) left deep and lingering cultural wounds in the nation’s psyche. These scare are often picked at by the ignorant, the malicious and those depraved enough to exploit them for power.
It’s said that music as a healing and uniting force. I believe it can be. Like Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 watershed release, “Will the Circle be Unbroken, Movie soundtrack producer Randall Poster’s “Divided and United – Songs of the American Civil War” beings together generations of country and roots musicians to interpret’s songs from both sides of the conflict.
Legends abound on “Divided and United.” Loretta Lynn’s take on “Take Your Gun and Go, John” is a stark with Lynn’s accompanied by banjo and fiddle. Her Southern lilt put an odd twist on this popular Union call to arms.
Del McCoury and Ricky Skaggs conjure bluegrass magic on the lost love lament “Lorena” and the bloody tale of brothers-in-arms “Two Soldiers,” respectively.
New blood represents the past equal aplomb. Sam Amidon’s gives a spirited performance on Joseph Philbrick Webster’s 1860 composition “Wildwood Flower” and new Opry inductees Old Crow Medicine Show give passionate performance on the globally popular “Marching Through Georgia,” though their double-time conclusion would have troops marching right past their destination.
Dirk Powell and Steve Earle trade off dutifully on the “Just Before the Battle, Mother Farewell, Mother” and makes me wish that Earle would tackle more music in this vein. Vince Gill’s expressive voice brings out the innate melancholy of a drummer boy fatally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg on “For The Dear Old Flag, I Die.”
Charleston duo Shovels & Rope give a woozy ramshackle rendition of, naturally, “The Fall of Charleston.” John Doe’s cajun flair to “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground” and it’s ground-level account of loss and battle.
A collection like this wouldn’t be complete without the presence off T Bone Burnett, But instead of his usual shepherding of the effort he lends his halting voice to recounting the single bloodiest event in American history on “The Battle of Antietam.”
In many ways “Divided and United” tills the same ground as Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 watershed release, “Will the Circle be Unbroken.” Ages-old, deeply rooted, American music draws together generations in common reverence and celebration. This wonderful collection has the added dimension of addressing past scars and bringing just a little humility, understanding and empathy.
While attending the Americana conference and Festival in Nashville I took some time to head roughly 25 miles south to Franklin TN to chat with South Carolina singer Julie Roberts. I arrive at a house in a quitter residential neighborhood ringside by farms (I know, I took a wrong turn and was lucky enough to see their beauty.) The house was a single-story pleasant homes any where any family might dwell. But as Roberts sweetly welcomes my arrival I enter a state of the art music studio with all the tech and instruments (bedroom set of as a drum room) to make a hit album.
Julie hopes her new release “Good Wine and Bad Decisions” is a hit record.
Of course the lady knows a thing or two about a hit record.
Roberts burst into the mainstream country music spotlight in 2004 with there hit “Break Down Here,” which reached #18 on the Country chart. That song was from her self-titled Mercury debut. That and the follow up, “Men & Mascara,” hit the top 10 of the Country Albums chart. Her new alum, “Good Wine and Bad Decisions” is her first release in seven years and it’s a sea change for the artist bit in style and in approach to a industry
When asked about her time on Music Row, and her albums made there, Roberts says “There was a big difference between the first record and the second record sonically. on the first one we would just come to the studio like this home studio and it; was just me and Brent (Rowan), my producer. Nobody came around until we were done. We were able to focus on our vision, on the music.
“For the second record (Men & Mascara) we worked on Music Row and people were around all the time and it was kind of nerve-racking. it’s hard not to want to please people. People pleasing is a part of my personality i’m trying to change (She laughs – Roberts laughs like she songs, full-throated and unguarded.)
“After the second record i moved to L.A. to work with Lifetime on a story of my life , around my life with my mama and our time in South Carolina. moving to Nashville. There was also the story of me working for Luke (Lewis, then the head of Mercury Nashville Records) that we thought would be a good story. So while in L.A. I was working with Tom Rickman who wrote the screenplay for Coal Miner’s Daughter for Loretta Lynn. So I had to move to L.A. so he could get to know me. After a year of living out there, and taking acting lessons, I realized I had spent all my life savings on L.A. rent!”
“I called Luke and told him I was ready to come back to Nashville and record my third record which would have some of the songs that were to be featured in the movie. The heads of Lifetime kept changing the date of the movie’s release. Luke thought the album wouldn’t be as strong without the movie so he shelved the album. Sometimes it takes a year to make a movie in Hollywood. Sometimes it takes ten. I had no idea what category I was in! Luke said he wasn’t going to release the album without the movie. So I asked him to let me go, I wanted to make music. And he said “yes.” I still owed him more records, but we had a history, we’re still friends. Leaving Universal was done on good terms.”
“The same week that I left, the Nashville flood came (May 2010) and we lost our home, everything. So the rest of that year I stayed Nashville rebuilding our lives. I live with my mom and my sister. While working on the house I started with Jason (Collum), my band leader since 2006, to release my first independent album “Alive” as well as my Christmas Album “Who Needs Mistletoe” (both in 2011.) This was really great for me because i was able to make music while dealing with rebuilding our lives.”
“Also during that time, I came out publicly that I had MS. I was diagnosed in 2005 but kept it quiet. There’s a lot of misconceptions about what that can mean and what you can do. And I was afraid.”
“I had everything I had always dreamed of. My mom with me, a happy home and a record deal in Nashville. We came from a not so happy place, My daddy was an alcoholic. That may be part of the reason I love country music. I can relate to a lot of it.”
“It was a really difficult time but I needed to be honest with my fans and tell them about my MS. they needed to know what I’m going through and that I’m doing great. I take medication, I work out, I eat right. But now I feel it’s part of my purpose to keep making music and following your dreams even in the face of adversity.”
Roberts works with the Muscular Dystrophy Association The Multiple Sclerosis Association Of America to raise awareness and money by performing at local events. She also receives letters from other folks with MS that hold her as an inspiration. “I got a letter from a single mom who read one of my Facebook posts. She said she was going back to night school to be a teacher.” I feel like this is a part of my new path.”
“I try and do what I can. Golf charity events. Wine events. I like wine! (laughs) There was an amazing wine event and we played it. We made a lot of money for the National Muscular Dystrophy Association. We work a lot with the local Nashville chapter too. I do what I can. I want people to see that MS is a part of me.”
Her destiny with the legendary Sun Records was a path of fortuitous circumstance. Sun had been working with Nashville-based Make Noise Management, licensing its expansive, extraordinary catalog for film and TV advertising. The Vice President of Sun, Collin Brace, had been leading the way for branch expansion and was searching for opportunities. Under his direction Sun has made deals with Converse, Mercedes-Benz as well as a series of Sun Sessions, live performances recorded in the famed memphis studio by musicians like Justin Townes Earle and Grace Potter.
CEO of Make Noise Management, Josh Collum, recalls discussions with Brace around bringing in a new artist (the first in decades) to reboot Sun. “We had been talking to Collin about reviving the label under a new artist instead of it just being in the business of licensing , which is good business, but it’s not brining in new talent. well, the stars aligned and Julie freed up from a few things and John (Singleton. He along with his brother, the late Shelby Singleton, have owned Sun since the late 1960s) loved her. He got behind it 110% in June, and we’ve been on a roller coaster since then getting the label turned back on. We started making the record and here we are 6 weeks out from release. ”
When asked how it feels to be the contemporary face of the label that launched the careers of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and other legends Roberts doesn’t hesitate.
“It’s exciting, but there’s definitely pressure. All those great artists. And each one unique in their own music. I’m proud that this record, “Good Wine And Bad Decisions,” is my music and unique to me. I put everything I had into this record and I think it’ll stand up to their legacy.”
“I think it’s humbling. When we first went to meet John at Sun with Julie we were sitting in that office. At the end of the meeting Julie and John got up and shook hands and John said “Welcome to Sun records. At that point it go real.” Collum, whose been sitting by us, adds.
Julie remembers it a little differently. “It was a really surreal moment for me. Before the meeting I had been looking at these plaques from all these amazing artists. I was amazed. But at the end of the meeting John actually hugged me, he didn’t shake my hand (That laugh!) Which is even better! Then he said “Welcome to the Sun Records family.” It brought tears to my eyes ”
“When we were planning the record John asked me to look through the catalog to see of there was anything I wanted to use for the record. There was a lot to consider. We wanted to choose something that fit and hadn’t been covered a lot. Josh gave me a hard drive of about 10,000 songs. As I was going through them John sent me an email recommending the song “He Made a Woman Out of Me” (first cut by Rita Remington and later by Bobbie Gentry) I just loved it. I thought it fit my type and I loved that he thought of me for the song.”
The song is cued up. It’s a pop-swampy number that reminiscent of another storied studio, Muscle Shoals. There’s a groove that hangs like a humid night as Julie wraps her powerful voice around this, sultry Southern risqué tale of backwoods coming of age. I look over at Julie, she’s intently listening, but she’s smiling.
Buddy Miller, Vice Gill and harmonica virtuoso Mickey Raphael all make appearances on “Good Wine And Bad Decisions.” I’ve always been a fan of Buddy. Julie Miller wrote “I Can’t Get Over You” from my first album. We had been covering Buddy’s “”Gasoline and Matches” on the road for a couple of years. When we asked him to song on it for the record he remembered my version of Julie’s song and said he loved it and would honored to sing on it.
“Vince Gill sang on two tracks on my first record and we sent him “Old Strings’ and told him I’d love for him to sing on it if he liked it. And he did.” ‘We asked Willis harmon a player, Mickey Raphael , to play “If I Were You” and he was awesome. Just knowing what he’s done. We knew he had played I’n town with Amos Lee and we figured out we reached out and asked him to play on the cut. ‘ This makes me wonder who says no to this woman. When I ask her she just laughs (!)
Julie tells me about the next song “Old Habit “I wrote the song for my Mom. She’s dated this guy since moving to Nashville, they go out on Saturday nights. One Saturday I asked if she was going on a date that night and she said “No, I think I’m going to tell hime I can’t.” She said “I never hear from him the rest of the week and I’n starting to feel like an old habit.” That was it. A song was born “Thanks mom!”
When I mention that music row and mainstream county radio will probably not be receptive to “Good Wine And Bad Decisions” more retie and soulful sound. As far as I could tell there was not one tail-gating song on the whole album! Collum says with a grin “There is a definite edge to the record. This is defiantly not a mainstream record. This is more Americana than it is Music Row. From a strategy point of view we are looking forward to kicking their ass by not playing by the rules.”
“This album is important to me. It’s very personal and I’m very proud of it. I can’t wait to take these songs on the road and share them with my fans.”
Roberts was always too genuine to last on Music Row and I believe that “Good Wine and Bad Decisions” will be welcomed by her life-long fans, and find new fans of great, soulful roots music.