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The reach of Clear Channel radio’s country music flagship personality was extended again this week when it was announced Bobby Bones will make his entrance into yet another major American market, shoving more local morning talent aside in favor of syndicated national radio. Clear Channel station WMZQ in Washington D.C. will now feature Bobby Bones in the mornings, bringing the amount of radio stations broadcasting his show to 60, and the estimated count of potential listeners of The Bobby Bones Show to 60 million.
Bobby Bones replaces local personality “Boxer” whose local radio show ran on WMZQ in the mornings and was beloved by many local radio listeners, not just for his on-air personality, but through his work with his non-profit, Boxer’s Kids. The Boxer show will be moved to the less-desirable midday slot. “Boxer…I’ve been listening for almost 3yrs and you are an awesome morning person…I will miss you and will not be listening to syndicates…” posted one Boxer fan on the show’s Facebook page. Another fan posted, “Just heard Boxer is moving, he and Ally wake me up and get me through my morning commute.”
The replacement of Boxer by Bobby Bones is a narrative playing out all across the United States as the two major radio station owners of Clear Channel and Cumulus implement more nationalized programming and reduce the local color of the radio waves in the midst of a media arms race heating up in country music.
Late last month at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, a research study conducted by Edison Research found that “Country radio – radio – is in the fight of its life,” and that voicetracked, or non-live and non-local shows as part of radio consolidation are “essentially a disaster for the radio industry” according to Edison Research’s Larry Rosin. “It’s never been more important to play up live and local,” Edison Research’s Jane Charneski also said as part of the seminar, yet Clear Channel’s implementation of syndicated programming continues stronger than ever. Clear Channel lost $309 million in the last quarter, compared to a $191 million loss in the same quarter the year before.
As a continuation of the feud that Clear Channel flagship DJ Bobby Bones got into with Kacey Musgraves in January, the radio personality has posted a new video purportedly pouring his heart out to the Grammy winner and wanting to patch things up, going as far as evoking the name of Cancer to try and find some sort of conclusion to the feud. “It would mean a lot to me if you came and played ‘Joy’ week, which is all about choosing joy over fighting Cancer,” Bobby says in a crude video taken at the Madison, Wisconsin airport, with Bobby slouched back in a leather chair, engrossed in a big green jacket.
Aside from the poor syntax of alluding that anyone would choose anything over fighting Cancer, the new video once again shows Bobby’s tendency to place blame on others while framing it in the context of an apology, to believe that as a DJ he’s somehow an equal to the artists he covers and deserves their acknowledgement and friendship, while throwing the big ‘C’ ball into Kacey’s court so if she doesn’t respond or acquiesce, then she’s somehow the big bitch.
The unpleasantness between Kacey and Bobby all began on November 5th, 2013, the day before the 2013 CMA Awards. Musgraves was interviewed by Bones as part of a pre-awards production, and the interview lasted roughly 1 1/2 minutes. But the full interview never aired on The Bobby Bones Show. Bobby took about 20 seconds of the interview, and used it as part of a segment he called, “Is Kacey Musgraves Annoyed?” The segment basically lampoons Kacey as being rude, uninterested, and awkward. Later Bones attempted to reach out to Musgraves through Twitter, and when she didn’t respond, Bones became belligerent (a recurring theme with the DJ and Twitter), and called Musgraves (and himself) a “shit head.”
When Bones wouldn’t get the hint that Kacey wanted nothing to do with him, she finally said in part, “I am a songwriter and a musician. That’s what I’ve been passionate about my entire life and it’s really sad that the focus got taken away from that. Above all- I’m human. Not a robot. I don’t stroke egos and that doesn’t make me a “shit head.” When you hear the music that means so much to me to make, that’s all that should matter.”
What seems to be fundamentally alluding Bobby Bones is that Kacey Musgraves wants nothing to do with him, and furthermore, doesn’t see any reason why she should have to, while Bones apparently believes it is his right to be heard and acknowledged by Kacey, or some injustice has been done. Maybe Kacey will decide to make an appearance on his show, and maybe the two will patch things up. And if that’s the case, it will be Kacey being the bigger person. But if Kacey knew best, she would continue to ignore him, and if Bobby knew best, he would honor Kacey’s wishes of being left alone and move on.
If you listen to the rhetoric of country music’s major labels or the executives of country radio’s biggest companies, most will tell you all is rosy on the country radio front. But the research tends to always be on the side of country music fans sounding the warning bells that the genre has strayed too far away from its roots, and is being unresponsive to the wishes and tastes of a wide swath of the country music listening demographic. Such was the case in 2012 when an Edison Research study concluded that listeners want more classic country on radio. Edison Research’s Larry Rosin as part of the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville said,
“I believe that we as an industry have really made a mistake in our conception of our own stations. While many people don’t want to listen to classic country music, some still do, and we’ve let them float away…We run the risk that we just are more and more pleasing to fewer and fewer people until all we are is ecstatically pleasing a tiny, unsustainable number of people.”
This year at the Country Radio Seminar, Larry Rosin was once again sounding the warning bells about the viability of country music on the radio moving forward in the face of rapid consolidation, the evaporation of local and live programming, and the emergence of new technologies and services competing with radio like Spotify and smart phones.
Though things are looking very good for country music in general, country radio is another case according to Rosin and Edison Research. Despite 77% of people agreeing that “Country music is a significant part of American culture,” and 73% of people agreeing that “Country music is becoming more popular,” Larry Rosin says that “Country radio – radio – is in the fight of its life,” and that voicetracked, or non-live and non-local shows are “essentially a disaster for the radio industry.”
Why? Because country music’s demographics are becoming much younger as the format moves away from the more traditional sound of the genre. Edison Research found that the amount of 12 to 34-year-olds listening to country music positively surged in 2013 from 12% to 27%. But since millenials are more likely to consume their music through technological alternatives to traditional over-the-air radio, the future looks grim for the format. As country radio is abandoning older demographics in favor of a new sound, and the fans of the new sound are abandoning the radio format in favor of new technologies, the amount of people country radio appeals to is getting slimmer by the minute.
Another very interesting statistic Edison Research found is that 62% of people believe “too many country songs sound the same,” once again calling concern to country music’s current trend of male-dominated laundry list or “bro country” songs and the limited amount of songwriters writing the majority of country music’s current hits.
The accumulative conclusions of Edison Research speak to what Saving Country Music and other critics of country music’s current trajectory have been saying for years: that country music is amidst a sugar rush of popularity that is statistically unsustainable and may result in not just creative, but economic burnout of the format in the coming future, especially on radio. So what can be done about it?
According to Larry Rosin and Edison Research, country radio needs to “double and redouble” its efforts to feature live and local shows. The reason is because research into the listening habits and desires of country music’s growing millenial population says that they favor buying local, and they like local personalities as part of their music listening experience. On-air personalities and programming custom made for local tastes and local listeners is the strategic advantage radio has over services like Spotify and Pandora. “It’s never been more important to play up live and local,” says Edison Research’s Jane Charneski.
But of course, this is the exact opposite of what is happening with country radio. Amidst a country music media arms race, the two biggest radio station owners in America—Clear Channel and Cumulus—are fighting it out for who can feature the best nationalized programming under the premise that it is cheaper to pay one DJ and distribute them across your entire radio network as opposed to paying local DJ’s at every radio station the company owns. But once again, this is just feeding the American consumer’s flight from traditional radio. Though companies like Clear Channel are dramatically cutting costs through their consolidation efforts, the company reported a $309 million loss in the last quarter, compared to a $191 million loss in the same quarter the year before. So not only is it bad for radio’s big consolidators, it’s getting worse.
It all is enough to leave the country music radio consumer baffled as to why anyone thinks the idea of radio consolidation will work. Dissent against radio for abandoning country music’s traditional roots, for leaving behind local programming, and for trying to make money by cutting costs instead of trying to appeal to more consumers is not just a matter of taste or opinion. It is clear through specific statistics and research that these things are eroding country radio’s long-term foundation, and the only way to stop it and to retain the solvency of country radio itself is to reverse course.
This week in Nashville is the annual CRS or Country Radio Seminar where executives and personalities in country radio gather with executives and artists in the country music industry to hobnob, network, and attend workshops and presentations about the direction and future of radio and country music. This year the backdrop of CRS most certainly will be the Country Music Media Arms Race breaking out in 2014 (see more about this below).
Bits of interesting news about the country music radio industry tend to trickle out of CRS week, like a couple of years ago when an Edison Research study concluded that country listeners wanted more classic country on the radio. Edison Research President Larry Rosin said at the time, “I believe that we as an industry have really made a mistake in our conception of our own stations. While many people don’t want to listen to classic country music, some still do, and we’ve let them float away…We run the risk that we just are more and more pleasing to fewer and fewer people until all we are is ecstatically pleasing a tiny, unsustainable number of people.”
Scott Borchetta Quizzically Compares Big Machine Music to a Ferrari, not McDonald’s.
Even before the CRS events got started in earnest Monday evening, many interesting pieces of information about radio and country music emerged in the run up to CRS. Big Machine Records’ Scott Borchetta had the most puzzling quote, choosing a strange, if not unfortunate analogy to compare his label’s music to when explaining why he chooses to delay releasing music from artists like Taylor Swift and Justin Moore on Spotify and other streaming services until months after the release date has passed. Borchetta told The Tennessean:
“I’m not McDonald’s. I’m not 1 billion served. I’m much more in favor of building a Harley-Davidson or a Ferrari and take that 1 or 2 percent of the population who love what we do and super-serve them.”
It seems like that analogy needs to be flip flopped, but big power players like Borchetta, and their ability to control the market with landmark deals with Clear Channel and others entities will certainly be one of the big topics at CRS 2014.
Why Radio Still Matters
Every time Saving Country Music broaches the subject of country radio, the alternatives such as satellite and streaming services are brought up as evidence of why radio doesn’t matter anymore. Though radio may not matter to a specific consumer, when it comes to the research, the experts, and to the culture and listeners in country music specifically, radio is still by far the most dominant format, especially for consumers to discover new music.
“Time and time again when studies are done, broadcast radio remains the No. 1 source for discovering new music,” Broken Bow Records executive Jon Loba told The Tennessean ahead of CRS. “Radio is still 80-plus percent of your music exposure. One thing I remind staff at least once a month in an artist development meeting when we are focusing on other mediums of exposure that are important — streaming, or press for TV, or whatever else — I try not to let everyone get in the weeds with that. Radio is still the primary form of exposing new music.”
Despite dramatic growth in music streaming across the board, just like with the transition from CD’s to downloads, country music is lagging behind other genres in the changeover, allowing country radio to continue to hold onto its power over consumers. As Nate Rau writing for The Tennessean explains:
“An analysis of music streaming data for 2013 shows that, despite growing noticeably, country still lags behind the other genres. Of the top 10,000 streamed songs last year, 28 percent were rock songs, 28 percent were hip-hop/R&B songs, 19 percent were pop songs and 8 percent were country songs, according to Nielsen data. But on traditional radio, country music outranks all other genres as the most popular format.”
Radio Losing Its Autonomy From Record Labels
Whereas in the past many radio stations were independently or regionally owned and their charge was to serve their communities with music, now that radio consolidation has put the majority of radio stations in the hands of a few select companies, principally Clear Channel and Cumulus, the point of radio in many instances is not to serve communities, but to serve record labels. As Broken Bow’s Jon Loba explains:
“When I got into the business, at my first CRS in 1997, I remember radio stations saying, ‘It is not our job to sell records. Our job is to keep listeners tuned in to our station. That is it. If we happen to sell records as a byproduct, that’s fantastic, but it’s not our job.’ [Now] there’s a much more symbiotic relationship, not just in words, but actually in action. CBS and Clear Channel both are taking the time to say very proactively, ‘We want to help you highlight your priorities, we want to help you sell records. We know healthy record labels are a large part of our business.’
The Country Music Media Arms Race is Heating Up
Similar to how all popular music is coalescing into one or two huge mega-genres or mono-genre, the media that covers and serves country music fans in radio, print, online, television, and social formats is consolidating around two big media players: Clear Channel & Cumulus—the two largest radio station owners in the United States, supported by partnering or gobbling up other important players in the country music media realm.
In December of 2013, word came down that Clear Channel had cut a deal with CMT to create nationally-focused country music programming to be distributed across the 125 country radio stations owned by the company, as well as some digital and television platforms. This move was in response to Cumulus, the 2nd-largest radio station owner in the United States behind Clear Channel, which had created its own national syndicated format earlier in 2013 under the NASH-FM brand, serving 70 separate radio markets.
Then Cumulus matched Clear Channel’s cross-media move by partnering with the long-running magazine Country Weekly to migrate the NASH-FM brand into print and online media. Announced in late January, Country Weekly in the next couple of quarters will become NASH Weekly. Cumulus has also registered nashweekly.com, and is expected to make an online presence for the NASH brand a focus. Then yesterday, even more ventures and partnerships were announced from Cumulus, including a television station, live concerts and events, even potentially restaurants and consumer products will be part of the massive NASH brand expansion.
Personalities and cross-platform promotion are what is driving the media arms race. CMT’s Cody Alan who now also appears in Clear Channel’s syndicated radio network can do an interview with a big country star, and use that interview both on television and in radio, transcribe it for print and/or online media, and promote it through both company’s social networks. However there are obvious trappings to having one or two companies control all of country music’s media.
“From the record company standpoint, it is absolutely more efficient and cost-effective with respect to reaching a larger audience in one shot,” says Broken Bow’s Jon Loba. “But it can also be somewhat scary in that there are fewer voices and opinions being heard out there.”
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What’s for certain is that in 2014, country music media will go through the biggest paradigm shift in the genre’s history, touching every facet of how consumers engage with country music, and creating two massive companies who will dominate the media landscape, partnering with the country music recording industry and blurring lines between covering music and creating music like never before.
Clear Channel, the largest radio provider in the US, just struck a massive deal with CMT, a division of Viacom, to create national country music programming to be distributed across 125 country radio stations owned by Clear Channel, as well as some digital and television platforms. The move is meant to match a similar national syndicated format created by the second-biggest radio provider in the US, Cumulus, who launched the NASH-FM national country network on 70 separate radio stations earlier this year.
The historic deal means more programming will be created on a national level, and distributed to local stations. Though Clear Channel says the new deal will be good for local radio stations because it will give them access to national-caliber talent and programming through their syndicated network that local stations would otherwise not have access to, the move continues the trend for radio to lose its local and regional flavor in favor of programming catering to a national audience.
Cumulus insists that stations in its NASH-FM network are able to choose how much or how little of the national programming they wish to run, allowing local program directors an element of control over preserving the local flavor of a station. But there’s no word on whether the Clear Channel network will give its stations similar latitude.
No word yet either if the move will mean the loss of jobs by local DJ’s similar to when Clear Channel slashed local talent in favor of national programming in October of 2011, but CMT personality Cody Alan has been announced as the host for the syndicated radio show “After MidNite” scheduled to start in January.
What the CMT/Clear Channel deal also means is not only a consolidation of programming across multiple radio markets, but also across multiple media platforms. With CMT programming crossing into radio, and vice versa, and digital media formats also getting into the game, the homogenization of country music media can only continue to increase, effecting not just the local programming of radio stations, but also the local artists who rely on radio play to either get their start on a national career, or sustain a local one.
Sometimes you just have to stop pontificating so much about music and just play it. That is what the Saving Country Music Radio podcast is for. Even if you have no time or desire to listen, please pilfer the playlist for ideas for what we’re listening to right now. This episode is co-hosted by Earl Dibbles Jr. (well, sort of), who just released a new single, and prominently features my favorite new album, Eric Strickland’s Honky Tonk Till I Die, as well as songs from albums SCM has reviewed recently, and others we hope to get to soon.
Thanks for listening and remember….
It’s all about the music!
- Eric Strickland – 18 Wheels of Hell on the Highway – from Honky Tonk Till I Die
- Marty Stuart – Hollywood Boogie – from Nashville, Vol. 1 – Tear The Woodpile Down
- Sara Watkins – The Foothills – from Sun Midnight Sun
- The Turnpike Troubadours – Gone, Gone, Gone – from Goodbye Normal St.
- Joseph Huber – Fell Off The Wagon – from Tongues of Fire
- Tom VandenAvond – Wreck of a Fine Man – from Wreck of a Fine Man
- Lee Baines & The Glory Fires – Reba – from There’s a Bomb in Gillead
- Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg – Chevrolet – from Painkillers
- Earl Dibbles Jr. – The Country Boy Song
- Marty Stuart & Hank3 – Pictures from Life’s Other Side – from Nashville, Vol. 1 – Tear The Woodpile Down
- Tillford Sellers & The Wagon Burners – Sippy’s Lament – from Heartaches, Lies and Cheating Songs
- McDougall – The Travels of Fredrick Tolls, Part 2 -from A Few Towns More
- Willie Nelson – A Horse Called Music – from Heroes
- JB Beverley & The Wayward Drifters – Shoulda Thought About It – from Dark Bar & a Juke Box
- Big Boss Twang – Kenworth Kenny – from Big Boss Twang
- Eric Strickland – Drinking Whiskey – from Honky Tonk Till I Die
- Justin Townes Earle – It Won’t Be The Last Time – from Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
This week in Nashville the Country Radio Seminar is happening, a four day event bringing together radio industry folks, along with some artists and musicians. On Wednesday afternoon, an extensive study on the behavior of country’s radio listeners conducted by Edison Research was released to the conference that included some alarming statistics for traditional country radio, including that 1 in 5 country fans don’t listen to radio, and instead liste to iPods, to internet radio, or other alternatives.
One of the causes of this trend according to the president of Edison Research Larry Rosin is that country radio is under-serving it’s classic country fans. 1 in 6 country music fans say that classic country from the 60′s and 70′s is their “favorite” of all the country music types, yet this music is very rarely played on today’s country radio.
“I believe that we as an industry have really made a mistake in our conception of our own stations,” Rosin said according to The Tennessean. “While many people don’t want to listen to classic country music, some still do, and we’ve let them float away…We run the risk that we just are more and more pleasing to fewer and fewer people until all we are is ecstatically pleasing a tiny, unsustainable number of people.”
One of the long suspected causes between the discrepancy of what radio listeners want, and what they get is the massive consolidation happening in radio, specifically with large media corporations like Clear Channel and Cumulus buying up local radio stations, in many instances owning up to five radio stations per market, and trading out local programming for nationally syndicated radio talent. In October 2011, Clear Channel made massive cuts in small, regional radio markets, which potentially effected country music more than others formats because of country’s concentration of rural, small market listeners.
Yet the CEO of Clear Channel Radio Bob Pittman who was a Wednesday keynote speaker at the Country Radio Seminar seemed to paint a very different picture from the Edison Research study, and championed the idea of replacing local DJ talent with national names. “It’s like television.” Pittman said, “If you’ve got Jay Leno, he’s better than the local guy.” He also praised the rock sold strength and reach of radio, even though Clear Channel itself is roughly $20 billion in debt.
Large media companies like Clear Channel seem to be caught in a dilemma. As they deal with dwindling revenues from radio, they attempt to save costs by consolidating programming through cutting local talent and replacing it with National talent already paid for. But as the Edison Research report points out, this trend might be turning off many of country radio’s traditional listeners. It’s a catch 22, where Clear Channel’s solution for dealing with declining revenue might be exacerbating the problem.
The music industry was dealing with massive declining revenue over the last 8 years until in 2011 the industry surprisingly stabilized. The question now is, will the radio industry be able to do what the recording industry did and pull out of their tailspin, or is the solution they’ve constructed to deal with less radio users only aiding their fall?
I am excited to announce that Saving Country Music now has a home on the radio every Saturday night! It’s called “Saving Country Music Radio”, and it is making its debut run TONIGHT (4-2-11) at 9 PM Central, 10 Eastern, on The Real Deal, KOOK 93.5 FM 1230 AM, in the heart of the Texas Hill country. But of course, since most of you don’t live in the Texas Hill Country, you can access the live stream of the station right here, or by clicking on the black and gold KOOK icon in the right column of every page on the website.
Saving Country Music Radio will be an audio version of this website, promoting and talking about the great independent, up-and-coming, and underground bands and artists, while making sure the legacy of country music is preserved as well. Playlists for each show will be archived at http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/radio, with links to all the bands played and discussed, and the shows will be archived there in their entirety as well, probably about a week after their initial airing.
I want to give a huge thanks to “Big G” Gordon Ames, the Big Cheese of The Real Deal for giving me this opportunity to expose a brand new audience to the music we all know and love. He has been a good friend for years, and I am excited to finally be able to work with him directly.
And for fans/listeners of SCM LIVE, don’t worry, nothing is going to change there. We will still be doing our weekly podcasts and live broadcasts. The idea with SCM Radio is to reach even more people with this music. Eventually we may open the SCM LIVE chat room during the show, but right now we are working on a new chat room, so we will probably skip that, at least for the first few weeks (let me know below in the comments if anyone has a desire for a live chat with this). Incidentally the chat room WILL be open this Sunday (4-3) for The ACM Awards, so people can stop by a hoot on the pop country frivolity!
I am very excited about this, so please give a listen to The Real Deal Saturday night if you have a chance, and let me know what you think. And ANYTIME you have a hankering for listening to the radio, you should listen to The Real Deal!
I am very excited to announce that the podcast legend by the name of Tim Pop is moving his “Rebel Rouser” country music podcast to SCM LIVE!
Rebel Rouser is an hour-long weekly podcast that mixes old-school, classic country music with the new school underground stuff. It may be new to you and SCM LIVE, but Tim Pop is already done over 60 episodes of Rebel Rouser over on the Real Punk Radio network. The show will air Thursday nights at 9 PM Eastern, 8 Central, and will be preceded by Reverend Nix’s “Mojo Medicine Show”, which has been moved from Fridays to Thursdays, starting at 8 Eastern, 7 Central.
Reverend Nix already sets the table on Wednesdays for the flagship of SCM LIVE, Outlaw Radio Chicago, so now there will be two nights a week where you can listen to great music, and if want, hang out in the chat room and enjoy the camaraderie that has made Saving Country Music one of the strongest online communities country music can boast.
I have known Tim Pop, and have been listening to his podcasts for over three years. I first heard about his main podcast “Tim Pop Live” from Rachel Brooke through MySpace. Tim Pop is based in Detroit, and is good friends with Rachel & Junk (aka Brooks Robbins) (who have a new side project called “Modern Mal”) The first time I listened to Tim Pop Live was less than two weeks after I had started Free Hank III, the organization that eventually morphed into Saving Country Music, and Tim Pop, who didn’t know me from Adam, was talking about it on his podcast. That is when I knew what the power of community and collaboration could do.
Y’all please stop by on Thursday’s if you can, listen a little, hang out in the chat room for a bit. And if Thursday’s are bad for you, or you want to check out what kind of chops Tim Pop has, you can check out previous episodes of Rebel Rouser or Tim Pop Live at www.timpoplive.com.
And don’t forget that THIS SATURDAY Lowebow Fest from Florida will be broadcast on SCM LIVE as well!
Tim Pop is also a lead guitar player. Here he is shredding for the band Switchblade Justice!
Rachel Brooke’s new album Down In The Barnyard has been creating a lot of buzz lately, and on Wednesday she talked with Jashie P of Outlaw Radio Chicago about the album, her upcoming tour with Those Poor Bastards, a proposed 7-inch release on Farmageddon Records, and how Shooter Jennings is helping her with his “XXX” movement.
You can hear the interview in its entirety on Outlaw Radio Episode 134, but for those that would rather read, you can find the meat of the interview transcribed below.
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Jashie P: You released this all by yourself, there’s no label behind you on this one, is there?
Rachel Brooke: No. Farmageddon Records is picking it up. I started working on it kind of right as Farmageddon was coming together. So it’s mostly just a self-release, but Farmageddon is helping me with it, pushing it a little bit, so.
Jashie P: Compare it to your last couple of CD’s, the demos and what not. How did you decide what instruments were going to be on each song?
Rachel Brooke: I’ve always been wanting to be just a vocal and guitar, that’s what I love. But I wanted to start setting it up a little bit. I just mess around with each song for a while to see what I like. Some of them just kind of happened like “Mean Kind Of Blues”. I was like, “I want to write something that’s a little more upbeat, put a guitar on it” and that one came out pretty quick. Same with “Don’t Forget Me When I Die”. I wanted a lot of bluegrass sound on it.
Jashie P: How was the record recorded? Was it self-produced, or did you have producers with you?
Rachel Brooke: I recorded the whole thing at home except for the drums, and my dad’s banjo part. We slowly worked on it, waited until I felt good and was in a good mood, and when the cars weren’t going by outside too much, because one thing that would really upset me is when I’d record and there’s some truck going by. I worked on it slowly at home, then I took it up to my brother’s studio in Traverse City, and he helped me mix it, and fixed a lot of the recording mistakes I made because I’m still learning how to record. He mixed it with me and we mastered it. It took a long time.
Jashie P: It’s on iTunes and Amazon, but really if people got it on there, they’re missing out on the cover art. Why don’t you explain the concept of the cover?
Rachel Brooke: I wanted to do something that represents the music. I had my friend Jessica (Varda), and we went out around where I live. We took a picture in front of this barn, like just off the side of the road because we were going to go ask the people if we could take pictures but they weren’t there or something. I don’t know if they’ll ever see it, they may recognize it, I hope not (laughing). And then I had Katie (Umhoefer), she does all Those Poor Bastards artwork. She worked with me and what I was going for. She did all the design artwork, and she did a great job. I’m so happy with it… It’s inspired by the old-time Carter Family kind of stuff. If you ever look up any of their old photographs, it’s all real simple. And it says a lot. It has a lot of emotion in it, and that’s what I wanted.
Jashie P: Your lyrics are really dark, and a lot of these songs tell stories. “The Legend of Morrow Road” is a 7-minute song that’s a really in-depth story. How do these lyrics come to you?
Rachel Brooke: That song is actually a Michigan legend. It’s not the same. What it is, is I didn’t want to write a ghost story, but I wanted to write a legend kind of thing. So I made up the story behind it. If you look it up there’s actually a place close to where I live called Morrow Road, and it’s just about a ghost that walks around there at night, some girl. To me it was kind of cool, but it needed a story behind it. So I just let it come to me, just let my imagination go and it kind of came together…The Carter Family inspired me a lot for this album because I love their simplicity, and the beauty of it. The way their songs are is just so simple, but so meaningful, and that’s what I wanted to do. Say a lot with just being really simple.
Jashie P: There’s a lot of other female artists popping up, you’ve got Six Gun (Britt), Little Lisa (Dixie), Nellie Wilson. What do you think about the whole resurgence of female artists coming along in this little scene?
Rachel Brooke: I think it’s cool, because it seems like there’s a lot of men, they’re really good. But I think it’s not the same without females. They have a different point of view. Even if it’s about the same situation, a girl’s point of view is completely different. I think females naturally are more emotional and see a little bit deeper into situations, and it’s cool.
Jashie P: You’ve got a big tour coming up with Lonesome Wyatt and Those Poor Bastards. How did all that come about?
Rachel Brooke: Those Poor Bastards were putting a tour together and I was asked if I wanted to come along and I said “yeah”. I know Wyatt pretty well and I think it’s gonna be fun. Right now we’re still making all the dates confirmed. Just keep looking on the website for the dates, because they’re gonna keep coming.
Jashie P: Are you going to do anything from A Bitter Harvest (album with Rachel and Lonesome Wyatt)?
Rachel Brooke: We talked about it, and I’m sure we’ll do a couple.
Jashie P: Is it just going to be you and a guitar again? Or you got a band coming with or anything?
Rachel Brooke: Not this time, I’m just gonna be by myself with a guitar. But I think what I want to do soon is get a band. I think that’s my next step. That’s the plan anyway. I have some people in mind that I really want to work with and I’ve known them for years and grown up with them and I think it would be a perfect fit, it’s just convincing them to do it. And I know they want to, but it’s really got to happen. I’m really trying to push them into doing it.
Jashie P: How many pieces are you looking at?
Rachel Brooke: It’s just gonna be a three piece. It would be me on guitar, another guitarist, and drums. When that comes along, I want to do always an acoustic set, and them bring them up and finish up, you know, blow people away because I really think it’s gonna be that good.
Jashie P: Getting back to A Bitter Harvest, when I talked to Lonesome Wyatt he said there’s a second release being talked about at least. Can you elaborate on that at all?
Rachel Brooke: Yep. We’re still right now working on it, writing some new stuff. I’m waiting for the best ones. It’s gonna happen, but right now we’re just in the beginning of writing… I also want to put out a 7-inch, probably this year with Farmageddon. Me and Darren have been talking about it and I really want to do it because like I said I really want to start introducing an electric show. So what I want to do is a side A, sort of a lo-fi of just me and my guitar like I love, and on side B kind of a high-fi really rocking kind of stuff. Kind of like mean kind of blues, more electric slide kind of stuff.
Jashie P: You were on the front page of givememyxxx.com and Shooter (Jennings) told me he’s been in touch with you. What do you think about what he’s trying to do with the whole XXX thing?
Rachel Brooke: To be honest, I think it’s really cool. I know there’s been some people who don’t think it’s cool, but I don’t see why. I really feel that he loves the bands that are coming out, and what he’s doing is great. I don’t really see the big deal people are making about it. To me it’s like cool, why can’t he try to get something going? I don’t look at it as a side, I look at it as another step. I noticed some negativity, and I don’t know, I don’t look at it like that. For me, I do my music because I want to. I don’t look at it from any other way except for what I want to do, and I think it’s cool that he’s embracing a lot of these bands. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think it’s a great thing.
TONIGHT, Saturday (2-19) on Austin City Limits, PBS will be re-running the episode from 2009 of “Willie & The Wheel”, the mashup of Willie Nelson, and the legendary Western Swing band Asleep At The Wheel. At that time, my tip top, rising artist to watch right now Ruby Jane, was a member of “Willie & The Wheel” and performs and is showcased throughout the episode. Only 14-years-old at the time, she not only holds her own on a stage filled with legends like Willie Nelson, Ray Benson, Mickey Raphael, at times she steals the show! You can only imagine where her talent is now, two years later!
You don’t want to miss this episode, if not for Ruby Jane, than for Willie and Ray Benson, but if you do, you can watch the archive of the entire episode.
And then THIS SUNDAY, 2-20-2011, none other than Wayne “The Train” Hancock will be on Saving Country Music’s live streaming channel, aka SCM LIVE, for a streaming video concert, with his full touring band at 6 PM Central! That’s right folks!
This is a special edition of Jashie P’s Outlaw Radio, and it will be coming LIVE from Chicago. Hancock is in the midst of an upper Midwest swing (check dates below) and is stopping by for a performance and interview.
So after your done watching Dale Earnhart Jr. get his ass kicked at the Daytona 500, get a big bowl of popcorn, the refreshment of your choice, duct tape the kids to the bed post and get your ass over here for a FREE Wayne Hancock concert from Jashie P’s living room to yours!
Wayne Hancock tour dates:
The Brass Rail
Ft. Wayne IN
Grand Rapids MI
Oneida Bingo Casino
Green Bay WI
Oneida Bingo Casino
Green Bay WI
High Noon Saloon
On Monday (11-1-10) Jashie P. of Outlaw Radio Chicago met up with the one and only Willie Nelson for a brief but productive interview on Willie’s bus before his performance at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, IL.
Willie talked about how the title for his new album Country Music was a tip of the hat to what he always though country music sounded like, and how he never listens to Sugarland, or most of the other stuff coming out of Music Row.
Outlaw Radio: Why did you name your new album Country Music?
Willie: In my opinion, that is the sound I always thought country music sounded like. And of course it’s changed through the years, but the original sound of country music for me was that sound.
Outlaw Radio: What do you think right now of the current state of country music out of Nashville, out of Music Row, acts like Sugarland?
Willie: Honestly I don’t listen to it so I don’t know (laughing). I just don’t know.
Outlaw Radio: How do you feel being the longest-running country music star going right now? How does that feel to you, and how long are going to keep going?
Willie: Well I don’t know it’s a day to day deal (laughing). As long as people show up and as long as we can show up I hope to do it a long time.
Outlaw Radio: What do you think of this new breed of the underground country scene going . Like I know Hank III pretty well, do you talk to them at all?
Willie: Well I have talked to him and you’re right, he’s the real thing and his dad would be proud, and he’s carrying on the tradition as the Williams family has done forever. And of course in my opinion there was no better writer or singer than Hank.
Interestingly Willie played 5 Hank Williams songs that night, including four in a row, and ending with Hank’s “I Saw The Light.”
Willie also talked about working with Dave Matthews, and his daughter’s band, the flittering, funny and foul-mouthed Folk Uke. You can hear the entirety of the audio from the interview on Outlaw Radio Episode 108, available for listening or download.
Man, do we have a big week in store for SCM Live!
Tonight (11-3) on Outlaw Radio Chicago at 8 PM Central, Jashie P will play an impromptu interview with the one and only Willie Nelson from this weekend, and may answer the question that everyone is asking, “Did you smoke weed with Willie?”
Then on Saturday the mother of all SCM Live events will be going down, as we will be broadcasting Hillgrass Bluebilly’s Launch Party, featuring 7 bands, 2 stages, and 6+ hours of music, all LIVE to anywhere in the world from the Hole in the Wall in Austin, TX!
If at all humanly possible, you should beg, lie, steal, pillage, plunder, filch, whatever it takes to get your ass to Austin to be a part of this event in person. At only $6, this is the music deal of the century. But if you can’t make it and your eyeballs are passing over these words, then you better make sure you get your ass over to SCM Live Saturday night starting at 7 PM (with a preshow maybe staring sometime between 6 and 7) and be a part of this historic event. And don’t be afraid to poke your head into the chat room as well, where you can share your passion for this music with folks from around the world!
It’s almost easier to say who is NOT playing than who is, but here’s the dizzying lineup and times:
8:00: THE BOOMSWAGGLERS
9:00pm ROGER WALLACE
9:45pm TEN FOOT POLECATS
11:30pm LARRY & HIS FLASK
12:30am POSSESSED BY PAUL JAMES
I am happy, proud, and humbled to announced that two of the best podcasts out there, Outlaw Radio Chicago hosted by Jashie P, and The Reverend Nix shows of Stink Finger Radio and the Mojo Medicine Show are now permanent fixtures (till I figure out how to screw it up) of the SCM LIVE media channel. Outlaw Radio has been archiving their show on the site for a while, but now it will be broadcast here LIVE!
The radio gold goes down every Wednesday starting at 7 PM Central with Rev. Nix’s Stink Finger Radio, featuring homemade music from homegrown people: the best in cigar box guitar, deep roots, muddy roots, slippery roots, and boiled and sauteed roots music. Next comes the best, longest-running REAL country weekly podcast, Outlaw Radio at 8 PM.
Also Reverend Nix does the two-hour Mojo Medicine Show starting at 3 PM Central every Friday.
There’s lots of big things in the works for SCM Live, and don’t forget that TODAY (10-5) we have a very cool event going down at 7 PM Central, as Whitey Morgan & The 78′s debut their new album in its entirety, on vinyl!
Also be looking for a new episode of The Roundtable coming very soon, and maybe a SCM Live Gospel show on Sundays? Stay tuned.
**Update** This has been moved to October 5th!
Whitey Morgan & The 78′s self-entitled album through Bloodshot Records will not be out until October 12th, but you can get a first listen to the album next Tuesday, Oct. 5th on SCM LIVE at 8 PM Eastern!
But wait, it gets even better. This first listen isn’t gonna be some uber-compressed Mp3 type stuff. Oh no. This bad boy is gonna be done by the magic of needle on VINYL for that true, warm, analog sound! This is all being brought to you by Misfit Radio out of Michigan who will be your guide though this album that was recorded at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock. Along with some great originals, it includes songs from Hank Cochran, Johnny Paycheck, and Dale Watson. So konk the kiddos out some cough medicine, and come hang out with us in the chat room and listen to some cool tunes!
Video shot at SXSW:
Last Sunday in Chicago an amazing show went down featuring Six Gun Britt, Last False Hope, and one of the fastest rising bands in country, Hellbound Glory. Afterward Jashie P. of Outlaw Radio Chicago (and Last False Hope) sat down with Hellbound Glory’s Leroy Virgil for an interview. I have transcribed the meat of it below, but you can listen to it in is entirety on Episode 109 at savingcountrymusic.com/outlaw-radio.
Outlaw Radio broadcasts LIVE every Wednesday night at 8 PM Central on scrubradio.com, and each show is archived right here.
Outlaw Radio: You’ve had some write-up from some pretty good sources. What do you think of all this attention your new album has been getting?
Leroy: I don’t know, I dig it man. I don’t write the songs just to sit there and sing them for my old lady and friends back in Reno. You know I write them because I want people to hear it, hear my story and what I think of the world, you know. And hopefully try to connect with people in some way. So yeah, I’m honored and extremely proud.
Leroy: Some of the songs on Old Highs are older than the songs on Scumbag. I’ve been writing country songs for so long, you have them stored away. I wrote “Hard Livin’ Man” when I was 19, and I wrote “Hank Williams Records’ when I was 21 and had recorded them prior, and yeah, I just didn’t like the recordings. So I wanted to put together all my best songs about a period in my life with a divorce, a heavy drug addiction, heavy drinking, and just a rough patch in my life. Old Highs is really looking back and saying “Man, I was really messing up.”
Outlaw Radio: Do you think you guys will ever kick it into the mainstream scene at all?
Leroy: I try not to think about it all that much man. Trying to write better songs all the time. My whole thing is I just want to write the best songs about my own life that I could possibly. So whether it sounds Nashville or anything like that, its just me. In terms of just the craft of songwriting, I don’t want to sound like anybody. I want to make my own sound, my own words, sing my own stuff. We get a lot of comparisons to Hank Williams III because of the lyrical content, but to be honest with you I’ve been writing about drugs and booze since I was 16 because drugs and booze have always taken a pretty big part of my life. Now that I’m older, I’m not trying to settle down, but there’s more to life than just being self destructive, and there’s more to life than writing about that sort of stuff. You know, trying to learn to think about things a little more deeply.
Outlaw Radio: You’ve got a kid on the way you told me yesterday so congratulations on that. What does your wife think about you being on the road and everything else.
Leroy: My wife is just the coolest woman. She’s a music fan. She’s a fellow lost soul like me. Any talk of quitting music she’s like “no fucking way.”
Outlaw Radio: This is a question I ask most first-time interviewees. What do you think of the state of so called country music right now?
Leroy: I think it’s all about the songs, I don’t care whose singing them so much. If its a good song its a good song. A lot of these Nashville hits that come out, if it was just some dude playing an acoustic guitar and singing in your living room you’d say “Man, that’s actually a pretty good song.” One thing I will say is, where’s the outsider, other than Jamey Johnson? Having said that Alan Jackson can bring me to tears man. He’s just a guy writing about his own life. That is what country music is supposed to be about.
Outlaw Radio: What on the horizon for Hellbound Glory?
Leroy: I’m writing all sorts of new stuff. For the Hellbound Glory thing, and stuff on my own, maybe a little bit more laid back. Hellbound Glory is gonna go in and start recording a new album. I’ve got so many songs just sitting around. We just don’t have the money to record all the songs basically. We’re limited by our funds. Because if we had the money we’d have a new album out about every six months.
Outlaw Radio: Is there any label interest in you guys?
Leroy: We’ve talked with a few labels and its not really panning out right now. Who knows if we want to go with a label?
On Thursday (8-26), former body double, current heartfelt songwriter, and overall general badass Tonya Watts will be chatting LIVE with YOU, if you so choose. The deal will go down at 7 PM time of the Central persuasion, in the live chat room of www.am1670.org. This will all transpire during the airing of the Highwaywoman Radio Show starring Brigitte London, and this episode will include an interview with Miss Tonya as well.
Among other things you could discuss with Tonya might be her upcoming California tour dates, which include a reunion of the quasi supergroup “It Came From Nashville” that includes Tonya, Waylon Payne, Travis Howard, and Austin Hanks.
Today (6-23-10) Jashie P of Outlaw Radio Chicago celebrates his 100th episode of podcast gold. I’m not exactly sure what this episode is going to entail, it’s all going to be a big surprise, but apparently there’s going to be guests and call ins and all sorts of other stuff being done by people of questionable sobriety.
The rumor is too that the show before Outlaw Radio, Stink Finger Radio also has some big plans to celebrate #100, so you will want to tune in early. Stink Finger broadcasts live at 8 PM Eastern on scrubradio.com, and then Outlaw Radio follows at 9 PM Eastern. Me and many other familiar faces will be hanging out in the Live Chat room as well, so don’t be afraid to poke your head in and say hello.
This is one you don’t want to miss, but as always if you do you can catch it archived the next day at the newly revamped savingcountrymusic.com/outlaw-radio. If you hadn’t noticed, we’ve now added a new MP3 player so you can easily scan through all the episodes and see the guests for each show, and as always you can still download each episode by scrolling to the bottom of the page.
See you in the chat room!
Lately I’ve been bitching that since the death of MySpace the REAL country tribe has been scattered so to speak. We used to all be on the same page, communication was not an issue, and we felt like one big family, dysfunctional as it might have been. Well there’s still one place where we can all come together and recapture that magic, and that is Wednesday nights on the podcast network Scrub Radio. Staring at 8 PM Eastern, the music starts rolling, and the live chat room fills up with the same faces you see around here in the comments section, as well as on MySpace, Facebook, etc.
It starts off with Stink Finger Radio at 8 ET, featuring the BEST in cigar box guitar music and other handmade specialties. You may think it sounds like a one trick pony that would grow old, but on the contrary. It gets your blood pumping with muddy water and gets you ready for Outlaw Radio Chicago at 9 ET where Jashie P highlights the best and newest music in the REAL country movement, as well as great guests.
This week Outlaw Radio will be talking with Jason, organizer of the Muddy Roots Festival, as well as Pearls Mahone, who performed there. I know a lot of people have work/family stuff they got to deal with, but if you have the time, stop by, hang out in the live chat room, it’s good times.
Muddy Roots Jason is also the guest on the latest White Trash Revival episode, so check that out as well.
And if you haven’t made it over there yet, It Burns When I Pee podcast has released their 3 Year Anniversary Show.
So many podcasts, so little time.
For those that missed the Hank III interviews with Outlaw Radio Chicago and Big G of the Real Deal, they are now both archived, HERE and HERE. But for those who are unable or willing to listen to the full interviews, below you will find a summation of the meatier nuggets:
From Outlaw Radio:
Jashie P: The big ol deal going on right now is that this is the last album with Curb.
Hank III: I’m just trying to move on with my career and not having my creativity held back. I’ve got about 5 months to go, and then I’ll be on my own. Then a whole new batch of songs will be getting together, and I’m gonna call in a lot of my friends, and looking for a new breath of fresh air.
Jashie P: You are one of the most talked about artists online. Some people are saying that now that he’s done with Curb there won’t be any more country, no more Damn Band.
Hank III: Naw, I’ll always be doing what I do. As long as I can maintain the show like I want to deliver it, the show will go on. I will always be putting out the country and all kinds of different stuff. This is just the last major label record. There a whole slew of stuff getting ready to come out. Once I get to start writing, that’s the big thing.
Jashie P: You don’t have anything set aside right now for your first independent release?
Hank III: Nothing exists because if I wrote a song right now, who would own it? So I have nothing. My creative freedom has been held back for YEARS. Once my time is done, like I said man it’s gonna be a breath of fresh air for me to hit a stride.
Jashie P: Right out of the gate, in five months what will be your first release?
Hank III: It might be probably both (country and heavy metal) at the same time. I would like within a month to have two releases on both sides of the coin man. There’s also gonna be all kinds of different stuff too, not even, I don’t even know what you’d classify it as.
Jashie P: Give me a little history behind the song “Karmageddon”
Hank III: Warren and Tommy have been friends of mine even since I was 15 years old. I used to live with that family. They are big in the music community. Me and Warren are friends and once in a while will write together. They asked if I was interested in this song, they felt like it was kinda up my alley. Way back a long time ago I recorded some of their stuff before, it just never came out. A lot of that is just the family friendship. You know living with them when I did, goes really deep. A lot of heartfelt words coming out of that from them.
Jashie P: Another track, “Tore Up & Loud,” at the end of the song there’s the little rant about “after 14 years you’re finally free.” How did that slip past Curb?
It never came up in any of the discussions or anything. Since I wasn’t necessarily saying anything about them, it’s just saying something. And I wanted to give a big shout out to Jeff Clayton. On the last album I don’t know how I forgot to put his name in the credits. I messed up and it slipped by me, and I was definitely wanting to pay some respects to him somehow.
Jashie P: You and Joe Buck ever talk any more?
Hank III: He’s just out there doing his own thing man. When he came to me he just wanted to be a bass player. Then he changed his mind. I need guys that, as Jimmy Martin would say “You need to be playing with ME, not playing with THEM.”
Jashie P: The last tour, a lot of people were pretty skeptical when you announced that Kyle Turley was gonna be your opening act. How do you think he went over with your crowd?
Hank III: I mean, no more different then bringing someone like Izzy (Cox) on this next tour. I don’t even know what people will classify her as. And its no more different than bringing a death metal act with us. We don’t get pigeon holed into one style of music. And the way I look at Kyle, his heart, you know he’s been suffering seizures, and the doctor’s are telling him not to be around a bunch of stress. What does he want to do? Go out on the road and do music because that’s what makes him happy. Most people would be tucking their tail and heading the other way. He’s always loved music, and I don’t look at it as what style he’s playing. I just know what he’s up against and how much heart he’s putting into it, and that’s why.
Jashie P: Also with that same tour, there was a lot of word that Lucky Tubb was supposed to come out with you and a lot of speculation.
Hank III: He was never asked from anyone in my crew, or myself. If you’re going to speak for me, well, that’s what happens. You’ve gotta learn from your mistakes on that. I ask people to go on the road with me. I don’t be told who I’m bringing on the road with me.
Jashie P: You’ve had your past with Shooter Jennings. Have you had a chance to listen to his new album by chance?
Hank III: Naw man, I haven’t kept up with any of that really. My 8-10 year run of talking shit I’m sure is close to being over. He’s not as green as he was. It’s just one of those things man.
From The Real Deal:
Hank III: Something that I’m doing right now is I’m limiting myself on having to stay in smaller clubs. Nowadays if you want to book me, you don’t get my merch. Clubs taking band’s merch came into play about 10 years ago. They don’t deserve it. I don’t know how that fad started. But starting off on this next tour, if you want to book me, you’re not getting 20% of my merch. I’m not asking 20% of your bar. I sell some of them guys $30,000 in alcohol a night. It’s going to hurt me at first, because I’m gonna have to play smaller places, but its a new revolution we’re gonna try to start for the bands out there. The musicians are the ones that’s driving, paying their dues, and showing up at the club. They don’t deserve that merch money man. So people can look at some of the new clubs we’re playing and keep that in mind.
Big G: Ever since the first time I heard you I thought “this is so cool.” And I’m so glad that you’re doing . . .like Frank Sinatra, doing it your way.
Hank III: There’s a lot of rumors of people think I’m gonna stop doing the country records. That ain’t true. It’s just the last record with Curb. It’s a brand new beginning. I ain’t hanging nothing up. We’ve got a long ways to go.
Big G: We’re you affected personally (by the Nashville flooding)?
Hank III: I always rent on a hill. I’ve just always done that. We had about 250 buckets of water I had to get out of my basement, but that was nothing compared to what happened. I prepared the room downstairs because I knew it was coming. We were fine. Everybody in my crew made it through all right.
On our website here in about 2 or 4 weeks we’re going to have a T Shirt for sale, and were going to be donating all the money from that T Shirt to some charities around town, helping out the people that got hurt real bad. That’s something that some of the fans can look for.
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