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“Iām as respectful of the manās work ethic as Iām mystified by his transformational skills. Without a doubt, the filmmakers chose the right actor for the job.“
This is the long and short of how Rodney Crowell feels about the job British actor Tom Hiddleston is doing to morph himself into Hank Williams for the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light based on Colin Escott’s biography. Rodney Crowell was hired on by the production company of the movie to be the Executive Music Producer and Tom Hiddleston’s personal voice coach for his Hank Williams transformation.
In a lengthy post on Rodney’s Facebook page from earlier this week, the country/Americana performer expounded about his experiences with Tom while in training for the part.
During the month of September 2014, our house in Tennessee became the base camp for Tom Hiddlestonās steady transformation into Hank Williams. Iād been hired by a film company—whose vision of shining a gritty light on the life and times of Hank Williams piqued my interest no end—to produce the music and assist their leading man in finding his way into the heart of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time.
The classically trained British actor arrived in Nashville on the fourth day of the month and the very next day climbed on a tour bus bound for Michigan and the Wheatland Music Festival, his traveling companions Claudia, myself, and a four-piece band consisting of Jerry Roe, Byron House, Pat Buchannan and Steve Fishell. Just minutes before taking part in an afternoon workshop with Sarah Jarosz, whose permission I had sought first, I asked Tom if heād like to join us onstage and sing āIām So Lonesome I Could Cry,ā a Hank Williams song Iād heard him practicing on the bus. I was surprised when he said yes and skillfully performed the tune before what must have been 1500 people. Later that night, with my band on the main stage, and with very little urging from me, he rendered a joyful version of āMove It On Over.ā Afterward, brimming with delight, he admitted, rather boyishly, that heād never in his life performed with a band and had loved it.
The pick to have the part of Hank Williams played by Hiddleston has been a controversial one in some sectors. Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, has been a vocal opponent of the casting, saying that it would take an American to understand the unique the role of playing country music’s first superstar. Hank3 has also criticized the pick of Rodney Crowell as Hiddleston’s vocal coach. Hank3 told Saving Country Music, “It definitely puts Rodney Crowell in a strange position. Iām definitely not wanting to be hard on him. But if if Rodney Crowell is the voice coach, it says a lot right there … No disrespect to Rodney Crowell, but thereās two Hank Williams walking this earth right now.”
When video surfaced of Hiddleston performing at the Wheatland Music Festival, the debate started anew about Hiddleston’s abilities to assume the role realistically and believably. Producers for the film have said that Hiddleston will be performing multiple Hank Williams songs live in the movie, and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Move It On Over,” and “Lovesick Blues” are the three songs that have come up multiple times as being potential movie cuts.
Rodney Crowell went on to speak specifically to Hiddleston’s dedication and work ethic for the role.
On a typical day in September, I watched him sit for a wardrobe fitting, read through four hours worth of key scenes with the director and leading lady, spend another two hours with a dialect coach, and then, in order to lose the weight needed to look Hank Williams gaunt on screen, run seven wicked miles over hilly Tennessee terrain. With those chores done, heād then commit to six more hours of singing, over and over again, a very hard to master song like āLovesick Blues.ā And then, when he finally unlocked the mystery of yodeling the blues, hillbilly style, and was treated to a playback of his performance responded by saying āI can do it better, let me go again.ā Then came a late dinner, wolfed down before giving in to a few hours sleep. After nearly a month spent collaborating with this gifted artist, Iām as respectful of the manās work ethic as Iām mystified by his transformational skills. Without a doubt, the filmmakers chose the right actor for the job.
I Saw The Light is set to begin filming in Louisiana in mid to late October, and the casting of local extras has begun. Elizabeth Olsen has also been selected to play the role of Audrey Williams, Hank’s wife.
The debate will likely rage over the pick of Tom Hiddleston to play Hank Williams well after the movie is shot and released, but Rodney Crowell makes it clear that he believes they found the right man.
On Thursday night October 2nd, the International Bluegrass Music Association held their 25th Annual Awards ceremony in Raleigh, NC at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The awards were hosted by Lee Ann Womack and Jerry Douglas, and performers included The Boxcars, Claire Lynch, The Gibson Brothers, Lee Ann Womack, Noam Pikelny, Della Mae, Jerry Douglas, The Seldom Scene with its surviving original members and new members, Blue Highway, The Del McCoury Band, Balsam Range, and Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen.
Big winners included Noam Pikelny who won both Album of the Year for Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe, as well as Banjo Player of the Year honors, Special Consensus who won both Recorded Event of the Year andĀ Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year, and Balsam Range who took home Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, and Buddy Melton of Balsam Range won Male Vocalist of the Year.
Complete List of Winners:
Entertainer of the Year – Balsam Range
Album of the Year - Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe ā Noam Pikelny (artist) Gabe Witcher (producer), Compass Records
Song of the Year - āDear Sisterā ā Claire Lynch (artist), Claire Lynch and Louisa Branscomb (writers)
Male Vocalist of the Year – Buddy Melton (Balsam Range)
Female Vocalist of the Year – Amanda Smith
Emerging Artist of the Year – Flatt Lonesome
Vocal Group of the YearĀ – Balsam Range
Instrumental Group of the Year – Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
Recorded Event of the Year - āWild Montana Skiesā ā Special Consensus with Claire Lynch & Rob Ickes (artists), Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records
Instrumental Recorded Performance of the YearĀ – āThank God Iām A Country Boyā – Special Consensus with Buddy Spicher, Michael Cleveland and Alison Brown (artists), Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver (album), John Martin Sommers (writer), Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records
Gospel Recorded Performance of the YearĀ -Ā āWonāt It Be Wonderful Thereā ā Dailey & Vincent (artist), Brothers of the Highway (album), Mildred Styles Johnson (writer), Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent (producers), Rounder Records
Guitar Player of the Year – Bryan Sutton
Mandolin Player of the Year – Adam Steffey (The Boxcars)
Fiddle Player of the Year – Jason Carter
Dobro Performer of the Year – Phil Leadbetter
In 2011, Phil was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. By 2012, he was totally cured and returned to playing.
Bass Player of the YearĀ – Barry Bales
Banjo Player of the Year – Noam Pikelny
Hall of Fame Inductee – Dr. Neil Rosenberg
Hall of Fame Inductee – The original Seldom Scene
The Gibson Brothers performing:
Fans of elite folk/Americana songwriter James McMurtry have been waiting a long time for new music from the famous son and fixture of Austin’s Continental Club. McMurtry released his last studio record Just Us Kids in April of 2008. Soon fan’s patience will be rewarded.
James McMurtry has partnered with the label Complicated Game out of Los Angeles to release a new record in February of 2015. The album was recorded and produced in New Orleans by noted Louisiana singer/songwriter C.C. Adcock, and is said to bring a fresh perspective to the studio for James by “exploring more expansive instrumentation and arrangements while retaining a sharp focus on his masterful guitar work and his poetic storytelling style.”
Francois Moret, the owner of Complicated Game, found out about McMurtry through producer C.C. Adcock. Francois was “mesmerized” by a McMurtry solo performance at the Continental Club in Austin where McMurtry plays on a weekly basis when not on tour, and knew he wanted to sign him immediately. There is no specific title or release date for the new album just yet. More details are expected to come in the coming weeks.
52-year-old James McMurtry was born in Ft. Worth Texas to the famous Texas novelist Larry McMurtry, and learned guitar at an early age from his mother. In 1987 McMurtry was able to get the attention of John Mellencamp who produced his first album Too Long In The Wasteland released on Columbia Records. Since then McMurtry has become a well-respected songwriter, guitarist, and performer throughout the folk and Americana realm, releasing a total of 11 albums, and creating a reputation for his biting lyrics often tinged with political ideologies. Music critic Robert Christgau once ranked McMurtry’s song “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore” as the best song of the 2000′s.
James McMurtry lives in Austin and tours regularly. The below video posted in March was shot during the recording of the new album.
One of country music’s most famous families is now bigger by one. Holly Williams, granddaughter of Hank Williams and daughter of Hank Williams Jr., gave birth to Stella June Coleman on Tuesday, Sept. 30th in Nashville at 1:45 PM. The 7 lbs., 12 oz. baby girl was named after Holly’s great, great aunt, and June was Williamsā maternal grandmother, and the subject of one of the seminal songs on Williams’ last album The Highway. No word on if Stella June will pursue a music career (her hands are still a little too tiny to play guitar at the moment), but goodness knows she has the pedigree.
āItās really important to teach my child about my grandparents and where they came from and why I was so close to them,ā Holly told People Magazine upon the arrival of the new bundle of joy. āShe [June] was the grandparent I was closest to by far and she was just such an amazing, lovely, southern dream of a grandmother to me.ā
Stella June’s father also has a musical background. Chris Coleman regularly plays backup guitar for Holly Williams on tour, and tours as a backup musician for Kings of Leon. āWe have been going non-stop for a year and this will be our first 14 days in our house together since 2012,ā she says. āThis sounds crazy, but I feel like weāre about to go on vacation because weāll be forced to not leave the house for days.ā
Holly tweeted out a picture of Stella June’s tiny fingers for her fans late last night with the message, “Hello world! Our hearts are mush and we are thanking God every single second for this healthy miracle of life.”
No more “Waiting on June” for Holly Williams, she has officially arrived.
Jim Ed Brown, member of the influential early country family band The Browns, esteemed solo artist, and long-time devoted member of the Grand Ole Opry, has been diagnosed with lung Cancer. Brown made the announcement today after he was forced to cancel a few shows recently.
“Some of you may have heard various rumors since I have had to cancel a few shows over the past few weekends. To clarify and put those rumors to bed, I wanted to just come out and explain what is going on,” Jim Ed said in a statement. “Two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. At that time, I was in shock and scared as I didnāt know what that really meant. After testing, the doctors have asked me to take the next 4 months off from touring and to focus on chemotherapy and radiation treatments to shrink the cancer cells. I will keep you all updated on the progress. I am forever grateful for the love, support, and prayers during this time.”
Jim Ed also posted a video taken today (9-30) after his very first Cancer treatment. “I just had my first treatment today,” Brown says brandishing a bandaged arm and looking confident and healthy, “And I’m going to beat it with chemo and radiation. But I want to thank you for your prayers and support. And I’m going to beat this little thing called Cancer, and I’m going to be all right in the next, well, maybe four months, okay? See you next year!”
80-year-old Jim Ed Brown was born in Sparkman, Arkansas, and began playing music with his sister Maxine in a duo, and later with sister Bonnie in the music group The Browns. The family band was big on the Louisiana Hayride and the Ozark Jubilee, and had numerous hits, including the #1 “The Three Bells” in 1959. In 1963 The Browns joined the Grand Ole Opry, and Jim Ed has been a fixture on the Opry stage ever since. The Browns disbanded in 1967, but Jim Ed pursued a solo career, scoring his first hit “Pop A Top” in 1967, and multiple hits throughout the 70′s including the #1 “I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You.”
Jim Ed currently hosts a syndicated two-hour radio show called the Country Music Greats Radio Show. He lives in Brentwood, TN with his wife Becky.
Outlaw queen, regular Grand Ole Opry last-minute stand-in, SiriusXM DJ, and general badass Elizabeth Cook has decided to take some time off to deal with personal matters.
After performing at the El Cosmico Trans-Pecos Festival in Marfa, TX over the weekend, Cook was clearly not feeling herself. Through Twitter she solicited to her fan base on Saturday (9-27), “This is a stretch but do I have any fans near Midland/Odessa with a private jet? I will sing dance and tell jokes all the way to Nashville.”
There was no word on what, if any, the issue was, but Elizabeth subsequently canceled her appearance in Waycross, GA on the 27th where she was set to appear at the annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull & Tribute Festival. “So deeply sorry Tim, Waycross is cancelled,” Cook tweeted out to one of her followers. “I have to go away soon for treatment. More as I know it. So sorry.”
Then later on the 27th, Elizabeth Cook posted to her followers on Facebook,
Hey Beautiful Outlaw People, I am sorry I am not making Waycross show tonite. Get a map consider where Marfa TX and Waycross GA. Consider airport access. Consider that my health is pretty fragile right now and we just couldn’t make it happen. Deepest apologies to those who traveled far and made special plans. Been doing this a while and I don’t often cancel shows. I hate doing it. More later on my condition and whats going on. I love yall and appreciate you in this difficult time.
This left many concerned that Elizabeth may be suffering from a serious health issue. It was revealed today that the country star appears to be suffering from severe exhaustion. On Monday (9-29), Elizabeth Cook’s manager David Macias posted,
After coming off a stretch of Elizabeth losing both parents, recently going through a divorce, touring constantly and doing her radio show every day, the pressure of keeping up with everything has left her feeling beyond burnt out. Although it’s not in her nature to want to do so, she is reluctantly agreeing to hit the pause button and recalibrate in order to deal with the pressures of all that she does in the healthiest way possible. She’ll not be on this next run with Todd Snider, but she’ll be on his next tour (check back for specifics). She’ll be back on the radio and back on the road in short order. We thank you for your understanding and support.
Elizabeth Cook was married to fellow performer Tim Carroll before divorcing recently. The 42-year-old singer originally from Wildwood, FL released her first album independently in 2000 before being picked up by Warner Bros. in 2002 to release Hey Y’all. She has released five full-length albums overall, with her last project being 2012′s Gospel Plow—an EP of Gospel music.Ā Elizabeth’s SiriusXM radio show “Apron Strings” airs weekdays on Outlaw Ch. 60.
Elizabeth is also a semi-regular on Letterman, and recently performed this song in dedication to him after he announced his upcoming retirement.
This is the news relayed from George’s widow, Nancy Jones, who announced today that she has spent $4.35 million on two pieces of adjacent property at 128 and 130 Second Ave. N. in Nashville that was the former home of the Graham Central Station nightclub complex. The property is right near the Cumberland River, and within walking distance of both the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the recently opened Johnny Cash museum. Early plans call for a 44,000 sq. ft. facility that would include event space, a music venue, restaurant, and gift shop, all to commemorate the legacy of country music legend George Jones who passed away on April 26th, 2013.
“We are overjoyed to share George’s legacy and memory with the Nashville community,” Nancy Jones said in a statement. “We hope that this will draw George’s friends and fans worldwide to our great city. George and I made this our home, and he would be happy to know that we found a home to continue his legacy in the heart of Music City.”
The three-story building that currently resides on the 1/4-acre lot was shut down in March by Nashville police after it was deemed to be a public nuisance because of “persistent criminal activity” according to The Tennessean. Called The Hooper Building, it has a 3rd floor rooftop patio that overlooks the Cumberland River and Nashville’s Riverfront Park. The building was originally built in 1924 and was owned previously by the Callen Trust. Nancy Jones is currently working with designers on how to move forward to reconfigure the space for the museum’s needs, and expects to have more information about what country music fans can expect from the new museum in the coming weeks and months.
The Johnny Cash Museum, which opened at 119 3rd Ave S in downtown Nashville in May of 2013, has been a great addition to the area. As Nashville has experienced dramatic growth over the last few years, many older and historic properties are getting bulldozed in favor of condominium complexes and other new developments. The George Jones museum will be another positive addition to downtown Nashville’s historic neighborhood.
The Hooper Building in downtown Nashville:
via Google Maps
Just over two months since the body of 22-year-old Cory Barron was found by a landfill worker in New Russia Township, OH after the young man had gone missing at Jason Aldean’s July 18th concert at Progressive Field in Cleveland, and friends and family still don’t have any answers as to the circumstances surrounding his death, and maybe never will. It is believed that while at the concert, Cory somehow gained access to a garbage chute at one of the top levels of the ballpark and fell five stories into a dumpster. The dumpster was then transported days later to the landfill where the body was discovered. But just how and why the young man ended up in the garbage chute remains a mystery.
Last week the long-awaited autopsy report from the Lorain County Coroner was released to the public. Dr. Stephen Evans found that the cause of death was multiple blunt force impact from the five story fall, and that Barron died immediately. But what he was unable to come up with was any conclusive evidence of why the fall occurred in the first place. According to the autopsy, there were no signs of foul play, and no signs that the fall wasn’t accidental. Dr. Evans says he is “less than happy” that the autopsy did not provide and more conclusive results.
“We’ll never know the circumstances of how he wound up in the trash chute,”Ā says the Lorain County Coroner. “I wish I had that for the family.”
The autopsy also concluded that there was alcohol in Cory Barron’s system, but because of the time that lapsed between when Cory died and the autopsy, it was not possible to conclude Barron’s blood alcohol level at the time of death. However according to police, the concertgoer was “extremely intoxicated” when he disappeared. The information about Cory Barronās level of impairment came from police interviewing friends of the Bowling Green State University senior who were also attending the concert. Cory disappeared around 9:30 PM after visiting some friends in a different section of the concert from his assigned seat. He never returned, and in the following days a full search for the man turned up nothing.
According to Action News 19 in Cleveland, sources say that Cory may have also engaged in an argument with another man or group of men right before he disappeared. They also say the only way someone could have accessed the chute was to crawl into it. However a complete investigation by homicide detectives has turned up nothing, and police say they have obtained no new evidence in the case since the body was found. Unless something miraculous turns up, it is very likely the specifics of Cory Barron’s death will remain a mystery.
After the news of Cory Barronās death was made public, Jason Aldean posted on Twitter, āMy sincere condolences go out to Cory Barronās family and friends. My heart is heavy for you all and you are in my thoughts and prayers.ā Barron death came during a period this summer when the amount of arrests and hospitalizations at country concerts was making headlines and stirring debate about what impact country music’s new party atmosphere might be having on behavior.
Recently Jason Aldean spoke to Rolling Stone Country about the problems at country concerts, saying,“You want people to come out to your show to enjoy it and everybody to wake up the next day and talk about what a great time they had. You don’t want somebody to come to the show and never make it home. Unfortunately that kind of stuff is out of our hands. People are adults and are responsible for their own actions. You come to a show and plan on drinking, get a driver. Call a cab. That’s things that adults should just know. We can’t make people do that stuff.”
The Keith Urban concert on July 26th in Mansfield, Mass. at the Xfinity Center that saw 55 arrests, 46 medical incidents, and 22 people transported to hospitals came to symbolize the downward spiral that country music’s concert environment experienced this summer amidst a rash of incidents where both medical and police statistics shocked much of the public. After the raw numbers on the Keith Urban concert were released, further details days later of an alleged rape that occurred in the venue’s lawn section while as many as 15 witnesses stood around and took video and pictures of the incident came to light, adding to additional outrage about the concert.
18-year-old concertgoer Sean Murphy was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl and was arrested on the scene. The incident ended when a woman attending the concert asked the girl if what was happening was consensual, and she said, āNo,ā according to the Sun Chronicle, and the woman pulled the suspect off the girl who then fled. Apparently Sean Murphy stood around for a short period, looking for positive acknowledgement from the crowd that had gathered about what happened, before disappearing into the lawn crowd. The girlās friends took her to police, and the gates to the concert were temporarily closed until Sean Murphy could be found and detained.
Sean Murphy did not know the girl previously, and the two met at the concert according to police. They began kissing near a concession stand before moving to the lawn area. According to the young girl, she went with Sean Murphy because āshe was afraid of what would happenā if she didnāt go. Both teens had been drinking at the concert.
Sean Murphy’s parents posted his $10,000 bond the next day and he was released. The attorney for the 18-year-old claimed at the time that the incident was a consensual act, and that there was no sign of force or violence in the case. According to prosecutors, this claim was correct, and on Thursday (9-25), the Bristol County prosecutors dropped all charges against the teen.
āGiven the state of the evidence, the case had to be dismissed in the interest of justice,ā said Bristol County spokesman Gregg Miliote to The Boston Globe. āThe family [of the woman] is on board with this decision.ā
The attorney for Sean Murphy, Steven Brooks, said about the dismissal, “This is still a completely devastating accusation to be made of someone whoās 18 years old and never been in trouble his whole life. He spent the night in [jail]… It happened in a crowd and people saw it and assumed that because it was a young man on top of a young woman, and they both got up and went in different directions after, that it may have been a sexual assault. It became unmistakably clear that this was a consensual act. There were people videotaping.”
According to police, right after the incident they overheard Sean Murphy telling his parents he āmessed upā over the phone, and Murphy’s attorney says that his client recognizes he “demonstrated bad judgement.” But in the end investigators decided the incident was either consensual, or at least consensual enough to not prosecute in the case.
On July 13th, Tim McGraw slapped a woman named Jesslyn Taylor in the crowd at the at Aaronās Ampitheatre in Atlanta while numerous cameras captured the incident on tape. Since then a controversy has brewed over whether McGraw was justified in slapping the spectator since the video shows the woman reaching out and touching McGraw’s jeans and ripping them as he pulled away, or whether it is ever justified for a man to hit a woman, especially in such as high profile situation and in such an aggressive manner.
On July 21st, McGraw responded to the incident, but did not offer an apology.
Sometimes things can lose context and perspective. I reacted in an instinctive, defensive way from my perspective of what was going on.Ā I think it was an unfortunate situation, I think all the way around. But it happened, it happened in a split second, it was pure instinctive reaction, I think you just got to move on. It is one of those things that happen, nobody feels good about it, but thereās nothing that could be done about it. You are in that position, you are out there, you are vulnerable, things happen and sometimes you react. Thereās nothing to be said about it.
Jesslyn Taylor, who was detained by security after the incident, later hired a lawyer and said she was at least due an apology, but no apology ever came. Then in early August it was reported that the matter had been settled by both parties. “It’s been mutually resolved the old-fashioned way … with a simple conversation,” explained Jesslyn Taylor’s attorney Eric Hertz.
However a new report from Radar Online posted Tuesday shows Jesslyn Taylor recorded on camera for the first time speaking out about the incident, and saying that McGraw still owes her an apology. The problem is, though the video itself might be “new” to the public, the context of the video is old. The video was taken before Tim McGraw and Jesslyn Taylor worked the issue out privately, despite Radar Online burying this critical point in the body of the article. Subsequently, some news agencies and websites have picked up on the “new” video as the latest development in the saga, as opposed to a piece of old information that does help shed light on Jesslyn’s side of the story, but doesn’t change the fact that the matter appears to be settled. Why the video is just now being made public is not explained.
Flanked by lawyers, Jesslyn Taylor explains, “I was at the concert. Tim came out on the catwalk, walking across the bar where everybody was. Everybody was excited, hands up in the air, filming. I was filming, and just excited. He bent down and sang to me, and I reached up, hit him on the leg. Two of my fingers got stuck in his jeans. When he turned to walk away, it ripped a hole in his jeans. He slapped my hand away, then he turned back, slapped me in the head very hard. I fell backward. Then he actually reared back to hit me again, but a fan on the opposite side of the stage grabbed his arm and stopped him. From there I was drug out and put in a holding area.”
When asked by the reported if she had been drinking, Jesslyn replied, “I had a few drinks.” When asked if she was reaching out to grope McGraw, she responded, “Absolutely not.”Ā
“You got to keep in mind that she was in an environment that was encouraging fans to come up and touch him,” Jesslyn’s lawyer Eric Hertz said. “You know, interact with him…The first thing that needs to happen is there needs to be an apology, and not blame her.”
On Monday, September 22nd, the subset of American country music known to many by its nickname “Bro-Country,” died at its home in Nashville, TN. It was three-years-old. Bro-Country is survived by its family and close friends, including Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Cole Swindell, Chase Rice, Thomas Rhett, Dallas Davidson, and dozens of other lesser-known country music artists and songwriters. Though the specific cause of death has yet to be ruled on by the local medical examiner, preliminary findings appear to show that Bro-Country had been exhaustively over-utilized over the last few months and years until it finally passed away from overexposure. Bro-Country’s death is definitely being considered the result of “foul play”.
Though the exact date of birth of Bro-Country has never been specifically determined, many place its origins in early 2011 with what was initially called “checklist” or “laundry list” country music. Regularly listing off mundane artifacts of country living such as ice cold beer, pickup trucks, tailgates, dirt roads, hot girls, cutoffs, moonshine, mud, and many other country calling cards, songs like Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” and Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” went on to become some of the biggest country music songs during Bro-Country’s life. The name “Bro-Country” wasn’t coined until August of 2013 when culture writer Jody Rosen’s dissertation on the subject described Bro-Country as a, “tatted, gym-toned, party-hearty young American white dude.”
Florida Georgia Line’s song “Cruise” very much typified Bro-Country’s life and legacy, and when the single became the longest-running #1 song in the history of country music, the troubles for Bro-Country began. Predictions of Bro-Country becoming a hyper trend that would grow old prematurely began to spread, and so did public dissent about Bro-Country in what became known as the Season of Discontent. Things began to look especially bleak for Bro-Country when Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta said in December of 2013, “Thereās too much, to be honest with you. We canāt keep talking about Fireball and Coors Light and having the tailgate down, etc. So weāll task our writers and artists to dig a little deeper.”
In 2014, enemies of Bro-Country began to emerge from the country music industry itself, and anti Bro-Country songs like Maddie & Tae’s “Girl In A Country Song” were released to radio, exacerbating Bro-Country’s health problems. Even Bro-Country proponents who had recently given a rosy prognosis for its future, like Sony Music Nashville’s CEO Gary Overton who once said Bro-Country’s demise was “nowhere in the foreseeable future” is now saying “There’s a saturation point.” New albums from Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney purposefully avoid Bro-Country. In some ways it seems fitting that Bro-Country would pass away on the last official day of summer, since the party themes and good times of Bro-Country seemed to be perpetually stuck in the year’s warmest months.
Of course there will be some who will not be able to come to grips with the death of Bro-Country, especially many of Bro-Country’s friends who made lots of money during Bro-Country’s life—many of the same people who refused to acknowledge the problems Bro-Country was facing in the first place. There will be people who attempt to carry on Bro-Country’s legacy by singing about the things Bro-Country loved like beer and tailgates, and they may even find some success in the short term. But eventually they will have to face Bro-Country’s death, or be like the mullet-wearing uncle stuck in the glory days.
Bro-Country is scheduled to be buried in the rubble of the historic RCA Studio ‘A’ building set to be bulldozed on Music Row in Nashville. And in Bro-Country’s memory, an edifice to gentrification and homogenization will be erected in the form of a 147,000 square foot condominium complex on the location.
R.I.P. Bro-Country, you smelled extremely manly.
Ever since Randy Travis suffered a severe heart malady and subsequent stroke on July 7th of 2013, fans have been concerned about the condition of the country star, with little to no true information about his health condition or status, or his prognosis for recovery. Pictures have emerged of the ailing country star upon occasion as Randy still tries to recover from paralysis suffered during the stroke and emergency brain surgery he underwent to relieve pressure on his brain, but video that can help more clearly define how Randy has been doing has been absent.
Now we get to see the first video of Randy, who is seen walking with the aid of a cane and looking good as he attended an annual fundraising function in in Denison, TX for Four Rivers Outreach at a North Texas Regional Airport hangar. Though Randy looks healthy, he is still not speaking much, which is what he’s working most on according to his fiancee Mary Davis.
“Every day we go to speech therapy and physical therapy and occupational therapy,” says Mary Davis to ABC’s KTEN in Texoma who was was covering the function. “We’re learning words and phrases, learning to sing, of course, the music and the songs come easy for him, just the enunciation of words. But he’s working on it! He’s got the heart of a warrior and he doesn’t stop … He knows that the road ahead of us is is long and tedious, but he’s up for the challenge and he’s never never shied away from it. Never asked why me.”
The fundraiser crowd applauded when Travis walking into the hangar and was able sit down unassisted. Randy was released from impatient care in October of 2013.
Larry Gatlin was also at the fundraiser. “I have not seen randy since last year when we were here. I really feel bad about what has happened to him.” Randy performing at the Four River Outreach benefit helped the organization raise $169,000 last year. This year they hoped to crest $200,000, and though Travis couldn’t perform, his appearance after his health issues still made the night special. “Just being able to be here is a big improvement because he couldn’t even get out of the hospital and travel for a long time,” said Executive Director Arthur Horn.
See the complete report from KTEN below.
Today would have been the 91st birthday of Hillbilly Shakespeare Hank Williams, and we get news that a new movie is in the works based around a novel written by alt-country pioneer Steve Earle called I’ll Never Get Out Of The World Alive. The movie will be stared in and produced by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, most famous for playing Thor in recent comic book movies. Hemsworth has optioned the movie rights to Earle’s novel, and Benjamin Grayson wrote the script for the movie and will be directing it—his first time directing a film. Laura Bickford of films such as Traffic and Duplicity has also been brought on board as a producer. The movie will be an independent film.
Steve Earle’s I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive novel was released in May of 2011 by Houghton Mifflin. It is titled after a Hank Williams song that in an eerie twist of fate, was the last of Hank’s songs to be released as a single while he was still alive. The novel doesn’t involve Hank intimately, but follows the fictitious life of Toby āDocā Ebersole who is defrocked after being Hank’s doctor at the time of Hank’s mysterious death on New Years Day, 1953 in the back of a black Cadillac. The story picks up ten years later when Ebersole is living in San Antonio, TX and is an unlicensed practitioner performing abortions and other illegal procedures to support his heroin addiction. Toby Ebersole is haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams from carrying around the guilt of killing country music’s first superstar.
No word on when production for the movie may start, or when it may be released. Hemsworth has a busy schedule coming up. He is currently filming the reboot of the Chevy Chase classic Vacation, and just wrapped up two more movies to be released in 2015: In the Heart of the Sea, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Hank Williams films have been all the rage lately, and so have recent actors in comic book novels starring in them. British actor Tom Hiddleston who plays the nemesis of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor character is set to star in a new biopic about Hank Williams called I Saw The Light that begins filming in Louisiana next month. Elizabeth Olsen, I Saw The Light‘s female lead playing opposite of Hiddleston as Hank’s wife Audrey, is also cast in Avengers: Age of Ultron. I Saw The Light has received criticism from Hank’s grandson Hank3 and others for casting a non American in the role. Another Hank Williams movie The Last Ride was released in 2013.
Steve Earle also released an album in 2011 called I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive. No word if the music will find its way into the movie soundtrack.
72 hours have passed since Toby Keith delivered a drunken performance at the Klipsch Music Center just outside of Indianapolis on Saturday Night, and angry fans, some of which spent upwards of $300 for tickets, have still yet to receive any apologies or explanation. Though the complicit country music media has completely avoided this story, many major local news outlets in Indianapolis and elsewhere, including CBS WISH Channel 8, WTHR Channel 13, The Indianapolis Star, and KFOR-TV in Toby’s home state of Oklahoma, have been talking about the Toby Keith concert debacle today. Live Nation and the The Klipsch Music Center continue to refuse to comment on the situation, and there still has been no official word from Toby Keith himself.
Jeff Wagner of CBS WISH in Indianapolis did however speak with Toby Keith’s publicist, but not much explanation was given, and there certainly wasn’t an apology. “She told me she’s seen hundreds of his shows, and that he’s never had too much to drink. But she admitted, she didn’t attend this specific concert,” Jeff Wagner says in his report (see below). Later in the report Wagner says that Keith’s publicist told him, “‘All concert goers are entitled to their opinion,’ and that she’s seen a large amount of positive reviews to go along with the negative ones across social media.”Ā
But many others tell a much different story, including Ashley Mayhew, who was one of the concert goers who tweeted out that Live Nation, the Klipsh Music Center, and Toby Keith should at least acknowledge what happened after the concert. “A lot of people have said ‘Well he sings about bars, he sings about drinking, and that’s what he represents.’ But I kind of feel like Jimmy Buffett sings about drinking and partying, but he doesn’t show up to his shows wasted away in Margaritaville … People make mistakes, but this was an entire concert of slurred words, eyes closed, it was just a disappointment.”
- – - – - – - – - -
If Toby Keith would simply say something like, “Sorry folks, had a little too much to drink Saturday night. I apologize if I ruined anyone’s good time and I promise next time I roll through town I’ll make it up to you,” then this issue would go away. But with Live Nation and Toby Keith refusing to address this situation, fans are feeling even more disrespected than they were on Saturday night. As concert attendee Ashley Mayhew said, “We all make mistakes.” But if Toby Keith refuses to acknowledge his mistakes, and his publicist is saying, “he’s never had too much to drink“—clearly an incorrect assessment of Saturday night—what confidence do fans have that this won’t happen again at another concert, or that Keith’s state-of-mind and drinking habits are in order?
The attendees to Toby Keith’s Klipsch Music Center deserve an apology, if not a refund. And ignoring the problem at this point has only made it worse.
UPDATE: Six of the 10 guitars have been found! Check below for updates.
Texas singer-songwriter Radney Foster is on the lookout for ten guitars and a Del Rio amp that were stolen from him recently, including the 1988 Gibson J-100 he can be seen holding above, and a Martin D-28 that was the first guitar he ever bought. The guitars were taken from a locked storage unit in Nashville. Thieves apparently busted the door jamb to enter the locked unit, and made out with its contents. The Del Rio, TX-native is asking people to be on the lookout for the items, and to post pictures of the guitars if they have them.
“Radney put his guitars in a storage unit, so that they would be locked up (and climate controlled) after his studio flooded,” says his managerĀ Tamara Saviano. Radney was affected like many musicians in the flooding of the Cumberland River in May of 2010. “It was inside a facility that needed an access code, and the thief must have seen him loading, because he busted the door jam enough to get the door open with the lock still on.”
Apparently one of the guitars has already potentially been spotted in a consignment shop, and Radney is currently looking into seeing if more guitars may have come from the same seller.
UPDATE (9-15 5:30 PM CDT): From Radney Foster, “One of the guitars was already found! Someone in Dallas saw my FB post, texted Jon Randall in Nashville, who just happened to be near a guitar shop..and found the J-45! Talking with the police right now; photos to come.“
UPDATE (9-15 8:00 PM CDT): Six of the ten guitars have been found in a local shop in Nashville, and apparently two others could be found shortly.
“All hail the power of social media!” says Radney. “6 of the 10 guitars have been recovered with your help, and I have a line on where to find two more tomorrow. They were stolen from a locked storage unit in Nashville.”
The two guitars that are still missing for sure are the Martin D-28 Acoustic, and the Gibson Black J-30 acoustic. See pictures below.
More info when it becomes available. Meanwhile be on the lookout for the following items:
- – - – - – - – - – -
Original List of Stolen Guitars
1978 Martin D-28 Acoustic
The first guitar I ever bought. I wrote “Crazy Over You” on this guitar.
1988 Gibson Sunburst J-100 Acoustic with bow tie fret markers
Seen on the cover of Del Rio, TX, 1959 (the original and the revisited). I wrote “Just Call Me Lonesome,” “Nobody Wins” and countless other songs on this guitar.
1988 Gibson black J-30 acoustic with RCA Nashville logo headstock
serial # 93210004
RCA gave this as a Christmas gift when I was in Foster and Lloyd. It was stolen once before in Houston, and I kept the Houston police evidence tag on it!
1958 Gibson Les Paul Jr. (Single cutaway sunburst)
This belonged to one of my dad’s best friends. He sold it to me, only after I promised to love it and play it on a record.Ā
1948 Martin 000-18 Acoustic
This belonged to my cousin’s husband. She wanted me to have it, so that it would be played and loved again.
1990ās Fender Telecaster, blonde (1952 reissue)
1966 Fender Jazzmaster ā Lake Placid Blue (faded to green)
1967 Fender Jaguar (Lake Placid Blue)
1972 Fender Telecaster Thinline (blonde)
Gibson J-45 Blonde, Rad-50 on headstock (says “Happy Birthday Radney”)
Serial # 01489003
My band gave me this guitar on my 50th birthday.
E-bo custom amp.
One of a kind, with a Texas cut out.
Saturday Night (9-13) Toby Keith made a tour stop at the Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana just outside of Indianapolis on his “Shut Up & Hold On” tour presented by Ford F-Series Trucks, and according to many of the concert goers, Toby was too drunk to perform, put on a terrible show, and now some fans are demanding their money back. A cavalcade of attendees took to Twitter and Facebook to complain about Toby Keith forgetting words, and generally stumbling through his performance.
“Awful show last night so drunk it was pathetic,” concert goer John Collins tweeted out. “When your 11 year old daughter asks whats wrong with Toby !! #embarrassing.” Kari Woehler said, “Can’t remember words. I’m a nurse. What if came to work drunk?” Caitlin Gill says, “This is disappointing. Paid a lot for these tickets and he is too drunk to sing.”
There’s been no public acknowledgement from either the Toby Keith camp, the Klipsch Music Center, or the promoter Live Nation about Toby Keith’s drunken state, but numerous fans have indicated they are reaching out to Live Nation requesting refunds.
This is not the first time the Ford Truck Man has thrown a bad show because of too many adult beverages. Some believe Toby Keith was too drunk when he opened Rodeo Houston in 2013.
ā Ashley Mayhew (@AmberStarfish) September 15, 2014
I won’t ever go to a Toby Keith concert again. Not gonna pay to watch a drunk guy sing. ā Ashley Hughes (@AshleyHughes96) September 14, 2014
99% sure Toby Keith was drunk tonight….not the best concert
ā Zac Coons (@zaccoons) September 14, 2014
Wow was Toby Keith drunk tonight !! ā John Collins (@JohnCollins911) September 14, 2014
So Toby Keith was terrible…he was so drunk u couldn’t understand the words..
ā CaSEy RoTE (@casey_mikel) September 14, 2014
Toby Keith, not worth it. Was drunk on stage, sounded terrible. ā Charlie Duffy (@Charlie_Duffy32) September 14, 2014
Toby Keith’s so drunk rn š
ā Kennedy Trendelman (@k_e_n_98) September 14, 2014
Toby Keith is so drunk, he forgot the lines to my favorite song. šš¢ ā Katelyn (@ML4everKatie) September 14, 2014
ā Emily Schafer (@emilyelizabeths) September 14, 2014
Toby Keith is more drunk than the crowd right now ā Jake Harper (@Harpertown) September 14, 2014
Attention world: @TobyKeithMusic puts on a horrible show. Don’t bother showing up if the performer is too drunk to know lyrics.
ā Sammi Coppedge (@SammiCoppedge) September 14, 2014
@TobyKeithMusic very disappointed in Indy show. TK too stoned. Can’t remember words. I’m a nurse. What if came to work drunk?
ā Kari Woehler (@hoosiercubby) September 14, 2014
@TobyKeithMusic this is disappointing. Paid a lot for these tickets and he is too drunk to sing.
ā Caitlin Gill (@CaitGillMPH) September 14, 2014
Lucinda Williams is getting ready to release a double LP called Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone on September 30th through her new label Highway 30 Records on Thirty Tigers. The 20-song release will see appearances by Tony Joe White, Ian McLagan, Bill Frisell, and the Wallflowers’ Jakob Dylan and Stuart Mathis. The album starts off with a song called “Compassion” based off a poem by Lucinda’s father Miller Williams, and also includes a cover of J.J. Cale’s “Magnolia.”
Lucinda Williams stopped down to talk to Rolling Stone about the release recently, saying in part, “I was on a writing binge, and we just kind of got on a roll. We actually ended up recording enough for three albums. So we decided, ‘What the hell, let’s break the rules and do a double album.’”
She also had some interesting things to say when asked if she pays attention to mainstream country much these days.
Oh, God, no. Are you kidding? No. It’s not the lack of talent, necessarily. It’s just the production on the albums ā I just can’t stand it. There’s that guy Jamey Johnson, he’s amazing. He’s great. And there’s a handful of ‘em. But I don’t know. Some of these girls now, you hear about them, and somebody says, “Oh, she’s really different. She’s really pushing the envelope and really edgy,” and all that. And I go, “OK.” I listen to it, and I go, “Really? This is edgy?”
Then Lucinda really took the gloves off.
Yeah. It’s like John Ciambotti once said: “Country music today is like Seventies rock without the cocaine.” You know? They need to come up with another name for it.
John Ciambotti was the bass player for the Bay Area-based 70′s rock band Clover, that among other accomplishments backed Elvis Costello on his debut album. Costello’s current rhythm section appears on Lucinda’s Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone.
Lucinda Williams rose into the national spotlight as the songwriter for numerous hits by more well-known female performers including Mary Chapin Carpenter whose rendition of “Passionate Kisses” won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1994. Lucinda’s breakout success was her 1998 album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road produced by Steve Earle. She has released 11 total albums, including reissuing her self-titled album from 1988 earlier this year.
The upcoming biopic on Hank Williams entitled I Saw The Light has its leading lady. The part of Audrey Williams—Hank’s first wife and one of the foremost influences on his music—will be played by Elizabeth Olsen, little sister of famous twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and recent star of films such as Captain America:The Winter Soldier and Godzilla. She will play Audrey across from Tom Hiddleston, who is known for his own acting in comic books films as well as other roles. They will be directed by Marc Abraham, who also wrote the screenplay for the film based off of Colin Escott’s Hank Williams biography.
Like her sisters, Elizabeth Olsen began acting at a very young age. At 4-years-old she was appearing in the movies of her older twin sisters, but walked away from acting briefly after the controversy surrounding Mary-Kate’s eating disorder. Her role in the 2011 movie Martha Marcy May Marlene is given credit for starting her acting career in earnest, and Elizabeth has since starred in eleven other films, including another comic book movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron set to be released in 2015.
Audrey Williams, born Audry Mae Sheppard, was married to Hank Williams from December 15, 1944, until July 10, 1952. Hank Williams later remarried, but as a performer herself, an important player in the Hank Williams estate after Hank’s death, and the mother of Hank Williams Jr., Audrey’s influence on both the story of Hank Williams and country music as a whole looms large. Audrey played upright bass in Hank’s band upon occasion, and had aspirations of stepping out into her own spotlight. “Her duets with Hank were like an extension of their married life in that she fought him for dominance on every note,” says biographer Colin Escott. Audrey is buried beside Hank Williams in Montgomery, Alabama.
The casting of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams has already stimulated some controversy. Hank3, the grandson of Hank Williams has criticized the casting, saying that it should be an American or a Southerner to play the Hillbilly Shakespeare. Video of Tom Hiddleston singing Hank Williams surfaced over the weekend from the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan.
The production for I Saw The Light is also gearing up for an open casting call for some of the movie’s smaller speaking roles and extras. The casting call will be held on September 14th from 11 AM to 4 PM at 6901 W. 70th Shreveport, LA 71129. They are also soliciting the public for classic cars to use in the film.
“Also we are looking for extras of all ages (mostly adults) and anyone who has any ‘western outfits’ should attend the open call wearing those outfits,” the casting call operated by Legacy Casting says. “We are also seeking period vehicles 1930-1950. It is not necessary to bring the vehicle, but please bring good photographs of the vehicles. Everyone should bring non-returnable current photos of themselves for us to keep.”
I Saw The Light will begin shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana in mid October. Rodney Crowell is the Executive Music Producer for the film.
Robert Earl Keen may be best known for his storytelling songs and laid back Texas country style, but for Keen’s next project his grass is going blue. The Houston, TX native has been working on a bluegrass album over the last couple of years, and Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions is scheduled to come out in February 2015 through Dualtone Records.
“I didnāt write any of the songs, and we put it together with my band,” Robert Earl Keen tells The Nashville Scene. “Lyle [Lovett] sang on a song, and Peter Rowan sang on a song, and Natalie Maines sang ‘The Wayfaring Stranger’ with me. Kym Warner played the mandolin, and Sara Watkins played fiddle. Danny Barnes played the banjo. So itās all over the map ā itās Flatt and Scruggs, some ‘traditional, arranged-by,’ you know, that kind of thing. The Stanley Brothers, [John] Hartford ā a life-long love of bluegrass. I thought, you know, if I donāt do this now, Iām never gonna do it.”
Keen told the Austin Chronicle in 2013 that the inspiration for the album came out of getting a little bored with the status quo. He tracked out over 26 songs for the album (and counting), and purposely didn’t write a lick of music for the project.
“I could sit down and make up some fake bluegrass songs, but I just thought it would sound really contrived … Thereās some arranging and editing going on, but I wanted to make the songs sound like how bluegrass songs sound to me … I write all the time. Iām just trying to do something different. Maybe Iām a little bored with some of it. I do feel with as many records as Iāve put out and as long as Iāve been in this business, I do feel a little bit at a loss for what to do thatās really interesting. How many zillions of songs are out there? Itās like a movie. It starts off following a camel, then you widen the scene and thereās some palm trees and some sand. Then it becomes a country, then it becomes the world, then it becomes the universe. Itās like, ‘Jesus, can we stop with the songwriting for just a second?’”
What songs can we expect from the new bluegrass album? Keen continues to Nashville Scene,
“We did ‘Hot Corn, Cold Corn,’ a Flatt and Scruggs song … Itās pretty foot-stompinā and hollerinā kind of stuff. We did ‘Poor Ellen Smith’ and we made it extremely soulful … There was some movement around, you know, sometimes. Like The Stanley Brothersā ‘The White Dove,’ we did that just solid straight. Iām not out to re-invent the format. I love to do that, but at the same time, the risk is you just donāt do the song justice. I think in terms of what works for the song, just like I do with my own songs: ‘Hey, this is really good, and this would be nice and sparse. And weāre gonna have this one really in your face.’ Itās a great record ā it sounds great.”
Keen has of course dabbled in bluegrass throughout his career. His song “The Bluegrass Widow” from Keen’s 1998 The Live Album lists off traditional bluegrass tunes as it tells its story.
Sturgill Simpson has been touring on and off for the past few months with Zac Brown Band upon the request of Zac Brown himself. And on this most recent leg, Sturgill was invited to share the stage with Zac and the boys on their extended rendition of the Marshall Tucker Band classic, “Can’t You See,” written by the great Toy Caldwell. The song was also famously covered by Waylon Jennings in 1976 on his Are You Ready For The Country album, reaching #4 on the Billboard Country charts.
Zac Brown Band has been playing the song regularly over the last few years, and guitar player, singer, and songwriter Clay Cook, who used to be in the Marshall Tucker Band, takes the lead on the song that can regularly stretch out to 12 or 13 minutes. At recent shows, including this last weekend’s sold-out shows a Fiddler’s Green Amphiteatre in Greenwood Village, CO., both Sturgill Simpson and his guitar player Laur “Little Joe” Joamets joined Zac Brown Band on stage for the song.
A few videos of the performances have surfaced, one which has pretty clear visuals but muffled sound, and another that has great sound but the camera is sideways. On the second one the crowd erupts when Sturgill’s name is called out to take a verse of the Southern rock classic. Hopefully some better video surfaces, but until then it is still cool to see and hear Sturgill collaborating with one of country music’s biggest drawing acts.
Sturgill Simpson takes a detour tonight (9-10) to Los Angeles to perform on Conan O’Brien.
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