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New Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Coming

June 13, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  8 Comments

hank-williamsCountry music legend Hank Williams will be getting a brand new retrospective in an upcoming movie called “I Saw The Light” that will be based off of the Colin Escott biography of Hank’s life, and directed and written by Marc Abraham, an American film producer known for such movies as Spy Game and most recently The Man With The Iron Fists. English actor Tom Hiddleston, known best for his work in recent Marvel Comics movies such as Thor and The Avengers, has been cast in the leading role as Hank Williams.

Production of the film is set to start in Louisiana in October, and the film’s producers have reportedly struck a deal with Sony ATV, who owns the rights to all of Hank’s songs, to use his iconic compositions in the film. It is a co-production between Bron Studios, RatPac Entertainment, and Creative Wealth Media Finance according to, with Marc Abraham, Brett Ratner, and G. Marq Rosell all being listed as producers, and James Packer as executive producer.

The biopic film on Hank Williams has been rumored for quite some time, with director Marc Abaraham being quoted previously that the film has been his top priority. Tom Hiddleston, who is currently in the midst of filming another movie, is said to be practicing to perform the songs “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Hey Good Lookin’” in the film.

Unlike other films about Hank Williams such as the small-budget The Last Ride released in 2012 about the final few days of Hank’s life, or the 1964 musical Your Cheatin’ Heart where Hank was played by George Hamilton and it took a more theatrical take on tHank, all indications are that I Saw The Light will be a more proper biopic in the vein of the award-winning Johnny Cash film Walk The Line from 2005 that revitalized interest in the singer’s career.

Stay tuned as more information about this important film becomes available.

Tom Hiddleston tweeted out the below photo simply saying “I Saw The Light” yesterday.



New American Roots Category Being Added to Grammys

June 12, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  13 Comments

grammy-awardsOn Thursday, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences or Grammy Awards announced a litany of new changes to the rules and categories that govern its annal awards held every February. “The Academy’s Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its passionate commitment to keeping The Recording Academy a relevant and responsive organization in our dynamic music community,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “This year’s changes to our Awards process are thoughtful, inclusive, and reflective of the current musical landscape, and we look forward to implementing them for the upcoming 57th Annual Grammy Awards.”

The Grammy Awards include a total of 83 categories, and go much deeper than what viewers might see on the televised portion of the presentation, including acknowledging many often-overlooked accomplishments by independent artists in the Americana, blues, bluegrass, and folk fields, as well as instrumentalists and other non-commercial musicians.

Within the new rules is the establishment of only one new category for the 2015 awards, but it is one that will benefit many of America’s roots musicians. An award for “Best American Roots Performance in the American Roots Music Field” will be handed out for the first time in 2015, and both the nominees and winner will enjoy the distinction of being recognized by the most distinguished body governing recorded music. The establishment of a new roots category also acknowledges the growing demand and importance for American roots music, of which country, folk, and blues are an integral part of, but don’t always do the best at defining.

According to the Grammy Awards, the new category will “encompass all of the subgenres of the Field (Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk, regional roots music), and recognizes singles/tracks only as well as solo artists/duos/groups/collaborations. This puts the Field in line with the Pop, Rock, Rap, R&B, Country, and Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Fields, all of which have performance categories.”

The news from the National Academy of Recording Arts about the new American Roots category was overshadowed somewhat by arguably the biggest rule change made this year, which is the decision to allow songs with samples of other songs to be considered for top Grammy awards, including Song of the Year. “Changes approved by Academy trustees include allowing samples or interpolations of previously-written songs in all songwriting categories,” the Academy said. This is a rule change was long challenged by purists not wanting to see songs with samples be judged beside completely original works.

Multiple other categories of the 83 awards had changes in the wording implemented, but stayed mostly static.

Though the instituting of a roots category is a win for many roots music fans and musicians, it also should be remembered that a few years ago, the Grammy Awards eliminated categories for country instrumentals and others that had seen artists like Asleep At The Wheel and Marty Stuart walk away with awards in the past.


Dale Watson to Release the “Truckin’ Sessions Trilogy”

June 10, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  7 Comments

dale-watson-the-truckin-sessions-trilogyFirst there was one. Then there were two. And now there are three: Truckin’ sessions that is, from Texas-based country music (or Ameripolitan, as it were) legend in the making, Dale Watson.

Dale Watson released his first album of exclusively truckin’-inspired songs in 1998 called The Truckin’ Sessions. The album became a favorite amongst devoted Dale Watson fans over the years, which inspired Dale to release a second installment The Truckin’ Sessions, Vol. 2 in 2009. Now Dale aims to make it a perfect three by releasing yet another 14-song volume of truckin’ songs in the Truckin’ Songs Trilogy due from Red River Entertainment on July 8th. The collection will include all three discs, though it’s not entirely clear at the moment if the new one will be made available by itself.

“There’s a definite style of music that has to be used when writing a truckin’ song,” says Watson, whose father was a trucker. “The words mean a lot. You can’t cover them up with a wall of music.” Watson wrote and produced all the songs on the new album, with help from real truckers on one of the tunes called “Freewheelin’”. While live on Sirius XM’s Roaddog Show, Watson invited truckers to call in and contribute lyrics to the song that resulted in the final composition.

The Truckin’ Sessions Trilogy is available for pre-order.


George Strait’s Final Concert Shatters Attendance Record

June 8, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  24 Comments


King George Strait played what is expected to be his final show as a big ticket touring musician to a packed audience at Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington, TX on Saturday night, and the event that saw people travel from all over the world to witness, and drew some of country music’s biggest names in support, shattered previous attendance records for an indoor concert. A head count of 104, 793 attendees was taken, roughly 5,000 over the stadium’s listed capacity of 100,000, and breaking the previous record for an indoor concert of 87,500 held by a Rolling Stones show at the Superdome in New Orleans in 1981—the same year Strait released his first hit “Unwound”.

The George Strait concert was the final show in his 60-date farewell “Cowboy Rides Away” tour that embarked on the road January 13th, 2013 for a show in Lubbock, TX. Showing up to support George was an impressive list of performers, especially since the date competed with the big night of Nashville’s CMA Fest at LP Field. The show included Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack, Sheryl Crow, and Asleep At The Wheel. Alan Jackson and George Strait reprized their CMA Award-winning duet “Murder On Music Row” from 2000 on the custom-built stage that sat in the center of the field. “It’s still appropriate,” the duo said about the protest song.

Other performances included George Strait and Vince Gill covering George Jones’ song “Love Bug” as well as “Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind”, Martina McBride and George sang duets on “Golden Ring” and “Jackson”, Miranda Lambert joined in for “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls”, and Alan Jackson also sang “Amarillo By Morning” with night’s man of honor. At the end of the concert, everyone took the stage, including Ray Benson from Asleep At The Wheel to sing “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” and finish up with “The Cowboy Rides Away”.

George Strait performed 584 shows since 1990 that grossed more than $405 million, had 44 Number One hits on Billboard’s country chart, and sold nearly 70 million records. But as Strait promised when first announcing the tour, this doesn’t mean he will stop recording or playing shows upon occasion. It will just be the end of the long haul stadium/arena tours. “Like Arnold Schwarzenegger says, I’ll be back,” Strait said before the final song. There was also a film crew shooting the whole event that saw tickets spike to an average of $688 in the secondary market.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here tonight,” said Strait from the stage. “It’s just been on my mind since we started this tour two years ago, and finally it’s here tonight. We broke a record for the most people, ever. Really? Why wouldn’t we, huh?”


Randy Travis Health Update: Emerges with Dolly Parton

June 7, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  8 Comments

randy-travisEver since the health problems started for Randy Travis on July 7th, 2013 when the singer was admitted to the hospital for viral cardiomyopathy (a weakening of the heart muscle), and then suffered a stroke as a complication to his treatment and had to have emergency surgery to alleviate pressure on his brain, fans have been concerned for the welfare of Randy, and real news on his status and progress has been scarce.

There have been some good signs of progress here and there however in the form of pictures surfacing occasionally of the singer, including in January when he was seen on his ranch in Tioga, TX near Dallas, and later in February when he made his first public appearance at a Neal McCoy concert in Dallas. Now Randy, who was released from a physical rehabilitation facility on October 11th, 2013, recently attended a Dolly Parton concert at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, OK on May 31st, and Dolly posted a picture of her, Randy, and country singer Janie Fricke through her Tumblr account with the message, “It was so great to have Randy Travis at my show! Randy is one of my good friends and one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time.  He was looking good and doing great!”

Though there has yet to be any official word from the Randy Travis camp about the extent of the paralysis suffered during the stroke, or specifics on how his recovery is going, Randy’s father Harold Traywick told Closer Magazine in early February that, “He’s getting his voice back now, little by little.” Another unnamed source said that Randy is “anxious to get back to work and connect with his fans,” and is willing to do “whatever it takes to regain everything [he] lost.” Randy has been working through grueling physical therapy sessions to improve his strength and motor skills. “Randy’s doctors are extremely pleased with his progress,” says the source.

Neal McCoy also told People Magazine in early March, “He looks great, but is still struggling to use both of his hands. “I don’t know if he’ll ever fully recover, but he’s a tough guy with a work ethic. He’s getting his voice back now, little by little.”

Though there’s no official word from doctors whether they think Randy Travis will ever be able to perform again, the pictures of him in public continue to be positive news.



Out To Pasture? Not Alan Jackson

June 5, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  29 Comments


To say that Alan Jackson has had a busy 24 hours doesn’t begin to tell the half of it. The 55-year-old entertainer who recently came back to his roots by releasing a critically-acclaimed bluegrass album started his Wednesday night off at the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville to witness Lee Ann Womack and Kacey Musgraves perform his song “Livin’ On Love”, and to receive the CMT’s first ever Impact Award. “That song never sounded better,” said Alan about the Womack / Musgraves performance.

Meanwhile secretly across the street at the lower Broadway venue The Stage, they were setting up for an Alan Jackson secret show that would transpire just after the CMT Awards concluded. Reports of someone big loading into the spot had been swirling around Nashville all day, which is in the midst of its annual CMA Fan Fest festivities. Alan turned out to be the surprise entertainer, and played an extended set to a packed house of lucky Fan Fest revelers and VIP’s.

Then lo and behold, Jackson was up bright and early this morning conducting a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame. When the presser was first announced last week, it had people speculating about what Jackson could be announcing, concerned that the last time a big country star called a press conference at the Hall of Fame, it was for George Strait’s announcement that he was retiring from touring. But Jackson’s announcement was to the contrary, telling the assembled press corps that he will be embarking on a 25-date, 25th Anniversary Tour marking a quarter century in the country music business. “A lot of people wanted to know if this was a retirement announcement,” Jackson told the curious crowd. “I don’t work that much now. I don’t know what I would retire from.”

READ: Alan Jackson’s Forgotten 1994 ACM Awards Protest

And that’s just where the big news begins for Alan Jackson. Also announced, the Country Music Hall of Fame will be putting together an Alan Jackson exhibit commemorating his 25 year career that will open on August 29th at the newly-expanded Hall. He has also been named The Hall’s latest “Artist in Residence” and will be playing a series of shows at the museum between October 8th thru the 22nd.

“It’s hard for anybody to really understand where I came from, to have all this happen and to get where I am today is truly the American dream,” Jackson said. “People don’t realize how we had nothing and I didn’t know anything about music. Somebody said … ‘You sound as good as some of those guys on the radio, you should move to Nashville.’ I said, ‘OK.’ That’s basically what happened. And we came up here and this happened. It’s just a miracle. I still just can’t believe all this is going on.”

As the 25 year mark of his upcoming anniversary tour denotes, Alan Jackson is one of the artists poised to take advantage of the potential move by the country music industry to better highlight Jackson and other artists like him who have recently been forgotten by radio. The potential launching a new “classic” country format has the radio world buzzing, and might give artists like Jackson the ability to once again be heard prominently on the radio. He also has a song in the upcoming Seth McFarlane movie A Million Ways to Die in the West, and is rumored to be a target of Scott Borchetta for the upcoming NASH Icons venture. Alan Jackson is a hot commodity to say the least.

No dates or locations for the 25th Anniversary Tour have been announced yet, but with all the renewed interest in country music’s Class of ’89 and Alan Jackson specifically, it promises to be a big one.

Out to pasture? Not Alan.

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Hall of Fame Press Conference:

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Renowned Guitarist Duane Denison Rejoins Hank3′s Band

June 5, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  18 Comments


Hank Williams III, a.k.a. Hank3 has just embarked on a 15-date east coast tour after an extended period off the road, and joining him will be one of the most respected guitarists in independent music, and one that harkens back to the formative years of Hank3′s “Damn Band.”

Duane Denison is known for lending his guitar maestro talents to such projects as Firewater, the supergroup Tomahawk, and The Legendary Shack Shakers for a period, but most notably Dennison is the lead guitarist for the noise rock band The Jesus Lizard, which landed him on Spin’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time at #79 for being “Tightly controlled yet capable of ripping and tearing like a runaway chainsaw,” and for his “riffs influencing an entire generation of post-hardcore guitarists.”

When The Jesus Lizard disbanded in 1999, Denison began to play in Hank3′s touring band right as 3′s first album Risin’ Outlaw was being released. Denison made the shift to neotraditional country expertly, and became a staple and favorite of the early Hank3 live sound. Hank3 calling out “Denison!” before his solos can be heard in many early videos and live recordings of the band. Duane left the Damn Band in 2001 after seeing a Mr. Bungle concert and being impressed by vocalist Mike Patton (also of Faith No More fame) and joining the supergroup Tomahawk with Patton, John Stanier of Helmet, and Kevin Rutmanis of The Melvins.

duane-denison-2Denison later played with Firewater and a band called U.S.S.A. before a stint with Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers in 2008—the same year The Jesus Lizard reformed. Denison continues to perform with The Jesus Lizard today.

Classically trained, but influenced by a wide variety of styles, Duane Denison earned a degree in classic guitar at Eastern Michigan University, and studied under noted classical guitarist Christopher Parkening. The addition of Denison to Hank3′s Damn Band would definitely make the upcoming shows ones to see.

Denison lends his talents as Hank3′s lineup sees the absence of stand up steel guitar and dobro player Andy Gibson for the first time in many years. Andy also works with many artists as a sound engineer and producer. The other current members of The Damn Band are:

Anthony Galler – Upright Bass (Damn Band & 3)
Daniel Mason – Banjo (Damn Band)
David McElfresh – Fiddle, Steel Guitar (Damn Band), Keyboards (A.D.D.), Guitar (3Bar Ranch)
Duane Denison – Guitar (Damn Band)
Matt Bohli – Drums (Damn Band)
Phillip Cancilla – Drums (3Bar Ranch)
Bobby Hattenburg – Drums (3, A.D.D.)

The upcoming tour is expected to feature two hours of Hank3′s country and hellbilly music, followed by two 30-minute sets of punk-inspired music.

Hank3 Tour Dates:


Duane Denison in an early incarnation of Hank3′s Damn Band:


Ralph Stanley Guitarist James Alan Shelton Passes Away

June 3, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  11 Comments

james-alan-sheltonRalph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys lost their long-time lead guitarist and Ralph’s right hand man James Alan Shelton Tuesday night (6-3) due to Cancer. He was 53-years-old. According to Bluegrass Today, he was in an East Tennessee hospital near his home in Church Hill when he passed peacefully with his wife Greta at his side.

James Alan Shelton played lead guitar for Ralph Stanley for 20 years, first joining the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1994. But Shelton he also did so much more. For many years Ralph Stanley was known for wanting to handle his own affairs, but after gaining the trust of Stanley, James Shelton handled much of Stanley’s booking, publicity, and also acted as the band’s road manager and ambassador.

Shelton was born in Kingsport, TN, and raised on a tobacco farm just over the Virginia border near Gate City, listening to the bluegrass music of greats like Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, The Carter Family, and of course, The Stanley Brothers. He was a cross-picking style guitar player, and was known for his melodic approach that was more oriented toward respecting the style and structure of a tune as opposed to showing off his skill. His instrument was a 1946 D-28 Martin Herringbone, and he also had a Huss & Dalton signature series guitar named after him.

James Alan Shelton released his own records on the side, including the 2005 album Half Moon Bay that went on to be nominated for Best Instrumental Album Of The Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association, and the album Where I’m Bound released in 2010.

Beyond his musical accomplishments, James Alan Shelton was a valued member of the bluegrass community as one of the biggest champions of the old-time mountain style of bluegrass music.

The news comes amidst new reassurances from Ralph Stanley that he is not retiring from playing as he first announced in June of 2013. “God has had his hand on my career for the past 68 years. It’s up to him when I will quit. I have no plans of slowing down. I love my fans, and I love performing,” Stanley said in a statement.

Upon the news of James Shelton’s passing, Ralph Stanley said “James Shelton gave me twenty years of dedicated years service as a Clinch Mountain Boy. He was always honest, dependable, and a very good man to travel with. I will surly miss him. He was a wonderful friend.”

Photos from Ralph Stanley’s Facebook Page



Justin Townes Earle to Release ‘Single Mothers” Sept. 9th

June 3, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  21 Comments

justin-townes-earle-single-mothersThe wait by both Justin Townes Earle and his fans for new music is finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Justin will be releasing his 5th studio album Single Mothers on September 9th on Vagrant Records—the California-based label that is also home to artists like Black Joe Lewis, Blitzen Trapper, Edward Sharpe, and PJ Harvey. The album will be the first from Justin since his last and final record with Chicago-based Bloodshot Records, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now released in March of 2012.

After the resolution of Earle’s five-album Bloodshot contract, the son of Steve Earle and the namesake of Townes Van Zant found himself in the midst of an intense battle with the British-based label Communion Records owned in part by Ben Lovett, otherwise known as the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons. According to Earle, the company expected him to turn in 30 songs per his contract, which the label could then par down into an album release. The result was a December 15th Twitter tirade where Earle said, “I have now learned that you can never trust a bunch of babies that ain’t worked a day in their lives. May Shane McGowan kick their asses. The only thing I hate about business is that it’s frowned upon to pistol whip the competition. Tweets are gonna be angry for awhile. Just found out I won’t be making a record for a while due to a bunch of pussies in an office. Never working with another record label.”

Later, on December 18th, Earle continued, ““So I am being told that I agreed to write 30 songs and let the label “help” make the record. That for sent even sound like me! Like I would ever let some little twit fucking comb through my work. And calling me a liar well them is fighting words. Anytime bitch’s! … Let me make this clear! I have not, and never will write 30 songs in a year. That isn’t art it’s vomit. I write a record. Quality matters not quantity! I deliver records in sequence and have a pretty good record so far. I don’t need the new kids giving me tips. Lady’s and gents. I will find a way to get new music out very soon. Will write and record a solo EP. Then Find some grown ups to work with.”

Justin Townes Earle recently played the title track to Single Mothers on NPR’s Mountain Stage.

Earle has received critical acclaim for his music and songwriting since releasing the Yuma EP in 2007. In 2009 he won the Americana Music Award for New and Emerging Artist of the Year, and won Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year in 2009 for Midnight At The Movies, as well as SCM’s 2011 Artist of the Year.

Justin Townes Earle was also recently married.


Aaron Lewis Stops Concert, Twists Off On “Molesters”

June 3, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  22 Comments

aaron-lewisWarning: Language

We’ve seen these moments more and more at concerts, especially country music concerts where an artist has to stop everything down because someone in the crowd is acting completely inappropriate, but this instance may take the cake. Recent country music convert Aaron Lewis was manning the mic as part of his other gig as the frontman for the angry emo rock band Staind during the last weekends Rockfest in Kansas City, when he stopped the concert down during the song “Something To Remind You” to twist off on guys copping a feel on a 15-year-old crowd surfer. While smoking a cigarette and sporting a shirt of Johnny Cash flipping the bird, the Staind frontman said:

Alright, listen up, you fucking assholes. That fucking girl right there is, like, 15 fucking years old and you fucking pieces of shit are molesting her while she’s on the fucking crowd. Your fucking mothers should be ashamed of themselves, you pieces of shit. You should all be fucking beaten down by everyone around you for being fucking pieces of shit. If I fucking see that shit again, I swear to God, I will point you out in the crowd and have everyone around you beat your fucking ass.

Apparently Lewis got his point across, because the concert proceeded without further incident.

Aaron’s outburst is reminiscent of other artists having to stop down concerts this year, mostly for fighting. Jason Isbell had to stop down as show in Madison, Wisconsin in February for fighting. Jake Owen came to the aid of a girl who was being hit by a man in Ft. Wayne. And Tim McGraw while in Wheatland, CA had to call out concertgoers for brawling.

Arron Lewis has proven himself to be protective of women before. In January he debuted an alternate version of Tyler Farr’s creepy stalking song “Redneck Crazy” written by Zach Woods. “I just always thought the message of this song was pretty fucked up,” he said about the original song. Lewis himself has three daughters, Zoe Jane, Nyla Rae and Indie Shay.



Travis Tritt Calls Out Brantley Gilbert for “Disrespect”

June 1, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  80 Comments


On Saturday night (5-31), Valory Music Group artist Brantley Gilbert headlined the Blue Ridge Music Festival in Salem, Virginia, with Thomas Rhett, ABC Nashville actress and singer Clare Bowen, and Travis Tritt opening for him. Apparently what transpired stimulated Travis Tritt to take to Twitter to question the level of respect he and his fellow openers were treated with, and the respect he and other aging artists are receiving in general. Here are the Tweets in sequential order.

Even though @BrantleyGilbert only gave us 8 feet of stage, we had a great time performing for everyone @BlueRidgeFest tonight. Great crowd! My word of advice to all up and coming performers: Don’t kick anymore asses on your way up than you are willing to kiss on your way down! I’ve always treated my heroes and peers with respect. I’ve respected everyone from George Jones, Waylon and Charlie Daniels who opened.

Then Tritt tended to soften his stance as the tweets continued.

I doubt very seriously if @Brantley Gilbert knows how disrespectful his stage setup is to those who open for him. However, I’m just saying. Regardless of circumstances, I love performing for an appreciative audience. The folks make the show for me. Nobody appreciates y’all more! Make no mistake, @BrantleyGilbert is a fellow Georgia boy. He deserves whatever place he has carved for himself in the biz …. All I’m saying is that his handlers/management should be a little more aware of how he comes off to those he works with. No disrespect. Everyone in this biz knows we can’t please everyone, in spite of our best intentions. However, non of us can fix what we don’t know is wrong.

About an hour later, Tritt added:

Know this. I’ve had openers from Trisha Yearwood, Dixie Chicks, Little Texas, Joe Diffie, Lynyrd Skynyrd & LeRoy Parnell over the years …. And I’ve always personally made sure that they had all the stage space and production that they needed to put on the best show possible.

No response has been seen from Brantley Gilbert, who has not posted a Tweet since May 30th. Gilbert at the moment is promoting his recently released Just As I Am album which has been surprising people with its sales numbers and debuted at #1 in country music.

Tritt’s snipping of Gilbert’s nose (or at least his crew and management’s) is reminiscent of last summer when artists began speaking out like never before about the direction of the genre and the lack of respect for older artists, arguably crowned by Zac Brown who called Luke Bryan’s song “That’s My Kind of Night” the “Worst Song Ever.”

In January, Travis Tritt also had some criticism of the direction of the country music business, telling Peter Cooper of The Tennessean:

There’s a mentality in the country music world of Nashville that says, “You don’t know anything, and we know how to do this.” It’s “We know what’s best for you: You get to the microphone, sing what we tell you to sing, play what we tell you to play, and you’ll be fine.” That scares people away from branching out and doing things that creatively are out of the box.

The music business establishment does not have a crystal ball. They do not know everything that they tell you they know. I’d say to any of the new people coming out, ‘Find the courage to step out and try it your way.’ Otherwise, what we get is a cookie-cutter mentality that isn’t good for artists who are having to portray themselves as something they aren’t, or that are capable of doing so much more but are being stifled.



Kris Kristofferson to Play Andrew Jackson in Miniseries

May 31, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  3 Comments


He’s been an army helicopter pilot, a Highwayman, and Hollywood A-lister, and one of the most heralded songwriters in the history of country music. And now Kris Kristofferson will be playing a historic figure in an upcoming eight-hour miniseries on The History Channel.

Kristofferson has been cast in the role of Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States, in the miniseries Texas Rising, set to chronicle the Texas Revolution against Mexico in the mid 1830′s, and the rise of the Texas Rangers—the longest-standing law enforcement agency in North America. The United States and Andrew Jackson had a very limited role in the Texas Revolution, favoring to avoid direct U.S. involvement in the conflict, but Jackson was a mentor to Texas General and eventual President of the Texas Republic, Sam Houston. Bill Paxton, a native Texan like Kristofferson, will be playing Sam Houston in the series.

“This iconic story and role really needed an American who is able to command the screen and captivate audiences,” Leslie Grief, the CEO of the production company Thinkfactory Media told The Hollywood Reporter. Thinkfactory, along with A+E Studios and ITV Studios America are handling the making of the series. Leslie Grief was also behind the successful Hatfields & McCoys‘ miniseries. “For me, Kris was an obvious choice. There aren’t too many actors that are able to embody this character and the stature, strength and liberty to play the part.”

Other notable cast members for the film include Ray Liotta, Brendan Fraser, Michael Rapaport, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Thomas Jane, Olivier Martinez, Chad Michael Murray, and Max Thieriot. Written by Leslie Greif, Darrell Fetty and Ted Mann. Texas Rising is set to premier in 2015.


Luke Bryan Falls Off Stage in Charlotte, North Carolina

May 30, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  26 Comments

luke-bryan-001Yeah, so let’s all point and laugh at Luke Bryan like we’ve all never bit it before. Maybe it was karma that the “country” star was performing Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ hit rap song, “Can’t Hold Us” at the time. Or maybe, just maybe, Luke Bryan is a human, and bleeds like the rest of us.

The hottest commodity in country music right now was performing at the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, NC on Thursday night (5-29) when he took a step too many towards the edge of the stage and tumbled down a good five to six feet into the pit between crowd barrier and the stage. The fall resulted in an injury that Bryan elucidated to his fans later on Twitter resulted in “a few stitches” on his leg. “My socks scream liberty. Go USA,” Bryan said, referring to the blood-soaked nature of his post-concert toe cushions.

After taking a moment to catch his breath after the fall, Luke Bryan resumed regular programming, but not after referring to another North Carolina stage fall he suffered in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 17th during the middle of a blistering rock guitar solo. “So check this out. Check this out. The last time I was in North Carolina, I busted my ass on stage. What is it about North Carolina that makes me bust my ass?” 

Can’t speak for the February fall, but Thursday’s might have been caused by the gobs of ice that were littering the front of the stage for some reason, which can be seen being swept into the pit by stage hands as Luke Bryan recovers. So maybe Luke isn’t just a clutz, or the genre gods are trying to send Luke Bryan a message. Maybe we should send Scooby Doo to investigate, or maybe we should move on to something of more importance.

Now, yuck it up with the videos of the North Carolina falls below.

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NOTE: The original video that was circulating has been taken down. You can see the fall in THIS VIDEO that is not embeddable, or watch the TMZ coverage below. Also it can be seen clearer in the 2nd video that there was ice and drinks all over the front of the stage which likely led to the fall.

Earlier North Carolina Fall:


Garth Brooks Serves a Cease & Desist to “GARTH-FM”

May 29, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  21 Comments

103.9-garth-fm-louisville-002Over the Memorial Day weekend, Lousiville, KY classic country station 103.9 turned heads when it decided to switch from it’s traditional country format to “Garth, The Whole Garth, and Nothing But The Garth,” playing the 90′s country superstar on 24 hour rotation. GARTH-FM drew the curiosity of many, and the ire of some, including Garth’s legal team apparently, who has since served the radio station with orders to stop using his name and likeness in promotion.

“First….the response to XXXXX FM has been overwhelming,” Program Director Todd Schumacher said in a statement. “Thanks to those of you who have reached out to us via phone, email, and social media. Unfortunately a certain artist’s legal team has contacted us and told us in no uncertain terms that we can no longer use the name XXXXX FM. So from this point forward, we will no longer use the name XXXXX FM.” 

GARTH-FM’s logo of Garth’s stylized visage have been removed from and the station’s other web properties, the call letters have been replaced by ‘X”s, and though the station is still playing Garth’s songs and Garth’s songs only, his specific name in the on-the-air radio promotional content has been bleeped out.


“Our Programming team is currently behind closed doors determining the evolution of our radio station,” continues Todd Schumacher. “We don’t have a solution now, but we will soon. Tune in Monday morning at 7am to hear the debut of the new 103.9. In the meantime, enjoy more music from one of country music’s greatest artists.”

Garth Brooks and GARTH-FM by proxy been receiving great attention this week from the talk of a potential format split in country music, with the music of artists like Garth from a 25-year “classic” window being featured on their own stations, apart from Top 40 country. Garth Brooks is very much a centerpiece of this plan, with Big Machine Records pursuing the superstar to sign with their new NASH Icons venture with Cumulus Media. GARTH-FM became the first, or one of this first stations to make the symbolic shift to the new 25-year “classic” format.

Though playing only one song, or one artist during the reformatting of a radio station is a common practice in the radio business known as “stunting,” Summit Media, which owns 103.9, seemed more committed to the Garth-only format for longer than the few days that a “stunt” normally occurs.

“What’s happening now is that country is going more and more pop in a lot of ways,” Director of Marketing for Summit Media in Louisville, Brian Eichenberger told Saving Country Music on Tuesday. “You have the representation on the legends side, but you don’t necessarily have it in that 90′s to 2000′s, to 2002 period where country was really strong. And the best figure head for for that is Garth. So our first move was to make a strong statement about bringing that era back and making it all about Garth. May we add in other artists at some point? That’s highly possible. But right now we really want to make a statement about, ‘What happened to the 90′s? Let’s bring them back.’ And here’s Garth to do it”

In all likelihood 103.9 will adopt this new 25-year “classic” format come Monday morning, but in the meantime, despite the naming issues, they must feel they accomplished their goal of getting everyone’s attention.


Corb Lund’s Sun Studio “Counterfeit Blues” CD/DVD Coming

May 28, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  30 Comments

corb-lund-counterfeit-bluesCorb Lund, the current king of Canadian country (at least in this buckaroo’s estimation), will be releasing his latest studio incarnation called Counterfeit Blues to folks in The States on July 1st, and to those north of the border on June 17th. Counterfeit Blues will not be your average joe release though, it is a CD/DVD combo that captures Corb and his Hurtin’ Albertans live and on the floor within the confines of the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, reprising some of Corb’s most well-known compositions in new recordings.

“It turned out really well,” says Corb about the new project. “Partly because we know the songs inside out and have played them live a thousand times and partly because recording at Sun is a very old fashioned, low-tech process that ends up sounding really great if you can pull it off. My band has been playing behind me for ten years or more, with all the same members so it was a great way to capture the live chemistry we’ve developed over many, many tours. You can’t fake that.”

Some lucky Canadians may have seen Corb Lund and his Sun recording session as part of a CMT Canada documentary (that didn’t air in The States) called Memphis Sun. That documentary is where the material for the DVD comes from, and it includes three previously-unheard/unseen bonus tracks that were not in the film.

If you’re looking for one modern-day Canadian who can stand tall in his boots and go toe to toe with the American born country legends, it would be Corb Lund. Whether you’re talking about Corb Lund the songwriter, Corb Lund the singer, or Corb Lund the performer, he’s one of these five-tool musicians who can do it all. Growing up on a ranch in Southern Alberta, he’s lived as an authentic country life as any.

Counterfeit Blues CD Tracklist:

1. Counterfeiters’ Blues
2. Good Copenhagen
3. Big Butch Bass Bull Fiddle
4. Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer
5. Little Foothills Heaven
6. Five Dollar Bill
7. Buckin’ Horse Rider
8. Hurtin’ Albertan
9. (Gonna) Shine Up My Boots
10. Truck Got Stuck
11. Roughest Neck Around
12. Truth Comes Out

Memphis Sun DVD Tracklist:

1. Hurtin’ Albertan
2. No Roads Here
3. Little Foothills Heaven
4. Counterfeiters’ Blues
5. Roughest Neck Around
6. Big Butch Bass Bull Fiddle
7. Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer
8. Truck Got Stuck
9. Truth Comes Out
10. Five Dollar Bill
11. Buckin’ Horse Rider (bonus)
12. Good Copenhagen (bonus)
13. (Gonna) Shine Up My Boots (bonus)


Scott Borchetta Looking to Sign Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson & More

May 28, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  20 Comments

scott-borchettaAnother day, another noteworthy release of information about the potentially historic partnership between Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group, and the 2nd largest radio station owner in the United States, Cumulus Media. Their “NASH Icons” joint venture that means to re-instill “classic” country artists back to commercial prominence and create a new home for them on mainstream radio has the country music world buzzing about a potential format split, and now we’ve been served some additional insight into the NASH Icons plans via Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey.

During a recent conversation with Billboard Magazine’s Rich Appel, Dickey says Scott Borchetta is aggressively looking to sign many of the artists that fall between NASH Icons’ 25-year artist window, including but not limited to Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson. “I would look for Scott to make an announcement in the next 30 days,” Lew says.

READ: The Split of Top 40 Country & Classic Country Is Upon Us

“It’s not that 35- to 54-year-olds don’t like the hits,” says Lew Dickey. “They just miss the biggest country artists of the last two decades, who are still recording and touring but not getting enough exposure today … While in pop you have the middle ground of [adult top 40] between top 40 and classic hits, there’s really no such thing in country.”

Interestingly enough, Alan Jackson has announced a special June 6th press conference to be held at the Country Music Hall of Fame. This is the same location where Tim McGraw announced his signing with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine label in May of 2012. It is also where George Strait announced his touring retirement in September of 2012. Garth Brooks has also been curiously mum lately, after saying in late 2013 he wants to return to country music with new music, a big tour, and do it “at a level I’ve never seen before.” Big Machine is one of the few labels flush and fleet footed enough to pull off such a feat.

Cumulus owns over 70 country radio stations, and has access to another 1,500 affiliates through its Westwood One network. According to Lew Dickey, they hope to have the NASH Icons network up-and-running by 2015, but some non-Cumulus owned stations are already adopting the new 25-year format. NASH Icons is also not limited to just a label or radio. Under the new NASH brand, they’ve acquired Country Weekly magazine, and hope to have a huge presence throughout media. “We want to be thought of as an omni-channel, multiplatform brand,” Lew Dickey says.


Marty Stuart to Release “Saturday Night & Sunday Morning”

May 24, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  17 Comments


What’s better than a new album from Marty Stuart? Try two new albums from Marty Stuart released at the same damn time, and that’s just what will transpire when the scarved one doles out the double album Saturday Night & Sunday Morning on September 30th, backed by ”Cousin” Kenny Vaughan,” “Apostle” Paul Martin, and “Handsome” Harry Stinson, otherwise known as The Fabulous Superlatives.

As the name implies, the Saturday Night & Sunday Morning project will delve into the duality of country music as both fulfilling the fun of the working class when it’s time to cut loose on the weekends, and when one finds themselves looking for forgiveness and redemption the next day. The first album, subtitled Rough Around The Edges is pretty self-explanatory, while the second disc subtitled Cathedral is also being touted as a sequel to Stuart’s critically-acclaimed 2008 release, Soul’s Chapel. The second album is said to also include a collaboration with The Staple Singers on the song “Uncloudy Day”.

Marty Stuart, Saving Country Music’s 2012 Artist of the Year, has stayed very busy since releasing his last studio album Nashville Volume 1: Tear The Woodpile Down. Along with spitting out one super episode after another of his revered The Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV and playing shows across the country, Marty recently compiled a collection of his still shot photography taken over the years to form a new exhibit at Nashville’s Frist Center in downtown. From one of the last living shots of Johnny Cash, to Bill Monroe and Unknown Hinson, the collection offers an intimate look at country music through Marty’s eyes. 

Listen to the new Marty Stuart song “Rough Around The Edges”.

Saturday Night & Sunday Morning Tracklist:

Saturday Night – Rough Around The Edges
1. Jailhouse
2. I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome
3. Geraldine
4. Rough Around The Edges
5. When It Comes To Loving You
6. Sad House Big Party
7. Talkin’ To The Wall
8. Lifes Ups And Downs
9. Look At That Girl
10. Old, Old House
11. Streamline

Sunday Morning – Cathedral
1. Uncloudy Day (featuring The Staple Singers)
2. Boogie Woogie
3. Long Walk To Heaven
4. That Gospel Music
5. The Gospel Way
6. Mercy Number 1
7. Firing Line
8. God Will Make A Way
9. Good News
10. Angels Rock Me To Sleep
11. Cathedral
12. Heaven


Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds” Debuts on Billboard Charts

May 22, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  37 Comments


UPDATE (5-29): Sturgill remains on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart for a 2nd week at #22. Sturgill will also play Letterman on July 14th.

Kentucky native Sturgill Simpson has quickly become a critic’s favorite and a cult hero around the country with the release of his second solo album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, garnering praise from industry critics and rabid country fans alike. And now the emerging country star has another feather to place in his cap.

The May 13th release has landed him in distinct company at the top of the Billboard charts, with Metamodern Sounds coming in at #11 on the Top Country Albums chart, and #59 on the all-genre Billboard 200. Both placings are very significant for a virtually unknown artist with little to no radio support who released his album independently through Thirty Tigers distribution. Sturgill’s first album, High Top Mountain, came in at #47 on the Country Albums chart upon its release, and did not make the Billboard 200.

Sturgill’s distinction comes the same week Dolly Parton’s Blue Smoke album turned in her highest-charting performance in her storied career, coming in at #6 on the Billboard 200, and #2 on the Country Albums chart, only outdone by superstar troika Rascal Flatts and the release of their new album Rewind. Johnny Cash also remains strong on the charts, still sitting at #13 a good eight weeks after the release of Out Among The Stars, and after debuting at #1 on the Country Albums chart.

As Sturgill Simpson said upon the release of the album, “I have said it many times and I will continue to say it, as it is the truth and I whole heartedly believe it…guys like me and the countless others others out there attempting to offer an alternative are not capable of change. We are not the catalyst of change. You guys are. We can only do our best to make the best records we are capable of but it is up to you the listener to have your voices heard. This is the only road to the true change that a lot of you I talk to at shows are seeking. If you connect with something that moves you it’s up to you to share it/burn it/ steal it/ give it away. As long as it finds and connects with as many people as possible that is all we wish for.”


Willie & Billy Joe Shaver Protest in “Hard to be An Outlaw”

May 22, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  25 Comments

billy-joe-willie-nelsonWell it’s about time we had some established country artists take up the trend of country protest songs, and give modern country their what for. As the lead single from Billy Joe Shaver’s upcoming album Long In The Tooth scheduled for release on August 5th, the long-time, storied country Outlaw songwriter has teamed up with his old buddy Willie Nelson to release a duet called “It’s Hard to Be an Outlaw” that puts new school, fake country Outlaws and other country music interlopers in its crosshairs.

Some super stars nowadays, gets too far off the ground
Singing about the backroads, they never have been down
They go and call it country, but that ain’t the way it sounds
It’s enough to make a renegade want to terrorize the town

Though these types of protest songs have become standard fare, if not cliché in their own right these days, coming from the powerhouse pairing of Billy Joe Shaver and Willie Nelson makes this one especially memorable. In fact, according to Shaver, they could have gone a step further. “It’s not harsh enough, I don’t guess,” Shaver told Rolling Stone. “He and I both feel the same way about that. We text back and forth, and we figure we’re the only ones over 70 years old that text. I’m sure that’s not right, but I know Kris won’t. Kristofferson won’t do it. I mentioned this title to Willie and he said, ‘Man, you oughta write that.’”

billy-joe-shaver-willie-nelson“It’s just stupidity,” Shaver continues. “It’s like walking down a hall and seeing a Picasso and saying, ‘Damn, that thing’s old! Let’s throw it out.’ Fortunately, you can’t burn songs. You can burn pictures, but a song will live forever.” 

Willie Nelson and Billy Joe Shaver have remained good friends since their early days as original country music Outlaws in the mid 70′s. When Shaver was on trial for shooting a man in self-defense in Waco, Willie Nelson showed up as a character witness. The title track of Willie Nelson’s 2012 album Heroes is about Billy Joe. And the two stars collaborated recently on another Billy Joe Shaver-penned duet, “Wacko From Waco“.

READ: Billy Joe Shaver to Release First Studio Album in 7 Years

“I feel like that I’m still doing the same thing I always did, it just got lost in the shuffle because all this new stuff came in,” Billy Joe told the Ft. Stockton Pioneer in November. “There’s a lot of money behind these people…It’s just people trying to make money, that’s all it is and I can’t begrudge anybody for trying to make money. We’re all trying to make a living and do the best we can.  I feel that the art part of it just went out the window…but every once in awhile you will hear a good song. I can’t say that it’s all bad, it’s not. It’s just most of it’s bad…It’s kind of gotten way out of hand right now I think, but the solid foundation is still there.”

While premiering the new “It’s Hard to be An Outlaw” song, Billy Joe Shaver also mentions something about rapping on Long In The Tooth‘s title track. “I didn’t know it was that easy. I took a crank at it and went crazy and did it.”


Dolly Parton Scores Highest-Charting Album Ever w/ “Blue Smoke”

May 21, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  19 Comments


Yet another sign that the appeal for traditional country and country music’s legacy artists is alive and well.

Dolly Parton released her 49th overall studio album Blue Smoke on May 13th, and the record has earned Dolly Parton a distinction she’s never experienced in her decorated, historic career. Blue Smoke marks Dolly’s highest charting solo album in her career’s history, debuting at #6 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. Surprisingly, this is the first time ever that Dolly Parton has reached the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 with a solo release. The closest she’s ever come to a Top 10 album was 1981′s 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs that reached #11. Her collaborative album Trio with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt also reached #6 in 1987.

dolly-parton-blue-smokeBlue Smoke came in at #2 on the Billboard Country chart as well, beating out albums from artists such as Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. 42 of Dolly’s 49 albums have reached the Top 10 on the dedicated country chart, including six #1 albums during her storied career.

“I am glad that people are enjoying the music from my new ‘Blue Smoke’ album. It feels great to be in the Top 10,” Dolly Parton says. “It’s always an honor to know the fans spend their hard earned money on my music. Thanks everybody!”

Dolly Parton joins Johnny Cash who also made chart history recently with his posthumous release Out Among The Stars. Cash came in at #3 on the Billboard 200, and #1 on the country chart in early April. And unlike some new releases that have glittering debuts only to fade quickly, Cash remained at #9 on the Country Albums chart last week—six weeks after the original release date. Older, traditional country artists can still factor heavily into the album charts despite a lack of radio play or mainstream promotion because of the loyalty of their fans, and the propensity of those fans to purchase full albums instead of cherry-picking singles or streaming the release, resulting in greater revenue for the artists and labels.

Purchase Dolly Parton’s New Album Blue Smoke

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