Browsing articles in "News"

Party Down South’s Deadbeat Dad Josh Murray in Jail for Child Support

January 8, 2015 - By Trigger  //  News  //  21 Comments

josh-murraySo much for the lovable, huggable character that is portrayed on CMT’s flagship reality show Party Down South. Saving Country music is able to report that the large, Louise, Mississippi native famous for getting naked at a moment’s notice on the show is currently incarcerated in the Humphreys County, Mississippi jail for back owed child support to the tune of $14,000, which could result in a felony charge. Murray was taken into custody early Wednesday, January 7th, and as of Thursday afternoon, still remained incarcerated. When Saving Country Music called the in Humphreys County Jail Belzoni, Mississippi to confirm the arrest and incarceration was indeed the Josh Murray from the show, a representative said, “Yep, it’s him.”

This is the second instance of legal trouble for the reality show star in recent months. Known for drinking excessively on the show, Murray was arrested in Rankin County, Mississippi on November 15th, and charged with DUI and driving with a suspended license. Murray had his license suspended from previous DUI charges. Those charges could have his license suspended for two years.

The arrests and legal issues will not affect Josh Murray’s appearance on the upcoming season of Party Down South because the episodes have already been taped. We know Josh Murray has been making money off the show after the cast all signed lucrative deals after holding out before the second season. Apparently that money never made it to Murray’s offspring.

Josh Murray’s legal troubles are just one in a long list of incidents that have plagued the CMT show. Louisiana native Lyle Boudreaux was arrested in Maurice, LA for burglary of a vehicle at a Mardi Gras parade. Boudreaux found an unlocked car, rifled through a woman’s purse, and stole a credit card to fund the night’s drinking. Mattie Breaux of Louisiana was also served a bench warrant after she failed to appear in court as part of a pretrial hearing in March. The hearing was for a previous arrest for driving while intoxicated. Breaux was taping Season 2 of the reality show at the time of the hearing.

Then in early August, Ryan “Daddy” Richards, was accused of rape by a woman who says she entered the Party Down South house, was handed an open beer, and woke up later naked in a bed with a camera in her face. The woman went to the hospital the next day, and according to medical professionals, showed signs of sexual assault. An investigation by local police that included interviewing cast and crew and reviewing footage, did not result in any charges being filed. A day later, one of the cast members, Taylor “Lil Bit” Wright, permanently quit the show amidst what she characterized as safety concerns.

Party Down South has come under heavy scrutiny for its portrayal of Southerners in the show. Season 2 was initially scheduled to be taped in Pensacola, FL, but had to move to Athens when local residents and businesses did not want the show blemishing the city’s reputation. The third season also found trouble securing a location near Biloxi, and were turned down for a location in nearby D’Iberville before finally finding an appropriate house. Ben “Cooter” Jones of The Dukes of Hazzard fame has also been a vocal opponent of the show.

A second franchise of the controversial show called Party Down South 2 started airing in November as CMT follows the regular pattern of Viacom-owned music-based cable stations of becoming a vehicle for reality TV instead of sticking to their music programming.


Kentucky’s Fifth on the Floor Is Breaking Up

January 6, 2015 - By Trigger  //  News  //  11 Comments


Lexington, Kentucky-based Southern rock / sometimes country band Fifth on the Floor is breaking up, according to a missive sent out by the band today (1-6-15). Led by songwriter and lead singer Justin Wells, Fifth on the Floor was seen by many as one of the most promising upstart Southern rock bands of the last decade, releasing three albums over the eight year span of the project, including the Shooter Jennings-produced Ashes & Angels in 2013 through eOne Music and Shooter’s Black Country Rock imprint, which charted on Billboard’s country charts at #64. Guitar player Ryan Clackner, who had previously played with Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies, and was once featured in a Pistol Annies video, had recently left the band after replacing the previous lead guitar player.

Fifth on the Floor shared the stage with many notable names over their run, including The Marshall Tucker Band, Wanda Jackson, and Jason Isbell, and went on numerous regional and national tours, including opening for Shooter Jennings, George Thorogood, and Unknown Hinson.

The band is not done just yet though. They still have a slate of shows coming up with songwriter Matt Woods in February, and will be playing a album release show for their parting EP & Then on January 17th at Cosmic Charlies in Lexington. According to the band’s statement, bass player Jason Parsons is headed to Seminary. Drummer Kevin Hogle was also a member of the band. You can read Fifth on the Floor’s statement below:

Hey friends.

2014 was an incredible year for Fifth on the Floor. We saw so many of our friends all over the country, made a hell of a lot of new ones in the US and Canada both, and played the biggest stages in front of the biggest audiences we’ve ever played for. It’s been an amazing blessing, and we want to thank every single person who caught a show, bought an album, or simply enjoyed one of our songs. Seriously. Thank you.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the three of us have decided to close the door on Fifth on the Floor. There’s no bad blood, nothin to dig up. To quote Galileo : “It is what it is.” Given the support so many folks have had for us, this decision wasn’t made lightly. This is simply what’s best for us. We look forward to letting you know about our future musical endeavors as soon as we’re able. Trust me, we’re not walking away from music. (Well, JP is headed to Seminary…)

We’ve had a blast playing these songs for you guys these past 8 and a half years. Thanks. For everything.

As such, the Jan 17 EP release show at Cosmic Charlie’s, as well as the February tour w/ Matt Woods will be some of our last shows. We are currently working on a final show for the spring, as proper a goodbye as these humble Kentuckians can drum up. It’d mean the world if we got to see ya at as many of these shows as you can make it to.

I guarantee you, you’ll be seeing us in some form or another in the coming months.

We love ya’ll,
- Justin, Parsons, and Kevin


“Little” Jimmy Dickens Has Passed Away

January 2, 2015 - By Trigger  //  News  //  27 Comments

little-jimmyThis story has been updated.

A country music legend, and one of the oldest living country music performers from country’s golden era, is gone. “Little” Jimmy Dickens, one of the most venerable members of The Grand Ole Opry and a country music Hall of Famer, was admitted to the hospital on Christmas for an undisclosed illness, and passed away on Friday, January 2nd. He just turned 94 on December 19th. His last appearance on The Grand Ole Opry was on December 20th. According to the Grand Ole Opry, the 4’11″ country star died of cardiac arrest in a Nashville hospital, after previously suffering a stroke. He is survived by his wife Mona Dickens, married since 1971, and two daughters, Pamela Detert and Lisa King.

“The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens,” shared Pete Fisher, Opry Vice President & General Manager.  “He loved the audience and his Opry family, and all of us loved him back. He was a one-of-kind entertainer and a great soul whose spirit will live on for years to come.”

James Cecil Dickens was born in Bolt, West Virginia, and began his musical career performing on WJLS radio while attending college. In 1948, Roy Acuff heard Dickens on the radio, and introduced him to Columbia Records and The Grand Ole Opry, and soon “Little” Jimmy was a mainstay on the radio show and releasing studio records. The “Little” came from his small stature, but Hank Williams later nicknamed him “Tater” after one of his most recognizable early hits “Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait).” Hank originally penned his song “Hey Good Lookin’” for Jimmy, but later recorded it himself, saying it was “too good” for his Opry friend.

Dickens formed his band the Country Boys in 1950, and was best known for his novelty songs, or songs that incorporated comedy such as “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed,” “I’m Little But I’m Loud,” and “May The Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.” He became the first country act to circumvent the globe while on tour in 1964, and in 1965 scored his first #1 hit with “May The Bird of Paradise…” Jimmy was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983.

Later in life “Little” Jimmy became a fixture of The Grand Ole Opry, many times as the comic relief character of the sainted stage, and despite his loss of commercial prominence, was well-recognized and beloved even by younger audiences who knew “Little” Jimmy from appearances on awards shows, videos for Brad Paisley, and other notable cameos.

When Hank Locklin died in 2009, “Little” Jimmy became the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry.

RIP “Little” Jimmy Dickens, one of the last living links to the Golden Era of country music.

UPDATE: A public visitation is set from 4 to 8 PM Wednesday, January 2nd at Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home & Memorial Park, located at 660 Thompson Lane in Nashville. A public “Celebration Of Life” service will is scheduled for 11:00 AM Thursday, January 3rd at the Grand Ole Opry House, 2804 Opryland Drive in Nashville. Both events are open to friends, family and the public.


Bass Player & Writer of “Long Tall Texan” Henry Strzelecki Passes Away

January 1, 2015 - By Trigger  //  News  //  11 Comments

henry-strzeleckiTragic news out of Nashville where where prolific and beloved bass player Henry Strzelecki has passed away after being struck by a vehicle while out for a walk Monday, December 22nd. Strzelecki experienced severe injuries including major head trauma in the accident, and was in a coma over the holidays. He eventually passed away from the injuries on December 30th.

“Needless to say, this Christmas has brought a new perspective for our family,” said Henry’s niece Heather Barnes, speaking for the family. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what present you got, or how the turkey tastes, it matters who you’re with. Look around at your loved ones and appreciate them for who they are. They are the best presents you’ll ever get.”

Henry Strzelecki was an elite bass player in country music, playing in Hee Haw’s “Million Dollar Band,” the “Nashville Superpickers,” and over his storied career, playing bass for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Loretta Lynn, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Boxcar Willie, George Strait, Elvis, Charlie Rich, and many more. Some noted studio sessions that involved Henry Strzelecki include Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, and Roy Orbison’s iconic song “Pretty Woman.” Strzelecki also played on the very last recording session with Louis Armstrong in Nashville produced by “Cowboy” Jack Clement.

Strzelecki was originally from Birmingham, Alabama, graduated from Jones Valley High School in 1958, and began playing country music in his teen years, recording with Baker Knight on Decca Records and playing in a group called The Four Flickers with his brother Larry. He also had a publishing and production company in Nashville and was nominated for Bassman of the Year at the 23rd Academy of Country Music Awards.

But the most identifiable contribution by Henry Strzelecki might have not involved his bass playing, but his songwriting. Strzelecki was the songwriter for the novelty song “Long Tall Texan,” first performed by The Four Flickers in 1959, and later recorded and released by artists such as The Beach Boys, Lyle Lovett, and many more. The catchy comedy tune has been tickling funny bones for over 50 years, and promises to continue to do so for years to come.

A “Celebration of Life” will be held for Henry on January 17th at 2 PM at the Pennington United Methodist Church in Nashville.

RIP Henry Strzelecki

- – - – - – - – - – -

Singing with Jim Reeves

Henry Strzelecki’s “Long Tall Texan”


Flight Diverted After Blake Shelton’s “Boys ‘Round Here” Causes Problem

December 31, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  47 Comments

blake-sheltonWe already knew Blake Shelton’s awful country rap song “Boys ‘Round Here” was one of the worst “country” songs ever, causing undue strain and consternation amongst true country fans and fans of all decent music. But now there’s a story of just how disturbing the song was for one holiday season commute at 30,000 feet.

On a Christmas Day Delta flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles, a passenger from Wichita, Kansas was listening to “Boys ‘Round Here” on his headphones, and singing along so loudly that it was disturbing other passengers. The people around the man began shooting him looks, but he continued to sing along loudly until flight attendants were alerted to the situation and asked the man to stop.

That’s when the incident began to turn potentially dangerous. The boisterous “Boys ‘Round Here” fan began to confront the other passengers who had complained to the flight staff, saying, “What am I doing wrong?” and saying to one passenger, “Can you tell me what I’m doing to you sir? All you have to do sir is talk to me about it.” Then the Blake Shelton fan apparently began to take an inordinate amount of trips to the plane’s lavatory, and then escalated the situation by making reference to the controversial deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police recently, saying to a woman who kept turning around and telling him to be quiet, “If I held my hands up and said I couldn’t breathe, would you feel comfortable?”

The race of the Blake Shelton fan, and the complaining passengers was not identified.

The situation turned so tense, that the crew of the Delta plane decided to divert the flight to Albuquerque, where the plane was met by multiple police cars, and the man was escorted off the plane. “It’s not exactly what you want to hear in the middle of your flight, to know that there’s a security issue on board and being met as the gate with multiple police cars,” said one passenger to KCWH 12. “It’s kind of alarming.”

The “Boys ‘Round Here” fan was detained, but eventually was let go and no charges were filed, and he took another flight on another carrier to his eventual destination of Los Angeles. Because there were no charges, the identity of the man was not released, though it’s guaranteed he had questionable taste in music.


George Strait Bests Luke Bryan For Touring in 2014

December 31, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  17 Comments

george-straitRemember when members of Luke Bryan’s camp started crying when George Strait won the Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year in 2014? They said it was just a parting gift at the farewell of his career, and that he wasn’t an “Entertainer.” But once again we get validation that George Strait’s Entertainer win at both the CMA’s in 2013, and the ACM’s in 2014, were well deserved.

Ticket broker StubHub has released their numbers for the top-selling music tickets in 2014, and coming in at #2 is “The King” George Strait, edging out Luke Bryan at #3—the current mainstream country cash cow. Even more validating is that Strait’s final concert at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX was not only the biggest live music event in all of 2014, it actually beat the #2 and #3 biggest events—concerts by Luke Bryan and Justin Timberlake—combined. Strait’s final concert shattered attendance records for an indoor event with 104,793 attendees, 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.

British boy band One Direction came in with the #1 spot for 2014 touring by StubHub’s tabulations.

Of course these numbers were bolstered for Strait because it was during his farewell tour, but it still speaks to the continued buying power of classic country fans. It also speaks to how big country music is becoming in the concert realm that the #2 and #3 spots would be filled by country performers.

“I don’t think we realize how huge country music is,” StubHub’s Glen Lehrman told AdWeek. “Traditionally, we think of pop music as the one that is going to drive the most interest in ticket sales—your Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga.”

Overall touring revenues in 2014 were relatively stagnant according to StubHub, but big tours planned or continuing into next year, including Garth Brooks’ comeback tour could mean an uptick in 2015, and country music once again taking some of the top spots.


Elizabeth Cook is Back After Some Needed Time Off

December 30, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  24 Comments


Friends and fans of the firebrand Outlaw country throwback gypsy queen Elizabeth Cook were saddened to hear in late September that her dizzying amount of commitments which included touring full time, administrating a daily radio show on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country, and countless other public and private obligations were starting to unravel the Florida native and she needed to take a sabbatical.

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,” said the missive from Elizabeth Cook’s management. “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.”

Subsequently Cook was forced to cancel numerous shows and take a leave of absence from her SiriusXM “Apron Strings” show. But Saving Country Music is happy to report Elizabeth is back happy and healthy, will be returning to the SiriusXM airwaves in her regular slot on January 5th, and has resumed performing, including commitments to play the American Songwriter 30th Anniversary Party at the City Winery in Nashville on January 8th, and the Cayamo Cruise January 17th to 24th.

How does Elizabeth Cook feel?

Like Evel Knievel. But feeling like Evel Knievel is what go me in trouble in the first place,” she tells Saving Country Music. I’m always gonna be the clumsy girl on an old dirt bike trying to jump school buses. Balance just ain’t my thing. But I try like a mofo…I come from a long line of people where its like if we don’t work, we die, and if we don’t laugh, we die. Symphonies just aren’t in my future, except for maybe like Valentines Day. I’m trying to ease in but its hard when you just went on a hunger strike for toast and couldn’t pee without counting to 88. It’s fantastic feeling to get back behind the wheel. I’m excited for the Sandy Beaches and Cayamo cruises. Parties on water are good for my nerves.”

Elizabeth said she pulled through her rough patch with the help of others.

“My village people posse of friends, family and professional team have all punched through this with me. I couldn’t have made it without them. It required a lot of patience. A stunning and humbling array of artists have reached out with doses of support and love. (I don’t wanna be an asshole and namedrop. I’ll save it for the book. There I plan to be a big asshole.) Reading comments from fans on my social sites has required more than one box of Kleenex, the kind with the lotion. I’m dingy and watching butterflies. I forget. And I know I can’t make promises. At the end of the day, I’m gonna do what I do because I owe it to the muse, but I don’t ever wanna let anybody down.”

And I’d like to thank the birdfeeders,” Elizabeth adds. “They have been essential.”

As for if fans can expect new music from Elizabeth or other new pursuits. “Yes but its gonna take me time and I’m gonna take it. The dirt’s still fresh and I don’t wanna spin out again.”

Elizabeth Cook’s Apron Strings radio show can be heard on SiriusXM Outlaw Country from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM weekdays. You can check for upcoming live performances HERE.


The Biggest Stories of 2014

December 29, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  10 Comments

2014 was a year of great flux in country music. Where 2013 was dominated by public feuds and outcries by many country performers about the direction of the music, 2014 became the year things began to be done about many of the problems plaguing the genre. With Bro-Country as the battleground, the fight to return some balance to the country format began to make headway, and many of the initiatives launched in 2014, and many of the partnerships made and trends started may affect country music in profound ways in the coming years. Meanwhile 2014 was also a particularly violent year when it came to concerts and beyond, and saw the emergence and re-emergence of artists who will be very important to country music moving forward.

Following are the eleven biggest news stories of 2014. PLEASE NOTE: These are chosen and the order picked by two major factors 1) The importance of the story 2) The amount of traffic and interest in the story evidenced through analytical data on Saving Country Music, sometimes aggregated over multiple stories on the same subject if they exist.

Click on the orange, underlined fields to be taken to the specific stories.

#11 Legendary Artists Setting Records on Billboard’s Albums Charts

willie-nelson-band-of-brothersAs artists whose fandoms represent one of the last bastions of the public that actually buy albums, legendary performers like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and even Billy Joe Shaver set records in 2014 on Billboard’s album charts. Unfortunately new chart rules will likely put a damper on the fun for 2015, but the year that past saw older artists receiving renewed recognition.

Willie Nelson’s Band of Brothers album became his first #1 in 28 years, and his highest showing ever on Billboard’s all genre Billboard 200 chart, coming in at #6. Dolly Parton’s May release Blue Smoke gave Dolly her first Top 10 on the Billboard 200 of her entire career when she came in at #6. She also charted at #2 on the Country Albums chart. Johnny Cash’s posthumous release of his lost album Out Among The Stars also saw surprising chart success, debuting at #1 in country, and #3 on the Billboard 200. And Billy Joe Shaver charted for the first time ever, with Long In The Tooth coming in at #19 on the Country Albums chart.

#10 The Wayne Mills Autopsy Report Released

wayne-mills-2The autopsy of slain country music artist Wayne Mills was released, revealing that the star was shot in the back of the head from a far range by bar owner Chris Ferrell, who is currently awaiting trial on 2nd degree murder charges. The autopsy revealed Wayne Mills had also sustained multiple injuries as part of the incident. Wayne’s 4th and 5th ribs were broken, and he had abrasions on his forehead, temple, scalp (unassociated with the gunshot), and contusions on his chest, arms, forearms, left thigh, and right knee.

The summary of the autopsy states,

Autopsy findings are significant for an entrance gunshot wound on the posterior parietal scalp with fragment exit and injury to scalp, skull, and brain. A bullet is recovered in association with this gunshot wound. Associated injuries include scalp, subdural, and subarachnoid hemorrhage, fractures to the right frontal and parietal bones, cortical and white matter contusions of the brain, and hemorrhage throughout the wound path. Other injuries include abrasions of the left side of the forehead, left temple, posterior occipital scalp, and abdomen, left-sided rib fractures, and contusions of the lateral chest, arms, forearms, left thigh, and right knee. Evidence of therapy and tissue procurement is noted.

The cause of death is a gunshot wound of the head, and the manner of death is homicide.

Read Full Report

#9 A Drunk Toby Keith Blows Show in Indiana

toby-keith-red-solo-cupOn September 13th, 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, and according to many of the concert goers, Toby was too drunk to perform, put on a terrible show, and some fans demanded 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.

Later video emerged of Toby Keith stumbling through a rendition of “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue.” Keith can be clearly heard heavily slurring his words and at times trailing off, until at the end of the line, “So we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our heads,” he descends into an inaudible garble, inspiring the videographer to exclaim, “Oh God!”. Toby Keith and his publicist refused to acknowledge the incident despite it becoming a big story on local Indianapolis news channels.

#8 Male Country Stars Come Out As Gay

ty-herndonCountry star Ty Herndon—known for his handful of mid 90′s hits such as “What Mattered Most,” “I Want My Goodbye Back,” and “Living In A Moment”—came out as gay on November 20th, making him the first openly gay male country music star in the mainstream in the history of the genre. Herndon says one of the things that motivated him coming out was seeing Kacey Musgraves win the CMA Song of the Year for “Follow Your Arrow,” saying that he welled up in tears at the win. “I felt so proud of my city. I hope that trend continues; I pray it does.” Ty’s decision also motivated former child country star Billy Gilman to come out as gay in a five minute video.

However one of the most interesting narratives to come out of the coming out announcements was just how much of a non-story it was. Aside from being the lead story on Entertainment Tonight and touching off mild interest on the internet, the announcements seemed to come as a shock to very few, and didn’t stimulate the type of vitriol some expected from the traditionally conservative music format. It still take a more active and mainstream male country artists coming out while he was still commercially relevant to see if country has finally moved on from its perceived gay stigma.

It was also revealed in 2014 that Brandy Clark was gay, but she took a more subtle and respectful approach to the sensitive subject.

#7 New Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Announced

tom-hiddleston-hank-3It was big enough news that the long-awaited biopic covering the life of Hank Williams was coming, and that the producers were setting out to make it the definitive movie work on the Hillbilly Shakespeare based off of Colin Escott’s acclaimed biography, with fully-licensed rights to use the original music for the film from Sony ATV. But then as the cast began to be revealed, and specifically that British-born actor Tom Hiddleston would be the one portraying Hank, controversy brewed about the selection of a non-Southerner, especially with Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, who publicly criticized the casting.

Then when a video was released of Hiddleston singing some of the Hank Williams songs he’s expected to perform live in the film at a festival with mentor Rodney Crowell, the controversy started anew. Nonetheless, the movie rolled on, shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana beginning in late October and lasting for about six weeks. With a release date roughly scheduled for late 2015, and big expectations for the film as a potential Oscar contender, I Saw The Light might be one of the biggest news stories of 2015 as well.

#6 The Rise of Sturgill Simpson

sturgill-simpson-metamodern-sounds-in-country-musicThe rise of Sturgill Simpson could be classified as meteoric, and his dramatic ascent in 2014—from being picked up by Zac Brown Band as an opener, to playing Letterman and The Tonight Show, to being put at the top on many end-of-year lists and receiving a Grammy nomination—is virtually unparalleled in the modern country music world for an independent artist. His 2014 album Metamodern Sound in Country Music has captured the imaginations of many, and given them hope about the future of the country genre. And maybe most importantly, Sturgill Simpson has made fans wonder where he might be headed in 2015 and beyond.

READ: The Big Lessons of Sturgill Simpson’s Success

#5 The Return of Garth Brooks

garth-brooksWhen the best selling artist in country music ever, and the 3rd highest-selling artist of all time comes out of retirement after 15 years away, it is going to cause some reverberations, and that’s exactly what Garth Brooks did when he officially announced a new album and a world tour at a July 10th press conference in Nashville. But Garth’s return hasn’t been all triumphant and pretty. It started off with a debacle in Dublin, when five planned shows were cut down to three by local authorities, resulting in Garth Brooks canceling all of the scheduled performances for which an entire custom-made video presentation and stage setup had been procured and shipped to Ireland on 18 semi-trailers.

Subsequently the sales of Garth’s comeback album Man Against Machine started off fairly lackluster, though being the savvy marketeer Garth Brooks is, sales have stayed strong through the Christmas buying season and are beginning to accumulate into decent numbers. Meanwhile despite Garth’s first single “People Loving People” flopping on radio, he’s selling out live shows left and right, and regularly for multiple dates in the same location as people flock to take in the live Garth experience.

Garth’s return has not been without its setbacks and shortcomings, but his presence has still been felt strongly throughout the country music world, and he promises to remain an important figure in the genre moving forward.

#4 SCM Declares Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes the Worst Album Ever

florida-georgia-line-anything-goesThough maybe not a big “story” in the greater country music world, it was the most-read story on Saving Country Music in history, and by a wide margin, being liked and shared on Facebook over 75,000 times, tweeted nearly 700 times, receiving almost 500 comments, and being viewed nearly 500,000 times.

Anything Goes can slay all comers when it comes to its heretofore unattainable degree of peerless suckitude. In a word, this album is bullshit. Never before has such a refined collection of strident clichés been concentrated in one insidious mass. Never before have the lyrics to an album evidenced such narrowcasted pseudo-mindless incoherent drivel. Never before have such disparate and diseased influences been married so haphazardly in a profound vacuum of taste, and never have all of these atrocities been platooned together to be proffered to the public without someone, anyone with any bit of conscience and in a position of power putting a stop to this poisoning of the listening public.

“Not to get all old man on your ass, but most of the time I don’t even understand what the hell these dudes are saying. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard have their own language, partial to the most grammatically-challenged and stupefying vocabulary lurking in the dankest sewers of the English dialect, but not residing firmly in any specific one of them so no truly proper translation can be obtained. It’s like Pig Latin for douchewads—understood by them and them only. And only with the perfect deficiency of brain cells will their concoction of Ebonics, metrosexual douche speak, and stagnant gene pool rural jargon become anything resembling coherent to the human ear.”

Read Full Review

#3 Violence, Arrests, Medical Issues, and Death at Country Music Concerts

pittsburgh-trash-luke-bryan-5The summer of 2014 at country music’s mainstream concerts became one big rolling narrative about fights, arrests, hospitalizations, rape, stabbings, and even two deaths, all which occurred in a few short months during the height of country’s outdoor concert season. It almost felt like the media was embellishing all the violence with the way each week was punctuated with a new headline. “55 People Were Arrested, and 22 Hospitalized” in what local authorities characterized as a “mass casualty” event at a Keith Urban concert in Massachusetts on July 26th. Once again an annual event in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field resulted in huge amounts of trash, as well as many arrests and hospitalizations, even though the event the previous year had drawn large amounts of negative media coverage for similar problems.

Three people were stabbed at We Fest in Minnesota, a woman was gang raped at Michigan’s Faster Horses Festival, a drunk driver ran over a police officer at a Jason Aldean concert in Hartford, and amongst a myriad of other disturbing reports at country concerts, a man was found dead in a dumpster after Jason Aldean’s Cleveland concert, thought to be the cause of over intoxication, and another man died at a Hank Jr. concert after he was shoved and his head hit the concrete, though it was later determined it was likely by accident and not foul play.

Meanwhile the artists were not immune from injury themselves. Luke Bryan had three stage falls in 2014, Garth Brooks had two, Tim McGraw violently slapped a woman who ripped off a portion of his jeans, and Dustin Lynch got hit in the face with a full can of beer. 2014 was eventful at country concerts to say the least, making many wonder if it is the depravity in the music leading to such behavior. Without question 2015 will be one to watch to see if the country concert issues improve, or worsen.

#2 NASH Icon & The Impending Country Radio Format Split

nash-iconWho would have ever dreamed, even at the beginning of 2014, that we could be faced with a scenario where the radio format for country music would be splitting in two, and this action would see the return of many of the older names and songs so unceremoniously shuffled to the side in the mainstream format in recent years? Heretofore the trend has been for country music to become more young, and more current every year, shoving older artists and music aside, even when they continue to prove their commercial viability. Research from radio analysts had been telling country radio for years they were shooting themselves in the foot by abandoning more classic-sounding music, and finally in 2014, they began to listen.

Two huge entities, not traditionally considered friends of traditional country music in Cumulus Media and Big Machine Records, joined forces to launch NASH Icon—a new radio format that includes older country music alongside newer music, and a record label that is looking to add new life to the careers of forgotten artists. Meanwhile simply the idea of NASH Icon stimulated other radio stations to adopt a more “classic” country format. Garth-FM (later The Hawk) was launched, and so was Hank FM, and many other country stations oriented towards older country music, fueling speculation that the movement will eventually stimulate a split of the country format. Furthermore, the NASH Icon affiliate in Nashville is consistently beating its mainstream competitors, including Bobby Bones’ home of WSIX.

Now Cumulus is even planning to add a NASH Classics format. Though none of these stations might be the cup of tea for the most hardened of traditional country listeners, it is a step in the right direction, and breeding a renewed love in more classic-sounding country music we haven’t seen in years. The impending radio format split might very well be the biggest development in the effort to save country music in many years.

#1 The Rise and Fall of Bro-Country

bro-country-rip2014 started off with so-called “Bro-Country” as all the rage in popular country music, and ended with Bro-Country still somewhat relevant, but heavily on the wane and declining to a whimper while an anti Bro-Country tune in the form of Maddie & Tae’s “Girl In A Country Song” shattered all manner of records by becoming a #1 hit on country radio.

In late September, Saving Country Music wrote an obituary for Bro-Country, saying in part,

“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.’”

Read Full Bro-Country Obituary



UPDATED “Little” Jimmy Dickens in Critical Condition

December 28, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  42 Comments


***UPDATE: “Little” Jimmy Dickens Has Passed Away

A country music legend, and one of the oldest living country music performers from country’s golden era is in critical condition in a Nashville area hospital. “Little” Jimmy Dickens, one of the most venerable members of The Grand Ole Opry and a country music Hall of Famer, was admitted to the hospital on Christmas for an undisclosed illness. He just turned 94-years-old on December 19th, and performed on December 20th as part of the Opry’s birthday celebration on his behalf.

“Little” Jimmy’s wife, his family, and The Grand Ole Opry are asking for prayers for the ailing artist, who symbolizes one of the very last living links to country music’s legendary past. Dickens became a Grand Ole Opry member in 1948 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. When Hank Locklin died in 2009, “Little” Jimmy became the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry, and still regularly appears on the program. He was born in Bolt, WV in 1920, and was nicknamed “Tater” by Hank Williams for his short, 4′ 11″ stature.

Cards and well wishes can be sent to “Little” Jimmy Dickens via the Grand Ole Opry at the address below. Saving Country Music sends its thoughts and prayers out to the ailing star.

Jimmy Dickens
c/o Grand Ole Opry House
2804 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN 37214
- – - – - – - -

***UPDATE (12-31) - “Little” Jimmy Dickens is improving according to Grand Ole Opry general manager Pete Fisher. “Each day brings noticeable improvements, and his doctors seem very pleased with the progress he is making,” Fisher says. “I, along with his family, are grateful to all for your thoughts and prayers.”


Party Down South’s Josh Murray Could Face Jail Time

December 28, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  29 Comments

josh-murrayAnother cast member of CMT’s flagship reality series Party Down South has found himself on the wrong side of the law. Josh Murray, the cast member known for drinking to excess and disrobing at a moments notice, was arrested in Rankin County, Mississippi on November 15th, and charged with DUI and driving with a suspended license. The reality TV star already had his license suspended from previous DUI charges. Now he could face jail time, and have his license suspended for two years.

Though the new charges could potentially jeopardize Murray’s ability to star in future seasons of the CMT reality show, the next season set to air in February has already been taped, as were recently aired “Drunksgiving” and “Christmas Hangover” specials.

Josh Murray’s legal troubles are just one in a long list of incidents that have plagued the CMT show. Louisiana native Lyle Boudreaux was arrested in Maurice, LA for burglary of a vehicle at a Mardi Gras parade. Boudreaux found an unlocked car, rifled through a woman’s purse, and stole a credit card to fund the night’s drinking. Mattie Breaux of Louisiana was also served a bench warrant after she failed to appear in court as part of a pretrial hearing in March. The hearing was for a previous arrest for driving while intoxicated. Breaux was taping Season 2 of the reality show at the time of the hearing.

Then in early August, Ryan “Daddy” Richards, was accused of rape by a woman who says she entered the Party Down South house, was handed an open beer, and woke up later naked in a bed with a camera in her face. The woman went to the hospital the next day, and according to medical professionals, showed signs of sexual assault. An investigation by local police that included interviewing cast and crew and reviewing footage, did not result in any charges being filed. A day later, one of the cast members, Taylor “Lil Bit” Wright, permanently quit the show amidst what she characterized as safety concerns.

Party Down South has come under heavy scrutiny for its portrayal of Southerners in the show. Season 2 was initially scheduled to be taped in Pensacola, FL, but had to move to Athens when local residents and businesses did not want the show blemishing the city’s reputation. The third season also found trouble securing a location near Biloxi, and were turned down for a location in nearby D’Iberville before finally finding an appropriate house. Ben “Cooter” Jones of The Dukes of Hazzard fame has also been a vocal opponent of the show.

A second franchise of the controversial show called Party Down South 2 started airing in November as CMT follows the regular pattern of Viacom-owned music-based cable stations of becoming a vehicle for reality TV instead of sticking to their music programming.


NASH Icon Signs Martina McBride / Still Mum on Ronnie Dunn

December 24, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  25 Comments

martina-mcbrideNASH Icon, the partnership between Cumulus Media and Big Machine Label Group meant to give new life to older country stars, has its second signee. Martina McBride, rumored since the beginning of the new imprint to be a possible artist for the label, made it official on Tuesday (12-23) while making an appearance on The Today Show. She was on the show promoting her just released book on cooking and life called Around The Table. Martina joins Reba McEntire as the official artists on the NASH Icon roster.

The McBride signing makes sense for both parties, and was presumed to happen by many when the NASH Icon venture was first announced. Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta had mentioned Martina McBride specifically in connection with the label, and her 2011 disc Eleven was released through Republic Nashville—a joint venture between Big Machine and Universal Republic. Her last album Everlasting was a collection of soul and Motown covers, and was released independently, leaving McBride with no label affiliation.

There certainly was nothing curious about the Martina McBride signing by NASH Icon, but there is a curious situation brewing between the label and another older star—Ronnie Dunn, formerly of Brooks & Dunn. On November 27th, Dunn took to his Facebook page, where he often posts colorful and involved missives to his fans about the music business, and specifically its interfacing with older artists like himself, and announced he was NASH Icon’s next signing.

“Got my new company cap yesterday…..NASHIcon / NASHChetta / Big Machine. Thanks Narvel, Jim Weatherston, Scott Borchetta,” Dunn wrote with a picture of his sporting the new headgear. Jim Weatherston is the General Manager of NASH Icon, and Narvel Blackstock is an artist manager. The announcement came after weeks of Dunn hinting at the possibility, and it looked legit enough. Dunn even confirmed the news in later Facebook comments. Outlets like Music Row dutifully reported the announcement, though making sure to also point out that nothing official had been announced from Big Machine. Subsequently it’s been a month, and still there’s no official word from the label or NASH Icon that Ronnie Dunn will be a part of the imprint, even though many are taking the signing as a given.

ronnie-dunn-nash-icon-001Furthermore, there’s been many opportunities for NASH Icon or Big Machine to confirm the news. On December 1st, the label made a big deal about how Reba McEntire would be honored at the inaugural American Country Countdown awards with the first ever NASH Icon award. Also, there was much fanfare around the announcement that Reba McEntire would be playing a Las Vegas residency as her first move under the label, and that Ronnie Dunn would be partnering back up with Kix Brooks to co-headline the engagement. And still, no word from NASH Icon on Dunn signing with the label.

The situation already was beginning to feel awkward before the Martina McBride signing and official announcement from the Big Machine Label Group. Now it makes it even more curious of why they’re mum on Dunn if he is indeed signed to the label. Could Dunn’s NASH Icon announcement actually do with the Las Vegas residency, and not the label itself? Did Dunn jump the gun, and the deal either hasn’t gone through, or the label’s not ready to announce it? And now that we’ve had another artist signing roll down the hopper, you would have though it would have jarred Ronnie’s announcement loose if it was stuck in the pike. It doesn’t mean Ronnie Dunn isn’t signed to the label confidentially, or that he won’t be signed to it in the future. But at this point, NASH Icon now officially has two artists signed to their roster, and neither one of them is named Ronnie Dunn.

Hank Williams Jr. also stirred rumors he might be headed towards NASH Icon by wearing an “ICON” hat to the ACC Awards, though he’s reportedly been wearing the hat for months. Hank Jr. is also unsigned with a label, and fits in the NASH Icon window.


SOLD OUT: Live Nation Acquires C3 Presents

December 22, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  16 Comments

c3-001Just about the worst thing that could happen to the independent live music consumer has just transpired, and the entire landscape of live music, and specifically the environment for live music in the “Live Music Capital of the World” of Austin, TX, will forever be changed for the worse.

I’m sure if you’re a music fan no matter what your stripes, you’ve probably heard of Live Nation. It’s the monolith, gargantuan ruler of live music in America, that now with their ownership of Ticketmaster and many of the big and mid-sized venues all across the United States, they pretty much constitute a monopoly of the live music dollar, at least when it comes to mainstream concerts and acts. It could be called the Wal-Mart of live music, but even this analogy would not do justice to the degree of Live Nation’s power over the live music dollar in America.

But you have probably not heard of C3, unless you live in Austin, TX where the company is based, or work deeply embedded in the music industry. To simplify it, consider C3 like the Live Nation of independent music, especially for the Austin music scene, but with a national and international reach. It is owned by three guys whose first names all start with ‘C’, and since it’s inception in 2007 it has become one of the fastest-growing live promoters in all of music, becoming the largest promoter of independent music in that time.

Some of C3′s most recognizable accomplishments and conquests include the huge Austin City Limits Festival (ACL Fest) in Austin, and Lollapalooza in Chicago. They also own the Orion festival in Atlantic City, the CounterPoint festival in Georgia, LouFest in St. Louis, and the Big Day Out festival in Australia. C3 also has Lollapalooza fests in Chile, Argentina and Brazil, and is looking to expand to Canada and Europe soon. Yes, this is no mom and pop operation.

And C3 does so much more in the independent music space than throw festivals, especially around Austin. In Austin, the company owns many of the city’s most important venues, including La Zona Rosa, Emo’s, and Stubb’s. For many of Austin’s other important venues, they do a lot of the booking and promotion. C3 also engages in artist management and booking for many of the favorite artists of independent music fans through offices in Austin and New York. They help book the music for the historic Austin City Limits PBS program. C3 books the music at the House of Blues venues, which incidentally are owned by Live Nation. And like Live Nation, C3 has their own ticketing company called Front Gate Ticketing. All told, C3 pulled in $124 million dollars from more than 800 shows and sold 2,025,002 tickets in 2013. So yeah, C3 is massive in the independent music space, and has drawn criticism from some for using the same strong-armed tactics Live Nation does because of their size, only on a micro, independent scale.

Now consider the smarmy, unsettling idea of Live Nation coming in and gaining majority control of all of these C3 assets in one fell swoop. Well that is just what happened. A deal first rumored in October by The New York Times for Live Nation to acquire a majority 51% controlling stake in C3 Presents has gone through for an estimated $125 million. The deal was apparently finalized on Friday (12-19), despite one of the three C’s, Charlies Attal, saying in October that there was no deal in the works.

“The Charlies have proven they are amongst the most successful entrepreneurs in the concert industry. I have long admired what they built and now I look forward to working alongside them as they continue to build a world class festival company,” president and chief executive officer of Live Nation Entertainment Michael Rapino said in a statement. “Adding C3, the leading festival portfolio in North America, to our global portfolio of Insomniac, Festival Republic and Country Nation provides Live Nation with the world’s largest festival platform.”

The three C’s of C3 Presents also said, “We are excited to join Live Nation and become a part of their global family, while continuing to grow our festivals within a culture of entrepreneurship that will empower our team to keep improving these festivals and the fan experience.”

What does this all mean for live music? It means the already grotesquely large and ultra controlling corporate structure of Live Nation that presides over the live mainstream music space in America, now has majority control over the independent live music landscape as well. The cries and concerns of a monopoly when Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged has gone one level worse to impinge and subjugate what is supposed to be “independent” music, venues, and festivals.

Some of the things independent music fans may see at some of their favorite festivals and venues moving forward include: 1) More mainstream acts squeezing out independent artists at independent festivals and venues owned by C3. 2) Higher ticket prices and service fees, and tougher access to tickets in a more controlled, corporate environment. 3) More manipulation of the secondary ticket market by withholding blocks of tickets to increase prices as has been accused regularly of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

In other words, legacy independent festivals like ACL Fest and Lollapalooza are no longer independent. They are now corporate festivals, owned in a majority stake by Live Nation.

So like many of the festivals it owns and promotes, C3 Presents started out with an independent spirit looking to highlight and support talented bands the mainstream ignored. And now they have abandoned the model for the big names and the big payday. Independent music fans have just been sold down the river for the big corporate deal, and this should be marked as a dark day in independent music.

(portions of this report originally appeared on Saving Country Music in October when this deal was first rumored)


The Numbers Are In for Texas Country in 2014

December 21, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  28 Comments

texas-flagSome enterprising and independently-minded country music fans dream of a day when an entire industry of country music can be set up completely divested from Nashville and offer more diversity and opportunity for worthy artists. Meanwhile in Texas, they’ve already done that very thing, with their own radio stations, radio charts, festivals, venues, touring circuits, and awards.

A couple of the mainstays of Texas music in retailer Lone Star Music and the radio resource Texas Music Chart have just released their 2014 tabulations, and they give a good glimpse into what Texas music fans in Texas and beyond are listening to.

Lone Star Music has tabulated the top albums of 2014 in regards to sales in their webstore and in their brick & mortar store in San Marcos, TX beginning on December 1st of last year. Meanwhile the Texas Music Chart has released the numbers for the amount of spins the top songs in Texas music received from participating stations. Also interesting about the Texas Music Chart in 2014 is Sunny Sweeny’s song “Bad Girl Phase” became the first single from a female to top the chart in its history.

Lone Star Music’s Top Selling Albums

  1.  lone-star-musicStoney LaRue – Aviator
  2. Wade Bowen – Wade Bowen
  3. Chris Gougler – Chris Gougler EP
  4. Whiskey Myers – Early Morning Shakes
  5.  Midnight River Choir – Fresh Air
  6.  Randy Rogers Band – Homemade Tamales: Live At Floores
  7.  Micky & The Motorcars – Hearts From Above
  8.  Cody Johnson Band – Cowboy Like Me
  9.  Adam Hood – Welcome To The Big World
  10.  Jason Eady – Daylight & Dark
  11.  Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
  12.  Brian Keane – Coming Home
  13.  Cody Canada – Some Old, Some New, Maybe A Cover Or Two
  14.  Kevin Fowler – How Country Are Ya?
  15.  William Clark Green – Rose Queen
  16.  Radney Foster – Everything At Once
  17.  Curtis Grimes – Our Side Of The Fence
  18.  Eli Young Band – 10,000 Towns
  19.  Dirty River Boys – Dirty River Boys
  20.  Parker Millsap – Parker Millsap
  21.  Roger Creager – Road Show
  22.  Josh Grider – Luck & Desire
  23.  Aaron Einhouse – Blue Collar Troubadour
  24.  Turnpike Troubadours – Goodbye Normal Street
  25.  Jeremy Steding – My Own American Dream
  26.  Walt Wilkins & The Mystiqueros – Wildcat Pie & The Great Walapateya
  27.  Sean McConnell – The B Side Session
  28.  Turnpike Troubadours – Diamonds & Gasoline
  29.  Hard Working Americans – Hard Working Americans
  30.  John Fullbright – Songs
  31.  Reckless Kelly – Long Night Moon
  32.  Sam Riggs & The Night People – Outrun The Sun
  33.  Rich O’Toole – Jaded
  34.  Jason Isbell – Southeastern
  35.  Jackson Taylor & The Sinners – Live At Billy Bob’s {CD/DVD Combo}
  36.  Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis – Our Year
  37.  Mark McKinney – Standing My Ground
  38. Bigsbys – Good Will Suitcase
  39.  Kelley Mickwee – You Used To Live Here
  40.  Texas Renegade – Surviving The Flood
  41.  Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Dark & Dirty Mile
  42.  Jason Eady – AM Country Heaven
  43.  Thieving Birds – Gold Coast
  44.  Billy Joe Shaver – Long In The Tooth
  45.  Uncle Lucius – And You Are Me
  46.  Rodney Crowell – Tarpaper Sky
  47.  Robert Ellis – Lights From The Chemical Plant
  48.  Charlie Robison – High Life
  49.  Sean McConnell – Midland
  50.  Zane Williams – Overnight Success
  51.  Randy Rogers Band – Trouble
  52.  Mike Ryan – Bad Reputation
  53.  Drive By Truckers – English Oceans
  54.  Sturgill Simpson – High Top Mountain
  55.  Sunny Sweeney – Provoked

****See More of the Top Selling Albums from Lone Star Music****

Texas Music Chart’s Top Songs of 2014

(spins, song, artist)

  1.   21289    If Money Didn’t Matter                    Granger Smith
  2.   21181    Dancing All Around It                      Mike Ryan
  3.   21041    Hanging Around                              William Clark Green
  4.   20640    Panhandle Poorboy                        Kevin Fowler
  5.   19832    Trying To Write A Love Song          Adam Hood
  6.   19800    35 Runs Both Ways                          Cameran Nelson
  7.   19132    If I Go, I’m Going                             Bart Crow
  8.   19109    Bad Girl Phase                                Sunny Sweeney
  9.   18891    Every Step of the Way                     Reckless Kelly
  10.   18814    Angola’s Lament                              Sam Riggs
  11.   18409    Ghost Town                                      John Slaughter
  12.   18396    Lucky I Guess                                   Jason Boland & the Stragglers
  13.   17910    Lonely Bones                                   Mark McKinney
  14.   17821    Bar Lights                                         Brian Keane
  15.   17472    Love Song                                        Kevin Fowler
  16.   17223    You Can’t Go Home                          Brian Keane
  17.   16916    Golden Shackles                              Stoney LaRue
  18.   16902    Me & My Kind                                   Cody Johnson
  19.   16438    Hearts From Above                           Micky & the Motorcars
  20.   16286    Flying                                               Green River Ordinance
  21.   16204    Hands of a Workin’ Man                    Zane Williams
  22.   16140    Dogwood                                          Whiskey Myers
  23.   15998    Lovin’ Out of Control                         Casey Donahew Band
  24.   15863    One Night Taco Stand                      Josh Grider
  25.   15733    One Night Too Long                         Deryl Dodd
  26.   15597    Long Distance Relationship              Kyle Park
  27.   15111    Shotgun                                            Cameran Nelson
  28.   15109    Love in the First Degree                   Wade Bowen/Brandy Clark
  29.   15047    Falling Down                                    TJ Broscoff
  30.   14965    Got A Bad Feeling                            Mario Flores
  31.   14887    OK Whiskey                                      Jason Eady
  32.   14839    White Van                                         Josh Grider
  33.   14790    Girls From Texas                               Pat Green/Lyle Lovett
  34.   14709    When I Woke Up Today                     Wade Bowen
  35.   14651    Hard Whiskey                                    Josh Ward
  36.   14627    Little Too Late                                   Zane Williams
  37.   14586    Satellite                                             Randy Rogers Band
  38.   14424    Hold On and Let Go                         Sam Riggs
  39.   14387    River Song                                         Roger Creager
  40.   14177    Horseshoes & Hand Grenades            John Slaughter
  41.   13383    Hangin’ Around                                  Josh Abbott Band
  42.   13340    Leave                                                Brandon Rhyder
  43.   13225    July in Cheyenne                               Aaron Watson
  44.   12788    More Crown Than Coke                     Ray Johnston Band
  45.   12264    Table for Two                                    Clayton Gardner
  46.   12118    I’ll Have Another                                Jamie Richards
  47.   12107    What Are You Doin’ Right Now         Jon Wolfe
  48.   12098    Drivin’ You Outta My Mind                 LiveWire
  49.   12097    Abilene                                             Matt Kimbrow
  50.   11773    Too Good To Call                              Rich O’Toole

****See More Top Songs from the Texas Music Chart****


American Aquarium Named “Most Active” Act of 2014 by Bandsintown

December 20, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  6 Comments


Raleigh, NC’s American Aquarium was the hardest working, hardest touring band in 2014 from any genre according to the concert-finding app Bandsintown which presides over the largest database of music touring data. The announcement was made Thursday after Bandintown was able to aggregate 206 tour dates for the band in 2014—more than any other band or artist registered in their database.

“2014 was a crazy year for us,” American Aquarium said to Bandsintown. “It was the first in our nine year career where we saw the shows getting better and our fanbase getting bigger. The only way that we are able to do this many shows and still stay sane is having a solid support system at home that understands this is what we love. We are six guys committed to the same common goal and that is to build our fanbase one person at a time. Since day one, we have known that no one was going to give us anything and that if we wanted a career in this, we had to go out and take it. Touring has been the lifeblood of this band and our fans make every single show, every 10 hour drive, every bad show, totally worth it. Here’s to an even bigger 2015.”

Making the feat that much more crazy, and speaking to the solid support system of fans the band enjoys, in June American Aquarium’s van and trailer were stolen with all their gear and merchandise, making for one major hiccup in the midst of a tour with the Turnpike Troubadours. Eventually the van and trailer were found, but many of their guitars had been taken, and the van was vandalized beyond repair. American Aquarium also found the time in 2014 to tour Europe this fall, emphasizing the whirlwind nature of their year.

Going at it for eight years now, the band has seen lots of changes in music, and in late October frontman BJ Barham recalled the time massive pop country outfit Florida Georgia Line opened for them, “They now have millions of fans, tons of money and all the cut off bedazzled denim vests anyone could ask for. At least we still have our self respect. Here’s to the working bands out there that never settle. Good on ya.”

American Aquarium’s new album Wolves is set to be released on February 3rd. Listen to the title track below.



Hank Williams Jr. Could Be Next NASH Icon Artist

December 16, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  30 Comments

hank-williams-jrUPDATE: NASH Icon Signs Martina McBride / Still Mum on Ronnie Dunn

- – - – - – -

It looks like Hank Williams Jr. might be the next signee to the Cumulus Media / Big Machine Label Group joint venture known as NASH Icon meant to give new life to aging artists who’ve been passed over by mainstream country radio. On Monday night’s poorly viewed American Country Countdown Awards, Hank Williams Jr. closed the night out as a late edition to the show’s lineup with a rendition of his famous song from 1984 “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight.” In the midst of the performance, Hank Jr. switched over from a cowboy hat to a black hat with gold lettering that simply read “ICON” across the front.

Since NASH Icon is part of Cumulus Media, who were one of the major underwriters of the American Country Countdown Awards, and the first signeee to the label Reba McEntire was honored on the night with a “NASH Icon” award herself, and the fact that Scott Borchetta was also a part of the presentation and Jr. was added to the lineup so late, it seems to match up that the “ICON” on Jr’s lid was the preliminary announcement of his partnership with the new label.

The NASH Icon record label is looking to sign legacy country music talent that is still commercially-relevant and help get them back on the radio through Cumulus Media NASH Icon radio stations which mix older music dating all the way back to 1980, with hits from the 90′s, 2000′s, and today. Hank Jr. would fit right into that NASH Icon sweet spot as an artist whose heyday was in the past, but is still releasing records to a loyal fan base. Hank Jr.’s last album, 2012′s Old School New Rules was released independently.

One extra layer of intrigue with the signing is that Hank Williams Jr. was a long-time artist of Curb Records, and a close personal friend of the label’s owner, Mike Curb. Like with many Curb Records’ artists, the relationship ended poorly between Hank Jr. and Curb, with Williams saying upon his exit, “We’re going to get off this old, dead sinking ship.” This would be the second major artist that has made the transition from Curb to the Big Machine Label Group. Tim McGraw made a similar move under a wave of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits between the two companies, with Big Machine and Tim McGraw eventually coming out as the victors in court.

ronnie-dunn-nash-iconHeadgear was the way another potential signee to NASH Icon made his announcement. Ronnie Dunn, one half of Brooks & Dunn, posted a picture of himself wearing a “NASH Chetta” hat on his social network feed on November 27th after dropping hints he was signing with the label in weeks prior. However, the news of Dunn’s signing has never been announced or confirmed by the company. Subsequently, Brooks & Dunn have announced their reuniting with NASH Icon’s Reba McEnitre for a small run of shows in Las Vegas. No word on if it’s just Ronnie, or potentially Brooks & Dunn who would sign to NASH Icon, or if Ronnie’s “signing” simply had to do with the Vegas shows and not the label. Kix Brooks, the other half of Brooks & Dunn, is the host of the Cumulus Media syndicated show American Country Countdown, which was the backdrop for Monday’s American Country Countdown Awards.

If Hank Williams Jr. does eventually sign with NASH Icon, it would give the imprint an artist who is a two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year, a one who carries on of the most famous names in the history of country music.


Abysmal Ratings for the American Country Countdown Awards

December 16, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  29 Comments

american-country-countdown-awardsMonday night (12-15) was the inaugural airing of what is attempting to be country music’s 4th awards show called the American Country Countdown Awards, or ACCA’s, and the ratings couldn’t have been worse. Replacing the American Country Awards on FOX which ran for three years, the ACCA’s are an extension of Cumulus Media’s American Country Countdown program, a weekly syndicated radio show hosted by Kix Brooks. Hoping to put more muscle behind the production, Cumulus and FOX also brought in giant awards show apparatus Dick Clark Productions—the company behind the ACM Awards and other live broadcasts. However DCP and a big media push prior to the awards couldn’t account for an overcrowded awards show space and a lackluster presentation, and the overnight ratings for the show were abysmal.

Ratings for the FOX-aired show came in at 0.9/ 3, good for last amongst all major networks, and down an embarrassing 21% compared to last year’s ratings on the same night. The show pulled roughly 3.48 million viewers during the two-hour presentation. Compare this with 2013′s American Country Awards numbers, which aired on a Tuesday (Dec. 10th) and were already considered deplorable, the awards show shed over 1.6 million viewers, or roughly 33% of its viewership year to year. The overnight ratings for last year’s show were 1.4/4.

Thanks to Windmills Country for help running down the numbers.

The 2014 American Country Countdown Awards exposed hosts Florida Georgia Line as having little to no skills in timing or pentameter. At one point the presentation came out of commercial break, showed FGL’s Tyler Hubbard standing on the stage with a large camouflage duffel bag slung over his shoulder. FGL member Brian Kelly said to Hubbard, “Hey Tyler, I have to say you have a large sack.” Hubbard responded, “Yeah, it’s nuts.” And that was the extent of their joke.

With the resounding success of other country awards shows such as the long-running CMA Awards every November, and the ACM Awards in April, FOX, Cumulus, and Dick Clark Productions may keep at their task to launch a 4th franchise (the 3rd being the summer’s CMT Awards), but so far over a four-year span, the experiment has not fared well whatsoever.

READ: Saving Country Music’s ANTI ACCA Awards LIVE Blog


Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Wraps Filming in Shreveport

December 15, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  3 Comments


The highly-anticipated biopic movie on the life of Hank Williams called I Saw The Light wrapped production in Shreveport, Louisiana on Friday (12-12), and now the film will go to editing and get ready for a planned release of late 2015. Based off of the biography from Colin Escott and starring British-born actor Tom Hiddleston as Hank, I Saw The Light is being produced and directed by Marc Abraham and has become a project of great intrigue amongst country music fans.

“They had a crew of 150 that worked on the project, and 40 production days,” says Arlene Acree of Film Shreveport Bossier who looks to promote the twin cities as a movie filming destination. “As far as economic impact, they booked 4,500 rooms for the duration. The project location wise, because we doubled for so many places, had 55 actual film locations total, which is a lot for a feature film. The ease of getting around the Shreveport/ Bossier City area is very good because of our infrastructure, so they would do maybe two to three locations a day, and it was a fast-moving project because of their schedule. It’s a biopic feature, so there’s a lot to cover in 40 days.” 

Even though the film’s story takes Hank Williams from Nashville to Shreveport to New York City, the greater Shreveport / Bossier City area became the location for it all.


Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams

“We doubled for Nashville, Montgomery, AL, Shreveport as Shreveport obviously, and New York City,” says Arlene Acree. “We had one day shooting in downtown where we had 1940′s yellow cabs dubbing for New York. That was one thing that was really cool to see. The vintage movies are a lot of fun. They dress the time period and have the period cars. Our downtown has been described as a huge back lot.”

Arlene says I Saw The Light Was not the biggest film to ever shoot in Shreveport, but it might be the most important and welcomed.

“We’ve had bigger project that were more budget and had more shooting days. But this one was very special in the fact that everyone was very well-receiving. If they were shooting in their home, they were very excited about it because of the nature of the film. Just to know this is the biopic feature of Hank Sr.’s life, I think that made it very very special. Overall the community really embraced—they all of our projects—but this one was kind of dear to our heart because of our connection with Hank Williams Sr. here, of course with ‘The Louisiana Hayride’ and he lived here as well for a short time.”

Though information and pictures from the shooting of the film have been very few and far between, Tom Hiddleston did talk to one local television station reporter and posed for a shot while wearing period Hank Williams garb during the production. Hiddleston complimented Shreveport and the crew.

READ: First Images of Hiddleston as Hank Williams from “I Saw The Light”

The casting of Tom Hiddleston to play Hank Williams 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. Executive music producer for the film and Hiddleston’s personal vocal coach Rodney Crowell has defended Hiddleston, saying he’s “the right actor for the job.”

“This project has already created a lot of buzz,” says Arlene Acree. “I can’t wait to see the movie. It’s going to be very exciting.”


Retirement Be Damned, Ralph Stanley Readies New Album

December 14, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  13 Comments


It was all doom and gloom and teary-eyed salutations when Dr. Ralph Stanley announced in June of 2013 that he would be embarking on his farewell tour in late 2013 into 2014. It was supposed to be the last time we would be able to see The Man of Constant Sorrow grace the bluegrass stage. But Stanley has always been one to have restless bones, and even before the farewell tour began in earnest, he was already saying he wasn’t ready to retire. “I meant it at the time,” Stanley says about the premature proclamation. “But I’ve decided to leave it up to the good Lord.”

Since then Stanley has continued to tour with no signs of slowing down, despite being 87-years-old, and losing his right hand man and guitar player James Alan Shelton last year. Now Dr. Stanley has a new album in the works. Ralph Stanley & Friends: Man of Constant Sorrow is scheduled to be released on January 19th, and will be distributed through Cracker Barrel’s country stores. It will also be available digitally through iTunes, Amazon, etc. It features 13 brand new tracks, all but two of which match up Stanley with some of the greats of bluegrass and beyond, including Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Dierks Bentley, Lee Ann Womack, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, and Old Crow Medicine Show.

“I have always enjoyed performing with other musicians ever since my older brother Carter and I first started playing music together when we were kids,” says Dr. Stanley. Carter and Ralph first started out as performers 68 years ago, backed by the Clinch Mountain Boys. “I am excited to share these collaborations with such wonderful artists with our fans. So many of my fans are regular visitors to Cracker Barrel, so I’m happy to have my project available exclusively there so they can find the CD in one of their favorite locations.”

The songs on Ralph Stanley & Friends will be familiar to many Ralph Stanley and bluegrass fans, but the recordings are all brand new. The effort was co-produced by Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, who also appear on a new rendition of the song “I Am The Man, Thomas.”

  1. ralph-stanley-and-friends-man-of-constant-sorrow-001We Shall Rise with Josh Turner
  2. I Only Exist with Dierks Bentley
  3. Sweethearts in Heaven with Ricky Skaggs
  4. Rank Stranger with Nathan Stanley
  5. I Am the Man, Thomas with Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale
  6. White Dove with Lee Ann Womack
  7. Red Wicked Wine with Elvis Costello
  8. Pig in a Pen with Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
  9. Two Coats with Robert Plant
  10. Brand New Tennessee Waltz with Del McCoury
  11. Short Life of Trouble with Old Crow Medicine Show
  12. Hills of Home – Ralph Stanley solo
  13. Man of Constant Sorrow – Ralph Stanley solo

Time Jumper & Legendary Vocalist Dawn Sears Dies at 53

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


Astounding and acclaimed country music vocalist Dawn Sears, known for being one of the members of the Western Swing outfit The Time Jumpers, a frequent collaborator and backup singer for fellow Time Jumper Vince Gill, and a noted solo artist releasing multiple albums on her own, died of lung Cancer on Thursday, December 11th. She was 53-years-old.

Sears was originally diagnosed with the disease in February of 2012, and in March of 2013, it was announced the lung Cancer had reached the 3B stage. Dawn fought the disease valiantly, while also participating in fundraising events to help find a cure for the disease. Just two weeks ago, Dawn Sears participated in a fundraiser held in her name in Gallatin, TN that raised over $100,000 for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. The event was headlined by Reba McEntire.

Dawn Sears, originally from East Grand Forks, Minnesota, became as a major label artist for Warner Bros. in 1990 after spending her early years touring the West and Midwest as a young adult. Her debut album, 1991′s What A Woman Wants to Hear had some minor success, but Sears decided to leave the country scene afterwards. This was when Vince Gill called up the accomplished vocalist and asked her to become a backup singer for him. Sears collaborated with Gill on his 1993 album I Still Believe In You and other Vince Gill projects, and signed with Decca Records and released Nothin’ But Good in 1994. Sears remained a fixture in Vince Gill’s touring band over the years, and also worked with Tracy Byrd, Patty Loveless, and many others.

Sears was experiencing a resurgence in her career lately, playing shows with The Time Jumpers reunited with Vince Gill, and she received an Ameripolitan Award for Western Swing Female in February of 2014. Sears performed at Dale Watson’s event with her head free of hair from the chemotherapy. “This is my very first award. Thank you,” Sears said while becoming very emotional. Dawn had also recently released a Christmas album.

Dawn Sears is survived by her husband and fellow Time Jumper Kenny Sears and their daughter Tess. “It wasn’t music that brought me to Nashville [in 1987],” Dawn said, “It was Kenny Sears.”

Funeral arrangements for Dawn Sears are pending.

Dawn Sears at the Ameripolitan Awards:


Craig Wayne Boyd Puts Johnny Cash Back in the Charts

December 10, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  33 Comments

craig-wayne-boydSay what you want about NBC’s reality show singing competition The Voice, or even one of this season’s top contestants Craig Wayne Boyd, but there’s no disputing now that his high-flying run towards the season finale of the show has resulted in an unexpected boost for The Man in Black. The former padawan of slain Outlaw music artist Wayne Mills—just like his current coach on the show Blake Shelton—Craig Wayne Boyd has called upon classic country material for the competition on numerous occasions, including on November 24th when he sang Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” during the Top 10 live show. The song was done in tribute to Wayne Mills, who was killed just over a year ago by a bar owner who is awaiting trial on 2nd degree murder charges.

Craig Wayne Boyd’s performance was already charged enough with the emotion of the moment and the memory of Wayne hanging in the air, but now Boyd’s rendition of “I Walk The Line” has catapulted him, and Johnny Cash by proxy, to the top of the country music charts, aided by The Voice voting system which gives contestants credit if they register on the iTunes chart.

craig-wayne-boyd-johnny-cash-walk-the-line-001Right now “I Walk The Line” performed by Craig Wayne Boyd, and first written and recorded by Johnny Cash at Sun Studios in 1956, sits at the #1 spot on Billboard’s Country Digital Songs chart, beating out the big current singles right now from Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, and Sam Hunt. The Country Digital Songs chart compiles the week’s most-downloaded songs as determined by Nielsen SoundScan.

craig-wayne-boyd-i-walk-the-line-hot-country-songsMaybe even more significant and historic, Craig Wayne Boyd’s “I Walk The Line” also came in at #15 on Billboard’s all-encompassing Hot Country Songs chart. The last time Johnny Cash himself had a song on the chart at all was in 2003 when his cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt” made it to #56. The last time Johnny Cash had a song in the Top 15 of the Hot Country Songs chart was 1981 with “The Barron.” Cash was also part of The Highwaymen’s #1 hit “Highwayman” in 1985.

Undoubtedly Craig Wayne Boyd’s version of  “I Walk The Line” will experience a precipitous free fall in the charts in the coming weeks, but not after it’s found its way onto scores of digital devices and been heard by millions of listeners. The efficacy of these singing shows at launching artists or making any material change in the music world is easy to call into question. But with Craig Wayne Boyd and “I Walk The Line,” there’s no questioning he was able to do a solid for the Man in Black not seen in a very long time.

Del Maguey
Old Soul Radio Show
Hillgrass Bluebilly
Best Of Lists