Say 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.
Right 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.
Maybe 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.
Everywhere you look people are singing the praises of independent country music upstart Sturgill Simpson and his latest album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. The Kentucky-born singer and songwriter has become a favorite of critics and fans alike. Sturgill has recently been ensconced at the very top of many media outlet’s end-of-year ‘Best Of’ lists, walked away with a new piece of shelf art for Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards, and now has even been nominated for a Grammy. It’s all part of a ‘Metamodern’ rise that has seen Sturgill go from a no name to one of the most promising independent country artists to be launched in years.
But not everyone shares in the positive sentiments. As with all things, taste is subjective, and one music fan named Justin Rose from East Nashville is not on board the Sturgill Simpson bandwagon, at least not anymore.
“If I want to listen to Waylon, I’ll listen to Waylon. Not some modern-day impersonator who wears Carhartt and probably drinks corporate beer that’s not Pabst,” says Justin Rose while rolling a cigarette outside of Fond Object on Nashville’s east side. “I bet he hasn’t even done all the psychedelics he sings about. Like he’s the very first to make a psychedelic country record or something. Please. I have a dozen albums better than that on vinyl. I heard that he was in the Navy. He’s probably active in his church’s volleyball league and voted for Romney.”
Despite his dismissive tone, Justin Rose says he was an early fan of Sturgill’s when the songwriter first moved to Nashville.
“Yeah, I knew that guy when he was playing to an empty Station Inn and nobody knew about him. He actually wasn’t half bad back then. I saw him at The Basement with like six people. Now you can’t even get into his shows because they’re so packed with Vanderbilt Business School post-grads with khaki pants and backwards baseball caps that smell like Axe body spray. I even bought his first solo album ‘High Top Mountain’ on vinyl. It was alright, but when I saw how everyone was jumping on board and calling him the ‘country music savior’ I donated it with a bunch of other crap to the thrift store. At one of his shows I tried to talk to him about my tattoos, but he said he had to load his gear or something. Now I heard he was out touring with fucking Zac Brown. It just proves that bullshit sells.”
Justin Rose insists that the music of Sturgill Simpson is no big deal.
“There’s probably a dozen bands here in east Nashville that are better than Sturgill, but of course you will never hear about them because the music business is all politics. And really, I’m glad nobody will hear about them. Last thing I want is a bunch of people showing up, ruining the experience. People should make music for the art of it, not to get popular and have critics kiss your ass just because it’s cool. I saw they gave Sturgill the #1 album in ‘American Songwriter’ and ‘The Nashville Scene.’ I don’t understand why people don’t get that music sounds better when less people know about it. Watching good bands play to empty bar rooms and not be able to support themselves or their families fills me with a sense of elitism and pride, like I’m better than everybody else because I know about this awesome music and others don’t, and then me an my friends can flaunt this on Facebook and Instagram under the guise of ‘supporting the music.’ I just can’t like music if I think it is popular or successful in any way. Feeling like I’m part of an exclusive scene fills me with a sense of self-importance.”
Though Mr. Rose refuses to count himself amongst Sturgill Simpson supporters, he says he’s not completely opposed to listening to Sturgill’s music in the future. “Maybe if he plays Burning Man or some of my favorite local festivals where there’s more bands than fans in attendance and nobody makes any money, then it’s not like I’d avoid his set or anything. But until then, me and my friends will park across from whatever venue he’s playing and laugh about how the people are dressed and how they don’t ‘get it’ like we do.”
“There was a time when Neil fed me and Willie, and if it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know what we would have done. He helped us immeasurably. He got things for us that no country singer had ever gotten before. If we were going to become Outlaws, though we didn’t know that yet, we needed an Outlaw Lawyer, as Willie called him.
“Neil was perfect for the part. He was like a mad dog on a leash. When he got his teeth into something, he never let go.”
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The lawyer who was at the very center of revolutionizing country music in the mid 70′s as part of the Outlaw movement with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, has passed away. Neil C. Reshen, the man who negotiated Willie Nelson out of his RCA contract, and also helped negotiate the creative freedom for Waylon Jennings within RCA, passed away on Sunday, December 6th after a long battle with Altzeimer’s Disease. Neil was also the manager for musicians as far ranging as Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, David Allan Coe, and The Velvet Underground throughout his legendary and influential career. He was 75-years-old.
Neil Reshen’s impact on country music was enormous. Below is an obituary for Neil Reshen supplied to Saving Country by Reshen’s family.
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RIP Neil C. Reshen: March 3, 1939-December 6, 2014
Neil graduated from City College of New York and was a pioneer in the business management field of the music industry. Neil was the management backbone of the “Outlaw Country” movement which developed in the 1970s. He forced record companies to give Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings 100% artistic control over their music, allowing for such albums as Stardust (by Nelson) and I’ve Always Been Crazy (by Jennings) to be created. Over his career he also managed many musicians such as Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention, Alice Cooper, Buddy Miles, David Allan Coe, Jessi Colter, Linda Ronstadt and The Stone Ponys, The Cowsills, Captain Beefheart, Bernard Purdie, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Tim Buckley and the Velvet Underground. Neil also managed artists and authors such as Peter Max, Andy Warhol, Olivia DeBernadinis, Roger Kahn, and Peter Golenbock and even the famous Creem Magazine and founder Barry Kramer.
In his later career he founded Benay Enterprises and managed many corporations and individuals with his partner and daughter, Dawn Reshen-Doty, who is now President of Benay.
Neil Reshen passed away Saturday December 6 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his daughters Dawn Reshen-Doty of Danbury, CT and Amber Bezahler of Los Angeles, CA, Grandson Justin Slaughter Doty of Danbury, CT, Godson Olufemi Adedeji and ex-wife Barrie Adedeji, both of New York. He also leaves behind two brothers, Bruce Reshen of Fairfield, CT and Mark Reshen, of Hollywood, FL. He was predeceased by ex-wife Patricia Reshen.
Neil Reshen died once before, in 1959, when his parents sat Shiva over his marriage to first wife Barrie. Together they defied cultural norms and entered into a marriage that broke cultural and racial barriers. Neil was many times born again, living through two open-heart surgeries, colon cancer and many other ailments. The fuel for these many lives was friends, family, his children, and numerous German Shepherds.
As Neil was a great lover of dogs—always having at least three German shepherds in house at a time—donations may be made in his name to the Humane Society. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held on January 7th, 2015 at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, 603 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC at 3 PM.
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Out of all of Neil’s accomplishments, his negotiation with RCA and Chet Atkins on behalf of Waylon Jennings might be his most legendary. As Waylon Jennings recalled in his autobiography:
It was down to a $25,000 sum, and they (RCA) were not going to give it to me. He (Neil) wanted it. We were setting there, not a word spoken, and the silence got unbearable. After a while I couldn’t take it anymore. “Chet,” I said, reaching over to a bowl on his desk, “where’d you get these peanuts?”
Neil glared at me. “Shut up, Waylon.”
You could hear a clock tick in the room. It got even quieter. Minutes passed. I rose up, never said a word, walked out. I went to the bathroom to take a leak. When I came back, Neil greeted me in the hall. “You’re a ******* genius,” he said.
“Walking out like that sewed it up. That was a $25,000 piss.” said Neil. “They asked me where you went and I told them I didn’t know. Waylon’s mad, I’m sure. He’s crazy. He’s liable to do anything. . . And that’s when they gave us the money.
Though Neil Reshen might not be a name everyone recognizes, you can make an honest case that without him, the “Outlaw” movement in country music never happens, and neither do many of the iconic albums, songs, and careers of that era.
RIP Neil C. Reshen (1939-2014)
On Friday morning (12-5), the Grammy Award nominations were inefficiently and unceremoniously announced via Twitter (like we need another reason to bury our faces in our phones), and once again proved that their nose for quality in country music is somewhat better than what we’re used to seeing from the country music industry itself, even if their ability to categorize music remains somewhat curious.
Why is Sturgill Simpson ‘Americana’ instead of ‘Country,’ and Brandy Clark ‘country’ instead of ‘Americana’? Just because one is independent and one is mainstream? And isn’t Nickel Creek bluegrass, which has its own Grammy category? Nonetheless, seeing names like Sturgill Simpson, Brandy Clark, and Nickel Creek receive nods gives a little more hope to the music heart that is regularly dashed by annual award exercises, so the people who spend 363 days a year pretending they’re too cool for award shows can celebrate.
***UPDATE: According to numerous concertgoers, at Sturgill Simpson’s concert on December 5th in Milwaukee, he said about the nomination, “One year ago today we threw together an album in four days, today it got nominated for a fucking Grammy. Not exactly sure what Americana means but apparently it means a lot more than country. I’d rather be in a category with Rosanne Cash and Brandy Clark than fucking Kenny Chesney anyway.”
He actually is not in the same category as Brandy Clark (because she’s in the country category), but the sentiment remains the same.
See you on Feb. 8th for Saving Country Music’s LIVE blog of the Grammys.
Best Country Album Nominees
- Dierks Bentley – Riser
- Eric Church – The Outsiders
- Brandy Clark – 12 Stories
- Miranda Lambert – Platinum
- Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’
Eric Church’s The Outsiders is a rock album. Along with her “New Artist” nomination, it appears Brandy Clark is the new critical darling i.e. the Kacey Musgraves of 2014, despite most of her songs being written by committee to formula. Good album and artist, but let’s tap the breaks just a little. Riser and The Way I’m Livin’ are solid nods.
Best Americana Album
- Rosanne Cash – The River & The Thread
- John Hiatt – Term of My Surrender
- Keb’ Mo’ – Bluesamericana
- Nickel Creek – A Dotted Line
- Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds of Country Music
Progressive bluegrass band Nickel Creek was put in this category because they’re more commercially-viable than most bluegrass, and Sturgill Simpson was put in this category because he’s less commercially-viable than most country. Great to see Sturgill nominated, but would have been better if he wasn’t relegated to Americana, which is how this feels because he’s an independent artist. At least they didn’t screw up like last year when they didn’t nominate Jason Isbell at all. Rosanne Cash will probably win this. Maybe Sturgill, or maybe Nickel Creek who’ve the Grammy’s have given love to before.
Best Country Song
(sorry, you don’t get a cool graphic, you get Joy Williams and her bun announcing it in all her regal fabulousness sitting like a Chinese heroin God beside a fire)
Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” is mawkish exploitation. There I said it. Otherwise, a completely dumb list of songs. Even worse than the CMA’s or ACM’s.
- Kenny Chesney – “American Kids” (Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally)
- Miranda Lambert — “Automatic” (Nicolle Galyon, Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert)
- Eric Church – “Give Me Back My Hometown” (Eric Church, Luke Laird)
- Glen Campbell – “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond)
- Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill – “Meanwhile, Back at Mama’s” (Tom Douglas, Jaren Johnston, Jeffrey Steele)
Best Country Solo Performance
Remember, if Keith Urban walks away with this, Sam Hunt gets a Grammy as the songwriter. Carrie Underwood better damn win.
- Eric Church – “Give Me Back My Hometown”
- Hunter Hayes – “Invisible”
- Miranda Lambert – “Automatic”
- Carrie Underwood – “Something In The Water”
- Keith Urban – “Cop Car”
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Dreck on parade. Even The Band Perry’s cover of Glen Campbell barely raises a pulse.
- The Band Perry – “Gentle On My Mind
- Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood - “Somethin’ Bad”
- Little Big Town – “Day Drinking”
- Tim McGraw with Faith Hill – “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s”
- Keith Urban with Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up”
Best Bluegrass Album
- The Earls of Leichester – The Earls of Leichester
- Noam Pikelny – Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe
- Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen – Cold Spell
- Bryan Sutton – Into My Own
- Rhonda Vincent – Only Me
Best American Roots Performance
- Gregg Allman & Taj Mahal – “Statesboro Blues”
- Rosanne Cash – “A Feathers Not a Bird”
- Billy Childs with Alison Krauss & Jerry Douglas – “And When I Die”
- Keb’ Mo’ – “The Old Me Better”
- Nickel Creek – “Destination”
Best American Roots Song
- Rosanne Cash – “A Feathers Not a Bird”
- Jesse Winchester – “Just So Much”
- Woody Guthrie & Del McCoury – “The New York Trains”
- Edie Brickell & Steve Martin – “Pretty Little One”
- John Hiatt – “Terms of My Surrender”
Best Folk Album
- Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas, & Rob Ickes – Three Bells
- Alice Gerrard – Follow The Music
- Eliza Gilkyson – The Nocturne Diaries
- Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy
- Jesse Winchester – A Reasonable Amount of Trouble
Brandy Clark was nominated for “Best New Artist,” and Ryan Adams for Best Rock Song & Album, because he’s not country goddammit.
Bob Montgomery, most famous for being the teenage friend, songwriter, and duo partner of Buddy Holly, and for writing iconic country songs like “Back in Baby’s Arms” by Patsy Cline, and “Misty Blue” recorded by Eddy Arnold, Wilma Burgess, and many others, has died in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, after a struggle with Parkinson’s disease according to his son and fellow musician Kevin Montgomery. He was 77-years-old.
Montgomery was born in Lampasas, Texas on May 12th, 1937. His father was a carpenter, and the family moved to Lubbock when Bob was 12-years-old. It was there that Montgomery met Buddy Holly at the Hutchinson Junior High School in 1949. While attending high school together, they formed the duo “Buddy and Bob,” playing mostly bluegrass songs from bands like Flatt & Scruggs, with Holly playing banjo and mandolin.
The duo wrote some songs together, though according to Bob, Buddy didn’t have much interest in writing songs initially, leaving Bob to write most of the duo’s original tunes. They played at local school dances and talent shows and on local radio. The duo’s songs like “Down The Line” and “Flower Of My Heart” became of great interest after Buddy Holly died in the now famous “The Day The Music Died” plane crash in 1959. According to Montgomery, it was an Elvis performance at Lubbock’s Cotton Club in 1955 the duo played that brought Buddy from bluegrass to rock and roll, and he never begrudged his former duo partner on the success he found without him when Decca wanted to sign Holly as a solo act. Montgomery went on to write some of Holly’s later songs, including “Heartbeat,” “Wishing” and “Love’s Made A Fool Of You.”
Bob Montgomery became an influential songwriter in country music and beyond when he moved to Nashville in 1959, quitting his job as an engineer at Norman Petty’s famous studio in Clovis, New Mexico. His biggest song became “Misty Blue.”
“I was in my basement over in Madison around 1966 and Brenda Lee was a very hot recording artist, who was coming up to record in a few weeks,” Montgomery explained to Now Dig This. “I was trying to come up with something for her and then I wrote ‘Misty Blue’ in about 20 minutes. It was a gift and it was perfect for her, but she turned it down. (Laughs) Her producer Owen Bradley loved the song and as he couldn’t push her to do it, he cut it country on Wilma Burgess. I was disappointed at the time because Wilma wasn’t as hot as Brenda Lee, but it was a Number 1 country record so everything worked out fine. Eddy Arnold then cut it and he had both a Number 1 country single and a pop hit, and Joe Simon had a big R&B hit with it. Dorothy Moore cut the really big version and then it was a country hit again, this time for Billie Jo Spears. There are over 200 versions of ‘Misty Blue.’”
He also wrote “Wind Me Up” for Cliff Richard, “Two Of A Kind” recorded by both Roy Orbison and Sue Thompson, as well as songs by Bob Lunan and Mel Tillis. Along with being recorded by Patsy Cline, “Back In Baby’s Arms” was also the title track to Connie Smith’s 1969 album.
In 1966, Montgomery became a staff producer for United Artists and worked with performers such as Bill Dees, Johnny Darrell, Buddy Knox, Del Reeves and Earl Richards, and later founded a publishing house in Nashville called House of Gold. “Publishing and producing have been my best areas,” Montgomery said in 2003. He produced the hit “Honey” with Bobby Goldsboro, published the song “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich, produced music from Marty Robbins later in his career, and the final album pairing up Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson called Clean Shirt in 1991.
Later Montgomery fell out of favor with the country music business, saying, “It’s been a lot of fun and if something comes along that sounds exciting, I will do some more, but I haven’t heard anything lately that interests me. Country music has gone to hell in a hand-basket and the business is not what it was. I would hate to be starting out in the music business.”
“He was a good man,” son Kevin Montgomery posted on Facebook about his father Thursday afternoon. “Thanks Dad for pitching baseball with me………meant a lot. You left a mark on this world. Just turn on your radio…best listened to on AM dial…driving “Down the Line” on some highway where AM is the only option. Sleep well, Dad. We’ll miss you…”
That’s right, the The Country Music Antichrist, aka President and CEO of the Big Machine Label Group Scott Borchetta is in talks to become the newest mentor on the singing reality show competition American Idol. He would be replacing Randy “Dog” Jackson—the only member of the show’s original cast aside from host Ryan Seacrest who’s been on the show all 13 seasons. Jackson was a judge for the first 12 seasons, and then moved into Jimmy Iovine’s role as the show’s “mentor” for season 13 before announcing he would exit the show entirely for season 14. Last year’s judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr. are all slated to return this upcoming season.
As a respected talent evaluator in the industry, and one that lately has shown more interest in coming out of the shadows and becoming more of a public personality, Borchetta as American Idol‘s mentor makes savvy sense for both parties. Borchetta was responsible for discovering Taylor Swift, the biggest pop star in the world right now, and Big Machine properties also have under contract Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, Tim McGraw, and now Reba McEntire under the new NASH Icon joint venture with Cumulus Media. Scott Borchetta is arguably the most powerful man on Music Row in Nashville, and now he’ll be taking his name international if the reports from US Weekly are correct.
If consummated, it would make Borchetta not just one of the most powerful label owners in music, but also one of the most visible, bolstering both Big Machine’s and Scott’s personal brands. Reports from late October saying the Big Machine Label Group was up for sale were later denied by Borchetta, but remaining one of music’s few major independent labels, sale rumors continue to linger. Scott’s partnership with American Idol could also facilitate more collaboration between the reality singing competition and Big Machine artists in live performances and song choices.
Scott Borchetta was affectionately coined the “Country Music Antichrist” by Saving Country Music in 2009 for his stretching of the term “country” with artists like Taylor Swift. However unlike many of Music Row’s label heads, Borchetta is known for extending more creative freedom to his artists.
Once again Scott Borchetta reveals his desires to be much more than simply a record label head, but a powerful and influential entertainment mogul of the recording industry—a desire that could continue to send reverberations throughout the country music industry.
Songwriter, Sirius XM DJ, and country music elder Roger Alan Wade will release his sixth studio album Bad News Knockin’ via Johnny Knoxville Records on December 16th, 2014. Produced by Knoxville and recorded by Dan Creech at Revolving Blackbird Sound in Santa Monica, CA, like most of Wade’s music the new album will feature just Roger, his guitar, and his original songs. Johnny Knoxville and Wade host the weekly Big Ass Happy Family Jubilee on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country together.
“He inspires me constantly and he’s a tough taskmaster,” Roger said recently about Johnny Knoxville as producer on the Otis Gibbs Thanks For Giving A Damn podcast. “He’ll put up with anything as long as he knows you’re giving it your all. If he thinks you’re slacking man he’s got too much to do to waste his time. I love the way we make records…The only way we know when it’s good is when Knoxville gets chill bumps. Otherwise you keep it going. But if you do it one time and he gets chill bumps, don’t ask to do it again.”
Roger Alan Wade and Johnny Knoxville are first cousins, and Knoxville regularly features Wade’s humor-tinged songs in his movies. But when it comes to his studio albums, Wade can get deadly serious, and draws inspiration from songwriters like Guy Clark, John Prine, and Kris Kristofferson. His 2010 record DeGuello Motel won Saving Country Music 2010 Album of the Year, and his 2012 album Southbound Train was another standout songwriting effort.
“Beige cubicles spook me man,” Wade said to Otis Gibbs about Music Row’s current songwriting environment. “There’s so much about that I don’t understand. I’m not knocking it, I’m not making any judgements. I’m just saying it don’t work for me. Man I like writing them on the run. I like finding that place, wherever it may be, that you’re just holding the pen and it’s coming through you…I strive to be as honest with myself and others, especially when it comes down to asking them to listen to my song. If they’re going to give me three minutes of their life, I want them to know what’s on my mind, and what’s in my heart. And I’m not asking them to agree with me or like it, but you are telling them that it comes with one guarantee, that it’s honest. It may suck, but it’s honest.”
A fixture of the Chattanooga music scene, Wade has written songs recorded by George Jones, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and the #1 song by Hank Williams Jr. “Country State of Mind.”
Bad News Knockin’ Track List:
- Bad News Knockin’
- Blame It All on the Roses
- Lonesome Sunday Blues
- Waitin’ on the Hummingbird
- The Ballad of Shine Marley
- Warm Spanish Wine
- Georgia Blues
- Yellow House in the Country
- Years Ago
- Things I Benn Blamed For
- I Lived the Life
- Red Shoes Blues
- Peace of Mind
Fans of country music traditionalist Jamey Johnson are about to have their Christmas wishes of new music from the awarded and acclaimed songwriter answered. As first reported by Saving Country Music on November 18th, Jamey Johnson will be releasing The Christmas Song, a 5-song “genre-defying” Christmas album will arrive on store shelves December 9th. It includes Jamey’s take on four Christmas standards, collaborations with The Secret Sisters and Lily Meola, and an original Christmas tune penned by Johnson with Bill Anderson and Buddy Cannon called South Alabam Christmas—the first original Jamey Johnson song released in over 4 years.
But that’s not where the goodies stop from the songwriter. Announced today, November 24th, Jamey Johnson is starting his own record label called Big Gassed Records. The first release from the new label will be the Christmas EP, but there will be much more music on the way.
“From now on, as soon as I can get it written and recorded, we will make it available,” says Johnson about the new label. “I am looking forward to getting new music out there. I know our fans have been asking about it and I’m going to do my part to see that we get it to them. I’m excited about the new label because it gives me freedom and control of my own releases and music. It lets me release my music to my fans when I’m ready. I will be able to put out a new song without it having to be on an album. I’m a songwriter. Sometimes I write songs that fit records, sometimes I write songs that fit other people’s records and sometimes I write songs that don’t fit anywhere. I also like to produce—I had a blast producing the Blind Boys of Alabama—and we could release those projects on our label.”
Big Gassed Records is located at 30 Music Sq. W.—the same building that houses the historic Studio ‘A’ that was just saved by preservationist Aubrey Preston. Johnson has been a long-time tenant of the building.
February of 2013 is when Johnson first let on that a contract dispute was the reason for his lack of creative output, telling Rolling Stone, “Financially speaking, they treat me worse than they ever did the Dixie Chicks. I feel pretty used by the music industry, in that my contracts are written in such a way that I don’t get paid … I wish I could tell you that I am writing. I’m not. I wish I could tell you I’m gonna go home next week and record another album. It’s not likely to happen.” It then came out that Jamey’s issue was not with his label, Mercury Records, but with his publisher.
Now Jamey Johnson will have the freedom to release music how he chooses. And patient fans for the songwriter hope he chooses to release more new music soon.
“Seldom in Montgomery did we have a cold Christmas, much less thinking it was our lucky year that it would snow, so the song opens with, ‘Ain’t no snow gonna fall this Christmas,’” Jamey says of the “South Alabam Christmas” song. “And when I was a young kid, it would confuse me and my sister as to how Santa would make it into our trailer because we didn’t have a chimney or a fireplace, and the song deals with that too.”
As for the Hawaiian Christmas song “Mele Kalikimaka,” Jamey says, “It’s in that movie ‘Christmas Vacation,’ where Clark Griswold is looking out the window into his back yard and daydreaming about the pool he is planning on putting in his backyard. Bing Crosby did it with the Andrews Sisters and I did it with the Secret Sisters,” he says. “Our version is a take on Bing Crosby’s version. Our guys did a really good job of it and I’m proud of it. But it makes me laugh every time I hear it because I think of Cousin Eddie bouncing around on that high dive.”
One of the most iconic and influential songwriters in country music history will finally be receiving the documentary treatment.
Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark is currently in production and is being helmed by music industry veteran Tamara Savian as producer, writer, and director. Guy Clark fans will recognize Savian’s name as the producer of 2011′s This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark that went on to win the 2012 Americana Album of the Year. Savian has also been working with Clark on his definitive biography.
Without Getting Killed or Caught gets its name from the iconic song “LA Freeway,” and sets out to profile the man who was the songwriting centerpiece of Outlaw country music in the 70′s both in Texas and Nashville, and still today at 73 is revered by peers and fans. The film starts out with Guy and his soon-to-be wife Susanna Talley pulling into Nashville in their white Volkswagen bus loaded with all their worldly possessions, including a scrap from a burger sack with a partial lyric that reads: “If I could just get off of this L.A. Freeway without getting killed or caught,” and ends with a scene from Guy’s 73rd birthday where Terry Allen, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker sit around and swap stories.
In between, the film will include lots of never-before-seen photos and video, and exclusive audio from Guy Clark’s legendary life and career, including many pieces of history from Clark’s private family collection. The remaining parts of the film are set to be shot around Texas, including the Hill Country, Austin, Houston, and other locations in 2015. The film is said to be taking on more of a feature film approach as opposed to a documentary because of the creative approach and script from Tamara Savian.
Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark is scheduled to be released in 2016 to coincide with the release of Savian’s biography of Guy Clark, and Clark’s 75th birthday.
Front row: Robert Earl Keen, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Guy Clark and Maude the dog.
Back row: Steve Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Rodney Crowell, Joe Ely and Terry Allen.
Saving Country Music’s 2013 Album of the Year was not Jason Isbell’s breathtaking Southeastern, or Sturgill Simpson’s breakout High Top Mountain, but the comeback record from the Latin-inspired Raul Malo and The Mavericks called In Time. The reason was because in Saving Country Music’s esteemed judgement, no other record in 2013 afforded a much musical enjoyment as The Mavericks’ first studio effort in a decade.
Now The Mavericks have announced that they’ve been in the studio again and will release the followup to In Time called Mono on February 17th, 2015. The band made the announcement while performing at the Grand Ole Opry on November 18th. Like their previous album, it will be released by the Valory Music Group, a division of Big Machine Records. Yes, the same label of Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, and Brantley Gilbert. “You know, they did right by us,” Raul Malo tells Rolling Stone. “Heck, they let us make a record at this stage. I know people probably have a hard time imagining this, but it’s not the easiest thing to get these days, to be able to make records and have a record contract.”
However The Mavericks will be moving forward down a man. Robert Reynolds is taking some time off to attend to his ailing wife Angie Crabtree Reynolds who is battling Cancer. That leaves the core of The Mavericks as singer/songwriter/guitarist Raul Malo, lead guitarist Eddie Perez (guitar player for Dwight Yoakam & others), drummer Paul Deakin, and Jerry Dale McFadden on keys. The band will also be embarking on a world tour around Mono‘s release (SEE DATES).
This story has been updated (see below)
Country 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 Thursday morning (11-20), making him the first openly gay male country music star in the mainstream in the history of the genre. The announcement was made in a series of stutter steps, when entertainment show Entertainment Tonight apparently accidentally made the announcement early by putting up an image up on their website of Herndon with the caption “Country Star Ty Herndon, I’m Gay” under their “Current Videos” section. The television show teased the announcement Wednesday night, and Herndon was set to come out on Thursday’s show. Subsequently, People Magazine has run a story confirming Ty Herndon’s coming out, with quotes from the country singer.
“My mother probably knew I was gay before I did,” Herndon tells People. He says he first realized he was gay at the age of 10, and felt guilty while sitting in church, thinking he was gay. Herndon was born in Mississippi, and raised in Alabama. “I remember sitting down with her and having the conversation…she was more concerned about me having a happy life. You have to be able to do that in your own skin, and [my family] has seen me struggle with being gay my whole career.”
Ty 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.” Herndon says one of his main motivations for coming out is to let others know “They can be loved by God, they can be married one day, they can have a family, they can give their parents grandkids. And they’re not broken, they’re not sinners and they’re perfectly beautiful.”
Ty Herndon, who was married twice and divorced both times, has had a troubled past amidst his short-lived success in country music in the mid 90′s. In 1995, Herdon exposed himself to an undercover police vice officer in Ft. Worth’s Gateway Park. After passing Herndon walking in the park, the officer asked him, “What do you like to do?” Herndon apparently proceeded to take down his pants and began masturbating. He was arrested, and also was found in possession of methamphetamine. Herndon copped to the meth, and pled down to spending 30 days in rehab, but denied the sexual encounter. “As for the charges that were brought against me, that’s absolutely a bunch of [expletive],” Herndon said at the time. “The moral of the story is, don’t take a leak in the woods, ’cause it can get you arrested.”
Herndon was also mugged in a Los Angeles park by three men at gunpoint. After Herndon’s second divorce, he filed for bankruptcy. He’s also been sued by a dentist and a former manager over financial troubles. “I have made a lot of mistakes in my life,” Ty tells People. “They’ve been my mistakes, and I own them. I’ve done a lot of work around forgiveness with people that I’ve hurt and people I’ve not been honest with because of my sexuality.”
The 52-year-old Herndon initially moved to Nashville to pursue a country music career, but after failing for almost a decade to make it in the business, he moved to Texas where he finally began to find some traction, being named the 1993 Texas Entertainer of the Year. Later in 1993 he was signed to Epic Records, who released his biggest albums, including the Gold certified What Mattered Most and Living In A Moment. Herndon released a total of four albums with Epic before being dropped for poor sales, and subsequently releasing three independent albums, most recently 2013′s Lies I Told Myself.
What This All Means For Country Music
As the first openly gay male country star in the mainstream of the genre, this announcement will certainly move country music in the direction of accepting a more active male star being gay in the future, but doesn’t secure that fate for a style of music known for its conservative leanings. As an artist whose mainstream relevance ended arguably 15 years ago, this is more the equivalent of a football player coming out as gay after his retirement. That doesn’t mean that Ty Herndon does not have a music career ahead of him, but this is not the crossing of the Rubicon that the genre would experience if one of country’s top tier stars of today was to make a similar proclamation.
What it does do is define 2014 as a watershed year for gays in country music. With Kacey Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow” winning Song of the Year, with the openly-gay Brandy Clark winning a CMA Award as a songwriter, and now Ty Herndon’s announcement, the boundaries for gays are moving further than ever before. It also adds to the legacy of Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow” as being a big impetus for Ty Herndon’s coming out.
Now country music will go through the business of sorting out how it feels about the matter.
UPDATE: Billy Gilman also says he’s gay.
Billy Gilman has also come out today, November 20th, to tell fans he’s gay. In the five-and-a-half-minute long video, the former child country star gives credit to Ty Herndon for inspiring his decision.
Jason Isbell is the most critically-lauded artist in the Americana music realm at the moment, walking away from September’s awards with Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Artist of the Year, but apparently NBC’s talent competition The Voice doesn’t believe he’s well known enough yet that the flotsam and jetsam of the American public wouldn’t potentially gobble him up as an undiscovered gem in prime time. After apparently coming across Isbell “online,” the producers felt his prowess in the competition could be at such a degree that they decided to reach out him to participate in industry auditions.
Yes, imagine the irony of Blake Shelton picking Jason Isbell to be “coached” with the help of Taylor Swift on singing, style tips, and choreography.
“I am a talent producer on NBC’s ‘The Voice,’” read the email that Isbell posted partially on his Twitter account. “I came across Jason Isbell online and was hoping to chat with him about auditioning for us if it’s something that interests him? We are getting ready to travel the country and will be having invite only industry auditions (these are not open calls)…”
Apparently Isbell is only entertaining the matter as fodder for humor. “My audition on ‘The Voice’ will be a solo vocal and French horn rendition of ‘Oh Comely’ by Neutral Milk Hotel. I will wear a #bikini,” Isbell tweeted out in response. I would take that as a sign that there’s probably not a good of chance of that happening.
Though it’s a sexy idea of Jason Isbell being featured on what has become America’s biggest singing competition and exposing millions of viewers to the powers of Americana’s most iconic artist at the moment, the idea of the opportunity being effective for either entity is questionable. Though competitions like The Voice receive a lot of attention, their ability to actually launch stars has been called into severe question over the last couple of years. Many times winners tend to sink right back into obscurity after the finale, or fight for attention as middling stars in an industry now stacked with reality show talent vying for attention.
Though you can’t blame producers for trying. Isbell possesses the type of talent that would validate a show like The Voice, and an opportunity like that could be a big moment for Americana. But in the end, if there’s an artist that has ever found his place, it would be Isbell. And if you want a chance to see him on the boob tube, he has a live DVD of his Austin City Limits performance coming out November 24th, and will be featured on the re-airing of the Americana Music Awards via PBS Nov. 22nd on Austin City Limits. Here’s a taste of what Americana has, and what The Voice wish they did:
(This article has been updated)
When you navigate to jameyjohnson.com, it darn near takes the home page 15 seconds to load because the above banner proclaiming new music on the way is so damn big. Jamey’s fans aren’t complaining though. They’ve been waiting so long for new, original music from the songwriter, they’ll take any sign as a good one. After a protracted legal battle, it’s about time the creative reigns on one of country music’s most successful modern day traditionalists were loosened.
A Christmas album though? That may not be exactly what many Jamey Johnson fans were hoping to find under their country music Christmas tree. But others will find a treat in the new release nonetheless, and this does not mean a new album of non Holiday-oriented music still isn’t on the way.
Jamey Johnson’s The Christmas Song, a 5-song “genre-defying” Christmas album will arrive on store shelves December 9th. It includes Jamey’s take on four Christmas standards, collaborations with The Secret Sisters and Lily Meola, and an original Johnson-penned Christmas tune—the first original Jamey Johnson song released in over 4 years. The Christmas Song is being released through Jamey Johnson’s own record label Big Gassed Records.
The album is described as, “four timeless holiday standards and a much-anticipated new Christmas song. The genre-defying collection could be describe as Trains, Trailers and Tikis, because it features traditional and jazz-inspired Christmas sounds reminiscent of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, an uplifting Hawaiian holiday feel and powerful country songs. Johnson is joined by The Secret Sisters on ‘Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song)’, while singer Lily Meola shares the microphone on ‘Baby, It s Cold Outside.’ In addition, Johnson offers his interpretation of ‘The Christmas Song’ and Willie Nelson’s ‘Pretty Paper.’ The award-winning songwriter was inspired to write a new song, ‘South Alabam Christmas,’ which ends with a lullaby to soothe anxious children to sleep on Christmas Eve.”
February of 2013 is when Johnson first let on that a contract dispute was the reason for his lack of creative output, telling Rolling Stone, “Financially speaking, they treat me worse than they ever did the Dixie Chicks. I feel pretty used by the music industry, in that my contracts are written in such a way that I don’t get paid … I wish I could tell you that I am writing. I’m not. I wish I could tell you I’m gonna go home next week and record another album. It’s not likely to happen.” It then came out that Jamey’s issue was not with his label, Mercury Records, but with his publisher. The Christmas Song may tide thirsty fans over until a new full-length is ready to release.
- Baby It’s Cold Outside
- Mele Kalikimaka
- South Alabam Christmas
- Pretty Paper
- The Christmas Song
On Monday, November 17th when Garth Brooks appeared on Access Hollywood promoting his upcoming tour dates and the release of his new album Man Against Machine, he was pretty loose lipped about his hatred for certain elements of music technology, and how it has taken a lot of the power out of the hands of artists. This philosophy is what is behind the country singer refusing to release his music to iTunes and streaming services, and is the theme behind his “Man Against Machine” album title and opening track. Brooks has set up his own iTunes rival called GhostTunes which allows artists to sell their music however they want, including as whole albums or in bundle packages.
When Garth was asked what he thought about Taylor Swift’s public feud with Spotify, he responded,
I think a lot of people are going to start following. (If) music starts standing up for itself, it’s going to get a lot better. And you know guys, there’s some big friends of ours in music that we need to stand up to to. I mean, if iTunes is going to tell you how to sell your stuff, and it’s only going to go this way, don’t forget who’s creating the music and who should be doing the stuff. And I’m telling you, the devil? Nice people…YouTube. Oh my gosh. They claim they’re paying people a lot, but they’re not paying anything either. And people get millions and millions and millions of views and they don’t get squat. Trust me, songwriters are hurting, so I applaud Ms. Taylor, I applaud everyone for standing up for the songwriters because without them music is nothing.
Garth then talked about a meeting he had with YouTube where he tried to persuade them to completely remove anything having to do with him from the format. None of Garth’s music or videos can be found on the video giant, but live videos from concerts, etc. have made it on the service from his recent concert appearances.
You can’t get out of it. I had a sweet meeting with them. They were all fired up. They were the sweetest, and they’re all like twelve. They’re the sweetest kids. So young. And so I got the first question, “How do you get out?” And silence. You don’t. You don’t get out. Thanks for our wonderful someone judging on this one on the government. But yeah, it’s totally backward right now. But music, if the artists will just keep hammering away, unify, stick together, then music will become the king again, which is where it should be. Music should always be first.
YouTube has just launched its own subscription service to rival Spotify and other streamers, after a prolonged period of trying to negotiate for music rights from organizations representing independent artists and other publishers.
Whether it’s ultimately successful for Garth Brooks or not, he appears to be bound and determined to do music his way and fight against the current in the way technology is serving music to the public. But with Taylor Swift, and now Jason Aldean and Justin Moore pulling music from Spotify, Garth Brooks is no longer alone, and country is the genre emerging as the one leading the charge.
A woman was seriously injured at the Dierks Bentley show Sunday Night (11-16) in Utica, New York when a piece of falling metal from the ceiling of the Utica Memorial Auditorium impaled her in the leg. Emergency crews stationed at the auditorium (known affectionately by locals as “The AUD”) had to extricate the woman from the crowd on a stretcher as concerned concertgoers looked on. The woman’s injury is being called “significant.”
Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks told News Channel 2 that the piece of metal was a tie rod that had been used to mount an old light to the ceiling of the auditorium. The light was removed, but the tie rod was left dangling, eventually falling and injuring the woman. She was transported to a local hospital via ambulance.
This is the second strange incident at a Dierks Bentley concert in the last week. On November 13th, a woman puked on stage when Dierks brought her and her friends up for a singalong of his hit “Drunk On A Plane.” Dierks told Country 92.5′s Electric Barnyard that he brought the woman and her friends up on stage because they were dressed as flight attendants. But apparently Dierks wasn’t fazed by the incident, he actually enjoyed it. “I’ve seen people throw up in the crowd. I’ve seen fights, I’ve seen blood. It was pretty awesome to be honest. I’m always looking for something like cool about every night. So for that to happen was pretty epic. I’d love for that to maybe happen again,” Dierks said.
Some have disputed the irony of the situation, saying that the woman was not drunk, but suffering from stage fright, but Dierks says, “There was a picture of her on Twitter world of her with a drink in her hand, so I don’t know.”
Country music in 2014, personified. Drunk, unruly, and making an ass of itself on stage.
Add to the list of stage falls, mass arrests, “mass casualty” events, performers getting beamed in the head with flying beer bottles, rape, and even death, we now have a woman hurling on Dierks Bentley, appropriately, as she’s singing along to his smash hit “Drunk on a Plane.” Jokes about paper bags in backseat pockets and the awkwardness of airline lavatories even seem a little too obvious here. This is just plain old life imitating art—except in country music in 2014, there’s never any consequences to seven days a week of endless partying.
The incident happened Thursday, November 13th at the GIANT Center in Hershey, PA as Dierks though it would be cute to bring some folks dressed as flight attendants out on the edge of the stage “runway” for a little singalong of his recent CMA Award-winning song. Unfortunately for Dierks, one of the flight attendants was concealing a gut full of ugly that wouldn’t be held back.
“Did that just happen?” someone squeals from the crowd. Yes. Yes, it just did. When the unexpected carry on liquid spilled, it sent the performance in a tailspin, but eventually Dierks rallied, saying, “They all know why she’s puking up on the stage.” Maybe because she’s really, really drunk (though some reports say it had less to do with drunkedness, and more to do with stage fright). Then Dierks calls for “Cleanup on aisle six.” It also appears like the vomit incident on stage stimulated some others to lose their lunch in the crowd, which is known to happen.
Yuck it up, fuzzballs.
The past 24 hours has seen some big signings by some worthy artists to record labels. Here’s a rundown:
The old-school throwback St. Louis singing and strumming song man Pokey LaFarge has signed to the prestigious Rounder Records, announced Wednesday (11-12). Pokey, who has released six albums since his self-released debut in 2006, and who most recently recorded an album for Jack White’s Third Man Records in 2013, has found what he hopes to be a more permanent home on a record label who’s known for releasing albums by Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Alison Krauss, and dozens more since its inception in 1970 as a predominantly roots label.
“Needless to say, it is a true honor to begin this new relationship with Rounder and be counted among so many champions of American music, past and present,” was the message posted on Pokey’s website. At the present, no word of when Pokey’s Rounder debut might hit shelves, but an announcement should be coming soon.
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Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has signed with Yazoo Records, and have announced their new album called So Delicious will be delivered on February 17th, 2015. The slide guitar maestro backed by wife Breezy on washboard and drummer Ben Russell is known for busting his ass on stage and playing over 250 dates a year. This will be the Indiana-based outfit’s eighth release.
“Yazoo was my favorite record label growing up,” Rev. Peyton says. “For fans of old country blues and all manner of early American music, they are the quintessential label. And for me, it’s like being on the same label as Charley Patton and ‘Mississippi’ John Hurt. To think that Yazoo believes we are authentic enough to stand with the other people in their catalog means a lot.”
- – - – - – - – -
The honky tonkin’, rock and rollin’, Birmingham, Alabama-bred gritty and greasy Banditos have signed to insurgent country label Bloodshot Records as of Wednesday (11-12) with an album rumored to be on the way for early 2015.
“Back in March we saw Nashville-via-Birmingham, AL group Banditos at one of those fly-by-night, hole-in-the-wall bars that sprout like skunkweed on Sixth Street in Austin, TX during the height of SXSW crazy,” says Bloodshot. “The sound system at this place was a painful mix of all treble and reverb; and the noises oozing out of the PA during another band’s set were not unlike the distorted echoes of the soundtrack to Suspiria (and not in a good way). We wish we were kidding. Then the six-piece Banditos took the stage, and even though they themselves were a little intimidating – all hair, denim, and stoic determination – the sounds they managed to conjure from two overworked speakers were fresh, raw, and spectacular.”
Now the Banditos will join a roster which includes Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Lydia Loveless, Scott H. Biram, and launched the careers of Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle, and others.
Near the end of 2013, Saving Country Music rewarded Jason Isbell’s live streaming set on August 13th from the Austin City Limit’s stage as the #2 live event in all of 2013. “I admit, it seems strange to put a streaming event such as this on this list, and so high up no less,” was said at the time. “But if you witnessed it, you would know why…It was Jason Isbell’s songs and his songwriting that made so many online watchers walk away with one of those feelings you get after watching a stellar movie—where your mind gets so immersed in the experience it is hard to return to the real world.”
Now Jason Isbell’s entire Austin City Limits set will be released to DVD on November 25th via Isbell’s Southeastern Records, and will include his entire 15-song performance, not just the abbreviated 6-song version that aired with Neko Case during the ACL episode on PBS. The new DVD includes two of the most important moments from the performance left off the broadcast—the 9-minute version of “Danko/Manuel” and the cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”
The DVD also includes many songs from Jason Isbell’s award-winning Southeastern album that was recently crowed Album of the Year by the Americana Music Association, including the Americana Song of the Year “Cover Me Up.” Songs from earlier in Isbell’s career, like the Drive By Truckers staple “Outfit” and “Decoration Day” are also included. Isbell’s had one stellar run lately, including selling out three consecutive shows at Nashville’s acclaimed Ryman Auditorium in October with his backing band The 400 Unit.
Jason Isbell: Live at Austin City Limits is available for pre-order, and has to be considered an essential for most any roots fan.
Flying Over Water
Go It Alone
Cover Me Up
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
Director Marc Abraham, Tom Barnett as Gas Station Attendant, Richard L. Jackson as Gas Station Owner/ Justice of the Peace, Elizabeth Olsen as Audrey Williams, and Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams. From Richard L. Jackson Facebook page.
The Hank Williams biopic I Saw The Light is currently shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana, and we’re beginning to get the first glimpses of the set and some of the actors in their costumes, while details of some of the specific cast members continue to emerge.
Word has come down that actor Fred Parker Jr., known for his work on the horror film The Eves as well as numerous other television and movie roles has been cast to play country music legend Faron Young. Faron was a songwriter and a performer, a friend of Hank’s, and the love interest of Billie Jean Eshliman, who Faron introduced to Hank, and eventually became Hank’s second wife and widow. The part of Billie Jean has been cast to Maddie Hasson. Faron Young was born in Shreveport, and started out as a pop singer. But when he saw Hank Williams receive nine encores on The Louisiana Hayride, he decided to switch to country. Faron committed suicide in 1996.
Actor Casey Bond, a baseball player turned actor known for his role in Moneyball, will be playing fiddle player Jerry Rivers—one of the most important figures in Hank’s Drifting Cowboy Band. Rivers played on virtually all of Hank’s recordings after 1950, and was a close personal friend of Hank’s, going on hunting trips with the singer, and even acting as his personal manager for a while. Eventually Hank’s drinking drove Jerry Rivers from Hank’s band, but he continued to play with Hank right up to his death. Rivers was scheduled to play with Hank on the New Years show in 1953 Hank never made it to, dying en route. Just like Hank, Rivers got caught up in a Winter storm and never made it to the show.
Additionally a camera crew from KTBS Channel 3 in Shreveport was allowed on the I Saw The Light set and spoke briefly with Tom Hiddleston. Anchor Devon Patton took his picture with Hiddleston, giving us the best glimpse of Hiddleston as Hank in period clothing.
The parts of Fred Rose and Hank’s mom were also cast recently. I Saw The Light is being produced and directed by Marc Abraham, who also adapted the screenplay from Colin Escott’s Hank Williams biography. The movie is set to be released in 2015.
Hank Williams III, the grandson of Hank Williams, has been a vocal opponent of the pick of the British-born Tom Hiddleston to play his grandfather. Last week, actor Austin Haley who is cast to play a character “Dwayne” was critical of Hank3, saying, “As far as Hank3 is concerned. Hell I wouldn’t even got to him for advice on music much less on who should make a movie.”
Video from KTBS:
Photo via Devon Patton
Loretta Lynn’s last album, 2004′s Van Lear Rose wasn’t just one of the most important albums of Loretta’s storied career, it was one of the most important country albums in the entirety of the oughts. Produced by Jack White, it was the comeback album of comeback albums, and received wide critical acclaim, including two Grammy Awards. It holds a resounding 97 rating on Metacritic.
But since the success of Van Lear Rose, Loretta has entered in the largest absent period for albums in her career. Perhaps not wanting to test fate and instead ride out the success of Van Lear Rose as long as she could, ten years have passed since she released the storied album. But all of that is about to change.
It has just been announced that Loretta has inked a five album deal with Sony’s catalog album imprint Legacy Recordings, with a new album expected to be released some time next year. Legacy is the same Sony imprint that has been finding great success releasing albums from Willie Nelson during the silver era of his career.
Ten years may have passed, but for seven of them Loretta has been at work in the famous Johnny Cash Cabin Studios in Hendersonville, TN on new music that “travels back and explores Loretta’s musical history, from the Appalachian folk songs and gospel music she learned as a child, to new interpretations of her classic hits and country standards, to songs newly-written for the project.” Helping Loretta with the project has been Loretta’s daughter, Patsy L. Russell, and John Carter Cash, son of Johnny Cash and June Carter, and the operator/caretaker of the Cash Cabin Studios.
Loretta’s new collection of music is said to include “intimate new performances, the way they might’ve sounded growing up in the 1930s and Forties in Butcher Hollow [Holler].” She’s said to have over 90 songs recorded.
“Me and Shawn Camp have been writing some songs together,” Lynn told The Nashville Scene in September. “He’s a good little writer, and I’ve been busy recording. I cut 90-some songs. I did all my biggest ones over again, and I cut some old-timey story songs like Mommy taught me when I was in Kentucky. Like this guy that got mad at his girlfriend because she got in a bad way with him — you know, pregnant. Well, he killed her and threw her in the bottom of the Ohio River. Tied a railroad steel around her neck! When somebody would do something like that, people would write about it.”
Loretta has been enjoying a resurgence of interest lately, making the Legacy Recordings signing and new music somewhat timely. In September, Loretta received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting from the Americana Music Awards. Then at the 2014 CMA Awards, she performed with Kacey Musgraves on a duet of Loretta’s song “You’re Looking At Country.”
Loretta will join a list of country music legacy acts like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Billy Joe Shaver who’ve released successful albums landing in the top of the country music charts as country fans continue to search for the classic sound of country.
Here’s a remake of the Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn duet “After The Fire Is Gone” Loretta worked on recently with Jeff Bates.
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