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I knew something was amiss when in the same week, the name of Ben “Cooter” Jones of all people had been evoked on Saving Country Music multiple times, and for multiple reasons; first in an album review for the Ben Davenport Band, and then as part of the backlash to CMT’s new show Party Down South. Best known as the real-life counterpart of The Dukes of Hazzard character “Cooter Davenport”—Hazzard County’s mechanic and Duke Boy ally—Ben Jones has lead an industrious life to say the least, and at 72 years of age is showing no signs of slowing down.
Jones is the owner-operator of the Cooter’s Place Dukes of Hazzard museums and gift shops that have locations in Nashville and Gatlinburg, Tennessee—dedicated to preserving the legacy of iconic television show. Aside from being an actor, Jones has also been a playwright, once penning a one-man play about baseball player Dizzy Dean, and is also known as a political essayist. And then of course there was that little thing when he was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Georgia’s 4th District from 1989 to 1993 before being displaced through redistricting.
Ben Jones is a music lover as well, and has been putting his heart into hosting and helping to organize The Shenandoah Jamboree at the Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns in Virginia that holds forth the first Saturday of every month, March through November, and features traditional country talent like Tommy Cash and Barbara Fairchild. “It’s a wonderful show,” says Shenandoah Valley resident Bob Rimel. “Ben “Cooter’ Jones is trying very hard to keep country music alive, especially here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.”
Jones is also the frontman of “Cooter’s Garage Band” that plays classic country, rock and roll, and 50′s doo-wop. “They are a band full of talented musicians, and they let me sing; but really I am just an actor pretending to be a singer,” says Jones. “We have been performing together for fifteen years now.”
As if Ben Jones didn’t have enough on his plate, he has also decided to join the voices of dissent again CMT’s new reality show Party Down South. Incidentally, reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard also air on CMT, and the confluence has created a showdown between CMT and Cooter. As a former actor on a Southern-based television show, Ben “Cooter” Jones’ opinions seem especially poignant, and like Saving Country Music, was shocked at the content of simply the ads for the show. Jones told rockingodhouse.com,
I am not pleased with the commercial that airs during our show’s time slot called “Party Down South.” The Dukes of Hazzard is a family-friendly show, and people watch it with their children and families. They have no place showing a commercial that promotes smut, drunks, and filth in-between commercial breaks of The Dukes of Hazzard. The show Party Down South makes the South look stupid, and not all of us Southerners act like that. It is from the same people who produced Jersey Shore; it’s a load of trash, and I don’t like it. Now, people have the right to watch whatever they want, and I am a grateful to be back on CMT. I just don’t believe that they should show dirty, filthy commercials during the breaks in our show. Nobody of decency and in there right minds would care to see that load of junk anyway!
Ben Jones waged a battle with CMT to get the ads running during The Dukes of Hazzard pulled, especially during a 35th Anniversary event, and apparently won. On Monday (1-27), Ben Jones released this message:
If I’m not mistaken, and I sure hope not, it looks like Hazzard Nation has won
another important victory for good clean fun. Yesterday’s Dukes 35th Anniversary Marathon
was free of those sleazy commercials for the pathetic “Party Down South” show.
Dukes fans let CMT know in no uncertain terms how they felt about this insult to
family viewers and how they felt about their kids being exposed to this trash.
They don’t want to admit it, but I’ve got a feeling our message got through. I think it
would be a good idea to thank them for their response to our concerns. (And I also
think it would be a good idea to “keep their feet to the fire” on this one.)
Some folks have written to me thanking me for taking a strong stand on this. But it wasn’t me,
it was a whole lot of y’all standing up for what is so obviously right. CMT and their sponsors
have hopefully seen their mistake and have corrected it.
By the way, they are claiming “Party Down South” is a “hit”, even though it didn’t finish in
the top 100 shows playing last Thursday night. Some “hit”! They don’t measure old syndicated re-runs like
“The Dukes”, but I’ll bet you a dollar we whipped them.
Thanks for all of your support of our show for all these years. America loves the “Dukes”!
Ben Jones aka “Cooter”
It looks like decades later, Ben “Cooter” Jones is still fighting for what’s right in the South.
The grandson of Hank Williams and the son of Hank Jr. is having to deal with yet another post-contract release from Curb records, this time called Rambin’ Man, slated for release on April 1st. Insert your April Fool’s jokes here. The album will include 8 tracks of outtakes, unreleased material, and cover songs Hank3 contributed to tribute albums and other projects during his Curb years. Most of the music is stuff Hank3 fans have already heard, repackaged to look like a new album.
Hank3 entered into a 6 album contract with Curb in the late 90′s after a child custody suit and a judge forced him to get a “real job”. Curb was able to stretch Hank3′s album count to 7 by releasing Hillbilly Joker in 2011; a “hellbilly” album Curb initially rejected, but released after Hank3 had fulfilled his contract at the end of 2010. Then Curb released an outtakes album in 2012 called Lone Gone Daddy that brought the total of Curb releases on Hank3′s 6-album contract to 8. Ramblin’ Man would make it 9.
With the news of the release of Long Gone Daddy, Hank3 fans knew Curb still had unreleased material from the 3rd generation star, because a cover of Johnny Paycheck’s “I’m The Only Hell (My Momma Ever Raised)” that was rejected on his Damn Right, Rebel Proud album had yet to surface. Though Curb decided at the time that the cover song was not fit for public consumption, similar to how they rejected Hank3′s Hillbilly Joker album altogether, they see perfectly fit to release the song now on this new record.
Hypothetically, Ramblin’ Man would be the last of Hank3′s material from the Curb era, though the inevitable “Greatest Hits” card has yet to be played by the label.
Some other interesting notes from the track list: “On My Own” was a song from Hank3′s previous Curb record Risin’ Outlaw. “Ramblin’ Man” is a song by Hank Williams that Hank3 once recorded a cover of with The Melvins, as was Merle Haggards “Okie From Muskogee”. “Fearless Boogie” is a ZZ Top song Hank3 once covered on the tribute Sharp Dressed Men. “Marijuana Blues” originally appeared on Rare Breed: The Songs of Peter LaFarge.
Hank3 has previously encouraged fans to burn these albums and share them instead of buy them. He’s also indicated intention to release new material in 2014.
Ramblin’ Man Track List:
- Ramblin’ Man
- Fearless Boogie
- Okie From Muskogee
- The Only Hell (My Momma Ever Raised)
- On My Own [Full Length Version]
- Marijuana Blues
- Hang On
- Runnin’ & Gunnin’
Photos of a recovering Randy Travis have finally been surfacing on Twitter over the recent days—the first glimpse concerned country music fans have seen of the future Country Hall of Famer since he suffered a stroke and subsequent health issues in July of 2013. A smiling Travis looks to be on the road to recovery.
Randy Travis was initially admitted to the hospital on July 7th, 2013 for viral cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart muscle. While being treated for the condition at The Heart Hospital in Plano, TX, Travis suffered a stroke as a complication to the treatment, and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The surgery was successful, but Travis remained in the hospital until late July when he was moved to a rehabilitation facility to deal with the effects of the stroke. While in rehab, Travis contracted pneumonia according to friend Sammy Kershaw. Travis remained in inpatient care until October 11th when he returned to his ranch in Tioga, TX.
On January 19th, family friend Anthony Maurizio posted a black and white photo of Randy with his fiance Mary Beougher standing behind him, with the caption “Glad to see Randy Travis healing nicely.” Bobby and Lisa Vaughn also posted photos of Randy on Jan. 19th sitting in a covered ATV at his ranch in Tioga.
In early November, Randy’s father Harold Traywick gave the grim outlook that Randy Travis may never perform again, saying that Randy was paralyzed on his right side and could barely speak. Since then, the news has been more upbeat about Randy’s recovery. Artist Bonnie Paul who has co-written songs with Randy said through Twitter on December 9th, 2013 that Randy was out of the wheelchair and able to walk with a walker. Then on December 20th she said that Randy was walking on his own.
Specifics on Randy’s condition have been hard to come by for fans worried about the long-term effects from Randy’s recent health problems, leading to much speculation and concern. Randy himself has yet to make any public appearances or statements since his recent health scare, and there has been no official word from doctors on the severity of his condition or the long-term prognosis.
Photos from Anthony Maurizio:
Singer, songwriter, Poet Laureate, and the author of the Texas Trilogy, Steven Fromholz passed away Sunday afternoon (1-19) according to the Texas Music Chart. He was 68.
Fromholz was killed at the Flying B Ranch near Eldorado, about 40 miles south of San Angelo while preparing to go on a wild hog hunt. While moving a gun from one vehicle to another, the firearm fell to the ground because the lower portion of its case was unzipped, and the gun discharged, injuring Fromholz who later died at an Eldorado hospital.
Born in Temple, Texas on June 8, 1945, Fromholz rose to become a towering figure of words and music in his home state of Texas, and amongst his famous music friends. He wrote the song “I’d Have To Be Crazy” made popular by Willie Nelson, and also had songs recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, and John Denver amongst others.
Fromholz was also an actor, a playwright, a producer, and a poet; most notably being named the Poet Laureate of the State of Texas in 2007 by the Texas State Legislature. He was the author of several books, and a respected man of letters, leaving behind an indelible legacy of both chronicling and canonizing the unique experience of being a Texan.
Steve Fromholz started out in music after serving in the Navy in the 1960′s. His first band was called Frummox with Dan McCrimmon, and Fromholz also played with Stephen Stills and Rick Roberts before pursuing a solo career. He once worked with Mike Nesmith of the Monkees and his label Countryside Records.
Fromholz was one of the members of The Folk Music Club—an organization founded on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton, and included other notable members Ray Wylie Hubbard, Michael Martin Murphy, and co-founder of the Armadillo World Headquarters, Eddie Wilson. Fromholz once served as President of the distinguished club that is given credit for inspiring such Texas music institutions as Austin City Limits and South by Southwest.
His hard-to-find, definitive album Here to There is considered a classic of Texas country music, despite it’s out-of-print status. It includes his signature work called “The Texas Trilogy”—a three song opus that went on to define his career. It inspired a book by Craig D. Hillis and Bruce Jordan, and Fromholz penned his own Texas Trilogy book later as well.
Fromholz was heavily featured in Jan Reed’s book on the formation of the Texas music scene, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock. He had the best stories, and was blessed with a knack knack for telling them like nobody else.
Steve Fromholz was an entertainer, a historian, a brilliant orator, and most importantly, a proud and noble Texan.
On November 23rd, 2013, country artist Wayne Mills was shot and killed in Nashville at the Pit & Barrel Bar by the bar’s owner, Chris Ferrell. Mr. Ferrell claimed self-defense, and is currently facing 2nd Degree Murder charges brought down by a Grand Jury on December 6th, 2013. Ferrel was released on bail on December 16th, 2014.
Chris Ferrell was in court Thursday (1-16) for a “discussion date” and to take care of some minor procedural defense motions. The company holding Chris Ferrell’s bond had agreed to take less than the usual 10% to secure his release, but needed to get court approval, and this was granted. Ferrell also filed a change of address under the conditions of his bond. His next appearance in court will be February 6th.
The Autopsy Report
The autopsy report was also made available for the first time through the Medical Examiners Office. According to the Medical Examiner, Wayne Mills was killed by a gunshot wound to the back of the head, and the death was ruled a homicide. There was also no evidence that the gunshot wound was caused by a discharge at close range because of the lack of soot or gunpowder surrounding the wound, meaning the shot came from distance.
Though some reports had Wayne Mills being shot multiple times, Wayne only suffered one gunshot wound. However, multiple other injuries were found on his body. 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.
The ’tissue procurement” noted in the autopsy summary and throughout the autopsy report is for the organs that were removed from Wayne as an organ donor.
The autopsy report also included a postmortem toxicology workup testing for a wide spectrum of substances in Wayne’s body. The report concluded that Wayne’s blood alcohol level was 0.221. Mills also tested positive for amphetamine, at 23 ng/ml. No other substances came back positive. Saving Country Music has tried to confirm or deny if a similar toxicology report was ordered on Chris Ferrell after the incident, but has been unable to obtain that information.
Shooter Jennings Cooperating with Investigators
Questions have arose about the proximity of musician Shooter Jennings and his manager Jon Hensley on the night of the shooting, especially after his name was brought up in court during Chris Ferrell’s bond hearing, as reported by The Tennessean. Writer Neil Hamilton whose book Outlaws Still At Large includes an introduction by Shooter, at one point posted a blog that included many questions about Shooter’s involvement the night of the shooting. After feeling public pressure, Hamilton removed the blog post. Jennings says he left 5 minutes before the shooting happened, and Shooter was not named in the original indictment as a direct witness to the killing. Shooter subsequently posted a comment on a previous Saving Country Music story on the Wayne Mills case, saying,
I assure everyone that I have spoken in detail to the investigators about the events of the night Wayne died. But I also personally believe that speaking publicly about it, at this point, candidly and in detail could hurt the process underway. From what I can tell from the detectives I’ve spoken to, they’re working hard to piece together what happened. I, nor my friends, were there when the actual incident occurred and cannot truly have any answers as to what happened in the moments leading up to it. Just please respect the process — and I’m doing everything personally to understand why such a horrible thing would happen and want to know myself more than anyone. Wayne’s family were terrible victims here and his fans feel that pain because of their love of his music and their loss of his talent. Until this case building is over, I just don’t feel it wise to make a public record. Hope you all can understand…
Wayne Mills Benefit in Nashville
On March 2nd, The Outlaw Music Association will be holding a Wayne Mills Benefit at The Limelight. Announced performers so far include Dallas Moore, Rowdy Johnson Band, Whitey Morgan, Kara Clark, Jesse Keith Whitley, Whey Jennings, Chris Gantry, Tom Ghent, James Austin, Billie Gant, JB Beverley, Buck Thrailkill, Joshua Morningstar, Pete Berwick, Pure Grain, Mike Owens, Brigitte London, Rory Kelley and the Triple Threat, and Larry Fleet, with more to be added.
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For more information on the Wayne Mills case, please read The Death of Wayne Mills 6 Weeks After (Update & Analysis). Saving Country Music will continue to try and keep people updated on the progress of the case.
Country star Trace Adkins has checked himself into rehab according to Country Weekly after taking his first drink in 12 years and ending up in an altercation with a Trace Adkins impersonator aboard a “Country Crusin’” cruise ship headed for Jamaica. According to TMZ, the Adkins impersonator was in the midst of a Karaoke routine when Adkins got in a physical altercation with him. When the cruise ship arrived in Jamaica, Adkins left the ship and subsequently checked himself into rehab. Adkins was scheduled to continue on the cruise, but his performances have subsequently been canceled.
Singer Steven Barker Liles for the group Love & Theft was also aboard the cruise ship, and told radio.com that it was when the impersonator started signing autographs similar to Adkins is when the singer snapped. But according to Liles, no punches were thrown. Adkins just got into the impersonator’s face.
Adkins had been open and candid about his battles with alcohol in the past, and about his sobriety over the past dozen years. A publicist for Adkins released a statement, saying, “Trace has entered a treatment facility after a setback in his battle with alcoholism. As he faces these issues head-on, we ask that his family’s privacy will be respected.”
This is not the first time Adkins has been to rehab. After pleading guilty to drunk driving charges, he spent a month in the Cumberland Heights Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center near Nashville in December of 2002.
Adkins does not have any more scheduled performances until February 8th in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
A few weeks ago Saving Country Music posted a feature on Clear Channel country DJ Bobby Bones—the young, hip cash cow for Clear Channel’s Nashville-based WSIX radio station that is syndicated to 50+ radio markets across the country, making him the de facto face of country music radio’s rapid consolidation at the hand of large media companies. Bones was also the man to replace long-time, legendary WSIX DJ Gerry House, making Bones the symbol to many as the changing of the guard from old to new behind the country radio microphone.
Bobby Bones has been a polarizing figure from the beginning, but just ratcheted up a notch by getting in a public battle with Kacey Musgraves over the last few days through Twitter. Musgraves conducted an interview with Bobby Bones on November 5th, the day before the 2013 CMA Awards, like many of the artists that performed or that were up for awards or in attendance did. According to Bones, the interviews were conducted in a rapid-fire succession, and sometimes he didn’t even know who the artists were he was interviewing.
When it was Kacey Musgraves’ turn, apparently she entered the interview area not through the normal entrance. The interview lasted roughly 1 1/2 minutes, and never aired in full on The Bobby Bones Show. However Bobby did take about 20 seconds of the interview, and use it as part of a segment he called, “Is Kacey Musgraves Annoyed?” The segment basically lampoons Kacey as being rude, uninterested, and awkward.
On Monday (1-13) Bobby Bones tweeted, “Will @KaceyMusgraves ever respond to my tweets. Enter your answer now; A: yes, B: no,” with Kacey Musgraves responding, “If you’d play our original interview in full and tell people how you unfairly re-edited it I might think about talking to you.” Bobby Bones then responded, “I did play the thing in full. I just played OVER AND OVER when you were rude.”
Listening to the entire “Is Kacey Musgraves Annoyed?” segment from The Bobby Bones Show and then watching the video of the interview, it is clear that Bobby Bones did not play the interview in its entirety. (see below)
Bobby Bones then seemed to offer an olive branch to Kacey, saying, “Im a fan. Ive had 2 miserable experiences with you. we both are known shit heads. we should be friends instead,” but then followed it up with the combative, “dont honor me with ‘think about talking to you’. like Im a peasant. you aren’t any better of a human than anyone else.”
Subsequently Kacey Musgraves has responded with:
I normally wouldn’t take part in this kinda stuff but since it’s gotten outta hand: The original interview that audio was taken from, unfairly edited, and played on air can be found through the link on this page (see below. Watch it for yourself. For the record: I am a songwriter and a musician. That’s what I’ve been passionate about my entire life and it’s really sad that the focus got taken away from that. Above all- I’m human. Not a robot. Especially at 8 AM. I don’t stroke egos and that doesn’t make me a “shit head.” When you hear the music that means so much to me to make, that’s all that should matter.
Audio of “Is Kacey Musgraves Annoyed?” Segment:
UPDATE (1-14-14 7:00 PM CST): Bobby Bones has posted a note to Kacey:
I shouldn’t have called us both “shit heads”. I should have called me a “shit head” and you “slightly stubborn” haha. I really am a fan, and have said so numerous times on my show. For the record, there was no editing involved in any segment. For comedy purposes, we played back parts of the interview over and over. Parts that we thought were extremely funny, and even parts that were self deprecating.
That’s what I’m paid to do, entertain. Much like you. Sometimes you hit Sometimes you miss Sometimes, you do both at the same time. Which seems to be the case here. We’re both similar people. both working with a mentality and culture that we love so much and also agree could use a little social change.. And that way I admire your voice. Not just your physical one, but your intellectual one.
I will remain a fan, and maybe one day we can talk it out like real homies, and not Twitter warriors fighting with our keys. However, I am a much better fighter on my keyboard. Or we can write songs about each other. I bet mine is funnier! would love to see you soon. Id Sting and Lex Lugar can come together as one. Im sure one day you and I can too. I also bet 100 dolloars you will win best new artist at the Grammys. Don’t let me down.
Rev Bobby Jones Jr. Esquire III
(This story has been updated, see below)
Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band crashed their shuttle-sized tour bus nicknamed “Eagle Hawk” Sunday night (1-12) while traversing the snowy Colorado roads in the midst of a 6 week Winter tour. Nobody was seriously injured, but members of the band suffered bumps & bruises and the bus was totaled. “We are all okay but I crashed the bus and it’s totaled,” says upright bass player Jared McGovern. “The roads were super icy and I slid and crashed into a truck parked on the highway…It was scary as all hell but aside from some bumps and bruises everyone is ok. Liz (fiddle player) is gonna have a nice shiner.”
Apparently a large truck had come to a complete stop in a lane on the highway because it didn’t have chains for the snowy conditions, and when McGovern came up behind it, he couldn’t stop fast enough to avoid it. The truck driver, not McGovern, was cited in the accident and it was determined to be the truck driver’s fault. The accident happened on I-70 near Silverthorne.
The band played at The Lions Lair in Denver on Saturday night (1-11), and was trying to make it to a show at The Black Nugget in Carbondale, CO when the accident occurred. “Were running way behind tonight. I-70 is extremely scary right now but we got snow chains on and are taking it easy on our way to Carbondale,” the band had posted on their Facebook page earlier in the evening. Carbondale is west through the Rocky Mountains on I-70 from Denver, and the area had been experiencing snow. Along with Jayke Orvis, the tour also consisted of James Hunnicutt, and the Urban Pioneers that include Jared McGovern and fiddle player Liz Sloan.
The band is looking for a new vehicle to finish up the rest of their tour with. The tour started on January 3rd in Ohio, and the next scheduled date is January 14th at The Celt in Salt Lake City. The tour is scheduled to head through Montana and down the West Coast, through Texas and the South and end up in New York State in late February. They are planning to play a makeup show at The Black Nugget in Carbondale on Monday (1-13).
Anyone willing to sell, loan, barter, or otherwise procure a touring vehicle for the band should contact them through Facebook. They are working with the truck driver’s insurance company to attempt to procure a rental or replacement vehicle to continue the tour.
UPDATE (1-13-14 2:35 PM CST): “We are currently hanging out in a hotel in Silverthorne, CO trying to figure out the best to cancel the fewest amount of shows and get back on the road. The insurance company is working our claim but it could be 3 days before we know anything. We hope that we will be handsomely reimbursed but we have no guarantees and we don’t have a whole bunch of money on hand. We have a busted van full of records though so we’re gonna try and sell em. For a $50 donation we will send you a copy of the new Bless This Mess record hand signed by all the members of the Broken Band. We really hate to beg but we hate cancelling shows even more. Please send donations via paypal to brokenbandllc at gmail dot com. Thank you all for your ongoing support. We seriously couldn’t do this without you.”
Country music has lost one of the most tasteful lead guitar players to ever fill a break. Will Indian, lead guitarist for country legend James Hand, as well as the guitarist for The Nortons, The Cornell Hurd Band, and many others, has passed after contracting a fatal infection last month. Will suffered from Hepatitis C. He died Wednesday night (1-8-14) according to his family.
Will Indian was the defining element of the James Hand sound, and so many other bands and artists that were fortunate to have him lend his guitar playing to them over the years. He was not a flashy or fast guitar player, but his taste was impeccable and unparalleled, and his use and appreciation for space, tone, and subtly in his playing is what won him wide appreciation amongst his peers. Indian toured the country and world with James Hand and others, and was a staple of legendary Austin venues like The Broken Spoke, the Saxon Pub, and Austin’s hottest new venue, The White Horse. In recent years, his illness kept him from playing on the road, but he remained a fixture of Austin clubs.
Friends, fans, and fellow musicians threw a benefit for Will in July 21st of 2013 at the Saxon Pub, to help with the cost of his Hepatitis C treatments; a disease he had battled for over 37 years. James Hand, The Rhythm Rats, The Nortons, and many other acts played the benefit. In an interview with the Austin Chronicle before the benefit, Indian led on to the severity of his condition, but had hope he would recover.
I’ve tried the cures, but none have worked for me. I now have cirrhosis that was complicated by a recent pulmonary embolism in my right lung. I have had to cut back on gigs but have Wednesday Happy Hours at the White Horse with the Nortons. I am on a liver transplant list at the Methodist Hospital in Houston. I am on a maintenance program with medications that keep me stable.
It feels great and humbling to have the support from the friends I have made and people who are fans that tell me how much my music has meant to them. I am starting to archive my musical history of television, recordings, and photographs for an upcoming webpage.
Will Indian also was a guitar teacher, and worked with the schools in Dripping Springs just outside of Austin where he lived. His most recent work can be heard on the recent Jame Hand record Mighty Lonesome Man and Cornell Hurd’s Drop In On My Dream.
“I subscribe to the idea that music is a gift to share.” — Will Indian
It has now been six weeks since the shooting death of country music artist Wayne Mills on November 23rd, 2013 at the Pit & Barrel bar in Nashville by Chris Ferrell—the owner of the Pit & Barrel, and the defendant in the case that claims self-defense, and is currently facing 2nd Degree Murder charges brought down by a Grand Jury on December 6th. Ferrel was released on bail on December 16th.
The case has now entered a period where information and progress might be slow, as prosecutors and the defense try to decipher if the matter can be settled with or without a trial. Fans of Wayne Mills may be frustrated by the lack of progress or information, but as Saving Country Music has found out after talking with numerous legal experts, the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office, and the Davidson County Criminal Court, it could take many months, or even longer for the case against Chris Ferrell to resolve, and the killing of Wayne Mills to come to a close.
The next court date for the defendant Chris Ferrell is January 16th in front of Judge Steve Dozier at 9 AM at the Birch Building in Nashville. The date is not considered a pretrial hearing, but a “discussion date” by the court—a procedural court appearance that happens roughly every 4 to 5 weeks during a pending criminal case to determine and update what the status of the case is with the court and all parties.
If new evidence is discovered, a “discovery” date could be filed with the court where the new information would be submitted into the criminal process. A similar instance happened when Chris Ferrell had his bond reduction hearing on December 16th, and a bullet lodged in the wall of the Pit & Barrel not initially discovered by police investigators, but a private investigator hired by Ferrell, was submitted into evidence. Discovery dates are not set on a specific timeline, but transpire if and when a new discovery is made and the date can be set by the courts.
As far as how long it could be before there is a trial set for Chris Ferrell, Susan Niland of the District Attorney’s office says, “You can’t even ballpark how long it could take for a trial to be set.” A lot depends on scheduling between the courts, prosecutors, and the defense attorneys. Since there is only one defendant in the case, it may not take as long as if there were multiple defendants with multiple attorneys.
But a trial may not happen at all. “Each side tries to set a resolution,” Susan Niland explains. “95% of cases resolve without a trial.” That means that Chris Ferrell could decide to plead guilty before the case could go to trial, could work out a deal with the prosecution, either to plead guilty to lesser charges, or to receive a lesser sentence by settling without a trial. Because of the severity of the charges, murder cases tend to go to trial more often, but it can’t be assumed a trial will happen in this case.
As Susan Niland explains, if every case brought by District Attorneys resulted in a trial, the courts would be backed up for decades. It is usually the goal of District Attorneys to settle cases without a trial. It is usually the desire of defendants to settle without a trial as well because a trial is a costly endeavor for a defendant. However if Chris Ferrell believes he is completely innocent of the charges, he may decide to go the trial route. A trial may be the only way Ferrell could fully exonerated himself from the charges, as opposed to taking a plea down to lesser offenses or for a lesser sentence, barring any new evidence surfacing that proves his claim of self-defense and the charges are dropped. Likewise if prosecutors feel the 2nd Degree Murder charges are completely warranted and no deal for Ferrell is fair, the case may still end up at trial.
Prosecutors and the defense negotiate back and forth based on the evidence of the case, the potential motive, and however strong either side feels their case is.
Other Charges Against Chris Ferrell
At the discussion date on January 16th, other charges facing Chris Ferrell from a previous incident could also be brought up. Ferrell faces charges for “Vandalism Under $500,” “Domestic Assault with Bodily Injury,” and “Interference with a 911 Call” stemming from an incident on July 17th where alleged victim Stacey McCoy was allegedly attacked and assaulted by Ferrell. Ferrell broke the key to McCoy’s car and then tried to prevent her from calling 911. This case also resulted in a Grand Jury indictment that was handed down the same day the 2nd Degree Murder charges were brought against Ferrell on December 6th. The charges resulted in their own $2,500 bond, but aside from both cases involving the same defendant, the two cases are autonomous. All three charges in the domestic assault case are misdemeanors.
At one point, two of the three previous charges were reported as having been dismissed. Previously, the general court had decided to only bring the charge against Ferrell for vandalism, but when the matter was brought up to the Grand Jury, the Grand Jury decided to bring all three charges.
Wayne Mills Autopsy Report
Despite numerous reports that the autopsy has been concluded on Wayne Mills, according to the Medical Examiners office, as of today (1-7-14), the autopsy has yet to be concluded. The Medical Examiner estimates it to take 8 to 14 weeks for the autopsy to be concluded, and a report to be filed. The lack of a completed autopsy report also could factor in the progress of either a settlement or a trial.
Besides the misidentification of Wayne as another songwriter Clayton Mills for nearly 10 hours into the investigation that resulted in Wayne’s widow being unable to see the singer before he died, the information on how and where the killing transpired, and where the witnesses were in proximity to the killing leaves many questions. Initial reports said the killing happened inside the Pit & Barrel, and people outside that had left the bar right before the shooting occurred heard gunshots and called the police. But the information that came out during Chris Ferrell’s bond reduction hearing was the Chris Ferrell himself was the one that made the initial 911 call, though outside witnesses could have made subsequent 911 calls.
Also during the bond reduction hearing, The Tennessean reports that “Police found a trail of blood from the parking lot to just inside the front door, where Mills lay, breathing but unconscious.” This statement seems to allude that Mills could have been shot outside the bar, not inside. But Mills could have been shot inside the bar initially, attempted to exit the bar, and then turned around as he started to bleed. However this could have put any witnesses outside in more direct contact with the altercation than the initial reports suggested. Saving Country Music has obtained copies of both indictments from the Grand Jury, from the 2nd Degree Murder charge, and the multiple charges from the domestic assault incident in July. Names of three separate witnesses to the shooting that are not members of the Nashville Police Department are listed in the indictment.
Witnesses & Motive
The Tennessean report from Chris Ferrell’s bond hearing also states, “Ferrell testified that he posed for a group photo at 4:08 a.m. alongside Mills, musician Shooter Jennings, and others. The crowd had dissipated by the time he called 911 to report the shooting at 4:56 a.m.” Shooter Jennings reportedly left roughly 5 minutes before the killing, and is not listed in the 2nd Degree Murder indictment as a direct witness. The other witnesses stated they had cleared out of the Pit & Barrel before the killing occurred. But that doesn’t mean that Jennings and the other witnesses do not have further information that could be important to the case.
The physical evidence from the crime scene is an important element, but if the prosecution is to going to refute that Chris Ferrell acted in self-defense, they must establish a motive of why Chris Ferrell purposely wanted or tried to hurt and/or kill Wayne Mills. These witnesses may have more information on the moments before the killing that could help establish a motive. If the killing was somehow an accident, Chris Ferrell could still be responsible, but the killing may not fall under the jurisdiction of 2nd Degree Murder, but a less-severe manslaughter charge.
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Fans of Wayne Mills may want justice and a quick resolution to the charges stemming from a killing, but murder cases can sometimes take years to resolve. And the Wayne Mills murder case seems to be an especially complex one.
Nearly three weeks after the passing of country music titan Ray Price on December 16th, and his wife Janie Price has published a very touching letter to Ray’s fans about her husband, and the days proceeding his death. Ray was remembered in public memorials both in his home of Mount Pleasant in east Texas on Saturday, December 21st, and in the Dallas suburb of Richardson on December 28th.
I wanted to stop by for just a moment to tell you that I am just now able to speak to you.
The days have been a blur since I lost Ray on December 16, 2013.
Only God knows how I was able to make all of the arrangements for the first Memorial Service, the Funeral and the Entombment at Restland.
The hardest part of all was walking into our home alone and looking at Rays favorite chair empty and knowng I will never see him there again.
I have been confined to bedrest under Doctors orders for extreme exhaustion. I am slowly recovering but still so very tired.
Ray had been hospitalized over and over again since January, 2013. Of course, as you know, entirely for the last three months.
Ray fought bravely to live for as long as he could. When we were given the Ultimate End Of Life Prognosis by the Doctors, I watched as Ray simply accepted his fate.
Ray made every final decision for the end of his life decisively with the same poise and confidence he displayed every time he stepped center stage, picked up a microphone and began to sing,
Ray faced Death with an unflinching bravery that astonished every person in his presence up to the very last breath he breathed.
I was reminded daily of the reasons I had given up a golden
opportunity to have my own career so many years ago and had so carefully chosen this man to be my husband. Ray prepared me for facing all of the perils of a marriage to a famous country music star. He left me with a warning of how disastrous the end would be.
Rays Love For Me Has Sustained Me. I Chose Ray Because Of His
Kindness, Gentleness, Strength And Courage.
What A Great Honor To Have Been Chosen By Ray Price Be His Wife! What A Great Man!
Earth’s Loss Was Heaven’s Gain!
I Pray I will regain my strength and that I will be able to go forward with the plans and dreams that Ray entrusted me to carry on for him.
I Am So Proud To Tell You That I Am Mrs. Ray Price!
Blessings To All, Janie Price
Apparently while none of us were looking, Justin Townes Earle went off and got hitched. Mr. Mysterio divulged his new relationship status in some recent tweets, saying in part, “Oh yea I forgot to tell all!! I married the best most beautiful person I have ever known. I think I know what it means to be truly happy now.” According to a recent article in the Boston Globe’s Lifestyle section, the nuptials happened in mid October in Tahoe.
“It was kind of an immediate thing,” Earle explained to The Globe. “We met four months before we spent one week together in Texas and two weeks together in Salt Lake. We just decided to do it because our families tend to complicate our lives, and we thought this is our day and has nothing to do with anybody else and we shouldn’t have to run around on our wedding day and take care of people, which is exactly what would have happened. I believe it’s not about the other people. I think a lot of women want weddings . . . but it gets completely out of control. People are spending ridiculous amounts of money on weddings. Go buy a house. Take a vacation.”
Just like Justin Townes Earle, his wife is a tall one that likes tattoos. “My wife is pretty well ‘sleeved’ in the right arm and has pieced together tattoos diagonal across her body. When she was 11, she was the national US water-skiing champion and then she did freestyle half-pipe snowboarding when she was a teenager and then started racing Super-G. Her form is absolutely stunning. Now she’s a gyrotonics teacher so she’s 6’3’’ with an amazing body and those tattoos. And I’m 6’4”.”
Justin is between albums after finishing up a five contract stint with Bloodshot Records, and has been having trouble with his new label Communion Records who is insisting he turn in 30 songs to them before they will pay for studio time so the label can “help” him make the record. “I have not, and never will write 30 songs in a year,” Justin insists. “That isn’t art it’s vomit. I write a record. Quality matters not quantity!”
No name has been divulged yet on the new Mrs. Townes Earle.
Phil Everly, one-half of the highly influential Everly Brothers, passed away earlier today (1-3-14) in Burbank, CA from complications due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “We are absolutely heartbroken,” his wife Patti Everly told The Los Angeles Times. “He fought long and hard.” Phil Everly was 74.
Along with his wife, Phil is survived by his sons Jason and Chris, his mother Margaret, two granddaughters, and his brother Don, who along with Phil, radically influenced the use of close harmony in American popular music across the entire musical landscape, including country, folk, and rock & roll music of which The Every Brothers were wildly successful in both commercially and critically in the 1960′s and beyond. The duo was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Only artists like Elvis and Pat Boone outsold The Everly Brothers between 1957 and 1962.
The Everly Brothers featured close harmony singing are given credit for influencing and being influenced by such country acts as Jim & Jesse McReynolds, The Louvin Brothers, The Delmore Brothers, and the Osmond Brothers. They were signed to Acuff-Rose publishing, and though Phil was born in Chicago, his brother Don was born in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where the family’s roots were. Their father Ike Everly was also a noted musician.
Phil Everly and The Everly Brothers’ country roots and influences were most recently brought back into the spotlight when Billie Joe Armstrong of the punk rock band Green Day and Norah Jones released a Everly Brothers tribute called Foreverly that featured a reinterpretation of the 1958 Everly Brothers’ album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, filled with traditional and primitive country songs that had influenced The Everly Brothers.
The Everly Brothers broke up in 1973, but had reunions and continued to perform together throughout their lives. Up until his death, Phil was involved with the Everly Music Company with his eldest song Jason Everly, making musical instrument accessories.
Not since Blake Shelton called traditional country fans Old Farts and Jackasses has a sitting country music star painted such a grim and disparaging picture for traditional country music as Clay Walker did in a recent interview with Taste of Country. The 44-year-old Curb-Asylum artist says that “Traditional country music died,” and that George Strait’s win for Entertainer of the Year was a “closing of the door” for traditional music in the country format.
Traditional country music died. I think that George Strait winning Entertainer of the Year at the CMAs was, to me, a symbolic and a real closing of the door. It was, to me, as if the industry was saying, “Thank you George for everything that you’ve meant to traditional country music.” I’m not saying George Strait won’t be played, but I’m saying I don’t think any new acts, including myself — I’m not new, but … I think people are fooling themselves if they think for a second that the recording industry is going to accept any more traditional country music on the radio. I think that is the end of a world, the end of an era.
It’s kind of like Rome. Rome has fallen [laughs]. There’s a new world and a new era. I feel like I totally accepted that. Now I’m not saying that fans are not going to continue loving traditional country music and playing it and listening to it and maybe even downloading some of it. But I don’t think you’ll see this town record what we call ‘traditional’ country music ever again. I believe that era is completely over.
But is Clay Walker happy about this fall of Rome, or is he remorseful about it?
No. No remorse whatsoever. I think it’s the perfect evolution and it’s the way it should be. It’s time. It’s time for that change. And, albeit rough at the moment, it’s a beautiful rough. I don’t think that we’ll be heavy metal, as some of the bands are doing and calling it country. I don’t think that we’ll be rap. I just think that we’re trying to find where the absolute limitations are and then work within those limitations. I believe that right now we’re stretching the limitations out as far as they’ll go and the fans will bring them back in.
Clay also seems to feel like with this perception that traditional country music is dead, he can use this to his advantage in plotting his career path.
I feel like recognizing where music is, and it’s really cool to have this particular view that I have right now. I would call it more like a catbird seat because I can see what’s happening and I accept it.
Clay Walker made his country music debut in 1993 and considers himself in the class right after country’s big explosion of popularity that saw the rise of artists like Garth Brooks, George Strait, and others. However a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1996, and the strange career track Curb Records has taken with many of its artists including Clay have kept his name out of the headlines as much as in them. Clay has only released two albums in the last decade, which is par-for-the-course with Curb, including his last one She Won’t Be Lonely Long in 2010 that Curb first issued as an EP with 3 singles from his previous album Fall before eventually releasing it as a full record.
Interestingly, Walker also hinted in the interview that Curb Records is no longer receiving star treatment from Nashville songwriters, and instead has to get what falls to them as far as potential songs, further speaking to the diminished power of Mike Curb in the wake of multiple controversies in how his label handles artists. “Record labels are smart business people and they know it’s all about the songs,” says Walker. “So they pretty much join up with the powerhouse publishing companies who have the powerhouse songwriters and those songs stay in those labels. At least, they have first shot at them. Every now and then, drippings for the poor will come off the table, but not very often.”
The declaration of death for traditional country and Clay’s excitement for ushering in a new era tells us what we can very likely expect coming up from him in the way of new music. Whether traditional country is completely dead on radio or the mainstream in general, it sounds like Clay Walker is willing to take a “If you can’t beat them, join them” attitude about it.
The Season of Discontent in country music continues with yet another big name country music personality lending his voice to decrying the wayward trajectory of the genre. But this time it’s not a performing artist, it is Scott Borchetta, the label owner of Big Machine Records, affectionately known at Saving Country Music as the Country Music Anti-Christ, and arguably the most powerful man in the country music business.
Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine label is the home of Taylor Swift, Rascall Flatts, Tim McGraw, Brantley Gilbert, and most importantly in 2013, Florida Georgia Line, whose song “Cruise” shattered all manner of records in 2013, including becoming the longest-running #1 song in the history of country music. However as Saving Country Music contributor Deb Bose pointed out in August, the record is virtually meaningless because of how it was achieved, and because it was bolstered by a remix with rapper Nelly. NPR’s Neda Ulaby also pointed this out recently in a piece entitled, “How A Hip-Hop Remix Helped Make ‘Cruise’ The Year’s Biggest Country Hit” (listen below).
In the piece, Scott Borchetta is asked to comment on what some are calling the “bro-country” phenomenon, and Scott Borchetta, just like many of his artist contemporaries, states that he believes country music has gone too far with all the references to alcohol and tailgates, and needs to get back to music with more substance.
“Everybody in Nashville must be drinking 24-7. We’re a bunch of drunks down here,” Borchetta jokes to NPR, but then turns serious. “There’s too much, to be honest with you. We can’t keep talking about Fireball and Coors Light and having the tailgate down, etc.”
But what Borchetta says next is the most intriguing portion of his comments. “So we’ll task our writers and artists to dig a little deeper.”
This is something that would be easy for anyone else to say, but few like Borchetta actually have the power to task writers and artists to do anything. Sure, Borchetta may just be paying lip service to what he believes the NPR crowd wants to hear. In October Saving Country Music pointed out that Borchetta was personally responsible for Justin Moore’s sophomoric song “I’d Want It To Be Yours,” and this isn’t the first time that someone has called out country music’s wayward trajectory in 2013 while also being personally responsible for it. But here at the end of 2013, everywhere you look there is criticism being levied at country music’s beer and tailgate songs, and a smart and savvy businessman like Borchetta must see that the trend is not sustainable, begging the question if the tide has turned for country truck songs.
Borchetta is actually not the first label executive to speak out about country’s recent flight from substance. Though he’s known mostly as a performer, Toby Keith is the owner of the Show Dog Universal label and helped start Big Machine with Scott Borchetta before the two labels split. Keith had some critical comments about both hip-hop in country and beer/tailgate songs himself in October, saying,
You hear the hip-hop thing start kicking in, and you start going, ‘Is that what we gotta do now to have a hit?’ I don’t know how to do that. Is that what I need every one of my songs to sound like now?…You start playing [deep songs] to a twenty-something audience, and it’s like, ‘Naw, man, there ain’t no mud on that tire. That ain’t about a Budweiser can. That ain’t about a chicken dancing out by the river. That ain’t about smoking a joint by the haystack. That’s about somebody dying and shit.’”
Last month Justin Timberlake got the country music universe titillated when he said he may take a stab at country music in the future. “[I] grew up outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Listened to country music, R&B music, classic rock, you know, everything,” said Timberlake “I still got my eyes set on a Best Country Album. There is time for that.”
Well now Timberlake is doubling down, and delving even deeper into the country music conversation, and what he’s saying is hinting that his move would be a more “adult” approach to country, even more akin to the classic modes of country he grew up with, wanting to use his position in music to help guide country in a direction of more substance.
Justin Timberlake stars in the movie Inside Llewyn Davis opening today, and talked with The Tennessean about his potential, or very likely country music move.
“The next move for me is to sink some teeth in here [Nashville]. I’ve done it before. I got a taste of it,” says Timberlake, referring to the song “The Only Promise That Remains” that Timberlake wrote and produced for Reba McEntire last year. “…it reminded me of the songs that my grandfather used to make me listen to when I was a kid — in a great way. It hit me, ‘Oh I wrote this song because of my childhood.’ It ended up being this thing that country radio wouldn’t play.”
Timberlake’s comments then took an even more interesting turn, when he began to speak about Taylor Swift and how to navigate going from a “bubblegum” star to an artist entering adulthood. “There might be another calling for me out there. And it might be being a part of music in this way as a communicator and a teacher and a guide…I was in a group that was bigger than bubble gum. It’s almost like, with anything, when you do settle into adulthood is when when people respect you in a different way. But there’s no question in my mind that that’s where [Taylor Swift's] going, if she so chooses. For me I am sort of the oracle of the idea, and I’m also the communicator of it.”
Nashville seems synonymous with country music to Timberlake, and he would not want his work in the genre to be from the outside looking in.
“A good song is a good song is a good song. There’s still so much that can happen in Nashville, and I look to the future and I want to be a part of it. And I’m not just blowing smoke. I don’t say that about Los Angeles. I don’t think I would move to Nashville. I know I would move to Nashville. It’s a matter of time. And it’s what this place could offer me, to be that outlet for all these different styles.”
Songwriter and performer Justin Townes Earle has been on the warpath as of late through his always-entertaining Twitter account, taking to task a record label for standing in the way of a new release.
On October 19th, Justin seemed to allude through Twitter that he was done writing the material for a new album, posting “I might have finally finished writing this bitch!!!! Freedom!!!!!!!!”
Then more recently the tone has turned quite sour, with Justin posting on December 15th, “I have now learned that you can never trust a bunch of babies that ain’t worked a day in their lives. May Shane McGowan kick their asses. The only thing I hate about business is that it’s frowned upon to pistol whip the competition. Tweets are gonna be angry for awhile. Just found out I won’t be making a record for a while due to a bunch of pussies in an office. Never working with another record label.”
Shane MacGowan is the front man for the Irish rock group The Pogues.
Then on December 18th, Earle posted, “So I am being told that I agreed to write 30 songs and let the label “help” make the record. That for sent even sound like me! Like I would ever let some little twit fucking comb through my work. And calling me a liar well them is fighting words. Anytime bitch’s!”
Justin Townes Earle released his last album Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now in March of 2012 through Bloodshot Records; a label he singed with in 2007 and subsequently released 5 albums through. The ambiguity of Earle’s tweets left some fans not certain about Earle’s contractual situation thinking Bloodshot was the target of his criticism. There was never any news of Earle signing with a new label. Co-owner of Bloodshot Nan Warshaw told Saving Country Music, “When Justin Townes Earle delivered his last album “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now”, that successfully and amicably completed his multi-album recording contract with Bloodshot Records. Bloodshot is honored to have his five releases in our catalog and to have helped launch his career. We wish Justin all the best.”
Instead it is apparently Communion Records—a British label owned by Ben Lovett, the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons, and Kevin Jones of Bear’s Den—that is drawing Justin Townes Earle’s ire. Justin clarified this today (12-19) through Twitter, saying “My rants have to do with communion records! not bloodshot. leave the good people at bloodshot alone! Badger the fucking Brits.”
Justin told VOX Magazine in April, “I’m trying to wrap up writing my next record. It’s one that I’m paying very close attention because I’ve completed my contract with Bloodshot (Records). I’m going to be moving on to probably a little bit bigger (label). I’m just trying to do my best, to be in control of my everything — producing records and all that stuff. We actually already have offers from labels. I’ve recorded one track mainly because a couple of the bigger record labels are looking at me. We made a teaser track just to say this is what we do, this is how we do it, and this is how we’re going to do it.”
The conflict appears to be with Communion Records requesting Justin turn in 30 songs that they can then vet to eventually be parred down to his next record, but Earle doesn’t have that many songs so the album-making process can’t move forward. What this means in the long run is that it could be a while for new Justin Townes Earle material.
UPDATE: Justin Townes Earle has posted some followup comments on Twitter:
“Let me make this clear! I have not, and never will write 30 songs in a year. That isn’t art it’s vomit. I write a record. Quality matters not quantity! I deliver records in sequence and have a pretty good record so far. I don’t need the new kids giving me tips. Lady’s and gents. I will find a way to get new music out very soon. Will write and record a solo EP. Then Find some grown ups to work with.”
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New Justin Townes Earle song from a recent show at the Southland Ballroom, NC:
In the last few years, the amount of re-releases, rare recordings, and other such reconstituted music material we’ve been bestowed by the Johnny Cash and Hank Williams camps and others has made the announcement and release of archival material somewhat of a mundane event. It’s not that there isn’t material on these albums that is worthy of ears, but they’re usually only good for maybe a few individual tracks that you must find by sifting through outtakes and alternative versions to get to. Sometimes these releases are padded with material that has been previously released, or has been put out in bootleg form before. And with so many of these releases, the mystique of hearing something new from a deceased artist has ironically become commonplace. Sometimes the release dates for these projects come and go and you don’t even notice despite your loyal fandom.
That will not, and should not be the case for the upcoming Johnny Cash album Out Among The Stars set to be released on March 25th, 2014. Instead of a hodgepodge of live or radio recordings or other such discarded studio fodder, Out Among The Stars is a complete album that was recorded between 1981 and 1984 by Cash, with songs that were meant to be together, but never saw the light of day. A true “lost album” if there ever was one. It was produced by Country Music Hall of Famer Billy Sherrill, renown as one of the architects of the countrypolitan, or Nashville Sound. But this wasn’t 1965, and Johnny Cash wasn’t just some artist looking to soften his sound with strings and choruses. Sherrill was also the president of CBS Records at the time, and the pairing was meant to create something special; something that could re-ignite Johnny Cash’s career.
It was the early 1980′s and Cash’s label Columbia was not sure what to do with him. Like so many other golden-era, aging country artists at the time, Cash was seen as cold product, and eventually Columbia dropped Cash in 1986, shelving Out Among The Stars, even though they released some other recordings and albums that were made after the album. It is pretty obvious that Columbia executives didn’t think much of the project, but as we’ve come to find out over the years, from back then and today, just because Music Row doesn’t approve, doesn’t mean it is bad.
Apparently when Cash was cut from Columbia, June Carter stashed the masters for Out Among The Stars amongst other archival recordings. The masters weren’t even found until last year when the family was going through the material looking for potential archival releases.
“They never threw anything away,” Cash’s son John Carter Cash tells The Tennessean. “They kept everything in their lives. They had an archive that had everything in it from the original audio tapes from ‘The Johnny Cash Show’ to random things like a camel saddle, a gift from the prince of Saudi Arabia….We were so excited when we discovered this. We were like, my goodness this is a beautiful record that nobody has ever heard. Johnny Cash is in the very prime of his voice for his lifetime. He’s pitch perfect. It’s seldom where there’s more than one vocal take. They’re a live take and they’re perfect.”
Out Among The Stars features 12 tracks, including a duet with Waylon Jennings, and two duets with Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash. The recordings feature Country Hall of Fame keys player Hargus “Pig” Robbins, and a young Marty Stuart. And for better or worse, Legacy Recordings had Marty Stuart, Buddy Miller, and Jerry Douglas “fortify” the recordings for this release. No, this is not the dusting off of some old demos to have fans who will buy anything Cash dig into their pockets yet again. Great care was taken with this project from beginning to end, and the result may mean the continuance of the surprising and sustainable interest Johnny Cash enjoys well after his passing.
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Below is a clip of the song “She Used To Love Me A Lot,” written by Dennis Morgan, Charles Quillen, and Kye Fleming, and originally recorded by David Allan Coe with producer Billy Sherrill in 1985.
Dwight Yoakam and everyone else is safe after a a scare at 50,000 feet Sunday afternoon. Dwight and 9 other passengers were aboard a twin-engine Hawker 800 jet after playing a private show in a small town in Canada’s Northwest Territories roughly 1,300 miles due North of Great Falls, MT, when the pilot radioed in an engine fire while en route back to the United States.
The plane made an emergency landing at the Van Nuys airport; a neighborhood in the greater Los Angeles, CA area. The runway was cleared and the fire department was waiting when the place arrived, but the plane was able to land safely and the engine was found to be smoking, but not on fire. According to TMZ, the private show Dwight was returning from was a 50th birthday party for a woman who recently won a $7.6 million dollar lottery jackpot.
Dwight Yoakam is currently touring in support of his recent album 3 Pears—his first in nearly 7 years. He has shows planned in Houston and Oklahoma before the holidays.
Chris Ferrell, the owner of the Pit & Barrel Bar in Nashville, and the man accused of 2nd degree murder in the shooting death of Outlaw country musician Wayne Mills, was in court for the first time today (12-16) in a hearing to determine if his $300,000 bond was fair, and if Ferrell was a flight risk. Ferrell attorney David Raybin argued the bond should be set near $25,000, and that Ferrell could have “run for tall weeds” after the shooting, and didn’t. Assistant District Attorney Rachel Sobrero referenced Ferrell’s history of prior arrests, family ties to different states, charges of domestic assault and interfering with an emergency call that were dismissed this year, and that Ferrell has an upcoming hearing on a vandalism charge. The judge eventually reduced the bond to $150,000, and later Chris Ferrell was released with tight restrictions on his movements, and a court order to stay in close contact with his bail bondsman. Ferrell was also ordered to give up his extensive collection of guns. He was released at 6:54 PM.
Further details came out about the case in the hearing, including that Chris Ferrell not only told officers that the altercation between Wayne Mills started with an argument over smoking in a non-smoking section, but that Wayne came to the Pit & Barrel to “rob and kill” Ferrell. Two guns were found at the scene when police arrived: An empty revolver and a semi-automatic handgun. A private investigator hired by Chris Ferrell, former city homicide detective Larry Flair, also found an additional bullet lodged in a wall of the Pit & Barrell, beyond the shots that struck Mills, including the fatal shot to the back of the head according to numerous reports. The indictment of Chris Ferrell came down before the additional bullet was found, and information on whether the bullet was from the same gun used to shoot Wayne Mills, and whether Chris Ferrell is asserting that Wayne Mills was armed has yet to be made available.
More details of the crime scene also emerged. When police arrived at the crime scene, they found a trail of blood from the parking lot to just inside the front door where Mills was laying, breathing but unconscious. There was broken glass surrounding the crime scene, and the two guns were sitting on tables. Chris Ferrell was cooperative with police. What did not come out in the hearing is why it took nearly 10 hours for police to properly identify Wayne Mills, instead believing he was songwriter Clayton Mills.
It also came out today that country artist Shooter Jennings was there on the night Wayne Mills was killed. Shooter Jennings and his manager Jon Hensley had been hanging out with both Chris Ferrell and Wayne Mills earlier in the night and in the days prior to the shooting, along with country performer Jamey Johnson. Shooter Jennings had performed at a show with Wayne Mills two nights before the shooting, and Jennings also performed at the George Jones tribute at the Bridgestone Arena that both Wayne Mills and Chris Ferrell attended together the night before the shooting. Jennings and his manager claim they left right before the shooting occurred.
When Ferrell arrived in court, he was wearing a yellow jumpsuit, meaning he has been placed in protective custody in jail. Ferrell stated that he’s received as many as a dozen death threats from text messages, social media, and voicemail, and that he resorted to wearing a bulletproof vest before turning himself into authorities after the Grand Jury indictment on December 6th.
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