“Billy Don Burns.” To those country fans that know the name, it looms large. But the truth of the matter is, not many know the name. They know the names of Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck—two men who Billy Don Burns has produced albums for. They know Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash—two acquaintances of Burns who on separate occasions, wrote touching letters for him.
There was another big battle at the top of the country albums charts last week, and once again the good guys won. Despite the perception by so many in the mainstream country business that radio play and youth is the key to success, two guys in their 60’s with no mainstream radio love topped the charts, and not just from statistical anomalies based on weak numbers, or on an off week for releases.
Some independent country fans love to harp on whose name is in the biggest font in the headliner positions, but the names Stagecoach invites each year to fill out the roster gives you great hope for the future of country, and tells you who to look out for in the coming months and years, this year especially.
Aaron Watson, Amanda Shires, Billy Joe Shaver, Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, Dale Watson, Emi Sunshine, Emmylou Harris, Jamestown Revival, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Langhorne Slim and the Law, Luke Bell, Marty Stuart, Mo Pitney, Robert Earl Keen, Sam Outlaw, Stagecoach, Stagecoach 2015, The Deslodes, The Malpass Brothers, The Turnpike Troubadours, Whitey Morgan, William Elliot Whitmore
In San Francisco this weekend, the massive Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is going on, and The Mavericks took to the Banjo Stage on Friday afternoon for their set. For whatever reason, the security decided to be extra vigilant, and wasn’t allowing folks to dance some ten feet in front of the already apportioned-off area in front of the stage. But frontman Raul Malo was having none of it.
“I love country music. I respect country music so much that I would never think that I can sit down and just as easy do a country album. That’s not it. That’s just like some country artist saying, ‘Hell, I’m just gonna do a rap album.'”
On Sunday, September 27th, tragedy struck the family of country music performer Eddie Montgomery—one half of the popular country duo Montgomery Gentry. Eddie Montgomery’s 19-year-old son Hunter was taken off of life support at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital in Lexington Sunday morning after what was described as an “accident” left Hunter clinging to life. At the time, further details were not disclosed.
Okay so Tim McGraw is declaring his next record is Damn Country Music. Well let’s just wait and see. But let’s wait to actually hear the music on November 6th before we start high fiving each other. In the end, it’s just a cover.
From the “I have no idea what the hell is going on here” file comes the curious case of Wheeler Walker Jr., an incredibly foul-mouthed country artist who apparently is gearing up to release a Dave Cobb-produced record through Thirty Tigers, and has just released his first single.
Sturgill rescheduled the dates to make it up to the communities he missed because of the cancellation, including one of the few available dates in Charlottesville at The Jefferson Theater—the same night as 2015’s Americana Music Awards. Sturgill had a choice, and it couldn’t have been an easy one.
Look, I don’t want to make too much of this, because in the end, what’s in a name? I didn’t really get too exercised over it (har har) until I saw award-winning songwriter (and #55 on SCM’s Greatest Country Songwriters of All Time) Don Schlitz tweet out about it, “Hey Mark Buffalino: you’re an idiot. And that’s my nice tweet.” But this has got to be the most dumb and over-thought decision I’ve seen in a long time.
Adding to the ongoing discussion about the dearth of female representation in mainstream country today, country superstar Jason Aldean contributed some curious comments to The Washington Post ahead of a show at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA on Saturday, September 12th.
The highly-anticipated Hank Williams biopic ‘I Saw The Light’ starring Tom Hiddleston made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival Friday, September 11th. And the only way to describe the degree disappointment, displeasure, and at times vitriol towards this movie from the select few who were allowed into the screening can only spell one thing: ‘I Saw The Light’ is a gargantuan letdown.
“That news hit me pretty hard in the heart,” Lee Ann says about the nomination. She was driving to her mother’s house in east Texas when she received the call. “I am and always will be a country music singer. It’s what I do… It’s what I love… and it’s the thing that truly makes me feel alive. Having the CMA recognize that after the year I’ve had since ‘The Way I’m Livin” came out really does my heart good.”
It’s not just that depth and intelligence are missing from a lot of mainstream country music these days, it’s that it’s being purposely avoided. It’s uncool to be deep. It’s uncool to challenge listeners to think, to covey ideas through music, or tell truly meaningful stories. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with songs that are just fun-loving moments of visceral escapism. The problem arises when that’s all you’re offering.
On Wednesday morning (9-9), the nominees for the 49th Annual Country Music Association Awards were announced on ABC’s Good Morning America, with decidedly non-country personalities of Steven Tyler and Kelsea Ballerini helping to make the announcements. The 2014 CMA Awards will happen on Wednesday November 4th on ABC, and will be hosted once again by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.
Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, CMA Awards, Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Kenny Chesney, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Maddie & Tae, Miranda Lambert, Nominees, predicitions, Sam Hunt
Kanye West and Taylor Swift as a 2020 Presidential ticket? Screw that. If we’re going to go dipping into the pool of musical performers to field Presidential candidates, then my vote would go for a country music legend rising to the forefront. And not just because I’m a country music fan, but because many of our legendary country artists have the history to connect with hard-working American citizens.
As the title implies, this is a record for the core fandom of LaRue. It’s not exactly a covers album, but it’s not exactly a big original, once-every-two-years release. Whether it was meant to come out now at this time, or was expedited because of recent events, Stoney is doing his best to turn the focal point back to the music, not just as a PR move, but for himself and his fans.
Super secret sources are telling Billboard that Garth Brooks will be issuing an updated version of his 1990 mega hit “Friends in Low Places” to mark the song’s 25th Anniversary, and he will be enlisting a number of high-profile low friends to help him with the new rendition. Included on the new track are reportedly George Strait (yep), Keith Urban (err), Jason Aldean (nope), and Florida Georgia Line (puke).
That’s right, I said Hellbound Glory. And I said Leroy Virgil instead of Leon Virgil Bowers—the name Leroy Virgil decided to go with after he officially killed off Hellbound Glory and launched his solo career. If you’re sufficiently confused now, don’t worry. Just understand whatever he calls himself, he’s one of the best songwriters of our generation, and he’s still around kicking out tunes.
Morrissey performed the song at the Visalia Fox Theater in Visalia, California on August 29th, for what exact reasons remain undetermined. The band nails the 2-chord, hard-pounding, simple composition pretty spot on. Yes, I’m not sure Hank would’ve sang a country song in a Mork suit, but Morrissey seems to really be into his rendition, for whatever reason.