It may be a stretch to call My Own Way Aaron Vance’s “Outlaw” album, but he certainly uses it as his opportunity to tell Nashville, his fans, and maybe himself that he’s not changing for anything. He came to Music City to make country music, and that’s what he’s going to do. He’s not changing course, or shifting what the term “country” means just to make his way easier.
Music can be both a portal of escapism for the conformed, and a type of therapy for the ill-adjusted. People listen and play music to fit in, or to stand out. No matter the application, all people use music to help cope with being human. Some music helps more than other music with coping with the human condition.
The trouble with Trace Adkins has never been a lack of talent. The dude has one of the coolest, baritone and bass singing voices in all of modern country music. The bigger problem with the Trace Adkins career track has always been his terrible, terrible song selection. Perhaps Adkins would learn from his past mistakes, and start taking the music more seriously.
Unless you were stuck on an island recently, I’m sure the article called “10 Lamest Americana Acts” by the once prestigious, and now click-hungry newsweekly alternative known as L.A. Weekly passed under your nose. Here are the 10 artists presented by L.A. Weekly and in the same order, but filling in the positives and counterpoints left out of their piece.
Dave Rawlings, Devil Makes Three, Gillian Welch, Jack Grelle, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Jason Isbell, L.A. Weekly, Lucinda Williams, Robert Ellis, Sam Outlaw, Shovels & Rope, Wayne 'The Train' Hancock
If for nothing else, give Thomas Rhett credit for this: He’s taken an incredibly average set of marginal skills and talent, and made himself into a bona fide arena-level superstar. That in itself takes a level of cunning that your ordinary citizen doesn’t posses. Music Row in Nashville has an implausible knack for making mediocrity seem exceptional.
Lindi Ortega is no stranger to the dark regions of the mind, or the mortality that hangs over all of us like an ever-present nightmare, just waiting to swoop down and become our fateful reality. As a student of the folk rituals surrounding Día de Muertos through her half-Mexican heritage, her funeral veil, her ghostly pale skin…
Well, this Tim McGraw/Faith Hill collaboration looked good on paper. And it still might result in some favorable and lasting contributions to country music. But “Speak To a Girl” feels a bit like a misfire, at least on the creative side. “Speak To a Girl” is not a bad song, but it does a lot of the little things wrong.
One of the things that has made Jason Isbell such an enlightening songwriter over the years is his distinctly worldly view panned to a Southern perspective. As a son of the deep South himself, he is incapable of trivializing the nuances of the culture war, deliberately speaking to both sides, and the flaws and virtues of each.
There are only four females total in the current country radio Top 40, and one of them is former American Idol contestant Lauren Alaina. No matter what opinion one holds on Lauren Alaina’s “Road Less Traveled” song, to see a female not named Ballerini crack the Top 5 is a miracle in itself.
Once considered rockabilly by some since most of her music carries an old-school backbeat and 50’s styling, it’s probably more relevant now to call Sallie Ford just plain rock, yet with a decidedly strong bent towards vintage modes which allows it to slither right into the soundscape of all old souls looking for something more their speed than the present day noise.
The biggest takeaway from SXSW 2017 will be that for the first time since the very inception of the idea over 30 years ago, the annual music gathering experienced a palpable draw down in attendance and industry participation to a degree that it fundamentally changed many of the dynamics and rigors one must endure to attend.
A. Michael Uhlmann, Alice Wallace, All My Exes Live in Texas, Beth Lee and The Breakups, Billy Joe Shaver, Brennen Leigh, Brent Cobb, Brooklyn Country Cantina, Cale Tyson, Cary Baker, Croy and the Boys, Elle King, G&S Lounge, Giddy Ups, High Plaines Jamboree, Jenni Finlay, Jimmy Samon, John Conquest, Kelsey Waldon, Kem Watts, Leo Rondeau, Luck Reunion, Lukas Nelson, Lustre Pearl, Margo Price, Nate Boff, Noel McKay, Not SXSW, Parker Millsap, Paul Cauthen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sarah Shook, Shinyribs, Simon Flory, Spring Fling, Sunny Sweeney, SXSW, Teri Joyce, The Defibulators, The Wild Reeds, Threadgill's, Whitney Rose, Wide Open Country, Willie Nelson
For most artists, their careers start off by driving around in vans to club shows across the country, and if they’re lucky perhaps they graduate to a bus sometime down the road. Most artists start by making some noise in their home state, and then maybe hope to garner the attention of a national audience. For Sunny Sweeney, the arc has been nearly the opposite.
Valerie June is the kind of cool everybody wants to be. She started out as roots music’s own little special creature with her primitive country Gospel soul songs—an unearthed gem of Americana made that much more cherished because it was a personal discovery way before the general population caught on.
They say you have your life to write your first album, and there is a lifetime’s worth of stories and experiences in the very personal ‘Too Much Is Never Enough.’ AJ isn’t just channel surfing through soap operas looking for inspiration, it’s born from his own foggy recollections of what the hell went wrong in well-written songs.
Before we even listen to a peep of the music from this new album from Josh Turner, it already serves as an incredible illustration of the sheer incompetence, and creative immorality that so often still grips elements of Nashville’s Music Row. But what of the music on ‘Deep South’ after the incessant delays leading up to this final, triumphant release?
As much as Marty Stuart is a student of country music, he’s also a teacher. And with a refreshing boldness, and frankly a little bit of guts from running the risk of being misunderstood by some of the fuddy duddy fans of traditional country, Marty Stuart encapsulates a critical time in country and all of American music when country music became cool.
There are few venues more historic than Gruene Hall in Texas, and few living country music artists more legendary than Loretta Lynn. This weekend in Gruene, TX (3-3 and 3-4), Loretta and her kin stopped in for a two-night residency at the legendary dance hall, and country music fans from around the area packed themselves into the nearly 140-year-old venue.
Shinyribs is total ridiculousness, and only “country” in fleeting moments and by accident. This goes without saying, so save your comments about what Saving Country Music should and should not be discussing. It’s madness that Shinyribs has been taken in so lovingly and held close to the bosom by the Texas music scene as it has.
Ben Dorcy is the nearly 92-year-old original roadie who started in 1950 and worked with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and June Carter, Jerry Jeff Walker, and even more modern artists like Randy Rogers and Jack Ingram. Though he may not be as well known as the artists themselves, Ben Dorcy is one of the most beloved individuals in all of Texas music.
If you’re going to make a movie based in West Texas about the destruction of the agrarian economy and the way the banks rape the poor and why so much of the American heartland has turned into a ghost town husk of what it once was, what better way to embellish the moments than to include the songs of artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Scott H. Biram, & Colter Wall?