A long-time favorite of country fans that know their stuff, a fixture of Lower Broadway before and after it became a tourist hellhole by holding forth at Robert’s Western World and other haunts to attempt to keep traditional country alive in that godforsaken corridor, and a fiddling sideman for Justin Townes Earle and Jonny Fritz just to name a few, Joshua Hedley is finally cashing in on years and years of dues paid by signing with Jack White’s Third Man Records ahead of releasing a new record.
“From the first time I picked up a fiddle to right now, all I’ve ever wanted to do is make music and be given the opportunity to share that music with the world,” said Hedley via social media on Tuesday (6-13). “It’s been a long road full of all kinds of ups and downs, weird gigs, long van rides, hard floors, and incredible experiences. But through it all I never gave up, I never sold out, I didn’t change myself for anyone, and I did everything the way I wanted to do it no matter what. And today my life’s work finally paid off and my life’s dream was finally realized.”
Though no official press release has made the rounds, Third Man Records, which also is home to country artists Margo Price and Lillie Mae, posted a picture of Josh Hedley and label head Jack White signing a contract, and stating boldly, “Hedley’s initiation into the Third Man family solidifies not only the end of Bro Country’s stranglehold on the country music industry, but also Third Man’s place as the greatest country label on the planet.”
Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, but it is a positive sign for Josh Hedley, country music, and Third Man’s stable of country artists, which is aggressively growing to own a stake in independent country beside barns such as New West, Bloodshot, and Thirty Tigers. Joshua has done studio work for Jack White and Third Man in the past, and released an out-of-print EP in 2009 called Green Eyes. He also recently appeared on a track with Nashville resident Yelawolf called “Shadows.”
As the broad success of independent country music continues, we’re continuing to see deeper commitments from record labels and other industry professionals to independent artists in anticipation of growing attention to music beyond what emanates from the offices on Music Row. Joshua Hedley is the latest benefactor.