Just what 2017 has in store for us in the country music department remains to be seen. But we do know about what to expect in the release department for at least the first quarter of the year, while rumors abound about the big projects that could come to light later in 2017. Here’s a run down of what we know, what we think we know, and what we would like to believe.
Whether one may ultimately settle upon ‘The Weight of These Wings’ with a more positive or negative take, what is next to indisputable is that it is a significant release. ‘The Weight of These Wing’s is the symbolic entry of Miranda Lambert—the biggest female country star for the last six or so years—into the Americana/independent/east Nashville mindset
Produced by his cousin Dave Cobb, ‘Shine On Rainy Day’ is more country than it is anything else, but the soul and folk rock influences are palpable on the tracks that roll out so smoothly, they envelop the consciousness not just in enjoyment, but in the presence of nostalgia like a thick memory that feels so present in the here and now, it’s haunting.
After the awards, Jason Isbell did like so many artists of country music’s storied past once did after playing at the Country Music Mother Church. He ambled out of the backstage exit into the famous alley that separates the Ryman and the bars of Lower Broadway, and took the stage with his wife Amanda Shires at Robert’s Western World.
Adam Meisterhaus, Amanda Shires, Americana, Americana Music Awards, Cary Ann Hearst, Dave Cobb, Jack Ingram, Jason Isbell, Jeremy Pentacost, Josh Hedley, Robert's Western World, Ryman Auditorium, Sam Outlaw, Sam Palladio, Shovels and Rope, Steve Earle
AmericanaFest is one of the biggest annual gathering of the tribes on the roots music calendar, and the crown jewel is the Americana Awards on the Wednesday of the festival week. This year Saving Country Music showed up early to take in the rehearsal for the festivities taking place at the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium.
If you’re looking for music that immerses you in a sea of sludgy, gritty, thumping and twangy Southern melody served unfiltered and full-bodied, and mired deep in the honey and depression of the authentic Southern identity, then you have come to the right place.
Lori McKenna couldn’t have anticipated that her song “Humble and Kind,” recorded by Tim McGraw would become the first solo-written #1 song to top the country charts in four years right as she was getting ready to release an album produced by Dave Cobb—one of the hottest names in Nashville.
With no disrespect meant to the albums highlighted here, which represent the exception and not the rule, 2016 has begun where the second half of 2015 left off, where it feels like country and roots music across the board is out of ideas, and the search for music that truly enlivens the spirit is becoming harder. Nonetheless, there are still some excellent albums out there worth highlighting.
Texas-born and Nashville-based singer songwriter Bonnie Bishop has just released a new record produced by Dave Cobb called Ain’t Who I Was that in many ways is like a victory statement after so many years struggling as a female artist in the Texas music scene, and then a songwriter working for a publisher in Nashville.
Believe it or not, you can draw a straight line between underground roots music, and Chris Stapleton becoming the most successful country music artist in the last two years in regards to awards and album sales. Let me explain how:
Sturgill Simpson sat down with Marc Maron of the WTF podcast recently, and the hour or so interview was released on Thursday (5-12). If you’re a diehard Sturgill Simpson fan, it would be strongly encouraged that you listen. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits from the conversation.
And then here comes this foul-mouthed comedy country artist named Wheeler Walker Jr., and all of a sudden we have a new man taking the point at trashing pop country. None of Wheeler Walker Jr.’s songs are “country protest” songs like we hear dozens and dozens of other traditional country artists perform. It’s the attitude he’s taking that’s slowly making him into a pretty serious gadfly for pop country and its suitors.
Corporate sponsorship is the grease for the wheels that makes country music turn. What is new about corporate truck sponsors in country over the last couple of years is how deep they have embedded into the country music culture, to the point where now smaller, independent artists can be seen out there participating in helping to promote full sized trucks.
Dave Cobb’s win for Producer of the Year speaks to just what kind of inroads more independently-minded and organic country music is making in the industry. Compared to the heavy-handed production practices that prevail throughout the country music industry, Dave Cobb took a very relaxed approach to producing Chris Stapleton’s ‘Traveller,’ and you can’t argue with the results.
“Man, what a great writer,” Dave says about Brent. “His dad gave me his CD, but a lot of my family plays so I just thought ‘Well, it’s just another CD.’ My wife made me put his CD on in the car of songs he’d been writing. We were driving back to the airport from the funeral that time, and he just knocked me out. He’s like Don Williams. So deep. Such a deep, beautiful writer.”
The “South” is the setting for the songs, and where the respective artists hail from, but “Family” is what makes this record universal for all listeners. And unlike many other concept records that may only have one or two songs that can be separated from the material, every song on “Southern Family” can exist independently, and many will go on to mark top-level career contributions to the artist’s musical canon.
During the 48th Annual Grammy Awards pre-telecast Monday afternoon, the rising country star and Kentucky born songwriter walked away with the Grammy for “Best Country Solo Performance” for his fine work on the title track to his debut solo album, Traveller. Stapleton beat out Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Cam, and Lee Ann Womack for the distinction.
Though this is not necessarily reflected in the performances, the general consensus is the Grammy Awards this year could be a big night for country music. With Chris Stapleton up for Album of the Year, Little Big Town up for Song of the Year, and other high-profile and important nominations, this is one of the few years country music could come out on top.
Believe it or not, there’s even a deep history for more lewd comedy that would happen in country music under the covers. Roy Acuff, the “King of Country Music” cut dirty songs when nobody was looking, and so did other early country legends, some under assumed names. These recordings were like the peep shows of music in the early days, passed around at beer parlors or in the back rooms of studios.
Ben Hoffman, Dave Cobb, David Allan Coe, Florida Georgia Line, Folk Uke, Grand Ole Opry, Roy Acuff, Shel Silverstein, Steven Tyler, Sturgill Simpson, The Beaumonts, Vince Gill, Ween, Wheller Walker Jr.
“Working with Dave felt great from the first day of our sessions,” says Carpenter. “He is always willing to try something new, believes that â€˜yes’ is the only answer, and surrounds himself with wonderfully talented and generous musicians; by the end of the project, I felt as if I was a part of a new family.”