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King George Strait played what is expected to be his final show as a big ticket touring musician to a packed audience at Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington, TX on Saturday night, and the event that saw people travel from all over the world to witness, and drew some of country music’s biggest names in support, shattered previous attendance records for an indoor concert. A head count of 104, 793 attendees was taken, roughly 5,000 over the stadium’s listed capacity of 100,000, and breaking the previous record for an indoor concert of 87,500 held by a Rolling Stones show at the Superdome in New Orleans in 1981—the same year Strait released his first hit “Unwound”.
The George Strait concert was the final show in his 60-date farewell “Cowboy Rides Away” tour that embarked on the road January 13th, 2013 for a show in Lubbock, TX. Showing up to support George was an impressive list of performers, especially since the date competed with the big night of Nashville’s CMA Fest at LP Field. The show included Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack, Sheryl Crow, and Asleep At The Wheel. Alan Jackson and George Strait reprized their CMA Award-winning duet “Murder On Music Row” from 2000 on the custom-built stage that sat in the center of the field. “It’s still appropriate,” the duo said about the protest song.
Other performances included George Strait and Vince Gill covering George Jones’ song “Love Bug” as well as “Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind”, Martina McBride and George sang duets on “Golden Ring” and “Jackson”, Miranda Lambert joined in for “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls”, and Alan Jackson also sang “Amarillo By Morning” with night’s man of honor. At the end of the concert, everyone took the stage, including Ray Benson from Asleep At The Wheel to sing “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” and finish up with “The Cowboy Rides Away”.
George Strait performed 584 shows since 1990 that grossed more than $405 million, had 44 Number One hits on Billboard’s country chart, and sold nearly 70 million records. But as Strait promised when first announcing the tour, this doesn’t mean he will stop recording or playing shows upon occasion. It will just be the end of the long haul stadium/arena tours. “Like Arnold Schwarzenegger says, I’ll be back,” Strait said before the final song. There was also a film crew shooting the whole event that saw tickets spike to an average of $688 in the secondary market.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here tonight,” said Strait from the stage. “It’s just been on my mind since we started this tour two years ago, and finally it’s here tonight. We broke a record for the most people, ever. Really? Why wouldn’t we, huh?”
On Saturday night (5-31), Valory Music Group artist Brantley Gilbert headlined the Blue Ridge Music Festival in Salem, Virginia, with Thomas Rhett, ABC Nashville actress and singer Clare Bowen, and Travis Tritt opening for him. Apparently what transpired stimulated Travis Tritt to take to Twitter to question the level of respect he and his fellow openers were treated with, and the respect he and other aging artists are receiving in general. Here are the Tweets in sequential order.
Even though @BrantleyGilbert only gave us 8 feet of stage, we had a great time performing for everyone @BlueRidgeFest tonight. Great crowd! My word of advice to all up and coming performers: Don’t kick anymore asses on your way up than you are willing to kiss on your way down! I’ve always treated my heroes and peers with respect. I’ve respected everyone from George Jones, Waylon and Charlie Daniels who opened.
Then Tritt tended to soften his stance as the tweets continued.
I doubt very seriously if @Brantley Gilbert knows how disrespectful his stage setup is to those who open for him. However, I’m just saying. Regardless of circumstances, I love performing for an appreciative audience. The folks make the show for me. Nobody appreciates y’all more! Make no mistake, @BrantleyGilbert is a fellow Georgia boy. He deserves whatever place he has carved for himself in the biz …. All I’m saying is that his handlers/management should be a little more aware of how he comes off to those he works with. No disrespect. Everyone in this biz knows we can’t please everyone, in spite of our best intentions. However, non of us can fix what we don’t know is wrong.
About an hour later, Tritt added:
Know this. I’ve had openers from Trisha Yearwood, Dixie Chicks, Little Texas, Joe Diffie, Lynyrd Skynyrd & LeRoy Parnell over the years …. And I’ve always personally made sure that they had all the stage space and production that they needed to put on the best show possible.
No response has been seen from Brantley Gilbert, who has not posted a Tweet since May 30th. Gilbert at the moment is promoting his recently released Just As I Am album which has been surprising people with its sales numbers and debuted at #1 in country music.
Tritt’s snipping of Gilbert’s nose (or at least his crew and management’s) is reminiscent of last summer when artists began speaking out like never before about the direction of the genre and the lack of respect for older artists, arguably crowned by Zac Brown who called Luke Bryan’s song “That’s My Kind of Night” the “Worst Song Ever.”
In January, Travis Tritt also had some criticism of the direction of the country music business, telling Peter Cooper of The Tennessean:
Thereâs a mentality in the country music world of Nashville that says, âYou donât know anything, and we know how to do this.â Itâs âWe know whatâs best for you: You get to the microphone, sing what we tell you to sing, play what we tell you to play, and youâll be fine.â That scares people away from branching out and doing things that creatively are out of the box.
The music business establishment does not have a crystal ball. They do not know everything that they tell you they know. Iâd say to any of the new people coming out, âFind the courage to step out and try it your way.â Otherwise, what we get is a cookie-cutter mentality that isnât good for artists who are having to portray themselves as something they arenât, or that are capable of doing so much more but are being stifled.
Garth! Hey buddy, it’s been a long time. Yeah, I know, we’ve seen each other in passing here and there. Some appearances at the award shows and such, and that whole thing out in Vegas and the recent box set release, though I’m not really sure if any of that counts. But hey, don’t worry, I’m not jumping on your butt or anything. You hung the moon for me for over a decade, and no matter what you decide to do from here on out, I’m forever in your debt for taking me to levels I thought were never possible, flying over stadiums on suspension wires and inspiring the Billy Ray Cyrus’s of the world notwithstanding. Hell I don’t even know that I can get worked up about all of that stuff anymore, or about your whole Chris Gaines gimmick, or for trying out for the Padres baseball team. I get it now. You were bored. You had climbed the mountain, conquered it, and were looking for the next challenge. Well let me tell you Garth, if you’re looking for a good challenge, I’ve got one. A big one. And this is one you might be able to accomplish. In fact, you might be the only one left on Earth who can.
Don’t think for a second that I blame you for taking a dozen-plus years off to spend time with your family, please. In fact I commend you for it. If we all spent a little more time putting family first, this probably would be a much more pleasant world to live in. Hell, don’t think the idea of dialing it all back doesn’t cross my mind every damn day, yet here I am working like a three-peckered billy goat. Do you know they say that country music is the biggest American music genre now? Ha, did you ever think we’d see that day Garth?
But this is the problem old friend. They’ve thrown the barn doors wide, and now everybody and their cousin is calling themselves country, and it’s gotten completely out of control. Be careful what you wish for, right Garth? I mean we’ve got DJ’s who don’t do anything but stand behind a couple of turntables pressing buttons now calling themselves country, rappers calling themselves country, hard rockers calling themselves country. It’s to the point now where I yearn for the days where Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift were the biggest pains in my ass. I look back now at the time when they said you were ruining the genre as the good ol’ days. By the way, do you have any idea if Waylon Jennings ever really said that line, “Garth Brooks did to country music what pantyhose did to finger $#@!ing?” Because for the life of me, I can’t verify it anywhere. And yeah, I know I just censored myself. But to some of us Garth, country music is still a family format.
I’m swallowing my pride here Garth. I need your help. Whether it was you and I pairing up in the in the 90′s to sell all those records that truly stimulated all these problems in the first place or not, the simple fact is you and I coming back together could maybe spell the end of it, or at least restoring some sort of balance to where if someone turns on their radio and tunes it to a country station, they might actually hear something that sounds like country.
I know there’s no need to pry you off you’re couch or anything; you’ve already got all the plans in the works for your big triumphant return, so this is not the direction my pleas are headed. What I want to implore you to do Garth is to keep it country. For the love of all things holy, keep it country. Please, as a favor to your old pal. Just be yourself. This is no longer about about trying to turn away the hordes who will call anything “country.” Truth is they won the battle years ago. That ship has sailed. This is about storming the gates ourselves, and taking back what is ours. You may be the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music, but as I’m sure you know Garth, country music is bigger than any one person (not to gloat, but you know…), and it is the responsibility of everyone, however big or small, to preserve and protect the country music institution, especially an artist like yourself whose benefited in the manner of untold riches from it.
They can say what they want about you Garth. There are old codgers and punks out there that will bad mouth your name no matter how the rules of the game change, and how much time redeems your past accomplishments. Actually, you want to put those critics to bed? Simply put out a true country album that is successful, and those people’s anger will turn to nostalgia and appreciation. I know deep inside of you is still that little boy from Oklahoma that grew up listening to Merle Haggard and George Jones; that appealed to the masses not by borrowing from other genres, but from finding and writing meaningful songs and singing them from the heart. Some focus on your wireless mic and your flawless, almost too-perfect presentation. But I focus in the fire in your eye, the aching moan in your voice that mimics a steel guitar the comes bursting through the mix to remind us all of the magic that country music can evoke when done right.
And you Garth, and only you, may still have the power at this late hour to remind the masses of that magic.
You did it once for the money Garth. Now, do it once for the music. Because we need it now more than ever.
Your once strained, but now rehabilitated and appreciative friend,
Country is the only genre of music on planet Earth where the midlife crises of its artists play out on the airwaves and populate the very top of the charts, effecting the sonic path of the entire format for all the world to unbearably behold. And right now, Jerrod Niemann is doing the country music equivalent of blowing his retirement kitty on a red Lamborghini, and showing an unhealthy, creepy interest in his daughter’s hot best friend’s after school extra-curricular activities.
To call Jerrod Niemann an “ass” isn’t even hyperbole at this point. He isn’t spreading his arms wide in a submissive pose and pandering to Music Row to do their worst with him—be damned whatever destruction it might do to his legacy or long-term perception—Niemann’s precarious position at the moment much more resembles the compromising and unsavory posture of the poor bastard that graced the original cover of Pantera’s album Far Beyond Driven. Jerrod Niemann in 2014 might as well be like that fictional, computer-generated pop star in Japan: soulless, inhuman, and completely void of free will, relegated to a malleable piece of pop country EDM silly putty for marketing pricks to digitally program and have do their bidding without any fear of human will hindering the money making process or harboring any resentment or conscience. Jerrod Niemann is nothing more than a puppet, and the iron hands of the recording industry are confidently ensconced in his orifice whose colloquial name is an alternative to the title of his new single, “Donkey”.
Don’t fall for the ruse that just because Jerrod Niemann admits that this song is stupid that it somehow absolves it of all of the inexcusable, heinous sins it commits. Forgo all of the superfluous banjo on this track, Niemann’s cadence on “Donkey” evokes hellish nightmares of a cross between a castrated Right Said Fred and whoever the fuck sang that omnipresent mid 90′s ear worm “How Bizzare”. The line “They all walk funny when they’re done riding you know who,” singularly sets back country music 50 years, and would turn Loretta Lynn into stone like Medusa’s gaze if it ever graced her sainted ears. Our Lord Jesus Christ should resurrect Waylon for the exclusive purpose of shoving one of his Flying “W”‘s straight up old Niemann’s keister to see what kind of gait his pathetic ass would sport afterwards.
The jargon and inspiration for “Donkey” comes directly from the uncultured mouths of mid-pubescent 14-year-old boys with hard on’s, and any man who ever utters the term “honkey tonkey” in his entire existence should be banished from ever feeling the touch of another woman till the end of eternity, or certainly from mentioning the immaculate George Jones or his riding lawnmover in their stupid songs. And Niemann shows just how “country” his designer drug, upper crust dance beats are when he reveals that he thinks the term “donkey” and “mule” are interchangeable.
“Donkey” is an uprovocated ass raping of the ears, and if any Niemannites come here preaching to me the virtues of this song because “country music must evolve,” I will personally take a pair of donkey balls and use them to tea bag each and every one of their bedroom pillows when they’re not looking. “Donkey” isn’t just bad, it defines the catastrophic trainwrecking of the entire human evolutionary timeline. 800,000 years of homo sapien progress brought to a screeching halt because one pudgy douchebag wants an arena-sized “country” career before his pubes turn gray. “Donkey” is a harbinger for a dark age for arts, entertainment, and intelligence that humankind is on the precipice of plummeting headlong into.
The worst song ever? I’m tired to doling out this distinction only to have to offer a revision every six weeks when some other pop country asshole finds a new gradient for rock bottom, but Jerrod Niemann’s EDM-encrusted, braying ass certainly deserves to be in the discussion for that most disgraceful of honors.
Two guns way down!
It was a year ago today that country music legend George Jones passed away due to Hypoxic Respiratory Failure at the age of 81. On Saturday, friends, fans, and family, including George’s widow Nancy, country star Larry Gatlin, and others gathered at the Woodlawn Cemetery on Thompson Lane in the Berry Hill portion of southern Nashville to honor George and to plant two Dogwood trees in his memory. The event was open to the public, and fans began to congregate early in the morning to witness the ceremony that transpired at 1:00 PM.
The two dogwoods were planted on either side of the “He Stopped Loving Her Today” monument that was unveiled at the Woodlawn Cemetery on November 18th, 2013. Members of George’s family did the honor of placing the trees and helping to fill the holes of the two Dogwoods. âThis day is going to be bittersweet,â says Nancy Jones. âI know how much people loved George, and the love has continued even a year later. I am so fortunate for the friends and fans that George and I made through the years. I want everyone to come celebrate with us, not because he is no longer with us, but to keep his legacy alive.â
Nancy Jones, Larry Gatlin, and others spoke at the event, circled by gatherers who are still mourning the passing of one of the greatest country music artists of all time. A framed letter from the State of Tennessee Senate was also unveiled, and the ceremony culminated in the assembled crowd singing “Amazing Grace.”
Produced by T Bone Burnett, the new Secret Sisters album called Put Your Needle Down—the sister duo’s first record in nearly four years—was produced by T Bone Burnett. T Bone Burnett produced this sophomore effort, and lending his efforts in a production role was T Bone Burnett. T Bone Burnett, T Bone Burnett, T Bone Burnett.
Did I mention that T Bone Burnett produced this album? Okay good. Because apparently that’s a more important point than who this album is by and what it’s titled, and T Bone’s name must precede this information in any copy or conversation.
It’s not that T Bone Burnett isn’t an accomplished and successful producer. I mean hell, you can’t stick your nose anywhere in the Americana realm without finding apostles of T Bone telling you how brilliant he is. The problem though is the hype around his work has become so pervasive, I’m afraid he’s begun to believe it himself, and uses it as justification to employ an extremely heavy hand in his producer capacity, relegating the artists he works with as secondary, if not arbitrary to furthering the weight behind his own name. Or at least, that’s the way it sounds.
No doubt T Bone Burnett is a towering man of music. There’s no denying his record. But that doesn’t give him the right, or make it right to overhaul, supplant, or bury the God-given sound, style, and talent the artists he works for are born with. People can come to T-Bone’s defense and say that this is the fate these artists chose when they signed up to work with him, but it still doesn’t erase the fact that the role of a producer is supposed to be one of a subordinate. Yes, the producer should guide and mentor, but the best producers in the business do not reshape artists into their own appointed image, they coax the best attributes already alive in artists out into the open to be captured in the recorded context. Inexplicably, with The Secret Sisters and Put Your Needle Down, T Bone Burnett does both.
This album shouldn’t be characterized as The Secret Sisters with T Bone Burnett. It should be couched as The Secret Sisters versus T Bone Burnett. Such an over-produced wall of serrated sounds punishes the ear throughout this album, it’s like trying to view the Eiffel Tower through a plague of locusts: You know there’s something very pretty and breathtaking there, but you have to fight with flailing arms to see, and you’re rarely allowed to relax and bask in its beauty.
T Bone Burnett’s production doesn’t seem to have any sense or respect for the time and place The Secret Sisters’ music naturally evokes; their music seems only the canvas for T Bone to do his worst. After the very first song, I was already tired of the ever-present tambourine on this album, which permeates this record deeper than a sheepdog’s flea dip. The tambourine rattles inside your skull like a ricocheting bullet; steadfast and unrelenting. I couldn’t get the iconic image of Will Ferrell banging on a cowbell from that famous Saturday Night Live skit out of my head, but replaced by a round, jingle-filled adult-sized death rattle. Mucky, incongruent moans of excessively chorus-inflected guitar tones burden this work like the apparitions that keep you in slow motion as you’re being pursued in a nightmare by an apex predator.
Am I being a teeny bit harsh here maybe? Is some deep-seated, unnecessary hatred for all things T Bone shining through and compromising my integrity? Perhaps, but I’ll tell you, despite the monstrosity T Bone constructed though his work on this album, I love Put Your Needle Down. I think this album is great—one captivating song after another. Why? Because no different than how the primitive artists of country had to fight through poor production situations when they were making the very first country albums, or in the 60′s when Music Row producers couldn’t resist adding strings and choruses to every damn song, or in the 80′s when everyone decided the best thing to do was get into the keyboard business and over-modulate the hell out of the drum signals, good songs, and good artists will always shine through. And that’s what The Secret Sisters are, and that’s what The Secret Sisters did on Put Your Needle Down.
And if we’re going to smear T Bone with such colorful language, we also have to give him credit. Whether it was by accident, on purpose, or despite his best efforts, on Put Your Needle Down, the sheer, untouched genius of The Secret Sisters was unearthed in all of its dazzling beauty, and captured so splendidly despite the production woes, that you could fall under it’s spell even if you had to listen through an A-bomb blast.
Sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers were born and raised in one of the holy lands of American music: Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Fertilized with music from George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Doc Watson, and singing in a church that had no instruments, their Southern harmonies were born with such a purity that can only be found in sister siblings. When The Secret Sisters harmonize, it is the sound a pining heart makes, or the sound emitted when a crack cleaves the soul. Or it’s the salve that mends the heart and soul, depending on the theme of the story their soaring voices carry.
Their first, self-titled album from 2010 was a selection of classic country-style songs and was produced by Dave Cobb–famous for working recently with both Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson on their critically-acclaimed albums—with T Bone Burnett breathing down Cobb’s neck as an “executive producer.” The Secret Sisters debut captured them in their most native environment, and in a sincere, country offering. No, my defacing of T Bone’s effort has nothing to do with him taking this album in a non-country direction; it’s that he didn’t respect the natural sound of The Secret Sisters. He could have added some rock or progressive sounds here and there, but the production effort of Put Your Needle Down was a complete whitewashing. And get this: I’m so dug in on this stance, I don’t even care if The Secret Sisters disagree.
But damn if I don’t love virtually everything The Secret Sisters themselves do on this album. Put Your Needle Down differs, and his enhanced from their first album by featuring mostly original songs. The pain and desperation captured in their performances on tracks like “Iuka” and “The Pocket Knife” evoke the plight inherent in the female condition when it’s torn and tested by the villainous priorities of men. The heights reached in the chorus of the 50′s-ish do woppy “Black And Blue” with the sisters harmonies dancing and twirling in such synchronicity, like smoke-trailed acrobats rising eloquently and unresponsive to gravity until it is impossible to discern them apart in formation, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
One respite from T Bone the Terrible’s reign is on the subdued and simple “Lonely Island”, which if recorded 50 years ago, would be a standard of the country music song book today. It is simply a masterpiece.
And as jarring and inappropriate as the production of this album is, you even get to a point where you’re okay with it, if for no other reasons than refusing to let it ruin what was going on here beneath the layers and layers of over-production, and the fogginess that besets this album—sometimes a symptom of when a project’s mixes have been reworked too many times, especially when they are recorded on 2-inch tape to capture the “warmth” that Audiophiles love to preach about. And yes, I understand what T Bone was trying to do here: he was trying to take something classic and pure, and make it hip and progressive to appeal to a wider audience. On paper, there’s nothing wrong with that. But from a production standpoint, it didn’t work. T Bone was not the right one to try this feat with this particular project.
And why did it take nearly 1 1/2 years for this album to get to our ears? It was recorded in December of 2012, and January of 2013. I think there’s a story there in itself, if only to answer why two young women with the wind behind their backs from their first album had to wait so long for a second release.
But I’ll be damned, I really, really enjoy this album overall. Simply put, The Secret Sisters are the best female duo out there right now, and Put Your Needle Down comes highly recommended….with the obvious production caveat.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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Jackson Taylor & The Sinners are the best hard-driving country band you’ve never heard of. How do I know you’ve never heard of them? Because nobody has, except for the people that have, and as those people can attest, nobody has heard of them. Hell even when despite all their unknown-ness, they were somehow nominated for one of those Dale Watson Ameripolitan Awards a while back, at the awards banquet in February the presenter called them “JASON Taylor and the Sinners” when reading off the names of nominees. For the people in attendance who knew about the band, it seemed every bit appropriate. Why? Because nobody knows about them. Here they were amongst friends, and they were still unknown. “And the winner is…” the presenter then continued, and someone yelled out from the crowd, “Jason Taylor!” Unfortunately for them neither Jackson Taylor nor Jason Taylor won. But dammit, everyone in attendance that night will remember Jason Taylor from here on out, while Jackson Taylor remains sandwiched in some sort of weird no man’s land between Red Dirt,Â underground country, and Southern rock & roll.
It ain’t from a lack of sweat equity that Jackson Taylor & The Sinners aren’t any better known. They’ve paid their dues and then some. Maybe it’s because the uptight crowd that would usually get into their hard country sound don’t like the cussing, and the underground cusses don’t care to pay attention to anything outside of their Facebook feeds. But the jokes on them, because Jackson Taylor & The Sinners is one hell of a good time. Just ask the people who know about them.
Don’t take it that Jackson Taylor & The Sinners are like the sisters of the poor. They’ve had their days in the sun, and it certainly must be a proud achievement for them to be featured a part of the prestigious, critically-acclaimed, world-renown, and long-running album series called Live At Billy Bob’s Texas right beside names like Willie Nelson, David Allan Coe, Billy Joe Shaver, and on and on from there. Created by Rick Smith some years back and recorded at the “World’s Largest Honky Tonk” in Ft. Worth, it’s a high honor to be asked on the series even if you get up there on stage and lay an egg.
Luckily we don’t have to worry about that outcome with Jackson Taylor. They come out swinging like Joe Frasier with some of their most lethal haymakers right out of the gate like “Jack’s Drunk Again” and “Old Henry Rifle”. And when they’ve pinned you to the ropes only four songs in, they shift gears into some of their more subdued, songwriting material like “The Mirror” and “Sunset”.
Something cool to note about this set captured live in both excellent audio and full concert DVD is that it all transpired on July 27th, 2013, only a few months after the passing of the Ol’ Possum, Mr. George Jones. So despite this being very much a signature set of Sinner’s music, No Show is there in spirit and is given a healthy tip of the hat when they cover “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (capped off with some of Jackson’s alternative lyrics), as well as their song “No Show” early in the set.
Jackson Taylor is one of these guys you can’t take too seriously or you lose touch with the total enjoyment you can get from him, while at the same time he can be deceptively deep when you read between the lines, or when he performs a song like “Faulkner By Dashboard Lights”—a true and personal track from Jackson and one of the standouts from the set.
Can you really still be unknown and have your own Live At Billy Bob’s release? That wouldn’t seem right, and this 16-song disc/DVD combo that includes an interview with Jackson is probably the perfect introduction to a band for someone who isn’t scared off by the warning that Jackson isn’t shy about cussing a little and getting a little strange, or mixing some over-driven rock guitar into his country. But Jackson Taylor & The Sinners is still country no doubt with the Johnny Cash train beat behind most everything they do, and they do great justice to the weight behind the Live At Billy Bob’s stamp that marks this album’s cover.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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Country music isn’t just a genre of music, it is a musical religion, a way of life, a cultural lineage passed down from generation to generation and preserved through the blood and bond of its performers and fans. That’s why it seems country music performers so very often tend to turn out to be the parents of country music performers themselves.
Let’s take a look at some of country music’s greatest sons and daughters.
Justin Townes Earle
Son of alt-country pioneer Steve Earle, and middle namesake of the man who was good friends with his father and considered one of the greatest songwriters ever, Justin Townes Earle has spent the last seven or so years trying to live up to the lofty expectations of both names, and has done so valiantly. Releasing a startling debut EP in 2007 called Yuma, Earle and his obsession with the craft of songwriting have led to critical success for the five albums he’s released through Bloodshot Records. Considered by many as one of the biggest names in the new generation of alt-country/Americana performers, Justin has done it not by being a chip off the old block, but by forging his own path.
Justin’s relationship with his father has been rocky over the years. Steve Earle left Justin and his mother when Justin was just 2-year-old, and the younger Earle had a tumultuous, troubled, and at times, drug-fueled childhood. But he has soldiered on to carry a name all his own.
The son of Willie Nelson’s long-time guitarist Jody Payne and Grammy Award-winning country music singer Sammi Smith, Waylon is named after his Godfather, Waylon Jennings. Raised by his aunt and uncle due to his parents’ heavy touring schedules, Payne attended seminary after high school and was on track to become a minister before catching the music bug. For a while Payne was part of the popular Eastbound and Down country night at the King King Club in Hollywood where performers would swap classic country songs. Payne later released the album The Drifter in 2004 through Republic Universal.
Music isn’t Waylon Payne’s only creative calling though. He may be known more as an actor than a musician. In the award-winning Johnny Cash film I Walk The Line, Payne played Jerry Lee Lewis. He also played country great Hank Garland in a small film called Crazy, along with making numerous television appearances, including on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Hank Williams III (or Hank3)Â
The grandson of Hank Williams and the son of Hank Jr., if there was ever a spitting image of country music’s first superstar, it would be him. He not only carries the visage and build of Hank Sr., but also the voice and writing style when he wants to go in that direction. The youngest Hank though has a hankering to delve into the wild side of music as well, and has released multiple punk albums during his career that has now stretched into two decades.
Hank3 started out playing drums and guitar in underground punk bands, with no real drive to be a part of the country music machine. But when a paternity suit put him in court, he decided to sign with Curb Records, and entered into a tumultuous period with the label that at the least resulted in multiple landmark records, including the neo-traditional country stalwart Lovesick, Broke, & Driftin’, and his double album opus Straight to Hell. Hank3 is now an independent artist, and carries on the family tradition of doing the music he wants and defying expectation.
The granddaughter of Hank Williams, daughter of Hank Jr., and half sister of Hank Williams III has had a somewhat strange musical journey, but one that has seen her bloom recently to become one of the leading females in country/Americana, keeping the music true to its roots while moving it forward.
Holly’s early career saw her sign to major labels like Universal South and Mercury Nashville, trying to break into the big time, but always seemingly with one foot in, and one foot out of that mainstream approach to music. She was also seriously injured in a near fatal crash in 2006 along with her sister Hilary who also is a performer. Then in February of 2013, Holly released The Highway independently, and since then has become a critical darling and a live performer not to miss. Though there were some that at times wondered if Holly was just a famous name, she’s proven recently that she’s so much more.
The son of Merle Haggard and an official member of Merle’s legendary backing band The Strangers, Ben is a chip off the old block when it comes to slinging Telecasters and perfecting the West Coast, twangy Bakersfield tradition of loud and electric country music. Patterned in the mold of the pioneer of the craft, the under-appreciated Roy Nichols, Ben can be seen plying his craft and staring at the back of his father on any given night out on the road. This isn’t just your usual slot filled by a family member on stage. Ben’s skills are regarded by his musician peers as being standalone from any famous name.
The only child of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Coulter, Shooter started his musical journey in the rock band Stargunn before signing with Universal South in 2005 and releasing his first country record, Put The ‘O’ Back In Country. He subsequently released two more country records infused with some Southern rock & roll before putting out his rock opus, the experimental album Black Ribbons. Shooter re-established his country roots with the 2012 album Family Man, followed up by 2013′s The Other Life.
Like many of country music’s famous sons and daughters, Shooter Jennings marches to his own drum, but always seems to come back to the country music fold.
Jubal Lee Young
Son of legendary Outlaw country songwriter and performer Steve Young (Lonesome, Onry & Mean, Seven Bridges Road), and songwriter Terrye Newkirk, Jubal Lee Young from Muskogee, Oklahoma put out an album in 2011 called Take It Home that included the song “There Ain’t No Outlaws Any More” that loudly proclaims, “Here comes another badass sellinâ Nashville rock and roll, long hair, denim and tattoos, lookinâ onâry and mean. Singinâ songs about that lonesome road, some of âem might even be true. But there ainât no outlaws anymoreâŚ”
Hank Williams Jr.
The most obvious and most successful of country music’s greatest sons, Hank Williams Jr. is very likely a future country music Hall of Famer, and has won multiple CMA Entertainer of the Year Awards and sold millions of albums. He started out his career as a virtual impersonator of his famous father, but rebelled against this preordained future to become so much more. Hank Jr. took a precipitous fall off of Ajax Mountain in Montana in 1975, landing on his face, and having to go through multiple surgeries before he could return to performing. And when he did, he quickly became known as “Rockin’” Randall Hank as he emerged with a sound that was just as much Southern rock as country.
In the mid 80′s, Hank Williams Jr. was one of country’s biggest stars, and now sits as a legend in the genre. He also is responsible for two other famous country offspring: Hank Williams III and Holly Williams, and a 2nd daughter Hilary Williams has also been a performer.
The only daughter of the country music super pairing of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Georgette was said to have a recording contract on the day she was born. She recorded her first song at the ripe age of ten with her dad called “Daddy Come Home.” From there Georgette began singing backup for her mom, and she has gone on to become an accomplished songwriter and solo performer herself. Georgette has released numerous albums, including three for Heart of Texas Records. Her latest album Til I Can Make It On My Own is a tribute to her mother.
Georgette also appeared in the TV Series Sordid Lives and recorded numerous songs for the soundtrack, including Tammy Wynette tunes. She also recently released a memoir called The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George, Georgette Jones.
Daughter of David Allan Coe, Shelli was born in Nashville and raised in Austin, and appeared at the tender age of 3-years-old on her father’s Family Album project. She later worked as a backup singer for her father before landing in Branson, MO for a while where she performed in clubs, collaborated with other songwriters and appeared on the album Branson Songwriters Out in the Streets. Shelli subsequently returned to Austin where she is known to perform off and on. Her first full-length CD A Girl Like Me was released in 2010, and is worth a listen for folks that like traditional country music.
Surrounded by a bevy of musical siblings and one awfully famous father, the argument can be made that Lukas was the Willie offspring that received the most potent douse of Willie’s musical genes, and has a powerful voice to match his father’s. A dynamic, top-flight performer with a sound that trends much closer to rock than country, but still has an earthy, rootsy feel nonetheless, Lukas is on a fast track to becoming a superstar all his own.
From his towering leg kicks, to playing the guitar with his teeth, at only 23-years-old, Lukas could already be crowned as a guitar god. Leading his band The Promise of the Real, they’ve made waves in the music world on big tours. About the only thing holding the young star back is that rock music is in a weird spot right now, and guitar blazers are not what the masses are particularly looking for. But like his father, Lukas is not worried about anything but following his heart, and he promises to have a very bright future ahead of him with a tower of talent to draw from.
Son of Outlaw country legend Billy Joe Shaver, Eddie Shaver was one of the best country music guitar shredders to ever take the stage. Aside from being his fatherâs right hand man for many years, Eddie Shaver studied under Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers, played with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, The Eagles, and was Dwight Yoakamâs guitar player for the first two years of Dwight’s career.
Itâs only because of Eddieâs untimely death that heâs not better known. He was scheduled to release his first solo album in 2001 when he died of a heroin overdose on New Years Eve of 2000. Though Billy Joe Shaver is known most for his songwriting, and Eddie as a guitar slinger, it only takes a glimpse at either to see that the musical talent runs very deep with the Shaver clan.
Though one might first think of June Carter as more of a mother of famous country artists instead of a daughter of them, June Carter is arguably the first daughter of country music. Her mother is “Mother” Maybelle Carter, given her nickname for being the mother of her performing daughters, and arguably the mother of country music. June began performing at the age of ten in 1939 as part of the landmark country outfit The Carter Family. It was through their mutual love of country music that she would eventually meet and fall in love with Johnny Cash, and the two went on to be one of country music’s powerhouse couples. June Carter was a muti-instrumentalist with a classic voice, and defines the nexus between country music’s primitive, classic, and modern eras.
It can be easy to overlook just what kind of impact Rosanne Cash has had on American music over the years. She seems to always be overshadowed by her father, by other famous sons and daughters of country legends, measured against them, and dogged by preceding labels that donât always allow her to be judged on her own merit, while her musical accomplishments veer towards being somewhat misunderstood because sheâs not always been nestled smack dab in the country realm as people want, expect, or anticipate.
But Rosanneâs critical and commercial accomplishments are far more than complimentary, they define a very successful career: Eleven #1 country singles, twenty-one Top 40 singles, and thirteen Grammy nominations is nothing to sniff at, and ultimately might at least get her mentions as a potential Hall of Fame inductee.
The only offspring between the country music super marriage of Johnny Cash and June Carter, John Carter Cash has spent his time as a singer and performer, but many of his important contributions to country music have come behind-the-scenes as a producer, songwriter, author, and general champion of the Cash estate and all things country music. It’s remarkable how many places you see John Carter’s name attached to projects as his puts effort out to make music happen in whatever capacity he can help in. Like his father, he has that selfless streak of service that surfaces in some of the most generous and cool ways.
Bobby Bare Jr.
Born in Nashville, TN to the original Outlaw Bobby Bare, Bobby Bare Jr. grew up next door to Tammy Wynette and George Jones in Hendersonville, and was nominated for a Grammy next to his father for the Shel Silverstein-written song “Daddy What If” from his father’s tribute album to Silverstein. Fronting roots rock bands like “Bare Jr.” and “Young Criminals Starvation League”, Bare’s career has been the result of avoiding “working a real job at any cost,” despite earning a psychology degree from the University of Tenessee, and not really getting deep into his own music until later in life. His high energy on stage and dark sarcasm in his songs have won him fans worldwide.
Other Famous Sons & Daughters:
Pam Tillis – 1994 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, and daughter of country great Mel Tillis
The Carter Family Daughters – Carlene Carter, Helen Carter, Anita Carter, Rosie Nix Adams.
Jett Williams – Daughter of Hank Williams that found out about her famous father later in life. Jett has been a performer and plays an important role as one of the executors of the Hank Williams estate.
Jesse Keith Whitley – Son of Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley
Marty Haggard, Noel Haggard, and Scott Haggard- More performing sons of Merle.
Dean Miller – Son of Roger Miller
Lilly Hiatt – Daughter of John Hiatt
Chelsea Crowell – Daughter of Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell
Paula Nelson – Leader of The Paul Nelson Band.
Tyler Mahan Coe – Guitar player and writer who spent years touring in his father’s band.
Folk Uke – Made up Willie Nelson’s daughter Amy, and Arlo Guthrie’s daughter Cathy.
Whey Jennings – The son of Terry Jennings, and grandson of Waylon Jennings.
Lucas Hubbard – Son of Ray Wylie Hubbard who often plays lead guitar with his father.
Lucky Tubb – Not technically a son or daughter, but a great nephew of Ernest.
Bluegrass – There are many performing sons and daughters of famous bluegrass musicians, but for fear of forgetting some and getting yelled at for it, this sentence is in dedication to them all. You rock! Or pick, or strum, or pluck! Go YOU!
George Jones. The Possum. Possibly the man whose life and story embody the themes of a country song better than anyone. From rags to riches, back to rags, and eventually onto rehabilitation and redemption, George Jones was a man that faced demons more fierce than any of us can imagine, and eventually came out on top. Was he a badass? You bet, and here’s 10 reasons why.
- 10 Badass Willie Nelson Moments
- 10 Badass Waylon Jennings Moments
- 10 Badass Johnny Cash Moments
- 10 Badass Hank3 Moments
- 10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments
- 10 Badass Marty Stuart Moments
1. Flipping the Dinner Table at Tammy Wynette’s House
Before George and Tammy were married, George went over to Tammy’s house one night to have dinner with her and her then husband, songwriter Don Chapel. George knew Tammy through their mutual booking agent. While fixing dinner, Tammy and Don Chapel got in a heated argument, resulting on Don calling Tammy a “son of a bitch” in front of George. George, secretly hiding his admiration with Tammy, lost it.
“I felt rage fly all over me,” Jones said in his autobiography. “I jumped from my chair, put my hands under the dinner table, and flipped it over. Dishes, utensils, and glasses flew in all directions. Don’s and Tammy’s eyes got about as big as the flying dinner plates.”
George professed his love for Tammy right then and there, and the country music couple were soon married.
2. Helping To Found ACE — The Association of Country Entertainers
George Jones was never considered an Outlaw, but he participated in one of the most significant precursors to country music’s Outlaw revolution in the mid 70′s. Some know the story of Charlie Rich burning the envelope announcing John Denver as Entertainer of the Year at the CMA’s in 1975, but it was the year prior when the stink had begun about performers outside of the country genre walking away with the industry’s accolades. Olivia Newton-John’s win in 1974 for Female Vocalist of the Year caused such a stir that traditional and even pop-leaning country performers at the time organized behind the acronym “ACE” that stood for “Association of Country Entertainers”.
Spearheading ACE was George Jones and then wife Tammy Wynette, and the inaugural meeting of ACE was held at their Tennessee residence. Other participants in ACE included Dolly Parton, Bill Anderson, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Conway Twitty, Hank Snow, Mel Tillis, Barbara Mandrell and more than a dozen others. ACE demanded more representation of traditional artists on the CMA’s Board of Directors, and more balance on country radio playlists (does any of this sound familiar?).
Just how successful ACE was can be argued, but it was the precursor to future organizations looking to restore balance and better representation from the CMA, and helped usher in country music’s Outlaw movement and the return to a more traditional sound that the mid 70′s saw in country.
3. Riding a Lawnmower to the Liquor Store
The first and most well-documented lawnmower incident was the late 60â˛s. George Jones was living 8 miles outside of Beaumont, TX with his then wife Shirley Ann Corley. Jones had experienced a few #1 hits by that time, and his success fueled his wayward ways with alcohol. He was drinking so bad, his wife Shirley resorted to hiding all the keys to the vehicles before she would leave the house so George wouldnât drive to the nearest liquor store in Beaumont.
But that didnât stop him. After tearing the house apart looking for a set of keys one time, George looked out the window to see a riding lawnmower sitting on the property under the glow of a security light. âThere, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat. A key glistening in the ignition,â George recalled in his autobiography. âI imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.â
The second, lesser-known incident of George Jones’s escapades on a riding lawnmower happened when he was married to Tammy Wynette. Taking a cue from Georgeâs previous wife Shirley, Tammy hid all the keys from George, but George had been down that road before. Wynette woke up one night at 1 AM to find George missing. âI got into the car and drove to the nearest bar 10 miles away,â Tammy recounted in 1979. âWhen I pulled into the parking lot there sat our rider-mower right by the entrance. Heâd driven that mower right down a main highway. He looked up and saw me and said, `Well, fellas, here she is now. My little wife, I told you sheâd come after me.â”
The George Jones lawnmower incidents later went on to be memorialized in many country videos, including Hank Williams Jr.âs âAll My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” Vince Gillâs 1993 hit âOne More Last ChanceâÂ that includes the line, âShe might have took my car keys, but she forgot about my old John Deere,” and John Richâs âCountry Done Come to Town,” and George’s own “Honky Tonk Song.”
4. Recording “He Stopped Loving Her Today”
Yes, it could be easy to highlight George’s signature song and say it was awesome for him to cut it, but the story behind “He Stopped Loving Her Today” goes much deeper. The song not only saved George’s career, it potentially saved his life, and all of this is from a song that at first he didn’t want to record because he thought it was too depressing, too long, and nobody would play it. It eventually became his first #1 in six years, salvaged his career, introduced him to a new generation of fans, and solidified his place as one of country music’s biggest ever superstars. Jones himself says about it, “A four-decade career had been salvaged by a three-minute song.”
Written by Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Braddock (who you can argue would not be a Hall of Famer if it weren’t for the song), along with Curly Putnam, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” went on to spend 18 weeks at #1, won the Grammy for Best Male Country Performance in 1980, both the ACM for Single and Song of the Year, and was the Song of the Year from the CMA’s for 1980 and 1981. After George’s death, the song re-entered the charts at #21. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” deserves to be in that elite class of songs that can be argued are the greatest country music songs of all time.
5. Being The Best Male Duet Partner in the History of Country Music
When you have the best voice in country music, your services as a duet partner are going to be called on early and often. And despite George’s body of solo work being worthy of a Hall of Fame career, his work as a duet partner is unparallelled itself. Country music stars young and old, male and female lined up to take advantage of his voice over many decades, and duets accounted for five of the fourteen #1 hits George had over his storied career. Here’s a rundown of just some of the people George performed duets with over the years:
â˘Tammy Wynette â˘Loretta Lynn â˘Buck Owens â˘Waylon Jennings â˘Willie Nelson â˘Johnny Cash â˘Dolly Parton â˘David Allan Coe â˘Jerry Lee Lewis â˘Hank Williams Jr. â˘Patty Loveless â˘Lynn Anderson â˘Emmylou Harris â˘Ricky Skaggs â˘Garth Brooks â˘Tracy Lawrence â˘Charlie Daniels â˘Marty Stuart â˘Merle Haggard â˘Ralph Stanley â˘Randy Travis â˘Vince Gill â˘Alan Jackson â˘Sammy Kershaw â˘Shelby Lynn â˘Mark Chesnutt â˘Travis Tritt â˘Barbara Mandrell â˘Brenda Lee â˘Shooter Jennings â˘The Staple Singers â˘Keith Richards â˘B.B. King
6. Walking out of the CMA Awards
Ahead of the 1999 CMA Awards, George Jones was enjoying yet another resurgence in his career. Jones was slated to perform the song “Choices” on the CMA’s, but when producers insisted he must sing an abbreviated version, he walked out of the ceremonies and boycotted the show.
In a super act of class and solidarity, Alan Jackson halfway through his performance of “Pop A Top,” stopped down and shifted gears to perform “Choices” in protest. The event has gone on to be considered one of the biggest moments of country protest in the history of the genre.
7. Recording “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”
Throughout his career, George Jones held fast to the ideals of traditional country music, and wasn’t afraid to fight for them, or speak out about what was happening in the genre. And as one of the few artists who registered hits in multiple decades (according to Billboard, Jones had more “hits” than any other country artist), when George Jones spoke, people listened.
George’s song “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” comes from the 1985 album of the same name, and was written by Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes. It’s a poignant tribute to the history of country music and its previous greats, while calling attention to the abandonment of country’s roots. The song was so potent, the phrase “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” has become one of the most popular go-to colloquialisms concerning the state of country. The song was also a hit, rising to #3 on the Billboard country chart in 1985.
8. Overcoming His Personal Demons
Some people assume that becoming a rich celebrity solves many of your problems, when for many artists it exposes and fuels their problems. Such was the case for George Jones, who had major issues with alcohol, and later in his career, drugs. At one point in 1979, despite being one of the best-selling artists in the history of country music, he was bankrupt and destitute, living in his car, weighing around 100 pounds and living off of junk food. George spent time in mental institutions tied to his drinking multiple times and had to be straighjacketed on numerous occasions. He became known as “No Show Jones” because he missed so many engagements over his career.
But in many ways George Jone’s bad behavior only helped his reputation. His fans didn’t turn on him, they loved him more because they could relate to him and their own personal struggles, and because he was such a great artist and performer when he would show. Alan Jackson once said about Jones, “…what I like most about George is that when you meet him, he is like some ole guy that works down at the gas station…even though he’s a legend!”
Waylon Jennings and others first helped get George Jones sober in the early 80′s, and the result was a resurgence in his career. However later in life George Jones would fall back into his old habits. George gave up drinking and drugs for good in 1999 after wrecking his car and spending two weeks in the hospital. After the crash he pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges. Jones told Billboard later, “…when I had that wreck I made up my mind, it put the fear of God in me. No more smoking, no more drinking. I didn’t have to have no help, I made up my mind to quit. I don’t crave it.”
9. Wanting to Die Performing
Some artists perform because they want to, others perform because they have to. In March of 2012, George Jones was hospitalized with an upper respiratory infection. The 80-year-old performer was having trouble breathing, and it was thought that he didn’t have much more time before his lungs would fail him. Instead of heading home to recuperate and potentially prolong his life, George set to planning a 60-date farewell tour, culminating in a star-studded event set to transpire at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in November of 2013 with over 50 special performers.
According to George’s wife, before he even left on the tour, he knew he would not make it to the finale. Doctors said he was in no condition to perform or tour, but he did anyway. On April 18th, 2013 George Jones was hospitalized in Nashville, missing tour dates in Alabama and Salem. He eventually passed away on April 26th, 2013 at the age of 81.
10. Having The Greatest Male Voice in the History of Country Music
- “When people ask me who my favorite country singer is, I say, ‘You mean besides George Jones?’” — Johnny Cash
- âThe greatest voice to ever sing country music.â â Garth Brooks
- âThe second best singer in Americaâ â Frank Sinatra
- âIf we all could sound like we wanted to, weâd all sound like George Jones,â â Waylon Jennings
- âAnyone who knows or cares anything about real country music will agree that George Jones is the voice of it.â â Dolly Parton
Okay, Red Sovine only pondered killing Waylon and Willie in hyperbole and sarcasm. In fact by all accounts this succulent little lost country classic was written and recorded as a tribute to the success of the two Outlaw country music greats. And as one of the very last recordings trucker song overlord Red Sovine ever made, and one that was released in a much more straight-laced time in country music when its genius may have been lost on most, it only seems fair to resurrect it now and shine a spotlight on it for our listening enjoyment.
The song is called “The Waylon & Willie Machine,” and its wise-ass take on the two Texan’s success speaks to just how big Waylon & Willie were back in the mid to late 70′s. The song was originally written and recorded by country and rockabilly artist Marvin Rainwater with co-writer Max D. Barnes (George Jones’ “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” and Waylon’s “Drinkin’ and Dreamin’” just to name a few). Marvin Rainwater recorded the song with Jesse Fletcher on the very small “Okie” imprint at some point in the late 70′s (listen below), but very few 7″ copies were made.
Then Red Sovine got a hold of it in 1979 and released it on a 45 himself through Gusto Records, with Colorado Cool Aid on the flip side. Sovine’s would become the definitive version … if there was one. The song never made it on an album (Sovine passed away on April 4th, 1980 of a heart attack), and it was never released properly as a single, probably because it would be misunderstood by DJ’s and listeners alike. But listening to it now some 35 years later, the entertainment value hasn’t waned, but grown better with age.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, you’re seeing this right. Do not rub your eyes or adjust your monitors. In a wild upset, coming out of left field, and counter to just about every other music outlet’s top rated albums, Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year for 2013 is none other than the masterpiece from The Mavericks, the infectious celebration of the joys of life and music known as In Time.
Go ahead, leave your comments below about how this album is not country.
The Mavericks’ In Time cuts against the grain, and is counterintuitive to all of the well-noted and often-ballyhooed music trends of 2013. 2013 was coined as the “Year of the Woman” in country music by many, and the “Year of the Songwriter” by Saving Country Music and others. In Time doesn’t appreciably reside in either of those distinctions, though I would argue that it’s a much more deft songwriting presentation than it may seem on the surface. And no, it’s not especially country in the traditional sense.
But you reach a point in music where it is so good that no data points, no trends, no narrow-minded ties to genre matter. Music isn’t meant to be over thought as we so often do as active music fans, it is meant to be felt. And the best music simply grips you and allows you to lose yourself in it. In Time reminded this jaded music critic who must toil through reams of albums every day to find something even worthy of writing a few paragraphs about of what it meant to be a music lover all over again.
A masterpiece? I believe so. Singer Raul Malo is the the George Jones and Frank Sinatra of our time all rolled up into one, it’s just our time is gripped by the narrow, short attention span that doesn’t paying proper attention to talent like Raul’s towering vocal gifts that are unparalleled in virtually every corner of music this side of operatic maestros, or the tastefulness of guitar player and harmony singer Eddie Perez, or all of the admirable contributions of The Mavericks’ core and subsidiary players.
The country influences are certainly here, and anyone who asserts otherwise simply isn’t listening through the music to its inner soul. But without question, there are heavy Latin, cajun, surf, rock, and jazz influences here too. In Time is not simply the best album in country music in 2013, it is arguably one of the best, if not the best album in all of American music, and for it not to win the day in it’s home genre of country music would be a silly oversight, and tough to justify as In Time only becomes fortified by the test of time, divested from trend or taste as it is, and embedded with such universal appeal.
In Time by The Mavericks is the one; the only album that left no room for improvement, was both slick and tight, yet alive and breathing from the live aspect of the recording. It looked both forward, and behind. It led, but also paid tribute. It was a gift of music that gave more than any other in 2013, that also promises to continue to give for years to come.
Fans of this album will be the first to cry foul, but I will say what many long-time fans that knewÂ Sturgill before this album will all admit: Sturgill has even more in him than High Top Mountain captures. I say this in an appreciative way as someone who has known Sturgill’s music longer than most. Sturgill has a whole career of albums ahead of him, and may win half a dozen Albums of the Year from Saving Country Music and others before it’s all done. But if an artist could have even done more than a particular album displays, however excellent that album may be, it must be considered when making a choice for Album of the Year. Nonetheless, consider High Top Mountain a very close runner up.
Jason Isbell’s Southeastern should also be considered a very close runner up to In Time. It is an astounding collection of songs, but in the end didn’t carry the weight as a complete album concept the way In Time did in my opinion.
Also interesting to note, I did tally all of the clear and obvious votes from readers for all of the Album of the Year nominees. The Mavericks and In Time beat out Southeastern 20 votes to 19. High Top Mountain got the most with 24, but Saving Country Music is also much more familiar ground for Simpson and Isbell fans. It was interesting to see just how close these three albums came to each other, and it did help influence the outcome.
And lastly I would say, before people scream about how another album should have won, my request is only do so after you have given In Time a chance.
It is sometimes easy to get swept up in moments and convince yourself that it has never been as bad as it is now. But one thing is hard to argue: the amount of loss that occurred in country music in 2013 was to a degree the genre has rarely, or never experienced before. From the death of one of the most legendary country music performers of all time in George Jones, to the unexpected passing of Willie Nelson’s guitar player Jody Payne, 2013 seemed to be a year of suffering through one unfortunate news story after another. To illustrate this, just appreciate these three facts:
- Braxton Schuffert died the same day George Jones died, April 26th.
- Chet Flippo died the same day Slim Whitman died, June 19th.
- “Cowboy” Jack Clement, Jody Payne, and Tompall Glaser all died within a week of each other in early August.
Below find a collection of the unfortunate obituaries Saving Country Music was forced to write this year, and a commentary on the passing of Mindy McCready that many give credit as being one of the best-written articles on SCM in 2013.
Mindy McCready – February 17th, 2013
The dead American celebrityâwhether occurring quickly and unexpectedly, or slowly over time in a downward spiral of self destructive behaviorâis an eternal narrative of the American popular culture, and an everlasting disgrace on our legacy. From jazz greats overdosing on heroin, to Hank Williams dying on New Yearâs Day 1953 in the back of his powder blue Cadillac, to Jimi, to Janis, to Jim, Kurt, Michael Jackson and now Mindy McCready, as long as the American culture has been united through media, weâve been willing accomplices to murder by the act of our unhealthy obsessions with humans we both unfairly canonize and unnecessarily criticize in the idolatrous pop culture cycle.
Instilled in all of us at birth is the idea that becoming a celebrity is the apex of the human experience. We feed this philosophy to our children. We perpetuate it through media. Weâve made it a vital building block of our economy. It is enshrined and institutionalized in our educational system in the form of popularity contests. It has infiltrated our religious institutions. Yet nowhere is the philosophy of wealth and celebrity being broken promises given equal time. Nowhere are the eternal narratives held up as evidence that fame doesnât resolve personal problems, it exacerbates them, and that wealth doesnât resolve the downward spiral, it fuels it. We take individuals already predisposed to addiction, depression, suicide and other self-destructive behavior, and then we expect them to deal with these issues in the public eye for our entertainment.
I would be lying if I said I was a fan of Mindy McCreadyâs music, and I would feel remiss if I recommended it. It would also be disingenuous of me if I regurgitated certain facts here in some heartlessly-compiled obit and acted like I knew the ins and outs of Mindy McCreadyâs career over time. The truth is I shielded myself from Mindy McCreadyâs celebrity, as well as the drama that plagued her later life that played out in popular media. I did so from an inherent personal belief that this voyeuristic pursuit was unhealthy for both Mindy and myself.
Did we kill Mindy McCready? No, Mindy McCready killed Mindy McCready.
We simply sat back and watched.
Braxton Schuffert – April 26, 2013
Whether you want to go as far as to say Braxton Schuffert âdiscoveredâ Hank Williams depends on your perspective, but that Hormel delivery driver was certainly seminal to setting Hank Williams on the path to super stardom, shepherding the young man as a musician and songwriter, making critical contributions to the rise of Hank, and helping Hank as a close friend all the way up to his death in 1953. âIâd like to say I helped him out, but I didnât give him that voice and I didnât teach him to write those songs. Thatâs something you get from God.â
Braxton Schuffert was a local musician in Montgomery, AL that had his own band and a standing gig at local radio station WSFA where he would play and sing, just him and his guitar every morning from 6:00 â 6:30 AM before his Hormel deliveries. Since school was out at the time, Shuffert asked young Hank if he wanted to come with him the next day on his deliveries. âI told him weâd sing all day. Thatâs all he needed to hear. He was for anything to do with music.â
One of Hank Williamsâ first songs âRockinâ Chair Daddyâ was co-written by Schuffert. As Hank began to get bigger, Braxton helped form Hankâs Drifting Cowboy band, and was a revolving member of the band and was part of Hankâs inner circle throughout the country starâs career. Braxton Schuffert was his own accomplished country music singer, and worked to help keep the legacy of Hank Williams alive, performing as lately as last yearâs 33rd annual Hank Williams Festival in Georgiana at the age of 96. Schuffert has his own display case at the Hank Williams Museum.
George Jones – April 26th, 2013
While in the midst of his 60-date farewell tour, Jones was hospitalized for running a slight fever and for having irregular blood pressure, canceling shows in both Atlanta, and Salem, VA. A family member told TMZ, ââHe has been on oxygen for a long while now and his lungs finally just couldnât do it anymore and they collapsed and he passed away. He couldnât breathe anymore on his own.â
George died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was survived by four children and his wife of 30 years, Nancy. Jones was married a total of 4 times, including to fellow country music legend Tammy Wynette from 1969 to 1975.
George Jones was born in Saratoga, TX, and went on to record more than 150 country albums and have 14 #1 country hits. Dubbed âThe Possumâ by some for his marsupial look, and âNo Show Jonesâ by others for a well-documented period of alcohol and drug abuse, George had one of the smoothest voices to ever grace country music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, had been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1956, and was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 2008.
Chet Flippo – June 19th, 2013
In the mid 70â˛s when country music was in upheaval from a new crop of rough shot artists thinking they should be able to write their own songs, record with their own bands, and keep creative control of their music, Rolling Stone Associate Editor Chet Flippo hit the streets of Nashville to help chronicle what was happening. Not nearly as off-the-wall as his more famous Rolling Stone counterpart Hunter S. Thompson, but just as willing to take an offbeat approach and embed himself amongst his journalistic subjects to get the whole story, Chet Flippo became the eyes and ears for the rest of the world enraptured by country musicâs Outlaw revolution.
Beyond writing features for Rolling Stone, Flippo lent his pen to the very music of the Outlaw movement, writing the preambles and liner notes to both Wanted: The Outlaws, the first platinum-selling album in the history of country music, and Willie Nelsonâs Red Headed Stranger, arguably country musicâs most influential album of all time.
Flippo was born in Fort Worth, TX, and was a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the U.S. Navy. He went to college at the University of Texas in Austin, and after working as Contributing Editor for Rolling Stone magazine while in graduate school, he became Rolling Stoneâs New York Bureau Chief in 1974, rising to senior editor after Rolling Stone moved its offices from San Francisco to New York in 1977.
Slim Whitman – June 19th, 2013
Yodeling became deprecated in popular country music by the late 1950â˛s, but not before Slim Whitman who passed away on June 19th mastered the craft and made the world a timeless catalog of it in the country music context. Slim may not be given as much credit of the formation and popularization of country music as Hank Williams or Jimmie Rodgers, but he sold a surprising 120 million records worldwide, primarily by appealing to Europeans just as much, if not more than the American audience.
Though Whitman never scored a domestic #1 (he did have a couple of #2â˛s), his song âRose Marieâ held the record for the longest UK #1 for 36 years, spending 11 weeks at the #1 spot. Whitman was right-handed, but was a left-handed guitarist, stringing the guitar upside down; a practice later adopted by Paul McCartney after seeing Whitman playing guitar on a poster. Whitmanâs influence far outlasted his popular music popularity, and so do his songs that illustrate an astounding, enchanting control of the human vocal range.
Oh, and letâs not forget that moment in 1996 when Slim Whitmanâs music single-handedly saved the world from invading Martians when a Kansas teenager discovered through his grandmother that Slim Whitmanâs yodel would melt the brains of the invaders, eventually leading to the military broadcasting Slim around the globe, destroying the Martians.
“Cowboy” Jack Clement – August 8th, 2013
Country Music Hall of Famer, legendary producer, songwriter, musician, and cosmic music man âCowboyâ Jack Clement died at the age of 82, the same year he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Jack Clement got his start working at Sun Studios in Memphis under Sam Phillips while playing steel guitar in college. He would later use this important position to become a seminal figure in the formation of both country and rock and roll music in the mid 50â˛s. Sam Phillips hired Jack on as an engineer, and Jack would arrange such hits as Johnny Cashâs âRing of Fire,â and write Cashâs âBallad of a Teenage Queen.â Jack discovered Jerry Lee Lewis when Sam Phillips was away on vacation one time, and many of those early Sun Studios recordings have Jack Clementâs fingerprints on them.
Clement would later go on to operate a renowned studio out of his home called the âCowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa.â His house became a symbol of country musicâs Outlaw revolution, facilitating a relaxed environment where creativity and free expression were encouraged and cultivated with country musicâs progressive artistsâa sharp contrast to the authoritarian studios of Nashvilleâs Music Row. At Clementâs home studio, Waylon Jenningsâ Dreaming My Dreams was produced and recorded, as well as albums by Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, Charley Pride, John Prine, Bobby Bare, Dolly Parton, and many more.
Jack Clement was also an inductee to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Music City Walk of Fame, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He was considered a close friend and spiritual confidant to many country music performers.
Jody Payne – August 10th, 2013
Payne was part of Willie Nelsonâs legendary âFamily Bandâ for over 3 decades until he decided to retire from the road and began teaching guitar. He was born in in Garrard County, Kentucky where he began singing at six years old. Jody first played professionally with Charlie Monroe in 1951, and then was drafted into the army in 1958. After two years of service, he settled in Detroit where he initially met Willie Nelson in 1962, but did not start playing with him until years later. Throughout the 60â˛s Payne played bass for Ray Price, and also played with Merle Haggard among others before eventually joining Willie in 1973.
Payne was married to country singer Sammi Smith. The couple eventually divorced. They had a son Waylon Payne who is also a musician, performer, and actor. He is also survived by another son Austin Payne, and his wife Vicki who he married in 1980.
Tompall Glaser – August 13th, 2013
Tompall Glaser was born Thomas Paul Glaser on September 3rd, 1933 in Spalding, Nebraska. He got his start in country music with his two brothers Chuck and Jim backing up Marty Robbins. They went on to form Tompall & The Glaser Brothers and eventually became members of the Grand Ole Opry. The family band released 10 albums and had 9 charting singles before breaking up in 1975.
But Tompall came to be better known for his work as one of country musicâs original Outlaws. As one of Nashvilleâs first renegade studio owners, he was seminal to the trend of artists winning creative control of their music in the early and mid 1970â˛s. His âHillbilly Centralâ studio became a hangout for artists like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and many others that eventually would lead countryâs Outlaw movement to country music prominence.
Tompall most prominently appeared on the compilation Wanted: The Outlaws that became country musicâs first platinum-selling album. His contribution âPut Another Long On The Fireâ written by Shel Silverstein became his highest-charting hit. He released 15 solo albums over his long career, but had disappeared lately from the country music scene.
Wayne Mills – November 23rd, 2013
Wayne Mills was an Outlaw country music artists and songwriter who was shot fatally on November 23rd at the Pit & Barrel Bar in Nashville by the bar’s owner, Chris Ferrell. Originally from the very small town of Arab in Northern Alabama, he attended Wallace State Junior College as a baseball player, and eventually played football for the University of Alabama. Mills earned his degree in education and formed the Wayne Mills Band which became one of the hottest college bands on the honky tonk circuit.
Though Mills never rose to become a household name, his influence on country music cannot be overstated. He was close personal friends with Jamey Johnson, and was on tour with Jamey the week before he died. Jamey once opened for Wayne when he was making his way up in the ranks, so did future CMA Entertainer of the Year Blake Shelton, and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. Mills also shared the stage with Blackberry Smoke, and toured both Europe and Australia during his 15-plus years of touring experience. Mills received the Guardian Award by the Outlaw Music Hall of Fame just last month to recognize his âhard work and unwavering commitment to their music and their fans and best exemplify the tradition of those who came before.â
Ray Price – December 16th, 2013
Ray Price was born in Perryville, TX and served in the United States Marine Corps for 3 years before joining the âBig D Jamboreeâ show in Dallas in 1949. He then went on to manage Hank Williamsâ Drifting Cowboy band after the untimely death of Hank in 1952. In 1953, Ray Price formed his own band, the Cherokee Cowboys, which had many notable members over the years, including Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Johnny Paycheck , Johnny Bush, and steel guitar player Buddy Emmons amongst others.
Ray scored his first #1 hit in 1956 with the song âCrazy Armsâ written by steel guitar player Ralph Mooney, and later became seminal to the 1960â˛s âNashville Sound,â scoring a total of eight #1â˛s, including âMy Shoes Keep Walking Back To You,â âCity Lights,â âThe Same Old Me,â âFor The Good Timesâ in 1970 written by Kris Kristofferson, and âI Wonât Mention It Againâ in 1971. One of his most well-known songs is âHeartaches By The Numberâ released in 1959.
He released over 50 albums over his career and became a legend of country music, being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996. Ray won two Grammys, two ACM Awards, and a CMA Award for Album of the Year from 1971. Ray continued to perform all the way up to this year, and released his last album Last of the Breed with good friends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in 2007.
Other Notable Country Deaths:
- Cal Smith – best known for the song “Country Bumpkin”
- Jack Greene – Singer and performer, and first ever CMA Male Vocalist of the Year
- Patti Page – Singer of “Tennessee Waltz”
- Billy Joe Foster – Bluegrass Boy fiddle player for Bill Monroe & others
- Tony Douglas – Louisiana Hayride star that once turned down a contract for the Grand Ole Opry because he didn’t want to leave Texas.
- Johnny MacRae – Songwriter
- Patty Andrews – Of The Andrews Sisters
- Claude King- Singer, original member of the Louisiana Hayride
- Lorene Mann – Singer and songwriter
- Gordon Stoker – for The Jordanaires
- Sammy Johns – Songwriter of “Chevy Van” and other songs.
Country music star Alan Jackson has been known for being a staunch traditionalist, and a man who has stood on principle and for protecting the roots and legends of the music throughout his career. One of the most famous moments in country music lore involves Alan Jackson at the CMA awards show in 1999 when producers told George Jones he would have to perform an abridged version of his song “Choices.” George refused, and boycotted the awards altogether. Then in protest, during Alan Jackson’s performance of his song “Pop A Top,” he reversed course and started into George’s “Choices” in solidarity with the country legend.
But this wasn’t Alan Jackson’s only moment of protest during a prime time awards show apparently. Years earlier, at the 1994 ACM Awards, Alan Jackson pulled at stunt that has gone unfairly under-recognized in that annals of country’s finest moments of rebellion and protest.
The 1994 ACM Awards were in many ways Alan Jackson’s oyster. Held at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on May 3rd, Alan walked away that night with the Top Male Vocalist award, and co-hosted the event with Reba McEntire. But when it came to performing what would be his upcoming #1 single and one of the signature songs of the era “Gone Country,” Alan Jackson couldn’t sit right with the charade most country award shows pull on their audience.
Alan Jackson walked out for his performance wearing a Hank Williams sleeveless shirt, which in itself was quite irreverent and newswrothy in 1994, when country award shows were still predominantly black tie affairs. Executive producer Dick Clark in a backstage interview during the show asked Alan, “I should ask you a significant question. Here you are on television in front of millions of people. Why do you have a Hank Williams T-shirt on?” Jackson’s response was, “Well, I love Hank, and a fan…I get a lot of gifts on the road playing, and a fan gave me this shirt, and I just saw it in the closet before I came out here this weekend and I grabbed it and said, ‘I’m gonna wear it for my song,’ you know, ‘Gone Country.’ Hank’s country.”
But it wasn’t just Alan’s Jackson’s shirt that caught people’s eye and no doubt drew the worst ire of the ACM producers. Before the show, producers had told Alan that he had to play to a pre-recorded track, which Jackson clearly felt was tantamount to lying to both his fans and the audience. So instead of playing along with the charade, Jackson tipped off the audience to the subterfuge by telling his drummer Bruce Rutherford to play without sticks. So as the performance transpires and everything sounds perfect, there is Alan Jackson’s drummer, swinging his arms like he’s playing the drums, but with no sticks in his hand.
The performance certainly must have raised a stink at the time, but information and news stories about the incident are virtually non-existent. Dick Clark and the other ACM producers may have hoped only a few people noticed, and decided rather to ignore it than to shine a spotlight on the practice of pre-recording performances.
Before there were reality show contests and overnight sensations in country music, artists were expected to pay dues in music before they could hit the big time. They had to prove their muster as performers, musicians, or songwriters before making it to the spotlight, and one of those proving grounds was behind an established musician, holding down a spot in their band. When it came to the band of the recently deceased Ray Price called the Cherokee Cowboys, that proving ground has a pretty remarkable list of alumni that made their way up the country music ranks with the help of Ray.
Much can be written about the influence and impact Ray Price had on country music. But there may be no better evidence then the list of performers who felt honored to play behind Ray during their rise. Here’s some of the most notable Cherokee Cowboys that went on to bigger fame.
In 1961, just as Willie Nelson was beginning to make it big as a songwriter with Faron Young cutting “Hello Walls” and Ray Price Recording “Night Life,” Willie heard that Ray’s bass player was leaving and applied for the gig. “Ray didn’t ask if I knew how to play bass, which I didn’t,” Willie recalls. Willie’s stint in the Cherokee Cowboys was not very long, but it was legendary. Willie would take his $25 wage and songwriting royalties and upgrade his hotel rooms to suites to throw big parties, and pay for commercial airfare instead of riding the band bus. Willie bought Ray Price’s 1959 Cadillac and gave it to his then wife Martha. But as Willie became a hot songwriting commodity, he moved on from Ray’s band. The man Willie replaced on bass was known as Donny Young, whose real name was Donald Lytle, later to be known as Johnny Paycheck.
Johnny Paycheck was known simply as Donny Young during his Cherokee Cowboy days, and he had a lasting impact on the band and Ray Price before being replaced by Willie Nelson. Just like Paycheck did when he played in George Jones’s band, he was not only a capable bass player that also could also sit in on steel guitar, Paycheck brought a tenor harmony to the table that made him an invaluable and influential resource to any band he played in. Paycheck’s tenor is given credit for heavily influencing George Jones’s singing style, and Paycheck’s harmonies can be heard on early 60′s recordings byÂ Ray Price, Faron Young, and fellow Cherokee Cowboy Roger Miller.
Roger Miller’s career path was quirky to say the least, but just like Willie and Paycheck, it ran through Ray Price. After starting as a songwriter and collaborating early on with George Jones during his Starday Records era, Miller moved to Amarillo to become a firefighter. Of course Miller was a horrible firefighter, and made his way back into the music business and out to Nashville by becoming a Cherokee Cowboy in 1958. Miller wrote the Ray Price hit “Invitation to the Blues,” and sings harmony on the recording. Ray Price returned the favor in 1982, singing harmonies on Roger Miller’s final hit, “Old Friends,” which was the title track of a collaborative album between Roger and former Cherokee Cowboy Willie Nelson.
Picture of Ray Price and Roger Miller on the Grand Ole Opry. rogermiller.com
Talk to anybody familiar with the history of the pedal steel guitar in country music, and they’ll tell you Buddy Emmons is one of the gods of the instrument, if not the best to ever play. He was the founder of Sho-Bud, and the innovator of the “split-pedal” setup of the steel guitar in 1956 which revolutionized the instrument and is still in practice with most steel guitar players today. After doing stints in the bands of Little Jimmy Dickens and Ernest Tubb, Buddy joined the Cherokee Cowboys in 1962, recording and touring with Ray Price until about 1967. He plays the famous steel guitar break on “Night Life,” and became Price’s bandleader during his tenure in the Cherokee Cowboys, contributing many of the arrangements to Ray’s most famous songs from that era. Lloyd Green once said of Buddy Emmons, “He is probably the most intelligent and talented musician who’s ever played the instrument. He’s like Picasso or Michelangelo.” And when he joined Ray’s band, he replaced another steel guitar virtuoso, Jimmy Day. Emmons left the Cherokee Cowboys to move to California and work for fellow Cherokee Cowboy Roger Miller.
Honky tonk country singer and performer Darrell McCall grew up in Ohio with Donald Lytle, aka Donny Young, aka Johnny Paycheck, and the two moved to Nashville as a duo. When the duo thing didn’t work out, McCall, just like Paycheck, ended up in Price’s Cherokee Cowboys, both in theÂ session recorder and touring band member capacity as a backup vocalist in 1958. A year later, McCall was contracted to be part of the band The Little Dippers, and a year after that, he was signed to Capitol Records as a solo artist, becoming a performer in the honky tonk style of country, and later in the Outlaw country realm.
The legendary Texas performer and songwriter whose most famous for penning Willie Nelson’s signature song “Whiskey River” joined Ray’s Cherokee Cowboys in 1963. Like so many artists before him, the opportunity Ray Price bestowed to Bush led to greater success, and made lifelong friends of fellow Cherokee Cowboy artists. Johnny Bush also spent some time in one of Willie Nelson’s first bands, The Record Men, and Willie was a financial backer for Bush’s first record in 1967, The Sound of a Heartache. Bush was signed to RCA in 1972, but vocal problems kept Bush from being the huge star his talent afforded. To this day, Johnny Bush is a big star in his native Texas.
Other Notable Members of the Cherokee Cowboys:
- Jimmy Day
- Pete Wade
- Steve Bess
- Jan Curtis
- Shorty Lavender
- Buddy Spicher
2013 was a year defined by massive stories in country music. From historic deaths like the passing of country music writer Chet Flippo, artist and producer Tompall Glaser, producer and songwriter “Cowboy” Jack Clement, Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne and others, to the feuds that erupted as country music continues to be in the midst of a culture war, 2013 was tumultuous to say the least.
Please note that these top 10 stories are not based off of what Saving Country Music sees as the most important, but the amount of traffic and interest each story received, sometimes accrued over multiple stories on the same subject. So it’s you who chose what the top stories were.
âYou know, I would say no. I would say theyâre pop artists making a living in the country genre. I also feel like we lost our genre. I donât feel like I make music for a genre anymore, and I did, you know, 15 years ago. But I think since the Clear Channelâs and the Cumulusâs and the big companies bought up all the chains, now itâs about a demographic. You know, so theyâve kind of sliced everything up, feeding it to the public in demographics.â
Gary Allan later back peddled from his statements pretty hard after it caused a blowup.
Though there had been a few rumblings from other artists ahead of Tom Petty’s statements, it was his interview with Rolling Stone that got the 2013 Season of Discontent rolling in earnest.
“Well, yeah I mean, I hate to generalize on a whole genre of music, but it does seem to be missing that magic element that it used to have. Iâm sure there are people playing country that are doing it well, but theyâre just not getting the attention that the shittier stuff gets. But thatâs the way it always is, isnât it?
“But I hope that kind of swings around back to where it should be. But I donât really see a George Jones or a Buck Owens or any anything that fresh coming up. Iâm sure there must be somebody doing it, but most of that music reminds me of rock in the middle Eighties where it became incredibly generic and relied on videos.”
Luke Bryan’s pop country buddy Jason Aldean came to the rescue when Zac Brown called Luke Bryan’s song “That’s My Kind Of Night” the “worst song ever” (see below). The reaction also stimulated an explosive rant against Jason Aldean from Saving Country Music.
“I hear some other artist are bashing my boy @lukebryan new song, sayin its the worst song they have ever heardâŚâŚ.. To those people runnin their mouths, trust me when i tell u that nobody gives a shit what u think. Its a big ol hit so apparently the fans love it which is what matters. Keep doin ur thing LB!!!”
From all the usual pop frivolity, to the very unlikely win for Entertainer of the Year by George Strait, the 47th Annual CMA Awards became one of the biggest story lines in 2013, including the Saving Country Music LIVE Blog of the event, and our recap the next day:
“Was it a parting gift for Strait after announcing his final tour? Of course it was. But it doesnât mean it wasnât deserved, and it doesnât mean it isnât sweet, both for George, and for traditional country fans, even the ones who may not mark themselves as big George Strait supporters. Straitâs win marks the first time in a decade a true country artist has won the trophy.”
Willie’s long-time drummer and manager Paul English, his brother, and another crew member of Willie Nelson’s family band sustained minor injuries, but luckily the accident was not as bad as the picture appeared when it first surfaced. As the elder statesman of country music, the safety and health of Willie Nelson is always a concern for country fans.
“One of Willie Nelsonâs band busesânot Willieâs famed Honeysuckle Roseâwas involved in a bad accident late last night (11-22) in Texas on Interstate 30 in icy, Winter conditions. The accident occurred at roughly 3:30 AM Central time near Sulphur Springs. Multiple injuries have been reported, with multiple band members and/or crew injured, including Willie Nelsonâs long-time drummer Paul English who reportedly broke his ankle.”
“I love Luke Bryan and heâs had some great songs, but this new song is the worst song Iâve ever heard. I know Luke, heâs a friend. âMy Kind Of Nightâ is one of the worst songs Iâve ever heard. I see it being commercially successful, in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that. Country fans and country listeners deserve to have something better than that, a song that really has something to say, something that makes you feel something. Good music makes you feel something. When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs.”
When a country music legend is debilitated when he’s still in his mid 50′s, especially one with the voice and talent of Randy Travis, it is nothing short of a travesty. Continuing the pain and intrigue in the story has been the lack of information on just exactly how well Randy is doing, though his father says the situation looks bleak. Thoughts and prayers continue for Randy Travis, and maybe one of the big stories of 2014 will be his recovery and return.
“Country Music singer Randy Travis is in critical condition in a Texas hospital, according to his publicist, and has now suffered a stroke. Travis was admitted the the hospital on Sunday July 7th for complications with viral cardiomyopathy that he acquired recently.
Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle or another problem with the heart muscle. It often occurs when the heart cannot pump as well as it should, or with other heart function problems. Most patients with cardiomyopathy eventually suffer from heart failure. Though the term can apply to most diseases affecting the heart, it is usually only reserved for the most severe myocardial disease leading to heart failure.”
In a year of notable country deaths, this is one of the biggest in the history of the genre as arguably the best singer to ever grace country music passes away. From the the news of his death, to the the unveiling of the monument in Nashville, to the historic tribute show that transpired in place of what was supposed to be his last show, the passing of George Jones was one of the biggest stories in 2013, as it should be.
“George Jones, aka, The Possum, has died at age 81. While in the midst of his 60-date farewell tour, Jones was hospitalized for running a slight fever and for having irregular blood pressure, canceling shows in both Atlanta, and Salem, VA. His next show was to be tomorrow, April 27th, in Huntsville, AL. George had been suffering from breathing problems for the last few years. A family member told TMZ, ‘He has been on oxygen for a long while now and his lungs finally just couldnât do it anymore and they collapsed and he passed away. He couldnât breathe anymore on his own.’ The official cause of death has been named âHypoxic Respiratory Failure.â”
Arguably one of the stories we’ll reflect back on as putting Saving Country music on the map, Blake Shelton in a documentary on GAC had some unkind things to say about country music’s classic and traditional country fans, causing Ray Price to respond, Willie Nelson to rename his tour the “Old Farts and Jackasses” tour, and making the term “Old Farts and Jackasses” a term of endearment amongst true country fans heretofore.
“If I am ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ that must mean that Iâm one of those people now that gets to decide if it moves forward and if it moves on. Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpaâs music. And I donât care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ainât country!’ Well thatâs because you donât buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they donât want to buy the music you were buying.”
Despite all the massive news stories of 2013, this is the one that caused the most intrigue and outrage. From the news of Wayne’s death, to the controversial airing of a Spike TV reality show featuring the bar where Wayne was shot, to the two week wait until the arrest of the shooter Chris Ferrell, to the memorial, it was the biggest story of 2013, that with a potential trial or plea deal looming in the future, may also end up being one of the biggest stories of 2014 as well.
“Outlaw country music singer-songwriter and performer Wayne Mills of the Wayne Mills Band has been pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being shot in the head at 5 AM this morning outside of the Pit and Barrel bar at 515 2nd Ave in Nashville. âGod be with us all in this tragedyâŚâŚâ was posted on Wayneâs Facebook page.
“44 year-year-old Jerald Wayne Mills was at the Pit and Barrel early this morning when apparently an altercation erupted with the owner, Chris Michael Ferrell, after Wayne was smoking in a non-smoking area. Everyone else in the bar went outside, and later witnesses heard gunshots fired and called police. Ferrell told police he acted in self-defense.The bar owner has a valid handgun carry permit. Chris Ferrell and Wayne Mills were reportedly good friends, and they were hanging out at the bar after attending the George Jones Tribute earlier in the evening.”
- Wayne Mills funeral will be held on Sunday, December 8th. A memorial service will be held in his hometown of Arab, Al at the Arab High School auditorium. Visitation will be held from 9AM until 1PM CST, with the memorial service beginning at 1:30PM, followed by a private burial.
- Investigation into the Mills death is ongoing. Investigators have met with District Attorneys.
- Autopsy conducted on Wayne’s body. Results could take weeks or months.
- Wayne Mills shot three times, once in the back of the head.
Fans and friends of fallen country music songwriter and performer Wayne Mills gathered on Saturday (11-30) at the Somewhere on the Lake Resort on the shores of Lake Guntersville in Alabama for a remembrance of the artist that was shot and killed November 23rd at the Pit & Barrel Bar in Nashville. The 44-year-old Wayne Mills was originally from nearby Arab, AL, and was once a walk-on for the University of Alabama football team. Fellow native Alabaman Jamey Johnson was one of the notable attendees of the gathering, and a silent auction was held with the proceeds going to the Mills family. Other benefits are set to transpire on December 4th at the Tin Roof in Nashville, and the Knotty Pine
in Cincinnati. The Wayne Mills funeral is set to occur on Sunday (12-8).
Weighing heavy on the minds of the Wayne Mills family, friends, and fans attending the remembrance was the still unresolved nature of his passing. Ten days after, and still no arrest has been made, and no resolution to the death that Chris Ferrell, the owner of the Pitt & Barrel Bar and the man that fatally shot Wayne Mills, says happened in self-defense after an altercation erupted when Wayne was smoking in a non-smoking area. It was 5 AM and The Pit & Barrel had been closed for hours. The two men were hanging out together after attending the George Jones Memorial Concert at the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville earlier that night.
Chris Ferrell is the only direct witness to Wayne Mills’ death. There is no other story corroborating Chris Ferrell’s claims, and Wayne Mills is unable to defend himself either in the justice system or the court of public opinion. Information and details about the killing remain scarce, with more questions than answers so far for those searching for closure and resolution. Why has Chris Ferrell not been arrested or been charged with any crime, or at least been named as a suspect? Why for nearly 10 hours after the shooting and for many hours into the investigation were police working under the pretense that the victim was another Nashville songwriter Clayton Mills, and not Wayne Mills? Why did the witnesses that called the police misidentify Wayne, and why did it take so long for Nashville Police investigators to discover the mistake?
According the the Nashville Police Department, the death of Wayne Mills is considered a homicide investigation, and that investigation is still ongoing. On November 25th, investigators from Nashville’s Central Precinct Department met with the District Attorneyâs office to discuss the evidence gathered, and determined that no charges would be brought at that time. Central Precinct detectives remain in close contact with District Attorneys to determine if charges need to be filed as the investigation continues. On November 26th, the autopsy of Wayne Mills was performed, but according to the Medical Examiner’s office, it could be as long as 8 to 14 weeks after the death before any final conclusions are made, and the Medical Examiners Office does not release preliminary conclusions.
Saving Country Music has also confirmed that the fatal shot to Wayne Mills was to the back of the head. Reports that he was shot additional times are unconfirmed. This is the piece of information that many Wayne Mills fans and friends feel clears Wayne from being implicated as being killed in self-defense. How could someone with their back to a shooter be a threat to their life?
Though this may make sense intuitively, forensics and crime scene investigation is a much more complex science, and a shot to the back of the head may not equate to the smoking gun investigators and prosecutors need to make an arrest. If the two men were engaged at close range in a physical altercation, if Wayne Mills was pinning Chris Ferrell around the abdomen, a shot to the back of the head may have been Ferrell’s only option. But Saving Country Music has also learned that the fatal shot to Wayne Mills was fired across the Pit & Barrel bar itself, meaning the two men were on opposite sides of a physical barrier, making an explanation of how a fatal shot to the back of the head was done in self-defense that much more difficult to resolve.
But Nashville Police investigators still need to have probable cause to make an arrest. If Chris Ferrell had made an effort to flee, if he had tampered with the evidence, or otherwise attempted to conceal exactly what had happened, if he had not been cooperative or forthright with the investigators, then the police would have some merit of culpability against Chris Ferrell—that Chris believed he was guilty and was trying to cover his tracks with a self-defense story. But none of that occurred, and there’s no reason for officers to not believe that Chris Ferrell, who was very emotionally distraught after the killing, felt he was in fear for his life.
There is also the fact that the shooting occurred at 5 AM, after both men had been up for hours, and likely drinking. Both men also have prior arrest records. Chris Ferrell has been arrested twice for driving on a suspended license, though both charges were later dismissed. He was also arrested in July for domestic violence involving a bartender he was dating, and a vandalism charge that is pending. Wayne Mills was charged with driving under the influence and for reckless endangerment when he grazed a police officer on the highway in 2010. Then there was the unfortunate airing of the Spike TV episode of Bar Rescue that ironically featured the very Pit & Barrel Bar where the killing occurred, airing on the same week of Wayne’s death and showcasing a belligerent and high-tempered Chris Ferrell. Then FOX 17 in Nashville surfaced a picture showing both Wayne Mills and Chris Ferrell in the same frame, with Ferrell proudly flashing his handgun.
But since most, if not all of the on-the-ground investigation has been concluded, and it could take weeks or months for the full autopsy to conclude, it is hard to see where the breakthrough in the Wayne Mills case could come from. It’s beginning to feel like this may be a case that could take weeks, months, or longer to resolve. Investigators are trying to piece together an evidence puzzle while relying on a potential suspect as their only witness. The fact that the other witnesses, the ones that heard the shots and made the 9-11 call, were also where the misidentification of Wayne Mills originated is also not an idle fact. The mistaken identity of Wayne Mills may be where this homicide investigation hinges, but police must find more evidence or information to make an arrest, or to fully excuse Chris Ferrell from investigation.
Other questions from the investigation still remain. Did Chris Ferrell show any physical evidence, any physical harm done to him—bruises, cuts, etc.—to corroborate that Wayne Mills was being physically threatening? If Wayne Mills was acting aggressively, why did he need to be shot in the back of the head? Wouldn’t another, less fatal part of the body be more appropriate? Was Chris Ferrell drunk at the time of the shooting? Was he on drugs? Was Wayne Mills drunk or on drugs? Why did Chris Farrell not call 9-11 when the situation seemed to be escalating out of control? Why was it the witnesses outside that called 9-11, and not Ferrell after he shot Wayne? Why was Chris Ferrell not able to help resolve the identity discrepancy earlier in the investigation? And why did Ferrell re-open the Pit & Barrel so quickly?
Website The Class Action Lawsuit has looked into the particulars of the Wayne Mills case as they are known at the moment, and has offered some clarifications on how a self-defense claim could be handled in a bar scenario. “Self-defense gives a person the justified right to counteract violence or force, to prevent an injury or harm and to protect oneself,” says the website. “Though a bar room brawl seems like a natural context for self-defense, there are a number of circumstances that must exist before self-defense can function as a valid justification for shooting someone in a place of business.”
The website gives requisites for Chris Ferrell to claim self-defense as:
- Ferrell was not the initial aggressor;
- Ferrell had a reasonable and honest belief that he was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury;
- Mills never retreated from the fight;
- Ferrell did not consent to Millsâ force; and
- Ferrell used a proportional amount of force.
The Class Action Lawsuit website also says, “Itâs unclear whether the amount of force used by Ferrell was proportional to the type of force it was meant to prevent. He went for the jugular, so to speak, when he shot Mills in the head. Ferrell wonât be able to claim self-defense if the gunshot to Millsâ head was excessive. Killing someone with a gun in response to someone who was verbally insulting you, for example, would never suffice as self-defense. But if Mills was also wielding a gun, the ‘fighting fire with fire’ rationale may apply.”
If the case remains at a stalemate, that doesn’t mean that investigators, or the friends and family of Wayne Mills, don’t have options. A Grand Jury could be called to consider the evidence and potentially hand down an indictment. The Grand Jury system is sometimes employed in cases where the evidence and circumstances are complex, and District Attorney’s have difficulty assigning charges. Tennessee is a Grand Jury state, and the Grand Jury / indictment system was just used on another murder investigation in Nashville where a mother was indicted in the death of her 3-year-old son. However, as another indication that the Wayne Mills case may take a while to resolve, the indictment was brought 7 months after the incident.
The Wayne Mills family could address Wayne’s death as a civil matter and pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes wrongful death is easier to prove than criminal charges. There was no obvious premeditation in the Wayne Mills killing, at least from what we know, but maybe manslaughter charges are more appropriate in this case, seeing how lethal force was used on what we believe to be an unarmed man, when Chris Ferrell may have had other options to subdue Wayne Mills if Wayne was in fact acting aggressively.
The case could also be elevated to the state level.
Aside from the obligation of investigators to presume innocence and prove guilt, the climate surrounding claims of self-defense has never been more favorable, with stand your ground laws, concealed weapons permits (which Chris Ferrell had), and other laws governing how authorities must handle self-defense claims giving deference to the individuals claiming self-defense.
Most notably the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida resulted in an acquittal of all charges against neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman, despite some evidence that deadly force was not necessary. On November 29th, a Georgia man fatally shot a 72-year-old Alzheimer’s patient 4 times after he knocked on his back door at 4 AM. He has yet to be charged with any crime.
Musician Carter Albrect who used to play in The New Bohemians and was a member of the Dallas-based band Sorta was shot and killed in 2007 after becoming disoriented after drinking and taking an anti-smoking drug, and mistakenly banging on the door of his girlfriend’s neighbor, resulting in a warning shot being fired through the door that struck Albrect. No charges were ever filed against the homeowner.
But none of these cases fall under Tennessee law or are being handled by Nashville District Attorneys, and they all fall under individuals protecting their homes and private property. In a place of business, and specifically a bar is where this case falls into a gray area that may make it hard for prosecutors to bring charges.
10 days after the death of Wayne Mills, and there’s still much anger, confusion, questions, and worry amongst friends, family, and fans of the fallen artist. They want answers and closure. But the story of the death of Wayne Mills, and the path towards its resolution, may have just begun.
Wayne Mills was like that warrior that refuses to come off of the mountain. With defeat eminent and inevitable, he would rather raise his fists in the air and rage against the dying of the light then let it overtake him sitting down or sulking. He was like that old honky tonk that refuses to sell as strip malls, condo complexes, and highrises get built up all around it; the one lone holdout swearing off the money that selling out would impart on the principle that everything real, everything worth cherishing is disappearing, and with it, the ties to who we are as people, and the culture that we come from.
In the culture war, Wayne was that painted up, passionate warrior that rallies the troops with his sword held high, stern faced and stubborn as the waves of change sweep over and ultimately destroy all of what once was; victims of progress and the cult of priority.I’ll be there when they burn the last honky tonk down In body, mind, and spirit, under the table, or under the ground The fading echos of a barroom band might be the only sound I’ll be there when they burn the last honky tonk down Â
These are the words that form the chorus of the title track, and the theme of Wayne’s 2010 album with The Wayne Mills Band called The Last Honky Tonk. Both thematically and sonically, the album and Wayne are like a big stick in the mud and a finger in the eye of the forces severing country’s roots, drawing heavy from the Waylon Jennings-inspired half beat and electric sound, then floating towards the Willie Nelson waltz and acoustic rhythms, and by the end of the album, touching on and paying homage to most of the country music textures that are seen today by Music Row’s money-driven perspective as outmoded.
The second song on the album,”One Of These Days,” is about losing friends too early, reminiscing back on their lives, and using it as a reflection on his own. “My friends lost their lives, but I remember their dreams,” is what Wayne says leading into the the first chorus that talks about the promises we rarely keep to ourselves.
The infectious hook and groove of “Same Old Blues” makes it one of the most fun tracks on the album, while “It’s Just Not My Style” speaks to the personality of Wayne to just do things his way, and lead by example. “Old Willie Nelson Song” and “Friendly Companion” pay homage to Wayne’s musical heroes, but not in the pandering, name-dropping manner of many modern day country songs, but in the context of a heartfelt story. Then “The Truce” duet with Presley Tucker draws inspiration from the famously tumultuous relationship between Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
“Don’t Bring It Around” speaks to the sobriety many Outlaws attempt to embrace later in life, that is regularly hindered by the insistence of the culture and people that surround them, while the epic “Homeward Bound” is about coming come, and coming to peace, putting a period on an album that when listening to in the midst of the recent news of Wayne’s passing feels hauntingly foreboding and poignant.
True country music artists always seem to hold on to life much more precariously than the rest of us, and that vulnerability, and the perspective afforded by walking that line between the dead and the living is what gives them the insight to speak about such things the rest of us struggle to put into words. Wayne Mills was not the most well-known, nor the most prolific of artists. But he was one of the most pure and honest of the breed, unwavering in his country music principles, evidenced by The Last Honky Tonk, and his music that will live on well beyond his passing.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the George Jones Playin’ Possum – The Final No Show LIVE Blog. Since tonight’s festivities will not be televised, we’re going to try to do our best to make folks that could not be in attendance for this historic event feel a part of it by providing a place to listen along, share thoughts, and hopefully post pictures as they come in from attendees. Over 100 performers are scheduled to make an appearance. So get your refresh fingers ready and please feel free to chime in below in the comments section.
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11/23 12:30 PM: Here’s some bootleg video from last night. Good, multi-camera quality for final Alan Jackson song, Martina McBride & George Strait right before the finale, and though there’s a few Gremlins in the audio, you can catch the vibe of the Jamey Johnson / Megadeth song. You can also see Big & Rich on their riding lawnmowers singing “Love Bug,”Â and Jamey Johnson singing “Tennessee Whiskey.”
11:32 - Thanks everyone for stopping by! Thanks to the George Jones Twitter Page, Country Weekly, and other random attendees for the pictures! Thanks to The Tennessean, and other folks on the scene for filling us in on all the songs and performers and other information. Make sure you also check out the Tennessean’s Live Blog for more coverage, and their photo gallery of the event (apparently, Big & Rich did their song on riding lawnmowers).
And remember, music always sounds better when it’s shared!
11:30 - From The Tennessean about the end of the concert:
A tribute concert to George Jones would not be complete without âHe Stopped Loving Her Today.â Alan Jackson does the honors.
Then he invites Nancy Jones on stage and invites the audience to sing along.
âThis is the greatest country song by the greatest country singer, Mr. George Jones,â Jackson says, as he again launches into the chorus of âHe Stopped Loving Her Today.â
âThank you all so much,â he says, âGeorge we love you.â
Leaving the stage, his arm around Nancy Jonesâ waist, he stops to set the rocking chair on stage in motion. As the chair meant for Jones rocks slowly back and forth, the crowd claps and cheers begging for more.
But it is, indeed, the end.
George Jonesâ tribute is complete.
The audience has made it clear that, like his chair, it truly rocked.
11:26 - Apparently the whole arena was singing along to “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” led by Alan Jackson.
11:24 - Well folks, that may be all she wrote. 4 hours! We’ll do one last scan for some cool pictures, quotes, or info we missed!
11:19 - Let’s see if we have people come on stage for a finale.
11:18 - And of course, as it should be, Alan Jackson comes out to close the show out by performing “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
11:15 - Apparently Reba lost her voice, and was unable to perform. As you can see from the lineup picture below, she was sceduled to play before George Strait. Here’s Reba’s post from Instagram.
11:12 - So about the joke Bill Anderson told earlier, and the performance afterwards, here’s the account from The Tennessean:
Tied up on Old Hickory Lake boats owned by Anderson, Jones, record producer Billy Sherrill and others. Jonesâ was the only one that had a small dinghy boat tied to the back.
One day, Anderson said, he was trying to dock his boat and the wind blew his boat into Jonesâ.
From that day on he was known as âthe man who put the dent in George Jonesâ dinghy,â Anderson said with a laugh.
After groans and chuckles, Anderson is joined on stage for another historical group number with Bobby Bare, Jim Ed Brown, Jimmy C. Newman, John Conlee, Larry Gatlin, Ray Stevens, and Stonewall Jackson. Pioneers who paved the way for so many, the group sings âWhen the Last Curtain Falls,â and âStill Doinâ Time.â
The boys still clearly have a few good jokes in them. âI fell down but Iâm good,â Jackson said from his seat on the stage, before their final number âSome Day My Day Will Come.â
11:09 – Martina McBride joins George Strait on stage to sing “Golden Ring.”
11:05Â – Reigning Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year George Strait takes the stage to sing “The Grand Tour.”
11:01 - Suzy Bogguss and Miranda Lambert backstage. SEE PICTURE
11:00 - Vince Gill takes the stage to perform “Slipping Away.”
10:56 - Dierks Bentley apparently called tonight the Country Music Awards meets the Field of Dreams.
10:52Â - Patty Loveless takes the stage to sing “Blue Must Be The Color of the Blues.” No picture of Jessi and Shooter yet, I’m not being bias . The biggest names of the tribute are coming up!
10:48 - Mike Huckabee has the coolest quote of the night so far: “You’re going to remember where you were Nov. 22, 1963.” Because you were at the George Jones tribute. Yep, 1963.”
10:45 - We’ll try to get the names of the others who joined Thompson Square. Meanwhile Shooter Jennings has taken the stage.
10:42 - Thompson Square & others play “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”
10:40 - Former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee introduces Thompson Square to the stage.
10:37 - Another interesting quote from Dave Mustaine of Megadeth: “Heavy metal is all about rebellion and George was definitely a rebel. Thank you for welcoming us into this beautiful family.”
10:35Â - Picture of Montgomery Gentry on stage.
10:33 - Stacy McCloud who is the entertainment reporter for Nashville’s Fox 17 is the new emcee. According to the Tennessean, she was the last reporter to interview Jones. âI will never forget he walked out and said, âHey there, young lady. I think Iâve been dreaming about you.ââ
10:32 - Montgomery Gentry takes the stage to do “The Race Is On.”
10:26 - Rodney Atkins has taken the stage.
10:22 - “Country music transcends barriers, it has come into my world and so many other worlds.” – Dave Mustaine
10: 19 - Jamey Johnson leaves Megadeth backstage to trash the dressing room, and performs a solo acoustic performance of “Tennessee Whiskey.”
10:14 - By the way, the Jamey Johnson / Megadeth collaboration was on “Wild Irish Rose.”
10:11 - Bill Anderson on stage right now telling a “funny story.” (Wish we could hear it!) SEE PICTURE
10:09 - Cool picture of Charlie Daniels warming up backstage during Act 1.
10:07 - Jim Lauderdale & The Roys playing “Why Baby Why” on stage right now. SEE PICTURE
10:03 - Jamey Johnson. Megadeth. George Jones. Rawk.
10:01 - Cool Picture of Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert from earlier. Working on getting a Megadeth / Johnson photo.
9:59 - Social network channels exploding with disbelief as Megadeth takes the George Jones tribute stage with Jamey Johnson. But remember, for better or worse, Dave Mustaine recently put out a “bluegrass” song.
9:53 - Travis Tritt delivers an “incredible” performance of “Closing Of The Door” to open the 2nd act. Brad Paisley on stage now playing “Corvette Song.” SEE PICTURE.
9:48 - According to George’s wife Nancy, he knew he would not make this tribute that was originally scheduled to be the final show of his final tour. âI said, âWhy are you agreeing to everything?â â Nancy Jones remembers. âHe said, ââCause Iâm not going to be here. Iâm going to agree to anything they ask. Promise me youâll make a tribute show out of it, and Iâll see it from heaven.â â
9:44 - The emcee for Act 2 has changed from Ralph Emery to Keith Bilbrey, the weatherman on the Ralph Emery show for 21 years.
9:39 - As you can see from the list below, we missed bluegrass group Dailey & Vincent playing with Baillie & The Boys. But unlike the list, we remembered the additionalÂ ‘I’ in Baillie. Megadeth with Jamey Johnson should be quite entertaining.
9:35 - From The Tennessean: âWow what a show,â Ralph Emery says. âBack stage weâve got a movie star and weâve got a former governor, and we have all kinds of entertainment here as we salute George Jones.â
9:28 - Well look what I found. Apparently Act 2 is about to commence. From Little Rebellion’s Music Photos on Facebook.
9:21 - Apparently there is a short intermission going on right now, and more music is coming up in mere moments. Here is Little Jimmy Dickens sitting in the George Jones rocking chair from Country Weekly’s Twitter feed.
9:17 - It’s not much to look at, but you can hear the tribute in the background, and see the scene on lower broadway from the Tootsies Orchid Lounge Live webcam.
9:14 - Apparently Little Jimmy Dickens has made an appearance on stage to sit in the empty George Jones rocker. He’s about the only one who could pull off such shenanigans.
9:10 - Also part of the Tracy Lawrence, Suzy Bogguss, Colin Ray, T Graham Brown, and TG Sheppard group from earlier was Jett Williams. THey performed the songs âThe Love in Your Eyesâ and âWine Colored Roses.â
9:05 - Craig Morgan plays the deep George Jones cut “Finally Friday,” and then hops off the stage to hug Nancy Jones afterwards.
9:02 - Josh Turner now on stage singing “One Woman Man.” Picture of Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert.
8:59 - Power couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton now on stage singing “These Days I Barely Get By.”
8:55 - People watching the tribute show outside of the Bridgestone Arena. It is also being broadcast at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge down the street.
8:54 - Our second group of the night is now on the stage, made up of Tracy Lawrence, Suzy Bogguss, Colin Ray, T Graham Brown, and TG Sheppard.
8:52 - There are also emcees as part of the event that are working in shifts. The first was Larry Black. Right now it is Ralph Emery.
8:46 - Gatlin sang “Good Year For Roses.”
8:45 - Larry Gatlin on stage now!
8:41 - Dierks Bentley singing “Always Get Lucky With You.” Now the Oak Ridge Boys are on stage singing “Same Ole Me.”
8:38 - There is a lot of buzz about Eric Church’s cover of “Choices” as well. Dierks Bentley on stage now.
8:37 - More on the Sam Moore rendition of “The Blues Man” from The Tennessean: “The crowd clearly connected with this performance, throwing up cheers mid-performance. It is easily the most emotion-filled of the night so far.”
Sam Moore received a standing ovation.
8:35 - Well we know there will be video for this for the future, because they are broadcasting the event outside of the Bridgestone Arena on big screens, and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge right done the street is also broadcasting it.
8:32 - Tommy Shaw of Styx is now on stage performing “She Thinks I Still Care.”
8:28 - Eric Church on stage now playing “Choices.” Here is Kathy Mattea performing “I’m A Long Gone Daddy.”
8:25 - Kathy Mattea played “I’m A Long Gone Daddy.” Up on stage right now is Clay Walker playing “Things Have Gone To Pieces.” For those of you counting, that is the 13th performance tonight in under and hour!
8:21 - Kathy Mattea on stage now!
8:18 - Sam Moore is on stage right now singing “Blues Man,” and from the web chatter from the stadium, it is a stirring, heartfelt performance, one of the best of the night so far. SEE PICTURE
8:15 - The Kentucky Headhunters keeping it classy and playing “High Tech Redneck.”
8:12 - Baillie and the Boys on stage right now singing “I’m Ragged But I’m Right.”
8:10 - For those of you wondering who all was in the “Ladies of Country Music,” it was Leona Williams,Â Emmylou Harris, Jan Howard, Jeanne Pruett, Janie Fricke, and Jeannie Seely. They sang “I Am What I Am,” “Tender Years,” and “I’m Not Ready Yet.”
8:07 - With 112 performers and how quickly they are going to have to run through them, I hope there is time to make each performance count. It’s great to see so many legendary faces, but nothing beats that one special moment music can bring to a tribute. And someone better be recording.
8:03 - Charlie Daniels playing “Me & Jesus.”
8:02 - Lee Ann Womack just played “Once You Had The Best,” and Charlie Daniels is now on stage!
7:57 - Big & Rich opened with “Love Bug.” Garth and Trisha sang “Take Me,” and the Ladies of Country sang “If My Heart Had Windows.”
7:54 - On stage moments ago “The Ladies of Country Music” with Emmylou Harris singing.
7:51 – Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood on Stage. SEE PICTURE
7:48 - So it’s not looking good for even an audio feed of tonight’s event folks! We’ll do our best to try and make you feel a part of it nonetheless!
7:46 - Big & Rich were the opening act for the tribute, and now Kid Rock is singing “White Lightning.”
7:44 - George Jones’ rocking chair on stage:
7:40 - Nancy Jones in her seat, ready to take in in the tribute.
7:38 - Word is Megadeth. Yes, Megadeth is on site and will be performing tonight.
7:32 - Folks, on the WSM website, it says they are broadcasting the NO Show tribute, but right now I’m listening to the Friday night Opry. We’ll keep monitoring and see if we can at least find an audio feed.
7:30 - They have George Jones’ rocking chair set up on stage so he can be there in spirit for this historic concert. SEE PICTURE
7:29 - Here is what the inside of Bridgestone Arena looks like for the tribute. SEE PICTURE
7:28 – Folks filing into the Bridgestone Arena. Photo by Colby Peel on Twitter.
7:24 - The fact that tonight’s show is not being televised has been a source of much talk. It is not out of the question that it will be televised in the future, and certainly camera will be there. George’s widow Nancy Jones has said she wishes that every George Jones fan could participate. The event was sold out months ago, and was originally supposed to be a part of George’s final tour. They have set up screens outside of the Bridgestone Arena so fans can watch along. They also made an additional 500 tickets available at the box office last minute.
7:20Â - The list of performers has swelled to 112 at last count, including some “surprises”. Here is the latest list we can tally:
Alabama, Alan Jackson, Baillie & the Boys, Big & Rich, Bill Anderson, Blake Shelton, Bobby Bare, Brad Paisley, Brenda Lee, Chad Warrix (Halfway to Hazzard), Charlie Daniels, Collin Raye, Craig Morgan, Dailey & Vincent, Daryle Singletary, Dierks Bentley, Eddy Raven, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, Eric Lee Beddingfield, Gary Morris, George Strait, Greg Bates, Gretchen Wilson, Jamey Johnson, Janie Fricke, Jeanne Pruett, Jeannie Seely, Jessi Colter, Jett Williams, Jim Ed Brown, Jim Lauderdale, Jimmy C. Newman, Jimmy Wayne, John Conlee, John Michael Montgomery, Josh Turner, Kathy Mattea, Kentucky Headhunters, Kid Rock, Larry Gatlin, Lee Ann Womack, Lee Greenwood, Leona Williams, Lisa Matassa, Little Jimmy Dickens, Lorrie Morgan, Lynn Anderson, Mandy Barnett, Mark Collie, Martina McBride, Megadeth, Miranda Lambert, Montgomery Gentry, The Oak Ridge Boys, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Ray Stevens, Reba McEntire, Rodney Atkins, Ronnie McDowell, The Roys, Sam Moore, Shooter Jennings, Stonewall Jackson, Suzy Bogguss, T. Graham Brown, Tanya Tucker, Teea Goans, TG Sheppard, Thompson Square, Tracy Lawrence, Travis Tritt, and Vince Gill.
A monument dedicated to country music legend George Jones was unveiled today (11-18-13) in Nashville at the Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home and Memorial Park at 660 Thompson Lane in the Berry Hill portion of southern Nashville. The event was open to the public, and also included a special presentation by George Jones’ widow Nancy Jones announcing the establishment of a scholarship fund for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) on behalf of George. George Jones died on April 26th, 2013.
The monument features a tall arch made in the likeness of a guitar fretboard that reads “Jones” at the very top, with a large mantle across the face of the monument that reads “He Stopped Loving Her Today” in tribute to one of Jones’ signature songs. On the left of the monument is an image and eulogy to George Jones, while the right of the monument is reserved for his wife Nancy. In the center is a guitar with a placard with George’s most-famous nickname, “The Possum.”
The monument was first announced in June to honor George Jones’ “life and contributions to country music.” Initially there was a plaque in the place where the new monument sits with an artistic rendering of the monument and the note, “Thank you for all your love and support shown to George and to me. God bless, Nancy.”
The unveiling comes days before a star-studded tribute to George Jones that is set to transpire on Nov. 22nd in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena called âPlaying Possum, The Final No Showâ with over 70+ performers scheduled to appear.
Photo is from Chris Cannon of NBC 5 in Nashville.
It has been just over six months since we lost one of country music’s most singular and influential voices in George Jones, and though nothing will ever fill the void left in the heart of country music by the George Jones passing, our memories of his music just got a little easier to recall and share.
Reserve Records, an imprint of Secret Stash Records, has just reissued one of the most timeless and treasured pieces of country music history on vinyl: George Jones’ very first LP from Starday Records. The album has never been reissued in its entirety until now, making original copies of the album one of the most collectible records in history. 14 songs capturing George Jones in his most pure form come to life on this treasured new release that is also accompanied by a 45 of “Thumper Jones,” which was George Jones’ early rockabilly alter ego.
Starday Records was located in Beaumont, TX, and its name was taken from the two last names of its primary proprietors, Jack Starnes and Pappy Daily. Pappy was George’s first producer and mentor, and they originally cut records in Jack Sterns’ living room. George Jones had his first big hit with “Why Baby Why” in 1955, and wanting to capitalize off the interest, Starday issued George’s first LP in early 1957, which incidentally was Starday’s first record that wasn’t a single. “Thumper Jones” came about when Jones tried the rockabilly route in response to the popularity of Elvis Presley in 1956. Jones subsequently went on to become one of the biggest names in the history of country music, but it all started with Starday.
In conjunction with this vinyl reissue, and the historic tribute “Playing Possum, The Final No Show” set to transpire on Nov. 22nd at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena with 70+ performers, Saving Country music is giving away a set of the George Jones first album reissue and “Thumper Jones” single. All you have to do to enter is to leave your favorite George Jones song in a comment below. “But I can’t pick just ONE George Jones song!” That’s okay, list all your favorites! Just make sure to leave your real email address when prompted by the comment forum so we can contact you if you’re the winner. The winner will be announced on Nov. 22nd when the George Jones Tribute transpires.
And if you can’t wait to partake in all of this classic country goodness, you can order yourself up a copy right now!
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