On Friday (5-13), it was announced that Billboard would finally be adding an Americana chart to their weekly albums chart roster. This is 10 years after the Grammy Awards began to recognize Americana, nearly 17 years after the Americana Music Association formed.
Sturgill Simpson sat down with Marc Maron of the WTF podcast recently, and the hour or so interview was released on Thursday (5-12). If you’re a diehard Sturgill Simpson fan, it would be strongly encouraged that you listen. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits from the conversation.
Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth is officially the #1 record in country music, and is also the highest-charting debut of the week at #3 on the all genre Billboard 200 chart. The only thing keeping Sturgill from the top of the Billboard 200 were two surging titles from Price that sold like crazy in the hours after the superstar’s death.
Iconic American songwriter Bob Dylan will be celebrating his 75th birthday on May 24th, and country and roots artist, including many songwriters who cite Dylan as a primary influence on their music, will be coming together to pay tribute to the man in numerous events across the country.
Bob Dylan, Cain's Ballroom, Elizabeth Cook, Emmylou Harris, Holly Williams, J.D. McPherson, Jason Isbell, Jimmy LaFave, John Fullbright, John Moreland, John Paul White, Kacey Musgraves, Nikki Lane, Steve Ripley
This is not another article about Chris Stapleton. This is an article about mainstream American country music radio. Yes, Chris Stapleton won big, again. But Chris Stapleton’s impact still remains paltry on mainstream country radio. The question is, will country radio listen? Or will country radio be left with anybody listening to it?
The “South” is the setting for the songs, and where the respective artists hail from, but “Family” is what makes this record universal for all listeners. And unlike many other concept records that may only have one or two songs that can be separated from the material, every song on “Southern Family” can exist independently, and many will go on to mark top-level career contributions to the artist’s musical canon.
“In my new song we cover such diverse tragic country topics as unemployment, the troops, reliable trucks gone done breakin’ down, the devil’s brown liquor, and the no-good bankerman knocking on the door with papers,” Isbell says in the fictitious infomercial. “My new 180-minute four chord song also covers new cartoonishly tragic down home scenarios.
This is one of many accusations from Clyde Isbell, the rarely talked-about identical twin brother of Americana star Jason Isbell, and co-frontman of a local Allman Brothers cover band in Alabama. Saving Country Music tracked down Clyde in a trailer park outside of Muscle Shoals to ask him about his brother’s recent success, and attempt to determine why the lives of the siblings have forked in separate directions.
50-year-old country stars aren’t supposed to make records like these. They’re supposed to be trying to hold onto their glory days or make good use of the last dying gasps of somehow getting on the radio. Or they’re supposed to just give up the ghost and make sure they’re investing their money smartly. But nobody told Wynonna Judd that, or her husband, producer, drummer and songwriter Cactus Moser.
Riding the momentum of two Grammy wins, and ahead of an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday night (2-17), Chris Stapleton has announced a slew on new concert dates, and it appears some fans hoping to see him in a smaller venue before things get really crazy will have their opportunity, that is if the show hasn’t already sold out.
Justice has finally been done, and the current King of Americana finally has his Grammy. Actually, he now has two of them. Alabama-born songwriter Jason Isbell walked away with Best Americana Album honors at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards for his latest record Something More Than Free during the pre-telecast awards Monday afternoon (2-14), as well as Best American Roots song for “24 Frames.”
For the last couple of years country fans have been questioning how chart managers for Billboard and other entities could listen to certain songs or performers and consider them country in the slightest. Yet here is a band making music that’s more country than it is anything else, and more country than most of what you hear on country radio, and Billboard is denying their admittance on the country charts.
How people listen to music is clearly changing, but much of the country music industry isn’t following suit. In a town that employs scores of people just to push songs to radio, Nashville doesn’t know how to behave any differently than they did 60 years ago. Entire companies are based around trying to sell songs to country radio. The difference now is radio is no longer the only game in town.
Along with the frequency of incidents involving bands being burglarized, it’s been the brazenness of the thieves, and the high-profile nature of the incidents that has put Houston in people’s crosshairs for not being hospitable to touring musicians.
“Things That I Lean On” begins by acquiescing to the frailties of being human, and then singing the praises of the gifts life bestows to overcome them. Written by Travis Meadows and Daniel Sanders, it is a perfect song for the conditions Cactus Moser created to record in. Though it’s not her own song, the love and honesty Wynonna sings with let’s you know it is still very personal and true to her experience.
Cactus MOser, Chris Stapleton, Daniel Sanders, Derek Trucks, Don Williams, Jason Isbell, Julie Miller, Review, Susan Tedeschi, Things That I lean On, Timothy B. Schmit, Travis Meadows, Wynonna & The Big Noise, Wynonna Judd
So what in the hell are well-versed country and Americana fans who finds themselves in stiff opposition to folks like Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt supposed to feel about ol’ Isbell sharing the stage with these turkeys? I’ll tell you what they should feel, they should shut up and be happy because it’s yet another sign that the good stuff is breaking through, and is getting its deserved due on Nashville’s biggest stages.
Dierks has been doing this his entire career, and when his new album comes out, it will still be one of the better ones released in mainstream country all year I bet. But for now, he needs a bullet on the radio so he takes a bitter pill, swallows hard, a puts out a dumbass beach song. Eat your heart out Kenny Chesney.
The country music Outlaw movement didn’t happen overnight either. It took years and years of gnawing away at the obtrusive oligarchy that had set up shop on Music Row to get to the point where many of the genre’s most prominent stars could call their own shots, and the music could finally open up to new ideas and fresh faces.
Billy Joe Shaver, Bobby Bare, Brandy Clark, Chris Stapleton, Dave Cobb, Florida Georgia Line, Hillbilly Central, Holly Williams, Jason Isbell, Jessi Colter, Jon Pardi, Kris Kristofferson, Luke Bryan, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, Mo Pitney Williams Michael Morgan, Southern Family, Sturgill Simpson, Sugar Hill, Thirty Tigers, Tompall Glaser, Wanted The Outlaws, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Zac Brown
The reason an artist like Anderson East works, similarly to Leon Bridges and many others, is because he’s got a evocative, old-school coolness about him that reminds folks of a time when music and life wasn’t so superficial. So there may be some borrowing of ideas here, but it’s innocent, and better than most of what is influenced by more modern textures.
Sturgill Simpson fans will have to wait patiently for another six months or so for new music for the Kentucky songwriter. But rest assured, new music is on the way. The summer of 2016 seems a long way away when you’re waiting for new music from one of your favorite artists, but it’s also assuring to know new Sturgill Simpson music is on the way nonetheless.