One of the reasons we feel so surprised at Americana’s success and so many have been so slow to recognize it is because it has been a slow and steady process. Because of Americana’s model of sustainability, the revolution has been plodding, yet purposeful. And now it’s success is palpable, and measurable by industry-standard metrics.
With absolutely no hyperbole intended, William Michael Morgan earning a #1 on country radio for his debut single “I Met A Girl” is a historic moment in country music. It’s a point in time when an undeniably traditional country song from an undeniably traditional country artist has topped the chart after a long vacancy for a traditionalist at the top spot.
After the awards, Jason Isbell did like so many artists of country music’s storied past once did after playing at the Country Music Mother Church. He ambled out of the backstage exit into the famous alley that separates the Ryman and the bars of Lower Broadway, and took the stage with his wife Amanda Shires at Robert’s Western World.
Adam Meisterhaus, Amanda Shires, Americana, Americana Music Awards, Cary Ann Hearst, Dave Cobb, Jack Ingram, Jason Isbell, Jeremy Pentacost, Josh Hedley, Robert's Western World, Ryman Auditorium, Sam Outlaw, Sam Palladio, Shovels and Rope, Steve Earle
The reigning king of Americana music at the moment is arguably songwriter and performer Jason Isbell. But Jason Isbell will not be performing at Americana’s annual premier event every year—The Americana Music Conference, or AmericanaFest, that transpires September 20th through 25th in downtown Nashville.
Now that some of the dust has settled since Sturgill Simpson made his inflammatory comments about the mistreatment of Merle Haggard on Monday (8-29), many others have taken the opportunity to weigh in on the matters on both sides of the country music cultural divide.
If nothing else, The Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim continues to show their great taste in music. As Squidbillies fans can attest, Jason Isbell is far from the first cool musical artist to make an appearance on the show. The animated series’ main character is voiced by none other than Unknown Hinson (aka Stuart Baker), and Billy Joe Shaver sang the original theme song.
If anyone could get away with walking right up to a happily married woman, planting one right on her lips right in front of her husband, and all the associated parties would walk away with a humors story to tell instead of an account of a fist fight, it would be Willie Nelson. And that’s exactly what happened a while back.
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.