Browsing articles tagged with " Johnny Cash"
Oct
2

Johnny Cash Writes a Letter to Waylon Jennings

October 2, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  3 Comments

The-HighwaymenIt was November of 1985. Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash—long-time friends who traced their intertwined stories all the way back to when they shared an apartment together just outside of Nashville—were as close as ever, and sharing the stage as part of the supergroup The Highwaymen with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. The song “Highwayman” had been one of 1985′s biggest hits, cresting at #1 and holding on the Billboard charts for 20 weeks on its way to becoming a Top 5 song of the entire year.

Amidst their success, Waylon had agreed to be a part of a “roasting” in Georgia to benefit the Spina Bifida Association of Atlanta, and all of his fellow Highwaymen, including Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash were scheduled to attend. Reporter Jack “Hawkeye” Hurst wrote briefly about the event on November 28th, 1985, and placed Johnny and June in Atlanta with Waylon, because that is where they were supposed to be according to the billing. But in truth Johnny and June were not there; they were in Jamaica. The Cash’s had a home called “Cinnamon Hill” on the Caribbean island which Waylon and his wife Jessi often visited, and while hiding away in their Jamaican home, Johnny and June missed the Atlanta roast. How do we know this?

As part of the liquidation of Waylon’s Arizona estate currently underway, a letter from Johnny Cash to Waylon has been made public for the first time. To make it up to Waylon for not attending the roast, Johnny Cash (or someone on his behalf) took to a typewriter, and in the spirit of a proper roasting, wrote a letter to Waylon that was equally apologetic for missing the event as it was pointedly sarcastic toward his old friend.

The Johnny Cash letter to Waylon Jennings is a testament to the friendship and closeness the two men shared, and the respect each man felt for respective wives.

The letter, along with hundreds of personal effects, including reams of other written paper matter, is scheduled to be auctioned off by Guernsey’s Auctioneers on Sunday, Oct. 5th.

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Waylon, this roast shouldn’t hurt you too much tonight, because your brain is already fried. Seriously, I wanted to be there so bad, but I have been told that the only way to get from Jamaica to Atlanta is to travel. I sincerely hope you will accept this honest reason. We miss you and Shooter. Did you ever find out who Shooter’s mother is . . . . . I love you, Jessi, don’t I June? Jessi, you are one of the few truly great women I have met in my entire life. As soon as we get home, we want you to find Waylon’s clothes that he is going to wear that day, then show him where the car keys are, and come to see us. Waylon, I love you, don’t I God? Just remember if you’re ever down to your last dollar, if all your old friends turn their backs on you, if you’re so low that you wish you could die, just remember, I’ll always be . . . . . . . . .

Johnny Cash

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READ: John Lennon Writes A Letter to Waylon Jennings

Oct
1

Marty Stuart’s “Saturday Night / Sunday Morning”

October 1, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  15 Comments

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I don’t know how Marty Stuart does it. He’s like Gandalf on the back of his white steed, galloping here and there and everywhere in his pursuit to save country music. He’s scouring the country to secure important country music artifacts for preservation. He’s opening a cultural center in his hometown. He’s starring in The Marty Stuart Show and touring constantly. And here he is releasing a double album through his Superlatone record label.

Saturday Night / Sunday Morning unfolds just like its title implies. The first album is the secular country music fare you’ve come used to hearing from Marty Stuart with his mainstay backing band of recent years The Fabulous Superlatives, where the telecasters are loud and twangy, and the style is honky tonk and traditional. Then the second album unfolds very much like you would expect if you’ve heard Marty Stuart and the Superlatives perform their version of rocking country Gospel and a cappella compositions with their captivating four-part harmonies. It’s Gospel, but it’s Marty Stuart Gospel. It’s electric, with a vitality and energy not always heard in the discipline.

Like his mentor Johnny Cash, as Marty Stuart has grown older, he’s evidenced an increasingly deeper appreciation for Gospel music. Most any Marty Stuart album is going to boast a Gospel song or two, but with this release he takes the time to make an entire album of religiously-inspired music. Marty actually released another Gospel album called The Gospel Music of Marty Stuart somewhat quietly in April that includes live performances of many recognizable Gospel songs regularly performed on The Marty Stuart Show. But Saturday Night / Sunday Morning is Stuart putting his personal stamp on Gospel, and making sure to serve both sides of his fan base by not just including Gospel songs exclusively.

If you think about it, this strategy is pretty smart. Unfortunately, some listeners are turned off when they hear an album is only going to include religious material. You combine two albums together, and you can lead right into it since folks are already listening. It’s like your mother giving you sugar with the medicine. Next thing you know, you’re appreciating the Gospel music just as much as Marty’s other stuff, if not more.

marty-stuart-saturday-night-sunday-morningSaturday Night / Sunday Morning should not be considered a concept album. There’s no deep-seated story with recurring characters or themes referenced throughout like Marty’s landmark concept album The Pilgrim from 1999. The two albums are more just a style and approach delineation, though like all of Marty’s music, there are still important themes and messages to heed, hard lessons learned, harrowing stories, and personal awakenings to be had amongst these 23 new tracks.

Marty gives us a lot of music to crunch through in this release, and a lot of notable appearances. Included on Saturday Night / Sunday Morning beyond the Fabulous Superlatives is Hall of Famer Hargus “Pig” Robbins on piano, who makes appearances throughout the Saturday Night album. Both Hargus and and Willie Nelson’s long-time harmonica player Mickey Raphael pretty much carry the second song “Geraldine.” The great Mavis Staples makes an important appearance to begin the Sunday Morning portion of the release, lending her vocal talents to the classic “Uncloudy Day.” And Evelyn Hubbard also shows up on the Gospel album. Who is Evelyn Hubbard you ask? Well she’s a pastor at the Commerce Missionary Baptist Church in Robinsonville, Mississippi of course.

Saturday Night / Sunday Morning begins with Marty Stuart reviving the sound that has graced his records since enlisting the Superlatives as his backing band. Though people talk about the great guitar-slinging frontmen of country music today like Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, the combination of Marty Stuart and “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan makes for about the best Telecaster-based country music you can find these days, and based not just off of technique, but off of tone and taste. Since Saturday Night is chased by Gospel, Marty and the boys put the pedal down on the first album and rarely let off. Think of old school honky tonk country rock.

The middle of this album gets just a little bit sleepy. There’s a decent amount of covers on this record, and in stretches you feel like Marty is doing a little too much interpreting of old song styles than offering more original-sounding material like on recent albums. But there’s not a slouch anywhere on this track list either.

Sunday Morning continuously builds toward the end of the album, to where the brilliant four part harmonies of Marty, “Cousin” Kenny, “Handsome” Harry Stinson, and “Apostle” Paul Martin unfold into some brilliant, and spine-tingling works of inspirational music. For years the foursome has been performing one of the best renditions of “Angels Rock Me To Sleep” ever bestowed to human ears, and we finally get a recorded version of this masterpiece. And the album resolves in the mostly-a cappella original “Heaven” that is so haunting and touching, it should be considered one of the essential recordings of Marty Stuart’s entire career.

Once again Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives prove they are at the core of keeping the traditions of country music alive, while doing so in a manner that is energetic, inviting, informed, and broad-based where people of all stripes—the Saturday night and Sunday morning people—can come together and enjoy the gift of good country music together.

1 3/4 of 2 Guns Up.

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Purchase Saturday Night / Sunday Morning from Bandcamp

Purchase Saturday Night / Sunday Morning from Amazon

Sep
29

George Jones Museum Coming To Downtown Nashville

September 29, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  6 Comments

george-jones1The George Jones Museum and Event Center is coming to downtown Nashville.

This is the news relayed from George’s widow, Nancy Jones, who announced today that she has spent $4.35 million on two pieces of adjacent property at 128 and 130 Second Ave. N. in Nashville that was the former home of the Graham Central Station nightclub complex. The property is right near the Cumberland River, and within walking distance of both the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the recently opened Johnny Cash museum. Early plans call for a 44,000 sq. ft. facility that would include event space, a music venue, restaurant, and gift shop, all to commemorate the legacy of country music legend George Jones who passed away on April 26th, 2013.

“We are overjoyed to share George’s legacy and memory with the Nashville community,” Nancy Jones said in a statement. “We hope that this will draw George’s friends and fans worldwide to our great city. George and I made this our home, and he would be happy to know that we found a home to continue his legacy in the heart of Music City.”

The three-story building that currently resides on the 1/4-acre lot was shut down in March by Nashville police after it was deemed to be a public nuisance because of “persistent criminal activity” according to The Tennessean. Called The Hooper Building, it has a 3rd floor rooftop patio that overlooks the Cumberland River and Nashville’s Riverfront Park. The building was originally built in 1924 and was owned previously by the Callen Trust. Nancy Jones is currently working with designers on how to move forward to reconfigure the space for the museum’s needs, and expects to have more information about what country music fans can expect from the new museum in the coming weeks and months.

The Johnny Cash Museum, which opened at 119 3rd Ave S in downtown Nashville in May of 2013, has been a great addition to the area. As Nashville has experienced dramatic growth over the last few years, many older and historic properties are getting bulldozed in favor of condominium complexes and other new developments. The George Jones museum will be another positive addition to downtown Nashville’s historic neighborhood.

READ: George Jones & His Notorious Riding Lawnmower

The Hooper Building in downtown Nashville:

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via Google Maps

Sep
21

“Country Roads” Documentary Features Justin Townes Earle

September 21, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  9 Comments

country-roads-the-heartbeat-of-americaWhen it comes to country music documentaries, especially when they center around often-overlooked independent artists, European filmmakers don’t just have American filmmakers beat, the sad prognosis is that there’s just very few if any American filmmakers to compete with. For whatever reason, the collective will to raise the capital to chronicle American roots music exists in much greater numbers in the Old World than in country music’s place of origin. Country music ambassadors like the recently-passed George Hamilton IV planted the seeds of appeal for the authenticity of American country music and roots, and that desire has remain steadfast over the years, and manifested into material support for artists in both the performance and journalistic realm.

Working with German-based outfit Art Haus Musik, filmmaker Marieke Schroeder takes a deep dive into the American South and the artists at the forefront of the next generation in Country Roads, The Heartbeat of America. Making appearances during the 90-minute documentary are John Carter Cash, Caitlin Rose, her mother and songwriter Liz Rose, Woody Guthrie’s daughter Norah Guthrie, Kevin Costner, Papa Joe and the Carter Family Fold, The Ryman Auditorium, Robert’s Western World in Nashville and Brazilbilly, and most prominently, Justin Townes Earle in possibly the most intimate look at the 2nd generation performer we have seen to date. Other notables that make quick appearances include Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley, and Miranda Lambert in the capacity of The Pistol Annies, Amanda Shires, and Lisa Marie Presley. Stock footage of Johnny Cash and others is also used in the film.

Caitlin Rose

Caitlin Rose

Acting as a guide through both the explanation of the roots of country music and the streets of Nashville, Justin Townes Earle and many others try best to define “country” for a foreign audience in the film. If there was a second most-featured character in the film, it would be Woody Guthrie. From Earle’s deep study of the man, to the appearance of his daughter, to his influence on the music being made even today, Woody, and to an extent The Carter Family, become the centerpiece-in-spirit of the story. The Country Roads DVD also includes an entire Justin Townes Earle concert performed at Pace University on October 26th and 27th of 2012 called “The Spirit of Woody Guthrie.” The presentation doesn’t include Woody Guthrie songs, but instead features songs inspired by Woody’s musical legacy and performed by Justin.

Something else Country Roads affords for Americana music aficionados is intimate footage of Justin Townes Earle recording his 2012 album Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now, and the actual studio session where Caitlin Rose is singing her now highly-regarded Arctic Monkeys cover of “Piledriver Waltz.” This tells you that the film was shot roughly two-and-a-half years ago, and so in some ways you feel like you’re looking a little bit towards the past, though the film presents itself as being a relevant, here-and-now project, making for a slightly unusual sense of timing. Both Caitlin and Justin Townes Earle have subsequently put out newer music.

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Justin Townes Earle

“This is one of our few untouched things in Nashville—RCA Studio ‘B’,” Justin explains in one portion of the film while standing amidst the heart of Nashville’s Music Row. “But then you just look around at all the crap that has been built around it. This is like the belly of the beast right here. This is where all the bad ideas are thought up. This is where all the bad country songs come from. This is where they’re all recorded. In all these buildings, this is where all the ‘geniuses’ that are thinking all the crap up and what they’re gonna do … It’s amazing to me that the people that work here now can hold their heads up, that they can walk these streets and think that if Hank Williams wasn’t here right now he wouldn’t whip their fucking ass.”

Country Roads is exquisitely shot, and does a great job capturing the dirty details of the South from a cinematic standpoint. The film is interspersed with rolling footage taken from the vantage point of a traveler on country roads, presenting both the most humble of existences in the form of outdated singlewides on stilts and backwoods cabins, to stately new upper class suburbs. Filmmaker Marieke Schroder, who in the mid 80′s lived in the United States in a school exchange and discovered the emotionalism present in Southern culture, makes stops along these roads to talk to common people: shopkeepers, the unemployed and retired, oyster fishermen dealing with the aftermath of the BP oil spill, and others. In these encounters you get a glimpse of the South beyond the music.

John Carter Cash

John Carter Cash

What the American audience and seasoned country music listeners should approach this film with is the understanding that at its core this movie is not made for them. It is made to be a primer to country music and the American South. The narration of the film comes across in the English version as quite presumptive about Southern culture and certain events, romanticizing the plight of the recent economic downturn and the depravity the South finds itself in, as well as getting other specific details a little off. For example, a couple of times the film says that Southerners now mostly hang out at gas stations. Though that may be true for some communities, that is not necessarily true for the entire Southern region. Some things may have been lost in the translation, while other broad generalities made in the narration may actually be a concise way to explain the complexities of the South to a foreign and unfamiliar audience.

What the established country music audience does get from Country Roads is a quite valuable and involved portrait of Justin Townes Earle, and a lesser, but still insightful glimpse at Caitlin Rose, John Carter Cash, The Carter Family Fold, and other important cultural players and institutions.

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Purchase Country Roads: The Heartbeat of America

Sep
18

Review – Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze” (a semi-rant)

September 18, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  110 Comments

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Warning: Some Language

At this point, Florida Georgia Line has settled quite nicely into being the great American sedative of our generation. Just as producer Joey Moi did with Nickelback before them, this music affords a vacation from self-reflection or truly beneficial thought. ISIS is beheading people in the Middle East and engaging in horrific genocide, the economic disparity between social classes continues to increase and has never been more pronounced, even stalwart institutions of American culture like the NFL are leaving the populace in doubt. But that’s okay, you can put on the latest Florida Georgia Line single and all the girls are hot, all the guys get laid, and libations and narcotics are at your beck and call. This is the type of vacationary audio lubrication that keeps the engine of corporate America purring along just fine. Don’t get down; get high and buy shit.

Florida Georgia Line would be perfectly happy with continuing to put out Bro-Country “dirt road, beer, tailgate” schlock. After all, they’ve let it be known multiple times that they’re dumfounded by all the Bro-Country critcism. If stadiums are filling up then it must be working and will work forever, but Scott Borchetta put out a company memo to leave that stuff with Dallas Davidson and Chase Rice to sink with, so what we get instead from Florida Georgia Line’s new single “Sun Daze” is a reversion back to the stupid-ass beach bum singalongs—aka the same garbage Bro-Country replaced. Hell, “Bacardi” and “flip flops” are much easier to find things to rhyme with than “tailgate.” Screw that we’re actually heading into the Winter, it’s always sunny in shitty country music la la land.

The diehards will never admit it, but when you boil down the music of “Sun Daze,” it’s pretty much harmless. Of course it’s not country, but at this point, pointing that out feels like a cliché in itself. Imagine the music that’s playing when “The Fool” of the Tarot deck goes carefree stepping off the side of a cliff. That’s “Sun Daze.” But it’s not terrible. In fact there’s an extended dobro solo at the end of the song, which is just about as much or more solo instrumentation than you will hear in most any country song these days. This is a stupid song, but there’s space in the music world for these type of mindless hum-alongs.

Where “Sun Daze” turns aggressively awful is in the lyricism. Now to be fair, there’s nothing in “Sun Daze” that we haven’t been hearing for years in pop radio or in Parental Advisory fare, so let’s not freak out about the downfall of civilization. But the problem is that country has now taken over as the leader in raunchy innuendo and overt lyrical references. Time was country music was the safe location on the dial, and KISS-FM is what your 4-year-old didn’t need to hear. Now the pop station is playing inspirational and confidence-building tunes from Lorde and Meghan Trainor, and country is the home of the unfettered smut fest.

If I’m lucky, yeah, I might get laid.
The way that it’s goin’ that keg gon’ be floatin’.

All I wanna do today is wear my favorite shades and get stoned.

Kris Kristofferson with the help of Johnny Cash in 1970 already crossed the Rubicon of calling themselves “stoned,” and the result was the CMA for Song of the Year. But there was also a story behind their references, and a deep and dour feeling of self-loathing and reflection, if not a diagnosis of the moral depravity one found oneself in. The simple fact is “Sun Daze” needs this bawdy language of “get laid” and “get stoned” because that’s all it’s got to separate itself from vapid nursery rhyme. “Sun Daze” farmed a melody that was so Mother Goose, they needed to gussy it up with something controversial to have at least something that would pass for “edgy.” Talking about getting laid and stoned in a country song is simply a cry for attention, and is demographic pandering to the repressed suburban boys and girls this stupidity appeals to.

The second verse of “Sun Daze” takes it to another level.

Stir it up as we turn on some Marley
If you want you can get on Harley
I sit you up on a kitchen sink
Stick the pink umbrella in your drink

Well you’ve been anything but coy up to this point in the song fellas, why don’t you just come out and say it? You plan to stick your penis in her vagina … but all of a sudden you don’t have the testicles to spell it out.

What rank immaturity. And it does seem to make it a little worse that they’ve decided to do their pink umbrella sticking on the Lord’s day. Not to get too preachy or anything, but that is the everlasting dichotomy of country music: let loose on Saturday night, and atone on Sunday. Now let’s screw that tradition all up as well since it makes for catchy, purposely-misspelled crud jargon for über douches whose “religious” ideals are only as skin deep as their $700 bicep tattoos of Gothic crosses that are more about marketing than expression or reverence.

There’s much worse out there folks, which is sad to say in itself. That’s the evil genius about Joey Moi and Florida Georgia Line. They passed on the song “Burnin’ It Down” which the duo co-wrote (and was cut by Jason Aldean), and I don’t care if it shot to #1 because the label sent a Brinks truck over to Clear Channel driven by hookers with cocaine—”Burnin’ It Down” is a polarizing song that is destined for the waste bin of country music history because deep down it’s just really bad. But “Sun Daze” is America’s next ear worm. Of course it sucks, but Florida Georgia Line once again proves its ability to craft an engaging melody to enrapture America’s gullible middle. And the descent of country music registers yet another low water mark.

Two guns down.

(aka, any points for melody construction are erased by the transgressions in the lyricism)

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And P.S.: Quit naming of monogenre strings of artist together like, “Rock a little bit of hip-hop and Haggard and Jagger.” That’s now as cliché as pickup trucks and beer.

“Sun Daze” is written by Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, and Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure and Sarah Buxton—who should all know better.

Sep
16

Johnny Cash’s Black Rolls-Royce Up For Sale

September 16, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  5 Comments

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The Man in Black may be gone, but his legacy lives on, and so do many of the personal artifacts that tell the story of Johnny Cash that he left behind. One such important piece of history is about to go to the auction block in Las Vegas: a 1970 “build-to-order” Black Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow automobile owned by Johnny Cash that has quite the interesting story.

Between 1969 and 1971, Johnny Cash hosted a total of 58 episodes of “The Johnny Cash Show” on ABC. All the greats of the day from country music and beyond appeared on the show, including historic appearances by people like Bob Dylan and Bob Hope. To show their appreciation, ABC purchased the Rolls-Royce in a custom black color and presented it to Johnny Cash as a gift. The automobile was a long wheelbase, long door “Saloon” model, and boasted a privacy partition, and custom “JRC” gold lettering in the rear doors. This was one serious motor coach.

johnny-cashThe vehicle was owned by Johnny Cash until about 1985 when he sold it to another private owner, and on September 25th, the car will go up for grabs to the highest bidder as part of Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auto auction at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

This is not the first time the car has been put up for sale recently. In a 2013 episode of the reality show Pawn Stars, the car was offered up for $350,000 but was passed on. The price was then reduced to $150,000, but it still wasn’t sold. The upcoming Las Vegas auction will have no reserve, so it is sure be sold this time.

There were roughly 36,000 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows produced in many different styles, but only one like Johnny Cash’s. It has a twin-carbureted 412 CID aluminum V8 engine, independent front and rear suspension, and four wheel disc brakes. It only has 32,000 original miles on the odometer, and is mostly in original condition. The hood and trunk lid were also aluminum. Included with the car are various pieces of original paperwork that have Johnny Cash’s signature on them as the official owner.

For more information on the auto auction, visit www.barrett-jackson.com.

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a twin-carbureted 412 cid aluminum V8, independent front and rear suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. – See more at: http://news.barrett-jackson.com/feature-car-johnny-cash-1970-rolls-royce-silver-shadow/#sthash.IpldtiUy.dpuf

Sep
15

How Billboard’s New Consumption Chart Could Have A Big Impact

September 15, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  31 Comments

billboardWhen Billboard implemented sweeping changes to their chart configurations in October of 2012, it was predicted at the time by many that these changes would fundamentally modify the industry in historic ways, ushering in an era where popular American music would rapidly succumb to the monogenre, and distinctions of separate genres would slowly become irrelevant. Artists who did not occupy the “crossover” realm would see diminished significance, and music would all begin to sound the same.

Subsequently that is exactly what we have seen, and the fingerprints of Billboard 2012′s rules changes can be found all over malevolent trends in country music, including the rise of “Bro-Country,” the institution of rap and EDM elements in country in a widespread manner, and the continued struggles of the genre to support and develop female artists. And country music is not alone. The Billboard rap charts have seen similar homogenization, at least in part because of the new rules. Virtually every individual genre’s charts, and thus the music itself and how it’s manufactured and marketed, have been affected in fundamental ways by these changes. And it may about to get much worse.

Many of the changes Billboard made to their charts in October of 2012 were not only necessary, they were much past due. Rating consumer interactions such as streams on Spotify and plays on YouTube were important to give both consumers and industry professionals a better illustration of the importance and performance of a given track. The problematic change was a rule governing “crossover” material. It allowed artists such as Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, and Florida Georgia Line to receive credit for radio play and other consumer activity in the pop world on the genre specific country charts. This restricted the ability for artists with no crossover appeal to be successful in their genre specific rankings, while artists that released rap remixes, or songs that appealed to pop radio as well as country to fare much greater.

But the October 2012 changes Billboard implemented didn’t fundamentally change the structure of the charts themselves. You still had an album chart, based off of how many cohesive albums—physical or digital—a given artist sold in a week period. You still had the airplay charts, which ranked songs specifically by how many spins DJ’s gave them across the country. And you had the Hot Songs chart, which now took into consideration crossover data, and a new suite of streaming and other consumer interaction data, but it was still the same fundamental chart meant to give a more broad picture of a song’s impact.

Now that all might change. Or at least, these traditional charts may be so significantly diminished in importance, they are rendered virtually insignificant, especially the album charts. And once again, with these chart changes could come fundamental musical changes from the industry to try and take advantage of these new metrics.

This new, sweeping system is currently being called the “Consumption Chart,” and it is presently being constructed by Billboard in conjunction with Nielsen SoundScan—the company that aggregates consumer data, including sales, streams, YouTube views, and other data that goes into building Billboard’s charts. Billboard and SoundScan are currently tweaking on the specifics of the new chart—one of which is how to aggregate streaming data, which is currently being tabulated by hand.  Though there is no hard and fast date of when the Consumption Chart may be rolled out, the word from HITS Daily Double is that Billboard hopes to have it in place by the very beginning of next year so that when the new music ranking system starts, it can have an entire year to give a more cohesive picture to both consumers and industry.

One of the strange aspects about Billboard’s 2012 changes is since they happened in not just the middle of a year, but in the middle of a business quarter, it created a dirty data situation where the rules governing songs changed in the middle of the game. There was also little to no warning ahead of the changes being made. Billboard’s new rules came somewhat unexpectedly and were implemented immediately. Though indications are the roll out of the Consumption Chart will wait until the end of the year, especially since Billboard and SoundScan want to give themselves proper lead time to make sure their system is road tested and debugged before being debuted to the public, there’s no guarantee we may not wake up one morning and find that the way music is measured has been massively overhauled yet again.

What Is The Billboard Consumption Chart?

To put it simply, The Billboard Consumption Chart would be a combination of an album and a song chart. Instead of just considering physical album sales to gauge an album’s performance, the new chart would take song plays from streaming data and turn them into equivalent album sales. The idea is to bridge the gap between artists who receive a lot of streaming interaction but have marginal physical sales, and artists who have strong physical sales but don’t experience a lot of streaming activity. All indications are that Billboard hopes that this new Consumption Chart will become the industry standard for rating music.

According to HITS Daily Double:

The weekly chart will combine album and track sales with audio and video streams, assigning an equivalent-album value to each, as in the TEA metric, theoretically providing a more accurate and comprehensive representation of modern-day music consumption … Billboard’s album sales chart will remain in place, but most observers believe it will take on decreasing importance over time as the business acclimates itself to the new system … In some respects, the consumption chart will mirror the present sales charts in that sales and streaming tend to correlate, with certain exceptions … Overall, the most dramatic effect of the consumption chart will be to lengthen the tails of bona fide hits by measuring their aftermarket impact, potentially providing the labels with additional time in which to market these hits.

A mock up of the new chart was made last week, and the biggest takeaway was that albums for artists whose consumers mostly listen to songs on Spotify and YouTube instead of actually purchasing the album received a significant boost in the new metric by making “album equivalent” gains from the amount of streams and plays songs received. For example, the album Settle by the EDM duo Disclosure went from #213 on the album chart based purely off of sales, all the way up to #64 based off of these “album equivalent” streams and plays. That is a 149-spot difference just from the new Consumption Chart reporting method. Another example is Katy Perry’s album Prism, which moved from #61 to #16.

How The Consumption Chart Could Hurt Older and Independent Artists

What this all means is that artists who do well with physical album sales and digital downloads could be significantly diminished in this new system, while artists who primarily have their music heard through streaming methods will see a significant boost. This could immediately put older artists, and independent artists at a significant disadvantage.

Recently we have seen older country artists such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Billy Joe Shaver set career chart records with their album releases because these artist’s older fan bases are one of the few demographics left that actually buy albums. But since these artist’s streaming footprint is significantly less, this new Consumption Chart would see them fare significantly worse compared to the current system.

Same could be said for many independent artists like Old Crow Medicine Show, Sturgill Simpson or Jason Isbell, whose fan bases are more likely to buy physical albums to help support the artist. These artists have seen significant boosts from chart performances recently, and this could go away under the new system. Artists who rely heavily on vinyl sales like Jack White could also see diminishing returns from the new charting system.

Since these charts are used to gauge the importance and impact an artist has in the marketplace, a diminishing of them on the charts could affect their overall sales, or their acknowledgement by the industry. Once again, just like Billboard’s 2012 chart rules, the new system very well may create even a greater discrepancy between the have’s and have not’s of music, and see more attention paid to the biggest artists, the biggest songs, and the biggest albums.

One big question for the Consumption Chart is if it takes into consideration the greater commitment a consumer shows by purchasing a physical album or downloading an entire copy instead of streaming an individual song or consuming it in a free environment such as YouTube. Does it also take into consideration that these physical and digital sales generally result in more revenue for the artist, the labels, and the industry as a whole? Where streaming is currently gutting the industry, physical sales are one of the the last bastions of revenue, including vinyl sales which are on the rapid increase.

Once again, certain changes are probably necessary to Billboard’s charts to take into consideration the new realities of consumer’s consumption habits when it comes to music. But it shouldn’t be at the expense of artists who are already struggling under the current system.

The good news is that this Consumption Chart has yet to be implemented, and so there is still time to understand what its impact might be and game plan for it, or even to influence the direction it might take before it is rolled out. This opportunity did not pose itself in 2012.

And as Billboard will probably point out, there’s no plans to put away the purely sales-based album chart. But many industry experts believe it will be significantly diminished under the new system. Some believe this new system could be dead on arrival, while others think it is necessary to keep Billboard’s relevance in the marketplace alive.

As HITS Daily Double asks, “In what ways will attempts be made to manipulate the new chart, and what new games will labels play in order to get a leg up on the competition? Will the consumption chart mean the end of the SoundScan-era emphasis on the first week of release, or will the majors figure out new ways to max out that total?”

Either way, if the changes made by Billboard in 2012 were any indication, the Consumption Chart could have a significant impact on music much beyond simply how it is measured.

Sep
13

Michael Goodman Carries On What Nashville Left Behind

September 13, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  2 Comments

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It’s is one of the complaints from contemporary music listeners that all popular music is beginning to sound the same no matter what station you tune in. Popular music is coalescing into one gobby monogenre blob. But the truth is when you go back in time to popular American music’s founding, before rabid commercialization really grabbed it’s foothold, it was sort of the same story. Before country was country, and rock & roll was rock & roll, there was little difference between the two. Bands like Maddox Brothers & Rose played both “hillbilly” music and “boogie woogie” with little to no distinction as separate art forms. Elvis Presley started out as a rockabilly artist and went rock. Johnny Cash started as a rockabilly artist and went country. In many respects, rock and country were the same thing before they were ever split and combined together again, especially in Memphis, TN.

Michael Goodman is a good modern illustration of this primitive era of American popular music where rock and country were virtually the same. As an actor, Goodman has portrayed Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Carl Perkins in the acclaimed Million Dollar Quartet theatrical production and other places, and can play all the with haunting accuracy. This exemplifies both Goodman’s flexibility, and depth of knowledge about those formative country and rock years, and he brings this all to life again in Unbreakable Heart. Funny yet formidable, sad but rocking, Michael Goodman smoothly takes you on a musical time warp to the roiling 50′s to both cut a rug and cry in your beer in a time when music was much better across the board and became immediately timeless.

michael-goodman-unbreakable-heartUnbreakable Heart almost feels like two separate albums fashioned together. Though “rockabilly” may be the easy way to describe the one half, this album is a little less Brian Setzer and Reverend Horton Heat, and a little more Nick Curran and JD McPherson. He stays a little more rock than billy so to speak without reaching into the punk vibe. There’s an Everly Brothers-sounding tune called “Everly Avenue” and a boisterous joke song called “Cock Block Ninja.” Comedy and wit is one of the calling cards of Michael Goodman’s music and something that separates him from the crowd. “Kissed A Lot” is another of the album’s really good old-school rock and roll cuts.

But where Michael Goodman won over this critic was with his country fare. Coming at you hard and straight, this is traditional country music in every sense, yet approached with a freshness and enthusiasm so it doesn’t feel drabby or anachronistic. Goodman lists people such as Waylon Jennings, David Allan Coe, and Jerry Reed as influences, but what you mostly get on Unbreakable Heart is straight-laced throwback traditional stuff. Growing up in Kentucky, Goodman was surrounded by bluegrass bands and church choirs. Singing and country music was at the core of his upbringing, and this comes through in tracks like “Drinking About You,” “Why Don’t You Love Me,” and “Lyin’ Cryin’.” He gets a little closer to the Outlaw era with songs such as “Carrying On What Nashville Left Behind” and “I’m Just Country,” but it still feels more traditional than country rock. “Old Damn Games” is where Goodman begins to venture more towards the 70′s vibe than the 50′s.

There are a few songs that bridge the old-school country and rock worlds, but this “together, yet separated” approach to country and rock makes for a very fun, and spicy album that has you guessing at what’s coming up next. And whether it’s the country twang or the rock and roll warble, Goodman’s interpretation of the music and his singing is spot on, and he’s a great guitar player to boot.

Concerns about Unbreakable Heart are mild, but he could have spent a little more time working out his approach to “Everly Avenue,” and maybe solicited someone else to sing with him instead of trying to pull off the close harmony himself. Also some of the songs, especially the old school country tracks feel like they step down in production quality from the other songs, possibly to make them sound “old,” but the volume and mixing left a little to be desired.

Like walking into Sun Studios circa 1956, Michael Goodman and Unbreakable Heart take you back to a time when the music of American was uncorrupted, the sentiments were sincere, and the promise was unending.

1 3/4 of 2 Guns Up.

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Preview & Purchase Unbreakable Heart on Amazon

Preview & Purchase Tracks on CD Baby

Sep
7

Tom Hiddleston Gives First Impression of Hank Williams Role

September 7, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  33 Comments

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UPDATE: Hank3 to Tom Hiddleston: “You Got No Soul or Moan In Your Voice”

When movie actor Tom Hiddleston was first cast in the role to play Hank Williams in the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light, there was concern of whether a British actor could pull off the part of the Southern born and bred Hillbilly Shakespeare. Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, or Hank3, spoke out about the matter, saying that a Southern man should be cast in the role. Though Hank3 gave respect to Hiddleston who was taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he was concerned he couldn’t evoke the pain Hank Williams felt as a Southerner. This concern has also been expressed by other Hank Williams and country music fans.

Now we have received our first taste of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, and some are applauding, and some have started the furor over the casting anew. Though Hiddleston seemed to do a fine job singing, some Hank Williams fans are not feeling the similarities in the style.

tom-hiddlestonHiddleston made a surprise appearance at the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan on Saturday (9-7) and performed a rendition of the Hank Williams classic “Move It On Over.” On Sunday, Hiddleston returned to Wheatland with mentor Rodney Crowell—who has been personally working with Hiddleston—to sing a version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

The production for I Saw The Light has already secured the rights to Hank’s songs from publishing company Sony ATV, and have said that along with Hank’s original recordings, Hiddleston will be performing certain songs in the movie live.

Far from some of the dated and shoestring budget productions centered around the life of country music’s first superstar, I Saw The Light is set to be a full budget feature film in the same vein of the Johnny Cash biopic I Walk The Line. The movie is based off of the biography from Colin Escott, and is written and directed by Marc Abraham. Production is set to begin in October in Louisiana. The ambition and expanse of the film is one of the reasons many Hank Williams fans are showing so much interest in the casting of the iconic country music figure.

Tom Hiddleston has said about the role,

“The film is about the man behind the myth, the power of his music, the sheer voltage of his talent and charisma, and his formidable demons,” Hiddleston says. “He worked hard, played hard, lived hard — there were women, there was whiskey — but when he sang about being in the doghouse in ‘Move It On Over’, or about his heartbreak in ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’, it came from an honest place. Hank’s life has a tragic arc, but in simple truth, he was a genius: a star that burned twice as bright and lived half as long. It’s a huge role for me and a huge responsibility. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

Though there is still a month before production begins, this video below is an early sign of what people might expect of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams.

UPDATE: Hank3 to Tom Hiddleston: “You Got No Soul or Moan In Your Voice”

Sep
6

10 Badass David Allan Coe Moments (75th Birthday Special)

September 6, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  18 Comments

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The question about David Allan Coe has never been if he’s a badass, but if he’s a little too badass. Some of his stories are hard to believe. Others are even harder to validate. And others are hard to herald because of the malevolent nature of the occurrences or outcomes. David Allan Coe is a living dichotomy. He’s a scary, weird, train wreck of a man; one of these people we all knew growing up in school or in the neighborhood that was always in someone’s face and that could twist off at any moment. At the same time, and for some of the same reasons, David Allan Coe is an American treasure, and a country music legend. And country music, and the rest of the world, would be a lot less of a colorful place without him. Because whether you like him, respect him, or hate him, there will never be another person or performer in country music or the American culture like David Allan Coe.

READ: Look, This is the Deal with David Allan Coe (An Editorial)

More in this series:

 


1. Spending 20 Years In Reform School & Prison

david-allan-coe-prisonIn a genre of music where what you’ve done and how you lived goes a long way into putting legitimacy behind the songs you sing, David Allan Coe’s story is arguably filled with more street cred than any other major performer in the history of the genre. Institutionalized from 9-years-old in reform schools, David Allan Coe committed crimes such as robbery and grand theft auto in early adulthood, and ended up in and out of jail and prison for two decades. Though Coe claims a lot of miraculous meetings with former and future famous individuals and other rowdy incidents while in the pen, including killing a man in self-defense and spending time on death row (see at bottom), one claim that is widely accepted is that while incarcerated in Ohio, Coe met fellow Ohio native Screamin’ Jay Hawkins who encouraged Coe to pursue songwriting. David’s rough and tumble early life would go on to lay the foundation for future songs that would help shape the sound of country music. When he finally got out of prison in 1967, he stayed out, and put together one of the most legendary, curious, and colorful country music careers the genre has ever seen.


2. Living In A Hearse / Parking It at the Grand Ole Opry

After getting out of prison in 1967, David Allan Coe moved to Nashville to pursue his country music career. He was homeless at the time, and lived in the back of a red Cadillac hearse that he parked regularly in front of the Ryman Auditorium—aka the “Mother Church of Country Music” where the Grand Ole Opry was conducted at the time. Crudely decaled to advertise the Opry, as the crowds came and went, there was David Allan Coe busking in front of the famed venue. It was his way of getting the attention of the industry. What was the result? It worked. Plantation Records recognized Coe and signed him to the label. Coe’s first two albums—Penitentiary Blues and Requiem for a Harlequin—were through Plantation, and that was the big break he needed. Later he singed with the major label Columbia Records.

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3. Being The First Country Artist to Have and All Girl Backup Band

That’s right. The man that would probably would be fingered as country music’s biggest misogynist had country music’s first female backing band called the Ladysmiths. Though they only lasted a short time too early in Coe’s career for many people to notice, he still deserves the distinction.

Not only was it an all-girl band, but they were from New Jersey,” David Allan Coe once said in an interview. “Seven years later Porter Wagner [Wagoner] had his TV show, and had an all girl band and that was a big deal. Porter was famous so he got the credit for being the first to use an all-girl Country band. Nobody paid attention when I did it. I wasn’t famous – and it didn’t matter to me.”

Of course, you have to balance out this info with the fact that Coe once also claimed to have as many as seven wives, and once claimed allegiance to the Mormon Church to justify his polygamy. As you can imagine, the Mormons were not happy.

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From Michael Bane’s “The Outlaws”


4. Recording “The Ride”

If you’re anything like me, when you first heard this song, and when you realized Coe was singling about Hank Williams, it was one of those singular musical moments that made your spine tingle and the hair on your arms stand on end. Written by Gary Gentry and J.B. Detterline Jr. and released in February of 1983, “The Ride” simply wasn’t just another great David Allan Coe song, it was the one that revitalized his struggling career at the time, and put him back on the mainstream map.

Columbia Records had fitted Coe with legendary Countrypolitan producer Billy Sherrill. The Coe / Sherril collaboration was a success, and along with another hit of the era “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile,” “The Ride” drove David Allan Coe to the top of the country charts. The song made it to #4 on the Billboard Country chart, and spent 19 weeks in the chart.


5. Writing “Take This Job & Shove It”

One of the biggest songs of David Allan Coe’s career, and Johnny Paycheck’s. The #1 hit (the only one of Paycheck’s career) released in October of 1977 created its own colloquial expression and snowclone that is still in practice today. It inspired a 1981 film of the same name and too many popular culture references to count. Coe released his own version of the song on his 1978 record Family Album and an alternative version called “Take This Job And Shove It Too” that included the line, “Paycheck you may be a thing of the past”—a veiled stab at Johnny who Coe felt betrayed him by alluding to the public that he wrote the song.


6. Living In A Cave After IRS Seizure

David Allan Coe once had a house in Key West with other songwriters such as Shel Silverstein and Jimmy Buffett. In fact it was when listening to Silverstein’s off-color comedy songs that Coe was inspired to record his two X-rated albums, Nothing’s Sacred in 1978, and the Underground Album in 1982. Coe had a falling out with Jimmy Buffett when Buffett accused Coe of stealing the melody of his song “Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” for his song “Divers Do It Deeper.” Buffet later said, “I would have sued him, but I didn’t want to give Coe the pleasure of having his name in the paper.”

Coe nonetheless had hard times coming. In 1990 his contract with Columbia Records came to and end, and after a bitter divorce and troubles with the IRS, Coe’s Key West home was seized and he was thrown out on the street. With no place to go, David Alan Coe lived in a cave for several months in Tennessee, or at least that is how the story goes. Some have questioned the validity of Coe’s cave-living claims.


7. Being Criminally Overlooked for Writing & Recording Powerful Love Songs

Whenever you say the name “David Allan Coe,” people immediately think of his hellrasing Outlaw songs, confederate flags and the use of the ‘N’ word, his X-rated albums, prison time, and many other seedy events that have sensationalized his life and country career. But what might be the most underrated part of David Allan Coe’s contributions is his ability to write and record some of the best, most touching love songs the country genre has ever heard. The breadth of David Allan Coe’s songwriting ability, and his ability to perform a heartfelt tune when called upon it is something that even the most hardened David Allan Coe detractors could find beauty in.

Coe’s first big success in country music came as the songwriter for Tanya Tucker’s #1 hit in March of 1974, “Would You Lay Me Down (In A Field Of Stone).” Coe’s own version of the song is also highly regarded by singers and songwriters. His recording of “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile” written by Johnny Cunningham was Coe’s highest-charting single in his career, hitting #2 on the Billboard Country charts, and Coe’s “Jody Like A Melody” rarely leaves a dry eye in the house.

David Allan Coe’s long relationship with producer Billy Sherrill, who was known as one of the founders of the refined Countrypolitan sound, resulted in some beautiful recordings that may not balance out all the bad he’s done in his life, but certainly speak to the wide expanse of Coe’s talent and contributions.


8. Standing Up to Casino Security Guards in Iowa

In June of 2008, David Allan Coe was at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Iowa with his girlfriend (now wife) during a stopover between shows. The altercation happened after Coe hit the jackpot on a slot machine. His wife stayed with the machine to collect the jackpot, and Coe moved on to another slot to continue playing. When the casino workers came to deliver the jackpot, they told David’s girlfriend that he had to be present because he was the one who pushed the button. When the casino workers found Coe at the other slot machine is when the trouble started. As Coe was trying to give the casino proper ID, a young security guard became combative with Coe. To avoid an altercation Coe began to walk away, but security cornered him, wrestled him to the ground, detained him, and charged him with Disorderly Conduct and other charges.

Bad thing for the security is the entire thing was caught on tape, and completely corroborated David Allan Coe’s side of the story. It clearly shows security unnecessarily wrestling Coe to the ground, and all charges were dropped. Coe blames the incident for why he has to walk with a cane, and still down while performing. He counter sued the casino.

The video of the incident is pretty astounding.


9. Partnering with Pantera for Rebel Meets Rebel

Yes, there’s many partnerships and collaborations in music where two famous artists or bands get together and do something that is usually really exciting on paper, but the results musically are fairly negligible beyond the novelty of the collaboration. Rebel Meets Rebel took it a step further, and has withstood the test of time for many fans of both David Allan Coe and metal band Pantera.

Recorded between 1999 and 2003, and not released until May 2nd, 2006—two years after Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was brutally murdered on stage. This wasn’t David Allan Coe playing metal, or Pantera playing country. This was a true collaboration that mixed influences from both disciplines. Hard-edged and unapologetic, it is mostly a meal for the red meat crowd, but stands above most other country/metal collaborations as one that got it right.


10. Surviving a Horrific Car Crash

If you need any further evidence of just how badass David Allan Coe is, just appreciate that in March of 2013, David Allan Coe was broadsided by a Peterbilt 18-wheeler in Ocala, Florida and live to tell the tale. The impact sent Coe’s 2011 black Suburban all the way into a nearby parking lot, which the semi ended up on its side and wrapped around a cement pole. Coe suffered cracked ribs and bruised kidneys, and spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, but was back performing months later. Just looking at the pictures from the accident, it’s a wonder Coe made it out alive. A badass indeed.

Read More About Coe’s Accident.

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BONUS #11 – Recording “You Never Even Call Me By My Name”


Bonus #12 – Being Part of the 1% Outlaw Motorcycle Gang

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Badass DAC Moments That Are Probably Not True

Taught Charles Manson How To Play Guitar - Though David Allan Coe claims he taught Charles Manson how to play while they were both in prison together, there’s no evidence to support that the two were in prison together ever, let alone that Coe would have the kind of access to Manson to teach him. Another man Alvin “Creepy” Karpis is given credit by most sources for teaching Manson guitar while in prison.

Killed A Man In Prison / Served Time on Death Row - This has been one of Coe’s most contentious claims; sworn to be true by him, but refuted by journalists, penitentiary workers, and legal experts. According to Coe, while in prison a man tried to rape him, so Coe killed him in self-defense. When a story in Rolling Stone in the 70′s refuted Coe’s claims, he wrote a song in response called, “I’d Like To Kick The Shit Out Of You.”


More in this series:

Sep
2

Justin Bieber Thinks It’s Cute to Mock Country

September 2, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  65 Comments

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Warning: Language

Once again the internet is going ape shit over another Justin Bieber arrest. Apparently he was joy riding his ATV in Canada on his father’s land when he thought he’d ram a minivan and assault the occupants on Friday as pop starlet Selena Gomez held on to his adorable little hips for dear life. Meanwhile the rest of us were working jobs. The fact that this asshole thinks he can do just about anything while hiding behind an army of bodyguards and lawyers is nauseating enough, but now he’s decided to add country music to his cultural lampoon list, along with Ann Frank, Argentina, Australian landmarks, and the rest of the world when he visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Japan dedicated to the memory of war criminals.

Last week Bieber, shirtless and bored, and joined by B-level rapping prospects—like he always seems to have hanging around him in an attempt to make it look like he has friends and any semblance of street cred—decided to take to Instagram and post a snippet of his mocking rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” With a pursed and insulting smirk indicative of a 14-year-old who’s never had his ass kicked and hasn’t gone through the most basic adult cognitive development, Bieber sings the chorus of “Ring of Fire” while strumming chords on a guitar.

Then later he posted a picture of himself wearing a cowboy hat sideways, saying “They gave me the sad cowboy hat.” (see above)

Yeah I know, let’s not give this little shit any more attention than he deserves. I just want to let him know that if he thinks it’s cute to mock country, or if he has any designs on “going country,” which he has talked about in the past, he will meet stiff and spirited resistance from this particular quadrant of the American media. Country music may be cute to you Bieber, but to some of us, it is a part of our culture and heritage. So do me a favor, and keep Johnny Cash out of your adolescent and vacuous mouth unless you’re willing to sing with respect.

Aug
24

Merle Haggard Slams The “Boogie Boogie Wham-Bam” in Country

August 24, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  30 Comments

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Call it Bro-Country, call it just plain bad, but Merle Haggard apparently prefers to call the puss oozing from the open sore that is modern-day radio country “Boogie Boogie Wham-Bam.” And hey, he’s Merle freaking Haggard, so he can call it whatever the hell he wants.

While speaking with David Menconi of Chapel Hill’s News Observer ahead of his show at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Memorial Hall Saturday night, when asked if he listens to much modern country, Merle Haggard said:

“I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t really listen to the radio at all anymore. Once in a while, I’ll scan it and I don’t understand what they’re doing. I can’t find the entertainment in it. I know these guys, occasionally play shows with them and they’re all good people. But I wonder if that record they’re making is something they can actually do. Too much boogie boogie wham-bam and not enough substance. It’s all the same musicians, too, probably eight to ten musicians play on every record you hear. For a musician hearing things that way, you can tell when a certain guitarist is playing. I know more about the musicians than the artists, actually.”

It’s all the same eight to ten songwriters too, and this is one of the many reasons most modern-day radio country sounds the same. Merle’s observation that I wonder if that record they’re making is something they can actually do” is similar to Tom Petty’s recent observations about modern music and the infiltration of electronic elements when he said, “You put your name on it, but you didn’t do that.

Though Merle says the “lack of radio play for the new stuff makes it difficult,” he is still working on new music, and has multiple projects planned.

“We’ve got four different album projects that are all almost finished, and we’ll bring them out in continuity … You know, if they put on a new song of mine, they’ve gotta take off ‘Mama Tried.’ So I’m kind of fighting myself on new releases.”

Merle has also been rumored to be a part of a “Three Musketeers” project with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.

Merle is not known for being as outspoken about the direction of country music as some of his elder country peers, but he has been known to get heated in the past. In one legendary moment, he told CBS Records executive Rick Blackburn, “Who do you think you are? You’re the son-of-a-bitch that sat at that desk over there and fired Johnny Cash. Let it go down in history that you’re the dumbest son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met.”

READ: 10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/21/4086524_merle-haggard-wont-back-down.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/21/4086524_merle-haggard-wont-back-down.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/21/4086524_merle-haggard-wont-back-down.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
Aug
22

More Waylon Jennings Artifacts Revealed in Estate Auction

August 22, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  4 Comments

remebering-waylon-auctionIn early August it was revealed that Guernsey’s Auctions out of New York City was preparing to auction off 2,000 items from the Waylon Jennings estate in Chandler, Arizona, with the proceeds going to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The items are being offered for sale by Waylon’s widow, Jessi Colter, who was married to Waylon for over 30 years. The auction is set to transpire on October 5th at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Now even more details of the auction items have been revealed as the auction house has made a detailed auction guide available for pre-order.

The items will be made available for preview in Phoenix at the Musical Instrument Museum starting on October 3rd. Out of the 2,000 items, there will also be 500 lots, or groups of items that will be auctioned together. Telephone and online bidding will also be available.

Included in the auction is a pair of ornate leather boots once worn by Hank Williams. There’s also an authentic set of Willie Nelson’s famous Indian braids given to Waylon in 1983 by his long-time Outlaw friend to celebrate Waylon’s newly-found sobriety. There’s also the original contract signed by Waylon that officially formed The Highwaymen supergroup with Willie, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash, and a letter to Waylon from John Lennon. There’s also a leather-clad Telecaster being sold (though not the main one Waylon played). But the crown jewel of the collection will be the Ariel Cyclone motorcycle previously owned by Buddy Holly, and given to Waylon Jennings as a birthday present in 1979 (read more).

Though Waylon was originally from Littlefield, TX, his Phoenix history runs deep. Waylon got his start as a solo performer at JD’s in Phoenix. Owner Jimmy D. Musiel pattered his club around Waylon and his Waylors as the house band. Waylon’s Arizona estate in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler is where he spent much of his time, and where he passed away on February 13th, 2002.

For more information on the auction, visit www.guernseys.com.


Braids Willie Nelson gave to Waylon after he found sobriety.

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“Storms Never Last” Bronze Bust

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Waylon’s Stage Chair

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Waylon’s Personal Rolex Submariner Watch

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Porsche Design Sunglasses & Case

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Porsche Design Sunglasses

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Partner Desk Given to Waylon by Johnny Cash in 1985

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Original contract forming the supergroup The Highwaymen.

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Photo Display from the Music Row Museum

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Muhammad Ali’s Training Gloves

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Muhammad Ali’s Ring Robe Presented to Waylon Jennings by Ali in 1978

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Letter from John Lennon To Waylon

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Original Black Crayon Drawing of Johnny Cash by William Nelson

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Hat Worn by Hank Williams Jr. During a Live Performance

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Nomination Plaque for “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”

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Fender Custom Shop Waylon Jennings Telecaster

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Waylon’s Favorite Pair of Lucchese Boots

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Engraved ST Dupont Black Chinese Lacquer and Gold Lighter c. 1970s

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Hank Williams’ Custom-made Nudie Cowboy Boots

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Costume Worn by Jennings in Sesame Street’s Follow That Bird

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“The Buddy Holly Days”

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Baume Mercier Watch

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Nashville Rebel Poster with Autograph

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Autographed Nashville Rebel Poster WITH ORIGINAL SHARKEY’S POSTER

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1943 Martin Guitar 00021

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The Highwayman Goes Gold

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Ariel Cyclone motorcycle previously owned by Buddy Holly, and given to Waylon Jennings as a birthday present in 1979.

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Aug
18

10 Country Songs Criticizing The Police State

August 18, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  25 Comments

johnny-cashEvery day tens of thousands of people put on the police uniform and put their lives on the line to protect and serve the citizens of the United States, and do it with a servant’s heart and a sincere desire to protect their local communities. But others step over bounds, grow power hungry in their positions, and some communities have dealt with corruption and brutality in policing for decades to where over the years it has become an eternal theme in American music, and in country music specifically.

Many country music songs deal with characters being incarcerated, being sent on the lamb, or being killed for things they have done that are wrong. However the following songs are ones that question if anything was done wrong in the first place, or decry how the system doesn’t allow previous wrongdoers to truly rehabilitate.

Here are 10 country songs criticizing the police state.


Johnny Cash – San Quentin

Many of Johnny Cash’s songs speak out about the inequality and ineffectiveness of America’s jails and the police state in general, and he punctuated this sentiment throughout his career with his legendary prison concerts. But no Johnny Cash song spells it out more clearly than “San Quentin”.

“And I leave here a wiser, weaker man. Mr. Congressman, you can’t understand.”


Kris Kristofferson – “The Law Is For Protection of the People”

From Kris Kristofferson’s first, self-titled album from 1970 which also included iconic Kristofferson-written tunes like “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Me & Bobby McGee,” and “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” “The Law Is For Protection of the People” is arguably Kristofferson’s most powerful counter-cultural, anti-authoritarian statement of his career. Another song from the album, “Best Of All Possible Worlds” also carries a strong message about the police, but one where Kristofferson admits to his own drunken culpability.

“So thank your lucky stars you’ve got protection
Walk the line, and never mind the cost
And don’t wonder who them lawmen was protecting
When they nailed the savior to the cross.”


J.J. Cale – “If You’re Ever In Oklahoma”

Native Oklahoman J.J. Cale’s calling out of middle America’s aggressive police state has also been covered famously by Cody Canada & The Departed, and by numerous bluegrass bands including the Yonder Mountain String Band and the Hutchinson Brothers. It is from J.J.’s 1973 album Really.

“They got fines, they got plenty. They’ll hold you up for days on end. Threaten your life, take your money. Make you think you’re there to stay.”


Waylon Jennings -”Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand”

The song is about Waylon’s cocaine arrest in 1977 for conspiracy and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. A courier tipped off Federal agents that a package sent to Waylon from his lawyer/manager Neil Reshen contained 27 grams of cocaine. As authorities waited to obtain a search warrant, Waylon flushed the drugs down the toilet, and the charges were later dropped. Waylon blamed the whole episode on the marketing of his music as “Outlaw.” The song includes one of the best lines of any country song decrying the police state.

“I’m for law and order, the way that it should be. This song’s about the night they spent protecting you from me.”


Waylon Jennings -  “Good Ol’ Boys” (Dukes of Hazzard Theme)

“Just some good ol’ boys, never meaning no harm…”

Waylon says in his biography, “They thought that was good but said all it needed was something about two modern-day Robin Hoods, fighting the system. So I wrote, ‘Fighting the system, like two modern-day Robin Hoods,’ and they didn’t even know they wrote the damn line. It was my first million-selling single.”


Merle Haggard – “Branded Man”

Speaking out about the difficulty felons find in the world after they’re released from jail, this classic country tune was the title track off of Merle’s fourth album released in 1968. Though there is no shortage of prison songs in country music complaining about how tough it is in the clink or once you get out, “Branded Man” speaks specifically about the inability of the police state to rehabilitate and re-indoctrinate ex convicts back into society.

“I paid the debt I owed ‘em, but they’re still not satisfied. Now I’m a branded man out in the cold.”


Wayne “The Train” Hancock – Johnny Law

One of Wayne Hancock’s signature tunes about being pulled over for doing nothing wrong, “Johnny Law” is something most any American can relate to.

“You ain’t nothin’ but a bully with  a star on your chest.”


The Bottle Rockets – “Radar Gun”

The cowpunk/alt-country entry into the list, “Radar Gun” was The Bottle Rockets biggest hit, reaching #27 on Billboard’s rock charts. It was released on their album The Brooklyn Side in 1994, later re-issued by Atlantic Records in 1995.

“Schedule 19 on a special election
Got our money problems right in hand
Droppin them limits like a hot potato
50 down to 30, oh man, oh man.”


Johnny Cash & Bruce Springsteen – “Highway Patrolman”

Though “Highway Patrolman” is seen by many as being against the police state, its message is much more subtle than most. Written and performed originally by Bruce Springsteen on his 1982 album Nebraska, it tells the tale of a Highway Patrolman who regularly looks the other way when his brother does wrong in the local community the officer is charged to protect. Johnny Cash covered the song on his album from the following year, Johnny 99—titled from another Bruce Springsteen song off of Nebraska.

“Well if it was any other man, I’d put him straight away
But when it’s your brother sometimes you look the other way.”


James Hand – “Old Man Henry”

When the 97-year-old Henry refuses to relinquish his land for a highway being built through town, he gets shot down by police who think he’s reaching for his rifle when he goes to pick up his cane. “Old Man Henry” off of Jame Hand’s 2012 album Mighty Lonesome Man is based partially off of true events.

“40 rifles raised, from 40 men half crazed. As the bullets struck all around him, his house it caught ablaze.
40 rifles then, raised and fired again. As the fatal bullets hit him, Henry fell across Mary’s grave.
A man of 97 years, lay dead upon the ground. As his soul winged up to heaven, a gentle rain came down.
Henry laid across his Mary, their little home a pile of ash.
Nothing left but the memories, they got their damned highway at last.”

Aug
16

Ray Benson & Willie Nelson Unearth Waylon’s Gem, “It Ain’t You”

August 16, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  12 Comments

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What the forces that would sway popular American music to only focus on youth fail to regard is where simply the tone of a voice and the visage of a legendary performer can evoke such a reverence and place such immeasurable weight of an entire remarkable career behind it that an immediate elevation of whatever music being performing occurs in a measure that could never be challenged by the simple exuberance of youth.

2014 has been a retrenching of sorts for many of country music’s legacy artists. Dolly Parton and Billy Joe Shaver have released albums after multi-year hiatuses from the studio, and to high praise and successful chart performances. The release of Johnny Cash’s lost album Out Among The Stars treated classic country fans to an entire album’s worth of unheard material and collaborations with stars who’ve passed on, including Waylon Jennings and June Carter.

ray-benson-a-little-pieceThe song “It Ain’t You” off of Ray Benson’s album A Little Piece continues this trend of offering both something unheard, but something wrought during the living era of a legendary artist, and paid forward with reverence and care by those still around who are inspired by their legacy.

Originally written by Waylon Jennings with Gary Nicholson, “It Ain’t You” was never recorded, and was relatively unknown except to a select few for many years. When Asleep At The Wheel frontman Ray Benson was looking for material to release on his first solo album in a decade, the song was suggested to him by Sam “Lightnin’” Seifert who co-produced the effort with Lloyd Maines. Benson was blown away that nobody had ever recorded the “undiscovered gem,” and he called up Willie Nelson who agreed to do the song with Ray. Willie recorded his part in his Western ghost town of Luck, TX. With Ray being 64, and Willie being 81, but both performers being very much in charge of their faculties and charging forward with their music careers, the pairing was perfect to embody the theme of “It Ain’t You” about growing old but staying young.

“It Ain’t You” is exquisitely written, and makes one wonder how this song went unheard for so long. It has the similar self-reflective and age-recognizing tone of other Waylon-performed songs like “Memories of You And I”—pondering one’s own mortality and how age sees the sifting of abilities through your fingers. At the same time there’s a defiant strength woven through the lines; a reassurance that even though wrinkles may appear on the surface, the soul of a man continues to become refined over time.

The music, and both Ray Benson’s and Willie’s performances are chilling enough, but the video for “It Ain’t You” takes it a step further, fully understanding what’s at the heart of the song, and pulling out all the stops to not only do the song justice, but enhance the experience through the visual medium. The wisdom of knowing what the simple sight of Willie’s battle-worn hands can stir in the beholder, while crafting a way to capture the spirit of the long-time friendship between Ray and Willie so purely is worth watching even if the song itself doesn’t strike a particular chord with the listener.

Even without the legacies of Ray Benson, Asleep At The Wheel, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Gary Nicholson behind it, “It Ain’t You” would still be a song for the ages. Like the song’s writers, caretakers, and performers, it is destined to grow in stature over time.

Two guns up!

Purchase “It Ain’t You”

Preview & Purchase Tracks from Ray Benson’s A Little Piece

Aug
15

Billy Joe Shaver Charts for the First Time Ever with “Long In The Tooth”

August 15, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  12 Comments

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41 years, 26 albums, 11 different record labels, and one Outlaw country legend who had never experienced a charting album beyond a mere blip on the Christian charts a few years ago …. until now. Billy Joe Shaver, and his first album in seven years entitled Long In The Tooth has gone where no other Billy Joe Shaver album has gone before—to the Top 20 of Billboard’s country album’s chart. Coming in at #19, it marks Shaver’s first entry in the album chart ever, and his placing at #157 in the all-genre category is his first appearance in that chart as well.

The news comes after a strong push for the album that sees Billy Joe’s old friend Willie Nelson lend his voice to the opening track, “Hard To Be An Outlaw”. Willie Nelson also featured two Billy Joe Shaver songs on his recent album Band of Brothers, fueling the flames of Shaver interest. Fans waited seven years for the 74-year-old Shaver to finally put out another album of original music, and Long In The Tooth finds Billy Joe sitting tall in the saddle, shouting and spitting, brandishing his fists and taking potshots, and shining in moments of unexpected sentimentality.

Billy Joe Shaver joins a resurgent crowd of country music greats who’ve enjoyed renewed chart success recently, including Willie Nelson whose Band of Brothers album became his first #1 in 28 years, and his highest showing ever on Billboard’s all genre Billboard 200 chart, coming in at #6. Dolly Parton’s May release Blue Smoke gave Dolly her first Top 10 on the Billboard 200 of her entire career when she came in at #6. She also charted at #2 on the Country Albums chart. Johnny Cash’s posthumous release of his lost album Out Among The Stars also saw surprising chart success, debuting at #1 in country, and #3 on the Billboard 200.

READ: Album Review – Billy Joe Shaver’s “Long In The Tooth”

Why all the surprising chart success for older country music artists in 2014? It’s partly because the fans of older country music stars actually buy albums instead of streaming them online, or just downloading individual songs. This makes older artists more lucrative for labels, and allows the artists to outpace their much younger competition on the charts. It proves that country music’s older artists can deliver when they’re given a chance, even without radio play.

Meanwhile Willie Nelson’s Band of Brothers album remains in Billboard’s Top 25 of country albums for an eighth straight week, coming in at #22 this week.

Preview & Purchase Tracks to Long In The Tooth

Aug
13

American Idol’s “Wolf” Hamlin Is Back on the Front Porch

August 13, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  7 Comments

wolf-hamlinNo this is not one of these American Idol alums who made it into the Top 20 of the show and tries to do everything they can to hold on to that glimmer of notoriety in an ill-fated attempt at a mainstream music career, this is Jason “Wolf” Hamlin who had the minds of many independent music fans reeling at the possibility of a genuine country roots artist making a real splash on America’s premier singing competition.

Of course Hamlin was a little too hard-edged to get very far on the show, but during the preliminary tryout phase of the 2012 season, American Idol selected him out of the crowd to be showcased in one of their extended segments on contestants. The 24-year-old engine mechanic carrying a “guit-fiddle” handmade by his recently-deceased father had a story, a look, and a voice that resonated with a crowd that was quite counter-intuitive to the American Idol audience. Wolf was singing Johnny Cash covers and showing a lot of attitude behind his music, despite maybe the Idol producers pushing the “Wolf” thing a little too hard.

“I hadn’t even planned on auditioning until I found out my wife was headed to San Diego a couple weeks before the auditions took place,” Wolf Hamlin explains. “I was told they were gonna be holding them there and figured, ‘Why not?’ It was never a make or break thing for me. People were able to see my father’s guitar and I was able to kickstart a career … People think either you’re a sell out or the next best thing when you go on American Idol. You realize that the level of vocalists and musicians is far beyond what is actually portrayed on the show. The competition out there is amazing.”

Hamlin got axed during Hollywood week and headed back home to Livermore, CA to start right back right where he left off, but with a renewed energy to pursue music further. “I came home with an all new outlook on music and what I wanted from it. I play with my band and other local musicians on a regular basis. I still work a full time job as a mechanic and last September married the woman of my dreams.”

In old-school back porch country music fashion, Jason Hamlin gathered together musicians from the surrounding area, his wife picked up the fiddle, and Wolf Hamlin became “Wolf Hamlin and the Front Porch Drifters.” Wolf says he loves his band. “I can’t thank them enough for what they do. It shows each and every time they get off work at 5pm, travel 2 to 3 hours to a gig, play ’till 2 AM, and drive 2 to 3 hours home.”

On July 30th, the band released their first, self-titled album independently. “The album is as real as possible. By that I mean it was recorded live In 48 tiring hours. We rehearsed for months, wrote a million songs, then hit the studio.” It’s a rough-hewn, raucous affair with its fair share of subdued songwriting moments, and some of the studio banter left on the tracks and a Southern rock flavor in stretches.

wolf-hamlin-front-porch-drifters“It was a Friday night in February,” Wolf recalls. “We started at 4 PM and had booked the studio for the weekend. We a sat in separate rooms with our instruments and head phones and just pounded it out take after take ’till we got it right. Our theory was we wanted an album that was authentically us. If you see us play, this is what we sound like. No bells and whistles, no Auto-Tune, just good old fashion music being recorded.”

“In the song ‘Wolf Hotel’ at the end you will hear our drummer hold the beat a second to long and screams ‘Fuck!’ We left it in because it was a real emotion. We had done numerous takes on that song and changed a few progressions throughout the takes. It was 2 AM and we were all spent. He captured what everyone was feeling. That’s the side of musicianship we want people to see … I label it Outlaw country cause that my favorite type of music. I am frequently told that it has a Southern rock sound and I love that also. I grew up listening to John Prine, John Hartford, the Stones, you name it. I am particularly fond of the songwriting portion.” 

The ironic part of Wolf Hamlin’s American Idol experience is it seemed to reinforce in him the most important part of music and the foundation for country music specifically, which is sharing music with friends, loved ones, and each other on back porches and in local watering holes. Not every musician can be in the national spotlight.Life has been great, we travel and enjoy the the little things like a front porch jam with complete strangers.” 

But Wolf Hamlin would love to have the opportunity to share his music with more people. “[I'd love to] play with my band everywhere we can. Sell records. Tour!  Hell I’m not sure but as long as we can keep creating and bringing those creations to people I’m good with it.”

And no matter what happens with Wolf, his father’s handmade guitar will be right beside him. “When I write a song it’s me and my father’s Acoustic. From there I bring it to the band and that’s when the Magic happens … I will always play my Fathers guit-fiddle. It’s part of me!”

Preview & Purchase Tracks from Wolf Hamlin & The Front Porch Pickers

Aug
11

The Most Important Drum Set in Country On Display At Cash Museum

August 11, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  10 Comments

johnny-cash-museumSince the Johnny Cash Museum opened in downtown Nashville in May 2013, it has become one of Music City’s must-see spots and an international destination point for country music fans and Johnny Cash fans alike. Barely a year has passed since its initial opening and the museum is already tackling its first new addition. On August 15th, the museum will unveil its “Legends of Sun Records” exhibit celebrating the legendary Memphis studio that gave rise to Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and of course, The Man in Black himself.

“Johnny Cash began his musical career at Sun Records,” says Johnny Cash Museum Founder Bill Miller. “Sun was the launch pad for several young men whose music would forever impact the world. Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Johnny came from similar backgrounds and humble beginnings. Once they walked through the door at the Memphis Recording Service, their lives would never be the same. We are proud to showcase Johnny’s labelmates from this historic period in rock and roll history.” 

The Legends of Sun Records exhibit will showcase many artifacts and much information about the original class of Sun Records stars, but one man, and one particular piece of memorabilia might be worth paying a little bit of extra attention to.

W.S. “Fluke” Holland is not a name that is as familiar to music fans as the other big Sun Recordings stars, but his significance to early country and rock & roll cannot be overstated.

w-s-hollandW.S. Holland was Johnny Cash’s drummer for 40 years, and is considered by many as the “Father of the Drums.” When he joined Johnny Cash’s band in 1960, the famous “Tennessee Two” officially became the “Tennessee Three,” but it was a fluke the drummer joined the band at all, leading to his now inseparable nickname.

W.S. Holland never intended to be a drummer. He was raised in Bemis, TN and worked for an air conditioning company after high school. He was a big music fan, and would go out after work to see Carl Perkins play with his two brothers at a local bar. Holland used to beat his hands on the side of the upright bass to the rhythm of music, and on a whim the Perkins clan invited Holland on a trip to Sun Records, and told him to borrow a drum set to play. One thing led to another, and W.S. Holland became one of Sun Records’ go-to session drummers.

W.S. Holland was the drummer for the famous “Million Dollar Quartet” session that matched up Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis (he got paid $11.50 for the gig—union scale at the time). He played on many other famous Sun Records recordings, including Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, and “Ring of Fire”, not as a member of Johnny’s band, but as a session player. Holland also played on many other famous Sun recordings, including “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Later W.S. Holland would take the same drum set used in many of those famous Sun Studios sessions, and they would become the first full drum set ever used on The Grand Ole Opry. Though Bob Wills back in 1945 brought his Texas Playboys to the Ryman, including their full-time drummer, The Opry forbade Bob from playing the drum set on stage. An argument ensued, and eventually The Opry caved and allowed the drummer to play a partial set behind a curtain. It’s said that Bob at one point said, “Move those things out on stage!” and the drums made a quick and controversial appearance, barring Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys from the Opry for life. But the set owned by W.S. “Fluke” Holland, and the set that is on display as part of the Johnny Cash Museum’s “Legends of Sun Records” is the first full drum set, and the first officially approved set to ever grace The Grand Ole Opry’s hallowed stage.

The biggest “fluke” occurred for W.S. “Fluke” Holland when he was hired by Johnny Cash to play a quick two week run of shows in New York and Atlantic City. That two weeks lasted 40 years in Johnny Cash’s band, and the rest is history. Later when Johnny Cash formed The Highwaymen with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson, W.S. “Fluke” was the supergroup’s full-time drummer. “Fluke” also played on Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, played on the Live at Folsom Prison and Live at San Quentin albums, and was also the session player for Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline record.

The quaint, four-piece drum set on display at the Johnny Cash Museum could be considered the most important drum set in this history of country music—and rock and roll music for that matter, or American music in general. Along with all the other important artifacts that make up the “Legends of Sun Records” exhibit, it makes this new museum addition a worthy visit for music fans of all stripes.

W.S. “Fluke” Holland still plays drums and tours today in his W.S. Holland Band.

Photos by Jarrett Gaza

johnny-cash-museum-sun-studiosw-s-holland-drums-johnny-cash-museum

Aug
9

Metal Band \m/ DragonForce \m/ Covers Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”

August 9, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  18 Comments

johnny-cash-dragonforce

I don’t know if this is the most abominable thing I’ve ever heard, or the most epic, or the most accidentally comical. Either way, it is probably worth a listen.

The completely over-the-top Nintendo-inspired speed metal fantasy-driven über band DragonForce decided that for their upcoming album Maximum Overload out August 18th, they would cover none other than The Man in Black’s iconic country standard, “Ring of Fire”. And no, DragonForce is not “going country.” This is all about DragonForce bringing their insanely complex and super fast heavy metal sonic palette to Cash’s original composition.

Either Johnny Cash is rolling over in his grave so fast it’s registering on the Richter Scale, or the playing of this song will open up a portal of souls that will see all of country music’s legends come back to life in full body armor riding on the back of flying battle cats and armed with swords that shoot lasers to battle the forces of evil for the very fate of planet Earth for the next 10,000 years. Will this Johnny Cash cover convert scores of metal fans to the Man in Black? Maybe, but they’re apt to show up to Johnny Cash functions wearing shoulder pads with 14-inch spikes emanating from them and beating the shit out of each other with plastic battle axes. But hey, their money is green too I guess.

Guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman formed DragonForce (originally called DragonHeart) in the United Kingdom in 1999. Much of their sound is inspired by the background music of 3rd generation video games, featuring high-register guitar peels and super fast tempos only thought to be playable by programed computer chips. DragonForce is somewhat polarizing in the metal world, seen as a gimmick by some, and lauded by others for their abilities. Appeal for their version of “Ring of Fire” will probably split down similar lines.

Sam Totman told the AV Club about the song selection,

We got tired of hearing bands play covers exactly the same as the original and we always thought Johnny Cash was pretty cool. So we were like, let see what happens if we speed him up to 220BPM and plaster it with shredding guitars and huge soaring vocals and choirs! Basically give him an EXTREME DragonForce overhaul! Some people gonna love it, some might hate it but you definitely never heard Johnny Cash like THIS!!!

He’s certainly right on that last point.

Aug
6

2,000 Waylon Jennings Items / Famous Motorcycle to be Auctioned

August 6, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  18 Comments

Waylon_ Approved by JessiIf you’ve ever wanted to own a piece of Waylon Jennings, you’re about to get your chance.

Guernsey’s Auctions out of New York City is getting ready to liquidate a massive 2,000-piece collection of items owned by Waylon Jennings from his Arizona estate, with the proceeds from the auction going to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The items are being offered for sale by Waylon’s widow, Jessi Colter, who was married to Waylon for over 30 years. The auction is set to transpire on October 5th at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

What can collectors expect from this rare chance to own a piece of authentic Waylon Jennings memorabilia? Well for starters, there’s a pair of ornate leather boots once worn by Hank Williams that are adorned appropriately with a Phoenix on the front, and an ‘H’ in the middle for “Hank”. There’s also an authentic set of Willie Nelson’s famous Indian braids given to Waylon in 1983 by his long-time Outlaw friend to celebrate Waylon’s newly-found sobriety. There’s also the original contract signed by Waylon that officially formed The Highwaymen supergroup with Willie, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash, and a letter to Waylon from John Lennon. There’s also a leather-clad Telecaster being sold (though not the main one Waylon played). But the crown jewel of the collection will be the Ariel Cyclone motorcycle previously owned by Buddy Holly, and given to Waylon Jennings as a birthday present in 1979.

waylon-guitar-auctionWaylon Jennings played bass for Buddy Holly right before he died in the plane crash in 1959 that was later memorialized in the Don McLean song “American Pie”. Waylon was supposed to be on that flight, but gave his seat up to The Big Bopper. 1 1/2 years before in May of 1958, Buddy Holly and his original Crickets flew in to Dallas’s Love Field airport on a connecting flight back to Lubbock after a big tour. But instead of flying, the three decided to purchase motorcycles and drive back.

“Then they went over to Miller’s Motorcycles, which specialized in English bikes,” Waylon recalled in his biography with Lenny Kaye. “There, Joe B, and J.I. (Allison) bought a Triumph each, a TR6 and Thunderbird, respectively, while Buddy picked out a maroon and black Ariel Cyclone, with a high compression 650cc Huntsmaster engine. They paid cash, bought matching Levi jackets and peaked caps with wings on them, and rode home through a thunderstorm.”

Then in 1979 for Waylon’s 42nd birthday, the two remaining Crickets Joe B. and J.I. tracked down the 1959 Ariel Cyclone, bought it back, and had it hand delivered to north Texas where Waylon found it sitting there in the middle of his hotel room after walking off stage that night.

“What else could I do? I swung my leg over it, stomped on the kickstarter, and it burst into roaring life. First kick. It was midnight, and it sounded twice as loud bouncing off the walls of that hotel room. I knew Buddy wouldn’t mind.”

The motorcycle was eventually put on display at Waylon’s home in Arizona.

FULL STORY: Waylon Jennings’ Birthday Present from Buddy Holly

Though Waylon was originally from Littlefield, TX, his Phoenix history runs deep. Waylon got his start as a solo performer at JD’s in Phoenix. Owner Jimmy D. Musiel pattered his club around Waylon and his Waylors as the house band. Waylon’s Arizona estate in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler is where he spent much of his time, and where he passed away on February 13th, 2002.

An auction catalog with detailed descriptions and pictures of each item is expected to be made available to the public for $32 from Guernesy’s later in August, and the items in the auction will be available for preview in Phoenix at the Musical Instrument Museum starting on October 3rd. Out of the 2,000 items, there will also be 500 lots, or groups of items that will be auctioned together. Telephone and online bidding will also be available.

Along with making the Phoenix Children’s Hospital lots of money, let’s hope some of the more important items end up where they can enjoyed not just by the high bidder, but by all of Waylon’s fans.

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See Additional Pictures of Auction Items from The New York Times

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