Browsing articles tagged with " New Album"

Justin Townes Earle Releasing New Album ‘Absent Fathers’ 1-13-15

October 21, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  21 Comments

justin-townes-earleThat’s right, don’t rub your eyes or adjust your monitors. Justin Townes Earle, who just released his latest album Single Mothers on September 9th, is doing a quick turnaround and releasing yet another brand new full length album Absent Fathers on January 13th, 2015—a companion to his September release that takes its theme from the Single Mothers title track.

Fans who’ve been paying close attention to the second-generation performer (Earle’s absent father was alt-country performer Steve Earle) shouldn’t be too surprised at this announcement. On numerous occasions Justin Townes Earle alluded that a double album was on the way before Single Mothers was announced. After Justin resolved his five album contract with Bloodshot Records, he found himself in the midst of an intense battle with the British-based label Communion Records owned in part by Ben Lovett, otherwise known as the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons. According to Earle, the company expected him to turn in 30 songs per his contract, which the label could then par down into an album release. Earle refused, and eventually parted ways with Communion, signing with California-based label Vagrant Records and announcing the release of Single Mothers.

Justin’s idea of a double album to make up for the lost time while battling with Communion was apparently scrubbed for two close releases because of the logistical issues of a double release. As Earle explained to American Songwriter in August, “There are more songs, maybe for something later early next year, or something. I’m pushing for something, but we’ll see what happens. They were recorded all at the same time, it’s not that they didn’t make the record, it was just easier to put out a regular record, a double is a little more complicated.” Apparently Justin got his wish, and we’ll be hearing the rest of the songs come January.

Earle has received critical acclaim for his music and songwriting since releasing the Yuma EP in 2007. In 2009 he won the Americana Music Award for New and Emerging Artist of the Year, and won Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year in 2009 for Midnight At The Movies, as well as SCM’s 2011 Artist of the Year.

Absent Fathers Track List:

1. Farther From Me
2. Why
3. Least I Got The Blues
4. Call Ya Momma
5. Day and Night
6. Round the Bend
7. When the One You Love Loses Faith
8. Slow Monday
9. Someone Will Pay
10. Looking For A Place To Land


New Music from Jamey Johnson “Coming Soon”

October 12, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  25 Comments


Jamey Johnson has “New Music Coming Soon.” This is according to the above banner splayed across his website this weekend, and syncs up with a message left on his Facebook page Thursday telling fans, “We will be announcing some very exciting things soon,” and urging fans to sign up for Jamey’s newsletter. This news comes after a protracted wait for new original music from Jamey that goes back to September of 2010 when he released his last original album of music, The Guitar Song. In 2012 Jamey also released Living For A Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran, but it did not contain any new Jamey Johnson-penned songs. 

For a man known as a songwriter, it was certainly strange when four years passed without a peep of new music. February of 2013 is when Johnson first let on that a contract dispute was the reason for his lack of creative output, telling Rolling Stone, ““Financially speaking, they treat me worse than they ever did the Dixie Chicks. I feel pretty used by the music industry, in that my contracts are written in such a way that I don’t get paid … I wish I could tell you that I am writing. I’m not. I wish I could tell you I’m gonna go home next week and record another album. It’s not likely to happen.

jamey-johnsonThis led to speculation that the issue was with Jamey Johnson’s record label, Mercury Records. But when Saving Country Music contacted Mercury, they said Jamey Johnson was no longer signed to the label. Then finally in a Nashville Scene interview with Jewly Hight on July 9th, Johnson finally explained that it was not his label, but his publisher, EMI Music Publishing, that he had the contract beef with.

“I’ve already reached an agreement with Mercury Records that gave me what I wanted ultimately, which was my freedom,” Jamey told Nashville Scene. “I just wanted the ability to go, and they gave that to me. They also gave me the ability to come back, if I decided I wanted to come back. To me, that looks a lot like a revolving door, and that’s what I wanted. But most importantly, I wanted to be able to leave. If I can’t leave, then what’s the point in coming back? My appreciation to Mike Dungan [UMG Nashville Chairman/CEO] and the whole team at Mercury Records for allowing me that ability to come back after I leave. They could’ve slammed the door and locked it and said, ‘Man, enough.’”

Jamey Johnson may have been coy about the specifics of the contract dispute because he didn’t want to bad mouth his publisher publicly, or speaking out against the publisher directly may put him in violation of his contract, or may hurt his chances of receiving a fair solution through the legal process.

READ: Jamey Johnson Problems Are With Publisher, Not Label

There is no news yet if Johnson’s contract disputes are over, or if he is just tired of fighting and is ready to release new music. There’s also no word on when this new music might be coming or in what capacity. But it is on the way nonetheless, and Jamey’s large and loyal fan base of traditional country fans could not be happier.


James McMurtry to Release First Album in Six Years

October 1, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  22 Comments


Fans of elite folk/Americana songwriter James McMurtry have been waiting a long time for new music from the famous son and fixture of Austin’s Continental Club. McMurtry released his last studio record Just Us Kids in April of 2008. Soon fan’s patience will be rewarded.

James McMurtry has partnered with the label Complicated Game out of Los Angeles to release a new record in February of 2015. The album was recorded and produced in New Orleans by noted Louisiana singer/songwriter C.C. Adcock, and is said to bring a fresh perspective to the studio for James by “exploring more expansive instrumentation and arrangements while retaining a sharp focus on his masterful guitar work and his poetic storytelling style.”

Francois Moret, the owner of Complicated Game, found out about McMurtry through producer C.C. Adcock. Francois was “mesmerized” by a McMurtry solo performance at the Continental Club in Austin where McMurtry plays on a weekly basis when not on tour, and knew he wanted to sign him immediately. There is no specific title or release date for the new album just yet. More details are expected to come in the coming weeks.

52-year-old James McMurtry was born in Ft. Worth Texas to the famous Texas novelist Larry McMurtry, and learned guitar at an early age from his mother. In 1987 McMurtry was able to get the attention of John Mellencamp who produced his first album Too Long In The Wasteland released on Columbia Records. Since then McMurtry has become a well-respected songwriter, guitarist, and performer throughout the folk and Americana realm, releasing a total of 11 albums, and creating a reputation for his biting lyrics often tinged with political ideologies. Music critic Robert Christgau once ranked McMurtry’s song “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore” as the best song of the 2000′s.

James McMurtry lives in Austin and tours regularly. The below video posted in March was shot during the recording of the new album.


Wade Bowen to Release Self-Titled Album October 28th

August 14, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  18 Comments

wade-bowenTexas country star Wade Bowen is set to release his 5th studio album on October 28th, and the self-titled affair will see Bowen break away from the bonds of a major label to reclaim his creative freedom. The album is said to be a new beginning for Bowen, and finds the Waco, TX native at “…the turning of the page to a place where the music becomes a little bit freer, a little bit looser, and a lot more intimate. This is the sound of catharsis, of Bowen released from major label bonds to find himself on his own again – ragged from the storm, but finally, back on shore. In short, this is the Wade Bowen, the real thing.”

Bowen says of the new music, “The focus was to talk about what I’ve been through—to get personal. Everything I’ve been through lead me to this.”

After Bowen released his last album The Given on BNA Records in May of 2012, fans were treated to some new music in late August of 2013 in the form of “Songs About Trucks” written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally. It was anti “Bro-Country” before being anti “Bro-Country” was cool, and went on to be nominated for Saving Country Music’s “Song of the Year.”

wade-bowen-self-titledSince Wade left the band West 84 in 2001, he has become a staple of the Texas country airwaves and radio charts, and a leading member of the strong community that exists around the music in Texas. His Wade Bowen Classic golf tournament and concert has become the standard-bearer for celebrity charity events in Texas msuic, and the 16th Annual event in 2014 drew over 4,000 people over the June 1st weekend to raise a quarter of a million dollars for Wade’s Bowen Family Foundation.

As part of the announcement of the new album, Wade Bowen has released a new song called “When I Woke Up Today” (listen below). “I just started analyzing the road and my passion to put up with so much to ‘make a dream fly,” Bowen says about the track. “I’m still here! It’s like I tell people, the road has tried to get rid of me but I’m still here!”

Listen to New Song “When I Woke Up Today”

Bowen is also currently on tour.


The Deal with Taylor Swift’s Aug. 18th Press Conference (A Spoiler)

August 13, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  22 Comments

taylor-swiftOoooh! Ahhhh! What forever will Taylor Swift announce when she holds her much-anticipated live Yahoo video stream and Q&A on August 18th at 5:00 PM Eastern????

Give me a break.

The histrionics that mainstream country artists (and Taylor Swift too ;) ) go through to release an album, and the hoops they make their poor fans jump through these days is just a little bit silly, don’t you think? Brad Paisley still has the majority of his gullible fans svengalied into believing he’s in trouble with his label for releasing irrelevant three-second snippets of the dumb songs from his upcoming record, and Eric Church is still trying to rationalize why he blew a 7-figure budget on producing cryptic teaser videos for The Outsiders that barely anybody watched. Come on Music Row, we’ve got shit to do. Just tell us when you’re going to release the damn thing and we’ll pony up the dough. Maybe. Or probably not.

Yes, Taylor Swift will be announcing her new album at this August 18th press conference. And she will release a single on the same day or shortly thereafter that she will preview during the event. And then she will perform that single on the MTV Video Music Awards (or VMA’s) on August 24th that she’s scheduled to perform at. And water is wet.

All of this has been preordained for quite some time ladies and gentlemen, and it is all transpiring as predictably as the lyrical hook of a Bro-Country song (Oh, you rhymed “beer” with “Girl, get over here“? How clever.)

According to Saving Country Music’s vast circuit of moles covertly embedded throughout the inner workings of the country music’s sprawling industrial complex that feverishly feed information into this site’s coffers to be aggregated an analyzed (or actually, this random dude on Twitter), Taylor Swift will release her new album on October 13th, 2014. Or basically, two years after she released released her album Red (October 22nd, 2012), and four years after she released Speak Now (October 25th, 2010). But yes, nothing, NOTHING about this Taylor Swift album release business is in any way predictable. So let’s just all pretend this upcoming press conference is about her re-uping her endorsement deal with the sensible yet stylish canvas shoes known as Keds so we can act surprised when she tells us a bunch of crap we mostly already know.

And the album will be named A Delicious Journey.

Actually I just made that up. I have no idea what it will be named. But it will probably be something fruit flavored and effervescent like that. Say my sources.

This is when I arrogantly point out that way back on June 11th, I predicted:

  • Taylor Swift will make an announcement about her new album in late July, or early to mid August.
  • The announcement will coincide with the release of a new single.
  • The new album will be released in October, or early November.
  • There will be at least one collaboration with Justin Timberlake on the new album.
  • It will include about 15 to 18 songs.
  • Despite Scott Borchetta’s rhetoric, country radio will still play Taylor Swift, and with a lack of other leading females to fill the spots, Swift will still get nominated for country music’s top female awards.

About the only thing I’m sweating at this point is the wild-assed, harebrained prediction that Justin Timberlake has anything to do with this Taylor Swift album business that was based simply off a hunch and a little timeline syncing. But hey, if it pays off, I look like a genius. So there you go.

The real speculation here is whether Taylor Swift’s music will still reside in the country music fold once it is released. We already know Taylor Swift doesn’t want to be country, but will the country music industry let her get away that easy? Taylor Swift means a ton of sales figures stimulating country music’s overall GDP, and she’s one of the few females country music has left that can actually raise a blip on mainstream metrics.

UPDATE (8-18): Rumor has it that Taylor Swift new single will be called “Shake It Off” and is a very pop-oriented song in a similar vein of the first single from her last album “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” It supposedly includes a horn section, and very little guitar. It also apparently contains the line, “They say I date too much and can’t make ‘em stay,” calling out the critics of her personal life. Some radio has already received advanced copies of the single.

Let’s face it, if Taylor Swift wants out of country, she’s screwed. She could release an album entirely of rap songs without a single human-played note on the entire thing … and it would still be considered country. Why? Because there’s numerous “country” artists who’ve already done this exact thing. If you release an album in 2014 and you’re white, then yeah, it’s pretty much country. Or it’s Imagine Dragons. Go listen to Jerrod Niemann’s “Drink To That All Night” or Sam Hunt’s “Leave The Night On”. Country music has literally regressed farther away from the genre’s roots in the last two years since Taylor Swift released an album than it did during the entire history of the genre before.

Though it may sound impossible to some, Taylor Swift’s new songs will be even more pop than what her music was before, and they still won’t have the power to extricate her from the genre. Country music co-opted pop, rock, and rap into the mono-genre, and now there is nowhere for Taylor Swift to go. And still, though not country by any stretch, Taylor Swift’s music will be better and more original than most of the gunk residing under the “country” flag.

READ: Taylor Swift Is Leaving Country. But Will Country Let Her?


Hal Ketchum To Return After 6 Year Absence with “I’m The Troubadour”

August 4, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  30 Comments


Hal Ketchum had quite the country music career in the 1990′s. Signed with Curb Records, he released ten albums, including his debut Past The Point of Rescue, and went on to sell a total of five million records, chart 15 Top 10 hits, and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1994. But four years later, a diagnosis of acute transverse myelitis (a very similar ailment to multiple sclerosis) sidelined the singer and songwriter, causing him to lose use of the entire left side of his body. Ketchum had to relearn basic tasks, including how to sing and play the guitar again, and recovered enough to continue to record for Curb until 2008 when he retired to his cabin in Wimberely, TX. “I went through some really serious bouts of paralysis, blindness and the fear that goes with all of that. I was in kind of a dark place,” Ketchum says. “I didn’t write, didn’t perform. I was just laying low…”

But the music spirit in Hal Ketchum has surfaced once again, and working with Austin, TX-based label Music Road Records, the 61-year-old singer is set to release his first album in six years called “I’m The Troubadour” on October 7th.

hal-ketchum-im-the-troubadourAccording to Ketchum, the enthusiasm from Jimmy LaFave and Kelcy Warren of Music Road, and his desire to start writing again, is where the inspiration for the new album came from. “I came to the realization that I had gotten to this deep level of depression, and I finally said to myself, ‘I can still do this. I can still write.’ The key for me was getting up every morning and having something real to do. Some days, my hands don’t work as well as they should, I’ll get a little wobbly on occasion, but I just keep going.”

“I wasn’t really planning on doing another album,” Ketchum continues. “The whole Nashville scene is extremely competitive. You’re as good as your last record. People are always showing you spreadsheets on how much money you owe for videos and tour support and everything else. I think there’s a certain level of resentment that comes with that.

That’s one of the reasons why fans of Ketchum shouldn’t expect his new album to be exclusively country, but a mixture of country, blues, folk, rock, and soul. “I like to say that I’ve been successfully misunderstood for 30 years. I mean, I was a cabinet maker from Gruene, TX. I got a record deal and I had a number one record out of the box, and suddenly I was a ‘country’ singer. The genre served me very well, and I’m really grateful for the opportunities that the country music world brought to me. But creatively, this record was a really beautiful departure for me. It’s really opened me up again. the freedom of working with Music Road Records, without genre restrictions and commercial pressure, has given him new life … I think it’s going to be refreshing for people who haven’t heard me in a while to know that the old man’s still swingin’.”

Ketchum insists he still loves country music and is honored to play it. But I’m The Troubadour will be an exploration of all of his musical influences.

“My mother put a great poem on my wall when I was a little kid called ‘Keep a-Goin’. It went -

Ain’t no use to sit and whine, ’cause the fish ain’t on your line,
bait your hook and keep a-tryin’, keep a-goin’.

“So that’s become my motto,” Ketchum says. “Just keep going.”


Whiskey Shivers to Release New, Self-Titled Album

July 31, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  9 Comments

the-whiskey-shiversOne of the hottest and most entertaining primordial string band outfits on the planet right now is the Austin-based Whiskey Shivers, and patient fans who’ve been waiting for a defining album from a band whose been tearing it up live for years are finally getting their wish. Produced by noteworthy Americana artist Robert Ellis, Whiskey Shivers will be releasing their self-titled LP September 23rd.

“Whiskey Shivers isn’t just the five of us on stage, it’s everybody in the room,” says Whiskey Shivers frontman and fiddle player Bobby Fitzgerald. “We try to bring everybody into the moment and get them to realize there’s no wall between us and the crowd. We’re all in this together, and we’re all here to have a good time. We’ll do our best to facilitate it, but it takes all of us to make it happen. When you start to feel that, you can’t help but feel a little attachment and become invested in the show. You realize, ‘Oh, I’m here to have good time too!’”

With a live show that sets crowds on fire, the Whiskey Shivers have found themselves booked at some of the biggest festivals in the US, including ACL Fest in their back yard, and California’s Stagecoach Festival, sharing the same stage with artists like Jason Isbell and Shovels & Rope. They’re now scheduled to play the Americana Music Festival right before the album release in September, and have a short tour with Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers coming up.

Though known somewhat as a party band that plays a lot of bluegrass covers, their new self-titled LP finds the five-piece delving into deeper material and taking up the songwriting role themselves. Producer Robert Ellis was the perfect man to help facilitate that maturing in the band’s development.

“He’s a really comfortable guy, and we really respect his songwriting,” says upright bass player Andrew VanVoorhees. “When it came time to say who we wanted to shape this thing, Robert was the first on the list. He’s really taking our songwriting and musicianship to a new level. Robert actually put it pretty well. He said, ‘We’re making an album, not making a recording.’ We put out three recordings that were just songs we were excited about, but we never tried too hard to make them representative of the live shows. Or if we tried, we just fell short.”

“We’re all going through shit all the time. We recognize that life’s tough,” Bobby Fitzgerald says. “We try to write songs that recognize the hard times that we all share. When you put your problems out on the table where everyone can see them, it doesn’t really have the same power over you any more, and you can start to acknowledge it, separate yourself from it, and go on with your life. Try to take a night where you can forget about your problems and just feel good, have a good time with your friends, make new friends, and be part of a little community for a while.”

The new album will be available for pre-order on August 7th, and will be available in physical form at shows starting in September.

Check Whiskey Shivers Tour Dates


Taylor Swift Is Leaving Country. But Will Country Let Her?

June 11, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  99 Comments

taylor-swiftPhoto: Big Machine Records / Taylor Swift

Welp, that’s that. Gauging from the comments made in Rolling Stone‘s current country music special edition by the CEO of Big Machine Records aka the Country Music Antichrist Scott Borchetta, we can now put a period at the end of Taylor Swift’s pop country career. Finito. Done. End of story. Taylor Swift’s country run is in the books, and she’s now a pop star exclusively.

And for the love of God people, please don’t tell me she was never country to begin with. That goes without saying.

In the Rolling Stone article currently on newsstands, Scott Borchetta is quoted as saying that Swedish pop producer Max Martin, the man behind Taylor Swift’s last album Red‘s most pop-oriented material like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble”, worked on “most of her” next album. Martin was the producer behind successful pop music franchises such as The Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, and Britney Spears before being brought onto the Swift team at Scott Borchetta’s behest. But Martin, along with his fellow Swedish collaborator Shellback, only worked on three of the sixteen total songs on Swift’s Red album, despite their footprint feeling much bigger because the partnership comprised the album’s two biggest singles.

Scott Borchetta says in the article about Swift’s new album, “Taylor fans are going to love it. Will country stations play a complete pop song just because it’s her? No.This quote is then reinforced in a caption under a picture of Scott Borchetta and Taylor Swift together.

So much can be read into this quick statement from Borchetta. A man who is known for brevity and measuring his words, Borchetta alludes to us that there will be little, or potentially nothing about Taylor Swift’s new album, or at least the singles that will be targeted for radio, that country radio will find enticing; so much so that he predicts that a format that has moved so dramatically in a pop direction in the two years since Taylor’s last release, and especially in just the last six to nine months since a major Taylor Swift single, will still be completely unwelcoming to Taylor Swift’s new material. That is how pop it is. More pop than Jerrod Nieman’s “Drink To That All Night” or Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind Of Night”. More pop than “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. If this estimate of Taylor Swift’s new material is accurate, and if country programmers will be able to resist the urge to play Taylor to audiences as her Big Machine-backed singles blow up on Top 40 stations, then yes, it truly is time for country to say bon voyage to Taylor.

Then Scott Borchetta tells Rolling Stone, “But when she comes to town, her friends at country radio will come and see her.” This seems to allude that Borchetta and Taylor Swift don’t think they even really need country radio anymore, they’re planning without it, and can trump radio politics with the strength of Taylor’s touring might. They care so little about the acceptance of Taylor’s music by country, they’re downright flippant, unconcerned about it. And clearly these quotes are buttering up the public so when Taylor releases her first purely pop single, it doesn’t come as a complete shock. Though would it anyway, given her track record with Red?

Max Martin.

Max Martin. Photo Courtesy of Maratone

There’s a couple of other interesting nuggets from the same small portion of the Rolling Stone piece talking about Taylor’s new album. Though the premise of the conversation is about how Scott Borchetta, unlike many of his Music Row bunk mates, actually extends quite a bit of creative latitude and freedom to his artists, it is also reinforced in the article that it was Borchetta’s idea to bring big pop producer Max Martin into Taylor Swift’s creative process in the first place.

“He’s allowed me to evolve on my own one year at a time,” Swift says about Borchetta to Rolling Stone, but the very next line in the article says, “But he did urge her [Taylor] to collaborate with Max Martin on her last album.”

This Max Martin decision is the arguably the most important, most defining moment in Taylor Swift’s entire career up to this point, and interestingly enough, it wasn’t instigated by her. It was Scott Borchetta that made the decision to bring Max Martin in, and the result has been a big shift from substantive songwriting with country pop flavor, to the pop-only, vapid stylings of Max Martin, bringing in dub-step and other influences completely foreign to country music, and resulting in shallow compositions like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Of course Taylor Swift is not completely innocent in this dramatic, and defining career shift, but its origination point is undoubtedly Borchetta.

The story of Scott Borchetta barging in on Taylor Swift’s creative process during the making of Red in late 2012 was chronicled by Billboard:

“I said, ‘You know, this song isn’t working yet.’ They both looked at me (Swift and Nathan Chapman) with a blank stare. ‘The chorus isn’t elevating like it needs to. Where you’re wanting to take the song, it’s not going there. It needs a Max Martin type of lift.”

At that point Borchetta called Martin. Both Borchetta and Swift agree that it was a turning point for “Red”.

And it was a turning point in Taylor Swift’s entire career, putting her on a completely different path from what got her to where she was.

Who is Nathan Chapman that is referenced in the above quote? He is the producer who worked with Taylor Swift from day one, recording her first demos, and presiding over virtually all of her music up to Red, when a bevy of eight producers, including Chapman on certain songs, were brought in to work on, and in the Max Martin instances, co-write Taylor’s songs. Compare this to Swift’s previous album Speak Now where Swift wrote the entire album by herself, and produced it with help from Chapman alone.

READ: The Marginalization of Taylor Swift Producer Nathan Chapman

We can’t assume that just because Max Martin has a majority stake in Taylor’s new album that there still won’t be moments of substance. The rules of the game are a little different in this instance. When Max Martin was brought in on Red, his sole purpose was to produce radio hits. Now, hypothetically, he will be employed to deal with a more diverse range of material. Still, it is concerning that Max Martin almost always insists on weaseling his way into a co-writing role of the songs he produces. This is what we saw with Red, and what we’ve seen with other Max Martin-involved projects.

What endeared Taylor Swift to America and had critics coming to her defense was the fact that however pop she was, her songs were sincere expressions from her directly. She was the superstar that was also the girl next door. The Max Martin material from Red shattered this perception, and also resulted in significantly less industry awards and accolades from both country music, and all-genre based awards. It also resulted in some of the biggest sales numbers of Taylor Swift’s career. Choosing to go with Max Martin is about trading commercial acceptance over artistic substance.

At the same time, a complete cutoff from the country music realm makes a lot of sense for Taylor Swift. What are the two biggest criticisms Taylor has faced over her career? That she can’t sing, and she’s not country. Since her debacle on the Grammy Awards with Stevie Nicks in 2010, Taylor has at least reined in her singing problems to some extent. And if she leaves country, this will put this long-suffering debate about if she’s country or not to bed for good.

So that’s good, right? Let Taylor Swift go. Let the pop world have her …. Except that she was one of the genre’s last female stars that could do battle with the men who have dominated the charts and radio, and despite the Max Martin-produced material from her last album and her early material that lacked maturity, Taylor Swift was one of the last vestiges of artistic substance mainstream country music could boast, even if she was in the genre artificially.

Country music lacks female talent. It can’t fill out the nominees for Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMA and ACM Awards even when Taylor Swift is included. All signs point to Taylor Swift wanting to shake free from her country music bonds, with the singles she released from Red, and now these quotes from Borchetta that in many respects don’t seem to be taking into account the realities of country radio. But there’s no guarantee country music is willing to play ball with Taylor Swift’s departure. Country music needs Taylor Swift, and it will be unwilling to forfeit the opportunity to have her sales and touring force fall under its umbrella without a fight.

If Taylor Swift is truly leaving country, it’s hard to declare a victory for country music here, or for Taylor Swift. Without the support of country, and with the presence of Max Martin, there’s likely going to be a lot less trophies adorning Taylor’s mantle. At the same time Taylor Swift is now free to do what she wants …. or what Max Martin wants to do with her.


  • Taylor Swift will make an announcement about her new album in late July, or early to mid August.
  • The announcement will coincide with the release of a new single.
  • The new album will be released in October, or early November.
  • There will be at least one collaboration with Justin Timberlake on the new album.
  • It will include about 15 to 18 songs.
  • Despite Scott Borchetta’s rhetoric, country radio will still play Taylor Swift, and with a lack of other leading females to fill the spots, Swift will still get nominated for country music’s top female awards.

Justin Townes Earle to Release ‘Single Mothers” Sept. 9th

June 3, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  22 Comments

justin-townes-earle-single-mothersThe wait by both Justin Townes Earle and his fans for new music is finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Justin will be releasing his 5th studio album Single Mothers on September 9th on Vagrant Records—the California-based label that is also home to artists like Black Joe Lewis, Blitzen Trapper, Edward Sharpe, and PJ Harvey. The album will be the first from Justin since his last and final record with Chicago-based Bloodshot Records, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now released in March of 2012.

After the resolution of Earle’s five-album Bloodshot contract, the son of Steve Earle and the namesake of Townes Van Zant found himself in the midst of an intense battle with the British-based label Communion Records owned in part by Ben Lovett, otherwise known as the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons. According to Earle, the company expected him to turn in 30 songs per his contract, which the label could then par down into an album release. The result was a December 15th Twitter tirade where Earle said, “I have now learned that you can never trust a bunch of babies that ain’t worked a day in their lives. May Shane McGowan kick their asses. The only thing I hate about business is that it’s frowned upon to pistol whip the competition. Tweets are gonna be angry for awhile. Just found out I won’t be making a record for a while due to a bunch of pussies in an office. Never working with another record label.”

Later, on December 18th, Earle continued, ““So I am being told that I agreed to write 30 songs and let the label “help” make the record. That for sent even sound like me! Like I would ever let some little twit fucking comb through my work. And calling me a liar well them is fighting words. Anytime bitch’s! … Let me make this clear! I have not, and never will write 30 songs in a year. That isn’t art it’s vomit. I write a record. Quality matters not quantity! I deliver records in sequence and have a pretty good record so far. I don’t need the new kids giving me tips. Lady’s and gents. I will find a way to get new music out very soon. Will write and record a solo EP. Then Find some grown ups to work with.”

Justin Townes Earle recently played the title track to Single Mothers on NPR’s Mountain Stage.

Earle has received critical acclaim for his music and songwriting since releasing the Yuma EP in 2007. In 2009 he won the Americana Music Award for New and Emerging Artist of the Year, and won Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year in 2009 for Midnight At The Movies, as well as SCM’s 2011 Artist of the Year.

Justin Townes Earle was also recently married.

Single Mothers Track List:

1. Worried Bout The Weather
2. Single Mothers
3. My Baby Drives
4. Today And A Lonely Night
5. Picture In A Drawer
6. Wanna Be A Stranger
7. White Gardenias
8. Time Shows Fools
9. It’s Cold In This House
10. Burning Pictures



Corb Lund’s Sun Studio “Counterfeit Blues” CD/DVD Coming

May 28, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  30 Comments

corb-lund-counterfeit-bluesCorb Lund, the current king of Canadian country (at least in this buckaroo’s estimation), will be releasing his latest studio incarnation called Counterfeit Blues to folks in The States on July 1st, and to those north of the border on June 17th. Counterfeit Blues will not be your average joe release though, it is a CD/DVD combo that captures Corb and his Hurtin’ Albertans live and on the floor within the confines of the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, reprising some of Corb’s most well-known compositions in new recordings.

“It turned out really well,” says Corb about the new project. “Partly because we know the songs inside out and have played them live a thousand times and partly because recording at Sun is a very old fashioned, low-tech process that ends up sounding really great if you can pull it off. My band has been playing behind me for ten years or more, with all the same members so it was a great way to capture the live chemistry we’ve developed over many, many tours. You can’t fake that.”

Some lucky Canadians may have seen Corb Lund and his Sun recording session as part of a CMT Canada documentary (that didn’t air in The States) called Memphis Sun. That documentary is where the material for the DVD comes from, and it includes three previously-unheard/unseen bonus tracks that were not in the film.

If you’re looking for one modern-day Canadian who can stand tall in his boots and go toe to toe with the American born country legends, it would be Corb Lund. Whether you’re talking about Corb Lund the songwriter, Corb Lund the singer, or Corb Lund the performer, he’s one of these five-tool musicians who can do it all. Growing up on a ranch in Southern Alberta, he’s lived as an authentic country life as any.

Counterfeit Blues CD Tracklist:

1. Counterfeiters’ Blues
2. Good Copenhagen
3. Big Butch Bass Bull Fiddle
4. Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer
5. Little Foothills Heaven
6. Five Dollar Bill
7. Buckin’ Horse Rider
8. Hurtin’ Albertan
9. (Gonna) Shine Up My Boots
10. Truck Got Stuck
11. Roughest Neck Around
12. Truth Comes Out

Memphis Sun DVD Tracklist:

1. Hurtin’ Albertan
2. No Roads Here
3. Little Foothills Heaven
4. Counterfeiters’ Blues
5. Roughest Neck Around
6. Big Butch Bass Bull Fiddle
7. Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer
8. Truck Got Stuck
9. Truth Comes Out
10. Five Dollar Bill
11. Buckin’ Horse Rider (bonus)
12. Good Copenhagen (bonus)
13. (Gonna) Shine Up My Boots (bonus)


Hayes Carll Signs with Thirty Tigers / New Album Coming

May 14, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  12 Comments

hayes-carllDistribution and publishing company Thirty Tigers has signed critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter Hayes Carll to work on a new album this fall, with hopes for an early 2015 release. Carll’s last album KMAG YOYO was released in February of 2011 through Lost Highway Records, as was his 2008 release Trouble in Mind. Both albums won him critical praise and solid commercial success, and Carll is now considered one of the mainstays of country/Americana touring channels, playing an average of 200 shows a year.

Thirty Tigers is unique in the record label business in letting artists own their own imprints with which to publish their own music. Hayes Carll’s Highway 87 will be the name under which the Houston native will release his first album in four years. Other notable Thirty Tigers artists include Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Ryan Bingham, Elizabeth Cook, and Trampled By Turtles. Hayes Carll adds another high caliber name to a company who is setting the new paradigm in music labels—one that fosters artists keeping control of their own music.

“Hayes is the rare artist that can make you laugh out loud, break your heart or turn a phrase that makes you shake your head in utter joy,” says Thirty Tigers President David Macias. “We feel proud that we get to go fight for him.”

Carll’s manager says, “Thirty Tigers is a great fit for Hayes. Their business model allows him to maintain control of his music. And, he has many deep relationships within the company that go all the way back to his first album.”


Jamey Johnson No Longer Signed with Mercury Records

May 2, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  44 Comments

jamey-johnsonIt has been since September of 2010 that fans of CMA Award-winning country music star Jamey Johnson have heard new music from the singer and songwriter. His critically-acclaimed double album The Guitar Song has had to tide listeners over for a protracted period, from an artist that before had been quite prolific. Johnson did release another album in October of 2012, but it was a tribute album, Living For A Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran.

Since then fans have been in a fog about when new music could be expected from the Alabama native, or even the nature of his label status. Then in an interview with Rolling Stone published February 10th, 2013, Jamey Johnson spelled out in specific detail that he felt he was getting a raw deal from his long-time label, Mercury Records Nashville.

“Financially speaking, they treat me worse than they ever did the Dixie Chicks,” Johnson explained to Rolling Stone. “I feel pretty used by the music industry, in that my contracts are written in such a way that I don’t get paid. It’s time for us to regroup and it’s time for us to look at these contracts. The problem is, I don’t trust any of the people that I’ve worked with so far. I believe they’ve all hidden the truth from me or lied to me or deceived me in one way or another. Because the end result is that no matter what they said or did or what they said they did, I didn’t get paid… As a musician I never studied music law. I can’t even read the contracts I’ve signed. But I’m fairly sure they don’t say what I thought they said.”

Beyond The Dixie Chick’s public blackballing from country music after making disparaging comments about then President George W. Bush, they also were part of their own contract dispute, and claimed they didn’t get paid properly for their music. Jamey also explained that the ordeal had put a damper on his desire to write songs.

Well, I wish I could tell you that I am writing. I’m not. I wish I could tell you I’m gonna go home next week and record another album. It’s not likely to happen. We haven’t reached such a gridlock that we can’t continue to do work with them in the future. But we can’t do anything right now until that gets resolved.

Well apparently it has been, though initially the nature of that resolution still left us with more questions. While playing the Mahaffey Theater at the Progress Energy Center in St. Petersburg, FL on January 17th of this year, Jamey Johnson said to the crowd,

“Last time we did a show without a record deal was ’06. Tonight’s our first show without a record deal. And somehow we’re still on the same label. We just didn’t have nowhere else to go. They set it up where now we just don’t have to stay. And here’s one for all of our friends back at Mercury Records in Nashville, Tennessee.” (video below)

After the remarks, Jamey launched into the Waylon Jennings song, “Freedom To Stay.”

Read: Country Music Writes A Letter to Jamey Johnson

Jamey’s remarks would seem to allude that he’d stayed with the label, but also that he’d left it. Or that maybe they had restructured his deal so he could leave, but he decided to stay anyway. The comments seemed to create more questions than answers—more questions there had been before. But maybe that was Jamey’s intention.

So Saving Country Music, wanting to get to the bottom of Jamey’s contract status—called Mercury Records. This is a rough sketch of how the phone conversation went.

Hello this is Trigger from Saving Country Music. I’m calling to see if I can ascertain the contract status of Jamey Johnson.
Jamey who? I don’t know who that is.
Jamey Johnson?
I don’t know. Does he or she work here?
Jamey Johnson.
Is that a new artist or something?
Won a CMA for Song of the Year? Wrote “Honky Tonk Badona Donk”? (going for the least common denominator in desperation)
Huh. I’ve never heard that name. The rest of the staff is in a meeting. I will have to find out for you.

About 5 minutes later I receive a phone call back from Mercury Records Nashville.

No. Jamey Johnson is no longer signed with us.
So he didn’t restructure his deal or anything? He’s not signed to the label whatsoever?
No. He was here, but he’s no longer signed with us. That’s all the information I can give you.

So there you go. Jamey Johnson has been stricken from the consciousness of Mercury Records Nashville and has moved on. Though this is no guarantee there’s new music coming from him, this certainly moves him one step closer.

Jamey’s remarks about his contract status can be seen at the 28:55 mark in the video below.


Johnny Cash Still Has 4 or 5 Albums Worth of Music to Release

March 26, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  11 Comments


Tuesday was the release of Johnny Cash’s “lost” album Out Among The Stars that was discovered by Johnny’s son, John Carter Cash while organizing his father’s archived recorded material. Now according to the younger Cash, and legendary producer Rick Rubin who Cash worked with beginning in the mid 90′s during his American Recordings rebirth, there is still “four or five albums” worth of Johnny Cash material to be released. Though none of this material consists of cohesive albums like Out Among The Stars and is mostly the result of outtakes and alternative versions, it will be welcome by the loyal fans of the Man in Black whose appetite for Johnny’s music appears to be endless.

“There are a few things that are in the works right now,” John Carter Cash tells The Guardian. “Probably four or five albums if we wanted to release everything. There may be three or four albums worth of American Recordings stuff, but some of it may never see the light of day.”

Lots of material from Cash’s American Recordings era has already been released posthumously, including the last two installments in the album series: 2006′s American V: A Hundred Highways, and 2010’s American VI: Ain’t No Grave. Also a box set called Unearthed was released with outtakes and alternative versions a few months after Johnny’s passing in 2003. “We released the work we had been planning to release along with John [Carter Cash] and the idea of the ‘Unearthed’ boxset of outtakes was his idea,” says Rick Rubin. “We will probably put out additional ‘Unearthed’ material recorded since the last ‘Unearthed’ box, in keeping with John’s wishes.”

Along with American Recordings-era material, a 4-disc bootleg series of previous Johnny Cash material has also been released to the public posthumously, as well as expanded recordings from his legendary concerts at Folsom and San Quentin prisons. The sheer volume of material  can be overwhelming for some fans wanting to put their ears on anything relating to Johnny Cash, but those still hungry for music from the Man in Black appear to be in store for new material for a while.


Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music”

February 20, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  54 Comments

sturgill-simpson-metamodern-sounds-in-country-music-1Announced on this morning, up-and-coming authentic country performer Sturgill Simpson will release his second solo studio album called Metamodern Sounds In Country Music on May 13th. Born in Kentucky, the former from man of Sunday Valley released his debut album High Top Mountain in 2013 to critical acclaim and was nominated for Saving Country Music’s Album of The Year. Sturgill went on to be named Saving Country Music’s Artist of the Year.

“Myriad worldly offerings—religion, drugs, and more—all claim to be the omnipotent universal truth, but in my experience, love is the only certainty. That is what this record is about,” Simpson tells Paste.

The cover art is contributed by longtime Sturgill Simpson friend Jason Seiler, known for his illustration of Pope Francis for Time Magazine.

As part of the announcement, Sturgill has also released the first single from the album “Living The Dream” (listen below).

Track List for Metamodern Sounds In Country Music:

1.Turtles All the Way Down
2. Life of Sin
3. Living the Dream
4. Voices
5. Long White Line
6. The Promise
7. A Little Light
8. Just Let Go
9. It Ain’t All Flowers
10. Pan Bowl (bonus track)


Catching Up With Whitey Morgan & The 78′s

February 16, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  11 Comments


Pictures provided by Almost Out Of Gas.

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One of the questions that comes up often in country music is “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” There’s a lot of industry country stars that would love to tell you they’re the ones, and they record songs, print up merch, and proselytize at every turn for their candidacy to fill in for the lost country greats. But beyond the glitz and the market-driven image campaigns that surround some of mainstream country’s “New Outlaws” is an artist like Whitey Morgan and his band The 78′s—a no frills, hard-charging honky tonk outfit that tours more than anyone and brings the twang and Outlaw bass beat to country night in and night out, garnering a deep and loyal grassroots following.

But it has been around three and a half years since Whitey Morgan released a record, and rumors of an unreleased live album have been out there for the better part of two. Whitey has recently been hanging around Texas, playing some shows and getting ready to make an appearance at Dale Watson’s inaugural Ameripolitan Awards show on Tuesday, February 18th, and I sat down with him before a Friday night show at The Rattle Inn in west Austin to catch up, and ask him the question Saving Country Music has been swamped with from readers over the last few months.

People ask me this all the time and so I’ll ask you: What can you tell us about new music from Whitey Morgan?

There’s definitely been some label things happening. I’m actually off Bloodshot [Records] now. That was of my doing. I’m a do-it-yourself kind of dude. I just felt like I can do all of this on my own. The next record is going to be huge. I bust my ass out on the road like almost no other band does, and everything I have is from that. It was just time for me to do something on my own and not give away too much of my money to someone who maybe wasn’t holding up their end of the deal. I’m sure they’ll argue with you on that, but that’s a record label. I have a great booking agent now and great management. I can release a record tomorrow, on my own. I have the distribution outside of a label, I have everything I need. So what do I need a label for?

What’s the story of this live album that’s been swirling out there for a while?

The live album has been done for a year and a half. That was part of the Bloodshot thing. As soon as the live album got finished and I gave it to them is when the talk started from my end that I didn’t want to be on the label any longer. Understandably, they recoiled and said “we’re not going to really release this until we resolve whatever is going to happen in this relationship first.” It will come out when it comes out, but I’ve already forgotten about it.

So a new album is in the works?

We just recorded in El Paso for five days at an unbelievable studio with an killer producer. We got three songs just about in the bag, and we’ll be back in May for seven or eight days, and try to finish up the rest of it. It’s a place called The Sonic Ranch. It’s like no other studio I’ve ever been in or even heard about. They have three live rooms and three control rooms, all on a 3,000-acre property. They have accommodations for I think up to 30 or 40 people in different haciendas. They have a staff that does your laundry and cooks every meal for you. My management is friends with the owners. I hate the studio, but I didn’t hate this studio. I didn’t feel like I was in this studio because I could leave and walk out the studio and be forty feet to my front door and it’s just me; I have my own little hotel room right there. Most studios you can’t do that. You’re stuck in there. You can go out to the parking lot and sit in the van.

whitey-morgan-guitar-2Creativity is squashed by studios that don’t have that kind of environment. I almost don’t want to tell anyone about it because I don’t need any more musicians recording there than there already are. And the equipment is unreal. Not just the recording equipment, they have tele’s galore, amps, and everything. It’s unreal. Anything you want, they have it. And it’s all because a guy that has money is passionate about music and recording. To him, it’s the ultimate dream to have musicians come hang out at his place. He’s a great dude.

I’m excited. One of the songs we recorded is an old Bobby Bare tune called “That’s How I Got To Memphis”. We put that one down and I’m really excited about that tune. It’s a little different than my kind of sound. It’s kind of got that early 80′s era sound; it’s got that minor chord in there. It’s slick. I’m trying to move on without moving too far. I know what everybody wants, they want another classic, Waylon-ish sounding album. This one’s going to be a little different, but it’s not going to be that different. We’re doing a Waylon song. I’m not going to say what Waylon song we’re doing, because I don’t think anyone’s ever covered it so I’ll keep my mouth shut on that one. But that was another song we recorded and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever recorded in my life. The three songs are already leaps and bounds better than the last two albums I did.

The plan is we’re probably going to do an EP, maybe 7 songs. The plan is just to record as much as we can over the next few years. Even if it’s not albums, put out a 7-inch here and there, digitally release two songs. Just keep it going. Never a six month stretch without new songs. And now that I’ve got the studio I want to go to, I can’t wait to just start putting music out, now that I’m able to do it legally.

Who is the producer?

His name is Ryan Hewitt. He’s one of those guys who’s been in a lot of sessions where he was either mixing or engineering or co-producing. He mixed a lot of the Johnny Cash stuff with Rick Rubin, he did The Avett Brothers last three albums. I’ve only ever produced my shit myself. Maybe five years ago I would have been more stubborn. But now, when he’d open his mouth about something, instead of just automatically being like “No, it’s got to be my way,” I think about it from someone else’s point of view and most of the time he’s right. We worked really well together.

Brett Robinson - Pedal Steel

Brett Robinson – Pedal Steel

How are The 78′s treating you?

The last time I saw you I said that was the best band I ever had. It’s even better now. The band right now, we all get along like brothers on stage and off and that’s never happened in the history of my band. Right now, every night I’m smiling, I’m having a good time. It’s been a while. I’m trying to live a little better. But when we went into the studio my anxiety was through the roof because it’s been a while and I only had a few songs prepared really. And it just jelled.

So you feel like things are going in the right direction. Can you see it in the crowds?

Oh yeah. We’re doubling, tripling, quadrupling every show we play. The internet stuff’s been going better. Everything’s been going better. I never go into a show and it’s disappointing. It’s the management and the booking, but really it’s all of it together. The fucking band is good. The old days, we’d be touring forever but it was a half-assed band. Like I’d have a fill-in drummer for eight shows. And the last year and a half to two years it’s been a fucking good band. I would go see this band.

You played Dale Watson’s new bar down in San Antonio recently. How was that?

Big T’s Roadhouse. It’s cool man, its like Little Ginny’s Longhorn Saloon, but out in the middle of nowhere. It’s even white and red, just like Little Ginny’s. About the same-sized joint. We played it on Sunday; it was Chicken Shit Bingo. It was cool, really cool.

I want to know about your guitar.

It was brand new in 2001 I believe. But it was black with white binding. I loved it, but I always wanted a tobacco burst Tele. That’s the look I always love is tobacco burst anything. So I stripped it down, repainted it, and the “WM” I painted it on there by taking some pin striping, masking it, and spraying it. Once the original frets wore out, instead of getting a fret job, I just bought a new neck. That’s the third neck I’ve had on it. It’s the U-shaped, big baseball bat neck, and it’s got new Grover tuners on it. I love it. I go to these vintage shops and pick up these 70′s tele’s and I’m like, “Oh this thing is so rad,” and then I play it and I say, “Mine plays better” because I made it exactly how I want it to play. I ended up using mine in the studio even though they had like six unbelievable tele’s there from the 60′s and 70′s.

The 78′s are Brett Robinson – Pedal Steel, Tony Dicello – Drums, Benny James Vermeylen – Guitar and Backing Vocal, and Alex Lyon – Bass.

See more pictures from the Whitey Morgan & The 78′s Show at the Rattle Inn



Curb Records to Release Hank III “Ramblin Man” Album

January 23, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  58 Comments

hank-williams-iii-ramblin-man-albumYes, the Curb Records saga for Hank3 continues.

The grandson of Hank Williams and the son of Hank Jr. is having to deal with yet another post-contract release from Curb records, this time called Rambin’ Man, slated for release on April 1st. Insert your April Fool’s jokes here. The album will include 8 tracks of outtakes, unreleased material, and cover songs Hank3 contributed to tribute albums and other projects during his Curb years. Most of the music is stuff Hank3 fans have already heard, repackaged to look like a new album.

Hank3 entered into a 6 album contract with Curb in the late 90′s after a child custody suit and a judge forced him to get a “real job”. Curb was able to stretch Hank3′s album count to 7 by releasing Hillbilly Joker in 2011; a “hellbilly” album Curb initially rejected, but released after Hank3 had fulfilled his contract at the end of 2010. Then Curb released an outtakes album in 2012 called Lone Gone Daddy that brought the total of Curb releases on Hank3′s 6-album contract to 8. Ramblin’ Man would make it 9.

With the news of the release of Long Gone Daddy, Hank3 fans knew Curb still had unreleased material from the 3rd generation star, because a cover of Johnny Paycheck’s “I’m The Only Hell (My Momma Ever Raised)” that was rejected on his Damn Right, Rebel Proud album had yet to surface. Though Curb decided at the time that the cover song was not fit for public consumption, similar to how they rejected Hank3′s Hillbilly Joker album altogether, they see perfectly fit to release the song now on this new record.

Hypothetically, Ramblin’ Man would be the last of Hank3′s material from the Curb era, though the inevitable “Greatest Hits” card has yet to be played by the label.

Some other interesting notes from the track list: “On My Own” was a song from Hank3′s previous Curb record Risin’ Outlaw. “Ramblin’ Man” is a song by Hank Williams that Hank3 once recorded a cover of with The Melvins, as was Merle Haggards “Okie From Muskogee”. “Fearless Boogie” is a ZZ Top song Hank3 once covered on the tribute Sharp Dressed Men. “Marijuana Blues” originally appeared on Rare Breed: The Songs of Peter LaFarge.

Hank3 has previously encouraged fans to burn these albums and share them instead of buy them. He’s also indicated intention to release new material in 2014.

Ramblin’ Man Track List:

  1. Ramblin’ Man
  2. Fearless Boogie
  3. Okie From Muskogee
  4. The Only Hell (My Momma Ever Raised)
  5. On My Own [Full Length Version]
  6. Marijuana Blues
  7. Hang On
  8. Runnin’ & Gunnin’

Billy Joe Shaver to Release First Studio Album in 7 Years

November 16, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  13 Comments

billy-joe-shaverBilly Joe Shaver is getting ready to record and release his first studio album in 7 years, according to the 74-year-old Outlaw country songwriter and performer. Shaver released a couple of live albums last year, Live At Billy Bob’s Texas and the Live from Austin, TX: Austin City Limits – August 14, 1984, but this will be the first album of new material since his 2007 predominantly Christian album, Everybody’s Brother.

“I’m doing my first studio album in seven or eight years and I’ll be doing that I think December first, second or something like that,” Shaver told the Fort Stockton Pioneer ahead of a show in Alpine, TX.  “Hopefully getting it out in a couple of months. It’s all new too and different…There are some political things. The songs are so different then what’s on the radio now. It’s either going to change things around or get kicked out. One or the other. I’m hoping that this here will, as a matter of fact I know it will, it’ll kick ass…it’s going to be a good one.”

Shaver, who got his big break in country music when Waylon Jennings’ breakout album Honky Tonk Heroes included all but one Shaver-written song, also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a little sabre rattling about the current state of country music.

“I feel like that I’m still doing the same thing I always did, it just got lost in the shuffle because all this new stuff came in. There’s a lot of money behind these people…It’s just people trying to make money, that’s all it is and I can’t begrudge anybody for trying to make money. We’re all trying to make a living and do the best we can.  I feel that the art part of it just went out the window…but every once in awhile you will hear a good song. I can’t say that it’s all bad, it’s not. It’s just most of it’s bad…It’s kind of gotten way out of hand right now I think, but the solid foundation is still there.”

Billy Joe Shaver has had a tumultuous last 7 years. After coming out of a period where his wife, his son and guitar player Eddy, and his mother all passed away in a span of 2 years, Shaver battled a bad shoulder injury, and charges stemming from a shooting at the Papa Joe’s bar near Waco in 2007 that resulted in an assault trial against the songwriter, and a song chronicling the event by Dale Watson called “Where Do You Want It?” Shaver was eventually acquitted when it was found he acted in self-defense, with help from character witnesses Willie Nelson and Robert Duvall.


Garth Brooks to Release 6 CD “Blame It All On My Roots” Box Set

November 10, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  18 Comments


***NOTE: This story has been updated.

Garth Brooks, who’s been making overtures recently about a country music comeback and new releases, will reportedly be releasing a box set called Blame It All On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences through Wal-Mart on November 28th. The initial announcement about the release was made briefly during Garth’s television special also entitled Blame It All On My Roots that aired Saturday night (11-9) on GAC. The box set will include 6 CD’s and two DVD’s, with 10 songs on each disc covering the various influences that went into Garth’s country career.

garth-brooks-blame-it-all-on-my-roots-box-setThe project appears to be mirroring the theme of Garth’s recent shows in Las Vegas of exploring his roots through cover songs. Four discs will be entitled Country Classics, Classic Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul, and Melting Pot for their respective influences. Some of the songs that will be covered in the release include the classic Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn duet “After The Fire Is Gone” with wife Trisha Yearwood, Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls Of Fire,” Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.”

Garth’s final show at Wynn Casino’s Encore Theater in Las Vegas is set to air as a CBS Special on November 28th.


The Return of Garth Brooks Could Have a Colossal Impact

October 31, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  76 Comments

garth-brooks-hall-of-fameOh the irony that the man whose name is on the tip of many people’s tongues as the one who brought country music to its knees and made it more about money than music, could also be the man in the best position to ultimately help save it.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about Garth Brooks.

Over the past few weeks and months, Garth has been dropping hints to fans that the future will hold some big announcements, and big events. Last week he released the cryptic message, “The sevens have aligned. It has begun… Thank you for believing… love, g.” He also announced recently that he will be ending his Las Vegas residence, and that his last show on November 29th will be televised on CBS. Rumors and conjecture are swirling, but so far there has been little information that is either concrete or confirmed about Garth’s future.

In truth there’s a lot less mystery here than some would like you to believe. What’s going to happen is that here very soon, either on his November 29th TV special or shortly before or after, Garth will announce a new album, and plans for a subsequent arena/stadium tour in support, and it will all transpire in 2014. As much as Garth may want to get everybody buzzing with speculation and anticipation, this is exactly what he said he was going to do when he quote “retired” from country music in 2000. He said then that he wanted to take more time to be with his family, and that once his kiddos were done with school, he’d ponder a return. And lo and behold, his youngest daughter Allie is now 17, and scheduled to graduate High School this year. So yes, 7′s are aligning, or whatever.

This is 2013, and everything surrounding the name “Garth Brooks” has changed. If you’re taking to some social network channel to beam, “Hey you know what? With the crap that’s out there today in country music, Garth Brooks doesn’t even sound half that bad,” then you are already a couple of years behind the relevant opinion curve. Whatever Waylon Jennings said or didn’t say about Garth, pantyhose, and a certain element of foreplay that Garth was the equivalent to, it’s all virtually irrelevant at this point. The simple fact is Garth Brooks, despite a nearly 15-year absence from the full-time music hustle, is as poised as any to make major waves in the country music world, and to do so his way.

READ: Why Time Has Been Kind to the Music of Garth Brooks

In many ways the 7′s have aligned for Garth, and not just because of the particulars of his personal life. Last year George Strait announced he would end full-time touring, and he’s making his final rounds on the arena/stadium circuit as we speak. Both Alan Jackson and Vince Gill have recently accepted their fate that they’re no longer top tier concert draws, and have gone in a more rootsy direction and taken their places as country music legacy acts. Even Kenny Chesney said recently he’s going to take a break from touring. All of this leaves a massive void in the country music touring realm for a big-drawing, well-established artist.

But just what shape will Garth’s triumphant return take? That is really the only question left to answer. We really don’t have much intel or insight into this subject this early in his phase of returning, but what I do feel confident in going on the record as saying is that I don’t see Garth getting involved in either the country rap or laundry list lyric craze, or any other current pop country trend. As much as Garth’s detractors hate to admit it, one of the reasons he retired, and one of the reasons his regrettable Chris Gains era reared its ugly head is because Garth was bored, and didn’t want to chase trends. Garth wanted to make his own trends, and his own music. Whatever Garth does, it will be true to Garth.

And Garth also won’t do anything unless he knows it’s going to be successful, both with its reception and its financial reward. He’s already voiced concerns about how the digital age will effect his ability to release music. If/when he does release music and go on tour, he will have all bets hedged, and it will be huge.

And even if Garth gets out on stage and acts like a jukebox of his Greatest Hits with some new material mixed in, this will offer such a stark contrast to country music’s current flavors, it will immediately constitute a positive counter-balance, swinging the scales in whatever degree back to the true sound of country music. Look at what Garth has been doing at his Vegas shows. He’s been stripping them back, just him and his acoustic guitar, playing songs from Merle Haggard and George Jones. I don’t expect to see this specifically from his reboot, but I do expect it to be traditional and substantive in nature compared to the current country mainstream. Garth isn’t going to be able to fool anyone. He can’t fit in Luke Bryan’s skinny jeans. He’s going to get out there and be Garth, and by the sheer draw of a man who’s bested only by Elvis in album sales in music history will create a dramatic amount of interest, and assert a tremendous amount of influence.


Loretta Lynn’s Broken Ribs Forces Cancellation of Shows

September 7, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  4 Comments

loretta-lynnThe Coal Miners Daughter and Country Music Hall of Famer Loretta Lynn has been forced to cancel a couple of weekend shows after cracking two ribs last weekend right before a big concert at her ranch in Hurricane Mills, TN. The 78-year-old was trying to get her guitar out of a closet when it apparently fell on her, forcing her into a dresser and breaking two of her ribs. She persevered through the pain for her big Labor Day show, not appreciating the severity of her injury, but has decided the pain is too unbearable to play two separate shows at Choctaw Casino Resorts in Oklahoma this weekend. Both shows have been rescheduled for December 29th and 30th.

“I’ve had to cancel my shows in Oklahoma this weekend. I hate more than anything to miss shows, but sometimes you just have to,” Loretta explained to her fans. “I’m like an accident waiting to happen these days. I was trying to get my guitar down out of my closest and the dang thing fell on top of me causing me to fall into my dresser. All this happened right before my big Labor Day Concert at my Ranch in Hurricane Mills. I didn’t know how bad I hurt myself until the next day. Come to find out I had broken two of my ribs. We are rescheduling the shows now.”

Loretta’s next set of shows, staring in Daytona Beach, FL on September 13th are still scheduled.

Even at 78, Loretta has been staying busy, telling Billboard Magazine recently that she wishes to collaborate with Jack White again. The pairing was responsible for Loretta’s landmark album Van Lear Rose in 2004. She also said she has three separate projects on the way—a Christmas album, a gospel album, and a collaboration with singer songwriter Shawn Camp on an album of mountain songs.

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