The biggest takeaway from SXSW 2017 will be that for the first time since the very inception of the idea over 30 years ago, the annual music gathering experienced a palpable draw down in attendance and industry participation to a degree that it fundamentally changed many of the dynamics and rigors one must endure to attend.
For most artists, their careers start off by driving around in vans to club shows across the country, and if they’re lucky perhaps they graduate to a bus sometime down the road. Most artists start by making some noise in their home state, and then maybe hope to garner the attention of a national audience. For Sunny Sweeney, the arc has been nearly the opposite.
Tribute records, just like compilations and live recordings, can be a tough sell and a tedious listen. However, by smartly selecting songs that are worthy of being heard again, but are not the obvious “Greatest Hits” of Lefty’s legacy, Brennen avoids the common pitfall of tribute records. And making her renditions that much more compelling and unique is the fact that she’s a woman singing these songs.
Brennen Leigh, Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzell, Brian Kremer, Cris Burns, Jenn Miori, Lee Ann Womack, Lefty Frizzell, Lisa Pankratz, Noel McKay, Review, Roger Wallace, Rosie and the Ramblers, Selena Rosenblam, Sunny Sweeney, T Jerrod Bonta, The Carper Family
You can’t look anywhere in the Austin independent country scene without seeing Brennen Leigh’s name. If she’s not fronting her own band, she’s playing in any number of other projects as a side musician. Or she’s in the studio singing harmonies or recording guitar tracks, or contributing a song to someone else’s project like she recently did to Lee Ann Womack’s “The Way I’m Livin'” album.
Antique Persuasion, Beth Chrisman, Brennen Leigh, Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzell, Chris Scruggs, Cris Burns, Lee Ann Womack, Noel McKay, Sunny Sweeny, T Jerrod Bonta, Teri Joyce, The Carper Family
When you sit down to assemble a list of candidates for Song of the Year, you almost start to tremble in the face of so much creativity, inspiration, and insight, and grow humbled by how fortunate we are to live in such a bountiful time for music. Candidates for Song of the Year can’t just be songs we enjoy, they are songs that make you change the way you see the world, or change the way you see yourself.
2013, Adam Hood, Alone In Memphis, Ashley Monroe, Austin Lucas, best songs, Brandy Clark, Brennen Leigh, Brian Keane, Caitlin Rose, Charlie Robison, Deadman's Blues, Disappear On Down The Line, Drinkin', El Camino, Elephant, Hank3, Holly Williams, I'll Sing About Mine, Jason Isbell, JB Beverley, John Moreland, Josh Abbott Band, Lindi Ortega, Matt Woods, Noel McKay, Shane McAnally, Song of the Year, Stripes, Sturgill Simpson, Tin Star, Valerie June, Wade Bowen Songs About Trucks
Gone are the days of the legendary duet pairings in country music like George and Tammy, Loretta and Conway, but the Austin country scene’s power couple of Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay have revitalized the country duet concept album in a smart, brilliant, hilarious, and sweet offering called Before The World Was Made.
The Carper Family is at it again with a brand new album called Old-Fashioned Gal, and it’s a family affair featuring The Carper Family troika of Melissa Carper, Beth Crisman, and Jenn Miori, right beside some of the brightest talents of Austin, TX’s old-school country scene. The Carper Family girls can shift from Western Swing, old-school country, folk, covers and originals, embellishing it all with exquisite three-part harmony.
I remember a few years ago I was at the Hole in the Wall bar in Austin, TX, right by the UT campus, watching songwriting couple Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay performing. Brennen Leigh told the crowd that right after the show, her and Noel had to drive to Nashville, and how she was dreading the trip. “But then Noel reminded me that since we’re going north, we get to stop in West for kolaches, and so now I’m super excited.”