Browsing articles tagged with " Randy Travis"
Feb
17

2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Picks & Prognostications

February 17, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  76 Comments

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It’s that time of year again when we’re on the verge of hearing who the next class of inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame will be. Though the date seems to be getting later and later each year (last year it stretched all the way to April 10th—2012 was announced on March 6th), as soon as spring starts to break, you can be assured an announcement is coming soon.

It must be said whenever broaching the subject of the Country Music Hall of Fame that it has been The Hall’s desire over the years to have it be an exclusive institutions when it comes to inductees. Where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and certain sports seem to throw the barn doors wide and accept all comers, the Country Music Hall of Fame would rather take gruff for who is not in the The Hall as opposed to who shouldn’t be, but is. You can always induct someone in the future, but it’s nearly impossible to throw someone out.


The Rules

country-music-hall-of-fameThe Country Music Hall of Fame inductees are selected through a committee process appointed by the Country Music Association, or CMA. Since 2010, the selection process has been split up into three categories. 1) Modern Era (eligible for induction 20 years after they first achieve “national prominence”). 2) Veterans Era (eligible for induction 45 years after they first achieve “national prominence”). 3) Non-Performer, Songwriter, and Recording and/or Touring Musician active prior to 1980 (rotates every 3 years). With a musician, Hargus “Pig” Robbins selected in 2012, and a non-performer in “Cowboy” Jack Clement selected last year (though he was a performer and songwriter, it was more for his producer role), it would a songwriter’s turn up to bat this year.

Since 2001, anywhere from 2 to 4 names have been added to the Hall of Fame each year. Usually one name from the above mentioned categories makes it per year, but if no name gets enough of a majority vote, a category may not be represented in a given year. Or, if two names get enough votes from a category, then both may come from that category.

See The Complete Hall of Fame Induction Process


Potential Modern Era Inductees

Last year’s inductee – Kenny Rogers

ricky-skaggsRicky Skaggs – Ricky Skaggs is the artist that has felt like he’s been right on the bubble of being inducted over the last couple of years. Skaggs has bookened his career as a mandolin maestro, studied under Bill Monroe, and is now firmly ensconcing himself as a country music elder. In between then, he had tremendous commercial success in the 80′s when country was searching for its next superstar. Few could argue with this pick and Skaggs is very well liked across country music. He was also announced recently as the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Artist in Residence.” Though there is no official correlation between being named an Artist in Residence and being inducted the next year, that coincidence has happened numerous times, including for last year’s modern era inductee, Kenny Rogers. Skaggs has to be considered a frontrunner.

ronnie-milsapRonnie Milsap - Milsap is a name that has probably been on final ballots for the Hall of Fame for going on two decades, and in a couple of years will cycle over to a veteran’s era candidate, if he hasn’t already depending on where you want to start the clock on him. Though his commercial success is unquestionable, the fact that he started outside the genre and found a lot of his success as a crossover star might make him a hard name for voters to pull the trigger on. Having said that, seeing another name who started outside of country and had a lot of his success in the crossover world get inducted last year in Kenny Rogers, might move Milsap one step closer.

alan-jacksonAlan Jackson – 2013 was Jackson’s first year of eligibility, and there was a sense he just missed out on being a first year Modern Era inductee like Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire. A huge commercial success in his day who always payed homage to the roots of the genre and the artists who came before him, Jackson is a shoe-in for The Hall eventually, and should be a very strong candidate this year. He’s well-liked, with little to no baggage (there was that whole George Jones “Choices” thing back in 1999 at the CMA Awards, but hey, that was a long time ago). Alan Jackson is a strong contender.

randy-travisRandy Travis – At this time last year, despite Randy’s fresh eligibility and unquestionable credentials for the Hall, he was facing a string of drunk driving charges, and spinning the unsavory story of trying to bum a cigarette at a gas station naked. In such a crowded field, it was easy to give Travis a pass. But this year the story is much different. After suffering from a heart condition and stroke while in the midst of a strong recovery from his personal issues, Randy Travis has to be considered the sympathy favorite for the distinction. Will it be enough? Maybe not, but Randy will be a frontrunner in the Modern Era until he’s inducted.

brooks-and-dunnBrooks & Dunn – A commercial powerhouse whose career was somewhat overshadowed by the success of Garth and their strange place as a non-familial country duo, their first album Brand New Man sold 6 million copies, and they won the CMA for Vocal Duo of the Year every year but one between 1992 and 2006. Their success is not debatable, but did they have the type of influence it takes to be Hall of Famers this early in their eligibility window, and with this crowded of a field? And does the fact that they’re no longer a functioning act hurt them, or is Kix with his radio work and Dunn with his brewing country revolution still visible enough? A few more names may have to tick off the list before their turn, but they have to be considered contenders.

Other Possible Modern Era Inductees:

  • The Oak Ridge Boys – Another Strong Contender
  • The Judds
  • Dwight Yoakam – You’d think with 25 million records sold, his name would be more associated with this distinction. Maybe in the coming years.
  • Keith Whitley – Garth Brooks a couple of years ago said he deserved induction before him.
  • Clint Black – If it wasn’t for his career’s disappearing act, his name would be right up there with Travis, Jackson, and Brooks & Dunn
  • Toby Keith – Officially eligible because he had his first success in 1993, but probably on the outside-looking-in for the next few years
  • Charlie Daniels
  • Tayna Tucker
  • Crystal Gayle
  • Gene Watson
  • Mickey Gilley

Potential Veterans Era Inductees

Last year’s inductee – Bobby Bare

Predicting the Veterans Era nominees is notoriously foolhardy because they pull from such a wide field of potential inductees. It’s made one measure harder by a general lack of chatter out there surrounding potential nominees compared to previous years. But here’s a few educated guesses.

jerry-lee-lewisJerry Lee Lewis – He’s a definite possibility for induction, and with the lack of a clear front runner, this might be his year. He may be held back some since he came from rock & roll, and his antics on The Grand Ole Opry and other places over the years. But his contributions as one of country music’s preeminent piano players cannot be denied. If Elvis is in the Country Hall (and he is), his old Sun Studios buddy can’t be counted out.

jerry-reedJerry Reed – Such a great ambassador over the years for country music from his work with Smokey & The Bandit to Scooby-Doo, but Jerry Reed should be inducted for his stellar and influential work as both a performer, songwriter, and a musician. There weren’t many better guitar pickers back in the day than Jerry Reed. And his work as a session musician with so many of country music’s big names made him a well-known and likable character throughout the genre.

hank-williams-jrHank Williams Jr. – It’s somewhat hard to know if Hank Jr. should be considered a Veteran or Modern Era candidate because of the double-era aspect of his career, but he’s a contender either way. However despite his two CMA Entertainer of the Year awards and millions of albums sold, you don’t get the sense it’s his time just yet. Only playing around 18 shows a year these days, and generally being once removed from the moving and shaking of the country genre while he pursues a quasi political career, Hank Jr. could be passed over this year others pushing harder for the distinction.

lynn-andersonLynn Anderson & Dottie West – Lynn and Dottie are the two ladies that likely lead the field for female veteran inductees. Both of these ladies are right on the bubble, as they have probably been for many years. Since there wasn’t a woman inductee last year and there’s no strong female contenders in the Modern Era category, the pressure to include a woman from the veteran field in 2014 might be greater.

maddox-brothers-and-roseThe Maddox Brothers & Rose – The Maddox Brothers & Rose was a name that probably wasn’t on many people’s radar until the last couple of years. With their prominent place at the very beginning of the Hall of Fame’s current Bakersfield Sound exhibit, it is hard not to see how important their influence was on country, especially West Coast country, and the flashy dress of country performers that still influences the genre today. It may be a long shot, but if groups like The Jordanaires and The Sons of the Pioneers are in The Hall, certainly The Maddox Brothers & Rose should be. And it would be great to see happen while the final member, the 91-year-old Don Maddox, is still around.

gram-parsonsGram Parsons – Gram’s inclusion here is always a topic of great discussion. In 2013 there was a greater push than ever to induct him, with influential Country Music writer Chet Flippo personally making the case for him, and other chatter that 2013 might be his year. But it wasn’t, and it may be years before it is, but his name is always in the field for this accolade, and looking at the influence Gram had showing millions of rock and roll fans the beauty of country music, it should be.

john-hartfordJohn Hartford – This is a long shot pick, but he deserves induction. As I said in my prognostications from a couple of year ago, “The Country Music Hall of Fame works like a timeline as you walk through the displays that weave around the massive archive in the center of the building. As you start from the beginning, each artist and their impact is displayed on a plaque that includes their Hall of Fame induction date. When I came to the John Hartford display on my last visit to The Hall this summer, he was the first to have a display, but no Hall of Fame induction date.”

tompall-glaserTompall Glaser & The Glaser Brothers – Probably another long shot, but one that has to be considered a more legitimate contender in 2014 with the passing of Tompall last year. It probably helps that his brothers-in-Outlaw-country-arms Bobby Bare and “Cowboy” Jack Clement were inducted last year, moving folks like Tompall and other Outlaw-esque country music personalities one step closer in the process.

johnny-paycheck-150x150Johnny Paycheck and David Allan Coe – These names come up every year from hard country fans, and are names regularly held up as evidence of the Hall of Fame’s illegitimacy. The simple truth is that with these two performer’s shady pasts, Hall of Fame induction is going to be difficult. Johnny Paycheck has a more distinct possibility than David Allan Coe, because Coe could create a public relations nightmare for the Hall of Fame from people (correct or not) who label Coe a racist, sexist, etc. etc. Patience mixed with persistence is what Coe and Paycheck fans need to see their heroes inducted, as time heals all wounds. One positive sign for them is the induction of Bobby Bare and “Cowboy” Jack Clement last year. This means the CMA committee is willing to pick Outlaw artists and personalities for the Hall, and those two inductions move Paycheck and Coe two steps closer.

Randomly, I also think there’s a strong chance that the next major rotating exhibit at The Hall could be a feature on the Outlaw era of country, which might also give people like Paycheck, Coe, Tompall, and others a chance to be featured at the Hall of Fame beyond induction.

Other Possible Veterans Era Inductees:

  • Jimmy Martin
  • Vern Gosdin
  • Ralph Stanley
  • Johnny Horton
  • The Browns
  • June Carter Cash
  • Wynn Stewart
  • Jim Ed Brown

Potential Songwriter Inductees

Last songwriter inducted – Bobby Braddock in 2011

The 3rd category rotates between a musician, a non-performer (executive, producer, journalist, etc.), or songwriter on different years. 2014 would be a songwriter year.

Though there may be some artists that would technically qualify for induction under this category like Keith Whitley, Townes Van Zandt, Billy Joe Shaver, or any number of other artists that have extensive songwriting credits, this category is meant for behind-the-scenes songwriters who would never be inducted if not for this category. Though the award might go to someone with a little more modern success as a songwriter to go along with their storied history, here’s two interesting names that deserve strong consideration.

Hank Cochran

Hank Cochran

Hank Cochran  – Hank would be a worthy inductee, and it just might happen for him as a songwriter of both critical acclaim and commercial success. It can’t hurt that Jamey Johnson also recently release a tribute to Cochran, making him front-of-mind when voters are thinking of songwriters who deserve this distinction. Cochran should be considered a front runner.

John D. Loudermilk – A cousin to The Louvin Brothers that had great commercial success as a songwriter in the 60′s and 70′s, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976, and certainly deserves consideration for this distinction. Nonetheless, it’s probably a long shot.

Shel Silverstein would be another interesting name.


Picks and Predictions

Who I Think Will Be Inducted

  • Ricky Skaggs or Alan Jackson – Modern Era
  • Jerry Lee Lewis, Vern Gosdin, or Jerry Reed – Veterans Era
  • Hank Cochran – Songwriter

Who I Think Should Be Inducted

  • Ricky Skaggs – Modern Era
  • Maddox Brothers & Rose / Tompall & The Glaser Brothers – Veterans Era
  • Hank Cochran – Songwriter

Feb
6

UPDATED: Randy Travis Getting His Voice Back, Makes Public Appearance

February 6, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  19 Comments

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***UPDATE – Randy Travis made his first public appearance since his stroke on Friday, 2-8-14. See full update below.

Randy Travis is beginning to regain his voice, and there are more positive signs in the recovery of the ailing country star according to his family and other sources.

Randy’s father Harold Traywick has told Closer Magazine that, “He’s getting his voice back now, little by little.” Another unnamed source says that Randy is “anxious to get back to work and connect with his fans,” and is willing to do “whatever it takes to regain everything [he] lost.” Randy has been working through grueling physical therapy sessions to improve his strength and motor skills. “Randy’s doctors are extremely pleased with his progress,” says the source.

There is even word that Randy is working on plans to promote his latest album Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am that was released on September 30th, 2013 amidst Randy’s health woes. This news comes on the heels of photos of Randy on his ranch that surfaced in late January, showing the singer smiling and in good spirits.

Randy Travis was initially admitted to the hospital on July 7th, 2013 for viral cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart muscle. While being treated for the condition at The Heart Hospital in Plano, TX, Travis suffered a stroke as a complication to the treatment, and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The surgery was successful, but Travis remained in the hospital until late July when he was moved to a rehabilitation facility to deal with the effects of the stroke. While in rehab, Travis contracted pneumonia according to friend Sammy Kershaw. Travis remained in inpatient care until October 11th when he returned to his ranch in Tioga, TX.

In November of 2013, Randy’s father Harold Traywick gave the grim outlook that Randy Travis may never perform again, saying that Randy was paralyzed on his right side and could barely speak. Since then, the news has been more upbeat about Randy’s recovery, with news that he had progressed from needing a wheelchair, to being able to walk with a walker, to now being able to walk on his own.

Specifics on Randy’s condition have been hard to come by for fans worried about the long-term effects from Randy’s recent health problems, leading to much speculation and concern. Randy himself has still yet to make any public appearances or statements since his recent health scare.


***UPDATE 2/8/14: Randy Travis made his first public appearance since his heart problems & stroke at a Smiles For Life benefit concert in Dallas, TX on January 30th. Randy’s good friend Neal McCoy invited him backstage and posted this picture on February 7th. “Pretty honored this was Randy’s first time out and his first time to have Cowboy boots on since his illness,” said McCoy. “Gettin’ Better!!!”

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Jan
21

Photos of a Recovering Randy Travis Surface

January 21, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  14 Comments

randy-travis-ranch-2Photos of a recovering Randy Travis have finally been surfacing on Twitter over the recent days—the first glimpse concerned country music fans have seen of the future Country Hall of Famer since he suffered a stroke and subsequent health issues in July of 2013. A smiling Travis looks to be on the road to recovery.

Randy Travis was initially admitted to the hospital on July 7th, 2013 for viral cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart muscle. While being treated for the condition at The Heart Hospital in Plano, TX, Travis suffered a stroke as a complication to the treatment, and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The surgery was successful, but Travis remained in the hospital until late July when he was moved to a rehabilitation facility to deal with the effects of the stroke. While in rehab, Travis contracted pneumonia according to friend Sammy Kershaw. Travis remained in inpatient care until October 11th when he returned to his ranch in Tioga, TX.

randy-travis-ranch-1On January 19th, family friend Anthony Maurizio posted a black and white photo of Randy with his fiance Mary Beougher standing behind him, with the caption “Glad to see Randy Travis healing nicely.” Bobby and Lisa Vaughn also posted photos of Randy on Jan. 19th sitting in a covered ATV at his ranch in Tioga.

In early November, Randy’s father Harold Traywick gave the grim outlook that Randy Travis may never perform again, saying that Randy was paralyzed on his right side and could barely speak. Since then, the news has been more upbeat about Randy’s recovery. Artist Bonnie Paul who has co-written songs with Randy said through Twitter on December 9th, 2013 that Randy was out of the wheelchair and able to walk with a walker. Then on December 20th she said that Randy was walking on his own.

Specifics on Randy’s condition have been hard to come by for fans worried about the long-term effects from Randy’s recent health problems, leading to much speculation and concern. Randy himself has yet to make any public appearances or statements since his recent health scare, and there has been no official word from doctors on the severity of his condition or the long-term prognosis.

Photos from Anthony Maurizio:

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Dec
9

Top 10 Biggest Country Music News Stories in 2013

December 9, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  24 Comments

20132013 was a year defined by massive stories in country music. From historic deaths like the passing of country music writer Chet Flippo, artist and producer Tompall Glaser, producer and songwriter “Cowboy” Jack Clement, Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne and others, to the feuds that erupted as country music continues to be in the midst of a culture war, 2013 was tumultuous to say the least.

Please note that these top 10 stories are not based off of what Saving Country Music sees as the most important, but the amount of traffic and interest each story received, sometimes accrued over multiple stories on the same subject. So it’s you who chose what the top stories were.

10. Gary Allan Calls Out Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift

gary-allanWith so many call outs and feuds transpiring in 2013, this one tends to get swept under the rug. When asked by Larry King Whether Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood are country, Gary Allan responded:

“You know, I would say no. I would say they’re pop artists making a living in the country genre. I also feel like we lost our genre. I don’t feel like I make music for a genre anymore, and I did, you know, 15 years ago. But I think since the Clear Channel’s and the Cumulus’s and the big companies bought up all the chains, now it’s about a demographic. You know, so they’ve kind of sliced everything up, feeding it to the public in demographics.”

Gary Allan later back peddled from his statements pretty hard after it caused a blowup.

9. Tom Petty Calls Modern Country Bad Rock with a Fiddle.

tom-pettyThough there had been a few rumblings from other artists ahead of Tom Petty’s statements, it was his interview with Rolling Stone that got the 2013 Season of Discontent rolling in earnest.

“Well, yeah I mean, I hate to generalize on a whole genre of music, but it does seem to be missing that magic element that it used to have. I’m sure there are people playing country that are doing it well, but they’re just not getting the attention that the shittier stuff gets. But that’s the way it always is, isn’t it?

“But I hope that kind of swings around back to where it should be. But I don’t really see a George Jones or a Buck Owens or any anything that fresh coming up. I’m sure there must be somebody doing it, but most of that music reminds me of rock in the middle Eighties where it became incredibly generic and relied on videos.”

8. Jason Aldean Defends Luke Bryan from Zac Brown

jason-aldean-2Luke Bryan’s pop country buddy Jason Aldean came to the rescue when Zac Brown called Luke Bryan’s song “That’s My Kind Of Night” the “worst song ever” (see below). The reaction also stimulated an explosive rant against Jason Aldean from Saving Country Music.

“I hear some other artist are bashing my boy @lukebryan new song, sayin its the worst song they have ever heard…….. To those people runnin their mouths, trust me when i tell u that nobody gives a shit what u think. Its a big ol hit so apparently the fans love it which is what matters. Keep doin ur thing LB!!!”

7. 47th Annual CMA Awards

CMA-AwardsFrom all the usual pop frivolity, to the very unlikely win for Entertainer of the Year by George Strait, the 47th Annual CMA Awards became one of the biggest story lines in 2013, including the Saving Country Music LIVE Blog of the event, and our recap the next day:

“Was it a parting gift for Strait after announcing his final tour? Of course it was. But it doesn’t mean it wasn’t deserved, and it doesn’t mean it isn’t sweet, both for George, and for traditional country fans, even the ones who may not mark themselves as big George Strait supporters. Strait’s win marks the first time in a decade a true country artist has won the trophy.”

6. Willie Nelson Band Bus Crashes

willie-nelson-tour-bus-accidentWillie’s long-time drummer and manager Paul English, his brother, and another crew member of Willie Nelson’s family band sustained minor injuries, but luckily the accident was not as bad as the picture appeared when it first surfaced. As the elder statesman of country music, the safety and health of Willie Nelson is always a concern for country fans.

“One of Willie Nelson’s band buses—not Willie’s famed Honeysuckle Rose—was involved in a bad accident late last night (11-22) in Texas on Interstate 30 in icy, Winter conditions. The accident occurred at roughly 3:30 AM Central time near Sulphur Springs. Multiple injuries have been reported, with multiple band members and/or crew injured, including Willie Nelson’s long-time drummer Paul English who reportedly broke his ankle.”

5. Zac Brown Calls Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind Of Night” The Worst Song Ever

zac-brownThe biggest of the 2013 country music blowups by far, Zac Brown takes Luke Bryan’s booty-shaking country rap to task.

“I love Luke Bryan and he’s had some great songs, but this new song is the worst song I’ve ever heard. I know Luke, he’s a friend. ‘My Kind Of Night’ is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. I see it being commercially successful, in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that. Country fans and country listeners deserve to have something better than that, a song that really has something to say, something that makes you feel something. Good music makes you feel something. When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs.”

4. Randy Travis Suffers Heart Problem & Stroke

randy-travisWhen a country music legend is debilitated when he’s still in his mid 50′s, especially one with the voice and talent of Randy Travis, it is nothing short of a travesty. Continuing the pain and intrigue in the story has been the lack of information on just exactly how well Randy is doing, though his father says the situation looks bleak. Thoughts and prayers continue for Randy Travis, and maybe one of the big stories of 2014 will be his recovery and return.

“Country Music singer Randy Travis is in critical condition in a Texas hospital, according to his publicist, and has now suffered a stroke. Travis was admitted the the hospital on Sunday July 7th for complications with viral cardiomyopathy that he acquired recently.

Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle or another problem with the heart muscle. It often occurs when the heart cannot pump as well as it should, or with other heart function problems. Most patients with cardiomyopathy eventually suffer from heart failure. Though the term can apply to most diseases affecting the heart, it is usually only reserved for the most severe myocardial disease leading to heart failure.”

3. George Jones Passes Away

george-jonesIn a year of notable country deaths, this is one of the biggest in the history of the genre as arguably the best singer to ever grace country music passes away. From the the news of his death, to the the unveiling of the monument in Nashville, to the historic tribute show that transpired in place of what was supposed to be his last show, the passing of George Jones was one of the biggest stories in 2013, as it should be.

“George Jones, aka, The Possum, has died at age 81. While in the midst of his 60-date farewell tour, Jones was hospitalized for running a slight fever and for having irregular blood pressure, canceling shows in both Atlanta, and Salem, VA. His next show was to be tomorrow, April 27th, in Huntsville, AL. George had been suffering from breathing problems for the last few years. A family member told TMZ, ‘He has been on oxygen for a long while now and his lungs finally just couldn’t do it anymore and they collapsed and he passed away. He couldn’t breathe anymore on his own.’ The official cause of death has been named ‘Hypoxic Respiratory Failure.’”

2. Blake Shelton Calls Classic Country Fans “Old Farts & Jackasses”

blake-sheltonArguably one of the stories we’ll reflect back on as putting Saving Country music on the map, Blake Shelton in a documentary on GAC had some unkind things to say about country music’s classic and traditional country fans, causing Ray Price to respond, Willie Nelson to rename his tour the “Old Farts and Jackasses” tour, and making the term “Old Farts and Jackasses” a term of endearment amongst true country fans heretofore.

“If I am ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ that must mean that I’m one of those people now that gets to decide if it moves forward and if it moves on. Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.”

1. Wayne Mills Shot & Killed By Chris Ferrell in Nashville

wayne-mills-3Despite all the massive news stories of 2013, this is the one that caused the most intrigue and outrage. From the news of Wayne’s death, to the controversial airing of a Spike TV reality show featuring the bar where Wayne was shot, to the two week wait until the arrest of the shooter Chris Ferrell, to the memorial, it was the biggest story of 2013, that with a potential trial or plea deal looming in the future, may also end up being one of the biggest stories of 2014 as well.

“Outlaw country music singer-songwriter and performer Wayne Mills of the Wayne Mills Band has been pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being shot in the head at 5 AM this morning outside of the Pit and Barrel bar at 515 2nd Ave in Nashville. “God be with us all in this tragedy……” was posted on Wayne’s Facebook page.

“44 year-year-old Jerald Wayne Mills was at the Pit and Barrel early this morning when apparently an altercation erupted with the owner, Chris Michael Ferrell, after Wayne was smoking in a non-smoking area. Everyone else in the bar went outside, and later witnesses heard gunshots fired and called police. Ferrell told police he acted in self-defense.The bar owner has a valid handgun carry permit. Chris Ferrell and Wayne Mills were reportedly good friends, and they were hanging out at the bar after attending the George Jones Tribute earlier in the evening.”

Nov
4

Randy Travis May Never Perform Again, Says Father

November 4, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  50 Comments

randy-travisNews from the camp of Randy Travis was bleak this weekend when sources close to the country music singer painted a grim picture about the prospects for Randy’s long-term recovery and the possibility of him performing in the future. According to Randy’s father Harold Traywick, “Randy is still in very bad shape. It’s possible he’ll never perform again.”

Other, unnamed sources went into further detail with tabloid magazine The National Enquirer, saying that Travis had to have a portion of his skull removed during emergency brain surgery that was then reattached with titanium screws. One source described as a family friend says, “Randy is still paralyzed on his right side. He can’t walk and he can barely speak. There’s nothing more doctors can do. Randy’s chances of a full recovery don’t look good.” This source could not be verified independently by Saving Country Music, and no official word from Randy or his publicist has been given about his long-term prognosis.

Randy Travis was initially admitted to the hospital on July 7th, 2013 for viral cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart muscle. While being treated for the condition at The Heart Hospital in Plano, TX, Travis suffered a stroke as a complication to the treatment, and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The surgery was successful, but Travis remained in the hospital until late July when he was moved to a rehabilitation facility to deal with the effects of the stroke. While in rehab, Travis contracted pneumonia according to friend Sammy Kershaw. Travis remained in inpatient care until October 11th when he returned to his ranch in Tioga, TX.

Specifics on Randy’s condition have been very hard to come by for fans worried about the long-term effects from Randy’s recent health problems, leading to much speculation and concern. Randy himself has yet to make any public appearances or statements since his recent health scare.

Oct
13

Jake Owen: Country Needs More Than “Tailgates & F*ckin’ Cups”

October 13, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  60 Comments

jake-owenYet another big name country star is speaking out about the current state of country music. This time it is RCA Records’ Jake Owen who is out promoting his new single “Days of Gold” ahead of the release of his upcoming album of the same name December 3rd. On that album is a piano and pedal steel-driven ballad called “(We All Want) What We Ain’t Got,” and when talking to Rolling Stone about the song, Jake said:

“We need more of those kinds of songs in [country music]. “We need more songs than just songs about tailgates and fuckin’ cups and Bacardi and stuff like that. We need songs that get ourselves back to the format that made me love it . . .  [like] when guys like Randy Travis released songs like ‘He Walked on Water’ – songs that meant something, man!”

Jake Owen is referring to the current trend amongst mainstream country males to depend on very obvious and simplistic songwriting formulas that simply refer to artifacts of country life, known to their detractors as checklist, or laundry list country songs. His reference to “cups” may be a specific dig at Toby Keith’s recent hit “Red Solo Cup.”

Jake Owen joins a growing chorus of artists decrying country music’s current direction, including Alan Jackson, Kacey Musgraves, Gary Allan, and most notably Zac Brown who recently called Luke Bryan’s current #1 single “That’s My Kind Of Night” the worst song ever. But as it has been asserted about some of the other recently outspoken country stars, Jake Owen’s criticisms seem like a case of the pot calling the kettle black, and certainly even more so than that case could be made about Zac Brown or Gary Allan.

Jake Owen acknowledges he’s not always been the deepest of performers in the same Rolling Stone interview, saying, “I’ve definitely had moments in my career where I’ve released songs that were not necessarily the most, you know, in-depth-written song, or maybe it was a party anthem. I wanted to start adding more validity to my music.” But a few seconds into Jake’s current single “Days of Gold” and you don’t hear validity, you hear hypocrisy compared to his recent statements, however much substance the other songs of his upcoming album might have.

“Long truck bed hop in it, Fire engine red like her lip stick
Out here we can let it go, But just me and my good friends
Jug of wine little sip, Out here baby you just never know”

There seems to be little or no trouble for country music’s stars to spy the problem of constantly calling on the same tired formulas for hit radio singles, but they don’t seem to be inclined or empowered to do anything about it. It’s very likely Jake Owens’ new album will include songs with more depth, just like many of the albums of country’s top male stars do. But in a music world dominated by singles, song downloads, streams, and viral videos, it is unlikely the public will hear them en masse as they will a song like “Days Of Gold.”

Pot, meet kettle.

Oct
10

Randy Travis to Finally Return Home This Weekend After Health Problems

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

randy-travisCountry star Randy Travis, who suffered a series of major health issues beginning in July, will finally be returning home to his ranch this weekend in Tioga, TX, just northwest of Dallas according to the singer’s representative.

Travis was initially admitted to the hospital on July 7th, 2013 for viral cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart muscle. While being treated for the condition at The Heart Hospital in Plano, TX, Travis suffered a stroke as a complication to the treatment, and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The surgery was successful, but Travis remained in the hospital until late July when he was moved to a rehabilitation facility to deal with the effects of the stroke. While in rehab, Travis contracted pneumonia according to friend Sammy Kershaw. Travis has been in inpatient care ever since.

Read A Timeline of Updates on Randy Travis’s Health

The health troubles came right as Travis was making a resurgence in his career. He’d recently released a single “Tonight I’m Playing Possum,” a tribute to the recently-passed George Jones. On September 30th, Travis released Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am, and album of cover songs that inspired his country career.

Travis’s rep says he’s “currently in Texas in physical therapy and doing great!” but there is still no word on any long-term effects Randy might have suffered during the numerous health scares, or if he plans to perform or to make any public appearances anytime soon.

Aug
22

Sammy Kershaw: Randy Travis Has Developed Pneumonia in Rehab

August 22, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  5 Comments

randy-travisOver the last few days, rumors have been swirling that Randy Travis has contracted pneumonia while in a Dallas-area rehab facility, recovering from a recent stroke he had while being treated for a heart condition. The primary source of that information appears to be fellow traditional country music star and Randy Travis friend Sammy Kershaw. Sammy took to his Facebook page a few days ago to say,

Olde friend Randy Travis needs our prayers. Had a little setback this weekend. He has developed pneumonia. Let’s rock on for him.

Randy Travis was admitted the the hospital on July 7th for complications with viral cardiomyopathy—a weakening of the heart muscle caused by a viral infection. Travis underwent placement of a ventricular assist device for stabilization before being transferred to The Heart Hospital at Baylor in Plano, TX. Then on July 10th, Randy Travis suffered a stroke and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.

On July 31st, Travis was discharged from the hospital to an inpatient physical therapy rehabilitation facility to help deal with the effects of the stroke. Doctors said Randy would need “months” of rehabilitation.

Several unconfirmed reports have also said the family of Randy is asking for prayers for the ailing country star. So far there’s been no official word from Randy Travis’s camp about the pneumonia, the severity of the illness, or any update on Randy’s overall recovery. You can follow a timeline of Randy’s recent health problems HERE.

Jul
22

Country Music Rap Sheet – A Picture History of Mugshots & Arrests

July 22, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  36 Comments

Authenticity and dysfunction are regularly celebrated in country music, and what better way to celebrate that than to look back in time a some of the most notable mugshots and arrests of country music’s most notable stars.

Johnny Cash

Cash was arrested twice. The first was after a trip to Mexico when he tried to hide 1,163 Dexedrine and Equanil tablets in his guitar case while crossing the border near El Paso, TX in 1965. Since the drugs were prescription instead of illegal narcotics, Cash received a suspended sentence. He was arrested again in 1966 in Starkville, Miss. for … get this … picking flowers late at night. The property owner pressed trespassing charges, and Johnny spent time in the Starkville County Jail, resulting in the song of the same name.

Though Cash was famous for his concerts at Folsom Prison and San Quentin, he never served time in anything bigger than a city jail (the bottom mug was just for show).

johnny-cash-mugshot-1johnny-cash-folsom-prison


Willie Nelson

The trouble started for Willie Nelson way back in 1960 when he was arrested for speeding in Pasadena, TX (near Houston). And then came the pot busts:

  • 1974 – For possession in Dallas, TX.
  • 1994 – For possession in Hewitt (near Waco) when Willie pulled his Mercedes off the side of the highway for a siesta and an officer found a joint in the ashtray and eventually a bag of marijuana. The judge ruled the evidence inadmissible and the charges were dropped.
  • 2006 – For possession in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana for one-and-a-half pounds of marijuana and 3 oz. of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Willie, his sister Bobbi, and Willie’s manager were all arrested, eventually receiving 6 months probation.
  • 2010 – For possession of 6 ounces of marijuana at the Sierra Blanca, Texas border checkpoint. Willie eventually only had to pay a fine.

willie-nelson-mugshot-1974-dallas

Willie Nelson mugshot


Jerry Lee Lewis

In the dead of night in November of 1976, a drunken and armed Jerry Lee Lewis showed up to the gates of Graceland demanding to see his fellow Sun Studios alum Elvis right then and there. The guard rang Elvis who refused “The Killer’s” request, and then rang Memphis police when Lewis began waving a gun around.

jerry-lee-lewis-mugshot


Hank Williams Jr.

You may think because Hank Jr. was the last of his rowdy friends to settle down that at some point he would wind up in the pokey, but it turns out his mugshot was for a bunk charge from a 19-year-old in March of 2006 that said Jr. put her in a choke hold after she refused to kiss him. Jr. turned himself in, and after finding out the girl was looking to cash in big on the accusation and that there was no real evidence of the altercation, the charges were dropped.

hank-williams-jr-mugshot


Glen Campbell

In November of 2003, Glen Campbell was arrested at his home near Phoenix, AZ after hitting and running while drunk in his BMW. Then while Campbell was being processed, he kneed an officer in the leg, which added an aggravated assault of a police officer charge. Campbell pleaded down some of the counts, and eventually spent 10 days in jail.

glen-campbell-mugshot


Rodney Atkins

Domestic abuse charges landed Rodney Atkins in front of the police camera in February of 2012, but the news about the charges didn’t come out until his wife filed for divorce a few weeks later. The news also came on the heels of Rodney re-signing with Curb Records. The charges were later dropped as part of the divorce settlement.

rodney-atkins-mugshot


Hank Williams

An indelible image of country music’s first superstar in this midst of his downfall in 1952, leaving the jailhouse in Alexander City, Alabama.

hank-williams-jail-2


Billy Joe Shaver

Notable country music songwriter Billy Joe Shaver sits on the witness stand stemming from an altercation behind Papa Joe’s bar near Waco, TX in 2007 when Shaver shot a man non lethally in the face with a .22 pistol. The incident became a piece of country music lore when Dale Watson wrote a song titled “Where Do You Want It?” allegedly for the question Shaver asked his victim before he pulled the trigger. The high-profile trial incuded Willie Nelson showing up as a Shaver character witness, and eventually all charges were dropped against when it was ruled Shaver was acting in self defense.

billy-joe-shaver


Wynonna Judd

In 2003, daughter Judd was pulled over for speeding and subsequently blew a .175, lading her in jail before she posted a $500 bail. It all happened right down the street from Music Row, so maybe it’s true what they say about the country music industry driving artists to drink.

wynonna-judd-mug-shot


Kid Rock

Just like the “Wet Cigarette of Country Music” to get arrested at a Waffle House. In October of 2007, Kid Rock and his crew stopped into the DeKalb County, Georgia eatery where they proceeded to brawl with gawking patrons. Other members of Kid Rocks posse were also arrested. Rock was found guilty of simple battery. It was his 4th chance to strike the perp pose over the years for various charges.

kid-rock-mugshot-4kid-rock-mugshot-2

kid-rock-mug-shot


David Allan Coe

You better believe DAC would be here, but unfortunately this is the biggest photo we can drum up of David from his time in the Ohio State Penal System.

david-allan-coe-prison-mugshot

Coe was also arrested in 2008 after an altercation in a casino when a misunderstanding about a jackpot resulted in security officers and police wrestling Coe to the ground. Coe countersued in 2010 for false arrest and assault. The entire altercation was caught on tape.


Billy Currington

Yes, we know that some of the younger generation of country performers don’t want to pander to the “old farts and jackasses,” but maybe Billy Currington took it a little too far when he threatened a 70-year-old boat captain for coming too close to his waterfront property in Tybee Island, Ga. Currington was cited in April of 2013 for making “terroristic threats” and “abuse of an elder.” Case is still pending.

billy-currington-mugshot


Johnny Paycheck

Johnny Paycheck spent 4 years battling an aggravated assault charge after shooting a man in a Hillsboro, OH bar during a brawl. Though multiple appeals kept Paycheck out of prison for a while, he was finally sentenced to the Chillicothe Correctional Institute in 1989 where he served two years before being paroled.

johnny-paycheck-arrest


Chris Cagle

In May of 2008, Louisiana country star Chris Cagle got in a tussle with his girlfriend Jennifer Tant at the Player’s Bar in Nashville before the couple took the bout home. Cagle wielded Jennifer’s purse. Jennifer weilded an umbrella, and they both ended up in the big house. Police said they were both too drunk and disorderly to press any serious charges.

chris-cagle-and-jennifer-taut-mugshot


The Boomswagglers

When the underground country band from Austin, TX went to release their first album, they chose their mutual mugshots from the same Williamson County roundup to make up the CD art.

the-boomswagglers-mugshot


George Jones

No mugshots of George Jones’s numerous run ins with the law during his drinking days have ever surfaced, but video did a few years ago from a George Jones documentary.


Randy Travis

Get well Randy! …. but we couldn’t make this list without you. Travis was forced to pose for police camera twice in 2012; once after a drunken fight at a church, and the other after driving drunk….and naked.

randy-travis-mugshot-1

randy-travis-mugshot-2

Jul
17

10 Alternatives to Tsarnaev’s Rolling Stone Cover

July 17, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  24 Comments

Much ado has been made about Rolling Stone giving accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rock star treatment by putting his mug on their latest issue. Though it’s a free country with free press and I would fight for the right of Rolling Stone to put whatever they want on their cover, here are some simple, friendly, and current alternative ideas of what could have graced the front of Rolling Stone‘s July 2013 issue.

Randy Travis

A country music superstar who won wide cross-genre appeal despite his heavy traditionalist sound, and who’s currently in the struggle of his life after suffering a major heart ailment and subsequent stroke, who better deserves to be on the cover right now than Randy?

rolling-stone-randy-travis

Black Sabbath

One of rock & roll’s most legendary bands just released a comeback record called “13″ that both critics and fans are raving about, produced by studio extraordinaire, Rick Rubin. This story is custom made for the Rolling Stone cover.

rolling-stone-black-sabbath

Jason Isbell

He just released a career album in Southeastern that has critics falling all over themselves. The former Drive By Trucker is beginning to be recognized as one of the great songwriters of our generation, and a Rolling Stone cover could help solidify this distinction and broaden his audience. (In fairness, their last issue did have a story on Isbell).

rolling-stone-jason-isbell

Mavis Staples

Mavis is a force of music nature who is seeing a massive resurgence in interest in both her work as a Staple Sister and a Gospel Goddess. She’s worked with folks as wide ranging as The Band, George Jones, and Ray Charles, and even made an appearance on a Johnny Paycheck tribute album. Mavis just released an album called One True Vine, and would be a good candidate to grace the Rolling Stone cover.

rolling-stone-mavis-staples

Willie Nelson

Because he’s Willie Nelson. And yes I know he’s been on the cover before. But again, he’s Willie Nelson. Nuff said.

rolling-stone-willie-nelson

Caitlin Rose & Country’s Inspiring Women

Rolling Stone justified their use of Tsarnaev on the cover saying that he was at an age that their readers could relate to. Well so is Caitlin; a young, budding starlet with a very interesting story of how her mom is the woman who helped write many of Taylor Swift’s hits. Caitlin’s music has a fresh and relevant take, and if Caitlin isn’t big enough for you, consider including all the women that have made a splash in country in 2013 that have many proclaiming (including former Rolling Stone senior editor Chet Flippo) 2013 the “Year of the Woman” in country music.

rolling-stone

Pokey LaFarge

I don’t know if there is a neotraditional artist that has benefited from such a meteoric rise like Pokey LaFarge in the history of music. Pokey’s now got Jack White pushing him, and he just played Letterman. Pokey’s crossing genres, and surely deserves a bigger spotlight.

rolling-stone-pokey-lafarge

Chet Flippo

After all, Chet was a towering personality in music journalism, and called Rolling Stone home starting in graduate school, working his way up to Rolling Stone‘s New York Bureau Chief, and eventually to Senior Editor in 1974. He wrote books about The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, and Hank Williams, and having passed away last month, could have surely been a worthy choice for the cover.

rolling-stone-chet-floppo

The Town of West, TX

If you want to delve deep into the anatomy of a tragedy, the toll it takes on a community and the psyche of its people, and end it with a positive statement on the resiliency of man, there’s no better example than here.

rolling-stone-west-tx

The People of Boston

For being courageous and persevering through and unspeakable tragedy foisted upon them unexpectedly.

rolling-stone-people-of-Boston

Jul
8

Randy Travis in Texas Hospital – UPDATE: OUT OF HOSPITAL

July 8, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  23 Comments

randy-travis

(Updates at bottom)

Country Music singer Randy Travis is in critical condition in a Texas hospital, according to his publicist, and has now suffered a stroke. Travis was admitted the the hospital on Sunday July 7th for complications with viral cardiomyopathy that he acquired recently.

Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle or another problem with the heart muscle. It often occurs when the heart cannot pump as well as it should, or with other heart function problems. Most patients with cardiomyopathy eventually suffer from heart failure. Though the term can apply to most diseases affecting the heart, it is usually only reserved for the most severe myocardial disease leading to heart failure.

In February of 2012, Randy Travis was arrested in Texas and pleaded “No Contest” to a public intoxication charge after being found in a church parking lot after a Super Bowl party inebriated behind his parked vehicle. He was then later arrested and charged with DWI in August of 2012 after police got calls about a man “lying in the roadway.” This behavior was believed to stem from a divorce from his wife of 19-years, Lib Hatcher, in October of 2010.

But Travis had shown signs of being on the right track recently. In November of 2012, Randy participated in a CMT Crossroads event with the Avett Brothers, and more recently released a tribute song to his friend and mentor George Jones on his recent passing called “Tonight I’m Playing Possum.”

UPDATE (7-9-13 9:20 AM CDT): The wife of Randy’s brother, Teresa Traywick, has told People Magazine that Randy underwent heart surgery on Monday (7-8).

We have been told he has had surgery. Our prayers are going out to him because my husband just had a heart attack last year, so it is in their family. Their mother passed away at an early age with her heart, so it is like these boys are following right in their footsteps. My prayers are with them. That’s all I can say right now.

Please check back to Saving Country Music as we continue to update this developing story.

UPDATE (7-9-13 6:15 PM CDT): Randy Travis’ publicist has released a statement clarifying the singer’s treatment. “Contrary to reports, Randy Travis has not undergone heart surgery,” representative Kirt Webster said. “Travis was admitted into a Texas hospital on Sunday and underwent placement of an IMPELLA peripheral left ventricular assist device for stabilization prior to transferring hospitals. The Grammy winner remains in critical condition.”

UPDATE (7-10-13 1:45 AM CDT): Folks who wish to send well wishes to Randy Travis can send them to:

Randy Travis
266 Blanks Road
Tioga, Texas 76271
 

UPDATE (7-10-13 3:00 PM CDT): Randy Travis’ doctors have stated the singer’s “condition has stabilized and he has shown signs of improvement” although he remains in critical condition. Dr. William Gray of Baylor Medical Center in McKinney, TX said that Travis had “previously excellent health until three weeks prior when he developed a viral upper respiratory illness.” Travis was admitted to the emergency department on Sunday with a presumptive cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. His condition was stabilized at Baylor McKinney before he was transferred to the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas, for more specialized care. Dr. Michael Mack, director of cardiovascular disease at the Baylor Health Care System in Dallas said, “Since transfer, his condition has stabilized and he has shown signs of improvement.”

UPDATE (7-10-13 12:17 PM CDT): Randy Travis has now suffered a stroke, and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The stroke was a complication from Randy’s cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. “Mr. Randy Travis is out of surgery and in critical condition,” The Heart Hospital at Baylor Plano in Texas announced late Wednesday night. “We will have updates as they become available. His family and friends here with him at the hospital request your prayers and support.” Randy is still listed in critical condition.

UPDATE (7-12-13 8:20 PM CDT): Randy continues to remain in critical condition and has been under heavy sedation since surgery following the stroke. He has been surrounded by family and friends while in the hospital and received a visit Thursday from George Jones’ widow, Nancy, who played music for Randy.

UPDATE (7-15-13 9:32 PM CDT): Baylor Health has posted a video about Randy’s condition.

  • Randy Travis has awakened after emergency surgery following his stroke. He is alert, and interacting with his friends and family.
  • Doctors say drugs or alcohol are not causing the heart condition. Travis has a family history which is the more likely culprit.
  • They anticipate Randy needed to stay at hospital for another 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Randy will need “months” of inpatient physical therapy to recover from the stroke.

UPDATE (7-31-13 5:42 PM CDT): According to Randy Travis’ publicist Kirt Webster, Randy Travis has been discharged from the hospital in Plano, TX and moved to an undisclosed physical therapy facility.

Randy’s fiance Mary Davis is quoted in the release saying, “Thanks to all the fans and friends for your continued prayers and support as Randy continues on the road to recovery.”

UPDATE (8-22-13 12:41 PM CDT):

Over the last few days, rumors have been swirling that Randy Travis has contracted pneumonia while in a Dallas-area rehab facility, recovering from a recent stroke he had while being treated for a heart condition called cardiomyopathy in July. The primary source of that information appears to be fellow traditional country music star and Randy Travis friend Sammy Kershaw. Sammy took to his Facebook page a few days ago to say,

Olde friend Randy Travis needs our prayers. Had a little setback this weekend. He has developed pneumonia. Let’s rock on for him.

Jun
19

Randy Travis Tributes George Jones in “Tonight I’m Playing Possum”

June 19, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  13 Comments

Randy-Travis-Tonight-Im-Playing-PossumThe individuals who see the roots of country music as a trip hazard on their way to tapping the American consumer for as much cash as possible through the forum of country music fail to comprehend the weight that a single phrase, the title of a song, or the name of a country music legend can have when those words and names have been baptized in the rich, marinating waters of country music tradition until they hold such levity that their simple utterance can evoke primordial shivers.

Such is the aspect of the name “George Jones,” his nickname “The Possum,” and the many titles of his songs and the lines they contain that enriched our lives so deeply over the years when George was still counted amongst the living. Now that The Possum has moved on to that big Opryhouse in the sky, I dare say his name and the words that he imparted to us with his singular vocal tone hold an even a thicker weight if such a thing is possible.

We like to make fun of how so many country songs are about other country songs, but the reason it is so common is because it works so well at revitalizing those roots that are so deeply intertwined with our personal fabrics and story lines. The songs of George Jones and others offer a soundtrack to our lives that nobody can take away from us. Even if the music disappeared from the face of the earth, it would still play sweetly in our mind’s ear until kingdom come.

It is with this understanding, and with just as much a selfless desire to canonize George Jones as to selfishly attempt to alleviate some of the grief of his passing that Randy Travis, with the help of Joe Nichols, composed this tribute song to the dearly departed Possum.

Not a world beater, but one that rises to the importance of the occasion and imparts the sorrow of the moment, “Tonight I’m Playing Possum” is a more than touching tribute, and through the vehicle of song, exemplifies why the roots of country are so cherished. To the country music onlooker, the phrase “He stopped loving her today” may seem inane or even out-of-place. But to those in the know, it can incite tears.

Written by Keith Gattis.

Two guns up.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Purchase “Tonight I’m Playing Possum”

May
23

Garth Brooks Tried to Turn Down Hall of Fame Induction

May 23, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  43 Comments

garth-brooks-hall-of-fameAs time marches on, a wholesale re-evaluation of the impact and music of Garth Brooks continues.

To the passive country music fan, the name Garth Brooks may be nothing more than a famous name from the past that they recognize or remember from his heyday. But to many dedicated traditionalist country fans, Garth Brooks symbolized the mass commercialization of country music with his flashy shows in sold-out stadiums, and his multi-platinum albums. Somewhere in the shuffle though, Garth’s sonic legacy got lost. And as the integrity of mainstream country continues to erode day by day, Garth continues to look more and more like a traditionalist country artist himself.

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

Garth Brooks was voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2012. As is to be expected, Brooks was humble in his acceptance. But what went unreported at the time is that Garth actually attempted to turn his induction down, feeling that there were others that were more worthy than him.

Garth Brooks was interviewed by Leslie Armstrong of Nashville Country Club in the Hall of Fame rotunda right after the inductee announcements on March 6th, 2012. When asked what Garth did when he first got the news of his induction, he said:

I know this is going to sound bad, but you asked, okay? So my first thing was is I called the guys up and I say, “Look, I don’t think I deserve this at this time, you know. Is it possible to turn this thing down and wait?” And they said, “No, it’s not possible to turn it down.” I said, “Well I tried, okay, we’re in!” I’m trying to enjoy the day. And at the same time, all you can think about are the people that need to be in here that aren’t in here yet. So now it’s every Hall of Fame member’s job to make sure that we push and push to make sure all those people get in here, and eventually they will. And they should have been here before Garth Brooks.

Who else should have been inducted before Garth? In both Garth’s initial speech at the announcement and in subsequent interviews that day, Garth said that Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, and Randy Travis deserved to be inducted before him. As he told Inside Music Row:

I felt guilty and embarrassed and honored. Randy Travis cleared the whole way for the 80′s for guys like me and the class of ’89 to come through. He opened all those doors. My generation’s shot at Haggard and Jones was Keith Whitley. Keith needs to be in here. My God, Rickey Skaggs. None of us would be here if it wasn’t for Ricky Skaggs. He filled all the honky tonks and everything there. There’s a lot of catching up to do, and like everybody that goes in it, says it. And they’ll eventually get here. I just don’t think that I should have been here before them. But I feel very honored, and I’ll take it and feel very grateful for it.

Garth also explained that superstardom was not his original intention for coming to Nashville.

I wanted to be a songwriter when I came here. I came here with “Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old” for George Strait. That was it. I didn’t have any dreams or aspirations after that. Never touring, never cutting records. I wanted to be a songwriter. It’s weird because I didn’t know then that the greatest honor in this town is being called a songwriter.

Of course it is the job for inductees to act humble and thank others when they are bestowed the Hall of Fame honor. But with Garth Brooks, he seemed to take it to another level, knowing his legacy was likely cemented and his place in the Hall of Fame assured, but worried about taking that honor away from someone who came before him and helped usher in his success.

Garth officially retired from music in 2001, though he’s made random appearances over the years and signed up for a Las Vegas residency in 2009. His primary reason for retiring was to spend more time with his kids until they completed high school, which will happen next year. Nobody knows, maybe not even Garth, what he might do in country music in the coming years. But whatever he does, Garth’s time off may have taught him an important lesson that kept his music from country’s more traditionally-oriented fans during his heyday: how to be humble.

Apr
16

Record Store Day 2013 Country Music Field Guide

April 16, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  9 Comments

record-store-day-2013

This Saturday, April 20th is the 2013 installment of Record Store Day–the annual event started in 2007 to help struggling independent record stores. As the event has grown over the years and has expanded to include an event on Black Friday before Christmas, artists and labels have stepped up to help with the cause, releasing limited-edition collectible pieces of vinyl to entice the public into visiting their local mom and pop music sellers.

2013 has some juicy releases, including some super rare Willie Nelson demo sessions, a split with Waylon Jennings and the Old 97′s, some cool live albums from Gram Parsons and Sarah Jarosz, and a re-issue of Justin Townes Earle’s first album, the Yuma EP. The below list are Record Store Day’s country and country-ish releases in alphabetical order.

Complete List of Record Store Day Releases

Find A Participating Record Store

chet-atkins-black-jack-rsdChet Atkins

Black Jack EP
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: SUNDAZED
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Previously unreleased recordings by this guitar master

Midnight, Boo Boo Stick Beat, Blackjack, Blue Moon of Kentucky

avett-brothers-randy-travis-rsdThe Avett Brothers and Randy Travis

Music From CMT Crossroads

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Warner Music Nashville
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Limited edition split single. Randy Travis covers the Avett Brothers’ “February”, The Avett Brothers covers the Randy Travis song, “Three Wooden Crosses.

the-band-last-waltz-rsdThe Band

The Last Waltz

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Rhino
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

3 180 Gram LPs, Numbered RSD Edition. All original packaging with Embossing and two foils. All original inner sleeves plus 12-page booklet. Out of print for more than a decade.

Created with The GIMPBlitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper Deluxe Reissue

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: LidKerCow, LTD
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Blitzen Trapper’s debut album from 2003 will be available for the first time on vinyl in celebration of it’s 10th Anniversary.  The record was remastered by Bruce Barielle and the lacquers were cut by Jeff Powell at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN.  A very limited edition run, the record is pressed on 180g vinyl with a free digital download of the entire record with five previously unheard bonus tracks from the original sessions.

calexico-rsdCalexico

Spiritoso

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Anti/Epitaph
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release

Includes songs from ALGIERS as well as the Calexico catalog recorded live in Germany in June 2012 with the Radio Symphonic Orchestra Vienna and the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg.

kasey-chambers-shane-nicholson-rattlin-bones-rsdKasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson

Rattlin Bones

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Sugar Hill
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

A staple of the Americana genre, this release marks the first collaboration for these Australian husband-and-wife superstars. First time on vinyl.

charlie-poole-and-the-highlandersCharlie Poole With The Highlanders

Complete Paramount and Brunswick Recordings

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Tompkins Square
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

All sides recorded in New York, 1929. Liner notes by Poole authority Kinney Rorrer

dale-watson-record-store-dayDale Watson

I Lie When I Drink

Format: 45 Vinyl
Label: Red House
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Featuring fan-favorite songs “I Lie When I Drink” and “Thanks To Tequila,” 3,500 copies of the record were pressed on high quality red vinyl. The free 45 is only available at select independent record stores on Record Store Day.

elizabeth-cook-jason-isbellElizabeth Cook & Jason Isbell

Tecumseh Valley b/w Pancho & Lefty

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: 31 Tigers
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

“Tecumseh Valley” b/w “Pancho & Lefty”

Studio versions of both artists covering Townes Van Zandt. They originally performed these songs on Late Night with David Letterman

mike-cooley-too-pretty-to-workMike Cooley

Too Pretty To Work

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Cooley Records
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Record Store Day 7″ featuring 2 live tracks recorded at shows in 2012.

1 – Self Destructive Zones (3:36)
2 – Get Downtown (3:12)

justin-townes-earle-yumaJustin Townes Earle

Yuma

Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Bloodshot Records
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Previously released debut EP from Justin Townes Earle, now on vinyl for the first time. 10″ vinyl. Colored vinyl (opaque gold). Limited to 1000 copies, for RSD.

The Ghost of Virginia, You Can’t Leave, Yuma, I Don’t Care, Let the Waters Rise, A Desolate Angels Blues

Alejandro Escovedo/Chris Scruggs

78 rpm 10

Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Plowboy Records
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

78 rpm 10″ A/B single release of two covers of Eddy Arnold standards by Alejandro Escovedo (A side) and Chris Scruggs (B side) for upcoming “You Don’t Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold” album project due in May 2013

a side : “It’s a Sin” by Alejandro Escovedo – B side: “Just A Little Lovin’ (Will Go A Long Way” by Chris Scruggs

Patty Griffin

Ohio
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: New West
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

This is a single A-side 7” pressed on heavyweight vinyl.  The vinyl is black, hand-numbered 1-500, and Patty will sign Side B on 25 of the records, which will be randomly distributed. This song is from her forthcoming album, American Kid, due out 5/14/13. This will come in an all white sleeve with a stamped logo and a stickered UPC.

sarah-jarosz-live-at-the-troubadourSarah Jarosz

Live At The Troubadour

Label: Sugar Hill
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
More Info:

Recorded in August of 2012, Live at the Troubadour finds the Grammy-nominated acoustic wunderkind in pristine form and marks Jarosz’s debut live recording.
TRACK LISTING: 1. Tell Me True 2. Kathy’s Song 3. Mansineedof 4. Shankill Butchers 5. Broussard’s Lament

jd-mcpherson-fire-bugJ.D. McPherson

Fire Bug

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Concord
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

SIDE A: Fire Bug / SIDE B: A Gentle Awakening

tift-merritt-markingsTift Merritt

Markings

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Yep Roc
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

4-song 12″ featuring an unreleased track, a live track and two acoustic tracks from Traveling Alone. Covered with a tactile cross-stitched/embroidered record cover.

mumford-sons-live-at-bull-mooseMumford & Sons

Live at Bull Moose

Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Glassnote
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

“”"I Will Wait”" “”Ghosts That We Knew”" “”Where Are You Now”" “”Awake My Soul”" — 3 or 4 songs from their bull moose instore – CD version”

Willie Nelson

Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Legacy
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

7″ Green Colored Vinyl, Numbered.

Side A – feat guest vocals by Snoop Dogg, Jamey Johnson & Kris Kristofferson
Side B – previously unreleased Willie solo version

WillieNelsonCrazyVinyl.inddWillie Nelson

Crazy: The Demo Sessions

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Sugar Hill
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

When Willie first got to Nashville he cut some demos for Ray Price and Hal Smith’s publishing company, Pamper Music. Though these cuts were used to pitch songs to artists (including ‘Crazy’ for Patsy Cline) and producers, many weren’t released. These 1960-1966 tracks are raw, real and really good, clearly the work of an artist/songwriter headed for stardom.

old-97-waylon-jenningsOld 97s and Waylon Jennings

Old 97s/Waylon Jennings

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Omnivore Recordings
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

2 x 7″ Two tracks from Old 97s sessions with Waylon Jennings, and two additional Old 97s demo tracks. Cover art by Jon Langford of the Mekons and Waco Brothers, and famed painter of country icons.– Iron Road, The Other Shoe, Visiting Hours (1996 demo), Fireflies Take 2 (1996 demo)

Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons & The Fallen Angels-Live 1973 7

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: SIERRA
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Originally released in 1982 as a bonus 7″ EP to Sierra Records “Live 1973″ LP release of Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris with full color sleeve.

Side One: Medley- Bony Moronie, 40 Days, Almost Grown  Side Two: Conversations, Doing It in the Bus, Broken EBS Box, Hot Burrito #1

Richard Thompson

Salford Sunday

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: New West
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

This is a single A-side 7” pressed on heavyweight vinyl.  This song is off of the releaseElectric (2/5/13). The vinyl is black, hand-numbered 1-500. Richard will sign Side B on 25 of the records, which will be distributed randomly.

yonder-mountain-string-bandYonder Mountain String Band

Yonder Mountain String Band

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Vanguard
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Available for the first time on vinyl.

Jan
16

So Really, What’s Up With All These Truck Songs in Country?

January 16, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  25 Comments

pickup-trucksI may not know much, but I will say with complete confidence that a dozen years from now when fans look back on the current era of country music, they will chuckle mightily at the ridiculous amount of truck songs clogging the genre like we do mullets and parachute pants (and the whole of Billy Ray Cyrus’s career) from the past. They are an anachronistic joke from the future that the enlightened can enjoy today. The “truck” theme in country, especially in the context of these drooling “laundry list” songs that machine gun out countryisms, has been run into the ground harder than the bumper of Randy Travis’s F-250 in a drunken, naked endeavor to procure a pack of cigs.

So what’s behind all of these truck songs? The simple, easy answer is that Music Row is a copycat world, and when one song works, the idea is run over and over again until a new frontier for the word “cliche” is found. But I’m not sure if Music Row is the genesis of this. Instead, it might be Madison Avenue.

I admit this is part conspiracy and conjecture, but I think there’s a very interesting nexus between the recovery of Detroit, and the truck-itization of Nashville.

Around the time of the end of President George W. Bush’s last term, the country’s economy went into a tailspin, with one of the biggest anchors pulling it down being the auto industry. Since then, Detroit has seen a massive, overwhelming recovery. And what has been at the heart of this recovery? Trucks. Not hybrids, not new designs or new models, not expensive imports or luxury cars. It’s been trucks. Medium and heavy duty trucks, and lots of them.

Trucks are the most profitable vehicles for all domestic automotive manufacturers, by both profit margin, and by sales volume. The most profitable and best-selling vehicles are 1) Ford F-Series Trucks 2) GM Full Size Pickups 3) Dodge Ram Series Pickups. Check the chart below, covering the last 20 years in sales from pickuptrucks.com:

Microsoft Word - Most Profitable Vehicles.docx

Truck sales were also way up in 2012; the same year that the “truck” theme gripped Nashville in full force. Also from pickuptrucks.com.

Rank YTD Sales YTD vs. 2011 Year-Over-Year Monthly Sales vs. month 2011
1 Ford F-Series +10.3% December 2012 68,787 +0.7%
645,316 December 2011 68,278

2 Chevrolet Silverado +0.8% December 2012 50,699 +6.1%
418,312 December 2011 47,787

3 Ram Trucks +19.9% December 2012 30,211 +16.1%
293,363 December 2011 26,013

4 GMC Sierra +5.4% December 2012 18,710 +13.4%
157,185 December 2011 16,495

5 Toyota Tacoma +27.7% December 2012 14,030 +15.6%
141,365 December 2011 12,140

6 Toyota Tundra +22.6% December 2012 10,254 +13.4%

What’s behind this huge spike in truck sales? Part of it is that truck sales were down in recent years because of the spike in gas prices. Since then, gas prices have moderated, at least a little, and people are used to the new reality of gas prices hovering over $3.00/gallon. Plus all of these new trucks come with better gas mileage; a selling point pushed in the commercials for these trucks. And that leads us to the heart of the truck matter: advertising.

built-ford-toughMusic, and country music specifically is a reflection of culture, and culture is influenced by many things, including economic conditions and popular advertising. Preceding Music Row’s fascination with the truck theme was a full-on advertising blitz by Detroit’s Big Three and Toyota to push their big, profitable, full-size trucks to the American consumer. And since truck owners and country music listeners fit in similar demographics, the bullseye for that advertising was aimed right at country.

Truck advertisers have always drummed up their “toughness,” but the latest generation of truck commercials have ratcheted it up another notch. Celebrity voices have been brought in to narrate these commercials, including Denis Leary for Ford (probably to the chagrin of “Ford Truck Man” Toby Keith), and famous cowboy actor and narrator of The Big Lebowski Sam Elliott for Ram commercials. So as Detroit’s PR firms are parading around the idea that the auto industry is pulling out of its tailspin with innovation and green technologies, in truth they’re going back to their old trusty cash cow of the full size pickup truck to bring revenue back to black; a much more savory savoir than the environmentally-maligned SUV.

guts-glory-ram-trucksAdvertising by definition is subliminal. The whole “you’re not a man unless you have a big truck” is a whole other thread, but it’s not surprising that with the sheer volume of advertising by America’s auto industry–and with so many consumers buying new trucks–that this would create a spike in the mention of trucks in country songs. And just like many of these country truck songs don’t actually appeal to people in the country, statistics show that many of these truck drivers live in the suburbs and are using them simply as commuter vehicles instead of the heavy work they’re built for. They are called “never-nevers” by the industry according to the Economist, meaning they never take trucks off-road or use them for towing.

So does this all mean that Madison Ave. and Music Row are in cahoots and all of these trucks songs are just veiled advertisements for Detroit’s most-profitable vehicles? I wouldn’t go that far. Just as Music Row is full of copycats, they’re also notoriously a year or two behind the curve (see country’s fumbling of the move to digitalization). The professional songwriters working away in the BMI and ASCAP cubicle farms on Music Row are just trying to put songs together that will sell. Detroit does send a lot of money to Nashville in the form of advertising on radio and at awards shows and such, but despite how sexy a “truck” conspiracy would be, at this point there’s little evidence of that.

More realistically, all these truck songs are just a simple cultural hyper craze that will undoubtedly be looked back upon with embarrassment by future generations of country fans.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go feed my pet rock.

Sep
20

Chris Knight’s ‘Little Victories’: A Political Album Done Right

September 20, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  21 Comments

This is the exact album that the United States of America needs right here, right now, at this very moment in time. Finally, someone has the courage and the wisdom to use music to reassure people of the power of individual will, and the beauty of the rising action embedded in every human soul instead of as a vehicle to lay blame on everyone else for the problems the individual faces.

This album presents a challenge. Are you going to sit there and take the easy way out by framing your life in the form of a negative thought? Or are you going to be awed by the amazing riches afforded to the modern American no matter how poor they are and be thankful? Are you going to make an excuse, or are you going to make a plan?

And like only Chris Knight can, brunt force diatribes are abandoned in favor of building believable characters out of the ruins of America’s rural landscapes, and telling their stories of heartbreak, bad luck, and redemption to make the points. What a refreshing, poignant, timely, and telling message; a hot dagger in the heart of the wicked polarization that grips our country and divides our purpose; the antidote to the depression of the apolitical person in the height of the political season.

Chris Knight’s Little Victories has little mention of scapegoats. There’s no long-winded, unveiled bitching about the government, corporations, the media, religion, the left or the right. Instead there’s touching, personal stories of low living filled with glimmering hopes and gratefulness. It is a political album that doesn’t oversimplify arguments and frame sides, it erodes these things by illustrating that everyone has a personal story, and nobody has the power to shape that personal story more than the individual. Little Victories is deep and altruistic while remaining simple and plaintive. It’s message and points are subtle and smooth in their delivery, but somehow still biting in their impact. And most importantly, Little Victories is enjoyable to listen to.

The songs in the heart of this album are what convey the timely theme. “Nothing On Me” looks at tough times and laughs. Title track “Little Victories” with John Prine reminds us to be thankful for the small things, and to take life one day at a time. “Out Of This Hole” teaches that we’re usually all responsible for where we are, and are equally responsible to get where we want to go. And “You Can’t Trust No One” spells out the folly of our judgmentalism with poetic truth and weightiness.

And there’s plenty of the songs of heartbreak and desperation that make a Chris Knight album a Chris Knight album, like “You Lie When You Call My Name” co-written by Lee Ann Womack, the fun, yet truthful and hard-nosed “Low Down Ramblin’ Blues”, and the excellent sense of story and character in “Hard Edges”.

The Kentuckian and honorary Texan whose been writing and releasing music under his own name since the late 90′s has always been a little hard to define as far as style and place. He’s written songs for Montgomery Gentry and Randy Travis, and his country roots are obvious. But the style he records his own stuff under has that hard, electric, rock-infused country feel that would have fit perfectly under the “alt-country” title years ago.

Today, he’s claimed in part by Red Dirt and Texas Country, and his music carries that “safe” feel of the Texoma corridor, where it is never bad, but never too bold either. But it’s Chris Knight’s songwriting that has won him fans all the way from the rock world to Western Europe, and the timely nature of the Little Victories material makes it worth arguing if this is his best effort yet.

Little Victories is a big victory for Chris Knight, for country music, and for the level-headed, wise approach to life in an overly-politicized world.

Two guns up.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Purchase Little Victories from Chris Knight

Preview & Purchase Tracks from Amazon

Aug
9

Some Respect for Randy Travis at a Tough Time

August 9, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  33 Comments

Alright, so we’ve all now had our yucks over this story of a naked Randy Travis being arrested, and I am certainly not above guilt, but I am seeing some fairly alarming rhetoric surrounding this story that I feel is unhealthy to the country music environment. The details of the story may be funny, but the incident is not. Celebrity or no, Randy Travis is a human being who is clearly going through a moment of crisis in his life. And just because he engaged in some illegal behavior shouldn’t give him some additional cred in country music, or somehow means he’s now a country music “Outlaw.”

We expect our celebrities to live larger than life, so that we can too, through them, vicariously. Forget that most artist and performer types are already predisposed to being more susceptible to things like substance abuse and self-destructive behavior, society also sells to them that as artists, they must suffer for their art to be inspired and authentic. It is true that much great art has come from suffering, but it is also true that great art comes from dedication, perseverance, and sweat. And as much as society likes to perch celebrities up on unrealistic pedestals, we also love to tear them down when they trip, in moments of empathetic vacuousness, clawing at them with our jealousy and spite to feel better about ourselves. This is the vicious pop cycle I like to allude to upon occasion, and just like Taylor Swift once said in a famous song, “The cycle ends right now.” Or at least it does here for me.

Are we so diseased in country music that we actually think more of our stars when their lives become a wreck to the point where they’re laying naked in the middle of the road and making death threats to law enforcement? Is this behavior cool? Is this a fate you would wish upon yourself or any of your friends or family? Getting drunk and doing stupid shit may sound like a country song, but facing felonies and a ruined career and loss of a sense of self-worth are very real issues. It is one of the reasons we have a 27 Club, and why suicides and overdoses are such a heavy burden on the celebrity population.

And us lay civilians love to sit back and say, “Oh yeah, you have it real tough with all that money and fame.” But money and fame are broken promises, and many times don’t help pad a celebrity’s fall, they fuel it.

And for the folks saying Randy Travis’s recent troubles make him an “Outlaw” are only fueling the misconceptions of what a country music Outlaw is. I conceded long ago that accurately defining the “Outlaw” term will be a battle of evermore, but trust me, Randy Travis is no more an Outlaw now than he was in 2011, before his drunken behavior was writing headlines.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a country music Outlaw has nothing to do with legalities. The original Outlaws–Bobby Bare, Tompall Glaser, and Kris Kristofferson–were not lawbreakers, nor was Willie Nelson until later in life when he was hit with a few stupid and unnecessary pot arrests. Waylon Jennings positively hated the term “Outlaw” and blamed it for his legal woes when the federalies trailed a package of cocaine from New York to the studio where he was recording, later memorialized in the song “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit Done Got Outta Hand?”

A country music Outlaw is one that bucks the traditional Music Row, old-guard way of music production by writing their own songs, recording with their own bands, and calling their own shots. Lyrical content and personal behavior are not completely autonomous to the “Outlaw” country image thanks to artists like Johnny Paycheck and David Allan Coe, but the foundation of a country music “Outlaw” has to do with the business of music, not behavior.

Furthermore, the ignorant assertion that personal behavior does influence a country artist’s “Outlaw” status is what is partly fueling this ridiculous and slanderous use of the term by the crop of “new Outlaws” (Eric Church, Justin Moore, Brantley Gilbert, etc.) who think just because they drink too much, talk about fighting, and put women with big tits in their videos they’re carrying on Willie and Waylon’s legacy. Please. Willie Nelson is a pacifist, and probably respects women more than most women respect themselves these days. Being an Outlaw in country means being yourself, and bucking the trends instead of pandering to them. As Sturgill Simpson says, “The most Outlaw thing that a man today can do is give a woman a ring.”

And through this incident, were seeing the rewriting of Randy Travis’s music legacy. Some folks who come to country from the outside looking in are all of a sudden giving his music another look after laughing him off as pop before just because they recognized the name and it wasn’t Johnny Cash, while judgmental types are saying they always knew there was a screw loose with him and they wouldn’t bring themselves down to listening to him again.

This incident didn’t change Randy’s music one bit. Randy has never received enough credit for spearheading both the new push of neo-traditional country and the commercial resurgence of the genre in the late 80′s. One can make the case he set the table for Garth Brooks and country’s return to the stadium and superstar status, without selling out himself.

Randy Travis has given a ton to the country music community, and now in his time of need, it is time for the country music community to give back in the form of support, forgiveness, and understanding.

Whatever is troubling Randy Travis, I hope he works through it to continue to provide the world great country music, and to grow as a person, and as an artist.

Thank you Randy Travis for your music and your service to country music. And even if you’re called home tomorrow, rest assured your legacy is secured in country music, and that it is a positive one.

Aug
8

Expert: Erratic Randy Travis Could Be Caused By Paulie Walnuts Wings

August 8, 2012 - By Trigger  //  News  //  18 Comments

Randy Travis is making headlines yet again down in Texas today after he was arrested around midnight near his home in Tioga. Police found the country music singer injured after he wrecked his Trans Am, and claim he smelled of alcohol, and was naked lying in the middle of the road. After refusing a breathalyzer, police preformed a blood alcohol test, and say that Travis threatened to kill them, raising the stakes of the arrest to a possible felony offense. Travis was also arrested in February for public intoxication when police found him drunk in a church parking lot.

So what is the cause of all of Randy’s recent erratic behavior? One expert says it can be linked to the silver wings that have recently sprouted from the side of Randy’s head. “Paulie Walnuts syndrome is what some like to call it, named after the famous Sopranos TV character known for being especially ruthless and having ‘silver wings’ in his hair,” Dr. Malcom Frankenfurter, a physiologist for the University of Texas Medical Center explains. “But it is a serious medical disorder just recently discovered that can lead to major behavioral difficulties in aging males.”

The disorder apparently is caused by an imbalance of the chemical melanin in the brain. “Melanin is the pigment that gives hair and skin its color,” says Dr. Frankenfurter. “As we age, many times the hair follicles that contain a finite amount of pigment cells cease to produce the melanin, and our hair begins to turn gray, or white. In the case of people with Paulie Walnuts syndrome, the melanin loss is so dramatic and concentrated around the lower sides of the brain that it effects the temporal lobes of both brain hemispheres, many times causing erratic behavior and temporary loss of judgement, especially when alcohol is involved. If you look at an image of the brain, the temporal lobes virtually mimic the location of many aging male’s ‘silver wings.’

Dr. Frankenfurter is quick to say Randy Travis has not been diagnosed with the ailment, but recommends his doctors look into the possibly Randy is effected by it right away.

“Randy Travis really should be checked out before he does something to really endanger his country music career, like sign with Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records and release a country rap song about a truck, or even worse, release a single with Bucky Covington.”

Paulie Walnuts could not be reached for comment.

Feb
14

Observations From 2011 Grammy Awards

February 14, 2011 - By Trigger  //  News  //  93 Comments

I feel the need to iterate to you some observations for last night’s 2011 Grammy Awards, if only to get them off my chest. This is not entirely going to be a bitch fest. Every year they air the Grammy’s, and every year people are left scratching their heads and feeling hopelessness for music, and so it was to be expected that this year would be no different. If you want to see someone bitch about how so and so got screwed for such and such award, or how weird Lady Gaga is or specific commentary on how pronounced her camel toe is, there’s plenty of that out there in other places. What I’m more interested in is that as we stand on the brink of the music Apocalypse, and very specifically a country music Apocalypse, what information we can glean from the 2011 Grammy’s.

I just feel the need to say how embarrassed I am to be the benevolent dictator of a website that has the words “country music” in the name today. It wasn’t that Martina McBride and Miranda Lambert’s performances were bad. They were just fine, but just like at the Kennedy Center Honors presentation for Merle Haggard, whenever country music has an opportunity to showcase itself to the rest of the world, it is such a disappointment, and an embarrassment, as the country music establishment is more bent on pushing business agendas than the best talent.

It used to be that country music was virtually ignored by the Grammy’s. These were probably better times. Country music had it’s own awards, and the Grammy’s would maybe throw a country act in there for flavor, but it wasn’t really until the advent of “young country” in the late 80′s–Randy Travis and eventually Garth Brooks–that the Grammy’s started taking country seriously. Now, it probably accounts for 1/3 of the show, once again iterating the viability of the theory that music is becoming two super-genres: rap and country, with “pop” straddling the two.

Another piece of super-genre evidence was the anemic outlook for Rock. Jeff Beck, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Ozzy Ossbourne, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Iron Maiden, Korn, Lamb of God, Megadeth, Slayer. This was the crop of nominees for rock awards for the night.

Most of these names are 20-year-old acts or older, and acts getting no radio play with little relevancy in the grand scheme of things. We’re reaching back to 80′s bands and the grunge era to fill out rock nominees? To say rock is dead is an understatement, and I can’t help but see blood on the hands of country music for helping be a part of this, as many country acts should really be filling these slots as they rip off AC/DC, The Black Crowes, other classic rock riffs, and do their best Bob Seger impersonations as true country music gets forced underground. Maybe this is a sign of what happens to genres when they cannot develop new talent.

And speaking of bad Bob Seger impersonations, where was Kid Rock? It seems like I can’t turn on my boob tube without seeing his mug. He’s on all the country award shows. Hell, he hosted the CMT’s,  and here finally is an appropriate venue for him and he’s nowhere to be found.

Same can be said for Taylor Swift. She has the #1 album in the world right now, but she’s not even in the crowd so we can get occasional camera shots of her curiously set-apart eyes and a sparkly dress? The reason? Because what was the talk about at this time last year? Her bombing her performance with Stevie Nicks. She is country’s biggest and brightest star, and we have to treat her like the crazy aunt and hide her in the basement because she can’t sing. Or is this is all marketing because Swift management doesn’t want her getting overexposed, laying her low so she can sweep the awards shows next year.

The problem with presenting country music on a national stage is that there’s little to no talent on the mainstream level. Lady Antebellum, who wronged so many other much more deserving artists from other genres with their wins, is nothing more than a one hit wonder cast in the Taylor Swift mold. They are beneath Taylor Swift, like so many other mainstream country acts at this point. If I was Lady Antebellum, I would be embarrassed by the attention being given, because I would know in my heart it is completely undeserved. It’s one song. One song, and a one very isolated catchy vocal riff in that one song. You take that away, and all they have is a big bag of nothing.

If I was impressed by anything, it was the strength coming from the other super-genre. You can’t make a living in rap, or soul, or R&B without having some talent. I’m not talking about the Ushers and Justin Bieber’s; that’s pop. I’m talking about Eminem and Rihanna, and the new talent they pushed like Esperanza Spalding who won for best new artist. This isn’t my music, certainly not my style or speed, but quality shines through. If the music business is going to be pulled out of its tailspin, it is going to be from that side of the tracks. Country right now is the genre towing American music down.

Overall I was impressed by the sheer quality of everything last night. Maybe this was a product of lowered expectations, or maybe a symptom of watching so many country award shows lately. Comparatively to the CMA’s, the CMT’s, the ACM’s, there seemed to be more attention paid to quality, presentation, and the past at this years Grammy’s. Hell, Charlie Louvin got some face time last night.

One of my favorite performances of the night was The Avett Brothers mashup with Mumford and Sons, and eventually Bob Dylan. This stuff is probably on the very edge of what you might could classify as “country” or “roots,” and though I do think the performances were good, The Avett Brothers are finally getting some attention by getting away from their rootsy lineup and adding drums and electric bass, while Mumford seemed to take The Avett’s place by staying all acoustic and playing a kick drum: the same way The Avett’s cut their teeth. It’s like if roots music wants to be highlighted on a national level, it has to be a reduction. The announcer at one point couldn’t even pronounce The Avett’s name right, once again emphasizing that in the current music landscape, you can be a huge success story, play the Grammy’s, and nobody even knows who you are.

Also the tendency to lump performances into trios I find alarming. Yes, it does create cool pairings and allows more artists to be showcased, but it does so by diminishing the potency one artist, song, or solo performance can have, and just lends to the dwindling attention span of the American consumer. And the transplanted shill crowd of rabid fans right in front of the stage at virtually every nationally-televised music performance is getting old. We all know these people are pronged into acting excited, if not outright paid.

The most alarming incident of the night was the Indie rock performance and “Album of the Year” win for Arcade Fire. As I have stated before, Indie rock is the biggest threat to independent/underground roots music as they move to incorporate roots infrastructure more and more. This win can only embolden this trend. Why is Indie rock getting so much attention? Because Indie rock is safe money. Listen to me, and listen good. Poke and laugh at the hipsters and their funny clothes all you want, but they are coming, in droves, to take away what we have.

Apr
19

Taylor Swift’s 0-fer at ACM’s Due To Overexposure

April 19, 2010 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  27 Comments

The internet is exercised today over the fact that Taylor Swift did not win any hardware at last night’s ACM Awards. Fans are looking for the fix, and haters are wondering if this is the end of the Taylor fad. Well, you’re both wrong.

Back when she blew her performance at the Grammy’s her manager said Taylor was “overexposed.” Taylor won nothing by design. Fans and foes should not read anything into it. This is a move by a hyper-controlled career to keep the franchise on track. In fact, look at how many people are talking about it (including muah). Taylor is getting more free pub by not winning than she would by taking home one or two awards. Taylor may eventually prove to be a fad, but don’t buy into this charade, one way or another.

And another thing: These are just the ACM’s. They’re are the consolation prize for the CMA’s, and the CMA’s these days are a joke.


When I first tuned in to the ACM Awards last night, my senses that are so sheltered from the doings of pop country were wholesale violated in the most ill of ways. It started off with a song called “Hillbilly Bone,” which was ostensibly a rap duet sung by Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins. (You can see the duo disgracing the country music mother church with this filth HERE.) In a word, it was shocking, and it made me fear for the direction of the entire human race. I would have rather seen an abortion.

Next came Kenney Chesney clearly lip syncing, and I mean CLEARLY. I mean, even if you have a tattoo with your name and Kenny’s encased in a heart on your ass, last night your brow was furrowed in the universally-recognized “WTF?” position. It was bad. Bad bad.

After that I wasn’t sure I could take any more. I suffer through the CMA’s cover to cover every year, so the ACM’s in my opinion are extra credit. What pulled me through was one of my favorite country writers, one Juli Thanki, live blogging the event on the9513.com. Her quick wit made the whole night worth it. Here’s a sample size of some of her handiwork:

7:05 – Imagine Kenny popping out of the screen in 3D? No thanks.

7:10 – Aww, listen to the crowd pretending they know who Bob Wills is

7:33 – It must be difficult to dance in assless chaps.

9:30 – Brooks and Dunn now have to accept the Top Vocal Duo award and pretend like they don’t want to beat each other to death with their own rib bones.

9:50 – This camerawork is making me nauseated. Or maybe it’s the light reflecting off Keith Urban’s waxed chest.

9:53 – Who knew Nicole Kidman could move the muscles in her face enough to sing along?

And some zingers from her Twitter account:

Hello, Non-Threatening Mixed Gender Pop Country Band!

Crappy pop-country band shilling for crappy chocolate? Seems appropriate.

Did I tell you guys about my GENIUS idea in which Miranda and Brandi Carlile tour together? They also fight crime.

Randy Travis looks like the Cryptkeeper.

You can see the whole 9513 live ACM blog, including a few of clever comments by clicking here.

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