Saving Country Music’s official Top 25 Current Playlist has just been juiced with reinforcements and fresh horses to spirit listeners into the heart of spring with some of the best country music selections overlooked by most of popular media, but holding an appeal that is deemed worthy enough to be heard worldwide.
Sam Outlaw didn’t become one of the fastest-rising artists in independent country because of his name. He did it in spite of it. Everybody wants to hide behind layers of forced authenticity in country music these days, and bray about how country they are because of where they were born, or what kind of bad things they’ve done.
Unless you were stuck on an island recently, I’m sure the article called “10 Lamest Americana Acts” by the once prestigious, and now click-hungry newsweekly alternative known as L.A. Weekly passed under your nose. Here are the 10 artists presented by L.A. Weekly and in the same order, but filling in the positives and counterpoints left out of their piece.
Dave Rawlings, Devil Makes Three, Gillian Welch, Jack Grelle, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Jason Isbell, L.A. Weekly, Lucinda Williams, Robert Ellis, Sam Outlaw, Shovels & Rope, Wayne 'The Train' Hancock
So apparently Americana and some of its top artists aren’t above criticism by a major media outlet. This is what the independent country and Americana communities had to face down on Friday (3-31) when an author by the name of Jonny Whiteside writing for L.A. Weekly published an article slamming some of Americana’s elite.
10 Lamest Americana Acts, Devil Makes Three, Don Maddox, Gillian Welch, Jack Grelle, James Intveld, Jason Boland, Jason Isbell, Jonny Whiteside, LA Weekly, Lucinda Williams, Maddox Brothers and Rose, Red Simpson, Robert Ellis, Rose Maddox, Sam Outlaw, Shovels & Rope, Wayne 'The Train' Hancock
‘Tenderheart’ is said to pick up where Angeleno left off—asserting Sam’s “SoCal country” style that mixes in the twang from nearby Bakersfield, subtle Western-swing influences, along with the singer-songwriter legacy of the desert city, inspired by the style and vastness of Los Angeles. The album comes as Sam has experienced major changes in his life.
After the awards, Jason Isbell did like so many artists of country music’s storied past once did after playing at the Country Music Mother Church. He ambled out of the backstage exit into the famous alley that separates the Ryman and the bars of Lower Broadway, and took the stage with his wife Amanda Shires at Robert’s Western World.
Adam Meisterhaus, Amanda Shires, Americana, Americana Music Awards, Cary Ann Hearst, Dave Cobb, Jack Ingram, Jason Isbell, Jeremy Pentacost, Josh Hedley, Robert's Western World, Ryman Auditorium, Sam Outlaw, Sam Palladio, Shovels and Rope, Steve Earle
It took the death of four people and dozens of others injured after a drunken madman ran his car through a crowded downtown Austin street in 2014, as well as a completely clusterfucked permitting system by the City of Austin so mired in red tape it takes months of dedicated manpower to actually put on a show, but it appears that SXSW has finally reached a point where the annual event has stopped growing uncontrollably.
Aaron Lee Tasjan, Al Scorch, Andrew Combs, Daniel Antopolsky, Heartworn Highways Revisited, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jonny Fritz, Luck TX, Luke Winslow-King, Margo Price, Michaela Anne, Parker Millsap, Possessed by Paul James, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robbie Fulks, Robert Ellis, Sam Outlaw, Sam Quinn, SXSW, The Black Lillies, The Wild Reeds, The Yawpers, Townes Van Zandt
For every officially-sanctioned event, there’s two more that squeeze in where they can and try to keep the original spirit of SXSW alive, including the now 8th Annual Brooklyn Country Cantina, which boasts a stacked 2016 lineup including Sam Outlaw, Daniel Romano, Possessed by Paul James, The Quebe Sisters, Mike and the Moonpies, and many more.
Some independent country fans love to harp on whose name is in the biggest font in the headliner positions, but the names Stagecoach invites each year to fill out the roster gives you great hope for the future of country, and tells you who to look out for in the coming months and years, this year especially.
Aaron Watson, Amanda Shires, Billy Joe Shaver, Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, Dale Watson, Emi Sunshine, Emmylou Harris, Jamestown Revival, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Langhorne Slim and the Law, Luke Bell, Marty Stuart, Mo Pitney, Robert Earl Keen, Sam Outlaw, Stagecoach, Stagecoach 2015, The Deslodes, The Malpass Brothers, The Turnpike Troubadours, Whitey Morgan, William Elliot Whitmore
Sam Outlaw is not his real name. Well, not really. His real name is Sam Morgan. But his mother’s maiden name is Outlaw, so it’s close. But he’s not a real Outlaw. Nor is he a real cowboy, even though he apparently owns a fine collection of over half a dozen Stetsons. The 32-year-old Sam Outlaw was an advertising salesman up to a few months ago.
If you’re looking for a brand of country music that is country and country only, not country rock, country punk, “evolved” country, alt-country or Americana, then J.P. Harris & The Tough Choices just might be right in your wheelhouse. J.P. lets it be known he’d rather you leave your hyphenated country labels and long-winded qualifiers clear of what he does.
Ameripolitan, Bandit Brand, Bandit Town, Buck Owens, Chance McCoy, Dale Watson, Home Is Where The Hurt Is, Joe Fletcher, Junior Brown, Keep It Country Festival, Merle Haggard, Miss Lonely Hearts, Nikki Lane, Old Crow Medicine Show, Red Simpson, Sam Outlaw, Whitey Morgan & The 78's