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.
Shovels & Rope
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
Henley’s been out there outwardly criticizing the state of country music and the state of music in general, though doing so with a lot more of a thoughtful and informed tone than many others, including tracing the problem back to the disappearance of the agrarian way of life that was once prevalent throughout America, and now finds itself quickly receding.
Andrew Combs, Ashley Monroe, Bill Monroe, Cale Tyson, Cass County, Dolly Parton, Don Henley, Dottie West, George Jones, Hank Williams, J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices, Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell, Jed Hilly, Jeffrey Foucault, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Kelsey Waldon, Kitty Wells, Merle Haggard, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Patsy Cline, Shovels & Rope, Striking Matches, Sturgill Simpson, The Eagles, The Milk Carton Kids
The hope of fans of any independent music artist is that they will be able to achieve a sustainable career, and that their music will find wider appeal amongst the listening public. When an independent artist succeeds, it’s important that we pay attention to what lent to that success so hopefully more worthy artists can achieve similar results, and to ask what that success might mean.
The Americana Music Association has just unveiled their list for the most played albums in 2014, and there’s quite a few surprises, and quite a few names traditionally considered country filling out the ranks. Though 2014 still has another month to go, the end of November traditionally marks the end of the radio calendar in music, allowing us to look back and see who had the greatest impact on the format.
Americana, Americana Music Association, Billy Joe Shaver, Dolly Parton, Jim Lauderdale, Johnny Cash, Lake Street Dive, Marty Stuart, NIckel Creek, Nikki Lane, Ray Benson, Rosanne Cash, Shovels & Rope, Sturgill Simpson
Shovels & Rope and the filmmakers put the cart before the horse, but in this instance it paid off in a brilliant and inspiring film. The Moving Picture Boys didn’t have the daunting task that most documentary makers face in attempting to tell a compelling story about an unknown or mundane subject. The story was telling itself in a way no script could ever facilitate.
How to evolve into a full band setting while still holding onto what won you such rabid grassroots support was the precarious challenge Shakey Graves was asked to pull off with this new Dualtone release And The War Came, and it’s what he accomplishes with such alacrity, the listener remains delightfully unaware any such challenge even existed.
So who could step up of in the country music vocal duo space who could duel with the heavyweights of the mainstream, and offer more substance to that category like The Civil Wars did? Of course there will only be one Civil Wars and nobody will be able to replace them completely, but here are some ideas who could have a similar impact.
Bruce & Kelly Show, Bruce Robison, Carolina Story, Dave Rawlings, First Aid Kit, Gillian Werlch, Jayke Orvis, Kacey Musgraves, Kellie Willie, Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, Mandolin Orange, Shovels & Rope, Simon & Garfunkel, T Bone Burnett, Taylor Swift, The Cactus Blossoms, The Church Sisters, The Everly Brothers, The Lovin Brothers, The Milk Carton Kids, The Secret Sisters, The Urban Pioneers
One of the hottest and most entertaining primordial string band outfits on the planet right now is the Austin-based Whiskey Shivers, and patient fans who’ve been waiting for a defining album from a band whose been tearing it up live for years are finally getting their wish. Produced by noteworthy Americana artist Robert Ellis, Whiskey Shivers will be releasing their self-titled LP September 23rd.
Willie Nelson’s private town called Luck, TX that sits on the edge of his ranch just west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country was heavily damaged in storms that moved through the area late last week. “Our beautiful Luck wasn’t so Lucky recently,” the Willie Nelson camp said in a statement, “Last week’s tornado force winds ripped several buildings apart…”
American Aquarium, Band of Brothers, Damaged, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Luck, Luck TX, Lukas Nelson, Nikki Lane, Shakey Graves, Shovels & Rope, Storm, SXSW, Willie Nelson, Willie Watson, World Headquarters
Saving Country Music was out and about Austin, TX and its outskirts over the past week or so as part of the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) gathering, pounding the pavement and looking for the next country music artist worthy of your ears that you may never otherwise hear about. In the coming months I look forward to taking some of these discoveries and sharing them with you.
American Aquarium, Brooklyn Country Cantina, Hurray For The Riff Raff, J.D. Wilkes, Legendary Shack Shakers, Lukas Nelson, Mickey Raphael, Nikki Lane, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sam Doores, Shovels & Rope, South by Southwest, Sturgill Simpson, SXSW, The Cactus Blossoms, The Defibulators, The Deslondes, The Dirt Daubers, Tim Easton, Willie Nelson, Willie Watson
The first issue of “Country Music Magazine” did not disappoint, and made good on their promise to deliver high quality content to the scores of country music fans who want to read about past greats and future hopefuls while not completely ignoring the mainstream names worth a listen. Now they have released their second issue, and the 2nd verse is as sweet as the 1st.
Austin Lucas, Buck Owens, BUddy Emmons, Country Music Magazine, Dolly Parton, Jason Eady, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Webb, Johnny Cash, Lindi Ortega, Marty Sturat, Possessed by Paul James, Reverend Horton Heat, Ricky Skaggs, Rosanne Cash, Samantha Crain, Shovels & Rope, Slaid Cleaves, Spade Cooley, Sturgill Simpson, Turnpike Troubadours, UK
Directed by Wayne Price, with producer Brian Devine and Graham Leader, Heartworn Highways Revisited is reported to be in post production, with hopes it will be released later this summer. They have also released a trailer for the new film on their website, and have revealed the new cast that includes Guy Clark, David Allan Coe, and Steve Young from the original film, as well as newer artists…
Andrew Combs, Bobby Bare Jr., Charlie Daniels, David Alan Coe, Deer Tick, Graham Leader, Guy Clark, Heartworn Highways, Heartworn Highways Revisited, John McCauley, Jonny Fritz, Josh Hedley, Justin Townes Earle, Langhorn Slim, Larry Jon Wilson, Matraca Berg, Phil Hummer, Robert Ellis, Rodney Crowell, Shelly Colvin, Shovels & Rope, Steve Young, Townes Van Zandt, Wayne Price
A couple of days ago, The Stagecoach Festival out in California announced their 2014 lineup, capped by headliners Eric Church, Jason Aldean, and Luke Bryan. Since its inception 7 years ago, Stagecoach has been the California contingent to America’s big corporate country music festivals, but what makes Stagecoach different is that they actually include independent and up-and-coming artists as well.
Black Flag, Corb Lund, Eric Church, Holly Williams, Jason Aldean, Jason Isbell, Lineup, Luke Bryan, Sarah Jarosz, Shakey Graves, Shovels & Rope, Stagecoach, Stagecoach Country Music Festival, Whiskey Shivers
ABC’s Wednesday night drama Nashville just entered its second season, and though like many network television dramas, the drama can feel over-the-top and contrived, the show’s impact on a wide range of issues that fall under the charge of Saving Country Music is undeniable, if not unprecedented. Though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the show, it’s still important to understand Nashville’s impact.
Everywhere in the independent music world you’re seeing songwriters who have struggled for years finally starting to get singed to record labels and releasing career-caliber albums. Whereas other sectors of the music industry seem to be gripped by the fear that digitization and streaming may ultimately doom the business of music, talented songwriters are benefiting from the search for the next writer to break out.
Amanda Shires, Ashley Monroe, Austin City Limits, Austin Lucas, Caitlin Rose, Dale Watson, Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves, Pokey LaFarge, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rolling Stones, Shovels & Rope, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sturgill Simpson, Valerie June
Letterman’s recent run of supporting independent country and roots artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Dale Watson, Shovels & Rope, and many more is not the result of some crack team of publicists and booking agents working together to peddle these artists to the right people, it is coming from David Letterman himself listening to these artists and wanting them to be featured on the show.
The Americana Music Awards just announced their 2013 nominees. On September 18th, the awards will once again be held at the prestigious Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and once again the nominations show a very narrow focus on the dramatically broadening world of Americana music. Aside from the Instrumentalists, only 11 names of artists or groups compile the entire field of 2013 Americana nominees.
Brucke Robison, Buddy Miller, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, JD McPherson, Jim Lauderdale, John Fullbright, Kelly Willis, Mumford & Sons, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Richard Thompson, Rodney Crowell, Shovels & Rope, The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers, The Milk Carton Kids
If you’re looking for an act that is still virtually unknown, one that is buried deep in the underground and that embodies the raw energy of the roots movement and not just a commercially-viable watered-down derivative, one whose active ingredient still works on even the most hardened of roots addicts, then Jayke Orvis and The Broken Band might be your drug.
.357 String Band, Alabama Shakes, Bless This Mess, Bob Wayne, Farmageddon Records, Hank Williams, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jared McGovern, Jayke Orvis, Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band, Jello Biafra, Joe Perreze, Liz Sloan, Punch Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Shovels & Rope, Sturgill Simpson, Weary Boys
We’ve talked about 7 Men Who Could Immediately Make Country Music Better, now let’s take a look at 9 women who could do the same. It’s been well documented that here in 2013, the women of country are outpacing the men when it comes to the quality of music–women like Kacey Musgraves who’ve seen breakout commercial success.
Ashley Monroe, Cary Ann Hearst, Dixie Chicks, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, First Aid Kit, Holly Williams, Kellie Pickler, Lindi Ortega, Pistol Annies, Rachel Brooke, Shovels & Rope, The Civil Wars, The Trishas, Valerie June