Believe it or not, you can draw a straight line between underground roots music, and Chris Stapleton becoming the most successful country music artist in the last two years in regards to awards and album sales. Let me explain how:
For the second time in four months, a writer for the Dallas Observer has taken a completely ridiculous and incorrect premise, hindered by a perspective on country music that is very much from the outside looking in, and built it into an irresponsible think piece that shreds the truth and frames anyone who would have the audacity to care about country music as a feckless, misguided moron.
At this point, we shouldn’t even be listening to “Brace For Impact” in my opinion. Even more so than with most artists, Sturgill Simpson’s music is meant to be taken as a cohesive expression, with each song leading into the next on a purposeful timeline. All you have to do is listen to “Brace For Impact” and how it’s abruptly cut off at the end to understand this.
Ever since October 1st when Reno, Nevada-based country outfit Hellbound Glory posted on their Facebook page “31 more nights… till the death of Hellbound Glory…” speculation has run rampant about what might befall the band on All Hallows’ Eve as it fastly approaches. Subsequently Hellbound Glory has booked a concert they’re advertising by saying “Witness The Death of Hellbound Glory.”
The Metamodern rise of Sturgill Simpson could be classified as meteoric, and his dramatic ascent in the last few months is virtually unparalleled in the modern country music world for an independent artist. Amidst the swelling crowds, the high praise, and far flung accolades, let’s look back at Sturgill Simpson, and take a moment to reflect on how he got here.
Charlie Robison, David Letterman, Dwight Yoakam, High Top Mountain, Marty Stuart, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, Pickathon, Pokey LaFarge, Sturgill Simpson, Sunday Valley, The Grand Ole Opry, The Legendary Shack Shakers, Zac Brown, Zac Brown Band
The front man for the wanton and reckless Sunday Valley project is all growns up, and lays down a fiercely traditional, hardcore honky tonk album slathered with steel guitar, country keys from Hall of Famer Hargus “Pig” Robbins, and whatever else is called for and in ample measure to give life and color to Sturgill’s blue ribbon offerings.
About this time last year, I was telling everybody that 2012 was going to be the year of Kentucky-born and Nashville-based singer / songwriter Sturgill Simpson. “Mark my words,” I said. He had a brand new, professionally-made album in the can featuring recently-minted Country Hall of Famer Hargus “Pig” Robbins amongst other notable contributors.
Sturgill Simpson, the dynamic force behind the band Sunday Valley, who is on the tail end of completing what Sturgill hopes to be his breakthrough album, has decided to go with a name change to “Sturgill Simpson & The High Top Mountain Boys” out of respect to the side players who are no longer with the band.
Hollywood seems obsessed with finding talent among the masses with their silly reality show contests like American Idol and The Voice, when in reality there’s a boatload of talent just sitting there waiting to be discovered right under their surgically-crafted, cosmetically-sculptured noses. So here’s a list of some bands that are go ready, right now, no excuses.
Anderson Family Bluegrass, Dale Watson, Hellbound Glory, Leroy Virgil, Mad Max and the Wild Ones, Marty Stuart, Paige Anderson, Rachel Brooke, Ruby Jane, Sturgill Simpson, Sunday Valley, Turnpike Troubadours, Waylon Jennings, Wayne Hancock, Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Wyatt Maxwell
I think at this point it is pretty much a forgone conclusion that in 2012 we’re all going to die of death. You know, that whole Mayan thing. But I thought just to be on the safe side, just in case we all don’t die, we’ll probably want to listen to some music, so wouldn’t it be cool to know what some of your favorite artists have planned for 2012.
Adam Lee, Austin Lucas, Bob Wayne, Derek Dunn, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jayke Orvis, JB Beverly & the Wayward Drifters, Lone Wolf, Lonesome Wyatt, McDougall, Olds Sleeper, Peewee Moore, Possessed by Paul James, Rachel Brooke, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Roger Alan Wade, Ruby Jane, Slackeye Slim, Sunday Valley, Those Poor bastards, Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Willy Tea Taylor
Well here it is, the end of December. The last few moments of 2011 are counting down, and yet completely unbeknown to us, right under our noses, one of the most expansive, imaginative, engaging, and inspiring projects all year is finally coming into full bloom. It is called Year of the Horse by the Cold Spring, KY-based Kentucky Struts.
So here it is, the list of albums Saving Country Music deems essential for 2011 listening. Please note this list only includes albums that have been reviewed so far. And as always, your feedback is encouraged. What are your essential albums? What did we miss? What was released in 2011 that deserves a review?
Bob Wayne, Coday Canada, Eilen Jewell, Gillian Welch, Hank3, Husky Burnette, Jason Boland, Jimbo Mathus, Larry & His Flask, Little Lisa Dixie, Lone Wolf, Lonesome Wyatt, Lucky Tubb, Lydia Loveless, Nick 13, Olds Sleeper, Rachel Brooke, Scott H. Biram, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Sunday Valley, The Damn Quails, The Dirt Daubers, The Goddamn Gallows, Tom Waits, Ugly Valley Boys, William Elliot Whitmore, Willy Tea Taylor
When I sat down to name the top 10 live performances of 2011 as seen through my eyes, I didn’t know what a mess I was making for myself, and it wasn’t until then that I realized what a power packed year for live music it has been. My 10 stretched to 15 fast, and I’m still leaving many live acts out.
Austin Lucas, Bloodshot Records, Charlie Parr, Hank3, Hellbound Glory, James Hunnicutt, Jayke Orvis, Justin Townes Earle, Lukas Nelson, Marty Stuart, Micah Schnabel, Pickathon, Possessed by Paul James, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ruby Jane, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Sunday Valley, SXSW, The Goddamn Gallows, The Muddy Roots Festival, Two Cow Garage, Wayne Hancock, Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Willie Nelson
Certainly Pickathon is an expensive festival in a severe corner of the country (just outside of Portland, OR), and these natural barriers will always keep some from being able to attend. But as far as creating the best environment to allow creativity to happen, and a model for other festivals and public events to learn and be inspired from, Pickathon has no peer…
Whitey Morgan and his bass player Jeremy Mackinder have a very similar symbiotic relationship that made the pairings of Waylon Jennings and his drummer Ritchie Albright, Willie Nelson and his drummer Paul English, into such successful, productive duos: a working relationship that just works, where creativity can flourish while nuts and bolts tasks still get done. During SXSW I sat down with the pair for a chat.
Bloodshot Records, Dale Watson, Deadstring Brothers, Jeremy Mackinder, Joe Satriani, Keith Richards, Levon Helm, Pickathon, Pokey LaFarge, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sunday Valley, SXSW, Waylon Jennings, Wayne Hancock, Whitey Morgan and the 78's
It is not easy to capture the live energy a live band is known for in a recording, but To The Wind And On To Heaven does. I really wouldn’t characterize this project as “produced” or “slick” or “polished.” It is simply honest and fearless. And it is accessible. Listen, I know Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers or Those Poor Bastards are not for everyone, but when you hear Sunday Valley, you think, “Now THIS is what they should be playing on 98.1.”