With the passing of the 94-year-old “Little” Jimmy Dickens at the beginning of 2015, it’s a reminder for us to cherish the final living links to country music’s most legendary past who can still tell stories of how country music once was. The amount of performers who were important in forming the very foundation of country music are quickly fading away.
Around the passing of The Possum in 2013, I remember the news of his widow Nancy setting up an endowment and scholarship fund for MTSU in the name of George Jones. What I didn’t know, and what has gone somewhat under-reported, is that the passing of George and the endowment encouraged the faculty of MTSU to enter a class on the life of George Jones into the school’s curriculum.
Out of the 67 current members of the Opry, only 25 of them fulfilled their 10 appearance obligation, and three of those died during the year. 11 members didn’t make any appearances at all. But what may be more interesting is who is appearing on the Opry to take up the slack. Of the Top 11 performing members at the Grand Ole Opry in 2014, the average age was 79-years-old.
A country music legend, and one of the oldest living country music performers still alive from country’s golden era is in critical condition in a Nashville area hospital. “Little” Jimmy Dickens, one of the most venerable members of The Grand Ole Opry and a country music Hall of Famer, was admitted to the hospital on Christmas for an undisclosed illness.
If you’re looking for names to populate your most anticipated projects to be released in 2015, putting Mo Pitney at or near the top would be a savvy choice. With a one in a million country voice conveyed in a smoothness we haven’t heard since Don Williams, Mo Pitney is a chill-inducing traditional country artist with a succulent pentameter and delivery, and a songwriter’s pen engorged with stories.
Tonight (10-3) on the Friday night presentation of the Grand Ole Opry, Capitol Records recording group Little Big Town was surprised by Reba McEntire on stage and invited to become the newest members of country music’s most storied institution. Now Little Big Town, like so many of the Opry’s newest members, can take the accolades and attention the distinction bestows, but not fulfill their performance obligations.
Jim Ed Brown, member of the influential early country family band The Browns, esteemed solo artist, and long-time devoted member of the Grand Ole Opry, has been diagnosed with lung Cancer. Brown made the announcement today after he was forced to cancel a few shows recently. “I am forever grateful for the love, support, and prayers during this time,” Jim Ed said in a statement.
The question about David Allan Coe has never been if he’s a badass, but if he’s a little too badass. Some of his stories are hard to believe. Others are even harder to validate. And others are hard to herald because of the malevolent nature of the occurrences or outcomes. David Allan Coe is a living dichotomy. He’s a scary, weird, train wreck of a man; but an American treasure, and a country music legend.
The Legends of Sun Records exhibit will showcase many artifacts and much information about the original class of Sun Records stars, but one man, and one particular piece of memorabilia might be worth paying a little bit of extra attention to. W.S. “Fluke” Holland is not a name that is as familiar to music fans as the other big Sun Recordings stars, but his significance cannot be overstated.
The music spirit in Hal Ketchum has surfaced once again, and working with Austin, TX-based label Music Road Records, the 61-year-old singer is set to release his first album in six years called “I’m The Troubadour” on October 7th. “I came to the realization that I had gotten to this deep level of depression, and I finally said to myself, ‘I can still do this. I can still write.’ “
George Riddle, a songwriter and musician whose music and influence can be heard throughout the classic country music world, passed away on Saturday night, July 19th after battling with throat Cancer. he might be best known as the very first and original Jones Boy, backing George Jones up in what would later become George’s legendary band.
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.
The bayou cries out in mourning, but the music will live on. Jimmy C. Newman, the ‘C’ standing for “Cajun,” known as one of country music’s most passionate champions of the Cajun influence and nicknamed “The Alligator Man,” passed away on Saturday, June 21st due to Cancer. He was 86-years-old. Jimmy C. Newman, “The Alligator Man”, is now sitting on the banks of the great bayou in the sky.
Talk at one point had the show moving to Texas or Los Angeles to continue production, if the show continued at all. As the week drew on and the announcements came down for other shows, the fate of Nashville remained in limbo. Finally late Friday night, right after midnight Eastern Time, at tweet from ABC Music Lounge confirmed, “It’s official! @Nashville_ABC renewed for Season 3!!!”
When it comes to the preservation of the history and sound of country music, you can make the case there is nobody who does it better and with more passion and dedication than Marty Stuart. Tireless and true to his convictions, from his music, to his archive of memorabilia, to his presence on television and the Grand Ole Opry stage, and to some of the thankless things he does well out of the public eye…
The grandson of Hank Williams and the son of Hank Jr. falls in line with the other country artists covered in Saving Country Music “10 Badass Moments” series by being a rough and tumble character both on and off the stage, but also in showing great character by giving back and using his famous name for good. Here’s 10 Badass Moments from Shelton Hank Williams III, or Hank3.
In 2013, there is only one music artist who can say they’re officially banned for life from country music’s most storied institution: the Grand Ole Opry. No, it’s not David Allan Coe, Hank Williams III, or some other hothead, firebrand artist quick to call out the Opry and other mainstream country music institutions at any perceived slight. No, the offending party is none other than alt-country luminary Neko Case.
Amber Digby’s gift is being able to hand select classic country songs from the past that never became full-on classics, but should have. And then with her band Midnight Flyer, Amber makes these songs classics by the power of her pure country voice. It’s part album making, part archeology dig, and then she adds a few newer offerings and self-penned songs to the mix for good measure.
This story grew many tentacles, but one worth following a little deeper is Blake Shelton and his current membership at The Grand Ole Opry. By not making even one appearance at the Opry in 2012, Blake Shelton is in unquestionable violation of the Opry’s long-standing membership rules. According to the bylaws of The Opry, membership not only has to be earned, but maintained.
If anybody asked me point blank, who is the artist that is most saving country music right now? I would answer without hesitation, “Marty Stuart.” Marty Stuart is the man. He breathes country music, and helps preserve it and pay it forward almost as if it was an involuntary action. He doesn’t know how to do anything different.
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