Tonight is the maiden voyage for the dumb “American Country Awards,” Fox TV and Rupert Murdock’s own personal pop country infomercial, and before it even gets off the ground it’s littered with controversy. When they first announced the new awards show, they touted it as “The first and only country music awards show where fans determine all the winners by voting for their favorite nominees in music and video categories.”
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Last night was an occasion I’d been looking forward to for a while: Justin Townes Earle sober (hopefully) return to Austin, TX, but in the traveling party as the support act was Catlin Rose, a Nashville-based singer/songwriter that I’ve been asked to give an opinion on many times, but for whom online music and videos had rendered my opinion inconclusive heretofore.
Everything seemed to be going right for Michelle, until she headed to Nashville to make the solo country album Everything Comes and Goes for Warner Music Nashville; “Nashville” being the optimum word. Suddenly a young woman who prided herself in writing her own songs and forging her own style had to become aware that country music works differently, much differently.
Mandolin maestro Jayke Orvis is hitting the road once again as his own man, with help from some familiar faces. The former .357 Sting Band member, and occasional member of The Goddamn Gallows has roped in the greatness of James Hunnicutt, along with Joe Perreze on banjo and Fishgutz (The Goddamn Gallows) on bass, aka ‘The Broken Band’ for a tour through the South and Midwest starting mid January.
But he insists other reported incidents from that night didn’t happen. Earlier this week Justin Townes Earle started out on his first tour after a rehab stint following an altercation in Indianapolis in September that ended in Earle being arrested for assault, public intoxication, and resisting arrest. Earle has insisted that some of the accounts of the incident that night have been false, a few of which recounted a drunken Earle publicly looking for drugs.
Following is my list for the essential albums for 2010, broken down into a few of categories.This is meant to compliment the Album of the Year candidates in this super-packed year for stellar music. Hopefully next year, Saving Country Music can branch out a bit and cover the more traditional mainstream acts, but it will always be on top of the smaller acts trying to get their music out there, not instead of them.
.357 String Band, Brigitte London, Dale Watson, Farmageddon Records, Hank III, Hillstomp, Jayke Orvis, Joseph Huber, Legendary Shack Shakers, Lucky Tubb, Peewee Moore, Pete Berwick, Reverend Deadeye, Shelli Coe, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, The Shivering Denizens, Those Poor bastards, Tom VandenAvond, Trampled by Turtles, Wayne Hancock, Whitey Morgan & The 78's
Joe Buck is the nexus of where punk and country meet. Former bass player for Hank III, former everything for Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, Joe Buck is now a one man wrecking crew, hell bent on pounding and screaming his message of a world gone mad to the masses. After years of touring and putting out low-fi homespun projects ripped in the back of his motorhome, Joe Buck hooked up with legendary producer Jack Endino to record his first serious project, Piss & Vinegar.
Tay-Swizzle may hate criticism, or my criticism specifically, but personally, I love criticism. And the better the criticism, the more thought out and researched it is, the more I love it. It keeps me on my toes. It makes me work harder to make sure my assertions are solid. Any artist or writer, or really anybody should embrace and encourage good criticism. Good criticism can breed conflict that can turn into resolution and understanding.
2010 has been a bumper crop year for outstanding REAL/Outlaw/roots/underground/insurgent country to say the least. The result is some projects that may have been serious candidates for Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year in another calendar cycle will not appear, and the requirements must become even more rigorous. For an album to be considered this year, it must be a top-caliber project not just for this year, but for all-time.
.357 String Band, Deguello Motel, Feed The Family, Hank III, Hellbound Glory, Jayke Orvis, Justin Townes Earle, Lucky Tubb, Old Highs and New Lows, Possessed by Paul James, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Roger Alan Wade, Scott Biram, Wayne Hancock
For the last 6 years, Wayne “The Train” Hancock playing Austin, TX’s legendary Continental Club on Thanksgiving Night has slowly morphed into a full blown tradition. Though Wayne is based out of Austin, he plays in town maybe twice a year, keeping his A-Town appearances exclusive, and special. Opening this year was the greatness of Lucky Tubb with His Modern Day Troubadours.
Alright. So when I first listened to Taylor Swift’s new album Speak Now over two weeks ago, and heard for the first time the song “Mean,” I have to admit that it crossed my mind that the song might be about me. And not me as one Taylor Swift critic among many, but me, The Triggerman, the benevolent dictator of Saving Country Music, specifically.
But then I laughed off the idea and let it die. To think a song on Taylor’s album specifically targeted me seemed the utmost of conceit, and I was a little embarrassed for even letting my brain go there. And moreover, the thought of asserting this idea publicly seemed like the mother of all ego strokes.
It might be easy to gloss over just how good of a songwriter Joseph Huber is from his work with the .357 String Band. The break neck nature of their music tends to make your brain focus on the energy instead of the enigmatic lyricism and above average song structuring. But slow the songs down and you can see it, and that is exactly what Joe has done with Bury Me When I Fall.
Hal Leonard Publishing and Backbeat Books have announced the upcoming release of a new title: Family Tradition – The Three Generations of Hank Williams by Susan Masino. The book will be a 256-page hardcover, with a $24.99 asking price. At the moment it is scheduled to be released on May 3rd, 2011.
Yesterday, fiddle phenom, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and singer Ruby Jane turned 16. Less and less it feels right to call her a “prodigy” as she grows older and her skins on the wall continue to grow as well, surpassing the accolades many musicians twice her age have amassed. Ruby Jane has deserved to be judged against musicians of any age for years, but as she reaches 16, her songwriting and singing have become even more refined.
I’m happy to announce that Charlie Louvin: Still Rattling The Devil’s Cage, a film project by Blake Judd and Keith Neltner has been fully funded through Kickstarter. The project was put together to develop a DVD whose proceeds will go to Charlie Louvin and his mounting medical bills associated with his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer.
After the 2010 CMA’s some wanted to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner for saving country music because folks like Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert walked away with big awards while the usual cast of pop country performers got the razz. Little they know this is all theater to keep us purists from not getting to restless, and setting up Taylor Swift to sweep the awards in 2011.
A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Bob Wayne before his gig at Austin’s Hole in the Wall to discuss a few things, including the slight delay in the release of his new album Outlaw Carnie and his relationship with the traditionally heavy metal label Century Media, as well as the new band lineup, and how he lets Andy Gibson beat him at video games.
I know some were insulted when they rolled up to their beloved Saving Country Music and merely saw the title of this article, and those people can feel free to navigate to the comments section and voice their displeasure. But the simple fact is that Taylor Swift’s Speak Now is already the biggest album in all of music in the last five years, and on its way to being the biggest in a decade whose album sales overall look like an inversion of The Price Is Right’s mountain climber game.
Joseph Huber, one of the primary songwriters and banjo/fiddle player for the high-octane bluegrass outfit The .357 String Band has released a solo album called Bury Me Where I Fall. This album marks a completely different direction from the punk-inspired string music Joe & .357 are known for, but not in the emphasis on top-notch songwriting. Joe takes a more poetic, Townes Van Zandt approach to the lyrics, and a more artistic approach to the music.
Tonight is 2010’s installment of the CMA Awards, undoubtedly country music’s most important night, but one that is regularly marked by controversy. The kinky sex backroom deals that make mainstream country turn get exposed for all to see as awards are handed out as bribes and paybacks, with quality and talent being the least of criteria, if even a concern.
Yesterday was the worldwide release for Charlie Louvin’s new album The Battle Rages On, a 12-song tribute to the men and women of the Armed Services. The 4-time Grammy Winner, Country Music Hall of Famer, and member of the Grand Ole Opry for 55 years shows his patriotic side as his own battle rages on with pancreatic cancer.
On Saturday night the Hole in the Wall in Austin, TX was transformed into “Dirtyfoot” headquarters for fans, bands and extended family of Hillgrass Bluebilly Records for their Launch Party. Folks from as far as Canada, Seattle, Minnesota, and Boston flew in exclusively for the event and helped pack the walls of the Hole to near capacity, while over 150 people from around the world tuned in through SCM Live to share the experience.
7 bands and 5 hours of music meant both Hole in the Wall’s stages were pressed into service….
Austin, Billy Joe Shaver, Dale Watson, Darren Hoff & The Hard Times, Hillgrass Bluebilly, Hole in The Wall, Jim Stringer, Larry & His Flask, Lisa Pankratz, Possessed by Paul James, Roger Wallace, Ten Foot Polecats, The Boomswagglers, Tom VandenAvond, Wayne Hancock
When the Family Tradition exhibit in the Country Music Hall of Fame opened in March of 2008, covering the lives and careers of Hank Sr., Jr., III, Hilly, Holly, and Jett, it was scheduled to close on Decemeber 31, 2009. Nearly a year later it is still going strong, kept alive by popular demand and critical acclaim, and now it is expanding.
On Monday (11-1-10) Jashie P. of Outlaw Radio Chicago met up with the one and only Willie Nelson for a brief but productive interview on Willie’s bus right before his performance at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, IL. Willie talked about how the title for his new album Country Music was a tip of the hat to what he always though country music sounded like, and how he never listens to Sugarland, or most of the other stuff coming out of Music Row.