Hal Ketchum To Return After 6 Year Absence with “I’m The Troubadour”
Hal Ketchum had quite the country music career in the 1990’s. Signed with Curb Records, he released ten albums, including his debut Past The Point of Rescue, and went on to sell a total of five million records, chart 15 Top 10 hits, and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1994. But four years later, a diagnosis of acute transverse myelitis (a very similar ailment to multiple sclerosis) sidelined the singer and songwriter, causing him to lose use of the entire left side of his body. Ketchum had to relearn basic tasks, including how to sing and play the guitar again, and recovered enough to continue to record for Curb until 2008 when he retired to his cabin in Wimberley, TX.. “I went through some really serious bouts of paralysis, blindness and the fear that goes with all of that. I was in kind of a dark place,” Ketchum says. “I didn’t write, didn’t perform. I was just laying low…”
But 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.
According to Ketchum, the enthusiasm from Jimmy LaFave and Kelcy Warren of Music Road, and his desire to start writing again, is where the inspiration for the new album came from. “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.’ The key for me was getting up every morning and having something real to do. Some days, my hands don’t work as well as they should, I’ll get a little wobbly on occasion, but I just keep going.”
“I wasn’t really planning on doing another album,” Ketchum continues. “The whole Nashville scene is extremely competitive. You’re as good as your last record. People are always showing you spreadsheets on how much money you owe for videos and tour support and everything else. I think there’s a certain level of resentment that comes with that.“
That’s one of the reasons why fans of Ketchum shouldn’t expect his new album to be exclusively country, but a mixture of country, blues, folk, rock, and soul. “I like to say that I’ve been successfully misunderstood for 30 years. I mean, I was a cabinet maker from Gruene, TX. I got a record deal and I had a number one record out of the box, and suddenly I was a ‘country’ singer. The genre served me very well, and I’m really grateful for the opportunities that the country music world brought to me. But creatively, this record was a really beautiful departure for me. It’s really opened me up again. the freedom of working with Music Road Records, without genre restrictions and commercial pressure, has given him new life … I think it’s going to be refreshing for people who haven’t heard me in a while to know that the old man’s still swingin’.”
Ketchum insists he still loves country music and is honored to play it. But I’m The Troubadour will be an exploration of all of his musical influences.
“My mother put a great poem on my wall when I was a little kid called ‘Keep a-Goin’. It went –
Ain’t no use to sit and whine, ’cause the fish ain’t on your line,
bait your hook and keep a-tryin’, keep a-goin’.
“So that’s become my motto,” Ketchum says. “Just keep going.”
August 4, 2014 @ 7:09 pm
Wow I had no clue that his absence was due to health issues. I saw him play the Opry on my first trip to Nashville in 2005 and I’ve been a fan ever since. Small Town Saturday Night is one of the best country songs of the modern era, if not ever in my opinion.
August 4, 2014 @ 7:27 pm
In my opinion he stole the show at Americana Jam this year and I had no idea until that day that he said he wrote “I know where Love Lives”, sitting on the banks of the Guadalupe. It kind of painted that picture of the song even more clear in my mind. I absolutely love that song and had goosebumps when he sang it acoustic that day.
August 4, 2014 @ 7:34 pm
Another thing about that day that watching the clip reminded me of is Kenny Grimes can play the hell out of that guitar. You could just tell at Americana Jam that he was a big time picker. You can just pick those guys out, they don’t have to do anything fancy, it’s just all so smooth.
August 4, 2014 @ 8:46 pm
Yeah! I google Kenny Grimes and visited his web page after watching the clip because I didn’t recall the name but was impressed with his guitar work. He seems to be more grounded in Blues and Jazz, but nonetheless impressive.
August 4, 2014 @ 8:28 pm
As a little kid, I always getting excited when I heard Small Town Saturday Night on the radio. I still love that song. Happy Hal is able to cut another album, I didn’t know he had health issues!!1 Happy to see him back!! He has a lot of good songs!
August 4, 2014 @ 8:40 pm
Wow! Blast from the past. Kind of like seeing your ex from high school (that’s what songs “Small Town Saturday NIght” and “Mamma Knows the Highway” remind me of). Considering what he’s been through, he looks and sounds great! I’m kinda of black & white kinda guy these days so I’m not too inspired by the all-inclusivie, melting-pot genre approach to this project (I love labels), but if it crosses my desk I’ll be sure to give it a spin for old times sake!
August 4, 2014 @ 8:49 pm
One of the most unique and recognizable voices to ever grace country radio , IMHO . AND one of the most honest song- crafters to boot . I’m elated with the news that Hal has fought his way back from major health issues and still has ” IT ” when it comes to that voice and that fire . I’m so looking forward to new music from him . Just another example of how many wonderful options we have outside of mainstream radio when it comes to REAL vocalists and writers who are playing from a place of passion ,sincerity and gratitude and not chasing trends to please CEO’s and radio . ( Mary Chapin Carpenter , Ronnie Dunn , Claire Lynch , Sturgil Simpson , Lori McKenna , Gretchen Peters , Dolly , Merle , Holly Williams , Civil Wars and HAL KETCHUM to just scratch the surface )
August 5, 2014 @ 1:23 am
Really digging “I Know Where Love Lives”. There’s also something about the song that reminds me of 90’s rock.
August 5, 2014 @ 5:18 am
When I saw ‘signed to Curb records’, I expected a different explanation for his absence! Sorry he had to deal with those health issues. That cost us a lot of great music, too!
Hal just jumps off the radio. He belongs right up there with Vince Gill as far as great country voices. Hope this album is the first of many more.
August 5, 2014 @ 5:56 am
I know a lot of old timers didn’t dig 90’s country but there were some good writers putting out songs back then. I always dug Ketchum’s stuff.
TX Music Jim
August 5, 2014 @ 6:54 am
I dd not realize the extent of Hal’s health issues. God bless him for keeping on keeping on. I am looking foward to seeing him play this weekend at the Frio River Song Fest in Concan, Texas.I am especially looking forward to hearing the new tunes.Hal is a great writer and a unique vocalist. Kenny Grimes, hopefully will be playing guitar with Hal. Like a few have pointed out he is a underrated player.
August 5, 2014 @ 7:41 am
I’m not familiar with this gentleman, but I see his CDs in the bins when I am shopping for music.
I hope his health matches his creative spark.
Didn’t he do a tribute CD to George?
Speaking of Curb, don’t forget that Dale Earnhardt, Sr. is also a Curb almunus.
He drove for Curb for 2 – 3 years before Wrangler and then GM Goodwrench, in that order, became his sponsors.
He won his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship for Curb in around 1980.
August 5, 2014 @ 7:51 am
He has always been one of my favorites. Past The Point Of Rescue, and I Know Where Love Lives will always be a couple of my favorites. Thanks for the heads up!
August 6, 2014 @ 12:04 am
“Past the Point of Rescue” is one helluva song. He didn’t write it, but he made it. His younger self looks like a ringer for Dale Watson to me.
August 6, 2014 @ 9:33 am
Hal Ketchum has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve had the privilege of seeing him countless times, and he was always a tremendous vocalist and all around great guy. His “Awaiting Redemption” album remains one of my favorites of all time, with some outstanding writing courtesy of Hal and the late Stephen Bruton. I’m really happy that he’s decided to give it another go, and appreciate this writeup on one of the most underrated talents in music.
August 6, 2014 @ 1:42 pm
“I know where love is’…….. it’s having Hal back. I’ve seen him a concert numerous times, and seeing him back again, as handsome, talented, and hot, as ever!!! God bless, our prayers have been answered.
Andrea Powers Wooldridge
August 6, 2014 @ 1:56 pm
Hal is a true artist, and one of the best and most unique voices around. The fact that he writes his own songs, makes him even more unique. Small Town Saturday Night, I Know Where Love Lives, and Past the Point of Rescue are some of his biggest hits. He has a true fan base, and will no doubt continue to have a long and successful run.
John M. Cook
August 6, 2014 @ 2:28 pm
Hal Ketchum has always had the “it” that is needed to write well crafted songs, sing them in fine fashion and play them in an accomplished manner. The Nashville treadmill isn’t always interested in what’s best for the artist. That will change on Music Road. Jimmy LaFave is all about the song… his partner in Music Road (Kelcy Warren) although a successful businessman… has the heart for the artist and the music. I think they will make sure Hal gets to do the work that fits him best. I am certain after his absence, having the chance to do it “his way” means a lot to Hal and it will show in this new work.
August 6, 2014 @ 5:34 pm
So glad to know that Hal is back to writing ,, His songs are beautifully heartfelt. May he continue to keep a positive outlook on life and to be true to himself. He is an original and that is what his fans love about him.
August 6, 2014 @ 11:26 pm
I am so happy that Hal Ketchum is up & swinging. As soon as I found that out, I got ahold of his Peeps to find out if he will be performing at a venue in my area because I’ll be there in a heartbeat! I am inspired by Hal Ketchum & I can relate to Hal as I too am involved with music & had health issues similar in that it prevented me from doing what I love to do (for a time). I have most of Hal Ketchum’s Albums & I am looking forward to his latest. I am also looking forward for when Hal comes to my Town as I will be a “First Timer” in catching one of his Live Performances. Thanks Hal Ketchum & Keep On Keepin’ On!!!
August 7, 2014 @ 5:40 am
I heard Hal Ketchum sometime in the mid 90’s on our old NYC country western station, 103.5. I went out and tried to find every CD….and then hit the internet and bought up all of the rest! Couldn’t get enough of Hal…..Imagine my surprise when he played out on Long Island in Boulton Center for the Performing Arts in Bay Shore, NY on 7-23-09….We were there in the pouring rain. It was terrific. He sounded great. Better than the CDs. We were saddened by the news of his illness and hoped for a recovery. We are thrilled he is back to singing, performing, and recording. Best Wished to Hal and his family and friends. We love you Hal!!!!!
August 7, 2014 @ 6:11 am
I met Hal in Nashville in the early 90’s. I have always remembered the magic of his powerful spirit. I am so glad to hear there will be new music. I love his voice and the beautiful and heartfelt images he paints with his songs. Special Blessings to such a wonderful man.
August 7, 2014 @ 9:56 am
One unique, genuine, generous and courageous, gentleman artist… It was my privilege to come to know him as a human being, as well as an incomparable talent, nearly two decades past… My two faves, so far, are, “Sure Love” & “For Tonight”. This is sensational news…a genre’-eclectic CD! Keep moving and shaking, Hal. As always, I wish you every success and happiness life has to offer!
August 7, 2014 @ 4:57 pm
I’m so glad he is back. LoVE his voice and music. Excited â™¡â˜†
August 9, 2014 @ 9:24 pm
I’m a big fan of his. What a great voice. His albums Past the Point of Rescue, Sure Love & Every Little Word are all excellent. Still haven’t seen one of his shows but would love to. Welcome back Hal!
August 29, 2014 @ 7:24 pm
The new album is now available to DJ’s at Airplay Direct.
October 22, 2014 @ 3:07 pm
Hal Ketchum is the reason I began playing guitar and singing. His signature graces my first guitar and whenever I write…I wonder if he would approve.
Thanks Hal, glad you are back Sir
October 22, 2014 @ 6:11 pm
I first saw Hal on Austin City Limits “Past the Point of Rescue”. Been in Love ever since. I have everything he has ever put on tape or CD. It has been my pleasure to see him several times in concert!!
Favorites “wings of a dove”, “stay forever”, “little red dress”, “a girl like you” the list goes on and on. So glad he’s back Nashville here I come.
November 4, 2014 @ 1:15 pm
Always loved Hal’s voice. I got a chance to meet him last January. Besides being a great talent with such a beautiful voice, is also a very kind person. God Bless Hal. I hope your health continues to improve..
November 29, 2014 @ 3:27 pm
Our crowd go to see Hal whenever he visits England and really appreciate his music but most of all THAT VOICE! The new album is out of the top drawer with superb musicianship from all and the version of Stay For Ever raises even more goose bumps than the original. Great to have you back Hal. Keep on keeping on……..and come over the pond again soon!
March 2, 2015 @ 12:43 am
I have loved Hal`s singing for many years. I did know about his health issues.I am so glad about hearing he has a new album. Still.looking good!!
March 25, 2015 @ 11:55 am
I wanted to share…. I saw Hal & his full band at Alameda County Fair in in about 2003. After the a great show, he sat on the front of the stage, with his legs hanging down, and TALKED to the fans for about 30 minutes….like it was no big deal. Truely a NICE GUY and he wa unbelievably approachable. They ROCKED that night, and I have been a fan of this man ever since. Going to see him this Friday in Berkeley, CA, and I can’t wait. What a fighter – to keep wanted to play after all he’s been thru. A lovely man, IMHO!!
September 3, 2015 @ 12:28 pm
I have been a huge fan for many years and have gone to many concerts whenever I find out he is playing.
His voice is absolutely the best and his songs are heartfelt! I’ve listened to his songs over and over again on my long drives and have just ordered the Troubadour…can’t wait to hear it. My heart breaks to hear of his health issues. So happy he is back!
January 31, 2016 @ 7:05 pm
Our first dose of Hal was in the last century I think it was in the early 90’s. I won free tickets on a call in radio show for a county fair in Hampton,Iowa? My wife and myself road a full dresser Harley from Fort Dodge. I remember him saying he chipped a tooth on a coke bottle that day. Since then We have moved back to Texas and vow never to leave again! We live a short distance from Greune. One night we were walking from the parking lot to the Grist Mill for supper and heard his wonderful voice blasting out of Greune Hall. It was early and my wife commented that they were playing that juke box awfully loud. I said No that’s him. It was, he was doing a sound check for a show later that night. We rushed in, lucked out, got two of the last tickets, waited till he was done, talked to him a second, wife got his autograph. Saw him put on a great performance that night. Found out what a nice guy he was. That was out 2nd dose of Hal. Since then we try to see him when ever he comes to town. The last time was at the Brauntex. Never get tired of seeing him perform. A true Greune Texas Teasure.
April 23, 2017 @ 8:23 pm
I saw Hal for the first time in Missoula Montana, summer of 2000. Hal Ketchum had to replace hospitalized headliner Chris LeDoux at the fair. I was entranced by his music and have been a fan ever since. I drove truck at the time and “Momma knows the Highway” could be my theme song. I’m now in Knoxville and pray I get to see him again. So happy he’s performing.
July 30, 2017 @ 9:40 am
glad to have you back my favorite man in country music in the ninetys
April 27, 2020 @ 4:48 pm
Hal, hope you’re feeling good now. I miss our times in the construction trailer, and really feel like we became good friends. I’m still married to Joey, and my kids are still in Arkansas. Joey and I are totally retired, and live pretty well. We’re snowbirds, living 6 months (usually) in our house in Grass Lake, Michigan and 6 months at our house here in Lake Como, Florida (nudist resort)🤪. If you’re ever around either one, come visit! Cya. email: firstname.lastname@example.org. My cell: 734-645-5687