Johnny Cash Tribute / James Hand Reissue Coming from Hillgrass Bluebilly

A new Johnny Cash compilation, as well as a 10th year Anniversary/Deluxe Edition of the James Hand studio album Mighty Lonesome Man is coming from the Austin, TX-based independent record label Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. The releases are part of a last hurrah and Grand Finale from the label after releasing multiple original albums, compilations, and reissues over the past 15 years.

Hillgrass Bluebilly received international recognition for their 2009 compilation called Hiram and Huddie, which combined the legacies of “Hiram” Hank Williams, and Huddie William Ledbetter, a.k.a. Lead Belly into a two-album tribute. Now Volume 3 will be issued on November 4th with sixteen tracks, featuring contributors such as Charlie Parr, Austin Lucas, Karen Jonas, and even hip-hop legend Chuck D of Public Enemy collaborating with Bob Log III on the classic Cash cut, “Man in Black” (see full track list below.)

The Johnny Cash volume will be followed up at a later date with a tribute to blues legends RL Burnside, fulfilling the cross track collaboration that helped form the blues influence in country music and beyond.

Hard times are a harbinger of truer shades of entertainment,” says Hillgrass Bluebilly. “Cash cut his path in an era of unrest. While the future brought no end to the tension there are still folks building bridges, celebrating differences, and pointing a light at the darkness through music. Hillgrass Bluebilly records’ tribute to Johnny Cash features various artists that embody that spirit. Much like the man himself, we hope this tribute hits the heart of its intended audience, anybody with a middle finger.”

The Johnny Cash tribute coincides with a sister release of sorts celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the release of the James Hand album Mighty Lonesome Man. Called Master of Depression: 10th Anniversary of Mighty Lonesome Man, the reissue includes multiple previously-unheard songs, and a completely remixed and remastered version of the entire album by Grammy-recognized engineer and producer Cris Burns, with new artwork inspired by the photography of Charlie Ekstrom, and rendered by Grego Anderson. It will be released on October 14th.

Early on in the recording of the original James Hand album, the song “Master of Depression” was softened to “Lesson in Depression,” but both versions of the song make it onto the new album, along with never-before-heard song “You’re An Angel,” and the first version of Hand’s Gospel song “Stormclouds in Heaven.” James Hand passed away in 2020, making these tracks especially important as some of Hand’s final unheard recordings. James Hand’s family, including his son James (Tracer) Edward Hand III signed off on the project.

James Hand was considered one of the most authentic artists in country. In fact, when asked about Hand, Willie Nelson stated, “James Hand is the real deal!” Though remaining mostly obscure for much of his life and career, Hand been enjoying a resurgence of interest lately, due in part to Charley Crockett, who released a tribute to James in 2021 called 10 For Slim, and also has loosely based his latest album Man From Waco in part upon James Hand.

Both James Hand’s contribution to the Johnny Cash compilation (“Get Rhythm”), as well as Hand’s “Stormclouds in Heaven” from the upcoming 10th Anniversary reissue can be heard below.

PRE-SAVE Master of Depression: 10th Anniversary of Mighty Lonesome Man

PRE-SAVE JR (Johnny Cash) Tribute to Johnny Cash


1. “There You Go” – Darren Hoff and the Hard Times 
2. “Let the Train Blow the Whistle When I Go” – Tom VandenAvond 
3. “Tennessee Stud” – Austin Lucas
4. “Man in Black” – Chuck D feat Bob Log III
5. “Get Rhythm” – James Hand 
6. “Redemption” – Ten Foot Polecats
7. “Big River” – Ten Foot Polecats 
8. “Country Trash” – Amanda Jo Williams
9. “Ballad of a Teenage Queen – “RestavRant
10. “Beast in Me” – Delaney Davidson
11. “Give my Love to Rose” – Willy Tea Taylor 
12. “Apache Tears” – Los Duggans 
13. “Wreck of Old 97” – Left Lane Cruiser
14. “Understand Your Man” – Karen Jonas
15. “Straight A’s in Love” – South Filthy
16. “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord” – Charlie Parr

– – – – – – – – –

TRACK LIST: Master of Depression: 10th Anniversary of Might Lonesome Man

1. “Lesson in Depression:
2. “Favorite Fool”
3. “Mighty Lonesome Man”
4. “Stormclouds in Heaven”
5. “Years I’ve Been Loving You”
6. “The Drought”
7. “Old Man Henry
8. “Please Me When You Can”
9.  “Now Not Later”
10. “My Witness”
11. “I Wish You Would Kiss Me”
12. “You Were With Me Then”
13. “You Almost Fell”
14. “You’re An Angel”
15. “Master of Depression”

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