Officially Declaring July 15th a Country Music Holiday

This story has been updated.

By the powers vested in me by the institution of country music, I hereby declare July 15th, in the Year of Our Ford 2022, an official country music holiday due to the incredible volume of important country and roots music releases being debuted on this day. This proclamation bestows all the rights and privileges of an observed Federal holiday to all actual country music fans, and this declaration can be printed out and presented as legal tender similar to a doctor’s note to excuse tardiness, absenteeism, distraction, or other compromise in one’s productivity when to comes to employment, civic, or familial duties.

Please see the daunting list of important album releases all transpiring on July 15th, which has resulted in this declaration.

Arlo McKinley – This Mess We’re In

The last time Arlo McKinley released a record, the darn thing hauled off and won Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year. All the more reason to not temper excitement for his second album on John Prine’s Oh Boy Records.

“I’m private with a lot of things I go through, but in my songs, I’m honest about everything. So I started to write as a way of getting stuff out,” McKinley says. “To me, ‘This Mess We’re In’ is a growth record. I was navigating through a pretty bad time, but also there was the realization that it’s time to really change. My last album was me figuring out whether to stay or go from a very confused spot in my life. This one is trying to better myself—as a musician, as a human being, as a friend.” (read more)

Willi Carlisle – Peculiar, Missouri

Those who’ve seen the whimsical and enthralling folk country storyteller from Arkansas named Willi Carlisle in person will swear by the natural showmanship he exudes, the enchantment of the old traditional songs and tall tales he unearths, and the magnetism of the original songs he composes.

Willi Carlisle is like few things you will experience in music. His songs are strongly literary with rich characters, and his delivery is deeply compelling. And whether he gets you to laughing, crying, feeling unsettled, or infinitely satisfied, Carlisle always leaves a lasting impression. (read more)

Tami Neilson – KINGMAKER

At Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion in mid March, Canadian-born and New Zealand-based country soul artist Tami Neilson was set to perform early in the day. Those who knew of Tami, they knew to arrive early to catch her set. Little did we know watching Tami perform that we would get the rare treat of seeing Willie Nelson himself appear on stage to sing a duet with Neilson. Called “Beyond The Stars,” the song was written in tribute to Tami’s father, and was the first taste of her new album KINGMAKER.

 If “Beyond The Stars” is any indication—or the other early songs “Careless Woman” and “Baby, You’re a Gun”—the new album will be yet another excellent selection from this country soul powerhouse with a howitzer for a voice, and a penchant for telling it like it is. (read more)

Zach Bryan – Summertime Blues

Yes, Zach Bryan just released a 34-song album in May called American Heartbreak. Yes, it’s been in one of the top 3 spots on the Billboard Country Albums chart ever since and is one of the biggest releases in country music all year, cementing Zach Bryan as one of the biggest artists in country music at the moment. Yes, Zach Bryan is about to release a whole new 9-song album called Summertime Blues on July 15th. And yes, he’s calling it an “EP,” but at nine songs, it’s as long as most albums these days.

The album includes a couple of songs already familiar to many hardcore Zach Bryan fans. One such track is called “Oklahoma Smoke Show” that he’s been playing live recently, as well as the title track “Summertime Blues,” which no, is not the old Eddie Cochran tune about raising a fuss and a holler that was once covered by Alan Jackson (and countless others). (read more)

The Local Honeys – Self-Titled

Very much a part of the Kentucky-based independent country music revolution, The Local Honeys are releasing this album through La Honda Records, which is also the home of Colter Wall and Vincent Neil Emerson, and it was produced by “The Professor” Jesse Wells of the Tyler Childers backing band, The Food Stamps. Other Food Stamps members also participated, including bass player Craig Burletic. “Who better to record an album that defines your sound than the people who helped you find your sound, the people that understand where you come from, how you listen, and who you are?” says The Local Honeys.

Their sound starts stripped down and rooted in their Kentucky and Appalachia roots, but then is enhanced with electrification when the mood is called for, all spirited forward with exquisite harmonies and a blue collar attitude.

The Broken Spokes – Where I Went Wrong

This album will be your opportunity to onboard with this traditional country outfit from Houston, TX known as one of the hardest working bands in H-town and beyond that brings the classic country goodness to every show. Throwing it back to the 50s, The Broken Spokes fit right in with the Dale Watsons, Wayne “The Train” Hancock’s, and Derailers of the world, while also bringing their own unique spin to Golden Era country songs.

Led by singer and songwriter Brent McLennen, The Broken Spokes are your next favorite authentic Texas honky tonk band, playing all the classic greats, and their own original tunes right beside them. Bring your two-stepping shoes.

Parker Twomey – All This Life

You may have seen this ambitious young man playing in the bands of Vincent Neil Emerson, Paul Cauthen, or Leah Blevins over the last few years. At 21 years of age, he’s now ready to strike out and make a name for himself with his debut album All This Life co-produced by Beau Bedford and and Matt Pence, and featuring contributions from The Texas Gentlemen and the Grand Ole Opry house band.

Originally from Dallas, Parker Twomey’s sound (pronounced too-mee) embodies folk-inspired country, with an emphasis on songwriting and Parker’s distinctive voice. This is a young man you will want to keep an eye on.

Merle Jagger – Trash Taking Guitar

Merle Jagger remains one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated projects in country music. The name says it all. Helmed by the super-talented guitar player and singer Mark Christian, this Southern California country rock project takes the influences of vintage country and classic rock and smashes them together. The new album is produced by Mark Christian himself.

“My vision for ‘Trash Talking Guitars’ was drawn from my love for the country, rock and country/rock sounds of the ‘70s,” Christian says. “It was a time when recording technology and artistic freedom of expression reached an all time high.”

Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters – Heavy Denim

If you’ve been reading Saving Country Music for a while, you’ve probably been mention of Midwest rebels Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters. They’ve definitely been a part of the country music insurgency over the last few years, but don’t expect just another same old, same old released from them with Heavy Denim. Though the songs are still definitively Nick Dittmeier, the sound of this album takes chances, including drum machines, loops, synth beats, and the whole bit.

“In roots and country music, there are a lot of weird, stupid rules,” Dittmeier says. “Unspoken things you just don’t do—or at least they’re frowned upon. I realized that there were blind spots in my development. Maybe I’d constructed them myself, maybe they were just my own perception. But I knew that, while I had some time, I wanted to learn and explore—to apply some new technology to our sound, and to find different ways to play together as a band.”

Well okay then, but we’ll keep an open mind and give it a listen.

Tom Skinner’s Science Project – First Set

Red Dirt pioneer Tom Skinner passed away in 2015, but it was one of his final wishes that his musical collaborators carry on and continue his weekly Wednesday Night showcases that he founded. Longtime Tom Skinner musical partner Don Morris has done just that, and the group is getting ready to release their first album called First Set, dedicated to help preserving the Tom Skinner legacy.

Don Morris is joined in the project by by guitarist Brad James (Medicine Show, Stoney LaRue, Steve Pryor, Brandon Jenkins), drummer Rick Gomez (Reba McIntyre, Roy Clark, Red Dirt Rangers, Jana Jae, Okie Soul, Tweed) and bassist Dylan Layton (Whirligig, Steve Pryor, Brandon Jenkins).


Whitney Lockert – Long Way to California
We Banjo 3 – Open The Road
Bishop Plainview – The Sunburst Fire EP
Acoustic Syndicate – All In Time

and probably more…

Editor’s Note: Wade Sapp’s new album ‘Radio Check’ was originally included on this list, but is being released on July 29th.

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