Can you imagine having the #1 song on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for the last six months—something Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, George Strait, and Kenny Chesney never came close to doing—and not even knowing about the massive present-day pop country band you collaborated with to pull it off?
Jason Aldean’s country-rap breakthrough hit “Dirt Road Anthem” is climbing the charts, and after the recent release of the video and his performance with Ludacris at the CMT Awards, I suspect it will remain in the Top 10, if not take one of the top tier spots very soon. So I thought it might be fun to peel the skin back and see what this puppy is made of.
As hard as I am on albums and artists, I am double hard on songs. An album can have it’s low points, a song can’t. And just like with the Best 2011 Albums So Far, the songs so far in 2011 present a weak field. But there a few good ones worth noting from Jason Isbell, James Hunnicutt, Jimbo Mathus, Amanda Shires, Austin Lucas, and Rachel Brooke.
We sit at the crossroads of the great technology paradigm. For all the music problems technology solved for artists and fans, it is now creating new ones, principally an astronomical glut in the sheer volume of music being produced, and then marketed specifically for commercial consumption on a global scale. The enjoyability of music depends on its place as a minority in the collective talents of human society.
Great songs are able to have universal appeal by the message of the song morphing to fit one’s unique life experience. In “Ghost Bird”, this isn’t just an attribute of the song, it is the foundation the song is built from. “Ghost Bird” is a progressive, new-school country roots-based song that starts with an ambient music bed, similar to how the songs on Emmylou Harris’s album Wrecking Ball are constructed.
Well, we’ve just about reached the half way point of 2011, and let me level with you folks, so far this has been a down year for music. Yes, there’s been a few good projects and some surprises as well, but generally speaking it’s been pretty bleak compared to 2010, which was such a bumper year for music.
That’s right my friends, royalty will be gracing the Muddy Roots Festival stage in Cookeville TN on September 3rd & 4th. And when I say “gracing”, I don’t know that there has ever been another to rock with such grace than the Queen of Rockabilly herself, Wanda Jackson. Few artists can still call themselves relevant and engaging over 50 years after their career started. Even fewer can say they once dumped the King of Rock n’ Roll.
With Kid Rock hosting the CMT Awards, with country rapper Colt Ford performing, and with Jason Aldean and Ludacris closing the show out with a rap song, you can make the case that 15%-20% of the 2011 CMT Awards was either rap or rap inspired. I expect those percentages to increase until the number gets to 50%. Then the mono-genre will be fully realized, and the death of contrast will be complete.
The “Dirty Old One Man Band” from Austin, TX Scott H. Biram has a new album entitled “Bad Ingredients” slated to come out in October. Biram, who is currently on tour through the Midwest, relayed the new album info in a recent interview. Biram talked about many things, including his mix of country, blues, and rock influences, and how his legendary tussle with an 18-wheeler helped his career.
The king of Juke Joint Swing Wayne “The Train” Hancock has just canceled a slew of concert dates in July and August, and is entering rehab according to his record label Bloodshot Records. Saving Country Music would like to extend its thoughts to Wayne Hancock, his family, band, and friends. Like we always say no matter the drama, THE TRAIN WILL ROLL ON!
Confederate Buddha is yet another exercise in what Jimbo Mathus does best: Delving auspiciously into various styles of classic American music, while blurring the lines between them and injecting his deep-rooted Mississippi blood. It continues and perpetuates the music mythos of Mathus as a genuine student and steward of American roots music, and a Mississippi and National treasure.
This week the music world was agog that Lady Gaga topped the charts with her latest album Born This Way selling over 1 million copies. But I was neither shocked nor appalled that Lady Gaga made #1. What blew my mind was to see the post-contract Hank III release from Curb Records called Hillbilly Joker crest #10 of the Billboard country charts last week.
When you look at the Arab Spring going on right now in the Middle East, it’s hard not to trivialize problems such as the current financial state of the American music industry or the creative freedom of its artists. However it’s not hard to draw parallels between the two as well: repressive regimes unwilling to contemporize continue or escalate the same heavy-handed oligarchical systems…