When it comes to top-tier releases in the country and roots realm, 2019 was a year like we’ve never seen before. Though it feels like we say that every year, 2019 truly was exceptional. The albums selected to be considered for Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year are so elite, all of them should be considered the winners.
Leading off the latest additions to the Saving Country Music Top 25 playlist is long-time underground honky tonker and survivor Johnny Falstaff with his latest single “Move A Mountain.” Though not tied to a proper album release just yet, it’s a good introduction to this under-the-radar artist who’s been paying dues.
It’s a Texas invasion at the very top of the country music albums charts this week as an oldtimer, an independent maverick, and an upstart troublemaker all from the Lone Star State have pushed the powers that be in pop country down the ladder, and come in at #1, #2, and #3 respectively in album sales.
A few choice cuts have just been added to the Saving Country Music Top 25 Playlist meant to keep you up-to-date with latest songs and albums that should be on your listening radar. Leading the pack is the unexpected, yet very welcome return of Sturgill Simpson to the traditional country realm with his song “The Dead Don’t Die.”
‘Red Bandana’ is anything but typical, for Aaron Watson or anyone else. When Watson says this is his most involved and personal work that he rates at the top of the heap, believe him. When others say they’re shocked or ecstatic about how good this record is, take their word for it. With Red Bandana, Aaron Watson defies his own odds.
The boys from Tahlequah, Oklahoma known as the Turnpike Troubadours traveled down to Houston on Saturday (3-2) to take advantage of their first ever berth on the biggest stage in Texas—the star-shaped one in the center of the NRG Stadium as part of the annual Rodeo Houston production.
2019 is here ladies and gentlemen, and soon your ears will have a fresh new bounty of new releases in the country, roots, and Americana world to feast upon. In such a crowded landscape and with so many releases to choose from, having a road map certainly helps. So in that spirit, here are Saving Country Music’s top picks.
Aaron Watson, Alice Wallace, Charles Wesley Godwin, Cody Johnson, Dale Watson, Flatland Cavalry, George Strait, Hayes Carll, Joshua Ray Walker, Randy Houser, Ray Charles, Ryan Bingham, The Cactus Blossoms, The Steel Woods, Yola
Usually Christmas music gets shoved to the back burner around these parts, but this year there is such a surprising amount of quality selections of Holiday music being released, it’s worth a dedicated roundup. So if Christmas music is your thing—especially with a country or roots kick—give a gander to what 2018’s got in store.
Aaron Watson, Ana Christina Cash, Brennen Leigh, Chris Janson, Christmas, Dailey & Vincent, Emi Sunshine, Grant Maloy Smith, JD McPherson, Jeff Clayborn, Jerico Woods, Kacey Musgraves, Lera Lynn, Lonestar, Mary Karr, Otis Gibbs, Paul Bogart, Phil Vasser, Raul Malo, Rhyan Sinclair, Rodney Crowell, Shane Owens, The Mavericks, The McCrary Sisters
The only thing better than basking in the greatness of Gruene Hall on any given day or night, is basking in its greatness at Christmastime. As the oldest active historic dance hall in Texas surrounded by the old town square of Gruene, it already has a Dickens-esque feel to it, but of course with a distinctly Texas flavor.
Carly Pearce gives one true hope for the future of women on country radio as her debut single “Every Little Thing” hits #1 on the radio charts this week. And the success Aaron Watson continues to have with his song “Outta Style” doesn’t stop, which was unthinkable from a truly independent artist in previous years.
The Turnpike Troubadours have just crashed the mainstream party at the top of the Billboard Country Albums chart with the release of their latest record, ‘A Long Way From Your Heart.’ Signed to Thirty Tigers, and with little help from radio beyond regional play, they continue to show what quality music and grassroots efforts can result in.
In recent years, concerts at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville have become an important bellwether for just how well a band or artist is doing in the grander scheme. Trying to fill the 125-year-old landmark with its 2,362-seat capacity is one of the biggest tests a country music artist can take.
Sometimes the effort to save country music feels like one step forward, two steps back. Last week at this time we were all gaga over the fact that Chris Stapleton’s stripped-down new single “Either Way” was the most added single at country radio and debuted at a surprisingly #26 on the charts, but “Either Way” took a proverbial dive during its second week.
As we continue to ponder what country radio might look like after the impending implosion of iHeartMedia and corporate radio as we know it, some very interesting developments emerged on the country radio charts this week.
Garth Brooks, take your free tickets to the Auditorium Shores stage and your Frito bags with your damn brand on them, and go back to Oklahoma and roll around naked in your massive, massive piles of money. You don’t belong at South By Southwest.
If you want to appreciate just how far independent Texas country artist Aaron Watson has come with his career, take a moment to reflect that in 2017, he was asked to play the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo—the same big stage that Willie Nelson, and even big pop country names like Rascal Flatts and Dierks Bentley played this year.
Aaron Watson is an optimist, and a pragmatist. And though a swath of independent and traditional country fans tend to find themselves generally turned off by these things—only identifying with country music that breaks the heart—Aaron Watson is adhering to the very first rule of independent and traditional country: be authentic to yourself.
Call it cautious or guarded optimism, but after the abomination that was the 2016 Houston Rodeo musical lineup led by folks such as Luke Bryan, Pitbull, and Florida Georgia Line, and where only one artist with Texas ties and only one female performer were booked (and both were Miranda Lambert), they couldn’t go any lower, that’s for sure.
Aaron Watson, Bri Bagwell, Cameran Nelson, Chris Stapleton, Conno, Curtis Grimes, Darrin Morris Band, Flatland Cavalry, Hoss Mayfield, Houston Rodeo, Jason James, John Baumann, Josh Ward, Max Stalling, MIke and the Moonpies, No Dry County, Randy Brown, Texas Renegade, The Strayhearts, Wade Andrew Smith, Willie Nelson, ZZ Top
Just what 2017 has in store for us in the country music department remains to be seen. But we do know about what to expect in the release department for at least the first quarter of the year, while rumors abound about the big projects that could come to light later in 2017. Here’s a run down of what we know, what we think we know, and what we would like to believe.
Aaron Watson, Ags Connolly, Alison Krauss, Casey James Prestwood, Charlie Worsham, Chris Knight, Chris Stapleton, Colter Wall, Curtis McMurtry, Dale Watson, Dan Auerbach, Dave Cobb, George Jones, Guy Clark, Holly Williams, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Jaime Wyatt, Jason Isbell, JB Beverley, Justin Townes Earle, Marty Stuart, MOderna Mal, Nikki Lane, Old Crow Medicine Show, Otis Gibbs, Phoebe Hunt, Ray Benson, Ray Scott, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Rhiannon Giddens, Robbie Fulks, Scott H. Biram, Shinyribs, Son Volt, Steve Earle, Sunny Sweeney, The Gibson Brothers, The Sadies, The Secret Sisters, Tift Merritt, Valerie June, Whitney Rose
“‘Vaquero,’ which means the ‘original cowboy,’ is an intensely reflective and personal set of songs filled with compelling narratives,” says the Aaron Watson team in an announcement. “Throughout, he depicts stories of a rugged people, humble but hardworking, like himself. He puts a playful spin on an insider’s view on the Texan way of life.
What’s going “outta style” is Bro-Country and songs that chase trends, while traditional country has once again proved to be the timeless influence in country music that always comes back to the forefront. This should bode well for an artist like Aaron Watson if he sticks to what he does best.
In January of 2016, Saving Country Music published an article explaining how 2016 Could Be 1975 All Over Again in country music—how an upsurge in more traditional and substantive talent and music could really take hold in country, from the independent realm to the mainstream. And that is exactly what we’ve seen as 2016 has progressed.
This is not another article about Chris Stapleton. This is an article about mainstream American country music radio. Yes, Chris Stapleton won big, again. But Chris Stapleton’s impact still remains paltry on mainstream country radio. The question is, will country radio listen? Or will country radio be left with anybody listening to it?