Just like so many of the characters in today’s popular music space, Jason Isbell has transformed from one of the most universally-revered independent artists of our time, to being reviled by large swaths of the listening population for his active and often ostentatious displays.
In 2015, when Mickey Guyton released her debut single “Better Than You Left Me,” she symbolized hope in the mainstream of country music for a host of reasons. Similar to how we regard artists such as Lainey Wilson and Carly Pearce today, Mickey Guyton was a bright spot.
Chris Stapleton fans were disappointed on Friday (9-4) when hours before he was supposed to take the stage as the Friday night headliner at the three-day BottleRock Festival in Napa Valley, California, he canceled due to an undisclosed illness.
It’s not that Luke Combs is ideal, because he isn’t. Hell, who is? And for many independent fans, he will never compete with the likes of Cody Jinks or Tyler Childers in their hearts. But who would you rather have being the face of mainstream country at the moment?
It is very important to contextualize that Luke Combs has completely scrubbed Confederate flags from his image, and for many years now—a critically important point not relayed by Margo Price’s tweet. If nothing else, this should exonerate Billy Strings from having to answer for anything.
A once-in-a-lifetime event happened on January 12th, 2019 when a wide-ranging assemblage of talent from country music and beyond came together at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville to pay tribute to Willie Nelson. Called ‘Willie: Life and Songs of an American Outlaw,’ it’s being released on CD and DVD.
Amanda Shires, Blackbird Presents, Bobby Bare, Chris Stapleton, Dave Matthews, Derek Trucks, Don Was, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, George Strait, Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Jimmy Buffett, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Ann Womack, Lukas Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Margo Price, Micah Nelson, Nathaniel Rateliff, Norah Jones and The Little Willies, Ray Benson, Rodney Crowell, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Susan Tedeschi, The Avett Brothers, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Willie: Life and Songs of an American Outlaw
The recipient of the inaugural CMT Equal Play Award has been announced as Jennifer Nettles, known both as a solo performer, and most notably for her work in the country music duo Sugarland. But there is a problem with presenting Jennifer Nettles as a “equal play” advocate.
On Friday evening, October 16th, PBS will air the presentation of the Grammy’s special merit awards for the year’s Lifetime Achievement recipients. The event is capped off with a tribute to John Prine, whose segment runs almost twice as long as any other tribute.
When making the case for the character of someone, it’s not just about how they rise to the top, but what they do when they get there. In the case of Luke Combs, he’s been using his platform and his time off of the road during the pandemic to promote and collaborate with some of the best artists in independent country.
Neither Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, nor The Highwomen collectively have addressed the issue publicly, or directly. We still don’t know why Mickey Guyton felt she was “disinvited” from the shoot, whether it was the fault of “a giant miscommunication” or otherwise.
In a recent op/ed, Guyton spelled out numerous frustrations she’s experienced, but one of the most shocking revelations of the article was not on the systemic racism she’s suffered from in the country music industry, it was how she was snubbed by her fellow women in the genre.
It’s within a contentious environment that Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit deliver ‘Reunions’ to what will be thunderous and virtual universal applause from critics, while many conservative country fans will write him off without a fair listen. But like most things in politics and life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
2019 was a stacked year for top live performances. This was supposed to be a list of the top 10 live performances, but due to such a crowded field, things boiled over. And yes, there are three #1 acts. All should be considered equals at the very top level of live performance. They were all so great, it seemed unfair to put one over the other.
Amanda Shires, Billy Strings, Bri Bagwell, Cedric Burnside, Charles Wesley Godwin, Courtney Marie Andrews, Jack Ingram, Kaitlin Butts, Logan Ledger, Lukas Nelson, MIke and the Moonpies, Raul Malo, Shane Smith and the Saints, Sierra Ferrell, Tami Neilson, The Brother Brothers, The Mavericks, The Tender Things, Tyler Childers, Whitey Morgan and the 78's, Yola
On the day after the CMA Awards, it’s always important to take a deep breath, and remind yourself, “It’s just the CMA’s.” But it does feel important to address what turned out to be the biggest controversy Wednesday night, which was Garth Brooks winning Entertainer of the Year over Carrie Underwood.
Amanda Shires, Ashley McBryde, Brandi Carlile, Carrie Underwood, Charley Pride, CMA Awards, Dolly Parton, Eric Church, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Hootie and the Blowfish, Jenee Fleenor, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire
On NBC’s ‘The Voice’ Monday night (10-28), a contestant named Jake Hoot performed Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” as part of the singing show. Taylor Swift, who was acting as a coach on the episode, even remarked “I love Jason Isbell,” when Jake Hoot said he was covering “Cover Me Up.” It’s more evidence the song has become a standard.
As if answering a distress call sent out over the airwaves or via a spotlight beamed over Music City, the Highwomen have assembled in the form of the Grammy-winning Brandi Carlile, fiddlemaster Amanda Shires, songwriting markswoman Natalie Hemby, and superstar Maren Morris. “Redesigning Women” is their first taste.
Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Cam, Dave Cobb, Erin Rae, Hailey Whitters, Jason Isbell, Jimmy Webb, Lily Hiatt, Lori McKenna, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Natalie Hemby, Natalie Stovall, Raelynn, Ray LaMontagne, Tanya Tucker, The Highwomen, Wynonna Judd
For 32 consecutive years, bluegrass fans, folkies, country freaks and outcasts, and a cast of other cool characters from the roots realm and beyond have bivouacked at various locations around the Austin area under the heading of the Old Settler’s Music Festival. 2019 was the festival’s second season at the now permanent site.
Amanda Shires, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, Brandi Carlile, Del McCoury, James Hunter Six, Jason Isbell, John Calvin Abney, Kelvin Damrell, Old Settler's Fest, Paul Cauthen, Penny and Sparrow, Robert Ellis, Samantha Fish, Shinyribs, The Lone Bellow
Though some Jason Isbell fans may have balked at the idea of not getting the full, roaring version of The 400 Unit live, at the 32nd Annual Old Settler’s Fest, it seemed even more appropriate than the electric alternative. It gave fans of Jason Isbell and his band an opportunity to see them in a way few have.
If come July you’ll be looking to get out of the summer heat, and don’t mind trekking to darn near the Canadian border, the inaugural Under The Big Sky Festival has assembled a pretty impressive lineup that includes Dwight Yoakam, Cody Jinks, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Amanda Shires, Nikki Lane, and more.
It’s both weird that fellow Texans and country legends Willie Nelson and George Strait have never collaborated together or even performed side by side in their illustrious careers, and yet it also makes perfect sense. But it was bound to happen eventually that the two would sing together.
Amanda Shires, Bubba Strait, Buddy Cannon, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, George Strait, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Margo Price, Ray Benson, Sing One With Willie, Sturgill Simpson, The Avett Brothers, Willie Nelson
A new country music supergroup is on the way that will combine the talents of Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, and Margo Price. Called the Highwomen, it will take inspiration from legendary country music supergroup The Highwaymen. Jim Lauderdale is also involved in the project as a co-writer.
Southern rock gods Blackberry Smoke have just added even more dates to an already-stacked 2019 tour schedule, but these come with an interesting wrinkle. Piggy backing off of the release of their Southern Ground Sessions EP, they’ll be playing a series of acoustic-only shows.
The 10th annual 30A Songwriters Festival set for January 18-21, 2019 in Walton County, Florida will take on extra significance this year, and not just because it’s the event’s 10th Anniversary. Located in the Florida Panhandle, and just west of where the devastating Hurricane Michael made landfall in October.
30A Songwriters Festival, Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Justin Townes Earle, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Radney Foster, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, The Secret Sisters, The War and Treaty
Live records can often be a wild card when it comes to sales, but Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s “Live From The Ryman” has proven to be a hit. The successful debut also comes as Jason Isbell just wrapped up another sold-out six night run at the Ryman Auditorium October 22nd through the 28th.