Willie Nelson is in many ways a microcosm of the American experience. He grew up during The Depression, had a rough and tumble youth, battled through familial and financial problems for years, struck it rich, and reformed himself from his violent past to become one of the world’s most well-known and greatest pacifists and advocates for the poor and social justice.
To have Alan Jackson—3-time CMA Entertainer of the Year winner, and a man that has sold more than 60 million records worldwide—release a straightforward, traditional bluegrass album with no caveats, no tangents, simply straight ahead acoustic instrumentation in a traditional style, is a feat and a victory all on its own. And the music ain’t too bad either.
With 34 CMA Awards, over 20 Grammys, and and some 80 million records sold between the two, they both have seen their share of overwhelming commercial success, public notoriety, and peer recognition. But over the last few years the writing has been on the wall that their time has come, and their days of widespread radio play and big awards are over. And so what did these two men do?
Alabama, Alan Jackson, Bakersfiled, Bill Monroe, Brooks & Dunn, Buck Owens, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Kenny Chesney, Kenny Rogers, Kid Rock, Merle Haggard, Paul Franklin, Ronnie Dunn, Sheryl Crow, The Bluegrass Album, The Dillards, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
The American Trilogy era from Mickey Newbury’s body of work has become an absolute wellspring of musical material for other artists, and one that helped lay the groundwork for country music’s Outlaw era. A somewhat reclusive character, the case could be made that Mickey Newbury was one of the very first, if not the first true American country music “Outlaw.”
It’s not that JD McPherson does anything different than many other artists have done before him. It’s just that he does it better. Good music will always be relevant, and JD McPherson is living proof of this. A strict revivalist of the 1950’s rock & roll blues, his music has branched out and burrowed into the consciousness of many folks not regularly susceptible to the pull of a straight-laced throwback rock & roll show.
Many of the bold changes in the direction of popular music begin with artists that are too fey, too polarizing to become popular themselves. So it takes others who understand how to soften music with sensibilities to make it accessible to the masses, and hopefully, if time is on their side, transect the popularity timeline, resulting in superstardom.
.357 String Band, Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Flatt & Scruggs, Foghorn Stringband, Goddamn Gallows, Jimmy Martin, Ketch Secor, Larry & His Flask, Marcus Mumford, Mumford & Sons, O Brother Where Art Thou, Old Crow Medicine Show, Ralph Stanley, Split Lip Rayfield, The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, The Devil Makes Three, The Hackensaw Boys, Trampled by Turtles, Wayne Hancock
The fight for the purity of country music is almost as old as the genre itself. The conflict between pop and traditionalism, and the fight for creative control for artists runs like a thread throughout country music’s history, defining it as much as the twang of a Telecaster, or the moan of a steel guitar. Here are some of the most iconic images of country music revolution, and the stories behind them.
Andy Gibson, Bill Monroe, Billy Joe Shaver, Buck Owens, burning envelope, Charlie Rich, Dripping Springs Reunion, Earl Scruggs, flipping the bird, Hank3, Hillbilly Central, Joe Buck, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, middle finger, Reinstate Hank, Roger Miller, The Grand Ole Opry, Tompall Glaser, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
As some of you may already know, I’ve got a good friend named Pointer, and every year we get together for an annual trip to downtown Nashville around Labor Day. Pointer and I are great friends and we both love country music, but we couldn’t be on more opposite sides of the country music spectrum. Pointer loves to have his picture taken in front of things.
If your looking for that one bluegrass ensemble that is defining our generation’s take on the discipline, it’s hard to argue against the Punch Brothers. Though Punch Brothers talk usually trends toward the talent of mandolin maestro Chris Thile, the troupe boasts overarching, rabidly accomplished skill across the front line, and a far superior instrumental adeptness that is undeniable.
Over the weekend the .357 String Band said farewell in the form of a pair of shows in their home state of Wisconsin. Regardless of how obscure they were, along with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, Flatt & Scruggs, and a few others, the .357 String Band was one of the greatest, most groundbreaking, and influential bluegrass bands of all time.
Since the beginning of Saving Country Music over 3 1/2 years ago, nothing but respect has been shown to The Country Music Hall of Fame. It is the last major country music institution that considers the preservation and promotion of the traditions and history of country music above commercial concerns, as other institutions bend and sway with the current popular trends in country music.
Ralph Mooney was the best steel guitar player ever. Period. End of story. And anybody who disagrees with me, I will come to where you are and personally kick your ass. And beyond the steel guitar, he was one of the most important and most influential musicians in country music history. Top 5. Maybe even top 3. Hell, right now I can’t even think of one I would put above him. Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs? Yeah, I would include him in that company.
A couple big bits of news have just oozed out of the deep cracker swap of interior Florida like Jed Clampett’s bubblin’ crude. The first is that up and coming one man band “Lone Wolf”, who was heard first right here on Saving Country Music’s SCM LIVE on Reverend Nix’s “Mojo Medicine Show” has announced his debut album, and Lowebow Fest will be broadcast in its entirety on SCM LIVE!
The Ryman is what lower Broadway revolves around, and it is easy to think that however it goes, so goes lower Broadway. When The Ryman was virtually shuttered in 1974 and The Grand Ole Opry moved to the Opry House, that is when the seeds of the lower Broadway decline were sowed.
Those of you who know me know that I have an affinity for the superpicker sidemen that make good country music great. One of these is Banjer Dan Mazer, who plays with JB Beverly & The Wayward Drifters primarily. Well Banjer Dan needs our help. It all started on Halloween. Apparently Banjer lost sight of […]
Yeah, I know. I’ve been hassling you a lot here lately to ink your John Hancock on all kinds of things, whether it be the Reinstate Hank petition, or the petitions to get Gram Parsons and Johnny Paycheck into the Country Music Hall of Fame. But petitions and movements are one way the Underground and […]
I’ve said it many times before. About the only country music institution you can count on nowadays to honor the old greats and preserve the traditions of REAL country music is The Country Music Hall of Fame. But unfortunately like so many of us they are having financial troubles. I first read about this on […]
Bill Monroe, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Gibson F-5, Gibson L-5, Grand Ole Pory, Hank III, Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr., Johnny Cash, Martin D-35, Maybelle Carter, Outlaw Magazine, Reinstate Hank, Ricky Skaggs, The Country Music Hall of Fame, Twang Nation, Waylon Jennings
He’d Tell ‘Em All To Suck His Dick That line comes from the first song on Damn Right, Rebel Proud , due out Oct. 21st, ‘The Grand Ole Opry’: (if you haven’t heard or seen it before) So who was Jimmy Martin? Well, if you want to read a full bio you can click here […]