It seemed just about perfect. In hindsight, perhaps it was a little too perfect. The owner of Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway—JesseLee Jones—would purchase one of the oldest operating businesses in Nashville, housed in one of the oldest buildings.
On December 9th, 1996, with his career forgotten and his health failing, Faron Young decided to end his own life. He penned a suicide note specifically enumerating the decline in his career, and how he felt abandoned and forgotten by country music as one of the causes
Robert’s Western World has been home to the Don Kelley Band for a quarter century. Though not as flashy or well-known as some of the other bands that blew up from the Robert’s stage, those who know Robert’s and The Don Kelley band know just how important the band has been to keeping true country alive on Lower Broadway.
BR549, Brazilbilly, Brennen Leigh, Brent Mason, Daniel Donato, David Byrd, Don Kelley, Guthrie Trapp, JD Simo, JesseLee Jones, Johnny Hiland, Joshua Hedley, Paul Cook, Redd Volkaert, Robert's Western World, Sarah Gayle Meech, Sid Hudson, The Don Kelley Band
From his important work with the throwback country outfit BR549, to his long and productive solo career, to numerous causes and enterprises behind-the-scenes few catch wind of, Chuck Mead has on the front lines of helping to save country music for a quarter century. On June 28th, the country throwback will release his fourth album.
Alright, so normally I wouldn’t post some silly, viral video such as this. But it’s Robert’s Western World—one of the last bastions of true country music on Lower Broadway in Nashville. And it’s the Don Kelley Band, which is one of Robert’s and Lower Broadway’s most legendary bands.
Germany’s Bear Family Records is releasing ‘One Long Saturday Night’—a 23-song CD and companion DVD capturing the original lineup of the band at the height of their powers as they perform classic country hits and a handful of originals live for the German TV show Ohne Filter. The CD also includes four tracks from a concert in Japan the band played the week after.
Jon Hensley, an artist manager known for his work with Shooter Jennings and Wanda Jackson, has died. Recently Hensley was best known as the manager and right hand man of Waylon Jenning’s son Shooter Jennings. Along with managing the second-generation performer and regularly traveling with him on the road, Hensley helped to operate and launch Shooter’s record label BCR Media.
One of the last remaining bands that still holds onto that spirit that revitalized Lower Broadway and still plays there on a regular basis is Hillbilly Casino. Nearing their 10-year anniversary, the band that can regularly be seen playing Layla’s Bluegrass Inn has released a live album recorded at the Exit Inn called “Live in the USA.” I spoke to the Hillbilly Casino bass player Geoff Firebaugh about the album and Lower Broadway.
BR549, Brent Mason, Dan Huff, Don Kelley, Greg Garing, Harry Fontana, Hillbilly Casino, Jay McDowell, JD Wilkes, Johnny Hiland, Layla's, lower broadway, Nic Roulette, NIck Curran, Paul Birch, Redd Volkaert, Robert's Western World, Sarah Gayle Meech, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, The Bluegrass Inn, The Don Kelley Band, The Eskimo Brothers, Yelawolf
If you find yourself uttering, “Man, I wish Hank3 would release something new like those first three records,” trust me, you’re not alone. A lot of the neo-traditionalist artists of the late 90’s to mid 2000’s stayed around just long enough to wet our appetites for that by-gone sound only to leave us in the lurch and looking for our next fix of that old, potent stuff.
Ryan Adams was one of the unquestionable leaders of this punk-infused country music conquest, and that is why it was so disconcerting to read recently that apparently he not only does not like country music, but he apparently never has, never really cared about it even when he was playing it, and certainly doesn’t want anything to do with it now.
Of course country music must evolve, just as at times certain buildings must go if they have completely lost their functionality and the cost of preservation is not in accordance with the historic value. But there always has to be that measure, that attention and reverence paid to the past to where we don’t allow unchecked “evolution” to result in remorse of what was lost along the way.
From the wild lands of Wyoming comes a by-gone man with a by-gone sound traveling under the name Luke Bell. With his dog and his 1995 Buick LeSabre, he comes trekking through the fog of obscurity to sing you some good country songs in the old-fashioned way. “Don’t Mind If I Do” harkens back to a time in country music when it didn’t suck, and hadn’t even started to.
Tristen is not a hunter, she’s a gatherer, listening intently to any song or influence regardless of format or era, and eagerly mining the little nuggets of nostalgic, retro gold that allow the warmth of memories to flow freely from the inner mind of listeners to lovingly embellish a song. She then embeds this warmth into her completely original, modern-day compositions resulting in music that is both fresh and hauntingly familiar.
We’ve been saying it all year—right now it is women taking the leadership role in trying help to save country music. But they’re not the only ones, and if you wanted to look for another significant segment of artists doing more help than harm to the genre, there’s no better place to look than north of the border. Here are six Canadian showing the type of creative leadership country music needs.
For many up-and-coming country artists, simply getting to meet their country heroes is thrill enough. Getting the honor of portraying them in a big theatrical production? That is the thrill of a lifetime. Adam Lee of Kansas City’s Adam Lee & The Dead Horse Sound Company is getting that very chance by apprising the role of Johnny Cash in the musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”
If you would’ve told The Avett Brothers back in 2007 when they released their album Emotionalism that in five years, the best-selling album in all of music would be from a roots band playing acoustic instruments and featuring emotional, singer/songwriter material, they’d probably call you crazy. But that is the power one album can have to launch a formidable music career…
“Leavin’ Yesterday” is a brilliantly-written, steadfastly country old school tearjerker that doesn’t relent on the heartaches once in the album’s 13 stellar tracks. Just a glance at song titles like “I’m So Happy I Could Cry” and “That Makes 3 Of Us” lets you know you’re in store for a stone cold and felonious hard country heart stabbing.
By request, here is my list of the greatest underground country albums of all time. The underground country movement started roughly in the mid 90’s on lower Broadway in Nashville that at the time was a run down part of town. Young musicians from around the country, some from punk backgrounds, came together from their mutual love of authentic country music.
.357 String Band, Andy Gibson, Bob Wayne, BR549, Dale Watson, Donnie Herron, Hank Williams, Hank3, Hellbound Glory, Jayke Orvis, JB Beverley, Joe Buck, Justin Townes Earle, Legendary Shack Shakers, Leroy Virgil, Lonesome Wyatt, Lucky Tubb, Rachel Brooke, Slackeye Slim, The Boomswagglers, Those Poor bastards, Wayne Hancock
Over the last few months, and the last few weeks specifically, we have been going through a country music Cambrian Explosion of sorts, with massive, earth-moving events completely re-shaping the style and infrastructure of a genre that has been around for over 70 years. Arguably there’s been more significant events in a short period than any other time in country’s history.
Lower Broadway in Nashville has a new songstress haunting the streets, and she’s a good one. If you want to know how to put out one badass independent/underground country album in Nashville, you could use One Good Thing as a template. With impeccable country taste and instincts, Sarah assembles 12 original and authentic honky-tonk hard country songs for your listening enjoyment.
Amongst all the bustle and big names in 1999, another superlative Austin talent released a debut album a little more quietly. The idea that there’s an amazing, world-class music talent on every corner of Austin, TX is not a myth, and Roger Wallace is a testament to that. But what many of Austin’s legendary local artists don’t have that Roger Wallace does is that one album that withstands the test of time.
Country music songwriting legend and original Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver will be releasing a loaded 20-song CD package with companion DVD called Live at Billy Bob’s Texas on July 17th, recorded in the “World’s Largest Honky Tonk”. This will be Shaver’s first album in five years. Billy Joe Shaver will be the 42nd artist to release a “Live at Billy Bob’s” album.
Billy Bob's Texas, Billy Joe Shaver, Bobby Bare, BR549, David Allan Coe, Elvis Presley, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Anderson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Live at Billy Bob's, Merle Haggard, Patty Loveless, Tex Ritter, The Allman Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
From the outside looking in, one may look at the lineup of The Muddy Roots Festival for example, and wonder how all these bands could all be booked right beside each other and it work seamlessly. This illustrates the dramatic sonic and geographical diversity that goes into creating what we know now as the underground country roots, or “Muddy Roots” world.
.357 String Band, Ben Prestage, Black Diamond Heavies, Bob Wayne, Bobby Bare, BR549, Calamity Cubes, Dale Watson, Deep Blues Festival, Emmylou Harris, Fat Possum Records, Greg Garing, Hank3, JB Beverley, Junior Kimbrough, Justin Townes Earle, Kris Kristofferson, Legendary Shack Shakers, Lone Wolf OMB, Loretta Lynn, Los Duggans, Mike Ness, Muddy Roots Festival, Pickathon, Rachel Brooke, Ramseur Records, Restavrant, Reverend Horton Heat, RL Burnside, Rusty Knuckles, Scott H. Biram, Slackeye Slim, Some Velvet Evening, Split Lip Rayfield, Steve Erale, Supersuckers, t Model Ford, Ten Foot Polecats, The Avett Bros, The Black Keys, The Devil Makes Three, The Everymen, The Goddamn Gallows, The Pine Box Boys, The Ryman, Those Poor bastards, Tompall Glaser, Trampled by Turtles, Waylon Jennings, Wayne Hancock, Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Willie Nelson, Yep Rock
Davy Jay Sparrow from Bloomington, Indiana is not a neo-traditionalist, he’s an ultra-traditionalist. If you don’t like the “Olde Fashioned” country sounds, then turn back now. If you do, the tunes that Davy and His Well Known Famous Drovers throw down on this album are good enough to be considered right beside BR549, Wayne Hancock, and the other overlords of country’s old sounds.