The biggest takeaway from SXSW 2017 will be that for the first time since the very inception of the idea over 30 years ago, the annual music gathering experienced a palpable draw down in attendance and industry participation to a degree that it fundamentally changed many of the dynamics and rigors one must endure to attend.
For most artists, their careers start off by driving around in vans to club shows across the country, and if they’re lucky perhaps they graduate to a bus sometime down the road. Most artists start by making some noise in their home state, and then maybe hope to garner the attention of a national audience. For Sunny Sweeney, the arc has been nearly the opposite.
You only have to pay mild attention to Miranda Lambert’s music career to know her support of true American songwriters is far from skin deep. Her latest record The Weight of These Wings has a monster list of contributing songwriters, and she’s been known to get a wild hair and drive for miles to see someone like John Moreland play a dive bar.
For those fed up with the political system, scared to vote either way for two of the most unlikable Presidential candidates in recent memory, voting with trepidation, not voting in spite, or just plain wanting this whole election thing to end and hoping that somehow the United States can find a modicum of healing after it is all over…
Brennen Leigh, Canned Heat, Hayes Carll, Hellbound Glory, Jackson Taylor and the Sinners, Kinky Friedman, Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires, Leroy Virgil, Merle Haggard, Peter Dawson, Ronnie Dunn, Sunny Sweeney, Tom Waits, Waylon Jennings
Any of these songwriters would be worth braving a cold winter’s night to see individually, but luckily they have made it easy on us all by banding together and announcing the Hard Candy Christmas Tour scheduled to transpire in December through Texas and the Midwest. If you’ve always wanted to see one or all of them, this would be your opportunity.
Right now, Texas and Oklahoma is being robbed of its female talent from Nashville and the two coasts. And these women are regularly sucked up into a system that absconds with their creative freedom, sexualizes their image, and drops them unceremoniously whenever their commercial viability is perceived to be spent.
American Aquarium, Aubrie Sellers, Billy Joe Shaver, Brennen Leigh, Bri Bagwell, Courtney Patton, Hot Club of Cowtown, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Ann Womack, Maren Morris, Medicine Stone, Miranda Lambert, Randy Rogers Band, Ryan Engleman, Samantha Crain, Shane Smith and the Saints, Sister C, Stoney LaRue, Sunny Sweeney, The Quebe Sisters, Turnpike Troubadours
We’ve all heard of the “Class of ’89” in country music, right? That was the year that Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and others came to power. Well have you ever heard of the “Class of ’87”? That was the year Todd Snider, James McMurtry, Bruce Robison, Hal Ketchum, and Terri Hendrix all played regularly at an old wooden music venue in San Marcos, Texas called the Cheatham Street Warehouse.
Brennen Leigh, Bruce Robison, Cheatham Street Warehouse, Dreamer, Hal Ketchum, James McMurtry, Kent Finlay, Owen Temple, Randy Rogers, Randy Rogers Band, Slaid Cleaves, Terri Hendrix, Todd Snider, William Clark Green
Being willing to go where a song takes you is the challenge in the heart of every music lover. Hopefully one of these songs released in 2015 will take you some place you want to be, or somewhere you’ve never been before. These songs were selected on their own merit, not from the strength of the artist or album from where they came.
Brennen Leigh, Cody Jinks, Dawes, Eric Church, Eric Paslay, Evan Felker, James McMurtry, JB Beverley, John Moreland, Justin Townes Earle, Kacey Musgraves, Love and Theft, Mo Pitney, Randy Rogers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sunny Sweeney, Turnpike Troubadours, Wade Bowen
Tribute records, just like compilations and live recordings, can be a tough sell and a tedious listen. However, by smartly selecting songs that are worthy of being heard again, but are not the obvious “Greatest Hits” of Lefty’s legacy, Brennen avoids the common pitfall of tribute records. And making her renditions that much more compelling and unique is the fact that she’s a woman singing these songs.
Brennen Leigh, Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzell, Brian Kremer, Cris Burns, Jenn Miori, Lee Ann Womack, Lefty Frizzell, Lisa Pankratz, Noel McKay, Review, Roger Wallace, Rosie and the Ramblers, Selena Rosenblam, Sunny Sweeney, T Jerrod Bonta, The Carper Family
You can’t get away from the political divisiveness these days, and the issue only promises to get worse as the United States Presidential election proper looms large in the not so distant future. But that’s what’s so great about music. It’s a world away from the rancor of political discord. Or as Brennen Leigh and Sunny Sweeney say, “A love of country music conquers all.”
You can’t look anywhere in the Austin independent country scene without seeing Brennen Leigh’s name. If she’s not fronting her own band, she’s playing in any number of other projects as a side musician. Or she’s in the studio singing harmonies or recording guitar tracks, or contributing a song to someone else’s project like she recently did to Lee Ann Womack’s “The Way I’m Livin'” album.
Antique Persuasion, Beth Chrisman, Brennen Leigh, Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzell, Chris Scruggs, Cris Burns, Lee Ann Womack, Noel McKay, Sunny Sweeny, T Jerrod Bonta, Teri Joyce, The Carper Family
When Lee Ann Womack set out to construct her 2014 album The Way I’m Livin’, she went looking for songs that weren’t written by committee as is the norm in Nashville these days, but songs that originated from one person going through a human experience who then shared that experience through song. Such a search if it was to be thorough and prudent would almost invariably involve Chris Knight.
This isn’t just your average album release, or even your average album release from Lee Ann Womack. This one has a little more special meaning for Womack since it is her first release without a major label, and a release that helps rate of progress for both women and traditional country artists looking to revitalize their place to a wider audience.
Brennen Leigh, Bruce Robison, Chris Knight, Eli Young Band, Emmylou Harris, Frank Liddell, Hayes Carll, Julie Miller, Lee Ann Womack, Mando Saenz, Miranda Lambert, Nash Icons, Review, Sugar Hill Records, The Way I'm Livin'
When you sit down to assemble a list of candidates for Song of the Year, you almost start to tremble in the face of so much creativity, inspiration, and insight, and grow humbled by how fortunate we are to live in such a bountiful time for music. Candidates for Song of the Year can’t just be songs we enjoy, they are songs that make you change the way you see the world, or change the way you see yourself.
2013, Adam Hood, Alone In Memphis, Ashley Monroe, Austin Lucas, best songs, Brandy Clark, Brennen Leigh, Brian Keane, Caitlin Rose, Charlie Robison, Deadman's Blues, Disappear On Down The Line, Drinkin', El Camino, Elephant, Hank3, Holly Williams, I'll Sing About Mine, Jason Isbell, JB Beverley, John Moreland, Josh Abbott Band, Lindi Ortega, Matt Woods, Noel McKay, Shane McAnally, Song of the Year, Stripes, Sturgill Simpson, Tin Star, Valerie June, Wade Bowen Songs About Trucks
Gone are the days of the legendary duet pairings in country music like George and Tammy, Loretta and Conway, but the Austin country scene’s power couple of Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay have revitalized the country duet concept album in a smart, brilliant, hilarious, and sweet offering called Before The World Was Made.
“Take It And Break It” affords nine new original tracks from Rondeau, and is produced by R.S. Field who has previously worked with folks like Billy Joe Shaver and Hayes Carll, and produced Justin Townes Earle’s first two LP’s. This album has a great spirit and is a worthy receptacle for these original songs that now get to go out into the world and find inviting hearts.
Austin, Beth Chrisman, Billy Joe Shaver, Brennen Leigh, Hayes Carll, Hole in The Wall, Jim Stringer, Justin Townes Earle, Leo Rondeau, MIke and the Moonpies, RS Field, Take It And Break It, The Carper Family, Tom Petty
The Carper Family is at it again with a brand new album called Old-Fashioned Gal, and it’s a family affair featuring The Carper Family troika of Melissa Carper, Beth Crisman, and Jenn Miori, right beside some of the brightest talents of Austin, TX’s old-school country scene. The Carper Family girls can shift from Western Swing, old-school country, folk, covers and originals, embellishing it all with exquisite three-part harmony.
I remember a few years ago I was at the Hole in the Wall bar in Austin, TX, right by the UT campus, watching songwriting couple Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay performing. Brennen Leigh told the crowd that right after the show, her and Noel had to drive to Nashville, and how she was dreading the trip. “But then Noel reminded me that since we’re going north, we get to stop in West for kolaches, and so now I’m super excited.”
The Carper Family illustrates the unfair, unreasonable amount of talent, and specifically female talent, that can be found in Austin, TX on any given night. And that is what The Carper Family does; they are a working, local band, playing many nights a week at various Austin venues. Back When proves that this local band deserves more national, and international attention.