Country music in 2013 feels like the best of times, and the worst of times. While a few top male performers perpetrate untold atrocities on the integrity of the genre, the rise of independent music and infrastructure in the marketplace is now almost to the point where it equals its corporate counterpart. Quality songs and worthy artists are beginning to see more and more support…
In 2013, there is only one music artist who can say they’re officially banned for life from country music’s most storied institution: the Grand Ole Opry. No, it’s not David Allan Coe, Hank Williams III, or some other hothead, firebrand artist quick to call out the Opry and other mainstream country music institutions at any perceived slight. No, the offending party is none other than alt-country luminary Neko Case.
A big battle ground in country music right now is the presence of so many songs about trucks. Though this recent popularity trend seems especially sinister in its simplistic, incessant nature, it is not necessarily unprecedented in country. From the early 60’s into the mid 70’s, songs about semi-trucks and truck drivers were all the rage, with big names like Merle Haggard, Del Reeves, and Buck Owens getting in on the action.
Aaron Tippin, Asleep at the Wheel, Bob Wayne, Buck Owens, C.W. McCall, Commander Cody, Dale Watson, Dave Dudley, Del Reeves, Dick Curless, Jerry Reed, Junior Brown, Merle Haggard, Red Simpson, Red Sovine, Tom T. Hall, truck driving songs, trucker songs, Webb Pierce
Everywhere in the independent music world you’re seeing songwriters who have struggled for years finally starting to get singed to record labels and releasing career-caliber albums. Whereas other sectors of the music industry seem to be gripped by the fear that digitization and streaming may ultimately doom the business of music, talented songwriters are benefiting from the search for the next writer to break out.
Amanda Shires, Ashley Monroe, Austin City Limits, Austin Lucas, Caitlin Rose, Dale Watson, Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves, Pokey LaFarge, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rolling Stones, Shovels & Rope, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sturgill Simpson, Valerie June
Of all the people you could have picked to become an outspoken dissenter to the direction of country music, Rodney Crowell would have been pretty far down the list. Not that he doesn’t have the skins on the wall to say such things and have them carry weight, or that he doesn’t practice what he preaches when it comes to his own approach to music. But he always seemed to be more of a reserved soul.
Welcome to Saving Country Music’s 2013 Pickathon LIVE blog! We will out at Pickathon all weekend, leaving our thoughts, posting pics, and other bits of information from the fest all weekend. Below you can watch a LIVE stream from the festival’s primary stages, but at any given time, multiple performances might be going on, so check below that in the live blog section for other activities transpiring at Pickathon.
Andrew Bird, blog, Caleb Klauder, Cedric Watson, Dale Watson, Devil Makes Three, Foghorn Stringband, JD McPherson, Kev Russell, Pickathon, Review, Shinyribs, Sturgill Simpson, Tift Merritt, Wayne 'The Train' Hancock
the image of the angry face and the raised middle finger has become an iconic symbol of defiance against the direction of country music. As indecent as a raised middle finger happens to be in the first place, and the propensity for some seedy country fans and artists to have it make an appearance in every single photo of them, it has come to mean more than its vulgar connotation in the fight to save country music.
Bob Wayne, Country Music, country music flipping the bird, country music middle finger, Dale Watson, David Allan Coe, flipping the bird, Hank3, Hellbound Glory, Jeff Austin, Jim Marshall, Johnny Cash, Jonny Fritz, Keith Richards, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz, Leroy Virgil, middle finger, Rick Rubin, story of willie nelson middle finger, Willie Nelson, Yonder Mountain String Band
Announced a few days ago, “VIP meet & greet packages” are being offered at many of Shooter’s upcoming appearances, including at the Muddy Roots Festival this late August. What do you get for your $85? A T-shirt, a tote bag, 5 guitar picks (that all grand total will cost Shooter less than $12-$15 wholesale), and this is my favorite one, an “Invitation to pre-show private shopping experience.”
Letterman’s recent run of supporting independent country and roots artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Dale Watson, Shovels & Rope, and many more is not the result of some crack team of publicists and booking agents working together to peddle these artists to the right people, it is coming from David Letterman himself listening to these artists and wanting them to be featured on the show.
Eric Strickland is Country with a capital ‘C’ and couldn’t make a bad album if he tried. He may be more locally-oriented than the other big names in honky tonk music, but gives up nothing to his more well-known comrades when it comes to cutting songs and records. Eric Strickland and The ‘B’ Sides are doing their part to save country music. Now it’s time to do your part by giving them your ear and attention.
This Saturday, April 20th is the 2013 installment of Record Store Day. 2013 has some juicy releases, including some super rare Willie Nelson demo sessions, a split with Waylon Jennings and the Old 97’s, some cool live albums from Gram Parsons and Sarah Jarosz, and a re-issue of Justin Townes Earle’s first album, the Yuma EP.
2013, Aljeandro Escovedo, Avett Brothers, Blitzen Trapper, Calexico, Charlie Poole, Chet Atkins, Chris Scruggs, Dale Watson, Elizabeth Cook, Gram Parsons, Jason Isbell, JD McPherson, Justin Townes Earle, Kacey Chambers, Mike Cooley, Mumford & Sons, Old 97's, Patty Griffin, Randy Travis, Record Store Day, Richard Thompson, Sarah Jarosz, Shane Nicholson, The Band, Tift Merritt, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Yoner Mountain String Band
Interstate 35 runs like a zipper down the gut of Texas, and acts like an unofficial border where the American South meets the West. The highway is also a musical corridor, being the main conduit in and out of Austin, TX, aka the “Live Music Capitol of the World.” Up and down that ribbon of I-35 are places that have been regaled in song by the musicians who’ve passed by them or had memorable experiences there.
Dale Watson has been throwing around his “Ameripolitan” term for years, but Dale is now working to organize behind the name. The main idea behind Dale’s Ameripolitan at the moment is the formation of an Ameripolitan awards show that would transpire in February 2014 in Austin, TX. The awards would be voted on by three divisions: 1) Fans. 2) Industry. 3) 100 Ameripolitan “captains.”
Ameripolitan, Ameripolitan Music Awards, Charley Pride, Charlie Rich, countrypolitan, Dale Watson, Kris Kristofferson, Shooter Jennings, The Baksersfield Sound, The Nashviile Sound, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, XXX
“Country must evolve” is the way it is sold to the country music public when pop and hip-hop influences are invited into the country music fold. What these folks fail to point out is that country has been trying to evolve for 30 some odd years right under their noses. Are you looking for true progress and evolution in country music? Look no further than this list of women.
Abigail Washburn, Amanda Shires, Anderson Family Bluegrass, Asleep at the Wheel, Be Good Tanya's, Bela Fleck, Brandi Carlile, Caitlin Rose, Dale Watson, First Aid Kit, Hank Williams, Jolie Holland, Kacey Musgraves, Kasey Chambers, Liz Rose, Neko Case, Paige Anderson, Rachel Brooke, Rounder Records, Ruby Jane, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, The Beach Boys, The Carter Family, The Trishas, Tom Waits, Uncle Earl, Willie Nelson
Bred for dancing, El Rancho Azul is taken straight out of the honky tonks Dale Watson plays 8 nights a week while home in Austin. Drinking and heartache are the prevailing themes, and maybe not just because this is a country album, but because Dale just recently went through a divorce himself. Dale’s supple country drawl delivered with breadth, emotion and control breathe new life into old, familiar narratives.
For years fans of Dale Watson have been anticipating an album release from a Dale’s alter ego called “Dalevis,” a mix of Dale and Elvis. Well friends and neighbors, the wait is over. Dalevis is now officially available digitally, with physical copies to be made available in mid February. It includes 12 new songs recorded at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis.
The reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year and reality TV personality Blake Shelton made some disparaging remarks about traditional country fans in a recent interview with GAC as part of their Backstory series. “Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, “My God, that ain’t country!” Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass.”
Anti-Nashville, anti-Music Row, and anti-pop country songs have a long and proud tradition in country music that stretches almost all the way back to the beginning of the genre. As long as there’s been country music, there’s been folks arguing about how to define it, what it should sound like, and speaking out when they think it’s going in the wrong direction.
2013 is already shaping up to be an excellent year for real country music, with some of the heavy hitters slating new releases before we even hit Easter. Just announced, Dale Watson and his Lone Stars have a brand new album titled El Rancho Azul to be released January 29th through Red House Records, featured 14 original songs and being touted as his “honkiest tonkiest” album yet of his 21-album career.
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
These honky tonk albums are hard ones to make in 2012. Everyone else in country is trying to carve their niche, bending and blending genres and doing any manner of outlandish things to get folks to pay attention to them in a glutted music world. Meanwhile the charge of the honky tonk musician is to keep the traditions alive through purity.
I have been struggling to write this article for almost two years, but have been putting it off because there’s some hard things to say, and I didn’t want to “talk down” a movement that was already trying to deal with pretty alarming trends. But I think that especially now, zooming out and trying to be honest and critical in a constructive way is important, because there is positively no doubt that underground country is dying.
.357 String Band, Bob Wayne, Dale Watson, Hank3, Hellbound Glory, Larry & His Flask, Leroy Virgil, Muddy Roots, Pickathon, Rachel Brooke, Reinstate Hank, Reverend Horton Heat, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Shooter Jennings, Sturgill Simpson, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, The Goddamn Gallows, Those Poor bastards, Underground country, unknown hinson
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.
Like most fictional characters in popular culture, the characters of ABC’s new drama Nashville are probably based more on stereotypes than real-life folks. But for fun, let’s see if we can’t match up who the real-life inspiration is for the principals of the Nashville cast, and through the experiment see if the show really does represent all aspects of the Nashville music scene.
Caitlin Rose, Characters based on, Connie Britton, Dale Watson, David Rawlings, Hayden Panettiere, Juliette Barnes, Justin Townes Earle, Martina McBride, Mike Curb, Nashville, Nashville TV Show, Rayna Jaymes, Reba McEntire, Ryan Adams, Scott Borchetta, Taylor Swift