Concept albums have been an integral part of country music history, with the release of certain projects completely reshaping the country music paradigm, including in recent memory. Just in case you need an illustration of the breadth and importance of concept albums in country music
Drive By Truckers
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.
AmericanaFest has been officially cancelled for 2020. But the crown jewel of the event—the Americana Music Awards—will move forward at the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, September 16th as scheduled. Nominees in the six respective categories have been announced.
Texas-based Southern rock band Whiskey Myers is set to launch their own personally-curated festival and annual gathering for their fans called the Firewater Festival, and they have just announced the inaugural lineup. The event has been cleared by state and local officials to move forward.
The Tyler Childers set was captured on Pickathon’s legendary Woods Stage in the tall Douglas Fir forest that surrounds the festival grounds the weekend he released his latest album ‘Country Squire.’ Yours truly was standing stage side for the set, and can attest to its quality. Admission is free, but the concert is a MusiCares fundraiser.
Natural Disasters is quite a bit more on the up-tempo and agreeable side from its predecessors in the Matt Woods catalog, but in a good way. Leaning more in the rock direction will cause some to miss the steel guitar and such that has textured his music in the past, but the energy and attitude embedded in the 10 tracks give it power.
Those hungry for some new tunes from Jason Isbell just got a tasty, surprise treat in the form of two previously-unheard studio tracks that precede the reissue of one of Jason Isbell’s back catalog albums. Sirens Of The Ditch was Isbell’s first proper solo studio record, released in 2007 by New West Records.
The small yet mighty, meticulously-curated, and expertly-planned festival just outside of Portland, OR known as Pickathon continues to be the local festival with international implications in how talent presented at the festival is given the possibility to break out onto the national stage.
Not one, not two, but three nominees for Saving Country Music’s 2016 Album of the Year have made the cut for the lineup of the 2017 Pickathon Music Festival just outside of Portland, Oregon in August. And that’s just where the list of distinguished country-oriented artists for the 2017 season starts.
This is one of many accusations from Clyde Isbell, the rarely talked-about identical twin brother of Americana star Jason Isbell, and co-frontman of a local Allman Brothers cover band in Alabama. Saving Country Music tracked down Clyde in a trailer park outside of Muscle Shoals to ask him about his brother’s recent success, and attempt to determine why the lives of the siblings have forked in separate directions.
In the natural world they’re referred to as apex predators and alpha males. They’re the ones that rule the roost and crest the food chain. They’re the specimens of natural design that exhibit the ideal mix of physical abilities and/or favorable disposition to become the creatures all others are measured by.
Say what you want about Eric Church’s music, and though he’s sporting one of the most loyal fan bases in popular music these days, he’s also revealed himself as one of the most polarizing figures in country music in the last few years. But you can’t fault the man for thinking outside the box, and scouring the hungry, unwashed faces of independent music when looking for openers.
As the college football consciousness of the country zoomed in on Arlington, TX and the first official National Championship game ever played at the collegiate level Monday night, Zac Brown Band was tapped as the entertainment for ESPN’s College Gameday presentation leading up to the big game. Zac Brown Band played Jason Isbell’s much-appreciated but fairly obscure song for fallen soldiers.
Near the end of 2013, Saving Country Music rewarded Jason Isbell’s live streaming set on August 13th from the Austin City Limit’s stage as the #2 live event in all of 2013. Now Jason Isbell’s entire Austin City Limits set will be released to DVD on November 24th via Isbell’s Southeastern Records, and will include his entire 15-song performance.
High Cotton: A Tribute To Alabama gets right what so many cover and tribute albums get wrong, including its 2013 counterpart Alabama & Friends. A good tribute album doesn’t just pay tribute to the band or artist. It should be a 50/50 proposition, with the contributing artists also benefiting from the name recognition the tributee affords.
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.
If there is such a thing as a superstar in Americana music, then right now, Jason Isbell is it. What we very well may be witnessing is a songwriting legend in the making. He’s the songwriter that in the future songwriter-philes will hearken back to as proof of how the craft is lost. He’s the guy right now making sure that it isn’t.
Forget all your stuffy old outmoded notions of what Nashville is. Right now Nashville is the center of the music universe in so many more ways than what is represented by the few city blocks of old houses and mini-rise office buildings on Music Row. Right here, right now, Nashville is the place to be for independent music. It’s Haight Ashbury circa 1965. It’s Guy Clark’s kitchen in the movie Heartworn Highways.
With the appeal for roots music on the rise throughout the music landscape, it’s no wonder Southern rock is making a resurgence. Where a few years ago Southern rock seemed to be all about nostalgia and/or rehashing the same old tired twangy rock guitar riffs, the sub-genre now finds itself flush with a new crop of talent bringing creativity and a fresh, more progressive approach to the format.
These songs are tributes to American decay, depravity, excess, and unfairness, with starkly honest lyrics not dulled one bit by subtly, or sullied by the need for explanation or imagination. Burn. Flicker. Die is not an artistic interpretation of American Aquarium’s struggles, it is a Polaroid. You’re supposed to listen to songs, and feel music. With American Aquarium, you do both.
The Shivering Denizens and frontman Ron E. Banner epitomize gonzo-style West Coast country. Not as salacious as Bob Wayne & The Outlaw Carnies, and more solidly country than what the Supersuckers usually serve up during their “country” set, The Shivering Denizens are like Ken Kesey meets Merle Haggard.
Wednesday night (9-12-2012) country music’s mother church The Ryman Auditorium was alive with the sounds of The 2012 Americana Music Awards that saw an always talented, eclectic (and sometimes confusing) flock of musicians, songwriters, and performers amass to give credit to the best and brightest of the year.
Jason Isbell, former member of The Drive By Truckers and current solo artist had his van, trailer, and all contents stolen in Dallas, TX on Saturday afternoon. Jason and his band, The 400 Unit, were in Dallas Friday night, playing the city’s legendary Granada Theater on lower Greenville in support of his latest album Here We Rest.
The propensity of the Drive By Truckers to get political on your ass, and just a general “like but not love” feeling I’ve had for their music over the years means I really don’t have a dog in the race when it comes to the whole Jason Isbell vs. Drive by Truckers tilt that’s been going on since he left the band a few years ago. When I saw him perform many of the songs from Here We Rest live at South by Southwest…