A legend of country music songwriting, and one that put the painful experience of divorce into words and song like none other has gone to the great honky tonk in the sky. Sanger D. Shafer, known popularly as Whitey Shafer, passed away on Saturday, January 12th according to reports.
There’s just something about certain artists and songs where it only takes a few seconds into a track before a smile cracks across your face, and you immediately know, “This is what I mean when I say country music.” Many had that feeling when they feasted their ears on the self-titled, full-length debut from Texas country artist Randall King.
Kayla Ray has deep Texas roots and comes by her classic country music sensibilities honestly. On Friday (5-4) she releases her sophomore album entitled ‘Yesterday and Me.’ Jason Eady is back as co-producer with Pat Manske. Kayla was kind enough to spare a little time to talk about her new project.
Brennen Leigh, Colton Hawkins, Courtney Patton, Drew Kennedy, Erin Enderlin, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jason Eady, Johnny Gimble, Kayla Ray, Keith Whitley, Merle Haggard, Midnight River Choir, Noel McKay, Pat Manske, Yesterday and Me
Once again as spring nears, it becomes time for the annual exercise to ponder who perhaps the CMA will deem worthy for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. About this time the secret CMA-approved committee is going over their final ballots and whittling down the precious names to the few who will make it.
Country Music Hall of Fame, David Allan Coe, Dottie West, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams Jr. Dwight Yoakam, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Paycheck, Keith Whitley, Kenny Chesney, Lynn Anderson, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Travis Tritt. Brooks & Dunn
“I really don’t even know what current country music is anymore. I am as flabbergasted as anyone and have no idea what is country and what is not anymore. I am not a fan of country today. Today’s country can’t be differentiated between pop, and you can’t tell them apart. If you are going to be in the country category and call yourself a country artist, then stick with it.”
It’s always worth a chuckle when you hear someone say that country music must “evolve” to stay relevant, or hear an artist bellyache about how constricting country music is to their creativity. And then you put on a record like this and hear just how much a true artist can do with a simple message and melody, and three chords and the truth.
Courtney Granger delivers a surprising, touching, well-rounded, and frankly stunning performance of classic country tunes made anew by the power and passion behind his voice. Courtney Granger is Cajun music royalty. The grandnephew of the formidable Balfa Brothers, Courtney grew up surrounded by the music of Southern Louisiana, and currently performs in the Pine Leaf Boys.
Bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley, who passed away on June 23rd, was laid to rest Tuesday evening (6-28) after a public service that included words and performances from Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Jim Lauderdale, Ricky Skaggs, and other close friends and well-known performers in front of the crowd assembled at the Hills of Home Park in Coeburn, VA.
As we get to mid February each year, it comes down to nut cutting time for deciding who the next class of inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame will be. Though who gets to decide is a big secret kept by the Country Music Association, or CMA, we all should feel like we have a say so and voice our opinions and hope the right people listen.
Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Chet Flippo, Country Music Hall of Fame, David Allan Coe, Don Maddox, Gram Parson, Hank Williams Jr., Jerry Lee Lewis, Jerry Reed, John Hartford, Johnny Paycheck, Keith Whitley, Kenny Chesney, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Tompall Glaser
So what’s to learn from hitching a ride in Marty McFly’s time machine and traveling back to 1985? That the problems country music is facing today are virtually the same ones that were being faced 30 years ago. It’s all cyclical, as canonized in the old Gospel tune enshrined in the architecture of the Country Music Hall of Fame asking the question, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?”
Alan Jackson, Bill Carter, Bobby Bare, Chris Stapleton, Clint Black, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Jason Isbell, Keith Whitley, Kris Kristofferson, Mo Pitney, Randy Travis, Ray Charles, Ricky Skaggs, Sturgill Simpson, The Highwaymen, Travis Tritt, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Though some may consider Tim McGraw soaring in such high thermals that it’s sacrilege for him to be singing about scraping the bottom and setting out to fulfill your dreams in country music, but that’s exactly what McGraw did on May 10th, 1989 when he boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Nashville—the day after his country music hero Keith Whitley died.
88-year-old bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley is recovering in the hospital after suffering a serious fall last week, resulting a fractured pelvic bone. He was first admitted to the hospital on September 26, and also underwent minor surgery to install a pacemaker on Saturday. Stanley has canceled some of his upcoming events due to the health issue, but is expected to recover.
The comparisons of Sturgill Simpson to Waylon Jennings never cease, even though in some instances they’re based on pretty shallow and misguided observations. That’s why it’s probably pretty understandable if Sturgill is tired of hearing about them at this point. In a recent interview with Foo Fighters guitarist and Dead Peasants frontman Chris Shiflett (listen in full below), Sturgill once again answered the Waylon comparisons.
Daron Norwood, the singer of mid-90’s Top 40 hits such as “Cowboys Don’t Cry” and “If It Wasn’t for Her, I Wouldn’t Have You,” has died according to police in Hereford, TX, just west of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle. He was discovered by his landlord who had come by to check on him. No cause of death has been determined.
A group named “Induct Keith Whitley into The Country Music Hall of Fame” has started a campaign to try and get the Kentucky-born singer and songwriter who died tragically in 1989 into country music’s most elite class. The group has set up an online petition and is asking Keith Whitley fans to add their voices and signatures in support of the effort.
“My name is Aaron Watson. I’m not played on country radio. And I have the #1 record in country music this week. I do exist.” This was Aaron Watson’s reaction to the comments of Sony Records Nashville CEO Gary Overton, who said earlier this week, “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.” But overall the Texas country star took a much more humble, appreciative, and inclusive tone.
It’s about that time of year again to start considering who the Country Music Hall of Fame will include in their list of 2015 inductees. That said, this announcement seems to inch later, and later (and later) each year. Nonetheless, if you want your opinion to amount to anything, you better get it out there early in the year as the people who make the picks for the final ballots and eventually inductees are doing their homework.
Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Country Music Hall of Fame, David Allan Coe, Don Kelley, Dwight Yoakam, Grady Martin, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams Jr., Jerry Lee Lewis, Jerry Reed, Jesse McReynolds, John Hartford, Johnny Paycheck, Keith Whitley, Kenney Vaughan, Kenny Chesney, Mac McAnally, Mac Wiseman, Pete Drake, Ralph Mooney, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Redd Volkaert, Ricky Skaggs, Ronnie Milsap, Sam Bush, The Maddox Brothers & Rose, The Oak Ridge Boys
With the passing of the 94-year-old “Little” Jimmy Dickens at the beginning of 2015, it’s a reminder for us to cherish the final living links to country music’s most legendary past who can still tell stories of how country music once was. The amount of performers who were important in forming the very foundation of country music are quickly fading away.
Bill Monroe, Billie Jean Horton, Bobby Osborne, Buck Owens, Buck White, Carter Stanley, Don Maddox, Eddie Arnold, Elvis, George Jones, Hank Snow, Hank Williams, Harold Bradley, Jan Howard, Jean Shepard, Jesse McReynolds, Jim and Jesse, Jim Ed Brown, Joe Pennington, Keith Whitley, Larry Sparks, Lee Ann Womack, Lefty Frizell, Little Jimmy Dickens, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Marty Stuart, Mel Tillis, Owen Bradley, Pee Wee King, Ralph Stanley, Ray Price, Red Simpson, Ricky Skaggs, Rose Maddox, Roy Acuff, Roy Orbison, Stonewall Jackson, Studio 'A', The Clinch Mountain Boys, The Grand Ole Opry, The Quonset Hut, The Stanley Brothers, The Whites, Tompall Glaser, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
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.
If you’re looking for names to populate your most anticipated projects to be released in 2015, putting Mo Pitney at or near the top would be a savvy choice. With a one in a million country voice conveyed in a smoothness we haven’t heard since Don Williams, Mo Pitney is a chill-inducing traditional country artist with a succulent pentameter and delivery, and a songwriter’s pen engorged with stories.
The feud between country music Outlaw legend Waylon Jennings and country superstar Garth Brooks has been well-documented and talked about over the years. Though a lot of rumor and conjecture tend to cloud the conversation, we do know that Waylon’s dislike for Garth, who was coming up just as Waylon’s career was hitting a sharp decline, was very real.
Despite a rough start to Keith Urban’s week last week when one of his concerts in Mansfield, Mass. descended into a 55-arrest, 22-taken to the hospital & rape allegations kind of night, you could make the argument the country music superstar won the week. Keith Urban made it a point to speak out about what happened at the concert. Then by golly, Keith Urban took of his personal time to write an op-ed…
Jake Worthington finished 2nd and has captured the hearts and imaginations of many traditional country fans by wearing a big cowboy hat, and singing Keith Whitley songs on the show every chance he got, along with songs from Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr., and others throughout the competition.
American Idol, Big Machine Records, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay, Dia Frampton, Hank Williams Jr., Jake Worthington, Javier Colon, Jennifer Hudson, Keith Whitley, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Clarkson, Scotty McCreery, The Voice, Waylon Jennings
Today, 86-year-old bluegrass maestro Ralph Stanley announced that he will be embarking on an 80-show farewell tour beginning October 16th entitled the Man Of Constant Sorrow Tour: The Dr.’s Farewell. At 86-years-old, the frail Stanley’s best performance days are probably in the past, but if you’re wondering if it is worth seeing Ralph Stanley on his last go round, I couldn’t encourage it more deeply.