Kentucky has always been the fertile crescent of country music. It just happens to be that lately it has kicked its output into overdrive, and more than any other state at the moment, it’s Kentucky’s sons and daughters fueling the country music insurgency turning the mainstream on its head.
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.
Billy Strings, Brent Cobb, Brett Resnick, Courtney Marie Andrews, Dori Freeman, Drive By Truckers, Hiss Golden Messenger, Kaia Kater, Kelsey Waldon, Luke Bell, Mandolin Orange, Matt Kinman, Patterson Hood, Pickathon, Sturgill Simpson
Not caring whether his music earns him any notoriety or financial gain is what gives an artist like Justin Dean Payne the power and latitude to explore the inner depths of his own soul like the deepest regions of a coal vein until a mother lode of the purest, most lucrative strains of human expression are discovered, and unearthed for the world’s benefit.
Cale Tyson has been one of the hottest names in independent country and Americana for the last couple of years, yet with no full-length album to back it up. Usually it’s the other way around—an independent artist riding rave reviews of a debut LP to big opportunities.
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.
A. Michael Uhlmann, Alice Wallace, All My Exes Live in Texas, Beth Lee and The Breakups, Billy Joe Shaver, Brennen Leigh, Brent Cobb, Brooklyn Country Cantina, Cale Tyson, Cary Baker, Croy and the Boys, Elle King, G&S Lounge, Giddy Ups, High Plaines Jamboree, Jenni Finlay, Jimmy Samon, John Conquest, Kelsey Waldon, Kem Watts, Leo Rondeau, Luck Reunion, Lukas Nelson, Lustre Pearl, Margo Price, Nate Boff, Noel McKay, Not SXSW, Parker Millsap, Paul Cauthen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sarah Shook, Shinyribs, Simon Flory, Spring Fling, Sunny Sweeney, SXSW, Teri Joyce, The Defibulators, The Wild Reeds, Threadgill's, Whitney Rose, Wide Open Country, Willie Nelson
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.
2016 was a difficult year to be a traditional country music fan in many respects, and not just from the death of so many legends. In independent circles, it was a year of having to settle for albums prefaced with explanations of why the artist decided to move away from their country influences, even if it was just slightly, or just on a temporary basis.
Country throwback traditionalist and east Nashville music organizer/rebel rouser J.P. Harris has announced a unique duets project with Nikki Lane, Kelsey Waldon, Leigh Nash, and Kristina Murray called ‘Why Don’t We Duet in the Road.’ This vinyl-only gatefold double 7″ 4-song project will consist of classic country duets.
It has once again come that time of year for reflecting back on some of the best albums released in the last 12 months or so, not to treat country music as competition per se, but as an exercise undertaken with the intent of expanding your musical knowledge in hopes the gaps that formed due to the busy lives we all live get filled in with joyous little music projects.
Austin Lucas, Blackberry Smoke, Brandy Clark, Cody Jinks, Courtney Marie Andrews, Dori Freeman, Doug Bruce, Honest Life, I'm Not The Devil, I've Got a Way, Jack Ingram, Justin Wells, Kelsey Waldon, Like An Arrow, Lori McKenna, Luke Bell, Mark Chesnutt, Midnight Motel, Nick Dittmeier, Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters, Sturgill Simpson, The Bird & The Rifle, The Cactus Blossoms, Tradition Lives, Unsung, You're Dreaming
To decide that classic country music is the way you’re going to make it through life is like choosing the toughest of all paths to climb to the top of a mountain, with steep inclines and sharp drop off’s and all manner of obstacles and wild dangers besetting your course on every side, all while an inviting elevator to the top sits with open doors waiting to spirit you to the same apex.
If you’re rounding out a list of the current artists who are helping to save country music, you better damn well make sure Kelsey Waldon makes it on there or the whole enterprise is bunk. Her 2014 record The Goldmine was a badass collection of classic country tunes that had fans of traditional country singing her praise.
Henley’s been out there outwardly criticizing the state of country music and the state of music in general, though doing so with a lot more of a thoughtful and informed tone than many others, including tracing the problem back to the disappearance of the agrarian way of life that was once prevalent throughout America, and now finds itself quickly receding.
Andrew Combs, Ashley Monroe, Bill Monroe, Cale Tyson, Cass County, Dolly Parton, Don Henley, Dottie West, George Jones, Hank Williams, J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices, Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell, Jed Hilly, Jeffrey Foucault, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Kelsey Waldon, Kitty Wells, Merle Haggard, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Patsy Cline, Shovels & Rope, Striking Matches, Sturgill Simpson, The Eagles, The Milk Carton Kids
2014 has revealed itself as the “Year of the Dark Horse” when it comes to compiling the greatest albums released in the last 12-month span. Tami Neilson, Karen Jonas, Charlie Parr, Matt Woods? Who’s heard of these people outside of their respective fan bases? And meanwhile the realm of mainstream music can’t field one candidate, unless you want to count First Aid Kit.
2014 Album of the Year, Charlie Parr, Don Williams, Doug Seegers, Dynamite!, First Aid Kit, Hollandale, I'm A Song, Jason Eady, Jim Lauderdale, John Fullbright, Joseph Huber, Karen Jonas, Kelsey Waldon, Matt Woods, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, Oklahoma Lottery, Reflections, Stay Gold, Sturgill Simpson, Tami Neilson, With Love From Brushy Mountain, Zoe Muth
If you’re looking for the country music female revolution’s representative for true neotraditional country, Kelsey Waldon might just be your perfect match. If this album was released in the 70’s, it would have birthed a slew of indelible country standards. Such inconsolable heartbreak, such sorrow-drenched insight is captured on these tracks and then embellished with tasteful production…
Brandy Clark, Brett Resnick, Caitlin Rose, First Aid Kit, Holly Williams, Jeremy Fetzer, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsey Waldon, Kitty Wells, Lindi Ortega, Merle Haggard, Michael Rinne, Rachel Brooke, Review, Skylar Wilson, Steelism, Tammy Wynette, The Gold Mine