Tragic news out of Nashville as beloved country music songwriter, vocalist, and musician Kyle Jacobs has died in an incident Metro Nashville Police are characterizing as an apparent suicide. Kyle Jacobs was also the husband of country artist and television personality Kellie Pickler.
Even in this confounding day and age in country music, it all still starts with a song. Not a beat, not a riff, but a song. Words, music, and melody. Story and inspiration. It’s what separates country music from certain other musical art forms, no matter how much it may get boiled down.
The 2020 CMA Awards will transpire on Wednesday, November 11th (make sure to follow along with Saving Country Music’s LIVE blog), and this year it will be a tribute heavy affair. Tributes, remembrances, and the marking of anniversaries will be a big part of the presentation.
Shooter Jennings and Lukas Nelson got together to recreate the magic of their famous fathers on a new rendition of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” originally written and performed by Ed Bruce with his wife Patsy. But of course you only get a teaser version of the song in the opening segment of ‘The Ranch.’
Sure, talk’s cheap. And we saw that illustrated perfectly when Sam Hunt released a new single recently called “Kinfolks.” But the case is a bit different with Carly Pearce. Unlike Sam Hunt and other current mainstream stars, Carly started out in the traditional country ranks, and she’s also backing up her claims with her music.
Whether it was our vehement protestations, or simply patience revealing a more balanced perspective, the recent additions to the Randy Travis Spotify playlist have done a complete 180, and deserve recognition, if not outright praise.
While in the independent realm of country music, 2017 went down as a record year for quality projects, the mainstream was downright abysmal pretty much across the board for both songs and albums. There actually were quite a few pretty good songs, but most struggled to gain traction in the charts.
Lee Brice has built his career not off of catchy singles, but songs that straddle the lines between emotional substance and commercial aptitude, making him a bright spot of Music Row, despite a few blemishes and his spurious label situation. You really have to search for things to dislike about “Boy,” when you really should just sit back and enjoy it.
Everywhere we turn, there are signs that the tide is turning in country music for the better. Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson are turning the tables on the awards shows, a new generation of traditionalists like William Michael Morgan and Margo Price are finding surprising traction. But it’s not all rosy.
Every year we wonder if it can get any worse, and while there are positive signs for country music’s future all over the place, the bad stuff somehow continues to only get worse. The only saving grace is that many of the songs highlighted below have become commercial flops, whereas in previous years it would be a virtual Top 10 on the country charts.
When LeAnn Rimes and Hank Williams III fought very public battles with the label, people chalked it up to a couple of artists with declining careers who couldn’t handle being professional. But after high profile and nasty exits by Hank Williams Jr. and then superstar Tim McGraw, the word was out on the streets about Curb Records’ unfair business practices.
Are you waiting for your favorite music artists signed to MCA Nashville to release an album after a prolonged hiatus? Perhaps you heard the first single months or sometimes years ago, but still no record? Well you’re not alone. It looks like the unenviable position of being the most notorious label on Music Row is no longer a slam dunk for Curb Records.
The brain child of songwriter Rob Snyder, The Revival is celebrating its two year anniversary next Tuesday, May 19th. A songwriter in-the-round setup with just acoustic guitars, The Revival is a place to not just be seen, but heard, and one of the few places you’ll find true songwriters still playing inspired songs mere steps from Music Row proper.
There’s very little that transpired at the 50th Annual ACM Awards that could be salvaged as memorable. But one especially memorable moment transpired when Lee Brice took the stage and started playing Randy Travis’ “Forever and Ever, Amen.” And when Randy Travis himself emerged from the crowd, standing under his own power, and being acknowledged by a standing ovation, it was hard to not feel the emotion.
This is where Garth Brooks could shake up the country music industry beyond simply packing sold-out stadiums. There are reams of amazing songs out there going unheard, and Garth is one of the very few people with the star power to take these songs and make them hits. And this rising tide could raise all boats, taking an artist like Caitlyn Smith to the greater notoriety her talents deserve.
Valory Music and the ACM’s may hope that this issue just blows over, but the removal of the Windmills Country audio has arguably exacerbated it, and fed the suspicion some country fans have surrounding the awards process. If there is an explanation for the discrepancy between Justin Moore’s eligibility and his nomination, the fans of country music have yet to hear it.
Forget that Justin Moore signed to Big Machine’s Valory Music imprint in 2008, that he had a #1 single in 2009, and a #1 album in 2011; as first pointed out by Windmills Country, according to the Academy of Country Music’s specifically-stated rules of eligibility for the “New Artist” category, Justin Moore should be disqualified because he’s had not one, but two albums certified gold.
So we haven’t even had time since the 56th Grammy Awards to sort out if Madonna had the authority to preside over a mass wedding, or if Pharrell’s hat was indeed copyright infringement against the Arby’s logo, and here only a few days later we’re asked to crunch a fresh batch of data dealing with the nominees for the 2014 ACM Awards on April 6th.
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards transpire tonight at 7 PM Central, 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific on CBS. This is your rundown for things to watch for, the country performances and collaborations, a rundown of the nominees and my picks and prognostications.
Today it was announced that Austin, TX would be the site for iHeartRadio’s first ever country music festival, transpiring at Austin’s Frank Erwin Center on March 29th, with a list of top tier headliner talent. There is so much that is ill-conceived about this, I’m not sure where to start. Throwing a corporate country event in Austin, especially at that time of the year will be about as popular in Austin as running over a bicyclist in your Hummer.
One of the standouts in 2011 so far has been Bloomington, Indiana-based singer/songwriter Austin Lucas, and his album A New Home in the Old World. He sat down with me for about a hour to discuss his experience on the Country Throwdown and touring with Willie Nelson, how he got into country, and how his goals are measured and focused on the art of songwriting first, above his own popularity.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend the most talent-rich event I have ever been to, as the convergence of Willie Nelson’s 38th Annual 4th of July Picnic met up with the finale of this year’s Willie Nelson Country Throwdown tour at the largest honky tonk in the world, Billy Bob’s Texas, in the historic Ft. Worth stockyards.