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.
I remember saying it myself when the Carolina Chocolate Drops first came on the scene. Excellent band, and great to see some diversity represented in country and Americana music in a way that illustrates the role African American’s played in creating roots music. But there was something a bit off about watching a black band playing for a distinctly white audience.
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
List making either before or after events has become a dubious enterprise of mainstream outlets just looking to troll the fan bases of independent performers to get these performers to dutifully post the coverage to their social network feeds and drive unique views to the outlets while little if any true discovery for said artists by new fans actually occurs.
Americana, AmericanaFest, Angaleena Presley, Beverly Keel, Bluebird Cafe, Change The Conversation, Dori Freeman, Jack Ingram, Leslie Fram, Luke Bell, Matt Haeck, Sarah Shook, Tami Neilson, The Accidentals, Tommy Ash, Wanda Jackson
With over 200 artists playing AmericanaFest this third week of September, it can be a little bit intimidating for the folks either looking to attend in person, or experience the gathering vicariously through various social channels and video streams. So here is a curated list of artists battle tested and approved by Saving Country Music.
AmericanaFest, Austin Lucas, Brent Cobb, Caitlyn Smith, Dori Freeman, Jason Eady, John Moreland, Lori McKenna, Luke Bell, Parker Millsap, Sammy Brue, Sarah Shook, Tami Neilson, The Secret Sisters, William Clark Green, Willie Watson
Those true, hardcore fans of music always want to keep digging until they find that original nugget of a musical movement or influence, or in the case of Pat Reedy, the revitalization of a style of country and roots that has been forgotten by neglect throughout the generations.
Luke Bell has a bright future in music … if he wants to. And that might be the biggest question remaining. This self-titled debut will be all brand new to most, and by the grace of some really amazing songs, his audience will continue to swell. Keeping his authenticity and voice will be the challenge.
From opening for Dwight and Willie, to signing to Thirty Tigers, to now getting the opportunity to play big stages at Stagecoach in April, and Bonnaroo in June, the story of Luke Bell is shaping up to be very similar to that of Sturgill Simpson’s when his career was in its infant stages. But there’s still a lot of ground to cover.
In 2014 when Saving Country Music received an unsolicited submission from an relatively unknown artist named Luke Bell, it felt like striking gold. It’s so rare, and so welcome and fulfilling when an artist that has been flying so criminally far under the radar shows up and it’s so immediately obvious their music is destined for bigger things.
Some independent country fans love to harp on whose name is in the biggest font in the headliner positions, but the names Stagecoach invites each year to fill out the roster gives you great hope for the future of country, and tells you who to look out for in the coming months and years, this year especially.
Aaron Watson, Amanda Shires, Billy Joe Shaver, Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, Dale Watson, Emi Sunshine, Emmylou Harris, Jamestown Revival, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Langhorne Slim and the Law, Luke Bell, Marty Stuart, Mo Pitney, Robert Earl Keen, Sam Outlaw, Stagecoach, Stagecoach 2015, The Deslodes, The Malpass Brothers, The Turnpike Troubadours, Whitey Morgan, William Elliot Whitmore
From the wild lands of Wyoming comes a by-gone man with a by-gone sound traveling under the name Luke Bell. With his dog and his 1995 Buick LeSabre, he comes trekking through the fog of obscurity to sing you some good country songs in the old-fashioned way. “Don’t Mind If I Do” harkens back to a time in country music when it didn’t suck, and hadn’t even started to.