Every year the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville seats a variety of names from throughout the country and roots world in what they call their American Currents exhibit. This is the opportunity for artists that you may not normally see an exhibit for get an opportunity to be featured.
It is very important to contextualize that Luke Combs has completely scrubbed Confederate flags from his image, and for many years now—a critically important point not relayed by Margo Price’s tweet. If nothing else, this should exonerate Billy Strings from having to answer for anything.
It turns out this isn’t just a one-off situation, but part of a much bigger bluegrass project Luke Combs has been working on during quarantine. That’s right, arguably the biggest artist in mainstream country at the moment has a bluegrass album in the works.
In a pretty unprecedented development for the modern era, there are two separate albums of bluegrass music currently in the Top 15 of the Country Albums chart according to Nielsen Soundscan. Even more unprecedented, they’re both from the same guy.
The 2020 pandemic has exposed how essential many country music institutions are to society. The Grand Ole Opry beamed its signal into households to the tune of becoming the most successful streaming concern in music during the entirety of 2020.
Billboard has published their year-end wrap on country music for 2020 (the music year ends in November), and as you can imagine, it’s a healthy dose of Luke Combs leading many of the metrics, especially from Chris Stapleton and Tyler Childers.
The momentum behind Chris Stapleton continues as his latest record “Starting Over” soars to the top of the charts off the back of strong physical sales and streaming numbers. Released on November 13th, the album debuts at the top of the Billboard Country Albums chart this week.
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.
Brian Kelley, Carrie Underwood, Charley Pride, Charlie Daniels, Chris Stapleton, CMA Awards, Darius Rucker, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Joe Diffie, Kenny Rogers, Lee Brice, Luke Combs, Mac Davis, Miranda Lambert, Tyler Hubbard
Five years ago today—on November 4th, 2015—the biggest event and paradigm shift in country music occurred most certainly in the last 10 years, likely in the last quarter century, and possibly one of the biggest moments in the totality of country music history.
Without any physical product being sold yet (it’s still being manufactured), Sturgill Simpson’s surprise bluegrass album Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 The Butcher Shoppe Sessions reprising 20 songs from his catalog in bluegrass form sees a surprisingly strong debut in the charts.
Ever since releasing their debut self-titled record in late May, the newly-formed Texas music supergroup recording under the name ‘Hill Country’ has been receiving worthy praise for their music. But as some have remarked, the name is just generic enough for it to get buried or confused.
When making the case for the character of someone, it’s not just about how they rise to the top, but what they do when they get there. In the case of Luke Combs, he’s been using his platform and his time off of the road during the pandemic to promote and collaborate with some of the best artists in independent country.
Just remember, “It’s only the ACM Awards.” It’s just disappointing that one of their best presentations in perhaps a decade or more—and under difficult circumstances—had to be sullied at the very end by a silly and avoidable decision.
Remember, it’s just the ACM Awards. Less prestigious than the CMAs, and more susceptible to bloc voting and other dubious practices than most any other awards apparatus in country music and beyond, think of it more as a performative infomercial for the mainstream of country music.
Once again Garth is being Garth, which means ultimately he’s probably doing the right thing and making a good choice. He’s just doing it in the most self-gratifying of ways. His heart is 100% in the right place. But his ego won’t allow him to make an altruistic move without letting everyone else know what he’s doing.
There should be no shame in major music outfits taking money through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, to keep their road crew and support staff financially stable, despite it being characterized as the cash grab of millionaires by some, aided by certain embellished and misleading headlines in the media.
Ever since releasing their debut album in May, the Zane Williams-led Texas music supergroup called Hill Country has been heavily touted by the listeners who’ve been clued into their self-titled record. It just the overall vibe the group captures. And apparently the biggest artist in country music at the moment agrees.
Luke Combs announced recently that his new radio single will be “Lovin’ On You,” and I can’t help but think this decision is a one big boner. Luke already had another single out there gaining serious traction on radio, even as his previous one was cresting the charts. It’s the well-written and fiercely topical “Six Feet Apart.”
Jason Isbell has once again landed at #1 in both country and rock, as well as folk/Americana with his latest record ‘Reunions.’ This is the third time in a row the Alabama native has landed at the top of all three metrics with an album debut, and all from an artist who rarely makes it onto commercial radio.
The original release date for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s new album Reunions was May 15th. But in an effort to help struggling brick and mortar independent record stores, the songwriter chose to make his new album available in physical form the week before, on May 8th, exclusively to retail record establishments.
Beyond making a really bad amalgam of derivative and formulaic rap pop by ripping off the styles of Drake and trap beat artists to only then turn around and sell it as country to the gullible masses, Sam Hunt is also superlative at turning hip-hop, pop, and indie rock writers into certified country music experts.
The Saturday night Grand Ole Opry tradition continues even during the COVID-19 pandemic with two official Opry members—one older, and one new—taking the stage together Saturday, April 25th, keeping the circle unbroken once again. This week Luke Combs and Craig Morgan will do the honors.
Pairing with independent songwriter Brent Cobb who had his own fast-rising career put on hold due to COVID-19, and well-regarded Nashville singer/songwriter Rob Snyder who rumor has it is finally releasing a debut album later this year, Luke Combs may have just delivered the quarantine song of the spring called “Six Feet Apart.”
Sure, perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the indefinite hiatus of the boys from Oklahoma has us all foggy-eyed in recollection. But according to one industrious Twitter user’s social experiment in the midst of the Coronavirus quarantine, the Turnpike Troubadours rule the roost.