The songwriter, singer, guitar player, and frontman for the legendary Western Swing and classic country band Asleep At The Wheel had some harsh things to say about today’s country music in a recent interview, and specifically about the reigning CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year, Luke Bryan.
Whatever you could want or hope from Don Henley’s “Cass County” as a country music fan, this album delivers it and in ample quantities. I don’t know that any country fan’s expectations can meet the actual enjoyment this music deals out. And this is a traditional country record.
Alison Krauss, Ashley Monroe, Cass County, Dolly Parton, Don Henley, Jesse Winchester, Lucinda Williams, Merle Haggard, Mick Jagger, Review, The Eagles, The Louvin Brothers, Tift Merritt, Trisha Yearwood
You can’t get away from the political divisiveness these days, and the issue only promises to get worse as the United States Presidential election proper looms large in the not so distant future. But that’s what’s so great about music. It’s a world away from the rancor of political discord. Or as Brennen Leigh and Sunny Sweeney say, “A love of country music conquers all.”
Adding to the ongoing discussion about the dearth of female representation in mainstream country today, country superstar Jason Aldean contributed some curious comments to The Washington Post ahead of a show at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA on Saturday, September 12th.
“That news hit me pretty hard in the heart,” Lee Ann says about the nomination. She was driving to her mother’s house in east Texas when she received the call. “I am and always will be a country music singer. It’s what I do… It’s what I love… and it’s the thing that truly makes me feel alive. Having the CMA recognize that after the year I’ve had since ‘The Way I’m Livin” came out really does my heart good.”
Merle Haggard remains on tour, and remains on the warpath against the direction of today’s country music, at least when asked about the matter by the press. The Hag was interviewed ahead of a show in Toledo, Ohio at the Stranahan Theater on September 9th, and didn’t mince words when questioned what he thought about today’s country sound and the artists making it.
Kanye West and Taylor Swift as a 2020 Presidential ticket? Screw that. If we’re going to go dipping into the pool of musical performers to field Presidential candidates, then my vote would go for a country music legend rising to the forefront. And not just because I’m a country music fan, but because many of our legendary country artists have the history to connect with hard-working American citizens.
That was the firebrand language coming from country music legend Merle Haggard ahead of an appearance Sunday, September 6th at the Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead, Minnesota. In preparation for the show, In Forum talked to the 78-year-old performer, and he felt no need to be guarded with his feelings of where country music is headed.
A Jewish-American, Kinky was a seminal part of the Austin, TX music scene in the 70’s when Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, and songwriters like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Ray Wylie Hubbard helped revolutionize country music with their independent spirit and progressive approach. Kinky was one of the hucksters of the movement.
I don’t expect Don Henley’s entire country record to sound this classic, but his take on the old Louvin Brothers standard with Dolly helping out was a welcomed treat that tells you this album isn’t going to be Don reaching for commercial relevance. It’s going to be Don making the country record he wants to make.
This weekend in downtown Nashville, the inaugural Ink-N-Iron Festival is being held in Bicentennial Mall Park. Promoted by the same individuals who’ve been putting on tattoo conventions in Long Beach, California for the last 13 years, the 3-day festival features a diverse mix of performers, including headliner Merle Haggard. Merle also performed at a pre-festival event held Thursday evening.
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.
The latest appetizer dangled out there by Curb is an acoustic version of a song called “I Met Merle Haggard Today.” Pretty self explanatory and plenty entertaining, it’s the true account of Mo meeting one of his country music heroes for the first time. It’s a simple little song, but it shows you that Mo’s commitment to authentic country music isn’t just a marketing angle.
In one corner you have the wily veteran who’s sold more than 80 million records worldwide and racked up untold awards and accolades during his quarter century career. In the other corner you have the scrappy young upstart who after years of paying dues on the club circuit can now sell out three consecutive nights at The Ryman Auditorium in 30 minutes and is on the tip of everyone’s tongue as the name of one of the best songwriters around.
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.
Dear Luke Bryan, Thanks for taking the time to read my letter, if in fact you do so. I can only imagine the time constraints a man of your success has, and you’ve already been taking of your time over the last few days to help clear up a mess that I guess I had some part in creating.
Aaron Watson, Blackberry Smoke, Blake Shelton, Dallas Davidson, Florida Georgia Line, Gary Overton, George Strait, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Hill, Luke Bryan, Merle Haggard, Sam Hunt, Sturgill Simpson, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Luke Bryan has called Waylon Jennings’ widow Jessi Colter to apologize after he made comments characterizing Outlaw country artists as cocaine addicts “laying in the gutter, strung out on drugs.” Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings has also commented on the situation, saying, “It’s all flush in my book.”
It seems to be the destiny of man to make the same mistakes over and over, even when we have insurmountable evidence of the fallacy of our actions right in front of us. Country music might be one of the greatest examples of this as it cycles from being obsessed with pop and contemporary sounds, and then gets reeled back in towards its traditional heart during the tug and push of its sometimes tumultuous history.
Now one of the members of Waylon’s extended family has spoken out about Luke’s initial words and his apology. Kathy Pinkerman Jennings, who is the wife of one of Waylon Jennings’ sons Buddy Jennings, spoke out about the matter via Facebook initially on July 10th, and the posted a video to YouTube late Saturday night. Despite some media reports, Kathy Jennings makes it clear she is not speaking for the family.
So to give some historical context to Luke Bryan’s characterizations, I thought we would look back and see what Willie, Merle, and Waylon felt about cocaine. Willie hated the stuff, and would fire anyone in his crew caught using it. Merle barely touched it, except for one dalliance that ended poorly. And Waylon was a professed, long-term cocaine addict who openly expressed his struggles with the drug.
Being an Outlaw never had anything to do with arrest records or cocaine addictions. Anyone found on Willie Nelson’s crew with their nose in the powder was immediately fired. Being an Outlaw was about being yourself, insisting on having creative control of your music, and moving country music forward while still respecting the roots of the genre and all the greats that came before.
The story goes that The Malpass Brothers were discovered by Merle Haggard after they played an opening gig for him in North Carolina. “Well they remind me a lot of myself and people that I knew when I was young,” says Merle. “They have their hearts into what we call ‘traditional’ country music. It’s valuable to me that we cultivate young talent for that kind of music.”
Over the 4th of July weekend at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the four surviving original members of the Grateful Dead, Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby, and Jeff Chimenti will be marking the band’s 50th Anniversary by playing a series of shows in the last setting Jerry Garcia ever performed in before passing away in 1995.
Fresh off of his sold-out theater tour this late winter and spring, and a host of festival appearances at Coachella, Stagecoach, Bonnaroo, and others, insurgent country artist Sturgill Simpson has just announced a slew of new tour dates as part of his “Living The Dream Tour.” Focusing on theater-sized venues, a few choice opening spots, some more summer festivals….