James L. Payne, aka Jody Payne, electric guitarist for Willie Nelson for 35 years, has passed away. He died this morning (8-10) in Stapleton, AL due to cardiac arrest according to his wife Vicki. Payne had been suffering from heart problems for years prior. Throughout the 60’s Payne played bass for Ray Price, and also played with Merle Haggard among others before eventually joining Willie in 1973.
Just in time to coincide with the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Bakersfield Sound exhibit, country music maestro Vince Gill, along with legend of the steel guitar Paul Franklin have released Bakersfield, a tribute to the Bakersfield Sound and it’s two biggest icons, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. This ten song album swaps between Buck and Merle tunes and features some of their most notable songs.
After a six year wait to release an album of original material at the mercy of Curb Records’ career-shattering and sometimes illegal talent retention program, prolonging the release process for artists on their final album with the label nearly indefinitely, the embattled and bruised LeAnn Rimes has finally released “Spitfire.” The chatter around “Spitfire” has been polarizing to darn near bellicose.
Exquisitely antiqued and strikingly original, old school country singer and native Canadian Lindi Ortega is the northern emissary for country music’s current female revolution. A class act all around that is regarded just as highly for her self-penned songs as her heavenly (or devilish) voice, Lindi is a creative maelstrom that sends the room spinning from her ability to expose the most blinding beauty from life’s inherent darkness.
Radio station 93.5 KOOK and 1230 KERV in Kerrville, TX, managed by legendary DJ Big ‘G’ Gordon Ames has a radio promo done by Kinky Friedman that simply says, “We play Hank. All of them.” Yes, we all know about country music’s most famous family, but here are the other 5 Hank’s that helped establish the sound of country music (and didn’t actually have “Hank” as their legal first names either).
Conway Twitty, Crazy Heart, Dwight Yoakam, Elvis, Hank Cochran, Hank Garland, Hank Locklin, Hank Snow, Hank Thompson, Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr., Jamey Johnson, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson
Whenever I find myself thirsting for inspiration, I tend to search out the blessed gift that is the harmonies of sister pairings. Any two great singers can harmonize, but few can match the instinct and tone of two blood relatives, making the artform seem as effortless as breath. Following is a list of singing sisters who never cease to inspire.
Anderson Family Bluegrass, Asleep at the Wheel, First Aid Kit, Marty Stuart, Merle Haggard, Paige Anderson, Paige Anderson and the Fearless Kin, Ricky Skaggs, T Bone Burnett, The Carter Family, The Church Sisters, The Louvin Brothers, The Marty Stuart Show, The Quebe Sisters, The Secret Sisters, The Shook Twins, The Staves
The comments at the concert beginning a Dixie Chicks world tour sparked off possibly the biggest black balling in the history of American music. Spoken 10 days before the beginning of the Iraq War, the backlash took the Dixie Chicks from the biggest concert draw in country music to relative obscurity in country music in a matter of weeks.
2013 is already shaping up to be an excellent year for real country music, with some of the heavy hitters slating new releases before we even hit Easter. Just announced, Dale Watson and his Lone Stars have a brand new album titled El Rancho Azul to be released January 29th through Red House Records, featured 14 original songs and being touted as his “honkiest tonkiest” album yet of his 21-album career.
This song is about losing yourself, which we’ve all done, and will all do again, and how we all start off life with a firm grasp on who we are that life does its level best to wrestle away from us. But inside “Stranger” there is also a glimmer of hope in how the realization of one’s self can stimulate renewal. And above all of that, the beauty of “Stranger” is its fierce simplicity–the attribute of all excellent country songs.
Billy Don BUrns, Brigitte London, Eric Strickland, Johnny Paycheck, Kacey Musgraves, Merle Haggard, Olds Sleeper, Rusty Knuckles, Stranger, Sturgill Simpson, Tom VandenAvond, Turnpike Troubadours, Whitey Morgan, Willie Nelson
Don Maddox, the last surviving member of the wildly-influential Maddox Brothers & Rose, will be recognized in his hometown of Ashland, Oregon for his 90th birthday at the Don Maddox Birthday Celebration on Saturday, December 8th. The Maddox Brothers & Rose are one of the most influential bands in the history of American music. They played shows with folks as far ranging as Ernest Tubb and Elvis Presley.
Country Music Hall of Fame, Don Maddox, Elvis Presley, Ernest Tubb, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Marty Stuart, Marty Stuart Show, Merle Haggard, Muddy Roots Festival, Oregon Old Time Fiddlers, Sage Meadowsn, Siskiyou Summit, The Grand Ole Opry
About this time every four years the political rhetoric reaches critical mass as TV, radio, and the internet are permeated with political ads, while your personal social network feed is filled with political memes and other such oversimplification of issues we’ve been fighting to resolve for decades. Here are some apolitical, or anti-political songs to help survive the political season.
.357 String Band, Centreville, Chris Knight, Derek Dunn, Hellbound Glory, Lee Bains and the Glory Fires, Lery Virgil, Merle Haggard, Nothing On Me, Rainbow Stew, What's This World Coming To (If It Ain't Coming To An End)
Jamey Johnson’s Living For a Song is a tribute to his musical hero; a man he met in 2008 when Cochran was already suffering from pancreatic cancer. I’ve always had great respect for Jamey Johnson the man, and his dedication and desire to see this project through elevates him yet another notch. But shoot me that I like my pulse raised when I put on an album.
The Shivering Denizens and frontman Ron E. Banner epitomize gonzo-style West Coast country. Not as salacious as Bob Wayne & The Outlaw Carnies, and more solidly country than what the Supersuckers usually serve up during their “country” set, The Shivering Denizens are like Ken Kesey meets Merle Haggard.
I’m not sure if I can come up with a more touching country music story in 2012 than that of Don Maddox. Think about it, 90-year-old man whose spent the last 54 years in virtual obscurity from the music world makes headlines by receiving standing ovations at the Grand Ole Opry and being featured at the Country Music Hall of Fame along with the rest of his family as part of the Bakersfield Sound exhibit.
Like most of the overused song formulas employed by Music Row songwriters, the laundry list likely started with some good, creative, innovative tunes. But once something works, it is called upon again and again by Music Row until all creativity is spent and it becomes cliche. Such is the evolution (or devolution) of the country checklist song.
Blake Shelton, Bob Seger, Country Boy Can Survive, Country Checklist songs, David Allan Coe, God's Country USA, Hank Williams Jr., Kiss My Country Ass, Laundry List Songs, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marcus Hummon, Merle Haggard, Okie From Muskogee, Rascal Flatts, Rebel Son, Redneck Piece of White Trash, Rhett Akins, Sara Evans, That's How I Like It, Tim McGraw
Texas country music legend James Hand will be releasing his brand new studio album Mighty Lonesome Man on October 16th. The 12-track album will include all original material, and contributions from an All-Star cast of Austin, TX’s country music talent. It will be released digitally, and on CD and vinyl. James Hand recorded the album this spring at Summit Street Studios in Austin, and has a busy year ahead of him.
Hellbound Glory just finished up a big 6-week tour, and behind them they left a trail of rumors that a future album might have a contribution from electro pop star Ke$ha. Pop stars positioning themselves for a country move by claiming they’ve always been into the music is nothing new. The difference with Ke$ha though is her references to her country roots and influences are actually true.
It’s not too often that 90-year-old entertainers experience a resurgence in their careers, but that is exactly what Don Maddox of Maddox Brothers & Rose finds himself in the midst of. After 50 years of being hidden away in the town of Ashland, OR where he was known only as a cattle rancher, Don has the spotlight shining down on him once again.
Think what you want about former American Idol contestant Kellie Picker’s latest album 100 Proof and its striking traditionalist approach, but what may be even more interesting and inspiring than the album itself is the story behind it. After recently parting with her label, Kellie’s narrative is becoming similar to the one of Waylon Jennings, the country music Outlaw that Kellie cites as a primary influence.
What elevates this album the most, the intangible of Nights When I’m Sober is the authenticity Billy Don Burns can approach these songs with. The battle will rage on forever about if songwriters and performers have to live what they sing and write about to be authentic, but with Billy Don, the point is moot.
This album is good both because it is Willie, and because it is good. After years of navigating through a gray area in his career and having to dabble with some record labels probably less able to do a Willie release justice, he’s back with the same company who released Red Headed Stranger, and back to making albums worthy of the world stopping down to pay attention to.
Today is the released date of Long Gone Daddy, an album Curb Records is releasing that contains outtakes from early in Hank Williams III’s career when he was under contract with the label. Most of the material on the album has been released previously. according to a press release released today by Allcorn, he had no more consent from Curb to release his song “This Ain’t Montgomery” than Hank3 did.
Country music songwriting legend and original Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver will be releasing a loaded 20-song CD package with companion DVD called Live at Billy Bob’s Texas on July 17th, recorded in the “World’s Largest Honky Tonk”. This will be Shaver’s first album in five years. Billy Joe Shaver will be the 42nd artist to release a “Live at Billy Bob’s” album.
Billy Bob's Texas, Billy Joe Shaver, Bobby Bare, BR549, David Allan Coe, Elvis Presley, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Anderson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Live at Billy Bob's, Merle Haggard, Patty Loveless, Tex Ritter, The Allman Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Legendary country music songwriter Billy Don Burns, who over his 40 year career has written songs for Willie Nelson, Connie Smith, Sammy Kershaw, and many others has partnered up with Rusty Knuckles Records and will be releasing a new album this summer, Nights When I’m Sober (The Portrait of a Honky Tonk Singer).