As we get to the halfway pole in the musical year, it’s time to look back and asses the best albums that have been released in 2020 so far. At the moment, we are very top loaded with stellar releases, with many albums already feeling like strong contenders for Album of the Year.
MIke and the Moonpies
The Saving Country Music Top 25 Playlist is built to keep you informed on all the best songs and albums coming out right here, right now in country and roots music. It’s available on most all streaming formats, or just use the song, artist, and album info to find something new to listen to. New songs just added.
Mike Harmeier, Caitlin Rutherford, Kyle Ponder, Zach Moulton, and the incomparable Omar Oyoque. Mike and the Moonpies as they’re know collectively. Also known as the greatest country music band in the world at the moment — Gary Stewart. The King of the Honky Tonks.
Keeping up with all the releases in the country and roots realm is hard enough. COVID-19 has made it even more difficult with numerous delays and postponements on big titles, along with many artists waiting to announce their new records with all the uncertainty in the marketplace. But there are still many important records coming up in 2020.
We though Mike and the Moonpies caught us completely off guard last August when they released a surprise album on us recorded in London. Now they have a brand new record of completely unheard songs written by country legend Gary Stewart on the way.
Not your standard and cliche-riddled country protest song, this more thoughtful, reflective, and hushed effort bemoans the passing away of important things in life—country music included—to the onslaught of progress and noise, while resisting the new favorite Americana pastime of laying blame.
The amount of cancellations tied to the Coronavius outbreak can be dizzying to keep up with, even within the confines of independent country and roots. But a few important cancellations are worthy of note, including two dates on the Sturgill Simpson / Tyler Childers tour, and the Mike & The Moonpies Europe tour.
Brad Paisley, Chris Stapleton, Cody Johnson, Coronavirus, Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Kane Brown, Keith Urban, Luck Reunion, Luke Bryan, MIke and the Moonpies, Old Settler's Music Festival, Rodeo Houston, Sturgill Simpson, SXSW, Tyler Childers, Zac Brown Band
It may not exactly be the Grand Ole Opry, but earning an opportunity to debut on the Austin City Limits stage for an appearance on the longest-running TV music program in American history is still a distinct honor, and one now Tyler Childers and Luke Combs will be enjoying during the upcoming season.
Here are the greatest country and roots albums of the last decade in Saving Country Music’s estimation. Albums were regarded primarily on quality, and how they held up over the decade, as well as the influence they had on country music, and music at large. These are the albums that should not be overlooked over the last 10 years of music.
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Caitlin Rose, Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, Emily Scott Robinson, First Aid Kit, Hellbound Glory, Jack Ingram, James McMurtry, Jason Eady, Jason Isbell, John Moreland, Joseph Huber, Kacey Musgraves, Kellie Pickler, Lindi Ortega, MIke and the Moonpies, Miranda Lambert, Olds Sleeper, Roger Alan Wade, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Slackeye Slim, Sturgill Simpson, Sunny Sweeney, Tami Neilson, The Mavericks, Turnpike Troubadours, Tyler Childers, Zephaniah OHora
Jaws dropped, and the calendars of true country fans got shuffled on Wednesday morning when the lineup for the inaugural Born & Raised Music Festival was announced for June 5th, 6th, and 7th in Pryor, Oklahoma, just north and west of Tulsa. With Willie Nelson and Hank Williams Jr. headlining the event, and an incredible undercard…
The concept of the business is pretty straightforward. It’s Uncle Bekah’s flair for the dramatic and funny that has made what she’s doing wholly unique, with lots of brand loyalty among her customers. It’s not a novel idea to screen print a trucker hat, but Uncle Bekah gives everyone the license to get completely inappropriate and be accepted.
“I think that they’re completely losing it. And I think that’s a sad situation because we should never let country music die. I think that every type of music should be saved, and country is one of the greatest. It’s been around, as far as I’m concerned, longer than any of it,” says Loretta Lynn.
It’s very rare that you see separate production companies and promoters in music collaborating with each other in the event and festival space. But that was not the case when music cruise company Sixthman who operates multiple cruises in independent country and Americana realm collaborated with Mile 0 Fest in Key West to put on a party.
Reprising their highly-regarded tour pairing in early 2019 that saw Jamie Lin play for 45 minutes, Mike and the Moonpies play for 45 minutes, and then both take the stage to rip through classic country cover songs, the collaborations and moments were pretty incredible. Members of American Aquarium also helped.
Two important independent festivals that are working hard to support and expand Texas, Red Dirt, Americana, and independent country music beyond its traditional borders will not be happening in 2020. Both the Tumbleweed Festival near Kansas City, and the Wild Hare Country Festival in Oregon have cancelled for 2020.
Blackberry Smoke, Bri Bagwell, Cody Jinks, Cody Johnson, LiveNation, MIke and the Moonpies, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, The Scooter Brown Band, Tumbleweed Festival, Whiskey Myers, Whitey Morgan, Wild Hare Country Festival
Album of the Year is not an accolade handed out lightly. Obviously, the title chosen has to be regarded as the best record of a given calendar year in Saving Country Music’s estimation. Though universal agreement will never coagulate around any album, there needs to be at least some groundswell of momentum behind the record.
Christmas came early for ticket holders of the Texas Music/Red Dirt/Americana-oriented Mile 0 Fest set to transpire in Key West, Florida on January 28th-February 1st, 2020, as well as for those still sitting on the fence about if they want to go, or those who might have a ticket waiting for them under the Christmas tree.
Bri Bagwell, Charley Crockett, Courtney Patton, Drew Kennedy, Elizabeth Cook, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jason Boland, Josh Grider, Kaitlin Butts, Kelley Mickwee, MIke and the Moonpies, Mile 0 Fest, Outlaw Country Cruise, Shinyribs, The Steel Woods, Tina Wilkins, Walt Wilkins
Mike and the Moonpies are bar none the best country music band out there at the moment, and recently tied for 1st in Saving Country Music’s rundown of the Best Live Performers in 2019. This may be one of those situations where your opportunity to see a band like this in smaller venues is finite, so take advantage of it while you can.
2019 was a stacked year for top live performances. This was supposed to be a list of the top 10 live performances, but due to such a crowded field, things boiled over. And yes, there are three #1 acts. All should be considered equals at the very top level of live performance. They were all so great, it seemed unfair to put one over the other.
Amanda Shires, Billy Strings, Bri Bagwell, Cedric Burnside, Charles Wesley Godwin, Courtney Marie Andrews, Jack Ingram, Kaitlin Butts, Logan Ledger, Lukas Nelson, MIke and the Moonpies, Raul Malo, Shane Smith and the Saints, Sierra Ferrell, Tami Neilson, The Brother Brothers, The Mavericks, The Tender Things, Tyler Childers, Whitey Morgan and the 78's, Yola
If you’re going to be in Tulsa this New Years, let me just say on behalf of all the country and roots fans that won’t be, we hate you and your ugly stupid face. It’s completely unfair that you’ll get the opportunity to take in some of the best lineups of performers this side of the big festivals.
Adam Hood, BJ Barham, Cain's Ballroom, Cody Canada, Colter Wall, Gary Braun, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jesse Daniel, Kaitlin Butts, Micky Braun, MIke and the Moonpies, MIke McClure, Wade Bowen, William Clark Green
When it comes to top-tier releases in the country and roots realm, 2019 was a year like we’ve never seen before. Though it feels like we say that every year, 2019 truly was exceptional. The albums selected to be considered for Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year are so elite, all of them should be considered the winners.
Aaron Watson, Caroline Spence, Chane Smith and the Saints, Charles Wesley Godwin, Charlie Marie, Chris Knight, Cody Jinks, Croy and the Boys, Emily Scott Robinson, Erin Enderlin, Ian Noe, Jason Hawk Harris, Michaela Anne, MIke and the Moonpies, The Steel Woods, Tyler Childers
What is “Ameripolitan”? It’s an effort to support artists and bands that are too country for country, and that carry a prominent roots music influence. The nominees for the 2020 Ameripolitan Award have been announced in 13 separate categories. One shakeup for the awards in 2020 is there will be no “Outlaw” categories.
Ameripolitan, Big Cedar Fever, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, Charley Crockett, Dale Watson, Dorris Mayday, Duane Eddy, Grace Adele, Jaime Wyatt, Jesse Daniel, Jimmy Dale Richardson, Justin Trevino, Kathryn Legendre, MIke and the Moonpies, Summer Dean, Tammi Savoy, Two Tons of Steel, Whitney Rose, Zephaniah OHora
Man, there’s nothing better to get your country music pants going crazy like a good ol’ supergroup, and it appears we got a new one that’s formed right under our noses. Called The Panhandlers, it’s not in reference to vagrants, it pertains to that flat-ass piece of land in West Texas that sticks up like a chimney pipe on the map.
Even ceding the argument that the album concept is dead for many listeners these days (which is not true at all for core, grassroots fans), there still doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of reason to release a large handful of your songs before an album’s street date, aside from that just seems to be what everyone does these days.