The songs of Noel McKay, they’re like those one of a kind items, carefully crafted with their dovetailed joints and beveled edges, and proudly engraved with a maker’s mark. They’re well-loved, and presented to the world without commercial concern, and more for the memories they hold.
As you get together with friends, family, and co-workers for the Labor Day holiday, it’s the perfect excuse to aggressively ambush them about their bad choices when it comes to country music. Instruct them to ditch the Dan + Shay, and detox with this playlist.
Completely stupid, and perfectly irreverent for the Holiday season, it’s not being hyperbolic to say say this could be one of those compositions that catches fire somehow and accidentally becomes a Christmas classic. All we needed was a proper studio version of it, which we now have.
It’s easy to soliloquize the expansive mountains or the rolling sea. It’s another to find inspiration in the expansive stillness of America’s midriff. But as Brennen Leigh can attest from her intimate acquaintance, you’ll never believe the brilliance of it unless you’ve beheld them with your own eyes.
Country music is also one of the few constants in a world of change. The onslaught of technology and the incursion of automation into our lives hasn’t made country music less relevant, it’s made it even more imperative. These are the themes and reminders you will find throughout the latest record from Noel McKay and Brennen Leigh.
Kayla Ray has deep Texas roots and comes by her classic country music sensibilities honestly. On Friday (5-4) she releases her sophomore album entitled ‘Yesterday and Me.’ Jason Eady is back as co-producer with Pat Manske. Kayla was kind enough to spare a little time to talk about her new project.
Brennen Leigh, Colton Hawkins, Courtney Patton, Drew Kennedy, Erin Enderlin, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jason Eady, Johnny Gimble, Kayla Ray, Keith Whitley, Merle Haggard, Midnight River Choir, Noel McKay, Pat Manske, Yesterday and Me
The biggest takeaway from SXSW 2017 will be that for the first time since the very inception of the idea over 30 years ago, the annual music gathering experienced a palpable draw down in attendance and industry participation to a degree that it fundamentally changed many of the dynamics and rigors one must endure to attend.
A. Michael Uhlmann, Alice Wallace, All My Exes Live in Texas, Beth Lee and The Breakups, Billy Joe Shaver, Brennen Leigh, Brent Cobb, Brooklyn Country Cantina, Cale Tyson, Cary Baker, Croy and the Boys, Elle King, G&S Lounge, Giddy Ups, High Plaines Jamboree, Jenni Finlay, Jimmy Samon, John Conquest, Kelsey Waldon, Kem Watts, Leo Rondeau, Luck Reunion, Lukas Nelson, Lustre Pearl, Margo Price, Nate Boff, Noel McKay, Not SXSW, Parker Millsap, Paul Cauthen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sarah Shook, Shinyribs, Simon Flory, Spring Fling, Sunny Sweeney, SXSW, Teri Joyce, The Defibulators, The Wild Reeds, Threadgill's, Whitney Rose, Wide Open Country, Willie Nelson
For most artists, their careers start off by driving around in vans to club shows across the country, and if they’re lucky perhaps they graduate to a bus sometime down the road. Most artists start by making some noise in their home state, and then maybe hope to garner the attention of a national audience. For Sunny Sweeney, the arc has been nearly the opposite.
Tribute records, just like compilations and live recordings, can be a tough sell and a tedious listen. However, by smartly selecting songs that are worthy of being heard again, but are not the obvious “Greatest Hits” of Lefty’s legacy, Brennen avoids the common pitfall of tribute records. And making her renditions that much more compelling and unique is the fact that she’s a woman singing these songs.
Brennen Leigh, Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzell, Brian Kremer, Cris Burns, Jenn Miori, Lee Ann Womack, Lefty Frizzell, Lisa Pankratz, Noel McKay, Review, Roger Wallace, Rosie and the Ramblers, Selena Rosenblam, Sunny Sweeney, T Jerrod Bonta, The Carper Family
You can’t look anywhere in the Austin independent country scene without seeing Brennen Leigh’s name. If she’s not fronting her own band, she’s playing in any number of other projects as a side musician. Or she’s in the studio singing harmonies or recording guitar tracks, or contributing a song to someone else’s project like she recently did to Lee Ann Womack’s “The Way I’m Livin'” album.
Antique Persuasion, Beth Chrisman, Brennen Leigh, Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzell, Chris Scruggs, Cris Burns, Lee Ann Womack, Noel McKay, Sunny Sweeny, T Jerrod Bonta, Teri Joyce, The Carper Family
When you sit down to assemble a list of candidates for Song of the Year, you almost start to tremble in the face of so much creativity, inspiration, and insight, and grow humbled by how fortunate we are to live in such a bountiful time for music. Candidates for Song of the Year can’t just be songs we enjoy, they are songs that make you change the way you see the world, or change the way you see yourself.
2013, Adam Hood, Alone In Memphis, Ashley Monroe, Austin Lucas, best songs, Brandy Clark, Brennen Leigh, Brian Keane, Caitlin Rose, Charlie Robison, Deadman's Blues, Disappear On Down The Line, Drinkin', El Camino, Elephant, Hank3, Holly Williams, I'll Sing About Mine, Jason Isbell, JB Beverley, John Moreland, Josh Abbott Band, Lindi Ortega, Matt Woods, Noel McKay, Shane McAnally, Song of the Year, Stripes, Sturgill Simpson, Tin Star, Valerie June, Wade Bowen Songs About Trucks
Gone are the days of the legendary duet pairings in country music like George and Tammy, Loretta and Conway, but the Austin country scene’s power couple of Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay have revitalized the country duet concept album in a smart, brilliant, hilarious, and sweet offering called Before The World Was Made.
The Carper Family is at it again with a brand new album called Old-Fashioned Gal, and it’s a family affair featuring The Carper Family troika of Melissa Carper, Beth Crisman, and Jenn Miori, right beside some of the brightest talents of Austin, TX’s old-school country scene. The Carper Family girls can shift from Western Swing, old-school country, folk, covers and originals, embellishing it all with exquisite three-part harmony.
I remember a few years ago I was at the Hole in the Wall bar in Austin, TX, right by the UT campus, watching songwriting couple Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay performing. Brennen Leigh told the crowd that right after the show, her and Noel had to drive to Nashville, and how she was dreading the trip. “But then Noel reminded me that since we’re going north, we get to stop in West for kolaches, and so now I’m super excited.”