Blackbird Presents is at it again planning another huge tribute for a country legend, and this one might be the biggest of them all. Often working with Willie Nelson via tributes to others, as well as his multi-city “Outlaw Fest” tours each summer, now Blackbird Presents is putting together a tribute for Willie himself.
To put it bluntly, the ability of Blackbird Presents to curate talent for events is pretty terrible, and appears to be done without any true understanding of the layout of the current country music landscape. Some of the invites for these Blackbird Presents events seem so incredibly blind to the realities present in country music fandom, it’s remarkable.
A traditional like few others will transpire once again this summer when Willie Nelson celebrates the 4th of July by gathering together friends and family for his annual 4th of July Picnic. For the third year in a row, the event will be held at the Circuit of the Americas speedway just south of Austin, TX, and will include many long-standing invitees.
Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Joe Shaver, David Allan Coe, Folk Uke, Insects vs. Robots, Jamey Johnson, Johnny Bush, Kacey Musgraves, Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real, Margo Price, Raelyn Nelson Band, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Turnpike Troubadours, Willie Nelson, Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic
The 2017 Outlaw Music Festival will actually be a series of events, or a tour if you will, consisting of six total stops throughout July hitting up New Orleans, Dallas, Detroit, Milwaukee, Syracuse, NY, and Rogers, AR. Willie Nelson and his Family Band, Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, The Avett Brothers, and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real play most events.
Scranton, Pennsylvania will be the host of the inaugural Outlaw Music Festival to be held at the Pavilion on Montage Mountain on Sunday, September 18th, with headliners Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Willie’s son Lukas Nelson’s band Promise of the Real backing up Neil Young on stage.
Similar to the Gershwin Brothers, Willie Nelson transcends genre and era. Willie reprises “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and ten other Gershwin tunes on his latest release Summertime—a stylized and smooth journey back to the classical era of pop, yet still mostly defined by Willie’s signature warble and nylon string tone.
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Without anyone left to please but himself, Pat Green is free to exorcise his demons, get some stuff off his chest, make the album he wants to, and hopefully reconnect with those grassroots in Texas country that once helped carry him to the top, and he once turned his back on. To some his name will continue to be mud, but that doesn’t mean his musical output will be.
“I can’t stand to see outdated rock-and-rollers coming in to play country music. That really pissed me off,” Clay Walker told The Modesto Bee recently. “We have great singers, great country musicians. There’s no reason we have to dilute it by letting people in the format that don’t have any business being in the format.”
Down to Believing nestles right down in that classic alt-country approach of building up from a country foundation, but then striking out with a decidedly rock and roll sound. It’s a bold, full experience that in some ways reminds one of the nascent alt-country period when the sounds were still fresh and renewed, yet still had the essence of what made you a country fan to begin with.
Nobody could have anticipated that a George Strait album would be the vehicle for the most excessive, and most blatantly obvious use of the pitch correction software known as Auto-Tune that I have ever, ever heard in the history of recorded music, barring projects purposefully using Auto-Tune as a special effect. The use of Auto-Tune on The Cowboy Rides Away is egregious.
Yeah, yeah, bro-country sucks. As satisfying as it is to finally see the rest of the American media waking up to a problem that had actually been gripping country music for half a decade before Vulture’s Jody Rosen unilaterally coined the ill-begotten “bro-country” term, it’s only because it has been festering now for so long and rising like spasmic bile up the charts …
With Martina McBride at the crossroads that every big country music superstar knows they must ultimately face at some point in their career, where their radio relevancy is slipping through their fingers and the industry is slowly relegating them to the ranks of legacy acts, Martina does something very curious: she releases an album solely consisting of soul and R&B standards.
In hopes of aligning themselves as the antithesis to the whole “bro-country” phenomenon gripping popular country music with its laundry list, truck and beer, mud-splashed and moonshine-soaked stereotyping, a couple of female artists have decided to adopt the new “bra-country” term to help separate the women from the bros.
Last week pop and R&B superstar Justin Timberlake helped stir the music pot by proposing that he might make a country record. Timberlake told Sirius XM’s “The Highway” show: “I just did an interview earlier today and I said, â€˜I’m America, that’s what I am.’ In all sense of the word. [I] grew up outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Listened to country music, R&B music, classic rock, you know, everything…
Country music in the second half of 2013 is going through some of the most historic changes the format has ever seen. The ever-present erosion of what the term “country” defines has never been greater, and the charge of preserving the roots of country music has never been more dire. As a symptom of all the change and upheaval, big-time artists are speaking out about the direction of country music like never before.
It’s not that there aren’t some token homages to mark her move into the country format, but overall, except for one song that we will get to in due course, there is very, very little contrast between Feels Like Home and what Sheryl Crow was calling rock for the body of her career. But that doesn’t necessarily paint Feels Like Home, or Sheryl Crow, or her career as bad.
With 34 CMA Awards, over 20 Grammys, and and some 80 million records sold between the two, they both have seen their share of overwhelming commercial success, public notoriety, and peer recognition. But over the last few years the writing has been on the wall that their time has come, and their days of widespread radio play and big awards are over. And so what did these two men do?
Alabama, Alan Jackson, Bakersfiled, Bill Monroe, Brooks & Dunn, Buck Owens, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Kenny Chesney, Kenny Rogers, Kid Rock, Merle Haggard, Paul Franklin, Ronnie Dunn, Sheryl Crow, The Bluegrass Album, The Dillards, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
“The country format is more pop than pop was when I came up two decades ago,” Sheryl explained to Reuters late last week when being interviewed about her new album, illustrating the degree of country’s move to pop in recent years. Of course Sheryl isn’t saying anything that some country fans haven’t been clamoring about for years, but Crow’s perspective and honesty speaks to the degree of change in country.
When looking at the historical timeline of country music, many times it is big events that set the wheels of change in motion, for the good and the bad. Whether it is intrusion of pop or rap into country, or the ill-treatment of country music greats, here are some of the most embarrassing moments in country music history.
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All of a sudden hip-hop influences are dominating the top of the country music charts, asserting just as much influence, if not more than indigenous country influences, with a bevy of new country rap tunes from numerous artists ready to be released, and mainstream artists lining up to try and be a part of the trend. How did country music get here?
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Sources close to the Sheryl Crow camp have confided in Saving Country Music that part of Sheryl’s country move is politically motivated. Sheryl is a staunch environmentalist, and has championed specific issues over the years, most notably in 2007 when she advocated the use of only one square of toilet paper during restroom visits to conserve trees and increase global oxygen levels.
For years, the principals of the Hank Williams estate (Hank Jr. and Jett) were warring back and forth, and this kept the treasure trove of Hank Williams’ legacy recordings relegated to bootlegs and listening parties for the select few with access to the Acuff/Rose archive. But the last couple of years have seen a dizzying dump of previously-unheard material from country’s first superstar.
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.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Hank Williams ever recording any drunken sea shantys. I can’t remember any Ol’ Hank songs featuring trumpets, or classically-styled lilting mandolin parts either. And I guess the Hank song that is built around incongruent, sloppily-overdubbed harmonies is on that $70 box set I could never get the scratch to buy.