9/14/19 Nashville Trip – Part 5

I saw dozens of acts in two days, so I won’t go into any great detail for any.

I saw Tanya Tucker at the CMHOF yesterday. The show started a half hour late, and Tanya was wearing an eye patch and needed to be helped to her seat, but no explanation was given. The important bit was getting to see a country music legend, and Elizabeth Cook representing SiriusXM was the right personality to host the funny interview. Tanya was backed by her daughter, who has a quality country band called Reverie Lane. We saw them at CMA in June. Tanya’s bulldog got on stage, too.

I also attended Rodney Crowell CMHOF event. Rodney spent little time on the interview portion and mostly played songs from his recent Texas-themed album. The CMHOF usually archives the streams of their events, so look for these and more on their site.

The House Of Songs is its own scene-within-a-scene, and their showcase at InDo featured at least 17 songwriters. https://thehouseofsongs.org/about

Brandy Zdan, Danni Nichols, Dylan Earl, Elles Bailey, Jamie Freeman, Jaimee Harris, Jonathan Terrell, Ordinary Elephant, Judy Blank, Nick Nace, Kimmie Rhodes, Western Youth, Robert Vincent, Megan Palmer, Ali Holder, Phoebe Hunt, and Jane Ellen Bryant were there. I’m sorry if I missed any names.

Kimmie Rhodes has been part of the Austin country scene for decades, and her daughter Jolie Goodnight is also well known in Austin.

Jaimee Harris not only played with a full band, but also sang with three of the other stage lineups, so I’d say she was the MVP of the House Of Songs InDo event.

I stopped by City Winery afterwards to catch Sean McConnell’s set, and I caught the last bit of the set by Shawn Colvin and Buddy Miller beforehand.

This morning, I got an early start and settled in on the 27th floor of the Westin Hotel for Under The Sun. It was the single most scheduled event out of 500 or so on the Americanafest app, and featured 14 acts from 11-6:30: Jim Lauderdale, Nicki Bluhm, Suzy Bogguss, Gretchen Peters, Corb Lund, Drivin N Cryin, Strung Like a Horse, JP Harris, Michael Logen, Caleb Caudle, Scott Mulvahill, Lauren Morrow, Jesse Terry, and Magnolia Boulevard. 

Interestingly, several of these artists, including Suzy Bogguss, aren’t considered “official Americanafest showcasing artists,” whatever the hell that means.

Jim Lauderdale has been the country heart of Americanafest since the beginning.

JP Harris released a duets EP Friday that features Malin Pettersen, Elizabeth Cook, Erin Rae, and Miss Tess.

In the evening, I spent a couple of hours at City Winery. I saw Michaela Anne, who has a new album coming out very soon, and Norway’s Malin Pettersen. I was tired, so I didn’t stay for the late shows, but three dozen acts in two days was pretty awesome.


9/13/19 Nashville Trip – Part 4

I’ve been too busy to do my usual list of new music releases for the week, but I will mention a few items. I will add to my September Country Plus list as I can, and there are 74 entries so far: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_FemLPcAnqZM3UUNrx8AUP

Marti Brom has a new album out today, and “Lasso Mr Moon” is now added to my list. The Quebe Sisters’ new video is out, and check out those sibling harmonies ! Miranda Lambert and a whole bunch of cool guests released a cover of the 1975 pop hit “Fooled Around And Fell In Love.” I placed this one next to The Highwomen. Carly Pearce and Jeannie Seely teamed up for a cover of the country classic “Making Believe.” Outside of country, Salvo (the rebirth of Pain) released their new album, and I even found a song from that for my list, which includes a little yodelling.

My plan yesterday was to go to WMOT’s deal at War Memorial for the first couple of acts, then move on, but I lucked into front row and near the center and settled in to enjoy all six acts, who played for an hour apiece. War Memorial is a special place to see a show, and was the home of the Grand Ole Opry during WWII: https://www.wmarocks.com/about/timeline/

I have posted this before, but here are actual Opry show recordings from that era: https://archive.org/details/GrandOleOpryOtr

I also visited the adjacent Tennessee Military Museum, and Kris Kristofferson donated some of the cool photos on display there.

Robert Randolph and his Family Band blend gospel, blues, and rock, but the main event is RR playing the steel guitar (both electric lap steel and pedal steel). This is the sort of artist “Americana” was meant to describe – an act naturally rooted in this variety of styles, but with their own style that doesn’t completely fit under any one. What a fun way to begin the show, and I got a cool souvenir, as Robert Randolph threw me a thumbpick after the show.

Next up was The Mavericks, who began their set with a cover of John Anderson’s “Swingin'” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart,” before digging into their own thirty-year catalog. Another highlight was a fine cover of the famous bilingual country hit “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” by Freddy Fender.

This was my second time this week to see Tami Neilson, but that’s okay, because she’s a lot of fun. I’ll also mention how wonderful the audience was all day. I am here by myself, and people offered to save my seat while I went to the concession or restroom between sets.

Aaron Lee Tasjan is mostly rock and roll, but there were blues and alt-country elements, too. He started off his set mentioning Blaze Foley, and later mentioned Todd Snider, so that gives some points of reference.

Shawn Colvin released a solo acoustic album today that is a remake of her album from thirty years ago. The “Sunny Came Home” singer’s solo performance surprisingly began with a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” and I’m surprised how well it worked.

The Record Company from Los Angeles are a rock and roll band, but with prominent blues influences. They can hit you with a straight up rock song with an extended electric guitar solo, or a blues stomper with electric lap steel or harmonica.

For the evening, I moved on to another WMOT event, Music City Roots, which will move to a state of the art new facility in Madison in late 2020 or early 2021. Jim Lauderdale kicked things off by singing with the first act, North Mississippi All Stars, who play mostly blues.

The next act was Sierra Hull, who is mostly known for bluegrass mandolin, but her band this time also included a double bass, an electric guitar, and a saxophone. She said she got the idea when she heard the sax player covering Ralph Stanley at a bluegrass festival.

Lauren Morrow has a classic country voice. If you want to hear a country singer who sounds like a country singer, rather than folk or bluegrass, then this is one you should check out. I happen to like all of those other styles, too, but even the most anal-retentive “that ain’t country” types would be hard pressed to listen to this and say this isn’t country music https://youtu.be/lbIYJvXi-P4

The Milk Carton Kids are a folk duo who have been the hosts of recent Americana awards shows. If Lauren Morrow is a good example of someone who “sounds country,” then this is an example of an act that “sounds folk.”

I had never heard of King Corduroy before, but the Montgomery, Alabama native brought a 14-piece band. I’d say if you like St Paul and the Broken Bones or Nathaniel Rateliff, you might give these folks a listen.

The Music City Roots event closed with a massive rendition of Sam and Dave’s ” Soul Man,” featuring all five acts of the evening together. There must have been close to thirty people on stage. Jim Lauderdale had to cut out before that to play his own showcase at a different location.

Also, I enjoyed visiting the Patsy Cline Museum. It’s a fairly small museum, but it’s well done. She apparently loved collecting knick-knacks, which reminded me a lot of my late mother, who was also born in the 1930s.

Dillon Carmichael released a new country song with a title inspired by Jay-Z’s hip hop song 99 Problems, so I included it next to Russian band Country Hell’s country cover of the Jay-Z song on my Hip Hop Meets Country list https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-V1Zm3r_8zuhMVhWlU0O00

9/12/19 Nashville Trip – Part 3

The Country Music Hall Of Fame always has cool shows during Americanafest. The Bluegrass Situation hosted an interview and film presentation with Jeff Hanna and Sam Bush for the 30th anniversary of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will The Circle Be Unbroken 2.” This was Americana before Americana was a thing, and many all-time greats were on those “Circle” records.

The museum was less crowded than the other day, so it was good to pick up any bits I had missed. The Maren Morris display includes notes from her about songwriting, and she mentioned that one song she wrote would fit if she ever released a bluegrass album.

In the afternoon, I headed over to the Americana UK Welcome Party. Unfortunately, the venue was crowded enough that I couldn’t see the stage, though I could hear fine. Robert Vincent, Ferris and Sylvester, and The Rails were the acts. Vincent has a good sound, but by the time I got to the others, the people in the audience began loud conversations with one another (probably since they couldn’t see the stage, anyway).

I then went next door for Miss Tess and the Talkbacks and Martha Spencer. Miss Tess has a new album on the way in February, and she mostly brought a honky tonk sound with steel guitar and double bass. Her new song “True Flood” was just released last week. She also sang a cowboy song with yodelling, which shows her versatility.

Martha Spencer sings bluegrass and Appalachian folk. She has been a guest on the Bluegrass Trail on RFD-TV. I don’t usually comment on fashion, but she really lit up the room with her bright red cowgirl hat and dress with layers of fringe that she put to good use during her final number, where she put her banjo aside for a display of flatfoot dancing. Yes, she’s an old-timey banjo picker with a high, twangy Appalachian voice. Frank Rische is her guitar player, and his sister Lillie Mae is an Americana recording artist.

I returned to the CMHOF for Marty Stuart’s “The Pilgrim.” He has a new book and a deluxe edition of the album to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the album’s release. He said it’s the first time that he performed the album straight through. There were film clips from the original (Ralph Stanley, Johnny Cash, George Jones, etc) to supplement the live performances. Emmylou Harris and Pam Tillis were on the original record, and were among Marty’s special guests, which also included a string section and Gary Carter on steel guitar, and Connie Smith and Chris Stapleton. The 776-seat CMA Theater was an outstanding venue to experience all of this coolness up close. The album tells a story, and is meant to be heard as a whole, and they had fun with it. For instance, Marty talked about being in California while writing for the album, and there was an earthquake warning. He said he wanted to something to remind him of the earthquake, so he thought of Chris Stapleton’s voice and introduced “Earthquake Stapleton” to the stage. Marty had lots of funny bits like that throughout the show. Marty’s mother was in the audience, and it was announced that Garth Brooks and Ricky Skaggs were in attendance, but I didn’t happen to see them. This is the first of three Marty Stuart “artist in residence” shows at the CMHOF.

This was the same time as the Americanafest awards, but I haven’t even looked up which acts did what there. Congratulations to any who did win awards and/or got to perform.

9/11/19 Nashville Trip – Part 2

Yesterday was my first taste of Americanafest 2019, and I chose an outstanding evening of music at the True Music Room at the Cambria, featuring five acts with one-hour sets.

I had never heard of Alexa Rose until I saw her on the Americanafest lineup, but she has a new album on the way October 4th. Her band included steel guitar, and she mentioned that her great grandfather was in a band in Virginia with Lester Flatt, so she has strong country roots. I look forward to hearing the album versions of the songs I heard.

Alice Wallace has a great voice, and she can yodel like crazy. There’s a lot of “California country” in her style, and I have included her songs on various playlists. If she plays anywhere near, go to the show. She’s outstanding, and there just aren’t too many top-notch yodellers like her these days. Be sure to see her if you get the chance.

Next up were a couple of western swing bands. Before Big Cedar Fever’s set, I saw The Farmer and Adele in the audience, and I enjoyed chatting with them a minute. They said they didn’t have any official Americanafest dealings. They’re based in Nashville, and just wanted to enjoy the evening supporting the other western swing bands. The legendary Ranger Doug (Riders in the Sky, The Time Jumpers) was in the audience with them.

We have seen the western swing trio Big Cedar Fever a number of times in San Marcos, including before they chose the band name. It’s neat to see them go from playing the little local places in San Marcos to now playing Americanafest. If you like the old-timey western swing sound from a young band, check ’em out.

The Quebe Sisters have a new video coming out in a couple of days, and a new album next week. These young ladies have perfect sibling harmonies (Andrew Sisters-ish) and their triple fiddle action is delightful. The Quebe Sisters would be as at home on RFD-TV or the Opry or a bluegrass festival or an old-time fiddle event or of course anything related to western swing.

The final act of the night was Tami Neilson. The Canadian vocal powerhouse moved to New Zealand 15 years ago, and she said her flight took 22 hours from New Zealand to get to Nashville. There’s a lot of rockabilly in her style, but also country, and she also covered James Brown. Her new album will be released next Valentine’s Day. She is a unique personality with a huge voice.

The rest of Americanafest has its work cut out to match the high quality of music I saw from these five acts.

I also saw the Dolly Parton exhibit adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry house. The actual displays are just a few cases of stage wear, but the main feature is an enjoyable film presentation featuring an interview with Dolly and some video clips from her performances. The Dolly exhibit opened just last week.

I also went to the Johnny Cash Museum, which is as cool as one would expect. There are bits about the Carter Family, Sun Records, a panel about his philanthropy,a panel about his artwork, and anything else you can think of related to Johnny Cash. The “Johnny Cash Remixed” album that I mentioned here the other day is officially considered part of his discography, and songs from that album are on the headphones along with his other music.

9/10/19 Nashville Trip – Part 1

I listened to whatever radio stations I could find on the long drive, so I’ll start with some praise for some excellent country radio stations in Texas. Yes, I said “excellent country radio.” I started out with the great Americana station KNBT FM: https://radionb.com/knbt

KOKE FM in Austin has a weak enough signal that I have trouble picking it up in San Marcos, but I can pick it up around Kyle/Buda. They play some modern mainstream country, plenty of Texas country/Red Dirt, and mix in the country classics. This time, I even heard The Time Jumpers. When’s the last time you turned on a radio station and heard western swing ? Coolness. https://kokefm.com/

Unfortunately, the signal doesn’t carry very far, but Austin has a good variety of stations. This time, I picked up a little of the iHeart station KVET after my KOKE signal gave out. The first song they played was classic George Strait. Yes, even “corporate stations” in Texas include good music. I’m looking at the “recently played” on their website, and the last two songs were from Conway Twitty and Tracy Lawrence. They play the modern people, too, but they make an effort to include some country tradition in the mix.

I listened to another iHeart station once that station gave out, Waco 100. They played more modern top 40 type country, but mix in a few older selections to keep it grounded. I am looking at their website now, and here were the ten most recent played on their station: George Strait, Billy Currington, Chris Janson, Brooks and Dunn, Midland, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Russell Dickerson, Dierks Bentley, and Carrie Underwood.

95.9 The Ranch out of Fort Worth is like KOKE in Austin in that it’s a well respected station among traditional country fans and very involved with curating their local scene, yet their signal is weak. I tried to pick it up when I passed through east Dallas, but the signal was good for a total of one song. The good news is that it was Stapleton-era Steeldrivers. I was very happy to hear that one. https://www.959theranch.com/

I was able to ride 95.3 The Range a long way, and they’re very much into traditional country, Texas country, and Americana. They played such acts as Wade Bowen, Cody Jinks, Tyler Childers, Chris Stapleton, and the Infamous Stringdusters.They mixed in a good many classic country songs, too. I even heard Charli McClain. http://khyi.com/

I heard various pop country stations in between those others, and during my drive through Arkansas and Tennessee, but there’s even a bit of quality mixed in there- Luke Combs, Jon Pardi, Midland,etc. I heard “More Hearts Than Mine” by Ingrid Andress in Texarkana. Yes, there’s a lot of crap on mainstream radio, but especially in Texas, there’s also some good.

I heard some women on the various stations along my 900-mile drive, too: Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Runaway June (heard theirs a whole lot), Lindsey Ell, Carly Pearce, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Kacey Musgraves,and Maddie and Tae. Obviously, it would be nice to hear even more women in the mix, but I definitely heard more this time than on a big road trip last year.

I attended Wynonna’s big interview session at the CMHOF (and I got there early and got on the first row). This lengthy interview is available for streaming at the CMHOF website. Wy and Cactus are quite funny. She has a new song coming out this week from an upcoming album on Anti Records. I enjoyed her last record, too. The video package before her interview included the video for “Ain’t No Thing” from that album:https://youtu.be/HdN8esuHT-g

The CMHOF itself is always a treat. I saw the new exhibits for Brooks and Dunn and Kacey Musgraves, and the reworked display on the early country roots. I have an annual pass to the CMHOF, so I will return there often this week. It’s such a nice place to enjoy as a “home base” during a festival.

I saw some of the honky tonk singers on Broadway. Taryn Papa was at Ole Red (which has awesome homemade tater tots). I saw her there earlier this year, too. She’s mostly modern country, but her set included a bit of everything, from classic country to Justin Bieber.

John and Lois Shepherd have been fixtures at Robert’s Western World for decades. John said he started playing Broadway in 1972. Lois didn’t perform, but I happened to sit next to her in the audience. She mostly wrote songs (including some cool trucker songs), and John sings them. Here’s an article from 2014: https://lifeisamakerfaire.com/2014/07/18/story/

John’s biggest hit, surprisingly, is the Miller Beer jingle, and he’s very proud of the fact that he got to sing it at the Grand Ole Opry https://longingforasong.com/2014/10/13/a-love-letter-straight-from-my-heart/

Two years ago, I was in Nashville for Americana week, and spent a Monday afternoon at Legends Corner listening to Katie Marie, then Kinsey Rose. I’m in town again for Americana week, and again, I went to Legends Corner on a Monday afternoon and saw these acts. I barely caught the last part of Katie Marie’s set this time. She’s a singer and a fiddler. Kinsey Rose’s band features steel guitar a whole lot. There was a Scottish songwriter in the audience who was visiting town, and she let him play a new original song backed by her band. I’m sorry I didn’t catch the guy’s name.

I saw the great Dwight Yoakam at the Ryman, which is one of the legendary places to see a show. Unfortunately, Dwight had voice problems due to what he referred to as a laryngitic virus. He powered through a full length show, despite the difficulty. He said he wanted to schedule another show at the Ryman after his voice gets back to normal.

Despite apologizing repeatedly to the audience, Dwight still put on a fun show, as he always does. At one point, he said that because his voice was different from usual, it seemed like a good time to try a Willie Nelson tune. Then, he lost his place near the end of the song, because he got distracted by doing that crazy thing with his leg. It was hilarious to hear him say it that way. He joked that if his voice became more of a whisper, he’d need to switch to covering Bill Anderson. You could tell Dwight was frustrated, but also how much it meant to him to entertain the audience.

This was my fourth year in a row to see Dwight perform, and each time was a different experience. Three years ago, I saw his interview session at the CMHOF, promoting his bluegrass album. Two years ago, I saw him with country-rock opener The Steel Woods. Last year, we saw the LSD tour at Red Rocks, Colorado with alt-country artists Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, and King Leg.

When I bought the ticket to see Dwight at the Ryman this year, no opener was listed, but our opener was hip hop/country act Willie Jones. You could tell that it meant a lot to young Mr Jones to be at the Ryman, and his parents were in the audience. Unfortunately, his style is closer to Florida Georgia Line than Dwight Yoakam. To Willie Jones’ credit, he did try to “country up” by including a nice Randy Travis cover. Most of his set had more of a hip hop feel, complete with DJ/hypeman. His closing song featured TI’s “Whatever You Like,” which just seemed weird at a Dwight Yoakam concert at the Ryman. The crowd seemed to respond well, regardless.

Anyway, I’m having a great time, and I’m glad to have a few minutes to share some of this great music vacation with my readers. I’ll be here all week for Americanafest and beyond, so I look forward to learning and sharing even more.

In other news, my September list just topped 50 songs https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_FemLPcAnqZM3UUNrx8AUP

9/8/19 Square Dancing Buffaloes

The history of square dance, by the Country Dance & Song Society: https://www.cdss.org/56-how-to/square/square-general/63-history-of-square-dance

The Square Dance History Project: http://squaredancehistory.org/

Despite all this history, I can’t think of too many good examples of square dancing in modern country music, other than the legendary Opry Square Dancers. Keep in mind the “barn dance” history of the Grand Ole Opry: https://www.opry.com/history

In 1952, Ralph Sloan and the Tennessee Travelers square dancers began playing the Opry. Ralph’s brother Melvin continued the tradition in 1980, then the Opry took over management of the rebranded “Opry Square Dancers” after Melvin’s retirement in 2002. I will attend Marty Stuart’s “artist in residence” at the Country Music Hall of Fame September 18th, and the Opry Square Dancers will be among his guests. In fact, the last time I saw the Opry Square Dancers was last year at Marty Stuart’s Late Night Jam at the Ryman Auditorium.

On my “Hip Hop Meets Country Plus” YouTube list, there are square dance-themed songs by such acts as Eminem and Sir Mix-a-Lot. It’s surprisingly more challenging to find such prominent examples of square dance influences in modern country, even from “country traditionalists.”

Let’s begin our buffalo story in 1844 with the publishing of “Buffalo Gal” http://www.balladofamerica.com/music/indexes/songs/buffalogal/index.htm

There were all sorts of variants. I haven’t located the Hilltop Boys version mentioned in this article, but I’m curious to learn more about it: https://www.artforum.com/print/reviews/198306/malcolm-mclaren-65202

The 1941 square dance recording by Carson Robison is perhaps similar, as it was called “Buffalo Boy Go ‘Round The Outside.” https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1213538

Carson Robison is one of the most underappreciated of all early country music figures: http://nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com/Site/inductee?entry_id=4117

“With a continuous studio career from 1924 to 1956, Carson J. Robison is probably the most recorded singer-songwriter in country music history.”

This wasn’t any sort of “hit,” as far as I can tell: https://youtu.be/7nlgRkGyT9o

Fast forward to the early days of hip hop and also the music video era. MTV launched on August 1,1981. “Rapper’s Delight” was released September 16,1979 and is generally considered the first big breakthrough hip hop hit. So, hip hop was just getting big, then MTV came along and the “dance culture” of hip hop was a great fit for the music video format.

Malcolm McLaren is an unlikely figure to appear here. The Englishman was known largely for being the manager of punk band The Sex Pistols: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Malcolm-McLaren

As a bizarre aside, there was a famous marquee in Dallas in 1978 when the Sex Pistols and Merle Haggard were playing the same week https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2018/01/09/the-sex-pistols-came-to-dallas-40-years-ago-this-week-and-bled-all-over-the-snow/

Malcolm McLaren’s unusual 1982 hip hop take on “Buffalo Gals” proved to be popular. https://youtu.be/HCBN7lyLT4w

Less known is the traditional version B-side: https://youtu.be/qsV_542kOx0


Keep in mind how new and fresh hip hop and MTV were in 1982. It’s no surprise that even bigger things were in store, as one huge hip hop artist after another sampled McLaren’s hip hop take on a square dance tune.

In 1988, Neneh Cherry had a major hit called “Buffalo Stance,” which sampled McLaren. In 1989, Neneh Cherry and Malcolm McLaren collaborated for a “Buffalo Mix” https://youtu.be/zwbrJDGgu64

In 2002, Eminem’s tremendously successful “Without Me” also draws from McLaren with “two trailer park girls go ’round the outside.” https://youtu.be/YVkUvmDQ3HY

The same 2002 Eminem album included an Eminem original called “Square Dance” https://youtu.be/6JX8j3vwrIA

Sometimes, country music history is preserved in ways one wouldn’t expect.

9/6/19 Forty Songs

My 2019 Country Plus Showcase series is rolling along, with 40 artists so far on the September list: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_FemLPcAnqZM3UUNrx8AUP

The January-February list features 160, and has the most views by far of my 2019 lists: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-kwTHYUZwwwF1RGBkE2CP1

The March-April list features over 200: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-bwAXPAD9vVn5DA_X-Xhka

The May list is the one where I stretched the boundaries a bit more, and it’s up to 680: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09cdworoiMzVB8_CdCxVZJ-

The June list is by far my least viewed (under 200 views), but features 200: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-wdHepjkgDCr8-Sp2DsYTJ

The July list features over 200, and thankfully the views came back: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_p3uv1wJwiGcf7DPaCfMRg

The August list features over 200: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q

Of course, nobody has time to listen to all that, but my goal is to create a “sampler,” just a small taste of the depth and breadth of the universe of new music.

I also maintain several “specialty” lists that aren’t limited to new music. My new Island Country Vibe list is up to 44 songs: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09gcNdHaAXRxhYc8-scNOUi

9/5/19 New Albums This Week

Crystal Gayle, The Likely Culprits, Jason Tyler Burton, Ronstadt Brothers, Natalie Padilla, Paul Cauthen, The Highwomen, Home Free, Katie Thompson, Pickled Okra, The Wood Brothers, These Wild Plains, Riding Wayward, Ana Egge, Will Payne Harrison, Antonio Moraes, Trailer Park Idlers, Amy Speace, Terri Hendrix, Jenny Anne Mannan, Meghan Patrick, NRBQ, Kerrie Fuller, The Belles, Rachel Harrington, and Katrina Parker.

I can’t leave it at that without it being my shortest-ever blog entry, so I’d better dig up something else to tell the two or three people and/or bots who might read it.

The fifth annual West Alabama Fiddle Fest/Southeastern Fiddle Championship announced that their next event will be held June 12-13, 2020 at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This will be the first time at this location, and it should be a great place to hold the event, since it is indoors, and there is ample parking. The Grascals (who have performed at the Grand Ole Opry over 200 times) will be special guest performers. I used to be the webmaster for this event, and created the FB page for it. Carolina Blue was the special guest at the 2019 event in Fayette.

Speaking of bluegrass, we watched the new 2-hour bluegrass documentary over the weekend, “Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass” https://www.pbs.org/show/big-family-story-bluegrass-music/

On the other end of the country music-related spectrum, hip-hop/rap artist Afroman released a little-known album of country covers in 2011 called “Save A Cadillac, Ride A Homeboy.” Here’s his take on the John Conlee hit, “Common Man”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh1oVGRb41I&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-V1Zm3r_8zuhMVhWlU0O00&index=45

Here’s the John Conlee original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7km_u6Bhr6Q

I’ll close out today’s post with some classic Crystal Gayle videos from the 1970s:

Crystal Gayle and The Muppets, “River Road” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHTCPkSxHss

Crystal Gayle and the Muppets, “We Must Believe in Magic” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXnKf4XrRxY

Crystal Gayle’s first TV appearance in 1970, “Ribbon of Darkness” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9Srs9FbjIQ

9/3/19 Keep On Truckin’

Before we get to today’s post, here’s the new September Country Plus Showcase: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_FemLPcAnqZM3UUNrx8AUP

There are just two songs so far, but each represents a new album released today. Jenny Anne Mannan is the sister of Luke Bulla, who is also known in the bluegrass and Americana scenes. The Ronstadt Brothers are the nephews of Linda Ronstadt. They used to perform with their father Michael, who passed away in 2016.

Now, for today’s subject, truck and trucker songs, country and otherwise. Spinditty published an informative article last year about “The Trucker Song In Country Music,” which includes entries as far back as the 1930s: https://spinditty.com/playlists/The-Trucker-Song-in-Country-Music

Here are “10 Not-So-Classic Trucking Songs” from a 2014 article by Go By Trucking: https://www.gobytrucknews.com/10-not-so-classic-trucking-songs/123

From the Spinditty article: “C.W. McCall was born Bill Fries in 1928 in Audubon, Iowa. Fries invented his alter ego while working in the advertising business. In 1975, at the height of the CB radio craze, he recorded “Convoy”, a humorous song about a convoy of trucks that give smokeys a run for his money. It was a monster hit, and Fries made six albums before retiring from music when his MGM contract ran out.

(Fries’ backup band continued working without him, eventually taking the name Mannheim Steamroller and recording several highly successful Christmas albums in a decidedly different genre.)”

The fun doesn’t stop there, though. Here’s Blowfly’s profanity-riddled rap “Convoy” from 1980: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4PT6QAEDd4

There are countless examples of country trucker songs, of course. One of the most unlikely combinations in the last decade worked surprisingly well, LoCash and George Jones, “Independent Trucker”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwHO7_reJCs&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_STDPd0CJaA3dFiEWiiT4R&index=5&t=0s

Brooks and Dunn first recorded the Chris Stapleton-Jeffrey Steele write “Independent Trucker” on a 2004 album. There are videos from as far back as 2008 of LoCash covering the song at live shows. Here’s the story of how George Jones ended up on the LoCash album version in 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NlNivQKdRQ

Jeffrey Steele included a version of the song on his “Sons of the Palomino” album a couple of years ago.

Another song from that very underappreciated “Sons of the Palomino” album is “When Lonely Calls,” which Trisha Yearwood just covered on her own album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX_ZSxzx2AQ

Here’s the “Sons of the Palomino” version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZlH0m7J7Cw

Jeffrey Steele also had a couple of songs on a country reggae album several years ago, so I included one of those on my “Island Country Vibe” list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgrqyK2uihs&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09gcNdHaAXRxhYc8-scNOUi&index=13&t=0s

Here’s a country trucker song in German, from Tom Astor (see also Truck Stop for German trucker songs): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gcf08PewVGM

Trucker songs are popular in Australian country music. This list includes some fine material, like the excellent “A Truckie’s Last Letter” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3xPbp-WonY&list=PL1y8lqXpbJr6V0c3_o43pwSpK-IB63vUa

“Kamikaze Kangaroo” is hilarious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMsm3R536HM&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09OfzcFwcXG8kIdG-WVMaCQ&index=15&t=0s

Weird Al Yankovic infrequently covers country, but here’s his country trucker spoof song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdQHRxH82PM

The Key of Awesome also infrequently covered country, but here’s their country spoof truck song (a truck song, as opposed to a trucker song): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB2KyWYUhmA

After those silly songs, I’ll close out today’s post with Marty Stuart’s excellent “Whole Lotta Highway,” since I’m going to see him next week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KibsU8eQap8

9/2/19 Mining Rubies

Since yesterday’s post was about mining coal, I’ll follow it up with digging for gems with “Ruby” in the title. For a starting place, here’s an article from the “My Top Ten” blog called “My Top Ten Ruby Songs” http://histopten.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-top-ten-ruby-songs.html?m=1

Their top pick is the classic Mel Tillis-penned “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,” which is especially known as a Kenny Rogers hit in 1969. An earlier recording, though, was Waylon Jennings in 1966: https://youtu.be/HDwNYMdjuEA

This recording appeared on Waylon’s 1967 album, “Love For The Common People.” The album also includes Waylon’s take on The Beatles’ “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” https://youtu.be/E6qPoB_lALY

Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame recorded a version of “Ruby” on his 1970 album, “The New World Of Leonard Nimoy.” The album also includes his take on the Johnny Cash hit, “I Walk The Line” https://youtu.be/EFjUOvBJrRI

The Killers released a cover of “Ruby” in 2004: https://youtu.be/8x0BPTHGb5A

Dori Helms released an answer song to “Ruby” in 1967 called “Ruby’s Answer” https://youtu.be/ep2aw18vhIA

Dori Helms’ work isn’t well known, but she was the wife of Bobby Helms. Bobby recorded such hits as “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Fraulein.”

We attended Colter Wall’s Austin City Limits taping Friday. He didn’t include his version of “Fraulein” there, but here it is:https://youtu.be/utbxHliZqmg