7/15/19 56 and Counting

Going into July, I didn’t know of a whole lot of new music on the way until August, but as usual, a bunch of music magically appeared.

The July new music list is up to 56 varied artists: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_p3uv1wJwiGcf7DPaCfMRg

To my surprise, the July list already has more views than my 191-artist June list. I don’t pay to advertise or market any of my stuff, so I have no idea why some of my lists get many more views than others, but here’s the June one again: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-wdHepjkgDCr8-Sp2DsYTJ

Granted, some of these are better than others, but July so far is still a more robust showing than I was expecting. I’ll see how many more I find this week to determine whether this will be just a July list or a July-August list. If I think I can hit a hundred, I’ll probably keep it as just a one-month list.

One of the artists who released music in July is Kenny Chesney, who had the top-grossing country tour last year ($114.3 million !). Here is the Forbes list of the top ten grossing music tours of 2018: https://www.forbes.com/sites/hughmcintyre/2018/12/06/these-are-the-10-highest-grossing-tours-of-2018

The Chesney entry I chose to include for July is a guest spot with Caroline Jones. This is lightweight summer beach music, but there’s a market for that. Considering that Caroline Jones has opened shows for Buffett, Chesney, and Zac Brown, this is a logical lane for her.

For those who prefer their country on the honky tonk side, check out the new video from Gethen Jenkins on the July list. I saw him in San Marcos last year.

I even found a couple more to add to my May new music list, which is now at 555 artists, making this the largest of my lists, even though it covers just one month: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09cdworoiMzVB8_CdCxVZJ-

I changed out a couple of songs on my Odds and Ends list. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBuk1HXcz1k&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_pvQKkaTWk_mMuZBq0AHJC

For something a little more mellow, my Interesting Intrumentals list is up to 279 entries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yADSV-_b4pM&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-6BHcuXYX13cajGpJpKl8Z&index=258


7/14/19 Playback Country in Pop By The Nines

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, let’s look at the pop charts from the same years, per Playback FM, paying particular attention to the country and western songs or artists whose popularity crossed over into the wider culture.

1949: https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/1949

The top few songs on this 1949 “pop” chart are songs that also showed up on country charts, and you’ll also find such iconic country names as Hank Williams, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Eddy Arnold, and Ernest Tubb. Country music was apparently quite popular “at large” in 1949.

Okay, 1959 https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/1959

There’s not as much “country” at the top of this chart as the 1949 pop chart, but there’s some. At number three is Elvis Presley’s version of “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I.” This was a country hit years earlier for Hank Snow. Johnny Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans” is number four. Down the list a way are such well-known country names as The Browns,Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, and Stonewall Jackson.

1969: https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/1969

Rock and roll appears to dominate the 1969 pop list, but even then, it’s important to make the distinction that 1969-and-earlier rock and roll generally had a lot more country in its musical DNA than most of what became known as “rock” decades later. I highly recommend a visit to Memphis and its museums to understand the roots of rock and roll more fully, and to appreciate the give and take with country music.

At number four is “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones, who released a country version called “Country Honk” months later. Supposedly, the countrier arrangement was the original idea.

Elvis Presley came in at number five and six, and the writers of each of these songs worked more in country than not. Mac Davis, who wrote “In The Ghetto,” was even a country singer himself who won ACM Entertainer of the Year in 1974.

Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, and BJ Thomas all made this 1969 “pop” list, too.

1979: https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/1979

Country elements appear to be few and far between, compared to the earlier lists. I do see Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, and Anne Murray down the page.

There are some tangential connections,though. The Boot published an article years ago about Donna Summer’s country connections https://theboot.com/donna-summer-country-music-nashville/

The Pointer Sisters won a Grammy for country in 1974.

When I attended CMA Fest last month, I heard Caylee Hammack cover Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

1989: https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/1989

There’s not a lot of country here, but several of the people down the list either also made country music or had country influences. Linda Ronstadt’s duet with Aaron Neville came in at number thirty two.

Tina Turner recorded country music earlier in her career, including a 1974 album.

Richard Marx has more songwriting credits in country than one might guess. Rolling Stone published an article about this a few years ago: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/songwriter-spotlight-richard-marx-244972/

Don Henley and Edie Brickell also make the list. Tom Petty is a major influence on many of today’s country and southern rock acts. I guess I should mention Aerosmith, since Steven Tyler tinkered with country. Michael Jackson sang backup vocals on a Kenny Rogers song one time, and Wide Open Country wrote an article about it last year: https://www.wideopencountry.com/michael-jackson-country-kenny-rogers/

1999: https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/1999

Shania Twain checks in at number twenty eight, but otherwise, there’s not much to report.

Sixpence None The Richer has some “Americana” influences, and Leigh Nash released a country album in 2015. It received a bit of critical acclaim, but wasn’t that widely covered. Check it out !

Britney Spears’ sister Jamie Lynn Spears is a country songwriter, and Britney surprised her sister at the Grand Ole Opry in 2016: https://youtu.be/eB26bbxJnEU

Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” is worth mentioning, in light of the recent controversy over how to classify western-themed hip hop songs.

2009: https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/2009

Taylor Swift was classified as a country artist at this time, so that’s the main one. Several others have since collaborated with country stars or dabbled in country to some minor degree: Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus, and Beyonce.

Colbie Caillat has a new project called “Gone West,” which is operating in the country format. They were at CMA Fest, and have appeared at the Grand Ole Opry.

Country influences aren’t as strong on mainstream popular music as in 1949, but that should be expected, given the demographic shifts. Society isn’t nearly as rural as it used to be.

I’ll close with a link to the 1900 pop number ones: https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/1900

“Country music,” as such, wasn’t invented yet, or at least marketed as such, but look at the song titles. This material didn’t yet sound like the country music that developed later, but there are some familiar themes, like serenading the lady, nostalgia for home, drinking songs, and so on.

7/13/19 Playback To The Nines

Playback FM maintains a top 100 list of country songs for each year from 1944 to 2014. As a fun exercise, let’s look back at the lists for 1949, 1959,1969,1979,1989,1999, and 2009. http://playback.fm/charts/country/1949

The first thing that stands out to me on the 1949 is the amount of Christmas music. The next bit that grabs me is that Eddy Arnold has six of the top twenty. You can look at any of the other charts from that era to see what a dominant artist he was for many years. Also, notice the western and even polka on the 1949 chart.

On to 1959, https://playback.fm/charts/country/1959

We quickly see such familiar names as Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, George Jones, and so many other giants of country music history. At number ten, though, is Simon Crum. Oh, that’s the alter ego of Ferlin Husky that he used for comedy material, and this alter ego scored this multiple week number one. Game show host Wink Martindale is on the list at 37. I see whispering Bill Anderson on the list. Here we are, sixty years later, and he is going strong, appearing very frequently on the Grand Ole Opry. There’s some bluegrass on the 1959 list, too: Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, and a particularly strong showing for Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.

On to 1969: https://playback.fm/charts/country/1969

Most of the names here are very, very familiar to most country music fans. A few of the names down the page are worth mentioning, too. I saw Johnny Bush at Willie Nelson’s 4th, and I have seen Linda Gail Lewis a couple of times in the last couple of years. Jeannie Seely is a fixture at the Opry. I saw several acts at CMA Fest the last couple of years who are on the 1969 list: Charley Pride, Bobby Bare, Tommy Cash, Kenny Rogers, and Bill Anderson.

On to 1979: https://playback.fm/charts/country/1979

I was seven at the time, so I am getting into even more familiar territory. Notice that Kenny Rogers had the top spot, and three of the top nine. I don’t know that the younger generation really understands just how huge he was for a while. Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” has only grown in stature. A lot of the people on the 1979 list are still performing. Ronnie Milsap released an album this year, and Tanya Tucker and Crystal Gayle have albums on the way. Emmylou Harris will be at the Marty Stuart event at the CMHOF in September. I saw Gene Watson at Willie’s 4th. I saw Larry Gatlin and John Conlee at the Opry. I met TG Sheppard at CMA Fest, and he’s working on new music, and now hosts a segment on the SiriusXM Elvis channel.

On to 1989: https://playback.fm/charts/country/1989

I’m from Alabama, and the group Alabama was an even bigger deal in the state than nationally, and they were huge nationally. When one discusses the evolution of country music into “arena country,” the group Alabama should figure prominently. I met Shenandoah at CMA Fest last year, but didn’t realize how big they were back in 1989. I wasn’t following country music very closely at the time. Kathy Mattea and Baillie and the Boys also had good years in 1989.

On to 1999: https://playback.fm/charts/country/1999

Kenny G at number 3 and NSYNC at number 27 ? Alrighty then. It does look like about 30 of the 100 are women, and I use “about” because of groups. This was the era of Faith, Shania, Dixie Chicks, SheDaisy,etc. Tim McGraw had three of the top eleven.

On to 2009, https://playback.fm/charts/country/2009

Uncle Kracker and Taylor Swift were in the top ten. Most of the names from the 2009 are still going strong. I will point out a couple of songs in the second half of the list, though. The Steel Magnolia song that came in at number 60 was written by Chris Stapleton and Trent Willmon. Kellie Pickler is at 64, and I think she’s one of the more underappreciated artists of the last decade (a mainstream “woman of country” who actually sounds country). Jamey Johnson’s signature song “In Color” landed at 66, and deserved more support than it received from radio (peaking at number 9 on weekly country airplay).


7/12/19 Playlist Updates

As usual, I cast a wide net for my new music lists. I started the day with 25 songs, and I’m now at 40. I might go back and change out a few of those, but for now, I’m grabbing songs as I find them. I’ll then go back and see how they fit together, or if they really fit at all. Check back often, because I’m always tinkering with these lists:

Midland’s new song starts off with some phased guitar, and a good dose of steel guitar kicks in later. This is good stuff ! Although I live in Hays County, TX and they’re listed from across the county in Dripping Springs, the only time I’ve gotten to see them was at the Brooks and Dunn CMT Crossroads taping in Nashville. Hopefully, timing will work out one of these days to catch a full show.

Chris Stapleton returned to touring this week, and tested out a new song. Fortunately, someone took a video with their phone. As a cool bonus, the still frame is on Paul Franklin’s steel guitar. That makes a great thumbnail for my whole list. Chris’ last album was released in December of 2017, and he has had three children since. Other than a few collaborations or soundtrack side projects, this is the first new song I’ve heard from him since this album, so that is very welcome news. He hasn’t announced any tour dates in my area this year, but I’ll see him in September as one of Marty Stuart’s guests at the CMHOF.

Luke Combs continued his series of releasing a live version of an unreleased song on Thursdays, so that’s another obvious choice to include on a list. Luke also announced some new arena dates. Flatland Cavalry will be the opener for the San Antonio show, so that is a great opportunity for them.

Barnyard Stompers, Sydney Adams, and Joseph Huber all released albums today, and I quickly found a song from each to include. Be sure to check out all of those albums. I always look for “wild cards” to include, and the Matlen Starsley Band song qualifies. They’re a “southern rock” band from Vancouver. I do include some southern rock on my country plus lists, but I also have a 50-song southern rock plus list: http:// https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_bYlp0JhEwQrLHaURsl7ER

Billy Strings released a song from his upcoming album.

I included the Chris Young and Lauren Alaina duet, even though like most of Chris Young’s recent releases, I think the production detracts. I like Lauren’s voice, and want to give her a chance.

I found a new song to add to my Odds & Ends, But Mostly Odds list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1cfpMjbwXo&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_pvQKkaTWk_mMuZBq0AHJC&index=42&t=0s

7/10/19 New Music

Before I get started on today’s topic, congratulations to Jesse McReynolds for celebrating his 90th birthday at the Grand Ole Opry last night. The mandolin legend has been an Opry member for over 55 years, and is still playing.

I do have 25 artists so far on my July new music showcase (and since switching to this “block” format, I haven’t found how to annotate the hyperlink) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_p3uv1wJwiGcf7DPaCfMRg

I will admit that there’s not a tremendous amount of “very country” music to be found on here so far. I can only pick from what is released, though. I do have entries from Dubai, Sweden, UK, Australia, and Indonesia, so it’s not like I’m not searching. One of the recent additions to my July list is from Kelsey Waldon. I saw her at the Bluebird Cafe with Carlene Carter for a Guy Clark tribute at Americanafest three years ago. I have probably posted this before at some point, but I found some of her very early work on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/anchorinthevalley

I created a Chris Stapleton Plus list on Soundcloud a few years ago. I haven’t done much with it, but it includes a couple of Chris songs and a couple of Sturgill songs that aren’t on their main albums. There’s a Morgane demo, Dillon Carmichael singing a Neal James song a few years ago, one of the young Kelsey Waldon songs, and a couple of very cool songs that Chris wrote that Logan Brill recorded: https://soundcloud.com/user-352594262/sets/stapleton-and-more

I found more songs to add to my June YouTube new music list, too. Now at 190 artists, the June list has under one view per song (since it doesn’t count my own views), which is kind of pitiful, because there’s some good stuff mixed in there. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-wdHepjkgDCr8-Sp2DsYTJ

July looks a bit slow for albums, but I have found some releases for this week: Joseph Huber, Sydney Adams, The Barnyard Stompers, The Steel Wheels, Patrick McAvinue, Clare Bowen, Myra Rolen, Emily Ann Roberts, The Late Night Benedictions, Jeff Huseman, Lacy Cavalier, Queeva, Liar’s Trial, and Have Gun, Will Travel.

Midland has a new song coming out Friday, as does Kenny Chesney, and next week is Miranda Lambert. Miranda’s new music is produced by Jay Joyce. When we saw Ashley McBryde at CMA, it sounded like Ashley’s next album was about done. I haven’t heard any update since. Lainey Wilson also recorded a new album produced by Jay Joyce, but I haven’t seen a release date.

Hits Daily Double published an outstanding interview with Luke Combs. http://m.hitsdailydouble.com/news&id=317123&title=LUKE-COMBS:-THE-PEOPLE’S-STAR-KEEPS-IT-REAL

Chris Stapleton has writing credits on at least three August albums: Sheryl Crow, Kevin Fowler, and Tracy Lawrence. Critics likely won’t ever “get” Kevin Fowler, but beer-guzzlin’ Texnecks do. The guy has spent many years carving out a niche in the Texas market for party music with steel and fiddle, and Cody Johnson and others consider him an influence.

Cliff Cody has a new album coming out in August, and he posted on social media how much it cost him to create the album, and how much he makes per sale or stream on different services. It’s an interesting behind-the-scenes look.

Crystal Gayle has been saying for years that her album of classic country covers was about ready. It appears this project finally set a date, September 16th. https://thatnashvillesound.blogspot.com/2019/07/crystal-gayle-to-release-first-album-in.html

Dallas Moore’s new album will officially be out October 4th, as does Jason James’ album. The Quebe Sisters are September 20. Mickey Lamantia is September 7. The Royal Hounds are August 2. Whew, I’m tired just from typing all that. As usual, I’ll be on the lookout for more new albums to add as I find them.

7/9/19 Hits Daily Double

Well, this is weird. WordPress apparently switched to some sort of “block” format, and I am looking for where the hell the thing is to add a link. http://m.hitsdailydouble.com/news&id=317065

Well, I found it somehow, but this new format is going to take getting used to. The provided link above includes interviews with four of the most influential people in the country music industry. There’s a whole lot to digest. Mike Dungan quotes: “Q: Is streaming helping?” “A: People can look at those numbers as a form of research, but the only people engaging are the young fans. If you’re an older fan, you’re left out in nowhere land. The 38-year-olds, the 45-year-olds, even the 29-year-olds have not embraced streaming—in large part because these services aren’t marketing to them.”

“Country music has made its way by appealing to that 34-year-old housewife with two kids, maybe even a car seat in the van. Do you think she’s streaming? No, she’s given up. And our biggest superstars are 39 years old. Think about that.”

Here’s an outstanding Jon Pardi interview at Hits DD:


The Hits Daily Double Song Revenue Chart shows how much $$$ all these streaming numbers actually generate. http://hitsdailydouble.com/song_revenue_chart

A couple of non-country bits unrelated to the rest of today’s topic:

Hula Hi-Fi has a new album coming out in September. One of the main people in this group is in Maren Morris’ band, but this music sounds very different from anything Maren does- Hawaiian with ukelele and lap steel, and backed by an orchestra. The group put out an album a couple of years ago, which included this Nirvana cover (and country fans will recall Sturgill Simpson’s cover of “In Bloom,” as well): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcnqfSIlPGc

Further out from country, Moon Duo also has an album coming out in September. Their videos are very unusual, and “Cold Fear” from a couple of year back is featured on my Odds & Ends list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwZG_jY9gFs&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_pvQKkaTWk_mMuZBq0AHJC&index=4&t=0s

7/8/19 Always On My Mind, Ten Ways

Here’s a song that has been covered by hundreds of artists. I’m not too formal to provide a link to Wikipedia

Since I saw Willie Nelson sing this one the other day, I thought about the fact that I have heard this one covered by many people. I found one link to three of those:

Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson

Here’s a Spanish cover: Veronica Robles

Chinese cover inspired by the Elvis version ? String of Chinese characters

The 1970 version believed to be the first recording (though not actually released at the time): BJ Thomas

Gwen McCrae- First artist to release a version

Folk instrumental (sounds like hammered dulcimer around 15 seconds in): Nashville Bluegrass Ensemble

Argentinian punk rock ? Pagar y Morir

Here’s a very recent performance:

The Killers, ft The Pet Shop Boys

7/7/19 Random Thoughts

I’m up to 14 artists on my July new music list.

There are already entries from the UK, Sweden, and Indonesia.

CMT coverage of Willie Nelson’s picnic

Cowboys and Indians Magazine article about Gruene Hall

The Mile 0 Fest in Key West released a partial lineup for the event next January. I’m unlikely to ever shell out the $$$ to go to this, but I have seen many of these artists. I’m pretty sure I have seen 27 of these at some point.

On the other end of the country music spectrum… Blanco Brown is best known for “trailer trap,” and released an EP a few weeks ago. “The Git Up” is currently atop country streaming songs and digital sales. Here’s a recent Billboard interview

It’s hard to tell from his “trailer trap” material, but when we saw him at CMA, he also has a good singing voice. He posted a short clip of a cover of Tennessee Whiskey with King Calaway, backstage of the Grand Ole Opry. T-Pain posted on Blanco’s Instagram that he plans to cover Tennessee Whiskey on an upcoming album. T-Pain won the prime time network competition show “Masked Singer.” T-Pain is so well known for his use of auto tune that it surprised most to learn that he is a very good singer. I bet y’all weren’t expecting to read about T-Pain on Robert’s Country Blog !

Luke Bell was listed on the original lineup for the Bristol Rhythm and Roots festival in September, but I notice that he is no longer listed. I’m not sure what is going on there.

Highway Queens posted a review of the new Kacey Musgraves exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame

The Musical Divide posted a review of the recent album from Shane Smith and the Saints

I will see that group for the first time next month at KOKEFest. KOKE is one of the best known Texas country stations. Parker McCollum and Koe Wetzel are among the others I will be seeing for the first time.

Chris Young and Lauren Alaina have a duet coming out July 12th. They are both very capable singers, so I’m curious to hear how this one turns out. Their songs have been hit or miss for me, but the potential is there.

Kane Brown posted that he has a song called “Rodeo” coming out on the 12th, also.

Sydney Adams, Patrick McAvinue, Barnyard Stompers, and Myra Rolen all have new albums coming out this week.

Luke Combs certainly turned in a heartfelt set at Willie’s picnic, with his parents in attendance. One of his band members played pedal steel for most of the set, but dobro on the first song, and electric guitar on another. A cover of Hank Jr’s “All My Rowdy Friends” served as a vehicle for extended introductions to the band members. Well done !

Nick Giese is now playing guitar with David Allan Coe, and wore a Dallas Moore shirt at Willie’s. Another DAC band member wore a Billie Gant shirt. I saw Giese playing in the misting fans during Jamey Johnson’s set.

Thinking back to CMA, I’ll give a shout out to Brett Young. He mentioned that he was grateful for his radio success, but also recognized that the artists on radio are just a small percentage of the artists making music. He said that there were talented artists playing all the time at all of the places on Broadway. Whatever you think of the guy’s music (and I will admit that I am not especially into his musical style), that was a cool thing to do.

7/5/19 Not Much New Music

I was so busy yesterday that I didn’t have much time to look for new releases. Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen released a live album, and it appears a lot of the songs are from the studio album they released in 2015.

I did start my July-August Country Plus Showcase

There’s very little on there now, but I will add songs as I find them. Caroline Jones’ video features the Gulf Shores, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida beach area. I have vacationed in that area my whole life. I didn’t pay all that much attention to the actual song, because I was busy recognizing restaurants and landmarks that I have been to many times.

I posted a short show review of the Willie Nelson picnic on From The Shows – Fan reviews straight from the stage to you

This is a cool Facebook page to post show reviews.

Colter Wall said the new song he recorded in Wimberley, Texas should be out officially in August. His set was very “western” and traditional.

The Raelyn Nelson Band is country-rock, and they played a new song, “Weed and Whiskey.”

Morgane Stapleton posted on Instagram about a new venture in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee called Tennessee Turquoise Company

The new Ed Sheeran song that features Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars is Jompson Brothers-ish rock, and that makes sense considering the Jompson Brothers have writing credits on this, as does Frank Rogers, who has written other songs with Chris Stapleton. The Jompson Brothers’ only album release was in 2010. Chris Stapleton and JT Cure stayed together, but this song is the first mention of the two other Jompson Brothers since the band broke up.

Another of the writers on the song is Frank Rogers. Here’s a great Chris Stapleton article at Relix. Notice the name Frank Rogers when Chris Stapleton was just getting started in Nashville in 2001. It’s a very detailed article all-around.