New Year’s Eve – Twenty More Women

I’ll try to include some I haven’t covered prior- traditional, pop, Americana, and otherwise.

At CMA Fest this summer, I attended a couple of events that featured all women performers: Song Suffragettes at CMA Fest. Lauren Duski was a runner-up on The Voice singing competition, and she has new music on the way. Others on this panel were Savannah Keyes, Lena Stone, Lindsay Ell, Kim Paige, and Lacy Cavalier.

I also attended a similar event at CMA Fest at the CMHOF (Lucie Silvas, Maggie Rose, Jillian Jacqueline, Carly Pearce, and Brandy Clark) , and just found on YouTube where someone uploaded the CMT Next Women of Country video

The “30A Songwriters Festival” is in a couple weeks in Florida. It’s well above what I’d be willing to spend, but it’s worth looking through the roster: Artist Lineup   Mary Gauthier has a new album 1/26/18. Logan Brill  Ruthie Foster  Crystal Bowersox Lilly Hiatt Jade Jackson Bonnie Bishop Farewell Angelina Jaimee Harris 

 

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12/30/17 Updates

I’ll start with what should be a really good one. Courtney Patton’s new album is on its way 2/16/18, and there are free preview clips: What It’s Like to Fly Alone  We saw Courtney and Jason perform at a hurricane benefit show. I had seen Jason three other times this year, but this was my first time to see Courtney. I look forward to selecting songs from her album to add to my 2018 New Country Showcase on YouTube.

A friend who told me to look out for Luke Combs before he hit big said to keep an eye open for Jobe Fortner. I’m not familiar with him, but I see that he’s opening shows for The Steel Woods, and they were one of my favorite “new” acts I saw in the last year.

Dillon Carmichael and Joshua Hedley are also names to keep an ear open for.

Emily Brooke has a 5-song EP set for 1/4/18. I’m not very familiar with this one, since I generally don’t keep up with the televised singing shows, but I’m looking for any new listings I can find at this point.

Bluegrass songwriter Milan Miller’s 6-song EP, “Timepiece,” is due 1/12/18. He released the title song early, and it is doing well on the Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart  Bluegrass Today also maintains charts for “Grassicana” and “Bluegrass Gospel” airplay. When Sirius XM ran a free preview several weeks ago, one song I liked on the bluegrass channel was Gina Clowes’ “Puppet Show,” which I see here on the Grassicana chart.

Award-winning western swing artist Billy Mata is releasing the Tommy Duncan Trilogy Tribute Boxset on 1/1/18, though only the third album is new, and isn’t sold separately.

Here are some parting shots for 2017:

One lowlight of Americanafest was Margo Price no-showing the Tales From The Tour Bus event at the CMHOF. Granted, most artists performed just one song each, but she was listed on the official Americanafest app. I don’t know whether she’s at fault, or the Americana people for advertising an artist who wasn’t there.

Losers hate winners. This is a simple fact of life. If you polled college football fans about the best coaches in the game the last decade, many fans of programs defeated soundly by Nick Saban would exclude Nick Saban. It’s the same thing with many music commenters, bloggers, and media.

 

Here’s a look at Americana radio airplay: 2017 Americana Airplay Chart  Americana seems like just as much a clique as the other. I don’t care for the mainstream country radio, but a lot of this isn’t my thing, either. I’d rather hear some Erin Enderlin, Natalie Hemby, and Steel Woods than nonstop Isbell/Adams/Earle. I mean, not even in the top hundred for the three I mentioned ? There’s no Travis Meadows or Turnpike Troubadours or Rhonda Vincent or Kendell Marvel, either. No offense to the Band of Heathens, an act I saw twice this year, but how did they get so much airplay ?

2017 New Country Showcase drew over 5,000 views, and 2015-2016 is close to 7,000. I post these benchmarks for my own benefit, so that I can go back later and compare. My goal is to showcase music that wasn’t in the top 40, and a few of the artists are so little known that I was literally the first YouTube view when the songs were posted, so hopefully we can keep this same spirit rolling forward in 2018, mixing in some little-known artists with some bigger names that radio has “aged out” or otherwise forsaken.

Enjoy the music !

12/28/17 2018 Forecast

I started this thing at the beginning of the year, and saw a great many acts perform in 2017, including SXSW unofficial showcases, CMA Fest, Americanafest, Grand Ole Opry, a couple of television tapings each for Austin City Limits and Texas Music Scene, Hillbilly Days in Pikeville, KY, and many central Texas shows.

I doubt I’ll get to travel as much in 2018, but I’ll enjoy sharing whatever I do find, and central Texas has tons of live music.  A whole lot of top artists were between albums in 2017. There are plenty of good albums every year, but I’m hoping for another year as strong at the top and as deep as 2015. 2017 was a strong year for old legends, and anything we get from them is a bonus.

For 2018, keep an eye on not just album and song releases, but tour announcements. Look at the people your established stars choose to take on tour as openers. Look at the folks Ashley McBryde opened for, for instance. She might have a big year.  In bluegrass, keep an eye on the O’Connors opening for Zac Brown Band. Look at any act that Chris Stapleton or Miranda Lambert chooses to do shows with, and chances are pretty strong that you’ll find some good music.

 

12/22/17 Three Positive Stories

I’ve mentioned Chris Fullerton and his “Epilepsy Blues” here before, but here’s a feature in the newspaper  earlier this month Austin Statesman article

I’m visiting my 80-year-old aunt for Christmas, and told her about seeing Jo-El Sonnier a couple of days ago, and she remembered seeing him about  thirty years back. Here’s his new book about  dealing with Asperger’s: The Advertiser article

Lone Star Music published an extensive interview with  Savannah Welch earlier this month: Savannah Welch

 

 

12/21/17 A Rockin’ Louisiana Christmas

Last evening, I had the pleasure of attending a concert in Bossier City,  Louisiana to benefit the James Burton Foundation, which partnered with the Art of War charity to donate guitars to dozens of area veterans. There was a lot history on that stage, and it was a great start to our Christmas week to hear these music legends from the first row, and to support a worthy cause.

James Burton himself is in numerous  halls of fame, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Musicians Hall of Fame, and so on. He was Elvis Presley’s guitar player and band leader, but has also appeared on hundreds of other albums, won a Grammy and everything else.

The name Estelle Brown might not be as recognizable, but her list of credits as part of of R&B Hall of Fame group The Sweet Inspirations is also staggering. You’ve almost certainly heard their background vocals for some of the biggest stars of the 1960s and 1970s- Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and on and on.

Jo-El Sonnier and Wayne Toups are Grammy-winning artists and Cajun music icons. They play a variety of styles. Jo-El also had some success in country years ago, and still plays the Opry from time to time. Wayne covered a Christmas tune popularized by Buck Owens. These two guys had some great accordion duets last night. Seriously, look all these folks up for a real slice of American music history.

The backing band all evening was Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, who have been around for a quarter century. There was a featured electric violinist from Serbia, but I didn’t catch his name. He delivered a great version of  “Devil Went Down To Georgia.”

While the music and the history lesson were very satisfying, the best part of all was that the performers, some of whom have health issues, took the time to share their talents with us to do something for our veterans. The James Burton Foundation also helps area children. Thank you to everyone who made this event happen!

12/19/17 The Billboard Charts

Billboard released its 2017 year-long charts, as compiled by Neilsen Music. Their “year” was 12/3/16-11/25/17. Here’s the Billboard Country Update, 12/18/17 in .pdf format.

Country Albums 2017 is topped by Chris Stapleton’s 2015 release “Traveller,” which also topped this chart in 2016, followed by his 2017 release “From A Room, Volume 1.” Among new artists, radio products Kane Brown and Brett Young came in at sixth and seventh, respectively. Sam Hunt’s 2014 release “Montevallo” is at number eight, and… Well, anyway, Miranda Lambert led solo women at number four, followed by Maren Morris at sixteen, and Kelsea Ballerini at twenty seven.

Americana/Folk Albums  also had “Traveller” and “From A Room, Vol 1” as one and two. On the current weekly chart, “From A Room 2” has the top spot, “From A Room 1” the next, and “Traveller” the third.

The Digital Albums 2017 chart paints a pretty bleak picture for country and roots music, as country landed just two spots of the twenty five. Chris Stapleton’s “From A Room, Volume 1,” which happens to be my choice as 2017 album of the year (withstanding the late challenge from the same artist’s December release, which is Volume 2 of the same series), checks in at number eleven, while Stapleton’s “Traveller,” my favorite album this decade, checks in at number twenty five, after finishing 2016 at number five in this category, and number twenty in 2015.

Top Billboard 200 Artists is an all-genre list, which is based on a formula of sales, airplay, and streaming. The country artists in the top hundred are Chris Stapleton 10, Florida Georgia Line 31, Thomas Rhett 34, Keith Urban 38, Garth Brooks 40, Blake Shelton 45, Zac Brown Band 46, Luke Bryan 50, Miranda Lambert 54, Kane Brown 58, Sam Hunt 61, Brett Young 67, Kenny Chesney 69, Jon Pardi 70, Jason Aldean 81, Luke Combs 83, and Maren Morris 95.

Among Streaming Songs , Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” at 24 is the only country-labelled song out of 75. Yeah, I know…

Hot 100 Songs is based on a formula of sales, airplay, and streaming. Among “country” offerings, however loosely that term is used, Sam Hunt is at 8, Brett Young at 57, Kane Brown at 72, Luke Combs at 76, and Dustin Lynch at 94.

Alison Krauss’ “Windy City” topped the Bluegrass Albums chart. It’s a tremendous classic country covers album, but this is one of several quality albums on this chart that I would not have labelled “bluegrass.” Marty Stuart’s “Way Out West” and Rhonda Vincent’s & Daryle Singletary’s “American Grandstand” are also outstanding “retro-country” albums that I enjoy greatly, but I can imagine bluegrass purists really scratching their heads.

Country Airplay has Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” at number one, The Backstreet Boys at thirty seven, and a bunch of other crap. Many stories have been written about the lack of airplay for women, so let’s take a look at how they fared (including groups with women singing lead): Lady Antebellum 3 , Lauren Alaina as a guest on a Kane Brown song 7, Maren Morris as a guest on a Thomas Rhett song 11, Carly Pearce 16, Carrie Underwood as a guest on a Keith Urban song 18, Kelsea Ballerini 22, Lauren Alaina 25, Little Big Town 34, Rhiannon Giddens as a guest on an Eric Church song 36, Maren Morris 44, and Carrie Underwood 51.  Meanwhile, here are songs by men with “girl” in the title: “My Girl” 6, “A Guy With A Girl” 17, “More Girls Like You” 19 , “Hometown Girl” 30, and “All the Pretty Girls” 38.