1/31/18 More Music

Samantha Fish is generally labelled as “blues,” but y’all will like this. Samantha Fish Live at Paste Studios  She is based in Kansas City, as is country artist Sara Morgan. There are lots of YouTube videos of them doing shows together.  Sara’s recent country album “Average Jane” deserves attention, especially the songs Average Jane and Never Been to Nashville

I maintain an all-genre playlist of instrumentals, with everything from early electronica to bluegrass. Interesting Instrumentals And Stuff Recent additions are from the French master of the modern hurdy gurdy, Guilhem Desq, Le château magique     Front-porch blues great Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Axe Guitar Blues  a Dutch bluegrass group that brought in an Uilleann Pipe player: Red Herring Band, Pigs Upon A Ninja   The Time Burners’ 2018 album includes the kazoo-driven Spiffy Chicken   and here’s some 1927 Hawaiian guitar: Sol Hoopii’s Novelty Trio, 12th Street Rag

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1/30/18 Australia’s Golden Guitar Awards

The winners of Australia’s biggest country awards: 46th Country Music Awards of Australia were headlined by an act I saw last year in Nashville, Kasey Chambers

She is a board member of the Americana Music Association. I also saw her father Bill last year at Gruene Hall (about 20 miles south of where I live in Texas). His style is more “country,” whereas his daughter’s is more “Americana,” but they’re both good.

1/29/18 The Superlative Marty Stuart

Sorry to post so much lately, but it’s been surprisingly busy the last week or so. Marty Stuart plans a country music center in Philadelphia, Mississippi with 20,000 artifacts: Marty Stuart Museum

“The new facility, which incorporates the historic Ellis Theater, is equal parts concert venue, museum, and educational center. With over 20,000 invaluable items, Stuart’s collection of country music artifacts is the largest private collection of its kind in the world. ”

Marty also recently launched an exhibit at the Guthrie Center in Tulsa, OK: Marty Stuart’s Way Out West: A Country Music Odyssey The exhibit will remain open through May 6th.


1/29/18 Grammy, etc

Chris Stapleton had an absolute monster week. I was wondering this morning what he plans to do in 2018, following three Grammy wins, then I saw an email  that he put up three dozen tour dates with Marty Stuart and Brent Cobb. I have seen this combination before, and they are beyond awesome ! Jason Isbell also had a huge day, with a pair of Americana wins, and of course Dave Cobb is the producer for both Stapleton and Isbell and about a gazillion others. Little Big Town picked up an award for “Better Man.” The Lost Bayou Ramblers picked up a regional roots Grammy. If you like Cajun music, check this out: The Bathtub

Apparently, the Grammy awards wanted Lorde to be part of the Tom Petty tribute: TMZ article .

For religious music, country legend Reba McEntire landed a Grammy, and gospel legend CeCe Winans (I saw her at 2016 Americanafest) got two. The bluegrass Grammy was a rare tie, so awards were given to both Infamous Stringdusters (who have established a foothold in Americana, as well as bluegrass) and Rhonda Vincent (who sings classic country in addition to bluegrass, and would be my choice for next Opry member).

In other news:

I saw Teri Joyce yesterday afternoon, as part of the monthly “Last Honky Tonk Music Series” at Kent Black’s BBQ in San Marcos, which is my go-to local venue for Ameripolitan and other roots music. She said she is actively working on a new record, and that there will be a vinyl version. Here’s the title song from her 2009 album, which I now own: Kitchen Radio   She’s very much classic country, and will attend the Ameripolitan Awards in Memphis in a couple weeks. One of the songs she sang for us is a solo write called “Bluebonnets For My Baby,” which Whitney Rose covered on an album last year. Teri Joyce is touring Sweden in March with the legendary Kay Adams, who won “Top New Female Vocalist” at the very first ACM Awards in 1965 (and Merle Haggard won top new male).  Kay Adams was part of the Bakersfield Sound, and here’s one of her trucker songs: Little Pink Mack  If you’re a classic country fan, then please check these ladies out.

Teri brought along guitar player Ben Jones, originally from London, who is half of a fast-rising Americana/folk duo in Austin called Beat Root Revival. I think the lady in that group is from Northern Ireland. Beat Root Revival  He did a fine job playing guitar on classic country, even though his own group plays a different style.

Evi Tausen is a country traditionalist from the Faroe Islands, and here’s her duet with  Stig Rossen from Denmark: Evi Tausen & Stig Rossen: “Our Sweet Love”

Chu Dat Frawg is an oddball bluegrass-ish group from Ohio. Here’s Wapperjawed from their new album Coddiwomple.

Sundust Road also has a new album with some different titles. Here’s Marmot on the Steel Guitar

Soul Katch Trio from Italy released a new album, including this cover of the classic Blue Moon of Kentucky

Liv Austen (originally from Norway, but based in London) lists her style on FB as “singer/songwriter, new country, pop.” Here’s her brand new one: Don’t Regret A Single One


1/28/18 Chris & Sturgill on SNL

I wasn’t planning to make a separate post about this, but I saw both of these guys last year (Chris several times, and Sturgill’s show with Margo). Today is “Grammy day,” and seeing the last two country album winners perform together on network television is a pretty big deal. Early ratings look strong, too.

Anyway, I saw a couple of articles mention that this was the first time these two had shared a stage. Thankfully, AJ Hobbs, who is a country/Americana artist himself,  uploaded a video of a huge group number in 2015 that included both Chris and Sturgill: Luckenbach, Texas  Live performances from the 2015 Waylon tribute were included on the 2017 release, “Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings (Live).”

The other misconception I’ve seen repeated is that Chris Stapleton “started in bluegrass.” He was already a successful songwriter before the Steeldrivers. “Midnight Train to Memphis” has been around quite a while. Most know about the version on “From A Room Vol 2” from 2017, which brings to mind live versions he did with the Jompson Brothers, and his bluegrass version on the Steeldrivers’ self-titled studio album in 2008. I have also heard the Steeldrivers’ little-known live album from 2006, which was recorded at Nashville’s Station Inn, and it’s there, too. My guess is that the song was probably originally more like what we see now, and adapted to bluegrass, rather than the other way around. Anyway you slice it, it kicks every kind of ass to see Chris & Sturgill do this in 2018.

Another bit I’ll mention is that the Steeldrivers’ first Grammy nomination was in “country,” rather than “bluegrass.”

Here’s a 2008 article about Midnight Train to Memphis  Although the term “Americana” has mostly caught on recently, notice this from 2008: ” The instrumentation largely takes its due from a form of ambitious bluegrass music, though the powerful vocals of Chris Stapleton are more reminiscent of a more emotionally bounded style in the form of soul and blues. With all these comparisons in mind, I suppose it would be easiest to classify The Steeldrivers under the Americana category. After all, it is difficult for me to think of an American genre that is more flexibly defined. Country, blues, bluegrass, folk, and rootsy rock are all at play here; The Steeldrivers’ style of play is simply a hearty blend that takes its strengths from the best of each genre.”


1/28/18 Bluegrass Underground

Beginning with a sold-out radio taping in 2008 by The Steeldrivers (and I found an old article that includes pictures of that original show, 300 feet underground: Bluegrass Today article ), Bluegrass Underground quickly developed a following on WSM radio, and has been a public television mainstay since 2011, winning a number of awards. This year, the program is taping in a different cave, and 2018 performers have been announced. Artists from a variety of genres have performed there, so even those of you who aren’t into bluegrass might find something you like: Bluegrass Underground YouTube Channel

1/26/18 Friday

It’ll take me a while to listen to all the new releases, but my starting place is Sara Morgan’s new album, “Average Jane.” It’s available on Spotify, but I haven’t found it on YouTube.

One album that was released the first of the year that I didn’t find until a week or so ago is “Up For Adoption” by Richard Elloyan & Steve Wade. This is recommended for those of us who enjoy western music. I maintain a playlist for Western Music From Decades Ago that is heavy on 1930s-40s.

The final lineup for the annual summer festival “Rock the South” in Cullman, Alabama was announced this morning. The headliners, Eric Church and Thomas Rhett, are consistent with the generally mainstream focus of the festival, but the surprise is Hank Williams, Jr on the undercard. He doesn’t play all that many dates, and when he does, it’s almost always as the main event, so I’m quite surprised that he took an undercard booking in his home state.

1/25/18 Horse Pens 40

I spent the vast majority of my life in Alabama, about a hundred miles from this place. I visited a few times, to enjoy the cool rock formations and natural park setting, but back in the 1960s-1970s, it was a bustling bluegrass venue: Horse Pens 40 History  At the height of popularity, HP40 drew the very biggest names in bluegrass, with festival crowds exceeding 10,000. It was designated by the state as “The Home of the South’s Bluegrass Music.” Of course, that was decades ago, and the park fell on hard times and ownership changes, and it’s now better known as a nature park than a music venue Encyclopedia of Alabama article   Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Alison Krauss, Keith Whitley, Mark O’Connor, and other greats played at this venue when they were just teens.

1/24/18 Kim Carson, Classic Twang

A few months ago, I saw honky tonk artist Kim Carson. Like some other traditionalists, she spends a good bit of time touring in other countries. A quick look at her current Tour Dates includes Costa Rica, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Although she has released a number of albums over the years that include her original songs, today’s main feature is her 2010 album of classic country covers, “Classic Twang.” Here’s a selection: Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through)  Most of these songs have been covered by many others, but I think it’s a good introduction to this artist, and if you like her style, do check out her other albums that include originals. Here’s San Antonio Again from her 2014 album, “Enough Heart Left to Break.” Here’s Neon Halo from her 2005 album, “Kim Carson & Buffalo Speedway.” Notice the reference to Eleven Hundred Springs, who have a song on my 2018 New Country Showcase