2/28/18 CMA Fest 2017 Photos

Although I posted these on the FB page last summer, I’ll mention these two specifically now, since Scotty McCreery just landed his first number one song, and Kelsea Ballerini was number one last week. Both played these songs at CMA Fest last June. I’m not sure what Scotty was doing in the photo, but it looks pretty funny. He played at the riverfront stage. Kelsea’s picture is from rehearsal for the CMT Awards, the day before CMA Fest proper.

2/27/18 New Playlist Additions

Countryside Ride’s album from a couple weeks back is finally up on YouTube, and traditional country fans will want to check out this group from Oregon. The title track “I Hope He Breaks Your Heart” joins the 2018 New Country Showcase  , as does Ricky Cook’s tribute to Loretta Lynn, Thanks A Lot, Loretta

I had Sara Morgan’s  “Never Been to Nashville” on the list, but since she had released a version of it several years back ( Never Been to Nashville ), I traded that song in for Sick of Sayin Goodbye  , which works great as a closing song, right after Jason James’ cover of Ernest Tubb, “Let’s Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello.”

Similarly, I shifted a song from Wade Bowen’s new album from the 2018 list to the 2017, because he first released the song in December: Day of the Dead  , and I added Death, Dyin’ and Deviled Eggs to the 2018 list.

One of the songs on my 50-song “Funny and Weird” all-genre playlist showed up as a broken link, so my choice as a replacement is this old spoof of “Big Bad John”: Bad Breath Carl

The Bodarks’ album included a cover of the Cranberries’ “Zombie”: Bluegrass Covers

The director of  Rocking the Boat: A Musical Conversation and Journey recently uploaded YouTube videos of Chris Stapleton from January 2006, which I added to the Staplemania playlist. One might recall Seth James & Jessica Murray singing a version of this first song on their 2016 album, and it got some airplay on the outstanding KNBT-FM Americana radio station, based in New Braunfels, Texas.


2/26/18 Country-Adjacent New Music

A reader yesterday mentioned Janiva Magness’ album, that was released Friday. She has won various blues awards, and is scheduled to play in Austin during SXSW week, so there’s a chance I’ll see her then. Another artist that the Americana/blues fans might want to check out is Tammie Shannon, whose album was released the week before. Here’s a lengthy interview with her: All Access Music Interview with Tammie Shannon

A couple more artists toward the blues end of Americana are featured on Audiotree: Samantha Fish and Larkin Poe

I’m With Her is an Americana/folk trio. One of the members, Sarah Jarosz, is from the town of Wimberley, a songwriter-filled village 15 miles west of San Marcos. Last year, I made an all-genre Wimberley Sampler on Spotify of artists with some connection to the town, including Sarah. I haven’t done much with Spotify in months, because I usually use a decade-old computer running Linux, and Spotify quit working on it, unless I do some sort of update.

James Durbin finished 4th on American Idol the year that Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina finished 1-2. Durbin’s main contributions have been in rock music, joining Quiet Riot last year as lead singer. Durbin and his wife recently formed a new Americana act called The Sea Cliff Okies, and released their first song Friday, Prunetucky Blues

Midnight Skyracer is an all-female bluegrass group from the UK, and they released a full-length album earlier this month.

The Kay Brothers also released a bluegrass album the first week of February, and they describe their style as: “Bonafide Hillbillyin’ n’ Hootin’ n’ Hollerin’ Missouri Stompgrass and What Not.”

The Bodarks released a full-length album Friday. They’re a string band who describe themselves as “a porch-stompin’, fiddle-sawin’, bass-spankin’ hootenanny!”  As a side note, there were Bois D’Arc trees at the park where I walked all the time when I was in Alabama, but we usually called them horse apples.

2/25/18 Ten For the Future – Young Country

EmiSunshine is already a prolific singer-songwriter at thirteen years old. She wrote all of the songs on her 2017 album, and I recall hearing her on Nashville’s Americana station, WMOT Radio, when I visited for Americanafest. She has shared the stage with many big names, and has played the Grand Ole Opry many times: EmiSunshine bio  Here she is covering When the Stars Come Out  way back in September of 2015.

Seventeen-year-old banjo player Willow Osborne often performs in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and she is featured in the new IMAX film “America’s Musical Journey,” which is narrated by Aloe Blacc: America’s Musical Journey

Lula 1892 has a great interview with The Church Sisters ,teenage twins from southern Virginia. The first I recall hearing them was on the Orthophonic Joy album in 2015. They’re releasing a new album this year: ““What we’re doing now is more Country. It’s a little different from what we’ve been doing; a little different from the Bluegrass and the Gospel. It’s still laced with harmonies; we stuck with the harmonies and the family aspect of our music. A good description of it is a teeny bit traditional with a modern twist.””

Sadie McClendon from my home town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama is just ten years old, and the youngest member of the Last Honky Tonk Music Series, and regularly plays in Nashville and elsewhere. I saw her sing a few times – everything from John Prine to Loretta Lynn. Cody Jinks and Ward Davis recently shared a video of her cover of Jinks’  “Cast No Stones” on FB.

Thirteen-year-old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne from Oklahoma is best known for winning America’s Got Talent, but she will make her first guest appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on March 9th. One of her cast of characters is Katie the Yodeling Cowgirl

Leddy Bragg is one of the brightest teenage stars of western music. She plays in Austin regularly, and has already won many awards.

Similarly, Hailey Sandoz is highly respected on the western circuit. The eighteen-year-old fiddler has won numerous awards, and performed at Equiblues in France last year.

Carson Peters has a sizable following in bluegrass and old-time, sharing big stages with Ricky Skaggs and others. He has played the Grand Ole Opry and major bluegrass events. Carson Peters & Iron Mountain have a new gospel bluegrass album March 10th called “Praises From the Mountain.” The thirteen-year-old has been playing fiddle since he was three ! Here’s his appearance on NBC’s Little Big Shots .

Charlie McNeal sounds much older than his seventeen years, and the deep-voiced singer already has two full-length country albums and his own outlaw country radio show in his native California: Charlie McNeal Bio

Annabelle Watts is a regular at old-time fiddle contests and bluegrass events. The 15-year old  Kentuckian released a five-song instrumental CD three years ago, Forward Motion   One of those songs is on my 2015-2016 New Country Showcase

2/24/18 Short Update

My goal is not to oppose mainstream offerings, but to supplement them. For my own benefit, I’ll mention that 2018 New Country Showcase topped a thousand views this week.  These are releases that haven’t hit top 40 on Billboard country airplay, and I make an effort to include little-known acts. 2018 is very strong through the first two months.   So far, I’ve made a post every day this year, and I’m trying to decide whether to scale back. Here’s an oldie to close out today’s post, Conway Twitty sings Russian


2/23/18 New Music Friday

I first heard of the Squeezebox Bandits last month when I saw them listed as the openers for Eleven Hundred Springs’ album release. I was sorry to have to remove the 1100 Springs song from my playlist, because it showed as a broken link.  Squeezebox Bandits’ 10-song album “Clear as Day” is good Texas dance hall music. Tex-Mex Zydeco landed a spot on my Interesting Instrumentals playlist, as did Arcamdits by the Barcelona Bluegrass Band from their new 11-song album, “Set List.” Squeezebox Bandits also landed a spot on the New Country Showcase with Forgive My Evil Ways

Candi Carpenter’s recent video Cry Baby is too good not to include , but it comes on  quieter than most of the other songs on the playlist.

Ashley McBryde’s Radioland is out today. The country-rock style of this song would fit well mixed in with an Eric Church playlist.

Few Miles South’s 5-song EP “Might Could,” including Walking to the Moon

Leslie Tom’s cover of the classic Hey Good Lookin’ is the first song from her upcoming Hank Williams Sr tribute album, 3/23. I try to not go too “cover-heavy” on a “new country” list, and will likely trade out for one of her originals when the album becomes available, but note the steel player Lloyd Green, who played in Memphis last week and has participated in 115 #1 songs !

Colee James’ new song Outlaw

Caleb Caudle’s 11-song “Crushed Coins”: Crushed Coins

Jeff Hyde’s 10-song “Norman Rockwell World,” including Henry Ford

Jobe Fortner’s 5-song EP (self-titled), including Stereotype   He has recently opened for some strong acts (Steel Woods, Whiskey Myers, Cody Johnson,etc).

Josh Bricker’s new music video, On the Rocks

I missed Black Dirt Tango’s album “West Texas Dust” when it was released 2/6, but the title track landed a spot on my 2018 New Country Showcase

2/22/18 Latin American Country

The owner of the famous traditional country venue Robert’s Western World is from Sao Paolo, Brazil, and here’s his band Brazilbilly covering Marty Robbins’ El Paso

Bastardos Country Rock is from Brusque, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Here’s Texas Song in English, and here’s a song in Portuguese and English: Não Vou Mudar

The Alamo Country Band is from Chihuahua, Mexico. Here’s one of their Spanish songs: Todo el Dia Tomando and their country cover of Radiohead’s Creep in English.

Laura Denisse is from Monterrey, Mexico: Hey Baby Qué Pasó

Country Rio is also from Monterrey: Jack Daniels & A Jukebox

Southern Dust is a southern rock band from Paraguay. Here’s the title track to their brand new, seven-song album: Home



2/21/18 Austin Happenings

Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame Show is 2/23-24. We’re probably not going to this, but do check out the names being honored (Buddy Holly, Mickey Newbury, Liz Rose, and Ray Wylie Hubbard). Also, check out the list of performers at the ceremony, including folks like Lori McKenna and Eric Church.

Austin Music Awards are 2/28. Apparently, this is something the Austin Chronicle newspaper has put on since 1982, based on a readers’ poll. Check out the posters from previous years

Here’s an article about the massive “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s” exhibit, opening at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame May 25th: Herald-Dispatch article  This exhibit has a strong Austin focus.

Nikki Lane and friends are hosting a showcase during SXSW called Where Is The Hideout ? on March 14th. It looks like tickets start at $21.99. When I think of Nikki, I think not only of seeing her sing “Jackpot” in Memphis or her opening in Vegas for Chris Stapleton, but this duet with Loretta Lynn , which was Loretta’s last big performance before her health problems.

Blue Elan Records will host its first SXSW showcase on March 16th: Blue Elan SXSW Note that Rita Coolidge has a new album on the way Safe in The Arms of Time May 4th which “features the songwriting talents of Graham Nash, Chris Stapleton, Stan Lynch, and Keb’ Mo’.” Jesse Dayton has a new album on the way in June. I saw him at SXSW last year, and at Ameripolitan last week.

Another of the vast number of SXSW showcases (both unofficial and official) is the Third Annual Rebels & Renegades at Threadgill’s March 17th. I greatly enjoyed attending this last year. It’s FREE, and Threadgill’s has really good food, and a fascinating history ,complete with a bunch of concrete armadillos and pictures as reminders of the Armadillo World Headquarters. I don’t see a direct link, but one of the artists I saw there last year, Chris Fullerton, posted a schedule:


12 – Robert Kraft Trio
1 – Whitney Rose
2 – Charlie Faye and the Fayettes
3 – John Arthur Martinez
4 – Janiva Magness
5 – James McMurtry

12 – Hymn River Suite
12:30 – Emily Herring
1 – Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin
1:30 – House of Songs Artist Dennis Kalla
2 – Walter Salas-Humara
2:30 – Chris Fullerton
3 – William Harries Graham
3:30 – Jenny Van West
4 – Hollin McKay
4:30 – Jeff Plankenhorn
5 – Noel McKay and Brennen Leigh
5:30 – Mando Saenz

2/20/18 Real Instruments

Although this particular article is about one company, the real concern is more widespread: Gibson: Iconic guitar brand reportedly on the brink of bankruptcy

“Gibson’s annual revenue, meanwhile, has been inching lower for some years with some analysts blaming the rise of streaming services and the popularity of music genres that are faster growing than rock, like hip hop and electronic dance music.”

“Eight out of 10 of the most listened to artists of 2017 fell into the R&B/hip hop category, as did seven out of 10 of the top albums.”

2/19/18 Dallas Moore, Manzy Lowry, and David Harris

I spent yesterday afternoon at the always-great Kent Black’s BBQ in San Marcos, Texas. Dallas Moore was on early, since he also had to get to a radio interview and performance. I saw Dallas a few days ago in Memphis  presenting the Ameripolitan Award for Outlaw Group, the award he won last year. The street date for his new album is March 2nd, but I now have a copy in hand ! It was cool to get to talk to Dallas and his long-time guitar player Chuck, and Dallas even gave Robert’s Country Blog a shoutout.

Next up was the Manzy Lowry Band. Manzy is part of the Last Honky Tonk Music Series. I knew he had new music on the way in 2018, but I was surprised that he had the new album available, so I now have that one in hand, too. I asked when it would be officially available, and he said he didn’t know yet. Although Manzy performed mostly originals, perhaps the best way to describe his style is to look at his choice of covers: Guy Clark, Tom Petty, Jim Croce, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

When Manzy took an intermission, David Harris played a solo acoustic set. I saw David play a full-length set months ago at Kent Black’s as part of the Last Honky Tonk Series. Dallas, Manzy, and David are all scheduled to perform at Songs on the Bayou songwriters festival in April in Morgan City, Louisiana.