4/30/18 Texas Concerts

Since I moved to central Texas from Alabama last July, I’m still wide eyed at the vast number of concerts of every possible sort going on at any given time. Next week in Austin, there are free shows from Midland, Brent Cobb, and the IHeart Festival free afternoon shows (Luke Combs, Lauren Alaina, Danielle Bradbery, Dylan Scott, and Brett Young). I don’t know that I’ll tackle the thirty-mile drive to deal with the traffic and parking for any of it, but I might try the Cobb appearance at Waterloo Records, since that one also has free beverages.

Here’s a look at the great Gruene Hall calendar , including the 22nd Annual KNBT Americana Music Jam.

Here’s the Whitewater Amphitheater calendar. Two Tons of Steel, which plays regularly at Gruene Hall, should be a fun opener for Dwight Yoakam at Whitewater, and some good young acts have opening slots for some of the other summer headliners.

I rarely go to Dallas-Ft. Worth, but The Ranch FM is providing a free country concert series for the sixteenth year: 95.9 The Ranch Music Series.

Wade Bowen’s 20th Annual Bowen Musicfest in Waco

Austin City Limits  announced upcoming tapings. I attended a couple of tapings last year, and it’s a great experience.

Austin 360 Amphitheater includes events like Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July Picnic.


4/29/18 Jesse Stratton Band at Gruene Hall

On Thursday, I attended the album release party for the 5-man, Texas Country/Red Dirt outfit Jesse Stratton Band , based in Wimberley, TX. They played for four hours, with no repeat songs, taking just a couple of short breaks. These guys are a great example of a band that’s best experienced live. When describing an act’s style, I like to point to the covers that they choose to play. This group covered Merle Haggard, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Randy Rogers, Turnpike Troubadours, and Whiskey Myers, and closed the show with a very spirited performance of the audience request “Zombie” by the Cranberries. They played mostly originals, though, including some extended instrumental work. Stratton himself played guitar, harmonica, and saxophone. There was an awesome “duel” between saxophone and fiddle. The electric guitar player switched to mandolin for some songs, and steel guitar.

They said they’ve played about 800 shows over the last four years. I included their song “I-35” as part of a block of songs about places on the 2018 New Country Showcase, since I drive this road every day. I included one of their songs on the all-genre Wimberley Sampler , and one of their earlier songs was titled “Wimberley.”

In unrelated news, here’s an article about Chris Stapleton giving back to his home area: 2018 East Kentucky Leadership Award for Culture and Art  . I attended both days of 2017 Hillbilly Days concerts mentioned in the article. “He really had a huge economic impact on this community, huge,” Collins said. “Made my budget for the year. I don’t know if you heard but last year this building made money for the first time in 15 years. That was Chris Stapleton.”

4/27/18 New Music Friday

Willie Nelson, Last Man Standing is the obvious starting point. I saw Willie a few months ago with Jamey Johnson, and I’m going to see Willie again next month with Alison Krauss. I heard an interview on KNBT-FM this morning with Willie’s friend Johnny Bush, who talked about how nice it is to see the younger fans showing up to see him and Willie and other from that era. One of Willie’s songs is already on my playlist, right between an Ashley McBryde song that mentions Willie and a song by Willie’s son Lukas: Ready to Roar .

I’ve met Kasey Chambers and her father (who shows up on the album), so I know I will also definitely enjoy Kasey’s new album: Campfire. I’d already included the title song on my 2018 New Country Showcase .

Randall King  has a new 13-song, self-titled album. This is a strong one for the Texas Country fans. Mirror, Mirror quickly lands a place on the playlist.

Chad Martin’s self-titled album is funny as hell. Drunk Ass Cowboy lands a spot on the playlist.

Sara Douga, “Boots, Bras, and Drawers” will deserve listening to for the album title alone.

Kaitlyn Baker, “Blackbird” is a 7-song album. The final song, “Heart of Appalachia,” was used for tourism promotion in her native southwest Virginia a couple years ago. I have distant relatives in the same area who shared that video when it came out.

Gary P. Nunn’s “Friends For Life Vol 1” doesn’t appear to be on Spotify, but I included the link to his YouTube listings.

Balsam Range and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, “Mountain Overture” – bluegrass with an orchestra ! Yeah, I’ll definitely check this out. My father lived in Massachusetts one year when he worked for GE, and was an usher for Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops, so I grew up listening to orchestra music a good bit, in addition to country and other styles.

Sideline’s Front and Center is a new bluegrass album. I’ve included Sideline’s work on playlists before, so I’m looking forward to having the time to check this out.

Claybank’s “No Escape” is another bluegrass album that has been recommended to me, so it’s another I will listen to.

Breakers Yard, “I Don’t Hurt Anyone” is fourteen songs.

James Scott Bullard’s “Full Tilt Boogie” is ten songs.

Bay Station, “Other Desert Cities” is ten songs.

Jackson Emmer, “Jukebox” is ten songs.

Rhett Uhland’s “Always Coming Home” is eight songs.

Daniel Meade, “When Was The Last Time” is nine songs.

Eric Schaffer, “Crazy Road Trip” is nine songs.

Jonathan Tedford, “Green Jacket EP” is six songs.

Muscadine Bloodline, “Movin On” is five songs.

I haven’t clicked with Keith Urban’s recent work, but here’s his new album Graffiti U .

Harri Caine, “One Way Home” is a new song from Sweden.

Smalltown Tommy & Jan Ivar Pettersen, “Et Kort For Alltid” is a song one might call “Norwegiana.”





4/26/18 By The Numbers

Here’s a 20-song list: Spotify List: “By The Numbers” .  Bobby Bare’s song “Numbers,”  written by Shel Silverstein, peaked at #11 on the country chart in 1980.

I also added a list for artists who are 27 or younger. I got the idea from watching an episode of American Idol the other day, since that show limits contestants to under age 28. I’m sure there are many more worthy artists, but trying to find ages is a pain. I did find 20: Young Country – 27 & Under

One of my Spotify lists from last year is 13 Country Ghosts . My inspiration was Kathryn Tucker Windham’s book, “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.”

I updated the 42-song Space in the Country to include a couple of recent releases. It had to be forty two.

Cam’s Diane had a very odd run on the Billboard charts. The song was released as a single 12/4/17, peaked at #43 on country airplay, and departed the chart this week. The song made its debut on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart this week, following high-profile television performances, at (drum roll please) #43.

John Prine’s new album is his most successful on the Billboard charts, at age 71. I’ll see him in June at Marty Stuart’s Late Night Jam.

4/25/18 Recent Concerts

George Ensle has performed original songs for over 50 years, and I recently caught his show at Kent Black’s BBQ in San Marcos,TX. In addition to his originals, he played covers of songs by Gene Autry, Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Sr, Townes Van Zandt, and Guy Clark. Here’s George Ensle’s channel on Spotify.

Sarah Pierce  played Sunday afternoon at Gruene Hall. Sarah has nine albums on Spotify. Her upbringing on cattle ranches influences her writing, and here’s No Depression’s Review of Sarah’s 2015 Album “Barbed Wire”. Her husband/producer/drummer Merel Bregante has an impressive list of credits, too. He played with such well-known groups as Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Loggins & Messina. Joining them on stage at Gruene was 6’8″ singer-songwriter Eric Hanke .