7/31/18 Frank Martin Gilligan

We saw Frank Martin Gilligan last year, then again Friday, for a solo acoustic set at Kent Black’s BBQ in San Marcos, TX. Although he is based in Texas, he’s from New York City originally, and performs in Ireland when he gets the chance. He’ll be back in Ireland in a couple of weeks. His Irish heritage figures heavily into his songwriting efforts in recent years. Here is his YouTube Channel. He had a band in the 1980s called Mason Dixon.

In addition to his originals, he included some choice covers. His set started with “Seven Spanish Angels,” of Willie Nelson and Ray Charles fame, and ended with a song from Les Miserables. There aren’t a lot of country singers belting out opera at a BBQ restaurant, so that’s a nice change of pace. One of his covers was Till I’m Too Old to Die Young , which was a hit for Moe Bandy in 1987. One of the writers of this song is Kevin Welch of Wimberley. He also covered Jamey Johnson’s “In Color” and Roy Orbison’s “Crying.”

Of the original songs, one of Gilligan’s collaborators is Randy Brooks , the guy who wrote “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” Randy Brooks released a novelty album in 2013.


7/30/18 Turnpike, Shooter, and Corb

Here’s a look at the sold-out concert we attended Saturday night at the Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas.

First up was Corb Lund and his Hurtin’ Albertans, including bass fiddle and steel guitar. “Dig, Gravedigger, Dig” was the opening number, and “Rye Whiskey/Time To Switch To Whiskey” was his closer. The 2012 album “Cabin Fever” was especially well-represented. He performed the first three songs from that album, as well as the unusual rockabilly number “Gothest Girl I Can.”

Next up was Shooter Jennings.There was a rock vibe for much of the set, but he did perform songs from his forthcoming honky tonk album. The fiddle player was a highlight. There are “Hee Haw” type videos for the three pre-release songs, and all of these songs were on the menu Saturday, as was “Do You Love Texas ?” from last year, and “Electric Rodeo” from many years back. Scott H Biram made a surprise appearance.

Saturday was my second time to see the Turnpike Troubadours. If you’re looking for a “fast paced” country band, this is a good starting place. In that way, they are to “Red Dirt” or “Texas/Oklahoma country” what Old Crow Medicine Show is to “old-time string band.” Turnpike featured a great variety of instruments: acoustic and electric guitars, double-necked guitar, electric bass, drums, fiddle, banjo, dobro, harmonica, pedal steel guitar, drums, and accordion. Here’s a blurry cell phone photo of Corb Lund with Turnpike:turnpikecorb



7/29/18 Billboard’s Highest Paid Musicians

Here’s the methodology, and the list itself.

“Broken down by genre, there are 24 rock, nine pop, nine country and eight R&B/hip-hop acts on this list; 29 of them are considered heritage artists, which have been active for at least 20 years and/or released a minimum of 10 albums.”

“As has been the case since this list’s inception, touring revenue accounts for the lion’s share — almost 80 percent — of the top 50’s total income.”

“Streaming doesn’t come close to generating the income that live performance does.”


7/28/18 Classic Southern Rock

I still read the Alabama newspapers online regularly, even though I haven’t lived in the state in over a year, and here’s a cool article from Alabama Live, a site featuring content from newspapers from Birmingham, Mobile, and Huntsville: 25 underrated or obscure Southern-rock songs to know

There’s probably as much “classic Southern rock” influence in modern country music as in modern rock. See the Billboard rock airplay chart. Not much southern anything there, it appears ? Meanwhile, over on the Billboard Country Airplay chart , there’s even a Drivin’ and Cryin’ cover in the top 40.

In unrelated news, The IBMA Awards will be in Raleigh on September 27th. The article also mentions that Ricky Skaggs, Paul Williams, and Tom T and Dixie Hall will be inducted into the IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Congratulations to all nominees, and the HoF inductees.

7/26/18 New Country Playlist Updates

I have way too many songs already, but I’ll give these a few spins, at least:

I often feature music that’s just a little different from what you’ll find on most country playlists. WWE Elias released a 4-song EP Monday. Here’s one of those songs: Walk With Me .

I stumbled across the new album from John Paul Von Arx last week, and found that he released a video for one of the songs the first of the year. This is another oddball novelty song: Cell Phone Blues

Lori McKenna’s album is much more conventional. Here’s a live performance of A Mother Never Rests.

Colter Wall released a song from his next album: Plain To See Plainsmen

Clay Parker and Jodi James feature the steel guitar prominently in this slow, swaying duet: Every New Sky

Speaking of steel guitar, the recent Eric Church interview with Rolling Stone included this curious bit: “Jay Joyce, who has produced all six of Church’s albums, says they’ve always followed their own path. “The first couple of rec-ords we had some steel guitar,” Joyce says. “And then we looked at each other like, ‘We fuckin’ hate steel guitar!’ ””

Ever wonder why most mainstream country radio doesn’t sound very country ? Just look at that quote, then look at the “who’s who” produced by Jay Joyce in recent years: Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood, etc..


7/25/18 Artist-Curated Playlists

Zane Williams: Bringin’ Country Back

Angaleena Presley’s 2017 Faves

Zac Brown Band: Down The Rabbit Hole Tour Tailgate Playlist

Sunny Sweeney’s Favorite Country Songs

Yeti Guest Spotlight: Rodney Crowell

Yeti Guest Spotlight: Chris Stapleton

Carrie Underwood’s Favorite Workout Songs

Carly Pearce’s Playlist – March 5, 2018

Ashley McBryde: Girl Going Somewhere

Randy Travis: Diggin’ Up Songs

7/24/18 Music City Roots

Music City Roots has been a fixture in the Americana scene for many years. On July 11, MCR posted the following on social media:

“The company is healthy and our team is as passionate as ever about our mission. Yet for the first time in a history that goes back to October of 2009, MCR must suspend production and distribution to our radio affiliates while we make arrangements for the middle and long term.”

Here’s the Music City Roots YouTube Channel, which features a large number of videos.

Music City Roots sponsored a large tent at Americanafest last year, and I was in the audience for a few of these performances: Ray Wylie Hubbard , Angaleena Presley , Cactus Blossoms , and John Paul White .

7/23/18 Hits Daily Double YTD Data

On July 20th, Hits Daily Double posted a list of the top 50 audio streams of 2018 so far, and the top 50 album sales.

Out of the top 50 audio streams, zero country songs made the list. Two songs include supposedly country artists: #8 Bebe Rexha featuring Florida Georgia Line, and #16 Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey.

For album sales, it’s worth emphasizing that album sales overall are declining rapidly. Just half a dozen albums of any genre sold over a million in the first half of 2018, and two are movie soundtracks.  Five of the fifty albums carry the country label: #18 Jason Aldean, #21 Kane Brown, #24 Luke Combs, #38 Chris Stapleton, and #44 Thomas Rhett. Four of those five enjoy tremendous support from country radio.

Younger artists generally have much larger streaming numbers than the older artists. The lowest streaming totals corresponding to the 50 top-selling albums belong to some of the oldest artists on the list. Dave Matthews (51) has under 24 million streams, followed by Pink (38) at 118+ million, Jason Aldean (41)  at under 211 million, Chris Stapleton (40) at under 271 million, Eminem (45) at 279+ million, Shawn Mendes (19) at under 281 million, and Justin Timberlake (37) at under 282 million. No matter the genre, being older is a major disadvantage in streaming.

Older acts often sell more tickets on tour, though. Pollstar’s 2017 Year End Special shows that older “legacy” acts make tons of money on tour (a lot more than anyone makes on streaming). From the highest-grossing North American tours of 2017 , the nominally country acts in the top 100 were Garth Brooks (4), Tim McGraw & Faith Hill (10), Eric Church (18), FGL (19), Luke Bryan (20), Chris Stapleton (29), Zac Brown (33), Dierks Bentley (46), Jason Aldean (52), Sam Hunt (62), George Strait (67, with just 10 tour dates), Willie Nelson (82), Brad Paisley (85), and Kenny Chesney (98). No matter the genre, the old folks still move tickets like crazy, even if the young guys are the ones getting the streams and airplay. The show tickets make a lot more money.

7/22/18 Central Texas This Weekend

When it’s 105F, outdoor shows aren’t my idea of fun, and “real life” gets in the way of making the time to drive 75 miles to outlying areas like Boerne or Helotes, but we can still enjoy taking a look at the shows that were available here on.

David Lee‘s “Jose Armadillo Road Show” is a series of “songwriter circle” events. David himself has enjoyed vast success as a songwriter, penning songs for George Strait, Alan Jackson, Alabama, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, and so many more. This month’s guests were Wynn Varble , who has also written for just about everyone (and one of his recent songs was Jon Pardi’s “She Ain’t In It,” which I consider the best single Pardi has released to date), and Matt Fleener of The Dirt Drifters. One of Fleener’s recent successes was “Scarecrow in the Garden,” and here’s a lesser-known song that Fleener also wrote with Chris Stapleton: Ten Million Miles.

Cody Canada with Travis Meadows, Tyler Childers with the Wooks, and many other touring acts played in central Texas this weekend. Roger Creager played Gruene Hall four days, with a different opener each day. Jason Eady played at Freiheit in New Braunfels. Zane Williams played in Buda. Dale Watson is playing Chicken Shit Bingo at C-Boy’s in Austin this afternoon, while Jake Penrod is playing Chicken Shit Bingo at Little Longhorn. The short version of that story is that Dale Watson started this peculiar event at Little Longhorn many years ago, then moved his version to C-Boy’s. Little Longhorn kept doing its version.

Here in San Marcos, Kent Black’s hosted Emily Herring , April Hall, and Nate Guthrie.  As luck would have it, our friends wanted to meet us at Kent Black’s Friday for BBQ, anyway, so we stuck around to hear Emily Herring. We’ve seen her several times, and remember her from the local Jiffy Lube before that. She brought along a bass fiddle player and a steel guitar/dobro player. KNBT Americana has been playing her song Best Thing I’ve Seen Yet in regular rotation.