4/30/19 Assorted Updates

Live Nation Update:

National Concert Week starts tomorrow, with thousands of tickets nationwide going on a special sale for $20. A lot of these tickets normally go for $50 or more.

YouTube Updates:

I have fully two hundred songs on the  March-April 2019 Country Plus Showcase . I’ll start in on the May-June list this week.

The Odds and Ends, But Mostly Odds list is all-genre, so I don’t usually post as much about it here. There’s a bit of country in the mix, but it’s mostly other kinds of music. I shuffle songs in and out of this list more often than some of my other lists.

CMA Fest Update: Breakout Stage performers announced this morning

Edit: Broadway Stage and Acoustic Corner stages were also announced. Yes, there are some quality “real country” names sprinkled in: Tony Jackson, Erin Enderlin, Dillon Carmichael, etc.

ACL Update: Austin City Limits festival – the whole overpriced and underwhelming lineup – just kidding, but only sort of

Billboard Weekly Update:

Thomas Rhett is up to #11 country radio airplay after just 9 weeks, Blake Shelton is #15 after 5 weeks, and Luke Bryan is #23 after 5 weeks.

As for women on country radio, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Lindsey Ell, Runaway June, Tenille Townes, and Carly Pearce are all in the top 30, so that’s a higher percentage than some of the weekly charts in the last couple of years. It is  worth noting that most of these artists are in their twenties. I’m guessing that’s why thirty-something Carrie Underwood is trying her luck with a youthful, poppy song from some of the same writers who penned the FGL-Rexha hit ?

Tennessee Whiskey is #4 on Streaming Songs. It was released May 5th, 2015. Four years later, and indie artists and bloggers still whine about their jealousy of Chris Stapleton’s success with this song. Harping for fully four years isn’t “music criticism” or “art evaluation.” It’s just being an annoying asshole. He’s better than you. Get over it.

I even saw an indie artist throwing shade at George Strait on FB a week or two ago. You’re not hurting George, dude. You’re hurting your reputation, not his.












4/29/19 Penny Gilley Show Tapings

Penny Gilley’s show on RFD-TV will tape its next season over two days at Lil Red’s Longhorn Saloon in Fort Worth. Tapings are free for the public to attend. The full schedule is listed on her website, but I will mention a few:

Johnny Bush is 84, and Willie Nelson fans should be especially familiar with him.

Red Steagall is 80, and has achieved success in literature, acting, and western music. Reba McEntire fans should be familiar with his role in her career.

Dallas Wayne is a DJ on Sirius XM radio, in addition to being a country singer.

Check out all the rest, too. RFD TV caters to mostly an older audience. In 2015, the median age of RFD viewers was 62.

From what I can gather, I am glad I ended up not going to the Larry Joe Taylor Festival, as it sounds like the crowd was quite unpleasant.

4/28/19 UK & Ireland update

The UK apparently has a new pop-country radio station. Taylor Swift  inspires UK’s first national Country Hits Radio Station

“Country’s traditional redneck “conservative” image is no longer alienating listeners.”

More’s the pity. You call us “rednecks,” and tell us that the music we like and respect should be replaced by pop music ? 

Country music finds new fan base with UK millennials as national radio station launches

Una Healy: “People are loving it and not realising that they’re loving country music because we have pop artists working with country stars as well.”  

Search begins for Ireland’s next top country music star

Nathan Carter: “The current crop of country music is very much rock, pop- infused. It generally has lyrics that are very much country associated but mightn’t sound country traditionally.”

Larissa Tormey has an interesting background: From Moscow to midlands, mezzo soprano keeps it country

4/27/19 Bristol Rhythm and Roots lineup

Bristol’s annual festival always includes roots acts worth looking into. It is September 20-22 this year, which is a  few days after Nashville’s Americanafest.

Here’s the Bristol lineup

Wynonna and St Paul and the Broken Bones are the acts in biggest print. I saw Wynonna at Americanafest in 2016, and I saw St. Paul and the Broken Bones last month at Tuscaloosa’s Bicentennial.

Patty Griffin, Marty Stuart, and Sam Bush are in the next size print.

There’s a ton of quality in the very smallest print: Jason Eady, Jamie Lin Wilson, Martha Spencer, Luke Bell, Reeves Brothers, Dale Jett, Carolina Blue, etc.

4/26/19 Playlist Additions

I plan to cap the March-April Country Plus Showcase at 200, and we’re getting close. Considering that I was at just 40 the first week of April, we’ve really turned up the heat. I wasn’t expecting Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen to jump in with new songs today.

I will highlight just a very few of the many, many recent additions:

Kirk Holloway, “Hummingbird” is from a new EP, “Lonesome In The Lone Star State”

Randy Rogers and Maddie & Tae are both in a 6-song block of songs including the word “heart.” I am looking for a good Doctor Who-themed song to add after “Two Hearts.” I actually had a Dr. Who song on my 2018 Country Plus Showcase. Surely, there must be another good “doctor” song out there to add to the March-April list ? This must happen.

Kris Kristofferson’s and Rita Coolidge’s daughter Casey Kristofferson has her own band, and here’s my selection from her band’s new album, Blessed and Cursed.

4/24/19 New Albums

Thanks to a rainy day, I have time to add some descriptions this week.

Randy Rogers will have an album release street party in San Marcos this weekend. The title song (Guy Clark/Stapleton cover) is a welcome part of my March-April list: Hellbent on a Heartache. 

The Steel Blossoms are the first signees to Jerry Salley’s new music label, Billy Jam Records. The description is promising.

Tylor and the Train Robbers bring some western to the table.

(Friday Edit: I just found the George Shingleton and Casey Kristofferson albums, so check those out, too)

Jack Ingram’s new album coincides with his all-star annual “Mack, Jack, and McConnaughey” charity event in Austin. It’ll be two days of concerts this year. Chris Stapleton is the first day, but the “private pre-sale” knocked out all the tickets before the public had an opportunity to buy. The second day will be Jack himself, along with Holly Williams, Wade Bowen, Scott Stapp, Butch Walker, Jessi Alexander, Jon Randall, John Fulbright, and more.

Pink’s album includes a guest spot from Chris Stapleton, and of course it’s good. Bruce Springsteen also put out a new song to check out.

Erin Enderlin has a 3-song EP, but a couple of these songs were on her last album. Expect good traditional country. Here’s her recent cover of Brooks & Dunn’s Neon Moon

Rodrigo y Gabriela are an “acoustic rock guitar duo” from Mexico, but their guitar picking is worth checking out, no matter the genre.

Tammy Moxon is an Australian artist, so a lot of American country sites will miss this one. Here’s the video for the title song: Drives Me Sane

Bluegrass fans will want to check out Larry Stephenson Band (30 years), and Aubrey Eisenman & The Clydes.

Chad Richard is from the TX/LA border region. Here’s a look back at Chad Richard’s appearance on Jack Ingram’s Songwriter Series in 2016.

I saw the family band Bailen at SXSW. They’re more Americana/rock than country, but they have very nice harmonies.

When I saw Maddie and Tae last month in Nashville for a CMT taping, they included a good bit of steel guitar. I’m curious to hear how the “produced” versions of the songs on the EP compare to what I heard in person.

Lizzie Cates’ album is out today (Thursday). She is in the same age range as Maddie and Tae, and similarly combines pop country sensibilities with a good dose of organic country instrumentation. Here’s Stuck In Place.

Darryl Worley’s album includes some new, and some remakes. I saw him three years ago at the Grand Ole Opry.

Josh Ritter worked with Jason Isbell, so there will be plenty of Americana coverage.

I suppose King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are considered some form of rock, as is Rob Thomas. They sound plenty different from each other.

Kiefer Sutherland is scheduled to perform at the Forever Country Stage at CMA Fest, as is Darryl Worley.

There’s a posthumous release by JJ Cale, and there’s the Cranberries’ final album.

More album listings: Dean Brody, Cormac Neeson, Kirk Holloway, The Mountain Goats, Kolby Cooper, Patrick Park, Steve Bryson, Anders Osborne, Safe as Houses, Dylan Scott, Adam Capps, The Brookses, Bridge 19, Evan Bartels, and Guided By Voices.

I’ve already mentioned the early-week releases by Texans David Touchton and Jarrod Morris.

Aubrie Sellers released a Dwight Yoakam cover: A Thousand Miles From Nowhere.

4/24/19 Two Americana Groups Down

I featured creative videos by the Lonely Heartstring Band and Blank Range on my 160-song January-February 2019 Country Plus Showcase. Unfortunately, both groups decided to take a break.

Lonely Heartsring Band posted on FB on April 15th:

” After six incredible years of touring, recording and hanging out in our van, we’ve decided that it’s time to take a break. Beginning in September, aside from the odd show here and there, we will be going on an indefinite hiatus…

This isn’t a final goodbye, just a break for us to grow individually.”

Blank Range posted on FB on March 12th:

“After touring extensively for the past several years, Blank Range is taking a step back to have a little time at home. We’re extremely appreciative of your support over the years and grateful for all of our incredible experiences along the way! For now, we look forward to spending time with our families and digging in to future pursuits. ”

Since this is a fairly short post, I’ll highlight a couple of songs I added to my March-April list in the last week or so:

Tylor and The Train Robbers, “Ballad of Black Jack Ketchum”

Fiddlin Ray Bruckman, “Farewell From A Rambler”

4/23/19 Texas Updates

Over the weekend, we saw David Touchton, who just released a double live album. If you like “old school country blues,” check him out. He was wearing a Ray Wylie cap, and covered songs by Guy, Townes,and Merle, in addition to his originals. He said that he wrote this song 14 years ago, when he moved to Austin from Houston: Lonesome Road.

Jarrod Morris also released a new album yesterday. His style is very much “Texas country.” Both of these artists are welcome additions to my March-April 2019 Country Plus Showcase.

Jarrod’s album was recorded at the site of the Larry Joe Taylor Festival in Stephenville, which is this week. By the time I could get loose from my schedule to consider going, the good hotels were already booked. Maybe next year ? Similarly, the annual Bob Wills Day festival in the tiny town of Turkey is this week, and nearby hotels were already booked. Some of Bob Wills’ band will be there, including 91-year-old Leon Rausch. There’s a great example of living, breathing, country and western music history !

Bloomin’ Temple is also this weekend, and has a pretty varied lineup that’s worth checking out. Randy Rogers has a street party this weekend at Cheatham Street in San Marcos (which Randy owns), which will also be his big album release party.

On the more “pop country” end of things, the IHeart Country Festival will be in Austin in a couple of weeks. There will again be a free “Daytime Village” in the afternoon. We tried to go to that last year, but couldn’t find suitable parking. Most people were parking on the median and that kind of thing or using “Uber” and such, but we need to be able to park somewhere that we have an accessible path to our destination, and I’m not that into sardine-like crowds, anyway. Here’s a look back at the 2018 IHeartCountry Daytime Village. I don’t think we’ll bother even trying the free part.

We did get tickets to the KNBT Americana Music Jam at Gruene Hall, May 19th. Sixteen acts have been announced so far (Randy, Wade, REK, Ray Wylie, Jamie Lin, Darrell Scott, and so on). Gruene is a small venue, like 800 people small. One of the recent additions is the Groobees reunion. I’ll admit that I wasn’t familiar with them, but their back story is interesting: Wide Open Spaces.

We’re also planning to see such artists as Jason Eady and Cody Johnson/Randall King/Kevin Fowler in May. Here’s one of Randall’s: Takin’ Me A Heartbreak.

For western fans, there’s the South Texas Cowboy Gathering in Seguin. I’m going to talk to my brother to see if he is interested, because Seguin’s an easy drive.

Cory Morrow has a new festival (music, car show, and air show) at the San Marcos airport, and they’re expecting a crowd of 30,000: Go Wheels Up.



4/19/19 155 Songs and Rising

About three days ago, I finally got up to 100 (and was at just 40 the first week of April), and was wondering if I needed to extend my March-April list to May. I had a big block of time the last day or two to do a whole bunch of digging, and pulled in songs from near and far, including Australia, New Zealand, UK, Germany, and France. We just blew past 150 songs March-April Country Plus Showcase

There’s more new stuff out there than I realized yesterday, and I found some nice clusters of songs. I edited yesterday’s post to include a few more albums.

I plan to take a couple of days off for Easter, but for the classic country fans, I’ll mention the wild success on the 1950 country charts of “Peter Cottontail.” Gene Autry, Jimmy Wakely, and Johnnie Lee Wills all had great success with the song, but the very first was Mervin Shiner. He was born in 1921. I have no idea if he is still living, but in November of 2016, the television station in Tampa brought him in to sing a few songs. Here’s Mervin Shiner singing very well at age 95: I Got A Thing About Trains. The station got him in touch with Dolly Parton, with whom he sang when she was just 20. Here’s their reunion, November 30th, 2016.




4/18/19 New Music ?

I have to put the question mark this week, because I’m looking around the places I usually look for new releases, and it appears almost nobody is trying to release anything on Easter weekend.

Here are the few new albums I did find: Lowdown Drifters, MoeDell, Will Kimbrough, Daniel Norgren, Shea Abshier & The Nighthowlers, Josh Gray, The Yawpers, Unspoken Tradition, The Cole Trains, and Jeffrey Halford & The Healers.

Since there’s so little this week, I’ll dig back for some things I (and my readers) might have missed in the last couple of weeks.

BB Palmer is irreverent alt-country from Alabama. Dauphin Island Parkway is in Mobile. The “Governor Bentley” they refer to used to be my neighbor when I was a kid in Tuscaloosa.

I apparently missed Savannah Morris’ new album, “Mixed Emotions,” which was released a couple of weeks ago. I did a little digging, and it turns out her father is in Loretta Lynn’s band. The particular song I chose for my YouTube list showcases her yodeling: Ranger Wilder. That sounds like Ranger Doug making a guest appearance, maybe ? Check this album out, folks.

I’m up to 118 songs on the March-April Showcase , which is up from just a hundred a day or two ago, so there’s plenty of new stuff to check out.

One of the things I’m wrestling with right now is how many “covers” to include on my “new country” lists. I certainly include some, but there are so many “classic covers” albums flooding the market right now, like the Brooks & Dunn “Reboot” or the Steve Earle tribute to Guy Clark or the Squeezebox Bandits’ Tex-Mex versions of Texas classics or Dervish’s “Great Irish Songbook,” or earlier this year, Ronnie Milsap’s duets. These are all worthy projects, and I want to give them mention. I also don’t want to just load down my “new country” list with nothing but remakes. I don’t want it to get like the movies, where nearly everything is a sequel, prequel, side story, or remake. There are so many people making new stuff, so I’d rather keep that at the forefront of a new country list. I will continue to include some covers, but I have to maintain some balance.

Roughstock posted album sales numbers for the week of April 15th.  My main takeaway isn’t which album “ranked” where, but how pitifully low all the numbers are across the board. Album sales across the board have dried to a trickle. Anyone making real money from music is doing so through touring or other means. Look at the “Breakthrough” soundtrack at just 400, for instance ? The big song from that was heavily promoted at the ACM Awards. Sales of 400 for the album ? Think about how much it costs to record an album, and how little the individuals involved actually make from each album sale.

I’d rather just put the “Old Town Road” deal to bed, and let it do whatever it’s going to do, but I must point out some interesting “journalism” from the New York Times: “Nashville’s initial resistance suggests some unfortunate things about country as a genre” “But perhaps the greatest indictment of how the country music leadership handled “Old Town Road” comes from a cursory listen to some other songs on the chart.”

Hold up, hoss. Your issue is with Billboard. What did “Nashville” or “country music leadership” have to do with this ? The guy made a song, his manager admitted manipulating the charts (Rolling Stone article), and Billboard made the decision that it did. Blaming country music leadership or Nashville or the country music genre as a whole for whatever Billboard did or didn’t decide is bullshit.