5/31/19 500+ for May

Today’s additions are at the very bottom: Over FIVE HUNDRED acts – May Country Plus Showcase

It is disappointing that this massive list drew under 800 views, but I realize how unwieldy it is to navigate a list that large. My lists always draw small numbers, but that’s the fewest number of views per song I’ve had in the series.

I plan a much shorter June list.

I also plan a list just for the acts I see during CMA week next week.


5/29/19 New Albums

Richard Lynch,Jim Cuddy, Jensen Sisters, Thomas Rhett, Ian Noe, Austin Jenckes, Doug Seegers, Meghan  Hayes, Maren Morris (3-song acoustic EP of songs from her last album),  ESOEBO, Dalton and the Sheriffs, Stevie Redstone, Mike Frazier, Left Lane Cruiser, Resonant Rogues, Tanbark, Rich Layton and Tough Town, Leaving Thomas, The Valley Authority, Jessie-Rose, About Kings, Kentucky Dirt Band, Caney Creek Company, Lacy Nelson, Kristian Bush,  Steven James and the Jaded, and RJ Harper, Bailey Harper, Dani Taylor, Connor Manley, Jake Clayton, River Arkansas, Shane Smith and the Saints, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brandon Jones, Julian Pinelli,  Karleen Watt, Blanco Brown, and Carl Anderson. There’s also a Buck Owens compilation from 1971-5.

My road trip started out right, as I found a free preview of Sirius XM radio, so we’ve been listening to the outlaw country station all day.

Americanafest announced the first round of acts for the September event

I have seen 25 of these first 90. It is worth noting that there is no overlap so far between the KNBT Americana Jam I attended in Texas and the Americanafest roster.

5/28/19 Updates To Five Playlists

I’m closing in on my goal of FIVE HUNDRED different acts with new music in May: May Country Plus Showcase. I’ve never challenged myself to find that many in such a short span of time. Although there is a gigantic number of people who aren’t well known, I do include the big names, too. Lauren Alaina released a new video for her current single today, and Eric Church did yesterday, and they’re on the list with everyone else, and there are bits of everything from very traditional country to bluegrass to world folk to genreless singer-songwriter to yes, even the much-maligned “pop country.” It’s all in there somewhere. I expect to try a much shorter list in June.

I spend so much time discussing the May project, but I also tinker with my other lists.

A Few Good Tunes is my rotating short list of songs from across all genres. I try to maintain this list between nine and fifteen songs, and change songs out fairly often. At this moment, the list includes everything from yodeling to Tesla coils.

My Funny and Weird list is also all-genre. I’ll highlight this eefing song from 1960 by Billy Hutch. That whole album is like that, so if you want to go into an eefing wormhole, there’s a good place to start.

My old western music list is mostly from the mid-1950s and before. Basically, I wanted to highlight material from before the epic Marty Robbins western record. I try to maintain this list at 50 songs. Every so often, a song is taken down from YouTube for whatever reason, and I add other songs to fill in. Here’s The Last Yodel, Yodeling Slim Clark

Written By Chris Stapleton includes a few 2019 entries near the end. Since Riley Green’s career has started taking off in the last year or so, I’ll point out his 2016 cover of Fire Away.

5/27/19 CoJo and Co.

That’s Texas country, y’all. There was plenty of steel guitar and fiddle last night at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels/Canyon Lake Texas.

First up was Randall King, one of the most promising young  country neotraditionalists in Texas or beyond. “Mirror, Mirror” is one of the songs he performed, and the song is on my 2018 YouTube list. Randall played a new song that he expects to hit the market this fall, so keep an ear open for that.

Next up was Kevin Fowler, who always brings a party atmosphere. A lot of his songs are funny and/or about beer, but  he does feature a lot of steel guitar and fiddle. We attended his Texas Music Scene television taping last year, and the videos are uploaded to their YouTube channel after the episodes air. In addition to his own songs, he included “Family Tradition” from Hank Williams, Jr and “Fat Bottom Girls” from Queen, complete with fiddle and steel guitar.

This was the second night of sold out shows at the 5,000-capacity amphitheater for Cody Johnson. I bought the tickets back in March, not realizing he would also get scheduled for CMA, so I will see him again soon. He is scheduled to be the final act at the three nights of shows at the amphitheater in Nashville for CMA, so his huge Texas following is starting to carry over nationally. He will also be one of Brooks and Dunn’s guests for the upcoming CMT Crossroads concert taping during CMA week.

Cody Johnson’s show featured plenty of steel guitar and fiddle, and even a bit of banjo. He is very appreciative of the military, so that’s a great fit for Memorial Day weekend.  I’d expect the national fans enjoying acts like Luke Combs and Jon Pardi will also enjoy his music.  Cody Johnson’s “On My Way To You” peaked at #12 on Billboard Country Airplay last week, so his partnership with Warner appears to be producing results.

In addition to his own songs, CoJo covered such acts as Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, and George Strait, and had King and Fowler join him to cover Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink.” One of the songs on my January-February YouTube list is “Honky Tonk Mood” from his January album. This is a great example of a song that is perfectly suited to a large audience like this. He hit a big, sustained note at the end of that one.

This was a very full night of music. Randall King’s set began at 7:50, and Cody Johnson ended close to midnight.

I will say that there’s a slight downside to a crowd that is there to get drunk and loud. After we got in our vehicle to leave, waiting to be able to back up, some random drunk dude opened the back door and started to get in, saying where he wanted us to drive him. That was just plain weird. We sent him on his way without any real issue.

Overall, though, these guys put on a fun show. If you want “Texas Country”  with steel, fiddle, and a party atmosphere, these guys bring it.




5/26/19 A Look Ahead To CMA Week

The official CMA app has 359 entries one can schedule. The festival raises money for music education. official artist profiles

That doesn’t include the many meet and greet opportunities at Fan Fair. That lineup will be announced Tuesday.

The “official” showcases are just the tip of the iceberg. There are acts of all sorts playing every sort of venue. Based on last year, I figure approximately a thousand acts will be doing something during the week.

Sites such as Music City Meet and Greets and Country Star Photos do a great job  tracking the vast number of “unofficial” showcases during the week. Country Star Photos has a list of five dozen fan club parties, and fifty unofficial events

Ole Red will feature over 50 free performances over four days, including some very well known acts: Will be very crowded, so get there early if you expect to see the biggest names

Christie D’s fourth annual party includes over forty acts playing for free at BB King’s on Thursday. This event literally grew from a fan gathering in a hotel suite into this full-scale event featuring dozens of acts, some of whom are also playing official CMA showcases. Traditionalists will recognize names like Ray Scott and Erin Enderlin. There are also songwriters who have collaborated with Luke Combs and other currently huge acts. Speaking of Luke Combs, there are many videos of him on Christie D’s YouTube channel

I will mostly stick to the official and/or free CMA events in the downtown area. By some miracle, we got a good deal on a downtown hotel for once, and I’d rather not try to have to drive anywhere once we’re settled in. All things equal or nearly so, I will go for what is close, free or cheap, and air conditioned.

For years, I wrongly assumed CMA would be too crowded, too expensive, and only the style you hear on the radio (and no offense to those of my readers who like or prefer that material), but there are so many free or inexpensive shows of every possible style. Because the hordes of “pop country” fans are busy swarming around the acts they enjoy, the audiences are usually very reasonable for the more traditional acts and indie acts.

The official Forever Country stage is completely free to the public and includes several Grand Ole Opry members. Hall of Fame member Ricky Skaggs will play there, and he will also be part of a Keith Whitley tribute at the CMHOF. Ricky Skaggs will also be one of the panel members discussing the Ken Burns documentary at Fan Fair.

Ray Stevens and Randy Travis are among the many names at the Close-Up Stage.

Plenty of acts at the smaller stages are worth checking into, also. Tony Jackson, Tommy Ash, Kylie Frey, Marty Brown, and on and on.

Yes, there’s a lot to wade through that might not be to your taste, but there’s so much going on that there is probably something going on somewhere that is. It’s just a matter of doing a bit of homework to find what fits. I enjoy  checking out some I’ve never heard of. When I look on the app, I often start with the “least scheduled” acts to look up. I figure these are the acts I can see up close most easily.

5/25/19 More New Music

I was busy with other things yesterday, and missed some of the new album releases:

My huge oversight was Ray Fulcher’s EP. He is from Georgia, and is close with Luke Combs. I “tunnel vision” on the obscure material so much sometimes that I miss the obvious, bigger ones.

My goal now is to have 500 artists on my May new music list. This is a fun challenge, and it amazes me that so much material is out there.

Paul Lagendyk is from Ontario, and his new album is called “Blue Collared Cowboy,” which reflects his traditional country influences.

Nilsen’s Southern Harmony is based in Oslo, Norway, and I included one of their songs on my May list.

Cody Forrest is from Louisiana, and his new EP has a “Texas country” sound.

I’m In A Cowboy Band released an EP, or as they put it, the “last chapter of our album.” They’re based in Montevideo, Uruguay. As far as I know, this is the only act from South America on my May list so far. I did mention acts last year from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Ecuador, and there’s a Texas act on my January list who moved from Brazil as a teenager.

Miki Speer has a new EP and she’s from Minnesota

The Runout from South Carolina describes their album as “spacious Americana.”

I am looking at the Amazon new releases at the moment, and see that a group called the Kentucky Dirt Band has a new EP out today, and apparently, the Wes Cook Band released a 6-song project yesterday, as did Michael Christopher.

Alan Bibey & Grasstowne released a religious bluegrass album, and Jimmy Fortune also released a religious album, as did Jared Alan Meyers.

I’m sure most of my readers have heard the recent news that the Turnpike Troubadours had to abruptly cancel shows. Here’s hoping for the best, but let me add that I want the best for anyone dealing with such issues, regardless of their music. This goes far beyond music and to basic decency and humanity. Think about the hateful, nasty, and personal attacks some of the indie crowd would make if this were a “pop country” or otherwise mainstream artist. It really bothers me to think about how personal some of these anti-mainstream people make their attacks against artists and even the families of artists.

On to good news…

Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen stepped up on very short notice to fill the Troubadours’ headlining spot at the Lone Star Jam in Austin this weekend. Here’s a great, in-depth interview with Randy Rogers at Celebrity Access

Notice how positive Randy is. He has built a loyal, consistent fan base over many years, but you never see his fans attacking other artists.

5/24/19 400 in May

400. Yes, four hundred ! Thanks to my readers for their suggestions, too. That’s how I learned about Donice Morace’s new album today, so one of his songs is now on my list as a result. Four Hundred Songs And Counting in May

I’m just one guy with no real resources or connections, so I just find whatever I can. I don’t try to go “encyclopedic” most months, but I was curious to see how many I could find in a one-month span during the busy part of the year. I realize that the downside of this is that “good stuff” gets buried among some material of questionable merit, so I will point out a few acts specifically:

I’ve seen Frank Martin Gilligan a couple of times. He had some success in Nashville decades ago, and he has cool stories like the time he met Garth Brooks before Garth became so famous. Frank Martin Gilligan’s new song is “Do It Right.”

I paired the aforementioned Donice Morace’s song “Through The Jukebox” with a group called “Brother Jukebox.”

I placed Jon Pardi’s new song next to Luke Combs, and I hope to see both at Brooks and Dunn’s CMT Crossroads taping during CMA week. The challenge is that the taping is free to the public and first-come, first-served, so getting in might take some work. As of now, this looks like the single best free show of the week.

When I listened to Lukas Nelson’s song “Bad Case” again the other day, I noticed an odd sound right at the end that reminded me of throat singing, so that’s why I included a “not country” throat singing entry next for comparison.

Ashton Shepherd is one of Alabama’s better known artists, and she has a new song, “This Heart Won’t Break.”

“The Leavin'” is the first single by Dayna Bee, and she apparently played it recently for an event connected with Nashville Americana station WMOT.

I will be seeing Cody Johnson, Kevin Fowler, and Randall King on Sunday, and we’ll be in Nashville for CMA week in early June. Approximately a thousand acts will be playing in Nashville that week, and schedules are just starting to come into focus. It is a bit disappointing that the CMT Awards made no wheelchair accessible tickets available that I could find, but we should not have too much trouble finding something else that night.

5/23/19 New Albums

Willard Gayheart is a great story. The 87-year-old grandfather of Dori Freeman is releasing his own album. If you like Appalachian storytelling, this should be good.

The Lonesome River Band has been around since 1982, so expect their new album to be very good bluegrass.

I saw Dustin Sonnier in Louisiana last month at the Scott Boudin Festival, so I’ve heard a few of the songs from his new album live. I recommend for fans of Texas country and/or the current 90s neotraditional trend in Nashville. Both times I’ve seen Dustin Sonnier, he covered Conway Twitty more than once, so there’s a specific example of his influences.

The Stray Cats have reunited after decades. Their rockabilly swing style is not something that I ever thought of as “country” when they hit big so long ago, yet the hypertraditional  Ameripolitan people love ’em. Don’t get me wrong. They’re good at what they do, and I plan to find a song from this album to include on my list. It’s just weird  to see the praise of this style from the same Ameripolitan people who complain all the time about country artists not being country enough to suit them.

The Great American Trainwreck released their album on Thursday, so here’s an album to listen to while looking up all of the Friday albums.

On Amazon, I see there’s a listing for Eric Church on May 24th: “61 Days In Church Volume 5,” which appears to be 36 live recordings from 2017.

Also: David Luck, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jill Fulton, Liam Kennedy-Clark, August Manley, Matt Stell, Mountain Highway, Hudson Valley, Justin Townes Earle, Mavis Staples, Hayley Orrantia, Frankie Lee, Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters, and TK and the Holy Know-Nothings.

I will also mention the song release by Australian-born, New Zealand-based traditional country singer Shavonne: You’ve Jut Walked On Ahead. I first heard her when we were driving through the Texas Hill Country one time, and heard her on a Heart of Texas-affiliated station.

I saw a preview of an Aaron Watson video that’ll be out tomorrow. Alyssa Micaela posted that she will have a new song tomorrow, also.


5/22/19 The Voice Winner

The Voice’s YouTube channel now includes the original songs performed on the finale by the winner and the three runner-ups. I include a block of American Idol and Voice performances on my May Country Plus Showcase, regardless of genre, so that you can listen to the various finalists and country celebrity guests, and compare for yourselves. I realize these sorts of shows are “pop culture,” but if I’m going to include a cross section of what’s going on in the world of country and related forms of music, these shows do figure in.

Apparently, Voice winner Maelyn Jarmon is considered in the pop lane, and the three runners-up are in the country lane. I’ll go ahead and include all four in a block, as it would be weird to include the three runners-up and not the winner. Similarly, I included the runner-up on American Idol who isn’t considered country, but is a songwriter and guitar player. I didn’t include some of the other American Idol finale performances (one with Luke Bryan, one with Dan + Shay, and one with Kane Brown), because they were two-song medleys, and I’m trying to stick to a single song apiece.

5/21/19 250 Artists in May

My “May-June” list passed 250 songs already, so it is now just a May list, and I have little doubt I can grow this thing to 300. I’m including a lot more “mainstream” things this month, not necessarily because I like all the material, but because I’m curious to see just how damn many different ones I can find. Who knows, maybe someone looking at the list for one thing will stick around and discover something else ? Since it’s such a gigantic list, I’ll offer a few “recommended if you like” suggestions:

If you like the recent “country drinking songs” from artists like Luke Combs and Jon Pardi, you might also like this one from Vince Moreno: My Drinkin’ Drove Her To It

If you like “adult contemporary piano ballads,” you might like Angaleena Presley’s guest appearance on Jamie Freeman’s new album: Down Range

If you like “indie outlaw country,” then try this one from T.L. Harris: It’s Gone Too Far

If you like the novelty of a one-line song, here’s Mac Demarco’s Here Comes The Cowboy

If you like “highway music,” here’s a new one from Jackson Emmer: Long Road To Austin