9/1/19 Labor Day Weekend

PBS article, “Labor Wars In The US” https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/theminewars-labor-wars-us/

Smithsonian Magazine article, “The Coal Mining Massacre America Forgot” https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/forgotten-matewan-massacre-was-epicenter-20th-century-mine-wars-180963026/

Oxford University Press article, “Ten things to understand about the Molly Maguires” https://blog.oup.com/2013/12/ten-things-to-understand-about-the-molly-maguires/

My YouTube list of coal songs https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08yWYJ2Sr_UeqY6DZxsxFzM

8/31/19 Alabama vs Duke

Today is the first day of the college football season for many teams, including my Alma mater, Alabama. My last year at Alabama was 1991, when Jay Barker was a freshman quarterback. Yesterday, Jay’s wife Sara Evans released an album with the Barker Family Band.

Alabama football has many celebrity fans: https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2018/2/17/16895258/celebrity-alabama-crimson-tide-fans

Lauren Alaina is another Bama fan, and she will be on Dancing With The Stars. https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/country/6685927/lauren-alaina-american-idol-working-with-espn-history-college-football

Some, but not all members of Little Big Town are Bama fans: https://amp.montgomeryadvertiser.com/amp/1012562001

Outside of country,Alabama has the Drake curse: https://thespun.com/sec/alabama-crimson-tide/alabama-fans-upset-after-school-posts-video-of-drake-repping-crimson-tide

The closing song on my Bluegrass Covers list is an instrumental version of Alabama’s fight song. The “Pickin’ On” series includes the fight songs for other teams, too.

Let’s see what I can find for the Duke Blue Devils.

Aubrie Sellers released a song yesterday with Steve Earle, and his band is called The Dukes: https://youtu.be/ExmggxLPkuE

The Dukes are not to be confused with The Duhks, who pronounce their name “ducks” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7SEqKRicJPa_Z_v_LNs-kg

The Rappin’ Duke from 1984 is on my “Hip Hop Meets Country Plus” list https://youtu.be/85G5SI5Nu3s

8/30/19 August List At 205 Artists

I added twenty new songs in the last day, and mixed them in with the rest of this month’s lot: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q

There’s a bit of everything in there. Today’s new albums from Trisha Yearwood and Sheryl Crow featured lots of high-profile guests. Sara Evans, The Grascals, and others with new albums are now on the August list.

This week included plenty of individual song and/or video releases, too. Craig Morgan, Dolly Parton, and Paul Cauthen all have religious themes, so they’re in a row. Madison Kozak’s recent video is next to those. Ashley McBryde released the first song from her next album.

Donna Jo Smith is a harpist, and she covers a variety of styles on her new album (I included her take on the old time fiddle tune, “Pig Ankle Rag”).https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/donnajosmith6

We won tickets to attend Colter Wall’s Austin City Limits taping this evening. ACL will stream the event live at 8 central time.

My “Island Country Vibe” list is up to 42 songs. I especially added more classic Hawaiian material: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09gcNdHaAXRxhYc8-scNOUi

Alabama Live interviewed Marcus King: https://www.al.com/life/2019/08/hes-23-southern-and-the-guitar-hero-of-the-future.html

“I’ve been focusing on songwriting and writing some good ol’ soul music but also with a country music element to it. I guess the closest thing I could possibly relate it to is when Ray Charles was doing country & western.”

My “Hip Hop Meets Country Plus” list https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-V1Zm3r_8zuhMVhWlU0O00 that I started a week or two ago won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It is now at 50+ songs. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Glen Campbell are among the entries. The “Johnny Cash Remixed” album was released in 2009, produced by John Carter Cash, Snoop Dogg, and Beyonce’s father Mathew Knowles: https://www.nme.com/news/music/johnny-cash-22-1316499

We bought that album in a discount bin a few years back. It didn’t fare well critically or commercially, but it is a curious listen.

8/29/19 New Albums This Week

Kalsey Kulyk, Zach Bryan, Morgans Mill, Jedd Hughes, Trisha Yearwood, Sheryl Crow, Burnett, Martin Simpson, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Season Ammons, Garrett T. Capps, No Time Flatt, Sara Evans and the Barker Family Band, The Grascals, Joan Shelley, The Reklaws, R.T. Johnson, High Country Hustle, Brad Cunningham, Sandra Porter, Chuck Wagon Gang, Ocotillo,and the 5-CD soundtrack for the Ken Burns country documentary.

My August Country Plus Showcase will likely top out around 200 songs, like the June and July lists did. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q

The 185th song added to the August list is a bit of light-hearted fun, “Let’s Get Drunk And Eat Waffles” by Moo’s Makita.

I also started an “Island Country Vibe” list, which includes bits of beach country, country reggae and other Caribbean country-related music, Hawaiian steel guitar and other music from the Pacific,etc. I included plenty of classic country covers and remixes: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09gcNdHaAXRxhYc8-scNOUi

8/28/19 CMA Nominees

Congratulations to all of the nominees, and the musicians, songwriters, engineers, producers, and other team members and their families: https://cmaawards.com/nominees-winners/

Whatever one thinks of award shows in general, or whether one “likes” this act or that act, television is one of the best ways for country acts to reach an audience, other than radio.

The biggest segment on the show last year was an excellent Ricky Skaggs medley. This has just 91,108 views so far: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIFKxHNj6Iw

Most so-called “real country fans” would rather just complain about what they don’t like than to actually support and give praise when there’s something good like this.

The CMA Entertainer award usually takes touring strongly into account, and all five entertainer candidates this year have very strong touring numbers. Here’s a link to the highest-paid of 2018: https://www.billboard.com/photos/8520668/2018-highest-paid-musicians-money-makers

That said, Garth Brooks won a couple of years ago, and Keith Urban won last year, and Chris Stapleton didn’t release an album last year. They’ve all “done numbers” on their tours to deserve high-level recognition, but once you get past the touring data, they don’t have as much current music to make their case. I think it’s between Eric Church (who had the top earning country tour for the first half of 2019) and Carrie Underwood. I’ll go ahead and predict Carrie Underwood. Radio’s poor treatment of other women has created a backlash that could help her cause, even though she has enjoyed great radio support throughout her career.

The new artist category is interesting, since I have seen all of these perform, except Morgan Wallen. This is a strong group. The CMHOF recently started a video series called “Unbroken Circle: Exploring Country Music History With Carly Pearce” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMmBvFTBAGA&list=PLZVv4A-Ltp551jARxg0ACjO5eZBKY8aZs

The “musician” award is always stacked. Every one of these people is top of the line. I mentioned Paul Franklin in a post just a couple of days ago, but I’ll be happy for anyone who wins this, and everyone nominated for this category.

When the hosts for this year’s CMA Awards were announced, it was advertised that the theme of this year’s show is “celebrating legendary women in country music.”

Here’s a look at the number of “number ones” by some well-known stars: http://pulsemusic.proboards.com/thread/89631/most-1s

Dolly Parton -25

Reba McEntire -25

Tammy Wynette -20

Crystal Gayle – 18

Loretta Lynn – 16

Carrie Underwood -15

The Judds – 14 (plus Wynonna has 4 solo)

Rosanne Cash – 11

Anne Murray – 10

Janie Fricke – 10

Tanya Tucker- 10

I’m taking nothing away from Tanya Tucker, but this quote from a recent New Yorker article has me scratching my head a little: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/tanya-tuckers-new-album-might-be-the-best-of-her-long-underrated-career

“Although there are only four women who’ve had more success than Tucker on the country singles chart, each of whom is referred to on a more or less first-name basis by America—Reba, Dolly, Loretta, Tammy—she is still taken less seriously than her musical output has long since warranted.”

Again, I’m taking nothing at all away from Tanya Tucker, and I hope to see her during Americana week. I like her album. I’m just trying to figure out how Crystal Gayle isn’t even in this discussion at all ?

Crystal Gayle has released a couple of songs from her upcoming album, and I haven’t seen much media coverage. She released the title track a couple of days ago, and it has just 45 views ?! Come on, folks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1gvwxKzXwQ

Crystal Gayle was a huge star when I was young. Let’s give her the credit she deserves, too.

In other news, I just read that Donnie Fritts passed away. He was featured on one of the “country funk” compilations I mentioned a couple of posts back. Here’s one of his songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svYwDAYXOY8

8/26/19 Grand Ole Opry Archives, 1939-1960

Here’s a link to a hundred Opry shows from 1939-1956, from a page by “dont1961” https://archive.org/details/GrandOleOpryOtr

Here’s a hundred more from 1956-1958: https://archive.org/details/GrandOleOpryOtr-2

Here’s a hundred more from 1958-1960: https://archive.org/details/GrandOleOpryOtr-3

Two dozen more from the era: https://archive.org/details/GrandOleOpryOtr-4

I don’t know who “dont1961” is, but I greatly appreciate the effort to assemble these public domain recordings into a very convenient format. The channel has a whole lot of other cool recordings of that era: https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22dont1961%22&sort=-date

8/24/19 What The Funk ?

Funk music became popular in the mid-1960s, and it didn’t take long until there were attempts to combine elements of country and funk music, though most weren’t especially successful.

A logical starting place is an obscure group named Country Funk that released an album of the same name in 1970. Here’s the Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/album/4FUwVCxBTO2zftUMHzyfAl?si=G2YPugyxTzCfsRH49mmWZw

Here’s a short review by the Phoenix New Times: https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/music/country-funk-1970-6584642

“Country Funk’s 1970 debut album doesn’t really have any country or funk etched in its grooves.”

This group was largely forgotten, but Beck sampled “Apart Of Me” from their album in his single “Sissyneck” from his extremely successful 1996 album, “Odelay.”

In 2011, Country Funk released their second album, “Zuma,” which had been recorded decades ago: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/countryfunk

Here’s the website for Country Funk: http://www.countryfunk.net/

Of course, this group was far from the only act attempting to link these two styles of music.

Light In The Attic Records released a compilation album in 2012, “Country Funk 1969-1975” https://lightintheattic.net/releases/729-country-funk-1969-1975

They followed this with a second volume in 2014, Country Funk 1967-1974″ https://lightintheattic.net/releases/1176-country-funk-volume-ii-1967-1974

Most of the material on the above two records was not marketed as “country funk” at the time. Rather, the label chose songs from that era that fit their idea of country funk, “applied retrospectively based solely on the feel of the songs.”

Here are Pitchfork reviews of both albums:https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/16886-country-funk-1969-1975/ and https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/19604-various-artists-country-funk-volume-ii-1967-1974/.

Of modern artists, Brent Cobb is the first name that comes to mind as an act who directly channels country funk influences. This NPR feature on Brent Cobb mentions the Light In The Attic “country funk” albums, and Brent often mentions in interviews that one of his influences is Larry Jon Wilson:https://www.npr.org/2018/05/07/608124909/first-listen-brent-cobb-providence-canyon

Most of the time, discussions of “country funk” are from the angle of funk influencing country, but there are also good examples of country-influenced funk.

In 1970, Parliament’s first album, “Osmium,” includes a great example of funk-meets-country, “Little Ole Country Boy.” https://youtu.be/pFNM7nG2OUQ

A teenage Paul Franklin was on steel guitar, as discussed here: https://youtu.be/-UanwC8ld5w https://countrymusichalloffame.org/plan-your-visit/exhibits-activities/public-programs/nashville-cats/paul-franklin/

“While still in Detroit, Franklin played on a  a few rock and R&B albums, including a Parliament album…”

Franklin was born in 1954, and moved to Nashville at age 17: https://calsharp.com/Paul1.html

De La Soul’s 1988 song “Potholes In My Lawn” sampled Parliament’s “Little Ole Country Boy” and “Magic Mountain” by Eric Burdon and War. De La Soul’s album is titled “3 Feet High And Rising” after the Johnny Cash song “Five Feet High And Rising,” and it’s generally considered one of the best hip hop albums of its era. According to Songfacts, “Potholes In My Lawn” has the unusual distinction of being played on Mars: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/de-la-soul/potholes-in-my-lawn

Wilbur “Bad” Bascomb’s 1972 “Black Grass” is another fine example of country-infused funk. https://youtu.be/zwY16Mtb5ws

In 1982, Disco Four sampled “Black Grass” in their song “Country Rap And Rock.”

I included some of these on my “Hip Hop Meets Country” list: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-V1Zm3r_8zuhMVhWlU0O00

Technically, the Parliament and Bad Bascomb funk songs predated hip hop, but I included them next to the hip hop acts who sampled them.

In April, 77-year-old Swamp Dogg told Rolling Stone that he’s working on a new country album with John Prine: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/swamp-dogg-announces-country-album-with-john-prine-justin-vernon-825850/

I haven’t seen any follow-up. Swamp Dogg has a quite varied catalog. His biggest country writing credit is “She’s All I Got,” which was a huge hit for Johnny Paycheck in 1971, and has been covered by many.

8/23/19 Videos

Since there are three dozen or so new albums today, it’ll take some time to digest all of today’s new music. I have added about 15 songs to my August list in the last 24 hours, so enjoy picking through the pile for some that you like. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q

Since I’m pressed for time, I’ll point out a few recent music videos:

I included the audio version of the new Copper Chief song on my list, but the video version goes on for over 8 minutes and includes the band members talking about Memphis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw6Ah5YlkaE

The audio for Karly Driftwood’s “Bake You A Cake” was already on my March-April list, but now there’s a video to go with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2yTjW1QxZ8&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q&index=9&t=0s

The Flat River Band released a video for “Every Dog Has Its Day” from an upcoming album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P5XV-KbtYM&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q&index=18

Kevin Fowler’s “Heaven” has been on my August list since he released it early this month, but the album is out today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUmkcTLZkrU&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q&index=22&t=0s

Mean Mary has a really cool sound. Her album comes out in October, but she released a video for “Dark Woods” earlier this month: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uANjXCT-qHE&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09OfzcFwcXG8kIdG-WVMaCQ&index=2&t=0s

8/22/19 New Albums This Week

Midland, Vince Gill, Tanya Tucker, Kevin Fowler, Dalton Domino, Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Michael Cleveland, Esther Rose, Ottoman Turks,Leslie Stevens, Jason Hawk Harris, Taylor Swift, Them Coulee Boys, Ty Herndon, 40 Acre Mule, The Blue Highways, American Young, Erin Enderlin, Bo Smith, Joe Hott, Croy and the Boys, Heather May, Honeywine, Larry Dunn, Emiliano Pardo, Tim Helnore, Carlos Washington’s Steel Horse Swing, Seth James, Robert Randolph, Ryan Joseph, Coal Cave Hollow Boys, Sunny War, David Wax Museum, Quicksand Soup, Ward Hayden & The Outliers, Holly Tucker, and Staci Griesbach.

I expect plenty of individual song releases, too. The “product eligibility period” for the Grammys is October 1,2018-August 31,2019. The CMA Awards nominees will be announced August 28, and the product eligibility period cutoff for the CMA Awards was June 30,2019.

My August list is currently at 159 entries, so it’s a plenty busy month: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q

8/20/19 A Few New Songs and Albums

NPR First Listen features Midland’s upcoming album: https://www.npr.org/2019/08/20/750781785/midland-connoisseurs-of-country-craft-evolves-its-vintage-sound

Louise Mandrell will release an album October 4th, over thirty years since her last: https://musicrow.com/2019/08/louise-mandrell-to-release-first-new-album-in-three-decades/

I added several new songs this morning to my August list, which now includes 135 artists: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08us-o88qKzw1LmH8Xsuf8q

Victoria Bailey released a new song. She is not well known, but I like her voice. Her songs made my lists the last couple of years. Here’s “The Beginning” https://youtu.be/mpqW3CzsiQ4

The Cog Is Dead has some different songs. Here’s their new one, “The Story of Steaklas” https://youtu.be/JmU8YlSdnAk

Sweepy Walker is the grandson of Billy Walker, who was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Here’s “Leavin On My Mind” https://youtu.be/GkSeVL5_OW4

Emiliano Pardo (Rome, Italy) released an EP of instrumentals today, “Western Vibes” https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-ys3i7QH4lMxSSXwtbCPAr0Smo6N1tDz

Sturgill Simpson released a video for “Sing Along” https://youtu.be/SpSMoBp8awM

The Blue Highways (London) will release their debut EP Friday. One of their videos is among the 670 entries on my May list: https://youtu.be/9amxtsLmcp0

Carlos Washington’s Steel Horse Swing released a new album, “Little Bit Of Texas.” It doesn’t appear to be up on Spotify or YouTube at this time, but you can hear clips of the songs at CDBaby. https://www.steelhorseswing.com/