2/8/18 Set Ups & Longnecks

Cody Jinks posted this 80-song list on Spotify: Cody Jinks’ Playlist

I’ve seen a lot of these artists perform in the last couple years: Colter Wall, Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson, Tyler Childers, Lucinda Williams, Chris Stapleton, Sunny Sweeney, Jason Isbell, The Steel Woods, Willie Nelson, Margo Price, George Strait , Lukas Nelson, Brent Cobb, Parker Millsap, Holly Williams, Brandy Clark, Turnpike Troubadours, Miranda Lambert, Jason Eady, Aubrie Sellers, Maren Morris, Jamie Lin Wilson, and Band of Heathens. I will see Whitey Morgan and Nikki Lane at Ameripolitan. I narrowly missed seeing Mr. Jinks last year. He played Texas when I was in Alabama, and Alabama when I was in Texas.



2/7/18 News Bits

SPBGMA bluegrass awards: 2018 Awards Winners and 2018 Midwest Regional Awards The songwriter winner, Donna Ulisse has a credit on this one: Rebekah Long – Fishing On the Cumberland    The female vocalist winner is Rhonda Vincent and the male vocalist winner is Russell Moore. He has a song on my Religious/Inspirational playlist.

The Grand Ole Opry added Chris Janson as a member. It’s nice that they’re rewarding the guy for showing up a lot, but Rhonda Vincent probably has more awards than Janson has  songs.

The Tumbleweed Festival lineup was announced yesterday. I have little interest in any camping festival in Kansas or anywhere else, but I might as well take a look at the names. Marty Stuart is always an outstanding choice. Cody Johnson seems to be the big story from the Texas scene so far in 2018. He went from what appears on paper to be a somewhat modest career going into 2018 to landing headline slots at all of the huge Texas rodeo events, and now he’s headlining this event. He’s drawing the bookings that I expected from Aaron Watson, Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, and Cody Jinks.

Oh, and for those looking for a festival with more women, I posted a few days back about the Songs on the Bayou songwriter festival in Louisiana. Women like Brigitte London aren’t just among the performers there, but among the planners. I’ve seen several talented women perform as part of their Last Honky Tonk Series.

I try to give a few spins to obscure and/or international acts. Here’s one from Brazil: Bastardos Country Rock

2/6/18 Chris, Carrie, and More

There are pretty much two big stories in “mainstream” country music so far in 2018: Chris Stapleton, and country-pop collaborations (Chris, Carrie, Maren,FGL,etc) impacting pop/all-genre charts.

Already in 2018, Chris achieved personal bests in pop (#9 on Billboard Hot 100 for “Say Something” with Justin Timberlake), country (#9 on Billboard country airplay), and Americana (“Midnight Train to Memphis” was #1 on the first two weeks of the Americana Music Association Singles chart, which debuted last month). This week, he became the first artist to achieve 1-2-3 on a Billboard country album weekly sales chart since Garth Brooks in 1992. The 1-2-3 also holds true for Billboard’s Americana chart.

Although Carrie Underwood’s current song with Ludacris isn’t to my taste, it is one of the highest-profile songs associated with a country artist so far this year.  I did watch American Idol the year Carrie was a contestant, in part because of Bo Bice, an Alabama contestant she beat out. Bo left a job at a music store to compete on the show, and my first cousin filled the vacated position. Alabamian Taylor Hicks won the next year (2006). Taylor now hosts a cable food/travel show , and released a song last year that I included in a block of songs with numbers in the title: Six Strings and Diamond Rings

Carrie Underwood’s debut album in 2005 was an incredible success, recognized by Billboard as the top-selling country album that decade. One of the singles on that album was written by Morgane Stapleton (who also sang backup vocals): Don’t Forget to Remember Me   As a fun bit of trivia, Carrie Underwood once voiced a character on Sesame Street: Carrie Underworm



2/5/18 Ameripolitan Awards, 2/9-13

Twangrila has features on the nominees in the various categories.

I Love Memphis interview with Ameripolitan founder Dale Watson

When the awards performers were first announced months ago, Brian Setzer was the big name promoted, but Ameripolitan quickly had to rescind that, because of a scheduling conflict. Ever since, the site has had the five other originally-announced performers and the note: “more performers to be announced…”  Well, we’re about a week out, and still waiting… The Ameripolitan Twitter has not tweeted since October.

Anyway, the Ameripolitan FB site posted a message including the following: “Let all your family and friends who can’t make it to Memphis this year and let them know that they can watch the show LIVE ! Feb 13th at 8pm Central.”

2/4/18 Last Honkytonk and Beyond

Brigitte London and friends have grown the Last Honky Tonk Music Series from 2014 into a national movement, booking independent acts at dozens of venues: Last Honky Tonk Music Series  The web site appears to be rather out of date, but it’s enough to give you an idea. As luck would have it, Kent Black’s BBQ here in San Marcos, is a host venue. Although the series is based in south Louisiana, Brigitte used to live in this region of Texas, and she knows a lot of people in a lot of places. The series is dedicated to the memory of Wayne Mills , who lived and performed in my home town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama for years. Some members of the current series roster also have ties to Tuscaloosa, including the youngest, ten-year-old Sadie McClendon.

Their newest venture is a songwriter festival in Morgan City, Louisiana, which will feature over a hundred artists: Songs On the Bayou   April 5th-15th. Keep an ear open for more announcements as we get closer to time.


2/3/18 Closing Songs

Jason James (an artist I saw last year at Gruene Hall) released an Ernest Tubb cover, “Let’s Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello, ” yesterday that will likely serve as the end track on my 2018 New Country Showcase until I find some original song release that fits as a closer.

I can’t always find songs that fit a theme, but the last ten or so songs on the 2017 New Country Showcase followed a theme of aging and death, then “Country Music’s Dead,” followed by Willie Nelson’s “Still Not Dead,” and closing with We Deserve A Happy Ending by Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.

For the 2015-2016 New Country Showcase , my closing track was “Rock Bottom, Pop 1” by Alaska bluegrass band The Nuther Brothers.

Groundhog Day

Before I get into the Friday releases, I’ll mention that the Western Music Association 2017 Traditional Western Album of the Year, “Cowboy” by the High Country Cowboys, is finally available on YouTube and Spotify      If you like western and cowboy music, check these brothers out. They’re the real deal.

Kentucky has always been a hotbed for country music (and Chris Stapleton’s & Sturgill Simpson’s performance together the other day represented the last three Grammy wins for country album), and much like Tyler Childers last year was the young Kentuckian to watch, this year it appears to be Dillon Carmichael: Made to Be a Country Boy

Here’s a new one from Clint Olson that I haven’t seen covered elsewhere: If I Had A Dime

Laura Benitez has a new album, but I found a live version of one of the songs for my 2017 showcase, instead: Nora Went Down A Mountain

I now have a block of three songs in a row with the word “road” in the title, thanks to recent releases from Wylie and the Wild West and Mike and the Moonpies: 2018 New Country Showcase , followed by two songs with “train” in the title.

When I think of Groundhog Day, I think of Bill Murray. The soundtrack to Murray’s 2010 film “Get Low” (set in the 1930s) includes Chris Stapleton’s Steeldrivers, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, and others dealing on some old-school bluegrass and gospel. The Steeldrivers even made a cameo appearance in the film, and Bill Murray has been a fan ever since.

2/1/18 New Music

2018 has been absolutely packed. I figured January would generate maybe 5 or 10 songs on 2018 New Country Showcase  , but I could easily fill this out to thirty, and that’s not even counting a ton of new music that I haven’t gotten to yet that other blogs have given very positive reviews. Some of the recent additions here are from Joshua Hedley (whom I saw at Americanafest, but has an Ameripolitan/honky tonk sound), Ester Brohus (traditional country from Denmark), Two Cents in the Till (old-time/bluegrass from Vermont), Wes Youssi & the County Champs (country and rockabilly from Oregon- Into a Bottle), and The Ruthless West (country from South Dakota – just an EP, so I figure not many others will cover this: She Only Loves Me When She Lies).

Since I moved to San Marcos in July, I have learned a lot about the great Texas songwriter legacy of Kent Finlay. I’ve seen Chris Fullerton a couple of times, most recently at Mike Ethan Messick’s Christmas charity event at Cheatham Street Warehouse. The Last Thing I Want to Do is Die

1/31/18 More Music

Samantha Fish is generally labelled as “blues,” but y’all will like this. Samantha Fish Live at Paste Studios  She is based in Kansas City, as is country artist Sara Morgan. There are lots of YouTube videos of them doing shows together.  Sara’s recent country album “Average Jane” deserves attention, especially the songs Average Jane and Never Been to Nashville

I maintain an all-genre playlist of instrumentals, with everything from early electronica to bluegrass. Interesting Instrumentals And Stuff Recent additions are from the French master of the modern hurdy gurdy, Guilhem Desq, Le château magique     Front-porch blues great Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Axe Guitar Blues  a Dutch bluegrass group that brought in an Uilleann Pipe player: Red Herring Band, Pigs Upon A Ninja   The Time Burners’ 2018 album includes the kazoo-driven Spiffy Chicken   and here’s some 1927 Hawaiian guitar: Sol Hoopii’s Novelty Trio, 12th Street Rag

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1/30/18 Australia’s Golden Guitar Awards

The winners of Australia’s biggest country awards: 46th Country Music Awards of Australia were headlined by an act I saw last year in Nashville, Kasey Chambers

She is a board member of the Americana Music Association. I also saw her father Bill last year at Gruene Hall (about 20 miles south of where I live in Texas). His style is more “country,” whereas his daughter’s is more “Americana,” but they’re both good.