8/7/18 Carson Robison

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Carson J Robison (1890-1957) is “probably the most recorded singer-songwriter in country music history.” “He traveled with his group to Great Britain and Ireland in 1932, 1936 and 1939, becoming the first act to take country music overseas. ”

Let’s kick things off with Top 100 Classics – The Very Best of Carson Robison.

So, why isn’t he in the Country Music Hall of Fame ? He certainly appears to have an impressive resume. He even has a mention in the CMHOF profile for Vernon Dalhart, and played guitar on country music’s first million-selling song: Wreck of the Old ’97.

Moving on from Vernon Dalhart, Carson contributed such varied songs as Barnacle Bill the SailorA Chaw of Tobacco and a Little Drink , Nothin’ ,   Sleepy Rio Grande Waltz , and Carry Me Back To The Lone Prairie.

Here’s his discography on Hillbilly-Music.

Carson Robison released some country songs during WWII with decidedly political themes. Some of these were quite popular at the time, though I’ll give fair warning that some of these are “politically incorrect” today. There’s We’re Going To Have To Slap The Jap and Mussolini’s Letter to Hitler and even a WWII version of Turkey in the Straw , which is credited as the 1942’s top selling country recording.

Life Gets Tee-jus , Don’t It was a “comeback hit” in 1948. Here’s the Hank Williams, Jr cover of the song.

Here’s Yodelin’ Tex in 1950, at 60 years old. Here’s a funny political song from 1952: Will Someone Please Tell Me Who To Vote For. In 1956, the year before he died, Carson Robison released a rockabilly novelty: Rockin’ and Rollin’ With Grandmaw.


8/6/18 Bob Atcher and Bonnie Blue Eyes

Sometimes, I’ll search for random old music, just to hear what people were listening to in a different era, and not just the very most popular acts. Here’s a look back at a husband-and-wife country act that enjoyed some success in the 1940s onward: From the Vaults article.

Hillbilly Hits Discography.

Here’s I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes and  Answer To You Are My Sunshine.

There’s nothing earth-shaking here, but it is fun to randomly pick a year, look through the list of artists, and listen to an unfamiliar one.

In unrelated news, the San Diego Union Tribute recently posted an outstanding interview with Chris Stapleton. 

8/5/18 Ghost Riders, Spike Jones Style

“Ghost Riders In The Sky” has been covered by pretty much everyone.

Spike Jones & His City Slickers put their spin on the classic in 1949 on the album “Can’t Stop Murdering,” and included a bit about Vaughn Monroe’s version of the song, which RCA chose to omit from the American release. Fortunately, the “real” version exists, complete with the closing paragraph:

“When Johnny comes marching home again, hooray, hooray
We make the guy who wrote this song pay and pay.
‘Cause all we hear is Ghost Riders sung by Vaughn Monroe
I can do without his singing, but I wish I had his dough”

Unedited Spike Jones version of Riders In The Sky

In unrelated news, here’s a tidbit from the recent Cowboys & Indians Magazine interview with Jim Lauderdale : “Odie Blackmon and I wrote a song several years ago called “Two More Wishes,” and I just found out the other day that George Strait recorded that on his upcoming album, so I’m real excited about that. He’s recorded more songs than any other artist of mine. That will bring it up to 15.”

8/4/18 Americanafest Schedule, 9/11-16

I’m not planning to make the trip this year, but I’ve seen a few dozen of these acts perform, and the wristband is a very good value for someone who enjoys spending hours listening to a large number of bands. There’s a little of everything to choose from:

Americanafest 2018 Daily Schedule

I really like Tuesday’s lineup. John Prine & Friends at the City Winery is a good one, if you can get in. The City Winery is a comfortable venue with good food. Otherwise, a good pick is the ACME Feed & Seed on Broadway for Jason James and Kyle Daniel. I’ve seen Jason James a couple of times, and he’s a country traditionalist. I haven’t heard Kyle Daniel perform, but I met him at CMA, and he’s also on my playlist. Other Tuesday acts I’ve seen include Mike Farris (Muscle Shoals tribute), Chance McCoy, Carson McHone, Blank Range, and Ian Moore.

On Wednesday is the actual awards ceremony, which is a separate ticketed event. Most of the other events are late at night. The Wednesday acts I’ve seen are Paul Thorn, Wandering Hearts, Vandoliers, Tyler Childers, and Colter Wall.

Thursday has some strong offerings starting around noon, including the Texas Music Office with free tacos (and this made an outstanding meal last year), the Oklahoma Music Office (at Blake Shelton’s new Ole Red venue), and the NPR/WMOT Day Stage (I did this last year in a huge tent, but this year is at a venue unfamiliar to me called The Local). These lineups haven’t been announced yet, so I suggest keeping an eye open for these, if you’re going to this deal.  I’m surprised to see Music City Roots listed for the evening at Nashville Palace (which is in Music Valley, near the Opry), since Music City Roots had posted on social media that MCR was on hiatus. The Music City Roots deal last year was at the same huge tent as the WMOT Day Stage. The Thursday acts I’ve seen before include Yola Carter, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Guthrie Trapp, Katie Pruitt, The Americans, Mandy Barnett (who frequently sings at the Grand Ole Opry), Amanda Shires, Leah Blevins, Asleep at the Wheel, Sons of Bill, and Lee Ann Womack & Friends (which was in the huge tent last year, and there were lots and lots of good acts).

Friday includes another WMOT Day Stage, so keep an eye open for the schedule. Of the Friday acts, I’ve seen Linda Gail Lewis, Vandoliers, Shari Ulrich, Jim Lauderdale, Walter Salas-Humara, Brandy Clark, Mando Saenz, Buddy Miller, Lee Roy Parnell, and Mike Farris.

On Saturday, the first thing that jumps out to me is a showcase for my father’s hometown of Mobile, Alabama, where I still have relatives. It looks like a good variety of afternoon programs. The Saturday evening acts I’ve seen before include Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, Emily Scott Robinson, JP Harris, Elizabeth Cook, Charley Crockett, The McCrary Sisters, Lilly Hiatt, Band of Heathens, and Lucie Silvas.

The Sunday lineup doesn’t look completely filled out yet. I went to the deal at Fond Object Records last year, and even ended up helping set up a couple of small tents.


8/3/18 New Music

NPR First Listen: Jason Eady album “I Travel On”

New albums: Jessica Meuse (Halfhearted) , Jim Lauderdale (both a new album Time Flies and a “lost recordings” bluegrass album from 1979, Jim Lauderdale and Roland White), Zack Logan (Raised By Wolves), Kevin Galloway (The Change , describes his sound as “Gulf Coast Country Soul”), David Lee (Songbird), Comanche Moon (Country Music Deathstar ), and Paul Arow (“Old Man In A Modern World.”)

Travis Meadows, new video: Underdogs.

John Prine, animated video: Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone)

NPR Tiny Desk Concert: The Del McCoury Band

8/2/18 More New Music

Before I get to my usual Friday “New Music” post, here’s a bunch of new music from the last few days:

Street Corner Symphony is an acapella group, and here’s their Evolution of Country Music .

The Texas Music Scene is finally airing Sunny Sweeney’s taping of Better Bad Idea and Jack Ingram’s All Over Again. I was in the audience for both of these tapings.

Hilary Williams at the Grand Ole Opry – Here’s some classic country !

Carrie Underwood at the Grand Ole Opry  – Her current single “Cry Pretty”

Faren Rachels has a new video for Uber Driver

Adam Harvey’s album The Nashville Tapes includes the song Three Rivers Hotel , which has an “Australian Waylon” vibe.

Jamie Lin Wilson‘s first song from a new album: The Being Gone .

Mike McCarroll released an album: Mysterious

Kaitlyn Sparks released a 5-song, self-titled EP.

Osborne Jones has a new video A Million Teardrops.

Here’s the lyric video for Dustin Sonnier’s new song: Drinkin’ Alone . .

Jenna Rae describes her style as “cosmic western,” and here’s her album Workin’ Woman.

Here’s the video for Red Shahan’s Water Bill

Brinley Addington released a video for No Thanks

You & Me is a new song from Ross Webb. I wasn’t familiar with his music at all, but here’s a cover he did a couple of years ago of Whiskey & You.

Mark Addison Chandler released the song Second Chance

Bob Bradshaw released the song Albuquerque

El Toro Records of Spain posted new rockabilly songs from several artists. Most are European, but Colton Turner is a Texan.

Dirty Rascal (Australia roots-rock) released an album: You be The King


8/1/18 The Nashville TV Show Legacy

I never saw an episode of the television show Nashville, which concluded last week, after six seasons, but the show had a strong following, and showcased a lot of music.

The executive producer of the show was also the Opry Entertainment Group president , and cast members frequently made appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. In particular, Charles Esten developed such a following that he recently celebrated his 100th appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, and earned a Guinness World Record for “Most Consecutive Weeks to Release an Original Digital Single by a Music Act.” He released original songs for 54  straight weeks !

Songwriters of Nashville with Charles Esten is a 70-song Spotify list.

The show raised the profile of the Bluebird Cafe, known for its emphasis on songwriters.

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.”