Archive for Baron Lane

Bermuda Triangle – Brittany Howard, Becca Mancari And Jesse Lafser – Announces Western U.S. Tour

The roots music supergroup Bermuda Triangle will begin its first tour of 2018 with a February 3 stop at the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA. The West Coast dates will bring also the band to San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Eugene as well as a trio of shows in Texas in April.

NPR Music premiered Bermuda Triangle’s dreamy debut song “Rosey,” (hear it below) anad the band’s live show has been covered by Rolling Stone stating the trio’s chemistry “was clear from the first-applause-silencing note,” “The band featured Howard switching between plucking out gorgeous, nimble-fingered nylon-string guitar solos and holding down the low end on upright
bass…with Mancari and Lafser trading off on banjo and acoustic guitar, accompanied by subtle beats from a drum machine on a pitch-perfect harmony-heavy set of blithe and breezy heartfelt folk tunes that filled the sweltering room with chill vibes.”

The artists have also been busy with their individual endeavors. Becca Mancari’s debut album, ‘Good Woman,’ was named by Rolling Stone as one of the top Americana/Country albums of 2017. Jesse Lafser’s follow-up to 2015’s ‘Raised On the Plains’ is due out in early 2018. In 2017, Brittany Howard toured North American with Alabama Shakes and performed at “A Concert For Charlottesville – An Evening Of Music And Unity,” held
at the University of Virginia’s Scott Stadium.

See below for itinerary. Tickets for all dates will go on sale this
Friday, January 5. For further details, visit www.BermudaTriangleBand.com.

Bermuda Triangle – Upcoming Tour Dates

2/3 – West Hollywood, CA @ The Troubadour
2/5 – San Diego, CA @ Music Box
2/6 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
2/8 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
2/9 – Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theater
2/10 – Eugene, OR @ WOW Hall
4/4 – Houston, TX @ The Heights Theater *
4/5 – Austin, TX @ Antone’s *
4/6 – Dallas, TX @ The Kessler Theater *

* LIZ COOPER & THE STAMPEDE supporting

Cream of the Crop – Twang Nation Top Americana and Roots Music Picks of 2017

Cream of the Crop – Twang Nation Top Americana and Roots Music Picks of 2017

Over that last 11 years of running this blog, roots and Americana has embedded itself as a fully realized and respected genre of cultural influence around the world. Bands and festivals from the UK, Australia, Japan and the Middle East are strapping on guitars, name dropping Townes Van Zandt and finding their inner hillbilly.

Though like most Best Of album lists around I’ve focused primarily on the cradle of Americana, the U.S., although the global influence cannot be underestimated. Traveling American artists find themselves with a ready and widening foreign market (oftentimes bigger than that at home) and visiting artists to The States face an open, if passionate and discerning, fanbase.

This global influence cannot be overemphasized, and I will address global Americana and roots bands in an upcoming post. Suffice to say, as might Ron Burgundy, globaly Americana is kind of a big deal.

The stylistic range and creative hunger embodies in these 10 following selections prove why the global appeal is occuring. Focus on songcraft and musicianship over studio trickery and hype alone is the lifeblood. Authenticity is a slippery concept bandied around to describe forms of music from hip-hop to punk where fakery and exploitation os trends is called out loud and mercilessly. And rightly so.

As our world slips further into digital version of the Greek myth of Narcissus, with the smartphone display as a glassy reflecting pool we longingly gaze into, we suffer a kind of cultural sickness. A sickness that ironically great song, itself a kind of Narcissism, can remind us of a shared yet isolated identity that happens when we hear it.

This crafting of shared narratives can slip from description of our journey tp prescriptive of our route. The current division within the U.S. (also largely fueled by technology) builds walls from our precious ideas separating us from understanding and, quite possibly, a change in perspective.

Whether your Billy Bragg or Ted Nugent, there’s a professional risk in wearing your ideology on your guitar strap. I applaud the professional stakes in the effort , but “This Land is Your Land” and “Blowin’ in the Wind’ are treasures precisely because they are the rare example of allegory over sermon that can move people.

The current charged political climate might compel artists to stretch their populist wings and create more topical songs. But many, even those that tenuously reflect my contradictory views, are little more than soapbox serenade slumming under the window of simple-minded politics, that constricts the mind instead of opening it.

2017 was another year of lost legends – Gregg Allman, Chuck Berry, Butch Trucks, Greg Trooper, guitarist Bob Wooton, Jimmy LaFave, Glen Campbell, Don Williams, Mel Tillis, Richard Dobson and others remind us how daunting their talent was and how
fleeting life is. Let’s hope for a calmer 2018.

Criteria – Calendar year 2017. No EPs, live, covers or re-release albums no matter how awesome.

Don’t see your favorite represented? Leave it in the comments, and here’s to a new year of Twang.

Zephaniah OHora – ‘This Highway’ – buy
If Zephaniah OHora didn’t exist he would have to be created. The mustache, slicked do, Man-in-Black wardrobe and a name right out of the Old Testament makes OHora gives the impression of a man right out of Country music central casting. But his full-length debut leaves no doubt that he’s a disciple of the classic era of Nashville Sound and Bakersfield honky-tonk and he’s here to testify to its righteousness. Songs like “I Do Believe I’ve Had Enough,” “I Can’t Let Go (Even Though I Set You Free)” and “She’s Leaving In The Morning,” evoke dark and smokey bars where tears poor like the tap beer. Is he putting us on? Perhaps, but I’m a believer.

Colter Wall – self-titled – buy
This sparse full-length debut from the man from Swift Current, Saskatchewan belies his 22 years on this planet. Produced by the hillbilly whisperer Dave Cobb songs like “Thirteen Silver Dollars” and ‘Motorcycle’ offer up a busted lip smile to world-weary vocals. Transistor radio static and train whistles intersperse with deft finger-picking across 11 dusty gems that pushes and pulls at the boundaries of Country and folk casting the mind back to a mythological romance of cowboy laments and hobo serenades.

Angaleena Presley – ‘Wrangled’ – buy
For her second solo venture the extraordinary Ms. Presley invited Pistol Annies co-conspirators Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe as well as Chris Stapleton, Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson, Vanessa Olivarez as well as legendary Texas singer/songwriter Guy Clark on what would prove to be his final completed song ( “Cheer Up Little Darling.”) The result is a deft collection of sonic vignettes tracking the unique female narrative of broken dreams, busted hearts, babies having babies and kicking against the small-town hairsprayed Harpies bent on tearing her down. Presley has provided a perfect example of female fortitude, not by penning platitudes of empowerment, but by creating a compelling album that pushes Country music forward while paying respects to the past and celebrates the mess that is life.

Sunny Sweeney – ‘Trophy’ – buy
Texas singer/songwriter Sunny Sweeney has sometimes danced closely to becoming another country music blonde hell-bent to get a foothold in the mainstream country radio badlands. Good thing she didn’t break big or her fourth studio album ‘Trophy’ might not have been made. (Though I’m sure at this point she’d prefer being on the road in a tour bus headed to one of her many shows she plays each year) Barroom laments that save a stool for misery like ‘Pass the Pain’ or as songs starkly confessional Lori McKenna co-write “Bottle By My Bed” have no place on the good-timing party seeping from contemporary Country speakers. Not to suggest all is dour here, the barn-burner ‘Better Bad Idea’ and the slinkily, smoldering title cut has the same depth but with wry smile and plenty of fuel to get those boots tapping. The chops Sweeney picked up in Nashville is in display but done in compelling and a way that feels as real as it does entertaining.

Nicole Atkins – ‘Goodnight Rhonda Lee’ – buy
New Jersey’s Nicole Atkins’ fourth album, Goodnight Rhonda Lee is a fantastic study in facing adversity and embedding it in adult roots pop in the vein of Patsy Cline era Nashville Sound and Dusty Springfield’s ‘….in Memphis’ era. The songs are deeper, more sophisticated yet more playful than her earlier work. The brilliant opening track, “A Little Crazy,” is a torchy little gem co-written with fellow neo-trad afficiend Chris Isaak pulls your heart out through the speakers as Atkins’ voice soars along with a string section and pedal steel. The title track is a reverb drenched down old Mexico way that evokes Marty Robbins best-known El Paso. ‘Goodnight Rhonda Lee’ at its heart might be retro but to stop there would be unfair to this daunting effort.

Whiskey Shivers – ‘Some Part of Something’ – buy
Texas junkyard bluegrass outfit Whiskey Shivers kicked my ass when I saw them live. ‘Some Part of Something’ comes damn near to that ass-kicking moment. The opener ‘Cluck Ol’ Hen’ is a slinking slice of Southern gothic greatness that could easily come from the book of Brooklyn’s O Death. The bluegrass heat gets turnt up high on ‘Like A Stone’ and ‘Long Gone’ careening down a one-lane road with a rock slide of melody on one side and an open ledge of potential peril on the other. Fans of Split Lip Rayfield and The Meat Purveyors rejoice

Tyler Childers – ‘Purgatory’ – buy
Yes, yes you’ve heard that Tyler Childers’ ‘Purgatory’ was co-produced by Sturgill Simpson, but that’s the least interesting this about this starting debut. Like the best of the mongrel form known as Americana it’s hard to draw a hard line where 70’s Country music Gold , folk and Bluegrass reside. And that’s just in the album opener ‘I Swear (To God)’ that contains enough drug references that would make Hank III look for the local 12-step program.’Whitehouse Road’ is another tale of hard times and hard living with a Waylon-esque confidence and what I noticed was a distinct sound of a Jew’s harp. Childers’ ‘Purgatory’ take on the darkness of drug addiction, poverty, and murder is are lived-in tales of biting sincerity and musical aplomb that casts an eye to the legacy of roots music as it blazes its own trail.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – “Tell the Devil I’m Getting There as Fast as I Can.” – buy
On his 16th studio album Hubbard stays firmly in the groove he’s made since 2006’s ‘Snake Farm.’ Like fellow traveler Lucinda Williams (who makes an appearance on the title song) Hubbard has found a late-career sonic refuge in the blues. “Tell the Devil…’ is more tales of women, reptiles, voodoo, grease and tube amps – the stuff of life on the road he knows well. The Big Guy is is busy in the opener ‘God Looked Around’ that’s a tremolo tale that owes as much to the book of Lightnin’ Hopkins as it does the Book of Genesis. In my opinion Hubbard is Texas own Poet Laureate and the words that build “Tell the Devil…’ prove it’s so.

Lillie Mae – ‘Forever and Then Some’ – buy
Lillie Mae might have been Jack White’s go-to fiddle and mandolin player but on her debut she’s firmly placed herself as a formidable talent. The glorious roots-rock opener ‘Over the Hill and Through the Woods’ is like a lost cu from mid-70’s Neil Young and ‘Honky Tonks and Taverns’ is a stright-up two-stepper with Mae vocal pitching change remiecent of a yodel. LAike White, who produced ‘Forever and Then Some’ Lillie Mae carries an appreciation for past forms while not being slavishly dogmatic in her work.

Malcolm Holcombe – ‘Pretty Little Troubles’ – buy
Malcolm Holcombe 12th release of new music has him working with long-time co-conspirator in roots music Darrell Scott as producer and the results is nothing short of breathtaking. Holcombe’s backroad gravel vocals is the perfect vehicle for these sparse reflections on the world. On the album opener ‘Crippled Point O’ View’ b’s lyrics are indirect sketches of a troubled world and the imperfections of a human vehicle observing it
‘my tongue is quick to tangle speed, and douse the lights within, and burn my self respect to death, and warm my hands again. ‘Pretty Little Troubles’ is an organic gritty glory of listening pleasure of roots music and great songwriting from a master.

Kacey Musgraves Teases 2018 Album ‘Golden Hour’

Kacey Musgraves On Jimmy Fallon's “Tonight Show”

Entertainment Weekly reports that neo-trad singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves will release a spanking new album in “early 2018.” Reportedly entitled ‘Golden Hour’ this will be the Texas-native’s third LP of original material and a follow-up to 2015’s Pageant Material.

Reportedly ‘Golden Hour’ was ‘musically influenced by everything from Sade to Neil Young’ as well as Musgraves’ newlywed status with singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly and specifically deals with the ‘different masks one uses to represent oneself.’

“None of the masks are solely us, but they’re all us,” she tells EW. “On this record, there’s the lonely girl, the blissful girl, the new wife, the girl that’s missing her mom, the angry girl, the sarcastic girl, the Sixties-sequined Cruella de Vil with the beehive, the shy girl, the life of the party, the winner, the loser – they’re all characters on this record. None of them alone are me, but the golden hour is when they all come together and you see me as a whole.”

Musgraves is not detailing the proper release date or song titles, but she did work with frequent collaborators Shane McAnally, Luke Laird and Natalie Hemby on the project. She also notes that she’ll be including a new song she’s been performing live for fans, but doesn’t share the title, which may or may not be the unreleased tune “Butterflies” (hear it below) she’s performed at many of her 2017 shows.

News of a new album only adds to what appears to be another great year for Musgraves as she continues to build out her career. Starting in February she’ll join Little Big Town and Midland on The Breakers Tour, running through May. Followed up by a June, run with with Harry Styles solo arena tour of the United States.

Americana and Roots Music Holiday List

– Louisiana Hayride 20-CD box from Bear Family –

Germany-based Bear Family Records has a long reputation of assembling astoundingly excellent historical compilations that are like a thesis in musical eras and styles they represent. They again have focused their attention to detail in chronicling the legendary ‘Louisiana Hayride,’ the Saturday night music radio show broadcast by Shreveport, Louisiana’s KWKH-AM from 1948-1960.

The Louisiana Hayride has the honor of debuting Elvis Presley on the show in October 1954 and later made his first TV appearance on the television version in March 1955. Presley’s 15 songs includes “That’s All Right,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Don’t Be Cruel” and are just a fraction of the more than 500 tunes stocking At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight. Bear Family Records’ 20-CD box set holds a treasury of long-buried live Hayride performances — many of which have never been heard since the day they were broadcast — with perhaps the rarest of these rarities being the previously unknown recording of “I’m a Long Gone Daddy” by Hank Williams.

The CDs’ 167 performances is a who’s who of country music royalty, featuring George Jones, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells, June Carter, Roy Acuff, Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Ernest Tubb, Roger Miller, and Jim Reeves, along with regional heroes such as Cajun stars Doug and Rusty Kershaw, and California country stalwarts Rose Maddox and Wynn Stewart. The set serves as a reminder too that Hayride was about more than just country music. Presley obviously brought rock ’n’ roll to the show, but there was also rockabilly from Warren Smith, Werly Fairburn, and Bob Luman, bluegrass from the Louvin Brothers and Dobber Johnson, and yodeling from Slim Whitman.

This collection, comes in an LP-sized package and features a 224-page hardcover book, not only takes a comprehensive look at Louisiana Hayride but also offers an exhilarating portrait of the American music scene during the late ’40s into the early ’60s.

Yeas this sweet collectable clocks in at over $200, but it breaks down to about $.35 a song for these treasured performances. That’s quite a deal.

Why Bob Dylan Matters by Richard Thomas –

Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives – by Holly Gleason –

Going Down to the River: A Homeless Musician, an Unforgettable Song, and the Miraculous Encounter that Changed a Life – by Doug Seegers

Merle Haggard’s Okie from Muskogee (33 1/3) – March 22, 2018 by Rachel Lee Rubin

Every Night Is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey To The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
by Wanda Jackson (Author),‎ Scott B. Bomar (Author),‎ Elvis Costello (Foreword) –

Never Look at the Empty Seats: A Memoir – by Charlie Daniels – If you find yourself applauding tweets criticizing Trump but think that Charlie Daniels should keep his opinions to himself there’s a name for that and it’s hypocrisy.

Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman To Release ‘Dear John,’ Tribute to John Hartford

Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman 'Dear John,'

Texan Robert Ellis and Coloradan Courtney Hartman bonded backstage at a music festival in 2013 over their mutual love of John Hartford songs. After a few years of friendship and collaboration led to the creation of ‘Dear John,’ a collection of both well-known and obscure material that reveals witty and tender layers found in Hartford’s lyrics. The album also allows Ellis and Hartman to showcase their perfectly blended vocals and the playful ebb and flow of their shared guitar playing.

“I feel like Courtney Hartman and I must have known each other in a previous life. We share a deep love and obsession with a lot of the same music. There is a unique cross-section of songwriting craft, tradition and it’s context, and musicality that we both really get excited by,” says Ellis. “John Hartford is sort of the apex of this and it came as no surprise to me that he was a big influence on both of us and what we do. These songs, and playing them with Courtney really seemed to recharge my spirit in some way. Through playing these songs we are connected to each other and to John in a way that makes me feel like I’m at home.”

The album encompasses ten cuts that span John Hartford’s 30+ discography including his best-known song “Gentle on My Mind” – later recorded by Glen Campbell – for which Hartford earned two GRAMMY awards for Best Folk Performance and Best Country & Western Song. Versions of the song were also recorded by Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby, Lucinda Williams, and most recently Alison Krauss.

Throughout his career, Hartford earned two additional Grammy awards, for ‘Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording’ for his record ‘Mark Twang,’ as well as Album of the Year for his work on the watershed soundtrack to ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’

John Hartford’s son Jamie noted, “They have captured a subtle part of my dad that gets overlooked way too often. Now they have an obligation to the world to get this out. I wish them much success.”

From the 1980s onwards, Hartford had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. On June 4, 2001, he died of the disease at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 63.

In support of the new release, Ellis and Hartman will hit the road for a limited tour kicking off on December 9 in Austin, TX at the Cactus Cafe, and ending at Stage One in Fairfield, CT on December 21. In between, they will make stops in Baton Rouge and Denver before two nights at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City.

Hear their gloriously heartfelt rendition of “Gentle on My Mind” below, and see ‘Dear John’ track listing and tour dates below:

‘Dear John’ Track List:
– Old Time River Man
– Them Way Long Time Ago Times
– Gentle On My Mind
– Right in the Middle of Falling for You
– Here I Am In Love Again
– Howard Hughes Blues
– Morning Bugle
– Delta Queen Waltz
– Up on the Hill Where They Do the Boogie
– We Did Our Best

Robert Ellis & Courtney Hartman Tour Dates:
12/7 – Dallas, TX @ The Rustic
12/8 – San Antonio, TX @ The Rustic*
12/9 – Austin, TX @ Cactus Café
12/13 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Manship Theatre
12/15 – Denver, CO @ Swallow Hill Music
12/16 – Austin, TX @ Moody Theater^
12/18 – NYC @ Rockwood Music Hall (stage 3)
12/19 – NYC @ Rockwood Music Hall (stage 3)
12/21 – Fairfield, CT @ Stage One
12/26 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues^
*Robert Ellis full band w/ Courtney Hartman opening
^Robert Ellis full band opening for Robert Earl

Sturgill Simpson Trolls CMA Awards, But To What End?

In case you hadn’t heard roots rocker and reluctant savior of country music Sturgill Simpson used the occasion of the 51st Country Music Association Awards to convey a message to the people mingling outside Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on lower Broadway and fans looking in from his live Facebook stream.

What was the message and who was it aimed at?

As is currently de rigour let’s start with the most overtly political and divisive.

When a fan asked about Trump, Sturgill responded : “He’s a fascist fucking pig and I’m not afraid to say that. Anybody who’s still supporting that guy can’t be anything in my mind but an ignorant fucking bigot. So there it is. Anybody that’s surprised to hear me say that is going to unfollow me or stop listening to my record was probably not listening that closely anyway.”

To say the election of Donald Trump a year ago was galvanizing is like saying tropical storm Harvey was merely a spring shower. The resulting split in the Country seems to roughly falls into three camps. Those that voted for Trump and still support him no matter what he does (or tweets,) Republicans that didn’t vote for Trump but disgruntledly supports him for the sake of the party, even as recent state elections suggest, he is single-handedly dismantling it. Then there are those that rally under the hashtag #NotMyPresident. Given the following quote, I’m willing to say Simpson falls into the third faction.

The ‘F’ word gets thrown around a lot by the 3rd faction (or it’s more heated shortcut Hitler,) which of course does little to set the groundwork for opposing views. But Sturgill is a smart man and he knows full well that Trump is not a fascist. A hallmark of traditional Mussolini strain of facism most people know violence against opposing views, not tweeting snarky things but actual rounding up and beatings or murder, is part of the ideology. As far as I can tell by the footage Simpson was allowed to speak at length with no harm inflicted.

When asked about the kind of acceptance speech he might give if handed an award at the proceedings happening behind him Simpson remarked “Nobody needs a machine gun, coming from a guy who owns quite a few guns.” He continued: “Gay people should have the right to be happy and live their life any way they want to and get married if they want to without fear of getting drug down the road behind a pickup truck. Black people are probably tired of getting shot in the streets and being enslaved by the industrial prison complex. And hegemony and fascism is alive and well in Nashville, Tenn. Thank you very much.”

A generally non-controversial view for tolerant, thinking people of the 21st century, if rambling and broad one. Of course, as a gun owner Simpson knows he can’t legally buy an automatic machine gun anywhere in the United States and the ‘hegemony and fascism’ is this time aimed at his adopted city. This might refer to the Music Row system in general or the CMA’s decision to formally hamstring the media on topics they deemed sensitive in the aftermath of last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

As a free speech purist I get it. But it’s not surprising with other award shows and the NFL’s ratings plummeting as a response to overt political topics that the CMA would want to steer clear.

Winning the Best Country Album Grammy last year does afford Simpson a level of minor celebrity (and let’s be honest, if People magazine covers your actions, you’re a celebrity.) It also gives Simpson a certain level of professional cache. Many artists would be meticulously building their career on by growing mass appeal leading to earning potential. But if you’ve followed Simpson’s career over the years you know Simpson’s songs and his interviews show he speaks his mind no matter the professional risk.

This has allowed Simpson to evolve into a persona defined more by what he’s against rather than what he’s for. Much like our beloved genre Americana he bristles against, Simpson has nebulous borders. Is he a new-breed Outlaw come to save “real” Country music from the contemporary homogenized variety being engineered out of Music Row for, well, decades or something else?

Simpson makes it hard to pin him down and that’s what makes him an intriguing artist. It’s also what makes him. like most of us, a lousy authority on public policy.

Simpson set up on the street to voice his opinion as is his constitutional right to do. He knows, as a Navy veteran, what that right costs. His guitar case open with his Grammy inside (not sure what to take from that) he collected tips that he said he’d be donating to the ACLU, a fine organization that has fought for the rights of groups as diametrically opposed as the Black Panthers and the K.K.K. and , most recently defended an on-line magazine in suggesting that Taylor Swift is a covert White Supremacist.

Sturgill’s views declared map generally to other Americana and Americana-leaning artists willing to publicize their views in interviews, on stage and through social Media. ANd though I agree with many of the sentiments expressed (yes i did vote for Hillary) I’m always concerned about the echo chamber effect made so easy by social media. Though I’m on the record arguing against the accusations of bigotry against Americana, I am concerned about the lack of intellectual diversity within the comminity. the only kind of diversity that matters and moved us forward.

Merle Haggard Museum + Restaurant Set To Open in Summer of 2018

Merle Haggard Museum

It appears that Nashville will be the location for Merle Haggard’s Museum and Merle’s Meat + 3 Saloon – a Southern-style restaurant with adjacent bar. The restaurant will be operated by longtime Nashville restaurateur David Swett.

Sounds like a recipe for tourism cheese, but given the Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline Museum museum are located in the same vicinity off Nashville’s tourist-jammed Lower Broadway, it probably makes perfect business sense.

But I find it ironic that the estates of Haggard and Johnny Cash decide to locate their memorial museums in the town that eventually shunned them professionally later in their careers when they demonstrably had much more to offer. I mean, in the case of The Hag wouldn’t to make more sense to locate hs museum the city that reflected his signature music style, Bakersfield, CA?

The museum will feature performance clothing and musical instruments, along with awards and other professional and personal possessions from the Haggard, who died on his 79th birthday, April 6th, 2016.

The Merle Haggard museum and Merle’s Meat + 3 Saloon will be located at 121 Third Avenue South, with the restaurant on the ground level with the Museum on an upper floor. The projected opening for both is the summer of 2018.

In the meantime you can always visit the Hags childhood home, in Oildale, California, made from an old railcar. That seems appropriate.

Record Store Day’s Black Friday 2017 – Americana and Roots Music Picks

Record Store Day's Black Friday

To me the start of the holiday season comes on Record Store Day Black Friday event. Putting indy record stores on the forefront of holiday shopping by special, limited edition slabs of sweet, sweet vinyl itching to be added to your collection.

2017 is sure to be a dandy, offering selections from Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, ram Parsons with Emmylou Harris and others. Sure, the Record Store Day Black Friday selections are smaller than the usual offerings on include Record Store Day, but that doesn’t make them any less enticing.

Record Store Day’s Black Friday is November 24th, 2017. Check the full list and remember to tweet a pic of your bounty tomy twitter account and I’ll share it with those foolish enough to stay home.

Steve Earle – El Corazon
Format: LP
Label: Warner Bros.
Quantity: 2500
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
This 1997 Steve Earle album is released on vinyl for the frst time, and comes with a lithograph exclusive to this Record Store Day Black Friday edition.

Christmas In Washington, Taneytown, If You Fall, I Still Carry You Around (with the Del McCoury Band), Telephone Road (with the Fairfield Four), Somewhere Out There, You Know The Rest,, N.Y.C. (with The Supersuckers), Poison Lovers (with Siobhan Kennedy), The Other Side Of Town, Here I Am, Ft. Worth Blues

Willie Nelson – Spirit
Format: LP
Label: Modern Classic Recordings
Quantity: 2200
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
Few country artists have had a bigger influence on the musical landscape than Wille Nelson. Born in 1933 in Abbott, TX, Ol’ Willie is still going strong at the young age of 84! For RSD Black Friday, Modern Classics is re-releasing Spirit, Willie Nelson’s forty-ninth studio album, originally released in 1996. The album differs from Nelson’s other work because his band used fewer instruments on the recording (two guitars, piano, fiddle) and it has a more classical/Spanish influence. Spirit reached the US Country top 20 when it was released, and David Fricke from Rolling Stone describes it as “low-key, acoustic, stripped to the rugged fundamentals of a good song and a superior voice.” Spirit is an emotional concept album illustrating the forlorn tale of a man abandoned by the great love of his life. We follow him down the path of loss as he confronts grief, gets back on his feet, and eventually finds solace in acceptance. Beloved by those familiar with Nelson’s deep catalog, Spirit remains highly revered amongst critics and fans alike. Likened to Bob Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind or Waylon Jennings’ Right For the Time, Spirit sees Nelson maturing most gracefully. Originally released in 1996, Spirit is issued here for the first time on colored vinyl as a special Record Store Day Black Friday release. It comes newly remastered with a deluxe, gatefold, ‘tip-on’ uncoated jacket, this is a chance to own this unique album in its most beautifully presented form.

1 Matador 2 She Is Gone 3 Your Memory Won’t Die In My Grave 4 I’m Not Trying To Forget You Anymore 5 Too Sick To Pray 6 Mariachi 7 I’m Waiting Forever 8 We Don’t Run 9 I Guess I’ve Come To Live Here In Your Eyes 10 It’s A Dream Come True 11 I Thought About You, Lord 12 Spirit Of E9 13 Matador

Willie Nelson – Yesterdays Wine
Format: LP
Label: Friday Music
Quantity: 1500
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
in 1973’s Yesterday’s Wine LP, Willie Nelson crafted one of the most artistically acclaimed albums in his huge catalog of recorded music. The LP is an insightful look into the the wrtiing and musicianship of this legendary artist at a time when he and friends like Waylon Jennings were considered too hip and outlaw for the confines of Nashville radio acceptance. It contains songs like the autobiographical “Me & Paul”, the stellar title track and an incredible trove of balladry including “December Day,” “It’s Not For Me To Understand,” and the gospel hits “In God’s Eyes” and “Family Bible.” Yesterday’s Wine has been long out of print on vinyl and is coming to record stores as part of the Friday Music 180g Audiophile Vinyl Series on burgundy vinyl, in a gatefold sleeve and with a poster depicting the cover art included.

1. Medley 2. In God’s Eyes 3. Family Bible 4. It’s Not for Me to Understand 5. Medley 6. Summer of Roses 7. December Day 8. Yesterday’s Wine 9. Me and Paul 10. Goin’ Home

Gram Parsons & The Fallen Angels – Live 1973 Featuring Emmylou Harris
Format: LP
Label: Sierra High Fidelity
Quantity: 2000
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
Gram Parsons, an extremely revered and influential American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist, famously passed away on September 19, 1973, in Joshua Tree, CA of a drug overdose. Live 1973 Featuring Emmylou Harris is a live album by Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels, recorded at Sonic Studios in Hempstead, New York during a live radio broadcast from WLIR-FM. The recording came between Parsons’ only two solo studio albums, GP, and Grievous Angel, but it was not released until 1982. This re-issue of Live 1973 Featuring Emmylou Harris is pressed on audiophile 180gram vinyl, utilizing Sierra Records 1982 original half-speed metal master, and was processed by the late Richard “Slim” Doss at the legendary Sheffield Lab Matrix. This beautiful deluxe edition comes with the original LP artwork, in an enhanced presentation silver foil, limited numbered jacket. It is a must have for any fan of the talented and troubled musician.

A1 We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes A2 Big Mouth Blues A3 The New Soft Shoe A4 Streets Of Baltimore A5 Cry One More Time B1 California Cottonfields B2 Love Hurts B3 Country Baptizing B4 Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man B5 That’S All It Took B6 Six Days On The Road

Chet Atkins – Guitar Blues / Brown Eyes A Cryin’ In The Rain
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Modern Harmonic
Quantity: 1000
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
Originally released on 78 in 1946 on Nashville’s Bullet Records, this is the first ever vinyl reissue of Chet’s very first release! Packaged in an envelope style picture sleeve with liner notes by Chet historian Pat Kirtley. Limited edition blue vinyl!

“Guitar Blues”/”Brown Eyes A Cryin’ In The Rain

Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson – The Bottom Line Archive Series: In Their Own Words: With Vin Scelsa
Format: LP Picture Disc
Label: The Bottom Line Record Company
Quantity: 1000
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
An exclusive, limited 1000 quantity picture disc LP of select’ tracks from Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson’s ‘In Their Own words with Vin Scelsa’ set from 1994 at the famed Bottom Line in NYC.

Side A: 1) “Introduction” 2) Vin Scelsa Introduces Lou Reed 3) “Betrayed” 4) Vin Scelsa introduces Kris Kristofferson 5) “Shipwrecked” 6) Lou Reed talks about songwriting 7) “Legendary Hearts” 8) Kris Kristofferson talks about his chiildhood and songwriting 9) “Sunday Morning Coming Down/The Pilgrim” Side B: 1) Lou Reed talks about The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol 2) “Sweet Jane” 3) Kris talks about “Me and Bobby McGee” 4) “Me and Bobby McGee” 5) Kris talks about “Bird on a Wire” 6) “Bird on a Wire” 7) “Tracks of My Tears”

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Sixteen Tons
Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Family Owned/Thirty Tigers
Quantity: 500
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
Limited edition 7″ vinyl single featuring the Tennessee Ernie Ford classic “Sixteen Tons” b/w the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles classic “You Really Got A Hold On Me.

“Sixteen Tons”/”You Really Got A Hold On Me”

Various Artists – Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams
Format: LP
Label: Slatecreek Records
Quantity: 1000
Release type: RSD Limited Run / Regional Focus Release
Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams announced his retirement from performing last year, concluding an impressive five-decade career that includes two CMA Awards, two ACM Awards and 17 No. 1 hits. Williams unfortunately passed away in September 2017. In honor of his legendary career, Williams’ longtime producer and friend Garth Fundis have produced a tribute album, Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams, featuring an all-star lineup of artists. Some of the artists on Gentle Giant include Jason Isbell, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Alison Krauss, John Prime and Garth Brooks. The 11-track album is being released on Slate Creek Records exclusively for RSD Black Friday 2017, and will serve as both a tribute and a memorial to a great man.

Tulsa Time – Pistol Annies, I Believe In You – Brandy Clark,We’Ve Got A Good Fire Goin’ – Lady Antebellum,Some Broken Hearts Never Mend – Dierks Bentley,Amanda – Chris Stapleton Feat. Morgane Stapleton,Till The Rivers All Run Dry – Alison Krauss,Love Is On A Roll – John Prine Feat. Roger Cook,If I Needed You – Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires,Maggie’S Dream – Trisha Yearwood,Lord I Hope This Day Is Good – Keb’ Mo,Good Ole Boys Like Me – Garth Brooks

Waylon Jennings – New Stuff
Format: LP
Label: Black Country Rock
Quantity: 1500
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
In the late 90’s, Waylon Jennings was working on a batch of new material for a potential new album to be recorded. Unfortunately, that Jennings passed away before that album could be realized. While going through some of his fathers things, Shooter Jennings ran across a cassette tape labeled “New Stuff”. What was on that tape was a collection of new songs performed by just Waylon and his guitar. Shooter restored the tape and the result was an earnest collection of songs Waylon felt passionate and proud of. Black Country Rock proudly presents “New Stuff” on beautiful limited colored 12″ vinyl, a collection of songs that are a must-have for any die-hard Waylon fan.

Lydia Loveless – LIVE from the documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless?
Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: What Were We Thinking Films
Quantity: 1400
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
A six-song vinyl-only Black Friday release of Lydia Loveless and her band performing a hometown show at Skully’s in Columbus, Ohio. Recorded by her longtime producer Joe Viers, the show was filmed for Gorman Bechard’s documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless’ which is included as a DVD in this package.

Side One: Out on Love, More Like Them, Desire. Side Two: Really Wanna See You Again, Heaven, Boy Crazy

Son Volt – Straightaways
Format: LP
Label: Rhino/WB
Quantity: 2500
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
20th Anniversary repressing of Son Volt’s second album.

Son Volt – Ballymena EP
Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Transmit Sound/Thirty Tigers
Quantity: 1500
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
This wonderful 10″ vinyl 45 rpm RSD Black Friday offering from Son Volt features 3 unreleased tracks that were left off of 2017’s Notes Of Blue, and 1 re-recording of a Son Volt classic “Sultana” from American Central Dust. These amazing songs are of stripped down acoustic in nature with some percussion elements and electric guitar.

1. “Ballymena” 2. “Dressed In White” 3. “Yellow Walls” 4. “Sultana”

Neil Young – Harvest Moon
Format: 2 x LP
Label: Warner Bros.
Quantity: 5000
Release type: ‘RSD First’ Release
This 25th Anniversary Edition of the Neil Young classic is newly remastered and presented for the first time on vinyl in North America, in case-wrapped gatefold jacket.

I’ve Been A Long Time Leavin’

After over 12 years of discovering, enjoying and sharing country, Americana and roots music with people all over the world I’m finally packing it in.

This is a difficult decision. We are living in turbulent times, and much of our media – social and professional – fan that turbulence to gain attention (measured by “clicks” and “likes”) of an increasingly distracted population.

I’ve been made aware of widespread discrimination throughout the genre. I previously argued against systematic exclusion within the community but have recently been persuaded where there’s this much editorial smoke there must be a cultural fire somewhere? I mean when has human judgement ever been wrong?

What’s to be done? Inclusion at all cost! Open the door to allow more blues, jazz, rap, Tejano, Ikinimba, Ikinimba and other diverse styles that, until now, been shut out. I mean this can’t be an accident, right?

Pay no mind to individual, personal preferences or predilections based on taste and alignment with ones cultural identity. Like the cultural blinders hampering the privileged of their privilege, the oppressed are often unaware of their oppression. Never mind they never desired or sought entrance to the community, they’re very absence is proof of their systematic exclusion. Their absence in the community suggests systematic exclusion resulting from a plethora of structural problems you might say, has somehow resulted in the current hemogeneous state the genre finds itself in. Right?

These genres , practitioners and fans need to be co-opted…er…embraced.

By all means we need them as members, no matter their personal choice might be. We honor these people by ignoring their choice of autonomy which likely has been warped by contemporary western standards of “choice,’ “maturity’ and ‘respect. We need to attract diverse groups into the community even if we have to alter the very music for which theirs and our community was created in the first place. Diversity in identity is more important than diversity in styles and aesthetic distinctions.

No matter, boxes need to be checked to ease our crisis of existential justice.

Never mind that over the hundreds of artists that I’ve communicated with there has been zero mention of institutional exclusion based on race, gender or sexual preference. Ever, not one. That, in my experience, the community is kind, open and tends towards a progressive inversion to the Red State brand established by Music Row has no bearing. Denial is a powerful thing! There is, however, widespread institutional exclusion based on artistic merit – instrumentation, song structure and appeal, vocal style – which is in itself proof of barriers. Tear ’em down!

We attempt to take shelter from the storm of an uncertain world by cobbling shelter out of fragmented abstractions of ever more hyphenated identity. Then we assign a ‘worth’ to our fragile structure by comparing it to others we deem lesser or bad. In response we buttress our patchwork selves by tearing the offending others down. Sometimes through outright bigotry and fear. Sometimes through righteousness indignation to reshape the world and redress injustices real and imagined.

Until the Americana community – artists, fans, venue owners, sound mixers, etc – reflect some criteria of diversity I simply cannot in good consciousness continue traveling a road cobbled with exclusion and repression. At the very least the genre needs to be rebranded

What blend of humanity will result in a socially acceptable criteria of diversity? I’m not certain, but I’ll know it when I’m told by experts that a perfect equilibrium has been achieved. I mean I didn’t know there was a problem (the common privileged malady) until I was told there was one.

I’ll be checking in to the struggle from time-to-time to check on progress. Somebody let me know when we get there.

Twang Nation out.

Tonight we sail on a radio song – Tom Petty Tributes

Tom Petty’s music appealed to anyone who loved thoughtful and superbly performed songs, but he held a special place in the hearts of Americana and roots artists. In the wake of his untimely death of cardiac arrest last Monday, there was an outpouring of tributes from his contemporaries and acolytes. Here are some I’ve collected and will add more as I come across them.

Know one? Let me know in the comments below.

Walk off the Earth – ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’ – Just happened across this brilliant cover by Canada’s Walk off the Earth. Sit back and enjoy.

One person that best exemplifies a contemporary version of roots rock Petty helped establish is Jason Isbell. Here’s Isbell and the 400 Unit tearing through “Refugee” on the first night of their 6-night sold-out run at The Ryman Auditorium – 10/9/17

Heres Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit performing “You Wreck Me” on the second night of their The Ryman Auditorium run. October 10th, 2017

Here is Jason Isbell and the 400 unit ripping through “American Girl” at Mempho Fest 2017 – October 7th, 2017

Gov’t Mule – ‘Breakdown’ – Houston, October 2nd, 2017 – Gov’t Mule brings on the moody groove featuring searing guitar work by Warren Haynes.

The Mavericks – ‘You don’t know how it feels’ – Humphrey’s – SD, CA – October 5, 2017 – The Mavericks put their unique spin on this classic.

Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus – “Wildflowers” – Whatever Miley Cyrus does musically she proves time and again that she has a country heart. Cyrus finishes out her Tonight Show residency with a lovely tribute to Petty with accompaniment from her father Billy Ray Cyrus.

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives- ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’, April – Marty Stuart has long proclaimed in concert that he’s a Petty fan. This tribute was captured a few months before Petty’s death.

The Avett Brothers – “You Don’t Know How It Feels” Council Bluffs, IA October 5th, 2017 – The Avett Brothers h=get a lot of help from the audience in this heartfelt tribute.

Chris Stapleton – “Learning to Fly” – October 5th, 2017, Moline, Illinois – Chris Stapleton offers some memories of playing a show with Petty before performing a soulful solo acoustic version of “Learning to Fly.”

John Fogerty – “I Won’t Back Down” – October 4th, 2017, Encore Theatre at Wynn hotel, Las Vegas. Fogerty honors Tom Petty at his show at The Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas. This was also the first show after the tragic events at Mandalay Bay

Wilco – ‘The Waiting,’ Toyota Pavilion, Irving, Texas, October 3, 2017 – I dare you not to get chills from this tribute.

Hanson – “Wildflowers” (rehearsal) – October 3rd, 2017 at the Corona Theatre in Montreal, Canada. – Say want you want about Hanson, this is a beautiful harmonic tribute.

Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Dave Matthews, Patty Griffin – “Refugee” by Tom Petty – Moore Theatre, Seattle October, 3rd 2017 – This performance was the opening song on the opening night of the 2017 edition of Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees benefiting Jesuit Refugee Services USA.

Foo Fighters “Breakdown”- Played at a secret 2013 show in Moorpark, CA – Redballs Rock N Roll Pizza. Just badass.