Archive for Baron Lane

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.

Tom Petty – A memory and a dream

“People come, people go
Some grow young, some grow cold
I woke up in between
A memory and a dream’

Though I had been a fan for years, I didn’t see Tom Petty in concert until the tour for 2010’s “Mojo.” Made eight years after his prior release, “The Last Dj,” “Mojo” was an album many were sure wouldn’t get made. “Petty’s irreverent now, why would he put out new music.”

‘Mojo” was just the psychedelic-crunch sonic shot over the bow of those who had relinquished Petty and & the Heartbreakers in the dump of classic rock nostalgia. The reports of rock’s demise were premature. There was more in the engine and it was ready to roar.

The supporting tour was a stirring mix of live rock ferocity and deeply melodic grooves that reminded older fans why they fell in love in the first place and coaxed new fans gladly into the fold.

From the start with 1976’s eponymous debut you knew Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were a breath of fresh air. Populist heartland rock more melodic than the Boss served with a punk-rock directness spoke to the intersection of the 70s into the 80s.

A soundtrack tailor-made for muscle car stereos all over America’s asphalt wonderland.

Petty went on to dominate FM radio as well as the newly introduced visual medium MTV. The back-alley pan shot in the video for ‘Refuge” showed a confident young ready for his destiny as a rock star.

Petty’s songs and arrangements sounded fresh, daring and yet familiar. Petty reflected his heroes – the Byrds, the Zombies, The Everly Brothers – skillfully embedded within the essence of songs so taut you couldn’t distinguish a single wasted note.

With Petty’s too early demise some will want to drop the curtain once and for all on rock and roll. That’s ridiculous and says more about their personal preferences than a proper read of the territory.

Few musicians embodied their time as singley as Tom Petty and still seemed to be of all rock history. A rarity that has influenced generations of young musicians that might, in time, carry that flame of heartland stories that make you throw a fist in the air as well as hum along.

One of my favorite deep cuts is ‘Luna,” the final song written in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Church Studio, before heading back to Hollywood to finish mixing their debut.

An early anomaly for a band that went on to be famous for guitar anthems. An improvised ballad made up on the spot with Stan Lynch on ARP synthesiser and guitar Mike Campbell using an Ebow with Benmont Tench on grand piano – an lovely but eerie piece from a band finding it’s legs.

——

White light cut a scar in the sky
Thin line of silver
The night was all clouded with dreams
Wind made me shiver
Black and yellow pools of light
Outside my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

The clouds are all silver and black
Floating around me
Luna come into my eyes
Luna surround me
With black and yellow pools of light
Fall by my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

The clouds are all silver and black
Floating around me
Luna come into my eyes
Luna surround me
With black and yellow pools of light
Fall by my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

Miranda Lambert Announces ‘Livin’ Like Hippies’ Tour. invites Great Opening Acts.

Miranda Lambert Announces 'Livin’ Like Hippies'

Miranda Lambert has announced her winter 2018 tour plans. With her latest release of the excellent ‘The Weight Of These Wings’ she stayed true to her MO she’s displayed throughout her career, straddling the line between Music Row glitz and Red Dirt grit.

Lambert is now showing her great taste in music and willingness to expose roots artists to a larger audience. The main opener, Jon Pardi, sounds like a hat act being groomed the Tim McGraw’s career path, but Charlie Worsham, Ashley McBryde, Sunny Sweeney, the Steel Woods, Lucie Silvas, Turnpike Troubadours and Brent Cobb filling in on select dates. C’mon!

That’s badass.

The tour begins on January 18th in Greenville, S.C., and ends March 24th in Winston Salem, N.C.

The only bummer for me is there’s no North Texas stop. ‘Livin’ Like Hippies’ full dates below:

Jan. 18 — Greenville, S.C. @ Bon Secours Arena (Jon Pardi and Brent Cobb)
Jan. 19 — Orlando, Fla. @ Amway Center (Jon Pardi and Brent Cobb)
Jan. 20 — Atlanta, Ga. @ Infinite Energy Center (Jon Pardi and Brent Cobb)
Feb. 1 — Tacoma, Wash. @ TBA (Jon Pardi and Turnpike Troubadours)
Feb. 2 — Spokane, Wash. @ TBA (Jon Pardi and Turnpike Troubadours)
Feb. 3 — Eugene, Ore. @ Matthew Knight Arena (Jon Pardi and Turnpike Troubadours)
Feb. 8 — Sacramento, Calif. @ Golden 1 Center (Jon Pardi and Lucie Silvas)
Feb. 9 — Fresno, Calif. @ Save Mart Center (Jon Pardi and Lucie Silvas)
Feb. 10 — Los Angeles, Calif. @ the Forum (Jon Pardi and Lucie Silvas)
Feb. 15 — San Diego, Calif. @ Viejas Arena (Jon Pardi and Lucie Silvas)
Feb. 17 — Phoenix, Ariz. @ Talking Stick Resort Arena (Jon Pardi and Lucie Silvas)
March 1 — Knoxville, Tenn. @ Thompson-Boling Arena (Jon Pardi and the Steel Woods)
March 2 — Lexington, Ky. @ Rupp Arena (Jon Pardi and the Steel Woods)
March 3 — Cleveland, Ohio @ Wolstein Center (Jon Pardi and the Steel Woods)
March 8 — Omaha, Neb. @ CenturyLink Center (Jon Pardi and Sunny Sweeney)
March 9 — Oklahoma City, Okla. @ Chesapeake Energy Arena (Jon Pardi and Sunny Sweeney)
March 10 — Little Rock, Ariz. @ Verizon Arena (Jon Pardi and Sunny Sweeney)
March 15 — Des Moines, Iowa @ Wells Fargo Arena (Jon Pardi and Ashley McBryde)
March 16 — St. Louis, Mo. @ ScotTrade Center (Jon Pardi and Ashley McBryde)
March 17 — Kansas City, Mo. @ Sprint Center (Jon Pardi and Ashley McBryde)
March 22 — Newark, N.J. @ Prudential Center (Jon Pardi and Charlie Worsham)
March 23 — State College, Pa. @ Bryce Jordan Center (Jon Pardi and Charlie Worsham)
March 24 — Winston Salem, N.C. @ Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Arena (Jon Pardi and Charlie Worsham)

Star-Studded Concert Film & Recording “The Life & Songs of Kris Kristofferson” Premiering October 27, 2017

'The Life & Songs Of Kris Kristofferson.'

On March 16th, 2016 many esteemed artists across roots music came together at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena to pay tribute to songwriting icon Kris Kristofferson.

If you weren’t able to make that show relax, on Friday, October 27 Country Music Television will premiere the 90-minute broadcast entitled ‘The Life & Songs Of Kris Kristofferson.’ On that same day Blackbird Presents Records will release the full-length concert film as a CD/DVD combo features performances, in-depth interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage with Kris Kristofferson, Jessi Alexander, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Ryan Bingham, Rosanne Cash, Eric Church, Jessi Colter, Rodney Crowell, Larry Gatlin, Emmylou Harris, Jack Ingram, Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, The Travelin’ McCourys, Reba McEntire, Buddy Miller, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Nettles, Jon Randall, Darius Rucker, Hank Williams Jr. and Lee Ann Womack.

Performances include a range of Kristofferson classics, like “Me And Bobby McGee” (performed by Reba McEntire), “Help Me Make It Through The Night” (Performed by Lady Antebellum), “To Beat The Devil” (Performed by Eric Church), a very special performance of “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” (performed by Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson), and an all-star grand finale performance of the classic “Why Me.”

The CD/DVD can be purchased with exclusive merchandise from PledgeMusic (http://pledgemusic.com/projects/songsofkristofferson) including a limited edition framed gig poster from the night of the show, color photo, and an Epiphone Ltd. Ed. 1963 J-45 guitar, all signed by Kris Kristofferson. Merchandise bundles which include the official concert t-shirt and hat.

‘The Life & Songs Of Kris Kristofferson’ CD/DVD combo is available for preorder at pledgemusic.

Jason Isbell Won’t Change Country Music, And That’s A Good Thing

Jason isbell

It’s a new day in country music, that’s what some might have you believe.

The Country Music Association revealed its nominees for the 51st CMA Awards on Monday on, fittingly, a morning variety show. I say fittingly because I’m certain that the CMA know full-well their demographic is shared by ABC’s Good Morning America. Soft news, fashion, food, and entertainment, in other words, lifestyle.

The nominee list for Album of the Year must have sent many GMA viewers to Google the name Jason Isbell. Just like the Grammy’s did by nominating Sturgill Simpson for Album of the Year alongside Adele and Beyoncé. The Country Music Association threw a seeming curveball to country music fans by looking outside the usually well-known names that comfortably rule the charts and mainstream country radio playlists.

Though Jason Isbell’s nomination for AOTY might have taken many by surprise fans were aware of the brilliance from the start. They have followed his troubled but brilliant career, through his time in the Alabama Southern Rock band The Drive-By Truckers through his early uneven solo output. But starting with 2013’s “Southeastern” up to his current nominated release “The Nashville Sound ” Isbell and crew have been on a charmed run of critical acclaim, chart runs, late-night TV appearances and multiple industry awards. Isbell’s always been a keen and genuine songwriter (as well as a badass and under-appreciated guitarist) To make this even more rewarding time Isbell enjoyed sobriety, married singer/songwriter Amanda Shires and started a family.

With a proven record of popular success the Country Music Association took notice. CMA is a trade group not known for taking chances with its award show, here they had an artist with critical acclaim, strong sales, and enough live cred to sell out a six-night stint at the Mother Church of country music, the Ryman Auditorium.

But Music Row Music Row adopts popular (pop) styles they believe kept the genre relevant and lucrative. Sinatra resulted in Eddie Arnold. Nickleback resulted Florida Georgia Line. This tactic has resulted in the genre becoming the #1 radio format in the country. Millions of album and ticket sales. Mainstream country has anticipated and met mass appeal as obsessively as McDonalds has tailored the McRib’s limited release model. This has resulted business success. Nothing is left to chance.

Not even Isbell’s nomination. Like nominee Chris Stapleton, Isbell is a low-risk way for Music Row to superficially address the recent bro-country backlash and give the impression to their customers that they’re new and improved. You know, like detergent.

But Isbell’s nomination, or even a win, will no more change the trajectory of Music Row than the nom/win would cause Isbell to start writing songs featuring dirt roads and girls in Daisey Dukes. Willie and Waylon didn’t change things. Neither did Dwight and Earle. Though I’m sure then, like now, there was self-satisfied chatter that Music Row finally changing for the better.

But better for who? I love the music of Americana and a recognize it’s richness, but I also recognize it’s not for everyone. Nor would I want it to be.

Much like the political landscape, there’s an element of one portion of the country wondering what the hell is wrong with the other portion. How could they possibly vote…er…listen to such garbage? There very little understanding of the fly-over states but plenty of tongue-clicking judgement. It’s the most vile form of arrogance, the kind disguised as empathy.

Music Row has taken Mark Twain’s statement about his own work, ‘My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water.’ as it’s guiding principle of its own output. Music Row has a laser-focused bead on the NASCAR masses and work tirelessly to meet their market-tested needs. The resulting music doesn’t appeal to snobs like myself, nor is it designed to. But it makes millions happy with it’s Friday Night Lights scenarios appealing to a folks yearning for wholesome simplicity in an ever more complex world.

It’s not just music, it’s a psychological backdrop of hope, nostalgia and a little fear of the unknown. Whatever you think of that concept there’s no denying that it’s worked as a potent brand to adhere those desires to their product.

Isbell and his band deserve all the success, awards and resulting revenue currently coming their way. They came to it the hard way, roadweary and hard pressed (remember when their equipment trailer was stolen after a gig in Dallas?) Music in it’s purist form.

Mainstream Country and Americana are first cousins that fight at family gatherings. Both share the same cultural, thematic and instrumentation roots but each have taken them in their own direction. In many ways each exists as a result of the other. Alt.country spawned as a Johnny Cash finger response to the gloss of 80’s country. Americana to Bro-country. If one were to cease to exist the other would suffer in it’s unique role.

Any Americana artist that can, just for a moment, pierce the veil of Music Row’s brand to remind the world how inspiring and challenging music can be has done something special and hopefully enriches the cultural landscape and gives hope to aspiring country music artists that there’s something more to sing about than old trucks (maybe just in a more poetic way.)

Let’s just try not to be arrogant music dicks while all that greatness happens.

The 51st CMA Awards Monday, Nov. 8 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and will be televised on ABC.