Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Americana Music Award Nominees were released today, and read by none other than Emmy Lou Harris and Todd Snider this morning at the W.O. Smith School of Music.
Leading the way in this talented group of nominees for 2010 are Dave Rawlings, who is nominated in 4 of the 6 named categories, along with Oscar winner Ryan Bingham in 3 categories. Hayes Carll and Ray Wylie Hubbard are also nominated in more than one category as well.
When I first studied this list, several questions came to mind. First of all, since when is Hayes Carll, Ryan Bingham, and Corb Lund considered “New & Emerging Artists?” While each is well deserving of any award nomination they may achieve, their presence on the Americana music scene is anything but new and emerging. They are the virtual cream of the crop!
Secondly, I find it interesting that the Hayes Carll/Ray Wylie Hubbard song “Drunken Poets Dream” is up for Song of the Year. After all, Hayes released this song on his own record, plus won Song of the Year in 2008 for “She Left Me For Jesus” from that same record. Guess that speaks volumes for Hayes and his “Trouble In Mind” record.
The omission of a few great artists irritates me as well. Scott Miller, Jason Eady, and Malcomb Holcomb each released material deserving award recognition. If the New & Emerging Artist category is any reflection on where the selection process is now, perhaps we will see these three in the category in a few years. It seems the selection committee is playing a bit of catch up.
The awards show takes place in the midst of the 11th annual Americana Festival and Conference, slated for Sept. 8–11 and based at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown hotel. The festival includes more than 100 music showcases at numerous Nashville venues.
Given the choices below…here are my own selections:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR – A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment – Ray Wylie Hubbard
ARTIST OF THE YEAR – Ryan Bingham
DUO GROUP OF THE YEAR – Band of Heathens (this should be a definite IMO)
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR – Dave Rawlings
NEW & EMERGING ARTIST – Hayes Carll
SONG OF THE YEAR – The Weary Kind – Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
The 2010 Americana Music Association Honors and Awards nominees
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The List, by Rosanne Cash
A Friend of a Friend, by Dave Rawlings Machine
Downtown Church, by Patty Griffin
A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C), by Ray Wylie Hubbard
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Levon Helm — tie
Steve Earle — tie
Ray Wylie Hubbard
DUO GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Avett Brothers
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Band of Heathens
Dave Rawlings Machine
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
NEW & EMERGING ARTIST
Hayes Carll — tie
SONG OF THE YEAR
“The Weary Kind," written by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett, performed by Ryan Bingham
"Drunken Poets Dream," written by Hayes Carll and Ray Wylie Hubbard, performed by Ray Wylie Hubbard
"Ruby," written by Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch, performed by Dave Rawlings Machine
"I and Love and You," written and performed by The Avett Brothers
Monday, April 19, 2010
So last night on CBS we were presented with the supposed Academy of Country Music Awards. To be honest, I was intrigued and watch just to see what they were going to pass off as country music this time. It always amazes me how far they attempt to push the envelope of the increasing blurred definition of country music. The fact that this awards show was taking place in none other than Las Vegas, further heightened my curiosity. Of course when you think of the lights of Las Vegas, country music automatically leaps to mind, right?
From the very beginning, I knew they would not disappoint me. As Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood each delivered screaming vocals on the "country classic" Travelin' Band, made famous by CCR. Even John Fogerty showed up to join in on this one.
Yes....nothing opens a country awards show better than a screaming rendition of a classic rock song. It was Vegas, so I was expecting something unique. I could not help but think that perhaps a Elvis selection might have been a bit more appropriate. But, hey....this is the newly defined country genre.
Later we were treated to yet another inspiring musical number by Laura Bell Bundy. What? You never heard of her? Me neither....and a few seconds into her number I had figured out why. No matter how far you attempt to stretch the definition of country music, this one only qualified due to her cowboy boots. It was nothing more than a Vegas show number, and a poor one at that. Someone must have had their pockets well lined with greenbacks to get this one on a primetime country music awards show. It was beyond ridiculous.
It was not until well into the show, and after several live performances filled with screaming electric guitars, that I even seen a fiddle player. And guess what? That was from a video snipit from the Zac Brown Band, who were performing overseas for the military. I was only left to think they must not allow fiddles in Las Vegas.
Just as I was about to turn off the TV, along came Hootie. Darius Rucker, better known as pop rock singer Hootie from Hootie and the Blowfish, began his tune. When he got to the bridge, he threw it to his mandolin player, none other than Sam Bush.
Funny how it took until the final minutes of the show to get to a country performer. Even Brad Paisley, whom I admire and appreciate, and even Blake Shelton to some extent, have strayed away from the country roots and into the pop rock scene. Their talents were still evident, even tolerable, but still not country.
One thing I was left wondering. Included in the eight finalists for the Entertainer of The Year award was George Strait. Now George still strikes a true country chord, so I was curious what sets him apart from the others who have been shut out? Why you never see George Jones, Merle Haggard, or even Alan Jackson now, at any of these shows. Perhaps it is more the stance they have taken as pure country artists, and do not want to associate with the money grabbing vultures who run the genre today.
My friends, you can like it if you want....play it as loud as you can.....but it ain't country!
Now I need to go grab my Louvin Brothers CD and cleanse my country soul.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Living legend Billy Joe Shaver was found “NOT GUILTY” today for his aggravated assault charges stemming from a shooting outside a bar in Waco, Texas in 2007. The 70 year old Shaver, who is best known for writing the songs that appeared on Waylon Jennings “Honky Tonk Heroes” record and other well known hits such as “Old Chunk of Coal” and “Live Forever,” avoids a lengthy possible jail term.
Billy Joe is currently working on a new release which may be out later this year. Stay tuned here to Americana Roots for more upcoming info on Shaver, including a potential interview soon.
God Bless Billy Joe Shaver….and the state of Texas!!!
Monday, March 15, 2010
There is something warm and soothing about live acoustic music. It allows the singer to paint a picture with his lyrics with amazing clarity and passion. When you combine well written lyrics along with vocals that float almost effortlessly with the strumming of the guitar, you have Americana music in its purest form.
Drew Kennedy has given a gift to us all with his latest release “Alone, But Not Lonely.” When I say “gift,” I mean it in every sense of the word. Believe it or not, you can download this for free if you like. Here is the link:
You may also buy a limited edition version of the CD as well. There are 300 limited edition CD’s, with each hand carved linoleum block black ink on cardboard CD sleeve prints. Each one will be numbered and autographed as well. These will be first come, first served, available either at Lone Star Music, or on the road at the shows. I highly recommend you order this before they disappear. It is that good.
The CD is comprised of 12 live songs, 6 songs from previously released material, plus 6 new songs which have yet to see the light of day. Kennedy has also kindly included introductions for these songs, which provides some great insight as to where these songs were derived. I must admit, after hearing some of the ideas where his songs originated, I had to shake my head in amazement. The guy is literal genius.
Of the 6 songs which were previously released, 5 of them appear on his most recent studio success “An Audio Guide To Cross Country Travel.” The only song from a prior release is touching “The Last Waltz.” Kennedy provides some humorous details behind this song which he calls one of his favorites.
From the opening chords of the CD, you realize just what a treat this is going to be. The live energy jumps out at you immediately as Kennedy starts out with “Cincinnati.” Mixing in the intros of the new songs with the prior material creates an atmosphere allowing the listener to be sitting among the others at the show, enjoying the night.
Before you get the idea that there must be something wrong with these 6 new songs since they have not appeared on any prior releases, forget it. “Tending Bar By The Tracks At Midnight In Tupelo, Mississippi” (yes, that is one song) was co-written with fellow Texan Rodney Hayden while out on the road. The song, and great story behind it, should not be missed. In fact, all 6 new songs provide an introspective look into this great artist/writer. “AM Radio” along with “We’ve All Got Marks To Make” are just two more examples of his broad talents.
The highlight for me has to be the live version of “St. Abilene,” which appears on the “An Audio Guide To Cross Country Travel” album. This is just a beautiful song, but when you strip it down to the man, the music, and a guitar…it floors you. Kennedy’s vocal strengths truly shine.
One more thing….as he states in the liner notes for this release….Kennedy just turned 30 years old. He states this is sort of a “celebration” of that achievement. Honestly, how many artists out there today would provide this great music for free? Do yourself….and your friends a favor….tell them about this guy…and his music. Let them get this free download if they need convincing. There will be no disappointment….and the guy truly deserves it.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Here is a bit of news which may surprise some. Hank III is more well known for his rowdy hell-raising ways than his kind heart, but there is a warm heart beating within there. Here is a notice just posted on his web site:
"Hank III (Hank Williams III), will present a benefit concert for Homes for Our Troops, a non-partisan, non-profit 501 organization that provides specially adapted homes for severely wounded veterans at Wired Live (formerly the Meridian), 1503 Chartres, Houston, TX on Saturday, March 13, 2010. Doors open at 7 pm. Prior to the show, a VIP dinner will be held onsite with attending dignitaries and military personnel.
Hank III, the grandson of Hank Williams, is known for mixing hillbilly country with punk rock rhythms in his marathon performances. He usually plays back-to-back sets—country first as Hank III and the Damn Band and then as heavy industrial punk- rockers Hank III and Assjack.
A very special appreciation presentation will be made honoring Hank III for his support to Homes For Our Troops, and local military personnel and veterans will be attending the show courtesy of local businesses. Hank III will stop through Houston for the benefit show while on his west coast tour.
Opening for Hank III will be former NFL All-Pro offensive lineman Kyle Turley and Texas musician Linda K. Showtime is at 8pm and tickets are available via
myonstageevents.com or ticketmaster.com. "
It is great to see him doing something like that.
Also from his web site...more great news about his next CD release:
Rebel Within, has been given a release date of May 25, 2010. Stop by Amazon and pre-order the CD now, you can also pre-order the release as a LP+CD package.
The track list:
Getting' Drunk and Fallin' Down / Rebel Within / Lookin' For A Mountain
Gone But Not Forgotten / Drinkin' Ain't Hard To Do / Moonshiner's Life
#5 / Karmageddon / Lost In Oklahoma / Tore Up and Loud
Drinkin' Over Mama
So it looks like we have plenty of good music to look forward to as the weather gets warmer!! Keep updated here...as I hope to get another one on one interview with Hank III before this release date.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Paul Thorn is set to release a new CD on June 22nd, according to his newsletter update received just yesterday.
Can't wait that long? Not to worry...Paul says there will be a limited edition pre-sale option with bonus material only available from his web site at www.paulthorn.com. He states info should be available next month, so keep checking.
For those that want a sneak peek at one of the songs, Music Fog has a video of Paul singing one of the new songs titled "That's Life" that you need to check out. Just Paul and his guitar, doing what he does best.
The guy is a talent.....with extraordinary passion and writing skills to boot.
Here is the link to the video on Music Fog:
Speaking of Music Fog....if you have not checked it out...get your butt over there and do it. Former XM radio director for X-Country (I miss this station very much) Jesse Scott has done a great job gathering up some stuff which should not be missed.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
What 3 songs would you choose if forced to decide among the best bluegrass songs of all time?
My choices would have to include Jimmy Martin and Bill Monroe, since I consider them the King and Father respectively of bluegrass music.
With that in mind, my choices would be in no particular order:
20/20 VISION - This song has always rang true for me with its chorus "20/20 Vision and walking around blind." A Jimmy Martin classic.
CAN'T YOU HEAR ME CALLIN' - A true classic by Bill Monroe. I also enjoy the personalized version Dwight Yoakam did on this one as well.
I AM A MAN OF CONSTANT SORROW - Of course this one was made more famous from the movie "Oh Brother Where Art Thou," but has been around for quite sometime.
Those would be my choices. I would like to hear from others to see what you think. I am always looking for something I might have missed.