On February 19, 1987, it was just another night at the Palomino, with Taj Mahal and The Graffiti Band playing some folk, soul, blues and maybe a bit of jazz. It wasn't unusual for some more major musicians to be in the crowd, but this night George Harrison, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, and Jesse Ed Davis joined Taj and jammed, with Fogerty playing "Proud Mary" at the prompting of Dylan. But if you want to visit this iconic club today, you'll find yourself in front of Le Monge banquet hall. The Palomino is no more, but you can visit the Valley's legendary honky-tonk with an oral history of The Palomino, and a fan-made VH1 "Behind the Music" style documentary that includes some vintage clips and photos. [more inside]
"So last week, when country radio promoter Keith Hill controversially suggested that stations should stop playing songs by female artists, it’s easy to label his actions another example of misogynistic, conservative politics.The Conversation's Clifford Murphy, on why [country radio promoter] Keith Hill’s comments about women in country music cut far deeper than misogyny [more inside]
However, Hill’s comments are actually indicative of something much bigger and far more troubling: the consolidation of an entire genre of music, and the type of environment this can create. In the case of country, it’s allowed for the repurposing of the genre’s history, and the exclusion of certain individuals."
The formula works. A mashup of 6 top-40 country songs.
All Roads Lead to [still-living country music legend*] Willie Nelson: "In a time when America is more divided than ever, Nelson could be the one thing that everybody agrees on." [more inside]
In 1981, the South Bank Show followed Elvis Costello to Nashville for the making of his latest album. The result: "The Making Of Almost Blue" [more inside]
Y'all, consisting of Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and James Dean Jay Byrd, first surfaced in New York city in 1992, touting themselves as the first openly gay country music act. That same year, they preformed Y'all's First Xmas Xtravagaza: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. [more inside]
Jailangaru Pakarnu was the first song to hit the popular music charts sung in an Australian Aboriginal language, released by Warumpi Band in 1983. [more inside]
Corb Lund is a classically trained jazz musician who was a founding member of Canadian metal legends The Smalls. For the past seventeen years, though, as the centrepiece of Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans, he has been cranking out alt-country records that have garnered praise from well outside usual country music circles. His biggest hit is almost certainly the comedic Truck Got Stuck. His most recent single however is the sombre peak-oil apocalypse tune Gettin' Down on the Mountain. Corb also maintains maintains an excellent songwriting blog that he describes as 30% guitar lesson: "What That Song Means Now."
Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel - An excellent 90 minute BBC documentary, the story of the legendary country rock pioneer as told by contemporary musicians, family, and friends. It includes rare performance footage. (Via Dangerous Minds) [more inside]
Ray Wylie Hubbard hosts Roots and Branches weekly live from Tavern In The Gruene for New Braunfels, Texas radio station KNBT 92.1 FM. Two hours of music and interviews with established and up and coming Americana artists.
Kitty Wells, a pioneer of women in country music died today at the age of 92. Her first big hit, It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, was a woman's reply to the Hank Thompson song, Wild Side of Life. [more inside]
American Country Music legend Bobby Bare (76) will take part in the Norwegian finals in the Eurovision Song Contest. [more inside]
Do you feel overwhelmed trying to understand the driving forces behind our economic collapse. When listening to the latest Planet Money podcast, do you find yourself yearning for something a bit more toe-tappin'? Meet Merle Hazard. "He is the first and only country singer to write about mortgage-backed securities, derivatives, and physics."
Perhaps the greatest country baritone since George Jones is confined to a wheelchair by muscular dystrophy and has a day job at a nuclear power plant. [more inside]
Sometimes, when you've had your fill of people basking in the golden light of their self-righteous indignation, you just wanna hear a song about somebody telling those holier-than-thou-ers where to get off. Something like, say, Harper Valley PTA. [more inside]
It's 3 a.m., on some date in 1975, the white line is wavering in front of your amphetamine bleached eyes, your rig is barreling through the high plains north of nowhere and you won't see your woman for three more days, what 8-track do you need to get you through the night? Why, Country Porn, of course.
Linked page is mostly safe for work, but NSFW audio files, and some text [more inside]
Linked page is mostly safe for work, but NSFW audio files, and some text [more inside]
Gram Parsons fans take note - there's a recent new biography and a release of 90 minutes of vintage Flying Burrito Brothers. Some rare footage has also recently surfaced online: performing with FBB and duets with Emmylou Harris 1, 2, 3. Other items of note: Emmylou talks about Gram in 2000; British biographical sketch; Keith Richards on Gram in Rolling Stone; an interview with Manuel, the designer of the famous Nudie suit. [more inside]
The Delmore Brothers, hailing from north Alabama and active from 1926 to 1952, were an early country and western duo that married effortlessly relaxed (but very polished) harmonies with soulful country-boogie blues. Bob Dylan said of them: "The Delmore Brothers, God, I really loved them! I think they've influenced every harmony I've ever tried to sing." They're sure worth some listens, y'all.
For lovers of old-time, mountain banjo styles and songs, Roscoe Holcomb and Dock Boggs are revered figures. To many, however, plucker and singer David Akeman remains uncelebrated or unknown, even by his stage name of Stringbean. Is it because he was for a time actually famous as a country music showbiz staple, and therefore lacks folk cred? Or maybe the purists just can't get with those low-hanging pants the man was known for, his original hillbilly homeboy styling? Or was it cause on any given tune his left hand would likely be off the neck of the banjo more than on it? Whatever the reason, it's time folks took a new look at Stringbean. After all, the lines between folk and commercial styles have always been blurry in American music. Let's hear it for Stringbeeeeeeeaaan! [more inside]
Do you have a hard time relating to popular country music? Hank III is doing his best to play country music the way he thinks it should be. Not everyone likes him, but he drives some folks wild. [more inside]
The DeZurik Sisters committed only six songs to record during their recording career, but were the first women stars of the Grand Ole Opry and the National Barn Dance. Now WFMU has 32 tracks of theirs from their early appearance as The Cackle Sisters on the Purina Checkerboard Squares Radio Show. Download away and hear the yodeling that swept the nation in the early 40s.
Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of Gram Parsons (famous, of course, for the corpse's subsequent adventures). Read a long bio starting here, a small interview, or page through one of his notebooks and the guestbook that sits in his last hotel room.
The man in black is no more. Johnny Cash passes away from diabetes complications early this morning.
I'm in the middle of a book called Will you miss me when I'm gone?, which chronicles the history of the famous Carter Family, and includes some incredibly charming descriptions of June Carter (later the wife of Johnny Cash; the development of her musical voice, her mountain-tinted wit, and her onstage goofball comedy. Unfortunately, June Carter Cash died yesterday.
Dixie Chicks Pulled from Air After Bashing Bush Dude, these Texas people didn't find criticism of the president unpatriotic when Bill Clinton was president. They thought it was a sacred duty...Apparently country stations in Texas and elsewhere are pulling Dixie Chicks albums because their lead singer, while on an overseas tour, criticized Bush, saying she was ashamed to be from the state as him. People who want to criticize the critics of the critical comments are supporting the Chicks by buying their albums and requesting their songs. I never thought I'd buy a Dixie Chicks album, but that's what I'm going to do tonight, and I'm paying full price!
Take this life and shove it: So goodbye then, Johnny PayCheck. Even the very British and conservative Daily Telegraph honoured you today with an affectionate obituary [Reg. required: full text inside.] I wonder how many unrepentant rebel-singin', cocaine-sniffin', bar-brawlin', hard-drinkin', good-lovin', corn-munchin' musicians there are left. And whether any of the young 'uns today will be able to keep up, livin' the life, as long as you did. Even though you too eventually succumbed to preaching against drink and drugs. I suspect most of the new generation will become health freaks by the time they hit forty and that you, Sir, were one of a dying breed.
Just another guy on the lost highway died 50 years ago today. Here's an interesting site with some newspaper clippings, and here are some video clips and tabs in case you feel like doing a little strummin'.
Very Rude, Very Unsafe For Work, But Charming And Just About OK For Friday Night...Perhaps! Whatever: There's still no excuse for this kind of thing. It's number one E-mail forwardista in Portugal and 9 out of 10 female Iberian bloggers recommend it. So please don't click if you're a prude or dislike pseudo-country music. Is all I'm saying...[Shockwave required]
Let’s visit with the father of bluegrass, shall we? (inside)
Harlan Howard is dead. The greatest American country songwriter outside of Hank Williams and Merle Haggard wrote more than four thousand songs, including Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces" and Buck Owens' "Tiger By The tail", but "God May Forgive You (But I Won't)", performed by Rosie Flores and Iris Dement, is the one that turned me on. Known as the Dean of Nashville songwriters, Harlan had a permanently reserved barstool, and plenty of tips for aspiring songwriters, one of which was "country music is three chords and the truth". Old stool.
Post-Country Heartache. A very down to earth interview with Paul Brill. Who doesn't seem jaded at all from the music industry. Still writing good music and playing shows. (from Sound the Sirens)
Country Great Waylon Jennings Dead Well, there aren't too many outlaws left.
"Country. Admit it. You love it."...this is what the country music industry's new campaign says. "There was one young woman in Dallas in one of the focus groups that said, `I listen to country music in my car, but if I pull up at a traffic light and I see someone cool pull up next to me, I'll hit the button and change the station."