The Travelin’ McCourys In Nashville.

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Jan 132019

Sound wise the bustling and often sold out 3rd And Lindsley is one of my favorite venues to see a show. Now I had many shows from many music communities to choose from tonight, and I chose Bluegrass for a few reasons. Furthermore, I chose this show because their self titled debut album made my TOP 50 OF 2018 and I thought I had better enjoy one of those bands before the luster of it wore off. I have so much going on in 2019, that nothing lasts very long before the next endeavor overshadows it.

Standing room only here tonight for The Travelin’ McCourys which was totally understandable. In my humble opinion, they are one of the hottest new Bluegrass bands around. Not exactly “NEW” per say…just since they launched their debut album now. Later on in this article another one of my TOP 50 OF 2017 Bluegrass musicians came out to join them.

I decree “not exactly new”, because this band has existed for nine years prior to their debut album release. I remember many of my friends who attend DelFest saying that in 2016, they blew the entire festival away with their live show. They have accumulated an intense following without an official debut release, and THAT impressed me from the get go.

From the starting point of the show the band launched an attack upon the ears with insane instrumentals and many songs off their self titles debut album. They played a very nice cover of Steve young’s song “Lonesome Onry and Mean” that of course was made famous by Mr. Waylon, and that song was sung by the fiddle player Mr. Jason Carter.

As with many Bluegrass bands, the five members take turns singing lead vocals with terrific harmonies and breathtaking solos, like Mr. Ronnie’s mandolin solo on their song “The Hardest Heart” sung by the upright bass player Mr. Alan Bartram.

The song “Borderline” was next which showcased mighty fine musicianship tonight, and displayed the well oiled mechanics of this band here. Just by watching them up close I could easily tell that all five members know exactly what each other is doing time wise.  They followed that song up with “I live On A Battlefield” which also included some great instrumentals, and among the set of classics they covered was the 1972 Osborne Brothers song “Midnight Flyer” which the Eagles also recorded in 1974.

Before playing the Song “Let Her Go” they acknowledged their Grammy nomination, and once you witness their wonderful harmonies on this song, you’ll see why they were. Afterwards they went into a lengthy version of “Long black Veil” choked full of note after note of unique precision, that I enjoy most about Bluegrass. Also, when you hear those timeless classics like “Little Maggie” you know there is honor for the Legends who took the stage before these men.

The band took a short intermission break, since there was no opening act here tonight and that gave me a chance to catch up with notes and such. They brought out one of my 2017 TOP 50 albums Mr. Billy Strings, who came out with them to sing “Streamline Cannonball” a song made popular by Mr. Roy Acuff and also Mr. Doc Watson. Additionally tonight, they brought out Mr. Sam Bush who always the crowd with HELLO MUSIC LOVERS! They played his song called “Back To Ol Kentucky”.

Mr. Del McCourry, father of two of the members came out to front the band for a few songs. I’ll pretty much tell you this much…this show was well worth the twenty dollar door fee. I had more fun with this show than a few major arena shows I can remember! Mr. Del excitedly sang his “Prisoner’s Song” for us tonight, followed by on he recorded in 1963 with Mr. Bill Monroe called “Roll On Baby Roll On”.

The instrumentals continued to emanate forth from the stage tonight by every member of the band, as it pretty much turned into a big jam session. I remember hearing “White House Blues”, and I noted the Travelin McCouury’s song called “Loser”.  While I always enjoy shows here at 3rd And Lindsley, this was the first Bluegrass show I ever experienced here. The lights were TRULY wonderful and the sound was PERFECT for this type of setup, I’ll be returning next weekend for another band.

Country Music Songwriting Legend Mr. Whitey Shafer Dies.

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Jan 132019

Last night as I was watching the NFL playoffs and resting at home, a good friend of mine called me and sadly informed me that Country Music Songwriting Legend Mr. Sanger D. “Whitey” Shafer died at 85. At this time his family and publicists have not released any reasons for his death, however many people had posted recently that he had entered his final days.

Many many times I have proclaimed on this website that there exists THREE great pillars or foundations of Country Music in this order 1. Songwriters 2. Producers 3. Steel Guitarists. If you have an album that embellishes all three (like the Willie Nelson album Red Headed Stranger), you have a classic album time cannot falter.

Sadly in some form all three of these contributors are becoming few and far between, especially in mainstream Country music. With ( dare I say “OUR”) music communities there DOES exist a plethora of talented younger people that DO those three things, like my friend Mr. Josh Morningstar who recently garnered a cut with powerhouse act Mr. Cody Jinks. He further proved that the craft is still somewhat prevalent, as he nightly performs the song Mr. Whitey wrote with Mr. Lefty Frizzell called “I Never Go Around Mirrors”. Another fine example of a still active songwriter would be my friend Mr. Billy Don Burns, who still garners cuts from younger artists like Mr. Colter Wall.

He was born October 24th 1934 in Whitney Texas, and began playing in school bands before playing with national acts at a later age like Mr. Willie Nelson. In 1967, he moved here to write songs and signed with Blue Crest Music Publishing Company. Working there he wrote two cuts for Mr. George Jones called “I’m A new Man In Town” on the album called “My Country”, and he wrote “Between My House And Town” on the album “if my Heart Had Windows”. His first major cut was in 1969 by Mr. Charlie Walker, and the song was called ‘Rosie Bokay”

He did sign contracts with RCA to be promoted as a solo singer and released two albums called “I Never Go Around Mirrors” and also ‘So Good For So long”. However, commercially he achieved more success as a songwriter gathering many number one hits for Mr. Moe Bandy and Mr. Johnny Russell, as he wrote “The Baptism Of Jesse Taylor and “Bandy The Rodeo Clown” in 1975. Mr. Whitey was extremely instrumental in the continued success of Mr Moe Bandy having penned more than two dozen songs for him.

He had a longstanding friendship with the Frizzell family, having penned mnay songs with Mr. Lefty like ‘That’s The Way Love Goes” for Mr. Merle Haggard. Mr. Corey Frizzell named his son Ryman Shafer Frizzell after him, and if you see the little man around town your heart will melt as you see him. VERY adorable lad that plays a guitar with everyone. Just recently my friend Mr. Corey stopped by my inbox to send me this quote:

Everyone knows the talent of Whitey Shafer, or undoubtedly heard it. He was best friends with uncle Lefty Frizzell the last six years of his life, helping to revive his career and passion to write again. Ironically we became very close the last six years of his. He would always say, “I’ve got me another Frizzell”. I loved him. My wife and I made him the Godfather to our three year old son, Ryman Shafer Frizzell, whom bears his namesake. Whitey and Tracy came to the hospital when Ryman was born. I asked Whitey if he wanted to hold him. He said in Whitey style, “I didn’t even hold my own son”. But he went on and held Ryman anyway. He was honored we used Shafer as Ryman’s middle name. He said, “I’ve never had an offspring named after me”, we just laughed. We will miss him and carry his memory with us…Ryman will carry it further.

After Mr Lefty passed away Mr. Whitey wrote the song called “Lefty’s Gone” cut by Mr. George Strait on the 1985 album “Something Special”. Mr. George Strait took many more of his songs to the Country charts in the 1980’s, two of the most popular ones were “Does Forth Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” from the album of the same name, and “All My Exes live in Texas” off the “Ocean Front Property” album. In 1989, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame”. Four songs from that particular Strait album were written by him.

In the 90’s and on he amassed over 500 recordings by Mr. John Michael Montgomery, Miss LeAnn Womack, and Mr. Kenny Chesney. One of my favorite songs he wrote was recorded by Johnny Bush, and was called “Rainbow In My Daddy’s Eyes”.