Book Review – Red Dirt by Josh Crutchmer

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Sep 222020
 

By Joshua Wallace

I have been a fan of the Red Dirt scene ever since I discovered the vast world of independent country that exists beyond the mainstream.  I started picking up on some of these bands around 2008 with acts like Jason Boland and The Stragglers and Cross Canadian Ragweed being my introduction to the music.  However, being from south GA, I had no direct connection to these bands like someone who lived there did.  That’s where this book comes in for me.  It helps me fill in some missing pieces of the story and gives me a bit of the history that I didn’t know or couldn’t know without actually being there.  Josh Crutchmer might be the print planning editor at The New York Times, but his background is firmly planted in Oklahoma and the red dirt scene.  He interviewed everyone quoted in this book and he has gathered a fine collection of characters to tell this story.  It’s a good history for newcomers and established fans alike.

The book is divided mostly into chapters by band.  You have essentials like Tom Skinner, Bob Childers, Jimmy LaFave and even Garth Brooks and his stories about starting out in dives in Oklahoma.  I love the chapters that provide a bit of history too.  You get a great deal about The Farm which was a legendary Stillwater, OK venue that is heralded as the birthplace of Red Dirt.  There are also chapters about early bands such as The Red Dirt Rangers and The Great Divide.  You get a great deal of background on the red dirt scene before you start getting into more current artists.

The chapters on current artists are great also because these chapters tell stories and give background pieces on them that you might not have gotten elsewhere.  I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Hold My Beer with Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen where you get a bit about both of the men and then they discuss their collaboration which to date has produced two of my favorite recent red dirt releases.  Then you have the great chapter on Jamie Lin Wilson followed by a good discussion of the gender gap in Red Dirt which features a few of the current great female artists in the scene.

I can’t talk about this book without discussing the chapter on Turnpike Troubadours and specifically Evan Felker.  The coverage in Rolling Stone that discussed Crutchmer’s interviews with Felker is quite possibly the reason many people know about this book.  It’s how I heard of it, for sure.  If you read that article and are looking forward to this bit in the book, I’m here to say it delivers.  I’m not going to give many spoilers in this review, but I do want to say this chapter ends on a positive note which is great news for Turnpike fans.

There is so much discussed in this book that it’s hard to put it in an article like this.  I highly recommend this book if you’re looking to do a deep dive into the history and current state of the Red Dirt music scene.  The author does at times mention the current pandemic and how it has changed things since he started writing the book.  It’s refreshing to see the author acknowledge the current uncertainty of things going forward in a book of this nature.  I also highly recommend this book if, like me, you are an outsider to the red dirt scene.  I have naturally become a fan of this music over the years, but with red dirt being such a self contained scene, it’s hard to get the full story just being on the outside looking in like I am.  You can find everything you need to about this book on reddirtbook.com and the book is available everywhere as of September 19th, 2020.

Album Feature – Matt Woods – Mornings After EP

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Sep 152020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Matt Woods has released the new Mornings After EP.  This record is a companion piece to his 2019 album Natural Disasters.  You can find a review for that one here.  This EP was recorded during the same sessions as the 2019 album and with the same band.  This companion piece helps to add depth to an already great album experience.  Let’s take a look at some of the tracks here.

The album kicks off with “Tomorrow’s All We Have” which is a slower bluesy rock kind of tune.  I love the keys on this track and the guitar solo takes you back to a small smoky dive bar.  This also has one of Matt’s signature power vocal performances similar to his song “Deadman’s Blues”.  I also love the track “Getaway”.  It has a bit of an island rock sound on a track about the need to get away from your normal life.  I love the slide guitar on this one.  Finally, “Sunshine” is another slow bluesy track on this record.  Like the opening track, it has another great vocal performance from Woods.  I dig the guitar riffs going throughout this one.

Matt Woods has released a great companion EP to his 2019 full length album Natural Disasters.  If you were a fan of Natural Disasters or his previous work, I highly recommend checking this release out.  There are some great vocal performances on these songs for these to be tracks that were left off an album.  I kind of wish we could get a deluxe package with both Natural Disasters and Mornings After in the same release as these tracks add some depth to the original LP.  Check out everything Matt Woods has going on through his website here.  Mornings After is available everywhere as of September 4th, 2020.  

Favorite Tracks : Tomorrow’s All We Have, Getaway, Sunshine

Matt Woods – Mornings After EP (2020)

  1. Tomorrow’s All We Have
  2. Take It Slow
  3. Getaway
  4. Sunshine
  5. California Shakes

Album Feature – Tennessee Jet – The Country

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Sep 092020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Tennessee Jet is back with his follow up to his 2017 album Reata.  The Country is Jet’s third full length LP and it is my favorite of the albums he has released so far.  Tennessee Jet recorded this record in California with Dwight Yoakam’s touring band.  It also features the likes of Paul Cauthen, Elizabeth Cook, Cody Jinks and Mickey Raphael on this record.  Let’s take a dive into some of the tracks on this one.

The opening track “Stray Dogs” reminds me a bit of “The Road Goes On Forever” by Robert Earl Keen but in a good way where this song echoes the style and feel of that classic tune.  “The Raven And The Dove” is Tennessee Jet’s version of the tune he wrote that Cody Jinks recorded on his 2019 album The Wanting.  This version is more somber than Jinks version of the tune and the pedal steel and guitar get to shine more in the instrumental here.  An absolute highlight of the track is the grungy “Johnny” which is a tribute to Johnny Horton as the song covers the topic of his death.  It plays like a grungy classic Nirvana tune and somehow it just fits right in the middle of this record of solid country gold.

Following that is Tennessee Jet’s version of “Pancho & Lefty” which features Cody Jinks, Elizabeth Cook and Paul Cauthen.  This song has been done many times, but there is something about this tale of outlaws that always draws me in.  This one is no different.  Another highlight is the title track “The Country”.  It’s a slow moving ballad that features guitar and fiddle but it has my favorite line of the entire album.  I love the slow build to the line “I miss you like the country radio don’t play no more”.  It’s a tune that has to be heard to be fully appreciated.

Tennessee Jet has released what is in my opinion the best record of his career.  The Country has some good variety in the record throughout from solid country gold to folk leaning rootsy tracks to a grungy rock epic about a country legend.  You will find a bit of everything here.  I hope to catch Tennessee Jet live sometime in the near future as I have not been able to see him live yet.  You can follow Tennessee Jet on his website.  The Country was released everywhere you can find music as of September 4th, 2020. 

Favorite Tracks : The Raven And The Dove, Johnny, Pancho & Lefty, Hands On You, The Country, She Talks To Angels

Tennessee Jet – The Country (2020)

  1. Stray Dogs
  2. The Raven And The Dove
  3. Johnny
  4. Pancho & Lefty
  5. Off To War
  6. Hands On You
  7. Someone To You
  8. The Country
  9. She Talks To Angels
  10. Sparklin’ Burnin’ Fuse’

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Celebrates with Live Online Shows Next Weekend

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Sep 062020
 

Many times when I am given press releases from music functions, I always try my best to include some of my own thoughts and ideas on them. So, let me elaborate on how I feel about the Bristol area, and how integral it is to Country Music…

In the early 1920’s and well into the 1930’s, Mr. Ralph Peer unintentionally became one of the first producers of Country Music. He brought remote recording equipment to Bristol upon the suggestion of others, and advertised that he was seeking talent.

In a short time, many flooded the Bristol area in hopes to be paid to record their songs. The three Carter family members piled into their brother’s car and traveled 26 miles to the recording sessions, which ( included with others ) is regarded as the Bristol Sessions.

Among the others that were recorded and discovered back then was none other than Mr. Jimmie Rodgers, whom I consider one of the  first 4 major superstars of Country Music on a commercial echelon.

Through the years the area has established a wonderful museum that opened in 2014 along with an even better festival that was born earlier in 2001, and has been a part of the museum since 2012.

Together, both music ventures juxtaposed together boasts an absolutely amazing effect upon the economy of the immediate area, and one of the 275 festivals that our website covers on a yearly basis, even though I have not been to this one in some time.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Celebrates with
Live Online Shows Next Weekend
Sept. 10-13, 2020

Bristol, Va./Tenn. (Sept. 2, 2020) – With the cancellation of this year’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion came the promise of a few “surprises” on what would have been festival weekend – and the Birthplace of Country Music (BCM, parent nonprofit of the annual event) is making good on it.

Celebrating Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Live Stream will take place September 10-13, 2020 with virtual, live concert events that include Jim Lauderdale, Acoustic Syndicate, Amythyst Kiah, Morgan Wade, and Martha Spencer, a WBCM Radio Bristol Farm and Fun Time show, flashback performances from festivals past, and the Bristol Sessions Super Raffle drawing.

“It’s important for us to do something to commemorate the Festival this year even if it can’t be in person,” said BCM Executive Director Leah Ross. “This would have been our 20th anniversary, a milestone. We can’t let that go. We also felt that our community and our staff really needed something positive to help fill that void.”

The schedule for Celebrating Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Live Stream is as follows:

Thursday, September 10 – 7:00 p.m.
Kick off the weekend with a Farm and Fun Time show from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, featuring host band Bill & The Belles – artists to include Po’ Ramblin’ Boys and 49 Winchester.Farm and Fun Time is presented by Eastman Credit Union and with support from Holston Medical Group

Friday, September 11 – 7:00 p.m.
Join us Friday night as we partner with the Virginia Tourism Corporation to celebrate Virginia Music Heritage Month. This show will feature music from Amythyst Kiah, Morgan Wade, and Martha Spencer. The night will be filled with live music, announcements about the 2021 Festival line-up, and more!

Friday evening is presented by Virginia is for Lovers and
Holston Medical Group

Saturday, September 12 – 1:00 p.m.
Festival Flashbacks – Join us on Saturday afternoon to watch some past Festival performances. Past shows will include Carson Peters & Iron Mountain, The War and Treaty, Mike Farris, Folk Soul Revival, Jerry Douglas and the Earls of Leicester, and the Way Down Wanderers.The Festival Flashback is presented by Bristol Tennessee Essential Services.
Saturday, September 12 – 7:00 p.m.

Kick off Saturday night with two live performances with Acoustic Syndicate and Jim Lauderdale. We will also celebrate the incredible support we have received from our 2020 Festival Heroes, Downtown Bristol community, and our sponsors. We’ll even reveal additional artists that will be playing at the 2021 festival.

Saturday evening is presented by Holston Medical Group

Sunday, September 13 – 12:00 p.m.
Join us for the Bristol Sessions Super Raffle Drawing as we give away $250,000 in prizes.
To view the Live Stream tune into the following links:

In addition to the live stream, BCM will wrap up the 2020 Festival Hero Campaign. Festival Heroes are patrons who donate $75 or more to the Festival Recovery Fund to help recoup losses from this year’s cancelled event. Donors will be listed as 2020 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Heroes on a permanent display in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, receive a Special Edition 20th anniversary poster signed by the artist, a discount on tickets for 2021, and more. Donations of over $250 will receive all of the above, plus a one-year membership to the organization’s 1927 Society, and other festival merchandise. All donations are tax-deductible, and 2020 tickets may be “donated” back to BCM to receive incentives. Visit BristolRhythmHero.com for more details.

The 20th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival has been rescheduled for September 10-12, 2021 in Historic Downtown Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee.

For up-to-date information and to choose the Bristol Rhythm ticket option that works best for you, visit BristolRhythm.com.

About Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia is heralded as the birthplace of country music, home to the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings. The award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is a celebration of that great legacy and is renowned for its diverse headliners, established touring acts, up-and-coming artists, and some of the Appalachian region’s finest music across a wide variety of roots genres. It is also noted for its unique downtown setting along State Street, where Virginia and Tennessee meet to form the twin cities of Bristol. Bristol Rhythm forged the path to a renaissance of music, culture, and development in Historic Downtown – and was the catalyst for the opening of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and WBCM Radio Bristol, which broadcasts live from the museum. The festival hosts an estimated 45,000 attendees across 20 outdoor stages and indoor venues with more than 130 acts of live music over the course of the three-day weekend. For more information about Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, visit BristolRhythm.com.About the Birthplace of Country Music 
Located in Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee, the Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) is the parent nonprofit organization of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, and Radio Bristol. It is the mission of BCM to perpetuate, promote, and celebrate Bristol’s rich music heritage; to educate and engage audiences worldwide regarding the history, impact, and legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions; and to create recognition, opportunities, and economic benefit for BCM’s local and regional communities. BCM accomplishes this mission through each of its primary branches (museum, festival, and radio station), special projects and events, and a multitude of community and educational outreach programs.

 

 

 

Music City Roots To Return With New Venue In Madison Tennessee.

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Sep 052020
 

Lately this year, since the current health situation has totally devastated the current live music world, I have been closely watching many of the venues that have supposed to have opened in 2020. Right around now in 2020, this was supposed to be opening to the public, so I will be delving into this issue!

I myself have always been an ardent supporter of Music City Roots since I first found them in 2013 at theLoveless Cafe. They then moved the show to the Factory in Franklin Tennessee, 6 years ago. Much like the Opry, this music outlet features four primary artists on each show.

They left Franklin Tennessee in 2018, and have hosted many special shows around Nashville for the next few years. Places like The Nashville Palace and others have all welcomed the iconic broadcast into their halls. However in that same year, their plans to move the show to Nashville fell through:

In a message to their followers on Facebook they stated, “With a mix of hope and some sadness, we must announce to you, our family and community, that in recent days our previously announced plans for a downtown Nashville venue partnership have fallen through. We deeply appreciate the team behind the new 6th & Peabody project working hard to finalize a win-win situation with us, but unforeseen complexities have made it impossible to present MCR there as we’d hoped.”

I’ll tell you this my dear friends…without Music City Roots, I would have never found MANY of the wonderful artists I am reporting on at this time! The very first episode I ever found was on December 11th 2013, and contained Mr. Jim Lauderdale and the now much more evolved North Mississippi Allstars.

Through the years, everybody who is anybody within the confines of Country Music and all of it’s branches, thusly the name of this program. Americana and Bluegrass both sprouted performers from this program, and prompting different artists to cross over onto other genres stages as a result of these events.

MCR-Logo-Wht2.png
Back in July of this year, they announced that they were going to be moving the event to Madison Tennessee to a brand newly built venue, and a new weekly show that will also be taped.  Here is the official press release :

Music City Roots LIVE from Madison Station

Madison, TN Is The New Home of The Roots Barn

Music City Roots, the acclaimed, taste-making live showcase, radio broadcast and public television series, is reviving and rebooting in the fast-growing cultural scene of Madison, TN.

On July 11, the Music City Roots team joined Nashville Mayor David Briley, Madison’s Metro City Councilmember Nancy VanReece and other community leaders to reveal plans for a new venue next to historic Amqui Station. The Roots Barn, scheduled for a grand opening in the Fall of 2020, will be part of a larger Madison Station development, with new housing and street plans poised to solidify Madison as an epicenter of life, work, arts and travel in the growing Metro Nashville area.

The Roots Barn will be one of the premiere mid-sized music venues in the South, with state of the art audio by Sound Image and a timber and barn wood interior inspired by The Barns at Wolftrap. Capacity is projected as 750 seated or 1,000+ standing. The bars, food service and ticketing areas will be isolated from the music hall, creating optimal conditions for performers and music lovers alike.

The Barn will present ticketed shows, private events on request and “Music City Roots – Live from Madison Station” on a weekly basis. Adjacent to the barn will be a separate building with a remote studio for MCR partner WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 FM, the 100,000 watt Americana-format public radio station out of Middle Tennessee State University.

Historic Amqui Station makes a charming and appropriate companion to the Roots Barn. Built in 1910, it was the last stop north of Nashville before passenger trains reached Union Station downtown. When passenger service was discontinued, Johnny Cash acquired the structure to save it from demolition and moved it to his property in Hendersonville. After his death, it emerged that Johnny had made provisions to return the antique station and its contents to its original home. It stands there now, not far from its once-functional place along the tracks. It is now a stand-alone museum and visitors welcome center, operated by Discover Madison, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. The potential synergies for local or city-wide events are many.

The Roots Barn was made possible through a transaction between Music City Roots and Discover Madison, Inc. The property is part of a public/private relationship giving community benefit for generations to come, explained Councilmember VanReece. “The land was originally donated to Discover Madison, Inc. by AT&T with the help of US Rep. Jim Cooper and TN Rep. Bill Beck, with the express intent for such an ongoing benefit. This amazing opportunity not only celebrates our history but ensures our renaissance.”

Ample parking for Roots Barn events has been made possible through a partnership with FiftyForward, the premier provider of innovative and comprehensive services for adults 50+ in Middle Tennessee, which one of its seven locations next door.

Madison has become one of the most exciting growth neighborhoods in Nashville as it builds on its rich history in music. Madison has been the home to an array of country and bluegrass music notables, including Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright, John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, June Carter and Hank Snow.

Quotes from Key Partners

“I’m really excited about Music City Roots getting started on this Madison music venue and the opportunity for WMOT to be a part of it. WMOT and Music City Roots have worked together for nearly three years to bring Americana and Roots music to middle Tennessee on WMOT 89.5. This new space will allow that partnership to continue to grow and expand, while growing our music community in Madison, middle Tennessee and beyond.”

– Val Hoeppner, Executive Director, WMOT 89.5 FM

“Music City Roots focus on preserving grass-roots music and Discover Madison Inc.’s mission to protect and preserve Madison, TN’s rich music history go hand in hand. We are excited to create a space in which, our neighbors and friends, as well as future generations, will experience the music culture that Madison has to offer.”

– Christie Cooper, Executive Director, Discover Madison, Inc.

“We are happy to have a new next-door neighbor like Music City Roots! FiftyForward has always worked to partner with other organizations, and this is such a great opportunity for all of us. Many FiftyForward Madison Station members are part of the rich music history of Madison, so we’re eager to welcome Music City Roots and be part of the fun.”

– Sallie Hussey, Executive Director of FiftyForward.

“One of the areas of improvement we are excited to see in Madison is entertainment options. We want Madison to be a well-rounded area where its residents can live, work, and play. MCR will be an exciting and notable addition, especially considering its unique location next to Historic Amqui Station and Madison’s rich musical history. We are so excited that All Aboard Madison has chosen to bring Music City Roots here, and we cannot wait to see the attention and tourism it adds to Madison.”

– Laura Knots Jennings, Madison Rivergate Chamber of Commerce

“Roots music doesn’t belong surrounded by neon, it belongs surrounded by barn wood”….Does that not give you goosebumps? Everybody in the music community was overly eager to welcome this NEW VENUE and NEW format to drop upon us.

But then came the ugly monster…do I even need to mention the name? 2020 dumped the nasty Covid-19 pandemic bullshit upon the entire music industry, which halted all progress and plans to the nation.

Online EVERYTHING went rampant and culminated into EVERY band and EVERY artist doing live streams on not only social media but Youtube and more. In April the Music City Roots program hosted an online program, which I have embedded here.

So with that being said, I have been watching the progress of the venue and the plans of the battle with the pandemic, I have some news regarding this weekly event. According to a website I frequently read called Visit Music City this is now the current plans for the construction completion and opening of this venue.

"Music City Roots" will build a new venue at historic Amqui Station in Madison, Tennessee. The Roots Barn is set to open in the fall of 2020.

Opening Spring 2021, The Roots Barn will be the permanent home of Music City Roots, the legendary live radio show and concert series. Now in its 10th year, MCR will be featured alongside curated shows and Roots Radio, plus space will be available for private events any time of day, any day of the week. We welcome corporate & tour groups, fundraising events, weddings, and webcasts/TV productions. Turnkey services, world-class sound & lighting, and genuine Southern hospitality.

It doesn’t appear that any live music will ever transpire until mid year in 2021, however they haven’t mentioned any further live streams or online events to continue the show for 2020.

When this venue DOES officially launch we will be doing some media reporting on the launch event here. So my dear friends please stay tuned to this article for some updates, and other announcements to patronize this fine organization.