EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN – December 16, 2020 – Blue Ox Music Festival is pleased to announce its artist lineup, for the 7th annual Blue Ox Music Festival, to be held August 19, 20 and 21, 2021. Blue Ox Music Festival welcomes back the annual summer pilgrimage of Bluegrass, Americana, and Roots artists, and their devoted music festival fans; returning to the tall pines and hardwoods of northern Wisconsin.Moving into a new year Whispering Pines Campground has been re-branded as The Pines Music Park, reflecting a re-newed focus as a music venue that will host a variety of concerts throughout the summer.
With the same team in place, artists and attendees can expect the same level of passionate commitment to the music and camping experience that has earned loyalty and a reputation for quality over the past seven years.This year, Blue Ox honors a fine lineup of performances by heavy hitters – Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Shakey Graves, Sam Bush Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Charlie Parr, Molly Tuttle, Lissie, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Charley Crockett, The Lil Smokies, Kitchen Dwellers, Henhouse Prowlers with Tony Trischka, Lillie Mae, Them Coulee Boys, Sunny War, Julian Davis & The Situation, Nora Brown, Jon Stickley Trio, Arkansauce, Armchair Boogie, Kind Country, One Way Traffic, Short Round String Band, Feed The Dog, Intuitive Compass, Barbaro, and The High 48s. With Pert Near Sandstone hostingthe Blue Ox Music Festival for the seventh year, in addition to performing for two nights.
The return of the full Blue Ox Music Festival in 2021 will be one of historical celebration after a year of uncertainty and waiting, which has all but shuttered the live music industry. Artists, management, crews and venues alike, have all been affected by the COVID pandemic. Yet resilience, creativity and hope, have held the torch high as we discovered ways to stay united through live streaming performance concerts, and an abundance of exciting new music and collaboration.
Since its premiere in the summer of 2015, Blue Ox Music Festival has consistently brought together a lineup of top level regional and national acts that have set the stage and standard of artists for the true music festival fan’s experience for
years to come. With the vision of an intimate music and camping experience focused on Bluegrass, Americana Roots genres – the 3-day festival creates a unique experience with an impressive lineup of notable artists, in a familial and
beautiful outdoor venue setting.
New this year, in addition to the traditional Blue Ox late night sets – The Backwoods Stage will feature regional and emerging artists from 11:30AM to 6:30PM on Friday, August 20 and Saturday, August 21.
Performances for the 2021 Blue Ox Music Festival Backwoods Stage include – Miles Over Mountains, Good Morning Bedlam, The Thirsty River, Dig Deep, Never Come Down, Pit Wagon, Katey Bellville, Gabe Barnett, and Doug Otto and The Getaways.
This past year in 2020, Blue Ox Music Festival, and the Campout in the Pines summer series were dedicated to step forward bringing the artists and music fans unique experiences to watch live performance safely. The socially conscious
solidarity of the shows and live streams kept many loyal fans sane and connected to each other.
The music lives on in the loyal hearts of festival fans, and Blue Ox feels optimistic that it will be safe to come together with our festival family again in August; always following safety and health guidelines that are approved by the regional health authorities and well organized for all attendees of the festival.
The 2021 Blue Ox Music Festival will be a limited capacity event, and due to rollovers from 2020, tickets are currently 50% sold out. Fans are encouraged to buy their tickets soon in order to take advantage of the best prices available to
date. Please join Blue Ox Music Festival on August 19, 20, 21, 2021 – for three days of phenomenal music and camping in a family friendly, intimate atmosphere.
Fans can stay tuned for updates about the 2021 Blue Ox Music Festival and The Pines Music Park, by subscribing to the newsletters at www.blueoxmusicfestival.com and www.pinesmusicpark.com.
Blue Ox and The Pines Music Park look forward to the new year of music and live performance! As artists and ambassadors for the festival – members of Pert Near Sandstone, Nate Sipe and Justin Bruhn, produce and host the popular, Road to Blue Ox Podcast. In each episode, Bruhn and Sipe interview performing artists on the lineup, as well as highlighting key information and updates about the festival.
Nate and Justin are currently in the studio working on the 2021 season of the Road to Blue Ox Podcast.
The new episodes will include music premieres and exclusive interviews, news about the Blue Ox Music Festival, and some other surprises along the way. Tune in for new Road to Blue Ox Podcast episodes on Apple iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher and Pocket Casts.
Follow along on Spotify and be notified as soon as a new episode is released. Stay tuned for upcoming monthly installments of the Road to Blue Ox Podcast, featuring Bluegrass, Americana, and Roots, legends as well as new artists on the scene.
About Blue Ox Music Festival– Blue Ox creates and fosters a wonderful sense of artistic community and has become a cornerstone of the cultural renaissance movement in the Eau Claire area. Blue Ox Music Festival at The Pines Music
Park boasts 155 acres of pristine forest, walkable trails and green landscaped lawn with music presented on three distinct stages, (Main Stage, Saloon Stage, Backwoods Stage).
As a family friendly environment, diverse cultural events take place throughout the festival grounds, including music workshops, morning yoga, eclectic craft vendors, dance performance, kids activity stages as well as a disc golf course.
The variety of quality food and beverages offers something delicious for everyone to enjoy. All ages are welcome Children 13 and under are free with a paid adult.
General Admission Tickets are available for purchase, which gives you access to all entertainment and Unreserved Tent Camping. Car Camping Passes are available, for guests who prefer their car on the camp site next to their tent.
Reserved RV / Tent sites are also available for purchase. Camping accommodations include spaces for RVs, Family and Quiet Camping, and for those who wish to just arrive at the festival, enjoy and lay their heads – there are comfortable
“glamping” options for purchase.
Curtis Grimes Scores Double Win at the 2020 Texas Country Music Awards
Brand New Acoustic EP Drops December 11th
Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts critically-acclaimed new album ‘Nowhere To Go But Everywhere’ (Wicked Cool Records) is making waves across the pond.
In its debut week, the album landed on multiple UK charts including #7 Indie Album Breakers, #10 Record Store, #22 Independent Albums, and #82 Overall Albums, capping off a career-best for the band, a transatlantic collaboration, with frontman Ryan Hamilton hailing from just outside of Fort Worth, TX, while his backing band The Harlequin Ghosts are based in the U.K.
The LP has also generated high praise on social media from the likes of Frank Turner, Clem Burke, Drew Carey, Benmont Tench and Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets and more.
The follow up to 2019’s ‘This Is The Sound’ (which won an Independent Music Award for ‘Best Indie Album’), ‘Nowhere To Go But Everywhere’ was written by Ryan during a long road trip across the USA with his dog Peaches, while coming to terms with his recent divorce. He filmed the trek, which resulted in ‘Communique’– an inspiring and deeply personal 7 part mini-documentary, which premiered on Glide Magazine.
And now, the songs of Nowhere To Go But Everywhere in Ryan’s own words…
Only A Dream
You know when you’re a kid, and you have a really bad dream, then you wake up and have the relief of, “it was only a dream.” This song is a grown-up version of that. Unfortunately when it comes to things like divorce, you can’t wish it away…or wake up. This song is about hoping something isn’t really happening, then dealing with the harsh realization that it is.
Super proud of the concept of this song. Flipping all those classic songs on their heads. Plus, I got to sing it with my friend Kay Hanley.
Jesus & John Lennon
Do you ever feel like, no matter what, some things are destined to fall apart? No matter what you do, the end result is the same. This song is about that, and I was thrilled to take the concept, and the song, to the next level, by having the opportunity to co-write it with Stevie Van Zandt.
Out Of My League
This is a song idea that was almost 10 years old. I found the old demo, and it rang true, considering what I was going through. So, I revisited the song, and reworked it into the version that it is now.
Let’s Go Slow
Dating after divorce is terrifying to me. This song is about the fear of dating again, after a relationship ends. There’s SO MUCH to navigate in today’s dating world. I wish things were simpler.
Can I Get An Amen
I was raised in church. We went two times a week to a very conservative Church of Christ. The struggle finding happiness, without all the guilt, is something I still deal with. Drugs, alcohol, sex…these very un-“Christian” things are all a part of my life. Not in a dangerous way. I’m a responsible adult. But sometimes, because it’s engrained in me, I feel like I’m going to Hell.
Don’t Fall Apart
This song is really a pep talk to myself. Sometimes, when things are especially difficult, all you want to do is give up. But you can’t. It’s important to keep it together for your family, and friends…but you have to get to a point where you LOVE YOURSELF enough to want to keep going.
I didn’t even know what a “Geordie” was until I met my ex-wife. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by Geordie women. I love their whole bad-ass attitude. Zero tolerance for bullshit. A tough exterior, but a big heart. Throwing some Geordie slang into the chorus of a new song is something I never thought this Texas boy would do. Haha.
Possibly my all time favorite Tom Petty song. I was so excited to put this song on the album, and I’m super proud of the version we created. It feels special. I think Tom would like it.
We Gave It Hell
When a relationship ends, you have a choice. You can let it consume you, or you can find a more positive way through it. I think it’s important to realize that sometimes, even though we give it hell, and do our best…it just isn’t going to work out. So, you say goodbye, wish the person well, pick up the pieces, and move on.
Pick Yourself Up
What’s the saying? Every end is a brand new beginning. I got that quote a little wrong, but you get the gist. Having the realization that a marriage ending is only a short chapter, in the book of life, was a BIG moment for me. I’m determined to make the rest of my story a good one.
About Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts
The open road has beckoned to generations of artists, writers, and seekers of authentic experience. For acclaimed singer/songwriter Ryan Hamilton, jumping into a minivan with his pup Peaches and driving from home near Fort Worth, Texas through the Southwest out to California last fall was not just catharsis, it was an unexpected impetus to create ‘Nowhere To Go But Everywhere,’ his formidable new album with The Harlequin Ghosts.
“I actually own Jack Kerouac’s belt,” Ryan reveals, referencing the legendary 1950s beat poet whose classic work ‘On The Road’ provides the album’s title. “I got it from the folks who handle his estate. It’s a cherished possession. The belt is actually pictured on the back of the new album art. Kerouac is a hero, and because of the way this album was written, his spirit is all over it.”
Hamilton made sure to drive along Route 66, the fabled American highway immortalized in song by Nat King Cole and The Rolling Stones. “While it was magical to take that storied route, it was more like driving through a graveyard version of what once was. Though ominous, it was still darkly beautiful.”
Those weeks adventuring out west gave Ryan time to reflect in the wake of his recent divorce.
Releasing September 18 on Wicked Cool Records, ‘Nowhere…’ follows quickly on the heels of the band’s 2019 label debut ‘This Is The Sound,’ which won Album of the Year at the Independent Music Awards and was praised as “masterful” (RPM) and “spectacular” (Adam Duritz of Counting Crows). Both the title cut and “Mamacita” were playlisted on more than 100 U.K. radio stations and heard throughout Europe and the Americas on syndicated radio.
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented Hamilton from accepting the IMA in New York, but he channeled his early quarantine energy into the recording of the ‘Incommunicado’ EP, which hit #1 on the iTunes Country Albums chart in the U.K. Proceeds from the sale of the EP were donated to the Music Venue Trust’s “Save Our Venues” campaign, a cause he’s passionate about from years of dedicated touring in the U.K., where the rest of his band is based.
Live highlights of the ‘This Is The Sound’ campaign included shows with The Alarm in the U.K. plus their Gathering festival in Wales and New York City, a U.S. tour with Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, and featured NYC appearances at Duritz’s Underwater Sunshine fest as well as opening for Jesse Malin and guest Lucinda Williams on a live SiriusXM broadcast.
Wicked Cool honcho Stevie “Little Steven” Van Zandt has long championed Ryan’s talents. “The best advice he ever gave me was, ‘Get away from yourself,” Ryan shares. “But really, the songs are still coming from personal experience.”
Many of the ten new tunes – the album also includes a heartfelt cover of Tom Petty’s “Southern Accents” – were written on a guitar Ryan found on the road trip, at Norman’s Rare Guitars in the San Fernando Valley. “Norm and I got to talkin’, and before I knew it, I was leaving with a vintage Martin acoustic. That guitar feels like my child.”
Most of the album was recorded with producer Dave Draper just days before the pandemic hit, during a February 2020 U.K. tour. The rhythm section of Mickey Richards (drums) and Rob Lane (bass) return, while featured guests include Mike Peters of The Alarm (backing vocals on “Jesus & John Lennon”) and Kay Hanley of Letters To Cleo (vocals on “Oh No”).
The anthemic “Can I Get An Amen,” released as a single in January, and new single “Jesus & John Lennon” were both co-written with Van Zandt. “Oh No” builds its upbeat narrative through referencing Ryan’s own favorite classic records, from Nirvana and Oasis to Curtis Mayfield and The Clash, and “flipping them on their heads,” he says.
“Newcastle Charm” speaks to Ryan’s special connection with the North East English city where he’s played countless shows and also met his ex-wife. “Women from Newcastle have this really tough exterior. I like the idea of breaking through that and finding a big heart.”
After cutting his teeth with the bands Smile Smile and People On Vacation, the 2016 single “Fuck You Brain,” with Ginger Wildheart was named Track of the Week by Classic Rock Magazine. The album ‘Devil’s In The Detail’ as Ryan Hamilton and The Traitors caught Stevie’s ear in 2017, after which the backing band became known as The Harlequin Ghosts. RH and The HG’s are now very familiar to satellite radio listeners thanks to heavy rotation of numerous tracks.
The latest Wicked Cool release distributed by The Orchard, ‘Nowhere To Go But Everywhere’ is a top marketing priority for the label, whose 2020 slate also includes new music from Jesse Malin, WYLDLIFE, The Empty Hearts, Kurt Baker and Jessie Wagner.
If there is one piece of his life that singer-songwriter Josh Kelley is more than comfortable displaying, it’s how he feels about his family. The central line running through My Baby & The Band, out today, is the contentment he’s found in his life with his wife and three kids. Kelley paints a picture of a man who has found his place nestled deep into the small mountain town they call home, along with everything that entails: the simple, extraordinary moments, the disagreements, the makeups, and a deep love for one another. It’s wrapped in sonic packaging that’s true to who Kelley is, clear in its reverence for a great voice and song but unafraid to experiment with new textures surrounding it.
The album’s most recent release, “Hold Me My Lord,” exists thanks to some divine intervention. Originally written while searching for a thread of hope for himself, Kelley realized the world overall could use some of the same, resulting in the powerful video released two weeks ago. Co-produced by Grammy, Emmy and Dove award-winner Shannon Sanders, the track includes the addition of the remotely-recorded 30-member All Voices choir.
My Baby & The Band traces Kelley’s and his family’s story, a scenic walk through the evolution of a relationship, family, and growth. Kelley solidifies himself as a talented vocalist and lyricist while tapping into the details of everyday life: watching his kids develop their own personalities and continuing to find new reasons to love his wife after 15 years together.
“We Don’t Need The Money” offers a good bit of groove; “Back To You” begs for a sing-along, and “If That’s Alright” continues the theme. “You Can Count On Me,” with background vocals from his kids, takes its sonic inspiration from Bill Withers and Shuggie Otis, written with Alen Chang. “I Want You Tonight” and “Loves You Like Me” are straight-up love songs.
“You And I,” written with Nashville songwriter Dustin Christensen, slows things down with an ode to an all-consuming kind of love. Kelley also wrote the album’s title track with Christensen, all about sitting back with the one you love and listening to timeless music, in this case, specifically The Band.
My Baby & The Band follows the release of “Love Her Boy,” a clever, smooth and soulful number employing wordplay, and “Busy Making Memories,” a deeply personal excerpt, written on New Year’s Day while watching his kids play. Kelley and his wife, Katherine Heigl, collaborated on the video, featuring treasured memories and adventures on their ranch. Kelley produced and engineered the single himself; and in fact, creates most of his music in a barn that he’s converted into a studio.
Kelley released his solo debut, Changing Faces, while attending the University of Mississippi, and subsequently signed a record deal with Hollywood Records. His mainstream debut, For the Ride Home, found a Top Five single with “Amazing,” and his second album, Almost Honest, included the Top Ten single “Only You.” Kelley later released four independent albums, between 2006 and 2008; Georgia Clay was released in 2011 with MCA Nashville, and 2015’s New Lane Road with Sugar Hill Records. In 2017 he independently released an album of covers, titled Under the Covers, Vol. 1, and a holiday album, Christmas Traditions.
Kelley has appeared on “TODAY,” “Good Morning America,” “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Live with Regis & Kelly” and “Last Call with Carson Daly,” and his songs have been featured on such shows as “Smallville,” “Scrubs,” “Brothers and Sisters” and MTV’s “The Hills.” Kelley also wrote and performed the theme song for the TV sitcom “Mike and Molly,” scored the feature film Home Sweet Hell, and created the theme song for TV’s Golf Channel.
My Baby & The Band Track Listing:
1. We Don’t Need The Money
The central line running through Josh Kelley’s upcoming album, My Baby & The Band, set for Nov. 13 release, is his family. It’s fitting that the video for his gospel-soaked next single, “Hold Me My Lord,” was made with them in mind. The song was co-produced by Grammy, Emmy and Dove award-winner Shannon Sanders and includes the addition of the 30-member All Voices choir.
“I think in the instance of this song, my heart was calling for hope. I was trying to muddle through the dark nights of my soul and how I’ve managed to find my way again and again. When we started putting the video together for this song, we realized that this world has been suffering through a dark night of the soul. Despair, hurt, anger, violence, pain, suffering, disease and death have been the headlines every day for the last eight months,” Kelley said.
“I realized this song that came through me speaks to more than my own suffering. It speaks to humanity’s,” Kelley continued. “The video felt like an opportunity to unite us in our pain and in our hope. It felt like a way for me to make one small difference in this tumultuous time so I can look at my children, years from now, and tell them I did something. I didn’t just bury my head in the sand, or hide from the pain, or run from the fear. I did what I could do, and I did it for them.”
By Joshua Wallace
By all measures, 2020 was an insane year, however it was an amazing year for country music releases. I could have made a Top 100 list this year, but I stuck with tradition and did a Top 50. With that in mind, some of your favorites might be left off here. Don’t fret, they’re still good albums, it’s just that there were a ton of good releases this year. It seemed like every band was releasing their best work even when they weren’t able to fully tour on it. I could make a case for every record in my Top 10 to be my album of the year, however I went with American Aquarium’s Lamentations. Lamentations was my most anticipated album going into 2020 and it’s still my favorite album here in December. It’s no secret that American Aquarium is one of my favorite bands and when they release an album this good, it’s going to be hard to top. I’ll give my thoughts on each of the Top 20 and provide links to listen to the rest of the list. I encourage you to check out every record on this list as you might just find something new and that is my biggest goal in doing all of this.
**ALBUM OF THE YEAR** 01. American Aquarium – Lamentations **ALBUM OF THE YEAR**
When American Aquarium announced late 2019 that they were going into the studio with Shooter Jennings producing, I knew this album would be something special. I just didn’t know how special it would turn out to be. Songs like “The Long Haul”, “Starts With You”, “A Better South” and even the tear jerker “Six Years Come September” helped define my 2020. It is worth noting here that their last album which was 2018’s Things Change was my favorite record of that year too. I can only imagine that the next album they release will either top or come close to the top of this list in that year. This band is very consistent in that they keep getting better with every release. I can’t wait to hear what is next.
Chris Stapleton has quite possibly the best voice in modern country music. This album further solidifies that with performances like “Cold”, “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice”, “Watch You Burn” and more. This whole record is great top to bottom and it came very close to being my number one album of the year. It features Stapleton’s signature mix of rock, blues and country anchored by his amazing guitar playing throughout. This record features guests like former Heartbreaker Mike Campbell and the amazing pedal steel player Paul Franklin. I highly recommend giving this album a good listen as Chris Stapleton is 4 records in and only shows signs of getting better.
There was a period this year where this album was slated as my #1 record of 2020. It’s that good. Charley Crockett put out the best record of his career with Welcome To Hard Times and it hit all the right buttons with the psychedelic bend to it’s sound and a neo-western theme. The title track is one of my favorite jams of the year and I still love that piano riff that opens it. Check out “Welcome To Hard Times”, “Run Horse Run” and “The Man That Time Forgot”.
I have been a fan of Muscadine Bloodline since “WD40” was making the rounds as a single a few years ago. This highly anticipated debut full length album delivers on all of the promise the band showed early on and then some. As for their sound, they kind of straddle the line of being polished for country radio and rough around the edges for the independent country crowd. It also helps to feature the likes of BJ Barham, Brent Cobb and Adam Hood on your debut record to give you a bit of a boost. Check out “Ain’t Just A Van”, “Good Chunk Of Change”, “After Midnight” and “Drunk Tattoo” for a few choice cuts from this one.
Mike and The Moonpies have released another great album with this collection of lost Gary Stewart songs. While you won’t get a cover of “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinking Doubles)” on this set, you will get some awesome Gary Stewart tunes that have never been recorded before. You can hear Gary Stewart’s influence on Mike and The Moonpies music and when you do, you will know that they were the perfect band for a project such as this. The band worked closely with Stewart’s daughter, Shannon Stewart, and his best friend Tommy Schwartz to compile the tracks for this project. The finished product is a great Moonpies album that slides in at number five in our countdown.
I told you this was an insane year. We got not one, but two great Sturgill Simpson albums this year. I’m lumping them together here because they’re essentially one long piece split into two. Sturgill promised fans that if they hit a certain goal on a charity drive he was doing that he would cut 2 albums this year. He came through with two sets of bluegrass versions of practically every song in his solo catalog. The only things missing are the covers from each album and “It Ain’t All Flowers”. He also threw in some Sunday Valley tunes and a new song he wrote with the late Merle Haggard titled “Hobo Cartoon”. I highly recommend giving these records a spin as a lot of these aren’t just re-recordings in a different genre. There are some new arrangements of old favorites here that I think anyone would enjoy.
Ward Davis has finally given us the follow up to 15 Years In A 10 Year Town and it was well worth the wait. This is a darker collection of songs with lots of heavy guitars setting the mood throughout. There are a couple of murder ballads on this record that I highly recommend. We also get Ward Davis’s version of Colorado a couple of years after Cody Jinks released his version on the album Lifers. Give this album a listen and you won’t be disappointed.
Colter Wall is finally giving us a full band western swing record and I am here for this. From amazing covers like “Big Iron” to originals like “Henry and Sam”, this record is all killer from top to bottom. This record puts Colter Wall up there with some of the premier western acts going today. Check it out.
Ashley McBryde is back with her second major label album and another major hit with “One Night Standards”. This album is full of great songs and I highly recommend the murder ballad “Martha Divine”. Throw in some traditional country cuts like “First Thing I Reach For”, “Sparrow” and “Velvet Red” and you have one amazing album. I can’t wait to hear what is coming next.
I initially had Zach Bryan’s Elizabeth record in this spot, but this EP is Zach Bryan’s first professionally recorded music and I had to include it here. With songs like “Birmingham”, “Crooked Teeth” and “November Air”, Zach Bryan is certainly going to be around for a long time. I hope to be able to see him live sometime in the near future, and with albums like this, I have no doubt he’ll be able to tour widely once it is safe to do so again.
Joshua Ray Walker’s sophomore record Glad You Made it improves on the working formula he created with 2019’s Wish You Were Here. Songs like “Voices” show off his incredible vocal range while deeper tracks like “D.B. Cooper” show a bit of experimentation with the soundscape Joshua Ray Walker is using on this record. Give it a listen and see why it’s in at number 11 on this list.
Hailey Whitters album The Dream took a bit to grow on me, honestly. But it grew on me and I came to really enjoy a few tracks from this record. Check out “Janice At The Hotel Bar”, “Loose Strings”, her version of Stapleton’s “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice” and her version of “Happy People” which was also recorded by co-writer Lori McKenna on her 2018 album The Tree. This record is a fun album that deserves to be heard by more people. I hope I get the chance to see her live very soon.
Brent Cobb has released another great album in Keep ‘Em On They Toes. I really love the title track and it quickly became one of my feel good favorites of 2020. Other highlights include the timely “The World Is Ending”, “Soapbox w/ Nikki Lane” and “Good Times and Good Love”. This album is a nice change in pace back to the slower country and folk songs of 2016’s Shine On Rainy Day.
While this year was rough for fans of Turnpike Troubadours, we got a bit of a reprieve in the form of a Kyle Nix solo album. I had a feeling this one would be special from the moment it was announced and I was right. Some favorites include “Graves”, “Shelby 65”, “If Ruby Ain’t Happy” and “Lightning On The Mountain”. This album is highlighted by some great fiddle playing and good songwriting. I really hope Kyle Nix gets to tour on this one soon as I would love to see these songs live.
When I first heard about this super group of Texas Country talents, I knew we had something special coming. All four of these men are great with their own bands, but together they are a force to be reckoned with. “West Texas In My Eye” and “This Is My Life” are two highlights on this one for me. Give this one a listen if you haven’t, you won’t be disappointed.
Parker McCollum had a strong 2020 with some great single releases leading up to this EP. “Pretty Heart” actually got a lot of radio play and I really dig “Like A Cowboy”. I knew Parker McCollum was one to watch after 2017’s strong Probably Wrong LP. This EP is so good and it solidifies my opinion that he is destined for bigger things. Be on the lookout for his next full length as I belive that one will go places.
I have been a fan of Josh Abbott Band since 2012’s Small Town Family Dream album and it has been a fun ride watching this band grow. They get better with every release and The Highway Kind is no different. Highlights include the title track, “Settle Me Down”, “24-7-365” and “Real Damn Good”. Give it a listen.
While I wasn’t as much of a fan of Aubrie Sellers’s 2016 record New City Blues, this album blew me away. I dig the mixing of grungy garage rock and country music and it works here. Check out favorites like “Glad”, “Troublemaker”, “My Love Will Not Change w/ Steve Earle” and the title track.
With Hold My Beer, Vol. 2, Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen have put together two amazing country duo albums. This record is full of solid country gold. I love the comedy of “Rodeo Clown” and we finally get a title track for this collection with “Hold My Beer”. Also check out “Mi Amigo” with Asleep At The Wheel and “Speak To Me Jukebox” for more highlights.
This record from David Adam Byrnes was one of those unexpected gems that you hear about and when you finally get around to listening to, it blows you away. Neon Town is just good Texas country and I can’t wait yi hear what is next.
Now accepting donations! Join us via Facebook or YouTube on December 23rd and December 24th at 8pm CT for a one-of-a-kind Christmas Concert Special showcasing holiday music and performances by some of your favorite MusicFest artists! This will be a fundraiser to assist musicians and crew members whose main source of income has all but ceased for nearly the entire year with no end determined at this time. 100% of the donations received will be committed to the musicians and crews via HUCK Foundation (Helping Underprivileged, Citizens and Kids Foundation) Non-Profit 501 (c) (3).
I have always looked to do things in my writing forum differently than everyone else, and use an anomalous approach to get my feelings across to you. I cannot write some “same old informational” junk every other website will make about a Legend as special as Mr. Charley Pride. He was a totally different hero to me, and to Country Music in general. Not because he was black or because he faced so much prejudice…he was a hero because he sang with heart and soul, and he didn’t consider himself different from his peers.
Many times he was asked how it felt to be a black Country singer, and his answer was always “I don’t know, I just sing Country and I’m just a Country singer”. See, Mr. Charley sprouted out of RCA Victor during the 1960’s when two things were transpiring that were hurdles to him..the Outlaw movement and segregation.
But even then he faced another hurdle that not many people really know much about, and that is they used Mr. Charley as a pawn in their marketing strategies against rival label Capitol Records after 1971, when Capitol records introduced another black Country artist not many know about…Mr. Stoney Edwards. To top it all off not many know that the band that backed Mr. Stoney Edwards was none other than Asleep At The Wheel.
Now, one of the reasons I say that Mr. Charley was being pawned by the label was that he didn’t record many songs HE wrote, and Mr. Stoney, did. Don’t mistake my words my friends, because that fact alone bred some of Country Music’s BEST writers, like Mr. Jerry Foster and more. That marketing war also spawned the birth and proliferation of Asleep At The Wheel too.
Many of the others of his ilk were already going through the 1970’s garnering their own creative control of their music, which was coined by the media as the Outlaw movement. From my personal studies, I never concluded a judgement on whether it was HIS CHOICE to record songs he didn’t write..and I’ll spend more years trying to learn.
Back then the general public was either enjoying one of three “derivatives” of Country Music, and those were The Outlaw Movement, The Nashville Sound and The Bakersfield Eras. Funny thing was, was that Mr. Charley was NONE OF THEM! He was just self admittedly a regular old Country Singer. I think that fact placed him into the ranks of Mr. Gene Watson and Mr. Moe Bandy ( both of whom are still alive, touring and healthy today). Yeah, I know many of his 1970’s albums like “Pride Of America” were recorded at the Nashville Sound studio, but that doesn’t change the fact his sound was Country.
He faced so many boundaries with segregation and prejudice during his youth, they had to “discretely” place him into package deals to slip him into the most prominent theaters across America. From my studies Mr. Faron young, whom helped Mr. Charley break out into superstardom, was VERY prejudiced against blacks. But Pride earned the respect of many with his raw and honest vocals, and his ardent love of the music itself.
I was exposed to his album “Country Feelin” at age 8. For some reason, it just spoke to me as a person. AGE 8 I was identifying with this “sound” I was hearing, and the song I loved was called “The Man I Used To be” by Mr. Max D Barnes. Mr. max wrote one of Country Music’s saddest songs called “Chiseled in Stone”..ironically Charley Pride’s management team passed on the offer for him to record that song.
As a teenager I swiftly scooped up EVERY Pride record I could find. From 1973 and 1975 his two albums with a band called the Pridesmen are rare finds for vinyl collectors alike. When I moved to Nashville in 1996, to pursue a career in Country Music, pride was one of the first heroes I had that I went out to find. I got to meet him at the Midnite Jamboree, at the Ernest Tubb Record Store.
Mr. Charley Pride was one of the most prominent and active Opry members within it’s ranks celebrating his 25th year in 2018. That statement right there brings me to my last quandary, how is the Opry going to react to this gaping hole 2020 has left in the Opry membership problem?
Mr. Hal Ketchum and Miss Jan Howard were almost weekly Opry appearance mainstays, with Mr. Charlie Daniels recently following suit, playing almost every other week.
Does the Opry plan to refill the “Grand Ladies Of The Opry” anymore? There are a plethora of ladies out there that play the opry on a regular basis, that need to be inducted into membership like Miss Erin Enderlin and Miss Sunny Sweeney and Miss Elizaeth Cook.
Charley Pride was my 2017 Album Of The Year. Without question that album was probably one of pride’s best in the last 20 years of his career. Without question it made my TOP LIST the first few moments of my hearing it.
In closing, the death of Mr. Charley Pride has not only left a hollow gaping hole in this entire genre, but in the hearts of many. His kindness and genuine gentle mannerisms cannot be duplicated or even copied by any of today’s youth. The dignity that he embellished Country Music with cannot be repeated by anybody.
There will never be another hero like him. Ever.
Country music artist, Ken Wilber, has announced the release of three singles as a gift to his fans during the holiday season, “Bread On The Table, “Freedom Song” and “I Could Get Used To You,” are all part of his upcoming compilation project. All three tunes were recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville and engineered and mixed by Tony Cottrill at The DAWg Houze in Hendersonville, TN and mastered by Benny Quinn. The new releases are available on all digital music platforms for streaming and download. “Bread On The Table” is available here. “Freedom Song”is available here and “I Could Get Used To You” is available here.
The three recordings were produced and co-written by Exile’s Sonny LeMaire, who stated “Ken has taken a timely lyric and injected it with a kickin’ vocal that makes you smile and want to dance with his version of “Bread On The Table.” Co-writers were hit songwriters Shane Minor and J.P. Pennington. LeMaire added, “New York born and bred, Ken really shows his vocal range on “Freedom Song,” by taking a tune that could be in any Southern Rock band’s repertoire and made it his own!” Clay Mills and Jimmy Ritchey joined LeMaire in writing this tune. “Rearranging a number one song originally recorded by Exile penned by J.P. Pennington and myself and turning it into a reggae sing along is a trick that Ken pulls off in fun fashion! I love playing and listening to this tune over and over,” concluded LeMaire.
Ken Wilber recollects that “Freedom Song was originally recorded by Blackberry Smoke, I really liked the Southern Rock flavor to it, as I grew up listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers. I was also heavily influenced by The Charlie Daniels Band, so this was a nice way to showcase that influence. This particular song has a great groove to it, it’s one of those songs that makes you want to roll the windows down in your car and hit the gas.”
““I Could Get Used to You” is my wife Amanda’s favorite Exile song,” exclaimed Wilber! “We knew that we wanted to cover it for this project, but we wanted to change it up a bit, so that it wasn’t a carbon copy of what they originally did. Sonny and I played around with some different stuff on this one and finally settled on a reggae feel. I’m really happy with the way that this one turned out, as it sounds totally different from the original, but is also recognizable to people who are familiar with the song.”
“A nice uptempo 90’s style barn-burner – Exile originally released “Bread On The Table” on an EP. I really responded to the lyrics of this song, as it’s all about the struggles of the everyday working family. Right now in the midst of the pandemic, I think this song rings true more than ever. Millions of people have lost their jobs and are worrying about how they are going to feed their families and pay the rent. As much as this song is about the struggles that we all go through, it also has a positive way at talking about those struggles.”
“Ken is a pleasure to work with and I’m always excited when he travels here to Nashville. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to record and mix his projects. He’s an amazing talent, incredible versatility in his singing, songwriting and his honest enthusiasm is infectious. Ken just keeps getting better and better as an artist and entertainer which will become obvious to the listener in these new releases,” exclaimed Tony Cottrill, Lonely Dog Productions and The DAWg Houze.
My friends out in Texas have many great festivals all through the state all year long, like this one many of them have to move at certain times. This festival is one of the Grandaddies of the Texas Music community, rich with history and ripe with relevance to the music world.
It began at Old Settler’s park in Round Rock Texas, but when the park flooded one year , they moved the festival to Stone Mountain Events Center in Dripping Springs Texas. In 2018 they moved the festival to it’s permanent home close to Austin Texas.
Some of their past lineups have blown my mind and made me want to finally get out west to cover their event, and much like Steamboat Springs…ONE DAY I’ll get out there to do some work for them.
I mean how many festivals juxtapose such an eclectic lineup as this:
APRIL 11-14, 2019 THE HOMESTEAD, 1616 FM 3158, DALE (TILMON), TEXAS
BRANDI CARLILE, JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT, THE DEL MCCOURY BAND, GALACTIC, HAYES CARLL, WILD CHILD, PENNY & SPARROW, THE LONE BELLOW, SHINYRIBS, AMANDA SHIRES, LOS LEGENDS FT. FLACO JIMINEZ, RUBEN RAMOS, RICK TREVINO Y AMIGOS, MANDOLIN ORANGE, THE STEELDRIVERS, JAMES HUNTER SIX, ROBERT ELLIS, PAUL THORN, BLACK PUMAS, JOHN MORELAND, PAUL CAUTHEN, THE LAST BANDOLEROS, WOOD & WIRE, SAMANTHA FISH, SOUTH AUSTIN JUG BAND, MIPSO, SARAH GRACE AND THE SOUL, JAIMEE HARRIS, CALLIOPE MUSICALS, LEY LINE, BEN HUNTER & JOE SEAMONS, JEFF PLANKENHORN, IDA MAE, JOHN ELLIOTT, FEEDING LEROY, MCMERCY FAMILY BAND, BATTY JR., MIDDLESPOON
Way back in 2007, after I was done going through my divorce I began healing by delving into all types of music, including Red Dirt. Myspace helped me find so many of these great artists, including this man Mr. Aaron Watson.
At the time I discovered him, he was into his album called “Barbed Wire Halo” which in my opinion is an iconic album in the history of Red Dirt music. It boasted a religious theme and brought many people out to recognize a Legend we lost in 2020 Mr. Billy Joe Shaver, who recites many Bible verses during the album.
That’s the type of gigantic duende that he has for the heart and soul of Country Music. This year alone, he has surpassed album sales of his last two albums on an independent basis with no help from mainstream platforms of any kind. The only places that you can find his music thrive is on websites like this, and a few others.
The song “Barbed Wire Halo” is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard in the past. I hope he continues to play this one on his live shows forever. Last year in January, he headlined his own show at the Ryman Auditorium..and it sold well.
His album “Vaquero” peaked at number 2 on the Top Country Albums chart, which was the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2015 album “Underdog”. The album ‘Underdog” debuted at number 1 on the charts, and at that time he was the first ever independent male artist ever to do so.
2021 is already a huge year full of anticipated albums from many different artists including Mr. Aaron Watson, as he announces his new album “American Soul” on February 5th. He released a portion of the lyrics from the title track.
I have a new song called “American Soul” out today. We weren’t
planning on releasing it until the end of the year, but decided to release it today because the American Soul needs a pep talk right now more than ever. We need to turn off the news, turn up the music and dance with the ones we love. This year has been filled with an overdose of hate and heartache and a shortage of hugs. I hope this new song fills your heart with hope during these troubled times.
In the song the Abilene native sings, “It’s the red white and blue, it’s the yellow, brown and black. It’s those rotten ol’ Republicans and those darned ol’ Democrats. We’re coming back around ’cause you can’t hold down the American Soul.”
Bo Armstrong’s full-length debut, Chasing Ballads, is both conversational and poetic, Americana with a tinge of Texas influence. Out today, the album focuses on chasing after what matters to you, whether that’s realizing lifelong dreams or finding the love you believe in.
Produced by Brian Douglas Phillips (David Ramirez, Rob Baird, Thomas Csorba) at Rattle Trap Audio in Austin, TX, Chasing Ballads follows Armstrong’s 2017 EP, Where We Are. Throughout the 11 tracks, Armstrong seamlessly transitions from love songs to declarations of his purpose and finding his own voice.
“My idea of what it means to ‘make it’ as a songwriter has changed over and over and over again,” Armstrong says about the album. “I’ve learned that—despite all the necessary collaboration—this is often a lonely pursuit. But what calms me when I’m feeling overwhelmed is the realization that such behavior isn’t unique to me; it’s not even unique to someone pursuing a career in the arts. We all experience these flurries of emotion, and we all have to find ways of coping with them. That is the very shared human experience that the storytellers I admire capture so gracefully, and it is what I aim to get better at myself in the years ahead.”
“Chasing Ballads is about finding love you believe in and going after it,” he continues. “It’s about acknowledging your past and letting it motivate your future. It’s about finding the courage to live in the moment without throwing caution to the wind, and learning that so little in life can be accomplished on your own, even if the road you’re on is sometimes a lonely one.”
“The album’s eleven tracks develop an inviting sense of intimacy by reflecting on life’s small moments, while its subdued instrumentation lets the songwriting truly shine, putting the focus on the lyrics and Armstrong’s soulful delivery.”
“Meet Me in Memphis” offers a rollicking start to the album, an ode to long-distance love. “Built to Last,” featuring Laurel Wright of The Young Fables, examines love that spans decades. “Where Are You, Lonesome” explores “the universal feeling of loneliness,” notes Wide Open Country. “Mama Sway” is a tried-and-true love song, written for Armstrong’s wife while watching her with their young son. “Chasing Ballads,” one of the most affecting tracks on the album, finds Armstrong digging his heels in on what he believes in and remaining true to himself. “You Know What I Look Like in the Dark” offers a rare look at what it means to really be vulnerable.
Born in Dallas, Texas, Armstrong played four years of NCAA ice hockey in upstate New York. Following graduation, he spent two years in the Mississippi Delta with Teach for America. After close to a decade in New York City, he convinced his wife in 2017 that they should move to Nashville, where he could finally give music a real shot. His songs have garnered the respect and subsequent mentorship of storied songwriters (and fellow Texans) Jack Ingram, Jon Randall, and Liz Rose.
Chasing Ballads Track Listing:
1. Meet Me in Memphis
I’m excited about some of the releases of 2021 already…MY GOD the winter will be packed full of good ones coming out of many different genres. Delving into one of my favorite music communities, Red Dirt I found out about a recording from my friends over at Steamboat MusicFest.
See before the pandemic happened, THERE WERE a few festivals that DID transpire, including Mile 0 Fest…and THIS ONE. The MusicFest at Steamboat Springs is one of the hot spots for Red Dirt music across multiple stages in a huge area.
Now, I’m going to openly admit that as much as I admire this festival, I have not had the opportunity to cover this festival yet in person. It IS on our radar and we ARE making plans to go there soon! You know we are indeed a nationwide operation, and we have had a strong presence in the west.
This past January, the artists and staff at MusicFest banded together to host a BIG tribute show to Red Dirt Legend Mr. Cody Canada who was a major part of the band Cross Canadian Ragweed. Dickson Productions put together a damn fine show here, and his peers were given the opportunity to perform the songs of Cross Canadian Ragweed and the music that inspired many of them to become bands.
I wanted to take the opportunity to also write my love of this man and this band, and how integral they are to Red Dirt and underground music in general. I started out REALLY delving into Texas Music and Red Dirt stuff around 2007, when I got a divorce. After I healed, I started collecting records and researching bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed. I found them on their “Mission California” album but their live albums like Cain’s Ballroom truly gripped me.
I have been collecting all of the LIVE at Billy Bob’s albums on CD and their recording of “Boys From Oklahoma” was an epic milestone of my healing process from a dark period of my life. “Soul Gravy” is an iconic album in my opinion, and brought Red Dirt Music to a whole new echelon.
Their 2002 self titled album ( It’s called the purple album ) is one that propelled this band up to a national level from a local one, with classic songs like “Constantly”. In may of 2010, the band officially announced it’s final show, saying “We’re Ragweed as the four of us, or not Ragweed at all”. Their final show was in Illinois that year, and Mr. Cody Canada formed the Departed.
1. Constantly – Parker McCollum
2. Bang My Head – Copper Chief (featuring Cody Canada)
3. Don’t Need You – Read Southall Band
4. Fightin’ For – Reckless Kelly
5. 17 – Jamie Lin Wilson (featuring Dierks Canada)
6. This Time Around – Randy Rogers
7. 42 Miles – Casey Donahew
8. Sick and Tired – Wade Bowen (featuring Jamie Lin Wilson)
9. Carney Man – Mike McClure
10. Breakdown – Bruce Robison
11. Alabama – Courtney Patton
12. Johnny’s Song – William Clark Green
13. On a Cloud – Doug Moreland
14. Run to Me – Bri Bagwell
15. Broken – Stoney LaRue (featuring Cody Canada)
16. Dead Man – Jade Marie Patek
17. The Years – BJ Barham of American Aquarium
Read More: Tribute to Cody Canada & The Music of Ragweed Coming in January | https://radiotexaslive.com/the-tribute-to-cody-canada-the-music-of-cross-canadian-ragweed-the-years-is-out-in-january/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral
Hit Country singer of “Small Town Saturday Night,” Hal Ketchum, pased away on Monday night at age 67 as a result of complications from dementia. His wife Andrea confirmed the news on Facebook Tuesday.
Ketchum, a member of the Grand Ole Opry, released his debut album for Curb Records, Past the Point of Rescue, in 1991. The album produced four country Top 20 singles: the Number Two-charting classic “Small Town Saturday Night,” “I Know Where Love Lives,” his version of the Mick Hanly-penned title track, and producer Allen Reynolds’ “Five O’Clock World.” It would be his highest-selling album, eventually going gold for sales in excess of 500,000.
“I am saddened to hear the news of the passing of Hal Ketchum. He had such a distinctive voice and way of delivering a song. He was also a very nice man and wow, could he snow ski!! I will cherish the day I spent with Hal and Charlie Daniels the day we shot the video for the Long Haired Country Boy remake at Charlie’s place. If you watch the video and you think we must have had a lot of fun you’d be correct. It was a great day and will be forever a fond memory.” –John Berry
“Very sad to hear of Hal’s passing. His poetic piece about becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry was so touching. He will certainly be missed.” –Jeannie Seely
“Hal’s debut in country music was explosive. Unique-sounding singer, prolific and commercial songwriter and drop dead handsome, Hal presented as the total package. As an instant fan I requested and received the opportunity to interview Hal for an article in Country Song Roundup magazine. We covered a bunch of topics, but kept returning to songwriting and his process of inspiration. “When I’m preparing to write for a new project,” he explained, “I feel myself seizing up emotionally, and I exorcize all of it by writing”. In contrast to exploring the depths of his artistry, we had a few hearty laughs, too. Hal was honest and open that day, and I liked him a lot.” –Steve Goetman, Exile
“I remember one year when Gerry House was promoting Oktoberfest and as a joke he challenged Hal Ketchum to come play live in the studio in a pair of lederhosen to yodel for the audience. It was off the cuff and on air and we had no idea Hal had heard until he just showed up wearing full German attire with knee socks, suspenders, leather shorts and an accordion. I seldom saw Gerry House bested with a joke but this time he was. Hal sang and laughed with us at himself and the joy of life. He was brilliant. He had a voice he kept pristine throughout his career and dashing good looks that matured like the finest wine. But his laugh…his smile…his humor will always be my fondest memory of him. Our world is dimmer today without Hal’s smile.” –Devon O’Day host of Main Street Today and Devon O’Day’s Nashville
“Hal Ketchum was a singers singer. One of the nicest guys in the business and I so enjoyed our conversations about history. I can’t say enough about how cool he was on and off stage. I will be cranking up my favorite song of his today! Do yourself a favor and listen to “In front of the Alamo” and you’ll know what I mean. Rest easy my friend.” –Tim Rushlow
“Love to Hal and all his family. He was a brother.” –David Ball
“I met Hal thru the Allen Reynolds group at Jack’s Tracks and was lucky to do some shows with him. At the 1st 30A Songwriters show we did, he sang “Stay Forever” a cappella and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. He will be missed. My condolences to his family.” –Kent Blazy
“Wow, what a year to lose another amazing artist of the 90s. Small Town Saturday Night was just one staple of many great songs Hal released. Regards to his family and friends and thank you for all of your iconic music.” –Lockeland
“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Hal Ketchum today. I was blessed to be raised with nineties country icons such as Hal, and am forever grateful for his musical influence.” –Noah Garner
“I’m so saddened to hear about the passing of Mr. Ketchum. Although I never met him, he and his music were a huge part of my life. Growing up in a small town, “Small Town Saturday Night” became one of the theme songs of my life. He will be dearly missed! –Dallas Remington
“Today the industry lost another icon!! Hal Ketchum was one of those really cool guys with his own style. I listened to him often back in the day. R.I.P Hal.” –Mickey Lamantia
“I am so sad to hear of the passing of Hal Ketchum. Our Country music world for sure lost a legend. Although I was only born in the late 90s, some of my favorite artists and influences come from 90’s Country. “Small Town Saturday Night” has always been a favorite of mine. Hal’s memory will live on forever through his music and all he inspired. My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends.” –Dani-elle Kleha
This article will be one of my opinionated ones that few of you will quickly and ardently disagree and call me foolish. It’s this whole “Hate Pop Country” mindset some people have today within our community. They immediately scorn simple statements without any delving into the facts. Sadly, some of these “anti pop country” facebook only pages they have managed to inculcate that state of mind into thousands of us..for a while, I TOO was intrigued by the memes and jokes that abound on social media.
From the dawn of Myspace, the mere mention of the Opry generated so much hatred and foul feelings, to see it was futile to change my own thoughts of it. Yeah, I was HEAVILY involved and supportive of the Reinstate Hank movement, and I STILL THINK that it’s a poor excuse of a reason, however I do see THEIR point.
However in this article I’m going to ratiocinate some positive and negative points about our beloved Opry in 2020, and in general. Despite the way things panned out this year ( do I seriously need to start out another article with ‘Well 2020 was a rough year” crap?) the Opry did some terrific things for some artists I really like.
A few years ago, when Miss Sally Williams took over as CEO of the Opry, I was enamored with hope that she would embrace a NEW kind of change. I was hopeful that she was going to welcome some of these new REAL COUNTRY females out there to come play the Opry, and become members. Why you ask?
Because Miss Sally Williams has been a Nashville icon for 20 years now, and she REALLY LIKES REAL local music. In 2017, she took over the entity with grace and alacrity and immediately began to take things into a positive direction with her Opry inductions to membership AND booking performers. In fact, right off the bat in 2017 she began her iron fist rule with inducting Miss Crystal Gayle AND she allowed her sister Loretta Lynn to invite her!
Then, in 2019 we had another change as Mr. Dan Rogers took over as the Opry GM, and he also had a vision to create an even playing field on the Opry by inviting new Country AND Traditional Country to play. In 2019, it was a groundbreaking thing to transpire to see Country Legend Mr. Gene Watson become a new member.
Even with all of the pandemic changes this year ( just this weekend the Opry finally opened it’s doors fully ), they invited so many of the artists I adore to perform. In July, even though Mr. Corb Lund did not get to perform his Opry debut, I DID GET to see Miss Margo Price perform there. Why, this weekend the mighty fine Miss Erin Enderlin is performing on the Opry!
August began a DAMN FINE month on the Opry as they featured Old Crow Medicine Show, Mr. Dom Flemmons, Mr. Billy Strings, and Miss Molly Tuttle. It continued on with Mr. Jon Pardi, whom is one of the mainstream artists that is actually tolerable in today’s society.
September marked a breakthrough month for me as a fan of this woman..Miss Ashley McBryde and another young lady I have been watching..Miss Sierra Hull. Ashley McBryde made her own Opry debut in 2017, and has become one of the many artists to continuously play there with passion and love. The ONLY thing I was disappointed with on her Opry debut was the T shirt..which was crappy. However, her NEXT Opry performance she dressed the part and brought forth SO MUCH dignity and love!
One thing I find INTOLERABLE about the Opry now is when they finally did come back on television, they had to pick Mr. Bobby Bones as the host. They could not have picked a deeper scar on Country Music as him. ugh. I suppose this portion of the article is where I could expand upon the many things I dislike about the Opry’s direction now. But overall in 2020 I am convinced that the Opry has begun to head in a great direction lately, and if you haven’t taken a few moments to look into the reasons WHY I say that….shame on you!
By Joshua Wallace
Ward Davis is finally back with his second full length album titled Black Cats and Crows. This is his first full album since 2015’s stellar 15 Years In A Ten Year Town. This record was well worth the wait although I hope it doesn’t take another five years for a third full length Ward Davis. This collection has a bit more of a rock sound to it with plenty of heavy guitars throughout, but it is still firmly a country record and it’s one of the best country records to come out in 2020.
The album kicks off with “Ain’t Gonna Be Today” which is co-written by Kendell Marvel. This song gives you a bit of a rocking feel that sets you up for the rest of the record. “Black Cats and Crows” was the first single from the record. It’s a ballad with a darker tone that was co-written by Cody Jinks and Tennessee Jet. I love the slow build with the Ward on the keys and the solo on this one is awesome. Speaking of amazing solos, none other than Anthrax’s Scott Ian plays on the track “Sound Of Chains” and it’s a heavy rocking country murder ballad. Scott Ian’s playing adds a lot of muscle to this track and it has to be heard to be truly appreciated.
I think Ward Davis has the better version of “Colorado” here. This song is written by Cody Jinks and Ward, and it previously appeared on Jinks Lifers album. This version is smoother and I feel like the emotion of the song carries through a bit more here. It’s a great song either way you listen to it though. Another murder ballad here is “Papa and Mama” which is a great Ray Scott tune. Ward takes Ray Scott’s dark and bluesy number and turns it into more of a gothic country murder ballad. Finally, “Good and Drunk” closes out this record. I’m happy to see this stand out track from 2018’s Asunder EP finally appear on an actual album. It’s a nice closer and fits the overall darker mood of the record.
Ward Davis has turned in a great follow up to 2015’s 15 Years In A Ten Year Town. With these two albums under his belt, Ward Davis has cemented himself as one of the top independent country music acts. I cannot wait to hear some of these songs live sometime very soon. Black Cats and Crows is out everywhere you can listen to music as of November 20th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : Ain’t Gonna Be Today, Black Cats and Crows, Sounds Of Chains, Get To Work Whiskey, Colorado, Papa and Mama, Lady Down On Love, Good and Drunk
Ward Davis – Black Cats and Crows (2020)
Heart of Texas Recording Artist Amber Digby is at Cherry Ridge Recording Studios In Floresville, Texas, today starting a new album being produced by Country Music Legend Tommy Detamore. Mr. Tommy has benefited many Country artists I love and regard as future legends, especially the younger ones like her. I’m REALLY excited to see what this young lady has to bring us in the future, and it’s one of the TOP records on my list of 2020 up comers.
Mr. Tommy has also played steel guitar on many albums for artists like Miss Sunny Sweeney, and many others I could list on here. In my opinion Country Music has three integral pillars of it’s very foundation, The songwriters, the producers and the steel guitarists.
This will be a very special project for Amber and her first new album in over six years. It will contain duets with some legendary figures in Country Music, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic to let you in on what I know right now! It appears to be a duet album including the likes of Mr. Moe Bandy and Mr. Johnny Rodriguez. The full duet album will contain Mr. Willie Nelson, Miss Jeannie C. Riley, Mr. Johnny Bush and Miss Loretta.
“I’m plugging away at the music again” Amber Digby said. “We are heading to the studio to lay down rhythm tracks for a new record that I know ya’ll will love. I should’ve done this 10 years ago, but you know how that goes. This project is near and dear to me, because it is a duet project with some of my biggest influences in country music. Every single person on this record is a friend, a cheerleader, a mentor. These are some of my heroes. From Nashville to Texas, money can’t buy what I have learned and still learn from these wonderful artists.
Our friends over at Bloodshot Records released his debut album “Country Love Songs” on vinyl this year, for the first time ever. They did that with an early Wayne “The Train” Hancock album as well, and others. The last few years have indeed been a triumph for vinyl collectors, and I could not be anymore elated over that.
This past Christmas I witnessed MANY people get record players, and there are many reports of vinyl outselling all other forms of music in 2019. If you are one of those people, this album needs to be at the TOP of your list.
This man is one of the many artists that led me to enjoy underground music like Mr.Chris Knight and Wayne Train Hancock. In 1998 I was just getting into this underground music with a few more bands, but this album and this man was one of the catalysts that sparked my love of local music….and here I am.
The 1990s are a hard decade to collect vinyl from, because next tot nothing was made by any artist and every time I find these companies re releasing their titles to us collectors, I always try my best to let my readers know. Because this album is probably one of the TOP 100 albums of all time for me, when it comes to Roots music.
As the years went by, I became to have even more love and respect for him for all of his contributions to music. He spent quite some time making music with Miss Linda Gail Lewis, sister of Legend Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis. In 2016 his album called “Upland Stories” made my TOP 50 lists.
Today’s times have witnessed a total comeback of vinyl and in fact it is outselling compact discs! People have become enamored again about going out to the record store and buying new records…however many of them still come with download cards for your digital needs.