NewsComments Off on The Grand Ole Opry is FINALLY Listening To Us!
The time is coming folks when the Opry FINALLY “Gets It”. I knew this was going to culminate one day! I’m not sure if it’s the new manager that is a TRUE lover of real music or that they are looking for a more diverse crowd? This article here has been culminating in my brain for the last year now, because our music…our beloved “underground” music is FINALLY taking shape up top with mainstream music.
I’m not really sure if the Opry “watches” what the Ryman does, but if Mr. Cody Jinks, Mr. Tyler Childers and Miss Margo Price are any indicators, then I’d say YES THEY DO. Because all of those three have recently SOLD OUT THE RYMAN, and some of them in record time.
You have had several Country Legends like Vince Gill and Reba McEntire previously state that they wished the bro country shit would come ti a close and that the rap country would follow out the door. Well, it pretty much has and many of the prominent figures of the 1990’s have resurfaced and are making quality NEW music, but the problem is that people over 50 that enjoyed it in the 90’s aren’t buying it.
Let me tell you WHO IS. This new demographic of 20-40 year old music fans that grew up listening to the Outlaw Era music FROM the 50 and up people who won’t spend money on music. Pop Country is specifically targeted to women ages 14-25 and soccer moms up to 35 ( there ARE some exceptions to those that like the music that isn’t Pop Country), but now many of those females are coming over to the other side of the Country fence.
Now, mind you that the Opry WILL ALWAYS pander to ALL GENRES of Country and by all means that is GREAT. Because you get a 4 hour show for a GREAT PRICE, and you get a little bit of everything for everyone. But these younger people that are digging up the real Country are becoming very erudite about it. Whether it be word of mouth on social media, or rabbit hole time on Youtube or Spotify, they ARE finding it.
The Opry is picking up on this, and cashing in on it all by offering us all we want. And I’m hoping that very soon they start functioning as the Grand institution they once were. In the past, as far as members go they made some pretty mundane choices, and many of those fools won’t honor what it means to BE A MEMBER.
But then as of January of 2019, things began to change and now I’m seeing a positive, new echelon of shows and invitations of guests. Is this a result of the new manager? In my opinion I’d say YES IT IS. I think being a woman she is making better choices of some of the artists out there busting their backsides to gain the attention in the mainstream world…and it’s becoming easier every day.
From Cody Jinks Instagram account.
On August 28th Underground Country Music sensation Mr. Cody Jinks made his Opry debut with 3 songs, to where after the first song he paused and said “I’m not going to lie to y’all, I’m pretty scared right now”. He played three songs, and right now along with Whiskey Myers and Mr. Chris Knight they are PISSING ALL OVER CORPORATE NASHVILLE ( hell some of them are based out of New York and California). It’s TRUE that these “DIY” artists are doing it THEIR WAY and mainstream radio is losing, and so are the artists that mainstream radio pushes down our throat on a daily basis. Radio used to be a very viable way of gathering an audience, but it’s not anymore and I couldn’t be happier.
One of the most prominent artists in this formula that has set many standards as an independent female artist is my friend Miss Sunny Sweeney. Her music is just a soulful and beautiful as she is, and she embellishes Country Music with her songs in a fashion only she ever could.
NOBODY deserves to be an Opry member more than her right now, having over 50 appearances under her belt, she has identified as one of the “Grand ladies of the Opry” like Miss Jan Howard and Jeannie Seeley are now. I mean don’t you all agree that ladies like her and Miss Kelsey Waldon would be sufficient additions of a new group of younger ladies that would carry on that tradition left behind by Miss Jean Shepherd BUT STILL allow and even proliferate those still alive like Miss Jan Howard?
I want EVERY ONE OF YOU To contact the Opry in any way you can and tell them that we MUST make Miss Sunny Sweeney a member! And you can damn sure bet I’ll be there in attendance to cover that news when it does happen!
A few years back Miss Kelsey Waldon made her debut on the Opry and I recently had the opportunity to catch her set at Kickin It on The Creek in Irvine Kentucky, which I’m still writing about now. She recently released a new album on Mr. John Prine’s label Oh Boy Records, and will grace many a TOP 50 lists of 2019.
In my opinion she would equally be a good candidate for future performances on the Opry, along with the Pistol Annies, and SO MANY other younger female artists that are out right now, and outperforming the males in my opinion. I recently started writing my Americanafest articles and BY ALL MEANS I enjoyed the gals more than the guys there, I don’t know maybe it’s just what I LIKE more, and I’m not meaning this in a physical manner, their songs just speak to me MORE as a person.
Mr. Tyler Childers has played the Opry twice now, since his rise to fame in the underground music realm but it has gotten so large and amassed so much notoriety, one simply cannot argue with his success. The sales and attendance of the Opry when this man takes the stage means that he deserves to play on a regular basis.
I’m not trying to say that all of these artists deserve to walk in the door and become members in ANY fashion people. In now way do I sit here and write this and boast that they should be inducted without a plethora of performances under their belt on the stage…I’m just saying that the Opry has the right idea.
Joe Diffie, Clint Black, John Anderson, Terri Clark, man there are SO MANY great artists out there that play the Opry frequently, and are a hell of a lot better choices than the crap emanating from the FM radio speakers now. There have been a few recent good choices for good members with such names as miss Crystal Gayle and Mr. Luke Combs.
I’ll be completely honest here folks, I don’t like the music that Mr. Luke Combs does at all. It just doesn’t speak to me in any fashion, but I’ll be honest it’s probably some of the best mainstream music out there. In a nutshell, this man’s music could easily lead others to more underground music.
NewsComments Off on Sunny Sweeney at Ashley Street Station In Valdosta, GA
By Joshua Wallace
Photo Credit : Joshua Wallace
On February 23rd, 2019 we were lucky enough to have Sunny Sweeney down here in Valdosta, GA at the local dive bar called Ashley Street Station. I had just seen her open for Cody Jinks at a sold out Florida Theater in Jacksonville, FL for nearly 2,000 people and this was a much different show. This was a much more intimate, more rowdy and more rockin’ set. Ashley Street Station holds around 200 or so on a good day and this was a good crowd. The night opened with W.D. Miller playing some original tunes followed by local singer Jen Anders. Following that, Sunny came on and rocked the house for about 2 hours straight and it was a good time.
W.D. Miller started the evening off and played a few tunes off his 2018 album “Burnt Bridges and Broken Hearts”. He played originals such as “Samael (My Name Is Sam)”, “Barroom For A Shelter” and “How In The World”. One of the highlights was during “Samael (My Name Is Sam)” when W.D. went off mic and his voice filled the room with song. Jen Anders followed with another short set. Her set contained mostly cover tunes mixed in with an original or two. The covers Jen did were all in her acoustic style and she got the crowd ready to go with her acoustic renderings of familiar songs.
Sunny Sweeney took the stage shortly after Jen Anders and got straight into it with the first new song of the night called “Tie Me Up”. She played about 5 new songs in this set list and each of them sound amazing. I for one cannot wait for her next album. She also got to some highlights from her last album Trophy with tracks such as a couple of favorites of mine, “Pills” and “Pass The Pain”. I love the stripped down guitar version of “Pass The Pain”. It’s a different sound from the original and I like when bands can bring something different live. She also did a great cover of Don Williams’s “Tulsa Time” which I enjoyed.
Sunny Sweeney and Harley Husbands lead guitar, Adrian Myers drums, Dillon Sampson bass guitar
At some point in the set, the band requested tequila shots. This is a common occurrence at a dive bar, so nothing new here. At some point later, shots turned into bottles, again nothing unusual around these parts. Things got interesting when the band discovered a scorpion in one of the bottles of Jose Cuervo. Sunny challenged a member of the audience to drink it for a free t-shirt. You know what? Someone actually did and it was crazy. These are the kinds of things that can happen when you see someone at a small dive bar such as Ashley Street Station.
Sunny Sweeney and a bottle of tequila on the floor
The band got to some other newer songs on the set list as well including “Body In A Box Car” and “I Drink Well With Others” which will appear on her next album. She also got to some deeper tracks like “Uninvited” from her Provoked album and “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving” from her 2011 release Concrete. This deeper set was heavy on tracks from her Trophy album as the band also got to “Bottle By My Bed”, “Better Bad Idea” and “Nothing’s Wrong With Texas” to name a few. It wouldn’t be a Sunny Sweeney show without the radio hit “From A Table Away” which is also one of my favorite tracks.
Sunny Sweeney brings new tracks to Ashley Street Station
One of my favorite newer tracks that Sunny is playing live now is called “Poet’s Prayer” and she dedicates it to artists playing out on the road. On this night, she dedicated it to W.D. Miller who opened up the show. She ended the set with a great rendition of “Bad Girl Phase” from Provoked.
I highly recommend seeing Sunny Sweeney live in a setting like this while you still can. Her stock is rising and it won’t be long before she is headlining big theater shows like Cody Jinks is. She is actually just starting a run of opening dates for Bob Seger’s final tour. After that, she is always on tour and you can find her current dates at https://sunnysweeney.com/. I hope you get out to a show.
I been hard at work for Tumbleweed Festival lately, as I have been on vacation from my “normal” job. I have talked with many people and artists. My friend and partner Miss Kristie who runs the vendor company Rebel K Child does what I call “The Back End” of the festival. That’s the area YOU are in as fans and BY GOD IT’S THE IMPORTANT AREA, you see I’m in the “Front End” of the festival backstage making sure the set list is correct, and the band is hydrated correctly. Without the support of the fans there would BE NO local music, I don’t care WHAT genre you play.
It’s MY JOB to be a sober, positive representative of the brand I am working for to bring YOU the BEST coverage of the event from a media standpoint. It’s MY JOB to KNOW every song EVERY artist played and what they said on stage, it’s MY JOB to bring you news and upcoming events that YOUR favorite people are doing.
You know many old tales abound about how all the Outlaw stars hung out at each others houses partying all night, and it may have happened periodically. But this business is push push push, and if you hang around me long enough you’ll see I don’t screw around. I’m VERY PROMPT and timely, if you are scheduled to call me at 4 or I’m scheduled to call you at 4 you better bet your butt I’ll call.
We don’t always have time to STOP and chat, and that was the case with Miss Sunny Sweeney last week, I DID get to talk with her a little bit and I did get to ask her some things about this event. When I asked her what she planned to bring to the table to Tumbleweed she had just one reply…”Country Music”. Who’s to argue with her, I mean hell she has been hard at work for several years develpoing her own style.
She’s often placed alongside Red Dirt artists which Tumbleweed will be bringing into the mix with Outlaw Country artists out there in Kansas City. But to be honest she’s been around longer than many of the Red Dirt artists, as her first album “Heart Breaker’s Hall Of Fame” was released in 2006 before she signed on with Big Machine. It was re released in 2007 as her debut album and back then many of the primary Red Dirt artists weren’t in the spotlight yet, aside from a few I could name and that’s NOT saying anything negative because I love Red Dirt Country.
She doesn’t consider herself Red Dirt or Texas Country, once again I asked her what she classified her music as and she quickly replied “Country”. I did get to ask her what writing with Mr. Bob DiPiero was like (he was the co-writer on the song “From A Table Away” on her second album). And she replied that “it was really fun to have that experience, and he was a truly nice guy”.
She broke barriers with her third album “Provoked” which took a totally different direction for her as a songwriter and featured some different vocals. Additionally I enjoyed her third album more because I love the song “You Don’t Know Your Husband” which was co wrote by Pistol Annie member Angaleena Preseley.
I dissected “Provoked” as an album more heartfelt and personal, however she carried it even further into that personal realm with her new album from Thirty Tigers called “Trophy”. That album is already on everybody’s TOP list already for 2017 I’m quite sure.
When I asked her what she wanted to reflect toward her fans when she made Trophy she had this to say “Well I always try to write songs that let everybody know where I am in my life. And I would presume it would be safe to say that I wanted people to know where I was in my life, and I wanted to reflect those feeling through the songs I’m singing about”.
We chatted for a short period of time about all kinds of things, and I wanted to feature her and let people that didn’t really know her or her music become familiar with it. Unlike many of the other artists on this bill Miss Sunny and I have never met in person, I have been around her but always in passing. So I think basically she and I had more of a personal conversation and that’s OK too, because one thing I have ALWAYS RESPECTED about Miss Sunny is the fact she is an AVID Opry performer. On August 25th she will play her 50th Opry appearance, and to be honest when you watch her play there you can FEEL the love she has for that institution.
The Opry is special and it is `hallowed wood, and if it wasn’t they wouldn’t have taken the wood from the Ryman in 1974 and placed it into the new stage. Sadly Country Legend George Morgan was the last person to play the Opry at the Ryman AND the FIRST to play the Opry on the new stage before passing away July 7th 1975.
I told her that I would include this in my article for DARN SURE that I have been heavily pushing for her to be inducted into the Grand Old Opry membership, I firmly believe that as often as she performs on that stage and the passion she possesses for the proliferation of Country Music history, she deserves to be inducted as a member in the near future. It is a life goal of mine to make certain my daughter can have the ability to call her a Country Music legend.
NewsComments Off on 2017 Music Festivals: Tumbleweed Festival.
This is a very very special edition of my festival article series folks, another mammoth outdoor festival in the Kansas City area so I’ll be researching hotels for this one people. My GOD the absolutely amazing lineup that has become one of the hottest upcoming events of 2017. Once I print you the lineup links you’ll not even need a second opinion before venturing over to the ticket link.
This is going to be a different take on most festivals folks because it’s going to involve more than just the bands and musicians they plan to include many of the fan factions of the artists as well. The festival director plans to include the popular support group of Cody Jinks called The Flockers, tomorrow I’ll be talking with one of their representatives concerning what their role will be in this event. I’ll be adding that conversation on this article as well as updating it many times before my crew and I head down there.
I’m telling you that right there in the middle of America we got Red Dirt meets touring Outlaw acts meets Americana acts all rolled into one big outdoor stage. I’m going to be studying this event thoroughly in the next few weeks, and I’ll be promoting this festival HEAVILY in the next few weeks.
Now folks some of these festivals I do a lot of work for, but this one I’ll be HEAVILY promoting and doing research for this one because this is their second year of operation, and we want to see this festival grow. Additionally I am currently attempting to bring in more Red Dirt Country into my format, so this worked out well on both ends.
An additional twenty-two hotels are located within 20 minutes from the festival site. They range from budget to four-star accommodations. I was recently out in this area last weekend and I got to see the venue firsthand, there are plenty of hotels and stores nearby.
In time I shall also research area restaurants as well, this article will be constantly added to in the next few weeks.
The Tumbleweed Payment Plan enables you to get tickets now and pay nothing for six months. No interest, no payments for six months. You can buy tickets of all types HERE. YES FOLKS for this festival you can purchase tickets on a layaway plan! THIS IS the FIRST festival I have EVER witnessed this happen.
– Camping is a separate ticket (add-on)
– RV Campers must have (1) RV pass for the vehicle and Forest Camping Pass for each individual
– All campers must also have an access pass to enter the festival or camping grounds.
– Thursday night add-on campers must also have a Forest Camping pass
– On Thursday, July 27th, Thursday Night campers have access at 5:00pm. Gates open for early entry and VIP at 4:45pm. Gates close Thursday night at midnight. No access after midnight, so please plan accordingly!
– On Friday, July 28th, campers have access at 1:00pm. Gates open for early-entry and VIP attendees at 12:00pm. Standard entry is at 2pm
– On Saturday, July 29th, gates open at 11:30am
– All attendees must exit by 12:00/noon Sunday
FROM THE WEBSITE, AND FROM MINE:
Welcome to Tumbleweed Country Music Festival. We’re here to answer your questions! Check out the references below and don’t hesitate to reach out via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and however else you can find us!
This is a family-friendly festival along the gorgeous Missouri River bank covered by mature trees with a playground. Kids 10 years and younger are free!
NO coolers inside Main Stage area (permitted only in camping)
NO Loitering, drinking or grilling in the parking lot (enforced by police)
NO sleeping in cars in the parking lot (enforced by police)
NO outside food or drink (permitted in camping)
NO weapons of any kind (includes pocket knives, pepper spray, fireworks, guns, tasers)
Contained fires are permitted until 2:30am and must be in a 36″ metal fire container with a screen on top (standard at all retailers). If you bring a fire pit, you must also have a 10lb fire extinguisher with it. We’re camping in a forest!
Grills are permitted.
MUSTS TO BRING
– Printed off tickets. We will not accept electronic versions off of your cell phone, receipts, etc. Your ticket must be a hard copy printed off on paper. If your ticket does not scan you will not be granted access.
– Credit Card/ATM Card/Cash- some vendors accept cash only, parking is cash only (see parking info below), liquor/beer sales will accept credit cards in some locations. Please CARPOOL! Parking is $30 per vehicle (except for RV’s) to encourage car-pooling and funds go to the city for the facility usage and cleanup.
– Your ID, a SMILE and some killer boots!!!
WHEN CAN WE ARRIVE? WHEN DO WE HAVE TO LEAVE?
On Thursday, July 27th, Thursday Night campers have access at 5:00pm. Gates open for early entry at 4:00pm.
On Friday, July 28th, campers have access at 1:00pm. Gates open for early-entry attendees at 12:00pm. Standard entry is at 2pm. On Saturday, July 29th, gates open at 11:30am. All attendees must exit by 12:00/noon Sunday.
I NEVER GOT MY TICKETS AFTER I PURCHASED THEM – I NEED MY TICKETS RESENT TO ME?
Please visit www.Ticketfly.com or call 877.435.9849
Pets: Allowed with Service Animal or Companion Pet documentation
Open Camp Fires: Not Allowed (must be contained in metal fire pit container with mesh cover)
MY CREDIT CARD IS BEING DECLINED.
Please make sure your address is imputed EXACTLY as your address on file with your credit card company. Please contact your CC company or check your statement to verify address on file. Any error no matter how small will decline your attempt. This is put in place to reduce fraud associated with purchases.
IS THIS AN ALL AGES FESTIVAL?
Yes, all ages are welcome. Kids 10 and under are free!
HOW CAN I CONTACT CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TICKETS?
For all ticket concerns or questions please call Ticketfly at 877.435.9849. Please note that ALL SALES ARE FINAL. No Refunds for any reason. We will not respond to refund requests. Thank you.
HOW DO I CONTACT CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR ALL OTHER QUESTIONS?
Please email email@example.com. Please allow up to 48 hours for a response. Please note that ALL SALES are FINAL. No refunds for any reason. We will not respond to refund requests. Thank you.
ARE THERE ANY CELL PHONE CHARGING STATIONS?
Only in VIP.
CAN I LEAVE THE FESTIVAL AND RETURN?
Yes, you will be able to come and go as you wish. Please note that you will be subject to search each time you enter the festival grounds. This is purely for the safety of our guests. PLEASE, there is ZERO loitering in the parking areas and will be strictly enforced for safety reasons.
IF I AM STAYING OFF SITE, CAN I LEAVE AND COME BACK?
WILL YOU BE POSTING SET TIMES IN ADVANCE? WHERE CAN I FIND EXACT SET TIMES?
Set times will be posted closer to the festival dates. Please take the time to explore Tumbleweed, as there are some things happening that will not be posted, and will be exciting to find on your own.
I’M A PHOTOGRAPHER. WHO DO I ARRANGE A PHOTO PASS THROUGH?
Please complete a media form located on the Contact Us page.
WHAT TYPES OF VENDORS WILL BE ON HAND?
There will be a variety of food/beverage/alcohol/arts-crafts/apparel/ and more.
Motorcycles will park on the concrete parking lot near the entrance gate. Limited space available: first come, first reserve!
ACCESS TO THE MAIN STAGE?
Yes, all ticket levels will have unrestricted access to the front of the stage. No special pit tickets or similar exists.
I NEVER GOT MY TICKETS?
Please visit www.Ticketfly.com or call 877.435.9849
I CAN’T GO ANYMORE + I WANT A REFUND.
Just like any event ALL SALES ARE FINAL. When purchasing your ticket you agreed to our ticketing terms. We do not offer refunds for any reason. We will unable to respond to refund requests. Thank you.
CAN I BRING MY KIDS? DO THEY HAVE TO PAY?
Yes. Everyone is allowed in the event with a ticket. Kids 10 and younger are free!
DO I NEED TO PRINT OFF MY TICKETS?
Yes, you MUST print off your tickets on to paper. No other form will be accepted. We will be scanning printed off tickets only. If your ticket does not scan you will not be granted access.
WILL TICKETS BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT THE FESTIVAL GATES?
Yes, at higher ‘gate’ prices.
CAN I GET A SINGLE DAY PASS?
Single Day passes to Tumbleweed are not sold.
GETTING HERE FAQ
PLEASE USE THIS GOOGLE MAP LINK!! IOS MAPS CAN LEAD YOU WRONG!
It’s open first-come-first reserve camping with a recommended space of 10ft x 15ft per person, but you can camp with friends, family, etc. No true restriction on a reasonable camping area :).
CAN WE LEAVE AND RE-ENTER THE CAMPGROUND AREA?
Yes, as many times as you want.
WHAT ARE THE GENERAL RULES FOR BUYING A CAMPING SPOT?
A camping pass is required to enter the camping grounds. One Camping Pass = One Entrance to Camping.
You cannot camp without a festival pass.
CAN WE BRING IN ALCOHOL?
Only campers can bring in beer and/or liquor to the campgrounds. No outside food/drink in the main stage area.
WHAT WILL YOU BE PROVIDING AT THE CAMPGROUNDS?
There will be 24hr security. There will be water and ice for sale, as well as ATMs and a variety of vendors within the venue.
WHAT EMERGENCY SERVICES WILL BE AVAILABLE ON SITE? WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I NEED EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE (MEDICAL, POLICE, TOWING, LOCKSMITH, ETC.)?
There will be medical assistance available throughout the campgrounds and festival site. You can stop any officer you see, or any staff member you see, for assistance.
WHERE SHOULD I GO IF I LOSE MY KEYS, MY WALLET OR MY FRIENDS?
Go to the Tumbleweed information/ticket booth near the main entrance of the festival.
WILL SMALL CAMPFIRES BE ALLOWED IN THE CAMPING AREAS? WILL YOU ALLOW FIRE BINS?
There will be no campfires of any kind allowed. Burn it down on the dance floor! Grills are permitted.
WILL THERE BE ANY ELECTRICITY IN THE CAMPING AREA?
ARE SERVICE ANIMALS ALLOWED IN THE CAMPSITE?
IS THERE CELL PHONE SERVICE AVAILABLE THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVAL SITE?
Dependent on crowd size. WiFi connections may be available for a small fee.
ARE WE GOING TO BE ABLE TO CAMP NEXT TO OUR CARS?
No. Upon arrival, you will be directed into the main parking area. Camping is located within the park therefore no cars are allowed. Please walk your belongings to the camping area which is very close to the parking lot.
CAN WE BRING WATER INTO THE MAIN CONCERT VENUE FROM THE OUTSIDE?
No. You can purchase water and/or refill at FREE water stations.
WILL WE BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE FESTIVAL AND COME BACK?
I have so many different series going on within my website that sometimes It’s hard to keep them all well groomed and current, but I do. This endeavor turned out to be a major undertaking in both a positive and negative way for me but I took the negative a turned it into a learning experience to which I could still capitalize on as a man. Attempting to pin some of these hard working steel guitarists down has been a challenge, people THINK the music business is one big party, or a wild drunk fest full of drugs and women…and it’s not. ANYTHING can be turned into that I suppose but most people don’t STOP and understand the time and effort placed into pulling off a profitable show.
I have been wanting to do this project for some time now and I either didn’t have the time or the resources to pull it off in the fashion it deserves to be done in, I don’t do ANYTHING half assed or in hokey fashions. I comb my information but sometimes I make horrible face palm to the forehead mistakes and I retreat with my tail between my legs…but I come back out swinging and more aggressive than I was when I made that mistake. I know THE PEOPLE that once graced the stages of Country Music behind the steel guitar, Pete Drake, Hal Rugg, Ralph Mooney,Little Roy Wiggins and the Legends of the instrument. BUT when it came to tuning and how it works I once knew nothing about it, and I thought well HOW can I write about Country Music in Nashville and NOT KNOW?
Country Music has THREE staple pillars of it’s foundation or it’s backbone if you will. Those are in this order the songwriter, the producer, and the steel guitar in my opinion it takes those three to make a classic Country Music album. My point being Willie Nelson “Red Headed Stranger” and “Wanted The Outlaws” as two prime examples that had all three. Shooter will tell you rapidly “Wanted The Outlaws” was the first platinum selling Country Music album EVER and defied the scorn it was initially given by Nashville in the 1970’s.
Local music as a whole contains such a plethora of well rounded steel guitarists and pickers waiting for you to discover them if you are willing to wade through the broken beer bottles and travel the worn out back alleys of America you will find them. You have to look in the places most normal people wouldn’t, and you have to listen. You have to brave the heat and cold and discomfort of the fields and farms that spew forth these festivals, mostly you have to study and watch for them.
I cover over 9,000 songwriters,bands and artists on here from six different genres and many of them involve steel guitarists in some fashion or another. I know TONS of them but YOU might not so I thought WHY NOT start interviewing THEM and bringing THEM to the forefront so we can better appreciate the artists they play for? I don’t ask many questions about their “boss” unless it’s a mutual band, BUT many of them are readily willing to divulge information about the man (or woman) up in the front that employs them. In fact I am enjoying these last few years where the WOMEN have been releasing the stronger albums like Sunny Sweeney and Margo Price.
This installment of my series brings me to the telephone with the current steel guitarist for Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies and his name is Mr. Austin Tripp he called from south Carolina last night and graciously donated some time with Gary Hayes Country and I thank him SO MUCH for this opportunity to bring you folks this article!
How did you get started playing the steel guitar?
Well, it’s really a long story short but I used to play the fiddle and I began playing it at eleven or twelve. They used to have country music shows out at a little antique shop close to where I lived, and they had a fiddle player there that I befriended around the end of 2004. We went out there to the store, they had a steel player and a fiddle player and banjo there was a bunch of people. I was interested in watching the fiddle player and it was mostly Bluegrass but every once in awhile that steel player would start up and I was like man that sound. The sound of it is what attracted me to it and I got to watching him play a little lick, and I didn’t know nothing about it. I didn’t know what the instrument was called I didn’t know anything.
I finally got the courage to approach him and ask him what it was and he said it’s a pedal steel guitar, I said well I got to learn how to play one. He said well, I’m not a really good teacher but I can show you a few things. The problem was I didn’t have one and I didn’t know where to even find one and it was hard for him to show me on his and have to sit down and play it. So in the summer of 2004 and 2005 I worked all summer for a friend of mine and bailed hay to save up money to buy my first steel.
I couldn’t make it do what I wanted, I couldn’t make it do the crying and all that stuff but he lead me along, and I got to where I wanted and after a month and a half of getting one, I got started playing with him. He also plays the guitar and he would play it and let me play steel behind him, and the rest is history. I love the sound of it and I love the challenge that it put up, I’m one of those types that loves a challenge. I kind of got bored with the fiddle to be honest, and I was looking for a challenge and I found it in the pedal steel guitar.
How long did you play before you played for Cody Jinks, and how did you start with Mr. Cody?
I started playing professionally since 2009 and I was still in high school. I got offered to go on the road with a band called Broken road, we played with many acts. We played all over Georgia, parts of Florida, Alabama and Louisiana. We opened for Jake Owen, Colt ford and few others, and I would get to know their steel players and know the bands. Fortunately right after I graduated high school I got the call to go out on the road with Easton Corbin, I didn’t know much about the road, I was green. I didn’t know anything about life on the road I was just getting exposed to it. Thankfully one thing lead to another and after doing shows with Easton I did shows Jake Owen and up to about 2010 I started doing shows with Blake Shelton and that lead me to my big gig and that was with Luke Bryan. And I was with Luke for a year and a half.
I took some time off from playing to care for my grandmother who passed away in 2013 from breast cancer. I took some time off to care for her and started working a manufacturing job for about three years. When my grandmother passed on I got the itch and I was ready to get back out on the road, and play music full time. One night I messaged Brett Robinson who plays for Whitey Morgan, and asked him questions about his guitar. He had got a brand new one and I was just asking him about it, we got to become friends both on Facebook and talking on the phone.
One day I got the courage and I asked him man, who plays for Cody Jinks? And he said well right now nobody, they are going through some lineup changes and nobody was playing for him. Brett was playing for him but it was wearing him down because he was setting up playing with the 78’s doing sound check and playing shows with both bands. I said ask him if he needs a steel player and about six months later in August of 2016 on my birthday I was on my way to work. Brett called me and sang Happy Birthday to me and he said I got you a present and I said what’s that? He said in two weeks you are going to start with Cody Jinks if you want, I said HELL YES so two weeks later I loaded up my steel and headed for Texas and that’s how I started playing with him, and I been with him ever since.
Without giving away secrets what makes up your sound, and what do you different from other people?
My biggest thing is I don’t follow the mainstream steel players, and I’m not taking anything away form them by no means and I learned a lot from them guys like Paul Franklin and Mike Johnson, those guys. But my biggest thing is what Cowboy Eddie Long told me years ago, he said when you play the steel play the way YOU want to play it and play what you hear and that will set you aside from everybody else. I can hear a song and put my own twist on it because I didn’t want to be like everyone else, and I have a unique sound and a style of playing.
The best way to describe it is when Cowboy Eddie did the first two Jamey Johnson records they just set up in the studio and put a microphone up and just played, they didn’t go back and redo anything. That’s what mad me really pull away from mainstream steel guitarists. My tone is really in my guitar, I’m endorsed by BMI and I have been for a year now. We designed this guitar around MY OWN specifications and I feel VERY comfortable behind my guitar. It’s a mix of Eddie Long’s tuning and my own personal tuning and we put custom pickups in it, and it’s MY weapon. It goes back to every steel player since the 1950’s they say it’s in the hands.
What’s your plans for the future, I see you are hitting the road again soon?
We have a lot of stuff going on, this year I believe is going to be the year for Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies. There’s a lot of stuff that is happening right now, you know Cody’s been in it for ten plus years and It’s only March, well we did two tours this year. This last tour we did Conan O Brian and Music City Roots show in Nashville and that wasn’t mainstream TV that’s local in Nashville but Cody said that’s the first time he’s ever done anything like before and of course Conan that was new for all of us.
This year we have shows opening up for Jamey Johnson and we have a few festivals, but we are going into the studio I think sometime in the fall and release a new album. We have already been to the studio a good bit recording a few songs here and there, we did that cover of the Pink Floyd song Wish You Was here, and that actually surprised us all because we had no idea it was even going to be released. We kind of done it as a last minute deal and I think it made it up to number four on the Texas charts and on the national ones I think it made it up to number twenty eight. I couldn’t believe it blew up because there’s not many people who could take a classic rock song and turn it in to a country song and make a hit out of it.
Well you know Whitey Morgan did that with a Springsteen song. I started incorporating more Red Dirt into my website and even though that crowd isn’t embracing Nashville they do really well out here and I’m enjoying it.
Well the Texas music comes back to me and you know people listen to what the radio gives them to listen to and sadly enough they don’t play anything from any of the Texas guys and it’s sad because that to me is music that’s the way I feel. When I get on my motorcycle and take a ride some of the Texas songs like Jason Isbell and Wade Bowen are what get me into my feelings and that’s the kind of stuff that I listen to. It should be played on mainstream radio but they wont because it doesn’t sell to teenagers today I guess unfortunately.
Now I’m getting three to five thousand hits a day and I can’t get over that five thousand mark but people like what I feature.
It’s getting out there and honestly I have been a fan of Cody’s before I even worked with him, just because he has pushed the music out there and he’s trying to get above that Red Dirt scene and sort of branch out and get above and beyond and rise up but he’s staying true to where he came from. That’s what I love about working for him, we do everything our way but our way is the people’s way and that’s what I love about him. They come from all over to the shows and a lot of times we see the same crowd which is awesome, the last show we did in Denver Colorado and there were people there from Tennessee and Arkansas and I had a friend fly in from Georgia to see us. They want that rawness, they don’t want the orchestrated concert that you pay seventy five to a hundred dollars to see and you’re sitting in the nosebleed section. They want to see the rawness of the real deal I guess you could say.
Your Flockers are a very strong following let me tell you,I have had a lot of dealings with them. Let me tell you I’m involved in many scenes being the type of media that I am. I’m in with Bluegrass people and the Muddy Roots people and Americana folks, and they are a pretty dedicated bunch.
They are very dedicated and you know I started right at the end of August and I was number fifteen hundred or sixteen hundred. At that time Cody did not have anything to do with the Flocker group, they started themselves and asked him if they could start a fan group. Cody said go ahead you can run it and do whatever you want to, so it did. Now they are up to twelve or thirteen thousand members and they’re dedicated. They come to every show there’s a least a row of them at every show and it’s awesome I love them, they’re a fun group of people.
At every show there’s always one or two that keep us entertained and they take pictures for us and things like that. They help us like on April the sixth there’s a show in Nashville to honor Merle Haggard, they had posted that they were looking for talent. Man, the Flockers got on there and started blowing it up by posting get Cody Jinks, get Cody Jinks and they had to shut the page down. They were trying so hard to get us on the show.
As a steel guitarist who influenced you the most?
I would probably have to say Cowboy Eddie Long, I don’t know him too good and I have only met him a couple of times but he showed me many things on the steel guitar and I have known him for about a year now. I would have to say the style and the way I play it would have to be Cowboy Eddie. But alongside him would have to be Ralph Mooney, I been listening to Waylon for as long as I can remember. I loved the song Rainy Day Woman and I remember hearing Ralph start it off with that steel, when I first started playing the steel I was venturing more towards Ralph Mooney his tone and his style. He said in an interview one time his style was simple but effective and you know he was with Waylon until the day that he died.
Yes, and he was the first steel guitarist to ever be put in the front line, Ralph Mooney was. Now I notice you sit to Mr. Cody’s left is that the reason you do that?
You know really Cody loves the steel and I watched videos of his past steel players and I wanted also to sit right beside him, and I asked him where do you want me to sit? He said man I need you on the front line so people can hear your leads. That’s another reason I love him he doesn’t care about just him, I don’t care about exposure for me but I love it when people come up and ask hey what is that you’re playing. Cause I’m right up front and everyone sees me and they cannot miss me.
They ask questions and that’s what I love, we were playing a show at the Wescott Theater in Syracuse New York and there was young man that I have pictures of on my Facebook of he was right up front all night. I was watching him study me all night he was probably about ten or eleven and he was just amazed by what I was doing. After the show I was walking out to the bus, and his dad stopped me and just like I asked that guy, he said man what is that you’re playing? I said It’s a pedal steel guitar he said my son was amazed by it and I brought him on the stage and he sat behind it,I let him play it and he said it was so cool.
He was inspired and I’m pretty sure his parents were out a lot of money in those next few days but that’s what I like. I like to be on the front line to inspire as many people I possibly can. I don’t want to say it’s dying but on mainstream country radio, it’s gone. The Texas guys are pulling it out but man I don’t want to see it die.
That’s why I wanted to start this series because there are so many of you in I want to say underground music per say, and there a lot of bands that have steel guitarists but nobody knows about them.
Yeah, probably in the past ten years it’s just dropped out so much and I know everybody rags on Luke Bryan and those guys but you know I worked with him and Luke has a steel player right now but it’s just not headlining like it was back in the day. The one that is promoting it the most right now is Easton Corbin with Jamie Lennon.
I agree with you and I think Jon Pardi is doing it really well too.
Jon’s good his steel player is a good friend of mine Andy Ellison.
Yes,I’m going to get him on this series soon.
And there are several young steel players that I’m friends with on Facebook I haven’t had the opportunity to meet them yet but there is a young kid I think he’s thirteen named Jacob King he’s playing a lot of the Midwest steel guitar shows. They’re great steel players not like when I first started I didn’t even have Youtube to learn by so they got a little advantage on me, I love to see young people playing the steel. I’m still young but I love the younger people sitting down and getting involved with it. And it’s addictive once it starts I want to see them on the Grand Ole Opry.
I’d like to see you on it too, my main goal when I started this website is I want people like Whitey Morgan and Cody Jinks and my daughter who is twenty, I want her to able to say they are Legends when she’s forty. That’s what I want.
Somebody asked me the other day there was some thing that was comparing Cody and Whitey to Waylon and Willie and all that. It comes down to Waylon and Willie and Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard they didn’t get to where they were by following someone else, and that’s what we are doing. We’re doing our own thing and it takes time. Time and exposure is the key and eventually I think everybody is going to get turned on to our music. For Whitey Morgan he’s been at it for a while now and this will be a big year. For all of those guys this year will be the year a lot of people wake up and say hey these guys got something going on.
Another thing with Whitey and Cody and people like Ward Davis, our fans are their fans and vice versa and a lot of time they will go to both shows in one night or two. There’s a circle fans if Whitey’s close they’ll go to his show and if we’re close they’ll go to our show and that’s a great thing. It’s not just we only like this guy or we only like that guy let’s not go to it.
Well every scene is like that, I was going to go see The Reverend Horton Heat and the G damn Gallows but I covered them many times and I decided on Wade Bowen. I am trying to incorporate more of the Texas music into this and even if I have to take off work I’ll do it to get to see people like Sunny Sweeney. She needs to be an Opry member, hell she plays more than some of the members.
Yes, I cannot wait for that day. Brett and I were fortunate enough about three weeks ago to get to see her there. The night before she had her Trophy release at the Basement East. There were several people there Larry Gaitlin and Crystal Gayle and several others were there. When she started it was just Aw Goodness. It made me feel like back in the sixties it was Country Music and that’s what it comes down to. She’s Country Music.
I think with the new management being a woman she might speak to her musically from a different standpoint than a man and I think she has a really good chance. She will speak to her from a whole different level.
I believe so she’s doing a lot of things right. This CD I listened to it before it came out and there’s several songs on there that will go places. When she released that song from a table away it went up the charts and that’s the first song I ever heard her do, and I believe it’s going to be her year as well.
So I suppose a lot of the “important” websites have already put out their statements on Sunny Sweeney’s fourth album Trophy, however I cannot resist following all of them in some aspects. First off I wanted to state that I personally have been on a provocative push toward the Opry organization to induct her as a member. To be honest I believe she deserves to have been bestowed with this accolade for quite some time now. She holds dear the meaning and the tradition of this fine institution more than ninety percent of today’s new artists do.
She throws punches at your jaw through the speakers every time she puts out new material and Trophy her latest release doesn’t fail to continue to do just that. The VERY FIRST note is a steel guitar followed by a painfully slow and poignant song called “Pass The Pain”, that sets the whole ambiance of this album to an intended direction of what Country Music SHOULD sound like. You feel like you have been smacked in the face with a brick with lyrics and vocals that are absolutely astonishing in many ways.
You know much like a few artists of today that I can name I love her so much because her vocal style and delivery sticks out like a rooster wearing socks. Have you ever heard older people say in MY day you could tell different artists from one another like Marty Robbins? WELL with Miss Sunny you get just that and nothing short of unique and different. Call her Traditional Country call her Red Dirt or whatever you want but she defiantly doesn’t sound like anyone else but Sunny Sweeney.
She wrote or co-wrote all but two of the tracks on this album which was produced by Dave Brainard and released on Thirty Tigers label. The album picks up a little bit with the next song “Better Bad Idea” however the lyrics are well written on “Nothing Wrong With Texas” because you FEEL her comfort of home and where she hails from as a person. I think her last album Provoked brought us closer to her as a person to understand where her soul was at that time, and I hope she is healed and happy with her life now. She’s a fantastic person and I always have loved her haughty and clever humor, yet keeps it Country classy.
Pills are a problem with society as a whole wherever you go but it is more prevalent and abused in the Appalachia region, I was reading about an area of West Virginia where a town of 400 have been sent millions of them. As a RA patient I do understand the constant battle of the problem in America. This song “Pills” is a song from her to someone with a pill addiction, that many people will be able to relate to.
“Bottle By My Bed” is the ultimate song of lament and want…for a child. I think many people can equally relate to the want of having a baby, but the clever use of twist on the title was a surprise at first glance and first spin of the album. Being a parent is an amazing thing that you love someone before they even truly exist when they only exist in thought and aren’t yet conceived.
The greatest hero of my life that I have studied more than anyone was Hank Williams. My music loves are just as eclectic as the song here describes and I related to it better than any of the other songs included on this album. I feel like Hank understood me and knew me as a fan thirty years before I was born, much like I described being a parent was in the last paragraph.
The title track “Trophy” was the greatest song of revenge from a current wife to an ex wife that treated the husband like shit. It takes the term Trophy Wife to a whole level and NOBODY sings it better than Sunny Sweeney, this song wouldn’t sound believable from anyone else by any means. I am pretty adamant on this statement THIS ALBUM is probably one of my TOP 5 already before the robins even arrive for spring!