Sunday Selections: August 28, 2016

We’re saving this week’s best story for last.

Seriously. We’re not even going to tip our hand with the set “featured image” for the post. You’ll just have to wait for it, but it has been a real bright spot for this entire week.

That bit of secrecy aside… This week offers bits of hyperawareness from the likes of Dierks Bentley, Jack Ingram, and John Paul White, alongside announcements from Charlie Worsham, The Time Jumpers, and Drake White. Miranda Lambert brought a slew of special guests on stage for her encores at her show this week, while Lauren Alaina was chosen for some promotion that looks to re-ignite her career at radio. And Juli Thanki wrote an exceptional piece, which includes interviews with Jeannie Seely, about the efforts to induct the late Dottie West into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

This week’s new releases are led by a Florida Georgia Line album that is sure to please fans of AutoTune and their particular brand of post-bro country, Ingram’s latest, and several noteworthy John Denver reissues. Oh, and a 14-disc set of Hee Haw. Which, love it or cringe at its corn-pone humor, has a pretty significant place in

Ingram Midnight MotelNew Releases & Reissues, 8/26/2016
Charlie Daniels, Nighthawk. (BFD)
John Denver, Poems, Prayers, & Promises (1971), Rocky Mountain High (1972), and Back Home Again (1974). (Night Fever)
The Devil Makes Three, Redemption & Ruin. (New West)
Florida Georgia Line, Dig Your Roots. (Big Machine)
Gaither Vocal Band, Better Together. (GMG)
Hee Haw: The Collector’s Edition (14-disc DVD/BRD set). (Time Life)
Hollis Brown, Cluster of Pearls. (Alive Naturalsound)
Jack Ingram, Midnight Motel. (Rounder)
Liz Longley, Weightless. (Sugar Hill)
The Price Sisters, The Price Sisters. (Rebel Recordings)

Alaina Road Less TraveledCharted Territory
Billboard Country National Airplay:
#1: Dan + Shay, “From the Ground Up”
Most Increased Audience: Kelsea Ballerini, “Peter Pan”
Debuts: Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (#48); Lauren Alaina, “Road Less Traveled” (#57); Toby Keith, “A Few More Cowboys” (re-entry, #58), Chase Rice, “Everybody We Know Does” (#60).
Most Added: RaeLynn, “Love Triangle” (25); Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (23); Luke Bryan, “Move” (21); Tim McGraw, “How I’ll Always Be” (18); Florida Georgia Line feat. Tim McGraw, “May We All” (18).
Notes: Last week’s #1, Jon Pardi’s “Head Over Boots,” takes a huge hit in audience and tumbles all the way to #9; once “Fix” goes recurrent next week, Tucker Beathard’s nearly unlistenable “Rock On,” which is knocking on the door of the top 10 at #11, will easily hold the title for the worst song on the chart; Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” re-enters the top 20 (#22 to #19) in its fifth chart week; we still think it’s better as a pop song, but Maren Morris’ “80s Mercedes” continues a steady climb, up to #27; Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute” (#34) and Chris Janson’s “Holdin’ Her” (#36) both posted gains of 3 spots this week; Alaina’s single should post a huge gain next week, as “Road Less Traveled” has been named the next iHeartMedia “On The Verge” pick for additional promotion; both Old Dominion and Parmalee are struggling with their latest singles– the former’s “Beer Can in a Truck Bed” is at #53 after 18 weeks, while the latter’s “Roots” inches up to #52 after a full four months on the chart (Note: As Raymond caught in the comments, “Beer Can in a Truck Bed” has managed to chart for 18 weeks as an album track, which is a fairly rare occurrence these days; Old Dominion’s current single, “Song for Another Time,” moves up to #26 in its 11th chart week).

Elsewhere on Billboard‘s radio charts:
Not a great week for country and country-adjacent acts at AAA radio, as The Lumineers, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, and Shovels & Rope all lost total spins and Drive-By Truckers’ “Surrender Under Protest” only picked up 2 more station adds; Blackberry Smoke’s “Believe You Me” and The White Stripes’ “City Lights” both gained 5 adds, however;  Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.” holds at #21 at Adult Top 40 for a second week and came within 2 spins of cracking the top 25 at Adult Contemporary radio; on that chart, Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” re-bullets at #15; Hillary Scott & The Scott Family’s “Thy Will” post the most increased audience at Christian radio and moves up from #5 to #2.

DierksNews & Notes

“I was making great records, but my mentality shifted after the bluegrass record. It had to, because I knew that record wasn’t going to help touring at all. This was going to be a record that wasn’t going to help anything at all, just something that I had to do. From there forward, I really just tried to make great albums and let the albums be what they’re going to be, and touring be totally separate from the album, and not try to write a song that would be good for the stage, or find a[n album] title what would work also well as a title for a tour. I’d just separate the two. And it made great records.”
— Dierks Bentley pretty well crushed any lingering hopes for a follow-up to Up On The Ridge as part of an in-depth profile by Maura Johnston for Esquire. Bentley emphasized throughout that his live shows have become, to him, the most important aspect of his career, and that he intends to continue to try to create albums that are more conducive to the atmosphere he has built for his concerts. (JK)

“I’m hyperaware that there are people quick to dismiss me as a country frat rocker, mainstream ass shaker, or wannabe Guy Clark… I’ve been all three. But nobody can say I didn’t put in my ten thousand hours, that I didn’t do the work. You can’t just pick up the guitar and try to do what I do. At twenty, that’s impossible. And at forty-five, you can’t take it away from me.”
— Jack Ingram got self-(hyper)aware as part of an astute profile by Andy Langer of Texas Monthly. Langer and Ingram dissect his persona and evolution from frat-country to the troubadour style of his latest album, Midnight Motel. (TS)

Drake White is rapidly becoming one of our favorite mainstream acts. This week, he invited ABC News to join him on the road for his “Livin’ the Dream, Givin’ the Dream” tour, in which he made stops at five different charity organizations across the country in the span of 24 hours. (JK)

Miranda Lambert has been closing her recent live shows with a melancholy cover of Linda Ronstadt’s “Willin’.” And at her tour stop in Bangor, Maine, this past week, she was joined on both that song and a rousing rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee” by Kip Moore, Brothers Osborne, and Anderson East. (JK)

“We were the (type of) friends that could talk on the phone at 2 a.m… When I had my really bad car accident in 1977, Dottie was there as much as she possibly could be, helping me through that time. After I got out of the hospital and was homebound, one time, she drove me out to her place just for a change of scenery… After her accident, I remember sitting at the hospital with her sister and just thinking how helpless I felt that I could not return that. There was nothing I could do. It was the most helpless I believe I’ve ever felt.”
— Jeannie Seely spoke about the aftermath of Dottie West’s fatal car accident and her friendship with West as part of a must-read-as-ever piece by Juli Thanki of The Tennessean. Thanki profiles the growing movement to enshrine West as part of the Country Music Hall Of Fame– a recognition that many feel is long overdue– and an upcoming ceremony in which Seely and Ron Harman will commemorate the site of West accident. (JK)

Charlie Worsham– who really needs to release his sophomore album, stat– will join The Time Jumpers and Patty Loveless (!!) on September 25th for a free concert in Nashville to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. (JK)

And speaking of The Time Jumpers, they just released a music video for their single, “I Miss You.” (JK)

“I was in it to win it. I’d already been fighting to get up the ladder for so long. If a venue wanted us to play, we’d do it. It was all for taking that next step up the ladder. I think one of those years, we were home for 40 days out of the entire year, and I’ve got a pretty good feeling that some of those days were spent in Nashville, and not at home. And I wanted to be that busy. But I could never do that again. I have a completely different kind of bucket list now.”
— John Paul White spoke to Andrew Leahey of Rolling Stone about his new solo album, Beulah, and the fatigue that set in as part of the touring schedule from his stint as one-half of The Civil Wars. (JK)

NPR’s Ann Powers previews Dwight Yoakam’s soon-to-be-released album of Bluegrass covers of some of his hits, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…, and gives us a chance to hear “These Arms” from the album. (LMW)

In what may be the very best story of the year, “Great Big Story” has released an animated video about the time that Ray Charles beat Willie Nelson in a game of chess. You are most welcome. (JK)

That will do it for this week! If you haven’t done so already, check out our “If We Ran the CMAs” post. And let us know in the comments if there’s anything noteworthy we’ve missed!

13 Comments

  1. Actually Old Dominion current single is “Song For Another Time”. “Beer Can In A Truck Bed” is just getting curiosity spins.

    Please review “Road Less Traveled” by Lauren Alaina. It’s one of my favorite songs on the radio and I’d love to see what Country Universe thinks.

  2. Hee Haw was a staple in my house growing up. It was one of my Dad’s favorite shows and we watched it every Saturday evening. Every major country star sang on Hee Haw – Haggard, Loretta, Conway, George & Tammy, Kenny Rogers, Dolly, Johnny & June, Garth, Crystal, Waylon, Hank Jr, Donna Fargo, and many more.

  3. @Raymond

    Good catch on the Old Dominion single: There are several other songs in that section of the chart that I’ve been focused on, and that one completely slipped below my radar!

  4. I absolutely loved the article on the great Dottie West. I can’t believe she isn’t already in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Hopefully this will be a successful movement to get her in.

    I was so excited in 1981 when Are You Happy Baby hit #1, proving that she didn’t have to rely on Kenny Rogers to have a hit record. She could do it all by herself.

  5. Oh it’s no big deal Jonathan. I just pointed it out because I figured why not have this article be as factual as possible.

    P.S Please review “Road Less Traveled” it is one of the better songs on radio by far and I am curious to see your guys overall thoughts on Lauren Alaina.

  6. Linda Ronstadt’s version of Willin’ is excellent but the song was written by Lowell George and first recorded by Little Feat.

  7. @ Dave
    Indeed, Ronstadt’s version of the song wasn’t the first recording; I credited it to her in this case because Lambert has said that her performance of the song is in tribute to Ronstadt.

    @ Raymond

    I’ve been working on a review of the Alaina single but haven’t had an opportunity to complete it. Full disclosure, though: I don’t love it.

  8. Re. “Willing”–For anyone who’s interested, I did have it on my 2009 list of 25 Favorites from Linda:

    http://www.countryuniverse.net/2009/02/13/favorite-songs-by-favorite-artists-linda-ronstadt/

    And while it is a cover song (and as many people have pointed out, gratuitously in my opinion, that most of Linda’s songs are), Linda did know both Lowell and his band Little Feat on a personal basis in the Los Angeles country-rock scene of the early 1970s, and Lowell gave her the song for her consideration, showing how much respect she had among her peers then, and how much more she has now, even though she can no longer sing.

  9. That’s fine Jonathan. As long as “Road Less Traveled” gets a C or higher I’ll be happy. I just love the message behind it!

  10. @ Jonathan – Understood.

    @ Erik – Excellent list. I would have included Hey Mister, that’s me up on the jukebox. But not sure what I would have left out.

  11. Bluegrass artist have their own Hall of Fame so I don’t regard the likes of the Stanley Brothers or Jimmy Martin as being very surprising oversights of the Country Music Hall of Farm.

    To me the most glaring omissions are Bradley Kincaid and The Maddox Brothers & Rose. After that I would place Jerry Reed, Lloyd Green, Weldon Myrick, Johnny Paycheck, Tanya Tucker and Dallas Frazier. I can make a good cases for Joe Maphis & Rose Lee, Jimmie Bryant, Speedy West, Jack Greene and David Houston as well as for Jeannie Seely, Dottie West, Melba Montgomery.

  12. @PWD

    I’m honestly not sure what you’re responding to. No one here was advocating for the Stanley Brothers or Jimmy Martin, and they aren’t mentioned in the Tennessean piece about Dottie West. Is there a similar movement to get those acts enshrined in the CMHoF?

    I’m 100% on board with your list of notable omissions from the Hall, though I would probably go to bat for West before Tucker, as much as I personally prefer Tucker’s catalogue.

  13. One thing that I am curious about with respect to Miranda covering “Willing”: Up until this point, I don’t recall her ever saying whether Linda ever had the kind of influence on her that so many other female singers in the genre claim Linda has had on them. If anyone can find anything on this, I’d be happy to see it.

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