Sunday Selections: January 24, 2016

The biggest story of the past week is the death of Glenn Frey, whose work with the Eagles has, for better or worse, influenced multiple generations of country artists. Frey was 67.

Many country stars have taken to social media or to traditional interviews to speak about Frey’s legacy, and it’s clear that respect for his musicianship runs deep within the country, rock, and pop music communities.

Elsewhere this week, there’s a fairly light slate of new albums to check out– on first listen, the Green River Ordinance album sounds promising– and, as ever, a whole bunch of Chris Stapleton news. Miranda Lambert addressed her “shitty” 2015 and performed a lovely new-to-her song, and a slew of legends and A-listers banded together to pay tribute to the inimitable Kris Kristofferson. The legendary Dwight Yoakam and newcomer Aubrie Sellers both talked about artists they admire, Lindi Ortega endorses basic science over sexism, and 90s stars Jessica Andrews and Trick Pony announced unexpected returns.



Green River Ordinance
New Releases & Reissues, 1/22/2016

The Cactus Blossoms, You’re Dreaming (Red House)
Green River Ordinance, Fifteen (Residence Music)
Aoife O’Donovan, In The Magic Hour (Yep Roc)
The Pines, Above The Prairie (Red House)

News and Notes

Dolly Parton celebrated her 70th birthday this past Monday. We’re still waiting for her birthday to be declared the national holiday that, by all rights, it should be. During the 1976 season of her variety show, The Dolly Show, she performed a great cover of what I’d say is easily the best of The Eagles’ songs, “Lyin’ Eyes.” (JK)

“Here’s a guy that was one of the biggest rock stars of our generation that was never, ever too big of a star in his own mind to stop and talk and encourage and acknowledge anybody, regardless of their stature in the business. He didn’t have to do that, and that’s a great lesson not only for me but anybody in this business: to never get above your raising.”
— Travis Tritt, speaking about Glenn Frey’s approach to encouraging other artists. As the story goes, it was Tritt’s desire and request for the Eagles to appear in the video for his cover of “Take It Easy” that reunited the legendary band after 14 years of an acrimonious split. (LMW)

“I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever…”
— Don Henley, in a moving statement on the passing of his Eagles bandmate. (LR)

“Henley might’ve provided the Eagles with ballast but Frey gave the Eagles lightness, adding a bit of a soulful lilt while maintaining allegiance to the driving rock and roll of his native Detroit.”
— Steven Thomas Erlewine argues in an in-depth article for Vulture that it was Frey who was the true leader of the Eagles. (LR)

“We are so saddened to hear about the passing of Glenn Frey. The Eagles have been a big musical influence for us and, on a more personal level, supporters of our music and what we’re about. We had the honor of playing many shows with them and getting to know Glenn a little beyond just being a fan. On stage, he was a leader, a perfectionist, and the consummate musician. Off stage, he was a family man and philanthropist who cared about people and community. Mahalo, Glenn.”
— The Dixie Chicks’ official statement about their connection to Frey.


Jessica AndrewsJessica Andrews and her husband, fellow country artist Marcel Chagnon, purchased the masters for Andrews’ shelved Dreamworks album, Ain’t That Life, and have just released it… 12 years after it was recorded. (LMW)

Singer-songwriter Hayes Carll, currently a Grammy nominee for having written “Chances Are,” which Lee Ann Womack covered for The Way I’m Livin’, premiered a new song, “The Love That We Need,” via ThirtyTigers’ soundcloud page. Carll’s latest album, Lovers and Leavers, is due on April 8th. (JK)

“He did it all with such dignity and grace, and I think that’s an absolutely overwhelming illustration of what the definition of an artist is, through and through, and in David’s case, he did that all the way to his dying breath. He just kept giving art to audiences.”
— Dwight Yoakam, speaking to Kelli Skye Fadroski of The Orange County Register, talks about his admiration for the late David Bowie and the release of his latest album, the chart-topping Blackstar, just days before his death. (JK)

There will be a Kris Kristofferson tribute concert that will feature artists such as Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Dierks Bentley, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Jamey Johnson, Trisha Yeawrood, and more. It will be taped at Bridgestone Arena on March 16. (LMW)


Miranda Lambert gives a raw performance of “Scars,” a song that her long-time band member (and Collin Raye’s brother!) Scotty Wray wrote. In the intro to the performance, she says that, while she’s loved the songs for years, the personal events of 2015 have finally made her feel connected enough to the song for it to be believable for her to sing it. Here’s hoping it makes it onto her next album! (LMW)

Henry Carrigan of No Depression provided a round-up of recent music-related books worth picking up. Which, for those of us who are blizzard-ed in, is a most valuable list, indeed. (JK)

Chris Stapleton and Hank Williams, Jr., will co-headline an 8-day amphitheater tour this summer. The tour will expose Stapleton to possible audiences of 15000 – 20000 per venue. (LMW)

Aubrie Sellers, whose New City Blues is one of 2016’s most anticipated albums, told Lorie Liebig of Wide Open Country that the country song that most influenced her as an artist is Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road.” (JK)

“Well, thank you, and I want to say good afternoon on this Monday to all our good friends and listeners north of the border, up into Canada, all across Western New York State, down among those beautiful hills of northern Pennsylvania – and hey, don’t we have some good music lined up for today, so just sit back, turn your radio up a little bit louder …”
— This is how Ramblin’ Lou Schriver would open his regular radio program on WXRL, the AM station he owned and operated for almost 50 years in Lancaster, NY. Often described as the soul of country music in Western New York, Schriver died last Sunday at the age of 86. Mary Kunz Goldman’s obituary for’s Gusto charts an extraordinary, multi-faceted musical life and contains a great Hank Williams story. (LR)


Sierra HullJewly Hight seems to be writing everywhere these days– and we certainly can’t complain about that! She previewed Weighted Mind by mandolin prodigy Sierra Hull for NPR. The album will be released next Friday but is available to stream via NPR until then. (JK)

“A reviewer claims me wearing a short skirt on stage is the reason I have a cold. I invite reviewer to study the science of the cold virus… Said reviewer also claims I’ll get a bladder infection from wearing a short skirt. Science is your friend sir. Educate yourself.”
— Lindi Ortega may be suffering from a cold, but she does not suffer fools. We adore her. (JK)

We’ll admit that we missed the fact that Trick Pony reunited in 2014. Now a duo– Ira Dean departed again shortly after the reunion– they’ll release a new EP, Pony Up, on February 26th. (JK)

I mean, I’m a side man. It’s what I planned to be and what I’m happy to be.”
— The legendary Spooner Oldham, in an exceptional interview with and profile by Carena Liptak of American Songwriter. Oldham has performed on countless classic country, rock, and soul records since the 1960s. Some of his most recent work has been with country-rock powerhouse Drive-By Truckers. (JK)

On January 28th, Kelsea Ballerini will be one of the “special guests” alongside pop singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson on an episode of Skyville Live starring Cyndi Lauper. In addition to her classic pop singles, Lauper is expected to perform tracks from her upcoming country album, Detour, which includes covers of country songs from the 50s and 60s. (BF)


Reba debuted a stunning video for her latest single, “Just Like Them Horses.” It’s really saying something that both the video and the single rank among the very best of her storied career. Look for a full review in the coming days. (JK)

Sean Watkins (of Nickel Creek, Fiction Family, and most recently The Watkins Family Hour) released a politically-charged new single this week, the title track to his forthcoming album, What to Fear. (JK)

“In reality, country becoming smaller and less popular is actually a good thing. It means less playing to the middle and more quality. When country music is a niche genre as opposed to this watered-down, mediocre ooze that’s slimed it’s way all over EDM and hip-hop and pop before making its way back to country, it’s just better.”
— Amy McCarthy of The Dallas Observer, in the provocatively-titled, “Why Country’s Decline in Popularity Is Actually A Really, Really Good Thing.” McCarthy makes some good observations about the genre’s steep decline in sales of both albums and digital singles from 2014 to 2015, and she points to the successes of Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Aaron Watson as harbingers of change. Of course, how all of this speculation plays out in 2016 remains to be seen, as there are two or three Chris Lanes for every Chris Stapleton at radio… (JK)

And we’ll end with Stapleton for this week. He overcame the notoriously garbage sound specs at 30 Rock during his Saturday Night Live gig to give killer performances of two tracks from Traveller. First, he performed “Parachute”:

Then his wife Morgane Stapleton and producer Dave Cobb had greater presence on his performance of current single “Nobody to Blame”:

That will do it for this week! If you haven’t already done so, check out Ben’s recent reviews of new singles by Jana Kramer and Chris Young featuring Cassadee Pope! And, as always, let us know in the comments section if there’s a good story that we missed.



  1. Since you mention music related books, here’s another my wife found of facebook this morning. Maybe I’ll ask her to give it to me for my 70th bd.

    Georgia Middleman on Facebook:

    Spent this gorgeous winter day finishing Bobby Braddock’s “A Life on Nashville’s Music Row.” What a book! I moved to Nashville in 1992 and while I was familiar with the names of some of these famous people on Music Row from decades past, Bobby brought them to life for me for the first time. I remember being a student in an ASCAP songwriting workshop in the mid-90’s where Bobby had once said (and I’m paraphrasing:) “Because music is always derivative and the blending of other people’s styles, if you’re going to write, make sure you know the roots and let that be the core from whence you start.” I feel I have a little better understanding of my country songwriting “roots” after having read this book.

    Once the book got into the late 1990’s and started telling stories involving people I had business dealings with, it got really interesting (and a little tough) to read…’cause I was there and experienced some of what he was talking about. The good and the bad.

    An honest, funny and moving book chronicling a songwriting legend’s journey in country music, this should be required reading for every aspiring singer/songwriter out there.

  2. Linda Ronstadt, around whom the Eagles coalesced as her backing band in 1971, had this to say about Glenn Frey as well:

    He had a clear idea of the story he wanted to tell, and he could tell it by just digging into his guitar. He had plenty of talent, but he also had raw nerve and gumption. There are a lot of pushy people out there who have nothing to back it up. But Glenn knew when to make his move. He was incredibly brave. And what he did resonated with the world.

  3. Somehow it strikes me as ridiculous (if not criminal) that various country music sites (and artists) have fawned over the deaths of David Bowie (who had NO connection to country music and distained the genre) and Glenn Frey (who was tangential, at best, to the genre) and missed noting that Curtis Potter, one of the greatest singers ever to grace the country music landscape, passed away this weekend at the age of 75.

  4. Jonathan gave appropriate acknowledgement to the deaths of Bowie and Frey – particularly the latter, whose influence in country music is well-established – but if one considers this to be “fawning”, then their definition of the term is far broader than mine. Country artists are, of course, free to fawn over any death they wish regardless of the person’s level of importance to country music.

  5. I was not singling out Jonathan, so apparently you did not read my post carefully.

    I agree the Eagles were influential leading us to Rascal Flatts and bro-country. Just wonderful

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