When it comes to this week’s Sunday Selections post, we’re just like Tracy Lawrence: Runnin’ behind.
What started off seeming like a relatively slow news week caught up with us by the weekend, and it turns out there’s plenty of good writing and a slew of interesting interviews to tackle. We’ve got people falling down on stage, children looking for the bathroom in a prison, a country legend serving notice to today’s artists, a surprising and surprisingly effective remix, and a couple of terrific cover tunes. This week’s new releases and reissues are led by no less than five different Willie Nelson projects, along with the return of Gene Watson and a new album from up-and-comers Mount Moriah.
New Releases & Reissues, 2/26/2016
Dave Adkins, Dave Adkins. (Mountain Fever)
The Black Feathers, Soaked To The Bone. (Blue House Music)
Paul Burch, Meridian Rising. (Plowboy)
Bill Carter, Innocent Victims & Evil Companions. (Forty Below)
Caleb Caudle, Carolina Ghost. (This Is American Music)
Merle Haggard, George Jones, & Willie Nelson, Walking The Line (1987). (Epic / Legacy)
Tony Memmel, We’ll Be On The Radio. (ONErpm)
Mount Moriah, How To Dance. (Merge)
Willie Nelson, Make Way For Willie Nelson (1967). (RCA / Legacy)
Willie Nelson, Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. (Legacy Recordings)
Willie Nelson & Webb Pierce, In The Jailhouse Now (1982). (Columbia / Legacy)
Willie Nelson & Hank Snow, Brand On My Heart (1985). (Columbia / Legacy)
Bonnie Raitt, Dig In Deep. (Redwing)
Jeannie C. Riley, Harper Valley P.T.A.: The Plantation Recordings 1968 – 1970. (Charly)
Various Artists, God Don’t Never Change: The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson. (Alligator)
Waco Brothers, Going Down In History. (Bloodshot)
Gene Watson, Real Country Music. (Fourteen Carrot Mind)
Chuck Wicks, Turning Point. (Blaster)
Bob Woodruff, The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain. (Steel Derrick Music)
News & Notes
The legendary Sonny James passed away this week at the age of 87. Friend-of-the-blog Juli Thanki penned a thorough and thoroughly lovely tribute to James for The Tennessean. (JK)
Joey + Rory’s Hymns That Are Important To Us debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums and Top Christian Albums charts and landed at #4 on the overall Billboard 200 chart. (LMW)
“My grandfather pastored a small church and that’s how I got my musical upbringing. I started listening in church to my mom and dad sing. My dad was a classic rock fan and started introducing me to his vinyl collection, with everybody from the Allman Brothers to Jim Croce to Merle Haggard to Willie Nelson. [It’s] just a little map dot where everybody loves everybody and everybody knew everybody. [It was a] cool place to grow up but a cool place to venture out of.”
— Drake White talks about his primary influences and small-town upbringing in an interview with Laurel Hiatt of The Red & Black prior to a gig in Athens, Georgia. (JK)
Chris Stapleton and Maren Morris covered Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” during the first of Stapleton’s three sold-out shows at The Ryman. (LMW)
Vince Gill appeared on a special episode of Kentucky Collectibles, a series on central Kentucky’s local PBS affiliate network, to discuss some of the most noteworthy guitars in his collection and to reflect on his early years working as a musician in Kentucky. (JK)
The great Rodney Crowell wrote the instrumental “Mockingbird Waltz” for the audiobook of the late Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman.
“But the guys, they all sound alike as far as I’m concerned; I can’t tell one from the other unless I’m looking at him. And they all sound like, if you just turn your radio on in the car and you’re listening to the singers, they don’t tell you who’s singing, and you hear one boy after another, you can’t tell the difference. I’m kind of worried that we’re losing country music.”
— Loretta Lynn, spitting the truth about the men of today’s country music scene in an interview with Dan Weiss of Spin. Lynn has high praise for Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, and she covers everything from her upcoming album, Full Circle, and Nirvana covers to her meeting President Obama and her endorsement of Donald Trump’s campaign. It’s Loretta Lynn, speaking her mind. You already know it’s a great read. (JK)
The brilliant R&B artist Miguel released a new remix of his single, “Waves,” with Kacey Musgraves. (JK)
“Just as your lyrics have a grammatical structure, so must your music. Chord progressions propel you forward and punctuate the ends of phrases.“
— David Alzofon of American Songwriter earns an A+ from this song-structure nerd for his piece, “Measure For Measure: We’re Sure Hank Done It This Way,” which gives an in-depth, technical analysis of how the specific structural choices in its songwriting elevate Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” For those who really care about music as a craft, it’s an essential read. (JK)
“Well, in the traditional bluegrass world, it is still a man’s world, I’d say. It’s still definitely got three times as many men playing bluegrass as women. In the big tent of bluegrass, there’s certainly a lot of women included, who have been schooled in traditional bluegrass and then taken off from there. And I think there’s really a lot of women today who are doing great stuff within the broader bluegrass field. What excited me about Hazel and Alice when I first heard them is that they were really true to the style, I thought. They weren’t trying to pretty it up or something.”
— Laurie Lewis spoke to Kim Ruehl of No Depression about her upcoming album, The Hazel And Alice Sessions, a tribute to Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, two influential figures in bluegrass and folk music. (JK)
“We would go in and dad would do his comedy, and he and mum would do a talk in the prison, and then we would get up and sing gospel songs as a family. I can remember my mom saying to my little brother, ‘Todd, when mommy and daddy are on stage, you stay with …’ the Salvation Army lady or whoever had brought us in. ‘You don’t go anywhere by yourself.’ And without fail they’d be onstage singing, and mom would see him get up and go up to a prisoner: ‘I need to go potty.’ She’d be mortified. So there were some heart-stopping moments on the prison performances.”
— Country Universe favorite Tami Neilson recalls her family’s many gigs performing in prisons when she was a child, in a terrific interview with Aaron Brophy of The Bluegrass Station. This all makes her even cooler in our book. (JK)
Our Sam Gazdiak reviewed Wynonna & The Big Noise for Country Standard Time this week! (JK)
“… With a lot of songwriters I listen to, it’s obvious that it’s a story. In a lot of folk and blues music that I really love, it’s obvious that the person singing isn’t the person in the story — and if it is, that’s bad-ass and scary, you know? You listen to Robert Johnson, and it’s like, ‘If this guy’s telling the truth, that’s heavy. But if he’s not, I can still enjoy the story.'”
— Parker Millsap talks about how narrative voice figures into his music with the always-incisive Jewly Hight. Millsap’s new single, “Heaven Sent,” premiered at NPR’s “First Listen.”
“Everyone falls down. And I’m not gonna say something super cheesy about it being about the number of times you get back up. ‘Cause of course you’re gonna get back up. That’s what you do. The point is, people aren’t rooting against you. You don’t have to hide from anyone. They may even be there on the ground to laugh with you about it. Everybody falls down.”
— Kelleigh Bannen, whose “This Nashville Life” blog is always worth reading for insightful first-person perspective as a recording artist, offers some notes about falling down on stage in a week when both Thomas Rhett and Luke Bryan hit the turf. (JK)
In not-good news, producer Tony Brown was arrested for domestic assault for the second time. Brown most recently collaborated with Cyndi Lauper on her upcoming country album. (JK)
The incomparable Neko Case recorded a gorgeous and twangy cover of “Danny’s Song,” a Loggins & Messina song that became a massive hit for Anne Murray, for HBO’s series Vinyl. Sturgill Simpson recorded the series’ theme song.
That will do it for this week! As always, let us know if we missed anything noteworthy in the comments!
Based on the i-Tunes preview, the new Gene Watson album sounds good.
This past Saturday night, I saw Delbert McClinton at the Nashville City Winery. Great show. Beside favorites of mine like “People Just Love to Talk”, he sang 2 songs from a new album and mentioned that he’s looking for a label. I guess if 72 year old Gene Watson can find a label, 75 year old Delbert may also be able to.