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In November, 2011 the 12th Annual Native American Music Awards (Nammys) were announced at a gala show and concert in New York. ... One artist who really stood out was Shane Yellowbird. Yellowbird grew up in Hobbema, Alberta and is Cree. He exploded onto the country music scene in 2006 with the release of his debut album Life is Calling My Name...
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Gary Clark has taken the rock and blues world by storm. He was heralded by Rolling Stone as “the best young gun” and by the Seattle Weekly as “a musical force to be reckoned with, a serious songwriter and a [expletive deleted] of a guitar player,” and he deserves every accolade you could ever dream up.
Rhine as in Rhine River. These cowboys from Berlin are hugely popular in Germany, and are selling out concerts through much of Central Europe and Britain with their blend of country, rockabilly boogie and plain old good time rock and roll. OK, some sex appeal doesn’t hurt either. In their new CD, The Boys have teamed up with Nena, of 99 Red Balloons fame. I had the hots for Nena in the early 80s and it appears she has only gotten better with age.
Long years in the Big Apple have neither extinguished that Texas twang, nor the torch Norah Jones carries for country. “I love playing country music,” she says. “More than any other genre, it makes me feel at home.” That from a jazz artist who has sold over 40 million albums since her stunning debut in 2002.
OK, be honest with me. When is the last time you heard a Christmas Carol with a riff from Sweet Home Alabama thrown in for good measure? There’s only one entertainer alive who can pull off a stunt like that and make it sound absolutely natural and exceedingly stylish at the same time.
It’s impossible to ignore Tennessee Ernie Ford’s rich and booming baritone, but it’s Ford’s son, Brion, who steals the show here, “Bless his little pea picken heart!” This clip is taken from a 1957 Christmas edition of “The Ford Show”… three guesses which automaker sponsored it … Ford (the singer not the carmaker) was at the height of his popularity, just two years after the smash hit ‘Sixteen Tons’ made him a household name.
What a gorgeous little gem. There’s a touching innocence in this ballad, a simple and wondrous tale of two souls uniting at Christmas, the joy of the moment and the promise of many more to come. And Lee Ann Womack tells the story perfectly.
Something tells me the trio of blonds that makes up Lucy Angel is anything but… and still, their light-hearted rip-off of Mr. Sandman is absolutely infectious, a boisterous rollick that somehow tiptoes a magic fine line...sexy and sweet and fairly bursting with Christmas spirit.
I heard a song the other night that stayed in my ears long after the evening ended. It was called Goodnight Loving Trail, by U. Utah Phillips - aka Bruce Phillips, aka University of Utah Phillips, aka The Golden Voice of the Great Southwest. Phillips was a one-of-a-kind singer and songwriter who wrote of the trials of working people, union members, Wobblies, hoboes and down and out citizens of all stripes. Studs Terkel said of Phillips that he was “A Bard who gives us joy and hope.”
The New York Times characterizes it as ‘the original Spaghetti Western.’ Fanciulla del West – The Girl of the Golden West. Enrico Caruso was cast in the lead role as a road agent with a heart of gold and Emmy Destinn embodied a bible-toting innocent with a talent for poker and a taste for whiskey. Conducted by Toscanini, the opening night audience was so enthralled that the cast returned for an astounding 55 curtain calls.
Originally written in 1934, Don’t Fence Me In languished in song limbo for a full ten years before it was heard by much of anyone – except for Cole Porter and maybe his mother. Porter had written the song for a film - Adios Argentina - that was never released. ...
My gut feeling is that Ghost Riders in the Sky was inspired by a western cloudburst, one that echoes off the mountaintops and where the lightning rips great holes in the firmament. The author, Stan Jones says the lyrics are based on a tale a cowboy told him when he was a young lad.
This classic by The Doors was inspired by Ghost Riders in the Sky and you can hear the similarities through all seven minutes, right down to the raindrops falling from Ray Manzarek’s synthesizer. This is a ghostly tale chock full of disturbing imagery…”there’s a killer on the road…” every boy who came of age in the 70s knows the line that comes next…an allusion to a hitchhiker that murdered an entire family.
The storyteller in the Long Black Veil speaks to us from beyond the grave, seeking forgiveness for an act of betrayal which he expiated by giving up his life, hung for a murder he didn't commit, going to his grave to safe keep the terrible truth that could have proved his innocence.
But frankly the scariest thing about this clip is that the beautiful Emmylou Harris appears to be ageless …
If you haven’t seen the movie, it may seem less like Halloween and more like a tribute to the roots of country music. But those of us who have watched ‘Deliverance’ know Dueling Banjos is an ominous and downright creepy portent of terrible trouble right around the next bend in the river. It’s as if that banjo-picking kid already knows what’s in store for these too smart city slickers. And he ain’t talking.
A few days ago I was musing about the maddening mind game of interpreting lyrics that just don't quite tell the whole story. Ode to Billie Joe is the absolute template for songs that leave out that critical piece of the puzzle. Paul McCartney may not be dead but Billie Joe sure as hell is. The question to this day remains, what happened?
A poem long before it was a ballad, The Streets of Laredo is more sad than frightful, but the image of a cowboy wrapped in white linen... 'cold as the clay' yet walking the streets of a hot, dusty border town...goose bumps and sleepless nights guaranteed. Don Edwards does the best version I've heard in years…
There are some country songs out there that send a chill up my spine every time and no matter how often I hear them. It's the ones that don't quite tell the whole story that get to me most...the ones that haunt you of an evening as you turn the lyrics over and over trying to make sense of the mystery. Dolly Parton did it with 'Jolene' and country crossover artist Mindy Smith covers the song beautifully...dare we say, hauntingly?
Carl T. Sprague – not exactly a name you associate with a hit record, but Sprague is the name of the man who recorded the first cowboy/country ‘hit.’ In 1925, the young Texan traveled to Camden, New Jersey to record ‘When the Work’s All Done This Fall.’ The song went on to become a huge hit, selling over 900,000 copies (a recording was considered successful in those days if it sold 5,000).
Camping in the desert is a mind-altering experience. The pure silence, except for the murmur of wind; the infinite space, extending beyond anything you can see or hear; and the unyielding, unseeing mass all around you, indifferent to your human feelings and desires – they all seep into you and change you in indescribable ways. When you’re sitting there on a flat stone in front of your tiny fire, you think: there must be a sound somewhere that captures this experience of the desert. ...
“Neko Case turned up 40 years too late to be one of the great country voices of the fifties.” - Rolling Stone
On her website Neko exclaims that she can’t believe she’s got her own rock band. I wonder how difficult it would be to convince her she doesn’t. When I give her a listen (on a daily basis) I hear nothing but old school, traditional, honest to God country. Need some more proof?
Ever hear of Frankie Ballard? Probably not. ... Ballard is a young man from Battle Creek, Michigan (where they make Special K and Rice Krispies) who is definitely making a place for himself in the Country Music scene. This year, he’s going to be the opening act for Taylor Swift’s U.S. tour (hard to get much better than that) ...
John Wallace 'Captain Jack' Crawford was a legend of the old west. A cross between a mountain man, a scout, a soldier and a poet, Crawford (1847-1917) was one of the most popular performers in the west, and by the end of his life a genuine celebrity.
This old porch is like a big old red and white Hereford Bull Standing under a mesquite tree And he just keeps on playing hide and seek With that hot august sun Just a-sweatin' and a-pantin' Cause his work is never done
This past November, the 12th Annual Native American Music Awards (Nammys) were announced at a gala show and concert in New York. ... One artist who really stood out was Shane Yellowbird. Yellowbird grew up in Hobbema, Alberta and is Cree. He exploded onto the country music scene in 2006 with the release of his debut album Life is Calling My Name...
As I've said in this column, my best source right now for new country music is a little radio station in Fort Worth, Texas: KFWR (aka "The Ranch"). They play music by Texas artists ONLY -- and, frankly, it's the only kind of country music I listen to these days.
They've been featuring a singer-songwriter who's really caught my attention -- Sean McConnell. Near as I can tell, he grew up in the Boston area and is now based in Austin. He's written songs for some of my favorite Texas groups, including "In My Arms Instead" ...
My wife and I grew up in different states – she in a small town in Montana, and I in a middle class subdivision of Salt Lake City. But we each had a favorite album that we listened to over and over as children. And we discovered a little while ago that it was the same album: Cool Water by The Sons of the Pioneers.
Patsy Cline was killed in a small plane crash near Cambden, Tennessee on March 05, 1963. She was just 30 years old. Just days before, she'd told her friends, Dottie West and June Carter of a sense of impending doom and had even written out a will on a piece of Delta Airlines stationary. One always wonders what could have been...but then again, her musical legacy is sublime.
I can still remember when I first heard Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. My sister and I were riding in the back seat of our family’s Ford Fairlane. Ring of Fire came on the radio – we were listening to KNAK – and by the end of the song, all four of us were trying to sing along with the chorus. My dad had a barrel-chest kind of voice – a little like Cash’s – and he was the only one who could get the deep notes of ‘and it burns, burns, burns.’ It is one of those memories that just stay lodged in your brain.
My best source for "Texas Country" is a radio station in Fort Worth, KFWR. I stream them on the net. This station plays music by Texas bands ONLY -- no Nashville "Top 40," as they derisively refer to it. They're such purists that they won't even play George Strait (too mainstream, I guess). Texas music has a harder edge than does the mass-market stuff. The bass, drums and guitars stand out more in the mix so many of the songs have a rock sound. But the important thing is that this music sounds AUTHENTIC, like good country music always should.
Dolly Parton has always been a consumate performer, but it may come as a surprise to some that she is also an accomplished songwriter. She wrote a remarkable number of hits, including Jolene, Nine to Five, All I Can Do, and of course, I Will Always Love You, our choice for the Number 1 Country Love Song of All Time.
Possibly the best known of all of Cline’s hits, Crazy was written by Willie Nelson in 1961, while he was still a young musician. ... Cline originally disliked Crazy, claiming it was too difficult to sing. ... Listening to this version, it’s difficult to imagine that Cline found the song difficult.
Maybe it’s the wild life he’s lived, but there is a tone in Willie Nelson’s voice that makes him sound like a thousand year old soul who’s seen everything in the world and has the wisdom to show for it.