Author: Ken Paulson

The Deep Dark Woods: The Place I Left Behind

By Ken Paulson —It’s too easy to compare a Canadian band to The Band, but in the case of the Deep Dark Woods, it’s also inescapable. The sonic resemblance is most apparent on murder saga “The Ballad of Frank Dupree,” but the Deep Dark Woods also mine The Band’s terrain of days long past, regrets and remembrances. Listening to The…

Matthew Sweet at 30A Songwriters Festival

Matthew Sweet opened the afternoon show at the 30A Songwriters Festival with a set that drew heavily from his breakthrough 1991 album Girlfriend. Sweet joked that the girlfriend was now 21 and old enough to drink. It was a tough setting for Sweet. Most of the crowd had come to see the Bangles, and though there’s some stylistic common ground,…

30A Songwriters Festival releases schedule

The 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has just released its performance schedule for this weekend, Jan. 13-15. You’ll find it in PDF form here. Top draws on opening night will include the Psycho Sisters (former Continental Drifters Susan Cowsill and Vicki Peterson), David Olney, David Ryan Harris, Steve Forbert, Indigo Girl Amy Ray, John Oates, Corey Smith…

Rounder, New West, Lost Highway top Americana labels

Among the joys of Americana music is the range of artists and labels. Indie labels often break through, leading to dark horses and pleasant surprises. Yet this year’s Americana Music Association list of the top 100 albums from November 16, 2010 through November 14, 2011, serves as a reminder that the bigger labels still play a major role. An analysis…

Jody Miller on Epic: Remembering the “Queen of the House”

“Answer” songs rarely launch careers. These records — far more common in the ’60s than today — “answered” hit records of the day, responding to a current hit in theme and sound in hopes of riding the coattails of an established record. Most of these novelty songs vanished quickly, but there were rare exceptions. Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who…

Chuck Mead goes “Back to the Quonset Hut”

One of the coolest sites in Nashville is rarely seen by the public. The legendary Quonset Hut was once the most prominent studio on Music Row, the home of such recordings as “King of the Road,” “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces.” In the ‘80s, it was converted into office space, a disturbing fate for what was once a magical…

Kenny Vaughan on “V”

Kenny Vaughan, guitarist for Marty Stuart’s Fabulous Superlatives, had a nice run on the Americana music radio chart with V, his solo debut. He says Stuart encouraged him to record the album so he would have something to sell at shows. In this interview backstage at the very noisy Mercy Lounge in Nashville, Vaughan talks about how he put the…

New holiday albums you haven’t heard

It’s just five days until Christmas, but thanks to digital delivery, there’s still time to buy a fresh batch of holiday music. Among recent releases of note: – David Mead and Bill DeMain (of Swan Dive) have teamed up on Instant December, a five-song EP that is melodic, endearing and a little twisted. From the subtle sadness of “Christmas Eve…

Review: The Great Unknowns’ “Homefront”

Sometimes you back into the meaning of an album. I first heard the D.C.-based  “Great Unknowns’ Home Front after meeting Altay Guvench, bass player for the the band, at the Americana Music Festival. He gave me an early promotional copy, which meant no liner notes, lyrics or press release. And so I listened. I heard a solid band, a tasteful blend of…

Dobie Gray: An appreciation

Obituaries reporting the death of Dobie Gray this week focused on his big hit “Drift Away” and his ’60s breakthrough “The In Crowd.” The casual observer might be left with the impression that Gray was a one-hit wonder in two successive decades. The truth is that Dobie Gray was something of a pioneer, an African-American coming to Nashville and working…

Suzy Bogguss interview: Revisiting classic songs

Suzy Bogguss is appearing this afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame, performing Christmas music, songs she recorded with Chet Atkins and presumably material from her latest album, American Folk Songbook. Songbook is an ambitious collection of traditional songs that have resonated with several generations. Boggus keeps it simple, singing warmly and with obvious affection for songs like “Shenandoah,”…

Eric Brace interview: “I Love” is nominated for a Grammy

I Love: Tom T. Hall’ Songs of Fox Hollow is one of those rare kids’ albums that will enchant children and adults in equal measure. We reviewed it enthusiastically in April and it’s great to see this salute to Tom T. and the original Fox Hollow album nominated for a Grammy for best children’s album.. Eric Brace of Last Train…

Jim Lauderdale interview: Robert Hunter, Americana

Jim Lauderdale joined Suzy Bogguss, Will Kimbrough and Eric Brace in an in-the-round show at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville last night. It was as engaging and entertaining an evening as that line-up suggests. Lauderdale has been Americana music’s best friend, hosting the annual awards show at the Ryman auditorium, while also releasing some of the genre’s best music. His…

Concert review: Glen Campbell at the Ryman in Nashville

It was a sad and exhilarating evening at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville tonight. It’s wasn’t sad because Glen Campbell is suffering from Alzheimer’s or that his performance was part of his “Goodbye Tour.” He’s 75 and ailments strike us all. It was sad because this is the last tour of one of America’s great pop singers, interpreters and guitarists,…

The Moody Blues and Nashville

Tickets for the Moody Blues’ March 21 date at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville go on sale this Friday, Dec. 2. The band that got its start with the 1964 hit “Go Now” still has three long-time members, Graeme Edge, John Lodge and Justin Hayward, and puts on a good live show that spans more than four decades of music…

Review: John Prine’s ‘The Singing Mailman Delivers’

Musical prequels rarely work. Older material – released after an artist has become a big name –almost always disappoints. After all, there’s usually a reason why the hits came later. Some albums – like the Beatles’ Hamburg tapes and Decca Sessions – have historical value. Most just stink. That’s why John Prine’s The Singing Mailman Delivers is such a pleasant…

Lisa Oliver-Gray’s solo debut: Dedicated to Love

Tommy Womack wrote an enthusiastic ode to Lisa Oliver-Gray and her first solo album Dedicated to Love on Sun209.com earlier this month. He didn’t oversell it. You can tell this was a liberating project for all involved. Lisa steps up front with a fresh and powerful voice and her DADDY bandmates and co-writers deliver songs that are largely buoyant and…

Interview: Jonell Mosser

Jonell Mosser has long been known as one of Nashville’s finest and most soulful voices, but she’s never broken through to a national audience. That may change with “Fortunes Lost, Fortunes Told,” a new album that targets an Americana audience. It’s not that much of a departure from her past work, but she’s now courting Americana radio, with good results.…

Reviews: Chris Altmann, Mary Johnson Rockers, Jill Jack

Over four days at the Americana Music Festival, review copies of albums can be as ubiquitous as business cards. A sampling of some of the most intriguing artists we came across: Australian artists were well-represented at the Americana Music Festival. Chris Pickering’s “Work of Fiction,” produced by Don Nix, was a dazzling collection of jangly pop and his fellow countryman…