Americana Music News – We caught up with Eric Brace at the Americana Music Conference in Nashville and he told us about a new video featuring Tom T. Hall’s “Mad” and a slew of really cool guest stars, including Marty Stuart, Duane Eddy and Mac Wiseman. The video promotes The Comeback Album, the most recent album from Brace and Peter Cooper. Here’s Brace talking about how “The World’s Greatest Video” came together: listen to ‘Eric Brace’ on Audioboo
Americana Music News – Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott have teamed up again for an impressive new album called Memories and Moments.
This is their second studio album, with songwriting duties split between the pair, and a powerful new collaboration on “Keep Your Dirty Lights On,” a powerful environmental message.
We had the chance to talk to Tim about the new album at the American Music Festival in Nashville:
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Ken Paulson presents Stephen Stills with the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award.
Sometimes you just can’t suppress the fan in you.
I had the extraordinary opportunity to share the stage at the Ryman Auditorium with Richie Furay and present an award for free speech in music to Stephen Stills at the Americana Music Association Honors and Awards show Wednesday night. I had my First Amendment advocate hat on, but I couldn’t help but be excited about standing next to two members of Buffalo Springfield.
Why was Stills honored? Here’s a succinct explanation, from my brief essay in the awards show program:
“For What It’s Worth” was not a protest song. Yes, the Stephen Stills composition was inspired by a confrontation between police and young people on the Sunset Strip, but his tone was one of observation, not outrage. “There’s somethin’ happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear” he sang on that early Buffalo Springfield hit. He even poked fun at the protesters who carried signs “most saying hurray for our side.”
Throughout his career, Stills has used his music to encourage us to look at our society and ourselves. His response to the world’s challenges has been reflective, not reflexive. As a member of one of America’s most political bands – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Stills often offered a measured counterpoint. Neil Young’s “Ohio” was a chilling indictment of the government that could shoot dead four students at Kent State University. The flip side of that single was “Find the Cost of Freedom,” a four-line Stills song about sacrifice and liberty. From the post-apocalyptic “Wooden Ships” to the cautionary “The Ecology Song” and the affirming “We Are Not Helpless,” Stills’s music has truly engaged us. Recent songs like “Feed the People” and “Wounded World” continue his tradition of topicality.
Stills has walked the talk. CSN&Y toured the country in 2006 with its Free Speech Tour, challenging its audiences with songs protesting the war in Iraq. Stills used the tour to campaign on behalf of candidates for Congress. “The most valuable resource that we have, that we are wasting, we are squandering, are those wonderful men and women who would be so noble as to put on a suit, endure basic training, pick up a weapon and stand a post in our defense,” he said in one campaign appearance captured in the “Free Speech Tour” documentary. Seven of the ten candidates that Stephen Stills campaigned for during the Freedom of Speech Tour won their elections.
By Ken Paulson
We were pleased to host Billy Bragg at Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication on Thursday, Sept. 19. Bragg was in Nashville to perform at the annual Americana Music Festival, and came to MTSU to be a part of the Tom T. Hall Lecture Series.
Bragg was also the inaugural speaker in series of programs co-presented by MTSU and the Americana Music Assocation.
The collaboration between MTSU and the association, based in Franklin, Tenn., will bring special learning opportunities to students pursuing careers in music, said Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson.
Under the partnership, Paulson said, prominent artists will participate in special lectures at the university. Students also got to attend the Americana Music Festival and Conference, which ran this year from Wednesday to Sunday in Nashville, featured about 130 live performances at six music venues.
“We’re indebted to the Americana Music Association for its commitment to a new generation of recording industry and music professionals,” Paulson said. “It’s a great fit on so many levels.
“The Americana Music Association has energized an entire genre of music through fresh approaches and a collaborative spirit, just as our goal at MTSU is to provide an education in innovation.”
Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association, said the partnership is a logical extension of the association’s overall mission.
The association describes Americana as “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw.”
“Americana Music readily spans generations and we’re proud to establish this dynamic educational partnership with the students and faculty of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University,” Hilly said.
As part of the festival, Paulson on Wednesday presented the Spirit of Americana Freedom of Speech Award to artist Stephen Stills during the Honors & Awards Show at Ryman Auditorium. The award was given by the association and the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center.
The award spotlights and celebrates Stills’ contributions to some of the most thought-provoking and observational songs of the 60s and 70s, as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and beyond. Among them: “For What It’s Worth,” “Wooden Ships,” and “The Ecology Song.”
On Thursday, British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg was the inaugural guest speaker for the new Americana Music series at MTSU.
Bragg is best known for his topical songs over his 20-year recording career and for his collaboration with Wilco on “Mermaid Avenue,” a project that married unpublished lyrics by Woody Guthrie with new music.
“Billy Bragg’s appearance at MTSU was a rare opportunity for our students to hear firsthand from an artist who has consistently made music with meaning, drawing on the day’s headlines for politically potent and thought-provoking songs,” Paulson said.
Bragg began his recording career in 1983. His 1986 “Talking With the Taxman About Poetry” was a Top 10 album in Great Britain.
Bragg’s MTSU appearance was also a part of the Tom T. Hall Lecture Series, which brings noted writers and authors to campus.
The Tom T. Hall Writers Series in the College of Mass Communication celebrates songwriters, authors, poets and screenwriters and offers students, faculty, staff and the public a chance to learn more about the creative process as well as the business end of success.
Previous Hall Writers Series guests have included country superstar Vince Gill, acclaimed songwriter John Hiatt, bluegrass impresario Ricky Skaggs and the Emmy-nominated creative team behind the HBO Films movie “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” which included MTSU alumnus and composer George S. Clinton.
Americana Music News – As we count down to the Nov. 10 national broadcast of the Americana Music Festival Award show, you’ll want to check out a cool series of videos produced by Brite Revolution during the festival in Nashville.
Here’s the kick-off video featuring honeyhoney:
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Americana Music News – This year was another extraordinary Americana Music Festival, with an overflowing slate of talent. Here’s a sampling of images that only hint at the range of artists:
Photos copyright 2012 by Ken Paulson. Follow Americana Music News on Twitter at Sun209com.
By Ken Paulson
Americana Music Conference attendees had a rare treat when rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson popped up in the hotel bar to play a spirited set.
“What’s with the blue hair?,” the feisty Jackson shouted out to an audience member. “You must be a rebel.”
She surely was. She embraced rock ‘n’ roll when it was still the exclusive turf of young men.
In her performance on Friday, Jackson reached back to 1959 to do what she called her “first #1 record,” “Fujiyama Mama.” Unfortunately, it was number 1 in Japan and not here, she noted, smiling.
She drew two songs from her last album,The Party Ain’t Over, produced by Jack White, who she described as a “velvet-covered brick.”
She’s turned to Justin Townes Earle to produce her next album Unfinished Business, due this fall on Sugar Hill Records.
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One of the highlights of Americana Music Festival week in Nashville is Americanarama, sort of the ultimate in-store, but held outside in the parking lot of beloved record store Grimey’s.
We dropped by to watch impressive sets by the Howling Brothers, Amy Cook and Kim Richey, who recently moved back to Nashville and has been recording a new album.
We also dug through thousands of $1 albums, and ended up buying 25 relative obscurities, including a two-disc album capturing the highlights of the Nixon-Kenedy debates. We wonder if they released a single.
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A diverse and groundbreaking group of artists were honored at tonight’s Americana Honors and Awards event at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, with 2011 emerging artist nominees the Civil Wars being named duo/group of the year.
The album of the year was This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, a project produced by Tamara Saviano and Shawn Camp, which included an amazing cross-section of Americana artists.
The song of the year was “Alabama Pines,” as written and performed by Jason Isbell.
This year’s winners:
Lifetime Achievement for Performance: Bonnie Raitt
Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist: Booker T. Jones
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting: Richard Thompson
Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive: Dennis Lord
Artist of the Year: Gillian Welch
Duo/group of the Year: The Civil Wars
Instrumentalist of the Year: Dave Rawlings
Album of the Year: This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark; produced by Tamara Saviano and Shawn Camp
Song Of The Year Award : “Alabama Pines;” Written by Jason Isbell and performed by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Emerging Artist of the Year: Alabama Shakes
Austin City Limits will broadcast highlights of the awards show on Nov. 10.
Americana Music News chronicles rock, country, roots and Americana music. Review copies and press releases: PO Box 432, 3908 Lebanon Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076.
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