Oct. 20 – This week in Americana music

This week in Americana

Lucinda Williams remains in the top spot in the Americana Music Association airplay chart with Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, followed by Paul Thorn’s Too Blessed to Be Stressed. Dropping to third is Justin Townes Earle’s Single Mothers, with new albums by Ryan Adams and John Hiatt rounding out the top five.

In Nashville:

Lake Street Dive 150x150 Oct. 20   This week in Americana musicIt’s another great week for live shows in Nashville. We’re particularly enthusiastic about the Lake Street Dive show at the Cannery Ballroom on 10/25. Their Bad Self Portraits is one of our favorite albums of 2014, a smart and engaging pop showcase.

Jason Isbell, the hottest artist in Americana music, has a three-night run at the Ryman Auditorium beginning 10/24.

Wilco 10/21 and 10/22 at the Ryman Auditorium

Mac Wiseman at the Franklin Theatre 10/21

Los Lobos 10/22 at City Winery

Music City Roots, featuring Caleb Klauder, James McMurtry, Del Barber, Caroline Rose and John Oates at the Factory in Franklin

Beausoleil Avec Michael Doucet 10/25 at 3rd and Lindsley

New this week:

The Earls of Leicester, a celebration of Flatt and Scruggs, from Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Shawn Camp, Charlie Cushman and Barry Bales.

In the news:

The Bonnaroo Music Festival announced its 2015 dates: June 11-14 in Manchester, TN.

Hard Working Americans  will release The First Waltz, a live album and documentary on Oct. 28.

Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.

This week in Americana music

This week in Americana

Lucinda WilliamsDown Where the Spirit Meets the Bone tops the Americana Music Association airplay chart  for yet another week, followed by Justin Townes Earle’s Single Mothers, Paul Thorn’s Too Blessed to Be Stressed (reviewed here) and the latest from Shovels and Rope (review), Ryan Adams and John Hiatt (review.)

In Nashville: Music City Roots at the Factory in Franklin features Selwyn Birchwood, Taylor Beshears, Keelan Donovan and Whiskey Shivers on Oct. 15. Tickets are $15.

Sons of Bill at the High Watt, Friday, Oct. 17

Steel Wheels at 3rd and Lindsley, Oct. 17

Jessi Alexander, Jonathan Singleton, Barry Dean and Jon Randall at the Bluebird Café, Oct. 17

Angaleena CD 150x150 This week in Americana musicAngaleena Presley is featured at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Songwriter Session at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18.

The Long Players recreate Born in the USA at 3rd and Lindsley, Oct. 18

In the news:

The Country Music Hall of Fame announced a major exhibition set for March 27, 2015: Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats, Museum director Kyle Young says “this exhibit is a great opportunity to talk about the early confluence of country and rock.”

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has just opened an exhibit celebrating the Carter Family and Johnny Cash.

Americana on tour:

Runner of the Woods in Newport, Kentucky 10/16, Thomas, West Virginia 10/17 and Bluefield, West Virginia, 10/18.

New releases this week:

American Middle Class by Angaleena Presley

The Essential Kinks

Ride Out by Bob Seger

All Them Ghosts by Pauline Andres, “written over 4 years in 4 different countries,” according to the release.



1861 Project set for Franklin Theatre

Franklin 150x150 1861 Project set for Franklin TheatreBy Ken Paulson

It’s the rare concept album that holds up over multiple editions. Bat Out of Hell III anyone?

One exception was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken series, which spanned several decades. And now we have the third volume of the  1861 Project, which brings together talented artists to chronicle the Civil War through music.

Franklin, the third volume in this consistently well-done series, focuses on the Battle in Franklin, just south of Nashville. On November 28, the new album – along with selections from the first two editions, will be performed at the Franklin Theater, timed to coincide with the 15oth anniversary of that battle.

Bobby Bare, Kim Richey, Sierra Hull, Maura O’Connell, Peter Cooper, Eric Brace and Irene Kelly are among the talented artists participating in this  rare and possibly final performance of the 1861 Project in concert.

Tickets are available online from the Franklin Theater.

Highly recommended.

Americana Music Festival’s deep, diverse line-up

ama logo button red Americana Music Festivals deep, diverse line upThe Americana Music Association’s 2014 Conference and Festival in Nashville  begins this week. It’s a rich event with a diverse line-up. Here’s the list of performers: 
Amy Ray
Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay
Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys
Danny & The Champions
Doug Seegers
The Duhks
Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo
The Fairfield Four
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
Howlin’ Brothers
J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers
Joe Purdy
Joshua James
Leo Welch
Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy
Nathaniel Rateliff
Quebe Sisters Band
Sean Rowe
Todd Snider & Friends
Trigger Hippy (feat. Jackie Greene, Joan Osborne, Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac & Nick Govrik)
Whiskey Shivers

Andrew Combs

Anthony D’Amato
Bradford Lee Folk
Brooke Russell & the Mean Reds
Cale Tyson
Caleb Klauder Country Band
Cory Chisel’s “Soul Obscura”
The Danberrys
Ernie Hendrickson
Harlan Pepper
The Hot Nut Riveters
Ian McLagan
Jim Oblon
Leftover Salmon feat. Bill Payne of Little Feat
Matt Anderson
Matthew Perryman Jones
NQ Arbuckle
Parsonsfield (formerly Poor Old Shine)
Promised Land Sound
Robby Hecht
The Silks
Truth & Salvage Co.
Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.

John Hiatt’s “Terms of My Surrender”

Hiatt terms 150x150 John Hiatts Terms of My Surrenderby Paul T. Mueller

John Hiatt’s latest album Terms of My Surrender finds the veteran singer-songwriter pretty much in “old dude looking back” mode. “I’ve sang these songs a thousand times, ever since I was young,” he sings in the first track, “Long Time Comin’.” And there’s this in the next track, “Face of God”: “My eyes are blind from crying/don’t know how many more tears I’ve got.”

Grim stuff, especially considering that Hiatt, who just turned 62, is not exactly ancient. Still, he’s been at this for a while, producing excellent work along the way – “Drive South,” “Thing Called Love,” “Crossing Muddy Waters,” “Have a Little Faith in Me,” “Slow Turning” – the list goes on. So he’s earned his aging-bluesman persona, and with his gravelly voice and still-worthy guitar chops, he’s pretty good at it.

There might not be anything on Terms that will get Hiatt much radio airplay (not that that seems to have been his goal – the album has a “because I want to” feel about it). But there’s good material here nonetheless, all original, well written and well performed.

“Wind Don’t Have to Hurry” is an eerie meditation on freedom and mortality, fueled by the spooky banjo of longtime collaborator Doug Lancio (who also contributes guitar and mandolin on various tracks). “Nobody Knew His Name” treads familiar ground – the mysterious stranger lamenting the long-ago loss of his true love – but Hiatt tells the story with his typical panache.

Hiatt knows his way around a funny song, and he’s not afraid to paint in broad strokes. “Old people are pushy,” he sings in “Old People,” before describing a list of dubious behaviors – cutting in line, arguing with the checkout lady, driving too slow. “They can seem like sweet little old people,” he sings of his newly embraced tribe, “but they’re not about to kiss your ass.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hiatt album without a few sweet love songs. Romance meets the blues in “Nothin’ I Love,” in which the narrator recounts his various vices and concludes, “There ain’t nothin’ I love good for me but you.” He’s accompanied here by some excellent guitar by Lancio (other contributors include bassist Nathan Gehri, drummer Kenneth Blevins and keyboardist Jon Coleman, with Brandon Young on backing vocals).

The title track is a gentle love song with a jazzy arrangement. “I can be rough, sometimes I can be tender, but I can’t negotiate the terms of my surrender,” Hiatt sings. “I love you too much, babe, go on and have your way with me.” The album closes with the lively “Come Back Home,” in which the narrator pleads for the return of a departed lover. “I’d take back every song, all that I’ve done wrong/I wish that you’d come home to me.”

Terms of My Surrender benefits from fine production by Lancio, featuring clear, uncluttered arrangements that leave the focus on Hiatt’s words.

Holly Williams, BR5-49 added to festival

ama logo button red 150x150 Holly Williams, BR5 49 added to festivalThe Americana Music Association has announced a third wave of artists for its upcoming festival and conference in Nashville, including Aaron Lee Tasjan, BR5-49, Holly Williams, Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons, Luther Dickinson, Michaela Anne, Paul Burch, Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band.

BR5-49 has widely been credited as the musical catalyst that helped turn around Nashville’s once-decaying Lower Broadway in the ’90s, and paved the way for the city’s current vibrant music scene.

Holly Williams, another Nashville resident, is the granddaughter of Hank Williams and daughter of Hank Jr.

You’ll find the full schedule for the Sept. 17-21 festival here.



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Jack Clement’s “For Once and For All”

Jack Clement 150x150 Jack Clements For Once and For All By Ken Paulson

I spent my day Friday interviewing nine members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame as part of an archival project and one name came up again and again: Cowboy Jack Clement.

The producer, songwriter and occasional artist had a knack for identifying talented young songwriters and artists and nurturing them. In Memphis at Sun Records, in Beaumont, Texas, and finally in Nashville, Clement made friends, helped build careers and made great records.

That’s why it’s no surprise to see so many remarkable guests on For Once and For All, the final Clement album , released 11 months after his death in August 2013.  Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, Dickie Lee, T- Bone Burnett, Buddy Miller, Dan Auerbach, Leon Russell, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Shawn Camp, John Prine, Dierks Bentley, Jim Rooney, Jim Lauderdale and Will Oldham are all on hand for this farewell album.

For Once and For All revisits 12 of Clement’s songs, a number of which were first recorded by Charley Pride. Clement and Pride broke down racial barriers in country music, and made some great records in the process. “Just Between You and Me,” “Got Leaving On Her Mind,” “Baby is Gone” and “I Know One” are among Pride’s best.

“Jesus Don’t Give Up on Me,’ with guitar by Duane Eddy, is the closest thing to a religious song on the record, but Peter Cooper sets the record straight in his liner notes: “Jack was about as religious as a corn cob, but he was a spiritual guy.”

“The Air Conditioner Song” is a reminder that keeping our windows sealed may make us more comfortable, but there’s beauty through an open window. Gill and Camp contribute background vocals and Joey Miskulin is on accordion.

It’s all quite an informal affair, with gentle instrumentation and Clement’s relaxed vocals.

I knew Jack just well enough to say hello, but I treasured every meeting. For Once and For All truly captures his spirit. Buy it for the joy.


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Americana Festival announces 2014 line-up

Avetts AMA 350x233 Americana Festival announces 2014 line up

The Avett Brothers at the 2011 Americana Awards show

Americana Music News – The ever-growing American Music Association announced today that its annual Nashville festival  will feature an outdoor concert on the city’s riverfront on Sept. 20 with the Avett Brothers as headliners.

The concert will anchor the Americana Music Festival and Conference, scheduled to take place Sept. 12-21. Tickets go on sale June 27 for the riverfront concert. Admission is free to conference registrants.

The Americana Music Association also released this list of 2014 festival acts, with more to come:

Allison Moorer • Amy Ray • Angaleena Presley •  The Barefoot MovementBen Miller BandBilly Joe ShaverBlack PrairieBrennen Leigh and Noel McKay • Buddy Miller • The Cactus BlossomsCarlene CarterCaroline RoseChatham County LineChuck Mead • Danny & The Champions of the World • The Deadly Gentlemen • Del Barber • The Deslondes • Doug Seegers • The Duhks • The Dustbowl Revival • Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo • Ethan Johns • The Fairfield Four • The GrahamsGrant-Lee PhillipsGreen River OrdinanceGreensky BluegrassGregory Alan IsakovGreyhounds • The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer • Hayes Carll • Howlin’ Brothers • Immigrant UnionIsrael NashJamestown RevivalJason Eady • J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt DaubersJoe HenryJoe Pug • Joe Purdy • John MorelandJonah TolchinJonny Two BagsJosh Ritter • Joshua James • Lake Street DiveLee Ann Womack • Leo “Bud” Welch • Lera LynnMarah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy • Marty StuartMatthew RyanMcCrary Sisters • Nathaniel Rateliff • New Country RehabOh SusannaOtis GibbsParker MillsapPaul ThornPete Molinari • Quebe Sisters Band • Rhett MillerRobbie FulksRobyn HitchcockRodney CrowellRuthie FosterRyan MontbleauSam OutlawSarah Jarosz • Sean Rowe • Shakey GravesSuzy Bogguss • Todd Snider & Friends • Tom Freund • Tony Joe White • Trigger Hippy (featuring Jackie Greene, Joan Osborne, Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac & Nick Govrik) • Whiskey Shivers • Willie Watson

John Hiatt, Patty Griffin headline Cross-County Lines

cross county 262x350 John Hiatt, Patty Griffin headline Cross County Lines

Americana Music News – John Hiatt and Patty Griffin are headlining  the Americana Music Association’s  2nd annual Cross-County Lines festival on May 31 in Franklin, TN.

Also in the line-up: Ashley Monroe, Brandy  Clark, Parker Millsap, Joe Pug and Luther Dickinson.

It’s a 7-hour showcase for roots and Americana music in The Park at Harlinsdale Farm, just outside the offices of the Americana Music Association.

We attended last year’s kick-off Cross-County Lines event, which featured Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas and Amos Lee. The 2014 event should be just as memorable.

The music starts at 3:30 p.m. and $35 tickets are available from Ticketmaster and at the Franklin Theatre box office.


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A little Poco at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville

By Ken Paulson

It was a good week for Poco fans in the Nashville area.

richie 350x262 A little Poco at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville

Richie Furay

On Tuesday, Richie Furay joined Vince Gill and an emerging duo called Striking Matches as part of the new SoundExchange Influencer series at the club.  The premise is that musicians build on the influences of others, so Gill talked about how Furay influenced him and Striking Matches cited both men as musical heroes.  Furay did a lot of newer material,  but did perform a spirited “Pick Up the Pieces” and closed with “Kind Woman,” the song that essentially led to the birth of Poco.

Rusty Young was on that Buffalo Springfield session and ended up being the longest-standing member of Poco. On Saturday night. Young appeared at the Bluebird Cafe along with Bill Lloyd, Craig Fuller of Pure Prairie League and Little Feat and Robert Ellis Orrall.



rusty 150x150 A little Poco at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville

Rusty Young

Young opened the show with “Call It Love” and closed with “Crazy Love,” but may have received the biggest reaction for “Neil Young” off the recent All Fired Up Poco album, in which he entertainingly explains that Neil is not his brother.

Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.


Review: Rodney Crowell’s “Tarpaper Sky”

Tarpaper 150x150 Review: Rodney Crowells Tarpaper Sky By Ken Paulson

I was listening to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1979 album An American Dream the other day and was reminded of the beauty of the title track, written by Rodney Crowell and included on his first solo album Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This” in 1978.

“American Dream,” ‘Til I Gain Control Again” and “Shame on the Moon” were all big hits in the hands of other artists, a reminder of just how resonant – and yes, commercial – a songwriter Crowell could be.

Crowell has had extraordinary success as an artist in recent years,  including striking collaborations with Mary Karr on KIN and Emmylou Harris on Old Yellow Moon. His last four solo albums have been autobiographical, topical and sometimes stark.

In contrast, Tarpaper Sky, ( New West) his latest, is not a concept album or project and its tone is often joyous and adventurous. It has more of the spirit of Crowell’s  early recordings, possibly due to the co-production of his ‘80s collaborator Steuart Smith.

The album opens with the soaring “The Long Journey Home,” followed by the jaunty “Fever on the Bayou” (When she gets a hold me/Mucho me-oh-my-oh”) and the full-throttle love song “Frankie Please.” This one’s fun.

The reflective Crowell is still here, with the Karr co-write “God I’m Missing You” and the sentimental “Grandma Loved That Old Man.”

Closing out the album are two tributes: “The Flyboy & the Kid,” a tip of the hat to friend and mentor Guy Clark, and “Oh What a Beautiful World,” a nod to John Denver.

It’s been too long since Sex and Gasoline, Crowell’s outstanding and largely overlooked  2008 solo album. Tarpaper Sky is a welcome addition to his rich body of work.

Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun9com.

Sun209 interview: Greg Trooper

Greg Trooper incident 150x150 Sun209 interview: Greg TrooperWe caught up  with Greg Trooper on his return to Nashville after leaving the city in 2008. The Basement was packed with fans and friends, including a contingent from Boston. His almost two-hour show was a prime example of an artist capturing the room with just an acoustic guitar, striking songs,  irreverence and energy.

In one of our Three-minute Interviews, Trooper talks about the “tawdry” cover of his new album Incident on Willow Street and life as a touring artist:


We loved Incident. You’ll find our review here.

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Tin Pan South: Cleveland, Lloyd, Ragsdale and Coleman

ashley 350x262 Tin Pan South: Cleveland, Lloyd, Ragsdale and Coleman

Ashley Cleveland performs during Tin Pan South

Ashley Cleveland, Bill Lloyd, Suzi Ragsdale and Dave Coleman were clearly enjoying themselves Friday night at Douglas Corner as part of the Tin Pan South songwriters festival in Nashville.

Unlike other rounds where songwriters might be teamed thematically or shows in which songwriters come out for a rare performance, these were all friends and active performers, eager to play off each other and to share new material.

Three-time Grammy Ashley Cleveland stood to deliver songs from her upcoming Beauty on the Curve, Coleman showcased songs from his band’s new Escalator, Ragsdale debuted “The Ending” from a musical in the works, and Lloyd shared “Happiness,” a cool pop song that channels Burt Bacharach.

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Tin Pan South: Classics revisited

dickey 350x270 Tin Pan South: Classics revisited

Dickey Lee at Tin Pan South

The show was labeled “Classics to Current,” and “classics” was not an overstatement. This Tin Pan South show at Douglas Corner in Nashville featured Alex Harvey, who wrote “Delta Dawn” and “Reuben James”, “Buzz Cason, whose “Soldier of Love” was recorded by the Beatles in their BBC sessions, Dickey Lee of “Patches” fame and Austin Cunningham.

But it was Lee who set the tone for the evening, noting that the song he was about to do had been a hit for George Jones and Elvis Presley and then opened the show with his “She Thinks I Still Care.” Follow that.

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Best bets: 2014 Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival

tin pan 2014 150x150 Best bets: 2014 Tin Pan South Songwriters FestivalBy Ken Paulson

Tin Pan South, the world-class songwriters festival based in Nashville,  begins this Tuesday in Nashville,  and as usual, the line-up of talent is rich and diverse. It’s a particularly well-curated festival, so there are no lame rounds. That said, these shows caught our eye:

Tuesday,  March 25

Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne at the at the Listening Room Café,  6 p.m.

Brandy Clark’s 12 Stories is one of the best albums of the past year, fueled by striking and down-to-earth songwriting. Her songs have been recorded by Band Perry, Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert.  Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne teamed with Musgraves for her hit “Merry Go ‘Round” and won a 2014 Grammy.

Critter Fuqua, Chance McCoy, Chuck Mead and Holly Williams at the Station Inn,  9 p.m.

BR5-49 veteran Chuck Mead has a terrific new album called Free State Serenade, Critter Fuqua and Chance McCoy are members of the Old Crow Medicine Show and Holly Williams is the very talented granddaughter of Hank Williams, who released the fine album The Highway  last year.

Wednesday, March 26

Jessi Alexander, Josh Kear and Striking Matches at the Hard Rock Café, 6 p.m.

We admred Jessi Alexander as an artist, but she’s really hit her stride as a country songwriter, including the much-honored “I Drive Your Truck.’ Josh Kear has had similar success, including writing the monster Lady Antebellum hit “Need You Now,  and Striking Matches is an engaging duo whose songs have shown up on the Nashville TV show.

Thursday, March 27

Jim Lauderdale and friends at the Station Inn, 6 p.m.

This minimalist listing is all you need to know. Lauderdale, an icon of Americana, works and plays with some of the best in the business.

Friday, March 28

Buzz Cason, Austin Cunningham, Alex Harvey and Dickey Lee at Douglas Corner, 6:30pm
There’s some pop and country  history here, with Dickey Lee, who recorded “Patches,” Buzz Cason, who wrote “Soldier of Love,” Alex Harvey, who wrote “ Delta Dawn”  and Austin Cunningham. And it’s not all oldies from the veterans. Cason has a brand-new new album called Troubadour Heart.

Later at the same club at 9:30 you’ll find 3-time Grammy winner Ashley Cleveland, Dave Coleman, Suzi Ragsdale and Bill Lloyd, power pop and country artist and songwriter, and occasional contributor to Sun209. We’ve had the privilege to work with all four, and they’ll deliver a great show.

Saturday, March 29

 Sony Curtis, Mac Davis and Hugh Prestwood at the Bluebird Café at 6:30 p.m.

One of our favorite past Tin Pan South shows featured former Cricket Sonny Curtis, Mac Davis. Jim Weatherly and Bobby Braddock.   This year’s round looks just as promising, with Hugh Prestwood joining David and Curtis.

Curtis is one of our favorites, a rock pioneer who grew up with Buddy Holly, and went on to write songs ranging from “I Fought the Law” to “Love is All Around,” the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show. I don’t think anyone else can claim they’ve been covered by the Everly Brothers, the Clash and Joan Jett.

Of course, this is all just a start. This is a festival that also features Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Marcus Hummon, Leigh Nash, Kevin Welch, Kim Richey, Bob DiPiero, Shannon Wright, Gary Talley, Dave Barnes, John Oates, Craig Carothers, Larry Weiss, Phillip Coleman, Tony Arata, T. Graham Brown, Brett James, Rivers Rutherford, Jeffrey Steele, Tom Douglas, Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, Tim Easton, Bill Anderson, Steve Bogard, the Stellas, Amy Speace, Jason White, Leslie Satcher, Larry Gatlin, Tommy Lee James, Erin Enderlin, Jack Sundrud, Karen Staley, Luke Laird, Lee Roy Parnell, Sarah Buxton, Kate York, Sherrie Austin, James Otto, the Kinleys and many more.

Full details can be found at Tin Pan South’s website.

Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.

Tin Pan South set for March 25-29 in Nashville

tin pan 2014 243x350 Tin Pan South set for March 25 29 in NashvilleTin Pan South, a wide-ranging and always rewarding songwriters festival,  has just announced its 2014 line-up. The festival, which features both songwriting legends and upcoming writers,  will run from March 25 through March 29 in Nashville.

The approximately 100 performing songwriters include Joe Don Rooney, Vince Gill,  Teddy Gentry,  Amy Grant and Jamie O’Neal, plus Songwriters Hall of Fame members Pat Alger, Mac Davis and Sonny Curtis.
We’re also pleased to see so many of our Nashville-based favorites in the mix, including Bill Lloyd, Sherrie Austin,  Jessi Alexander,  Jason White,   Barry Dean, Will Hoge, Tom Douglas,  Eric Brace, Jim Lauderdale, Bob DiPiero, Karen Staley  and Marcus Hummon.
For full details, visit Tin Pan South’s online home.
Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.

Review: Irene Kelley’s “Pennsylvania Coal”

Irene Kelley 150x150 Review: Irene Kelleys Pennsylvania CoalBy Ken Paulson

This should be a very good week for Nashville singer-songwriter Irene Kelley.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, she’ll drop by to perform at Grimey’s record store in Nashville, followed by a full show on Friday at the legendary Station Inn.

Best of all, this is also the week the world will get to hear her remarkable new album Pennsylvania Coal, which just entered the Americana Music Association airplay chart.

From the back cover depicting her coal-mining grandfather to “You Are Mine,” the closing track written and performed with her daughters, Pennsylvania Coal is fueled by family.

“Angels Around Her” warmly recalls Kelley’s mother, “Pennsylvania Coal” honors her grandparents, “Sister’s Heart” is about her loving sister and “Garden of Dreams” is for her daughters Justyna and Sara Jean.

Yet the first two tracks – both written with Peter Cooper – may have the most universal appeal. “You Don’t Run Across My Mind,” distributed as a single, is about a relationship that lingers in your mind long after it’s over. “Feels Like Home” delivers the familiar “You can’t go home again” message  in a fresh way.

The album includes co-writes with David Olney, Thomm Jutz, Justyna and other fine writers, plus harmonies from Trisha Yearwood on “Better with Time.

Kelley’s voice and the intimate instrumentation are a perfect fit on this compelling, touching album.

While many will see Pennsylvania Coal as a bluegrass album,  it’s for anyone with a love of strong, evocative songwriting. Highly recommended.

 Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.


Mandy Barnett celebates Don Gibson

mandy 150x150 Mandy Barnett celebates Don Gibson By Ken Paulson

Visitors to the Nashville airport see three electronic signs as they descend on the escalator to baggage claim. This week, the first extolled the virtues of Opryland, the second was a greeting from Mayor Karl Dean and the third showcased Mandy Barnett’s new album I Can’t Stop Loving You: The Songs of Don Gibson.

Perfect. Barnett is as Nashville as they come, particularly in her interpretation of  the classic countrypolitan Nashville sound. She’s perhaps best known for her performances as Patsy Cline in Always: Patsy Cline, a role that demands an extraordinary voice.

On her new album, she revisits the work of another iconic figure, songwriter and singer Don Gibson. The classic songs are all here: Gibson’s hit “Oh Lonesome Me,” “Sweet Dreams” recorded by Cline, and “I Can’t Stop loving You,” performed most memorably by Ray Charles.

The album, on the Cracker Barrel label, entered the Americana Music Association chart this week at number 35. This classic material, reinvigorated in faithful, but fresh performances, is clearly finding a new audience.

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Review: Will Kimbrough’s “Sideshow Love”

sideshow love 150x150 Review: Will Kimbroughs Sideshow Loveby Paul T. Mueller

On his seventh solo album, due for release in mid-February, Will Kimbrough turns away from Big Issues to focus on more personal matters. There are 12 songs on Sideshow Love, and they’re all about one or more aspects of human relationships – love, sex, loneliness and various combinations thereof.

Check them off: Anticipated love (“When Your Loving Comes Around”), physical love (“Let the Big World Spin”), boastful love (the title track), practical love (“Home Economics”), and so on.

High points include “I Want Too Much,” a confessional song that features some really nice acoustic picking; “Has Anybody Seen My Heart,” a gentle lost-love ballad written with Joy Lynn White; and “Who Believes In You,” co-written with Carter Wood and featuring some beautiful cello by engineer and co-producer David Henry.

Will Kimbrough is an excellent player, singer and producer, and his talents are on full display here. One could wish for a bit more poetry in his lyrics, but in light of his other contributions that seems a bit churlish.

Best, maybe, just to appreciate the moods and colors he creates with his guitar (and several other instruments) and his voice.

Follow the latest in Americana music news on Twitter at @Sun209com.



Folk musical “Hangtown Dancehall” debuts in Nashville

By Ken Paulson

hangtown poster 150x150 Folk musical Hangtown Dancehall debuts in Nashville

Hangtown Dancehall, an ambitious re-visiting of the tale of “Sweet Betsy from Pike” debuted tonight at 3rd and Lindsley  in Nashville with an all-star cast of artists. The musical, subtitled  “A tale of the California Goldrush,” is the creation of Eric Brace (Last Train Home) and Karl Straub, based on a story by Brace.

Brace who grew up in the California community where the story is based,  has expanded upon the classic folk song, telling a saga of adventure, romance, greed and betrayal through narration and an impressive array of original songs.

Kelly Willis, Tim O’Brien, Peter Cooper and Brian Wright were among those who joined Brace and Straub onstage tonight, while the just-released Hangtown Dancehall album features Willis, O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Jason Ringenberg and many more Nashville-based talents.

It’s a smart, engaging and musically diverse show that should have a future in theaters across the country.

Hangtown Dancehall 350x210 Folk musical Hangtown Dancehall debuts in Nashville

Eric Brace and the cast of Hangtown Dancehall







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