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 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 is just a little more than a month away and the latest round of artist announcements just underscore the richness and diversity of the event.  Additions include the Mastersons, Ian Maclagan, the Black Lillies, Laura Cantrell, Elizabeth Cook and many more.
The full-line-up to date:
Amy Ray
Angaleena Presley
Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay
Carlene Carter
Caroline Rose
Chatham County Line
Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys
Danny & The Champions
The Deadly Gentleman
Del Barber
The Deslondes
Doug Seegers
The Duhks
The Dustbowl Revival
Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo
Ethan Johns
The Fairfield Four
The Grahams
Grant-Lee Phillips
Green River Ordinance
Greensky Bluegrass
Gregory Alan Isakov
Greyhounds
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
Howlin’ Brothers
Immigrant Union
Israel Nash
Jamestown Revival
Jason Eady
J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers
Joe Henry
Joe Purdy
John Moreland
Jonah Tolchin
Jonny Two Bags
Joshua James
Lake Street Dive
Leo Welch
Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy
Matthew Ryan
Nathaniel Rateliff
New Country Rehab
Oh Susanna
Otis Gibbs
Parker Millsap
Pete Molinari
Quebe Sisters Band
Rhett Miller
Robyn Hitchcock
Ryan Montbleau
Sam Outlaw
Sean Rowe
Shakey Graves
Todd Snider & Friends
Tom Freund
Tony Joe White
Trigger Hippy (feat. Jackie Greene, Joan Osborne, Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac & Nick Govrik)
Whiskey Shivers
Willie Watson

Andrew Combs

Anthony D’Amato
The Audreys
Banditos
Baskery
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
Bradford Lee Folk
Brooke Russell & the Mean Reds
The Bros. Landreth
The Brothers Comatose
Cale Tyson
Caleb Klauder Country Band
Carolina Story
Cory Chisel’s “Soul Obscura”
The Danberrys
David Ramirez
Ernie Hendrickson
Falls
Feufollet
Frank Fairfield
Grace and Tony
Griffin House
The Haden Triplets
Harlan Pepper
The Hot Nut Riveters
Howard Fishman
Humming People
Ian McLagan
James Maddock
Jim Oblon
Laura Cantrell
Lauren Shera
Leftover Salmon feat. Bill Payne of Little Feat
Liz Longley
Los Colognes
The Mae Trio
Matt Anderson
Matt the Electrician
Matthew Perryman Jones
Matthew Mayfield
Matthew Ryan
Mike Farris
Mipso
Moot Davis
NQ Arbuckle
Peter Bradley Adams
Phil Madeira
Police Dog Hogan
Parsonsfield (formerly Poor Old Shine)
Promised Land Sound
Robby Hecht
Ryan Tanner
Shinyribs
The Silks
Sleepy Man Banjo Boys
Steelism
The Stray Birds
Truth & Salvage Co.
Zachary Lucky
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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 Blossoms • Carlene Carter • Caroline Rose • Chatham County Line • Chuck 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 Grahams • Grant-Lee Phillips • Green River Ordinance • Greensky Bluegrass • Gregory Alan Isakov • Greyhounds • The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer • Hayes Carll • Howlin’ Brothers • Immigrant Union • Israel Nash • Jamestown Revival • Jason Eady • J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers • Joe Henry • Joe Pug • Joe Purdy • John Moreland • Jonah Tolchin • Jonny Two Bags • Josh Ritter • Joshua James • Lake Street Dive • Lee Ann Womack • Leo “Bud” Welch • Lera Lynn • Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy • Marty Stuart • Matthew Ryan • McCrary Sisters • Nathaniel Rateliff • New Country Rehab • Oh Susanna • Otis Gibbs • Parker Millsap • Paul Thorn • Pete Molinari • Quebe Sisters Band • Rhett Miller • Robbie Fulks • Robyn Hitchcock • Rodney CrowellRuthie Foster • Ryan Montbleau • Sam Outlaw • Sarah Jarosz • Sean Rowe • Shakey Graves • Suzy 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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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Interview: Kim Richey on “Thorn in my Heart”

kim richey 150x150 Interview: Kim Richey on Thorn in my HeartBy Ken Paulson
Kim Richey has been all over the Americana Music Festival and it’s been great to see her showcase her fine new album Thorn in My Heart. Here’s a quick interview on the new album and her return to Nashville:

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Eric Brace song inspires a NASA video

We’re fans of Eric Brace and were glad to hear the news that one of his songs inspired a NASA video and tribute to Neil Armstrong.

In Eric’s words: I’m extraordinarily honored and proud that the folks at NASA heard my song “Tranquility Base” and are using it to help commemorate the first anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s death (Sunday). The video they created to accompany the song, using footage from the historic Apollo 11 mission, is spectacularly beautiful and moving and can be seen here on NASA’s website.

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Review: Tim Easton’s “Not Cool”

tim easton 150x150 Review: Tim Eastons Not Coolby Paul T. Mueller

Someone once said, “Geography is destiny,” and that certainly seems true of Not Cool, the new CD from much-traveled singer-songwriter Tim Easton. Easton recently moved to the Nashville area after several years in the Mojave Desert town of Joshua Tree, California. Fittingly, many of the songs on Not Cool have an early rock ‘n’ roll/rockabilly sound that’s well suited to the home of country music, and Easton’s lyrics (he wrote 10 of the 11 tracks) have taken a more straightforward direction, in contrast to the sometimes oblique nature of much of his recent work.

In keeping with the vintage sound, the CD’s running time totals only 30 minutes, with eight of the 11 tracks clocking in at three minutes or less. Themes include life’s travails (“Troubled Times,” “Four Queens,” “Gallatin Pike Blues”) and bad romance (“Don’t Lie,” “Lickety Split” and the title track). But the grim subject matter is offset by bouncy arrangements, mostly featuring the excellent guitar playing of Easton, J.D. Simo and Sadler Vaden. Megan Palmer, Easton’s partner in a duo called Out of Our Tree, contributes sweet violin and vocals on several tracks.

Easton saves the best for last, closing the album with “Knock Out Roses (For Levon),” a beautiful tribute to the late Levon Helm. Written, according to Easton, the day Helm died, it’s an acoustic instrumental featuring an old-timey sound, set to a lively waltz tempo, but with a melancholy undertone. The song’s delicate interplay of guitar, banjo and violin fades out near the end, leaving only the violin to carry the tune to its end. Sweet.

 

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