New releases: Jerry Lawson, Chris Stapleton

New Americana, folk and soul releases:

Jerry LawsonJust a Mortal ManJerry Lawson – Red Beet Records -Jerry Lawson’s  Just a Mortal Man is a joyous surprise. The 71-year-old lead singer of the Persuasions has just released his first solo album. His rich voice remains a revelation, and the smart song selection showcases his gifts. Highlights include Paul Simon’s “Peace Like A River” and producer Eric Brace’s “Time and Water.” Guests include the McCrary Sisters and Jim Lauderdale. He’ll be in Nashville on June 5 for a show at the Station Inn.

TravellerChris Stapleton – At 37, Chris Stapleton is finally releasing a much-anticipated solo album. He was the lead singer for the Steeldrivers and has had amazing success as a songwriter. Billboard Magazine has a great feature on his songs, as recorded by Adele, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Lee Ann Womack and many more.

The TravelerRhett Miller – What are the odds that Chris Stapleton and Rhett Miller would release new albums with almost identical titles? Here Old 97’s frontman Miller teams up with Black Prairie, with guest spots by Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of REM

Hope You’re Happy NowGrant Langston – The new album from Grant Langston is out now; publicity materials offer this description: “This new record is dark, moody and veers into the downright somber.”

Alicia MichilliAlicia Michilli – We met Alicia Michilli on a plane flying back from the Grammy Awards. She’s from Detroit, but has moved to Nashville to launch her career. Her self-titled EP makes a great first impression. Despite her 22 years, she has an impressive feel for classic ‘70s soul, as evidenced by the five original tracks. And check out her salute to Etta James here.

My Crazy HeadLevi Lowrey – Out now is the new release by Levi Lowrey, described in press materials as his “most revolutionary album yet.”

A Light That Never DiesKaiL Baxley – Forty Below Records – Set for release on June 2, KaiL Baxley’s second album was co-produced with Eric Corne.

Pat McGeePat McGee – This solo album from the Pat McGee Band leader features an impressive array of session players and guest talent, including Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, Waddy Wachtel, Danny Kotchmar, Jeff Pevar, Paul Barrere, John Popper and Pat Monahan.

Review: Amy Speace’s “That Kind of Girl”


By Paul T. Mueller

speaceIt seems a bit of a shame that singer-songwriter Amy Speace had to turn to crowdfunding to get her latest album released. Still, maybe making an album independently is the best way to end up with exactly what you want, and That Kind of Girl has that kind of sound about it. It’s an excellent collection – 12 songs full of raw, honest emotion, beautifully conveyed by Speace’s powerful, expressive voice. It also features skillful instrumental and vocal backup from a cast of outstanding musicians, including some of her East Nashville neighbors.

There’s no filler here; these songs demonstrate Speace’s mastery of songcraft, which should come as no surprise to those familiar with her previous work. Her writing – on this set she’s credited as sole writer on three songs and co-writer on the rest – is clear and filled with the kind of nuance that can bring a smile, a tear or both. “You know you never really told me when you knew that you chose her,” she sings in “Epilogue (I Don’t Know How to Stop Loving You),” one of the solo efforts. “So I folded you inside my dreams, like an old concert poster.” And, from “Raincoat,” written with Katie Klim: “It’s a strange kind of sadness/And it’s hard to explain/You were my raincoat/You were my raincoat/You were my raincoat/Now you’re the rain.” It’s a simple metaphor, but so effective.

The songs span a range of styles, from the soulful ’60s vibe of opening track “Nothing Good Can Come from This” and the title track, to sad ballads such as “One Man’s Love” and “Raincoat,” to the vintage country sound of “Come Pick Me Up “ and “Trouble Looks Good on You.” There’s also the jazzy, eerie feel of the spiritually themed “Three Days,” the bouncy pop of “In Chicago” and the Irish air – somewhere between dirge and celebration – of the farewell song “Hymn for the Crossing” (the latter written with Irish songwriter Ben Glover the day after Pete Seeger died, according to Speace).

Credit for the fine production goes to Neilson Hubbard (who also did the mixing and contributed drums, percussion and vocals, plus co-writing two songs) The excellent supporting cast includes Will Kimbrough and Carl Broemel on guitars (the latter also on pedal steel), Dan Mitchell on keyboards, Eamon McLoughlin on violin, viola and mandolin, and Dean Marold on upright bass. Contributing vocalists include Glover, John Moreland, Garrison Starr, Tim Easton, Doug and Telisha Williams and Rod Picott.

2015 Americana Music Awards nominees announced

The Americana Music Association announced this afternoon the nominees for the 2015 ama_logo_button_redAmericana Honors and Awards. The winners will be announced at the association’s annual conference, set for Sept. 10-15 in Nashville.
2015 Americana Honors & Awards Nominees
Album of the Year (Award goes to Artist and Producer)
And The War CameShakey Graves; Produced by Alejandro Rose-Garcia and Chris Boosahda
Down Where The Spirit Meets The BoneLucinda Williams; Produced by Lucinda Williams, Tom Overby and Greg Leisz
Metamodern Sounds In Country Music Sturgill Simpson; Produced by Dave Cobb
The Way I’m Livin’Lee Ann Womack; Produced by Frank Liddell
Tomorrow Is My Turn – Rhiannon Giddens; Produced by T-Bone Burnett
Artist of the Year
Rhiannon Giddens
Jason Isbell
Sturgill Simpson
Lucinda Williams
Lee Ann Womack
Duo/Group of the Year
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn
The Lone Bellow
The Mavericks
Punch Brothers
Shovels & Rope
Emerging Artist of the Year
First Aid Kit
Nikki Lane
Doug Seegers
Shakey Graves
Instrumentalist of the Year
Hubby Jenkins
Laur Joamets
Greg Leisz
John Leventhal
Stuart Mathis
Song of the Year (Award goes to Artist and Songwriter)
“Dearly Departed” – Shakey Graves; Written by Alejandro Rose-Garcia and Esme’ Patterson
“East Side Of Town” – Lucinda Williams; Written by Lucinda Williams
“Terms Of My Surrender” – John Hiatt; Written by John Hiatt
“Turtles All The Way Down” – Sturgill Simpson; Written by Sturgill Simpson
“You’re The Best Lover That I Ever Had” – Steve Earle & the Dukes; Written by Steve Earle

This just in: 2015 Americana Music Festival line-up

ama_logo_button_redThe  Americana Music Association has just announced its initial artist line-up for the 16th annual Americana Music Festival and Conference, set for September 15 – 20, 2015, in Nashville.

It’s always an extraordinary week of music and one of the best festivals in Nashville each year.

You’ll find conference and wristband information at


The roster so far:
Anderson East
Andrew Combs
Anthony D’Amato
Barna Howard
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Billy Bragg & Joe Purdy
Birds of Chicago
Brian Wright
The Bros. Landreth
Caleb Caudle
Caleb Klauder Country Band
Carly Ritter
Carsie Blanton
Christopher Paul Stelling
The Contenders
Corb Lund
Dead Winter Carpenters
Dom Flemons
The Dustbowl Revival
Emma Swift
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
The Freightshakers
The Grahams
Grant-Lee Phillips
Guthrie Brown & The Family Tree
Hackensaw Boys
The Hello Strangers
Henry Wagons
Horse Feathers
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Hugh Bob and the Hustle
Jackie Greene
James McMurtry
Joe Pug
John Moreland
John Paul Keith
Kingsley Flood
Kristin Diable
Kristin Andreassen
Laney Jones and the Spirits
Lee Ann Womack
Legendary Shack Shakers
Lera Lynn
Leyla McCalla
Lilly Hiatt
Liz Longley
Los Lobos
Low Cut Connie
Lydia Loveless
Martin Harley
Mary Gauthier
Nikki Lane
Nora Jane Struthers
Oh Pep!
Packway Handle Band
Patty Griffin
Pokey LaFarge
Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen
Ray Wylie Hubbard
River Whyless
Sarah Borges
Sean McConnell
Shemekia Copeland
The Show Ponies
Session Americana
The Steel Wheels
Stephen Kellogg
The Stray Birds
Tall Heights
The Vespers
Water Liars
The Whistles and The Bells
Whitey Morgan and the 78s
The Wild Reeds
William Elliott Whitmore


New releases: Lily Hiatt, Joseph Wooten

Americana Music News – New releases include albums from Lily Hiatt and Joseph Wooten, both artists with strong  Nashville ties:

LilyRoyal Blue Lily Hiatt – Normaltown Records   We first saw Lily Hiatt years some ago as a solo songwriter strumming an acoustic guitar on a side stage at the CMA festival in Nashville. It’s a more mature and musically adventurous Hiatt on the just-released Royal Blue, a dynamic recording produced by Adam Landry with pedal steel, synth and a rock foundation. The lyrics reflect broken relationships, but the sound is bold and confident.

Stumpjumper – Charlie Parr – Red House Records   Set for release on April 28, Charlie Parr’s Stumpjumper release is the first album he’s recorded with a full band. The Duluth-based artist is on tour now, with dates this week in Pittsburgh, Maumee, Ohio and Milwaukee .

Gill LandryGill Landry – ATO Records  Gill Landry , best known as a member of Old Crow Medicine Show, is joined on his third album by guests Laura Marling and Robert Ellis. Landry is touring in support of the album, with dates this week with Justin Townes Earle.

WootenSoul of FreedomJoseph Wooten Joseph Wooten’s latest solo album Soul of Freedom is both familiar and fresh, melding the influences of Steve Wonder and Sly Stone with very contemporary takes on the world around us. Wooten is the keyboardist with the Steve Miller Band and a member of the musically rich Wooten family (his brother Victor guests here.) He also clearly embraces music for its capacity to inform, engage and elevate. From “Life Love Truth” to “Unity” and “I Matter,” Wooten delivers affirmation and reflection in a consistently ambitious musical setting.

Head for the HillsMarkus James – Firenze Records – Head for the Hills continues Markus James’ collaborative blues recordings, teaming him a with a number of drummers from the North Mississippi Hill Country.


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Bonnaroo announces 2015 lineup

Americana Music News — The Bonnaroo Music Festival has announced its  lineup for 2015 and a fair number of Americana music artists are in the mix, including Sturgill SimpsonJerry Douglas and the Earls of Leicester, Mumford and Sons, Alabama Shakes,  Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn and the Punch Brothers.

The line-up so far:

Billy Joel

Mumford & Sons


Kendrick Lamar

Florence + The Machine

Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters

My Morning Jacket


Alabama Shakes

Childish Gambino




Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

Belle & Sebastian


The War on Drugs


Ben Folds

SuperJam !


Atomic Bomb! Who is William Onyeabor?

Tears for Fears

Brandi Carlile

twenty | one | pilots

The Bluegrass Situation SuperJam featuring Ed Helms and Special Guests

Flying Lotus

Earth Wind & Fire


Gary Clark Jr.


Punch Brothers

Medeski, Scofield, Martin, & Wood

Tove Lo

Run The Jewels



Trampled By Turtles

Sturgill Simpson

Moon Taxi


Sylvan Esso

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn


Jamie XX

Against Me!



Jerry Douglas presents Earls of Leicester



Mac DeMarco


The Very Best

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib

Shakey Graves

Shabazz Palaces


Unknown Mortal Orchestra


Benjamin Booker


The Growlers

Glass Animals

Ana Tijoux


Courtney Barnett

Rhiannon Giddens

Royal Blood

Tanya Tagaq


Hurray for the Riff Raff



Between the Buried & Me


Ryn Weaver


Pokey LaFarge



Strand of Oaks


Gregory Alan Isakov

Brownout Presents BROWN SABBATH

The Districts

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear


Catfish & The Bottlemen

Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen


Dej Loaf

Christopher Denny

Hiss Golden Messenger

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas

Unlocking The Truth


Review: Doyle and Debbie on the Sandy Beaches Cruise

The Doyle and Debbie Show

The Doyle and Debbie Show

By Ken Paulson

For years, we’ve heard great things about the Doyle and Debbie Show, a satirical take on country music with a long weekly residency at Nashville’s Station Inn. Instead of seeing it just miles from home, though, we finally caught up with it on Delbert McClinton’s Sandy Beaches Cruise.

The shows tells the story of Doyle, a washed-up old school country singer who never quite made it, and his duo partner Debbie, an earnest and quirky young woman who sees the chance to team up with Doyle as her last, best shot at a career in show business.

It’s laugh-out-loud funny, particularly because Bruce Amston (“Doyle” and the author of the show) and Jenny Littleton (“Debbie”) play it so straight, delivering outlandishly goofy lyrics with heart. Among the songs: “Barefoot and Pregnant,” “When You’re Screwin’ Other Women (Think of Me)” and “Whine Whine Twang Twang.”

There were two performances of the Doyle and Debbie Show on board, and we saw both of them. On the second night, a computer glitch shut down their music in the final minutes of the show, leaving Amston to scramble to a laptop.

At each show, Doyle thanks the audience for being so “forgiving,” but this time, Amston said he really meant it. The computer rebooted, the music kicked in and the show ended with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Celebrating Bobby Keys

By Ken Paulson

(This article first appeared in May 2011 on Sun209. Bobby Keys passed away this week.)

There was a moment in Bobby Keys’ show at the Mercy Lounge when it dawned on everyone just how pivotal a player in rock history he is. Sure, we knew of his long association with the Rolling Stones and his short, but fruitful association with Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen, but then he told a sweet story about hearing his saxophone on the radio for the first time, and how he wished his girlfriend had been there to hear it. And then he played “The Wanderer.”
It was an apt reminder that throughout the first three decades of rock ‘n’ roll, Key’s sax was at the heart of both AM and FM radio, including such songs as “Brown Sugar,” “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” and Bitch”, as well as albums by George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Warren Zevon, Nilsson, Eric Clapton, Faces and dozens more.
Keys’ playing is still vibrant, and he’s joined by a terrific band that includes Dan Baird (Georgia Satellites) on lead vocals and Michael Webb (Poco) on keyboards.
This isn’t an oldies show; it’s a loose and lively celebration of an iconic career, and it does the man justice.

Americana Music Festival on PBS this weekend

Ry Cooder at the Americana music Honors and Awards show

Ry Cooder at the Americana Music Honors and Awards show

The Americana Music Association’s Honors and Award show at the Ryman Auditorium is one of our favorite events of the year, and highlights from the September show  will be shared with a national audience on a special edition of Austin City Limits that begins airing Nov. 22. Performers include Robert Plant, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Rosanne Cash and Flaco Jimenez.

It’s no easy task to distill the best moments of a nearly three-hour event, but the ACL   emphasis is on the music and not the awards. Here’s the setlist shared by the Americana Music Association:

Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.



Reset to Pop: Bill Lloyd’s classic revisited

By Ken Paulson

Bill Lloyd’s Set to Pop was a revelation upon its release in 1994, a buoyant and inventive slice of pop in a league with Emitt Rhodes and Nick Lowe’s Jesus of Cool. So it’s great news that Lloyd has chosen to revisit his classic album 20 years on.

Reset 2014 replicates the track list of the original with remakes, live versions and alternate mixes. The album contains some of Lloyd’s best songwriting, particularly the euphoric opener “I Went Electric,” “the mood swing anthem “Trampoline” (written with Greg Trooper) and the yearning “Forget About Us.”

There’s also a new recording of “Channeling the King,” maybe the smartest Elvis tribute ever recorded, and two live versions of “Niagara Falls,” with contributions by Rusty Young, Billy Block, Byron House, Pat Buchanan, Jason White and Jonell Mosser.

If you’re new to Bill Lloyd’s work, Set to Pop is still the place to start, but Lloyd is offering the original in a bundle with the new release on his website. Highly recommended.

Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.

In concert: Ian Hunter and the Rant Band

By Ken Paulson

You won’t find Ian Hunter on the Happy Together oldies tour anytime soon.

As he made clear in his set Saturday night at the City Winery in Nashville, he’s earned the right at age 75 to play exactly what he wants. So it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise that he did as many songs from his most recent album When I’m President as from his years with Mott the Hoople.

Ian Hunter (photo copyright Ken Paulson)

Ian Hunter (photo by Ken Paulson)

We saw Paul McCartney on tour a few weeks ago and marveled at his stamina and performance. Hunter, three years McCartney’s elder, was just as energetic and committed. From the second song of the evening – a driving take on “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” through the moving “All the Young Dudes” at the close, this was a full-on rock show.

Hunter shifted to keyboards about a third of the way into the set, and delivered some of the show’s best moments, including a poignant “Irene Wilde” and raucous “All the Way From Memphis.”

It’s a measure of his deep catalog with Mott and as a solo artist that so many great songs were left on the sidelines. For my part, I would have traded “Boy” or “Bastard” for the fun factor of “Central Park and West,” “Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll” or “Cleveland Rocks,” but I’m sure every Hunter fan has own list of favorites.

It’s remarkable that an artist whose band scored just a single hit in the U.S can continue to tour to good-sized crowds a half-century into his career. And yet his audience is with him every step of the way, devoted, enthralled and cheering madly for “I Wish I Was Your Mother” and “Michael Picasso.”

Hunter clearly doesn’t take that for granted.

“I can’t believe you’re still here and I really can’t believe I’m still here, he sang on “Life,” as he neared the end of the set.

Believe it. Ian Hunter still delivers.

(Nashville’s own Amy Speace opened the show with a brief, but compelling set, previewing her upcoming album That Kind of Girl. You can pre-order it here.)


Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.







Bobby Bare, Bobby Bare Jr. at City Winery

By Ken Paulson

Bobby Bare Jr. knew this wasn’t going to be a fair fight.

“He’s playing nothing but hits and I ain’t got no hits,” he said in mock exasperation, recalling the first time he shared the stage with his father Bobby Bare at the Bluebird Cafe.

Two generations of Bares at the City Winery in Nashville

Two generations of Bares at the City Winery in Nashville

Nonetheless, he agreed to the double bill a second time for a show Friday night at the City Winery in Nashville. Once again, the elder Bare showed no mercy, beginning the evening with his classic “Detroit City” and then playing close to a dozen country hits over the course of the evening.

Bare Jr. was clearly delighted to team up with his dad, serving up his own unconventional tunes in counterpoint. Irreverence and a deep love of music clearly run through their shared DNA. Bare Jr. played a number of songs from his new album Undefeated, including “My Baby Took My Baby Away,” written with Hayes Carll.

“I don’t understand how I lost you to this little man” who has “itty bitty boots and a big fat face,” he sang, detailing the impact of a new child on a couple’s relationship. Somehow it’s a sweet song.

Decidedly less endearing was “The Big Time,” a funny fantasy about becoming such a big success you can kiss your current friends goodbye. “I want to go bowling with Sheryl Crow,” he explained.

Bobby Bare had his own goofy moments during the anatomy lesson that is Shel Silverstein’s “The Mermaid.” Bare may be Silverstein’s very best interpreter.

Bare Jr. had his own song about love gone bad. Before performing “Don’t Go to Chattanooga,” he recalled losing the girl from Manchester, TN who inspired the song. If she had only foreseen Bonnaroo coming to her hometown and his eventual performance there, she would never have left him, he said.

For his part, Bobby Bare just kept performing the hits, including “Streets of Baltimore,” “Four Strong Winds,” “Margie’s at the Lincoln Park Inn,” The Winner,” “That’d How I Got to Memphis” and even “Dropkick Me Jesus,” written by Paul Craft, who passed away weeks ago.

The Bares closed this memorable pairing with “Marie Laveau,” teaming up on the song’s bloodcurdling screams.

The audience would’ve stuck around for multiple encores but the younger Bare explained that wasn’t possible.

Dad “goes to bed at 7:30 and it took three naps” to get him this far, he said.


Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.




Staying Cool: Tim Carroll at the Mayday Brewery

By Ken Paulson

I first saw Tim Carroll perform at a Nashville festival in the late ‘90s, where he shared a set with Amy Rigby and Kevin Gordon. All three impressed and clearly had bright futures, fueled by remarkable songs. Over the past 15 years, all have had considerable critical acclaim, though none have had major commercial success.

Tim Carroll at Mayday Brewery

Tim Carroll at Mayday Brewery

That doesn’t appear to bother Carroll, who recapped his career in a song at his show at the Mayday Brewery in Murfreesboro, TN, Saturday night.

“All I ever wanted was to play guitar/never really cared if I became a star/everybody says I’m close, but no cigar” he sang on “That’s Rock & Roll,” a track from his Look Out! album.

Joined by bassist Bones Hillman and drummer Steve Lantanation, Carroll turned in a vibrant set of full throttle rock ‘n’ roll. He played for almost 2 hours, including songs from his upcoming album Pure Coal. Carroll was self-deprecating throughout, explaining to the audience that they wouldn’t know any of the songs “because I wrote them” and radio doesn’t play them. And that’s a shame.

Mayday is a special venue. It’s a brewery and not a club, and the menu consists of beer and more beer. A food truck outside offers dinner. It’s a sparse, but great setting for live music.

The crowd at the Carroll show was modest, and most in the audience seemed to have wandered in from the bar.

Bu no matter. Carroll, Hillman and Lantanation never let up, delivering energetic and anthemic music all night, including “You Can’t Stay Young, But You Can Stay Cool.” For Tim Carroll, that’s mission accomplished.

Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.



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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 DiveIt’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 CDAngaleena 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

FranklinBy 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_redThe 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: 
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
Brooke Russell & the Mean Reds
Cale Tyson
Caleb Klauder Country Band
Cory Chisel’s “Soul Obscura”
The Danberrys
The Hot Nut Riveters
Howard Fishman
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 termsby 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_redThe 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.


Jack Clement’s “For Once and For All”

Jack ClementBy 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.


Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.







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