New releases: Jim Lauderdale, Ted Hawkins tribute

New and recent releases in Americana music:

Jim LauderdaleSoul Searching Volumes 1 and 2 Jim Lauderdale – Music should always be about quality and not quantity, but there’s something astonishing about Jim Lauderdale’s output over the years. In a 30-year span, he’s released 28 albums of real merit. Apparently concerned about underachieving, he has now released the double-disc Soul Searching collection, with one disc recorded in Memphis and the other in Nashville. They’re both excellent, though we’ll admit to being partial to the Memphis set, recorded at Royal Studios with Charles and Leroy Hodges, Alvin Youngblood Hart and other soulful players. Luther and Cody Dickinson appear on both discs.

Get Together: Banana Recalls Youngbloods Classics – Grandpa Raccoon Records – Founding Youngbloods member Lowell Levinger aka “Banana” offers up a spirited collection of what John Sebastian once described as “good time music.” An agreeable colleciton of jugband and folk music includes appearances by David Grisman, Ry Cooder. Maria Muldaur and the late Jesse Colin Young.

Devil MusicRandall BramblettNew West Records – We were impressed by Randall Bramblett’s The Bright Spots and Devil Music is a worthy follow-up, with appearances by Chuck Leavell, Derek Trucks and Mark Knopfler.

Ted HawkinsCold and Bitter Tears: The Song of Ted Hawkins – Eight 30 Records – Ted Hawkins was a street singer whose talent transcended those humble origins. His first release on a major label came just a year before his death in 1995, but his musical legacy remains vibrant. This collection of his songs features an amazing array of Hawkins fans, including Kasey Chambers, Mary Gauthier, Tim Easton and James McMurtry, plus an

Hear the Bang: The Life and Music of Denny Lile – Big Legal Mess Records – The music business has always been tough, and countless talented players have never recieved the recogniton that their talent warranted. This new release is a case study, chronicling the career of Denny Lile,  a Louisville singer and songwriter who seemed destined for great things. Four decades after Lile’s debut album, a documentary and CD tell us what we missed.






Review: Kim Richey in Richmond

A review from jmcspadden3 in New Depression:

Hank Williams film delayed


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Hall inducts Oak Ridge Boys, Browns, Grady Martin

By Ken Paulson

It was a night of sentiment and celebration at the Country Music Hall of Fame tonight as the Oak Ridge Boys, the Browns and the late Grady Martin were inducted into the hall at the annual Medallion Ceremony in Nashville.

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks perform in honor of the Oak Ridge Boys

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks perform in honor of the Oak Ridge Boys

The Oak Ridge Boys,  whose roots go back seven decades to a group called the Georgia Clodhoppers, were honored for the modern incarnation of the quartet – Duane Allen, Richard Sterban, Joe Bonsall and William Lee Golden – who have earned 34 top ten hits, with 17 of those going to number one.

The group’s biggest hit came in 1981 with “Elvira,” which soared to the upper tier of both the pop and country charts.

Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood performed the Oak Ridge Boys’ “I’ll be True to You,” while the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jeff Hanna contributed “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight.”

The Browns – Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie – had steady chart success from 1955 to 1967, when they disbanded.

In 1959, they recorded “The Three Bells,” a song first made popular by Edith Piaf. It was a huge pop and country hit. “Scarlet Ribbons” and “The Old Lamplighter” were other crossover hits for the trio.

Jim Ed Brown went on to a robust solo career and passed away in June. He received the Hall of Fame’s medallion in a private event shortly before his death.

Dierks Bentley

Dierks Bentley

Carolyn Martin and Chris Scruggs performed the Browns’ “Looking Back to See” and the Isaacs recreated “The Three Bells.” Dierks Bentley was on hand to do his version of  Jim Ed Brown’s biggest solo hit “Pop A Top.”

Also inducted was Grady Martin, who died in 2001, but left behind an astonishing musical legacy. He played fiddle for Hank Williams.  It’s his guitar that helped propell Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” and Marty Robbin’s “El Paso.” He worked on the sessions for “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy,” “Honky Tonk Man,” “Saginaw, Michigan,” “Satin Sheets” and dozens of other hit records.

His son Joshua Martin told us that his father’s gift was to play exactly what was needed on any particular recording session.

Vince Gill played Martin’s guitar part on “El Paso” along with Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives. Duane Eddy and Mandy Barnett teamed up for a version of “Don’t Worry,” showcasing Martin’s groundbreaking “fuzz tone.”


Jeff Hanna celebrates the Oak Ridge Boys

From the Medallion Ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame:

Duane Eddy and Mandy Barnett salute Grady Martin

Performing at the Medallion Ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame:

Grady Martin headed for Country Music Hall of Fame

By Ken Paulson

As a little boy, I heard more Marty Robbins LPs than Disney records.

My Uncle Don couldn’t get enough of Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs album and played it over and over on the family stereo.  I still know the words to “Big Iron.”

Grady Martin's son Joshua at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Grady Martin’s son Joshua at the Country Music Hall of Fame

But the most riveting track was, of course, “El Paso,” propelled by the amazing guitar work of Grady Martin.

A couple of years later, Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” exploded onto AM radios, driven by Martin’s electric guitar.

And on it goes: Martin’s guitar work is on “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Honky Tonk Man,” “Saginaw, Michigan,” “Satin Sheets” and many more hit records. It turns out we’ve all been listening to Martin our entire lives.

Martin is being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this month, along with the Oak Ridge Boys, Jim Ed Brown and the Browns.

”He didn’t use one recognizable sound,” Bob Moore, Martin’s celebrated sessions colleague, told the Tennessean’s Peter Cooper after Martin’s death in 2001”What he did was so varied, but the things he came up with were always outstanding, no matter the style. I think he’s the single greatest guitar player we’ve had here in Nashville.”
Grady Martin’s son Joshua was at the Country Music Hall of Fame earlier this month at an informal event honoring Martin and fellow inductees the Browns. He shared his thoughts on what made his father’s work so special:




After Nashville: Jason Isbell’s 2015 concert schedule

Jason Isbell at the Americana Music Festival Honors and Awards show in 2014.

Jason Isbell at the Americana Music Festival Honors and Awards show in 2014.

Nashville – Jason Isbell’s opening show at the Ryman Auditorium for a four-night run drew a rave review from the Tennessean’s Juli Thanki, who wrote:

“Isbell isn’t a flashy performer. Instead, he lets his lyrics do the heavy lifting, and the packed house was enthralled, singing along with songs like “Codeine” and a stunning rendition of “Cover Me Up.”
Isbell will be at the Ryman through Oct. 26, but here’s the schedule for the rest of the tour:
10/29 – Amarillo, TX – Potter County Memorial Stadium
10/30 – New Orleans, LA – Voodoo Music Experience
11/6 – Knoxville, TN – Tennessee Theatre
11/7 – Boone, NC – Schaefer Center for the Arts
11/8 – Chattanooga, TN – Tivoli Theatre
11/12 – Madison, WI – Capitol Theater
11/13 – Eau Claire, WI – State Theatre
11/14 – Green Bay, WI – Meyer Theatre
11/19 – Durham, NC – Durham Performing Arts Center
11/20 – Roanoke, VA – Berglund Center
11/21 – Savannah, GA – Lucas Theatre for the Arts
12/9 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater
12/10 & 11 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
12/12 – Omaha, NE – Sokol Auditorium
1/6 – Oslo, Norway – Rockefeller
1/7 – Stockholm, Sweden – Bern
1/8 – Gotenburg, Sweden – Pustervik
1/9 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Vega
1/11 – Berlin, Germany – Privatclub
1/12 – Hamburg, Germany – Knust
1/13 – Cologne, Germany – Blue Shell
1/15 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
1/16 – Brussels, Belgium – Orangerie
1/18 – Paris, France – La Maroquinerie
1/19 – Brighton, UK – Concorde 2
1/20 – Bristol, UK – Trinity
1/22 – London, UK – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
1/23 – Manchester, UK – Ritz
1/24 – Glasgow, UK – O2 ABC Celtic Connections
1/31-2/6 – Miami, FL Cayamo Cruise
2/11 & 12 – Austin, TX – ACL Live at the Moody Theater
2/16 – Dallas, TX – South Side Ballroom
2/17 – St. Louis, MO – Peabody Opera House
2/19 – Indianapolis, IN – The Murat Theatre
2/20 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
2/25 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
2/27 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
2/29 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall
3/1 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre
3/2 – Pittsburgh, PA – Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
3/5 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre


Robert Ellis in concert at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck

 By Paul T. Mueller

We should have a new album from singer-songwriter Robert Ellis in a few months, and if the shows he’s playing in the meantime are any indication, that album should be excellent. At his October 8 gig at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck in Houston, Ellis showcased five new tunes – a quarter of the 20-song set – and all sounded worthy of what he calls his best album yet.

Ellis, who grew up in Lake Jackson, not far from Houston, drew a near-capacity crowd, a notable achievement for a 9:30 show on a weeknight. He rewarded them with a solid two-hour performance that included not just his distinctive singing and masterful work on guitar and keyboard, but also healthy doses of personality and showmanship. After politely declining a beer offered by an audience member, he revealed that he had quit drinking several weeks ago. If this show was any indication, sobriety agrees with him. He filled the breaks between songs with cheerful back-and-forth with the audience, explanations of his music (and of his clothes), an enthusiastic endorsement of his new capo, and other such ramblings, frequently profane but always good-natured.

Standouts among the new songs included “You’re Not the One,” detailing the struggle to exorcise the memories of a love gone bad; “Drivin’,” a country-ish look at the aimlessness that can derail a productive life, and “Perfect Strangers,” a poppy song about love and loss that brought to mind, in its lyrics and its setting (New York), one of Ellis’ songwriting heroes, Paul Simon.

Kudos to Ellis for his choice of cover material as well. He performed a soulful rendition of Simon’s doleful “Hearts and Bones” – which, along with the album of the same name, was released five years before Ellis was born – and an excellent take on Tony Rice’s “Church Street Blues,” featuring some frenetic bluegrass picking.

The rest of the set consisted of older Ellis material, including “Bamboo,” a song based on his childhood; the uplifting “I’ll Never Give Up on You”; the straight country anthem “Coming Home”; “Bottle of Wine,” a rueful exploration of the dangers of self-medication; the cheerful “Couple Skate,” which he dedicated to a schoolboy crush, and the crowd-pleasing “Houston,” an ode to the city he once called home. Despite numerous requests, he didn’t sing “Chemical Plant,” the centerpiece of last year’s The Lights from the Chemical Plant, opting instead for several other songs from that album. He closed with an intense rendition of “Sing Along,” an angry blast at religion that he described as a reaction to having grown up in a very religious household.

Ellis, who was nominated for several Americana Music Association awards last year on the strength of Lights, told the Mucky Duck audience that his new album is now being mixed and should be released next spring.

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