Interview: Kim Richey on “Thorn in my Heart”

kim richeyBy 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:

Interview: Randall Bramblett on “The Bright Spots”

bramblettSun209 – We caught up with Randall Bramblett at the Americana Music Festival. He played a great, but short set to open the evening at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville. Here’s Bramblett on his career and new album The Bright Spots:

Ben Miller Band at Americana Music Festival

Ben Miller Band @AmericanaFest @newwestrecords showcase in Nashville http://t.co/FjsBo3DKbB

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Duos dominate Americana Music Awards

Americana Music News — Duos dominated at tonight’s Americana Music Association Honors and Awards show at the Ryman.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell won for album of the year for Old Yellow Moon, and were also  named top duo/group.

A younger pair – Shovels and Rope – was named emerging artist of the year, and also won the song of the year category for “Birmingham.”

Dwight Yoakam was named artist of the year in an evening that honored other music veterans in these categories:

Dr. John with Don Was

Dr. John with Don Was

Instrumentalist of the year:  Larry Campbell

Spirit of Americana  Free Speech in Music Award   Stephen Stills

Trailblazer Award:  Old Crow Medicine Show

Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist: Duane Eddy

Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive: Chris Strachwitz

Lifetime Achievement for Performance:  Dr. John

Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter: Robert Hunter

President’s Award: Hank Williams

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Dr. John and Dan Auerbach at the Americana Music Festival

Dr. John and Dan Auerbach #americanafest. wow. http://t.co/Z8WJksLENS

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Richard Thompson playing “Good Things Happen to Bad People”

Richard Thompson @AmericanaFest good things… http://t.co/eOWMfZO9kj

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Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis ignite the Blasters’ “Border Radio”

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis ignite the Blasters’ “Border Radio,” #americanafest http://t.co/i7Qihl7qpw

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Tim Easton and Megan Palmer delight fans in Houston

 By Paul T. Mueller

Tim Easton’s in-store performance at Cactus Music in Houston on Sept. 13 delighted fans who got considerably more than is typical of such gigs. Easton, accompanied by fiddler and musical partner Megan Palmer, didn’t stop at the four or five songs that are more or less standard for promotional appearances. Instead the duo stuck around for more than a dozen, throwing in some oldies, a cover and even a brand-new song, along with seven selections from Easton’s newest CD, Not Cool. From the look of it, they might have kept going had they not been scheduled to play a house concert later in the evening.

From Not Cool, Easton and Palmer played, not necessarily in this order, “Little Doggie (1962),” “Don’t Lie,” “Gallatin Pike Blues,” “Troubled Times,” “Four Queens,” “They Will Bury You” and one we’ll call, for the sake of delicacy, “Crazy MF from Shelby, Ohio.” Without full-band backup, the tunes got a folkier treatment than the rockabilly/Memphis versions on the CD, but Easton’s excellent guitar, harmonica and kick drum, plus Palmer’s lovely fiddle and vocals, proved more than adequate.

Megan Palmer and Tim Easton (Paul T. Mueller)

Megan Palmer and Tim Easton (Paul T. Mueller)

Easton also reached back into his extensive catalog for fine renditions of “Don’t Walk Alone” and “Carry Me” (the latter by audience request), as well as the more recent “California Bars,” “Dear Old Song and Dance” and “Burgundy Red” (Easton introduced the latter as an example of what he called “pre-hab music”). At one point he threw in a traveling song called “On My Way,” which he said he has not yet recorded. Palmer got a turn at lead vocal on John Hartford’s “In Tall Buildings,” also by request.

If fine songwriting and outstanding musicianship aren’t enough, give Easton and Palmer points for their work ethic as well. Earlier in the day, the two visited a local radio station for a fairly lengthy interview, including playing a few songs on the air, and all of it came less than 24 hours after opening for Billy Joe Shaver in Austin, a few hours’ drive from Houston. That kind of roadwork isn’t easy, but from the buzz Not Cool has been getting, it seems to be paying off.

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Revisited: Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Buddy Emmons

bakersfieldBy Ken Paulson

Two new and notable albums celebrate country music’s heritage, successfully revisiting classic songs in a contemporary setting.

Vince Gill and premier steel guitar player Paul Franklin team up on Bakersfield to celebrate California country, specifically the recordings of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.

It’s no surprise that the playing of these Time Jumpers bandmates is impeccable. What is surprising is just how fresh these half-century old songs sound.

The tracks alternate between those made famous by Owens and Haggard and include “Together Again,” “Foolin’ Around,” “The Bottle Let Me Down” and “I Can’t Be Myself.”

Gill and Franklin grew up on these songs  and their comfort level shows, though it’s a bit disquieting to hear perennial nice guy Gill snarl about “some squirrelly guy who claims he don’t believe in fightin’” on Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me.”

Gill and Franklin show up again on The Big E – A Salute to Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons, performing album opener “Country Boy.”

Album producer and former Hot Band steel guitarist Steve Fishell put this project together, pairing great players and singers on songs that played a significant role in Emmons’ storied career.

Duane Eddy, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, Greg Leisz and Raul Malo are among the big names here, performing songs from multiple decades.

The biggest treats include a couple of pop-oriented tunes. Albert Lee and JayDee Manness team on “Rainbows All Over Your Blues,” a song from John Sebastian’s first solo album that was transformed by Emmons’ solo. Similarly, Joanie Keller Johnson and Mike Johnson offer a fine cover of “Someday Soon,” a Judy Collins hit graced by Emmons’ licks.

The album includes reverential, detailed and sometimes technical liner notes from Fishell that make clear just how influential Emmons was.  Highly recommended.

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Review: Butchers Blind’s “Destination Blues”

butchersBy Ken Paulson

Press releases promoting Butchers Blinds’ Destination Blues (Paradiddle Records) emphasize influences like Uncle Tupelo, the Hold Steady and even the Replacements,  but those comparisons largely escape me.

This  band from Bellerose, New York, plays a highly accessible brand of rock and country, melding strong melodies with intriguing themes.

“Nobody Hears What I Say Anymore”  is about dashed dreams, and surprisingly, sounds like David Crosby and Graham Nash. “OPP”  is an energetic rocker that would have been at home on a Gin Blossoms record. Other tracks bring Tom Petty to mind.

The common denominator, though, is disciplined and focused songwriting, and that bodes well for this promising band.

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