“I Love:” Tom T. Hall at the Hall

Tom T. Hall really knows how to celebrate his 75th birthday. He was joined by a stellar group of musicians at the Country Music Hall of Fame tonight to celebrate the release of “I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow.” The new album features a remarkable array of artists revisiting Hall’s “Songs of Fox Hollow,” a 1974 children’s…

Shawn Mullins lights up Portland

By Lou Brancaccio — Folk rock singer Shawn Mullins played to a sold out crowd Saturday night at Portland’s historic Aladdin Theater on Milwaukie Avenue. He then headed to Seattle for what he thought would be the end of his West Coast tour swing. Not so fast. Mullins opted to come back to Portland on Monday night to the cheers…

Robert Plant, Elizabeth Cook lead Americana music awards nominations

Robert Plant and Elizabeth Cook led the 2011 Americana Music Association Award nominations with three each. Other nominees, including Mumford and Sons and the Decemberists, illustrate the range of music that comes under the Americana umbrella. The nominations were announced in New York today by Rosanne Cash, following a webcast concert featuring The Civil Wars, Levon Helm, Jim Lauderdale, Cash…

Kathy Ashworth’s “Sicka Cicadas”

Kathy Ashworth, a Nashville singer-songwriter who spends a lot of quality time at the Bluebird Cafe, has just released “Sicka Cicadas,” a fun video that speaks for many. You’ll find it here. We suppose she’ll release it again in 17 years.

Bonnaroo 2011: The 10 Most Intriguing Acts

By Ken Paulson Bonnaroo just published its 2011 schedule and as usual, the line-up is deep and diverse. Eminem, Lil Wayne and Arcade Fire are the biggest names, but there’s another tier of cool and intriguing acts. Here are 10 can’t-miss sets of 2011: Buffalo Springfield: Without this band, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Poco and Loggins and Messina would not…

Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Martina McBride honor CMA

The Country Music Association was honored with the Dale Franklin Award by Leadership Music tonight, and some of the biggest names in classic and contemporary country music performed. Loretta Lynn kicked things off with “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Keith Urban covered Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman,” Brad Paisley performed Buck Owens’ “Tiger by the Tail” and Martina McBride did her own hit…

Grammy Block Party 2011

The Recording Academy held its 13th Annual block party in Nashville, and booked an amazingly diverse line-up, including the Civil Wars, Laura Bell Bundy, Old Crow Medicine Show, Chancellor Warhol and Royal Tailor. Industry crowds are not always the most attentive audiences, but the music was outstanding.

Gospel of Tom Jones

The setlists on Tom Jones’ current tour are short on hits and long on gospel and blues, but that mix felt right at the storied Ryman Auditorium in Nashville last night. At a time when Robert Plant is viewed as an Americana artist, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jones could so successfully embrace songs of faith and passion.…

Celebrating protest music

I’m pretty sure the first “protest song” I ever bought was the Hedgehoppers Anonymous single “Good News Week,” a 1965 project by Jonathan King that sold surprisingly well in the Chicago area and not so well elsewhere. Of course, it wasn’t really a protest song. It was just a calculated effort to make a buck when topicality was in vogue.…

“I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”

Steve Earle tells USA Today’s Jerry Shriver that the songs on his new album, “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” focus on mortality: “They’re about mortality in the sense that, this is the one thing we all have to do. You know what they say about death and taxes. But you have the option to not pay taxes.…

Triumphant “Tomorrow:” Foster and Lloyd Reunite

I first saw Bill Lloyd on stage at a club in downtown Nashville in 1997. I was impressed with his power pop-flavored set and cover of the Kinks’ “This is Where I Belong.” I figured he was an up-and-comer with impeccable taste in covers. It wasn’t until later that I learned that he was the Lloyd of Foster and Lloyd,…

Songs of Fox Hollow: A salute to Tom T. Hall

I had the chance to see Peter Cooper and Eric Brace join Tom T. Hall in a songwriters in the round session not long ago, and both were clearly excited to be performing with an artist they admire so much. They spoke excitedly about “I Love,” a forthcoming CD saluting Hall’s wonderful children’s record “Songs of Fox Hollow.” They’ve done…

Blue Sky Riders fulfill their “Dream”

The Tin Pan South Festival capped off a great week with the debut of the Blue Sky Riders, a new band teaming Kenny Loggins with Nashville songwriters Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman. It’s an unlikely combination, but it really works. Loggins said he had such a great time writing songs with Burr for his last album that he impulsively decided…

The Ultimate Songwriters’ Round, plus Lynn Anderson

By Ken Paulson Songwriters in the round can have the feel of a poker game, particularly when someone plays a big hit. Sudenly, everyone is raising, playing their own hits. That can make for a very entertaining evening, particularly when every songwriter has a hot hand. On the final night of Tin Pan South, the round at the Bluebird Cafe…

Texans come out in force at Tin Pan South

Some of Texas’ best-known songwriters assembled at the Hard Rock Cafe last night as part of the Tin Pan South songwriters festival. Gary Nicholson, Leroy Parnell, Bruce “Hey Baby” Channel and Michael Martin Murphey shared the stage. They’re clearly old friends and build off each other’s performances. Murphy was the biggest name, underscoring that by playing his two biggest singles…

Tom T. Hall at Tin Pan South

Tin Pan South’s highlight to date had to be Tom T. Hall’s performance at the Bluebird Cafe tonight. Hall said he plays just one night a year and this was it. Lucky audience. Tom T. played some of this best-known songs, supplemented with entertaining anecdotes and playfulness. He followed up his “How I Got to Memphis” (surprisingly, the most lucrative…

Tin Pan South opens

Tin Pan South, the songwriters’ festival organized by the Nashville Songwriters Association International opened tonight with its usual deep line-up of talent. I opted for a show featuring David Olney, Tom Littlefield, Chris Scruggs and Brennen Leigh. That proved to be a good choice, with one great song after another. I’ve seen Olney and Scruggs many times, and they’re always…

Cayamo’s 2012 line-up

Sixthman has announced its initial 2012 Cayamo line-up, including John Hiatt, John Prine and Lyle Lovett. For the uninitiated, this is a February cruise that features some of the top Americana music artists in a weeklong music festival on the ocean. Among others booked for next year: Richard Thompson, Keb Mo, Buddy Miller, Loudon Wainwright, Iris Dement, Greg Brown, Shawn…

Wilder, Jones and Rotenberry celebrate Americana

The 2011 American Music Association series at the Bluebird kicked off Thursday with sets by the duo of Brad Jones and Hans Rotenberry and Webb Wilder. Jones and Rotenberry’s “Mountain Jack” CD is an eminently entertaining blend of melodic pop and Americana. They played much of the album, plus one song from Rotenberry’s band “The Shazam.” The acoustic renditions were…