Gregg Allman tops Americana chart

Gregg Allman is #1 on this week’s Americana Music Association Chart with his new CD “Low Country Blues,” edging out Robert Plant’s “Band of Joy.”
What year is this?
I’m not complaining. It’s actually pretty astonishing (and encouraging) to see artists you’ve admired for decades find a new home in Americana.

Greg Trooper CD preview

Greg Trooper’s new CD “Upside-Down Town” will be released in a few days. Here’s a live version of “They Call Me Hank” from the new album.

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John Oates at the Bluebird Cafe

Nashville has long been the home or hangout of the stars who graced our ’60s and ’70s record collections. John Kay, John Fogerty, Peter Frampton and Felix Cavaliere have all called Nashville home. Now John Oates has established partial residency in Nashville. He showed up at the Bluebird this week to perform in the round with Sam Bush and Jeff Black.
It was an entertaining evening, highlighted by guest Jimmy Wayne’s rendition of “Sara Smile,” with Oates singing harmony. Oates didn’t do any Hall and Oates hits himself , but played lesser-known songs from the duo’s albums and some from his solo albums.

John Oates at the Bluebird Cafe

A tribute to John Prine

After years of tribute albums that tend to be purely celebratory, it’s nice to come across one that’s revelatory.

Cover John Prine? That’s a tall order. He’s a distinctive performer with an unconventional style and phrasing, and a voice that seems built for his songs. Yet there’s a freshness to Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows, thanks to respectful, but not too respectful performances by younger Americana/folk artists.

The goofy upbeat material works best, with Those Darlins’ charming “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian” and  Drive-By Truckers’ rockabilly take on “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” among the highlights. Particualrly intriguing is “Six O’Clock News” by Lambchop, the rendition most likely to alienate long-time Prine fans. It’s a dark and essentially spoken-word, but compelling.

Tied for clearly having the best time on the album: Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band doing “Wedding Day in Funeralville” and the Avett Brothers on “Spanish Pipedream.”

Fans of My Morning Jacket, Justin Vernon of  Bon Iver and Josh Ritter may well discover Prine through these artists’ cover versions. He’s truly a timeless artist and this CD reminds us of just how wry, engaging and consistent a songwriter he has been for almost four decades.

Lorraine – Lori McKenna

By Ken Paulson

You can almost hear Lori McKenna exhale with relief on Lorraine, her new CD and the first in some time without the commercial pressure of a label. She’s back to a sparer sound and continues to write about life’s trials and passages, from the frustration of being taken for granted (“If He Tried”) to the loss of a loved one (“Still Down Here.”) The title song is a thoughtful tribute to her mother, just one of many songs here that resonate with real life. This is music for adults with a few miles on them – and a few more yet to go.

Tin Pan South dates announced

The Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival has been set for Tuesday, March 29, through Saturday, April 2. This is always a great event, with an amazing range of singers and songwriters. Passes go on sale on March 9 at tinpansouth.com.

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Don Henry’s birthday bash at the Bluebird

Don Henry celebrates his birthday on New Year's Eve eve.

One of the very best ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve eve is to attend Don Henry’s birthday bash at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. Last night was no exception. Henry, a Grammy award-winning songwriter, throws his own birthday party each year, inviting talented friends and co-writers. A highlight: Bobby Braddock dropped in to perform his George Jones classic “He Stopped Loving Her Today.
Tom Kimmel. Henry’s bandmate in the Waymores, sat in for a couple songs from that group’s upcoming CD. One of the songs was a direct nod to the Byrds, but both songs had that upbeat ’60s folk-rock feel to them — and that’s a good thing.
Craig Carothers and Danny Flowers joined Henry in the round. Carothers played a new song called “There is No U in We.” Like other Carothers songs, it’s dark and cynical, but also very melodic and funny. Flowers opened the show with his “Tulsa Time” and closed with his “East Batcave Shell Station Blues.” That’s some range.
The Bluebird was packed on a Thursday night; it’s my guess that this is that this show has become a tradition for a lot of folks. It’s really the best part of Nashville: incredibly talented people playing and singing as if they were in their living room and the audience consists of friends that just happened to have to pay a cover.

Cayamo 2011 features John Prine

One of my favorite musical events each year takes place on the water. Cayamo is a floating music festival, a cruise that features a remarkable array of performers and about 12 hours of music a day.

Cayamo 2011 will feature John Prine, Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, the Indigo Girls, Buddy Miller, Brandi Carlisle and many more. The cruise includes stops in the British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands and Bahamas.

You’ll find more details at http://www.cayamo.com.

Tin Pan South 2011 dates

Looking ahead: The 2011 Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival has been scheduled for the week of March 29, 2011. Watch for ticket sales information at www.tinpansouth.com.

Video interview with Cowboy Jack Clement

Given the inspiration for Sun 209, it seems appropriate to share this video link of an interview with Cowboy Jack Clement from the Speaking Freely television show. Jack talks about Sun Records, his writing and recording career, Johnny Cash and the fateful day Jerry Lee Lewis walked into the studio. You’ll find a transcript here.

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