Wednesday, August 2, 2017

MID-Week Country Music Countdown & Country Music News...August 2, 2017 (Now with links)


COUNTRY CHART Weekend of July 29-30:

2 THOMAS RHETT Craving You w/Maren Morris
3 RASCAL FLATTS Yours If You Want It
4 KEITH URBAN The Fighter w/Carrie Underwood
5 BLAKE SHELTON Every Time I Hear That Song
7 COLE SWINDELL Flatliner w/Dierks Bentley
8 MIDLAND Drinkin’ Problem
10 JUSTIN MOORE Somebody Else Will
11 OLD DOMINION No Such Thing As a Broken Heart
12 DUSTIN LYNCH Small Town Boy
14 JON PARDI Heartache On The Dance Floor
15 KIP MOORE More Girls Like You
18 JASON ALDEAN They Don’t Know
19 CARLY PEARCE Every Little Thing
20 BRETT ELDREDGE Something I’m Good At



Joe Nichols Commits to Traditional Country

Talks New Album Never Gets Old and Honky-Tonk Version of Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back” 

Through the years of country music trends, one thing that will never go out of style is Joe Nichols’ voice and the traditional country he sings.
On his latest 12-track album Never Gets Old, he mostly sings about love — making it (“Hostage” and “Breathless”), falling for it to the sounds of live music (“Girl in the Song”) and investing in it (“Diamonds Make Babies”).
But on the striking “We All Carry Something,” co-written by Westin Davis and Justin Weaver, Nichols sings about the imperfections that make people human. The verses sing of a woman who inherited alcoholism from her mother, a Chicago cop who cries over witnessing a world of crime on the job and a Purple Heart war veteran who lives with memories of his time in the service and shrapnel in his arm.
“We all kind of carry our junk from our past and so the being alone part doesn’t have to be part of the problem,” Nichols said during our interview. “There’s a redeeming factor in the song that doesn’t make it such a sad song about pain. It’s sad song about everybody having pain and it’s alright. We’re all in it together. It’s a very powerful song that’s unique in the fact that it grips you from the very beginning, and it punches you at the very end.”
For our Q&A, Nichols kicked back on a couch at the Music Row headquarters of his home label Red Bow Records, an imprint of Broken Bow Music Group (Jason Aldean, Dustin Lynch, Chase Rice and others). The 13-minute conversation was mostly about Never Get Old, including his updated honky-tonk version of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hit “Baby Got Back.” Nichols remembers there was no escaping the 1992 hit 25 years ago. It was everywhere.
“I always listened to country even when country wasn’t cool,” Nichols said. “But there are certain songs you can’t get away from. I remember it being huge when I was 15 or 16, and we did a lot of cruising back then. We’d just drive down the main strip in town and ride around in circles. That song was in every car about every night. You see four or five girls in the car, rapping ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie.'” That still happens whenever that song comes on.
Nichols: I met Sir Mix-a-Lot. He said it’s one of the top most-played songs at weddings. He said he does weddings, as well. It’s like the Chicken Dance: It gets everybody on the floor dancing. It’s that kind of brand on its own.
What are some perennial themes in country music that never get old to you?
I always love a good love song. Not your basic “let’s hook up tonight” love song or anything raunchy like that. But I like a good, sweet-sentiment song like “Never Gets Old,” “Forever and Ever, Amen,” I always think those are good. I was talking with someone yesterday about the philosophy of old Don Williams and Merle Haggard songs like “The Way I Am,” and state-of-mind kind songs. I’ve always thought those are great and there aren’t enough of them. Plus, honestly the honky-tonk songs — the old Hank Jr. style honky-tonk songs — those never get old to me.
Is there a double meaning behind the title of the album?
Oh, yeah. It’s a perfect album title because it encapsulates the feeling of this album and what I feel the style of music this is. Traditional music never gets old to me. That’s something that’s always been a constant in my heart. This album being traditional country, it never gets old to me. And the song, it’s just one of those toe-tapping, feel good, love songs with no crazy instruments punching you in the face — no crazy gadgets and no big instrumentals. It’s just simple country songs, sung simply with simple little messages.
Because you’ve stuck to singing traditional country all this time, do you feel there’s a fan demand for the type of music you make and are you seeing that play out when you perform live?
Absolutely. The past couple years, we haven’t had much at radio while we were making this record, and I’ve seen the crowds grow bigger. I think there’s a portion of the fan base in country music who are seeking traditional country more than they have in a long time. It’s great for me, and it’s a huge sigh of relief that we have this album at this time when it was frustrating that it took so long to get it done. But then again, the timing feels better right now than it would have been a year ago.
Talk about the courage it takes to commit to your signature sound as trends change?
I think it’s a little less scary today than it has been in several years to have a traditional country album. I heard a great interview with Bobby Braddock one time. He used to talk about the coming technology and the age we’re living in. Everybody can sing. And if you can’t sing, then you can still sing because we can tune it, we can play it louder or we can push it wherever. But to have a distinctive sound, a distinctive voice is more valuable than anything. That’s one thing I’m grateful for, and I think it allows me to get away with a few things that are a little more traditional.


Jon Pardi Reveals Initial CMT on Tour Dates

CMT On Tour with Pardi, Midland and Runaway June Starts Oct. 12 

Get excited Pardi animals. The initial dates for the CMT on Tour Presents Jon Pardi‘s Lucky Tonight Tour with Midland and Runaway June were announced Monday (July 31).
The two-month fall run will hit a series of cities in the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest beginning Oct. 12 in Birmingham, Alabama. Shows at Billy Bob’s Texas in Ft. Worth and Chicago’s Joe’s on Weed Street are among the stops on the schedule. The Dec. 8 show in Grand Rapids, Michigan will just feature performances by Pardi and Runaway June. Tickets for the initial dates go on sale Friday (Aug. 4), and additional shows will be announced within the coming weeks.

This marks the third headlining tour for Pardi, who is quickly becoming a household name for music lovers with his string of hits “Head Over Boots,” “Dirt on My Boots” and his current single “Heartache on the Dance Floor” from California Sunrise, as well as “Missin’ You Crazy,” “Up All Night” and the title track from his 2014 debut, Write You a Song. Pardi is the reigning ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year, and he was nominated in the Breakthrough and the coveted Video of the Year categories at the 2017 CMT Music Awards in June.
Since its 2002 inception, the CMT on Tour has transitioned many rising artists into superstar acts. The program’s previous headliners include Brett Eldredge, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, Keith Urban, Jake Owen and Kip Moore.
Below is a complete list of tour dates for the 16th CMT on Tour. For more information as it becomes available, visit and follow #CMTonTour on social platforms.
Oct. 12: Birmingham, Alabama (Avondale Brewing Co.)
Oct. 13: Savannah, Georgia (Grayson Stadium)
Oct. 14: Charlotte, North Carolina (Coyote Joe’s)
Oct. 19: Houston (House of Blues)
Oct. 20: Austin, Texas (Stubb’s Outdoors)
Oct. 21: Fort Worth, Texas (Billy Bob’s Texas)
Nov. 2: Worcester, Massachusetts (The Palladium)
Nov. 3: Silver Spring, Maryland (The Fillmore Silver Spring)
Nov. 4: North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (House of Blues)
Nov. 10: St. Paul, Minnesota (Myth)
Nov. 11: Madison, Wisconsin (Orpheum Theatre)
Nov. 16: Chicago (Joe’s on Weed Street)
Nov. 17: Rosemont, Illinois (Joe’s Live)
Nov. 18: Milwaukee (The Rave)
Dec. 8: Grand Rapids, Michigan (The Intersection)


The Unbroken Circle: Remembering the Bristol Sessions

Summer 2017 Marks the 90th Anniversary of the Big Bang of Modern Country Music 

This summer marks the 90th anniversary of the “Big Bang” of modern country music, and it all happened over 12 days in Bristol, Tennessee.
On July 25, 1927, New York-based producer Ralph Peer from the Victor Talking Machine Company started country music’s most famous recording sessions on the third floor of the town’s Taylor-Christian Hat and Glove Company in an effort to discover music that would appeal to an untapped market — rural music by rural people who couldn’t afford the electricity to power a radio set.
In the roaring ’20s, America had fallen in love with radio, and the sales of phonograph records were declining. Radio barn dances like the Grand Ole Opry on Nashville’s high-powered WSM broadcasted live country entertainment across the nation. Americans seemed to prefer to sit and listen to an entire program of music without having to change records every few minutes. In 1925, the same year of the first Grand Ole Opry broadcast, Victor introduced a new music player that was powered acoustically and played music that was recorded electronically, bringing a new form of entertainment to households nationwide.
Bristol was just one of the cities on Peer’s recording tour of the American south. Other cities on the schedule were Atlanta, Savannah and Memphis, and all of them were chosen because they were easily accessible by train. With him, Peer brought two engineers, a new invention called the orthophonic microphone and a new electronic recording system developed by Western Electric. Before orthophonic recording, performers were recorded using a big horn that would capture all the sounds in the room in which they played.
Peer stopped in Bristol at the suggestion of musician Ernest Stoneman, who was from the area and had previously recorded for Peer in New York. In the days leading up the recording sessions, Peer attracted local talent by taking out newspaper ads that read, “Do not deny yourself the sheer joy of orthophonic music,” with information about how to connect with Peer and his new recording machine.
Stoneman was one of the most recorded acts in the first days of the Bristol sessions, but not many artists showed up at first. Peer needed more variety, new songs and original material. So he convinced the editor of the Bristol News Bulletin to do a story on the sessions and Stoneman, who told the paper that he was paid $100 for his time and his sidemen received $25 each. Stoneman added that he made approximately $3,000 off a year’s worth of royalties.
With that news, the talent came running (that was big money in those days). Peer ended up recording 76 songs by 19 acts in Bristol. Two of them became the genre’s most influential performers and both of them were recorded within days of each other, the Carter Family, the first family of country music, and Jimmie Rodgers, the father of country music. The two iconic acts wouldn’t meet until years later.

The Carter Family, A.P. Carter, his wife Sara and Sara’s first cousin Maybelle (who married A.P.’s brother, Ezra), were from Scott County, Virginia, which is a 40-minute drive from Bristol today. But back then, it took the Carters all day to drive to Bristol. The summer rainy season had turned the surrounding Appalachian dirt roads into gullies and the family act had to stop frequently to make sure their tires were good for their return trip home. Maybelle was also nine months pregnant at the time, and with every little bump in the road, she believed her baby would arrive.
When the Carter’s finally pulled up to the Taylor-Christian Hat and Glove Company, they entered through the back because they were too embarrassed to be seen in the hillbilly clothes they had worn all day. But they sang and played beautifully. Maybelle’s famous Carter scratch guitar-picking accompanied their harmonies as they laid down their first song “Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow.” 
 The next day, Maybelle and Sara recorded “Married Girl, Single Girl,” a song Sara hated, but it went on to become one of their first major hits. A.P. had taken their car to the mechanic to get a tire fixed that morning and so Peer recorded the two women by themselves. The family made it back to Virginia safe and sound and thought nothing of the sessions until the royalty checks started arriving by mail. They went on to record more than 300 songs for Victor and other labels such as the American Record Company and Decca. But the band broke up for good in 1943, even though A. P., Sara and Maybelle were at the peak of their performing careers. Maybelle continued the Carter legacy with her daughters, Helen, June and Anita. 
 Jimmie Rodgers, originally from Meridian, Mississippi, gave up his gig as a railroad man to dedicate his life to music in 1924 after he had developed tuberculosis. At the time, his music encompassed all the styles he was raised on in the delta — traditional folk music, early jazz, stage show yodeling, the work chants of railroad crews and African-American blues. In summer 1927, he had found work performing on the radio in Asheville, North Carolina with the Tenneva Ramblers and then again at a resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He had heard about Peer’s recording sessions in Bristol, and they loaded up a car to go audition for him. But before they even got to record, the group had a dispute over billing and broke up. Deserted by the band, Rodgers persuaded Peer to let him record alone, accompanied only by his own guitar.

Based on the strong public response to Peer’s recordings of Rodgers’ “Sleep, Baby, Sleep” and “The Soldier’s Sweetheart,” Rodgers was then invited to Victor’s home studios in New Jersey where he recorded “Blue Yodel (T for Texas),” which became his first big hit. Within months, he was on his way to national stardom with regular radio gigs in Washington, D.C., and a vaudeville tour that hit all the major Southern cities. Eventually, he recorded 110 songs including “Waiting for a Train,” “In the Jailhouse Now,” “T.B. Blues” and “Miss the Mississippi and You.”
Rodgers reached the pinnacle of his career between 1928 and 1932. He even starred in 15-minute 1929 movie, “The Singing Brakeman.” But the Depression had taken its toll on record sales and theater attendance. His failing health made it near impossible for his career to continue. On May 26, 1933, after fulfilling his contract with RCA Victor with an 12 recordings, he collapsed on a New York City street and died a few hours later of a massive hemorrhage in his room at the Hotel Taft.
While the Carter Family and Rodgers will forever be known as the first family and father of country music, other visionaries were recorded during the Bristol Sessions. They were Ernest Phipps and His Holiness Quartet, Blue Ridge Corn Shuckers, Johnson Brothers with the Tennessee Wildcats, the Johnson Brothers, Blind Alfred Reed, El Watson, B.F. Shelton, Alfred Karnes, J.P. Nester, Bull Mountain Moonshiners, Alcoa Quartet, Henry Whitter, the trio Fred H. Greever, John B. Kelly and J.V. Snavely, the Shelor Family, Dad Blackbird’s Mountaineers, Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Baker, Red Snodgrass’ Alabamians, the Tenneva Ramblers, the West Virginia Coon Hunters and the Tennessee Mountaineers.
It’s important to point out that there are no pictures of the Bristol Sessions, and the performers never saw the famous electronic machine that recorded them. It was kept hidden from view behind a large curtain like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. The only people who got to see the machine were Peer, the engineers who operated it and record label staffers. The reason it was kept so secret is because it was considered as valuable as the recipe for Coca-Cola. No one involved wanted the machine to be replicated by a competitor.
On July 15, Bristol’s Birthplace of Country Music Museum kicked off a series of events celebrating the 90th anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Sessions. The first event featured panel discussions by Nashville-based journalist and author Barry Mazur, Dr. Ted Olson from East Tennessee State University’s department of Appalachian Studies, screenings of PBS’ American Epic, a Q&A with the series’ producers Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty and a keynote address by Ralph Peer II, CEO of peermusic, with his wife Liz Peer.
It was also a day-long musical family reunion that hosted approximately 30 descendants of those who participated in the famous recording sessions. Country music’s Big Bang is their family legacies, and the impact of the sessions resonates throughout popular music today.
While today’s mainstream country music sounds nothing like the sounds made during the Bristol Sessions, record labels everywhere remain in a constant search for the next big thing that will ensure the success of the genre for generations to follow.
But what will ultimately carry country music through the constant changes in popular music will be what Peer initially set out to do with his field recordings — find country talent for country people. Or as Kenny Rogers said in our 2016 interview, “Country music is what country people will buy.”
Celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the Bristol Sessions continue in the Tennessee town and Scott County, Virginia. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum will host special film screenings and concert series through August. The three-day Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion starts Sept. 15 and will feature performances by Dwight Yoakam, Judah & the Lion, Jerry Douglas Presents Earls of Leicester, Son Volt, Rodney Crowell, Amanda Shires and more.
The Carter Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will host a special Carter Festival on Nov. 4 to celebrate the anniversary of the first Carter Family ’78 being released in Nov. 4, 1927.


Funeral Services Held for Cajun Music Legend D.L. Menard

Grammy Nominee Best Known for 1962 Hit, “The Back Door”

Funeral services were held Monday (July 31) in Lafayette, Louisiana, for D.L. Menard, a singer-songwriter widely known as the “Cajun Hank Williams.”

Menard, who died Thursday at his home in Scott, Louisiana, at age 85, achieved acclaim with his 1962 recording of “La Porte en Arriere.” Sung in French, the song is also known as “The Back Door.” The upbeat song is about a man who gets so drunk he sneaks home through the back door.
For Cajun music enthusiasts, “The Back Door” rivaled the traditional “Jolie Blon” as the unofficial Cajun national anthem
“‘Jolie Blon’ is a song about a girl who went to Texas,” folklorist Barry Jean Ancelet noted in July during a celebration of the 55th anniversary of Menard’s hit. “‘La Porte’ is about a guy who slips back in at home through the back door. Now, I ask you: Which one best describes us Cajuns?”
Menard gained a national fan base following an appearance at the 1973 National Folk Festival near Washington, D.C. He also performed on several U.S. State Department tours promoting the American culture. During his career, he performed in 38 nations and received two Grammy nominations.
In 1994, the National Endowment for the Arts named him to a National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award in traditional arts.


Lillie Mae Debuts Confessional “Wash Me Clean” Video

Bluegrass-Infused Song Featured on New Album Produced by Jack White 

Lillie Mae has always been a little ahead of her time, but it seems her time has finally come.
The folk-rock singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is stepping out of her role as a side woman and stepping center stage, thanks to the support of rock icon and Third Man Records founder and head Jack White.
Her journey began in her family band Jypsi, where she honed her chops on the bluegrass circuit before eventually she and her siblings’ avant-garde, hippie and often punk style began to alienate them from the musical community that shaped them, she revealed in a recent interview with NPR.
But that’s OK, because she landed right where she was supposed to be: in the presence of White, who saw a solo artist with raw talent and wanted to see that artistry grow. The first step was her role as a musician in White’s band.
Lilllie Mae’s debut album, Forever and Then Some, is a perfectly executed blend of country, bluegrass, folk-rock with sonic and vocal nods to everyone from Dolly Parton and Lucinda Williams to old-timey mountain music to moments even reminiscent of Natalie Maines and early Dixie Chicks — done in an original way, of course.
And those sibling harmonies truly give it wings. You can’t fake that kind of chemistry.
See Lillie Mae on the road this summer and early fall as she embarks on a steady streams of dates from Kentucky to Montana to California and everywhere in between before heading back to Nashville to play AmericanaFest kicking off Sept. 12.
Forever and Then Some is available now.

How Miranda Lambert Is All of Us

Hot Beer, No Ubers and Miles of Walking 

The brand new Billboard cover story on Miranda Lambert is very long, very thorough and very up to date. But it’s her honesty about a stadium show she recently attended that says so much about who she is.
It’s when she was lamenting a recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky, to see U2 and endured all the same struggles fans face when they go to massive concerts like that.
“Stadium shows are hard,” Lambert told Billboard. “I’m like, ‘Shit, man. I just walked a million miles, I couldn’t get an Uber, and my beer’s hot,’ but I left there feeling uplifted, exhausted and stimulated all at the same time.
“I grew up singing country music and haven’t gone to many rock shows. I didn’t realize just how powerful four dudes up there on this giant stage could be. I couldn’t even see Bono, but I felt every single word of every song.”
I’m guessing her fans feel the exact same way about some of her biggest shows. On Saturday (July 22), Lambert played for more than 40,000 fans at the Faster Horses Festival in Brooklyn, Michigan, and they probably had hot beers and had to walk for miles, but once she started playing, they likely felt every word of every song.
Even fans in the way, way back.

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