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Category Archives: Country

“Let ‘er goooo, boys”…

The King of Blue Grass, Bill Monroe, would be 100 years old today. Probably no other artist in the 20th century impacted Country and Blue Grass than mandolinist supreme, William Smith Monroe. His love of music was evident in his performances and in his impact on other artists. Consider “Blue Moon of Kentucky“, likely his most recognizable hit.

And, renditions by some folks you may be more familiar with:

The King of Rock & Roll

The Queen of Country Music

A Few Lads

While they all went up tempo, I still prefer Bill’s original version. Bluegrass is such a guttural genre. It is hurtful, introspective and joyous, all at the same time. Bill Monroe almost single-handedly brought Bluegrass out of the mountain hamlets to the masses. Other “disciples”, like Barbara Mandrell, would continue the message through the years but perhaps the best known is a young boy who first got to play with Monroe on stage at age six:


While this performance is with Flatt & Scruggs (part of Monroe’s original “Bluegrass Boys”), Ricky talks about his first experience of playing with “the man” hisself here:

Likely my favorite, Bill Monroe tune in Uncle Pen, a song, that ironically, became a #1 hit for Ricky Skaggs many years later:

Bill Monroe. A true American icon, lover of music and consemate mentor. Happy Birthday, old boy.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in birthdays, Country, Influences, music legends

 

Kenny Finds Grace…

I admit it. I’m a bit out of touch. I haven’t been keeping up with “the music” lately as I’ve just been trying to survive this cold, hard life. In my laziness, I’ve regressed to listening to the radio in the car on my long drives to Central Alabama.

Imagine my SHOCK when I flipped from the excruiating negativism of talk radio to the old comforts of country radio (I live in Alabama, after all…) to hear a new Kenny Chesney song featuring one, Grace Potter.

I listened. I absorbed. I liked. After all, “You and Tequila” surely got my attention…

So, I’m sure some Jam Band purists (and maybe my old pal, Killer Cortez) think Grace is a sell out for cutting a record with uber star, Kenny Chesney, but I can’t disagree more. First, it’s pretty cool that ole gabillionaire and super duper star, Kenny, happened to be exploring iTunes on his yacht in the islands and stumbled upon Grace Potter. And THEN, actually tracks her down and invites her to record a song with him…arguably the biggest Country star of the last decade.

Here’s a little background…

Kenny Chesney is a music guy. Thank goodness he listens to all kinds of music and that he reaches out to people he likes and makes good music with them. As for Grace, she stepped up to a fantastic opportunity and now a much broader audience is exposed to the goodness of Grace. I have to say that her performance on “You and Tequila” was very Alison Krause — and that is never bad.

While I know that Grace will never be “country”, but even country isn’t country. There’s room for all kind of music and it’s just so awesome to see two people from polar experiences come together a make sweet music…

For those who want more Grace, visit my buddy KC @ http://www.thisissomewhere.com

 

Charlie Louvin – Harmonizing in Heaven

1927 - 2011

Country Music Hall of Famer, Charlie Louvin, passed away yesterday at the age of 83 of pancreatic cancer.

While you may not recognize his name or that of his brother, Ira, as the Louvin Brothers, they brought close harmony into the mainstream in 1950s, subsequently influencing groups like The Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys and Gram Parsons/The Byrds. These groups, of course, have been sited influences to modern harmonic groups like Boyz 2 Men, The Backstreet Boys, Brandi Carlile and The Secret Sisters (one of my new favorites — but that’s another post). As a pioneer of harmony, Charlie Louvin stands as one of those who quietly make a lasting impact on music. While he and his brother may have been largely forgotten by the larger music industry, their impact is deep and lasting.

My professed love of harmony is well documented here, and I still love it so. So, thank you Charlie Louvin. Thank you for your talent and your influence on generations of musicians and singers. The thread of harmony through generations…

If I Could Only Win Your Love, The Louvin Brothers

All I Have to Do is Dream/Cathy’s Clown, The Everly Brothers

Don’t Worry Baby, The Beach Boys

Turn, Turn, Turn, The Byrds (Gram Parsons)

I Want it That Way, The BackStreet Boys

Have You Ever, Brandi Carlile

Tennessee Me, The Secret Sisters

 

2010 Kennedy Center Honors

Aw, yeah!  Last week, CBS aired the Kennedy Center Honors that featured two of my all time favorite musical artists — Sir Paul McCartney and the fantabulous Merle Haggard.

Broadway composer Jerry Herman and dancer-choreographer Bill T. Jones were also honored, in addition to Oprah Winfrey. 

Side rant:  Can I just say that I am SO sick of Oprah?  When will we be freed from her excessive exposure and self-promotion?  I find her so insincere and disengenuous.  She sucks people in like she’s the “every woman” and “just like you” when she’s a kabillionaire who certainly doesn’t have to worry about college tuition or paying the mortgage.  Besides, anyone who needs a TV show, radio network, magazine and now a TV network, has got to be filling some kind of hole in self-agrandizement.  And people just continue to fawn all over her….blech!

For the Kennedy Honors, you’d swear that it was the Oprah Honors and “the others” were just there to bask in her glory.  She cannot help but to usurp everyone else’s attention….but I digress.

I’ve chronicled my Beatles love many times on this blog (see Beatles tags), but don’t know if I’ve ever delved into my Merle-adoration.  Merle Haggard is one of the legends of music — not just Country music — and is one of the good guys who has made things better for those around him.  And, his music is just, well…good.

Vince Gill gives a great retrospective of Merle’s career at the Kennedy Honors ceremony:

and performances of Merle tunes by Kris Kristoffersen, Sherly Crow, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill and pal, Willie Nelson.  Note:  it’s a little long, but well worth it.  Also, notice Oprah trying to sing along.  Really?!?  You think she’s got a bunch of Merle CDs at home?

It’s no coincidence that Merle Haggard is such a friend of new artists and is so loved by his fellow performers since he decided to pursue music after hearing Johnny Cash at San Quentin when Cash was trying to bring a little joy to those less fortunate.  Just goes to show that paying it forward has ever-implacating rewards.  Personally, I’m torn between these two as my favorite Merle tunes:

That’s The Way Love Goes

My Favorite Memory

….Merle.  A TRUEadour.

Finally, I can’t overlook Sir Paul.  Perhaps the greatest tribute to Paul is this medley featuring Apple Records recording artist, James Taylor, the irrepresible Mavis Staples and rock legend, Steven Tyler.

Note:  Check out Oprah (AGAIN) trying to hog the limelight.  GAH!

I couldn’t help but think that Paul was thinking about John Lennon with this program being so close to the 30th anniversary of John’s death.  Must have been surreal….and lonely.

 

I’m Alive

Orange Beach, AL

Orange Beach, AL

Lovin’ this Kenny Chesney/Dave Matthews collaboration, lately.

  I’m Alive, Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews

I’m pretty much in the “order” camp and don’t believe in consequences, so I think that certain things are put in our path to show us the way, teach us lessons, wake us up, whatever.  This song seems to be one of those needed entities, coming along at just the right moment to comfort, heal, encourage appreciation.  It speaks to me for several reasons.

First, the lyrics.  While I absolutely adore the melody of this song, I’m a lyrics maven.  For me, the power of the words are what really defines a song, and these particularly speak to me:

So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me I’d like to thank my lucky stars that
I’m alive, and well

It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessin’ can’t you see
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive, and well
I’m alive, and well

Stars are dancin’ on the water here tonight
It’s good for the soul, when there’s not a soul in sight
But this boat has caught its wind and brought me back to life
Now I’m alive, and well

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing can’t you see
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
Now I’m alive, and well
Yeah I’m alive, and well

I’m a bit sympatico with Kenny Chesney due to his love of water, beach and life, in general, and most of his songs absolutely resonate with “everyday” people on everyday issues and concerns.  We visit the beach fairly regularly and recently spent the Labor Day weekend there.  Every time I go to the beach, it presents an opportunity to unwind, relax, and contemplate.  (And I am a World Champion Contemplater.)  This is a perfect song for that.

Second, it makes me feel good/better and makes me thankful for this day and for things to come.  It reflects on the fact that LIFE IS HARD.  And, it is…but as my BIL says, “God is good”.  While we all have trials and tribulations, we all have great triumphs and joys and really, isn’t that what makes it worth getting out of bed every day?  So, while I’m caught up in the tornado of life with Senior year, college choices, house selling, house building, aging parents, job worries, etc., etc., it illuminates the fact that HEY!  I’M ALIVE.

Lastly, this song shows that country isn’t all twang based (yes, Shrew I’m looking at you).  This is a song that Dave Matthews’ fans can accept and relate to — hell, even love.  Kenny truly is more crossover than most Country artists and songs like this one really show his broad influences.  I think when you boil it all down, a good song is a good song.  As when Ray Charles did Country, it brings a new credibility to the once twang-laden genre.  It’s all about the emotion…the kun-NECK-shun.

So, take Kenny’s song to heart today.  While you trudge through whatever hell you suppose you have, remember….YOU’RE ALIVE!

 

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May Musings

Sorry for the lack of attention here over the last few weeks.  Our lives have been quite busy and something’s gotta give.  Hundred of post ideas pass me during the week, but I’m usually not in a position to post it.  Therefore, I thought I’d throw out the week in review (from my mind).

On the personal front, we’re starting to center life around the river and the boat.  We’re readying our house to sell in order to build our dream house, so there’s plenty of work to keep us busy.  More to come on the dream house, but here’s a preview….

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While this has been top of mind for us, other exciting things are also happening.  May is shaping up to be quite a nice month.  On Monday, Mini DD fulfilled a big goal (at least one of his Mom’s) in becoming an official member of the National Honor Society.

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Part of the induction ceremony is the new Junior members being “tapped” by a graduating Senior member.  5′ 6″ Mini DD was tapped by 6′ 8″ GM.  It received the biggest laugh of the night.

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Very nice way to start off the week and so proud of our progeny.

Cinco de Mayo — which seemingly lost it lustre this year because of Swine Flu — required travel starting at 3:00AM (that’s not a typo), with meetings/dinner until after 9:00PM.  I therefore, missed Idol, but was kept informed by  Shrew and KD. 

On Wednesday, John Mayer posted the second video chronicling the creation of his new CD, Battle Studies.

Johnny Boy’s been particularly busy on Twitter and on Wednesday twittered right before playing this…

Since I was traveling home on Wednesday, I once again missed Idol.  I was kept informed that the dudes were safe and Allison was going home, but an important detail was omitted.  No-one told me of the absurd Paula Abdul “first time on TV” performance.  This is wrong on so many levels, but SO telling regarding what the “judges” endorse as good music.

WARNING:  Viewing this video may be hazardous to your musical health.

Along  American Idol lines, Taylor “Tinks” Hicks released his country foray, Seven Mile Breakdown, complete with video.  Perhaps Taylor is reading?  From my March 15th, 2009 post on The Distance:

Along with Nineteen, Seven Mile Breakdown (co-penned with Hicks by Spoonful James’ guitarist and pre-Idol buddy, Wynn Christian) and the title-track, The Distance, Maybe You Should has serious Country potential, if appopriately brought to Nashville.  Even the blues number, Wedding Day Blues is oddly reminiscient of Garth Brooks’ Country anthem, Friends in Low Places.

I think that Country will be much kinder to Taylor and there are even better Country songs on the current CD to be released.  This might have legs.  (**clapping as hard as I can**)

Taylor is also a twitterer, recently tweeting that he LOVES FEIST!!!  See, all you Feist hatersTaylor thinks she’s the female Paul McCartney.  I might not go that far, but do still love me some Feist.

  Feel it All, Feist

Rather excited to find this morning that Janiva Magness was named Entertainer of the Year at the 2009 Blues Music Awards in Memphis last night.

….although she beat our Watermelon Slim….

Pretty cool, as the guy is left-handed — so he’s playing that dobro upside down and backwards.

All in all, a pretty solid week except for the fact that Dom Deluise died.  Sure miss the great comedy of Carson and Company.

R.I.P. Captain Chaos.

 

I will be back to regularly scheduled programming soon….just trying to catch my breath.

 

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Music Maven’s Grammy Rundown

grammy1

Admittedly, The Grammys do not thrill me.  Unfortunately, moguls like Clive Davis’ seeming influence into the awards over the last few years leaves me very skeptical as to the nominations and the winners.

I mean, WHERE is Amos Lee?  Ray LaMontagne? 

However, in the spirit of Music comraderie, I made my own Grammy picks.  Personally, I think that they could cut out 2/3 of the categories and cut this puppy down to a half-hour show….but, whatever.  Here are the 2009 Music Maven Grammy picks.

Record of the year

  Please Read the Letter, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

Mainly because Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is so over-played.

Album of the Year

Because of their revolutionary, “name your price” sales strategy….

  In Rainbows, Radiohead — Videotape track

Song of the Year

Only one choice for me…loved her from the start.  Remember, she debuted her 12-song DC (rather than CD) for $6.99 on iTunes.

  Love Song, Sara Bareilles

Best New Artist

For her ’60s vibe….

  Mercy, Duffy

If Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl wins anythings, I will never turn on a radio again.

In the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category, I’m seriously torn between James Taylor’s Witchita Lineman and John Mayer’s thoroughly emotional Say, from The Bucket List.   However, I’m going to have to go with Sweet Baby James on this one.  The Glen Campbell kun-NECK-shun is just too strong.  The best song lyric of all time:

…and I want you more than need you, and I want you for all time.

‘Nuff said.

  Witchita Lineman, James Taylor

(Besides, Say wins a MM Grammy in another category — see below.)

Which, given the choices, leads me to Best Pop Album — JT’s Covers.  I was convinced by Seminole Wind and Not Fade Away.

I was intrigued by the nominations within the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance (who comes up with these categories?) pitting Sir Paul McCartney’s Amoeba Record performance I Saw Her Standing There against John Mayer’s Gravity performance from Where the Light Is.  While I have great affinity for McCartney, the Where the Light Is video is superb and Gravity is one of my all-time favorite songs.  Therefore, the award goes to….

  Gravity, John Mayer

The only performance in the R&B categories that I feel is worry of any award is Wayne Brady’s Change is Gonna Come.  Yes, Wayne Brady of Who’s Line is it, Anyway? fame.

  A Change Gonna Come, Wayne Brady

However, I’d like to see Jennifer Hudson win a Grammy, just because she is that good and she deserves it.  Note:  she is the only American Idol alum nominated this year.

In the Country categories, only two nominations piqued my interest.  Brad Paisley’s nomination for Letter to Me in the Best Country Song category and The Del McCoury Band’s nomination for Best Bluegrass AlbumLive at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.  Love me some Del…

  Nashville Cats, Del McCoury Band

John Mayer’s Say is a lock for the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture.  I love this song, music & lyrics.

  Say, from The Bucket List, John Mayer

Miscellaneous Other favorites:

Best Traditional Gospel Album, Down in New Orleans, The Blind Boys of Alabama

Best Traditional Blues Album, Pinetop Perkins & Friends, 95 year old Pinetop Perkins, with a line-up of Blues royalty.

Best Contemporary Blues Album — THREE New Orleans acts; Dr. John, Irma Thomas and Marcia Ball.  Can they simply split a Grammy?

And, finally the BIG category….Best Zydeco or Cajun Album….drum roll please……

Music Maven picks……

  Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys

 

 

 

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