Friday, June 23, 2017

German country singer Gunter Gabriel is dead!

German country & trucker songs singer Gunter Gabriel is dead. He died from complications falling down stairs, a day before his 75th birthday.

According to German tabloid "Berliner Kurier" Gabriel fell on the eve of his birthday in a hotel in Herburg after celebrating with some friends his June 11th birthday. Even though he had a bleeding laceration, he thought nothing bad of it and went to bed, not realizing he had a fracture of a cervical vertebra. He had to be rushed to a hospital the next day, where he later had a circulatory collapse and passed away on June 22nd.

For many German country fans, especially truckers, he was their outspoken hero, calling things by name and using "German" to sing his Schlager and country songs. Born Günter Caspelherr on June 11th, 1942 he his first successes as a writer of Schlager (German pop songs) mostly for other artists. Beginning in the 70's he started to have hits of his own. He often took American country songs and "translated" them into the German language.

Gunter was a man of the people and for the people, songs like "Hey Boss, Ich Brauch Mehr Geld" (Hey Boss, I need a better pay) made him a blue collar idol. Heavily indebted at one point, he offered to play house concerts at 1000 Euros a piece to be able to pay off his debt. After 800 private concerts, he was debt-free. He is survived by four children, living all over Europe. He was on of the pioneers in Germany to promote country music.

Married several times, having kids out of wedlock, being a heavy drinker and then in later years sobering up - his life was more like a rollercoaster ride. In this outspoken portrait (NSFW) Gunter shares his vision of how he would have liked to die, rambles about his life and his meetings with his idol Johnny Cash. But Gabriel's persona was more David Allan Coe than aping the Man in Black.

(English subtitles)

Sources: Berliner Kurier, Gunter Gabriel Facebook (Photo), YouTube,

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Country Artists Of All Time - Do You Agree?

Greatest Artist compilation lists had, have and will always stir up controversy. Nothing is as sacred as your own favorite singer and when he/she doesn't make the list or is ranked in the nose-bleed section, fans feel betrayed. Part of it has to do with a social feeling of suddenly being marginalized by listening to an artist that did not make the A-List. Such compilations also always come up with omissions or inclusions that shouldn't be listed. And the new list by music publication Rolling Stone magazine listing the "100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time" does exactly what I just tried to explain.

RS asked 14 journalists to come up with the ultimate artist list, that defines country music. Well, a list like this doesn't just contain artists from last year or even the last decade. Country Music has a rich history, where the "commercial" origins of it, started 90 years ago with the so-called "Bristol Sessions" in Tennessee. Ralph Peer representing Victor Talking Machines recorded 76 songs by 19 performers during the 12 days he stayed in Bristol. Not only did the recordings introduce the traditional music of southern Appalachia, but they also generated the first two superstars, The Carter Family & the yodelln' brakeman Jimmie Rodgers of what later would be called country music. Western Swing with its probably most famous fiddler, Bob Wills followed roughly a decade later. Hollywood cowboys sang in movies and after starting in 1925, the Saturday night portion of the Grand Ole Opry became nationwide when it was picked up by NBC in 1939.

The war years and their aftermath (socially, economically) not only changed society but music as well. Suddenly songs about drinkin', cheatin' and havin' a good time were as popular as the old story songs and gospel music from before the war. A secularization of the themes started to appear, women entered the workforce and wanted to be looked upon as equal to their partners. New instruments and sounds appeared. Several sub-styles started to disappear like the cowboys in the prairies, Western Swing and other forms led to rockabilly and Rock'n'Roll. People started to go out to clubs and Honky Tonks to either drown their sorrow or to find a new honey just to dance with. The West Coast had its own California or better Bakersfield sound, that was rawer than what the by now slicker styles out of Nashville were offering. A whole outlaw movement came in the 70s when artists were fighting to keep creative control on what they want to record and want to be released to the public. With smoother Soul, R&B and Pop influences, country music was pronounced dead in the mid-80s by the New York Times only to be shook up a year later with the arrival of new traditionalist movement, trying to take country music back or at least incorporate some of its roots. New marketing ideas led country music from the clubs and dancehalls into arenas and stadiums, simple performing shows now became "circus" events for the masses. And sure enough by the end of the century, the music started changing again, less and less of what is considered having its roots in one of the many styles country music went through were abandoned. Today's major artists with a few exceptions offer a non-distinguishable contemporary sound with modern R&B, Hip Hop and EDM influences.

So what I tried to put into two paragraph synopses encompasses the whole history of country music - and I'm sure I may have omitted some sub-genres, the 14 compilers had to go through. Basically a rich 90-year-old history of what defines American music and to come up with just 100 of the Greatest Country Artists of All Time. So before you start complaining that Bobby Lee or Bobbie Lou are missing, unfairly ranked, or shouldn't be on this list, envision the above synopsis of 90 years musical evolution and history.

I don't want to leave any spoilers and rankings because you should have your own experience with the list. And I'm sure that your taste, your surroundings, your upbringing and your listening habits, as well as your age, may produce a slightly different list. So now I'm looking forward to your comments. What would YOU have done differently?

Here's a short spoiler video depicting the Top Ten of the genre.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Rhonda & Daryle go "Above And Beyond" - Duet Album "American Grandstand" out in July

Late August last year, "Queen of Bluegrass" Rhonda Vincent announced on her Facebook page that she's recording a duet album with 90's traditionalist Daryle Singletary and posted the above picture of them both in the recording studio.

Singletary, a mid 90's traditionalist, who had Rhonda singing background on his debut album on Giant and later on his indie releases was all excited “If you love traditional country music, and remember songs originally sung by well-known duet partners like George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, and Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens, this is a must-have CD that we are extremely excited about.”

Rhonda, who branched out from Bluegrass to traditional Country Music before, like on her 2014 album "Only Me" praised Singletary as one of the best singers in this generation of country music and went on to praise him even more: “It’s so fun to sing with someone who challenges me as a singer. The songs were given great thought, along with one that was totally unexpected. It’s one of the best projects I’ve ever been part of. I am so proud of this recording, and I cannot wait for the world to hear our wonderful creation, American Grandstand.”

Now about a month (release date is July 7th) before "AMERICAN GRANDSTAND" is hitting the stores, Daryle and Rhonda are heavily promoting it during CMA week (formerly Fan Fair) in Nashville with several shows. Being one of 20 acts not to miss according to music magazine "Rolling Stone," one of the shows they performed together at, was the "Music City Roots - Live From the Factory" Show hosted by Jim Lauderdale on June 7th, where the opening track of "American Grandstand," the Harlan Howard penned classic "Above And Beyond" was then shared to YouTube. First recorded by Wynn Stewart as a single in 1960, then by Buck Owens later that year, and then Rodney Crowell in the '80s, who celebrated his fifth number one song with the classic, it's nice to see that timeless song done as a duet.

Besides "Above And Beyond" and their current single "One" the list below reveals the full tracklist of "AMERICAN GRANDSTAND," the title track actually a new song actually written by Rhonda Vincent as part of their collaboration.

American Grandstand Track Listing:

1. Above and Beyond

2. One

3. After The Fire Is Gone

4. American Grandstand

5. Slowly But Surely

6. As We Kiss Our World Goodbye

7. Can’t Live Life

8. Golden Ring

9. We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds

10. Louisiana Woman Mississippi Man

11. A Picture of Me Without You

12. Up This Hill and Down

If you would like to pre-order the "American Grandstand" and get an immediate download of their current single "One," you can click here.

For more information about Music City Roots - Live From the Factory in Franklin, Tennessee, for a schedule of upcoming artists performing on the show and a direct link to see a streaming video, visit their official website - you may also find information on their facebook page

Sources: YouTube;; Webster PR;;;