Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mel Tillis' Memorial Service Will Be Broadcast Live - Many Stars To Attend And Perform

The memorial service for Country Music Hall of Famer, Mel Tillis will be broadcast live from the original Grand Ole Opry (Ryman Auditorium) by legendary Nashville station 650 AM WSM tomorrow morning, January, 31st at 10 am local time (CST). If you are not in the local area to catch the radio station you can listen to it on the web WSMonline.com, or on your phone on the station's mobile app.

Tillis’ family, friends, fans, and music industry colleagues will gather at the Ryman to honor the life and career of the Country Music Hall of Famer.

A slew of country stars will perform some of Tillis’ most memorable career songs. Those scheduled to take the stage include Ricky Skaggs, Ray Stevens, Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers, Alison Krauss with the Street Corner Symphony, Jamey Johnson, Collin Raye, Daryle Singletary, Lorrie Morgan, Ira Dean, Pam Tillis, Sonny Tillis, and Carrie April Tillis.

Tillis’ band, The Statesiders, will accompany select performances and former “Nashville Now” host Ralph Emery will emcee.

The event is free and open to the public.

After a long struggle to regain his health, country music legend Mel Tillis passed away on November 19, 2017, at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. Tillis battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered. He was 85.

Tillis wasn't only a singer, he was an "Entertainer of the Year" (CMA 1976) and a great songwriter as well: songs like "Detroit City" (Bobby Bare), "Life Turned Her That Way" (Ricky Van Shelton), "Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town" (Kenny Rogers), and "Honey (Open That Door)" (Ricky Skaggs) are just a few of his gems out of a huge catalog.

On February 13, 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to country music

Source: Press Release

Monday, January 29, 2018

Strawberry Champagne All Night - Or Why The Grammys Don't Matter Anymore

Following the Grammys professionally for about 30 years, I didn't even tune in anymore, rather watching "Dirty Money" on Netflix. They actually should make an episode about the music business. I volunteer to be a consultant. Music has become like food, GMO mass-produced lowest common denominator cRap preferred over a home-cooked meal. What once used to be an award with respect, even so often delayed in the game, when artists who were ready to "retire", got bestowed with a gazillion of awards, decades into their careers. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the late Leonard Cohen, but "You Want It Darker" of the album with the same title is great but it's not a rock song, Snubbing R.L. Boyce or Guy Davis and Fabrizio Poggi for traditional blues and giving that award to British import The Rolling Stones, really. Nothing against the club of septuagenarians, they always made a living siphoning of the blues, but they are a rock band and not a traditional blues band. To have a Michael Jackson wannabe in Bruno Mars winning best R&B album and ignoring PJ Morton just adds to my point. Even in country music, I do like Chris Stapleton and I do love the fresh approach he is infusing into what by now is nothing but a bubble-gum genre. I even had his two albums in my 10 of 2017. And I like the fact that the jokesters Nashville is producing, got snubbed by him. But he's a great Americana artist, with some country influences at best.

Artists in every genre were always influenced by artists before them, there is always a chip of the old block, who gets you inspired, started. But Bruno Mars, who also tries to impress as wannabe Elvis and Prince may best deserve a pop recognition, but not Record, Album and Song of the year. Due to a lawsuit, he had to add the Gap Band as co-creators to his big hit with Mark Ronson "Uptown Funk" and there are still two other lawsuits pending. Female Rap-Trio The Sequence claim their "Funk You Up" as well as Zapp & Roger saying their "More Bounce To The Ounce" were both used in that Grammy-winning composition. Talking about copying and pasting, RME Ed Sheeran who won Best Pop Song for "Shape Of You" had to add the writers of TLC‘s 1999 hit “No Scrubs” to the song, after he got sued.

But I guess it's all well suited, considering the red carpet and how artists were dressed, getting more press today than actual memorable performances at the award show. Case in point, why take Eric Clapton's beautiful ballad "Tears In Heaven" to honor the victims of the recent shooting in Las Vegas. The sparse production was all right, but why not choose a country song like Vince Gill's "Go Rest High On That Mountain," or even Steve Wariner's "Hole In The Floor Of Heaven" or as outlandish as it sounds actually write a tribute song to these victims. Maybe ask Alan Jackson for some help, his showstopper "Where Were You, When The World Stop Turning" about the fall of the Twin Towers in New York, premiered just two months later at the CMA Awards. Talking about the CMA Awards, Little Big Town sang "Better Man" there in 2016, so they won with it almost two years later at the Grammys and I'm sure that Taylor Swift's penning the song had nothing to do with the band winning.
It is nice to see Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris pairing up for a tribute to the late Tom Petty, but why not asking Chris Hillman, Herb Pederson, and John Jorgenson, who recorded "Wildflowers" with Petty as the producer for Hillman's "BIDIN' MY TIME?"

And then there is, what the genius' call "American Roots Music," now as the words imply this has a foundation, but it is shunned by the telecast. May it be string music from Appalachia, singer/songwriters, too a certain degree country, blues, folk, bluegrass and the hodgepodge called Americana, it's mostly music that matters, lyrical-, regional- or music-wise. But it has become the collection basin of what used to be in the Rock, the Country, and the Blues or even the Pop-Charts. If Bonnie Raitt would have released "Nick of Time" in 2017 instead of 1989, she wouldn't have won album of the year but would have been nominated as Best American Roots Performance.
Another point - the Rolling Stones won their, can you quick guess it, their THIRD Grammy. Talking about relevance and how screwed up this whole gramophone business is.

So from the pond of love here are some "rootsy" winners - Alabama Shakes took away the Performance category with "Killer Diller Blues," "If We Were Vampires" by Jason Isbell the song honors and best album for "THE NASHVILLE SOUND." The Infamous Stringdusters couldn't count on the "LAWS OF GRAVITY" and had to share the best Bluegrass album with Rhonda Vincent And The Rage's live album "IN CONCERT VOLUME ONE."

So below are a couple of videos you may have missed and which may have deserved that golden gramophone more than the actual winners. As people are tuning out, like me - the early ratings-game speaks volumes, overall viewership sunk by several millions, numbers indicating the show fell 26% in the key demo, meaning adults 18-49 years old. So be it, let it go.

Sources: grammy.com, wire services, youtube,

Saturday, January 27, 2018

In The News - Merle's Tour Bus For Sale - Reba Hawking Chicken - Nashville Scene Winners

An old tour bus once owned by Merle Haggard goes on to the auction block in Texas; Reba McEntire got promoted to Colonel and is hawking Smoky Mountain BBQ chicken and weekly publication "Nashville Scene" asked over 90 country music critics for their best of 2017. 

Merle's Bus

Ever fancied on riding in a country music star's tour bus? What about owning one and taking it for a ride through the Texas Hill Country. On February, 10th Burley Auction Gallery in New Braunfels is putting a 2008 Motor Coach Industries (MCI) bus, once owned by Merle Haggard up on the block.

Besides the regular outfittings (master bedroom, bunks, lounge area) the bus also has some custom made features. The late Merle Haggard was a huge train buff, so the sides of the bus are adorned with Santa Fe Super Chief insignia and the bus, according to the Austin American Statesman even has a vintage train horn installed.

In 1969 Haggard released a tribute album to the "Singing Brakeman," Jimmie Rogers called "SAME TRAIN, A DIFFERENT TIME" and followed with another album lauding trains seven years later with "MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRAINS."

The cover of that album also depicts some of Merle's model trains and beside the Dolly Parton penned title track, contains Merle's lament about the disappearance of trains, "No More Trains to Ride".

The video below must have been filmed by the previous owner, it looks like they used Lago Vista airport outside of Austin for a backdrop.
Update: Today (1/29) I did get an update from Robb Burley from the Auction Gallery
 "The bus was ordered new by Merle in 2006 & was delivered in 2008. Merle toured in it until 2015 when he traded it in on a bus he only had a few months before he died on his birthday April 6, 2016. Photo of the original title to Merle is on the website. The bus has over 350,000 Merle miles on it. A custom seat has the armrest wear out there by Merle. Comes with a built-in authentic train whistle. The bus was acquired by the current owner & consignor of the bus when Merle traded it in. They tried unsuccessfully running it on eBay twice. Bidding will open at $100,000. It should land north of $200,000 easily even if it wasn’t owned by Merle. The bus shows road wear but is in excellent working order and in good condition. The custom tags were added when registered in Texas."

More info at Burley Auction Gallery

Colonel McEntire

Several firsts mark the new campaign for "Smoky Mountain BBQ" from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). For the first time, it's a music star and a woman who will play the role of grey-haired and mustached KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders.

Beginning tomorrow (1/28) new ads featuring Reba McEntire will air on television and computer screens in the US to hawk KFC’s new Smoky Mountain BBQ line of fried chicken.

“With Reba’s southern roots and entrepreneurial spirit, she truly embodies the values of the Colonel and the crowd-pleasing flavor of our Smoky Mountain BBQ,” Andrea Zahumensky, Chief Marketing Officer for the fried chicken chain was quoted in the press release. ”

“I’ve held a lot of roles in my life – sort of like the Colonel himself – but this is certainly the most unique one yet,” McEntire iterated in the release.

Nashville Scene Country Music Critic’s Poll

For the 18th time, weekly publication "Nashville Scene" asked 94 guest music critics for their favorites of 2017. As no big surprise, most mainstream Nashville bubble artists got ignored, Jason Isbell and his 400 Unit came out as the big winner with "Best Album of the Year" for "The Nashville Sound," "Best Live Act," "Best Songwriter," and being "Artist of the Year." Isbell came in second behind Chris Stapleton as "Best Male Singer"  the female counterpart being Lee Ann Womack.

Midland was voted best new act in front of Tyler Childers and Carly Pearce; their Grammy-nominated song "Drinkin' Problem" also got the honors as "Single of the Year."  Little Big Town was the only mainstream winner in the Duo / Group category.

An interesting factoid mentioned in the publication is that "five of the top 20 singles on Billboard’s year-end chart (Kane Brown’s “What Ifs,” Dustin Lynch’s “Small Town Boy,” Dylan Scott’s “My Girl,” Florida Georgia Line’s “God, Your Mama and Me” and Jason Aldean’s “Any Ol’ Barstool”) failed to gain a vote from any critic."

For a full list of the winners, visit Nashville Scene's website.

Sources: Austin American Statesman, Burley Auction Gallery, YouTube, KFC Press Release, Nashville Scene

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Singer Lari White Has Passed

Singer/Songwriter, Producer and Vocal Coach, Lari White has died earlier this morning (1/23) after a courageous four month battle against a rare peritoneal cancer. 

Update 1/23/18

Her mom took to Caring Bridge again today and announced that "At 4:44 this morning, Lari peacefully took her "Rain Walk"..." referencing Lari's love of the rain. Lari was able to spend the weekend at her home with close family and was able to enjoy a sunny and rainy day, as that were her wishes. 

Our condolences go out to her loved ones. May there be a light in the darkness!

Original post:

Her mom took to Caring Bridge to post an update on Friday (1/19) and it looks disheartening:

"Last night Lari was admitted to a wonderful Hospice facility here in Nashville, where she has all the Care she needs to make her comfortable and quiet for this part of the Journey, and where she is completely surrounded by loving family…"

It was only in November when Lari took to her "ArtistWorks" space to tell her voice students that she was diagnosed with cancer:

"...The surgery revealed advanced Peritoneal Cancer. Since then a series of complications including pain management, pneumonia and a bowel obstruction requiring emergency surgery has kept me in and out of the hospital fighting for my life. This is, of course, my focus for the foreseeable future."

But she also encouraged her students to keep going on: "All I ask is that you keep singing! Make a joyful noise, because I believe Our Creator loves the sound!"

Lari came to prominence in the late 80's with winning "You Can Be A Star" on The Nashville Network. A resulting record deal with Capitol didn't give her the success she was looking for and she started singing backup for Rodney Crowell. It was him, who, after she got another deal with RCA, produced her debut album "LEAD ME NOT" with the rockabilly-tinged "What A Woman Wants" being its biggest success.

She triumphed even more with her follow up, 1994's "WISHES" giving her three top-ten hits, two again co-written with Cannon "That's My Baby" and "That's How You Know (When You're in Love)" and the Cindy Greene, Don Cook, Chick Rains penned "Now I Know." The album was produced by Garth Fundis and was certified Gold a year later for half a million copies sold.

On her third and last (besides a Greatest Hits Compilation) outing for RCA "DON'T FENCE ME IN" which she produced with Josh Leo, was the marvelous single "Wild At Heart," a co-write with Al Anderson.

Another stint came in 1998 with Lyric Street Records. With the title track, "Stepping Stone" (White, David Kent, Craig Wiseman) she not only cracked the Country top-twenty but also appeared on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. Other singles were "Take Me" (Bob DiPiero, Stephony Smith) and "John Wayne Walking Away "(Austin Cunningham, Jerry Boonstra, Doak Snead).

Over the years she appeared in films like "Cast Away", Broadway Musical ("Ring Of Fire") and Cabaret Shows ("My First Affair"), producing artists and playing house concerts all over the country, including some appearances on Delbert McClinton's cruise. As a producer, she was actually in charge of the Platinum certified album by Toby Keith "WHITE TRASH WITH MONEY." She also started releasing albums on her own label, Skinny White Girl, like "GREEN EYED SOUL".

In February of last year, she released two EPs "New Loves" and "Old Friends" (both available through the links on her website) containing new songs and some re-recordings of her old hits, with some special friends, Suzy Bogguss, Lee Roy Parnell, Delbert McClinton, Etta Britt and Victor Wooten helping out.

To promote the release Lari visited Eric Dahl, the longtime host of Nashville's FOX 17 Rock & Review TV show.

Lari White is married to singer/songwriter Chuck Cannon (among many others "I Love The Way You Love Me - John Michael Montgomery), the couple has two daughters, M'Kenzy and Kyra, and a son, Jaxon.

To cope with the enormity of medical bills, some friends have established, a gofundme account in the name of Lari White and Chuck Cannon.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Lari and her family.

Sources: LariWhite.com, Caring Bridge, Billboard, RIAA,

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Plagiarism - Ed Sheeran sued over McGraw/Hill hit "Rest Of Our Life"

A lawsuit filed in New York federal court accuses Ed Sheeran and three of his co-writers of "blatant copying" an Australian hit by Jasmine Rae "When I Found You" into Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's top-20-hit "The Rest Of Our Life." Two of the original writers, Sean Carey and Beau Golden are seeking at least $ 5 million in damages plus profits, song royalties, covering of attorney's fees and costs, along with an injunction for the song to be permanently blocked. 

The lawsuit alleges that: "The copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying of original elements of the song, and is obvious to the ordinary observer." But it's not just the melody, both songs also have the same message, lauding a long-lasting romantic relationship and making both partners stronger in the end.

The two plaintiffs hired Nashville lawyer Richard Busch, who successfully won a trial for the family of Marvin Gaye. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were found guilty of infringing Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up" into "Blurred Lines," a hit for Thicke. The Gaye estate was awarded $ 5.3 million.

This is not the first time Ed Sheeran is accused of copyright violations, Busch already sued the British composer and singer before. That $ 20 million lawsuit over the hit "Photograph" was settled out of court and since then the two suing songwriters are credited as co-writers of the song, which grants them a significant share of royalties.

The suit against Sheeran and his co-writers Johnny McDaid from Snow Patrol, Amy Wadge, and Steven McCutcheon also includes McGraw, Hill as well as the publishing companies and the record labels. It actually gets quite interesting, the suit claims, that a marketing manager of Sony Music Australia, Tim Holland who also happens to be the boyfriend of Jasmine Rae was aware of the infringement months before the McGraw/Hill hit was released. Rae, who is not part of the plaintiffs seeking damages, is also a co-writer on "When I Found You," and released the song on her 2015 album "HEARTBEAT."

The lawsuit alleges, that "It very well may have been an agent of Sony Music Entertainment who provided the other defendants herein with access to the Song."

It is also alleged that Mr. Holland may have presented "When I Found You" to Sony Music "in an effort to gain exposure for Ms. Rae and promote her work." and that he may have kept his silence about the infringement, in order to not "lose his job with Sony Music."

Another theory also stated in the complaint, of how Sheeran could have accessed the song, says that he was touring in Australia while "When I Found You" was being played on the local radio stations.

Both songs can be listened to below - tell me what you think in the comments.

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

Jasmine Rae

Sources: Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, The Independent

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Anderson East - Fulminate Start Into The New Year With "ENCORE" - Album Review

Anderson East's sophomore album "ENCORE" - released on Friday (1/12) - lives up to the expectations the title may suggest, it's a great follow up to his major debut "DELILAH." Miranda Lambert's new beau is suddenly all over the map, from NPR's First Listen to the HuffPost and he deserves it. He and producer Dave Cobb are setting a high standard, for what's coming out from the music city on the Cumberland, very early 2018. 

Even though Nashville-based, Alabamian Michael Anderson aka  East is not a country artist, the only thing remotely country is his romantical relationship and him covering Willie Nelson's 20-year old standout from "TEATRO" "Somebody Pick Up My Pieces." which with its background choir and arrangement sounds more Joe Cocker than the subdued Texas troubadour. Yes, Anderson digs deeper into the swampy soundscape, like a Delbert McClinton, a Tony Joe White or Irishman Van Morrison his music has no boundaries, he embeds Southern Soul, R&B, Gospel and even Pop into his oeuvre.
The folk-bluesy Ted Hawkins song, the funny "Sorry You're Sick," from the '82 debut album "WATCH YOUR STEP" with its lyrics:
What do want from the liquor store
Something sour or something sweet
I'll buy all that your belly can hold.
You can be sure you won't suffer no more.
now roars and make the offer to help out as a doctor even more insisting.

On six of the nine originals, East again partners with songwriter Aaron Raitiere, who now writes for producer Dave Cobb's stable, as does Adam Hood who appears as the third co-writer on "Surrender," a song that could be straight out of Ike and Tina Turner's songbook. 
Natalie Hemby, who had ten songs recorded by Lambert "FOR THE WEIGHT OF THESE WINGS" and released her own album 'PUXICO" last year, completes the trio on "This Too Shall Last" and "House Is A Building." latter a song that life is only complete when the partner is in it, where the house as a building becomes a home with feeling.
Old friend Chris Stapleton helped on the slow heartbreaker "If You Keep Leaving Me"/I keep loving you and he and his wife Morgane got together with Anderson to write "King For A Day" while they were on tour together. Even though not a boiler, the simmering piece with Stapleton as a guest on the six-string, is one of best songs on the album.
And even if your heart can't
Look my way
Even if our love can't
Stay together
I'd rather be king for a day
Than a fool forever 

"All On My Mind" was a sketch brought to East by Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid from Snow Patrol and that song does not fit on "Encore." With its lush strings and a subdued Anderson, it sounds like this is the one song the record label will push onto the radio to make Anderson East into the star they want him to be. He's better than that.
At the very end of the album is another outstanding, yet somber storyteller "Cabinet Door"; from the perspective of an elderly widower trying to cope with the loss of his wife, East and Jillia Jackson wrote a lyrical gem of how to try to cope with everyday life after your partner of many years has passed:
I found your old cook books but the biscuits ain't right
How do you work this damn coffee pot?
And all my shirt tails are wrinkled but the bed is still made
Cause your smell still lingers on where you laid

Again pairing with non-mainstream producer Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell) the album seems to have an organic feel to it, still embracing the tradition but with an updated more modern approach to it. Cobb was not only at the helm of the board, but also participated as a musician and a co-writer on "Girlfriend" with help from Swedish pop icon Avicii, Raitiere and East. With its infatuation lyrics and it's lush synth (Moog) sound, lusting after a friend's fiancee is a romp on the disc. Too bad he couldn't transfer that energy to the live performance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Brother, we might have a problem
Cause she’s staring me down and I’m tempted
And I ain’t going to say I’m sorry now
I think I’m in love with your girlfriend

****/***** 4/5

Anderson starts his tour behind "ENCORE" in Europe, so friends in the UK, Germany, and Sweden take notice. He will then come back and tour in the US, starting in Dallas in February. You find his touring schedule on his website.

JAN 24 - Omera - London, UK (sold out)
JAN 26 - Blaues Zimmer, Musik & Frieden - Berlin, D
JAN 27 - Nochtspeicher - Hamburg, D (sold out)
JAN 28 - Music Hall - Worpswede, D
JAN30 - Kagalbanan Soedra Teatern, Stockholm, S

Sources: Anderson East, NPR First Listen,

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Earls Of Leicester To Record Live Album At Country Music Hall Of Fame

Grammy and multiple IBMA winner Earls Of Leicester will record their new, third album at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville on February 24 and 25. 

The sextet under the aegis of Dobro master Jerry Douglas pays homage to one of the most influential acts in Bluegrass history, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs (hence the name Earls of Leicester) and their group the Foggy Mountain Boys. It was original Dobro player, Josh Graves, who made Douglas pick up the instrument and start playing it. Being one of the most respected instrumentalists, Douglas always wanted to celebrate the history and the songbook of Flatt & Scruggs and found in fiddler Johnny Warren,  whose dad was a Foggy Mountain Boy, bassist Barry Bales from Alison Krauss' band, current IBMA banjo player of the year Charlie Cushman, mandolist Jeff White, who replaced original "Earl"  Tim O'Brien and singer and guitarist Shawn Camp five other kindred spirits to offer songs originally recorded by Flatt & Scruggs.

A self-titled, Grammy-winning, "debut" album was released in fall of 2014, followed by "RATTLE AND ROAR" two years later and their new live album is scheduled to be later this year. Understandably, Jerry Douglas is quite excited about the new project:

“This two night stand in the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame is a celebration for the Earls of Leicester – as exciting as when Flatt and Scruggs played Vanderbilt University and Carnegie Hall rolled into one,”

said Douglas, referencing the two live albums Flatt and Scruggs cut in 1964 and 1963 respectively. He also hinted at what people may expect during the recordings, which will also be videotaped:

 “We will be debuting songs new to our repertoire and rolling out a few surprises as we videotape and record the culmination of five years of work in our mission to re-educate, and in many cases, reveal this body of work for the first time.”

The Earls of Leicester will also tour select cities before the recording session at the Hall of Fame. So I can certainly imagine that certain new songs will be played and "rehearsed" during these live gigs.

The Earls of Leicester On Tour

2/15 Carolina Theatre Durham, NC

2/17 Rodeheaver Boys Ranch (Palatka Bluegrass Festival), Palatka, FL

2/19 Capitol Theatre Clearwater, FL

2/20 City Winery Atlanta, GA

2/22 Lexington Opera House, Lexington, KY

2/24 Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, TN

2/25 Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, TN

"The Train That Carried My Girl From Town" from "RATTLE AND ROAR"

Sources: Press Release, Earls of Leicester (FB),

Friday, January 12, 2018

Ryan Bingham - Live From Texas - Album Review

"RYAN BINGHAM LIVE" is his first live album. Recorded at the Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas on August 6, 2016, this compilation only features part of that almost two-hour concert, which at the time was live-streamed on gaming platform Twitch in connection with Amazon - I blogged about it here. The whole concert is still available on Amazon Prime as a stream or as a video download. 

It seems that some versions (digital & CD) of this album were available through Amazon, but now have a national distributor in Thirty Tigers and added the LP format. The album is now also available on iTunes and Spotify.

The Oscar, Gloden Globe and Grammy winner, who came to prominence with his co-write of "The Weary Kind" with T-Bone Burnett for the 2009 movie "Crazy Heart" (which won Jeff Bridges also the Oscar for best actor) was touring behind his studio album "FEAR AND SATURDAY NIGHT," when he made his stop outside of New Braunfels.

Playing in front of a solid rhythm section, Nate Barnes on drums and Shawn Davis on bass, backed by guitarists Daniel Sproul and Jedd Hughes, latter also on mandolin and as special guest Richard Bowden (Maines Brothers Band, Austin Lounge Lizards) providing all those hot fiddle licks, Bingham went through 19 tracks in this almost two-hour show. Most hailed from his major 2007 debut "MESCALITO," including a great version of his single "Southside of Heaven." Four songs stem from "FEAR AND SATURDAY NIGHT" and two each from "ROADHOUSE SUN" and "JUNKY STAR."

Besides his album cuts Ryan also included covers by Townes Van Zandt "Pancho & Lefty," Guy Clark "Dublin Blues," and Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried." It was really nice to see, Bingham including two songs of the then recently departed Clark and Haggard in front of such an enthusiastic crowd. Unfortunately, these cover versions are missing from the audio releases, as well as two "MESCALITO" compositions, the original opening song of the evening "Dollar A Day" and "Ever Wonder Why." Available though for the first time outside of the official soundtrack, is the above-mentioned theme song of the Grammy-winning movie "Crazy Heart," "The Weary Kind."

The clip below is from the live recording, the song "Radio" was originally released on "FEAR AND SATURDAY NIGHT."

Live-Concert ****(*)/***** 4.5/5
Audio products ***/*****3/5 (due to missing songs)

Sources: Amazon Concert Live Stream, Ryan Bingham, Releases.Red

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Loretta Get Well Soon - Singer Suffers Broken Hip

We need to send Loretta Lynn another "Get-Well" card, the soon to be 85-year old broke her hip at her home in Tennessee, while still recovering from a stroke she suffered in May of last year. 

According to her sister, country singer Crystal Gayle, the "Coalminer's Daughter" is "doing as well as can be expected with this type of injury." Loretta's team soon followed with their own tweet and the same message on her website, saying that she's doing well and is thanking all her fans for the thoughts and prayers.

After her stroke last year, Loretta Lynn not only canceled all of her tour dates but also the release of her new album "WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT" to 2018 so she would be able to promote it properly. Her only public appearances after her stroke were at a benefit at her Hurricane Mills' Ranch and at the induction of Alan Jackson into the Country Music Hall of Fame both in October of last year.

Her last album, "FULL CIRCLE" on Legacy Records, a collection of classics and new songs, she recorded with the help of her daughter Patsy and John Carter Cash was released in March 2016 and was nominated for a Grammy Award in February of last year. "Everything It Takes" a song, Loretta co-wrote with Todd Snider is from that release.

P.S. Happy Birthday to Crystal Gayle, who turns 67 today (1/9); may her wishes come through that her sister will fully recover.

Sources: Twitter, LorettaLynn.com, YouTube

Monday, January 8, 2018

Happy Birthday David Bowie - Let's Dance (Demo) released today

Original flyer for "Let's Dance"
Happy 71st birthday, David Bowie. 
To celebrate it right, record company, Parlophone, released the until now, unreleased, original demo for "Let's Dance" recorded in 1982 in Switzerland.

According to the press release from Parlophone, Nile Rodgers was visiting David at his home in Switzerland to talk about the songs which would be on his then-new album "LET'S DANCE"

Nile remembers: "This recording was the first indication of what we could do together as I took his 'folk song' and arranged it into something that the entire world would soon be dancing to and seemingly has not stopped dancing to for the last 35 years! It became the blueprint not only for Let’s Dance the song but for the entire album as well."

On a creative high and inspired by all the new compositions that Bowie had written, Nile and David decided to record some demos, but they had no band to do so. With the help of the late Montreux Jazz Festival organizer "funky" Claude Nobs, they secured rock band Queen's Mountain Studio (now a museum) then still inside the Montreux Casino. Claude was also responsible to provide the duo with some additional musicians to record the demos. One was Turkish born Erdal Kizilcay, who would later work extensively with Bowie on "LABYRINTH" (86), "THE BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA" (93) and "1. OUTSIDE" (95).

Speaking of those early “Let’s Dance” pre-production sessions, Nile Rodgers commented: “I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career but my creative partnership with David Bowie ranks very, very, very high on the list of my most important and rewarding collaborations. This demo gives you, the fans, a bird's eye view of the very start of it! I woke up on my first morning in Montreux with David peering over me. He had an acoustic guitar in his hands and exclaimed, ‘Nile, darling, I think this is a hit!’"

So 35 years later Nile Rodgers and Russell Graham mixed the demo at Nile’s Le Crib Studios in Westport, Connecticut to be able to release the song demo for the first time.

By the way - the record company, not knowing who played drums and the 2nd guitar, is looking for the musicians that were involved in this legendary recording at Mountain Studios in Montreux, on December, 19th & 20th, 1982, engineered by the late David Richards, the famous Queen producer.
At the end of the track, Bowie’s voice can be heard laughing saying "That’s it, that’s it! Got it, got it!”. And Bowie was right, it became a huge hit all over the world.

Sources: David Bowie (flyer), Parlophone, Spotify