My 10… OK… Maybe 20… Favorite Albums of 2019

There is no real way for me to write about the music of 2019 without writing about the year 2019 itself. If you’ve been living in the world for the past twelve months, then you know this year has been tumultuous at best for several reasons as conflicts over climate, politics, human rights, and other issues have seemed to escalate on a weekly basis.

For me and my family, however, this year was quite the roller coaster on a personal level as well. We lost my mom in the spring and welcomed our new son in the summer. So as full of joy as we’ve all been over the addition to our family, everything has been tinged with sadness over knowing just how much my mom would have loved meeting her grandson and fussing over him the way she did when our daughter was born nine years ago.

I guess what I’m saying is. I hope you’ll forgive me if there were times this year when music took a backseat to other events. I also hope others will forgive me if there were times when I became hyper-focused on music as a way to tune out other events.

It’s been a rough year and a joyous year. It’s been a year full of songs and a year full of silence. It was 2019, and these are some of the albums that helped get me through it.

While you read what’s ahead, here’s a playlist with a couple of songs from every artist on the list to play as a little background music…

My Favorite Albums of 2019

ringenberg10. Jason RingenbergStand Tall

It was late February when I got to host Jason Ringenberg on WDVX’s Tennessee Shines just a few weeks after the release of this record. My daughter wanted to come to the show because she loves Ringenberg’s Farmer Jason persona. My parents came along to the show because they were in town after keeping my daughter in Kentucky for a few days while Knoxville schools were closed for a flu outbreak. Jason was about halfway through “John the Baptist Was a Real Humdinger” from this album when I looked out in the crowd and saw how Ringenberg was equally captivating the generations of my family before and after me with his engaging performance and biblical rave-up. My parents both talked after the show about how much they enjoyed the show, and my daughter was on cloud nine because he played her request of “Punk Rock Skunk.” It was a perfect night… and the last night I ever spent with my mom. I will always hold Ringenberg… and this album that showcases his personal brand of twang and fire as well as any in his catalog… in a special place in my heart for that night.

God Bless Jason Ringenberg… and The Ramones, of course.

hawk

If you like that, try this: Jason Hawk HarrisLove and the Dark

If twang is what you’re looking for, this label debut from new Bloodshot Records artist Jason Hawk Harris is one worth looking into. Inspired in part by the loss of his own mother, Harris’ album is one that struck a particular chord with me when it came along this fall. The chaos and catharsis of songs like “I’m Afraid” and “Cussing at the Light” contrast perfectly with the more contemplative “Phantom Limb” and “Blessed Interruption” as the album runs through all the stages of grief from anger to acceptance.

ond9. Our Native DaughtersSongs of Our Native Daughters

“Black Girl Banjo Magic” is the phrase Our Native Daughters co-founder Rhiannon Giddens often uses to describe the music made by the folk supergroup she formed with Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell. That’s as accurate a descriptor as one can find, I think, for this collection of women who came together in 2019 to use narratives of enslaved African-Americans… specifically, African-American women… to help trace the lineage of the banjo and parts of American folk music back to their African roots. Songs like “Mama’s Cryin’ Long” may be difficult to digest for the stories they tell, but that is also the exact reason they are necessary to process. Songs of Our Native Daughters is a powerful work from four extremely gifted songwriters and performers who are telling stories that need to be heard in today’s world. Stories that have been overlooked for too long.

lula

If you like that, try this: Lula WilesWhat Will We Do

Lula Wiles are label mates with Our Native Daughters on the Smithsonian Folkways label. I was very much looking forward to hearing this album from Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland, and Mali Obomswain after catching a bit of their Americanafest set in 2018. I was not disappointed at all by the trio’s socially conscious songwriting or soaring harmonies. “Shaking as it Turns,” it turns out, became one of my favorite songs of the year.

yola8. Yola – Walk Through Fire

First of all, I would like to say thank you to the folks at the AMAUK for putting Yola on my radar by honoring her with their UK Artist of the Year award in January of 2017. Yola hadn’t yet hit the States at that point, but we started spinning her UK EP at WDVX later that year. It probably came as no surprise then to our listeners when she seemingly took over the world this year with her debut, Dan Auerbach produced, full length album Walk Through Fire. Yola blends elements of soul, R&B, and country into this powerful album that has drawn more than a few comparisons to classics like Dusty in Memphis. I knew Yola had created something special with this album when one of my (non-musical) co-workers at my day job started quizzing me about her after hearing an NPR feature story and seeking out her music. Such is the power of Yola.

pumas

If you like that, try this: Black PumasBlack Pumas

While we’re on the topic of albums that evoke classic era’s of soul and R&B, let us also focus a bit of attention on the Austin, TX based duo Black Pumas. Adrian Quesada and Eric Burton are the duo behind this retro masterpiece that came together when producer Quesada recruited singer Burton to work on some tracks he had been putting together in the studio. The collaboration was obviously successful as the Black Pumas are nominated alongside Yola in the Best New Artist category at the 2020 Grammy Awards.

molly7. Molly Tuttle – When You’re Ready

In 2017, Molly Tuttle became the first woman to ever win the coveted Guitar Player of the Year Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. She won it again in 2018… as well as the Instrumentalist of the Year Award from the Americana Music Association. So we all knew Tuttle had chops. What I’m not sure we all knew, exactly, was just where those chops could take her sound beyond her bluegrass roots. While Tuttle still evokes the likes of Alison Krauss on the album’s title track and lets her bluegrass fingers fly across the frets on the lead single “Take the Journey,” she also covers new ground on the driving “Light Came in (Power Went Out)” and the easy blues of “Messed With My Mind.”

lillie mae

If you like that, try this: Lillie Mae – Other Girls

While we’re on the subject of artists who made their name due to their mastery of a specific instrument, let’s turn our attention to Lillie Mae and her fiddle. As an in demand side musician, Mae has recorded with everyone from Jack White to Polly Punkneck, and she has started to make her name as solo artist over the past few years as well. Her debut album Forever and Then Some made my list of favorite albums in 2017, and she has taken yet another step forward with her latest effort.

sturgill6. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury

I’m not quite sure how we got here. I mean, I know Sturgill Simpson has said many times that he was never solely a country artist, and he has proven that over and over again since the release of his decidedly country debut album High Top Mountain. In that time, his sound has continued to stretch the boundaries of the very genre he was at one point supposed to “save.” This time, though, he’s taken his promise to consistently reinvent his sound to a whole new level. Sound & Fury is a hard rock, disco, industrial album that only stays vaguely connected to anything country simply because Simpson just can’t hide the Eastern Kentucky mountains in his voice. Oh yeah… and the album also serves as the soundtrack to a trippy anime movie Simpson produced for Netfilx in tandem with the record. We simply don’t have anyone else like Sturgill Simpson, folks.

rrfb

If you like that, try this: Robert Randolph & the Family BandBrighter Days

Look. I tried to find another hard rock disco anime soundtrack to pair with Sound & Fury here, but that unfortunately just isn’t a thing. Instead, I thought I’d feature an artist who is renowned for bringing sound and fury with his playing. Robert Randolph is the guy. When Randolph fully gets going on his sacred steel guitar, he brings an intensity that is unmatched by any other artist on this list. Bear witness to the Holy Ghost fire Randolph breathes into tracks like “Baptize Me” and “I’m Living Off the Love That You Give,” and tell me that I’m wrong.

michaela5. Michaela AnneDesert Dove
Caroline SpenceMint condition (tie)

Making these lists is hard. At one point, I had both of these albums in their own individual slots. Then, as I was trying to pair them with other albums for the “If You Like That, Try This” segments, I realized that they were really the only two albums that could be paired with each other. At that point, I couldn’t really decide who to give this actual slot to… so… here we are.

carolineWhat each of these albums represent is yet another step forward for two outstanding songwriters whose work I’ve been tracking closely over the last half of the decade. These are the third solo albums for Michaela Anne and Caroline Spence, and also mark major indie label debuts for both artists. Desert Dove is Anne’s first effort for Yep Roc, while Mint Condition is Spence’s debut for Rounder. As an added coincidence, Spence’s album was released on my birthday (May 3), and Anne’s came out on my wife’s birthday (September 27). How could I possibly separate the two?

Strictly from a musical standpoint, however, the albums also have something to share. Both are blueprint albums for roots leaning singer songwriters and stand up favorably to any landmark effort you can cite from the genre. For examples, look no further than the title track from each album. In doing so, you’ll find Anne’s sympathetic ode to a “lady of the night” she met at a bar in California and Spence’s haunting collaboration with Emmylou Harris. You’ll also see why I couldn’t pick just one of these albums to highlight.

purple4. Purple MountainsPurple Moutains

This is the album that both caught me completely by surprise and hit me squarely where it hurt in 2019. David Berman had essentially been retired from music following the release of the final Silver Jews (his previous band) record in 2008, and was completely off my radar when his new project Purple Mountains hit in July. In fact, if my Program Director Katie Cauthen hadn’t been so insistent that I alert her when it arrived at the station, I may have overlooked it completely. As it was, however, I stumbled onto the album around its release in mid-July and was completely sucked in by the juxtaposition between Berman’s troubled lyrics and shimmering production.

Berman, it turns out, was inspired to return to music partly by the death of his mother, and I found solace in songs like “I Loved Being My Mother’s Son” coming so soon after losing my own mom in the Spring. I found a manner of peace in his darkness. Unfortunately, Berman was tangled a bit too deeply in that darkness and took his own life in August, less than a month after the release of this album. In that context, songs like “Nights That Won’t Happen” or “All My Happiness is Gone” paint Berman as less of a kindred spirit and more of a tragic one who tried to escape his demons by exorcising them for all of us to hear in his songs. Sadly, Berman’s return as Purple Mountains also served as his goodbye.

bark

If you like that, try this: Bark – Terminal Everything

Coping with death is, unfortunately, a big part of life. For Knoxville husband and wife artists Tim and Susan Bauer Lee, who record together as the duo Bark, the last couple of years have brought a lot to cope with. Tim and Susan each lost a parent in the year leading up to this release to go along with a handful of friends from their decades as touring musicians. Instead of focusing on the pain of those losses, however, the Lees seem to see the terminal nature of our existence as a reason to celebrate the time we have. This is a beautiful (and rocking) album that serves as a perfect counter to the record listed above… a ray of light to combat the dark.

I also recommend checking out the EP Strange Beauty from First Aid Kit. The two song digital release was recorded by sisters Klara and Johana Söderberg as a tribute to David Berman and pairs the title track, an original song written shortly after news broke of Berman’s death, with a loving cover of the Silver Jews song “Random Rules.”

HIGHWOMEN3. The HighwomenThe Highwomen

When Amanda Shires accidentally announced the formation of an all-woman country super group called The Highwomen live on the air at Louisville, KY’s WFPK in January, the project immediately became my most anticipated release of 2019. When the album finally arrived in September, it somehow lived up to all of my expectations with Shires, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, and Maren Morris sharing songwriting and vocal duties nearly equally across the record. Songs on the album range from the celebratory (“Redesigning Women”) to inclusive (“If She Ever Leaves Me”) to humorous (“My Name Can’t Be Mama”), but the undeniable centerpiece of the collection is the Highwomen’s reworking of Jimmy Webb’s classic Cash/Kristofferson/Willie/Waylon hit “The Highwaymen.” The quartet worked with Webb to write gender swapped verses that tell the stories of forgotten women from America’s past. A guest verse featuring Yola as a Civil Rights era Freedom Rider only adds to the gravity of the song.

TANYA

If you like that, try this: Tanya Tucker – While I’m Livin’

In many ways, Tanya Tucker had become a forgotten legend of country music over the last couple of decades, but she reminded us all in a big way in 2019. For her first album of new material in 17 years, a 60-year-old Tucker worked with producers Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings for as vital a work as any she recorded in her early career as a teenager. Want proof? Look no further than the four Grammy nominations Tucker landed for this record, including nods for Best Country Album and Song of the Year (with Carlile and Phil & Tim Hanseroth).

jadeb2. Jade Bird – Jade Bird

There’s no way this is a 2019 release, right? I mean, the first single, “Lottery,” was released all the way back in January of 2018. In fact, three songs from this album were first released in 2018. The full album, however, did not arrive until April of this year. When it did, it became a fixture in my car during early morning drives taking my daughter to school. We spent a good deal of time trying to decipher the rapid fire lyrics to “I Get No Joy,” and sang along loudly once we did… to that song, and others. The twelve songs on this album check in at just over 35 minutes with most songs coming in easily digestible three-minute chunks of roots-pop perfection. Jade Bird is a powerful vocalist with an ear for hooks who made a huge impact with this debut. I very much look forward to seeing where she goes from here.

jadej

If you like that, try this: Jade JacksonWilderness

These two artists have more in common than just a first name. Jades Bird and Jackson share an ability to wrap strong writing in even stronger hooks and have the vocal chops to match those other elements. “Bottle it Up” is one heck of an earworm, and one of my favorite tracks of the year.

Both Jades were also heavily featured in my daughter’s listening mix this year… so I thought now would be a good time share her Top Five records from this year. They’ve all been mentioned on this list already… it seems she inherited my good taste.

img_3125

My Daughter’s Top 5 Favorite Albums of 2019:
1. The Highwomen – The Highwomen
2. Jade Bird – Jade Bird
3. Caroline Spence – Mint Condition
4. Michaela Anne – Desert Dove
5. Jade Jackson – Wilderness 

peck1. Orville Peck – Pony

I’ll be honest. The first time someone reached out to me about this record, I ignored it. Completely. The email was from a major publicist I don’t work with that often, and I felt like it was pushing the mask more than it was pushing the music. My brain filed the whole thing away as nothing more than a gimmick, and I moved on.

Then the emails kept coming, and the positive reviews, and a mountain of tweets, and phone calls from a more trusted music promoter, and friends saying, “have you heard this Orville Peck guy?” Under all of that pressure, I relented… and I’m glad I did. Eventually, the album I expected nothing from became my favorite release of 2019. (Funny how that happens sometimes.)

The first thing that strikes you when listening to Pony is Peck’s voice. It’s equal parts Isaak and Orbison, and its baritone tremolos soar over backing tracks that drip with pedal steel while also somehow invoking The Cure (Long time listeners of The Americana Pulse know how much I love it when Americana artists reference Robert Smith). It’s so entrancing that by the time you’re a few bars into the spacey album opening “Dead of Night,” all thoughts of masks and gimmickry have already started to fade. Then, when “Buffalo Run” rolls along a few tracks later in all of it’s twangy New Wave glory, the whole thing… masks, music, all of it… starts to come together completely as part of the bigger picture of everything Peck is presenting with this project.

Though Peck is very up front about his love of country music and his place as an openly gay performer working in that traditionally conservative genre, everything else about him remains… well… masked. Like a musical Mandalorian he has yet to reveal his face in any of his public appearances. He also dodges any questions as to his true identity (Orville Peck is a stage name) or attempts to dig too deeply into his origins as an artist. As Peck told the L.A. Times in September, he keeps those details close to his chest because that way, “everyone gets to decide a little bit what I mean to them.” It reminds me a lot of Michael Stipe’s reluctance to discuss the inspiration behind early R.E.M. songs, preferring instead for the listener to connect to the music through their own experiences. In a way, the mask allows the audience to uncover more about the man and his music than any soul bearing interview could achieve.

What kept me coming back to Pony again and again in 2019, even after my initial reluctance, was that there was so much to uncover. Musically… Lyrically… Conceptually… It doesn’t matter how many masks Peck wears as a performer. It’s how much each repeated listen reveals that matters.

kare

If you like that, try this: Karen & the SorrowsGuaranteed Broken Heart

With Americana’s explosion in popularity over the last few years, the genre has been surrounded by ongoing conversations about inclusion and making the community around the music a space  where artists and fans of all colors and creeds can (perhaps in contrast to other mainstream genres) feel welcome and have their voices heard. Part of that conversation as it pertains to queer artists came to the forefront this year with a claim that The Highwomen’s “If She Ever Leaves Me” was the, “first gay country song.”

The truth is that while it does seem to be undergoing a bit of a growth phase, country music has a long tradition within the LGBT community. That tradition and growth were both chronicled beautifully in this Rachel Cholst article from a few years back in Wide Open Counry that I often cite. Karen Pittleman of Karen & The Sorrows was a large focus of that piece two years ago, and has only claimed a larger slice of the spotlight with the release of her second album with The Sorrows, Guaranteed Broken Heart. The title track is as country as anything released in 2019, and this record deserves a spot in your playlist from the year that was.

And… Since you made it all the way to the end… here’s a full playlist of all the albums and artists mentioned above.

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Weekly Playlist for 9/23/19: Nowhere to Hide Edition

img_2620I threw my back out on Sunday of last week.

I guess two months of sleeping on the couch to keep an eye on a baby who refuses to sleep in his own crib finally caught up to me. This previous week was nothing more than a blur of chiropractor visits and heating pads and steroids and ice packs as I tried to shuffle my way back toward normal. Luckily, my situation improved steadily, and I’m feeling fairly OK today. We’ll just have to see how it all holds up.

The whole thing kept me from doing a few things that I normally do at my day job last week. It did not, however, keep me out of the WDVX studio on Wednesday night for The Americana Pulse radio show. It also did not keep me from tracking down a bunch of new tunes to share here this week.

Let’s get to it.

wilco_17_ginareis-e14724088517711. Wilco – “Everyone Hides”
We’re now less than two weeks away from the release of Wilco’s new album Ode to Joy on October 4. This is the second song to be released from the album thus far, and it may actually be a tad familiar to Wilco completists. Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy previously released a version of this song with his son Spencer under their Tweedy moniker on the soundtrack to the 2014 Bill Murray film St. Vincent.

2. Girls on Grass – “Down at the Bottom”
I was not aware of the band Girls on Grass until I saw their name on a list of bands that would be performing in Knoxville last week. This being Knoxville, I assumed they were a bluegrass band, and I went about my way. A few days later, their record arrived in the mail at WDVX, and I found out how wrong I had been. This is a driving rock album produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel and driven by vocalist and songwriter Barbara Endes.

3. Jade Jackson – “Aden”
I’ve been listening to Jade Jackon’s newest record quite a bit lately, because it’s one of the records in my daughter’s nighttime rotation of late. For a switch, I wanted to pull one from Jackson’s previous album Gilded.

4. Soccer Mommy – “lucy”
This is the first new music released by Sophie Allison, the Nashville based songwriter behind Soccer Mommy, since her 2018 album Clean. I fell in love with that record last year, and it is what led me in turn to check out other artists such as Lucy Dacus, Pheobe Bridgers, Lola Kirke, Snail Mail and others. This track would have fit nicely with that 2018 set.

petal5. Kississippi – “Cut Yr Teeth”
6. Pinky Pinky  – “Ram Jam”
7. Petal – “Better Than You”
Because of the amount of time I’ve spent listening to artists like Soccer Mommy over the last year or so, Spotify recently recommended a playlist for me called Badass Women. The description for the playlist is “Guitar jams led by badass women,” and that is what it delivers. The playlist is constantly changing and updating, but these are a few tracks that are currently featured. I discovered Petal around the same time I fell into Soccer Mommy and the others last year. Kississippi and Pinky Pinky are new to me.

41F8B2PSVRL8. Ben Arthur – “Broken-Hearted Smile”
I’ll admit, I haven’t thought much about Ben Arthur in the last few years, but I was pleased to see that he’s coming to play the Blue Plate Special at WDVX on Tuesday (9/24). These days, Arthur is the host of a podcast about songs and stories called SongWriter and has a new record called Perspective due to be released soon. I used to play this song from his 2004 CD Edible Darling at my old radio station. Also, I just love how creepy this album cover is.


9. Ben Lee – “Divine Hammer”
I discovered Ben Lee around the same time I found Ben Arthur in the mid 2000’s. The Australian songwriter has kept busy by releasing a string of albums that highlight his gifts for catchy pop melodies and clever lyrics. Lee’s recent projects include a collaboration with actor Josh Radnor and a new album due in November called Quarter Century Classix that features covers of Lee’s favorite songs from his teenage years in the 1990’s. He’s taking a go at The Breeders here.

10. Steelism – “Eno Nothing”
No real reason for adding this song this week. I guess I’ve just had Jeremy Fetzer on the brain since sharing a Caitlin Rose song he played on a few weeks ago. Fetzer, along with steel guitar player Spencer Cullum Jr,. is one half of the instrumental duo Steelism. I hosted Steelism a few years ago on WDVX’s First Friday Live show and sat slack jawed during their entire set.

11. Black Pumas – “Fire”
Fresh off an appearance on CBS’s Saturday Sessions over the weekend, the Austin duo The Black Pumas will play a set at Barley’s in Knoxville Monday night (9/23). I would advise checking it out.

brittanyhoward_jaime12. Brittany Howard – “Georgia”
Brittany Howard’s solo debut was possibly the highest profile album to be released on Friday. As front woman for the Alabama Shakes, Howard has earned a reputation as one of the most powerful vocalists on the planet. The solo setting allows Howard to spread her wings even further in tackling new sonic territories. Several songs from the album were already out in the world prior to Friday’s release date, but this atmospheric album cut gives you just one of the new directions Howard explores.

13. Andrew Combs – “Ideal Man”
Another record that came out Friday is the latest from Andrew Combs. We’ve featured a few tracks here over the last couple of months, and now that the whole record has hit we can share the title track of the album as well.

14. Malcolm Holcomb with Iris DeMent – “I Don’t Wanna Disappear”
Knoxville favorite Malcolm Holcomb is headed to town to play WDVX’s Tennessee Shines on Wednesday night (9/25). Holcomb usually makes it across the mountains from North Carolina a few times a year to play in town, and his gruff and grizzled style has gathered quite a few followers over the years. His Shines appearances often sell out, but you can  catch the live broadcast of Tennessee Shines Wednesday at 7:00 if you can’t make it to the show.

Almlost_DaylightAlbumCover_Cropped-758x75815. Chris Knight featuring John Prine – “Mexican Home”
Considering that Chris Knight’s new record Almost Daylight will be his first release in seven years when it comes out on October 11, I feel like this record isn’t getting a lot of attention. That is… I oddly haven’t been hearing much about it from my regular sources. Maybe this track from the album featuring the one and only John Prine will help grab some attention.


16. Rosanne Cash – “I Still Miss Someone”
I’m sure most of you have been watching Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary on PBS. I’m a little behind on viewing myself, but I did get a copy of the soundtrack in the mail at the station last week. Most of what you get on this collection are the standard hits from country music history that you might expect, but don’t overlook this little gem from Rosanne Cash tucked away at the end of this set. This a live recording of Rosanne singing her late father Johnny Cash’s song at Johnny’s Memorial Tribute concert in 2003. The video of this performance has been on YouTube for years, but this is the first time this version of the song has been officially released. It’s absolutely beautiful.

17. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “All My Friends”
Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, and their assembled Band just released a full-length album in February. That doesn’t mean they’re ready to relax, though. Last week, the band announced they will release a new four-song EP this Friday titled High and Mighty. The EP was originally released as an exclusive vinyl for Record Store Day, and this new wider issuing coincides with the start of their six show residency at the Beacon Theatre in New York.

Pieta_Brown_Freeway_cover_1_1024x102418. Pieta Brown – “Freeway”
Pieta Brown’s latest, Freeway, is another record that we’ve been keeping track of in this space. Like Andrew Combs earlier in the list, we’re giving you the title track now that the full album was released on Friday.

19. The Long Ryders – “Walls”
20. Rose Cousins with Bears Den and Christof van der Ven – “I Would Die 4 U”
21. J.S. Ondara – “I’m Afraid of Americans”
Covers Time! Here’s a few songs that you’re probably already familiar with in their original forms, but got new interpretations this week.

By now, we’re all used to hearing varying arrangements of Tom Petty, Prince, and David Bowie songs. All have been the subject of various tributes since their deaths over the past few years.Here, Paisley Underground mainstays The Long Ryders give us a fairly faithful take on Petty’s “Walls,” while Rose Cousins and J.S. Ondara offer stripped down folkier takes on Prince & Bowie.

22. Bruce Springsteen – “State Trooper”
Bruce Springsteen celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday. Last week, we gave you Lucy Dacus’ new cover of “Dancing in the Dark” to celebrate. This time around, it’s The Boss himself with one from his 1982 album Nebraska.

gramparsonGP23. Gram Parsons – “Streets of Baltimore”
On the flip side of that coin, last Wednesday marked the anniversary of the death of Gram Parsons in 1973. GP, Parsons’ first solo record came out in January of that year and gave us a full slate of Cosmic American classics like this one.

24. Christopher Paul Stelling – “Have to Do For Now”
Ben Harper signs on as producer on this new track from songwriter Christopher Paul Stelling. Look for more new music to trickle out from Stelling over the next couple of months as he preps to release a new album in 2020.

25. Jim Lauderdale – “When Carolina Comes Home Again”
Prolific * adjective * Pertaining to the songwriting career of Mr. Americana, Jim Lauderdale.
Seriously. Lauderdale just released a full album in June, and here is again with another new single. He seems to be returning to a bit of a bluegrass feel with this one as well.

26. The Human Experience with Rising Appalachia – “Stromboli (The Human Experience Remix)”
The Human Experience is the musical identity of electronic artist David Block. Rising Appalachia is a progressive folk duo comprised of sisters Leah and Chloe Smith. They’ve joined forces here to collaborate on a remixed version of a song from Rising Appalachia’s 2015 album Wider Circles. A driving percussion track is added to the banjos and fiddles of the original to create something entirely new.

27. R.E.M. with Natalie Merchant – “Photograph”
I’ve been trying to share this non-album R.E.M. track in this spot for the last two weeks. It would be on the playlist when I started, but would ultimately get bumped by one of the new tracks from the upcoming Monster 25th Anniversary set by the time I was done. There’s nothing new this week, though, so just enjoy how great Michael Stipe and Natalie Merchant sound together.

cars28. Weezer – “Say it Ain’t So”
29. Jesse Dayton – “Just What I Needed”
30. The Cars – “You Might Think”
The last three songs this week all mark the passing of The Cars front man Rik Okasik.

I grew up in the 1980’s, and The Cars were one of those bands that were always around. I remember seeing their videos on MTV and hearing their songs on the radio. I even knew the words to a handful of them even though I never actually owned one of their records. “You Might Think” would absolutely make a playlist of my favorite songs from that era of mid-80’s pop when I can first really remember paying attention to music.

As I got older, I came to own a handful of albums produced by Okasik including Weezer’s classic debut. The Jesse Dayton track was just released a few weeks before Okasik’s death and more than anything goes to show the reach his music had. A Texas honky tonker including his own version of a synth-pop classic on an album of covers of some of his favorite songs (and right in between tunes from Springsteen and AC/DC, no less)?

That actually may be Just What I Needed.

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Weekly Playlist for 9/16/19: Fooled Around and Made a Playlist Edition

img_2586As I begin writing this week’s post over the weekend, Americanafest is wrapping up in Nashville.

Americanafest is typically my favorite week of the year. For the music, yes. But also for all the folks I’ve met there over the years. Kindred spirits of sorts who I love getting to spend time with for this one week every year. They are artists and radio folks and industry types who are all pulling in the same direction to promote music we love. I feel very much at home in Nashville during this week, and I’m very sad I didn’t get to make it this time around.

I’m happy to be home spending time with my new baby, of course. But… Yeah… Sad, too.

I read all the articles, watched all the videos, and scrolled through all the pictures the rest of you posted last week, and I promise I’ll be back there soaking it all in next year. Until then, here’s a piece I wrote a few years back that will try to explain what the festival means to me.

Anyway, just because I wasn’t in Nashville last week doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening to a bunch of new music.

Let’s get to it.

jade1. Brent Cobb featuring Jade Bird – “Feet Off the Ground
When Brent Cobb made his first trip to tour the UK in 2017, Jade Bird was tapped to open some of his shows. Cobb wrote this song with Bird then, on his first ever trip overseas. A few months later, Bird would record her vocals on her first ever trip to the US. Strangely enough, Cobb says the track was partly inspired by a text from actor Bradley Cooper, and was under consideration (though ultimately not chosen) for the soundtrack to A Star is Born.

2. Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tennille Townes, & Caylee Hammack – “Fooled Around & Fell in Love”
Country superstar Miranda Lambert is set to release her new album Wildcard on November 1. As part of the promotional support for the album, Lambert is also embarking on an arena tour, and she’s taking the women of Nashville with her. Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tennille Townes, and Caylee Hammack are all scheduled to open on various segments of the tour, and they’ve all joined Lambert here on a rousing cover of Elvin Bishop’s 1975 hit.

3. Lucy Dacus – “Dancing in the Dark”
Lucy Dacus has been releasing a string of singles this year to commemorate various national holidays. Previous releases in the series have paid homage to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and the Fourth of July. Naturally, the next holiday on the list is the 70th birthday of Bruce Springsteen on September 23. Dacus has been covering The Boss’ 1984 hit in concert for a few years, but really takes ownership of it with this recording. Try not singing/screaming along when she cathartically belts out, “Hey baby, I’m just about starving tonight.”

4. Corb Lund – “Still Rock & Roll to Me”
Canadian country singer Corb Lund released his new album of covers on Friday. Lund went beyond the walls of country music for many of the selections on this album including taking runs at songs originally performed by Dr. Hook, AC/DC, and Nancy Sinatra. Here, he gives us his take on this 1980 Billy Joel anthem and wisely changes the climactic solo from saxophone to guitar.

RustonKelly_DirtEmo_Cover5. Ruston Kelly featuring Chris Carrabba – “Screaming Infidelities”
OK. I admit it. I owned Dashboard Confessional’s The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most in college. I distinctly remember buying it at the old Cat’s Records outside of Gatlinburg. No Shame.
That probably means I am the exact person Ruston Kelly is targeting with this new cover of Dashboard Confessional’s biggest song that also features Dashboard’s distinctive lead singer Chris Carrabba. Dirt Emo Vol. 1 is set for release October 11. Ruston Kelly will perform in Knoxville Thursday night (9/19) at the Bijou Theatre.

6. Kelsey Waldon – “White Noise, White Lines”
The title track from Kelsey Waldon’s upcoming (October 4) release is the third track the Kentucky songwriter has shared from the record. We’ve talked about this record before in this space, but it bears mentioning again that Waldon is the first new artist signed to John Prine’s Oh Boy! record label in 15 years.

rodney_crowell-Texas_cover-1024x10247. Rodney Crowell featuring Billy F. Gibbons – “56 Fury”
8. Eilen Jewell – “These Blues”
9. Beth Bombara – “Tenderhearted”
10. Jason Hawk Harris – “Blessed Interruption”
11. Paul Cauthen – “Big Velvet”
For some time now, a contingent of folks within the Americana community have been rumbling about the official Americana Music Association airplay charts. The thought is that the growth of the format has brought in some larger AAA leaning stations as reporters who are less concerned with with featuring music with origins in country, and more focused on playing artists with less twang and more crossover potential.

bethVery recently small group of those people started laying the groundwork for a second Americana radio chart that would focus more on airplay data from specialty shows like The Americana Pulse and others that tend to focus more on the alt-country roots of the genre. The first official version of the new Alt-Country Chart was released last week. These five songs represent the Top Five albums on the initial report.

12. Orville Peck – “Winds Change”
13. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – “Years”
Annalise Domenighini is a music writer who I’ve followed for some time. You probably read her interview with Sturgill Simpson a few years ago, or maybe you saw her more recent piece on The Highwomen. Last week, she really caught my imagination with this tweet.

I don’t know if this tour is actually happening, but the thought of it was enough to make me throw these two songs on the list this week. I would absolutely go to this show… more than once, probably.

strut14. The Meters – “Wichita Lineman”
Speaking of cool things I saw this week that led me to seek out certain songs…

Lost & Found Records in Knoxville posted this article on facebook about what makes “Wichita Lineman” such a great song. I probably listened to six or seven versions of the song after I read it, and settled on sharing this one from New Orleans band The Meters. This 1970 recording features Art Neville on vocals.


15. Allen Toussaint – “Yes We Can”
Listening to The Meters put me in a New Orleans state of mind, which immediately led me to Allen Toussaint. Here he is with his own version of a song he wrote that became a hit for The Pointer Sisters in 1973. This song always makes me want to dance.

16. Mavis Staples – “Take Us Back”
You should know by now that I’ll jump at any excuse to throw some Mavis Staples into one of these mixes. My excuse this time around is just that I think it has a similar groove to “Yes We Can.”

ollabelle17. Ollabelle – “Before This Time”
September 11 was last Wednesday. There isn’t a year that goes by on that date when I don’t relive all the events of 9/11 in my mind. Similarly, on that date each year, I always find myself returning to the music of the band Ollabelle. I remember when their debut album hit in 2004 being fascinated by the story of how this group of musicians came together in New York City in the aftermath of 9/11 to play songs at a Sunday night gospel sing in the city. Amy Helm and crew pop up in my playlist on this date every year.

18. The Wood Brothers – “Happiness Jones/Express Yourself”
The Wood Brothers new live album came out on Friday. The only time I have actually gotten to see The Wood Brothers perform live was in a quiet acoustic setting, so hearing them really go full tilt on their own “Happiness Jones” while throwing in a little “Express Yourself” is a lot of fun for me.

rem-monster-25-anniversary-1567607293-compressed19. R.E.M. – “Undertow”
This was a big week for R.E.M. fans. The band put out a previously unreleased song to raise money for Hurricane Dorian relief in the Bahamas, and 3/4 of the band reunited for a benefit concert in Atlanta.

On top of that, R.E.M. also released a few more songs to tease the pending 6-disc, 25th Anniversary reissue of their 1994 album Monster. This time, the release was four live tracks recorded at a 1995 Monster Tour show in Chicago. I chose to share “Undertow” because it was one of the songs R.E.M. was road testing on this tour before including it on 1996’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi. I vividly remember hearing this song for the first time at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY when I saw this tour in 1995.

20. Fruition – “Northern Town”
21. Kacy & Clayton – “High Holiday”
22. Ana Egge – “Rise Above”
23. Jesse Dayton – “If You Could Read My Mind”
24. Mike Farris – “Snap Your Fingers”
This week coming up is another good one for live music in Knoxville. Let’s quickly run through who’s coming to see us over the next seven days.

Fruition will play Friday night (9/20) at Jackson Terminal with the Jon Stickley Trio and T.K. & The Holy Know Nothings. Kacey & Clayton will roll into town on Thursday (9/19) for a show at The Open Chord and a slot on the WDVX Blue Plate Special. Both shows are with bluegrass cover band Twisted Pine. Ana Egge will play songs from her new album Is it the Kiss Monday on the WDVX Blue Plate Special. Jesse Dayton rolls into Barley’s in the Old City Thursday night. Finally, Mike Farris is back at The Open Chord Friday night.

Get to one of these shows, if you can.

om_v225. Mandolin Orange – “Belly of the Beast”
Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz have been making music together as Mandolin Orange since 2009. I remember hearing their name when they played some of their early shows at the Blue Plate Special and small venues in Knoxville and thinking, “Oh. That’s a clever name. I hope they do well.” Well… Mandolin Orange just completed a two night stand at The Ryman, so I guess they’ve made out alright so far. This is one side of a two-song EP Mandolin Orange released as a lead up to those Ryman shows a couple of weeks ago.

26. Esther Rose – “Handyman”
The sophomore album from New Orleans singer/songwriter Esther Rose was released last month, and I finally got around to spending some time with it over the last couple of weeks. This track from You Made it This Far rolls along with an easy southern swing that places Rose nicely in her adopted hometown.

Medicine27. Sarah Jane Scouten – “You Are the Medicine”
As Sarah Jane Scouten continues to release tracks from her upcoming album Confessions, due in November, I’ll continue to share them here. This is the second track from the multiple time Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee’s latest project.

28. Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley featuring Taj Mahal – “World Full of Blues”
This is the title track off the upcoming third album from bluegrass duo Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley (October 4). Ickes and Hensley say this time around, though, the plan is to move beyond their traditional acoustic sound structure and include elements such as Hammond organs and horn sections. This topical tune features blues legend Taj Mahal and is one of two high profile collaborations on the record. Vince Gill also joins the party on a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Brown-Eyed Woman.”

foes29. Lola Kirke featuring Brent Cowles – “Shoulda Cheated”
Lola Kirke is probably still best known as an actress with featured roles in the film Gone Girl and the Golden Globe winning television series Mozart in the Jungle. Kirke is also a musician, and she completely captured my attention with her 2018 album Heart Head West. Her newest project is an EP of country duets with various artists titled Friends and Foes and Friends Again. This track features songwriter Brent Cowles.

30. J.P. Harris & Elizabeth Cook – “On the Rebound”
Speaking of country duets, we’ll close out the list this week with a song from J.P. Harrris’ second collection of classic country duets, Why Don’t We Duet in the Road (Again). Harris released the first volume in this series in 2017 while featuring guest slots from Leigh Nash, Kelsey Waldon, Nikki Lane, and Kristina Murray. This time around it’s Malin Peterson, Erin Rae, Miss Tess, and Elizabeth Cook (featured here) taking their turns with Harris. Here, Harris and Cook play the roles of Del Reeves and Billie Jo Spears from the original recording.

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Weekly Playlist for 9/9/19: Highwomen Edition

img_2571Friday was Highwomen release day.

It’s the record we were all waiting for. It’s probably the record many of you were searching when you stumbled onto this site. It’s the record we’ve all been listening to all weekend.

So there’s no need for me to fill this introductory space with anything other than talk about how I broke out my headphones during the baby’s midnight feeding to give it a first listen early Friday morning. Or about how my daughter came downstairs already streaming it on her iPad before we left for school that day. Or how I tried to buy a physical copy of the record at Target on Saturday only to find they had none, and their website only returned hits for The Highwaymen (Do better, Target).

So, that’s it. No talk of college football and how my team (Kentucky) lost their quarterback for the season on an illegal tackle. No talk of how everybody else in this town is going crazy because their team (Tennessee) is unexpectedly 0-2. No stories of my daughter getting attacked by fire ants at the Tennessee Valley Fair. None of that.

We’re just gonna go straight into a playlist bookended by songs from The Highwomen’s new record. Along the way, we’ll check in with a few more women-only supergroups, tell you who’s playing shows in Knoxville this week, preview one last Americana Music Awards category, and share a few new tunes.

Let’s get to it.

hw1. The Highwomen – “If She Ever Leaves Me”
This is not, as some have labeled it, the first “gay country song.” It’s far from it, in fact. What it is, though, is a song that lets us know, as much as any other on this record, The Highwomen are here to tell stories with voices that have been traditionally underrepresented in country music. Highwoman Amanda Shires originally wrote this as a heterosexual love song with her husband Jason Isbell and songwriter Chris Thompkins. It was Isbell who later had the idea that it could become a more powerful piece in the hands of Highwoman Brandi Carlile. The perspective shifted, and a classic was born.

TRIO2. Trio – “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”
Long before we had The Highwomen, there was the Trio. Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt set the standard for female supergroups back in 1987 when they united for the first Trio album. They reunited for a second offering in 1999, and a complete archival collection of their recordings was released in 2016. If the recent trend of women collaborating with women in country and roots music can be traced back to a single origin, the Trio is it.

3. Our Native Daughters – “I Knew I Could Fly”
I’ve given a lot of space to Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kia, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell on this blog in the last couple of months due to Our Native Daughter’s nomination for Duo/Group of the Year at Wednesday’s Americana Music Awards (and Giddens’ nomination for Artist of the Year at the same ceremony). Much like Giddens’ previous band The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Our Native Daughters has helped to redefine traditional American music and the role enslaved African Americans played in helping create it.

4. case/lang/veirs – “Atomic Number”
Neko Case, kd lang, and Laura Veirs first played together as a trio in 2013 and released their self titled album a few years later in 2016. The result is an album that brings together three innovative songwriters with resonant voices that soar into angelic harmonies.

5. boygenius – “Me & My Dog”
Where case/lang/veirs were all veteran artists at the time of their collaboration… Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus were each at much earlier points in their careers when they recorded together. Regardless, the trio of indie songwriters produced an EP in 2018 that felt like a seamless effort from a group that had been working together for years.

imwith6. I’m With Her – “I-89”
Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan were already giants in the acoustic world when they first started playing together in 2015. Watkins gained renown as a fiddle player and vocalist for Nickel Creek, O’Donovan fronted the progressive string band Crooked Still, and Jarosz burst on the scene a decade ago as a multi-instrumentalist solo artist who scored a Grammy nomination before she graduated high school. Together, they’re nominated for Duo/Group of the Year at this year’s Americana Awards.

7. Pistol Annies – “Best Years of My Life”
The Pistol Annies formed in Nashville in 2011 as a collaborative effort featuring Angaleena Presley, Ashley Monroe, and superstar Miranda Lambert. The Annies have been able to walk the line between the worlds of mainstream country and Americana like few others scoring two number one records on the country sales charts while also also earning Top 10 status on the Americana Airplay chart.

her town8. Mark Erelli – “Her Town Now”
This is the second single to see release from an as yet untitled Mark Erelli album. The song is a co-write with Chuck Prophet and features more of a rock sound than we’ve heard from Erelli in recent years. The song itself deals with a narrator discovering the harsh realities of a post break up life in which his hometown no longer feels like his own.

9. Josh Ritter – “Getting Ready to Get Down”
Every so often this song just gets into my head, and I have to listen to it a few hundred times to get it back out again. It popped up again one day last week.

10. Israel Nash – “Evening”
I found myself playing this song from Israel Nash Gripka’s debut album New York Town on my radio show when I came back to the airwaves a few weeks ago. As it was spinning I fired off a tweet encouraging folks to track down Nash’s (then Israel Nash Gripka) first two albums. Nash responded to the tweet by saying how he thought WDVX was one of the only stations in the country that played is music back then. It’s always nice to know that we at the station played any small part in helping an artist get started early in their career.

paint11. Caleb Caudle with Lydia Loveless – “Trade All the Lights”
12. Austin Lucas with Lydia Loveless – “Wrong Side of the Dream”
13. Supersuckers with Lydia Loveless – “I Can’t Cry”
Last week, I kicked off the playlist with a song from Lydia Loveless. It was followed later with a new track from Caleb Caudle. I’ve been thinking about the duet the two turned in on Caudle’s 2014 album Paint Another Layer on My Heart ever since. As a bonus, I’m also tossing in a couple more Loveless duets from 2015 (Supersuckers) and 2016 (Austin Lucas). I’ve been know to play all three in succession on the radio from time to time.

14. Martin Harley – “Brother”
Martin Harley is a British songwriter whose work I got to know, oddly, through his collaborations with Knoxville bass player (and former WDVX sound guy) Daniel Kimbro. I learned about his new single via a twitter post form another former Knoxvillian and frequent Harley tour partner Sam Lewis. It’s the second song released so far from Harley’s upcoming album Roll With the Punches.

Music Review John Prine15. Yola – “Love All Night (Work All Day)”
16. Amanda Shires – “Leave it Alone”
17. Lori McKenna – “Happy People”
18. John Prine – “Knockin’ on Your Screen Door”
It’s finally here. The Americana Music Awards Show takes place Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville as part of the annual Americana Music Festival. I’ve been handicapping some of the major categories here over the past few weeks, and this is the last one we’re going to examine before the show… Album of the Year.

The nominees are Walk Through Fire by Yola, To the Sunset by Amanda Shires, The Tree by Lori McKenna, and The Tree of Forgiveness by John Prine. Honestly? I have no idea how this one is going to break, but I’m thinking Prine probably takes it. The Tree of Forgiveness was his first album of original material in 13 years, and it delivered the best sales chart performance of his career as well. Roll Prine’s legendary status into the mix, and it’s probably enough to top Yola’s breakout, Shires’s daring leap, and McKenna’s flurry of gut punches.

19. North Mississippi Allstars with Jason Isbell & Duane Betts – “Mean Old World”
The latest release from the North Mississippi Allstars comes our way October 4. Up and Rolling will once again feature brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson and their own signature take on the blues and roots music they learned at the feet of their father, legendary producer Jim Dickinson. For this song, the Dickinson boys bring Jason Isbell and Duane Betts on board to record a tune their father once recorded with Eric Clapton.
tami

20. Tami Neilson – “Hey Bus Driver”
Valentine’s Day still seems like it’s a long way away, but that’s how long we have to wait for the new album from Tami Neilson. Until then we have this first single from the upcoming album Chickaboom. this song ought to give you a good taste of the big sound that can be created when the “hot rockin’ lady of country rockabilly and soul sings.”

21. Michaela Anne – “I’m Not the Fire”
This is the third song I’ve featured from Michaela Anne’s upcoming release Desert Dove. I got an advanced copy of the full record a few weeks ago, and I can say with confidence that I think you will all enjoy it when it gets its public release on September 27.

22. R.E.M. – “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? (remix)”
I can’t believe that R.E.M.’s Monster is turning 25. That seems crazy to me. This is the record that finally hooked me on my favorite band and sent me on a buying frenzy that had me collecting their previous catalog in the span of a few months my junior year of high school. It’s now 25, and I am old. Anyway, R.E.M. is reissuing the album on the occasion of its anniversary, and they usually do these anniversary editions right. Monster is getting a six-disc release with demos, live recordings, a blu-ray edition of the Road Movie concert film, and a full remix of the original album by original producer Scott Litt. Take my money.

zeph23. Zephaniah OHora – “Songs My Mama Sang”
I was on the air doing my show last week when a listener sent me an email asking who he should go see next weekend at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Of course, there are several great names on the bill as usual, but he wanted a tip on someone who wasn’t a headliner. I immediately steered him toward Zephaniah OHora. This one is from his debut, but be on the lookout for a new album OHora recently finished recording with the late Neal Casal as producer.

24. Jill Andrews – “Sorry Now”
The last time I saw Jill Andrews was exactly one year ago this week at The Mercy Lounge in Nashville during Americanafest. I caught her solo showcase on the opening night of the festival (after walking over from John Prine at City Winery), and she told me afterward that she would be releasing a couple of projects in the following year. Well, her duo The Hush Kids put out their debut the following month, and the first single from Andrews’ new solo album dropped last week… right on time for that one year threshold.

tuttle25. Robbie Fulks – “I’ll Trade You Money for Wine”
26. Folk Family Revival – “Addicted to the Road”
27. Karen Jonas – “Country Songs”
28. Molly Tuttle – “Good Enough”
Here toward the end of this week’s list, let’s take a look at some folks who are headed to Knoxville to play some shows this week.

We’ll start with Americana giant Robbie Fulks, who will be holding court at Barley’s in the Old City on Sunday night (9/15).

Folk Family Revival and Karen Jonas will be at WDVX for a double bill on the Blue Plate Special on Thursday (9/12). Folk Family Revival will also play a show at The Open Chord Thursday night.

Molly Tuttle is helping WDVX close out the Summer Sessions series in Oak Ridge Saturday night (9/14) along with The Alex Leach Band. This is one you should try not to miss.

29. The Grascals – “Drivin’ My Life Away”
My love for fun bluegrass covers is well documented, and this take on an Eddie Rabbit classic certainly qualifies. The Grascals are bluegrass giants, and their new album is out now.

30. The Highwomen – “Loose Change”
More Highwomen on the way out, as promised. Maren Morris takes point on this one.

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Weekly Playlist for 9/2/19: Hey! Wake Up! Edition

img_2542Wednesdays have long been one of my favorite days of the week because that is the day I get to in the studio at WDVX and put Americana Pulse on the air.

Of course, Wednesdays are also often my longest day of the week too. I’m typically up around 6:30 to get my daughter ready for school, and after nine hours at the day job and five more on the air, I’m usually dragging home around midnight and too wired to sleep.

I’m used to that. Last Wednesday though, I came home to find a baby who also seemed to be too wired to sleep. Long story short… he and I were both still unhappily awake at 3:30 in the morning. By the time it was time to get up and do it all again the next day, I had logged about two-and-a-half hours of sleep. That is not ideal when your day job asks you to sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen for large chunks of the day.

That is, though, where we begin this week’s playlist.

It’s a day late after the holiday weekend, but let’s get to it.

Lydia_Loveless_2017_by_Cowtown_Chad_01. Lydia Loveless – “All I Know”
2. Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles – “I’ll Show You How”
3. Caitlin Rose – “Shanghai Cigarettes”
4. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – “Nothin’ Feels Right But Doin’ Wrong”
The events of Wednesday night had left me in a such a state Thursday morning at work that coffee alone was not going to get me through the day. I needed something loud, familiar, and uptempo pumped directly into my ears to keep me moving forward. I started with Lydia Loveless’ Indestructible Machine record, and before I knew it I had plowed through a large chunk of her catalog.

That all seemed to work so well that I followed it up with a mix of Sarah Borges, Caitlin Rose, and Sarah Shook to keep things rolling. I picked a representative song from each of those artists to kick off the list this week just in case you have a long day at work in front of you on Tuesday after the holiday.

5. Caleb Caudle – “Howlin’ at the Moon”
We’re going to shift to a couple of new tunes here while still keeping things familiar with a few covers. Caleb Caudle will release a new album early next year featuring songs from recording sessions at the famed Cash Cabin from earlier this year. Caudle gave us all a taste of those sessions last week with the release of his version of Hank Williams Sr.’s “Howlin’ at the Moon.”

Mavericks_Swingin_Final6. The Mavericks – “Swingin'”
Raul Malo and the Mavericks are celebrating 30 years of making music together. As part of that celebration, The Mavericks are already out on the road playing stops on an anniversary tour. If they aren’t swinging through your town on the tour, you can swing along with this new cover of John Anderson’s 1983 classic. There are no two voices in country music history that are more different than Malo and Anderson, and The Mavericks make full use of their front man’s distinctive pipes even as they add their own flavor to the song.

7. Love Canon – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
Tears for Fears are an underrated powerhouse of 1980’s pop music. I heard their original version of this 1985 hit twice out in the world on Tuesday, and I knew I wanted to throw an “Americana-ized” version into this week’s mix. Love Canon is a covers only bluegrass band that primarily tackles hits from the 1980’s… the pop music “canon,” if you will. There are tons of fun tracks like this in their catalog.

8. Mustered Courage – “Kiss From a Rose”
One good bluegrass cover deserves another. This one gives us Australian band Mustered Courage’s taking on Seal’s mega-hit “Kiss From a Rose.” The original was Seal’s biggest hit in the U.S. and won three Grammys in 1996. This song may also be the only good thing that came from Joel Schumaker’s Batman movies.

aubrie9. Aubrie Sellers & Steve Earle – “My Love Will Not Change”
We still have to wait until February (Far From Home – 2/7/20) for the much anticipated follow up to Aubrie Sellers’ 2016 debut. Luckily, Sellers has been slowly dropping a few nuggets from the upcoming release. This Shawn Camp composition is already a well-traveled Americana standard (Bluegrass Situation hit on a few of the song’s incarnations last week), but Sellers is able to put her own spin on the tune by muddying things up a bit and bringing in Steve Earle on backing vocals.

prine2019 Americana Music Awards Song of the Year Nominees
10. Mark Erelli, Anais Mitchell, Josh Ritter, Lori McKenna, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow – “By Degrees”
11. Lori McKenna – “People Get Old”
12. John Prine – “Summer’s End”
13. Ruston Kelly – “Mockingbird”
As we mentioned last week, The Americana Music Awards will be handed out September 11 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. In an effort to get you ready for the ceremony, I’ve been taking a bit of space here to handicap some of the major awards and toss out some predictions. Last week was Emerging Act and Duo/Group of the Year. This time around, we’ll tackle the Song and Artist of the year Categories.

First is Song of the Year, and I kinda feel like John Prine comes away with this one. He’s nominated here and for Album of the Year, and I have to believe he walks away with one award… if not two. “Summer’s End,” a co-write with Pat McLaughlin, stands with some of the best work of Prine’s career, and would be a worthy recipient here.

Ruston Kelly made a huge splash with “Mockingbird” from his Dying Star album. We also talked in this space a few weeks ago about the Mark Erelli composition, “By Degrees,” that sadly continues to remain relevant. Lori McKenna is insightful as always with “People Get Old.” As someone who has experienced both birth and death in my immediate family in this calendar year, I can feel every word of this song. It would probably have my vote, if I were actually voting.

I am the guy who turns off all the lights in the house, by the way.

brandi2019 Americana Music Awards Artist of the Year Nominees
14. Kacey Musgraves – “Slow Burn”
15. Brandi Carlile – “The Mother”
16. Our Native Daughters – “Better Get Your Learnin'”
17. Mavis Staples – “Can You Get to That”
As much as I love all of the women in this category, I think Brandi Carlile takes this in a walk. Carlile swept the Americana categories at the Grammy Awards earlier this year and continues to be an icon for activism, kindness, and inclusion within the music industry. Even with her work with The Highwomen coming after the nominating and voting period for this award was over, Carlile feels like a clear choice to me.

Of course… Kacey Musgraves, Rhiannon Giddens (represented here by Our Native Daughters), and Mavis Staples are also worthy nominees who had great years in their own rights. This award, though, seems to be tied to visibility outside of the genre, and Carlile’s Grammy wins, Grammy performance, and numerous television appearances would seem to put her over the top.

lms18. Son Volt – “Windfall”
19. Laura Mae Socks – “Truer Sound”
Laura Mae Socks is not an artist I was familiar with before I stumbled upon a recent article about her in American Songwriter. I was intrigued enough by her story of growing up poor in the mountains of West Virginia to check out a few of her songs. I was also intrigued by her statement that she was inspired by the Son Volt song “Windfall” in writing for her new album. The song I’m sharing here borrows it’s title from the lyrics of that Son Volt classic. I can easily imagine Socks, who also spent time living in Louisiana, listening to that same all-night station that Son Volt’s Jay Farrar sings about on his song from 1995.

20. Steep Canyon Rangers, The Asheville Symphony, & Boyz II Men – “Be Still Moses”
What happens when the High Lonesome Sound meets Cooleyhighharmony? The answer can be found in this new collaboration between The Steep Canyon Rangers and Boyz II Men that debuted last week through Billboard’s website. The track is from an upcoming album the Rangers recorded with The Ashville Symphony Orchestra.

around21. R.E.M. & Q-Tip – “The Outsiders”
Speaking of odd pairings that lead to strong collaborations… This week’s R.E.M. track comes from their 2004 album Around the Sun and features a verse from Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest. Tip has always been one of my favorite rappers, and this pairing with my favorite band is a definite highlight from one of R.E.M.’s weaker releases. If you ask me, this one holds up a little better today than “Radio Song,” R.E.M.’s other rap collaboration with KRS-1 from the Out of Time record.

22. Amy LaVere – “No Battle Hymn”
23. Guy Marshall – “West Virginia”
24. Mike & The Moonpies – “If You Want a Fool Around”
What’s that you ask? Who is playing live shows around Knoxville this week?

How about we start with Amy LaVere who will be playing songs from her new release Painting Blue Thursday (9/5) on the WDVX Blue Plate Special.

Local favorites Guy Marshall are back on Tennessee Shines Wednesday night. That show takes place at Boyd’s Jig & Reel and will be broadcast live on WDVX at 7:00.

Mike and the Moonpies are in town today (9/3) for a Blue Plate slot. They’ll also be holding things down at Barley’s tonight as they tour behind their new record Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold.

walk25. Leah Blevins – “God, Help Me”
I’ve been trying not to read much about next week’s AmericanaFest. I’m not able to go this year, and I genuinely hate to miss out on my favorite week of the year. I did check out this article from NPR Music about new artists at the festival, though and found out about Leah Blevins. Blevins is from Sandy Hook, KY… the land of Keith Whitley, and a town I used to drive through frequently on my way home from college at Morehead State University back in the day. If you’re attending AmericanaFest this year, try to go check her out.

26. Ashley McBryde – “One Night Standards”
This is how you write a country cheating song.

Ashley McBryde is readying the follow up to her breakthrough album Girl Going Nowhere, and this is the first taste of that upcoming release. No word yet on a title or release date for the new album, so just let this one sit with you for a while.

OKIE27. Erin Enderlin – “Sweet Emmylou”
28. Vince Gill – “Nothin’ Like a Guy Clark Song”
How about a couple of songs that pay tribute to a couple of legends?

Erin Enderlin has been releasing a series of EP’s in 2019. Her latest includes this ode to the great Emmylou Harris, and features backing vocals from Alison Krauss and Vince Gill. This song is a sort of spiritual successor to Robbie Fulks’ “The Buck Starts Here” as the narrator turns to sad songs from her favorite artist to help her make it through the night.

Speaking of Vince Gill, his new album Okie came out a couple of weeks ago and includes this song in tribute to the late Guy Clark.

29. Eric Brace & Peter Cooper – “Ancient History”
This song is here because it mentions Donnie Fritts in its opening verse, and it came back into my mind after Fritts’ passing last week. An interesting bit of trivia about this song is that Eric Brace and Peter Cooper finished writing it in a Knoxville hotel room while they were in town for a gig a few years back. I know this because they played it live for the very first time during a studio visit with me at WDVX not long after they had finished it.

lean30. Donnie Fritts – “Prone to Lean”
31. Neal Casal – “Day in the Sun”
As much as I hate writing eulogies and obituaries in this space, it seems as though I’ve been doing an awful lot of it lately. Last week we said goodbye to Donnie Fritts and Neal Casal, two artists who made vital contributions through their careers even if their names may be unknown to casual music fans.

Fritts was a songwriter, a longtime band mate of Kris Kristofferson, and a key figure in the Muscle Shoals music scene of the 1960’s and 70’s. He passed away on Tuesday after a time of declining health at the age of 76.

Neal Casal was an in demand side man with an extensive solo catalog to go along with stints as member of The Cardinals, The Hard Working Americans, and The Chris Robinson Brotherhood among others. Casal was found dead Monday night after an apparent suicide at the age of 50.

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Weekly Playlist for 8/26/19: Beautifully Strange Edition

img_2501I got back in the saddle in the WDVX studio last week for the live edition of the Americana Pulse radio show. I gotta say it felt pretty good to be back on the air after a month or so away.

I love putting these playlists together every week, but there is something to be said for that rush of being live on the radio every week. Usually, about half of what I do on the radio side is planned out each week about the same way it is here.

The other half, though? That part is often real, live, seat-of-the-pants radio that often finds me still trying to pick out the next song with less than a minute left on the current tune.

That’s the part I miss when I’m not on the air.

OK. Let’s get to it.

First Aid Kit Photo 2 (jpg) 21. First Aid Kit – “Strange Beauty”
Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg from First Aid Kit were fans of The Silver Jews’ David Berman. Last week, in tribute to the late songwriter, First Aid Kit released a two song EP dedicated to Berman’s music and memory. This is an original tune the sisters wrote the day after his death. The second song is a Silver Jews cover that will show up at the end of this list.

2. Pieta Brown – “The Hard Way”
Pieta Brown’s new album Freeway is finalized and ready for release on September 20. Early versions of the record, however, did not include this track that Brown has now issued as a single in advance of the record. Brown says she was always a fan of the song, but felt something was missing. That’s when she reached out to her friend Mark Knopfler to see if he was interested in collaborating on the track. He was.

3. Tanya Tucker – “Mustang Ridge”
Tanya Tucker is a country music legend, and that is something that is not lost on Brandi Carlile. When Carlile was offered a chance to co-produce Tucker’s new album alongside Shooter Jennings, she jumped at the chance. The resulting album While I’m Living was released on Friday.

4. Corb Lund & Ian Tyson – “Ride On”
About a month ago, we told you about Corb Lund’s upcoming covers project and shared his take on Dr. Hook’s “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” with his friend Hayes Carll. This time, we’re sharing Lund’s collaboration with fellow Canadian Ian Tyson on AC/DC’s “Ride On” from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Lund’s Cover Your Tracks is due September 13.

11183_JKT5. Jesse Dayton – “Bankrobber”
Speaking of covers… Jesse Dayton’s new album is out now and finds Dayton tackling other artists songs as well. While Dayton also takes a run at an AC/DC classic (“Whole Lotta Rosie”) on Mixtape Volume 1, we’re sharing his version of The Clash’s “Bankrobber” as a way of also celebrating the late Joe Strummer’s birthday from last week.

6. Sturgill Simpson – “Sing Along”
Sturgill Simpson showed up on the stage at the San Diego Comic Con at the end of July and surprisingly announced that his next project would be a rock focused effort to serve as a companion piece to an Anime film called Sound & Fury he was producing for Netflix.

Yes. You read all of that correctly. Sound & Fury is due September 27.

Last week, Simpson released the first song from that project, alongside an accompanying music video which I’ll throw in here as well.

7. Allison Moorer – “The Rock & The Hill
While we’re on the subject of artists releasing new albums as companion pieces to other forms of media, let’s talk about the two projects announced by Allison Moorer last week. Moorer will release an album and a memoir in the same week at the end of October. Both projects are titled Blood and will deal with her childhood and the tragic murder-suicide of her parents.

moltutt8. Molly Tuttle – “Make My Mind Up”
We’re just a couple of weeks away from Molly Tuttle’s appearance in Oak Ridge at the WDVX Summer Sessions concert, and I promised to share a few more tracks from Tuttle’s new record before the September 14 concert. Here’s the title track from her latest.

9. Austin Plaine – “Lucky Ones”
Austin Plaine’s second album came out at the end of June, and I guess I could be accused of having slept on it when it was released. Regardless, I’m on board now, and I wish I could tell you that I was there from the beginning. This song features backing vocals from Soren Bryce, and is nearly perfect as a mid-tempo shuffling country love song.

10. Taylor Swift & The Dixie Chicks – “Soon You’ll Get Better”
Did you really think I’d let this week’s list go by without mentioning the return of The Dixie Chicks? The Chicks have been in the studio in recent months and have promised new music of their own at some point in the near future. Until then, a guest shot with one of the biggest pop stars on the planet will suffice. It is believed that Taylor Swift wrote this song about her mom’s recent battles with cancer.

ond2019 Americana Music Awards Duo/Group of the Year Nominees
11. I’m With Her – “Call My Name”
12. Our Native Daughters – “Black Myself”
13. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Signs, Hard Times”
14. The War & Treaty – “Healing Tide”
The Americana Music Awards will be handed out September 11 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the show, I’ll briefly handicap the major award categories. We start here with the Duo/Group of the Year nominees. This is a loaded category containing the super groups I’m With Her and Our Native Daughters, the veteran stars of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and the relative newcomers The War and Treaty.

Michael and Tanya Trotter of The War and Treaty may have won my vote for People of the Year through a couple of wonderful interactions I had with them last year, and I’m With Her and Tedeschi Trucks Band have the star power to take this one home. Only one of these groups, though, inspired a friend of mine to get a tattoo of the band’s logo.

If I had a vote, it would go to Our Native Daughters and their “Black Girl Banjo Magic.

yola2019 Americana Music Awards Emerging Artist of the Year nominees
15. Yola – Rock Me Gently
16. Jade Bird – “Does Anybody Know”
17. J.S. Ondara – “Torch Song”
18. Erin Rae – “Putting On Airs”
This is a similarly stacked category. Especially when you account for the fact that The War & Treaty have a second nomination here. Their competition includes a former Americana Music Association UK Artist the Year winner in Yola and another young British sensation in Jade Bird. Kenyan immigrant J.S. Ondara has also garnered a lot of critical praise. As has Nashville songwriter Erin Rae.

The edge here probably goes to Yola based on the fact that she’s also nominated for Album of the Year (more on that category next week) for her album Walk Through Fire. Even though this is essentially a category for “new” artists, I’ll remind you here that WDVX listeners first heard Yola (then Yola Carter) a couple of years ago when we were one of the only American radio stations spinning her debut EP following her AMA-UK win.

I also would not discount The War & Treaty and their two nominations or Jade Bird and her string of Top 10 Americana Radio singles. This is a deep category, as it seems to be nearly every year.

valjune19. Miss Tess – “Little Lola”
20. Valerie June – “Got Soul”
21. Steve Earle – “L.A. Freeway”
At this point of the list, you’re probably wondering what artists are headed to Knoxville to play some live music this week.

Well… Let’s start start with the country jazz stylings of Miss Tess on WDVX’s Tennessee Shines Wednesday night (8/28) at Boyd’s Jig & Reel downtown. That show will be broadcast live on WDVX at 7:00. Valerie June is also in town Wednesday night for a show at the Bijou Theatre.

One of this week’s coolest events will take place Friday night (8/30) at World’s Fair Park when Steve Earle & The Dukes come to town to play a benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank. The concert is part of Second Harvest’s Music Feeds series.

drew22. Drew Holcombe & The Neighbors with Lori McKenna – “You Want What You Can’t Have”
23. Sunny War – “Drugs Are Bad”
24. Jamie Lin Wilson – “Alice”
A brief roundup of some new releases here:

Drew Holcomb’s latest, Dragons, has been out for a couple of weeks now. This song features the fabulous Lori McKenna and is probably my favorite on the album.

When I mentioned Sunny War in this space a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea she was planning to release a new album last week. I was pleasantly surprised to see Shell of a Girl in my feed on Friday.

Jamie Lin Wilson released Jumping Over Rocks, her latest full length album around this time last year. “Alice” is a new stand-alone single from the Texas songwriter that debuted on line last week.

25. Sarah Jarosz – “Come On Up to the House”
When I thought I was preparing to do a full edition of Americana Pulse last week, I was looking at Sarah Jarosz’s debut as the Classic Album for the week. I can’t believe this album turned ten this year. I still remember writing about it on my old Fifty Cent Lighter blog when it was released. When the Americana Pulse radio show gets back to full strength, expect a deep dive on this one.

wsw26. Courtney Marie Andrews – “Downtown Train”
We just heard Sarah Jarosz pay tribute to Tom Waits from a decade ago. Now allow me to share Courtney Marie Andrews’ contribution to a newly announced Waits tribute project called Come On Up to the House: Women Sing Waits. Andrews is joined on the album by Patty Griffin, Aimee Mann, Phoebe Bridgers, Rosanne Cash, and Corrinne Bailey Rae just to name a few. Women Sing Waits will be available November 22.

27. Joseph Arthur – “Streetcar”
From trains to streetcars, we transition to Joseph Arthur’s first solo release since 2016. Arthur calls his upcoming album (October 11) Come Back World a record of “rebirth and survival” that comes after a period of personal darkness. Here’s hoping for bright days ahead for Arthur, who has been a favorite artist of mine for some time now.

monster28. R.E.M. – “Let Me In”
29. Purple Mountains – “Nights That Won’t Happen”
30. First Aid Kit – “Random Rules”
We started the list this week with a new song from First Aid Kit in tribute to the late David Berman from The Silver Jews and Purple Mountains. We go out this week with a triptych of songs dedicated to his memory as well.

Of course, there is the darkly prophetic “Nights That Won’t Happen” from Berman’s recently issued, self-titled Purple Mountains record. We also have the second of two songs from First Aid Kit on this week’s list… a cover The Silver Jews’ “Random Rules.”

Preceding both of those, however is a song R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe wrote over 20 years ago. Not about Berman, but about his friend Kurt Cobain. Cobain and Stipe had been planning a collaboration of some sort at the time of Cobain’s death in 1994. Tragically, that project never came to pass. We did, however, get this tribute from Stipe to his friend on R.E.M.’s 1994 album Monster.

Music history is littered with stories of musicians whose lives were cut short by their own hands… Berman and Cobain included. Nuci’s Space is an organization based out of R.E.M.’s hometown of Athens, Georgia that is dedicated to preventing suicide with a focus on aiding musicians with mental illness. Please check out or pass along their website if you or someone you know is in need of assistance.

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Weekly Playlist for 8/19/19: Highwomen, Healers, Freedom Riders, & Preachers Edition

img_2478Hey again, everybody.

The new baby hits the four week mark this Wednesday, and I’m thinking it might be time to get back in the WDVX studio and start doing some live Americana Pulse radio again. If everything goes well between now and than, that’s exactly where I’ll be this Wednesday night from 6-7 and again from 8-11 with a little live music in between from The East Tennessee Bluegrass Association from 7-8 on Tennessee Shines.

The six o’clock hour is when I try to share all the new tunes we’ve collected at the station during the week. The Americana Pulse kicks off in earnest at 8:00. That’s when I dive into our weekly Classic Album, throw out some theme sets, and keep bringing you more of those new tunes along with some old favorites. You’ll probably see a few of the songs I’ve been highlighting in these playlists pop up on the air each week, but I’m gonna try to make it worth your while to follow both.

Anyway… Enjoy this week’s collection of tunes, and I hope to see you on the radio on Wednesday.

Let’s get to it.

highwomen1. The Highwomen – “Highwomen”
Please, somebody tell me I don’t actually have to wait five more weeks to hear the rest of The Highwomen’s new record. This is the fourth song released from the album, and it does a brilliant job of re-working Jimmy Webb’s classic composition into a female fueled anthem that carries a bit more social relevance than the original ever did. Webb himself signed off on the new version and even helped co-write this one with Highwomen Brandi Carlile and Amanda Shires. A guest appearance from Yola as the Freedom Rider in the third verse is a definite highlight.

2. Karen & The Sorrows – “Guaranteed Broken Heart”
My first exposure to Karen & The Sorrows was through the 2017 album The Narrow Place. I fell pretty hard for the record, but my admiration for Karen Pittleman and her band only grew after reading a terrific article from Rachel Cholst on the Wide Open Country website about Brooklyn’s queer country scene and Pittleman’s place in it. This is the title track from the new Karen & The Sorrows record due October 18.

3. Sarah Jane Scouten – “Ballad of a Southern Midwife”
I feel like I discovered Sarah Jane Scouten at almost exactly the same time a couple of years ago that I stumbled on Karen & The Sorrows. And now, both artists are here releasing preview tracks for their upcoming albums in the same week. Scouten’s new album Confessions isn’t due until November, but this re-recording of a track she first released a decade ago serves as a fine preview of what is to come.

4. Lillie Mae – “At Least Three in this Room”
We’ve highlighted several songs from Lillie Mae’s new record in this space already. The difference between then and now is that the record officially released on Friday, and you can now track it down in all of its goodness for yourself.

wax5. David Wax Museum – “Uncover the Gold”
Charlottesville’s David Wax Museum are set to release their first album in four years on August 23. The lead single from that new record was written in the immediate aftermath of the white supremacist rally that shook their hometown in 2017. Bandmembers David Wax and Suz Slezak say the way members of their community responded to the tragedy proved to them that all darkness can reveal a little bit of light.

6. Andrew Combs – “Born without a Clue”
This is the third song I’ve featured from Andrew Combs’ upcoming (September 20) release Ideal Man. Combs says he wrote this particular song the day after Tom Petty died, and wanted to write straight from the heart as he believes Petty did. Combs also says the song is a reminder to himself and his young daughter to avoid the trap of striving to become who other people believe they should be instead of who they are.

7. Jade Bird – “Good at it”
8. Jade Jackson – “Bottle it Up”
My daughter’s two favorite albums of 2019 so far have both been made by women named Jade. I don’t know what the odds are on that particular feat happening in any given year, but I do know that these are both great records. Jade Bird’s self-titled release, especially, will show up in a fairly lofty spot on my list of best albums from this year.

rails9. The Rails – “Call Me When it All Goes Wrong”
Kami Thompson is the daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson.
James Walbourne has played guitar for The Pretenders and Son Volt.
Together, they have just released their third album as The Rails. On this lead single, you can definitely hear a bit of Son Volt in Walbourne’s licks… and a lot of Richard in the younger Thompson’s vocal phrasings. I’m not sure how this band has escaped my attentions until now, but I think I’m all in on this one. Listening to this record reminds me of hearing Whitehorse for the first time.

10. Dylan LeBlanc – “Bang Bang Bang”
Dylan LeBlanc’s Renegade came out back in June, but I wasn’t writing this blog back then, so I may as well share this one here now. I’ll also be honest for a moment and say that it took me a few weeks to listen to this record once it came out. Mostly, because I was the one person who was never fully on board with LeBlanc’s 2016 album Cautionary Tale. Consider me converted.

Me-and-the-Fool-2-Cover11. Robby Hecht – “Tell Me”
Robby Hecht is a former Knoxville artist who lives in Nashville these days. Hecht is releasing a series of two-song EP’s over the course of 2019 with each carrying the title Me and the Fool I’ve Been. The second release in the series came out on Friday, and three more are planned before the end of the year.

12. Caroline Spence – “Whiskey Watered Down”
The cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone boasts an article on the “Best New Artists of the Year.” One of those artists is Caroline Spence, and the honor is well deserved. Of course, if you listen to WDVX, Spence has been on your radar since around 2015 (Spence said earlier this year that WDVX was the first station to “add” her first record). This song from her first record is the one we started playing back then. It’s also the first song Spence says she felt comfortable playing around Nashville after moving there several years ago.

13. Chuck Mead – “My Baby’s Holding it Down”
I got a phone call from Chuck Mead last week. He was out west touring behind his new album Close to Home and was checking in to thank the station for spinning the record. Mead has been one of the top names in country and rockabilly music since his younger days with BR549. Decades later, Mead is still holding things down and making great music.

valley14. Charley Crockett – “Borrowed Time”
The latest song to hit our ears in advance of Charley Crockett’s upcoming album The Valley is a co-write with Evan Felker form the Turnpike Troubadours that features Brennen Leigh on backing vocals. When Crockett recorded the song in January, he did so not knowing if he would even see its release. One week after hitting the studio, Crockett underwent the first of two open heart surgeries to repair a faulty valve. These days, Crockett is back in good health and good spirits and ready to share his autobiographical new album on September 20.

15. Rodney Crowell with Vince Gill – “Caw Caw Blues”
Rodney Crowell’s new album, Texas, was released on Friday. I’ve talked about it before in this space and about its list of guest stars that includes Willie Nelson, Lee Ann Womack, Ringo Starr, Steve Earle, and Lyle Lovett among others. This track features Crowell’s old friend and Notorious Cherry Bombs band mate Vince Gill.

16. Danni Nichols & Butterfly Boucher – “A Little Redemption”
Danni Nichols is an artist I became familiar a couple of years ago after she was nominated for UK Album of the Year at the Americana Music Association UK Awards. I’ve loved Butterfly Boucher since the release of her 2004 debut Flutterby. I did not know, however, that this 2013 collaboration existed until it showed up randomly in one of my feeds this week.

rhudy17. Kate Rhudy – “I Don’t Like You or Your Band”
Kate Rhudy will hit the stage in Knoxville this week when she plays Friday night (8/23) at the Open Chord. Rhudy is a folk singer in the vein of Rachel Baiman or Vivian Leva who first hit the WDVX airwaves with her debut album Rock N’ Roll Ain’t for Me in 2017.

18. Che Apalache – “The Dreamer”
The most international act on the playlist this week is easily Che Apalache. This Latin flavored string band features members from Argentina, Mexico, and North Carolina. They understandably bring a few more sounds to the party than your typical bluegrass band. Oh yeah, did I mention that this record is produced by none other than Bela Fleck? Go check it out.

19. Carolina Chocolate Drops & Luminescent Orchestrii – “Escoutas (Diga Diga Diga)
Every so often, I find myself wondering just what members of the band Luminescent Orchestrii are up to these days. I used to make it a point to show up at the station any time this gypsy-folk outfit from New York city would play for us on the Blue Plate Special. Their sets were always high energy and a lot of fun. This 2011 collaboration with The Carolina Chocolate Drops adds Rhiannon Giddens to the mix, and the whole thing gets elevated a few extra notches.
mavis2
20. Rhiannon Giddens – “Moonshiner’s Daughter”
21. Mavis Staples – “High Note”
22. Elvis Costello – “Complicated Shadows”
23. Delbert McClinton – “Let’s Get Down Like We Used To”
24. Maria Muldaur – “I’m a Woman”
25. The Ditty Bops – “Bye Bye Love”

On Tuesday of last week, The Americana Music Association released the list of honorees for special and lifetime achievement awards at this year’s Americana Awards show taking place September 11 in Nashville. Let’s take a look at them.

Rhainnon Giddens had been previously announced as the first ever winner of the Legacy of Americana Award along with the late Frank Johnson. Johnson was an early African American band leader, and an artist whose influence Giddens has worked to highlight. This track comes from Giddens’ Grammy nominated 2015 EP Factory Girl.

Mavis Staples was previously honored with the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award in 2007. She’s being brought back to this year’s awards show to be celebrated on the occasion of her 80th birthday.

Mentons of Elvis Costello most likely brings to mind British rock and New Wave of the late 70’s and early 80’s, but a string of more roots related releases over the past decade or so is enough for Costello to become the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting. His 2009 album Secret, Profane, & Sugarcane was produced by T. Bone Burnett and featured appearances by Jim Lauderdale, Emmylou Harris, and Jerry Douglas among others.

delbert-albumSix decades on stage and on the road is enough to land Delbert McClinton this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance. When I interviewed McClinton a few years ago, he spoke to me about his love for the Ray Price song “Nightlife,” and how much he identified with the life lived in that song. It’s a lifestyle that after 60 years, should earn someone an award for their time spent on stage.

Maria Muldaur gets this year’s Trailblazer Award for a career that kicked off with the folk revival of the 60’s and wound though the worlds of gospel and blues along the way. Muldaur’s career record boasts a Top 10 hit in “Midnight at the Oasis” and collaborations with a long list of artists from Jim Kweskin to Dr. John to fellow honoree Mavis Staples.

Living as I do in East Tennessee, I could safely assume that most of my neighbors would support the awarding of this year’s Lifetime Achievement for Songwriting to Felice and Boudleaux Bryant based on the fact they wrote the ubiquitous UT anthem “Rocky Top.” Of course, the husband and wife pair wrote around 6.000 other songs in their career as well, including this Everly Brothers hit performed here by The Ditty Bops.

26. Bombadil – “Pillows & Prine”
When I hosted Bombadil on Tennessee Shines earlier this year, they included John Prine’s “I Have Met My Love Today” in their set. This track, the third to be released so far from their upcoming album Beautiful Country, is just another tribute to the master.

ivey27. Jeremy Ivey – “Diamonds Back to Coal”
You probably know Jeremy Ivey’s name already due mostly to the fact that you’ve read it in the liner notes to each of Margo Price’s first two albums. Ivey has several co-writing credits with Price and has played guitar, harmonica and bass on her recordings. He even co-produced All American Made. Now Ivey, who is also Price’s husband, is stepping out with his debut solo record due on September 13.

28. Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”
A few weeks ago, my wife turned me on to a podcast called Strong Songs. It’s one of those shows where the host does a deep dive into one particular song with special attention being given to things like chord structure and music theory. I listened to a recent episode on Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android,” which is a structurally complex song… and one of my top five favorites from Thom Yorke and company.

29. R.E.M. – “Leave”
This is the one song in the R.E.M. catalog that I feel most closely resembles “Paranoid Android.” Granted, it doesn’t have as many movements as the previous song, but it does break down into two very distinct segments and carries a bit of that same sprawling feel. This is another entry from New Adventures in Hi Fi.

30. The Highwaymen – “Highwayman”
Keep flying that star ship, Johnny.

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Weekly Playlist for 8/12/19: Silver Jews & Purple Mountains Edition

img_2455Some weeks are better than others. This week was one of the others.

This was the kind of week that had my daughter asking us to turn off the news because, “it only shows people getting killed.”

This was the kind of week that saw a generational songwriting voice return from a long absence… only to be tragically taken away one final time.

Of course, through it all, there is music. Music left behind by those who have gone. Music to help us process the hard times we experience. Music to help us forget the bad and shine a little bit of light on the good for a time. And… for this week in Knoxville, at least… live music to bring us together and tap into all of those elements en masse. This week’s playlist will try to tap into all all of those things as well.

We’ll start with a few songs of sadness up front before moving on to a few songs of joy and new music to help us look ahead. Also, the entire back third of the list this week is composed solely of artists who will be playing shows in Knoxville this week. That’s something to look forward to, for sure.

Let’s get to it.

DC Berman bw1. Silver Jews – “Horseleg Swastikas”
This is not where we were originally going to start things this week. That all changed on Wednesday, however, with the news of the passing of David Berman. Berman had re-entered the music world just a few weeks prior with the release of his new project Purple Mountains, but it was with his original band Silver Jews where he made his biggest mark.

I can’t claim to have been a big Silver Jews fan myself. I had some of their songs on my old iPod, but I didn’t really discover them until they were already gone from the scene. I guess I just never took the time to go deep on a band that was over before I found them. That was my mistake. I probably would have come across this song, that seems to be the one most often mentioned in Berman tributes this week, a lot sooner.

2. Mark Erelli, Anais Mitchell, Josh Ritter, Lori McKenna, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow – “By Degrees”
This is where we were originally going to start this week, with this Mark Erelli song that sadly never stops being relevant. Erelli has been singing this anti gun violence song in his live sets for a few years now and recorded this version with several friends last year as a fund raiser for Gabby Giffords’ gun violence prevention organization, Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun ViolenceYou can purchase the song and donate to the organization through the song’s website.

3. Mary Gauthier – “Mercy Now”
Sometimes we all just need to hear this one.

4. Shinyribs – “Got Sum”
How about some fun tunes to switch up the mood after those first few tracks? That’s where Kevin Russell comes in with this song from his latest release with his band Shinyribs. Y’all need to git you sum o’ dis.

lakest5. Lake Street Dive – “You Go Down Smooth”
A couple of weeks ago, my Facebook memories flooded me with a batch of pictures I took at a Lake Street Dive concert my wife and I attended while on vacation in Virginia in 2014. It was probably one of the most fun shows I’ve ever been to, and since fun is what we’re going for here in this stretch of the playlist…

6. Kelsey Waldon – “Sunday’s Children”
7. Jason Hawk Harris – “I’m Afraid”
Two new tracks here from a couple of upcoming releases that both kind of touch on the same lyrical theme of questioning organized religion. Both approach the topic from different angles, but arrive at similar conclusions. Both also contain a word that I can’t play on the radio, so I’m sharing them with you here.

Waldon’s White Noise/White Lines releases October 4. Harris’ Love & the Dark comes our way August 23.

brightdays8. Robert Randolph & The Family Band – “Simple Man”
As a bit of a rebuttal to the previous two songs, please allow Robert Randolph & The Family Band to nourish your soul here with their version of a Pops Staples gospel tune. Randolph plays the sacred steel guitar throughout the new album Brighter Days as he returns to the sounds of the church of his youth. Brighter Days comes out on August 23.

9. Bobby Rush – “Good Stuff”
Legendary blues man Bobby Rush’s new album, Sitting On Top of the Blues, comes out on Friday and features Bobby Rush simply being Bobby Rush. Here he is singing about a topic that he sings about more than just about anything else in his catalog.

SamanthaFish_Final10. Samantha Fish – “Kill or Be Kind”
11. The Devil Makes Three – “Wheels”
12. Bruce Cockburn – “Blind Willie”
13. Songs from the Road Band – “Waiting On  Ride”
Let’s move things along here with a four pack of new songs from upcoming releases.

First up is Samantha Fish with the title track from her September 20 release. It’s a Rounder label debut for the blues influenced songwriter.

I honestly don’t know much about this new Devil Makes Three release. The only article I could find on it is from a Dutch website. Google Translate leads me to believe this is possibly half of a seven-inch single available at DM3 live shows.

Canadian songwriting legend Bruce Cockburn will release his 34th(!) album on September 20. Crowing Ignites is a fully instrumental affair.

The new release from North Carolina based roots super group Songs from the Road Band is already available. This is the title track.

rbmorris14. R.B. Morris – “Red Sky”
R.B. Morris is one of Knoxville’s greatest artists. Full stop.

Morris is an accomplished songwriter and poet and also has credits as a playwright and actor on his resume. He was named Knoxville’s first ever Poet Laureate in 2016 and was inducted to the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame in 2009. This is the title track from a new album coming this fall.

15. Sunny War – “If it Wasn’t Broken”
Sunny War first came to my attention in 2018 with the release of her album With the Sun. My fandom was sealed when I witnessed an utterly charming set turned in by War at The City Winery in Nashville at Americanafest last year. This is the song that first pulled me in.

16. J.S. Ondara – “American Dream”
When he was a teenager growing up in Nairobi, J.S. Ondara lost a bet with a friend because he thought Axl Rose actually wrote “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” He discovered Bob Dylan after paying up on the bet, and from there, Ondara’s American Dream led him to Dylan’s home state of Minnesota where he released this debut album. Ondara is an Emerging Act of the Year nominee at next month’s Americana Music Awards.

img_246117. Valerie June – “Cosmic Dancer”
This is the second cover song from the classic age of rock & roll that Valerie June has released this year, with this version of T. Rex’s 1971 offering following her cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” in April. There currently don’t seem to be any plans for another full album release from June, but this string of well chosen covers are doing a nice job of filling in the gap.

18. Michaela Anne – “Somebody New”
We’re still well over a month away from the release of Michaela Anne’s new album (Desert Dove 9/27), and this is already the third song we’ve heard from the project. Each one has only heightened my anticipation for the full record.

19. R.E.M. – “Bittersweet Me”
This week’s R.E.M. track comes from what I feel is the most underrated record of their career. New Adventures in Hi-Fi was largely built around demos written and recorded during the tour to support their previous album Monster. It is one of my favorite albums from my favorite band.

pixies20. Pixies – “Catfish Kate”
We mentioned The Pixies a few times last week. I would not be doing my job, then, if I failed to bring you this brand new Pixies track that was actually released on Tuesday. Their new album Beneath the Eyrie comes out on September 13.

21. Lilly Hiatt – “Off Track”
From this point forward, every artist featured is an act that will be playing a show in Knoxville this week. Some are playing WDVX events, some are local acts who I’m excited to share with you all here, some are just shows I feel are worth highlighting. Lilly Hiatt can be found kicking off a tour Friday night (8/16) at The Open Chord in an event presented by WDVX.

22. John Paul White – “The Good Old Days”
This show Sunday (8/18) at the Open Chord is a make up gig for a show John Paul White had to cancel due to illness about a month ago. I’m glad White is getting to come back to town behind his new album The Hurting Kind. It’s a good one.

tones23. The Lonetones – “Here in the South”
Also Sunday night… Local favorites The Lonetones are playing in The Old City at Barley’s. Sean McCollough and Steph Gunnoe keep Appalachian folk at the center of their sound

24. Barstool Romeos – “Last Call for Heroes”
Mike McGill is one half of the Barstool Romeos along with Andy Pirkle. McGill also has a new self titled solo record out that he will be featuring when he appears on WDVX’s Tennessee Shines Wednesday night (8/14) with his backing band The Refills. I couldn’t find McGill’s solo work on Spotify, so here’s one from the Romeos to get you ready.

25. Blue Moon Rising – “It Doesn’t Matter Any More”
26. Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder – “How Mountain Girls Can Love”
WDVX’s latest installment of The Summer Sessions from Bissell Park in Oak Ridge takes place this Saturday (8/17). It’s gonna be one big ol’ night of bluegrass in the Secret City.

27. Chely Wright – “As Long as I’m Your Lover”
This is another track from Chely Wright’s new EP Revival. We shared the title track here a few weeks ago. Wright will be in town at The Open Chord Thursday night (8/15).

scott28. Scott McMahan – “Had to Let Her Go”
Make sure you get to the Lilly Hiatt show early on Friday to hear local songwriter Scott McMahan. McMahan is another veteran of the Knoxville scene with an easy soulful sound that should set you up well for a night with Hiatt afterwards.

29. Parker Millsap – “Other Arrangements”
Parker Millsap makes his first ever appearance at The Shed in Maryville on Saturday (8/17). The Shed is a cool outdoor venue just outside of Knoxville that is attached to a Harley-Davidson dealership. Often, their stage will host southern rock flavored acts or tribute acts dedicated to rock icons of the past. It’s also the best place around to catch folks like Ray Wylie Hubbard or James McMurtry when they come through town.

30. Travis Bigwood & The Lonesome Doves – “Paw’s Place”
Travis Bigwood has been pretty visible in Knoxville over the past few years. He’s played around town with everyone from Guy Marshall and Erick Baker to Roger Alan Wade. He’s also recently started stepping out with his own project, Travis Bigwood & The Lonesome Doves. The band’s debut EP is out now, and they play the WDVX Blue Plate Special on Wednesday (8/14).

PurpleMountains_PurpleMountains31. Purple Mountains – “I Loved Being My Mother’s Son”
This one is tough.

I mentioned at the start of the playlist that I had added the Silver Jews as a bonus track this week after news of David Berman’s passing came out on Wednesday. This song from Berman’s new project Purple Mountains was already in the mix this week, however, because Berman was scheduled to play in front of a sold-out crowd at The Pilot Light this Friday night.

This song is a tough one for me too. After sticking with his retirement from music for nearly a decade, Berman said recently that he was inspired to once again pick up a guitar due in part to the passing of his mother. She is a presence throughout the Purple Mountains record, but is especially present in this song. I lost my own mother unexpectedly this March, and while this isn’t the most engaging song on the new album, it’s the one I can’t seem to remove from my head.

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Weekly Playlist for 8/5/19: The Right in Time Edition

headerI’m still taking some time off from WDVX to spend more time at home with my family and my new son, but I’m also still trying to keep up with some of the new releases that keep flying our way every week. Lately it seems as though somebody drops a new song nearly every day.

It’s never easy to keep up with everything, but I do seem to have added an extra degree of difficulty here lately. You can only pay so much attention to that new track you’re playing in the background while you’re up by yourself at 2AM trying to coax a baby who has his days and nights slightly confused to finally give in to sleep for the night… or at least for the next three hours until he needs to be fed again.

What I’m trying to say is… I’m doing the best I can here folks. We’ll be keeping some of these entries short and sweet again this week.

Let’s get to it.

mcm1. Angie McMahon – “Keeping Time”
Angie McMahon is a young songwriter from Australia who has been in heavy rotation for me since the release of her new album Salt just over a week ago. I’ve also been hearing great things about her recent appearance at The Newport Folk Fest and enjoyed reading her brief account of a gig in Knoxville with The Pixies this spring. I mean… I would’ve liked to see that Pixies show anyway, but now I’m really sad I missed it.

2. Courtney Barnett – “Nameless, Faceless”
Let’s stay in Australia for this next tune as well with this 2018 track from Courtney Barnett. Here, Barnett has turned a Margaret Atwood quote into an empowering anthem aimed at lashing back at the male internet trolls who inspired the song. Want another Pixies reference this early in the list? Kim Deal can be heard on this track providing backing vocals.

gig3. Pixies – “Gigantic”
Honest talk. This song was not on the playlist when I started typing out this post, but I can’t mention The Pixies twice in the first two items and then not slip them in here. Here’s more Kim Deal for you, then. Consider this a bonus track this week.

4. Tyler Childers – “Country Squire”
If you want to know what the most anticipated release in the world of country and Americana music was last Friday, you needn’t look any further than the latest album from Tyler Childers. This is the title track from Childers’ follow up to his 2017 breakthrough Purgatory, and is a worthy successor for the young Eastern Kentucky artist. We can all argue over how the music Childers makes should be classified, but there is no denying where it, or he, comes from.

5. Chris Knight – “I’m William Callahan”
This is the first new music from Chris Knight in seven years. I’ve been hearing rumblings for a while now that Knight had something new on the way, and I’m very excited to know now that something is Almost Daylight due October 11. As good as this sounds, I am very anxiously awaiting the rest of this record.

safepassage6. John Calvin Abney – “Turn Again”
John Moreland.
Tim Easton.
Samantha Crain.
Beth Bombara.
Carter Sampson.

These are just a few of the artists you’ve heard John Calvin Abney supporting on record over the last few years. Abney also has a slew of records out under his own name with the latest being Safe Passage out September 27.

7. R.E.M. – “Fretless”
There aren’t many bands with as deep of a rarities and b-sides catalog as R.E.M. Out of all of them, this one is probably my favorite. The track originally appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Until the End of the World. It makes me feel fine.

8. Lucy Dacus – “Night Shift”
I’ve featured Lucy Dacus here before as part of the super group boygenius, but this is the song from her 2018 album Historian that pulled me into her sphere last year. I was told a story last week about how a “friend of a friend” may have played a part in helping Dacus find the inspiration to write this song. I love the way this one changes directions and builds power as it goes along.

9. The Highwomen – “The Chain”
The Highwomen recorded this Fleetwood Mac cover for the upcoming Melissa McCarthy/Tiffany Haddish/Elizabeth Moss movie The Kitchen. Parts of it showed up in a trailer for the film early last week, and the full track was released by Friday. This is just Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, & Amanda Shires having fun and laying down some amazing harmonies on a classic tune. My wife, who is the biggest Fleetwood fan I know, has given it her full approval.

aubrie-dragyoudown10. Aubrie Sellers – “Drag You Down”
Aubrie Sellers has a new album on the way… and you now know as much about it as I do. The title and release date of the project have not yet been released, but the first track from the project has. This is it.

11. Tegan and Sara – “I’ll Be Back Someday”
Big Tegan and Sara fan here. I’ll always check out new music from the Quin sisters, and I’ll always likewise find myself sufficiently rocked by it. Tegan and Sara’s new album Hey, I’m Just Like You comes out September 27. It will follow a memoir titled High School that will release just a few days earlier on the 24th.

12. Wagons – “Wake Up”
Henry Wagons takes us back to Australia here in the middle of the mix. With this new release Songs From the Aftermath set to release on August 9, Henry will also launch an Australian tour to celebrate 20 years of making music with the band that bears his surname.

front13. Front Country – “G.L.Y.P.”
Front Country will play in Knoxville Sunday night (8/10) at The Open Chord in a show presented by WDVX. This is a band using primarily  traditional instruments to produce anything but a traditional sound. This one brings a bit of a dreamy pop element into the mix.

14. Billy Strings – “Away from the Mire”
15. Spirit Family Reunion – “Would You Would, or Would You Wont”
16. Charlie Parr – “Jubilee”
I’ve told you in recent weeks about upcoming releases from Billy Strings (9/27) and Spirit Family Reunion (8/9). The latest tracks released from those projects are listed here along with the first track to surface from a new self-titled Charlie Parr project set to release on 9/27. Charlie suffered an accident following the release of 2017’s Dog, and had to completely relearn how to play the guitar. The results on this first track, “Jubilee,” seem rather joyous to say the least.

tuttle17. Molly Tuttle – “Light Came In (Power Went Out)”
Molly Tuttle is headlining the WDVX Summer Sessions show in Oak Ridge on September 14, and I would normally wait until then to highlight her here. Tuttle’s latest record When You’re Ready is so good, though, that I’ll likely be sprinkling in several songs from it between now and then.

18. Bonnie Bishop – “Every Happiness Under the Sun”
19. Trigger Hippy – “Don’t Wanna Bring You Down”
Both of these songs appeared late last week, and both seem to have sprung from similar laid back bluesy origins. Bonnie Bishop rewarded her fans earlier this year by releasing an EP of acoustic versions songs from earlier in her career. This is the first track from her newest studio offering, The Walk, due October 4.

Trigger Hippy are back after a five year absence with a new song from their upcoming album Full Circle & Then Some (October 11), and a new lineup to boot. This time around, Joan Osborne and Jackie Greene are replaced by Ed Jurdi from Band of Heathens and Amber Woodhouse from Luthi. They join original members Steve Gorman and Nick Govrik.

20. HAIM – “Summer Girl”
Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim burst on the scene in 2013 with a sound that was fully immersed in the synth laden pop sound of the 1980’s. With the release of their new single last week, though, the sisters find themselves moving into somewhat grittier territory with a bit of a nod to Lou Reed. For now, this appears to be a standalone single with no announcement yet of a new album in HAIM’s near future.

tribe21. A Tribe Called Quest – “Check the Rhime”
The Lou Reed comparisons with HAIM’s new track are obviously well deserved. For some reason though, that song also makes a lot of sense to me when placed next to some heavily jazz flavored hip-hop from the legendary A Tribe Called Quest. As always Q-Tip and Phife Dawg are on point here.

22. Sheryl Crow & Chris Stapleton – “Tell Me When It’s Over”
Sheryl Crow’s new album Threads finds the veteran songwriter collaborating with everyone from Chuck D to Emmylou Harris. Because I know how much he loved Tuesday Night Music Club back in high school, I can tell you Chris Stapleton was probably pretty thrilled to be a part of this collection.

gloria23. Gloria Gaynor & Mike Farris – “Man of Peace”
While we’re on the subject of collaboration, this next entry features disco queen Gloria Gaynor ripping it up with Mike Farris from Gaynor’s new album Testimony. The two give us their take on an old Bob Dylan tune that warns of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

24. Lillie Mae – “A Golden Year”
This is the third track from Lillie Mae’s upcoming album Other Girls to hit in advance of its release on August 16. Mae claims this particular song came to her as a bit of divine inspiration.

25. Ever More Nest – “So Low”
Ever More Nest is on the WDVX Blue Plate Special today (8/5) with Brian Paddock (more on him later). Ever More Nest is the current musical project of New Orleans songwriter Kelcy Mae Wilburn. According to the band’s website, this album was made after Wilburn experienced totality and met her spirit guide while traveling to Tennessee.

26. Aoife O’Donovan – “Red & White & Blue & Gold (Acoustic)”
A friend on twitter was asking last week for a list of songs with colors in the title for a project she was working on. This was the first one that came to mind. When I tried to send my friend a link to the original version that appeared on Aoife O’Donovan’s 2013 album Fossils, I noticed O’Donovan had just issued this acoustic reading back in June.

ana27. Ana Egge – “Hurt a Little”
28. Robbie Robertson & Van Morrison – “I Hear You Paint Houses”
29. Mike & The Moonpies – “You Look Good in Neon”
Let’s go rapid fire on some new releases here in the home stretch.

Ana Egge’s latest, Is it the Kiss, comes your way on September 6. The album is produced by Alec Spiegelman and features guest appearances from Iris DeMent and Buck Meek from Big Thief.

Robbie Robertson from the band will issue a new collection of songs called Sinematic on September 20. The songs are partly autobiographical and partly pulled from an upcoming Martin Scorsese movie Robertson scored.

Mike and the Moonpies left the Red Dirt of Texas and headed to the UK to record with The London Symphony Orchestra at Abby Road for their newest record. It’s out now, and you wanna get on this.

hounds30. The Royal Hounds – “Road Scholar”
I’ve been sitting on this new album from my buddy Scott Hinds’ band The Royal Hounds since May, and I’m very happy to say that it is finally now out in the world. The band is based in Nashville these days, but Hinds spent some time on the payroll at WDVX, and was a well liked member of the Knoxville music community before the move to Music City. If you love accelerator to the floor rockabilly tunes with an often slanted sense of humor, The Royal Hounds might just be the band you’re looking for.

31. Brian Paddock and The American Gentlemen- “Love is Weird”
Finally this week, Brian Paddock is another local favorite who will be sharing some songs on the WDVX Blue Plate Special today (8/5). Paddock set out on a solo career last year after several years fronting the band Shimmy & The Burns. This is Paddock’s second release in two years as a solo artist… his first in front of his new backing band, The American Gentlemen.

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Weekly Playlist for 7/29/19: Feed ’em, Change ’em Edition

c2Gonna try to be short and sweet this week. My wife and I welcomed our second child on Wednesday, and I kind of have matters other than this playlist that require my attention. So, that’s it. Not a lot of time for words, but I did still have a couple of late nights awake with the baby to listen to some new tunes, and pull a few old favorites into the mix.

Let’s get to it.

1. Tennessee Ernie Ford – “Feed ‘Em In the Morning Blues
When we brought our daughter home from the hospital nine years ago, Nita at WDVX played this song for us and dedicated it to her on our drive home. It’s been running through my head for the last few months.

2. Anne McCue – “Nobody’s Sleeping”
I know this song isn’t necessarily about that, but the title is wholly appropriate to the situation in our house this week. Portions of this playlist were assembled at around 5:00 AM Saturday morning before I ever closed my eyes for the first time. Families are fun.

3. Lydia Luce – “Azalea”
4. Hush Kids – “Color of Sadness”
The Hush Kids and Lydia Luce are playing together at The Open Chord in West Knoxville on Thursday (8/1). The Hush Kids is the current project from WDVX favorite and former everybodyfields member Jill Andrews.

hwomen5. The Highwomen – “Crowded Table”
The second track from the upcoming self titled release from this all-woman super group hit the world just in time for their appearance at The Newport Folk Festival over the weekend. Look for some of the videos of their performances if you can. Including the ones that feature Dolly Parton.

6. Andrew Combs – “Save Somebody Else”
Another new track from Andew’s new album that is due September 20.

7. The Steel Wheels – “Rains Come”
I got an email from Trent Wagler last week thanking us for playing The Steel Wheels’ new album at WDVX. He didn’t have to do that, though. We’ve been big fans of this band for a while now.

8. Wild Ponies – “Love is Not a Sin”
Doug and Telisha Williams of the Wild Ponies are two of my favorite people in music. If I weren’t out on paternity leave, I’d probably have asked to host their appearance on WDVX’s Tennessee Shines on Wednesday (7/31).

jim-cuddy-countrywide9. Jim Cuddy – “Countrywide Soul”
Jim Cuddy recorded his new album in his barn with his friends. The record mostly features re-recorded versions of songs from his solo catalog and his work with Blue Rodeo.

10. Sam Outlaw & Sarah Darling – “Forever and Always”
Sam Outlaw already released a new EP back in May, and he just followed it up last week with this new single. He’s also been invited back to the Grand Ole Opry in August to perform this song live with his duet partner Sarah Darling.

11. Dori Freeman – “That’s How I Feel”
I got a link to listen to Dori Freeman’s new album in my email a few weeks ago. Trust me when I say you’ll want to hear it for yourself when it comes out September 27.

yola12. Yola – “Faraway Look”
I mentioned last week that I had been watching the new season of Veronica Mars on Hulu with my wife while I was working on that week’s playlist. The final scene of the final episode was scored by this soaring track from Yola’s latest album.

13. Sturgill Simpson – “All Around You”
Sturgill Simpson surprisingly took the stage at the San Diego Comic Con last week to announce that he will release a new album this fall that will also double as the soundtrack for an anime movie for Netflix. Simpson calls his new album a, “sleazy, steamy rock & roll record.”

14. Charley Crockett – “How Low Can You Go”
Charley Crockett released two new records in 2018, and now looks to keep his creative spurt going with another release here in 2019. The Valley & Other Biographical Tunes comes out September 20.

amyw15. Amy Winehouse – “You Know I’m No Good”
Last week marked the anniversary of the passing of Amy Winehouse. One of my favorite things about walking around London a couple of years ago was wandering through Winehouse’s old haunts in Camden and finding the many many tributes to her on the streets, in the shops, and along the canals.

16. Alison Krauss – “Forget About it”
On a lighter note, Alison Krauss celebrated a birthday last week. Here’s hoping one of the all-time greats had a happy one.

17. Andrew Bird – “Fitz and the Dizzyspells”
The first time I actually left the hospital after our son was born in the wee hours of Wednesday morning was for a dinner run later that evening. This song was playing in the Jersey Mike’s just off of the University of Tennessee campus. I may have been singing along while I was waiting for my Philly steak.

gypsy18. Eilen Jewell – “79 Cents (The Meow Song)”
19. Margo Price – “Pay Gap”
Eilen Jewell’s new album is out in August, and “79 Cents” is the second song to be released from the project. It is certainly the one song on the record that is most tied into current events. Thematically, it slots in quite nicely next to this Margo Price song from 2017.

20. Catherine MacLellan – “Roll With the Wind”
Canadian song writer Catherine MacLellan focused on the music of her father (Gene MacLellan) on her last record. This time around, she’s back with Coyote, her sixth album of original material and seventh overall.

21. Paul Cauthen – “Holy Ghost Father”
This is the second track to be released thus far from Paul Cauthen’s upcoming album. Bonus points to Cauthen for having the first song be about cocaine and the second be about the Holy Ghost. Extra bonus points for referencing Cadillacs in each.

Bobbie-Gentry-Ode-to-Billie-Joe-album-cover-web-optimised-82022. Bobbie Gentry – “Mississippi Delta”
The reclusive Bobbie Gentry shares a birthday with my first born child. Both celebrated on Saturday.

23. R.E.M. – “So. Central Rain”
Speaking of my first born… She recently started making her own playlist for us to listen to when I drive her to school in the mornings next month. It’s mostly full of her favorites from Jade Bird to Kelly Clarkson, but she also put a few R.E.M. songs in the mix because she said I should have some of my favorites too. This one is on it.

24. Kacy & Clayton – “The Forty-Ninth Parallel”
25. Marc Cohn & Blind Boys of Alabama – “Work to Do”
26. Pieta Brown – “Morning Fire”
More new releases on the way.

Kacey & Clayton’s Carrying On hits October 4.

Marc Cohn & the Blind Boys of Alabama have a new album combining studio and live material shipping on August 9.

Pieta Brown’s Freeway is due September 20.

LoriMcKenna_ReturnToBittertown_3000x3000+(1) (1)27. Aaron Lee Tasjan – “Heart Slows Down”
28. Lori McKenna – “Stealing Kisses”
29. Robbie Fulks – “Every Kind of Music but Country”

Time for some re-issues now.

First up is Aaron Lee Tasjan who has re-recorded his 2018 album Karma for Cheap in a more stripped down acoustic fashion and dubbed the new project Karma for Cheap Reincarnated. It’ll come our way on August 30.

Lori McKenna’s classic Bittertown album is also getting an update for its 15th anniversary with the Return to Bittertown edition. “Stealing Kisses” is one of two songs that McKenna re-recorded for the anniversary project… and probably one of top five favorite McKenna tunes.

Robbie Fulks’ debut Country Love Songs just got a fancy vinyl pressing from Bloodshot. It’s the first time the album has been available in this format.

30. Loretta Lynn – “One’s on the Way”
Nope. Not happening.

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