Monday, April 25, 2016

Clay Walker Announces Seventh Annual Chords of Hope Benefit Concert

Clay Walker Announces Seventh Annual
Chords of Hope Benefit Concert

Taking Place Wednesday, June 8th at
Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 25, 2016) --Country music chart-topper Clay Walker announced today that he will be hosting the seventh annual Chords of Hope Benefit Concert at 3rd & Lindsley during Nashville’s CMA Fest on Wednesday, June 8th.The concert, sponsored by TEVA and Pinnacle Financial Partners, will help raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis (MS) research with proceeds going to the MS Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Clay’s charity, Band Against MS (BAMS). Doors open at 6:00 PM and tickets are now available HERE.

Chords of Hope just keeps getting better and better every year,” said Clay. “With the help of the country music community, Chords of Hope is my chance to raise awareness of MS in the Nashville area and come together with amazing artists to put on a great show.”

The benefit continues to sell out year after year and in the past has brought along special guests including Montgomery Gentry, Dustin Lynch, Craig Campbell, Greg Bates and more. Additional performers for Chords of Hope 2016 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Band Against MS, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3), or not-for-profit, public charity committed to providing educational information for those living with Multiple Sclerosis, funding programs researching a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, and funding programs helping those living with the disease. Clay Walker established BAMS in February 2003 because he wanted to help others living with the same disease he has battled since 1996. To date, BAMS,, has raised more than 3.5 million dollars.

  For ticket information, please visit or call (615-259-9891).



Her Largest North American Tour in 25 Years Kicks Off June 3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 25, 2016) – Coming off the heels of a headline-making performance at the ACM Awards in early April, Dolly Parton is heading out on her largest North American tour in over two decades. Tickets are selling fast for the first leg of the Pure & Simple Tour, which will be a total of 16 dates. (See first 14 announced in tour schedule below)

Dolly Parton’s Pure & Simple Tour coincides with the summer release of her double-disc album Pure & Simple with Dolly’s Biggest Hits. The collection will include some of Parton’s most popular singles as well as a few new tracks. Parton’s set list will include the hits her fans love along with a few new songs from the double-disc album. She will also be playing songs that have not been heard live for decades.

Additional U.S. dates for Parton's 2016 historic tour will be announced soon, which includes her first trek into Canada in more than two decades. For the last 20 years, Parton has only played select dates in the U.S., but her 2016 tour will cover cities across North America.

The entertainment icon is on one of the biggest hot streaks of her career after her hugely successful TV movie, “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors,” attracted a network record of more than 15.8 million viewers. It was the most watched movie on network TV in more than three years and will be released on DVD May 3.

June 03 Greensboro Coliseum - Greensboro, N.C.
June 04 Infinite Energy Center - Duluth, Ga.
June 07 Charleston Civic Center - Charleston, W.Va.
June 08 Wolf Trap - Vienna, Va.
June 10 Hard Rock - Northfield, Ohio
June 11 Horseshoe Casino - Cincinnati, Ohio
June 12 Artpark - Lewiston, N.Y.
June 15 Mann Center - Philadelphia, Penn.
June 17 Tanglewood - Lenox, Mass. | VIP
June 18 Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion - Bangor, Maine
June 22 Mohegan Sun Arena - Wilkes Barre, Penn.
June 25 Forest Hills Stadium - Forest Hills, N.Y.
June 26 PNC Bank Arts Center - Holmdel, N.J.
June 28 Consol Energy Center - Pittsburgh, Penn.

Kris Kristofferson celebrates 80th birthday

Kris Kristofferson celebrates 80th birthday with the release of
The Cedar Creek Sessions
Recorded live June 23, 24 and 25, 2014 at Cedar Creek Recording in Austin, Texas.
Produced by Tamara Saviano and Shawn Camp
Street Date June 17, 2016

In June 2014, legendary songwriter Kris Kristofferson hosted a three-day impromptu jam session at Cedar Creek Recording in Austin, Texas. It had been a while since Kris had recorded and here was a chance to lay down some of his favorite compositions with a live band. With Shawn Camp on lead guitar, Kevin Smith on bass, Michael Ramos on keyboard, and Mike Meadows on drums, the group ran through twenty-five of Kristofferson’s best-loved songs. On the final day, Kris’s dear friend Sheryl Crow came in to sing a duet of “The Loving Gift,” a song made famous by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash that Kris had never recorded.
Two years later, Kristofferson will release The Cedar Creek Sessions just days before his 80th birthday, June 22, 2016. 
At eighty years old, few songwriters can look back and see that they have transformed an entire American musical art form. In a single line, Kristofferson turned modern music into viable contemporary literature: “Freedom’s just another word,” he wrote, “for nothing left to lose.” For years, those words from his song “Me and Bobby McGee” served as the hippie generation’s most resonant mantra. Today, songwriters from Belfast to Belleville replay the classic when seeking inspiration. Kristofferson’s first recording of the song as a demo, while working as a janitor at Columbia Records in 1968, signaled only the beginning of his lasting contributions to the creative arts.
As his most famous lyric suggests, Kristofferson has lived a Renaissance man’s life. The Brownsville, Texas native served as an Army Ranger and helicopter pilot as a young man. He earned early prestige as a Rhodes Scholar who won an Atlantic Monthly short story competition. Fans know that Kristofferson fought as a Golden Glove boxer. Of course, many simply know him as a movie star (Cisco Pike, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Heaven’s Gate, Blade and more than 50 others). Kristofferson solidified marquee status in a blink when Barbra Streisand cast him in her hit remake of A Star Is Born (1976). For nearly four decades since then, he’s defined diversity as an actor with roles in films as varied as Songwriter (1984), Big Top Pee-wee (1988), Paper Hearts (1993), Lone Star (1996) the critically acclaimed Fast Food Nation (2006), and the hit family story Dolphin Tale (2011, 2014).
A Star Is Born made Kristofferson a sex symbol, but he had more substantial plans from Day One. “I always felt that I was going to be some kind of writer,” he told The Guardian in 2010. For more than four decades, Kristofferson’s deep-browed craftsmanship has had broad influence on peers and followers. “There’s no better songwriter alive than Kris Kristofferson,” legendary country songwriter Willie Nelson told the Associated Press in 2009. “Everything he writes is a standard, and we’re just going to have to live with that.”
As a key figure in the 1970s Outlaw Country movement, Kristofferson’s early albums Kristofferson (1970) and The Silver Tongued Devil (1971) immediately established him as a top-tier songwriter whose tunes were recorded by Johnny Cash (“Sunday Morning Coming Down”), Janis Joplin (“Me and Bobby McGee”), Ray Price (“For the Good Times”), Sammi Smith (“Help Me Make It Through the Night”) and several other prominent artists. Plainspoken poetry forever unites him with kindred spirits such as Cash, Merle Haggard and Nelson who stood head and shoulders above others as progressive musicians.
As music critic Peter Cooper wrote in the liner notes to The Pilgrim (2006), a Kristofferson tribute album released upon the songwriter’s 70th birthday, in his hands “Nashville-based country songs became literate, layered and respectable.” Consider Kristofferson’s daring “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” “Take the ribbon from your hair, shake it loose and let it fall,” Kristofferson sang. “Laying soft upon my skin like shadows on the wall.” Few writers as fluidly convey human kinetics.
“Forty years ago, Kris single-handedly changed the way people write songs,” Don Was, who produced several Kristofferson albums, told the Austin American-Statesman in 2009. “He combined the simplicity and directness of Hank Williams with the emotional intelligence of a Rhodes Scholar. There isn’t a songwriter out there today who hasn’t been influenced by Kris. He’s a giant.”
By nature an outsider, Kristofferson frequently centers lyrical themes on better days for the down-and-out (“Shipwrecked in the Eighties”) and disenfranchised (“Sandinista”). In fact, he consistently has addressed social, political, cultural and personal issues largely taboo in country music at the time that he began writing professionally. That pioneering approach came at a price. For a time, Kristofferson was persona non grata in the music world for exploring political concerns in albums such as Repossessed (1986), which addressed widespread tragedy (“They Killed Him,” “Anthem ’84”) and turmoil specifically in that era’s war in El Salvador (“What About Me”).
As those songs show, Kristofferson speaks his mind. He always has, always will. His concern isn’t popular opinion – or who agrees with his. He seeks truths. He listens. He asks difficult questions. His album Third World Warrior (1990), which includes his song “The Eagle and the Bear,” alone proves that. “And I'll say until the day we free Mandela,” he wrote, “all the world will be in chains.” He later declared support for Nicaraguan rebels. “[Kris Kristofferson] and Jackson Browne were out there talking all of the shit in the 1980s when the US was behaving really badly all over the Southern Hemisphere,” renegade songwriter Steve Earle recalls. “I admired that.”
Kris Kristofferson has been recognized several times for dedication to human rights activism through songwriting. In 2002, he received the American Veteran Awards Veteran of the Year award. The First Amendment Center and The Americana Music Association honored his contributions with the “Freedom of Americana Free Speech Award” in 2003. Kristofferson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004, the Songwriter Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2006. Additionally, BMI honored him with their Icon Award in 2009. He received the Frances Preston Music Industry Award from the T.J. Martell Foundation in 2012. In 2014, Kristofferson was honored with a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and the PEN Song Lyrics of Literacy Excellence Award.
Kristofferson realized a personal highlight while anchoring the Highwaymen, an all-star collective with fellow Outlaw Country legends Cash, Waylon Jennings and Nelson, throughout the 1980s. Many would have hung their hat after that run. Instead, Kristofferson barely has paused for breath since. He’s released several recent high watermarks including the increasingly intimate A Moment of Forever (1995), The Austin Sessions (1999) and This Old Road (2006), and he produced some of his finest work with the deeply personal Closer to the Bone (2009) and Feeling Mortal (2013). Now, at eighty years old, Kristofferson tours worldwide as a solo and acoustic troubadour, supplying singer-songwriters worldwide with a role model for legitimacy and longevity.
The Cedar Creek Sessions collection is a snapshot of the legendary songwriter in the twilight of his life.

Track Listing:
Volume One
1. Duvalier’s Dream
2. The Loving Gift (with special guest Sheryl Crow)
3. The Sabre and the Rose
4. The Law is for the Protection of the People
5. It No Longer Matters What I Do
6. Stagger Mountain Tragedy
7. The Wife You Save
8. Lay Me Down and Love the World Away
9. The Bigger the Fool (The Harder the Fall)
10. Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down
11. Spooky Lady’s Revenge
12. Forever In Your Love
13. Winter

Volume Two
1. Darby’s Castle
2. Me and Bobby McGee
3. Broken Freedom Song
4. Casey’s Last Ride
5. Billy Dee
6. Easter Island
7. For the Good Times
8. Help Me Make It Through the Night
9. Jody and the Kid
10. Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)
11. Risky Business
12. To Beat the Devil



Tickets For the Panama City Beach Concert
Go On Sale Friday, April 29

NASHVILLE, TN - Apr. 25, 2016 - Dierks Bentley announced plans today to celebrate Memorial Day (5/30) with a concert on the beach, inspired by the scorching lead single from his upcoming studio album BLACK (Capitol Records Nashville), out May 27.  Bentley’s "Somewhere On A Beach Bash” will hit Panama City Beach, FL’s famed hangout Spinnaker Beach Bar as Bentley's fanclub members and Citi card members will have first access to presale tickets on Tuesday (4/26) at 10:00A CT through Thursday (4/28) at 10:00P CST at General public tickets are available this Friday (4/29) at 10:00A CT. Citi is the official credit card of the event.

“Memorial Day is the official kick off to summer, and this will be a great way to celebrate the current single and the new album,” said Bentley. “We’ll pack as many people on the beach as we can…probably need to start icing the beer down now!”
Fans across the country have already propelled "Somewhere On A Beach” into the Top 5 on the Billboard Country Airplay, Mediabase and Country Digital Songs charts, making it the fastest rising single of Bentley’s career. The relationship rebound track also notched the No. One spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.   

The country superstar will set sail on his 2016 SOMEWHERE ON A BEACH TOUR with Randy Houser, Cam and Tucker Beathard beginning May 12 in Holmdel, NJ.

Country Music News International Newsletter April 25. 2016

Country Music News International Newsletter April 25. 2016

Here is your Country Music News of the day from Country Music News International Magazine . Your Country Music News is supported by Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tennessee Tourism, Scott Brantley, Eileen Carey, Coreopsis Publications LLC, ASTRA DOLPHIN, Deborah Henriksson, Daniel Morgan, FLORENCE TRAUTMAN

You can publish the Newsletter to your websites or forward to your friends. If you want to publish some of the interviews, please contact me.

Country Music News:

Ray Scott, Sara Beth, Sherry Lynn, Stephanie Grace on Country Music News International Radio Show interviewed by Christian Lamitschka – April 25. 2016

Tracy Lawrence, The Lacs, Steve Richard on Country Music News International Radio Show interviewed by Christian Lamitschka – April 27. + 28. + 29. + May 1. + 2. 2016

The Swon Brothers Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International

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The Swon Brothers Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International

The Swon Brothers Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International


Riverina Girl
Riverina Girl - Here I Am - Murrumbridgee Dreaming - Lord, It's So Good -I've Been Set Free - Grandma's Love - Desert Song - The Answer To My Prayer - Across The Border - Then The Waters Came - Jesus Came And Touched Me - Here's My Life
I've had the pleasure of reviewing the musical works of Rose Alexander before.  She's quite an amazing woman.  All of the music she writes is incredibly pleasant to listen too.  Much of what she writes is also very gospel oriented, but from a different kind of approach.  She has a lovely and beautiful voice to listen to, and her road in music has been interesting to say the least.  She has a very sensitive heart devoted to abused and discriminated women of the world. She writes about this, but she doesn't have a dominating 'will,' she simply has a wonderful talent of writing words in songs that are incredibly meaningful, and she has a lovely voice to authenticate that. A great deal of her work deals with Project Hannah, a ministry of Trans World Radio which reaches the very women Rose sings about.  She is also very dedicated and busy with bringing Jesus to prisoners while they are 'inside' and when they are 'out' encouraging them to be transformed from the inside out.  Prisoners are people according to Rose, and these people have moved away from God, or in some cases never been near Him.  "With an increase in prison numbers, it is easy for us to dehumanize prisoners. The importance of recognizing that prisoners are people - fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives - people who are separated from their families or never had a family.  They are people who have made wrong choices - which any of us could make - and are punished according to the law, through a system of retributive justice."  You can hear this 'reaching hand' throughout Rose's writing, and it is enhanced when she sings the words she writes. I'm sure her life is full of unexpected curves and turns, but she stays true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in doing that she makes 'new' people from the 'old' and at the same time brings many souls to the feet of Jesus.  Rose makes her home in Queensland, Australia, and she has never wavered in reaching out to those in need, sometimes in strange circumstances.  I like her musical backing, a delightful mix of good musicians.  I especially like the Australian sounding accordion when it appears. She describes herself as a Country Gospel and Bush Ballad singer/songwriter.  Enough said, she's a woman of the earth.  Off this CD goes to the Rural Roots Music Commission.  I hope they hear what I hear when I listen to this marvelous woman.
for Country Music News International

CD: GARY GALE - Jammin' With Friends


Jammin' With Friends
Easterner - Seashores of Old Mexico - Hello Mr. Moose I'm Calling You - Paper Rosie - Bold O'Donahue - Old Love Letters - No Price Tags on the Doors of Newfoundland - My Son Calls Another Man Daddy - Why Don't You Love Me - Elizabeth's Waltz - Saltwater Joy - Kelly's Mountain - Will You Love Me When I'm Old - Music Takes Me Back - Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On - Confederation - Blackboard Of My Heart - Wildwood Flower
Up in Canada there is this guy who still believes country music should be 'country.'  He invited a huge number of his music making friends to participate in the making of a CD of some popular country songs in Canada.  This is a project I wish I would have done as I traveled through life meeting and working with some incredibly gifted music makers.  BUT, Gary Gale who did manage to do this with his music friends is also exceptional, he plays the accordion.  Wow, does he play the accordion.  That's the way music kind of works.  If there is an exceptional talent involved in music making, that talent seems to bring the best out of those participating.  Gary invited a lot of guest players for this session: Merle Blaine, Bern Blanchard, Luke Cox, Wilf Doyle Jr., Keith Fitzgerald, Tom Harris, Tim Kennedy, Gerald Lush, Jerry Lush, Ivan Lythe, Ivan Martin, Larry Nash, Clyde Osmond, Roy Payne, and Don McCowan.  It's a very nice 'traditional' Canadian touch with lead and rhythm guitars, bass, drums, pedal steel, and Gary on accordion.  Highly unlikely you would hear this terrific 'old-time' country music sound in Nashville these days, but here it is from north of the border, just like it used to be, and extremely well done.  I'm not sure what part of Canada Gary is from, but his record company is in Toronto, so I suspect he's from somewhere near there.  There are some exceptional songs here, "Why Don't You Love Me" is super good, as is Gary's own "Elizabeth's Waltz" played so well on the accordion.  With so many additional artists adding all of their own personal preferences, I'm very pleased to see the accordion leading the way in how a song will be recorded.  Even "Wildwood Flower" a typical guitar lead song, does indeed start that way, but Gary has this magic touch with the accordion, and even on this old song he makes it 'new' again.  What a delight to hear these delicious songs again, and enjoy the taste of the 'freedom' that was so predominate in the older way of writing, playing, and recording music.  Today, unfortunately, country music is a bought and paid for product that is done according to money interests rather than music interests.  Gary Gale stands very strongly against that foolish situation, and he sure does it well.  I'm definitely forwarding this CD to the Rural Roots Music Commission to see what they think.
for Country Music News International 

Final Set Of Historic East Tennessee Collection

Final Set Of Historic East Tennessee Collection

With The Knoxville Sessions (1929-1930), Bear Family Records completes the map of commercial recordings that took place in East Tennessee during the years 1927-1930.

This four cd set, together with hardcover book, follows on from the recordings made in Bristol (1927-1928), regarded as “the Big Bang of Country Music” as these sessions launched the careers of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family on Victor Records, and Johnson City (1928-1929) which focused on Columbia Records’ similar search for country music musicians.

The Knoxville Sessions, 1929-1930: Knox County Stomp
(Bear Family BCD 16097)

Unlike the legendary Bristol recordings and, to a lesser extent, the Johnson City sessions, the Knoxville recordings made for Brunswick-Vocalion remain virtually unknown outside of the city in which they took place, yet have a greater musical diversity than the other two locations.

Whereas the recordings made in the former locations consisted almost exclusively of old-time country and gospel music, the Knoxville sessions captured a more varied collection of Appalachian voices and sounds. Although there were many strains of “hillbilly music” (from stringband instrumentals to fiddle and banjo tunes, from Jimmie Rodgers style yodels to white gospel) there were also several other genres – including dance music, blues, black stringbands and black gospel – unrepresented in the previous collections.

African-American musicians are prominent in the collection, a situation that relates back to post Civil War days when many blacks relocated in Knoxville and their music mixed with that of the whites, each contributing to the other’s stylistic approaches and repertoires, writes Appalachia historian Ted Olson in the opening chapter of the set’s accompanying book. Yet, almost contradicting this coming together of cultures, Knoxville in the early decades of the 1900’s was an extremely puritanical city with racism reigning, low alcohol content in beer and many pleasures forbidden on a Sunday.

Nevertheless Knoxville was recognized for its thriving music scene and among the people who helped build the interest was local businessman Cas Walker who, 1929, launched “Farm And Home Hour”, a variety show on WROL-Am radio, which in its long-running existence presented a who’s who of musical talent in the region. The show first gave exposure to such diverse artists as Roy Acuff and Howard Armstrong and, in the 1950s, with expansion to television, the public were introduced to Dolly Parton and the Everly Brothers. More post WW2 talent were introduced on another show: “The Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round” was aired on WNOX and emcee Lowell Blanchard helped launch the careers of such as Chet atkins, Archie Campbell and Don Gibson.

After Olson’s history of Knoxville, from pre-18th century to present day, and its musical contributors, Britain’s Tony Russell – one of the foremost authorities on vintage country music recordings – provides an equally informative chapter on the background to the city’s recording sessions. Such field expeditions were nothing new to the record labels who wanted to stock their catalogues with “old time” and “race” material, with the first taking polace in June 1923 when Okeh Records sent a team to Alabama to record Fiddlin’ John Carson.

The Knoxville sessions came about when Jack Kapp, newly appointed head of the Vocalion record division of Brunswick-Balke-Collender, sent his team to the city after studying a survey revealing Southern and Midwestern demand for “hillbilly” and “race” recordings. His plan was then to separate the recordings in individual genres and distributed through regional jobbers, with the Sterchi Bros furniture company in Knoxville (an association that stretched back to 1924) being one of the most important outlets. Working on the phonograph and radio side of the company was Gustav Nennstiel, who first started to recommend musicians for recording, then opened his own record store – Gus’s Phonograph & Radio Shop – in December 19276.

The Vocalion-Sterchi connection was also a contributing factor was choosing Knoxville for the two recording sessions that took place at the St. James Hotel, the first August 27 – September 1, 1929 and the second, March 28 – April 8, 1930. Unlike the Bristol and Johnson City recordings, which attracted musicians from widespread areas, most of those who recorded during the Knoxville sessions were more locally based: around eighteen of the twenty one acts were from East Tennessee and at least a dozen came from Knoxville itself.

Completing the background to the sessions, there’s biographical information on Richard Voynow and Bill Brown, both involved in the recordings, and the latter also occasionally taking part in them, and blind singer/guitarist George Reneau, the first Knoxville musician to put his music on record, forty eight sides for Vocalion, five years before the St. James Hotel sessions.

The first to record were the Tennessee Ramblers, a trio comprising William “Fiddlin’ Bill” Sievers, his son Mack and daughter Willie, exponents of old time music who were occasionally joined by a cousin, Walter Raymond McKinney. Comprising a set of old time and Hawaiian style music, the group was subsequently approached with a deal from Columbia Records but, due to contractual obligations with Brunswick, were unable to follow up. Another group with much recording and performing experience followed: Southern Moonlight Entertainers, headed up by fiddler George Rainey with several family members in the lineup, recorded eight numbers in quick succession, testifying to the group’s professionalism. Another family group, performing old time and gospel group were Ridgel’s Fountain Citians and two sides each from Riuth Pippin & Thelma Davenport (not released) and the Wise String Orchestra completed the first day’s session.

One of the most mysterious figures in African American music, Will Bennett, was one of musicians/bands who recorded the following day (August 28), though only he – and two others (guitarist Haskell Wolfenbarger and religious singer Leola Manning) - actually saw their recordings released. Bennett’s Railroad Bill, also recorded by several white acts, was based on a true story of a murderous black railroad robber.

Ballard Cross recorded six songs over two sessions, the first being devoted to novelties and, among the second, a couple of what became well known titles (Lorrianna and Wabash Cannonball). Among others recording on August 31 The string band Cal Davenport & His Gang was another local act, in fact heard regularly on WNOX, while the black Senior Chapel Quartette and the white Euclid Quartette devoted session time to record sacred material. Popular dance attraction Maynaird Baird & His Southern Serenaders were, according to a flyer, “a gang of musical clowns that play 30 instruments hot and sweet ...”

Cal West was probably the most seasoned entertainer to record in Knoxville in 1929, known for delighting tent show and theatre audiences alike with comedy and songs, while his session was given over to a couple of yodelling blues. He, along with the much recorded Elmer Bird & His Happy Feet were the final acts to record on the first of the Knoxville sessions, although Bird’s was subsequently rejected possibly because he recorded for another label, Gennett, two months earlier.

Probably the most well known country musician to record during the second Knoxville sessions was banjoist Uncle Dave Macon, already well known having made his recording debut in New York, in 1924, sponsored by Sterchi Bros, and subsequently became one of the first stars of the Grand Ole Opry. His Knoxville recordings – which included his first with son Dorris - were a sort of a homecoming though it remains a mystery why they were never released. Another legend in the annals of old time music was champion fiddle player Uncle Jimmy Thompson and his recordings gives an idea what old time fiddling sounded like almost a century ago.

Francis Craig based in Nashville, headed up one of the best known bands in the mid-South although his greatest success was to come when Near You, a “B” side recorded for Bullet in 1947, topped the pop charts for 17 consecutive weeks.  An equally entertaining dance band was Maynard Baird & His Southern Serenaders who were heard nightly on WNOX as well being under contract “to furnish the dine and dance tunes at the new Andrew Johnson Hotel” reported Billboard magazine.

Among the stringbands, the Smoky Mountain Ramblers was a made-up name as singer Hugh Cross was under contract to Columbia, his singing making an impression with another outfit, the Perry County Music Makers, one of the acts that had travelled furthest for the recordings, some 220 miles from Pine View in Tennessee. Adept at name changes, the aforementioned Cross also reappeared as Heavy Martin, presumably named after the guitar he played! African American Howard Armstrong’s mother encouraged her son to sing hymns but he was more interested in secular stringband music and, as part of a long career which also took in blues, was a member of the Tennessee Chocolate Drops trio for the April 3 session. But black singer Leola Manning, returning for her second Knoxville session, did sing gospel, sometimes infusing her powerful messages with the blues, while the Etowah Quartet provided outstanding four part gospel harmonies.

In total some 99 recordings were preserved from the two Knoxville sessions, the full listing appearing below. Among the curiosities is a six part cast (Lowe Stokes, Homer Miller, Walt McKinney, Heavy Martin, Roger Williams and Bill Brown) in a four part playlet about The Great Hatfield – McCoy Feud and Colonel J. G. Sterchi, whose company contributed to the recordings, with a speech “To My Friends and Patrons”.

As with previous Bear Family releases – and especially such historical ones – the set’s 156 page, hardcover book provides far greater information than can be found in any country music encyclopaedia. In fact most of the artists and musicians featured probably wouldn’t be found in any encyclopaedia and only a few, with a great deal of searching, in specialist sources. In addition to the opening chapters setting the scene for the Knoxville sessions, there’s full biographies and photographs for all the acts recorded (even those whose work never appeared, for various reasons), together with song lyrics and discography. The book is profusely illustrated throughout, not only with the acts’ photographs, but also with newspaper reprints, advertisements and record labels.

Ted Olson and Tony Russell well deserve hearty congratulations for undertaking such a massive talk, and achieving such a worthy result, as does Richard Weize for once again presenting a set, the likes of which would only ever come from Bear Family Records. One wonders how much less rich the heritage of country music will be now that Weize departed from the label he founded.

Other historical Tennessee collections from Bear Family Records:
VARIOUS ARTISTS: The Johnson City Sessions (1928-1929) (4 CD box set with 136 page hardcover book) (BCD 160823)
VARIOUS ARTISTS: The Bristol Sessions (5 CD box set with 120 page hasrdcover book) (BCD 16094)
ORIGINAL CARTER FAMILY: In The Shadow Of Clinch Mountain (12 CD box set with 220 page hardcover book) (BCD15865)
THE DIXON BROTHERS: A Blessing To People (4 CD box set with 164 page hardcover book) (BCD16817)
JIMMIE RODGERS: The Singing Brakeman (6 CD box set with 60 page book) (BCD15540)
UNCLE DAVE MACON: Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy (9 CD/1 DVD box set with 176 page hardcover book) (BCD15978)

Kenny Chesney Starts Tour with 50,430 War Eagles

Kenny Chesney Starts Tour with 50,430 War Eagles

 Spread The Love is First Concert at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium
            Auburn, Ala.:  They hoisted the flag of the No Shoes Nation Monday. Friday afternoon, there was tell of a few songs played at the Lambda Chi house. By 8:50 Saturday night, the War Eagles were beyond ready for Kenny Chesney, who kicked off his 2016 Spread The Love Tour as the first ever concert in the 75-year history of Jordan-Hare Stadium, with two full hours.

            With guitars blazing, a bumper crop of hits and guest appearances from tour mates Miranda Lambert (“You and Tequila”), Sam Hunt (“Come Over”) and Old Dominion (“Save It For A Rainy Day”), the 8-time Entertainer of the Year ran, laughed, and sang songs from a career that includes 28 No. 1s. The two dozen songs ignited the crowd, who sang along throughout, often taking an a cappella chorus on songs like “Anything But Mine” and “American Kids.”

            “Sometimes you can feel the energy long before you hit the stage,” Chesney explained after the show. “It’s gathering, and you can sense it. This was one of those shows, one of those times. It was so intense, it was so there, this is the reason we do this: to play music and feel all that energy coming at us.”

            The show – billed as the Music & Miracles Festival – was created to honor the last wish of Kevin Brown, who succumbed to cancer. Telling the crowd, “Before I came onstage, I got to meet so many great people... This show is because of Kevin: his dream specifically was to see us play in this stadium. And so, War Eagle...,” the audience began what became a two-minute chant of “War! War! War! Eagle!”

            With only a piano, Chesney delivered a particularly heartfelt “My Home’s in Alabama” to honor the sentiment behind the event. But for much of the night, it was high impact and higher energy. Even a five-song lapse in his voice – remedied by Throat Coat Tea– didn’t slow down the man deemed “The King of the Road” by The Wall Street Journal. As the audience pumped their fists to “Noise,” his propulsive new single, the notion of being together and celebrating the night seemed to be the only thing on everyone’s mind.

            Miranda Lambert, in a black leather mini skirt, offered a sultry take on Hank Williams’ “Move it on Over.” Then the 7-time CMA Female Vocalist scalded the crowd with a potent “Gunpowder and Lead.” American Music Awards Favorite New Country Artist Sam Hunt took momentum and rode the energy of his set for a performance that included diving off the stage and working his way through the crowd to the other end zone. ACM Best New Group Old Dominion opened the day with a set that included their two-week No. 1 “Break Up With Him.”

            “Some years you just know from night one, it’s going to be special. When we named it Spread The Love, we got it right. To be able to hear the kind of music and the crowd I did all afternoon, it really gets me fired up to get on that stage and make some music. We started back in February with everything pointed at tonight. From the first second we heard that crowd, all the work was beyond worth it! Miranda, Sam, Old Dominion and every single person totally rocked our world. This is what memories are made of.”

            As “Noise” blazes into the Top 10, the 2016 Spread the Love Tour starts on a high note. With dates at Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Isleta Amphitheater on May 5 and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chase Field on May 7, summer is now officially underway.

 Photo Credit: Allister Ann



The “King of Country Music” captivates 19,222 concertgoers during his opening night at new Las Vegas arena

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 23, 2016) – On a balmy Friday night in Las Vegas, the heat only added to the excitement as George Strait packed the new T-Mobile Arena and captivated a record-setting 19,222 fans during the opening night of his Strait to Vegas exclusive concert series. With his Resistol cowboy hat on his head, his signature Wrangler shirt and denim with a well-worn acoustic guitar and the expert Ace in the Hole Band backing him up, Strait proved once again that he is the undeniable “King of Country Music” and consummate entertainer. As he churned through hit after hit, he lived up to the Las Vegas Review Journal's bolstering observation, “George Strait is someone you can legitimately say is in a league of his own.”

“I’ve missed you guys and I’m looking forward to being here a few more nights this year,” Strait told the crowd early on in the night before performing for over two hours. In addition to playing a selection of his illustrious 60 career No. 1’s including “Give It All We’ve Got Tonight,” “Ocean Front Property,” “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” and more, Strait also took a moment to pay tribute to Merle Haggard who was not only an icon for Strait but also a friend. “We’ll never get to hear Merle play live again, but his music will live on forever,” Strait said before performing a medley consisting of “Mama Tried,” “Fightin’ Side of Me,” and “My Life’s Been Grand,” with Strait pausing at the end in remembrance.

GRAMMY, CMA and ACM Award-winning singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves opened the show.

Strait first announced his plans to perform a series of select shows at T-Mobile Arena last September, immediately selling out every date in the Strait to Vegas concert series for 2016 and 2017. Musgraves will join Strait as support for all 2016 dates.

Upcoming Strait to Vegas dates are as follows, with more likely to be added in 2017:

Saturday, April 23, 2016
Friday, Sept. 9, 2016
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016
Friday, Dec. 2, 2016
Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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