Archives for category: WSM 650
Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201501, photo - Brad Hardisty

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201501, photo – Brad Hardisty

Last Thursday night, The Kentucky Headhunters definitely rocked the jukebox and the house at 3rd and Lindsley when they celebrated the release of Meet Me In Bluesland [ Alligator Records] which features recordings made with the late pianist Johnnie Johnson [Chuck Berry]years before his passing.

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201502, photo - Brad Hardisty

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201502, photo – Brad Hardisty

Fred Young, Kentucky Headunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201503, photo - Brad Hardisty

Fred Young, Kentucky Headunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201503, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Kentucky Headhunters had a on and off collaboration with Johnnie which lead to a longtime friendship. The band received a call from Frances Johnson wanting to hear those recording that had been stowed away for all those years. They realized that it was time to go ahead and check out that jam session that took place a few years prior and see what was there. It turned out to be as good they remember it and after some mixing time they secured a deal with Alligator Records for this particular gem.

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 05723201505, photo - Brad Hardisty

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 05723201505, photo – Brad Hardisty

Upon its release last month, Meet Me in Bluesland was Number 2 on the Billboard Blues charts.

Greg Martin, Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201506, photo - Brad Hardisty

Greg Martin, Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201506, photo – Brad Hardisty

It was time for a proper Nashville celebration at a large local venue.

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 07201508, photo - Brad Hardisty

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 07201508, photo – Brad Hardisty

The day kicked off with a morning interview at WSM 650 when the world got a listen of mid-temp Stones rockin’ “Stumbln’” followed by an interview with Richard Young live on the air.

Richard Young, Kentucky Headhunters 0723201508, photo - Brad Hardisty

Richard Young, Kentucky Headhunters 0723201508, photo – Brad Hardisty

It was on thing to hear “Stumblin’” on WSM and another to hear it live. Kind of like hearing The Stones going through “Wild Horses” on a great sounding vinyl recording and then seeing them play it live at LP Field.

Doug Phelps, Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201509, photo - Brad Hardisty

Doug Phelps, Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201509, photo – Brad Hardisty

The set was heavy on the new album with live takes of “Little Queenie”, “Superman Blues” and plenty of rock and roll rooted in the blues.

Fred Young, Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201510, photo - Brad Hardisty

Fred Young, Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201510, photo – Brad Hardisty

It’s interesting to think that The Kentucky Headhunters scored big so fast with their guitar oriented Southern Rock at a time when Country radio was hesitant to really give them their due while now, big guitars abound in Country Radio.

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201511, photo - Brad Hardisty

Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201511, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Kentucky Headhunters have been cutting across genres for decades now after their initial success. A lot of fans have followed them through the years while they have picked up many others from their recent successes as could be seen by the wide ranging crowd at 3rd and Lindsley.

Greg Martin, Fred Young, Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201512, photo - Brad Hardisty

Greg Martin, Fred Young, Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201512, photo – Brad Hardisty

It was a great night for lots of slide and boogie woogie piano with a tight band that has not only played together for over three decades but lives near each other off Headhunter Highway where US 68 meets Kentucky 640.

  • Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201513, photo - Brad Hardisty

    Kentucky Headhunters at 3rd and Lindsley 0723201513, photo – Brad Hardisty

    Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

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The Janie Price Interview on the First Anniversary of Ray’s passing.

Janie Price, photo courtesy- Rick Moore

Janie Price, photo courtesy- Rick Moore

“If you knew just half of the story, you couldn’t get through it without crying. Ray came up to Nashville under the direst of circumstances. He was so ill, feeling so bad and weak. Chemotherapy just wears you out. This man just walked out of that house and, by golly, he got on that tour bus and he came back until he was satisfied he had that volume and that depth to his voice and then would resonate down to the lowest. Ray was able to do this. I was married to one of the most incredible men that has ever walked the face of this earth. This man was a true man. I am so proud to be his wife.” – Janie Price, December 2014

Ray Price spent the last couple of years of his life crafting his final masterpiece, Beauty is… The Final Sessions. A collection of carefully compiled gems, this is a love letter to his wife, Janie Price. Ray worked with legendary Record mogul, Songwriter and Producer Fred Foster [Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Billy Grammer, Ray Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Joe White, Larry Gatlin, Charlie McCoy, Al Hirt, Boots Randolph, Jerry Byrd, Billy Joe Shaver, Grandpa Jones, The Velvets and Robert Mitchum] to build on a bed of lush strings and orchestration reminiscent of the best of Countrypolitan.

???????????????????????????????????????A combination of Texas Country treasures by Cindy Walker [Until Then] and Willie Nelson’s “It Will Always Be” along with standards like Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” and the 1957 Vic Damone classic “An Affair To Remember” at the bequest of the love of his life has proven to be a benchmark for 2014 in modern day Nashville.

Ray Price was joined by Vince Gill [Beauty Lies In The Eye of The Beholder, Until Then] and Martina McBride [An Affair To Remember] on the most personal project of his career.

Janie Price took time to look at Ray Price’s final thoughts and to talk about his friends and recent discoveries regarding the modern age of digital media and social networking.

Brad Hardisty – The Nashville Bridge: Jeanie, it sounds like you have been busy promoting the legacy of Ray Price and his final recording over the last few months.

Jeanie Price, wife of legendary performer, Ray Price: I was down at Larry’s Country Diner and Jeannie Seely and John Conley were there and did a tribute to Ray. They sang some of his songs and it was so neat. I had co-hosted that with Bill Anderson a couple of months ago and they are in the process of getting that 5 DVD set ready. It’s already for pre-orders now. Larry Black had me come back to talk about that we did yesterday. I did the Mike Huckabee Show in October. He is going to do a special on Ray and that is going to air the 13th and 14th [last weekend] of this month around the time of Ray’s Anniversary of his passing on December 16th. I did The Texas Music Scene with Ray Benson. I went down to Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth and it was a day that they had their offices closed so they let us use one of they’re really neat rooms. I met with Dallas Wayne and the production crew all from Texas Music Scene there and filmed a documentary and that started running last week and the response we had from that was absolutely remarkable. I was on WSM with Bill Cody this morning so, I have been busy.

TNB: Who would have guessed that this last album would have such an impact?

JP: Absolutely. You’re telling the facts there because Ray talked to Fred and he asked Fred, he said, before he cut this album, “Do you think that it is humanly possible that an old fellow like me could possibly have another record in this industry? Do you think I can even chart or even get one released, get a record company interested in me?” Fred told Ray everything has changed in this industry and it is certainly not the same place that it was when you and I were in our heyday. But, Fred said, “I will tell you one thing, if anybody can do it, Ray Price can.” Fred Foster was right.

TNB: I think Ray did the right thing by insisting on having strings and the classic Countrypolitan sound.

JP: You know Brad, Ray and I were together forty five years. We were married 43 ½ years and I had taken over his business prior to that and I was there in the beginning of the time when Ray moved from Nashville and came back home to Texas. The reason that he left Nashville was over that very thing. It was the issue of the fact that he had wanted to enlarge the sound of Country Music. Ray wanted to take Country Music to town and to upgrade the sound and make Country Music something that everybody would be proud to listen to.

TNB: Ray was really one of the pioneers of the big Nashville Country sound.

JP: Ray Price paid the dues. He put his money where his mouth was and I can tell you for a fact. I was his book keeper and I wrote every check for Ray Price for the last 45 years and he spent his life’s fortune on moving Country Music into the modern day. When Ray and I first met, he was carrying a 22 piece Orchestra and he was working with so many violins and cellos and violas plus he had a horn section. He had so many musicians.

TNB: I bet that was a challenge on the road.

JP: Ray was working in places that didn’t have a stage big enough to hold them all. It was pretty funny. These guys would set up on the side of the stage. But by golly, he did it.

TNB: Strings were a trademark of his sound.

Ray Price publicity portrait

Ray Price publicity portrait

JP: Ray believed so strongly that the violin was the most classic and versatile of instruments. He said he felt that it replaced the human voice. So, by adding a multitude of strings all at the same time; eight violins, ten violins, it was like having a choir behind you singing. That was Ray’s imagination saying I think we can create this sound and we are going to be able to duplicate a sound that will replace all these people. The violin is going to be the one to do that. I think that he was right.

TNB: Eddie Stubbs [WSM], during the recent tribute, pointed out that Ray carried on the tradition of the violin or the fiddle at a time when it was disappearing in Country Music.

JP: Well, you’re right. The old time fiddle was going away so Ray just changed it. Ray said it was the same instrument and it just sounds different depending on whose holding it and how you play it. Ray wanted to hear those beautiful voice-like strings and so that’s why he had them playing.

TNB: Wasn’t that a great tribute?

JP: I was there that night. I was backstage and they told me they just wanted me to come up and thank those involved and how much we appreciated them doing this tribute. I was sitting backstage and I was on the right hand side of the stage facing the audience where the podium was and Eddie Stubbs was standing there. I was just enjoying the show. It was a sad time for me because it had only been three and a half months since I had lost Ray. At the end of the show, Eddie said, “Now folks, I’ve got a real special person here tonight. I want you all to make her feel welcome. I want you all to say hello to Ray Price’s wife, Janie.” Well, it just scared me to death. I had no clue that he was going to ask me to come out on that stage. After all, that is the Grand Ole Opry isn’t it?  told my sister my legs are just killing me. I cannot stand up and she said, “You better do something? Eddie Stubbs is standing there with his arm out wanting you to come out there.” I finally was able to get to my feet. I was out there and Eddie said,”Now Janie, I want to tell you somethin’.” Eddie told me the exact date in 1952 when Ray Price walked out on that very spot and made his very first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Eddie told me the song he sang. Eddie said “What do you think about that?”

TNB: I bet that was a surprise.

JP: I was just dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. I don’t know why it came out of my mouth but, I said how old was I? Ray was twenty years my senior and I was just thinkin’ that I was just a kid. I said, “How old was I? Eddie said “Janie, a woman who will tell you her age will tell you just about anything.”

TNB: That was a good safe answer.

JP: All the audience just laughed and that relaxed me and it just made me laugh. Eddie said “Well, I just want you to turn to this audience and I want you to tell these fans out here what this album means to you and what Ray’s idea and plans were for this album.” I don’t know how I got through it but I just turned to the audience and I told them that Ray had pancreatic cancer and he had fought it for twenty five months. Before he left this world, he had made the decision that he wanted to do one last thing. He said I don’t want to just go home and sit down and die. I want to do something with the remaining days of my life and do something that is meaningful.

TNB: How did he get started?

JP: Ray picked up the phone and talked to Fred Foster. He asked Fred if he would be a part of it and he said”I would love to be a part of this!” Martina McBride, when she found out about it, she was just so thrilled at the chance to be on the album with Ray. She came over and sang on “An Affair To Remember” which is the song that I just begged Ray to record for so many years.

TNB: I think anybody would have jumped at the chance to work with Ray.

JP: It was just a combination of a dream that my sweetheart husband had. He wanted to have one last album before he left this world and it has been left in my hands to go out and do the promotion and do everything that Ray would have done and had every intention of doing.

TNB: It must have been a huge undertaking with his health issues at the time.

JP: Ray had developed some serious side effects and had some health problems that were caused by those reactions that we simply did not anticipate that pro longed his ability to take chemotherapy. It was during that period of time when Ray was recovering from those side effects to the medication that the cancer had spread pretty quickly beyond where we would not be able to do any treatment for it and he realized that he was not going to be here.

TNB: I bet that was a difficult situation, knowing that this would his final project.

JP: He wanted to be here so badly. He wanted to be a part of another hit record and to leave his fans with one last album. He dedicated it to all the people who supported him all these years. So, he asked me if I would step forward and do what he would have done. I told him I had never done anything like this before. He said you are just going to have to make yourself available. He said I have got the right people in place.

TNB: Ray was confident in your abilities.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

JP: Ray said all you are going to have to do is what they tell you to do. I said but, I don’t know what to say. Ray said “I tell you what I want you to do. I want you to call my good friend Eddie Stubbs.” He said you ask Eddie, you tell Eddie that I want him to help you and give you support and to try to tell you how to handle these interviews. Ray said,”He will talk you through it” and he did. Eddie broke down and started crying when I told him what Ray said. Eddie Stubbs said “I would love to do that.” Eddie has spent many, many, many conversations on the phone in the beginning of this and giving me tips. I thought, I’m so lucky to have a master like Eddie Stubbs giving me pointers. Eddie is a big part of this. Eddie and Ray were close friends. Eddie Stubbs was closer to Ray than any other human being those last years of Ray’s illness and I know he called every week and talked with Ray as long as Ray was able to talk. When Ray could no longer talk, he started talking to me and Eddie kept an update with all his fans on his show on WSM. Eddie told Ray as long as I have a job and until they fire me, I am going to play a Ray Price song every time I am on the air.

TNB: What role has social media and internet played in helping to get the word out on this album?

JP: As you know, that is instant media and it just goes everywhere. It is worldwide. There is no limitation. Radio stations are limited as far as their signal will broadcast but internet is limitless. I have done several internet radio shows and they have gone all over the country and that has made a huge difference. It’s like it has opened up whole world. Now, that is hard for older people like us that are not accustomed. We think if we are texting on a telephone we are doing really good. These young people are becoming so computer literate and they just live on that internet. They do their entire life, business and everything on the internet so they are picking up on things. this morning when I was on WSM, Martha [Publicist] tweeted it on her account and Bill Cody did the same thing on WSM’s and Martha just posted “Janie Price is live on the air with Bill Cody and Charlie” and if you would like to listen, click on right now and within less than a minute there were 352 people on those lines in less than a minute. I don’t know how many people ended up listening to it but there were bunches of them.   Ray loved the internet. Do I have time to tell you what he said about it?

TNB: Go ahead.

JP: Ray opened up his Facebook page and it was something that just thrilled him. Ray had no clue that so many people would join his Facebook page and so after it was posted, there were 118 people that had already clicked on it. Before our web designer got off the line we already had 500 people that liked his page.

TNB: One last question. The newer Country is really different. Do you find younger Country fans that are going back and looking for the roots and recognizing Ray Price for what he did?

JP: From what we are being told, that is what has turned this record around. That is exactly what is happening. Ray’s fan base was the same age and he was 87 years old when he passed away. We have lost so many of those people. How do we account for all this huge gigantic sales of Ray Price’s album? Well, these people all had children, who had children, who all now have children and they all have been raised on Ray Price’s music. And it has been handed down and now people like Ray Benson are talking this project on The Best of Texas. There are so many new young artists on there and they have brought in so much of the young crowd and there is a younger generation that is just falling in love with Ray Price. We wish he was here to see this because that was always his dream. He said “I have been the singer for all these old folks all these years and I would love it if the younger generation would start liking my music. That would thrill me to no end.” He said, “That would make this old man’s heart proud.” That is what has happened.

Message from Eddie Stubbs, WSM Radio and best friend of Ray Price-

Eddie Stubbs and Ray Price at WSM, twitter photo

Eddie Stubbs and Ray Price at WSM, twitter photo

Ray Price was an extraordinary singer. He was a true vocal and musical stylist–an absolute American original. It was a special blessing to have known him for over twenty years. We did many, many interviews together over those years. There were numerous occasions that I drove four and five hours each way to see Ray in full-concert. I’ve never regretted a single mile of those travels. On-stage Ray Price was pure class–a term you rarely hear used to describe an act in any form of entertainment. He was a super-hero to me, and it was always a privilege to just to be in his presence.”

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmail.com

Junior Sisk getting award as wife, Susan Sisk looks on.

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice Celebrate at IBMA’s World Of Bluegrass with Two Nominations and Appearances on SirisuXM, WAMU and WSM

Chesterfield, VA (September 21, 2012) — Virginia native, Junior Sisk was honored by his home-state and colleagues during a ceremony in Chesterfield, Virginia on Friday, September 14th. Sigrid Williams of the Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame presented Sisk with a plaque during a performance by his band, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, officially honoring Sisk as the 2012 Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame Inductee. The Virginia Folk Music Association was formed in 1943 for the purpose of preserving the history of country, bluegrass and gospel music. In 1973, the “Hall of Fame” was established and since that time has inducted many well known musicians such as Roy Clark, The Statler Brothers, Jimmy Dean and bluegrass legends Jim & Jesse McReynolds.

photo credit – Anthony Ladd

 Also during the ceremony, Edwin Esten, Vice President of the Virginia Folk Music Association presented another plaque to Sisk on behalf of Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonnell, in recognition of Sisk’s dedication to preserving and fostering bluegrass music not only in Virginia, but world-wide as well. “I was deeply honored to be inducted into the Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame and also to receive the plaque from Governor McDonnell,” stated Sisk. “I play traditional bluegrass music and never think about receiving any awards for it. But when you are recognized by your home-state for what you do, it sure does mean a lot.”

 The Hall of Fame induction is among several newsworthy items as of late for Sisk and Ramblers Choice. The band learned in August that they are nominees for this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards in two categories; Album of the Year for their latest Rebel Records release, The Heart Of A Song and Song of the Year for “A Far Cry From Lester And Earl”. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice will spend next week in Nashville, Tennessee to attend the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Conference and have several personal appearances lined up including radio interviews and performances in addition to attending the IBMA Awards at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Here’s a complete list of their appearances (all times are CST):

 Tuesday, September 25th

2:00pm SiriusXM Radio’s “Bluegrass Junction Live from IBMA” – Admission is free and open to the public. Guests should arrive at the Bridgestone Arena lobby no later than 1:30pm as seating is limited.)

3:30pm SiriusXM Studio Special – Private hour long performance to be aired at a later date on SirisXM’s Bluegrass Junction

7:00pm Martin Guitar’s Showcase at Robert’s Western World, 416B Broadway

10:00pm WAMU’s Bluegrass Country Showcase Nashville Convention Center Room 107

 Wednesday, September 26th

8:00am WSM 650AM “Coffee, Country and Cody” – http://www.wsmonline.com

6:30pm Mountain Music Entertainment/Rebel Records Showcase at Jack’s BBQ, 416 Broadway (Free Admission)

9:30pm Bluegrass on Broadway at Ernest Tubb Record Shop, 417 Broadway (Free Admission)

 Thursday, September, 27th

5:45pm IBMA Red Carpet Media Event

7:30pm IBMA Awards at the Ryman Auditorium

 Friday, September 28th

9:30pm California Bluegrass Association Showcase

11:00pm Fan Fest 

 Junior Sisk will be part of the Bluegrass talent that descends on Nashville next week at IBMA World of Bluegrass.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Town Mountain on Mainstage

On the second night of World of Bluegrass, the boundaries were being stretched from groups influenced by Bluegrass music growing up, but, showing hardly a hint of a Bluegrass foundation to neo-modern traditionalists Town Mountain, the future of Bluegrass lies in a cross section of those that would hold high the Monroe flame at this celebration of the 100th Anniversary of his birth to seeing if Pat Benatar can go well with a side of Mandolin.

The Farewell Drifters

The Farewell Drifters, with a fairly current Americana meets Pop Music took the stage, with two releases debuting in the top 10 of the Billboard Bluegrass charts, Zach Bevill and the crew were a push forward with varied influences. The fact that they have progressed this far shows that a younger generation is carrying acoustic music across the universe.

Nu-Blu backstage

Nu-Blu, featuring the beautiful voice of Carolyn Routh, premiered a great video for a strong number, “Other Woman’s Blues,” before playing live to the full house. The real strength of Nu-Blu is their songwriting, even though they finished the set with Dolly’s “Jolene” and a Pat Benatar rave-up of “Shadows of the Night,” they have some interesting stories of their own to tell.

Crystal Shipley, Joe Zauner and Jed Clark

If there was a particular theme, it seemed to be that just about any acoustic music was welcome. Even in the after hours, showcases, which featured the Gypsy Jazz / Old time Texas style swing of Casey Driscoll, Taylor Baker and Brennen Ernst playing “Blue Skies”, was really a bridge to the Americana Conference and Folk Alliance.

Backstage with Randy Kohrs

Jim Lauderdale had one of the strongest sets, playing songs from Reason and Rhyme, with Producer and Dobro shredder, Randy Kohrs and a hot band hitting all the right spots. Jim is a neo-traditionalist chameleon that works in tall bluegrass and with Grateful Dead songwriters in the same breath. Jim has such a volume of output; he wears me out just thinking about it.

Jim Lauderdale with WSM 650 staff

Town Mountain was a fitting finish, with great musicianship and a strong nod to Bluegrass.  They were drawing in the lines and at the same time fresh faced.

Rodney & Beverly Dillard

Rodney Dillard of the generational Dillards (The Darlings, Andy Griffith Show) was taking a breather this year while his band was all about mixing it up.

Casey Driscoll, Taylor Baker and Brennen Ernst Showcase

The jams go late into the night. Some of the impromptu meet ups are what makes this fun. You could catch anybody from Crystal Shipley (The Dixie Bee-Liners), Joe Zauner on banjo and Jed Clark (The Roys) on guitar, just hanging on a cluster of couches talking instruments to see what happens.

Harry Fontana at Robert's

After hours, one could hang and catch the late night showcases or go grab a bite to eat down on Lower Broad in a couple of minutes at Robert’s listening to the three piece straight up Rock and Roll of Harry Fontana on “Rockabilly Boogie.”

Martin McDaniel at The Stage

A couple more doors down and the soulful country of Southern Alabama’s Martin McDaniel, with some of the most fluid guitar lines in town was at The Stage. Martin has been building a local audience ever since he arrived a few years ago, doing it the hard way, honky tonks and opening sets.

WAMU's Bluegrass Country Showcase

Music City; where music never sleeps.  

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

A year in Exile

If there was any kind of recurrent theme this year, The Rolling Stones kept popping up on the radar. It started when I bought the Deadstring Brothers album Sao Paulo an obvious well done Stones influenced work of art. It would be in my Top Ten if it had come out in 2010 but it actually was released in 2009. It is a great album and when I saw them live at The Basement it came across really well.

It didn’t stop there; Exile on Main Street had been remastered with bonus tracks where The Stones actually brought in Mick Taylor to play his parts on some unfinished tracks. The Rolling Stones released a new single “Plundered My Soul” from the found tracks and released several versions of the album.

Grimey’s did a midnight screening of the Documentary Stones in Exile that took photographs, film, new interviews with the band as well as Bobby Keyes and others about recording Exile on Main Street in the south of France way back when at The Belcourt Theatre. “Exile” is now considered a pivotal record but at the time “Tumbling Dice” was considered a difficult single on a rather un-commercial record.

During the Americana Conference the Long Players augmented with Stones Sax Player Bobby Keyes, Dan Baird and several singers like Mike Farris, Grace Potter and others did the entire album live at The Cannery Ballroom. 

The Theatre release Ladies and Gentlemen The Rolling Stones which was filmed during the Exile promotional tour in the States was remastered and released on DVD in the fall. The set featured many of the songs from Exile that are not played much by latter day Stones such as “Sweet Virginia”. The sound and film looked phenomenal and it was good to see Mick Taylor at his best, an integral part of The Stones during that period and in truth is really missed nowadays.

Finally, to finish off the year of The Stones, Keith Richard’s Autobiography Life was released in November along with a compilation of his X-Pensive Winos recordings from the late Eighties.  The Rolling Stones managed to keep in the music news almost as much as Taylor Swift.

Original cover for Straight Up

It also seemed to be the year for catalog re-releases as Apple Records remastered most of the Apple back catalog of non-Beatles recordings by Badfinger, Mary Hopkins, James Taylor and released all of them at the same time.

FnA Records continued to not only re-release 80’s metal catalog but also unearthed several recordings that were set to release but never were by labels such as A&M and Geffen when the Seattle scene took over.  There were several recordings by different artists from The Thirteenth Floor Elevators 45’s to Carnival Season vinyl that saw their material released on CD for the first time.

Janie Hendrix continues exquisite releases of all things Jimi Hendrix with the release of West Coast Seattle Boy that not only has yet another Bob Dylan song done by Hendrix but goes back to the background of what he was doing before going to England with expanded packages that include a disc full of Isley Brothers and other nuggets, pre-Experience as well as a DVD Voodoo Child that even talks about his Nashville days.

Country continues to sell big, but real, traditional or Texas Country has been swallowed up by the Americana scene. At least it has found a home. As far as innovation in current pop country the last leap forward was Miranda Lambert’s Revolution and that was released last year.

Here are few honorable no less worthy than the list:

Ratt – Infestation

Merle Haggard – I Am What I Am

Kort – Invariable Heartache

Charlie Louvin – The Battles Rage On

Marty Stuart – Ghost Train

Jim Lauderdale – Patchwork River

Crazy Heart – (Soundtrack) Various Artists

Okay, now for my Top Ten. In making my choices, I not only looked at material, but innovation and game changers, records that made things interesting.

10- Carnival Season / Misguided Promises / ARRCO

This represents not only a re-issue on CD for the first time of regional Birmingham band Carnival Season that features local legend Tim Boykin, but, painstakingly includes every recording the band made during their short time together as well as extensive liner notes that tell the whole story of the late 80’s rockers. It sits well on the shelf with bands like Redd Kross as well as The Replacements. The band has been doing occasional reunion gigs playing not only this set but some new stuff as well over the last couple of years. This was one of the first alternative rock bands out of Birmingham, Alabama.

Featured tracks: “Misguided Promises”, “Please Don’t Send me to Heaven”

9- Robert Plant / Band of Joy / Rounder –Esparanza

Robert was in the middle of recording the follow up to Raising Sand with Allison Krauss when he pulled the plug when he felt the magic wasn’t there. He retreated to Nashville and entrusted Buddy Miller to put together a band that features Darrell Scott, Byron House, Marco Giovino and Patty Griffin and secluded into Woodland Studio to see what they would come up with. The result is obscure covers as well as a Plant-Page piece from Walking into Clarksdale that shows some Zeppelin flavor with uncharted Americana territory which sonically could have only happened with Nashville session players in such a short time. The band gelled in the studio and continues to roll across Europe and Stateside. This is probably Buddy Miller’s best Production effort yet.

Featured tracks:  “Angel Dance”, “You Can’t Buy My Love”, “House of Cards”

8 – Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses / Junky Star / Lost Highway

Ryan tends to write like a modern day Dylan but his voice is more like John Kay from Steppenwolf. Ryan who comes from the red dirt scene of West Texas and now lives in so-L.A. got national notice with the Grammy winning “The Weary Kind” from the Crazy Heart soundtrack defiantly writes about a drifter leaving behind a dead end life to go to California only to end up sleeping on the Santa Monica pier.

Featured tracks: “The Wandering”, “Junky Star”

7- Sweet Apple / Love & Desperation / Tee Pee

Put together by members of Dinosaur Jr. and Witch, this little known defiantly Hard Rock and other worldly idea collection of songs with its Roxy Music rip off style album cover is actually closer to something between an early Alice Cooper (when they were a band) and Ziggy Stardust era Bowie. The album kicks off like a Raspberries send off with Guidedbyvoices production and then the desperation begins with some morbid love lost desperation with a chugging Alice Cooper band style with lyrics like ”Looking out the window, watching people fall, how I wish I could fall to death”. It’s a rock and roll gem this year.

Featured tracks: “Do You Remember”, “I’ve Got a Feeling (That Won’t Change)”

6 – Preservation Hall Jazz Band / Preservation / Preservation Hall Recordings

What a fantastic album. A collection of well-known New Orleans Ragtime with this important Horn based band where the tuba still carries much of the bass part, mashes PHJB with an all-star cast of vocalists such as Andrew Bird, Pete Seeger, Ani DiFranco, Ritchie Havens, Steve Earle as well as the sultry vocals of Memphis’ Amy LaVere.  The band ended up on tour with Maroon 5 this year.

Featured tracks: “Blue Skies”, “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home”

5- John Mellencamp / No Better Than This / Rounder

Recorded for the most part at Sun Studios with one RCA 44 ribbon mic into vintage Ampex Analog gear, John not only sounds like the old Sun recordings, this sounds like old tape that had to be baked in a microwave to finally put it on digital media. It was not only a great idea with equal parts Cash country, Rockabilly and blues but probably his best album since Scarecrow. The T Bone Burnett produced masterpiece even got airtime on WSM.

Featured tracks: “No Better Than This”, “Coming Down the Road”

4- Justin Townes Earle / Harlem River Blues / Bloodshot

If you missed it, Justin just rolled a third strike in three years. Every album has been decidedly Justin with marked differences and excellent songwriting. This would be his “Ode to New York City” where he now calls his second home.  Jason Isbell (Drive by Truckers, The 400 Unit) puts in guitar duties and gives this more of an edgy guitar feel as well as some straight up Rockabilly. It really would be cool to see a pure Rockabilly album in the future.

Featured tracks: “Move Over Mama”, “Workin’ for the MTA”, “Christchurch Woman”

3- Black Mountain / Wilderness Heart / Jagjaguwar

This album sometimes feels like Led Zep III and Deep Purple Fireball at the same time. The duality vocals of Stephen and Amber still remind me of a haunting Jefferson Airplane with the production sounding very early 70’s analog, sometimes acoustic but when they rock it’s got Jon Lord style Hammond B3 all over the place. Although the first album by this Vancouver band may have been a defining moment this is the one that makes me wants to crank the stereo full blast on road trips.

Featured tracks:  “The Hair Song”, “Old Fangs”, “Let Spirits Ride”

2- Mike Farris and The Cumberland Saints / The Night The Cumberland Came Alive / Entertainment One

Recorded in just six hours just two weeks after the Nashville Flood in a downtown Nashville church just blocks from the flooding, Mike shows that his bluesy/gospel voice can sound fantastic over anywhere he wants to go. Mike has been everywhere from Indie Rock, Blues, Gospel, working with Double Trouble to now this pre-war Gospel Blues style gem working with The McCrary Sisters, Sam Bush, Byron House and members of The Old Crow Medicine Show, his originals mesh well with the rare covers. He showcased the album at Cannery Ballroom during the Americana Music Festival and it was electrifying.

Featured tracks: “Wrapped Up, Tangled Up”, “Down on Me”

1-She & Him /Volume Two / Merge

Zooey Deschannel & M. Ward are some kind of modern Indie Captain and Tennille and somehow it works. Zooey has a sunny California breeze running through her muse that translates into a digital era take on The Beach Boys versus Phil Spector. Even though the material is fresh it makes me daydream of being back on the beach in Santa Cruz when I was six with my Mom and little sister.

Featured tracks: “In The Sun”, “Don’t Look Back”,”Lingering Still”

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

September 9, 2010, Nashville, TN, The Ryman Auditorium

Courtyard Hounds in the Alley

Just as Robert Plant was finishing up his surprise guest slot at The Americana Music Association Awards Show, former Dixie Chicks, as of late, Courtyard Hounds, Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson were emptying out the famed side door of The Ryman, signing autographs and taking pictures with a few of the media and locals that wandered down the beer light lit alley where John Ritter played as a boy while his father, Tex Ritter would be performing in the Mother Church, the home of The Grand Ole Opry.

Brad with Martie Maguire

I asked Martie if they were the surprise guests being talked about and she said “Nope, it was Robert Plant”. After which, I let her know that we had a general consensus that is who it would be. Yes, every time the stage door would open to the back door at the top of the stairs, there was no mistaking the voice of the Golden God.

It appears this could be a big turning point for the Americana Scene as it increases the sheer volume of styles and talent. WSM 650, “The Legend” will not only play the “Americana Files” on AM radio but will stream a 24/7 Americana Channel starting next week.  It is amazing that a radio station that was there in the beginning is leading the way into the future.

Peter Buck (REM), Brad

Other performers and presenters began streaming out after Robert Plant had finished his Buddy Miller lead set. Peter Buck stopped briefly on the misty asphalt for a couple of pictures. It seemed that Artists from Country and Nashville understood what the side door of The Ryman meant. It was where Elvis, Bill Monroe, Lefty Frizell and others used to disappear into the backdoor of Tootsies and other Lower Broad watering holes back in the day after performing before sold out crowds. It has been a place where a few fans would chance to meet the Entertainers from the Saturday night airwaves.

Lucinda Williams slowly made it down the stairs, appearing to be a little exhausted, maybe a little travel weary. Lucinda made time to talk, sign, take pics and hang out with the few of us who had gathered to greet them in the late dewy air of The Ryman.  Lucinda was Indie before there was “Americana” helping to define the genre by being fiercely independent in her songwriting and delivery.

Lucinda Williams at The Ryman, Brad

Lucinda expressed concern about what was going on in the Country, she felt she had never been this concerned before. We discussed the Pastor who was planning on having a Koran burning on 9/11. Lucinda was relieved to find out he wasn’t going through with it.

A few more people came through the alley and lined up about 4 or 5 long with a man in a fresh clean promotional shirt of some new upcoming Country Artist at the very end. He waited patiently as he approached Lucinda with a piece of paper he found to get her autograph.  He had a big smile on his face. A little luck had come his way this time as he walked the back alley.

He could have been a homeless man or a local African-American maybe from the Southside. Who knows but he is a part of the Carnival feel that attracts even those with not much to hang down on Lower Broad.

He politely asked for her autograph and shared some words with her. As he wandered west towards Tootsies, Lucinda was a little reflective and teary eyed. She said “Excuse me” as she tried to regain her composure. Lucinda lived in Nashville for nine years and I am sure some things still have not changed. I just said, “he kind of touched you didn’t he?”  She responded, “He probably wasn’t even at the show, if I had known, somehow, you know I would have gotten him in somehow… his name was Perry”. 

She was very reflective for a moment. I said “You never know.  There may be a song in that”. Her Manager said, “There can always be a song in something”.  Lucinda noted “You know it’s one of those things where what if Jesus was somebody in the crowd that nobody paid any attention to”.  We all seemed to think about it for a moment. Lucinda shared a little of her thoughts and some “Real Love“.  What a big heart.

I said, “You ought to move back to Nashville.” Lucinda just came back, “Too many cloudy days, I need sunshine”. Well, it has been cloudy this week but then again they always say “It Never Rains in Southern California ”.

Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Lucinda, Hayes' Parents

As she left, a few others streamed out. We soon found out Robert Plant decided to make a rock star escape out one of the other doors after security had cleared the quad and he jumped into a waiting Hummer. Not quite the “rub shoulders with Country fans” type of thing, but, hey, he is a famous person who values his privacy.

As I was getting ready to leave for the next big show, Lucinda’s new friend came wandering down the alley again. I smiled at him “Hey Perry how’s it goin?” He stopped and smiled and said “How do you know my name?” I said “ Lucinda told me.  You made a big impression on her”.

Perry smiled and said “it’s not every day you get to meet somebody famous”. He put his hand on my shoulder for a minute and smiled at me. It was there that I realized what Lucinda saw. The eyes don’t lie. He had a smile that penetrated your soul.  He was as common as anybody down at the Mission with a couple of missing teeth, but, he had that “One of Gods Children” vibe that only a person with a pure soul could have.  As he backed away, he stared at the Press badge with my name on it for a minute and strolled down the same path he was on before. In God’s hands.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN      thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Ray LaMontagne

Four of the top ten records this week in Billboard are a reflection of  Tennessee on the national charts and music in general these days.  A showcase of different styles that all have one common source.

Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs’  “God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise” with the prominent pedal steel of  Greg Leisz,  may be considered “Contemporary Folk” and could be cross genred with “Americana Music” has its roots in the original Bob Dylan sessions for “Nashville Skyline”  and the phenomenal pedal steel player, Pete Drake. Pete was a first call session player on Nashville Country sessions that became known for his work on “Lay Lady Lay” as well the George Harrison’ “All Things Must Pass” album as well as Producing Ringo Starr’s “Beaucoups of “Blues” .  Greg Leisz work is prominently featured on “New York City’s Killing Me” and the title cut. The record debuts this week at number three on Billboard.

Trace Adkins’ new disc, “Cowboy’s Back in Town” debuts at number five on the national Billboard charts showing his strong audience pull beyond “The Apprentice”.  In a way Trace Adkins, although part of this generations Country Music, represents traditionally Country with his every man and ”what you see is what you get” type persona. He is one of the crop of newer artists that is defining himself much in the way the original icons such as Johnny Cash were able to do.

Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” has gone beyond the country charts with the right pick of material and masterful production and presentation.  “Need You Now”, co-written by Lady Antebellum and Josh Kear spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, before going #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 is now certified triple platinum  and can be heard on just about every radio format. The single has been in the top five on International Charts in Canada, Ireland and Norway as well as a top ten hit in the Netherlands and Norway.  I don’t know of anybody that doesn’t know that song. Again, the pedal steel lick on the chorus is as important as the vocal delivery. I can hear it in my head right now. The follow up singles “American Honey”, “I Run to You” and “Our Kind of Love” have continued the chart topping success.

John at Sun, Memphis

John Mellencamp and T Bone Burnett were right on with “No Better Than This”.  The first week on Billboard that album enters at Number 10 in all its ragged glory. “No Better Than This” was recorded in much the same way as Sam Phillips recorded early tracks at Sun Studios by Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. A vintage mono Ampex Reel to Reel fed by a vintage solo RCA ribbon mic figure in a big way in the Sonics of this album. This features great songs by John Mellencamp being heard on rock, pop and country radio.  The single “Coming Down the Road” being played locally as part of their “Americana Files” on WSM 650, “The Home of Country Music”. If you didn’t know it was a new cut by John Mellencamp you would swear it was an obscure but great track recorded at Sun back in 1956 that is now just coming to light. John will be a part of the Americana Music Awards being held in Nashville being held on September 9th at The Ryman Auditorium.

Americana Music, in general, is the new underground. It doesn’t even have its own chart on Billboard yet. WSM 650 in Nashville is paying attention and participating big time with hosting the “Music City Roots” show at The Loveless Barn every Wednesday night. In times like these, with people searching for jobs and worrying about the future, sometimes the familiarity of Country songs themes and the roots of Americana and Folk that go back to the days of The Carter Family are a way of easing and soothing our troubled minds.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN