Archives for posts with tag: Ray Price
Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

This year saw the further disintegration of album sales and disgruntled musicians receiving a pittance from Spotify or other streaming services. Okay, on the bright side there were still great albums to be heard and musicians kept up the pace like the scene with the shrimp boat in Forrest Gump. “Storm?” “What storm?”

Taylor Swift made a home base move from Nashville to New York City and went from making Country Music that was really crossover to making a complete crossover to Pop Music. Albeit, the songs are catchy and she has become the reigning sales queen by CD through placement that saw 1989 on Diet Coca Cola pop up displays in every major supermarket in the United States plus a lot of hard touring and tabloid press.

Scott Borchetta is still on my amazing label head list. If it takes every supermarket in the United States to make Taylor’s new album a million seller, he’s going to do it. Scott shows sheer tenacity and anybody who has heard him talk about the original Taylor Swift launch will realize that if he has the right thing to work with, he will not be denied.

One bright spot on the sales horizon was hearing that United Record Pressing was moving to bigger digs due to the ever increasing demand for vinyl. The craziest part about vinyl is that we all bought into the X and O bits as music for so long that when you hear real music frequencies on vinyl, it’s hard to believe how real it sounds.

Nashville continues to diversify as Country Music starts to sound more like Twisted Sister and Motley Crue starts to sound more Country. What’s interesting is just as Country was starting to hedge the crossover bet towards EDM, the big money making songs had guitar tones from REM to Malcom Young.

Just when you thought all was lost to what classic country sounded like, Ray Price delivers an instant Countrypolitan classic and Sturgill Simpson shows a path to the future for real Country. There are many performers who would like to see “Real” Country make a comeback by Artists like JP Harris and Joe Fletcher.

Jack White continued his Nashville years as the hardest working rocker in the business. Next up, Bridgestone Arena just blocks from Third Man Records. Neil Young became not only the first person to record straight to vinyl in the refurbished 1947 Voice-O-Graph booth at the initial unveiling on Record Store Day 2013, he also recorded an entire album in the time machine, releasing A Letter Home on Third Man Records.

The Black Keys kept pretty busy not just by touring arenas but producing solid efforts by Lana Del Rey [Ultraviolence] and Nikki Lane [All Or Nothin’].

Debbie Bond & The TruDats and The Cotton Blossom Band at CD Release Party, photo- Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond & The TruDats and The Cotton Blossom Band at CD Release Party, photo- Brad Hardisty

If Nashville is not collecting the creative spark of the world like an ACME magnet in a Roadrunner cartoon than I don’t know how one can explain the laundry list of musicians of every genre moving here by the droves. There are so many more professional musicians than what you read about in the local rags.

East Nashville is becoming “gentrified” with its traditions like The Tomato Festival and The Hot Chicken Festival and has a laundry list of musicians living in the vicinity. The area is becoming much more expensive so there are other neighborhoods starting to become better known for musicians such as more affordable Riverside and Berry Hill.

The list of venues and bands that travel through town continues to grow. Nashville marches on as a Mecca for all things music as Nashville’s New Years Eve became only second in attendance to New York City in only four years of promoting headlining acts. Last year the show featured Blackberry Smoke, Brent Eldridge and headliner Hank Williams Jr.. This year it will be called Jack Daniels Bash on Broadway and feature a star-packed lineup that includes Lady Antebellum, Gavin DeGraw, The Apache Relay, and Kristen Capolino. The crowds have surpassed projected numbers in years past. Last year down on Broadway had near 90,000 party goers. This year will probably top 100,000 + for the free show.

Here are my Top Ten from Nashville and a couple of Alabamans and a Texan thrown into the mix.

debbie bond cbb_soulshiningcdcov_med_hr-210 [tie] – The Cotton Blossom Band – Soulshining [Self release]

Tony Gerber put together the truest Alternative project heard all year in Nashville. The Cotton Blossom Band features members of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones [Roy Wooten aka Futureman] and BB King’s [Michael Doster] rhythm section and they manage to blend Mississippi Hill Country Blues with Space Music and other assorted world tones. Imagine Junior Kimbrough backed by Tangerine Dream and you might be close but, no banana. I know there are other projects in town that are somewhere in this realm but Tony Gerber’s realization turned every live gig [which were almost invitation only events] into meditation on another plane without the need for Meds.

“See My Jumper Hangin’ Out On The Line”

justin townes earle single mothers10 [tie] –Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers [Vagrant Records]

Justin is back in town! Well, after the New York sojourn, it was great to hear a great Nashville lineup playing some Southern inflected bluesy Muscle Shoals soul. Simple arrangements and to the point, this could have been a writer’s night at The Commodore Grill with a minimalist four piece band. The lyrics are important, timely and reflect more facets of his life, especially “Single Mothers” and his own feeling of being raised by a single mother. Justin changes it up again and always manages to upset somebody. This time, it’s “where is Justin’s finger style in the mix?” If you don’t know by now, Justin has made a stretch assignment on every album since Yuma. The predictable quality with the unpredictable line-up or mix is what keeps one looking forward to seeing what he is up to next.

“Single Mothers” “Picture In A Drawer”

debbie bond that thing called love9 –Debbie Bond & The TruDats – That Thing Called Love [Blues Root Productions]

Although completed in 2013, the official release date was in 2014 for the first Live recording to come from Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show as an official release. Much of the songs played by Alabama’s Queen of The Blues, Debbie Bond, that quintessential night were meant for a future project. After hearing the playback of the recordings done deep in the Tennessee woods in a MASH style tent, Debbie and her band decided it was a great sound and ready for release after some solid mixing. The album features an eclectic mix of tributes to the fans in Tarragona, Spain, New Orleans as well as the influence of Alabama Blues and Soul.

“Tarragona Blues” “Steady Rolling Man”

st paul8 – St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Half The City [Single Lock Records]

You could say this is Eddie Hinton 2.0 or maybe Alabama FAME soul was bubbling under the surface just waiting to get out. What is true is when you take away Country Music, Birmingham and the surrounding areas have an Indie Scene that rivals Nashville. You could file this under The Daptones and the G.E.D. Soul catalog and it fits really well but with something really special with great vocals by Paul Janeway and instrumentation that kept the band busy all year long.

“Call Me”, “Grass Is Greener”

dead fingers big black dog7 – Dead Fingers – Big Black Dog [PIPEANDGUN / Communicating Vessels]

Alabama’s Dead Fingers have developed a copacetic duality in their harmonies and their approach. Taylor Hollingsworth [Conor Oberst, The Spider Eaters] is a monster on the guitar and is able to approach the instrument in whatever way the song needs to be tickled. His wife Kate Taylor steps it up this time and her vocals are stronger than ever. You could call this a Southern She & Him but their pedigree goes even deeper into the history of Birmingham music. The Taylor family is involved in more projects than can be named while Taylor Hollingsworth’s brother has his own stuff going on. This couple represents the bread and butter of the modern day Birmingham scene from The Nick to over the mountain.

“Big Black Dog” “Shoom Doom Babba Labba”

jack white lazaretto6 – Jack White – Lazaretto [Third Man Records]

The depth to where Jack White takes his muse never ceases to amaze. The second solo release shows him in top form and now he is ready to take on Bridgestone Arena from his own backyard, which is no small feat as any Nashvillian will attest. Jack takes the James Brown motto of “the hardest working man in show business” to a third power.

“Lazaretto”, “Would You Fight For My Love”

ricky skaggs sharn white5 –Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White –Hearts Like Ours [Skaggs Family Records]

Long time happily married Ricky and Sharon decide to change it up from their day jobs with Kentucky Thunder and The Whites and make a great duet album with a classic Country almost Americana edge. Although this is their first, hopefully it will not be their last. Ricky is always up for a challenge and has worked with everybody from Bruce Hornsby, Jack White and Barry Gibb over the last few years. Sharon White is the real surprise stretching beyond traditional Bluegrass to be a real charmer in almost a Steve Earle Texan Country meets Blues type way as well as some sweet Christian couple stories of faith that would have been commonplace in Country of the 50’s and 60’s. If one had lost faith that marriage could be a faith building partnership this might bring the possibilities that can exist.

“I Run To You”, “Love Can’t Ever Get Better”

sturgill simpson metamodern4 – Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music [High Top Mountain / Thirty Tigers]

Sturgill Simpson reminds one how cool stripped down Country Music like the Bakersfield sound is. It’s like the third coming of Buck Owens. I think he has a little more Texas in his groove. Dwight Yoakum was kind of the same thing back when “Guitars & Cadillacs” hit MTV instead of Great American Country. Dwight made it with the LA Punk Rock crowd and Sturgill is hitting it big with the Alternative Festival scene. The great thing is Nashville likes Sturgill too. So, maybe this kind of Country does have a chance in this Twisted Sister era of Country Radio.   A great voice, great songs and a cracker jack band will not be denied.

“Turtles All The Way Down”, “Living The Dream”

steelisn  615 to fame3 –Steelism – 615 to Fame [Single Lock Records]

Okay, this may not be number one on the list, maybe because you can’t put an instrumental album there? This has got to be the coolest album on the list. I first heard Spencer Cullum [Jr.] and his brother after I found out that The Deadstring Brothers were playing at The Basement a half dozen years ago. Their album Sao Paulo had just come out and it was the best thing this side of Exile On Main Street. I figured not many people had heard of The Deadstring Brothers but The Basement was packed. I talked to Spencer at that show and found out the band had moved to Nashville. After seeing Spencer craft about any tone on his pedal steel into liquid gold, I thought they better never let this guy leave for Britain. We need him here. What a great band! What a great musician! Watching this band on YouTube play “Linus & Lucy” like a countrified Ventures project is pure Nirvana. I want to hear Steelism plays Zappa. I want to hear Steelism play Ventures. I want to hear them any chance I get.

“The Landlocked Surfer”, “Marfa Lights”

derobert and the half truths im tryin2 –DeRobert & The Half Truths – I’m Tryin, [G.E.D. Soul Records]

This GED Soul gem came out early in the year and may be a little lost in the shuffle as we tend to remember summer through fall as new releases. This album solidifies GED Soul as a major player in the retro Soul stack that includes Broken Bones, Daptones and even Back to Black Winehouse. DeRobert proves to have great vocal chops and solid pitch. There is something soulful but very sunny about DeRobert’s grooves. GED Soul gets together solid engineering and mixing that sounds great on the turntable. I personally like this over the much more publicized and still great St. Paul & The Broken Bones material. Just keep pouring on great arrangements and songs and DeRobert will not be denied.‏ Bonus- The Batman Building featured prominently on the cover.

“Ooo Wee”, “Get On It”, “I’m Tryin’”

???????????????????????????????????????1 –Ray Price – Beauty is…The Final Sessions [Amerimonte LLC]

Ray Price worked with studio veteran Producer Fred Foster to put forth true blood, sweat, tears, money, guts, glory…I could go on. This was a love letter mostly to his wife, but, it was the final effort of a man in his 80’s with cancer known as one of the greatest voices ever laboriously getting the best take and building a Countrypolitan opus with strings and everything great about the Country crossover hits that come out in the 60’s. Ray may have been honored by Oxford American in their Texas issue this year, but this album is pure Nashville as Ray made several trips to Tennessee to complete Beauty is… Ray was a man on a mission to make one great final album and he succeeded.

“An Affair To Remember”, “I Wish I was 18 Again”

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom
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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