Archives for posts with tag: Ricky Skaggs
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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Tristen performing at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tristen performing at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

2013 proved to be a year where Nashville didn’t make as  big an impact nationally as it should have with no major album from either Country or Nashville sub-genres making any real impact on any national or international best-of lists from Rolling Stone Magazine [other than Keith Urban noted] to Mojo or anything else in-between.

It’s not that there were not any releases with big expectations from our region, but apparently they didn’t catch on nationally or internationally for that matter. Missing in action on the best of lists were Kings Of Leon, Paramore, Jack White, The Black Keys, Taylor Swift and pretty much every record that Nashville Scene listed as the best this year including releases by Tristen and Diarrhea Planet.

Zac Brown continues to chart his own path in the Country music scene with his Southern Ground Festival, Southern Ground group of artists that is now headquartered in Nashville  and charting records that have more to tell; just recently putting out the Dave Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, the problem is, can one list a four song EP as an album? As an artist, I definitely can give Zac kudos for songwriting, performance and outright tenaciousness.

MODOC, Soulshine Pizza, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

MODOC, Soulshine Pizza, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

It’s not to say that these were not good records, but it shows the deepening divide between well crafted music and the ability to get it out there in some way where it becomes part of the collective consciousness and not just affect the local pub crawl or mini festival.

Most stateside best-of lists had Vampire Weekend at or near the top of their lists whereas in the rest of the world they might have made the Top ten in one major publication and barely scratch the Top 40 in other important music rags and blogs outside the United States.

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Rolling Stone probably had one of the most bi-polar lists that included everything from real music artists to “entertainers” such as Miley Cyrus – Bangerz in their Top 40 list whereas Miley Cyrus isn’t on any major serious list outside the United States. Henry Rollins had a polite way of putting it this way: there is a lot of stuff that Rolling Stone writes about that isn’t on his radar.  Rolling Stone has gotten so far away from its original intent that the 360 label controlled deal signed Entertainers make the front cover regularly as well as politicians and a great amount of type space is spent driving home the Editors personal political point of view. I can’t fault them completely; there is the occasional Ginger Baker or Merle Haggard interview perfection. They even have a great local Nashville writer, Adam Gold, who doesn’t really get to write that much about the real Nashville. In a town where a 1600 word piece could be written every week about records being made and shows being played by regional Artists, nine out of ten articles are reviews of the previous Nashville TV Show plot.  Why don’t they give Adam free reign and really show what this town has to offer?

Tim Easton & JD Simo at Grimey's 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tim Easton & JD Simo at Grimey’s 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

As far as America’s perception of Nashville, I can’t fault the Nashville TV Show. There are some great aspects that I enjoy such as the cityscape backdrops and watching the “Live” performances to see who is playing in the band as well as T Bone Burnetts choices for locally written music. I always like to see folks like Colin Linden or Jim Lauderdale on the small screen!  I am still waiting to see JD Simo, Kenny Vaughan or maybe Dave Roe. Of course, if they put Joe Fick on there, he would probably steal the thunder away from the movie star. Honestly, Hayden Panetierre does really well playing a damaged girl that is trying to do her best to be good / bad at the same time. She has a heart of gold and a heart of stone that makes yin and yang seem as normal as Corned Beef Hash and Shrimp and Grits on the same plate. It just seems that when she tries to do something good she ends up screwing it up. I’m not sure if she is suppose to be bi-polar or her Mother smoked crack while she was in the womb but she sure does need the reassurance of her fans.

Mojo is probably the best music major publication in the world and they managed to have a list that was almost devoid of pop schlock and had an Artist, Bill Callahan – Dream River at number one that didn’t even make a stateside list.

In Mojo, Memphis inspired Mavis Staples – One True Vine sat at number 21 whereas it was not featured on any lists in any major American publications. What used to be true is still true, foreign music fans seem to appreciate real American Artists more than we do ourselves. Guy Clark’s My Favorite Picture Of You  as well as Jason Isbell’ Southeastern cracked some great lists without making a whisper on any stateside lists outside of Americana specific publications.

lorde pure heroineOkay, the Artist that probably really got the short end of the stick in all the lists was Lorde. Lorde’s Pure Heroine probably had more impact than any other record this year whether I like it or anybody else does. Lorde has already been ripped off by K-Tel style sound-a-like commercials for Boss and Victoria’s Secret.  They ripped her off as blatantly as if somebody had tried to write a commercial that sounded like “Honky Tonk Women” or “Brown Sugar” back in the day and just call it advertising Muzak. Lorde definitely brings more to the table than Lady Gaga’s “Fashion” going after David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” instead of previous attempts at Madonna’s eighties catalog.

Okay, as far as local goes. I think Nashville Scene got it right for the most part, but, what about Ricky Skaggs or Modoc’s new albums?  There is a much larger alternative scene in Nashville than even where Nashville Scene went with its own list.

DeRobert & the Half Truths at The High Watt 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

DeRobert & the Half Truths at The High Watt 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Although regional albums didn’t seem to impact national lists this year, there are prospects coming up in 2014. For one, Nikki Lane has those Dan Auerbach produced tracks still waiting for a drop date. GED Soul is putting out their first full length vinyl, De Robert & The Half Truths – I’m Tryin’ on January 14th. Jack White is putting out new music by The Dead Weather.  One could hope for a new Kenny Vaughan album or even a revolutionary new Country album like Miranda Lambert’s Revolution  or how about a historical Live recording like Jerry Lee Lewis Live at Third Man from a couple of years ago.

Probably my biggest anticipated Nashville area release will be the new Mike Farris album which has been a couple of years in the making and should get a release date some time in 2014.

With the prospect that album buying is an ever shrinking source of revenue and has started to become a vanity project for almost everybody but a major label 360 signed Artist / Entertainer /  Dancer / Avatar, will the “best of” album lists start to disappear and be replaced by the “best live” performances since that is where the hopes for revenue are? I can’t answer that one. I still buy CD’s and vinyl and I don’t buy shrill sounding MP3’s. That is my line in the sand. I like liner notes, credits and photos so downloads don’t do much for me.

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

It seems that music in people’s lives is as important as ever, yet twenty million views on You Tube might only translate into 80,000 units sold.  In this kind of environment, an Artist might be safer to build a following in a sub-genre such as Americana, Blues or Bluegrass and tour on that specific festival circuit rather than to try to get a grass roots following on some new angle of Indie music and try to build up from the clubs. The prospect of never getting bigger than the clubs and eternally couch surfing are enormous in the current all-music –should- be- free- to- listen- to conundrum.

I have to admit that bands are becoming creative.  The Cult talks about sending out “capsules” of music in the future such as three new songs every quarter. Jack White has printed different band names on the CD’s he has taken on tour to sell to make collectibles out of “tour bought” merchandise. Infinity Cat has put out different covers or changed up colored vinyl to keep its catalog collectible among label followers. Creative marketing is as important as creative songwriting nowadays. A limited quantity of whatever seems to be a “buy” even though it may only bring in a limited amount of money.

Will there ever be a big budget grandiose masterpiece like Rumours or Dark Side of The Moon in the future? Maybe not but, if so, it would probably come out of a big budget Kickstarter campaign for a complete vanity piece that may only sell 20,000 units due to current radio formats and the free listening or subscription services now available. If there are less units of such a great masterpiece out there than the original Ramones album, will it be found and enjoyed 20 years down the road?

I can’t give up on the fact that somehow the music business will survive in some fashion that will keep creative people out there producing something new. I love going to see a band live but, will there ever be a budget for Quincy Jones style production on real music and not the flavor of the month?

Anyways, my best of list is based on a couple of criteria. I like it and it is regional, as in, from the south or with ties to the south and not necessarily middle Tennessee. I’ll keep it to ten because there are 20 and 30 and 40 lists; why not just make it essential?

andy t nick nixonNumber 10: The Andy T Band and Nick Nixon – Drink Drank Drunk

Andy T has been a regular guitar slinger on the blues scene all around town after arriving here via California and Houston, Texas. Nick Nixon is a native son following in the tradition of the Jefferson Street scene. This mix of a stew of standards produced and mixed by Texan Anson Funderburgh was the strongest Nashville Blues record out this year with a definite Gatemouth Texas Swing Blues influence and got the two with their band on Blues Festivals nationwide in 2013. Stand-out tracks: “Midnight Hour” “Drink Drank Drunk” “Have You Seen My Monkey?”

ricky skaggs bruce hornsby coverNumber 9: Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby – Cluck Ol’ Hen Live

Ricky Skaggs has been an Ambassador of Bluegrass to the world and his collaboration with Bruce Hornsby on piano turned out to be one of the greatest live events of the past few years. This recording captured from a couple of those shows features some great jamming with Bruce Hornsby kind of going to the roots after having toured with The Grateful Dead years ago. The in-between banter gives the feel of really being there. Stand-out tracks: “How Mountain Girls Can Love” “The Way It Is” “The Dreaded Spoon.”

MODOC_AlbumArtNumber 8: MODOC

MODOC has had great song placement in the last year or so that has put their music on television.  MODOC just plain rocks and “Runnin” has been all over the local airwaves. This album still has some legs after its release in August and will get a vinyl release after the first of the year. The Indiana natives have really stuck to their guns since arriving in Nashville about three years ago and have really improved their song craft and play every date they can.  A solid album is the pay dirt. Stand – out tracks: “Runnin” “Coward” “I Want You”

patty griffin american kidNumber 7: Patty Griffin – American Kid       

You could say Patty Griffin is from Austin and you could say that Robert Plant is from England, but let’s be real, they spend a lot of time here in Nashville and therefore are just as much Nashvillian as most of us who come from everywhere from California to Australia and spend perhaps a good majority of our lives here in pursuit of musical nirvana.  This may be Patty’s current album as the reigning Queen of Americana, but Robert makes enough guest appearances to let you know he is there without calling it a duet album. The North Mississippi Allstars make an appearance as well. Stand-out tracks “Don’t Let me Die In Florida,” “Ohio” and “Highway Song.”

jason isbell southeasternNumber 6: Jason Isbell – Southeastern

215 reviews and this album is still five stars on Amazon. Southeastern should be on every Top ten list this year.  Unfortunately, this was mostly shunned by American media while in Britain and Europe, where The Drive By Truckers were treated like The Rolling Stones, this gets what it deserves. Muscle Shoals will live on forever and Jason is definitely one of the favorite sons.  There are guest spots by Kim Richey (“Stockholm”) and Amanda Shires on “Travelling Alone.” There are a couple of southern rockers but most of this set would go over well at The Bluebird Cafe. Stand-out tracks “Flying Over Water,” “New South Wales,” and “Super 8.”

tim easton not coolNumber 5: Tim Easton – Not Cool

Tim encapsulizes everything cool about Nashville in one album that includes members of Robert’s regulars from The Don Kelley Band, Joe Fick [The Dempseys} on bass and JD Simo on guitar. The recording puts you front and center listening to real new Nashville Honky Honk music. What a concept! People travel from all over the world to hear it, so why not put it out to the airwaves.  If you missed the in-store that featured JD on guitar at Grimey’s, you missed one of the best in-stores of 2013. The songwriting has some gritty stories and moves things out past toney East Nashville to Riverside.  The old plywood acoustic sits in the middle of the mix. This one sits somewhere between Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and John Mellencamp’s Sun records effort a couple of years ago.  Stand out tracks include “Little Doggie (1962)” and “Four Queens.” “Troubled Times”

north mississippi allstars world boogieNumber 4: North Mississippi Allstars – World Boogie Is Coming

What can you say when the first two tracks start out with Robert Plant on harmonica recorded at Royal in Memphis? The Dickinsons along with Lightnin’ Malcolm are taking us for a ride through Holly Springs on this essentially covers album that plays out like a Midsummer Night’s Dream where R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough are still alive and Junior’s Place is still open for all night jams and ribs. Although Blues can let out your frustrations, this one puts on a smile and gets your groove going. Stand-out tracks

“Snake Drive,” Meet Me In The City” and “Goin’ To Brownsville.”

diarrhea planet artwork 2013Number 3: Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Diarrhea Planet is probably the best live show in Nashville right now, especially if you like guitar. They one up Lynyrd Skynyrd with four guitars. I repeat, FOUR GUITARS!  Watching them is like watching a Jack Black music skit on SNL, but the guitar work is pretty good and they are always entertaining and have some strong music that is designed for live consumption. Stand out tracks:  “Separations” “Ugliest Son” “The Sound Of My Ceiling Fan”

guy clark my favorite picture of youNumber 2: Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture Of You

Guy Clark pays tribute to his wife and wears his heart on his sleeve and his favorite picture of his wife on the cover. My Favorite Picture of You is an introspective soul searching masterpiece that makes one stop after every song and process the lyrics they just listened to. If Nashville is about songwriting then this is this year’s litmus test. Stand-out tracks, “My Favorite Picture of You” “Cornmeal Waltz”“Heroes”

tristen cavesNumber 1: Tristen – Caves

Tristen proves a point that you can follow your muse no matter what style in Nashville and create something cohesive, beautiful and unique. If this doesn’t become the huge record it should then it will become a cult album that everybody will want to show their friend and turn them onto. If Mojo ever gets a hold of this one, Tristen will be over in England and Europe playing to sold out crowds for the next year and it will be tough to ever see her play in the backyard at The Groove on Record Store Day again.  Tristen comes from the world where Pop means great songs like The Beatles, The Smiths, Fleetwood Mac or Blondie. Stand out tracks: “No One’s Gonnna Know” “House of War” “Dark Matter” “Monster”

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

Interviews with Dierks Bentley, Ricky Skaggs and many more –

Dierks Bentley during Simply Bluegrass taping, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Dierks Bentley during Simply Bluegrass taping, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Larry Black gathered some of the most well-known names in Bluegrass Music to record live for the Gabriel Communications’ series Country’s Family Reunion to be titled Simply Bluegrass featuring Ricky Skaggs and Bill Anderson as co-hosts with musical guests that have spanned decades.

Larry Black, Ricky Skaggs & Bill Anderson at Simply Bluegrass taping, photo - Brad Hardisty

Larry Black, Ricky Skaggs & Bill Anderson at Simply Bluegrass taping, photo – Brad Hardisty

Ricky Skaggs explained that it took over two years to put this together. Larry Black added, “Well, it took two years to get Ricky convinced to do it.” Ricky, after a quick laugh explained, “It took two years to where I could get my schedule to where I could do it.  But, you know we started talkin’ about doin’ this a couple of years ago. We started trying to plug in bands and people and availabilities and that kind of thing and I am so glad we did.

Rhonda Vincent, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Rhonda Vincent, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Lee Gibson of The Gibson Brothers shared, “It’s a bit surreal to sit there and I’m sitting so close to Ramona Jones who since I was a young boy before I became musical at all, was a part of our entertainment and our life on Hee Haw or when I watched any kind of Country Music Awards Show you would see Grandpa [Jones] and Ramona. I never thought I would be in the same room let alone standing there and singing a song in front of her.

Sierra Hull at Simply Bluegrass, photo - Brad Hardisty

Sierra Hull at Simply Bluegrass, photo – Brad Hardisty

Ricky Skaggs working with Larry Black put an incredible roster together that included everybody from Ramona Jones and Del McCoury to Sierra Hull who has put out two great albums under the guidance and production of Alison Krauss.

Sam Bush, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Sam Bush, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Sam Bush known as part of the Newgrass movement beginning in the late 60’s – early 70’s said, “Well, for starters, we are fans of each other so I have already got to hear The Gibson Brothers. I have already got to hear Rhonda Vincent and at first I thought you had to have an AARP card to get in here but then fortunately, Sierra Hull showed up. I have been influenced by a lot of people in this room. I used to see The Osborne Brothers on television. The Osborne Brothers were really, really, so progressive in their day. They are overlooked. Obviously, I was influenced by Doyle Lawson. I was influenced by Ricky Skaggs to want to learn to play the mandolin because he started before I did. He is two years younger than me and I started to see him on local Bowling Green, Kentucky TV. Ricky Skaggs sat in with Flatt and Scruggs on their television show. So, when I saw this kid playing the mandolin I thought this was the greatest thing I had ever seen and I wanted to do it too. It’s nice that many are contemporaries and we get to play on the same gigs and stuff. So, that’s one of the nice things about it. We play a lot of festivals but, we get to “horse around” more today.

The Whites at Simply Bluegrass, photo - Brad Hardisty

The Whites at Simply Bluegrass, photo – Brad Hardisty

Sharon White, who is Ricky Skaggs’ better half and a long time member of The Whites said, “Well, we started out playing acoustic music, playing bluegrass music and I mean we still do a lot of concerts that are considered bluegrass concerts and we love these people. I think my favorite part about being here today is that I am a big fan of everyone in the room plus some of these men like Bobby Osborne and Jesse McReynolds, Del McCoury and Mac Wiseman are legends and to hear their stories and to be part of this day it is just a real blessing. You know it really just feels like a family. We love each other. We are fans of each other. It’s a great thing,” Sharon than added, “When I got here and everyone was seated, I told Larry Black, you can really tell this is a Bluegrass family reunion. Everybody is holdin’ their mandolin or guitar and everybody has their instrument because that such a part of being in Bluegrass.

Ricky Skaggs, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Ricky Skaggs, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Ricky Skaggs felt the best way to understand Bluegrass Music is to play it. Ricky said, “You really just got to play it. You know you can study it all day long but until you get your hands on it, it’s like a farmer; until he gets his hands in the dirt, he’s never going to know about farming!

Jerry Douglas says that his most favorite part of being one of the world’s greatest Dobro players is the performance and getting out on the road.  Jerry said, “I like playing live. You can’t take it back. In the studio, nowadays especially, it’s so easy to make something perfect and the idea as musicians is to make something as perfect as possible in the moment and I was good at it and learned a lot from it.

Jerry Douglas ay Simply Bluegrass, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Jerry Douglas ay Simply Bluegrass, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Jerry Douglas reminisced about how the live aspect used to be when Music Row was really Music Row in Nashville when he said, “I can remember walking down Music Row when there was snow. When Nashville used to get snow, remember that? I’d park my car at one studio and walk to two or three sessions back then.

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

Dierks Bentley, photo - Brad Hardisty

Dierks Bentley was probably the most mainstream current Country Artist in the room and he shared when he first really got an interest in Bluegrass Music saying, “I moved here to do country music when I was nineteen but, that same year I walked into a little bar called The Station Inn here in Nashville and my life kind of changed forever. I saw a band there called The Sidemen made up of different guys from The Del McCoury Band and The Osborne Brothers. It was a really special night that changed my life for me and I’ve been a big Bluegrass fan ever since.”

Dierks Bentley at Simply Grass, photo - Brad Hardisty

Dierks Bentley at Simply Grass, photo – Brad Hardisty

For Dierks it was a real community feeling that won him over and he said, “The authenticity of the music, real and honest, not just the music part but also the Bluegrass community is such a great community of folks: a real place to call home for a kid from Arizona. The whole community just took me in and I found myself at pickin’ parties and weddings and just a lot of cool, cool, things. It gave me a musical foundation. Terry Eldridge who sings with the band The Grascals was my mentor.  I paid five dollars for my Tuesday night door fee cover charge to get in and hear The Sidemen play so those were my lessons:  listenin’ to Terry and Ronnie McCoury who is up there on mandolin a lot. It really was a bluegrass education sitting there and listening to those guys play.

The Grascals at Simply Bluegrass taping, photo - Brad Hardisty

The Grascals at Simply Bluegrass taping, photo – Brad Hardisty

Dierks would eventually get his guitar out and learn some licks saying, “I went to a lot of picking parties. I would bring my Martin in my truck and it would stay in the case in the truck. I would be too nervous to get it out. I never wanted to get the guitar out of the back of my truck.  But, eventually I would get enough nerve to pull it out and play but, it’s never ending, even tonight just playing is just nerve racking playing in front of that audience.  It’s pretty cool to be a fly on the wall and just hang out and hear them tell stories just off the top of their head like they are just hanging out in their living room.

Bobby Osborne at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN, photo  courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Bobby Osborne at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Bobby Osborne will be marking 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2014 and shared how he and his brother decided to record “Rocky Top” which became a hit in 1967 and is the official song of University of Tennessee and of eight official songs of the state of Tennessee. Bobby was grateful to be a part of such a special historic taping and he said, “I have always been interested in the history of Bluegrass and Country music for that matter, you know, because I have always listened to Country and Bluegrass songs also. I’m very happy to be a part of this today. A lot of us are happy to be here today. We don’t get a chance to get together that often, you know, like we are today so, it’s really nice to be here and I am enjoying it very much. It’s really interesting to hear the stories that all of us have gathered in our minds through the years. It really is.”

Reno and Mac Wiseman at Simply Bluegrass, photo courtesy Gabriel Communications

Reno and Mac Wiseman at Simply Bluegrass, photo courtesy Gabriel Communications

Ricky Skaggs noted how spontaneous Bluegrass music is when he said, “This music is very organic. It changes every night. You never know what’s going to come. You never play a solo the same way twice. That’s what makes it fun. Every time Country loses its way and gets so far away from the center from what it should be then bluegrass music goes straight to the top because that is the alternative. That’s the real Country. Those were the records that we fell in love with and we learned as young kids and we loved those little “hickies” in a record that wasn’t perfect and we would make the same mistakes. You know, like Beatles fans will play the same mistakes and go to the wrong chord in the wrong place, where George or John might have played somethin’ totally different and these crazy Beatles groups like 1964 … the tribute bands. They will make the same mistakes just to keep the records right just because they love it, you know.

Rhonda Vincent and Dailey & Vincent warming up backstage at Simply Bluegrass, photo - Brad Hardisty

Rhonda Vincent and Dailey & Vincent warming up backstage at Simply Bluegrass, photo – Brad Hardisty

Ricky explained the real difference between Country and Bluegrass music by saying, “It’s built around a band. It’s not built around a lead singer. I mean you got to have a lead singer to sing the stuff but bluegrass that’s the difference in bluegrass and Country. Country is usually built as a band in the background and the lead singer is up front and he is doing his deal and they are just kind of supporting him. A bluegrass band, everybody is just as important. You got to have the mandolin, you got to have the fiddle, you got to have the guitar and you know obviously you got to have good singin’ and you got to have good playin but it is built around a band.

Del McCoury signing commemoratove poster, photo - Brad Hardisty

Del McCoury signing commemoratove poster, photo – Brad Hardisty

With this much talent in the room, the idea of collaboration had to come up and Ricky shared, “I am always up for something, I just had Jamie Johnson from The Grascals ask me to do something with them. They are going to re-record “Waitin’ For The Sun To Shine”, a song that I had hit with back in the eighties.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom