Bonnie ‘Prince’ talks Merle Haggard

Let’s face it, he’s probably still not going to beat Mel B’s version of “Word Up” in terms of classic covers but good on him for having a go. Rolling Stone reports: “Imagine arranging Merle Haggard’s millions of fans in concentric circles. In the outermost ring, place the casual listeners, the ones familiar with “Mama Tried,” some of the canonical 1960s material and maybe the hoopla around “Okie From Muskogee.” A slightly smaller – if still spacious – circle encompasses those who stuck with Haggard as long as country radio did; he scored his last Number One airplay hit as a solo artist in 1987. Next you enter into a circle of dedicated enthusiasts, the active listeners who have continued to hunt down and pore over Haggard’s LPs, and that’s where you’ll find Will Oldham, who records under the name Bonnie “Prince” Billy.  Continue reading “Bonnie ‘Prince’ talks Merle Haggard”

Loretta Lynn remains in hospital following stroke

News reported all over the place on the weekend, but just in case you missed it, Spin among many reports: “Country music legend Loretta Lynn suffered a stroke and was hospitalized Thursday evening, according to a post on her Facebook page. The “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was admitted to a Nashville hospital, after the incident occurred at her Hurricane Mills, Tennessee home. The 85-year-old singer, who achieved 70 charting songs throughout her career, remains in stable condition and is responsive, according to the post. She is expected to make a full recovery. Continue reading “Loretta Lynn remains in hospital following stroke”

Aimee Mann announces UK/Ireland dates

Aimee Mann’s ‘Mental Illness’ which was released at the end of March went straight to number one in the UK americana charts – we were rather keen on it too, calling her work “rarely less than exceptional, and this effort is no different” – and in celebration of our review (probably), she’s announced some European dates this October including three UK/RoI shows with tickets on sale from 9am on Monday.  Links are below and you can see the full list of her European dates over at her website hereContinue reading “Aimee Mann announces UK/Ireland dates”

Bob Cheevers “Fifty Years Sampler” (Howling Dog Records, 2017)

In recognition of a half century of songwriting Bob Cheevers has pulled together a comprehensive 5CD, 83 song retrospective which covers, it’s claimed, ten genres of music, and taking a mix of songs from his albums as well as some unreleased recordings. I’m not completely sure what the ten genres are meant to be but country, western, folk, popular jazz, blues, rock, and singer-songwriter are all represented here on this ten track sampler. What it reveals is a hugely accomplished songwriter, and an idiosyncratic singer in the Willie Nelson mode. Continue reading “Bob Cheevers “Fifty Years Sampler” (Howling Dog Records, 2017)”

Brock Zeman “The Carnival is Back in Town” (Busted Flat Records, 2017)

Canadian musician Brock Zeman has had an excellent career and shows no sign of slowing up his output with his thirteenth release, the highly ambitious ‘The Carnival Is Back In Town’. 10 years in the making the album has already been scrapped once but Brock decided that it was worth taking a chance on and teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Blair Hogan and drummer Dylan Roberts alongside a number of other talented musicians, to have another go at bringing his carnival to life and it was well worth both his time and the obvious effort that went into creating it. Continue reading “Brock Zeman “The Carnival is Back in Town” (Busted Flat Records, 2017)”

Uncut wants you to ask Steve Earle some questions

The lovely people at Uncut have a regular “An audience with..” feature where they get their readers to send in questions to musicians and next up is americana legend Steve Earle.  They prompt readers with suggestions such as How did get cast in The Wire?, What was life like growing up in Texas? and What’s the best advice Willie Nelson ever gave him?  Although a better question would be, was the Dixie Chicks’ Earl(e) Had to Die a coded attack on you?  And what’s the collective noun for a group of jellyfish?  Send your questions to uncutaudiencewith@timeinc.com before this Tuesday.  And in the meantime watch this performance from Earle earlier (someone who is even more like him?) this year including an epic and magnificent Trump rant. Continue reading “Uncut wants you to ask Steve Earle some questions”

Why country music sings about drugs

Great article in RS Country today on a subject dear to my heart (since my other “head” is being a researcher in this field – not so much field work mind you) on a new study which finds that country lyrics contain more references to weed, cocaine and meth than rock or rap.  They report: “Drug references in music could be heard as far back as the 1930s. Jazz musicians, bluegrass artists and swing bands were among the first to sing about drug use, though the mentions were mostly casual. It wouldn’t be until the 1960s when pop stars, folksters and rock bands would talk about pot, cocaine, heroin, speed and other mind-altering substances on a regular basis.  Continue reading “Why country music sings about drugs”

Joe Martin “Small World” (Independent, 2017)

Youthful Red Rose native Joe Martin has crossed the Pennines to begin his musical adventures from a West Yorkshire base, physically at least. Spiritually he’s rooted in the 1970s American singer-songwriter world of Don McLean, Jackson Browne and James Taylor. These songs amply demonstrate that he’s worthy of a seat at their high table. Continue reading “Joe Martin “Small World” (Independent, 2017)”