Apr
1

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goodbye is all we have…

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On March 7, 2012, I started yet another blog that I thought for sure would be doomed to the same negligence and obscurity that befell the others. Instead, it totally and completely changed my life. I will be forever grateful.

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Oct
6

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Jim Lauderdale On ‘This Changes Everything’ and a Lifetime – Interview

Jim Lauderdale has never been one without a sense of humor. Over fifteen years of hosting the Americana Music Awards, Lauderdale has had to ad lib in comic moments to fill time during inevitable delays of set changes and live programming. But the North Carolina School of Arts theater major, who once portrayed George Jones in a play about Tammy Wynette (with the Possum watching), outdid himself onstage at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

As the featured guest of the museum’s ongoing songwriter series, Lauderdale seemed like the perfect person to talk about the craft of writing songs. He brought with him thirty-something years of credits for George Strait, Patty Loveless, Lee Ann Womack, Vince Gill, and the Dixie Chicks – among others. But Lauderdale, who also has a plethora of co-writes with Elvis Costello, John Oates and Robert Hunter, had a surprise. He announced he would be interviewing himself and proceeded to play both moderator and interviewee.

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Sep
29

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Margo Price’s Very Good Week

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Around 2:00 at Farm Aid, the sounds of Margo Price’s “Tennessee” began filtering out of the cavernous Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater. The sounds were of an impending jam about to unfold with the melting pot of the Price Tags’ keys, drums and bluesy howls of Willie Nelson’s harmonica player Mickey Raphael underscoring the foreboding mood of the song. It sounded as epic as you could get for an early afternoon.

Of any of the day’s performers, Price’s life story most closely paralleled the plight of the family farmer as well as Farm Aid itself. Price was just two when the first Farm Aid occurred. As she told the audience before her second song “Hands of Time,” it was the same year her family lost their farm. “I want to buy back the farm,” Price lamented in her signature song. “I want to turn back the cruel hands of time.”

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Sep
27

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Lydia Loveless’ Postcards From The Road

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Back in the day, it was kind of fun when you’d go to a live show and hear the band announce that you were going to be on a live album recorded that night. The thought crossed my mind watching Lydia Loveless, when she stepped on Mountainstage in Charlestown for a taping of a forthcoming West Virginia Public Broadcasting radio program.

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Sep
24

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The Ostrich Flies Away: A Tribute To Devarati Ghosh

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Credit: Billboard Country Update

Tuesday felt like a bad dream. I woke up earlier than usual, glancing at my phone to check my notifications. I logged onto Twitter, and found myself tagged in a thread that suggested one of my friends, and a wonderful human being, had mysteriously passed away.

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Sep
23

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At Farm Aid, The Seeds of Revolution

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Let it be said here that this was the day when we may look back on when the revolution was declared. Or as Neil Young said on the morning of Saturday, September 17, “The Better Food Revolution.”

Young appeared at his 31st Farm Aid like he was Mayor of the Earth, the planet’s five letters all in uppercase emblazoned EARTH on his black t-shirt. Young was decrying big agriculture for selling food that’s been degraded, taking a shot at Barack Obama. “Even your president supports it.”

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Sep
6

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Margo Price’s Surreal Year

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When news came out this week that Margo Price and Sturgill Simpson did not receive any CMA nominations, fans of country music were left scratching their heads—again.

“Maybe I’d be smarter if I just played dumb,” Price posted on her Facebook page, a sarcastic reference pulled from her song “This Town Gets Around,” a stinging indictment of Music Row.

It was just another chapter in the surreal year of 2016. The singer went from selling nearly every last possession in order to fund and release a stunning debut Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. It debuted in the top ten of Billboard’s country albums chart and landed her on Saturday Night Live. By the time she got to the Newport Folk Festival, Price realized the musical highlight of her career, singing “Me and Bobby McGee” alongside its legendary writer Kris Kristofferson. Price will finish her summer appearing with Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Sturgill Simpson during Farm Aid.  A week later she will attend the Americana Music Association Awards in Nashville, where she is nominated for Best New Artist.

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Aug
30

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Shane McAnally, This Is Your Life

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Shane McAnally motions up to the stage where Josh Osborne, one of his writing partners, is sitting. It’s a Saturday afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville where McAnally is the featured honoree of the museum’s ongoing Poets & Prophets series. They were going to sing “Merry-Go-Round” when McAnally said it must seem odd that Kacey Musgraves, who was sitting in the audience, wasn’t onstage. He hadn’t given her a heads up he’d be calling on her but then asked her to come up and sing harmony. The elegant Musgraves obliged. Just as she sat down, McAnally disappeared to leave Musgraves and Osborne to sing the song together.

“Welcome to what it’s like with Shane,” Osborne said, deadpan.

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Aug
20

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Lydia Loveless ‘Real’ – Album Review

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The first time I heard “Bilbao” from Lydia Loveless’ new album ‘Real,’ it was like I was hearing a voice repeating inside my head. As I felt the emotions swelling, I could hear the whispered line from 10cc’s great pop song “I’m Not In Love” repeating “Big boys don’t cry… big boys don’t cry.” The reverie puts you in a trance and when things come to a climactic bridge, her voice soars to majestic heights, wrapped around a wall of sound that feels like she’s reaching the pinnacle of her career. And when she comes back with a killer one-lite fade out, it just about does you in, in a few spectacular minutes that sum up all the attributes of the great expansiveness of ‘Real.’ I just cried inside – I admit it.

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