Articles and Interviews – 2014
Before Ray Price died - just over one year ago, on Dec. 16, 2013 - he told his wife, Janie, that she would have to carry on his legacy by going out, promoting the album that he had just recorded, "Beauty Is…," and visiting with his legions of fans. He told me, Janie says, "you're gonna be the closest thing to me that people are going to want to reach out to."
Janie Price, who married the singer on June 11, 1970, started going out on the road to promote "Beauty Is…" and to visit with Ray's fans in April 2014. Ever since, she's been on the road almost nonstop. "It's given me a reason for getting up in the morning."
John Fullbright didn' grow up around musicians or like-minded songwriters in his little hometown of Bearden, Okla. You'd never know it, though, from his raw, stark, pure and honest songwriting that's drawn comparisons to Townes Van Zandt.
His debut album, "From the Ground Up," was nominated for a 2013 Grammy as the Best Americana Album, catapulting him into the company of Bonnie Raitt, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers and The Avett Brothers.
Fullbright's new album, "Songs," reinforces the simple complexity of his powerful lyrical talents; much like Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" or most any of Guy Clark's albums, he captures forlornness, despair, hope and beauty in unadorned arrangements floating on the power of his guitar, piano and plainspoken voice.
Jake Brown can't stop writing about music. Over the past 10 years, he's published 35 books, ranging from "Rick Rubin: In the Studio" and "Suge Knight: The Rise, Fall and Rise of Death Row Records" to "Heart: In the Studio." In 2012, he won the Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards in the category of Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.
With his new book, "Nashville Songwriter: The Inside Stories Behind Country Music's Greatest Hit," Brown turns to country music and the writers behind the hits. He gathers original interviews with 20 songwriters ranging from Freddy Powers, who co-wrote "I Always Get Lucky With You" with Merle Haggard and Sonny Curtis, the pen behind the iconic pop and country hit "I Fought the Law" to Tom T. Hall, Chris DuBois (the writer of many Brad Paisley hits and also of Mark Willis' "19 Somethin'") and Ashley Gorley, whose first number one happened to be Carrie Underwood's "Don't Forget to Remember Me."
Perhaps there are few more beloved names in the world of country and bluegrass music than Ricky Skaggs and his wife Sharon of the country music family act The Whites. The two have been close friends since their teenage years through music, first meeting at a festival where White was performing with her father Buck White and sister Cheryl and Skaggs was performing with Keith Whitley.
Taking a second look at the two-album deal he had recently signed with the Rounder/Concord group, and then at his busy upcoming touring schedule, Jerry Douglas suddenly realized he didn't have a lot of time to waste. The first album, "Three Bells," a collaboration with fellow resophonic guitar (aka "Dobro") titans Rob Ickes of Blue Highway and the late Mike Auldridge was pretty much ready to go, the sessions having been completed shortly before Auldridge's passing in December 2012 following a lengthy struggle with cancer.
Trampled By Turtles is an indie folk group, an alt.-country band or a bluegrass act - depending on how you choose to look at them. Perhaps it's best to view the outfit as the ultimate combo platter consisting of just about everything that's good about American music. They play wonderfully, yet they also write intelligent songs that draw everyone from Townes Van Zandt to Nirvana to Ralph Stanley. It's all good, and some (or all) of these influences can be spotted in most of Trampled By Turtles' enjoyable sounds.
If you move in alt.-country/Americana circles, you simply cannot get away from the name Parker Millsap. He's certainly one of the biggest buzz artists of 2014. Better still, his self-titled album lives up to all the hype.
He's a smart songwriter and a passionate singer and is essential listening for anybody looking for high quality contemporary music.
What a difference a year can make. Last year, Sturgill Simpson was overly anxious about the arrival of his debut album, "High Top Mountain." This year, Simpson is simultaneously anticipating the birth of his debut child and his just-released sophomore album, "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music," and his mood couldn't be more relaxed and joyous.
What is not expected is for a virtually unknown artist, turning 19 on the day before her album release and finishing high school during the recording of the album, to be the featured artist, with Dolly Parton, Vince Gill and the late Ray Price lending not only their vocals, but also their most-beloved standards in country music.
In October 2010, The Secret Sisters released their down home country meets the Everly Brothers debut to much acclaim. Positive reviews ensued. Having T Bone Burnett executive produce your introduction to the music world didn't hurt. Laura and Lydia Rogers hit the road hard, opening dates for the likes of Ray LaMontagne.
The Rogers sisters may not have enjoyed any hits from their self-titled disc, but they put their name on the map.
Levi Lowrey is best known for co-writing "Colder Weather," a number one hit, and "The Wind," both for his friends, Zac Brown Band. Lowrey also wrote "Day For The Dead," from last year's "The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1." In fact, Lowrey is often on the road opening for the group, but he also has his own career going. Lowrey just released his third disc, a self-titled effort on Brown's label, Southern Ground.
Lowrey began as a fiddle player, following in the family footsteps. His great-great-grandfather, the late Gid Tanner, was also a fiddle player with Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, one of the most prominent string bands of the Twenties and Thirties. Lowrey went with the family instrument, playing in school orchestra, bluegrass festivals and weekly jam sessions in his hometown of Dacula, Ga. and with various relatives.
Lowrey released his first disc in 2008 and later joined the bluegrass band Cadillac Sky in 2010, staying until the band split only three months later.
Country Standard Time recently caught up with Lowrey by phone at his home in Dacula to talk about his new album and his life.
Rosanne Cash may be the daughter of a famous country music icon, but like her late father, Cash is an artist first, and ‘country artist' is just one of the many labels applied to what she does. She's first and foremost a songwriter, and her latest album, "The River & the Thread," touches upon country, folk, blues and even gospel styles, with a lyrical focus that placed Cash face to face with her Southern roots.
The inspiration for what eventually became Cash's "The River & The Thread" album partially had its genesis with one particular song that eventually landed on the recording.
It is now more than 20 years since a pre-teenaged Ralph Stanley II (known since childhood by his family, friends and musical peers as "Two") first appeared on stage as part of the Clinch Mountain Boys, the band formed by his father Ralph and late uncle Carter Stanley.
Following Carter's passing in 1966, the roster of talents who took his place on lead vocals and guitar included Larry Sparks, Roy Lee Centers, Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley (who would become an inspirational figure for the younger Ralph). As the years rolled on, Ralph II earned his own slot in the band as lead vocalist, produced himself on a string of solo albums (two of which, "Stanley Blues" and "Carrying On" earned Grammy nominations), and started a family that now includes a daughter, Taylor, and a son named – of course – Ralph III.
For 25 years, Gerry House spent every weekday morning in people's living rooms. As the host of the much-loved and much-acclaimed morning show, Gerry House and the House Foundation, House reigned on the airwaves on Nashville's WSIX-FM from 1983-2010, taking a brief hiatus to work for WSM-AM in Nashville and for KLAC in Los Angeles.
As a DJ, he's won numerous awards for his radio work from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. House interviewed many of country music's most visible artists; at the same time, he was writing or co-writing songs for folks like Reba McEntire (Little Rock), LeAnn Rimes (On the Side of Angels), George Strait (The Big One), Pam Tillis (The River and the Highway) and Clint Black ("Nothing But Taillights").
Expectations of being a "Carter Girl" - the way Carlene Carter refers to herself with her latest album title - must be extremely daunting at times. "It's as difficult as you want to make it," Carter explains. "I've always just embraced the fact that I was born into this family and very proud to be part of it."
However, much like her mother, June Carter Cash, Carlene has always been a free spirit and fiercely individualistic.
To take a page from Judy Collins' notebook, Lydia Loveless has seen life from both sides now. After a childhood in tiny Coshocton, Ohio, a move to Columbus and a gig playing bass in her family's new wave/rock band as a teenager, Loveless set out on her own musical path at the age of 17. In 2010, the 20-year-old Loveless released her debut album, "The Only Man," which was critically acclaimed, but just barely heard by the general public.
Mary Chapin Carpenter's songs have always transcended the mundane, whether through the introspective songs about life and death on albums like "The Age of Miracles" or "The Calling" or in the humorous ways she laughs at fate in songs such as I Feel Lucky
or The Bug
in order to show the chinks in our mortal facades. Her music has often helped us get beyond ourselves to see the places where real meaning lies, whether we decide to embrace such meaning or not.
It's the Voice. Rhonda Vincent has been wrapping her soaring, golden-throated vocals around bluegrass tunes for a couple of decades now. The International Bluegrass Association named her Female Vocalist of the Year seven years running (2000-2006), and named her IBMA Entertained of the Year in 2001. From 2002-2006, Vincent carried home the Entertainer of the Year award from The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass (SPBGMA). Early in her career, Vincent also recorded several country albums, before returning to bluegrass.