Monday, January 16, 2017

CD Review - Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Faster and Farther

Artist: Darin & Brooke Aldridge
Album: Faster and Farther
Label: Mountain Home Music
Release date: Feb. 10, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars Out Of Five

The North Carolinian husband and wife team of Darin and Brooke Aldridge have hit their stride with this outstanding new bluegrass release filled with incredible musicianship and rich harmonies. Faster and Farther, their sixth project for Mountain Home Music, has an infectious energy that has so much to like including:
- "Kingdom Come" and its frantic and desperate mandolin combined with the church-like choir on the chorus. It's soulful and the slowdown on the end draws you in like a film score. 
- Phenomenal dobro work throughout the project 
- Darin's Steve Wariner-like vocals on this River"
- Vintage Vince Gill back-up vocals on "Highway of Heartache"
- The familiarity and yet new interpretations on "Fit For a King" (Garth Brooks) and "Someday Soon" (Suzy Boguss/Moe Bandy) 
- The fantastic storytelling on "Eugene and Diane" of (timely) love-lost because of class/economic differences. (Editor's note: It's hard to find sad endings these days anywhere but in bluegrass.)
Yet it's the soaring and impeccable vocals of Brooke Aldridge that are the repeated highlights of the album. Her voice is commanding and match the production perfectly. Taking nothing away from Darin's tracks, each time Brooke takes the vocal reins, her beautiful delivery delivers on nearly every song. All in all, this is a project that delivers incredibly well and should be in a music collection for anyone who is a fan of modern bluegrass.

Willie Nelson To Release God's Problem Child In April

Artist: Willie Nelson
Album: God's Problem Child
Label: Legacy Recordings
Release date: April 2017

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magzine, Willie Nelson announced that this new LP, God's Problem Child, will come out in April and will feature many new songs that he wrote with producer Buddy Cannon, who has worked on several Nelson records in recent years.
"We have a system that works," Nelson says of working with Cannon. "I write a verse and he'll write a verse and next thing you know, we've got a song completed. Then we'll get a melody, and he'll go in the studio with a band to record it and put his vocal on there. Then when I get a chance, I go in the studio and I'll record my vocal. Over the years, we put out four or five albums. It's been really easy to do it that way."
One of Nelson's new originals is "Still Not Dead," which Nelson says he wrote "'cause I'm still not dead." "I got up two or three times in the last couple of years and read the paper where I'd passed away," he says.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New Music Video From Danny Gokey - "Better Than I Found It" (feat. Kierra Sheard)

Jessi Colter To Release The Psalms In March

Artist: Jessi Colter
Album: The Psalms
Label: Legacy Sony
Release date: March 24, 2017

Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release The Psalms, an all-new album from American country music legend Jessi Colter, on March 24, 2017. With lyrics drawn from timeless and sacred poems, these spiritual and personal recordings are spontaneous musical interpretations of the Old Testament songs attributed to the shepherd/poet/musician David. The Psalms is the first new album of Jessi Colter studio music since the release of the artist's Out Of The Ashes in 2006.

The core tracks for The Psalms--featuring Colter (piano and voice) and Lenny Kaye (electric and acoustic guitar)--were recorded at Dubway studios in Manhattan during two sessions (February 16-17, 2007 and January 4-5, 2008) nearly a decade ago. On The Psalms, the original tracks have been augmented with musical contributions from a variety of artists including Bobby Previte (drums, cymbals, tympani, triangle), Al Kooper (Hammond organ), Paul Dugan (arco bass), Mia Theodoratus (harp), John Jackson (mandolin, violin), Jenni Muldaur (background vocals), Jesse Lauter (mellotron), Black Sea Hotel (Willa Roberts, Sarah Small, Shelley Thomas) (background vocals).

In his enlightening liner notes and exegesis of The Psalms, penned especially for this release, Lenny Kaye recalls "One morning in 1995, while working with Waylon Jennings (Jessi's husband) on his autobiography in Nashville, I came into the living room to find Jessi Colter at the piano, singing the Psalms. She would place her fingers on the keys, forming simple chords and expressing melodies as they came to her. There was no forethought, no conception of composition; only the intuitive expression of the spirituality behind these most ancient of sacred poems, the divinity they wellspring within each of us. I listened transfixed while she paged through the Old Testament, choosing each Psalm, finding within them the emotive voice of the Shepherd Boy, the Warrior, ultimately the King that is David. It was one of the most beautiful expressions of belief I had ever witnessed."

"In the early months of 2007 I secured a studio with a good piano. There was no rehearsal. We would select a Psalm. She sat behind the keyboard, gathered herself, and then began to sing. There were one, perhaps two takes of each. Sometimes I accompanied her on guitar. Over the years I decorated them with chosen musicians, careful not to disturb their intimacy or their moment of improvised creation and inspiration."

"I am thrilled to work with Lenny Kaye and sing King David's Psalms, the most creative music I've ever done," says Jessi,  "...and the greatest challenge!"

Colter is an iconic American country music artist whose career began in the 1960s when, encouraged by her first husband, the mythic rock guitarist Duane Eddy ("Rebel Rouser"), she composed hit songs for Dottie West, Nancy Sinatra, Hank Locklin and others. Perhaps best-known for her musical collaborations with her second husband, Waylon Jennings, she rocketed to the top of the charts with her country-pop crossover hit "I'm Not Lisa" in 1975. In 1976, her contributions to the platinum-selling album Wanted: The Outlaws secured her place in American musical history as the premier bad-ass woman artist in the male-dominated "outlaw country music" sphere. She has fifteen major-label albums to her credit, and her songs and records have sold in the tens of millions.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cody Jinks Announces An Upcoming Pink Floyd Cover Release

Critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter Cody Jinks announced that he's releasing new music "soon" and this one is a unique cover to say the least- both in physical format and in the song that he'll be covering. The track is entitled "Wish You Were Here" and it's a Pink Floyd original from an album that was called the same originally released by in the mid-70's. The lyrics deal with the forces of "greed and ambition battling with compassion and idealism" according to songwriters David Gilmour and Roger Waters. The cover is a take from the lyrics of the song that say, "We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl." Click HERE to listen to the original.

When asked about the daunting task of covering such a legendary band on Facebook yesterday, Jinks replied, "Not something to take lightly to say the least. Beast of a band."

New Music Video From Jenny Gill - "Lonely Lost Me"

New Music Video From Dierks Bentley - "Black"

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Angaleena Presley Announces April Release Date For Wrangled

Artist: Angaleena Presley
Album: Wrangled
Label: Mining Light/Thirty Tigers
Release date; April 21, 2017

The talented one-third of the female supergroup Pistol Annies has announced her sophomore project will be coming out in the spring. Angaleena Presley will follow her acclaimed 2014 American Middle Class album with Wrangled, her second full-length solo album, on April 21 via Mining Light Music/Thirty Tigers. The album is co-produced by Angaleena and Oran Thornton and features 12 tracks, all of which were co-written by Presley.

The album features a special song co-penned by Presley and her late and dear friend Guy Clark entitled “Cheer Up Little Darling." Clark's Texas songwriting pedigree is stuff of legends. The song — the last song completed by Guy before his death — features Shawn Camp playing Guy's No. 10 guitar, which was used to write the song with Guy, and Guy’s mandola, which Guy had been learning to play during the last year of his life.

If there’s a pedigree for a modern country music star, then Angaleena Presley fits all of the criteria: a coal miner’s daughter; native of Beauty, Kentucky; a direct descendent of the original feuding McCoys; a one-time single mother; a graduate of both the school of hard knocks and college; a former cashier at both Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie.
“In this fast-paced day and age, it’s so hard for us to slow down and live in the moment,” Presley says. “I just hope my songs can be three minutes for a person to experience something in the moment, to connect, and to feel something, whether that be tragedy or joy or something in between. I want to tell the truth.”
In 2000, Presley moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she landed a publishing deal nine months later. Through her publisher she met Ashley Monroe, who later brought Presley's music to the attention of her friend, Miranda Lambert. The three artists began working together writing songs, which would later become Pistol Annies' debut album Hell on Heels, released in August 2011. The group spent much of the next two years touring North America and writing songs for their follow-up album. In May 2013, Pistol Annies released their second album Annie Up

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hear It Here: Natalie Hemby Play "Grand Restoration" From Puxico

Friend-of-the-blog and all-around fantastical writer Juli Thanki of The Tennessean had Natalie Hemby into the newspaper's "studio" where she played "Grand Restoration" a couple days ahead of the release of her promising new album release of Puxico. Click HERE to hear her play live.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Mavericks To Drop Brand New Day In Late March

Artist: The Mavericks
Album: Brand New Day
Label: Mono Mundo
Release date: March 31, 2017

The Mavericks have announced the March 31 release of Brand New Day, their first independent studio album on their own label Mono Mundo Recordings/Thirty Tigers. After years on major labels, The Mavericks chose to set a new course with the founding of Mono Mundo and the release of their first live album, 2016’s captivating All Night Live, Volume 1. On Brand New Day, the veteran band sets out to prove that they may have not even reached their apex yet.

The 10 songs that make up Brand New Day feature The Mavericks genre-defying style. The album opens with the tejano/bluegrass-inspired “Rolling Along”, which sets a tone before the wall-of-sound power of the title track thrusts the listener deep into the musical journey. From the ‘60’s flavored “Easy As It Seems” to the accordion-fueled shuffle of “I Will Be Yours” to the quieter soul of “Goodnight Waltz”, Brand New Day finds the band uncovering new sounds.

The Mavericks formed in Miami, FL in the late-1980’s, eventually moving to Nashville and launching what would be an incredible career that featured hits, sold out tours and the creation of a large and loyal fan base. The Mavericks created a one-of-a-kind sound that seamlessly blended elements of rock, Latino, folk, blues, country and more. Following a nine year hiatus, The Mavericks re-formed in 2012 going on to release two more highly acclaimed studio albums and toured relentlessly bringing their exhilarating live shows to longtime fans and new generations worldwide.

Led by the vocals of Raul Malo, the driving swing of drummer Paul Deakin, guitarist Eddie Perez and keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden, their unique style and sound cannot be neatly confined to any one genre or demographic, but has found its way onto several of our year-end favorites lists here at That Nashville Sound.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Sheryl Crow Announces Early Spring Release Of Be Myself

Artist: Sheryl Crow
Album: Be Myself
Label: Warner Brothers
Release date: late March or Early April

Be Myself, has been cut with her Nineties collaborators Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake, the team responsible for hits like "My Favorite Mistake" and "Everyday Is a Winding Road." In an interview with Rolling Stone, Crow talked about the upcoming project, a bit of a departure from her pure country record.
"I really wanted to get back to how I got started on my second record and third record," Crow says. "I wanted to revisit that sound and that feeling. It was a complete blast and the most effortless thing I've ever done."
"It began with Jeff and I saying, 'What would complete this?'" she says. "We both said, 'Tchad Blake!' I thought in a million years he wouldn't come over because he lives in Wales and I haven't seen him in 15 years. But I emailed him and he said, 'When do you want me there?' He flew over and stayed with me in an apartment over my garage. Every day at 5 p.m. we'd drink a Guinness. He went through cancer treatment a year ago, and so we both had that in common. It felt profoundly sweet having him and Jeff here."
 "As you get older you start making records that are more calculated and you're trying to compete with what you've done and not repeat yourself," she says. "You get more methodical and more analytical about the music and that doesn't necessarily make it better. I wanted to have the feeling I had when I made my first two records, which was like being a kid playing with my friends and writing about whatever came to mind."
What might be even more exciting, however, is the nugget in the interview that Crow has a second album that she's hoping to have out by the end of the year that includes some legends in it.  She has a project in the works collaborating with the likes of Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Kris Kristofferson and many others. Johnny Cash's estate has allowed her to cut a virtual duet with the Man in Black on "Redemption Day," a songs of hers he covered toward the end of his life. She hopes to get the album into stores near the end of the year.

New Music Video From Rodney Crowell - "It Ain't Over Yet" (featuring Rosanne Cash & John Paul White)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 Already Packed With Album Release Announcements

As we turn the page on the calendar, we look ahead at the future releases that are mapped out over the coming months and share the projects that are rumored to be in the works. Anything we're missing?

January 6
Ray Benson and Dale Watson - Ray and Dale (Red House)
Jason Eady and Courtney Patton - Something Together

January 13
Brantley Gilbert - The Devil Don't Sleep (Big Machine)
Blackie and The Rodeo Kings - Kings and Kings
Ray Cardwell - Tennessee Moon (Pinecastle)
Natalie Hemby - Puxico
Jeannie Seely - Written in Song (Smith Music Group)
Danny Gokey - Rise (BMG)
Band of Heathens - Duende (BOH Records)
The Infamous Stringdusters - The Laws of Gravity (Compass)
Otis Gibbs - Mount Renraw (Wanamaker)
The Wood Brothers - Live at the Barn (Thirty Tigers)
The Eagles - Lives of Outlaw Men: Live Pop Gala 1973 & California Jam 1974 (Iconography)
Ack Dyer - Silverado Signature Songwriter Series, Vol 1- (Silverado)
Dennis Coffey - Hot Coffey in the D: Burnin at Morey Baker's Showplace Lounge (Resonance)

January 20
Kasey Chambers - Dragonfly (Sugar Hill)

January 27
Whitney Rose - South Texas Suite (Six Shooter)
Tift Merritt - Stich of the World (Yep Roc)
Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough - Brigitte and Will: Mockingbird Soul (BDM)

February 3
LeAnn Rimes - Remnants (Thirty Tigers/RCA)
The Sadies - Northern Passages
Gurf Morlix - The Soul & the Heal
Reba McEntire - Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope (Nash Icon)

February 10
Darrell Webb Band - Lover's Leap (Mountain Fever)
Old Crow Medicine Show - Best of Old Crow Medicine Show
Wilson Fairchild – Songs Our Dads Wrote
Black Joe Lewis - Backlash
Dustin Collins - Dustin Collins EP (Rocket Tone)
Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Faster and Farther (Mountain Home)

February 17
Brad Paisley - Love and War (Arista Nashville)
Nikki Lane - Highway Queen (New West)
Son Volt - Notes of Blue (Thirty Tigers)
The Gibson Brothers - In The Ground
AJ Hobbs - Too Much Is Never Enough
Alison Krauss - Windy City (Capitol Records)

February 24
Aaron Watson - Vaquero (Big Ride)
Little Big Town - The Breaker (Capitol Nashville)
Rhiannon Giddens - Freedom Highway (Nonesuch)
Jamie Wyatt - Felony Blues (Forty Below)
George Jones – Birth of a Legend – The Truly Complete Starday and Mercury Recordings 1954-1961
Scott H Biram - The Bad Testament (Bloodshot)
Shinyribs - I Got Your Medicine
Old 97's - Graveyard Whistling
Christie Lamb - Loaded (Universal Music)
Curtis McMurtry - The Hornet's Nest (Self)
Leon Russell - Americana (Omnivore)
Leon Russell - Life and Love (Omnivore)
Leon Russell & New Grass Revival (Omnivore)

March 3
Guy Clark - Best of the Dualtone Years (Dualtone)
Sunny Sweeney - Trophy (Thirty Tigers)
Hurray for the Riff Raff - The Navigator (ATO)
Brad Paisley - Love and War (Arista Nashville)

March 10
Valerie June - The Order of Time (Concord)
Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - The Front Porch Sessions (Thirty Tigers)

March 24
Ruthie Foster - Joy Comes Back (Blue Corn Music)

March 31
Rodney Crowell - Close Ties (New West)
The Mavericks - Brand New Day (Mono Mundo)

April 17
Ray Scott - Guitar for Sale (SELF)

April 25
J.B. Beverly - Head South

Various Artists: Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records (TBA)

June 30
RaeLynn - Wildhorse (Warner Nashville)

Albums with "to be announced" release dates but presumed to be 2017:
David Lee Murphy - "No Zip Code" (independent)
Crystal Bowersox - "Promises" EP [Pledge Music]
Sarah Darling - Dream Country (Kickstarter)
Damn Davidsons- TBD (GoFundMe)
Drew Kennedy - At Home In The Big Lonesome (Atlas Aurora)
Rhonda Vincent and Daryle Singletary - Duets Project
Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne (2017 release)
Sam Hunt - TBA (MCA Nashville)
Luke Bryan - TBA (Capitol Nashville)
Lila McCann - Paint This Town (PledgeMusic)

Other Projects Rumored To Be In The Works:

Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck - TBD
Ashley Campbell - TBD
Ashley Gearing - TBD
Blue Sky Riders - TBD
Breaking Grass - TBD (Mountain Fever)
Brooke Eden - TBD (Red Bow Records)
Carolina Chocolate Drops - TBD
Catherine Britt - TBD (Universal/Lost Highway)
Charlie Worsham - TBD (Warner Bros. Records/Warner Music Nashville)
Chase Bryant - TBD (Red Bow Records)
Chase Rice - TBD (Dack Janiels Records/Columbia Nashville)
Chris Stapleton - TBA
Clare Dunn - TBA (MCA Nashville)
Clay Walker - TBA
Colter Wall - TBA
Craig Campbell - TBA (Red Bow Records)
Dallas Smith - TBA (Big Loud Records)
Danielle Bradbery - TBA (Big Machine Records)
David Fanning - TBA
Del McCoury - Woody Guthrie tribute album
Drew Baldridge - TBA (Cold River Records)
Ego Brothers (Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, and John Evans) - TBA
Eli Young Band - TBA (Valory Music Company)
Eric Paslay - TBA (EMI Nashville)
Gary Allan - TBA (MCA Nashville)
Gretchen Wilson - TBA (Redneck Records)
Haley Georgia - TBA (EMI Nashville)
Hannah Blaylock - TBA
Hayes Carll - TBA
High Valley - TBA (Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville)
Holly Williams - TBA
Jackie Lee - TBA (Broken Bow Records)
James Otto - TBA
Jason Eady - Self-described singer-songwriter album
Jason Isbell- TBA
Jerrod Niemann - TBA (Curb)
Joe Nichols - TBA (Red Bow Records)
John King - TBA (Black River Entertainment)
Jordan Rager - TBA (Broken Bow Records)
Josh Turner - TBA (MCA Nashville)
Julie Roberts - TBA
Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice - TBA
Justin Townes Earle - TBA
Kellie Pickler - TBA
LANco - TBA (Arista Nashville)
Lindsay Ell - TBA (Stoney Creek Records)
Logan Mize - TBA
Lone Bellow - TBA
Love and Theft - TBA (Curb)
Lucas Hoge - TBA
Mark Collie - TBA (101 Ranch Records)
Marty Stuart - TBA
Mickey Guyton - TBA (Capitol Nashville)
Morgane Stapleton - TBA
Noel McKay - TBA
Oak Ridge Boys - Dave Cobb Produced Album
Pam Tillis- TBA
Parmalee - TBA (Stoney Creek Records)
Randy Houser - TBA (Stoney Creek Records)
Ray Wylie Hubbard - TBA
Rick Trevino - TBA
Rita Wilson - TBA
Robbie Fulks - TBA
Rodney Atkins - TBA (Curb Records)
Roland White - TBA
Ryan Kinder - TBA (Warner Bros. Records/Warner Music Nashville)
Scotty McCreery - TBA (Label TBA)
Secret Sisters - TBA
Shania Twain - TBA (Mercury Nashville)
Shelly Fairchild - TBA [Pledge Music]
Shenandoah - TBA
Shooter Jennings - TBA
Steve Wariner - TBA (project with Duane Eddy)
Tanya Tucker - TBA
The Railers - TBA (Warner Bros. Records/Warner Music Nashville)
Thompson Square - TBA (Stoney Creek Records)
Trace Adkins - TBA (Wheelhouse Records)
Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart - TBA
Trick Pony - TBA
Whitey Morgan - TBA
Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Merle Haggard - TBA

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Music Video From Thomas Rhett - "American Spirit"

The Day The Music Died: To Those Country Music Lost in 2016

K.F. Raizor, author of the website Raizor's Edge and the book We Can't Sing and We Ain't Funny: The World of Homer and Jethro is our guest writer today on That Nashville Sound. She's ever so gracious to provide wonderful tributes to honor those to whom the music we treasure just wouldn't be the same without. Thank you, K.F.


Here are the performers who sang their final song in 2016.

Guy Clark
Bonnie Brown (July 16, lung cancer, age 77): one-third of the Country Music Hall of Fame sibling trio the Browns, she lost her battle with lung cancer 13 months after her brother Jim Ed's death from the same disease.

Rick Christian (May 3, unknown cause, age 61): songwriter best known for writing Kenny Rogers' hit "I Don't Need You."

Guy Clark (May 17, long illness, age 74): far beyond a "songwriter's songwriter," he was more of a novelist's novelist. One of the most brilliant, heart-touching, detailed storytelling songwriters of this -- or any other -- generation.

Jack Davis (July 27, natural causes, age 91): the co-founder of Mad magazine lent his brilliant artistic skills to a number of country music album covers, including those by Ben Colder, Johnny Cash, and nine Homer & Jethro albums.

Holly Dunn
Andrew Dorff (December 19, unknown causes, age 40): songwriter with a number of modern hits including Kenny Chesney's "Save It for a Rainy Day."

Holly Dunn (November 15, ovarian cancer, age 59): singer/songwriter with a string of hits in the 90s including "You Really Had Me Going" and her signature song, "Daddy's Hands."

Richard Fagan (August 5, liver cancer, age 69): country songwriter who wrote hits for Mel McDaniel ("Real Good Feel Good Song"), George Strait ("Overnight Male"), and John Michael Montgomery ("Sold [The Grundy County Auction Incident]"). His "Overnight Male" co-writer, Kim Williams, also died this year.

Joey Feek
Joey Feek (March 4, cervical cancer, age 40): half of the husband-and-wife duo Joey + Rory who had a TV series on RFD TV and saw their album, Hymns, debut at #1 on the Billboard country charts despite being "too country" and never having a "hit."

Brien Fisher (March 11, unknown cause, age 82): Nashville music producer whose best-known work included hits with the Kendalls such as "Heaven's Just a Sin Away" and Vern Gosdin's "Today My World Slipped Away."

Joey Floyd (February 15, cancer, age 54): longtime guitarist in Toby Keith's band.

Glenn Frey (January 18, pneumonia/acute ulcerative colitis, age 67): co-founder of the legendary Eagles, the band that personified country-rock in the 70's, and lead singer on their biggest country hit, "Lyin' Eyes."

Glenn Frey
Gogi Grant (March 10, natural causes, age 91): pop singer who recorded what is probably the best-known version of the classic song "The Wayward Wind."

Mark Gray (December 2, unknown cause, age 64): one-time member of the country-rock band Exile and songwriter of Alabama's hits "The Closer You Get" and "Take Me Down."

Ray Griff (March 9, post-operative pneumonia, age 75): Canadian-born country singer with a string of hits in the 70's including "If I Let Her Come In," "Patches," and "You Ring My Bell."

Merle Haggard (April 6, pneumonia, age 79): the legendary "poet of the common man" who sang of prison, blue collar life, and heartache died on his 79th birthday.

Bill Ham (June 22, natural causes, age 79): Texas-based manager of rock legends ZZ Top as well as the man who discovered and managed country superstar Clint Black.

Merle Haggard
Hoot Hester (August 30, cancer, age 66): fiddler for the Opry staff band for years who backed acts as diverse as the Manhattan Transfer and Ray Charles. He helped co-found the Time Jumpers. And, on a personal note, he was my aunt's cousin.

Dan Hicks (February 6, liver cancer, age 74): eclectic and quirky singer/songwriter, best known for the song "I Scare Myself," who incorporated elements of country, western swing, and jazz into his performances.

Pete Huttlinger (January 15, stroke, age 54): noted flat picker guitarist who made several solo albums as well as toured with LeAnn Rimes and John Denver.

Bud Isaacs (September 4, natural causes, age 88): the Steel Guitar Hall of Famer who played on the first #1 song to feature a pedal steel ("Slowly" by Webb Pierce in 1953), he was a steel guitar master and innovator.

Sonny James
Sonny James (February 22, natural causes, age 86): Country Music Hall of Famer who went from playing fiddle as a session musician to international superstardom with hits such as "Young Love," "True Love's a Blessing," and "Born to Be With You."

Kacey Jones (September 1, colon cancer, age 66): humorist, singer, musician, leader of the country humor act Ethel and the Shameless Hussies, and a writer of songs such as Mickey Gilley's hit "I'm the One Mama Warned You About."

James King (May 19, liver disease, age 58): bluegrass singer who went from an unofficial member of Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys to leader of the James King Band and member of the supergroup Longview, known for his heartfelt story songs such as "Thirty Years of Farming" and "Bed By the Window."

John D. Loudermilk (September 21, bone cancer, age 82): Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer who wrote countless songs from lighthearted novelty songs ("Road Hog") to love songs (Bob Luman's "The Great Snowman") to protest songs ("Indian Reservation [Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian]").

Charlie "Sonny" Louvin Jr. (January 27, unknown causes, age 61): the son of Hall of Fame member Charlie Louvin frequently played guitar with his father on the road and on the Grand Ole Opry.

Lana Meisner (March 6, accidental shooting, age 63): wife of original Eagles bassist/vocalist Randy Meisner.

Ned Miller (March 18, natural causes, age 90): singer and songwriter whose best-known composition was "From a Jack to a King," a hit for himself and Ricky Van Shelton and covered by acts from Jim Reeves to Elvis Presley.

Chips Morman (June 13, long illness, age 79): Grammy-winning songwriter (for BJ Thomas' hit "[Hey, Won't You Play] Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song") who also contributed songs as diverse as "The Dark End of the Street" (an R&B hit covered by Archie Campbell) and "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)." Morman died the day after his 79th birthday.

Don Parmley (July 30, long illness, age 82): banjo player and founder of the bluegrass band the Bluegrass Cardinals.

Joyce Paul (February 15, unknown cause, age 78): 60's country singer who had songs such as "Phone Call to Mama" and "I'm the Girl on the Billboard."

Gary S. Paxton (July 16, unknown cause, age 77): singer, songwriter, and producer who went from a member of the Hollywood Argyles ("Alley Oop") to country hits songwriter ("Woman (Sensuous Woman)" for Don Gibson) to Grammy-winning gospel songwriter and performer.

Curtis Potter (January 23, pneumonia, age 75): a member of Hank Thompson's Brazos Valley Boys, he enjoyed his own career as well as performing with Tony Booth and Darrell McCall as The Survivors.

Curly Putnam
Curly Putman (October 30, long illness, age 85): Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member who wrote or co-wrote countless hits, including "Green, Green Grass of Home," "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," and "War Is Hell (On the Homefront Too)."

Jim Ridley (April 8, cardiac arrest, age 50): longtime editor and journalist at the Nashville Scene music paper.

Floyd Robinson (May 28, long illness, age 79): songwriter and singer who had one charted hit, the controversial 1959 country crossover song "Makin' Love."

Mildred Haynes Rymer (November 10, stroke, age 86): sister of Henry "Homer" Haynes of Homer & Jethro.

Jean Shepard
Jean Shepard (September 25, Parkinson's disease, age 82): Country Music Hall of Fame singer who began as the duet partner on "A Dear John Letter" and went on to legendary status with a career that spanned seven decades.

Red Simpson (January 8, heart attack, age 81): one of the unsung heroes of the Bakersfield sound, he had one of the great "truck driving" songs with "Roll, Truck, Roll," wrote hits for Buck Owens ("Sam's Place"), and played on Merle Haggard's legendary "Okie From Muskogee."

Icey Sloan-Hawkins (December 17, stabbed to death, age 18): granddaughter of Jean Shepard and Hawkshaw Hawkins. She was killed by her ex-boyfriend, who was then shot by Shepard's widower Benny Birchfield (who also suffered stab wounds).

Carol Smith (December 24, natural causes, age 94): songwriter who collaborated on a number of Sonny James hits including "True Love's a Blessing," "A Little Bit South of Saskatoon," and "Don't Keep Me Hanging On."

Ralph Stanley
Dr. Ralph Stanley (June 23, skin cancer, age 89): one of the most important and significant figures in bluegrass history, Ralph overcame the 1966 death of his brother and music partner Carter to become the standard by which bluegrass performers are measured.

Kay Starr (November 3, Alzheimer's disease, age 94): singer with a long string of pop and jazz hits, she also had two top ten country hits in 1950 singing with Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Gordie Tapp (December 18, pneumonia, age 94): the head writer and one of the mainstays of the long running TV series Hee Haw.

Bob Tubert (April 10, natural causes, age 90): Ozark Jubilee scriptwriter, music publisher who helped found the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and helped establish Belmont University's Music Business program.

Janet Watson (February 8, unknown cause, age 70): a Broadway choreographer who worked on the play Big River, which earned Roger Miller a Tony.

Kim Williams (February 11, unknown cause, age 68): 2012 Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame inductee who gave us, among others, Joe Diffie's "If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets," George Strait's "Overnight Male," and Randy Travis' classic "Three Wooden Crosses."

Steve Young
Mentor Williams (November 16, unknown cause, age 70): country music singer/songwriter who teamed up with Troy Seals for a number of country hits ("A Few Ole Country Boys") but will be best remembered for his oft-covered song, "Drift Away" (which was a country hit for Narvel Felts in 1973). He was also the longtime partner of Lynn Anderson.

Rick Wright (February 7, car wreck, age 57): guitarist for Connie Smith's band for nearly two decades.

Steve Young (March 17, complications from a brain injury, age 73): "outlaw" singer/songwriter best known for writing the classics "Lonesome, Orn'ry and Mean" and "Seven Bridges Road."

Farewell, and thank you for the music.