Saturday, April 19, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Monday, April 14, 2014
“What an honor it is to be involved with Cowboy’s final record. This is the perfect way to start I.R.S. Nashville,” Grady says. “All the producers and musicians set the tone for this record. Sometimes we should all get together and do the right thing. I hope Jack is proud of us.”
This is Cowboy’s final album, his swan song. There are only three Cowboy Jack Clement records. He didn’t like to rush things. Sometimes he’d wonder what the smartest man in the world might do, and he’d figure the smartest man in the world might just wait things out.
He was 82-years-old when he died on August 8, 2013 and 82 when he finished this song-set with help from friends including John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, T Bone Burnett, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Dan Auerbach, Leon Russell, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Dickie Lee, Shawn Camp, Dierks Bentley, Jim Rooney, Jim Lauderdale, Will Oldham, daughter Allison Clement and a bunch of others who loved Cowboy and who Cowboy loved in return. His favorite accordionist, Joey Miskulin, played on “The Air Conditioner Song” and “Baby Is Gone.”
The whole thing is graceful and true, a primer for the unfamiliar, an anointed completion for the acolytes and a joy-filled lesson for those of us who study phrasing, musicality and soul.
Cowboy Jack was American music’s whimsical maverick. He was a singer and producer, a publisher, a best friend to Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. He was a writer of classic songs. He desegregated country music by bringing Charley Pride to popular attention and producing Pride’s first 13 albums for RCA. He was the first to record Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison, there at the popular birth of rock ‘n’ roll at Sun Records in Memphis.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
“The word that comes to mind is grace.” – Elvis Costello
Jesse Winchester, a singer’s singer and a songwriter’s songwriter, died of bladder cancer on April 11, 2014, at the age of 69. His voice, by turns ethereal, sly, earthy, and heartbreakingly direct, delivered some of the finest songs of our time over more than four decades of live performance, and twelve original albums, including the forthcoming A Reasonable Amount of Trouble. His songs have been covered by artists as different as Jimmy Buffett, Elvis Costello, Reba McEntire, Wilson Pickett, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and the Everly Brothers.
Jesse Winchester was born May 17, 1944 in Bossier City, Louisiana, to James Ridout Winchester and Frances (Manire) Winchester. He spent his early years in Mississippi, and moved to Memphis with his family at age 12, where his father went to work with the Winchester law firm. There, Jesse’s ears were opened to the sounds of rhythm and blues and rockabilly via radio stations such as WDIA, where B.B. King and Rufus Thomas hosted shows, and WHBQ, where the irrepressible Dewey Phillips mixed the music of black and white acts in a glorious jumble. Jesse got his first guitar shortly after arriving in Memphis, and began playing in bands around town while attending Christian Brothers High School.
Winchester left Memphis to attend Williams College, from which he graduated (after a brief period studying, and playing with a band, in Munich, Germany) in 1966. Soon thereafter he received a piece of mail that would profoundly alter the course of his life – a draft notice summoning him to serve in Vietnam. Deeply disturbed by the war and the prospect of killing in what he considered a dubious cause, Winchester abruptly left the United States for Montreal, Canada, where he was to live for the next 36 years.
In Montreal he made his living first playing with various bands, including one called Les Astronauts, whose members were required to dress in spaceman costumes. Deciding that space travel was not his forte, he began to focus on solo performance and, more importantly, songwriting. The first song he wrote, “The Brand-New Tennessee Waltz,” set a very high standard, and remained a signature tune for him. It was eventually covered by Joan Baez, Ralph Stanley, the Everly Brothers, and, in 2000, Patti Page, who had recorded the original “Tennessee Waltz” fifty years earlier.
In 1970, his self-titled first album, Jesse Winchester, was released. Produced by Robbie Robertson and engineered by Todd Rundgren, the album contained several of Jesse’s most enduring and popular songs, including “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz,” “Payday,” “Biloxi,” “Yankee Lady,” and the haunting “Quiet About It.” The record firmly established his reputation as both songwriter and performer, and a succession of albums followed as he kept up a busy touring schedule through Canada, Australia, and Europe.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced an amnesty for those who had left the country to avoid being sent to Vietnam, and Jesse was finally able to visit, and perform in, the United States. He did not, however, consider moving back. “I had a Canadian wife,” he said later, “Canadian children, and a Canadian mortgage.” Based in Montreal, he continued busily touring and recording through the 1980s.
On the eve of the 1990s, tired of touring, and with his songs being recorded regularly by top country artists such as Reba McEntire and Wynonna Judd, Winchester took nearly a full decade off from traveling and performing to stay home and concentrate on songwriting. At the end of that decade, Winchester recorded Gentleman of Leisure, an album containing his pick of the songs he’d written during that time. The record, produced by Jerry Douglas, remained one of Winchester’s favorites among his own recordings.
In 2002, he met his future wife, Cindy, and the next year moved back to the United States, settling in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a brief period in his old home town of Memphis. In 2007 he was awarded ASCAP’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. He maintained a comfortable touring schedule and continued to write new songs, the best of which made up his 2009 album Love Filling Station.
But a 2010 appearance on Elvis Costello’s Sundance series Spectacle introduced Jesse’s music to a new and larger audience. Alongside Costello, Neko Case, Sheryl Crow, and Ron Sexsmith, Jesse performed several songs, most notably the stunning “Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding,” from Love Filling Station, a tender and shockingly beautiful ode to the nonsense lyrics in the teenage love songs of the 1950s. The performance literally stopped the show, according to Costello. “I just bowed my head,” the host said, “and told the audience that they had to go home because I could not gather myself to make the next introduction, such was supernatural beauty of his voice.” That performance quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation via YouTube, and Winchester’s performing schedule went into a higher gear.
That wave of activity was brought to an abrupt halt in June 2011, when Jesse was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He underwent surgery and a brief but difficult treatment, which he faced with extraordinary dignity and spirit. Amazingly, in August of that year he was pronounced cancer-free, and he resumed his performing schedule. During his illness, an all-star group of artists recorded an excellent tribute album of Jesse’s songs, entitled Quiet About It. Jimmy Buffett, one of Jesse’s biggest fans, was the driving force behind the tribute.
In February 2014, cancer was found again, and this time it was untreatable. Jesse Winchester finally succumbed to it on April 11, 2014, at home – not alone, but surrounded by the presence and love of his wife, Cindy, and his family.
He is survived by his wife, Cindy, a brother, Cassius Winchester, and a sister, Ellyn Weeks, as well as his children, James Winchester, Alice Winchester, and Marcus Lee Winchester, a stepdaughter, Jennifer Slangerup, and his grandchildren Oliver, Gus, and Luke Dungavell of Ontario, Canada, and Tave and Vann Slangerup of Charlottesville, Virginia.
– Tom Piazza, author and family friend
Friday, April 11, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
“I was looking for the right home for this record,” Womack says. “I knew I wanted a label where passion for music and artistic integrity drive the decision-making. Beyond the incredible work Sugar Hill has done with Nickel Creek, Sarah Jarosz and Bryan Sutton, they have a broader way of looking at where music can go and why it matters – and for this very personal record, it seemed like the perfect fit.”
"If there's one thing about this record that really stands out," says Womack, "it’s that all the songs come from writers who are artists. Every song was written for the writer to sing, and as someone who loves and listens to music, it's a very different reality to cut songs that were written with intention from an artist's perspective, to try and invest in what they've lived so eloquently."
“I have always loved country music with my entire being,” says Womack. “I think the gift of a genre that’s built on real life is that there is always room for great songs, and the truth. When we started this record, Frank and I promised each other we would only cut songs that we absolutely loved for no reason other than we loved them very much. No other factors, and I think that freedom really inspired us.”
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
Winners have been announced for the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, a ceremony broadcast on CBS from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Fans named George Strait the Entertainer of the Year, the evening’s biggest honor and the second win of his career in that category. This year marked another record-breaking year with 1.5 million fan votes cast for Entertainer of the Year and New Artist of the Year categories combined, and also marked the first time online fan voting for these categories were open to fans in Australia and Canada.
The king of country music and newly crowned Entertainer of the Year, George Strait, also participated in a special moment with Owner, President and General Manager of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones during the telecast announcing the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards to be broadcast from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX on Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 8:00 PM live ET/delayed PT on the CBS Television Network. It was also announced that Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan will return to co-host the show.
Merle Haggard was honored with the Crystal Milestone Award, which was presented by Garth Brooks and celebrated with a tribute performance featuring Miranda Lambert and George Strait.
Jason Aldean won Male Vocalist of the Year, his second consecutive win in this category. He has won an overall total of 7 ACM Awards.
Miranda Lambert won for the fifth consecutive year as Female Vocalist of the Year, breaking Reba McEntire’s record for the most consecutive wins in that category. She is the leading female winner of the night, with a total of three trophies. Lambert also took the prize for Single Record of the Year for “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and Vocal Event of the Year for “We Were Us” with Keith Urban.
The Band Perry won their first Vocal Group of the Year award. This marks their third overall ACM win; they won the New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year award and New Artist of the Year in 2010.
Artists Florida Georgia Line won Vocal Duo of the Year. This is their first win in this category, and third overall ACM Award win.
Justin Moore received his first-ever Academy of Country Music Award tonight for New Artist of the Year Presented by Kohl’s Department Stores, a fan-voted category.
Kacey Musgraves won Album of the Year as the artist and producer for Same Trailer Different Park. This award marks her first-ever ACM Award win.
Keith Urban is the leading male winner of the night with a total of three trophies in two categories. Prior to the telecast, Urban took the prize for Video of the Year as artist for “Highway Don’t Care” with Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift. He also won Vocal Event of the Year as artist and producer for “We Were Us” with Miranda Lambert. Both awards were presented off-camera.
Following is the list of winners in the 11 categories voted on by the membership (excluding the Entertainer of the Year and New Artist categories, which were voted on by a combination of professional ACM members and fans):
Entertainer of the Year
Male Vocalist of the year
Female Vocalist of the year
Vocal Duo of the year
Florida Georgia Line
Vocal Group of the year
The Band Perry
New Artist of the year
Album of the year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]
Same Trailer Different Park – Kacey Musgraves
Producers: Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves
Record Label: Mercury Records
Single Record of the Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]
Mama's Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert
Producers: Chuck Ainlay, Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf
Record Label: RCA Nashville
Song of the Year [Awarded to Songwriter(s)/Publisher(s)/Artist(s)]
I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice
Songwriters: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary
Publishers: Beattyville Music (BMI), EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. (BMI), Great Day At This Music (BMI), Happy Tears Music (ASCAP), Vistaville Music (ASCAP), Watch This Girl Publishing (BMI)
Video of the Year [Awarded to Producer(s)/Director(s)/Artist(s)] *(Off Camera Award)
Highway Don't Care – Tim McGraw Featuring Taylor Swift & Keith Urban
Producers: Tameron Hedge, Chandra LaPlume
Director: Shane Drake
Vocal Event of the Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]*(Off Camera Award)
We Were Us – Keith Urban And Miranda Lambert
Producers: Nathan Chapman, Keith Urban
Record Labels: Capitol Records Nashville, Hit Red Records, RCA Nashville