Monday, January 20, 2020

Respected Singer/Songwriter David Olney Passes Away At The Age of 71

Longtime singer/songwriter David Olney (born March 23, 1948) died Saturday, January 18, 2020, after suffering an apparent heart attack during a performance in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. He was 71. A key member of Nashville’s music community since his move to Music City in 1973, the Lincoln, Rhode Island native was a compelling and enigmatic presence. He wrote sonnets and starred at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and his live concerts blended tenderness and ferocity, theater and sincerity, agitation and embrace.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Emmylou Harris said “David Olney tells marvelous stories, with characters who cling to the hope of enduring love, all the while crossing the deep divide into that long, dark night of the soul.” Troubadour Steve Earle called Olney “One of the best songwriters working in the world today,” and the late Townes Van Zandt once said, “Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say Mozart, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bob Dylan and Dave Olney."

Olney’s songs have been recorded by Harris, Del McCoury, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young, and many others. His lyrics are products of a remarkable inquisitiveness that allowed him to explore subjects that few songwriters would consider: He wrote of a Nashville train disaster, of baseball shortstop Phil Rizzuto, and of actor John Barrymore. He wrote about Jesus Christ from the narrative perspective of the donkey that carried him into Jerusalem, and about the Titanic from the perspective of the iceberg that sank the ship.

His friend and songwriting great Guy Clark said that Olney’s art “transcends craftsmanship. It’s inspired, for sure.”

Olney moved to Nashville after briefly studying English at the University of North Carolina. He quickly fell in with a group of like-minded songwriters that included Clark, Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, and Richard Dobson. In the early 1980s, he formed The X-Rays, a jagged rock band that secured a contract with Rounder Records. In 1986, he embarked on a solo recording career that produced more than 20 albums and allowed him to travel the world making music.

He is survived by wife, Regine, daughter, Lillian, and son, Redding, and by a devastated music community.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

That Nashville Sound Sunday Newsbytes: New Albums Galore

Some new records forthcoming-

- Songwriter Brett James (his credits include the Number One country hits "Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews, "Blessed" by Martina McBride, "When the Sun Goes Down" and "Out Last Night" by Kenny Chesney, "Jesus, Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood) among others is releasing an EP called I Am Now on March 27. Source

- John Anderson is releasing a new album this Spring, titled Years, on Easy Eye Sound. Produced by Dan Auerbach and David “Fergie” Ferguson and set for April 10, the album includes 10 new originals as well as a special guest appearance by Blake Shelton on the track “Tuesday I’ll Be Gone.” Source

- Lily Hiatt is releasing a new album called Walking Proof on March 27 as well. Source

- According to this Rolling Stone article, Lee Ann Womack is working on a new album to be released at some point later in the year. Source

- Luke Bryan will release a new album called Born Here, Live Here, Die Here on April 24. Source

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Gene Watson Invited To Become Next Member of Grand Ole Opry

Country music legend Gene Watson was surprised on stage at the Ryman Auditorium during the Grand Ole Opry last night by Opry member Vince Gill with an invitation to become an official Opry member. Watson, whose hits including “Fourteen Carat Mind” and “Farewell Party” have become country standards, made his Opry debut 55 years ago at age 21 on the Ryman stage.

“He’s one of the greatest country singers that’s walked the earth,” Gill said, introducing Watson on stage to perform. After Watson performed “Sometimes I Get Lucky and Forget” and “Nothing Sure Looked Good On You” Gill asked, “Would you mind singing ‘Farewell Party’? The Opry told me if you would, you could be the next member of the Grand Ole Opry.” A nearly speechless Gene replied, “I’m not sure I have anything left after that kind of surprise” and then gave an outstanding performance that kept the sold-out crowd on its feet.

“The Opry strives to showcase an array of musical styles in every show,” said Dan Rogers, Vice President and Executive Producer, Grand Ole Opry. “When Gene Watson steps onto the Opry stage, fans know they are going to hear one of the most respected traditional country singers of all time. For years, we’ve watched him wow audiences in the crowd and fellow artists backstage. He’s been committed to the Opry for decades, and we look forward to him becoming an official member of the family. Plus, when all is said and done, you just can’t beat that last note of ‘Farewell Party.’”

Watson, a native of Houston, Texas, has been thrilling audiences for more than 50 years. His tally of 75 charted titles, 23 Top 10 hits, six No. 1 country records and three No. 1 gospel hits has led to membership in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and the Houston, TX Music Hall of Fame.

Here's the moment of his invitation last night on stage...

Friday, January 17, 2020

Josh Grider & Drew Kennedy Collaborate On New Music Under Topo Chico Cowboys

Artist: Topo Chico Cowboys
Project: Topo Chico Cowboys, Vol. 1
Label: Atlas Aurora
Release date: Jan. 17, 2020

Quietly and with a growing former regional Texas reach, Josh Grider and Drew Kennedy (best friends and singer/songwriters) have written some of the smartest and richest music coming out of the Lone Star State over the last decade or so.  They travel and play shows together frequently and have dubbed themselves previously unofficially as the Topo Chico Cowboys. Well... as of this morning, you can make that official. The duo has released a new project together that promises to be the first of many future projects together.

Says Grider, "The Topo Chico Cowboys are what Drew Kennedy and I are calling our side project. We've been playing shows together for years, but we finally found a cool name and recorded some new original material together.  We call it Topo Chico Cowboys, Vol. 1.  Drew's song "Dollar on the Wall", coupled with an invite to the Mile 0 Festival was what finally made us go ahead and record a couple of songs together.  "Here's to Friends" felt like it fit the 'buddy collaboration' thing we were going for and...voila we had the perfect A / B.  Some of our musical amigos y amigas stopped in to help us sing the big gang chorus on "Here's to Friends", so you're hearing Wade Bowen, Jamie Lin Wilson, Susan Gibson, Walt Wilkins, Kelley Mickwee, Ben Jones, John Baumann, Bri Bagwell along with the TCC."

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Nashville Singer/Songwriter Jessi Alexander Announces Decatur County Red Out March 27

Artist: Jessi Alexander
Album: Decatur County Red
Recorded: Southern Ground Studios
Release date: March 27, 2020

GRAMMY-nominated, CMA and ACM Award-winning songwriter and one of Nashville’s most prolific lyricists — will return to her roots on March 27th with the release of Decatur County Red, her first new album since 2014. This celebrated singer-songwriter’s album was inspired by her muse: a cabin in Tennessee River in Decatur County left to her by her Grandmother. Dedicated to “the folks that love sad songs, beer joints, pedal steel, and country music."

Her first release off of the project is the song “Mama Drank”, co-written by Alexander and her husband Jon Randall (Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Brad Paisley). The track is a testament to her own experience as a mom-of-three with the “working mom blues” and the “delicate dance working like a man, while you’re keeping your apron tied”.

Decatur County Red features eight new songs that blend stories of hell-raising, blue-collar characters like the barn-burner “Country Music Made Me Do It” feat. Randy Houser, with more sultry, fragile numbers like “I Should Probably Go Now”, where Alexander fearlessly wears her heart on her sleeve to create a candid snapshot of two lovers coping with infidelity. The album takes a more personal turn as she dives into her time grinding on Music Row with “Damn Country Music” and “How I’m Going Out”, where she reflects on the loss of her friend and fellow songwriter Andrew Dorff and all other ghosts that live on Music Row.

To immaculately capture these deeply personal stories and characters, Alexander turned to collaborators like The Brothers Osborne, husband Jon Randall (Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Brad Paisley), Josh Thompson (Jason Aldean, Maddie & Tae, Luke Combs), Glen Worff and more, resulting in this intoxicating hybrid of Americana-tinged country. 

Born in Jackson, TN and now Nashville-based, Alexander is the voice behind country’s Top 40 men and some of pop’s leading ladies, writing more than 70 hits from acts like Celine Dion (“Didn’t You Know”), Miley Cyrus (“The Climb”), Morgan Wallen (“The Way I Talk”, “Gone Girl”), Blake Shelton (“Mine Would Be You”, “Drink On It”, “Turnin’ Me On”), and Lee Brice (“I Drive Your Truck”) to name a few.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Brandy Clark Schedules March 6 Release For Your Life Is a Record

Artist: Brandy Clark
Album: Your Life Is a Record
Label: Warner Bros/WEA
Release date: March 6, 2020

The CMA Award-winning songwriter and That Nashville Sound-favorite Brandy Clark released her first song off of what will be her third full-length studio album, Your Life is a Record. Jay Joyce produced the effort, which features guest spots from Randy Newman and guitarist John Osborne. That album will be a Warner Brothers release on March 6, 2020.

The song derives from a phrase Clark heard legendary country music songsmith John Prine share during an Americana Awards speech in Nashville, she said in a news release.

“He walked out onstage at the Ryman and everyone stood up and clapped for what felt like five minutes," Clark said in the release. "When everyone sat down, he said with a little laugh, ‘Well, I’m John Prine, but I’d like to go back to being who you thought I was.’ Man … that hit me. ... I mean who of us hasn’t let somebody down or wanted to be the version of ourselves that someone who loved us thought we were?”


1. I’ll Be the Sad Song
2. Long Walk
3. Love is a Fire
4. Pawn Shop
5. Who You Thought I Was
6. Apologies
7. Bigger Boat (feat. Randy Newman)
8. Bad Car
9. Who Broke Whose Heart
10. Can We Be Strangers
11. The Past is the Past

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Phil Vassar To Release Stripped Down On Jan. 17

Artist: Phil Vassar
Album: Stripped Down
Release date: January 17, 2020

“It’s very under-produced instead of over-produced,” Phil Vassar said of the album in a mid-December phone interview with TribLive. “This is just flat out, some of the songs are just me and an acoustic guitar or me and some band sounds or something, like a little loop to kind of get the groove going. But I really like it — a lot.”

Many a songwriter will say the true test of a song is whether it holds up in a solo acoustic format, which means “Stripped Down” should be as much of a showcase for Vassar’s songwriting as for his singing and piano playing — and a significant departure from his other albums, which have typically featured pretty full arrangements and a good number of up-tempo, feel-good songs.

Along with newly written material, “Stripped Down” will include two songs Vassar wrote two decades ago that come from a stack of unreleased compositions he’s accumulated over the years.

“It’s funny, one of my friends out in California, I said ‘Listen to this tune,’ and it’s one of the songs called ‘I Won’t Forget You,’ and she was weeping, I mean, crying. She goes ‘This is the best song you’ve ever written,’” Vassar recalled. “I said, ‘You know, I love this song. It just never made sense to cut it on one of these other records.’

“And there’s another song called ‘Perfect World’ that I wrote,” he elaborated. “It’s really sort of poignant right now. It kind of talks about politics, the world and all of this stuff, but it’s fun. It’s a funny kind of a tongue-in-cheek song. So I love it. Those two songs along with the other stuff that’s brand new, I really like it.”

Track Listing:
Postmarked Birmingham
Takes Me Back Again
Where The End Starts (Featuring Haley Vassar)
Perfect World
I Won't Forget You
High School

    Monday, January 6, 2020

    New Music Video From The Panhandlers - "No Handle"

    The Panhandlers are a Texan Red Dirt Music supergroup of sorts made up of Josh Abbott, Cleto Cordero of Flatland Cavalry, William Clark Green and John Baumann- they'll have a self-titled album produced by Bruce Robison out on 3/6/20.