Monday, August 21, 2017

Interview Flashback - Josh Thompson Heads Way Out Here

I have been blessed to write contributions/reviews/interviews/opinion pieces for several country music and roots-oriented websites and publications over the years including Saving Country Music, Nashville Scene, Country California, Country Weekly, American Noise, The 9513 and Engine 145. As a regular contributor to the last two in that list, I did close to a 100 interviews with different artists- and since both of those great sites have come down, I will reprint some of those interviews here to give them a home in perpetuity. This interview was originally published in March 2010 on The 9513.

Blue collar country music has come natural for Josh Thompson. He’ll make no apologies for his songwriting that reflects a hard day’s work and the celebration of a week’s end that follows. Following in his father’s footsteps, Thompson began pouring concrete at the tender age of twelve in his home state of Wisconsin- a job that made ends meet when he arrived in Nashville.

"I was still pouring concrete three days a week," he says. "A lot of times I'd start at 7, then wash off with a garden hose and head to a writing appointment. Some nights I'd write songs until 2:30, get up at 6, splash some water on my face and do it again."

After he arrived in Nashville in 2005 and got a publishing deal a few months later for Ash Street Music. It took three years for his first big songwriting break, the title track on Jason Michael Carroll’s album, Growing Up Is Getting Old.

Nowadays, Thompson doesn’t need that second job. Thompson’s Columbia Nashville debut, Way Out Here, has arrived on store shelves this February and its first hit single, “Beer On The Table,” has become a bonafide hit on radio and on the country music television channels. The album is representative of the man- proud of being from the country, but prouder yet of being from the working class. The artist hopes Way Out Here represents the man who has lived out the music he makes.

The 9513 had an opportunity to sit down with the singer/songwriter and talk about his newfound success.

Ken Morton, Jr.- Do you count yourself as being part of the “Cheesehead Nation” being from Wisconsin and all?

Josh Thompson- (Laughter) I guess I would be. I guess I am. That’s funny, I’ve never heard it put that way before.

KMJ- Let’s talk about the new album. I’ve had a chance to listen to it and it has a lot of blue-collar themes running through it. I would imagine that a lot of that came through working early in your father’s business.

JT- Yes, definitely. That’s where it started. I jumped on a bigger crew and did that full time for about three years. I picked up a guitar at the age of 21 and eventually moved to Nashville where I poured concrete again. The last time I poured concrete was about November of 2008.

KMJ- You could be called a late-bloomer not picking up a guitar until the age of 21.

JT- I’m definitely a late-bloomer. I tried to play earlier than that but I guess I didn’t have the patience for it. I got to the point where I fell in love so much with music that I just had to play. At that point, I never really thought of it as a means of writing or expressing myself.

KMJ- Was it country music that you were a big fan of even as a child.

JT- Right. There was always music on in my house and I was singing everywhere I went. I loved music, but I never really had the desire to play myself until later in life.

KMJ- What were some of the musical influences that eventually pushed you into choosing to writing and performing as a career?

JT- There’s a bunch of them. Patsy Cline. Randy Travis was big. Everly Brothers. Haggard was a big influence. Bobby Bare. Tom T. Hall. All those guys. Once I was old enough to search for music on my own, that’s totally what I was digging. I just dug and dug and finally it got to the point where my parents were always saying, “Where the hell did you get that?” (Laughter)

KMJ- Fast forward a few years and you got your first big songwriting break on a song for Jason Michael Carroll I understand.

JT- That was my first big cut and it also kind of got my foot in the door over at Sony. It kind of led to my first appointment over there as an artist.

KMJ- And after you were signed, you were on a serious writing mission, weren’t you?

JT- Between the time that the deal was offered and the time we started recording the songs, I wrote 70 songs in a three-month period. But that’s all I was doing was write, write, write. But I’ve always been that way. I’ve averaged about 130 a year since I got here. And I’ve been in Nashville for about five years. Out of that 70 that I wrote in that three-month period, I think we cut four. The others I had already.

KMJ- With all that song availability, they wouldn’t let you release a box set on the first one out?

JT- (Laughter) That’d be awesome. I wish. When you write songs, you love all your songs. But some of them are just not quite right for you. At least right then. For me, every time I write, it’s about something I love. The process is really all about finding the material that you love.

KMJ- Besides the obvious fact that it’s a song on the album, is there a relevance to the title of the album, Way Out Here?

JT- I felt like it explained the album and the theme that I was going for which was my way of life. It’s not necessarily where you live or how far out in the country you live, but a set of beliefs. Some people still believe in the bible. Some people still believe in their second amendment right. Some people won’t wait for a hand-out. They’ll just get to work. That’s basically just the theme of it all.

KMJ- Do you think “Beer On The Table” is a good snapshot of what the rest of the album is like?

JT- I think so. Definitely. “Beer On The Table” is fun and up-tempo a little country, but it points to a very real thing and that’s working your ass off. And enjoying what you can out of life.

KMJ- There’s a song on there called “Blame It On Waylon.” Did you draw inspiration from your adolescent music searching on that one?

JT- For sure. Really, if it hadn’t been for those guys, I would have never had an interest in picking up a guitar and eventually writing. That song pretty much sums up everything I can blame all of this on. Because I can’t blame myself. Waylon and that era of music had a huge influence on me getting into music in the first place.

KMJ- How has it been touring with Jamey Johnson and Eric Church?

JT- I love that. I love their crowds. I feel that their demographics match mine. They have a real strong foundation of a fan base. And that’s not something you find a lot in other country artists.

KMJ- Have you had a chance to hang out with those guys much or do any songwriting with them at all?

JT- Not so much with Eric. I’ve only met him briefly thus far. Hopefully on this second tour I’ll get to hang with him a bit. With Jamey, definitely. I’ve got a chance to hang with him and he’s such a great guy. And we’ve wrote a little bit. I respect his music and really respect what he’s done.

KMJ- Thank you so much for your time. I’ve got one last question for you. What’s country music to Josh Thompson?

JT- Reality. Good or bad. Life. Life for the people I grew up around wasn’t like Bubba Gump all the time. Country music says that. I think people can get power from a bad situation when they hear about somebody else. I think it’s just reality. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Jack Ingram Announces Three Different Projects Awaiting Release Dates

Jack Ingram announced that he has not one, but three additional projects in the can. He has a full album recorded at the same time as last year's Midnight Motel finished as well as two different EP's that were just recently completed entitled The Arlyn Sessions: The Hammer (volume 1) and The Nail (volume 2). No firm timetables have been released on either, but we'll cross our fingers for some releases over the coming year.

After hearing from many people about my last album, #MidnightMotel, being NON-mnipresent on streaming services all summer, I feel the need to confuse the issue! Especially after hearing that a #SoundOfSilence track has made such an enormous impact on iTunes listeners over the past week!!! Turns out that @ToddSnider was on to something when he wrote about the #SeattleGrungeBlues winning #Grammys for performing as "a band that wasn't even together playing acoustic versions of music they'd never even recorded" way back at the turn of the century! To set the record askew... "Midnight Motel" is not back up for streaming but, have no fear, I have a fully produced and finished record ready to not be released yet that I recorded around the same time that we recorded "Midnight Motel"! I also just recorded 12 songs that are divided into 2 EP's called "The Arlyn Sessions: The Hammer (volume 1) And The Nail (volume 2)! I cannot be more inspired by the music I, along with my favorite musicians on this as of now intact planet, have been producing over the past few years! Been thinking a lot lately about just how grateful I am to be living in a time where there are absolutely zero rules in this music business! It's high time that we no longer be tethered to the old school guard! With that in mind... and with my apologies to "the sound of silence" and my best friend, Todd... Here's what I'm thinking... ANYBODY can make music and release it to any variation of fanfare! But who believes in what they're doing to such a degree that they don't even release it?! I don't really know that answer but the #magiceightball just told me that "All Signs Point To You"! So for the time being... I'm going with that! I am making music I think you all will really dig. I play it all the time! Especially at my shows! Come hang with me. We'll have a great time! We'll figure out all the other shit that nobody seems to know how to figure out later! In the land of blind kings a one-eyed jack is not blind. K-O-K-O... Jack
A post shared by Jack Ingram (@jackingram) on

Saturday, August 19, 2017

New Music Video From Jason Eady - "Black Jesus"

That Nashville Sound Saturday Newsbytes- New Music Videos & New Releases

We're playing catch-up this weekend with lots and lots of new music videos and a handful of new album introductions. TNS would love to hear from you- what's your favorite off of the list below?

- Union Station member Dan Tyminski has an album coming out just under his surname on October 20 called Southern Gothic. The album will be released by Mercury Nashville.

- In September of 2016, Luck Reunion and Third Man Records took over a mansion in East Nashville creating an analogue studio space with the goal of inspiring collaboration. Artists were invited to perform live and record 2 songs as part of a series called the “Luck Mansion Sessions." The video of the collaboration between Rodney Crowell and John Paul White (The Civil Wars) has just been released.

- Jana Kramer released new music. The new track "I've Done Love" has been released via her own Sophie Dog Records.

- Old Dominion released the new music video for "Not Everything's About You" from their upcoming album Happy Endings- out August 25th.

- The intriguing The Last Bandoleros released the new music video for "River Man."

- Anderson East released his new music video for "All On My Mind." 

- Kip Moore released his new music video for "Blonde." 

- A Dr. Ralph Stanley Forever: A Tribute Concert is set to include performances from Dierks Bentley, Heidi Newfield, Daryl Worley, T. Graham Brown, Ralph Stanley II, T. Bone Burnett and Doug Supernaw along with many others. The concert will be at The Grand Ole Opry House on October 19.

- Hoping to perhaps to repeat the Taylor Swift phenomenon, Warner Music Nashville has signed 13-year-old Tegan Marie to a record deal.

- Lucinda Williams has re-recorded her 1992 album Sweet Old World and plans a September 29 release of the new/old project via Thirty Tigers.

- Former Hot Chelle Rae lead singer Ryan Follese dropped a surprise self-titled album via Big Machine Records yesterday.

- Stephanie Quayle ("Drinking with Dolly" & "Winnebago") will have her new album Love The Way You See Me drop on September 8.

Country Music Hall of Fame Member Jo Walker-Meador Passes Away At 93

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.

The Country Music Hall of Fame has lost a second Hall of Fame members this month. More significantly, with the passing of Jo Walker-Meador, the Hall of Fame lost the woman who could rightfully be called its mother.

Walker-Meador died Wednesday (8/16) of a stroke in Nashville. Her death comes nine days after the passing of Glen Campbell from Alzheimer's disease.

Her birth name was Edith Josephine Denning, when she came into the world in 1924. In 1958 Harry Stone hired Walker-Meador as an office manager for a new organization called the Country Music Association. By 1962 she was the executive director of the CMA.

In her tenure she oversaw the development of things that we take for granted today: the CMA awards, CMA Fan Fest, and most significantly, the Country Music Hall of Fame. The 1950s may have been the "golden era" of the music, but Jo Walker-Meador helped make the country music industry a formidable and respectable business in the 60s and beyond.

Walker-Meador stepped down in 1991. In 1995, the Hall of Fame that she helped make a reality inducted her as a significant industry individual for her vital contributions to country music.

Farewell to Jo Walker-Meador, who was 93.

Friday, August 18, 2017

New Music Video From Aubrie Sellers - "Magazines"

Nashville Country Artists Chris Roberts and JT Hodges To Star In New Dan Fogelberg Musical

Chris Roberts (One Flew South's 2008 album Last of the Good Guys &
the 2015 solo album The Way West)
Country music and (off) Broadway are colliding as Nashville's own ACM-nominated artist JT Hodges and singer/songwriter Chris Roberts (One Flew South) both have been added as part of the cast and creative team for the world premiere of Part of the Plan, a new, original musical written by Kate Atkinson & Karen Harris and scored with the music and lyrics of celebrated singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg.

Directed by Tony nominee Lynne Taylor-Corbett (Swing!), the show interweaves 20 iconic Fogelberg songs arranged by Grammy Award Winners Victor Vanacore (Ray Charles) and Laurence Juber (Paul McCartney), including "Leader of the Band," "Longer," & "Same Old Lang Syne."

Part of the Plan is set to make its debut at the James K. Polk Theater (505 Deaderick St.) in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, September 8, 2017, with an official opening date set for Sunday, September 10, 2017. The developmental production will run through Sunday, September 24, 2017.

Part of the Plan is "a powerful story that spans three decades and follows the lives of an adopted boy and the teenaged girl who is forced to give him up. While exploring themes of love, loss, renewal, and how everything in life happens for a reason, Part of the Plan brings Fogelberg's music to a new generation as well as to the many die-hard fans who long to hear his music in all forms."

"The cast and creative team of Part of the Plan brings together the cream of the crop in their respective fields for this new artistic endeavor featuring Dan Fogelberg's most poignant, memorable, and beloved music," says Kathleen O'Brien, TPAC president and chief executive officer. "Kate Atkinson and Karen Harris have worked since 2010 to bring this production to the stage, and we're delighted to partner with them to co-produce this original production and to host the world premiere in Nashville, a town where Dan lived, performed, and wrote some of his most notable works."

JT Hodges (2012's JT Hodges & 2015's Locks on Doors)

Hodges originally broke into the country music scene with his Billboard Hot Country charting debut, “Hunt You Down.” Jake has scored several Top 10 singles since with the songs “Goodbyes Made you Mine,” “Ray Bans,” a Top 5 record, “Sleepy Little Town,” and his new song, “Dance Right Here,” In 2013, Hodges starred in “Finding Christmas” on the Hallmark Channel. The movie became the #1 rated movie of the week and cemented a rave review for Hodges from The New York Times. Most recently, Hodges can be seen starring alongside Colin Odonaghue (“Once Upon a Time”) in the independent film “The Dust Storm.”

For Chris Roberts, it's a full circle return to the stage that originally charted his musical course. Few artists can lay claim to have been born in the Deep South delta blues, grown up in the Wild West of Montana, stood in front of Broadway’s bright lights in New York (in the production of The Civil War), sung blissful harmony across the country radio airwaves (as part of Decca-signed trio One Flew South), shared the stage with Willie Nelson and Neil Young at Farm Aid, published an incredible catalog of songs written alongside some of Nashville’s brightest stars and writers, produce albums for multiple other artists, written songs for feature films (Fox & The Hound II, Assassin's Creed), laid claim to being his church’s music director in a congregation that reads like a who’s who of the music business (St. Augustine’s) and lastly, been as active in using that music gift for charitable and patriotic endeavors.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

That Nashville Sound Thursday Newsbytes

There's been lots of country music news released in the last couple days with several new projects put on the horizon- plus a killer National Anthem from a couple of friends that's worth listening too with all the tumultuous news across the nation lately. Here are just a few of the highlights:

- Bradley Walker follows up his critically-acclaimed 2016 release Call Me Old-Fashioned with another album on Gaither Records that will be released on October 6 called Blessed: Songs of Hymns and Faith. 

- Chris Stapleton took some time our of his 8/10 concert in Hershey, PA to celebrate the life of Glen Campbell and cover "Rhinestone Cowboy." 

- The incomparable Miss Dolly Parton will be releasing her very first children's album and all of the proceeds will be going to the Imagination Library. “My first album was released 50 years ago and it’s been an amazing 50 years since then. I am very excited that now I’m coming out with my first children’s album in all of those 50 years,” Parton says. “I’m proudest of all that all of the proceeds from this CD will go to the Imagination Library. It’s been 20 years since the Imagination Library was launched. We’ve seen 100 million books get into the hands of children and hopefully there will be many more.”  A digital version of I Believe in You is set for release on September 29, with the physical copy hitting stores on October 13. 

- Midland is riding the wave of their big hit "Drinking Problem" to a release of their album On The Rocks on September 22. You can see the retro album cover above. 

- Add this new upcoming project from Lee Ann Womack to your must-haves this fall. The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone comes out October 27 via ATO Records.  You can hear her first song off the project as well as read an interview about the project on NPR's website here

- Blake Shelton will release a six-song live EP simply called Live on August 25. 

- Friends of the blog and longtime Nashville singer/songwriter fixtures Chris Roberts and Lindsay Lawler nailed the National Anthem earlier this week at the Nashville Sounds game. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New Music Video From Kenny Chesney - "All The Pretty Girls"

Interview Flashback - Holly Dunn Trades Microphone For Brush

I have been blessed to write contributions/reviews/interviews/opinion pieces for several country music and roots-oriented websites and publications over the years including Saving Country Music, Nashville Scene, Country California, Country Weekly, American Noise, The 9513 and Engine 145. As a regular contributor to the last two in that list, I did close to a 100 interviews with different artists- and since both of those great sites have come down, I will reprint some of those interviews here to give them a home in perpetuity. This interview was originally published in February 2010 on The 9513. 

Editor's Note: Unfortunately, Holly Dunn lost her battle with ovarian cancer at the much-too-young age of 59 back in November of 2016. May her music and memory live on.

Born in San Antonio in 1957, Holly Dunn’s first taste of country music success was as a songwriter and a co-write called "Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind" which was recorded by Cristy Lane. At the time, she hadn’t even graduated from college. But that early success led Dunn to head to Nashville after she finished college. Dunn worked as a demo singer for several labels before joining her brother as a staff songwriter at CBS. She continued a strong songwriter’s initiative while pursuing her own record deal including penning Louise Mandrell’s “I’m Not Through Loving You Yet” top ten hit.

In 1985, Holly Dunn landed a record contract in her own right with MTM Records (Mary Tyler Moore), and released her first single The first three singles barely dented the Billboard charts, but the fourth time was a charm. Her 1986 release, “Daddy’s Hands” became her first Top Ten hit and would become her most recognized and trademark song of her career. 1987's Cornerstone produced three top ten singles in "Love Someone Like Me,” "Only When I Love," and “Strangers Again.” That began a six year run where few artists were producing as many radio-friendly hits as Dunn. During that window, she had two number ones including "Are You Ever Gonna Love Me" and "You Really Had Me Going." Dunn was invited to become an Opry member and was even the host of the TNN television show, Opry Backstage, in 2000 and 2001. 

But shortly thereafter, in 2003 to be exact, Holly abruptly announced her retirement from her musical career to pursue her other passion, art. On her website, she explains, “Early in my music career, I made a little promise to myself that if time and circumstances allowed, I would someday pursue my passion for making art. I am truly thrilled to now be a full time professional artist living and working in the great Southwest that I love, and love to paint!”

The 9513 had a chance to talk to the personable Holly Dunn and talk about her tale of two careers in artistry.

Ken Morton, Jr.- Both you and your brother ended up in the music biz, your brother more on the songwriting side of things. What prompted that career choice?

Holly Dunn- We grew up in a musical family. Some families are more focused on sports, ours just happened to be more on music and art and writing. Our dad was a preacher. My brother, Chris, started playing guitar at a very early age. And he’s the one that influenced me so that by the time I was eight or nine years old, I was playing guitar. It kind of grew from there. It was just our love and our talent. It was our thing for a lack of a better way to put it. I was actively performing in high school and in college and singing all the time. Chris moved to Nashville in the late 70’s and I graduated college in 1979- I’m giving away how old I am- and I just followed him out there. I really have to give him credit because he is the one that made it seem possible. We started writing songs and having hits as songwriters. It made the dream seem like it was attainable. 

KMJ- Was a performing career your ultimate goal as a music artist or was it songwriting- or were you just following your brother?

HD- I loved to perform. That was my thing, although I loved to write songs and sing my own songs. That was part of the package I guess. I think when I moved to Nashville, I didn’t know what I’d be able to do. I had hopes and aspirations, and I probably would have been satisfied just being a songwriter, but my goal was to sing in front of people and make records. And do my own music was big. I’m just thankful it worked out that way. 

KMJ- Talk to me about what life was like for you in the late 80’s and early 90’s

HD- In the early 80’s, I was a struggling songwriter making about $100 a week trying to survive living in a little apartment.

KMJ- And probably wondering what your brother had gotten you into?

HD- (Laughing) Exactly! My parents were back in Texas and I was the only girl in the family and every time I would talk to them, they would just say, “Come back to Texas. There’s a music scene here in Austin.” They were putting pressure on me to come home and get real and move back. It wasn’t that they didn’t think I had talent, they just wanted me closer to them. I stuck with it. I had enough encouragement. It’s kind of like gambling. If you win just enough, you keep playing. That’s how encouragement works in Nashville. I had just enough pats on the back. Other songwriters would have them to sing their demos. There were enough positives rolling in to keep going. By 1984, I met a guy named Tommy West who had produced Jim Croce, someone whose music I was very familiar with and whose songs I would sing a little bit. He was forming a record label with some guys from California for MTM, Mary Tyler Moore music group. I was the first artist they signed. I was hardly a recording artist at that point. It’s really what started things. 

KMJ- Was it “Daddy’s Hands” that really was the launch pad for your career?

HD- It really was. That little song. Man. It’s been such a gift. It was a gift to me the way it fell into my head. That little song was amazing. It was my fourth single. Each single did a little better and a little better, but I hadn’t even broken the Top 40 yet. I was barely known. My name was barely out there with the DJ’s and public. We had barely scratched the surface when we put out “Daddy’s Hands.” It blew the lid off of everything. It was instantaneously accepted. It didn’t go number one oddly enough. It went number seven. It was on the charts for over six months which back there was unheard of. I got two GRAMMY nominations because of that song and had eleven award nominations because of that little song. It was gangbusters for me. I won the Horizon Award at the CMA Awards and I won the New Female Vocalist Award at the ACM’s. All of a sudden, it exploded. Then I felt like I was trying to hold on for dear life. 

KMJ- Are your ACM & CMA Awards as meaningful today as when you won them?

HD- You know, I’m sitting here in my office looking at them right this minute. They really are. They’re right up there with my three GRAMMY nominations and my BMI Songwriter of the Year Award. I don’t have a lot of those things out any longer, it almost seems like another person. I’ve been gone long enough where it’s kind of a memory at this point. They symbolize that what we did mattered. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears in those awards. There are a lot of miles on the road for those. 

KMJ- Looking back, would you have done anything differently, anything over again?

HD- (Laughing) Oh gosh yes. Looking back, we were all so young, I can say there are lots of things we’d rather do over again. I thought I was so very mature at the time, and now at my ripe old age, I can say that there are a lot of things I would have done over again. But that’s just life. Some people I would have kept in my life and others I would have jetted a lot sooner than I did. I would have done things more calm and collected than I did. But you have to just look back and think that you did the best you could. You’d do it with a little more perspective. 

KMJ- You’ve retired fully from music and dove into art full-time haven’t you?

HD- I did. My mom’s a painter and I grew up in a household where music and art kind of ran neck and neck vying for my attention. I knew I had some artistic abilities, but music so grabbed me, that I never gave the art thing any time. I loved it and I collected it. And when I began to make a little bit of money, I became an avid art collector. On the road, we’d always have to stop at art galleries. Santé Fe became one of my favorite places because it’s such an art place. Bit by bit, as my music career began to wind down and as I started to purposefully remove myself from the music business, I began to give myself some time and space to work on my art. This is probably about ten years ago when I really gave myself the opportunity to work on it. At that time, I had made a lot of friends in the art business that were very encouraging to me. They are true artists. They said they’d look at my first fledgling pieces and told me to keep going. It was enough to make me want to keep going. I knew I could write a hit song and sing a hit record, but it’s this whole art thing that still fascinates me. It’s really harder. Music comes out of me so effortlessly. This art thing is much more demanding of me- and I love that though. It’s a challenge. I feel very blessed that I got to have two artistic focuses and endeavors in my life and paths to go on. When I left the music business, I was in my 40’s. What a great blessing it is to totally be able to reinvent yourself and have a whole other passion halfway through your life. I thought I had gotten everything out of the music business that I was going to get. I made a conscious decision one day- I was standing backstage at the Grand Ole Opry- that I could be 80 years old in the same Manuel jacket I had always worn singing “Daddy’s Hands” or I could just say, “Thank you very much.” I had been there 25 years and gotten everything out of it that I was going to get in a big sense and proven everything that I had set out to prove. I just decided to go do something else. And I haven’t regretted it. It wasn’t probably the most sound financial decision I ever made to walk away from six figures. (Laughing) But I’ve never regretted it- it’s led to the chance to do this. 

KMJ- Was walking away from your Grand Ole Opry membership the hardest piece of that decision?

HD- It was. And I would still be a member of the Opry if they’d allow it. But I’d been away from it for awhile- I think I’d been gone for two years solidly. And I got a phone call from Pete Fisher. And I knew it was coming. They like to keep the Opry role at about seventy people who are actively performing. And I knew that they’d been adding people since I left. But it hurt. I’m not going to tell you it didn’t. Because I loved the Opry. And I still love the Opry. And I had really participated as a younger member. It wasn’t just something I wanted on my resume like some who said that they wanted to be a member of the Opry and never showed up. I really was an active member. My last two years in Nashville, when I wasn’t on the road, I was at the Opry. I hosted the TV show and I hosted the backstage show for two years. I was Bill Anderson’s substitute host when he couldn’t be there. And I did commercials for them and radio stuff for them and on and on and on. I loved the Opry and what it stood and stands for. That was hard. The day they said they were going to remove me from the cast list that hurt. But I understand and wasn’t surprised. But that was a sad day. But I have some amazing memories. I wish there was a way though to- just to make a suggestion to them- to keep a list of folks that were members in the past. This whole total expunging you from the list is sort of a little harsh I think. There are people on that list, that I know for a fact, that might make it once a year if they’re lucky. It’s a little subjective. That’s my only gripe.

KMJ- Any side singing? Church? Little clubs no one knows about? Karaoke bars? Anything?

HD- (Laughing) No, not really. When I lived in New Mexico, I went to this little community church just literally around the corner from my house and I sang a little bit for them. And that was nice. It kept my chops up. I have a guitar that I keep out in my living room and occasionally I’ll pick it up because I just don’t want to totally lose my skills. But my total creative focus is on my art. I do five or six art shows a year. People come to see me there. I’m growing the art thing. There’s nothing like the music world and nothing will be. Art is a whole different thing. But this fulfills me creatively. I don’t miss the music thing because they both come from the same place. It doesn’t matter if it is a song or a piece of art, I just need to be making something. It puts me in my zone.

KMJ- Mostly southwestern in theme?

HD- I work in photo realistic forms. My work is representational. It’s almost photographic. I work in pastels and it’s highly detailed. I do a lot of southwestern themes because I’m drawn to that. I lived in New Mexico and I’ve gone back and forth between there and Texas since I was a little girl. I love the architecture and the colors of the southwest. I love the sky. I do a lot of iconic images of the southwest. I do a lot of churches. But I also do a lot of wildlife. I’ll pair an old Native American pot or antiquity and put a bird in the picture with it. I like to pair an animate and an inanimate object. I sell everything I make and as long as I keep doing that, I’ll keep chugging along. 

KMJ- Do you anticipate ever going back and recording or writing new music?

HD- I never say never. I’m a person who just never closes doors like that- mostly because I have gratitude to the people that I worked with. I don’t see that happening. I’ve been gone so long now. I still get my CMA magazine every quarter and I recognize fewer and fewer of the people in there. I realize I’m getting more and more far away from that business and out of touch. I’m not even sure it’s possible. I’m sure I could go and make a little record. I could drive an hour down to Austin and make a little record by myself and sell it on my website. I could do that. But I don’t have any plans to do that. I might do it someday, but it will just for my own self-satisfaction. There’s not a spot for me in Nashville any longer. They’ve moved on. When you’re off the charts for over a year, you’re as good as gone. How many people do you know that have really ever made a comeback? What they like now is the really young cute little skinny girls. (Laughter) I’m cute- just not as cute as I used to be! It happens to all of us. I just don’t think I want to go out and have to have a lot of surgery to get back to where I’d need to be. That darn father time. I’m probably in the best place I could ever be right now. I’m perfect in my personal life, right nearby my mother and having the time together is really a blessing for both of us. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Drew Kennedy To Release At Home In The Big Lonesome On November 3

Artist: Drew Kennedy
Album: At Home In The Big Lonesome
Label: Atlas Aurora
Release date: November 3, 2017

Lots has happened to big Texan singer/songwriter/author Drew Kennedy since the release of his seventh album Sad Songs Happily Played in 2014.  On the fist day of recording his eighth album in May of 2016 at Sony Tree in Nashville, his manager Scott Gunter interrupted the session: Kennedy had missed two calls and a text from his wife Holly. At just seven months pregnant, she’d gone into labor with their second son. “Scott helped me find a flight so I could go throw up in the bathroom,” Kennedy says. “I was so scared. It was a terrifying few hours until I could get home and look at her and just be there.”

This story has a good ending, however. While Oliver was born two months early and spent his first several weeks in the nearby neonatal children's hospital, Kennedy battled inner conflicts and real-life emotions that brewed internally. “It’s a really confusing tightrope I ended up walking,” Kennedy says. “I did not enjoy the guilt and anxiety that was created, when at the same time, I was watching my son flourish.”

Roughly 3 1/2 months later, Oliver was thriving, and Kennedy was ready to return to the studio. “I was really nervous I’d feel disjointed from all that work that’d been done without me there, even though there was still so much more to do,” Kennedy says. “It felt good to get back in and realize, No. These are your songs. Just because you had an emergency and those guys soldiered on without you doesn’t mean you’re not in this. It is you.” He pauses, then smiles. “In an odd way, it almost made the album even more personal because it was Dave’s and all the musicians’ way of being able to give all they had to support me, my family, and my art.”

The Dave that Kennedy refers to is producer Dave Brainard, the man behind such authentic country stars like Brandy Clark and Jamey Johnson. Kennedy says that, "even if he didn't make incredible records for incredible artists, I'd still want to hang out and talk philosophy and highways and music with the guy every chance I could."

The result is something remarkably Drew Kennedy. As he has proven time and time again on previous releases, his knack for storytelling and delivering incredibly smart songs that make you think and listen is among the best in Texas and beyond. There are no big radio anthems. The songs delivered are little vignettes on the human condition and consistently rate as this sites favorite releases. There's no surprise that Kennedy is also an author. His ability to capture emotive sharp imagery in his lyricism is profound.

Fueled by Kennedy’s character-driven songwriting and distinct vocals, the album is a confident foray into Kennedy’s most complex musical territory to date: lush piano pop, layers of strings, and dramatic percussion that nods more to the Wrecking Crew than any Texas playboys. “Dave said, ‘What do you want this to be?’” Kennedy says. “I said, ‘I want to make a sophisticated record for adults.’ We ended up making a record that’s so close to my personal listening taste––something I’ve never done before.”

“I try to make little movies,” Kennedy says. “I don’t try to create little episodes of the same TV shows with the same recurring characters. There’s a place for that, but I like to paint vignettes that stand on their own.”

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Country Music's Rhinestone Cowboy Glen Campbell Passes Away at 81

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.

Glen Campbell's public, painful struggle with Alzheimer's disease has ended.

The Country Music Hall of Fame member died today (8/8), six years after announcing he had been diagnosed with the dreaded disease.

Born in Delight, Arkansas, Glen Travis Campbell began his legendary career as a session musician, playing the daylights out of the guitar in the L.A.-based "Wrecking Crew" group of studio aces. In the mid-60s he became a Beach Boy, touring when Brian Wilson's stage fright caused him to pull out of a tour the day before it started.

From there he took a gorgeous John Hartford song about friendship and love without the pressures of commitment, "Gentle on My Mind," and turned it into a Grammy-winning country and pop hit. Both Campbell and Hartford received Grammy awards for the song. The popularity of the song led CBS to give Campbell a "summer replacement" show for the popular, yet controversial, Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (which, if you didn't know, had banjo master Steve Martin as a writer). His opening song was "Gentle on My Mind," occasionally with Hartford (or just Hartford singing by himself).

From there, Campbell couldn't be stopped for a time. He had hit after hit in country and pop with a string of Jimmy Webb songs that had city titles: "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," and "Galveston."

As country and pop music changed dramatically in the early 70s Campbell's career faded, but he came roaring back in 1975 with "Rhinestone Cowboy," a song about a down-and-out (and out-of-place) musician in New York City dreaming of hitting the big time. The song became the first song since "Big Bad John" in 1961 to simultaneously top the country and pop charts the same week.

Other hits followed on the comeback, including Campbell's cover of the Allen Toussaint song "Southern Nights" (which was also a #1 pop hit as well as a country and "easy listening" chart-topper), "Sunflower," and "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)" before the hits became fewer again. Still, Campbell managed to score top ten hits in the late 80s with "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" and "She's Gone, Gone, Gone."

As with many other country stars, Campbell tried his hand at acting. His major screen credit is an excellent performance in the classic John Wayne Oscar-winner True Grit. He also appeared in Any Which Way You Can, where he provided the title song.

Many celebrities, when they receive such a heartbreaking and terminal diagnosis such as Alzheimer's disease, retreat to privacy. Campbell decided to give Alzheimer's a very famous face. He did a "farewell" tour in 2014 and gave the world a touching look into the life of a person slowly succumbing to the clutches of the disease in the documentary Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. The documentary earned Campbell another Grammy award.

We've known for many years that this day was coming, but that certainly doesn't ease the heartache of knowing this giant is no longer with us. As a friend of mine, who writes for Rolling Stone Country, said, however, we can find some solace in knowing he is no longer suffering.

Farewell to the Rhinestone Cowboy, who will be ever gentle on our minds.

Glen Campbell was 81.

New Projects From Darius Rucker, Jerrod Niemann, Sammy Kershaw, Midland, Roy Orbison & More

With a little homework, lots of new projects were discovered on the horizon. Take a peek, do you have any anticipated favorites? 

Artist: Darius Rucker
Album: When Was The Last Time
Label: Capitol Nashville
Release date: October 20, 2017

Artist: Jerrod Niemann
Album: This Ride
Label: Curb
Release date: October 6, 2017

Artist: Blackhawk
Album: Greatest Hits Live
Label: Goldenlane
Release date: October 6, 2017

Artist: Sammy Kershaw
Album: Swamp Poppin'
Label: Big Hit Records
Release date: September 8, 2017

Artist: Midland
Album: On The Rocks
Label: Big Machine
Release date: September 22, 2017

Artist: The Lone Bellow
Album: Walk into a Storm
Label: Sony
Release date: September 15, 2017

Artist: David Crosby
Album: Sky Trails
Label: BMG
Release date: September 29, 2017

Artist: Roy Orbison
Album: A Love So Beautiful: Roy Orbison & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Label: Legacy
Release date: November 3, 2017