The Sunday Morning Paper: Finally, Some Willie Good News – Jan. 17, 2021

The Sunday Morning Paper is a weekly feature where I share news that’s occurred within the country music industry over the past week and quote from any further pieces that interest me, and may interest you.

Two week in, I’d like to make something clear: This isn’t music journalism, but rather a roundup of music journalism, and I highly encourage you all to click on the links provided and find further details on news or dive into the quotable pieces and support the authors behind them. I am simply a messenger, and even that feels weird to say.

Anyway …

On the Horizon:

New album releases:

I neglected to include The Years: A MusicFest Tribute to Cody Canada and the Music of Cross Canadian Ragweed in last week’s edition, which was released on Jan. 8 and one that I had written on my Album Release Schedule page as a Jan. 22 release. I apologize for the error and have updated the page accordingly.


Kerri Watt – Neptune’s Daughter
Devin Dawson – Pink Slip (EP)


Misty River – Promises
Lee Rocker – Gather Round
Justin Moses – Fall Like Rain

Impacting at country radio:

Jan. 19

  • Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage”
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time”
  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided”

Review log:

  • The Divorcees – Drop of Blood (backlog; will cover in an eventual review roundup)

Just the Facts, Jack

Hey, speaking of Jacks, Jack Ingram has announced the launch of a new podcast, “Jackin’ Around,” set to air Jan. 15. The first guests include Wade Bowen (Jan. 15) and Waylon Payne (Jan. 22). The podcast will mainly feature personal stories from a variety of guests all over the country music universe. (Music Row)

Rascal Flatts gave an update to their plans following the delay of their farewell tour, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that update, lead singer Gary LeVox revealed he is working on a solo project. (Sounds Like Nashville)

As expected, Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous album broke several streaming records, setting the record at Apple Music for the biggest first day and biggest first week country album of all-time on the platform. Wallen also broke Amazon Music’s global first day streaming record for a country album debut; meanwhile, the album is now Spotify’s biggest all-time first day streaming record for a country album. (Music Row)

CMT has partnered with Skyville Live to bring ten of its music specials to life in 2021. The first one, set to premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 10/9 CST, celebrates the music of Kris Kristofferson, with special guests Brandy Clark, Jason Isbell, Lady A and Raul Malo. (Music Row)

Randy Houser and Jamey Johnson have announced a joint acoustic tour, the Country Cadillac Tour, with 13 dates scheduled to begin Feb. 5 at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, Texas. Tour dates and more information can be found in the link provided. (Rolling Stone)

Zac Brown Band member John Driskell Hopkins has announced a solo album, Lonesome High, set for release Feb. 19. (Music Row)

Parker Millsap has announced a new album, Be Here Instead, set for release on April 9. (Music Row)

Hailey Whitters has announced a deluxe release of 2020’s The Dream, set for release on Feb. 26 and set to feature five new tracks, including the Little Big Town collaboration of “Fillin’ My Cup,” released at the beginning of this year. (Music Row)

Ashley McBryde performed her current single “Martha Divine” Jan. 13 on The Ellen Show.

In the “somewhere-between-news-and-what-the-f$%!-is-going-on” category, Donald Trump awarded the National Medal of the Arts to Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs, while the U.S. House voted Wednesday to impeach him a second time. (Billboard)

In what can only be described as unfortunate and shocking, Jason “Rowdy” Cope, guitarist for and founding member of the Steel Woods, has passed away, according to a statement from the band.

In just simply stellar news, Willie Nelson has received his COVID vaccine. (Rolling Stone) He also has been announced as the keynote speaker for this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival Online on March 16-20. (Music Row)

UPDATE: In other good news, Loretta Lynn has also received her COVID vaccine! (WKRN)

Now, Don’t Quote Me, But Maybe You’ll Enjoy These Bits and Pieces

“I’ll be worried that I’m about to have a heart attack or a stroke. It becomes this very obsessive thing that you literally can never have an answer to. That’s the awful part of it. You have to teach yourself to become comfortable with the fact that you’ll never get an answer and that it is a super uncertain thing … arming yourself with the knowledge of exactly what’s going on is the most important thing, I’ve found.” – Luke Combs, in a revealing interview on an episode of The Big Interview With Dan Rather, exploring his battles with anxiety and OCD.

For my fellow musical bookworms out there, Henry Carrigan of No Depression has assembled a list of upcoming books on music and musicians that looks quite interesting. Ones that I’m personally looking forward to are Brandi Carlile’s Broken Horses (April) and Eric Weisbard’s Songbooks: The Literature of American Popular Music.

“[Justin Townes] Earle was funny, caring, and obsessed with esoterica involving antique Rolexes and baseball history. His magnetic persona left a permanent impression on those who knew him … Earle embraced and solidified his own legend on and off the stage, sharing tragicomic stories about his adolescent heroin overdoses and bar fights that cost him teeth.” – Jonathan Bernstein, in a moving essay dedicated to the late Justin Townes Earle. (Rolling Stone)

Friend-of-the-blog Jason Scott wrote a compelling piece on Reba McEntire and how she used her platform to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in a very public way, which comes with an utterly fascinating story on “Fancy,” too, examining how its differences from Bobbie Gentry’s folk origins ushered in a new avenue for an underrepresented audience to express themselves. (American Songwriter)

Rissi Palmer’s Color Me Country class of 2021 includes Ashlie Amber, Camille, Kären McCormick, Kathryn Shipley, and Julie Williams. (The Boot)

Friend-of-the-blog Kyle examined Joe Diffie’s career as the latest installment in his deep-dive series, in what is simply a stellar reading on Diffie’s mainstream success all the way to his tragic end. Well-worth the read, as are all of Kyle’s deep-dives. (Kyle’s Korner)

Lastly, in the-bit-of-shameful-self-promotion-for-which-I-feel-no-shame category, I wrote about Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train” for Country Universe.

Anything else? Let me know in the comments below!

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