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. Click on the hyperlinks provided at the end of each blurb to find out more.
Not a lot happened this week, but there are some excellent quotable pieces here, folks. Stick around! Anyway, onward.
On the Horizon
New album releases:
- Parker Millsap – Be Here Instead
- Dallas Moore – The Rain
- Katie Jo – Pawn Shop Queen
- Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi – They’re Calling Me Home
- Willie Nelson – Texas Willie (old demo collection)
- Luke Bryan – Born Here, Live Here, Die Here (Deluxe)
- Jenny Tolman – There Goes the Neighborhood (Deluxe)
- Samantha Crain – I Guess We Live Here Now EP
- Lone Hollow – Lone Hollow EP
- Highway Natives – Highway Natives EP
- The Pink Stones – Introducing the Pink Stones
- Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Dance Songs for Hard Times
- Taylor Swift – Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
- The Brother Brothers – Calla Lily
- Amigo the Devil – Born Against
- Triston Marez – Triston Marez
- Midland – The Sonic Ranch (physical)
- Lainey Wilson – Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ (physical release)
Impacting country radio:
- Ian Munsick, “Long Haul”
Well, I went from having “not much” in my backlog to having the gates burst wide open. So, of the names with recent projects I’m interested in covering: LoneHollow, Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi, SUNDAYS, Parker Millsap, Melissa Carper, Miko Marks, Samantha Crain, Dallas Moore, Katie Jo, and next week, Triston Marez. Those first four names will likely comprise my first album review roundup, and with next week looking light as well (I will cover the Eric Church project when I can hear the full 24 songs), we’ll see what else we can knock out. Stay tuned!
Just the Facts, Jack
Both Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett have been announced as winners ahead of this year’s ACM Awards, for Best New Artist of the Year. The performance lineup features thus far, among others: Ashley McBryde, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Alan Jackson, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, and more. The program will be broadcast live from three different locations on Sunday, April 18, including the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Bluebird Cafe. (Wide Open Country)
New music news: Clay Walker will release Texas to Tennessee on July 30, including his latest single “Need a Bar Sometimes” (Music Row). Anderson East will release Maybe We Never Die on August 20, featuring lead single “Madelyn” (Music Row). Also, Charlie Worsham will release a new single, “Fist Through this Town,” next week.
In the what-the-f***-this-is-pretty-cool category, both Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell have been cast in the Killers of the Flower Moon film. Based in 1920 Oklahoma, the film depicts the real-life serial murders of oil-wealthy Osage Nation members after discovering crude on the land and the string of crimes that came to be known as the Reign of Terror, and helped lead to the formation of the F.B.I. Simpson will portray a rodeo champion and bootlegger, and Isbell will portray a friend of the character Ernest Burkhart, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. (Osage News)
Zach Bryan made his Grand Ole Opry debut last night, and if you’re interested, he’s introduced at the 32:12 mark. The whole video is worth watching, though!
Eric Church has announced his return to the road with the Gather Again Tour, with one of the earlier shows kicking off in my home of Buffalo, NY. The tour starts on Sept. 17 and will be his first with a true in-the-round setup. More info on ticket information can be found in the accompanying link. (Eric Church website)
In sad news, Bill Owens, uncle to Dolly Parton, has passed away. As the person who showed Parton that she could turn her singing talents into a legitimate profession, it’s fair to say he had a monumental impact on her career. “He was there to take me around to all of the local shows, got me my first job on the ‘Cas Walker Show,” Parton said. “He took me back-and-forth to Nashville through the years, walked up-and-down the streets with me, knocking on doors to get me signed up to labels or publishing companies. It’s really hard to say or to know for sure what all you owe somebody for your success. But I can tell you for sure that I owe Uncle Billy an awful lot.” (Dolly Parton website)
Morgan Wade has a new music video out for “Wilder Days,” off of Reckless, released this past March.
The Backroad’s Christine has posted an excellent video on her experience as an Asian-American country music fan and how she came to love country music. “If you love the music,” she says, “then you get to be a country fan. It doesn’t matter who you are and what your background is.” I always appreciate Christine’s perspective on new music and her approach, and if you needed a good starting point into her work, this would likely be it. Like and subscribe to catch more of her stuff, too. Country music is for everyone.
“At the time, we were moving a lot. Our dad was the sickest he’d ever been in his alcoholism. We were both failing every class. I was in special education classes. [My brother’s] anxiety was out of control. And I was out of the closet at school, and that was a big deal. That’s a really big deal to be, like, 14 and out of the closet in a small town. I was the only gay person. And just as I started 10th grade, one of our moves had led us into an address change that would have put me in a whole new school district for the first time in a long time … And so we dropped out of school on the same day at the same time and continued our parents’ legacy of dropping out of school. It was not a beautiful moment in our adolescence. “ – Brandi Carlile, speaking to part of her childhood experience she details further in her new memoir, Broken Horses. (NPR, by Terry Gross)
“We did this Christmas show … in Nashville, and John reached out and said he wanted to come and see the show, so we were able to set him in this VIP section above the soundboard … we really treated him like royalty that night. It was amazing. He walked right through the crowd and everybody kind of separated and it was this epic thing. He sat up there and ate a couple hot dogs and made some handsome johnnies with his buddy Shawn – Shawn Camp – they were sitting up there together.” – Billy Strings, recalling how John Prine caught his Christmas show at the last minute and a special memory created last year. Strings also discusses a lunch meeting he never got to have with Prine, and if that doesn’t hit hard following the one-year anniversary of his death, I don’t know what does. (American Songwriter, by Matt Wallock)
Wide Open Country’s Bobby Moore wrote a fascinatingly weird and wild piece on the time Webb Pierce got arrested in 1953 for trying to barge into wrestler Cora Combs’ dressing room. What’s more interesting is Combs, who claimed to have ghost-written Pierce songs and appeared in country music videos as late as the ‘90s, including her role as the bartender in Travis Tritt’s “Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof.” Definitely worth a read.
“I was trying to figure it out. I don’t know … there are times after that record was released that I pretty much thought that was it for me as a musician. I thought I’d said what I needed to say. When I recorded that record, that’s all I really wanted. I just wanted to have those songs documented. After that album, I met Tyler Childers and Byron Roberts, and Ian from Whizzbang. Guys from Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. They kinda knew that I was stepping away, I guess.” – Arlo McKinley, on the path that led him to 2020’s critically acclaimed Die Midwestern and how it almost didn’t happen. (Hippies and Cowboys, by Jayson Potter)
Billboard has posted a fascinating study on ‘90s country music that – instead of focusing on the oft-dubbed “class of ‘89” and the rise of artists like Clint Black and Garth Brooks – focuses on artists somewhat forgotten from the era: Tracy Lawrence, Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio, Little Texas, McBride & the Ride, Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, Collin Raye, Billy Dean, and Hal Ketchum, to be exact. “We were getting four singles a year,” Lawrence says in the piece. “A guy like me that had a really solid 10-year run and had a couple of hits as we got into the 2000s, I was able to amass a great body of work that allows me to keep working for a long time. It’s harder for young artist to really get a body of work. It takes longer to put that together now.” (Billboard, by Tom Roland)
That’s all, folks! Anything else? Let me know!