The Sunday Morning Paper: Dang Me! ACM Fever Leads to Slow News Week (April 18, 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. Click on the hyperlinks provided at the end of each blurb to find out more.

I actually considered holding this off until next week and doing a double feature of sorts for then, because that’s how lacking this week was, folks. I mean, the most noteworthy news concerned Morgan Wallen, and I just don’t care. Anyway … onward?


On the Horizon

New album releases:

April 16

  • The Brother Brothers – Calla Lily
  • Amigo the Devil – Born Against
  • Triston Marez – Triston Marez
  • Midland – The Sonic Ranch (physical release)
  • Lainey Wilson – Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ (physical release)
  • Eric Church – Heart
  • Stephen Flatt – Cumberland Bones
  • Annie Moses Band – Tales From My Grandpa’s Pulpit
  • Miles Garrett – Meridian
  • June Star – How We See It Now
  • West of Texas – Heartache, Hangovers & Honky Tonk
  • Zach Schmidt – Raise A Banner

April 20

  • Eric Church – &
  • Nick Shoulders – Home on the Rage

April 23

  • Eric Church – Soul
  • Tracy Lawrence – Hindsight 2020, Vol. 1: Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell
  • Justin Moore – Straight Outta the Country
  • Elvie Shane – Country Roads EP

Impacting country radio:

April 19

  • Dillon Carmichael, “Hot Beer”
  • Kelsea Ballerini featuring Kenny Chesney, “Half of My Hometown”
  • Maddie & Tae, “Woman You Got”
  • Niko Moon, “No Sad Songs”

Single-minded (New! This is my way of spotlighting weekly single releases, just as I do with the album releases – This will never necessarily dictate the direction of each week’s upcoming Boom-or-Bust Jukebox, though):

Review log:

I’ve been making good progress on my review backlog, and before I sit down to tackle that huge Eric Church project next week, let’s see if I can’t knock out more albums from, say, Melissa Carper, Canaan Smith, Dallas Moore, Katie Jo, Adeem the Artist, and Triston Marez, eh? Oh, and if you missed them, I reviewed the new album from Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi (in full), plus projects from LoneHollow, Parker Millsap, and SUNDAYS this past week. New releases for 2021 are picking up steam in both quality and quantity!


Just the Facts, Jack

Rusty Young. Credit: Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Clint Black will host a new interview-based television show on the Opry’s Circle Network, set to premiere on May 22. Thus far, special guests include Sara Evans, Darius Rucker, Steve Wariner, Trace Adkins, Travis Tritt, and more. (Wide Open Country)

New music news: Sarah Jarosz will release a new project, Blue Heron Suite, on May 7, which was actually recorded in 2018 and comes just one year after her last album, 2020’s World on the Ground (Music Row). Amythyst Kiah will also release her newest album, Wary + Strange, on June 18, as her Rounder Records debut project. (Rolling Stone)

There’s a new push to get Dolly Parton’s take on “Amazing Grace” officially certified as the Tennessee state hymn, and the bill is now headed to the Senate. 2021, am I right? (Southern Living)

A country music video roundup: Eric Church’s “Break it Kind of Guy” and Runaway June’s “My Song” (written by Johnny Cash).

In ACM news, Luke Bryan is out due to contracting COVID-19, and if you’re interested in who is performing, the list is here, via The Boot. Surprising and potentially notable performances will include Dierks Bentley performing “Pride (in the Name of Love)” with War and Treaty, a U2 cover originally featured on Bentley’s 2010 bluegrass project, Up on the Ridge, of all things, Miranda Lambert performing “In His Arms” with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall, and Chris Stapleton performing “Maggie’s Song.”

In sad news, Poco co-founder Rusty Young passed away at age 75 from a heart attack this past Wednesday. Poco, for those that don’t know, is one band credited as a founder of the Southern California country rock sound that was never quite accepted in Nashville. (USA Today)


Potent Quotables

Ahead of tonight’s ACM Awards, I joined my Country Universe colleagues in assembling our list of combined picks and predictions. I am historically bad at these, but they’re always fun to compile anyway.

“When I was 9 years old, I had a friend over for a playdate. We were playing dress up and pretending we were superstars. I was Britney Spears and she was Shania Twain. We both wrote songs for ourselves, and mine wasn’t half bad. I mean, for a 9-year-old pretending to be Britney Spears anyway. That’s when I wrote my first song, ‘Lucky Me,’ and I’ve been writing ever since.” – Lainey Wilson, in a fun new interview with Pop Wrapped that delves into her background and her debut album, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin,’ which now has a physical version available. (Pop Wrapped, by Rebecca Haslam)

“The first real big memory I had with country music was listening to his Classic Country Hits CD in that truck while driving down backroads and the song ‘Dang Me’ by Roger Miller played and I was hooked. I loved the melodic story that my 5-year-old brain didn’t comprehend, but of course singing along [with] ‘dang me, dang me, oughta take a rope ‘n hang me’ – maybe I thought of my 1st grade crush leavin’ me, who knows.” – Triston Marez, on how a CD from his grandfather came to help him love country music and Roger Miller in particular. Marez released his self-titled debut album this past Friday. (Wide Open Country, by Bobbie Jean Sawyer)

“I heard Willie tell a story one time. This will put it in perspective of that era … So ‘Pancho & Lefty’ is a big Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson song. They’re partyin’, they’re at Willie’s studio, they’re at Willie’s house and they’re going hard one night. And Willie convinces Merle to record this Townes Van Zandt song called ‘Pancho & Lefty.’ Merle hears it, Merle loves it, Merle goes in and does that last verse, which I think is a classic last verse of any Merle Haggard performance. Well, Merle goes to his bus, which is parked at Willie’s studio, he passes out. He gets up the next morning and walks in and goes, ‘Hey, Willie, what did we do last night? We recorded, what was that thing?’ Willie says, ‘We recorded the song called ‘Pancho & Lefty’ Townes Van Zandt wrote.’ Merle goes, ‘I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to do that. I wanna re-record it.’ And Willie goes, ‘Hoss, that’s already out of here on its way to New York. It’ll be on the radio next week.’ ” – Eric Church, in a recent episode of the “At Home” podcast discussing the familiar tale of how the Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard recording of “Pancho & Lefty” came to be. I wrote about it myself just last year over at Country Universe.


That’s it, folks. Anything else? Let me know!

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