The Sunday Morning Column: (May 30, 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.

As noted last week, this feature is being temporarily shortened while I publish my book project. Not that I really needed to for this week, because to describe it in a nutshell:


On the Horizon

New album releases:

May 28

  • Shannon McNally – The Waylon Sessions
  • Ashley McBryde – Never Will: Live From a Distance
  • Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia
  • The Infamous Stringdusters – A Tribute to Bill Monroe
  • Rhonda Vincent – Music Is What I See
  • Asleep at the Wheel – Better Times (EP)
  • Bo DePeña – It’s About to Get Western
  • River & Rolling Thunder – On the Banks of the Tennessee
  • Beth Whitney – Into the Ground
  • Jamestown Revival – Fireside with Louis L’Amour (EP)
  • The Apalachicola Sound – Snakeskin Halos

June 4

  • Mark Collie – Book of My Blues
  • Brett Young – Weekends Look A Little Different These Days
  • Red Shahan – Javelina
  • Various Artists – With A Little Help From My Friends (EP)

Impacting country radio:

Nothing … at least not until the next edition of this feature, that is.


Review log:

I am not sure if I’ll get to it this week, but I’m feeling like a review roundup for the latest projects from Allison Russell, Candi Carpenter, Blackberry Smoke, and Rhonda Vincent is in order. Otherwise, considering June is midyear list time and I’m struggling to keep up with everything as it is, I’m cherrypicking what I want to review for the foreseeable future.

Stacks of Facts

Brandi Carlile

A headline that speaks for itself: A week of John Prine tribute concerts is coming to Nashville. Titled “You Got Gold: Celebrating the Life & Songs of John Prine,” the event is meant to celebrate what would have been Prine’s 75th birthday, through performances given at various Nashville venues, like the Ryman Auditorium and Basement East, among others. Ticket information can be found here, but more general information can be found in the accompanying link (Rolling Stone)

Hey, have you gotten caught up with part one of ‘A Modern Country Music History?’ There’s more to come, but The Ringer just published an article about SoundScan, which changed everything when it came to music sales and gave country music its deserved boom period in the early 1990s (though the article is more musically all-encompassing). “Next SoundScan revelation: Hard rock and heavy metal were way more popular than anybody thought. Same deal with alternative rock, R&B, and most vitally, rap and country … That September, Garth Brooks’s third album, the eventually 14-times-platinum Ropin’ the Wind, debuted at No. 1, the week after Metallica’s eventually 16-times-platinum self-titled Black Album debuted there.” (The Ringer, by Rob Harvilla)

Americana – whatever that is – had a big week, as the Americana Music Association unveiled its nominees for its 20th annual Americana Honors & Awards, with a bunch of positive ones to highlight, like Brandi Carlile, Billy Strings, Charley Crockett, and Our Native Daughters, among so many others, for various categories.

In sad news, songwriter Dewayne Blackwell, who penned hits like “Friends in Low Places,” “Honkytonk Man” and more, has passed away at age 84. “What we lost when we lost Dewayne Blackwell was someone who truly was a craftsman, not a settler. He would not settle. If everything lined up, it would take you five minutes to write a song; if things didn’t, it could take you five years to write a song. He was not one of those guys that would let anything pass. He did it for the sake of the song and for the sake of entertainment. He understood that.” – Garth Brooks, in a statement on the songwriter’s legacy. (Billboard)

In further sad news, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” singer B.J. Thomas has died at age 78. (Music Row)

He’s really doing it, folks. Kevin John Coyne, founder of Country Universe, (another outlet I write for, so, you know, bias and what not), has begun a new feature in which he examines every No. 1 country single from the 1990s. What I love about the feature thus far is that it combines a historical perspective with a critical one, and with hits like Tanya Tucker’s “My Arms Stay Open All Night” and Keith Whitley’s “It Ain’t Nothin’” already covered, Kevin has come out swinging.

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