Americana and Roots Music News: A Ramblin’ Roundup
Those of you who have been reading my weekly No Depression columns over the years or following my daily Facebook posts hopefully view me as an observant musical news aggregator if not, perhaps, the occasional agitator. I usually spend an hour or so each day on the hunt for interesting articles, news stories, photography, art, and video clips that are hiding in plain sight but require a bit of sleuthing to assemble in one place. It’s done only out of curiosity, and to expand my own musical knowledge while staying on top of the new and discovering the unique. The act of sharing it with y’all is simply my hobby; no different than assembling little boats inside a bottle or building birdhouses in the workshop. So instead of picking one topic for this particular Broadside, here are a few things I hope you find of interest.
The Queen of Rockabilly Partners with a Runaway
Wanda Jackson, the 80-year-old singer-songwriter and guitarist who began performing back in 1955 and often toured with (and briefly dated) her friend Elvis Presley, is not quite ready to retire. In a 20-year period, she hit the charts with 30 singles and to date has released over 40 albums. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 and two years later released a collaboration with Jack White titled The Party Ain’t Over, and followed that up a year later with Unfinished Business, produced by Justin Townes Earle.
The new project will be released in 2019, and Joan Jett will be producing a set of new songs co-written by Wanda along with some Nashville-based folks including Angaleena Presley of the Pistol Annies and “Ex’s and Oh’s” singer Elle King.”The songs on this project are very dear to my heart, as a lot of them are based on my own life experiences,” said Jackson. “I’m really looking forward to sharing what Joan and I have been working on.”
The Elmore James Tribute Album
To celebrate the 100th birthday of Delta blues master Elmore James, last January Sylvan Songs Records released a tribute titled Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James that features Tom Jones, Bettye LaVette, Keb’ Mo’, Warren Haynes, Billy Gibbons, Shelby Lynne and others with all profits going to charity. Since it came out just after the holiday season, it’s possible you may have missed this gem, although it was written up in Rolling Stone (who reads that anymore?) and posted on the NPR website.
Music Radar has recently published an excellent biography of Elmore that I highly recommend, and it includes interviews with a number of the tribute’s participants.
The Sweetheart of the Rodeo Tour
You may have heard by now that Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman are teaming up with Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives for a number of concerts to celebrate the release of The Byrds’ 1968 classic album (McGuinn and Hillman are unable to use the band’s name — it’s owned by David Crosby but you never know, he might pop up as a surprise guest along the way). Tickets went on sale recently here in NYC for a September show at Town Hall.
Although I went to buy mine the day they were released to the public, it was already sold out to folks who had Ticketmaster’s “platinum” access and could snatch them up in a presale two days earlier. Now they’re being scalped at $350 each, so unless someone out there wants to help me out, I’ll be home alone that night watching Netflix. It’s interesting to note that the show in Nashville at the Ryman had (as of this writing) quite a few seats available at $35 face value. Check out this Brooklyn Vegan article to see if the show is coming to your town.
John Coltrane Goes Top 40
John Coltrane’s posthumously released Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, with songs recorded back in 1963, was just released debuted at #21 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. In an article published on Forbes‘ website, tenor saxophonist and one-time Coltrane collaborator Sonny Rollins likened The Lost Album‘s discovery to “finding a new room in the Great Pyramid.”
Coltrane’s legend as one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time sadly didn’t blossom until after his death in 1967 at 40 years old. While Giant Steps and A Love Supreme would each offer excellent entry ramps to his music for the new listener, this new album also offers a fresh insight into what made Coltrane so unique.
An Albert Lee Interview
Australia’s wonderful Beat Magazine recently reported on Albert Lee’s current tour with Peter Asher that is taking him throughout the world. At age 74 the versatile guitarist, known for his super-fast guitar picking based on the styles of Chet Atkins and James Burton, is doing a set with Asher that is acoustic and focused on both stories and songs.
“There are a lot of good players out there,” Lee says. “I started out loving country music, but country has changed a lot and I can’t say that I really like a lot of the stuff coming out of Nashville now — they’re good players, good singers — but the kind of music I like is called Americana. It was always country music until about 20 years ago when it became more pop. You don’t seem to hear a clean guitar on those Nashville records any more, it’s more of a rock‘n’roll guitar.”
And in the End …
Every night at The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily I post a video to close out the day. I like to mix up the old and new, and try to find things lost or forgotten. One night it could be Jackie Wilson on The Ed Sullivan Show, and on another maybe June Carter and Don Gibson doing a duet of “Oh Lonesome Me.” This one is likely something you’ve seen before, but I just came across it recently and it’s one of my favorites. Let’s go with Keith down to South Carolina, where I hear there are many tall pines.
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboard and Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.