BONUS TRACKS: The Station Inn’s JT Gray, A Rockabilly Alliance, and a Bluegrass Joke-Off
The Station Inn in Nashville (photo via the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.)
Just a week after Station Inn owner JT Gray was seen in the Grammy awards broadcast talking about his iconic Nashville venue and presenting the award for Best Country Album, the music world was heartbroken to hear that Gray died on March 20. Anyone who’s been to the Station Inn has likely seen Gray hard at work, and musicians know him as their friend and champion. Here’s the venue’s post announcing the sad news, and you can read more about Gray and his remarkable life and impact on roots music in this obituary from The Tennessean.
This week we’re also mourning the loss of drummer Don Heffington, who played with Lone Justice and, later, with The Jayhawks, Dave Alvin, and Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band. He died at the age of 70 after having been hospitalized with leukemia. Read more about his life and work in Variety. And one of the tragic murders in this week’s mass shooting in a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket took the life of Suzanne Fountain, 59, house manager at eTown Hall. Read the show’s tribute to her here.
A new group called the Rockabilly Artists Alliance has formed at the Circle G Ranch in Horn Lake, Mississippi, to preserve this corner of roots music and honor its artists past and present. The RAA is led by Executive Director Jeff Cole, son of the late Lee Cole, who played on Louisiana Hayride and in Elvis Presley’s backing band in the 1950s. A hall of fame and museum is planned at the ranch, once a retreat for Elvis Presley, as well as an online music competition called the Rockabilly Rumble. Learn more about the RAA here.
If you like bluegrass, chances are you’ve heard a banjo joke or ten. And you might even have a good fiddle joke or mandolin joke up your sleeve as well. It’s time to let ’em shine in the First Annual Monroe Mandolin Camp Bluegrass Joke-Off, aimed at lightening the pandemic mood and creating a little community through humor. The online event, hosted by the Monroe Mandolin Camp in Monteagle, Tennessee, starts — appropriately — on April 1, April Fools’ Day, with weekly submission periods by instrument throughout April. In May, voting via Facebook will determine the 2021 Bluegrass Joke Grand Champion. Get info on how to enter and where to hear the jokes here, and remember, folks, the difference between a banjo and an anchor is that you tie a rope to an anchor before you throw it overboard.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Keb’Mo’ and Old Crow Medicine Show – “The Medicine Man”
Allison Russell – “Nightflyer,” from her debut solo album, Outside Child, coming in May
Morgan Wade – Reckless
Dragonborn – Ride Upon the Storm (music from the TV series)
Bowerbirds – “Moon Phase,” from their new album, becalmyounglovers, coming in April
Janis Joplin – “Me and Bobby McGee,” from the song’s first-ever official music video on the 50th anniversary of hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100: