Field Reportings from Issue #36
PERSONNEL: Shortly after WILCO announced in August that they were leaving Warner Bros. and taking their completed but unreleased album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with them, the band confirmed the departure of longtime guitarist Jay Bennett, who had been with the band since 1995 (joining just after the recording of their debut disc A.M.). According to Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy, it now looks like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot won’t see an official release until 2002, as the band is continuing to negotiate with several labels interested in releasing the album. Meanwhile, fans can hear the new material via streaming audio at www.wilcoworld.net….
Last issue, this column reported the breakup of BLUE MOUNTAIN, but it turned out things weren’t quite completely done yet. Despite the departure of bassist Laurie Stirratt and the apparent imminent dissolution of the band, guitarist Cary Hudson played a few shows in Germany with a reconfigured lineup in October….
Mandonlinist ADAM STEFFEY, formerly of Alison Krauss & Union Station, has joined Mountain Heart.
STAFF SHUFFLE: Nashville’s COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM embarked upon a major staff restructuring and dismissed five employees on September 7. Among those let go were Chris Dickinson, editor of the Journal Of Country Music, and research historian Ronnie Pugh, author of the acclaimed biography Ernest Tubb: Texas Troubadour. Passions ran high as word of the dismissals spread. Among the vocal critics was historian (and Middle Tennessee State University professor) Dr. Charles Wolfe, who sent an open letter to colleagues, accusing the museum of abandoning its mission. The director of the Country Music Foundation, Kyle Young, replied with his own open letter, stating that the museum’s mission had not changed. The Journal of Country Music will continue to be published, but at press time, a new editor had not yet been named.
FOR THE RECORD: Barricades And Brickwalls, the sophomore release by Australia’s rising country star KASEY CHAMBERS, has been pushed back to an early 2002 release by Warner Bros. after original plans called for it to be out this fall. The album was released in Australia in September….
The latest from Texas legend WILLIE NELSON is an all-star affair due out in early 2002 on Lost Highway. Among those dueting with Nelson on the disc are Lee Ann Womack, Bonnie Raitt, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Brian McKnight, and Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas….
Canadian singer Carolyn Mark is organizing a remake of the soundtrack to Robert Altman’s classic 1975 film NASHVILLE. Among the participants are Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, and the Sadies’ Dallas Good. The album is tentatively scheduled for release on Mint Records in February….
New West Records has signed San Francisco rocker/songwriter CHUCK PROPHET, with an early 2002 album release planned….
Also due in early 2002 on New West, with a tentative release date of January 15, is the third solo album by former True Believers guitarist JON DEE GRAHAM….
Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs and Lee Ann Womack contribute to Everybody’s Talkin’, the solo debut by bluegrass player PAUL BREWSTER….
Country legend LORETTA LYNN is scheduled to record to record Nat Stuckey’s “Sweet Thang” as a duet with Alan Jackson. This will be the second time around for Lynn, who recorded the song as a duet with Ernest Tubb circa 1966….
MCA recording artist MARK COLLIE had plans to record a live album in October at Tennessee’s Brushy Mountain prison. The album is slated for release in spring 2002….
Audium Records has released The Beginning, an acoustic blues album by TONY JOE WHITE. It had previously only been available at the singer’s website….
Austin honky-tonker DALE WATSON releases Christmas Time In Texas on Audium on October 23…..
Slewfoot Records has signed Kansas City, Missouri, band HADACOL. The group’s next album, All In Your Head, was produced by Lou Whitney and will be released November 27….
ON & OFF THE ROAD: Many of the musicians who appeared on the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and starred in the subsequent concert documentary Down From The Mountain will hit the road for a 20-city tour in early 2002. Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and Norman Blake will be part of the package, as well as special guest Patty Loveless, who is not on the O Brother soundtrack….
Film star BILLY BOB THORNTON, whose debut disc Private Heart was released by Lost Highway in September, postponed a planned concert tour with Marty Stuart, apparently so he could focus on promoting the four films he is in that will be released this fall.
ON THE MEND: After suffering a heart attack on August 25, legendary Texas songwriter BILLY JOE SHAVER is recovering. Shaver underwent angioplasty surgery on August 30 to remove blockages in two of four blocked arteries. Doctors had originally planned to do quadruple bypass surgery, but they later decided that two of the blockages could be repaired with an angioplasty procedure. After recuperating, Shaver and guitarist Jesse Taylor planned to join Kinky Friedman for a series of European dates dubbed the “Two For Texas Tour”, starting in Stockholm October 23 and wrapping up in London on November 12. An Australian tour with the same lineup is scheduled for February.
PICKIN’ & GRINNIN’: The 12th annual INTERNATIONAL BLUEGRASS MUSIC ASSOCIATION AWARDS were presented October 4 at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville, Kentucky. As expected, the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? was a big winner, earning both Album of the Year and Song of the Year, the latter for “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” with Dan Tyminski on lead vocals. Tyminski, who also plays with Alison Krauss & Union Station, took home four individual awards as well. Also receiving four awards was Rhonda Vincent including her first as Entertainer of the Year (shared with her band, the Rage). The Emerging Artist award went to Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show. For a complete list of winners, check out the IBMA’s website at www.ibma.org.