Field Reportings from Issue #49
CASH CARRIES ON: The late Johnny Cash continues to hold a powerful presence in American popular culture. At the CMA Awards on November 5, Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around was named album of the year; he also won best single and best music video for “Hurt”. A star-studded tribute show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium was taped for CMT on November 10, and his five-disc box Unearthed was released on November 25 (both the show and the box are reviewed in this issue). Due out in 2004 are American V, Cash’s final collaboration with producer Rick Rubin, and the film I Walk The Line, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash….
Michael Streissguth, author of the Johnny Cash Reader, has penned Live At Folsom Prison: The Making Of Johnny Cash’s Masterpiece, scheduled to hit the bookshelves this year. He’s also working on an in-depth Cash biography….
Cash will be among the artists featured on a Carter Family tribute album that’s in the works on Dualtone Records.
ESCOVEDO UPDATE: An upcoming Alejandro Escovedo tribute disc on Or Music is set to include tracks from Joe Ely, Whiskeytown, Los Lonely Boys and Jennifer Warnes, as well as Alejandro’s brother Pete Escovedo and his niece Sheila E. No release date has been set yet. The label says that 50 percent of all label proceeds from the disc will go to the Alejandro Escovedo Medical & Living Expense Trust (www.alejandrofund.com)….
Benefits across the nation to assist Escovedo continued through the fall of 2003, including an all-day show at Retail Bar in Raleigh, North Carolina, that raised more than $12,000 and included reunion performances by the Backsliders, 6 String Drag, and Chris Stamey & Peter Holsapple as well as sets by Superchunk, Marah, Thad Cockrell, Two Dollar Pistols, Chatham County Line, the Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood, and others.
LOST IN AUSTIN: Singer Tony Villanueva is leaving the Derailers after ten years with the Austin honky-tonk outfit. Villanueva says he wants to spend more time with his family. Reports in Austin papers suggest that guitarist Brian Hofeldt may continue playing with drummer Scott Matthews and bassist Ed Adkins, though it’s not clear whether they’ll continue to use the Derailers name. Villanueva’s last show with the group was scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas….
Fellow Austin country musician Don Walser recently announced he is retiring because of the effects of diabetes and neuropathy. Walser put out a handful of acclaimed records in 1990s when he was able to concentrate on music after a long career in the National Guard.
NEW YEAR, NEW LABEL: New to the roster of Compadre Records is Austin singer-songwriter James McMurtry, whose first live album, Live In Aught Three, is due in March….
Nashville’s BR549 returns to the racks March 9, this time on Dualtone, with a disc titled Tangled In The Pines….
Willard Grant Conspiracy surfaces on Kimchee Records February 17 with their fifth full-length, Regard The End….
Vanguard welcomes Garrison Starr and Catie Curtis to their fold. Starr’s Airstreams And Satellites touches down February 17, while Curtis’ Dreaming In Romance Languages follows in March….
Irish band the Frames move to Epitaph affiliate Anti for the February 24 release of Set List, a live album that was released independently in the Ireland and topped their home country’s pop charts….
The Koch Records debut of Abra Moore, Everything Changed, is due March 9. Koch also plans to release its first Richard Shindell disc in the spring.
COMING SOON: Red House Records releases a new disc from Lucy Kaplansky, titled The Red Thread, on February 10….
The latest from Grant Lee Phillips, titled Virginia Creeper, is due February 17 on Zoe/Rounder and includes a cover of Gram Parsons’ “Hickory Wind”….
Also on February 17, Nashville band Lambchop unleashes two separate CDs on Merge: Aw Cmon and No You Cmon….
The debut album from Australian Anne McCue, titled Roll, is due February 24 on Messenger Records. McCue has been touted by Lucinda Williams, who included one of McCue’s songs on her installment of the Starbucks/Hear Music “Artist’s Choice” compilation series….
Angel Dean and Sue Garner have teamed up for Pot Liquor, an album of “country gothic” music produced by J.D. Foster and due out in the spring on Diesel Only….
Smith Music’s ongoing Live At Billy Bob’s series will feature a Willie Nelson CD/DVD on April 13.
IN THE WORKS: Faced with the daunting task of following up Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco recently reconvened in New York City. The band is again working with producer Jim O’Rourke….
Wilco bassist John Stirratt has been recording with his sister Laurie Stirratt, formerly of Blue Mountain, for a collaborative disc to be released later this year….
Philadelphia band Marah is close to completing a new album, eyeing a 2004 release on a label yet to be determined….
Tift Merritt began work on her sophomore disc for Lost Highway in December in Los Angeles. George Drakoulias is on board to produce….
Jon Dee Graham is recording a new album in Austin with Charlie Sexton producing; it’s expected to be out on New West this summer.
REISSUE ROUNDUP: Legendary singer Emmylou Harris will have a quintet of albums reissued by Rhino in February. Elite Hotel, Luxury Liner, Pieces Of The Sky, Blue Kentucky Girl and Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town have each been remastered and expanded with a pair of bonus tracks….
Rebel Records will unveil two collections of Red Allen music. The first volume is Keep On Going: The Rebel & Melodeon Recordings; the second, Lonesome & Blue: The Complete County Recordings, features the work of a very young David Grisman….
Golden Age Of Radio, by Boston singer-songwriter Josh Ritter, gets re-released in February on Signature Sounds with a bonus disc of remixes, videos, and a live cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel #2″….
Oh Boy has packaged together two Kris Kristofferson albums, Repossessed and Third World Warrior, originally issued by Mercury in 1986 and 1990 respectively, for an early 2004 release.
HOW GREAT THOU ART: “Dugout”, a multimedia exhibition of works by native Texan musical and visual artist Terry Allen, runs through February 1 at the Austin Museum of Art….
The Annie Leibovitz photography exhibit “American Music” will be on tour throughout 2004. It runs through January 17 at Seattle’s Experience Music Project, then travels to London in February and Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in late May. The show includes photos of Ralph Stanley, John Lee Hooker and Dolly Parton….
“The Great Album Covers That Never Were” is the self-explaining title of an art show in which a variety of artists have created their own album covers. Fictitious albums by Hank Williams, Dwight Yoakam and Pasty Cline are among this exhibit’s 50-some works. It will be at Seattle’s EMP from April 3 to June 13, Memphis’ Brooks Museum June 26 to September 5, and the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, Louisiana, from September 18 to November 27.
ANNIVERSARY AGENDAS: Citing Elvis Presley’s recording of “That’s All Right” as rock ‘n’ roll’s “birthdate,” the city of Memphis will celebrate rock’s 50th anniversary throughout 2004 with a variety of events. For details on the festivities, check out www.50yearsrocknroll.com….
Larry Sparks commemorates 40 years of making music on his upcoming Rebel Records release, tentatively titled Forty Years Of Lonesome. The album features appearances by Tom T. Hall, Don Rigsby and many of Sparks’ former bandmates….
2004 also is a big birthday year for Rykodisc and Bloodshot. Ryko, which turns 20, will put out a double-disc that includes tracks from Golden Smog, Alejandro Escovedo and Kelly Willis. Bloodshot will mark its 10th year with some special concerts and an anniversary release.
HONOR ROLL: Songwriters Rodney Crowell and John Prine were inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame in November, along with Paul Overstreet and the late Hal Blaine….
On May 24, B.B. King will receive the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm, Sweden. Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti is this year’s other recipient; past winners include Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen….
George Strait, Buddy Guy and Austin City Limits were among those honored with the 2003 National Medal of the Arts. This marks the first time a television program has received the prestigious award.
ALL THE FIXINS: An essay on Bob Dylan in ND #48 implied that Dylan wrote the song “They Killed Him”; it was written by Kris Kristofferson.