Field Reportings from Issue #5
“GRAM FEST ’96”, to be held in Joshua Tree, California, has been scheduled for October 26, roughly coinciding with what would have been GRAM PARSONS’ 50th birthday on November 5. The event is being organized by the Joshua Tree Inn, where Parsons died, in room 8, at age 26 on September 19, 1973. The event will feature two concerts (at 7 and 9:30 p.m.) at the Hi-Desert Playhouse; among the artists currently scheduled to perform are the CALIMITY TWINS (featuring POLLY PARSONS, Gram’s daughter) and PAUL K & THE WEATHERMEN.
The big winners in this summer’s major-label alternative country sweepstakes are Elektra, which signed Dallas band the OLD 97’S (profiled by Jeff Copetas in the “Town & Country” section of ND #2), and Outpost, which nabbed Raleigh, N.C., group WHISKEYTOWN (profiled by David Menconi in the “T&C section of ND #1). Outpost’s first order of business with Whiskeytown reportedly will be a major-label reissue (Outpost is distributed by Geffen) of 1995’s Faithless Street….
Meanwhile, Sub Pop has been pursuing Kansas City’s HOLLER, led by MIKE IRELAND, formerly of the STARKWEATHERS. (Sub Pop had previously released a Starkweathers single, shortly before the band broke up.) Holler also recently recorded a cover of Merle Travis’ “No Vacancy” for an upcoming Bloodshot Records compilation….
Add a couple more covers to JAY FARRAR’s cache. Last issue we reported that Austin singer KRIS MCKAY had recorded SON VOLT’s “Tear Stained Eye” on her new solo album; since then, STEVE EARLE has taken to performing “Windfall”, the leadoff cut on Trace, in his live shows. And Florida singer JOLYNN DANIEL reportedly will include her version of “Anodyne”, the title track to UNCLE TUPELO’s last album, on an album due out this fall….
Speaking of the Tupes, out now on Atlantic Records is perhaps the closest thing we’ll ever get to an Uncle Tupelo reunion: the soundtrack to the movie Feeling Minnesota, which includes tracks by both WILCO (“Blasting Fonda”) Son Volt (a cover of the 1960s DEL REEVES hit “Looking at the World Through a Windshield”). The Son Volt cut was also featured on a flexidisc included in a recent issue of Pop Culture Press magazine, and is included on the new Diesel Only/Upstart Rig Rock Deluxe compilation (featured in this issue’s “Waxed” record-review section)….
Speaking of Rig Rock Deluxe: “Highway Junkie”, the cut on that disc performed by the YAYHOOS, is also rendered by RANDY TRAVIS on his new album Full Circle, released in August….
Fans of classic country music would be advised to check out the catalog of FIRST GENERATION RECORDS, which was started by the late PETE DRAKE and is still run by his widow, ROSE DRAKE. The label features hard-to-find recordings by the likes of ERNEST TUBB, MERLE TRAVIS, CHARLIE LOUVIN, the WILBURN BROTHER, and, of course, steel guitar great Drake himself. The label’s address is P.O. Box 40945, Nashville, TN 37204….
How’s this for regionalism: The KELLY WILLIS four-song EP Fading Fast, originally released by A&M as a promo-only disc, is now available in record stores — but only in Texas….
And speaking of Texas: Several Lone Star guitar players have pooled their talents on Travis County Pickin’, which aims to expand upon the tradition of session sidemen such as JIMMY BRYANT, SPEEDY WEST, LEON RHODES and the like. Among the guitarists who contributed to the recording are DAVE BILLER (Dale Watson’s Lone Stars), BRIAN HOFELDT (Derailers), CASPER RAWLS, SCOTT WALLS (Don Walser’s Pure Texas band), LLOYD MAINES, SEAN MENCHER (High Noon) and ND contributor JIM STRINGER. No word yet as to when (or on what label) the project might be released.
RADIO/TV/FILM: The folks at Blue Plate Music, home to the extensive volumes of Live from Mountain Stage discs taken from the renowned public radio show broadcast from West Virginia, has gathered some of the finest moments from those volumes for a series of genre-specific collections. Most likely of primary interest to ND readers is Rock Live From Mountain Stage, which includes tracks by Wilco, the JAYHAWKS and the BOTTLE ROCKETS, among others. Compilations focusing on the Blues and Louisiana music also have been issued recently, to complement a Texas artists collection released last year (and reviewed in ND #2)….
Meanwhile, Columbia’s Legacy imprint has set a Sept. 17 release date for The Best of Austin City Limits: Country Music’s Finest Hour, featuring performances culled from the renowned public television show broadcast from Texas’ capital city. The compilation includes cuts from MERLE HAGGARD, GEORGE JONES, ALISON KRAUSS, WAYLON JENNINGS, ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL, DWIGHT YOAKAM and the MAVERICKS….
A recording session at LEVON HELM’s home studio in Woodstock, N.Y., in July to be included in a documentary film about ELVIS PRESLEY sidemen SCOTTY MOORE, D.J. FONTANA and BILL BLACK featured Helm and several of his bandmates from The Band joined by Rolling Stones guitarist KEITH RICHARDS. They cut a song called “Deuce and a Quarter” written by Nashville songwriters Gwil Owen and Kevin Gordon.
IN PRINT: The Country Reader: Twenty Five Years of the Journal of Country Music, a collection of articles, essays, book reviews and photos taken from the Journal of Country Music over the past quarter-century, was recently issued by the Country Music Foundation Press and Vanderbilt University Press. The book was edited by Journal editor PAUL KINGSBURY and includes contributions by ROY BLOUNT JR., PETER GURALNICK, GREIL MARCUS, ROBERT K. OERMANN, NICK TOSCHES and others….
Ticket to Ride: The Extraordinary Diary of The Beatles’ Last Tour, compiled by Barry Tashian of the Remains, who opened the Beatles’ 1966 tour of America, was released in August. Tashian later was known for his work with Gram Parsons and others in the late ’60s/early ’70s country-rock scene….
Due out Sept. 20 on Warner Books is an autobiography of Waylon Jennings, creatively titled Waylon: An Autobiography, written with the help of noted guitarist/producer/journalist LENNY KAYE.
FROM THE VAULTS: The Nashville divisions of a couple major labels have been active as of late with a series of reissues of material by country artists. Recent releases on RCA’s “Essentials” series include collections by CHET ATKINS, PORTER WAGONER & DOLLY PARTON, EARL THOMAS CONLEY, FOSTER & LLOYD, Waylon Jennings, CONNIE SMITH and EDDY ARNOLD. Meanwhile, Capitol’s “Vintage” series has introduces discs covering JIMMY WAKELY, FERLIN HUSKY and HANK THOMPSON.