Say what you will about the directions mainstream country is taking these days, but outside the Top 40 there’s plenty of honky tonk to go around. Top of the heap right now is Jason Eady, a Mississippi native (and Texas transplant) whose new album Daylight and Dark lays down some of the strongest country music I’ve heard all year.
Daylight and Dark in many ways picks up where Eady’s acclaimed previous album, AM Country Heaven, left off.
Continue reading Jason Eady shows country is alive and well in 2014
On Dec. 16, 2014, country legend Ray Price passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 87 years old, and he left behind a huge catalog of recordings and a musical legacy that is among the most impressive in country music history.
Price was a contemporary (and friend) of Hank Williams, and his early recordings reflect that sharp-edged honky-tonk sound. As the 1950s progressed, though, Price found himself more and more attracted to smoother countrypolitan stylings. You can hear it working its way into songs like “City Lights” and especially on his album Night Life. And it finally comes to full fruition on Price’s 1960s songs such as “Danny Boy” and “For the Good Times” — the latter a Kris Kristofferson composition that Price turned into a signature song.
Price and his band the Cherokee Cowboys developed a dance-friendly rhythm that became known as the ‘Ray Price shuffle.’ The band was an early starting ground, too, for such later legends as Roger Miller, Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck.
Price also co-owned Pamper Music, a publishing company that helped boost the careers of Harlan Howard and Hank Cochran, among others.
Price was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996. And he continued performing up until very recently, when his health wouldn’t allow it.
Because it spans so many years and includes so many great songs, Price’s catalog is well worth exploring in depth. Below are five key tracks to help you dive in.
Continue reading 5 Essential Ray Price Songs
I was in Maine last week on a family trip, and while it was great to visit with family, eat great food, and chase the girl (our daughter) around the back deck, it also presented a great excuse to dig out some of my old Dick Curless records. Now when you think of Maine, likely it’s a vision of lobsters, not country music, that jumps out. But if you have a soft spot for old-school blues-based honky-tonk, Curless just might change that perspective. A native of northern Maine, Curless got his start working around Maine, Mass., and New England in the ’50s, then broke out nationally in the ’60s and went on to a respectably successful music career on a variety of labels (Tiffany, Tower, Capitol, Rounder). He even had one bona fide hit with the song “Tombstone Every Mile.”
Read more about Dick Curless
We were deeply saddened to learn that Hank Cochran, Nashville recording artist and one of the finest country songwriters of the last half century, passed away this week after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Cochran was never a household name as a vocalist, though he did record plenty. As a songwriter, however, he was among the finest to ever come through Nashville. And among the most successful, having penned such golden-era classics as “I Fall To Pieces” (Patsy Cline), “Make the World Go Away” (Eddie Arnold), and “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” (Ray Price).
One notable song Cochran wrote was Johnny Paycheck’s first big hit, “A-11,” a honky-tonk ballad in which the singer asks a fellow bar patron to avoid a certain jukebox track, or “there’ll be tears.” The success of that song prompted Paycheck to make his own plea for more great material from the master, doing so via his own composition, “Help Me Hank, I’m Falling.”
Continue reading RIP Hank Cochran
One of my favorite contemporary country singers–channeling Waylon heavy, which is fine by me. Got songwriting chops, too. Caught him at BamaJam 2009 in Enterprise, Alabama–which also happens to be Jamey’s hometown.