My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Category Archives: News

Remembering Conway Twitty (September 1, 1933 – June 5, 1993)

Conway Twitty’s untimely death on June 5, 1993 was a devastating loss to country music. On the 16th anniversary of his passing, we’d like to take a look back and pay homage to the man who was known as “the best friend a song ever had”:

Reba – ‘Strange’ Official Video Premiere

Reba McEntire’s first album for the Valory label will be released August 18.  The album, Keep On Loving You, features her current single. ‘Strange’, which is currently climbing the charts.  Here’s your first look at the music video:

The ‘Playlist’ feature

georgestraitLast Thursday’s ”Playlist” feature on George Strait seems to have been well received, so we’ll be making more posts like this about other artists in the future. In addition, whenever possible, we’re going to publish the playlists we discuss in the iTunes store under “iMixes”, for anyone who wants to purchase all or some of the songs. None of us here makes any money off this; it’s just done to make it more convenient for those who want to add these songs to their music collections. The George Strait playlist can be found here. More will be added as other artists are discussed. Be sure to visit the iTunes store and rate these iMixes.

Brad Paisley ‘Playlist’ album

paisleyThis topic came up a few weeks ago when we were discussing the Brad Paisley and Sara Evans duet “New Again”. Some of you were looking for the song as a digital download. We were able to find it on the new Brad Paisley “Playlist” collection, but it was only available in CD format. I just discovered that the album is available digitally at Walmart MP3:

Special spotlight – 9 to 5: The Musical

The Marquis in New York City, taken by yours truly!

The Marquis in New York City, taken by yours truly

Last week I had the opportunity to go to New York City to tour and visit, for the first time in my life. We did all the usual tourist things, but my favorite part? Going to see the brand new musical, 9 to 5. It was in the Marquis Theatre, right on Times Square, right in the middle of the bustling center of the city. Based on the 1980 film Nine to Five, starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, with music written by Dolly herself, it was quite a treat. The musical even features the song “Backwoods Barbie”, from Dolly’s latest album.

Now I’m sure many of you have seen the movie, but I had not, so I had no idea what it was about, making it a fresh experience for me. For those of you who don’t know much about the plot, 3 women in an office, circa 1979, deal with their lying, hypocritical and egotistical boss. The plot has a lot to do with independent women in a place and time that was harsh to women.

Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block and Megan Hilty

Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block and Megan Hilty.

The 3 starring roles were played by Allison Janney (From the West Wing), Stephanie J. Block (Was Elphaba in Wicked, previously) and Megan Hilty (Was Glinda in Wicked previously) and they were all fantastic. They could all sing, of course, but Megan Hilty had an especially big *ahem* dress to fill, seeing as she plays Dolly’s role. They excelled, with Hilty doing an entertaining Dolly impression, and they were all very entertaining to watch!

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Q&A with Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker

Yesterday, The 9513 included in their news roundup a Q&A session with Tanya Tucker about her upcoming covers album, My Turn, which will be released on June 2nd on Saguaro Road Records. I just stumbled upon a more complete version of that interview. Particularly interesting was her revelation that she’s only partnering up with Time-Life for this one project. I’d still like to know when the long anticipated Lonesome Town will see the light of day.

Click here to read the interview.

Clint Black album sale

taillightsFour of Class of ’89 member’s Clint Black’s albums are on sale at iTunes for $7.99. The featured albums are:

Killin’ Time (1989)
No Time to Kill (1993)
One Emotion (1994)
Nothin’ But The Taillights (1997)

One Emotion is my least favorite of these albums, but I highly recommend Killin’ Time (reviewed here earlier this month) and Nothin’ But The Taillights.

Good riddance and don’t let the door hit you on the way out

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson‘s country music career appears to be on its death bed.

Classic Album Reissue: Dolly Parton – ‘9 to 5 and Odd Jobs’

9 to 5 and Odd Jobs by Dolly Parton, originally released in 1980 on RCA Records

9 to 5 and Odd Jobs by Dolly Parton, originally released in 1980 on RCA Records

Sony Legacy has reissued Dolly Parton’s 1980 album 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs.   The album first appeared on CD a decade ago, on Buddha Records, which at that time was handling classic album reissues for RCA and the other BMG labels.   This time around three bonus tracks are included, two of which are no big deal, as they are remixes of  “9 to 5”, including a karaoke mix.  The third bonus track, however, is a previously unreleased track called “Everyday People.”

9 to 5 and Odd Jobs is the best of Parton’s pop albums, and is worth owning if only for her stunning rendition of Merle Travis’ “Dark as a Dungeon.” If you already own the CD, you may be interested in downloading the new tracks. The album is available digitally and on CD at Amazon, but is not (yet) available on iTunes.

Trace Adkins: ‘Till The Last Shot’s Fired’

I just wanted to let everyone know that the live performance of this song from Sunday night’s ACM awards is available for purchase at iTunes. They’re also offering a video, which I’m assuming is also from the same performance. It’s well worth purchasing, especially if you don’t already have the album.

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins

Click here to access the iTunes store.

News: New Reba single to premier at ACM Awards

The official single cover for 'Strange' by Reba.

The official single cover for 'Strange' by Reba.

Superstar Reba McEntire will debut her highly-anticipated new single, “Strange,” on the Academy of Country Music Awards live on CBS, Sunday, April 5th at 8 pm ET/ 7 pm CT from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Leading up to the performance, Reba fans can hear a sneak peak of “Strange” via a special widget available at Reba’s Valory Records webpage. The widget also includes a countdown to the ACM Awards, a video message from Reba and a link to pre-order “Strange.” (It works with Facebook, Myspace, Blogger, and lots of other social networking sites, but not WordPress, so I can’t embed it and share it with you here.) “Strange” will be available for purchase through Bandbox on The Valory Music Co. website immediately following Reba’s performance on Sunday evening. “Strange” will also be available on iTunes beginning Monday, April 6.

“Strange,” which arrives at country radio on April 6th, is the lead single from Reba’s first solo studio album in six years, as well as her first album on her new label The Valory Music Co.

Reba signed with The Valory Music Co. in November 2008. The move reunited the multimedia entertainer with industry leader Scott Borchetta, now President & CEO of Big Machine Records and sister label The Valory Music Co.

Reba’s new studio album will follow in late summer. One of the most successful female recording artists in history, Reba has sold over 55 million albums worldwide and her last 13 studio albums have all achieved platinum-plus status.

Click here to listen to a 30 second sample of the new single, ‘Strange’.

In memory of Dan Seals

dansealsCountry and pop star Dan Seals passed away last night, March 25, due to complications from cancer.  As one half of the pop duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, he charted five top 10 pop hits, including three #1’s.  In 1983, he started charting country singles.  Dan Seals went on to become one of the most successful country radio artists of the 1980s – with nine consecutive #1’s between 1985 and 1988.  A great artist who recorded some pop-country and some very traditional country records too, Dan Seals has been largely forgotten lately.  I am guilty of overlooking some of the great songs he left us.  So here’s my tribute to Dan Seals.  Three of my favorite Dan Seals songs.  Enjoy.  And rest in peace, Mr. Dan Seals.

I’m going to stop at three, but I also recommend ‘Three Time Loser’‘ and ‘Big Wheels In The Moonlight.

Visit the official Dan Seals site for a message from his family.

And you can go to the Dan Seals Last FM Page to listen to full tracks of all his biggest hits.

March Cover Art

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Looking at Amazon.com, I stumbled upon the new album artwork for Keith Urban’s Defying Gravity. Now, I’ve gathered a few country releases coming up in March, and I want to see what you guys think of the album artwork.

Well, the Neko Case one has been around for a while, and is probably my favorite of the three. I mean come on, Neko on a car with a sword? It just doesn’t get much cooler than that. I also like the cool writing of the album title into the background- it’s creative, and random, which seems to be the theme of her upcoming album.

On the other hand, the McBride cover is elegant, but the “bleeding” effect is really cool looking. I like her cover for Waking Up Laughing, but looking at it now, it looks boring, so I like how this one is more interesting. Shine also has one of my favorite fonts that I’ve seen in a while, which sounds kind of geeky to say. Her expression kind of makes it look like she got knocked out though…

Finally, we get to the Urban album. This is a radical departure from his last cover, which gave a darker tone to the hard times he was going through. This cover seems to reflect the more upbeat tone of this album, if ‘Sweet Thing” is any indication. He seems to be past his rehab and enjoying married life and his daughter, which should make for a happy album. I like how in the cover he is literally “defying gravity” by being sideways, so it links it more to the album material than other album covers.

Interestingly enough, all three of these have a gray-ish background, which can get boring after too many similar ones. I prefer albums with more color, like Sugarland’s latest, but these three are unique and interesting album covers from some of my favorite artists. Of course, this will be my first Neko Case album, but I already love her!

So what do you guys think? Are these good or not?

PS: Martina has posted new tracks from her album on her myspace.

Chris Isaak gets real with Trisha Yearwood

trisha-yearwood-chris-isaakFor the pilot episode of his new A&E series ‘The Chris Isaak Hour’, the California rocker wanted to open with a winner.  And he certainly accomplished that.  The hour-long show premiered tonight at 10pm on both A&E and its offspring network, the Bio Channel.  Yearwood was also a guest on Isaak’s Showtime sitcom/variety show ‘The Chris Isaak Show’ in the beginning of the decade.  And in between songs, the two sat down like old friends and talked about some very candid subjects.

The pair opened the show with a bluesy take on Yearwood’s ‘The Wrong Side of Memphis’.  Then, the interviewing began – this was the formula for the entire hour:  to talk a bit and then segue into a performance.  Isaak began by asking about Monticello, Georgia. Trisha happily recounted memories of her hometown and told him her family had cows, chickens, pigs, and a garden – which she and her sister regularly tended.  Talk turned to music next as Yearwood credits her Dad for introducing her to music through artists like George Jones, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline. Another bit I found interesting was her admission that instead of a doll, she asked for a tape recorder for her birthday so she could record herself singing.  She says there are tapes around somewhere of her 11-year-old self singing mostly Cher tunes. (Yearwood apparently wanted to be Cher at the time.)

Trisha recounts Elvis as the first voice she remembers.  “I was always drawn to big voices that were really emotive,” she says.  Adding she was always a fan of singers who “really pull the listener in.”  This segues into another duet, this time on ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’.  Yearwood rips into the song, trading verses with Isaak in a playful take on the classic.

Her stint on a 1980s TV talent search called ‘You Can Be a Star’ – which she lost to a cab driver from Atlanta – was a sort of turning point. She quit her job as a receptionist at MTM Records and began recording demos full time after the show, she says. Recording demos not only eventually lead to her recording contract with MCA, but introduced her to the most important person in her life. “We were instant friends,” Trisha recalls of the first time she met Garth Brooks. They recorded a demo tape of a duet together for a mutual friend. She also recorded the demo for ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ before Garth had a record deal himself and was still pitching songs.

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What lies around the bend for Randy Travis?

randytravisTwo news items over the weekend made me think about the career of Randy Travis and where (if anywhere) it might be headed now.

Last summer saw the long-awaited release of Around The Bend, widely trumpeted as his return to mainstream secular country music after some years pursuing Christian music.  It also marked his return to Warner Brothers, the label which launched his spectacular early career over 20 years ago.  The album was received well by critics, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album, although sales have not been spectacular.  Sadly the two singles released so far, ‘Faith In You’ and ‘Dig Two Graves’, were completely ignored by country radio.  In some ways this is understandable; both are perfectly decent songs, but not outstanding ones, although they are lifted to a higher level by the fine vocal performances.  I was surprised by the Grammy nomination of ‘Dig Two Graves’ for Song of the Year, but not Male Vocal Performance, since I rank the performance significantly above the song itself.

While the label did not select the best songs as singles, I doubt that one of the two truly great tracks on the album (the powerful but somber ‘You Didn’t Have A Good Time’ and ‘From Your Knees’) would have fared any better.  With the exception of the #1 hit ‘Three Wooden Crosses’ in 2002 (which is now looking like something of an anomaly), Randy has actually not had a country hit for a decade. 

Warners has announced the release of a new compilation on March 17, entitled I Told You So: The Ultimate Hits Of Randy Travis, in order to capitalize on the current chart success of Carrie Underwood’s flashy cover of the title track.  There are two new tracks, ‘Love’s Alive And Well’, ‘You Ain’t Right’, and ‘Faith In You’ and ‘Turn It Around’ repeated from Around The Bend, but otherwise the material will be familiar to Travis’ existing fans.  Presumably the plan is that this release will be marketed to younger listeners who are aware of Travis only as a name, but who may have been intrigued by the Carrie Underwood cover.  I can only hope that this does not signal the label’s abandonment of Around The Bend.  The inclusion of ‘Turn It Around’ may signal this is intended to be a single to promote both albums.  If so, the label has made another mis-step, picking another of the good but not great tracks rather than something more memorable.  The safe choices turned out to be a little too easy to ignore: why not go for a more challenging song like ‘You Didn’t Have A Good Time’?  It still might not be a hit, but it would have more of a chance of making an impact.

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Miranda Lambert’s Next Single Will Be…

Miranda Lambert

Either “Dry Town”, “Desperation” or “Guilty In Here”. I know the link was posted on The 9513, but I wanted to re-emphasize it here! Miranda is having a poll for the next single off of her album Crazy Ex-Girlfriend here! (On the page for the poll you can also listen to the three choices if you haven’t already heard them.) I have always heard about this kind of poll, but I usually hear about them too late to actually participate, so I was glad I could have some sort of say here! Miranda is also one of my favorite mainstream-ish country singers right now, so I’m especially happy.

Initially, I voted for “Desperation” because it is by far my favorite song on the album, but looking at it now, I think “Dry Town” is the perfect single. It’s that quirky song that could be a smash hit or a signature song for Miranda, and it’s funny and singable, but not pandering or unintelligent. I also think that after “More Like Her”, another slow song is probably a bad idea, which cuts out “Desperation”. That leaves the two fast songs, and of the two, “Dry Town” is my favorite.

Luckily, I got a Macbook over the weekend for college, since I got accepted to BYU last week with full tuition for 4 years! (That’s why I haven’t really been around, I’ve been playing with my new computer!) This has to do with Miranda because I got the chance to vote again on my new computer, so I cast my second vote for “Dry Town”.

As of writing this, “Dry Town” is leading in the results of the poll with 45%, followed by “Guilty In Here” with 34% and “Desperation” with 21%.

Here’s what I’m asking you to do:

First of all, vote! Make your voice heard on what the next single should be! Then post here which single you think should be a single and why!

News: Miss Leslie heading into the studio

missleslieI had a wonderful chat tonight with Leslie Sloan of Miss Leslie and her Juke-Jointers fame.  We talked about Texas music, Kelly Willis and Rhonda Vincent.  The woman is amazing.  Busy as she is, she still found time to sit down and chat with little ole me.  She told me how much she loves Shelby Lynne – an affection I share.  She also told me she’s hoping to head into the studio next month to record some songs.  

We’re recording the new CD at Tommy Detamore’s in Floresville again. Bill Kirchen will be joining us on guitar for this project. It will be all originals. I’m really excited about getting these songs recorded. I promised myself I wouldn’t go into the studio until I felt like I could record a CD of at least equal quality to ‘Between the Whiskey and the Wine’. And I’m ready.

She told me she has 23 songs ready to go, but isn’t sure how many will actually make the cut.   So, thanks Leslie, for talking to me and keeping me updated on what’s going on.  You’ll forever be one my favorites!

Here’s one of the 23 songs she’s considering for the new album.  I am certainly pulling for this one to make the final cut.

Also, be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Miss Leslie from last month.  

After that, head over to the Official Miss Leslie site.

Favorite Grammy Performances

I finally watched the Grammy’s on my DVR tonight, just for the performances, and it led me to this question:

What was your favorite performance from the Grammys?
There were some great ones, and some not so great ones (Miley Cyrus makes Taylor Swift sound like Trisha Yearwood), but I picked my 3 favorites:

1. “15 Step” by Radiohead and the USC Marching Band
Alright, I love Radiohead. I admit it. I bought In Rainbows, and it struck me as a phenomenal record. Imagine my joy when my favorite track off the album was going to be performed at the Grammys! My only complaint was that Thom (the singer) moves weirder than Chris Martin. But for everything else, the performance was golden. I was skeptical at first, but the marching band was an amazing touch — a stroke of genius, in my opinion. Very different than the original (listen here) which has electronic beats instead. This is just a very cool song, and a great performance.

2. “Stay” and “Chasing Pavements” by Sugarland and Adele

Adele receiving the Grammy for Best New Artist

Adele receiving the Grammy for Best New Artist

Two of my favorite vocalists singing two of my favorite songs. What could be better?! Well, I would have preferred more singing together, but the perfect performances from the two definitely validate their Grammy wins. They are both wonderful ladies, and Kristian Bush is nice, too. Even sweeter is how Adele beat the Jonas Brothers. YES!!!

3. “You Pulled Me Through” by Jennifer Hudson

Just the fact that she could go out there after all that she’s been through and sing that well…? She is a very resilient person. This performance cements the fact that she deserves to be here, and she seems to be doing as well as she can after all that. I still kind of wish she would have done “Spotlight“, but whatever. “You Pulled Me Through” was great, too — it matched the mood much better anyway.

P.S.  Props to M.I.A. for performing on her due date. Did anyone notice her maniacal laugh when the camera found her while reading nominees? I love her…

I’m also sad about the whole Chris Brown/Rihanna thing. I hope she’s doing okay.

So what do you guys think? Agree? Disagree?

The Price Is … Reba?

rebapriceisrightTwo of my favorite things are coming together on February 25, 2009.  Reba McEntire will be on hand for a special taping of America’s longest-running game show.  The special will salute the Academy of Country Music awards, which Reba will be hosting for a record 11th time this year.  Reba will join host Drew Carey for the hour-long special.  It’s not clear yet what Reba’s involvement will be. She may co-host with Carey, or she may just be there as one of Carey’s Cuties (formerly Barker’s Beauties) to show off the fabulous prizes.  This is all part of an upcoming major media frenzy to promote the Academy of Country Music Awards.  Look for many more television appearances from Reba as the ACM awards get closer, and new Reba music becomes available this spring.  Are you excited yet?

From the CBS press release:

If you’re going to be in the Los Angeles area, come on down dressed in your western hat and duds, and wrangle some cash and prizes! Click here for tickets, or call: 800-852-8909. 

Update: This episide will air April 3.  That’s the Friday before the ACM Awards.  I’ll blog about this episode again after it airs.  But for now, this is just a reminder to set your TiVo or DVR’s to record The Price Is Right on April 3, 2009.  Hopefully, there will be a new Reba single on the radio by then too.

Visit The Price Is Right official site.

Special thanks to Clark at the awesome fancyreba news forum for tipping me off. And for letting me use his icon above.

Grammy Pre-show – Country Winners and My Thoughts

grammyHere are some of the country winners already announced on the Grammy pre-show. These are the awards that won’t be televised at the ceremony on CBS tonight.

Best Country Song:  Jennifer Nettles, ‘Stay … Isn’t it great to see ‘Stay’ get so much recognition? Plus, I think Jennifer is the best thing since penicillin anyway. 

Best Country Album:  George Strait, Troubadour … I’m kinda surprised at this one, but not at all disappointed.  This is King George’s first Grammy.

Best Female Country Vocal Performance: Carrie Underwood, ‘Last Name’ … Eww. How could Trisha Yearwood NOT win this year? 

Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Brad Paisley, ‘Letter to Me’ … I thought Jamey Johnson would get some Grammy love this year. Guess not.

Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, ‘Killing the Blues’ … Yep.

Best Country Instrumental Performance: Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, etc. ‘Cluster Pluck’ … I hadn’t heard many of the nominees in this category, but I think Brad got this one on name recognition rather than his skills on the ax.

 

The show starts at 8:00 Eastern time on CBS.  Don’t miss Sugarland performing on the show. And be sure to check out the Grammy Live Blog over at Country Universe.