Ray Price, star of the 1950s honky tonk music boom, has passed away from pancreatic cancer, a family spokesperson has confirmed.
As one of country music’s early stars, Price helped transition the genre from hillbilly and cowboy music to the more danceable honky tonk variety, and set the stage for the rockabilly and outlaw country waves to come in the ’60s and ’70s. His band, the Cherokee Cowboys, included (at one time or another) future stars Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Buddy Emmons, and Johnny Paycheck. Price had a number of hit singles in the ’50s and through the ’60s (when he transitioned to the more commercial “Nashville sound”), and was the first artist to have a hit with “Release Me” (later a worldwide smash for Engelbert Humperdinck).
Price continued to tour and perform until his illness in 2012, releasing Last of the Breed, with Nelson and Merle Haggard, in 2007.
Enjoy some classic honky tonk and bid farewell to Ray Price.
Josh Thompson is only 34, but he’s looking at life through more mature eyes than he did just a few years ago. As he looks ahead to the release of his sophomore album Change, and reflects on headlining the Jagermeister tour, he talks about how he’s evolved since the release of his 2009 debut album Way Out Here, what music fans can expect next, and just how he stays centered in the ever-changing world of entertainment.
OS: So you’ve been on tour for a while. How is it going?
JT: The tour is going great. We just got back from Michigan and we’ll be back out next week. We are doing about four new songs to give people a sample of what’s coming on the next album, Change. We also do most of the “Way Out Here” record and some covers of Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show.
OS: So when can we expect to hear your new album?
JT: I was hoping that it would be out this year, but now I don’t know. We haven’t really discussed the scheduling.
OS: I read that it’s been a tough album for you to make, just logistically with the recording.
JT: It was. I was just trying to get in the studio whenever I was in town. It went on for about four months so it wasn’t one smooth process. It was a lot of little dates here and there.
OS: That has to be tough. How did you stay positive in the face of all of that turmoil?
JT: A lot of it is sitting down and seeing where the songs go and having faith in the musicians you use. The guys I use, I just love. I think if you keep those two things in mind, you’ll be ok. I use a lot of the older studio musicians. A lot of them toured with Waylon and George Jones and others. (more…)
After going from a jingle singer (Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Red Lobster are among the corporations that featured her vocals) to a back up singer for A-list hit makers including Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, to a duet partner with Merle Haggard and Charlie Rich, Fricke became an A-list singer herself starting with the 1981 solo hit Down to My Last Broken Heart. Now the singer, who has 18 No. 1 singles, is touring behind Country Side of Bluegrass and reintroducing her songs and voice to a new generation of fans.
At first when they asked me to do it, I thought it’d be pretty interesting, said Fricke of the album she completed with famed Nashville producer Bil VornDick. Then the whole plan came together that included [recording and some touring] with the Roys.
Combining the sound of the brother and sister duo of Elaine Roy and Lee Roy, two-time Inspirational Country Music Duo of the Year award winners, with the much-lauded Fricke whose awards include the much coveted CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award, give the album’s 12 tracks (plus the Ring of Fire bonus track) true distinction.
GRAMMY Award winner Marty Stuart has been way off the radar as of late. We haven’t seen him at award shows. He isn’t on late night TV. And we don’t see him playing the big country musical festivals. Just last week, Stuart released his new, ten-song album Nashville, Volume 1: Tear The Woodpile Down that is some of the most traditional country music released by a major artist arguably in years. The music is a pure joy with plenty of steel guitar, fiddles and harmonies. But just why has this member of Nashville royalty, who has played with everyone from Lester Flatt to Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, purposely taken himself out of the eye of the mainstream public? Stuart took some time out of his busy schedule to tell us just that.
OS: Your last album, Ghost Train, was so well received. What was the plan with this album Tearing Down the Woodpile.
MS: Just carry on because Ghost Train was part of a lineage. This whole traditional country music trajectory that I seem to be on right now, it’s where my heart led me. It was a long time coming. When I started [my current band] the Superlatives about eleven years ago now I knew it was the band of lifetime. We found ourselves in the role of cultural missionaries.
Other than the Grand Ol’ Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, we were kind of not part of the system of trying to chase hits or awards or [appear on] red carpets.
In the beginning we were simply looking for a place to play. My only request of our booking agent was to book us as far back in the woods of America as you can. I don’t want to mess with charts. I don’t want to see demographics. I don’t want to see numbers. I just want to play music. We will play ourselves right back to the light or as Merle Haggard said we have found ourselves right square in the middle of the forgotten land.
Lana Del Rey’s SNL performance
There’s no arguing that Lana Del Rey has a beautiful voice, but there’s also no arguing that she is gangly as all get-out. The torchy chanteuse made her television debut on Saturday Night Live last weekend, and it turns out she’s quite a polarizing performer. Juliette Lewis initially dissed Del Ray, saying it felt like watching a twelve year old in their bedroom. But the next day Lewis woke up singing a different tune. Decide for yourself if Del Rey is fresh and yummy or wiggity-wack by watching her performance below.
Trent Reznor, Flaming Lips, Radiohead protest Internet legislation
Musicians are up in arms this week over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA)”two bills making their way through Congress that will allow the government to block access to sites accused of copyright infringement before their court date. The Lonely Island, Nada Surf, MGMT signed this online petition, while Radiohead and Flaming Lips posted anti SOPA and PIPA banners on their Web sites and Twitter profiles. We’ll see if star power can move mountains, or at least Capitol Hill.
Jay-Z hasn’t retired the b-word after all
This week numerous media outlets reported that Jay-Z had released a poem announcing he’d given up the word bitch in honor of his daughter, Blue Ivy. Turns out, the whole thing is a crock of bitch (hey, if he’s not retiring it, then neither are we). Jay-Z will still be going H.A.M. when it comes to profanity, which gives us a sneaking suspicion of what Blue Ivy’s first word will be.
Kate Bush stalker breaks in to propose
When Kate Bush sang Let me into your window in her song, Wuthering Heights, little did she know one day a fan would let himself into her window in an ill-fated attempt at a marriage proposal. Police arrested Frank Tufaro after he broke into the reclusive singer’s home with a $4,500 engagement ring. Bush wasn’t home at the time, but we’re guessing her answer would have been no.
Elton John and husband get catty with Madonna
Madonna won the Best Original Song at the Golden Globes on Sunday, much to the dismay of Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furnish. John was nominated for his song, Hello Hello from Gnomeo and Juliet, but lost to Madge’s Masterpiece from W.E. That pissed Furnish right off, and he let everyone know it on his Facebook page. You can read the rant here, and see a screenshot of Elton John’s sourpuss during Madonna’s acceptance speech.
Diddy loses another battle in the vodka wars
Page Six is reporting that P Diddy lost his cool once again when patrons of a pre-Golden Globe party were prohibited from drinking his Ciroc vodka because the event was sponsored by Grey Goose. Not that anyone was asking for Circoc, mind you. Maybe that’s what he was really mad about. Get the rest of the gossip here.
- Lookout! Records going under
- Sinéad O’Connor seeks treatment for depression
- Merle Haggard hospitalized
- Santigold blasts Katy Perry and Lady Gaga
- LL Cool J to host GRAMMY Awards
- Adele defends relationship on Web site
- Miley Cyrus buys boyfriend a puppy
- Bruno Mars cleared of cocaine possession
- Paris Hilton recording song with LMFAO for new album
- Kanye West recites poem about MLK Jr.
- Rihanna goes green on vacation
The Roys may be the toast of bluegrass music, especially after having just won the prestigious Inspirational Bluegrass Artist of the Year award from the Inspirational Country Music Association, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their feet firmly on the ground.
The duo are hard at work writing for their next album, the follow up to the critically-acclaimed Lonesome Whistle that included the hot single “Coal Minin’ Man,” that went to No. 1 on Power Source’s Bluegrass Top 35 chart and HotDisc International Top 40 Chart.
They also recently announced that they will host the First Annual Christmas 4 Kids Celebrity Golf Tournament in April, soon after they return from their first ever Australian concert tour. The tournament is yet another facet of Christmas 4 Kids, that developed from the Christmas Caravan founded in 1982 by Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn and the Oak Ridge Boys to help needy children over the holidays.
Siblings Elaine and Lee Roy took a few minutes to chat with OurStage about how they developed their passion for bluegrass, how they write such terrific songs and what their fans mean to them.
OS: Wow, you have had some year!
ER: We are very excited. In one year, our lives have changed a whole lot.
OS: How did you come to play bluegrass? I’m sure your high school friends were playing rock and pop, so that couldn’t have been cool.
LR: Our mom and dad listened to nothing but traditional country and bluegrass. Our grandpa was playing the fiddle and mandolin and banjo and our aunts and uncles played music all the time. We were around that so much, I remember, from the time we were really, really young. I can remember mom and dad playing Merle Haggard, George Jones, Bill Monroe. That’s what we were around, that’s what we listened to our whole lives.
Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Sugarland and other big-name country musicians makes it easy to overlook some of the considerably less flashy but incredibly substantive performers”and that’s really a shame.
Consider Jason Boland & The Stragglers that surely embody the heartfelt country sound”for lack of a better term”and spirit of such artists as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jamey Johnson.
Ever notice that the myriad of country music award shows almost never even give a nod to the aforementioned artists, despite their virtuoso playing and heartfelt, often profound, musical offerings?
Perhaps that’s a conversation for another day, but the point is that only the drive-by fan should turn to such all-star entertainment extravaganzas to completely guide their music choices.
Before readers throw up their hands in disgust, please note the term “completely.” I enjoy mainstream artists as much as the next person, but I’m likening them to exclusively eating one type of food”such as meat. Aren’t you glad you also know about grains?
That’s where Jason Boland and his band, perhaps one of the best-kept secrets out of Texas, come in. Although he and his band are well known on the Texas circuit, they are hoping to expandbeyond with their latest album Rancho Alto.
“We went in there and tried to get live tracks,” said Boland of the eleven-track album. “A lot of current music today is overdone. We try to get live drums, live bass, and [other live instrumentation] in there.”
Although the married couple, Rory Lee Feek and his wife Joey Martin Feek, came to prominence on a reality television show”CMT’s Can You Duet”they are the real deal as far as country life and values are concerned. Not that the two don’t have bona fide music chops, such as Rory’s songwriting credits for a host of hitmakers including Blake Shelton.
“We kind of look at our careers a little differently [than some other artists],” said Joey. “What we do is unique and we’re not afraid to step out of the box. Our faith is ultra important to us.”
One way the duo is setting its own course is to record and tour behind their new Christmas recording A Farmhouse Christmas, the third album of their career. Although some artists wouldn’t consider releasing such a niche album so early in their career, Joey & Rory didn’t hesitate .
“Christmas is Rory’s favorite holiday. What gets him in the spirit are classics like [a holiday movie featuring the television family] The Waltons and [songs by] Nat King Cole,” said Joey.”People record the same songs over and over and there’s nothing unique. How often can you sing ‘Jingle Bells?’ Rory being the songwriter that he is and bieng so talented and loving holiday and music, he has always wanted to record a Christmas record. When I asked him what would make it different he said ‘Well, we will write solely for this project.'”
The couple are proud that they have recorded an album that is full of what Joey calls “new standards for the holiday.” Besides the new songs such as “Let it Snow (Somewhere Else), which Rory co-wrote in Key West, FL, the duo recorded songs that aren’t traditionally associated with the holiday including Merle Haggard‘s “If We Make It Through December.” A few traditional Christmas songs like “Away in a Manger” are also included.
Joey and Rory, whose honors include the 2010 Academy of Country Music award for Top New Vocal Duo, have planned a special tour behind the album when it kicks off November 25th in Joey’s home state of Indiana.
The stage will be set up like the living room of the couple’s 1870s farm house in Tennessee and the duo will mix their personal stories in with the music they play.
“I feel like we’re trying to bring elements of fun and orneriness and seriousness and heartfelt love into it,” said Joey of the tour and music. “Even though our [personal] faith is ultra important to us, we all have to be reminded of what Christmas is [beyond the] hustle and bustle and stress. It’s about much more than that.”
For album information and tour dates, check the duo’s Web site.
Take a look at this alley right here.
Unassuming, a little grimy and out of the way, it looks like any other alley in any city on the planet. Really, based on the surface features, what more can you say?
It’s an alley.
But looks can be deceiving. This alley, as pedestrian as it looks, holds a bit of importance, at least in the history of country music. This particular stretch of concrete, found in Nashville, TN, runs alongside the famous Ryman Auditorium, perhaps better known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the most famous institution of country and western musical performance. The alley storied history comes from it’s use as a designated safe haven for country music fans. Coming from the Ryman or one of the bars along 4th and 5th avenue in Nashville, the alley was a place for folks to “whoop and holler”. Revelers, intoxicated by the music and the libations they may have just consumed, could come out to this alley and make all the noise they wanted without really bothering anyone. And this alley, recognized as a historic location, is getting a facelift.