Country Legend Ray Price Dead At 87

Ray_PriceRay 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.

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Exclusive Q and A: Josh Thompson Talks Sophomore Album, NRA and Just How He Stays 'Country'

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…)

Your Country's Right Here: Janie Fricke Joins with the Roys for "The Country Side of Bluegrass"

Janie Fricke has once again added to her already hefty musical arsenal.

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.


Exclusive Q and A: Marty Stuart Talks New Album, "Forgotten" People, and Johnny Cash

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsGRAMMY 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.


Discourse & Dischord

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The Ugly

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.


Your Country's Right Here: The Roys Talk Family, Music and How Fans Inspire Them

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.