Music Monday: Juneteenth Edition

The federal government made Juneteenth an official federal holiday on June 17.  My new home already had made it a city holiday last month.  Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 every year, the date in 1865 when a Union general announced the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas.  Texas was the last state in the Confederacy reached by Union troops.  Juneteenth has been around a long time, but celebrations have traditionally centered in African-American communities and in Texas.  That’s right: Juneteenth is another great cultural export of the great state of Texas.

And celebration is the right word.  Juneteenth highlights our (initial) triumph over America’s original sin and the (incomplete) culmination of the founding ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence.  In that respect, the “independence” in the official name of the federal holiday (the “Juneteenth National Independence Day”) is appropriate.  The American Revolution was fought for independence from both the British and tyranny.  For almost one hundred years, a large chunk of Americans only got one of those.  But it is a day for everyone; we all get to live in a more perfect union, we all get freedom from collective sin.[1]

Photo credit: Bob Simpson
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Music Monday, Flag Day Edition: Ragged Old Flag by Johnny Cash

What the morning called for.

She waved from our ships upon the Briny foam
And now they’ve about quit waving her back here at home
In her own good land here she’s been abused
She’s been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused

And the government for which she stands
Is scandalized throughout the land

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Music Monday: Solid Platinum Edition

Last week I talked about the independent country songs that have been certified gold over the last few years.  And things aren’t slowing down: since I published that post a week ago, I learned that Keep the Wolves Away by Uncle Lucius has been certified gold.  (If hits on a blog post are any guide, I shouldn’t have been surprised.)  Even more impressive than the songs certified gold, independent country artists are getting songs certified platinum.  Leading the way are Tyler Childers and Cody Jinks.  (S.O.B. by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats was also certified platinum, but I already featured it here and it is really country-adjacent.)

Tyler Childers at Hinterland Music Festival, St. Charles, IA 8/4/18
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Music Monday: Solid Gold Edition

Back when I first really started getting into independent country in the late aughts, most times I looked up an act’s touring schedule I found they didn’t make it out of Texas, Oklahoma, and maybe Arkansas.  Didn’t do me much good in North Carolina, but at least the good people of Texas were keeping the lights on for these folks.  And they still are, but the rise of independent country over the last decade has been extraordinary.  Country radio is still putridly awful on a historic level, but radio matters less than it ever did.

Photo credit Brad Coolidge and Khris Poage; originally posted at Saving Country Music

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Music Monday: 2020 Playlist

2020 has been year, ain’t it?  No less in the music world than outside of it.  The pandemic had a deep impact, robbing us musicians, shutting down live music for the better part of a year, and both delaying releases and resulting in a number of low production projects being released.  Political and social unrest also seeped in, as it does.  American Aquarium’s Lamentations, maybe the best album of the year, is deeply political, and Tyler Childers directly responds to the George Floyd killing and subsequent protests with Long Violent History.

Through all the turmoil of a most eventful year, music proved both respite and reaction, as it has since the first caveman slapped his thighs in rhythm.

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Music Monday: RIP Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe Shaver died on October 28. He was a true outlaw. I won’t go back over his outlaw resume—I covered most of it in a post last year. The outlaw country music movement Mount Rushmore only has two faces on it—Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. But Billy Joe Shaver is in the second-tier of the movement, one short step back from Willie and Waylon. He wrote most of the songs on Waylon’s landmark outlaw country album Honky Tonk Heroes. His album Old Five and Dimers Like Me, which shares four songs with Honky Tonk Heroes, is a part of outlaw country canon in its own right.

A few beers didn’t stop me from getting some high quality shots that night
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Music Monday: RIP Mac Davis

Whelp. It is 2020 and the hits just keep on coming. Davis died last week after heart surgery and will be laid to rest today.

Not that I am a fan with a deep and broad knowledge of Mac Davis’ body of work. Outside of It’s Hard to be Humble (which I didn’t realize was his song until many, many years after discovering it), my Mac Davis fandom starts and ends with Texas in my Rear View Mirror.

But Texas in my Rear View Mirror is one of the most finely crafted country songs ever written, so it’ll go a long way. (I do still need to watch North Dallas Forty.)

There are worse places to spend three hours on the side of the road than Lubbock, Texas
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