Music Monday: Bluegrass Edition

As the pandemic ever so slowly begins to recede, we could all stand to move into 2021 with a renewed commitment to the things we hold most dear. Less a New Normal than an Old Normal.

Let’s start with a little traditional 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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Music Monday: RIP Justin Townes Earle

I wasn’t planning to post today, but I just saw that Justin Townes Earle died.  The news came out yesterday, apparently, but I am not sure exactly when he died.  No cause of death is given, but Justin Townes Earle was about my age, and when men about my age die it is usually of a drug overdose.  He is named for Townes Van Zandt, the singer-songwriter who died young of substance abuse related issues, is the son of Steve Earle, who has had his own substance abuse issues, and has had substance abuse issues in the past.

Justin Towns Earle performs for a worldwide audience on GQ.com

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Music Monday: My Hometown by Charlie Robison

You guys.  I did a thing.  I just can’t seem to set still for more’na few years without my feet itching for those hillbilly highways.  Although this last trip might be for good.

Sort of.  I took a job up in the mountains I call home, but I gotta start work long before I can sell the house and get the family moved down, so I’m gonna be heading up and down those hillbilly highways between the Rust Belt and Appalachia every couple weeks for a spell.

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Music Monday: Pontoon Boat by Sunny Ledfurd

My 20s weren’t a great time in a lot of ways, but I had a lot of great times on a pontoon boat on Lake Norman.  There was a period where we were out on the lake almost every summer weekend.

Naturally I jumped at a chance to go out on the boat last weekend.  I do have to say that going on the boat in your late 30s with a toddler is a very different experience.  (I would strongly encourage anyone not to go out on a boat alone with a 4-year-old.)

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Music Monday: Long Haired Country Boy by The Charlie Daniels Band (RIP Charlie Daniels)

I wasn’t going to do a Music Monday post this week, but I just heard Charlie Daniels died.  It continues to be a hell of a year.  It would be enough to make a man get stoned in the morning and get drunk in the afternoon if he didn’t work for a living.

At least I can say I had the opportunity to see Charlie Daniels live.  One of the best concerts I have ever been to.  Daniels sawed on a fiddle so hot he would blow through a bow in a few songs.  He’d flourish an old bow with broken horse-hairs sticking out all over the place and someone would run up from stage right with a fresh one.

The last time I talked about seeing Charlie Daniels live I was at this place.

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Music Monday: Lightning on the Mountain by Kyle Nix

Art in downtown Waynesville

Truly, everything started going to shit when the Turnpike Troubadours broke up.  After a period to sulk, I’ve been digging back into their discography.  Evan Felker may be on the DL, but the rest of the Troubadours are alive and kicking and ready to work.  Which is how we got an album from all the Troubadours not named Felker under the name of Turnpike fiddler Kyle Nix.  Lightning on the Mountain came out on Friday.  I haven’t had as much time to dig into it as I would have liked, and it isn’t the Turnpike Troubadours, but I dig it.

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