Oak Ridge Boys, Stonewall Jackson, Riders In the Sky, Sarah Jarosz, Drake White, John Conlee, Lee Greenwood, Kalisa Ewing, Jim Ed Brown, Jim Lauderdale, Charlie Worsham & Jeannie SeelyCountry
Oak Ridge Boys
Hendersonville TN | Country
Theirs is one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry. The four-part harmonies and upbeat songs of the Oak Ridge Boys have spawned dozens of Country hits and a Number One Pop smash, earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA, and ACM awards and garnered a host of other industry and fan accolades. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring three decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to bear on a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been.
"When I go on stage, I get the same feeling I had the first time I sang with the Oak Ridge Boys," says lead singer Duane Allen. "This is the only job I've ever wanted to have."
"Like everyone else in the group," adds bass singer extraordinaire Richard Sterban, "I was a fan of the Oaks before I became a member. I'm still a fan of the group today. Being in the Oak Ridge Boys is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream."
The two, along with tenor Joe Bonsall and baritone William Lee Golden, comprise one of Country's truly legendary acts. Their string of hits includes the pop chart-topper Elvira, as well as Bobbie Sue, Dream On, Thank God For Kids, American Made, I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes, Fancy Free, Gonna Take A Lot Of River and many others. They've scored 12 gold, three platinum, and one double platinum album, plus one double platinum single, and had more than a dozen national Number One singles and over 30 Top Ten hits.
The Oaks represent a tradition that extends back to World War II. The original group, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, began performing Country and Gospel music in nearby Oak Ridge where the atomic bomb was being developed. They called themselves the Oak Ridge Quartet, and they began regular Grand Ole Opry appearances in the fall of ’45. In the mid-fifties, they were featured in Time magazine as one of the top drawing Gospel groups in the nation.
By the late ’60s, with more than 30 members having come and gone, they had a lineup that included Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, Noel Fox, and Willie Wynn. Among the Oaks’ many acquaintances in the Gospel field were Bonsall, a streetwise Philadelphia kid who embraced Gospel music; and Sterban, who was singing in quartets and holding down a job as a men’s clothing salesman. Both admired the distinctive, highly popular Oaks.
“They were the most innovative quartet in Gospel music,” says Bonsall. “They performed Gospel with a Rock approach, had a full band, wore bell-bottom pants and grew their hair long... things unheard of at the time.”
The four became friends, and when the Oaks needed a bass and tenor in ’72 and ’73, respectively, Sterban and Bonsall got the calls. For a while, the group remained at the pinnacle of the Gospel music circuit. It was there they refined the strengths that would soon make them an across-the-board attraction.
“We did a lot of package shows,” says Bonsall. “There was an incredible amount of competition. You had to blow people away to sell records and get invited back.”
Their Gospel sound had a distinct Pop edge to it and, although it made for excitement and crowd appeal, it also ruffled purist feathers and left promoters unsure about the Oaks’ direction. Then in 1975, the Oaks were asked to open a number of dates for Roy Clark. Clark’s manager, Jim Halsey, was impressed by their abilities.
“He came backstage and told us we were three-and-a-half minutes (meaning one hit record) away from being a major act,” says Bonsall. “He said we had one of the most dynamic stage shows he’d ever seen but that we had to start singing Country songs.”
They took his advice and the result was a breakthrough.
“Those who came to Country music with or after the New Traditionalists of the mid-eighties cannot possibly imagine the impact the Oaks had in 1977, when they lit up the sky from horizon to horizon with Y’All Come Back Saloon,” wrote Billboard’s Ed Morris. He added “... the vocal intensity the group brought to it instantly enriched and enlivened the perilously staid Country format. These guys were exciting.” Within a year, Paul Simon tapped them to sing backup for his hit Slip Slidin’ Away, and they went on to record with George Jones, Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, Roy Rogers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bill Monroe, Ray Charles and others. In 2007, they recorded with the son of an old friend. Shooter Jennings, the son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, invited the Oaks to perform Slow Train, a song on his sophomore CD.
Their career has spanned not only decades, but also formats. They have appeared before five presidents. They produced one of the first Country music videos (Easy, in 1977, although not released in the U.S., it reached the 3 slot in Australia). They participated in the first American popular music headline tour in the USSR. And they have become one of the most enduringly successful touring groups anywhere. They still performing some 150 dates each year at major theaters, fairs and festivals across the U.S. and Canada.
They did it with a consistently upbeat musical approach and terrific business savvy.
“We always look for songs that have lasting value and that are uplifting,” says Allen, who has co-produced the Oaks’ last seven studio albums. “You don’t hear us singing ’cheating’ or ’drinking’ songs, but ’loving’ songs, because we think that will last. We also don’t put music in categories, except for ’good’ or ’bad.’ When we get through with it, it’s probably going to sound like an Oak Ridge Boys song no matter what it is.”
They proved their business acumen in any number of ways, including such steps as declining the chance to sit on the couch during their many appearances on the Tonight Show.
“We said, ’If you’re going to give us four minutes on the couch with Johnny, we’d rather have four minutes to give you another song that lets people know what got us here,’” says Allen. “We didn’t get here talking; we got here singing.”
They also proved themselves to be capable and tireless advocates of charitable and civic causes, serving as spokesmen and/or board members of fundraisers for the Boy Scouts of America, the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse (now known as Prevent Child Abuse America), Feed The Children, the National Anthem Project and many more.
The group’s first personnel change in many years occurred in 1987 when Steve Sanders, who had been playing guitar in the Oaks Band, replaced William Lee as the baritone singer. Late in ’95, Steve resigned from the Oaks and exactly one minute after midnight on New Year’s Eve, Duane, Joe and Richard surprised a packed house at the Holiday Star Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana, by welcoming William Lee on stage and back into the group. The hit makers were finally together again!
The Oaks’ high-energy stage show remains the heart and soul of what they do, and they refine it several times a year, striving to keep it fresh well into the future.
“We’re not willing to rest on our laurels,” Golden says. “That gets boring. As a group, we do things constantly to challenge ourselves, to try to do something different or better than the last time we did it.”
“I feel like I can do what I do on stage just as good now as I could 20 years ago,” says Bonsall. “I plan to be rockin’ my tail off out there as long as I’m healthy. The people who come out, who bring their families to see us, deserve everything I’ve got.”
“We’ve experienced a lot of longevity,” adds Sterban. “I think the reason is the love we have for what we do—the desire, the longing to actually get up there and do it. We love to sing together... to harmonize together. It’s what our lives are all about.”
Brentwood TN | Country
Named after the famously resolute Confederate general—the choice of his father, who died weeks before he was born —Stonewall Jackson was “stone country” long before people starting tossing that term around.
His huge 1959 No. 1 hit “Waterloo,” penned by Nashville songwriting giants Marijohn Wilkin and John D. Loudermilk, crossed over to the pop charts, then took him to American Bandstand and to an incongruous tour with Sam Cooke and Fabian. To this day, it seems to be the Stonewall song people remember and request most.
There’s some irony in it, since that undoubtedly catchy, marching-band sort of tune, a gleeful ode to life’s mishaps and failures, is so different from most of his 40 charting hits. The deeply affecting hard country “Life of a Poor Boy” and “A Wound Time Can’t Erase” are more typical—and not by accident.
Born in North Carolina, raised in Georgia in difficult circumstances that included both being poor and suffering the moods of an abusive stepfather, he tried running away from home, then falsifying age records to get into the Army—at 16, both unsuccessfully. The following year, he joined the Navy, where he learned to play guitar and sing; when his stint ended, he decided to give singing a try, heading back to the farm to work until he saved enough for a new pickup truck. When he got it, in 1956, Stonewall drove right into Nashville.
What happened next has become a country music legend. Having taken a room in a motel across the street from Acuff-Rose, he walked into the publishing house, and asked to be heard. Three demo songs were recorded on the spot, on a tape that went right to Wesley Rose. The most powerful man in town was so taken with Stonewall’s straightforward, utterly country singing, so removed from both the Nashville Sound of the time and the rock ’n’ roll that was dominating all of pop music. Stonewall is reported to have told Rose, “I came here for just one purpose—to get on the Grand Ole Opry. Can you get me an audition?” It was a solid rule at the time that only singers with records out – and Stonewall had never had any—could get on the Opry. With a call from Wesley Rose, Stonewall appeared in days, with early mentor and backer Ernest Tubb.
It was fitting that Stonewall was presented the Ernest Tubb Memorial Award in 1997 for his contributions to country music. He sings, in front of his band the Minutemen, with the same old-school, down-home directness today that he did the day he first walked onto the Opry stage. With the release of both a set of his complete recordings through the ’60s, Bear Family’s Stonewall Jackson: Waterloo, and of his late-’70s recordings with Little Darlin, a new generation has a chance to hear that music again.
Riders In The Sky
Riders In The Sky are truly exceptional.
By definition, empirical data, and critical acclaim, they stand "hats & shoulders" above the rest of the purveyors of C & W - "Comedy & Western!"
For more than thirty years Riders In The Sky have been keepers of the flame passed on by the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, reviving and revitalizing the genre. And while remaining true to the integrity of Western music, they have themselves become modern-day icons by branding the genre with their own legendary wacky humor and way-out Western wit, and all along encouraging buckaroos and buckarettes to live life "The Cowboy Way!"
Riders In The Sky are exceptional not just in the sense that their music is of superlative standards (they are the ONLY exclusively Western artist to have won a Grammy, and Riders have won two), but by the fact that their accomplishments are an exception to the rule as well. That Riders In The Sky was even formed is a feat of improbable likelihood. What are the odds that a theoretical plasma physicist, a wildlife manager - galvanizer - Life Scout, an English major - shot putter - Bluegrass Boy, and a Polka Hall of Fame member would collectively become "America's Favorite Cowboys?" And even more unlikely is that 30-plus years later, the original members are still "bringing good beef to hungry people" while putting up Ripken-like numbers! The Rolling Stones only made it a few years before replacing Brian Jones; the Sons of the Pioneers constantly changed personnel; even the Ringo-era Beatles only lasted 8 years. (Perhaps Too Slim, as a sophomore writer for the University of Michigan Daily, had an ulterior motive in 1969 by propagating the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead! It's true... go ahead and Google "Paul is dead rumor"...) But the key to keeping the same founding members intact for three decades on the road is more easily explained: "Separate hotel rooms," cracks Ranger Doug!
Riders In The Sky's first official public performance was Nov. 11, 1977, at the erstwhile Nashville nightspot "Phranks & Steins." Taking the stage that night for a crowd of eight or nine (counting Herr Harry behind the bar) were Ranger Doug (Idol of American Youth) on arch-top guitar and baritone vocals, and Too Slim (A Man Aging Like Fine Cheese) on bunkhouse bass, face, and tenor vocals. A chain saw may have been in the mix somewhere that night, but was soon retired. Replacing the chain saw was Woody Paul (King of the Cowboy Fiddlers) on fiddle, tenor vocals and rope tricks, and the launch was successful! They subsequently added the "Stomach Steinway" stylings of Joey the Cowpolka King on accordion and baritone vocals, much to the delight of 'Polkaholics' everywhere.
As a classic cowboy quartet, the trail has led them to heights they could have never predicted. Riders have chalked up over 6100 concert appearances in all 50 states and 10 countries, appearing in venues everywhere from the Nashville National Guard Armory to Carnegie Hall, and from county fairs to the Hollywood Bowl. Their cowboy charisma and comedic flair made them naturals for TV, and landed them their own weekly show on TNN, as well as a Saturday morning series on CBS. They have been guests on countless TV specials, documentaries and variety shows, appearing with everyone from Barney to Penn & Teller. And their animated likenesses have shared the screen with Daffy Duck on the Cartoon Network, and the Disney Channel's Stanley. If you consider their compositional credits, one might call them "Writers In The Sky!" In addition to penning award winning songs for their own albums, they wrote the score for Pixar Animation's 2002 Academy Award-winning short "For the Birds." They composed the theme song for the internet cartoon show "Thomas Timberwolf" by renowned Bugs Bunny creator Chuck Jones. But the animated character that history will most certainly link to Riders In The Sky is the loveable cowboy Woody, as Riders performed "Woody's Round Up" in "Toy Story 2," with the album of the same name garnering Riders their first Grammy Award in 2001 for "Best Musical Album for Children." Two years later, Riders roped their second Grammy in the same category, for "Monsters Inc. - Scream Factory Favorites," the companion CD to Pixar's award winning movie.
Equally as exceptional, but of greater significance, is that in 1982, Riders In The Sky became the first, and to date only, exclusively Western music artist to join the Grand Ol' Opry, the longest running radio show in history, and thus began a love affair with radio as well. In 1988, they recorded comedy skits for the album "Riders Radio Theatre" and launched the long-running international weekly radio show of the same name on public radio. And keeping pace with the ever-changing technological landscape, in 2006 "Ranger Doug's Classic Cowboy Corral" debuted on XM Satellite Radio, still heard weekly on SiriusXM Channel 56.
Exceptional artists also appeal to a diverse and broad-based cross section of their adoring public. Riders In The Sky's music and comedy delights cowboys and cowgirls of all ages, and from all walks of life. Riders are equally at ease amusing a theatre full of children as they are enthralling a symphony audience accompanied by 50 or 60 classically trained instrumentalists, or even an NCO club full of servicemen during a USO Tour. Riders have performed at the White House for both Democratic and Republican administrations, and at Major League Baseball's winter meetings for both American and National Leagues (although with an admitted bias for the Detroit Tigers). With their ability to persuade cowpokes on both sides of the fence to set aside their differences for a brief escape from day-to-day tribulations, is it any wonder that Riders have a virtual home called "Harmony Ranch?"
Ultimately, exceptional careers do not go unnoticed, and throughout theirs, Riders In The Sky have been honored regularly. In addition to being inducted into the Grand Ol' Opry, Riders are in the Western Music Association's Hall of Fame, the Country Music Foundation's Walkway of Stars, and the Walk of Western Stars (in Newhall, CA near Melody Ranch Studios) along with Gene, Roy, John Wayne and other cowboy legends. No less important than their two Grammies, Riders have been the Western Music Associaton's "Entertainers Of the Year" seven times, and won "Traditional Group of the Year" and "Traditional Album of the Year" multiple times. The Academy of Western Artists has named them "Western Music Group of the Year" twice in 5 years, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has bestowed Riders with their Wrangler Award statuette three times. It comes as no surprise then that Billboard magazine's Jim Bessman counts them as one of "the most historically significant acts in the history of American music."
Yes, it would be "The Easy Way" to call it a career after 30-plus years, but it wouldn't be..."The Cowboy Way!" And so, the never-ending trail drive continues. The ponies are rested and watered, and America's Favorite Cowboys are ready to saddle up and ride, bringing good beef to hungry people wherever they may be. Yes, Riders In The Sky are truly an exception to the rule.
Boston MA | Singer-Songwriter
No musical community has proven more nurturing of emerging talent than has bluegrass and its acoustic tributaries. In part this is because precocious youth has proved a wise investment - from Marty Stuart to Alison Krauss to Nickel Creek - but mostly this is because the players themselves are drawn together by their innate love of the music, pure and simple. And by a common quest for new ways to play it.
Enter Sarah Jarosz, who will turn 18 a few weeks before her debut, Song Up In Her Head is released by Sugar Hill on June 16, 2009. And it's quite an entrance. The shortest distance is simply to list (in alphabetical order) her collaborators: Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Chris Eldridge, Samson Grisman, Alex Hargreaves, Byron House, Paul Kowert, Tim Lauer, Kenny Malone, Mike Marshall, Tim O'Brien, Aoife O'Donovan, Luke Reynolds, Mark Schatz, Darrell Scott, Sarah Siskind, Ben Sollee, Chris Thile, and Abigail Washburn. These are not trifling musicians. They are the cream of the post-'grass movement (or whatever it is to be called) much afoot today, and their presence in Jarosz's debut is far from simple courtesy; it is a celebration.
There is much to celebrate. Jarosz (juh-ROSE) has a fine, supple singing voice, occasionally reminiscent of such disparate artists as Natalie Maines, Patty Griffin, and Rickie Lee Jones. She has a deft writing voice, unusually assured and observant in her debut, and it is more than telling that the album's two covers (the Decemberists' "Shankill Butchers" and the Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan co-write, "Come On Up To The House") fit unobtrusively next to her own eleven songs. And of course she can play: mandolin, clawhammer banjo, guitar, and piano.
Born in Austin, Texas, and raised in Wimberley, 45 minutes south and east of Austin's city limits, Jarosz began singing at two, playing piano at six, took up the mandolin at ten. "Then," she says, "I found out about a weekly Friday night bluegrass jam in Wimberley. My parents took me to that once, and I was just hooked. I asked them to take me back every week. Once I showed an even greater interest in this music thing, they made it possible for me to be able to travel around the country and learn and grow as a musician."
It worked like this: For the last seven years Sarah has attended the week-long academy which precedes the RockyGrass festival in Lyons, Colorado. This year she'll be performing at the festival itself. "It's all just really built upon itself," she says of her career. "I feel like I've never had to push or force anything to make it happen. It's been a really beautiful, natural thing." Already she's played Telluride and Wintergrass, Old Settler's Music Festival in Austin, Grey Fox, and, even, the Country Music Association Festival. She joined Earl Scruggs and Ricky Skaggs on national television during the 2005 CMA salute to the father of bluegrass banjo, and was a special guest at the Del McCoury Band's 2008 New Year's Eve party at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
All of which is to say that she belongs.
The making of Song Up In Her Head with producer Gary Paczosa (John Prine, the Duhks, Chris Thile) was a comparatively simple affair, given that it had to be scheduled around her high school classes and that she was learning how studios worked while making the album. (Learn she must have; Jarosz is credited as co-producer.)
"We started pre-production in March of last year," she says, "and then we really started diving into it around June of last year. I cut the majority of it in Nashville, at Gary Paczosa's studio. We had a session here at Blue Rock Studio in Wimberley, and I traveled up to New York City in December to record with Chris Thile and Paul Kowert. We did one little thing at Blackbird Studio in Nashville. And then we did one more song at [Dixie Chick] Martie McGuire's studio in Austin. Gary was working with her at her studio, and I was able to record one of my songs there." Simple, see?
"Gary and I would build off of things, and then make more layers," she says. "It was all new to me, so it was an incredible learning process. To have all of those musicians who are pros at it just lend their talents to it was such an honor. And it was such a learning experience in itself to watch them doing their thing."
Jarosz will spend the summer of 2009 doing her thing. And then she's off to college, in Boston, at which point the balancing act - and the learning - will continue.
- Grant Alden
Drake White is an aspiring singer songwriter residing in Nashville, TN. The Hokes Bluff, Alabama native has a very different country feel with a freestyle twist on many of his original songs. He ad-libs throughout a show phrasing rhythmic lyrics as his entertaining live show unfolds. Drake frequently involves the audience in his witty craftsmanship of verbalization as well. The enthusiastic 27 year old credits many country, blues, rock, freestyle and bluegrass influences that forms his musical sound that is unique in its own way. The EMI singer/songwriter is incredibly motivated in his pursuit of creating great music and wants nothing more than to do what he loves. He is a God fearing, river rat, beach bum that loves the outdoors and expresses this love through his soulful lyrical exchanges that breeze through the listener's ears effortlessly.
Fort Worth TX | Country
One of the most respected vocalists to emerge during the urban cowboy era, John Conlee was known for his superb taste in material and his distinctively melancholy voice. Conlee was born and raised on a tobacco farm in Versailles, KY, in 1946, and took up the guitar as a child, performing on local radio at age ten. He went on to sing with the town barbershop chorus, but didn't initially pursue music as a career, instead becoming a licensed mortician. He also worked as a disc jockey at numerous area radio stations, and made important industry connections via that area when he moved to Nashville in 1971. Five years later, Conlee's demo tape got him a contract with ABC. He released a few singles, but didn't find acceptance until 1978's "Rose Colored Glasses," a song he'd co-written with a newsman at his radio station, rocketed into the country Top Five. Conlee spent the next decade or so scoring hit after hit, nearly all of them helmed by producer Bud Logan. He had two number ones in 1979 alone -- "Lady Lay Down" and "Backside of Thirty" -- and four number two hits through 1981, which included "Before My Time," "Friday Night Blues," "She Can't Say That Anymore," and "Miss Emily's Picture." Conlee returned to the top of the charts three times over 1983-1984 with "Common Man," "I'm Only in It for the Love," and "In My Eyes," and had his last number one in 1986 with "Got My Heart Set on You." All told, Conlee made the Top Ten 19 times through 1987, when he moved from MCA to Columbia and reached the Top Five with "Domestic Life." Never much for touring, Conlee subsequently curtailed his recording activities as well, instead devoting his time to charity work (often on behalf of American farmers), raising his family, and running his own farm outside Nashville.
South Gate CA | Country
Lee Greenwood could easily talk about the accomplishments in his life, but this high energy entertainer prefers to continue writing and recording with the same passion and integrity that has always fueled his stellar career.
“I want my family to see what I do and not what I did,” he says of sharing his passion for music with his wife Kim and their two sons, Dalton and Parker. “I like the artistry of it. I could have been a carpenter or a farmer, but I love the spirit of the music. The creative ideas still flow and I am writing much more than I have in previous years. I always love to create something new.”
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
With her sweet country voice and hauntingly beautiful lyrics, singer/songwriter Kalisa Ewing is no stranger to life’s surprises. Her songs are bold, fresh and honest; stories that may never have been told if not for a divine intervention of sorts.
“My mom and I got into a car accident the summer before my Sophomore year of high school and I blacked out. I remember during that time, visions of my guitar in my hands, playing my guitar and being on stage, all flashed before my eyes. That was enough to make me think a little bit harder about writing songs and what playing music meant to me.”
Kalisa grew up in the country just outside Nashville where, at age 11, she picked up a guitar and penned her first song. She credits her insatiable passion for music to her grandfather, who died of heart problems just after she was born. Kalisa’s grandfather, Owen McCarty, was a blind musician who moved to Nashville to fulfill his dreams as an artist in Music City.
Jim Ed Brown
If there is one word best suited to describe Jim Ed Brown, it is veratile. As a dynamic component in duets and a trio, as a solo recording artist, and as a popular television host, in the course of his professional lifetime, he has filled role after role with shining success. The last career of this balladeer from Arkansas can easily be likened to a well-cut gem, with its facets reflecting light on many different planes, yet collectively achieving the warm, enduring brilliance of an unforgettable star, a TRUE LEGEND...
Jim Lauderdale is a Grammy® Award winning musician and one of the most respected artists working the Bluegrass, Country and Americana music communities today. He is considered one of Nashville's "A" list of songwriters with songs recorded by artists such as Patty Loveless, Shelby Lynne, Solomon Burke, The Dixie Chicks and George Strait, who has had numerous hits with Jim’s songs. Jim’s music has been featured recently on the ABC hit show “Nashville” and he had several tracks on the soundtrack of the successful film “Pure Country.” Jim is also in high demand as a player, touring with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rhonda Vincent and Elvis Costello.
Jim, who frequently collaborates with legends like Ralph Stanley and Elvis Costello, is also a critically acclaimed solo artist with dozens of studio releases, including his latest Carolina Moonrise, written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and Buddy and Jim the critically acclaimed new duets album recorded with long time friend Buddy Miller of which Mojo states: “Miller and Lauderdale's duets has both the easy familiarity of old friends and the musicianship of old pros.”
In addition to making music together, Buddy and Jim also co-host “The Buddy & Jim Show,” recently described as “…highly entertaining…” by NPR’s Fresh Air. Each week Buddy and Jim invite artists to Buddy’s home studio in Nashville, where they tape performances and in depth interviews with a wide variety of artists and friends. Jim also hosts the popular Music City Roots each week from the Loveless Barn in Nashville and since winning "Artist of the Year" and "Song of the Year" at the first "Honors and Awards Show" held by the Americana Music Association in 2002, he has subsequently hosted the show each year.
Jim is the subject of a new documentary, directed by Australian filmmaker Jeremy Dylan called “The King Of Broken Hearts.” The feature length documentary tells Jim’s unconventional and prolific story from his North Carolina roots, being immersed in the country music scenes in both New York City and Los Angeles, to breaking through in Nashville as a songwriter.
Jim's musical influences, including the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones, can be heard in his songs with his unique sense of melody and lyrical expertise. He won his first Grammy Award in 2002 with Dr. Ralph Stanley for Lost in the Lonesome Pines (Dualtone) and then for The Bluegrass Diaries (Yep Roc) in 2007. In addition to previously mentioned releases, as a performer Jim is credited with production, writing and collaborating on over two dozen albums including Wait ’Til Spring (SkyCrunch/Dualtone 2003) with Donna the Buffalo and Headed for the Hills (Dualtone 2004) his first total project with Robert Hunter, Planet of Love (Reprise 1991,) Pretty Close to the Truth (Atlantic 1994,) Every Second Counts (Atlantic 1995,) Persimmons (Upstart 1998,) Whisper (BNA 1998,) Onward Through It All (RCA 1999,) The Other Sessions (Dualtone 2001,) The Hummingbirds (Dualtone 2002,) Bluegrass (Yep Roc 2006,) Country Super Hits, Volume 1 (Yep Roc 2006,) Honey Songs (Yep Roc 2008), Could We Get Any Closer? (SkyCrunch 2009,) Patchwork River (Thirty Tigers 2010) and Reason and Rhyme (Sugar Hill Records 2011.)
Jim's musical influences include the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones. These influences and his unique sense of melody and lyric help forge a sound that is truly his own. As a performer his credits include production, writing and collaborating on albums such as, "Wait 'Til Spring" with Donna the Buffalo, "Headed for the Hills” with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, "I Feel Like Singing Today" and the Grammy winning “Lost in the Lonesome Pines” with Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys.
His second solo bluegrass album, “Bluegrass Diaries” (Yep Roc 2007) won a Grammy in the “Bluegrass Album of the Year” category. His next album, “Honey Songs” was released in February 2008, and features an incredible lineup of musicians including James Burton, Garry Tallent, Al Perkins, Glen D. Hardin, Ron Tutt, Emmy Lou Harris, Patty Loveless, and many more.
Jim’s solo albums include “The Hummingbirds” (Dualtone 2002), “The Other Sessions” (Dualtone 2001), “Onward Through it All” (RCA 1999), “Whisper” (BNA 1998), “Persimmons” (Upstart 1996), “Every Second Counts” (Atlantic 1995), “Pretty Close to the Truth” (Atlantic 1994), and “Planet of Love” (Reprise 1991), as well as two releases in 2006, “Country Super Hits, Volume 1” and “Bluegrass” (Yep Roc), Grammy winner "The Bluegrass Diaries" (Yep Roc 2007), "Honey Songs" (Yep Roc 2008) "Could We Get Any Closer?" (Sky Crunch 2009) and "Patchwork River" (Thirty Tigers 2010).
"It's been a particularly great period for me," says Lauderdale. "Thanks to the records - I'm performing more and more, which I love. And I love that I can play the Opry one weekend, a jam-band festival the next and then a bluegrass festival the following week. That's really inspiring to me and I think there's a real thread there. The roots are the same for all of them and that's the music I'm interested in."
For the last seven years, singer-songwriter Charlie Worsham has devoted himself to honing his musical vision by collaborating with many of the most innovative musicians in Nashville today, working as both a session player and writer, while serving as a central member of a high-profile band of players. Now, the 27-year-old multi-instrumentalist is gearing up to release his debut album - Rubberband on August 20th via Warner Bros. Records - which not only reveals his refined musical talent, but announces Worsham as a country artist of uncommon ingenuity, substance, and soul. Joined by musicians carefully assembled through his years of dedication to the Nashville scene, as well as through his studies at Berklee College of Music, Worsham infuses each track on Rubberband with a reverence for country's rich heritage while ultimately delivering a bold sound entirely his own.
"They say you've got your whole life to make your first record, and that couldn't ring more true for me," says Worsham of Rubberband, which he co-produced with Ryan Tyndell and recorded at engineer Eric Masse's East Nashville studio. "On this album I took so many things I'd wanted to say in song form for years, and channeled them into lyrics and melodies and guitar solos in a way that shows my influences but also takes some crazy turns." Worsham also draws immense inspiration from artists of remarkable longevity, such as Vince Gill and Marty Stuart (who once gave Worsham an autograph reading "Follow your heart"-a message Worsham later tattooed onto his arm).
Boundary-pushing but endlessly catchy, Rubberband offers a selection of songs that integrate elements of bluegrass, country, pop and rock and roll. The album also finds Worsham revamping classic country with intricate arrangements, left-of-center flourishes (including guest vocals by indie vocalist Madi Diaz), and deeply inventive riffs. On the album's title track, "Rubberband," for instance, Worsham sets the groove with a low-toned guitar lick created by the extremely-warped loose tuning of his E string. "Could It Be," the album's first single, opens with a shimmering, delicate tumble of notes achieved with an in-studio experiment playing slide on the mandolin, leading into soaring harmonies. An incurable self-proclaimed gear hound, Worsham favors playing his 1963 Martin D-28 through a pedal board and amplifying the guitar, resulting in a sound that's a startling departure from traditional acoustic playing.
Along with creating the lushly textured soundscapes on the album, each of Worsham's songs have a heart-on-your-sleeve emotionalism that showcases his natural storytelling ability. On "Trouble Is," he weaves scorching electric guitar into delicate acoustic plucking while detailing an encounter with a dangerously irresistible object of affection ("I spend days building up walls/Just for you to tear down/With one touch of your hand"). And on "Mississippi in July," Worsham spins a gorgeously rendered and regret-soaked tale of returning home for an old flame's wedding ("My heart might as well be one of those cans tied to the back of your limousine/It was hanging by a thread so I went ahead and cut the string").
As a songwriter, Worsham builds those varied moods and sounds by mining his expansive musical background and venturing into new sonic territory at the same time. According to Worsham, that sense of adventurousness is fueled by a passion for music that arose at a very early age. "One of my earliest memories of music is going to see my dad play in a local band-he's a banker by trade, but a drummer at heart," says Worsham, who grew up 100 miles south of Memphis in Grenada, Mississippi. "During sound check I sat in his lap and hit the drums, and that's the first time I got the bug to make music." Worsham began taking piano lessons in kindergarten, and in second grade caught a performance by bluegrass banjo player Mike Snider while visiting Opryland with his family. "When we got home my parents bought me a banjo and got me lessons. After that, I got into the habit of taking on a new instrument every year, including the guitar, mandolin and fiddle," Worsham recalls. He won the Junior National Banjo Championship at age 12 and later that year, joined Snider on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
In high school, Worsham scored his first electric guitar by busking in front of a guitar shop to raise the final hundred bucks on the price tag and joined a band. After graduating, he headed for Berklee, but left after two and a half years to move to Nashville to pursue music. Along with working as a writer-as well as a session musician for Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, and others artists-Worsham continued penning his own songs and recording demos, eventually landing a deal with Warner Music Nashville and opening on tour for the likes of Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert.
Considering Worsham's musical history, it's no wonder that Rubberband emerges as such a sophisticated yet refreshingly simple collection of songs. "For me, the best songwriting comes when you get out of your own way and let the lyrics and music happen together," he says. "Those moments are pretty elusive-they kind of strike like lightning-but when it happens, it's amazing." And in the recording studio, he adds, a number of "beautiful accidents" went a long way in helping to shape the album's sound. "It's that sort of unplanned thing that happens when old friends and new friends get in a room and make music together," Worsham explains.
That sense of community-and the creativity it breeds-is crucial to Worsham as he forges ahead with his musical career. "I feel really lucky to have been a part of the Nashville music scene for a while now and have worn all these different hats. I gained a broader perspective on the importance of surrounding yourself with other musicians you know and trust," he says. "One of my main goals as a musician is to respect the past of country music as well as its future." Worsham adds, "I hope that I can someday be one of those folks who represent the music in a greater sense, and carry it somewhere forward that's different and exciting."
Titusville PA | Country
Along with many accolades including awards from Billboard, Cashbox and Record World, country music legend Jeannie Seely has achieved No. 1 songs as a solo artist, as a duet partner and as a songwriter. Her deeply moving vocals earned her the nickname of "Miss Country Soul".
Jeannie’s recording of "Don’t Touch Me" not only topped the charts, but also earned her a Grammy Award for the "Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female". It is ranked at No. 97 in the book "Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles" published by the Country Music Foundation, and also included in "The Stories Behind Country Music’s All-Time Greatest 100 Songs".
Born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and raised on a farm outside of nearby Townville, Jeannie was singing on Meadville radio station WMGW at age 11, and by 16 was performing on TV station WICU in Erie. When she moved to Nashville upon the encouragement of friend Dottie West, Jeannie only had $50 and a Ford Falcon to her name, but within a month Porter Wagoner hired her as the female singer for his road and television series.