I guess we’ll have to wait a while longer before we get our kicks on Old Route 66. Be safe, be well, be prepared. (Photo credit to my son.)
I guess we’ll have to wait a while longer before we get our kicks on Old Route 66. Be safe, be well, be prepared. (Photo credit to my son.)
Corb Lund put on an amazing show on Central Avenue–Old Route 66–in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Sunday March 8th, 2020, just before we all went into nation-wide lockdown. Corb has a new album coming out, Agricultural Tragic, and I scored a pre-release copy at the show. Yeah band merch.
Too many “country” artists are all hat and no cattle. Corb was wearing his hat, and he had cattle back at the ranch in Alberta, just north of where my wife grew up in Montana. His album Things That Can’t Be Undone has become just about my favorite album, ever. Or at least most played since it came out in 2015. His 2012 album Cabin Fever is pretty timely for the coming COVID chaos, too.
Local music fan Matt Nida recorded the show right next to us, up in the balcony, and loaded Corb Lund’s 3/8/2020 show on the Internet Archive. So now I can relive the show and you can stream it, since who knows when we’ll be able to see a live show next.
Dale Watson doesn’t much care for the “Americana” appellation, so he went and dubbed himself “Ameripolitan”. That’s a nod to the old “Countrypolitan” style of Chet Atkins’ 1960s’ Nashville Sound. Now I’m not much of a Chet Atkins fan of orchestrated pop country, but it’s still better than anything in 21st Century pop country. Dale Watson takes his influence from the pioneering artists (e.g. Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzel, Ray Price. etc.) and creates music that’s much better than most anything now and then.
“Quit complaining, and do something about it.” -Dale Watson
So the last few year’s Dale’s been throwing a soiree for the Ameripolitan Awards in Memphis, Tennessee, and this year’s show was last weekend. The winners are (as reported by the most excellent Saving Country Music site):
Full disclosure–Charley Crockett is the only one of these artists I’ve listened too, but Charley Crockett is AWESOME. Plus the playbill rocked, with Junior Junior Brown, The Reverend Horton Heat, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys (on their way to Albuquerque next week), Wayne “The Train” Hancock, and a surprise appearance from Grammy winner Tanya Tucker.
Speaking of the Grammys, they didn’t suck this year. Well, those artists nominated and awarded mostly didn’t suck. I don’t know about the show, because I didn’t watch it. Highlights would be:
It’s the end of the decade… or maybe that’s the end of 2020 instead of the beginning. Either way, jcshepard.com is 10-years old, a decade since we went online 1 January 2009. Happy birthday to the blog. In 2018, our site here had 1,400 visitors give about 6,200 views, with August 2018 garnering more clicks than any other month. In 2019, traffic pulled back, with 1,300 visitors and almost 1,900 views.
It is what it is. I just post about what I’m reading and what I’m listening to. Thank you for visiting.
#1 post of 2019: Cheyenne-Laramie County, Wyoming, Historical Timeline. Repeat winner by far, Cheyenne-Laramie County, Wyoming, Historical Timeline: a 2014 keyword-rich retrospective of the capital of the Cowboy State, which celebrated their 150th Anniversary in 2017.
#2: Be Here to Love Me…for free. Yeah, the “free” part is gone since this 2011 post posted, and it feels kinda click-baity, but it is what it is. ICYMI, listen to Townes Van Zandt’s new release, Sky Blue. You can stream Spotify that for “free”, too.
#3: Diary of Orrin Brown–Nov 20, 1864. From my series on the Civil War. The Day Pvt. Orrin Brown sold his shoes.
#4: Behind the Bakken Boom. As I noted last year, and the year before that, I really need to update my series on Oil & Gas drilling out here in the West. The Albuquerque Journal did an in-depth series on oil and natural gas development in the Permian Basin of southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, and BP sold their natural gas interests in the San Juan Basin.
#5: On the Brink of War — America’s Christmas 1916. Post 2016 election look at the events of 100 years before. Up from #8 last year, and hopefully not a look ahead to 2020.
#6: Little (Lego) House on the Prairie (Style). Perennially popular post from 2009. A little Lego love for Frank Lloyd Wright.
#7: About. Thank you for your interest.
#8 overall & #1 NEW POST OF 2019: The Martyr Richard Woodman. The story of Richard Woodman reminds us that once upon a time, Western peoples were willing to die for their religious beliefs. 1557 wasn’t really that long ago.
#9: All Thing Shepard. History meets genealogy. Down a spot again. Dramatically due for an update. Rootsweb got hacked late 2016, though, and Ancestry had it down for a good while. The site’s back up but re-arranged and due for some attention.
#10: The Day the Music Died. Tribute from 10 years ago for the late, great Buddy Holly and company,
Our #2 NEW POST of 2019: Quicksand Soup – Miss You Darling Doesn’t Miss, at #13 overall. It was good to hear new music from Sand Sheff. Ride ’em, cowboy.
Most of you are viewing the blog from the gold old U.S. of A. My next largest number of views this year and last are coming from Red China and South Korea. Interesting. It is what it is. Thank you for visiting in 2020.
The Year in Music for 2019 was dedicated to Guy Clark and Susanna Clark, with a coda for the late, great Townes Van Zandt.
As soon as I heard about Steve Earle’s project to dedicate an album of covers to Guy Clark’s memory, I knew this would be my favorite recording of 2019. GUY held up to my expectations, even better than Earle’s tribute TOWNES did 10 years earlier. As Earle previously made “Pancho and Lefty” his own, this time around he bought and paid for “Dublin Blues”, a song I never really realized how good it is lyrics and music both.
Other artists paid tribute as well. Vince Gill sang “Nothin’ Like A Guy Clark Song” on his Grammy-nominated album Okie. Aaron Watson opened Red Bandana with “Ghost of Guy Clark”, in which the spirit of the great songwriter tells our hero his song’s OK “if that’s all you’ve got to give”. And while George Strait finally got to “Sing One with Willie”, Willie Nelson covered Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You” (a tribute to Guy’s wife, Susanna, which damn well better bring tears to your eyes no matter who sings it).
We also heard the ghost of Townes from beyond the beyond, with the posthumous Sky Blue. As related by NPR, this the songwriter recorded these tracks in a visit to his friend Bill Hedgepeth in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1973. The session included to previously unreleased songs, “All I Need”, and the title track “Sky Blue”, which I played into the ground. This take on “Pancho and Lefty” is pretty good, too, but the “Snake Song” and “Dream Spider” give me the heeby-jeebies.
Erin Enderlin, an Arkansas country musician and songwriter, is my surprise discovery of 2019. After teasing EPs all year, released in four story-cycles, her album Faulkner County would have been my favorite release of the year, in any other year. “Tonight I Don’t Give a Damn”, “I Can Be Your Whiskey”, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”–doesn’t get much more Country than that. Kudos to Corey Parkman “Farce the Music” for including Enderlin in his periodic Spotify playlist, for this find.
George Strait delivered another George Strait album just a bit better than most of pop country radio deserves, but he really hit a tear-jerker with “The Weight Of The Badge”. If you’re wondering why Red State America isn’t responding to Liberal Social Justice Warriors (and despite my antipathy for Trumpist fear-mongering), just listen to this song. We are the Law. We are the Rule of Law. We are One with Law Enforcement, and we cannot pay the Boys in Blue enough for the weight they carry each and every day.
Among the other songs in my Top 10 and Top 20, some are getting their share of Real Country love and attention, and others ought to. Tyler Childers is up for a Grammy (huh? what? yeah, go figure.). So are Tanya Tucker and Willie Nelson. I shoulda listened to Ashley McBryde more, she’s on the Grammy list, too. Rhiannon Giddens is just, wow. Then fast-forward to the Grammy Folk category and Patty Griffin is, well, Patty.
My far-flung music amiga Sacha agrees with the Americana Radio chart’s crowning of Hayes Carll’s album What It Is, and “None’ya” made it to my Top 10 scrabbles of 2019, even if I did like Ryan Bingham’s “Jingle and Go” that came out about the same time, just a bit better. Mike and the Moonpies took Saving Country Music blog’s Album of the year with their sweet sounds of Country Music, and Tyler Childers and Cody Jinks shared Saving Country Music’s Artist of the year, all well-deserved.
There’s a bunch of great music released in 2019, and some of the tunes from 2018 rolled over into my heavy Scrobble rotation again this year. We lost the Red Dirt Legend, Brandon Jenkins, in March 2018, and “Be the Revival” off his last album was my Top Tune of 2018 and still gets to me in 2019. And along with Colter Wall’s “Plain to See Plainsman”, folk artist Nancy K. Dillon’s “Dutchman’s Gold” got to the cowboy in me. Also in my Top 50 was Dom Flemons’ “Steel Pony Blues” off Black Cowboys. (Dom is in Carolina Chocolate Drops with Rhianon Giddens.). Charley Crockett’s The Valley fits in here, and you might notice, too, my Top 21 tracks extended to include “Kimberly” by Quicksand Soup, Sand Sheff’s new band up Moab way.
Despite what I said above about George Strait fans, the cowboy way isn’t political, it isn’t an ethnicity or a voting bloc or guys who like big hats. A cowboy’s life is a road less traveled, and it deserves all the ink it gets, and that sounds like a good goal for me to ponder on in 2020.
No Depression magazine started out covering “Alt.Country…whatever that is”. As such, they still cover, well, Alt.not-country but we’re not quite sure whatever that is”. No Depression isn’t an “Americana” magazine, but it isn’t NOT an “Americana” outlet either. Mostly, though, No Depression (like the namesake album by Uncle Tupelo) covers the sorta music I like to listen to, and that commercial radio doesn’t play. Mostly.
The editors solicited a small poll of their regular reviewers and critics for the “good stuff”, the albums they couldn’t shut up about, in 2019:
So Tyler Childers gets a Grammy nomination, a Top 10 in the prestigious No Depression Critics survey AND Tops the ND Readers’ 50 Favorite Roots Albums of 2019? Here’s the copy-paste of the start of the Readers’ list:
1. Tyler Childers – Country Squire
2. The Highwomen – The Highwomen
3. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
4. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
5. Hayes Carll – What It Is
6. Whiskey Myers – Whiskey Myers
7. Willie Nelson – Ride Me Back Home
8. Billy Strings – HOME
9. Buddy and Julie Miller – Breakdown on 20th Ave. South
10. Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – Turn off the News (Build a Garden)
11. Ian Noe – Between the Country
12. Steve Earle and the Dukes – Guy
13. Our Native Daughters – Songs of Our Native Daughters (tie)
13. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land (tie)
15. Son Volt – Union (tie)
15. Yola – Walk Through Fire (tie)
17. Mandolin Orange – Tides of a Teardrop
18. Rodney Crowell – Texas
19. Wilco – Ode to Joy (tie)
19. Josh Ritter – Fever Breaks (tie)
The Springsteen is good. My friend Sacha loves the Hayes Carll, and he’s rolling into my Top 10 for 2019. My friend Jay in Minnesota gave his Top pick to Whiskey Meyers—he was my best boss, and not just because of his great taste in Country-Rock music. Willie is always good, and Lukas’ album was pretty good, too. It’s nice to see Billy Strings get recognized. And as noted previously, Steve Earle was the victim of Airway Robbery on this poll also—no way GUY only polls Top 12. His tribute album to Guy Clark is A-Number One for my 2019.
Hayes Carll and Good Companions
Hayes Carll’s album What It Is took the top spot for most spins by Americana Radio in 2019 (through 12/17/19). Denver’s very own The Lumineers’ cut “Gloria” off III was the single most spun single in 2019. Contrast this, as usual, with the Grammy’s complete lack of recognition of the artists and songs actually being played on Americana radio.
From the AMA PR:
|Top 10 Americana Radio Airplay Albums of 2019|
What It Is, Hayes Carll
Fever Breaks, Josh Ritter
III, The Lumineers
Turn Off the News (Build a Garden), Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Signs, Tedeschi Trucks Band”
Jade Bird, Jade Bird
We Get By, Mavis Staples
American Love Song, Ryan Bingham
Walk Through Fire, Yola
Closer Than Together, The Avett Brothers
View the complete Top 100 albums list here.
|Top 10 Americana Radio Airplay Singles of 2019|
“Gloria,” The Lumineers (Appears on III)
“Old Black Magic,” Josh Ritter (Appears on Fever Breaks)
“Bad Case,” Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real (Appears on Turn Off the News [Build a Garden])
“Stay High,” Brittany Howard (Appears on Jaime)
“High Steppin’,” The Avett Brothers (Appears on Closer Than Together)
“Hard Case,” Tedeschi Trucks Band (Appears on Signs)
“Change,” Mavis Staples (Appears on We Get By)
“Jingle and Go,” Ryan Bingham (Appears on American Love Song)
“All Your’n,” Tyler Childers (Appears on Country Squire)
“None’ya,” Hayes Carll (Appears on What It Is)
View the complete Top 100 singles list here.
I was just arguing with a friend over the merits and authenticity of Hayes Carll, in light of his chart-topping performance this year. She thinks it’s long deserved recognition. I, on the other hand, do like Carll’s latest effort, but I still get hung up on his transformation from 2002 suburban Woodlands Texas folk singer to 2019 Gee Shucks Texas Country boy. I mean, he’s good, he hangs out with Corb Lund and Ray Wylie Hubbard good. He’s picking-fights-with-Steve-Earle good. She makes a good point, too, that artists evolve and SOMETIMES that means they get better. Usually some producer gets ahold of them and they go all commercial, but not ALWAYS.
I’m trying to dwell less on negatives and be grateful for the positives in life. Hayes Carll and his music are good companions these days.
Speaking of companions, I definitely agree with the 8-9-10 spots on the Singles chart Substitute Tyler Childers’ “House Fire” for “All Your’n” on my list even if that’s one the Grammys and AMA agree upon. I didn’t want to like Ryan Bingham’s “Jingle and Go” but it’s an ear worm–I did stream more of Carll’s tracks on this album compared to Childers’ and Bingham’s, for what that’s worth.
And oh by the way, Steve Earle was ROBBED with airplay for GUY, his album in tribute to Guy Clark, only coming in #37. Airway Robbery—I knew the first time I played “Dublin Blues” with the early singles release, that this was going to be my #1 album of 2019, and you can jump up on the coffee table and tell everyone just that.
I wrote about the 2018 AMA Radio Charts last year, and the No Depression annual readers poll. I’ll have to get to the ND list.
The Recording Academy announced their 2020 nominations for the 62nd Grammy Awards last month. While I could pan their General Field nominations as the typical generic, awful ear candy (in particular the controversial NasX-Billy Ray Cyrus fiasco), I won’t. Life is too short to rehash the basic fact that Pop Music Sucks. Moving on.
Drilling down on the Grammy categories I care about—Country and American Roots—the Academy didn’t get it all wrong this year.
The Country category starts at #26. Best Country Solo Performance. You know this year might just be different when this list starts with “All Your’n” by Tyler Childers. Wow. Just Wow.
Wow. Of these, you’re only likely to hear Shelton on pop country radio these days. Childers’ Country Squire is very popular in certain quarters, as are the rest sans Blake, but… just… wow. Now the next category 27. Best Country Duo/Group Performance and beyond, bounces us back down to reality of pop country radio stars, so no worries that life as Nashville knows is it is in any danger. But Brandi Carlile and company got Tanya Tucker noticed again with While I’m Livin’, and Reba McEntire gets a well earned nod for her album Stronger than the Truth, as do the Pistol Annies for Interstate Gospel.
The American Roots Music category starts at 45. Best American Roots Performance. I gotta tell you, I’ve been an Americana guy for 20 years, but I wouldn’t necessarily know it from the Grammy noms. But I’m used to that. Before November, of these songs I’d only listened to Rhiannon Giddens’ “I’m On My Way”, really (that’s gonna scrabble my Top 20). I’ve Spotified some scrobbles since and they’re mostly not bad, though they’re not going to make the top of my last.fm year end list (except Giddens). Same for 46. Best American Roots Song, where I spun a bunch of Vince Gill, but didn’t consider “I Don’t Wanna Ride the Rails No More” as an “American Roots Song”, nor the strongest on the album. I do like I’m With Her (Jarosz, O’Donovan & Watkins) but I didn’t love their effort this time around. People I know have good taste really like Yola’s Walk Through Fire, and it is pretty good for cat 47.
Bluegrass (48) contenders stream well, but I woulda put Billy Strings on top here. I like Blues but I’m no where near the market, as shown by my lack of scrobbles in categories 49 & 50. Delbert McClinton is always fun. Then in 51. Best Folk Album, Patty Griffin’s self-titled album is just on an entirely different plane of existence from the rest of the contenders.
So we’ll see what the Academy members vote come January 26, 2020.
Amelia Blake, an online friend of mine, will be in the audience in L.A. Between us Internauts, she deserves a trophy more than most of the nominees, but that’s life.
PAGOSA SPRINGS—More people moved into Colorado last year than moved out, continuing the State’s trend of population growth. In 2018, approximately 239,000 people were attracted to Colorado and just over 203,000 people left, for a net gain of about 36,000, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) estimates released October 31st.
In April 2020, the US Census Bureau will be making their once-a-decade count of all residents, including these newcomers. Efforts are already underway in Colorado to help ensure a complete count. Region Nine Economic Development District and the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments are coordinating efforts with the Colorado State Demographer’s Office. Locally, the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce is organizing the Archuleta County Complete Count Committee. Their first meeting is Friday, November 15th, 11 am, at the Chamber offices, 105 Hot Springs Blvd, in Pagosa Springs.
The large number of people moving into and out of Colorado will be a challenge for the Census. In Pagosa Springs, Texas license plates aren’t unusual to see in traffic across Southwest Colorado, but statewide the largest number of new residents moved from California. Over 28,000 people left the Golden State for the Centennial State in 2018, with almost 27,000 making the move from the Lone Star State. Florida contributed about 14,000, followed by over 11,000 from New Mexico and over 9,000 from Virginia.
The road does go both ways. Texas gained over 21,000 former Colorado residents in 2018, with close to 19,000 moving to California, and close to 16,000 moving to Florida. Arizona attracted over 11,000, followed by the state of Washington.
The US Census Bureau is recruiting 500,000 temporary workers nationwide to help conduct the census next year, with some already in the field preparing for the decennial survey. US Census staff in Archuleta County are anticipated to be managed out of Colorado Springs, with pay at about $14.00/hour [update $16.00/hr] and a flexible schedule. For more information visit https://2020census.gov .
(Published in the Pagosa Sun, 11/14/19, update 11/26).
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, I blogged the diary of my ancestor Pvt. Orrin Brown, Co. E, 14th Michigan Infantry, who marched through Georgia and the Carolinas with General Sherman. It remains some of the most popular material on this blog, now five years later.
As best we know, Orrin O. Brown was born in September 1836, at Wayne County, Michigan, to Orrin Brown, Sr. and Rhoda Weaver Brown of New York State. Orphaned at birth, his mother moved in with family in Will County, Illinois, only to become sick and die, leaving the baby to the care of relatives. In 1863, he went into the lumber trade and milling business at Sodus Township, Berrien County, Michigan. Answering the final call for service in the great War between the States for his older brother Norman, in October of 1864 he entered Company E, Fourteenth Michigan Infantry.
Company E mustered in at Kalamazoo, Michigan on the 13th of October, taking the train through Michigan City to Indianapolis where it met men from Illinois, going on to Nashville, Tennessee. The company helped with the clean up at Chattanooga from the 21st to November 3rd, when they departed on the train to Atlanta. Orrin saw the battlefield at Kennesaw Mountain and watched the city burn. Leaving on 15 November with General William T. Sherman’s army, he marched 300 miles through Georgia to Savannah, reaching that city on 11 December. The day after Christmas, he started marching northward towards Augusta and eventually ended up at Fayetteville, North Carolina, on 12 February 1865. His health failing, Orrin went to New Bern, NC, and boarded the U.S. Kennebeck on 30 April for a hospital at New York, leaving service in June 1865. He returned to Michigan and took up a career as a farmer. Orrin Brown passed away on 9 January 1909.
This is his story, written in his own words.
The original diary has been handed down through the family for 125 years. This version was set to disk from a typed manuscript in 1989 by John Shepard and Mary Shepard Gin, Orrin Brown’s great-great-great-grandchildren by way of his daughter Rhoda Brown Pugh, her daughter Lucy Pugh Tillstrom, her daughter Florence Tillstrom Shepard. The transcription in PDF is available here. Original spelling and style has been left intact.
(c) 2014, 2019 for format and presentation, JC Shepard, Pagosa Springs, CO