"There's a really big void in the digital coverage of country music as far as giving it the serious attention it deserves," RollingStone.com director (and son of RS honcho and co-founder Jann Wenner) Gus Wenner recently told Ad Age. Wenner the younger goes on to tell Ad Age that RS Country's Nashville office will employ "10 to 15 editorial staffers." Rolling Stone Country will not produce a print publication, though RS proper is planning "a country-themed print issue" to coincide with the site's launch.
Rolling Stone will reportedly spend more than $1 million on the new site in 2014. "Certain categories of advertisers love country music because it's a very sponsor-friendly genre," RS publisher Chris McLoughlin told Ad Age. "The performers are all super likable, they tend to be good people who value their fans and treat their fans well."
Rolling Stone's announcement comes on the heels of their "50 Best Albums of 2013" list, which included releases from country stars Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe.
“I feel like it’s the more the merrier,” Scene editor-in-chief Jim Ridley told Poynter. “For many years, Nashville’s felt severely undercovered by the national media. ... It’s refreshing to see a national publication say this deserves more than just a stopover, this requires a bureau.”
I concur with my boss.
It looks like Christmas has come early for Middle Tennessee pop-punk fans: Vans Warped Tour, the preeminent touring punk/ska/hardcore/whatevs festival (and one of the few touring music festivals to keep chugging along), is coming to Nashville on July 29, 2014. Festival organizers announced the stop on Twitter last night, marking the first time Warped Tour will route through Nashville since their 2006 stop at Starwood Amphitheater.
There are tons of questions to ask: Why come back to Nashville? What’s the ticket situation? How alienated will we feel when we don’t recognize any of the bands performing? (Here's a hint: extremely.)
But, the main question here is the most obvious one: Where exactly are they going to stick this thing? As mentioned in this week’s Year in Music cover story, Nashville is stepping up its outdoor venue game ever so slightly, but Warped Tour is a massive undertaking. At last year’s festival, a total of nine stages were in regular use. Nine! And that’s not factoring in skateboard ramps, seas of merch booths and the other customary Warped Tour sprawl. The Lawn at Riverfront is big — but is it big enough to hold a festival on this scale?
More details will assuredly be released over the coming weeks and months. And while I’m sure the thought running through most of your heads is along the lines of “LOL, Warped Tour,” keep in mind that your little brother is probably stoked beyond measure for this development. For all its faults, Warped Tour succeeds in providing an affordable music festival experience geared toward the babies. And considering Nashville's dearth of all-ages music venues, that's a welcome sight.
Update: The Warped Tour has announced that the Nashville date will be held at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
Anyway, here and now, this weekend's a little bit slow, but there's some action if you poke around. Tonight you're looking at: Hoots and Hellmouth at The High Watt; Scale Model with The Swiflets at The End; Machines Are People Too at 12th & Porter; Sparkle City doing a thing at Foobar; and more. Tomorrow you're looking at: Los Colognes and friends at The Basement; Chris Crofton and the Alcohol Stuntband early at Grimey's and late at The Stone Fox; a Tom Waits tribute at The 5 Spot; and more. Have a look at the rest — compiled by music listings editor Adam "Stuck in the '60s" Gold — after the jump. Let us know what we missed, and have yourselves a safe but fun weekend.
Even without its staggering Paramount compilation produced in tandem with the Revenant label, Third Man Records would be having a stellar year for reissues. Back in May, the Cream passed along news about Third Man's series of 45s devoted to classics from the Sun Records catalog — starting with sides by Johnny Cash and Rufus Thomas, as well as one of the most unearthly of all pop singles, The Prisonaires' "Just Walkin' in the Rain."
Third Man has just released the second set of three Sun singles to be pressed by Nashville's United Record Pressing, and collectors are likely to find them just as sweet. Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" b/w "You Win Again" is as essential as rockabilly gets, and Roy Orbison's "Rock House" b/w "You're My Baby" reminds that his rockers were just as potent as his spectral later ballads. But the discovery among the three for casual fans will be D.A. Hunt's eerie rarity "Lonesome Old Jail" b/w "Greyhound Blues." From the Third Man site:
Daniel Augusta Hunt, better known as Junior Hunt, was born in Munford, AL in 1929. On or around March 11th, 1953, Hunt recorded these two songs at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis and they were released in June of that year. For over 50 years, these songs were believed to only exist in 78 rpm form, until a copy pressed as a 45 rpm 7” single turned up in Minnesota. This only known copy was sold on eBay in 2010 for $10,323. This marks the first legitimate release of Hunt's material on a 7" record, and both songs are outstanding examples of the heartbreaking, desolate nature of the solo bluesman accompanying himself on guitar and borrow heavily from the template set by Lightnin' Hopkins. Hunt was arrested in Memphis in 1958 for stealing a saxophone and died in May 1962 in Phoenix, AZ.
Read more about the series here.
Let's recap the rundown: Doors open at 7:30 p.m., comedy runs from 8 to 10-ish, and hip-hop starts at 10:30. See the whole thing for one $7 ticket; if you're stuck at the jobbity-job til the hip-hop starts, admission drops to $5 at 10:30. Check out the Facebook event here, and preview the talent after the jump.
Jamey Johnson made an abrupt exit from the Ryman stage last year after playing just an hour’s worth of Hank Cochran classics and uttering a few surly words. More than a few people have been wondering what he’s been up to since — besides, you know, smoking. He’s shown up for a handful of efforts he cares about this year: He contributed his visceral vocals to an Alabama tribute album, performed at the Tootsies Orchid Lounge birthday bash, and played the four-hour-plus Bridgestone show honoring the late George Jones — with no less than Megadeth as his backing band (see a clip from that after the jump, with a clip of Johnson doing a Jones medley at the Opry a couple years back above). But other than that and some touring, it’s a mystery what the most gifted, tradition-steeped singer-songwriter of his generation has been up to. In an online Rolling Stone interview early this year, Johnson warned not to expect new music from him anytime soon. But judging from a review of a recent New Orleans show where he interpreted pre-’60s country and gospel standards in addition to drawing from his standard-setting albums, going off-script can have advantages for his audience.
Tonight's show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $35 at the door.
Familiar with Knoxville's Big Ears Festival? Our neighbors to the east have been hosting the fest since 2009, using it as an opportunity to present concerts alongside "installations, exhibitions, film screenings, interactive workshops, informative talks, surprise collaborations, and unexpected connections." Big Ears 2014 will go down March 28-30 at Knoxville's Tennessee Theatre and U.S. Cellular Stage at the Bijou Theatre (plus more venues TBA), and the recently announced lineup is looking very intriguing indeed, with a list of artists that skews experimental, innovative and (in a case or two) deeply influential.
In addition to noted composer Steve Reich, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and neoclassical collective Ensemble Signal, iconic and powerfully influential artists including Television (with Jimmy Rip in place of original TV guitarist Richard Lloyd, of course, as it has been since 2007) and John Cale will also play Big Ears 2014. You can see all of the initially announced artists — also including super-cool weirdos Tim Hecker and Oneohtrix Point Never — on the above poster, or at BEF's website or Facebook page.
Weekend passes for Big Ears Fest 2014 will run you $150 plus service fees, and those go on sale via this link Friday, Dec. 6, at noon EST/11 a.m. Central.
Best in Shows 2013: The Scene's live review column, The Spin, checked out more than 100 shows this year — here are the highlights
Top Local Albums of 2013: The Nashville Scene Critics' Poll
The 2013 Rock ’n’ Roll Poll: We dialed up a select group of rockers, rollers, bloggers and bookers, and asked them what got their attention in the local scene this year
Love It or Leave It?: Career rock ‘n’ roller Coco Hames on the prospect of life after bands
The Spirit of St. Louis: Roots traditionalist Pokey LaFarge brings that old-time sound to the 21st century (Playing Dec. 11 at Mercy Lounge)
Plus Critics’ Picks on Jamey Johnson, Annie Sellick’s album release show, Hoots and Hellmouth, Los Colognes, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Cass McCombs, Brazos, Wild Child, Washed Out with Jensen Sportag and more
Nashville is packed with session players who have earned the right to carry the same wallet as Samuel L. Jackson's Jules in Pulp Fiction, and this weekend is your chance to rub elbows with one of the best. Prolific songwriter and session guitarist Mac Gayden will be at Howlin' Books (inside Grimey's Too) on Saturday, signing copies of his hot-off-the-presses autobiography, Missing String Theory: A Musician's Uncommon Spiritual Journey. Recently recognized by the Country Music Hall of Fame in their Nashville Cats Q&A series, Gayden is familiar to soul fans as co-writer of "Everlasting Love," a hit for Nashville singer Robert Knight in the summer of 1967 (the version above, not to be confused with that one). Bearing the imprint of Rising Sons records, a label operated by Nashville's Buzz Cason and Fred Foster, the single reached No. 13 on Billboard's Hot 100, indicating the strength of Nashville's R&B muscle at the time; the song was among three Gayden-penned tracks included on the CMHOF's goldmine Night Train to Nashville compilation. (A cover of "Everlasting Love" by Love Affair also shot to No. 1 in the soul-crazed U.K. in 1968. We'll wait while you karaoke that.)
Others will know Gayden as one of the dual lead guitarists from session-cat supergroup Area Code 615 (if you're not familiar, you'll thank yourself for getting with it) and subsequent venture Barefoot Jerry. Yet others will recognize his distinctive slide-wah guitar handiwork all over J.J. Cale's records. In any case, Gayden's one bad dude who can probably outplay just about anyone.
The signing event kicks off at 2:30 p.m., and it's free and open to the public. For those who hang around until 5 p.m., aka BEER:30, Chris Crofton and the Alcohol Stuntband will be over in Grimey's proper, ready to celebrate the release of THELEMA! once and for all.
Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. right here.
Now, if you so feel obliged, check out the band playing “Neighbor” from Acoustic at the Ryman:
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