Music Lessons 

Teaching a couple here and there

Teaching a couple here and there

Maybe Lisa Brokop’s record label fumbled the ball. Maybe she did. Maybe it was just bad timing. Or perhaps radio and the public simply didn’t like the Brokop songs they were permitted to hear. Whatever the reasons, Brokop and Capitol Nashville have now parted ways after the Canadian singer’s first two albums failed to catch fire.

Although Brokop’s anemic chart achievements were there for all to read, her departure still comes as something of a surprise. Everyone acknowledges that she is an uncannily talented vocal stylist. She is young—only 23—and fully as photogenic as these harsh times demand. Some of her singles have been mind-melting in their honesty and directness, particularly “She Can’t Save Him,” which chronicles the no-win situation of living with an alcoholic. On the strength of her first album, Country America magazine picked her as one of its “Top Ten Most Likely to Succeed” in 1994. Since then, she has opened shows for George Strait, Alan Jackson, John Michael Montgomery, and John Berry. Early this month, Capitol released another of Brokop’s music videos, “West of Crazy,” which is usually a sign that another push for prominence is in the offing.

The pity about all this—over and above the pain it will cause the artist and her champions—is that a lot of good music may be buried forever. Brokop’s debut album, cloyingly titled Every Little Girl’s Dream, boasts the almost unbearably wistful “Never Did Say Goodbye”; and Lisa Brokop, her follow-up collection, holds such hidden treasures as the grief-stricken “Now That We’re Not a Family,” as well as her tender duet with Steve Wariner, “At the End of the Day.” It is heartbreaking to think these songs might never surface again, particularly when they have been done with such taste and conviction. Of course, there is a bright spot: If Brokop scores big with another record company—as she may well do—then you can expect Capitol Nashville to rerelease virtually everything she cut for the label. That’s the way of the record business. Certainly, Capitol deserves our thanks for spotting Brokop’s talent and nourishing it for three years. A lot of us liked what we heard.

Viewed from the outside, there is nothing sinister or venal about this breakup. Similar ones occur all the time. In a way, that makes the split all the more unsettling—for it confirms the truly disturbing reality that sometimes fine art and great effort alone just aren’t enough.

Currents

♦ Several top country acts will lend their voices to a tribute album to Hank Thompson tentatively set for release in mid-1997. So far, Vince Gill, Junior Brown, and Becca Bramlett have recorded for the collection, and Brooks & Dunn and George Jones are scheduled to make their musical contributions early in November. The project, which has not yet found a record label, is being produced by MBB Productions of Dallas. Thompson and Bill Millett are the album’s coproducers. Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989, Thompson was a chart-dweller from 1948, when he first hit with “Humpty Dumpty Heart,” to 1983, when he scored with “Once in a Blue Moon.” His signature hit came in 1952 with “The Wild Side of Life,” which went to No. 1 and stayed there for 15 weeks. In all, the western-swinging honky-tonker lodged 79 singles on the charts. Additional details are available at (214) 807-5273.

♦ Country Radio Seminar (CRS), the annual conclave of country music pros and country radio programmers, will relocate from its traditional site at the Opryland Hotel to the Nashville Convention Center downtown in 1998 and 1999. The move will give convention-goers a greater choice of hotels and provide them with a greater variety of evening activities than the Opryland Hotel affords. The move will not mean a total loss to Gaylord Entertainment Co., the Opryland Hotel’s owner, since Gaylord also owns many downtown attractions, including the Wildhorse Saloon and the Ryman Auditorium.

Next year’s CRS, however, is still set for Mar. 5-8 at the Opryland Hotel. Its official theme is “Winning Through Learning: How to Keep Country Strong.” Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz has been tapped as the event’s keynote speaker.

♦ Capitol Nashville is giving George Ducas’ “Every Time She Passes By” another shot at radio. Released this summer and accompanied by a nicely whimsical music video, the single stayed on the charts for 10 weeks. But it rose only to No. 57. A statement from the label says the song got trampled by a crowd of other Capitol Nashville singles that were unleashed at about the same time. The song gets its second shot next week, and the rerelease ploy just might work. In 1985, Warner Bros. released Randy Travis’ “On the Other Hand” and watched it fizzle out at No. 67. About eight months later, the label tried the single again, and it went to No. 1. Ducas’ second album, Where I Stand, will be out in January.

♦ Vince Gill will undertake his first ever Christmas tour Dec. 4-15 with an 11-city swing through the Midwest. Gill will open each show with a 30-minute acoustic set and conclude it with a 90-minute segment in which he performs with each city’s local orchestra. Michael Omartian will accompany Gill on the tour as orchestra conductor and pianist. A special Christmas stage setting has been designed for the tour.

♦ The wives of Kix Brooks, George Jones, and Jeff Foxworthy will be featured on the second edition of Soulmates. The cozy hour-long show, produced by Patsy Bruce Productions, will air on TNN Nov. 6. Terri Merryman serves as interviewer. Of particular interest is Nancy Jones’ story of how she reunited George Jones and Tammy Wynette for last year’s One album and tour.

♦ Speaking of TNN, the network will return reruns of Hee Haw to its weekly programming beginning Nov. 16. Although the series perpetuated every rube stereotype the country music industry ever tried to jettison, it still provided some inspired music. And, let’s just admit it, some of the jokes were funny.

♦ Bill Monroe enthusiasts can catch his final recordings on Billy & Terry Smith’s Bill Monroe tribute album on K-Tel. A longtime friend and mentor to the Smith brothers, Monroe went into the studio with them on Feb. 21, 1996; he played mandolin on three tracks and sang lead and harmony on two. His labored but valiant rendering of “Blue Moon of Kentucky” is immensely touching.

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