There’s a lot of heavy political and social context to this tragic event, especially in a case with such nuance. But that’s where music can be so powerful. Music’s role has ultimately always been to relate to the human experience, and Nashville artist Nate the Great has managed to do just that with a new single he dropped in our inboxes earlier today. It’s called “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” Here’s an excerpt from the message he relayed to us:
With the recent string of police killings of unarmed Black men, there is an obvious need for a movement for all people to stand behind. As you know Hip-Hop has always been used to speak on behalf of our community. I present you with a song that we feel passionately and vividly sheds light on these situations from the victim's point of view.
On “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” — which you can hear after the jump or download via Soundcloud — Nate the Great paints a vivid and captivating picture of an unnamed narrator who is tragically gunned down at a gas station, while also shedding insight on some of the social issues that have brought us to this point. But more than anything else, Nate tells a very human story, one that resonates deeper than “black vs. white” or “us vs. them.” He tells a story that aims at what’s really at stake here if we allow our local law enforcement to continue to operate this way: our very humanity.
And oh hey, this is cool: According to IMDB, longtime Nashvillian Rodney Crowell — very much a noted songwriter in his own right — is attached as executive music producer, with Carter Little signed on as music supervisor. Little's CV as music supervisor also includes The Man With the Iron Fists (a film for which The Black Keys and RZA collaborated on a song). Colin Escott's Hank Williams: The Biography is cited as the source material for I Saw the Light, with Marc Abraham (who produced Dawn of the Dead, Children of Men, The Hurricane, Bring It On and dozens of other pictures) listed as both screenwriter and director.
And apparently, Crowell and Hiddleston have already been working on getting the Brit's vocals just right. "[Crowell] came down to visit me over the Easter weekend in Toronto where I was filming Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Pea and we jammed for a day or so," Hiddleston tells The Daily Mail. It was so exciting. ... It was spine-tingling just to spend a day playing some of Hank's greatest hits like "Hey Good Lookin’" and "Long Gone Lonesome Blues" with such a gifted musician. He's already expanded my vocal range and given me a few pointers about adapting my own tone to sound like Hank. Rodney has furnished me with his beautiful J45 Gibson to practice with. And he'll be on hand throughout the shoot."
The Mail also reports that shooting will begin in October in Louisiana. We've dropped a line to the Tennessee Film Commission to find out if any filming will take place here in Music City as well, but haven't heard back yet.* So, thoughts? Will Hiddleston, Crowell and Abraham do ol' Hank justice? Williams' grandson, Sheldon "Hank III" Williams, has said that he would have preferred an American (like Matthew McConaughey, for instance) to play his grandpa.
* Update: The Tennessee Film Commission tells us that if I Saw the Light is shooting here, they aren't aware of it.
Remember last year when Comedy Central's often-uproarious Drunk History told the story of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton? Good stuff. Well, great news for fans of watching comedians enact historical stories as told by inebriated people: Last night Drunk History, now in its second season, aired an episode entirely devoted to American music.
The episode was presented in three acts: the always brilliantly absurd David Wain telling the story of DJ Alan Freed, who is credited with popularizing the term "rock and roll" and bringing black music to white kids; Colton Dunn recounting the tale of how Sylvia Robinson orchestrated the commercial birth of hip-hop; and Eric Edelstein talking about Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson's first meeting and the writing of Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down." In the latter segment, Edelstein generally does Cash (portrayed by Johnny Knoxville) and Kristofferson (portrayed by Jon Daly, who is also responsible for the hilarious "Abracadabralifornia") justice, hitting all the Nashville-lore high points: Kristofferson being a janitor at Columbia Studios when he met Cash, the fable-y but semi-true bit about Kristofferson landing his helicopter in Cash's yard, Cash playing "Sunday Morning Coming Down" on The Johnny Cash Show and saying "stoned" despite the censors not digging it.
Anyway, you can see a brief clip of the Cash/Kristofferson segment above, or click over to Comedy Central's website to watch the entire episode (so long as you have an account with one of the listed TV providers). Head after the jump to see two more bits from last night's episode.
If you managed to catch last night’s CMT Awards 2014 broadcast, you already know that the curveball-laden, genre-clashing, choreography-rife conflation of red-dirt rockers ZZ Top, bro-y hickin’ hoppin’ trio Florida Georgia Line + Luke Bryan and R&B trap-rapper Jason Derulo that opened the show was really … something. Attacks on the greater aesthetic tenets of all music aside, one thing I noticed while watching ZZ Top’s truncated take on “La Grange” was that the legendary blues rock trio’s longtime drummer Frank Beard (the one without a beard) was conspicuously absent.
Filling in was famed sideman and session vet Kenny Aronoff, who’s best known for his work with John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, Melissa Etheridge, Smashing Pumpkins and many others. He gave the world this killer drum break.*
So what’s the deal? Did ZZ Top sack Frank Beard? Did he leave the band? Was he sidelined by illness or something? Did he take one whiff of Florida Georgia Line’s pomade and say, “You know what, FUCK THIS”? Did The Little Ol’ Band from Texas just get a little smaller for good? A bit of Web sleuthing hasn’t yielded any answers, but the band’s publicist Bob Merlis tells the Cream he “think[s] it was just a one-off for last night” and is working to confirm said circumstances. We’ll keep you posted.
Update: Merlis was able to confirm that the CMT Awards appearance was in fact a one-off, as Beard had "personal/family obligations" and was unable to make the gig. Merlis assures us that "ZZ Top is still the same three guys (and the same three chords) as always. They're all off to Europe, as this is written, for a month of concerts and festival appearances there. Including Frank."
* The drummer filling in for ZZ Top was not Kenny Aronoff, as we stated, but rather Florida Georgia Line drummer and Aronoff doppelganger Sean Fuller. We apologize for the error.
The two collided Sunday when Brad Paisley took a sec to post a selfie taken in front of the otherwise un-newsworthy protest by the WBC outside his concert in Bonner Springs, Kan. It wasn’t a very far drive for the Topeka-based congregation and was well worth the effort, considering Paisley has approximately 2.72 million Twitter followers. Westboro Baptist is currently trending in news feeds and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and while we didn't reach out to them for comment, I can only imagine they’re pretty fucking stoked about it. One WBC member is smiling ear-to-ear in the photo.
Considering the church made signs that condemned Paisley’s thumbs-up to alcoholic beverages and general sinnin’, it stands to reason that his personal beliefs do not align with those of Westboro. In fact, he came up with the pretty terrible pun “west-Burro(ass)” to illustrate his disapproval. Hook, line and sinker, Paisley took the hate bait and did the notoriously controversial church an invaluable courtesy by handing them another headline.
The Westboro Baptist Church — whose crackpot founder, Fred Phelps, kicked the bucket in March — has protested concerts by Taylor Swift, One Direction, Lorde, Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters (the last one was also immortalized as viral gold) and, of course, Vince Gill. We all recall Gill referring to one WBC member as a "dipshit."
Back in December, we reported that Rolling Stone had plans to launch a Nashville-based country site "in the second quarter of 2014." Well hey, guess what quarter of 2014 it is!
Today, RS debuted Rolling Stone Country, which you can find at this link (conveniently, rollingstone[dot]com[slash]country). They've already got some brand-new content, from Will Hermes' review of Miranda Lambert's Platinum (out tomorrow) to Melinda Newman's interview with Keith Urban, a from-the-vault Dolly Parton feature, a "100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time" listicle and more. If you've got a taste for modern twang, flip over and click around. Just promise your old pals at the Cream you'll come back when you're through.
Rolling Stone also notes that "the magazine will release its first-ever country issue, on stands June 6" to commemorate the launch of RS Country.
A post from Classic Rock Magazine sheds a little more light on where some of that footage may turn up: HBO, the cable network that brought you The Wire, Game of Thrones and True Detective, will air a series focused on recording hosted by Grohl; he'll record in each studio, and chat with musicians who've recorded there before. The article names several studios to be featured, namely Don Zientara's Inner Ear Studios in DC (Fugazi, Bad Brains, Half Japanese), Steve Albini's Electrical Audio in Chicago (Nirvana's In Utero and dozens more), and Dave Catching's Rancho de la Luna near Joshua Tree, Calif. (desert hideaway favored by Queens of The Stone Age), as well as some of the musicians interviewed, including Fugazi's Ian MacKaye, Heart's Nancy Wilson and Joe Walsh (aka The Coolest Eagle).
The Cream reached out to the folks over at Southern Ground Nashville, who were able to confirm that footage for the series was shot at the century-old facility — home to sessions by Kris Kristofferson, Neil Young and more during its several lives post-Addison Avenue Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It's too early to know for sure what will be included or when it will air (the show is expected to be part of the winter programming block), but if you have an interest in records and recording — and I'm willing to bet my drink tickets many of you do — keep an eagle eye trained on your TV listings.
I'm kidding. Of course you've heard. As a matter of fact, you wouldn't even necessarily need Internet access or a television to know about the Keys' Turn Blue, out yesterday via Nonesuch Records. They have at least one billboard up in town advertising the record — I saw one just before the Shelby Street exit by I-24 East, but I'd bet there are more.
But anyway. The Black Keys played Saturday Night Live. And Letterman. They even talked a little bit about that mildly brutal Pitchfork review and Jerry Garcia looking (or not looking) like Santa on Colbert. You already know about their private show at Mercy Lounge in a couple of weeks and their Bridgestone show in December. But if your thirst for the former Ohioans' newly dark but generally poppy fare is somehow still not quenched, follow me after the jump to watch a bunch of their recent late-night-TV performances: chatting and playing "Fever" (and the Web-exclusive "Turn Blue") on The Colbert Report, playing "Bullet in the Brain" and "Fever" on Saturday Night Live, and playing a full set for Live on Letterman.
Well, after a whole lot of reporting and clarifying from the bloggerati, Third Man Records announced the details surrounding Neil Young's forthcoming TMR release, A Letter Home. The record — made up entirely of covers recorded by Young in TMR's neat, refurbished 1947 Voice-O-Graph machine — will be available as "a CD, digital album and a Limited Edition Deluxe Box Set" May 27.
In support of the record, Young and White brought the Voice-O-Graph booth to last night's episode of The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon — I mean, they literally carted the damn thing up to New York City (which explains why Third Man was recently all, "No booth for you, sorry"). Above you'll find White and Young's interview with Fallon, wherein they discuss Fallon's Neil impression, Neil makes a decent but under-appreciated joke about his hair, they show off the very fancy deluxe A Letter Home packaging (I've seen it in the flesh and can attest to the fact that it is painstakingly assembled), and Young talks a little bit about why he chose the covers he did for the record. Scoot on after the jump to watch the dynamic duo talk about the Voice-O-Graph and to see Young play two songs from the record: Willie Nelson's iconic "Crazy" and Ivory Joe Hunter's "Since I Met You Baby," the latter of which is a Web exclusive that Young plays on piano. Too bad he didn't play "Needle of Death" again, but both performances are pretty rad. Pre-order A Letter Home here.
Also, I know they're kidding about having Louis CK do two minutes of stand-up in the booth, but I'd probably pay to hear that.
Earlier today, the AMA announced the nominees for this year's awards, which will go down Sept. 17 at the Ryman as part of the Americana Music Fest and will be hosted by the ubiquitous Jim Lauderdale. It's a broad assortment, but Music City is up in the mix big time. Jason Isbell and Robert Ellis are both nominated for Album of the Year, Artist of the Year and Song of the Year. Rodney Crowell and his ex-wife, Rosanne Cash, are both up for Artist of the Year, while Hard Working Americans are nominated for Duo/Group of the Year, and Sturgill Simpson (whose "Live in the Morgue" performance we debuted today) is up for Emerging Act of the Year. Nominees for Instrumentalist of the Year include Nashville's own Fats Kaplin, Buddy Miller (who will also lead the All-Star Band at the ceremony) and Bryan Sutton; they're up against Larry Campbell.
Venture after the jump to see all of the nominations. Tickets to this year's Americana Music Fest are available here.
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