Bobby Keys, longtime saxophonist for The Rolling Stones, has died. Michael Webb, keyboardist for Bobby Keys and the Suffering Bastards, confirmed Keys' death with the Scene, saying the legendary musician had been battling cancer and liver failure, and passed away at his home in Franklin early this morning. He was 70 years old.
A Texas native who’d lived in Middle Tennessee since the early ’90s, in addition to his 40-plus-year tenure with The Rolling Stones, Keys appeared on legendary recordings by John Lennon, Joe Cocker, Barbra Streisand, B.B. King, Carly Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others. More details to come.
As you know if you’ve been following along with Dave Grohl & Co.’s ongoing HBO series Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways, many of the artists playing this Independence Day soiree have been featured on the show: Guy in the Chicago episode, Trouble Funk in D.C. and Clark in Austin. The remaining episodes will focus on Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle and New York, and we can infer that those will feature Joan Jett, Trombone Shorty, Heart and LL Cool J, respectively. So, what about the Nashville ep?
You see, friends, about a decade ago I worked at the Country Music Hall of Fame here in beautiful Nashville, Tenn. I learned three things in that year I decided to quit college — 1. Young Merle Haggard was hot, 2. I was definitely going back to college, and 3. I do not like country music.
Country music, to me, is like a parallel universe. There are celebrities and money and millions of fans and it is, indeed, a very real thing, but it makes no sense at all. It’s like Canada or Bollywood, but right here in town! So without further whatever, here is my summary of the 48th Annual Country Music Awards, which aired on ABC from Bridgestone Arena (after the jump):
Surely you've heard the news: Taylor Swift has been named the new Global Welcome Ambassador of New York City, timing perfectly with the release of her new album, 1989, which opens with a track called "Welcome to New York." Is pop music ever not an advertisement these days? (Related: Read this great piece about pop music and advertising.)
Of course there's some backlash. What does Swift have to do with NYC? She was born in Pennsylvania, she grew up here in Tennessee and I've got a two-year-old MetroCard with $0.75 left on it that says she'll never step foot on the subway or even leave Manhattan without a camera crew urging her to do so. Does she know the politics of the city? Has she ever watched someone die in the East River? Is she going to do anything other than tell people to go to Times Square and shop at Target? Urinary tract infections have lasted longer than that woman has lived in the city!
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.
Anon sweet stallion, to the branches of the mighty oak where I might find sustenance!
They call me....Wild Nuts Hickok.....
With regards to Ida, they have a few songs that I always put in my…
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Well, they said they wanted it stuffed and mounted.