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25 Years Ago Today: Johnny Cash gets a career boost with American Recordings

Johnny CashJohnny Cash’s 81st album brought new life to the classic country artist’s career. American Recordings was produced by Rick Rubin and included songs written by Glenn Danzig, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Waits; later albums in the series included Cash renditions of Beck, Tom Petty, Soundgarden, and Nine Inch Nails songs. Cash’s works with American were particularly popular with the alternative and college radio crowds.

Check out this amazing performance of “Bird on a Wire” from Jon Stewart’s pre-The Daily Show talk show.

Goodbye, Troy Gentry

(April 5, 1967 – September 8, 2017)

Country music singer Troy Gentry died today in a helicopter crash in New Jersey. The Montgomery-Gentry star was born in Lexington, and the duo was honored by the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

Goodbye, Merle Haggard

(April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016)

Country music icon Merle Haggard passed away today on his 79th birthday. He had been battling illnesses for quite some time, and cancelled several concerts recently due to bouts with pneumonia. I was going to see Haggard several years ago in Gatlinburg during a Duke of Hazzard fan festival, but he was forced to cancel that performance as well due to health issues. His brand of classic outlaw country will be sorely missed.

This is a reminder to enjoy our legends while they are still with us, and to take advantage of the opportunities you have to see them perform.

R.I.P. Little Jimmy Dickens

(December 19, 1920 – January 2, 2015)

Country music legend Little Jimmy Dickens passed away at the age of 94 on January 2.

The Charlie Daniels Band – Off The Grid: Doin’ It Dylan (2014)

Charlie Daniels Off the Grid Bob Dylan

The Charlie Daniels Band
Off The Grid: Doin’ It Dylan
Blue Hat Records, 2014
40 minutes

“The Devil Goes Down To Georgia” will always be Charlie Daneils’ calling card; nothing he releases will ever top the popularity and the timelessness of that song. When a fan digs deeper, though, there are so many other great songs in the repertoire of the Charlie Daniels Band, and more recordings keep adding to that legacy. On CDB’s newest release, Off The Grid: Doin’ It Dylan, tribute is paid to one of America’s greatest songwriters, the legendary Bob Dylan.

What may seem like a strange combination actually results in a fine record. Some songs work better than others in Charlie Daniels’ style; “Tangled Up In Blue” sounds as if it were written specifically for this record, whereas “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Times They Are A Changin’” both seem forced. The lesser-known songs just flow better than those that even Dylan’s non-fans recognize. “Country Pie,” which appeared on the bard’s quintessential country album Nashville Skyline, is a perfect fit for CDB; Daniels’ emotion on “Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall” is fantastic.

These songs will not replace any of Charlie Daniels’ classic seventies tracks on future “best of” compilations, but Dylan fans and Daniels fans both need to at least check out Off The Grid.

1. Tangled Up In Blue
2. Times They Are A Changin’
3. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
4. Gotta Serve Somebody
5. I Shall Be Released
6. Country Pie
7. Mr. Tambourine Man
8. Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall
9. Just Like A Woman
10. Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Learn more about The Charlie Daniels Band.

Purchase The Charlie Daniels Band – Off The Grid: Doin’ It Dylan.

R.I.P. Tompall Glaser

(September 3, 1933 – August 13, 2013)

An underrated country music performer, Tompall Glaser appeared on the popular Wanted! The Outlaws record with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Jessi Colter.

R.I.P. George Jones

(September 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013)

One of the greatest country music singers of all-time, George Jones passed away today at the age of 81. If I ranked my favorite country singers of all-time, “No Show” Jones would come in at #2, barely behind Waylon Jennings. He had a distinctive style and will be sorely missed.

Purchase George Jones music.

Photoset: 2013 Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (April 12, 2013 @ Lexington Center, Lexington, KY)

Hall of Fame class of 2013

Kentucky’s rich musical history was on full display Friday night in Lexington at the 2013 Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held in the Bluegrass Ballroom in the Lexington Center. Inducted were The Kentucky Headhunters, Exile, Linda Lou Martin and her late husband Emory Martin, Steven Curtis Chapman, The Hilltoppers, the late Skeeter Davis, and the late Old Joe Clark.

Chad Warrix and David Tolliver of Halfway to Hazard and their manager Josh J. Bliedt received the Danny R. Ford Distinguished Service Award for their work with Kentucky charities. Jackie DeShannon was honored with the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, presented to her by Miss Kentucky 2012, Jessica Casebolt. Halfway to Hazard provided pre- and post-show entertainment, and Keith Anderson joined them on stage during the post-show concert. Also in attendance were 2011 inductee Steve Wariner, 2006 inductee Sam Bush, and 2004 inductee Jerry Chestnut. Steven Curtis Chapman was unable to attend due to prior commitments.

Halfway to Hazard opened the ceremony with a stirring rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home.” Others who performed throughout the night included Jackie DeShannon, Donna Frost in tribute to the late Skeeter Davis, Emory and Linda Lou Martin’s granddaughter Alexandra with Old Joe Clark’s son Terry, The Western RedShirts in tribute to The Hilltoppers, Exile, and Kentucky Headhunters.

The honorees were visibly moved by induction, and even the surviving family members of those who have passed on displayed a deep appreciation for the recognition. Several fought back tears as they thanked both their fans and the board members of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. Terry Clark appeared on stage with Wayne Clark, the late Old Joe Clark’s brother; Skeeter Davis’ nephew accepted the honor on behalf of his late aunt; Roy Martin accompanied his mother Linda Lou to the stage and paid tribute to the late Emory Clark, also known as “The World’s Only One-Armed Banjo Player.”

Don McGuire of The Hilltoppers, a 1950s vocal pop group, provided plenty of laughs. “If you remember us, you’re deep into Medicare and far past menopause.” I had the pleasure of speaking to him before the ceremony and told him I was also a Western Kentucky University graduate. When I told him how many years it had been since I climbed the hills in Bowling Green, he laughed. “I have underwear older than that!”

Kentucky Headhunters showed their appreciation to their home state, saying, “We love Kentucky so much, we put it in our name.” Exile paid tribute to the late Jimmy Stokley and all other former members, two of whom were in attendance. The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame did a great job of putting together this sold-out ceremony, and all the performers showed the proper reverence for such an event.

Next time you find yourself in the Bluegrass State, be sure to visit the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.

Purchase music from the 2013 inductees:

Want to see some photographs? They’re all after the jump: Read the rest of this entry

R.I.P. Kitty Wells

(August 30, 1919 – July 16, 2012)

Fun Cards: 2012 “Taco Bell Softball” David Nail

Scoring a number one record on the country music charts tends to propel one into celebrity status. David Nail’s “Let It Rain” hit the top spot on the charts in January.

Country singer David Nail

Photo credit: Getty Images

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