Experience a Willie Nelson Album: Moment of Forever

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Willie Nelson's latest album hits stores today titled "Moment of Forever." I don't there is any other artist in country music that is so interesting to listen to, and must say enjoyable. His recordings are deeply inset in country with so many different influences. Traditional to the core country, reggae, blues, jazz, you name it, Nelson's musical communication will be influenced by it. His musical communication doesn't just come in vocal presentation but rather in the form of songwriting as well. The new album includes 1 co-write and 2 writing credits of the 13.

I was wondering how many albums has Willie Nelson recorded in his lifetime. I'm not real sure if there is a solid count out there. I counted just over 90 albums off of allmusic.com that he has recorded, not including the compilation albums that have been released. BMI has 340 entries for songwriting credits for him.

The topics change (somewhat,) the quality of recordings have greatly improved through the years, but there is always a constant from the very first album Nelson recorded to the newest released today...the overwhelming talent that Nelson has for song selection. A master of music, beyond conception.

"Moments of Forever" continues Nelson's truly awesome dedication to country music. Continuing to be sure the highest level of excellence is achieved through song selection. A good song writer plays into the equation for him very highly, I'm sure. Just on this album, a quick glance I see producer Buddy Cannon, Guy Clark, Gary Nicholson, Lee Roy Parnell, Big Kenny, and Randy Newman. Also, Kris Kristofferson's "Moment of Forever," Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" and Dave Mathews' "Gravedigger."

The co-producer and duet partner on this album may surprise you a little, but, if you know Nelson's music just a little, nothing would surprise you. Kenny Chesney. The single is well, perfection. "Worry B Gone," well I'm sure just with a little knowledge of Nelson you may be able to figure out the topic at hand.

If you haven't ever experienced a Willie Nelson album, I don't mean just a song or two or a greatest hits collection, but a true album, I hope that you give yourself that gift. You will laugh, you will start to think deeply and maybe cry, but after the experience of a Willie Nelson album like this newest one, you will have the highest appreciation for the artistic work of Willie Nelson.

John Rich To Release Solo Album

Sunday, January 27, 2008

“If anyone knows me, they know I’m always writing music,” said Rich. “When
we decided to take this year off so Kenny could focus on rehabilitation for a
pre-existing injury, I asked Kenny if he was cool with me recording a solo
project. I would only do this with Kenny’s blessing. So, this year you can
expect a solo record from me, but Big & Rich will be back in 2009!"

If you have followed my writings through the years, you probably have a good feeling I'm not the biggest fan of Big & Rich as a group. Not because the duo isn't talented, but rather just not a fan of the music mafia sound. I am more of a new traditionalist and traditional country music.

However, a new solo project from John Rich excites me. Rich is an amazing songwriter and artist. He has won the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He is the only artist to receive the award three years consecutively. That's saying a lot.

Warner Brothers is only saying it will be released sometime this year, hopefully the wait won't be too long. Of course, I will keep you updated.

Rhonda Vincent "Good Thing Going"

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rhonda Vincent
“Good Thing Going”
Rounder Records
Release Date: January 8, 2008

**note: visit the amazon.com link above to listen to clips, buy in album or MP3 format, and to watch a very nice video about the making of the album**

Country music fans and I mean real country music fans have to really dig hard to find what they are looking to hear these days. Honestly, with the exception of a few artists, traditional country music is endangered. However, we are in luck looking in other sister-styles of music such as contemporary bluegrass. To get that sound, that is where I turn, and Rhonda Vincent’s newest release “Good Thing Going” is a great example.

Vincent’s lengthy career has showcased her talented vocals and furthermore the detailed attention given to the highest quality of instrumentation in each musical project she displays her name on. “Good Thing Going” is a continued example of this signature trademark of Vincent. From the first note to the very last, there is no doubt of the artist you are enjoying.

The album begins with a very nice instrument-filled tune called “I’m Leavin” that showcases Vincent’s wonderful bluegrass vocals and has you yearning to even more. Trust me, there is much more on this album that continues that urge, like the title track that is upmost entertaining to listen to.

What really sparked my interest in this project is reading the album notes and how so closely Vincent’s bluegrass style of music compliments country music’s emphasis on real-to-life lyrical strength. Each song has its own story and background to it. Writing is so very important, and this album highlights this importance very nicely.

Oh yes, I must mention that Vincent does get a Martha White song into the album, just have to love it.

This album does have a few surprises.

III Tyme Out’s Russell Moore lends his vocal talent to “I Give All My Love To You” which is a beautiful song written wedding day song, co-written by Vincent, Herb Sandker, and Tensel Sandker, that was written for Vincent’s fan club president and webmaster. The only word comes to mind is beautiful, in lyricals, vocals, and instrumentation. Jesse McReynolds lends his mandolin expertise to the Jim & Jesse tune “Just One of a Kind,” and Keith Urban lends his vocals on the Irish traditional song “The Water is Wide.”

This indeed is a musical masterpiece for all fans of music, just another accolade of Vincent’s incredible talent that, in certain musical discussions may be overlooked. Vincent certainly has a “Good Thing Going” and I am assured that it will continue.

Overall Grade: A+
For more information on Rhonda Vincent, visit http://www.nemr.net/~rhondav/

Blog Update

My apologies to all my readers for the delay in posting. First a bit of writer's block set in and then when I was ready to write, my computer decided to get sick with a nasty virus. I wish to thank the developer of the program called ComboFix for a program that was a true lifesaver.

And now, back to the blog....

Slow January...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

January is such a slow month. Really can't find anything interesting to write about. Goodness, I mean there a few news things like Faith Hill is recovering knee surgery, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman are expecting and they squashed the rumors they were moving away from Nashville, found a brief interview from Joe Nichols, but nothing in it really worth talking about. Oh yes, and Taylor Swift still sits at #1 on the album and singles chart.

I'm sure I will do some more digging and find somethings to post, no doubt it never gets dull reading the news from the country music world.

So, whats on your mind in the country music industry? What a great time to post over on the message board or something... visit the main website countrymusicalive.com and get something started.

Until tomorrow

Jim McGuire Photography at Art Museum of Western Virginia

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wow, boy do I need to get to Roanoke, VA before March 23. Starting the 18th of this month, The Art Museum of Western Virginia will be having a photo display from Jim McGuire. His photographic work is amazing, to say the least. Any well done black and white photos you've seen lately of artists were probably photographed by McGuire. Some of the most enjoyed album covers have also been photographed by him. He is one of those artists that is finally getting his name known to the general country music listener...

I hope you will take a few moments at very least scroll through his work on his website..

Take a special look at all the covers and his Nashville Portrait section... A really enjoyable virtual visit.

Randy Owen's New Single

Friday, January 11, 2008

As a follow-up to yesterday's blog entry, I found a story on Randy Owen. We know how much support he has given to St. Jude Children's Hospital through the years, and continues to be extremely involved.

Here is another example.

“Braid My Hair” will be Randy Owens' debut solo single, and will be released on January 21st. 100% of all proceeds from the publishing proceeds will go to St. Jude's.

Learn more about the single on www.randyowen.com

Alabama "The Last Stand"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In 2003, Alabama was on tour for the final time as a group. After all the great years of touring. I hope each of you had the chance to see them live, especially on their final farewell to America. I sure did, it was the show in Northern Virginia at the Nissan Pavilion. A buddy of mine share stories about that show still today, even though it was only a few years ago.

On the way home from the enjoyable evening, I told him to not be surprised that the live show became a CD one day. It took a bit of time, but now, "The Last Stand" is available exclusively from The Cracker Barrel.

If you didn't get to see the tour, this album is a great way to get at least a small glimpse into what it had to offer. 12 live tracks focus on some of the greatest songs Alabama ever recorded, with that special live sound. Some have longer introductions and endings, a few songs make mention of the city they were in at the time (Cleveland, OH and Tupelo, MS,) and some sound a bit more acoustic than original recordings. This live album is much more polished and just rings something more special to it than Alabama's previous live album in the 90's.

This collection is a must for any country music fan. Alabama last tour is now on CD for those of that were in the audience for the tour and for those that weren't to experience it.

This CD is available exclusively from The Cracker Barrel, in the restaurants or online.

Track List:
Here We Are
Old Flame
High Cotton
If You're Gonna Play In Texas
The Cheap Seats
Pass It On Down
The Closer You Get
Give Me One More Shot
Feels So Right
Jukebox In My Mind
Forty Hour Week
The Fans

Ken Nelson Dies...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Unfortunately, the death of Ken Nelson won't make many news sites and probably just a few country music news sites. Hall of Fame Member since 2001, Nelson was the backbone to the Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Ferlin Husky, Jean Shepard, Tommy Collins, Wanda Jackson, Wynn Stewart, Hank Thompson, The Louvin Brothers, and Jerry Reed that he produced.

Nelson retired in 1976, but the music he produced to this day continues to influence the artists of today. The West Coast Country Music and the Bakersfield sound is such an important part of country music and his influence of production of such sound will ever continue.

Nelson also served twice as the President of the CMA.

Though I have not read it, he did write a autobiography that was released in March of 2007 that I am now wanting to read it to learn even more about this icon. It is certainly on my list of reads in his memory...

How Great Thou Art: Gospel Favorites From The Grand Ole Opry

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Now this sounds like a great country music television special and album...

In conjunction with the album release of "How Great Thou Art: Gospel Favorites From The Grand Ole Opry," GAC will air a special television special on February 9, 2008. Scheduled to appear include Carrie Underwood, Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Charlie Daniels Band, Sara Evans, Loretta Lynn and Ronnie Milsap. Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites will be apart of the airing in pre-taped performances.

The special will be taped at the Grand Ole Opry House on January 20 and tickets are on sale now for $15. The proceeds go to the Opry Trust Fund. If you buy tickets for Opry shows in January or February, you can pickup this ticket for $5. Not bad deal at all.
The CD How Great Thou Art: Gospel Favorites Live From The Grand Ole Opry will be released on February 5, 2008 on RCA Records.

1. I'll Fly Away - Charlie Daniels Band/Mac Powell

2. Blessed Assurance - Alan Jackson

3. Precious Memories - Patty Loveless

4. Precious Lord, Take My Hand - Ronnie Milsap

5. Family Bible - Ricky Skaggs/The Whites

6. Just A Closer Walk With Thee - Sara Evans

7. The Old Rugged Cross - Brad Paisley

8. Wayfaring Stranger - Trace Adkins

9. Where No One Stands Alone - Loretta Lynn

10. Give Me Jesus - Vince Gill

11. A House Of Gold - Dierks Bentley

12. How Great Thou Art - Carrie Underwood

Now, this is an album to get excited about, I can't wait to hear this one. Something special comes about from gospel recordings from country music artists. I believe it has a lot to do with believing in what they are singing.

Website Changes Coming!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

It won't be a quick process, but hopefully in the next month or so, Country Music Alive is planning some new exciting features to the website. Though many of you read this blog, Country Music Alive is much bigger than just these posts.

Country Music Alive is a full featured website offering lots of information such as album reviews, new release dates, and other special features. I also provide some special articles and other fun features on the site. The site does have a few problems right now, that I am in the process of fixing, the menu doesn't work. I will be working on that this week.

The new Fan Assistance Program is something very special on the website. If you are new to country music or want to learn even more, visit this link: http://countrymusicalive.com/newfan/cover.html
You will learn about this special service that will help you learn so much about country music, on a personal level.

Coming in the next few months, I will start a podcast. I am also planning to give re-birth to a newsletter. I need you help! E-mail me at ideas@countrymusicalive.com with your suggestions on what you would like to see included in a weekly podcast and a monthly downloadable pdf style newsletter. Let me hear from you! I am excited about these projects. It may take a little time to get it up and running, but I really want to bring these features to you.

Media Outlook Not Right on Music Sales

Friday, January 04, 2008

I've read now for a few days that album sales were down in 2007, making it sound like the music industry took a hard financial hit in the year. They aren't telling the full story. No longer are album sales the only form for sales in the music industry. Albums, digital single downloads, digital album downloads, dgital video downloads, ringtones... ok you get the point.

With a little research through a few news articles, here is the real deal.

2007 was an awesome year for music, with total sales up 14%, a 1.35 billion dollar industry. The album numbers did fall drastically, but thats due to the other sales of digital formats going up.

The headline on the article January 4, 2008 New York Times reads: "U.S. Album Sales Fell 9.5%"... the article should read: Music "Sales Up 14%, Albums down 9.5%"

Country Music's Best 2007 and Predictions

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Highest impacting female of the year really is a tie. I thought about which of the two females had something above the other. I couldn't come up with it, so Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift I believe were the best of 2007. Both females really have had such a great impact on country music in the past year. Rodney Atkins by far is my pick of the best of 2007 male artists. The past year of groups really haven't excited me, however Sugarland probably has the highest impact.

In the upcoming year, I believe that CD sales were been even lower than ever, worse than this year and Internet piracy will yet again be a hot topic. There is also the XM and Sirius merger that seems to be pretty much going to be approved. This may be the biggest news story to follow in the upcoming year with how they will be even more of an impact in music.

Country music specifically I predict even more surprises from Garth Brooks. I believe this year was just a preview of whats to come, even considering his comments throughout the year. Will this be the final year or at least some indication of George Strait retiring? It just may be the year.

I also believe that this year upcoming is going to be a big one for country music as a whole. Someone, somehow is gong to make such a splash that it will be bringing country music to the forefront of some music listeners that haven't listened to country music before.

In the upcoming year, I also think it just may be the year the country radio will be in all the radio markets, the rumors have been heard, and New York City get ready for country.

Some of my wishes for the new year are that the major labels take note of what the small independent labels are doing. Let the artists have the freedom to make their music the way they know their listeners are wanting, rather what the label thinks will sell or be marketable, I bet it will make more money. Also, I hope and wish for a way that the artwork and full package of a CD can be integrated with digital downloads. I'm not talking about just adding videos or something. I hope to see a downloadable album package; all the songs on an album, artwork, lyrics, artist comments, and most of all the credits to be sure everyone that makes the CD gets their name mentioned in the creation process.

We are into 2008, lets make it a great year for country music.