Web Round-Up

• • • • Today’s (8/17) announcement of the 2011 IBMA Award Nominees will be streamed live at www.MusicCityRoots.com and will air on Sirius XM’s Bluegrass Junction. The announcement will take place at The Loveless Barn at 5:00 p.m. CT with hosts Doyle Lawson, Russell Moore, Josh Williams and Sierra Hull, who will follow that with performances at Music City Roots at 7:00 p.m.
• • • • Billboard reports layoffs at Sony’s New York office. About 25 people exited yesterday, and more cuts are expected as new chief Doug Morris settles in at the company.
• • • • Nashville’s new music venue will be called Marathon Music Works.
• • • • The LA Times has been checking out concerts by Toby Keith and Eric Church, and Wanda Jackson with Adele.
• • • • NPR’s Ann Powers gives an insightful take on country’s rising stars.

…in Nashville this year, where most of the best-selling artists are neo-traditionalists who seamlessly integrate current styles and attitudes into classic approaches. Of this year’s best-selling artists, three are relatively young country acts coming into their own on their third or fourth albums. Aldean is the exemplar of an updated take on rural roughneck that treats melding rap, hard rock and outlaw country like it’s no big thing. Church writes drinking songs that celebrate debauchery and mourn its aftermath in equal measure, in a style that embraces bad jokes and psychological depth. Blake Shelton, the best-groomed and most accessible of the bunch, is a good/bad boy whose Red River Blue album melds contemporary Christian ballads with swaggering sexiness. This new guard isn’t changing country so much as making the genre comfortable with the cultural shifts that have inevitably affected even the most traditional aspects of people’s lives.


RCA Inks Love And Theft

RCA Nashville has signed Love and Theft. The country duo, made up of Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles, is busy working on a new album.
Lyric Street Records, which is now closed, released the band’s debut album World Wide Open, containing the 2009 hit “Runaway.”

Pictured L-R: Standing: Keith Gale (VP, National Promotion, RCA Nashville), Norbert Nix (National Director, Promotion, RCA Nashville), Jim Catino (VP, A&R Sony Music Nashville). Seated: Gary Overton (Chairman and CEO, Sony Music Nashville), Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles.

Hall of Fame Hosts Connie Smith Residency


 
Connie Smith Residency: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is prepping its 2011 Artist-in-Residence series with Connie Smith. She’ll be joined onstage at the Ford Theater by some of her favorite collaborators for the intimate performances, taking place Monday nights Aug. 22, Aug. 29 and Sept. 12. Event tickets can be purchased by Museum members for $35 per show, or by the general public for $45 per show at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or the Museum box office.
 
All For The Hall LA: Individual balcony seats for the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s All for the Hall Los Angeles fundraiser, taking place Tues., Sept. 13, at L.A. LIVE’s Club Nokia, will go on sale to the public Sat., Aug. 20. Tickets start at $65 at www.ticketmaster.com. The “guitar pull” will feature performances by Zac Brown, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris.

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum welcomed its four millionth visitor on Tuesday (8/16): Jerry and Wilma Van Der Veer, from Christiansburg, WV received a prize package including free admission, and a $250 gift certificate for the Museum Store, Two Twenty-Two Grill and Hatch Show Print. Pictured (L-R): Senior Director of Marketing Jeff Schwartzenberg, Jerry and Wilma Van Der Veer and Director of Sales and Service Suzanne Tolbert. Photo: Michael Manning

DISClaimer Single Reviews (8/17/11)

We sometimes forget that the Americana field has more than its share of name-brand stars.
Amid the hundreds of unclassifiable, and usually forgettable, acts who populate this genre are a number of folks who are justifiably famous throughout the music world. In recent country columns, we have noted the new releases by Emmylou Harris, Michael Martin Murphey, Ricky Skaggs, Gene Watson & Rhonda Vincent, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Kasey Chambers and Buddy Miller, all of whom fit comfortably under the Americana umbrella.
Today, we have such stellar contributors as Steve Earle, Jakob Dylan, The Avett Brothers and Gillian Welch on our desk. Our Disc of the Day goes to someone who should be just as well known as they are, Sugar Hill’s Sarah Jarosz.
The DisCovery Award goes not to a person, but to a thing. It is a highly inventive, home-grown Nashville concept album called The 1861 Project.
GILLIAN WELCH/The Way It Goes
Writer: Welch/Rawlings; Producer: David Rawlings; Publisher: Acony/Do Write/3rd Revision/Bug, BMI; Acony (track)
—If Gillian’s music on her new The Harrow & The Harvest CD had a color, it would be sepia. On this track, as throughout, her guitar intertwines delicately with David Rawlings’ instrument. The fatalistic/nonsense lyric is given a typically dry reading with David drawling harmony on the title phrase. The whole collection is somewhat same-y sounding, but their groove is so hypnotic that it really doesn’t matter.
PATTY GRIFFIN/I Love
Writer: Tom T. Hall; Producer: Peter Cooper & Eric Brace; Publisher: Sony, BMI; Red Beet/CMF (track) (www.songsoffoxhollow.com)
—The tribute CD I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow begins with Patty’s luminous rendition of the songwriter’s most famous “children’s” song. Lloyd Green’s steel guitar sighs sympathetically behind her. Elsewhere on the album, Buddy Miller gets to do a delightful “Sneaky Snake.” Bobby Bare sings “I Care.” Jim Lauderdale essays “I Like to Feel Pretty Inside.” Tom T., himself, drops by to help Fayssoux Starling McLean perform the set’s one new song, “I Made a Friend of a Flower Today.” Ditties such as “Everybody Loves to Hear a Bird Sing,” “The Song of the One-Legged Chicken,” “How to Talk to a Little Baby Goat” and “I Wish I Had a Million Friends” are recommended for children of all ages.
MINTON SPARKS/Her Purse
Writer: Minton Sparks/John Jackson; Producer: Brandon Bell & Kristin Tschida; Publisher: Mountain Sparks, ASCAP; Mountain Sparks (track)
—Minton Sparks is arguably Nashville’s most creative entertainer. She inhabits the character of a middle-aged Southern lady. Her pieces are spoken, with John Jackson’s guitar providing audio coloring. She always carries a pocketbook on stage, so beginning her current CD with this track describing the contents and the sentiment of her mother’s is perfectly suitable. She is best experienced in person, but Minton Sparks Performing Live at The Station Inn in the Heart of Downtown Nashville is the next best thing.
STEVE EARLE/This City
Writer: Steve Earle; Producer: T Bone Burnett; Publisher: Exile on Jones St., ASCAP; New West (track) (www.steveearle.com)
—Steve wrote this for the New Orleans based HBO television series Treme, on which he appears in one of the secondary roles. Or did, until his character was shot dead last season. It is a brooding ballad of the city’s steadfast refusal to drown. His bluesy delivery is backed by stuttering trumpet, slow bass thumping and strummed acoustic guitar, all of which are just stark enough to put the focus firmly on the message. Grammy and Emmy nominated, it appears on his terrific new CD I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, which is his most “country” collection in years. His debut novel, also out now, has the same title.
PEGI YOUNG/Foul Deeds
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Vapor (track) (www.pegiyoung.com)
—The title tune of the album by Neil Young’s wife Pegi is a loping waltz about abandonment. Her light soprano has a tart/sweet quality that sounds best on starker tracks like this one, rather than on the more electrified ones.
SARAH JAROSZ/Run Away
Writer: Sarah Jarosz/Alissa Bonagura; Producer: Gary Paczosa & Sarah Jarosz; Publisher: SoRaw/Almo/My Plum Songs/Alright Love!, BMI/ASCAP; Sugar Hill (track) (www.sarahjarosz.com)
—She tours on the bluegrass circuit, but her music is really closer to acoustic pop. This lead-off track of her new Follow Me Down CD captures how blissfully airy and haunting she can be. Instruments swirl in jazzy circles around her hushed, fluttering vocal. This woman is essential listening.
JAKOB DYLAN/Down On Our Own Shield
Writer: Jakob Dylan; Producer: T Bone Burnett; Publisher: Sugarmoonmusic, ASCAP; Columbia (track)
—I’m rather late in writing about this, but Jakob’s Women + Country album has been a nearly constant presence on my house sound system for months. With the aid of the ubiquitous Mr. Burnett, Bob’s son has achieved a stunningly ear grabbing sound that combines earthy rhythm, echoey twang and campfire folk. Harmony vocals by Neko Case and Kelly Hogan are particularly noteworthy. I chose this rumination, but you can “drop the needle” on “Everybody’s Hurting,” “Nothing But the Whole Wide World” or any of the other tracks and fall in love with this extraordinary record.
THE AVETT BROTHERS/Murder In The City
Writer: none listed; Producer: Rick Rubin; Publisher: none listed; American Recordings (track) (www.theavettbrothers.com)
—As a general rule, I don’t like live albums. But this is one group whose superb recorded works are sometimes outshone by its concert performances. The Avett Brothers Live, Volume 3 is not some “filler” release between studio recordings. Rather, it is an exciting document that stands on its own as a listening experience. If you’re already a fan, your favorites (”I and Love and You” for instance) are probably here. This starkly strummed family portrait is greeted with wild cheers by the crowd. But, then, so is just about everything else.
JOHN ANDERSON/The Turning Of A Field
Writer: Stan Webb/Thomm Jutz/Peter Cronin; Producer: Thomm Jutz; Publisher: Stan Webb/Thomm Songs/Samoline, SESAC; Cohesion Arts (track) (www.1861project.com)
The 1861 Project is an ambitious song cycle about the Civil War. This 17-song CD is subtitled, “Volume 1: From Farmers to Foot Soldiers.” The unmistakable voice of John Anderson kicks things off with this evocative portrait of a man plowing his land as war winds rise in the distance. Other notables who portray the various songs’ characters include Irene Kelley, Marty Stuart, John Brannen, Richard Dobson and Dana Cooper. Impressive acoustic-folk work.
ROBERT ELLIS/What’s In It For Me
Writer: Robert Ellis; Producer: Robert Ellis & Paul Moore; Publisher: Roger Elvis/New West Independent, BMI; New West (track) (www.robertellismusic.com)
—This ballad from his Photographs CD is carefully arranged with an echoey background vocal chorus, deliberately chorded piano and a judiciously played steel guitar. The Texan’s trembling vocal of a loser coming home is note perfect.

DIY 'U' Showcases Digital Artist Career Tool

The third installment of ASCAP’s DIY “U” took place in the performing rights organization’s conference room Aug. 16. The DIY series is designed to introduce members to various technology companies and this edition featured the Topspin direct-to-fan platform and Topspin Sr. Director of Artist Services Nashville, Wayne Leeloy.
Topspin has many layers of tools and ways to obtain and analyze data. Looked at simply, it is the next step for an artist who has already begun to engage fans on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but wants to gather more individual information about those fans, for example an email address. It is one thing to have a Friend, Follower or Like, but another level of trust entirely when a fan feels secure enough to give you his or her email address which then allows you to contact them when you want to do so.
According to Leeloy, who began his Nashville career working for Ticketmaster, Topspin was a closed platform until last March but has rapidly expanded to over 12,000 members. “It can be harnessed for music, books, film and more,” said Leeloy. “Anything where the goal is to build community around a brand. It’s a platform for creating and managing a retail channel including an artist store, plus a sophisticated toolset to help acquire new fans and analyze data.” Artists currently using Topspin range from Paul McCartney to Nashville’s Jim Lauderdale.

(L-R): ASCAP's Mike Sistad, Jesse Willoughby, Topspin's Wayne Leeloy and ASCAP's LeAnn Phelan.


Some of the kinds of available tools include a series of flexible widgets that allow artists to offer free content, fan club memberships, tickets or contests in exchange for email acquisition. The widgets retain full functionality when shared on social networks and third party websites. So, for example, a widget can be shared in someone’s Facebook stream and others can discover and interact with its functionality. A second key feature of the platform is its robust data dashboard where the fan list is kept and analyzed. Artists are able to filter the list and sort by zip code and distance parameters. Emails are ranked in terms of influence, engagement and other interests. The list can also be downloaded for use with email programs such as Mailchimp, for example.
One ASCAP member noted that while the platform seemed “amazing,” the learning curve for best leveraging its power can be challenging. “Think Pro Tools, and what that did for recording,” said Leeloy. “It takes some time to master, but it’s worth it.” The Topspin website has a series of educational features and videos to help artists move through the process. Also Berklee College of Music’s online school has a 12-week course given four times a year designed to provide “deep insight into the strategies, skills and tools required to market your business online as well as the tactical training you need to become a Topspin pro.”
Sharing, awareness, viral engagement and data acquisition systems like the Topspin platform aren’t just terms or concepts for tomorrow’s music industry, serious careers are already immersed in them.
 

DIY ‘U’ Showcases Digital Artist Career Tool

The third installment of ASCAP’s DIY “U” took place in the performing rights organization’s conference room Aug. 16. The DIY series is designed to introduce members to various technology companies and this edition featured the Topspin direct-to-fan platform and Topspin Sr. Director of Artist Services Nashville, Wayne Leeloy.

Topspin has many layers of tools and ways to obtain and analyze data. Looked at simply, it is the next step for an artist who has already begun to engage fans on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but wants to gather more individual information about those fans, for example an email address. It is one thing to have a Friend, Follower or Like, but another level of trust entirely when a fan feels secure enough to give you his or her email address which then allows you to contact them when you want to do so.

According to Leeloy, who began his Nashville career working for Ticketmaster, Topspin was a closed platform until last March but has rapidly expanded to over 12,000 members. “It can be harnessed for music, books, film and more,” said Leeloy. “Anything where the goal is to build community around a brand. It’s a platform for creating and managing a retail channel including an artist store, plus a sophisticated toolset to help acquire new fans and analyze data.” Artists currently using Topspin range from Paul McCartney to Nashville’s Jim Lauderdale.

(L-R): ASCAP's Mike Sistad, Jesse Willoughby, Topspin's Wayne Leeloy and ASCAP's LeAnn Phelan.

Some of the kinds of available tools include a series of flexible widgets that allow artists to offer free content, fan club memberships, tickets or contests in exchange for email acquisition. The widgets retain full functionality when shared on social networks and third party websites. So, for example, a widget can be shared in someone’s Facebook stream and others can discover and interact with its functionality. A second key feature of the platform is its robust data dashboard where the fan list is kept and analyzed. Artists are able to filter the list and sort by zip code and distance parameters. Emails are ranked in terms of influence, engagement and other interests. The list can also be downloaded for use with email programs such as Mailchimp, for example.

One ASCAP member noted that while the platform seemed “amazing,” the learning curve for best leveraging its power can be challenging. “Think Pro Tools, and what that did for recording,” said Leeloy. “It takes some time to master, but it’s worth it.” The Topspin website has a series of educational features and videos to help artists move through the process. Also Berklee College of Music’s online school has a 12-week course given four times a year designed to provide “deep insight into the strategies, skills and tools required to market your business online as well as the tactical training you need to become a Topspin pro.”

Sharing, awareness, viral engagement and data acquisition systems like the Topspin platform aren’t just terms or concepts for tomorrow’s music industry, serious careers are already immersed in them.

 

On Location: Jason Jones, Eric Lee Beddingfield Shoot Debut Videos

Jason Jones surrounded by the video cast.


Warner Bros. newcomer Jason Jones, and indie artist Eric Lee Beddingfield recently shot their first music videos.
Jones traveled to Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park near Chattanooga, Tenn. to shoot the video for his single “Ferris Wheel.” Directed by Kristin Barlowe, the video captures the fun of spending the afternoon at the county fair. “Ferris Wheel” recently debuted on the country singles charts and is quickly climbing. The song is available now on Jones’ self-titled digital Six Pak and will be on his upcoming full-length debut produced by Brett Beavers (Dierks Bentley).
“Making this music video was one of the most fun experiences I have had so far,” shares Jones. “I’m not gonna lie, my favorite part was having the entire amusement park to ourselves. We even got to go on the rides without waiting in any lines!”
• • •

Beddingfield and Jones


Eric Lee Beddingfield scored a cameo from George Jones for his first music video for “The Gospel According to Jones.” Jones also lends his vocals to the single track.
“It was a dream come true of mine for George to sing on the song, but to have him appear in the video is beyond anything I could have imagined,” said Beddingfield. “All artists want the respect of their peers, and to have a legendary artist like George Jones give his personal endorsement is like the Holy Grail to a country artist.”
The clip was produced and directed by Ryan Lassan and Daniel Slezinger for Autumn Addict Productions. Locations included the popular 12th & Porter venue in Nashville, Kings Chapel in Arrington, Tenn., and Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Springfield, Tenn.

Country Superstars Tour Overseas


Alan Jackson played to a total of 30,000 fans during his recent Scandanavian tour. Pictured onstage in Stavanger, Norway. Photo: Scott Scovill


Alan Jackson and Toby Keith are taking their tours across the pond.
Jackson’s tour visited Sweden and Norway last week. Tickets to see the superstar and his band The Strayhorns were in high-demand for all three shows. The run kicked off in Stockholm, Sweden.
This isn’t the first international trek for the singer-songwriter this year – in March, Jackson toured Australia for the first time and all six shows sold out in minutes.
Jackson is currently climbing the charts with the new song, “Long Way to Go,” his debut single from EMI Records Nashville and ACR (Alan’s Country Records).
• • • •
Toby Keith will take his tour overseas in late October, promoting the release of his new Show Dog- Universal album. His latest project, Clancy’s Tavern, will be available worldwide Oct. 25.
The lead single, “Made In America,” is fast rising, already landing at No. 2 on MusicRow’s CountryBreakout chart.
Keith is set for twelve concerts in Europe, kicking off Oct. 30 in Edinburgh. This isn’t his maiden voyage overseas, in 2009 he did a nine-date, six-city sold-out run.
Locked & Loaded International Dates:
Oct. 30—Edinburgh
Oct. 31—Manchester
Nov. 1—London
Nov. 3—Amsterdam
Nov. 5—Munich
Nov. 7—Cologne
Nov. 8—Hamburg
Nov. 11—Helsinki
Nov. 13—Stockholm
Nov. 15—Oslo
Nov. 17—Copenhagen
Nov. 19—Berlin

Artist Action

SESAC’s Nashville headquarters hosted a recent gathering to celebrate the 30th anniversary of legendary bluegrass group the Lonesome River Band. Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Tim Fink, band member Brandon Rickman, SESAC’s Amy Beth Hale and band member Sammy Shelor. Photo: Peyton Hoge


Crystal Hoyt


• • • Former Trailer Choir singer Crystal Hoyt is hosting a weekly songwriters showcase called Renegade Junction starting tonight (8/16) at The Attic at Piranhas. Hoyt will premiere her new songs at the multi-genre showcase running for six weeks. Doors open at 7:00 pm, and live performances will go from 8:00 pm – 11:00 p.m. Admission is free.

Kellie Pickler


• • • Kellie Pickler will make her acting debut this fall on the upcoming season on 90210. Pickler will play the role of “Sally,” the country-singing cousin of local cowboy “Austin” (Justin Deeley). In addition to her acting debut, she will perform her new single “Tough,” the lead single from her next album. 90210 airs Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. eastern on The CW.

Jacob Lyda


• • • Davis Music Group’s Jacob Lyda debuted on The Grand Ole Opry recently, performing “I’m Doing Alright,” and his next radio single, “Born At A Truck Stop;” both co-penned by Lyda and found on his upcoming album, Another Song I had To Write. Lyda made his debut in the coveted circle with plenty of friends and family in the audience cheering him on—fans in his hometown of Stevenson, AL chartered a bus to go to the show.
• • • Country artist Lacy Green recently visited BMI’s Nashville offices during a break from her ongoing radio tour. Green, who is signed with BMI, was in town for a series of writing sessions with producer Ronnie Bowman. Since June, the 22-year-old North Carolina native has been out on the road visiting Country radio in support of her debut single, “For the Summertime.” Green also entered into a sponsorship agreement in July with NYC-based fine jewelry company, SLANE. Green continues to work on her debut album for SwanGate Records, due out later this year.

SwanGate Records artist Lacy Green (c) poses with BMI’s Leslie Roberts (l) and Bradley Collins. Photo: AristoMedia.

CMT Adds New Sr. VP, Music Strategy

Leslie Fram


CMT has hired industry vet Leslie Fram to serve as Sr. VP, Music Strategy, overseeing all music integration within the CMT brand, including original programming, CMT.com, CMT Radio and music video airplay across all media platforms. The former PD and morning show co-host of New York rock station WRXP will join the team Sept. 1, reporting to Pres. Brian Philips. She replaces the exiting Jay Frank who is launching a new initiative.
Fram first worked with Philips in the early 90s, transforming Atlanta pop radio station Power 99 into a trendsetting, alternative rock station, 99X. Fram spent a decade at 99X both on-air and as Assistant Program Director and Program Director. She has been honored for her radio work, and outstanding contributions to the industry by the TJ Martell Association and NARAS’s Atlanta Chapter, where she served on the Board of Governors. She is a Lifetime Achievement Inductee in the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.
“Leslie Fram is beloved throughout the entire industry,” said Philips. “Everyone knows of her hard-driving passion for music, her unyielding integrity and her relentless work ethic. I have always believed that Leslie, in her soul, ‘belonged’ at MTV Networks, and she’s finally here!”
Fram adds, “This move just feels right for me on so many levels. CMT is on a creative hot streak, and I’m honored to join Brian Philips and his all-star team at the network. CMT is a big stage — 93 million homes! I am excited about the creative freedom I’ve been given to invent and innovate with music across all CMT’s platforms. I’m anxious to get to Nashville, reconnect with old friends, make new ones and blaze a new trail with CMT.”
Philips added, “Jay has helped CMT make great strides, leaving in place a strong music infrastructure. He’s a futurist and successful author with an entrepreneurial spirit, and we wish him huge success with his new venture.”
Fram joins CMT at a time of growth across several divisions: CMT Radio Network now has 160+ affiliates across the country; CMT Radio Live With Cody Alan, the nightly syndicated show is heard in over 100 markets; CMT Pure, the network’s 24-hour music video channel is now in 25 million homes; and music video hours on CMT are up 10% over the last year.