Janet Simpson is a Birmingham legend. She was part of Delicate Cutters, Teen Getaway and Wooden Wand. She’s collaborated on projects like Timber. She’s been a part of Birmingham’s DIY rock scene for 30 years.
Lindsay Ell’s 2020 release heart theory explores the stages of grief. For it, she called on a lot of her friends to help craft 12 fantastic pop songs; folks like Tyler Hubbard or Florida-Georgia Line, Kane Brown, Adam Hambrick and Brandy Clark. “wAnt me back” was the collaboration with Brown (along with Matt McGinn and Lindsay Rimes), and it became her second number one song on country charts in her native Canada. Continue reading →
Courtney Jaye is a longtime friend of Birmingham. Since her days in Nashville, she’s regularly performed in the Magic City and gotten frequent airplay from Scott Register at Birmingham Mountain Radio.
She has an amazing new record on the way. It’s a bit of a spiritual journey, and one that she began writing years ago–nearly a decade now. I feel certain that even by year’s end, it will be one of the best things that I heard in 2021.
Courtney and I spoke about her own spirituality and how that has been shaped by the state of the world around us and the places across America that she has lived during that time. We talked about mental health and the battle many–especially musicians–have had with it over the course of a pandemic. Since May of 2019, she has called Hawaii home, and that has given her the same kind of peace that her new record gives me. Maybe that was the secret. Continue reading →
On Sunday, Tuscaloosa native Alvin Garrett will perform his poignant and powerful, self-penned song “It Starts In The Heart,” as the opening to the 56th annual Selma Bridge Crossing at 2 p.m.The ceremony will happen virtually this year, and you can register to watch for free by visiting SelmaJubilee.com. Continue reading →
Chris Knight released Almost Daylight in 2019, his ninth studio album and his first in seven years. It’s an album that featured guest appearances by Lee Ann Womack and the late John Prine. And he’s been itching to play these songs for folks, but…2020 happened. Continue reading →
In a year filled with surprise releases, one of the more pleasant among them has been Buckle Bunny, an accidental creation of Birmingham’s Kaydee Mulvehill that sounds like nothing that has come from Birmingham in quite some time.
The six-track EP, Pet Speak, is reminiscent of the female-led indie rock that has dominated rock over the past couple of years. It’s aggressive and it’s raw. It can’t remotely fit under the umbrella of “Americana” that has been where most Birmingham and Alabama artists have sheltered for years; the loosely-drawn “genre” title that has grown to make everyone cringe, one that Mulvehill’s own solo project would be lumped into. No, this happy accident of Mulvehill’s “pandemic art” period is rock and roll. Continue reading →
Great Peacock is officially a trio for their third studio album, Forever Worse Better, which was released on October 12. Frank Keith IV has been on the road with Andrew Nelson and Blount Floyd for years, but for the first time, he went into the studio with the band.
It’s a rock record the way that Ryan Adams makes rock records; too far from “folk” to be Americana, really. It’s different. It’s not what you came to expect from Nelson and Floyd on 2015’s Making Ghosts or 2018’s Gran Pavo Real. The track “Rock of Ages” showcases that sound pretty well – a louder, fuller pedal steel driven track complemented by the wail of a Sadler Vaden electric solo. Continue reading →
The pandemic has inspired plenty of art, but it’s also given a lot of artists time to pause. Maybe that has been an excuse to release some old live recordings. Some have created entire new projects that would have otherwise never existed. And some have dug into the archives and found things that we should have heard all along.
For Fiddleworms, the latter gave Russell Mefford and company an opportunity to release the band’s first studio album in eight years. The record has eight tracks, with a bonus track on the download card, “Don’t Shoot the Prophet,” a tune that Mefford wrote with Scott Boyer.
As this collection has come from various recording sessions over the past decade or more, almost every member of the Fiddleworms family makes an appearance: there’s Mefford, Rob Malone [formerly of Drive-By Truckers] and Mitch Mann on vocals and guitars, David MacKay on bass (with an appearance by Matt Ross), John Tombyll and Scott Kennedy on drums, Tombyll and Jimmy Nutt on percussion, Clint Bailey and NC Thurman on piano and organ and a horn section comprised of Brad Guin on tenor sax, Daniel Western on baritone sax, Ken Watters, Shane Porter and Chris Gordon on trumpet and Chad Fisher [St. Paul and the Broken Bones] on trombone. There are also guest background vocal appearances from Donna Jean Godchaux [formerly of Grateful Dead] and Rob Aldridge. Continue reading →
Alecia Elliott was country music’s answer to the female teen pop wave of the late 90s. It sucks that you have to begin every story about her with that, but it’s an elephant in the room that absolutely can’t be ignored. Not that she’s ignoring it. She embraces it. That just isn’t the person that Alecia is now.
“I’m Diggin’ It” was the catchy, MCA Nashville country answer to Britney Spears. She had a short-lived teen comedy on NBC. Then, she was gone. She and I talked much more in depth about all of that in my first book, The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME.
Alecia is the rare soul that is actually from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, not the “idea” of Muscle Shoals. Not the surrounding communities that identify as “Muscle Shoals” because that’s the thing that resonates with people. Alecia went to Muscle Shoals, that is, until Tony Brown of MCA (you know, the guy that signed George Strait, Reba McEntire and half of the 80s and 90s country canon) found her. Continue reading →
In January, Mile 0 Fest in Key West celebrated its biggest year to date. Headlined by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and a hard sell out, the festival stepped into the elite class of “boutique” festivals that Fyre dreamed of and couldn’t execute. It wasn’t without pitfalls. On Saturday, just moments after Randy Rogers had taken the stage, torrential rains forced the amphitheater to be evacuated and literally dampened most of the weekend’s remaining schedule. Continue reading →