Gabe Lee hits the road for his “opening year.”

Gabe Lee is 30 now, and for the most part, he’s spent all of that time in the town he was born: Nashville. His parents still live about a half hour away, and they’re “part of what keeps him there and part of what keeps him in line.”

“It’s been a huge blessing to have them here,” he says. “Especially last year, when everything was in flux. I couldn’t see them as much as I would have normally, but they were still within reach, which is comforting.”

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Azure Ray releases ‘Remedy’ on Friday, their first record together in 11 years.

For the first time in 11 years, Birmingham natives Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink have come together to release a new record as Azure Ray. Well, they didn’t quite “come together,” but Remedy will nonetheless be the band’s first release as one in more than a decade.

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Sarah Lee Langford opens the Homewood Theatre Music Series on Saturday.

Sarah Lee Langford is slowly getting back in front of audiences. Her debut album, Two Hearted Rounder, was released just five months before the pandemic abruptly shut things down. She just wrapped an appearance at Six Mile Fest just south of Montevallo, and she’ll open the Homewood Theatre Music Series on Saturday with her pedal steel player Ford Boswell.

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Harper Grae returns with emotional new single “Still Your Mother.”

Harper Grae graduated from a K-12 school in Reeltown, Alabama. Unincorporated Tallapoosa County–not close to much of anything. It’s “sorta” near Lake Martin and Dadeville and Tallassee and Waverly, but really, if you didn’t grow up there or spend a lot of time driving to Auburn, do any of those even manage to ring a bell?

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B.B. Palmer wants to bring the sitar on the road.

Bernard Palmer is the namesake of B.B. Palmer, a band that has called Opelika and Lee County home for most of its’ life. Palmer himself grew up on the west side of Mobile Bay before moving to the area after high school. Now, he’s heading across the state to Demopolis, where his longtime musical partner Josh McKenzie resides with wife, Birmingham native and musician Taylor Hunnicutt. They all typically tour together, as their bands are interwoven and it makes things easy.

Bernard played around Auburn and Opelika for years–first in cover bands, then in bluegrass bands, the in psychedelic bands. All of those–and his foray into religions that were new to him shaped the band’s new ongoing project, Krishna Country, an EP that finds a way to combine Eastern sounds with the twang that was always familiar to an Alabama native like Palmer.

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Adam Hood: Sequestered No More.

At the beginning of the pandemic last March, Adam Hood and a group of Red Dirt artists began a weekly tradition that became known as Sequestered Songwriters. What began as a one-time thing became a livestream every week that spawned a non-profit that helped provide relief to artists that were struggling through 2020. Jason Eady and Courtney Patton kind of took the reins and the shows kept going for an entire year.

Hood, an Opelika native now based in Northport, is now finding his way back out on the road. He’s on a run of shows throughout the southeast with Eady and they are treating the shows much like they treated the weekly gathering; and making sure to pay homage to the thing that helped bring a lot of people together during a difficult time.

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Jaime Wyatt returns from Mile 0 Fest to a sold-out show at The Basement East.

Jaime Wyatt signed her first record deal at 17. It was on the cusp of file sharing sites changing the shape of the music industry forever. While the business changed around her, she continued writing and recording; she’d been doing it since she was a child. Both of her parents were musicians, and it was kind of all that she had ever known. Somewhere along the way, she even “made a bunch of records that never came out.”

Neon Cross was released in 2020 on New West, certainly a strange year to release an album, but Wyatt took it in stride. She always has. A Tacoma, Washington native, she moved to Nashville from Los Angeles a couple of years ago, and she’s been able to find herself and she’s been able to escape addictions that kept her from reaching her fullest potential; Neon Cross was one of the year’s best. It was produced by Shooter Jennings and features the guitar of the late Neal Casal.

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Revenge Wife releases third track in “Background Songs for Your Boring Life” series.

Revenge Wife is the latest project from Liz Nistico of HOLYCHILD. It’s an ongoing visual project that has been rolled out over the course of the past couple of months, first with “Earthquake” in February, then with “Manifest” in April. It’s horror hidden behind Nistico’s familiar brat pop sounds.

Today, the third Revenge Wife track makes its’ premiere, “Home.” The video—the third installment in the ongoing saga—will be released on May 13.

Nistico talked to me about how the project will unfold and her long term plans for both it and a separate feature length film.

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Claire Rousay Gets Busy Living or Gets Busy Dying (Does Her Part to Save the Scene and Stops Going to Shows).

Claire Rousay is an ambient artist that combines field recordings into her work. She creates something that I can’t quite describe; it’s the most beautiful and tranquil soundtrack to the last two years of our lives. It’s serenity soundtracking chaos. She’s also prolific. Since we spoke by phone, she’s released four more records by my count. She’s also since been featured in the New York Times.

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American Aquarium is bringing a lot of new music to Key West.

Tough times don’t last; tough folks do.

There isn’t much of the past year for anyone to be positive about. It sucked. Touring came to a screeching halt, and for a band like American Aquarium, that was killer. They put out their eighth studio album, Lamentations, anyway. Against all odds and better judgement. And it was one of their best. Continue reading

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