Country Music Roundup: Martina McBride is back, and so is Sawyer Brown

Welcome back to the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every Thursday.

New Music This Week:

-Martina McBride releases her 13th studio album “Reckless” this Friday. McBride has said the album is a deeply personal one, dealing with her past and some of the confidence shifts that come with getting older, according to Taste of Country. The album’s eponymous single is out now.

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 17: Martina McBride performs during Big Machine Rocks Music Special with Martina McBride live on HSN on April 17, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for HSN)
NASHVILLE, TN – Martina McBride performs during Big Machine Rocks Music Special with Martina McBride live on HSN on April 17, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for HSN)

AJ Croix‘s debut solo album “American Idols” releases this Friday. Stepping away from fronting the AJC Band, the New Jersey native mixes folk, country and rock in a collection of story-songs, according to Country Standard Time.

-“Parachute,” Chris Stapleton’s next single off of his award-winning album “Traveller,” was released to country radio last week.

-“American Idol” runner-up Kree Harrison dropped her debut single “This Old Thing” earlier this month.

-Also, it’s Willie Nelson Week over here at the Statesman! We’re celebrating Nelson’s birthday on the 29th all week long, so be sure to check back with us for more content each day.

 

Country Music Shows:

-If you missed hearing ’90s hits “Six Days on the Road,” “Some Girls Do” or “The Race Is On,” you’re in luck. Sawyer Brown will be playing two shows in one night at One World Theatre Friday night.

-For those that want a lot of mainstream country all at once, check out the iHeart Country Festival at the Erwin Center on Saturday. The third annual version of this event, which is really more of a marathon concert than a festival, features abbreviated sets from some of mainstream country radio’s most-played artists. Performers include Florida Georgia Line, Brett Eldredge, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Miranda Lambert, Lee Brice, Chris Young, Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band. New this year is a free afternoon show from 3 to 6 p.m. at the venue’s north box office plaza with sets by Bobby Bones & the Raging Idiots, Granger Smith, LoCash, Chris Lane and Maren Morris. $25-$375. 7 p.m. 1701 Red River St. uterwincenter.com. — P.B.

Sour Bridges, an indie Americana act, will record a live album indoors at Stubb’s on Saturday night.

-And lastly, on Sunday, “Jimmy Webb: The Glen Campbell Years” will make its stop at One World Theatre. Webb wrote many of Campbell’s early hits, like “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston.” This show focuses on Webb’s relationship with Campbell, featuring archival footage and duets with recordings of Campbell’s voice.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: jharris@statesman.com.

 

A beginner’s guide to Willie Nelson and Kacey Musgraves’ friendship

nelson musgraves
Willie Nelson and Kacey Musgraves perform during the Willie Nelson & Family New Year concert at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. Photos by Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman

Despite an age difference of more than half a century (!!), the friendship between neo-traditional country singer Kacey Musgraves and her hair-braided role model Willie Nelson just works. One would say it’s blazing.

Along with their mutual profession of making country music, the pair are famous marijuana smokers. In an interview with US Weekly, Musgraves told the magazine she framed a joint Nelson gave her. On April 20, Musgraves posted a series of Instagrams surrounding by tall marijuana plants, thanking Nelson for a tour and referencing his cannabis brand Willie’s Reserve in a hashtag.

Let’s look back on how the high times came to be. One of the first photos snapped of country’s oddest BFFs captures Musgraves planting a kiss on Nelson’s cheek. He doesn’t seem to mind the Wet Willie (sorry, couldn’t help it) either. In fact, this snap had quite the run as Musgraves’ Instagram profile picture.

A lover of all things vintage, Musgraves uploaded a photo of a classic Rolling Stone cover featuring the bearded outlaw sans his signature braids.

In case there’s any doubt, Musgraves is a superfan, ‘gramming Nelson and his famous guitar Trigger during the Farm Aid concert event.

Any chance to get on stage near Nelson, Musgraves has taken it, such as when he belted out “I’ll Fly Away” during a show.

It seems where Nelson plays, Musgraves isn’t too far off, as the two have embarked on tour together. The two played a tribute to Waylon Jennings at ACL Live in 2015.

“Pageant Material,” the second album from Musgraves, features the hidden track “Are You Sure,” an old Nelson song originally released in the ’60s, which he guest stars on for the album. They released a video for the song in September 2015.

Leading up to New Year’s Eve, the Texas twosome played a series of shows that capped off the year with their duet.

Musgraves had a busy SXSW, playing shows at Fader Fort, the Paramount Theatre and Spotify House, and she was scheduled to be the surprise guest at Nelson’s ranch for the Luck Reunion event, when severe weather shut down the show.

Mixing the sequinned glitz of Musgraves with the roadhouse style of Nelson, these Lone Star State natives make for some serious #squadgoals. As the ultimate sign of friendship, Musgraves even gave a shout-out to the country legend with the opening line “I’ve had my picture made with Willie Nelson” on her single “Dimestore Cowgirl.”

Willie and Kacey forever ❤

Watch the two kick it old school in a bar in the video below.

Weekend music picks: Beyond Levitation lies violins, country and ‘Galveston’

FRIDAY

Black Violin plays Friday at the Long Center. Photo by Brian Stollery
Black Violin plays Friday at the Long Center. Photo by Brian Stollery

Black Violin at Long Center. The classically trained duo lay virtuous violin licks over classic hip-hop breakbeats provided live by a funky backline. In the process, they exploit and evolve the natural cinematic tensions of an art form built around aural collage. How legit is it? Rappers Pharoahe Monch and Black Thought and jazz musician Robert Glasper all blessed their 2015 album “StereoTypes” with guest spots. $29-$49. 8 p.m. 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org. — D.S.S.

Also: Travis County officials have canceled Levitation Fest over concerns of severe weather expected to enter the Austin area later today. Refunds will be issued. Some artists’ performances may get rescheduled at venues in town; check for updates on our Austin Music Source blog and on the Levitation website. … Indie Brits Foals hit Emo’s with Kiev. … Justin Furstenfeld’s emotional alt-rock continues to draw a fanatical following and Blue October’s outdoor show at Stubb’s to celebrate the band’s new album “Home” is sold out. … Memphis soul powerhouse the Bo-Keys mark the release of their new record “Heartaches By the Number” with a two-night stand at Antone’s. … Also beginning a two-night stand is North Carolina jam band Papadosio, at the Parish. … Playing two shows in one night are ’90s country hitmakers Sawyer Brown, at One World Theatre. … Local reggae rockers and possible yoga enthusiasts Sun Salutation celebrate the release of their newest “Spirals” at Empire. … Art City Austin at Palmer Events Center features Eric Tessmer and Barbara Nesbitt on the Black Fret Stage. … Other top local options include Miss Lavelle White at El Mercado Backstage, Shoulders at Carousel Lounge, Oliver Rajamani at Cactus Cafe, Don Leady & His Rockin’ Revue at ABGB and James Hand at the Broken Spoke.

SATURDAY

iHeart Country Festival at the Erwin Center. The third annual version of this event, which is really more of a marathon concert than a festival, features abbreviated sets from some of mainstream country radio’s most-played artists. Performers include Florida Georgia Line, Brett Eldredge, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Miranda Lambert, Lee Brice, Chris Young, Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band. New this year is a free afternoon show from 3 to 6 p.m. at the venue’s north box office plaza with sets by Bobby Bones & the Raging Idiots, Granger Smith, LoCash, Chris Lane and Maren Morris. $25-$375. 7 p.m. 1701 Red River St. uterwincenter.com. — P.B.

Also: Get an early look at the new Grizzly Hall on East Riverside with a show featuring Last Judgment, Nekrist and Gathered at the Gallows. … The Parish isn’t usually Austin’s prime venue for metal tours, but that’s where you’ll find Detroit’s Black Dahlia Murder along with Fallujah and Disentomb. … C-Boy’s serves up Louisiana zydeco with Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie. … Get down for Latin Dance Night at Hotel Vegas with El Tule, La Frenetika and Mama K & the Shades. … Another East of Cameron benefit at Hole in the Wall features the appropriately named East Cameron Folkcore plus Town Hall Devils. … Indie Americana act Sour Bridges records a live album indoors at Stubb’s. … Strange Brew presents a Billy Joel tribute with local artists including Kacy Crowley, Jeff Plankenhorn, Lisa Tingle and Betty Soo. … Art City Austin at Palmer Events Center features locals Jackie Venson, Zeale and Barfield on its Black Fret Stage. … Other top local options include Will Johnson at Cactus Cafe, Joe King Carrasco at the Townsend, W.C. Clark at Saxon Pub, Leo Rondeau and Ramsay Midwood at ABGB and the LeRoi Brothers at the Continental Club with Don Leady & His Rockin’ Revue.

SUNDAY

Jimmy Webb: The Glen Campbell Years at One World Theatre. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston” — if many of Glen Campbell’s early hits seemed of a piece with each other, it was because Jimmy Webb was behind them. One of the great songwriters of the 20th century, Webb still tours as a solo pianist and singer, known for telling insightful stories between playing the hits he’s written for dozens of artists. This show focuses specifically on his long relationship with Campbell, featuring archival photos and videos plus duets with recordings of Campbell’s voice. See Thursday’s American-Statesman and mystatesman.com for a full preview of the show. $25-$65. 7 p.m. 7701 Bee Caves Road. oneworldtheatre.org. — P.B.

Also: Christian rock rules at Cedar Park Center with the Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, OBB and Ryan Stevenson. … The Silversun Pickups bring their eerie exercise in buoyant paranoia to Stubb’s outdoor. … Brooklyn indie band Highly Suspect visits the Parish. … Upstate New York teenage rocker McKinley James plays the first of two nights at the Continental Club. … Art City Austin’s music offerings at Palmer Events Center wrap up with Tameca Jones, Hard Proof and Dan Dyer on the Black Fret Stage.

Paul Simon to tape ‘Austin City Limits’ on May 12; ticket lottery now open for May 2 My Morning Jacket taping

Paul Simon. (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Paul Simon. (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon will tape an episode of “Austin City Limits” on May 12 at ACL Live, the esteemed music television program announced Tuesday.

Simon, who is playing Bass Concert Hall on May 10 and May 11, has never appeared on the program before. He’ll be featuring songs from his upcoming album “Stranger to Stranger,” due June 3 on Concord Records, but also will play some of the best-known songs from a career that has spanned more than 50 years, from his classic collaborations with Art Garfunkel to a string of platinum-selling solo records. Check the ACL website and its social media pages for upcoming details on the ticket lottery for the show.

In other ACL news: The ticket lottery for the May 2 taping of indie-rock band My Morning Jacket is now under way. Enter your name and email on the show’s website to get a chance for free tickets to the event. No word yet on whether that taping will be live-streamed.

Also, ACL has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help get the recent documentary about the program, “A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story,” into theatrical distribution after a festival run that included the premiere at the SXSW Film Festival last month.

And check out our review of last night’s ACL taping with Rhiannon Giddens.

Watch: House party with Gary Clark Jr. in new video trilogy

In case the stunning photos from his Palm Springs wedding, scheduled around Coachella gigs last week, weren’t enough evidence that Clark’s life is the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll dreams, this should do it. Hit up a red hot L.A. house party in the video trilogy for Gary Clark Jr.’s  “BYOB,” “Can’t Sleep” and “Shake” that premiered on Noisey this morning.

He rolls with an actual member of “Entourage” (Jeremy Piven) to a party in “BYOB.” Z.Z. Top’s Billy Gibbons card sharks while Clark gets his sexy falsetto on in “Can’t Sleep.” Then he “Shakes” out the morning after with a sunrise hangover blues set.

Gary Clark Jr. from his Oct. 2, 2015, performance at Austin City Limits. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Gary Clark Jr. from his Oct. 2, 2015, performance at Austin City Limits. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

If you’d prefer to party with Clark at home, check out this clip of “Cold Blooded” from a recent Artist’s Den taping at Antone’s.

Clark played the show in February, the night after he appeared in a B.B. King tribute at the Grammy Awards in L.A. Scheduling was tough, but Clark felt it was important to do the show at Antone’s, the club he recently helped reopen.

When we talked to Clark before the club reopened last summer, he credited Antone as a driving force in his career. “I wouldn’t have the musical education, the knowledge, if it wasn’t for that guy who allowed me to hang backstage with Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton, these guys telling me stories… and then (to) go listen to and really be able to feel it,” he said.

When he wasn’t busy with his bride last week at Coachella, Clark sat in with Run the Jewels and Anderson.Paak. He also plays in the band with Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter in the new Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead.” 

 

Rhiannon Giddens blazes brightly with her band at ACL taping

Rhiannon Giddens and band taping "Austin City Limits" at ACL Live on Monday, April 25, 2016. Photos ourtesy of KLRU-TV/Austin City Limits. Photos by Scott Newton
Rhiannon Giddens and band taping “Austin City Limits” at ACL Live on Monday, April 25, 2016. Photos ourtesy of KLRU-TV/Austin City Limits. Photos by Scott Newton

It was something I’d never seen on “Austin City Limits,” or any other show I can recall, for that matter. Rhiannon Giddens informed the crowd during the encore of her Monday night taping at ACL Live that this was the last show of 2016 with her band after a year and a half of touring — and then proceeded to go around the stage and share a warm embrace with all seven band members.

It was a remarkably graceful moment for an artist who exudes grace, even under pressure. The show got off to a bumpy start when executive producer Terry Lickona made a rare faux-pas by mispronouncing Giddens’ first name in his introduction. “It’s Rhi-ANN-on, rhymes with Shannon,” she noted after the first song. (Or, like the Fleetwood Mac song “Rhiannon,” for those who can remember back to before this extraordinarily talented North Carolina musician was born.)

On top of that, an apparent technical glitch in the opening song required it to be redone. Not big deal in the old days when editing makes such things invisible, but with this show being livestreamed on the internet, there was nothing to do but make light of it. “Here’s a tune y’all may have heard before,” Giddens quipped. The audience didn’t seem to mind at all, as the fascinating number, with lyrics by Bob Dylan that Giddens set to her own music, provided a forceful kickoff to the 80-minute concert.

Rhiannon Giddens taping "Austin City Limits" at ACL Live on Monday, April 25, 2016. Photos ourtesy of KLRU-TV/Austin City Limits. Photos by Scott Newton
Rhiannon Giddens taping “Austin City Limits” at ACL Live on Monday, April 25, 2016. Photos ourtesy of KLRU-TV/Austin City Limits. Photos by Scott Newton

Fitting, perhaps, that the second song in the set was Dolly Parton’s “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind.” Giddens quickly shook off those early snags and had the room spellbound with a voice that tapped directly into mountain country even as it radiated with hints of her early operatic abmitions. The Patsy Cline hit “She’s Got You” kept Giddens and her bandmates planted in country territory before she steered in a decidedly different direction with the intense and deeply bluesy “Waterboy,” one of several tunes she sang that dealt with the struggles of slaves in the 19th century.

Giddens spoke eloquently about those roots in prefacing a couple of songs, noting that she’s spent a lot of time reading about the subject. “The way I dealt with the emotionality of that is just by writing songs,” she explained before the stripped-down number “Julie,” which featured just Giddens on banjo and Dirk Powell on fiddle.

Powell, who also played accordion on a lively creole number, was just one of many impressive and versatile players in Giddens’ cast. She introduced them all enthusiastically later in the show: Hubby Jenkins, guitar/mandolin; Rowan Corbett, guitar/banjo/percussion; Chance McCoy, fiddle; Jason Sypher, bass; Malcolm Parson, cello; and Jamie Dick, drums.

Giddens summoned some deep Celtic influences — she has lived part-time in Ireland since marrying an Irish musician — on the rousing set-closer “Mouth Music” before raising the roof on a medley of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s gospel shouters “That Lonesome Road” and “Up Above My Head” (the latter a highlight of Giddens’ Grammy-nominated 2015 album “Tomorrow Is My Turn”).

She commanded it all from center stage, gloriously dancing barefoot in a black dress with white trim, singing at the top of her lungs and exhorting the crowd to join in. “What a way to go out!” she exclaimed, with a smile for her bandmates that underscored Giddens’ amazing grace.

Set list:
1. Spanish Mary
2. Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind
3. She’s Got You
4. Waterboy
5. Last Kind Words
6. Julie
7. That Creole Song
8. Louisiana Man
9. Children, Go Where I Send Thee
10. At the Purchaser’s Option
11. Mouth Music
Encore:
12. That Lonesome Road/Up Above My Head

Billy Gibbons will join Mike Flanigin for ‘Blues on the Green’ kickoff

Mike Flanigin at Deep Eddy Cabaret. Photo by Jay Janner / American-Statesman
Mike Flanigin at Deep Eddy Cabaret. Photo by Jay Janner / American-Statesman

KGSR has announced its lineup for this year’s Blues on the Green series, which launches May 25 with a celebration of B3 organ master Mike Flanigin’s 2015 album “The Drifter” featuring special guests Billy Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan and Charlie Sexton.

The free shows in Zilker Park continue once a month on Wednesdays through the summer. The rest of the lineup: June 22, Wild Child and Max Frost; July 13, Hayes Carll and Carson McHone; Aug. 3, Sweet Spirit and the Suffers.

Opening the May 25 kickoff is blues-rock duo the Peterson Brothers, who made a splash with their self-titled debut album last year. Flanigin’s record and Sweet Spirit’s “Cokomo” were selected the American-Statesman’s top two local records of 2015 in our year-end roundup. Flanigin has spent much of the past year touring in Gibbons’ backing band.

KGSR also has begun its seasonal “Unplugged at the Grove” series at Barton Springs Road restaurant Shady Grove. Music starts at 8 p.m. each Thursday through the spring and summer, including this week’s performance by Dallas singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe. Other highlights include Charlie Mars (May 19), Alejandro Escovedo (June 16), and the Reverend Horton Heat and Dale Watson (July 14). Check out the full lineup on KGSR’s website.

Tony Bennett eclipses the bounds of time at Bass Concert Hall

Tony Bennett and band at Bass Concert Hall on Sunday, April 24, 2016. Photo by Arnold Wells for American-Statesman
Tony Bennett and band at Bass Concert Hall on Sunday, April 24, 2016. Photo by Arnold Wells for American-Statesman

We should all look, sound and feel as good as Tony Bennett does if and when we reach age 89. But for an hour and a half on Sunday night at Bass Concert Hall, the legendary crooner made everyone in the room feel good, regardless of their age.

Reeling off 25 songs with a four-piece jazz ensemble, Bennett needed no fancy stage design, no flashy lighting or video, no jacked-up wall of sound. Indeed, on his final number, the timeless “Fly Me to the Moon,” he didn’t need amplification at all. Singing off-mic, Bennett’s voice rang out with the immortal lyrics that define him: “Fill my heart with song, and let me sing forever more.”

It’s not that Bennett can’t do a buzzier show if he wants. His last stop in Austin was a duet performance with Lady Gaga, promoting the “Cheek to Cheek” album that the two recorded together in 2014. (Midway through Monday’s show, he slyly gave his sales pitch: “I’d like you to buy it, because she really needs the money.”)

Tony Bennett at Bass Concert Hall on Sunday, April 24, 2016. Photo by Arnold Wells for American-Statesman
Tony Bennett at Bass Concert Hall on Sunday, April 24, 2016. Photo by Arnold Wells for American-Statesman

But Bennett hardly needs any assistance beyond a few great players, which he has in spades with pianist Mike Renzi, guitarist Gray Sargent, bassist Marshall Wood and drummer Harold Jones. The musicians, who playfully spiked their solos on occasion with region-appropriate snippets from “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and “Yellow Rose of Texas,” took the stage at 7:30 p.m. sharp and warmed up the full house with a few instrumentals before Bennett strolled on and immediately launched into one pop standard after another.

The pattern was easy enough to spot early on: Light, swinging jazz numbers and quieter, more contemplative ballads gradually built to a grand crescendo that allowed Bennett’s voice to bring it all home with a dramatic flourish. And yet it was spectacular each time it happened, from the brilliant history-lesson wordplay of “They All Laughed” to the heartbreaking finale of “Who Can I Turn To” (“if you turn away”) to the soaring end of “that long, long road” on the Frank Sinatra staple “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road).”

Bennett briefly left the stage to one of several standing ovations after the uplifting “For Once in My Life.” But everyone knew he’d be back for his signature “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” so he didn’t keep the crowd waiting for more than 30 seconds. The surprise was that he played six more songs, including Charlie Chaplin’s lovely “Smile.” And although it’s possible he says this at every tour stop, Bennett seemed sincere when he declared, “You are my favorite city in the whole world, because all of you adore music.”

Set list:

  1. Watch What Happens
  2. They All Laughed
  3. This Is All I Ask
  4. I Got Rhythm
  5. In My Solitude
  6. Sing You Sinners
  7. It Amazes Me
  8. Steppin’ Out With My Baby
  9. But Beautiful
  10. Our Love Is Here to Stay
  11. The Way You Look Tonight
  12. Who Can I Turn to When Nobody Needs Me
  13. Just in Time
  14. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  15. The Good Life
  16. How Do You Keep the Music Playing
  17. Shadow of Your Smile
  18. One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)
  19. For Once in My Life

Encore:

  1. I’m Old Fashioned
  2. I Left My Heart in San Francisco
  3. Who Cares
  4. Smile
  5. When You’re Smiling
  6. Fly Me to the Moon

Alabama Shakes to play Austin360 Amphitheater on Sept. 23

Photo by Scott Newton. Courtesy of KLRU TV/Austin City Limits.
Alabama Shakes. Photo by Scott Newton, courtesy of KLRU TV/Austin City Limits

Grammy-winning soulful rock band Alabama Shakes, led by show-stopping singer Brittany Howard, will play the Austin360 Amphitheater on Sept. 23, the venue announced Monday morning.

The group’s 2015 sophomore album “Sound & Color,” which topped the pop charts upon its release last year, won Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammy Awards in February. The song single “Don’t Wanna Fight” won for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance.

Tickets, $36-$76, go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, April 29, via at ticketmaster.com and Austin360Amphitheater.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.

 

Drake to kick off “Summer Sixteen” tour in Austin

Drake performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. (Erika Rich / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Drake performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. (Erika Rich / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Drake, who has a new album “Views From the 6” due out Friday, has announced plans for his North American tour with Future set to go down this summer. And surprise! He’s kicking it off here in Austin on Wednesday, July 20.

Tickets to the show go on sale this Friday at texasboxoffice.com.

We’ve had a lot of Drake over the last couple years. First there was the “battle” with Lil Wayne in 2014. Then he headlined two weekends of ACL Fest last year. Most recently, he did a quick pop-in at the Fader Fort during SXSW 2016.

We’re starting to think he actually likes us. Perhaps one day we actually will sit down for a chat over some seared scallop tacos.

More info.