Wednesday 30 May 2012

Guitar picking master Doc Watson has died at 89

Guitar picking master Doc Watson has died at 89

Doc Watson, the blind folk musician whose mountain-rooted sound was embraced by generations and whose lightning-fast flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world, died Tuesday (May 29, 2012) at a North Carolina hospital, according to the Associated Press. He was 89.
Watson died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he was hospitalized recently after falling at his home in Deep Gap, 100 miles northwest of Charlotte. He underwent abdominal surgery while in the hospital and had been in critical condition for several days. His family were called to his bedside on Sunday, he did rally a bit but remained critical.
Doc Watson performing in New York in 2005.
Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Arthel "Doc" Watson was born March 3, 1923, and lost his eyesight when he developed an eye infection that was worsened by a congenital vascular disorder, according to a website for Merlefest, the annual musical gathering named for his late son Merle.

Doc Watson came from a musical family. His father was active in the church choir and played banjo and his mother sang secular and religious songs, according to a statement from Folklore Productions, his management company since 1964.
Watson learned a few guitar chords while attending the North Carolina Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, and his father helped him buy a Stella guitar for $12.

"My real interest in music was the old 78 records and the sound of the music," Doc Watson is quoted as saying on the website. "I loved it and began to realize that one of the main sounds on those old records I loved was the guitar."

The wavy-haired Watson got his musical start in 1953, playing electric lead guitar in a country-and-western swing band. His road to fame began in 1960 when Ralph Rinzler, a musician who also managed Bill Monroe, discovered Watson in North Carolina. That led Watson to the Newport Folk Festival in 1963 and his first recording contract a year later. He went on to record 60 albums, and wowed fans ranging from '60s hippies to those who loved traditional country and folk music.

According to the Encyclopedia of Country Music, Watson took his nickname at age 19 when someone couldn’t pronounce his name and a girl in the audience shouted “Call him Doc!”

Seven of his albums won Grammy awards; his eighth Grammy was a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. He also received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1997.
There may not be a serious, committed baby boomer alive who didn’t at some point in his or her youth try to spend a few minutes at least trying to learn to pick a guitar like Doc Watson,” Clinton said at the time.

In 1947 Doc married Rosa Lee Carlton, the daughter of a local fiddler. The couple’s first child, Merle, took up the guitar and began performing with his father in 1964. Their partnership, which produced 20 albums. But Merle Watson died at age 36 in a 1985 tractor accident in Lenoir, sending his father into deep grief and making him consider retirement. Instead, he kept playing and started Merlefest, an annual musical event in Wilkesboro, N.C., that raises money for a community college there and celebrates "traditional plus" music.

"When Merle and I started out we called our music 'traditional plus,' meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles we were in the mood to play," Doc Watson is quoted as saying on the festival's website. "Since the beginning, the people of the college and I have agreed that the music of MerleFest is 'traditional plus.'"

You could hear the mountains of North Carolina in Doc Watson's music. The rush of a mountain stream, the steady creak of a mule in leather harness plowing rows in topsoil and the echoes of ancient sounds made by a vanishing people were an intrinsic part of the folk musician's powerful, homespun sound.

It took Watson decades to make a name for himself outside the world of Deep Gap, N.C. Once he did, he ignited the imaginations of countless guitar players who learned the possibilities of the instrument from the humble picker who never quite went out of style. From the folk revival of the 1960s to the Americana movement of the 21st century, Watson remained a constant source of inspiration and a treasured touchstone before his death on Tuesday.

Blind from the age of 1, Watson was left to listen to the world around him and it was as if he heard things differently from others. Though he knew how to play the banjo and harmonica from an early age, he came to favor the guitar. His flat-picking style helped translate the fiddle- and mandolin-dominated music of his forebears for an audience of younger listeners who were open to the tales that had echoed off the mountains for generations, and to the new lead role for the guitar.

"Overall, Doc will be remembered as one of America's greatest folk musicians. I would say he's one of America's greatest musicians," said David Holt, a longtime friend and collaborator who compared Watson to Lead Belly, Bill Monroe, Muddy Waters and Earl Scruggs.
Doc Watson performs at the 2009 New Orleans
 Jazz & Heritage Festival
May 1, 2009.

Like those pioneering players, Watson took a regional sound and made it into something larger, a piece of American culture that reverberates for decades after the notes are first played.

"He had a great way of presenting traditional songs and making them accessible to a modern audience," Holt said. "Not just accessible, but truly engaging."

Touched and toughened by tragedy several times in life, Watson had proven his mettle repeatedly.
Singer Ricky Skaggs called Watson "an old ancient warrior."
"He prepared all of us to carry this on," Skaggs said. "He knew he wouldn't last forever. He did his best to carry the old mountain sounds to this generation."

Watson's simple, unadorned voice conveyed an unexpected amount of emotion, but it was his guitar playing that always amazed — and intimidated. Countless guitarists have tried to emulate Watson's renditions of songs such as "Tennessee Stud," ''Shady Grove" and "Deep River Blues."

Mandolin player Sam Bush remembers feeling that way when he first sat down next to "the godfather of all flatpickers" in 1974.

"But Doc puts you at ease about that kind of stuff," Bush said. "I never met a more generous kind of musician. He is more about the musical communication than showing off with hot licks. ... He seems to always know what notes to play. They're always the perfect notes. He helped me learn the space between the notes is as valuable as the ones you play."

Doc Watson Statue
In 2011, a life-size statue of Watson was dedicated in Boone, N.C. At Watson's request the inscription read, "Just One of the People," echoing a statement he'd once made to Holt about how he'd like to be remembered.

"Just as a good ol' down-to-earth boy that didn't think he was perfect and that loved music," Watson said. "And I'd like to leave quite a few friends behind and I hope I will. Other than that, I don't want nobody putting me on a pedestal when I leave here. I'm just one of the people ... just me."
The statue, a brainchild of John Cooper of The Mast General Store was installed and unveiled on Friday, June 24th, 2011. (Read more and see photos at )

Mr. Watson is survived by his wife; his daughter, Nancy Ellen; a brother, David; two grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.

SOURCES – Associated Press,, NY Times, Facebook

PHOTO - The Statue of with flowers in honour of the memory of Doc Watson on King Street in Downtown Boone, North Carolina - Image

Ricky Skaggs - "An old ancient warrior has gone home. He prepared all of us to carry this on. He knew he wouldn't last forever. He did his best to carry the old mountain sounds to this generation."  (Press Statement)

The MerleFest family:  offers its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Doc Watson: beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, friend and musician.  His impact on music and culture will be felt accross the globe for generations.
(MerleFest was founded in 1988 in Memory of Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and to celebrate "traditional plus" music)

Sam Bush: “I don’t think anyone personifies what we call Americana more than Doc Watson.”

Matraca Berg - “Our beloved Doc Watson has left this realm. Merle is waiting will miss you sweet man. so hard to think Doc and Earl Scruggs not with us...” (Facebook)

Steve Martin - "Ouch. The great bluegrass legend Doc Watson is gone. Check out the song Tennessee Stud to get his essence." (Twitter)

Rosanne Cash lamented -  "To lose Earl Scruggs, Levon Helm and Doc Watson in one year is just too, too much" (Twitter)

Chely Wright -  "Rest in peace".  (Twitter)

A Page Feature on Doc Watson at the  New York Times


Doc Watson & Earl Scruggs play At Doc's Home, vintage footage that was not available to the public for over 30 years >> YouTube

Doc Watson solo in 1991 Performing "Deep River Blue"s >> YouTube

David Holt and Doc Watson perform the song "Shady Grove” on December 5, 1998 at the Valborg Theatre on the campus of Appalacian State University >>  YouTube 

Doc Watson Sculpture
(Facebook Image)

Interview March 2011 with John Cooper (Downtown Boone Development Association) on The Doc Watson Sculpture. “We just thought it was a wonderful idea to have a tribute to him downtown where he really got his start." John Cooper -


a) Fresh Air Remembers Traditional Music Legend Doc Watson (interview was originally broadcast on March 24, 1988)  -

b) Doc Watson Mountain Stage performance
which was originally published Oct. 11, 2010.
Even at 87 years old, no one can pick like Watson, who runs through a string of his most-loved and recognizable material. He's accompanied by David Holt on banjo and Mountain Stage bassist Steve Hill.

More Doc Watson Audio at NPR Radio  

Saturday 26 May 2012

Billboard Music Awards 2012 (Winners & Fashion)

Billboard Music Awards 2012 (Winners & Fashion)

Adele was the biggest winner at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 20, 2012. She took home an incredible twelve trophies off the strength of her Grammy-winning album 21 and singles such as the chart-topping "Rolling in the Deep”

Billboard Country Winners!
Jason Aldean won two awards and Lady Antebellum won one in the three country categories.
Jason’s career has risen to new heights over the past year and he was awarded for his accomplishments on the  night. Jason won the award for Top Country Album for his MY KINDA PARTY album. He also took home the Billboard Music Award for Top Country Song for ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ from that album.

Lady Antebellum has had yet another big year over the past 12 months, both regarding their music and personel lifes (2 weddings!) . Their songs have topped the country singles charts. Their albums have sold millions of copies and their concerts have sold out nationwide.
On the Sunday night the reigning ACM and CMA Vocal Group of the Year took home the title Top Country Artist beating out heavyweights Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and the Zac Brown Band for the Billboard Country Music Award. They were not present as they were on their sold out Own The Night 2012 World Tour with a date in Columbia, MD to honour.  
We hated not being in Vegas for the Billboard Awards, but we got to celebrate the win with our fans on tour, and that was extra special," said Lady A's Charles Kelley.   Our backstage tiki bar Club Labellum rocked a little harder than usual last night!

Taylor Swift grabs "Woman of the Year"
Taylor Swift
Accepts her Billboard
Woman of The Year Award

The only other country artist to win an award at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards was Taylor Swift.
Taylor was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year.
Looking positively stunning in her red vampish Elie Saab gown Taylor she was worthy of the gong. She basically shut down all competition when she stepped out on the white carpet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas looking red hot for the Billboard awards.
New Girl actress Zooey Deschanel was very complimentory to Miss Swift when she presented her with the award. In her acceptance speech Taylor was quick to thank her fans for their support.

She said: ‘Thanks to so many people, but mostly my family and everyone who helped me get here. My fans. I love you so much. I am so humbled. Thank you to Kris Kristofferson and Zooey Deschanel for coming out her for this. Billboard, thank you, all the fans, I just love you.’

Now just 22, Swift may be a worldwide phenomenon, but she’s still just a humble young girl at heart, something she outwardly admits. “I’m so humbled and honored by this,” she told the crowd at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards when she got a chance to take the mic.
Though it’s been just six years or so since she saw her first song hit the charts, Swift’s career has been full of huge achievements. Sporting a red dress and shaking her head in disbelief, Swift gave a little tribute of her own, thanking Billboard, her fans and those who took time to present her the award.  (Press Room Photo)

Billboard Awards 2012  Taylor Swift awarded Woman of the Year  >>   YouTube

•Spotlight Award: Katy Perry
•Woman of the Year: Taylor Swift
•Millennium Award: Whitney Houston
•Billboard Music Icon Award: Stevie Wonder

Top Artist: Adele
Top Female Artist:Adele
Top Billboard 200 Artist: Adele
Top Hot 100 Artist: Adele
Top Country Artist:Lady Antebellum

Top Billboard 200 Album: Adele "21"
Top Country Album: Jason Aldean "My Kinda Party"

Top Country Song: Jason Aldean "Dirt Road Anthem"

Full Listing for the all winners for The 2012 Billboard Music Awards at

2012 Billboard Music Awards Fashion

Taylor wearing the Elie Saab gown

Taylor Swift - The “Mean” singer wore a scarlet red chiffon gown with a lace panel bodice from the Pre-Fall 2012 collection by Elie Saab.
The dress featured a sexy thigh high slit but unfortunately she gave the Angelina moves a miss. The lace detailing at the front of Taylor’s dress was risqué, the strategically placed material and high neckline protected her modesty and any unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions.

Taylor wore her long blonde hair out; reminiscent of the model who wore this Saab dress for the catalog (see Image

Tay Tay finished her look with burgundy eyeshadow, Neil Lane diamond and platinum leaf earrings (she also wore a matching ring) and Elie Saab heels. 

Carrie Underwood – The Blown Away singer opted for a “Cinderalla princess moment” when she arrived at the MGM Grand in a frothy gown. She definitely giving Taylor Swift some competition in the Barbie category.
The 29-year old “Good Girl” singer choose a silver and rose gown from the Fall 2012 collection by Oscar de la Renta. The bodice is tightly spun while the ball gown skirt is made up of layers and layers of colorful tulle tufts.
Carrie certainly pulled it off, she’s known for her fairytale inspired, candy-pink dresses.  
Carrie wore her long blonde tresses in voluminous cascading curls before finishing off her look with a Oscar de la Renta  pearl and crystal sapphire “Cara” vanity case (see Accessorie Pic)  and a pair of silver glitter open toe, platform “Luna” pumps by Jimmy Choo. Dark eye makeup and a nude lip shade completed her look.

Carrie changed out of her fluffy tulle gown in favor of a crimson dress to perform her single “Blown Away”.
She wore a red silk mousseline “Irene” gown from the Fall 2012 collection by Romanian designer Maria Lucia Hohan. ( See Photo)
The dress featured a pretty shoulder embellishment, which attached to a long sash, and Carrie defined her waist, as the fabric swirled around her, with a rosegold satin ribbon belt. Under the bright lights of the stage the nude underlining appeared gold. The dress was illuminating against her long blonde ringlets

Carrie Underwood performing Blown Away at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards
 >> YouTube
Julianne Hough – The Country/pop singer, dancer and film actress arrived at the MGM Grand tonight in Las Vegas for the 2012 Billboard Music Awards wearing a sparkling silver, crystal cocktail dress by KaufmanFranco.
The “Footloose” actress flaunted her dancer legs in a pair of gold slingback, platform peep toe pumps by Nicholas Kirkwood. She kept her make-up very, very light before finishing off her look with side-parted wavy locks that showed off her drop H. Stern earrings. Julianne also wore a matching ring.
However does her dress look like a bedazzled towel, certainly a very pretty towel, it gathered at the top and fell asymmetrically across her body. Yes the lovely Julianne Hough looked like she wrapped a sparkly bath towel around herself after a shower and walked out the hotel door. ( Photo 1Photo 2 )

Miley Cyrus -  On first appearances she was wearing a tuxedo dress to the 2012 Billboard Music Awards but no! Sporting a rather risqué look she wasn’t in fact wearing a tuxedo dress — it was just a jacket. 
Miley Cyrus wearing
Jean Paul Gaultier

Miley wore a white version of a double-breasted tuxedo blazer and mini dress from the Spring 2012 collection by Jean Paul Gaultier. (See Fashion Image)

The neckline was a little skewered, the fabric was sprawly, an all-around bad fit? She allowed for a side boob view with no top or bra underneath.  

The 19-year-old Miley accessorized with Jacquie Aiche jewels delicate gold body chain, a rose gold and diamond Karma El Khalil ring and black and white striped, pin heel Christian Louboutin “Armadillo Bride ” ankle-strap peep-toes sandals. Her hair was too teased. A voluminous do, kohl-rimmed eyes and a pink pout completed her look.  ( Photo 1Photo 2 )

Natasha Bedingfield  - You may remember she performed with Rascal Flatts at the November 2011 CMA Awards in a collaboration with them singing Lionel Richie’s  “Easy” with them in much heart and soul mode. On this Billboard Music Awards occasion she paid tribute to the late Donna Summer who died Thursday (May 17) following a battle with cancer, with a rendition of Summer’s hit “Last Dance”.
The English singer arrived to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas wearing an embellished aqua gown, but changed into this black number, from the Fall 2012 collection by Christian Siriano, for the performance. ( See Fashion Photo)
Siriano designed this long-sleeve black gown with a sheer bodice completely embroidered with feather detailing. The bodice connected to a long silk black skirt with a high slit at the side. Natasha for obvious TV reasons didn’t wear this dress as it was presented on the catwalk runway because of the exposed chest, but her totally visible bra didn’t provide the answer. A strapless bustier or Dress modifications over sensitive areas may have better suited.

She wore a flower in her hair and lacking physical height the balance wasn’t quite right with the long black train and opting for light colored shoes didn’t seem to compliment the dramatic feel of the dark design.
Natasha Bedingfield singing Donna’s Academy Award-winning Thank God It’s Friday soundtrack hit “Last Dance” as photos of the disco legend are flashed behind her. She got cut short by an ill-timed commercial break
** Natasha Bedingfield stepped in to pay tribute to Donna Summer >>  You Tube 
Natasha Bedingfield

On the night Natasha also wore a see-through seafoam princess gown. A beautiful colour but it looked a bit heavy for something made from such sheer fabric, with all the embellishments scattered around the top half to keep it from being too revealing. 

Zooey Deschanel – The New Girl” actress was among the stars at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards to present Taylor Swift with her award.

Zooey hit the white carpet in a silver embellished sleeveless cocktail dress with cream trim from the Fall 2012 collection by Moschino. (See Fashion Photo)
Zooey is a fan of with the style of the 1960s theme. Did the black tights and matching open toe Miu Miu pumps do her look justice with her chic mini dress?.
Horn-shaped dangling earrings and Miu Miu black pumps accessorized her look and she sported an orange lip colour.

Brandy Norwood - The singer wore a Herve Leger by Max Azria Spring 2012 bandage dress. (See Fashion Photo)
Her curve-enhancing mauve-coloured fringed bandage dress with rose-gold metal accents was style with rose-gold metallic Christian Louboutin bow-accented ‘Lady Peep’ slingbacks. The rest of her accessories included a gold leopard-print clutch and a selection of London Manori statement jewels. Her tight voluminous curls give this look a retro Diana Ross vibe. Smoky eyes and a neutral lip colour provided the finishing touches.

Mayra Veronica – The Cuban-born, American-raised model and singer arrives at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards  - Photo !!!
Bleona Qereti - Is known as the 'Albanian Madonna' . She's had eight number one albums in her home country (maybe they don't sell actual Madonna albums there) and now she wants to crack America. From the looks of this pic she knows just what it takes to make it BIG in Tinseltown. – Photo !

Billboard Fashion disaster?

Weird? - Estonian singer Kerli’s kookiest outfit. Do you like the stuffed animal platform shoes?  Photo

Country Attendees
Caroline Bryan and Luke Bryan arrive at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards – Photo
(Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America)

Kris Kristofferson and singer Joey Fatone arrive at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards - Photo

BBMA 2012 Photo Galleries: Red Carpet, Performances, Behind The Scenes, Candids – Link

SOURCES –, Getty Images, Zimbio,,
Photo Images - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America

Saturday 5 May 2012

Country Bites News snippets April 30 – May 5, 2012

Country Bites News snippets April 30 – May 5, 2012

Congratulations to Belle Cannon whose song ‘Party‘ is top of the ECMA Country Music National Charts in France.

The Sun reports that Katy Perry now wants to ditch her raunchy style and be a wholesome country singer, just like Patty Griffin.
Katy said: “I’ve always wanted to make something like an acoustic record. “My favourite record is Patty Griffin’s Flaming Red. I discovered it when I was in Nashville. “I definitely want to do a Patty Griffin-esque thing at some point. It’s something that I’m really excited about because I know I can do it and I haven’t really played that card yet.”

Southern Fried Festival, Scotland's biggest and best festival of American roots music returns to Perth for the fifth year in 2012 from Friday 27 to Saturday 29 July. Covering all the American Roots music bases including blues, country, Cajun, gospel, swing and soul, Southern Fried Festival is a little nugget of Americana in the rolling Scottish countryside.
2012's line-up includes: John Prine, Johnny Cash: Songwriter, Gretchen Peters, Darrell Scott, Ruthie Foster, Carrie Rodriguez, My Darling Clementine, Lera Lynn, The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker, Anaïs Mitchell, Jeb Loy Nichols, Bap Kennedy, Niki King and the Elements and The City Sinners.

Million seller Isla Grant made a triumphant return to The Maltings on Tuesday 25 April when she entertained a full house to an eclectic two hour show. After an eventful start to her Scottish tour which saw both her and husband and band member Al suffer nasty falls, Isla was told by doctors to rest easy but she told her captive audience there was no way she’d miss a Berwick gig.
And those who turned out to see her certainly seemed glad she’d solidered on. Crowd favourite ‘Single Yellow Rose’, ‘Old Accordion Man’ (Isla’s tribute to the late Jimmy Shand) and ‘We’ll Meet Again My Friends’ brought the show to a fitting close and a high octane encore ensured everyone went home happy. Isla’s diary is pretty much full for the next two years!

Lisa McHugh’s new album DREAMS COME TO LIFE was released on Monday 30 April on Rosette Records. Lisa hails from Glasgow and now lives in Donegal, Ireland where she has become one of Ireland’s brightest Country stars. She is to appear at the CMA International Showcase in Nashville during the CMA Festival in June.
Listen to her album on Spotify - Lisa McHugh – Dreams Come To Life
In this edited interview Lisa talked to Stewart Fenwick on Celtic Music Radio (Broadcast Sunday 29April) >>  Listen Here   

This Sunday, May 6, at 2.30pm Daniel O'Donnell will be in, Co Donegal, for the official opening of the Daniel O'Donnell Visitor's Centre. This centre, which will exhibit all his memorabilia and give a history of his career on video, is the brainchild of Daniel’s friend and local businessman Pat 'Nora' Gallagher
Daniel is to receive the freedom of the Donegal. The millionaire singer, 50, is to be given the award after an announcement by Mayor of Donegal Cllr Noel McBride said the award is being made in recognition of Daniel’s “outstanding contribution” as an ambassador for his native county.
Daniel will be conferred with the Freedom of Donegal at a ceremony on June 22nd at County House in Lifford.

Gretchen Peters UK Festival Dates, she will be joined onstage by the legendary bassist Danny Thompson for select UK festival dates (#) including Isle of Wight, Cornbury and our Main Stage appearance at Cambridge Folk Festival on 28 July
22 June: Isle of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight, UK # ,
29 June: Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire, UK #
30 June: Maverick Festival, Suffolk, UK
27-28 July: Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridge, UK #
29 July: Southern Fried Festival, Perth, Scotland.
Note - Gretchen latest album HELLO CRUEL WORLD is being released this month
on vinyl - check out the folks at Diverse Records! - 
** Gretchen is already looking to 2013! She plays Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on Friday 15 March 2013 (£17.50 + £1.75 booking)

After his success of his 6 song set at Wembley’s International Festival of Country Music in February Will Banister will be making a welcome return to Britain in September. It is planned that a new CD will be available to coincide with the tour.
He will be backed by the highly acclaimed C’est La Vie, with support by Banister’s record producer/manager Johnny Mulhair, he is set to appear at the following venues:
Thursday 20 Sept:      United Services Club, Precott Road, Widnes WA8 7PD
Friday 21 Sept:    Leeds Irish Centre, York Road, Leeds LS9 9NT
Saturday 22 Sept:    Wayland Academy, Mertn Road, Watton IP25 6BA
Sunday 23 Sept:    Freds Place, Plains Road, Maaperly, Nottingham NG3 5RH

Irish singer songwriter Pete Kennedy will be opening for Neil Sedaka's UK Shows Oct 6 - Oct 24, 2012 - Dates

Gary Curtis
Single Artwoork (Amazon)

Essex based UK artist Gary Curtis is promoting a new single "Life is for the Living" in aid of CANCER RESEARCH UK. Gary is a comfortable Hotdisc chart topper in the British & Irish Top 10 and has been at #2 on the Hotdisc Top 40 for several weeks.
In this interview Lee Williams from CMR Nashville talks to Gary about the charity single – Audio Link
The Music video features James Bond and Hammer horror girl Caroline Munro and from 'Allo 'Allo and Doctor Who Herr Flick himself Richard Gibson.  >>   YouTube
The songLife Is for the Living” is available on AMAZON.UK as a pre-order (release date July 1) and from other major download sites. 

Carrie Underwood's June 21 concert at London's Royal Albert Hall has already has sold out. "I'll be in the U.K., and I get to go back to Australia," Carrie says. "I went to Australia last year and met some wonderful people, just to get familiar with the area and what they're all about. It was really great, obviously, because we're going back. Then I get to sing in London, which is exciting”. at London's Royal Albert Hall, show sold out in just 90 minutes. Some online third party brokers (touts) who deals in Sold-Out events and premium seated tickets i.e. Front Row Tickets, First 10 Row Tickets seem to have their hands on the remainder!
Carrie's North American shows will feature talented newcomer Hunter Hayes and plans call for $1 from each ticket to support Red Cross disaster relief. Additional international concert dates are to be announced soon.

Taylor Swift now has an Official UK Online Store - LINK .

Taylor Swift Clothing also available on


Vince Gill sets 12 Bluegrass Shows in America for June 13 – June 23 Dates. Sarah Jarosz will open .
Vince will be backed by a band made up of some of the most acclaimed pickers in contemporary music, specifically fiddler Stuart Duncan, guitarist Jeff White, banjoist Jim Mills and bassist Dennis Crouch. Gill will round out the band on guitar, mandolin and vocals. “After the passing of Earl Scruggs [on March 28],” Gill says, “it means the world to me to do these dates with this world-class band playing the music that Earl defined. I absolutely adore this music.”

Yep Roc Records is pleased to announce the June 26th, 2012 release of SIGHT & SOUND, a two-disc audio and video collection from North Carolina based Chatham County Line. Sight & Sound includes 20 live tracks drawing from all five albums of the band's decade-long career. Nine songs appear on both the audio CD/LP and the DVD; four are exclusive to the DVD, while the CD/LP expands the collection with seven more tracks.

Levon Helm, former drummer and singer for The Band and Woodstock icon, was buried Friday 27th April at the Woodstock Cemetery. Helm, who died April 19 at age 71 after a long battle with throat cancer, was buried next to former bandmate and bassist Rick Danko, who died in 1999.Mourners filled the Town of Woodstock Friday to pay final respects to music legend Levon Helm.
They came from near and far to pay their respects and some said their debts to Woodstock's favorite son Friday.
Levon Helm was laid to rest at the Woodstock Cemetery to the joyous sounds of a New Orleans funeral parade who helped bring Levon Helm to his final resting place. It was a private funeral service that still drew a crowd of several hundred people who feel that they lost a friend. Photos

After weeks of Shelby Lynne’s tour gear shipment being missing after a show in Virginia, it now considered stolen

Famed country yodeler Kenny Roberts has died at age 85. His death was reported on Sunday, April 29. He was known as “Yodeling Kenny Roberts” and as “America’s King of the Yodelers.”

Eric Church Graphic
When a Rolling Stone article on Eric Church appeared on the internet Monday (image) and quoted Church being critical of artists, including Blake Shelton, who participated in televised talent searches -- feelings were hurt and tempers flared. And thanks to Twitter, those feelings were made public immediately. Shelton, a mentor on NBC’s The Voice, tweeted a link to coverage of the story saying: “I wish I misunderstood this…
Miranda Lambert, Shelton’s wife and former Nashville Star finalist, followed with: “Thanks Eric Church for saying I'm not a real artist. Or @kelly_clarkson, @carrieunderwood & @KeithUrban. You're welcome for the tour in 2010.”
Clarkson and Underwood are previous American Idol winners, and Urban is currently a mentor on the Australian version of The Voice.
Church’s offending comments included: “Honestly, if Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green turn around in a red chair, you got a deal? That’s crazy. I don’t know what would make an artist do that. You’re not an artist.”
Church was also quoted as saying: “If I was concerned about my legacy, there’s no way I would ever sit there [and be a reality-show judge]. Once your career becomes about something other than the music, then that’s what it is. I’ll never make that mistake.”
Late Monday night the “Springsteen” singer issued a statement through his publicist explaining that the quotes were not meant as a slam against artists who participated in the shows but were intended to be a swipe at the idea created by televised talent shows that there was a shortcut to success.
I apologize to anybody I offended in trying to shed light on this issue,” Church said. “I am grateful for all of the artists and fans that have supported me along my journey and certainly did not mean for my comments to undermine their talent and achievements.”

The Americana Music Association will hold its ‘An Americana Summer Celebration’ on July 20-21. The event will once again take place at Blackberry Farm (located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee) and feature Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal, John Oates and Jim Lauderdale. Funds raised will go to the not-for-profit artist advocacy group.“We are honored that artists of this caliber will be participating in our Americana Summer Celebration,” Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association, said. “This event has become an important fundraiser and highly anticipated precursor to our ever-growing fall festival in Nashville. We’re curating our third musical weekend at Blackberry Farm and it just gets better and better.”

Are country king and queen Tim McGraw and Faith Hill about to sign contracts to topple their pal Garth Brooks from his lofty reign on the Las Vegas Strip? The Las Vegas Sun reports they’ll sign on for a series of weekend concerts from November to April to be in competition with Garth. The deal would be for concerts in an 1,800-seat theater within a guitar pick’s throw of Steve Wynn’s Encore Theater where Garth headlines. It’s so close to being signed that Tim and Faith have scrapped plans to go out on tour together so they can enjoy a residency here.

Jessica Simpson is a new mum. Simpson gave birth to a daughter named Maxwell Drew Johnson in Los Angeles on Tuesday, said publicist Lauren Auslander. Maxwell weighed 9 lbs 13 ounces (4.45 kg). It's the first child for 31-year-old Simpson and her 32-year-old fiance Eric Johnson, a former NFL player.
"We are so grateful for all of the love, support and prayers we have received," Simpson said in a statement on her website.
"This has been the greatest experience of our lives!!"  (AP)

ASCAP Writers celebrated a George Strait #1 Party this week to celebrate songwriters Chris Stapleton and Al Anderson along with publishers Sea Gayle Music Publishing, Small Fish Music, Big Yellow Dog Music, producer Tony Brown and UMG Nashville on George Strait’s latest hit single “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright”. This is ASCAP songwriter Chris Stapleton’s 4th #1 Song. His previous #1s are “Come Back Song” (Darius Rucker), “Never Wanted Nothing More” (Kenny Chesney), and “Your Man” (Josh Tuner). To date, Stapleton has had 12 Charting singles and cuts with many artists including Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton, Gary Allan, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley, Adele, Lee Ann Womack, Dierks Bentley, Trace Adkins, and Tim McGraw.

Alan Jackson will take to the Grand Ole Opry stage on May 8 and give a sneak peek performance of selections from his upcoming album "Thirty Miles West" out June 5. This is Jackson's first disc under a deal between ACR (Alan's Country Records) and EMI Records Nashville. During a 30-minute set, Jackson will perform some of his greatest hits along with the new material

Mark D.Saunders

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Mark D. Sanders will take a seat at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum on Saturday, May 26, as the latest subject of the quarterly programming series Poets and Prophets: Legendary Country Songwriters. He has written 14 No. 1 hits, 50 singles, and over 200 cuts  Sanders' body of work includes contemporary country classics such as "I Hope You Dance," "Heads Carolina, Tails California," "It Matters to Me" and "Blue Clear Sky." The list of artists who have recorded Sanders' songs reads like a who's who of country stars over the past 30 years: Trace Adkins, John Anderson, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Lonestar, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Jo Dee Messina, John Michael Montgomery, George Strait, Josh Turner, Clay Walker, Lee Ann Womack and more.
Mark Daniel Sanders, born in Los Angeles in 1950, eased into songwriting after writing poetry in his teens and studying literature in college. After a stint as a teacher, Sanders became passionate about creating music and decided to try to make songwriting his profession when he was 29.
Sanders moved to Nashville in 1980 with his first bundle of original songs and landed a publishing deal with Acuff-Rose Publications in less than two years. His first cut was "A Matter of Wine" by Mel Tillis in 1983. Sanders worked as a substitute teacher and a tour bus driver while he honed his craft. After cuts by Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea and others, Sanders began the 1990s with a song ("Victim of the Game") on Garth Brooks' blockbuster album No Fences. Soon came a long string of chart singles starting with "Mirror, Mirror" by Diamond Rio. Co-written with Bob DiPiero and John Jarrard, the song went to #3 on the Billboard country chart in 1991."Mirror, Mirror" was followed by "Runnin' Behind" (Tracy Lawrence), "Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy" (Chris LeDoux and Garth Brooks) and "Money in the Bank" (John Anderson).

The mid-1990s were banner years for Sanders. He scored #1s with "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" (Trace Adkins), "No News" (Lonestar), "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (Reba McEntire),"Daddy's Money" (Ricochet), "Blue Clear Sky" (George Strait) and many others. Sanders won ASCAP's Country Songwriter of the Year honor in 1997, while on staff at McEntire's Starstruck Publishing.
Though Sanders has written some of the most popular contemporary country songs, his most-awarded song is the inspirational ballad "I Hope You Dance." Co-written with Tia Sillers and a chart topper for Lee Ann Womack for five consecutive weeks, the song won the Best Country Song Grammy in 2000 and was named Song of the Year by virtually every country music industry organization including ASCAP, BMI, NSAI, the CMA and the ACM. 

  Jewel will play country-music legend June Carter Cash in a Lifetime biopic about the former wife and musical partner of Johnny Cash, the network said Thursday.

The TV film, which bears the working title "The June Carter Cash Story," is based on her son John Carter Cash's book "Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash." The biopic will begin filming in early summer in Atlanta, for a premiere later this year.

Randy Houser joined Stoney Creek Records in late 2011. Named the Most Played New Artist of the Year in 2009 by Mediabase, previous hit singles include “Boots On,” “Whistlin’ Dixie” and “Anything Goes." Now he’s back with an upbeat, addictive new single, “How Country Feels,” impacting radio Monday, May 7. “How Country Feels” is Randy’s first single release on Stoney Creek Records and serves as a sneak-peek of what fans can expect from his third album that will hit stores later this year.
"My entire life has changed since my last single, I mean in every way," shares Randy. "I got married to my beautiful wife, have an amazing baby boy, and a passionate new label team that feels more like family.  One thing that has not changed though is my passion to make music and grow as an artist.  I'm so excited about 'How Country Feels' and the reaction I'm getting out on the road when playing it live”

Jerry Douglas will release a new album title TRAVELER on June 26.
From the press release: With Traveler, Jerry has finally recorded an album that will even further elevate his already impressive stature from super-sideman to a bona fide front-rank creator of musical Americana. Produced by Russ Titelman (Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Ry Cooder, Little Feat, etc.), and recorded in New Orleans, Nashville, and London, this ambitious collection of vocals and instrumentals enlists a truly awesome cast of characters in support of an epic vision that combines Country/Bluegrass, R&B, and even a ballad with roots in the British Isles (Paul Simons The Boxer performed with Mumford & Sons and the song s composer.) Other highlights include two New Orleans classics--- Something You Got, with vocals and guitar by Eric Clapton; and High Blood Pressure, with vocals by Keb Mo and a gang of the Crescent City s finest including Dr. John.

Shawn Colvin, whose new album, ALL FALL DOWN, is due out June 5, will preview tracks from the album at NYC’s City Winery on June 4. The show will be broadcast live on New York's WFUV, 90.7 FM, streaming live at

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 30 – 2012 is shaping up to be one of the busiest and most rewarding years of Kenny Rogers legendary career.
a) Kenny Rogers is currently putting the finishing touches on his first autobiography, scheduled for a fall 2012 release by HarperCollins. Jam-packed with fascinating stories from life on and off the stage, it’s bound to be one of the most talked about books this year. “I have to admit I've had an incredible life,” Rogers commented.“Once I started actually recalling some of the special moments, I was shocked as to how much fun it was for me.  I would hope that as you read this book, you get a sense of where I came from, who I am, and where I’m going.”
b) Rogers will take the Ford Theater stage as the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s 2012 Artist-in-Residence in Nashville on May 9th and 10th. c) He has also  joined the lineup for this year’s edition of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (June 7th-10th).  Kenny will also perform at this year’s CMA Music Festival in Nashville on June 9th
d) Kenny’s has added new tour dates in New Zealand and Australia.  e) Kenny’s most recent release, his first gospel album, THE LOVE OF GOD, became his 21st Top 10 country album here in North America.  The critically acclaimed album will be re-released under the new name Faith by Wrasse Records in Europe digitally on May 14th and in stores on May 28th.
f) Kenny will begin recording a brand new studio album this year with producer Dann Huff , Huff previously worked with Kenny on 2006’s Water & Bridges.

(CMA News - May 03, 2012) NASHVILLE – The reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Miranda Lambert and fan favorite group Little Big Town have joined the performer lineup for the Nightly Concerts at LP Field held during 2012 CMA Music Festival. The event takes place Thursday through Sunday, June 7-10, in downtown Nashville, and will once again be filmed for an ABC television special to air in late summer.
Lambert will perform on Thursday, June 7, and Little Big Town will perform on Saturday, June 9. 
Also during the Nightly Concerts at LP Field, Sarah Darling, Nashville School of Arts Chamber Choir (under the directon of Walter Bitner), Oak Ridge Boys, and Julie Roberts will each perform the National Anthem.

The current lineups for the Nightly Concerts are as follows in alphabetical order:
Thursday, June 7:  Jason Aldean, Glen Campbell, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, and Zac Brown Band. National Anthem performed by the Nashville School of Arts Chamber Choir (under the direction of Walter Bitner).
Friday, June 8:  The Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert, Ronnie Milsap, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, and Carrie Underwood. National Anthem performed by the Oak Ridge Boys.
Saturday, June 9:  Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, and Kenny Rogers. National Anthem performed by Julie Roberts.
Sunday, June 10: Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, The Mavericks, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, and Rascal Flatts. National Anthem performed by Sarah Darling.

NASHVILLE – May 1, 2012
Beginning June 11, the legendary Nashville band The Time Jumpers will relocate from the Station Inn, where it has performed nearly every Monday night since June 9, 1999, to the recently renovated and enlarged 3rd & Lindsley nightclub near downtown Nashville.  
The band is making the change primarily to accommodate audiences that have been growing since it was nominated for two Grammy awards in 2008.  Fans are now routinely turned away for lack of seating. 
"We are looking forward to making 3rd & Lindsley our new home,” says bandleader Kenny Sears. “The larger venue will enable us to accommodate our fans in a more comfortable way.  We are so grateful to [owner] J. T. Gray and the Station Inn for taking a chance on us 13 years ago and giving us a place to play our music.  Leaving here is truly like leaving home." 
The Time Jumpers is made up of prominent studio and touring musicians.  The 11-member western swing band is comprised of Kenny Sears, Joe Spivey, Vince Gill, “Ranger” Doug Green, Andy Reiss, Paul Franklin, Dennis Crouch, Larry Franklin, Dawn Sears, Jeff Taylor and Billy Thomas.

Julie Roberts Artwork
As a part of the University of South Carolina's (USC) 'Carolina Promise' campaign, USC alum and country music artist Julie Roberts has written and recorded "Sweet Carolina," a special song honoring her home state and beloved University.

"I went to the University of South Carolina-Lancaster my first two years of college and received an amazing education and strong foundation for the rest of my life," she says. Co-written and produced by Jason Collum, "Sweet Carolina" gives Roberts a way to help out the campaign and honor the place she calls home. This new song is currently available for purchase on CD Baby

'Dark Corners: The Appalachian Ballad'—by Julyan Davis exhibited at Greenville County Museum of Art
An excellent art exhibit is happening in Greenville, South Carolina.
British artist Julyan Davis has painted the South for more than twenty years—empty rooms in abandoned mansions, state fairs, vanishing scenes from the Outer Banks to the Delta.
The Greenville County Museum of Art showcases his exciting new focus on Appalachian love songs and murder ballads.
This exhibit runs from May 5 through July 1st. It will continue to Morris Museum in Augusta Georgia.

From the release:
“Has love ever made you want to throw yourself off a bridge, or throw someone else off a bridge?” Davis asks. “These paintings interpret some of the South’s oldest songs, placing them in modern day settings to remind us that nothing really changes. Lovers still fall prey to despair and suicide, or end up in the crime report.”
Such music drew Davis to the South directly from art school in London. He’s brought its colorful culture and history alive on canvas ever since.
“Sometimes it takes an outsider to draw attention to the strangeness of the everyday,” Davis says, “The British director Ridley Scott made telephone poles beautiful in 'Thelma and Louise.'  That’s what I seek in my work: to find the sublime hidden in the familiar, the revelatory moment that comes at us without warning.
As for the ballad series, well, this music is close to my heart.  I inherited an enthusiasm for it from my father. With their Celtic origins, these songs have provided my connection to the Southern landscape since my arrival here half my life ago.”

About Julyan Davis:  Is is an English-born artist who now resides permanently in the South. Not long after he arrived in the States, he found his way to Savannah and Charleston. Having arrived from the Georgian city of Bath, the history of these two Southern cities, with their comparable architecture, was a real pleasure.
He received his art training at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. In 1988, having completed his B.A. in painting and printmaking, he traveled to the South on a painting trip that was also inspired by an interest in the history of Demopolis, Alabama and its settling by Bonapartist exiles. Davis is known for his paintings of the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia, Western North Carolina and the Coast of Maine.

Go and do the best you can"—Oil on canvas 60x72 – Painting Image - YouTube
Inspired by traditional folk song "Little Maggie," which is part of a family of white blues songs found in the Appalachian region in the late 1800s. "Little Maggie" has been recorded by artists including the Stanley Brothers, The Kingston Trio, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs.

View the Murder Ballads Gallery on Facebook or watch the Appalachian Ballads Slideshow at
Julyan Davis Fine Art
By Her Lily White Hand

"By her lily white hand" — on canvas 36x38  (Left

Inspired by 19th century murder ballad "Banks of Ohio." The first recording of the song was by Red Patterson's Piedmont Log Rollers in 1927.
It has been recorded many times since then by artists including The Carter Family, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Doc Watson, Joan Baez and Olivia Newton-John.

I took her by her pretty white hand
I let her down that bank of sand
I pushed her in where she would drown
Lord, I saw her as she floated down

Darling say that you'll be mine
In our home we'll happy be
Down beside where the waters flow
On the banks of the Ohio

Returning home about twelve or one
Thinking "Lord, what a deed I've done?"
I killed the girl I love, you see
Because she would not marry me

Banks of the Ohio - Bill Monroe & Doc Watson >>   YouTube

Multi-platinum country star and true American Patriot, Lee Greenwood, offers his personal insights into America’s challenges and her future in his inspiring new book, “Does God Still Bless the U.S.A.? A Plea for a Better America” set for publication May 14, 2012 by Tate Publishing.  The compelling 216-page softcover publication includes a special 30-day devotional “Prayers of a Patriot,” written by Greenwood’s wife, Kim.

Also included with purchase are two exclusive free downloads, a brand new version of “God Bless the U.S.A.” and “Show Me the Way,” available through

American Songwriter caught up with Jaren Johnston between writing appointments and rehearsals with the new band he has formed. Keith Urban (“You Gonna Fly”) , Sara Evans (“Anywhere”) Meatloaf, and Jack Mannequin have cut Johnston’s tunes with Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley, and Tim McGraw cuts coming out in 2012, he is a pretty happy guy!

Since winning American Idol in 2005, Carrie Underwood has become one of the most popular country artists in the business. At the age of 29, she is tied with country legend Reba McEntire as the Female Country Artist with the most number one hits on the Billboard charts. Not bad for a girl from Checotah, Okla. Underwood's fourth record, and it's a little darker than her previous work. In a line on the title track, Underwood sings, "There's not enough wind in Oklahoma to rip the nails out of the past."
"The song is a story about a girl and her father," Underwood explains. "The song describes him as a 'mean old mister' — and you can kind of make that as bad as you want it to be. The daughter can feel a storm coming, and she just wishes it would wash her past away, and in doing so, take her father along. So it's a very deep, dark story.' "To be able to explore that side and kind of have a little more drama, a little more ominous weather going on in the album, is really nice," she adds.
Carrie Underwood speaks with NPR's Guy Raz about the making of BLOWN AWAY, her Idol audition, and why she still drives the same >>   Audio Link have an exclusive Q and A with Marty Stuart. He talks about the new Album, “Forgotten” People, and Johnny Cash

Carrie Underwood: 'Blown Away' and crossing over USA TODAY Interview - Video Link

NPR First Listen - Like her former Nickel Creek bandmate Chris Thile, Sara Watkins paints on a canvas called roots music, only to delve into any number of adjacent genres. Sara Watkins' new album, SUN MIDNIGHT SUN, comes out May 8 on the Nonesuch Label. Listen to it in full - HERE

Glasgow duo Raintown perform “Falling Backwards” live in Stockport Plaza >>   YouTube

Currently #6 on the Bilboard Hot Country Songs Chart it you got a minute check out
Zac Brown Band’s official video for “No Hurry” >>  YouTube

The former American Idol victor Carrie Underwood is a match for the pop vixens in the US charts but says there is a limit to how far she’d go to get attention - I don’t ever want to do  anything that might embarrass my children someday so I try to keep that in mind,’ the country singer told Metro, as she plans her June show at London’s Royal Albert Hall. ‘There are a lot of impressionable people that watch and I want to try and set a positive example.’
Her fame is in good hands anyway, as she shares a manager with the Beckhams. But what about our other famous exports?
I don’t really know of One Direction’s music but I hear them everywhere,’ the 29-year-old said. ‘They’re definitely making a splash.’
We just take the best of all genres of music and make them fit my country world,’ she said. ‘We’d love to bring some country all over the globe

The Clampetts memorialized in sand at Merlefest 2012 - photo © Jason Lombard - Photo – See the rest of the Merlefest slideshow

Miranda Lambert and friends at The Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 5, 2012, in Louisville (AP Photo)