Friday, May 3, 2013

Saturday Bus Digest--May 4, 2013

This is the first "Saturday Bus Digest". Hopefully we will be a one stop new source for your favorite artists and news of the past week. Included will be commentary on things that are related to music, rock and otherwise.
Remembering George....

This past Thursday Nashville laid to rest one of the last links to old school country. In a very moving service at the Grand Ole Opry, his personal family, colleagues and fans came to say goodbye to the Possum.

I've never made any attempt to hide the fact that Country music isn't my favorite kind of music. However, from my earliest years I had a strong appreciation of the "hillbilly" music of my Daddy's day. He was older than most of the Dad's of my peers (he was 43 when I was born), so his link to Country music was through Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, and especially Hank Williams. He had a double set of Williams' biggest hits, and I can remember playing those albums, impressed by the total honesty and accessibility, yet poetic lyrics of the man. Although my tastes ran mostly to rock, the Country artists of the day impressed me for the same reason, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and especially Dolly Parton.

Watching the funeral I was reminded of how small and close knit this family of Nashville artists are. There is not a genre today that has such a family-like closeness. Much of that has to do with the fact that the vast majority of popular Country music historically has come from one city. That closeness also is felt by all who call Nashville home. Even if you are not a fan of Country music, there is a sense of pride by those who have "made it". At the same time the city is used to it enough to where many artists and stars have made this town their own because there is no fuss over them. It's not unusual to have lunch at the local Mexican restaurant with George and Nancy (which my wife and I have several times), or to go to the movies and be sitting next to Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman (we've done that as well).

George was different, but similar. His long time roots here not only made him an institution, but his story of redemption has also endeared him even more to the city. He never hesitated to give credit to his beloved wife Nancy for saving his life which allowed for a well deserved victory lap as the grand patriarch and standard bearer for "traditional" Country, and also made for some epic music. He wasn't afraid to mix it up with the newer generation as he became close friends to those in the New Traditionalist movement, such as Alan Jackson, Randy Travis and Garth Brooks. As that group moved aside for the likes of Brad Paisley and Kid Rock, he was willing to write and record with them as well.

So now he's gone, and there are very few from his generation still alive. Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton came several years after George. Willie Nelson is just a year younger, but he is as much a citizen of the world and a product of Austin Texas as to any real ties to Nashville. Watching the funeral Thursday reminds me of that thread of traditional country that still pervades in the genre, also it's not quite as easy to hear because of the strangulation caused by what is today's country radio. My hopes are raised though when you go on the streets of Broadway here in Nashville and not only hear the cover bands play George Jones, but when you slowly hear a return to the kind of songwriting that has more to do with heartbreak, and the joys and sorrows of life than partying on a dirt road or the sexiness of someone's tractor. When that happens, I may just start listening to Country music all over again.

In case you missed are some headlines from the past week in Rock and Roll.

Rick Dees, the late “Tennessee” Ernie Ford and Rufus Thomas, the late Dewey Phillips (the first DJ to play Elvis Presley) and Elvis’ “Memphis Mafia” buddy, George Klein are being inducted Saturday (May 4) into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame in ceremonies in Murfreesboro TN. 

It's been learned that Don Shirley, best-known for his 1961 #40 pop instrumental, "Water Boy," died of complications from heart disease April 6 at his home in Manhattan. The Jamaican-born pianist was 86.

Jeff Hannerman of Slayer Dead at 49:

Bob Weir, 'Unable to Perform in Any Capacity' Further Band Cancels Show:

Lou Gramm says he may reunite with Foreigner for Fairwell Tour:

O' Jays Sue Crown Royal for $1Million:

The Monkees reveal U.S. Summer Tour Dates:

Doors' John Densmore Speaks On Feud With Former Band Mates:

Fleetwood Mac Releases First New Music in a Decade:

Don Henley Calls New Album, 'A Record For Grown Ups':

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts headed back on the road:

Cheap Trick Celebrate at Budokan:

KISS add U.S. Dates to North America:



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