November 17, 2019 by Jay Minkin
The following short articles appeared in Mimi’s Magazine October and November issues. Minkins Music is completing it’s twelfth year of liner notes in multiple publications and on-line media outlets.
“Is there anybody out there? One-two-three on the satellite radio?” One of the best programs out there is the Hardcore Troubadour Radio show hosted by Steve Earle on SXM channel 60. With the Rock and Roll HOF nominations being announced this month, a case for Steve Earle’s induction is long overdue.
Since the release of Guitar Town in 1986 through So You Wannabe An Outlaw in 2017, Earle’s music has been relevant, chock full of hits, and at times political. Emulating the songwriting of Bruce Springsteen, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt, songs like “Hillbilly Highway”, “Guitar Town”, “Copperhead Road”, “Telephone Road”, and “Galway Girl” have been etched into jukeboxes and covered by other artists and garage bands. Some albums like The Mountain (1999) with Earle backed by The Del McCoury Band dedicated to Bluegrass founder Bill Monroe along with tribute albums Townes (2009) and Guy (2019) are essential recordings within his catalog. He is an exceptional instrumentalist on guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and banjo besides lending his iconic voice to recordings.
His rebellious story can be found in books like Hardcore Troubadour: The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle by Lauren St. John (2003), a great read that you can find for a deuce and change. The man is constantly touring, frequently playing in either Cleveland or Kent and performing acoustic or electric backed by The Dukes.
My sincere appreciation of Steve Earle has recently been while “taking his class” listening to the weekly radio show. Earle dons the professor hat while delving into the historical periods of a certain year and the music that defines it. Other shows have been solemn eulogies dedicated to departed artists who left their mark on the music timeline.
So turn it on, turn it up, listen to the radio and listen to Steve Earle.
With the holidays and RSD Black Friday just weeks away, it’s time to offer some suggestions for that audiophile on your gift list. Here are a few favorites released this past year from artists that deserve your listening attention.
The best album of the year could also be the comeback album of the year as Tanya Tucker delivered the goods with While I’m Livin’. Produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, it’s Tucker’s first album since 2009 with radio singles “The Wheels of Laredo”, “Hard Luck”, “High Ridin’ Heroes”, “Bring My Flowers Now”, and a cover of Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me”. Other notable female singer/songwriter releases include Bonnie Bishop The Walk, Julia Jacklin – Crushing, Danni Nicholls – The Melted Morning, and Kelsey Waldon – White Noise / White Lines. You may not know these names, but once you hear their voices you’ll fall in love with them.
As for the gentlemen, Tyler Childers anticipated follow-up to Purgatory (2017) debuted at No. 1 with Country Squire topping both Billboard’s Country Albums and American/Folk Albums upon release. Produced by Sturgill Simpson, Childers brings the “hillbilly” back to country western music and is blazing on the single “House Fire”. An artist that released his sixty-ninth studio album, Willie Nelson continues to record stellar material with Ride Me Back Home. Another Texan, Joe Buchanan released Back from Babylon that not only is a great sounding record but has some beautiful spiritual undertones.
I loved the documentary film and soundtrack Echo in the Canyon featuring music that came out of L.A.’s Laurel Canyon neighborhood between 1965-67. Starring Jakob Dylan, beautiful covers like “Go Where You Wanna Go”, “The Bells of Rhymney”, “In My Room”, “Goin’ Back”, and “Never My Love” take me back in time. When it comes to historical content, the release Bob Dylan (featuring Johnny Cash) – Travelin’ Thru, 1967 – 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 is an essential addition to your music library. The latest chapter in bootleg series revisits Dylan’s pivotal musical journeys to Nashville, from 1967 to 1969, focusing on previously unavailable priceless recordings made with Johnny Cash and unreleased tracks from the John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, and Self Portrait sessions.
Stay tuned for some final comments next month.
Album of The Year Awards:
2018: Shooter Jennings – Shooter
2017: The Secret Sisters – You Don’t Own Me Anymore
2016: Margo Price – Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
2015: Chris Stapleton – Traveller
2014: Jamestown Revival – Utah
2013: Jason Isbell – Southeastern
2012: Amy Cook – Summer Skin
2011: Kasey Chambers – Little Bird
2010: Peter Wolf – Midnight Souvenirs
2009: Jason Isbell – Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit
2008: Griffin House – Flying Upside Down
2007: Bruce Springsteen – Magic
2006: Rosanne Cash – Black Cadillac