Archive for misc.

springsteen at 70

Bruce Springsteen. Photo by Danny Clinch.

It was all I could do, in honoring Bruce Springsteen 70th birthday, to keep from playing my favorite Boss album, “Nebraska,” a vanguard work that celebrates its own milestone (the 37th anniversary of its release) next week. Brilliant as it is, though, a record that begins with the confession of a murderer (a character based heavily on spree killer Charlie Starkweather) whose final wish while being strapped into the electric chair was to have his girlfriend sitting on his lap, is probably not the way to usher in a birthday celebration.

Then again, Springsteen’s artistic profile is so vast and extends so far beyond what most mainstream audiences view as being definitive, that really any sideroad his music has journeyed is worthy of revisiting as he hits 70.

It could be the brassy folk charge of “We Shall Overcome” with his short lived Seeger Sessions Band, the harrowing affirmation of “The Rising” that brought the Boss into a ravaged 21st century, the folk meditations of “The Ghost of Tom Road” or the forgotten beauty of later E Street Band records like “Magic” and “Wrecking Ball.”

To most, understandably, the Springsteen legacy is constructed around his initial spree of recordings cut between 1972 and 1984 that took his music off of the Jersey boardwalk and onto the streets of America, celebrating its simplest joys, its most impenetrable restlessness and, increasingly, a view of the working world that encroached on the political.

But politics has always meant many things in a Springsteen song. It could be as global as the atomic-powered “Born in the U.S.A.” or as personal as a stroll down the boarded-up neighborhood within “My Hometown.” Perhaps purposely, those songs bookend the Boss’ best-selling album, 1984’s “Born in the U.S.A.” International sales for the record now center somewhere around the 30 million mark.

In the end, though, what may the most fitting way to honor Springsteen at 70 is to simply rejoice in the sheer physicality and invitation of his live performances, many of which are now officially available digitally and on recordings. That, collectively, remains the foundation from which all the glorious extensions of his music have bloomed. The 5 o’clock jubilance of “Out in the Street,” the epic romanticism of “Rosalita” or even the escapist urgency that detonates three of his most established classics, “Thunder Road,” “Badlands” and “Born to Run.” Stick those in a birthday cake and watch the room go boom.

What I take the greatest comfort in with Springsteen at 70 is that his story isn’t anywhere near complete. His newest work, the brilliant “Western Stars,” sounds unlike anything he has previously done, a record of vivid Americana imagery and spacious but beautifully subtle orchestration. A film, chronicling the only performance thus far of the record’s serene music, will hit theatres in a matter of weeks. Plus, there is already serious talk of a new E Street Band record and tour for 2020.

So Happy 70th, Boss. I’m thankful, as they say, for the memories, but more appreciative that a few more journeys up, down and slightly off the ramps of the American badlands still await us.

grammy post mortem 2019

Alicia Keys and Michelle Obama at the Grammy Awards, Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Unlike the Grammy Awards, we know how to keep a lid on things. We have limited our annual post mortem of the three-and-a-half plus hour televised carnival to 10 vital takeaways. Here is what it all boiled down to for The Musical Box.

+ Michelle Obama may just have been biggest pop star of the night. As part of an entourage that included Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett Smith and show host Alicia Keys, the former first lady barely got five words out on a reflection of Motown music before the crowd went wild, sending the Grammys’ assertion of female star power into the stratosphere.

+ After Camila Cabello began the ceremony with a multi-story dance-pop block party version of “Havana,” Kacey Musgraves brought the Grammys back to earth with a stunning and sparse reading of “Rainbows” accompanied only by piano that proved a complete antithesis of the usual Grammy glitz. The mood didn’t last. The show quickly shifted to a performance of Janelle Monae’s Prince-meets-Kraftwerk blowout of “Make Me Feel.”

+ Non-rapping rapper Post Malone continued to confound as a song stylist, opening with a solo acoustic reading of “Stay” before turning to the dance-pop groove of “Rockstar” as he seemed to wander through the illuminated bowels of the Staples Center. He eventually resurfaced to jam with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (with Anthony Keidis looking a lot like that creepy actor from “Manos, Hands of Fate”) on “Dark Necessities.” Though a sloppy summit with no one coming off as a Caruso, it was nonetheless a fun genre-bashing mash up.

+ Anna Kendrick introduced a salute to Dolly Parton that included the Divine Ms. Dolly singing Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” with Maren Morris and Miley Cyrus (with the lyric about “getting high” glaringly whited out), a capable duet exchange with Cyrus on “Jolene” and an anthemic take on “Red Shoes” with Little Big Town where Parton’s vocals agelessly soared. The highlight, though, was watching Kacey Musgraves make musical mincemeat out of an ill-prepared/ill-matched Katy Perry during “Here You Come Again” before Parton joined in to take full ownership of her own tribute.

+ Sure, it would have great to have Kentucky’s own Chris Stapleton walk off with Country Album of the Year for the third time, but you will get no argument from me in handing the trophy over to the great Kacey Musgraves for the second time. In an age where country has shamelessly strayed further than ever from its homegrown roots, Musgraves, for “Golden Hour,” now rejoins a list of Grammy winning country album winners that includes Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle Lovett, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Sturgill Simpson. The Album of the Year win was the real surprise, especially to Musgraves. It didn’t take a lip reader to decipher her on-camera reaction: “What? What? What?”

+ Alicia Keys was already in the running for Coolest Grammy Host Ever, but she fully earned the title with an ambitious performance overview that used the dual piano playing of the late (and shamefully blacklisted) Hazel Scott as an inspiration. From there, she offered a hit parade that went from Scott Joplin to Roberta Flack to Nat King Cole to Lauryn Hill to Jay Z and more. Effortless and stunning.

+ Who would have expected the most to-the-bone assessment of the music business and the Grammys themselves to come from Drake? After winning Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan,” he delivered an eloquent but pointed dismissal of awards and high profile accolades. “If you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown, if there are people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow, spending hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this. You’ve already won.” The Grammys responded by immediately cutting to a commercial.

+ Introduced by her nine year old grandson, Diana Ross remained a way-larger-than-life presence during a medley of two songs that spanned nearly 25 years of her post-Supremes solo career – “The Best Years of My Life” and “Reach Out and Touch.” It was hardly a spotless vocal exhibition and the run of motivational banter that wound up with the singer wishing herself a happy birthday (she turns 75 next month) grew tiresome. But you expected subtlety from the still uproarious Ms. Ross?

+ Hard to fully grasp Lady Gaga’s performance of “Shallow.” It’s a killer song that lit the rock and soul fuse of “A Star is Born.” Here, she backed up the song’s potency with a vocal command few could have imagined when her career began to gain traction nearly a decade ago. So why all the histrionics and posing in a performance that, visually, bordered on the cliched? In a perhaps unanticipated manner, what you saw wasn’t necessarily what you got. Then again, that’s always been the way with Gaga?

+ Also choosing to de-glam from the Grammys was Brandi Carlile. She let the potency of “The Joke” speak through the lean drive of her band and projections of the song’s chorus lyrics onto a screen behind her. But the key to this prayer for marginalized souls was that voice – that booming, clear vocal bravado that Carlile sent to the moon and back by the song’s conclusion. In recent pop history, only k.d. lang has displayed anything that can match it. Carlile may have even outdistanced her.

labor day at willie’s: doin’ for houston benefit

Have no plans for Labor Day? Then spend the afternoon and evening at Willie’s Locally Known, 286 Southland Dr. where a healthy roster of local and regional artists will gather and perform as part of “Doin’ for Houston: A Hurricane Harvey Relief Concert.” The program title tells you everything you need to know about its cause. In short, it’s a grand show of affection and desire to help on the part of the Lexington music community for those coping with the aftermath of one of the most destructive natural disasters in recent memory.

There is no cover charge for the show, but contributions will be accepted. Those donations, along with proceeds from a silent auction and a portion of select food and drink proceeds for the day, will go to benefit the Houston Food Bank.

Here’s the massive lineup.

1:30 p.m.: Chelsea Nolan
2:00 p.m.: Ben Lacy and Bob Bryant
2:30 p.m.: Kevin Holm-Hudson
3:00 p.m.: Bob Shirley
3:30 p.m.: The Compass Roses
4;00 p.m.: Michael Johnathon
4:30 p.m.: Derek Feldman
5:00 p.m.: Emory Joseph, Bob Bryant, Steve DiMartino
5:45 p.m.: RC and The NightShades
6:30 p.m.: George Molton
7:00 p.m.: The Barrows
7:30 p.m.: Southern Biscuit
8:00 p.m.: Warren Byrom
8:30 p.m.: Warren Byrom and Melissa Jackson
9:00 p.m.: Art Mize
9:30 p.m.: Derek Spencer
10:00 p.m.: Danny Dean and The Homewreckers
A concluding jam session will continue until closing time. For more information, call 859-281-1116 or go to


1971 today

Sunday’s “1971” presentation at the Downtown Arts Center by Lee Carroll and a number of his local music co-horts is hitting home for a number of reasons.

Though in my early teens, I recall the year – at least in terms of the contemporary music it yielded – quite well. The quality and quantity of the output was breathtaking, producing an artistic renaissance the countered by the coarse taste of the preceding year. The same topical ghosts were still there – Vietnam, Nixon, racial strife and more – but given how 1970 began with the breakup of the Beatles and ended with Altamont, 1971 had to be an improvement. And it was. Folk, soul, rock and a booming underground prog movement soared. There were still the rough patches. The death of Jim Morrison less than three months after the release of his finest album with The Doors, “L.A. Woman,” served the most pronounced jolt. But there were also many triumphant releases that defined still-active careers. Discovering the music of 1971 greatly shaped my own musical tastes for the years to come.

Assembled below is a sampling of 10 albums that remain favorites from that year, but there were so many more. Not making the cut were classics by John Lennon, Santana, Elton John, Humble Pie, Al Green, Van Morrison, The Moody Blues, The Faces, Weather Report, Traffic, T. Rex, Ten Years After, Soft Machine, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, The Grateful Dead, Procol Harum, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, Mountain, King Crimson, Paul and Linda McCartney, Leon Russell, Jethro Tull, Hot Tuna, King Curtis, Deep Purple and more.

Here at the 10 listed in order of release in 1971

+ Carole King: “Tapestry” (February) – A perhaps obvious choice, but there is no way to underemphasize King’s full and unassuming transformation from Brill Building pop princess to confessional pop-folk monarch. A complete generational and genre game changer of a record.

+ David Crosby: “If I Could Only Remember My Name” (February) – Released at the height of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-mania, this debut solo album corralled a who-who’s of West Coast psychedelic folkies for a trippy, hippie electric summit. A sublime moodpiece of the era.

+ Marvin Gaye: “What’s Going On” (May) – The definitive statement of the early ‘70s Motown, “What’s Going On” was a gloriously cool but often unsettling meditation on the times – a prayer for peace from a soul titan previously fascinated by largely carnal concerns.

+ Joni Mitchell: “Blue” (June) – Joni’s finest hour? Perhaps. But “Blue” beautifully placed her Laurel Canyon musings on stark, brilliant display. Future records heightened the musical sophistication with increasing inferences of jazz. “Blue,” however, was all folk poetry.

+ The Allman Brothers Band: “The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East” (July) – Fans love to place “Fillmore East” atop the Southern Rock mantel. But the record’s reach extended far beyond that for a distinctive portrait of blues, rock and even jazz driven jams set to a guitar sound of peerless taste.

+ The Who: “Who’s Next” (August) – Another obvious choice. What seems remarkable today, though, are the killer Pete Townshend songs (“The Song is Over,” “Getting in Tune,” for starters) that were forgotten through the years in the face of the album’s career-defining hits.

+ Pink Floyd: “Meddle” (October) – Far darker than the forthcoming “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Meddle” represented Pink Floyd’s last true glimpse of post-Syd Barrett experimentation. A trippy snapshot of the band taken before the Roger Waters narcissism completely took hold.

+ Sly and the Family Stone: “There’s a Riot Going On” (November) – Few records, outside of “What’s Going On,” mirrored the dispirited post ‘60s mood more than Sly Stone’s turnabout soul sound on “Riot.” A ruminative, disturbing but, always, groove-friendly sign of the times.

+ The Kinks: “Muswell Hill-billies” (November) – The follow-up to the smash “Lola” was largely ignored upon its initial release, but Ray Davies’s Americana references on “Muswell” have since been championed by subsequent generations of country-leaning rock scholars.

+ Alice Cooper: “Killer” (November) – Cooper’s finest hour with what may be his greatest composition (“Desperado”). Cut before his surrender to stardom, “Killer” captured a daring Detroit-drenched rock sound that never bowed, as Cooper’s later records did, to sensationalism.

“1971 – A Happening with Lee Carroll and Friends” will be presented at 7 p.m. March 12 at the Downtown Arts Center, 141 E. Main, as part of the Sunday Sessions series. Call 859-423-2550 or go to


grammy post mortem 2017

Sturgill Simpson performing at last night’s Grammy Awards ceremony. Getty Images/Kevin Winter.

Mash ups, train wrecks, tributes and triumphs – all of these and more make up The Musical Box’s annual Grammy post-mortem. We focused exclusively on the performers this year, as they, for better or worse, were infinitely more interesting than the winners.

+ Adele: A solemn, straightforward reading of “Hello.” Nicely compensates for the down-in-flames delivery of “All I Ask” from last year’s Grammys.

+ James Corden: “I’m in over my head.” His own introductory words as host. Agreed.

+ The Weeknd and Daft Punk: Introduced by Paris Jackson as “cosmic.” “Robotic” was more like it, although The Weeknd has the vocal pipes to wail above such formulaic pop.

+ Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood: Synth pop version of “The Fighter” that masqueraded as country music. A duet marriage made in a corporate board room.

+ Ed Sheeran: “Shape of You” offered an intriguing mix of loops and live performance, but the song itself was anemic.

+ Kelsea Ballerini and Lukas Graham: Squeaky clean pop duet mash-up of “7 Years” and “Peter Pan.” Oddly and innocently appealing.

+ Beyonce: Trippy, indulgent but quite empowering medley of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles.” A head scratching pop aria of sorts, introduced, no less, by her mom.

+ Bruno Mars: Ultra confident, exuberant, focused old school pop soul delivery of “That’s What I Like.”

+ Katy Perry: Debut of a new song, “Chained to the Rhythm.” So this is what’s it like to be inside your house when a tornado hits. Zero relevance to the ceremony at hand.

+ William Bell and Gary Clark, Jr.: A no-frills version of Bell’s blues classic “Born Under a Bad Sign.” A master class on soul essentials. Coolest two minutes of the night.

+ Meran Morris and Alicia Keys: Two perfectly capable but mismatched singers trying way too hard to shove soul solace into “Once.” Their wardrobe, by the way, was hideous.

+ Adele again: Even with the false start, an undeniably honest and moving tribute to George Michael through a turbulent, orchestral version of “Fast Love.”

+ Metallica and Lady Gaga: Well, at least “Moth Into Flame” lit a fire under an otherwise orderly evening and watching Gaga crowd surf was a hoot. Mostly, though, the Grammys just look silly the more they try to act dangerous.

+ Sturgill Simpson: Here’s your Grammy moment. Introduced by fellow Kentuckian Dwight Yoakam and bolstered by a choir and the Dap Kings horn section (making this a tribute to the late Sharon Jones, as well), Bluegrass born Simpson turned “All Around You” into a world class soul confessional.

+ A Tribe Called Quest: The message of cultural exclusion was loud and clear. Similarly, it was heartening to witness Quest’s resilient sense of purpose. Still, there was no denying how ragged and tentative the group sounded.

+ Morris Day and the Time: Yeah, Bruno Mars and the rest killed it. But the ballyhooed Prince tribute was ruled by the ageless move and groove “Purple Rain” contemporaries Day and Jerome pumped into Time hits “Jungle Love” and “The Bird.”

+ Chance the Rapper: Hip hop went to Church with help from Kelly Price and Kirk Franklin as Chance heartily sermonized through “How Great” and “All We Got.”

+ John Legend and Cynthia Erivo: An appropriately sparse duet reading of “God Only Knows,” which bookended the memoriam tribute.

rocking the new year with the band’s “rock of ages”

the-band-rock-of-agesWith all the Thanksgiving ballyhoo surrounding the 40th anniversary of “The Last Waltz,” the all-star swan song concert by the original lineup of The Band, it is perhaps understandable how this weekend’s 45th anniversary of a series of New York performances the group gave that became “Rock of Ages” – still one of the most soulful and engaging concert recordings of, well, any age – is getting overshadowed.

In retrospect, “Rock of Ages” and “The Last Waltz” accomplished essentially the same thing. Both treated the art of performance as a hootenanny of sorts. On “The Last Waltz,” infatuated with the idea of a grand farewell, The Band went to work with a hefty celebrity guest list of contributors. On “Rock of Ages,” the party was more contained and combustible with Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson being augmented by a five-man horn section playing sublime horn arrangements by the great Allen Toussaint. The latter’s charts also propelled “The Last Waltz,” but it’s on “Rock of Ages” where they were first unleashed, fashioning “Rag Mama Rag” into a barrelhouse breakdown and bolstering “Life is a Carnival” with a deep, punctuated groove.

The Band’s old boss, Bob Dylan, showed up for the final night (New Year’s Eve), as he did in “The Last Waltz,” even though recordings of his contributions were kept under wraps for over 40 years until a collection of concert out-takes were assembled and released as “Live at the Academy of Music 1971.”

The drive and rootsy integrity of “Rock of Ages” are cemented as soon as Helm guides the group through an album-opening “Don’t Do It” with a performance that transforms the largely overlooked 1964 Marvin Gaye hit into a barnstorming blast of brass and lean rock ‘n’ roll might. At the other end of the show, Hudson brings The Band down the home stretch with his calliope-like organ improvisation, dubbed “The Genetic Method,” that veers off into “Auld Lang Syne” in a bout of dizzy jubilance before collecting itself into the churning musical fireball that ignites “Chest Fever” and a loose encore reading of the 1958 Chuck Willis b-side “(I Don’t Want to) Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes.”

As a whole, “Rock of Ages” was a both a summation and celebration of The Band in a way that was far more unassuming than the more purposely artful “The Last Waltz.” That’s why the former will forever be the better record.

Four decades ago, “The Last Waltz” honored a career – well, a phase of it, anyway – that had ended. Five years before that, the shows that became “Rock of Ages” placed the still actively vital music of The Band in proper perspective by placing it onstage without the intrusion of sentimentality. It was instead, a chapter of business as regally usual. As a result, its performances rocked like mad. That the music sounds so fresh and alive this New Year’s Eve, is a testament for a record that remains of and for the ages.


too close to touch plays the burl

Too Close to Touch. From left: Kenneth Downey, Mason Marble, Keaton Pierce, Thomas Kidd and Travis Moore. Photo By Graham Fielder.

Too Close to Touch. From left: Kenneth Downey, Mason Marble, Keaton Pierce, Thomas Kidd and Travis Moore. Photo By Graham Fielder.

Just a few years ago, Too Close to Touch was a band brewing in a basement, specifically one where guitarist Mason Marble and drummer Kenny Downey had been trading riffs and ideas. On Thursday, the Lexington troupe returns home as a conquering hero of sorts. Bolstered by a potent sound that blends metal and hardcore with an unsettled but anthemic pop undercurrent, Too Close to Touch will celebrate the release of “Haven’t Been Myself,” its sophomore album on the nationally distributed Epitaph label (due out Friday), with a performance at The Burl.

The quintet – rounded out by vocalist Keaton Pierce, guitarist Thomas Kidd and bassist Travis Moore – introduced itself with a self-titled EP disc that was picked by Epitaph in 2014. The sound that evolved through its 2015 debut album “Nerve Endings” has emerged full blown on “Haven’t Been Myself.” It has been slapped with all kinds of vague terms like “post hardcore.” But a listen to the new album reveals a loud, tight cohesive sound that, if anything, sounds like a metal-esque version of latter day Rush. The music is melodic but unrelenting and thunderous in its groove and momentum. But what makes it all accessible to listeners perhaps wary of all the loud and proud stylistic references, is Pierce’s singing. It reflects a lyrical cast that rails away with suitable authority, clarity and angst on “Crooked Smile” amid some very Rush-like guitar torrents. But on “Heavy Hearts,” a song offered as a free download last winter, the band cools to the demand of a more acoustic rooted, ballad-savvy sound.

Among the bands Pierce and company have been compared to are Emarosa, which Too Close to Touch has toured with.

Having already played Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati this summer as part of the Vans Warped Tour, Too Close to Touch also warmed up for its current concert trek by taking honors as Best Underground Band at the 2016 Alternative Press Awards.

Too Close to Touch performs at 6:30 p.m. September 22 at The Burl, 375 Thompson Rd. Call (859) 447-8166 or go to Noble Giants will open. Tickets are $12, $15. Doors open at 6. This is an all ages, general admission event.

when i’m seventy four

paul mccartney.

paul mccartney.

Paul McCartney turns 74 today. If you don’t think that is a cause for celebration, your head hasn’t been in the headlines this year. The first half of 2016 has taken an alarming number of cultural legends from us along with scores slightly less iconic artists that have collectively defined the popular music that has befriended us over the last half century. The fact that Sir Paul is still here as an active performer in the face of such continuous loss is, well, beyond wonderful.

There is no denying that much of McCartney’s post-Beatles output has been uneven, especially in recent decades. But the paths his early songs forged have forever fortified pop music. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would be nearly as thrilled with a world without Hey Jude, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, Let it Be, Back in the U.S.S.R., The Long and Winding Road, Penny Lane, We Can Work it Out and Blackbird as the one we have with them. Throw in post-Fab Four works like Ram and Band on the Run and, yeah, the bar was pretty well set at a level that a library of later works couldn’t hope to match.

Another anthology set, Pure McCartney, was released last week to commemorate the birthday, and it is probably as good an introduction as any to his non-Beatles work. But the only way to fully appreciate the scope, influence and sheer stylistic vitality of McCartney’s music is to pick up every studio record – Beatles and solo career-wise – he was involved with between 1964 and 1974.

Sir Paul is back in our region on July 10 with a concert at Cincinnati’s US Bank Arena – a visit that offers considerable comfort at a time when so many musical heroes have taken their leave of us. But the most obvious reflection on the day comes from a renewed listen to When I’m Sixty Four, a song remarkably grounded in its steadfast romanticism when the Beatles cut it in 1967: “Give me your answer, fill in a form; mine for evermore. Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”

But it was the song’s final off-the-cuff word that summated the mood of McCartney that still proves so captivating as the future rolls on: “Ho!”

another new morning for chris stapleton

chris stapleton at last night's CMA awards. photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP.

chris stapleton at last night’s CMA awards. photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP.

Like many Kentuckians, I’m all smiles today over the multiple wins by our own Chris Stapleton last night at the 49th Country Music Association Awards. But it’s not for perhaps obvious reasons.

Stapleton’s music runs against almost every commercial trend Nashville otherwise celebrated at the ceremony – so much so that victories for his highly traditional music in the album, new artist and male vocalist of the year categories are genuinely shocking for a genre that has turned its back so shamelessly on its past.

Maybe there are a few old souls left at the CMA that recall when country music wasn’t just another faceless form of poster boy pop (which is likely). Maybe Nashville is finally ready to return to its roots and get behind songs that are genuinely country in feel and narrative (which is highly unlikely). Maybe it’s all a fluke – meaning Stapleton has been picked out as a novelty by Nashville to promote a reflection of faith in tradition that will be purposely short lived (which is extremely likely).

None of this takes away from the grand night Stapleton had. Awards shows offer some of the best publicity – and, to many industry ears, validity – for an artist largely shunned by radio. To airwave kings like Luke Bryan or Jason Aldean, stylistic polar opposites of Stapleton, a CMA win translates into little more than bigger bragging rights. Given also the frequency of country awards programs, their impact on a career is usually just another notch in the proverbial belt.

But for Stapleton, still a new find for mainstream audiences despite years as an established songwriter, the impact of these wins will be considerable. What it means firstly is this morning many eager fans have woken up to what we knew here in Kentucky all along – that in a country world ruled by chart numbers, image and pop accessibility, Stapleton isn’t some contrived, corporate Nashville foot soldier. He’s a real deal singer and writer championing true country songcraft more than any commercially visible artist since Dwight Yoakam. That should make enthusiasts of all Kentucky grown music feel justifiably proud.

last of the hot burritos

wrflOne of the guiding local voices in Americana music makes its final bow this weekend. The Hot Burrito Show, WRFL-FM’s weekly serving of indie and roots driven country and more (sounds it has regularly dubbed “cosmic American music”) airs for the final time on Sunday (Aug. 23) from noon to 2 p.m.

The program, which has run continually for the past 25 years, has traced an entire generation of new and indie Americana sounds, running from the rise of so-called “alt-country” in the ‘90s to the music’s acceptance as a genre unto itself over the past decade.

Rob Franklin has been at the helm for the program’s entire run, aided by several knowledgeable co-hosts. For many, Hot Burrito has become a Sunday brunch time roots music tradition. Imagining weekends without it is a sad prospect indeed, although WRFL said in a press release last weekend it plans to carry on with a new, reformatted Americana music program. The release also said halting the show was the decision of the show’s hosts, not the station itself.

WRFL has been honoring Hot Burrito all week with each of the programs on its broadcast schedule playing one Americana track in tribute to the show.


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