Award-winning vocalist Stephanie Adlington and guitarist Aaron Lessard blended Americana/Southern Gothic storytelling and dirty slide guitar to bring A Tale of Two to the stage. Their emotional shows channel southern lullabies, front porch blues, hints of jazz and French love songs on A Tale Of Two EP, out Friday, September 17.
The two—separately, then together—studied great artists like John Paul White, Patty Griffin, Tom Waits, Ray LaMontagne, and Punch Brothers. “If Nashville has taught us anything, it is to be different,” said Adlington. “It is a unique hub of incredible musicians and writers. We have always wanted to find our own voice within the crowd.”
“Blood Or Wine” loosely follows their story, and a reality check for anyone in pursuit of a dream. The chorus reminds us that every path is ‘for better or worse’.
The two shared their thoughts on the the culmination of “Blood and Wine” with Elmore. Aaron Lessard said, “This song came to life during the height of the pandemic, while facing so many hurdles in the making of this record. We wanted to write a glorified story of who we are, and that is sticking together through thick and thin for better or worse—blood or wine.
Stephanie Adlington added ““Blood Or Wine’ was such an exciting and dynamic song to record in the studio. We were thrilled to have Eamon Mcloughlin on fiddle/mandolin (Opry House Band), along with Dave Jacques on bass (John Prine), and rock star Caleb Crosby on drums/percussion (Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown). Mandolin is my new instrument crush!”
Sam Evian’s forthcoming album Time to Melt aspires to address the strife of the present and sound good while cooking dinner. No short order, but with its lush sounds and warm nods in the direction of Sly and the Family Stone, T Rex, and Shuggie Ottis, he’s pulled it off. Evian assembled the record mostly on his own, like so many artists did navigating the often solitary struggles of 2020 and 2021. The easygoing vibe of his place in the Catskills—bucolic, as viewed in videos like the quad action showcase “Easy to Love“—gives the album the comforting feel of a mixtape, but the lyrics find him seeking to reflect the struggles of recent times too. Ahead of the album’s release October 29, Evian joined us to discuss the album’s genesis. | j woodbury
Aquarium Drunkard: If you had to narrow it down and say, “This is the year when everything sounds most right, the year it sounds best,” would that year be in the early ‘70s for you?
Sam Evian: I think it’s ’71 to ’73. In that era, the musicianship was so high. You have the Funk Brothers backing up everyone who’s making Motown records. And just the quality of the technology—aesthetically, it’s so pleasing. The level analog recording was at, limitations still existed. It’s a balance. It’s hard not to pull from that. Maybe that’s my weakness. I listen to music from that era every day. I check out new stuff, but I always come back to that stuff.
AD: It’s a moment where there’s obviously a warmth and a sophistication, but with a record like What’s Going On, you have a visionary creator who’s also pushing the form forward.
Sam Evian: There’s still so much to learn from that window. Talk about Marvin Gaye changing the form. He wrote an opera basically. I love how it’s so orchestrated—well produced and thought out—but there are also these specks of improvisation and off the cuff stuff, like James Jamerson playing all those iconic baselines lying on the floor.
AD: You’ve been playing bass a lot on TikTok.
Sam Evian: It’s just an excuse to learn some groovy bass lines. Bass has been my main instrument lately. I think this record is a bass record.
AD: There’s something really captivating about creating a little rhythm section with a bass and a drum machine.
Sam Evian: It’s so fun and it’s what I could do up here by myself. I left the city [a few years ago] to live in the woods.
AD: The standard rock music cliche is you move to the wilderness to make sparse acoustic music. But you can move to the woods and get funkier.
Sam Evian: I liked that when McCartney got to more of an alone space, he got weird.
AD: You started the process of making Time to Melt by looking through old recordings. How do you have them stored?
Sam Evian: I had a bank of various collected recordings: tapes, voice memos, demos on the computer, demos on the 8-track. I started building out the tracklist thinking I’d get a band out here and do it for real, but then I didn’t do that [laughs]. But some of my favorite musicians make records on their own. I’m a huge Chris Cohen fan. He records all by himself and makes it sound like a band. I didn’t have that courage at first, but I worked into it and convinced myself to go for it over the course of making this record. The last couple records I’ve made have been very band heavy—guys in a room doing their thing—but this gave me some new perspective.
AD: Combing through recordings, what qualities were you looking for?
Sam Evian: I wanted to make a record that would sound good when I was cooking in the kitchen. I do most of my listening in the kitchen. I throw on a vinyl, start sautéing the onions, build out a sauce, turn it over to the other side, and by the time you’re done, dinner’s ready. So you put on another record. I love that flow. The kitchen is so communal. Music happens there. People gather there. Everything happens there.
The first half of the record is almost like a DJ set. All the songs blend, they’re a similar tempo. If you’re not totally paying attention, it might sound like one big song. I wanted the record to be like a companion, cause it was a companion to me, being up here in the woods through COVID.
AD: This is an set of songs unafraid to constitute A Quarentine Album. I found myself reflecting on records like What’s Going On and There’s a Riot Going On—those were so of their time too, but we listen to them and they sound like they were recorded yesterday. Did you ever end up having a conversation with yourself about timeliness vs. timelessness thing in regards to the album?
Sam Evian: I don’t want to live in an era that isn’t now. I wanted this record to be present, lyrically. That’s what I was shooting for. There are a couple songs that are a bit political; it’s sad that we’re still singing about the same shit, but I think it still needs to be talked about. It’s taken me awhile to figure out how to do that. I was shy about throwing politics into a song. But at this point? It’s like Nina Simone says in that Summer of Soul documentary, “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”
AD: Your record has a lot of grief in it, but a lot of joy too. On one hand I get what you’re saying—it’s depressing that what we hear on What’s Going On is still going on, but on the other hand, that’s the human experience. Injustice is never going to entirely go away, we have to keep struggling against it, and we have to stay in touch with joy in order to keep fighting.
Sam Evian: I can’t talk about that without acknowledging: that’s Black music.
AD: Your record is soaked in those sounds.
Sam Evian: I think when I first got hip to that it was when I was studying jazz. I really wanted to be a saxophonist, and I focused on that for a long time.
AD: The foundation of American pop culture, the most globally adored music from this place, is Black music.
Sam Evian: Studying the music of John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, you start to see that point where there’s so much pain, but also hope and beauty. It’s all being channeled through this art. I’m a white kid from North Carolina, but I seeped myself in that music. My parents are musicians. It’s how I learned about music.
AD: So as you’re attempting to reckon, what was the writing process like?
Sam Evian: So much revision. I went down the rabbit hole. I learned so much in the process, just sitting with myself for so long, reckoning with lyrics and sounds. I hadn’t committed to doing a record by myself before. I like to flip flop, so next record, maybe I’ll have a 10-piece band.
I’ve always subscribed to the first take/best take philosophy and when I’m working with other musicians, I push them toward that. I do find a lot of magic there. But with myself on this record, I found that could almost be a weakness for me, so I pushed myself to keep doing things again. Mostly in terms of the arrangements; I was liberal with vocals and guitar parts, but just in terms of the horn parts, or where the vocal comes in, the instrumentation in the intro. I was very specific about the arrangements.
AD: You worked with people like Spencer Tweedy, Chris Bear, and Jon Natchez remotely. What did you go to them for?
Sam Evian: The goal was to work with people I hadn’t worked with before, people who’d been in my sphere who I was friendly with but I hadn’t worked with. Spencer is so brilliant and such a great mind—he’s such a great drummer, so I asked him to play on the first tune. That was peak COVID; we couldn’t be in the same room. But he recorded it so quick and sent it in. Chris too, he recorded his parts. Oliver Hill, who played strings, did the same thing. Hannah [Cohen], obviously we live together, so that was different. When collaboration started happening the record started really coming together. The early feedback was, “Hey this is cool, keep going.” You always feel completely off the rails, like did I make something weird and terrible? Coming from playing jazz, I’ve always seen music as a social thing. Improvising with people. You get to know someone in a really deep way when you do that. Not having any of that on this record was really interesting, but having those early contributors step in, it was like, OK, there’s a little of that magic I’m looking for.
AD: The final song “Around It Goes” is really lovely. It includes all these random voices leaving messages. How did that come together?
Sam Evian: That started when I got this random voice mail. It was an older sounding voice, saying, “Just wanted to thank you for the spaghetti and meatballs you made us the other night, it was so delicious, I just love you so much.” It was this sweet grandma voice and it went on for like a minute and a half. I was like, I have to do something with this. So that’s anonymous. I threw that into this loop I was working on and it became like a call-in song—very ‘90s. Then I had the idea: what if I had people send me voice mails from the internet? I put it out on social media—”Send me a message and I’ll include it in a song.”
I got a ton, so I selected them at random. You get people talking about having to quarantine, you get one person talking about their dog that had passed away, you get someone talking about a date they’d like to go on. It was very human and tender. It was early quarantine, we were all in an emotional space. People were opening up
AD: I love that there’s space on the record allowed for other people to speak about their experience. That’s a generous quality in a record: space for the listener. This is a tangible example of that quality.
Sam Evian: I was looking for a tender moment to tie it in. The first half is so dense, I wanted the second half to have more space.
PLATINUM Country star RaeLynn delivers a lively mix of glitter and grit with a brand-new song, “Only In A Small Town,” releasing the feel-good anthem today (8/13).
Featuring an instantly-recognizable sound and all the charismatic sass she’s known for; the track celebrates all the unique quirks of country life – and a unique Country artist to boot. Not afraid to rep her middle-of-nowhere roots, RaeLynn’s sparkling vocal highlights a nothing-fancy world that’s special nonetheless, fusing equal parts big-timing beats and backwoods pride.
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“The back half of BAYTOWN is officially ready!” shares RaeLynn. “I believe these next six songs really capture my heart – as a lot has changed in my life over the past year – but I also have some songs to get rowdy to. I’m so excited for y’all to hear what I’ve been working on.”
“Only In A Small Town” is out now and arrives just ahead of RaeLynn’s upcoming full album, BAYTOWN, which is set for release on SEPTEMBER 24. Marking her debut studio album on Round Here Records, the project will expand her 2020 BAYTOWN EP to include 14 tracks in total, and fans can Pre-Save/Pre-Add the album now.
Named after her hometown outside of Houston, Texas, RaeLynn previously released the uplifting “Small Town Prayer” from BAYTOWN and has also shared tracks like the party-ready, “Keep Up.”
Meanwhile, the hit-making singer-songwriter recently wrapped up her first ever downtown Nashville residency, “RaeLynn’s Downtown Party Live From Ole Red,” and delivered the tender “Made For Me To Love (demo)” this spring. That track released just as she and husband Josh Davis announced even more reason to celebrate in September – the birth of their first child.
Carly Pearce just continues to prove that she’s a bright spot in the mainstream of country, and is making us proud once again. The only problem with the EP she released earlier this year entitled 29 was just that: it was only an EP. The seven songs seemed to denote a new direction for Carly back to her country roots that are strong and true and have just been waiting for the right opportunity to poke out through the surface.
Well now after the initial success she’s doubling down on that approach by releasing a proper full-length album called 29: Written in Stone, due out on September 17th. “I realized, as much as ’29’ captured a moment, I wasn’t done with the story,” Carly Pearce says, and though the new album will include the seven songs we already heard on the EP, it will also include eight new ones.
And Carly Pearce isn’t leaving any room for us to guess if the new songs will be like the old songs and double down on her more traditional country approach. Along with the new album announcement, Carly Pearce has released the single “Dear Miss Loretta” she co-wrote herself, which might be even more traditional than most or all the tracks on the 29 EP. Oh, and it features Patty Loveless to boot.
“To hear Patty Loveless sing your words, there’s no way to describe that sensation,” Pearce says. “Her voice is Appalachia, those mountains and hollers are country music. To think a year ago I was asking myself, ‘What would Patty Loveless do?’ thinking about all her songs, how smart and sassy she always was… and now she’s on one of mine.”
And to top it all off, Carly Pearce is being officially inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on August 3rd—the day she’s announcing all of this. She actually debuted “Dear Miss Loretta” on the Opry stage that helped make Loretta Lynn famous in March, saying at the time, “It wasn’t until the last year that I really felt what she’s sang about all these years, and just how much we really do have in common.”
Born in Taylor Mill, Kentucky, Carly Pearce developed an interest in country music at an early age from her grandparents, and was playing bluegrass at 11, declaring proudly in one home video that she would play the Grand Ole Opry someday. She dropped out of school at 16 after trying out for the “Country Crossroads” show at Dollywood and winning the job. She then convinced her family to move to Pigeon Forge with her.
Now after years of playing the game in Nashville, Carly is finally getting to record and perform the kind of country music she wants, and the kind of country music many country fans want from her.
Garth Brooks has canceled a planned onsale date for tickets to his recently announced show in Seattle, Wash., and says he’ll rethink all scheduled concerts after performing in Lincoln, Neb., on Aug. 14. The move comes as cases of COVID-19 rise nationwide once again.
After Aug. 14, Brooks has shows scheduled for Cincinnati, Ohio (Sept. 18); Charlotte, N.C. (Sept. 25); Baltimore, Md. (Oct. 2); and Boston, Mass. (Oct. 9). Tickets for his Sept. 4 show in Seattle were set to go on sale on Friday (Aug. 6), but a note from his PR team says that will not happen; instead, the singer and his team will use three weeks to decide how and when to proceed with his concerts, all scheduled for outdoor stadiums.
“Here’s the important thing: Our job is to gather people in mass numbers. If that’s a bad thing, then we need to stand down. And that’s what we’ll do,” Brooks said on Friday (July 30) prior to a planned stadium show in Nashville. He furthered that it would be an honor to do the right thing, but gave no indication that this kind of move was imminent.
At Brooks’ show in Nashville, a video encouraged attendees to wear masks, but also asked that no one bother those who chose to or not to do so. The show was ultimately canceled due to storms, forcing all in attendance to seek shelter in the concourse of the venue, Nissan Stadium.
“It’s humbling to see people put this much faith in you as an artist,” Brooks says in a statement, “and it kills me to think I am letting them down.”
Per the New York Times, the seven-day average of new cases of COVID-19 has exceeded Summer 2020’s rolling average. The greatest spike in new cases took place after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, with a seven-day average of over 230,000 on Jan. 6. The average for Aug. 2, 2021, was 85,000, a 400 percent increase from one month ago.
Every state is reporting huge case increases, with the Delta variant driving tremendous spikes in many southern states. About 97 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations are of patients who have not been vaccinated.
There’s a lot to consider when making a list of the hottest tours of summer 2021, including star power, opening acts, venues and set lists. Add to that concerns and cautions as the country begins to emerge from a pandemic and that no one has seen live music in 14 months. It’s quite likely you’re craving live music like a drug that’s just out of reach … or you’re scared shirtless to surround yourself with 10,000 fans indoors.
All the emotions about reengaging with the live country music community are valid. While at first it seemed September would be start-up month, several tours on this Hot List begin in July and August at outdoor venues across America. The No. 3 tour and No. 1 tour on our list are mostly indoors, but both are banking on increased safety that comes from a majority of the population having the COVID-19 vaccine.
Once those lights go down, all of these worries will be carried away by the buzz in the air (and maybe, from your cup). Find five total professionals on this list of Hot Summer Tours, each bringing a total stage show, plus several in-demand opening acts with a proven track record of live entertainment at the highest level. There’s no fat on any of these country tours — if you stick to the tailgate through an opener’s set, you’ll truly be missing something special.
As always, let us know who you can’t wait to see on tour in 2021 via Twitter or email.
Getting over someone you once loved is never easy, but Ingrid Andress and Sam Hunt are taking a shot at describing the intoxicating emotion behind a breakup in their new duet, “Wishful Drinking.”
The fresh country track spins with a modern buzz that mixes clever lines with a strong beat over ice for a sound that goes down easy despite the theme’s bitter aftertaste. As the two singers contemplate what once was, the drunkenness of a lost romance clouds over the chances of moving on.
“I get hopeful when I’m tipsy / thinking you might actually miss me / it’s 100 proof, nothing I won’t do / for another round of me and you / I’m wishful drinking,” Andress and Hunt sing together in the chorus.
As Andress’ vocals are like classy liquid courage, Hunt’s addition to the song goes down smooth as high-dollar wine when he takes over the second verse. Not once do the singers feel like their harmonies are on the rocks, but rather a heavy blend that leaves the listeners in their feels.
“I’ve never done anything like ‘Wishful Drinking’ before,” Andress said in a press release. “I’ve always wanted to work with Sam and have been such a fan of his for a long time. I admire how he stays so true to himself and am so happy to have him join me for my first collaboration. The song was co-written by my friend JP Saxe, and it became this amazing sad bop, which we all know I love.”
“I heard Ingrid’s music a while back and knew right away she was a very talented singer and songwriter,” added Hunt. “I met her not long ago at a Nashville Sports League kickball game and I really enjoyed getting to know her a little bit. When the opportunity came along to be a part of this song with her, I was all in.”
Andress has actually worked with Hunt before, but the songs have yet to be released. Her songwriting abilities have transferred into several genres, as well as her own debut project, Lady Like. Her efforts have earned her massive respect as not only a writer and producer, but an artist and performer. The album gained accolades like three GRAMMY nominations for Best Country Album, Best New Artist and Best Country Song for her big single, “More Hearts Than Mine.”
The “Lady Like” singer will hit the road later this summer, where she will open up for Dan + Shay starting in early September. Fans can find more information about her upcoming live shows on her website.
Billy Murray is one of those mythical legends in Hollywood.
So many stories surrounding Murray come with a cloak of mystery – did he really eat fries off someone’s plate and tell them “nobody will ever believe you” (yes), and is it true he has no cell phone, or phone number he’ll answer to, just an answering machine (yup)?
As his legend grows, we do have some insight into Murray’s top-notch muscial taste.
That openness brings us to this resurfaced video from 2014 when Bill was in London on a press tour for The Monuments Men. In the clip that has gone viral yet again, Murray describes a rough acting night in Chicago where he ended up wandering the streets for hours, losing his “desire to stay alive.”
Here he is explaining that dark time, and how that walk ended up with him at The Art Institute of Chicago of all places…
Bill Murray talks about the painting that stopped him from committing suicide after being asked if there were a moment how art has made a difference in his life. Watch til the end to see the painting. pic.twitter.com/LZzfn0eNrS
There’s a girl who doesn’t have a whole lot of prospects, but the sun’s coming up anyway, and she’s got another chance at it. I think that gave me some sort of feeling that I too am a person, and get another chance every day the sun comes up.”
And, the painting.
“Jules Breton’s ‘Song of the Lark’ was deemed the most popular painting in America in a poll conducted in 1934. In this evocative work, a young peasant woman stands silently in the flat fields of the artist’s native Normandy as the sun rises, listening to the song of a distant lark. The painting was Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite work of art; it also inspired Bill Murray while he was struggling as an actor in Chicago.”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Available 24 hours: 800-273-8255
Carly Pearce is issuing an expanded full-length version of her EP 29, which came out in February. The performer’s 29: Written in Stone will be released September 17th and includes the ode to Kentucky and country music “Dear Miss Loretta,” featuring the great Patty Loveless.
“Dear Miss Loretta” takes the form of a stone-country waltz, heavy on low-end twang and fiddle, and delivered as a note of gratitude to one of Kentucky’s greatest musical exports. “I ain’t a coal miner’s daughter, but my grandmother was/Must be whiskey in the water, must be bourbon in the blood,” Pearce sings, with Loveless providing harmonies. It’s also a thrill to hear fellow Kentuckian Loveless, one of the Nineties’ most enduring talents, take a solo verse on the song Pearce wrote with Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally.
29: Written in Stone includes the seven original tracks from 29, including “Next Girl” and “Messy,” along with eight new ones. The project documented a long period of self-reflection and struggle while Pearce was mourning some heavy personal losses.
“Once I started writing, I thought I’d gotten it all out of my system,” Pearce says in a release. “But the songs just kept on coming, and I realized to truly understand how you come out the other side, not just a quick snapshot, this full project needed to happen. Now people can see how you thrive and shine even in the lowest moments.”
“Dear Miss Loretta” drops the same day that Pearce will become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry on the program’s Tuesday-night broadcast.
29: Written in Stone track list:
“What He Didn’t Do”
“Dear Miss Loretta” (featuring Patty Loveless)
“Should’ve Known Better”
“Never Wanted to Be That Girl” (featuring Ashley McBryde)
Dolly Parton has added two more Emmy Awards nominations to her long list of career achievements. The multi-faceted singer-songwriter, author, producer and TV and movie personality earned two nominations in the 2021 Emmy Awards for her 2020 Netflix Christmas movie, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square.
The film received nominations in the categories of Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming. Parton turned to social media to react to the good news on Wednesday (July 14), writing, “#ChristmasOntheSquare is up for two @TelevisionAcad #Emmy nominations! Feel the love of Christmas in July, and stream today on @netflixfamily.”
She added a heart emoji to the post.
The holiday film aired on Netflix beginning in November of 2020. A Netflix trailer describes the film by saying, “Seasonal cheer comes to a screeching halt when a cold-hearted woman tries to sell her hometown’s land. Can music, magic and memories change her mind?”
In addition to Parton, the film also stars Treat Williams and Christine Baranski.
Parton has scored significant success through partnering with Netflix in the past. Her 2016 Netflix film Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love received a nomination for Outstanding Television Movie, and the “These Old Bones” episode of her Netflix series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings was also nominated in that category in 2020. Her 2018 movie Dumplin’ was also a hit for the streaming network.
The 2021 Emmy Awards are slated to take place on Sunday, Sept. 19, and air live on CBS and Paramount+.