Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

New Brantly Gilbert Album, with Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Colt Ford, “Welcome to Hazeville”

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Good Saturday Morning House Cleaning Music

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

And the liner notes.

In Luck with Willie Nelson

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
photo: Rick Kern
by: Dave Thomas

We are sitting in a tiny country chapel. There’s faded pine paneling on the walls, smooth-worn old pews and a giant disco ball hanging from an unfinished ceiling.

And our pastor today wears a black ball cap that says “Zeke’s Social Club.”

If that seems weird, well, we are down the road from a golf course where folklore tells us that par is what the pastor says it is. What’s more, we are in sight of the pastor’s “World Headquarters” where he once pulled water from the air.

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Clearly, we are in Luck, and our spiritual overseer is none other than Willie Nelson.

Along with several dozen SiriusXM contest winners and some media and VIPs — hello, Turk Pipkin, howdy, Dallas Wayne — we’re here to preview Nelson’s newest album, “Ride Me Back Home,” which is due for release in June.

A short drive from his Pedernales Country Club home, Nelson constructed this tiny town for his 1986 Western film “Red Headed Stranger” — inspired, in turn, by Nelson’s album of the same name a decade earlier.

In the decades since, the $800,000 investment has served as a backdrop for many music videos, countless Nelson interviews and several other films. You might remember it as Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the beloved miniseries “Lonesome Dove.”

(There’s no official list of movies that have filmed here, but among them was the 1991 adaptation of “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe.” Yes, Rod Steiger walked these dusty streets.)

The saloon at the top end of the street now serves as Nelson’s clubhouse — the “World Headquarters” where he plays chess, sips coffee, enjoys music with friends and, yes, once pitched an environmentally friendly machine that would extract water from the humidity in the air.

We’re not invited into the clubhouse, but the little chapel at the other end of the street is open to all. Nelson preached there as the Rev. Julian Shay in “Red Headed Stranger,” but today’s he’s sharing the pulpit with producer and friend Buddy Cannon and daughter and SiriusXM host Paula Nelson.

By way of introduction, Cannon is ready with some numbers: He’s produced 13 Nelson albums and more than 200 songs (many of which he co-wrote with Nelson) in the last 12 years. He’s arguably one of the most important people in Nelson’s inner circle these days.

During the next hour we’ll hear eight songs from the upcoming album, along with a good amount of applause, a few jokes and one admission from Cannon that the first time he met Nelson was in a broom closet at a coliseum in Amarillo.

(This seems more reasonable when you know the meeting was preceded by the question “Hey, you want to smoke a joint with Willie?”)

Overall, the album seems fun and enjoyable, if unlikely to rake in the kind of critical acclaim received by “God’s Problem Child” or “Last Man Standing.”

Nelson and Cannon preview three songs they co-wrote:

“Come On Time” — A swinging ode to old age that serves as a companion piece in tone and topic to the better Nelson hit “Still Not Dead.”

“One More Song to Write” — The arrangement falls just short of tropical, but this laid-back song wouldn’t seem out of place on a Jimmy Buffett album.

“The Seven Year Itch” — “It means something different to me every time I hear it,” Cannon tells us of the groove-and-move tune. “I still don’t know what that is.”

SiriusXM’s Jeremy Tepper steps in at this point to point out, accurately, that “Seven Year Itch” bears a resemblance to the Tennessee Ernie Ford song “Sixteen Tons” and ask if it was inspired by the 1940s hit.

Nelson either doesn’t quite hear or is confused by the question. But in defense of our host, he’s clearly tired. He played the night before in New Braunfels and now he’s not-quite-slumped into his chair, arms crossed low across his belly.

Nonetheless, at the end of the event, he will step into a biting spring wind and pose for pictures with each of his fans with good-natured grace.

More notable than the Nelson originals on the album are the cover tunes. Two that we hear are more open to criticism:

My Favorite Picture of You” — The languid piano and crooning vocals stand in contrast to Guy Clark’s starkly personal original.

“Just The Way You Are” — Originally meant for a Billy Joel tribute album that never materialized, it seems out of place in this context. And yet, Billy Joel himself emailed Cannon to thank him for “breathing new life into my old song,” when he heard Willie’s cover.

But the preview is book-ended by a couple of covers that will no doubt be clear hits with Nelson fans.

By the end of session, Nelson has the whole crowd singing along with the joyous “It’s Hard to Be Humble,” which was such a big hit for Mac Davis in 1980 that he got away with singing “I must be a hell of a man” on the Muppet Show. With Nelson encouraging us on the chorus, we sing it just as shamelessly in our little white chapel.

The standout song, though, is the album’s title track. Sonny Throckmorton wrote “Ride Me Back Home” after he heard about Nelson’s work adopting and fostering horses in need of a rescue and rehabilitation.

Nelson perks up as the conversation turns to his horses — one of his 70 or so can be seen through an open window, grazing contentedly in a corral not far away — “they’re spoiled rotten,” he happily admits.

Throckmorton is on hand to hear the Nelson cut of his song for the first time — a gentle Western tune overflowing with heart and love for the cowboy’s constant companion.

We’re so used to Willie Nelson the musician or Willie Nelson the marijuana ambassador that sometimes we’ve forgotten about Willie Nelson the cowboy.

But Nelson hasn’t forgotten. At 85, he’s still the same cowboy at heart he was as a boy in Abbott, trying to ride the family cow or follow in the footsteps of movie heroes Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

Trigger, after all, is not just a random name for a guitar. No, it was named after Rogers’ horse. Those music videos filmed here? Nelson has said in prior interviews they are often fueled by a desire to spend some time on his horses at his ranch.

This afternoon was not just about hearing new music or spending a couple hours in the presence of a renowned musician. No, we got to stay a little while in the place where an American icon still lives out his childhood dreams.

We are in Luck, indeed.

“Let’s Face the Music and Dance” — Willie Nelson (April 16, 2013)

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
  1. Let’s Face the Music and Dance
  2. Is the Better Part Over?
  3. You’ll Never Know
  4. Vou Et Moi
  5. Walking My Baby Back Home
  6. Matchbox
  7. Twilight Time
  8. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love
  9. I’ll Keep on Loving You
  10. I wish I didn’t Love You So
  11. South of the Border
  12. Nuages
  13. Marie (the dawn is breaking)
  14. Shame on You

Sneak preview of Willie Nelson’s new album, “Ride Me Back Home”

Monday, April 15th, 2019

A sneak preview of our sneak preview of the upcoming Willie Nelson album “Ride Me Back Home” with Willie, producer Buddy Cannon and SiriusXM’s Paula Nelson at the Luck Chapel at Willie’s ranch in Luck, TX.

Willie and Paula Nelson

Monday, April 15th, 2019

Paula Nelson hosted the sneak preview listening party for Willie Nelson’s new album, “Ride Me Back Home”, for Sirius/XM Radio

New Willie Nelson Album, “Ride Me Back Home” Listening Party in Luck (4/13/2019)

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Thanks, Janis Tillerson, for sharing some candid photos from the sneak preview of Willie Nelson’s new album, “Ride Me Back Home “, in Luck on Saturday. Paula Nelson interviewed Buddy Cannon, who produced the new album which will be released in June. I love these sweet candid photos.

Willie Nelson & his fans

Sunday, April 14th, 2019
Willie Nelson with Elaine Shock, of Shock Inc. Elaine represents and promotes Willie Nelson & Family and supports his public relations.

Willie Nelson and SiriusXM radio had a sneak preview and record review at Willie’s Luck Ranch near Austin on Saturday featuring Willie Nelson’s new album, “Ride Me Back Home”, which will be released in June.

This is Willie and Elaine Shock, of Shock Inc, who represents and promotes Willie Nelson & Family.

Willie with photographer Rick Kern. (Gary Miller took this photo)
“Always a pleasure and a privilege to get to hang out with Willie. Got to take a few pictures and listen to his new album coming out in June.
Also tried a few cups of his special blend coffee. It’s really good.Thx Rick for the pic.” — Gary Miller

Willie Nelson sings on Rodney Crowell’s new album, “Texas”

Thursday, April 11th, 2019
Photo by Mark Humphrey/AP/REX/Shutterstock
by: Stephen Betts

Rodney Crowell, who has chronicled his Texas roots in song as well as in print, has enlisted a host of fellow Texans, including Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Lee Ann Womack, Ronnie Dunn, Steve Earle, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Randy Rogers, for Texas, an album of collaborations. The project will also feature such non-Texans as Vince Gill and Ringo Starr, the latter of whom was the first to reach out to Crowell to express interest in recording with the Houston native.

“For the last few years, I’d been writing Texas-centric songs and revisiting some of my tunes from as far back as the mid-Seventies,” Crowell says in a statement. “Last year, I started referring to the collection of songs as the Texas album…. Ray Kennedy and I took hold of the production reins, enlisted a cast of badass musicians and voilá, Texas was born.”

Texas will be released August 15th, just days after the iconic singer-songwriter is inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, Texas, on August 10th. The LP follows 2018’s formation of Crowell’s own record label, RC1, which issued his Acoustic Classics LP. Last year, he also released the original holiday collection Christmas Everywhere.

Rodney Crowell, Texas track listing:

1. “Flatland Hillbillies” (featuring  Lee Ann Womack & Randy Rogers)
2. “Caw Caw Blues” (featuring Vince Gill)
3. “56 Fury” (featuring Billy F Gibbons)
4. “Deep In the Heart of Uncertain Texas” (featuring Ronnie Dunn, Willie Nelson & Lee Ann Womack)
5. “You’re Only Happy When You’re Miserable” (featuring Ringo Starr)
6. “I’ll Show Me”
7. “What You Gonna Do Now” (featuring Lyle Lovett)
8. “The Border”
9. “Treetop Slim & Billy Lowgrass”
10. “Brown & Root, Brown & Root” (featuring Steve Earle)
11. “Texas Drought Part 1”

Willie Nelson, “Spirit”

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Willie Nelson’s 1996 album Spirit is an emotional concept album illustrating the forlorn tale of a man abandoned by the great love of his life. We follow him down the path of loss as he confronts grief, gets back on his feet, and eventually finds solace in acceptance. While producing Spirit, Nelson assuredly knew the commercial risks behind releasing an album this melancholic. After all, in 1973 he himself wrote “sad songs and waltzes ain’t selling this year.” Beloved by those familiar with Nelson’s deep catalog, Spirit largely slipped through the cracks in the mainstream, but remains highly revered amongst critics and fans alike.

Backed by legendary country fiddler Johnny Gimble (of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys), sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, and his longtime touring guitarist Jody Payne, the song-cycle is anchored by lilting Spanish-inspired instrumentals that absorb a lonesome gravity when placed next to ballads that tug at even the most unwavering heartstrings. Likened to Bob Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind or Waylon Jennings’ Right For the Time, Spirit sees Nelson maturing most gracefully: he trades rousing sing-alongs and saloon tunes for gut-wrenching lyrics and instrumentation of greater precision and skill, proving this release as deep and as challenging as his career-defining albums released twenty years before.


  1. Matador
  2. She is Gone
  3. Your Memory Won’t Die in My Grave
  4. I’m Not Trying to Forget You
  5. Too Sick to Pray
  6. Mariachi
  7. I’m Waiting Forever
  8. We Don’t Run
  9. I Guess I’ve Come to Live Here in Your Eyes
  10. It’s a Dream Come True
  11. I Thought About You, Lord
  12. Spirit of E9
  13. Matador

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Don’t Think Twice (it’s all right)”

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Willie Nelson, “Countryman”

Monday, April 1st, 2019

1.  Do you Mind Too Much If I don’t Understand
2.  How Long is Forever?
3.  I’m a Worried Man” (featuring Toots Hibbert)
4.  The Harder They Come
5. Something to Think About
6. Sitting in Limbo
7. Darkness on the Face of the Earth
8. One in a Row
9. I’ve Just Destroyed the World I’m Living In
10.  You Left Me a Long, Long Time Ago
11.  I Guess I’ve Come to Live Here
12.  Undo the Right

Engineer Ed Cherney wins Grammy for Willie Nelson’s, “My Way”

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA: Veteran sound engineer Ed Cherney has added a fourth Grammy to his figurative trophy shelf for Willie Nelson’s tribute to Frank Sinatra, My Way. It won “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album,” the same category Nelson and Cherney won in 2017 for Nelson’s Gershwin tribute album, Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. Also, on Cherney’s figurative trophy shelf are an Emmy (among four nominations) and eight TEC Awards, and he is a TEC Hall of Fame inductee. Since switching to ATC monitors five years ago, Cherney has never looked back, and both of his recent Grammy wins with Willie Nelson involve work that was tracked and mixed entirely on ATC SCM45A three 3-way nearfield monitors.

“The ‘Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album’ category is crowded with top-end talent like Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand, Bob Dylan, and more, which makes our win all the more meaningful,” Cherney noted. “A big part of my job is to take this cold digital technology and wrest genuine emotion from it. That’s what I try to do, and when I find it, that’s when I try to stop.” Although he wasn’t present for the My Way overdub sessions in Nashville and Texas, Cherney served as the tracking engineer over five days at Studio 2 at EastWest Studios in Hollywood, and he mixed the entire project in his room Studio Ed, at The Village. Concluded Cherney, “The OD’s were recorded in Nashville by Tony Castle, who did a phenomenal job.”

“I’ve tracked dozens of records in Studio 2, and I really think it’s one of the best sounding rooms anywhere on this Earth,” Cherney said. “It’s not big, and it is rectangular. But it sounds magical nonetheless. The low end is sweet and defined and impactful, the midrange is clear and balanced, and you walk out of there with plenty of air all around it. Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings produced the album, and Matt also killed it on keyboards and as arranger. We had David Piltch, one of the best standup bass players in the world, Dean Parks, one of the best guitarists in the world, and Jay Bellerose, one of the best drummers in the world. And of course, Willie, one of the greatest men in the world. I knew that if I could catch what was going on with that group, it was gonna sound great.”


It’s a joy to do records with Willie, Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings. Willie is so awesome that all you want to do is to please him to get his approval. Buddy Cannon knows how to successfully guide a project, but he steers with a light hand. On the album My Way, the music was so great, the arrangements were so great, and the musicians were so great that I really had room at the mix stage to let it breathe. All the elements were there. It sounds good and most importantly it feels great. There is a lot of personality, integrity and honesty, and that’s what I’m always after.” Cherney did the initial mixing by himself on the ATCs before spending a few days with Cannon and Rollings to finalize things. “I wanted Willie to hear it and to be knocked out,” he concluded. And to share the Grammy recognition with Willie, Buddy, Matt and the musicians, knocks me out. A feller couldn’t ask for more than that.

Cherney used the ATC SCM45A monitors during the tracking sessions to make sure he was capturing the magic of those world-class musicians, playing world-class songs, in that world-class room. When everybody comes back into the control room to have a listen to what we just played and recorded, always is the moment of truth for me. I want to knock their socks off. If they ask to hear the playback again, and want me to turn it up, that’s usually a pretty good sign. Even with veteran musicians like these, if they can hear that they sound and feel great, it can contribute to inspiring a phenomenal performance. Playback on the ATCs helped a lot with that. And do you know how you know that you’ve got it? When they want to hear it again!”

Until arriving at the ATCs, Cherney went through loads of different monitors. “I usually had to mix a bunch of songs on every new speaker that I tried, before I was truly comfortable.” he said. “Everyone who does this for a living knows what I mean; you have to get used to the ways a particular pair of monitors bends things. Then you mix to compensate for any shortcomings, with the hope that when you play back on other systems, there are no nasty surprises. That’s a huge amount of anxiety and stress! In contrast, I nailed the very first song I ever mixed on my ATCs. The relationship between the kick and bass was right. The snare level and EQ was right. The level of the solos, vocal balances, reverb and effect amounts was nailed. And now I know for sure that if I get something sounding great in my room on my ATCs, it’s going to sound great everywhere: ear buds, computer speakers, TVs, stereos, streaming, cars, you name it. Having that kind of confidence in my mixes has really freed me up and made my work a lot better. Hell, it’s even made my personal life better because I’m not living with that anxiety and I’m having fun, instead.”

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Billy Bob’s Texas

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
by:  Abe Goolsby

Over 20 years ago, Pat Green became the first artist to record a Live at Billy Bob’s Texas album. Since then, another forty-nine artists would go on to record in the World’s Largest Honky Tonk. Smith Music Group has gathered a collection of their favorite cuts from the last two decades – including icons Willie Nelson and David Allan Coe with newer artists like Shooter Jennings – and put them into a TV Show! You’ll see exclusive interviews, one offs from up-and-comers and intimate backstage acoustic performances.

“It was my Dad’s wish that the Live at Billy Bob’s Texas series would be aired like this,” Ricky Smith, current CEO and son of Smith Music Group founder Rick Smith. “Rick Smith Sr. had a grand plan to record all the big name acts in country at Billy Bob’s Texas and have it air across the country. He recorded a bunch before he passed on, giving Nashville a run for their money. We’ve done a few artists that are outside the Country genre since then, like the Toadies. We’re still hoping to capture as many artists as we can. This is a place that has hosted Chuck Berry and Waylon Jennings.”

A lofty goal, considering the amount of artists that grace the mainstage throughout the year. The 100,000 square foot facility can hold 6000 rowdy patrons on a given night and has been host to hundreds of musical acts, from Alan Jackson to ZZ Top. On Fridays and Saturdays, the venue also features live bull riding – a step up from the mechanical variety. It seems like an unlikely source for a series that has sold millions of albums.

“There are several times that Smith Music Group and Billy Bob’s Texas has put everything on the line to make the album series happen,” Ricky continues. “It takes a whole lot of hard work to get artists like Willie Nelson or The Charlie Daniels Band. But we have them, and more. With this new Live at Billy Bob’s Texas TV series, we hope to find someone that hasn’t seen these videos. Hopefully, a longtime fan will share it with the next generation. After twenty years, there are still quite a few fans that remember that first show with Pat Green. They’re still passing on the memory of that experience every time he comes back to the Billy Bob’s Texas mainstage.”

Billy Bob’s Texas is located in Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth, TX. You can find more information on upcoming events or buy Billy Bob’s Texas merch or tickets at For more information on the city of Fort Worth, go to