Archive for January, 2008


Posted in Artists, contest, Upcoming Release with tags , on January 30, 2008 by takecountryback
“Cheney’s Toy” available in time for Super Tuesday as free mp3 download via eMusic exclusive on Monday February 4

AUSTIN, Texas – Singer/songwriter James McMurtry is once again making a political statement through his music. On his new song “Cheney’s Toy”, McMurtry picks up where he left off with his controversial anthem “We Can’t Make it Here.” “Cheney’s Toy” reminds us that the war in Iraq is still going on — with veiled references to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and the stark image of a soldier who returned from the conflict, blind and brain damaged.

In order to make sure people get the message, McMurtry is giving away the song for free on February 4 exclusively through eMusic’s Daily Download. On the Super Tuesday primary day (February 5) fans will be able to download the mp3 from McMurtry’s MySpace page and Lightning Rod Records’ website (links below).

McMurtry and Lightning Rod Records are encouraging fans to use the free mp3 to create their own videos and post them online. McMurtry will choose the best videos and post them on his official MySpace page and website. If needed, fans can create videos using slideshow applications at Creators of each of the top five video creators will receive t-shirts and autographed copies of McMurtry’s new album, Just Us Kids (in stores April 15, 2008). McMurtry’s choice for the best overall video will also receive an 8 Gb Apple iPod nano with video capabilities. Fans can send links to their videos to
“We Can’t Make it Here” reverberated wildly across the internet and the airwaves, igniting a grassroots firestorm that has brought legions of new fans to the singer/songwriter’s work. Fan-made videos of “We Can’t Make It Here” have been viewed more than 170,000 times on YouTube.

“Cheney’s Toy” at eMusic:

James McMurtry’s MySpace page:

RockYou slideshow application:

James McMurtry’s YouTube page:

Lightning Rod Records mp3 link:

“Cheney’s Toy”
Words and Music by James McMurtry

Another unknown soldier
Another lesson learned
Kick the gas can over
Strike a match get back and watch that sucker burn

Keep smiling for the camera
Keep waving to the crowd
Don’t let up for an instant
Stay the course and make your mama proud

         You’re the man
          Show’em what you’re made of
          You’re no longer daddy’s boy
          You’re the man
          That they’re all afraid of
          But you’re only Cheney’s toy

Another unknown soldier
Who’s seen it all before
All in the name of Jesus
Behind the razor wire and shackled to the floor

Just keep smiling at the cameras
And keep that twinkle in your eye
We don’t need to know the answers
Long as we’re safe, just hit your marks and say your lines

         You’re the man
          Show ’em what you’re made of
          You’re no longer daddy’s boy
          Take a stand
          Give ’em what they paid for
          ‘Cause you’re only Cheney’s toy

They’ll take a fork and turn you over
While the fat lady sings
One more pin on one more shoulder
Is all the future brings
For another unknown soldier
Who don’t know his own name
And he won’t get any older
And he can’t see for the shrapnel in his brain

         (Multi Chorus)

Boy Named Shel

Posted in Books with tags on January 27, 2008 by takecountryback

Which Shel Silverstein is your favorite?

The groundbreaking Playboy cartoonist? The celebrated children’s book author? The venerated Nashville songsmith? The gravel-voiced poet of the surreal? The obscure off-Broadway playwright? The Academy Award-nominated screenwriter?

Silverstein led many lives, and biographer Lisa Rogak examines all of them in “A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein” (Thomas Dunne Books; $24.95; 239 pages).

The truth is, Silverstein will probably always be best known for books like “The Giving Tree,” “Where The Sidewalk Ends” and “A Light in the Attic,” but his works for children were always aimed at adults as well. And some of his lesser-known poems and songs — fueled by his unquenchable libido, his randy sense of humor and his disdain for the pigeonholing of artistic impulses — would make even adults blush.

Silverstein, Rogak emphasizes, refused to be chained to any one methodology, medium, location or relationship. Add to the list above, for example, the fact that Silverstein, who favored art over commerce, was also a serious painter, who rarely showed his work.

He was notorious for exiting gatherings in the middle of a conversation. He never married. He lived in apartments and houses in Greenwich Village, Key West and Martha’s Vineyard, but only when he wasn’t visiting the Playboy mansions in Chicago or Los Angeles, or jetting off to the Orient in search of sushi.

Silverstein was born to Jewish immigrant parents in Chicago in 1930, and his childhood was troubled at best. His mother, Helen, coddled him and his father, Nathan, could never find words to approve of anything young Shel did, especially his drawings.

But Silverstein was determined not to take over the family bakery. Despite his famously bad spelling, he wanted to be a cartoonist, and after a stint lampooning military life in the Pacific for The Stars and Stripes, he found himself on the ground floor of Playboy as it became a defining force of American publishing in the late 1950s.

Silverstein soon inserted himself in the Chicago folk scene (where he penned The Irish Rovers’ eventual smash hit, “The Unicorn,” in 1962), establishing a lifelong pattern of making art of one kind or another out of his observations.

He was never without a notebook, stashed into one of his “grotty” well-worn pirate shirts or bobbling around in his leather satchel.

Soon enough, he was writing one hit song after another in Nashville (including Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue,” Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s “Sylvia’s Mother” and Loretta Lynn’s “One’s on the Way”); hiding out in his Sausalito houseboat; or taking one of his epic head-clearing walks.

Silverstein himself sired two children by different mothers (his daughter Shoshanna died in 1982 at age 11 from an aneurysm, and his son Matthew, born in 1983, is his sole heir), but his peripatetic lifestyle made him less than an ideal father.

He was too focused on living inside the moment to notice much of what was happening outside of it.

All humans are bundles of contradictions. Silverstein was a bigger bundle — a man, who, for example, rarely drank, but would book a red-eye flight for a good banana pudding.

As he aged he typically refused to be trapped by his own legend, stating to old pal Hugh Hefner, “If I’ve created an image of a world traveler, an adventurer and the fact is that I want to sit down and grow roses and live with Suzie Q., then I’m going to do it. I’m not going to be bound by my own (expletive).”

Rogak is diligent in her research (especially considering Silverstein, who died in 1999, refused virtually any media interviews after 1975) and includes remarks from many famous and not-so-famous friends, including singers Judy Henske, Bob Gibson and Bobby Bare, Playboy cartoonist Skip Williamson and playwright David Mamet.

Occasionally,”A Boy Named Shel” feels churned out.

Still, the subject is fascinating, and “A Boy Named Shel” is a revealing peek into the mind behind both “Runny Babbit” and “Freakin’ at the Freakers Ball.”

Win a chance to attend the Texas Music Awards

Posted in contest with tags , on January 27, 2008 by takecountryback

I thought TCB readers would be interested in this contest being hosted by the good folks at Check it out!

Also TCB has a couple of contests coming up for the new Shelby Lynne and Tift Merritt albums — stay tuned to our main page for details!

1.) Texas Music Awards Contest – Runs from January 12th 2008 – March
31st 2008

You need to write a story/essay about you favorite/fondest Texas Country
Moment. It can be anything like a special concert, meeting a star,
meeting a friend/lover or anything related to Texas Country. The best
three stories will win a prize pack from TRDMS and our sponsors.


Just simply submit your Name, Gender, Age Address and eMail!

Submit entries to

3 Prize Packs will be awarded randomly. when you submit your information
you will be assigned a number corresponding to your entry number. On
April 1st three numbers will be randomly selected and winners will be
notified by April 3rd and posted on the blog by April 12th.

1. First Place:
* 2 Tickets to the Texas Music Awards in Palestine on May 3rd
* A room at Best Western Palestine for Friday and Saturday Night.
* 2 CD’s from the Prize Closet
* 1 t-Shirt from the Prize Closet
2. Second Place:
* 2 CD’s from the Prize Closet
* 1 t-Shirt from the Prize Closet
3. Third Place:
* Any one item from the Prize Closet

More prizes may be added as time goes on. Prize packs and rules are
subject to change at anytime.


Must be 18 years old to claim 1st place prize package and at least 14
years old to claim the other prizes. All entries become property of
TRDMS and contact info will not be redistributed or sold to other
parties. Although TRDMS reserves the right to send an occasional eMail
about contest or other special projects we have.

Listen in: Better Days Episode 311

Posted in Podcast, Radio with tags , , on January 25, 2008 by takecountryback

This is one of my favorite weekly broadcasts. Doug Lang hosts Better Days on CFRO Radio (Vancouver BC) each Thursday night. Since he’s two time zones away I usually end up listening on Friday morning. It’s always a treat to see what he airs each week – his taste is eclectic but superb. Not only will you find a mix of new releases and an abundance of treasures, Doug will often share his own talents via in studio performances of his songs or spoken word recitations. I’m going to make an effort to make sure I pass on the listening links and playlist each week as I think there are many TCB readers who would enjoy the programming as well. Here is last night’s episode for your enjoyment titled “Sister Mercy” in remembrance of John Stewart.


Sister Mercy

Listening Links

Listen to Part One (starts a few minutes in)
Listen to Part Two
End of last song here…


Lookin’ For Better Days (theme) – Wayne Hancock
Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt – Chris Smither
Louisiana 1927 – Martin Simpson
Hallelujah – John Cale
Tell Somebody – Rickie Lee Jones
Shine On – Eric Bibb
You Don’t Come See Me Anymore – Malcolm Holcombe
Family Reunion – Corb Lund
High Shelf Booze – Eilen Jewel
Shattered Cross – Darrell Scott
The Dowie Dens Of Yarrow – Karine Polwart
Awake At Night (Wendell Berry) – Read by Doug
Sea Fever – Kris Delmhorst
July You’re A Woman – John Stewart
Sister Mercy – John Stewart
Horses (Wendell Berry) – Read by Doug 
Broken Roses – John Stewart
I’d Rather Be Dancing – Jim Page
Waist Deep In The Big Muddy – Richard Shindell
Unfaithful Servant – Rosanne Cash
The Waking Hour – David Francey
Whiskey, Bob Copper & Me – Linda Thompson
Lincoln’s Man – Ben Bedford

Radio still plays key role for music industry

Posted in News, Radio with tags , on January 24, 2008 by takecountryback

By Russ Corey

Despite the growing popularity of the Internet as a means of distributing recorded music, radio still plays a major role in helping listeners discover new artists.Radio is no different from many businesses that are experiencing changes in the digital age, said Brian Rickman, programming director for URBan Radio Group in Tuscumbia.

Rickman said radio might not be the first place to turn to when someone wants to hear their favorite songs, but it is the primary medium where people will discover new music.

“They will be exposed to it here first,” Rickman said.

Once they discover the artist, a new fan will likely utilize the Internet to learn more about the artist or to download their music.

“There’s no doubt the Internet is incredibly important to artists these days,” Rickman said.

Record producer Rick Hall, who founded FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, agrees that radio is and will remain the primary means of bringing new artists to the public.

While he believes artists could have a hit recording by utilizing the Internet to distribute their music, “I don’t believe you can have a giant hit without radio.”

Shoals music business insider Dick Cooper said radio “is one of the places you as a fan can discover artists you like.”

Cooper, who recently became the chief operating officer of Rockin’ Camel Records in Gadsden, said radio today, whether it’s traditional radio, satellite radio or Internet radio, gives new artists more avenues to target their particular audience.

“Radio still plays an important role in the music business. It’s just more diverse,” he said.

Bob Garfrerick, director of the Entertainment Industry Center at the University of North Alabama, said radio is more important in bringing country music to the marketplace than it is to rock. He said country artists must have radio play “to be big.”

Like Cooper, Garfrerick said he sees a more fractured marketplace, and new artists that do their homework can use the Internet and other means to find their target audience.

“The key for the artist is to know where the potential buyers will be,” Garfrerick said.

The Drive-By Truckers, an Athens, Ga., band with roots in the Shoals, have used the Internet, word of mouth and a grueling touring schedule to take their alt-rock country sound to the masses with very limited radio play.

“If you’re getting played on the radio, I think it’s still relevant,” said Truckers’ founder Patterson Hood, who grew up in the Shoals. “It has not been very relevant in my band’s career. There are so many bands I like that don’t get played on the radio, but find ways to make up for it.”

Hood said he can count on his fingers the number of stations that are playing the Truckers’ music.

In the markets where the music does receive radio play, places like Seattle, Wash., and Charleston, S.C., there are more people attending Truckers’ shows, Hood said.

But that leaves a large portion of the country where the Truckers have had to find other methods of getting their music noticed.

“The Internet has been a saving grace for us,” Hood said.

The Truckers recently have been broadcast from the airwaves of WLAY 92.3 “The Sound,” URBan’s all-Shoals music.

Hood said the press has also helped, whether it be in the form of an interview or a record review. Hood said he believes if someone has read something good about the band, they’re likely to come to a show.

And then there are the live shows, which Hood admits has been the best way for the Truckers to spread their music.

“We’ve sold more records playing live, more than any other thing,” he said.

Even without widespread radio play or a new album to tour behind, Hood said the band enjoyed one of it’s most successful tours this year.

“It’s like chasing a dragon. I’m not sure I believe in dragons,” Hood said. “Our band has had our biggest successes when we’ve done things most people said we couldn’t.”

The indie band Glossary of Murfreesboro, Tenn., utilized the Internet to release its fifth album, “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” and invited fans to download it for free.

Download demands crashed the band’s Web site the first day. The album is also available on compact disc and a vinyl version will be offered in January.

The British rock band Radiohead, which is no longer signed to a major record label, released its new album “In Rainbows” on its Web site and allowed fans to download it for whatever price they chose to pay.

Garfrerick said producing and recording your music and releasing it on the Internet or selling discs at shows is a good business model used by young bands because they retain the profits.

Hall said he plans to integrate the Internet in his business model for the resurrected FAME Records label.

It will basically remain true to the old school way of producing records and getting them played on the radio. A big difference from the early days: he will be utilizing the Internet to allow fans to download the music.

Rickman said for traditional radio stations to keep up with the changing times, they will also have to embrace the Internet and offer features such as streaming audio to reach listeners outside the range of their AM or FM signal.

Getting music on the radio is still done in relatively the same way, Rickman said. A record label’s promotional people must convince programmers and consultants to play their artist’s music.

Cooper said there are still stations that will accept independent music from artists, such as Mighty Field of Vision Internet radio.

“What they emphasize is independently produced and recorded music,” Cooper said.

URBan’s “The Sound” will also accept music created by local artists.

Hall said as long as there is music, and he’s assured there will be, there will always be radio to bring it to the masses.

“I don’t see it diminishing at all,” Cooper said. “What I see is it broadening its base.”

Owen Temple Travels Two Thousand Miles

Posted in Artists, Upcoming Release, Video, YouTube with tags on January 24, 2008 by takecountryback

New CD Propels Texas Singer Beyond The Lone Star State
Records Album With Legendary Producer Lloyd Maines

Nashville, Tenn.—With grit and a grin, Texas-based singer/songwriter Owen Temple comes barreling out of the Lone Star state with his new album Two Thousand Miles. The record, produced by famed Texasmusic legend Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks, Terri Hendrix, Terry Allen), is a dusty backroads blend of heartache and hope. The album is being released on a staggered schedule. It’s been available since late summer as a digital download on and will be released on iTunes in December. The physical record releases nationally today, Jan. 22, 2008.

It’s just the latest bold move from the charismatic singer who strives to be as innovative with the business side of his career as he is with his music. Temple says, “The idea was to not put any barriers between the fans hearing the new record right away — and then to let things grow from there.”

If the growth of CD sales follows Temple’s career arc—steadily upward—then he’ll soon be as wellknown to the rest of the country as he is in Texas. Since his 1997 debut, General Store, he’s been building fans, wowing critics and winning accolades at a heady pace. His 2002 release, Right Here and Now sold nearly 20,000 copies. His career’s been picking up steam ever since. In fact, just this year he won the prestigious B.W. Stevenson Songwriting Contest, awarded every year in April at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas, Texas. He’s also been a New Folk Finalist at the world-renowned Kerrville Folk Festival.

When his distributor went belly up before paying him for sales of Right Here and Now, Temple decided to return to school and pursue a graduate degree in psychology in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s hard to beat the songwriting bug into submission once it bites and the 31-year-old singer felt he’d left some business undone. So, one-class shy of getting his master’s degree, he decided to go after an advanced degree in making great music. A self-described family man, he approached his wife about giving the music thing another go. With her blessing he jumped back into the fire. He reunited with Maines, who had produced his first two albums, and went into the studio with a new batch of songs. The results and Temple’s growth as artist are evident throughout Two Thousand Miles.

He’s at home in the gritty realism that harkens back to his songwriting heroes like Steve Earle and Joe Ely. Rough and ragged characters on the edge (“Like We Still Care,” “Demolition Derby”) sit comfortably alongside heartfelt ruminations on love (“You Want To Wear That Ring,” “You Don’t Have To Be Lonely”). The stirring title track is a radio-ready, roll-down-the-windows anthem that showcases a singer ready for prime time.

Owen Temple is a man and songwriter who has traveled thousands of miles, literally and artistically. The new record has been a lifetime in the making. Through all the miles and highways he’s traveled, Temple has come to a new beginning. One that finds him on the verge of greatness. And you can’t get there without putting the miles behind you.

Why Things Suck: Radio

Posted in Industry, mp3, Radio with tags , on January 24, 2008 by takecountryback

By Brendan I. Koerner Email 01.18.08 | 6:00 PM

Unless you enjoy hearing the same insipid Fergie song a dozen times a day, chances are you loathe mainstream radio. And for good reason: The FM band between 92.1 and 107.9, where commercial stations reign, is mostly a desert of robo-DJs and pop pabulum.The sad decline of conventional radio is an Econ 101 lesson in the consequences of artificial scarcity — and a B-school case study on the limits of scientific management. The scarcity is the fault of the Federal Communications Commission, which decided in the mid-1940s to confine FM broadcasting to its current frequency range, roughly between 88 and 108 MHz. The FCC’s spectrum-allocation rules, designed to prevent station signals from interfering with one another, further limited the number of broadcasting licenses it granted in any one market.

By the ’70s, thanks to a fecund period in popular music, a generation of audacious DJs, and cheap radios, FM had become wildly popular. That made stations valuable properties — so valuable, in fact, that only large companies could afford to buy and manage them. “The legal cost alone of getting on the air is enormous,” says Jesse Walker, author of the radio history Rebels on the Air. The government could have eased this situation by allocating more spectrum for radio use and increasing the number of licenses, Walker argues. Instead, Congress chose to relax the rules regarding the number of stations any one entity could own.

That’s where the scientific management comes in. The biggest barriers to building a radio audience are the polarizing power of music and the plethora of choices on the dial. So, when corporations like Clear Channel started buying up stations in the late ’90s, they set about building a lowest-common-denominator product that would be attractive to the most listeners. “There’s this idea of the perfect playlist,” Walker says. “Find it with research and attract the perfect audience.” But it turns out that the most lucrative audience is really just “people who will not change the channel during the ads.” The result: watered-down programming designed primarily not to offend.

So bored consumers are just tuning out. Listenership among 18- to 24-year-olds is down 20 percent over the past decade. Stations have responded not with bold programming but by cutting costs. They’ve also expended considerable resources to squelch competition from low-powered FM stations and Internet radio. Not that it has helped — 85 percent of teenagers now discover new music through sources beyond the FM dial. Even the biggest radio fans envision a grim future for the medium. One bright spot: The inevitable shift to digital radio could create more room for more types of content.