Archive for January, 2009

Video of the Week – Mike Runnels: Last Date

Posted in Artists, Upcoming Release, Video, YouTube on January 22, 2009 by takecountryback

Mike Runnels has been one of the most consistent artists making real country music over TCB’s time on the Internet. His newest release is no exception. We wish him the best with this one. Check him out at 

Seth Walker Takes A “Leap Of Faith”

Posted in Artists, Upcoming Release on January 21, 2009 by takecountryback

Original Link

Seth Walker Takes A

Rising star in blues and roots music Seth Walker will make you believe with his forthcoming new album, Leap of Faith, set for release March 3 on Hyena Records. Recorded in Nashville and produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Gary Nicholson, the twelve-track collection showcases Walker’s command of modern rhythm and blues. And while Leap Of Faith centers around Walker’s originals, it also features renditions of other songwriters’ work, including a take on Nick Lowe’s “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide.”

Music audiences around the world were first introduced to Seth Walker with the release of his widely praised, self-titled 2007 Hyena Records debut. It hit the top twenty of the Americana and Living Blues charts, while receiving unanimous praise from publications like No Depression, Blues Revue and Maverick UK Magazine. Walker’s undeniable style is also garnering accolades from legendary artists like Bonnie Raitt, Taj Majal and Delbert McClinton. McClinton makes a guest appearance on Leap of Faith, lending his vocals to the track “Something Fast” and raves, “The first time I heard Seth Walker at a small club in Nashville I was impressed like I haven’t been impressed in 30 years, with performance, presence, and great songs.”

No overnight success, Walker has been developing his craft in his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, for upwards of a decade. Seth took an unlikely path to the blues, growing up on a commune in rural North Carolina as the son of classically trained musicians. He played cello from the age of five before discovering the guitar in his late teens.

Seth Walker will be a featured performer at this year’s South by Southwest, and heads out on a US tour in early 2009. Known for his scorching live shows, he hit the road extensively throughout ’08, performing at world-renowned festivals like Flat Rock in North Carolina, Springfest in Florida, Rawa Blues in Poland and Moulin Blues in Holland. He’s headlined shows across the US, often playing to sold-out rooms, while joining the likes of Johnny Winter, Marcia Ball and Robert Cray for opening appearances.

Texas Real Country Artist Echoes 1960 Cramer Hit on New Original Song

Posted in Artists, Upcoming Release on January 19, 2009 by takecountryback


(Austin, TX) Known as the mystery man of Texas country music, Mike Runnels has been praised for his “knack of recreating the sounds and styles of the days when country music was at its purest,” as Music News Nashville observes. Having won critical acclaim and radio play across North America and Europe and even in Japan, Runnels now delivers another winning slice of true country with his latest single release, “Last Date,” a salute to the musical spirit and style of pianist Floyd Cramer. Runnels is releasing it as a digital single available at iTunes and other online music stores, and has a country noir video of the song that will soon be posted on You Tube.

Taking its cue from the 1960 #2 instrumental pop hit of the same name that introduced Cramer’s influential “slip note” style to the world, “Last Date” is a new Runnels original whose melody and even lyrics resonate with the no-nonsense country music values of some six decades ago while renewing them for the modern age. The track features Cramer-inspired piano work from Grammy-winning Texas keyboard master Floyd Domino, known for his work with Asleep at the Wheel, Merle Haggard, George Strait and many others, and praised by Cramer himself, who noted, “Like me, Floyd plays from the heart, it’s real and I can hear it in every note he plays.” The song also boasts steel guitar by Herb Steiner, whose credits include playing and recording with Linda Ronstadt, Alvin Crow, Michael Martin Murphey, Jerry Jeff Walker, Johnny Bush, Gary P. Nunn and a host of other notables.

Over the last decade, the Austin-based Runnels has some created some of the finest pure country music for the modern age on his albums Top of the World, One More Time, Don’t Tell Candy and most recently Jukebox Boulevard. Reviewers and radio broadcasters here and abroad have praised his “good and solid honky-tonk songs” as “wonderful,” “perfect,” “assured,” “extremely listenable” and “just the music we love.”

Floyd Cramer is a member of both the Country Music and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame whose piano playing made an indelible imprint on American popular music. First making his mark as the pianist for the legendary Louisiana Hayride, Cramer became Nashville’s first-call A-team session piano player in the mid 1950s. “Last Date” established him as a hit recording artist (and even reached #3 on the Black Music chart), and was soon followed by such Top 10 instrumental pop hits as “On The Rebound” and “San Antonio Rose.” He played piano on Elvis Presley’s first national hit, “Heartbreak Hotel,” as well as singles and albums by Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, Brenda Lee, Jim Reeves, Chet Atkins, The Everly Brothers, Don Gibson and countless others.

“I see myself and my art as a tribute to the legendary artists of country music,” explains Runnels. “I’m influenced by them and live in their shadows. And I do my little part to keep this sound alive.”

More information on and music by Mike Runnels can be found at and

Jackson Taylor: New Video and Upcoming Album

Posted in Artists, Texas Music, Upcoming Release, Video, YouTube on January 12, 2009 by takecountryback

Jackson Taylor and the Original Sinners have a great video out now to entertain you while you wait patiently for the release of their upcoming album, Aces and Eights, coming in March 2009!

Watch closely; Honky Tonk Heroes will give you a chance to catch a few of your favorite Texas artists including Jason Boland, Jarrod Birmingham and of course the one and only Billy Joe Shaver!

Legendary cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphey to host 7th annual award show

Posted in News, Texas Music on January 12, 2009 by takecountryback

PALESTINE, TX – Legendary cowboy singer, and author of “Wildfire,” one of the most popular songs in music history, Michael Martin Murphey will host the 7th annual Texas Music Awards on Sunday, April 26, 2009 at the Palestine Civic Center in Palestine. 

A native Texan, Murphey has enjoyed a stellar career, performing concerts worldwide and garnering fans from every generation. Performing since the sixties, Murphey’s music has stood the test of time with hits like “Wildfire,” one of the most requested songs of all time, “Cherokee Fiddle” which found its way to the “Urban Cowboy” soundtrack, and a host of others including “What’s Forever For,” “Carolina In The Pines,” and “Long Line Of Love.”

Murphey hosted the 2006 Texas Music Awards, and returns as a member of the Academy of Texas Music, Inc. which makes him eligible for the awards himself. Nominees for the awards will be named February 1st, and Murphey admits he’s hoping to get nominated.

Tommy Hooper, Vice President of the Academy of Texas Music, Inc. is excited about Murphey’s return. “Murph did such a great job of hosting in 2006. It took us three years and a lot of work, but I’m so glad we have him back to host again.”

The awards show, presented this year by Northeast Texas-based, the retail partner of the show’s production company, Payline Productions, presents awards to independent Texas performers in several categories.

The annual event also serves as a fundraiser for the non-profit Academy of Texas Music, Inc. a public charity which seeks sponsorships and donations to further its efforts toward music education programs, scholarships, recognition projects, and benevolence programs for musicians in need.

The show will feature performances by several nominated acts and awards presented in fifteen categories. Michael Martin Murphey will perform a full concert after the show. Only ticket holders for the awards show will be treated to the free concert immediately following the awards show.

Jinelle Boyd, Executive Director of the Academy of Texas Music, Inc. and co-founder of the Texas Music Awards explains how important this process is to the nominees.

”Many independent artists need something to bridge the gap between regional success and the national attention they deserve. The Texas Music Awards not only serve to give these artists a stepping stone to bigger and better things, but reward artists for excellence regardless of their current level of notoriety. We’re very pleased that superstar performers such as Michael Martin Murphey are realizing the importance of the Academy and the power of independent music.”

Gates will open at 11:00 a.m. and nominees will arrive via limousine to a red carpet affair starting at noon on April 26th. The show will begin at 2:00 p.m. and the concert will begin around 6:00 p.m. As with most major awards shows, the length of the process can be affected by factors during the show, so the concert start time is only an estimate.

The voting process includes a public voting component, and interested fans are encouraged to visit the Texas Music Awards website to learn more about the process which begins February 2nd and continues through February 20th. 

“The collective public vote is important,” says Boyd, “but the bulk of the voting is done by the Academy Voting Board which is comprised of those who have received the awards over the past six years. This year’s recipients will be added to the Voting Board. This is how we insure that the awards are more about the music and less of a simple popularity contest.”

Sponsorships are still available for the 2009 show and range from $100 to $50,000. Each level of sponsorship comes with a pre-determined number of tickets, so this is a sure way to get good seats. Public access to tickets is slated to begin on March 1st, and a quick sell out is expected. Members of the Academy of Texas Music, Inc. will have advance access to ticket sales. Fans can join as a voting member of the Academy at for an annual fee of $40, which serves to further the charitable mission of the Academy.


News: Play It Again, and We’ll Sue

Posted in News, Royalty Rate Issues on January 9, 2009 by takecountryback

Original Link

After a 30-year run, the owner of the Sacred Grounds Coffee House in San Francisco has shut down the Thursday night open mics. Mamma Llama, a small coffeehouse in Weaverville, Calif., no longer features musicians from near and far. Open mics at the Ragged Edge Coffee House in Gettysburg, Pa., are down from 50 to 60 audience members to no more than 15 these days.

These grass-roots music events, spawning grounds for the next generation of musical talent, have come up against the demands of US copyright law, as enforced by a handful of companies who act as collection agents for songwriters and composers. The law states that no performer in a public venue can present someone else’s copyrighted music without their permission and, usually, without compensating them. A number of agencies, chief among them Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), charge music venues an annual copyright “license fee” ranging from $300 to nearly $10,000 for the privilege of presenting someone else’s music.

Much of the music at those Ragged Edge open mics was written by the performers, but there was also cover music from the likes of Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead. ASCAP wanted a license fee of $900 a year from Ragged Edge owner Jake Schindel. He paid up and, to recoup that expense, started charging a cover fee, which caused attendance to dwindle. He was losing money, stopped paying the fee, and has cut back his musical offerings to unadvertised – and often poorly attended – events.

Bruce Schrader, who owns the Sacred Grounds Coffee House, tried to keep his open mics going by having his performers sign waivers stating they were playing only their original songs. Nevertheless, he was faced with demands for $6,000 in license fees from the agencies and had to shut down the weekly event last year.

“Their argument,” Mr. Schrader said, “was that I couldn’t possibly know whether the performers were singing any of the millions of copyrighted songs they represent, so I’d better get a license if I didn’t want to get sued.”

As soon as Mamma Llama owner Steve Friedman agreed to pay ASCAP an $800 annual fee, two other agencies demanded license fees. So he just stopped offering live music. “It was impossible to have the music without getting continuous calls and e-mails from these guys demanding payment,” he recalls.

Smaller music venues around the country are struggling to pay these licensing fees. Many simply get worn down by repeated demands from the agencies for payment and threats of costly lawsuits and simply drop live music offerings altogether.

“It’s killing the local music scene,” laments folk musician Spook Handy, who’s seen performance venues in his hometown of New Brunswick, N.J., drop from around 40 in the mid-1980s to half a dozen now. “We’re not bringing up a new generation of musicians. They just don’t have places to play.”

There’s general agreement in the music industry that the number of small venues offering live music is declining, although it’s not clear how much of this is due to enforcement of copyright law.

Vince Candilora, ASCAP’s vice president for licensing, says the fees are set at a “very good rate,” adding, “What gives anyone the right to use someone else’s property, even though they’re not making money on it? I can guarantee you the phone company’s going to charge you whether you’re making money or not.”

Despite this tough talk, there has been a softening in fees: ASCAP lowered its rates for the smallest venues last January, down from around $1,000 a year to $350, closely matching BMI’s current rates.

And there’s the possibility of more reductions: The Memphis-based Folk Alliance, an advocate for up-and-coming artists, is negotiating with BMI to cut fees even further. BMI is receptive to the idea, according to Alliance negotiator Renee Bodie, and she hopes new rates will be in place in the next six months and that ASCAP will match any new BMI fees.

“We’re discussing ways to give these smaller places a break,” acknowledges BMI spokesman Jerry Bailey. “We realize they’re helping to support the next generation of performers.”

If that’s the case, BMI has some fence-mending to do. Coffeehouse owners complain of intimidation tactics. Bailey says lawsuits are threatened, and sometimes pursued, only when BMI has proof that violations of copyright law have occurred.

One southern California coffeehouse owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was able to get his total annual fees down to $1,000 from three agencies by telling them he wouldn’t open unless he got rock-bottom rates. That was 10 years ago. He’s still in business, but not happy about having to pay even those fees: “We’re the people who give performers their start, and we have to pay for the privilege.”

Ryebender – Alaskan Americana (recommended)

Posted in Americana, Audio, new release on January 8, 2009 by takecountryback

(press release)Ryebender are no ordinary rock band. And with three of four members hailing from the farthest outpost of the union, they don’t make ordinary music either. Brothers Mark and Jason Ward, fellow Alaskan Lennie Dietsch and drummer, Michael Carpenter are primed to shake Americana music to its core.Audio Link: Gravity


The guitars, harmonies, songwriting and shear musical craftsmanship of the band’s debut album, ‘Hollow and Drifting’, shows that we are dealing with musicians with an unusual sense of what makes a song great.

Theirs is a combination of indie sensibilities, country and folk roots and a rare sense of harmony and arrangement. The music of Ryebender is at once familiar and new, strange and comforting. It has what all great songwriting has: the moment where you only realize what is said after it has gone.

On ‘Your Time Has Come and Gone’, they sing “I can’t turn the page without thinking you just can’t make it right by another wrong.” It is typical of the simplicity and beauty of their lyrics, and their music. It is the simplicity that great country based music should always have and so often does not.

Maybe it is the frontier mentality that still exists in Alaska, but is missing from so much of the rest of the country, that keeps Ryebender singing about a ‘One Horse Town’ where they sing “the same old songs”. Maybe it is that mentality that makes this record sound like a paean to an America that could soon be a thing of the past.

There are elements of 60’s greats like the Byrds in this music, just as there are traces of modern songwriting icons such as Ryan Adams and Uncle Tupelo.

Yet, despite the comparisons, the sound of Ryebender is very much their own. And despite the fact that the original members have left their homes to move to places as far-flung as Chicago, Oregon and Sun Valley, the mood is still very much Alaskan in spirit.

This band plays, sings and writes about the heart of Americana, as it is and as it was, and for that we salute them. I’m sure you will too.

‘Hollow and Drifting’ is available now in all good record stores and online at Amazon, CDBaby, iTunes and many others.