Ralph Stanley & Elton John: Country Is Rockin’

Jaw-dropping. There’s probably not a better phrase to describe an all-star band that’s being put together by producer T Bone Burnett. Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, who sung the Grammy-winning “O Death” on T Bone’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, will share the stage with keyboard players Elton John and Leon Russell, eclectic rocker Elvis Costello, Americana artist Neko Case and actor Jeff Bridges under the banner T Bone Burnett’s Speaking Clock Revue. They’ll be assembled Oct. 24 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif., during the second day of Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit. The rock-and-country mix in T Bone’s ensemble is reflective of the multi-genre texture of the event’s larger lineup. Country-rock pioneers Buffalo Springfield will reunite for the weekend, and country’s Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson will play the same stage as Americana’s Lucinda Williams, classic-rockers Jackson Browne and Billy Idol, and modern-rock bands Pearl Jam and Modest Mouse. The link between country artists and their pop and rock peers is strong these days. And it’s in full force in a lot of ways. Among other notable examples: Read More

Ryan Bingham Wins Two Americana Awards

Film makers want very much for the general public to buy in to the magic of movies. You can count Ryan Bingham among those who believe in celluloid’s power. After sharing a Golden Globe and an Oscar Award for Best Song with T Bone Burnett for writing the “The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart),” Ryan took home two trophies — Song and Artist of the Year — Thursday during the ninth annual Americana Music Association Honors & Awards in Nashville. The Americana nods only add to the lists in which Ryan finds himself. The Song of the Year Oscar put him in the company of such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Henry Mancini and Irving Berlin — all of whom have won the Film Academy’s Best Song prize at least once. Ryan’s new album, Junky Star, made its chart debut this week, landing at No. 2 on the Billboard Country Albums list. And the Americana Artist of the Year trophy put him on yet another list among such previous winners as Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Neil Young and Jim Lauderdale, who hosted Thursday’s show. Read More

Willie Nelson Readies Farm Aid 25

In September 1985, Willie Nelson established a charity he hoped would be short-lived. Instead, the work goes on, and on Oct. 2, he’ll present Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope For America. Willie wore a Milwaukee Brewers jersey for the online announcement on Monday in recognition of the venue, Miller Park. The concert marks the first time that Farm Aid will be held at a major-league baseball stadium. John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews — all of whom serve as board members for the organization — are on tap for the concert. Other acts will be named at a later date. Willie lamented that Farm Aid is still necessary, noting that the event has “called attention to the problem, but we have not solved the problem.” Read More