Trampled by Turtles at Baltimore Soundstage

Last night I went to see Trampled by Turtles at Baltimore Soundstage with Upstate as the opening act. As one might expect from a band called Upstate they are from upstate New York. They have kind of a folky jazzy sound. They had some really nice harmonies, which I always appreciate. They were a decent opening act. Their music probably isn’t something I’m going to choose to sit around and listen to, but I didn’t mind it and they were entertaining enough performers. That’s really all you can ask for in an opening act.

I’ve seen Trampled by Turtles live several times in the past, but this is the first time that I’ve seen them somewhere other than the Newport Folk Festival. I don’t really have too much to say about this particular concert. They are always a super fun time. Their music creates a lot of energy and the crowd was really into it. They played all the songs I wanted to hear, so I have nothing to complain about in that regard. They were lots of fun as always. It was an excellent night.

New Music Friday: Searching for the Truth by Katie Pruitt

I’m still going strong with the ladies of country music in my New Music Friday posts. Today I’m talking about Katie Pruitt who released her first length album, Expectations, today. She is someone who is never going to get any mainstream country radio airplay because not only is she a woman, but she’s also queer, something she sings a lot about on this album. She spent four years writing this album while processing her sexuality, the struggles of coming out to devoutly Christian family, and her own faith. The songs are all very personal and full of a lot of very beautiful songs. Go give it a listen.

Although the title song “Expectations” is probably my favorite song on the album it’s not really representative of the sound of the rest of the album, so I’m going to talk about “Searching for the Truth”. It’s a song that rings very true to me after the last few years with the realization that the world and the people in it kind of suck in a way that I wasn’t really cognizant of before. But after most of the song is seemingly really bleak it ends on a hopeful chorus, which I appreciate and most days is where I can get myself back to. It’s at least where I aspire to be because without hope there is no way to make things change for the better.

New Music Friday: It Won’t Always Be Like This by Carly Pearce

Carly Pearce’s self titled sophomore album came out today. I adored her first album, which she did get some country radio airplay for. I am equally in love with this album, which so far I haven’t heard getting any love on the radio. Stephen Thompson said on this week’s New Music Friday episode of the All of Songs Considered podcast that Carly Pearce would have been a huge star in country music if it was 1995 and he’s not wrong. It’s probably why I love her music so much because 90’s country music is my favorite.

I was unsure what song from the album I actually wanted to feature here because I really like almost every song on it. I finally decided to go with “It Won’t Always Be Like This” because Carly Pearce co-wrote it with Natalie Hemby and Sam Ellis and I love Natalie Hemby, so it lets me promote two awesome country ladies at the same time. It’s a lovely country ballad about really living in the moment and cherishing the times you are living through as you’re living them rather than waiting and realizing what special times they were in your memories. Take a listen to this song, but I also encourage to seek out the whole album because it’s great.

New Music Friday: Run Away with Me by Michaela Anne

I’m still plowing ahead with new music by country female artists over here in my New Music Friday posts. This week I have “Run Away with Me”, the newest single off of Michaela Anne’s third album Desert Dove. The album came out last year at the end of September, but this song was just released as a single a few weeks ago. It reminds me a lot of the music being put out by country women in the 90’s, which was my favorite. Don’t let country radio make you think there aren’t great female country artists out there.

 

New Music Friday: I Hope by Gabby Barrett

I had a completely different country song by a female artist lined up to talk about this morning, but instead I’m going to talk about this song that isn’t really new at all by any stretch of the imagination. Based on the date it was released on YouTube it’s actually almost exactly one year old. However I’m going to go with it for a couple reasons. First, I heard it on actual country radio for the first time yesterday, which makes it count as new to me. Second, the reason that was notable for me was because this is one of the songs I heard the songwriter Zach Kale sing at the Listening Room Cafe in my recent trip to Nashville.

I don’t want to actually say too much about the song “I Hope” by Gabby Barrett because part of the fun of hearing this song for the first time is not really knowing where it’s going. It’s a great country song that way. I don’t know of any other genre that is so good with lyrical turns as country music is. This was one of my favorite songs of the night, and I’m excited to have heard it on country radio and sung by a woman no less.

New Music Friday: Nightfall by Little Big Town

I hope you all are ready for some country music by women because after my latest trip to Nashville I’m even more determined to promote female country artists. Despite what country radio would have you believe, they do in fact exist. It’s only January 24 and I already have enough new music tagged to write New Music Friday posts for an entire month. That will obviously only continue to grow. I think I might just write about country ladies until I run out of them.

My first post is actually about Little Big Town, a country group that is mostly fronted by ladies but which is composed of two women and two men. So there are some songs fronted by men, but for the most part Karen Fairchild is their frontwoman so I’m going to go with it. They have actually been a fixture in country music radio for the past decade until this album apparently. Their new album Nightfall came out last Friday, but I haven’t heard either of the singles that have been out since last fall on my local country station.

It’s probably because the new album for the most part doesn’t fit into country music’s current obsession with men and their obsessions with trucks, women, and drinking. Stephen Thompson from NPR music called it “…very adult songwriting. Songs for grownups about grownups.” That is not something country music seems terribly interested in. It’s not really a surprise that country music radio didn’t want to touch the first single off the album, “The Daughters”, which contains lyrics like

“And pose like a trophy on a shelf
Dream for everyone, but not yourself
I’ve heard of God the Son and God the Father
I’m just looking for a God for the daughters”.

Aside from the one dumb drinking song that I guess they thought was obligatory and which I skip every time I listen to the album, the whole thing is fantastic. It’s beautiful and profound country music with songs that address real issues. It’s by far my favorite Little Big Town album. Of course it’s the only Little Big Town album I think I’ve listened to all the way through. Although I’ve enjoyed their singles in the past they did not for whatever reason ever inspire me to dig deeper, but the two songs I heard off this album to start made me want to listen to the whole thing and I’m so very glad I did.

I really do encourage you to listen to the entire album, but if you don’t want to at least listen to “The Daughters”.

 

 

 

Nashville Part 2: The Music

Yesterday I wrote about my recent trip to Nashville. Today I’m going to talk about the music. The trip happened because we wanted to see Brandi Carlile perform at The Ryman. I knocked the Ryman off my concert venue bucket list back in 2017, but it’s a fantastic venue and I of course wanted to see my favorite artist play there. I mean realistically it’s a good thing I don’t live in Nashville or I’d probably have to get a second job to support all the shows I would go see at The Ryman. I commented that I’m glad that I’ve never wound up on their mailing list because of course I would just have constant fomo, but also it might be too dangerous as I would be too tempted to book a flight to Nashville to go see things.

Aside from the ridiculously drunk woman sitting next to my friend it was a fantastic show as expected. The woman was wasted from the second we sat down and would not stop touching and putting her arm around my friend. That’s totally my fault as I’m usually the one who attracts the worst people in every venue, and I think the ticket I had in my hand actually had her seat number on it (shh don’t tell). I think she handled it much better than I would have, so I thank her for her sacrifice.

Of the six shows Brandi Carlile is doing at the Ryman, I think we were at by far at the best one (even though as of my writing this one of them hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve never been a fan of Courtney Barnett who is the opener so there’s no way that one is better). At least it was definitely the one most made for me. When we bought the tickets we just chose by the date. There was no information at that point as to who the openers would be. The opener for our show wound up being Brandi’s fellow Highwoman, Natalie Hemby. Natalie had one album as a performer that didn’t really go anywhere, but she has been a prolific songwriter for many big country acts including Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Kacey Musgraves. She was drafted into writing some songs for The Highwomen and Brandi was like you’re not just writing for us you’re going to be part of the group. Now Natalie is working on her second album. I don’t expect stupid country radio to pay it any mind, but I for one am very excited about it and will definitely go see her when she presumably tours to support it.

Natalie Hemby was a pure delight as a performer. Even with a cold her music was great and her stage banter between songs was hilarious. She even brought her daughter out to sing Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow”, which she co-wrote, with her. You could tell her daughter was nervous at first, but by the end she was totally into it. Brandi ran out on stage and gave her a big hug at the end of the song. It was all very sweet. I cannot wait to have more Natalie Hemby in my life.

Brandi’s set was of course fantastic as always. Every time I see her I cannot wait to see her again. My friend and I were already lamenting that we didn’t have tickets to any of the remaining shows as soon as this one was over. It’s okay though because as I said I think we were at the one most tailor made for me. Since Natalie Hemby was the opener they did more Highwomen songs than they’ve done in the other sets with of course Natalie joining her. Sheryl Crow also joined them on “Redesigning Women”. Then Sheryl sang “Redemption Day” with Brandi filling in the Johnny Cash parts of the posthumous duet/cover of the song that was on Sheryl’s most recent album.

One of the things that I love about Brandi is her desire to promote other artists. In that vein at this show she also brought out The War and Treaty to cover Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” with her. She said she was about to experience a vocal body slam and she was not lying. The War and Treaty have some voices.

This set seems to have been the only one of two so far where she played “Mainstream Kid”, which is one of my favorite songs for her to play live even though it’s by far not one of my favorite songs to just listen to. It just has such great energy and she always gets super into it. It was another amazing Brandi Carlile show and I’m already counting down the days until I get to see her again.

As I mentioned in my previous post on Friday night we wound up at a venue called The Listening Room Cafe, which our RCA Studio B tour guide recommended if you were unable to get into the Bluebird Cafe, which we were sadly not. Like the Bluebird, The Listening Room is designed to showcase songwriters with the songwriters performing their songs in the round, i.e. they all take turns performing a song each then repeat through however many rounds they have time for during the set.

At the show we were at the performers were Jesse Lee, Zach Kale, and Joshua Patton. They were all three pretty good although I liked Zach and Jesse more than Joshua I liked  Jesse most of all. I really liked the songs she wrote and I loved her voice. I did a little more digging and it appears that she did put out an album back in 2009, which didn’t really go anywhere so I guess she must have decided to concentrate on songwriting. She said it’s taken her 14 years, but she’s finally had some success. She co-wrote Brett Young’s number 1 hit “Like I Loved You” and Kelsei Ballerini’s song “Peter Pan”. She sang another song that as far as I’ve been able to ascertain hasn’t been recorded by anyone, but I loved it and was mad when she said she had written it for a man to sing. I mean obviously if you actually want your songs to get played on country radio at this point you better write them for a man to sing, but man it really burns me that she’s writing it hoping some man will decide to sing it when I adored her singing it and wish she could actually get success singing it.

I also really appreciated that they talked about their careers as songwriters, what goes into it, and the challenges it entails. It’s a side of the music business I feel like you don’t get to hear that much about. They all had really good rapport together and would chime in to harmonize at points when each of them were singing. It was a really great set and I’m really happy our tour guide alerted us to this venue.

It as an excellent musical trip to Nashville. I’ll be back again at some point to try and get into the elusive Bluebird Cafe, which is becoming my white whale of concert venues. Plus I want to go to The Caverns for Bluegrass Underground, which is 90 minutes outside of Nashville. So there will be at least one more trip to Nashville in my future.