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.

Nashville Part 1: The Trip

I spent the last few days with a friend in Nashville. I’m going to split the trip into two posts with this one general information about the trip and the second one about the music. That way this post doesn’t get super unwieldy and the 90% of you who read this blog who don’t care about the music can just skip that one like you do all my other music posts.

Years ago I bonded with a fellow librarian over our shared love of music on Twitter eventually meeting up with her at conferences and becoming real life friends. About 7 months ago I happened to text her about something on the same day that the fan club pre-sale tickets were going on sale for Brandi Carlile’s 6 night stint at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. She mentioned that she was thinking about going. I had jokingly mentioned it to my husband who I knew would never go for it earlier in the week. As expected his response was you’ve already been to the Ryman and you’ve seen Brandi a million times. We are not going to that. I told her that and she was like well you should just come with me. I said you’re right I should and within a few hours we made plans and had tickets through the pre-sale. Yay for spontaneity!

We rented an Airbnb in East Nashville. My husband and I had stayed in that neighborhood a few years ago and I thought it was a great location and recommended we stay there. It’s only about one and half to two miles to whatever you might want to do downtown. We’re both big walkers so we were happy to walk everywhere except maybe Saturday morning when it was raining, cold, and crazy windy. I think we kind of regretted making that walk instead of taking a Lyft. The neighborhood was already very much gentrifying when we were there last time and it has even more so in the last two and half years. We wound up grabbing lunch on Thursday at a food hall that wasn’t there the last time I was in Nashville.

Thursday night was the Brandi Carlile concert, which I will have much more to say about in my next post. We walked over to the Ryman and I was shocked at how empty Broadway where all the bars and honky tonks are was because it was insane last time we were there in April. I guess the cold of January means there are far fewer tourists. Last time I was there I told my husband this street is my nightmare and got off it as fast as possible. This time I was like I could probably deal with this if we decide to do something here. Even though I would have preferred warmer weather I definitely liked that the city was less crowded and had far fewer bachelorette parties this time around.

Friday I suggested we go on the RCA Studio B tour. It was the one thing I was interested in last time we were in Nashville that we didn’t do for some reason. You have to buy it bundled with entry to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I had done that last time I was in Nashville, but there were some new exhibits so it wasn’t all a repeat for me. RCA Studio B is a historic recording studio where lots of people recorded including The Everly Brothers and Elvis. RCA has much newer and larger studios across the street now, but some smaller artists still occasionally record in Studio B. Our tour guide was great and gave us the tip of where we wound up going to see music on Friday night.

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I was hoping that we would get to go to the Bluebird Cafe on Friday night, but even with both of us trying to get tickets we were unsuccessful. We floated the idea of trying to get some of the few walk-up tickets available for the early show, but from everything I had read online you needed to get there at least 2 hours early if you wanted any chance. It was way too cold to consider waiting outside for that long. Our tour guide told us if you can’t get into The Bluebird you should go to The Listening Room Cafe as they do something very similar. Those tickets also showed as sold out online, but since it was in walking distance we decided to walk over and see if there was any hope of getting in. We got there about 2 hours before the show and got on the waiting list. We hung out at the bar and got some food while we waited and then happily got in. More on the show in my next post.

The previous day our tour guide also told us that our Country Music Hall of Fame tickets got us into the Frist Art Museum for free, so we decided we would go check that out. It’s a good thing it was free since apparently they only have traveling exhibitions and no permanent collection and two of their exhibitions had just closed leaving only the Eric Carle exhibit up. I learned some interesting things about Eric Carle and his work, but it definitely wouldn’t have been worth paying for.

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After that we headed over to check out the main branch of the Nashville Public Library because we’re librarians and that’s what librarians do. I can’t think of any other profession where people go on vacation and make it a point to check out the work places of other people in their profession. I guess it counts if you work in a museum. It’s a really nice library although there’s some weird dead spaces that I’m wondering what they thought they were going to do with them when they built it because right now they’re doing nothing with them.

Although Broadway was busier on Saturday than it has been the previous two days it still wasn’t insane in the middle of the afternoon, so we decided to pop into Tootsie’s for a drink since it’s such a historic part of Nashville music history. There was a cover band playing in the room we wound up in that was mediocre. It was worth going for one drink, but after that one drink we decided to go grab some lunch elsewhere.

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Lunch was pretty much the end of my trip as I flew home on Saturday night. My friend stayed until Sunday afternoon and in retrospect I wish I had too. When I made my plans many months prior I didn’t realize it was MLK weekend, so I partly wanted to come home Saturday because if possible I like having a day to chill at home before heading back to work when I travel. I still could have had that coming home Sunday since I don’t have to work on MLK Day. Also, I assumed my friend would want to do the whole barhopping on Broadway thing like a lot of people do when they’re in Nashville and I knew that wasn’t going to be something I ever wanted to do, so I thought I can leave Friday evening and then she can do that Saturday night. Well you know what they say about assuming because it turns out she had zero interest in doing that either, but I didn’t know that until we were there. So as it turns out I should have stayed and gone with her to listen to some bluegrass on Saturday night, but what are you going to do?

It was a super fun trip and I’m so happy that we decided to jump on it. I’ll have more to say in a day or two about the shows and music venues we went to while in town.

New Music Friday: Martha Divine by Ashley McBryde

I’m in Nashville right now so it feels right that this week’s New Music Friday post is about Ashley McBryde’s “Martha Divine”. It’s a great country rock song with a great twist on the old country trope of songs about taking some sort of revenge on the woman who cheated with your man. In this case it’s actually a daughter going after the woman who her father cheated on her mother with. This is a fantastic song, and I’m going to super mad when country music radio completely ignores it. Don’t let the literal man get you down. Let me help you find the great female country artists that the Nashville machine will make you think don’t exist anymore.

Thing 1: Brunch at Rye Street Tavern

First in my 20 Things in 2020 was an easy one in that it was going to eat at a new restaurant. I had made plans back in December to get together with some friends for brunch this past weekend. We were trying to figure out somewhere to go, so I was looking at lists of brunch places in Baltimore and stumbled upon Rye Street Tavern. It worked well as a location for us since I was in the city, but everyone else was coming from elsewhere from DC up to Harford County. So Rye Street Tavern’s location right off I-95 made it an easy get to location for us all.

I don’t recall hearing about this restaurant opening although I’m sure it was in the local news when it did. It’s located in the new Port Covington development being spearheaded by the Under Armour folks for their new campus. Eventually it’s seemingly going to be a little city unto itself within Baltimore. Don’t even get me started on my feelings about this development and the tax credits it’s gotten. That’s not what we’re here for.

It wasn’t very busy when we there. At this point it’s a little off the beaten path unless you’re planning on going to the Sagamore Spirits Distillery, which is right next door. So I’m not surprised. It might be busier on weeknights when you have more traffic from the Baltimore Sun or Under Armour employees in the area.

The food was good. I appreciated that they had a nice mix of savory, sweet, breakfast, and more lunch type foods. I am an avowed hater of eggs when they are recognizable as eggs, which makes brunch a tricky meal for me at a lot of restaurants especially if it’s late enough in the day that I am not actually interested in whatever token pancake/waffle/French toast dish they have on their menu is.

We started with their cream donuts with chocolate whisky sauce. They were pretty good, but I’m not sure I would bother ordering them again. I had the pit beef sandwich, which was tasty though not what I would really call a true Baltimore pit beef sandwich. It came with a stupid amount of french fries, which were also pretty tasty. My friends had huevos rancheros, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken and everyone seemed to be pleased with their meal.

It’s definitely more expensive than some places, but I would say on par with or slightly cheaper than other popular Baltimore brunch places like Woodberry Kitchen or The Food Market. I would eat there again.

New Music Friday: And It’s Still All Right by Nathaniel Rateliff

Mellow is not a word I typically associate with Nathaniel Rateliffe who until know I’ve only known as part of his soul music with Nathaniel Rateliffe and the Night Sweats. “It’s Still All Right” is the first song off of his forthcoming album of the same name that will be released on Stax Records February 14. This song is a very mellow song about trying to keep going and finding hope when life is beating you down and your world seems to be falling apart. Very specifically it’s about the death of his long time producer and friend Richard Swift who died back in 2018. It’s not the kind of music I was expecting to hear from Nathaniel Rateliffe, but I very much like it and look forward to hearing the rest of the album.

Winter 2019/2020 TV Diary

Before we get full force into the new mid-season shows I thought I would do a roundup of the things I’ve been watching over the past few months.

The Great British Baking Show

Hi, it’s me the last person on the planet to watch this show and tell you how wonderful The Great British Baking Show is. I think literally every person I know told me I had to watch this show because I love to bake. I don’t watch too much reality television including cooking shows aside from an occasional episode of Chopped on an airplane or in a hotel, so I just ignored everyone for a very long time. I finally broke down and decided to start watching because I needed a show I could download from Netflix to my iPad to watch on a cross country flight. I thought this show would make great plane fare. It did and as it turns out great fare any time. I love how good natured the show is. I don’t care for all the false bravado and meanness that Americans seem to think needs to go into all their competition shows. I love how the other contestants will try and help each other out instead of someone else’s mishaps just being a way to make sure they get to move ahead in the competition. Aside from usually one or two people at the beginning who generally get kicked out fairly quickly each season I like all the contestants on this show and quickly get sad when any of them has to leave. Plus everything sounds so delicious. Even though I like to bake I would never make it on this show because I don’t like to get that complicated and I definitely don’t do decorations.

Schitt’s Creek

I just finished a binge watch of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix in time to watch the final season on PopTV. I hadn’t watched it up to this point because it didn’t seem like something I would be interested in. I was never a big fan of the movies like Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind and Best in Show that Eugene Levy helped write and star in as he does this show. Plus I have never cared for the one character that Chris Elliot plays in everything he stars in, so I just discounted this show. Then with the lead up to the new season I just kept seeing people raving about it and decided to finally give it a try. Chris Elliot still does nothing for me, but I can overlook him because the rest of the show is great. Man this show does an incredible job of threading a crazy needle of somehow both writing a show full of characters that are to a large degree caricatures while also creating a show with the biggest heart and the most amazing little emotional moments. There are so many moments that are just little gestures or looks that the characters give that just melt my heart. It’s crazy how much real sentiment these characters can convey without saying a word when their characters are so over the top unrealistic. David and Patrick’s relationship of course is the best. I also love David’s friendship with Stevie. I adore how Patrick and Stevie sometimes gang up on David to make fun of his particular crazy, but nothing about it seems mean spirited. I think my favorite part of the whole show so far is the pointing gesture and thumbs up Stevie gives to David at the end of the scene that starts at 1:26 in this video. (Sorry I couldn’t find the scene on it’s own or get the YouTube video to start at the right time stamp when embedding it.)  I never expected to like this show as much as I do. Now I’m already sad that it’s almost over.

Soundtrack

Soundtrack is a super gimmicky show on Netflix. Each episode involves the characters breaking out into elaborate lip syncs to pop songs to express their feelings. Each episode is about an hour long and I felt like it would have been a much stronger show if they had made it a 45 minute show and cut out the terrible (and I really mean terrible) lip syncing numbers. They didn’t add anything to the story and did I mention that no one on this show can actually lip sync well? It’s a shame because I actually did mostly enjoy the rest of the show which followed several characters back in forth in present day and the past when two of the characters met and fell in love. Which characters the show focuses on changes in each episode. It’s not a bad watch, but I would recommend just saving yourself some time and fast forwarding through all the lip syncing scenes.

Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings

Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings is an anthology series on Netflix with episodes based on Dolly Parton songs. Some of them were better than others. They’re all super saccharine and even less offensive than a Hallmark movie. I’m not sure I would say any of them are particularly good, but I felt compelled to watch them all anyway.

Home for Christmas

I started watching Home for Christmas on Netflix thinking it was a Christmas movie, but it turns out it was actually a 6 episode tv series in Norwegian no less. We realized pretty quickly it was dubbed in English so changed the settings to get subtitles instead because I refuse to watch things that are dubbed. It was an enjoyable little rom-com series about a nurse named Johanne whose family is obsessed with her finding a boyfriend so she lies and says she’s dating someone and will bring him home for Christmas. Now she only has a few weeks to find someone to fill the role. I’m not sure I loved the way they chose to end it, but overall I found it a very pleasant show to watch. You can save it for next Christmas or just watch it as a winter treat. I don’t feel like it’s so over the top Christmasy that you couldn’t enjoy it at other times of year.

Spinning Out

If you can get over the terrible American accent the lead, who is actually British, is doing then Spinning Out is a very enjoyable show. The tagline says it’s The Cutting Edge meets I, Tonya and I would say it’s pretty accurate. Kat is a former singles figure skater who had a terrible fall during a competition that has left her spooked and unable to compete or even pass the test to become a coach. Now she has one last chance to save her skating career by trying her hand at pairs skating with rich, playboy Justin. Her younger sister Serena is also an up and coming skater. Both Kat and her mother played by January Jones are bipolar which adds another layer to the show. I’m only 3 or 4 episodes in at this point, but I really like it so far.

Succession

I never watched Succession when it started because I heard how every character on it is unlikable, which is not something I like in a tv show. It’s why I quit watching Scandal pretty early on in its run. But everyone seemed so obsessed with it after the second season, even critics who normally share my distaste of shows that only feature abhorrent people, that I decided to give it a try. I’ve only seen two episodes so far. Everyone is terrible, and I’m not yet hooked. I might give it a few more episodes, but I’m not sure this show is for me.

Dare Me

Dare Me is a new show on USA based on a YA novel by Megan Abbott. I’ve read some of her stuff and not loved a lot of it. I haven’t read this particular book, but the tv adaptation has the same trappings of the things I don’t generally care for in her books. It’s about a high school cheerleading squad whose former captain is at odds with the new coach. You know there’s a murder that happens at some point, but you don’t really know who is involved yet. It’s all a lot of drama and terrible people. There have been two episodes so far. I don’t love it and can see it falling by the wayside as shows I’m more interested in start to come back in the next few weeks.