#SundaySpotlight – The Real Deal – New Release from Jamie Richards @JRichardsBand

I am super excited about this segment of #SundaySpotlight! I’ve been a died-in-the-wool Jamie Richards fan since I first heard him play at Tommy Alverson’s Family Gathering Music Festival in 2010.

Photo courtesy of Tara Bone Photography

So it is with great pleasure that I share with you his newest CD, The Real Deal!

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jamie to talk about the album and some of the specific songs on it.

Me: What inspired you to put out a new album in the midst of this pandemic?

Jamie: I try to put out an album every three years. I released a new album in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016. And then it’s been five years since I did one. I had some money put back and knew I had enough to cover it and keep putting out singles and play the game. I know it sounds kinda crazy to talk about investing in a new record when I can’t get out and promote it like I normally do. But the pandemic didn’t stop people from buying music. And what better thing to do, if you can’t go out and hear live music, than to listen to it at home? So, maybe in some ways it was the perfect time to put out a new record. My whole career has always been really crazy. When everybody else is doing really great, I’m not. And when everybody else is suffering, I’m doing great. It’s been the weirdest thing. I’ve seen it my whole life. I watched it in Nashville and I see it in Texas. When everybody is getting bookings, my phone ain’t ringing, and when everybody else isn’t working, I get more gigs than I can do. My career has always been backwards.

Me: One of the things I think makes you and your band unusual, is the longevity you’ve had. What do you attribute that to?

Jamie: Well, several things. I think personalities play a big part. The people in my band like what I write and what I do, and if the artist writes something they really enjoy playing then they’re going to stick around. Another thing that I think is really important, is I do exactly what I say I’m going to do every time. If I tell them something, they can bank on it. I never short them and I do exactly what I say I’m going to do. The check’s always going to be good.

Me: As an observer, I see that the band has a genuine respect for you and your art.

Jamie: I think that’s true. In my twenty years of playing music in Texas, I’ve played with a lot of musicians and there are very few that I didn’t get along with or ever had any trouble with. That’s because I treat everyone the way I want to be treated.

Me: And that right there puts you in the category of “The Real Deal.” There are several of the songs on the album that really stood out to me and I’d like to know the stories behind them. Tell me about “Someone Else’s Trouble Now.”

Jamie: It is one of my favorite songs on the record. Generally, you don’t write a country song that says anything negative about the woman. It’s always the man’s fault. There’s not hardly any songs that are negative toward women. This song comes from experiences I’ve been through and dealt with. When we cut it I said I wanted it to sound like it would be in a Tarantino movie. I wrote it with a guy named Bryan Martin, who has just signed a record deal with a major label. I also wrote “Seeing Me Like This” with Bryan.

Me: That was another one that I really liked. The lyrics are so positive. “I never thought I’d be seeing me like this. In the arms of an angel, sent from up above. After years and years of heartache, to now finding true love…”

Jamie: Bryan and I wrote both of those the same weekend out on the lake. That was a good weekend.

Me: “Playing Hard To Forget” was another heart-tugging song.

Jamie: Yeah, it’s kind of a play on words. The woman can play hard to get, but even harder to forget. I wrote that one with Mark Powell.

Me: I think there’s a good story behind “Lakeview Grocery Store.”

Jamie: That is an exact true story. That store was less than a mile from my childhood home. It was the first little bit of freedom I remember feeling when I was a twelve-year-old boy. Me and the neighbor kids would meet up at the store and smoke cigarettes and drink beer if we could get someone to buy us some. The first girl I ever kissed was at the Lakeview Grocery Store. I still remember her name. But the song is definitely a true story.

Me: “Up In Twang” surprised me.

Jamie: I wrote that song when I was in Nashville and it’s sort of a tribute song to the road warriors, to the bands that set up and play night after night. There’s a lot of truth in it. I tend to do more ballad type songs, and it’s fun to add in an up tempo one like this or, “Loose, Loud & Crazy” now and then.

Me: Every song on this album fills the promise of the title of the album, “The Real Deal.” And within a few hours after its release, on Friday, January 22nd, it shot up the charts.

Jamie: What happened was weird. The day this record came out, one of the songs on it, “I Want To With You” went to number one.

That song had been out since about a month or two before Christmas and just happened to hit number one the exact day my album came out. It was a big day for me. I was so proud of the iTunes charting position. It got up to number 12 and that’s across the world. There I was, with no record label behind me, no backing, me doing all the work, and it shot up the world-wide chart. It didn’t go any higher than 12, but I was thrilled.

On that note, I’m going to share with you the liner notes from Jamie’s album that says it all.

I’d like to thank my record label, my producer, my road manager, my booking agent, my guitar tech, and all of my roadies… Just kidding. I do all of that myself!!

Cody Jinks national recording artist put this post up on Facebook regarding Jamie’s new album:

So, if you are a fan of traditional country music, you can’t help but love every song on this new album from Jamie Richards! For your convenience, here is the purchase link from Amazon! THE REAL DEAL

Or even better yet, buy it directly from Jamie so that he actually gets to keep the money! 🙂 https://jamierichardsshop.com/

And take a minute to follow Jamie on social media! You’ll never meet a nicer guy or more talented artist!

Website

Facebook

Facebook Group

Twitter

Looking Back – 2019 Music

As most of you know, I am a staff-writer for Buddy Magazine, The Original Texas Music Magazine. Because of that, I review lots of newly released music CDs throughout the year. This is a look back on some of the best of the best from Texas! The Albums are not listed in any particular order, so this is not a Top Ten list. It’s a recap of music that moved me!

An Indie artist that broke all the rules this year and came out on top was Cody Jinks!

He released an album on October 11 that premiered on the iTunes all-genre chart at #1. Then one week later, on October 18, he released a second album that did the same thing. The most impressive part of this is that, as an indie artist, he has no record label backing him and pouring tons of money into promo. He did it all on his own. So, it is my pleasure to honor these two albums.

“Each album has a theme,” Jinks said. “The Wanting is about the road life and going deeper into your art, while After The Fire is more about the home life, the settling and coming down period.”

Another album that touched me deeply was RIDE ME BACK HOME by the incomparable, Willie Nelson!

Part of this album’s appeal is that the title track, “Ride Me Back Home,” was written by a good friend of mine, Sonny Throckmorton. But, aside from that fact, it’s possibly one of Willie’s best!

Native Texan Bianca DeLeon writes about what she knows, her life growing up in the Texas-Mexico borderland. She’s lived through a lot, and it shows in her music. Her byline is “Texas Songwriter and Troubadour.” I absolutely loved reviewing her album, DANGEROUS ENDEAVOR. The first thing that struck me about this album is DeLeon’s voice. She’s gritty and gutsy with her delivery of the lyrics.

Pint-sized Jack Barksdale is making quite a name for himself in every music circle from the local DFW area to songwriter’s events across the United States. He’s twelve. Not only is he writing original material, but he also releases podcasts where he interviews other artists. Check out his YouTube page. He is one of the most amazing young artists I’ve ever seen! He released a new EP this year, Live From Niles City and it deserves to be on this list!

Here’s a YouTube video. You’ve gotta hear this kid!

Another incredibly diverse album that crossed my desk this year was FOG AND BLING By Shinyribs! It’s difficult to categorize this Austin-based band’s music. I’d say Shinyribs is an eclectic blend between New Orleans Jazz, R&B, Funk, Rock, and Psychedelic Country. It could aptly be called Swampadelic R&B.

Tom McElvain is known far and wide for his vocal prowess. But he is also fast rising to the top of the songwriting spectrum with songs like the ones found on his EP, DRIFTER. As he says, “This time it’s for the music, not the man.”  

On a side note, I am working with Tom McElvain on a book, “Lady In Red,” that will be released in May 2020! Believe me, I will be promoting it here on my blog!

Smile Into Life from Austin-based Blues-Funk Rocker, Hector Ward and his eight-piece Big Time band, is one of the most dynamic I heard all year.From start to finish, it’s solid with not one track that I wanted to skip. Ward is quoted as saying, “Listen to music…it will change your reality.”

I want to share a picture with you because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Let me just say this man is inspiring. That is Hector Ward in the wheelchair. Listen to his music and see if you find one spec of self-pity. You won’t!

The Walk is singer/songwriter, Bonnie Bishop’s eighth album. Produced by Grammy-winner, Steve Jordan, the music connects listeners to the Texas vocal powerhouse in an intimate and personal way. I am a huge fan of her music and her honesty. She is an inspiration to women artists!

I love these two people, Andrew Jr. Boy Jones and Kerrie Lepai Jones! They are perfect ambassadors of the Dallas Blues scene and it was an honor to not only review their new CD, but to interview them for a feature in Buddy Magazine. You can read it here. Jr. Boy has been playing the blues for over five decades and no one does it better! Their new album, Jr. Boy & Kerrie’s Blues is nothing short of stellar! If you love the blues, give them a listen! Kerrie proves that a white girl CAN sing the blues!

I’ll close this post with a single off Cody Johnson’s 2019 Album, Ain’t Nothing To It. In my humble opinion this is the most sensual and sexy song I’ve heard since Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness.” Here’s Cody Johnson with “Nothin’ On.”

Maybe you are already familiar with some of this music but if you aren’t I do hope you’ll take a minute to discover something new! Thank you!

Taking Texas to Tennessee – Buddy Magazine

Since not everyone gets to see the Buddy Magazine publication, I decided to post a recent article I wrote after my trip to Nashville. So far, it’s getting some good attention and feedback!

A Tale of Two Music Cities Divided

By Jan Sikes

On the heels of the Ken Burns sensational documentary about the evolution of country music on PBS, the one undisputable fact is that country music has been and is a large part of American history.

At one time during that history, Nashville was the only place to go if an artist wanted to break into the business. However, over the years, that changed and Texas played a large part in that change.

It is no secret that there has been a complicated rift between Nashville and Texas music artists ever since Waylon bucked the establishment, insisting on making music his own way and Willie took his music home to Texas.

I compare it to the famous stand-off between the Hatfields and McCoys. Shots were fired, and many folks threatened, but now the dust has cleared, and hands shaken. Judging by the recent spate of Texas Musicians who’ve made the trek to the famous city to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, I’d say there is at the least, a truce. 

Could it be that the Nashville heads are watching the flourishing Texas music industry with some envy? Or perhaps they are only seeing dollar signs.

Whatever the reason, I recently had the distinct honor of witnessing something that I believe will have lasting ripple effects for years and artists to come. I traveled to Nashville along with approximately 500 other avid Texas music fans to see our legendary Texas performer, Gary P. Nunn, make his debut on the iconic Grand Ole Opry. And, it came as no surprise that Nunn performed his two mega-hits, “London Homesick Blues,” and “Last Thing I Needed The First Thing This morning.”

But the crowning moment was when Gary P. Nunn strode onto the Grand Ole Opry stage and stood in the legendary “circle” while his fans jumped to their feet to welcome him with a Texas-size display of love for their favorite artist. The significance of performing at the mother of all country music venues cannot be understated.

While it was my first real visit to the city, I enjoyed exploring the places that created and now preserves country music history from throughout the decades.

Later that evening, Nunn had this to say about the experience.

“It’s always been on my bucket list to play the Grand Ole Opry and I never really thought I’d get the chance. It’s overwhelming.”

Add in the massive amount of folks that traveled to Music City to see him, and there was no denying that Nunn was deeply touched.

“When I looked out into the audience and saw all the Texas music fans that had traveled to Nashville to share this experience with me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was completely blown away,” Nunn said with misty eyes.

Me and Gary P. Nunn at the After-Party in Nashville

Texas artist, Ray Wylie Hubbard, made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry on July 17 just before Nunn’s appearance on August 3.

Hubbard said, “There are certain moments in time more powerful than others. Walking onto the Grand Ole Opry stage is one of the most powerful.”

Cody Jinks made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry on August 28. He had this to say. “I was as nervous about playing the Opry as I’ve been about any show. It’s an amazing experience that’s hard to sum up. It’s just special.”

So, why is Nashville suddenly opening its arms to Texas Music artists?

I think the answer to that quintessential question is complex and can’t be answered in a few simple words.

However, The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in Nashville could be partially responsible for the shift.

Imagine 5,000 sq. ft. of nothing but Texas music history. That’s larger than an NBA basketball court, and that is precisely what you’ll find with the “Outlaws and Armadillos – Country Music’s Roaring 70s” exhibit which resides on the third floor of the hall of fame building in downtown Nashville.

I had the honor of sitting down with exhibit co-curator, Michael Gray, in his office at the museum to talk about how this exhibit came into being.

“There is a perceived division between Texas and Tennessee. But that relationship between Nashville and Austin is maybe a little more surprising and complicated than people realize,” Gray said. “It started before the seventies when we began to see artists insist on taking charge of their music rather than having a label executive tell them what to do. But the seventies really brought it to a head when Willie left Nashville and went back home to Texas. We all know the story of how he began to play at the Armadillo World Headquarters, then contacted his friend, Waylon and invited him down. But, also at the time, even though these rebelling artists had taken their music out of Nashville, they often had to return to Nashville to record because, at the time, there were little to no studios in Texas.”

And the decades-long stand-off between Nashville and Austin grew exponentially with artists like Willie, Waylon, Bobby Bare, Gary P. Nunn, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Martin Murphey, Marcia Ball, Joe Ely, and many others who had a burning passion to create original music without boundaries.

Austin filmmaker, Eric Geadelmann, memorialized Texas music history in a series of documentaries, “They Called Us Outlaws,” which tells the story of Texas music directly through the artists themselves. The idea to create the “Outlaws and Armadillos – Country’s Roaring 70s” exhibit came from these documentaries.

Gray said, “Eric Geadelmann met with us about six years ago here at the hall of fame and shared that he was going to produce this documentary series about the outlaw movement in the 1970s. The Hall of Fame became an official partner with him on this series. We opened up our archives to him to help him make his film. We had an exhibit at the time in that exact same gallery that was all about the late sixties and early seventies in Nashville when Bob Dylan came to record along with all the folk and rock artists that followed him here and opened the city a little bit. So, as that exhibit grew to a close, we decided to do an exhibit that went along with Eric’s film. And that was how it all started.”

Gray went on to explain how trips back and forth between Austin and Nashville set it all in motion. And they weren’t just satisfied to explore and feature the music artists, but also the great visual artists who helped create a brand. Among those were Jim Franklin, known far and wide for his outrageous poster designs for the Armadillo World Headquarters, Micael Priest who designed the first poster for Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic, and Ken Featherston who created iconic posters for various Austin events and venues.  

Franklin designed the logo for the “Outlaws and Armadillos Country’s Roaring 70s exhibit.”

Over time, the Nashville museum curators met with numerous people in Texas as they gathered donations from family members, friends of these legendary artists to be used in the display.

The result is a comprehensive tribute to that special period of time when music artists embraced a newfound freedom of expression. This was the true emergence of singer/songwriters. No longer was the artist required by label heads to sing someone else’s songs. They took this creative power to write, publish and produce their own music. You only have to look back to recognize that the music speaks for itself.  

Not only is The Outlaws and Armadillos exhibit a fantastic display of artifacts, but it is educational as well. And it brings together the undeniable fact the impact the Outlaw Movement had on the direction of Country Music forever.

A large part of the exhibit is in photographs from music historians such as Chet Flippo, Ron McKeown, Joe Nick Potoski, Dave Hickey, Michael Bane, Jan Reid, and Kimmie Rhodes.

The exhibit is so large it is next to impossible to see everything in a few hours. I would like to have had the entire day to spend absorbing the rich and vibrant history of the Outlaw Movement.

The bottom line is that there is a shift. The tale between two cities seems to be morphing, and no longer are the Texas music artists looked down on by Nashville as the ugly stepsisters of country music.

In fact, the tale of two cities, in which music amounts to a way of life for a substantial number of the populace, is often reduced to a simple division of Nashville executives and Texas artists, when the story of the relationship is more complex and diverse.

While the ending to that story remains to be written, for now, the plot, premise, and characters are taking a new direction, carving out new roads, and taking millions of fans along.

Our beloved Texas music artists are getting to enjoy a monumental juncture in their careers by walking onto the Grand Ole Opry stage, as honored guests, and standing inside the historic and coveted circle. The place at the table has gotten much bigger, and I say it’s high time!

And, as each of the artists I spoke to expressed, there is nothing that compares. It is a dream come true. And for Texas music fans, it’s a great opportunity to explore Nashville and the rich music history it has to offer, like standing in the footsteps of so many greats who left a clearly marked path for others to follow.

An undeniable shiver ran up my spine when I stood in the middle of the famed circle on the Grand Ole Opry stage and imagined Hank Williams singing, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”  

When Nashville invited, Texas responded. By taking Texas to Tennessee, and Nashville opening its arms to iconic Texas musicians, are we perhaps seeing the end of the musical gulf that has separated the two for so long? Stay tuned!

JAN’S TOP 10 Texas Music Picks 2016

 

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Over the past year, writing for a Texas Music Magazine I’ve had the honor of interviewing many Texas artists. As a result, I got to discover great new music first-hand.

So, I’m starting a new tradition this year by listing my TOP TEN picks of new Texas Music releases for 2016. This is based solely on my personal tastes and opinions. I do hope you’ll take time to listen to the song clips and decide for yourself!

#1.  Lovers and Leavers – Hayes Carll       hayes_carll_cover

Everyone who knows me also knows I am a huge Hayes Carll Fan. But, with this new album, “Lovers and Leavers” Hayes takes his songwriting to a whole new level. Perhaps that’s what being in love does for you. Check it out here.

#2.  Latest and Greatest – Jamie Richards   latestgreatestdigitalsmall

Jamie Richards is the most solid country music artist in the business. Even though he lives in Oklahoma, his heart resides in Texas as does his music. On this album, you’ll find some of Jamie’s standards, but five new songs showcase the reason Jamie has earned the title of Master Wordsmith of Red Dirt Music. Judge for yourself.

#3.   I’m Not The Devil – Cody Jinks                     i_mnotthedevil_044cac49-b9bc-4045-acc1-0370e9138074_large

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Cody Jinks twice and each time, I fall a little more in love with the great human being he is as well as his music. On “I Ain’t The Devil,” you’ll find a mixture of what defines Cody – family, friends, God, music. Check it out

#4.   Ain’t Who I Was – Bonnie Bishop             bb-aint_who_i_was

I first got acquainted with Bonnie Bishop through a mutual friend around ten years ago. She is not only beautiful, but has a voice that cuts through. This new album shows her more soulful bluesy side. It’s her best yet and you can preview the album here

#5    Sam Colt and Jesus – Robby White            sam_colt

This album really got my attention. It is a TRUE concept album in that each song leads directly into the next, weaving a complete story. Robby kept the music simple and for a reason – he wanted the lyrics to be heard. It embodies everything that is Texas! Preview

#6     Sinner Man  –  Gus Samuelson               sinner-man-bottomland

I’ve always been a fan of Gus Samuelson’s music. However, the new Sinner Man CD holds a few surprises. Big Gus is a restlessly creative soul and brings his views and philosophy of life into his music. I love all of the tracks on this CD but if I had to choose one favorite today, it would be “In My Soul.” Here’s the link to preview.

#7     Polyester  –  John Evans                             polyester

Texas roots rocker, John Evans, released a comeback CD, the first in six years. It has been said about John’s music style that if Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello were to have a love child, John Evans just might be it. After listening to Polyster, I would say more like a combination of 50s rocker, Eddie Cochran and Jimi Hendrix. Here’s where you can listen

#8     Walkabout – Dolly Shine                              Walkabout

I received this CD to review and I have to tell you I was blown away! Every member of Dolly Shine contributes to the writing of their songs and are extremely talented players as well as writers. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite as I loved them all but I think “Rattlesnake” would take the favorite spot today. See what you think!

#9     Coming to a Honky Tonk Near You – Kevin Fowler   kf

Kevin Fowler has made quite a name for himself on the Texas Music scene over the years, but this new CD took him in a different direction. In an interview, Kevin told me that he was no longer chasing national radio airplay and simply recording songs that moved him in some way. There are lots of collaborations on this album and hands-down, my favorite song is “Texas Forever.” Listen here

#10    Love to Live by – Cooder Graw                     cg

Last but certainly not least on my list is a new EP from the rocking Texas band, Cooder Graw. With only six tracks, this new release packs a powerful punch. I love them all, but the title track, “Love to Live By” moved me and especially the video produced by Rock Williams. Listen to the CD here. Take a look at the Video here.

2016 was a great year for Texas Music. There were many other releases I loved, but I had to narrow it down to ten so picked from my heart.

Hope your favorite artist made my Top Ten!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I do when I’m not writing

I have two passions in life.

  1. Books – writing and reading
  2. Music – writing, playing, listening – reporting

I recently had the privilege of covering a great music event for Buddy Magazine. The Ranch Bash 2016 took place in Fort Worth, Texas at the Panther Island Pavilion.

First of all, the weather was perfect! This listener appreciation event drew 50,000 or more.

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And there were some unexpected surprises!

There’s something very cool about being issued an “All Access” pass. Having the opportunity to visit with artists, take pictures and hear the music from backstage always gives me a great feeling! I’ll share with you a small sampling of pictures from the event.

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Do you watch The Voice? This is me with Austin Allsup #TeamBlake!

Here’s a bit of trivia – back in the 60s, Austin Allsup’s father, Tommy Allsup produced several of Rick Sikes’ 45 rpm records.

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You never know who or what you’ll find backstage!

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Another Voice contestant, Josh Halverson now on #TeamAlicia!

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Mr. Dale “The Real Deal” Watson with the Fort Worth skyline behind us.

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An amazing soulful artist, Bonnie Bishop. The sun was very bright behind us.

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Cody Jinks on stage. You won’t find anyone who puts more into their music than Cody!

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Closing the night out with a hug from Cody Jinks!

These are just a few of the artists at Ranch Bash 2016. Music is truly my second love in life! Did I introduce you to some new artists? Check out them and their music. I will never steer you wrong!!

You can read several interviews I’ve done with these artist in the Original Texas Music Magazine, Buddy Magazine.