Photo: Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP
Troy Gentry's tragic death in a Friday helicopter crash brought a brutal, unexpected end to nearly two decades working with Eddie Montgomery (brother of John Michael Montgomery) as Montgomery Gentry, a duo never lost touch with their Kentucky roots MG kept the southern rock sound alive in their music, continuing a tradition that began in the 1970's with southern rock-flavored country by Hank Williams Jr. and the Charlie Daniels Band. The duo were high energy all the way.
Saturday night's Chesney-Church-Gilbert concert is history, with fewer logistical issues than before. For those who've OD'ed on that and other contemporary country fare (exclude Church--I consider him his own man), I give you a new voice, one that will hopefully gain some traction in the very near future.
My "Believe Your Ears" Podcast review of Jim Ed Brown's In Style Again on our very cool new SoundCloud platform.
Little Jimmy Dickens, who died yesterday at 94, was a disciple of Roy Acuff and a buddy of Hank Williams, Sr., a singer known for raucous novelty tunes who could deliver some of the most cathartic and moving ballads of any country singer. For years he was backed by one of the hottest bands in Nashville. In 1956, when George Jones made his first guest appearance on the Opry and he was told he couldn't play his own guitar (a perverse Opry form of hazing), Dickens handed a nervous Jones his own guitar. Except for an absence from the show that lasted over a decade (other stars also came and went from the roster), his home base was the Opry. With his death Friday at 94, Little Jimmy Dickens's passing marks the true end of an era. If you've never heard of him, don't buy into some of the superficial obits. There was more to than man than just his diminutive stature and scrappy persona.
Little Jimmy Dickens, the diminutive singer from rural Bolt, West Virginia (in the southern section of the state), who joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and became as beloved for his feisty personality as his proudly country novelty songs and heartfelt, emotional ballad singing, is in critical condition in a Nashville hospital.
At 80, Jim Ed Brown has made country music well over 60 years, first with sisters Maxine and Bonnie in the vocal trio the Browns, known for their early hit singles like "Looking Back To See" but known best for their timeless 1959 pop-country hit "The Three Bells." After the trio dissolved, Brown became a successful solo artist through the 60's and 70's. Alan Jackson covered his 1967 honky-tonk hit "Pop A Top." His sole # 1 single was "I Don't Want To Have To Marry You," a 1976 duet with Helen Cornelius.
If one solo singer helped the Cajun style establish a beachhead in country that's grown and deepened, it was Jimmy "C." Newman (the "C" stood for Cajun). Newman, a Grand Ole Opry veteran, died June 21 in Nashville at age 86. Cajun music was considered by many as something apart from country, though that wasn't quite true. Louisiana sounds had been insinuating their way into the music and broke through in 1946 when fiddler Harry Choates had a national hit with the Bayou favorite "Jole Blon." Hank Williams followed in 1952 with "Jambalaya."
They called him the Young Sheriff, then the Singing Sheriff, and finally just "Sheriff." There was only one Faron Young, a true original even in the often-quirky field of classic country. A powerful vocalist and masterful interpreter of country's twin-fiddle honky tonk style, he was one of Nashville's true wild men, not unlike his friends, George Jones and Hank Williams Sr. Known for boozing, brawling and a foul mouth, he was also known as compassionate, especially with musicians down on their luck.
Jack Greene was one of the great honky-tonk singers you probably never heard of. He had only a few big hit singles, the first ones 47 years ago. A veteran of the Grand Ole Opry, the tall, rangy Greene eventually fell into relative obscurity beyond the Opry, a far cry from his days when dubbed the "Jolly Green Giant" (a play on the Green Giant ads) he was a true Nashville luminary.
What set him apart from the start was a masterful, emotional approach to ballads, earning him a too-brief period of fame and in 1967, the CMA's first-ever Male Vocalist of the Year award. Sadly, he never achieved a massive breakthrough beyond the core country audience, though it never seemed to bother him much. He died Thursday in Nashville at 83, having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2011.