Goldenvoice & Stagecoach Spotlight Tour present:

Jamey Johnson

Jamey Johnson

with Margo Price & Brent Cobb 

Doors at 6:30PM

 

JAMEY JOHNSON

Eleven-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson is “one of the greatest country singers of our time,” according to the Washington Post. He is one of only a few people in the history of country music to win two Song of the Year Awards from both the CMA and ACMs.
His 2008 album, That Lonesome Song, was certified platinum for 1 million in sales, and his 2010 ambitious double album, The Guitar Song, received a gold certification.
In addition, he won two Song of the Year Trophies, for “Give It Away” and “In Color,” both from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. He has received tremendous praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and other publications, many of which have hailed his albums as masterpieces.
In 2012, the Alabama native released his fifth studio album, a tribute project to late songwriter Hank Cochran. The Grammy-nominated Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran paired him with Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Ray Price, Elvis Costello, George Strait, Vince Gill and Merle Haggard.
In 2013, the Nashville Scene’s 13th annual Country Music Critics’ Poll named it the year’s best album. (Two years earlier, the same poll named Johnson’s The Guitar Song as the year's best album, and Johnson himself as best male vocalist, best songwriter and artist of the year.)

 

MARGO PRICE

First impressions matter. Especially on a debut album. Time and attention-strapped listeners size up an artist within a song or two, then move on or delve in further. Fortunately, it only takes Margo Price about twenty-eight seconds to convince you that you're hearing the arrival of a singular new talent. "Hands of Time," the opener on 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter' (coming Spring 2016, Third Man Records), is an invitation, a mission statement and a starkly poetic summary of the 32-year old singer's life, all in one knockout, self-penned punch. Easing in over a groove of sidestick, bass and atmospheric guitar, Price sings, "When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road, I was fifty-seven dollars from bein' broke . . ." It has the feel of the first line of a great novel or opening scene in a classic film. There's an expectancy, a brewing excitement. And as the song builds, strings rising around her, Price recalls hardships and heartaches -- the loss of her family's farm, the death of her child, problems with men and the bottle. There is no self-pity or over-emoting. Her voice has that alluring mix of vulnerability and resilience that was once the province of Loretta and Dolly. It is a tour-de-force performance that is vivid, deeply moving and all true.
"I'm writing from my heart and life experiences," Price says. "I knew I wanted to start the record with this song, but everyone in the band said, 'No, no, that's a bad move.' And then Third Man said, 'We think this should be the first song,' and I was like, 'Yes!' It really just lays it out. If you can get through 'Hands of Time,' the rest of the record is going to come very easily."
And indeed it does. The honky tonk comeuppance of "About To Find Out," the rockabilly-charged "This Town Gets Around" and weekend twang of "Hurtin' (On The Bottle)" all add fresh twists to classic Nashville country, while sounding like they could've been hits in any decade. Meanwhile, the hard-hitting blues grooves of "Four Years of Chances" and "Tennessee Song" push the boundaries further west to Memphis (the album was recorded at Sun Studio). Throughout, producer Alex Munoz, engineer Matt Ross-Spang and the ace band help frame the material with spare, spacious arrangements, keeping the focus on Price's soulful vocals.
"I think about an artist like Bobbie Gentry, who was able to mix country with soul," Price says. "But really, I never set out to make a country soul record. It's just that I like Etta James, and I like Hank Williams, and sometimes those things come together and make nice little babies."
Her tastes developed early. Growing up in Aledo, Illinois (pop. 3,612), Price was surrounded by music -- everything from Tom Petty to the Statler Brothers. By middle school, she was singing in the choir and doing the national anthem at local football games. "I was one of the only people who could sing it without changing keys," she says, with a laugh. With money from her eighth grade graduation, Price bought her first guitar and started writing songs, influenced by Joni Mitchell and Maria Muldaur. After dropping out of college, she moved to Nashville in 2003 and began the usual apprenticeship of open mic nights and networking.
Though she loved the friendliness of Music City, she says, "I didn't feel like the glossy country music at the time had any space for me." On the advice of her great uncle, Bobby Fischer, a successful tunesmith with over 500 cuts by artists including George Jones, Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire, she kept writing and honing her voice. She soon met bass player -- and future husband -- Jeremy Ivey, and formed a band called Buffalo Clover. They self-released three records and built a local following. Of course, the music biz being the minefield of dreams that it is, there were false promises and glittering temptations along the way (humorously catalogued in "This Town Gets Around"). "I'm so glad that I didn't sacrifice my integrity five or ten years ago," Price says. "I had opportunities to. I remember meeting this one guy who said, 'I'm a big producer and I know all these people on Music Row.' So Jeremy and I tried to write some mainstream country songs. We created pen names because we didn't want anyone to know it was us -- Sylvia Slim and Sam Pickens. Together it was Slim-Pickens. We wrote a couple things, and I felt gross doing it. The producer guy didn't like it, and we didn't either. So it was, 'All right, I tried that, now I'm just going to write for myself.'
That decision was brought into even sharper focus by personal tragedy. "I lost my firstborn son to a heart ailment," Price says, "and I was really down and depressed. I was drinking too much. I was definitely lost. I did some things that I regret very much now that resulted in a brush with the law. Thank god I had my friends and family to keep me going. Coming through that, I thought, 'I'm just going to write music that I want to hear.' It was a big turning point."
With a new batch of songs, Price approached producers and labels. Nobody responded. Feeling like "an outcast in Nashville," she turned her sights on Memphis instead. "I once heard someone say, 'Nashville has glitz, but Memphis has grit."'And I'm like, 'Hey, I've got grit too! I'm gonna go to Memphis and make this record.'"
A year before, she had visited the legendary Sun Studio, as a tourist. "The first time I walked in the room, the guide said, 'This is where Elvis stood.' They have the X on the floor, and she said, 'It's rumored that Bob Dylan came in and kissed the X on the floor.' So I waited for everybody to leave, then I got down on my knees, and thought, 'There, now I've kissed both Bob Dylan and Elvis."
Her curiosity piqued by a "Make Your Own Demo at Sun" sign, Price met the house engineer, Matt Ross-Spang. "He and I clicked right off the bat. I liked his energy. He had great ideas. We did a single, and it didn't turn out the way I wanted. But Matt was persistent about us working together again." To finance the sessions for 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter,' Price and Ivey skipped the usual crowd-funding route, instead selling one of their cars, some instruments and even pawning her wedding ring. Price says, "My husband said, 'This is all or nothing. I believe in you. I believe in this record. I'll sell our house if it comes down to it.'"
In Memphis, Price and her band worked the night shift, from 7pm-2am (after the museum had closed), cutting tracks live to analog tape. "It was cool to do later sessions," she says. "It's like doing shows, where you're singing at 11 o'clock. My voice was already warmed up. It was such a relaxed vibe at Sun. And it felt haunted in a good way, like Elvis and Johnny were watching over us."
With the album done, Price says she shopped it to "literally every label in Nashville." Except the one where it ended up. "Honestly, I didn't think it would fit at Third Man," she says. "Then a friend said, 'You're on Jack's radar, he wants to hear the record.' I was like, 'No way.' I sent it over, and it just felt like home. A good creative space to be involved in, and everyone is so down to earth. It was awesome when I met with Jack. He told me he thought my voice was a breath of fresh air, and that he loved the record."
As Price looks ahead to a busy 2016, full of touring and promoting 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter,' she reflects on her hopes for what listeners might get from these songs. "I hope that the record helps people get through hard times or depression. That's ultimately what music did for me in my childhood, and especially in my early adult years. It's about being able to connect personally with a song, and hopefully, it makes you feel not so lonely."

 

BRENT COBB

Brent Cobb didn’t set out to write an album that feels and sounds like the place he grew up. But now that the grooves have been cut in his debut LP, Shine on Rainy Day, there’s no denying the people, the places and the vibe of his southcentral Georgia home infuse almost every song.
“It just is Georgia,” Brent says in his musical drawl. “It's just that rural, easy-going way it feels down there on a nice spring evening when the wind’s blowing warm and you smell wisteria, you know?”
It’s quiet down there where he’s from in Ellaville – “population 1,609” - laid back and forgotten in the shadow of Atlanta and Savannah. The people have blue-collar values and believe in treating your neighbor like you want to be treated. They believe in curses and the dark finger of Fate and wield a sharp, dark sense of humor that sustains them through the hardest of times. Distant radio stations, roadside honkytonks made of cinderblock and back-porch picking sessions heavy on the backbeat predominate under Spanish moss-strewn live oaks and loblolly pines.
“Lord, when I die, let’s make a deal,” Brent sings on the album’s swirling thesis statement, “South of Atlanta,” “lay me down in that town where time stands still.”
Shine on Rainy Day is an album Brent’s been trying to make for a decade, enlisting his cousin and fellow Georgian, Dave Cobb, the Grammy Award-winning producer whose Elektra Records imprint Low Country Sound is home to the album.
Brent wanted to record an album that felt Southern, though not the kind of Southern you might expect. Neither Southern rock nor mainstream country, the sound sits somewhere on the wide bandwidth that exists between the two. Cousin Dave helped him find the right vibe, full of blue-eyed soul, country funk and the kind of swamp boogie sounds that predominated pop in the 1960s and early 1970s. There’s a reason Georgia was always on Ray Charles’ mind, after all.
“I don't mean to get weird and be into, like, deep shit, but it really has got to be blood,” Brent said. “When I write songs, it's almost like I didn't write them. You know it's just like this is happening right now and it just comes out. He's the same way in the studio. He's like, ‘Put this right here and play it like this,’ and you're like why? And he’s like, ‘I don't know, it's just the way it's supposed to go.’ That's exactly how I write songs.”
Brent finds it a strange sensation to be so closely linked to someone. Though cousins, the Cobbs didn’t know each other growing up. Dave’s a little bit older than 29-year-old Brent and his father was the one brother who left the area and moved away – to an island off the coast from Savannah. So when they first met – as adults at an aunt’s funeral – Brent was wary. And a little bit of an ass.
“We're standing around outside and I was like, ‘Man, we hear you're producing in L.A. What you produced?’ just kind of like a jerk, really,” Brent said with a laugh. “He told me Shooter Jennings’ 'Put the O Back in Country,' and that floored me, man. Because me and my buddies working at a tree service, we’d get off work, somebody would get a 12 pack, we’d get stoned and listen to 'Put the O Back in Country,' man. We knew it was the cool country. We knew it was for real. Man, I mean it was the shit.”
Brent’s dad shamelessly slipped Dave a disc of six acoustic songs Brent recorded as he left town. Dave didn’t really want to listen to it, but his wife, Lydia, convinced him to stick it in the car’s player on the way to the airport. Not long after Jennings called and invited Brent out to Los Angeles.
He spent four months there, but after living through an earthquake, a drought, a near car-jacking and a drive-by shooting he returned home where he lived for about four months before an old acquaintance from the area, Luke Bryan, called out of the blue. Bryan invited Brent to stay with him and his wife for a week to write and get to know Nashville.
Not long after he returned for good and recorded a well-received EP that led to 3½ years on the road, touring with a band and opening for every big player in country. He decided that wasn’t what he was looking for either, and began to focus more deeply on songwriting. He landed several cuts – most notably Miranda Lambert’s “Old Shit,” Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t It” and Bryan’s “Tailgate Blues”- while working on his own songs and searching for a direction for his long-delayed debut.
Meanwhile, Dave left L.A. for Nashville and began building a reputation as one of music’s most exciting producers for his work with Chris Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. As part of his deal with Elektra, he conceived of a concept album called Southern Family and thought it only right his “bitch ass little cousin” have a part. “So I was like, ‘I’ll be there,’” Brent said. He contributed “Down Home” to the album and also mentioned the project to Lambert, who wanted in and sang the Brent-written “Sweet By & By,” a standout on an album full of them.
It was during these sessions that the Cobbs began to notice a real connection in the way they would approach songs during the recording process. “It just felt like home, you know?” Brent said. “I made the comment, ‘Dude, let's just do it.’ So we did.”
From the Nashville slice-of-life narrative of “Solving Problems” to the delicate and powerful interplay of acoustic and electric guitars on the stunning closer “Black Crow,” the album feels like the people, places and sounds of Brent’s life.
The album carries something of a Southern Gothic narrative, alternating between dark visions and self-deprecating scenes of black humor that bubble up in laugh-or-cry moments. He chose the album’s title after a friend heard “Shine on Rainy Day” following a family tragedy and mentioned how powerful it was to him.
“When you have a bad storm that hits, the next day the trees are in full bloom and the grass is greener and lightning cleans the air up,” Brent said. “My friend called me up out of the blue and said that song hit him so hard. It’s talking about a rainy day, they’re going through a real life rainy day.”
Like “Shine on Rainy Day,” the album alternates between light and dark. In “Black Crow,” a doomed soul argues with a laughing crow sitting on a fencepost, “Black crow, I ain’t a joke no more!,” before earning a prison sentence in a corner store robbery. “Lord,” he sings, “I can feel those spirits carrying me down” before Jason Isbell unleashes a devilish slide guitar line that feels like a Neil Young guitar solo.
The deliciously self-deprecating “Diggin’ Holes” has that giddy AM radio/Gram Parsons feel with dancing music accompanied by dark lyrics that are both funny and painful. “I ought to be workin’ in a coal mine/Lord knows I’m good at diggin’ holes.”
“Down in the Gulley” is a sour mash-flavored short story with a first line worthy of Faulkner or O’Connor: “My granddaddy was a good man – no matter what the papers said.” The dread-filled “Let the Rain Come Down” opens with visions of doom, a rattlesnake strung from a tree and a witch’s curse: “She put a curse on me/Another on the river/And now my crops won’t grow no more.”
“Solving Problems” was written sitting on a balcony overlooking an especially historic corner of historic Music Row while thinking about Kris Kristofferson’s “To Beat the Devil,” which has a spoken word section that feels lifted right from the Row.
“The energy just feels crazy around here,” Brent said. “I loved how Kristofferson would capture the present moment of his Nashville during that time. Nobody does that anymore.”
“Country Bound” is the only song on the album not written or co-written by Brent. Instead, the song was written by his father and uncle in a far-off place called Cleveland.
“It was the first song I ever witnessed being written in my life,” Brent said. “I was 5 years old and it was the first time I ever saw snow, too. We were up in Cleveland for Christmas. My uncle had been through this breakup and he was wanting to get the hell out of Cleveland and go to Georgia.”
Brent knows the feeling, and after listening to Shine on Rainy Day, he hopes you get it, too. He has never been more proud of his work. After 10 years of searching and struggle, the LP sounds and feels exactly how he wants it to. Like home “It’s not as good as it's going to get,” Brent said. “But if it’s the last thing that I ever do, if I died the day after it came out, then thank God I was able to record it because the songs and the production, it was everything I wanted to say. Finally.”
First impressions matter. Especially on a debut album. Time and attention-strapped listeners size up an artist within a song or two, then move on or delve in further. Fortunately, it only takes Margo Price about twenty-eight seconds to convince you that you're hearing the arrival of a singular new talent. "Hands of Time," the opener on 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter' (coming Spring 2016, Third Man Records), is an invitation, a mission statement and a starkly poetic summary of the 32-year old singer's life, all in one knockout, self-penned punch. Easing in over a groove of sidestick, bass and atmospheric guitar, Price sings, "When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road, I was fifty-seven dollars from bein' broke . . ." It has the feel of the first line of a great novel or opening scene in a classic film. There's an expectancy, a brewing excitement. And as the song builds, strings rising around her, Price recalls hardships and heartaches -- the loss of her family's farm, the death of her child, problems with men and the bottle. There is no self-pity or over-emoting. Her voice has that alluring mix of vulnerability and resilience that was once the province of Loretta and Dolly. It is a tour-de-force performance that is vivid, deeply moving and all true. 
"I'm writing from my heart and life experiences," Price says. "I knew I wanted to start the record with this song, but everyone in the band said, 'No, no, that's a bad move.' And then Third Man said, 'We think this should be the first song,' and I was like, 'Yes!' It really just lays it out. If you can get through 'Hands of Time,' the rest of the record is going to come very easily." 
And indeed it does. The honky tonk comeuppance of "About To Find Out," the rockabilly-charged "This Town Gets Around" and weekend twang of "Hurtin' (On The Bottle)" all add fresh twists to classic Nashville country, while sounding like they could've been hits in any decade. Meanwhile, the hard-hitting blues grooves of "Four Years of Chances" and "Tennessee Song" push the boundaries further west to Memphis (the album was recorded at Sun Studio). Throughout, producer Alex Munoz, engineer Matt Ross-Spang and the ace band help frame the material with spare, spacious arrangements, keeping the focus on Price's soulful vocals. 
"I think about an artist like Bobbie Gentry, who was able to mix country with soul," Price says. "But really, I never set out to make a country soul record. It's just that I like Etta James, and I like Hank Williams, and sometimes those things come together and make nice little babies." 
Her tastes developed early. Growing up in Aledo, Illinois (pop. 3,612), Price was surrounded by music -- everything from Tom Petty to the Statler Brothers. By middle school, she was singing in the choir and doing the national anthem at local football games. "I was one of the only people who could sing it without changing keys," she says, with a laugh. With money from her eighth grade graduation, Price bought her first guitar and started writing songs, influenced by Joni Mitchell and Maria Muldaur. After dropping out of college, she moved to Nashville in 2003 and began the usual apprenticeship of open mic nights and networking. 
Though she loved the friendliness of Music City, she says, "I didn't feel like the glossy country music at the time had any space for me." On the advice of her great uncle, Bobby Fischer, a successful tunesmith with over 500 cuts by artists including George Jones, Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire, she kept writing and honing her voice. She soon met bass player -- and future husband -- Jeremy Ivey, and formed a band called Buffalo Clover. They self-released three records and built a local following. Of course, the music biz being the minefield of dreams that it is, there were false promises and glittering temptations along the way (humorously catalogued in "This Town Gets Around"). "I'm so glad that I didn't sacrifice my integrity five or ten years ago," Price says. "I had opportunities to. I remember meeting this one guy who said, 'I'm a big producer and I know all these people on Music Row.' So Jeremy and I tried to write some mainstream country songs. We created pen names because we didn't want anyone to know it was us -- Sylvia Slim and Sam Pickens. Together it was Slim-Pickens. We wrote a couple things, and I felt gross doing it. The producer guy didn't like it, and we didn't either. So it was, 'All right, I tried that, now I'm just going to write for myself.'" 
That decision was brought into even sharper focus by personal tragedy. "I lost my firstborn son to a heart ailment," Price says, "and I was really down and depressed. I was drinking too much. I was definitely lost. I did some things that I regret very much now that resulted in a brush with the law. Thank god I had my friends and family to keep me going. Coming through that, I thought, 'I'm just going to write music that I want to hear.' It was a big turning point." 
With a new batch of songs, Price approached producers and labels. Nobody responded. Feeling like "an outcast in Nashville," she turned her sights on Memphis instead. "I once heard someone say, 'Nashville has glitz, but Memphis has grit."'And I'm like, 'Hey, I've got grit too! I'm gonna go to Memphis and make this record.'" 
A year before, she had visited the legendary Sun Studio, as a tourist. "The first time I walked in the room, the guide said, 'This is where Elvis stood.' They have the X on the floor, and she said, 'It's rumored that Bob Dylan came in and kissed the X on the floor.' So I waited for everybody to leave, then I got down on my knees, and thought, 'There, now I've kissed both Bob Dylan and Elvis." 
Her curiosity piqued by a "Make Your Own Demo at Sun" sign, Price met the house engineer, Matt Ross-Spang. "He and I clicked right off the bat. I liked his energy. He had great ideas. We did a single, and it didn't turn out the way I wanted. But Matt was persistent about us working together again." To finance the sessions for 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter,' Price and Ivey skipped the usual crowd-funding route, instead selling one of their cars, some instruments and even pawning her wedding ring. Price says, "My husband said, 'This is all or nothing. I believe in you. I believe in this record. I'll sell our house if it comes down to it.'" 
In Memphis, Price and her band worked the night shift, from 7pm-2am (after the museum had closed), cutting tracks live to analog tape. "It was cool to do later sessions," she says. "It's like doing shows, where you're singing at 11 o'clock. My voice was already warmed up. It was such a relaxed vibe at Sun. And it felt haunted in a good way, like Elvis and Johnny were watching over us." 
With the album done, Price says she shopped it to "literally every label in Nashville." Except the one where it ended up. "Honestly, I didn't think it would fit at Third Man," she says. "Then a friend said, 'You're on Jack's radar, he wants to hear the record.' I was like, 'No way.' I sent it over, and it just felt like home. A good creative space to be involved in, and everyone is so down to earth. It was awesome when I met with Jack. He told me he thought my voice was a breath of fresh air, and that he loved the record." 
As Price looks ahead to a busy 2016, full of touring and promoting 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter,' she reflects on her hopes for what listeners might get from these songs. "I hope that the record helps people get through hard times or depression. That's ultimately what music did for me in my childhood, and especially in my early adult years. It's about being able to connect personally with a song, and hopefully, it makes you feel not so lonely."

Tickets

Details

  • 7:30PM–Thursday, April 27
  • Doors at 6:30PM
  • $39.50-$45.00

with Margo Price & Brent Cobb 

Doors at 6:30PM

 

JAMEY JOHNSON

Eleven-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson is “one of the greatest country singers of our time,” according to the Washington Post. He is one of only a few people in the history of country music to win two Song of the Year Awards from both the CMA and ACMs.
His 2008 album, That Lonesome Song, was certified platinum for 1 million in sales, and his 2010 ambitious double album, The Guitar Song, received a gold certification.
In addition, he won two Song of the Year Trophies, for “Give It Away” and “In Color,” both from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. He has received tremendous praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and other publications, many of which have hailed his albums as masterpieces.
In 2012, the Alabama native released his fifth studio album, a tribute project to late songwriter Hank Cochran. The Grammy-nominated Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran paired him with Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Ray Price, Elvis Costello, George Strait, Vince Gill and Merle Haggard.
In 2013, the Nashville Scene’s 13th annual Country Music Critics’ Poll named it the year’s best album. (Two years earlier, the same poll named Johnson’s The Guitar Song as the year's best album, and Johnson himself as best male vocalist, best songwriter and artist of the year.)

 

MARGO PRICE

First impressions matter. Especially on a debut album. Time and attention-strapped listeners size up an artist within a song or two, then move on or delve in further. Fortunately, it only takes Margo Price about twenty-eight seconds to convince you that you're hearing the arrival of a singular new talent. "Hands of Time," the opener on 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter' (coming Spring 2016, Third Man Records), is an invitation, a mission statement and a starkly poetic summary of the 32-year old singer's life, all in one knockout, self-penned punch. Easing in over a groove of sidestick, bass and atmospheric guitar, Price sings, "When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road, I was fifty-seven dollars from bein' broke . . ." It has the feel of the first line of a great novel or opening scene in a classic film. There's an expectancy, a brewing excitement. And as the song builds, strings rising around her, Price recalls hardships and heartaches -- the loss of her family's farm, the death of her child, problems with men and the bottle. There is no self-pity or over-emoting. Her voice has that alluring mix of vulnerability and resilience that was once the province of Loretta and Dolly. It is a tour-de-force performance that is vivid, deeply moving and all true.
"I'm writing from my heart and life experiences," Price says. "I knew I wanted to start the record with this song, but everyone in the band said, 'No, no, that's a bad move.' And then Third Man said, 'We think this should be the first song,' and I was like, 'Yes!' It really just lays it out. If you can get through 'Hands of Time,' the rest of the record is going to come very easily."
And indeed it does. The honky tonk comeuppance of "About To Find Out," the rockabilly-charged "This Town Gets Around" and weekend twang of "Hurtin' (On The Bottle)" all add fresh twists to classic Nashville country, while sounding like they could've been hits in any decade. Meanwhile, the hard-hitting blues grooves of "Four Years of Chances" and "Tennessee Song" push the boundaries further west to Memphis (the album was recorded at Sun Studio). Throughout, producer Alex Munoz, engineer Matt Ross-Spang and the ace band help frame the material with spare, spacious arrangements, keeping the focus on Price's soulful vocals.
"I think about an artist like Bobbie Gentry, who was able to mix country with soul," Price says. "But really, I never set out to make a country soul record. It's just that I like Etta James, and I like Hank Williams, and sometimes those things come together and make nice little babies."
Her tastes developed early. Growing up in Aledo, Illinois (pop. 3,612), Price was surrounded by music -- everything from Tom Petty to the Statler Brothers. By middle school, she was singing in the choir and doing the national anthem at local football games. "I was one of the only people who could sing it without changing keys," she says, with a laugh. With money from her eighth grade graduation, Price bought her first guitar and started writing songs, influenced by Joni Mitchell and Maria Muldaur. After dropping out of college, she moved to Nashville in 2003 and began the usual apprenticeship of open mic nights and networking.
Though she loved the friendliness of Music City, she says, "I didn't feel like the glossy country music at the time had any space for me." On the advice of her great uncle, Bobby Fischer, a successful tunesmith with over 500 cuts by artists including George Jones, Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire, she kept writing and honing her voice. She soon met bass player -- and future husband -- Jeremy Ivey, and formed a band called Buffalo Clover. They self-released three records and built a local following. Of course, the music biz being the minefield of dreams that it is, there were false promises and glittering temptations along the way (humorously catalogued in "This Town Gets Around"). "I'm so glad that I didn't sacrifice my integrity five or ten years ago," Price says. "I had opportunities to. I remember meeting this one guy who said, 'I'm a big producer and I know all these people on Music Row.' So Jeremy and I tried to write some mainstream country songs. We created pen names because we didn't want anyone to know it was us -- Sylvia Slim and Sam Pickens. Together it was Slim-Pickens. We wrote a couple things, and I felt gross doing it. The producer guy didn't like it, and we didn't either. So it was, 'All right, I tried that, now I'm just going to write for myself.'
That decision was brought into even sharper focus by personal tragedy. "I lost my firstborn son to a heart ailment," Price says, "and I was really down and depressed. I was drinking too much. I was definitely lost. I did some things that I regret very much now that resulted in a brush with the law. Thank god I had my friends and family to keep me going. Coming through that, I thought, 'I'm just going to write music that I want to hear.' It was a big turning point."
With a new batch of songs, Price approached producers and labels. Nobody responded. Feeling like "an outcast in Nashville," she turned her sights on Memphis instead. "I once heard someone say, 'Nashville has glitz, but Memphis has grit."'And I'm like, 'Hey, I've got grit too! I'm gonna go to Memphis and make this record.'"
A year before, she had visited the legendary Sun Studio, as a tourist. "The first time I walked in the room, the guide said, 'This is where Elvis stood.' They have the X on the floor, and she said, 'It's rumored that Bob Dylan came in and kissed the X on the floor.' So I waited for everybody to leave, then I got down on my knees, and thought, 'There, now I've kissed both Bob Dylan and Elvis."
Her curiosity piqued by a "Make Your Own Demo at Sun" sign, Price met the house engineer, Matt Ross-Spang. "He and I clicked right off the bat. I liked his energy. He had great ideas. We did a single, and it didn't turn out the way I wanted. But Matt was persistent about us working together again." To finance the sessions for 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter,' Price and Ivey skipped the usual crowd-funding route, instead selling one of their cars, some instruments and even pawning her wedding ring. Price says, "My husband said, 'This is all or nothing. I believe in you. I believe in this record. I'll sell our house if it comes down to it.'"
In Memphis, Price and her band worked the night shift, from 7pm-2am (after the museum had closed), cutting tracks live to analog tape. "It was cool to do later sessions," she says. "It's like doing shows, where you're singing at 11 o'clock. My voice was already warmed up. It was such a relaxed vibe at Sun. And it felt haunted in a good way, like Elvis and Johnny were watching over us."
With the album done, Price says she shopped it to "literally every label in Nashville." Except the one where it ended up. "Honestly, I didn't think it would fit at Third Man," she says. "Then a friend said, 'You're on Jack's radar, he wants to hear the record.' I was like, 'No way.' I sent it over, and it just felt like home. A good creative space to be involved in, and everyone is so down to earth. It was awesome when I met with Jack. He told me he thought my voice was a breath of fresh air, and that he loved the record."
As Price looks ahead to a busy 2016, full of touring and promoting 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter,' she reflects on her hopes for what listeners might get from these songs. "I hope that the record helps people get through hard times or depression. That's ultimately what music did for me in my childhood, and especially in my early adult years. It's about being able to connect personally with a song, and hopefully, it makes you feel not so lonely."

 

BRENT COBB

Brent Cobb didn’t set out to write an album that feels and sounds like the place he grew up. But now that the grooves have been cut in his debut LP, Shine on Rainy Day, there’s no denying the people, the places and the vibe of his southcentral Georgia home infuse almost every song.
“It just is Georgia,” Brent says in his musical drawl. “It's just that rural, easy-going way it feels down there on a nice spring evening when the wind’s blowing warm and you smell wisteria, you know?”
It’s quiet down there where he’s from in Ellaville – “population 1,609” - laid back and forgotten in the shadow of Atlanta and Savannah. The people have blue-collar values and believe in treating your neighbor like you want to be treated. They believe in curses and the dark finger of Fate and wield a sharp, dark sense of humor that sustains them through the hardest of times. Distant radio stations, roadside honkytonks made of cinderblock and back-porch picking sessions heavy on the backbeat predominate under Spanish moss-strewn live oaks and loblolly pines.
“Lord, when I die, let’s make a deal,” Brent sings on the album’s swirling thesis statement, “South of Atlanta,” “lay me down in that town where time stands still.”
Shine on Rainy Day is an album Brent’s been trying to make for a decade, enlisting his cousin and fellow Georgian, Dave Cobb, the Grammy Award-winning producer whose Elektra Records imprint Low Country Sound is home to the album.
Brent wanted to record an album that felt Southern, though not the kind of Southern you might expect. Neither Southern rock nor mainstream country, the sound sits somewhere on the wide bandwidth that exists between the two. Cousin Dave helped him find the right vibe, full of blue-eyed soul, country funk and the kind of swamp boogie sounds that predominated pop in the 1960s and early 1970s. There’s a reason Georgia was always on Ray Charles’ mind, after all.
“I don't mean to get weird and be into, like, deep shit, but it really has got to be blood,” Brent said. “When I write songs, it's almost like I didn't write them. You know it's just like this is happening right now and it just comes out. He's the same way in the studio. He's like, ‘Put this right here and play it like this,’ and you're like why? And he’s like, ‘I don't know, it's just the way it's supposed to go.’ That's exactly how I write songs.”
Brent finds it a strange sensation to be so closely linked to someone. Though cousins, the Cobbs didn’t know each other growing up. Dave’s a little bit older than 29-year-old Brent and his father was the one brother who left the area and moved away – to an island off the coast from Savannah. So when they first met – as adults at an aunt’s funeral – Brent was wary. And a little bit of an ass.
“We're standing around outside and I was like, ‘Man, we hear you're producing in L.A. What you produced?’ just kind of like a jerk, really,” Brent said with a laugh. “He told me Shooter Jennings’ 'Put the O Back in Country,' and that floored me, man. Because me and my buddies working at a tree service, we’d get off work, somebody would get a 12 pack, we’d get stoned and listen to 'Put the O Back in Country,' man. We knew it was the cool country. We knew it was for real. Man, I mean it was the shit.”
Brent’s dad shamelessly slipped Dave a disc of six acoustic songs Brent recorded as he left town. Dave didn’t really want to listen to it, but his wife, Lydia, convinced him to stick it in the car’s player on the way to the airport. Not long after Jennings called and invited Brent out to Los Angeles.
He spent four months there, but after living through an earthquake, a drought, a near car-jacking and a drive-by shooting he returned home where he lived for about four months before an old acquaintance from the area, Luke Bryan, called out of the blue. Bryan invited Brent to stay with him and his wife for a week to write and get to know Nashville.
Not long after he returned for good and recorded a well-received EP that led to 3½ years on the road, touring with a band and opening for every big player in country. He decided that wasn’t what he was looking for either, and began to focus more deeply on songwriting. He landed several cuts – most notably Miranda Lambert’s “Old Shit,” Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t It” and Bryan’s “Tailgate Blues”- while working on his own songs and searching for a direction for his long-delayed debut.
Meanwhile, Dave left L.A. for Nashville and began building a reputation as one of music’s most exciting producers for his work with Chris Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. As part of his deal with Elektra, he conceived of a concept album called Southern Family and thought it only right his “bitch ass little cousin” have a part. “So I was like, ‘I’ll be there,’” Brent said. He contributed “Down Home” to the album and also mentioned the project to Lambert, who wanted in and sang the Brent-written “Sweet By & By,” a standout on an album full of them.
It was during these sessions that the Cobbs began to notice a real connection in the way they would approach songs during the recording process. “It just felt like home, you know?” Brent said. “I made the comment, ‘Dude, let's just do it.’ So we did.”
From the Nashville slice-of-life narrative of “Solving Problems” to the delicate and powerful interplay of acoustic and electric guitars on the stunning closer “Black Crow,” the album feels like the people, places and sounds of Brent’s life.
The album carries something of a Southern Gothic narrative, alternating between dark visions and self-deprecating scenes of black humor that bubble up in laugh-or-cry moments. He chose the album’s title after a friend heard “Shine on Rainy Day” following a family tragedy and mentioned how powerful it was to him.
“When you have a bad storm that hits, the next day the trees are in full bloom and the grass is greener and lightning cleans the air up,” Brent said. “My friend called me up out of the blue and said that song hit him so hard. It’s talking about a rainy day, they’re going through a real life rainy day.”
Like “Shine on Rainy Day,” the album alternates between light and dark. In “Black Crow,” a doomed soul argues with a laughing crow sitting on a fencepost, “Black crow, I ain’t a joke no more!,” before earning a prison sentence in a corner store robbery. “Lord,” he sings, “I can feel those spirits carrying me down” before Jason Isbell unleashes a devilish slide guitar line that feels like a Neil Young guitar solo.
The deliciously self-deprecating “Diggin’ Holes” has that giddy AM radio/Gram Parsons feel with dancing music accompanied by dark lyrics that are both funny and painful. “I ought to be workin’ in a coal mine/Lord knows I’m good at diggin’ holes.”
“Down in the Gulley” is a sour mash-flavored short story with a first line worthy of Faulkner or O’Connor: “My granddaddy was a good man – no matter what the papers said.” The dread-filled “Let the Rain Come Down” opens with visions of doom, a rattlesnake strung from a tree and a witch’s curse: “She put a curse on me/Another on the river/And now my crops won’t grow no more.”
“Solving Problems” was written sitting on a balcony overlooking an especially historic corner of historic Music Row while thinking about Kris Kristofferson’s “To Beat the Devil,” which has a spoken word section that feels lifted right from the Row.
“The energy just feels crazy around here,” Brent said. “I loved how Kristofferson would capture the present moment of his Nashville during that time. Nobody does that anymore.”
“Country Bound” is the only song on the album not written or co-written by Brent. Instead, the song was written by his father and uncle in a far-off place called Cleveland.
“It was the first song I ever witnessed being written in my life,” Brent said. “I was 5 years old and it was the first time I ever saw snow, too. We were up in Cleveland for Christmas. My uncle had been through this breakup and he was wanting to get the hell out of Cleveland and go to Georgia.”
Brent knows the feeling, and after listening to Shine on Rainy Day, he hopes you get it, too. He has never been more proud of his work. After 10 years of searching and struggle, the LP sounds and feels exactly how he wants it to. Like home “It’s not as good as it's going to get,” Brent said. “But if it’s the last thing that I ever do, if I died the day after it came out, then thank God I was able to record it because the songs and the production, it was everything I wanted to say. Finally.”
First impressions matter. Especially on a debut album. Time and attention-strapped listeners size up an artist within a song or two, then move on or delve in further. Fortunately, it only takes Margo Price about twenty-eight seconds to convince you that you're hearing the arrival of a singular new talent. "Hands of Time," the opener on 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter' (coming Spring 2016, Third Man Records), is an invitation, a mission statement and a starkly poetic summary of the 32-year old singer's life, all in one knockout, self-penned punch. Easing in over a groove of sidestick, bass and atmospheric guitar, Price sings, "When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road, I was fifty-seven dollars from bein' broke . . ." It has the feel of the first line of a great novel or opening scene in a classic film. There's an expectancy, a brewing excitement. And as the song builds, strings rising around her, Price recalls hardships and heartaches -- the loss of her family's farm, the death of her child, problems with men and the bottle. There is no self-pity or over-emoting. Her voice has that alluring mix of vulnerability and resilience that was once the province of Loretta and Dolly. It is a tour-de-force performance that is vivid, deeply moving and all true. 
"I'm writing from my heart and life experiences," Price says. "I knew I wanted to start the record with this song, but everyone in the band said, 'No, no, that's a bad move.' And then Third Man said, 'We think this should be the first song,' and I was like, 'Yes!' It really just lays it out. If you can get through 'Hands of Time,' the rest of the record is going to come very easily." 
And indeed it does. The honky tonk comeuppance of "About To Find Out," the rockabilly-charged "This Town Gets Around" and weekend twang of "Hurtin' (On The Bottle)" all add fresh twists to classic Nashville country, while sounding like they could've been hits in any decade. Meanwhile, the hard-hitting blues grooves of "Four Years of Chances" and "Tennessee Song" push the boundaries further west to Memphis (the album was recorded at Sun Studio). Throughout, producer Alex Munoz, engineer Matt Ross-Spang and the ace band help frame the material with spare, spacious arrangements, keeping the focus on Price's soulful vocals. 
"I think about an artist like Bobbie Gentry, who was able to mix country with soul," Price says. "But really, I never set out to make a country soul record. It's just that I like Etta James, and I like Hank Williams, and sometimes those things come together and make nice little babies." 
Her tastes developed early. Growing up in Aledo, Illinois (pop. 3,612), Price was surrounded by music -- everything from Tom Petty to the Statler Brothers. By middle school, she was singing in the choir and doing the national anthem at local football games. "I was one of the only people who could sing it without changing keys," she says, with a laugh. With money from her eighth grade graduation, Price bought her first guitar and started writing songs, influenced by Joni Mitchell and Maria Muldaur. After dropping out of college, she moved to Nashville in 2003 and began the usual apprenticeship of open mic nights and networking. 
Though she loved the friendliness of Music City, she says, "I didn't feel like the glossy country music at the time had any space for me." On the advice of her great uncle, Bobby Fischer, a successful tunesmith with over 500 cuts by artists including George Jones, Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire, she kept writing and honing her voice. She soon met bass player -- and future husband -- Jeremy Ivey, and formed a band called Buffalo Clover. They self-released three records and built a local following. Of course, the music biz being the minefield of dreams that it is, there were false promises and glittering temptations along the way (humorously catalogued in "This Town Gets Around"). "I'm so glad that I didn't sacrifice my integrity five or ten years ago," Price says. "I had opportunities to. I remember meeting this one guy who said, 'I'm a big producer and I know all these people on Music Row.' So Jeremy and I tried to write some mainstream country songs. We created pen names because we didn't want anyone to know it was us -- Sylvia Slim and Sam Pickens. Together it was Slim-Pickens. We wrote a couple things, and I felt gross doing it. The producer guy didn't like it, and we didn't either. So it was, 'All right, I tried that, now I'm just going to write for myself.'" 
That decision was brought into even sharper focus by personal tragedy. "I lost my firstborn son to a heart ailment," Price says, "and I was really down and depressed. I was drinking too much. I was definitely lost. I did some things that I regret very much now that resulted in a brush with the law. Thank god I had my friends and family to keep me going. Coming through that, I thought, 'I'm just going to write music that I want to hear.' It was a big turning point." 
With a new batch of songs, Price approached producers and labels. Nobody responded. Feeling like "an outcast in Nashville," she turned her sights on Memphis instead. "I once heard someone say, 'Nashville has glitz, but Memphis has grit."'And I'm like, 'Hey, I've got grit too! I'm gonna go to Memphis and make this record.'" 
A year before, she had visited the legendary Sun Studio, as a tourist. "The first time I walked in the room, the guide said, 'This is where Elvis stood.' They have the X on the floor, and she said, 'It's rumored that Bob Dylan came in and kissed the X on the floor.' So I waited for everybody to leave, then I got down on my knees, and thought, 'There, now I've kissed both Bob Dylan and Elvis." 
Her curiosity piqued by a "Make Your Own Demo at Sun" sign, Price met the house engineer, Matt Ross-Spang. "He and I clicked right off the bat. I liked his energy. He had great ideas. We did a single, and it didn't turn out the way I wanted. But Matt was persistent about us working together again." To finance the sessions for 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter,' Price and Ivey skipped the usual crowd-funding route, instead selling one of their cars, some instruments and even pawning her wedding ring. Price says, "My husband said, 'This is all or nothing. I believe in you. I believe in this record. I'll sell our house if it comes down to it.'" 
In Memphis, Price and her band worked the night shift, from 7pm-2am (after the museum had closed), cutting tracks live to analog tape. "It was cool to do later sessions," she says. "It's like doing shows, where you're singing at 11 o'clock. My voice was already warmed up. It was such a relaxed vibe at Sun. And it felt haunted in a good way, like Elvis and Johnny were watching over us." 
With the album done, Price says she shopped it to "literally every label in Nashville." Except the one where it ended up. "Honestly, I didn't think it would fit at Third Man," she says. "Then a friend said, 'You're on Jack's radar, he wants to hear the record.' I was like, 'No way.' I sent it over, and it just felt like home. A good creative space to be involved in, and everyone is so down to earth. It was awesome when I met with Jack. He told me he thought my voice was a breath of fresh air, and that he loved the record." 
As Price looks ahead to a busy 2016, full of touring and promoting 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter,' she reflects on her hopes for what listeners might get from these songs. "I hope that the record helps people get through hard times or depression. That's ultimately what music did for me in my childhood, and especially in my early adult years. It's about being able to connect personally with a song, and hopefully, it makes you feel not so lonely."

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