Saturday, August 07, 2004

Sunday Alert

Sunday on Channel Nine tomorrow is running an ABC (US) segment about the "culture wars" in the election, focusing on the recently announced MoveOn Pac concerts referred to below and including the Ted Koppel interview with Bruce Springsteen.

Billy Joe Shaver: A Songwriter and a Survivor

The writing side of Shaver was cherished by Johnny Cash, who employed him as a staff writer for a couple of years. (Brenda was Cash's hair stylist, ''she also worked for Dean Martin''). And Shaver, the writer, is held highly by guys such as Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, who both know something about penning country classics.

Some of Shaver's writing may have chased away personal demons. But on his latest recording, Billy and the Kid, due later this month, he reconnects with his late son.

The album is something of a tribute, bringing father and son together one more time on record. The two had recorded together before as ''Shaver.''

But Eddy Shaver left behind several tapes of songs he had done before his death. So, a few months ago, Billy Joe Shaver came to Nashville and recorded ''with'' his boy.

''It was a labor of love,'' he admits. ''Wanted people to realize what a great songwriter Eddy was.''

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco in October.

Review: Earle, Hiatt team up for fine, folky night.

"I used to be a folk singer, but I had to give it up," Americana music troubadour Steve Earle wise-cracked at the start of his set Thursday at the Minnesota Zoo. The statement proved to be pure irony.

Earle and fellow songwriting hero John Hiatt each put aside their electric guitars and played solo sets on Thursday, their first of two sold-out nights together (the other is tonight). With lots of storytelling, harmonica solos and guitar kapos used between them, the gig was as folky as they come.

Down Country Music's Backroads in the automobile section of the NYT (requires registration. Just do it, OK? You won't be sorry.) Driving tour of country's heart.

If you're a fan of Loretta Lynn or Dwight Yoakam — and even if you're not — one great road trip is in central Appalachia. In the hills and hollows that gave birth to country music, forest-lined roads meander into a time warp where there's a little white-washed church in every clearing and not a Starbucks to be found. Men in trucker caps warn lost travelers about precariously steep mountains and a stranger can join neighbors clog-dancing a Saturday night away to an old-time country band. Here, in old coal-mining towns, tiny mountainside settlements and long hollows harboring far-flung homes, the living and loving go on, still rich in material for a song that tells it like it is.

Visit sites like:

MILE 22: HILTONS, VA. Maces Springs, now called Hiltons, is where the Carter family — A. P. Carter, his wife, Sara, and her cousin Maybelle — lived, and where A. P. returned later in life and ran a general store. Easy-to-follow signs lead to the Carter Family Fold (, 276-386-6054), where Janette Carter, a daughter of A. P. and Sara, presents live shows with old-time and bluegrass bands every Saturday night. When Janette and her brother, Joe, sing, the 1,000-seat barn-amphitheater feels like the Carter back porch. The family museum, in A. P.'s general store, feels like the Carter living room, with dozens of photo albums, records and scrapbooks to flip through. Maybelle's daughter June Carter and June's husband, Johnny Cash, are in many a snapshot. The cabin where A. P. was born was recently restored and moved to this site, too.

MILE 67: NORTON, VA. Saturday is the night of choice for music in the hills, so after the first set at the Carter Fold, high-tail it over to the Country Cabin, (276) 679-2632, an hour away on Highway 23 in Norton. Its shows, with local and regional musicians and run by a nonprofit group called Appalachian Traditions, are actually in Country Cabin II. It's a bigger, newer version of the original wood cabin across the street, where locals started dancing to country bands in 1938, and where Dock Boggs, a coal miner who first recorded his white country blues in 1927, played and taught banjo after he was rediscovered in the folk music revival of the 1960's.

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