When Neil Young rounded up the current lineup of Crazy Horse last spring, they recorded Colorado, the first Crazy Horse album since 2012’s Psychedelic Pill.  The band features founding bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, as well as multi-instrumentalist Nils Lofgren on guitar. Nils played with Crazy Horse during the ’70s and rejoined in 2018.

Colorado was recorded in the Rocky Mountains and was produced by Neil Young and John Hanlon. Young has released a new version of “Shut it Down,” a track from the album, and has renamed it “Shut it Down 2020.” He and his wife, Daryl Hannah, made a video to go along with the song “as a document of Earth’s reaction to 2020’s pandemic,” Young says on his Archives.

Neil sends this message:

“These are uncertain times. I wish you all the best as you care for our sick, the young and old who we love so much.

Sending the best wishes to all the health care and government workers all over the world, to all the scientists who will learn and share with us the best ways to ensure survival in our world challenged. Let’s all work together and stay positive that we will find a way. With love to all, in all walks of life, all political persuasions, all colors. We will succeed working together for the good of our world as we are here together, hanging in the balance of nature.”

Neil’s second Fireside Sessions show, taped at his Telluride, Colorado home, was released on March 26. And you can catch him on Saturday, April 11th on Willie Nelson’s At Home with Farm Aid.

The post Neil Young Shares New Video for “Shut it Down” appeared first on American Blues Scene.

Bonafide soul singer and composer Bill Withers, whose career only lasted about a decade but encompassed several major hits, died from heart complications on Monday. The three-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was 81.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other,” the family said in a statement on Friday. “As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”

Withers was better known for hits like “Lean on Me,” “Lovely Day,” “Use Me Up,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.” These songs made him quite possibly the most ubiquitous R&B artist, as they are on everyone’s playlist and provide a soundtrack to every party, wedding, and other such social gathering.

His 1971 debut album, Just As I Am, found him in the harmonious company of Stephen Stills on guitar, Jim Keltner (Bob Dylan, Traveling Wilburys) on drums, and three quarters of The MGs — including Booker T. Jones himself, who produced the LP.

The breakthrough hit on that album was obviously “Aint No Sunshine.” But I’d like to draw attention to a song that’s always deeply resonated with me. The rootsy, bluesy “Grandma’s Hands” is a moving homage to his grandmother who helped raise him. Bill suffered from asthma and a stutter as a kid, but he also had his bulwark: his grandma. “Grandma’s hands picked me up each time I fell / Grandma’s hands, boy they really came in handy.”

Though he hailed from meek beginnings, he moved to Los Angeles in the ’70s to find fame and grow tired of it by the ’80s. Aside from his string of soothing soulful songs, he will also be remembered and valued for his more socially conscious works. “I Can’t Write Left-Handed” was written from the perspective of a young soldier who lost a limb in the Vietnam War. “Better Off Dead” was about an alcoholic’s suicide.

Remembering the legendary Bill Withers:

To all of us fans, she’s Dolly Parton. To little people, she’s “the Book Lady.” Today the singer/songwriter started a 10-week online series in which she reads a children’s book at bedtime, selecting books from her Imagination Library. You and your child can watch the “Goodnight with Dolly” readings streamed on YouTube on Thursdays at 7 p.m. EST. As the mother of a toddler, I am ever thankful that I can add Dolly to my presently scant list of family diversions during this challenging time.

Dolly’s Imagination Library book gifting project was started in 1995 to serve children in her home county in East Tennessee. The program now spans four countries and sends over one million free books each month to children registered for the program.

Imagination Library was inspired by her father who never had a chance to go to school, like most rural folk back then, because he had to provide for a family. Her father could not read or write, and was often embarrassed about it. Watching someone she loved so much grapple with such difficulties as not being able to complete forms or read to his children steered her toward the Imagination Library. And through the program, Dolly nurtures a love of reading in young children. 

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

Dolly has also donated $1M to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center for research on a coronavirus cure. “My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure,” her Instagram states.

Here is Dolly Parton reading the first book in the “Goodnight with Dolly” series, The Little Engine That Could, which premiered this evening:

“We’ll probably do this for the internet. Unless, you know, something terrible happens and we have to cheer up the world on the TV show.” These are the portentous words of Stephen Colbert preceding a duet with John Prine back in 2016.

Their performance of “That’s the Way the World Goes Round,” filmed in the Ed Sullivan Theater, had not been broadcast until this latest at-home episode of The Late Show. 

Colbert unearths the clip with this statement: “I’d like to take a moment right now to send out a personal message to a friend. Last week, our friend and yours, the musical great John Prine was placed on a ventilator with coronavirus symptoms. My thoughts are with John and his wife, Fiona, and his family — and everybody out there touched by this virus. I’d like to share with you right now one of the happiest moments I’ve had on my show or any show. And that’s when John and I sang a duet in 2016 that we never broadcast, but we’d like to now. Happy enchilada, John”

Prine remains in stable condition.

Watch Prine and Colbert below:

 

 

 

Joe Diffie, the hitmaker behind such timeless 90s country songs as “John Deere Green” and “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)” has sadly passed away today, March 29, due to complications from COVID-19. Diffie’s rep shared the news of the diagnosis on Friday, March 27.

The Grammy winner and Grand Ole Opry member will be remembered for his great vocal range, and for being an unrivaled interpreter of neo-traditional country music.

“Don’t spread my ashes out to sea don’t lay me down to rest / You can put my mind at ease if you fill my last request / Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die.”

 

 

Bill Rieflin, drummer for bands such as R.E.M., King Crimson, and Ministry has died after a battle with cancer. He was 59.

While best known as a drummer/hired gun, he was also a multi-instrumentalist versed in guitar, piano, and bass. His drum method was regarded as an industrial mainstay, as he played on tracks for Nine Inch Nails, Revolting Cocks, KMFDM, and Swans, in addition to Ministry.

Rieflin had also done work with Peter Murphy, Chris Cornell, Pigface, and many others. He joined R.E.M. in 2003 as a touring member, playing with them regularly — live and in the studio — until their disbandment in 2011. And more recently, he was one of three drummers playing with King Crimson, having joined in 2013 and taking a hiatus in 2019.

 

Chrissie Hynde and James Walbourne

The Pretenders have postponed the release of their 11th studio album, Hate for Sale. Due to retail restrictions surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, their LP will now be available on July 17. However, the band did premiere their title track today, March 24 (in case you’re like me and have no concept of time now).

Speaking of time warp, it sounds like The Pretenders as I know and love them. Much like the songs on their 1984 album, Learning to Crawl, “Hate for Sale” is yet another Pretenders moment transcending time and space — their punk energy and melodic sensibility live on.

And the musicality of The Damned also lives on in the title track. Chrissie Hynde confirms in this statement: “We all love punk, so I think it would be fair to say that ‘Hate for Sale’ is our tribute to the punk band I considered the most musical of the genre — The Damned.”

Listen to “Hate for Sale” by The Pretenders below:

 

 

 

 

“Who’s gonna play the Opry
And the Wabash Cannonball?
Who’s gonna give their heart and soul
To get to me and you?” 

– From George Jones’ “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”

Photo credit: Mark Mosrie

Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, and Brad Paisley performed together on the Grand Ole Opry stage for its 4,916th consecutive Saturday night show. They played not to a live audience, but rather a live broadcast on the digital multicast network Circle and other TV affiliates. The concert was also livestreamed on Circle’s Facebook and YouTube.

“We will all get through this because we’re gonna stick together,” said TV/radio personality Bobby Bones, who hosted the telecast. “We need to find ways to keep connected, and still be safe, which is why we’re here tonight.”

Facilitated by a skeleton crew, The three Opry members sat at a safe CDC-recommended social distance, swapping stories and playing some of the most revered songs in country music history. It’s worth mentioning that their set included Marty Stuart’s rendition of the trucker classic “Six Days on the Road” and Vince Gill’s breathtaking “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” Gill began writing the song inspired by the death of country balladeer Keith Whitley due to alcoholism in 1989, and finished it after his brother’s death in 1993.

The three also paid a wholehearted tribute to Kenny Rogers, who passed away the night before, by harmonizing together (Gill leading vocals with Stuart and Paisley joining in) on Rogers’ “Sweet Music Man.”

“That’s one of the songs that Kenny wrote,” Gill says following the performance. “He didn’t write very many songs, and it was always one of my favorite songs that Kenny ever did.”

The world’s longest-running radio show has postponed shows with a live house audience until April 4, but they have vowed to continue live broadcasts every Saturday night without an attending audience.

Watch more from the Opry livestream here:

 

If you’re seeking extrication during the new Dark Ages, but you also lead a clean life, Bruce Springsteen has the musical opiate. He’s released his 2009 concert, London Calling: Live in Hyde Park, onto streaming platforms in entirety for the first time. And if the COVID-19 pandemic feels concurrently like a loneliness epidemic, The Boss proves great company. 

Opening with the eponymous “London Calling” by The Clash, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band then kick into classics such as “Badlands,” “The Promised Land,” “Born to Run,” and then favorites “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark” as part of a long encore.

For quality quarantine time, here’s the full London Calling: Live in Hyde Park concert in playlist format:

 

 

 

In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the Luck Reunion, the “anti-festival” timed to coincide with SXSW every March, have decided to stage a virtual concert in its place. Luck Presents: ‘Til Further Notice will be live-streamed on Thursday, March 19. Starting at 6:00 PM and ending at 11 PM CT fans can tune in to Luck ReunionTwitch, or Facebook.

Everyone’s favorite outlaw country outlier, Willie Nelson, hosts the annual event and collective. Willie, his family members, and personal team strive to preserve traditions in American roots music, food, and craftsmanship. With six stages and under 4,000 attendees, the event offers respite from the sometimes overwhelming nature of SXSW. Luck Reunion is situated in the old west town of Luck, TX, A.K.A. Willie Nelson’s backyard on the outskirts of Austin. Luck, TX was built in 1985 as the backdrop for Red Headed Stranger, the film version of Willie’s breakthrough concept album of the same title.

Luck Productions co-founder Matt Bizer made this statement: “Everyone in our community is gutted. We are gutted. We couldn’t just sit around on Thursday when our event was supposed to take place, knowing that other producers and artists in our industry are also isolated and out of work. This is our effort to bring back a bit of the Luck spirit, and to try to raise money for the people and charities we care about so deeply.”

The performers of ‘Til Further Notice, including Jewel, Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, etc., will play call-in sets from their respective homes. The artists will donate digital tips from fans to charities of their choice. Also confirmed for ‘Til Further Notice are Lucinda Williams, Paul Simon & Edie Brickell, Nathaniel Rateliff, Margo Price & Jeremy Ivey, Randy Houser, Paul Cauthen, David Ramirez, Ida Mae, Tre Burt, Ian Ferguson, Devon Gilfillian, Early James, and Sunny War. 

“While the majority of the acts will be performing and recording from living rooms, bedrooms, or home studios, a small number of local acts are slated to (safely) broadcast from Austin’s premier recording facility, Arlyn Studios. Luck and Arlyn are working in tandem to do what they can to preserve the energy and camaraderie that is intrinsic in Austin’s creative community.” – Luck Reunion