This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
In every genre of music there are performers who are as good as, and occasionally better than, the big names. Today I’m featuring some country performers who I like a lot and wonder why they are not better known.
I hope to remedy that just a little bit in our little corner of the world. Fans of country may know some (or even all) of these; it’s for the other people who like good music, but are perhaps not fans of country music, for whom I feature them today.
Although ostensibly country, LACY J DALTON has elements of blues, folk and rock in her performances.
She may not be the only person in this column where that applies. Lacy has said that her influences are more along the lines of Leadbelly, Billie Holiday, Karen Dalton and Bob Dylan than any country performer. See what you think with Crazy Blue Eyes.
I had several albums of RUSTY WIER before I saw him in Albuquerque; he was opening for Bonnie Raitt.
Everyone was there to see Bonnie as was I, but I was also there to see Rusty. From the response of the audience I think I was the only one. I don’t know if he won them over but I thought he was great.
Alas, he’s no longer with us but he was one of the unsung country performers. He performs The Coast of Colorado.
DAVID ALLAN COE is not really a mainstream performer.
He is best known as a songwriter – many country (and other) singers have had hits with his songs. He’s also somewhat of a cult performer and you can find influences of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Bo Diddley in his music to go alongside the Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis.
He’s one of a kind, and that’s probably a good thing. This is If Only Your Eyes Could Lie.
I have my friend Tony to thank for turning me on to WILLIS ALAN RAMSEY.
Tony has good taste in music so I always listen to what he has to say. This was back in the seventies and Willis’s eponymous album was terrific. It still is.
Willis is still out there performing, but, and this is a real surprise given the quality of that original album, he has not recorded another. From that one here is Muskrat Love (Muskrat Candlelight).
Often I think I’m the only one who knows about certain artists, but writing these columns has really put that thought to bed. Once, I thought nobody else knew about DARDEN SMITH. There’s a blogger and occasional commenter who put me in my place. You know who you are.
I really had trouble deciding which song of his to include. It was a matter of drinking quite a bit of wine and playing the songs over and over again. Finally I settled on Two Dollar Novels. Darden has the help of another fine singer, Nanci Griffith, singing along with him.
I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES several times. They are my favorite southern rock band.
They also play country, blues, soul and anything else they set their minds and instruments to. Their one constant throughout their long existence has been their lead singer and songwriter, Russell Smith.
From their first album “Too Stuffed to Jump” here is The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune).
I stumbled on a country music station when I was in San Francisco once while I was searching for the classical music station. That station was playing ROBIN LEE at the time.
“That’s not bad”, I thought and left it there until the song ended. I went out and bought the CD called “This Old Flame” which turned out to be a good buy. From that album here is the title track, This Old Flame.
I first encountered HERB PEDERSEN as a member of The Dillards.
He later went solo and recorded several fine solo albums. Later still he was a founding member of The Desert Rose Band with Chris Hillman from The Byrds (and the Flying Burrito Brothers).
Later still, and this is the way I’ve seen him most recently, he and Chris perform as an acoustic duo. From his first solo album (“Southwest”) here is Wait a Minute.
R.B. MORRIS is difficult to categorise, which is fine by me. The only problem is this particular column is a particular genre, so I’ll have to put him in this bag.
R.B. started out as a poet and a playwright. Even with his songs, the influence of Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti shine through. This isn’t the standard stuff from which country songs are crafted, but R.B. isn’t like the other kiddies.
However, the song They Say There's a Time stays close to the country norm. Carmella Ramsey gives him some vocal assistance on this one.
I found LEE ANN WOMACK on the same station where I found Robin Lee.
I would flip back when the classical station was playing Wagner or Brahms or some such. They played this track and I also bought the CD. The album, and it’s another good one, is “Some Things I Know”. The track is I'll Think of a Reason Later.
I’m including a bonus track, just because I can. It’s another from the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES. It’s included as a tribute to Russell Smith, who died recently.
Here, from the Aces’ eponymous album, is Rodrigo, Rita and Elaine. We have Russell singing Rodrigo (or the narrator, it’s unclear), Joan Baez and Tracy Nelson (the singer, not the actress) as Rita and Elaine.