INTERESTING STUFF – 2 November 2019
Celebrating Día de Muertos

ELDER MUSIC: Country Performers Who Should be Better Known

Tibbles1SM100x130This 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.

Lacy J Dalton

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.

♫ Lacy J Dalton - Crazy Blue Eyes

I had several albums of RUSTY WIER before I saw him in Albuquerque; he was opening for Bonnie Raitt.

Rusty Wier

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.

♫ Rusty Wier - The Coast Of Colorado

DAVID ALLAN COE is not really a mainstream performer.

David Allan Coe

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.

♫ David Allan Coe - If Only Your Eyes Could Lie

I have my friend Tony to thank for turning me on to WILLIS ALAN RAMSEY.

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).

♫ Willis Alan Ramsey - 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.

Darden Smith

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.

♫ Darden Smith - Two Dollar Novels

I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES several times. They are my favorite southern rock band.

Amazing RhythmAces

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).

♫ Amazing Rhythm Aces - 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.

Robin Lee

“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.

♫ Robin Lee - This Old Flame

I first encountered HERB PEDERSEN as a member of The Dillards.

Herb Pedersen

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.

♫ Herb Pedersen - 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. Morris

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.

♫ RB Morris - They Say There's A Time

I found LEE ANN WOMACK on the same station where I found Robin Lee.

Lee Ann Womack

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.

♫ Lee Ann Womack - 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.

Amazing Rhythm Aces

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.

♫ Amazing Rhythm Aces - Rodrigo Rita and Elaine


I love reading your column as I always learn something new in music. I remember hearing Jerry Jeff Walker refer to David Allen Coe as Edgar Allen Coe. Haha. If you enjoy music of the southwestern theme check out The Dusty Chaps. Maybe you already have. Domino Joe is on of my favorite albums to listen to while driving.
Thanks again

Thx! Loved the PBS country music documentary that recently aired. I was sorry to hear Russell Smith passed away. I enjoyed The End in Sight right off the bat.

Please listen to and add Billie Jo Spears to your list. I think she was more popular in Europe, which is such a shame. Her songs are great for singing along

I listened to all your selections. I had only heard the name of David Allan Coe. I checked the artists you listed: Lee Ann Womack is having concerts in North and South Carolina and Alabama in November. The Dillards also have venues.

Now that I live in Nashville I should know more about country music as so far I mostly listened to classical, jazz and world music, and only knew Willie Nelson and Dollie Parton in the country field. The bands you show have been established for quite a while and most are not playing live anymore. So I clicked on the venues coming up in Nashville and I was amazed, there are 498 concerts, festivals, etc. coming up in the greater Nashville area in the next few months. I counted 37 shows from tomorrow, Nov 4 until Thursday Nov 7 – who knew? No wonder they call it “Music City.” I live less than a mile from “music row,” 3 miles from the Ryman Auditorium ( the original home of the Grand Ole Opry) that still has shows. When I take a walk I see country singers playing in the streets, waiting to be “discovered” it’s amazing.

I have listened on TV to some of the new women country music singers, but I think many sound alike to me; I prefer “bluegrass music.” I enjoy your post though and wish you'll have another post with the current and upcoming country bands for us to discover.

Your comments are always so interesting, especially for exposing me, a lazy person, to music I wouldn't necessarily bother exploring.

I find that music and scent are extraordinarily emotionally evocative, especially these days as I look down the corridor of 70 years. And as much as I enjoy remembering my "yout", I find the music that speaks to me most these days evokes our shared human condition. And it takes a particular combination of words, voice, and music to elevate "He done me wrong" to "We all have broken hearts". I love coming across that combination.

Maybe I need a sense of the eternal more and more as I get closer to death, who knows?

Anyway, thanks for your efforts!

That’s so true in all genres that excellent musical artists, some even better than those who gain fame and fortune, exist in many U.S. cities and probably around the world in other countries known to and appreciated mostly by locals. Glad to see some in CW gaining more exposure with your post here.

I did watch Burns CW PBS special. Interesting how the music has evolved. Also, recall learning in the ‘80s how Nashville was becoming a music business center. Personally, am glad to see them get away from honky tonk, though there’s often still a vocal twang that doesn’t appeal to me. I quickly tire of a subset with a simplistic repetitive beat but some early jazz didn’t resonate with me either which was also true of Rock. I came away from the CW special still preferring music subsets called western, folk, blue grass that seem to fall under the broader CW umbrella today.

* blush *

Modesty forbids

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)