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Author Archives: Rich Kienzle

Buck Owens and The Buckaroos

“A Bunch of Twangy Guitars”
 
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Buck Owens’ track to stardom had an unorthodox start and believe it or not, his singing didn’t launch that journey as much as his guitar skills; it started when another singer needed a lead guitarist on short notice. With his second Capitol recording session looming in September, 1953, Tommy Collins, a cast member of Southern […]

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Buck Owens

Buck 'Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens/Buck 'Em! The Music of Buck Owens (1955-1967)
 
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Buck Owens never minced words. I know. I interviewed him and others in his inner circle in 1992, while annotating Rhino’s Buck Owens Collection box set. Detailing his scorn for Nashville’s music industry, he held nothing back – although he did note that time had mellowed his views. Given Music Row politics, some involved with […]

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Toby Keith

Hope On the Rocks
Show Dog
 
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Toby Keith’s previous two albums – Bullets in the Gun (2010) and Clancy’s Tavern (2011) – were two of his finest, enhanced by first-rate original material, powerful vocals, and restrained, hard-edged production. His skill at writing miniature dramas has served him well and does so again. The title song, a bartender’s thoughtful musings on the […]

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Ricky Skaggs

Kentucky Traveler: My Life In Music
 
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Born in rural Kentucky in 1954, Ricky Skaggs (named for “I Love Lucy’s” Ricky Ricardo) stands today as a supremely versatile musician. With his band Kentucky Thunder and his own record label, he focuses on the traditional bluegrass that nurtured him from boyhood on. That journey, from bluegrass child prodigy to admired young sideman to […]

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Doc Watson

1923-2012
 
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Over a career spanning 52 years, the passage of time only enhanced Doc Watson’s stature. His virtuosity and musical range, merged with an abiding sense of tradition, entertained, amazed, and moved generations of fans, players, and non-players. It ended with his death May 29 at age 89 at a hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A […]

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Pokey LaFarge

 
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Pokey LaFarge’s retro vision – rooted in bluegrass, blues, jazz, jug band, pre-World War II country (especially Jimmie Rodgers) and ’30s Western swing – was gaining attention before he played mandolin on Jack White’s Blunderbuss album. The St. Louis-based LaFarge and His South City Three opened for White on his subsequent tour. Now he’s back […]

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Alan Jackson

The Bluegrass Album
 
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When Alan Jackson announced a bluegrass album produced by Alison Krauss in 2006, the result was Like Red On A Rose. On it, Jackson sang not straight-ahead bluegrass, but the sorts of dark – and sometimes pretentious – Americana ballads that are Krauss’ specialty. It was a rare miss for Jackson. Instead of earning usual […]

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Vince Gill and Paul Franklin

Bakersfield
 
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Vince Gill emerged in the mid ’80s as part of country’s New Traditionalist movement. The style was partly built on Bakersfield’s twang-heavy honkytonk, especially the music of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Coincidentally, 2013 marks anniversaries for both. Owens, who died in ’06, had his first #1 single with “Act Naturally” in 1963; later that […]

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Vince Gill, Duane Eddy, Steve Fishell, and others

The Big E: A Salute to Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons
 
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Buddy Gene Emmons stands as one of a handful of pedal steel players who truly advanced the instrument. His innovations as the “Bud” half of Sho-Bud guitars with partner Shot Jackson are just part of it. Emmons was the first pedal steeler to explore bebop and hard bop on his groundbreaking 1963 Steel Guitar Jazz […]

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Dwight Yoakam

3 Pears
Reprise
 
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Dwight Yoakam’s 1986 Guitars, Cadillacs… etc. etc. infused Bakersfieldstyle twang into the New Traditionalist trend then sweeping a country scene weary of frothy country pop. Two years later, he revived the career of long-time hero Buck Owens with their hit duet on “Streets Of Bakersfield.” 3 Pears, his first album of new material since 2005, […]

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