Today would have been Waylon Jennings’ 84th birthday. The singer personified the outlaw country genre in the 70s, but Jennings had been performing since the 50s. He achieved his stardom by rejecting the Nashville sound of the day, choosing to perform in a stripped down honky-tonk style that rejected the use of legions of session musicians. His stance as an anti-Nashville artist drew others, including Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson and the outlaw country movement was born.
Born in Texas, Jennings began performing as a twelve year old. Quitting school at fourteen, he moved to Lubbock and took a job as a radio DJ, where he met Buddy Holly. Holly mentored Jennings on guitar and produced his first single in 1958. Jennings came on with the Crickets as temporary bass player on their last tour and was also scheduled to fly on the plane ride that ended in Holly’s tragic death in early 1959, but he gave up his seat at the last minute to the Big Bopper, who was suffering from a cold.
Early in his career, Jennings signed to A&M Records, making for an odd pairing with Herb Alpert, who wanted Jennings to be a pop musician. Waylons’ insistence on pure country put an end to that record deal.Moving to Nashville, Jennings moved in with Johnny Cash, and by the early 70s was recording songs written by Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver.
His 1976 album Wanted: The Outlaws was a collaboration that defined outlaw country to a wider audience, and for the following six years Jennings was a fixture in the country charts. Drug abuse and the decline of interest in outlaw country slowed his career – but he quit drugs and returned with the supergroup The Highwaymen to record several hits through the late 80s and early 90s.
While his sales declined over his later years, Waylon Jennings remained a popular musician thanks to his pioneering work in the 70s. He died of complications from diabetes in 2001.
Jon Batiste is another successful musical talent educated at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, he graduated (along with classmate Trombone Shorty) in 2004. Only a year later Batiste released his first album, Times in New Orleans as a seventeen year old..
Moving to New York, Batiste studied at the Juilliard School and began performing in the city. He released a second live album in 2005 based on those early shows. Diversifying his sound, Batiste formed Jon Batiste & Stay Human, playing impromptu outdoor concerts mixing jazz, R&B, gospel and pop. The group released their first full length album in 2013 which topped the jazz charts.
Jon Batiste & Stay Human was selected as the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert a position they have filled since the show’s debut in 2015, Displaying his versatility, Batiste has performed in the Check Berry and Fats Domino tribute on the Grammy awards show, toured with the Dap-Kings and won a Grammy nomination.
Batiste has been active as a composer, working with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to score the 2020 movie Soul. They won both the Academy and the Golden Globe Awards that year. With the Oscar win, Batiste became only the second black composer to win the award, after Herbie Hancock in 1987.
Artist – Album – Title – Release Year
Daniel Crabtree – The Way I See It – On the Run – 2021
Brock Gonyea – Where My Heart Is – My World Turns to Silver – 2021
James Hand – Shadow On The Ground – Just a Heart – 2010
Catherine Britt – Home Truths – Fav’Rit Song – 2021
Bill and The Belles – Happy Again – Sobbin the Blues – 2021
The Shootouts – Bullseye – Here Come the Blues – 2021
Steve Earle – J.T. – They Killed John Henry – 2021
Vivian Leva – Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno – Leaving on Our Minds – 2021
Geoffrey Miller – All Night Honky Tonk Man – The Stars are Talkin’ – 2021
Jimmy Dale Richardson – 58 Buick / She’s Wild – 58 Buick – 2021
Vincent Neal Emerson – Fried Chicken & Evil Women – Willie Nelson’s Wall – 2021
Shannon McNally – The Waylon Sessions – Out Among the Stars – 2021
Tony Joe White – Homemade Ice Cream – Saturday Night in Oak Grove, Louisiana – 1973
Sara Petite – Rare Bird – Medicine Man – 2021
Dallas Moore – The Rain – Every Night I Burn Another Honky Tonk Down – 2021
Rodney Crowell – Triage – Something Has to Change – 2021
Los Lobos – Native Sons – Sail On Sailor – 2021
Air Date: 6/12/21, Saturday 6-8 PM
Dating back to 1986, Widespread Panic cultivated a dedicated audience for their jazz and blues influenced Southern rock by constantly touring. The group holds the record for the most sold out shows at Red Rocks in Colorado with 60.Typically the band will play multiple nights at a venue with each show consisting of two sets of largely unscripted improvisational music.
John Bell and Michael Houser met in 1981 at the University of Georgia and began playing as a duo. In 1984 the pair added bassist Dave Schools and in 1986 childhood friend Todd Nance joined as drummer with the group making their first appearance as Widespread Panic. By 1992 the band had reconfigured and began a nationwide tour and in 1993 had their first national record release.
Widespread Panic had their most active years in the late 90s and early 2000s. A free CD release party in Athens drew a crowd of more than 80,000 and the band headlined two nights at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. In 2002 the group lost founding guitarist Michael Houser to pancreatic cancer. A second founder, drummer Todd Nance passed away in 2020.
While the band does not tour as extensively as in earlier years, they do have many dates scheduled for this year. They also have released a steady stream of concert recordings taken from their decades of live shows.
What does southern rock sound like in the 21st century? Thanks to Blackberry Smoke, it sounds a lot like it did in the 20th century as the band has stuck to the formula pioneered by the Allman Brothers , Lynyrd Skynyrd and others to create a sound steeped in hard rock, blues and country.
The band members met playing in various bars around Atlanta and formed the group in 2001. Unable to choose a name, the band took the advice of Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes who suggested “Blackberry Smoke” – for no reason other than it wasn’t used by anyone else.
After recording their first album in 2003, the band went on the road to tour, and that consumed the next five years of the group’s life.
Blackberry Smoke had a breakthrough in 2012 with their third album
Whippoorwill. It appeared on both the rock and country charts and laid a foundation for their successful career touring and recording.
Today they have two number one country albums to their credit and have firmly established themselves as a modern version of what a good old 70s southern rock band would sound like in concert.
This years’ You Hear Georgia celebrates the bands twentieth anniversary with a love song to their home state, produced by Georgia native Dave Cobb. Two additional touring musicians appear on the album and have been fully integrated into the band bringing them to seven members, and Warren Haynes also appears on the album and shares songwriting credit on some of the tracks.
The Sierra Club is one of the first and largest environmental organizations in the world. On Wednesday, July 14th, at 7 p.m., The Piedmont Group, Sierra Club is hosting a virtual screening of the video Seeding Change: The Power of Conscious Commerce. Seeding Change is about “triple bottom line” businesses that consider the social, environmental and financial impacts of their companies and address some of today’s most challenging issues. There will be a round table discussion about conscious commerce with local business owners at the end of the video.
You can find more information here: sierraclub.org/virginia/piedmont