Tag

Southern Music

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The Backcountry Wisdom of Lester Flatt

Oh, I can't tell the boys from the girls And friends it's really messing up my world They all wear long hair and bouncy curls And I can't tell the boys from the girls You might be inclined to think the above might originate from some clever conservative podcaster such as Matt Walsh or Michael Knowles, reflecting on the confusing…
Casey Chalk
January 5, 2023
Blog

A Southern Christmas Sampler

If you're like my family, you probably start playing Christmas music as soon as the calendar hits November 1, and you keep it on rotation through the 12 Days of Christmas in January. The classics from the Big Band and post World War II era are staples, but most are written for a distinctively Northern audience. Traditional Christian hymns also…
Brion McClanahan
December 15, 2022
BlogMedia Posts

Big Bang Blues

Tom Daniel discusses blues music, from the 2022 Abbeville Institute Summer School at Seabrook Island, SC, July 5-8, 2022 https://youtu.be/NZ9_hcxfpLw Note: The views expressed on abbevilleinstitute.org are not necessarily those of the Abbeville Institute.
Tom Daniel
September 29, 2022
Blog

Give Me That Old Time Rebellion

A while back, some of the folks at Abbeville Institute turned out a fine anthology of the greatest Southern rock melodies of the present day. Music, of course, like most everything else, changes with the times and there were other golden eras for country music that gave the listeners of their day a far different sound and put them in…
John Marquardt
September 19, 2022
Blog

Second Hand Memories

Memory is the thing with which we forget. I tend to believe that Memory lives in those deep crevices in the soft pink tissue of the brain; in the darkness of the crooked rows that look to have been dug by a plow mule with the blind staggers. A man can be going along, thinking a thought, and Memory will…
Brandon Meeks
July 28, 2022
Blog

Elvis Has Left the Building

The Baz Luhrmann Elvis movie is as good as it is frustrating. The movie might serve as a good introduction for those who don't know much about Elvis (which, sadly, is becoming most people). I say it might because it is more than likely that viewers will come away knowing more about Col. Tom Parker, Elvis' manager, than Elvis himself.…
Aaron N. Coleman
June 29, 2022
Blog

The Beer Thief

The little town of Canton, just off of I-20 in east Texas, is home to the world’s largest flea market. Thousands of booths and vendors have been selling their wares in that 400 acre field for about a century now. A man with a few dollars in his pocket can find stuff he never needed and never knew he wanted…
Brandon Meeks
March 30, 2022
Blog

The Silent Killer

I started playing the piano when I was 11. My family wasn’t musical and didn’t own a piano. So every afternoon when the bus dropped me off from school I would walk the mile from my house to my grandmother’s house. She had an old upright with so many missing bits of ivory that it looked like a snaggle-toothed kid…
Brandon Meeks
March 16, 2022
Blog

An Unlikely Prophet: Agrarianism in the Music of Jackson Browne

The flourishing of art is necessary for the preservation of any people or tradition. Over-reliance upon didactic or dialectical methods of communication is trademark of rationalism's withering grip. Artistic expression, whether in architecture, on the canvas, in prose or verse, in works of literature, or in music, possesses the ability to conjure or reinforce the values and traditions of a…
Robert Hoyle
December 6, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great?–The Balfa Brothers

In a significant departure for this series, the 9th installment of What Makes This Musician Great will focus on a band instead of one musician, and more appropriately, a band of brothers.  The Balfa Brothers were a Cajun band of real-life brothers Rodney, Dewey, Will, Harry, and Burkeman.  They learned music from their father, who was a Louisiana sharecropper, and…
Tom Daniel
September 22, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great?–Freddy Fender

Freddy Fender?  You mean that Mexican fella?  No, I mean the Southern musical pioneer from Texas who served in the U.S. Marines, and successfully merged Tejano music with Country music in the 1970’s.  Freddy Fender was the Elvis of Tejano music, and he deserves much more recognition than he ever gets. Born in San Benito, Texas in 1937 as Baldemar…
Tom Daniel
September 15, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great?–Bill Monroe

As I talk to people about American music and Southern music, I’ve noticed that many folks mistakenly assume that Bluegrass is an old genre stretching back into the hills for generations.  In fact, it’s one of the newer genres of American music, and we can trace its beginnings to one man in the 1940’s who single-handedly set all the standards…
Tom Daniel
September 8, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great?–Robert Johnson

The sixth Southern musician to be examined in this series of What Makes This Musician Great will be a bluesman that was so good he became a ghost story – Robert Johnson. The Blues is probably the most significant musical form created anywhere in the world in the 20th century, and it absolutely came straight out of the Mississippi Delta,…
Tom Daniel
August 31, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great?–Carl Perkins

In this fifth installment of the series “What Makes This Musician Great,” we will travel back to the cultural hurricane in the early days of Rockabilly music, and celebrate the innovative musical giant known as Carl Perkins. As our society moves further beyond those explosive, tumultuous days of the mid-1950’s, it’s becoming easier to lose focus on everything that was…
Tom Daniel
August 25, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great?–Maybelle Carter

When I was a kid, we had a bully in school who delighted in picking on the girls, for some reason.  No matter what they accomplished, this moron always chimed in with something like, “Not bad for a girl.”  It was definitely not intended as a compliment.  The obvious implication was that no matter what the females think they’ve achieved,…
Tom Daniel
August 18, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great?–Ray Charles

In this third installment of the series “What Makes this Musician Great,” I will try my best to explain Ray Charles, but I may already be in over my head.  Previously, I have asserted that music is something that connects you directly to the mental state of the musician, and a vital part of that path involves forming a personal…
Tom Daniel
August 11, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great?–Hank Williams

This is the second installment of the series ‘What Makes this Musician Great,” and will focus on the man from Butler County, Alabama – Hank Williams.  In this ongoing series, I explain what makes Southern musicians and their music so great and worth remembering while using non-technical language that can hopefully be understood by non-musicians, and this is the perfect…
Tom Daniel
August 4, 2021
Blog

What Makes This Musician Great? – Duane Allman

Recently, I started looking into the connections between musical preferences and personality types.  In the early and middle parts of the 20th century, there were some questionable and unfortunate attempts in the world of substance abuse treatment facilities to use an addict’s musical preferences to predict his personality type and subsequent treatment options.  They tried to correlate musical preferences such…
Tom Daniel
July 27, 2021
Blog

When Bing Crosby Sang Dixie

In past columns I have written about some classic films, some of which have been effectively banned or “cancelled” by our contemporary cultural gatekeepers. The case of the immortal Disney hit, “Song of the South,” is perhaps the most egregious. I wrote about it back in July 2019 in an essay published by The Abbeville Institute, also describing a seller who made…
Boyd Cathey
June 30, 2021
Blog

A Southern Song, A Southern Heritage–Canceled

“When we talk about the War it is our history we are talking about, it is a part of our identity.  To tell libellous lies about our ancestors is a direct attack on who we are.” —from Lies My Teacher Told Me by Clyde N. Wilson “The Story of Maryland is sad to the last degree.” —Jefferson Davis In the…
J.L. Bennett
June 14, 2021
Blog

Academy of Southern Music

My name is Tom Daniel, and I’m a happy guy.  I’m naturally optimistic, and I love talking about all the good things that come from the South.  I get discouraged when I see Southerners who keep falling into that same trap where they only want to talk about the years 1861-1865.  When there are 400 years of Southern culture to…
Tom Daniel
June 1, 2021
Blog

Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

In the early 1870s, a young pre-law student at Howard College was inspired by classmate and future wife, Mamie Friend. James Alan Bland would listen to the homesick sentiments of Mamie and her home in tidewater Virginia. During a trip to meet Ms. Friend’s family the two sat down together with pen, paper, and a banjo. Bland composed his song…
Blog

Gomer Pyle and the Music of Southern Poverty

Sometimes, you need to go halfway around the world in order to make a point, especially if the point to be made is not a simple one.  This is one of those times.  Also, it’s probably past time that I should explain the difference between a Yankee and a Northerner.  “Northerner” is a geographic term that refers to anyone not…
Tom Daniel
March 31, 2021
Blog

Cajun Music

If these were normal times, we’d all be unpacking our Mardi Gras gear right about now.  Purple, yellow, and green would be everywhere, and I would be writing about how the first (and oldest) Mardi Gras in North America was in Mobile, Alabama, and not New Orleans.  But things went a little haywire recently, and Mardi Gras got canceled.  However,…
Tom Daniel
February 16, 2021
Blog

Hillbilly Thomists

What would you give in exchange for your soul? Bluegrass greats Bill Monroe and Doc Watson asked that question in one of their most memorable live recordings. It’s also the same one posed by Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., on one of the tracks of the first album released by the Hillbilly Thomists, a bluegrass band of Dominican friars from…
Casey Chalk
February 8, 2021
Podcast

Podcast Episode 246

The Week in Review at the Abbeville Institute, Jan 25-29, 2021 Topics: Southern Tradition, Slavery, Southern History, Southern Music, Southern Culture https://soundcloud.com/the-abbeville-institute/episode-246
Brion McClanahan
January 30, 2021
Blog

Rock ‘n Roll has a Southern Accent

Rock ‘n Roll may be the most significant cultural export in American history.  There is no doubt that American culture, for good and bad, has had an enormous impact on global culture, and Rock ‘n Roll is one of our most iconic contributions.  Around the world, people don’t hear Rock ‘n Roll and think of Switzerland or Brazil or Thailand. …
Tom Daniel
January 27, 2021
Blog

Appalachian Music and the Phonograph

In the late 19th century, Romantic composers were driven by nationalism as a means to advance their art.  For example, Russian composers like Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov made their composed music sound Russian, and the only way to do this was to become immersed in Russian folk music to see what made it tick.  They studied work songs, play songs,…
Tom Daniel
December 4, 2020
Blog

How to Listen to Jazz

When you hear the word “jazz,” what type of music pops into your head?  What do you hear?  You probably hear piano, brass, saxophone, or all of the above.  But do you hear it melodious and catchy, or do you hear it jumbled and chaotic?  There’s a lot of jazz out there that’s very melodious and catchy, and extremely easy…
Tom Daniel
November 27, 2020
Blog

Hank Williams Was Their Prophet and Tradition Was Their King

The story I’m about to tell is one of the many coming from the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Hardscrabble existence was a way of life with our pioneers, and it was no different in my own bloodline. The Holts, James Simpson, and sons settled on a land grant in Newton County, Arkansas in the 1850s. They were some of the…
Travis Holt
October 21, 2020
Blog

Damn Right You Should Listen to the Blues

“The blues ain’t nothin’ but a good man feelin’ bad,” according to “Negro Blues,” penned in 1913. There’s no question about the “feelin’ bad” part. The genre is defined by its twelve-bar tune with the distinctive flatted third and seventh notes on the major scale (producing the “blue” note) coupled with lyrics of misery, injustice, and even sometimes self-loathing. One…
Casey Chalk
September 9, 2020
Blog

The Colored Sacred Harp

I have written here before about the history and mechanics of Sacred Harp singing, shape-notes, and Singing Schools.  James Kibler has delivered some truly excellent talks about Singing Billy Walker and the origins of Amazing Grace as an original tune called New Britain in Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, and I strongly urge you to listen to his presentations.  Listen…
Tom Daniel
July 29, 2020
Blog

Southern Rock for the Apocalypse, Dixie Version

The Orwellian nightmare known as 2020 continues. Not only are Confederate monuments and symbols under attack, seemingly benign references to anything Southern are now considered "racist." Real estate listings that use the term "master bedroom" are being changed because the term is a reference to slavery, as does the word "plantation." The State of Rhode Island is considering changing its…
Brion McClanahan
July 3, 2020
Blog

Southern Rock for the Apocalypse, Part VII

Ramblin’ Man - Allman Bros https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1xjl00sbao This was the biggest hit for the Allman Brothers and it led Lynyrd Skynyrd to Sweet Home Alabama. Every Southern rock outfit wanted to recreate the magic of Ramblin’ Man. The tune was written by Dickey Betts and was one of the last AB songs to feature Berry Oakley on bass. Homesick – Atlanta…
Brion McClanahan
May 29, 2020
Blog

Southern Rock for the Apocalypse, Part VI

Hot 'Lanta - Allman Brothers Band https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWSoo3bLhIc The typical standard jazz composition that would be played by Miles Davis or John Coltrane is exactly the same type of composition as “Hot ‘Lanta.”  It begins with the melody (which is repeated), moves into a section where everyone takes turns improvising (Duane Allman melts off your face), and then concludes with a…
Tom Daniel
May 15, 2020
Blog

Southern Rock for the Apocalypse, Part V

A series by Brion McClanahan, Tom Daniel, and Jeff Rogers Loan Me a Dime - Boz Scaggs Boz Scaggs rose to prominence after teaming with Steve Miller in the late 1960s on his first two albums. That led to a record contract and a date with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm section in Florence, Alabama in 1969. He knew where to…
Brion McClanahan
May 8, 2020
Blog

Southern Rock for the Apocalypse, Part IV

A list compiled by Brion McClanahan, Tom Daniel, and Jeff Rogers Good Time Feelin' - Dickey Betts Betts’s solo projects were as good (if not better) than most Allman Brothers albums post Duane Allman. “Good Time Feelin’” is a blistering blues rock tune, and this live version is better than any studio recording of Betts and Great Southern. “I can’t…
Brion McClanahan
May 1, 2020
Blog

Southern Rock for the Apocalypse, Part III

A list compiled by Brion McClanahan, Tom Daniel, and Jeff Rogers Goin' Down Slow - Duane Allman When Duane Allman died in 1971, the world lost one of the best slide guitar players in the history of recorded music. By this point, Allman had become famous as part of his Allman Brother Band, but his influence on American music began…
Brion McClanahan
April 24, 2020
Blog

Southern Rock for the Apocalypse, Part II

A list compiled by Brion McClanahan, Tom Daniel, and Jeff Rogers Blood in the Water - The Jompson Brothers Before Chris Stapleton became Grammy Award winner Chris Stapleton, he was a singer/songwriter from Kentucky who wrote several hits for other musicians and kicked around Nashville as a part of other bands, including the bluegrass outfit The Steeldrivers, a nod to…
Brion McClanahan
April 17, 2020
Blog

Southern Rock for the Apocalypse, Part I

A list compiled by Brion McClanahan, Tom Daniel, and Jeff Rogers Almost everyone in the United States is quarantined, and while many are working from home, it seems that most people have a bit more time on their hands. What should you be listening to during the COVID apocalypse? Southern music, of course, and if you are a rock fan,…
Brion McClanahan
April 10, 2020
Blog

A Southerner’s Movie Guide, Part X

12.   Southerners in the Late 19th  and Early  20th Centuries **The Yearling (1946).  This is an all-time favourite about family life on the Florida frontier and a troublesome pet deer.  Seldom noticed is that the father, Gregory Peck, is a former Confederate soldier.  The film is based on the novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.  Another fine Rawlings book about her…
Clyde Wilson
February 20, 2020
Blog

Not Just Whistling Dixie

There are few Southern hearts that still fail to skip a beat or two when a military band strikes up “Dixie,” the de facto national anthem of the Confederacy and the song that has undoubtedly become the one most closely associated with the antebellum South.  This, however, was not the case with the creator of that iconic tune, Daniel Emmett,…
John Marquardt
December 13, 2019
Blog

The Steel Woods

There’s a Southern accentWhere I come from.The young un’s call it country,And the Yankees call it dumb.                      Tom Petty, "Southern Accents" (Covered by The Steel Woods) Southern rock and "outlaw country" are experiencing a renaissance of late. Undoubtedly influenced by the rash of bubble gum pop country from Nashville, this darker and more authentic working class music speaks to Americans…
Brion McClanahan
December 11, 2019
Blog

Front Porch Braggin’ Rights

My new neighbor Ozzie, who grew up in the Bronx, thinks that the South is a place “without much culture.”  Ozzie acts as if he is an expert on the subject, even though his Southern experience has been confined to living in the D.C. suburbs for a few years before retiring out here to the Blue Ridge Mountains last year.…
Ben Jones
December 9, 2019
Blog

A Love of Place

Southerners love home. This is true of many people throughout history, but place has, in part, defined the South. The earliest settlers to what became the South championed its Utopian physical qualities: warm weather, a long growing season, bountiful plant and animal life. Bad weather, disease carrying insects, and dangerous wildlife were annoyances to be tolerated if not overcome. Southern…
Brion McClanahan
September 20, 2019
Blog

The Land of Lincoln Bans Confederate Railroad

Illinois’ Governor J.B. Pritzer has banned the Southern rock band Confederate Railroad from the Illinois State Fair because of the band’s name and Confederate flag on their logo. He said that the administration bars using resources to promote symbols of racism. Well, kiss my grits. Let’s look at the state fair’s “Land of Lincoln.” “The land of Lincoln” is the…
Paul H. Yarbrough
July 17, 2019
Blog

An Okie From Muskogee

As someone who grew up during the decade of the 1960’s, I am paying attention when I hear those on the Left talking of the events which took place 50 years ago. I was born in Dallas, Texas, but my family moved to Fairfax County, Virginia, when I was four. I lived in Northern Virginia during that decade. At the…
Timothy A. Duskin
July 8, 2019
Blog

Bluegrass and Jazz: What Do They Have in Common?

If you’ve come across some of the other things I’ve written for Abbeville, you might have been exposed to my assertion that almost all of American music is Southern music.  Therefore, an obvious answer to the question of what do Bluegrass and Jazz have in common would be geographic origin.  Yes, they definitely both come from Dixie, hallelujah.  And just…
Tom Daniel
April 24, 2019
Blog

Scotch Snaps and Southern Music

I need to tell you one story in order to tell you another. The Czechoslovakian composer Antonin Dvorak moved to the United States in 1892, and immersed himself in American music while composing his New World Symphony.  Although he was fascinated, inspired, and moved by traditional Southern folk music, Dvorak complained that he simply couldn’t tell the difference between Scottish…
Tom Daniel
March 22, 2019
Blog

Southern Music is American Music

Why do Southerners continue to fall into that trap where we only talk about the years1861-1865?  There are almost 400 years of Southern culture to talk about, yet we keep limiting ourselves to just four of them.  And it doesn’t matter how much of an expert someone becomes about Fredericksburg, Yankees will always have that same ace-in-the-hole comeback, “You lost.” But…
Tom Daniel
December 14, 2018
Blog

The King and the Fool

The King of Rock and Roll brought himself up by his bootstraps, served Uncle Sam as a soldier and before his early demise came he had made an honest fortune for himself and many others. For that, he is belittled by those who hardly knew him. “A little nod to the good old days, back when black visionaries could invent…
Paul H. Yarbrough
November 30, 2018
Blog

What Country Legend Roy Clark’s Death Symbolizes for America in 2018

The news came Thursday, November 15, that country music legend, Virginia-born Roy Clark had passed away at age 85. For those either too young to know who Clark was, or who perhaps never cottoned to “country” music, for a whole generation, for twenty-four years, he was in many ways the heart and soul of the popular country music variety television…
Boyd Cathey
November 28, 2018
Blog

End of an Era

I was saddened to hear that Phil Harris had died. I knew the man. You might say we were old friends. As a matter of fact, we first met in 1954 in Monterey, California. I was attending the Army Language School, learning Russian, and Phil was playing in the Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournament. His professional partner was Dutch Harrison, a…
Thomas Landess
August 17, 2018
Blog

The Sounds of the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia

Because we live in such a hurried time, we hear countless “noises” but have little time to appreciate actual “sounds.” Sound is a sensation that you can feel, not just something you can hear. To understand this idea, consider how some musicians have actually played concerts for the deaf, who cannot hear the music but still feel the vibrations. These…
Michael Martin
August 16, 2018
Blog

Anything Is Nice If It Come From Dixieland

In October 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dine at the executive mansion. This was an unprecedented move. No African-American had ever been asked to dine with the president, and while neither Roosevelt or his staff said much of the event, it was surely done in the spirit of reconciliation and Roosevelt's desire to be "the people's…
Brion McClanahan
August 15, 2018
Blog

The Southern Muse of Ronnie Van Zant

The 1970’s were an interesting time in the South. The 1970's were the last time Southerners could be Southern without feeling the need to apologize for, or be ironic about, their Southern identity. In fact, in the 1970's, it seemed to actually go a little beyond this. We shouldn’t push this too far, but in 1970’s America there seemed to…
Jeff Rogers
August 13, 2018
Blog

Lead Belly’s Southern Roots

Sometime around 1939, Lead Belly sang the song Daddy I’m Coming Back to You, which features the interesting lyrics: “I’m dreaming tonight of an old Southern town, the best friend I ever had...I’ve had my way, but now I’ll stay, I long for you and for home.” The song was a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, who is often considered one…
Michael Martin
August 3, 2018
Blog

The Attack on “Dixie” in Sports and Music

Sound was the first victim of the attack on southern heritage. In October 1971, the University of Georgia’s “Dixie Redcoat Marching Band”  dropped the word “Dixie” from its name and discontinued playing the song “Dixie” after the National Anthem. Many people, even to this day, will argue that “Dixie” was played and perpetuated to uphold white supremacy. But the tradition…
Michael Martin
June 22, 2018
Review Posts

Rock and Roll Civil War

When you think of America’s so-called “Civil War”, rock music may not be one of the first things that come to mind. However, as one of the most deadly wars in American history, with Missouri being the 3rd bloodiest of all the states (in terms of war-related deaths and human rights atrocities), the War Between the States continues to resonate…
Matthew Silber
June 19, 2018
Blog

The Marseillaise of the South Plays On, For Now

As the 2018 legislative session was winding down in Annapolis, the Senate passed a bill retiring the Old Line State’s Confederate call to arms, but that bill was to die in committee in the House of Delegates. So, once again, though “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” has been archived, “My Old Kentucky Home,” “updated,” “Maryland! My Maryland!”—some would say…
J.L. Bennett
April 19, 2018
Blog

30 Years From Hank Williams

This piece was originally printed in Southern Partisan magazine in 1985. Hank Williams has now been dead longer than he lived. And outside of a hundred or more fine songs, his thrity-year-old memory survives best among some of his cousins down in Georgiana, Alabama, about sixty miles south of Montgomery. Among them are Taft and Erleen Skipper (Taft’s daddy and…
Bill Koon
March 28, 2018
Blog

Sacred Harp Singing

If I was forced to give an example of at least one good thing we got out of the Puritans, I would quickly point to Sacred Harp singing.  Sacred Harp is a traditional, primitive method of church singing still favored in the Deep South, and it even comes complete with several different annual conventions.  Brion McClanahan and others have written…
Tom Daniel
March 12, 2018
Blog

In the Eye of the Beholder

Once upon a time in America, in a far different and far more gentle age, it was possible for four young men from Memphis, Tennessee, to appear at a performance in a Northern city dressed as Confederate officers and sing a song entitled “Save Your Confederate Money Boys, the South Shall Rise Again” without being booed off the stage. Not…
John Marquardt
February 5, 2018
Review Posts

Hank Williams and the Elusive Redneck

A review of George William Koon, Hank Williams: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press, 1983. Like it or not, the most lasting symbol of the South is the Redneck. My eight-year-old son thinks General Lee is a car; many of my students don't know in what century the War Between the States was fought, although they are quick to tell me that…
Warren Leamon
May 30, 2017
Blog

The Sense of “Southernizing”

For as long as people have been writing about Southern character—and that's getting to be a pretty long time now—they've been inclined to mention Southern individualism. From Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Mar­quis de Chastellux to Charlie Daniels' "Long-haired Coun­try Boy," Southerners have been inclined to mention or exemplify this trait themselves. W.J. Cash has probably discussed it most thoroughly,…
John Shelton Reed
March 3, 2017
Blog

Charlie Daniels and the CDB

Charlie Daniels turns 80 today. He is still producing top quality music and is still an iconic symbol of the South and the Southern musical tradition. Most people are familiar with his hits--"The South's Gonna Do It Again," "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," and "Long Haired Country Boy"--but these tunes are a conspicuous though minimal part of a career that spans five…
Brion McClanahan
October 28, 2016
Blog

Deep Down in the South

The late 1970s represented the heyday of popular Southern music. Southern rock and "outlaw country" dominated the airwaves. It was chic to say "ya'll," even in Boston, and with the election of Jimmy Carter, it really seemed the "South was gonna' do it again." It wouldn't last. During an interview at Capricorn Studios in Macon, GA one afternoon, Charlie Daniels spit into his cup and…
Brion McClanahan
September 16, 2016
Blog

Southern Family

What makes the South, the South?  Most modern Americans would say football and grits sprinkled with a bit of country music and NASCAR. These clichés hold true for many Southerners today, but what made the South before the commercialization of the American economy was a commitment to land, family, and God.  It was both a temporal and a spiritual understanding…
Brion McClanahan
May 23, 2016
Blog

American Music Is Southern Music

“American Idol,” a reality-based music singing competition on the Fox Network, has come to an end, and Yankees everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief, as their long, national nightmare is finally over.  Yankees haven’t been whipped this badly since Fredericksburg, and it’s a miracle they allowed the American Idol carnage to continue on as long as it did.  All…
Tom Daniel
April 11, 2016
Blog

A Rural Southern Easter

Benjamin Franklin White, born 1800 in South Carolina, was a Southern music pioneer. His collection of hymns titled The Sacred Harp, published in 1844, was based on shape note singing and became the standard hymnal in the South. Shape note music first appeared in 1801 and quickly spread through the rural Southern congregationalist communities. The music is performed a cappella…
Brion McClanahan
March 25, 2016
Blog

Stapleton

Chris Stapleton is now a household name.  This should have happened a long time ago.  After cleaning up at the Country Music Awards, Stapleton showcased his outstanding voice in a duet with Justin Timberlake.  He stole the show, both in hardware and in talent. In no time, his debut country music album, Traveller, rocketed up the charts.  As I write…
Brion McClanahan
November 27, 2015
Blog

Modern Bards and Traditional Songs

Southern contributions to American music are so abundant that they can be considered as the bedrock of most all music as we know it today. From Appalachian hill music, Gospel and Blues (both Country and Urban), was birthed Country, Rockabilly, Pop, Motown, Rock and Roll and Southern Rock. All great American music has its roots in the Southern tradition. But,…
Carl Jones
March 24, 2015
Blog

Travis Tritt Flies His Red Flag

Country music singer Travis Tritt recently tweeted a controversial comment in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. The tweet was in support of gun owners but at the same time took an implicit swipe at Muslims and the liberal media. The tweet has generated the predictable outrage, but also a lot of supportive replies. It is interesting that we…
Dan E. Phillips
January 16, 2015
Blog

It’s In The Mud

I have written before here at Abbeville about the legendary music that came out of the Muscle Shoals area in the 60’s and 70’s, and that was before I’d seen the excellent new 2013 documentary film called Muscle Shoals. The film centers mostly on Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios, and his influence on everything that happened locally and…
Tom Daniel
November 26, 2014
Review Posts

Twenty Million Gone: The Southern Diaspora, 1900—1970

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yKesnaFYUw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DkcQ09h2Vo That is Bobby Bare on Detroit and Dwight Yoakam on Los Angeles. Sometimes there are significant movements in history that go unnoticed because they take place slowly over a long period of time and are marked by no major event. The Southern Diaspora of the 20th century is such a movement. Twelve million white and eight million black…
Clyde Wilson
November 10, 2014
Blog

Best “Unknown” Southern Rock Tunes

Part I of a Two Part Series A few months ago, Tommy Daniel and I posted two pieces on the Best Southern Rock Bands and the Best Southern Rock Albums. Most casual Southern music lovers have heard of the "big six" Southern rock bands--Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers Band, the Charlie Daniels Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, Blackfoot, and Molly…
Brion McClanahan
September 16, 2014
Blog

The Beatles vs Alabama

On April 4, 1964, The Beatles achieved American chart success that will almost certainly never be duplicated. Only 15 artists have ever held on to the #1 and #2 spots in the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, but that week, The Beatles topped everybody by holding on to #1, #2, and #3 all at the same time. But…
Tom Daniel
July 7, 2014
Blog

Whistlin’ Dixie Loud Enough to Brag

Many music fans believe Southern rock died in 1977 when Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed in the Mississippi woods. Certainly, there were Southern bands that had some commercial success afterward—Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Jr.—but the Southern sound quickly disappeared from mainstream rock music and was replaced by the pop-driven scene out of Los Angeles and New York.…
Brion McClanahan
May 30, 2014
Blog

Whistlin’ Dixie Loud Enough to Brag

Many music fans believe Southern rock died in 1977 when Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed in the Mississippi woods. Certainly, there were Southern bands that had some commercial success afterward—Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Jr.—but the Southern sound quickly disappeared from mainstream rock music and was replaced by the pop-driven scene out of Los Angeles and New York.…
Brion McClanahan
May 30, 2014
Blog

A Little Banjo Pickin’

Excerpted from “The Banjo Entertainers, Roots to Ragtime, A Banjo History,” by Lowell H. Schreyer, Minnesota Heritage Publishing, 2007, pages 5-36. The James River valley of Virginia was a locale of banjo activity in the early 1800s. That river led to the city of Lynchburg. Only 25 miles away was the Clover Hill community in Buckingham County, part of which…
Lowell H. Schreyer
May 21, 2014
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A Little Banjo Pickin’

Excerpted from “The Banjo Entertainers, Roots to Ragtime, A Banjo History,” by Lowell H. Schreyer, Minnesota Heritage Publishing, 2007, pages 5-36. The James River valley of Virginia was a locale of banjo activity in the early 1800s. That river led to the city of Lynchburg. Only 25 miles away was the Clover Hill community in Buckingham County, part of which…
Lowell H. Schreyer
May 21, 2014
Blog

The Lyrics or Melody in Southern Music?

About ten years ago, one of my colleagues suggested to me that Americans listen to music differently than people from around the globe. According to his way of thinking, Americans favor lyrics and beat exclusively to all other aspects of music, and ignore things like harmonic structure (what some people might call chord changes), melody, dynamics, instrumentation, song-form structure (verses,…
Tom Daniel
May 19, 2014
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The Lyrics or Melody in Southern Music?

About ten years ago, one of my colleagues suggested to me that Americans listen to music differently than people from around the globe. According to his way of thinking, Americans favor lyrics and beat exclusively to all other aspects of music, and ignore things like harmonic structure (what some people might call chord changes), melody, dynamics, instrumentation, song-form structure (verses,…
Tom Daniel
May 19, 2014
Blog

American Idol

We Southerners know a little bit about music. “American Idol,” for those who haven’t watched, is a reality-based music singing competition on the Fox Network. The very nature of what anybody would call “American music” is the definition of a blending of diverse American sub-cultures into one representative “sound,” and that alone is the definition of growing up Southern. The…
Tom Daniel
April 8, 2014