Archive for the Rob McNurlin Category

Notes & Links

Posted in Loretta Lynn, Rob McNurlin, The Monkees, Todd Snider, youtube on March 13, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

*** Todd Snider’s new CD, The Excitement Plan, will come your way this June from Yep Roc Records. The full scoop on the album is over at Twang Nation (scroll down), but here’s the biggest thing you need to know. The album will feature a duet with none other than Loretta Lynn. It’s safe to say that I’m excited to hear their collaboration.

*** The evolution of No Depression continues. The stalwart Americana and Alt-Country (whatever that is) magazine ceased publication in its print form a few months ago and moved to an online only format. Last week, ND launched a new, community based website that seems designed to get readers more involved in the proceedings. Users can create their own profile and use it to upload photos and videos, participate in the forums, and even contribute their own blog posts to the site. There’s also a facebook-like feature that allows you “make friends” with other users. It’s still a relatively new undertaking, but something worth keeping an eye on.

*** A bit of sad news here… Former Monkee Peter Tork was recently diagnosed with a rare form of head and neck cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. Tork underwent successful surgery last week and is now resting at home and preparing to begin radiation treatments. You should know that I hold a special affection for the music of The Monkees. Here’s hoping for a full and speedy recovery.

*** Had a comment and a couple of e-mails concerning my post on Rob McNurlin earlier this week… so I thought I’d give you another little taste of his music in this space. Here’s a youtube video of Rob with Dave Prince on guitar doing a song called “Deep Deep is the Blue.”

*** Since I already mentioned Loretta Lynn once in this post… I think I should also go ahead and mention that Saturday is Miss Loretta’s birthday. She was born in a cabin on a hill in Butcher Hollow (Holler), KY on March 14, 1934. Loretta is a hometown girl (Butcher Hollow is just outside the city limits of Paintsville, KY where I grew up) who made good. She had a ton of hits and caused more than a few controversies with her outspoken feminist lyrics in the 60’s and 70’s. Her success helped blaze the trail for every female country artist who followed. She is a Country Music Hall of Famer and truly one of the greats. Happy Birthday Loretta.

Loretta Lynn: Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) (Buy Album)
Loretta Lynn: You Ain’t Woman Enough (Buy Album)

Rob McNurlin: Rhinestoned

Posted in Rob McNurlin on March 10, 2009 by AmericanaPulse


Back in September, I told you about Rob McNurlin, a friend of mine from Ashland, KY who plays a unique blend of folk, gospel, and classic country. When I saw him in the fall, Rob gave me a copy of his new CD Rhinestoned. I’ve been meaning to post a review of it ever since, but somehow always managed to get distracted.

Well, last Friday night, Rob just happened to be passing through Knoxville and stopped by the studios of WDVX to participate in a little hoe-down with a few of The Hackensaw Boys. After the show, Rob stuck around and hung out on the air with me for a bit to play a few songs and talk about his new record. After talking with Rob on the air, I realized that I never got around to writing that review I had promised him. I figure it’s about time that I do.

Rhinestoned is a tribute to a classic country sound that has all but disappeared these days. Rob has always been a student of the classic sounds and traditions and counts Hank Williams and Johnny Cash among his biggest idols and influences. This album draws on those influences and traditions and seeks to re-introduce them to a new generation. Despite numerous nods to the past, this is not a covers collection. All the songs on the project were written by Rob McNurlin with the exception of “99 Years,” a song he co-wrote with Tom T. and Dixie Hall.

The authenticity of the sound comes from connections just like that. Tom T. Hall is one of the seminal voices of country music’s past, and his involvement only strengthens the link to the era of music Rob is immortalizing here. In addition to Hall, steel guitar master Kayton Roberts also lends his skilled hands to the proceedings. Roberts played in Hank Snow’s band for thirty years, and plays throughout this record as well. Rob plays one guitar that was once played by Charlie Collins on The Grand Ole Opry. Another guitar was strung with a set of strings that came off of one of Johnny Cash’s old stage guitars… strummed with one of Johnny Cash’s picks. The link to, and the love for, the music of the past is authentic.

As with most of Rob’s recordings, there is also a strong gospel influence on this album. “Why’s the Church Fallin’ Down” is a lament for an empty house of worship, and the people who have let it fall into a state of disrepair. “The Only Bible” reminds us that actions can often speak louder than the written word, while “On the Rock and Roll” is an alter call in a song. Rob’s gospel isn’t preachy, but it does capture the sound and soul of the church house music that so many of us grew up with on Sunday mornings in the south.

I’m going to share two songs from the album with you here today. First is “Hillbilly Blues,” a country blues number that really features Kayton Roberts on the steel guitar. Second, “For a Song,” a sparsely arranged song that relies simply on Rob and his guitar. It recounts wonderfully the life, sacrifices, and struggles of a working musician who gives up nearly everything else for his music.

You can find out more about Rob McNurlin and order his CD’s at his website. Rhinestoned is available now on Buffalo Skinner Records.

Rob McNurlin: Hillbilly Blues (Buy Album)
Rob McNurlin: For a Song (Buy Album)

My Dog & Me… On the Road

Posted in John Hiatt, Rob McNurlin, The Steeldrivers on September 30, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

The creature you see pictured above is my dog, Deacon. My wife is out of town this week… so right now it’s just my dog and me here at home.

John Hiatt: My Dog and Me (Buy Album)

This weekend, Deacon and I will hit the road to take in the glorious fall tradition that is the Kentucky Apple Festival in Paintsville, KY. The Apple Festival is your typical small town festival complete with parades, carnivals, crafts tents, food vendors, and concerts. Here, all the concerts take place on the steps of the courthouse building and are free to the public. Usually the performers have some sort of connection to the city or the region. Last year, Paintsville native Crystal Gayle was the headliner, and she brought her sister, Loretta Lynn, along as well. To my knowledge, it was Loretta’s first public performance in her hometown in my lifetime.

This year… the Friday night headliners are none other than The Steeldrivers! Songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Chris Stapleton is a Paintsville native, and I’m pretty sure this will be his very first appearance in his hometown with his new band. Chris and I were in the same graduating class in high school, and I’m sure old friends will be out in droves for the show, which could amount to a high school reunion of sorts. I’m looking forward to seeing some old classmates that I haven’t seen in a decade or more.

On top of that… The Steeldrivers could very well be The Award Winning Steeldrivers by the time they come to town. The group is nominated for three awards at this year’s International Bluegrass Music Awards (Album, Song, and Emerging Artist of the Year) that are being held Thursday in Nashville. Hopefully they will fare better there than they did at the Americana Awards (Mike Farris? I mean… I like him, but… c’mon).

Either way, I’m looking forward to a great hometown show. Here’s some live Steeldrivers music to get you in the mood. The album these songs come from is only available at live shows… the buy links will direct you to their self-titled debut.

The Steeldrivers: Peacemaker (Buy Album)

The Steeldrivers: You Put the Hurt on Me (Buy Album)

I’m also looking forward to seeing another old friend this weekend. Rob McNurlin (pictured above) is a musician from Ashland, KY who specializes in his own distinct brand of “Beatink Cowboy Country.” He’s worked with artists such as Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Jorma Koukonen, and Marty Stuart and draws influences from artists such as Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan to form a mix of folk, country, hillbilly blues, and gospel.

Rob was always a good friend of ours at Morehead State Public radio where I worked before moving to Knoxville. He could always be counted on as an in-studio guest during our fund drive weeks. I really came to love Rob’s music during those late-night, on-air jam sessions at the MSPR studios. I haven’t heard him play in a few years… and I’m really looking forward to hearing his unique voice again.

Rob McNurlin: Lotta Good Men (Buy Album)

Rob McNurlin: Best Black Western Suit (Buy Album)