Cosmic Honky Tonk Revue: Chuck Mead, Jim Lauderdale, Jason Ringenberg
About Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys
Chuck Mead is a Country singer with a rock n roll heart. He’s also a renowned songwriter, producer, music director, musicologist and architect behind the rebirth of Lower Broadway and the Global Neo Traditional Country music movement.
This Kansas native, has been at the forefront of what has come to be known as Americana Music for the better part of 25 years. Perhaps best known for co-founding the famed ‘90s Alternative Country quintet, BR5-49, whos 7 albums garnered a CMA Award for Best International Touring Act and three Grammy nominations, helped build an indelible bridge between authentic American Roots music and millions of fans worldwide.
Since then he’s toured the globe, entertained thousands on the high seas, released 3 solo albums, made 137 appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, co-produced critically acclaimed tribute albums to Johnny Cash & Waylon Jennings, acted as Musical Director/Supervisor/Producer of the Broadway hit musical Million Dollar Quartet AND the companion CMT television show Sun Records.
With a deep connection to Memphis and a burning desire to keep building musical bridges, Chuck packed up the band and took time out of his crazy schedule last summer to record his fourth solo album with Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price/John Prine/Jason Isbell/Al Green) at legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studios, the result of which, ‘Close To Home’, is scheduled for release June 28, 2019 on Plowboy Records.
Jim Lauderdale is a 2-time Grammy winning Americana icon, a singer-songwriter whose unmistakable rhinestone-incrusted silhouette has been a symbol for creative integrity and prolificacy for thirty-one albums over decades of recording. He’s an A-list Nashville songwriter whose songs have ruled the country charts while recording an eclectic catalogue of albums that run the gamut of American roots styles. His prolific streak of releases continues in 2019 with his new album ‘From Another World’.
From the start of his career, Jim Lauderdale has been creating his own musical world. Too expansive, eclectic and creatively curious to fit into any prescribed genre boxes, he innovated what is now called Americana music, long before there was a term for it. Everything about the man and his music is classic and timeless, but he’s a total original. The McCartney-esque melodies sung in his aching high lonesome tenor, the fiercely authentic bluegrass songs with mind-expanding psychedelic lyrics… nothing about Jim’s music can be reduced to a single influence, and no other songwriter would fuse these classic strains of tune-craft into such unexpected but immediately satisfying combinations.
“A long time ago, I decided that with each record, I would ignore the categories people tried to put me into and just make the music that was in my heart,” Lauderdale explains. “This album is about the search for connection, love and understanding between people, about finding empathy in a world where it feels like folks are more and more at loggerheads. When the world outside your window feels too tough to bear, I hope you’ll step into the world we’ve created here.”
It’s no wonder that artists from Willie Nelson to John Oates line up to collaborate with Jim, hoping to snare some of that Lauderdale magic. After all, his songs have helped sell millions of albums for artists like George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Loveless, Lee Ann Womack, Blake Shelton, Solomon Burke, Gary Allan and Vince Gill. Classic songs like ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’, ‘You Don’t Seem to Miss Me’, ‘Hole in My Head’, ‘Halfway Down’, ‘We Really Shouldn’t Be Doing This’ and many more have come from his pen.
Jason Ringenberg was born and raised on an Illinois hog farm that bordered the Rock Island Line Railroad. When he left for Nashville on 4th July 4, 1981, to pursue his dream of “making a band that could kick American roots music into the modern age!” little did he know just how far that kick would go. He immediately formed Jason & The Scorchers and never looked back. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s they tore up venues across the planet and became known as one of the most exciting live bands of their era. On classic LPs like Fervor and Lost and Found they “singlehandedly rewrote the history of rock ‘n roll in the South” (Rolling Stone.) Their instinctive ability to combine traditional country music with high-energy punk rock has not been surpassed to this day. In 2008 they were awarded the Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance.
Never one to rest on his laurels, in 1999 the “Godfather of Americana” (Mojo) went solo. To date, he has released five Jason Ringenberg solo albums, with everyone from the BBC to USA Today lauding his songwriting. His high octane one-man show prompted The Times (UK) to call him “one of the most exciting performers of his generation.” In 2002 he created a children’s music character called Farmer Jason, winning numerous awards including an Emmy for his PBS video program It’s A Farmer Jason. Often, this relentless barnstormer will perform a Farmer Jason kids show in the daytime and a Jason Ringenberg concert at night in the same city.
His latest album Stand Tall was written whilst participating in the Artist in Residence Program for the National Park Service at Sequoia National Park. It is not hard to imagine him writing songs whilst climbing a 10000 foot Sierra Nevada mountain! That restless spirit will not be stilled.