Music News – April 2, 2020

As we come to the end of our first full week of staying home, you realize just how much you miss the freedom to come and go as we please. Americans are social people, we love to congregate. You never realize how much you miss something until you can’t do it anymore. The only silver lining in this quarantine fiasco is that Netflix released the Tiger King documentary to help us realize that there’s always someone out there with more problems than ours.


Joe Diffie Passes Away at 61 Years Old

Last Sunday we heard about country singer John Diffie passing away after he contracted COVID-19. Joe was 61 years old. I recall meeting Joe back in 1990 when he was touring to support his first album titled A Thousand Winding Roads. I attended his show to interview him for a piece I was writing for the Victoria Advocate. I remember that he was fighting a bad cold and had been on the road for almost two months. That night he sang his heart out and no one in the crowd was aware of how sick he was. Our paths crossed several times over the next decade. Every time he passed through town to do a show, I would stop by the venue for a quick pre-show interview. In 1992, just after he released his second album, he was in town for another show. I went to his tour bus for a chat and when I stepped into the front lounge area he was sitting on the couch with his guitar. He was rehearsing his newest single, Ships That Don’t Come In. I can still hear him softly singing the song, barely strumming his guitar. It was a very powerful experience and to this day one of my fondest memories of Joe and his music. If you aren’t familiar with him or his music, take the time to check out some of his songs. He had a lot of hits back in the 90’s, like Home, Pickup Man, John Deere Green and Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox. Diffie was one of the good guys in the music business and will be truly missed.


John Prine in Critical Condition

Just day after hearing about Joe Diffie, we learned that John Prine was in the hospital suffering from the virus. His wife posted on Facebook that she had it then John got it. Due to his age, he was hospitalized and eventually put on a ventilator and was in critical condition. On Monday his condition was changed to stable but not really improving. Prine is one of America’s finest songwriters, penning such hits as Paradise, Angel From Montgomery and Sam Stone. John’s career started in the early 70’s and critics immediately compared him to Bob Dylan. His songs were witty and often laced with hints of sarcasm. Good wishes poured in from all over the world, artists like Joan Baez, Radney Foster and Carolyn Wonderland sang his praises. He is easily one of the most influential songwriters of the era. Hopefully by the time you read this, he’s doing better and is on the road to recovery.


Local Venues Scramble to Reschedule Shows

In just a two week time frame, the entire music world has been turned upside down. Every live concert, tour and festival was cancelled. Many venues are being optimistic and posting concerts resuming as early as next Monday, however I think we all know that’s simply not going to happen. Logically, any show scheduled for April or May will most likely be rescheduled if it hasn’t already. At press time, the Brauntex Theatre will have its next show on June 11. Gruene Hall shows their next show will be this Saturday April 4, but chances are good that will change. Whitewater Amphitheater has their next show scheduled for May 23. I checked many other venues websites and found that they were listing live music to return on April 4 but I’m sure they will be updating their sites soon. Right now, there is no firm end in sight for our lives to return to normal, or whatever the new normal will be.




Artists Use Facebook to Entertain Their Fans

All is not gloom and doom though, there are many bright lights shining during these dark days. Starting tonight and continuing every Thursday night through June 4, Dolly Parton will be reading bedtime stories to everyone that wants to listen. Simply go to her Facebook page at 7pm EST, which would mean 6pm our time, and listen to Dolly read some of her favorite bedtime stories. Hundreds of artists are hosting live streaming concerts on their Facebook pages. Willie Nelson was one of the first with his Luck Reunion Concert broadcast from his ranch outside of Austin. A few nights after that, Gary P. Nunn used the same film crew and broadcast a live show from the Brauntex Theatre. Zack Walther moved his Walther Wednesday shows from Freiheit Country Store to Beagle’s Nest Studio so he could observe the correct social distancing. I wonder how long it will be before some new band calls themselves Social Distance? Stewart Mann used his downtime to release a new song, Sinner, Saint, SOB, with special guests Wade Bowen and Mason Lively. Pat Green is doing regular Facebook posts, singing new and old tunes for his fans. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood did a Facebook concert on Monday and so many fans tuned in, it crashed their Facebook page. CBS-TV stepped in and will be broadcasting their concerts in an effort to let more fans watch them. Neil Young is bringing out rare unreleased songs to perform for his fans, giving them a chance to hear songs they would normally never hear. Robert Earl Keen did a Facebook show last week from his home in Kerrville. Wade Bowen has been hosting Facebook concerts from his garage with guests like Cody Canada, Randy Rogers and Jack Ingram joining in. Kenny Chesney hoped on his private jet and is spending his time off sitting on the beach in the Caribbean. Rocker Sammy Hagar has been entertaining fans by doing acoustic versions of his biggest hits on his website. Todd Snider performed a one hour live show on Sunday morning from Nashville. During the acoustic set he often used the late Kent Finley’s guitar, acknowledging the impact the former owner of Cheatham Street Warehouse had on his career. If you’re like me and are missing your daily or weekly dose of live music, just go to your favorite artists website or Facebook page and see what they are doing during this unplanned hiatus. Believe me, they miss us just as much as we miss them and we are all praying that this is all over as soon as possible.

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