Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe Shaver has never been a household name, but his songs became country standards during the ’70s and his reputation among musicians and critics hasn’t diminished during the ensuing decades.

One of the best synopses of Shaver’s upbringing is his own song, “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train.” When he sings, “my grandma’s old-age pension is the reason that I’m standing here today,” he ain’t kidding. The “good Christian raising” and “eighth grade education” — not to mention being abandoned by his parents shortly after being born, working on his uncles’ farms instead of going to high school, and losing part of his fingers during a job at a sawmill — are all part of his life story. “I got all my country learning,” he sings, “picking cotton, raising hell, and bailing hay.”

After several trips between Texas andTennessee, he appeared one day in 1968 inBobby Bare‘s Nashville office, where he convinced Bare to listen to him play. Bareended up giving him a writing job and soon his songs began to see the light thanks toKris Kristofferson (“Good Christian Soldier”),Tom T. Hall (“Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me”), Bare (“Ride Me Down Easy”), and later,the Allman Brothers (“Sweet Mama”) and Elvis Presley (“You Asked Me To”). Shaver’s real breakthrough, though, came in 1973 whenWaylon Jennings recorded an album composed almost entirely of Shaver’s songs, Honky Tonk Heroes — largely considered the first true “outlaw” album.

Shaver’s own debut album, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, was produced by Kristofferson in 1973. Along with the title track, it contained now-classic Shaver songs “Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me” and the aforementioned “Georgia on a Fast Train.” In 1978 Johnny Cash recorded “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day),” a song Shaver wrote just after he chose to give up drugs and booze and turned to God for help.

All Music Guide lists 23 albums, from 1973’s Old Five & Dimers Like Me through 2007’s Everybody’s Brother. Among his many classic songs are “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day),” “Honky Tonk Heroes,” “Georgia on a Fast Train,” “Live Forever,” “Tramp on Your Street,” and “Try and Try Again.”

In 1999, Shaver was invited to perform at theGrand Ole Opry. In 2005, Billy Joe Shaver performed on CMT Outlaws. In 2006, he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. He recently served as spiritual advisor to Texas independent gubernatorial candidateKinky Friedman and his 2007 album “Everybody’s Brother” was nominated for a GRAMMY. For his efforts, the Americana Music Association awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting.

Shaver is truly one of the most respected living figures in American music. Bob Dylan, who rarely covers other writers, has often played Billy Joe‘s “Old Five And Dimers Like Me” in concert. Johnny Cash called him “my favorite songwriter.” TheWashington Post noted, “when the country outlaws were collecting their holy writings, Billy Joe Shaver was carving out Exodus.”

The Honeycutters

The Honeycutters, an Asheville-based American Country Roots Band, Release 4th Studio Album, On The Ropes, May 20, 2016 on Organic Records

“The easy swagger of ‘On the Ropes,’ the saunter and sway of ‘Golden Child,’ the unassuming ramble of ‘The Handbook’ and the sweet serenade of ‘500 Pieces’ projects an effortless allure that remains consistently engaging throughout… obviously destined to become a heavyweight contender.”
--No Depression

“Forget Nashville, with their buzz-making brand of rock-roots-country, the Honeycutters are out to make Asheville, NC the brand new music city.” --Elmore Magazine Song Premiere: “On The Ropes”

ASHEVILLE, NC -- The Honeycutters have a voice you can’t ignore; a voice of persistence, of struggle and of hope, a voice that leads the new music movement erupting out of Asheville, NC. They released their 4th studio album On The Ropes May 20, 2016 on Organic Records. Nashville’s Music City Roots’ Craig Havighurst says principal songwriter and frontwoman, Amanda Anne Platt “has a voice that’s complex, sweet and aching. Even more potently, she writes songs that folks are citing as up there with the best of the field, such as Mary Gauthier and Lucinda Williams.” On The Ropes was produced by Amanda Anne Platt and Tim Surrett and engineered and mastered by Van Atkins at Crossroads Studios in Arden, NC.

In On The Ropes Platt continues to bring songs of heartache, yearning, and comebacks using phrases so relatable you wish you had thought of them yourself, ”Love ain't ever black and white, it's pink and gray and blue besides” (“Blue Besides”).

Platt’s writing is always personal. The title track, “On The Ropes,” is a rally song about coming back from hard knocks. “When I'm down for the count there's a voice I can't ignore,” like a continuous conversation with herself, pushing her along and encouraging her to make “something out of nothing.”

In a recent interview with David Dye of the World Cafe, Dye pointed out Platt’s string of songs with ‘love gone wrong’ themes. Her response, “Doesn’t everyone have stories of love gone wrong?” Part of Amanda’s significance as a songwriter lies in her ability to write everybody’s story and allow each listener to feel it’s theirs alone. She shares songs of love and loss, songs of struggles and fears; in “The Only Eyes” Amanda writes, “If there were an easier road that wasn't so crooked, Honey, I hope you know I would have took it.” NPR’s World Cafe, produced by XPN in Philadelphia, brought the show to Asheville’s The Grey Eagle this February for a sold out evening of entertainment including The Honeycutters in their “Sense of Place” series. Folks can listen in to The Honeycutters’ World Cafe segment at http://bit.ly/TheHoneycutters_WorldCafe.

The power of Amanda’s songwriting requires musicianship with the kind of edginess needed to match it, to cohesively surround the lyrics in just the right skin while still shining in their individual performances.

Joining Amanda Platt to round out The Honeycutters are Rick Cooper, alternating between upright and electric bass, accentuating the band’s delve deeper into a rock sound blending with their old-school country roots attitude. Along with drummer Josh Milligan the two create a powerful pocket and groove that locks the album together, with Milligan’s vocal harmonies complementing and enhancing Platt’s lead. The pedal steel work of Matt Smith brings unexpected rock licks on an instrument traditionally reserved for a classic country sound in tracks like “Blue Besides” and “Only Eyes”. Smith also shows his prowess on electric guitar with rock, and R&B flavored runs and solos like in “Golden Child”. Tal Taylor’s mandolin cuts through with bitey, bluesy notes and fierce tremolo that pushes the instrument beyond its obvious folk appeal.

On The Ropes has thirteen tracks of all original material with the exception of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” a song Amanda has been playing since before she moved to Asheville. She says, “We've had a number of people ask us to record our version, so here 'tis.”

A special vinyl edition of On the Ropes released April 12, 2016 on Vinyl Tuesday, as a featured national release for Record Store Week. It is a double album released through Organic Records®’ national distribution partner Select-O-Hits. “This here record store is Amanda Anne Platt country, and her new album On The Ropes with those masters of gritty roots-rock The Honeycutters is our new national anthem. Packed with incisive lyrics, unforgettable hooks and just the right balance between rock oomph, country heartache and singer/songwriter incisiveness, this is a must-have album is Appalachian honky-tonk with heart and guts,” writes Horizon Records out of Greenville, SC.

On The Ropes builds on the critical success of The Honeycutters breakout album Me Oh My [Organic Records 2015], which appeared on over twenty “2015 Year End Lists” including nods from No Depression, “It’s the type of country music you’d play on the jukebox and take a spin on a red dirt floor” and Cleveland Scene, “an upbeat symphony of regret, redemption and resurgence.” The album was voted #3 on WNCW’s Top 100 Listeners Poll (Under Jason Isbell and Alabama Shakes), listed in NPR’s Folk Alley’s Top 50, and was one of KBCS’s “Most Played Albums of 2015.”

In their “50 Essential Albums for 2015” list, Saving Country Music writes, "Me Oh My is the 14-song testament that you sense could be the centerpiece of her career when it’s all said and done... This is a band, an album, and a songwriter that both the Americana and country world should pay greater attention to." Me Oh My launched The Honeycutters onto the national stage, bringing along an army of fans with them. Don’t blink now, they’re coming back for more.

It has been said that overnight success is a result of long time dedication and hard work. Amanda writes, in “Golden Child,” her love letter to the music industry, “Now I don't mind if it takes a little time, when it comes to waiting I've been practicing for years.”

Song Premier: LISTEN: The Honeycutters, “Blue Besides” at The Bluegrass Situation → www.thebluegrasssituation.com/read/listen-honeycutters-blue-besides

Now available: CD, Vinyl and Digital: iTunes, Amazon, Tower Records, and Select-O-Hits

Stay tuned to www.TheHoneycutters.com, www.facebook.com/Honeycutters, and twitter.com/thehoneycutters.

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