Hillbilly Highway – Up in High Cotton over here


by Sheldon Birnie

Everyone has their guilty (or not so) music pleasures. Personally, I like to crank Bryan Adams’ Reckless if I need a jolt of energy in the morning, and a Friday does not pass without blasting Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s Stranger in Town at least once at highest volume.

Out here on the Hillbilly Highway, it’s easy to shrug off the musical powerhouse that is Alabama. After pumping out literally dozens of hit albums in the 1980s and into the 90s, there is no possible way anyone who’s ever spent any time on the Highway — or on any dirt road branching out to a field off of it — hasn’t hummed along to at least one of their tunes. With over 30 Number 1 hits on the Billboard charts, it just aint possible. More than likely you know the dang words, too.

But for many grinding it out in the dustier clubs and dirtier backwoods of today’s “alt” country or Americana world, diggin ol’ Alabama might not be such a fashionable position to take. And certainly not loud and proud, like our pal Brad Paisley.

That’s about to change, though. Or so it seems, following yesterday’s release of “High Cotton: A Tribute to Alabama.” Featuring some of the hottest, and most respected, of the Highway’s grinders, this tribute album is a pure delight. Rousing versions of Alabama’s hits from the Turnpike Troubadours, Lucero, and the Texas Bluegrass Massacre, alongside touching covers from Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, and Todd Snider & Elizabeth Cook make for a dang enjoyable ride from start to finish.

Take a listen here to the Turnpike Troubadour’s roll through “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” and try not to get right ready to rip it up. I dare ya!



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