Hillbilly Highway – Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, & the Renegades of Nashville


This latest retrospective on Nashville’s “outlaw” years, Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, & the Renegades of Nashville attempts to cram over a decade of history and a half-dozen or so storylines into a concise, readable 230-odd pages. For the most part, Michael Streissguth does a decent job of it, and occasionally even admirable one. However, there are plenty of instances where connections seem forced, and the same territory feels tired and worn out.  Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, & the Renegades of Nashville”

Ridley Bent :: Wild Card up his sleeve


by Sheldon Birnie

“I’m a little card player,” Ridley Bent says with a laugh. “ I wouldn’t consider myself a very good card player or a gambler at all. But my characters are.”

With two critically acclaimed full length records under his silver buckled belt, and an underground hick-hop classic in his back pocket, Ridley Bent is preparing to release his third country record, Wild Card, in January. Bent’s albums are full of toe-tapping tales of gamblers, drifters, hard working, hard boozing, hard rocking characters, and his latest is no exception. Continue reading “Ridley Bent :: Wild Card up his sleeve”

Hillbilly Highway – RIP Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger 1980  photo by David Landy / Winnipeg Free Press
Pete Seeger 1980
photo by David Landy / Winnipeg Free Press

Pete Seeger died early Monday morning at the age of 94. A tireless crusader for social justice, and an inspiration to countless musicians and social activists, Seeger will be missed and mourned by many. His positive attitude and ceaseless struggle against oppression in all forms, and his commitment to folk music will be remembered for years. Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – RIP Pete Seeger”

Hillbilly Highway – Zachary Lucky stops by for Big Fun!

photo by Christina Bourne
photo by Christina Bourne

by Sheldon Birnie

Zachary Lucky is a Saskatoon based singer-songwriter whose drive to create beautiful folk and country gems is rivalled only by his relentless commitment to the Highway. With 2012’s Saskatchewan followed quickly with 2013’s The Ballad of Losing You, Lucky released as solid a one-two punch as we’ve seen in recent years out here on the Highway. The former, a brooding folk portrait of the province Lucky calls home; the latter, a touching country ballad in the tradition of Hank Snow, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt. Lucky took a few minutes to chat with Stylus before hitting the road on his latest adventure, which will see him stop in Winnipeg on Friday for an afternoon at Big Fun, before heading back West, down into the USA, and overseas later this spring. Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Zachary Lucky stops by for Big Fun!”

Hillbilly Highway – Fred Eaglesmith, charting his own course & taking no prisoners


by Sheldon Birnie

Prolific. Tireless. Uncompromising. Cantankerous. These and many more words could, and have, been used to describe Fred Eaglesmith, one of Canada’s finest songwriters and bluntly honest performing musicians alive today. For over thirty years now, Eaglesmith has been charting his own course in the Music Business. Fiercely independent and uncompromising in his artistic and commercial vision, Eaglesmith’s name is revered by songwriters and folk music fans, and simultaneously “cussed” by many in the Business. From his genre defining albums Things is Changing, Drive-In Movies, and Lipstick, Lies, & Gasoline to experiments in style like Dusty, Tinderbox, and Cha Cha Cha, Eaglesmith’s writing is always finely honed, throwing a light on the heartaches that fester behind small town diner counters, in dark corners of collapsing barns, and on the backroads, freeways, and Interstates of North America. 

It’s no secret that Eaglesmith is held in high regard here on Hillbilly Highway, not just by myself, but among many of the artists I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with on my own travels. From Todd Snider to Andrew Neville, Hayes Carll to the Reverend Rambler, Eaglesmith’s reputation as an artist is held in the highest esteem. And now, as he prepares yet another tour, in a cycle of seemingly endless touring, to promote his latest album, Tambourine, Fred took some time out to speak with us here at Stylus about charting his own course in the Business. He takes no prisoners. While we in Winnipeg might have to wait a while yet before his next appearance, he provides us here, and on Tambourine especially, with plenty to chew on and ponder until then. 

Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Fred Eaglesmith, charting his own course & taking no prisoners”

Hillbilly Highway – Greg Rekus releases Punkoustic, continues to relentlessly tour Earth


by Sheldon Birnie

It would come as some surprise to me if you, as a Winnipegger, haven’t heard of Greg Rekus at this point. Do you walk around the city with your eyes on the ground, never once looking at any of the posters taped and pealing from light poles? Did you not spend your youth at all ages punk shows, where Greg’s old band, High Five Drive, inevitably made up some part of the bill, if not the headliners? Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Greg Rekus releases Punkoustic, continues to relentlessly tour Earth”