Reflecting on 2014 in country music and other matters

Hank 3 – By Jessica Blankenship
I honestly cannot believe that it is towards the end of 2014.  It has been a good year to say the least, both professionally and personally.  I have slowed down when it comes to going to concerts (I was use to going to over 40).  I was chair of the Cruisin’ On Main car show here in London, Kentucky, my hometown.  That was quite an adventure, but a fun one.  I also ended up with several trips to Nashville this year for various reasons.  I joked and said that I should take up songwriting or something while I’m down there.

Some of my personal highlights of 2014 include:

  • Interviewing Marty Stuart over his country music historical collection.  I even joked and asked him how does he maintain such wonderful hair.  Read that interview here.
  • Seeing Sturgill Simpson captivate a room of less than 30 people at the Zanzabar in Louisville in April.  Read my recap here. It wouldn’t be a month later that he is up on stage at major festivals, garnering attention of critics and music fans who proclaim that he is what country music needs.  There isn’t a late night tv show that he hasn’t played on (I think – need to check).  It was neat getting to talk to him as I lived in Versailles and we had several mutual friends.
  • Sitting on the front row of the Ryman Auditorium during the Grand Ole Opry.  I’ve sat at the Grand Ole Opry House many times for the Opry.  I have been to the Ryman for other shows, but never for the Opry.  My favorite vocal group, the Oak Ridge Boys, played that night, along with Chris Janson and Lynn Anderson.  What a memorable night.
  • Speaking of the Oak Ridge Boys – what a complete honor for them to mention me and my writing during their performance at Renfro Valley.  They also took the time to recognize my pal, John Herndon and his mother who was in attendance.  Go see the Oak Ridge Boys – they are WONDERFUL to see live.
  • Bucket List item fulfilled – interview Hank 3.  It was one of those conversations that I had to pinch myself.  We talked over the phone for an hour and then later on, I got to meet him at his concert at Mercury Ballroom in Louisville.  Hands down, the most humble performer in the music industry and one of the nicest.  His 4 hour concert is for the pure music fan that likes country and rock.
  • Being invited back to do red carpet coverage of the Unbridled Eve Derby Eve Party
  • Meeting Loretta Lynn at the Loretta Lynn Ranch. Read about that here.
  • Attending the WSM 89th Birthday Bash at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Seeing my friend Craig Wayne Boyd on The Voice.  He has worked for many years for success and there are a lot of folks behind him no matter what happens.
Sadly, there were several that we lost in the music industry.  One of those was my friend, James Alan Shelton, who passed away from cancer.  He was a sideman for Ralph Stanley, as well as helped manage Ralph’s stuff.  I met him over a decade ago as I was a college student doing research on Ralph.  We stayed in touch over the years.  He is definitely missed.

Last week, I posted an article on Examiner about the success of country music from Kentucky.  Be sure to check out that article here. 

It will be interesting to see what 2015 will bring.  I look forward to it. Stay tune for more adventures out on the road.  Many thanks for your support.  Be sure to “like” my page over at Facebook for more Kentucky music history facts and links.