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The Southland Music Line 2016: A Year in Music (So Far) – The Travels of The Line’s Johnny Cole

2016 so far
After a busy 2015, I decided in early 2016 to reign things in for the coming year. The 300+ shows attended in 2015 seemed far from an attainable goal or was it?

Now six months into the new year, despite bouts with illness along with two car accidents, I’m steadily moving ahead with similar numbers and the quality of music couldn’t be more outstanding.

Early 2016 Festivals:

Festivals are a huge part of what we do at The Southland Music Line, but each year we are becoming more selective.

In the month of January, I attended the 30A Songwriters Festival in northwest Florida. This annual event once again provided opportunities to see a nice selection of musicians (Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Kevin Gordon, Hayes Carll, Parker Millsap, Lilly Winwood, Beth McKee, Liz Longley, Caroline Cotter, Andrew Combs, Caroline Spence, Shovels & Rope, Willis Alan Ramsay, Deanna Carter, Grace Potter, Jim Lauderdale, Kristian Bush, Bob Schneider, and several others).

During the month of March, photographer Stephen Anderson and I returned to South By Southwest in Austin, TX for another incredible week of music. SXSX continues to be an important part of our yearly schedule. (see article) The annual Austin event is never short of great live entertainment, so our week at SXSW was stellar with performances by The Waco Brothers, Wynonna & Big Noise, John Fullbright, Parker Millsap, Jack Ingram, James McMurtry, Jonathan Tyler, Bonnie Bishop, Luke Winslow King, James McMurtry, Dylan LeBlanc, Mo Pitney, Robbie Fulks, Marlon Williams, Marcia Ball, Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, Corb Lund, Whitney Rose, The River Whyless, The Damn Quails, The Blue Water Highway Band, The Chubby Knuckle Choir and more.

The Southland Music Line returned to The New Orleans Jazz & Hertige Festival in April.
While attending one day of Jazz Fest one can’t do everything, but one can sure try. Johnny Sansone at the giant blues tent stage was a nice start. His award winning “The Lord Is Waiting and The Devil Is Too” never gets old. My group of friends and I later saw a familiar favorite Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue at the Fais-do-do Stage. Later in the afternoon at The Gentilly stage was Bobby Cure Band & the New Orleans Classic R&B Revue with Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, and more.  They were followed by Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Tab Benoit, and finally Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. The evening was topped off by the amazing Van Morrison.

Stephen Anderson also ventured off to various other stages including The Laginappe Stage to join friends to see Willie Sugarcapps.

The Line Travels North:

The Line traveled north in late March to attend several shows and memorable events including Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. The Line was also present for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Inductees included Deep Purple, Chicago, NWA, Steve Miller Band, and Cheap Trick with additional performances by Talking Heads’ David Byrne, Grace Potter, and Sheryl Crow. Other shows at various locales included Carrie Rodriguez, Cactus Flowers, Pokey Lafarge, Ry Cooder, The Roosevelts, Joe Ely, Keb’ Mo’, Paul Thorn, Ruthie Foster, Christian Lopez Band, Gerald Albright and our friends from home, The Mulligan Brothers at Gypsy Sally’s in Washington, DC.

rock hall ceremonyThe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclay’s Ctr. in Brooklyn, NY (Fri. April 8, 2016) Photo by J.C.

Special Tours, Shows and Events:

In the spring, The Jericho Road Show consisting of Rambling Steve Gardner, Libby Rae Watson, Bill Steber, and Wes Lee teamed up for a statewide tour promoting  Mississippi’s deep musical heritage as the birthplace of America’s Music. This traveling road show kicked off its tour at Duling Hall in Jackson, MS and we were happy to be in attendance. Opening for The Jericho Road Show was Oh Jeremiah.

The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm resumes shows and its Sunday afternoon socials this autumn. The Line’s Stephen Anderson and artist Robby Amonett attended several memorable shows at The Frog Pond in early 2016. I had the privilege of joining them at the Baldwin County Public Records Songwriters Showcase and the season finale with the CD release of “Paradise Right Here” by Willie Sugarcapps.

ws1Willie Sugarcapps at the The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm (Sun. April 17, 2016)

Each year Lulupalooza lives up to its expected good time. This year Stephen and I joined friends at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, AL to enjoy the music of The Mulligan Brothers and George Porter, Jr. Jimmy Buffett’s sister, Lucy Buffett, sure knows how to throw a good party!

In April, I enjoyed Record Store Day 2016 in Hattiesburg, MS at T-Bones Records, which featured The Devil Music Co., Oh Jeremiah, and Escondido (more on them later).

Prior to this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, two unplugged events showcasing some festival talent were held featuring Will Kimbrough and Sugarcane Jane at The Magnolia Listening Room in Pascagoula, MS and the following night, Lynn Drury, Cary Hudson and once again, Sugarcane Jane at The Longfellow Civic Center in Bay St. Louis, MS.

In late June, I attended AthFest 2016 and The Flagpole Athens Music Awards in Athens, GA .


House Parties:

I had the pleasure of attending some exciting private events in early 2016 which included performances by Sugarcane Jane, The Mulligan Brothers, Andrew Duhon Trio, Paul Sanchez (formerly of Cowboy Mouth) and Lynn Drury.

Mississippi Gulf Coast:

20160701-SCA_0888Sugarcane Jane’s Anthony & Savana Crawford at Jack’s by the Tracks in Pascagoula, MS (Thur. June 30, 2016)

Nestled between New Orleans and Mobile, AL, The Mississippi Gulf Coast is full of great music. Jack’s by the Tracks in Pascagoula, MS has hosted early 2016 shows by Sugarcane Jane, Johnny Sansone & John Fohl, Cary Hudson,  The Light Travelers featuring Karl Langley & John Keuler, Holli Mosley & Tim Kinsey, Cary Laine, Rick Carter & Friends, Stan Foster, Lauren Kay, Brittany Bell, Laci Wright, Jeff Notesworthy, while The Shed in Ocean Springs, MS featured Jimmy Lee Hannaford, Wes Lee, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Bonnie Whitmore, The Stolen Faces, Grace Askew and more.

The Government Street Grocery, Leo’s, Murky Waters, The Julep Room and Irish Coast Pub also hosted live music that we at The Line enjoyed in early 2016. Several musicians already mentioned frequented these locations, plus others like Young Valley, Blackwater Brass, Diggs Darcey, The Gentleman Callers, Katie Lott, Scott Chism & The Better Half and more.

Songwriter, Open Mic and Jam Session Nights are abundant along the Mississippi Gulf Coast including the Diggs Darcey & The Monday Night Band at Irish Coast Pub, Songwriters Night at The Julep Room, Andy Lee & Friends at Just One More, and Steve Warren & Friends at Murky Waters. I enjoy every opportunity I get to attend these kinds of evenings.

L.A. “Lower Alabama”:

14The Line’s Johnny Cole with Kristin Diable and The Listening Room’s Jim Pennington (Wed. May 25, 2016)

Callaghan’s in Mobile, AL and Manci’s Antique Club across the bay in Daphne both had an abundant number of spectacular shows: Great Peacock, Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds, Rayland Baxter, Robert Ellis, Shinyribs, Seth Walker Trio, Dylan LeBlanc, Andrew Duhon Trio, Chris Porter, Shonna Tucker (formerly of Drive- By Truckers), John Calvin Abney, Oh Jeremiah, Ross Newell, Joey Kneisner and Kelly Smith (of Glossary), Bunch, Motel Radio, Lisa Mills with Gram Rea, The Marlow Boys, Grayson Capps with Corky Hughes, Beverly Jo Scott with Eric Erdman, Jack Pearson, and the unforgettable Kristin Diable who inspired one of this year’s most visited articles and viewed photo collections at The Southland Music Line.

The Listening Room of Mobile, AL is dedicated to evolving into a top-notch listening room experience. It is a work in progress that musicians are lining up to be a part of. Personally, I enjoyed several such shows at Jim Pennington’s venue: Renshaw Davies, Toonces, Della Memora, Nikki Talley & Jason Sharp, Pheasants, legendary Southern Rock greatness Cowboy’s Scott Boyer and Tommy Talton with NC Thurman, local favorite Abe Partridge & The Psychedelic Peacocks, and the spectacular Kristin Diable’s premiere performance at The Listening Room.

The Merry Widow has quickly become a hot spot for live entertainment on the Gulf Coast. We attended the sold out performance from the highly popular Lucero with special guest The Underhill Family Orchestra. There is no doubt we will be attending more shows in the near furture at this sensational Mobile, AL music venue.

Some other memorable shows and events around Mobile, AL attended during the first half of 2016 were Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters at The Saenger Theatre and The Wild Feathers with Bird Dog at The Soul Kitchen.

SCA_9336The Line’s Johnny Cole with Shinyribs’ Kevin Russell and good friend Bobby Rayborn at Callaghan’s in Mobile, AL (Thur. April 21, 2016)

More Shows from Home and Abroad:

Some of the nearly 30 shows attended in May were Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band with The Steel Wheels at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans, Sister Sorrow & The Dirty Birds with guest Star & Micey at 12th & Porter in Nashville, Snarky Puppy at City Winery (also in Nashville), and Gil Landry at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA.

Other shows attended in early 2016 were Edward Sharp & The Magnetic Zeros at Cumberland Caverns “Home of Bluegrass Underground” in McMinnville, TN, John Paul White (formerly of The Civil Wars) with The Secret Sisters at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA, Mudcrutch (Tom Petty’s pre-Heartbreaker band) at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA, Peter Frampton at the IP Casino in Biloxi, MS, The Cure with guest The Twilight Sad at Aaron’s Amphitheatre in Atlanta, GA, Elf Power at Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA, John Prine along with Amanda Shires at Atlanta’s Botanical Garden, Steely Dan with special guest Steve Winwood at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta, GA, and finally Chris Isaak at The House of Blues in New Orleans.

I saw several musicians and bands a number of times in early 2016 including Oh Jeremiah, Grayson Capps with Corky Hughes, The Mulligan Brothers, Andrew Duhon, Della Memoria, Seth Walker, Sugarcane Jane, and Escondido.

ffggThe Line’s Johnny Cole with Tyler James of Escondido at Gasa Gasa in New Orleans, LA (Fri. April 15, 2016)

I have been following Escondido almost from their beginning as a band and yes, I’m a huge fan. Thankfully after a few failed 2016 attempts at attending shows up north,  I was privileged to see them again at SXSW in Austin, TX, a New Orleans show at Gasa Gasa (which also introduced me to the duo of Renshaw Davies) and Record Store Day in Mississippi. (see article)

The Southland Music Line Goes To TV:

Early in 2016, I was approached by a local TV channel to do a several 15 minute segments highlighting The Gulf Coast music scene. I asked Stefan Lawson of Coastal Noise to join me. We eventually shot a few episodes together and I continued on my own for a few more. The Line will be doing an article dedicated to our experience and I am presently in the process of putting together several half hour episodes of “Music Scene” for WKFK TV 7.

FB_IMG_1459555239102Coastal Noise’s Stefan Lawson and The Southland Music Line’s Johnny Cole at The Listening Room doing an episode of “Music Scene”.

What’s Coming Up?

The remainder of 2016 is sure to be busy and exciting. Some of the already scheduled shows: Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Larkin Poe, Lyle Lovett, Garbage, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Heart, Steve Miller Band, Cheap Trick, The Struts, Joe Walsh and more.

desert-trip-poster-2016-billboard-1548The Desert Trip 3 Day Concert Event (Oct. 7-9, 2016) Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA

In early October, a California trip to the highly anticipated three day mega-music event, “Desert Trip” featuring Paul McCartney, The Who, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones is sure to be a memorable event.

So will I make it another 300 or more shows in 2016? The number isn’t important, but the opportunities to attend some great shows is always my motivation and ultimate goal.

Along the way, time spent attending some outstanding music with friends like Stephen Anderson and Robby Amonett bring constant joy to the entire experience. I am forever grateful to them and others for the good times.

See you on the road. Safe Travels.

My Favorites List of 2016 (So Far):

(A List of 30 out of the 150 shows attended so far in 2016)
1.) Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at Madison Square Gardens in New York City (Mon. Mar. 28)
*It will likely end up at the top spot at year’s end for 10,000 reasons.

2.) Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Ctr. in Brooklyn, NY (Fri. Apr. 8)
*Standout performance: David Byrne w/ The Roots & Kimbra performing David Bowie’s “Fame”.

3.) Escondido with guest Renshaw Davies at Gasa Gasa in New Orleans (Fri. Apr. 15) *My favorite of the three times I saw Escondido so far in 2016.
4.) Sugarcane Jane, Cary Hudson & Lynn Drury “Jazz Fest Unplugged, Part 2” at The Longfellow Civic Ctr in Bay St. Louis, MS (Sat. Mar. 5 )
* One of those magical nights of music one remembers for a long time.

5.) The Jericho Road Show (Rambling Steve Gardner, Libby Rae Watson, Bill Steber and Wes Lee) at Duling Hall in Jackson, MS (Tues. Mar. 1)
6.) Kristin Diable at Callaghans in Mobile, AL (Sun. Jan. 10)
*I’ve seen Kristin several times including a second time in 2016 at The Listening Room in Mobile, AL (see later on this list).

7.) Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds at Callaghan’s in Mobile, AL (Sat. May 14)
*The amazing line up of Molly Thomas, Rick Hirsch, John Keuler & John Milham is simply hard to beat!

8.) Shinyribs at Callaghan’s in Mobile, AL (Thur. Apr. 21)
*I finally saw Shinyribs with my good friend Bobby Rayborn – A memorable night of music at Callaghans!

9.) Mudcrutch (Tom Petty) at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA (Thur. June 2)
10.) Grayson Capps, Corky Hughes, Cary Hudson & Grace Askew at the Dollar Box Showcase in Hattiesburg, MS (Sat. Jan. 2)
11. Andrew Duhon Trio at House Event in Montrose, AL (Mon. Jan. 25)
12. Chris Isaak at House of Blues in New Orleans (Tues. June 28)
13. Peter Frampton at IP Casino in Biloxi, MS (Fri. May 27)
14. Ry Cooder with Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White at Birchmere in Alexandria, VA (Thur. Apr. 2)
15. The Cure with guest The Twilight Sad at Aaron’s Amph. in Atlanta, GA (Fri. June 24)
16. Steely Dan & Steve Winwood at Chastain Park Amph. in Atlanta, GA (Sun. June 26)
17. Kristin Diable at The Listening Room in Mobile, AL (Wed. May 25)
18. John Prine with Amanda Shires at The Atlanta Botanical Garden in Atlanta, GA ( Sat. June 25)
19. Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds at Manci’s in Daphne, AL (Sun. June 5)
20. Renshaw Davies with guest Abe Partridge at The Listening Room in Mobile, AL (Sat. May 7)
21. Sugarcane Jane at Leslie’s Farm in Barnwell, AL (Sat. June 18)
22. SXSW “Twang Fest Day” at The Broken Spoke in Austin, TX (Thur. Mar. 17)
23. Oh Jeremiah (with full band) at Callaghans in Mobile, AL (Fri. May 13)
24. The Mulligan Brothers at Gypsy Sallys in Washington DC (Tues. Mar. 29)
25. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, TN “Home of Bluegrass Underground” (Mon. May 30)
26. Great Peacock at Callaghan’s in Mobile, AL (Sun. May 29)
27. Snarky Puppy at City Winery in Nashville, TN (Tues. May 17)
28. Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds with guest Star & Micey at 12th & Porter in Nashville, TN (Wed. May 18)
29. John Calvin Abney/Shonna Tucker/Chris Porter at Callaghan’s in Mobile, AL (Thur. May 26)
30. Joe Ely, Paul Thorn, and Ruthie Foster @ The Hamilton Live in Washington, DC (Fri. Apr. 1)

Honorable Mentions:
Some additional shows at SXSW and 30A, Some more shows at Callaghan’s, Manci’s, Jacks by the Tracks, Eddies Attic, The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm, The Listening Room, Georgia Theatre, Jazz Fest, Grand Magnolia, The Shed, The Merry Widow, Hamilton Live and several more.

anthony-crawford-national-treasure“National Treasure” by Anthony Crawford is one of 2016’s early favorites and a strong contender for one of the best albums of 2016 (to be posted at the end of the year).

Hard to decide what’s my favorite album so far in 2016. Some of my early 2016 favorites (in no particular order) : “National Treasure” by Anthony Crawford, “Walking with a Stranger” by Escondido (great follow up to their incredible debut), “Blackstar” by David Bowie, “A Cure for Loneliness” by Peter Wolf, “Lola” by Carrie Rodriguez (saw her in DC area), “Pop Post Depression” by Iggy Pop, “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” by Margo Price, “When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired” by Mothers (great band out of the Athens, GA music scene), “Paradise Right Here” by Willie Sugarcapps, “Fort Worth To Bakersfield” by Steve Griggs, “The Westerner” by John Doe, “Robert Ellis” by Robert Ellis (saw him at Callaghan’s prior to albums release), “Sailors Guide to Earth” by Sturgill Simpson, “A Moon Shaped Pool” by Radiohead, “Full Circle” by Loretta Lynn, “Singing Saw” by Kevin Morby, “Mudcrutch 2” by Mudcrutch (Tom Petty), “The Ghosts of Highway 20” by Lucinda Williams, “Stranger to Stranger” by Paul Simon, a surprisingly great “Good Times!” by The Monkees, “Dig in Deep” by Bonnie Raitt, “The Hope Six Demolition Project” by PJ Harvey, “Lonely is a Lifetime” by The Wild Feathers, “Going Down in History” by The Waco Brothers, “Fall Together” by Ryan Balthrop, “Detour” by Cyndi Lauper, “Cautionary Tale” by Dylan LeBlanc, and “White Trash Lipstick” by Abe Partridge (and of course, there are several to be added by year’s end.)

Related Articles:
Willie Sugarcapps Returns with “Paradise Right Here”
Escondido: From The Ghost of Escondido to Walking with a Stranger – The Nashville Duo Continues to Shine Brightly
South By Southwest 2016: The Line Returns to Austin for Another Year “Page One”
South By Southwest 2016: The Line Returns to Austin for Another Year “Page Two”
Americana in Mississippi Tour Featuring The Jericho Road Show
The Highly Anticipated Return of Kristin Diable to Callaghan’s in Mobile, AL
Baldwin County Public Records Showcases Its Talent at The Frog at Blue Moon Farm

Special Thanks to: Stephen “Andy” Anderson, Robby Amonett, Bobby Rayborn, Mark Garrison & Jack’s by the Tracks, Stefan Lawson & Coastal Noise, Jim Pennington & The Listening Room, Ben Kaufman from Irish Coast Pub & Margaritaville Casino Resort, John Thompson from Callaghan’s & Manci’s, Michael Shaffer & The Julep Room, Jim & Sandra Cole, Connie Gibbs, SPIN, Don Rooney, Glenda Campbell, Jeff & Suzanne Zimmer, Baldwin County Public Records (Ind. Music Label), Ron & Cindy Thamert, Harry Stewart, Steve & Chris Sponseller, John Boland & Michele Fiegenshue, Brice Creel, Ryan Johnson & The Merry Widow, Diggs Darcey, Steven Dale, WKFK TV 7, Jessie Scott & Sun Radio of Austin, TX, Doug & Susan Sholes, Josh & Emily Smith, Daryl Portier of Zone Music Reporter, Leslie Mulcahy, Jimmy Lee Hannaford & Keitha Bozeman, James White & The Broken Spoke in Austin, TX, Cathe Steele & The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm, Lynn Oldshue of Southern Rambler & Our Southern Souls, Gasa Gasa in New Orleans, LA, The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint, NY Independent Group of Music Journalists, Underground Music Press, Rick Hirsch, Linda M Stewart, El Mercado in Austin, TX, my friends with The Jericho Road Show, Tyler James & Jessica Maros of Escondido, Lisa Mills, Shane Rice, Colton McMillan & Techcurity, JT Nicholson, Jason Sanford, Anthony & Savana Crawford, Jeff & Patsy Cheek, Harry & Linda Brown, Fred & Bonnie Natschke, The Mulligan Brothers, Willie Sugarcapps, Patrick Mcginley, Jeremiah & Erin Strickland from Oh Jeremiah, Abe Partridge, American Independent Writers Group, and several others.

And all those musicians who so kindly gave me CDs, gifts and memorable times; venues who gave me access, merchandise and drinks; and of course, the “many” friends I attended shows with and enjoyed several wonderful evenings of music.

Above all, thank you to Lauri – my wife of almost 28 years. I love you!



© The Southland Music Line. 2016. All rights reserved

©The Southland Music Line


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  1. Reading through your list of performers and the venues you have seen them in, I was surprised NOT to see the Sundilla Concert Series in Auburn listed. I don’t get up there as often as I’d like, but whenever I do I’m not disappointed. I can’t imagine that Sundilla is new to you but if so you should definitely check them out.

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