Nashville Scene: David Olney is still a contender. Can you say the same?The late Townes Van Zandt was the best songwriter in the whole wide world, Steve Earle said in an oft-cited quote, “and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” Seventeen years after Van Zandt’s death, the Americana artists who followed in his wake still speak of him the way rockers invoke John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix — as a standard bearer who represents a pinnacle of credibility and craft.

Had he been the coffee-table orating type, however, whose name would Van Zandt have declared?

“Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say Mozart, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bob Dylan, and Dave Olney,” Van Zandt wrote. “Dave Olney is one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard — and that’s true. I mean that from my heart.”

Published August 21, 2014

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Americana music infuses The Nashville Shakespeare Festival‘s 27th Annual Shakespeare in the Park production. Directed by Denice Hicks, As You Like It features songwriting legend David Olney in the role of Amiens, playing his own original songs written for the show. Music director Stan Lawrence leads an authentic old time jam band with players from the Musical Heritage Center in Pegram Tennessee. Inspired by the optimistic comedies of the 1930s, and set during the Great Depression, costumed ushers will invite the audience to join the actors in our version of a “Hooverville”, where even in the toughest times, songs are sung, stories are told and there’s always time for a little buck dancing.

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By William Shakespeare Directed by Denice Hicks Original Music by David Olney & Stan Lawrence Cast List August 14 – September 14, 2014 Thursdays through Sundays and Labor Day Monday at Centennial Park Bandshell $10 Suggested Donation Food & drink vendors open at 6:00pm Preshow entertainment begins at 6:30 p.m. Performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Americana music infuses The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s 27th Annual Shakespeare in the Park production. Directed by Denice Hicks, As You Like It features songwriting legend David Olney in the role of Amiens, playing his own original songs written for the show. Music director Stan Lawrence leads an authentic old time jam band with players from the Musical Heritage Center in Pegram Tennessee. Inspired by the optimistic comedies of the 1930s, and set during the Great Depression, costumed ushers will invite the audience to join the actors in our version of a “Hooverville”, where even in the toughest times, songs are sung, stories are told and there’s always time for a little buck dancing.

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Music City Roots 8/6/14 at 7pm CT Featuring:

Hosted by Jim Lauderdale
Purchase Tickets

Watch the webcast
Live at 7 pm CT on:
Watch Music City Roots Live From The Factory on LivestreamPosted  FLAMES, OLD AND NEW 
 & filed under Blog.

Music City Roots Live From The Factory!Most of the band leaders who play Roots and who ply the highways and byways of the Americana scene are singer/songwriters who may or may not have extra flair as an instrumentalist. But Michael Cleveland is so powerful and so seductive on his fiddle that he’s got enough firepower to lead Flamekeeper as a picker first. The extremely talented Josh Richards does most of the lead singing in the band and on its new album On Down The Line. But it’s Cleveland’s beacon-like passion for hard-edged, traditional bluegrass music that makes Flamekeeper a must-see act.

One week after a night dedicated to the legacy of Nashville soul, R&B and gospel, we return to our regularly scheduled eclectic Americana, including Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper debuting the new CD just a day before a big release show at the world famous Station Inn. We’ll also welcome back two of our favorite songwriters – Susan Werner and David Olney – as they prepare for big leaps into the world of theater. And Michaela Anne, a newcomer to our stage but not esteemed stages of roots music, will show us the country sound she developed in Brooklyn before her very recent move to Music City.

The first time I saw Michael Cleveland (back around 2000 with Rhonda Vincent) was one of those revelatory moments you get in bluegrass. He was too young to be so good. He was uncannily original in a musical niche with plenty of models and relatively narrow parameters. And then there was the fact that he was blind and had obviously not had a predictable or easy path up the bluegrass mountain. Yet here he is in 2014 with nine Fiddle Player of the Year awards from the IBMA. But then he was spotted early on as prodigy destined for something great. He was part of an early version of the Bluegrass Youth All Stars and he was invited to play on the Opry with Alison Krauss. He was called on by legends like J.D. Crowe to join him on stages and records. He became a band leader in 2006, and ever since he’s thrived.

The new album, Flamekeeper’s first for Compass Records, kicks off with the kind of high, fast hair-curler you’d think came from the pen of one of the legends. But that double take you did is because “Too Late For Goodbyes” is a Julian Lennon hit from 1984, bluegrassified at the suggestion of Josh Richards. But if Cleveland dips his toe into McCoury-esque rock covers with that one, he closes with his version of the warhorse “Orange Blossom Special,” because dang it, he can. It’s the most explosive and popular fiddle feature of all time, so a fiddler as great as Michael simply had to get a version on the record.

When last we saw the warm and wondrous Susan Werner, she was singing songs of farm life from her album Hayseed. Her performance on that occasion of “Plant The Stars” was one of my most emotional moments at Roots, and the track still gets me verklempt when I call it up today. Besides being heart-tugging, Werner is witty, endearing and inventive. Her voice is burnished brass. She’s one of the most outstanding stage talkers we know as well. So it’s going to be a treat to welcome her back. Especially since I have so many questions about her newest venture, writing the music to a major new musical version of the great movie Bull Durham. This is hometown terrain for me, folks. The story of Crash Davis, Annie Savoy and Nuke LaLoosh was set in my city, at the ballpark where I saw Chipper Jones and Ryan Klesko play as minor leaguers on their way to my beloved Atlanta Braves. I loved the movie and I have to think Susan’s wry lyrics should be a perfect match for this tale of lust and baseball. Whether she’ll be singing any of the show’s material is an open question, but I sure hope so.

Also bound for the theatrical stage is our pal David Olney. Nashville’s amazing founder of the X-Rays and a writer of songs for Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt (among others) has written new music for the Nashville Shakespeare Company’s new production of As You Like It. And when it premieres in Centennial Park on August 14, Olney will play the role of Amiens. We’ve seen how perceptive and intense Olney can be delivering classic verse in his video concept project reciting the Rime of the Ancient Mariner on YouTube. And we well know the drama baked into his exceptional songs. His newest album (it’s been hard to keep up with his whirlwind pace lately) is When The Deal Goes Down, just out last month. Dave’s press calls it “a wild ride of emotions from love and hope to fear and despair, all the while being entertaining as-hell.” It’s true; Olney is ageless and courageous. LA Times music guru Robert Hilburn wrote that Olney “may be the best songwriter to have released nearly a dozen albums without making the Top 200.” But hey these days are topsy-turvy so maybe Deal will be his first. You, Roots Nation can make it happen.

And rounding out the bill, Michaela Anne should be a treat. Her backgrounder says she was a frustrated jazz student in NYC who got bit by the folk and country bug. She collaborated with the city’s guitar guru Michael Daves (partner of Chris Thile). He says on her website, “I love her knack for blending pop sensibilities with deep, Old Americana. I know we’ll be hearing a lot more from her down the line.” And after developing quite a spot in the competitive Brooklyn club scene, she hit some top flight festivals, most recently what appears to have been a lovely weekend at the iconic FloydFest.

So fire up your vehicle or your radio. Because Wednesday night at the Factory its Flame On.

Craig H.

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The new “WHEN THE DEAL GOES DOWN” album (Deadbeet Records) was officially released on July 8th and celebrated with an intimate, packed in-store “story behind the songs” performance at Howlin’ Books-Grimey’s Too in Nashville, TN. The party continued the next night in Nashville with David’s full band making “The Deal” going down at The End on the Rock Block and special guest RB Morris kicking off the evening.  Special thanks to all of the folks from Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, California, Australia and elsewhere for being a part of new release week! The CD currently available to order the CD and Digital Downloads at, Village Records, and iTunes. Get your copy today!

BIG THANKS to famous music photographer Alan Messer for capturing a couple of wonderful new release moments:

More Nashville release week photos posted – click HERE


Splitting for Western Montana right after the Nashville release show, David played some intimate solo shows and some with Sergio Webb. Lots of great radio & TV on-airs in GREAT FALLSBOZEMAN and MILES CITY. Tonight, the duo plays The Murray Bar in LIVINGSTON, MT before heading back to Central Time.

Music City Roots - Live From The FactoryFiddle and Pick - Writer Spotlight SeriesComing up in Early August, David Olney brings his new “Deal” to the Musical Heritage Centers  “Writer Spotlight Series” in Pegram, TN  and returns with his band to the nationally televised “Music City Roots” program — at it’s new location in Liberty Hall at The Factory in Franklin, TN. The show will also stream live online and be broadcast live on local radio airwaves. Both shows are open to the public. All confirmed tour dates and venue links at: DO TOUR DATES


Music Journalist (and a fine singer-songwriter, as well) Peter Cooper explores David Olney’s timeless creations with an insightful feature story & interview in The Tennessean, which you can read by clicking HERE.

3rd Coast Musics John Conquest agrees with Mr. Cooper’s assessment, stating this about David & the new CD: “This really is an astonishing track record, making Olney the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings of songwriters, and the obvious question is how long can he keep his streak going? The answer appears to be indefinitely, once again he’s come up with [12] riveting songs…”

WSMV-TV‘s (Channel 4, Nashville, TN) Terry Bulger celebrates the hometown hero in his good-news “Bulger Beat” broadcast. Watch it HERE.

Concert presenter, guitar-builder, rocket scientist (seriously) and now blogger Ronnie Knightreflects back on the origins of David Olney and “living deeper” with this post in The Denim Poet – Click HERE


From mid-August through mid-Septmber, come witness David Olney make his Shakespearian acting debut as Lord Amiens in “As You Like It” at the annual Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s “Shakespeare In The Park” presentation at the Bandshell in Centennial Park! David doubles-up with some original new music he composed for the theatrical production. Show details, click HERE.


David Olney’s recent and new episodes of “YOU NEVER KNOW” web video shorts are focused on songs from the new “When The Deal Goes Down” CD and the stories behind ’em. Watch for a new post online EVERY TUESDAY. Archived episodes are on his YouTube channel HERE. You can watch this week’s “YOU NEVER KNOW” episode HERE.


Check out the new “When The Deal Goes Down” CD and discover more of what you’ve been missing at David Olney’s online STORE. Download most music right away, and Order some deep cuts today. Many titles also available at fine music retail outlets like Amazon.comiTunes, Village Records, and at Grimey’s in Nashville, TN.

“Like” on Facebook ~ “Circle” on Google+ ~
Tweet with
 @DavidOlney #YouNeverKnow

More “When The Deal Goes Down” Record Launch Moments:

 Team Olney Shirt Shots: Betty Soo, Arthur Wood & Sara Hickman @ Kerrville Folk Fest      Mark Gerking & the late Johnny Winter

Jack Calvert with David Olney’s Staff (Kickstarte Reward)


David Olney & Howlin’ Books Owner Gwil Owen 

 David Olney w/ Dave Jacques on Tuba at The End!

David Olney w/ full band at The End CD Release Show

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Bulger’s Beat Courtesy of WSMV TV Channel 4

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It you’re in Nashville this week, step out and celebrate the launch of David’s latest album with us!

Tuesday, July 8
Howlin’ Books/Grimey’s Too
Free in-store performance and CD signing
1702 8th Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37203
Music starts at 6:00pm

Wednesday, July 9
The End (across from the Exit/In)
2219 Elliston Place
Nashville, TN 37203
Doors: 8:00pm, showtime: 9:00pm
Cover: $10
Special Guest: RB MORRIS

David will be playing with his full band at both shows, with a few special guests sitting in at The End. The epic RB Morris will be fronting his full band as a special guest kicking off the evening on July 9.

“You can find singer-songwriters in Nashville who are better-known than David Olney, but you won’t find any who can top him as an all-around entertainer. He’s still staking out thoroughly original territory and attacking his live performances with punkish abandon and theatricality.” – The Nashville Scene


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David Olney – the much-covered, always-touring singer songwriter – shares a late night view of his hometown in Sad Saturday Night. This song was written by David Olney, Ad Vanderveen and John Hadley and is available on David’s new “When The Deal Goes Down” album out July 8, 2014 on Deadbeet Records.

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