HOT TALK: Restless Heart Beat Again, Home at the Station Inn

Rolling Stone Disses Country?

(HOT TALK is a weekly column by longtime contributing writer and former Billboard country music editor Edward Morris.)

Restless Heart Recording for Koch/Audium
Restless Heart, the five-man supergroup responsible for such lush hits as “Wheels,” “Bluest Eyes in Texas,” “Why Does It Have to Be (Wrong or Right)” and “A Tender Lie,” have signed to Koch/Audium Records. And all the original members are back — Larry Stewart, Dave Innis, Paul Gregg, Greg Jennings and John Dittrich. Stewart and Innis both left the band in the early ’90s, after which the hits quickly tapered off, even though the remaining members continued to perform. Restless Heart made their chart debut in 1985 with “Let the Heartache Ride” and went on to compile six No. 1s and nine Top 10s. In the process, they earned four gold albums. The reunited group, which has already recorded six songs for its upcoming album, is being produced by Mac McAnally and Kyle Lehning.

New David Lee Murphy Single in Pipeline
David Lee Murphy, another Koch/Audium act, will release his first single — “Loco” — for the label Jan. 21. His album will be out in March. Murphy began his recording career at MCA Records, where his biggest hits were “Dust on the Bottle,” “Party Crowd,” “Every Time I Get Around You” and “The Road You Leave Behind.”

Vince and Amy Visit Larry King
Vince Gill and Amy Grant will guest on Larry King Live Thursday, Dec. 4. The show was taped two weeks ago in Los Angeles.

Bluegrass Benefit For Homeless Set for Dec. 7
Bluegrass big hearts Eddie and Martha Adcock will host their Fourth Annual Christmas Bluegrass Benefit Concert for the Homeless on Sunday, Dec. 7 at the Station Inn in Nashville. Proceeds will be donated to Room in the Inn. On the bill — in addition to the Adcocks — will be Gene Johnson of Diamond Rio, Leroy Troy, David Parmley & Continental Divide, Wildfire, Kathy Chiavola, J. T. Gray, Don Rigsby, Jimmy Bowen and Santa Fe, Tim Graves and Cherokee, Ross Nickerson, Sam Jackson and the Abeels. The Adcocks also promise some “surprise guests.” Showtime is 7 p. m.

Web Site Memorializes Silverstein
On Music Row, the late Shel Silverstein was cherished for penning such memorables as “A Boy Named Sue,” “Queen of the Silver Dollar,” “Here I Am Again” and “Big Four-Poster Bed.” Last year, on the strength of such compositions, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Kids know Silverstein, of course, for books like A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends. Recently, his publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, created an animated Web site that conveys some of Silverstein’s charm and warped wisdom. Check it out at

Rolling Stone Flattens Country
C’mon! No George Jones? No Waylon? No Tammy? No Garth Brooks, George Strait, Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Chet Atkins, Conway Twitty, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Kitty Wells or Ernest Tubb? No Eddy Arnold??? Not if you accept Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time list, which appears in the issue just hitting the stands. One expects a heavy tilt toward rock — and one gets it. There are loads of Beatles and Bob Dylan titles but only a dozen country ones. Talk about tokenism! Anyway, here are the ones that made it: Live at Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash (No. 88); Modern Sounds of Country & Western Music, Ray Charles (104); 40 Greatest Hits, Hank Williams (129); Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson (184); The Complete Hank Williams (225); The Ultimate Collection, Patsy Cline (234); Stardust, Willie Nelson (257); Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton (299); American Recordings, Johnny Cash (364); Branded Man, Merle Haggard (484); All Time Greatest Hits, Loretta Lynn (485); and Guitar Town, Steve Earle (489). The No. 1 top album of all time in this demonstrably ill-informed tabulation is the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. So tell me, what other country albums were left out?

In Praise of the Station Inn
Count yourself lucky if you were among those who got to see Patrick Isbey’s marvelous documentary, The Station Inn: True Life Bluegrass, when he previewed it last month at the International Bluegrass Music Association convention in Louisville, Ky. Isbey is currently looking for ways to get his anecdotal masterpiece to a wider audience, possibly as a PBS special and ultimately as a home DVD. But since it contains so many songs, each of which has to be licensed, taking the production to market is an arduous and expensive process.

The Station Inn, as many of you already know, is a shabby little beer joint on a dogleg section of 12th Avenue South near Nashville’s Music Row. It is also, as Steve Earle says in the documentary, “[t]he most important nightclub — period — as far as bluegrass [music] is concerned.” Tom T. Hall is less elegiac, but just as on target, with his description of the place: “If you rented your drunken brother-in-law your house for a year and then came back to it, you’d have the Station Inn.” Because it so catches the spirit of a place and the people who created it, this documentary is essential viewing for every fan of bluegrass and country music.

Using personal reminiscences of the former and current owners of the club, Isbey and his crew sketch in how it grew from a musicians’ hangout in the mid-1970s to its position of world prominence today. Among the legion of performers who dwell lovingly on what the Station Inn has meant to them are Earle (who was inspired to write and record an entire album after attending shows there), Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Ralph Stanley, Sam Bush, Alison Krauss, Tim O’Brien (who, noting the tendency for stars to drop by, says, “It’s scary who might be out in the audience watching you play”), Maura O’Connell, Mark O’Connor and, most eloquently, banjoist extraordinaire Bela Fleck.

Bush recalls with good humor what a force of nature the late Bill Monroe was when he visited the club unannounced. He would often sweep through the front door and stride directly onto the stage uninvited — but never unwelcome. Skaggs tells of how, when he was at the height of his fame as a country star, he would sit patiently in the audience hoping against hope that his old boss, Ralph Stanley, would invite him to sing. Fleck explains how Peter Rowan assembled some of the greatest musical talents ever for his ad hoc “Crucial Country” sessions at the club during the 1980s. “You could see the new gods of bluegrass and acoustic music [at these shows],” O’Connell marvels. Finally, there is a generous sampling of backstage and onstage picking by those who have seen the Station Inn as a vital route of passage. I’ll keep you up to date on what’s happening with this project.

Just call Lonesome 7-7203. Better still, tell me all about it at I’m in the mood for news.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to