You don’t have to have Garth Brooks’ albums on your phone to get into his SXSW show, but it helps


A fine-print sentence in a ticket confirmation email for Garth Brooks’ sold-out Saturday show at the South by Southwest stage at Auditorium Shores makes it sound like fans will have to clear an additional hurdle to get into the event.

Garth Brooks announces a free show at Auditorium Shores during SXSW during a news conferenceon Friday, March 17, 2017. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

After the standard terms and condition language about ID verification and re-entry into the venue, there’s a sentence about downloading and showing the Amazon Music App on your phone.

“Also, be ready to show your favorite Garth Brooks album via the Amazon Music App on your mobile device upon entry to the show.”

A confirmation email sent to a Statesman employee who got tickets to Brooks’ show. Highlights added.

Brooks, who famously shunned streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music in the past in favor of his own service,, discussed his months-old partnership with the streaming service today during his SXSW keynote speech.

Brooks chose Amazon because of its reputation for catering to the customer, he said in the speech. He also liked that Amazon also still deals in CDs: “Anyone who tells you the physical world is done is probably someone who isn’t dealing with physical” product, he said.

More: Garth Brooks talks up Amazon deal and the value of songwriters at SXSW keynote

A representative from Amazon told the Statesman that the app download “isn’t mandatory, but a great way to listen to Garth before the show.”

More: Is this Garth Brooks SXSW tweet shameless? Let’s let the friends in low places decide

But simply downloading the app doesn’t guarantee access to its services. To do that, you have to buy a subscription from Amazon to link with your Amazon account— $7.99 a month or $79 a year for Amazon Prime members, and $9.99 a month for non-Prime members. Every one of Brooks’ albums is currently streaming on the service. Wal-Mart and Target have previously exclusively sold his albums upon release.

And what if you want a ticket for the show, but missed the noon release time? If you have $1,000, you might be able to snag a ticket or two.

Peter Blackstock contributed to this report.


Country Music Roundup: It’s Christmas in October

This Week’s News

If you’re one of those heathens who starts getting ready for Christmas the day after Halloween, then this news might interest you. It seems that every country artist has to make a Christmas album at some point (even Billy Gilman has one). But this year, the country Christmas elves/record execs decided that country music fans needed more holiday cheer than usual— nine artists are releasing holiday albums between September and November.

Kacey Musgraves Christmas

The first of of the batch, Reba McEntire’s “My Kind of Christmas,” was announced in July and released last month exclusively to Cracker Barrel restaurants.

And now, Chris Young’s “It Must be Christmas” was released Oct. 14. It features two originals (“Under the Weather” and the title cut), as well as some covers of modern country Christmas classics like “There’s A New Kid In Town” and Brad Paisley’s version of “The First Noel.”

Reviews of the new album have been mostly positive for the chart-topper, who’s nominated for “Musical Event of the Year” with Cassadee Pope at this November’s CMAs.

Next up on the Christmas list is Rascal Flatts, who will release their first Christmas album, “The Greatest Gift of All,” on Oct. 21. The album is all covers of classic songs like “Silent Night” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”

Also on Oct. 21, The Oak Ridge Boys’ seventh Christmas album, “Celebrate Christmas,” will be released in advance of their 27th annual Christmas tour, dubbed “The Christmas Celebration Tour” for this year. The tour runs from Nov. 1—Dec. 22.

Then, on Oct. 28, hang on to your wallets, because that’s when three country Christmas albums will land under the tree (that hopefully hasn’t been set up yet):

  • Kacey Musgraves’ “A Very Kacey Christmas”
  • Jennifer Nettles’ “To Celebrate Christmas”
  • Brett Eldredge’s “Glow”

This year will be the first year for Christmas albums for all three of the above artists, although Nettles has released Christmas albums with her group Sugarland in the past and has been the host of the “CMA Country Christmas special since 2010.

Musgraves’ album will feature new original collaborations with Leon Bridges and (who else?) Willie Nelson, while Eldredge has promised more of a “big band” feel.

Topping the holiday season off on November 11 will be the release of Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood’s first Christmas duet album, “Christmas Together.” The two have both released Christmas albums separately before, but never on the same record.


This Week’s Best New Song

Brad Paisley follows up his pop-country debut single from his as-yet-untitled 11th studio album with a  return to form. That is, he’s singing about sentimental adult topics, with real instrumentation. The music video may indulge a bit too much with the tear-jerking moments, but the song, about how the memory of certain days will stick with you forever, is a welcome refresher from most of what’s on the radio now.


This Week’s Worst New Song

Garth Brooks is back, and he’s trying to run with the young ‘uns, and it’s clear he’s not cut out for it any more. Brooks may still be the second-highest earner in the country music world from his lucrative touring, exclusive Wal-Mart deals and refusal to stream any of his music, but his new song finds him chasing a trend that’s on its way out and is as ill-fitting as his Chris Gaines persona.

“Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” sounds like Brooks’ far superior “Wrapped Up In You” if Brett Eldredge or Thomas Rhett got a hold of it. It’s fits their style, but not for the man who gave us “Papa Loved Mama.” My web desk colleague Maribel Molina points out that Brooks’ best songs are his story songs, like “Papa Loved Mama,” “Rodeo” and “The Thunder Rolls,” and I agree. Even “She’s Tired of Boys,” “Mom” and  “Rodeo and Juliet,” the cornier story songs on Brooks’ last album “Man Against Machine,” were the best cuts from that record. Hopefully the rest of the upcoming album isn’t as derivative.


This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin

John Michael Montgomery and Deana Carter will be at the Nutty Brown Cafe this Friday, Oct. 21. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets can be found here.

This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email:


Country Music Roundup: Willie sings with a president, Dierks releases a new album and Garth announces new Texas tours

Welcome back to the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every Thursday.

New Music This Week:

Dierks Bentley: “Black”

Dierks Bentley performs at iHeartRadio Country Festival at Erwin Center, Saturday, May 1, 2015. / Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman
Dierks Bentley performs at iHeartRadio Country Festival at Erwin Center, Saturday, May 1, 2015. / Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman

Bentley’s eighth studio album already boasts a No. 1 hit in “Somewhere on a Beach,” but hopefully the rest of the tracks are a bit more substantive. A music video series was released for the remaining singles, and most of the songs are available on iTunes already. From what I’ve heard so far, it sounds more like mature adult contemporary music than traditional country, but Bentley is one of the few contemporary artists who still abides by his own rules (mostly). I’m excited to hear the rest of the album when it drops on Friday.

Vince Gill and Chris Young: “Sober Saturday Night”

Quickly finding out that collaborations may be the way to success following “Think of You,” Young teams up with Vince Gill in this traditional country ballad about love lost. Gill’s easily identifiable voice is wasted here, though; the heavy production and Young’s baritone on the chorus is louder than anything Gill could say.

Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: “Amazing Grace”

Former president Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn are now part of the Willie Nelson family following a surprise performance in Atlanta last Friday. The presidential couple joined Nelson and Kris Kristofferson on stage for the final verse of “Amazing Grace” during the Chasten Park show. This isn’t a single, but it’s a fun moment of live music. Catch Nelson and Kristofferson in a new PBS documentary about The Highwaymen and in a new box set covering live concerts.

 Country Music Shows:

This is a brief program interruption to let you know that Garth Brooks is playing San Antonio for the first time in 18 years in July. The ’90s hit behemoth will be performing at the AT&T Center July 22 and 23. Tickets go on sale June 3 at $75 a pop with an eight-ticket limit per purchase. If you go, maybe you can save money by bringing your own food to eat while you’re in San Antonio. Might we suggest breakfast tacos?


Texas Guitar Women at Antone’s. This all-women, all-star revue loomed as a less-frequent prospect when steel guitar ace Cindy Cashdollar moved to upstate New York last year, but she still visits from time to time, and on this occasion she’s joining forces again with Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King for the first Texas Guitar Women show at the newly revived Home of the Blues. Bassist Sarah Brown and drummer Lisa Pankratz give the frontwomen about as solid a rhythm section as you could find in Austin. $15. 9:30 p.m. 305 E. Fifth — P.B.


Warren Hood plays a 6:30 p.m. happy-hour gig at ABGB.


The Texas country prides of San Marcos and New Braunfels, respectively, Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen teamed up on an album last year and are following it with a live record due in June. Catch them together at Nutty Brown Amphitheater. — D.S.S.


-American Aquarium frontman BJ Barham of North Carolina supports his debut solo album “Rockingham” at Strange Brew. If you haven’t heard of them, you’re missing out— “Wolves” was one of my favorite albums from last year. Barham’s solo album should be equally impressive.

-Shinyribs shines on at Threadgill’s South with Chubby Knuckle Choir.

-A fathers-and-sons bill at the Townsend features Kevin & Dustin Welch plus Jon Dee & William Harries Graham. 


Touring Americana artists Chris Knight and Chris Berardo & the DesBerardos play Threadgill’s South.


Asleep at the Wheel at Broken Spoke. Though Asleep at the Wheel and the Broken Spoke are two of Austin’s longest-running traditional-music institutions, it’s not often that the kings of western swing play the iconic country dance hall these days. This one’s a special occasion, though: All proceed will go to Sherry Miller, the wife of bassist Dave Miller, who’s been battling cancer for more than a year. Local ringers Floyd Domino & Redd Volkaert open the show with a piano-and-guitar duo set. $30. 7 p.m. 3201 S. Lamar Blvd. — P.B.

The Sahara Lounge hosts a Guy Clark Hoot at 3 p.m. to honor the Texas songwriter and raise money for an orphanage in Niamey, Niger. Performers include Ben Ballinger, Graham Weber and Josh Buckley, followed by a 6 p.m. show of traditional African music with with Ibrahim Aminou. — D.S.S.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: