Jason Ringenberg releases his new album Rhinestoned March 5, 2021 on his Courageous Chicken label. A legendary alt-country pioneer, Ringenberg will have you Rhinestoned and boot-scootin’ to the best cow-punk this side of Nashville. Pandemic be damned, you’ll want to socially distance yourselves across the dance floor emulating Jason’s energetic stage presence. This ain’t no wallflower music.
Like the rest of us, when the pandemic hit Jason made a plan to savor his time off as what Country Music Hall of Fame Senior Director, Peter Cooper has called him, “Nashville’s greatest 20th-century rock ‘n’ roll frontman. That didn’t last long. Almost immediately the songs came flooding out and before he knew it, Rhinestoned was a thing. How to record safely was difficult, but not impossible. One of the perks of living in Nashville is that talent is never in short supply. Masked and safely distanced, long time compadre, multi-instrumentalist, producer George Bradfute and Jason holed up in the great Jim Reeves former basement studio. One at a time the accompanying artists came in to record their tracks, Steve Ebe on drums, Fats Kaplin on steel guitar and fiddle, Mark Andrew Miller and Kristi Rose provided harmony vocals, Camille and Addie Ringenberg chimed in making it a family affair. I wouldn’t doubt for a minute that the ghost of good ol’ Jim Reeves sat in on a set or two. Rhinestoned proves that even a worldwide pandemic cannot hold back the rocking Godfather of Americana from creating a great album.
The thing that’s special about Rhinestoned is that it’s timeless. It’s vintage and current at the same time. Some of the songs are retakes which adds to the vintage vibe. Songs like the Carter Family’s, “The Storms Are On The Ocean”; A Christian classic, “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today”, (a song the Ringenberg family found themselves singing every day as of late because, well you know); Hank Williams Sr’s, “You Win Again”; or The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, “Time Warp”. Interestingly only Hank Williams Sr. wore the famed Nudie Suit, those famous flamboyant rhinestone-encrusted cowboy outfits, he and of course Jason Ringenberg. Rhinestoned!
He might just be the greatest rock ’n’ roll front man, but Jason Ringenberg is a songwriter. He tells a story that you can dance to while it raises your level of consciousness. “Nashville Without Rhinestones” chronicles the demise of the famed music city. “The Freedom Rides Weren’t Free”, is a historic account of brave souls who took a stand during the Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee. “I Rode with Crazy Horse”, is a fictional, (or is it?) telling by the cousin of Crazy Horse who nails the suffrage and endurance it took to fight for their native sacred land.
“Before Love and War” is poetic. “My Highway Songs” is 100% autobiographical and yes, this writer believes there is a place for these songs. “Stoned On Rhinestones” is a Honky Tonkers lament. “Keep That Promise” is a cheating song. “Window Town” is about living in a fishbowl. Rhinestoned is hot guitar licks, county fiddle, catchy lyrics, toe tapping, yip-yapping hillbilly music.
The recording of Rhinestoned was a lonesome experience due to Covid-19 issues and restrictions. Jason Ringenberg made the best of it. Rhinestoned is pure rockabilly cut glass sparkle and Jason Ringenberg shines bright as ever. Turn it up! Watch your speed! You’re about to get Rhinestoned.
- Viola Krouse