Collaborations have long resulted in great country music. Johnny and June, Willie and Waylon, Buck and Dwight, Conway and Loretta, the Highwaymen, and numerous other pairings and super groups elevated the talents and songs involved, furthering individual legacies and creating new hits. Here’s a few dream scenarios, both live and in the studio, that’d benefit all parties involved. Pop crossovers, such as additional Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani duets or a shared Kinky Friedman and Kid Rock campaign song, are sidestepped in favor of these more tantalizing picks.
The Pistol Annies and Wanda Jackson
The legendary Queen of Rockabilly already runs in the same circles as the Pistol Annies. Miranda Lambert is no stranger to Jackson’s native Oklahoma, Ashley Monroe provided backup vocals for 2011 covers album The Party Ain’t Over and Angaleena Presley included Jackson co-write “Good Girl Down” on Wrangled. It’s hardly a stretch, then, to hope Jackson’s instantly recognizable raspy vocals appear on the next Pistol Annies album.
Asleep At the Wheel and Kacey Musgraves
This collaboration actually happened before. Musgraves sang “Miles of Texas” on stage with the Texas swing legends at age 10. Plans to join forces for 2015 tribute album Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys fell through due to scheduling conflicts. Like Alabama, Asleep At the Wheel makes a habit of calling on special guests in the studio and on stage, so here’s hoping that Ray Benson has Musgraves on speed dial.
Willie Nelson and Ennio Morricone
Willie Nelson’s greatest collaborations with Waylon Jennings glorified the cowboys that were once the centerpiece of country and western storytelling. By the time the outlaws reshaped traditional country music, spaghetti westerns had taken a once family-friendly film genre down a grittier, more realistic path. The Italian composer behind many great spaghetti western soundtracks would make an incredible riding partner for Nelson, were he to pursue the seminal modern cowboy album with orchestral accompaniment.
Chris Stapleton and Surviving Allman Brothers Band Members
What better way to accentuate Stapleton‘s mastery of bluesy southern rock riffage than an all-star jam session? Retired guitarist Dickey Betts, drummer Jaimoe and guitarist Derek Trucks should lead the Allman Brothers contingent, joining Chris and Morgane’s band in once in a lifetime live renditions of “One Way Out” and “Second One to Know.” This probably won’t happen, although it’d be worth the effort for a big festival like Riot Fest to at least try to connect the Stapletons with Southern rock royalty.