Willis Alan Ramsey might have the most highly-anticipated sophomore album in country music history. It's been 47 years since the cult legend released his Leon Russell-produced self-titled debut album, which went on to inspire generations of Texas singer-songwriters, from Lyle Lovett to Shawn Colvin.
In the decades since its release, the 1972 album has served as a picking ground for artists of all generations. Ramsey's delightfully quirky "Muskrat Love (Muskrat Candlelight)," would go on to become a (sometimes maligned) hit for '70s pop duo Captain & Tennille. His ode to Lone Star women from Dallas to Dime Box, "Northeast Texas Women," has been covered by Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett and American Aquarium. Waylon Jennings and Shawn Colvin each put their spin on "Satin Sheets." Ramsey disciple Lyle Lovett got to co-write with his hero on "North Dakota," from 1992's Joshua Judges Ruth, and recorded Ramsey's "Sleepwalking" for his 1998 covers album Step Inside This House. (Ramsey also co-wrote Lovett's Lone Star State anthem "That's Right You're Not From Texas" with his wife, singer-songwriter Alison Rogers.)
Though it's been nearly 50 years since Ramsey has released new music, he's still one of the most talked about figures in any Texas guitar pull or songwriting circle. Now, not a moment too soon, Ramsey is back with "Mockingbird Blues," which was recorded at Bruce Robison's Lockhart studio, the Bunker, for Robison's The Next Waltz series.
"I have met a lot of musicians in my almost 50 years in the biz, and in my experience, Bruce Robison is one of the best, brightest, and most intuitive musicians I've ever seen," Ramsey tells Wide Open Country. "He's about 3 or 4 steps of anyone else in the room, always thinking ahead, one of the most efficient and strategic thinkers I've met, always thinking of the next step to take in order to proceed towards the goal to be achieved at any moment in time. And on top of that, he's one of the most accommodating and friendly people, as well, someone you can always rely on, whether it be in the context of producer, arranger, band leader, or just giving his musical opinion or any other needed feedback at just the right time. A true professional and all around great guy. There's hardly anyone I can think of that I'd rather be in a musical situation with. I'm a pretty tough critic, but I can't think of enough good things to say about him."
Watch the video for Willis Alan Ramsey's "Mockingbird Blues" below.
Robison, Carrie Rodriguez and John Fullbright will also appear on The Next Waltz Live Tour. In the style of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, in addition to performing their own songs, each of the artists will back Ramsey.
Tickets for The Next Waltz Live Tour are available here.