Apr
23

7 Men Who Could Immediately Make Country Music Better

April 23, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  94 Comments

There’s been much talk so far this year about how the women of country are outpacing the men when it comes to the quality of music, and we’ve talked about possible reasons why that is. But we haven’t talked about some of the men that if simply given a chance, could shoot an immediate injection of substance into the country music format. They just need similar chances to their female counterparts.

It’s not that the men of country have any less talent. One of the problems is that many talented country men are making their way to Americana, tired of beating their heads against Music Row’s walls, and not wanting to be lumped in with the laundry list arena rock or country rap currently plaguing the mainstream male country ranks. If country music can’t facilitate the rise of their careers, country will lose their talent to other avenues.

9 Women Who Could Immediately Make Country Music Better

A lack of talent has never been country music’s problem, it’s been recognizing that talent and allowing it to thrive by expressing its originality and creativity. Here are seven men that right now could enter into prominent positions in the country format and immediately make it better.


Sturgill Simpson

If you wanted one name, one man to watch in country music in 2013, that name would be Sturgill Simpson. Poised to take the country music world by storm (or at least the independent side of things), Sturgill’s debut solo album High Top Mountain is going to blow the doors off of country music when it’s released on June 11th. Sturg is already making waves out there on the road opening for Dwight Yoakam, and has one of the best management and booking teams behind him. Everything is in place. The next question is, will country music pay attention?


Will Hoge

will-hogeThe truth is you’re already hearing Will Hoge on mainstream country radio, you’re just hearing his songs being sung by others. Hoge is one of those songwriters that has been right on the brink of breaking through for 15 years, but has always just been one important puzzle piece away. Eli Young Band had a #1 hit last year with Will’s song “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” and at the time the songwriter didn’t even have a publishing deal. Recently Lady Antebellum recorded his song “Better Off Now.”

Will is now signed to BMG Nashville as a songwriter, and has been signed as a performer to Atlantic Records and Rykodisc in the past. Though Will has struggled to find the exact right opportunity to take his music to the next level, he is a battle-tested performer, a proven songwriter with commercially-viable material, and an artist the industry is familiar with that could immediately step in amongst country music’s mainstream men and bring more substance to the format, open up new themes, and hopefully challenge other male performers and writers to release more formidable material.


Whitey Morgan

Whitey Morgan and his band The 78′s are the authentic, modern-day extension of country music’s true Outlaw country movement. It doesn’t get more hard country and honky tonk than this. Music Row’s batch of fake Outlaws will only be able to go so far before the American public wakes up to the fact they’ve been sold a bill of goods. Whitey Morgan is country music’s “new Outlaw” for the long haul.


Evan Felker & the Turnpike Troubadours

With Evan Felker and the Turnpike Troubadours, the question is not if, but when. You may not be able to find a better example of a songwriter that can bring true country substance yet still find appeal with the masses. Like Hootie taking Old Crow’s “Wagon Wheel” to #1, Felker songs like “Every Girl” “7 & 7″ and “Good Lord, Lorrie” are just screaming to be cut by a bigger name, letting the rest of the world know what a treasure the Texoma region has in this young and exciting band. The hardest thing for a Red Dirt / Texas country band to do is make that transition from regional stars to national recognition, and to do it without streaking their hair with highlights or releasing songs with obviously aims at radio success. The next couple of years are very critical for this band, but if Nashville had any sense, they’d hop on the Turnpike Troubadours bandwagon now.


John Fullbright

A former Turnpike Troubadour himself, and a former member of the Mike McClure band, John Fullbright became a serious force in the music world when he released his critically-acclaimed From The Ground Up album last year that rose all the way to winning the young man from Bearden, Oklahoma a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album. Isn’t it just like Americana to snatch up all of country’s promising male talent? But with the strength of his songs, John Fullbright could find a home in both country and Americana if he wished. At only 25-years-old (it’s his birthday today), the sky’s the limit for this emerging talent.


Leroy Virgil & Hellbound Glory

hellbound-gloryIf you’re wondering where our generation’s Keith Whitley or Chris Ledoux is, look no further. Though Leroy will probably never play Nashville’s game, he’s got country music’s most formidable song catalog just waiting to be cherry picked and matched up with top-tier talent. In the meantime, Leroy and his band Hellbound Glory could be playing sold-out big club/theater shows and headlining grassroots festivals.

Virgil and Hellbound Glory are fresh off opening for Kid Rock on a nationwide arena tour and signing with the prestigious Agency Group for booking. It may be only a matter of months before we stop complaining of why Hellbound Glory isn’t bigger, and start proclaiming that they’ve made it. Time may be running out to get on board with Leroy Virgil at the ground level and enjoy the rise.


Dirty River Boys

If country music was looking for its rough equivalent of Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and other acoustic string bands that are all the rage right now, look no further than El Paso, TX’s Dirty River Boys. Way more than just Americana’s version of a boy band, The Dirty River Boys have a grit and authenticity to them many of these other bands so woefully lack. Yet the Dirty River Boys can still can engage large crowds in sincere singalongs that tap into that sense of camaraderie that many music fans are looking for these days.


Other names that could infuse more quality into country: Austin Lucas, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Jason Eady, Jackson Taylor, Garth Brooks.

94 Comments to “7 Men Who Could Immediately Make Country Music Better”

  • Im not sure I’d call Whitey “Outlaw” .. Its just straight up Honky Tonk to me.. Also it is cool to see a video with Coburn on the harp!

    As for Sturgill.. Man I’d love to see him blow up the country world.

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    • “Man I’d love to see him blow up the country world.”

      Sorry.. Poor choice of words with last week’s events. No disrespect intended.

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      • are you serious? so because he uses a cliche that very clearly has nothing to do with actual explosives, he’s somehow being insensitive? give me a break. that’s the worst kind of p.c. bullshit

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        • i guess that was your comment you were talking about…still man, come on! if somebody gets offended because you said the phrase “blow up,” they might need to head on down to the skin store and pick up a thicker set

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          • I hear ya.. People are sensitive and honestly I don’t want to deal with it..

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  • Love the list Trig. The ones i’m most famillar with and have seen play live are the troubadors and the dirty river boys and damn can the bring it both song wise and performance wise. Look forward to listining to more of the others. Will Houge is a good songwriter and performer but a little too pop for my personal taste. I still think Jason Boland and sthe Straglers could have wider success the performance and the siongwriting are there.

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    • Will Hoge reminds me a lot of Tom Waits, where he doesn’t write pop songs, but his songs are so good, a pop artist can come in and cut it and it works as pop. You go and listen to Will’s version and you’re like, “Wow, that’s a great song,” even though you may never say that about Lady Antebellum’s version. I think if we’re going to re-integrate substance into the male side of country, it’s going to have to happen in steps. Will Hoge may be the first guy in a position to start this process because he’s proven his success to the industry already.

      As for Jason Boland, if I had expanded this list out more, he would be on here. I think his next album is going to be a very important one.

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      • Solid points and Will’s versions of his songs are much less pop flavored that say Eli Young Bands was. He is a strong live perfomer that can draw large crowds Billy Bobs Texas in Fort Worth has booked him on 2 or 3 occasions now and that is a huge room to have to fill so he must be drawing very good numbers.Personal perferance thing for me prefer Troubadors or Boland but see were Will could make a name for himself with a wider audience easily.

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  • Turnpike Trubadors and Hellbound Glory need to go on tour together. My two favorites off this list for sure

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    • I saw them live together at the Woodshed in Leon, Iowa. Hellbound Glory hadn’t added their new drummer yet, but they were still great and Leroy was hilarious onstage. Definitely the best concert I’ve ever been to. Both bands were fantastic.

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      • Seeing any of these artists alone is good enough. When they pair up, it can be downright lethal.

        Hellbound Glory and Sturgill Simpson have played together a few times, at XSXW5, and at a Waylon tribute in Nashville last year that also had Jamey Johnson.

        This year at SXSW, The Dirty River Boys and Turnpike Troubadours played The White Horse at the same showcase.

        Would be great to see more of these artists pair up and help mix fan bases because if you like one, you tend to like them all.

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      • that is really cool. Wish I was there. I am seeing the Turnpike Troubadours at the end of summer, and waiting to see Hellbound Glory when they are back in Reno. I will be checking out the few people on this list I don’t know this afternoon. Rock on.

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      • Troubadours and Hellbound Glory at the Woodshed: GREAT show! The midwest lucked out on that one. Unforgettable.

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        • Haha, nice to know there are fellow SCM readers around the Hawkeye State.

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  • So glad I found this blog. So many great artists whose music I may have missed.

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  • Sturgill’s voice is killer.

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  • Boland could be on this list…but nonetheless…will be seeing Whitey Morgan this weekend in Springfield Mo., friends are opening too…bonus for me…The Troubs are making a lot of noise right now..all the rest are worthy of this list. my only reservation is The Dirty River Boys, I love their live shows, just dont get that vibe from their studio stuff…maybe a live CD..?

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    • Boland is the only other one I’d add. Dudes a beast

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    • My one concern about Dirty River Boys is their lack of low end. It’s easy to say “they need a bass player” when if they added one that might take away from the spirit of the music, but their is something to their sound that leaves you a little unfulfilled. You may not notice that as much live because of the energy they emit. However they score very high on all the intangibles that make people fall in love with a band.

      If I expanded this list out, folks like Jason Boland and Corb Lund would have definitely been on it. But I really wanted to zoom in on some very specific names that even by Music Row’s unfair standards, could still bust through if just given the opportunity. Really looking forward to Boland’s new one.

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      • The Dirty River Boys did add a stand up bass player, and it definitely filled out their sound. I saw them open for Boland when he came through Denver, they brought the house down. You lose a bit of that on their records but they’re a lot of fun live.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fJv3UjD7U4

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        • I stand corrected. In fact I saw then just over a month ago at SXSW, and I specifically noted the bass player who was playing with a toothpick in his mouth the whole time and did a badass job. I just pulled out my little notebook from that show and I had written down, “I want more low end from this band.” I know they get some bass out of the box, but this is one of the reasons you see bands like The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons play a bass drum with their foot, because if you don’t have that beat there the sound can comes across as empty. Don’t get me wrong, I think what Dirty River Boys are doing is excellent and that is why I included them here. I just think that may be the reason some people might feel their sound is missing something as Alan alluded to.

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          • Gotta disagree with you Trigger man. I seen Dirty River boys at Willie Nelson concert and at Ray Wylie Hubbard’s festival few weeks ago and I have to say they sound like pop country with blue grass instruments. Every time I talk to someone at the Tshirt counter I tell them I enjoy Whiskey Shivers better from the Austin blue grass scene. I was even given a cd of theirs when I went to see them at Willie’s and was not impressed. I think everyone likes them simply the fact they have a blue grass sound. Simply not the worst new blue grass band but just mediocre for the attention they are getting.

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          • I agree, their studio stuff doesn’t compare to the live show.

            Thanks for the great list. Outside of Will Hodge, who I hadn’t heard of before today, I keep everyone else in pretty heavy rotation.

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          • Hillbilly Muslin,

            The point of this list is to not espouse my favorite artists, or even to say what artists I think are better than others. If I made such a list, some of these names would be on it, some would not.

            The point of this particular list is to shine a beacon on a few select artists that if given a chance, could really make a positive impact on the country format. I love Whiskey Shivers, but do we really think they could be beamed into every household in America? I may personally enjoy them more than Dirty River Boys, but to qualify for a list like this, there must be some commercial viability. Eric Strickland is a great artists and that is why I included him in my Album of the Year list for 2012. But he’s not a full time, touring musician. Maybe with the right support and exposure, he can work up to that in the coming years, but to include him here I think would go against the spirit of this list. Just because an artist isn’t included on this list, doesn’t mean they’re not good. You have to understand the spirit with which this list was compiled.

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        • Was at this show, too. Ha!

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  • Saw Sturgill open for Dwight the other week. He was superb! Definitely buying High Top Mountain.

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  • That Dirty River Boys song was great. And I can’t wait to get my hands on the Sturgill Simpson album. Already a fan of Whitey Morgan through Hellbound Glory in your list.

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  • You forgot Eric Strickland. He puts out all original songs that sounds purely country from another Era. May not developed the fan base cult like image of the ones above but should be a rising star in the scene soon. And how could you not call Whitey Morgan not outlaw. I just scene 3 of his shows this weekend and partied my ass off with him this weekend too. Dude is both Honky Tonk and Outlaw you can get. Both musically and personality wise. Everywhere you go he want to hear some Paycheck or another old school refined country album. That is his soul. No offense to other bands I met last year or so but many want to listen to rock or punk when they are not playing. Whitey wants to listen to the purest of country at all times.

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    • Was referring to Honest Charlies comment.

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  • And still Jackson Taylor gets no respect here.

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    • Got nothing but respect for Jackson Taylor, and if I had expanded this list out, his name would have been on here. Only reason he isn’t on here is because some of his lyrics may be a little too hot for primetime, which is not necessarily a band thing, but doesn’t necessarily make him ideal for this particular list.

      http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/album-review-jackson-taylor-the-sinners-bad-juju

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      • Guys like Jackson Taylor and Cody Jinks are sure is close and both are excellent songwriters (maybe the best of the bunch) but to my ear they kind of have country cookie cutter voices. Not sayin’ I don’t like ‘em or am bettin’ against ‘em though.

        But I just don’t hear anybody with a more complete package than Sturgill Simpson. He has the voice (with just the right amount of Waylon in it), looks, guitar cred, and even the name. I am betting he needs some history begin him but he seems to be locked in to the right direction.

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        • Typo correction “he needs some history begin him” should read “he needs some history behind him”…

          I think this will be an interesting article to revisit in 3-4 years.

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  • Everyone on this list is killer. I do think there should be a Place for Jason Eady in the converstation.

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    • Jason Eady sadly slipped my mind but good point he could have a wider impact with the right exposure. AM country Heaven is a amazing record.

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  • Tony Martinez.

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  • This is an interesting article about on whose shoulders will the continuation of roots and authentic country music last.

    I like Whitey Morgan, although I wish that he would be more prolific.

    I agree that Jason Boland may play a pivotal role in the continuation, and, I hope, expansion, of our type(s) of music and culture.

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    • The wait for new Whitey Morgan material may be coming to an end soon…

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      • I spoke with Whitey after his show in Des Moines a couple weeks ago. He said he has a live album and 2 other albums worth of new material in stock. He is trying to get out of his record deal before releasing though.

        I can’t wait for the new stuff, Whitey Morgan is my favorite artist alive at this time.

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        • I have his “White Album” that came out a few years ago.

          I believe that he has one which came out before that and it is on my list of CDs that I want to get for my collection.

          Like a lot of people, I buys CDs of artists I have started following when they come out, but if I really like the artist, I will try to, slowly but surely, acquire his or her songbook of all previous CDs.

          It is kind of an Easter egg hunt and I go to some pretty good local record stores across the state (Tn) to try to complete my artist sets.

          Sometimes, though, I through up my hands because what I am seeking is too obscure for me to luck up and find, and I finish my artist collections by buying CDs on Amazon.

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  • The Dirty River Boys interview in the new MusicFest magazine is a great read. Page 10 http://issuu.com/shweikimedia/docs/15586_dicksonproductions?mode=mobile

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  • Nice! So glad I left NYC for Texas and am able to experience these acts in person more often, and get a chance to work with some of these folks.

    Should have put Crooks in there too, though!

    http://crookscountry.com/music-pics-videos/

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  • Joseph Huber? and maybe he doesn’t fit into the theme of artists who could break into the mainstream. The list is great though, when I listen to Turnpike Troubadours, I find myself saying “How isn’t this a huge country hit”

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    • Joe Huber is probably too good to ever gain much success but he definitely deserves it and if his songs were recorded by more well known acts they’d be hits in the pop- country seen.

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  • I want to hear Sturgill on the radio RIGHT NOW! I think his style is exactly what we need. Hank 3 is too vulgar, Shooter is kind of an asshat. Sturgill is absolutely amazing. I’m disappointed this is my first time listening to him!

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  • The one person I’d add to the list is Cody Jinks. I would love to see Trigger review his newest album, “30.” It’s been out about a year so I understand skipping it at this point. Don’t miss his next one!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZkSKAFMEz8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AsYVlf95pM

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  • that Will Hoge is dreamy…

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  • Trigger,
    I think you nailed it. I have seen 5 of the 7 this year and there where all great and like you say immediately change country music.

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  • Justin Townes Earle?

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    • Justin Townes Earle and Jason Isbell, and a few others could easily make a list like this, but at this point I think both of them are firmly ensconced in Americana and wouldn’t take the opportunity to get big in country even if it was offered to them. And I respect them for that.

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      • And JTE is moving a away from a straight country sound to blues and soul. More generally, I think he is resisting being tied to any one genre. One way he is like his dad. The Earles are musically restless,

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  • Check out the Mercury Lounge in Tulsa Oklahoma. 5 out of the 7 artists featured are regulars not to mention where the Turnpike Troubadours cut their teeth. You might even see evan felker pop in to play a song or two at any given day of the week. Their full band shows there are a party.

    The Mercury Lounge in Tulsa is breeding the who’s who of future americana and country artists.

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  • A few others to look out for are The Damn Quails, Lincoln Durham & American Aquarium…all 3 stellar acts!

    If you don’t know of them then peep em out!

    Solid list though. Especially Turnpike & Dirty River Boys!

    Big Shoutout to Whitey, Will, Fullbright & Boland! A lot of Okies on this list! Love it!

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  • I pre-ordered Sturgill’s album yesterday and have listened to the free download about 3-4 times through. I’m having a hard time coming up with words to express how awesome this record is. It’s not a new sound, not a stale sound. I don’t think anyone has made a record like this since the 70′s.

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    • It’s the way country music was supposed to progress if it had stayed on track, but somewhere along the way between Shania Twain and Garth Brooks that train fucking derailed and nobody survived.

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  • Saw Jason Boland and the Stragglers in concert with the Turnpike Troubadours a few months back in Wichita. Probably the best concert Ive been to in the last 5 years.

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  • I’m diggin this list as I’m from affore mentioned “Texoma” area,its really the hotspot for all the best up & comers right now. Only a couple I’d throw into the fire with these,Travis Linville and Scotty Thurman. Both guys with a lotta talent and a lot to say. Also,I caught these youngsters The Jason Stringfellow band the other night and they are not bad at all either. Someone I have been waiting on to set Mainstream country on its ear too every since he left Shooters band is Leroy Powell,he just hasn’t yet.

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  • This is list is great and of course could be expanded…I’m always surprised how a lot of the underground/real country/SCM base overlooks Lukas Nelson and how much impact he could or should be having.
    Maybe “overlooks” is a strong accusation, but he belongs on this list. His songwriting, singing, guitar playing all are, respectfully, above any of those named here.

    I’ve got to believe he has been approached by some big labels and offered some big deals. Not only does he have all the talent, but a name to market, and a goodlooking guy that could be marketed to teen girls and soccer moms. So koodos to him for promising the real and keeping it that way.

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    • Lukas is awesome, but falls much more directly in the blues category than country.

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  • Another one I didn’t think of immediately is Stephenville Texas Six Market Blvd. Tight band good songwriting the vocal and musical chops are there and they have a natural charisma on stage. They recently opened a show for none other than George Jones and the older tradtional crowd dug there stuff but they are young with a sound that is accesable to todays mainstream country audience. They just need the right team behind them.

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  • Lady Antebellum cut “Better Off Now?” I don’t even want ot know how bad they destroyed my favorite Will Hoge song. I love that these unknown songwriters can get national recognition, but I hate when someone I don’t like takes a great song and makes it famous by destroying it.

    And I never ever want anyone else to cut a Turnpike Troubadours song. I agree, they could easily be radio hits. But they are meant for Evan Felker to be singing them. Nobody else can do them justice. I don’t want the Troubadours to get mainstream success. I like them how they are. Evan is probably one of the best songwriters in the music business period. But I kind of like them being a secret.

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    • I agree! While they completely deserve all their recent success, seeing Turnpike play at smaller places like Mercury Lounge, etc. over the years has been my favorite. And I can’t imagine their songs being cut by another artist – it would ruin it for me. But…everyone I introduce them to (from my twentysomething non-coutry listening friends to my 65 year old mother) loves them.

      And my few additions to list: Jason Eady (LOVE his voice and songwriting but might be a little too traditional-sounding for the current commercial world), The Damn Quails (I’m sure I’ve listened to Down the Hatch at least 75 times), and Lincoln Durham (currently my favorite late night driving music – different but in a way that could be commercially viable).

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      • I can certainly understand why fans of any artist would not want Lady Antebellum cutting a song of theirs, but you have to think of the many other instances in country when this is led to a huge opportunity for an artist. Johnny Cash cutting Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Willie Nelson cutting Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho & Lefty,” etc. etc. If country music is ever going to get better, it may take more established names cutting cool songs from other folks. I agree it can also go the other way. See Hootie cutting “Wagon Wheel.”

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  • Great list! I know you get irritated people adding artists to your lists but I’m gonna do it anyways..lol
    1. Sturgill Simpson is damn right amazing in my book.
    2. Turnpike Troubadours keep churning out more and more great songs.
    3. I’m waiting for Whitey Morgan to release some more material.
    4. Leroy Virgil is a force to be reckon with and hope he received tons of new fans touring for Kid Rock.
    5. Jason Boland is a legend all around and should definately be more noticed in the country world.
    6. Eric Strickland can create honkytonk magic like no other.
    7. Jason Eady can write some great tunes.
    8. Just discovered J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices
    9. Can’t put down the Peewee Moore album from Muddy Roots last year.
    10. Stoney Larue needs to get noticed more. He could really be getting the same attention as Sturgill I think.

    I had heard the name Will Hoge quite a bit travelling around here but haven’t ever checked out his music.

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  • I wanna be one of the cool kids.lol. nice list though!

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  • [...] I agree, I agree, I agree.   [...]

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  • love the fact that Whitey Morgan, and Hellbound Glory, is on this list. I would also love for some of my other favorites to get just a chance to show there talents; #1 Ray Lawrence Jr ( have you heard his 2 albums?! modern possum!), #2 Billy Don Burns ( terrific song writer, delightfully raw vocals) #3 Jamey Johnson (has some spotlight, but I believe he is one of the best in the business right now.) Honorable mentions; JB Beverley and The Wayward Drifters, Joey Allcorn, and Ronnie Hymes. If anyone has not heard any of these artist before, I beg you to check them out, and help weed out this pop country fad that makes my fm radio pretty much useless.

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  • I wish all these groups would take off, that way I might actually be able to see them! No love for New England in the real country world, we just get crap pop groups swinging through

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    • Agreed. I’m from RI and a good show is few and far in between, especially if I can’t make it up to Boston.

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  • Hey Trig. Maybe you should also try to do a list of seven men who are currently popular in country music that could still end up being good for country music. Bet that list would be a little harder.

    Great list though. Love every one of those guys!

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    • Jamey Johnson would/should be number 1 on that list Brian.

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    • 1 Jamey Johnson
      2 Gary Allan
      3 Dierks Bentley
      4 Eric Church
      5 Pat Green

      That’s all I’ve got.

      For this article I would add Casey Donahew and Wade Bowen.

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    • 1. Jamey Johnson
      2. Lukas Nelson
      3. Shooter Jennings

      * These 3 are making music together. As much as I enjoy Shooter, I kind of hope he is at the sound/mixing/production board when these 3 are together (he does great job and I believe that is his strength).
      Jamey and Lukas… just stay out of their way on songwriting and vocals. Two of the best under 40yrs. old right now.

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      • Jamey Johnson hasn’t released an original song in nearly 3 years, and is saying himself that he is not writing. It’s time to realize that Jamey Johnson is at a major crossroads in his career, and that this is not 2009. Saying that he is the most important or influential of anything at this point is pretty outmoded.

        As for Shooter Jennings, I think his absolute worst possible attribute is as a producer. I think that is where he takes good to decent music and destroys it by taking too many ill-advised chances by not soliciting the counsel of others. And he really isn’t country, aside from a few songs.

        Lukas Nelson is an amazing, amazing talent. But he’s still really green, and in no way country. I don’t know anyone who considers him a part of the country music landscape, whatsoever. It doesn’t mean he may not have some country elements or country ties, but he is a rock man.

        At this point, these three guys are about as relevant to country music as Hank3 is. Meaning, not very relevant at all.

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        • Wow. I’ll stay away from a debate on Shooter, but…

          Jamey hasn’t released new music due to record label issues, but he is making new music, it’s just not getting out through an album, but he is still a major influence in the music scene with what he brings in authenticity, connecting with the past, honoring true legends, creditbility and respect with other artists etc… I guess if you are counting him out, good thing you weren’t covering Waylon and Willie when they were 2-3-4 albums into their career. But I guess when the majority of what you do cover and endorse is mainly a career span of 1 album wonders…

          *** The blog is who could make country music better immediately although most everyone you list has a challenge to overcome or needs growth, so “immediately” isn’t accurate. If Jamey didn’t have the challenge of his label, he is as influential and ready to go as the guys you mention.

          “Lukas Nelson is an amazing, amazing talent. But he’s still really green, and in no way country. I don’t know anyone who considers him a part of the country music landscape, whatsoever. ”
          - Who’s fault is this? He is as country as anything you cover here. I’m rather shocked at this comment. He has blues, rock and reggae elements, but he is country.

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    • Dierks Bentley
      Gary Allan
      Zac Brown maybe?
      Ashley Monroe/Pistol Annies
      Kellie Pickler
      Chris Young
      Kasey Musgraves

      That’s all I’ve got.

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  • Most of JB&S’s other cd’s have a lot of drinking songs..this new cd has THINKING songs…with a true sound no autotune..

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  • Trig, are you going to do a similar list for female artists? Lots a great music coming from women like Lydia Loveless, Lindi Ortega, and Torres, to name a few.

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  • Chris Knight and Jason Boland should be on here, IMHO. Boland is well known, but Knight is criminally underrated.

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  • I know it’s not necessarily in the same vein as some of these other musicians but I think Jon Wolfe would be a great addition. He’s a talented song writer (he wrote a song for Joe Nichols last album called “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”) and he fits nicely into what many would consider neo-traditionalism. He could really make it big and I could easily hear some of songs covered by bigger artists and becoming hits.

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  • Late to this conversation, but Dirty River Boys are the only act I’ve ever seen that *adds* to a TVZ song. http://youtu.be/ENzI5FL1_Mg

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  • I really think Ryan Bingham should be included on this list.

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  • How about this guy Scott Hisey: http://scotthisey.com/wp/scott-hisey-music

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  • Why can’t a song like Damn the Luck be on regular country radio? Lucky Tubb. He writes his own songs.. He’s real country to me.

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  • “Felker songs like “Every Girl” “7 & 7″ and “Good Lord, Lorrie” are just screaming to be cut by a bigger name, letting the rest of the world know what a treasure the Texoma region has in this young and exciting band. ”

    If a Jason Aldean/Luke Bryan covered TT I don’t think I could handle it….. might spin me in a country music depression I could never get out of.

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  • I agree it is a really good list,but I would have Cody Jinks on the top!

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  • Great list. Turnnpike Troubadours are amazing live.

    I would throw in Chris Knight (for sure) and Whiskey Myers. If you want a more traditional sound, Aaron Watson and John Slaughter are also awesome.

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  • Garth Brooks as an honorable mention????? he led the charge down the drain for Country Music. Can not believe I see his name on this article.

    Shooter has more talent in his pinky finger than this whole list combined.

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  • Great list, Owen Temple definitely deserves a spot here also

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  • i love Whitey Morgan outlow sound. i think we need to add Jamey Johnson and Kellie Pickler and possibly Easton Corbin

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  • Ummmm, Trigger…. have you ever thought about asking someone like Toby Keith to back you…invest in your own Saving Country Music Weekly or Saving Country Music Monthly? I would subscribe. You’re already there, I can see it on the stands.

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    • Stay tuned…

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