From the beginning, there has always been a dark, Gothic side to American country and roots music. From murder ballads to ghost stories, to tales of struggle and lunacy, Gothic country never gets its due credit, nor do the dozens of artists and bands who keep these traditions alive with new music bathed in the darkness and depression…
We’re living in historic times in country music, when the resurgence of more traditional, and more substantive music is taking hold like never before, and receiving more recognition for the industry than any period in recent memory. And it’s hard to not look at Sturgill Simpson and give him at least part of the blame.
When Saving Country Music started in 2009, the biggest artist in country music was Taylor Swift. Now, it’s arguably Chris Stapleton. Independent artists are finding support like never before, allowing them to be able to completely sidestep the pitfalls of the mainstream industry and still have sustainable, and in many cases, very successful careers.
Reviews and opinions on the Netflix original series The Ranch starring Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, and Sam Elliot continue to be mixed, but the country music tie-ins—whether in the soundtrack, the set, or the dialogue—continue to make it a point of intrigue for many country fans.
We love our favorite touring bands in their beat up Ford Econolines, hand-me-down Dodge Sprinters, and decommissioned rattletrap fleet vans ambling down the road. Because when they come to our town, they bring the joy of music with them, and when they leave they carry a sense of freedom that can only be delivered by the open road…
Saying that a massive pop star has just released a “country” song has become the Rickroll of 2016. Enterprising entertainers looking to troll popular media and the gullible Millenial journalists who enable them have made this an enterprising endeavor for not just a few pop stars this year.
Giving the Nobel Prize in Literature to a musician is no different than giving an actor a Grammy or a musician an Oscar or a pop star a CMA Award. Or I don’t know, maybe electing a reality TV star President. And as is being reported, Dylan has yet to acknowledge the accolade, and isn’t even returning the Nobel committee’s phone calls.
One of the reasons we feel so surprised at Americana’s success and so many have been so slow to recognize it is because it has been a slow and steady process. Because of Americana’s model of sustainability, the revolution has been plodding, yet purposeful. And now it’s success is palpable, and measurable by industry-standard metrics.
In January of 2016, Saving Country Music published an article explaining how 2016 Could Be 1975 All Over Again in country music—how an upsurge in more traditional and substantive talent and music could really take hold in country, from the independent realm to the mainstream. And that is exactly what we’ve seen as 2016 has progressed.
John Moreland has already received the praise of the likes of Jason Isbell who he’s toured with before and dozens of others, but an endorsement from one of the biggest females in country music at the moment is a pretty big deal. Apparently during AmericanaFest a couple of weeks ago, Miranda Lambert took time out of her busy schedule to take in a set by Moreland.
With absolutely no hyperbole intended, William Michael Morgan earning a #1 on country radio for his debut single “I Met A Girl” is a historic moment in country music. It’s a point in time when an undeniably traditional country song from an undeniably traditional country artist has topped the chart after a long vacancy for a traditionalist at the top spot.
Dale Watson is not only one of the most dedicated torchbearers and gatekeepers of authentic country music—or as he would prefer to call it, Ameripolitan—he also happens to be one of the most prolific. Dale will release an album on you with absolutely no warning, no press, no info, and if you blink you would miss it.
I’ll tell you exactly what’s going on with Zac Brown folks. He’s tired of just playing country and Southern rock, and he would sell out his entire career and fritter away all the cred he’s accrued with dedicated fans for going on two decades just for the chance to indulge his fancy that he can be some sort of power player in the weirdo hybrid EDM pop world.
Celebrating the #1 record in country this week with his Big Machine Records debut Sinner responsible for 39,000 copies sold, Aaron Lewis continues to try and walk a difficult line between being a major label country artist, a traditionalist who wants to talk smack on the industry, all while wearing the baggage of being the successful frontman of the rock band Staind.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Saving Country Music’s 2016 Americana Music Awards LIVE blog! As the festivities stream live from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, we’ll tag along to leave our observations, keep up with the winners, discuss the performances, and share what happened for those folks who missed it.
AmericanaFest is one of the biggest annual gathering of the tribes on the roots music calendar, and the crown jewel is the Americana Awards on the Wednesday of the festival week. This year Saving Country Music showed up early to take in the rehearsal for the festivities taking place at the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium.
With over 200 artists playing AmericanaFest this third week of September, it can be a little bit intimidating for the folks either looking to attend in person, or experience the gathering vicariously through various social channels and video streams. So here is a curated list of artists battle tested and approved by Saving Country Music.
AmericanaFest, Austin Lucas, Brent Cobb, Caitlyn Smith, Dori Freeman, Jason Eady, John Moreland, Lori McKenna, Luke Bell, Parker Millsap, Sammy Brue, Sarah Shook, Tami Neilson, The Secret Sisters, William Clark Green, Willie Watson
On the Bobby Bones Show Thursday (9-15) morning (listen at the bottom), Bobby spoke to Aaron Lewis after his recent blowup at pop country artists, and what did he do? Aaron backpeddled and admitted he was playing to the crowd. Then Bobby Bones finished his segment with Aaron Lewis on Thursday by bringing up Saving Country Music in a strange context.
“You have to always be conscious of the songs. I never want the songs to be too songwriterly or too clever,” Jason Aldean said in a recent interview. “I think you do have to make it, to some extent, black and white. The song has to say what it means and it means what it says. If you try to get too tricky with the lyrics, it gets confusing.
Modern music has so incredibly lost touch with what’s true and important about personal expression that most music listeners are left wondering if they’ll ever again hear music that touches them like their favorites did years before, or elicit a sense of wonder through the vehicle of soundscapes and story.