Jul
13

Charlie Louvin Finds Support in the Grass Roots

July 13, 2010 - By Trigger  //  News  //  6 Comments

Charlie LouvinLast week it was announced that Charlie Louvin who just turned 83, has been diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer. Charlie has a six hour surgery scheduled at the Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville on July 22nd, two days after his new album Hickory Wind : Live at the Gram Parsons Guitar Pull, Waycross GA is released.

Being the tough guy that Charlie is, he’s already planning to start touring again by August 21st if all goes right, and when he does, it will not be a big shot booking agency filling Charlie’s calendar, but an agency who books bands like Joe Buck and The .357 String Band, that being the Bucket City Agency.

Charlie Louvin, just like many aging country music greats, is finding a soft landing in the grass roots built by Outlaw and underground country artists. As radio support and media coverage dwindles, labels, booking agencies, and managers who are tooled to deal with smaller-sized performers rise up to meet the task. Many greats like Charlie are also finding that their fan base is filling with younger folks, and that they get better turnout at venues that typically cater to younger crowds and rock bands. Just like in the 70′s, when the Outlaws created a strange mix of cowboys and hippies, these older artists are mixing old with young fans.

And Charlie isn’t the only one. Bucket City also books the 90-year-old T-Model Ford. When Merle Haggard went to release his album If I Could Only Fly he did so under punk label Epitaph Records, home of the bands Bad Religion and Rancid. Charlie explained his issues with label and radio support in a must-read article by Juli Thanki:

“When I was on the road, people would say “I wish you’d record again.” So I’d go home, wipe the savings account out and record the CD. Of course, I’m too poor to send a copy to 3500 disc jockeys, and most radio stations won’t play an indie label period, no matter who sings it. So you see those same people a year later and they’d say “I thought you were going to put out a CD,” and I’d say, “I did, about nine months ago.””

“They don’t grade what they play by the quality of its content. They play it because the person who’s singing it is young, and cute…And it seems that the major labels own most of the radio stations…Radio is supposed to be a community project, and too many stations are getting their orders from somewhere else. And what New York City would like isn’t necessarily what Manchester, Tennessee would want to hear.”

When Hank Williams III first signed with Curb Records, they sent him to Branson to cut his country teeth. One of the acts he opened for was Charlie Louvin. Hank III later paid his respects by adding a portion of the Louvin Brothers gospel hit “Satan is Real” to the beginning of his song “Straight to Hell.”

Our thoughts are with Charlie and his family, and we look forward to seeing him back out on the road soon!

6 Comments to “Charlie Louvin Finds Support in the Grass Roots”

  • I pray a quick recovery for him. Great blog, Triggerman.

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  • Awww, poor Charlie. I too pray for a quick recovery for him. I met him in NYC many years ago. He was playing a bar there for free. He was such a sweetheart and he told me there were two places in the world he wanted to visit and had not yet had the opportunity – one was Russia and the other New Zealand. Both those places need him so Godspeed Charlie!

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  • Here is one from the insert to Merle Haggard: The Original Outlaw 3 disc set.
    “If we were in rock ‘n’ roll, they’d be playing us,” he said in 1995. “Eric Clapton and I are about the same age (and) they’re playing him on rock ‘n’ roll stations…In order to be played (on country radio) nowadays, you have to be singing about air. It’s got to have that goddamn line-dance tempo to it, and you’ve got to be under 40.”

    I’d say that about sums up the truth about radio and the respect the elder country singers get. I wish they’d get more respect.

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  • Charlie is smart for going w/Bucket City, and I hope he recuperates FAST….

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  • I saw Charlie live in a Small cafe & when i went in he was sitting on a couch watching tv & he signed my louvin brothers cd & told me storys & i’m a long haired 18 year old kid you could’nt ask for a nicer person one of the best live shows & he was 82 years old i’m prayin for Charlie

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  • [...] of Famer and member of the Grand Ole Opry for 55 years, is showing no signs of slowing down. And as first reported here, when he leaves on the road, he will not be playing the usual venues Hall of Famer’s play, [...]

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