Apr
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The Origins & Epicenters of Underground “Muddy” Roots

April 3, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  57 Comments

From the outside looking in, one may look at the lineup of The Muddy Roots Festival for example, and wonder how a throwback legend from Texas like Wayne “The Train” Hancock, a hillbilly punk freak from Tennessee like Joe Buck, a golden-throated singer from Michigan like Rachel Brooke, a crazy hellbilly songwriter from the Pacific Northwest like Bob Wayne, and a blues legend from Mississippi like T-Model Ford could all be booked right beside each other and it work seamlessly.

This illustrates the dramatic sonic and geographical diversity that goes into creating what we know now as the underground country roots, or “Muddy Roots” world. Below is a list of the disparate origins of Muddy Roots music that came together from a mutual understanding and appreciation of the roots of American music, and the epicenters where this music originated from and/or is thriving today.

ORIGINS:

The revitalization of Lower Broadway in Nashville.

In the early 90′s, lower Broadway street in downtown Nashville comprised the last bastion of old buildings that symbolized what Music City used to be. Overrun with dirty bookstores and titty bars, and The Grand Ole Opry’s original home The Ryman shuttered, young cowpunk and neo-traditionalist musicians like BR549, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, Hillbilly Casino, Greg Garing, and Joe Buck and Layla, commandeered lower Broadway and revitalized the strip into the tourist destination it is today. Emmylou Harris‘s legendary concert with the “Nash Ramblers” in 1994 also breathed new life into The Ryman, and later Hank Williams III would cut his teeth in lower Broadway venues like Layla’s Bluegrass Inn.

The fierce appreciation for country’s roots combined with an independent, punk mentality is what revitalized the most historic portion of downtown Nashville, and created the foundation for the blending of country, blues, and punk that Muddy Roots music would spring from.

Read more about lower Broadways revitalization: PART 1PART 2PART 3PART 4

 Outlaw Country

Not just Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, but Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson, and especially Tompall Glaser’s “Hillbilly Central” renegade studio in Nashville is the origin of the Outlaw spirit behind underground country roots, the “Do It Yourself” attitude to not allow labels to arrest creative control from the artists and to always respect the elders and traditions of the country genre while also allowing the music to innovate.

Punk

Underground country and Muddy Roots is very much a construct of the “post punk” music landscape. As punk music and scenes began to become stale or gentrify, punk artists and fans looking for the raw approach to music, and many times raised on traditional country and bluegrass, began to turn back to their own roots and put down their Flying V guitars for fiddles and banjos. This is where some of the fast, aggressive approach to roots music comes from, on both the country and the blues side, as well as the DIY spirit, and the grassroots approach to scene building and album production.

After Hank Williams III’s stint with the punk metal band Superjoint Ritual is when many punk and metal heads found themselves listening to country music again. In 2006, when Hank3 recorded his album Straight to Hell at home on a consumer-grade machine and put out an album with a Parental Advisory sticker on the front through one of Nashville’s major labels, many barriers were broke down and parameters set for how Muddy Roots music would evolve.

North Mississippi Hill Country Blues & Deep Blues

One of the reasons both country and blues music can work right beside each other in Muddy Roots is because in many cases they are both being infused with punk, just like artists Scott Biram and The Black Diamond Heavies do. Many times the infusion is with a very specific type of blues from the North Mississippi Hill Country, brought to the attention of the rest of the world by Fat Possum Records in the early 90′s, just about the same time lower Broadway in Nashville was being revitalized by young country punks.

One of the first events that put these like-minded blues and punk blues musicians all in one place, and included a few country-based artists as well was the Deep Blues Festival put on by Chris Johnson in Minnesota starting in the mid 2000′s. Deep Blues fest was where the relationship between blues, punk, and a deep appreciation for the roots of blues by young white musicians was codified.

Rockabilly

In a similar way to infusing both country and blues music with a punk edge and mentality, rockabilly artists in the early 90′s like The Reverend Horton Heat pioneered “pyschobilly”, a punk version of rockabilly. Just like their blues and country counterparts, they were neo-traditionalists, staunchly educated in and preservers of the roots of the music.

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EPICENTERS:

Part and parcel with the sonic diversity of underground country roots is the geographic diversity. Unlike many other past music movements that sprang up in specific geographical areas (or maybe in a few general areas, like East Coast vs. West Coast), Muddy Roots has epicenters all across the country as illustrated in the map below.

1. Tennessee (Nashville)

As explained above, Nashville has played the most vital role in the formation of underground country roots, from the Outlaw country music movement in the mid-70′s, to the revitalization of lower Broadway beginning in the mid-90′s, and today with the Muddy Roots Festival just an hour east in Cookeville, Nashville and Tennessee remain the major Muddy Roots epicenter, including the up-and-coming east Nashville, home to many venues supporting underground musicians, and the home of Hank Williams III, arguably the most important musician to the formation of a country music underground.

2. Austin, TX

As the”Live Music Capitol of the World” and a huge music town, Austin follows only Nashville in it’s importance to Muddy Roots music. Home to Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Scott Biram, Dale Watson, and many other underground roots musicians, as well as one of the epicenters of the original country music Outlaw movement and a lot of independent music infrastructure, Austin is a vital epicenter in underground roots.

3. The North Mississippi Hill Country

It’s not just any old blues that builds the nexus between blues and country into that unique underground roots concoction, it is a specific type of blues from the north Mississippi Hill Country. Fat Possum championed the sound of artists like RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, T Model Ford, and many others beginning in the early and mid 90′s. That sound has since been picked up and combined with punk by artists like Scott Biram, The Ten Foot Polecats, Restavrant, and The Black Keys to form what is more commonly referred to today as “Deep Blues”.

4. Michigan – (Detroit, Flint)

On the surface maybe one of the most unlikely epicenters for country and roots music is also possibly one of the most vibrant. The home base for artists like Whitey Morgan & The 78′s, Rachel Brooke, The Goddamn Gallows (Lansing), as well as a vibrant local scene with bands like Some Velvet Evening, Michigan has grown just about as many underground roots acts as anywhere else. To grow good roots bands you need support, and events like the legendary “Honky Tonk Tuesdays” at Club Bart in Ferndale created the community and collaboration that have allowed Michigan roots music to thrive.

5. The Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin)

The Upper Midwest is the proving ground for many early and influential Muddy Roots bands, including the Gothic country stalwarts Those Poor Bastards from Madison, WI, the premier punk/bluegrass .357 String Band from Milwaukee, and Trampled by Turtles from Duluth, MN. When you throw in Michigan as an Upper Midwest state as well, the region becomes one of the strongest in the country for roots music.

Minnesota was also the scene of the crime for the original Deep Blues Festivals, and is the home of Chris Johnson, the founder of Deep Blues, and the owner of Bayport BBQ, a blues-based venue near St. Paul. Along with Weber’s Deck in French Lake, MN, they make Minnesota an Upper Midwest roots haven.

6. Arizona (Phoenix)

It only seems appropriate that one of the places where Waylon Jennings began his legacy from would years later become an underground country epicenter. The original home of Hillgrass Bluebilly Records, and a must-stop for touring bands going to or coming from The West Coast, Phoenix feels like home for many, and is home to artists like Ray Lawrence Jr. , Junction 10, and “Valley Fever” every Sunday night at the Yucca Tap Room. Hillgrass Bluebilly events are where many underground roots artists would meet for the first time, sparking collaborations on albums and tours that created a coagulating effect in an otherwise spread-out movement.

7. The Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is like a factory for underground roots talent. Bob Wayne, Larry & His Flask, McDougall, James Hunnicutt, Hillstomp, and Brent Amaker are all from there, and the list goes on and on. And then when you start digging deeper, many artists who are now based out of other places originated from there, like some of the original members of BR549. Both Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson did time in the Pacific Northwest early in their careers. And we can’t forget the punk world’s Eddie Spaghetti and the Supersuckers started doing country side-projects in the late 90′s and collaborated with Steve Earle.

Bluegrass is big in the area, and there seems to be a kindred spirit between the rainy west and the deep South because of the rural life and landscape, and because many of the original settlers of the Northwest were originally from the South. With a population that tends to support the arts and music, and many specific neighborhoods and venues and festivals like Pickathon that cater to the roots scene, the Pacific Northwest is one of underground roots’ biggest power players.

8. Montana

Montana may look like a lowly outpost on the map, but it played a vital roll in the formation of underground roots in the mid to late oughts, specifically with a promotion company called Section 08 Productions putting together the “Murder in the Mountains” tours. By bringing together artists from all around the upper part of the country like Rachel Brooke, JB Beverley, .357 String Band, Bob Wayne, Slackeye Slim and others, they were one of the first to take the theoretical underground roots scene, and give it some substance. Section 08 Productions has since morphed into Farmageddon Records, and is still based in Montana.

 9 РCalifornia

California has always been the force in country music just behind Nashville and Texas, and that counts for underground country and roots as well. Where California played a key role in the formation of underground country was the interjection of punk influences and the transition of punk fans. Mike Ness of Social Distortion, Jon Doe and Exene Cervenka from the band X doing country side projects in the 80′s and 90′s is what led to the punk/country nexus. The Devil Makes Three from Northern California were one of the very first bands to bring a punk attitude to string music, The Pine Box Boys from San Francisco were one of the pioneers of Gothic bluegrass, and Los Duggans from LA were an important Deep Blues band.

10. North Carolina

Boasting some great music towns and big time roots music labels like Rusty Knuckles, Ramseur Records, and Yep Rock, North Carolina can make the case for itself as having the best music music scene and the most infrastructure right behind the big boys of Nashville and Austin. It also doesn’t hurt that one of the most successful roots acts in recent history, The Avett Bros., call North Carolina home.

11. Chicago, IL (Bloodshot Records)

Chicago will always be a big important part of underground roots as the home of Bloodshot Records. Bloodshot was one of the first labels to put their money where there mouth was in 1994, being “drawn to the good stuff nestled in the dark, nebulous cracks where punk, country, soul, pop, bluegrass, blues and rock mix and mingle and mutate.” As home to artists as important and wide ranging as Justin Townes Earle, Scott Biram, and Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Bloodshot Records’ impact and influence will always make Chicago a roots epicenter.

12. Central Florida

The scene in Central Florida is young, but burgeoning. Being the home of artists like the legendary Ben Prestage, Lone Wolf OMB, The Everymen, and many more, Florida is primed to become one of the underground country and roots hot spots.

13. Lawrence, Kansas

As a college town with a music school, Lawrence, KS is one of the best mid-sized music towns out there. Lawrence brings the support for live music, and not just for the usual college-town indie rock fare. It is home to bands like the long-running Split Lip Rayfield, and the high energy Calamity Cubes, and some of the coolest music venues you can find, like the Jackpot Music Hall, 8th St. Tap Room, and The Bottleneck.

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Other important epicenters: Little Rock, Arkansas, and specifically the legendary Whitewater Tavern. Bloomington, Indiana, a big music and roots town, and home to Austin Lucas, Davy Jay Sparrow, and many more. And Denver, CO, home to Slim Cessna’s Auto Club amongst many others.

57 Comments to “The Origins & Epicenters of Underground “Muddy” Roots”

  • Next year the Mid Atlantic/ Northeast, will be on this list. Laugh now but it will happen.

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    • True story!

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  • Actually, Farmageddon was founded in Baltimore Maryland, when Darren was living with Johnny Lawless. And Rebel Roots is based in Fayetteville NC these days. Was in Richmond VA until about a year ago.

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  • Awesome article, good stuff man

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    • yep. good stuff, trig.

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      • I really enjoy these type of articles.

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  • I’d like to humbly submit the Northeast at #14 whose artists among many others include myself, the Ten Foot Polecats and Angry Johnny and the Killbillies, who’ve been at it for years.

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    • I was going to put a disclaimer at the top of comments section, and got distracted when the server crashed, but I spent lots and lots of of hours putting this together as a helpful representative of the movement. It goes without saying there’s going to be some holes and probably some folks who feel unrepresented, but I had to draw the line somewhere, or I’d be working on it for weeks, and it would get so long nobody would want to read it. That makes a great #14 though, and you’re right, there are a lot of great bands from the Northeast that deserve just as much attention as the rest of the country.

      I also was going to point out that this article is not necessarily for the core fans of the underground country roots or “Muddy Roots” movement. I hope those people enjoy reading it as well, but it is more of a road map for people who may be on the outside looking in, or that are just getting into this type of music, to help them hopefully understand how everything relates. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to get too specific with anything.

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  • great article…i’ll take number five. Michigan needs to keep they’re heads on a swivel though,we’re comin for that four spot.

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    • I should have put this disclaimer somewhere, but the numbers don’t necessarily relate to which area is more important, they’re more just a legend for the descriptions below. Though I will say that Nashville and Austin are probably the biggest or most influential, and the ones near the end are the smaller ones. But at this point they’re all intertwined and inter-connected. The point of the map was I wanted people to think nationally, and locally at the same time. Understand they are part of something bigger, but that it all starts locally.

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      • right on

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  • Pretty damn cool. I can validate this by the fact that I ship band merch to all these areas the most. ;)

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  • also,
    I just went to an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame about the Bakersfield sound which was really the California sound. It’s primary focus was Merle and Buck but with strong respects to the folks they looked up to like Don Maddox, Rose Lee Maphis, Dallas Frazier, Red Simpson. Most those folks traveled to Cali after the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. Their style trickled down to folks like buck and Merle, then to Dwight Yoakam. That’s where I was first introduced to country as a kid living in California. I put it down for awhile and picked it back up with Hank 3 and took it full circle now that I live in Nashville. That is just one small segment of how this all makes sense to me personally and what we do with Muddy Roots Music. Now I am obsessed with the old stuff.

    Nashville has changed my life. This place is amazing.

    -Jason Galaz

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    • ‘california cotton fields’.

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    • Dwight Yoakam is a guy that doesn’t really get his due. He was “saving country music” before it was a cool thing to do. He played with punk bands and kept a rootsy sound even when he started appearing on MTV. He sprung from California, so he never really fit the country music mold of the 90′s. I think because he is an actor now, people discount his music. Kris Kristofferson had a pretty big acting career, too.

      Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room is on regular rotation with me.

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      • I think Dwight Yoakam is nothing short of a country music legend. You’re right, his foray into acting in the last 5 years and the lack of any new material I think has helped him slip off the musical radar a bit recently, but that may be on purpose. Over the 5 years of Saving Country Music, most of the instances I’ve had to talk about him had to do with acting roles. But he’s got a new album coming out, and a big connection with this Bakersfield Sound exhibit the Hall of Fame is doing, and I think he’s ready to re-emerge big. It had gotten to the point where the radio wasn’t playing him anymore, and he’d downsized from arena shows to country fairs and casinos, and I think he needed to disappear a little bit and come back as a “legend” instead of someone trying to hold on to being big time. Now if Hank Jr. would follow that path, maybe we could like him again.

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  • I’m in Central Florida and we have plenty of talent and ambition here. What is holding the scene back is lack of good venues. Everything is so corporate and tourist driven that the smaller clubs didn’t survive. The ones that did unfortunately went the dance club route. H.O.B and The Hard rock do a decent job of allowing local talent a chance. But who wants to go to Universal or Disney to party. There are still a couple places holding on over near Tampa. But not enough for the scene to flourish. There has actually been a very big music scene in Central Florida. And back in the 90′s you could throw a rock in any direction and hit a Rock, Country, or Hard Core club. I dare say we had some of the best Hard Core clubs south of Ground Zero in Spartanburg. But corporate money and law enforcement really put the breaks on it. There was the whole rave club thing happening and they lumped all music and B.Y.O.B. clubs together and shut most of them down. Fern Park Station and The F.B.I. were legendary. The Station is a dance club and F.B.I is a dentist office.

    Sorry for the rant.

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    • Hey man, I live in Polk County and it’s even more terrible here than the Orlando and Tampa localities. People are so enamored by garbage pop country (and like you said the dance club bullshit) it’s ridiculous. There’s is so much good talent around here but like you said, nowhere to showcase it….

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  • I live 40 minutes from Flint, a little over an hour from Detroit and an hour and a half from Lansing. I’m in prime position to go see pretty much any underground band that comes through. Now if only I could get some gas and cover charge money lol.

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    • Hey Johnnyboy, we (Black Jake & the Carnies) and Delaney Davidson (from New Zealand) are opening up for Possessed by Paul James at Woodruff’s in Ypsilanti on Friday, June 29th. You should come check it out, and I’ll put you on the guestlist if you can’t do the $7 cover.

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      • Hey man, I appreciate the offer and I’d usually take you up on it, but I’m gonna be in the western UP from May until August. You guys play sometime after that though and I’ll show up.

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      • We drive up for a lot of the MI shows…and Ft. Wayne didn’t make this list but we hit the Rail a lot too if we are ready to drive to a show. Devilyn and Aaron make it a good time every time we are there. I look forward to seeing Delaney and Konrad at DBF 2012 in MN, will you be there too?

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        • Hey KAK, we’re not going to be at DBF this year, but we’re hitting the Rail April 27th and looking forward to it.

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  • Nice to see the Detroit area up there!

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  • GREAT ARTICLE TRIGGERMAN…….

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  • I totally agree with what you said about the pacific northwest. I grew up there and it is a very ‘countrified’ place. My mom and my grandparents moved up there from Arkansas and we would visit there all the time and there were always relatives staying with my grandparents. You aren’t going to find anywhere more rural than eastern Washington, farms, vineyards, orchards, hop yards, etc. Small towns all over the place and yes, country music and bluegrass everywhere. Heck, I used to live on a dirt road, I just don’t need to listen to music that proclaims that fact in order to feel more ‘country’. :P

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  • I’d so love to see Memphis back on the map. We have the talent but lack the support and organization.

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  • Nice to see NC getting some love

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  • Damn great article. The roots are where we plant the trees, so lets make it all 50 states, then go world wide.

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  • Great article. I was wondering why punk is in the lineup in festivals like Muddy Roots. I personally never cared for punk music and I was confused why saving country music mentioned bands that sound more punk like the Goddam Gallows or the Reverend Horton Heat. I am more in tune to liking purer folk, blues, and country rather than fuse it to another genre. But to see how some of these ex punk rockers like the Lonesome Wolf OMB take the old stuff and turn it into a raging beast of banjo jams, I cant help but find punk to be a suitable genre for them to pay homage too.

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    • Granted, there are many acts in “Muddy Roots” that have absolutely no punk influence, especially the “neo-traditionalist” bands (hate that term, but it works so well) like Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Dale Watson, BR549, and Lucky Tubb. Ralph Stanley and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot are playing Muddy Roots for example, and have nothing to do with punk music. Punk music is not the glue that binds Muddy Roots together, it is the appreciation for the roots of American music. It just happens to be you find more appreciation for those roots in old punks fans and bands these days than you do most mainstream country acts and fans.

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      • Your absolutely right Triggerman. I wish I can get more rockers to appreciate this type of music though. Some people might be suprised that most people that are over 35 or so who listens to country or blues love every band I show them, from the neo traditionalist dept atleast. I havent yet to meet anyone who use to listen to country or blues to turn down the type of music you all are promoting. Even my old man digs the new stuff I found on this website. I feel these bands would make a whole lot more money if you guys had the marketing money that major corporations have. There would be a huge cultural renaissance. For me,I have more difficult time finding people my age or younger who like our type of music. Thats probably why I go outside of civilization and drink in the old saloons with all the old roughnecks and cowboys rather than peers my own age.

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  • Lovely, Trig. I’m digging this! Now I want someone to make some sort of a “constellation” map of artists and their influences to go along with your regional map. What I think we will see, when accounting for the historical influences many of these bands might site as their own legacies, is an odd crossover of favorites, musical inspirations, and those who they tip their hat to. This could actually be the start to a book if you are ever interested in doing something like that? I’d help you out if you would like. Nice work! :)

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    • No coffee yet…sorry…site as their own influences…or seem themselves as a legacy of…

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      • *see…ugh…I need caffeine.

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        • A book would be a great idea. Something along the lines of ” Rebirth of Western Civilization” as follow up of sorts the the Decay of Western Civilization Docs from the eighties. I think that you would find two very prominent themes through out. The first being that people who make great music really only site two genres of music. Good music and bad music. And it would reach back into extremely diverse areas that most people wouldn’t expect. And the second being the internet as the greatest tool to ever come along that not only frees the spirit of music back into an art form. But also to reach the masses in a way that old road dog musicians never could have imagined. Now if we can just manage to keep the corporations and our government from robbing us of this new frontier, we just may be on the way to a true rebirth of music as an art form rather than a business.

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          • I actually envision a first person documentary along the lines of Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, where a sociologist traces the origins of underground country with a flow chart/family tree. There would be interviews with artists and fans and footage of festivals. I’d watch that all day. It could also reach a much wider audience.

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          • Love these ideas! I’m finishing up my PhD and I teach anthropology so I have “credentials” (these and a buck will get me a cup of coffee maybe?) But I’d be more than happy to help out with this if anyone has the urge to do it. I think Nick Lindsay and Nobrow productions would be awesome to do a video to accompany it too! :) But I couldn’t do it on my own, I’d need a team of interested folks on board to pull it off. I think we have some time. This is a baby beluga…it has a while before it becomes a full fledged whale…which is cool, you know?

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  • One more thing…Ted Drozdowski would be a great person to interview or to get to write a part of a story of historical influences and legacies. When he and Matt (The Scissormen) stayed with me last week, we sat around talking music history for hours. The man is an encyclopedia of musical history!

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  • For me, BR-549 first got me into this kind of music in the late 90′s. My “big three” are BR-549, The Rev, and Hank III. They are the innovators that first brought the kind of music I now love to my ears.

    I truly believe the internet has made it possible to spread this music countrywide. Once we broke free from listening to what we were force-fed on the radio, artistic liberty started to breath again.

    I live in the Northeast and there are, no doubt, some great bands that come from here. However, my feeling is that the “scene” is full of people that will go to shows and buy CDs, etc. but lack the dedicated cultivation of this kind of music. The Northeast is also full of the NPR-music crowd, which is just not as “muddy” as it is “rootsy.”

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    • I grew up in around all different types of great music. That truly is one of the greatest things about being southern. But all through my teens I was mostly into Metal (the heavier and faster, the better) Heavy Southern Rock, and Blues. What made me start digging deeper into the Honky Tonk, Rockabilly, Troubadour type of sound was Dwight Yokam and Jr. Brown. And its been an awesome journey since. I listen t every thing now, Well everything that has actual musicians actually playing music. Hip Hop/ Rap/ Electronic just does nothing for me. But once you are blessed with that spark what real music from the soul feels like. It is hard to let any ridiculous marketing genre B.S. stop you from hunting down what touches your soul.

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    • Funny thing for me is that I discovered Gary Bennett single before BR 549. I heard a song of his off of outlaw country sirus xm, and was hooked.

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  • What about Lucky Tubb?

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    • What about Luck Tubb?

      He’s a great artist and a good dude. This wasn’t necessarily about artists. I only mentioned a few for examples.

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    • hey N.O.D.,
      I was wondering the same thing… haha.. Where is Lucky? its good to see he has a big draw on this site.
      I get what Trigg was trying to do. this article is not to promote the bands but rather the movement itself. I know trigg will not argue with me in saying that Tubb is a big part of the movement in terms of keeping the old school country vibe alive. You have bob wayne and unfortunatly hank III nowadays infusing heavy rock/ metal into their tunes. I dont care for that stuff. If i put the cd in and i have an instant urge to turn it up and tap the ole’ toe, its good stugg in my book. Lucky Tubb, Rachel Brooke, Jayke Orivs, James Hunnicutt, Caitlin Rose, Joseph Huber, (cant say enough about Huber, man) anything .357, and the list goes on…
      trigg did a great job on this article. i always knew nashville and austin where the two big hitters if you will.
      even though Ohio didnt make it on the list, I know when we get the folks I mentioned above, its an all out honky tonk good time!

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  • [...] De geweldige site Saving Country Music¬†heeft vandaag een artikel geplaatst wat een geweldige¬†introductie is voor de ‘beginnende’ alt. country liefhebber. Geniet en leer van deze strakke, volledige introductie. [...]

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    • I have no idea what you said but…. I agree… i think…..

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  • I love this article Trig, reminds me of the movie American Hardcore were they do a video history of all the underground punk scenes by location..Boston, NYC, DC, Indianapolis, etc.

    The epicenters you have listed all have a history behind them, but it was a history mainly built by the fans in that area who wanted this type of music to come through the area and then it develops into something bigger. The same thing can be done in other areas too. Like James Keyes mentioned above, up here in New England we are trying to do the same…it will take some time but it took time to develop these epicenters as well.

    Maybe you revisit this next year and there will be more areas noted.

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  • Rad article.. Cant talk about Kansas without talking about the amazing crowd thats waiting for musicians in Wichita, Kansas (where i spend most of my downtime) and in Kansas City! The family of music lovers there is amazing. and so supportive of original music. I dare anyone not to have a good time Playing at Kirby’s Beer store or Davie’s Uptown! not to mention the epic gathering of the tribes commonly refered to as Winfield, which is actually the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Fest. I implore everyone in our family of music lovers to check it out. Love ya”ll.
    Joey Henry
    The Calamity Cubes!

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    • I agree with you on Kansas City Joey, we played at Davey’s with Molly Gene in 2009…some of the most fun we have ever had. We are going to have to get to Kansas one of these days – sooner rather than later.
      - Jim/Ten Foot Polecats

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    • i hear you JOEY!

      Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club
      Kirby’s Beer Store
      WINFILED aka Walnut Valley Festival CAMPGROUNDS

      some of the best music i’ve ever heard have gone through those places…

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  • Thanks for the info Trig. I’ve been curious and have noticed there were certain areas of the country most of the underground country bands originate from. I’m glad you summarized it for us. To me is sorta similiar to “red dirt” music even though red dirt music is more localized to Oklahoma and Texas. I find it interesting where majority of bands learn their style or sound based on where they are from.

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  • while i love that you mentioned one of my favorite places in the world (LAWRENCE, KANSAS) in this article, the bands that you mentioned as being “from” lawrence, were both in fact, started in Wichita, KS and not lawrence. these days, both bands, simply claim KANSAS as home.

    It is worth being mentioned that Chuck Mead and other members of BR549 did, indeed, claim lawrence (and other parts of kansas) for home for some time.

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  • What no love for Deep Ellum? Adairs, Allgood Cafe? Son’s of Herman Hall? I know that Deep Ellum is known as a blues/rock area but I see the best Honky Tonk music in Dallas there. With the likes of Mo Robson, Eleven Hundred Springs, Cody Jinks, Heath Webb, The King Bucks, and Grant Jones. All great bands with great original songs.

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    • Those are all great venues and great bands, but what I was trying to do here was tie many of the bands and styles you will find represented at the Muddy Roots Festival together and explain their disparate origins. I’m a big fan of both The King Bucks and Eleven Hundered Springs, but I would put them firmly as part of the Texas scene, or the Dallas scene specifically. Many of the bands and epicenters I highlighted above grew out of the lower Broadway scene in Nashville and the Deep Blues movement. I can’t really find any way to tie either of those bands to those origins and influences.

      I hope this makes sense.

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  • I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and I just have a quick correction to make to this post. It is true that a significant number of the settlers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley during the Oregon Trail days of the 1840s and 1850s were from the South. However, these Southern settlers were overwhelmingly from the Upland South (i.e. Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, and some from Tennessee), not the Deep South. In fact, less than 10% of the Southern settlers in Oregon were from the Deep South, according to both the 1850 and the 1860 census data.

    This would actually support your theory regarding the popularity of bluegrass in the Pacific Northwest better, since bluegrass is primarily the music of Appalachia and the Upland South, not that of the Deep South.

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