L.A. Weekly Slams Legacy Americana Artists in “10 Lamest Americana Acts” List
So apparently Americana and some of its top artists aren’t above criticism by a major media outlet. This is what the independent country and Americana communities had to face down on Friday (3-31) when an author by the name of Jonny Whiteside writing for L.A. Weekly published an article slamming some of Americana’s elite, including Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, and Shovels & Rope. Sam Outlaw, Jack Grelle, Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Red Dirt’s Jason Boland & The Stragglers, The Devil Makes Three, and Robert Ellis also found strong rebuke in the list-erific “10 Lamest Americana Acts.”
No, I’m not going to link to it here, because that would be irresponsible. But I’m sure you will seek it out. The L.A. Weekly editors are expecting you to. That’s why they posted it.
The first time I heard the name Jonny Whiteside, I was visiting the tiny home of Don Maddox just outside of Ashland, Oregon in 2012. Don Maddox is the last surviving member of The Maddox Brothers and Rose, and arguably the oldest living country legend in existence. While interviewing Don Maddox, I bemoaned how so much of his family history had gone unchronicled, when his wife handed me a copy of Ramblin’ Rose: The Life and Career of Rose Maddox. It was first published in 1997—a year before Rose Maddox passed away—and was the winner of the 1998 ARSC Award. The author was Jonny Whiteside.
Along with authoring another book on Johnnie Ray, recently posting an L.A. Weekly feature on Dwight Yoakam, and numerous other historical articles on country music and beyond, Jonny Whiteside regularly organizes a monthly showcase in Los Angeles at Viva Cantina with the theme of keeping the legacy of older music greats alive. In March the showcase was a Red Simpson tribute, and the legendary James Intveld was one of the performers, along with Red’s son David Simpson.
So the idea that this Jonny Whiteside guy is a snot-nosed Johnny-come-lately Millennial Los Angeles hipster angry that Vice wouldn’t give him a forum for his snarky bullshit is just not true. The fact that Whiteside has been working for years to help save country music and good American music in general makes this entire exercise that much more tough to stomach. Though I have never met Whiteside personally, he’s part of the extended family, and known for being overly opinionated, and a staunch supporter of the music.
The other part that’s hard to take is that portions of what Whiteside asserts is totally correct, and everybody knows it. Gillian Welch is a Manhattan-born and Los Angeles–raised artist trying to make authentic Appalachian music. Wayne “The Train” Hancock has been doing the same music with little to no variance for over 20 years. Jason Isbell can be boring and melodically-challenged to people who don’t appreciate music for the sheer poetry. And Lucinda Williams has been whining into microphones for over three decades.
But what Whiteside glosses over is the contributions all of these artist have made in their moments that have moved the canon of American music forward so incredibly. They could release white noise for decades to come and still deserve respect. It’s easy, and frankly, lazy, to only select out the character flaws or compromises to someone’s authenticity and shine a spotlight on those attributes while carefully avoiding to touch any and all of the moments of indelible greatness these artists have contributed to culture. Ultimately, shouldn’t this be more about the music as opposed to where someone is from, or what authenticity they may or may not have? Authenticity can be a great asset to music, but the music should still speak for itself.
Just take Wayne Hancock for example. I understand how someone could listen to his music and think it is all time stamped and anachronistic, and not worthy of ears in 2017. But if you had spent even a few minutes in the company of Wayne, you would know that this is a man that is completely lost in time, and sings from this by-gone perspective because it’s the only way he can relate to the modern world. Making fun of Wayne Hancock is tantamount to slagging the handicapped, and in print. Wayne Hancock can’t help but be himself, and Jonny Whiteside and L.A. Weekly seem to persecute him for that.
Criticism is a necessary and important part of the creative environment, and frankly, Americana has been able to skirt by virtually untouched by such pointed criticism previously, probably to an unfair degree because it’s the home to some many critically-acclaimed artists. The genre has been on an incredible run over the last couple of years, and continues to become a strong alternative to the mainstream, showing a clear ability to launch stars, and increase market share in a competitive environment.
With that success comes an elevated level of scrutiny, and this L.A. Weekly article is an example of that. Some think it’s now safe to criticize Americana because it is somewhat insulated by its success. We’ve seen this in the specific careers of Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and Chris Stapleton recently. To independent artists, sometimes the biggest adversity to their careers is success, because to some independent-minded fans, accomplishment is uncool. There is some mediocrity and monotone boring-ness within the ranks of Americana artists, including some of the most successful ones, and including some of the ones on Whiteside’s list. But to present a laundry list of grievances without any context of accomplishment or influence is irresponsible to readers, to the music, and to the communities both L.A. Weekly and Americana represent.
L.A. Weekly accomplished what they wanted to accomplish, which was to get people to click, and talk about it. This very article, and others that may proceed it only helps their cause. So they win, and all of these artists lose, especially someone like Jack Grelle, who is small enough that when folks go to Google his name for the next few months, they’re going to find themselves on this L.A. Weekly article as opposed to a feature on him in No Depression. It sucks for Sam Outlaw, who yeah, may have taken his mother’s maiden name for his stage name, but just had a child, and is trying to support a young family through music.
To Jason Isbell, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, or even someone like The Devil Makes Three, this article will be a popcorn fart compared to their legacy. But to others, it will be a blemish from the biggest periodical that’s ever written about them. Yes, Saving Country Music criticizes artists as well. Just today Thomas Rhett’s stage presence was compared to that of a cinder block. But this won’t materially influence Thomas Rhett’s ability to support his family, and it’s presented in the context of music as opposed to a list with a slanted perspective and agenda.
The worst part about this entire episode might be that one of the legacy outlets of American independent music—that being the Voice Media Group (formerly The Village Voice), which owns L.A. Weekly and other alternative newsweekly rags—has succumb to these awful clickbait stories, and has become an enemy as opposed to a champion of independent art. This includes The Dallas Observer, which recently asserted that Merle Haggard didn’t want country music to be saved, and that Sturgill Simpson never considered his music country, and once predicted the death of Justin Townes Earle. This includes The Houston Press whose posted stupid stories attacking the fictitious Wheeler Walker Jr. for misogyny, and other embarrassing episodes.
In the world of ad blockers and viral content farms, independent music journalism must succumb to clickbait to survive. If you do go to the L.A. Weekly site, you will immediately be bombarded with an autonomous popup ad in a new browser window, and a full-page click-thru ad before you can even get to the actual article, which itself is flanked and bisected with intrusive advertising. Then the article is divided on two separate pages to double the amount of clicks registered on the site to drive up additional ad revenue. It’s also worth pointing out that Voice Media Group helped launch backpage.com, which according to a Senate committee, knowingly facilitated prostitution and child sex trafficking. Though the two businesses are now separate, it shows the “click at all costs” attitude at the heart of these outlets.
Websites so heavily-loaded with ads damage internet equilibrium by encouraging readers to download even heavier ad blockers, robbing other sites (like Saving Country Music) that have sworn to keep the reading space clean of ads from important ad revenue, causing an arms race where sites keep having to add more ads, while readers continue to get bigger ad blockers to counter them. This is one of the reasons so many of your favorite music blogs have disappeared recently.
There is no winner to this Jonny Whiteside, L.A. Weekly article. Even the click boost L.A. Weekly will receive will be short-lived, while the business model for the American alternative-newsweekly still remains unsound, and now robbed of angry Americana readers. All the more reason to adhere to a few simple principles of responsible journalism in hopes the tide will shift in an era when people are more and more seeking out truth and responsible content.
Ironically, just like all lists, L.A. Weekly uses the star power of the artists named in their “10 Lamest Americana Acts” to promote themselves, no different than Rolling Stone Country and others do in lists of artists with a more positive slant. Lame or not, these Americana artists are important enough to garner a strong reaction from the public and cause a viral episode. And the legacy of many, if not all of the artists listed by Jonny Whiteside, are very likely to outlast outlets like L.A. Weekly, or Saving Country Music for that matter. Because ultimately it’s all about the music, and that was what was lost on L.A. Weekly.
March 31, 2017 @ 7:02 pm
I read that article, I thought it was a parody. No body in their right mind can honestly think that way about such an accomplished artist like Lucinda Williams.
April 2, 2017 @ 11:46 am
I agreed wholeheartedly with that one. I also laughed when reading about artists I like and respect. I think he’s trying too hard with his writing though. No one really has an ordinary vocabulary that includes half the words he uses in each hit.
March 29, 2021 @ 2:55 am
No…she sucks musically. Her lyrics have depth but the singing…ugh.
March 31, 2017 @ 7:20 pm
Your point about the effect of an article like this on an artist who hasn’t broken through is really important. This is something that will seen by booking agents, promoters, record labels, content folks at the streamers, managers of headliners looking for support acts etc etc.
Of course, worrying about the effect a negative opinion will have on a career shouldn’t dissuade a writer from sharing their honest opinion. But if the point of the article is a hit piece on an entire genre, why not go after the lumineers, averts, Mumford etc instead of doing real harm to developing acts? It doesn’t make any sense, unless their is a personal grudge.
Anyway here is a link to Lucinda singing “Side of the Road” which is very close to a perfect song:
April 1, 2017 @ 7:05 am
We can only hope that such people will dismiss Whiteside as a mean spirited asshole. I mean, I know nothing about Jack Grelle’s music, but “Muppet-on-steroids whiskers ?” That right there is enough for me to dismiss Whiteside’s opinion on Grelle’s music.
March 31, 2017 @ 7:51 pm
back from the bars (jesus what a mess)
haven’t read the article
some “Americana” is ponderous bullshit, and
some is exquisite
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings probably give more of a shit about Appalachian music than most dumbass brocountry barflies from there, so eff you Whiteside
Wayne Hancock doesn’t need to change because his musical forms and killer guitar players don’t *need* to change, you soulless egghead
I’ll grant you snark about Lucinda, whose voice is undistinguished and is appreciated mostly because it’s so bruised and unlovely and remains confined to that range
I hope Whiteside is not such a dumbass that he thinks these three acts even remotely represent so large a group as “Americana”
oh, and while we’re at it, f*** LA
long past its sell-by date
the bars tonight had everything from full-throated silly washtub bass and kazoo to commercial sideways tractor sexy shake it for me that line dancing girls mouthed the words to, as if they were cheap apartment yoga chicks with wan and fading hopes
it’s commerce vs. art, always has been
March 31, 2017 @ 8:05 pm
I’m not sure the argument, it’s only fair to criticize artists who won’t be materially affected is really a good one. And frankly not one this site had practiced. Yeah obviously Thomas Rhett won’t be, but Lauren aliana is far from an established arrest, Kane brown and others.
Welcome to the mainstream Americans, where the “cool” thing is to drag you. I hate click bait
March 31, 2017 @ 8:21 pm
I’ve never wanted to punch a writer more than Jonny Whiteside today. I too wrote something about him for my website.
April 1, 2017 @ 7:26 am
March 31, 2017 @ 8:22 pm
When did Jason Boland become Americana?
March 31, 2017 @ 10:56 pm
March 31, 2017 @ 8:29 pm
I don’t listen to a lot of the artists on the list but I don’t understand his criticism of The Devil Makes Three. I really liked “I’m a Stranger Here” and it’s a staple in my musical rotation. I can understand the criticism of Jason Isbell’s melodies and voice but I quite like him anyway. I think his voice works on a lot of his songs but other times it just doesn’t. I really think this guy’s reviews consist of too many adjectives and not enough explanation. I guess I wasn’t expecting him to go too in depth either so whatever.
March 31, 2017 @ 8:31 pm
Although “Lame” is harsh and not deserving, Overrated would be a better premise for Whiteside’s article. There’s only one artist on the list that I’ll outright defend and that’s Jason Isbell. I love Lu and Gillian Welch, but I get his points. I’d add Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Rodney Crowell, Gram Parsons, and Wilco/Son Volt/ Tweedy/ Billy Bragg/ Jay Farrar on a rebranded overrated list.
March 31, 2017 @ 9:01 pm
Dude may well be a staunch supporter of the music, but I gotta admit, it’s pretty damn difficult if not impossible to take somebody seriously who says the horrible things he did about Jason Boland and the Stragglers, let alone the rest of what he said in that shit article.
March 31, 2017 @ 9:24 pm
Any chance this is a Aprils fools joke article?
March 31, 2017 @ 9:50 pm
Some people have floated this idea, but Jonny Whiteside is known for this kind of inflammatory opinion sharing, and apparently L.A. Weekly has been posting similar stories for a while now. Also, it’s not April 1st yet, so this would be a pretty severe disrespect of the rules. As someone who posted plenty of fake news stories in my time, I avoid Amateur Day.
April 1, 2017 @ 2:25 am
I wonder if those bastards at L.A. Weekly have the guts to write an article titled “10 Lamest Country Artists”. But no, they are scared because they know that all those stupid Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett fans will turn against them.
April 1, 2017 @ 3:09 am
Lucinda’s first album was a collection of covers, so whatever complaining she did when she first appeared was second hand, from people like Robert Johnson, the Carters, and Hank Williams. Following from that, the opening track of Happy Woman Blues is… relatively upbeat! Now, I can maybe understand why someone could level those complaints about her latest work (though I like it a lot), because she’s recently started laying her drawl on heavy. I hardly think however that a song like Pineola could be described as petty whining, or Sweet Old World. Seems like he’s made a caricature Lucinda Williams to vent his spleen against.
April 1, 2017 @ 6:43 am
I think the albums Lucinda Williams, Sweet Old World and Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is a three album run for the ages. And as much as CWOAGR gets hyped in the roots music world, I’d still have to say it’s just about my favorite album of the last 25 to 30 years. She’s been a bit hit or miss ever since, but good enough that I keep buying her albums (which is more than I can see for some of all time favorites like Emmylou and Bruce).
April 1, 2017 @ 3:45 am
Johnny Whiteside knocks it out of the park with this list!! Brilliant satire. So accurate!
April 1, 2017 @ 4:07 am
Never heard of this guy, but he’s really got Lucinda’s number, that’s for sure…
April 1, 2017 @ 4:17 am
“10 Lamest Americana Acts”Lucinda lame??? That doesn’t even deserve an answer
And this comment about Gillian Welch it’s just awful and at least in my mind an attack on her as a person:
“Appalachian snake oil, Welch has achieved unchallenged stature as one of the most reliable frauds in the business. Hell, she makes Carrie Underwood sound like Mother Maybelle Carter”.
She has more or less devoted her life to Country/Americana she deserves better than that..
And Jason Isbell boring/lame?. “Southestern” and “Something More Than Free” may be low key which may be boring to some people. But not to me and why does all music have to be “punch in the stomach”?
And boring/lame are very personal views I even know of people who find Waylon boring and lame…Why? Because they think that all Country music is boring…
April 1, 2017 @ 5:27 am
Oddly enough Gillian Welch’s birth mother was evidently from the Appalachia, although obviously that had no bearing on her upbringing. She’s a great songwriter anyway, which authenticity alone can’t really accommodate for.
April 1, 2017 @ 6:35 am
Apparently, Ricky Skaggs is one of the dummies that bought the snake oil. The first time he ever heard Gillian’s gospel song By The Marks, he pulled his car over to the side of the road and started to cry. How Ralph Stanley ever let a sap like that into his band is what I want to know, 😉
April 1, 2017 @ 7:29 am
“Apparently, Ricky Skaggs is one of the dummies That Bought the snake oil …”
I hope that comment was meant to be ironic … 🙂
April 1, 2017 @ 6:49 am
Hell, she makes Carrie Underwood sound like Mother Maybelle Carter”.
And for that line right there, he’s just a hyperbolic asshole. Not to mention that it was Sara Carter that did the lead singing in the Carter Family and Maybelle is more known for her guitar picking.
April 1, 2017 @ 7:30 am
“Hell, she makes Carrie Underwood sound like Mother Maybelle Carter… …Not to mention that it was Sara Carter that did the lead singing in the Carter Family and Maybelle is more known for her guitar picking”
I was thinking exactly the same thing….:-)
April 1, 2017 @ 6:16 am
Making fun of Florida Georgia Line is tantamount to slagging the handicapped. Florida Georgia Line can’t help but be Bro-Country, and you seem to persecute them for that.
April 1, 2017 @ 9:05 am
Look, I understand that some can look at my rebuttal and find some hypocrisy here. Yes, I have made a career out of criticizing artists, mostly mainstream, but some independent. But believe it or not, I always try to find something good to say about a song or album, even if I hate it, just as I try to find something wrong with something I love. Sometimes those things just aren’t there, and a song is either totally band or completely flawless, but usually there is a counterpoint to every opinion, and it is a sign of respect to present that as well, and this is what is fundamentally wrong with the L.A. Weekly article.
You mention Florida Georgia Line. I once gave their song “Dirt” Two Guns Up, and still pay the price from purists for it. Whenever I criticizing music, I do it around albums or songs, not just lists of artists like Jonny Whiteside did. I can understand if someone like Lucinda Williams is not Whiteside’s favorite. That is his opinion, and that’s fair. But there isn’t one worthy contribution Lucinda Williams has made in nearly four decades of performing? You think all she does is whine? How about citing that she wrote “Passionate Kisses” for example?
Reducing these artists’ entire careers to fodder for your dumbass internet list is a disrespect of the music space. If Whiteside would have posted the “10 Lamest Americana Songs,” I could find a lot more respect for it.
April 1, 2017 @ 10:45 am
I actually agree very closely with you on FGL (Dirt is very good, 1-2 others are decent, rest is junk), but I think it helps to see how their fans may perceive you (or pick just about any other mainstream artist). Maybe they would argue that Jonny Whiteside doesn’t appreciate Lucinda Williams’s music and style the same way you don’t respect their style.
I will admit that I am ignorant on a lot of Americana, but from what I gather you do not dispute the facts of the article, just that it doesn’t balance all of the bad with any of the good. Well, he gave fair warning of the negative slant with the title no different than you have your rant articles (many of which I’m sure you don’t always say anything good about a person/album/song).
Enjoy your work, just want to give a different viewpoint of how your words may be interpreted. Can’t wait for your ACM live blog tomorrow!
April 1, 2017 @ 4:47 pm
I wonder if they had any say in their upcoming duet with the damned Backstreet Boys, at the acm awards tomorrow night. Someone needs to investigate this as a case of handicap abuse, as I can’t imagine any free thinking human being, in any genre of music, who would think it a good idea to do a duet with the Backstreet Boys…..especially in 2017 when their is absolutely nothing to be gained from a career or exposure standpoint by associating yourself with teeny boppers who have been washed up for 2 decades.
April 1, 2017 @ 6:57 am
I love this notion that the Grammys love Jason Isbell. What, because he won a couple of Grammys in out of the mainstream categories last year? Never mind that he got criminally overlooked for Southeastern a couple of years earlier.
April 1, 2017 @ 7:09 am
I don’t agree with this dude, but l have to rember, opinions are like assholes, every body has one.
April 1, 2017 @ 7:11 am
I’m happy to whitelist a site like this for straightforward ads, but I still don’t want to do it for social media trackers.
April 1, 2017 @ 7:12 am
“Lamest Musical Writer in America – Jonny Whiteside”
– Sam Cody
How the hell does a blabbering idiot like that get to have a career in writing?!?!?! Seriously! I don’t even necessarily disagree with him on many of the points he made…but…I had to read some of those sentences twelve times to figure out what the point was!
I’ve never read anything by him before, but regardless of previous content, would never do it again. It’s almost as if his editor gave him an amount of words the article had to be, he only had 10 words of content, so he just through in random bullshit adjectives to fill the space. No natural flow or meaning to his writing whatsoever – just rambling bullshit that he probably dictated into his iPhone while jerking off in the shower.
This guy can’t write well enough to get a job at IKEA writing furniture assembly instructions, but somehow got hired by LA WEEKLY!?!?! He must have compromising photos of somebody…
Even though Trigger here at SCM, at times, writes things I completely disagree with, I can at least always count on it being well thought out, and well written. This Whiteside character… what the hell?
April 1, 2017 @ 7:13 am
* THREW in
April 1, 2017 @ 7:54 am
I have to respectfully disagree with the argument that the L.A. Weekly article lacks legitimacy because it glosses over these artists’ contributions. Reviews are opinions, and just like you often post harsh reviews here, because you judge music from your perspective and understanding, other critics who disagree with you have the same right.
Ultimately, readers will look at what reviewers are saying and listen to the ones who seem to have something worthy to say. Again, that’s subjective, but so is art. I’m here because I like your perspective on country music and find it worthy, and because you have introduced me to artists I like, and I’m not reading L.A. Weekly. I mean, I agree with you on your critical perspective and not with Jonny Whiteside, but others will disagree, and denying them legitimacy to voice their opinion is pointless.
April 1, 2017 @ 9:09 am
“Reviews are opinions, and just like you often post harsh reviews here, because you judge music from your perspective and understanding, other critics who disagree with you have the same right. “
I agree, but Jonny Whiteside is not commenting on the music as much as the people behind the music. That’s what makes this article so bad. He’s slagging the individuals instead of the music. Like I said in another comment, make this the “10 Lamest Americana Songs” and I’d probably be applauding it. Reducing artists’ entire careers to a laugh track in your clickbait piece is a disrespect to the practice of artistic criticism.
April 1, 2017 @ 8:06 am
Am I the only one with constant ads flickering on the bottom of the screen on this site?
April 1, 2017 @ 9:28 am
I have this site white-listed in Adblock, and I don’t see anything like that.
April 3, 2017 @ 12:25 am
I do when I check in on my iphone. If I’m a little sloppy with my scrolling, I wind up god know where, and I can’t get back without closing Chrome, start-up again, and be more careful. No problem at all with the laptop.
April 1, 2017 @ 8:22 am
I’ve never heard of Johnny Whiteside until now, but his article is one of the best I’ve ever read. I’d like to give him a big ‘AMEN’.
My only problem with the article, is that Sturgill Simpson isn’t on it.
April 1, 2017 @ 8:56 am
Every idiot can find some other idiot to back them up. Of the artists on his list, I’ve only listened to two of them regularly at some time or another (Devil Makes Three and Wayne Hancock), but that was one of the most moronic pieces I’ve ever read. I really don’t believe that he was sincere with everything he wrote. If so, can anybody point to an article of list of artists he champions? I’d be curious to see that.
April 1, 2017 @ 10:19 am
You mean I’m an idiot? ???
Here’s the only reasonable thing you can say in regards to this article.
“I realize that most of the arguments Johnny makes about these acts are true, but I enjoy these acts regardless of these arguments.”
Other than that, you simply enter an emotional realm, where you’re trying to replace reality with your feelings.
April 1, 2017 @ 10:31 am
The whole point here Honky is that Whiteside only presented the bad parts of these artist without ever broaching the good parts. That’s why the statement from Travis makes sense. That’s also why Whiteside’s arguments don’t hold water.
April 1, 2017 @ 1:18 pm
Your agreement with me, that these acts have “bad parts”, contradicts your assertion that Whiteside’s argument holds no water.
I mean, the premise of his article is basically, “These acts are lame, here’s why.”
He presents his premise, and then backs up his opinion with a combination of objective and subjective reasoning. You can disagree that the reasons he gives makes these acts lame, but the reasons themselves are inarguable.
His arguments do hold water, because most of them are true, and the rest are subjectively accurate to a lot of people, which even you concede in your commentary.
April 1, 2017 @ 1:23 pm
It is the job of a critic to be critical. It is also the job of a critic to be fair. If at any point he had given even a few of these artists even an ounce of credit for anything, then this article would hold water. Let’s call this what it is: it’s a hit piece. It is a successful trolling of the Americana music community.
April 1, 2017 @ 11:07 am
Honky – for being such a true country boy, and the resident standard bearer of what is country enough to meet your exacting standards (referring to your past comments on other articles and your recent assertion that only real country boys are good enough for your ears), you seem to spend a lot of time on the ol ‘puter. Don’t you have some calfs to round up and brand or something? ? Also, Sturgill doesn’t apply to the list because he is country, not Americana.
April 1, 2017 @ 1:26 pm
Because of your perpetual sarcasm, I can’t tell what you comprehend about my comments, and what you don’t.
You’re talking about cows, which leads me to believe that you’ve failed to understand anything I’ve said, but then again, maybe you do understand, and you’re just being silly. I just can’t tell.
The main thing you need to know, is that you should like what you want to like, and I’ll like what I want to like, even if you don’t like my reasons.
Also, I’ve only been commenting here for two weeks, and you’re calling me a resident. Maybe you need to relax a little bit.
April 1, 2017 @ 11:10 am
Also, Honky, I’m still waiting on your list of non-country boys who annoyingly are putting out real country music. Seriously, if there is good country out there that I don’t know about, I would love to know about it. Even if it is being performed by city boys.
April 1, 2017 @ 11:37 am
I don’t enjoy most of those acts and his piece was full of opinions so I don’t know how you have to admit that they’re true. Trig already explained the author’s approach better than I could. I feel the whole purpose of his article was to purposely stir the pot which is why I originally noted that I doubt everything was 100% sincere. I do apologize for making the idiot comment but that was my initial reaction to the article and I could only see a certain kind of person as backing up what presented (either a smart person who wants to stir things up or someone who is incapable of acknowledging the quality from some of the artists. Again, I don’t personally enjoy a lot of them but I can see they’re nowhere near the author’s opinion on them when taken as a whole. Again, going back to Trig’s comment that if we were basing off of songs and not artists, it would be a different story.
April 1, 2017 @ 2:09 pm
I can tell that you don’t like humor. That is fine. The vast majority of your comments, if not all of them, have been aimed at being negative and calling out people for either being horrible singers (like that untalented Sturgill guy.:..what a non country hack!), about this or that not being country enough, or in this case agreeing with the laughable article that is discussed in this piece (obligatory Sturgill bashing was also included) in order to stand out as a dissenter who’s tastes are above those of everyone else. From that, I assumed that the person who takes those stances consisently in every comment must be a country badass. I guess I was wrong. Finally, in all seriousness, please answer my question pertaining to the people you referenced who are out there putting out good, real country music, but who are country imposters and piss you off. I really am curious about that.
April 1, 2017 @ 4:20 pm
I love humor. It’s just that I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic in a friendly way, or sarcastic in a haughty, condescending way. And so I don’t know what to say to you.
We do agree that the list is laughable, but for different reasons. It’s laughable to me because it’s all so true. In other words, it exposes how laughable most of these acts are.
I will say though, I’d take Jason Isbell off the list, and put Sturgill Simpson on it. Apparently he’s a good guitar picker, but he can’t sing or write for crap.
April 1, 2017 @ 5:03 pm
Ok “honky”. You have a hard time comprehending things when any humor or sarcasm is present. So here are two direct questions for the country expert (you): 1 – please describe why you think Sturgill is a horrible writer? I get that he doesn’t write the same formalaic stuff that you like (Midland, etc). I can assume that you think he can’t sing because he isn’t a polished, radio friendly voice, which is what you prefer. Also, he doesn’t wear a cowboy hat and ain’t nearly as pretty as the Midland boys are in their photo shopped glamour shots that are all over the web, with their tasseled suede jackets, pearl snap western shirts, etc. 2 – same question you keep avoiding…..who are the performers you think are putting out real country, but who you dislike because they aren’t real country boys in your mind? Deflection and broad statements are easy to make, but not having any explanation for your statements or opinions, especially when they are always harsh and against the grain, makes me believe your only goal is to be a shit stirrer. Also, it really throws a wrench in the value of the back and forth in the comments, in that you bring little to the table but “this sucks”, “that ain’t country”, “Sturgill is shit”, “Marty Stuart sucks”, etc.
April 1, 2017 @ 9:47 am
Where to start? Mr. Whiteschmide: We used to have a music critic in my town just like you. His favorite past time was to select a musical legend that everyone likes and then write a hit piece on them attempting to marginalize all their contributions.The Eagles were one of his targets. There were many others. Everyone hated him and he was fired by our hometown newspaper. Don’t get me wrong, puff pieces only need written when truly deserved. But you are employing a similar tactic tossing verbal grenades and giddily watching for the subsequent explosions. And yet you make a living doing this? Clearly your employer is stooping to shock jock tactics in hopes of clicks.
Gillian Welch sings gloriously and with a sublime sense of melancholy. Her melodies are so beautiful so achingly and painstakingly crafted that a listener is mesmerized and sometimes moved to tears. David Rawlings guitar and playing style are both national treasures. So…I am declaring you hopelessly wrong , delusional, devoid of any taste whatsoever.
Wayne Hancock is bridging the gap between Hank , Bob Wills and Sun era rockabilly. He is passionately committed to forging his art and he’s real good at it. Even Hank 3 calls him the real deal. So , once again you are wrong sir….wrong , wrong, wrong.
Lucinda Williams album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is absolutely a masterpiece. IMO it’s her Masters Thesis in music. Listen to tracks such as Joy, Car Wheels, Greenville, Drunken Angel and just try to tell me they suck, go on I dare you. If she had only made this record, her legend status is cemented.
I recommend you drop your journalist career and go into meteorology. At least in that line of work you can be wrong all day everyday and still keep a job.
April 1, 2017 @ 10:23 am
If you’re going to criticize the list, you should at least address the actual arguments that Johnny makes.
April 1, 2017 @ 10:45 am
I am proud of my comments and don’t need to add anything. I am quite secure in my tastes and views and could happily go toe to toe with any critic hack journalist. Music is an art and highly subjective to opinion. If you agree with the journalist in question, wonderful….have a good life, to each their own.
April 1, 2017 @ 1:32 pm
But you didn’t go toe to toe. You attacked arguments that Whiteside didn’t even make.
April 1, 2017 @ 11:09 am
In Kevin’s defense, it’s hard to distinguish between argument and invective in Johnny’s overly spiteful, rather clumsy piece. If he wants people to respond to his ‘actual arguments’ he’d be advised to articulate them better and cut out the playground ad-hominem.
April 1, 2017 @ 11:10 am
havnt read the la weekly in years but jonny whiteside was the best thing about that paper he was constantly writing great articles about about artists I probably never would have heard of let alone gone to see live in concert. he also wrote honest reviews of shows and records and wasn’t just a scene booster. id never have gone to see little jimmy scott live if it hadn’t been for an article whiteside wrote about him and id have lived long enough to regret not having gone. dunno what whiteside has been writing for the past 7 or 8 years but I really doubt hes just writing clickbait after all the great stuff he was writing in the 90s and for at least the first 10 years of this century. im sure his merle haggard cover stories must be somewhere on the internet they might give you an idea how good he is. as far as personal attacks on entertainers yeah maybe not cool to hit people just starting out but I don’t know anything about the people mentioned and don’t think its the writers job to worry about performers feeling and job prospects anyways.
long sloppy response sorry but me no good at writing. just mad people are writing whitesides off as some lame clickbait artist when he is one of the best music writers ive ever read and I was lucky enough to grow up reading Robert hilburn so I do have some idea of what good is.
ps- loved what he wrote about isbel had to stop for a few minutes and roll around on the floor
April 1, 2017 @ 11:25 am
I agree with your assessment of Whiteside, at least from a historical perspective. That’s why I posted three paragraphs on background information on him in this article. Whiteside was saving country music when I was still in high school. That doesn’t erase the fact that this article comes across as vindictive and unfair. But yes, the context of his career is necessary before coming to any hard and fast conclusions about Whiteside personally. He hasn’t written for L.A. Weekly for a long time. Perhaps they wanted to bring in a bulldog to drive clicks, and that’s what they got.
April 1, 2017 @ 11:25 am
In fifty years from now, people will still be talking about Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Jason Isbell, and Jason Boland. You know who will be talking about Jonny Whiteside? Nobody. Except maybe honky, or cracker, or whatever his name is…
April 1, 2017 @ 11:39 am
Quite honestly, as a society we need to stop separating music from the rest of art when it comes to how we evaluate quality. Other art forms are not painted nearly as subjective as music is, even though personal taste is considered a factor in what the individual likes in each art form. Film, literature, etc.–drivel rises to the top much more rarely than it does in music, and people seem to have a genuine understanding of what a good film is or what a good book is, and what a bad film or bad book is, even if they happen to personally like it. When it comes to music, we’re not allowed to state what good music is because somebody whose personal taste is…tasteless…will have a hissy fit about how quality of music is “subjective” when it quite frankly is not.
It’s time to end this War on Quality Music.
April 1, 2017 @ 12:11 pm
You gotta admit though – the guy really did his research. He found out my name, where I’m from AND that I’m a hipster. I may never recover from this one. lol
April 1, 2017 @ 3:02 pm
Look on the bright side by saying you are the 10th worst he is saying you are better then everyone else on that list and there are some great artists on there.
April 2, 2017 @ 1:41 pm
Stoked for your OKC show in May, Sam! i’m wesley_the_gunslinger on Instagram. you may recall seeing me “liking” all your posts and telling you to come play Oklahoma. hahaha glad you didn’t take this article to heart! keep doing the damn thing.?
April 1, 2017 @ 12:40 pm
Bware, you raise interesting points. I agree that music is definitely subjective. What would be the perameters to qualify music as great or not? Lyrical structure? Instrumental arrangement? Vocal quality? Melody line? Catchiness? Danceability? Genre specific or not?;These are a few ideas . But music can have differing goals…certainly to entertain is one, some music isn’t meant to be intellectual or artsy, EDM is made for people to dance to, period…no other reason. Singer Songwriters often have messages they wish to convey through their writing. So to me it’s at the end of the day , subjective to personal taste.
Some people see Dylan as brilliant on the basis of songwriting and some see him as a guy who can’t sing a single note in tune.
In the art world, take painting for instance…some proclaim Monet to be a brilliant painter but some say he lacked the skill to paint realistically like the medevial masters. Some declare Warhol to be genius and others see him as a hack who had incredible marketing and image branding skills. I love Norman Rockwell but many serious art critics dismiss him as an illustrater. Again..Subject to taste.
April 1, 2017 @ 12:49 pm
I think it was only a matter of time before an article like this appeared. So many blogs, writers etc are wearing out the mainstream country acts to the point of it really being boring now. So I think it’s good to see someone make some critical remarks about non-mainstream acts that have been critical darlings for the past 5 years or so. I actually like and have purchased music from all the acts he mentions but he does make some valid points as well.
April 1, 2017 @ 3:03 pm
If someone says that Reggie Jackson wasn’t all that great a rightfielder, they may have a valid point. If that’s ALL they can say about him as a baseball player, then they really have no point at all.
April 2, 2017 @ 9:21 am
Jack, no they still have the point that he’s a great right fielder.
April 2, 2017 @ 3:40 pm
Reggie was not a great defensive right fielder. He WAS a great ballplayer.
April 1, 2017 @ 2:40 pm
I don’t give a damn about anything someone from Lost Angeles thinks or writes.
Now where are your reviews on the new Kasey Chambers and Rodney Crowell albums?
April 1, 2017 @ 9:10 pm
I have never understood the “this music sucks” type of stories. This is Jonny Whiteside’s forte. Mr. Clickbait. He wrote a biography on Rose Maddox. Later on, Maddox gave her opinion of the book from the stage by declaring, “Jonny Whiteside don’t know nothing about music!”
April 2, 2017 @ 8:48 am
Thank God it’s April 2.
April 2, 2017 @ 9:01 am
April 2, 2017 @ 9:18 am
Just trying for some humor Kyle. (April Fools Day, lots of folk evidently thought that’s what it was.) I have a lot of thoughts on this but won’t get into it. I agree with much of what he said, not everything, but probably most. I also have my same old theory about the AMA and “Americana” being a “safety valve” that prevents what has historically been a course correction when country music strays. Over the top? Perhaps slightly. Had to delete the share to my FB I did from the piece yesterday, too much hate to deal with. See my post there today. ‘Nuff said on this?
April 2, 2017 @ 9:28 am
Yeah, the fact that so many thought it was an April Fools Day joke, even though it was posted on the 31st, and this shows absolutely how people have absolutely no idea who Jonny Whitesdide is, made this entire exercise just that much more corrosive and diabolical. There were folks rallying on Facebook yesterday to delete my “like” page because I was such and idiot for falling for what was clearly an April Fools joke. This just proves my point that the article has little to do with Americana, and more to do with the desperate situation facing independent music journalism in America.
April 2, 2017 @ 1:20 pm
this almost made me puke. i’m gonna go give them the rough side of my tongue and also show how they are incorrect about ALL this bulls#!t.
April 2, 2017 @ 2:37 pm
Wayne Hancock is like AC/DC. He has a musical style that works. Why mess with it? My favorite artists are those that enjoy what they do and aren’t always trying to re-invent themselves.
April 2, 2017 @ 3:03 pm
What a mean spirited nasty piece of work
April 2, 2017 @ 7:51 pm
I get the impression that Whiteside likes the music in his preferred category, and doesn’t want anything else coming along to take any spotlight away. Somewhere he heard a conversation where somebody bemoaned country music and somebody else suggested they try Americana, and he had to put a stop to that.
April 2, 2017 @ 10:03 pm
I think you gave the article way more “ink” than it deserves. When my sister-in-law sent it to me I replied, “This is either satire, or this guy is a tool.” That seems like enough said to me.
April 3, 2017 @ 4:27 pm
Meanwhile if you say that pretentious pitchfork indie rock bands like the national, and arcade fire are all boring and overrated. A bunch of hipsters will death threat you
April 4, 2017 @ 8:38 am
“But this won’t materially influence Thomas Rhett’s ability to support his family…”
Just wondering, would you hold back or sugar-coat a criticism (cinder block stage presence) if it WOULD materially influence an artist’s ability to earn a living?
April 4, 2017 @ 10:13 am
Look, this is a gray area, and I know that Saving Country Music sits on tenuous ground when it comes to drawing lines on when to not criticize artists. But often I am passed albums, songs, or YouTube videos of artists that are just downright terrible from a pretty universal perspective and asked to rip them apart. There’s just no value in that if the artist is just trying to get started, or isn’t receiving that much attention. That is not fostering the creative process through criticism, it’s shooting fish in a barrel. The bigger the spotlight, the more scrutiny an artist deserves. Thomas Rhett just won the ACM for Male Vocalist of the Year, and Song of the Year, and he’s got the stage presence of a cinder block. I think this is fair to point out.
But even with my Thomas Rhett review, I found something to give him credit for. Instead of leaning on drum machines like a lot of recent mainstream singles, he recorded the song with a live band. To show that you’re not just taking anger out on an artist and prove that what you’re asserting has been thought through and vetted, it’s important to try and find positive things about even the most negative efforts.
No critic should solely base whether they share their opinions or not on the commercial impact it might have for an artist. But in certain circumstances, it may be the responsible decision.
April 4, 2017 @ 11:56 am
Dig it. Thanks Trig.
R. El Saghir
September 1, 2017 @ 1:24 pm
One thing you should know, Whiteside is a rabid conspiracy theorist. His whole milieu is to go against conventional thought. His writing is often an exercise for rampant attention seeking.