Once again a member of the Texas music scene has delivered a song that gives voice and reason to how the rest of us feel. Wade Bowen’s “Trucks” aims its big, diamond-plated bumper at the incessant references to tailgates and four wheel drives in modern pop country songs and slams on the gas.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the LIVE blog for the 2013 broadcast of CMA’s Fan Fest, dubbed over the last few years as “Country’s Night to Rock.” Since our live blogs for mainstream country’s big awards shows have been so successful over the years, and because we had many requests to also create a platform for commiseration, it was decided we’ll give it a shot for this event too.
Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, CMA Fan Fest, Country's Night to Rock, Darius Rucker, Eric Church, Jake Owen, Jason Mraz, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Clarkson, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Lenny Kravitz, Live Blog, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw
Exquisitely antiqued and strikingly original, old school country singer and native Canadian Lindi Ortega is the northern emissary for country music’s current female revolution. A class act all around that is regarded just as highly for her self-penned songs as her heavenly (or devilish) voice, Lindi is a creative maelstrom that sends the room spinning from her ability to expose the most blinding beauty from life’s inherent darkness.
You know how you may root for a hometown sports team for years even though they’re terrible, and then out of the blue when they start to get good you don’t know how to behave because you’ve identified with losing for so long? Well that is what is happening in 2013 with many of the artists Saving Country Music and so many loyal fans have been following for years.
For years Saving Country Music has been preaching that the result of these idiotic, bellicose laundry list country songs perpetuated by country music’s belligerent males would result in a trash culture full of fighting and general disrespect for everything but materialism and the consumer culture. This was on full display this Saturday (June, 22) when Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoe’s Nation Tour” stopped in Pittsburgh.
Former Dixie Chick Natalie Maines has a knack for allowing her words to precede her. She left country after her quote about George W. Bush torpedoed the trio’s career, and ever since she’s been lobbing grenades back in country’s direction, including yet another in a new Rolling Stone article that represents her as “declaring war on Nashville.”
Kacey Musgraves has been doing her level best to disrupt the well-ordered country music apple cart since she released the single “Merry Go ‘Round” last September. Recently when speaking to American Songwriter, Kacey elaborated on her strange existence in the mainstream country format, and how she’s not exactly happy where it is, and the stereotypes it brings to her music.
When it comes to country music, it is the best of times, and the worst of times depending on if you’re talking about male or female artists. While it’s easy to focus on the awful, inane music from mainstream country’s male-dominated ruling class, there is an inspiring sect of female performers attempting to emerge from the heavy shadows of towering males and their tiring musical pap. So why the gender gap?
Think what you want about Kacey Musgraves, her recent album Same Trailer, Different Park, or even her blockbuster hit “Merry Go ‘Round,” but it’s hard to view her story as nothing less than an illustration of the resounding power of song. Whatever depths of shallowness Nashville’s major labels might be mired in at the moment, one song from an independent-minded artist did the unthinkable.
As one of the original members of Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar is one of the forebearers of the alt-country sound that now has morphed into the all-encompassing Americana behemoth that here in 2013 is enjoying a meteoric rise in influence. But instead of trying to figure out how to ride that popularity wave, Farrar and Son Volt release an album that is so doggone country, you could almost call it conceptualized.
Same Trailer, Different Park is the loss of corporate country’s innocence. It is a total flip of perspective from the fare the mainstream country public is used to. It’s an awakening, an awareness of an alternative set of ideas that dash the mores that keep radio country and its listeners locked in suffocating patterns that don’t allow the soul the space for self-exploration and growth.
Before this album, I’d been mostly opinion neutral on Holly Williams. Being the granddaughter of Hank Williams, the daughter of Hank Jr., and the sister of Hank3 appointed her music the respect of more than a cursory look. She was neither here nor there, and with a lack of scene support her career sort of drifted. The Highway, released on her own Georgiana label, changes all of that.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But I’d be lying if I said I’m not becoming very engrossed in the idea of Kacey Musgraves getting big, and very big, and doing it with fresh, new, exciting, substantive material that could shake up the current stagnant climate of country radio and the mainstream in general. All the dominoes seem to be aligned for Kacey
Tonight is the annual Academy Awards, and during the presentation, you won’t see anybody judged on looks or popularity. You will not see the most commercially-successful endeavors given exclusive billing and opportunity for accolades. No, what you will see is the best and the brightest of the industry highlighted based mostly on the creativity and artistic integrity of their works.
Every day hundreds of people wake up, put their pants on, and head to Music Row in Nashville to try to find “the next one.” They cull through reams of new material being produced by big songwriting operations, when right under their noses are battle tested songs with proven appeal waiting to be cherry picked from the independent and underground music world. Here are just a few.
Adam Hood, Alabama Pines, Brian Keane, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Elanor Whitmore, Every Girl, Good Lord Lorrie, Hellbound Glory, I'll Sing About Mine, Jason Isbell, Josh Abbott Band, Kacey Musgraves, Old Crown Medicine Show, Shooter Jennings, The Long Road Ahead, Tom Morello, Turnpike Troubadours
“Country must evolve” is the way it is sold to the country music public when pop and hip-hop influences are invited into the country music fold. What these folks fail to point out is that country has been trying to evolve for 30 some odd years right under their noses. Are you looking for true progress and evolution in country music? Look no further than this list of women.
Abigail Washburn, Amanda Shires, Anderson Family Bluegrass, Asleep at the Wheel, Be Good Tanya's, Bela Fleck, Brandi Carlile, Caitlin Rose, Dale Watson, First Aid Kit, Hank Williams, Jolie Holland, Kacey Musgraves, Kasey Chambers, Liz Rose, Neko Case, Paige Anderson, Rachel Brooke, Rounder Records, Ruby Jane, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, The Beach Boys, The Carter Family, The Trishas, Tom Waits, Uncle Earl, Willie Nelson
In recent weeks and months, it’s been hard not to look at Kacey Musgraves and her song “Merry Go ‘Round” and wonder if this isn’t the girl and song that has the mustard to crack the Music Row cartel’s iron grip on mainstream country. “Merry Go ‘Round” just keeps chugging away like the little single that could. But what does Kacey Musgraves have beyond “Merry Go Round”?
This song is about losing yourself, which we’ve all done, and will all do again, and how we all start off life with a firm grasp on who we are that life does its level best to wrestle away from us. But inside “Stranger” there is also a glimmer of hope in how the realization of one’s self can stimulate renewal. And above all of that, the beauty of “Stranger” is its fierce simplicity–the attribute of all excellent country songs.
Billy Don BUrns, Brigitte London, Eric Strickland, Johnny Paycheck, Kacey Musgraves, Merle Haggard, Olds Sleeper, Rusty Knuckles, Stranger, Sturgill Simpson, Tom VandenAvond, Turnpike Troubadours, Whitey Morgan, Willie Nelson
Every year this list stirs a little controversy because people misunderstand that these are not supposed to be the songs you “like” the best, but instead is supposed to be compositions in a given year that have the most impact. They’re songs that make you change the way you see the world, or change the way you see yourself. It is reserved for those few compositions that have the ability to change lives and to change the world.
Bigsky/Flatland, Billy Don BUrns, Chris Knight, Corb Lund, Drinking Whiskey, Eric Strickland, Good Lord Lorrie, Justin Twones Earle, Kacey Musgraves, Life Ain't Fair and the World Is Mean, Man In Gray, McDougall, Merry Go Round, New Year's Eve At The Gates Of Hell, Olds Sleeper, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sara Watkins, Shooter Jennings, Song of the Year, Stranger, Sturgill Simpson, T Junior, Tom VandenAvond, Turnpike Troubadours, Unfortunately Anna, Wreck of a Fine Man
The most powerful gift of music might not be its ability to console you in pain, but to pierce your reality bubble and let the wisdom of enhanced perspective guide you to your true self. As immature and judgmental as “Merry Go Round” might seem in places, this altruistic aim is its objective, and its outcome.