No need to go supping at the trough of close facsimiles to the 90s country music that’s so near and dear to your heart, served up by 20-somethings who weren’t even alive in the era and can only boast being “90s-inspired.” Brooks & Dunn are still alive and kicking.
Every year to make sure the best titles in mainstream country don’t get overlooked, and to encourage the quality in the mainstream to rise to the top, we run down the best mainstream country albums to compliment the Album of the Year nominees. Some years there is overlap.
Coinciding with the announcement of Shania Twain’s signing with Republic Nashville was the release of the most terrible single called “Waking Up Dreaming” that dashes any hopes for a resurgence of Shania country, and picks up where her paltry 2017 comeback record Now left off, namely pop music.
So now here comes Blake Shelton with a photoshopped mullet, releasing what he’s marketing as a 90s-style country single called “No Body.” But unlike some of these other artists professing their proficiency with 90s country, ol’ Blake Shelton was actually around and playing music at the tail end of the era.
George Strait doesn’t make many public appearances these days after officially retiring from the road. But he’ll be making a “special appearance” at the inaugural Legends of Music Row Festival set to transpire October 13-15 in Key West, Florida at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater.
Now celebrating five years of gathering in festival form, KOKEFest attracts a huge crowd of local KOKEheads, as well as people from across the country who want to get the genuine Texas country experience, including those who regularly listen to the station remotely online.
Everybody wants to be 90s country these days, but nobody wants to live through an era without the wide proliferation of the internet, and when cell phones looked like carry-on luggage. But if you want the real stuff, you’re always best going directly to the source, like Ronnie Dunn.
90s country is back on the upswing, and either you can get your fix from some new performer who was still soiling their diapers or learning multiplication tables when Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn were dominating country radio, or you can go to the source.
I know what you’re going to say. “NeW yOrK CiTY!” like that guy in the old Pace Picante Sauce commercial. Or if you pride yourself in having any sort of semblance of taste, maybe you’re wondering why anyone in 2021 would still be listening to mainstream country radio at all.
It’s country. It’s traditional. But it’s also not so stuffy and dated that the masses would writhe at the sound of it like so many traditional country fans do when they get a whiff of today’s mainstream country radio, or today’s radio listeners do when they hear Hank.
Triston Marez has been a traditional country guy bubbling up in both Texas and Nashville for a good while now. And now he’s about ready to burst into the country music world proper with his debut record, and is getting a boost from a Country Music Hall of Famer to boot.
Unless you were there in person, you missed it. But now we’ll all get the opportunity to see the tribute concert that transpired on April 6th, 2017, when a hefty list of musical talent all assembled at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville to pay tribute to the legendary Merle Haggard.
‘Co-Starring’ is a spirited, ambitious, well-written and performed late career effort by Ray Wylie Hubbard that makes a strong case why he deserves major label backing, why all the praise and opportunities he’s been receiving lately (however late) are warranted, while also making a worthy introduction into why so many revere this man.
Ray Wylie has parleyed his many years of peddling mad influence in country and roots music into a collaborative album hosting a heavy dose of cool names. Called “Co-Starring,” it is preceded by the new song “Bad Trick” that itself sees Ringo Starr, Don Was, Joe Walsh, and Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes all show up to support Hubbard.
There is no doubt that by any objective assessment, when it comes to the world of creative types in the realm of music or otherwise, their ranks tend to veer more towards liberal ideals when it comes to politics. But that in no way excludes the gift of creativity from people who happen to be more conservative or independent of mindset.
Whatever you want to call him, “The Forgotten Outlaw,” “The Dead Thumb King,” “Wylie Lama,” or a host of other nicknames he’s amassed over his many years as a music troubadour, Ray Wylie Hubbard has been going through an elongated career resurgence that most 72-year-old performers could only dream of.
You’re a music fan. And sure, you know a little something about labels and producers and how all this stuff is necessary to get the music to you. But it so quickly gets bogged down in minutia and detail, does the sale of one huge music company to another really affect you, or affect the music in some significant way that you should care?
Making a collaborative album with some of the most iconic artists from Texas and beyond wasn’t exactly what Houston native Rodney Crowell had in mind when he first started out to write and record his latest record. It just sort of happened that way. This won’t just be a Texas record in name.
Brooks & Dunn will be the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the Modern Era. This was the news coming out of the press conference held Monday morning (3-18) in the Hall of Fame rotunda in Nashville. Brooks & Dunn was a commercial powerhouse duo in the 90’s if there ever was one.
Don’t worry, there will be plenty of country artists from the early and late 90’s who we won’t retrospectively be praising as we get older and the music of today gets worse. But you’re short changing yourself as a country fan if you write off many of the big songs and early albums of Brooks & Dunn as forgettable fluff.
A tribute is finally planned for The Hag, and it promises to be a star-studded event. ‘Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard’ will take place at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Thursday, April 6th to honor what would have been Merle Haggard’s 80th birthday, and to mark the one year anniversary of his passing.
Andrew Dorff was the kind of mainstream country music songwriter Nashville needed more of—someone who wrote the sleeper hits of surprising depth and humanity compared to most radio singles, and the solid album cuts from mainstream artists you may otherwise write off.
If 90% of mainstream country music is garbage, then it stands to reason that 10% of it is at least decent, if not good or great. That calculus hasn’t really changed much recently, even as mainstream country has improved. What has changed is that 10% is actually finding traction on radio, at awards shows, and is making fierce inroads into the 90%’s monopoly.
Ronnie Dunn has the voice and the name to where if he wanted to transition into a legacy act or do like Tim McGraw and make the best of the opening up of the format to better songs, he could really do some damage. But he has to really commit to it. His days of #1 hits and CMA Awards are unfortunately in the past.