Say what? Since when?
This is one of those statements that makes me face palm all day long. I don’t even understand what this means. I’ve been working out to country for years. Do you think it’s your generalization that all country music is slow? Could it be the very same ideology that you possess that makes you think much of the country music I talk about is too redneck?
As with any field, there are generations that enjoy their time at the top of the pack, guiding the way for the new talent. In Texas, we have slowly seen the shift to those we were calling up-and-comers just a few years ago. Paying their dues, packing the smaller venues and gathering new fans everywhere they went. From 10-15 passenger van and cargo trailer to big money 45’ Prevost Coach Buses hauling tandem axle merch trailers. In true overnight success fashion, some 10 plus years later they find themselves as the top dogs of Texas Country music. Arguably one of the largest names in all of Texas music is currently Josh Abbott Band and Until My Voice Goes Out is only going to propel them further to new heights.
For many country music fans, the perceived pinnacle of success in country music is to land a record deal in Nashville. Long viewed as the Mecca of country music, many unenlightened fans still lack the understanding that Nashville is no longer the sole hub for talent in the country world. It has become the once glamorous mom and pop store that everyone loved to visit, to the chain store that cares solely about the business side of things – alienating it's core customers and the quality products they expected. While there are the occasional whispers of hope from within it's doors, it continues to disappoint and turn people away. Those that also think Nashville has no talent need a slap across their face. There is plenty, but they fail to receive mainstream success or press. Independent artist Craig Gerdes knows all too well that feeling of alienation within Nashville, and he's releasing a new record next year that will have some execs eating their cowboy hat. Oh wait, they don't know what those are…
With the independent country landscape heating up, we’re seeing it work it’s way here in New England as well. It’s exciting to see the shows continue to be added and I hope to try and attended a bunch of them. It’s my goal to review these shows as I attend to help these artists gain some fans up here with my growing readership. Check out this list I compiled on the ones I have been watching.
There are those artists that we hear and feel an instant connection with. Music can sometimes have that effect on us. Maybe a song resonates with something we are going through in life. Or there is just an overall appreciation for their style. It could be a number of things really, but artists that fall into this category usually become a go-to when we want to tell someone abut good music. For me, one such musician is Adam Hood.
As one might expect, one of the best ways to stay up on the up-and-coming artists is to pay attention to the veterans that are consistently producing good music themselves. Despite flying below the radar to many, Don Vickers is an impressive artist. I know I’ve turned some people onto his work since my original article. It’s only natural that I take a look at some material he requested me to put an ear to. As expected, his request was met with a positive review which you are currently reading.
In the world of country music and especially Texas country music, we are used to hearing many of our favorite artists play with a full band on their records. Since becoming more familiar with the up and coming acts, I have realized that most do not always have opportunities to play full band at their shows. There are times where they are able to have the full ensemble, but many shows throughout the week are spent playing solo or song swaps. What I have learned is the true talent is not necessarily what lies behind the album, but their live performances. It's easy to be swept up in a full studio recording, complete with a large range of instruments and an expert at the helm of the soundboard. Kentucky based Jericho Woods, who I covered last month, kindly reach out to me with for a sneak peak at their upcoming acoustic release. This is the type of music that really shows off just what these guys are capable of.
Well I have to admit, Luke Combs has a lot going for him. He comes across as an incredibly likeable guy, and someone that most genuine people can get behind. The type you can shoot the breeze with and have a beer. I have some family and friends that were aware of him quite a bit before he made it to radio since he performed a lot in the North Carolina area. Like many mainstream albums, they tend to be a mixed bag to me. There are some solid songs and then some offerings that I skip over. It's something that I still have a hard time with seeing how so many independent artists put out such strong full albums, but it is what it is.
I've been waiting on purpose to write this article you're about to read simply because I was not ready. I did not have the appreciation that I do now for artists like Brent Cobb. I was still going through a transitional phase where my tastes were, and in many ways are, changing. My love for upbeat honky tonk country will never go away, but I was so unaccustomed to stopping and listening to some of the more soulful artists out there, that I didn’t know where to begin. I didn't take the time to stop and really listen to the words and try to decipher what I could. Some things admittedly still go over my head, but that's ok. I don't pretend to be some Brainiac that knows every little meaning to every thing out there. I do know, that someone like Brent Cobb has a very bright future ahead of him.
A staple in Texas has long been the voice of Kevin Fowler and his ability to be a summer time anthem and then do a complete 180 with Daddies and Daughters. Like any good time Texas artist, he faces his fair share of criticism, but I have always enjoyed his music. While working to expand my horizons in the Spring, I was listening to some artists like Chris Ledoux in hopes of finding some others like him. I browsed a few and found myself hooked on one in particular. With a little research I found out this guy is not only a singer/songwriter, but also one of Kevin Fowler's guitar players. Small world eh?
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!