Here in New England, it can be sometimes alienating unless you are with like minded music folks due to the varying tastes. Those I’ve begun to meet through my love and sharing of country music, slowly become a community because we are all kind of “in it together” so to speak. We all have that appreciation for some fiddle and pedal steel. Each of us has our guilty pleasures, but the ‘twangy country and southern rock is my go-to when I define real solid country music. One of the impressive things about independent country is all of the young artists that feel the same way and know how to offer a good country song at a relatively young age. Hunter Hutchinson has been on my radar since the end of last year and is someone I look to with promise and hope. With a new album on the horizon, this week we got out first look at what this both recently engaged AND Texas Tech Grad has in store for us. (congrats man!)
I'm going to come right out and acknowledge the elephant in the room. Yes, Pontiacs by Texas John Baumann is a startling 9 minute song.
Now that that's out of the way, we can focus on why this song is worth nine minutes of your time. John Baumann's increase in popularity has not been by accident. If you listen to Here I Come off his latest album, Proving Grounds, you will learn a little about his quest to become a fulltime country poet. The admittedly shallow-surface scratching songs he used to pen failed to satisfy him. Some artists may have become content because they wrote some songs and maybe their family stroked their ego. Not Baumann. He mentions writing nearly 200 songs before one finally hit home. The songs that pull at our heart strings and leave those lasting impressions. The songs that every artist strives to write and put them on the map.
I'm beginning to think that 2017 is the year of the female trio's because I have been coming across a goldmine of female talent. There is not much more pleasing to the ear than women that can sing together with their southern drawls in perfect harmonies. Credit goes to a Pitstop for Country favorite, Adam Hood for posting about these fantastic women. After a while you begin to find artists that not only produce quality music themselves, but also have a knack of sharing others that are worthy of time. The Sweet Tea Trio is making Alabama proud and it's only a matter of time before they are heard far beyond.
Having only purchased a minute amount of mainstream albums the past few years, I have kept my ears towards some of the hopeful mainstream artists. Jon Pardi and William Michael Morgan have been the only ones I have pulled the trigger on and instead choose support the talent in Texas and independent arenas. I am not naive to think that all Texas music is the best thing since sliced bread. That mindset is laughable as I have watched fans protect some acts that are right up there with the bro-country mainstreamers. Hearing the first few tracks leading up to Joe Nichols new album Never Gets Old, I began to feel excited. Could this be the first mainstream purchase I make of 2017?
Well it’s about time I give you a short list of some of my favorite albums of 2017. This year continues to display the momentum the independent country underground has been gaining. This represents just five of my favorite albums thus far. I chose them for not only their content, but their marketability in some cases, which could impact the mainstream audience.
The farther that I have immersed myself into the world of Texas Country Music, the bigger picture I begin to put together. I went from moving slowly away from mainstream country to nearly exclusively listening to Texas and Red Dirt music. As I have stated on multiple prior accounts, I find it to be a consistently higher quality melting pot for music. It satisfies the variations in genres such as country, folk and southern rock without me having to change the station if I’m streaming a Texas Red Dirt radio station. However, I have noticed an attitude among some of the music fans that I find bothersome and confusing that I believe could hurt the spread of good music all around.
One of the most likable guys I have come to experience from being so invested in the Texas music scene, is Ray Johnston. First off, I really enjoy his music and he has an enjoyable light feel to his music. One of my favorites of his is the beautiful Watching the Lord Turn on the Lights which features Brady Black. The folky feel to this song creates a pleasant aura that will captivate you. From the soft plucking of the banjo to the dancing fiddle, this will not only make you tap your toes, but also stop and listen to his appreciation to the beauty and serenity of a sun rise inspired by hunting trips with his dad. You know, that daily phenomenon that we far to often take advantage of. We forget how important it is to stop and smell the roses as they say.
Well this past Weekend I headed up to my grandfather's house way up in Maine for a nice long weekend of relaxation and family time. While I listen to a lot of country music, you may have observed the name of this "whole thing" as being Pitstop for Country. Well, that hints that I am a fan of racing – in particular NASCAR and have followed it for most of my young life. I listen to Sirius XM NASCAR daily to keep up with all the news and commentary in the NASCAR world. On the ride up I listened per usual and on of my favorite shows, The Morning Drive, Jeff Gluck and Pete Pistone interviewed country artist Carly Pearce. For this weekends Brickyard 400, Carly had the honor of singing the National Anthem at the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this very special race.
As someone born in the very early 1990’s, I have witnessed the different stages of country music. From the high days of 90’s country with AJ, Strait, Chesnut and the like, to the early days to Kenny Chesney - I've heard it all. That also means I was a fan of country before the ”dark ages” of the pop infused rubbish. In the early 2000’s I was introduced to the music of Gretchen Wilson and never found her style dangerous to the genre. She is a woman with a strong presence, demanding vocals showcasing that she is here to party and still has the country edge to her style. Admittedly, there was a gap in the time that I listened to her music. Recently I decided to see what the heck she has been up to and realized that she had a new album. I think I checked in at precisely the right time.
There are times when you find a new artist and you start to listen to their work and you're captivated. Everything feels put together in a way that directs you to the lyrics - not passive listening. It just feels natural. You listen through and you have to listen again because you want to soak up the experience again. It's a sensation that is elusive on so many occasions, but when it happens, you know it. While listening to through some recommended music on Spoitfy, I saw a name I was unfamiliar with and the song titled peaked my interest. "Kentucky" by Thomas Csorba. While it provided the initial introduction, it's his latest album, From the Foxhole that prompted this writing.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!