Ah yes. There’s nothing like those artists that work so hard to keep the throwback sounds of country music alive and well. The crying of the fiddle and pedal steel going back and forth in perfect harmony. And what’s that you say? No mention of tailgates and tan lines? Nope. Just some bona fide country gold and honky tonk. Jeremy Steding put Aaron McDonnell on my radar earlier this year and I have really enjoyed McDonnell’s music ever since. He possess a keen ear for pulling all of the classic elements together into a neatly wrapped package without the slightest feeling of being dated. Luckily for us, he released a new album titled, Lucky Me a few weeks back.
In my opinion, collaboration albums tend to be a thrown together jumble, but sometimes they come together so perfectly, such as Deryl Dodd’s outstanding, Long Hard Ride. I have been holding albums to the standard that Dodd set earlier this year when he blew my socks off. A throw back favorite artist of mine is Tracy Lawrence and I was cautiously interested when I saw he had a new collaboration album, Good Ole Days. When I saw all of the mainstream names I flinched, afraid to even give it a whirl. Afterall, many of them who once released solid country music have resorted to egging the very genre that gave their start and initial fame.
Most kids dream of getting behind the wheel of an iconic piece of American Muscle. Ok, maybe not most. Some are still swept up in the Fast and Furious lifestyle with fart cans, big wings and cambered tires, but you get the picture. There’s just something about a high performance V8 snarling under the hood that attracts many, including myself. The dreams of the open road and living the bachelor life runs strong for quite a few years. A few women come in the picture and then one comes along that changes it all.
Hang around long enough in music, and you’ll begin to learn about not just artists, but the musicians themselves. The people that may not be right out in the spotlight to the same level as a singer, but still every bit as important. With many upcoming artists, it’s in their best interest to have a professional band backing them for their studio recordings. In much of the Texas musical world, acoustic shows are the norm for these smaller acts and in time, they hope to be backed by a top notch band. So what about in the meantime? Record the best album you can afford with the best people. I’m a big supporter of guys like Doc West and Hunter Hutchinson, and kept noticing that Nate Coon, the drummer for Aaron Watson, has been playing on so many Texas albums. It continued to peak my interest and I had to learn more about him. Let’s dive right in.
A while back, I had posted on Facebook about stumbling across country artist, Jason James, while listening to a Pitstop for Country favorite, Dustin Sonnier. Just one of the many examples of why I see the value of Spotify, this find came courtesy of “Related Artists” - a tactic I have used to expand my library 10 fold. After taking to Facebook to share Jason James and tagging Sonnier in the process, I was sent a list of artists to check out. Sonnier took a moment to share some of his fellow Louisianian and Texas area friends that are certainly worthy of a share. Well let’s get into it, shall we?
I have really been digging the music of country traditionalist, Shane Owens since James Dupré told me about him earlier this year. The baritone vocals of Owens are a reminder that true country is alive and well - you just have to know where to look for it. Having fought for a chance to release music for over a decade, Owens has shown a remarkable amount of drive and a commitment to his craft. When most people get pushed down once or twice, they tend to fold. Try three times. Try having your dreams crushed time after time. An offer to only record singles, despite glowing praise from numerous mainstream acts. The record label folded. Not once. How about twice? Is this guy a trooper or what? What I know is this man can tell a story, make you feel something, and really reflect on his music. Let’s talk about his latest single… 19.
My love for country music can be traced back to a few artists, and standing tall at the gateway is Alan Jackson. If there is an artist that I can say had the largest impact on my listening, it’s this man. All of those wonderful years I had, enjoying his songs on mainstream radio seem like a sad, distant memory. If only that could happen again so people today could understand the caliber of his music and the impact he made on the industry. It’s his latest single, The Older I Get that really hit me and the video that accompanies it will have any true AJ fan feeling all sorts of emotions.
Rapidly closing in on a year of Pitstop for Country’s existence, I’ve been recalling some of the artists that stood out to me the most. I always forget just how invested I am from so far away when talking to some local New England Texas country fans. Sure, they know the Cody Johnsons, Aaron Watsons, Casey Donahews and Josh Abbotts, but when it comes to smaller artists, many have no idea. I take that for granted because I enjoy so many of these up and comers, and seeing them work to create a fan base from next to nothing is incredible. It’s exactly what I am trying to do, so there is a lot of relate to. Texas has been home to some very talented female artists, and Kensie Coppin is one that you should be keeping tabs on.
Mike Ryan has continued to find his stride in the music world since I first came across his 2010 album The First One. To think just how far Ryan has come from those acoustic leaning album days is remarkable. Hearing that first album caused me to turn my sister on to his music and we have both been avid fans ever since. From his 2014 album Bad Reputation, where things became a little more amped up and polished, to co-writing the mainstream hit,Last Time For Everything, Mike Ryan has experienced it all. You know, that song that Brad Paisley himself recorded. With Ryan’s latest album, Blink You’ll Miss It now available, I found myself hooked on one song that everyone can relate to at one time or another.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!