Some kind of Country….

We ask one another the same question when it comes to music, “Hey, what kinda music do you like?”. Then after a moment of self-reflection mixed with the fear that what you say won’t be cool enough we all say the same thing, ”Oh I like a little bit of everything”. Now, this isn’t a lie, but it’s misleading. Sure there is 1 or 2 songs in each genre we like, but I feel we need to do ourselves a favor, and narrow our answers.  I submit to you the new answer, “I like a little bit of everything, but right now I am really into _____”.  That blank is what we all want to discuss, that blank has the whole world open to its discussion. I’m really into Irish Folk Music, Latin Jazz, Early Ryan Adams, later Elton John.

Look at all those possibilities, the conversation has the opportunity to blossom with questions and emotions. With all that being said, please allow me a moment of self-absorption for the sake of the blog.

Steve’s Mind: Hey Steve
Steve: Hey Steve
Steve’s Mind: Hey Steve, what kinda music do you like?
Steve: Thanks for asking Steve. I like a little bit of everything, but right now I am really into the Americana/New Alt Country scene. Stapleton, Isbell, Simpson, Jinks, Adams and such.

Sorry for making you go through all that, but I truly feel we need to adjust our conversations about Music. For the rest of this blog I am going to be talking about the Americana/Alt Country/Roots Rock/Indie Rock.  This summer I have 3 concerts lined up right now:

Chris Stapleton in Wheatland

Jason Isbell with Frank Turner in Oakland

Sturgill Simpson in Portland

This is how I know I am into their scenes. I have Chris Stapleton’s new record on repeat for a week now, and before that, I was alternating between Jason Isbell and Ryan Adams. At some point 4 years ago I started searching for music, as opposed to letting it try and find me. I wasn’t happy with what my ears were hearing going with the traditional radio route.  Country radio had dissolved into something I could not recognize, Bro Country left me way behind in a cloud of backwoods in the moonlight with a girl, hey girl, dust. Then a record by Chris Stapleton was getting a lot of talk, and I ignored it. I was so offended when someone would tell me to listen to it. I would always say no, I don’t listen to today’s country.  One day I decided to give it a try, to measure it against the hype machine. The hype machine was wrong, “Traveller” wasn’t hyped enough. I was taken back, I hadn’t had a visceral response to an album like that in years. I almost wept as each song became the next. What it was, was Country. It had backbone, great musicianship, and heart.

I thought to myself, “Man, what else is out there that I don’t know about?”  Turns out the immediate answer was Sturgill Simpson. The spirit of Waylon Jennings trapped in the body of a true pioneer in todays music. Sturgill sang country music about walking the line, fighting demon’s, trying to find work, and made a haunting cover of “The Promise” by When in Rome. I couldn’t believe it, I was listening to Country again, and it wasn’t on the Radio because it is too good for Country Radio. Well, if you’re listening to Retail Radio’s country station, Barb Wire, you are hearing this great music. Why are we playing them and not traditional radio? Well, it’s because all Radio Programmers are afraid to do something different from the herd. We aren’t part of that herd, we blaze our own trail.  Much like when you’re watching something on YouTube it leads you from one thing to the next. Well that’s what happened to me.  After Chris, came Sturgill, then came Anderson East.

Anderson East is my wife’s second husband. What you need to know about that statement is that I am her 1st and current husband. Anderson East is a guy from Alabama that does soul and country music like Reese’s did Chocolate and Peanut Butter. He has one album called “Delilah” and you get in and out of it in damn near 30 minutes. Once again, an amazing artist that nobody on the radio is playing (well, we are, that’s a theme you’ll notice).

Anderson East

This is a picture of Anderson in white with my wife Staci, and our friend Zak photobombing my wife’s future wedding announcement.

I am going to end on Jason Isbell. Jason Isbell has a way of getting to all my feels. He is very much a troubadour. He sings about small towns, about Frigidaire parts, and coal mining. I have never seen him live, and part of me is scared that I am gonna spend the entire concert crying. Jason is not new to the scene, he was part of the Drive-By Truckers for 6 years. He along with Chris and Sturgill are all my age, right around 38. This adds something to this music for me. They are my contemporaries, they are singing about things they see, some of those things I see as well. That is what is great about this genre, they sing about life.  Hopefully some eyes will read this and it will be a help to them to find some new music. It gets the Z stamp of approval.