Archive for the ‘music’ Category

FFS, dude, just play with your thirty pieces of silver and keep your mouth shut.

July 16, 2016

Granger Smith:

“I’m very, very, very blessed to have had the Texas music scene as a testing ground,” Smith recently told The Boot and other reporters. “I had singles — on-the-radio singles — I had a radio tour a couple times … [We] had been running in the minor leagues; that’s really what it is.”

Well then.

I guess we should just consider the source and think of what Smith said as a compliment given such, but it’s still bullshit, and rather inaccurate bullshit to, uh, boot. Such a statement would seem to imply that Texas is the farm team for Nashville, and that in turn would seem to imply that what’s done in Nashville and what’s done in Texas somewhat resemble one another. And we all should know by now that such is far from the case. But no matter what, it strikes me as more than a little bit insulting. Like this scene and all that it stands for wasn’t good enough for him. And beyond that, what does that say about his opinion of all the Texas guys who went to Nashville before and came back to Texas later, like Wade Bowen, Pat Green, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and the Randy Rogers Band? That they weren’t good enough to make it in the so-called major leagues? That is every bit as offensive as “if you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.”

Also, along the lines of my previous comment, if Smith’s analogy was anywhere near accurate, Aaron Watson would have been made a mainstream star with The Underdog and “Rodeo Queen” would have been the closing track on it. To paraphrase a commenter at Galleywinter’s FB page, Smith’s commentary is going to serve him quite well when he comes slinking back to Texas after his stint in Nashville.

And mark my words, he’ll be back at some point. And he will deserve every bit of the ridicule that he gets.

Tuesday music musings, 21.6.16

June 21, 2016

Brad Paisley’s “Without a Fight” feat. Demi Lovato, eh?

Sigh. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I miss the Brad Paisley who did songs “feat. George Jones and Bill Anderson” or “feat. Alison Krauss.” No doubt he’d tell us all that country music in general and he in particular have “evolved beyond that.” And that is…well, it’s not fine, for sure. It sucks. But it is what it is. Personally, I’d make the observation that not a few of us who had any modicum of respect for him have evolved beyond that, too.

As for the song itself, the best that can be said for it is that it isn’t bad. At least it’s not bad on the level of Florida-Georgia Line or Sam Hunt. My expectations were pretty low, though, as I was expecting some overblown pop ballad a la Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” as opposed to a mid-tempo sort of rockish song. But, yet again, it’s not something I’d turn off Jason Boland or Reckless Kelly for. It’s just…there, as Brad Paisley even at his best seems to be anymore.

Beyond that, though, it’ll be interesting to see what those beating the drum about the lack of airplay on country radio for females will have to say about this, if indeed they have anything to say at all. Yet again, all the females in country music getting ignored, and Brad chooses to sing a song with…a pop star? OK then.

(A not-Beyoncé pop star, at that! No doubt Amy McCarthy at the Houston Press will be all over that pretty soon….)

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A couple of weeks ago, I bought a Hank Thompson box set with his version of “Dance With Me Molly,” which took me to Keith Whitley’s version, which took me down the rabbit hole…

It strikes me that, like many other artists in myriad genres, Keith Whitley’s greatness was to be truly found beyond the singles that were released for radio airplay. I suppose that this might be blasphemy to admit, but I never was really keen on any his stuff that was played on the radio beyond maybe “Homecoming ’63.”

But songs like, “Honky Tonk Heart,” “Talk To Me Texas,” “Brother Jukebox,” “I Never Go Around Mirrors”…man, that’s the good stuff, right there. I was screwing around on Spotify this weekend and decided to dig into that, and I’m pretty glad I did. Come to find out Whitley actually recorded “I Never Go Around Mirrors” twice. The older version originally appeared on 1982’s Somewhere Between as a mid-tempo shuffle, and it’s great — but there was another version that appeared on 1988’s Don’t Close Your Eyes that more approximates the Lefty Frizzell original, and it’s absolutely stunning. If Wikipedia is to be believed, that later version was supposed to have been released as a single but the chairman of the record company wanted something more upbeat, which resulted in the recording of the song “I Wonder Do You Think Of Me” (which, like “I Never Go…,” was also written by Sanger D. “Whitey” Shafer). The more things change…

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And now I know what you’re thinking: “Spotify? What kind of music fan are you?”

Weeeell….I’ll own it. According to Saving Country Music, none other than Aaron Lewis has gotten into the protest song game with a song called “That Ain’t Country,” and the only way to hear the whole thing was via Spotify. I liked the snippet of it I heard, and as it turns out the whole thing was pretty good — a nice little country shuffle sonically reminiscent of Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen’s “Standards.”

Was it lyrically as good as that song? Well…no. Just one thing really spoiled it for me, though, and that was all the name-drops. Yes, we know that Willie, Merle and all the rest are country. Not really sure that particular bit needed to be pointed out. But other than that they nailed it, with both the instrumentation and his voice. I’d be interested to hear what the rest of the album sounds like, though I doubt he’ll be able to top either Bruce Robison’s or the Dixie Chicks’ versions of “Travelin’ Soldier.”

(I did like what I heard from Lewis’ previous album The Road, though. I probably should have bought that instead of the Chris Stapleton album with my birthday Amazon credit last year…)

Speaking of blowing your credibility all to hell…

May 23, 2016

…we have this, from the Houston Press:

At the end of 2015, one thing was abundantly clear – country music is and has been undergoing a seismic shift in terms of what listeners want and the mainstream has to offer. The unsigned, unpromoted successes of artists like Aaron Watson, Turnpike Troubadours and a host of country newcomers like Cody Johnson have officially proven that the country-music machine has long been broken.

A fine declaration indeed, one full of undiluted, sad truth. So how does the Houston Press blow its credibility?

They spend the next 1,039 words of the piece advocating that Beyoncé get played on country radio, that’s how. Not the Turnpike Troubadours, not Aaron Watson, not Jason Boland. Because racism, apparently, and country music needs Beyoncé lest it slide back into a niche genre, and country music “barely moves the critical needle.” It’s like the rave reviews of the work of Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, and Sturgill Simpson aren’t a thing, or as if Charley Pride isn’t a beloved country music legend, or like Merle Haggard didn’t write at least a couple of songs decrying society’s intolerance of interracial love, or like Ray Charles never recorded songs with both Willie Nelson and George Jones.

Look. I really don’t give one single solitary shit about Beyoncé. Her music just isn’t my thing, honestly, but other than that I don’t give it any thought. But there’s a metric shit-ton of music that should be played, should have been played for a long time now, on the radio long before anything from Beyonce. Hell, George Strait is still making great music, at least as good as anything he’s ever done, and radio won’t give him the time of day anymore. Why Beyoncé and not George Strait, or for that matter any of the other above-mentioned artists? Or, for that matter again, why not Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, Courtney Patton, Maren Morris, Maddie and Tae, or any of the other female artists making good music but being ignored by country radio?

And while I stand behind no one in my admiration of the Dixie Chicks, let’s be honest here — characterizing them as “torchbearers of classic authenticity in modern country” might be a bit much. Between that, the nonchalant accusations of racism, and the thrust of the piece itself…well, I never was much on characterizing anything directly as PC social-justice-warrior bullshit, but that’s certainly what this whole thing smacks of to me.

Sunday music musings, 22.5.16

May 22, 2016

Lots of shade being thrown Kelsea Ballerini’s way this week for this:

Despite complaints that female artists aren’t getting enough country radio airtime, Ballerini is beating those odds.

“I think it’s more just people saying women are not being played on the radio because right now there are a ton of us and it’s awesome,” she shared. “’Peter Pan’ broke Top 30 and it’s my favorite song on the record. And radio has been so good to me and good to [fellow female singers] Maren [Morris], Cam, Maddie and Tae.”

From Saving Country Music:

So good? Maddie & Tae’s last single “Shut Up and Fish” flopped. Maren Morris and Cam’s radio traction has yet to be proven beyond one lead single. And meanwhile dozens of females artists, new and established, are receiving no attention from radio whatsoever. It was only a couple of years ago when Kacey Musgraves was the new big rising female country star, and her singles are institutionally ignored by radio. Even Miranda Lambert’s last two singles failed to crack the Top 15 and Top 30 on radio respectively.

Country Universe:

…(Ballerini) ignores the facts that Morris’ single “My Church” has outsold her own “Dibs” (491K to 390K) but has stalled at #9 at radio instead of racing to #1, Cam’s “Mayday” is struggling to move up on the current charts (where it sits at #37 in its 14th week), and each of Maddie & Tae’s singles has peaked lower than its predecessor since “Girl A Country Song” became their sole top 5 hit. Or that the whole of this week’s top 40 singles list contains just 6 solo women, plus 2 duet partners, and that looking to the full top 60 singles list expands that number to a whopping 8 solo women. But clearly, it’s just a matter of people saying there’s a problem with women not being played on the radio.

But what gets me is this:

I think that every time a country artist steps outside of the country boundary, it just brings more ears to us. When Florida Georgia Line and Nelly put out the ‘Cruise’ remix, it brought so many more people to country music.

Again with the whole “gateway drug” thing. As I have noted before, that only works when the “gateway drug” in question bears some resemblance to the real thing. So I guess I might as well just come right out and say it, yet again: I don’t think Florida-Georgia Line singing a song with Nelly or Thomas Rhett aping Bruno Mars is a good thing if it makes people come to the genre wanting more of that crap. And I find it difficult if not impossible to believe that fans of those artists are going to come to “country music” and become fans of even George Strait, let alone Jason Boland or Randy Rogers. These people talk about these duets like they’re anything close to “Seven Spanish Angels,” and they’re just not.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’d never work for me to be a country singer, because every time somebody stuck a mike or a camera in my face I’d be saying stuff like this:

“I hear all this crap on the radio that bears absolutely no resemblance to country music, and the dancing chickens peddling that bastardized mystery meat music trying to justify it by talking about how they listen to all different kinds of music and they’re influenced by those different kinds of music. Well, fuck that. If you’re gonna call yourself a country singer, then be a damn country singer. Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I don’t listen to just country. I like a lot of classic rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s, ‘80s traditional metal, and more modern power and progressive metal. Symphony X, Kamelot, stuff like that. I’ve gotten to dig a lot of Motown too. I mean, you should hear some of the stuff I listen to on the bus. But that’s just it — the rock and metal stay on the bus. I’m a country music singer, and that’s what I sing. You’re not going to hear any synthesizers, screaming guitars or anything like that on my records. I love that stuff, but I owe it to myself and country music fans to be honest with what I’m trying to sell them. I could make more with doing that other stuff and selling it as country, but that’s just not who I am.”

Now, Luke Bryan might say he doesn’t get people that are into only one genre of music, but he’s never come off as really bright anyway. After all, there’s only so much time in the day, certainly not enough time to get into all the genres of music out there. And the more genres you get into, the less time you have to concentrate on them, and the more good stuff you’re going to miss. I used to try to sell myself as a music generalist, but honestly, it only comes down to a couple of different kinds of music for me — country music and metal, with that smattering of classic rock and Motown thrown in.

But perhaps there is a silver lining to Kelsea Ballerini showing her ignorance in regards to the situation with today’s country music — she pretty much blew her credibility all to pieces with that, so it might be a safe bet nobody’s going to give any credence to anything else she said in that interview either.

In memory of Guy Clark….

May 17, 2016

…who caught the train west today.

 

 

Dammit, 2016, this shit has gotten out of hand.

Sunday music musings, 1.5.16

May 1, 2016

You know, it’s funny. I’ve long sung the praises of Metallica in this space. I’ve always thought, even as I branched out and discovered more metal bands, that they were one of the greatest, for those first five releases alone. But not long ago, something happened that made me wonder about some things.

What was that?

Well, I went and bought the new Megadeth album, Dystopia. And quite simply, it freaking destroys. With the umpteenth lineup change, to boot, as drummer Shawn Drover was replaced with Lamb of God’s Chris Adler, and guitarist Chris Broderick was replaced with Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro after the former members’ respective resignations from the band.

 

 

 

Now, I don’t know how good or bad the albums were that Megadeth made between the ones with the classic lineup (Dave Mustaine, Nick Menza, David Ellefson, and Marty Friedman) and 2009’s Endgame. But I have heard various songs from those albums and liked them all, but I know that a lot of the time one or two songs might not be enough to judge the whole album. But I can tell you that two of the three albums released at least since 2009 — Endgame and Thir13en — were pretty damn good. (I wasn’t terribly keen on what I heard from Super Collider.)

Meanwhile, Metallica has released one album in the last 7 1/2 years, and as good as it was, we haven’t gotten anything from them since other than an EP of unreleased songs from the Death Magnetic sessions. Not just that, but also, if we’re gonna be quite honest about it, Metallica effectively delivered only one album of original music worth listening to between the Black Album and now. And it makes me wonder what the hell’s going on. I heard a friend say that James Hetfield has been burned out since The Black Album, and quite frankly, it’s the only thing that makes sense. (Sure, Cracked might try to tell you that Reload was okay because the band still plays “Fuel” live, but as I’ve put it before, while that song was okay, it’s certainly no “Creeping Death.”) They say that the best revenge is living well, and I gotta say, if you define “living well” as “making good music for a much longer period of time than the band you got fired from,” Dave Mustaine has most certainly gotten his.

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I was at Whataburger one day last week, having my customary morning coffee, as my ears were being assaulted by Florida-Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze,” with the line, “rock a little bit of hip-hop and Haggard and Jagger.” I’ve said before that that whole country/hip-hop mixtape/cd/playlist is one of the more inauthentic tropes, as you’re not gonna get me to believe for a minute that Tyler Hubbard is going to be spinning Merle Haggard beside N.W.A or that Luke Bryan plays Conway Twitty followed by T-Pain. But you know what it made me think of? This:

“If you like Lynyrd Skynyrd on the radio, let me know and I’ll sing you ‘Free Bird’. I like Johnny Cash, Grandmaster Flash, I’m name droppin’ like you never heard.”

And then there was this comment from Saving Country Music on the Triggerman’s review of the duo’s new single:

this Florida Georgia line song is exhibit A of why you leave the religious songwriting to Jews like Bob Dylan (gotta serve somebody; slow train coming), Leonard Cohen (hallelujah), Irving Berlin (White Christmas), and Kinky Friedman (they don’t make Jews like Jesus anymore), and to Muslims like Yusef Islam / Cat Stevens (peace train) and Richard Thompson (don’t renege on our love).

So we can add to the list of FGL’s myriad sins the fact that they make an unknown number of alleged real music fans forget about the existence of Billy Joe Shaver. “You Just Can’t Beat Jesus Christ”? “Live Forever”? Sheesh…

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Sabra and I both follow Jason Boland on Facebook, but she beat me to the mention of this, but apparently Mr. Boland named his dog Gary Stewart, after Mr. “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” himself. A couple of days later it occurred to me to go looking on Amazon, and what do I find but his landmark 1975 album Out of Hand available for download.

Worth the money?

You bet it was, for the three singles alone. I’ve long thought that if I never heard “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” again I wouldn’t miss it a bit. Much like Marty Robbins and “El Paso,” it seems like radio thinks that is the only song he ever did. But much like “El Paso,” it works a lot better in the context of the album. His version of “Backsliders Wine” was the first one I ever heard, and still the best. (As a bit of an aside, it’s amusing to think that song and “Wildfire” were both written by the same person.)

But still, after all these years, my favorite Gary Stewart song ever has to be this album’s title track.

(Fun fact about that song: one of its writers, Jeff Barry, was a co-writer of some of the biggest pop hits of the 1960s, among them The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack,” and the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” which was later recorded by Wilson Pickett.)

Wednesday music musings, 20.4.16

April 20, 2016

Oh, God. This crap again?

I think sometimes we can get into a place where music gets so serious that it becomes unreal too. And it seems like sometimes the more people stick a knife in your gut and make feel this thing, “It hurts so bad” is almost as unrealistic as anything [else] I’ve heard.

So I think that there’s a lot of criticism out there that’s over the top. Just lighten up a little bit. It’s music. With the technology we have today, you can find what music you’re looking for; quit shitting on the people who are making their own kind of music.

I realize that I’ve talked at length before about this, and there’s really not a whole lot I can say beyond what I’ve already said. But there was something I saw not long ago that made Randy Houser’s remarks here especially offensive to me as a country music fan, in the context of how mainstream “country” radio has changed in the last few years.

As everyone paying attention knows, Aaron Watson’s 2015 album The Underdog was arguably his biggest album yet, making a No. 1 debut on the Billboard country album chart and selling more than 60,000 copies to date, all without the benefit of radio airplay. But songs from that album have still been released for radio airplay — “That Look, “Freight Train,” and “Getaway Truck.”

Of these, only the first has charted, and it only made it as high as No. 41. The next single on deck is “Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song),” and — let’s not kid ourselves here — it’s likely going to meet the very same fate. What’s so bad about this, you ask?

Well, once upon a time that song would have had a decent shot at being a radio hit, but with all the bro-country and now this metro-country shit on the radio anymore, that’s pretty much gone out the window. Put another way, Aaron Watson writes about his own experiences just like those idiot bros do, and his efforts go ignored. I think that country music is the worse off for that, and you’re damned right I’m gonna crap on the people that are responsible for it. What makes Aaron Watson’s writing about what he knows any less worthy of radio airplay than the aforementioned idiot bros writing about what they know? That it’s about something meatier than another night on a tailgate in front of a bonfire?

I think that’s probably the flip side of what I said a bit ago about Aaron Watson and Jason Isbell possibly being mainstream stars had it not been for the implosion of the genre in the early-to-mid 2000s in the wake of the Dixie Chicks incident — that is, the likes of Florida-Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, and Thomas Rhett would never have been given the time of day in Nashville, and we’d still have quality music on the radio that at least bore some resemblance to country.

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I seem to be all about old multi-artist tribute albums anymore…

Back in 2006, Palo Duro Records released Viva Terlingua! Nuevo! (later renamed Luckenbach! Compadres! after a lawsuit by Jerry Jeff Walker). This album was a tribute of sorts to Jerry Jeff Walker’s legendary Viva Terlingua!, featuring various artists from the Texas and Red Dirt country scenes covering the songs from the album — albeit in a different order — and a few other songs from Walker and sideman Gary P. Nunn. I’d been meaning to check it out for the last few years, but for some strange and unknown reason it slipped my mind till last weekend. I had said before that the lineup of artists on that album looked really promising — Cory Morrow, Tommy Alverson, Brian Burns, Ed Burleson, and the Derailers, among others.

Did they deliver?

Why yes, yes they did. I had not heard all the songs from the original album, but of the ones I have heard — “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train,” “Sangria Wine,” “Up Against The Wall Redneck,” and “London Homesick Blues” — the covers of them here are all as good as or even better than the originals. Most of them were covered in their original style, but Two Tons of Steel turned “Sangria Wine” into a shuffle that was a lot of fun. Brian Burns is probably only behind Jason Boland when it comes to the best singers on the Texas and Red Dirt scenes, and his version of “Desperadoes” is absolutely exquisite, as I knew it would be. And there couldn’t have been a better closer to the album than the Lost Gonzo Band doing “Gonzo Compadres”; that and Cory Morrow’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck” never fail to make me grin. Pretty much the only song I didn’t really care for was Morrison-Williams’ “What I Like About Texas,” because, let’s face it, that song belongs to Gary P. Nunn.

 

 

And that brings me back to the whole “music doesn’t have to be heavy all the time” thing. If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be fun. Luckenbach! Compadres!  is probably one of the most fun albums I have ever bought, and yet there isn’t a tailgate or bonfire to be found on it. It’s almost as if Randy Houser and the rest of those idiot bros don’t have any idea of what they’re talking about.

Shocking, right?

In memory of Merle Haggard…

April 6, 2016

…who died today at 79:

Austin Lucas, via Saving Country Music, who has a great collection of reactions:

“Just absolutely fucking gutted to hear about the passing of Merle Haggard.”

That’s about it. The music Merle blessed us with will live on, but we have still lost something that is absolutely irreplaceable.

Wednesday music musings, 9.3.16

March 9, 2016

Well, I certainly was not expecting this.

Blake Shelton to Adam Levine, on The Voice:

“Country’s not always about exactly what you sound like, but it’s about what you want to represent with your music,” he told the contestant. “It’s guys like you that get me so excited about the future of Nashville. Dude, you’re country.”

Then Adam Levine breaks in, “No, no! What does country and its many counterparts get to have its own club. Music reaches millions and millions of people all over the world. It’s not supposed to be in a box.”

Judge Christina Aguilera weighed in with, “I think that’s a great speech Adam.”

And then Blake Shelton responded.

“I’m not sick of the fact that [country] is this exclusive club. And it’s up to us as country artists to protect who’s in that club. Otherwise, it gets too far away of what the heart and soul is of country music. If you don’t know where it comes from, how in the hell are you gonna know where it should go? That’s why we protect it.”

Gotta say, just like Trigger did, that is quite the about-face from the “old farts and jackasses” line Shelton was spouting a little mote than three years ago. I don’t know how sincere it was, but good for him for saying it. Now, if he follows this up with a change in his own music, so much the better.

And note, if you will, how similar Adam Levine’s take on country music is to that of Chris Stapleton:

“Music reaches millions and millions of people all over the world. It’s not supposed to be in a box.”

“…it’s all just music, man. If you like one of them, great, go buy it….I would rather people stop caring about lines.”

Now, they have the right to their opinion, but it’s rather disconcerting just the same, considering Adam Levine in all likelihood couldn’t tell you the difference between Bob Wills and Mark Wills. I eagerly await Mr. Levine’s eventual country album…or, you know, not.

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Still, though, Cindy Lauper recording a country music covers album looks…intriguing, reservations be damned. The whole “people from other genres going country” thing has a rather spotty track record as of late, to be sure, but that track listing is damn near flawless. Somehow I doubt Bret Michaels and Steven Tyler even know who Patsy Montana is. And I probably could do without ever hearing any version of “Hard Candy Christmas” again, but I would venture to guess that with the songs she’s choosing to record here, she’s probably going to be fairly true to the originals. We’ll see.

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Speaking of covers, I recently picked up Tulare Dust: A Songwriters’ Tribute to Merle Haggard, from 1994. I had heard a couple of songs from this album — Billy Joe Shaver’s “Ramblin’ Fever” and Robert Earl Keen’s “Daddy Frank (the Guitar Man)” — in a couple of different places. If I remember correctly it was on Sirius and 95.9 the Ranch. I really enjoyed those two songs but had not heard any of the other songs, but a glance at the list of guests on that album was quite promising — among others Iris Dement, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely, and Lucinda Williams.

Yeah.

Let me tell you, a tribute album is not always going to be a sure thing in execution even if it looks good on paper. I remember sometime last year, we picked up Lucky, which was Suzy Bogguss’ Merle Haggard tribute album. Suzy Bogguss  doing Merle Haggard, with her love of Real Country, can’t go wrong with that right?

Not so much. The best way to put my own disappointment in that album is like this: her renditions of Haggard’s classics, while sung quite beautifully, were done in a style not suited to them at all. It was the type of music that you’d drink White Zinfandel with as opposed to Jack Daniels or even Shiner Bock.

This album, though? Well, all of the above-mentioned artists’ cuts are my favorites — with Shaver’s rendition of “Ramblin’ Fever,” my very favorite Merle Haggard tune at the top of the list — but every single artist here did Hag proud, even though they’re not all note-for-note originals.

But don’t take my word for it:

 

 

Saturday music musings, 27.2.16

February 27, 2016

Well now, isn’t this something

While the opening of ticket sales for RodeoHouston’s lineup of concerts always leads to an online scrum for the best seats, plenty of tickets are still available for 20 of this season’s 21 concerts as of the weekend before the rodeo.

The 2016 RodeoHouston concert lineup includes The Band Perry, Chris Young, Jason Aldean, Jason Derulo, Cole Swindell, Shawn Mendes, Miranda Lambert, Pitbull, Brett Eldredge, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Los Huracanes Del Norte, Banda Los Recoditos, Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock, Jake Owen, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.

Like I said before elsewhere, that’s just a real dumpster fire all the way around. And it’s looking like the potential rodeo attendees agree. I told a college buddy who lives in Houston that you’d probably be better off going to the Hideout if you’re a fan of real music. Trigger at Saving Country Music had the best response to this:

“Look, I understand you’ve got to have some mainstream names to put butts in seats. This is all about busine$$. But are you really going to try and tell me that Cole Swindell and Billy Currington are going to draw better than if you put Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers on the same night, especially after they just name dropped your event in their last record together? This lineup sucks ass. They might as well just project a rebroadcast of the CMA Fan Fest on the side of the Astrodome and save the talent budget, or just loop the latest Now That’s What I Call Country CD over the loud speakers. All the great work artists like Aaron Watson have done on the rodeo circuit, and this is the lineup we get? Ever heard of Chris Stapleton? He’s like the hottest country music artist on the planet right now. Maybe look into it.”

Would Rogers, Bowen, Watson, Stapleton, and the like have sold better than The Band Perry, Jake Owen, and Brett Eldredge? I don’t know, but given the popularity of the first three here in Texas it certainly couldn’t have hurt to find out. (The San Antonio rodeo organizers certainly weren’t afraid to book Stapleton; he’s playing the rodeo here tonight.) It’d be interesting to find out what was behind those sales figures — especially those of The Band Perry, who have reportedly been catching a ton of flak from fans and others for taking a more pop direction with their latest music. It’s probably not a big stretch to conclude the two are related, especially considering their latest album was supposed to have been released last November but has been repeatedly delayed and in fact has yet to see the light of day.

At any rate, I just can’t help but point and laugh, because I don’t remember the numbers of unsold tickets being quite so high. Evolution of the genre, huh? Yeah, okay.

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Speaking of SCM, Trigger pretty much nailed Granger Smith to the wall:

Despite some declaring the #1 for “Backroad Song” as a victory for Texas country, it is anything but. It was Granger’s abandonment of Texas country and the values of that scene, and walking away from the decent songwriting evidenced earlier in his career that finally got him the commercial success he has clearly craved over the last few years.

In getting to #1, Granger ditched Thirty Tigers—the label/distribution company for many other Texas country artists including Randy Rogers Band, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Aaron Watson, The Josh Abbott Band, and the Turnpike Troubadours—and went with the newly-minted imprint of Broken Bow Records (Jason Aldean, Randy Houser) called Wheelhouse Records. There’s nothing Texas about Granger Smith’s #1 except that Texas was the scene he left behind to get there. It’s a shallow victory, if a victory at all; like proclaiming Kelsea Ballerini’s #1’s for purely pop songs at the top of the country charts as a victory for female artists.

Yep. All the great artists that come out of this scene, and Granger Smith is the one they choose to propel to mainstream stardom? It boggles the mind. I remember bitching about Pat Green’s Nashville output back in the day, but this business makes even “Country Star” sound like the second coming of Jason Boland and the Stragglers. In the comments it was suggested that Smith made the moves he did to provide for his family. Which is perfectly legit, but at the same time I think yet again of Aaron Watson. He has a wife and kids too, and I’m sure he’d like to provide for them just like Granger Smith wants to provide for his family. And you see how radically different their respective approaches were. They yielded different results, to be sure, but I think Aaron Watson’s approach probably worked out better when everything is taken into consideration.

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And speaking of Mr. Boland, you know why he’s awesome? Because instead of singing about tailgates and bonfires, he sings about “re-gentrify(ing) the shitty part of town.”

I gotta say, Squelch is really growing on me. I figured it might; after all, it’s Jason Boland, and how can you go wrong with that? This probably my favorite song on it right now, along with “Fuck, Fight, and Rodeo.” But I never saw that last one coming.

Still can’t be arsed to spin Traveller anymore, though. When I get my new Mac next week and get everything moved over from the dead one, it’s probably gonna go off the ‘pod…


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