Country Perspective’s 2015 Duo/Group of the Year

When it came to determining the winner for Group or Duo of the year, the main factor we took into determination was impact. All five groups we nominated delivered quality music and carry a dedicated fan base, but which of the five made the biggest impact to Country and Americana music? Maddie & Tae’s Start Here left quite the impact on mainstream country. Start Here is a great album and showed that Maddie & Tae are poised to take a position of leadership in country music, but this is just the beginning for the duo. The fact remains that they have room to grow and certainly have the potential to improve, build off Start Here and be the female leaders of country music that the Dixie Chicks were once upon a time. However, there was one other pair whose traditional country music album release left a bit bigger impact. Country Perspective’s 2015 Duo of the Year is Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen.

Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen’s Hold My Beer album was a career defining album for each Texas singer. In a time where Texas country musicians continue to let the new Nashville sound influence their music more, blurring the line that once separated Texas country from the rest of the genre, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen showed leadership expected from two of the genre’s most well-known names.

Rogers and Bowen both dabbled their feet on a mainstream label, while not entirely abandoning their roots in the process. After failing to make a mainstream impact, they’ve both returned to independent labels for their new music. Rogers and Bowen said country music can still be country music and proved it with Hold My Beer. From traditional country heartbreak in “Til It Does” to fun protest with “Standards;” from covers of country greats like Merle Haggard to originals celebrating friendship, Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen let their talents speak for themselves. And even though “Standards” was rightfully named Song of the Year, “El Dorado”, the five-minute chronicle of a dying cowboy, may be the album’s best song. Randy & Wade are established enough in the genre where their decisions carry more weight than newcomers. In respect to their position in the genre, this leadership in the fight for traditional country music cannot go unnoticed.

Randy Rogers has been hard at work this year with his own band recording new music. He has promised that the band’s new album due out next month will continue his delivery of traditional country music. This year Wade Bowen also appeared on Jamie Lin Wilson’s debut album in a traditional country duet about lovers regretting their affair. Hold My Beer doesn’t appear to be an anomaly, as both Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen seem poised to continue bringing traditional country music to the forefront of the genre.

3 thoughts on “Country Perspective’s 2015 Duo/Group of the Year

  1. Zack December 22, 2015 / 11:39 am

    I admittedly thought this album was great rather than AOTY, but I’ve gone back to it, and I’ve got to say I’ve been loving it more and more with each listen! There’s really a song here for everyone and the cool part is that it all blends together seamlessly. Definitely a solid choice for duo of the year. I actually guessed this right! (Which makes my total 2/7…..)

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  2. Cobra December 22, 2015 / 11:56 am

    Couldn’t agree more.

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  3. Nadia Lockheart December 22, 2015 / 12:39 pm

    Solid call! =D

    They landed one of the very best albums of 2015. And I boldly predict that their effort is going to retain some staying power as an essential listen, even if it is never a breakout seller, among communities and circles that truly matter.

    Maddie & Tae released a damn solid debut album of their own that has made a surefire impact, but not enough to where I think it sizes up to how influential Wade Bowen/Randy Rogers have been. Time will tell how much staying power Maddie & Tae have in the mainstream, but it has to be encouraging that “Shut Up & Fish” has outpaced “Fly” in terms of comparing chart runs thus far. On the other hand, sales have been poor thus far (it’s #81 presently despite solid YouTube returns for their video at 1.6 million after two weeks) and they’re going to have to pick up if they are to regain momentum on all fronts. Either way, they deserve a most honorable mention.

    As with Houndmouth, Turnpike Troubadours and Blackberry Smoke; they all released great albums, but I felt all three spoke to very distinctive audiences unlike Wade Bowen/Randy Rogers hitting the traditional country sweet spot smack dab. Houndmouth have been more of an Alternative crossover sensation (“Sedona” reached the Top Fifteen on Alternative radio) with a sound that defies genre. Blackberry Smoke are more straight-up Southern rock. Turnpike Troubadours is the most decidedly country group among the three, but their style is more Red Dirt specific. I just felt, with all things considered, Wade Bowen/Randy Rogers spoke most directly to country music as a whole in 2015 among groups/duos. But every one of these are winners in my eyes! =)

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