The Hodgepodge: Dear Close-Minded Independent Country Fans…

Hipster_Dylan
Credit: Bananarepublicof9gag Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

You weren’t expecting this, were you? Well take a seat and listen. As an independent country fan, you’re well aware of the likes of Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, American Aquarium, Wade Bowen and Rosanne Cash. But I’m not addressing all independent country fans. No, I’m addressing the close-minded part of that fan base. Who are the close-minded? The ones I see online everyday refusing to listen to anything offered from mainstream country music. No matter how good that mainstream country music is, they refuse to even give it a chance. Their attitude is: “If it’s mainstream, it’s bad.” In other words, you’re essentially a hipster. You refuse to give something a chance if it’s popular. You have to be different and listen to something that’s obscured. Well let me get this out right up front: you’re hurting country music as much as bro country fans and metro-politan fans are hurting the genre.

Yep. You read that correctly. You’re just as big of a problem as the very people you mock. You’re no different from the Sam Hunt fan who refuses to listen to Sturgill Simpson. You’re the Randy Rogers fan who refuses to listen to Tim McGraw, not because you think McGraw’s music isn’t good, but simply because he’s mainstream. You’re the same person who hated Sturgill Simpson for signing with Atlantic Records, all because you wanted to keep him in your own realm for your own selfish reasons. God forbid Simpson tries to make a better life for himself and his family with this great opportunity. You’re too worried that you can’t see him play in dinky little dive bars anymore for pennies, while Simpson makes pennies from it. See what I mean about you hurting country music?

What prompted me to write this letter is the announcement of “Dress Blues” being featured on Zac Brown Band’s new upcoming album Jekyll + Hyde. That song of course is a Jason Isbell song that was featured on Isbell’s first solo album. It’s a beautiful song with raw emotion about the cold reality of fighting wars. The song is patriotic without the clichés and cheesiness you’ll see in Toby Keith’s ‘Murica pride songs. Simply put this is a song that everyone needs to hear. This discussion about “Dress Blues” started months ago when the Zac Brown Band played this song in a pre-show for the College Football National Championship game. Many started to speculate that this would be covered on the band’s new album and sure enough it is.

Zac Brown Band covering “Dress Blues” does two big things. One it introduces more substance to the mainstream country scene that badly needs it. Second of all it provides more exposure to a phenomenally talented artist like Jason Isbell and at the same time Isbell makes some money off the sales of it. This is a win-win situation. Isbell himself has endorsed Zac Brown Band covering it and shared a link to pre-order it on social media channels. He’s totally on-board with this, but what do a lot of his fans do? They bitch and moan about it. They refuse to even listen to it because Zac Brown Band is mainstream and everything mainstream sucks in their mind. Here’s a small snippets of comments from Isbell’s Facebook post on the news:

Idiot Fans

Now granted there are some people congratulating him on this and leaving nice comments too. Many are saying they listened to Brown’s version and say they prefer Isbell’s version, which is fine. They were open-minded and gave the cover a chance at least. But just look at these comments above. No wonder Isbell never looks at his Facebook page (I know I try to avoid Facebook). His Twitter page doesn’t seem to have these kind of comments, so maybe this is just Facebook people being Facebook people.

Nevertheless it just pisses me off when independent country fans can’t be happy for their favorite artist to be covered in the mainstream or join the mainstream. Choosing to be close-minded on top of this is just infuriating. I listen to all types of music now. I remember when I was close-minded and pretty much just went with whatever was popular. As a result I missed a lot of good music from several genres. I’m a much happier music listener now that I pretty much explore any kind of music that peaks my interest. I have so much music to listen to anymore that I can hardly keep up. It’s a good problem to have. This is all because I opened my mind up to new music. Sure I’ve come across music I hate, but you don’t have to like everything you try.

All I’m saying to you close-minded independent country fans or any close-minded music listener is this: just give it a chance. When you come across something new or a mainstream artist is covering a less known artist’s song, just give it a chance. I won’t kill you to listen. And if you don’t like it? Just move on. And more than anything be happy when the Jason Isbells and Sturgill Simpsons of the world get these great opportunities. Be a real fan, don’t be a hipster douche.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some music to listen to…

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Kacey Musgraves’ lead single from hear sophomore album, “Biscuits” will officially be released next week. I’ll have a review on it early in the week.
  • Lindi Ortega has released a new single, “Tell It Like It Is,” the lead single off of her new upcoming album. I’m not going to wait until the review to tell you what I think of it either: it’s really good and you need to listen to it. It makes me even more excited to hear this new album from her.
  • George Strait will not only be performing at the 50th ACM Awards, but will be debuting new music. No other information on the new music has been said, other than the fact this is new music from Strait. Considering the situation mainstream country is in right now, we could use some music from Strait. Save us King George!
  • Ronnie Reno will release a new album titled Lessons Learned next Tuesday. For those unfamiliar with Reno, he’s know as “Bluegrass Music’s Youngest Old-Timer.” Ronnie at one point was joined up with the Osborne brothers and the trio won CMA Group of the Year in 1971. After that Merle Haggard hired him away, which allowed him to sing alongside Haggard and his wife Bonnie Owens on songs such as “If We Make It Through December” and “Ramblin’ Fever.” He also wrote Conway Twitty’s #1 hit “Boogie Grass Band.” I’ll have a review on Reno’s new album next week.
  • Allison Moorer will also release a new album next week titled Down To Believing. She’s the former wife of alt-country artist Steve Earle for those unfamiliar with her and this will be her first new album in several years. The lead single she released for the album last November sounded pretty promising, so I’m looking forward to hearing the album.
  • RaeLynn just released a new single called “For A Boy.” This is in fact not off of her terrible Me EP she released back in January. So I guess I should prepare myself to review this one. I’m not going to make Derek review more RaeLynn material because that would be cruel.

Throwback Thursday Song

Sammy Kershaw – “National Working Woman’s Holiday” – Last summer I decided to explore Sammy Kershaw’s catalog of music and my only regret is that I had not done it sooner. To me he doesn’t get near enough credit that he deserves for his great library of music. He kind of got overlooked in the 90s because of the superstardom of Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and George Strait. If you haven’t heard any of his music I highly suggest going back through his catalog (start with his greatest hits album and go from there).

Non-Country Song of the Week

Chris Mann – “Roads” – Back when I was a regular watcher of the show The Voice I wasn’t really impressed by a lot of singers. At least not enough for me to become a fan. There were a few however that did impress me enough to make me a fan. One of those artists was Chris Mann, a classical and opera singer. Now I listen to all genre, but this isn’t usually my cup of tea. But Mann absolutely blew me away with his dynamic vocals. Fun fact: RaeLynn and Gwen Sebastian were also contestants the same season as Mann. He’s only released one album so far and I’m looking forward to his sophomore release.

Tweet of the Week 

How could anyone not like ice cream? Or Sturgill for that matter?

An iTunes Review That Will Make You Face Palm

Another Dumb Hunt Fan

You know I’m just shocked Hunt fans are aware of Hank Williams. And why aren’t they listening to Hank instead?

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments! 

Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry & Glen Campbell Among 2015 Country Grammy Winners

Grammy

The 57th annual Grammy Awards hasn’t even begun its televised portion yet, but most of the Grammy awards have already been given out. The Grammys really started at 4 pm ET online. You probably didn’t realize it. No sweat, we’ve got you covered country music fans! Several country and American roots awards have already been announced and here are all of the pre-telecast awards that have already been announced.

Carrie Underwood won the Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance. She beat out Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban. Carrie was pretty excited about it and took to Twitter to express her thoughts:

The Band Perry won the Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. It was a minor upset, going against some of the bigger names in country music.

Glen Campbell won the Grammy for Best Country Song. Again another one people didn’t expect, but I kind of expected it. Part of it is sympathy vote, but this song is pretty good and I don’t see how anyone can say it wasn’t deserving.

Rosanne Cash swept the Americana categories at the Grammys, winning Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album. Her only previous Grammy win came in 1985. This brings her total up to four. It’s certainly well-deserved, as her 2014 album The River & The Thread received lots of praise from critics and fans.

Unfortunately this also means Sturgill Simpson is not a Grammy winner. You really can’t complain though. He didn’t even belong in the Americana category, he belonged in the Best Country Album category. Cash’s album was Americana and Sturgill’s was not. If you should be angry about anything with Sturgill it’s that he was put in the wrong category. I wouldn’t get too upset though. This is likely the first of many Grammy nominations if Sturgill continues to make great music.

Hank Williams’ The Garden Spot Programs won the Grammy for Best Historical Album. I completely forgot it was nominated, but I’m glad to see it recognized. One of the greatest country icons is still winning years after his death. Long live Hank!

And last, but certainly not least Old Crow Medicine Show’s Remedy won the Grammy for Best Folk Album. Not a big surprise, as Old Crow Medicine Show is the most well-known folk band in the country. I certainly don’t object either, as Remedy was a finalist for Country Perspective’s 2014 Album of the Year. It’s a great album I recommend checking out if you haven’t heard it yet.

The Grammy for Best Country Album will be announced during the televised portion of the show. We’ll be sure to have a post on that. In the meantime, what did you think of these winners? Did the Grammys get it right?

Predictions for Country & American Roots Categories at the 57th Grammy Awards

 

Grammy

The biggest music awards show of the year is almost here. The 57th Grammy Awards airs tomorrow night at 8 pm ET on CBS. While I don’t put a lot of weight behind awards validating artists, being recognized by the Grammys for your music is considered one of the highest honors an artist can receive. Unlike country awards shows, the Grammys actually feel like a serious affair instead of just bro country tool bags dancing around and doing hilariously bad sketches. The nominations for the country and American roots categories this year is certainly interesting. These aren’t the worst nominations possible, but they certainly aren’t the best either. Regardless there are some talented artists nominated that are certainly deserving of winning. But will they win? Let’s take a look at the nominations and I’ll let you know who I think will win each. Keep in mind my predictions will probably be more off than on. Predicting these aren’t as easy as the country awards shows.

Country

Best Country Solo Performance 

  • “Give Me Back My Hometown” – Eric Church
  • “Invisible” – Hunter Hayes
  • “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Something in the Water” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Cop Car” – Keith Urban

 

Who I Think Wins: “Something in the Water” because the Grammys seem to like Carrie and this song has been on fire as of late. This song is also most deserving and the Grammys usually award the most deserving of the nominations.

Who I Would Pick to Win: “Something in the Water”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

  • “Gentle On My Mind” – The Band Perry
  • “Somethin’ Bad” – Carrie Underwood & Miranda Lambert
  • “Day Drinking” – Little Big Town
  • “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” – Tim McGraw with Faith Hill
  • “Raise ‘Em Up” – Keith Urban with Eric Church

Who I Think Wins: “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” because I’m not sure. I have no idea who wins this one really and I’m just taking a guess. I don’t see Little Big Town or The Band Perry winning. But the other three could all win.

Who I Would Pick to Win: “Gentle On My Mind” because it’s fantastic and so much better than the rest. This is without a doubt my favorite performance ever from The Band Perry. They proved to me on this song that they can make great country music. It’s doubtful to win, but I highly recommend getting this song if you haven’t got it yet.

Best Country Song

  • “American Kids” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Give Me Back My Hometown” – Eric Church
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” – Glen Campbell
  • “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” – Tim McGraw with Faith Hill

Who I Think Wins: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” because this is not only the clear best of the bunch, but it also has the sentimental vote. Campbell is 100% deserving of the award and the Grammys I’m sure will recognize this.

Who I Would Pick to Win: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”

Best Country Album

  • Riser – Dierks Bentley
  • The Outsiders – Eric Church
  • 12 Stories – Brandy Clark
  • Platinum – Miranda Lambert
  • The Way I’m Livin’ – Lee Ann Womack

Who I Think Wins: Miranda Lambert’s Platinum because this is the third time she has been nominated for this award and she lost the previous two times to Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band. I just don’t see her losing for a third time. The critics have praised this album profusely, it’s had good sales and I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t win.

Who I Would Pick to Win: Lee Ann Womack’s The Way I’m Livin’ because it’s clearly the best album amongst the five. It was one of the top albums across country music in 2014. It was an amazing comeback for an artist that hadn’t made a new record in several years. If there’s one category in country I’m cheering the hardest for an upset, it would be this one.

American Roots

Normally I wouldn’t cover this genre because I’m not familiar enough with it to give a fair prediction and analysis. However if you’re a country music fan that follows the industry closely, you know I exactly why I’m covering the category below. I’m of course referring to Sturgill Simpson being nominated for Best Americana Album when his album was clearly country. Yet last year Jason Isbell should have won this award for Southeastern and he wasn’t even nominated. I digress.

Best Americana Album

  • The River & The Thread – Rosanne Cash
  • Terms of My Surrender – John Hiatt
  • Bluesamericana – Keb’ Mo’
  • A Dotted Line – Nickel Creek
  • Metamodern Sounds in Country Music – Sturgill Simpson

Does Sturgill Simpson Win? 

Well he’s going against a tough field of Americana artists. These are some of the best in that genre and are definitely not slouches. Conventional wisdom says Rosanne Cash wins this award because of the universal praise it has received and the stature of her name. But she’s nominated in other categories and I could easily see her winning those awards (Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song). So I don’t think Cash would win this one too if she wins any of those other awards. Nickel Creek is one of the biggest names in Americana and folk, so they’re another favorite. A Dotted Line however wasn’t as well received from critics as previous albums.

Sturgill Simpson up to this point has defied the odds. Nobody ever dreamed Simpson would make it this far, including Simpson himself. He thought Metamodern Sounds in Country Music had a better chance of bombing than succeeding! Yet the album not only sits in the top ten of the iTunes chart currently (after being released in May 2014), it has also reached top ten status on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart ahead of several marquee names. Simpson has had numerous upsets already, so why not another upset? We’re almost trained now to expect the upset. I think he has a much better chance than we all think. I’m going to say he does the unthinkable again and wins his first Grammy.

Who do you think comes away with gold on Sunday? Be sure to give your predictions below!