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My country doesn’t sound like pop music

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By Brad Bowman

 I latched onto music at the same time my interest in literature exploded.

Everyone has their own taste in music and literature, and each genre serves an individual purpose. I relax listening to Chopin or Nick Drake and rock out to the Rolling Stones or the Black Keys. When it comes to country though, I don’t put on this terrible pop fluff that everyone calls new country. My attendance at the Froggy Field Party 5 confirmed that. 

I’m sorry but I want to tell these pop artists I see on TV putting on a cowboy hat, fake twang and torn jeans doesn’t make your music any more country.

My idea of country gets called classic country or sometimes even folk or bluegrass. Hank Sr., Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys, and those types of artists who took pioneering steps fusing Frank Ferera’s Hawaiian pedal steel into their music or Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs that formulated the Bluegrass ensemble prototype stand as country to me.

Sure these artists pull from Appalachian folk and blues, but it’s not this new country the radio peddles to kids who have no historical reference to what country is or, as some would say, was.

I can stand behind Willie, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Cash and Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and George Jones. I can even reach to the stretches of Ray Wiley Hubbard or Howe Gelb’s projects like Giant Sand or Canada’s the Sadies, but not this, ‘chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit’ (lyrics from Blake Shelton and Friends) pop rubbish. I will never call it country. Call it what it really is—pop.

At the Froggy Field Party, I saw the spectrum of my syllogism. I watched Moriah and Jordan Bales play some original, honest music. Others, I won’t mention, played to the popcorn fluff dressed up in that costume y’all call new country.

The main act that night, Blackberry Smoke, made everything right. They constantly get called too rock for country and too country for rock n’ roll. They combine the great things about Hank Sr., Bill Monroe and the Marshall Tucker Band, and still rock it with their original spin. Their music greatens the divide of the ego-driven shallow waters of new country and why it is a fad instead of strong songwriting like the ‘Smoke.’

The Froggy Field Party and Kentucky Renaissance Fair hosts not only gave attendees a wonderful event, but hopefully educated the younger audience about what good music sounds like and that it doesn’t require a costume.