The Silence

Friday, November 26, 2004

Holidays sure do die things down a bit. It sure is nice in a way. Went Tues/Wed with probably 30 emails a day to Thurs/Fri with 1.

Happy Thanksgiving continued, and maybe I can get caught up on all the emails that I haven't read.


Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25, 2004

To all my country music friends, members, and people I don't even know that read my blog:

I wish you each a very Happy Thanksgiving.

From a country music prospective, this year I am thankful for so many things. The music is what is all about for me and so very thankful for the country music. So very much has happened in the past year as far as the newsletter goes. All the exciting things and hard work will be mentioned as I look back on the year in about 5 weeks from now. However, I am so thankful that I have you all that enjoy reading my comments, read my newsletter, and value my opinions.

I truly have some of the best people as members. If I am feeling down or un-motovaited, all I have to do is look at the list of my members and the passion I have for writing returns almost instantly.

Here in Richmond, Virginia, the sun is fastly fading down as the clouds continue to hover in the sky and the temperature drops from the mid 60's to a nice fall evening of 49 degrees. Another Thanksgiving holiday is coming to an end, however, the reflections that have been made today will continue on for many days to come.

Country Weekly's Calendar Insert

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Today, I got my Country Weekly in the mail, almost on time for a change. This issue was unusually heavy. The reason was in the center of it was a 2005 standard size wall calendar. Of course, its an advertisement for Chevy. Really good idea I think. Great picutres through it and very well put together.

I begin to think quickly when January 2006 arrives, how many of the artists featured will we actually remember?

Here is the list of artists featured:
Blue Country (January)
Josh Turner
Julie Roberts
Trick Pony
Katrina Elam
Dierks Bentley
Trace Adkins
John Michael Montgomery
Big & Rich
Blake Shelton
Gretchen Wilson
Rachel Proctor (December)

Looking through the list, there a few I sure hope will be around still. There a few that I sure hope will disappear even before their "month" shows up on my wall. September will be a very long month to look at this year, thankfully, it is only 30 days.


One Website To Stay Away From

Friday, November 19, 2004

you know, I love telling people about great sites to visit and love helping people out with their web experience.

This is one time, I am going to suggest one to stay away from.

cowboylyrics.com STAY AWAY.

Sure it has a good listing of lyrics. However, it is full of spyware and hidden downloads. I visited the site once a few months back and crashed my computer. I didnt know what caused it until today. I visited the site again tonight and noticed that it was downloading something. It downloaded a search bar which I cant stand, a rebate assistant of some kind, and at least 3 auto pop-up programs. Not pop-ups, but programs that generate pop-ups even just being connected to the net.

If you want lyrics dont visit this site, rather visit one of these:

http://www.roughstock.com/cowpie/songsnf.html
http://www.lyred.com/


Music Downloads; Cheap, Easy, Convenient, and Legal

Thursday, November 18, 2004

In the digital age we live in, one of the hottest topics in the past years has been downloading music. When it first began through sites like Napster and then Kazza it was highly controversial. The reason was based on it was basically stealing music, in which I believed it was. Sure, I had both programs and used them. However, the only songs I downloaded from the sites were songs that I either already had on a CD or that I intended to buy and wasn't available at that time to buy. The reason I would do it is the convenience of having the song right here on my desktop. It was a whole lot quicker than pulling the album from my vast CD collection, putting in the CD player, and playing it.

Now, we have services through walmart.com, Napster, I-tunes, and countless others that give us the music we want and more at a fair price and easier than ever to use. While I am typing here, I am currently downloading a full album. The first time I have done a whole album. Walmart.com Is priced at $0.88 a song or $9.44 an album in most cases. Literally, it took typing 2 words and 3 mouse clicks. A 16 song album took less than 10 minutes using a DSL connection. Amazing to me.

The best part of it all is the legality. Not that I feel like I'm gonna get slapped with a huge fine or jail time for downloading music, but I feel much better downloading a song that I know that all the people it takes to put an album together get their money. Ever looked in an album cover and noticed how how many people it takes to produce a CD?

I have used most of the services. Walmart I think is the best of them for a couple reasons. Ease of use, exclusive downloads that can't be found anywhere else, and the cheapest price. I also feel very confident in their site to actually work. Also, the files are in MP3 format, unlike I-Tunes that are in MP4 format that makes it very hard to burn to a CD for PC users.

I believe that this is going to be the new way of providing music to their buyers. It has to be a good deal for the people behind the scenes. Think about it. They don't have to pay for materials like CD cases, album covers, CDs, and the costs of making them. I think this is a win-win situation for the music makers and the music listeners.

The only downside to digital downloads of music for me is the lack of a cover. I love to look at the song listings, the photography, and the overall package of a CD. I think one day that this information will become digital as well. My suggestions is to add one file to the downloading process when you buy the full album that would include what we normally find in a CD cover today, and in this format, much more can be provided. Interactive links to go write to the artists website or links to other special features. Also, links to go buy even more from the artist and labelmates.

Happy downloading...easy, cheaply, and legally


Long Time No Post, whoops!

I hadn't realized until I was laying in bed watching a panel discussion that included a mention of weblogs on C-SPAN that it has been forever (any the web-world anyway) since I have posted.

Also, I can't believe it is already the 18th of November. Where is time going. Life has become so fast paced that it is hard to believe the date on the calendar when you see it. However, a fast paced life can be good in some ways. This is a good thing when it comes to my life and Country Music Alive.

I stay so busy because Country Music Alive is a one man operation. I do it all. From this blog, to the website, to the newsletter writings, to the reviews, to everything else that comes under the header of "Country Music Alive" is me. Some people always ask, why don't I get people to help me. Well, its a good question. I think it has to do with my passion for this service I provide. I get so much gratitude from my readers and visitors that I want to be sure what I provide is exactly the way I want it. Not that I don't value other opinions and ways of doing things, but I enjoy the control and knowing that every new member, every reader, every visitor to my site is my work and thought. It gives my site a bit of an edge to it among the other sites like mine. However, I have yet to find another service quiet like Country Music Alive.

I do value opinions of my readers and visitors. I whole-heartly support their point of view and opinions. That is the reason the MSN Group exsists. If you visit the group, you will notice I don't post much...then again it is a fairly slow board in the first place. The reason I don't is because that is a place for my members, visitors, and readers to have their say. I get mine about every 9 days when the newsletter is published or what appears on the website. The board is for people just like you to have your voice heard.

I do stay very busy from reading countless e-mails, press releases, websites, member comments, listening to many albums and keeping current on what's new, hot or not, and writing and preparing the information you get presented to you. I think everyone of you would be amazed how much time and planning of that time it takes to provide the service.

And you know what....

I love every single second of it.

As Always, Keeping Country Music Alive,
Kirk Fitzgerald

CMA Awards: Performances

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The performances this year at the CMA Awards were, well,
as aspected. Nothing spectacular that I will remember for
years to come, but none of them that I will remember for
being overly bad either.

Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss had to be my highlight of
the show, talent wise. What awsome vocals. We, as
country music fans, are so very lucky to have these great
talents.

The most entertaining performance of the evening was
Shania Twain with Billy Currrington. It was neat to see a
performance "act" during the show. Having a set of each
of them talking to each other on the phone was kinda cool
to see.

The rest of the performances were good, from Gretchen
Wilson's performance of her newest single "When I Think
About Cheatin'" to Alan Jackson and Patty Loveless
performing "Monday Mornin's Chruch" it was a great night
to showcase the talent of our artists.

CMA Awards: The Winners

Friday, November 12, 2004

Iregardless of how I actually voted for the awards, overall, I was happy with the results. There is always one or two that I don't agree with each year. This year it was two.

Before I get to those two, lets look at the ones I agreed with or can see why they won that I have heard a little of disappointment in. Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chensey deserves his award; his tour this year was creative, fun, and did incredible in sales. His album sold very well and still is. Also, Chesney's overall persona is an ideal spokesperson for the CMA. I think this may be the reason in the long run that the members voted for him. I also think this may be the reason Toby Keith missed out on it.

Male vocalist also has been a topic of discussion. Keith Urban deserves it I believe. He has been everywhere this past year. Your turn on CMT, GAC, look at his tour schedule, and most look at the charts. He has had huge success from his album "Golden Road, and that sucess has been consistent. The album came out Oct. 8, 2002. It was certified double platinum this past June and still is getting airplay. His newest album, "Be Here" has gone platnium in 6 weeks. His international success also plays apart in it I believe.

Now the two I wasn't happy about:

Female Vocalist. Yes, Martina is a big success, a voice like no other, and one of country music's most loved artists. However, I believe this year was Sara Evans' year. She has gained incredible star status this tear with singles like "Suds in the Bucket", "Perfect", and has been all over magazines, television, and radio this year (both on country and non-country places.)

Vocal Duo. Again, Brooks & Dunn are talented. This year though, let's face it hasnt been their best year. An album that has done fairly well and an overall low-key presence, with the exception of Kix Brooks as President of the CMA. Montgomery Gentry has exploded this year. Great songs, incredible album, and such a fun duo for the fans. They have done so much for country music and its fans by bringing in new fans due to their rock edge to their traditional country sound. They also have done a lot of work for the troops. These guys deserved this award this year.

Next, we will take a look at the performances from the artists during the show.

CMA Awards: The Show Itself

Thursday, November 11, 2004

In the last day, I have read tons of posts from people talking about the CMA Awards. Some good, some bad, some people that just enjoy picking fights and demean the industry, some that "their" artist could come out with no voice, sing the wrong song to the music, and cry and still think that artist was the best of the show.

I thought this show was a bit different. The pace of the show was real fast. I felt that I was watching a marathon showcase. I think it was a good thing though. It gave the chance to about 18.5 million viewers to see what country music is all about. The show easily took first place in the ratings for the evening.

I was very happy with how things went, though, may not the best show they have done. I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of retospect the Vince Gill usually helps bring to the show. This is a time not only for award presentations and performances, but also a chance to take a look back at the year's accomplishments. What was missing the most was a tribute to the indutry members that died in the past year.

I was happy with the overall show, keeping it entertaining, fast moving, and acceptance speeches meaningful but not too long.

In the next few days, I will take a look at what I thought of the award winners and what I thought of the performances.




Country Music and Politics

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Now that the election is over, I have seen a few stories on major cable news networks looking back at what part music played in this year's presidential elections.

No matter what your political views are, country music has won again.

President Bush's campaign included many big names in the spotlight at rallies all over the United States from the country music world. Toby Keith for instance I know showed at one of the events, and I'm sure there were more.

Each night on the FOX News Network's "Hannity & Colmes" they had a few second clip from the campaign trail for each candidate and their music they were using at rallies called "Sounds from the Trail." John Kerry's included Bruce Springsteen and other classic rock artists. President Bush's included country almost exclusively. In post analysis of the election by news networks, they came to the conclusion that basically domestic and moral issues (such as gay marriage) were largely the issues at focus, more so than international (like Iraq.)

I fully believe that the music was an influence on the election, maybe not as a actual campaign issue, but definately setting the stage for what background and the lifestyle of each canidate have.

The citizen's spoke and just maybe country music influenced it as well as more exposure to the great music from the country artists.




Outlaws; dont forget

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Hank Williams Jr., Kid Rock, Gretchen Wilson, Montgomery Gentry, Big & Rich, Tanya Tucker, Jessi Colter, Shooter Jennings, Metallica’s James Hetfield and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington, Billy Powell and Johnny Van Zant joined together for CMT's Outlaw Concert last week.

You are probably thinking Im going to go off in a rage about how this is a mess and no need for a show like this. Well, you're wrong. This special was full of badass rocking country.

I was about of my seat a few times so into the show, and would have if it wasn't for all of the commericals. If you haven't seen this special, I'm sure CMT will re-run it at 50 times or so (ha).

The attitude of country was alive that night. Country does have style within of major attitude. Attitude in music is good. This is what is bringing more fans to the music and is at the soul of country music.

However, one thing. Are these really "Outlaws" Hank Jr. can be the exception. Our real "outlaws" are quickly dying off or dead already. These artists may have some of the attitude, but nothing close to the real outlaws. Welcome the new Outlaw sound, but never never forget the real outlaws...such as Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck, David Allan Coe, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and oh yes, Hank Williams Sr.