Where is Mauritius?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Today, I have was looking through the list of my subscribers to the newsletter. I was checking out where people hear about the site and such. Also, love looking at the locations of the subscribers. I have members all over the United States of course, a few friends as members here in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia, Canada, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Australia. I know where all these places are. Easy geography. Then well, I came across one recent addition in the country of Mauritius. That's when I had to head over to The World Fact Book to find out where exactly this place was. I found out that it is in Southern Africa, an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. Wow. This ranks right up there with the member in Crete.

I am not bragging. I am bringing this up to make a point. Country music is an international love. There are fans of the music everywhere. It is amazing that something that is thought of an such an American tradition is truly loved all over the world. It is always said that music is an international language. I agree. I have always thought of country music being fairly regional though in the vast world. The U.S., some in Canada, the UK, and Australia. However, I am learning in my 11 years of writing that this isn't the case.

It makes me so proud to be a country music fan and even more privileged to be able to spread the word of county music in my writings all over the world.

If you are a country music fan and read this blog, I also invite you to visit my website and join the newsletter. The website, this blog, and especially the newsletter is free of charge. The website is http://www.countrymusicalive.com

FOX News Report: Kenny Chesney Isn't Gay

Last week, I was on the FOX News website looking some information up about a press conference that President Bush had. As I was scrolling around, I see in bold print "Kenny Chesney Isn't Gay." It was in their FOX 411 section, Foxlife, a part of their entertainment section.

Ummm.... ok. I have a couple questions. 1-Why is this something a writer thought needed to be brought up? 2-Why on FOX News' website and on its main page. 3-Does anyone care?

Sure, the rumors have been floating around and always a rumor started about someone. I know that, but come on. A major news corporation doesn't need to do a story on it that talks about some flight attendant saying that she was his lover. Who really cares? I certainly don't.

Why not do a story on the music, or lack there of of from certain artists. How about something with substance about country music. Who decided this story needed to even run? I just don't get it. I slept just the same and certainly didn't feel informed by the end of reading this mini-article.

It is amazing to me where I find information, what's next.

Opie and Anthony: Takes a Look at Country

Thursday, January 19, 2006

XM Radio's Opie and Anthony took a look at country music today in a bit where they commented on the top 10 country songs this week.

As a fan of the show, I know a lot about these guys. They aren't exactly for everyone. This is a show for adults that don't get offended easily, to say the least. They are 2 guys that have been in the radio business for quiet sometime, mainly in the Boston and New York radio markets. These are your pretty typical New York dudes that have an remarkable talent to do very good radio. They aren't country fans, and commented today and in the past they don't understand the music.

That makes sense to me. Country music isn't for everyone. No doubt.

Steve, one of the guys that help run the show, made a comment early on in their conversation answering a question that comedian Patrice O'Neal (filling in the 3rd spot for Jim Norton while he is working on a television show) asked about what makes a country song a "country song." Steve commented on that the mechanics of a the songs remain the same and its about the story and lyrics of the song. That is something that a lot of non-country fans don't understand and why they don't give it a try like that should. Its about the lyrics and the story... You have to actually listen to the music for awhile to really grab a hold of the music at its core.

One thing though I found really cool about this radio bit was the following. First, they gave it a try and really listened. Second, they included country music fans in the conversation and also a couple that didn't. Third, even though they may not have noticed, but they made a lot of good points about the music.

The bit turned into naming the song and then trying to guess what the song was about before they played it. They didn't do so well. Funny stuff, but they were reading way too much into the titles and trying to take what little knowledge of the stereotypes to make their decision. So in doing that, they showed that there is indeed some good songs in the style.

For instance... the songs we love as country fans are simplistic in lyric, though go much deeper. Example was in the #1 song of the week, "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood. They guessed it would be about asking Jesus taking over the wheel of the car etc. (including very funny comments about how possibly drinking involved.) However, they did notice that the song was about something deeper than the lyrics. It has a spiritual connection to it.

Sure, since they were talking and thinking of what to say to entertain us listeners, they missed a few of the actual lyrics. But hey, they got the just of the song.

Opie and Anthony are true music fans and know music. Even though country isn't there choice of music, they understand the music on a certain level. I feel the same way about rap, R&B, and other urban styles of music. Do I like it? No, not really. Do I understand how someone could like it? Sure, I understand the connection between culture and lifestyle. They also know that their listener-base is all over the country and now even in Canada. They know they have country fans listening and thought they would give it a try.

I applaud Opie and Anthony for giving the top 10 exposure and a try today on the show. Sure they were joking with it and having fun, but it was done in a way I felt comfortable with. Why? Because I understand these two crazy guys. A first time listener may not feel the same way, but if you listen to them long enough, you will see everything and everyone gets joked on.

Early 2006 Tours: Fans Get What They Want

I've been looking through all the tours that have started or announced so far for the first half of the year. Boy, the fans are really getting a of treats. Are the artists finally seeing the light of what is going to bring people into the seats?

  • Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley, Sugarland
  • Gretchen Wilson, Blaine Larsen, VanZant
  • Brad Paisley, Sara Evans, Billy Currington
  • Toby Keith, Joe Nichols, Scotty Emerick
  • George Strait, Tracy Lawrence, Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride doing a solo tour, performing a full 2 hours
  • Tim McGraw and Faith Hill to tour again

Pretty cool huh? This trend is so nice in country music. The tours have a little something for everyone. Most of the larger tours now even have 3 artists on the tour. Sure, that means a little less time for the 1st two artists, but that's fine.

I love these tours that have a lot of talent and something for everyone and grabs the most exposure to the artists as possible in the evening. Sure, they will come out for Kenny Chesney, but while there, get the chance to hear some of Dierks Bentley while they are there, that has a more traditional country sound to him. Just maybe get a fan of two hooked on real country.

David Kersh Saying Goodbye

Friday, January 06, 2006

David Kersh's Letter

I've seen this item posted on several websites in their news sections. David Kersh is leaving country music. Um, I thought he already did. Sure, he did some decent stuff in the late 90's was pretty good. The last album released was in 1998. If I'm reading the calendar correctly, its 2006. 8 years. Pretty long time has gone by since that last album.

"My heart is just not in the music business anymore. I can't deal with all of the BS that goes on in this industry now. Nothing is in my control anymore and it all just makes me a miserable person."

Well, Mr. Kersh, that is the time to get out. Nothing I can think of worse to hear is an artist that doesn't have his/her heart into it. Though, I know Nashville is a nasty business to be in, but if you really want something and really believe in it, you deal with it. Kersh saying nothing is in his control is not exactly correct in my opinion. There plenty of small, independent labels out there that I gaurntee would give him the chance to make his music. So, please, don't give me that line. He is still officially signed to Curb records he said further in his letter. Heck, their tons of artists that would die for that chance just to be on a label of that magnitude. I don't care if they don't give you the control. Giving up on it isn't what I would do, no doubt.

I wonder how long exactly did it take him to get that chance to be on Curb? I wonder a lot of things about his letter that I don't exactly know the answer to. That's ok, I personally don't need to know. My question is why he decided a letter was even needed? I haven't reported or thought about his music probably since 1999 or so. Close the website, silently, and vanish into the world like so many others have. Furthermore, why has the media picked up on it? Interesting to think about.

Another side point, I certainly hope this doesn't make any flames burn out in those that do want to be given the chance. Yes, its tough. Yes, a lot of things are not in your control. Yes, you deal with it. Especially if there is a spark wanting to share your love for music with the world. I've never done it, nor have that dream to sing, but I've been told by many its worth every bit of the barriers to live out a dream.

A look ahead..2006

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Well, what do I think we can expect from the upcoming year? I would love to say that the mainstream country music would get a lot better, a turn to a real traditional sound, and everything would be perfect. But, I am not one to dream. I am a realist.

In the new year, I do see an improvement in the country industry. I believe that a lot of truly talented artists are going to breakout of their molds and either turn to an independent label or be given more artistic freedom from their major label. Look at the success of Lee Ann Womack's past year with her traditional country album.

I believe that Big & Rich will fade away, along with the rest of their friends or "Mafia." I believe the fans of country music overall have spoken. They like their pop-country, but not something like B&R.

I also believe Craig Morgan will continue to have great success and will be accepted as an established artist, as he should be thought of.

The big thing for the upcoming year I think will be more lesser known artists getting exposure thanks to Satellite Radio and the FM/AM dial trying to keep up. A few years ago, a song like "Swinging Doors" from Joey Daniels would have never been heard on radio, even though its an excellent song. I think we will see more of that as well.

The big artists will remain big, the majority of the music will stay the same, and more of the status quo, with a few minor tweaks overall.

These are my predictions and thoughts, I guess in a year from now we will truly know. Time always tells.

Best of 2005: Albums

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Country Music Alive's Top 5 Albums:

1. "See If I Care" by Gary Allan
2. "Honky Tonk University" by Toby Keith
3. "Be Here" by Keith Urban
4. "Jason Aldean" by Jason Aldean
5. "There's More Where That Came From" by Lee Ann Womack

Gary Allan makes the numner #1 spot because it is the best example of country music's magic. An album of such intense personal reflection on a tragic event in his life is a true example of the true to life emotion of country music.

The Best of 2005: Artists

Country Music Alive's Top 5 Artists of 2005

1. Keith Urban
2. Toby Keith
3. Craig Morgan
4. Gretchen Wilson
5. Sugarland

What a year for these artists. Keith Urban released a great new album, new DVD, Entertainer of the Year, and I know first hand that he is bringing in new country music fans. It only takes one artist to catch the attention of a non-country fan to grab them and get hooked.

Toby Keith just below Urban basically because Keith doesn't have the massive crossover influence ability. Yes, it is a strong one and a talented artist, no doubt. The new album is one of the best of the year and put on one great tour this year.

Craig Morgan has had his best year ever. The #1 song of the year according to Billboard, a long list of hits, and also one of my favorite albums of the year. He also has lead the industry in showing that you truly can be successful on an independent label, get airplay, and also continue to be true to the music.

Gretchen Wilson had a great year. One of the most anticipated albums of the year, chart success and her impact on country music is stronger than most acknowledge, especially on the single female mother.

Sugarland is in at #5 for their impact on mainstream music as well as their success directly in country music. They are a great group, but the true test will be 2006.

Looking Back....

Monday, January 02, 2006

I sent out my 2005 Year in Review earlier this week to my newsletter members and thought it would be a good idea to go into some more detail. A personal reflection if you will, on the past year.

To me, the big story of the year is independent labels. Some of the greatest music of the year came from the independent labels. Broken Bow Records had to be smiling as they look at 2005 with the success of Craig Morgan, having the #1 country single of the year according to Billboard and the great year debut artist Jason Aldean has had. Also, Toby Keith went out on his own. His first single from the upcoming album is playing on XM. Garth Brooks also went independent. Clint Black released his 2nd album on his independent label, and gave Little Big Town a second chance in the industry, creating a great album and had a very successful year.

Also, I have the privilege of reviewing and hearing many artists on very small independent labels. You know what? Some of the best music I have heard this year have come from those artists. Jake Kellen is an example of that. In 2005, that is where the true talent was found...on the independent labels.

Sure, the larger labels did have a few good albums hit stores, but I think those albums were the result of some of the pressures of what is coming out from the independents.

I am so happy to see this turn in the music business. The best thing, I believe, would be for several independent labels to be in the industry. Not too big, but just big enough to be noticed. Broken Bow is a great example. They have room for maybe one or 2 more artists. More than that though would set them up for the possibility of becoming apart of a major label. Not a good idea. Toby Keith's label Show Dog/Big Machine has room to grow as well. 2006 can be an even stronger year for these smaller labels.

In the upcoming days, I will take a look at the best albums of 2005 and predictions for 2006.

Happy New Year everyone and I look forward to a bright 2006.