This was not what I had anticipated.
I was born and raised in very rural Midwest. I still live in the Midwest, but in a much more urban area. Just like many 90’s babies, I was raised on country radio. Play any 90’s / early 2000’s song that hit country radio and we can sing every word together. While I still listen to mainstream radio here and there, now we obviously have a lot more access to different forms of country music than ever before.
I never want to engage in the whole argument that “country isn’t country anymore.” I feel like country music is the base of a tree and all of the different types of music are the different branches, with some obviously being closer to the base than others, but the point is, we don’t all have to sit on the same branch. Whiskey Riff does a really great job of highlighting artists from all the different branches and giving fans exposure to people they likely never would have heard about just by listening to the radio or random Spotify playlists. With that being said, I admittedly spend a lot of my time sitting on the pop country branch.
Despite having this natural preference, I am always open to other branches of country music and I also love concerts so if I’m home with no plans and there’s a show I’m curious about, I’m probably going to go. Last night, I went to my first “Texas Country” concert, to see Ward Davis, Sunny Sweeney, and Tennessee Jet. I bought a Sunny Sweeney CD back in 2011, when “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving” was my 19-year-old jam. I haven’t listened much since them and I’ve only listened to a few songs from Ward Davis. I didn’t really have any expectations going in, just wanted to be open minded.
First off, it wasn’t too crowded and I ended up in the front row without evening meaning to. As always, I made some new concert friends, but they were different than my normal concert friends. One proclaimed his favorite artist was Waylon Jennings, then proceeded to show me his Waylon arm tattoo. The other told me his dog’s name is Bocephus. We talked off and on throughout the night between sets, by the end of the night we were comparing our calendars to figure out which shows we were all going to next.
I’m not going to go into an analytic rant about the details of the show, if you want to know about it, you can go see it for yourself. Let me just tell you it was good. By good, I mean really good. It well exceeded the expectations that I didn’t think I had. The songs were so relevant to my life and the lives of everyone in that room. The talent on that stage was undeniable. Not that I didn’t think there would be, but it just struck me. At some point during the show, I just fell in love. I can’t explain it, it just happened.
It probably didn’t hurt that I was surrounded by people who were so passionate about this music and this branch of the genre. There may not have been that many people there, but it sure didn’t feel or sound like it. This fan base is hard core in the best way possible. Everyone was buzzin’, happy, and singing along at the top of their lungs, but more than that, they were so appreciative of the talent in front of them. I go to a lot of shows and I haven’t seen or felt anything like that in a long time. Everyone was so caught up in the show that it felt like it ended so abruptly. Then I looked at my phone and realized it had been almost 4 hours.
I went into this show with an open mind, but with a preference to a different side of the country spectrum. I expected to have a good time and see a good show, but I didn’t expect to fall in love. I’m telling you all of this, because I want to emphasize how important it is to be open to all kinds of country music. It doesn’t matter what your main preference is, you might be really surprised what you can find in other places. The last show I had been to prior to last night was pop country, tonight I’m seeing a show that’s more Americana, then who knows what will be next. Try something new, give a new artist a real listen, you might like something you never thought you would.
Life is too short to be rigid and stuck in one place.