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Senior Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 691
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 7:29 am:   Edit Post

I've never been a Country music fan, but about 1/4 of the songs in my current set-list are "Modern Country". Is it just me or is this genre not the most over-produced/processed stuff you ever heard? The formula seems to be:

1) Find a rejected pop song from the 80's
2) Change the lyrics to "something about cheating/lying"
3) Throw in a fiddle and/or banjo part (whether it makes sense or not)
4) Have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir do the backing vocals

I can't tell one artist from the other... it almost sounds like everyone is using the same band, producer, engineer, etc. What gives (or am I just an ass)?
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1564
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 8:44 am:   Edit Post

I live in Nashville, and am a recovering country player.

The industry collapsed in the mid 90's. All the labels became outposts of the worldwide majors instead of the local powers they once were. This played out simultaneously with the collapse of retail and the onset of usually criminally free downloads. And this was in the wake of Garth Brooks and Shania Twain, which essentially cleared the label rosters of small steady sellers: If you couldn't easily go multi-platinum and do world tours from the start, they weren't interested. Video and ProTools and Simon Cowell concentrated the label push behind sellable young faces more than ever.

Yes, the current model is to take a Seger/Eagles feel, put just enough fiddle or steel guitar or mandolin for just a whiff of flavor, smash it through the digital blender, and voila, here's your next single. The vocals are tuned beyond belief: You hear that revoltingly vocoder-like quality to the vocals, utterly vibrato-free.

But it's what it takes. Taylor Swift is a charming young girl from Hendersonville (a Nashville suburb) who is a remarkable songwriter. Cute as a button. But like a lot of songwriters, her vocal ability is very modest, to be polite about it.

But you have to remember: This is music business, and they exist to sell product, just like McDonalds slinging Big Macs or Ridgid selling pipe wrenches. But as I often find, music and music business are two very different things.

Fortunately, I'm here at the home of the Opry. WSM radio is a constant education in the history of the real thing, and IF you want a real education in the real thing, listen on-line weeknights to the Eddie Stubbs show from 7 to midnight Central ( Eddie is a player and a walking encyclopedia of this music. Not to be missed if you want to know more about it.

Country is like any other form of music: You get the big wide spread of the commercial successes, some good, a lot very average. Behind that, there's the real fan stuff that's really where the rubber meets the road. But listening to modern top-40 country radio is just dreck...check for the 'Americana' format and you'll be happier.

And oh yeah, it is the same handful of producers, engineers, and session guys: This is me-too-ville just like any other style of music.

If you want it straight, no chaser, catch the Marty Stuart Show on RFD Network if you get that. Tele twang, rhinestones, steel guitar. Or any George Strait cd usually washes that taste out of your mouth too. Or immediately go out and buy the Vince Gill masterwork 'These Days'. You'll feel better.

J o e y
Username: artswork99

Post Number: 1341
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 8:55 am:   Edit Post

Right on J o e y! Thanks for the good synopsis.
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 1454
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 9:03 am:   Edit Post

Yes Joey ! I think you know what you are looking at .
Thanks for the link to WSM.
Senior Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 692
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 9:58 am:   Edit Post

We get an "Americana" station on our cable TV... I'll have to check it out.
Senior Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 657
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 12:00 pm:   Edit Post


In 08 I spent a half a year playing out in a "modern country" band, and my only advice is not to put all your eggs in one basket. If it's only a 1/4 of your setlist, then I think you're off to a good start.

I came about the gig thru the singer & drummer who are veterans of the bars north of me in the sticks. They convinced themselves that if they ditched the classic rock and replaced it w/ all Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Brooks and Dunn, and Toby Keith, they'd be better received. I came on board playing pedal steel and banjo, our bass player came from a really good GB band background, and our lead guitarist was a complete 80's shredder.... We nailed all the material in a short time, and to be completely honest, once we "deconstructed" the new-nashville-slickness, it sounded really good!

With that said, our first handful of gigs weren't as well received as the singer & drummer thought they would.... Our sets consisted of what I would've considered the best of the best of what was on the two local "country" stations, and we only went as far back as Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt. The crowd didn't mind what we were playing, but they didn't expect that we'd be playing ALL country... They expected at the very least some Skynyrd, Allmans, and Marshall Tucker.

In the end I left because it wasn't the type of country I wanted to play, and if we added the classic rock, it wasn't the type of classic rock that I wanted to play.... So me and the drummer now play in a mediocre classic/R&B band and have a blast in the process!
Advanced Member
Username: lembic76450

Post Number: 250
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 3:16 pm:   Edit Post

I have to agree with you, to my ears, on most radio stuff it seems there are only, maybe, 2 different bass players. But, they have great sounding low "B" strings.
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 1456
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 4:20 pm:   Edit Post

I had quite a few country gigs from the late 7o's to the mid 90's and I really have to say that the material has really morphed into something that is almost unrecognizable to my ears from the " Older School" Country such as Ernest Tubbs ,Roy Acuff , George Strait, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings Willie Nelson .Etc ... ...

I noticed a change towards a more POP like feel with Eddie Rabbit( such as ; I love a rainy night) mid 1980's . Eddie Rabbit helped influence the cross over sound of Country. Then there was also the David Allen Coe type material ( You never even called me by my name ) and others . Country even back in the mid 1980's was reflecting a very broad spectrum of eclectic tastes within its self.

(Message edited by sonicus on December 04, 2010)
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 891
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 7:33 pm:   Edit Post

I love country music. As long as you're talking about Townes Van Zandt, Willie, Johnny Cash, John Prine, etc. Modern pop country sounds just awful to my ears, and I feel sorry for anyone who has to endure it unwillingly.
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 4662
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 - 9:11 pm:   Edit Post

The pop music of the 60's has evolved into the country of today - pap for the masses. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't some great players and acts out there. Isn't Alison Krauss country?

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 694
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Sunday, December 05, 2010 - 6:25 am:   Edit Post

This is interesting: I've been looking up "Americana" artist ( and best I can tell it is basically: "Country Music with Integrity" (LOL)!!! Bill: I saw that Krauss is on the list. I appreciate the point in this direction... I can definitely see the possibilities of taking some of this music and doing a reinterpretation.
Senior Member
Username: cozmik_cowboy

Post Number: 847
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Sunday, December 05, 2010 - 8:14 am:   Edit Post

"If there was a just god overseeing the world of country music, Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, and Joe Ely would be selling out stadiums and Toby Keith would be selling used stereos out of the back of his pickup truck."

Eric Volmers

I have no idea who Mr. Volmers is, but I've been a fan ever since I saw this quote in Jim McGuire's Nashville Potraits.

Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1567
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, December 05, 2010 - 11:59 pm:   Edit Post

I'd qualify Americana like this:

-You can really play.
-You can really sing.
-You can really write or recognize great songs from others
-You're not 'video-genic' and you appeal to the wrong demographic.
-T-Bone Burnett produced you last project.
-The only tuning on your project was the instruments, and nobody's reaching for the AlkaSeltzer if that last chorus was just ever so slightly rushing.
-Stations in Texas play your stuff, and don't open their FedEx's from Nashville.
-The consultants won't let them play your stuff on ClearChannel.
-Moby Teeth doesn't like you
-You'll never do the intro to Monday Night Football

J o e y

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