COUNTRY MUSIC IN SCOTLAND FEATURE
temptation is always to dilute the music to accommodate listeners coming over from other genres.
At worst, what you can then end up with is an amorphous non-form which reduces its constituent parts — a little country. a little folk. a little rock and pop — into a bland. homogenous amalgam. much as happened in the 70s with jazz-rock fusion.
The latest gambit to emerge from the marketing think tank is to sell the music to that expanded market as New American Music. thereby down-playing that embarrassing ‘c’ word (and its even more embarrassing ‘w’ pal). Understandably, a lot of musicians are a little uncomfortable with this concept. including at least one of those involved in the New American Music 95 tour this month.
‘Yeah, I had a little trouble with that at lirst.‘ Marty Stuart admits. ‘For me. it was like eating chicken and not calling it chicken. We are what we are. I’m a hillbilly. I’m a country music singer, and that’s what I play. I really didn‘t understand the thinking behind calling it American music — of course it‘s American music, and the reason it‘s American music is that we are country musicians, so I guess I don‘t really have a problem with that.
‘I think we have to understand that big as it is right now. country is a lot like jazz or blues or bluegrass. It’s not for everybody. same as rap’s not for everybody. There‘s always gonna be pe0ple who don’t relate to it. and that’s okay.‘
Stuart’s partners on the tour are Trisha Yearwood and Emmylou Harris. who was one of those people who didn‘t relate until Gram Parsons converted her in what was ‘a significant turning point for me. I come to country music with a folk voice. but I was drawn very passionately to a certain majesty and grace and restraint and economy of line which country songs have. and there are so many areas to explore within the music.‘
Harris is in the vanguard of the current generation of women singers who have cast aside the old restrictions on what women could and could not sing. a liberation begun by the likes of Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette in the 603, but which has now taken on an
Country has become the most welcoming haven for sitiger-songwriters of many kinds. attracted by the genre’s traditional love of well- cral'ted songs with good stories. and unashamed emotional expression. lts burgeoning popularity does bring problems of quality control and the temptation to cash in on the short term dollar rather than the long haul. as singer Kathy Mattea pointed out.
‘l‘herc‘s a danger of that happening every time we have a big feeding frenzy like we‘re seeing
Waylon Jennings: ole school country outlaw
now, which is often the price of pop culture. I think we as an industry have to stick with the things that are going to serve us well. If it does get off track. though. it will level out again, and the people who were in it for the music will still be around, because that is how you build a loyal following.‘ L]
The New American Music Tour 95 is at the SliC'C on Fri 14; The Legendary Ladies of (:‘auntrv (with Skeeter Davis, Jan Howard, Jeannie See/y and Jean Shepherd) are at the Pavilion Theatre an Sun 9.
held court. and Bakersfield. California. stronghold of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. They held out for a rougher. rootsier alternative to the Nashville sound (even when they recorded there): Dwight Yoakam is their closest disciple among the new crowd.
lang, Lyle Lovett. Nanci Griffith, Mary-Chapin Carpenter or Steve Earle. The shutdown began when lang was banned from country radio (for her outspoken anti-meat stance rather than her sexual orientation) in 1990. and the hat acts have reigned supreme on the
music industry at least from the 305 onwards, and evolved the mainstream country production values defined by lush string section (and later synthesizer) accompaniments for singers, whether traditional country (Patsy Cline, George Jones, Loretta
The Mavericks: kick-ass country rock
Lynn. Tammy Wynette). crooners (Jim Reeves, Charley Pride). or pop crossover (Roger Miller. Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton).
I Anti-Nashville The 70s reaction to Nashville mores centred on places like Austin. Texas. where Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings
I New Traditionalism The rise of country rock in the 70s. led by The Byrds, Gram Parsons. The Eagles. and Linda Ronstadt. and the dominance of the Nashville crossover sound brought an 80s return to traditional country values in the work of singers like Emmylou Harris. Ricky Skaggs, Reba Mclntyre. The Judds. Rodney Crowell. George Strait, Randy Travis, Vince Gill. Kathy Mattca and Dwight Yoakam.
I New Country In a parallel development. country opened its doors — for a time, at least — to more experimental directions explored by ‘outsiders' like kd
I New American Music A marketing response to the rocketing sales of Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus in the rock market, NAM is a catch-all means of avoiding calling it country, with any naff associations it might have. Country is what it mostly is. though. and other 905 high flyers include Clint Black. Alan Jackson, Ricky Van Shelton, Joe Diffie, Hal Ketchum, Marty Stuart, Sammy Kershaw and Travis Tritt among the men, and Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, Suzy Bogguss, Martina McBride, Faith Hill and lris DeMent. So far.
The List 7-20 Apr 199519