Three women helped mold my impressions of country music at an early age: my Mother, my Nana and my Granny. The first time I remember listening to Country was when I was around three years old. I was dancing in the kitchen with my Granny’s hands in mine swaying back and forth… Granny did that from the time I was born. My Nana and I drove all over the state of California in her old Datsun pickup truck, pumpkin seeds all over the dash, listening to Classic Country the entire way. It was my Mom, though, who had the biggest hand in my love for Country music since she took me to concerts straight from the womb.
The first concert I remember is Johnny Lee, a furry-chested man wearing his cowboy hat with his shirt unbuttoned at the top. Ladies dressed in old country music tank tops with beads at the bottom and cowboy hats with the big feathers complete with their high-waisted jeans were the norm in the 1980’s. I would dance in the front, feel the music and love every minute of it…. not a care in the world, it was just me and the music. If it wasn’t for my Mom, Nana and Granny, I don’t know if I could have the same appreciation.
I’ve been to many country music concerts growing up such as Patty Loveless, Sawyer Brown, Alabama, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Eddie Rabbit and so many more. Tracy Byrd was my pre-teen crush, and it was my mother who pushed me to the front of the stage so I could touch his knee. It was at the Tanya Tucker concert where I had my first date, he was late, but thankfully so was Tanya Tucker. It was the Patty Loveless concert where things shifted as far as access to the artist. The venue put a fence in the back of the stage that we had to climb and throw our hands over it to get that handshake with the performer. Soon after the fence went up, reserved seating was created, followed by tables under the merchandise tent where everybody would run to after the concert to get a meet and greet with the artist. Now, due to the rise of country music stardom, to get that meet and greet you must pay for one on the artists website and hope that you are one of ten or so to get your wish.
Time has definitely changed country music over the years. Classic Country artists like Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Willie Nelson all told stories about life, love, jobs and drinkin’. They sat down, wrote from their heart, and sang these stories to us in small venues. What I miss most are the instruments that were used back then such as the banjo, the fiddle, and steel guitar – even the good ole fashioned harmonica! Thankfully, there are a lot of new artists that are reintroducing these to country music today.
Move forward to 2015, where terms like “Bro Country” and “Country Rap” are a commonly heard. Artists like Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, and Jake Owen seem to throw out hits as soon as they can, by the time you finally have learned the lyrics to one song, they’ve already thrown another hit on the radio. Many of these songs are pop sounding, fast paced, simple lyrics that obviously didn’t take much time to write. Now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the new country music. It’s catchy and hard not to sing along to. You can usually find that song about drinking, partying it up – and now Jake Owen has his real life that I seem to want to pull my hair out every time it comes on. Kacey Musgraves, who I call “a modern day Loretta Lynn,” has requested that they divide the country today and create “Country” and “Modern Country.” I am a Kacey fan, and I have to say, the idea of separating is ludicrous. Luke Bryan recently said, “Country is evolving, and it’s a beautiful thing.” Many artists from other genres are starting to try their hand at Country, such as Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Cyndi Lauper and Darius Rucker from Hootie and the Blowfish. It has always been said that if you want to make it in the music industry country music is the easiest venue. With the new country sound, it’s becoming easier for these artists to transition. At the end of the day, it’s different strokes for different folks. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s here, and it seems to not being going anywhere. There are a lot of artists that are breaking out their classic country roots, bringing back the long forgotten instruments and the twang we all seem to love and miss. I spend a lot of time looking up new music and new artists, there’s something really fun about following an artist from the start of their career and seeing where they go and being able to say, “I remember when…”. For now, we will have to see where country takes us, but I know one thing for sure, the classic, the new it’s out there, and it’s waiting to be discovered.
Here I am today, living my lifelong dream as a country music DJ for Best Country 103, where I can put to good use what I know and love and share with all of you country music fans. I’ve been doing this for six months now, and my creative brain is always turning on how I can engage with our listeners, so when I was asked to do a blog I eagerly jumped on board. I’m excited about this new project; it’s a great way to reach out to all of you, share what’s on my mind, what’s new in country music, and how my life as a country music DJ is going. If it wasn’t for those three women in my life, where would I be today? Who knows, but what I do know is music gives us some of life’s greatest memories, takes us through life’s biggest ups and downs, but most importantly music is relatable. When no one else seems to get you… music does.