Country Music People March 2019 - Page 27

Left: Tom Wopat and John Schneider as Bo and Luke Duke along with their famous 1969 Dodge Charger “General Lee” complete with its now controversial Confederate flag on the roof. Will and Sonny, Movin’ On. The cast of The Ranch, an American sitcom starring Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, Elisha Cuthbert, and Sam Elliott with a country soundtrack that debuted in 2016 on Netflix. Bradley Cooper with Lukas Nelson who was responsible for much of the soundtrack of the recent hit movie A Star Is Born. Bottom: Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw cosy up in Country Strong. “...the Wembley Festival inspired Nashville’s Fan Fair (now the CMA Music Fest)” Garth Brooks’ (If Tomorrow Never Comes). Both reached #1. In recent years we have witnessed Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, and Kacey Musgraves perform at the Royal Albert Hall and Brad Paisley play London’s O2 and a fair number of Nashville artists like Musgraves, Carrie Underwood and Kane Brown even find themselves on Radio2 playlists but that serious cross-over success tends to elude them. I would suggest that despite what we’re constantly told, country music is not bigger than it ever has been. It doesn’t even come close, and that is not the view through rose coloured glasses at a glorious past before the EU. There have long been stand-out artists in the genre able to resonate with a wider audience like Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton, and even Taylor Swift, and there have regularly been cross-over ‘novelty’ hits such as Faron Young’s Four In The Morning (#3-1972), Lynn Anderson’s Rose Garden (#3-1971), Red Sovine’s Teddy Bear (#4- 1981), Lonestar’s Amazed (#21-2000) or The Mavericks’ Dance The Night Away (#4- 1998) but in recent years an inclusion on a Radio 2 playlist can’t guarantee a hit. Historically, when a country artist enjoyed cross-over success it was because their record, or their voice, stood out from the crowd. It was different. Dolly Parton didn’t sound like anything or anyone else on the chart when Jolene was a hit, or ever, for that matter. Rarely has there ever been a voice as special as that of Jim Reeves, or as immediately identifiable as Johnny Cash. When Tammy Wynette enjoyed UK pop success it was because she didn’t sound like anyone else on the UK chart. The same could be said of The Mavericks or Red Sovine. Nowadays the plan is to sound like everyone else. So, despite what we’re being told, it seems that more recently country music has had less of a presence in the UK mainstream than previously. Maybe it proves just how successful the CMA can be with its press- releases and spin, or maybe it’s the naivety and laziness of journalists looking for a story? When it comes to UK radio, the once proud Radio 2 country show, the only ‘national’ show of its kind, has recently been moved to a later slot along with other specialist shows. Back in the days of Wally Whyton and our own David Allan, “Country Club” was a two-hour show every week. There was also a Saturday evening Country Greats In Concert series, a regular British Country series hosted by Neil Coppendale, and for a time an additional hour long show with Nick Barraclough on Wednesday evenings. David Allan recalls, “As well as my Radio 2 and TV jobs, I was also presenting weekly country shows for the British Forces and the BBC World Service and a monthly show for British Airways.” The upside for fans of today’s country is the availability of content available online. Numerous country blogs, often of dubious quality, are to be found on-line and radio stations from around the world are available via the MARCH 2019 - cmp 27