"Are you ready for the country
Homegrown that is?"
I believe there are two kinds of music - good and bad. In the British Isles we have produced many artists that have influenced American music. They have been influenced by previous artists from the States and so it goes - forever evolving. So why in this country do artists that delve into roots music i.e. Blues, Country, Rock n' Roll etc, always fall foul of the 'snobbery' and narrow mindedness of so called fans and enthusiasts? I'm thinking particularly of readers of magazines such as No Depression, Bucketful Of Brains, Comes With A Smile and such like. Nothing against these mag's I may add but just the fact that readers over here seem to have this obsession with because it's British based its not authentic - that's Bollocks.
Steve Earle openly admits that his first major grasp of country came from The Stones song 'Dead Flowers'. Back in the 1970's Brinsley Schwarz a British based band that included in its line up Nick Lowe, Martin Belmont etc, made some glorious country influenced music on the London pub rock scene. Ronnie Lane had done it for years. In the 1990's there was also The Rockingbirds - excellent purveyors of country music. Country music unfortunately fights against the caricature of Cowboys and Indians and the alternative scene has these sad equivalents of 'trainspotters' enthusing over some obscure American act that they've probably discovered on the internet when something just as good is going on in this country and these 'tossers' will not support it because 'it's not American'.
So I recently took part in a discussion with Stuart Cameron of Radio Caroline and the Hot Country News web-site www.hotdisc.net.
What follows are segments from the articles published on the Hot Country News web site on the 14th, 21st and 28th Feb, 2002.
'One of Britain's best singer-songwriters of the past few years, Tejay Holandes has hit out at some of the British Country Music fans who gave her a hard time at the recent UK Radio Awards show at Camberley in Surrey.
In an exclusive interview with Hot Country News, she told me that "at the awards it was never more evident how blinkered and ignorant the so-called country music fans in Britain truly are."
"We were considered too-rocky and non-country… Our presentation was young,
fresh but most importantly ALIVE ON STAGE. The result was contempt with only
a few of the audience (mainly younger members) getting into our sound,"
"UK Radio Awards? I played three tracks well played on radio and nobody from the audience seemed to know them - what's going on?????? This music scene is being read its last rites and artists like myself are taking our music under the banner 'Americana' to people outside the scene where we are having more success. To use the term 'Country' is death to us due to the bad and rightly deserved reputation that those who seem determined to keep musical evolution back have given it."
"There is a huge number of people out there who would love to see and hear some ballsy country bands but we are put of by gunslingers and Indians…you are killing the very thing you say you love. Rock on the revolution - its begun!!!!!"
Gary O'Dea - " I echo Tejay's comments and thoughts whole heartedly. Some of the audience at Americana UK last year (2001) looked and acted like 'dumb old boys' not 'good old boys' - if your songs weren't about 'your truck driving granny dieing with your dog in a collision with a train' then you were ignored. We went into Bob Marley's 'Exodus' just to make a point, while they waved Confederate flags."
Chris Jackson - '…one of the most important festivals in the UK, Chris Jackson of the Americana International event which is attended by thousands of music and motor vehicle enthusiasts each year, and also who spotlights new and existing country music acts…he had this to say about the so called country fans in the UK who do not give many of the newcomers who want to take country music forward a chance…
"I agree with Tejay 100% - she is a superb singer songwriter who deserves to be heard by a younger and more appreciative audience…The Americana has long championed acts that do 'original' material. How else are we going to hear new songs if the audience won't accept the artists that are prepared to give them something refreshingly different from a covers band? Unless a band does at least 50% original material they will not get on at the Americana at all! We are fed up with seeing and hearing the same old bands doing the same old material over and over again at every British Country Music event."
"Gary O'Dea was spot on when he mentioned about some of the Brit country fans at Americana last year. He (along with another excellent artiste Bap Kennedy) performed some very different country-related original songs. Both these excellent artists were on the whole not accepted by these so-called fans of real country music. Would I put them on again? Yes I would! I believe that they should be allowed to showcase their material and professionalism to as many people as possible."
"It's time everybody stood up and started to accept these excellent new
artists because soon there just won't be anybody left to go to a country club…A
final thought - we had BILLY JOE SHAVER, KIERAN KANE, KEVIN WELCH, THE AUSTIN
LOUNGE LIZARDS, THE AMAZING RHYTHM ACES and others on the festival. Some of
the audience voiced their opinions by saying that none of those acts were country.
Doesn't that show you what we are up against?"
Hot Country News 14th, 21st and 28th Feb, 2002.
This is not about 'pity poor me - or us' it's a sad fact of life that all music except perhaps the genre's of Rap/Garage etc, are 'oh so safe and sorry.'
There is a stand to be made for 'British - Roots Music'. It's not about beards and wooly jumpers, cowboy hats and boots, but real songs by real people.
Billy Bragg is a purveyor of British Roots Music. But that doesn't mean we are all from Essex. Bap Kennedy has produced some wonderful country flavoured material of late - he's from Belfast. B J Cole - one of the finest pedal steel players in the world is English.
Me - I'm from ' The Peoples Republic of Tipton' in 'The Black Country' and f*****g proud of it.