How Country Popped Its Way Into the Mainstream

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Post  misery guts on Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:34 am

Rich Hall's Countrier Than You
Acerbic, witty, Montanan stand-up & musician delivers lengthy doc on the history of country music, and plays a typical composition ("Working Dog") to various interviewees. He runs from the immigrant influences on the Appalachian Trail, the first recordings in 1927, various key figures like Jimmie Rodgers and Roy Acuff, and how Austin (Texas) is better than Nashville. By considering guys like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Michael Martin Murphey, it gave a fresher view than simply re-telling the sagas of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. He made sure to praise where due (eg Hank Williams and Willie Nelson) and shoot a few sacred cows (Taylor Swift and John Travolta). He finished up doing his song with Ray Benson, which he was flattered about.
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Post  misery guts on Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:03 am

Focus on... Shania Twain
Hurrah, a new series. This featured Phil Mack and Aveleen Rose introducing a whole raft of Ms Twain's videos, chatting about her albums, and odd other facts which weren't exactly novel. What did shine through of course were the less familiar numbers which haven't had the familiarity stamped out of them. Any Man Of Mine and Forever And For Always, to name but two.
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Post  misery guts on Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:00 am

Focus on... Faith Hill
Phil & Aveleen again. I thought this might be a struggle, as she's only known in the UK for two tracks, but her other ones were reasonable enough (aside from a needless cover of Piece of My Heart).
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Post  misery guts on Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:15 am

Focus On... Carrie Underwood
Former American Idol winner, who again hasn't really made any inroads in this country. Phil was this time joined by Sophie Craig, who seemed more assured. There were some good songs, some interesting duets, and collaborations too.
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Post  misery guts on Mon May 01, 2017 7:36 am

Focus On... Miranda Lambert
Nope. She's won Grammys, she was married to Blake Shelton, born in Nashville in 1983 as the child of detectives, part of the The Pistol Annies supergroup, and has done many reasonable country tracks with titles like Famous In A Small Town and The House That Built Me. Phil and Sophie presented this time.
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Post  misery guts on Fri May 12, 2017 9:05 am

Focus On... Blake Shelton
Phil & Sophie again. Blake was born in June '76 in Oklahoma, and has apparently scored 17 consecutive #1 hits, beating the old record which stood at 10. He met his latest squeeze Gwen Stefani whilst they were both judges on The Voice. His songs are much the usual.
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Post  misery guts on Thu May 18, 2017 8:57 am

Focus On... Brad Paisley
A more famous feature than some, his 1st LP was back in '99, born back in '72, started young, went to University in Nashville, signed to EMI and etc. Is often on the road with his Dad. Plenty of songs there.
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Post  misery guts on Wed May 31, 2017 6:50 am

Focus On... Dierks Bentley
Phil & Sophie again, with someone who was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame at the age of just 29. He was born in November 1975 in Phoenix, and his 1st name is in fact Fred. He self-taught the guitar when 13, met his wife Cassidy Black while at high school, married her in 2005 and they have 3 kids. Also part of the Cadillac Three. His songs were reasonable enough.
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Post  misery guts on Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:25 am

Reflections with Keith Bilbrey: Charley Pryde
He was one of 11, but only 8 remain. He was a baseball fan, and hoped it would be his ticket out of the cotton fields, until he cracked his elbow. Happily, he had singing to fall back on. He met Red Sovine in Montana, and was advised to go to Nashville. He was eager to record, and once he made his breakthrough, he never looked back. He had a song on the soundtrack of a Henry Fonda film, and was only 2nd to Elvis Presley for selling LPs on RCA. He was moved to join the Grand Ole Opry's Hall of Fame, with Brenda Lee doing the citation.

Live With... Courtney Marie Andrews
She's a young acoustic guitar player from Phoenix, Arizona, and her voice and songs were both good enough.

Focus On... The Dixie Chicks
Phil & Sophie back again with the country trio, 2 of whom are sisters. They had a political spat around the time of the Iraq War, and later went on hiatus. They've won 13 Grammys, and had their first big LP back in 1998.
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Post  misery guts on Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:23 am

Focus On... Keith Urban
Born in New Zealand, but raised in Australia, moved to the USA, and married to Nicole Kidman since 2006, with 2 kids. He's been a judge on American Idol, spent time in rehab, and made plenty of reasonable enough country records along the way.
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Post  misery guts on Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:41 am

Kris Kristofferson at Glastonbury 2017
Making his debut at the age of 81, KK ran through many songs I didn't previously know (I did like Jesus Was A Capricorn), before being joined superfluously by attention-seeking Johnny Depp who merely strummed a guitar for a couple of songs. Why guys like Kris need to be half-dead before they get invited here beats me.

Focus On... Martina McBride
Born in July 1966, her first LP came out in 1991. Her soprano voice invites comparisons with Celine Dion, although I don't see it myself. Her Dad had been in a band, and she was singing from the age of 8. She met her husband in 1989, by which time she had learnt keyboards. Garth Brooks gave her a leg up. She's been a guest coach on American Idol.
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Post  misery guts on Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:25 am

Focus On... Reba McEntire
Phil & Sophie back once more, on Kelly Clarkson's mother-in-law, who's 62 now. She signed to Mercury Records in 1974, had her 1st LP the following year, and made her Grand Ole Opry debut in 1977. Things took off when she got creative control for her 2nd LP. She's sold 85 million worldwide, and was here dubbed the "Queen of Country" (I think I'd name a few others as stronger candidates for that title). She's done some acting, and worked with Brooks & Dunn. Somebody's Chelsea seemed to be a track that summed up her sound.
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Post  misery guts on Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:07 am

Focus On... Tim McGraw
He was born in May '67 and married Faith Hill in '96. His first name is Samuel and he was an only child. His father was a famous baseball player who didn't accept the connection until he was an adult. He has 3 daughters, has released 14 LPs and won 3 Grammys. He has recorded duets with his wife (and notably Nelly of course, though that wasn't mentioned here, even though it remains his only UK top 40 hit).
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Post  misery guts on Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:00 am

Focus On... Toby Keith
Amusing stuff about a guy born in July 1961, married in 1984, and apparently screamingly wealthy. Also prone to do amusing songs/videos, like "I Wanna Talk About Me", "How Do You Like Me Now?" and "Trailerhood". Also got Willie Nelson in for "Wacky Tobaccy". And yet his UK profile is pretty much nil.
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Post  misery guts on Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:04 am

Focus On... Kenny Chesney
Born in March 1968 in Knoxville, of Anglo-Irish descent, and self-taught on guitar. He had a short marriage to Renee Zellweger, his family still live in Tennessee, he's made more then 20 albums and 40 singles, earns $42m a year, bites his nails, dislikes bar soap and is 5ft 8. His songs were alright.

The other news is of course the sad death of Glenn Campbell, after his long fight with Alzheimers (see elsewhere). Wichita Lineman was his finest hour, for me.
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Post  misery guts on Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:19 am

Focus On... Sugarland
It's always amusing to watch tributes to supposedly famous and successful acts you've never heard of. Apparently, Sugarland are a duo, Jennifer & Christian, who were a trio previously until 2005. They were regulars in Atlanta, and have performed at different times with Elmo and Beyoncé. Her brother Brandon is a member of Train, who are a lot more famous. But their songs were OK.
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Post  misery guts on Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:30 am

Focus On... Travis Tritt
Another star I've never heard of, though his songs were alright. He was born in February 1963 in Georgia, self-taught the guitar at age 8, signed to Warner Bros in 1987 and was part of a boom spell in country with the likes of Garth Brooks and Vince Gill. With his long hair and rocker image, he seemed not to fit in the stereotype. He's on his 3rd marriage, and it's lasted much longer than his first 2.


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Post  misery guts on Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:00 am

Focus On... Hunter Hayes
Another unknown quantity, who'll be 26 on Saturday. He's a talented multi-instrumentalist, born in Louisiana and was in music from a very young age, duetting with Hank Williams Jr on the accordion. He adopted a greyhound, but his songs were steady enough.

Focus On... Charley Pryde
At the other end of the scale, he's 83, 1 of 11 kids, his first love was baseball but injury pushed him to his back-up of singing, which was the world's gain. He preferred country to the blues. He recovered from a tumour on his vocal chords in 1997. For all his success in combating the stigma of racism, I don't know many other black country acts.
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Post  misery guts on Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:42 am

Southern Halo - In Concert
From Jumping Jacks, Newcastle, on Mar 22, 2017, a trio of sisters from Cleveland, Mississippi did a short set culled from their debut album, and with a couple of covers like Sweet Child O' Mine. After the gig, they chatted to Stuart Cameron, whose company were credited with producing the show, and who seemed to be responsible for the gig happening and being filmed. Still, they have the depth and talent to make it, with luck.

Focus On... Kacey Musgraves
Another young 'in, Kacey being just 29. But she started young and learned guitar in her teens. She's won a few awards, and has some good stagecraft, and songs too.
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Post  misery guts on Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:59 am

Another country legend, Don Williams, has died Sad
Williams began his solo career in 1971, amassing 17 number one country hits.
His songs, such as Gypsy Woman and Tulsa Time, were covered by many other singers - including Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend. Williams was known as the gentle giant of country music.
Other hits included You're My Best Friend, I Believe in You and Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.
RIP
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Post  misery guts on Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:53 am

Focus On... Chris Young
Born in June 1985 in Tennessee, won 'Nashville Star' in 2006, signed to RCA and the rest was history. His grandfather has been a musician in Louisiana, but Chris paid his dues in learning his craft. Suffered with illnesses like septic shock, and cutting tendons in one of his hands. Supports many charities, prays before shows and wears a bandana round his wrist to remember his friends. The songs were OK.
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Post  misery guts on Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:16 am

Focus On... Florida Georgia Line
Phil & Sophie looking at a fairly fresh duo, Brian & Tyler, who apparently originate from the two States in question, and who nearly called themselves Orange Peach as a result until more sense was had. I didn't really warm to their story, though the music was serviceable enough. They met in a worship session as university, as you do.
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Post  misery guts on Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:15 am

Focus On... Sheryl Crow
Thankfully someone I am familiar with, although they admit that she's not particularly a Country act. But she has sung with country acts, and has had her share of heart-aches if that's any qualification. It was more interesting to hear less familiar numbers, because I'm absolutely bloody sick of "All I Wanna Do".
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Post  misery guts on Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:11 am

Focus On... Luke Bryan
Born a year before me, albeit the son of a peanut farmer from rural Georgia, lost both his brother and sister along the way, had a long term friend in Travis Tritt, believes in blending genres and listens to hip-hop to prove it, happily married with 2 sons and a dog, has roots at Panama City. His songs were okay, I guess.
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Post  misery guts on Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:26 am

Focus On... Josh Turner
He turns 40 next month apparently, started off in gospel, studied in Nashville, has had 3 #1 LPs and 5 #1 singles (in the country charts, I suspect). He's a devout Christian, been married to the same woman since 2003. She's musical too and tours with him. His songs sounded reasonable enough.

Focus On... LeAnn Rimes
She started at a very young age, and was cutting albums & touring before her teens. Won 2 Grammys, released many singles and albums, good worldwide sales. Has a wide vocal range and won a talent show in 1991. They did some of her bigger hits, but no Life Goes On. Still, only an hour show.
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