COUNTRY….on the move

COUNTRY….on the move

     The word ‘country’ sure has a lot of different
meanings, and sometimes the meaning is irrelevant to it’s original
dictionary definition.  I, of course, find it’s meaning in music, which
I’ll talk about later, but ever since the election, the word ‘country’
has been a very revealing word used in some incredibly different ways.
     In the heat of the campaign going up to the final election,
a lot of celebrities who really dislike Donald Trump, swore to get out
of the ‘country’ if he was elected.  The loudest among these was Rosie
O’Donnell, who used her diatribe in heated and exhausting clamor to say
repeatedly that she was “leaving the country” if Trump was elected.  I
don’t get it.  Trump was elected, but she’s still in America.  What does
that make her? There were a number of other actors, if you will, who
screamed the same thing to anyone who would listen, yet they are still
in our ‘country.’  I don’t get it.  What does this make ALL of those who
so loudly proclaimed these threats.  Well liars I suppose, but wait a
minute…actors ‘are’ liars.  They ‘act’ like someone else, they imitate
someone else, they even become someone else every time they ‘act.’ 
They get paid to actually ‘be’ someone else.  Well so much for that use
of the word ‘country.’
     Another meaning for the word is sort of my favorite.  I,
and my little family, wife Sheila and daughter Bobbie Lhea travel a
great deal.  We’ve been to many different ‘countries’ on planet earth,
performing our version of America’s old-time ‘country’ music.  Hardly
any of those ‘countries’ are the same, at least music wise.  We spent
30-days in China performing what ‘they’ called ‘old-time’ music on a
huge fashion show.  We’ve spent 50 tours (or more) to Europe visiting
many ‘countries’ performing what they call ‘traditional American
country’ music.  And the amazing thing about all this travel is that
‘country’ music performed by the natives of the various ‘countries’
we’ve visited, is never quite the same.  They all have a deep and
abiding affection for America’s ‘country’ music.  Not so much today,
this kind of ‘country’ music is too pop-oriented for them.  The older
‘country’ performers who are imitating American music try very hard to
keep some of the early elements that made ‘country’ music ‘country.’ 
Wow, this is getting interesting huh?  Our biggest observation was how
‘country’ music sounded differently by local players in every ‘country’
we visited.  We found it fascinating.  Ireland and England definitely
have a closer grasp of the ‘country’ sound, but Holland, Germany,
Austria, and even France all play ‘country’ music, but their
interpretation of it is somewhat different, in each and every case.  The
further south we traveled, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, the more
likely ‘local’ musical expression invaded the American style of
‘country’ music.  One of our favorite places to visit, actually we have
two in southern Europe.  Barcelona, Spain, is an absolutely beautiful
city with incredible traditions they still keep very alive.  However
there are some super musicians there that like American style ‘country’
music, and they play it well, but outside that particular location,
except for a few good bands in Madrid, ‘country’ music is exactly what
that means, it’s music from their own rural areas, and each area can be a
little different, and each area offers different interpretations of how
they play American ‘country’ music.  Portugal, another of our
favorites, is a country that has a minimal number of musicians playing
American style ‘country’ music.  However those who play it, have a
determined mind-set to make it sound as much like George Jones, or
Johnny Cash, or Loretta Lynn, or Dolly Parton as they can get.  That
makes for an interesting listening experience, especially in those
countries that have a heavy ‘accent.’
     My favorite definition of ‘country’ is in our own back
yard.  “Country’ to me, simply means ‘rural’ America.  You know, the
ones that are called ‘deplorable’ simply because they saw a need for
change in American politics. Politics however, plays no part in the
‘music’ I so adore, which is simply called ‘country.’  Now I guess,
we’ll need to call it ‘rural’ music because of the incredibly major
changes that have befallen this traditional music. We no longer hear the
steel guitar, pedal or otherwise, or the fiddle in modern ‘country’
music.  We still hear it plentifully at our festival in LeMars, Iowa and
our smaller event in Fremont, Nebraska, but it’s still there, and it
still makes the case, rather brilliantly, of what is ‘real’ country
music.  Honky-Tonkers and outlaw country are also now on the bandwagon
about what is ‘real’ country and what isn’t.  It’s an amazing display of
opinion devoted to the hip-hop-rap-punk country that now exists in
America, very little of which could be described as being a real
‘country’ kind of music.  Unless of course the ‘country’ of America has
changed so much that tradition, sincerity, style, and ‘classic country’
music no longer exists.  Aaaaah, but it does, big time. The ‘charts’ and
the ‘artists’ of today’s ‘country’ music do have a monopoly on who gets
heard, and what we hear, simply because they control the radio play
list and the chart listings.  But out in the ‘real’ country, the music
still contains all the elements of ‘rural’ music. And that’s not likely
to change as long as we have so many really good musicians and
vocalists, and songwriters, who maintain the ‘country’ image as it
always has been.

By Bob Everhart, President, National Traditional Country Music Assn. for Country Music News International

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