I listened to whatever radio stations I could find on the long drive, so I’ll start with some praise for some excellent country radio stations in Texas. Yes, I said “excellent country radio.” I started out with the great Americana station KNBT FM: https://radionb.com/knbt
KOKE FM in Austin has a weak enough signal that I have trouble picking it up in San Marcos, but I can pick it up around Kyle/Buda. They play some modern mainstream country, plenty of Texas country/Red Dirt, and mix in the country classics. This time, I even heard The Time Jumpers. When’s the last time you turned on a radio station and heard western swing ? Coolness. https://kokefm.com/
Unfortunately, the signal doesn’t carry very far, but Austin has a good variety of stations. This time, I picked up a little of the iHeart station KVET after my KOKE signal gave out. The first song they played was classic George Strait. Yes, even “corporate stations” in Texas include good music. I’m looking at the “recently played” on their website, and the last two songs were from Conway Twitty and Tracy Lawrence. They play the modern people, too, but they make an effort to include some country tradition in the mix.
I listened to another iHeart station once that station gave out, Waco 100. They played more modern top 40 type country, but mix in a few older selections to keep it grounded. I am looking at their website now, and here were the ten most recent played on their station: George Strait, Billy Currington, Chris Janson, Brooks and Dunn, Midland, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Russell Dickerson, Dierks Bentley, and Carrie Underwood.
95.9 The Ranch out of Fort Worth is like KOKE in Austin in that it’s a well respected station among traditional country fans and very involved with curating their local scene, yet their signal is weak. I tried to pick it up when I passed through east Dallas, but the signal was good for a total of one song. The good news is that it was Stapleton-era Steeldrivers. I was very happy to hear that one. https://www.959theranch.com/
I was able to ride 95.3 The Range a long way, and they’re very much into traditional country, Texas country, and Americana. They played such acts as Wade Bowen, Cody Jinks, Tyler Childers, Chris Stapleton, and the Infamous Stringdusters.They mixed in a good many classic country songs, too. I even heard Charli McClain. http://khyi.com/
I heard various pop country stations in between those others, and during my drive through Arkansas and Tennessee, but there’s even a bit of quality mixed in there- Luke Combs, Jon Pardi, Midland,etc. I heard “More Hearts Than Mine” by Ingrid Andress in Texarkana. Yes, there’s a lot of crap on mainstream radio, but especially in Texas, there’s also some good.
I heard some women on the various stations along my 900-mile drive, too: Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Runaway June (heard theirs a whole lot), Lindsey Ell, Carly Pearce, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Kacey Musgraves,and Maddie and Tae. Obviously, it would be nice to hear even more women in the mix, but I definitely heard more this time than on a big road trip last year.
I attended Wynonna’s big interview session at the CMHOF (and I got there early and got on the first row). This lengthy interview is available for streaming at the CMHOF website. Wy and Cactus are quite funny. She has a new song coming out this week from an upcoming album on Anti Records. I enjoyed her last record, too. The video package before her interview included the video for “Ain’t No Thing” from that album:https://youtu.be/HdN8esuHT-g
The CMHOF itself is always a treat. I saw the new exhibits for Brooks and Dunn and Kacey Musgraves, and the reworked display on the early country roots. I have an annual pass to the CMHOF, so I will return there often this week. It’s such a nice place to enjoy as a “home base” during a festival.
I saw some of the honky tonk singers on Broadway. Taryn Papa was at Ole Red (which has awesome homemade tater tots). I saw her there earlier this year, too. She’s mostly modern country, but her set included a bit of everything, from classic country to Justin Bieber.
John and Lois Shepherd have been fixtures at Robert’s Western World for decades. John said he started playing Broadway in 1972. Lois didn’t perform, but I happened to sit next to her in the audience. She mostly wrote songs (including some cool trucker songs), and John sings them. Here’s an article from 2014: https://lifeisamakerfaire.com/2014/07/18/story/
John’s biggest hit, surprisingly, is the Miller Beer jingle, and he’s very proud of the fact that he got to sing it at the Grand Ole Opry https://longingforasong.com/2014/10/13/a-love-letter-straight-from-my-heart/
Two years ago, I was in Nashville for Americana week, and spent a Monday afternoon at Legends Corner listening to Katie Marie, then Kinsey Rose. I’m in town again for Americana week, and again, I went to Legends Corner on a Monday afternoon and saw these acts. I barely caught the last part of Katie Marie’s set this time. She’s a singer and a fiddler. Kinsey Rose’s band features steel guitar a whole lot. There was a Scottish songwriter in the audience who was visiting town, and she let him play a new original song backed by her band. I’m sorry I didn’t catch the guy’s name.
I saw the great Dwight Yoakam at the Ryman, which is one of the legendary places to see a show. Unfortunately, Dwight had voice problems due to what he referred to as a laryngitic virus. He powered through a full length show, despite the difficulty. He said he wanted to schedule another show at the Ryman after his voice gets back to normal.
Despite apologizing repeatedly to the audience, Dwight still put on a fun show, as he always does. At one point, he said that because his voice was different from usual, it seemed like a good time to try a Willie Nelson tune. Then, he lost his place near the end of the song, because he got distracted by doing that crazy thing with his leg. It was hilarious to hear him say it that way. He joked that if his voice became more of a whisper, he’d need to switch to covering Bill Anderson. You could tell Dwight was frustrated, but also how much it meant to him to entertain the audience.
This was my fourth year in a row to see Dwight perform, and each time was a different experience. Three years ago, I saw his interview session at the CMHOF, promoting his bluegrass album. Two years ago, I saw him with country-rock opener The Steel Woods. Last year, we saw the LSD tour at Red Rocks, Colorado with alt-country artists Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, and King Leg.
When I bought the ticket to see Dwight at the Ryman this year, no opener was listed, but our opener was hip hop/country act Willie Jones. You could tell that it meant a lot to young Mr Jones to be at the Ryman, and his parents were in the audience. Unfortunately, his style is closer to Florida Georgia Line than Dwight Yoakam. To Willie Jones’ credit, he did try to “country up” by including a nice Randy Travis cover. Most of his set had more of a hip hop feel, complete with DJ/hypeman. His closing song featured TI’s “Whatever You Like,” which just seemed weird at a Dwight Yoakam concert at the Ryman. The crowd seemed to respond well, regardless.
Anyway, I’m having a great time, and I’m glad to have a few minutes to share some of this great music vacation with my readers. I’ll be here all week for Americanafest and beyond, so I look forward to learning and sharing even more.
In other news, my September list just topped 50 songs https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_FemLPcAnqZM3UUNrx8AUP