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Thursday, February 05, 2009

February 5, 2009
Scott Foley

I asked an industry friend what he thought was the pinnacle year for americana radio. Such a question, of course, implies that those days are behind us, assuming that the Uncle Tupelos and the No Depressions and the Jayhawks were the purest water we'd ever pull from this stone. His response, "Oh, I don't think we've even reached that peak yet."

Brings to mind an old couple on the porch in shorts and white socks, talking about, "These are the good ol' days." While radio will never "get it" with americana or any other quality genre, there is presently as much great music for the taking for programmers (and consumers) who are willing to sift a bit. 2009 albums by Buddy & Julie Miller or The Gourds will keep the proverbial door propped open for artists like North Twin, Otis Gibbs or Joe Pug. It's only up to progressive americana programmers to forego a spin or two of Lucinda Williams in favor of Graham Lindsey ...

* Joe Pug, "Call It What You Will" Nation Of Heat EP (self, 08)
* Avett Bros, "Murder In the City" Second Gleam (Ramseur, 08)
* Crooked Jades, "Waiting City Shining" Crooked Jades (self, 06)
* Eliza Gilkyson, "In My Dreams" Hard Times In Babylon (Red House, 00)
* Gretchen Peters & Tom Russell, "Blue Mountains Of Mexico" One To the Heart, One To the Head (Frontera, 09)
* James McMurtry, "Peter Pan" It Had To Happen (Sugar Hill, 97)
* Steve Eulberg ~ instudio guest re: Colorado Dulcimer Festival 09
* North Twin, "Hope It Goes Away" Stronger At the Broken Places (self, 09)
* Robert Earl Keen, "Dreadful Selfish Crime" Undone: MusicFest Tribute To REK (30 Tigers, 08)
* Jason Isbell, "Cigarettes and Wine" Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit (Lightning, 09)
* Ruthie Foster, "Joy On the Other Side" Truth According To ... (Blue Corn, 09)
* Buddy & Julie Miller (w/Emmylou Harris), "Selfishness Of Man" Written In Chalk (New West)
* Auld Lang Syne, "Where My Fortune Lies" Where My Fortune Lies 7" (Viper Bite, 08)
* DeVotchka, "Hot Burrito #1" Sweetheart #3 (Starbucks, 09)
* Mark Olsen & Gary Louris, "Saturday Morning On Sunday Street" Ready For the Flood (New West, 09)
* Ana Egge, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" Road To My Love (Parkinsong, 09)
* Boris McCutcheon & the Saltlicks, "Peace With the Pines" Bad Road Good People (Frogville, 08)
* Gene Clark, "White Light" White Light (A&M, 71)
* Dan Auerbach, "Trouble Weighs a Ton" Keep It Hid (Nonesuch, 09)
* Thad Cockrell, "Warmth and Beauty" Warmth and Beauty (YepRoc, 03)
* Ben Nichols, "Last Pale Light In the West" Last Pale Light In the West (Liberty & Lament, 09)
* Bottle Rockets, "Kit Kat Clock" 24 Hours a Day (Atlantic, 97)
* Otis Gibbs, "Bury Me On a Rainy Day" Grandpa Walked a Picketline (Wanamaker, 09)



Shotgun Majors said...

For once I couldn't disagree with you more.
Your job as "progressive" programmers isn't to forego anything but to put together a great playlist that any listener whether they be a seasoned americana expert or a first time listener will enjoy. Once you get caught in the game of "oh, I can't play this it's not popular enough," you become a mainstream programmer. However, once you get caught up in the game of "oh, I can't play this because it's too popular," you become an elitist. Yes, another elitist will enjoy your show, but the majority of people will be put off and thus you’ll further drive the wedge between americana and the general public. Do you want people to enjoy the genre for all it has to offer? Or, do you want to feel like a superior programmer? I want people to like our music and I want to turn the uninitiated into americana consumers. My 2 cents, smooch.

S Foley said...

Sure, in the end you play what's good. Period. Nevertheless, I do try to stay relevant and at least somewhat reflect what's on the americana charts nationally. Of course, if it's no good I won't play it. I want to play Buddy & Julie Miller, no matter the size of their label. But I'm even more eager to discover and play new talent. It's a balancing act. Too obscure = no listeners; too mainstream = no fun.

Shotgun Majors said...

Well put.