Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rednecks & Bluenecks

Sorry about the weeklong hiatus. I meant to mention that I would be down for a vacation period, but didn't manage to post that before leaving.

Yesterday I picked up a fascinating book, Rednecks & Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music by Chris Willman. I'm about halfway through it and am finding it extremely well done. While I haven't found any material specific to the festival market, it is certainly relevant to our segment, where mainstream country, alt-country, Americana, folk, and bluegrass styles mix comfortably and appeal equally to red- and blue-state audiences.

I've always been fascinated with the overlap of the bluegrass and folk markets and will do some posting on that subject in the near future. In my recent interview with Del McCoury, which will be available at Festival Preview soon, he recalls "playing for hippies" the first time as part of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. Ever since, there has been a happy convergence of musical styles that mostly manages to transcend cultural differences among fans and musicians.

Of course, the politics of the Iraq war have frayed some of those relations, particularly after the bruhaha involving the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith, which provides the dramatic fulcrum of the Willman book. I've seen that reflected at festivals on several occasions in recent years as artists have made comments from the stage that elicited positive and negative reactions from portions of the audience. Hopefully, we'll be able to get past that kind of partisanship and get on with creating wonderful music for people with necks of all colors.

No comments: