Monday, May 22, 2006

What's Country Music? Bon Jovi? Van Zant? Cowboy Troy? Clint Black?

The list of nominees for tomorrow's
ACM Awards got the Orange County Register's Tom Roland to thinking about that, so he made some phone calls to find out. Quotes from his insightful report:

"What is country music?" Jennifer Nettles asks rhetorically. "You have bluegrass influence, you have Southern rock influence, you have gospel influence, you have pop - all of these things, and especially being a Southerner and a girl, all of those elements are part of that culture in the Southeast."

"Not to be cliché," ACM President Bob Romeo says, trying to sort out his own definition of country, "it's sort of American music. I'm convinced if Bon Jovi was a newly discovered act, I think he'd be in that same category as Rascal Flatts."

"There's nothin' really uncountry about (the Bon Jovi/Nettles duet) in today's genre," Clint Black observes. Today's country executives "grew up listening to rock 'n' roll - hip, cool people, and they want a little more hipness and coolness in country," Black theorizes. That "may be a problem for me, because my latest single is about as country as you can get, and I'm kind of optimistically pessimistic. When you've got Bon Jovi havin' a No. 1 (country hit), you know, I might be too country, and I never thought I'd be sayin' that."

"Maybe that's why country music is just thriving," observes Karen Fairchild of the ACM-nominated Little Big Town. "Because of that sense of storytelling and the honest lyric delivery and the harmonies. There's great harmony bands in country music and you aren't getting that like you used to in the pop side with Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles."

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