This premier historian of Country music is the editor of The Western Way Magazine, published by the Western Music Association
And an author (his 2011 release was The Cowboy in Country Music: An Historical Survey with Artist Profiles). He is shown here next to the Fall 2011 issue commemorating the 100th birthday of the iconic singing cowboy from the movies, Roy Rogers.
Musician Making Waves:
Juni Fisher has been a real go-getter in Western music—has not let the frustrations of being in a “small” genre deter her…. She’s certainly carrying the torch for Western music, a field which is not known for prominent women.
Cowboy Poetry Scene:
Events like Elko and others and the genre itself are leading the way. The fact that a few decades back, only a handful of people were aware of Cowboy Poetry and now it’s a thriving field with thousands writing and reciting poems says it all. The mainstays, of course, are Baxter Black and Waddie Mitchell, but there are countless others reciting insightful, humorous, well-written Cowboy Poetry.
What’s Hot in Music?
The Western world is steeped in nostalgia. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers are still stars in this field! The current trend seems to be a rediscovery of the past.
Biggest “Boost” for Western Music:
The Internet. Western fans, like the West, are located over a big area that’s sparsely populated. The Internet allows fans to exchange greetings, information, stories etc. in a way that was difficult (and sometimes impossible) in the past. The social network has kept cowboys singing around the campfire—or rather, the glow of the computer screen.
Future of Western Music:
There are still cowboys (George Strait) and those who wear cowboy outfits (too numerous to mention) and the occasional song with a Western theme or influence that fits in a mainstream American musical genre. The Western music world isn’t comfortable with this—they tend to see a huge difference between “Western” and “Country” music, although audiences tend to throw them together. There may be a bit of envy there since Country music is commercially successful while Western music, on the whole, is not.
Hot Club of Cowtown is Such a Success Because:
First, they’re incredible musicians who know how to put on a “show.” They have charisma on stage, and they’re not afraid to show it (just watch Elana!) Next, they work incredibly hard, always pushing themselves musically and playing lots of dates. In this day and time, it is not the album that supports a tour, but the tour that supports the album…. They make their music young, hip and attractive by reaching back for a retro sound that’s heavy on jazz in a trendy, attractive way. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan!
Being an old-timer myself, I was glad to see O.J. Sikes honored and Vaughn Monroe and R.W. Hampton installed in the Hall of Fame.
Rookie of the Year:
Probably Carolyn Martin—although Western music doesn’t really have any “rookies”—just old-timers who break through a bit from time to time…. I don’t remember seeing anyone go from “nowhere to the top” like Taylor Swift did in Country or Ke$ha or Bruno Mars did in Pop. It’s a “paying your dues” over a long period of time kind of field.
Country vs. Western:
Country is a music that is loyal to the market, not to a sound, while Western music is loyal to a tradition and a past.