I grew up listening to the Country Music of the late 1950's, the 1960's, and the 1970's. In my early teens, I began writing songs patterned after that music. This was accompanied by my learning to play guitar and honing my singing ability in a style similar to the Artists of that era.
That period through the mid-late 1980's is considered the "golden age" of Country Music. The "Classic Country" from this time demonstrated Country Music's maturity beyond its earlier crude and less popular form to an established and rapidly growing genre, technically and artistically equal to other musical styles.
As the evolution progressed from the mid 1980's into the early 2000's, very "Traditional" and "Classic" Country roots thrived with the huge success of many new Artists. The Country charts were populated by the likes of Bailey and the Boys, Suzy Boggus, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mark Chesnutt, Joe Diffie, Holly Dunn, Highway 101, Alan Jackson, The Judds, Tracy Lawrence, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Collin Raye, Ricky Van Shelton, Aaron Tippin, Randy Travis, Clay Walker, and Keith Whitley.
During that time, Garth Brooks' brand of Traditional Country brought a whole new dimension to the genre, that has made him the number one selling solo Artist of all time in any format.
The 90's and early 2000's brought an uptick in the number of blockbuster female Neo-Traditional Country Artists, i.e. Carlene Carter, Terri Clark, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Lee Ann Womack, and Trisha Yearwood.
Those years also gave us the male Country super duo (Brooks and Dunn), the female Country super trio (Dixie Chicks), and the Country version of "boy bands" in Blackhawk, Confederate Railroad, Diamond Rio, Little Texas, Lonestar, Restless Heart, and Shenandoah. These all soared to immense success with fresh takes on the same time tested Classic Country beats, harmonies, instrumentation, and themes that THIS Artist's songwriting has always been made of.
Great music, all of it, through evolution honoring timeless tradition.
This evolution continued to some degree with various new Artists through the second half of this century's first decade. But the period also saw the "Country" being wrung out of the music topping the genre's charts. And by 2011, the majority of "mainstream" Country became unrecognizable to the genre's longtime fans as anything remotely related to Country Music.
The "Bro Country" promoted as mainstream Country since that time is not and never has been a new branch of the old tree called Country Music. Nor will it ever be.
B T W - BE SURE TO READ ALL THE WAY TO THE END.
The hybrid Hip Hop / Rap chanting dominating the "Country" airwaves and the "Country" section of the music shelves and streaming / download outlets for nearly a decade is not deeply rooted in Country Music, like the music emanating from that crop of boy band Country acts and new Country girls of the 90's.
The evolution of "mainstream" Country incorporating Country genes ended, and the "mainstream" product underwent a morphing into something completely different and only dimly and marginally related to Country Music, with immensely different DNA.
WHICH IS ALL GREAT! Yes, Bro Country serves a market and has its share of consumers, or it wouldn't have survived. More power to the Bro Artists of today's "mainstream" Country! However, when Mainstream Country became something other than Country and not that closely related to it, THIS ARTIST simply stayed with the real thing, continuing to create a sound deeply rooted in and exuding the DNA of Country Music.
With actual Country Music being no longer mainstream, Artists such as myself are relegated to genres like Americana, Folk, and Roots Music and to seeking airplay mostly online and overseas vs. over the airwaves of the USA. That's okay. Who knows - perhaps one day Classic Country and that great 1990 to 2005-ish sound will be Mainstream Country again. Some things in art tend to be cyclical, and the depth and timelessness of that music makes it stand up over time much better than the current mainstream product.
In my efforts to preserve, restore, and propagate true Country Music, you'll notice a few other differences between songs I write and most of today's mainstream country. No two KAP songs will ever be confused with one another (none of the 28 currently on the market sound anything alike or appear to be "derivitive") or mistaken for the work of another Artist, unlike the monotonous sound-alike me-too offerings of today's mainstream country.
As a youngster who enjoyed Country Music (along with many other genres - still the case), I was sometimes made fun of by my contemporaries. One of their criticisms of Country (demonstrating they'd never listened to Country) was "it all sounds alike".
I marvelled at this, since I knew that there were no two Country songs or Artists that sounded the same. Exactly the opposite being true, the wide range of styles and vocal characteristics of the Country Artists of the time made every singer and every song demonstrably unique and identifiable.
Today's mainstream country has become what my teen-aged friends ignorantly and falsely accused Country of being decades ago. Listen to the "mash-ups" of 8 or 10 or a dozen mainstream country songs so indistinguishable you almost wouldn't know it isn't a single track by one Artist.
I've gone 10 and 11 songs deep into a listening session on today's mainstream country radio before realizing I'm not hearing a full album by the same Artist or band.
And what's up with the requirement that every new female singer sound exactly like Taylor Swift in order to get her shot at success?
Silly unwritten restrictions like that and the ill-conceived "template" constraints applied to material today don't do mainstream country any favors in reversing its trend of struggling sales figures.
AMAZINGLY, Artists who would never have been heard of if today's filters on acceptable Country material had existed in 1985 to 2005 include Bailey and the Boys, Blackhawk, Suzy Boggus, Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kenny Chesney, Mark Chesnutt, Confederate Railroad, Holly Dunn, Diamond Rio, Joe Diffie, Dixie Chicks, Highway 101, Alan Jackson, The Judds, Tracy Lawrence, Lonestar, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Reba, Tim McGraw, Collin Raye, Restless Heart, Ricky Van Shelton, Shenandoah, Little Texas, Aaron Tippin, Randy Travis, Clay Walker, and Keith Whitley. Just ponder that in astonishment!
My final two observations on this subject . . .
1) I don't remember a lot of the Country Music from my younger days be juvenile, as so much of today's mainstream country has become. I mean how many videos do we need about teenagers or teenage wannabe's bouncing along the beach with scantily clad babes on the pickup tailgate or fantail of the boat amid coolers full of adult beverages (or some variation)?
2) Obviously, my comments here do NOT reflect a view that ALL of today's mainstream country exhibits the shortcomings I've enumerated. As stated a few paragraphs ago, I'm describing what has "dominated" mainstream for many years.
There are still other Artists besides myself who produce music with Country DNA. And some of them are even generally Bro Country Artists who clearly also know how to really be Country as well.
Lest those in the mainstream country crowd become convinced that I'm unredeemably out of step, I even enjoy some of the fusion of Bro Country with Traditional Country and / or what (back in the day) used to be Pop.
An example that comes to mind is Chris Janson's "Take A Drunk Girl Home", which I recognize as a quality write, with great depth and stellar yet simple instrumentation and musicianship.
By now I'm sure I've said enough here in this "BIO" for anyone to see where I'm coming from with my brand of Country Music.
Thanks for reading it and thanks for being here!!