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Buddha
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"Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

I've told this first story before, but...

When my wife and I started dating, she asked about the kinds of music I liked, and I replied in some way that indicated a clear disdain for "country" music.

The moment passed, and our life together proceeded, until one day, after we'd been living together for a while, she informed me, "You know, for a guy who doesn't like country music, you sure listen to alot of it."

I said, "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, woman? I don't like country."

She laughed her laugh, and said, "Well, then, what do you call John Prine, Willie Nelson, Neil Young (acoustic,) Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Iris Dement, Uncle Tupelo, Red Meat, Son Volt, Colin Linden, Ricky Skags, Emmylou Harris, The Flatlanders, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, James McMurty (!), Johnny cash, Lucinda Williams, The Mavericks, Patty Griffin, Richmond Fontaine, Shelby Lynne, Townes Van Zandt, etc...?"

The best I could reckon was that the artists I like are "American Traditional."

So, anyhow, I'm trying to decide who I think the founding father/mother/group of Alt Country would be.

In my life, it seems to have been somewhere in the 70's...Graham Parsons? Willie and The Outlaws (Waylon, Johnny, Merle, Willie?)

Who do you reckon to be the seminal figures of "Alt Country."

I guess if I had to narrow it down to one entity, I'd go with Willie, with a big assist from Mary Jane!

My wife teases me for being a country music fan, but the stuff on country radio is terrible. TERRIBLE! There's a difference, I swear!

linden518
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?


Quote:
I'm trying to decide who I think the founding father/mother/group of Alt Country would be.

In my life, it seems to have been somewhere in the 70's...Graham Parsons? Willie and The Outlaws (Waylon, Johnny, Merle, Willie?)

Who do you reckon to be the seminal figures of "Alt Country."

I guess if I had to narrow it down to one entity, I'd go with Willie, with a big assist from Mary Jane!


Yup, I guess my tip of the hat would go to Gram Parsons, obviously. But the papa of them all ('them' meaning alt-country bands) would be The Dillards, IMO.

jazzfan
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

I would go with the Gram Parson era Byrds followed closely by The Band. And of course one mustn't forget dear old Linda Ronstadt. Plus The Grateful Dead's "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty" did help quite a bit to put Americana on the map, even if they came along a few years later. And then there's Bob Dylan and The Band's seminal "Basement Tapes". Even the Rolling Stones got into the act with their Gram Parson's inspired "Wild Horses".

While I agree that Willie Nelson deserves a vote, around the time we are talking about, i.e mid to late 1960's, Willie was still very much in the country camp, albeit in the "outlaw" wing.

trevort
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

I'm guilty of prejudice against country music as well. I think it stems from growing up in a small, uncultured town, where I didn't really connect with the community. Country music was the staple. I left for the city as soon as I could, clutching my Bach and King Crimson records, to seek my fortune.

Still haven't gotten over it, perhaps to my detriment. However, despite the personal issues, I am entranced by Neko Case. I know she's just a kid compared to Willie Nelson, but sorry to see you haven't recognized her here.

Buddha
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?


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I'm guilty of prejudice against country music as well. I think it stems from growing up in a small, uncultured town, where I didn't really connect with the community. Country music was the staple. I left for the city as soon as I could, clutching my Bach and King Crimson records, to seek my fortune.

Still haven't gotten over it, perhaps to my detriment. However, despite the personal issues, I am entranced by Neko Case. I know she's just a kid compared to Willie Nelson, but sorry to see you haven't recognized her here.

I agree that she's great, and we listen to her alot, but I should have mentioned that this conversation with my wife took place in the early 90's, so Neko had not yet made it into my heavy rotation 17 years ago! In fact, her first disc had not even been released at the time - thanks, however, for reminding me of my age! (Insert really old looking smiley here ---> <---)

You are right, of course, about her goodness, and with the New Pornographers, too. I also left off Cat Power, The Cash Brothers, Calexico, and some others who post-date the time frame of the story.

Now I wonder if maybe Alt Country was produced by the confluence of Outlaw Country and Graham Parson/Band/Dead driven "rock" music?

smejias
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

I tend to agree with this guy. To me, country is just rock and roll with different pronunciation.

linden518
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?


Quote:
I wonder if maybe Alt Country was produced by the confluence of Outlaw Country and Graham Parson/Band/Dead driven "rock" music?


Like most great music, I don't think there can be any straightforward account of its genealogy. It's wonderfully messy & miscegenated. Just before The Byrds & The Band, The Dillards went electric with their bluegrass sound. I think it's an accepted knowledge that The Byrds were influenced by The Dillards. Then Gene Clark of The Byrds got together with Doug Dillard, forming Dillard & Clark and they played with everyone, basically. Totally influenced the country rock sound.

So not only can you look toward 'outlaw country,' but also to bluegrass. (Some Bill Monroe stuff absolutely rocks.) I'm also thinking of more subversive stuff by Woody Guthrie... mm, which makes me think of Billy Bragg/Jeff Tweedy's Mermaid Ave. project based on Guthrie's lyrics.

What a fun thread, Buddha! Thanks for starting it.

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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

In the cross pollination field you left off Asleep At The Wheel and their love for good old Texas swing, ala Bill Monroe.

Music tends to weave a very tangled web that resists categorization at every twist and turn. And in spite of my own use of the term "free jazz" I usually don't like to put too narrowing a label on any given music, except for maybe death/trash/speed metal or is it alt.death.trash.speed.metal. One of my all time favorite quotes regarding musical categorization is by the drummer Bob Moses which goes something like this: "Hardening of the categories leads to art disease."

ncdrawl
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

Johnny Cash is my favorite of all time.

I dont care for that "hippy cosmic" stuff, but some gram songs are ok.

I love Ryan Adams,Wilco(though NOT country anymore) Slobberbone, the Drams, Meat Purveyors, Jason and The Scorchers, Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo..the bottle rockets, robbie fulks, Jon Langford,Pernice Brothers.. Tim Easton, Haynes Boys,.ah hell.

so many.. but

Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown
Tim Easton/Haynes Boys
Uncle Tupelo

Son Volt
I See hawks in LA.

if I had to name my favorites..cant stand earle. poseur

BillB
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

Bad country got siphoned off into the trivial reactionary predictable pop/rock that is now played on "Country" radio stations.
Good country got shuffled off to clubs and other places where people enjoyed good songwriting (not slogans) and they had to call themselves something, thus alt country.

Buddha
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

I got a handle on it now.

Alt Country is what liberal country musicians make.

smejias
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?


Quote:
I got a handle on it now.

Alt Country is what liberal country musicians make.


Hee hee. No way, man. Liberal country musicians make rock n roll.

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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

I agree with much of what has been said, to the point of thinking that I did not like country music because I grew up in the south. But one of my most recent purchases was a nice old time gospel cd. The Stanley brothers, and I am listening to it a lot. The stuff on country radio sounds like poor Eagles imitations to me, but I tap my toes and smile whenever I hear BR549. It is an interesting line of thinking, how our prejudice limits and shapes our listening experiences. I could not stand REM for a time because they were so bloody popular among my peers. Now, I quite enjoy their older, jangly stuff. My loss for being a musical bigot!

Trey

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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?


Quote:

Who do you reckon to be the seminal figures of "Alt Country."

the mekons (& waco brothers) even though they're english
palace/bonnie "prince" billy (will oldham)
handsome family
lambchop
radar brothers
friends of dean martinez
howe gelb/giant sand
barbara manning/sf seals

all of those should be part of the canon that is alt country.

rvance
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

When I first heard the Mekons' Rock and Roll around '89 I thought they were straight punk with a little twang here and there for irony.

Saw Poco with Steve Miller and The Moody Blues in '70. They opened a big concert with a rave up set.

rvance
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

Kinky Friedman And The Texas Jewboys, Drive By Truckers and Asleep At The Wheel have alt-country names!

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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?


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When I first heard the Mekons' Rock and Roll around '89 I thought they were straight punk with a little twang here and there for irony.

the mekons' cover of "alone and forsaken" is one of the best covers ever recorded.

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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

I cant believe more ink has been spent here asking asinine questions that are meant to enflame arguments, instead of creating intelligent dialogue. I am so utterly tired of unsubstantive rants from miscreants who can't bring positive discussion to these forums, especially in this Rock area of the forum. One would think that there are so many releases out on vinyl, cd, etc. that there would be more good, pointed conversation about any particular release... something that matters to audiophiles or even just music. Disgusting that a rant can receive so much attention in here..

Buddha
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?


Quote:
I cant believe more ink has been spent here asking asinine questions that are meant to enflame arguments, instead of creating intelligent dialogue. I am so utterly tired of unsubstantive rants from miscreants who can't bring positive discussion to these forums, especially in this Rock area of the forum. One would think that there are so many releases out on vinyl, cd, etc. that there would be more good, pointed conversation about any particular release... something that matters to audiophiles or even just music. Disgusting that a rant can receive so much attention in here..

Yikes, chatting about where Alt Country came from is not up to your standards, eh?

Oh, well, to quote from the Wilco thread, "To hate is just to hate."

mjalazard
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

You boys forgit Lowell George (may he rest in peace!) and his band Little Feat. They crossed many styles, but clearly fit into Alt Country.
My wife, Michele, and I saw Cracker last night, they're kind of Cynical Alt Country. Their latest disc: "Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey" is their best since "Kerosene Hat"
http://www.crackersoul.com/ Go see them!

I also believe that the music from Topanga Canyon in the early 70's is indeed the second coming of Alternative Country.
Mike

rvance
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

Don't forget Ween's 12 Golden Country Greats (but you only get ten). It's a delightful mix of straight ahead Nashville musicianship with really perverse lyrics. They later toured the album as The Shit Creek Boys.

Glotz- Everything's cool here. Try and join the fun.

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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?


Quote:
You boys forgit Lowell George (may he rest in peace!) and his band Little Feat. They crossed many styles, but clearly fit into Alt Country.
My wife, Michele, and I saw Cracker last night, they're kind of Cynical Alt Country. Their latest disc: "Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey" is their best since "Kerosene Hat"
http://www.crackersoul.com/ Go see them!

I also believe that the music from Topanga Canyon in the early 70's is indeed the second coming of Alternative Country.
Mike

dude, cracker and little feat are as much country/alt as I am Mohammad.

not at all...cracker is pop at best....little feat..70s rock.

listen to Split Lip Rayfield

Slobberbone

The Knitters

Varnaline

Buddy Miller

Jason and the Scorchers

Richard Buckner

Long Ryders

The Meat Purveyors

Chatham County line

BR549

Robbie Fulks

Old 97s

Wayne Hancock

Mekons

Uncle Tupelo

Whiskeytown

The Drams

and THEN put in cracker and little feat..report your findings..

cracker/little feat----decidedly NOT twang.

JAF
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

I really enjoy Ryan Adams!

satkinsn
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

Late to the party as usual, but let me mount a limited defense for the kind of country most posters don't like - the Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn stuff.

They tell really good stories, backed with catchy melodies. They're the exact opposite of pretentious, and if the world they describe doesn't quite exist, well, that's part of what music is for.

I'm a Hank Williams-Hank Snow-Merle Haggard kinda guy myself, but I hear why people like them so much, and I really like George Strait and Patty Loveless.

s.

ncdrawl
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Re: "Alt Country." Who's yer daddy?

me too...I love classic country.

Merle, Ernest Tubb, Waylon, Kris... Jonny Paycheck..

Quote:
Late to the party as usual, but let me mount a limited defense for the kind of country most posters don't like - the Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn stuff.

They tell really good stories, backed with catchy melodies. They're the exact opposite of pretentious, and if the world they describe doesn't quite exist, well, that's part of what music is for.

I'm a Hank Williams-Hank Snow-Merle Haggard kinda guy myself, but I hear why people like them so much, and I really like George Strait and Patty Loveless.

s.

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