The Shadow of Hank Williams

  For a man whose recording career lasted barely six years, Hank Williams casts an immense shadow.  I’m currently doing a show called Tennessee Walt’s Hanks a Lot!—and most of the audience members seem to come in assuming that it’s a show of Hank Williams songs.  When they learn that I’ll be doing songs not … Continue reading The Shadow of Hank Williams

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Love Is Blind, in 4/4 Time

It’s been nine years since I started listening to country music and, unwittingly, placed my feet on the path that led to the birth of Tennessee Walt.  (For further details of this story, check here.) The people who have known me longer than that are, for the most part, baffled by my new taste in … Continue reading Love Is Blind, in 4/4 Time

If You’ve Got the Money: The Economics of the Bristol Sessions

The Bristol Sessions looms large in history for artistic reasons:  They launched the careers of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, whose music would define the parameters of country music for generations to come. However, the Sessions were not primarily an artistic exercise, but rather an economic one.  Ralph Peer wasn’t in Bristol looking for … Continue reading If You’ve Got the Money: The Economics of the Bristol Sessions

Is It Country? Is It Rock? 20 Ways to Tell

Watch the Grammy awards—it doesn’t matter what year—and you’re watching an exercise in nomenclature.  Americans love music, but they also love finding new words to categorize it.  Is this song country, folk or Southern rock? Folk-rock, alt country or Americana? Is it neo-folk, country-punk or folkabilly? Why does anybody care?  Well, it’s about money, of … Continue reading Is It Country? Is It Rock? 20 Ways to Tell