Chattanooga’s Live Music Scene – New Country Vs. Old Country

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - by Bob Payne
Bob Payne
Bob Payne
- photo by M. Lambert

There has been a lot of discussion lately about “New Country” and “Old Country” music. Blake Shelton angered more than a few country music fans after he publically said some disparaging things about “Old Country music”. Basically, he said Country music has to continually evolve in order to bring in new fans. On that part, he was right. Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and many more “Old Country” stars blazed some new trails with their music and they too were criticized at the time of their rise to popularity.

Where Blake Shelton goofed up was when he said nobody wanted to listen to their grandpa’s music anymore and continued with a few other screwy thoughts. Blake must not have been at the SOLD OUT Tivoli Theater to see Merle Haggard last night.

While sitting in my seat at the Tivoli, I thought about Mr. Shelton and his comments. I thought about Merle Haggard and Ray Price and George Jones. I was trying to think of what the real differences between the “New Country” artists and the “Old Country” artist really are – other than the obvious difference in musical styles.

It only took a minute to realize the difference between Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton. Both have many fans. Both play some version of country music. Here is the real difference (other than the music) - Merle’s fans truly admire him. Blake’s fans may like his music, but Merle’s fans love Merle and admire him. To see that, all one had to do is be in the Tivoli last night. I mean really – a standing ovation from the entire Tivoli Theater audience when he simply walked on stage? The pure admiration for Merle by that audience was as evident as it would be if a Little League boy got to see Babe Ruth hit a home run in person.

So, is it possible to have “Old Country” music that is new? I believe it is. Merle is still writing and performing new songs and he has remained true to “Old Country” with some really good stuff. Go see Nathan Farrow Davey Smith, or Channing Wilson and you will see real country music that is young, fresh, and new. It can be done.

Oh, and one more thing. Merle Haggard’s songs are a history lesson on the real life of Merle Haggard. Blake sings about whatever his professional songwriter teams have written for him, like Hillbilly Bones and such.

Merle Haggard performed about 25 songs last night at the Tivoli Theater. Most reached number-one at the time of their release. He wrote most of them. He has 38 number-one songs to his credit. Merle Haggard was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame 7 years before Blake Shelton had his first hit. As mentioned earlier in the column, the Tivoli SOLD OUT for the Merle Haggard show, and had been sold out for quite some time. (And they say Chattanooga is a “walk-up town”)

As for me – I’ll take “Old Country” any day. I was always taught to respect your elders, and perhaps that is a lesson Blake Shelton could use.

For local music info, try www.chattanoogaentertainers.com or www.chattanooganightscope.com. They both have great local music info and schedules. For local info on Country music, try Jim Boles’ site www.chattacountry.ning.com.

Email Bob Payne at davrik2000@yahoo.com or catch him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/davrik2000 .



Mean Mary Plays At Charles And Myrtle's Sept. 16

Mean Mary will be at Charles and Myrtle's Coffeehouse on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m.  The coffeehouse is at Christ Unity Church at 105 McBrien Road.  There is a $10 suggested donation at the door. Review for Mean Mary: Mean Mary could read music before she could read words and wrote original songs at age five. By age seven she was proficient on vocals, guitar, ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Theatre Centre Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers

Two productions – the first of the 2016-2017 season and the last – led the honorees at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s annual Miss Annie Awards on Saturday. “Peter and the Starcatcher” won 10 awards, and “Fiddler on the Roof” earned nine. The Miss Annie Awards, Chattanooga’s answer to the Oscars, salute all the volunteers who have contributed their time and talent to the success ... (click for more)

Mark Wharton Named Vice Chancellor And Director Of Athletics At UTC

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellor Dr. Steven Angle announced Mark Wharton as the Mocs' new vice chancellor and director of athletics on Tuesday.  A press conference introducing Mr. Wharton is scheduled for  Wednesday, at  2 p.m.  in the Chattanooga Room in the University Center.  Community members, fans and supporters are invited to ... (click for more)

Government Paid Almost $181,000 In Social Security Benefits To Sewanee Man After He Died In 1988; Hawkins Charged With Embezzlement

The Social Security Administration paid almost $181,000 in benefits to a Sewanee man after he died in 1988, federal prosecutors said. The government learned in 2014 that the money designated to Walter Acton was going to a man living in his home at 3932 Jump Off Road - Edward Hawkins. Hawkins has agreed to plead guilty to embezzlement in the case. Prosecutor Perry Piper said ... (click for more)

The Soul Of Chattanooga Is In Trouble

As a child growing up in the Chattanooga area, at an early age I became fascinated with the history that cloaks the city. In those days there was enough pollution to cover the town and its history but that didn't stop tourists from coming to visit Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and the Chickamauga battlefield.     Chattanooga's leadership was not very far sighted ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Writing From Bragg Avenue

Far and away, my favorite comment on destroying statues appeared on my Facebook page the other day and, believe it or not, it was the clear-minded Times Free Press Sports Editor Stephen Hargis who penned, “This statue offends me! It must be torn down!” Underneath his fiery words, the long-suffered UT football fan posted a picture of the bronze monument outside of Bryant-Denny stadium ... (click for more)