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 .


National Touring Artist Levi The Poet To Perform At Inman St. Coffeehouse

Levi The Poet, a nationally-recognized and critically-acclaimed spoken word artist, will be performing at The Salvation Army’s Inman St. Coffeehouse on June 19 as part of the coffeehouse’s summer concert series, with the proceeds of the show benefitting The Salvation Army’s local youth programs.  Levi The Poet will be performing at Inman St. Coffeehouse as part of his ... (click for more)

Nikki Hill Featured At Nightfall Friday

The Nightfall Concert Series, produced by Chattanooga Presents, continues its 29th season this Friday at Miller Plaza with a headline performance by soul-shocked rock n roll artist Nikki Hill, and opening act Decibella. "She’s been compared to a hybrid of Staple Singers and AC/DC, but nothing really prepares an audience for the music of Nikki Hill until they see her in live ... (click for more)

Attorney Says Leave Lacie Stone Alone; Cavett Says She Was "Victim Of Unprovoked Attack"

The attorney for advisor to Mayor Andy Berke Lacie Stone said she has been thrust into the spotlight, but said she is "the victim of an unprovoked attack" by her husband, Bobby Stone. Attorney John Cavett said it is ridiculous "to suggest that she was the perpetrator." Mr. Stone is facing charges of domestic assault and vandalism. Attorney Cavett said, "It is unfortunate ... (click for more)

Dr. Russell Dyer Chosen As Director Of Schools By Cleveland City School Board

The Cleveland City School board unanimously voted Thursday afternoon to offer the job of director of Schools to Dr. Russell Dyer. Dr. Dyer currently serves as the Chief of Staff of Schools in Collierville, Tn.  If Dr. Dyer accepts the school board's contract, he will be paid $132,500 a year.  After contract negotiations, the Board plans for Dr. Dyer to start at Cleveland ... (click for more)

Case Handled Like Any Other? - And Response

It is interesting that Chief Fletcher would deem the handling of the Mayor's encounter as typical or normal. Is the Chief asking the public to believe that all misdemeanor domestic violence arrests include a 4-hour taped interrogation, and delayed reporting after a visit to the Chief’s house. Of course, we believe that Chief Fletcher. April Eidson * * *  I ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The American Dream, 2016

On this, the week of commencement, junior high graduations, and achievement at every level is displayed, we stand with hope and wonder as the next wave of promising Americans gives our nation the reason we pray for our next tomorrow. On Monday, as Vice President Joe Biden addressed 950 cadets who would become 2nd Lieutenants by the end of the day at the United States Military ... (click for more)