Chattanooga’s Live Music Scene – I Sure Hope Country Music Didn’t Die Today

Friday, April 26, 2013 - by Bob Payne

You know this old world is full of singers
But just a few are chosen
To tear your heart out when they sing
Imagine life without them
All your, radio heros
Like the outlaw that walks through Jesse's dream

No, there will never be another
Red-headed stranger
A Man in Black and Folsom Prison Blues
The Okie from Muskogee
Or Hello Darling
Lord I wonder, who's gonna fill their shoes

This song, written by Troy Seals and Max Barnes, and released by George Jones in 1985 describes the terrible scenario of life without our favorite country performers.  Now we are faced with life without George Jones, as only his memories and recordings are left. George Jones died in Nashville this morning at Vanderbilt University. He was 81 years old and had just played Chattanooga last month.

Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and so many legends of country music are now gone. One is left to ponder who will, or could, take their place. A few still remain, with Merle Haggard, Ray Price, and Willie Nelson immediately coming to mind, but they are getting on up there in age. These country music giants still perform, but even their days on stage are limited.

That leaves us with a whole bunch of “new country” artists, such as Blake Shelton and Luke Bryant. Yes, it’s true, that is who is selling all the records today and packing the mega-concert venues. What is not true is that their music is necessarily “country music”. When Merle and Johnny and Waylon came along they also changed country music, but they did so with reverence and respect for their elder performers that blazed the trails of the business before them. That is where Mr. Shelton seems to have lost his way – his lack of respect for those that made country music a thriving business.

In Chattanooga we are lucky to have some performers that keep traditional country music alive – Channing Wilson, Nathan Farrow, Davey Smith, and a few others respect the trail-blazers like Merle and Waylon. I suspect that many of the original artists they cover would be proud of our local boys renditions and proud of their original songs as well.

Who's gonna fill their shoes
Who's gonna stand that tall
Who's gonna play the Opry
And the Wabash Cannonball
Who's gonna give their heart and soul
To get to me and you
Lord I wonder, who's gonna fill their shoes.

Maybe it will be Nathan, or Channing, or Davey.

For local music info, try or They both have great local music info and schedules. For local info on Country music, try Jim Boles’ site

Email Bob Payne at or catch him on Facebook at

Bob Payne
Bob Payne
- Photo2 by Davey Farrow

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