Is there a cure for Nashville rash?

So. Nashville Star.

This is the thing, don’t judge. Take some time and Tivo this gem of reality television to watch with your people when y’all’re all drinking and you need something to feel superior about. You will not regret it.

As a side note, if you see me in the next couple weeks, Cricket didn’t get tired of my bullshit and decide to shut me up. I tripped over a suitcase and went flying. The black eye is a product of my own stupidity. (Yes, I am pretty casual about this, remember the chupacabra incident at Mucklewain? If I’m not injured somehow, I must have been laying low nursing the last injury.) [She does look like some tried to take her down. I swear, she fell when she was alone. She’s not lying because she’s afraid of what I’ll do next.—Cricket]

I need to say upfront that I hate reality tv and my only experience with it is some other episodes of this show and my mom making me watch Amazing Race now and again. If I sound ignorant of the genre, I actually am. /superior tones

In the future, there may be many special posts about NS because I am going to drag Cricket to a filming and I watch the show talking to my friend in Boston who is a reality show whore. Much of my commentary is influenced by her opinions because she’s the expert.

If I didn’t live in Nashville, there’s no way I would ever watch this show in any way but passing, but living here it’s sort of like watching the goings-on with the student council when you’re in school or something. There’s a lot that gets said that if you don’t know how to read between the lines would just go right over your head. Nashville is an industry town, for better or worse, and I will take one for the team and parse Nashville Star as a bitchy anthropologist for your edification and entertainment.

First off, please tune in next week, because these posts will be much more interesting if you have a clue what I’m talking about.

Now, for the Perez Hilton style commentary. Nice. Very nice. Okay this article combined with comments made by Blake Shelton to Kacey Musgraves that they know each other makes me wonder what kind of vetting process they have for this show. Unlike American Idol, I think this show must be totally cast with people known to the producers in some way. That is so utterly Nashville, it’s sort of fitting. I really love the part where Whitney works at the Wildhorse Saloon. This is sort of one of those purely 2nd Avenue places that’s so completely a tourist trap. It reminds me of Branson, MO.

On to the content of the actual show.

As was my experience with American Idol when I was forced to watch the try-outs with my mother, I think my standards of what constitutes decent singing and the bar set by the judges of these shows are not even remotely on the same continent. I thought all of the women were horrible, except Angela Hacker and the men were mostly passable when the judges were very critical. Could this be my anti-female singer bias? Ah, it could be, but Cricket and Robo agreed with me. (Cricket hating the whole thing, and Robo being a big time reality show whore.) [Angela Hacker is the only vaguely real person on the show. Sadly the show is so contrived, pretentious, precious and hideous as to be unwatchable without a few shots of Maker’s.—Cric]

Let’s talk about a couple important things now: I loathe Anastasia Brown so much I could kiss a gator and Randy Owen is made of sex and booze (not that I want to sex him up, because he’s sort of like an uncle or something, but he’s so awesome he’s like booze and sex…okay, whatever, you get it). Blake Shelton is one of those generic country stars that really just passes under my radar. He’s sort of cute and he knows it, so I guess that’s good for him. I do comprehend that Anastasia is playing a role, which is to be the obnoxious host on a music stardom reality show. What bothers me about her isn’t that she’s obnoxious, rather I hate how she has her tits hanging out everywhere and has obviously had work done and she’s holding herself up as role model to women. Gimme a break, she is everything wrong with the music industry and the visual media industry—all flash, no content. Kindly fuck off and die.

The contestants:

Meg Allison is a yankee therefore will lose. She is pretty in that old fashioned, 1950’s throw-back way, so it’ll be sad to see her lose. She seems nice enough, so I hope she gets work somewhere else. [And her voice isn’t so bad, she just needs help in choosing songs that suit it.—Cricket]

Whitney Duncan is every girl we run into when we go to 12th and Porter who is stalking the acts and hoping to sleep their way into a record deal. [I don’t even see girls like this anymore, it’s like there’s just a blank space where they would be standing. There’s just too many of them in Nashville to take in.—Cricket]

Angela Hacker sounds like Reba and if the little bio doc they showed is true, then she deserves to win because she has a real country-music life story. She is my top pick. And because this is TV, her brother is also a contestant, so they can play that for all it’s worth, so I hope that means they both get to stick around. [Love her!—Cric]

Zac Hacker (the brother) was alright, too. His voice wasn’t that strong, but he seems to feel it. He’s also chubby, so I give him a big round of applause for holding it down for the normal sized people on the teevee. [I didn’t hate him. He can stay ’cause I like his sister.—Cricket]

Tim LaRoche got voted off on the first episode. He was born in Iceland and lives in White House (redneck area north of town), so I was SO ON THAT. I mean, ICELAND? What more do you want? Then in his bio doc he was all zen and insightful and I was SHOCKED. You see my capslock of love? Anyway, he got voted off first thing, so this show clearly has it out for cool people. Screw you, Nashville Star. [I even sort of remember what he said. Something to effect of, “I always hear people saying they are going to make their fortune and then do what makes them happy and to me life never seemed so expensive that you needed to do that.” Yeah, I liked him alright.—Cricket]

Kacey Musgraves reminds me of the character Lyla Garrity (whose real name is Minka, wtf?) from Friday Night Lights. That is to say: a dumb cheerleader.

Rickyjoleen was voted off this week. She was 18 and dropped out of school in 8th grade. Excuse me, what? No. [Also she was more obnoxious than a truck full of drunk sorority girls.—Cric]

David St. Romain is just lame.

Joshua Stevens sounds like he wants to be Keith Urban, and I’m scared he’s gonna win. [I hate his hair. His singing is unmemorable.—Cricket]

I am surprised we haven’t met Dustin Wilkes already. He is going for an Outlaw image and was in the Marines. He’s my back up after Angela Hacker. Also, totally ping us, Dustin, let’s get a drink. [Yes, podcast with us, buddy, especially if you lose.—Cric]

Dude, seriously, this show is an absolute Nashville train wreck. It’s everything horrible about the country music industry and Nashville handed to you in an hour-long block of ass-kissing and fake smiles and patriotic bullshit. It’s like watching the enemy on CC-tv of their bathroom.

Tune in next week when I probably have a meltdown about how much money they’re spending on this crap and how it could save babies in Darfur.

[I won’t subject y’all to much of my commentary on it, but my reality show of the moment is Cowboy U: Colorado on CMT. The girls are pretty amusingly awesome and the one blond is a hilarious train wreck (she only lasted a day and half because she couldn’t live without a cell phone and a hairdryer). Plus like hockey there’s potential for real injury here which makes it rock even harder. Sadly the guys aren’t all super hot.—Cricket]

This won't be good

Oh, Hallelujah, just what the industry needs!

This is one of those stories that creates extreme conflict for us. On the one hand, labels merging just makes the Beast that much worse and will lead to a juggernaut, creating a stalemate between two Big Players that is really about profit rather than making music (wait, check, that’s already happened). On the other hand, this means that, maybe, hopefully, artists will shift their focus from getting a deal with the purveyors of pap and crack and cast their eyes towards minor and independent labels who will let them retain artistic control and make decent music that means something. [Maybe this is when the country bands and not just the punk and ‘indie’ bands will start taking Hank III’s advice: You don’t have to go spend $200,000 on a studio and be in debt for the next four or five years. It’s a $500 machine. Being in a studio isn’t going to make people like your stuff better. Do it yourself. It ain’t that hard. It’s just songwriters and a jam room. It’s the ultimate songwriting tool. (from here).—Cricket]

It’s especially excellent that all the PR and A&R people are keeping their jobs, because they’re doing a freakin’ bang up job! [Surely this means they’ll be working extra hard to find real talent and original music? Oh man, I laughed so hard just typing that that I nearly choked on my coffee. Apparently mainstream country really will be the death of me.—Cricket]

Jace Everett and Jamey Johnson are already cut. Great. We’re not at all happy about how this bodes for some of the great songwriters we’ve met in Nashville who have written songs for these guys. [It’s like the honeymoon is over now. We’re gonna have to step up and not just love the music but hate on the giant machine that churns it out. Damn you, bloated, leviathan music industry, why must steal the joy from everything?—Cricket]

Jamey Johnson: The Dollar

Huh. Ok. So I just told Cricket that I think she might need to start checking me on a regular basis to make sure I haven’t lost all objectivity or ability to think critically. [Yeah, I think I need to check you for a lot things, but then I’m not sure I’m a good judge of anything either. Certainly not responsibility.–Cricket]

I got this album off of iTunes for various reasons, but the most important being that I felt like I should give it a listen considering the write-ups I read about it being “real country” and “old fashioned” and suchlike.

I think what those reviewers were feeling when they listened to this album was Jamey’s voice. Holy hell. Not just throw-back but low-down, dirty, hitting the right country vibe down in your fillings and liver. Maybe your panties, too. [I recall drunkenly thinking the other night that Jamey might honky-tonk enough for me and I wasn’t wrong. The voice does hit you a little in the panties, doesn’t it? This is a man who has listened to a lot of Waylon. I can respect that.–Cricket]

Jamey doesn’t need us to sell his records. He’s got several hit songs on this album. Hell, where my mother lives there are Little League and bowling teams named Rebelicious (if only I was freakin’ kiddin’).

The thing is I still really love it. Somehow this is a really profitable country album that I wouldn’t label crap pop country. I may be a little prejudiced because I know Jamey’s from Montgomery. Maybe. I think what’s selling him so hard for me is that this record really is a throw-back, hit songs notwithstanding.

Seriously? His voice is like cornbread in a cast iron skillet on Sunday afternoon. If you’re a total hater, just download “Ray Ray’s Junk Joint” and “Lead Me Home” off of iTunes.

Now I will talk about that second track a bit.

I have mentioned previously my serious hate-on for the random throw-away references to “The Lord” and “Jesus” and such in contemporary country music. I appreciate that sacred music is integral to both the lifestyle and songbooks of Southern artists. I maybe appreciate it more than the average person, because my daddy was the music director at my church and before that was a gospel singer for a long, long time. I get really upset by the nonsensical inclusion of references to God in pop songs. If you’re singing about your truck or your woman, there is no need to bust out with shouting out God just to hook the Christian market. It makes me feel really dirty, something like taking the Lord’s name in vain, but worse because it’s for profit. I freakin’ hate it with a passion.

All that being said, I am a sucker for a real spiritual tune with feeling and passion. “Lead Me Home” is that kind of track.

Most of the really moving, great gospel songs are about going home at the end of a long, wearisome life of toil and heartbreak. This one is no different–

I have seen my last tomorrow: I am holdin’ my last breath.
Goodbye, sweet world of sorrow: My new life begins with death.

It doesn’t get more direct than that. This song makes me really emotional, and it’s hard to do that to me anymore. I think the only sort of song that can is a religious one, and this track came out of the blue for me and I think I’ll listen to it on a loop for a while.

The entire album is very solid and catchy. If this were so many other, established, pop country singers I would detest it. Knowing that Jamey worked for this and wrote his own songs, listening to his emotive voice with its sawdust and ashtray honkytonk burr, I really think you should buy the album and give Jamey a leg up. It’s rare that a country album is both good and marketable anymore.

On the fifth listen, “Flying Silver Eagle” is also a stand out.

Man, I really just flippin’ adore his voice.

Fan Fair is all about the spectacle: Saturday Night Coliseum show

What more needs to be said about a show where Billy Ray Cyrus was the best act?

That quip is actually mean to Billy Ray, because he was surprisingly charismatic, charming, and willing to mock himself for the pleasure of the crowd. Yes, I am a giant hater, but, hell, trust me, you’d enjoy seeing him live, too. [The Bon Jovi hair was a little frightening, but the set was surprisingly enjoyable.–Cricket]

But to start from the start.

To get the people from the downtown, outdoor venues across the river to the Coliseum, the festival hires buses and the concert-goers stand in a line to be loaded onto these buses in groups. One bus after another people shuffle up the steps and settle in for the several block trip.

I have never seen anything like that before. The trip is not a long walk. In fact it’s a nice walk to the Coliseum from the downtown corridor of Broadway and 2nd Avenue where the other concerts were performed and the in-doors signing shenanigans and the Gaylord are.

That being said, we also took the bus, and I won’t even be a hypocrite and go on about my heatstroke or sunburn, because I assume the yahoos were in much the same state.

We rode the half mile or so in the front seat behind the bus driver who was chatting to the old ladies who were sitting in the seat across the isle from us. One of the things I like best about living back down home is chatty old folks. They have tons of advice given without, or with very little, solicitation, and often they are even helpful and correct. Listen to old people.

The Coliseum is where the Tennessee Titans football team plays their games, in case you’re like me and hate football (oh, lord, don’t even start on me, people, I’m from Alabama and you’ve got no idea what I’ve endured). It’s set all weird in the landscape with no view of the river despite the river being right there and it is just a giant cement monstrosity.

Once on the grounds of the stadium, we wandered around on the first level watching the already-forming lines of folks who would stand in single-file throughout the actual concert of the person they wanted an autograph from or picture with. They seemed extremely pleased to sit on the concrete ground, in lines, like children. I think when Daisy said that about the whole fanning being a communal experience, we were not co-religionists in she was correct. Everyone was so damned happy about sitting around waiting. It was sort of like getting stuck in traffic on a Bristol race weekend with picnickers on the side of the road and tailgate parties right on the interstate.

At any rate, we were ready to sit. Which we did. We had decent seats for a stadium show, in the 200 tier of the shaded side of the arena. We sort of collapsed and only managed to move for beer when the music was too intolerable to withstand.

The set up of the whole enterprise was just like every other arena show you’ve been to in the last couple of years with a couple variations (like double stages, one on the left, the other on the right to facilitate speedy turn-over of the acts so that as one played the other stage was set up for the next act). There were people in folding chairs on the floor and the hulking sound/visual equipment in the middle rear behind and beside them. [Including groups of people in matching neon t-shirts huddled together. Sadly the pictures did not turn out.–Cricket] The stage was bedecked with several video screens so you could actually see the acts up close. The screens played the same three videos over and over again interspersed with ads before the show started.

This is a highlight reel now, because for the most part all I have to say is belligerent and rude.

Billy Ray Cyrus, as stated previously, was one of those unlooked for good times that usually only appears when you’re already in a good mood and can enjoy just about anything. That day we were exhausted, sunburnt, filthy, and generally hostile to the world. We still both really enjoyed his show. I know, weird. I was shocked enough for the whole world.

His first song was something along the lines of “I Wanna Be Your *insert word here*” every single time he got to that line, I could not for the life of me understand him. I can’t find the song on searching around for it, either.

Anyway, his second song was “I Want My Mullet Back,” and if his self-deprecating banter hadn’t won me over, this song would have. I wish everyone in the world took life this easy. He should be a role model for a lot of self-important musicians.

He’s played every Fan Fair since 1992, and I assume he’s one of the opening acts every year. The crowd really adored him. It was another glimpse into the private and strange lives of serial Fan Fair attendees.

“Sweet Home Alabama” is sort of one of those wallpaper songs in my life soundtrack that I barely even notice unless I’m far away from home. It was, however, a little strange that Billy Ray brought out one of the Lynyrd Skynyrd guys (Ed King) to play guitar while he sang it when we’d just seen another band (Kane) do it less than 24 hours previous.

He closed with “Achy Breaky Heart,” of course, and even did the dance. Billy Ray is some kind of all right.


I guess Miranda Lambert is from Nashville Star? She’s not one of the good ones. Next. [She’s the one that forced us from our seats to seek beer, right?–Cricket]


So sometimes I’m trapped with my mother watching CMT and listening to one of those crap-ass “Today’s Hot Country!” stations, and I sort of know at any given time what the current pop country zeitgeist is because of that. I know all the songs. I rarely know who sings them unless the song’s so freakin’ obnoxious I look it up to put a name to my hatred. There are exceptions. I’m not immune to a catchy song.

Right now, I guess, Craig Morgan is the Soundtrack of Our Lives. Sadly, I know all of his songs, but I didn’t know his name until we went to this show. Mainly because his music is the sort of stuff that makes the hair on my arms raise up in horror. It’s the sheer calculation of it all–songs written with the direct intent to pander to the lowest common denominator and resonate with yahoos’ lizard brains. This is the sort of songwriting-verging-on-propaganda that I think is killing country music.

Craig Morgan is the most perfect example of this style that I’ve found, and I’m sure that is why he is also all over the airwaves. People like easy–easy stories with neatly wrapped-up plots and recognizable archetypes with no messy “human” elements, easy fiction from the government that ignores friendly fire and the horror of living in a war zone no matter what side you’re on, easy music about religion stripped of wonder and patriotism stripped of responsibility.

The reactions of the clearly middle class, college-aged kids by us were a very good indication of the what I’ll call the Redneckification of country music and Southern culture that I’ve noticed in the last decade or more. As the acts played songs with a clear “redneck” theme, or said the word redneck itself, these kids in Abercrombie and Gap went apeshit. I’ve noticed this bizarre trend not just in music but also in daily life, with horror, for some time.

When did the cultural weathervane switch from pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and doing better for yourself and your family to being proud of an ignorant, ill-educated, racist past? What is wrong with y’all? All these years of the New South trying to rehab our national and international reputation and now you roll in the mudhole of pig-ignorance and pride over a flag that represents oppression and stupidity. You can be proud of your heritage and not embarrass yourselves, you know.

// end of I’m proud to be Southern, but if I see one more rebel flag I’m going to pee on the sonofabitch wearing it rant.


Carrie Underwood.

I started writing letters in my notebook starting with “Dear Brad” about right here, because I was only enduring this for him. Cricket, sadly, couldn’t even say that. [Never let it be said I won’t go to the ends of the earth for you. Carrie Underwood concerts are surely at least the third ring of hell.–Cricket]


Josh Turner has a great smile. He wore a sparkly black shirt. He gave some lip about bringing back old-timey country. I will buy his album and get back to you as to whether he’s simply cute or if he really might not be half-bad.


I wrote all kinds of notes about Martina McBride, because I realize that she’s a very awesome person who is wonderful to her fans, humble, and talented.

She also sings the sort of pop country music that is like battery acid on my soul. I support her as a human being, but screw me listening to her sing.


My absolutely stupid love of Brad Paisley is all over this site. This sort of venue didn’t do him justice because the time constraints were such that he wasn’t able to be his witty, hysterical self. But that being said, he’s still Brad, and he’s brightly-colored, guitar-picking wonder.

[So that was that. Big arena mainstream country show. Despite Mimi’s Brad love we actually left before he was done, to avoid the crowds. We got an insane ranty Libertarian cab driver who offered up that we seemed awfully smart and well spoken to be country fans. Um, yeah, thanks, buddy.–Cricket]

Fan Fair on Saturday Part One: hell is a hangover

Fan Fair is full of yahoos, which is a surprise to exactly no one but the yahoos themselves. If you’ve never been to Branson, Missouri, or Stone Mountain, Georgia, or Asheville, North Carolina, I’ll give you a rundown of the sorts of people we’re talking about here:

Imagine a crowd. This crowd is full of middle class and working class white people who eat mayonnaise and say things like “bless her heart” in a very disingenuous way. They wear rebel flag t-shirts and think that the brand of car they drive is of the same priority as the church they attend. They might not be overtly racist anymore, but give them a few beers and they proudly explain their opinions on the right and wrong kind of immigrant. You probably know tons of people like this. Now, imagine the entire downtown of Nashville crammed to the breaking point with only those people, and you’ve got a good idea of the yahoos at Fan Fair.

There were a few stand-out oddities in the crowd, like the random Asian family and the two or three black people who were either artists or media, but you can sort of fill in the blanks here.

Also, remember to dress the yahoos correctly in your head—a straw cowboy hat or a baseball cap is a must, as is a slogan’d tank top or t-shirt with “Southern” themed exclamations such as “I’ve got a honky tonk badonkadonk” or “Redneck Woman” or “Save a horse, ride me”. They often have on denim jeans with belts and their shirts tucked in or expose more than what I would deem to be family-friendly amounts of flesh.

These yahoos can not negotiate a sidewalk, stopping in the middle cluelessly staring at random Nashville bric-a-brac as the foot traffic behind them comes to a dead halt. On the plus side, all being well trained by their Memaws and church, Fan Fair yahoos are mainly extremely friendly and solicitous after the welfare and happiness of strangers. They will help out a fellow Fan Fair-ian by piping into random conversations or by offering drive-by advice like “You’re getting’ pretty burnt up there, baby.” The last one was something I should have listened to, but being a total eejit, did not.

While it’s true that the music and the general atmosphere of Fan Fair isn’t really what we’re all about on this blog, in the interest of fairness and the love of cheesiness we couldn’t resist. Besides, we live here, and how the hell could we pass this up? Right on our doorstep: more radio-friendly country music than anywhere on earth besides Curb Records’ back catalogue.

To be honest, most of my personal exposure to radio country music is found either when I accidentally forget my iPod in my truck or I’m stuck at my mom’s and she’s watching CMT or GAC. Or she’s listening to Sugarland or Rascal Flatts in the car and I allow this because I am just that great of a kid. So I had several moments of “Oh, that’s the name of the person who sings that wallpaper song!” this week. My hatred of jingoistic, Jesus-fried, brain-dead country music was also cemented firmly in the righteous category as well.

Bottom line: I was in this for Brad Paisley and gawking at the yahoos, with a side order of the sort of awe at spectacle that adults are rarely privileged to experience. I got what I came for.


Look, I don’t want any shit about the Brad Paisley thing. I know that we’re treading on nearly self-parody ice with that, but I really do not care what you think about me liking him. He’s made of awesome, and if you don’t respect that, the line to fuck off forms to the left. Don’t step on any toes along the way.


In another review we discussed how I came to be hung over like the End Times on Saturday morning. I will just move it along to say that I was. Therefore I wasn’t thinking very clearly when I got up and dressed to go over to the circus. I will now summarize my morning:

Me: Get up, dumbass, we have to see Jerrod Niemann at noon or some other ungodly hour.
Cricket: Still drunk, can’t get out of bed.
Me: Am I even technically alive right now?

Got a cab (still could have gotten a DUI, I’m positive), got down there to find that it’s child-molester-level-of-hell hot down there and I had chosen to wear black. It’s clear to everyone that I was hung over, right? Because, for my next trick, I didn’t even consider wearing sunscreen. At all. Now, I’m not pale, so that’s not normally a big deal, but more on this later. Most important part of my morning: realizing I’d pulled my hamstring the night before tripping over a guitar case. Then I stood around in the sun on concrete for a couple hours watching music while Cricket’s stupid ass slept.

Apparently the CMA Music Festival (the actual name of Fan Fair now) organizers were raised some kind of Pentecostal that teaches that shade is the enemy of the righteous man, because there’s barely a frickin’ lick of it to be found anywhere downtown. This shade-free situation was particularly bad at the Chevrolet stage out in front of the Gaylord Arena/Auditorium/Convention Center. A slab of concrete on a road with no breeze, and then tons of crap all crowded in there to block any sort of air circulation results in heat stroke. Or, in my case, maybe further brain damage than what I’d inflicted on myself the night before.

Sidebar about the hang over: it was so bad and so obviously bad, that people randomly commented to me about it with advice such as “What you need is a beer” (my cab driver) and “It’s five o’clock somewhere” from an old dude who was standing near me while I was about to fall out. Luckily I was in a crowd of self-identified rednecks, so I fit in, being an actual one and all.

(Some of this review may be even less professional than normal because some of the information for it is impossible to get—such as the song titles and other unimportant info like that—because the people don’t have records you can Google for track listings and they are too hung over themselves to answer their email.)

The first act I caught this morning was Randy Hauser. He should be famous as all hell soon because his music is mainstream like heyall. I didn’t want to kill myself or anything, but it’s not really my thing. To get me to like radio country you have to trick me with dobro or slide guitar or be George Strait or Brad Paisley.

However, perusing his myspace page makes me think I should see him in an indoor venue when my brain isn’t cooking, because, clearly, the guy is hysterical.

Mr. Hauser was very amusing through out his set. He had a song called “Good Boys Need Spankings Too” that was both catchy and oddly naughty for the crowd he was playing to. The title tells you what you need to know about it, I do believe. His second song was a sort of white gospelly tune about baptism. I liked it live, but I’d be willing to bet that on an album, it’d end up over-produced with all the life bled out of it. Then Randy tried to win my love and adoration by singing a song with the hook “Waylon would have kicked your ass.”

I’m sure I’ll see him again soon and decide to be as embarrassingly enthusiastic about him as most of the other acts here, but the problem is I was extremely distracted by the yahoos in the plaza between me and the stage (not that there were many due to either something going on elsewhere I have no idea about because I’m extremely horribly informed or the fact that it was a gee-dee inferno out there). There was a girl in a pink camo ensemble consisting of a tank top and very short shorts, and her boyfriend kept sticking his hand between her legs. I was on the verge of moving when they moved instead, which was good since I had to prop myself up on one of the display Chevrolets to remain erect anyway.

Second major distraction during Randy Hauser’s performance was the wackadoodle in a pair of cut offs, white tube socks and white tennis shoes and nothing else. He had all these random, dumbass tats and was dancing around like a total tool. Me and this old cowboy dude had a moment laughing our asses off at him later on.

Right. So Randy Hauser writes catchy songs that are not intended for me. He does not suck.


A couple more things I will bitch about before I move on. First, the sound at this venue was total ass. I’ve been to my share of outdoor shows, and I was consistently annoyed by the sound engineering at this whole festival. At the Riverfront Stage they had the mics down too low and at the Chevy stage it was just distorted and assy all around. Secondly, the XM radio disc jockey MCing the Chevy stage made me want to kill puppies to make him shut up. God, he was infernally created just to make the lives of poor sinners worse, I swear it.

Anyway, so the entire reason I hauled my hung over, sorry ass out of bed in the first place this morning was to see Jerrod Niemann. Look out for me being positive for a little stretch: Jerrod Niemann is talented, funny, and smart.

More importantly, he’s a very nice guy who tolerates crazy drunken women (yes, that relates to my hangover). As you will have previously read, his parents are awesome and I think you should support Jerrod’s career to finance their retirement. I think you’ll even enjoy it! You might have heard songs he’s written like “Good Ride Cowboy” and “That Girl is a Cowboy” sung on the radiddio by Garth freaking Brooks, or maybe you just live in Nashville and know the dude, but more than likely you don’t know him. That’s why this blog exists, so settle down with a whiskey or a whiskey and I’ll talk at ya about him.

Jerrod’s songs are really solid with catchy lyrics—and I’ll talk about that more in a second—but what I think his strength is that he’s not a moron. Now, you might just go “Duh!” to the idea that someone not a moron would be more interesting than someone who is, say, a moron, but you’d be wrong.

The whole thing about musicians is they aren’t geniuses, or else they would have gone to medical or dental school. Instead, they live on their friends’ couches and forget which beer can has the cigarette butts in it. So, when a musician comes along and is actually funny and clever, it’s apparently shocking to an audience as evidenced by the idiots’ reaction to Jarrod in the Hell Plaza of Gaylordiness. He was funny; the crowd was a dud. That’s always disappointing on the behalf of the person/people playing.

As I write this, our air conditioning is broken and Willie is singing to me about his heroes being cowboys, and I’m debating whether or not to put myself through the chaos and hullabaloo at the Coliseum for the last night of Fan Fair. Whaddya think? Not worth it? Our cable isn’t on—how about now? Yeah, I guess I should see who’s playing at the Bluebird, you’re right.

So, back to Jerrod.

I *think* the songs he sang were “Got Mud,” “Dear Diary,” “Good Ride Cowboy,” a Waylon cover, and any number of other songs. Due to the sound quality, half the time he was intro-ing the songs I couldn’t understand what he was saying. This could also be my hangover talking, but I maintain it was heatstroke and crappy sound engineering.

Either way, Jerrod was worth hauling my sad ass out into the hellish atmosphere of the Gaylord plaza to see. Now it’s your turn, go to his myspace page and click his songs or check out his website and listen to him sing.

Fan Fair on Saturday Part Two: sunburn kicking in and heatstroke on the horizon

After I saw Jerrod Niemann, I realized Cricket had called me about fifty-six times while I was getting a sunburn on the part in my hair and sweating to death (three bottles of water, two of cups of coffee, and a bottle of Gatorade, and I didn’t have to pee once, that’s how hot it was). We then engaged in the sort of retarded-ass phone tag only possible between two idiots with cell phones in a crowd. The details of us not being to find each other in an area about the size of a football field is boring even to me, so I’ll spare you. [Too bad we didn’t think about text messaging until the next day. Apparently heavy drinking does make you stupid. Who knew?–Cricket]

After we found each other, there were shenanigans relating to us negotiating the yahoos and me having to buy a new, non-black t-shirt at Cotton-Eyed Joe’s, but eventually we found our way into the Convention Center.

Oh, baby.

See, I could tell you all about the wackadoodles we saw in there, but it would sound made up, so instead… oh hell! I took all these pictures with my phone, and since I’m really dumb they didn’t come out. Instead, I guess, I will have to describe things with words. How lame.

Close your eyes and imagine a really huge high school gym converted for a craft sale or a indoor flea market–little, neat stalls in rows with different levels of sophistication in graphics and detailing. In the case of Fan Fair, each of the stalls is advertising a record company or a performer or some kind of kitschy paraphernalia (rhinestone cowgirl hats or John Deer clothes). One of the big draws of Fan Fair for the actual fans is that many artists do meet and greets in the Convention Center during the festivities. For that, people line up in designated areas (in hallways mainly) behind little hand-lettered signs (held, presumably, by the president of the their fanclub or the singer’s sister) and wait for hour upon hour to be lead into the actual exhibition room to stand around longer to get their chance to meet Chris Young or Bubba Gump. This is all organized in a zany way that looks to the outside observer like kindergarten or Bible camp—the people waiting out in the hallways are brought in a few at a time, holding onto yellow nylon cord, in a single file line led by the sister/fanclub president. My assumption is that this technique is utilized to prevent line-jumping, but another person opined to me that it was for more of a “communal experience.” Maybe it’s a little of both. I took lots of pictures of my fingers trying to capture the strangeness of it all.

The only person we’d ever heard of signing when we were in the Exhibition Hall was Chris Young (Nashville Star winner), and I almost even got in the damned line to get his autograph for my friend Robo, but Cricket was too hung over to indulge my cheesiness. [Okay, the line went way down the hall. Some things I will not do for fun and one of them is just stand around for no real reward at the end.–Cricket] My opinion of that is in for a penny, in for the National Debt, so why not? Maybe next year there will be even more American Idol/Nashville Star contestants beloved of my tasteless friends and I can get a picture and everything.

We left the Convention Center with nada–not even the damned CMT Hearts Fanatics bag I was trying to get. Listen, CMT, this whole “We can’t give away bags while this lame-ass singer is signing autographs” bullshit is not on. I was two seconds from punching out the lackey you had refusing me my bag. The straps on my Cotton-Eye Joe’s bag broke and I was carrying it on my hip like a toddler. Y’all suck more than the telling of it. I’m watching GAC, bitches.

This is the part of the day where my higher brain functions sort of shut down completely. It was probably at least half radiation poisoning from the sunburn and half whiskey from the night before. You’ll be happy to know I’ve decided to stick to gin from now on. Even if you’re not happy to hear that, my liver is; it’s thinking of applying for a job as my spleen.

We made our way down to the Riverfront stage. Don’t let the name fool you, it was not cooler than the rest of the apocalyptic scene downtown. Cricket refused to even get back in the sun and propped herself on a tree declaring that she was calling in drunk to work that day [Note how pathetic that is, since my job is to go to shows, and drink and be funny and I couldn’t even manage that.–Cricket] and I made my way down to the grass terrace that rolls in waves just slightly too high for decent negotiation down to the water. Luckily, one of the give-aways at Fan Fair was Advil, so my hamstring pull had abated enough for me to be able to get down close enough to the stage to be able to watch the performers on the stage and not be relegated to watching on the screens. I won’t even get into all that noise about how lame I think it is to go to a show so large you have to watch the performers like it’s a movie or television.

The acts at the Riverfront were not programmed with my personal taste in mind, and I appreciate that. It doesn’t stop me from being a giant hater, but I do understand that my iTunes purchases and mail-order CD buying doesn’t exactly pay folks’ mortgages, so fine. (That’s why we have this blog, though–to maybe get some people to realize there is a freakin’ choice to listen to real music if they want to get off their asses and stop buying Shania Twain albums.) Anyway, I parked it on the grass in my Nashville t-shirt and skirt and mainly avoided getting stepped on. Sadly, we arrived for the set intro’d by “The Stars of NBC Daytime,” so there was a lot of dumb on hand. This dude who plays a race car driver on Days of Our Lives made the sunstroked crowd do the wave, for example. Don’t make me relive all this.

Lo and behold, something shockingly wonderful happened then. His name is Bobby Marquez, and he plays Texas dancehall music. Yippee! He kicked his set off with a two-steppin’ song called “She’s Not from Texas”–you can probably figure out the story threading through the song. He moved from tune to tune with this super-happy, up-beat patter, all smiles and “Pleased to be here, y’all.”

Why, why wasn’t there more just like him all weekend? One song after the other, he kept up with the sort of hokey, comical lyrics that are so well-suited to Texas swing. “Complicated Woman” covered the never hackneyed in country music ground of the woman who can’t make up her mind. “Beer Pressure” is, naturally, about his friends “pressuring” him into drinking after work. His last song, “Neon Tan,” sounded like a Texas-flavored Jimmy Buffett tune about how everyone else can have the beach, Bobby’s sticking to the bar, thanks anyway. Texas swing is my kryptonite, and I can understand if you don’t feel it, but I figure then you weren’t breastfed, or you’re really an alien. (Or, as my mama would say, “That ain’t American!”)

It was pretty much all downhill from there except that the shade crept up onto the grass enough for me to coax Cricket out to sit down with me.

I’ll skip over everyone but two others that played on Saturday afternoon. Linda Davis, who I will say seemed genuinely peppy and into “inspirational” music, but struck me so hard as being cougar that I had a hard time even listening to her music without frowning.

Then there was Bobby Pinson, who I actually really enjoyed, and Cricket loathed with the fire of a hundred righteous fifteen-year-old girls who have lost their text-messaging plans.

Once again, the mic was way way too low and half the vocals were lost into the French-fry-scented ether (maybe I should say Freedom fries as a nod to the yahoos?), but you could hear enough to get the gist. I thought Bobby Pinson was funny and his songs were obviously written by someone who knew exactly what they were doing. Not on the pandering level of Craig Morgan (more on him later), but I still get that niggle from his songs that they were insincere and written to make lots of money. There is nothing wrong with lots of money–who isn’t for lots of money? Songs written like that (alone) just aren’t my thing. Keep on truckin’, though, Bobby, you seemed pretty cool. He sort of endeared himself to me by employing the Steve Earle patented “HUH!” exclamation to punctuate lyrics. I think that’s probably what was annoying Cricket and she was just too hung over to realize it. Personally, I wish everyone copied Steve in all ways. [Bad people emulating good people does not make them better artists.–Cricket]

We ate then we went over to the Coliseum. That article is a whole other one. Blah blah rantycakes.