Your Take: What’s In a Name?
Yesterday, Juli posted a profile on Hellbound Glory, a Reno-based band with a mash-up of sonic influences. The group characterizes its sound as “scumbag country,” the latest in a recent spurt of country and bluegrass sub-genres:
Though the band’s lineup has changed often over the past five years, their sound, which Virgil describes as “scumbag country,” (a blend of classic country, rockabilly, and a dash of bluegrass) has remained the same. The term, more endearing than it may seem, was actually coined by fellow country singer Johnny Dilks. Virgil explains, “[We] stayed up until about 5 AM picking guitars and taking pills and drinking booze and all that stuff. The next day he woke up and said ‘You know what, you’re just a scumbag.’ I said, ‘You know what, you’re absolutely right.’ We took on the term ’scumbag’ as kind of a good thing; I don’t think anybody’s used it before and I got tired of describing our music as ‘outlaw country.’”
The always-reliable Wikipedia lists more than 50 different sub-genres of country and bluegrass, from Cowpunk and Gothic Americana to Techno-country and Nu-grass. (And Death Country, and Pop-Country, and…)
Back in January, CMT’s Chet Flippo wrote a Nashville Skyline article titled “Why the Term ‘Country Music’ May Disappear” that looked at country music’s many names:
Some people regard all of that as country music — and some don’t. Some like all or many parts or sub-genres of it — and some like only one or two or three areas. Many fans of ’70s rock have discovered that today’s mainstream country is ’70s rock. And some bluegrass is actually closer to jazz than to country.
So, will those genres continue to exist as genres or even sub-genres if all the artists therein will be regarded mainly as providers of songs (or “tracks”) to be downloaded? As albums increasingly cease to be a dominant factor, which areas of country will fade and blur into some other area or simply disappear altogether?
What’s your take on the ever-expanding umbrella of “country music”? Do you think sub-genres help music listeners identify their own favorite niches, or do they fragment the industry as a whole? What are your favorite sub-genres of country music?
Also, what are your thoughts on Flippo’s question on the current popularity of single song downloads – will genres or sub-genres as we know them continue to exist if their artists are regarded mainly as providers of songs (or “tracks”) to be downloaded?
- Leeann Ward: Thanks, NM. I like a good pop hook, to be honest. So, maybe I need to try it again.
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim Z. That changes everything. I surrender.
- Jim Z: to call the Dirty River Boys an "Austin area band" is still incorrect. They are based in El Paso.
- nm: Leeann, you and I often have similar tastes in more-traditional country. And, to my ears, Sam Hunt's voice and lyrics …
- Barry Mazor: Matter of fact, as always--I did. The notes say the album was recorded & mixed by and at "The …
- Roger: Looking forward to picking up the Jamey Johnson Christmas EP - love all of those songs and can't wait for …
- Jim Z: that record was recorded in El Paso. (you could look it up) and other than appearing in Austin once in …
- Leeann Ward: Yes, I can always use more dobro in my life! Thanks for the Phil Leadbetter tip! I haven't been able to …
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim. The record's more or less out of Austin. But I'm sure they're also good in El Paso...
- Jim Z: Dirty River Boys are from El Paso, Texas.