Monthly Archives: January 2012

Outlaw Radio – A Twitter Review

Outlaw Radio is a media outlet with the sole function of playing legitimate underground roots, rockabilly, bluegrass, blues, and folk music.  It is based out of Chicago, Illinois.  They pride themselves on their ability to provide news, opinions, concert and album reviews, artist profiles, and music history. It also includes a few segments bashing the state of pop-country.  Their Twitter account is a loose imitation of their web domain, but it offers a social medium that their website does not.  It is a very effective tool for staying in touch with the community and individuals abroad.

The station has a strong understanding of the benefits social media sites.  Outlaw Radio is extremely keen on the networking capabilities of Twitter.  They also keep in contact with musicians, producers, and other big names involved in their field.  They are also very invested in the promotion of local events in the Chicago area via Twitter.  The concert and album information on their Twitter account is extremely short.  This is due to the 140 character limit on posts.  Although it is still effective in generating exposure where there otherwise would be none.

Overall, Outlaw Radio is a company that vividly grasps the concept of the DIY promotion style that Twitter grants.  They have a strong following in their community and have built it by themselves from the ground up.  Being only four years old, it is incredibly how prosperous this station has been.  It is fairly safe to say that without social mediums like Twitter, this growth would not have been nearly as abundant.

Follow Outlaw Radio Chicago on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/OutlawRadioChi

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The Death of Country Music

Country music has been a tradition in American homes since the Great Depression.  The sound is historically linked to folk, gospel, and bluegrass tradition.  It saw a rise to popularity during a time where people had very few opportunities for a better life.  It was also around this time that the radio was beginning to rise in popularity.  Communities during this era saw country music as a channel to exhibit their displeasure with the economic situation.  The suffering people during this time were drawn to the genre because of its unadulterated, genuine, raw emotion.  The honesty that the music was founded on has eroded over time to a state of calculated, careless, watered down remains.

Pioneers of country music like Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash had a firm understanding of song writing, guitar musicianship, and how to entertain and draw an audience.  These artists sang about pain, because they understood pain.  Today, country icons like Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, and Dierks Bentley are nothing more than the brainchildren of soulless marketers in the music industry.  These “artists” are marketed to the listener as warm hearted, ingenious musical visionaries.  Although in reality they have incredibly limited musical ability, lack any creative insight, and are typically just directed by their higher-ups.

The biggest problem with the country music on the radio today is this overt lack of integrity.  The once undeniably honest genre has become a timid parody of itself.  Country heavyweights today generally do not write their own songs. Instead a group of “ghostwriters” who work in an office setting, and are paid on salary; craft them for the music publisher or record company.  The producers bring in a handful of session musicians, and then attempt to create something deliberately imitated and recycled.  This is to ensure the trained ears of country radio listeners won’t be disappointed by any contrast in the music.  These “ghostwriters” work a forty hour week and as long as their songs are churning a profit and in the Top 40, everybody is happy.

However, between the spineless product placement and redundant themes there is still a small pocket of hope.  Off the radio airwaves, there are still many artists seething with emotion and song writing ability.  A handful of modern country artists like Justin Townes Earle, Scott H. Biram, Pat Bernhard, Mike Cooley and Corb Lund are in a constant battle to both sell records and continue producing sincere music.  These artists receive little exposure and radio play because their material does not fit the criteria laid out by the executives in Music City.

Let me finish by saying that I personally don’t believe true and honest country music is dead, but it’s a lot harder to find than it ever was best before.  You won’t hear it on CMT, and you definitely won’t hear it on your local “country” station.  If you want to find fresh, genuine country music, your best bet is to begin searching online.  There are thousands of individuals on the web who are furious with the decaying state of country radio and how the music industry has obliterated the sincerity and virtue it was once rooted in.

Deep Blues Blog

The Deep Blues blog is a web domain dedicated to the preservation of the blues tradition and generating exposure for new blues acts.  It features varying content  from late blues legends, new-found acts with a small fan base, and includes articles involving things going on in the blues community .  The blog strives to help sustain the withering American blues tradition without compromising or straying from the unpasteurized integrity that the genre was founded on.  Whether or not it does this effectively is another story.

The blog itself has a bare bones and raw aesthetic, and the structure of the site on a whole could be reorganized to create more harmony between the posts and sidebars.  There is also a sidebar with hundreds of different musical acts and related blues topics that adds to the chaos and makes things appear even more unkept.

When the author of the blog does chose to write, it is informative, structured, and seemingly poetic.  Although a number of blog entries on the Deep Blues domain have absolutely no text, only a series of embedded video.  This is problematic because they are embedded on the site via Youtube, so the video description by the orignal uploader also doesn’t appear.  This causes people to not even bother clicking on the footage posted because they are clueless to what they are about to watch.

That being said, the content of the blog, regardless of the lack of text, is superb.  It features several rare videos containing legends like R.L Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, two superstars in the deep blues community.  Posted on their homepage about half way down is a series of 10 or more videos with the two blues giants playing together.

The blog incorporates videos of a painter/musician who is heavily influenced by Delta music.  He is known for playing guitar, and creatively painting both musical instruments and canvas.  This article was very informative and explanatory.  It also publicized a series of his canvass painting and graphic designs on the web page aswell.

Overall I think the Deep Blues blog is more than due for an overhaul.  Its crowded and chaotic and lacking in written text.  The video content they do have is quite enthralling  but with no description, they are passable at best.  If you can get past the late nineties graphic web design and are an American blues fan; this website might be your cup of tea; however, my opinion is that most people would respectively surf right on by this blog.

Love for the Delta

It happened back when I was 14 years old on a trip with my parents and little sister Maggie in Myrtle Beach North Carolina.  That’s where I first found my love for the Delta sound.  We were driving to Wal-Mart to get supplies for the week, and I found myself in the electronics section wanting nothing to do with the grocery shopping at hand.

I was browsing through the CD section when I picked up a Sublime album, with a picture of the late, great Bradley Nowell and his band mates.  A true steal for any fourteen years old with a fifty dollar bill and a taste for Reggae.  On the front it read: two for twenty dollars, it being thirteen dollars alone it would have been stupid not pick up another album.

There I saw it, and I didn’t know it yet but this was going to be one of the greatest investment I ever made.  The holy grail of Southern Rock: The Greatest hits of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  I had heard them on the radio before and liked the southern sound, but other than: ‘That Smell’, ‘Freebird’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, I truly had no concept of what I had in my hand or the effect it would have on my life.

I didn’t actually listen to the album for another three days, being quite content with the warm Atlantic breeze and the songs Sublime offered.  I finally decided it was time for a change and put it the stereo; IT HIT ME LIKE A GODDAMN TRUCK.

What had I been doing all this time?  Where was this?  Why had I been so stubborn?  My Pops had been telling me about Skynyrd, Neil Young, and Clapton since I could remember but I just chose to ignore him.  This was the greatest thing my ears had ever heard.  So genuine, real, and honest lyrically, with so much electric thump it’d make your mother worry.  I almost felt ashamed of what I had been listening to before.  Not to the discredit any of the musicians and songwriters I listened to in the past, but this music spoke to me in ways that Billie Joe Armstrong and his ‘American Idiot’ punk rock just couldn’t.

I think the first time I got through that album I felt shame more than anything, probably because I had been so hard on blues and country music in the past, but since then I’ve really embraced my roots.  Now I see the blues as a part of me and all these years down the road I still love Skynyrd.

Peace

Thoughts on Social Media

Social media has grown so substantially in the past 10 years, it is unbelievable.  Outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress have truly revolutionized our world.  The question is whether  this revolution has been for the better or the worse.

Today we see people treat blackberry’s and smartphones as if it was there first-born child,  this dependency can not be healthy.  Although social media has a place in today’s society,  it is being abused by quite an extraordinary number of people.  The number of hours that teenagers and adults a like spend on social media is preposterous when they could be accomplishing something remotely productive or creative.

There is a very thin line when it comes to the world of social media, and it is not unusual for someone to take an opportunity to network themselves and turn it into a mockery of useless information and unsubstantiated opinions.  Many a time, I’ve seen an individual go from producing a thoughtful, autonomous piece of work to creating a poorly constructed and rather lousy product.

In conclusion, I believe social media is a very powerful tool but like all powerful tools must be used responsibly.  Moderation is key and as long as there is purpose to the social expression it is a great thing to have at your disposal.  It is when people begin exploiting these engines that it becomes a problem.  Nobody wants to read verbal diarrhea.