Posts Tagged ‘Country Music’

When You Think Tim McGraw…

This weekend has been most an endless disaster. I won’t bore you with the details, but it involves constant rain, shitty customers, various mishaps with my car, overpriced parts, an overdrawn bank account and arthritis.

I’d been waiting for today since February. Tim McGraw was coming to Jazz Fest. I’ve never seen McGraw before, and it was important to me. He’s possibly the only legend of our generation so far. I’ve been waiting and waiting. And then the long awaited weekend came, and it just would. not. stop. It rained yesterday, making the concert grounds as sloppy as it’s bayou roots suggest. And even though it was sunny enough this morning as I was working on my truck, rain was still expected, and sure enough it came. i found myself wading through streets flooded with 8 inches of water (it may have been more) in a truck that needs four new tires. And for all I knew, McGraw might have to cancel his show. I was miserable, tired and in pain, and I wondered if perhaps I should just give up and go home.

Most people would have said to hell with it, and that isn’t cowardly, its just good sense.

There’s a line from the Transformers (2007) that I really liked. (Yes, I’m quoting a Michael Bay film, what of it?)

Fifty years from now, when you’re looking back at your life, don’t you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?

When I was younger, I was scared of the world. I never moved, never risked, never did anything that made life worth living. And I lost out on opportunity and love and god only knows what else because I was afraid. And as I got older, I learned. The lesson wasn’t not to be afraid. It was that when a fast car comes your way, get in. When I die, I want to be able to say I had the guts to get in the car.

I’ll be down for the crazy shit. The experiences that conventional wisdom says to shy away from. I want to live out loud. And for the most part, I do. There are things. Girls scare me. I detest heights. But to some degree or another I live for adventure in whatever form it takes. Though, I would argue perhaps not quite enough.

So I braved the flood and potential pneumonia for a concert.

Now in all honesty, it turned out to be much ado about nothing. After the initial flood, the evening was reduced to a dreary drizzle over mushy, soaked bayou mud. I did get wet though.

A passerby rightly compared it to going through the Woodstock anniversary ten years ago. It was merry madness. There’s something so sad about New Orleans that is almost Dickensian to me, save for the lack of class. There were hundreds of people there, just as I was, soaked, muddy and apparently either unaware of how ridiculous their situation was, or just not caring.

Parents rolled their babies through the much and mire, or for the little ones capable of walking on their own, just slapped some galoshes on them and went for a stroll.

This particular picture tickled me.

It didn’t come out quite right because I didn’t want anyone to see me snapping pictures of some kids’ asses, but the four of them reminded me of a Pink Floyd poster I saw once.

It’s probably just me.

These kids decided to go for a swim for some reason. I have to wonder where the hell their parents were.

And no, that’s not a pond. That’s nasty, muddy flood water.

Apparently Jesus ain't the only Motherfucker who can walk on water, is he???

Apparently Jesus ain’t the only motherfucker who can walk on water, is he??

It’s like a garage sale at a haunted mansion.

I have a few friends who dig art (being as how they’re artists, DUH.). So I wanted to include some of the art, tangible and painted that is on display at the festival. Some of it is native New Orleans. But a large portion of it…

While it’s worth noting that a majority of New Orleans’ population is black, it isn’t particularly African. So I find it odd that most of the crafts and the vast majority of art tents were devoted to Tribal art. Similarly, the (infinitely smaller) Native American display falls out of place. However there’s at least one Reservation in Louisiana, so it is somewhat relevant even if it isn’t really part of Louisiana’s culture. But there were a small number of displays devoted to New Orleans and Louisiana’s cultural heritage.

No idea what this is, but it looks like an authentic New Orleans tenement. The beer helps with the illusion.

Promotional art by various local artists. Every person illustrated has been a performer at Jazz Fest. The guy in the picture in the corner is more famous for Will and Grace and dying in Independence Day than for his music, but anyway…

Some of the art was more than a little bizarre.

That’s an 8 foot statue of a nekkid woman behind me. I don’t know why.

I ate a little, because if there’s one truth about New Orleans it’s that it’s the drunkest, most belligerent city in the world. And if there’s two truths, it’s that it’s the home of the best food in the US. Most N.O. residents would argue it’s the best food in the world, but that’s just stupid. For one, most N.O. residents have never traveled farther than Biloxi MS, much less the world. Also, the reason the food is so good, is that Thomas Jefferson sent his personal chef to study in France, and that knowledge somehow emigrated here. I don’t really remember the rest of the story, but it’s true. Whatever the reason, the food is awesome. But for some reason, the one stand I chose to eat from sucked ass. It was fried catfish. I shouldn’t have to point out how pathetic it is that I was at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Fried Catfish poboy I ordered tasted like shit. I won’t bore you with the details of the rest of the over-priced, low quality food I purchased there, but whoever owns those stands ought to be burned at the stake.

Eventually it came time to find a spot in the crowd. I’d ended up with “not-quite-backstage” tickets. It took me a while to find the entrance. Once I got in, I used the private port-o-potty provided (ah luv alliteration) and walked outside the greeting tent to try and find the section cordoned off for “special, but not nearly as special as some” people like me. I asked directions of an attendant, and she pointed right in front of me. “Right over there.” Which might make me look stupid except that the area, 50 feet away, was separated from me by a fucking 15 foot moat, which appeared to be about a foot deep.

Got wet?

Up until this point, I’d managed to keep my feet dry, while the rest of me could have won a t-shirt contest at Senor Frogs. I HATE wet socks. I wore these brown water resistant shoes even though they did not match the shorts and orange shirt I had on. I looked ridiculous, but unlike all the other suckers out there walking through 3 inches of water and mud all day, I had dry socks. But this was different. That water was fuckin deeper than Frederick Nietzshce’s bed time stories. There was no way I was crossing the River Nile there without going for a swim. And I really didn’t wanna.

So I stood there for a minute, and asked myself how much it was worth. “I didn’t come all this way to turn tail at the last yard.” I said to myself. And I ran for the river and jumped. Of course I misgauged how deep the water was. It was closer to two feet deep. As I fell into the bottomless abyss, I felt the water rise up past my knees and to my pockets where I had my very expensive cell phone and wallet. Frantically I ripped them out. The wallet was a little soggy, but the phone, miraculously didn’t have a drop on it. I made it across the pacific ocean a little worse for wear, but basically fine. Th water resistance of my boots went both ways it seemed, holding the excess water in. In a slightly comedic turn of events, McGraw played his song “That’s All Between the River and Me” about twenty minutes later.

The spot allotted to we happy few wasn’t all that great. It was on the far side of the stage. I would have done better fighting my way to the front with “the little people”. But it did afford me some room to move, rather than be crammed in like a sardine. I found a spot with a decent view of the stage, but I was shoulder to shoulder with a couple of smokers, one of whom apparently thought he looked like McGraw and decided to model himself after him. He gave himself a McGraw-esque goatee; put on a black hat which clearly was not the same as his famous idol’s. Of course he was about a foot shorter than Tim and had no talent, but whatever. I don’t know if it’s like that with other forms of music, but for some reason in Country, there always seems to be one guy who adopts a Single White Female obsession with the artists. It’s sad really.

There were also two drunk bitches behind me, who were completely unable to follow the alcoholic’s credo: Don’t spill your beer. Just everywhere. They also fell on their asses and got covered in slop. It was more amusing than anything else. Shoulda got a picture of that.

All in all it was a fairly good concert. Not the best I’ve ever been to, but great. He debuted 3 songs from his next album, and promptly forgot some of the words. He played some new stuff, like Kristofferson, the new single which I’m a big fan of. I think I was the only one singing along on that one. Also, the cover of Ryan Adams’ Til The Stars Go Blue. His cover of that song makes me laugh, because Ryan Adams was interviewed a few weeks back and talked a lot of shit about country. And I’m fairly certain more people know that song from One Tree Hill’s Beth Joy Galeotti and Tim McGraw (both did a cover of the song) than from him. Honestly, I’ve never heard of Ryan Adams, and I’m certain most people who have think he’s Bryan Adams. But I digress.

He did a few of his old songs as well, most of his big hits like Something Like That and Indian Outlaw, and the crowd just goes berserk every time. Honestly you could smell the wet pussy when he sang Real Good Man. And he has fun with that. You can tell he knows he’s a star and he loves every second of it. After several songs he held his hands out and waited for the applause and the roar of the hungry crowd. They wanted more. They wanted Tim. And he basked in it. And I’m cool with that, because for all his fame and attitude, he seems to appreciate every little bit of the adulation.

It started raining again during his last set. I have two favorite songs, and I knew he wouldn’t play one of them. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t the one I thought!. Don’t Take the Girl is practically a country institution. It was a foregone conclusion that he would sing it. But instead he closed out the show with a cover of a David Allen Coe Song, The Ride. As I understand it, he never does that song. It isn’t even on any of his albums. I’ve only heard it because I found it on the net. But there it was. The band slowly played out Real Good Man and shifted into the next song. The crowd looked baffled, but I knew the chords of that steel guitar. My hands flew into the air in celebration. And when he said “I was thumbing my way to Montgomery, with my guitar on my back…” I was right there, singing along. It was pretty awesome.

After that, I walked back to catch my ride, sore and wet. So was it worth it? I’m not sure. But I did it. I went for it, when I shouldn’t have. And someday I’ll say, yeah, I got in the car.

Advertisements

The 2008 CMT Awards

I don’t really watch awards shows.

Almost never, in fact. There’s just no reason to, honestly. For one, we all know it’s usually rigged. The people who should win never do. And in cases like the Grammy’s the winners are always selected because A: they want to make a political statement, or B: because no one has ever heard of the winner and the record label bribed someone for a little exposure. But the worst thing is how obnoxiously hedonistic the whole thing is. Awards shows are public circle jerks for famous people. A chance for them to sit around congratulating each other on being rich, talentless and incredibly fucking lucky. I can’t take watching things like that. It depresses me.

The only real exception is Country Music awards shows. I watch those because it’s an evening of good music, good people and stars that I feel actually deserved to be honored. Of course I don’t watch every one; it’s still an award show, but sometimes I’ll tune in.

This year, the fan- voted CMT Awards was hosted by pop sensation Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) and her formerly-famous-for-making-an-annoying-pop-country-dance-song dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. First of all, I have to admit that I like Hannah Montana. Yes, it’s a kids show, but in many ways it is reminiscent of those great TGIF shows from my childhood. It’s kind of funny and more than a little silly, but it’s the good kind of silly. And I actually like some of her music, including her father’s recent stab at reattaining pop chart fame (a duet with Miley) Ready, Set, Don’t Go. So part of the reason I watched the show was because I love Country Music, and part of it was that I was curious how they would do as hosts of the show.

I’m writing this a day late because I had a little mishap with my VCR (yes, I still use a VCR) on Monday. (Damned Daylight Savings Time!) I didn’t actually get to watch until last night. Overall I was fairly entertained by what I saw. Here’s my breakdown.

THE HOSTS

On some level I always thought it was pathetic that Billy Ray seems to cling to his daughter’s coat-tails in one last shot at fame. In fact, the duet I mentioned wasn’t originally a duet, but it didn’t seem to catch on when it was just him singing. It is a good song though. Surprisingly, they didn’t shy away from this subject. Billy Ray made an ironic joke about how the public was using Miley to get to him, which surprisingly made me laugh. And I laughed quite a bit harder at this exchange.

“Miley! Do you mind {not texting while I’m trying to talk}!?”

“I’m sorry, I just looooove to text!”

“I know, I pay your cell phone bill.”

“Who are you kidding? I pay yours!”

It’s clear that they have a good sense of humor about it and about themselves. Billy Ray also made fun of his Achy-Breaky-dancing days. And comedian Rodney Carrington threw in a bit about that too.

Miley took a bit of a backseat to her father in this case, but acquitted herself well as co-host. I suppose she’s used to dealing with sold-out stadiums.

I do like seeing them together. It’s clear that she adores her father, which is an all too rare thing with teenagers, especially ones who have attained the level of fame she has at such a young age. It’s nice. It’s Country.

THE PRESENTERS AND GUESTS

One of the worst things about modern Country is that the people in charge are desperate to legitimize it to the public, a feat which is both condescending and unrealistic. First, Country is legitimate. It’s been around longer than any other popular form of music (not counting Opera or classical) including rock n’ roll. Second, some people just aren’t going to give it a chance, no matter how many times Tim McGraw makes Nelly’s songs sound good. The worst was when the ACM Awards (I think it was them) moved the show from Nashville to New York, and trotted out a slew of stars who not only had nothing to do with Country Music, but didn’t seem to like it or know who the hell they were on stage with.

This wasn’t nearly that bad.

They did bring out Paula Abdul, but even though she was obviously once again high as giraffe pussy (thank you Joe Rogan), she did have a reason to be there. American Idol has been fertile ground for breeding Country stars. SO far they’ve given us Josh Gracin, Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington (who won’t be around too long– and on a side note, I saw him for the first time last night, DAMN is he ugly! he looks like a woman with a Tom Sellick mustache.), and most notably Carrie Underwood. I’m sure I’m missing a few as well.

Donald Trump was there for some unknown reason. He talked about how awesome he is. That was it.

John Rich brought out his “students” from the show Gone Country, where he tries to turn washed up pop and R &B stars into Country singers. So Bobby Brown, Diana DiGarmo (I think she was on American Idol), Sisco and… some other chick… introduced Kenny Chesney.

There were a few others, but the best one had to be Snoop Dogg, who presented alongside Jason Aldeen. There were boos. A lot of them. And they were loud. Aldeen could barely keep a straight face as he read his lines with Snoop. I think he wanted to boo too. Apparently Snoop was there to promote his new Country-themed song, which was supposedly inspired by the late, great Johnny Cash. Uh huh.

THE PERFORMERS

One of the best things about these shows is the performances. Live Country occasionally yields some kick ass acoustic versions and b-sides. You don’t get that with other forms of music.

My favorite performance of the night was Tim and Faith doing I Need You together. Like the video for the song, they sang the song to each other, facing one another with a dial sided microphone between them. It sounded amazing, but it didn’t feel all that romantic. It was more like they were going through the motions together.

The worst performance was kind of a shock. Brad Paisley played his new single “I’m Still a Guy” which is actually one of my favorite songs on the album. Half way through, Hank Williams Jr joined him on stage for a duet. It must have been a dream come true for Paisley. A legend was singing one of his songs. Unfortunately, Hank must have been informed only seconds before, because he completely sucked. It was very clear that he was reading the lyrics off of a teleprompter as he was singing them. I’ve heard better karaoke.

Miley and Billy Ray performed an adjusted version of “Ready Set Don’t Go”, which came off as a little unpolished to me. It sounded fine, and featured more of Miley than the radio version, but I think it could have used a little work.

Another bright spot was Sugarland’s cover of Life in a Northern Town, which features Little Big Town and Jake Owen. There’s something about that song that lends itself seamlessly to Country. It was probably one of the best acts of the night. Oddly enough, it made me want to see Sugarland in concert. I love their music, but I’ve seen them in person, and was not a fan of them live. They sound fine, but Jennifer Nettles, the lead singer, is a spaz. But she seemed fairly calm at the show. No jumping around or waving her arms like a cheerleader on heroin.

And there were a few standard fare performances by Chesney, Leann Rimes and (a current favorite among kids) Taylor Swift. And the commercials were played into by short performances by artists struggling to find an audience and a few complete unknowns.

THE WINNERS

The CMT Awards are giant golden belt buckles. The voting is left supposedly completely up to the fans, but in a few cases I think it’s clear that isn’t the case. Case in point? For best collaborative video (duet, basically) Tim and Faith got passed over. That’s fine. So who won? Bon Jovi and Leanne Rimes. Someone must have been bribed. Bon Jovi is one of several recovering pop rock acts that is trying to hollow out a career in Country, including John Mellancamp, Jewel, and Sheryl Crow. The fans haven’t bee receptive. It’s more than a little insulting that they assume that because pop fans have rejected them, they can just trick a bunch of country bumpkins into buying their crap. So their record labels have been pairing them with successful Country acts. Sheryl Crow appeared on a song with Brooks and Dunn. Jewel, who has always written her own songs, is getting help from John Rich. Bon Jovi got a more famous boost. First Sugarland worked with them on an unbelievably shitty song called “Who Said You Can’t Go Home?” that would be considered over-played and over-hyped even if it had been a decent song. The video which won though, inexplicably received no airplay. At least not here. Not even on a weekend syndicated countdown show. I’d never even heard of it. Bribe.

Kellie Pickler won three awards, including Breakthrough Artist of the Year, which celebrates up and coming acts. I’m glad. I think Pickler has a shot at a career, much more so than some of the overnight sensations that are currently emerging. I’m a big fan of her song “I Wonder” which talks about her Mother leaving her as a child. She won the last two awards for that.

Last year’s Breakthrough winner, Taylor Swift, was the obvious fan favorite of the night. Girls have been going crazy over her songs since they started playing them on pop stations. I actually own her album myself, but I bought it about a year ago, before she made it big. She actually managed to take home the Artist of the Year award, beating out Carrie Underwood. It was kind of an upset. Cool though.

OVERALL

I think it was a decent show. It had it’s moments of humor. As always I was unhappy with some of the winners. And I really didn’t like the fact that they pimped out the three front runners for 2008 Presidential Election. I could see John McCain trying to get his grandkids tickets to see Hannah Montana, but Hillary and Obama were very out of place. Still, as awards shows go, this was one of the least whorish. And I did get to hear some great music, and that’s never a bad thing.