History of Country Music

You obviously love the hootin’ and a hollerin’ good times that come out of listening to country music, but how much do you know about where it all started?  The square dancing and concerts you attend are pretty far removed from the first musicians who picked up an instrument and started singing away.  So pull on your boots and let’s stroll down memory lane to learn about the history of country music!

The True Beginning

There isn’t one exact time and place when country music was suddenly created, but it really seemed to pluck its way into life during the 1920s.  It started popping up in the Appalachian Mountains, especially in the southern regions, and it slowly started to spread around.

 Birthplace of Country Music

Rural Folk Music

In the early 1900s, the Appalachian Mountains were remote.  Not only did very few people live there, but most Americans didn’t even have the opportunity to visit.  Many of the settlers were European immigrants who were quite poor, and they were already used to living quite a tough life.

One thing they had, though, was their musical traditions.  They kept their music alive, and it started to evolve with the times.

America Needed Something New

This time-period saw a lot of changes and quite a few challenges, so Americans were looking for something that would help simplify their feelings in life and bring them back to their roots.  Country music became just that.  Slowly people started recording and broadcasting this “cowboy” music, and it became quite the hit.

The First Artists

There had been a few cases of people publishing the music from these remote regions, but 1922 saw a fiddler from Texas named Eck Robertson be one of the first to actually record some of his tunes.  Even though he was beat out by another fiddler from Georgia named John Carson, Robertson is often given the title as the first country singer.  He recorded two southern rural songs in 1923, and this event is the most widely recognized birth of country music.

John Carson Country Music

Atlanta Started it All

John Carson was one of many who had moved to Atlanta looking for work in the cotton mills.  It became the unofficial capital of country music because it gave a lot of opportunities to record the music and broadcast it on the radio.  However, it only stayed this way through the 1930s, and then Atlanta grew too fancy and the music moved on to Nashville.

The Evolution by Generation

The Atlanta crowd became known as the first generation of country singers, and the best way to track country music from that point on is by following each generation.

Second Generation

Roy Rodgers Country MusicThis second era took place in the 1930s and 1940s, and it started during the Great Depression.  The rough economy meant less records were selling, but the radio surged in popularity.  This spurred the beginning of some long lasting shows, including the Grand Ole Opry, the famous performance in Nashville that’s still going strong.  Also, western films started getting made in Hollywood, and they featured a lot of “cowboy songs” which helped the sounds travel around the country.

In these early stages, drums were heavily resisted and even hidden off the stage for many years.  A lot of new styles started popping up and gaining in popularity, some of these were honky tonk, bluegrass, and hillbilly boogie.

Third Generation

It was during this period in the 1950s and 1960s that a new bit of tension came up because country and folk had to start distancing themselves.  Even though the musical styles were pretty similar, the followers had different backgrounds and didn’t want to associate with each other.

Johnny Cash Country MusicThis was also the generation that saw the beginning of rockabilly, and the mix of rock-and-roll and hillbilly music became popular with some of the big stars like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.  At the same time, cowboy songs were losing their popularity.  This is the reason you hear record companies advertise country and western music.

Fourth Generation

By the 1970s and 1980s, the musical genre had evolved enough to create a few different major styles.  The sounds were going to much wider audiences with the start of country pop, but the more rebellious groups started kicking away with what was known as outlaw country.  This was even the point where people started to embrace country rock, and the likes of Bob Dylan managed to take off.

Fifth Generation

The fifth generation took place in the 1990s, and this was the era when FM radio was expanded, and country music took the opportunity to sing to more ears.  It helped that rock music was becoming more “alternative,” so many turned to the more melodic tunes of the country singers.  Also, Garth Brooks blazed a trail for a bunch of performers to expand globally, and the rest of the world became exposed to the musical style.

Sixth Generation

This is the generation where we are now, so there’s no need to go into the details.  Get out there and live it!

Family Friendly Dude Ranches in Colorado

A lot of people have resigned themselves to believing that living in a city means they’ll never live the life of a rancher.  But, that’s not true!  No matter where you live, you still have the opportunity to put on your boots and be a cowboy or cowgirl.

The way to do this, of course, is to head to a dude ranch.  So saddle up for the best family friendly options in Colorado.

What is a Dude Ranch?

A dude ranch is also often referred to as a guest ranch, and it’s a real ranch that allows city folk to come stay and experience the lifestyle.  In other words, they’re basically a Wild West hotel that will truly transport you into the country lifestyle.

These ranches really grew out of the fact that the Old West had finally disappeared, and people still wanted to feel that excitement.  Fortunately, this nostalgia hasn’t worn out, and there are still plenty of dude ranches you can visit in Colorado today.

Elk Mountain Ranch

Elk Mountain Dude RanchThis ranch is located near Buena Vista, Colorado, and that means it has an easy, beautiful drive from both Colorado Springs and Denver.  Elk Mountain Ranch limits the number of guests to 30, so you won’t be overrun by other people while you enjoy your week of play time in the San Isabel National Forest.  You’ll get to take part in horse riding, mountain biking, trap shooting, archery, a ropes course, and more!  Rates vary depending on what part of the summer you’d like to go, but they’re between $985 and $2125 for the all-inclusive, weekly price.

C Lazy U Ranch

C Lacy U RanchThis ranch near Granby is a great place to get the feeling of being a mountain cowboy, and it was voted the #1 resort in Colorado by Condé Nast Traveler.  Because of that, C Lazy U Ranch is an ideal choice for getting spoiled by a little luxury while immersing yourself in the Wild West.  The rates vary significantly depending on which lodging you choose, but you most often book per night (instead of weekly).

Rainbow Trout Ranch

Rainbow Trout RanchThis ranch sits down on the border with New Mexico, but it’s worth the trip south.  Rainbow Trout Ranch lets you mix in plenty of fly fishing and white water rafting with all of the horseback riding.  If that’s not enough, you can take an excursion to the Taos Pueblo adobe dwellings to walk through history. Prices range from $2,000 – $2,500 for a week during the summer.

Home Ranch

The Home Dude RanchHome Ranch sits about 45 minutes north of Steamboat Springs, and it’s a nice escape in both the summer and the winter.  They really embrace the snowy activities in the winter, so you can see how tough it was to be a year-round cowboy.  There are multiple different houses on the ranch, and the rates depend on which you’d most like to kick off your boots inside of every night.

Colorado Cattle Company

Colorado Cattle CompanyThe Colorado Cattle Company won the DudeRanch.com Signature Ranch Award in both 2014 and 2015.  Plus, this ranch in New Raymer, CO allows you to go one step beyond the standard dude ranch activities.  They offer a nightly “cowboy school” to perfect western skills like roping, and it’s a great way to have some extra chances to show off.  The rates go from about $2,200 to $2,500 for six nights with the all-inclusive package.

Drowsy Water Ranch

Drowsy Water Dude RanchDrowsy Water Ranch is another one near Granby, and it has managed to make the top 10 list of all-inclusive resorts by Parents.com and Trip Advisor.  It does a great job of making sure that ranchers of all ages will have plenty to do and enjoy together as a family.  The rates vary depending on the dates you’d like to go, but they are pretty similar to the other ranches around Colorado.

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

Sylvan Dude RanchSylvan Dale is in Loveland, so it’s just a short mosey from Denver.  Not only do they offer all the excitement of a guest ranch, but they’re also really starting to focus on sustainable agriculture.  Six-night stays in the summer are about $2,300 for each adult, but there are discounted periods in the spring and fall.

Black Mountain Ranch

Black Mountain Dude RanchBlack Mountain Ranch is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains near McCoy, Colorado.  They have most of the usual dude ranch pastimes, and they even have a few “adults only weeks” so you can live the true cowboy life without upsetting any little ones.  The rates vary depending on which cabin you’d like to call home.

Sundance Trail Guest and Dude Ranch

Sundance Trail Dude RanchThis ranch is near Red Feather Lakes close to the Wyoming border, and it’s the real deal.  They’ve simplified it compared to many other guest ranches, so you won’t have those modern distractions like swimming pools bothering you from the real experience of getting away from the city folk.  Also, they have lower rates than most other ranches, and a six-night stay for an adult only goes above $2,000 during the very peak season.

Majestic Dude Ranch

Majestic Dude RanchThis ranch takes you to another part of the state because it’s about half an hour from Durango.

There are a lot of great trails that they can take you horseback riding on, or you can go for a mixture of eras and have a paintball fight in an Old West setting.  The rate at Majestic Dude Ranch is generally $1,659 per week for an adult.

St Elmo Colorado Ghost Town

Best Colorado Ghost Towns

Country music was born in the rowdiness of the Wild West, and Colorado held a special place right in the center of that.  However, modern life has done away with most of the craziness of that world, and we’re all forced to live civilized lives.

Do you ever wish you could just take a step back in time?  Well, maybe you can.

You don’t have to be a dusty old miner to experience the Colorado of the 1800s.  All you have to do is hop in the car, or on your horse, and take a trip to the past.  The state is full of ghost towns.  Some of them have just a few remains hinting at what used to be, but others still have people living there and keeping the history alive.

Animas Forks

Animas Forks Colorado Ghost Town

This town near Silverton is nearly 350 miles away from Denver, but it’s worth the trek.  Just make sure you have something tough to drive in, though, because the roads are pretty rough.

People starting building their lives here in 1873, and it was home to almost 500 people at its peak.  It had that standard setup of cabins, a general store, a post office, and a saloon.

Animas Forks is in fairly good shape today because it has been under a protected status, including being on the National Register of Historic Places.  It has a whole selection of rugged cabins, so the only thing that’s missing is the job in the mine.

Plus, it has plenty of intense four wheel drive trails around, so plan on doing some off-roading!


Ashcroft Colorado Ghost Town

This ghost town is right next to Aspen, but the two couldn’t be any more different.

Some prospectors brought life to Ashcroft in 1880, and they created a Miners’ Protective Society to lure more people.  It worked, and the town eventually blew up to having about 3,500 residents.  This many people, of course, needed 20 saloons, a few hotels, more than one newspaper, and all the other elements of daily life.

Unfortunately, it only made it until 1885 before people started finding better luck elsewhere.  The town slowly dried up, but it saw a revival in the 20th century for those looking for a remote mountain outpost.  It’s been home to soldiers, Olympians, and many other brave explorers.

Today it’s just a few preserved wooden buildings, but it’s a great bit of culture to balance out any visit to high-priced Aspen.


Dearfield Colorado Ghost Town

If mountain roads aren’t your thing, then head up to this neighbor of Greeley for your ghost town experience.

Dearfield was a settlement mostly inhabited by African-American people, and it got its start as recently as the 1920s.  The life of the town was pretty mellow and short, but it’s a great way to experience what life was like on the plains.


Independence Colorado Ghost Town

This is another ghost town near Aspen, and it was one of many places that attracted people venturing out from Leadville.

Gold was first discovered on the 4th of July, and it started out with a lot of promise as a town.  It started to grow rapidly, and they even built a sawmill to help.  However, a series of setbacks caused many to reconsider moving there, and it was hard to attract new residents because of the high altitude and harsh weather.

The town itself slowly died out, but the remaining cabins are still nestled in a very picturesque spot.

St. Elmo

St Elmo Colorado Ghost Town

St. Elmo is nestled in between the Collegiate Peaks near Buena Vista, and the area is so a beautiful that it would be worth a visit even without this little treasure.

It began its life in 1880, and was home to 2,000 people back in the day.  It remained a popular mining town until the beginning of the 1920s, but then people decided to pack up and move on to greener pastures.

Many call this the most well-preserved ghost town in Colorado (so much that there’s even debate about whether or not it is a ghost town), and it still feels quite alive.  The only thing that makes a walk down the main street feel like the 21st century is the cars and people with cameras.

If you feel like some adrenaline, this is a great starting point to rent ATVs or snowmobiles and explore the surrounding areas.

Tin Cup

Tin Cup Colorado Ghost Town

This ghost town near Gunnison has seen a rebirth in modern times with vacation houses, and a few people even live here year round.

Tin Cup started its life as Virginia City in 1879, but it was eventually confused with a similar town in Nevada.  Since the original gold was panned into a tin cup, it wasn’t too difficult to think of a new name.  

The original townsfolk seemed to split their time between mining and having rowdy gunfights, so you can still feel the thrill of the Wild West in the air.

Some entrepreneurs have started renting out their houses here, so you could seize the opportunity to spend some time living like a 19th-century miner.

Find Your Own Ghosts

All of these ghost towns make great trips throughout the state, but you shouldn’t stop there.  The mountains are littered with remains of old mines and towns, and sometimes the best discoveries are those that you mosey up to unexpectedly.

The Baddest Country Outlaws

Country music has always been connected with cowboys roaming the vast expanses of the Wild West. But it comes as no surprise that plenty of these cowboys were outlaws.

You don’t have to support robbing trains, having shootouts at high noon, or causing a brawl over a hand of cards, but you can still admit that these gunslingers are a fascinating bunch.  Here are some of the most interesting bandits from back in the day.

Billy the Kid (1859 – 1881)

Billy the Kid OutlawUsually a nickname like “the Kid” wouldn’t give someone such a rough reputation, but Billy managed to pull it off.  Born as Henry McCarty, he alternated between fighting in the Lincoln County War in New Mexico, and simply wreaking havoc around the region.  His life was surrounded by rumors, and there have been many exaggerated tales about how many people he killed and when he actually died.

Henry Newton Brown (1857 – 1884)

Harry Newton Brown OutlawNext up is one of Billy’s buddies.  After roaming around with the Kid, Brown eventually retired from a life of crime to become a deputy sheriff.  However, strapping on a badge doesn’t automatically change a man, and he gained a reputation for picking fights with drunks.

It wasn’t long before people turned on him, but it’s hard to tell if the townsfolk didn’t like their lawmen stirring up trouble, or if they thought it wasn’t sporting to pick on those who’d had a few too many whiskeys.  Most likely it had something to do with a bank robbery he was involved in, and his coffin was built after a mob lynched him.

Sam Bass (1851 – 1878)

Sam Bass OutlawThis is another outlaw who tried to start life as a law-abiding citizen, but eventually learned that fate had other things in store for him.  Things mostly went wrong when he and his partner stole the herd of longhorns they were transporting, but it helped give him some money to use at the card tables.  Unfortunately, the rush of gambling eventually led to bigger and more elaborate stagecoach and train robberies.  He even managed to pull of the largest robbery of the Union Pacific Railroad, before catching a bullet.

Felipe Espinosa (1836 – 1863)

This outlaw killed so many people that he’s often thought of as America’s first serial killer.  His life took a bad turn after the Mexican-American War, and he and his brother managed to kill 32 people to try and settle the score.  Eventually a tracker named Tom Tobin hunted them down, but shooting them dead wasn’t enough, and the outlaw’s heads were even cut off.

Belle Starr (1848 – 1889)

Belle StarrIt’s not often that a rich girl abandons her comfortable city life to become an outlaw, but Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr was far from ordinary.  The Civil War disrupted her life, and her talent with a gun helped her get in with some big outlaws of the time.  She eventually became known as the Bandit Queen.

Hoodoo Brown (1856 – ?)

Hoodoo was originally named Hyman G. Neil but this obviously had to change before starting a life of crime.  He didn’t like the lawless state of Las Vegas, New Mexico, so he imported some gunslingers and started the Dodge City Gang to protect the town.  However, these trigger-happy men eventually started defining their own laws, and they simply turned into the biggest band of outlaws around.  There are various versions of how he met his end, so he seems to have been another to ride off into the sunset.

Doc Holiday (1851 – 1887)

Doc HolidayHenry “Doc” Holiday spent more time enforcing the law than he did breaking it, but he had enough questionable events throughout his life to land on this list.  Before he was a gunslinger, he was a dentist in Atlanta, Georgia.  Unfortunately, he was eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis, and he was advised to head west to for the dry climate.  Gambling became a habit, and the Wild West did the rest.

Jim Miller (1866 – 1909)

Jim MillerMost outlaws loved having unhealthy habits, but this one didn’t smoke or drink. He even attended church regularly enough to get the nickname Deacon Jim, however it seems the priest never directly asked if he was a professional assassin.  His hands were fast enough to win about a dozen gunfights, but they weren’t enough to stop an angry mob upset about his assassination of a U.S. Marshall.

Bonnie and Clyde (1910, 1909 – 1934)

Bonnie and ClydeEveryone loves a good love story, but Romeo and Juliet have to step aside for Bonnie and Clyde.  These two were the most recent, and they were roaming around causing trouble during the Great Depression.  Much of their reputation was blown up by the media, but they did spend a fair amount of time robbing banks and gas stations.  Unfortunately, they shot a few too many policemen and civilians to get away with it.

Butch Cassidy (1866 – 1908) and The Sundance Kid (1867 – 1908)

Butch and Sundance OutlawsBefore Paul Newman and Robert Redford snagged these roles, these were real guys by the names of Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh.  Their home base was the Hole-in-the-Wall Ranch in Wyoming, and they held the American record for the longest streak of bank and train robberies.  They even made their escape to Argentina and Bolivia before the law finally caught up with them.

Jesse James (1847 – 1882)

Jesse James OutlawThis member of the James-Younger Gang was a big part of their successful string of train, stagecoach, and of course, bank robberies.  He’s often looked at as a sort of Robin Hood of the Old West, but there isn’t much proof to that whole concept.  Unfortunately, his success led to a widespread reputation, and he was shot in the back of the head by one of his friends who wanted to collect the reward.

Grammy Country Award Winners

58th Grammy Awards

Best Country Duo/Group Performance: “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town
Best Country Song: “Girl Crush,” Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose (songwriters)

Best Country Album: Traveller, Chris Stapleton
Best Country Solo Performance: “Traveller,” Chris Stapleton (track fromTraveller)

Best Americana Album: Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell

Best American Roots Song: “24 Frames,” Jason Isbell (songwriter)

Best Bluegrass Album: The Muscle Shoals Recordings, the SteelDrivers

Best American Roots Performance, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” Mavis Staples

Best Blues Album: Born to Play Guitar, Buddy Guy

Best Folk Album: Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media: Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me(various artists)

Best Recording Package: Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys, Asleep at the Wheel (musical artists), Sarah Dodds, Shauna Dodds and Dick Reeves (art directors)

Best Historical Album: The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, Bob Dylan and The Band (artists)

Best Roots Gospel Album: Still Rockin’ My Soul, the Fairfield Four

Beartooth Scenic Highway

Best Scenic Drives in the USA

One of the greatest parts about living in the United States is having the chance to hit the ol’ dusty trail among the most beautiful scenery the world has to offer.  No matter where you call home, you don’t have to travel too far before you find your gateway to the great outdoors.  So, hop in the car, pop on some tunes, and check out the top 10 scenic country drives in the USA.

Red River Gorge Scenic Byway – Kentucky

Red River Gorge Scenic Drive

This road winds along for 46 miles through the heart of Kentucky.  It’s a quick little drive, but it has some fascinating stone archways and other natural rock formations, and it even has a 900-foot-long tunnel that was originally built for railroads.  The whole area is a great spot to do some backpacking or canoeing.


Talimena National Scenic Byway – Oklahoma

Talimena Scenic Drive

This road travels for 54 miles through the southeastern part of Oklahoma.  It’s beautiful in all four seasons, but it’s definitely the most beautiful in the fall.  The landscape is made up of endless rolling hills, and they’re all densely forested.  It was actually the vibrant colors bursting out of the autumn leaves that inspired the creation of this drive in the first place.


Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia and North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway Scenic Drive

This road through the Appalachians is 469 miles of pure beauty.  It starts next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and then it heads all the way up to Shenandoah National Park.  As you travel through the forested mountains, you’ll take in old-fashioned farms, gorgeous meadows, and views spectacular enough to make it clear why so much inspiring music has come out of the region.


Big Bend National Park – Texas

Big Bend Park Scenic Drive

Big Bend National Park brings you into the Texas of your dreams, but the landscape is far from a standard desert scene.  There is a diverse selection of incredible rock formations, and the park has more than 100 miles of paved roads with multiple routes to let you soak in the amazing geologic wonders.  If you’re not careful, you’ll start to feel like a settler of the old west, and you might just lay claim to some land to set up your homestead.


Big Sky Back Country Byway – Montana

Big Sky Back Country Scenic Byway

If you really want to get away from it all, head up to Big Sky Back Country Byway in Montana.  This road takes you 105 miles between the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, and it has plenty of opportunities for fishing and big-game hunting to add some spice to your trip.  You’ll realize that the sky really does feel bigger in Montana.


Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway – South Dakota

Badlands Scenic Loop

Badlands National Park is home to some of the most scenic landscapes that you’ll ever come across. This drive only goes 31 miles, but it has no shortage of amazing rock formations spread along the path.  Make sure you stop off at every scenic overlook, and plan for some extra time to go hiking through what feels like an alien landscape.


Beartooth Scenic Highway – Wyoming

Beartooth Scenic Highway

This road started its life back in 1931, and it’s no surprise that it’s often said to be one of the most beautiful roads in America.  It’s the highest paved primary road in Wyoming, and it winds through multiple national forests, passes glaciers, and offers countless other gorgeous views.  It’s closed to cars during the snowy winter months, but you can still explore it on a snowmobile!


Great River Road – Ten Different States

Great River Road Scenic Drive

The mighty Mississippi is one of the most influential waterways in American history, and this epic road allows drivers to realize the immense scale of the river.  The road stretches for more than 2,000 miles, and it deserves at least a week to see it properly.  If you don’t have time for it all, it’s worth taking the condensed National Scenic Byway route that only passes through about half of the states.


Highway 12 Scenic Byway – Utah

Highway 12 Scenic Road

It’s not a mistake that Utah is a destination for outdoor lovers from around the world, and this road takes drivers through the heart of it.  It starts and ends at two different National Parks, and it passes through an absurd number of formations, parks, and other areas worth exploring.  There’s really just too much to say about this one, so the only thing to do is get out there and see for yourself.


Peak to Peak Scenic Byway – Colorado

Peak to Peak Scenic Highway

This one may top the list because of a slight bias towards the beauty of Colorado, but can you blame us? This drive outside of Estes Park is Colorado’s oldest scenic byway, and it was established in 1918.  It passes through Aspen groves and the remnants of old mines, and you can even stop to try your luck with a bit of gold panning in one of the creeks.  You can stretch out the roughly 3-hour trip by sidetracking into one of the many mining ghost towns, or you can do a little hiking on one of the amazing peaks that you’ll feel dwarfed by.  No matter what, you’re going to feel a little closer to Heaven in the Rocky Mountain air.


Academy Country Music Awards

2016 ACM Awards Nominees

Academy Country Music Awards

Bentley and Luke Bryan will host the awards from the MGM Grand Garden Area in Las Vegas; Sunday April 3rd at 8pm ET on CBS. (Broadcast will be delayed for the West Cost)

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Garth Brooks
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church
  • Miranda Lambert

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Eric Church
  • Brett Eldredge
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Dierks Bentley

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Jana Kramer
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood

New Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Brett Eldredge
  • Chris Janson
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chase Rice
  • Chris Stapleton

New Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Cam
  • Mickey Guyton
  • RaeLynn

Album of the Year

  • “I’m Comin’ Over” – Chris Young
  • “Montevallo” – Sam Hunt
  • “Mr. Misunderstood” – Eric Church
  • “Tangled Up” – Thomas Rhett
  • “Traveller” – Chris Stapleton

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Eli Young Band
  • Little Big Town
  • Old Dominion
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brothers Osbourne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Joey + Rory
  • Maddie & Tae

New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year

  • A Thousand Horses
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Maddie & Tae
  • Old Dominion
  • Parmalee

Single Record of the Year

  • “Burning House” – Cam
  • “Buy Me a Boat” – Chris Janson
  • “Die A Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett
  • “Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
  • “I’m Comin’ Over” – Chris Young
  • “Take Your Time” – Sam Hunt

Video of the Year

  • “Biscuits” – Kacey Musgraves
  • “Burning House” – Cam
  • “Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
  • “Mr. Misunderstood” – Eric Church
  • “Riser” – Dierks Bentley

Vocal Event of the Year

  • “Hangover Tonight” – Gary Allan Featuring Chris Stapleton
  • “Home Alone Tonight” – Luke Bryan Featuring Karen Fairchild
  • “Raise ‘Em Up” – Keith Urban Featuring Eric Church
  • “Smokin’ And Drinkin’” – Miranda Lambert Featuring Little Big Town
  • “Wild Child” – Kenny Chesney With Grace Potter

Rising Country Star 2016

Grizzly Rose Rising Star Award
Over the last month, we conducted a poll to discover who is the best rising country star in 2016? Users were allowed to submit their own choices for their favorite artist and we received over 20,000 votes on the poll. Jason Sain & the Foolhearted received 5,058 votes which amounted to 23.36% of the total votes, making him the winner of our award. We presented this award to Jason and he was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his life as a rising country star.

Congrats on winning the fan’s choice rising country star award for 2106!

“The band and I are both tickled and honored.  We forget sometimes, being based in Branson, MO allows us to play for people all over the country without spending 200 days a year on the road.  It is nice to know that folks continue to come home from vacation and share their experience and our music with their friends.  Thank you for this award, and I am happy to do my best to answer your questions!”

At what moment in your life did you realize you had to pursue country music?

“I realized I had to pursue country music shortly after my second divorce. I spent 10 years in a rock band called So Far Gone. This was the late 90’s early 2000’s and we toured with most of the big acts of the day including, Incubus, Papa Roach, and Buckcherry. After we broke up, I began to realize that no matter how much I loved rock-n-roll, I wasn’t from New York or LA, no matter how much I loved the blues, I hadn’t grown up in the Mississippi Delta, and though I might dig reggae, I’m certainly not Jamaican. My long time producer/mentor Lou Whitney gave me some advice, and said ‘Sometimes you just gotta breathe the air you’re born too.’

I grew up in the Texas Panhandle near the Oklahoma border where guys like Waylon Jennings, Don Williams, and Roger Miller were local artists. Even in my rock days, if someone would throw me an acoustic guitar to start playing, I could always get the room drunk and sentimental when I started playing country. I began to realize that my upbringing had given me a unique connection to the music. My old man has the best taste in country music in the world, and I had grown up learning to play music with him and his brothers and cousins at family gatherings.

Down and out after that second divorce, I started to take my songwriting seriously, and one of the guitarists from So Far Gone and I decided to put together The Foolhearted. He traded in his stack for a mandolin, and we picked up some local Branson hot shots to play dobro, bass, banjo, and fiddle. The mandolin player, Travis ‘Heavy T’ Gates, and I have now been playing together for over 20 years.”

Where is your favorite place you have ever played?

Jason Sain & Foolhearted

“Our favorite place is The Outback Pub in Branson, MO. It isn’t a huge venue, but it was the first one where we really built a following. Branson has been either a homebase , or a hometown for most of us, so every time we go back there now, it is kinda like Rock-N-Roll High School Reunion. I really used to love Foxtown City Limits near Frontenac, Kansas before they closed their doors, as well. It was half indoors, and half outdoors. Summer shows there were a ton of fun.”

Who are your main inspirations?

“My main inspirations would be Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, and the Stanley Brothers. I’m a sucker for a sad country song, and those guys did it better than anyone. Bob Wills was from Turkey, Texas, about 50 miles from where I grew up. I really love Western Swing, as well! That combination of country music and jazz is so much fun, and challenging to play correctly. I guess, I’m one of those Lone Star Beer and Bob Wills Music kind of guys…”

If you had to chose someone other than yourself to be this year’s emerging country star, who would it be?

“If I had to choose someone other than ourselves to be this year’s emerging country star, it would have to be either Sturgill Simpson, or Cody Jinks. Both of those guys are great! It thrills me that there are some really great up and coming traditional country guys out there making a go of it. I also love, Whitey Morgan and Tommy Ash, as well.”

What does country music mean to you?

“It may be cliche’, but to me country music is ‘Three Chords and the Truth.’ There will always be a need for songs about real life, and the often overlooked majority working class in this country. In recent years, we have a seen what I like to call ‘The Decline of Country and Western Civilization.’ However, there is beginning to be a resurgence of authentic country music played by the guys who still write their own songs in the underground. Hopefully, this trend will continue, and Nashville will take notice. Several of my fellow musician buddies like to dis Pop Country, but I always point out that Pop is short for popular. They make it because, they believe they can sell it. It is the music BUSINESS after all. I am the first one to urge fans of traditional country to go out and actually purchase the albums of any new up and coming traditional artists. That is the only way to force the pendulum to swing back.”

For people interested in your music, what one song do you think defines your band the best?

Jason Sain Concert
“The song off our current album, ‘Dames, Trains, and Texas Size Tales’, I would most like to be remembered for is ‘Rust On the Wire’. I wrote it after spending a few weeks on my family’s farm in Texas. I saw these rusty, 50+ year old barbed wire fences, and wondered about the stories those fences would tell. We shot a big part of that video on our farm in Collingsworth County. I am very pleased with how it turned out. The song, ‘Down and Out In Dallas’ defines us as a group pretty well. I wrote that one after bailing Heavy T out of jail in Oklahoma one night on the way to Dallas.”

Country music has many genres, what genre would you classify your music as?

I have always thought our contribution to country music has been based on where we were from. I grew up in Texas, but the rest of the guys grew up in the Ozark Mountains. Our sound has kind of developed into a West Texas take on Bluegrass, or Ozarks music. Occasionally, we get a drummer buddy to sit in, and break out the Telecasters for a night of all out Bakersfield worship, but overall we are a cross between old-time and honky-tonk.

Do you have plans for any new music, albums or anything you are currently working on?

“Currently, I am finishing up a bluegrass gospel album with my family that I have always dreamed of doing. We do plan to finally release The Foolhearted’s follow-up to Dames, Train, and Texas Size Tales this year, tentatively titled, Blue Collar Blues. It will feature our most popular song, ‘She Deleted Me From Facebook’, which has yet to have an official release. We finished that album up with my long time producer, Lou Whitney, shortly before he passed away.”

If you weren’t playing country music what would you be doing?

Jason Sain and the Foolhearted Press Photo
“If I wasn’t playing country music, I would most likely be teaching in the Roots Music Department at The Conservatory of the Ozarks, in Springfield, MO. They have been a great support to us, and I have loved teaching songwriting workshops there, on occasion. I plan on finishing a degree in American Folk Music, and teaching there, if I ever decide to take a step away from performing.”

What makes your band different or what new elements do you bring to country music that sets you apart?

“The thing that sets us apart from other country artists is our backgrounds. We really are a great mix of our styles and influences. Of course, I grew up in Texas, and have been greatly influenced by Western Swing and Honky Tonk. Heavy, our bassist Seth Darby, and banjo man Todd Plympton all grew up in the Ozarks, and are well versed in traditional Ozark’s bluegrass. Our fiddler, Louis Darby grew up in Louisiana, and won the state championship in Cajun style fiddling a number of years. Kris Snow, on dobro, grew up in California, and was around all of the great bluegrass coming out of there as a kid. The background Heavy T and I have in big budget rock shows has given our live show an energy you don’t get with most artists in traditional music. We still live by the punk rock ethos, ‘Loud, Fast, Rules!’ Not to mention, thanks to Branson, we love lights, fog, and pyrotechnics… and Nudie suits when the venues are appropriate.”

What other thoughts, advice or insight would you like to tell fans out there?

Jason Sain Album Cover
“I would like to encourage fans to dig into the underground country scene. The best artists, and hopefully the stars of tomorrow, are guys you haven’t even heard of yet. Underground country is not unlike the underground alternative music of the early 90s, in that it is ripe with artists who are getting back to the roots of the music. There will always be a need for simple songs that a kid can learn to play in his bedroom.

I get a feeling the underground is ready to explode on the scene, as I see one internet feed after another blasting the over-produced, over-formulaic music being pushed on us by Nashville the past few years. If you are as sick of the current commercial formula as the rest of the silent working class majority is, then I hope you will search these underground artists out, and actually buy their music. They are out there struggling and working their asses off for their art, in hopes of making a human connection. The humanities, such as art and music, exist so we might have a human experience, and learn something about ourselves in the process. The cream will always rise to the top, but it is the fans that will get them there.

They will continue to create, because that is what artists do… we create. If you appreciate our work, please support it. Ol’ Hank used to say ‘Me and the boys have eaten a lot of beans and biscuits of this number…’ before playing ‘Cold Cold Heart’, which, during his lifetime, was his most successful song. Artists still need that support. We all know how easy it is to get music for free these days, but I encourage you all to help support the artists you love, and help them become the cream that rises.”

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us! Where can we find your music?

Our debut album, ‘Dames, Trains, and Texas Size Tales’ is available on iTunes, the Google Play Store, CD Baby, Amazon, and many more. You can see videos and live clips on YouTube, and listen to the album on Spotify, and several other sites.  We would also love to come out to Colorado and play the Grizzly Rose sometime. Several of our friends have, and they only have great things to say about your venue. Thank you again for this award! We are very thrilled, and a little surprised to have won.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thefoolhearted

Reverbnation Page: https://www.reverbnation.com/jasonsainthefoolhearted

Who is the Best Rising Country Artist 2016

Best Rising Country Artist

Vote on who you think is, or will be, the best up and coming country artist!

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
Start date 16-11-2015 14:35:53
End date 07-12-2015 12:00:00
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Best Up-and-Coming Country Artist

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The History of the Honky Tonk

Honky Tonk HistoryThe definition of a Honky Tonk is ‘the name given to a type of bar that provides country music for entertainment to its patrons.’ This name has also been applied to a variety of music genre’s centering around a country theme. Whether it’s referring to a local country bar or a new favorite track, the term is still widely used today, but the question is, where did this quirky term originate from?

What really was a Honky Tonk?

When the word first came about, a Honky Tonk was considered to be a place that served alcohol to working class folk. They also typically featured some element of live music such as a piano player or a live band. Dancing was very common at these establishments as the night went on, and very often they were also well known for being centers of prostitution.

How did the word ‘Honky Tonk’ come to fruition?

The sad truth about the word ‘Honky Tonk’ is that no one can really agree how it came about. The earliest evidence of the word being used was by a newspaper in Fort Worth, Texas in 1889. The word was capitalized and followed by the word ‘theater’ in the article, which was simply a petition to re-open the establishment. This suggests that perhaps it was just the name of the establishment rather than the type. In another newspaper article in 1894, this time in Oklahoma, the word honk-a-tonk was used in an article, but it had nothing to do with a bar or theater of any kind. Historians believe the word might have been meant to describe cattle drive trails where cowboys would bring their livestock to market. These were very common around the border of Texas and Oklahoma during that time period. As cowboys were common in these types of establishments, this localized slang may have developed into the name for their local drinking holes over time. One final other theory about the terms origination comes from the name of an American piano manufacturer. ‘William Tonk & Bros’ started making pianos in the late 1880’s many of which were likely being played in these Honky Tonk establishments. As music was a commonality for these types of bars, it’s very plausible that ‘Honky Tonk’ developed from the brand name of these pianos.

Where were the first Honky Tonks?

Honky Tonk Bar HistoryThere is much dispute on where exactly the first Honky Tonks originated from. That being said most people would agree that they originated somewhere around Texas and its neighboring states. As mentioned above, Texas and Oklahoma have the oldest newspaper record of the word being used. Basically, where there were cowboys, there seemed to be evidence of Honky Tonks. Writers of the late 1800s such as Wyatt Earp, mentioned visiting Honky Tonks in a variety of cowtowns from Kansas to Montana. In accounts of the Spanish-American War in the early 1900’s Honky Tonks were even mentioned as far west as New Mexico.

What’s a Honky Tonk today?

Today Honky Tonks are losely synonymous with a country western bar that offers live music. They are no longer limited to the ‘wild wild west’ region of the United States and can be found in major cities and small towns from California to North Carolina. While this type of quirky named establishment may have changed over the years and we still don’t really know exactly where it came from, we are proud to be an authentic Honky Tonk for the city of Denver!