Well, well, well . . . 1992 is off to a slow, groaning start, it seems. The national economy is on a teeter-totter; unemployment's on the rise; homelessness is on the rise. President George Bush is finally having to answer for his heroic bull and neglect of domestic issues.
But here in good old Music City things are a-buzzin'. Millions and millions of units of product being sold around the country; record-breaking concert attendance; more media coverage than you can shake a stick at; and if I see one more Garth Brooks billboard, I think I'll croak. Let me put it this way folks -- the best thing I see coming out of all this hoopla is the attention that country music or anything resembling country music is receiving now. If it's not the most popular music in the United States right now, it is certainly the fastest rising form of music in popular terms in a long, long time.
It's also the most luxurious time the major labels have enjoyed in a while. This recent boom has allowed them to stretch out, take a few chances, hopefully. For instance, Elektra/Asylum is preparing to open a new progressive country office here. Capitol's Jimmy Bowen is starting up a more progressive arm of that label, according to sources I've spoken to. BMG, the new name for the RCA Records label (now German-owned) has also added a new country label, BNA, named after Nashville's airport, Berry Field Nashville. Record mogul Irving Azoff has opened another new label called Giant, with drummer-producer James Stroud at the helm. And Warner Brothers Records, actually their Reprise label, is in the process of trying to break progressive acts such as Kevin Welch and Jim Lauderdale. Yes, you could safely say the big boys smell money. You could also safely say the horizon looks very healthy for country music as long as they keep their quality control up there where it should have been a long time ago.
In reference to the last couple of years of hatmania, etc., I'd like to quote my friend Dan Behrman of Montreal, who recently became Jay Bolotin's manager. I visited Montreal back in September and was discussing the music scene with Dan. When the subject of country came up, he replied, How many miles of that would you like? And I had to admit it was true. I mean, how many look-alike, sound-alikes do we need? Now some would say you could say the same thing about reggae or rap music or heavy metal, etc., but I believe the key here is quality, substance and so on. With all this in mind and considering the state of disrepair our nation is in right now, let's just hope that the music industry, whatever genre, will bring some bright moments to a recovering America in 1992.
Now on to more pleasant subjects. Keep your ears peeled for a debut single from Uncle Pecos, the Louisville-based country rockers who've been making quite a name for themselves lately. They came down to Nashville to Bradley's Barn to record Ozark Mountain Home and Love the Hurt Away, both originals. And judging from the mixes I heard, I'd say Uncle Pecos will be making a name for themselves far beyond the Louisville region very soon. Good luck, guys!
As for yours truly, I've been writing up a storm as well as resuming another love of mine: drawing and painting, which I pursued quite heavily before entering the music biz. I've recently painted a commissioned watercolor of the nightclub Douglas Corner here in Nashville. The club is having a limited-addition run of 500 lithos done and donating 20% of the sales of the prints to the St. Patrick Shelter for the Homeless. So call Douglas Corner at (615) 298-1688 and get on the list for a print. The sooner you order, the lower the number in the edition you'll receive. If you get the answering machine, leave a message for Mervin. The prints are $25 each. Cheap!
I'm also preparing for and looking forward to my semi-annual trek up to The Rudyard Kipling for a show on Saturday, February 15. Hopefully bassist and vocalist Roger McVay will be joining me again.
So, until then, as my friend Red Lane says, be clever.
(Alan Rhody is a Louisville native who has lived in Nashville, Tenn., for fourteen years. He is the writer of the hits I'll Be True to You (Oak Ridge Boys); Trainwreck of Emotion (Lorrie Morgan); Wild-Eyed Dream (Ricky Van Shelton); and Christmas to Christmas (Lee Greenwood). He is also a co-founder of Louisville Homefront Performances.)