About twelve years ago I found a home in country music. It seemed like a friendly place to be. At the age of ten I listened to Dolly Parton and told my mom Dolly sounded like a tweety bird. My friends understand these days. It appears that the rest of the country is catching up.
Between 1990 and '91, country radio increased its listeners by over six million people. At this time, adult contemporary (AC) and contemporary hit radio (CHR)/ rock both dropped drastically in numbers. AC lost over eight million listeners and CHR/rock over six million. As a matter of fact, beginning in the summer of '92, the country radio station was shining at No. 1 in 51 of the top 100 radio markets. Country radio has become major league.
Garth Brooks dominated the album pop charts in '91, selling more records than any pop or rock act. He made a difference and won over a whole new generation of fans. He's headed for 40 million in sales right now.
Was anyone lucky enough to get tickets to Nashville's Fan Fair? If this is going to be your first Fan Fair, you will love it. Here's a few hints on survival for this unforgettable week of pure country:
Put away the dress clothes and the high-heeled shoes; sexy can be left at home. This is not the time to break in a new pair of sneakers, either. Nashville in June is hot and muggy. Make sure you take lots of shorts and T-shirts. No purses, because inside where you will be there's no room. You would have to hold your purse over your head and that wouldn't last for eight or ten hours. Take plenty of sun screen and your shades. The lines are two to three hours long — out in the sun — when things are on schedule. A lot of people go back to their motels to change after lunch, because by this time it's dinner time. Oh yeah, don't forget the deodorant. You want to be fresh when you finally meet that favorite entertainer. The nights are cool, so bring a Windbreaker. Fighting for those seats in the grandstands is always fun, too. The buddy system is the way to do it. This will give you someone to talk to and you can take turns waiting in different lines for autographs and those far-away seats in the grandstands.
Strategy is important this week. As soon as you get there, get a program. Read it very carefully; there's no way you can see and do it all. Go through and mark the things that interest you the most. Plan your time wisely. It's called pick-and-choose. Don't forget to bring plenty of film. You will be asking yourself questions all week long, so just get used to it. Take a ticket; take a seat. Do I want to stand in line to see Garth Brooks or go to the Warner Bros. show? Fan Fair is like four or five months of nothing but country music crammed into one week.
Inside where the artists' booths are, they will be announcing who will be in their booth at what time to sign autographs. This means you have to decide what you want to do the most. It's time to get in one of those lines. The daily newspaper will be a big help, too. There are things going on all over town this week and the schedule will be in the paper.
You get up at 6:00 a.m. to make it to your fan club breakfast and the last show is over at about 12 midnight. You have to squeeze in some time for the Grand Ole Opry and don't forget the Hall of Fame. Music Row is your ticket for that favorite T-shirt. The museums are full of new things to learn about the history of country music. While you are at Fan Fair, don't forget to check out the new artists; next year they might be big stars and you will already have a picture and an autograph.
You need to start standing in line for that free barbecue lunch prepared by a real Chuck Wagon Gang. It will probably be a good idea to get in line at about 9 a.m. As you are leaving this once-in-a-lifetime experience, make your reservations for next year. And, by the way, Fan Fair is sold out for 1993. The main thing is to RELAX and enjoy yourself.
The Hard Livin Band opened up for Chris LeDoux on March 30 at Coyote's. and it was a real crowd-pleaser. The group got the gig when LeDoux' s opening band canceled out a day before. What a break for them! Their drummer, Leo McMannis, was in Florida at the time and they had to find a replacement. This made the guys a little nervous; but it all worked out for them. Hard Livin is a five-piece Top 40 country / southern rock band. They recently placed third in WAMZ Radio' s St. Jude' s benefit band contest at Jim Porter's. A local group, this band has been together since 1988 and they are serious about a career in music.
Steve Decker, lead and rhythm guitar player, says:
"Hard Livin takes their job seriously. We want the people to know when we come to a show we are not a bunch of drunks. We are there to do a job and entertain you. We have fun while we are working at something we all love to do." He also says that Hard Livin's goal is to open for one of the WAMZ free concerts at the Louisville Motor Speedway. The LeDoux gig brought them three more bookings at Coyote's.
Besides Decker, the other band members are Al Buechele, lead singer, lead guitar and drums; Darrell Buechele, bass guitar; and sound/light man Bruce Buechele. These guys are worth going out to see. For booking information, call 502-241-9719.
The winner of the recent WAMZ band was Brooks Tucker and New Aces, from Leitchfield. The Shaford Brothers came in second. Congratulations to all of you.
May 13 —Steve Wariner at Coyote's.
May 18 — Dwight Yoakam and Suzy Bogguss at Louisville Gardens.
May 28 — Billy Ray Cyrus and The Kentucky HeadHunters at Freedom Hall.