-{Other than the Nashville stars, I can’t really get into the artists within the movement because a lot of them are Colosseans or sing songs about Delosa specifically. I thought about nixing the post entirely, but I suspect the rise and fall of a local musical revolution is something that has happened more times than can be counted, so I’m not sure the specifics are relevant. In any case, to give you a feel for the music, I’ve temporarily included a selection of songs at the end of the post. If you would like to know more about the music, shoot me an email with my 8-letter account name @gmail.}-

It’s always hard for me to answer what kind of music I’m in to. My tastes are mildly eclectic since sound doesn’t matter to me nearly as much as lyrics do. But a big stumbling point is that a lot of my favorite music hails from a subgenre that most people have never heard of. I can almost guarantee you that none of you have heard of at least 5 of my favorite ten artists. And if I try to explain that one of my favorite genres is Independent Country or Alternative Country, a lot of people don’t know what I’m talking about or get the wrong idea. They’ll tell me jokes about what you get if you play a country song backwards. If I tell them I’m in to “Gulf Country Rock”, of course, they have no idea what I’m talking about. Particularly out here, but even in Colosse, where the movement was once strong, I’ll get blank stares. Unfortunately, the movement that was once building steam so powerfully faded away.

I actually stumbled onto the Gulf Country Rock scene by accident. I’d downloaded a single song from an artist named Troy Thomason from a free MP3 site that has since folded. Kyle, Clint, and I went to a local music show and happened to see a poster for the guy. We went to his show and he introduced me to the style. Then Thomason announced that he was leaving Delosa and relocating to Nashville and a whole was filled. So I started following some links on Thomason’s site to other artists. I had an overnight job at the time that consisted of starting a number of processes at 10pm and then doing nothing until 3am. So one night I decided to walk over to the nearby bar where a musician mentioned on Thomason’s site was doing an act. I enjoyed it immensely and so I started going to a lot of shows (though rarely on my employer’s time).

In a world where musical tastes are expected to say something about you, there is something powerful to the psyche about following a kind of music nobody else listens to. You feel like you’re in on the ground floor and if they ever become big, you can say “I knew of them first!” And of course it feeds that little part of us that likes to think that we cut against the grain.

In any case, before long I was going to anywhere between one and four shows a week. Most of my disposable income was spent at The Stockpile, a local bar that showcased a lot of Gulf Country Rock music. The GCR revolution was, like a lot of artistic genres, about more than just the music. One of the focal points of the whole thing was a strong disdain for the music coming out of Nashville at the time. GCR musicians were the true successors to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson and Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney were just poseurs. McGraw and Chesney were by far the most frequent targets. First it was McGraw because he was such a big singer, but then he went and bought to rights to a GCR song and made it a Billboard hit and so Chesney was anointed the new symbol of everything that was wrong with country music.

Secretly, I always liked Chesney. It was a sign of the times and the crowd that I found myself in that I had to deny my appreciation for his music so thoroughly that I faked it until I felt it. So synonymous was Chesney with artistic fraud that even while I liked his songs, I couldn’t help but hate him. That I had his Greatest Hits CD became one of my most closely guarded secrets. More closely guarded than even the Air Supply CD I have stashed away. As the movement grew, it really became an us-vs-them affair. Nashville was the enemy.

I had indeed gotten on the ground floor of a growing movement. One of the struggling local radio stations, WREB Wrebel FM, in an act of desperation actually played nothing but GCR from 5-10pm and suddenly we were hearing loads of our favorite artists on the radio. It garnered a lot of interest. They were singing the national anthem at Colosse Hurricane baseball games and placing pretty high at the local Livestock Show and Rodeo (one of the biggest in the country).

It was, of course, bound not to last. Wrebel went back to a slightly more conventional playlist and eventually folded entirely. More and more me-too acts started popping up and exposed the limitations of the genre by making it into yet another formula. But the true death knell was ironically the headway it made into Nashville. A few of the top artists got picked off by Nashville record labels. Having gone national, they weren’t there to draw the same crowds and garner the same attention locally. Worse yet, instead of changing Nashville, in some cases Nashville changed them. They had to change the things that made them successful locally in order to make it on the national stage. That wasn’t the case with all of them, but it was the case with one too many of them. He became indistinguishable from Chesney and when the local artists would go over the list of Nashville Singers We Must Hate, they all but had to glide over him. He became the sort of elephant in the room. And even Chesney had joined McGraw in making a local songwriter (who had previously called him out by name as a hack) rich by turning his song into a radio hit.

The movement was still going strong when I left Delosa to move to Deseret with Clancy. It had in fact expanded beyond its Ocania-Delosa-Louisiana base all the way out to Texas and Estacado. One of the reasons I was looking forward to moving to Estacado was getting to see some of these guys. And fortunately I did. But something had changed. Even on trips back to Colosse, The Stockpile had gone from too-crowded-to-be-comfortable to two-thirds empty much of the time. Wrebel Radio had folded by this point and gone to an All-Kenny-G-and-John-Tesh smooth Jazz format.

At least, one GCR artist said, they’ve finally stopped playing Darryl Worley.

Category: Theater

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