My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Daily Archives: December 16, 2009

Talking to the stars: Best country blog posts of the year?

In July of 2007, a wonderful thing happened to me.  I was already a hard-core country music fan by then.  I was a steadfast reader of the CMT blog and their news section.  I also tried to keep up with country music through various google alerts – and still do.  But one day while searching for some particular tidbit of information, I stumbled upon the Granddaddy of Country Blogs, The 9513.  I found an early mailbag, and after reading, I decided to poke around the site.  I found intelligent reviews and well-thought editorials, all crawling with comments from just the kind of country fans I had been looking to interact with.  (I still love the CMT blog, but the regulars there are a bit untamed.)  From my new discovery, and mostly thanks to the daily news roundups, I began exploring the wealth of country music journalism all over the web, all suited to my own tastes, and even beyond that.  I was soon reading Country Universe, the Photocrap blog (now Farce the Music), and even found the Country California site before John Maglite sold it to C.M. Wilcox, who took the humor to another level.  There was also many more, and you can find them on this site’s blogroll.

There was something for everybody already by then, but I still jumped right in with my own comments.  It wasn’t long until I was bitten by the blogging bug, and the idea struck me for this site.  Knowing I couldn’t do it on my own, I set out to scoop up as many of the great writers as I could, and get them on my side, before the other blogs wanted them.  We started in December of 2008, with a simple idea: to write about the music we loved.  It became evident that mainstream country wasn’t going to accomodate us on a daily basis, so we sat out to write about the rich history of country music, alongside the latest releases.  And by March of this year, My Kind of Country was a genuine country music blog property, thanks in no small part to the big blogs lending us their readers.  Thanks again, you guys.  But enough about us.

We’ve all been very fortunate this year to be able to read a rich tapestry of entries from countless writers in the country blogosphere.  We’ve read scathing reviews and glowing ones, we’ve listened to candid and revealing interviews, and of course the oft-needed bitching and moaning to get things back the way we want them.  Country blogging has run the gamut this year and I’m so very proud to have been a small part of it.  I also look forward to what the new year will bring, as online literature continues to grow, and we drag country music, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.  Here’s to you, the pioneers of country blogging.  You are my heroes.

When I started thinking about reviving this post – an idea from the mind of C.M. Wilcox – I knew, like everything else in life, that I’d need the help of my friends to compile a truly worthy list.  So I sent out an email to every country blogger in my address book asking them their favorite blog posts of the year.  The consensus seemed to run towards interviews as personal favorites, with country blogging heavyweights Brady Vercher, Leeann Ward, and Blake Boldt all citing various interviews as the best articles of the year.  Here’s a few of the choice picks for best country blog posts of the year.  These are just what we came up with as a preliminary list.  With your help, we’d like to create a complete list of the 50 greatest posts from the past 12 months.  So be sure to jump in the comments section and tell us your picks so we can add them to the final ballot.

Charlie Louvin: Exclusive Pre-Grammy Interview – The 9513 – by Juli Thanki

A Conversation with Kathy Mattea – Country Universe – by Kevin Coyne

Heart, soul, and talent: Connie Smith’s recipe for great country music - My Kind of Country – by Razor X

Does Swift Have Tubb Appeal? - Country California – by C.M. Wilcox

Giving The People What They Want: Nashville’s Changing Music Business – The 9513 – by Chris Neal

John Rich: The Interview – The 9513 – by Jim Malec

‘All White’ Darius Rucker Parody – Farce The Music – by Trailer

What would you add to the list?  What writers and blogs have you discovered this year and made part of your daily reading?

Classic Christmas Rewind: Randy Travis – ‘White Christmas Makes Me Blue’

Year In Review: Occasional Hope’s Top Ten Albums of 2009

It hasn’t been a great year for mainstream releases, and none of my top 10 appeared on one of the major labels. There have been some fine albums released across the genre, although this year’s list is more bluegrass-oriented than would have been the case in years past.

10. Benefit Of Doubt – Pam Gadd
A joyful mixture of acoustic country and bluegrass, with duets with Dolly Parton and Marty Raybon. I reviewed it in March, and you can listen to the album on last.fm.

9. 30 Something And Single - Tammy Cochran
This album strikes an almost-perfect balance between contemporary and traditional country, with a sense of humor to boot. I reviewed it in the summer, and you can listen to clips and buy the album at CDBaby.

8. Bigger Hands - John Anderson
John was our Spotlight Artist in July, and his new album (which I reviewed then) found him in great voice with some interesting material, including the apocalyptic title track, and Anderson’s magisterial version of his co-write with John Rich, ‘Shuttin’ Detroit Down’.

7. Mister Purified Country - Shane Worley
There is still great traditional country music being made, and this fine independent CD in the Merle Haggard tradition is an excellent example -with some incisive criticism of the mainstream in the title track as an added bonus. I reviewed it in September, and you can listen to clips and buy the album at CDBaby.

6. When The Money’s All Gone - Jason Eady
Poetic singer-songwriter Jason Eady is more on the Americana side of things, with country, folk and blues elements. This album is full of interesting material, and repays close listening. I reviewed it in September, and you can listen to lips and buy at Amazon.

5. I’ll Take The Fifth - Dallas Wayne
With a voice as distinctive as John Anderson’s, I acclaimed this as my favorite of the year to date when I reviewed it back in March, and it hasn’t slipped that far down the rankings in the ensuing nine months. Buy it here.

4. The Reason That I Sing - Kim Williams
This delightful record is the one I’ve found myself singing along to more than any other this year. Songwriter Kim isn’t technically a great vocalist, but that really doesn’t matter, as he brings a warmth and honesty to his songs. I reviewed it in August, and you can now listen to it on last.fm.

3. Hillbilly Goddess - Alecia Nugent
Alecia has been recording for some years, but it was with this excellent album that she came of age artistically. Very much in the bluegrass/country zone, the youngest of the artists in my top 10 proved herself as a first-rate vocalist with some great material. I reviewed it in May, and you can hear clips and buy at Amazon.

2. Mountain Soul II - Patty Loveless
The only album on my top 10 list I didn’t review, but Razor X rightly called it a triumph of artistry in his review. Sometimes raw-sounding, always authentic and impressive, Patty cemented her credentials as one of the finest singers in country music in her sequel to her first bluegrass-inspired album Mountain Soul. My favorite tracks are the revival of the classic ‘Busted’, with the original coalmining lyrics heard for the first time; Jon Randall’s ‘You Burned The Bridge’; and the new version of ‘Feelings Of Love’. For clips, and to buy it, go to Amazon.

1. Taste Of The Truth - Gene Watson
Honey-voiced Texan Gene is a veteran of the music business, but he is still producing some of the best music out there. This year, in fact, he produced my #1 album, with the lovely Taste Of the Truth. I called it a masterclass in singing country music when I reviewed it in August, and you can hear it for yourself at last.fm.

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