My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Occasional Hope

My Kind of Country turns 10

Do you remember where you were exactly ten years ago? Barack Obama has just defeated John McCain to win his first of two-terms as our 44th President. The United States was beginning to feel the effects of the Great Recession. On our radios, a hot new group out of Georgia was dominating the charts. This week in 2008, Zac Brown Band logged their first of two consecutive weeks at #1 with their debut single “Chicken Fried.” On the album’s chart, it was Taylor Swift’s just-released Fearless, logging its third consecutive week at #1, with no signs of slowing down.

In the country blogosphere, J.R. Journey launched My Kind of Country. Our little blog was born ten years ago tomorrow on Dec. 8, 2008. On that day, J.R. wrote:

Welcome to the My Kind Of Country blog.  Here, you will find reviews, editorials, and discussions about the country music we love – our kind of country.  The idea is simple:  rather than write lots of negative reviews about the new music that’s coming out – because let’s face it, much of what comes out of Nashville and your country radio dial is crap – we are going to write about the music we love.  The music that moves us, drives us, and makes us laugh and cry; the music that touches us.  Not that we will spend our time posting fangirl gushes about a select group of artists that are among our favorites.  To the contrary, we intend to post about the music we love and tell you why we love it, and of course, how we think it could be improved upon.

It’s been an ambitious mission from the start. Erik wrote our first album review, a glowing critique of LeAnn Rimes’ Family, on Dec. 10. Our first spotlight artist? Oh, that was Miss Leslie and her Juke-Jointers in January 2009. Through the years we’ve seen many writers retire their individual perspectives on country music, from our friends Erik, Rainbow, Chris Dean, Megan Morrow, and Razor X to our fearless leader himself, J.R.

I won’t begin to assert I’m an historian on all things MKoC. I joined the team in June 2011 after I had become enamored with their Spotlight Artist coverage of Emmylou Harris in April. After reading a few of their reviews, I digitally downloaded her solo albums from the 1970s and composed a post on my own blog, entitled “New Artist Obsession: Emmylou Harris.” I had included a link to their coverage, which garnered the attention of J.R. and Razor X. I had no idea how impressed J.R. would be with my work, nor was I gunning for anyone’s attention. Shortly thereafter he sent me an email and asked me to join the team, an honor I accepted happily and excitedly. My first post was a single review for Julie Roberts’ “NASCAR Party” that ruffled a few feathers with her publicity team. I then contributed two single reviews to their Randy Travis coverage that month, among other reviews, and was off to the races.

But this isn’t solely about me. My Kind of Country has and always will be about a passionate group of fans sharing their thoughts and perspectives on country music with a critical ear. Two of our longest contributing writers, Razor X, and Occasional Hope, became members of the team in Feb. 2009. Razor’s first post, “Rediscovering Forgotten Gems” found him taking a look back at albums, with a focus on Randy Travis, he had the urge to revisit. Occasional Hope introduced herself to readers through “Finding Country,” in which she shared how she came to love country music. Paul W. Dennis joined just before I did in 2011. The 9513 had just shuttered and J.R. asked him to continue his Country Heritage series with us. His first post was “Country Heritage: Gary Stewart – A Short Life Of Trouble (1944-2003).”

A while back, a friend had asked me if they could take a look at work on MKoC and even proceeded to print it out in order to read it (yes, I also thought that was strange). In doing so, he made a comment I’ve never forgotten. He said the blog had a really great title and I instantly knew what he meant. He didn’t say it, but he was referring to the idea that as a group of writers we’re each sharing the country music we love individually, writing pieces that reflect our love of the genre, not just getting assigned albums and singles we may or may not care enough about to compose a thoughtful post. I hadn’t looked at it that way, but he was correct in every sense of the word.

I also often think about how hard it is to keep a blog going and just how many have come and gone in the ten years we’ve been alive. It’s easy for readers to overlook the fact that our positions as staff writers aren’t our full or even part-time jobs. MKoC is a labor of love we create out of passion for country music. It takes a village to keep a blog vital, which is why The 9513 and Country California have ceased publication. Engine 145 only ended once Juli Thanki received a prestigious position with The Tennessan, which has led to exciting opportunities for her in 2019. Ken Morton, Jr’s That Nashville Sound is still going strong and  Country Universe is still around, after 14 years, albeit in an abbreviated form.

Little did J.R. realize in his inaugural post when he wrote: “much of what comes out of Nashville and your country radio dial is crap.” He never could’ve known the assault on the very ideals of commercial country music that was coming down the line with bro-country and whatever the heck you call what’s followed in its wake. It’s ironic, at least to me, that the peak years for country blogging have coincided with the continued release of literally the worst music our beloved genre has ever produced. At least we’ve learned there are alternatives and still some pretty awesome music being made if you know where to look.

I know this post is long, but heck, you only celebrate your tenth anniversary once. We would not be here if it wasn’t for our continued passion for country music, but even more importantly, our readers. Thank you for continuing to make us and our writing a part of your lives. Please continue to comment and engage with us on our posts. We always love reading and responding to whatever you have to say.

Onward.

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Album Review: Adam Harvey — ‘Sugar Talk’

Adam Harvey released his third album, Sugar Talk, in late August 1999. Much like Occasional Hope noted in her review last week, there isn’t much information about the album online although I was able to find it on Apple Music.

The album is comprised of fourteen tracks. Wikipedia lists two singles. “Treat Me Like A Dog” is a ruckus barnburner about a man who wants a woman who will love and forgive him despite his flaws, much the same way people love everything about their pets. “I Blame You” is a nice power ballad where a man blames his woman for all the riches in his life.

When researching “Gypsy Queen,” I found out it is an old Australian song from the 1970s and became Harvey’s first number one hit. The track is excellent, dosed in mandolin and has a nice sing-song-y melody. “When I’m Drinking” is a playful honky-tonk rocker about a man who’s let the bottle have a grip on his life.

“Hold on my Heart” is another barnburner, in which Harvey sings about a woman who has “a hold on my heart and I hope she never let’s go.” The title track follows the same uptempo formula, with slight variations.

Harvey is a keen observer on “I Can Tell By The Way You Dance,” in which he predicts the woman he’s watching on the dance floor will become his girl. It’s probably not a sequel, but the next track in sequence is “Caroline.” In the chorus he sings, “when I’m with you I lose my mind.”

The last of the high-octane moments is “It’s Still Love,” which is very good but feels slightly generic. “When You Love Somebody” is a nice contemporary ballad. “Love Listens” falls at mid-tempo, with generous steel guitar throughout and a smoother vocal from Harvey.

Harvey also includes three songs I recognize as being recorded by other artists. When I played “Don’t Tell Me (You’re Not in Love)” I recognized it immediately, but didn’t know where I’d heard it before. It turns out George Strait included it as an album track on The Road Less Traveled three years after Harvey released it here.

He gives himself a tall order singing Lefty Frizzell’s “I Never Go Around Mirrors,” which was famously covered twice by Keith Whitley. Harvey’s version is very good and holds its own against the others.

The final cover, “Goodnight Sweetheart,” was originally recorded by Joe Diffie in 1992 before being picked up as the title track and second single from country singer turned Texas real estate agent David Kersh’s debut album. It peaked at #6 for him in 1996. Harvey’s version is excellent, tender, and makes me believe this is a song Whitley would’ve likely recorded had he lived.

I was unfamiliar with Adam Harvey before writing this review. Sugar Talk is a very strong album with some excellent moments throughout. He goes a bit too heavy on the light uptempo material but kills it when he slows things down. In addition to Apple Music, Sugar Talk is all available on iTunes. I recommend checking it out.

Grade: A-

A thank you note to The 9513

Sometime in the first half of 2008, I was browsing the web for country music news, and stumbled upon The 9513’s daily news roundups.  That first article I read wasn’t easy to track down, but I found it, remembering it having to do with CMT Can You Duet winners Caitlin & Will, because at the same time I was led to Country California and C.M. Wilcox’s (then using the pen name John Maglite) musings about the duo’s future at country radio with their similarities to Lady Antebellum. Right then, Country Universe was in the midst of their 100 Greatest Women countdown, so I had the good fortune of discovering 3 excellent country music-related sites in quick succession, all thanks to The 9513.

From the comments on articles and the forum discussions (remember the comment corral?), I got to know many great people, and after seeing the common ground some of us had, I had the brainstorm to create this humble blogsite, with contributors pulled directly from The 9513’s readership. We launched here in December 2008, with 3 writers. (Chris Dean has since departed to attend college, and is now a missionary in Italy. We wish him luck, and await his return.) From the same pool I plucked my first 2 fellow contributors later came this site’s greatest assets: Razor X and Occasional Hope.

So, thanks to The 9513, we were off and running. But their contributions to our success were far from finished. Brady and Brody Vercher’s daily news roundups sent many new readers our way, and I can’t thank them enough for loaning us an audience. It’s hard to put into words the feeling a green blogger like myself got when I saw my name and my words linked from their news roundups, the column that started it all for me. That first mention must be how country singers feel when they debut on the Grand Ole Opry. More than allowing us to spin-off and sending us readers, the excellent crop of talent at The 9513 influenced me to start on the path to the job I have today as a columnist for American Noise. With the likes of Jim Malec, Blake Boldt, Juli Thanki, Chris Neal, and so many others, setting a standard I could never reach. They continue to up the bar, and I keep trying to catch up.  I’m saddened to see the site retired, and the three of us here at My Kind of Country want to thank the Verchers for creating and maintaining the standard for country music websites, for countless hours of entertaining reads, and for being the stalk from which we sprouted.

– J.R. Journey

Like all its readers, I’ll miss reading The 9513 as part of my daily routine. The breadth of its coverage, from mainstream to bluegrass to Americana/alt-country, means it really did cover the whole of country music in a way no other site could really equal. More than that, though, I feel I can say it changed my life. I would never had begun blogging myself if I hadn’t found the 9513 in, I think, the spring or early summer of 2008. Before that, I felt pretty isolated as a country fan, because I knew hardly anyone in real life who shared my tastes in music at all. The 9513, and the associated forum that started in the summer of 2008, made me feel like part of a community, and that gave me the confidence to write about the music I love. And when I accepted J.R.’s invitation to join the team here, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of their links to many of our posts.

– Occasional Hope

I originally found The 9513 via a Google search, and it quickly became my favorite country music website. The quality of the writing was always superb, and I admired the fearless honesty that characterized their music reviews. More importantly, I forged a lot of new friendships with the people who frequented the site. I never imagined that it would lead to the opportunity to write for this blog. I greatly improved my knowledge of country music thanks to The 9513 and will miss it terribly. Its absence will create a void that will be impossible to fill, despite our best efforts to do so. So to Brady and Brody I offer a heartfelt thanks and my best wishes for your future endeavors.

– Razor X

Interviews and humor: Your favorite country blogs posts of 2009

The rise in popularity of country blogging and its growing readership has allowed so many of to co-exist, but also to begin doing things that were traditionally only done by print publications, or major media networks like CMT or GAC, who just happened to have an online outlet for their various coverage of country music. But more and more throughout the past months, artists have been turning to the websites and blogs when lining up their press tours, making time to speak to the blogs to get the word out about their latest release, or to just allow the fans to catch up with what they’ve been up to.

Almost every means of public consumption becomes obsolete with time, and that becomes evident when the new medium begins to show signs of catching up, and soon eclipsing, that of the old. I think we’re seeing that every day as we read and comment and interact with each other. Maybe I’m just being too optimistic, and being centered in this field as I am, it would certainly be easy for me to be seeing this through tunnel vision. But it seems to me that the last year has been very prosperous for nearly every country music-related site on the net. That makes me happy.

A few weeks ago, I sent out an email to a small group of my colleagues in the community of country music blog-people. I only had so many addresses, so not everybody got the message. So, with the help of The 9513, Country California, and Facebook, I got the word out that I wanted to compile a list of our favorite posts from the past year on the numerous quality websites. I originally hoped for 50 to make a list out of, but the way the results came in, they demanded a written summary.  Hopefully I’ve put them in a easy to read and access format.

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