COUNTRY MUSIC IS ALIVE & WELL

It's the big discussion right now in Nashville... well, and everywhere country music fans reside frankly. What happened to country music? Is today's country music really country? Is there enough room for today's more progressive expression and the classic sound of the past? Do you HAVE to have steel guitar on your record to be considered "country" or are drum loops perfectly acceptable as well? I'm not here to debate or define what's "country" and what's not, but if your country music loving heart is longing for something more along the lines of Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, and Loretta (or even Clay Walker, Tracy Lawrence, and Patty Loveless) I'm here to introduce you to a few artists who are breaking into the business and they're bringing that authentic country sound with them...

Photo Courtesy of WKRY.com

Photo Courtesy of WKRY.com

MO PITNEY | www.mopitney.com

 "Mo Pitney knows a couple of really important things about being country, real country. One of them is that he knows who he is, and that's always going to be important, because it's the only way anyone can keep becoming the person they really want to be. Just as important though, it seems like Mo Pitney never forgets about everybody else, and how important they are too." - Huffington Post. | Sounds like: Keith Whitley and George Strait

DOWNLOAD: "Clean Up on Aisle Five"


Photo Courtesy of Rolling Stone

Photo Courtesy of Rolling Stone

MIDLAND | www.midlandofficial.com

"Made up of singer Mark Wystrach, lead guitarist Jess Carson and bass player Cameron Duddy, Midland is the embodiment of Seventies California country, all smooth Eagles harmonies and heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics. Their songs are intoxicating country sung with the twang of George Strait.   And it's impossible to resist. Midland (the guys took their name from a Dwight Yoakam song) excel in setting a mood, transporting the listener to another place and time. This is music made for wide-open skies, endless deserts and wondering where the road is going to take you next. - from Midland's Official Bio | Sounds like: Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, and Little Texas.

DOWNLOAD: "Drinkin' Problem"


Photo Courtesy of QPrime.com

Photo Courtesy of QPrime.com

ASHLEY MCBRYDE | www.ashleymcbryde.com

"Dubbed as one of Rolling Stone’s, Artists You Need To Know, citing she's an Arkansas red-clay badass, with the swagger of Hank Jr. and the songwriting of Miranda Lambert. Ashley McBryde's album will showcase an artistic vision that will prove her to be one of the genre's keenest working storytellers, bringing unwavering honesty back into a pop-preoccupied genre." - from McBryde's Official Bio | Sounds like: Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson

DOWNLOAD: "Dive Bar in Dahlonega"


Photo Courtesy of Saving Country Music

Photo Courtesy of Saving Country Music

WILLIAM MICHAEL MORGAN | www.williammichaelmorgan.com

"William Michel Morgan is one of the best hopes for a young traditionalist that could have an impact on the mainstream side. He’s got the voice, the style, and the temperament. Don’t think of Marty Stuart or Willie Nelson when the word “traditionalist” is used in reference to the Mississippi native. Think more of George Strait or Alan Jackson—straight laced with a clean Stetson and a starched shirt, and songs that are straightforward, simple, and honest." - Saving Country Music | Sounds like: Alan Jackson, George Strait, and Randy Travis

DOWNLOAD: "Lonesomeville"


Photo Courtesy of Muletown Music Fest

Photo Courtesy of Muletown Music Fest

SHELLY FAIRCHILD | www.shellyfairchild.com

Shelly Fairchild isn’t new to the industry – but she’s far from old news. A staple in the Nashville music community, Shelly Fairchild hit the scene to much acclaim with her debut album Ride in 2005. The project introduced the young artist’s soulful, gospel-tinged brand of alternative country and spawned a Top 40 hit with “You Don’t Lie Here Anymore.” The Jackson, Miss. native started her newest project, "Buffalo" in May 2014, launching a PledgeMusic campaign in the hopes that she would find support of her endeavor – and after reaching her goal in just two days, she realized she had. Between singing background vocals for the likes of Jason Aldean and Martina McBride, touring across the country and continuously working on future projects, it is clear she is just getting started. - from Fairchild's Official Bio | Sounds like: Wynonna Judd and Linda Rhonstadt

DOWNLOAD: "Mississippi Turnpike"


Photo Courtesy of AaronWatson.com

Photo Courtesy of AaronWatson.com

AARON WATSON | www.aaronwatson.com

Aaron Watson isn’t interested in what someone else thinks he should do. But instead of getting lonely as he sidesteps expectations, he’s gaining followers––hundreds of thousands of them. Delivered with a warm smile and fueled by a wild spirit, Watson’s rebellion echoes the land that helped make him. Watson remains strikingly similar to the people that still dot his native West Texas. They’re a rugged people, proud of home but humble and hardworking, the first to help a neighbor but also fiercely independent. And Watson is unquestionably one of them. Throughout his 17-year career that spans a dozen albums and more than 2,500 shows throughout the U.S. and Europe, 39-year-old Watson has stubbornly and sincerely identified with the everyman––even as he’s proven to be the exception to the rule. - from Watson's Official Bio | Sounds like: Tracy Lawrence and Mark Chesnutt

DOWNLOAD: "That's Why God Loves Cowboys"


Photo Courtesy of SavingCountryMusic.com

Photo Courtesy of SavingCountryMusic.com

CODY JINKS | www.codyjinks.com

Before he became a country singer, Jinks fronted a thrash-metal band called Unchecked Aggression. Influenced by Metallica and particularly Pantera's Southern-fried grooves, they recorded songs such as "Hell Razor" and "Kill Me Again." That band didn't last, but the experience cemented Jinks' decidedly downcast, anti-mainstream stance in the present. "You can't make money playing metal unless you're just one of the biggest of the bigs. I didn't care. I didn't care about money when I got into playing country music. I didn't even mean to start playing country music." It's a familiar narrative: Jinks grew up on country music, learned to play country guitar from his dad, found metal and rebelled. After Unchecked Aggression broke up, he went back to basics and started writing country songs on an acoustic guitar. With time, he began to discover his voice. - from Jon Freeman at Rolling Stone | Sounds like: Jamey Johnson and Shooter Jennings

DOWNLOAD: "I'm Not The Devil"


Photo Courtesy of NPR.com

Photo Courtesy of NPR.com

BRANDY CLARK | www.brandyclarkmusic.com

When you grow up in a small town, oftentimes, your dreams are all you have. For Clark, the dream she harbored in her small hometown of Morton, Washington, was to be a country singer. Sure, once she moved to Nashville, she had successful cuts as a songwriter (The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two," Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart," and Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow" which won the CMA Song of the Year Award in 2014), but being an artist in her own right was a dream she had stopped dreaming until three years ago when her first album, the stunning 12 Stories, debuted. - from Clark's Offiial Bio | Sounds like: Jennifer Nettles

DOWNLOAD: "Girl Next Door"


Photo Courtesy of TasteOfCountry.com

Photo Courtesy of TasteOfCountry.com

AUBRIE SELLERS | www.aubriesellers.com

In this world of pretty little girls who are seen and not heard and reality stars who are famous for nothing, the 24 year old songwriter ain’t buying in. Laughing, she continues, “I’d rather my music be polarizing than everyone like it, because they rarely do. I think passion is a lot deeper than that. I want to go deeper, and be honest that life isn’t just some party and going out. I mean, don’t people feel anything?” - from Seller's Offiial Bio | Sounds like: Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, and really rockin' Lee Ann Womack (Womack is after all, her mom!)

DOWNLOAD: "Sit Here and Cry"


Photo Courtesy of Johnson City Press

Photo Courtesy of Johnson City Press

THE MALPASS BROTHERS | www.themalpassbrothers.com

As young boys, Christopher and Taylor Malpass soaked up the music of their granddad’s phonograph records. With sincerity, honesty and an utter ease on stage that belies their years, their smooth vocal blend and skillful musicianship layer infectiously into the deep respect they pay to legends who have paved the way. Add the funny, off-the-cuff quips between the two 20-something siblings, and the engaging concert becomes a magnetic time-traveling journey to when a calmer rhythm reigned supreme. - from The Malpass Brothers' Official Bio | Sounds like: Hank Williams, Faron Young, and Merle Haggard.

DOWNLOAD: "The Man in Black is Wearing White"


DISCOVER


Have an artist in mind that you think belongs on this list? COMMENT below!