Monthly Archives: October 2015

Chris Stapleton: A Night To Remember

I was driving ten miles an hour below the speed limit on the way to New Braunfels to see Chris Stapleton as the rain pounded the car windshield. Halfway there, I got an email saying the concert was still on but if you couldn’t make it, you would be reimbursed. The event was going to be outside at the River Road Ice House but instead the sound crew had to work mercilessly to move everything inside to give Stapleton and his fans the show they deserved.

Still a naive honky-tonk-goer, I rounded up my buddies to get to the Ice House at 6:00 immediately when the doors opened because why not show up early to get good spots to see Chris Stapleton?

I’ll tell you why.

When you buy a ticket, make sure you look at the number of opening bands. There were four. That’s four separate hour-long sets that you have to sit through before the main act goes on. For a brief moment, we questioned our commitment to guarding our spot with a perfect view; however, once the first band started playing, we knew the five hours of waiting for Chris Stapleton wouldn’t be too bad. The highlight of the openers was when Jason Eady and Adam Hood joined to form the Southern Brothers band. By the end of their set, the house was packed. People were shoulder to shoulder and the crowd was so massive that up people were watching from the outdoor patio in the rain.

Okay… Finally it was 10:00 and they began readying the stage for Chris Stapleton. We stood in the same spot for 4 hours. We were hot. Our legs were tired. And our heels ached from standing in our uncomfortable boots. It took another hour of setup and although our patience wavered, our excitement for Chris Stapleton didn’t. Did I mention that I was standing next to Jordan Shipley who also waited like us?

Almost exactly when the clock on my iPhone hit 11:00, a burly figure with a majestic beard and a perfectly weathered cowboy hat appeared to the side of the stage. You could tell he was an introvert as he kept his eyes steady on his feet as he walked onto the stage. His wife and background singer, Morgan Stapleton, strutted onto the stage after him, carrying a glass of red wine. The drummer and bass player followed. It was clear that Stapleton wasn’t much of an entertainer. He was going to let his music do the talking.

Stapleton kicked off the show with his attitude-filled “Nobody to Blame.” Immediately you could feel the chemistry between Chris and his wife as they held eye contact for half of the song. Next, he played his title track, “Traveller.” At this point in the show, you could tell that Chris and Morgan were shocked at the crowd response. They were wide-eyed a giggly. It was like it was the first time every single person in the audience knew every word to each song. Then came the song I was waiting for, “Fire Away.” The world stood still as Mr. and Mrs. Stapleton had me in the palms of their hands. I could’ve left after those three songs and the five-hour wait would have still been worth it.

By the end of the night, it was clear that all the critical acclaim Chris Stapleton has received this past year was truly deserved. I feel incredibly sorry for the people who decided not to fight the rain and come to the concert because they missed out on one of the most intimate concerts they’d ever see.

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Filed under Blog Post 3, Live Music

Spooky Country Songs To Get You In The Halloween Spirit

One of the spookiest weekends of the year is upon us. Ghosts, witches, zombies and werewolves roam the streets for Halloween weekend. While it is so easy to find country songs about Christmas, it is rare for anyone to think of country music and Halloween together, but there are definitely songs out there that get their spookiness on. Listening to them around Halloween time can really escalate their meanings. The night of this spooky holiday is all about the “scaries,” and to get you in the mood, here is a list of 5 of the spookiest country songs through out time that I have complied from research, and from songs that I have personally found to be appropriate for Halloween vibes.

  1. “It’s a Monster’s Holiday” by Buck Owens

I can’t help but start this list off with this song. If it doesn’t get you in the Halloween mood I am not really sure what will. If you can’t tell merely from the title, this song is all about the creatures that encompass the meaning of Halloween. Dragons, zombies, Frankenstein, gremlins, goblins, Dracula, and Wolfman are all of the monster’s that are being celebrated during the Halloween season. Buck Owens sang one of the most directly Halloween related songs that I have found, and I like it.

  1. “Two Black Cadillacs” by Carrie Underwood

Don’t ever cheat on Carrie Underwood. “Two Black Cadillacs” is only one of many songs that she has about a cheating boyfriend or husband, but it is arguably the most serious. It is about a wife teaming up with “the other woman” to take out the guy that they both thought was theirs. The music in the song along with the lyrics create an eerie sounding threat that would scare me if I was a cheating guy. The song is very vague about how the women killed the husband, but its sound and the lyrics do make a convincing point to be scared of two pissed off women.

  1. “Creepin’” by Eric Church

Eric Church’s song Creepin’ is a song is about him looking back on a previous relationship, but his lyrics take it further than him just being reminiscent about his loss, the imagery makes it creepy. “Your cocaine kiss and caffeine love, run under my skin and into my blood.” This line could make any listener’s blood quiver, and the chorus following adds to the creepiness factor. “Ivy crawlin’,” “living in glass,” “like a honeybee beatin’ on my screen door,” and the 30 times the word “creepin’” is used all contribute to the eeriness. I realize that this song won’t really scare anyone, but it’s tune and sound along with vivid imagery make the song perfect for this Halloween season.

  1. “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash

Have you ever wondered what hell looks like? Well for a cowboy it would be endlessly chasing around a bunch of mad cows and never being to catch them. And what’s worse? They seem to be devil cows. In this song, Cash has painted a picture of cowboy hell. I picture a very scary setting that is filled with blood and demons, and that is often what I run into on a Halloween night (but the things I run into aren’t real, so I am ok with it.)

  1. “Better Dig Two” by the Band Perry

This song is actually a bit disturbing if you really pay attention to the lyrics. The Band Perry’s song “Better Dig Two” is about a girl who is so freaky obsessed with her husband that she plans to die if they are ever separated by death or divorce so she won’t have to see him with someone else. She talks about their burial process as the pre-chorus (one of the catchiest parts of the song) for if he dies before her. This girl takes “till death do us part” very seriously, to the point where its spooky.

As Halloween approaches, listen to these songs with this more spooky perspective in mind. When I did, it made me even more aware of the eeriness in so many of these songs. There are many other songs out there that could be included on this list, so as you are listening to country music this week, try to be more aware of the lyrics to see if there is a scary factor that you didn’t even notice before.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Lists, Song Analysis

5 Seriously Creepy Country Songs to Get You in the Mood for Halloween

When creating the perfect Halloween playlist, country music probably isn’t the first genre that comes to mind. But, from a song about Hank William’s ghost to one about a Voodoo witch, this list of 5 country songs might prevent you from getting a full night of beauty sleep. Listen/read/watch at your own risk…(cue evil laughter)

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1. “Midnight in Montgomery” (1992) – Alan Jackson

Written by Alan Jackson and Don Sampson, this song tells the story of a creepy encounter with Hank William’s ghost. Filled with imagery of a chilly and windy night, you can’t help but feel a slight urge to sleep with the lights on (and avoid Montgomery at all costs). The narrator questions whether the ghost “was ever really there” or just a figment of his imagination….I guess we’ll never know.

2. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (1979) – Charlie Daniels Band

Written and performed by the Charlie Daniels Band, this song recounts a fiddling contest between a boy named Johnny and the devil. It alludes to the classic motif of the deal with the devil. The intensity of the fiddles keeps you on your toes throughout the whole song. But (spoiler alert) thankfully Johnny wins the contest in the end so you can rest a little easier.

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3. “Marie Laveau” (1974) – Bobby Bare

Written by Shel Silverstein and Baxter Taylor, this song is about Marie Laveau—a 19th century Voodoo practitioner. The upbeat tone of the song really contrasts the creepy story Bare tells. But, the hissing/howling sound that Bare makes as Laveau kills each victim is enough to make you cringe. This song is a warning for men: treat every woman well because you never know when she could actually turn out to be a witch…

4. “(Pardon Me) I’ve Got Someone to Kill” (1978) – Johnny Paycheck

There’s no beating around the bush in this song composed by Johnny Paycheck and Aubrey Mayhew; his intentions are clear and concise. He sings about killing a man who took his woman away from him. He doesn’t care that he’ll “surely die” for committing this murder since he’s a “dead man anyhow” without her. Lesson learned, Johnny: don’t mess with a cowboy’s girl.

5. “Country Death Song” (1984) – Violent Femmes

With a name like Violent Femmes, it’s pretty obvious that this artist probably isn’t someone you want to take home to mom. In “Country Death Song”, Femmes tells the story of real event where a man intentionally threw his daughter into a well and then hung himself. Enough said.

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The storytelling nature of country music transforms these songs into “ghost stories” in a sense. If you remove the instruments/melody and simply read the lyrics aloud over the campfire in the woods…you’d probably make a few people wide-eyed and paranoid. If you’re looking for a last-minute Halloween costume, Hank William’s ghost or Marie Laveau might be the perfect fit. Party safe.

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Filed under Blog Post 3, Lists, Song Analysis

Cliche Country… That isn’t Terrible!

When I tell people that I like Country music, about half the time they say something along the lines of, “they just sing about the same stuff: trucks, dirt roads, and drinking.” Whenever I hear this I try my best to tell that person about the heartbreaking and inspiring country songs that also exist regarding a number of different topics, but in the back of my mind I know that most of the chart topping country has been dominated by such topics. In this blogpost I would like to highlight country songs with cliche topics that aren’t terrible, because every cliche is based on a truth that these songs nail right on the head.

First off is the ever-popular topic “trucks”. It seems to be the first thing that people go to when they think of country because just about every country star can be seen in or by one in their music videos (yes, even Taylor Swift! ) As a proud truck owner myself I understand the appeal – trucks are utilitarian and offer the ability to be prepared for more situations, allow the driver to make it to more places, and you can beat the car up a bit too. One of the best country songs that sing about trucks is “Drive” by Alan Jackson. In this song he sings about driving, “an old half ton short bed Ford,” with his father and how that was one of his favourite memories that he hopes to share with his daughters.

The second topic that country singers love to sing about, and country haters love to complain about are dirt roads. Singing about driving down a dirt road to a secluded spot is a staple in country, but I don’t think singing about such things is bad at all. In my experience driving down a dirt road has almost always resulted in an amazing memory. In Brooks and Dunn’s song “Red Dirt Road” they sing not just of the fun they had there but of growing up and experiencing important moments of life like, “Where I drank my first beer,” and, “Where I found Jesus.” So next time you see a dirt road, take a lesson from the multitude of country songs and see what’s down there.

Finally, if one thing in country has been consistent throughout the ages it been singing about drinking. From honky tonks and airplanes to tailgates and mexican beaches, country singers have drank there. In this case I think that critics may be right, country singers always have and always will sing about drinking but just like drinking I think that in moderation these songs are a good thing. They are stress relievers. Of all the drinking songs out there I think that one of the best, and a top contender for my all time favorite song, is “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson. This song is all about letting loose after the world has been too harsh, which is something that can be good if done right and something that everybody can relate to.

The critics of country music will always complain that all the artists sing about the same things. While I think responding by telling them “there is so much more to country music” is true I think that also belittles some amazing songs. So next time somebody complains tell them that there is more to country music, but that songs about dirt roads, and trucks, and drinking aren’t all bad too.


Filed under Blog Post 3

The Country in Spotify

Times are changing, and the way we listen to music is changing too. In 2001, Steve Jobs changed the way we listened to music through his new media player and library called “iTunes” on the new iPod invented. iTunes has been an excellent way for artists to publish their music and become known.

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However, by 2008 Daniel Ek changed the game and came out with Spotify, a music library which enables users to stream music instead of downloading it first. A lot of people adore Spotify because it resembles a social media in that it lets its users follow other users, their playlists, and albums and hit singles of famous artists as well

Every genre of music has multiple playlists available to them, and one of the most popular, loved and favored is Country.


Generations and generations of country music are now available for all to hear. From the ageless, remarkable baritone voice of Johnny Cash, to the prominent ‘King of Country’, George Strait, and all the way to the youngest Grand Ole Opry inductee, Carrie Underwood, Spotify is teeming with some deep rooted and pop cultured country music.

It’s intriguing to note the differences in the sounds of country throughout the ages. The wide range of country artists displayed show the progressions of country music from past to present. Country stars, such as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton denote the twangy, original country music of the past, while Chris Janson, Thomas Rhett, and Jana Kramer are examples of newer artists that depict the more hip hop gravitated style of country. Although time begets change in popular music, Spotify has made the popular music of the past easily attainable.


The overabundance of country playlists can be overwhelming, but it’s engrossing to discover which songs belong in the most followed playlists. Take the playlist ‘Hot Country’ for example, with almost 2 million followers. It is easy to determine who the most prominent country artists of today’s pop culture are.

It’s a no brainer that Luke Bryan, George Strait, Carrie Underwood, and Tim McGraw have a couple of songs on this playlist. However, many of the artists listed were unfamiliar to me and had songs that drifted toward the newer and more pop sound of bro-country. Bro-country seems to be the more contagious and more prominent type of country listened to in today’s world. There must be something appealing about the combination of rock, hip-hop, and country music.


For other playlists, it really depends on the mood you’re in. Are you looking for some tunes to jam to at a tailgate? Listen to ‘Chillin’ on a Dirt Road’ that has upbeat songs like, ‘Somebody Like You’ by Keith Urban, or ‘Honey Bee’ by Blake Shelton.

Or possibly you’re into a serious and calm mood and just want to listen to soft country. Maybe the “Country Coffeehouse’ with songs like ‘Before These Walls Were Blue’ by Wade Bowen or ‘A Woman Like You’ by Lee Brice would be a better fit.

Maybe if you want to get crazy, you can even listen to ‘Canadian Country’! But why waste your time when you can listen to some good ol’ American country.


With the improvement of technology through the years, country music has been able to reach out to more of its fans and keep them well entertained. Pits and peaks of different subgenres in country music will continue to oscillate as time moves forward. But I wonder with more advancements to come, will country songs and artists of the past be infused and combined with country music in the future?


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 3