Although I was born in Dallas, Texas, and moved to Houston for about a year, I was raised in Portland, Oregon. People often say that Portland and Austin are very similar. This is true to some extent – both cities have a good music scene, food trucks, and are very urban, but Portland takes it to a new level. Walking downtown there means you’ll see at least one person not wearing shoes (by choice), someone drumming buckets on a street corner, a few people stationed at pop-up tents selling hemp clothing, and you’ll undoubtedly pass by a handful of hipster coffee shops. The music scene in Portland involves little to no country. My friends and family have more than likely never been to a country concert, and would much prefer to listen to Odesza, Disclosure, Future Islands, or any other band that performs regularly at Sasquatch or Coachella.
I went to my first country concert when I was 14 years old. I saw Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw and The Band Perry – little did I know, I had just paid a measly $20 to see some of the biggest names at that time. I learned to love the country songs that came on the radio regularly, but didn’t know until I got to college that the “country” I was listening to wasn’t really the music that true country music fans knew and loved. I had never heard of Pat Greene or Bart Crow until my first year at UT, and it still took me some time to grasp that type of music. My friends back home still love to poke fun at me for posting pictures in cowboy boots and dresses on game days, and I doubt they’ll ever learn how to two step.
Occasionally, a rare friend will show me a “new song” they love, for example, “I Love This Life” by Locash, or “My Front Porch Looking In” by Lonestar. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but only a few years ago I considered myself to be an avid country music fan, but I was listening to Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett on a regular basis. I won’t pretend that I don’t still find some of their songs to be catchy, but I’ve learned that I wasn’t listening to the real music people live by in Texas and all over the country (although it’s shown to be mostly a southern genre). Being raised in the Pacific Northwest, I grew up camping and hiking and even riding horses, but simply had not been exposed to the type of country that so many of my friends have known since before they learned to walk.