Hi! I'm Katie O'Neil. I am currently a junior, majoring in advertising. I am from Marietta, Georgia but have no intention on returning there. I love to read, work out, and hangout with my friends. My friends tell me that my taste in music comes off the "Top 40" charts. I love Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean like every other Georgia girl. Although, I pretty much listen to all types of country, really anything I can sing out loud too.
For my project the four things that I focused on was going to Billy Bob’s and attending a concert, going to Nutty Brown and attending a concert, taking a picture at the Willie Nelson statue, and then watching some of the American Country Music Awards. It was great getting to explore some of the most iconic country music places in Texas, while being able to keep up with country music on a more national level. Through this project I was able to explore new places, listen to great music, learn about country music history, and watch artists make history.
Nutty Brown is a local Austin treasure. On top of it being a famous venue, I also got to see one of Texas Country’s most famous bands. At Nutty Brown, I got to see the Josh Abbott Band perform. This was probably one of the most fun concerts I have been too. The venue creates this wonderful atmosphere that just makes you want to dance. It is an out door venue where people can stand close to the stage or sit back and relax at some picnic tables. In addition to the venue, the band was fantastic. They played all of my favorite songs and they put on an amazing live show. Another iconic Texas place that I went to was Billy Bob’s. This was quite the experience for me. Not being from Texas I had not clue that dance halls like Billy Bob’s existed. The place was huge and had everything, even containing a bull-riding arena. The performer that night was Sara Evans. She was fantastic and the place was packed for her. I wrote about my experience going to Billy Bob’s for one of my blog posts. In addition, one of my favorite things about going to both these concerts was being able to see a band that embodies Texas Country while the other one has made her success in Nashville. I was able to experience two country concerts through this project that have two totally different backgrounds. Moving on, I went and took a picture with the Willie Nelson Statue. I never realized how famous this statue was until this class. I went this past weekend to take a picture and had to wait in a line, granted it wasn’t a long line, but still there were other people wanting to get their picture with Willie. It is very neat to see how the Austin community honors Willie, with not only the statue but also naming a street after him and building the new Willie Nelson exhibit in football stadium. Since I stayed mostly local doing this project I decided to watch the ACMs. I had already written a blog post about the major performances that would be happening so I wanted to watch the show to see how those turned out. My favorite part of award shows is watching the performances anyways so it was a win win for me. According the article written by Billboard the two worst performances of the night were the cross genre duets. This is surprising and funny because this was the main focus of my blog article due to the amount of hype that was being created for these performances. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this project because I don’t believe I would have actually experienced these things, which would have been a shame.
This Monday, March 30th, the second round of performers for this years Academy of Country Music Awards was announced. This year will mark the 50th ACM celebration so they are going all out with the performers. The academy is bringing back veterans, having new artists perform, and creating crossover duets with pop artists. The ACM’s will take place on April 19th at the AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas.
However, the interesting part of who will be performing is whom they chose for the duet performances. As of right now it is Nick Jonas with Dan and Shay. And then Christina Aguilera is said to be performing with a surprise artist for a surprise duet. Aguilera will also be appearing as a guest star in Nashville, on April 15th. This is especially interesting because the ACM’s are only four days after her country music debut. Granted on the show Aguilera’s character will be an already established pop artist that wants to record a country album.
Last years best duet performance was with Shakira and Blake Shelton. It turned out to be more of a rock tune than country but still people went wild for it.
They also performed this song on The Voice. I think that this performance was awesome. Personally, I just like how their two voices blend together because they are so different. With Shakira’s Spanish accent shining through and then Shelton’s country accent, together I think that they create a very unique sound.
For the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards there were two crossover duet performances, the first by Hunter Hayes and Stevie Wonder and the second by Brad Paisley and John Mayer. Hunter Hayes and Stevie Wonder performed “Sir Duke”. Hunter Hayes also did a solo performance of “I Want Crazy”, however, the duet with Stevie Wonder completely overshadowed his solo.
Brad Paisley and John Mayer performed “Beat This Summer”. This performance was primarily sung by Paisley. Both Mayer and Paisley contributed to the guitar solo and Mayer took over one verse of the song.
Maybe it is because this is not one of my favorite Brad Paisley songs but I did not enjoy this performance as much. However, I think that the Hayes and Wonder duet was much better, got the audience more into the performance, and had a much better sound to it.
I think that duet performances are unique because of how they bring two different voices together. Especially the duets performed at the ACM’s because they usually take artists from two different genres. This is great because the performances combined two opposite sounding vocals and creates an amazing crossover sound. I am very excited to see how the duet performances for this year turn out.
Tuesday March 3rd, 2015 was a monumental day for Carrie Underwood. Carrie and husband Mike Fisher gave birth to a baby boy, Isaiah Michael Fisher. Carrie could be said to be the most popular female country artist of the decade. Underwood started with a solid fan base after winning American Idol. This is possibly why she was so successful on the Billboard Top 100 in addition to country music charts. Carrie is one of my favorite artists but not solely because of her music. She has great style, values, and holds herself with grace. I may not know her personally but I think she just has just a wonderful presence that surrounds her. Now in class there has been discussion about whether or not religion is a trope of country music. I believe that in Underwood’s case it is a very big part of her and her music. Her newest single “Something in the Water” has to do with how a person’s life changes after they have been baptized. The song also includes lyrics from “Amazing Grace”. Another attribute of the song is that it is not only on the Top Charts for the Billboard Top 100 but also is on the Hot Christian Songs Chart.
In addition to “Something in the Water”, a good portion of Underwood’s older songs also contains some references of religion. Another example would be “Jesus Take the Wheel”. “Jesus Take the Wheel” was released on Underwood’s debut album Some Hearts in 2005. This was Underwood’s first Christian-Country crossover hit and could be said to be her most successful single thus far. “Jesus Take the Wheel” won numerous awards, including two Grammy’s and an Academy of Country Music.
Others like “Inside Your Heaven” and “Just a Dream” are two other songs that religion is a theme. Both Underwood and the runner-up of American Idol, Bo Bice, released “Inside Your Heaven”. Underwood’s version of the song excelled with approximately double the amount of copies sold than Bice’s. “Just a Dream” is a song about loss and heartbreak. This song is sad in depressing but it clearly illustrates the emotion of denial after one finds out a love one has passed.
Religion does not take place in all of Underwood’s songs though. But seeing as how a number of her songs have religion in it, you can tell it is something she values. Also, if we look back at the birth of her son this past week we can tell she values religion in her life. Underwood and Fisher named their son Isaiah, which is a biblical name.
Being from a suburb of Atlanta country music is popular but Honky Tonk is not a thing. Two stepping is something that is well known from the rap song “2 Step” by DJ UNK. So this last weekend I ventured up to Dallas/Fort Worth and got to experience the world’s largest Honky Tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas. It was nothing like I could have ever imagined. The place was huge and full of people. When we first got there we went right into the bull-riding arena. The arena was just buzzing with excitement. Only two of the riders made it to the full eight seconds, however it was so thrilling to watch. The atmosphere that the arena brought was crazy. When the bull-riding was finished we moved to the dance floor to people watch. And let me just say Billy Bob’s attracts all different types of people. From old people to young people, all different types of ethnic groups, couples to just groups of friends, it was a very good people-watching scene. Some couples were such good dancers my friends and me were in awe of them, while others were just awkward and uncomfortable to watch. The good ones would work the whole floor doing dips and spins. Although at one point things got really weird, when a hired dance company called The House of Horrors, came on stage to perform a zombie version of a “Fifty Shade of Grey” dance. They were clearly promoting the release of the new movie this weekend but the dance was awful, uncomfortable to watch, and felt very out of place.
Sara Evans was the performer for the night, which I thought was huge because I grew up listening to her music. However, neither of my friends seemed to know any of her songs. My two favorite songs of hers that I listened to growing up were “Suds in a Bucket” and “Cheatin”. The first song she played was also her other big hit “Born to Fly” it was performed beautifully and she had the crowds full attention.
We did not stay for her whole performance because we also wanted to walk around the stockyards. It was so different from what I had expected, because we had been in downtown Fort Worth for dinner so when we arrived in the stockyards it was nothing I could have imagined. I felt like I had stepped into a small old country town and was not still in one of the biggest cities in Texas. Obviously, it was late at night at this point so we window shopped at the closed stores and peeked into the other bars to get a feel for what they were like. They all seemed very similar with people dressed to the nines in their boots, belt buckles, and cowboy hats. It was so interesting because even though everyone was dressed similarly there still were a wide variety of people everywhere. We left the stockyards and went to explore West 7th Street in downtown which is suppose to be the college area, and it was a drastic change as to where we had just been.
Over break I went to visit one of my best friends who happens to live in South Florida. Even though technically Florida is considered the South, we were in one of the least southern places, Miami. One night we were out shopping and looking around when we stumbled upon this restaurant called Tequila Cowboy. Obviously from living in Texas, tex-mex is one of our favorite foods so we thought that we would try it out. We walked into to the restaurant and it was one of the most stereotypical “country” places I have ever been to. There was a man and a guitar singing at the entrance, the décor was rustic with cowboy boots and trucks as decorations, and the waiters and waitresses were dressed to a tee in theme. However, the best part about the restaurant was that they had an electric bull and a karaoke bar attached. They were playing older country music over the speaker system, although it seemed like me and my friends were the only ones that knew the songs.
We ordered our margaritas (because who doesn’t get tequila at Tequila Cowboy) and started looking over the menu. The first thing noticed is that almost everything on the menu contains some form of barbeque. Whether it was pulled pork tacos to barbeque chicken enchiladas. They took the two main staples of Texas cuisine and tried to combine them. Don’t get me wrong, I know pulled pork tacos are a very normal dish but on their menu it seemed like they were trying too hard.
After dinner, we went to the next room to the karaoke bar. We were the only ones in there, when a man walks up to us and asks us if we “want to ride his bull”. We explained to him that we live in Texas and have ridden or have the opportunity to ride a bull on almost any night a week. Finally, the place started to fill up, meaning two more people walked in. The karaoke begins by the “dj” singing a George Strait song. Next up is the two other people in the bar, who happen to be this old man and a woman clearly half his age, watching them sing a love song had to be one of the most uncomfortable experiences out there.
We were up next and chose to sing “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks. We weren’t serious about our singing or anything we just got up there to have fun, which we did, but no one knew the song. More people began to trickle in at this point and we had a street audience since the stage was at a window. Yet there wasn’t an ounce of recognition of the song on anyone’s faces. We got up there, sang, got down, and left.
We had a blast in this cheesy stereotypical country restaurant. Granted the food wasn’t very good, their margaritas sucked, and no one knew the music. But I was with my two best friends and we had a great time.