Author Archives: Laura Morales

About Laura Morales

I am from Austin, Texas and I am a Radio, Television, and Film major.

Country Music is Around Us

Editor’s note: This is an example of Blog Post 5.

Before I started Rhetoric of Country music, the only experience I had with country music was  me actively seeking it through listening to it either on the radio or during a show. After going some of the assignments, I realized that country music is all around us!

To start, I went to the Texas Music Museum. Unfortunately, when I went the country music exhibit was not in display at this moment, but I did learn about Tejano music in Texas. I wish the country music display would have been available though, because I’m sure there would have been lists of the different artists and their backgrounds. I then went and had lunch at Threadgills on a typical Friday afternoon, and although it wasn’t brunch it was still great walking around the restaurant and seeing the pictures of the different artists (there was a section with a lot of Willie Nelson pictures there) and the southern vibe that the whole restaurant had.

Since those experiences kind of failed, I made sure I had other experiences and encounters with country music. Some of the ones I had throughout the semester are:

Watching ‘Cars’

Cars_2006I remember going to see Cars in theatres when I was young. The only thing I ever remember from the movie was the long scene when Lightning McQueen is driving and “Life is a Highway” was playing in the background. I decided to rewatch the movie, and I realized that there were country songs in the movie. I think at the time when I was little, I was taken back by the story line more than the actual music, even though I did love Rascal Flatt’s version of “Life is a Highway”. I think country music being involved in mainstream movies like this is good for the genre because it gives people the opportunity to listen to the songs without really realizing it’s country and judging it solely for it being country and quickly turn it off. And for kids, songs like “Find Yourself” and “Life is a Highway” are catchy tunes to introduce them to the genre and hopefully grow up to really like it!

Reading Texas Music Magazine 

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 8.04.33 PMI read February 2015’s edition of Texas Music  Extra. I had never heard of this magazine, let alone read it, but I did enjoy it. Even though it was informative, the information was clear and easy to read. I enjoyed that they had a good blend of well known artists like Miranda Lambert and Willie Nelson, but then they also mentioned local artists like Kasey Lansdale. Even though the magazine discussed different genres of Texas music, there was some about different country artists.

Visiting the Willie Nelson statue 12922335_992008737519006_1027440997_o

I also decided to pay a little visit to the bronze version of Willie Nelson. I also may or may not have attempted to face swap with Willie and got in trouble with the APD… I think it makes sense  that Austin decided to  rename it’s street to Willie Nelson Boulevard considering he has made a huge contribution to the city and has lived in Austin for a long time. I think the statue is in the perfect location because it sits outside of the Moody Theatre (which some people like to say he ‘christened’ the theatre because he performed on opening day) where ACL Live tends to tape!

After all of these different experiences, I noticed that country music is around us. It’s either in movies we watch, in our streets, at the restaurants we eat, or even aspiring or established artists among us, country music is there and makes a presence in every day life!


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5

Dan + Shay + a Memory

dan-shay-logo-652x367Unfortunately Spring Break is now behind us, and although this was a great one spent at SXSW, I have spent the past few days reminiscing over other experiences I have had at SXSW. In the past, I have had the opportunity to see many different artists, but among some of  my favorite performances, are Dan + Shay and Tori  Kelly (but this is about country music, so I’ll try to keep it that way. And it may have been because Tori Kelly was being serenaded by Dan + Shay, or it may have been Shay’s runs that made me have a memorable experience,  or the fact that their new single “From the Ground Up” is one of my favorite songs of the moment, but it’s definitely a memory I don’t forget!

Dan + Shay are an American country duo comprised of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. They both met at a party Dan had thrown at his house. Smyers has said that he hadn’t been able to afford to pay for there to be heat in his home, so in order  to keep his guests warm, they were all in a tent and all of the guests were huddled around a TV. To pass the time, and everyone at the party mostly being musicians (isn’t that what everyone does in Nashville?), Dan and Shay spontaneously started to jam out.

From that moment on, the two realized there was something there and decided to continue making music. Eventually they got signed to Warner Bros. Records Nashville and released their first single “19 You and Me”, along with other singles like “Stop, Drop, and Roll” and  “Nothing Like You”, all from their first studio album Where It All Began. They gained success and have received ACMA vocal duo nominations as well as a CMT nomination for their video “19 You and Me”. Dan + Shay have also been on tour with people like Hunter Hayes, Blake Shelton, and are about to embark on a summer tour with Darius Rucker!

tumblr_inline_n3f5ilYbvn1sb8vriThey performed at Banger’s Sausage House and Brewery at SXSW in 2014 for a SB projects showcase. Before their set, they stood around listening to the music and all of the artists going on before them. For a good 30 minutes Shay stood next to me drinking beer after beer, as I glanced his way fangirling on the inside, but too intimidated to talk to him. So for 30 minutes, I just stood there enjoying the music and processing the fact that 1/2 of Dan + Shay was next to me.

After a few hours, Dan + Shay took the stage. Not a lot of people were there for them, so it was easy to make my way to the front of the stage. With a wide smile on my face, I watched them perform. They sang their singles as well as other songs from their upcoming album. On stage, they bantered with one another, told stories, made the crowd cheer, and sang songs!

The greatest moments of the night for me were that Dan + Shay brought out Tori Kelly and serenaded her on “Somewhere Only We Know”. Eventually they started to talk about their performance to the IHeart Country  Festival and asked the crowd who was going. My friend yelled out that we weren’t going because the tickets had sold out, and they offered us tickets! My friend and I never actually got them, but it’s the thought that counts…right? The two of them continued to sing for the rest of their set. Dan sang and played guitar, and Shay impressed everyone with his runs. When their set was over, I was pretty sad, but they came out during Tori Kelly’s set along with all of the other artists that had performed that day and I got to see them again as everyone jammed out!

Overall it was an amazing experience! I was so close to them and I was able to sing along to their songs. They are entertaining performers, and every time I see videos of them or hear their songs, I quickly remember this moment!


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 4, Bro Country, Concert, Live Music

Scotty McCreery Tries to Keep It Country!

“First and foremost, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Scotty McCreery…and we are here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to sing you some country music”, is how Scotty McCreery tends to start some of his shows. Even from the first few minutes of his performance, you’re guaranteed to get some good ‘ol country music.

Scotty McCreery, 22, a country singer who is best known for winning a “tiny little show” (as he likes to call it) called American Idol. At 16, he auditioned  for the show with Josh Turner’s “Your Man” and  “Put some drive in your country” by Travis Tripp, and because of his deep voice and lower register people were blown away. McCreery, went on to the show and eventually became season 10’s American Idol.

Although Scotty is a country singer, he is more of a “new country/ kind of bro country” kind of guy. His first album Clear as Day has more of a “traditional country” music with the banjos and the guitars as well as a pop sound, but the second album See You Tonight, has pop/rock elements. Each album does have a few distinct songs that prove he’s a country singer. His first single, “I Love You This Big”, is country enough to be country, but also not too country that the average Top 40 listener wouldn’t be able to enjoy. One of his favorite songs is “Carolina Moon” from his second album. He said that his focus on the third album is to have the same sound as this song, a more “traditional country sound”.

12767882_965068543546359_1847658702_oAt his shows he likes to explain that the producers would try to get him to sing songs that were out of the country music genre on Idol, but he would refuse because that is not who he was. He then asks the audience if it’s okay if they keep it country for the rest of the night. Of course, a lot of the fans are country music fans so that makes them happy, and the rest of the fans are Scotty fans and let’s be real for a second, they’ll cheer for anything he says!

It makes sense that he’d want to keep it more traditional. I mean, he’s been influenced by many country artists. He says that because of his sister he listed to artists like Backstreet boys, he was singing thing’s like “Conway’s Hello Darlin’…and Elvis Presley too, lord have mercy!”. Before starting his medley he likes to say that “nowadays things have changed a little bit, and it’s not a good thing or a bad thing because everything changes over time, but for me it does not change the fact that I, Scotty McCreery, have a love for country music. So with that said, I’d like to sing you…and take you back.. and sing you some good old fashion country music”. With his little spiel out of the way, he goes on and sings songs like “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley, “Mountain Music” by Alabama or “Check Yes or No” by George Strait. With every tour, he changes the songs in his medley. There’s two things that remain true within this medley, he always plays an Elvis song because like he likes to say “Elvis was my duuuuuuude”, and that he likes to reiterate that “I am country!”.

In case you’re interested in hearing him impersonate Elvis Presley:

And here’s him covering two more classic country songs at the Grand Ole Opry just for the heck of it!

“Hello Darlin’”

“The Dance”


Filed under Blog Post 3, Bro Country, Country Pop, Country Rock, Live Music

A Day at the Fair

One summer day back in 2005, my family and I decided to go to the Alameda County Fair in Alameda, California. I knew that it would be a day filled with lots of fun, sun, rides, and memories. Little did I know, my memories and music taste were about to change for the better.

After around 6 hours of walking around the fair, my 10 year old self could no longer keep up. The day had been spent making the most of the unlimited ride wristband, going to the petting zoo, and eating the different fair snacks. Since both my 5 year old brother and I were exhausted, we decided to sit down at the bleachers in front of a small stage, to recharge before making the most of our last few hours at the fair. My parents, brother, and I were the only ones at the bleachers, accidentally making us the audience for the performer that was soon about to come out.

miko2The lights started to shine towards the middle of the stage. I heard the guitar strumming and all of a sudden a girl with dark skin and dark curly locks came out with a bright smile. “Hello, my name is Miko Marks, I hope you guys are ready for some country music!”

Miko Marks explained that she was originally from Mississippi (later moved to San Francisco) and that she would be playing the music off of her first album Freeway Bound” that had been recently released.

At first, to be completely honest, I was bored because I wasn’t used to hearing ballads and country music. I listened respectfully, and although I didn’t know the music, somehow I had been captivated. After performing a few songs off her album, she proceeded to sing a song called “Mama”, which was the song that changed everything for me. I had never heard of her or her music, but she had an inviting aura around her and her chorus was catchy.

For the rest of the show, I had a smile on my face and nodded my head to the music. I questioned why other people weren’t stopping to listen to her music, she was so good! Some people would stop and listen for a song, and then proceed to enjoy the fair. All I knew was that I was glad my brother and I had been really tired because it led us to enjoy her music.

After the show, she came up to us. I felt like the star, but it should have been the other way around! She told us we were the cutest little things. We took a picture with her and she gave me her guitar pick. She had albums and merchandise for sale, and since she had been so kind to us, I think we might have felt obligated to pick up her cd, but at the same time we had enjoyed her music, so we ended up buying one.

From that moment on, I would carry my Miko Marks cd everywhere I went and soon started to venture out to other country music. My mom started sharing her love of Kenny Rogers and my dad his love of Johnny Cash, and I started finding other artists that I liked. If it wasn’t for the warm Miko Marks’ encounter and her song “Mama”, I would not have found my appreciation for country music.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Concert, Live Music, Women

Growing Closer

A community I belong to is my group of friends, best friends to be exact. Despite high school being a place where you discover yourself and your interests, I managed to meet 5 stranger sand they became my best friends. All of us of with similar, yet different backgrounds, nationalities, aspirations and taste.

Each one of us has a distinct music taste. Some of them prefer Spanish music, others like pop while others are into rock, and others like country. Personally, I fall into the category that listens to a little bit of everything.  Every time we get in a car, the big debate breaks out, who’s music choice will we be stuck listening to the whole ride? You definitely want to be the one who gets the aux cord, so you aren’t miserable if you hate the other person’s music choice. And I’m sure many people can relate to this. Luckily for my group of friends, we’ve come to be in these situations so often that we now like each other’s music, and although we may not be crazy for the genre, we’re at least able to tolerate it!

The one genre that brings us to agreement is country music. Yes, there are debates over who we think is a better artist whether it be Sam Hunt, Hunter Hayes, Kenny Chesney, George Strait or Johnny Cash, but it allows us to come together and share something. Now that we have gone off to different colleges and cities, we’ve grown a bit apart, but whenever we are together or are logged on to our group chats we mention new music we are currently into or songs we are relating to at the moment.

Since my friends are hispanic, our other friends and family aren’t used to listening to country music. I don’t think that they have anything against the music, but it isn’t something that the majority of the hispanic community is listening to in huge numbers. It sometimes sets us apart from the rest of the group and when we choose country music to play with others, we get a look of bewilderment and a “you like country music?”. The fact that it sets us apart from the rest allows us to come together more because it is something we share with one another. Country songs are about telling stories and being able to relate to one another which is why it’s able to bring my group of friends closer together. Music has the power to make people happy and bring them together, but country songs in particular are about people and different kinds of relationships. And due to this it gives us a kind of bond that we wouldn’t be able to experience in other ways.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Class work