Following the ongoing trend of Music City tapping Americana music for source material and injecting some vibrant blood to an all but stagnant (but lucrative) genre, the old-time string band, Old Crow Medicine Show was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry by Opry member Marty Stuart during their concert at the Ohio Theatre in Cleveland, OH.
They will formally be inducted into the Opry at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville on Tues., Sept. 17.
In recent years Music Row has been looking to Americana music for new ideas, market trends and extending demographic appeal.
Sure the Opry has lost cred for ignoring great performers and casting out key members of the country music community (Hank Sr. anyone?) but it is an institution that provides a stage for broad exposure and, rightly or not, credibility.
There’s is no magic formula the Opry uses to choose who is asked to join. It’s a mix of sound, commitment, (gasp) popularity and what the Opry calls “relationships.” Relationships like backing Darius Rucker on the Orey stage for Bob Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel.”
Here are 5 Americana artists that, like Old Crow Medicine Show, would fit comfortably on the Opry stage.
The Dixie Chicks – Yeah I know, but the Chicks were always an Americana band to me. I know they and the country music industry had disagreements, but there’s no denying their positive (and lucrative) impact on the genre.
in 1986 Dwight Yoakam rescued country music from the Urban Cowboy blight and reminded people why it was fun, heartfelt and brave in the first place. Rarely has there been a better meeting of traditional and mainstream success then Yoakam? And he’s still going strong, though his new album, 3 Pears, isn’t up for CMA awards it’s up for Americana Music Awards.
Does any contemporary performer embody the sound, style and spirit of all that is great in country music more than Elizabeth Cook? The answer is no way. She’s a fan favorite and has been asked by the Opry to perform on their stage over 100 (!) times. It’s time to make it official.
For 11 albums over a 20-year career Robbie Fulks has been playing smart trad-leaning country music. Sure he hd some choice words for music row (made plain in his song “Fuck This Town.”) But Fulks disdain for the industry and love for the musical heritage is exactly what the Opry needs to gain cred.
As a member of The Byrds Gram Parsons played the Opry stage on March 1968. The band was asked to play play two Merle Haggard songs (“Sing Me Back Home” and “Life In Prison.”) The first song song won over the skeptical crowd (LONGHAIRS!) And Parsons (who was a big Merle Haggard fan) substituted “Life In Prison” for his own “Hickory Wind,” from The Byrds then current album “Sweethearts of the Rodeo,” in honor of his Grandmother, a huge Opry fan. As expected the management were pissed but the crowd and some of that night’s performers, loved it.