I’ve Been A Long Time Leavin’

After over 12 years of discovering, enjoying and sharing country, Americana and roots music with people all over the world I’m finally packing it in.

This is a difficult decision. We are living in turbulent times, and much of our media – social and professional – fan that turbulence to gain attention (measured by “clicks” and “likes”) of an increasingly distracted population.

I’ve been made aware of widespread discrimination throughout the genre. I previously argued against systematic exclusion within the community but have recently been persuaded where there’s this much editorial smoke there must be a cultural fire somewhere? I mean when has human judgement ever been wrong?

What’s to be done? Inclusion at all cost! Open the door to allow more blues, jazz, rap, Tejano, Ikinimba, Ikinimba and other diverse styles that, until now, been shut out. I mean this can’t be an accident, right?

Pay no mind to individual, personal preferences or predilections based on taste and alignment with ones cultural identity. Like the cultural blinders hampering the privileged of their privilege, the oppressed are often unaware of their oppression. Never mind they never desired or sought entrance to the community, they’re very absence is proof of their systematic exclusion. Their absence in the community suggests systematic exclusion resulting from a plethora of structural problems you might say, has somehow resulted in the current hemogeneous state the genre finds itself in. Right?

These genres , practitioners and fans need to be co-opted…er…embraced.

By all means we need them as members, no matter their personal choice might be. We honor these people by ignoring their choice of autonomy which likely has been warped by contemporary western standards of “choice,’ “maturity’ and ‘respect. We need to attract diverse groups into the community even if we have to alter the very music for which theirs and our community was created in the first place. Diversity in identity is more important than diversity in styles and aesthetic distinctions.

No matter, boxes need to be checked to ease our crisis of existential justice.

Never mind that over the hundreds of artists that I’ve communicated with there has been zero mention of institutional exclusion based on race, gender or sexual preference. Ever, not one. That, in my experience, the community is kind, open and tends towards a progressive inversion to the Red State brand established by Music Row has no bearing. Denial is a powerful thing! There is, however, widespread institutional exclusion based on artistic merit – instrumentation, song structure and appeal, vocal style – which is in itself proof of barriers. Tear ’em down!

We attempt to take shelter from the storm of an uncertain world by cobbling shelter out of fragmented abstractions of ever more hyphenated identity. Then we assign a ‘worth’ to our fragile structure by comparing it to others we deem lesser or bad. In response we buttress our patchwork selves by tearing the offending others down. Sometimes through outright bigotry and fear. Sometimes through righteousness indignation to reshape the world and redress injustices real and imagined.

Until the Americana community – artists, fans, venue owners, sound mixers, etc – reflect some criteria of diversity I simply cannot in good consciousness continue traveling a road cobbled with exclusion and repression. At the very least the genre needs to be rebranded

What blend of humanity will result in a socially acceptable criteria of diversity? I’m not certain, but I’ll know it when I’m told by experts that a perfect equilibrium has been achieved. I mean I didn’t know there was a problem (the common privileged malady) until I was told there was one.

I’ll be checking in to the struggle from time-to-time to check on progress. Somebody let me know when we get there.

Twang Nation out.

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