Friday, October 1, 2010

Country Music Month - The Texas Connection featuring Garth Brooks

It was 1991, I think, when I  met a young man who, in a few weeks, would set Country Music on its ear. A young man who would make selling 10 million or more albums almost routine, instead of unheard of. At the time I met him, he had had a couple of hits that set the tone for what was about to happen - If Tomorrow Never Comes and Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old. You've figured it by now that I am talking about Troyal Garth Brooks. I talked with Garth before one of his shows in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was just me and him in a very relaxed atmosphere, backstage at the concert venue. It wasn't so much an interview as it was a conversation. We talked about everything under the sun, but music was at the heart of our visit. He told me to look out for a particular song that was going to be his next single, Friends in Low Places. Little did I know what would happen when he tore into that song. Garth was going ape on the stage, the crowd was going ape in their seats and then Garth went into the audience singing his ass of, high fiving people and generally working the crowd into a frenzy like I had never seen at country concert. And this crowd was sober! The auditorium EXPLODED and stayed exploded for the rest of the show. This was almost like Elvis in concert. It was nuts! Garth got called for several encores, each "encore, encore!" louder than the last! I got the feeling at that point that this chubby, balding guy from Tulsa just might become a star. After sales of more than two hundred million albums, I suppose it was a pretty good guess. By the way that 200 million number includes the time Garth was "in retirement" for about eight years and not cranking out two or three albums a year. During our conversation, Garth told me how much playing in Texas meant to him, "If you can make it in Texas, you can make it anywhere". That's why I included Garth in the Texas Connection to country music. The question I get asked most about Garth has to be "what's he like?" Garth Brooks is just like you and me. He's a regular guy. He is extremely polite and very friendly and probably the best show man I have ever seen in person - on stage he's an animal. Off stage, a pussycat.

Texas Tidbits : A Special Birthday & Country Music Month

Today is the first day of October and that means two things to me. One, today is my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday, Teri!!! We love you! The second thing about today is that it marks the beginning of Country Music Month. I was in the radio bidness for over 15 years and country music was my thing. I learned about country music from people that knew the music - Big Jim Russell being my main mentor. In the process, I soaked up information about country music like a sponge. I came to appreciate the honesty, simplicity, imagery and lyrics of country music as well as the availability of the artists. Ninety-nine per cent of them were just down home folks like you and me, willing and eager to talk the DJ's who played there music and the fans that bought their records. I was lucky enough to have interviewed, drank beer and whiskey with and picked the brains of some the greatest country artists of all time. Some names that come to mind are Hank, Jr, Willie Nelson, Reba, Ernest Tubb, Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, Faron Young, Garth Brooks  and dozens of others. In honor of these men and women, I plan on doing a post a day featuring them and their music throughout the month of October. It'll be a lot of fun to do and even more fun to learn about the people who, through their unique individual talents, have become the best at what they do. So, saddle up! It's Country Music Month on Three States Plus One!

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