I am a Western Music singer and have had the great satisfaction of just participating in a program I originated. The Western Music Association - Kansas Chapter has now put it on twice. KANSAS-HOME ON THE RANGE is the story of Kansas in song, poetry, narration, and video celebrating Kansas 150th year of statehood. All participants were Kansans, some coming back from out of state to participate. The Governor, Wichita Mayor, and 4th district Congressman were on hand to greet the crowd and kick off the show. It was evident that they all enjoyed the show. We have also gotten a lot of good comments about it.
There was a symphony that was hand picked by the conductor of the Hutchinson Symphony that provide support and a wonderful sound. At the city's request we added a group of drummers and dancers from the All American Indian Center. We also added the African American group Arise, Mexican youth Charro trick ropers, and the Asian Dance group to round out the story of immigration and the diversity of our culture.
The western artists in combination with the diverse talent created an educational and enjoyable afternoon. So now I get back to the point of this blog.
Western Music was once a part of the Nashville Country & Western. When the music industry was bought by the Japanese and Dutch they asked how we can make the most money from this industry. The answer was the pop music model from the west coast. Western, acoustic, and the other genre' that fall under the 'Western' catagory were dismissed from the major labels and modern 'country' radio.
Western and all it's components are truely the music of the people, the people of the land and the western experience. It can incorporate Bluegrass, Western Swing, Classic Country, Folk, Ethnic, Big Band, Broadway, and the traditional songs of the west. Even the movie cowboy songs are an important part of Western.
So what happened to Western? It is alive and well. There are hundreds of artists many belonging to the Western Music Association and the Academy of Western Artists. How come you don't hear them? You generally have to be at a live concert, festival, or purchase independent produced CD's and downloads.
There are two universal things that every artist hears after a show. One is, we brought our (daughter, son, granddaughter, grandson, neice, nephew, ect.) kicking and screaming to this show and when they heard the music, they loved it.
The second thing that is said is "this is the music I always loved and just forgot about". People are dictated to everytime they turn on the radio, TV, or read an industry magazine about the offerings of the mainstream industry and tell them that this is what they love. In the 50's music and radio people went to court over the paying to play certain music. This is still happening legally today because of the interdependence of the two. Is money changing hands? You bet but it goes around the law and is now 'just business'. Sounds familiar, oh yes it is from the Godfather as a person is about to be whacked they always say "it is just business not personal".
What can you do to bring back the music you love and wrestle control from the industry bosses? First you quit buying music from acts that are no more than bad rock and roll.
Second - you find artists that you love in Western and other independents and buy it.
Third - go to the shows and support Western when you can.
Fourth - and most important, call in requests for your favorite artist to the radio stations and have your friends call and create the demand that the radio will have to find the music and put it on the air.
Another thing is to tell the advertisers that you are not happy with the mix at the stations they do business with.
And the most effective with all these combined, start a petition to the radio stations, their ownership group, and the TV programs that ignore the artists for the 'Hat Acts'.
Send copies of the petitions to the Grand Ole Opry, RFD TV, CMT Network, PBS, and other networks and producers that exclude the Americana mix of Western artists.
You know there is no more effective way to affect change than with your pocket book. Money is the universal language that all those involved understand.
This is my View From the Hill.