Pop-Country Does Not Equal Real Country/Good Music

My dad is excited about Travis Tritt stopping in CU tonight to play at Assembly Hall. Me? Not so much. While there was a time in my younger years when I was forced to listen to the absolute pile of shit that country music unleashed on the nation starting in the ’80s, I never fell for it. Don’t mistake the last sentence to mean that I’ve written off the genre itself. No, no. It’s just that the decade of the ’80s was particularly hard for country music, and the ’90s spawned the hell that is pop-country. A look deeper into the vault at the classics (Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline) is always welcomed by me, and I’ve even been beefing up my vinyl collection accordingly. But Tritt (who I would certainly rate ahead of shit like Kenny Chesney and that guy who wrote the song about the ticks) is not for me. My father’s enthusiasm did, however, lead me to the Web page for Assembly Hall, which then lead to much head-scratching. For one, I couldn’t believe that there were shows in the upcoming couple of weeks that I hadn’t even heard about. Also, the artists themselves were a bit of a puzzle. I understand wanting to appeal to a broad audience while also satisfying students, but I can’t remember the last time there was an Assembly Hall show that really excited me. This year’s lineup doesn’t seem like it will break the streak. American Idol winner — she won, didn’t she? I mean, the charts don’t agree, but I think Daughtry was out in third or fourth — Jordin Sparks is coming. Alright. Hey, so is O.A.R.! That’ll be a lot of fun, with all of the getting puked on by drunk, underage high school and college kids. The success of this band baffles me in the same way that the army of girls dressed in Uggs, sweats and North Face jackets does — maybe even as much as guys with popped collars and upside-down visors. But, hey, those folks will be the primary makeup of the crowd at that show, so I guess it all works out. I remember being dragged to an O.A.R. show three days after 9/11 and having to listen to a bunch of idiots screaming and talking when the band asked for a moment of silence. “Can we have a moment of silence?” “YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAH!!!!” Ugh.
Before that long paragraph forced its way out of my brain, the point was to talk about how Travis Tritt’s drummer, David Northrup, will be putting on a free clinic at Skins-n-Tins drum shop in downtown Champaign (skinsntins.com). The guy is a Nashville pro, and free drum clinics are always fun. For you campustown drummers/musicians who might not be aware of the store itself, believe me when I tell you that you will be blown away by the place. It is famous amongst touring musicians from all around the country. Check out the Web site, or stop by the shop at 5 p.m. this evening for the clinic.
In other news from around the scene, there will be a benefit for Invisible Conflicts at the Canopy Club this Monday evening. Invisible Conflicts (invisibleconflicts.org) is in line next to Invisible Children in the fight to aid the child soldiers of northern Uganda. This group is local to UIUC and Loyola, though, and will present a 6:30 p.m. show featuring campus favorite Underpaid Packy in the headlining spot, along with Ryan Groff (of Elsinore), Carl Hauck (of Carl Hauck) and Desert Fever. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Check out IC’s Web site to find out more about what you can do to help raise awareness.
Feeling more like a balls-out rock show? Check out Mike ‘n Molly’s Thursday night when Terminus Victor dominates the upstairs room. For $3, you can catch a band frequently named “loudest,” “most hard-rocking” and “most likely to cause a run on fingerless gloves.” T Vic will share the stage with St. Louis band The Bureau (myspace.com/thebureau) and Golden Territory.
And of course, the other big show for the week is Islands at the IMC in downtown Urbana. The bill has recently solidified with CU rapper Cornbread opening and Headlights taking the middle position. That is one ridiculous night full of great acts. I’m anticipating it being so good that I’ll be forced to shoot pepper spray into the crowd. That’s what you do at good shows now, right? Showtime is 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $13 in advance while they last!

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