Chris Stapleton: A Win For The Good Guys
When I decided to make the move from Maine to Nashville, it wasn't in an attempt to be added to country music’s mainstream players roster. Listening to the country stations in the car was generally accompanied by this sequence of emotions:
- Anger at how the genre continues to shed layer after layer of what makes country music unique for the hope of appealing to a wider and increasingly younger audience. In other words, a perpetual musical money grab.
- More anger at how just about every song on the current charts employs the same formula both musically and lyrically making it hard to distinguish one song or artist from the other.
- Discouragement that I was entering a universe that would be turned off to the music I love to make which respects country music traditions, favors vulnerably over the party life and sung by someone who ain’t winning any beauty contests.
Enter Chris Staplton.
CMA winner of 3 major awards last Wednesday - New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year. The media outlets are all calling his wins a surprise and they’re right on two different levels.
- It was a surprise for the majority of mainstream country fans because they never heard of the guy.
- It was a surprise for guys like me who have been enamored by Stapleton’s genius for years but who never thought he’d be able to break through the party lines of bro country and polished pop that dominates the country charts.
But he did and Stapleton’s big night and subsequent sales spike for his debut album Traveller is a huge victory for all the music makers out there who want to have careers in country music but who don’t identify with the playlists on mainstream radio.
I had the pleasure of playing a gig with Stapleton in Portland, ME a few years back and he was about as humble and gracious as you can get. You would have never known that he had written all those hits or that he was the genuine badass that he most certainly is.
I wish I could say the same for some of the other up and coming artists working hard to get in line with the current flavor of the day.
Tides are turning and good things are happening here in Nashville that’s spreading to music fans at large. The popularity of Bro Country is dwindling while artists like Stapleton, Brandy Clark, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson are stealing hearts without movie star looks, major label support or radio airplay.
It’s time for the good guys and gals to win again.