The news that MacEwan University has launched “Distinguished Visiting Artist in Country Music” workshops as part of its music program, and that Brett Kissel will be the campaign’s honorary chair, has raised some raised eyebrows among some former nerds of MacEwan music – like me.
Having attended (but not graduated due to road tripping with various bad bar bands) for two years in the early 1980s, there wasn’t a whiff of country in the curriculum. It was all about jazz. Country people were ridiculed, shunned and shamed. In fact, there were no country people. And now… well, damn it, here we are.
Full disclosure: I don’t like country music, especially the slick commercial radio shit that sounds like what was all the rage in mainstream rock 20 years ago, in songs about trucks or women or women. alcohol, with barely a twang to distinguish it from Nickelback, or Katy Perry as the case may be. Oh sure, give me Johnny Cash singing Nine Inch Nails, or maybe something Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, but are these artists on CISN? They are not.
Add to that the infiltration of Shania Twain songs on the top 40 local radio stations; the fact that CISN is No. 1 in the latest local radio ratings; that Cook County Saloon is hosting live shows again (after a long hiatus of which the pandemic was only a part) and it’s clear what’s going on here: country music is taking over. He is making a comeback. That’s what’s plugged in. No need to fight him any longer.
So let’s celebrate the return of country music’s biggest male star, Sir Garth Brooks, playing Saturday, June 25 at Commonwealth Stadium. Tickets go on sale May 6.
The last time Garth was in town was in 2017 – when he booked NINE shows in a row at Rogers Place. Here’s a gig review, in which it was reported that he came to “raise the hell up a bit”. Don’t we have enough hell here already?
In news from other countries, Chris Stapleton brings his All American Roadshow to Rogers Place on Wednesday, May 11 – but it’s the opening act that excites me: Elle Kingdaughter of actor Rob Schneider and singer of the alternative-slash-folk hit Ex and Oh. She killed at the 2015 Interstellar Rodeo (which sadly isn’t anymore) and has a ton of new music.
If you judge a headliner by the type of medium they choose, it might not be so bad – for country music.
READ MORE: A very long essay on the state of country music in Edmonton in 2011.