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If That Ain't Country

If That Ain't Country

Author: Western Red

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Some call it old country; classic country; real country. We call it traditional country, and that's exactly what we do here at "If That Ain't Country".

For three hours each week, we feature the very best traditional country, honky tonk, bluegrass and western swing from the golden years 'til today. It's pretty simple but we think you'll like it.

Hosted by Western Red - it's US country with an Australian twist, keeping true to the traditions that make country great.

With a genuine love and deep respect for the foundations of the genre, the legends are right alongside the best of today's independent artists - a mix you won't find anywhere else.

For more information, email: westernred@ifthataintcountry.net.

Become a supporter of this podcast (with thanks!!): www.patreon.com/ifthataintcountry
130 Episodes
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In this week's episode we're jumping in the semi and travelling north to get our twang on with Winnipeg's Sean Burns & Lost Country. One of only a handful of traditional country acts playing that city, Burns and the band stayed busy in 2020. In between lockdowns they managed a Bakersfield EP and our feature album this week: an all big rig affair on "We Gotta Lotta Truckin' To Do" (2020). Anchored by Burns' unique and in-your-face delivery (bending notes within an inch of their lives), Lost Country race through a familiar-yet-fresh set of 13 truckin' covers (including one original). Leaning on the legends of this high-energy subgenre, renditions of songs made famous by Dave Dudley, Red Sovine, Del Reeves, Dick Curless and The Willis Brothers will keep your eyes wide and on the road. Recorded at their home away from home in the historic Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club in Winnipeg, "We Gotta Lotta Truckin' To Do" is a twangalicious and infectious slice of Sean Burns & Lost Country live and we couldn't help but include the whole dang thing in this week's show.
Box o' 45s: Red Steagall

Box o' 45s: Red Steagall

2021-05-2703:10:51

Red Steagall maintains that he was twenty-five years old before he knew anything other than mesquite trees, buffalo grass, barbed wire and Bob Wills. But after a move from his Texas Panhandle home to Hollywood in 1965, Steagall learnt quickly. During twenty years in the music business he worked with many of the biggest artists, producers, songwriters and musicians in country history. From running the West Coast office of United Artists Records to pitching songs to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin with Jimmy Bowen as part of Amos Publications, Steagall learnt the ropes from the business end. His own solo career never reached the heights it should have and though he might not be a national household name, Steagall's western swing-infused country music catalogue remains sorely overlooked: from a box of 45RPM singles, this week's show is a deep dive into Steagall's cavernous body of work and a chance to re-discover "Texas Red".
Ep. 443 - Dawn Sears

Ep. 443 - Dawn Sears

2021-05-0702:41:36

Gifted with perfect pitch, technique and vocal control, Dawn Sears remains a criminally underappreciated country talent. There were few voices in recent memory quite like Sears': every time she opened her mouth to sing, you could see her soul. This week it's a stack of Dawn Sears at her country best - from two major label albums, one independent a couple with western swingers The Time Jumpers, Sears' career is thoroughly worth revisiting.
Big, bright, bold, vivid, colourful and appealing - it could only be a Starday album! And that's what we've got this time for another piece of bonus content this week - usually exclusive to our Patreon members - it's called "COVER TO COVER", where we take a great traditional country album and play it right the way through, from front to back, in order and in full. And trust me when I say it's music you won't hear anywhere else - we specifically check to make sure our COVER TO COVER albums aren't on Spotify before featuring! Aside from the regular show, we'll be doing COVER TO COVER at least once a month for our Patreon members at any level and intermittently I will be releasing a COVER TO COVER episode as a podcast to you here, but for the most part, this feature is intended as a piece of bonus content - so enjoy! This time we go cover to cover on a typical Starday album for The Willis Brothers: "Road Stop: Juke Box Hits" (1965). The unmistakable high hillbilly harmony of The Willis Brothers found at home at Starday and they enjoyed their biggest hits in the early 60s, including (as on this album) plenty of cleverly-written uptempo novelty material.
In this week's episode we're featuring the first of three albums compiled on the sensational Curtis Potter on Heart Of Texas Records: "Them Old Honky Tonks". Plucked from a budding career in Abilene in his late teens, Potter joined Hank Thompson's legendary Brazos Valley Boys as frontman and bass player and released his first solo album on Hank T.'s own label (Dot) in 1971. A working relationship with legendary producer and songwriter Ray Pennington began in about 1974 at RCA, but by the mid 80s Potter found himself without a contract. Initially co-founded by Pennington with the intention of giving Curtis Potter a home to record at, Step One Records was formed in 1984 and in those mid 80s, Potter and Pennington were busy in studio. The majority of that material, for whatever reason, remained unreleased until Pennington handed it over (with his blessing) to Potter, who sought to have it released at Heart Of Texas Records. Transferred untouched from the original reel-to-reel tapes, "Them Old Honky Tonks" became the first of three compiled albums from Potter's mid 80s time at Step One on Heart Of Texas: heavy on the honky tonk shuffles and heavy on twin fiddles and steel guitar. Curtis Potter, as a student of the "Ray Price school of singing", is in fine voice on this collection - unearthed from a period when Potter and Pennington were making some of the finest hard country music never heard until now.NB. Big thanks to Justin Trevino for the help in compiling this episode!
In this week's episode we're featuring an album from the commercial peak of singing cowboy Chris LeDoux: "Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy" (1992). LeDoux's talent with a cowboy song earnt him a loyal fanbase and impressive sales as an independent artist over 22 albums in the 18 years to 1990. However, legitimate national stardom eluded him until a young Garth Brooks namechecked his idol in "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" in 1989. Though radio barely allowed him a "hit", LeDoux's fanbase only continued to grow on the back of his signing with Liberty/Capitol as well as his relatable and sometimes high-energy material and stage show. Despite pyrotechnics and coast-to-coast touring, LeDoux remained a humble, down-to-earth and sometimes shy family man who's inspiration for music remained in the sport of rodeo, his wife, kids and life in The West.
In this week's episode we're featuring a killer all-original album from classic country torchbearer Dale Watson: "Whiskey Or God" (2006). After stints in Houston, Los Angeles and Nashville, Watson ended up in Austin, Texas around the time a record deal with Hightone came to fruition in the mid 90s. Over the next decade or so, Watson established himself in that city as a very popular draw and around the world as a staunch traditionalist whose music hails back to a time when Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash ruled the airwaves. The five or six years leading up to "Whiskey Or God" were tough for Watson - his girlfriend's sudden passing in 2000 was the catalyst for a particularly rough stretch - and there was even very serious talk about giving up music for good. Thankfully, Watson was able to turn it around and "Whiskey Or God" proved he hadn't missed a beat. Fourteen all-original and sensationally twangy tracks made it exceptionally hard to narrow down the playlist for this week's show: highlights incude a handful of two-step floor fillers like "Sit, Drink And Cry" and "It Hurts So Good"; a cut later found on the "Truckin' Sessions" trilogy twangs to perfection on "No Help Wanted" and the cajun fiddle and Watson's Lone Stars rip through the infectious "I Ain't Be Right, Since I've Been Left". "Whiskey Or God" is just another Dale Watson album. They're all that good.
In this week's episode we're featuring the third album from one of the neo-traditional movement's shining lights: Holly Dunn's "Across The Rio Grande" (1988). In this reviewer's estimation, the late 80s saw only a handful of female country voices making honest-to-goodness roots-inspired country music, of which Dunn was one (another being Patty Loveless); and on this, her third album and final for MTM Records, Holly Dunn took on a much bigger production role. "Across The Rio Grande" was a mostly stripped-down affair compared to Dunn's previous offerings - there was barely an electric instrument to be seen (except maybe a bass, according to Dunn). There's some excellent songwriting with her brother Chris Waters as well as a couple of chart singles which did well enough, but the real strength lies in the heartfelt delivery of album cuts including the tender (and poignant, given Dunn's untimely passing) "On The Wings Of An Angel" and the yearning "Just Across The Rio Grande". A fine textured and multi-layered album from one of the neo-traditional era's finest young talents.
Howdy hard country fans! I thought it was time to release another piece of bonus content this week - usually exclusive to our Patreon members - it's called "COVER TO COVER", where we take a great traditional country album and play it right the way through, from front to back, in order and in full. And trust me when I say it's music you won't hear anywhere else - we specifically check to make sure our COVER TO COVER albums aren't on Spotify before featuring! Aside from the regular show, we'll be doing COVER TO COVER at least once a month for our Patreon members at any level and intermittently I will be releasing a COVER TO COVER episode as a podcast to you here, but for the most part, this feature is intended as a piece of bonus content - so enjoy! This time we go cover to cover on the one and only album Johnny Paycheck ever recorded for the short-lived Certron Records. After legendary producer Aubrey Mayhew's Little Darlin' Records went bust in 1969, he scrambled to keep the operation going and partnered with Certron Corporation, bringing a chunk of his roster and his signature hard country sound with him. It didn't last long though, and Paycheck's "Again" is one of the final original era examples of the Little Darlin' Sound that traditional country fans have come to love.
Jesse Daniel - Rollin' On

Jesse Daniel - Rollin' On

2021-02-1802:35:351

In this week's episode we're taking a long overdue dive into the sophomore album from California young gun Jesse Daniel: "Rollin' On" (2020). Co-produced by A-class steel man Tommy Detamore, this album rips right out of the gate. An all-original project, this collection is packed with punchy, catchy and relatable writing and rarely lets up on the high-energy twang - the reaction to "Rollin' On" reflects how well put together this album is. Indeed, excellent sales and streaming stats got the attention of plenty of industry players, but Daniel remains proudly independent on his own imprint Die True Records. With harmony vocals and several co-writes from Daniel's partner Jodi Lyford, highlights are plentiful: the colourful story of "Champion"; the clever metaphor of "Mayo And The Mustard"; a road-trip in song on "Tar Snakes" and the wistful ode to Daniel's hometown of Ben Lomond, CA in "Son Of The San Lorenzo". One full listen will be all it takes to understand why "Rollin' On" was at or near the top of so many "Best Of 2020" lists. Simply superb.
In this week's episode we're featuring the debut of Tennessean David Wills: "Barrooms To Bedrooms" (1975). Wills, only 23 years old at the time, was taken under the wing of Epic labelmate Charlie Rich who produced this project (as well as his second album, rushed out in the second half of '75 to capitalise on "Barrooms To Bedrooms"). Apparently driven by a desire to give back and help Wills get a leg up in country music, four Charlie Rich compositions ended up on the final product, handled wonderfully by the natural country baritone of David Wills. An accomplished writer and multi-instrumentalist himself, Wills' interpretation of jukebox-ready originals like "There's A Song On The Jukebox", "The Barmaid" as well as the Rich-penned "Sittin' And Thinkin" and "My Mountain Dew" are remarkably strong for a man who seems to have disappeared as a recording artist post-1990. A hard country debut so solid that even Rich (perhaps jokingly) admitted jealousy at Wills' ability to interpret a country song.
In this week's episode we're featuring the studio version of an event which became an Austin, Texas institution: "Happy Birthday Buck: A Texas Salute To Buck Owens" (2002). When a couple of accomplished Austin-area musicians in Casper Rawls and Tom Lewis started kicking around the idea to hold a Buck Owens birthday party, they didn't think anyone would show up. It was mostly just an excuse to pick on some Bakersfield Sound and have some fun. But on August 12, 1992 (Buck's 63rd birthday), the legendary Continental Club was a full house and the event was so popular that Buck Owens Birthday Bash became an annual event. Over 25 years, Buck's Birthday Bash attracted local musicians and legends alike, and this week's feature album commemorates ten years with a stack of names (some regular Birthday Bash attendees, some just admirers) covering Owens' hits, from the big ones to the lesser known gems - with contributions from David Ball, Rick Trevino, Rosie Flores, Jim Lauderdale, Libbi Bosworth, Jeff Hughes, Ray Benson and one very special guest who made Buck's 1995 Birthday Bash one for the history books!
Welcome back to 2021! To get us going this year, we're releasing a recent piece of bonus content, usually exclusive to our Patreon members - it's called "COVER TO COVER", where we take a great traditional country album and play it right the way through, from front to back, in order and in full. And trust me when I say it's music you won't hear anywhere else - we specifically check to make sure our COVER TO COVER albums aren't on Spotify before featuring! Aside from the regular show, we'll be doing COVER TO COVER at least once a month for our Patreon members at any level and intermittently I will be releasing a COVER TO COVER episode as a podcast to you here, but for the most part, this feature is intended as a piece of bonus content - so enjoy! This time we go cover to cover on Mel Street's final full-length, original studio album of his career: "Country Soul" (1978). A hardcore country traditionalist, "Country Soul" contains plenty of cheating songs (Street's forte) as well as his last Top 10 hit. Country gold!
I'll admit that in the past I've generally not counted myself much of a fan of Christmas music. But in the last few years, I guess I've become less Grinch-y and so when the opportunity to take part in an all-vinyl episode of a popular local radio show, I jumped at the chance! Actually, I borrowed my wife's classic country Christmas vinyl collection (with thanks!), ditched my hardline traditionalist stance (for an hour), embraced the greater classic country genre and with host Leigh Wood, we got to play some classics, some novelties and a whole bunch of classic country Christmas music on The KUAF Vinyl Hour. We swapped the fiddle and steel for jingle bells and lush Christmassy choruses, but it was heaps of fun. Maybe you'll enjoy it too! Merry Christmas! - WR [Originally aired on KUAF 91.3FM Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday 19th December, 2020].
PART TWO OF TWO: 2020 has been an awful year for everybody. But for country music, this year seems to have been especially devastating. I can't remember a year where so many country icons have been taken - it seems like we've barely had the time to mourn the passing of one country star when another one has passed. It's been utterly exhausting for me to wrap my head around, personally. But the loss of Charley Pride in December of 2020 was different. Pride was a giant of the genre, no doubt about it, and all his trailblazing aside, Pride's buttery vocal and most of his catalogue fit our format down to a T here at "If That Ain't Country". His was a big loss indeed. And so, I thought it fitting to re-release an archival episode of the show which originally aired in February of 2019. Bear with my presenting style if you can (we're always learning, but even more so back then haha): the music enclosed on "From Me To You" is typically excellent. An icon remembered this week on the show - I hope you and yours are staying safe! And despite it all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! - WR
PART ONE OF TWO: 2020 has been an awful year for everybody, no doubt about it. But for country music, this year seems to have been especially devastating. I can't remember a year where so many country icons have been taken - it seems like we've barely had the time to mourn the passing of one country star when another one has passed. It's been utterly exhausting for me to wrap my head around, personally. But the loss of Charley Pride in December of 2020 was different. Pride was a giant of the genre, no doubt about it, and all his trailblazing aside, Pride's buttery vocal and most of his catalogue fit our format down to a T here at "If That Ain't Country". His was a big loss indeed. And so, I thought it fitting to re-release an archival episode of the show which originally aired in February of 2017. Bear with my presenting style if you can (we're always learning, but even more so back then haha): the music enclosed on "The Incomparable Charley Pride" is stellar. An icon remembered this week on the show - I hope you and yours are staying safe! And despite it all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! - WR
In this week's episode we're featuring music exclusively from the fiercely independent and staunchly traditional Heart Of Texas Records. Based in the small town of Brady, Texas (the city nearest to the geographical center of the state, hence "Heart Of Texas"), Heart Of Texas Records is the only label (this reviewer knows of) which focuses exclusively on fiddle and steel guitar-driven traditional country music. Like Starday Records before it, Heart Of Texas Records has become a destination for up-and-coming country traditionalists as well as another chance for country stars of yesterday, giving a slew of legends a home to be heard on record once again. We'll feature a stack of music from the Heart Of Texas Records impressive catalogue and we'll also attempt to tell the story of a young Brady DJ and promoter who's passion for tradition helped establish the most important organisation in existence in the 21st Century for fans of hardcore country music.
In this week's episode we're featuring a 1969 album from prolific songwriting and singing talent Liz Anderson: "Country Style". After relocating from North Dakota, The Andersons moved to Southern California and by the end of the decade, demand was growing for Liz Anderson's songwriting. She'd routinely host many of The West Coast's greats in her living room for picking parties and song pitching opportunities and those connections paid off with her first real hit as a songwriter coming in 1961 when Del Reeves cut "Be Quiet Mind". She was an instrumental part of Merle Haggard's early career (Liz Anderson's "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers" proved the inspiration for The Hag's band name if you need any further proof of Anderson's importance), and Chet Atkins signed her to RCA in 1965. Liz Anderson enjoyed a few hits while at that label but was too often pushed towards fluffy semi-novelty material for sustained success. And while Anderson didn't possess the down-home twang of Loretta or the hurting of Tammy Wynette, to this reviewer's ears she did have some of Kitty Wells' plaintive stylings and her everywoman vocal is right at home on "Country Style".
In this week's episode we're featuring an excellent introduction to the music of Gary Stewart: "Greatest Hits" (1981). Born the son of a mining man in Kentucky but calling Fort Pierce, Florida home from the age of 12, Gary Stewart was playing music around the area as a teenager. After catching part of his performance locally, Mel Tillis (also from the area) suggested Stewart go to Nashville to work on his songwriting craft and work his way up from there. And he did. Starting in the mid 60s several back and forth trips to Music City, many with buddy and songwriting partner Bill Eldridge, resulted in some attention and gradually their songs started finding the right ears. Hit cuts were recorded by Nat Stuckey and Billy Walker (amongst others) and after brief recording stints themselves and plenty of discouragement, Gary Stewart eventually got signed to RCA. A re-release of "Drinkin' Thing" scored his first Top 10 and the ball was rolling. Somewhat pigeonholed during his time at RCA, it was songs of drinking, divorce and cheating which made up the majority of Gary Stewart's hit list. Chart success notwithstanding however, it was his emotive vibrato and unique mix of country and southern rock which remains a favourite with fans of country music delivered with feeling.
In this week's episode we're featuring the major label debut for Mark Chesnutt: "Too Cold At Home" (1990). Having dropped out of high school to pursue a career playing bars and honky tonks, Chesnutt garnered enough attention to record some independent material in San Antonio and Houston during that period (including at AV Mittelstedt's famous SoundMasters Studios). Some of that material got the attention of MCA/Decca and thus followed his signing and debut album. The title cut, written by 60s country star Bobby Harden and at one time turned down by George Jones, found a home with Mark Chesnutt and a further four big singles did well for the Beaumont native. In a cruel twist of fate, Chesnutt's father Bob, who had been a honky tonk singer himself and instrumental in helping foster his son's musical dreams, passed away the year "Too Cold At Home" was released. Solidly rooted in the sounds of the new traditional movement, Chesnutt's debut album contains some very strong material: the barroom classic "Brother Jukebox" always hits a chord; the swinging "Blame It On Texas" has you heading for the honky tonk and the title track is a masterclass in country music for those who may have forgotten what it sounds like. Barely a dud on there.
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Comments (1)

Clive Edmead

love that pedal steel guitar

Jul 19th
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