Pop country music and hip hop have usurped rock ‘n’ roll for cultural relevance. The songs topping both the country and rock ‘n’ roll games have morphed into well-oiled machines with interchangeable parts: written by algorithm with a kind of Mad Libs-style, small-town vernacular.
Dial back on the twang and rearrange the fiddle out of the mix. Next, nix the chew-in-the-lower-lip, geographically indistinguishable rural American accent for some rock ‘n’ roll growl. Just these simple fixes, and most contemporary country chart-toppers could be rock hits.
This goes both ways. From hookup anthems to arena choruses and schmaltzy love songs, if there was ever a time when you were, say, at a Loverboy concert wearing a Journey T-shirt, pop country is the place for you.
The southern Willamette Valley is a pop country capital. Many of the genre’s brightest stars perform at our biggest venues, and the popularity of that Nashville sound is best experienced at the 4-day Bi-Mart Willamette Valley Country Music Fest, a sort of Oregon Country Fair for RVers and glamping enthusiasts, held annually near Brownsville.
Eugene musician Jacob Pruzynski, known for playing with local cow-punk band The Koozies, doesn’t consider himself a pop country fan necessarily, but when he checks out this year’s WVCM Fest lineup, he admits he’d kind of like to attend.
“This year’s line-up covers all of those bases with Kid Rock exemplifying my guiltiest of pleasures,” he tells me. Yes, Kid Rock is country now, and performing at the Country Music Fest on Sunday, Aug. 19. Donald Trump is also president. It’s a mad world we’re living in.