The article Hillbilly Music by Robert Cranwell, special attention is drawn to the radio. A lot of the pioneers and major bluegrass bands were able to make their music popular by playing it on the radio. The radio was able to reach across the corners of the globe and even attracted attention from people within urban environments by giving them a glimpse of their rural homeplace. However these examples are from the mid 2oth century, so what is the place for radio in the 21st century? and how are start up bands getting the word out about their music today?
I personally enjoy listening to radio during the morning for the talk shows. I particularly like Danny and Zach in the Morning on our local K92.3 out of Roanoke Virginia. In terms of music, most popular radio stations play music that is in the top of the charts for pop music. These are the radio stations that have the broadest coverage as far as FM/AM radio goes. Bluegrass, roots, old time, folk, and various other musics are just not well represented on these popular stations. Types of music like bluegrass are played on radio stations dedicated to a certain sound, but they generally do not have the kind of reach that the pop music ones do. However there are programs still going on and innovations still being made to bring different types of music to people all over the globe. When i think of bluegrass in terms of radio, I think back to my childhood listening to A Prairie Home Companion with my mother. My favorite segment was the comical detective narrative for P.I. Guy Noir. Growing up i never liked Country music and neither did my parents who were musicians, but they always loved the artists that would come on the program. I think there is a certain musicality that came along with that program. It was broadcast all over the world and was able to showcase both urban and rural culture in just a few hours. I could focus on the overall effects of the business of satellite radio, but i just love this show too much to not showcase how radio is still relevant and loved today.
Here’s a video of a Guy Noir Script from 2009
Here is a video of Hot Rize preforming Colleen Malone on 09/20/2014
Here is an upcoming show of the Prairie Home Companion featuring Chris Thile coming on this Valentines Day! It will be live in about 4 days.
As far as how new bands are able to garner support and spread their music and their message, the internet is the most common way of doing that now. With the start up of mp3 players came the release of sites like Napster, iTunes, and other music media sights. However, for start up bands it’s a lot harder for them to find new fans outside of their homeless due to the lack of radio coverage for underground artists. Music communities have created sites like bandcamp.com and soundcloud.com. Even social media such as Facebook and twitter attribute to musical popularity. I think that social media is becoming the medium that radio was back in the mid 20th century. Local news is being posted and culture is being created. The only downside is the mess that social media creates. It may take longer to discover a new group or find a new story due to the amount of stuff being posted.
Here is an example of a folk band I just found on bandcamp.com called Shakey Graves and a video of them playing Dearly Departed at SXSW