This year’s fact finding mission takes us to North and South Carolina, Georgia and briefly Tennessee. On the road taking in the scenery, the southern hospitality and of course, the music.
First stop Asheville, North Carolina, a hot spot for mountain music and bluegrass but sadly not for us. Apart from the park busker, nothing much to report. However, Asheville is also at the heart of the Blue Mountain Parkway voted USA’s best scenic drive.
Entirely by chance we called at the local tourist information centre on the parkway and came across the guys from ‘Jam in the Van’. If you are not familiar with these guys, check out the web site at www.jaminthevan.com or even better, their YouTube channel.
They tour the country with a solar powered mobile recording studio and film sessions with local bands. Not all country bands but they have featured some of our favourites. Most recently, Drake White recorded a session there. Check out his live version of ‘Living the Dream’ recorded in the van. Awesome.
This is the third version of ‘the van’ and was being used when we were there to record 4 local bands. None of them were country bands but it was good to see the process and thanks to the team for the tour and the chat. They are based in Los Angeles but tour regularly.
They have already done sessions with The Honey Cutters, Andrew Combs, Caleb Caudle and American Aquarium, all of which we recommend checking out on YouTube.
One of the benefits of a road trip is the flexibility and personal choice of doing your own thing unshackled from tour guides or public transport. The music offered by US Country Radio is worth a mention. We do not have the opportunity back home to turn the dial on the car radio and experience the music that we cover here on the site.
However, all is not what it seems. The novelty wears off very quickly. Most stations here are syndicated. Most have connections with iHeart and continually advertise their music festival in Las Vegas taking place soon featuring Sam Hunt and Florida Georgia Line.
The rotation is very limited. About 20 records and the occasional “oldie”, usually from Luke Bryan or Carrie Underwood’s back catalogue. We really liked Jon Pardi’s ‘Head Over Boots’ until we came here. We will probably hate it when we get home.
Their idea of a new release is “the new song from Billy Currington…..It don’t hurt like it used to” which came out about 18 months ago.
How does a new artist get airplay? How do new records break through? We often read about the banality of country radio on American blogs. You really have to experience it to appreciate just how accurate that is.
We have some concerts coming up in the next few days and we will report again soon. Next stop is the home of Zac Brown Band. Atlanta, Georgia here we come.