I recently purchased a Hank Williams album and listened to it on the way back from the record store.
On the way home, I couldn't help but wondering which young country singers would be able to measure up during the golden era of country music.
First of all, let me say that none of them would touch Hank Williams, George Jones or Merle Haggard, but some of these artists would find time on the airwaves.
It's hard to say if many of the current crop of Nashville stars could shine with traditional country because we hardly, if ever, hear them perform it.
There's no doubt that artists like George Strait, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson and Mark Chesnutt would fit right in during the golden era. But imagine how far towards pop country would have veered without these guys?
Daryle Singletary, David Ball and Martina McBride all released cover albums of classic country music, and they all sounded excellent. When listening to these great songs, I discovered songs I never knew about like Mel Street's "Lovin' On Backstreets", covered by Singletary.
Not surprisingly, many of the artists who would have flourished during the golden era are not in Nashville, they're either trying to get their big break or playing in the traditional-friendly confines of the Lone Star State.
There are so many artists that fit into both of the aforementioned categories, but I'd like to single out a few of them.
Aaron Watson, a Texas-based artist, is one of the top traditional artists around and he primarily tours in Texas. He released an excellent live album from the Texas Hall of Fame and his music is heavy on fiddle and steel guitar. My ultimate Watson cut is "Heyday Tonight". It's a barnburner not unlike "Diesel Drivin' Daddy", another Watson song.
Watson also released a gospel album "Barbed Wire Halo" where his vocals are incredible, especially on the title cut.
Jamie Richards, an Oklahoma native, comes through with a very traditional sound and has gained popularity on the Texas scene. "They've Never Been To Texas" is a tongue-in-cheek song that criticizes Nashville's lack of interest in traditional country.
I also like Idaho-based country singer
Darrin Allen. His song "Conscience" is excellent where the narrator is having a conversation with his conscience. What a great cheating song.
And I can't forget about
Randy Archer, who tells his fellow bar patrons "I Own This Barstool". The singer may be hurting in this song, but the listener can't help but laugh.
Most of these artists I've discovered on the Internet, either through web sites, myspace.com or online radio. If you're searching for some real country, the information superway is your honky-tonkin' highway.