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The end of hat acts?

Mike Sudhalter  |  January 3, 2010


Granger Smith started his country
music career wearing a cowboy hat.
But he isn't now. In the 2010-decade,
will cowboy hats go the way of Rhinestone
Suits and disappear from the genre?

I rang in the New Year (and the New Decade) at the Firehouse Saloon in Houston, and it's always great to see Granger Smith. He puts on a great, high-energy show, and it was quite a contrast to his acoustic, songwriter night with Trent Willmon at Dosey Doe's in The Woodlands.

Both were good shows for different reasons. That one was more low-key. With his four-piece band behind him, Smith sprinkled in a good measure of rock into his songs - even more so than the original cuts on his album.

Smith writes catchy songs, and his music, as it stands now, is more Nashville friendly, radio friendly (for better or worse) than most of his peers in the Texas Music scene.

Lots of artists change their sound. Smith hasn't too much, but he has stopped wearing his trademark cowboy hat.

I wonder if that was a marketing decision, based on trying not to look "too country."

When I first started listening to country music 14 years ago, lots of artists were wearing cowboy hats. It slowly went away. For me, it was part of the genre's appeal. But it seems like the genre is always trying to reel in new fans, as opposed to keeping its dedicated following.

I've always believed in the "80-20 Rule" - you should please 20 percent of your fan base 80 percent of the time. But image is everything - especially in music, and it's true that you see fewer and fewer Stetsons in the audience at country music shows (even in Texas).

Or maybe it's because in Texas, not everyone feels the need to wear a cowboy hat to show that they are country. This would be interesting to find out. I'll have to attend some country shows out of state and report back to you.

So in conclusion, it doesn't matter if Smith or other artists wear a cowboy hat or not. Just that they go with what works for them. Smith's songs are the kind that stay in your head for days on end (in a good way). You sing them in the car, and in your living room. It's just good music.

At the New Year's Day show, there was a crowd of maybe 100-150 people. But to the left of the stage were five or six women, probably in their early 20's. They were enjoying every minute of the show, and knew every word of every song. You could always tell when Smith started to play one of their favorites, because they'd go bonkers at the beginning of the song.

:: Posted at 11:16 AM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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