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The Western Beat with Billy Block takes off

Country Standard Time Editorial, July 2000

An interesting mixture of established and newcomers is going to gain prominence this summer thanks to Country Music Television.

"The Western Beat with Billy Block," the brainchild of Block, a drummer and fixture on the Nashville country scene, is being aired on CMT starting July 2 at 11 p.m. eastern time.

The aim is to pair a well-known artist with some generally unknown, potentially up-and-coming acts through taped performances at the Exit/In club in Nashville, videos and interviews.

The concept sounds like a worthy one in that it gives exposure to artists like Charlie and Bruce Robison, Lonesome Bob, Duane Jarvis and Jack Ingram who may have an album or two under their belts, but no real hits to speak of.

For established artists, like Hal Ketchum, Lee Roy Parnell, Kathy Mattea and a reunion of Foster & Lloyd, this may be a chance to see them in a far more informal setting than usual.

The idea of pairing the unknowns with the knowns seems intended to draw more viewers since few would be expected to watch a bunch of relative newcomers off the bat.

Block and especially CMT deserve credit for making a go of the concept and devoting 13 hours of programming.

Of course, it's up to viewers to make the show a ratings success, resulting in more shows down the road. While we have yet to see advances, check it out and give your support to the broad spectrum of country music.

The unknowns of today could be the stars of tomorrow.