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Country Standard Time keeps it country, web only

Country Standard Time Editorial, March 2009

When I started Country Standard Time 17 years ago, I got a lot of funny looks and questions from family and friends. Here I was, this Bostonian living far from the epicenter of country (Nashville) with an idea of starting a country music magazine.

The most repeated question - "do you like country music?"

Almost two decades later, the answer is still a resounding yes, but a lot has changed over that time. When I first started the magazine, country was in the midst of a huge growth period. Line dancing helped make that happen with songs like Boot Scootin' Boogie. Once the line dancer went away, it was time for the "real" country fans to show their faces.

Country then entered a long pop phase, spurred on in part by Garth Brooks (though the funny thing is if you listened closely to Brooks, you'd see how he was far more traditional in his approach to country than his musical offspring), which still exists with acts like Tim McGraw and Keith Urban being ultra-popular, but not exactly having a lot in common with the forefathers of country like Hank Williams and later Johnny Cash.

This has been a great learning experience for me - about the music, its people, the fans and the business. The chance to talk with people ranging from Brooks to Robbie Fulks to Marty Stuart to Waylon Jennings to Porter Wagoner to Brad Paisley to Dierks Bentley is incredibly satisfying. Being exposed to so many different artists and musical styles within the country and bluegrass genres has been a real education.

The magazine also endured changes. We started as strictly black-and-white, available only in New England. After three years, we knew we better make CST available nation-wide or else we were history. Soon, we were available in music clubs and record stores around the country. CST went color as well.

One thing I learned is that our readers were always very open-minded. They knew we'd write about Ralph Stanley and Willie Nelson and Paisley just as we would cover Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift. The fact of the matter is our readers, no matter who their favorites were, let us know that they appreciated we were not snobby, that we were unafraid to cover various musical styles. That was always appreciated and made us feel we were on the right path.

About 13 years ago, we started the web site, countrystandardtime.com. It was a simple site, but the information was all there. The site is no longer so simple, nor so small, and we are exceedingly appreciative of the tens of thousands of readers we get every month. We know we are fulfilling a need out there to present country, bluegrass and Americana/roots music to the world in an informed, hopefully intelligent way.

One of the changes has been on the financial front as well. CST always has been independent. No outside financers save yours truly. We were free and almost wholly dependent on advertisers.

Unfortunately, advertising has proven increasingly difficult thanks in large part to declining revenues for the music industry. Not to mention the overall economy being horrible.

The bottom line, unfortunately, is that we decided to close Country Standard Time magazine. The advertising support simply was no longer there.

I thank all who have read the magazine over the years, felt supportive enough to buy a subscription even though it was free, those who sent a letter or an email in support, and even those (maybe especially those) who respectfully disagreed with us; those at the record labels and related companies who were helpful over the years to the magazine, some of whom we are friends with. Of course, our writers have been key in making Country Standard Time. Thanks to all who contributed over the years and will continue doing so on the web.

We value those who supported us with a degree of regularity over the years through advertising - Compass Records, Pinecastle Records, Rebel Records, Rounder Records, Skaggs Family Records, Universal Music Group and Yep Roc Records.

I would be very remiss if I did not thank those on the home front, who always supported this endeavor. My wife, Judy, was always supportive of the concept of the magazine and helped me pursue my dream. My children, Yamit and Gabi, would often make a comment, usually positive, about the new issue when they saw it. "Great cover" was a typical comment (when warranted). That was the case even though Gabi once claimed he hated country music in an interview with the Boston Globe.

Don't despair - and you're probably not if you're reading this. Countrystandardtime.com will continue. We feel we offer a strong voice to country, bluegrass and Americana fans. We are working hard to ensure that we remain a key, essential outlet.

However, we also need your support, especially since we are independent. Spreading the word about countrystandardtime.com is vital. The more people who know about us and read us regularly, the better. So, please feel free to contact fellow music lovers about the web site directly or in on-line postings. Please also free to tell us what you like, would like to see included and don't like. We give a big shout out to you for taking the time to read the web site and count on your support going forward.

I always liked to quote that famed Texas honky tonker Ernest Tubb in what I consider my approach to the music I love so much, "Keep it country." That's what we have done and will continue to do - but only on the web. - Jeffrey B. Remz (countryst@aol.com)