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I want my Americana TV

Country Standard Time Editorial, October 2001

Much has been written in recent months about the ongoing changes in the country music scene.

First and foremost was the wild, but unexpected (by most folks anyway) success of the "O Brother! Where Art Thou?" soundtrack, which has topped the country album sales charts almost every week for months.

And that also spawned a live album, "Down From the Mountain," from the folks who played on the "O Brother" soundtrack and a tour next year, giving a huge shot in the arm for the genre.

This all comes at a time when the current country scene remains relatively static. Yes, a few new artists may have a hit here and there, but there seems to be little staying power in today's music scene.

Unless your name happens to be Tim or Faith pretty much. Let's see how many of today's new hit acts stay there in even a few years.

Television has not helped either with TNN becoming the non-country The National Network and moving to New York and CMT not even available all over the US.

Thus, the timing could be right for Stanley Hitchcock, the head of CMT in its first decade. He is restarting Americana Music Television, a digital and satellite channel featuring classic country, bluegrass, blues, gospel and other genres of American "roots" music.

The station is starting off with a small launch this fall before planning for a 24-hour schedule in the second quarter of 2002.

If Hitchcock plays his cards right, he may well become part of what is right about roots and country music at a time when the alternatives are sorely lacking. You can't say his timing is the least bit bad.

After all, who among us was truly convinced "O Brother" would do as well as it did?