A few other reasons to smile during the year just concluded: the CMA awards resulted in someone besides the tried-and-true winning. The Dead Reckoning record label emerged in Nashville as an artists-run independent label of considerable quality. Kieran Kane, Mike Henderson, Tammy Rogers and Harry Stinson are to be commended for flying in the face of the Nashville establishment. So are labels such as Deja Disc and Watermelon out of Texas, finding talented musicians better suited for the indie route.
The public benefited in the increasing trend towards including more than the standard 10 songs per disc. Kudos to Mercury Records for leading the way. And in a plug for consumers, let's hope this continues.
But, of course, not everything merits praise. Notice how many (really how few) older, established artists, even those still releasing new material, are ever heard on radio? Apparently, if it ain't hot, it ain't country for some stations. And that means a slew of artists are label shopping.
Too bad because the quality and talent remain not only with older artists, but emerging talents too obviously confined by the powers that be.
Let's hope that in 1996, the positive trends continue and the reins at radio and record companies loosen up. Otherwise, nearsightedness may help lead to the demise of country in 1996.