Growing up in rural Kansas in the 70’s & 80’s I had little idea there were any other genres of music outside of Country. Barbara Mandrell & the Mandrell Sisters were fixtures on our three channel tube television.
Alabama, Reba McEntire, Johnny Cash and Don Williams cover a few of the names emanating from my dad’s AM truck radio. As Barbara used to say, I was country when country wasn’t cool.
It wasn’t until I received my first Beatles 45 single ‘Hard Day’s Night’ that I even heard the words Pop Music.
It wasn’t until my teen years, fully aware of the consequences of musical taste and peer pressure that I discovered the mysterious liberating world of indie/alternative music.
Groups like The Smiths, The Pixies, Susie and the Banshees, 10,000 Maniacs, REM, The B-52’s (the list goes on) were defining characters in opening the world to sonic possibilities. The likelihood of artists such as these ever finding their way to my humble country ears was a long shot. There was no local radio support to influence my musical choices.
I had heard of this thing called MTV but had never seen it. Still, the groundswell of fans made it to the plains of middle America.
There was no internet (can you imagine it?) to research my favorite groups, no other pipeline but my penny club BMG cassette tape membership and word of mouth. I could barely afford my $7 cassettes, let alone think about supporting their craft by purchasing a t-shirt or going to a concert.
How they managed to survive, surely, stands as testimony to the perseverance of dedicated artists and grateful fans. With few exceptions, every musician starts out indie, relying on the direct support and encouragement of their fans.
Music is nothing if it is not heard. It is rendered mute without sharing. Sure, there are front man egos to contend with, band break ups over creative differences after ‘success’ is achieved, but at the end of the day it is the music that spurs us all on.
It is the palpable excitement at a live gig – artists who can’t wait to play, audiences who can’t wait to cheer, that inspire us all. The anticipated record release that allows us to carry our favorite song and experience with us wherever we go.
And the championing of our favorite group/artist to others so we can share in the revelry.
To every friend who has shared with me a defining record, to every fan who has ever asked me to play, to all those who have gone before simply for the love of music, I thank you for support.
-Jennifer Knapp|Follow Me@JenniferKnapp