The Undiscovered Country

After successfully watching a shuttle launch on Monday and getting to see one of the orbiters up close on Wednesday, I did something far more unlikely on Saturday night — I went to a country music concert.

Traditionally, I’m not the biggest fan of country music. In fact, traditionally, going back not that far, I pretty much hated the stuff.

By two years ago, I was beginning to develop the slightest of tolerances. There were a few Alabama songs I’d heard as a kid that had made it onto my iPod. And some Johnny Cash, starting with “Hurt,” and then extending into a few more covers from the American sessions, and then eventually including songs from Walk The Line.

And then there was Garrison Starr, who started out solidly alternative and rocking, but has dabbled on the line of country in recent albums. And there’s the brilliant, brilliant Lori McKenna, who is very possibly my favorite artist currently. But that was about it.

But over the past couple of years, I’ve had a handful of people broaden my horizons. My coworker Heather has been persistent and gradual, starting with a song here or a song there that might speak to something I was dealing with, and eventually moving up to, here, you should listen to this album. And then Susanna would have it on constantly. The former taught me that some country music was actually pretty good; the latter taught me a tolerance for the rest.

And, so, yeah, I’ve left “The Wolf” in my radio station presets, and still flip over there occassionally. My iPod has a fair amount of Dixie Chicks and Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts, etc. (I find that my taste in country reflects my taste in general; I lean preferentially toward female artists.) In the weirdest turnabout, I brought a Dixie Chicks CD in for Heather to listen to not that long ago.

So I was already familiar with Sugarland, first from an old discovery that I’d picked up on iTunes — “Down In Mississippi (Up to No Good)” — and then through one of the CDs that Heather had shared with me.

But, yeah, a year ago, even offered a free ticket to go with friends to the concert, I very possibly would have turned it down. Two years ago, I almost definitely would have. This past weekend, I was eager. Even in the rain.

And for a while there, I was really proud of myself. I really enjoyed the first opening act, enough that I went home and put one of his albums in my Shopping Cart on iTunes. However, I discovered today that he’s not really considered country (it can be a little tougher to delineate folk-ish genres in a one-man-one-guitar format, so cut me some slack, and when he was joined by some members of Sugarland, they made him sound a bit more country). Apparently, he was there mainly because Sugarland covered one of his songs.

To share a bit with the readers, here’s some Matt Nathanson:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The second opening act, Billy Currington, was aggressively OK, but he did do a cover or two that I enjoyed, so that was something.

Sugarland was just fun. I rather enjoyed their performance, and was glad I went.

As unlikely as that may be.

(Heck, this is even the second post on my blog to talk about Taylor Swift, which is pretty unlikely as well.)