A few years ago, Garth Brooks hosted “Saturday Night Live” and there was a sketch where the country star was sitting around a campfire with a group of real cowboys and describing his live show (wireless headset microphone, being hooked to a cable and flying out over the audience) and then declaring: “I love being a cowboy!” See, Garth got it. His sense of humor is admirable and, unfortunately, entirely absent in any recent country music that you might catch on CMT. The thing is, many of these new artists play up their blue-collar backgrounds, but no new country artist ever lived in conditions similar to those that early country legends did. Many take themselves too seriously and end up becoming self-caricatures unintentionally mocking the working class to whom they hope to appeal. The word “rednexploitation” comes to mind.
Dallas Alice provide a glimmer of hope in this Git-R-Done wasteland. On their new album Social!, they show that it is possible to make exciting, fun, rock-driven country music that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and they end up sounding way better than most radio-friendly pop-country because of it. You aren’t going to be accused of being unpatriotic for not liking Dallas Alice, but you might be accused of being boring or having bad taste in music, and for good reason. Dallas Alice is what all country music today would sound like if honky-tonk had been as successful as the country crooners. Basically, this band is what everyone wants his local bar band to sound like.
LEO: If you were Mayor, what would you do to help promote people like you in this city?
Sean Hopkins: I’d shut down Fourth Street Live and give it all to Hellfish’s Jimmy Gardner and let him make it over as sort of a Tom-Waits-meets-Disney theme park … think about it … “Jimmyland” … all of the employees of “Jimmyland” would be required to wear wife-beaters and pork-pie hats. I don’t quite know what that would do to promote people like me, but it’d be a hell of a lot of fun. I’d also move the office from City Hall to the corner booth at Air Devil’s Inn.
LEO: Which Louisville musician needs to get more attention?
SH: Kelly Wilkinson, she’s in The Rain Chorus with the mighty danny flanigan. Her songs and her voice will break your goddamn heart. She has this song about her grandfather called “Raymond” that just kills me.
LEO: If music were food, what kind would yours be?
SH: Scattered, smothered and covered …
LEO: Tell me about one of your favorite works of art aside from your medium.
SH: I like all of the Larry Brown books, but especially “Fay.” He passed away a few years back, but I don’t think any other recent author has “got” the South like Larry Brown. If you’ve ever taken a vacation to Panama City Beach or Gulf Shores on the cheap, and stopped off to buy beer, beef jerky and fireworks at a gas station that was lit up in neon while nursing a real bad sunburn, you’ve lived a little Larry Brown.
LEO: What do you want to say that you know you shouldn’t?
SH: The “F” word. I use profanity like others use punctuation.
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