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Views and opinions:  Even diehard country fans should vary musical 'diet'


BITTERSWEET, Ky. — One of my favorite foods to eat is a burger. I love cheeseburgers, and bacon cheeseburgers, and bison burgers, and black bean burgers and turkey burgers. I just love burgers and I could eat them every day.

But as much as I love burgers, I do occasionally want a salad, or soup or pancakes or bacon and eggs, or anything besides a burger.

Stay with me now, because I have a point to all this food talk: Much in the same way as I don’t always want a burger to satisfy my hunger, from time to time I like to change my musical diet, as well.

Granted, I will likely not stray too far from my country music dishes, but for the next few weeks I would like to venture out a bit and try helpings from other genres. One of my favorites comes from the Americana cookbook.

I have often written about artists that fall into this category, and that is not surprising. I liken the relationship between country and Americana music as being like first cousins. It’s like a big pot of burgoo that has a variety of ingredients that belong to different food groups, but make something completely different and delicious when blended.

Americana is folk and country and blues and even some rock-and-roll. Many of the same artists that are classified as country music performers also make their way to the Americana charts.

Artists such as Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson all appear on most Americana performer lists. But so do Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and Levon Helm of The Band fame, all more known for their contributions to the rock world.

This genre became somewhat official in the 1980s, but the kind of music included in this category goes back to Woody Guthrie days. One of my favorite Americana performers is a group of young people known as The Vespers.

These folks are really good and bring a touch of bluegrass to a country/folk mix that allows them to stand out, and when you add in their great harmonies – well, you have a unique musical offering that is, well, Americana.

With many of today’s country music artists having a similar sound and singing similar songs, finding a favorite Americana performer may be the different musical meal I need after eating all those burgers.


Bluegrass Johnson comes from a long line of country music performers and enjoys a passion for the rhythm and melody. From the hills of Kentucky, he will offer his opinions on a variety of new country music each week. Readers with questions or comments may write to Johnson in care of this publication.