The Hardway

by J Raleigh Jones

Nashville is not "Nashville" anymore. Tourists come to this town expecting to hear the country music that made this town Music City but it is hard to find. Thankfully, WSM radio and the Grand Ole Opry still keep the traditional music alive.

A friend of mine, Ben Probus, an awesome fiddle player and musician, described the famous Music Row as "Condo Row".  Lower Broadway has quite a mixture of music now attempting to catch the attention of the huge crowds of people who come here for events and tourism. The fact is Nashville and it's economy is booming! It is a happening place. From the tone in this article  you may think I am about to bash Nashville as it is. I am not. I understand the business decisions made to keep the music industry alive. In this new technical age the old rules do not apply anymore.

A huge "star"  vacuum exists from our  traditional heroes like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynett and so many others. To many fans there seems to be no one to fill their shoes. So where are our heroes and traditional country music stars? I am here to tell you, they are out there. I seek them out for my Television show. They need our support.

Many new online radio stations and podcasts have been filling the vacuum for the broadcasting of traditional country music. These stations attract huge numbers of listeners worldwide. I try to do my part. My television show is a variety of music from my TV show band 'The Music City Slickers" to the USAGEM gospel writers showcases and the Tennessee Songwriters Association International showcases. The Tennessee Songwriters Association International, TSAI, has an ongoing project to get radio stations to split the charts and play both pop country and traditional country.


Country fans are clamoring for traditional music to be played on their local radio stations. Change takes time and can happen if you the fans, will support these efforts. My mission is to provide television access to deserving traditional country music talent. My local shows broadcast here in Nashville on the Music City Arts channel (Comcast channel 9) Access 19, AT&T U Verse 99 and of course online from NECAT network here in Music City.


I want to share with you two artists who have been on my show that are star quality in my opinion.  First, Garrett Walker,  a 25 year overnight success!   Garrett Walker is an artist. He is a great songwriter and performer. He looks like a star, acts like a star and has quite a large following. I discovered Garrett online and was very impressed with his music. I decided to put him on my show and give country fans an opportunity to see him perform. The thing was, Garrett had moved to Kentucky and was working at a T shirt printing company.


I connected with him and asked  him if he wanted to pursue his musical career. Well, he did, so we did. I went to Cave City Kentucky and brought him back to Nashville. Now, Garrett has not only been on my show, but moved to Dallas Texas area, married Patsy, the woman of his dreams, and has been recording and performing new music full time. In September of this year Garrett was a special guest on the world famous WSM radio station here in Nashville. He has so many projects at the moment including a new gospel album. You can find him and keep up with him on his Facebook pages.

The second artist, Dennis Ledbetter has gone from Karoke to 10 number one's in a row and has also been featured in Nashville Country Music Magazine!  Dennis is not your "typical" country music artist. He doesn't play an instrument yet is good songwriter. When I lived in Gulfport Mississippi my steel guitar player in my band was Hal Higgins. Hal is a great steel player and musician. Hal hooked up with Dennis to help him arrange and record his songs. Hal helped put Dennis on stage and finally introduced him to me. I put him on my TV show with a full country band.


I still remember watching Dennis as he took that microphone in hand with noticeable self confidence and belted out "If You Drive Me To Drinkin' I'll Buy The Gas". Then he sang "Three Acers of Fillies Down at Gillies". From that beginning Dennis has achieved remarkable things. He has been nominated and won awards from the Texas Country Music Association and Academy Of Western Artists. He has recorded 3 albums and has had 10 number one hits in a row on the International Country Music Charts. You can keep up with Dennis on his facebook page.

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