Country Music – Not Always Southern

Northern Country

Country Music – Not Always Southern

If you listen to some Country Music, whether Johnny Cash or Miranda Lambert, you hear songs about Georgia, Texas, Alabama, etc.   You also hear about huntin’, fishin’, pickup trucks, dirt roads, cornfields and porch swings.  Well let me tell you about what it’s like to live in the Northeast.  Almost 90% (89.4) of the Northeast is non-Urban.  It is farms, mountains and undeveloped property.   As for pickup trucks, Ford 150 followed by the Chevy Silverado are some of the most purchased vehicles.   So where is the Country Music from the Northeast? Because it’s not only Southern.

Why It’s Not Only Southern

Most of you know I grew up in a small city (60K) and small town (300).  So farm land, Adirondack mountains, and cool natural nooks were everywhere. 

My brother had a black standard Ford pick-up.  One of my cousins brought me to a party in a cornfield.  The local swim club in my town was actually a pond.  Another cousin had a farm where I milked a cow.

My friends (not me) would race and speed their cars through the winding roads around a gorge.  There we’d meet new people from other local towns and made immediate friends.  And, no there was no Cello Lambrusco or beer (yuk) to accelerate the friendships.  🙂

And, something few people know, I was given a ticket once for fishing without a license.  I was really holding it for a friend.  Funny, but true.  The ticket was contested and the matter dismissed.  BTW – The magistrate took this event very seriously. 

Another time, I came home, pressed the button to open our garage door; and there was a deer hanging with blood on the hole on its chest.  I screamed and closed the door.  A deep laugh could be heard through the door.  Frank, my brother, enjoyed grossing me out.

Since I mentioned Frank, he used to hunt with gun and bow; and even fish with a bow.

Sound Country?

Uhhh, yeah.   So where is the country music from Upstate NY.  The only thing that came close was American Pie.  That’s only because it mentioned a levy and a Chevy.

The soundtrack of Upstate included some southern rock (Lynrd Skynrd), pop music (I won’t write Madonna, but will write Phil Collins), progressive (Rush) and hair bands like Bon Jovi.  Not too different from other places.


A few years ago, an article was written in the Washington Post outlining that the Northeast is embracing country music to the point it could overtake local music.

Gotta thank the marketers for getting us to like Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and more.

There has to be new talent in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest that contribute to the country music scene.  These areas have large areas many would describe as country.

Think about it … Australia is even represented in the country music scene.

Some music scouts and marketers need to get up North and even-out the playing field.

It’s Possible

Across North America, people now have eclectic music taste.  People may have a genera they favor, but they are open to new music too. 

Let me say it again, the north is under-represented in the Country category.  

Record labels, scouts and marketers … take a plane north and change that.  The financial payoff and contribution to the evolution of music will remember you as innovators.

Just Some Country Music Fun Facts

Other than Sawyer Brown, the kid who won the Voice a few years ago; and New Jersey born Clint Black, there are no big music acts from the region.

As reported by Wide Open Country, here is the list of famous country music artists by Northeast states.  I only knew a couple.  Most are songwriters or studio musicians.

  • Connecticut – The Carpenters.  Are they country?
  • Maine – Patty Griffin (mostly songwriter)
  • New York – Pete Seeger – Song Writer (If I Had a Hammer)
  • New Hampshire – Tom Rush (known from work in the 1960s)
  • Vermont – Grace Potter (she wrote “You and Tequila Make Me Crazy”.  Just born there)
  • Massachusetts – Jo Dee Massina
  • Rhode Island – Billy Gilman (our state is so small we only have a tween as our famous act).

Top 10 Per Capita Music States

The 10 you’ve been waiting for. The states where country music has a firm place in the past and in the future.

10. Pennsylvania Of all the Northeastern States, Pennsylvania definitely has the largest country music appeal.  They get to claim Taylor Swift.  That’s a skew.

9.Mississippi Not Just Elvis Presley, Mississippi has produced countless country music stars, most notably Charley Pride and Faith Hill. 

8.Arkansas Johnny Cash – enough written.

7.Missouri -Mostly because of Branson.

6.West Virginia “Take Me Home Country Roads” by pop country artist (John Denver).  It has one of the largest country stations in the nation.

5.Georgia – Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan – all native Georgians. And you can’t forget superstars like Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt or Trisha Yearwood. Georgia is much more than just peaches.

4.Kentucky – For a state that’s known for bluegrass, it also delivered Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, The Judds, and Montgomery Gentry. 

3.Oklahoma – There was a time, about 10-15 years ago, when  Garth Brooks, Vince Gill and Reba McEntire were topping the charts, it was ‘the’ top state for Country.

2.Tennessee – Nashville is the center of commercial country music, and also the place where the Country Music Hall of Fame, all its famous honky-tonks, the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium are located. 

1.Texas While country music is a way of life in Texas. There are no other places with as many country music concerts, nightclubs, small town Opry shows and legends). And it’s also the only state to have an independent country scene apart from Nashville. 

One of my most-Boston friend is married into a family of doctors, lawyers and investment bankers from Dallas.  Every weekend they’d go to a rodeo.

The Real Deal

You can easily find me at a cool restaurant or shopping as you can hiking or enjoying a lake-side picnic.  

Because of Chip, I have gone to a bunch of country concerts.  You know what, whether the venue is 5K people or 80K (think that’s what you can fit in Gillette Stadium), country concerts are low tech, friendly and genuine … other than the jumbotron.

Let’s hope there are some smart marketers who are willing to visit cozy country bars in the North and find talent.

If you have a country concert, open spaces or music favorite story, tell us about it.  I bet you have ones much better than mine.

Please share this post.  Your friends may like it.