By Lee Waites
Recently our buddies down at the Mod Mobillian reviewed (click here to read it) the new album, Let the Moment Land, by Cosmonaut On Vacation. Great review! The trend toward appreciating music from Alabama that represents more than the age old "gravel roads, sweet tea and fried okra" stereotype is long overdue. And it's a trend we want to help perpetuate.
I will be the first to admit putting on my old tennis shoes, the ones I call my "river shoes", walking down through the creek and hunting crawdads. I nearly cry every time I hear Simple Man. I DO love fried green tomatoes. I wave at people when I see them on their front porch. I use the term Ma'am to address ladies of all ages. I, at one time or another, have owned cars and/or trucks with glass pack mufflers. I called my father's father Paw Paw. And my favorite instrument actually is the banjo (suck it haters). This is in my Southern blood. This IS who I am. This IS Southern! RIGHT! Sure... and I love it!
But is this all we are as Southerners? Hell no and of course not. So why is it that the music getting the most attention out of Alabama, and any other place in the South has an air of dusty roads, daisy dukes and uncle-daddies? Because modern culture treats the South like that! And we go right along with it.
Luckily, the Internet, along with the rapid sharing of modern social networking and the dreaded, anti-music-business-music-websites, those free and open sites we hate on for destroying the music industry, have changed the game. So, because of this new found freedom, the picture of the South we've all been sold for years is changing too.
We're not working our way into the place of "little brother" to the rest of America, trying to mimic the trends of other scenes. We have music that is launching out in all different directions. We have musicians that one night belt out incredible blues, or heart wrenching country songs, only to go play some experimental or world music the next night.
We have venues that offer Hip-Hop on Thursday, DJs and glow parties on Friday and Blues or Alternative shows by Saturday night. We have embraced our multi-culturalism through music! This inclusivity sees Christian themed music of all sorts living side by side with Death Metal and Bluegrass. It's not a perfect transition, as nothing is perfect. But it IS something all Birminghamians and Alabamians can take pride in. And there's the key, Pride.
It's paramount that we, as Alabamians, as Southerners, carry through history those good things that our Southern culture has to offer. We must recognize inherent flaws, and in turn enact change where needed. This we have done. This we continue to do. Our music, art, science, education, religious entities, social groups, businesses. etc need to reflect that positive change.
This returns us to IMAGE. Each word said, each link shared, song downloaded, "like" clicked etc. helps to perpetuate our image as a culture. So it's so very cool when someone represents the under-represented multi-cultural aspects of the South.
I have, admittedly, belabored a point, over-thought and surely over-reached my conclusions about music coverage in our region. Or have I?
This IS who we are. And I LOVE it when people shine a light on our creative folks.
PS. Cosmonaut On Vacation rocks! Listen and check them out.