As for Rolling Stone, here is the overture of this sermon:
Over the last few years, the Gulf Coast Jam, a multi-day concert blowout held every spring in Panama City Beach, Florida, has become one of country music’s leading festivals, pulling in headliners like Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Kane Brown, and Kenny Chesney. But recently, festival producer Rendy Lovelady has noticed something unusual backstage. “Ten or 15 years ago, everybody would sit in a circle around the table, pull out their guitars and start singing old country songs,” he says. “There was a lot of camaraderie. Whereas now, the camaraderie has definitely lessened. They tend to stay in their own community.”
Part of Lovelady wonders if it’s the lingering after-effects of Covid-19, which forced touring performers to interact as little as possible with anyone outside their circle. But it’s also possible that the drop-off in backstage hangtime is a sign of something else: the national culture wars seeping into the traditionally close-knit country community, a space where artists often take pains to refer to their peers as “my good buddy” or compliment one another.
An anonymous music-biz vet states the thesis:
The manager has also witnessed the same backstage chilliness . … However, he says it is unquestioningly due to opposing political ideologies and beliefs. “I’ve always enjoyed seeing people in the hallways backstage,” he says. “But it’s not like that. You tend to avoid people, because everyone talks politics backstage. Everyone used to leave their dressing room doors open. The doors are shut now.”
Are all these battles about Democrats clashing with Republicans? Orange Man Bad vs. the civilized world?
According to this Rolling Stone article, the battles are almost all about morality and culture, especially sexuality and free speech (which used to be a “liberal” topic).
In other words, there are religion “ghosts” all over the place in this piece, for those with the eyes to see them.
I’ll end with this summary:
On the matter of touring, the manager who spoke to RS says the country culture war has affected who he’ll consider booking as an opening act for his major artist. “We think about that more than ever,” he says. “Are we going to get along with these people? And what are they going to put on their socials that might affect the tour? What are they going to put on Twitter where all of a sudden you’re on CNN having to defend them or not? You have to be careful who you associate with now.” …
[The} manager … says nothing will change until the larger, more divisive issues are resolved. “Politics has to cool off, but I don’t know if that changes anytime soon,” he says. “It’s a bummer. Now we feel like any other genre, with a bunch of knuckleheads. You lose that innocence and it’s hard to get it back.”
The “knuckleheads” are, of course, the religious and cultural conservatives.
But, remember, this is all just politics, politics, politics.
Johnny Cash would disagree, probably uttering some words that he wouldn’t have used when giving his testimony at Billy Graham crusades.
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FIRST IMAGE: The cover of the 2007 Chris Willman book: “Rednecks & Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music.”