Lessons from a Country Concert
Last night I attended the show of country singer-songwriter Margo Price, who I've wanted to see for some time now. In addition to having been a great show, there were two moments away from the music I hope stay with me. I have never lived the journey of an aspiring artist. I've heard and read about how difficult it is but have never lived it and therefore, its easy for me to forget the battle it is.
In between one of her songs, Price asked, "are you familiar with a place in town called Lemmons?" The answer is I am. Located on south Gravois, it was closed for a number of years as it changed ownership. Price said she had played there once to no more than a few people including the staff. Not only does seeing the image of her playing to an empty room convey loneliness and struggle but being able to see the venue she is talking about in her head makes it more real. I also know that based Price's popular ascent over the past couple years that when she played there was without question in its previous iteration, serving as a reminder as to how long she has been playing to get to where she is. I want that to stick with me. For all her talent, hard work and perseverance play a major role. While many artists will never make it to the level she has reached, I want to picture her when I see concert calendars with artists unknown to me playing at small venues and remember they are likely struggling just as much.
The second thing that stuck with was the music played between the opener and the headliner. I asked my friend Chris who attended with me and is knowledgeable about the industry, "how much control does the headlining artist have over the music played in between sets?" The short answer is the artist and their manager have total control. Not surprising but I had to ask. The reason is one of the final songs played before Margo Price came on stage was "DNA" by Kendrick Lamar. Not only is it a great song but it delights me a country artist would choose this for her audience. To see her saluting an artist of what is seen as a dramatically different genre is one way to help break down barriers and blur lines between one type of music and another. It reminds me over almost two years ago when music star Merle Haggard passed away. I learned the news from my Instagram feed courtesy of DJ Premier who was paying tribute to haggard. Hopefully small nudges like these will take someone who might have previously said, "I don't like country/hip hop", and encourage them to look further and instead ask, "I wonder why Margo Price likes Kendrick Lamar? Maybe I should sit down and give it a shot?"
Go Forth Boldly
p.s. for a fun listen on another commonality between country and hip hop, check out "The King of Tears" from Malcolm Gladwell's podcast.