I’ve seen documentaries about it and I’ve heard lots of people talk of it so I have some idea of what Country Western involves- heart and soul. I didn’t realise there was a third ingredient to the biggest selling music genre in the USA. That ingredient is guts. That’s the American ‘outback’ term fo’ it, but since this article is for British publication we’ll go with the more genteel translation of courage. And I saw courage first hand, when I became a roadie, for Carson McHone.
The gig was to be played at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen in celebration of the Sounds of Summer in Austin Texas. McHone was the representative of summer in worn jeans, a balaclava loosely fitted round her neck and the customary American cowboy boots with a pack of cigarettes stuffed in the side. She stood out even amongst the hickory-dickory/hippy/mod/chic amalgamation of humankind you get in Shoreditch, but I didn’t care, I was here to be her roadie, set her up and watch her play.
‘Set her up’ is a bit of an exaggeration. McHone was only travelling with an acoustic guitar which she had to haul about and wait her turn to be sound-checked. While we waited and watched and the venue began to fill I started thinking this might not go down so well. Whilst the event was primarily to celebrate the music that originates from the state of Texas it was botched with NME Topman and their line-up of The Lapelles (next Artic Monkeys?), Vayll Society (still living in the ‘hey days’ of the Hacienda) and The Blossoms (what everyone wants, but no one needs).
How would the peoples of Shoreditch and central London, constantly in search for the next indie rock band, take to a style of music that has never really taken off in the UK? I was about to find out. McHone got up on stage briefly introduced herself and began playing, and this was when I realised there was a third ingredient to the genre of Country Western.
In true Texan style McHone immediately dropped a jack-knife into the ground and split open a chasm of distinction with the serenade to wonder- ‘How Bout It’. Having introduced the crowd to the sounds of Texas she upped the pace with ‘Poet’ and ‘GTDB’ (‘Good Time Daddy Blues’) introducing it as a song ‘about a love you hate but you can’t live without’. It was a strange scene to watch the goths and mods of Hoxton nodding their heads and swaying to the bendy sound of a Country Western acoustic guitar. The penultimate song of the night was ‘Maybe They’re Just Really Good Friends’ a full bodied Country Western number of the ol’style followed by song of the night- ‘The Desert Song’. A psychedelica/dance/country hybrid made up of long guitar riffs a touch peaked, like something belonging to the aloofness’s of a Coen Brother’s film.
Courage. It is the essential ingredient above all others needed to try ‘make-it’ in any form of show business. No matter how ‘talented’, or ‘intelligent’, or ‘convivial’ a person is, without the courage to exhibit their skills they will go nowhere. McHone came from a place entirely alien to the small congested world of London city streets and didn’t pretend, or assume what others would want to see, she acted herself and performed to a captivated audience thoroughly appreciative to the end. I know it’s a cliché, but it isn’t a cliché- watch this space.
Find more of Carson McHone at carsonmchonemusic.com