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Autumn Simpson

Ethnographic Research

For my ethnographic research I wanted to better understand the history/evolution of country
music, and the stereo-types that people have about country music but attending two country
music concerts.
The first concert I attended was Lady Antebellum, since coming together in Nashville in 2006,
the group has quickly risen to fame. Lady Antebellum has won Vocal group of the year award
three years in a row. Eight of their singles went gold and four went platinum. All of this success
has been achieved through the dynamic connection of the band as well as the unbelievable song
writing ability. The band has a diverse fan base and have picked up fans across several different
genres making them one of the most influential crossover artists.
The second concert I attended was Jake Owen. Owens overnight sucuess caused his to not have
time to plan out his career according to the country music guidelines and because of that it was
easy for him to pave his own way. Owens willingness to try new things landed his first album
Barefoot Blue Jean Nights to become one of the years most successful country music albums.
With the success of his first album he opened for Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney sending him
to superstar status after only a year of releasing his first album.

Lady Antebellum
Brick Breeden Fieldhouse- Bozeman, MT

The first concert I attended was seven time award winning band Lady Antebellum along with up
and coming country music stars, Jana Kramer and Kipp Moore. This event was at The Brick
Breeden Fieldhouse, in Bozeman, MT. A venue that can house 8,900 people and hosts events
such as basketball games, rodeos, concerts and trade shows.
Jana Kramer opened the show with an up tempo set list showing off her rebels edge with a bit of
a vendetta about an ex-boyfriend or two. Her Hit songs "I Hope It Rains" and "Why You
Wanna" got the crowed on their feet and ready for a good time. Next to the stage was Kipp
Moore, he was quick to show off his rowdy side and he worked the stage with his cutoff jeans
and work boots and rocking his electric guitar. Moore had no issue showing off his sensitive side
bringing out a barstool and singing, "Hey Pretty Girl", and Ben Kings "Stand By Me".
Lady Antebellum finally took the stage, lead vocalist Hilary Scott, back up vocalist Charles
Kelley and instrumentalist Dave Haywood started their set list from the back of the crowd,
interacting with the crowd as they made their way to the main stage to their five-piece band.
Once the band made their way to the stage they played "American Honey" which was sung with
a montage of childhood photos that reminded them of their childhoods. Scott asked for the
women only to sing the chorus which was very beautiful.
Lady Antebellum made sure the fans knew they were glad to be in Montana saying, "this really
is the prettiest place we have ever been" interacting with the crowd between and even pointed
out a couple who had got engaged at their meet and greet earlier in the night.
Kelley talk about how he and Haywood had moved to Nashville to become songwriters,
dreaming of writing for country music's elite while pursuing their dreams, the two met Scott, and
the trio had instant chemistry. The group then shared with the audience a few songs sitting
around, like they did when they first started out. Performing Dancin Away With My Heart
and Wanted You More both songs from their first platinum selling record.
They all came to the front of the stage and played And The Radio Played, a song that they
dedicated to the country songs and stars that inspired them along the way, with a collage of
pictures and song lyrics by some of country music's biggest stars. George Jones, Willie Nelson,
Johnny Cash, and Alan Jackson.
As the nearly three hour show came to an end the trio sang one of their biggest hits to date, We
Owned The Night, showering the crowd with confetti.
This show was a very family friendly show. I found that there was a very diverse group of people
who attended and it seemed to me that everyone enjoyed the concert. After leaving the concert I
looked on my Instagram and Facebook and my news feed was filled with 100s of pictures and
comments like Lady A was even better live, Best Concert Ever So Much Better Live. All
concluding how get the show was.
After the show I conducted interviews with three of my friends that I went to the concert with.
Emma and Kasey are country music fans who go to country concerts all the time and my other
friend Erica never listens to country music but came along to have a good time.
Q: Was the concert a typical country concert that you have attended?
Kasey: Lady A is much more of a crossover country group so yes, and no.
Q: What do you mean by crossover country?
Kasey: Its music that you would hear on country radio as well as Top 20
Q: Did you think there was more of a country vibe or a mix of everything?
Emma: There was a mix for sure. I say so many different types of people.. At one point there was
an old man dancing on the screen and then you would see someone "twerking". So a very diverse
crowd for sure.
Q: Did you think that it was a family friendly concert or more rowdy?
Emma: It was definitely more family friendly. We waited in line for over 30 minutes and when
we got up there you could only get a max of three drinks.
Q: So you think the limit on alcohol was a factor in that?
Erica: Yeah. Their songs didnt really have a "party, lets get wasted" tone to them though so that
might have also played a role in that.
Q: If the lyrics would have been focused on drinking and partying you guys think that it would
have been a less family friendly environment?
A: Yes!
Q: Erica, you aren't a fan of country music... was the concert what you had envisioned it to be?
Erica: No not at all. I was thinking people would have been dressed like they were going to a
hoedown. When I think of country music I think of tight wranglers, cowboy hats and cowboy
boots and that wasnt how people were dressed at all.
Q: Was the music different then you thought it would be?
Erica: Yeah. Their songs were upbeat and happy not depressing love songs like a lot of the older
country music is.
Q: Do you have a different outlook on country music now?
Erica: Ya I would go to one of their concerts again for sure. They are a lot different then I
assumed country music to be like.

Jake Owen Concert:
Phoenix Open "Birds Nest"
I was able to have a pre- show interview with Jake Owen before his show at the Coor Light
Birds Nest in Scottsdale, AZ. He lived up to my expectations and more. His music really is a
reflection of his fun spirited personality. My step-mom is the CFO for the Phoenix Open
although she was unable to get me a formal interview with Owen, she was able to tell me where
he and his band would be getting drinks and having dinner before the show. My sister and I
showed up at the restaurant and made our way over to the bar area where he was sitting. He
immediately noticed my pass I was wearing and asked if we were excited for the show. I said yes,
but my sister said she wasnt a big county fan so she wasnt going. He said, If I get you a pass
would you go? She told him that if I could ask him a few questions should would go! (We all
laughed) He bought us a round of drinks, and we sat down for what he called a heart to heart
Q: You are golfing in the celebrity pro-am tomorrow How long have you been golfing for?
A: I have been playing since I was about 10. I actually got a full ride scholarship to Florida State
to play golf.
Q: How did you get into music?
A: I hurt my shoulder in a wakeboarding accident during the summer of my senior year, so that
kind of ended my golf career. Between pure boredom and depression I asked my neighbor if I
could borrow his guitar and the rest is history I guess.
Q: Do you write your own music?
A: I did for my first two albums but for my third I checked out some songwriters in Nashville.
Thats where Barefoot Blue Jean Nights came from
Q: What made you connect with that song?
A: I may not have wrote this song, but the first time I heard it I was convinced that I must have
wrote it in a different life because its my life and it sums up who I am perfectly.
Q: Whats your favorite song you have wrote?
A: Hands down it would be Dont think I cant love you
Why? A: I wrote it about my parents. Their relationship has been so amazing and it has given me
so much to aspire for in my own life.
Q: Whats your favorite song to play during a concert?
A: I literally like all kinds of music. I might start out with an old country song and then roll into
the fresh prince of bell- air (I can rap, Im sure you dont believe me, but you just wait)
Q: What were your musical influences?
A: George Strait, Allen Jackson and Mark Chestnut. Back when CD warehouse would send CDs
to your house I would go through the box before my dad got home and steal them. (laughs) I
loved the old country sounds I guess.
Q: Does the audience affect your performance?
A: Absolutely, sometimes an audience is so dry that it is even hard to finish my set list. Other
times I go the band and add to my set list. Since Ive grown as a performer I have learned to vibe
off the audience and customize my show to them.
Q: Do you think that your lyrics set the tone for the show?
A: Ive never really thought about it like that but yeah my songs are about having a good time
so I think thats what people expect to do when they come to one of my shows. The abundance
of alcohol helps that become a reality.
Q: Does the venue change the tone of your performance?
A: Sometimes I do shows in venues that are so large that its hard to connect with the audience
and to make them feel like we are all friends hanging out. When its a larger venue though I have
more people to vibe off and it becomes a big party. Tonights venue it pretty small though and I
heard it will be the wildest party crowd I have ever preformed in front of so Im pumped!
The sold out 21 and up Jake Owen Concert was no exception to the rule that country music fans
know how to have a good time. The sold out 6,200 standing room only venue was ready for a
good time. Everyone was ready for a good time after a day of golf by the time the superstar
stepped onstage with barefoot and blue jeans. His signature look in light of his hit single
Barefoot Blue Jean Night The show started with Owen performing this current hits "Anywhere
With You" and "The One That Got Away." He immediately showed off his corky side by
rapping his own rendition of Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby, and the The Fresh Prince of Bell-Air
theme song. He got really into it, and the crowd got really into it. Although the crowd was
singing along to every song, the crowd erupted when he performed his top hits, "Beachin'," and
"Barefoot Blue Jean Night". During "Barefoot Blue Jean Nights," two fans who were singing
along with every word were brought on stage for what Owen referred to as "mini Arizona Idol"
where they sang and the crowd cheered for who they thought was the best.
Owen lived up to his party like concert reviews and put on a great show. Everyone was dancing,
drinking and having a great time. Due to the fact that the VIP section had a free open bar there
was several people thrown up for being too intoxicated, between that and all the patrons
stumbling out of the venue everyone seemed to have a good time.
I interviewed my sister Ashley after the show and much to my surprise she really enjoyed herself.
Q: Was the concert how you thought it would be?
Ashley: No not at all I think it was going to be all depressing with slow songs and old cowboys.
Q: Did you think that the audience enjoyed it?
Ashley: Yeah I have been to a lot of concerts and I havent seen a crowd get so excited as they
did when he started rapping. It was really cool how he brought the people up for AZ idol too.
Q: Would you go to another country concert?
A: Yeah, if it was anything like tonights concert I definitely would.

In my ethnographic research on country music I have come to understand that it is one of the
most stero-typed and misunderstood genres of music. The country music culture is defined by its
lyrics and its distinct characteristics in its music. The beliefs of this culture is having fun and
enjoying life to the fullest while remembering the ups and downs. I have come to realize that
some of the stereotypical misconceptions in country music is that its all the same. Another
misconception that I discovered was that the material culture of country music is just about the
same as the aesthetic qualities of the culture. One might believe that in order to really participate
in the culture a hundred percent, you must have a cowboy hat, boots and jeans to play the part.
This is what I like to call the "gone country effect", when people attend a country concert they
feel as if they need to submerge themselves into the culture. Like all music country music is
evolving and one of the biggest trends in country music right now is Crossover Country. And
according to Wikipedia, This is when Country pop, with roots in both the countrypolitan sound
and in soft rock, is a subgenre of country music that first emerged in the 1970s. Although the
term first referred to country music songs and artists that crossed over to Top 40 radio. With the
crossover artists like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Jana Kramer we are forced to take a
different look at country music. Regardless of the country music genre or sub-genre the music
nearly always has lyrics that are very significant. The words usually tell a story and relates to the
listeners life experiences.
Country music would be a much more relatable genre if people would not have a preconceived
idea of what country music is. There is all different types of country music and country music
listeners. What I have concluded from my research is that country music is about having a good
time. Dancing, singing and enjoying life!


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"Booze, Breakups and Momma: Country Music Stereotypes And reality." Oasis of Thought. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

Hough, Chelsea. "Jake Owen." Top Five Concerts to See (2014).

"Lady Antebellum - Biography." Country Music. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

Millard, Bob. Country Music: 70 Years of America's Favorite Music. New York:
HarperPerennial, 1993. Print.

"The Story of Music City." Nashville, Tennessee Guide to Nashville Tourism and Visitors. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.