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Miranda Lambert to Headline Sonoma County Fair

Posted by: on Apr 23, 2010 | Comments (0)

Aw, hell yeah: the announcement is in, and Miranda Lambert is headlining the Chris Beck Arena at the Sonoma County Fair on Monday, August 2!

I’ve gushed a bit about Miranda Lambert before—she’s a young Nashville singer who actually writes her own songs. When she decides to do covers, she chooses John Prine (“That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round“) and Fred Eaglesmith (“Time to Get a Gun“). For anyone who’s grown up in a small town—and let’s face it, sometimes Santa Rosa feels like Mayberry—she’s also got “Famous In a Small Town.”

It’s hard to write about Lambert without mentioning Taylor Swift, but judging by the results of the Academy of Country Music Awards this past Sunday night, Lambert could be surpassing Swift; she took home Album of the Year, Video of the Year and Top Female Vocalist honors. (Swift ain’t even in the results at all.)

Tickets are $25 for the grandstand and $40 for the floor. They go on sale at the Fairgrounds box office with no service charge on Saturday, May 15. Online sales don’t start until May 17! “A lot of people like to purchase their tickets in person,” says Fair publicist Marlina Harrison, “or as incredible as it seems, don’t have access to a computer.” Right on!

Harrison also says they’re working on booking another rock headliner for the Chris Beck Arena, but can’t reveal any names right now. Stay tuned.

Why Does Taylor Swift Win Awards?

Posted by: on Feb 1, 2010 | Comments (5)

Dad: “Maybe when you have time you can explain to me why Taylor Swift wins Grammy Awards.”

Me: “Yes, I can do that. As long as you explain to me why she still makes that patently fake ‘surprised’ look every time she wins, after a solid year of winning every award in sight.”

The short version is that the Grammys are run by horny old white men. Mostly.

The longer version involves some dissection of her appeal, which starts with the basics (pretty) and trickles down to the more esoteric (girl actually writes her own songs). No viewer alien to the nominees context last night would have heard Taylor’s flat singing and predicted her to win over Lady Gaga, who stole the show, but I’ll bet there’s a substantial handful of Grammy voters who know she writes her own tunes.

It’s a big deal in country music, writing your own songs. Country music is the last popular music in America that relies heavily on a concentrated Brill-Building-style stable of songwriters, which is why much of it is predictable and sounds like “hit” material. (I sometimes wish rappers used songwriters, just as an experiment. I also wish rappers did covers of other rapper’s songs. Will explore this sometime in the future.) So for Taylor Swift to come out and write her own songs rocks that tradition and brings it back to a purer, more authentic Nashville that the average Grammy voter wishes once existed.

“Authenticity” is big up on Taylor Swift’s requirements—check the reaction again: the blank stare, the open mouth, the cupping palm—and she makes sure that all the hella fake-ass things about her don’t overshadow it. Plus, universal appeal, duh. Her songs are the kinds of songs that old people wish their kids would write, and that kinds of songs that make young people think, I could have written that. They are not shitty songs, keep in mind.

Does that explain it?

I can get behind Taylor Swift and all—there’s far worse role models for teenage girls to have, and far lousier pop music—but my vision is always stained by the Young Girls in Nashville Who Write Their Own Songs War of 2006. Pretty much it was Taylor Swift vs. Miranda Lambert, and Taylor won because she’s skinnier and younger and skinnier and blonder and skinnier and writes pop-country songs instead of country-country songs. (“Famous in a Small Town.” Watch that shit!) With silver medal in tow, Miranda Lambert has laid low, opening for Kenny Chesney and recording John Prine and friggin’ Fred Eaglesmith songs. (“Time to Get a Gun.” Watch that shit!) Still regret missing her headline the small indoor theater at Konocti.