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Modern Country set - tunes worth playing and that go over?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by hrodbert696, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    So I replied to a FB call from a guitarist I know, talking about putting together some modern country music for gigs. His background is more blues and I think we'll be leaning that way, but the idea is to play to a more country crowd. He threw about fifty tunes in dropbox and I've been going through them, and... to be honest, I can hear what a lot of people are complaining about. A lot of this stuff is really just cheesy pop that's pitched as "country" because it has cliche lyrics about work boots and pickup trucks, a twangy voice, and a banjo.

    That said, though, I'm hearing other tunes that are well-written and interesting to listen to and to play. Not writing to bash on country music, seems like all genres it has its good and its bad. The question is, me not being a close follower of the country scene, can the TB hive mind aim me at more of the good stuff and help me bypass the crud? What are some modern country tunes that you find going over successfully and that are not pure cheez-whiz to play?
  2. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    I like footloose. You can always scoop some of Nathan east’s bass lines and the modern recording is really good too.
    makaspar likes this.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Start with Jason Aldean - popular, good music, can work with a trio or larger group. When I get to work next week, I will send you the set list from my old band (we had a female singer on hall the tunes, but it will give you an idea).

    If you have the vocal chops, Lady Antebellum also has some nice stuff.

    Yes, you should do Wagon Wheel - it's the Mustang Sally of the genre, but encourage the audience to sing along.

    One advantage of the genre is that it is easy to fill in with tunes from other genres. Blues (Allman Bros.), Rock (38 Special, Skynyrd).
    MrLenny1, theduke1 and hrodbert696 like this.
  4. As with all genres, songs re-released as cover versions appeal to both the younger crowd AND the older crowd that liked the original.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  5. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    Red Solo Cup
    I Love This Bar
    Tennessee Whiskey
    Texas on my Mind
    Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off
    Aw Naw
    Head Over Boots
    Dance Her Home
    Let Me Down Easy
    Tonight Looks Good On You
    Something ‘Bout a Truck
    Is Someone Else Calling You Baby

    There’s a few for ya that a band I worked with last year were doing for a (relatively) younger audience.

    Here’s some popular guys to YouTube:
    Luke Bryant
    Jason Andean
    Kevin Fowler
    Eli Young
    And the rest of the ‘bros go over pretty well.

    Also, it seems that no matter what audience I play for, if there are boots and hats on the dance floor, you just can’t play too much Merle Haggard. No matter how you spin it, Workin’ Man Blues and The Bottle Let Me Down won’t ever get you in trouble. IMHO
    Jimmy4string and hrodbert696 like this.
  6. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    Are you getting together with Gordy? I saw his post. I've been playing th NH Country music scene for about 15 years now. We've been losing a lot of venues lately but hopefully some newer ones will be opening up. I've played everything from the small town Legions and Dead Animal clubs to the big party bars. Unfortunately, nowadays the cheez whiz is what goes over the best. My main country gig is with a singer-songwriter who is well established so we do a lot of originals. His style is more traditional/Americana so we do some classic country and newer stuff in the more traditional style. We cater to the cross-generational line dancing crowd which ranges from 20-80 year olds and is a blast to play. I've done some fill-in gigs with contemporary cover bands and the stuff the crowd loves is the Jason Aldean/Luke Bryan/Florida-Georgia Line stuff which I can't stand. , LOL, but all the younger, drunk people love it.

    That said, in my regular band, we try to do newer stuff like Zac Brown, Eric Church, Frankie Ballard, Brothers Osborne and newer stuff from Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, etc. I remember learning "American Kids" at soundcheck days after it came out. We added Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road" because it was so huge last year but I doubt we'd learn any of his other stuff. We do "Wagon Wheel" because everyone wants to hear it and it is fun to play. "Chicken Fried" and "Al Summer Long" are sure to get the crowd going and singing along. We do a bunch Dwight Yoakum and add Creedence, Eagles and Skynyrd stuff. You're going to have to do "Sweet Home Alabama", too.

    Let me know if you have any questions and how you guys make out.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  7. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Some of the new stuff makes me want to steer my truck into a bridge abutment. Real country music will drive a man to drink, dance, and go home with ugly women. That being said...

    Here's what we've interspersed in our set-lists:

    Couldn't Leave You If I Tried
    Neon Moon
    Shift Work
    He Stopped Loving Her Today
    Boot Scootin' Boogie
    Tulsa Time
    Don't Close Your Eyes
    A Man This Lonely
    Feels So Right
    Rainy Night
    Dumas Walker
    Nothing Short of Dying
    Fast As You
    Family Tradition
    Super Love
    That's Another Song
    I Want You Bad
    Born to Boogie
    Help Me Hold On
    6 Days on the Road
    The Auctioneer
    Guitars & Cadillacs
    Silver Wings
    Statue of a Fool
    Rub It In
    Before the Next Teardrop Falls

    Nothing wrong with the classics...feel free to update arrangements!

    hrodbert696 likes this.
  8. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Thanks for replies so far, and keep em coming! This is useful.

    Yep, this is Gordy and Diane's project. We're going to jam with the drummer from my originals group tonight and see where we go from there. I'll definitely let you know what happens.
  9. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    Cool. With Diane involved you can work in some more female sung songs like stuff from Miranda Lambert and the like.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  10. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Basically pick what was the top country hits of the last 5 years and your good. Sprinkle in some classic country, southern rock and your all set.
  11. Holdsg

    Holdsg I should be practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    if I never have to play another Florida Georgia Line song, I'll Die a Happy Man (that's a nod to a good Thomas Rhett song)

    I can't stand Luke Bryan, but you kinda hafta know some of his songs. The ones that I don't mind so much are:
    Rollercoaster, Fishin/Huntin/Luvin Every Day, and Drink a Beer. Oh and if you want butts to get on the dance floor and wiggle, you have to play Country Gril Shake it.

    I Like Aldean and Zac Brown. Eric Church, Billy Currington, and Eli Young Band. Some others will come in the list below.

    Really like Josh Turner and it helps that his voice range is same as mine.

    I've gotten good crowd response, and still like to play, the following.

    Drinkin Problem - Midland (played it when it first came out, before it blew up into a huge hit)
    Drink in My Hand - Eric Church
    You Can Have the Crown - Sturgill Simpson
    Why Don't We Just Dance - Josh Turner
    One Horse Town - Blackberry Smoke
    Good Directions - Billy Currington
    Dust - Eli Young Band
    Pretty Little Lie - Blackberry Smoke
    Don't It - Billy Currington
    Head over Boots - John Pardi
    You Look Like I Need a Drink - Justin Moore
    American Kids - Kenny Chesney
    You and Tequila - Kenny Chesney
    Toes - Zac Brown Band
    Make You Smile - Elle King (we do a girl song, yep, we do it our way, and everyone loves it)
    You - Chris Young
    It Ain't My Fault - Brothers Osborne
    Dirt on My Boots - John Pardi
    Small Town Boy - Justin Lynch

    plus, as has been said, a smattering of Merle, Willie, Lynyrd, Allmans, and Johnny Cash and you've got a good night.
    Jimmy4string and hrodbert696 like this.
  12. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    Oh yeah, we do Chris Stapleton's "Broken Halos" and it goes over real well.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  13. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    If he's more blues but you need country, mix in some Doug Sahm. They won't know it but they'll think they do... And they'll love it.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  14. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    That's the plan! Had our first jam session last night, and everyone really seemed to hit it off. Gordy already has a name - Whiskey Grim - and a logo, which we all liked. We played:

    Gunpowder and Lead/Miranda Lambert
    Tin Man/Miranda Lambert
    Bitch on the Run/Samantha Fish
    Can I Get an Outlaw/Luke Combs
    Goodnight Kiss/Randy Houser

    Those were by prior agreement. Then we just started calling out stuff, from more Samantha Fish (I'm a big fan and Diane knew Lay It Down) to Pink to Georgia Satellites to the Pretty Reckless. Country is to be the core of the band but we're figuring out where blues/rock/pop can (and can't) weave into it without losing the vibe.

    Those last two of the five we planned to play illustrate what I'm trying to figure out with modern country. The Luke Combs tune is a complaint that there isn't any old-school country any more - while itself sounding like Guns and Roses, not Johnny Cash. The Randy Houser tune sounds like OneRepublic with a twangy voice (no one was too enthused about it, but apparently Gordy and Diane are getting requests for it).
  15. makaspar

    makaspar Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Austin, TX
    Paging @BassCliff

    Personally, I like Jason Aldean and the new stuff along those lines. Just classic rock enough to appeal to those people, and country enough to appeal to the 20-30 country fan range.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  16. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    Ironic, huh? It's like that Jason Aldean "She's Country" song. The girl may Country but the song sure as hell ain't!
    Ekulati and hrodbert696 like this.
  17. female singer? You have to play plenty of:

    Gretchen Wilson
    Shania Twain (Man, I feel like a woman - KILLER)
    Miranda Lambert
    Carrie Underwood

    Maren Morris - My Church - great song, amazing how many people know EVERY WORD.

    Then put in some Patsy Cline, Reba McIntyre - this goes over very very well.

    Zac Brown Band - sorry, but Chicken Fried kills. EVERY TIME
    Eric Church
    Jason Aldean
    Big and Rich - again - Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy kills. zero chance of failure - people go bonkers.

    Good harmonies? Little White Church by Little Big Town, anything by Lady Antebellum or Sugarland....

    Wagon Wheel - I'm sorry, but yeah, it goes over very well.

    Parachute by Chris Stapleton has done well.....

    Throw in some Eagles, a few 1980's hair band power ballads, and a couple Journey songs - they will love you.

    Throw in a few fliers - we do Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls - people love it, we've done Two Princes by Spin Doctors, and they loved it...... We do Beat It, again, they love it.

    We are finding that with country in our area, you definitely need to mix some other genres in - otherwise it's like going to a bluegrass concert - after one set, it gets boring as heck. If you play all classic country, someone will need to wake the band up after the second set, to say nothing of the crowd (if they stick around) You need to mix it up.

    And keep an eye out for the 'real country music' people. don't get me started.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
    Groove Doctor and hrodbert696 like this.
  18. Guitar Town _Steve Earl
    Turn it up, Turn me loose -Dwight Yoakum
    Crazy -Patsy Kline
    Hell yeah I like beer- Kevin Fowler
    You're no Good -Linda Ronstadt
    X's and O's -Trish Yearwood
    Whiskey river -Willie
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  19. LUpton

    LUpton Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2012
    Tampa, FL
    Probably too old for this sh--
    Get the Zak Brown Greatest Hits disc, and pick any of them, or any 2 of them, or any 3 of them...
    RoadRanger and hrodbert696 like this.
  20. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    I was in a female fronted country band a few years ago, this is what we played and they went over very well.

    Band Perry - Done, Chainsaw, You Lie
    Gretchen - Redneck Woman, Here For The Party
    Carrie - Good Girl, Little Toy Guns, Cowboy Casanova, Two Black Cadillacs
    Kellie Pickler - Little Bit Gypsy, Red High Heels
    Kacey Musgraves - Stupid, Step Off, Follow Your Arrow
    Sara Evans - Slow Me Down, Real Fine Place
    Wreckers - Leave The Pieces
    Maddie and Tae - Girl In A Country Song
    Little Big Town - Pontoon, Day Drinking
    Reba - Turn On The Radio
    Miranda - Little Red Wagon, Kerosene, Automatic, Fastest Girl In Town
    Martina - God Fearing Women, This One's for The Girls
    Jessica Andrews - Who I Am
    Casadee Pope - Wasting Tears
    pwhalen and hrodbert696 like this.

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