Scanning the Countryside: No Last Word on Country

Barry Mazor | May 2nd, 2011

When the venerable Vercher boys let me know recently that things were drawing to a hard stop for this site, I can’t say that I was entirely shocked, because a) they’d made it clear, even publicly, that tending to this work was beginning to demand drastic amounts of time they’d not quite expected, a real issue for daily bloggers and site editors alike and because b) for music reporting and commentary of virtually all varieties, it’s pretty tough all over these days. This ending things just keeps on happening. So I’m unshocked—but as one of the oldest country lyrics of them all would put it, going down this road’s got me feeling bad.

I do believe that The 9513 has been providing a service that’s genuinely unique, a place where country music of any stripe—yet with contemporary mainstream country very much included, respected, and featured among those ranks—could be reported on, taken seriously enough to be subject to criticism, and provided along with an open invitation for intelligent discussion.

The invitation has often been excitingly well taken, and sometimes, it could seem, only half-taken, since a site as fundamentally open as this one has been leaves itself open to serial posting by a few who make caustic, belligerent, or allegedly clever pokes at anybody else bothering to write or comment thoughtfully their personal sport, and say so. (Not that you couldn’t tell who they are, anyhow, because sooner or later they always get around to suggesting that it’s the site-hired writers who have “ego” issues, and not perhaps obsessive self-appointed snark mongers themselves.)

For all I know, there have been plenty among the some 130,000 individual visitors the 9513’s been attracting a month who’ve been reading it (without comment) for that very heat rather than the attempts at light, though I’ve rarely heard anyone say so. A few, in fact, have suggested to me, offsite, that they’ve not posted here, just read in interest, so as not to get sucked into the spats, or be subject to massive response on the slightest mention of certain artists. More importantly though, a good many from the majority who’ve been reading all this in silence say they’ve come here to follow the news the Verchers have provided and the writers they’ve assembled.

I’ll predict right now that long after this site’s a memory, the younger, newer writers that have been given a voice here—Juli Thanki, Karlie Justis, Jim Malec, Chris Neal, Blake Boldt, and the Verchers themselves (not meaning, at all, to exclude others by singling some personal favorites out)—will be finding places to talk about country, and readers checking out what they have to say. It may be a little tougher than at any time in the past decades to find venues for that talk, but talent, like country music, will abide.

My column for this month was set to be a report on and right after the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Medallion Ceremony show, which is coming up on May 22nd, celebrating the induction of three outstanding new members, Reba McEntire, Jean Shepard, and Bobby Braddock. Well, the report’s not going to happen now, but that trio is a testament to country music’s sustainability. Reba has been a vocal and role model for a generation of younger singers by now, able to go as broad and pop and blatantly sexy and physical as anyone had in the field, score hits on Broadway and prime time TV and still get down home as anybody could need her to be when the mood strikes, still scoring top of the charts hits while she’s at it. The great Jean Shepard has been a steady, outspoken champion of hard country honky tonk and the Grand Ole Opry family for nearly 60 years now, a great, distinctive voice and a breakthrough artist for feisty, frank country women everywhere, second fiddle to none. And the witty, warm-hearted, open-minded Bobby Braddock, who’d be a songwriter to remember always if he’d only written “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” is still writing remarkable songs, contemporary hits, for the likes of Blake Shelton and Toby Keith thirty years later.

With that sustainability over time, and their unquestionable ability to speak right to country audiences, they’re what country is especially about, what it’s for. And they remain worth talking about, as do—pro or con, up or down, instantly or finally recognized, gifted or industry-induced—an ongoing range of new country artists of various flavors, stripes, background experiences, and sounds.

The conversations, no doubt, will continue. There are no “last words’ on country.

I know that I’ll keep on scanning. And I’ll see you somewhere further down the road.

2 Pings

  1. [...] Lastly, file this under things that don’t suck: Barry Mazor — despite being all kinds of busy himself — was kind enough to write a closing column here. [...]
  2. [...] The best country music blog in the country is no more. Barry Mazor says something I just want to highlight, considering the Feministe brouhaha: I do believe that The 9513 has been providing a service that’s genuinely unique, a place where country music of any stripe—yet with contemporary mainstream country very much included, respected, and featured among those ranks—could be reported on, taken seriously enough to be subject to criticism, and provided along with an open invitation for intelligent discussion. [...]
  1. numberonecountryfan
    May 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Hopefully, someone else can take over the 9513 and continue the fine traditions set here by so many!

  2. Patti
    May 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    awww no,don’t go!

  3. Paul W Dennis
    May 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Nice send off Barry. I agree with everything you said – I could have said the sames things myself, but never with your eloquence

  4. Rickster
    May 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Well at least we’ll still have AOL’s “the Boot” and “CMT.com” to fill the void left by the demise of The 9513…NOT! Damn, now I’ll actually have to do work to keep myself occupied at the office. Sheesh!

    Nice send off Barry. Its nice to go out with style and panache, concepts utterly foreign to me personally…

  5. Matt B
    May 2, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Classy article, Barry. Loved this site and sad to see y’all go.

    What Rick, no love for Roughstock? :)

  6. MayorJobob (Colin)
    May 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    I will truly miss this blog. It was very well written and seriously written. There will be no other for me. Thanks for the memories!

  7. Fred Williams
    May 3, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Sort of like having your family doctor retire, Thanks for your contributions.

  8. Rickster
    May 3, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Matt, If I would have won one of your CD give away contests in the last year or so I might have given Roughstock one final plug here at The 9513! (lol)

    PS – Roughtstock does deserve a brownie point for recently featuring the gangstagrass song “Long Hard Times To Come”!

  9. Writeman
    May 3, 2011 at 11:39 am

    You’ve got thousands of subscribers. That’s a market ready to be advertised to. Can’t you sell the site to an enterprising individual/company? Did you try to do something like this? I’ll really miss what you guys have done.

  10. Jim Malec
    May 3, 2011 at 11:57 am

    There are definitely people–myself included–who would have been happy to help keep the site going, and to do so in a number of scenarios. I have talked to a couple of the writers here, and I know that the staff would have liked to keep it going. But Brady and Brody have always held themselves and their work to extremely high standards–it’s one of the reasons The 9513 became what it did. So, from that standpoint, I can understand them not wanting to turn it over and have it be out of their control.

  11. Leeann Ward
    May 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Ditto. I don’t think the site would be the same without them. Other people can attempt to fill the void (though I doubt the possibility of it) with their own sites.

  12. TXmusicjim
    May 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I will miss this blog Barry and everyone else did a helluv a job!

  13. Holly Gleason
    May 7, 2011 at 10:00 am

    There was something to be said for coming and reading… not needing to be part of the disucssion because it was so incredibly healthy.
    And you, Barry, doing what you do is ALWAYS such an unbelievable pleasure.
    You are such a measured voice & strong perspective, and what you were able to do here is, honestly, some of my favorite stuff of your’s — and it’s all pretty damn wonderful.

    Sad times, a loss to the dialogue for sure, but what a beautiful elegy you’ve crafted. Thank you for remaining such a powerful perspective, even in something that’s making me as sad as this news.

  14. Barry Mazor
    May 19, 2011 at 3:06 am
  15. Barry Mazor
    July 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    July 2011 Update: I, and a number of the writers from 9513, now appear on Juli Thank’s “Engine 145″.
    Here: http://www.engine145.com/blog/

  16. Madred
    August 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I’d be open to buying the website and the full scope of things. I’d even welcome back the original writers, reviewers and others looking for work. I think this website could reclaim it’s glory days. If you are interested in selling, I am open to buying with your original vision intact.

  17. Barry Mazor
    September 21, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I’ll say it again, later. If you liked this then, you’ll like this now:

    http://www.engine145.com/blog/

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