Can New York get in a country groove?

Cma_1Given its place in pop-music history—punk in the ’70s, hip-hop in the ’80s and ’90s—New York would probably check the latter box if Donny and Marie posed the question: Are you a little bit country or a little bit rock ’n’ roll? With the exception of last year’s questionable cowboy-hat trend and this year’s equally questionable cowboy-boot trend, New Yorkers like to think of themselves as setting the bar for urban chic—that means Dolce & Gabbana, not dungarees, and Hummers, not Hemis. Regardless, it seems the country-music industry aims to make New York an eensty weensty bit country by hosting the Country Music Association Awards tonight at Madison Square Garden. Is it really so strange? Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy knew “every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway,” and Garth Brooks’ concert in 1997 is purported to have been the biggest ever in Central Park. I wasn’t around for that one, but I can tell you that Dolly Parton’s gig at Radio City Music Hall had its share of exquisitely manicured rustlers sporting boots, buckles and graphic-T’s that read, among other things, “Top Loader.” (Maybe Dolly is the country-music equivalent of Cher.) Without a country-music station in New York, concert promoters have to work via word of mouth, and while it’s hard to imagine New Yorkers cuddling up to neutered peons to domesticity, Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” might strike a chord with urban slangsters. And R&B and country-music artists have been sharing ballads for years. Taking a chance to move a market is admirable, but a one-night stand in the Big Apple armed with crossover artists (Paul Simon and Bon Jovi are on the bill) just won’t do it. Manhattan-based country-music lovers will just do the shuffle of shame back into the closet the morning after. Unless a country-music station puts down roots in New York, brunch will never be on the table. And even then, it may only be at Shopsin’s.

—Posted by Deanna Zammit