(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)
me this: why does a fledgling music festival just miles away from Nashville outdraw Fan Fair by a huge margin? Answer: because
it should, given the temporal ebbs and flows of popular music.
The Bonnaroo music festival -- at least for now -- is
an anomaly; an immediate answer to a generational music need. It seems to address a generation that has not had its big music
festival and wants one. Whereas Fan Fair has become a lasting answer to a music genre's need for an enduring tradition. Oddly
enough, Bonnaroo is a rural festival; Fan Fair has been turned into an urban one. Ninety-five per cent of Bonnaroo attendees
camped out; it's a safe bet a lot of Fan Fair's people would like to be able to camp out.
Bonnaroo sold something
like 82,000 tickets without any advertising and without Ticketron. The fest's organizers sent e-mails to the Web sites of
their major artists and --presto! -- major sales. The talent lineup was curious, but effective, for a young demographic. The
majority of the fest's audience seemed to be roughly 20-35 or so, but the show's stars included the aging Dead, 57-year-old
Neil Young and the gracefully aging Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams. .
Given the temper of e-mail I've received
about last week's column regarding Fan Fair, a lot of people are concerned about the future of country music. The most troubling
messages I've received echo one central theme: people are wondering about leadership in country music right now. They openly
want to know who's steering the ship. Everybody in the music business seems to be out for their own immediate gain -- at least
that's the fans' perception.
Meanwhile, e-mail about Fan Fair is running about 99 percent in favor of keeping it as
a purely country music event. Here are some samples:
"You have a great idea about making the big stars show
up. As it stands, I do not plan to go again."
"I would love to ask these artists what other place in the world
is a better place and time than Fan fair to promote their music and career? I mean, these are the fans that could either make
them or break them."
"I have attended the last five Fan Fairs and this is the second year that Tim and Faith
have not shown up ... no Toby this year ... no Travis Tritt. ..."
"Country music fans are a different breed
and we like our state and country fairs and we like to keep them country. It's just a damn shame that everything comes down
to the bean counters."
"We spend a lot of money to make the trip to Nashville and I think that the stars 'owe'
us the respect of showing up. After all, we showed up to buy their records and to buy concert tickets."
take Fan Fair away from country music fans. There have already been enough changes that have driven the 'real' fans away."
"I have been proud to attend Fan Fair for the last seven years. ... I won't attend Fan Fair (or whatever the new name will
be) if it represents anything other than country."
"Let me get one thing straight. Does Fan Fair exist to promote
country music or to make money for the CMA?"
"This was my first year to ever attend, and it is absolutely 'Country
Music Heaven.' The celebrity softball game was an experience in itself, to see so many country music stars! They came over
and signed autographs and let us take pictures and talked one on one! The Convention Center is a little frustrating, having
to get a ticket in order to wait in line all day to meet the country star. We waited four hours between two different booths
just to meet and talk with Steve Azar. It was worth it!"
"The problem with Fan Fair is the high-handed way the
CMA runs it. They have lost sight of their original agenda -- to promote and expose country music. Now days it's all about
the money. Most major artists have become keenly aware of this and have backed off. ... I don't think it's fair to blame the
"It is a crime to change something that has worked so well for 32 years. Also, we don't need any more
people trying to de-countrify country."
And a couple of people wrote to remind me that the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage
Festival is not as pure as I'd like it to be: this year's artists also included Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan,
John Hiatt, Lil' Romeo, LL Cool J, Gladys Knight, Los Lobos, John Mayer, Mavis Staples, Widespread Panic and Lucinda Williams.
fans have also spoken out about their favorite 100 Greatest Country Songs, and the result is a bit different from the CMT
100 Greatest Songs of Country Music.
Here's the CMT Top 10 songs from the 100: Stand by Your Man, He Stopped Loving
Her Today, Crazy, Ring of Fire, Your Cheatin' Heart, Friends in Low Places, I Fall to Pieces, Galveston, Behind Closed Doors,
Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.
Contrast that with the fans' Top 10: The Dance, God Bless
the U.S.A., He Stopped Loving Her Today, Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning), Crazy, Friends in Low Places, Devil
Went Down to Georgia, Independence Day, When You Say Nothing at All, I Hope You Dance.
The fans' overall list centers
more on more recent songs -- but not exclusively. It also reminds everyone that Garth Brooks may be retired, but he's certainly
not forgotten. To view the entire fan-voted list of 100, click here.