NASHVILLE SKYLINE: New York City: Gone Country

New Radio Station Is Just One Reason for Optimism in 2013

(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/ Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

Here are some encouraging musical signs that are developing in 2013:

New York City finally gets a full-time country radio station again. After 17 years of being country-less, New York airwaves reawaken to the sounds of country as WXRP goes country. The station is now WNSH 94.7 -- which will be nicknamed "Nash FM 94.7." Cumulus Radio honcho Lew Dickey said it will spread the "country lifestyle" via radio, an online presence and a forthcoming magazine. It will be, he said, a "multiplatform entertainment brand." What remains to be seen -- and heard -- is the station's music programming. Will it be just more of the standard, same mainstream radio hits over and over? I don't think New York and its listening area audience would support that.

Back years ago when I lived in Manhattan, WHN-AM was one of the best radio stations ever, period. Not just the best country station. With such jocks as Jessie Scott and program director Ed Salamon playing artists from Willie and Waylon and Kinky Friedman and Freddy Fender and Delbert McClinton, the station had a wide audience, not only in Manhattan but also in all the boroughs and Long Island and New Jersey. It also became Billboard's station of the year. By the way, Salamon has a new book coming out which will recall those great country days in New York City, when the Lone Star Café was jumping every night. By the way, whatever happened to WHN? Its owners flipped it to WFAN, as America's first talk sports station in 1987.

Replanted Nashvillian Jack White's Third Man Records will reissue the complete recorded works of three seminal American blues artists. In conjunction with Scotland's Document Records, pioneer recordings by country blues masters Charley Patton, Blind Willie McTell and the Mississippi Sheiks will be issued on vinyl on Tuesday (Jan. 29).

Patton was the acknowledged Father of the Delta Blues, McTell was the 12-string guitar champion of Piedmont blues and the Sheiks were a fiddle and guitar country blues group from the 1930s. White plans further such reissues in the future.

If I may be allowed a salute to my own company, a hearty well-done to CMT for its forthcoming Next Women of Country campaign. Featured will be Ashley Monroe, Holly Williams, Jana Kramer, Kelleigh Bannen, Sarah Darling, Kacey Musgraves, Lauren Alaina, Rose Falcon, Brandy Clark and Rachel Farley. Supporting young country women is important because few people and companies do.

The last such media roundup of young country women singers was Maxim magazine's "Hottest Women of Country Music" series aka "Meat on the Hoof." I trust that CMT's initiative will more seriously explore each woman's music.

Another personal favorite, Sunny Sweeney, finally gets a well-deserved ACM nomination. For new female vocalist of the year, of all things. Better late than never, I guess.

Charlie Peacock, the artist and the producer of the Civil Wars' Barton Hollow album, has been working with the Brooklyn, N.Y., country group the Lone Bellow.

Finally, two seemingly ageless country legends, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard return with new releases. Kris' album of new songs is Feeling Mortal and Haggard's collection of past songs is The Complete '60s Capitol Singles. It contains 28 A & B sides in their original mono.

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