Friday, February 17, 2006

Music History

Like I said, now that I live in South Georgia, I listen to a heckuva lot of country music these days. One band that always got my ear was this new band, Sugarland. Not because of the music or even the lyrical arrangements, but because the voice of the singer always sounded strangely familiar to me. But that happens when you listen to a lot of good vocalists for a long long time, so I thought nothing of it.

Even when Sugarland showed up with Bon Jovi on CMT's Crossroads (a helluva show, BTW), I watched a little bit. I enjoyed it, but I didn't think much of it. I've seen their videos, didn't really pay that much attention.

Then, tonight, I'm chillin at the house, unwinding from the workweek, surfing channels to end up watching music videos on VH1 Country. Bon Jovi and the Sugarland vocalist I identify as the lead singer and the owner of that hauntingly familiar voice is on my screen. I'm about to turn the channel when the credits appear at the bottom of the screen.

Bon Jovi with Jennifer Nettles.

I fell out of my chair.

No wonder I recognized the voice. When did she grow her hair out and start singin' country? I reckon she's done alright for herself if she's cuttin' videos with the Jersey Boys.

But I just can't help feeling now that Sugarland is a step down from Soul Miner's Daughter, no matter how successful they are. Guess I'll just have to play the albums side by side to make sure.


petallic said...

Soul Miner's Daughter split up years ago, as I'm sure you know. The Jennifer Nettles Band, with Brad Sikes as drummer (a friend of both mine and Sprout's) split up about two years ago...when Jennifer went country with Sugarland. She and Kristian Bush (of Billy Pilgrim fame) and Kristen Hall (of Indigo Girls' guitarist fame) joined together to make a truly unique trio.

Kristen has recently left the band to work on her own passion, song writing.

I prefer Jennifer's older stuff, as it was BETTER. However, as she explained to me herself, they couldn't get signed doing what they were doing. Sad, really. She writes amazing lyrics and now she's writing tripe like, "I'm so broke it ain't funny." I've seen her perform twice as Soul Miner's Daughter, four times as the Jennifer Nettles Band, and twice as Sugarland. Sugarland's fine for country music (and it pains to me to say that because I love country music), but it can't hold a candle to her earlier music.

It's more interesting to me because for years now Jennifer's largest fan base has been lesbians (though she is married to a man), and Sugarland concerts are therefore hilarious. Lesbians and country fans: it's a beautiful thing. My lesbian friends put on overalls and cowboy hats and do it right.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Tell the truth, I thought the Jennifer Nettles Band was still gigging around Atlanta.

But I reckon that shows how much I pay attention to bands that vanish into the Atlanta music scene...

Does anyone know what happened to Cory after Soul Miners broke up? I mean, he's not going to show up as the new lead singer for INXS or anything, is he?

Chris said...

Yeah, I had the same experience a while back after it dawned on me that Jennifer Nettles was in Sugarland. But in fairness to you Pat, she hasn't made good music since Soul Miner's Daughter broke up. Sorry to those Nettle's Band and Sugarland folks, but the packed, sweaty, sexually-charged Soul Miner's shows at the 40watt and DT's cannot be improved upon. As far as I'm concerned, they marked the pinnacle of the Athens music scene (ain't seen shit since....and yeah, I've heard John "I suck so hard I scared people out of a show" Mayer)

petallic said...

Chris, I didn't think I would like the Jennifer Nettle's Band, but I did after a opposed to the Soul Miner's Daughter stuff that moved me the first time I heard it. She and Cory just had something, and once it was gone, it was gone. In other words, I agree with you. I do, however, still love her subsequent releases. I even have Sugarland's CD, purchased purely out of my affection for her, and though it is hugely inferior to her earlier music, I am still able to enjoy it purely for her vocals. It is catchy stuff but completely lacks the earth-moving verve of Soul Miner's Daughter. I'm listening to my SMD "Sacred and Profane" right now, and I'm not sure she'll ever create anything that compares.

Russell said...

I saw Sugarland at the Dogwood Festival last spring and I was stunned. In between songs, she spoke to the crowd with the thickest and worst fake country accent I had ever heard.

I said aloud; "I don't remember her having that accent when she was with Soul Miner's". My comment got more than a few chuckles. It was at that moment that I knew that Nashville was full of it.

petallic said...

blog this,
While I understand your disdain for anyone selling out, I do not begrudge Jennifer for adapting to what will sell. My hope is that after she achieves some fame and financial security, she will return to her more soulful lyrics. The days of my (and her) idealistic youth are behind me, and reality is far more precious than pipe dreams. And as to the accent, she is from the South, so whether she chooses to don of doff a Southern accent is totally up to her. While living abroad, I completely dropped my southern accent, but took it back on within a week of my return. It happens. I see that as my right as a southerner.

A former flatmate of mine from South Africa despised Charlize Theron for dropping her accent and becoming Americanized. I see it as survival of the fittest. Adapt or become extinct.

S.A.W.B. said...

I was never a fan of SMD, but then again, I hate everything, so it was to be expected. That said, she might have a better time turning herself into a songwriter up in Nashvegas, selling her tunes to other folks, and THEN go about the re-imaging to bring her old style of stuff back.

/btw, the pinnacle of ridiculity was when SMD brought a black boys choir to the 40 watt as part of their 'backing band' that night. just thought i'd throw that out there...