I’m going where there’s…

21.gif68sm.jpg68sm.jpgWhen I first discovered the magazine No Depression in the late ’90s, I was ecstatic. Here was a magazine devoted to the kind of music I loved and named after the greatest album of the decade and the the Carter Family classic covered thereon. At that time, the subtitle was something like “a magazine devoted to Alternative Country (whatever that is)”. It is thanks to ND that I discovered Whiskeytown, Old 97s, Waco Brothers, Robbie Fulks, Bottle Rockets, Drive-By Truckers and on and on. Also, they featured great established artists that I was previously embarrassed to admit I liked (without irony), such as Dwight Yoakum, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson. They also pointed me to great artists I had missed like Gram Parsons.

Now, the more inclusive/less-focused subtitle is “Surveying the past, present, and future of American Music”. My guess is they changed it because alt-country became a term that described a musical moment that had broadened widely (thankfully). And I still look forward to the magazine. The most recent issue turned me on to a great new group–The Carolina Chocolate Drops–and had reviews of some of my favorites–Cherryholmes, King Wilkie, Adrienne Young, etc. This is not my concern with the magazine. My concern is not with the reviews and small articles; it is with the features.

68.jpgOver the last three issues, we have seen The Shins (indie pop) and Miranda Lambert (mainstream country) on the cover and now a five plus page article on Mandy Moore. This mainstream music just doesn’t fit. I know it might be a conscious decision to bring folks interested in this music into the ND fold and expose them to good music while improving their circulation. But, I would prefer if they would return to featuring the music and musicians–old and new–that first brought devoted fans to the magazine. It was their focus on artists underrepresented in the mainstream music media that made that made the magazine unique and so appreciated.

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