Jason Aldean, Country Rock Pioneer

It was a game changer.

The difference between “She’s Country” and its predecessors was subtle but significant.

The guitars were more prominent – and downtuned to the point that the song’s Rock edge was unavoidable.

Let’s contrast with Aldean’s 2005 debut “Hicktown”…

Lot of guitars here…but they’re not as menacing. Plus they’re a little further back in the mix. Plenty of fiddles too.

Country Music’s always had its boundaries. A Pop boundary, a Rock boundary, an R&B boundary. Cross those lines and expect a backlash. But PUSH the boundaries a bit…and that’s where we’ll find Jason.

Here he is, pushing the R&B boundary.

And that little component of R&B we all like to call Hip-Hop.

Rap and steel guitars. And a lyric about small-town life. Of course Jason’s fans enjoy this stuff (as do I!) but the critical appreciation often waits. Mass-market music is rarely appreciated in its time.

It’s easy to overlook what Jason Aldean has accomplished, especially considering the Country-Rock pioneers that came before.

But Aldean, Johnny-come-lately that he may be, compared to the likes of Travis Tritt and Hank Jr., still took the trails they blazed and paved them over with his own attitude. Arguably, he made it possible for both Brantley Gilbert and Eric Church to achieve the level of success both have enjoyed.

Yet, unlike fellow travelers Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and a few others, it seems he’s managed to avoid being drawn into the middle of the whole “Not Country” controversy. Having songs in your repertoire like “Big Green Tractor” helps.

Most noteworthy, as I consider Jason Aldean’s career, is just how many of these boundary-pushers have made the top of the Country charts.

And even though we stream or download files now, instead of buying CDs, the record company behind the artist still matters. Before Jason Aldean, you had to be signed to one of the major labels – owned by Sony, Universal or Warner – to get a national audience.

No longer.

Aldean’s label, Nashville-based indie Broken Bow, stands toe-to-toe with the aforementioned global giants. Although Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine came along soon after, the success of each, no doubt, helped the other, along with blazing a trail for other independent labels. One of whom is breaking the first new female Country superstar in the better part of a decade.

If anyone deserved to be ACM Entertainer of the Year this year, it’s Jason Aldean.

His Six-String Circus will be in Burgettstown Saturday at the First Niagara Pavilion, with Thomas Rhett and A Thousand Horses opening.

 

Find out when the lots and gates open HERE.

Proper attire required if you wanna chance to meet Jason or the other artists. Of course you can always make your own Y108 Send Me Backstage shirt.

 

 

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