Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel (photo: Kurt Wolff)
Did you know that October is Country Music Month? It was first designated back in 1964 by the Country Music Association to celebrate the heritage of the music, the Grand Ole Opry, and the annual CMA awards, which–guess what–also traditionally happen in October or November (this year it’s Nov. 9). A not-so-strange coincidence, perhaps–but whatever the origin, it’s a good excuse to dig deep into the world of country music, including surfacing some great free country music downloads on MP3.com.
Country music is based on centuries-old folk music and Tin Pan Alley pop. The music’s commercial origin, though, came with a set of 1922 recordings by old-time fiddler Eck Robertson and Henry Gilliland.
Fiddlin’ John Carson, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Carter Family popularized the music further, followed by innovative artists such as Bob Wills (the “king of western swing”), Ernest Tubb (one of the early leaders in electrified honky-tonk music), Bill Monroe (the “father of bluegrass”), and of course Hank Williams, who was, without a doubt, one of the greatest songwriters in 20th century popular music, country or otherwise.
Country music today, of course, is an entirely different beast, dominated by flashy stage shows and production values the sort that Hank, Lefty, or Mother Maybelle Carter could never have dreamed. Old-school legends like Merle Haggard, Ralph Stanley, and George Jones are still out there working hard, however, cheered on by sizeable communities of lifelong fans.
And if you dig deeper, you’ll find all sort of indie artists who take contemporary approaches to traditional genres like western swing and bluegrass. It may seem like Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum dominate the scene, but truth is, the world of country music is still wildly diverse.
All this week on MP3.com we will celebrate the kickoff of Country Music Month by featuring quality country music from a wide range of genres, some of whom we’ve featured on the site in months past but are well worth calling attention to once more.
Let’s get things started today with a catchy, lively song from Black Rust:
Next, dip your toes into some truly dark and spooky “Blackwater,” courtesy of the Broadsides:
And finally, crank up some high-energy radio-friendly rhythms courtesy of Texan Mark McKinney:
And then stay tuned to MP3.com for more free country music downloads all week long.
Explore more country music on MP3.com: