Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's funny to think of New England as a country-music capital, but truth is country-music tours do better in the Northeast than just about anywhere else in the U.S. Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Toby Keith and the like are happy to saddle up in Massachsetts every summer and draw record crowds to Gillette Stadium, Comcast Center, and the like.

The situation with country is similar to what was going on with hard rock in the mid-90s. Limp Bizkit, Korn, and the Deftones were brewing up a new sound that caught on big in these parts. The local scene responded by pushing Godsmack and Staind into the national spotlight. Nightclubs, show promoters, and radio stations got behind the local heroes, and, well, you know the rest of the story.

"I don't think it's been the same for country artists," says Glenn Stewart, whose tough-edged country sound is in line with current trends. "I remember WAAF getting behind Godsmack and Staind, but country radio here isn't getting behind local artists the same way. And the rock clubs that will book a country band usually book bands playing an old-school sound."

The Coppertop knows a good thing when it sees one though, and is welcoming Stewart a few times this season after his band's crowd-pleasing performance at the mountain's BBQ fest in the fall. Stewart's Wachusett run begins New Year's Eve, when his band hits the stage at 9 p.m. The Coppertop has Stewart back for a 4 p.m. show Sunday Jan. 22 and a Saturday night show Feb. 25. And remember, there's no cover charge at the Coppertop, which seems pretty popular with music-loving skiers and riders (and especially with skiers' and riders' tag-alongs).

Stewart too is happy to be moving indoors at the Wah.

"There was a lot of BBQ smoke the last time I played there," he recalls. "It was one of those days when I wished I was the bass player again and not the singer."

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