Signs Country Music is Rising in Boston

Image Credit: rowelbg via Flickr

Until recently, country music’s relationship with Boston was best captured by Taylor Swift’s monstrous unrequited-love hit, “You Belong with Me.”

If you could see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along, so why can’t you see?
You belong with me

Maybe that’s overstating the plight, but believe it or not, Boston does have a strong country following that doesn’t get the attention it truly deserves. Country tours have hit Gilette Stadium, the Bank of America Pavilion, the Comcast Center, and just about every venue not in the city, but we continue to ignore its vast fan-base and banish it just beyond 495.

Things may be turning around for the country lovers, though. WKLB, or 102.5 FM, reported today that it’s been named the Country Music Association’s 2012 Major Market Station of the Year, topping Phoenix, Portland, OR, Washington, DC, and Baltimore. (Yes, there is a country station in Boston. No, you’re not the only one who’s surprised.)

In even bigger news: Live Nation announced last week that Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert will play Fenway Park on July 13, marking the first time (“like, ever,” as Swift would say) a country music star will have the Green Monstah as his backdrop.

And, oh, is the media having a field day with their baseball puns.

From the Herald: “Fenway not swinging for fence with Jason Aldean”

And then there’s the Washington Post: “Out of left field: Country star Jason Aldean announces shows at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park”

The point there is that it’s shocking that Fenway, whose field has been graced by the likes of Springsteen, Aerosmith, and the Rolling Stones, would choose a country man as its summer sellout. The Herald‘s Jed Gottlieb is far from impressed with the announcement. Though he’s positive “modern country lovers who pack the park will have a rip-roaring time” (you can almost hear him saying “rip-roaring” in a mocking Southern accent), he just doesn’t think the Aldean/Lambert lineup is… wait for it… “legendary.” It’s simply not good enough for the Fens. Why not get Jay-Z or Beyoncé? Why not get Jay-Z and Beyoncé? These are the questions plaguing Gottlieb. The funny part is that in the poll beside his blog post, asking what readers’ fantasy Fenway bill would be, the most popular response (33%) is from those who say they’re happy with Aldean and Lambert. And that’s probably because, while they slide under the radar, there are lots of country lovers out there, thrilled with Fenway’s choice.

Though this writer isn’t typically among them, still we ask: what about this show isn’t legendary?

For the first time in history, the sound of country twang will fill Fenway’s airwaves, and bring together throngs of fans who have been patiently awaiting this announcement. This concert may not be for everyone, but the very fact that it’s highly expected to sell out the park’s nearly 40,000 seats is evidence enough that it will be a knockout. The performers are contemporary, the idea is fresh, and it’s time for a change. History is full of them, is it not?

You want something big and new, Gottlieb? Well, here it is. Pull on your cowboy boots and get ready. Fenway has finally realized that what it’s looking for has been here the whole time.