Country USA kicks off in Oshkosh today. There will be no shortage of cowboy boots, inappropriately short jean shorts, cowboy hats, backwards trucker hats, beer, Confederate flag images, giant mugs filled with double-strength mixed drinks and, of course, mud. But one thing that will be in very short supply is female artists.
A cursory look at the lineup for the five nights of Country USA shows just three female acts for the entire week--and they are all early in the lineup on those night. There are no female headliners. It is clear that "Bro Country" is the theme at Ford Festival Park this year. And with that comes a certain "culture" as well.
Listeners will sometimes ask me around this time why every song we play as a lead-in to our stories about country music concerts in the area are about drinking. The answer to that is quite simple: that's what almost all "Bro Country" songs are about. A check of the music database from our country sister station shows a litany of titles involving beer, cold ones, party, whiskey, drinkin' and moonshine. I guess I could go for a change of pace and select from the songs about pickup trucks or sexy women.
Which brings us back to the testosterone-soaked lineup at Country USA. It looks like there isn't much of a market anymore for the female perspective in country music. Who wants to hear songs about heartbreak when you are 10-beers into the night and you are trying to hook up with the cutie in the bikini top, Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots?
The State Patrol has certainly noticed what is on-tap for this year. They will have extra troopers around the grounds looking for underage drinking and drunk driving. I bet they are plenty busy the next five nights.
And let's also take a look at the difference between the Billy Joel concert last weekend at Lambeau Field and the country concerts that preceded it. Just three people were ejected from the stadium last Saturday--and no one was arrested. The Kenny Chesney-Jason Aldean concert two years earlier resulted in 25-arrests and more than 300-ejections (police were so overwhelmed they stopped counting)--not to mention national attention to the rowdy behavior at the show and damage to the football field.
For decades country music marketed itself as the "wholesome alternative" to hip hop, pop and hard rock. But it appears that is out the window--and the "Bros" are just getting this party started.