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n9ne

What songs are the bar-band standards in country music?

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The various discussions about cover band standards like Brown Eyed Girl, Sweet Home Alabama, and Mustang Sally got me to thinking: surely country bands have their own set of standard classic tunes that are guaranteed crowd-pleasers.... songs that every band has in their back pocket, just as every rock band has BEG, SHA, and M in theirs.

 

But having no background whatsoever in country music, I haven't a clue what those tunes would be. Friends in Low Places probably qualifies....but beyond that, I have no clue.

 

Any suggestions?

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Folsom Prison Blues (Cash)

Family Tradition (Hank Jr.)

 

Both ALWAYS go over well when we play them. Our audience is from 30s to 50s and older. They don't want to hear any of the new crap that tries to call itself country music.

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I know a lot about country music and believe it or not, your question is a good one, but impossible to answer. For one thing, there are too many definitions of 'country music.' One person might get off on Ray Price songs and the next, ready to barf. Same could be said for Garth or any number of artists. It's kind of a divisive genre. Again, a good question but I don't think there are 'standards.' Can't go wrong with Cash, though, for sure. Even in a rock setting.

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We tend to play a mixture of country classics like cash, merel, waylon, and mix in some what I call classic modern country. like strait, brooks, yokum, etc and texas songwriter stuff... and top it off with some classic rock. We take a shotgun approach to it and its proven to make us a popular band

 

We are a variety band that goes for the 30 to geezer crowd that also has a originals that are popular with the fan base. My suggestion , ,play what you like and play it well. You are also going to end up playing some things that you may not like that well too. its all good ..

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Depends on what you consider Country Music. Are you talking classic country or what passes for country today? :idk:

 

I too know quite a few country songs but anything recognizable by Hank Sr., Johnny Cash, Buck Owens Merle Haggard, George Jones, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson should cover all the bases.

 

Now if you are talking more modern than it'd have to be Garth Brookes, Brooks & Dunn, Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, or Clint Black tunes.

 

Hank Sr. - Hey Good Lookin', Love Sick Blues, Mind Your Own Business, I'm Still In Love With You, Tear In My Beer, Cold Cold Heart, I'm So Lonesome I could Cry

Johnny Cash - Big River, I Still Miss Someone

Buck Owens - Under Your Spell Again

Merle Haggard - Okeh From Muskogee, The Bottle Let Me Down, Sing Me Back Home

George Jones - She Thinks I Still Care, The Race Is On

Waylon Jennings - Are you Sure Hank Done It This Way?

Willie Nelson - Hello Walls, Whiskey River, Crazy (Patsy Cline)

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Merle Haggard
- Okeh From Muskogee, The Bottle Let Me Down, Sing Me Back Home

 

I'd probably add "Mama Tried" to that list?

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This thread couldn't come at a better time for me - my band was just talking about rocking up some classic country tunes to appeal to the masses. (we're a hard rock cover band in Kansas) You folks have given me a great point of departure, thanks a bunch :thu:

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You never even called me by name-David Allen Coe

 

Friends in Low Places-Garth Brooks

 

I Love this Bar-Toby Keith

 

Eastbound and Down-Jerry Reed

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ANY Zac Brown is hot right now- Chicken Fried, Toes and Knee Deep seem to go over wherever I am. No offense to anyone but I can't stand most country music. I just can't get enough of the Zac Brown Band though. Just like other good music- skip past the radio stuff and you'll shit yourself at the quality of musicianship and writing.

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I would caution everyone that the pitfalls that befall classic rock bands also befall country. A lot of the standards being listed could be replaced in another thread with "Magic Carpet Ride, Cocaine, and (insert tired classic rock song here)". Meaning..they're fine if you're cool just doing the $300-$400 bar circuit thing, but you're not going to get above that level unless there's something very special going on. Trust me, I did that for years wondering why we were having trouble drawing consistent crowds.

 

To me, standards for a country band today would be mostly 90's stuff, like Boot Scootin Boogie, Chattahoochie, Sold, She Don't Know She' Beautiful, Achy Breaky Heart, Check Yes or No, Neon Moon, etc.

 

For 80's stuff, you can get some milage with George Strait stuff like Amarillo by Morning or the Fireman, maybe some Randy Travis like Forever and Ever, and then other stuff like Fishin in the Dark.

 

Johnny Cash stuff like Folsom Prison and Ring of Fire always work. A couple of Haggard songs can work, like "Stay Here and Drink" or "Silver Wings". "Crazy" by Patsy Cline works well.

 

Newer stuff that are quickly becoming standards would include "Five O'Clock Somewhere", "Good Directions", "Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy", "She's Country", "That's How Country Boys Roll", and "Roll With It". In the east coast, "Wagon Wheel" seems to be a favorite, although I'm not sure how well it will go over out here in Southern Cal.

 

One thing to be cognizant of with country is the level of dancing of your audience. Some of the country bars know every single latest line dance, some only two step, and most are in between, so you need to understand that stuff. Taking a local country bar DJ out to lunch to ask for suggestions is a great idea.

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I would caution everyone that the pitfalls that befall classic rock bands also befall country. A lot of the standards being listed could be replaced in another thread with "Magic Carpet Ride, Cocaine, and (insert tired classic rock song here)". Meaning..they're fine if you're cool just doing the $300-$400 bar circuit thing, but you're not going to get above that level unless there's something very special going on. Trust me, I did that for years wondering why we were having trouble drawing consistent crowds.


To me, standards for a country band today would be mostly 90's stuff, like Boot Scootin Boogie, Chattahoochie, Sold, She Don't Know She' Beautiful, Achy Breaky Heart, Check Yes or No, Neon Moon, etc.


For 80's stuff, you can get some milage with George Strait stuff like Amarillo by Morning or the Fireman, maybe some Randy Travis like Forever and Ever, and then other stuff like Fishin in the Dark.


Johnny Cash stuff like Folsom Prison and Ring of Fire always work. A couple of Haggard songs can work, like "Stay Here and Drink" or "Silver Wings". "Crazy" by Patsy Cline works well.


Newer stuff that are quickly becoming standards would include "Five O'Clock Somewhere", "Good Directions", "Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy", "She's Country", "That's How Country Boys Roll", and "Roll With It". In the east coast, "Wagon Wheel" seems to be a favorite, although I'm not sure how well it will go over out here in Southern Cal.


One thing to be cognizant of with country is the level of dancing of your audience. Some of the country bars know every single latest line dance, some only two step, and most are in between, so you need to understand that stuff. Taking a local country bar DJ out to lunch to ask for suggestions is a great idea.

 

We do about half the songs you listed. Wagon Wheel goes over real well up here in Montana.

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I would caution everyone that the pitfalls that befall classic rock bands also befall country...

 

Your well thought out post and response is exactly why I love this forum. That right there was a solid and knowledgeable post.

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"He Stopped Loving Her Today", "Flosom Prison" and "Guitars, Cadillacs" always have worked for my bands, we tend to focus on classics. The newer ones we've done are "Gettin You Home", "That's How Country Boys Roll" and "Honey Bee".

 

My current band plays the private clubs: Moose, Eagles, VFW in Virginia.

 

When we had a female vocalist ANY Patsy Cline worked, I live near Winchester where she grew up, along with "Harper Valley PTA" and "Stand By Your Man" worked well.

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As evidenced by the posts in this thread, there is no correct answer. It really depends on your audience. My country band plays to 21 to 28 year old kids and most of the old country (pre 90's is old country imo) goes over like a turd in a punch bowl with that crowd other than a few select tunes from Cash and Merle. "Old standards" for us fall in line with Wade's post and that is the stuff from the 90's from Garth, Alan, etc.

 

Now if you are playing to mostly 40+ year old country fans you are probably going to have to play some older than 90's stuff to hit a home run for some of them.

 

ANY Zac Brown is hot right now- Chicken Fried, Toes and Knee Deep seem to go over wherever I am. No offense to anyone but I can't stand most country music. I just can't get enough of the Zac Brown Band though. Just like other good music-
skip past the radio stuff
and you'll shit yourself at the quality of musicianship and writing.

 

Had to quote this for humors sake because Zac Brown is big time on the radio, they have had nine #1 hits in a row. Nine. Not all music on the radio is bad. ;)

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ANY Zac Brown is hot right now- Chicken Fried, Toes and Knee Deep seem to go over wherever I am. No offense to anyone but I can't stand most country music. I just can't get enough of the Zac Brown Band though. Just like other good music- skip past the radio stuff and you'll shit yourself at the quality of musicianship and writing.

 

Saw a thread on here a few weeks ago lumping Zac in with Chesney, Tim McGraw, etc. And I don't think that's fair. I know folks who have known Zac since he was working the bars around Georgia. He's never compromised what he's done. Never really labeled himself as "country", per se. Guess that's just the closest somebody could classify his style.

 

As far as country standards (around here):

"Dinosaur" "The Blues Man", "Outlaw Women" and "Family Tradition" from Hank, Jr.

"Folsom Prison Blues" - Johnny Cash

"Wagon Wheel" - Old Crow Medicine Show

"Alabama", "Boys From Oklahoma" - Cross Canadian Ragweed

"Friends In Low Places" - Garth Brooks

"Chicken Fried", "Toes" - Zac Brown Band

"You Never Even Called Me By My Name", "The Ride" - David Allan Coe

"Dixieland Delight" - Alabama

"Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" - Waylon Jennings

 

Also, "Fishin' In The Dark", usually works. We could just never get an arrangement that works right for us...

 

I'm sure I will think of more, as soon as I hit "Submit Reply".

 

jamieb

+++++

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