42 Miles To a Date With Destiny by Christina Maccini

The following was originally published in March 2009.

I’d like to start off here by saying a big thank you to all the artists on this site. Thank you for your songs. I can’t express enough gratitude to you for creating music from your heart and not because you’re trying to appeal to the masses. Without you, I wouldn’t have a story to tell.

I’m not a musician, I’m not a manager, I’m not anything legitimate in the music industry…yet. I’m a little late by most accounts, but I finally got my opportunity to take hold of my life and carry it where it needed to go.
Let’s just say I’m a little past Little Rock, and for the first time, no one is in my way. I packed my bags, headed to Austin, and enrolled in college for a Music Management degree. I’d love to tell you where I’m going, but first I must tell you where I’ve been…

I have been a music junkie since the days of catching craw-daddy’s in the ditch after a hard August rain I think it’s quite possible that I spent more time sitting indian style in front of my radio, than I did playing. I could sit there and feel things that I didn’t feel playing kickball, or riding my bike to the corner store for penny candy. Country music was my best friend. I grew up with strong Baptist roots, but it was the music more than Jesus that always had a hold on me. (OK, Jesus had me too, still does. Because after I wrote that, I felt the need to repent!) But anyway…something about those old Baptist hymns put a song in my heart all day long. “Just As I Am”, “In the Garden”…music stayed in my head, and it’s strongly weaved into my childhood memories.

Something was lit in my heart in those early years that has has spread to an all out wildfire, with no end in sight. I need music; I can’t do anything with out it playing. Nothing does my heart better than to catch a live show. The volume gets under my skin, the the melodies creep through my blood and tranquilize my soul. I get lost for those 90 minutes, and come out of it a brand new person each time.

It’s better than any drug I’ve tried.

Like most, I spent a good portion of my adolescence trying to find my niche in this world. I was always searching for new music and a place to belong. Like a lot of other 14 years olds in those days, I went on an Alternative kick for a few years. No one could deny what was going on at that time. Nirvana, Toadies, STP. It came from a real place, and just like that, it was over. Tarnished by pop punk and major label marketing acts. I eventually came crawling back to my roots and started listening to country again. But I didn’t like what I was hearing.

What happened? I was hungry for something real, and I certainly had a rough time finding it.

Around the end of 2001, I went home for Christmas. I met up with some friends at Murphy’s in Galveston. We were just about to walk in the door, and this guy rolls up to talk to one of my friends. His music was playing so loud, I don’t know how either of them heard their conversation. What was that sound coming from the speakers way atop that jacked up truck? I was in a trance, I hadn’t had a feeling from music like that in a long time.

So I asked the guy who it was, and he said Cross Canadian Ragweed-“42 Miles”. I ran inside the bar, got a marker from the bartender and wrote it on the back of my cigarette box. The next morning I woke up hungover as any 21 year old would, go to smoke my first cigarette, and there it was staring me right in my face…the answer to all my hunger.

It was my date with destiny. I bought that album, Highway 377. When I gave it the first spin, I sat back in awe, and thought to myself, “Now that’s what music is supposed to feel like.” It was so refreshing to turn off Merle, or any of the classics for that matter, and know that it was all gonna be OK. I started catching Ragweed shows almost every weekend.

Through those shows, I discovered this whole scene known as Texas Music/Red Dirt/ Alternative Country. Wade Bowen was my second, and then onto Randy Rogers Band. Before long, I was completely immersed in the music of this scene, and it felt like home. I found myself in this music.

Meanwhile, something awful was brewing in the country music industry. It wasn’t country music anymore! It seems to me that it became the genre of choice for all those 80’s light rock singer types that have no market in today’s industry. They whip up their ballads, throw in two licks of a fiddle, and call it country music. I’m quite disgusted by all of the pop poop our generation is being fed. I really believe that we are on the cusp of some major shifts in the country music world. We’re getting fed up and we know it’s time to bring it back home.

Seems that all you hear these days is “Man, they sure don’t make music like they used to.” Well, actually they do, it’s all around you if you’ll turn off that radio and open your eyes.

Go check out Band of Heathens, Jason Boland, or Ryan Bingham, and you will find it there. I think Randy Rogers Band is leading the charge to take it back. No pressure guys! One can only hope that they get to perform for the ACM crowd. And I pray that if they do, everyone witnessing will have their date with destiny as well.

I know it will leave the masses feeling hungry for more. I see them opening doors and opening minds to what we have going on down here. This is such an exciting time for this scene, its musicians, and for the preservation of real country music. Be it honky-tonk, a little rocked out, or good ‘ol classic country…whatever you call it, you sure can’t call it Backstreet Boys with a fiddle and steel guitar.

This is the real deal.

We all need to do our part to support these artist and get the word out. Promote them every chance you get, go to their shows, buy the albums, and tell the world! I believe that this scene can run those yankee business men out of Nashville. I think it’s time that all those Michael Bolton wanna-be’s pack their bags and leave! I’m not gonna say any names though. Well, maybe I will name some names…JIMMY WAYNE!RASCAL FLATS! You know who you are!

Please get the hell out of the way. There’s a new wave of realness coming back in, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Your days of giving country music a bad name are over, and these boys and girls down here are gonna see to that.

So here I am, many moons later and about 500 albums deeper into what real country music is. I may not ever be a great guitar player, and my voice will never be good enough to be heard alone. But it will be heard in the choir, and I am making a career out of that. Be it promotions, management, booking…it will be in the name of taking back our genre.

This is the path I have chosen, and it will be a long ride, but I have my eyes on the prize.

I want my kids to grow up in a world where they never have to say, “Man, they just don’t make music like they used to.”

Because good music is not dead, it’s just lost. It’s been hidden beneath the greed and commerce pumped over the airways.

I will do my part to put it back where it belongs, for all to enjoy.

Will you?

Ryan "Tank" Hargrave

I'm a husband, father, traveler, a Light in the dark, lover of photography/film and I believe that good music can change your life.

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