Southern Soundcheck: A Veteran Music Writer’s Summer Playlist
Whenever we’re in need of some new tunes, we head on over to Garden & Gun, where contributing editor Matt Hendrickson fills us in on everything worth listening to. Here, the veteran music consultant and journalist offers his take on the state of Southern music now and shares his summer playlist. Have a read and a listen.
You’ve written about all sorts of music, but now you focus primarily on “Southern” music for your work with Garden & Gun. How do you define the genre? What kind of music makes it into G&G?
For me, Southern music is defined by the stories that the artists tell—of their own Southern experiences, dreams and failures, love lost or won. . . It could be garage rock, blues, Americana; it doesn’t matter what genre as long as there’s substance behind the sound. And we’re not above doing shot-and-a-beer songs, but we don’t do a lot of beers, babes, and trucks songs.
What’s exciting to you about music in the South right now?
The whole new outlaw country sound is really exciting—artists like Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, etc. They’re taking traditional sounds, putting their own spin on them, and telling great stories. And the number of women making amazing music has never been better: Brandy Clark, Maren Morris, Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, Ashley Monroe, and Adia Victoria just for starters.
People think of Southern music as country, but it’s so much more than that. . .
Man, that doesn’t even scratch the surface. Nashville has the glitz and certainly is the hub for the music industry, but I would argue that Memphis is the most influential city in modern music. It’s the birthplace of rock & roll, home of the blues and soul. Then you have New Orleans for jazz and funk; Georgia for rock & roll, from the Allman Brothers to the great indie scene in Athens. Oh, and that guy named James Brown. Move through East Tennessee, Western North Carolina up to Virginia and West Virginia for the home of bluegrass.
Chosen exclusively for us, Matt’s summer playlist is perfect for a road trip, a morning at the beach, or an afternoon gone fishin’. You can stream the playlist on Spotify or download directly from iTunes. And find more of Matt’s picks for must-hear summer music right here.