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Who James A. Akenson; Don Cusic; Olivia Beaudry; Jada Watson
What 40th Annual International Country Music Conference Offers Virtual Attendance Option
When May 30, 2024
Where Nashville, TN

The 40th International Country Music Conference will kick off on Thursday May 30, 2024. The International Country Music Conference (ICMC) provides scholars an opportunity to share their work in all aspects of country music. ICMC broadly defines country music to include variants which share common historical and cultural roots ranging from Americana, alt.country, Bluegrass, Cajun, Country Rock, Crossover, and Honky Tonk to the Nashville Sound, New Traditionalist, Old Time Country, and Western Swing. ICMC is truly international with scholars from Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom participating. The conference averages around 100 attendees with all presentations in one room, making it a welcoming community for first timers.

This page is mainly to promote the virtual option of attendance using Zoom.

You can see the schedule of presenters with this link:

Registration uses the MarketPlace system adopted by Tennessee state universities. There are two ways to attend/register in 2024:

  1. ICMC friends who cannot attend ICMC 2024 in person due to schedule, distance, health or other issues now may choose a VIRTUAL option (Zoom) for $50. You can watch and listen to the various presentations during the conference.
  2. If you are able to go to Nashville, you can register to attend in person for $200.

For more information about this conference, visit the website. Information about hotels, and other details will be found there.

On a regular basis, announcements are made of presentations and subject matter that the attende (in-person or virtual) will enjoy. Below are those announcements:

  1. Pruett Discusses Marc Oswald (April 29, 2024)
    ICMC continues to offer presentations by a mix of long time and new BFFs. We’re pleased that ICMC Dr. David Pruett of the University of Massachusetts is going to be joining us once again. Pruett will be discussing “Mic Drop: The Impossible Life of Marc Oswald Within Commercial Country and Nashville's Entertainment Industry.” Pruett indicates “Most folks outside the commercial entertainment industry have never heard of him, but most everyone in America is familiar with the fruits of his labors and the folks with whom he has closely worked over four decades in Nashville’s commercial entertainment industry. His name is Marc Oswald. Having begun his career in the early 1980s producing events from his California home such as Alabama’s first national tour, Hank William Jr.’s Star-Spangled Country Party, and tours for Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Marc served as personal manager for five years to pop music sensation Jewel, and he currently manages Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and Cowboy Troy, and Gary Levox (lead vocalist from Rascal Flatts), among others. This paper will examine key contributions that he has made over the past forty years to the development of the commercial country music industry, including several backstories behind some of the most notable faces and milestones in commercial country music’s history.” Welcome back to ICMC David Pruett!

  2. Smith Discuss Joe Hill(January 16, 2024)
    We are pleased that new BFF Craig Smith of Albuquerque, New Mexico will be discussing “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night: The Evolution of a Classic American Song.” Smith states he will “trace the trajectory of the song from its inception in the 1930's up to the present day. I will highlight the central proponents of the song—Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, e.g.—as well as those contemporary artists whose continued use of the song has ensured its relevance and endurance beyond its origins to its present status as an international anthem for justice and human rights.”

  3. Fuhr Discusses Cash and Moman (April 13, 2024)
    ICMC friend Ms. LaDawn Fuhr of Arkansas State University will be discussing “Six Degrees of Cash and Chips: Exploring the Musical Alliance of Johnny Cash and Chips Moman.” Fuhr indicates “In 1984, Columbia records secured Chips Moman to produce Johnny Cash’s next album. Chips was riding high on country music success from his work with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette, and others. The pairing was serendipitous, garnering five albums, television specials, the making of a super group, a Memphis homecoming, a Grammy, and more. Moman’s alliance with Cash would help smooth the rocky road that would put Cash on the path to an incredible career resurgence, in what would be his final musical hooray. This piece will examine the relationship between the Man in Black and the Do Right Man, and their combined impact on country music.”

  4. Longan Discusses Views of Nature (March 28, 2024)
    ICMC friend Dr. Mike Longan of Valparaiso University will be discussing “The Changing Nature of Nature in Country Music.” Longan says that his presentation “explores the changing ways that nature has been envisioned in country music. Despite the fact that country music is inspired by rural places and lives lived close to nature, very few mainstream country songs seem to be about nature and even fewer address environmental issues. Nevertheless, nature has traditionally entered country music indirectly through ideas about agrarianism, rurality, and escape from modern life. An alternative discourse of wild nature, possibly inspired by the emerging environmental movement, appeared in the work of a group of artists who moved to Colorado’s mountains in the 1970s. Dierks Bently’s recent relocation to Colorado may indicate a revival of this wild nature theme. Changing rural lifestyles associated with declining employment in agriculture may have influenced the introduction of recreational images of nature. Today, emerging demands for greater inclusion in country music may be altering the way that the genre envisions nature. Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and Indigenous artists have introduced different ways of seeing nature into country music. Artists discussed include Luke Bryan, Dottie West, Olivia Newton John, John Denver, Dierks Bently, Kip Moore, Kathy Mattea, Angie, K, RVSHVD, Rhiannon Giddens, and Troy Cassar-Daley among others. Contrary to popular perceptions, country music is not anti-environmental, but instead offers an alternative, environmental ethic. Awakening ourselves to the latent environmentalism in country music can help us to imagine new ways of living and working with nature.”

  5. Botts Discusses Bluegrass Complexity (March 18, 2024)
    You will want to hear Cade Botts Bluegrass discussion “Only Three Chords? The Untold Truth of the Complexity of Bluegrass.” Botts indicates that “ Country music and its associated subgenres, such as bluegrass, have been described as “three chords and the truth” with most of its music being described as “simple.” The purpose of this paper is to not undermine music with only three chords as less than, but rather, to portray the unknown complexities within the harmonies found within bluegrass music. The truth is that there are many chords used in bluegrass music that have been part of the genre since it’s conception with Bill Monroe. Unfortunately, due to its stereotyped unsophistication and hillbilly perception, this music is grossly neglected from scholarly discourse and ignored for its untapped potential in teaching music theory in the classical classroom.

  6. Wiggins Discusses Act Like A Man (March 10, 2024)
    You will want to hear Dr. Dana Wiggins of Georgia State University Perimeter College dissussing . “Plenty Woman Enough to Act Like a Man: Women, Drinks, Drugs, and Country Music.” Wiggins states: “This presentation examines women in country music, their own alcohol and drug use, and how the genre punished or rendered these women invisible. It also discusses women musicians who attached themselves to men with addictions and how they were characterized by country music. Exploring women like Tanya Tucker, Tammy Wynette, Mindy McCready, and Emmylou Harris reveals the boundaries and gendered limitations for women in country music.”

  7. Bruce Discusses Patsy Cline (February 23, 2024)
    A new BFF Emma Hathaway Bruce of Florida State University will be discussing “You’re Just Visiting the Way I Live”: Patsy Cline, Class & Queerness in Desert Hearts.” Bruce indicates that “Currently, little scholarship exists on how country music and its performers are constructed on film or the use to which country music is put in film soundtracks. This dynamic is evidenced by the lack of critical attention given Desert Hearts (1985), a lesbian romance between a Columbia professor and a casino worker. The film, set on a Nevada dude ranch, is accompanied by a country soundtrack which includes two songs by Patsy Cline….This paper discusses how Desert Hearts might be understood as forwarding a subversive queer politics which orients itself in opposition to middle-class figurations of metronormativity, while simultaneously making a queer, rural, and working-class structure of feeling available to mainstream audiences.”

  8. Kinney Discusses Color Me Country (February 15, 2024) Long time ICMC friend Lance Kinney of the University of Alabama will be presenting “Color Me Country? Indeed.” This collaborative research with Rissi Palmer “unites Social identify Theory, Self-Categorization Theory, and Visual Framing” with a topic “that has not been researched using these theories.”

  9. Day Discusses Aussie Country (February 7, 2024)
    ICMC is definitely international. Wil Day of JMC Academy in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia will be discussing “Australian Country Music: A Changing Landscape in Production Techniques.” Day indicates “Since its emergence in the 1930s, Australian country music has had a unique and defined sound, as exemplified by artists such as Smoky Dawson, Tex Morton and Slim Dusty. Over the last several decades, however, sound production techniques have evolved significantly thanks to advancements in technology. Modern pop/rock production techniques are now frequently employed by Australian artists to create a modern country sound. I explore the role of these advancements on Australian country music artists aiming to reach international markets. My examination will consider whether these developments have impacted the identifiable character of Australian Country Music.”

  10. Rodgers Discusses Restoration (January 31, 2024) We’re pleased that Rene Rodgers of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum will be presenting once again. “Piecing Together an Audio Puzzle: Utilizing Cutting-Edge Technology to Recover a Broadcast from Our Past’ promises to be fascinating. Rodgers indicates that a donated of a transcription of “The Stanley Brothers & the Clinch Mountain Boys from a local radio show called Farm and Fun Time that ran from the late 1940s through the 1950s.” The discussion of the restoration and the contents of the Stanley Brothers program will be well worth attending ICMC in and of itself.

  11. McCusker Discusses Jolene (January 24, 2024)
    We are looking forward to longtime ICMC friend Dr. Kris McCusker of Middle Tennessee State University presenting a Dolly related discussion "You Can Have Him, Jolene": Black Female Musicians and Their Dolly Parton Covers.” Need we say more? McCusker is always insightful. Her topic shows that ICMC always incudes a wide variety of perspectives on the history and contemporary status of Country Music.

  12. Chet Flippo Award (January 15, 2024)
    We would pleased to receive nominations for the 9th annual Chet Flippo Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism. The Chet Flippo Award will be presented Friday, 31 May 2024 during the International Country Music Conference. The honoree will receive $1,000 funded by Dean Beverly Keel of Middle Tennessee State University. The Chet Flippo Award will honor a piece of writing on Country Music published during 2023 in a newspaper, magazine, website, or other appropriate channel distinct from academic books, reference works, and academic journals. Nominations must be received by Saturday, 30 March 2024 and include the nominee’s name, email contact information, and a link to the work for which the nomination is made. Writers of any employment status may be nominated. Self- nominations are welcome. Please send nominations to James E. Akenson at jakenson@tntech.edu.

  13. Bat-haee discusses Confederate Memory in Classic Country Music (January 8, 2024)
    We enjoyed having ICMC newcomer Dilan Bat-haee attend ICMC 2023. For ICMC 2024 Bat-haee, of the University of Alabama, will be presenting “I Sang Dixie: Confederate Memory in Classic Country Music.” Bat-haee indicates that he will “examine how and why Lost Cause ideology spread through classic country music. Historians have described Lost Cause mythology as a form of civil religion that has influenced the South since the Confederacy’s demise. The periodization of my study is 1950-1990, as this is generally the timeframe that is seen as representative of “classic”country music. Additionally, the Civil Rights movement and its aftermath occurred during this time period. Both country music and the Lost Cause have been seminal to southern culture in the latter half of the twentieth century. They feature similar sentiments such as the feeling of defeat and nostalgia. Not only does country music regularly invoke topics of alcoholism, divorce, and infidelity (examples of personal defeat), but country ballads also often reminisce on the “good old days.” Similarly, the Lost Cause emerged after the South’s defeat and longing for a romanticized “Old South” is a central component of this mythology.”

  14. Peterson discusses Country Collaboration and Close Harmony Crossover (December 15, 2023)
    The wide variety of ICMC 2024 presentations incudes the likes of long time ICMC Brian Peterson who will discuss “Country Collaboration and Close Harmony Crossover: The Andrews Sisters, Ernest Tubb, and the Decca Sides of 1949.” Peterson states “The Andrews Sisters—LaVerne (1911-1967), Maxene (1916-1995), and Patty (1918-2013), endure as a signature sound of the World War II era in American popular music. Their distinct vocal harmonization, strong stage performance, and active participation in the United Service Organization (USO) in support of military personnel contributed to their high visibility and market success. Decca Records, eager to sustain the commercial viability of the trio in the postwar period, paired the sisters with another well-known star on the label’s talent roster: country artist Ernest Tubb (1914-1984). The session (February 15, 1949) produced a single 45 RPM with two sides, “I’m Bitin’ My Fingernails and Thinking of You” (24592A, L-4989) and “Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle” (24592B, L-4897). This paper explores critically how these two songs (each charted in 1949) exhibit country music conventions and performance practices along with sonic outcomes reflective of the prevailing mainstream/popular style. To what extent do these sides tend toward or away from country? How does this singular, historical collaboration between these artists of the same company engage larger themes of authenticity and market commerce in the recording and presentation of country music?” Peterson is always meticulously prepared and fascinating.

  15. Erraught discusses Back Where We've Never Been (September 14, 2023)
    ICMC must be doing something right. ICMC continues to be truly international. ICMC 2023 presenter Stan Erraught from the University of Leeds in the UK submitted “Back Where We’ve Never Been: Daniel O’Donnell and the Country ‘n’ Irish Imaginary.” Erraught indicates “Country ‘n’ Irish was, as the name suggests, a marriage of ‘soft’ mainstream country music and specifically Irish themes, often inflected with Irish ‘folk’ instrumentation. The songs dealt almost exclusively with nostalgia: whether for the home place that one was forced to leave through emigration, the dead or dying mother, or the girl left behind. While these songs pretended to a certain tradition and ‘authenticity’ in contrast to pop and rock, the form was entirely constructed and eclectically scavenged from related genres. The lyrical style was a marriage of US country storytelling, with some remnants of the sentimental balladry of the 19th century that fed into Irish- American songs of the early recording era.

Webmaster Note: I first attended this conference in 2001 and only knew one person via email who found my site. I've attended the conference several times since then and enjoyed it immensely. I've even contributed essays to their annual publication, "International Country Music Journal." One year, due to the pandemic, it was a virtual conference using Zoom. I pleaded a case to provide a virtual option so those of us who cannot make the journey, can watch and participate from afar using today's technology. There are special sessions, a Key note session, the Charles K. Wolfe Memorial Panel as well as other sessions/preentations. Of course one downside of attending virtually, you can't be a part of the informal picking sessions that occur during the conference. I did take my dobro to Nashville one year and participated in the session at RCA's Studio B. Now I can say I picked in the same studio that Elvis or Charley Pride recorded in. Then, a musician friend invited me to attend the Sunday night open picking program at the Station Inn. Now that was something. But I'm sorry, a dobro does not get heard when there are five banjo players in the group. That's good, because maybe I was out of key. It's fun! It's informative! Who knows, you may make a new friend or two!

Contact James A. Akenson
International Country Music Conference


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