Bakersfield sound will live on

Posted at 11:28 AM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-07 23:01:29-04

Ryan Coulter is the lead singer for Truxton Mile. He grew up listening to Merle Haggard with his grandfather, and said his grandfather's favorite artists, quickly became his favorite artist. 

"He's a relatable artist. So no matter where you are in life. No matter if you're at the top of the mountain or if you're at the bottom, you can listen to Merle and say flat out simply, "Man, that's a good song,"" said Coulter.

Coulter also said it's an honor for his band to be associated with Haggard. 

Coulter added that, Haggard "gave us something to be proud of in Bakersfield and we're proud to be called Bakersfield musicians, just because of the city they made. The legend that they've made."

Haggard, along with Buck Owens and Red Simpsons are often referred to as the pioneers of the Bakersfield sound. defines the Bakersfield sound as "the first genre of country music to rely heavily on electric instrumentation " along with a "defined backbeat." 

However, Bakersfield musicians say the true meaning comes from the soul.

"Bakersfield sound isn't just a sound, it's an ideology. Take what you have and make it special. And that's why those guys are legends, because they broke the mold," said Coulter.

Kim McAbee-Carter, the Executive Director for the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame said there's a variety of ways to define the genre and the answer will depend on who you ask.

"For the younger generational, it's just that," she said when asked if she agrees with Coulter's definition.

She added, "Probably from my generation that and nostalgia that happened around that area, that time is frozen for music here in Bakersfield."

Owens, Haggard, and Simpson played a crucial role in putting Bakersfield on the map in the world of country music. American country music is frequently dominated by Nashville artists and the three, along with others of the Bakersfield sound genre, proved that California can do country.

"It was something that was absolutely necessary to perpetuate country music into the next state of its growth and they did that," said Coulter.

Bakersfield has since struggled to bring new artists to the main music scene. It's something that frustrates McAbee-Carter, because she said she has witnessed numerous talented acts and how they've struggled to make it big.

"Today, it should be combined, and Nashville shouldn't be the only one prospering...we here in Bakersfield should be doing exactly the same thing," McAbee-Carter said.

Truxton Mile has toured around North America and said there's a common respect amongst country music fans with the band being from Bakersfield.  

"Everywhere you go, people love Bakersfield and Bakersfield gave Merle and Buck something to be proud of, but also at the same time, it was a reciprocation because they gave us something to be proud of," said Coulter.

Truxton Mile is scheduled to perform at the Country&Craft Beer Festival Saturday, April 9, 2016. 

Coulter said the band plans to commemorate Haggard and will perform his personal favorite song this weekend.

You can find more information on this weekend's festival, here.