Vernon Smith doesn’t hate the term “alt country,” he is just proud to be the first to bring “any form of real country music that isn’t making radio” to the airwaves.
The Motown Hoedown (Wednesdays at 7 pm EST) features acts from Toronto to Lansing, meaning that listeners can see them live, and usually for around $5. Basement recordings and live recordings make up about 90% of the show’s content. Smith’s broadcast includes “Cow-punk, rockabilly, psychobilly, surfabilly, Texas Swing, blues, a bit of gospel and any other good excuse for real country music” with a focus on do-it-yourself, first timers on the radio or rarities, such as a bootleg of The Clash covering “King of the Road.” Smith is a huge fan of The Clash and tries to play one of these rare jewels monthly.
Smith also boasts being the first to play Alistair Christl’s Unmarked Grave, a bunch of gothiccountry’s The Hung Jury’s work and also Windsor’s The Locusts Have No King.
Smith’s passion for rare and DIY country comes through when he exclaims, “it’s crazy, there are so many incredible country acts coming out of Detroit that are not on the radio…when the show’s at its best, it’s when we’re giving folks news they can use about great bands that they can actually see”
The true feeling behind the Motown Hoedown comes from Smith himself, a true connoisseur and champion of DIY. On playing “non-alt” country, Smith says, “it’s not that I don’t play label stuff, just that the best stuff is being made in people’s home studio’s, their apartments, basements, etc., and that’s the stuff I’m trying to put out there.”
If you are not within CJAM 91.5’s range (the Detroit-Windsor area) you can listen in on Motown Hoedown live at cjam.ca, or catch the archives on Smith’s myspace page, myspace.com/themotownhoedown.