Listen to the Radio


Radio is one of the most important mediums for musicians. Nowadays there are seemingly endless options online for discovering music but it’s tough to beat the kind of exposure radio stations provide.

The beauty of radio is the way it can “force” (for lack of a better term) someone to hear a song they might not have heard while searching online for new music.

To get a better idea of how radio stations operate I interviewed my cousin Joe Morawczynski (pronounced More-Shin-Ski) about his experience working at a country station and his thoughts on “classic” country music.

Joe is pictured here, with his arm around Chris Stapleton in the blue flannel.


What was your job in radio?

Joe: I worked for TownSquare Media in St. Cloud, which owns 6 radio stations in the area. My work was with the country station 98.1 FM, in the afternoon hours I worked with Ava, did the morning show with Pete and Ashli and of course the classic country show on Sunday mornings with Dick Nelson.

What were your responsibilities when you were working on the shows?

Joe: Pretty much everything, researching for the show, making sure everything was running smoothly.

What did you learn about the radio business that surprised you?

Joe: The amount of work it takes to actually have a show running smoothly. It might sound like easy work to people listening on the radio but there’s a lot more going on behind-the-scenes that people don’t necessarily factor in. The on-air talent has to be able to ramble on for hours, which is really impressive. Plus they’re also producing a lot of the content people hear on the radio.

What do you think is different between the responsibilities of someone at a smaller station like 98.1 compared to a bigger market station coming out of the cities?

Joe: Well at a station the size of 98.1 the on-air talent is also doing the producing of the show, whereas with a larger market station they have full-time producers and the talent is separate. It’s really interesting seeing how much actually goes into getting the show to run smoothly because it can go off the rails at any second.

What was your favorite part about working at the radio station?

Joe: Definitely sitting across from Dick Nelson on Sunday mornings for the classic country show. The guy’s been a Sunday morning legend for what, like the last 50 years?

Why did you choose to work on the classic country show with Dick Nelson?

Joe: I would say it more chose me. Working with a radio legend like Dick Nelson is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I’m not going to pass that up.

Has he been doing strictly his classic country show for all these years?

Joe: No he’s been all around the radio business, he’s got experience with news directing and other aspects of running a station, he’s a pro.

How hard is it to promote the “classic” country genre?

Joe: It pretty much promotes itself, it’s the best genre out there. You know, it’s already got a kind of built in audience that has been listening to these songs for years. It’s awesome knowing that people are for sure sitting on their porches listening to Dick Nelson put on great country music.

What do you personally like about that style of country music that you wish more people would appreciate?

Joe: I grew up on it; I like the “realness” of the songs. I’m not going to tell anybody what they should like or what makes it good music, that’s not my job. Whatever people find “real” in music is up to them.

How do you think country music has changed over the years to what we generally hear today on country radio?

Joe: I think now artists are making music that is “easier” to listen to, it seems a lot more “bro-y” than when those older artists were writing. To me, the older stuff seems a lot more “real” but that’s because I grew up listening to it so it’s easy for me to relate to those songs. I know it’s a kind of genre that people aren’t going to jump into if it hasn’t been something they’ve heard all their life, which makes it harder to expand the audience.

Who are some of your favorite artists that fit into the “traditional” country mold?

Joe: Waylon [Jennings], you know when a song of his comes on when you’re in the car driving, it’s gonna get things going. Don Williams on Sunday mornings of course. Merle Haggard, a lot of those kinds of artists.

Artists like Eric Church and Chris Stapleton seem to be really popular today and definitely fit into that “traditional” style while doing their own thing musically, why do you think that is?

Joe: Well like I said, those guys write about what’s “real” to them, and it shows through their music. It doesn’t have to necessarily have to be a certain way for it to be good music, as long as it’s “real”.


98.1 FM can be heard anywhere in the Central Minnesota area or streamed online here.

“Dick Nelson’s Classic Country Show” can be heard on 98.1 Sunday mornings beginning at 9 AM.




Follow Your Arrow and Mind Your Own Biscuits


Kacey Musgraves deserves endless praise for her freshman and sophomore albums. At a time when country artists are quickly shifting towards making commercial success a priority, Musgraves releases an album that (in my opinion) sets a new standard for songwriting in the country music landscape.

“Same Trailer, Different Park” is Musgraves’ first major release for Mercury Records. The three singles from this album pretty much meet all my criteria for what I want to hear in a country song.

“Merry Go Round” shows off her excellent song writing abilities.



“Blowin’ Smoke” details the usual BS you hear from co-workers at a dead-end-no-good job.


And “Follow Your Arrow” highlights her fantastic band as well as gives (what I think) an honest insight into her attitude on the annoying parts about living in America.


As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been fortunate enough to see Kacey Musgraves perform in concert a few times.

Her second album “Pageant Material” was only a few weeks old when I was flying down to Austin, Texas to see her live at Willie’s 4th of July Picnic.

That album could easily be the soundtrack of a movie being made about that trip. Specifically, the song “Dime Store Cowgirl” on the album was a huge factor for helping me feel like a temporary Texan that week.


Her music does an incredible job of incorporating a lot of the “traditional country” sound without turning off new country music fans because it might be “too twangy”.

The music itself is great, but the root of my respect for Kacey Musgraves comes from unabashed principle of being yourself despite the adversity that we all face in life.

As you might read in the following articles, it’s pretty obvious as to why she is such an accomplished songwriter. Her music is honest and isn’t being written to get a hit, it’s being written to reflect how she feels, which I believe is what makes timeless music.

The Guardian: Kacey Musgraves: “‘I don’t want to be the McDonald’s of music'”  by Tim Lewis, August 2013

Songwriting usually involves a lot of literary devices like metaphors and similes and whatever else one might learn in middle school English.

With the headline for this article, it is clear Musgraves has mastered the art of the metaphor.

This article was written post-debut of “Same Trailer, Different Park” which was a critical success for Musgraves. The interview takes place during a short tour over in Europe and does a great job of illustrating her humble attitude and focus on using music to help people take a step back in life so they can realize all the good things about it.

In the article, Musgraves gives a quote that I feel is the perfect description of why her music stands out from other artists, not just female country artists but in the genre as a whole.

“I had songs that would have worked for a female country singer, but it was boring to me because it had already been done. Like the angry female song: you left me and I’m angry about it. People would probably like that and it’s not a bad song but I’m not an angry female. I have moments where I am, but I feel like that’s a shtick in country music.”

New York Times: “Kacey Musgrave’s Rebel Twang” by Carlo Rotella, March 2013

Written before the debut of “Same Trailer, Different Park”, the NYT article is a great review/profile of Musgraves.

The article does a great job of pointing out her songwriting skills while at the same time painting the picture of her personality. It’s helpful with getting a better understanding of how she operates when making music.

Rolling Stone: “Unbreakable Kacey Musgraves” by Patrick Doyle, June 2015

Patrick Doyle of Rolling Stone has written this perfect encapsulation of what fuels Kacey Musgraves’ music.

This article shows how much a person’s surroundings in life can intertwine with music. Musgraves talks about her career in its infant stage (like yodeling performances at age 12) and how her musical influences fluctuate depending on where she’s at in life at the moment.

I also like how the article goes in depth about her musical tastes outside of the familiar country music arena. Some of my favorite songs that she’s recorded aren’t originally country songs.

One example is the song “Crazy”, originally recorded by Gnarls Barkley. If I hadn’t heard the Cee Lo Green-led version, I could swear that it’s supposed to be a theme song for a Wild West shoot out.

The Fader: “Kacey Musgraves is Making Country Music Good Again” by Duncan Cooper and Daniel Shea, June/July 2015

This interview is a good blend of what the previously mentioned articles cover in their stories. The writers talk about exactly what immediately drew me to Musgraves’ music.

The article starts off with a perfect description of what I dislike about today’s country music on the radio.

“The old joke used to go: ‘What do you get when you play a country song backwards? You get your wife back, your house back, your truck back, your dog back…’ These days the clichés are worse: you’d get your booze undrunk on a tailgate unpartied, an unshaken ass in jeans that aren’t cut off.”

Kacey Musgraves definitely understands the need for something different in today’s country music. Her song “Good Ol’ Boys Club” describes the moral dilemma for artists in the modern commercially-focused country music scene. Do you use the radio hit formula to get your name out there or make honest music and hope people latch onto it?

New York Times: “The Dixie Chicks and Kacey Musgraves, Two Sides of Country Rebels” by Jon Carmanica, June 2016

I thought Jon Carmanica’s review of Musgraves’ and the Dixie Chicks’ performances was a great artist comparison. Most of the articles I read compare Musgraves’ career to Taylor Swift’s when really the only similarity is the fact that they are both female and co-wrote all the songs on their respective albums.

The Dixie Chicks made the public relations mistake of criticizing President George W. Bush right before the invasion that started the Iraq War, when Bush had an approval rating of close to 70 percent.

The comments made by the Chicks’ lead singer Natalie Maines virtually buried their career in country music, radio stations across America refused (some still do) to play their music.

The article explains the reasoning behind the Dixie Chicks’ shunning in comparison to Musgraves’ rising stardom.

What I find interesting about this comparison is how Musgraves is able to maintain her popularity while consistently sharing similar and more “controversial” views within country music’s typical demographic (albeit not as publicly or inflammatory).

I find it ironic that the Dixie Chicks’ never made overtly controversial political statements in their songs (“Goodbye Earl” by the Chicks addressed domestic violence, but you’re kind of a scumbag if you find that controversial), yet the country music community turned their backs on the group for criticizing the president when it is openly celebrated to do so in today’s political climate.

One of a kind

I pray that Kacey Musgraves succeeds in her fight for a revolution in country music which is absolutely necessary.

Until then, I’ll just keep listening and appreciate what she has to say in her songs.


I can’t end the post without addressing the greatest picture to ever exist. It also might be a major reason as to why I am such a fan. #Skol

Cover Yourself Up

Everybody has a favorite song that they don’t realize is a new version of an older song (defined as a “cover” in the music world).

Sometimes the newer version really sucks (See “You’ll Accompany Me” by Frankie Ballard, then listen to the original that Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band recorded).

Other times a new version can completely turn a song on its head, offering a new perspective to the song’s meaning.

Anybody who has had a typical American childhood knows the song “You Are my Sunshine”

And anybody who knows “You Are My Sunshine” generally thinks it’s a happy song about loving God or a significant other (doesn’t matter to me which way you take it).

I thought the same until Morgane Stapleton released her cover of the song.

Her cover motivated me to look up the lyrics, because she does this classic song like nobody I’ve ever heard do it before. I could not believe that such a depressing take could be made on a traditionally happy song.

Let me tell you folks, after looking at the lyrics, I do not think children should be taught this song in church.

The usual upbeat tempo of the song tricks people into thinking it’s a happy song, but it is far from being one.

Yes, the song talks about unconditional love but again, it’s not a happily-ever-after story.

The actual message of “You Are my Sunshine” deals with the singer being severely depressed if they were ever without the person that the song is written for.

Stapleton puts this disguised sadness of the song on full display with her cover.

For example:

“You told me once dear, you really loved me and no one else could come between. But now you’ve left me and love another. You have shattered all my dreams”

Does that sound like the happy version that children sing on Sundays?

The first version posted above is from my favorite movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” . That version shares the same lyrics (seen below) as Stapleton’s cover and sounds similar to what someone would typically hear growing up.

“The other night dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms. When I awoke dear, I was mistaken; and I hung my head and I cried”

Does that sound like a joyful message either?

Bottom line is that covers don’t need to be similar to the original version in order to be great in their own right. Comparisons don’t need to be made for every cover song because every artist’s and fan’s interpretation of a song will be different.

My favorite part about country music is the camaraderie that exists between the artists. Without it, we wouldn’t have the Highwaymen or Pancho and Lefty.

When artists collaborate well together it can provide an immeasurable amount of energy to a song.

Chris(t) Stapleton put himself on the map by covering a song that was recorded two different times in the 1980s by both David Allan Coe and George Jones.

That song is “Tennessee Whiskey” and its live television debut is one of my favorite performances at the CMAs (it never hurts to perform with an American treasure like Justin Timberlake either).

 Songs that are good for taking “cover”.

I could go on and on about hundreds (yes, hundreds) of great songs that have been covered, instead I’ll just condense it into a playlist with the originals and various covers of the songs, enjoy!

Concert-aholic’s Anonymous

Going to concerts is a fantastic way to solidify a love and appreciation for an artist’s work. The experience alone can make new fans out of people. Those who might have come to the concert for just a fun outing may leave with a list of that artist’s songs to buy later.

Although good times at concerts don’t come without a price tag. After buying drinks, t-shirts and the tickets themselves, your wallet might want to kick your ass.

I always respect artists like Kid Rock who try to keep their ticket prices at a reasonable (considering some ticket prices today) price so more people have access to see their show.

Then there are stories that really tempt me to spend unlimited amounts of money to see that artist.

Not that I haven’t already spent an irresponsible amount of money on Eric Church merchandise but stories like this only justify that spending.

College budgets limit the opportunities for buying concert tickets, but that only makes each time more memorable. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a lot of my country music idols perform live.

As cool as it is to check artists off a concert bucket list, the best part about concerts is the memories of who you were with and the crazy stories that can unfold at a concert.

My first concert was Toby Keith at the Target Center in 2003 with a new band called “Rascal Flatts” opening up for him. I was listening to Toby Keith non-stop as a kid, so for this to be my first concert is better than any birthday or Christmas present.

Being so obsessed with Toby Keith when I was young makes me feel bad for my parents having to take my brother and I out in public while we are singing “whiskey for my men, beer for my horses” (neither of us are older than the age of 10 at this point).

My second concert wasn’t for another decade or so, the saying “patience is a virtue” is absolutely true because my second concert was the King of Country Music, George Strait.

Toby Keith might have been my favorite as a child but this guy is my all-time favorite and the opener for George is the Queen of Country Music, Reba McEntire. I couldn’t be any more lucky.

After the George Strait concert, I’m batting 1.000 for concert experiences. It’s like how they say you don’t want to begin a gambling career on a hot streak because then you’ll get hooked.

Well I got hooked.

Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, Xcel Energy Center, 2012


Everything looks organized and calm in this picture but organized is the opposite of my efforts to get to this concert in one piece.

I thought it would be easy getting ten seats next to each other for an immediately sold-out concert. My stroke of genius turns out to not be so genius and chaos ensues.

I have to buy tickets in groups of 2 or 3 located in non-consecutive rows scattered across different sections of the X. Understandably, people are not pleased with my party planning.

Just to add to the problems, our group of guys gets lost on the way to the concert.

In the end it worked out, we enjoyed the concert as an intact group and I used an Aldean song for my senior quote.

Like I said, sometimes the stories of the concert are more memorable than the concert itself.

Kenny Chesney at Target Field (Feat. Tim McGraw, Zac Brown Band, Kacey Musgraves, Jake Owen), Target Field, 2012/2013


This wasn’t just a major concert as a country fan, it was a major concert as a Minnesotan. The first concert at the new home of the Minnesota Twins, Target Field.

It’s the best of three worlds when sports, Minnesota and country music collide.

Kenny comes back to Target Field the following year with Zac Brown Band taking McGraw’s spot.

ZBB’s act is one of the most energetic and impressive performance I’ve ever seen.

But what makes this concert special is the opening act for ZBB and Chesney, the (musical) love of my life, Kacey Musgraves. After her act was finished I sprinted to section 120 of Target Field to meet her.

I know there is a god because I was blessed enough to get a picture with the second coming of Loretta Lynn. You can tell she is just as excited to meet me as I am to meet her.


WeFest, Soo Pass Ranch 2013


WeFest is hard to describe on paper but with 100% confidence I can say it is a unique and intense experience. I enjoy country music too much to not go to all the concerts but it is by no means a requirement to attend any of them to have a good time at WeFest.

There are so many great stories and moments with friends made at WeFest, everybody should go at least once whether you’re a country music fan or not.

Thomas Rhett and Chris Stapleton, The Cabooze, 2014


I went to this concert for Thomas Rhett and left with my jaw on the floor because of Chris Stapleton.

Nothing against Thomas Rhett, he plays a great show but literally nobody at the Cabooze had heard of Stapleton.

As we do some Wikipedia research, we find out he’s written tons of famous hit songs like “Your Man” by Josh Turner and “Never Wanted Nothing More” by Kenny Chesney

Then he starts to sing and everyone is blown away by how uniquely and soulfully he can sing.

We were able to ambush him as most star-stricken fans do to give him our praises. I knew he was my new favorite when he was gracious enough to sign my cousin’s chest.



I lucked out again a few months later when I won a radio contest to see Stapleton at a show in the K102 Roadhouse


If I’m going to recommend any new fan of country music, it’s going to be Chris Stapleton, his music sounds so original and classic without turning people off because it sounds “old” or “too twangy”.

Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic/Waylon Tribute in Austin, Texas, Austin City Limits, 2015


My whole life I’ve been studying country music and these concerts in Texas are the test.

Legendary artists like David Allan Coe, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and of course Willie Nelson are performing through out the day. Not to mention my current favorite artists like Church, Kacey Musgraves and Stapleton.

I was in heaven and could not have gotten there without my previously mentioned cousin’s trip-planning savvy.

I’m not sure what is better than heaven but two nights later I was there at the tribute concert to the late great Waylon Jennings.

The internet is amazing because I can go and relive the grand finale on YouTube any time I want. If you match up the timing and angles of the videos, it is clear as day that Kris Kristofferson is giving me the thumbs up during the finale.

First Video @ 3 minutes 18 seconds (Non-Embedded) 

Second Video @ 3 minutes 16 seconds (Raw Footage)

Two rows in front of all my favorite artists across multiple generations paying tribute to another one of the all-timers at the historic Austin City Limits. Nothing will be able to top the magnitude of that concert.

Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Sturgill Simpson, Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, 2015


There is so much that I appreciate about this concert about all the others I’ve attended.

Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson are a part of an elite group of artists that my dad, uncles and grandparents can all enjoy together.

I was invited to the concert only hours before the lights come on by my cousins. Sturgill Simpson is an upcoming artist we all love plus Merle and Kris are living legends so of course I’m going to take up this opportunity with them.

I remember trying to figure out Merle’s age with my uncle, cousins and another passenger on the shuttle leaving the concert.

Unfortunately my uncle (pictured here in between his tall son Tom and “51st percentile for height at his age” son Joe) passed away last summer after a long-hard fought battle with cancer.

He and my dad have had the biggest influences on our family’s shared musical tastes. He knew how special music can be and would always have an answer if one of us couldn’t figure out who sings a certain old country song.

I can’t tell you what the first or last song Haggard played that show. I can tell you all the great memories of that concert or any other concert. Music creates a connection to important moments in life and I’m glad my uncle could show me that.

Movie Review: Walk the Line

The Movie

If there is a single moment in time to point to and say “That’s when I started liking classic country”, it would be my first time seeing Walk the Line.

Being in fifth grade when the movie is released, the only information I know about Johnny Cash is that he is a famous country singer and is dead. Leaving the theater, it feels like I could recite every song he’s ever sung and can tell you every detail of his life when in reality there are mountains more to learn about the Man in Black.

This movie has me head over heels in love with the legend of Johnny Cash and I haven’t even heard what his actual voice sounds like yet, which is a major testament to how well Joaquin Phoenix was able to capture not only Cash’s persona, but he does a damn good impersonation of his singing voice too.

Most movies try to build a soundtrack around what is going on in the movie; with Walk the Line, it is the opposite. The soundtrack is basically available for forty years before its movie gets released. The film brings those forty-year-old songs to life and adds context to their meanings.

Johnny’s and June Carter’s love story is one of the most famous in country music, arguably across all of music history, any genre. As seen in the film, it is far from a happy one most of the way, but those struggles inspire all the classics America knows and loves today. SPOILER: They do end up together at the end of the movie.

Aside from the story itself, the portrayals of Johnny and June by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are what make this movie so impactful. Both were nominated for Oscars (Witherspoon won Best Actress) for their roles in Walk the Line.

The chemistry between the two completely removes me from reality and has me believing I’m on the back of their tour bus through out the duration of the movie. In a scene where “Johnny and June” are performing on stage, the music seems to take a backseat to their romantic tension.

It takes constant self-reminders that it’s Reese Witherspoon saving Johnny Cash’s soul because she does an such an impeccable job acting that I honestly believe it is the real June Carter on the screen, not Elle Woods.

The musical history shown in Walk the Line is personally mind-blowing. It’s amazing to think about the fact that musical legends like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings were all in the same car together in the 50s and 60s driving across country on tour in their mid-twenties.

The rampant pill use of Cash and his tour mates through out Walk the Line adds so much emotional weight to the story. Cash considers himself “evil” for his lifestyle in the early years of his career, the movie shows what the consequences are for Cash’s reckless habits, mainly regarding his first marriage but also fallout between he and June.

June saves Johnny Cash’s life almost literally and absolutely in a figurative way. It was anything but simple for the two country artists, but that’s what makes the story memorable.

The Music

For obvious reasons, this is one of my favorite soundtracks for any movie. For some of Phoenix’s versions, I almost like them as much as the original Cash sings. Almost.

The Actual Folsom Prison Concert

By the time I play this album for the first time, I have already seen Walk the Line a countless amount of times. There are so many points in this record where I fall in love with the movie all over again because there are several lines of dialogue during the Folsom scene that are quoted directly from this album.

Sean’s Signature Sunday Songs

According to the Bible, God rested on Sunday, so I see no problem doing the same every week myself. This post will have exactly what you are looking for if what it is that you are looking for is the perfect playlist for however the next Sunday is spent.

Sundays are a hybrid of reflection on the previous week and preparing for the upcoming week. Whether you are a religious person and use Sunday to worship or are considering becoming religious because of the sins committed on Saturday night, there’s probably going to be something for you among the five categories listed in this post.

Country Don, the Gentle Giant

Don Williams is the no-brainer inspiration for this list, every note that man’s voice produces is one of the most soothing sounds that can be heard on Earth. It doesn’t even matter if he’s singing an upbeat tune or a depressing-as-hell heartbreak song, Don Williams was meant to be heard on Sundays.

Rather than go through an endless list of his songs, I will just strongly recommend listening to “Don William’s 20 Greatest Hits” album and thank me later.

Morning Front Porch Coffee Drinking

Hands down the best moment of the week is when I’m able to wake up, make coffee and take in the fresh air on a porch while whistling with the birds to Roger Miller’s “Whistle Stop” from Disney’s Robin Hood.

These are the songs that instill a sense of tranquility and an appreciation for all that is good in the world. Some songs are pretty overt about their love for Sunday (like “That’s What I Love About Sundays” by Craig Morgan); others can paint a picture of what I assume Heaven might be like if John Denver created it.

 5 Front Porch Songs

Hangovers in Musical Form

Hands down one of the worst moments of the week is when I’m unable to get up to make coffee and the only fresh air being taken in comes from an open window which requires an unbelievable amount of will power to open.

In these instances, it’s important to remember that misery loves company. I can promise you that country music has no shortage of song about drinking and its less-than-ideal consequences.

Although the body doesn’t appreciate Saturday night activities as much as the mind does, these songs provide at least a little relief for the soul on Sunday mornings.

5 Songs to Cure a Hangover

On the Road Again

Personally, half of all Sundays out of the year are spent trekking up and down Highways 169 and 10. Nobody likes to drive without some decent tunes to boost morale. Anytime I’m make one of these trips, the radio is usually tuned to 98.1 FM to listen to “Dick Nelson’s Country Classics Show”

Maybe it’s the recurring theme in country music of driving semi-trucks across country or songs about the physical beauty of the countryside but either way it is sheer bliss when the music’s just right in the car.

5 Road Songs

Songs for the Church Folk

Country music artists have never shied away from sharing their religious beliefs through their songs. In fact, country music’s roots come from the Carter family who came down from the hills of Kentucky to sing songs like “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” which has been covered hundreds of times over the years.

What is so awesome about these Church-friendly country songs is that even an atheist would have a hard time resisting the urge to sing along to “Daddy Sang Bass” or keeping their jaw from hitting the floor after hearing Carrie Underwood’s version of “How Great Thou Art?”

It is possible to have a religious experience listening to these songs without having to believe in religion at all.

5 Songs Jesus Would Probably Enjoy

Full Playlist on Spotify