In Defense of Roots Rock. - A Retrospective

In Defense of Roots Rock. - A Retrospective

This was one of the first pieces that I ever wrote for CHILLFILTR. I thought it would be fun to have it lead our new Lifestyle channel. I will be adding select opinion stuff and product reviews over time. I wrote this in part as a way of grounding the term of roots in something tangible, and I have come to respect Wikipedia as a reliable source of record for genre metadata.

Quoted from wikipedia:

Roots rock is rock music that looks back to rock’s origins in folk, blues and country music. It is particularly associated with the creation of hybrid subgenres from the later 1960s including country rock and Southern rock, which have been seen as responses to the perceived excesses of dominant psychedelic and developing progressive rock. Because roots music (Americana) is often used to mean folk and world musical forms, roots rock is sometimes used in a broad sense to describe any rock music that incorporates elements of this music.
— Wikipedia
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Roots rock is just an extension of the rock, folk, country, and blues genres with an emphasis on live performance and genuine emotion.

If you read the rest of the Wiki article, the writers seem to think that the whole roots genre died in the 90s, even as they mention Tom Petty as the last of the great 'Heartland Rockers'. But I am here to tell you that the sound is alive and well. Maybe for the moment it's just fallen out of favor. For example, I was part of a scene in Los Angeles at the turn of the century that has put a few roots rockers onto the world map.

It's just that if the scene doesn't get support from the community, it starts feeling invisible. There are plenty of listeners, there are just no writers that are seeing the connections and putting out the narrative that some people still like the sound of an album that feels live. For me, it is just that those 4 roots - folk, rock, blues, and country - those are in my heart. I grew up on The Black Crowes, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Johnny Cash, and Muddy Waters. You can't tell me that's not some timeless shit right there. And those are all very live, performance-oriented genres. So of course I still care about the live 'feel' of an album; that's a hallmark of the entire rock and roll tradition. I know there are a lot of people that feel just like me.

I don’t want no effects...
— G Love and Special Sauce
G Love sans special sauce

G Love sans special sauce

The last time roots rock was in the mainstream was in the 1990's. Well, by that measure, we are due for a resurgence in about 5 years. Bring it on.

In the meantime you can follow me on Spotify for all the playlists you are going to need to keep up with the state of roots rock. Thanks!

Submit for coverage here.

I was born in Paris, raised in New York, and I drifted west with the sunset.

Songwriter, blogger, engineer, proud husband and father of 2. I earned a BA in Poetry from University of Wisconsin, Madison many years ago.

Creative Commons License
Creative Commons License