Regular readers of Country Universe and Liberal Country Fan will recognize the name Paul W. Dennis, as he is the reader who most frequently comments on posts. I am happy to announce that Mr. Dennis will be contributing album reviews and possibly more to Country Universe. Here is some background information, in his own words:
I was born in Chicopee Falls, MA , the son of a 30 year career Navy man who started out as a sailor and worked his way up to Commander by the end of his career. Dad loved music and sang and played the guitar for his own amusement. He liked country and folk music, big band, pop standards and classical music. His favorite country singers were Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn and George Hamilton IV.
As a service brat I moved around quite a bit. I attended 17 different schools between starting first grade in Jacksonville, FL and graduating from a Department of Defense school in London, England. We didn’t move quite that often but it was a time of rapid population growth along the eastern seaboard and frequent school redistricting. At one point, while living in Maryland, I was bussed over an hour to a junior high school, with two junior high schools within easy walking distance – this farce in the name of desegregation.
I went to Stetson University in Deland, FL , graduated in six semesters, started law school and then decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer.
I started purchasing LPs in 1968. Before that I had purchased some 45s (but mostly I didn’t have any money). The first three LPs I purchased were Country Charley Pride, According to My Heart by Jim Reeves and Skip a Rope by Henson Cargill. I don’t know how many LPS and CDs I’ve accumulated – I’d guess that it is around 7500 items. About two thirds of my collection is Country, then 1/6 jazz and 1/6 everything else.
Among the newer artists my favorites are Brad Paisley, Sara Evans, Keith Urban, Toby Keith and Justin Trevino. My absolute favorites are Ernest Tubb, Buck Owens, Connie Smith, Jean Shepard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Webb Pierce and Merle Haggard. Considering all aspects of his career, I regard Merle Haggard as the greatest country artist ever.
I sometimes perform before audiences, always with a live band, never karaoke. I have a repertoire of about 140 songs. Other than “Long Slow Kisses”, the recent Jeff Bates hit, all my songs are from before 1975. I have often been tempted to have the drummer sit out while I sing, but other than on some acoustic or bluegrass songs, I haven’t done it.
I regard melody and harmony as the two essential elements of music. Rhythm should support the melody and harmony (and lyrics, if any). With too much of today’s music, if you eliminated the rhythm tracks, you’d have nothing left. Obviously, REAL country music should feature at least two of the following instruments: fiddle, steel guitar (or dobro), banjo, and mandolin.
My writings will be focused mostly on album or CD reviews, although I will delve into the history of the music from time to time. My first article will be some variations and elaborations of some reviews initially posted elsewhere.
Dennis will bring a new perspective and areas of expertise to this site. Look for his contributions soon. I am also cautiously optimistic that a contributor who is well-versed on the history of Californian country music will begin writing for Country Universe soon.
I’m still looking for new voices for this site, which is still in the developing stages. If you think you would like to contribute to this site as a guest, news editor or regular writer, please contact me at [email protected]