Sioux City has a rich tradition with ties to Chicago. It’s really a fascinating backstory filled with mobsters and bootleggers. That activity back in the day with the connection to the Windy City earned Sioux City the moniker of “Little Chicago”. One of the most popular sandwich shops until a few months ago was “Little Chicago Deli” where I often dined on Sandwich #22 – the Pepperoni and provolone. It became part of my not so healthy diet…but it was SO tasty. Comfort food at its best.
When it comes to the music scene in Sioux City, it appears a new menu item has become quite popular in Siouxland. Red Dirt Texas country has become the musical dish outpacing the classic rock and blues acts originally slated to do so well at Hard Rock. I’ve seen the movement grow over the past 2 year with shows at Anthem. On January 12th, I saw the 2nd trip from Casey Donahew to the venue. This time around the show was COMPLETELY sold out! Yet, he may not be the household name that garners national airplay like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean or Carrie Underwood – I’d dare say the passion level was matched and exceeded by the fans at Anthem. Opening act Wade Bowen expressed his gratitude for the sold out show and asked if “anyone knew who he was”. Many in the crowd, responded warmly and sang along to the guy many stations have overlooked. At that moment, I hope he (and Casey) realized…Sioux City is not the normal stop on the tour. Thanks to Brad Streeter and the crew at Hard Rock, Red Dirt Country is not only alive, but thriving with every passing month.
I’ve long argued on Friday Night Spotlight, the last 12-18 months have marked a musical shift away from the heavy dose of bro to a more varied and diverse sound with the breakouts of Jon Pardi, Walker Hayes, Russell Dickerson and Jordan Davis. My biggest pet peeve in 2 decades is the number of “Southern” titles that get pitched to me on the phone by Nashville record reps. I tell them “you know, those songs may play down there, but why don’t you eve pitch Midwest titles? “Heartland” and the not so glamorous “Flyover States” come to mind, that’s about it. The local station research bears out those Southern titles go over like me wearing leather pants, just not a good fit. Believe me.
Well, where Southern titles miss, Texas artists are really starting to connect and sell in Siouxland. I was told by a rep for Casey Donahew if you combine the Sioux City and Sioux Falls market, that region accounts for more Casey Donahew sales than any other region outside of Texas. I was skeptical at first with that tidbit of info, but at the concert – I was made into a believer. You probably won’t read an account of this show anywhere else, but you should. A sold out venue with many singing EVERY word to songs not heard nationally.
I’m THRILLED to report we’ve played a SLEW of artists on Friday Night Spotlight and throughout the day on KSUX. On Monday, we will be reporting “Country Song” as an addition to our playlist. We have our own local decision making on music and based on the power of feedback from listeners, we have a playlist unlike any other in the format. I am thankful we have that kind of independence and control – just like Texas artists that set forth their own path outside the “Nashville Machine”.
In the next month, we have a lot of exposure to Texas country at Hard Rock with visits from Aaron Watson, Cody Johnson and the Randy Rogers Band. I feel as though Sioux City is a hidden gem for a really cool music scene people in the industry are STARTING to take notice. The lyric and melodies of this format really seems to resonate here. Hard work, love of family and cherishing the little things in life always trump sweat tea and Bama football.
Sioux City is becoming Little Austin.
Tony Michaels / KSUX Program Director