Vickye Fisher, For The Country Record

“Is Taylor Swift country, then?”

“No.”

Aw shoot. We kick our 10-gallon hat under the table and awkwardly fiddle with our bolo tie.

“When she started she was country-pop, but is now just pure pop. I have my issues with her, how she’s marketed and how she’s handled her career, but she’s more honest now and doesn’t market herself as country even though her label wanted her to for her latest album. She wasn’t having any of it though. I respect her for that.”

We’re talking to country music blogger Vickye Fisher who runs For The Country Record. The site celebrates its third anniversary on Saturday, and can boast having the largest following of any UK-based country music blog.

For The Country Record can boast having the largest following of any UK-based country music blogWhat started as a small project in the depths of Wallasey is now a full-time career, supported by advertising and a merchandise store, and is looking to become a major player in the nation’s country music conscious.

A look at Vickye’s content calendar for March shows us why. The amount of content available from features, news, and interviews with upcoming and established stars is staggering and shows exactly why the site has attracted such a big audience at home and abroad.

For The Country Record began as a simple WordPress blog and now has a team of seven writers (including Vickye) and a photographer. The blog’s Twitter is followed by Tim McGraw, members of The Dixie Chicks, Neil Perry, and LeAnn Rimes, who Vickye met in person last year.

“LeAnn’s lovely. She gets so much shit but she’s a really nice person. She gets a lot of it for her family problems and being a child star, but she’s handled it so much better than somebody like, say, Miley Cyrus. She’s still going and still making music in her thirties, and started when she was nine.”

And she’s tiny, apparently. LeAnn and Co. have a habit of chatting with Vickye on Twitter, but For The Country Record’s strongest selling point is its honesty. Vickye pulls no punches in her editorial and has previously had a running feud with Chandler lookalike Blake Shelton.

“I’ve pissed him off a few times which is an achievement. I’d only been blogging for eight months and I reviewed his new song for a bigger website. His team read it and he tweeted his followers and all his army came upon me.

“Then at times I’d write something else and the fans would get on me again. It’s happened about three or four times now.

“I want to take For The Country Record up the next level if possible but I’m not willing to sell out. I’d lose a lot of my readership if I looked to keep artists and PR happy. It can be very easy to try and please everyone. It may be what artists want to hear but it’s not what people want to read.”

Music to our ears. But the blog can’t be Vickye’s only country outlet, surely? Rumour has it Liverpool has something of a musical history (what with Atomic Kitten doing so well in the ‘90s) so there must be a country scene somewhere? Especially since homegrown Delta Maid scored a US Country chart hit a couple of years ago?

“There is a scene in Liverpool. The Caledonia has a lot of Americana and folk stuff. I’ve just booked an artist there called Faith Evans Ruch who’s traditional country, and they have an Americana festival every July which they’ve split with the Philharmonic.

“There are artists in Liverpool, but not many. It could be embraced. I think the problem is there are so many country music stereotypes perpetuated, especially in the north. It’s not all cowboy boots and hats.”

Who’s going to change that perception, then? “There are a lot of artists challenging that image though such as The Shires, Ward Thomas, Hannah Jane Lewis… It’s the next generation coming through into the mainstream.

LeAnn Rimes who Vickye met in person last year“I do enjoy posting about UK artists because there’s a really bright scene at the moment. It is growing.

“Smaller bands are looking to blogs. It’s great featuring them because my readers love discovering new music, whether indie or major label, and it helps them get new fans. It’s getting the word out there from a voice they can trust.”

Vickye first discovered country music from American Idol when she was 12, and it grew from there as she explored and discovered Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, and developed a rather unhealthy obsession with Nashville (the telly show).

But her love affair with country music has taken her to the real Nashville and helped her to refine her journalistic skills. Heading over there with Alex of Spin Cycle & Rinse last year, the two have filmed a documentary detailing the changing scene in the deep south and are planning to show it in Liverpool later this year.

“We went over there and interviewed artists, songwriters, labels and more. We wanted the documentary to say something about the industry and bro-country movement. We also say a lot about changes in the industry toward sexuality, technology, radio, the involvement of women; all while keeping a balanced point of view.”

We don’t want to dig any deeper into bro-country because it honestly sounds truly awful. But Vickye’s tenacity, commitment, and effort to keep the blog running during the best and worst of times has been very impressive, and we’d love to see it grow. Free SevenStreets tip: if you love something enough, write about it and see where you end up.

Vickye and her team will be attending the Country to Country (C2C) festival at the O2 at the weekend, the largest country festival in Europe. “Come find us at C2C on Saturday and Sunday. We’ll be wearing our T-Shirts at all the events around the O2 in London, and are always looking to make new friends.”

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