This is a shorter version of what I originally wrote.
1) I have little time for music journos who resort to clichés. The guys who say that folk followers are are bearded, sandal and sweater-wearing balancing pints on their large guts.(And that's only the women!) And guys like Guardian Man who fell compelled to don a hat and 'cowboy' shirt.
2) The term 'country' has become very difficult to define. On other sites (Mudcat for example) protagonists debate endlessly about the 1954 definition of folk. It is totally destructive. If labels cause so much problem why do we use them? In music stores Emmylou is usually found under 'country' but like many artistes these days, she is a genre-defying singer.
3)The country music industry in the US has an almost impossible task to define itself and so has come up with a number of sub genres, which, far from clarifying matters, add to the confusion. It is therefore unsurprising that it doesn't know how to promote the music in the UK.
4) At one time 'country', although a minority music, was fairly successful in the UK. We had well-supported International Country Music Festivals at Wembley with plenty of big names. In the mid-70s my buddy and I were doing well enough to consider giving up our day jobs and turning fulltime pro (it would have been a huge mistake). But British audiences have always leaned towards the cowboy side, finding relief from their drab jobs by dressing up as cowboys and injuns, enacting mock shootouts and in more recent times emabracing monster trucks and line-dancing. How anyone drives while wearing spurs is beyond me.
5) Some tracks released over here are remixed - foolishly in my view. But taking the 'roughness' out of country is nothing new. 50 years ago celebrated producers like Owen Bradley and dear old Chester Atkins were replacing the solo fiddle with banks of strings and the steel guitar with genteel piano.
6) As it happens I haven't heard anyone sing about tractors since the Judds' homage to John Deere but a lot of the content is completely alien to British life. Strangely a current show as musically excellent as Marty Stuart's still features a 'God slot' and a hayseed comedian, just a Porter Wagoner did years ago.
7) The Brits do support artistes who get off their lazy butts and make the trip over here. People like Emmylou, Dolly, Don Williams and Steve Earle have been visting these shores for years. But they do so on the strength of their names and reputations and not as part of some horrible Nashville promotion.
8) If I talk about country you can bet I mean Hank, Merle, Johnny and Waylon and definitely not Shania, Toby and Carrie. Most of the Nashville output is horrible. Brad is OK though - a good singer and a great picker.
9) In all of this bluegrass thrives and survives because it is still basically the same music as when it started with virtuoso pickin' and singin'. A lesson maybe?
10) There is no 10.
I'm gonna tell you how it's gonna be