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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hot Dog! Makes the Case for Classic Country

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"When you ask someone what kind of music they're into, they'll say, 'Oh, I like everything but country;' we're trying to turn the tide of that opinion," says Austin Dutmer, one of two DJs behind Hot Dog!, a monthly country spin at Burnhearts.

"There are decades of music just as good as rock and soul that people really don't [give credit] to," Dutmer muses. "Maybe there's too negative of a stigma attached to it. When they think of country, they think of all the music that they hate, like Shania Twain, not a great Patsy Cline record."

Dutmer and co-DJ Kevin Meyer share a genuine interest in classic country tunes from Dolly Parton to Rick Nelson. "After we started, we realized it was our favorite day of the month," Dutmer says of the event. "There's nothing like putting on a good Hank Williams record and having a beer. Kevin and I had always been into country music, but it seems like no one else is, so we figured we'd go out and test the waters. We did it very selfishly; we never thought it would be as popular as it was, but we amassed a small group of fans."

Those hankering to hear a bygone tune are sure to strike gold between the two DJs' collections. "My country collection is fairly limited, but Kevin has so many comps," Dutmer says. "He has those Time/Life compilations, so he has almost every hit. Some of the funnier nights we've had there are what we've called Kevin's 'John Denver Rock Block.' We get the whole bar singing 'Country Roads.'"

Since Dutmer approached Meyer about beginning the monthly event, he has gone from owning "a crate or two" of country LPs to housing a massive collection, filled through various cross-country trips and local thrift store finds, and spanning George Jones, Roger Miller, Wanda Jackson and Moe Bandy.

"I like to think that Kevin and I are ahead of the curve," Dutmer says. "As vinyl becomes more scarce, [country records will become] harder to find. These records are every bit as rare and collectible, but they're $2. Most soul records are $30.

"One day a few years ago I was in the Value Village on North Avenue and I saw the entire Emmylou Harris catalog, sealed, priced for 50 cents apiece; original pressings," Dutmer marvels. "I guess that's the appeal of collecting in the genre. People who go to Value Village are not looking for that, so you know you might find it."

Hot Dog! celebrates its one-year anniversary with a spin, potluck and complimentary country compilation at Burnhearts (2599 S. Logan Ave.) on Sunday, May 31, from 5 p.m. to close. Hot Dog! Classic Country Spin is the last Sunday of every month at Burnhearts.

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