On March 13, the USA Network premiered the new reality competition series, Real Country. Hosted by Graham Bunn, country stars Shania Twain, Jake Owen, and Travis Tritt compete against each other with teams of aspiring country artists whom they have hand-selected.
Judging for the competition falls on the fans, along with celebrity guest judges and the contestants are competing weekly for $10,000 a chance to perform at Stagecoach Music Festival. The weekly performances will lead up to a finale with a grand prize of $100,00.
For the debut, one act from each of the three teams was selected to perform in two separate rounds with the theme of classic country drinking songs.
First up from Team Shania were the Young Fables from Maryville, Tennessee. Shania explained that she selected the couple not just because of their talent, but because she could sense the emotional and musical bond between Wes and Laurel.
Following their performance of the Emmylou Harris classic, “Two More Bottles of Wine.” Travis told the couple, “Y’all took me back to people like Conway and Loretta, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. If there’s anything in this world that I think our industry needs right now is more of that.”
Apparently, the fans think so, too. After they cast their votes with an in-studio device, the Young Fables received four out of five stars.
Jake explained he had actually played a show with his pick for the night—Adairs Run. The duo from West Virginia met at a bar in 2009, so it seemed fitting that they perform David Lee Murphy’s “Dust On the Bottle.” After both Travis and Shania advised the pair to stamp their brand on any song they cover, Jake told the friends, “It doesn’t really matter what we think, it’s up to the crowd here to decide how well they think you did. But it does seem like the fans like what you’re doing.”
It sure looks like they did. Adairs Run earned 3.3 stars.
Next up was Copper Chief from Texas and Travis had plenty to say about his trio. “The first time I heard you guys, number-one, you don’t sound like anybody else that I know of right now in the country music industry,” he said. “Number two, you don’t look like anybody else, and that’s a good thing.” The country legend then added, “Y’all come from Texas where all this dirt road country stuff is coming from right now, which I think is an absolute breath of fresh air to this business that has gotten somewhat stale in the past few years.”
After singing Waylon Jennings’ “I Ain’t Living Long Like This,” the proud Tritt declared to the audience, “What did I tell you?”
Copper Chief earned a 4.2 for their rowdy number and that was enough to advance them to the next round with Young Fables.
For round two, celebrity judges Big & Rich were on hand to help the fans in the voting process.
Young Fables stepped up to the mic first with a beautifully warm version of Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.” Following their performance, Shania told her duo, “It’s easy to sell a party song, but singing a drinking song like ‘Strawberry Wine,’ it’s a real challenge to deliver something like that and really move people. And I think you did the song justice.”
Before a score was given, Copper Chief gave a raucous rendition of Dierks Bentley’s “What Was I Thinkin’.” When they were finished, Travis told the audience, “I’m sure everybody in this audience feels the same thing I felt the first time I heard these guys. They move me to my core and they remind me why I got into this business in the first place. I think you guys ought to give them the votes that they deserve.”
With the final scores in, the Young Fables earned 3.9 stars, however, Copper Chief got a 4.6, which means they earned the $10,000 and a slot on the line-up at Stagecoach. They’ll also return for the finalé, where they’ll compete for $100,000 and a performance at the Grand Ole Opry.
Three new acts will compete on the Nov. 20 show, so tune in for more Real Country.