Lydia Loveless to play Otto’s Friday

By Jessica Cabe

Country music ain’t what it used to be.

Few fans of Johnny Cash, Hank, Sr., Loretta Lynn or any other purveyor of mountain music would be caught dead listening to modern country radio. We lovers of Appalachia need different sources for the music we love.

Bars are a good start. Lydia Loveless will perform 9 p.m. Friday at Otto’s Niteclub & Underground, 118 E. Lincoln Highway. Tickets are $8.

Loveless blends country and punk to create a classic sound with a twist. Her latest album, Indestructible Machine, dropped last September and has played a hand in garnering attention for the young musician ever since.

The story behind Loveless serves as a perfect explanation for her musical style. She was raised on a farm in a small Ohio town. She said she loved that lifestyle when she was younger, but farmwork lost some of its appeal when she hit adolescence.

She and her family moved to Columbus, Ohio, when she was 14, “mostly just because it’s not really convenient to live in the middle of nowhere,” she said. She explained that the cost of having to drive a long way to get anywhere were adding up, and city life seemed more practical.

With the city came a greater exposure to music; namely, punk.

“I was a young teen, so I was already moving in the direction of punk rock and rock ‘n roll,” she said.

Around this time, Loveless also began playing guitar. She said she was 14 or 15 when she started getting serious about it. She said as soon as she mastered the basics of guitar, she started writing her own songs.

Her songs are a perfectly balanced blend of country and punk, leading some critics to label her music “alternative country.”

“I mostly think of mainstream country as pop with banjos,” Loveless said. “I hate the term alternative country, because that’s real country.”

But Loveless’s inspirations do not stick neatly to the styles of punk and classic country. She has Britney Spears listed as an inspiration on her Facebook page, and she’s not ashamed of it.

“I was eight when I got her first album, and it kind of made me think, ‘Hey, I can do this,’” she said.

Although classic Britney certainly brought the girl power, there is no evidence of ’90s pop in Loveless’s sound. There is only pure, unadulterated country music in the classical sense. Taylor Swift has no business next to Lydia Loveless.