How to be the Perfect Country Fan.

by Alison Bonaguro
(as seen in Country Music Today, May 2004


When I was 10, I was all about Shaun Cassidy. Back then, all it took to be a good fan was a T-shirt, and maybe a poster taped to your bedroom wall. Sure, I had the fan club membership card in my wallet, but it didn't get me very far. But now?To be a good country music fan now is practically a full-time job. There are still t-shirts and posters, but there are so many other ways to display your devotion. You can take a guy like Tim McGraw, make him the background on your laptop, the name on your license plate and the ringtone on your cell phone. (I personally draw the line at tattoos, but that's just because my fear of needles is more powerful than my love of country). Then there are hours you put in watching music videos, buying CDs, listening to the radio, and calling in if you don't think the newest release is getting enough airtime. "What do you mean you just played 'Remember When?' That was, like 10 minutes ago." Of course, memorizing every word of every song is also standard fan protocol. If someone somewhere was keeping score, I think you'd get extra points if your kids knew the songs by heart, too. Nothing compares to the pride you feel when you get a note from the preschool teacher questioning why your 5-year-old's favorite song is "You Ain't Much Fun Since I Quit Drinkin'."

But all of this pales in comparison to the ultimate test of a fan: the concerts. I go every chance I get, even if it involves a little travel. Okay, a lot of travel. And while I refuse to wait in line at the grocery store, I am willing to camp out overnight in one to secure a good spot at a general admission concert. Once I get to my coveted seat, I stand up and sing. This kind of devotion isn't something I take lightly. Being a fan is my thing. I don't harbor any secret desires to be a songwriter. I can't sing worth a damn. And in my feeble attempts to learn to fiddle, I only got as far as "Turkey in the Straw" before my teacher left me to pursue other interests. So if you're wondering if you have what it takes to be a fiercely loyal fan, then you probably already do. And if you aren't sure, just ask one of us. We'll be hanging out by the tour buses back near the loading docks.

The Dos & Don'ts of the perfect country music fan

Don't be a stalker. Some country stars are very down-to-earth and accessible, but do you really want to watch them shop for tires?

Do scour the fan club bulletin boards. Where else--other than Country Music Today,of course--can you get crucial information like who does Martina McBride's adorably messy hair.

Don't trash other artists. And--more common than you'd think, especially on the Internet--don't trash yours either. The perfect fan maintains a positive attitude.

Don't sit down at concerts. Would you want to sing to a bunch of chair potatoes?

Do wear underwear to the shows. Just don't throw it onstage.

Don't download songs illegally. Supporting your star means spending money.