Bakersfield Sound

In a different part of the country but also in the 1950s, Bakersfield, California was home to several artists pioneering a new sound based off the honky tonk tradition. Unlike in Nashville this was a more harsh, hardcore country sound relying on the twangy sound of the Fender Telecaster guitar. The style was less glossy and was instead more stripped-down and edgy. Bakersfield sound developed through oil workers preferring to spend time at honky tonk bars where artists such as Buck Owens and Wynn Stewart would play and were rejecting the more refined sound coming from Nashville, preferring a more barebones, raw style. Various artists pioneering the sound and went on to have hits in the 50s and 60s, such as Jean Shepard’s A Dear John Letter. This led to Bakersfield sound establishing itself as a distinct genre to rival Nashville sound. The music is characterised by combining traditional honky tonk influences with harsher electric instruments such as the telecaster guitar and pedal steel guitar. Drummers also utilised more rock-based drum-kit setups, on which they would play strong backbeats (accented 2nd and 4th beats of the bar).

Notable artists:

Buck Owens

Merle Haggard

Wynn Stewart

Jean Shepard

Tommy Collins

If you want to commission your own music in this style, or would like more information or help, please contact us.