Occasionally, stories of celebrities dropping cool independent country artists do pop up and they are worth highlighting and celebrating as in certain cases they have resulted in a dramatic surge in artist interest. Due to the lack of mainstream support, the initial success of the likes of Sturgill Simpson, Colter Wall, and Cody Jinks may be partly linked to the decline of big names from big influencers.
One man who has been a name-killing machine in recent years was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Sturgill Simpson, Cody Jinks, Tyler Childers, and others got a boost from his social media posts, not to mention his support for the likes of Jamey Johnson, Chris Stapleton, and many of the past country music legends.
In a recent interview, The Rock went deep – deeper than ever – with his knowledge of independent country music, dropping two guys you might have heard of here, but certainly not mainstream, while hinting at him Musikspiel itself could come to the country sooner or later.
Speaking to Billboard about a rap album he is releasing, Dwayne Johnson said, “I love traditional and outlawed country music. I think there is something in the future where I could work with some artists in this genre as well. Some of these guys are my friends – like Jamey Johnson, Mickey Lamantia, Gethen Jenkins. There's a real authenticity there, and maybe I could pick up my guitar. "
Wow, there's a lot to unpack. So he's friends with Mickey Lamantia and Gethen Jenkins first? You're talking about two of the toughest, most independent modern outlaw country guys, right next to Whitey Morgan and Dallas Moore. Not only is it cool that The Rock calls them (and noticed he mentioned them instead of a general answer), he might work with them and Jamey Johnson in the future.
Before you roll your eyes to how bad Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson could be at pecking and grinning, he was once cast to the role of Charley Pride in a biopic that ultimately wasn't made and turned 15 when he was 15 he lived in Nashville and claims he spent some time Singing on Lower Broadway. He may not knock us out of our socks, but The Rock has spoken on numerous occasions about how he always wanted to be a country star.
Still, it would probably be wise to keep your expectations low. But hey, if The Rock works with the likes of Mickey Lamantia and Gethen Jenkins, it could just mean more exposure to them and people like them. Are you thinking of a 12 track album where every song is a collaboration with a cool independent country artist? It could be huge. As we've seen over the years, once the general public becomes aware of people playing real country music, it is enough. You'll leave Walker Hayes and Dan + Shay behind and make better music decisions.
Gethen Jenkins is a retired US Marine who served eight years in Iraq and committed in the combat zone to pursuing country music as a passion and profession upon arriving in the United States. Originally from West Virginia and raised in Alaska, the heavy accent is not attached, and neither are its roots. Since returning from Iraq, he has made southern California his base of operations, creating and whetting the appetite for a new generation of hard country fans and artists in the region. You can read the 8.5 review on his debut album HERE.
Mickey Lamantia, who also calls "ml750" for the drams contained in one fifth of alcohol, lives in a scene of new underground music outlaws who operate outside the industry on Music Row, steadfast in their independent streak, quick to pronounce the names of their heroes and beat their music to the slowly dragging pentameter of a Waylon half-time measure. Lamantia is very productive and makes regular online appearances, even before COVID-19. In 2020-2021 he released a series of four EPs entitled Honky Tonk Confessions. You can read a review of his 2018 album Every Bad Heart HERE.