Each month guitar picker and Webmaster BOB HOWE brings you the latest Country Music happenings on the Internet. You can surf your way from month to month, or why not bookmark the main index for the complete contents! Join our mailing list below for notification of each new column.
Here at Cowboys In Cybersp@ce we're always looking for those places where Country Music and Computer technology collide. Last month in Capital News Mike Smith reviewed "If You See Him", the new CD by Reba McEntire. While concentrating on the excellent music on the album, Mike briefly mentioned the extra content on this "Enhanced CD". Let's take a more in depth look.
If you have Windows 95 on your PC, or a Macintosh System 7.1 or greater, you are in for a treat. Pop the CD into your CD-Rom drive and two options are presented to you. "Listen to the Music" (through your computer's speakers) or "Play the Enhanced CD". The second option leads you to a welcome message from Reba and a list of contents from which to choose. "Photo Album" is a computerised version of the CD cover pictures and more, while the "Screen Saver" can be installed to automatically scroll through these pictures anytime your computer is idle for a set length of time. Screen savers used to serve a useful function with older computer monitors, by preventing a static screen image from permanently "burning in". It's rarely a problem with modern hardware, so screen savers are now more for amusement than anything, and can provide a lot of fun.
The "Making Of A Tour" section contains four video presentations - a behind the scenes look at the staging of the U.S. tour last year with Brooks and Dunn, which ended as the highest-grossing concert series in country music history. Also included in this part of the CD-Rom is "Virtual Tour", five photographs from before and during the show. These are not mere still pictures though. Drag your computer mouse into the image and you can rotate the view 360 degrees. It will literally make your head spin. This is waaaaay cool technology!
Things start to hot up even more in the "On-Line" section. There is a preview of the "reba.com" Web site where, as Reba explains, you can join "Reba Net" a special area available to members (available on-line at no extra cost) that contains a place for fans to chat, leave messages for Reba, and even get replies by E-mail. Click on the connect button and it takes you there automatically. If you think it's a buzz to get Reba's autograph, wait to you get a message signed "love Reba" in your E-mailbox! You don't have a Web Browser or E-mail program? No problem. Click on "Reba Browser" and install a special version of Microsoft's free "Internet Explorer 4.0" program. The browser links to "reba.com" and other related sites and replaces the drab background of your computer screen "desktop" with a picture of Reba. A technical note here:- IE 4.0 will overwrite any earlier version of itself you may already have installed. However, this should not be done if you have a newer version such as IE 4.01. Uninstall that version first, or follow the instructions to go to the Web site to download the latest Reba edition. If you don't already have an account with an Internet Service Provider to go on-line, you must make this arrangement yourself. It has to be said that if you have ever bought a CD by a mainstream country artist and been disappointed by the short running time, then this album is the complete opposite. Great value, especially for us lucky Aussies who also get a bonus CD with five songs recorded live, here at the Gold Coast.
Reba.com is the best Web site devoted to a single Country Music artist that I've seen. It contains everything a Reba fan could need and is constantly updated. For instance; as this issue goes to press, CBS-TV in the U.S. will be airing FOREVER LOVE, Reba's latest turn on the screen. Reba stars as Lizzie Brooks, a young Mom who falls into a coma in the 70's, and wakens some 20 years later to find her whole life has changed. At reba.com they have been building up to the movie each week by adding new preview material including a video clip of the title song. Reba and her husband-manager Narvel Blackstock founded Starstruck Entertainment, and are in tune with the latest technology. A feature in Microsoft's on-line "Daily News" entitled "Digital Country" contains a video interview in which Reba extols the virtues of Windows 98 and shows her eight-year-old son Shelby E-mailing digital photos he has taken. It also says that "during last year's Australian leg of her tour, McEntire even used E-mail to keep radio stations abreast of her progress."
For something a little different check out Gilchrist Studios On-Line. Guy Gilchrist is the artist behind the "Nancy" comic character. Amongst his other work is a "Rockin' Country Picture Gallery" and a series of Country celebrity guests in Nancy's comic strips that include none other than, you guessed it, Reba!
Now our usual round-up of newly found sites:-
Fiddler and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Clermont has just released his new independent CD entitled "The Longing". You can read more about it, hear it, and see his smiling face at his page at Steve's Massive Country Music Round Up , and order it from Mulga Music on-line. Capital News "Central Coast" columnist Ian Betteridge also has a new local site that features his songs and albums. Fred McCarty may not be a well-known name in Australia, but visit his site and you can find out how this musicians' musician got from the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Over in Memphis the RiverBluff Clan are an award-winning Americana/Alternative Country band with a very comprehensive site. At The Museum of Country Legends, the Fan's Hall of Fame offers country music fans contests, artist of the month, trivia, mystery artist game, and much more. The Country Images Web site features Bob Cape hosting a number of unique video shows.
It's nice to see some of our artists cropping up at the American Twang This! site. Sherry Rich, The Wheel and Shanley Del are all present here. Shanley, along with Alan Jackson, is featured in a new audio interview section. Shanley discusses the making of "My Own Sweet Time.", while Jackson responds to questions about his new single "I'll Go On Loving You" and his fabulous new album "High Mileage".
If you want to share the location of an interesting site you’ve seen or request a topic for discussion in future columns, why not E-mail me. Don't forget to listen out for Cowboys in Cybersp@ce each month on the radio waves with Belinda Miller of Murri Country , 4AAA –FM (98.9 in Brisbane). Until next month, happy surfing.
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