Mapping the Country Music and Dance Scene in the Calumet Region of Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois

Authors: Michael Longan*, Valparaiso University
Topics: Communication, Cultural Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: country muisc, rural geography, scale, cultural geography, music scenes
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Washington 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The country music and dance scene in the Calumet region of Indiana and Illinois spans the urban-rural continuum and is sustained through local innovation and trans-local connections. This paper maps the Calumet’s country music scene by cataloging local and trans-local actors, sites, media spaces, activities, and events that produce its geography. This mapping, informed by theories of scale, helps to answer questions about the boundedness of scenes raised in the music scene literature and contributes to emerging work on rural music scenes. Scenes are not absolutely bounded spaces attached to a specific site but are instead a coming together of social and cultural relations operating across multiple scales. Rural music scenes are cosmopolitan like their urban counterparts, but as with rural cosmopolitanism in general, this cosmopolitanism is “precarious.” Thus, rural and exurban scenes like that of the Calumet are always in a state of becoming, because of local innovations and trans-local connections and extensions, as well as “unbecoming” because of their greater spatial extent and limited diversity of sites, and actors. Given the precarity of permanent venues the Calumet country music and dance scene is sustained through temporary use or appropriation semi-public community spaces. The scene may emerge spontaneously at concerts and other events where country music is played. Finally, the scene sometimes travels with its actors to regional music festivals, Nashville, and beyond.

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