The new home of country music? India

The subcontinent's young people are turning on to traditional American musical styles.

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Indian listeners may not be familiar with Doc Watson, the American pioneer of country music who died last week, but Bobby Cash, India's own Watson, says the salt-of-the-earth music is slowly catching on in the country, particularly among the young.

Cash has made a name for himself as an independent artist in Australia and is the only Indian to have recorded in Nashville, the centre of country music in the US.

He ascribes the growing popularity of country music to the internet, allowing songs to spread to the most remote reaches of India.

The genre also features a spartan instrumentation including guitar, mouth organ and banjo, allowing listeners to create the music with ease.

"I've been connecting to schoolchildren across the country - especially in my hometown, Dehradun. They love my songs, such as Train Train. No kid who's heard the song could forget it," said Cash, after a performance in Mumbai.

"They want to learn it and play the guitar. I've taught some of them."

While he thinks the American ethos of the genre restricts it from forging an instant emotional connection in India, he says: "Country has become crossover. Sometimes it's hard to tell which is pop and which is country."

Cash adds: "India still has a long way to go to measure up to the standards of country music. But we have plenty of talent - they just have to make authentic music." * IANS