->''"The defining mood of what is now usually described as 'Americana'... is something deep and folksy and slightly creepy, about [[FamilyHonor family]] and [[NostalgiaAintLikeItUsedToBe nostalgia]] and [[MurderBallad blood]] and [[InterCourseWithYou sex]] and [[NotChristianRock religious faith]] and [[TearJerker death]]."''
-->--Brian Hinton, ''South by Southwest: A Road Map to Alternative Country''

Alternative Country is what happens when you cross the outlaw strand of [[CountryMusic country]] with [[RockAndRoll rock 'n' roll]] and the American folk tradition, held together by the [[ThreeChordsAndTheTruth do-it-yourself attitude]] of [[PunkRock punk]]. Influenced by Neotraditional Country, Cowpunk and AlternativeRock, the scene coalesced in the mid-eighties and is going strong today.

Also called insurgent country or Americana (a term that also includes bluegrass and folk), alt-country is mainly defined by its resistance to the perceived commercialism of mainstream and pop country music. Stylistically the genre is a melting pot, with artists incorporating influences ranging from roots rock, {{bluegrass}}, rockabilly, [[SouthernRock Southern rock]] and honky-tonk to alternative rock, [[FolkMusic folk rock]], and punk. Instruments include banjos, pianos, guitars, rifts, keyboards, drums, and heavy to medium vocals.

Alt-country was pioneered by folk- and punk- influenced singer-songwriters like Lyle Lovett in the mid-eighties. Other early pioneers of the sound were artists in an alt-rock subgenre called "Cowpunk", such as Music/MeatPuppets, Lone Justice and the British group The Mekons. This came to prominence in TheNineties, with artists like Music/SteveEarle, LucindaWilliams and Music/DwightYoakam and bands such as Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and Music/{{Wilco}} (who quickly moved into more general AlternativeRock) and broke into the rock mainstream in the 2000s with the success of Drive-By Truckers, HankWilliamsIII and Music/RyanAdams.

Because of the subgenre's attachment to regional folk cultures, artists can originate all over the United States, but are often from the Appalachian region or Texas. The closest the scene has to a centre is Austin, Texas with its annual South by Southwest festival.

There has traditionally been ''very little'' overlap between the fandoms of regular country and alternative country, with the latter being treated more as a subgenre of Rock than of Country.

!Notable Artists

* [[SixteenHorsepower 16 Horsepower]]
* 500 Miles to Memphis
* Music/RyanAdams
* The Beat Farmers
* Blue Rodeo
* Music/NekoCase[[note]][[/index]]This does not count her work with Music/TheNewPornographers, which is pure [[Music/AlternativeIndie Indie]] PowerPop.[[index]][[/note]]
* Drive-By Truckers
* Music/SteveEarle
* Fake Problems
* Robbie Fulks
* Brantley Gilbert
* Gram Parsons
* Music/AlisonKraussAndUnionStation
* Lyle Lovett
* Music/OldCrowMedicineShow
* My Morning Jacket
* Music/MojoNixon
* {{Music/Old 97s}}
* Son Volt
* Music/SilverJews
* Six Mile Grove
* Slim Cessna's Auto Club
* Slobberbone
* Langhorne Slim
* Mindy Smith
* Music/{{Sparklehorse}}
* Uncle Tupelo
* Gillian Welch
* Music/{{Wilco}}
* Music/WovenHand
* Music/HankWilliamsIII
* Music/LucindaWilliams
* Music/DwightYoakam

!!Texas country music
From its humble origins as rock-infused music played in dive bars, Texas country includes some of the best known alt-country acts. The scene is centered on Austin, but there is a distinct West Texas sound.
* Music/RyanBingham
* Guy Clark
* Slaid Cleaves (originally from Maine)
* Rodney Crowell
* Ray Wylie Hubbard
* Robert Earl Keen
* Chris Knight (originally from Kentucky)
* Charlie Robison
* Billy Joe Shaver
* Roger Creager
* Aaron Watson
* Corey Morrow
* Pat Green
* Reckless Kelly (although not from Texas originally, they are marketed as such and play among other Texas artists)
* Bart Crow Band
* Brandon Rhyder
* Casey Donahew Band
* Charlie Robinson
* Granger Smith
* Hayes Carll
* Honeybrowne
* Jack Ingram
* Houston Marchman
* JB and the Moonshine Band
* Josh Abbott Band
* Jason Eady
* Kevin Fowler
* Kyle Park
* Micky & the Motorcars (younger brothers of Reckless Kelly)
* No Justice
* Randy Rogers Band
* Ryan Beaver
* Six Market Blvd.
* Whiskey Myers
* William Clark Green

!!Red Dirt
Centered on Stillwater, Oklahoma, Red Dirt resembles Texas Country but is, if anything, [[UpToEleven even more ornery]].
* Jason Boland
* Wade Bowen
* Cross Canadian Ragweed
* Jimmy La Fave
* Stoney La Rue
* Cooder Graw
* Turnpike Troubadours

!!Country Folk
Inspired by [[BobDylan Bob Dylan's]] Nashville phase, this tends to be a mellower, "thinking person's" style of alt-country.
* Matraca Berg
* Emmylou Harris
* Diana Jones
* Kathy Mattea (later)
* Joe Pug
* Music/TownesVanZandt
* Steve Young

!!Underground Country
Beginning in the mid-90s, underground country emerged in Nashville by means of cross-pollination between that city's vibrant Country and Music/PunkRock scenes. Musically, acts tend to pay homage to hillbilly swing and pre-60s country such as the Louvin Brothers, but often with a punk twist and a rebellious attitude. [[http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/ Saving Country Music]] is the main scene blog.
* Music/HankWilliamsIII
* Shooter Jennings
* Wayne "The Train" Hancock
* Hellbound Glory
* Th'Legendary Shack Shakers
* Those Poor Bastards

!Tropes common in alt-country include:
* AsTheGoodBookSays
* CrapsackWorld: Alt-country protagonists tend to grow up there.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Compared to mainstream country.
* TheDrifter: Protagonists frequently are this.
* DrowningMySorrows: All the time, whiskey being the most popular option.
* MurderBallad
* OdeToIntoxication
* RatedMForManly: Not universal (there are plenty of female artists), but common.
* ThreeChordsAndTheTruth