Anyone who knows me has heard me say the the average country musician is a better player than the average rock musician. No ifs, ands or buts. There are thousands of guitarists working the country bar circuit that would make nearly all of the rock guitar gods jealous with their technique.
Thing is, the country players don't go through a lot of visual emotional excess. No contortions, grimacing, no hair tossing. Not that they aren't emotional, the are just a little more internalized, and the focus is on the playing for them, not the visual drama.
Clearly technique isn't everything, there has to be soul. And I have known many players in every genre that seem to have great chops, but an absence of soul. And sometimes, well, often, I think that overblown stage posturing has little to do with the soul of the music, and more to do with impressing the crowds, and maybe even distracting them from the fact that either the player or the music isn't very interesting. You know, musical shiny objects.
Here are a few videos of really great country players. I feel soul in everything they do. Will you? I hope so.
Merle Travis invented Travis Picking. Thumb bass and finger melody had been around for quite some time, but Merle took it to a new level. Here's "Cannonball Rag":
Joe Maphis was the original guitar speed freak. So smooth, but so rocking. And the doublenecks he played-he really put that kind of instrument on the map:
Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant were a great team-steel and regular electric guitar: