Country Music: The Nashville Sound

November is Country Music Month. Not exactly heart-pounding news—except in Nashville, Tenn., where it is cause for an annual whoop-'n'-holler hoedown called the Country Music Festival. Hundreds of back-hill singers and strummers, sporting mail-order toupees and $300 hand-tooled boots, turn out for the event, and aspiring singers corner recording producers in elevators for impromptu auditions.

Big Business. The celebrants at the 13th annual festival had a lot to whoop about. Country and Western music, known in the trade as C & W, has never been more widely popular. Beginning with World War...