I LOVE noodling around on hot country guitar, and doing older standards where I can jam on that stuff. Playing Nu-Country, especially note for note cover band style, bores me to tears. I would rather just listen to it, and I really don't even like listening to it all that much.
I'll admit I don't really mind playing the modern country too much, because I tend not to keep our singer's vocals that high up in my monitor. It's a lot easier to ignore the ****** lyrics that way, and focus on what often end up being pretty fun tunes to re-arrange for our configuration and play live.
I do listen to a metric f*ckton of the "good" country though, and now that I think about it, I don't make a lot of attempts to play that. But I probably would if I could.
I guess I always thought of playing music as something I do for other people, whereas listening to music is something I'm considerably more selfish about.
I do think there are other genres that are "more country" than "today's hottest country" as my local radio station calls it. The country I play and the country that I listen to seem to have the same divide. I don't mind bastardizing the modern songs on our set list.
What's the difference between modern pop country and just plain old pop rock...as a guitarist? From what I hear and see, the guitarists in these modern country bands are playing "rock" amps with rock tones and not a whole bunch of clean chicken pickin going on. The country seems to come from banjos, fiddles, pedal steel, etc.