As for the blues, I started with the classics, from Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family until today, and could set a long list of names, names that mean something to me, a world of sounds, spirit and feelings.
While listening to a Merle Haggard anthology right now, I notice a duet with Bonnie Owens, a female country singer who married Buck Owens and later, Merle Haggard. She sadly passed away a few years ago. I knew about her through Laura Cantrell, who wrote a lovely song called "Queen of the Coast" for her first album Not the Tremblin' Kind (2000), certainly one of my top favorite country-pop-rock albums of the last decade. I can't find anything of Bonnie Owens at an affordable price, unfortunately (the Bear Family 4 CDs box costs about 150 bucks).
Same goes for solo Rose Maddox, whom I enjoyed the Maddox Brothers stuff (America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band) from the 40's (really pre-rockabilly at times). Laura Cantrell wrote a song about her, too ("California Rose"). But Rose Maddox's 60s solo stuff is quite hard to find.
Why no affordable reissues? Are these singers that forgotten? Am I naive to think country music should be still treasured in the US?
In the case of Bonnie Owens and Rose Maddox, yes, those singers are that forgotten. It's unfortunate, but the early pioneers of country music will appeal to only a small group of fanatics. That's why a great but ridiculously overpriced label like Bear Family can charge exorbitant rates for the music. Very few people will buy the music, and thus they have to charge a lot for it just to make it worthwhile. Sorry, but there's no such thing as volume discounts when it comes to Bonnie Owens. I keep eyeing that 9-disc Bear Family Louvin Brothers compilation, too. But I'm not going to pay what they're asking for it.
And you're certainly not naive to think that country music should be treasured in the US. Many people still treasure the music of folks such as Hank Williams, George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, etc. I know I do. And I treasure the music of the young upstarts who follow in that tradition -- folks such as Justin Townes Earle, Diana Jones, Laura Cantrell, etc.