Stuck in my car stereo over the last couple of weeks has been a CD loaded with tunes from some of my favorite Texas-affiliated artists. I’m a big fan of the singer-songwriter, old school and raggedy rock styles of country music, and Texas excels at all three. So any time I need a break from the current “Nashville sound,” I like to check in with Texas and see what they’re up to. Invariably, it’s more colorful and interesting.
I can’ t call myself an expert on Texas country by any stretch of the imagination and my education is nowhere remotely near complete (hint: feel free to recommend), but I do sense that it’s a style of music, or perhaps a musical sensibility, that is extremely important to maintain. Texas artists exude a certain spirit of creativity and sense of individuality that is sorely lacking elsewhere in country music. And in my opinion, great music and great artists only flourish in settings where both of those are encouraged.
Here’s a sampling of the songs I’m currently listening to:
- “Dallas,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore
- “Snowin’ on Raton,” Townes Van Zandt
- “West Texas Waltz,” Joe Ely
- “Greenville,” Lucinda Williams
- “Tortured Tangled Hearts,” Dixie Chicks
- “Transcendental Blues (Live in Austin),” Steve Earle
- “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Willie Nelson
- “Treat Me Like a Saturday Night,” The Flatlanders
- “Bourbon Legend,” Jason Boland & The Stragglers
- “Jesus Was a Capricorn,” Kris Kristofferson
- “Angry All The Time,” Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
- “What I Deserve,” Kelly Willis
- “Old Five and Dimers,” Billie Joe Shaver
- “Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame,” Sunny Sweeney
- “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” Waylon Jennings
What are some of your favorite Texas country tunes?
I like the songs that I know on your list; I’ll have to check out the ones I don’t. I know and really like the Pat Green/Natalie Maines version of “Snowin’ on Raton.” I don’t know the one on the list though. I’m no Texas music expert, but I’ve really gotten into a lot of it from the Verchers at The9513. Let me just also say that I can’t get enough of Kelly Willis. I think she has become one of my favorite artists. I almost said “female artists”, but I don’t think I even have to be that specific at this point. I really like Bruce Robison as well. The fact that he features Kelly a lot probably doesn’t hurt.:)
I agree with you about the refreshing creativity from the Texas school of Country music Lynn, but I don’t see it as the only or even the main antidote to Nashville pop.
Don’t forget the good ole Mountain and Bluegrass stuff from Appalachia, where rootsy poetic lyrics and storytelling, and virtuosic pickin’ and instrumentation abound!
Although I am not a Texan, I concur that Texas is the primary antidote to Nashville pop (I like bluegrass BUT it is more folk than country). Texas is also home to Heart of Texas Records which hosts the more tradtional forms of Texas music: honky tonk and swing
Your article did not mention the likes of Johnny Bush, Justin Trevino, Bobby FLores, Jason Roberts or Amber Digby. Also in Texas are Tommy Alverson and the Cornell Hurd Band (probably the most interesting and varied country act going today)
Paul spoke to why Texas country is appropriate for a place to turn if you’re fed up with Nashville’s current sounds. Bluegrass is wonderful, but it doesn’t replace the feeling of needing to listen to some good country music. A lot of the music from Texas, while not all good of course, employs the elements of country that we’d like to continue to exist while adding something fresh without being all glossy or slicked up as seems to be the way of Nashville’s mainstream right now.
I see what you’re saying, Paul and Leeann, Mountain/Bluegrass is sometimes considered a seperate genre, although very close to Traditional Country, and very important in it’s development. I’ve also heard Bluegrass described as “High Octane Folk”.
But there is also some good Mountain “flavored” music (Loveless, Lauderdale, etc..) that is indeed Country…granted it doesn’t get as much airplay, so while it is also very effective as a remedy to Nashville pop, is not as readily available on the radio as some of the good Texas stuff…Yeah, I can concede that.
What do you think, would Jamey Johnson make a good Texan? I hear a lot of that influence in his style..;)
Oh, just a sidenote that in no way detracts from the main point regarding Texas Country.. For a good example of a hugely sucessful mainstream Country artist who is good, non Texas medicine for the Country starved soul , there is always Brad Paisley… Some of his ballads are mainstream Country and even pop-country, but his Mountain influence is readily apparent in his uptempo stuff, it’s almost like electrified Bluegrass..And he has that Mountain timbre in his voice. And hey, doesn’t he even have a permanent banjo player in his band?
As a recent Sirius Radio subscriber I have pulled up a stool at Willie’s Place (Sirius CH.64) and it’s hard to leave. It has broaden my horizons to Texas music and I love it. Dallas Wayne’s “Not a Dry Eye in the House”, Amber Digby’s “Cowboy Lovin Night” and Bruce Robison’s “Barlight” are just a few of the highlights I heard this week.
Steve, I was in no way attempting to imply that Texas country is the main antidote to Nashville pop, just that it’s a good one, and one that I enjoy!
Yeah, I realize that now, and it’s a good one. I was just suggesting another, hopefully without getting too far off topic. Thank Heaven for Texas and Kentucky, as both are geographical havens(among others) for the good stuff!
I think that’s why I find Miranda Lambert so refreshing as well, her Texas edge. But I mostly take my musical refreshment a little bit to the Northeast of Nashville, and I totally understand and respect you and others taking yours from the Southwest of “Music City”. ;)
Oh man, I’d contribute some songs but encompassing all the different styles under the Texas umbrella makes it so broad I don’t really know where to start. I’m diggin’ list of songs you kicked things off with though.
Yeah, when I first started developing a taste for Texas country, I didn’t realize how many different sounds there really were.
I’ll recommend Aaron Watson – interesting voice, great songs, the kid of country that should be mainstream but isn’t any more. His most recent album, Angels And Outlaws, is really good.
There is alot of Texas Country Artist that is really good. Kevin Fowler, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers Band, etc… If you ever get a chance to see a Texas Country Artist in concert, do it. They put on the best shows. Check out http://www.todaystexascountry.com to find more Texas Country Artist.
Out of your whole list I only know 3 of them
“Tortured Tangled Hearts,” Dixie Chicks
“Jesus Was a Capricorn,” Kris Kristofferson
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Willie Nelson
I just love the Dixie Chicks
Texas Country artist is some of the best people you will ever incountrer. I’ve lived in Texas all my life and just within the past few years that I started to listen to “Texas Country”. Some of my favorite artist are Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers Band, Kevin Fowler, and the list could go on and on. If you want to see a good live show check out one of these guys or go to my website and check out when other Texas artist are playing in your area. You won’t be dissapointed in a live show. There are links to all of thee websites, social sites, and venues where they play.