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Thanks for the Music 2015

This year, we  once again continue our annual November tradition of surveying people across the Texas/Red Dirt/Americana genres about a musical topic they are thankful for.  This year, we asked folks:  what song, album, artist, show or moment are you most thankful for this past year?  Not necessarily what their favorite record was, but which one were they most thankful for.  It could be a new record, or maybe an an older project they’re just now discovering (or re-discovering).  This year instead of publishing all the submissions (thanks to all who sent them in; we whittled them down to the ones we felt were most poignant or representative of the general flavor of responses we received).  As always, the answers are varied, insightful and, yes, ripe with gratitude.  Please leave the artists, songs or albums that resonated with you this past year in the comments section.

Kevin Russell, singer/songwriter/dance party enthusiast/ukelele playing brains behind Shinyribs

On Valentine’s Day 2015 at Gruene Hall- several things culminated that have made this a stand out show of the past year for me. Firstly the on-going steady rise in popularity of my band, Shinyribs brought me the opportunity to play. The traditional appeal of Gruene Hall coupled with the sex groove fun of The Ribs was a stroke of genius on the part of all involved. It seemed a natural fit. Second, I had always dreamed of playing a specially curated show wherein all things would be focused on love, lust and laughter. This was the perfect opportunity. The icing on the cake though has to be the addition of Alice Spencer and Sally Allen as back-up singers that night. This show was the fruition of all my musical dreaming and scheming over the last few years. And the Shiny Soul Singers is a final, crucial piece to the puzzle. Since then we have been evolving and growing into this large, fascinating entity. My writing and arranging are concerned mainly with this line up. All of my future musical plans revolve around this version of,”the band of my dreams.”. I truly feel like the luckiest song and dance man alive. This group of musicians are among the best people and the best players I have ever worked with. Their support, professionalism and high artistic standards are truly an inspiration for me. I am grateful every show, every song, every note for them: Keith Langford-Drums, Winfield Cheek-Keys, Jeff Brown-Bass, Tiger Anaya-Trumpet, Mark Wilson-Sax & Flute, Alice, Sally, sometimes Danny Levin-fiddle and Trey Worth who helps us all get it together. And I sincerely hope we will be able to make this music for a long time to come. And I will never forget the night all my wishes came true. Valentine’s at Gruene Hall. Who’d a-thunk? Thanks to everyone who made it happen. And all that were there to dig it.

Haley Cole, singer/songwriter

I went to see the incredible Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the legendary Preservation Hall recently and it was absolutely life-changing. It was the intimacy of the space, the acoustics, the history, the musicianship, the soulfulness, all bundled up together in the time span of about 45 minutes. Watching and meeting Charlie Gabriel was definitely the highlight of my year. My dream would be to one day be up there singing with him! I highly recommend a trip to NOLA to witness the experience that I had to everyone. It’s just one of those things you have to see live and in person, ya know? No YouTube video is going to be able to capture the real time emotion that is happening in this magical place.  I am so incredibly thankful for this memory.

Josh Grider, singer/songwriter 

As I look back on this year I have to say I am most grateful for my trip to Europe in August.  We were in Italy and France for at total of 11 days.  We played two excellent festivals had lot of time to look around and take in the sights and sounds of both countries.  We met some crazy characters and experienced things we’ll never forget.  It was incredible to play my songs so far from home and have people sing along, and really enjoy the music.  Their love of country music is real, and we got to experience it first hand.  On our trip we were able to spend three days walking the streets of Paris, and in light of all that has happened there recently I have to say I’m not only grateful that we got to visit and play, but that we travelled without incident.  Knowing how much Paris, and the world has changed in light of 11/13 I am grateful to have made our trip prior to that day.  I will go back, but I know that it will never be the same.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!  May your team win, your turkey be good, and the rest of your year play out just the way you want it to.


Drew Kennedy, singer/songwriter

Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues” has been a favorite song of mine for a very long time. While driving to a show earlier this year it wandered its way through my speakers thanks to the shuffle feature on my iPhone. As I was listening, a favorite verse of mine hit me in an entirely new way.


I have been to Fort Worth
I have been to Spain
I have been too proud to come in out of the rain
I have seen the David
I’ve seen the Mona Lisa too
And I have heard Doc Watson play Columbus Stockade Blues

I realized that (and this is my own interpretation here) Guy wasn’t just listing great works of art, but that he was valuing each of them equally. Three works of art that are each great benchmarks in their particular mediums. The sculpture, the painting, the song. Just because my work won’t ever hang in the Louvre or rest on a pedestal in Florence doesn’t mean it can’t reach the same level of respect or reverence in my chosen line of work.

I’m not saying that anything I ever write will be celebrated like those three, but that realization certainly helps me focus when I’m writing. Guy makes no distinction between the “high” art of the first two and that of the third. That idea matters to me, and it serves as an ample reminder that every time I lift my pen I should be aiming for greatness. I never hit the mark, of course, but the work I’m doing isn’t just for kicks– it’s forever.

Adam Odor, basssist/producer/engineer/currently playing with Saints Analogue

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a band play it’s first note and felt like I immediately needed to know their entire catalog.  When Houndmouth took the stage at Spotify House this SXSW, I was enamored, hooked, in-love, floored, and ready to tattoo their name on my chest.  A Motown-esque bass line kicked off their set with “Black Gold,” and until their finale of “Runaround Sue” I watched four people sing, switch instruments, break a strap (when his strap broke, the bass player ran over to the drums so he could sing his harmony part into a drum mic and continue playing until someone came on stage and fixed it), and break some hearts.  Americana, rock-n-roll, indy-rock, call it what you will, Houndmouth isn’t just a band, these four people eat, breathe, and die music.  This year I’m thankful for Houndmouth and the stories they have to tell.

Rich O’ Toole, singer/songwriter

I’m thankful for Chris Stapleton winning at The CMAs. I think his win opens the gate for more traditional and Americana Country acts getting the credit they deserve by a wider audience.  It’s a win that validates what so many have been working toward for so long and Stapleton is representative of so much to so many.

Dan Adams, singer/songwriter


I’m thankful for the way the Texas music scene wholeheartedly supports good independent music. We’ve seen it with Isbell, Stapleton, and Sturgill. We see it day in and day out with all of us who are regional indie artists based in Texas.  Texas radio pushes good local/regional music. Fans go out to festivals and venues, and share what they love with other fans to spread the word. All of this exists as a unique infrastructure to promote what is actually good – instead of what record companies spend millions trying to force feed to listeners.  It’s truly a rarity.  What happens with music here in Texas is organic and pure and I can say from experience that it doesn’t exist anywhere else.  I feel lucky and blessed to be a part of it.

Ronnie Fauss, singer/songwriter

I am thankful that Brent Best of Slobberbone/Drams fame released his long-awaited solo album, Your Dog, Champ. The songwriting is top notch and chilling.  It was worth the wait!

Brad Beheler, editor-in-chief Galleywinter.com

Music has always been a tremendous support system for me.  Good times and bad times it’s like that favorite pair of jeans.  During some really trying times this past year I leaned on it heavily.  The record that pulled me through the most was Dawes-All Your Favorite Bands.  The lyrics resonated with me like none that I can ever remember.  I know it’s only because they hit me at the time in my life they did, but they are phenomenal.  I thank God for sending that music to my heart and ears when I needed it most.  Taylor Goldsmith is a genius. I implore everyone to check out this band, starting with this album.

But somewhere along the way
I started to smile again
I don’t remember when
Somewhere along the way
Things will turn out just fine
I know it’s true this time

Country Music?

Preface: I’m not a journalist & I’m not pretending to be one. I barely consider myself a writer. Maybe late at night, a couple whiskeys in. Also, I’m going to be constantly referring to “country music” in this article. By that, I mean mainstream country.

I’ve read two articles this morning about country music, saving country music, not saving country music, Merle, Chris Stapleton, and more. One of the articles was by Kelly Dearmore of the Dallas Observer. The other was a response by Kyle Coroneos of Saving Country Music. If you haven’t read them, go read them. I’ll start off by saying that I enjoy both writers, & I understand that their styles & motives are very different. Dearmore usually has a more objective & lighthearted tone (as is appropriate for his Dallas Observer pieces), while Coroneos has a decidedly more subjective & serious tone – as he should (he runs a site called Saving Country Music). Now, you can go read both those articles and decide whatever you want – what’s accurate, what’s fabricated, whatever. But the main truth is this: everyone likes talking about “country music”. I’m no different. I enjoy the debate, and I think that discussing it is interesting.

Personally, I think country music is dead. I think it’s been dead for a few years. I feel this way because the genre is almost completely unrecognizable to me now, musically & lyrically. And I think the reason that the debate over country music is so interesting to me is because of the role it held in my life. I grew up listening to 680AM KKYX out of San Antonio. I still do when I’m in earshot. It was the soundtrack to my entire existence growing up. It’s in my blood, and that’s a very real statement that I make with the most upright sincerity. Anytime I hear Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms”, I involuntarily stop whatever I’m doing and listen. I don’t imagine I’m alone in these kinds of feelings. I think country music is a very intrinsic part of people’s lives, and that’s why people care about it so much.

And I think that’s why people get so upset about it. Not because country music is so bad right now (IT’S SO BAD RIGHT NOW), but because it’s being called country music when it’s obviously not. I think that’s the heart of the whole thing – the whole “DON’T CALL THAT SHIT COUNTRY MUSIC. I GREW UP LISTENING TO COUNTRY MUSIC AND THAT’S NOT COUNTRY MUSIC!” idea. And I think that’s a totally valid way to feel about it… Something that is a very real and intrinsic part of your life & who you are is now nearly unrecognizable to you? And it’s being touted as something it’s not? To the masses? Like I said, anger or frustration is a very valid feeling to that phenomenon (and YES, we can argue that that’s been the life of country music since its inception. But I’m not trying to conduct a fucking history lesson, and I don’t have the time to go over the entire ebb & flow of country music’s plight. I’m just trying to talk about right now).

Now, I’m sure some of you may be enraged that I’m saying country music is dead. Relax. That’s just the way I feel. I’m just one guy. I’m not the first person to feel that way, or to say it. At all. And I feel that way more & more as time goes on. And what I mean is this: Imagine if you took a poll across the United States that asked people to list country music artists… It would probably be populated with Luke Bryans & Jason Aldeans, Sam Hunts & The Band Perrys. And I believe that if 90% of the population thinks that Luke Bryan is country music, then Luke Bryan is country music. Thus, the thing we all used to know as country music no longer exists… Which effectively makes it dead.

Sure, there are artists like Sturgill or Stapleton that come along here & there and breathe life into things, but I don’t have any reason to think that their existence has any impact on what country music is or isn’t. Dearmore talks in his article about artists getting touted as “messiahs” of sorts – Sturgill, Isbell, Stapleton, respectively. How new successful artists keep getting all this attention as THE ARTIST that will be the one to turn the tides or right the country music ship. He also argues that none of this matters because we can go find good music that we like at the click of a computer key or mouse. And I think those two ideas are going to eat each other alive. I believe that we are in a time where NO ARTISTS are going to have very strong staying power. We’re in an age of everything, right now, all the time. Here is the life of popular artists right now:

  • Artist puts out great record
  • Everyone starts talking about it online
  • Artist becomes the artist that will correct an entire genre
  • Everyone gets bored
  • New artist comes along (Repeat process)

That’s some vicious cycle shit right there, y’all. And it’s never going to stop. Never. So how about we quit arguing about it, get off our fucking computers, & go to a show?

If you don’t want to do that, at least go listen to 680AM KKYX.

{Brad's Corner} November 2015: Winners and Losers

{Brad�s Corner}

Chris Stapleton’s big night at the CMA’s was a vindication for honest, hard-working, authentic musicians everywhere of every genre.  The overwhelming reaction by me and many other artists and pontificators signaled hope that we’d finally reached some long-awaited beacon.  But, why were we excited?  … Read the rest

{Review} Maren Morris EP


Maren Morris has delivered a collection of songs with her latest EP that makes a statement. She’s not catering to any format or preconceived notions of what music should be.  Outside the box, outside the lines, but straightforward with how good it all is.  … Read the rest

What Does It Mean?


Last month, country music writer Grady Smith posted some astonishing sales numbers with regard to critically acclaimed artists, of which one was Chris Stapleton.  Those numbers were:

Sturgill Simpson – 151K

Kacey Musgraves – 127K

Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard – 106K

Jason Isbell – 97K

Chris Stapleton – 88K

In light of last night’s triumph, one has to think that Stapleton’s numbers are going to grow rapidly.  … Read the rest