This year, we once again continue our annual November tradition of surveying folks 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). 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.
Dan Adams, singer/songwriter
This year I’m thankful for the new “Muscle Shoals” documentary film. After watching it, I was reminded how much I love all those old records that were cut there. Country albums from artists like Alabama, Ronnie Milsap, and Mac Davis. Rock records from Skynyrd, the Stones, all the Duane Allman stuff. And of course all the old R&B records from Otis Redding to the Commodores. I was influenced by all of those things as a Southern kid and a budding singer/songwriter. That film led me down the rabbit hole….and I listened to a ton of records I hadn’t heard in a long time. I recently re-kindled a friendship with a producer buddy who I had worked with when I was first starting out in Nashville in the 90s, and he had started his recording career in Muscle Shoals in the 80s. We decided to cut some new songs together this fall, and it was a natural fit to go straight to the source of all those influences. We had a blast recording my latest project in Muscle Shoals over the past couple of weeks – and the idea all started with that film.
Mark Allan Atwood, singer/songwriter
2014 was a year of personal changes and some wonderful career moments. I relocated from the beautiful Texas Hill Country to my native DFW, after 15 years, and I’m thrilled to be home. I’ve been playing and hanging out with my like-minded compatriots in The Stockyards on the regular, done a bunch of co-writing with local friends and made a cozy home with my girlfriend and my daughter. I got to share bills with some amazing artists, the highlight of which may well have been Greenfest 14, which was a Who’s Whom of my personal favorites. I even got to do two nights of opening acoustic sets in sold-out 2,000 seat theaters, as support for the band 3 Doors Down, with more such opportunities coming my way in 2015. As rough as 2013 was on every level, 2014 was a shining star, and I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone who made that happen.
Brad Beheler, editor/administrator Galleywinter.com
When I look back at the year of music, Sturgill Simpson comes to mind first. Like many others, he has reignited a passion for a brand of music that I thought was long gone. He hasn’t reinvented the wheel, he’s just managed to deliver the goods with more intensity and passion than others. I’ve listened to other records this year, but his last two releases continually resonate with me. Kevin Russell, aka Shinyribs, also impacted me this year. His boundless joy and positivity radiates beyond the music. We could all learn something from the way Mr. Ribs conducts himself. Plus, nobody throws a better dance party. While Sturgill and Shinyribs had the greatest musical impact on me these past 12 months, I must say that my gratitude also extends to those artists that dig what we’re doing and have been doing with this website for the past 12 years. Whether it’s playing a jam at LJT, driving hours to play at Greenfest for peanuts or just generally being down for whatever we’re pushing I can’t thank you enough. Here’s to 12 more years and beyond.
Brant Croucher, singer/songwriter
This year, I’m thankful for Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. I rediscovered this record a few months ago and have since spent time really digging back into the songs, the stories, and the process that went into the creation and release of the raw, often haunting 1982 album. From a production stand-point, it’s a simple, straight-foward recording, featuring only a guitar and a vocal track on many songs, which were captured entirely on a four-track recorder with the thought that it would be demo tracks for a future studio session with the E Street Band. Ultimately, they decided to master and release the demos themselves as they were — a gutsy, brilliant maneuver that further-established Springsteen as a legitimate songwriting heavyweight. It’s a good reminder of a couple things: 1) Don’t fear deviating from convention or expectation and 2) when it’s all said and done, the song still matters most.
Bobby Duncan, singer/songwriter
This year I am most thankful for the entire catalogue of one Bruce Springsteen. I remember making my second record with my friend Walt Wilkins and telling Walt that I never got Springsteen. Nothing in his music ever registered at my advanced age of 22. Well my friends, much to the chagrin of my lovely wife, and all others who spend ample time in the car with me, it clicked. At a time where my musical passion seemed to be waning a bit, and I could find nothing to be inspired by, I stumbled across a Springsteen live show on YouTube. The fire was reborn, and I’ve been digesting all I can ever since.
James Dunning, singer/songwriter from Lost Immigrants
Most days, my distractions and responsibilities carry me far away from music. So much so, that when I return, the whole thing seems a little alien, a little foreign, and I have to work through it and most nights fall in love with the whole shebang all over again. I’m thankful for conversations and advice from songwriters like Darryl Lee Rush, Jimmy Baldwin, Mark Allan Atwood and Robby White. I’m thankful for seeing a chapter open for Stan Crawford and an amazing story close for Ronny Spears. Mostly, I’m thankful for a kind word, an inspired comment, and another savory experience I can add to my box of memories and rummage through them when I’m writing a song. Music is what we make of it, and I’m thankful we can do it now and then.
Adam Drake, program director/disc jockey Maverick 102.7FM-College Station
After seeing a hit artist that I won’t name, I’m more thankful than ever for all of our amazing regional artists. I can somewhat see the appeal of the mainstream music, but it’s mostly so shallow. Guys like Josh Grider, Cody Johnson, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers, and on and on can do some of the most fun songs I’ve ever heard, but still maintain heart and realism that’s not always found outside of the Great State. So many of their songs have soul to spare. Sadly too many seem to have sold theirs to be rich and famous. I’m so thankful for these guys and girls putting their hearts and souls into music that touches me so deeply.
Adam Hood, singer/songwriter
I’m thankful for the last time I got to open for Ian Moore at poor David’s way back in 2009. Yes, the opening slot was cool, but I learned more in 90 minutes watching Ian than I have in any other show, venue, or watching any other artist so far. He was appreciative to every person that was there, and he meant it. He told a story with every song…all of which were entertaining, talked about losing his dad (mine was sick at the time), talked to Patrick and I directly from the stage like we were the only ones there, and was even kind to a man heckling him… And you never see that. There’s a moment before every show that nervous energy hits me and I can use it in a negative or a positive way. To this day, I constantly think about that show and try to make it positive.
Drew Kennedy, singer/songwriter
This year I am thankful for “I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow”. It’s an update of Hall’s classic album “Songs of Fox Hollow”— written specifically for children, although for years parents and children alike have delighted in its songs. The new version brings together a collection of artists to put their own stamp on these wonderful little tunes, but the update isn’t why I’ve fallen in love with this record— it was simply my path to rediscovering this great album. My wife and I get to share these songs with our son, and watching him move and dance to the music is one of the greatest joys that music can provide. Plus, if there’s a better song than “I Love” to share with a small child wobbling around in a big old scary world I haven’t found it yet.
Chris King, singer/songwriter
Jon Paul “Hogleg” Long, creater, owner of Galleywinter.com
Thankful for everyone who came to play at my latest gig out in Canyon Lake. I enjoyed all the shows and artists that took the plunge with me. Really appreciate the folks who believed in me and Hal Jon enough to give it a shot out there. It was a pleasure taking care of you all. I’m thankful for new opportunities. I’m thankful for this organic life in this music world. Thankful for my passion to keep on keeping on despite the bumps along this ride. Happy Thanksgiving!
Brandon Meyers, contributor Galleywinter.com and TXRDR.com/owner Red Dirt Blue Collar.com
The one artist that has been a constant for me this year is Zac Wilkerson. As a music fan first, the one thing I am always searching for is music that draws me in and makes a connection on some level. Outside of being a great performer, Wilkerson is quickly becoming one of my favorite songwriters in Texas. Whether it be a love song, murder ballad or working man’s blues, Zac has a way to make every song your song. His long overdue self titled debut album was one of the highlights in a great year of Texas music.
Rich O’Toole, singer/songwriter
I’m very thankful for Lucky Town by Bruce Springsteen. After listening to that album on repeat I decided to live in LA for a year to rediscover my sound and live show. It’s a sound that I love and has helped me find myself as an artist.
David Pratka, singer/songwriter
This year I’ve been thankful for Whiskeytown’s Stranger’s Almanac. For some reason I revisited this album at the start of this year. I have continued to spin it at some point in each month since. It just feels like where I’m at in 2014. It also has some great cuts that really show that less is more. We can all learn from that.
Randy Rogers, singer/songwriter
I would have to say this year for me it was “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe” by Kendrick Lamar. I would be lying if I said that the band wasn’t tired of hearing that song blaring from the front lounge most nights on tour. I have had many a dance party with many a character into the wee hours of the morning jamming some Kendrick Lamar. Maybe some of you have been witness to such fun? If not…b*tch, don’t kill my vibe!