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Texas Best Americana Red’s Volume 3

My mission to archive and chronicle the quintessential and signature songs of Texas/Red Dirt Americana continues with Volume 3 as we dive into M-R.

Volume 1: http://galleywinter.com/texas-best-americana-reds-part-1/
Volume 2: http://galleywinter.com/texas-best-americana-reds-volume-2/
Spotify playlist for Volumes 1-3: GW Texas Best Americana Red’s

Mack Abernathy – “Slippin’ Around” (1989)
Elements of Bob Wills can be found in this vintage Texas Music artist’s work and is best put on display here.

Macon Greyson – “Home To You” (2001)
Buddy Huffman fronted it.  Ray Wylie Hubbard named it.  And this band is one of the finest to ever grace the Texas circuit.  They are missed, but their music,

Magee Payne – “Every Sip I Take” (2003)
Fort Worth songwriter Payne made an early dent in the Texas Music scene before fading away…this song is a testament to his talent.

Maggie Brown – “Forty Dollars” (2004)
This Mississippi blues woman garnered numerous comparisons to Bonnie Raitt for good reason. “$40 worth of Lyle Lovett and $20 worth of gas…” is one of the best opening lines ever.

Mandi Powell – “Poor Girl Blues” (2015)
Powell comes screaming out of the Houston area with a big voice and a solid, standard blues backing track that make you pay attention to what she has to say.

Mando Saenz – “Watertown” (2005)
A quiet, unassuming songwriter from Corpus Christi who later went on to notoriety as Stoney LaRue’s most frequent collaborator and a celebrated Nashville songwriting career.  Yet, it’s his debut album that made the deepest impression in his home state.  The title track is a whispy reminenscence delivered in the most beautiful, mumbled cadence imaginable.

Manzy Lowry – “Muddy Waters” (2014)
Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t a blues tribute.  This is a dirt road romp done right, unlike the bro-country relics failed attempts.

Marc Broussard – “Home” (2005)
Bayou soul in spades. Broussard is as funky and soulful as you’ll find anywhere and the best elments of his swampy R&B have influenced countless Texas/Red Dirt artists.

Maren Morris – “My Church” (2016)
Texas chanteuse struck gold with this smash hit about the healing powers of the airwaves.

Margo Price – “Hurtin'” (2016)
This Illinois native exploded onto the country scene with a throwback style and cheekily smart lyrics that brought high profile slots across the country and bent more than a handful of ears across the Texas scene.  Most notably those of some guy named Willie Nelson.

Mark Allan Atwood – “Ghost” (2012)
MAA was a veteran of successful north Texas rock/metal bands before embracing his long love for the more lyrical-driven strains of Texas Music fostered by the likes of TVZ and Clark.  This heartfelt song pays tribute to his heroes.

Mark David Manders – “Last Night” (1997)
A free-wheeling country traditionalist with just enough Lone Star attitude to stand out.  Manders was a popular draw in the early v2 days and his songs live on. He had a devil may care, vintage Jerry Jeff charm that is summed up in this song.  It was indicative of the times.

Mark Jones and Twenty Paces – “Fast and Free” (2014)
Full throttle group from Houston that lives the title of this song in every song.

Mark Jungers – “Wasn’t Thinking” (2011)
San Marcos bar fixture Jungers is a cherished songwriter with a body of work as impressive as anyone.

Mark McKinney – “Stolen Cash” (2013)
A vocalist with an entertaining but small range, McKinney turns to his clever pen to stretch himself artistically and carve out his own niche.  McKinney finds new ways to say the same things his peers are saying.  The hook on this song is particularly well done.

Mark Sanders – Hwy 321 (2004)
Sanders found himself at the epicenter of a Hays County musical revolution in the midst of RRB’s climb and being surrounded by other such young artists at Ryan Turner and Micah Harris.  Sanders chased the brass ring as a musican for a few  years before switching to the business side of things where he became very successful in the radio industry.  But, this song will forever be cranked on every empty FM highway in Texas.

Matt Caldwell – “What Cowboys Do” (2013)
A Texas native that somehow always felt like an outsider.  Caldwell came to notice from his time on the TroubadourTX reality show that helped launch Cody Johnson, Zane Williams, Kylie Rae Harris and Josh Grider. Caldwell had a couple hits, but could never match his castmates Texas success.

Matt Dunnam – “Stevie Ray and Jack” (1999)
A waltz about missing Stevie Ray Vaughan doesn’t sound like it would make sense until you hear this song.

Matt Hillyer – “If These Old Bones Could Talk” (2014)
The 11Hundo leader steps out for a solo turn that revealed this as its most shining moment.

Matt King – “Cursing the Ohio” (2008)
A downright gritty, heavy, gothic, dark take on country music is what King delivered after being spit out of the major label mill and going indie.  Texas/Americana radio played this strange song quite a bit for a few months in 2008.

Matt Powell – “Dragonfly” (2000)
Powell moved to Texas from Virginia and initially found success with others covering his songs.  But, it was when he recorded this album in a makeshift home studio as he played all the instruments himself that his true genius was revealed.

Matt Stell – “Memphis on the River” (2011)
Hailing from Arkansas, Stell found a winning formula by combining soul music with country and winning admirers as diverse as Jason Isbell (who would go on to produce a Stell record) and John Evans.  This song is a strong example of Stell’s style.

Matt Wayne – “Far To Fall” (2011)
Fort Worth’s Wayne hit the scene with a familiar, if not original, style that was welcomed by audiences impressed with his strong vocals.

Max Stalling – “Runnin’ Buddy” (2000)
Former food engineer turns into a songwriting master. Stalling’s music evokes a laid back drive down 281 even at its most urgent moments.  This tale of a friend losing his friend to the charms of a woman along the roadtrips of south Texas is smart, warm, funny and above all relatable.  Much like Stalling himself.

Mayeux and Broussard – “Stoned and Broke Down” (2015)
Americana honky-tonk straight out of Austin, TX with every bit of attitude and style that description would imply.

Micah Harris – “Love is Enough” (2004)
If I were to tell you that one of the hottest acts on the Texas Music scene in the early 2000’s was a young, large African-American gentleman from Luling that was built like an offensive lineman would you believe me?  The proof is in this song.  Harris and his Rambling Fever backing band were as cool as it gets.

Michael Hearne – “New Mexico Rain” (1995)
A folk music prodigy and treasure that keeps getting better with age, Hearne has a track record of fantastic songs like this one.

Michael Martin Murphey – “Geronimo’s Cadillac” (1972)
Prior to becoming the world’s most popular purveyor of cowboy music, Murphey was a gonzo contemporary of Jerry Jeff, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rusty Wier and the Austin 70’s gang.  Backed by the Lost Gonzo band that featured Bob Livingston and Gary P. Nunn, they combined to create this alt-country building block classic.

Micky and the Motorcars – “Carolina Morning” (2006)
As I’ve detailed in this list, breaking out of the shadow of a famous family member is no small task.  Being little brother carries with it inherent disadvantages.  In the case of Micky and the Motorcars, the fearlessness caused by wanting to establish their own identity actually led to some of the finest songs and albums to come from our scene.  This is one of their best.

Midnight River Choir – “Soul Food” (2011)
Sprung from a summer hauling tubes and tubers down River Rd for the Lone Star Floathouse and named after a vacationer complained about the “damned midnight river choir” that kept him up singing and harmonizing down the river in the early morning hours; this Eric Middleton led outfit has found a smooth, jam band-y Americana rock style that feels like putting on your favorite blue jeans each time you hear one of their tunes.  Like this one.

Mike and the Moonpies – “Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em” (2015)
Vintage honky-tonkin’ shitkickers from Austin that will hit you over the head with traditional country music and make you like it…and like it you will.

Mike Ethan  Messick – “Oldsmobile” (2010)
Messick made his name in the College Station scene and hit everyone’s radars after Roger Creager covered MEM’s “Everclear” and made it an infamous, regional classic.  But, Messick is so much more than that as he would show with his successive releases including “Oldsmobile” (featuring backing vocals from Jamie Wilson) and his knack for prose approach to music journalism that can be found in the pages of Lone Star Music magazine.

Mike Graham – “I Feel Like Drinkin’ ” (1999)
Graham was mentored early on by Larry Joe Taylor and his catalog of songs, such as this one, share LJT’s party aesthetic.

Mike Mancy – “Let It Roll” (2004)
Mancy owned the Dallas corner of the Texas market for several years and for a time he had Coby Wier on lead guitar blasting out songs like this one. His Saturday morning bloody mary rock shows at LJT campsites are the things of legend.

Mike McClure – “World Go Round” (2003)
Stepping away from The Great Divide allowed McClure to chase his rock whims.  Teaming with Rodney Pyeatt to form, perhaps the best twin guitar attack in this scene’s history led to the first MMB record.  Mac’s solo acoustic record 12 Pieces was a masterpiece.  There wouldn’t be a scene for us to all dig into without Mike McClure.  Choosing a song here is as difficult as picking one from Guy Clark.  I settled on “World Go Round” because it showcases Mac’s ability to tell a lyrical story, features a slick guitar riff and has his trademarks all over it.

Michael Padgett – “Going Home” (2013)
North Texas singer/songwriter has a tranquil quality to his music that is demonstrated best here.

Mike Ryan – “Dancing All Around It” (2014)
Ryan had all the tools.  He could pick, he could sing, he could entertain and he had one hell of a band.  But, the pieces didn’t all come together until this song hit in 2014 making Ryan a scene headliner and one of the only songs on this list with over one million streams.

Miles From Nowhere – “Bloodline” (2007)
Distinctly influenced by Neil Young, these country-rockers deliver the goods on this title track.

Mo Robson – “Jim Beam Whiskey” (2000)
Unsophisticated honky-tonk created, and sounds like recorded, within the beer-soaked, graffiti stained walls of Adair’s in Dallas.

Nate Rodriguez – “Church House” (2014)
Raised in Victoria, educated in Waco and based out of New Braunfels, Rodriguez is a multi-instrumentalist that pours each of those geographic locales into his blend of Texas Music.  Blessed with the most pure and biggest voice you’ll ever hear, Rodriguez is a live show-stopper that prompted Adam Hood to say he was the best singer he’d ever heard. This budget studio track gives a small glimpse at the magic folks feel when they hear Nate sing.

Nathan Hamilton – “Outlaw’s Lament” (1999)
A former winner of the Kerrville New Folk Award, Hamilton upholds that prestigious title with epic storytelling songs such as this.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – “SOB” (2015)
Missouri folkie turns up the rock and soul and delivers an Americana crossover that finds a home in ad campaigns despite its profane title.

Neil Austin Imber – “Roll the Dice” (2008)
Lo-fi indie country straight from greater Austin.

Nelo – “Footsteps” (2012)
Decidedly one of the most pop acts on this list, Nelo brings a Texas perspective to modern contemporary popular music. Think a Texas DMB.

The New Offenders – “Stones to Throw” (2015)
Blasting out of Houston, this band rocks harder than just about anything currently toiling in Texas.

Nick Verzosa – “She Only Loves Me (When I’m Leaving)” (2011)
Getting Walt Wilkins’ stamp of approval isn’t easy, but Verzosa won the Texas legend over with his knack for witty storytelling backed by big melodies as found on this song.

Nickel Creek – “When  You Come Back Down” (2000)
Chris Thile’s band was at the emergence of the Americana scene.  Their bluegrass based, heavy lyrical brand of Americana continues to influence and was a great benchmark for everything that’s come in its wake.

No Dry County – “‘Til the Wheels Fall Off” (2015)
Lubbock’s NDC explore textures and elements a bit more in the studio than their peers and it shows here on this standout song.

No Justice – “Bend Don’t Break” (2006)
Following in the footsteps of the Red Dirt brothers that came before them, Steve Rice and the guys from No Justice made a mark by putting on one hell of a live show and having crazy good songs like this one.

The O’s – “Found the One” (2014)
Essentially a double one-man band (misnomer aside), The O’s have created a style all their own showcased on this track.

Old 97’s – “Streets of Where I’m From” (1997)
Rhett Miller’s Dallas post-grunge/alt-country/rock outfit rose to prominence in a parallel universe to the modern Texas Music scene and almost inadvertently influenced two generations of musicians with songs like this classic.

Old Crow Medicine Show – “Wagon Wheel” (2004)
Had to. Before it became a punchline, it was a cool song. It just happened to be a million covers and one Darius ago.

The Orbans – “When We Were Wild” (2010)
Fort Worth rockers bring in just enough country elements to appeal to the Texas crowd and catch on in a big way.  They were forebearers and trailblazers to a banjo-driven folk-rock style that would soon be all over Top 40 radio with acts like Mumford and Sons.

Owen Temple – “Tennessee Highway” (2000)
Temple was part of an early, dominating triumvirate that included Pat Green and Cory Morrow.  They each sang on each other’s records and were produced by Lloyd Maines.  Each chose different artistic paths and Temple found a home in the Americana, songwriter realm. Yet, many fans know him best from his early work and this song.

Pake Rossi – “You’ll Always Be Blue” (2010)
Rossi became a huge draw in the Corpus Christi area and could never translate it much beyond that.  But, it wasn’t for lack of trying with songs like this one.

Parker McCollum – “Meet You in the Middle” (2015)
A young artist that is putting in the work and woodshed time to make himself great.  This song began blowing up a little over a year ago and the McCollum train hasn’t slowed down yet.  Nor should it.

Parker Millsap – “Truck Stop Gospel” (2014)
Oklahoma multi-instrumentalist that dips his country in the blues and evens it out with a dose of folk.

Pat Green – “Carry On” (2000)
The Godfather of this scene (and this website).  Quite frankly, none of this would be here without him. At least not to the level we’ve all arrived at.  The vibe in the lyrics of this song proclaim a good-time, carefree, glass half full optimism indicative of much of Green’s work…and much of Texas Music. This song came at a turning point for everyone and served as a launching pad for just about everything.

Patrick Davis – “Can’t Stop Rollin’ ” (2005)
South Carolina’s Patrick Davis made some noise in our scene around 2004 with this song and the entire album it came from before finding great success as a songwriter for hire in Nashville.

Patty Griffin – “Long Ride Home” (2002)
How can something so macabre sound so sweet? It’s because Patty Griffin is a master songwriter and performer.

Paul Cauthen – “Still Drivin’ ” (2016)
Dripping with as much Muscle Shoals stench as a Texas boy can muster, Cauthen busts out of his Sons of Fathers past and into a promising solo career with this jam.

Paul Eason – “Mountains of Nuevo Leon” (2008)
Prior to finding success as Kevin Fowler’s lead guitarist, Eason had a successful solo career that culminated in the best Robert Earl Keen or Rodney Hayden song they didn’t write.

Paul Thorn – “I Don’t Like Half The Folks I Love” (2010)
Mississippi’s Thorn first came to renown in the Texas scene when Wade Bowen covered his “Mood Ring”.  Once Thorn toured the circuit a couple times and played Steamboat, everyone was enamored.  Who hasn’t felt like this song, especially come holiday time?  Thorn sets that sentiment to music.

Pauline Reese – “Don’t Leave Me Standing Here” (2002)
A talented vocalist who has never been able to quite find her own style, Reese shines best on neo-traditional 90’s esque country music like this number.

Pawn Shop Gold – “Blanco River Serenade” (2014)
With a name inspired by Slaid Cleaves and an appreciation for musical lineages and history, this San Marcos outfit delivers the goods.

The Pear Ratz – “Sing Jolie Again” (2005)
A fun song about hiring Reckless Kelly for the coolest house party ever. And I believe this to be the only song on the list that directly references another song on the list.

Pete Benz – “Good Luck” (2001)
Former karaoke singer goes legitimate and scores some of the earliest and biggest hits of the young, Texas Music scene such as this one.

Peter Dawson – “Willie Nelson For President” (2000)
One of the best and most pure country vocalists to ever grace the Texas stages, Dawson had a monster novelty hit with this song about a Willie Nelson presidency that overshadowed his smarter songs.  Dawson ditched the music biz for law school and scored the last laugh.

Phil Hamilton – “Bad” (2012)
Hamilton is anything but the title of this Tom Petty-ish song that relates the description of every less than pure girl that you know from your past.

Phil Pritchett – “Maria” (1999)
P2’s Phil Comes Alive remains a seminally important one in this scene and this south American, flamenco infused jam is one of the biggest reasons why.

Phillip Gibbs – “Jump Into the River” (2014)
Texas folk singer details Lone Star life in a better, more simple way than many of the alleged cap-frat favs of the early Texas music heyday.

Poor J. Brown – “Black Hills Gold” (2014)
This south Texas country jam rock outfit will get your toe tappin’ and your soul singing.

Porterdavis – “Smack You Back” (2009)
A mysterious, Zeppelin-esque country groove and vibe surround every second of this song.

Prophets and Outlaws – “Soul Shop” (2011)
DFW soul rockers put their mission statement to song here.

Quaker City Night Hawks – “Lavanderia” (2012)
Described in press releases as Fort Worth’s modern answer to ZZ Top if Billy Gibbons was a zombie tells you all you need to know.

The Raconteurs – “Old Enough (Acoustic)” (2008)
One of Jack White’s myriad of side projects produced this influential Ricky Skaggs/Ashley Monroe collaboration that gets better upon each listen.

Radney Foster – “Texas in 1880” (1987)
Much like Mike McClure and other artists on this list, Foster’s influence and brilliance is so wide-ranging it is near impossible to choose just one song to represent him.  But, for the purest purposes of this list you can’t do worse than this cowboy relic.

Randall King – “Don’t Ask Her Tonight” (2013)
Another in the long line of Lubbock carved songwriters, King has a smoother take on it than most due to his pure country tenor and his know-how on how to handle a cliched country narrative in a fresh way.

Randy Brown – “Trouble Is” (2011)
DFW honky-tonk good time rabble rouser Brown has made a name for himself with a style that’s all his own.

Randy Rogers Band – “Down and Out” (2004)
Unquestionably the Texas scene’s biggest and most consistent act over the past 15 years, the RRB went through a couple of early formations before landing on the familiar one everyone knows and loves  Rollercoaster remains the landmark album of this music and this song remains a line in the sand between what we do down here and what the man on the radio does out there. It still comes blasting out of the speakers with as much piss, vinegar, ferocity, bitterness, desperation and confidence as it did the first time.

Rankin Twins – “Rain” (2012)
This sister act is comprised of two of the most big-hearted and giving artists to ever be a part of the Texas Music scene.  It’s hard for female acts to transcend for some reason, but that hasn’t stopped these twin sisters from making their own mark in Texas Music on their own terms.

Ray Johnston – “More Crown Than Coke” (2014)
Ray Johnston knows no other way than to win.  He’s defied the odds to make an NBA roster with the Dallas Mavericks.  He beat Leukemia.  And he conquered Texas Music with a raucous, fun style that can be found in this song that was co-written by Django Walker.

Ray LaMontagne – “Trouble” (2004)
Folk-soul crooner made scores of Texas songwriters search for something a bit more romantic in all senses of the word when he came out with this Van Morrison-esque love song.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – “Snake Farm” (2007)
One would think you’d have to go with “Redneck Mother” here, but that seems like a different lifetime for Ray ago…and it was.  In his latter, blues-infused incarnation, no song encompasses the practices of the Wylie Lama better than the tale of Ramona working at the skeezy place off the Interstate south of New Braunfels.

Reckless Kelly – “Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah” (2000)
When a band of musical prodigy brothers from Idaho hit Austin at the dawn of a music scene, the results are sure to be raw, real and rocking.  Reckless Kelly has made a career of those elements.  Willy and Cody Braun may never get over Jolie and for the rest of us that’s a good thing.

Red Dirt Rangers – “Starin’ Down the Sun” (2002)
Some of the earliest purveyors of the musical genre found in their name, this group of players from Stillwater created a buzz and path that brought us the likes of Canada, Boland, LaRue et al.  This particular song of theirs would later be recorded on Canada’s This Is Indian Land project.

Red Shahan – “Men and Coyotes” (2015)
First gaining notice playing guitar in Six Market Blvd, Shahan shines on his debut record with a haunting and compelling philosophical trope that will have you howling along by the time the chorus rolls around the second time.

Reed Brothers – “Hammer Down” (2016)
After years of being some of the most sought after sidemen in the scene, brothers Keegan and Kyle Reed made a statement by forming their own band and releasing low down, groovy tracks like this one.

Reid Wilson and His So-Called Friends – “Girls With Tattoos” (2009)
Austin music scene fixture has a whimsical, cynical take on life and puts that to song.

Rich O’ Toole – “Queen of the Misfits” (2006)
O’Toole has never quite gotten the respect he deserves or seeks.  In the mid to late 00’s, he was one of the scene’s hottest draws on the strength of melodic, radio-friendly songs like this one.  His scattered and self-depricating social media presence has turned a few folks off, but their missing some jams.

Ricky Calmbach – “Texas is the Spark” (2001)

A chance meeting with Bob Cole formerly of KVET and now of KOKE in Austin, launched Calmbach’s career.  A polished dancehall traditionalist, Calmbach put that style to tape and this is one of his best.

Rob Baird – “Fade Away” (2010)
A bouncy mandolin that would fit in as part of an REM song rolls throughout out on this particular version Baird’s Fort Worth via Memphis take on Texas music.

Robert Earl Keen – “Feelin’ Good Again” (1998)
Much like with RWH, the easy choice is to do “Road Goes on Forever”, yet it’s this introspective and insightful tune about a night out in Bandrea that reveals more about who REK is as a person and artist than any other song in his canon. He’s quite simply the greatest influence on this list.  A bridge from the 70’s to the 90’s who kept boats afloat during a very heavy musical drought in Texas. As with Pat Green, none of this would exist in its current form without him.

Robert Ellis – “Drivin’ ” (2016)
Ellis makes music that jaunts across genres and styles as carefree as the proverbial drive he’s taking in this song and it’s damn fun riding shotgun with him.

Robert Henry and The B Team – “Blue Canoe” (2002)
After traveling around the world, Henry settled in Texas and became friends with a group that included Pat Green, Cory Morrow and Stephen Harris of Harris and Ryden.  Wanting to do what they did, Henry willed himself into a short-lived, but memorable run as a Texas must see.

Robyn Ludwick – “Hollywood” (2011)
As the sister of Bruce and Charlie Robison, Ludwick had a high bar entering a professional music career.  She proved she was the songwriting equal of her brothers with this sultry and heart-wrenching tale of love and wanting.

Rodney Crowell – “Telephone Road” (2001)
One of the most influential and successful songwriters of all time makes a mark on the modern indie Texas scene with this autobiographical tale of growing up in Houston.

Rodney Hayden – “Good Horses are Hard To Come By”  (2012)
Being mentored by Robert Earl Keen as a teen set Hayden on a well-worn path to being one of the most authentic acts in Texas Music.  Hayden’s continued to be real throughout and has gotten more hardcore troubadour with each successive release.  He can currently be found exploring cowboy and western music themes.

Rodney Parker and 50 Peso Reward – “Firefight” (2008)
Charging onto Texas/Red Dirt fans’ radars with a country-alt/rock hybrid style that was more Springsteen (see his fantastic cover of “Atlantic City” than Keen, RP50PR have continued to crank out a steady stream of solid albums and maintained a devoted fanbase up through their most recent 2016 release.

Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers – “Counterclockwise” (2004)
Bringing a decided California and Byrds type perspective to their music, Clyne and his Peacemakers made enough noise to convince Smith Entertainment to allow them to record a Live at Billy Bob’s record in 2005.

Roger Creager – “Love” (2002)
Creager’s rowdy live shows are the stuff of legend and have often overshadowed the strength of his writing and more thoughtful material.  This song is a true event at large festivals like LJT and have become as synonymous with Creager’s catalog as his dad Bill coming out to sing “Rancho Grande”.

Ronnie Fauss – “Song For Zula” (2015)
Dallas based Fauss brings the Americana rock and thought with the best of them.

Rosehill – “Did You Ever Turn Around? (2013)
Rising from the ashes of the band formerly known as Texas High Life, Rosehill produced a slick sound accentuated by sharp duo harmonies and smart lyrical turns of phrase.  All of that is found here.

Rusty Wier – “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance?” (1975)
A simple refrain Wier noted while driving back to Austin from a west coast touring run became one of the greatest songs Texas has ever inspired. Covered by everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Jerry Jeff, but never quite as good as when in the hands of the master himself.  The best entertainer in the history of Texas Music had the song to match.

Ryan Adams – “Come Pick Me Up” (2000)
Perhaps no other song or artist not from Texas has influenced as much of this list with the exception of Chris Knight’s “It Ain’t Easy Being Me”.  Adams personal break-up letter set to song became a standard scene cover and informed an untold number of writers trying to find the right words.

Ryan Bales – “Just Not Good Enough” (2005)
Austin rocker Bales had a nice run through the Texas Music scene on the backs of songs like this that rocked so hard live that some folks wondered if they’d wandered into the wrong bar.

Ryan Beaver – “Under the Neons” (2008)
Beaver had a big voice and big ambition.  He was produced by Texas guitar legend David Grissom, and before moving onto national acclaim in Nashville they collaborated to produce this fine country song.

Ryan Bingham – “Southside of Heaven” (2007)
Homeless rodeo bum becomes a Hollywood dwelling Oscar-winner.  The type of story that can only be birthed in Texas. After beating around Texas without much success, Bingham flipped a coing after Steamboat one year and it pointed him west.  He ended up in California, hooked up with a former Black Crowes guitarist, bared his soul on record and became a superstar.

Ryan Culwell – “Flatlands” (2015)
More songwriters have emerged from the west Texas plains than just about anywhere else in this state.  Culwell represents that tradition both in geography and style.

Ryan James – “Goodbye Carolina” (2005)
After toiling in the Texas Music trenches for a few years, James decided to pursue other interests and ended up working successfully in the healthcare field.  Thankfully, he left songs behind like this.

Ryan Turner – “Julie’s Gonna Dance” (2005)
At one point Turner was poised to be the biggest thing to emerge from San Marcos since George Strait.  Handsome, talented and musically pedigreed.  His debut record was a smash and then he decided the road life and peforming for anything other than fun wasn’t necessarily what he wanted.  For a time, this song and the album it spawned from were the biggest thing in the scene.

Texas Best Americana Red’s Volume 2

Volume 2 (G-L) of the signature song from just about every artist to ever touch this scene in some way is below.  For a full description of this project, check out VOLUME 1.

*YouTube links are provided for each song (if available).

**A Spotify Playlist featuring each song/artist A-L can be found HERE.  This playlist will be updated throughout the project and will have A-Z by project’s end.  Turn it up!

Gary Floater- “Y’all Watch This”

The greatest artist of all time…in his own mind.

Gary P. Nunn – “London Homesick Blues” (1973)
A true story that Nunn has related many times.  While on a tour of Europe backing Michael Martin Murphey, Nunn found himself cold and alone in a busted London flat. Every lyric is true and by the time ACL decided to make it a theme song it had already found it’s way into the heart of every homesick Texan. Ever.

The Gougers – “Everybody Knows” (2007)
Shane Walker and Jamie Wilson fronted this immensely talented band that blended Gram/Emmylou in a modern way.  This was one of their best.

Grady Spencer & the Work – “Things To Do” (2013)
Cowtown rockers who have just enough country in their influences to make it interesting.  Unique yet comfortable.  They’ve got many things to do, including rocking out songs like this one.

The Great Divide – “Pour Me a Vacation” (1998)
Mike McClure is a Red Dirt legend and The Great Divide cranked out several fantastic albums and songs.  However, it is this Buffett-esque tune that became their most well-known hit.  McClure grew to resent the song in some respects, broke away from TGD and started a successful solo career that took him down folk (12 Pieces) and rock paths (every MMB record). Mac’s orange boogie+country=genius.

The Groobees-“Cheap Trucker Speed” (2001)
Formed in Amarillo and taken to notoriety via Dixie Chicks cover of band member Susan Gibson’s “Wide Open Spaces”, the Groobees were an anomaly in a sea of Pat Green beer soaked madness.  A true band creating timeless music. Groobee Scott Mellot was the yang to Gibson’s yin and would go on to produce the Randy Rogers Band’s debut album Like It Used To Be.

Guy Clark – “Dublin Blues” (1995)
The master. Where does one even start?  This one is from his latter catalog, but has seemed to grow in endearment and response with each passing year.  It’s oft-covered and receives a fair amount of radio play for a maudlin tune about being heartbroken in a bar.

Haley Cole – “Goodwill” (2015)
Co-written with Susan Gibson, this song finds Cole belting it out in confident phrases that make you sit up and pay attention to her good news. Power has never been this pretty and effortless.

Hank III – “Mississippi Mud” (2002)
Never short on controversy or rabid fans, Hank III inspires a wide range of reactions.  He made a mark on OKOM with his Risin’ Outlaw album and cemented his spot with the Lovesick, Broke and Driftin‘ record that features this infectious dobro-riff and what sounds like one hell of a good afternoon.

Hayes Carll – “Down the Road Tonight” (2005)
The rapid meter of this song is reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and would provide a template that many future Carll songs would find themselves within.  Colorful, snarky, double entendred lyrics find a home here as they would on each of Carll’s releases.  Plus, Michael Jackson really did peak at Thriller. And it’s always good advice to listen to Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Harris & Rhyden – “Texas Bound Again” (2000)
True life cowboys who met while serving as ranchhands in Wyoming, they came together to form a musical duo in Texas.  They carried on in the modern Michael Martin Murphey sense and made an early, lasting mark on Texas Music.

Holly Williams – “Drinkin’ “ (2013)
Hank III isn’t the only Bocephus offspring to make their own mark in the family tradition.  Holly Williams bounced around musical label homes before catching her stride with one of the finer albums of the past five years.  This plea to a distant, alcoholic, aloof husband is as raw and authentic as country music gets.

Honeybrowne – “Texas Angel” (2000)
Fred Andrews fronted this band named after a beer.  Alex Weeden was on guitar and he’d go on to find a steady gig playing lead guitar for Miranda Lambert.  This slow dance classic has never faded from jukeboxes, playlists, bars, dancehalls and cover band sets.

Houston Marchman – “Viet Nashville” (1996)
Marchman left Texas for Nashville in the early 90’s and saw the machine from the inside.  He moved home to Texas in 1995 and released an album with this as the title track.  A more striking and daring shot across the bow of Nashville than Morrow’s take on it…this one leaves a jaded mark. “Son you gotta write for an 8th grade level divorced housewife here in Nashville…it’s about money…”

Jack Ingram – “Biloxi” (1999)
After a string of successful but not transformational albums, Ingram signed to Sony’s Lucky Dog records and released a crowning achievement with Hey You.  Chock full of memorable songs, mostly about relationships and the struggle of communicating with the opposite sex. Yet, it’s this deeply personal album opener that slow burns a piano riff into Ingram’s growl of “Where in the hell did you go?” and leaves us all searching for the approval of a disparate, gambling, absent father.

Jackie Darlene  – “Diamond in the Rough” (2016)
This young female upstart has good music in the genes as her grandfather is famed songwriter Whitey Shafer.  Darlene’s rasp is reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, but this girl is a hardcore troubadour living the life.  She’s literally scraping change together for gas money to get to the gig and lives to sing about it.

Jackson Taylor – “Outlaws Ain’t Wanted Anymore” (2006)
A definitive outlaw playing by his own rules and setting those rules to music.

Jade & Bryan – “Two Steps” (2016)
Another spin on the duo angle in Texas, Jade & Bryan wrote and released this song with a familiar title and a unique viewpoint.

James McMurtry – “Choctaw Bingo” (2002)
This son of a literary genius has carved out a niche for himself as a songwriting savant.  An upbeat song with downright gnarly narrative.  Popularized around these parts by Ray Wylie Hubbard, McMurtry’s own version remains the standard.

Jamie Richards- “Drive” (2008)
Surviving a stint on a Nashville label and as a house songwriter in Music City, Richards returned home to Texas’ welcoming ears and struck gold with “Drive”.

Jamie Lin Wilson – “Just Like Heartache” (2015)
Fresh from being part of several band projects, Wilson freely embraces her Emmylou Harris vocal prowess and let’s this cheery tune come out of the gate with heartworn wisdom.

Jarrod Birmingham – “Jesus and Johnny Cash” (2010)
Blessed with a booming voice and a take no shit approach, Birmingham has been cranking out his brand of thumping honky-tonk for quite some time.  This is one of his best with an assist from Kevin Fowler.

Jason Allen – “John Boat Blues” (2006)
Staunch country traditionalist who also happens to be a guitar prodigy that loves Stevie Wonder (check his cover of “I Just Called To Say I Love You”).  This bluesy tribute to the joys of fishing in the most basic way is country brilliance disguised as simplicity.

Jason Boland & the Stragglers – “Somewhere Down in Texas” (2001)
Boland’s debut album set a precedent for who he is as an artist.  The rolling drumbeat of Brad Rice is accompanied by the swaying fiddle of Richard Bowden and Lloyd Maines pushed all the right buttons.  But, the true showcase here is Boland’s knack for vivid lyrical imagery.  The rays of light through the Shiner Bock bottle is cooler than any poetry you hear in school.

Jason Eady – “AM Country Heaven” (2012)
By taking modern country music to task for being superficial and often downright stupid, Eady transitioned from a Delta baked swamp-stomper into a bonafide country music hero with this tale about when the folks coming through your speaker were ugly women and forty year old men. It sounds like a Vern Gosdin lost track.

Jason Isbell – “Cover Me Up” (2013)
Isbell has pushed himself into greatest living songwriter territory with his past two albums.  This intensely intimate song speaks of love in a fostering, nurturing, sobering manner that few others have even com close to touching.  Hearing it live when inpirational muse and wife, Amanda Shires, is playing in his band only serves to make it far more superior.

JB & the Moonshine Band – “The Only Drug” (2012)
This east Texas crew has become known for a hard-driving brand of country music, yet it’s this more tender sentiment that evokes the best response.

Jerry Jeff Walker – “Mr. Bojangles” (1968)
When Ronald Crosby penned this tune about spending the night in a New Orleans jail cell with a dancing homeless man, he couldn’t have known how big it or he would become.  Crosby would go on to become gonzo redneck rocker Jerry Jeff Walker and the song would become an American classic.  The live from New Orleans version linked here is the definitive one.  It captures the wild eyed madness just under the surface of all Jerry Jeff experiences.

Jody Booth – “Nashville” (2011)
Talented multi-instrumentalist Booth has been called the greatest singer you may not have heard of.  He’s a pro’s pro with more talent than he knows what to do with…he put the pieces together on this one.

Joe Ely – “Me and Billy the Kid” (1987)
Ely’s fiery brand of country rock made him a phenomenon that toured with The Clash.  His west Texas rock updated Buddy Holly’s innovations, layered on the country and was obviously delivered with a punk rock attitude. This song has it all.

Joey Green – “Nathitoches Blues” (2009)
Fort Worth’s underground MVP, Green delivers the type of rootsy groover that also holds a linear story you can’t help but pay attention to.

John Baumann -“Potter County” (2012)
Baumann flashes promise as one of the brightest young songwriters around.  This is a tale of bad habits, feigned redemption and the adventure of it all.  It sounds like one imagines Jackson Browne would sound like if he were from Texas.

John David Kent – “Back to the Country” (2011)
Breaking away from the band Radish with Ben Kweller, Kent set out to stake his own claim in Texas Music.  This track wasn’t just another bold claim, it was reality.

John Dempsy  – “Are You High?” (2011)
Few writers pour as much life and emotion into their songs as Dempsy. A multi-instrumentalist-producer that is able to convey his ideas in sharp focus, Dempsy makes you feel it all.

John Evans – “Bad Thoughts in a Good Way” (2008)
Mercurial music legend with a diverse, unpredictable style.  A guru, if you will.  As fine an entertainer as you’ll see and able to showcase his various influences sometimes all on the same song.  This is one of those.

John Fullbright – “Until You Were Gone” (2014)
An Oklahoma piano prodigy who grew up to write songs in the grandest Woody Guthrie tradition, Fullbright has become one of our greatest musical treasures.  This particular track is simple in conception, brilliant in production and heart-wrenching in its connection.

John Moreland – “Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore” (2013)
A refute of musical indifference.  A damning claim with more truth that most would like to admit.  Moreland questions why he’s doing what he does, yet does it so well he (and the audience) both know he can never stop.

Johnny Cooper – “Texas To You” (2007)
Cooper blasted onto the Texas scene when he was just a teenager backed by hired gun grizzled vets.  He went on to make a name for himself with a strong work ethic and radio and club friendly songs such as this.

Jonathan Terrell-“Raining Sundays” (2008)
In the vein of Hayes Carll, this songwriter delivers thoughtful poetry with strained vocals that is poured over straight up honky-tonk.

Jonathan Tyler – “Gypsy Woman” (2007)
Easily one of the most rocking songs on this list.  During the Northern Lights major label era of JT’s career, this song is bombastic and groovy.  This track blasts out of speakers with a peerless ferocity. The guitars and harmonies will have you singing, but the beat makes you move.

Jonny Burke – “Problems” (2014)
After years of co-fronting The Dedringers, Burke went solo and kept his raspy voiced Dylan does Texas style and showed the world he may have problems, but writing songs isn’t one of them.

Josh Abbott Band – “She’s Like Texas” (2010)
Abbott established a career with cheesy songs pointedly marketed toward female, college aged females.  A supremely smart business plan that culminated in the release of this pervasive smash regional hit.  No, we’ve never seen a bluebonnet in the summer…but that didn’t matter to the thousands of girls who downloaded, streamed, bought, screamed along to this song (and continue to do so).  Easily the song used in the most social media bios.  Abbott has gone on to push himself into greater artistic challenges and triumphs, but this song and the other early one’s in his collection are what he remains well-known for.

Josh Fuller – “Old Whiskey” (2012)
Phil Pritchett climbed into the production chair to unleash Fuller’s version of a teenage, alcohol soaked nostalgia…with great success.

Josh Grider – “White Van” (2014)
Grider had been stumbling on the edge of greatness for nearly 15 years when he broke through with a string of Texas radio hits in 2013.  Years of toiling in the honkytonks took this New Mexican to Nashville and back. This song embodies what most musician’s lives are like in this scene…especially Josh Grider’s.

Josh Norman – “Never Liked Austin Anyway” (2006)
Norman has played in bands for years and has been a staple of the Houston area music scene for quite some time, but his finest songwriting moment may just be the time he collaborated with Brandon Wayne Jones on a distaste for the capitol city.

Josh Ward – “Hard Whiskey” (2012)
Country revivalist who is actually a country boy.  When he sings about hard whiskey and soft places to fall, you know he’s actually been there.

Josh Weathers – “Big Night in the City” (2012)
There are probably no artists on this list as naturally God-given talented as Mr. Weathers.  A soul-rocker with a country boy’s heart, this cat could do it all.  He catapulted into everyone’s view after his cover of “I Will Always Love You” went viral, but it was this original that samples Bruce Channel’s 1961 hit “Hey Baby!” in the bridge that bonded Weathers to regional superstar status.  After a taste of the limelight, Weathers retreated to do incredible missionary work and play the sporadic gig to raise funds for Indian orphanages.

Justin Townes Earle – “Harlem River Blues” (2010)
Yet another artist on this list in the shadow of a famous father, but this time also blessed/cursed with as the namesake of one of the best poet’s to ever pick up a pen.  JT Earle skillfully made his own mark with a record of rockabilly/Muscle Shoals infused Americana that few could duplicate. This title track is aces.

K Phillips – “Kat’s Song (What I Can’t Have)” (2012)
A renaissance wildman akin to Jerry Lee Lewis on the piano, but with enough artistic sensibilities to sometimes just flat out make it weird on purpose.  This song finds him mining the more sensitive side of  his manicness as he laments what he has…and what he doesn’t.

Kaitlin Butts – “Wild Rose” (2014)
A songwriter with wisdom far beyond her young years, Butts showcases a knack for delivering smart songs in a sweet manner.  She’s a wild flower, the kind you take time to admire.

Kasey Chambers – “We’re All Gonna Die Someday” (1999)
What’s an artist from Australia doing on this list? Well, one listen to this song will tell you why.  As the Americana scene that would swallow up much of Texas Music was coming into its own, Chambers was a forerunner.  Her distinctive vocals were always paired with winning lyrics…never more effectively than on this hedonistic romp about saying to hell with it, we’re all gonna die someday so let’s have fun today.

Kayla Ray – Room 402 (2014)
A throwback female country artist living the songs she sings and championing authentic, old school country music.  With albums produced by Jason Eady, Ray makes no bones about where her stylistic impulses lie and that’s a good thing.

Keith Davis- “Before There Was You” (2007)
An acclaimed sideman and producer who has worked with a number of fantastic artists took his turn releasing some music of his own and this one connected with audiences in a solid way.

Keith Gattis – “Big City Blues” (2005)
Worldclass musician and Dwight Yoakam lead guitarist successfully writes songs for everyone else, then makes his signature album title tracked by this jewel regaling skinny dipping in the Perdenales River and getting away from it all. Nasty in the best sense.

Keith Sykes- “Those Were the Days” (1998)
In a career that’s taken him from major label artist to Jimmy Buffett’s guitar player to songwriter to the stars and back to writing for himself, this late 70’s rocker is a good amalgam of Sykes’ style.

Kelley Mickwee- “River Girl” (2014)
Hailing from Memphis, Mickwee first landed on Texas radars in the duo Jed and Kelley prior to joining The Trishas and then releasing a knockout of a solo debut that featured this sultry soul smash as its lead single.

Kensie Coppin – “White Trash Widow” (2016)
A young female artist normally doesn’t have this much vitriol in her, but Coppin has been wronged by the wrong people and puts it to music especially well in this piece.

Kent Finlay – “They Call it the Hill Country”
Chief proprietor of Cheatham Street Warehouse and dreams, Finlay penned this opus as a keen musical response to the invasive nature of Hill Country expansion.  Kent will long be known for many things, but this song is near the top of the list.

Kevin Fowler – “Beer, Bait and Ammo” (2000)
Fowler’s journey from hair metal guitar player to Texas Music redneck provocateur is well-documented and it all started with this trip down the road to Bubba’s.

Kevin Welch – “Patch of Blue Sky” (2010)
As a songwriter, Welch picked up a number of big cuts from the biggest artists of the day in the 80s and 90s.  Yet, it was when he moved down to Wimberley and took his time making a late career solo record that he truly found his greatest brilliance.  All any of us are waiting on is a patch of blue sky and Welch finds his here.

Kimberly Kelly – “Gravy Train”  (2007)
Give a girl a mandolin, provide her some of the best music education on the planet and let her run.  Kelly pulls off her best peak Dixie Chicks impersonation on this rollicking track about a gravy train on biscuit wheels.  A toe-tapping good time. That twang you hear isn’t inflected, it’s authenticated.

Kirk Baxley – “If Only” (2015)
Former rocker Baxley connects with this song, and shows a sign of things to come on his forthcoming release.

Kristen Kelly – “I Remember When” (2010)
Shedding her band’s name Modern Day Drifters, putting hers on the marquee, but keeping the same players proved to be a stroke of genius on Kelly’s part.  Soon after this song raced up the Texas charts, Kelly was signed to a major label and began hitting radios/tv screens across the country with “Ex Old Man”.

Kyle Bennett – “Come On Radio” (2008)
Who hasn’t wanted to hear that one song come on the air…pleading come on radio give us what we want.  Bennett did for a short time before the band that backed him went on to greater notoriety as the Thieving Birds.

Kyle Park – “Leavin’ Stephenville” (2011)
Park’s made a career out of staying in his lane of easily digestible country music.  A bouncy fiddle melody punctuates this road weary tune about heading south on 281 after a long run.

Kylie Rae Harris – “Waited” (2012)
KRH took a swim through Nashville and was featured on a behind the scenes reality show and in the process wrote and delivered some of the most heartfelt musical reality imaginable.  Real and raw has never sounded so good.

Larry Hooper – “Background Music” (2006)
A true songwriter, Hooper tells the tale of so many plying their trade of hand-crafted songs in a loud, inattentive barroom.

Larry Joe Taylor – “Meet Me Down in Corpus” (1994)
Texas’ answer to Jimmy Buffett released a slew of independent Third Coastal inspired albums prior to his festival becoming the biggest stage in the state.  It’s lighthearted and fun…and will definitely make you want to grab a Tecate dressed with lime and hit the beach.

Leon Bridges – “Smooth Sailin’ “ (2015)
Former Rosa’s Cafe busboy teams up with the best musicians in Fort Worth to make a retro soul album that creates such a buzz the major labels come calling.  Soon thereafter stardom does too.  On the winds of throwback jams this tasty, it was only a matter of time.

Leroy Powell – “Satan Put It on My Tab” (2013)
Shooter Jennings’ collaborator steps out on his own to create a string of critically-acclaimed independent albums that dance between metal and Americana often enough to end up being some fine country music.  The protagonist in this song knows he’s up to no good, and is just delaying payment.

Lew Card – “Condo Town Rag” (2016)
Native Tennessean Lew Card lived in Austin for well over a decade before returning home.  He was a part of the Austin music scene, and city at large, during a massive tranformation.  Card saw the sleepy, college town become California east and wrote about it in a Leon Redbone style.

Lincoln Durham – “Clementine” (2012)
Fiercely intense, gothic one-man band shows his softer side and it becomes his most well-known hit.

Lost Immigrants – “Song to Sing” (2006)
Hill Country duo write a song about doing what they love and how much they love doing it.  Sometimes you don’t need to overthink the formula…you just have to make it real.

Lost Trailers – “The Battery”  (2004)
Atlanta’s Lost Trailers stormed the Texas Music scene in 2004 with their massive album Welcome to the Woods.  It was a revelation and these Georgia boys were instantly embraced, even playing an early Greenfest. This song showcases everything this scene loved about this band before they lost themselves.  Winning guitar riff, southern gospel harmonies and southern gothic lyrics. The band soon lost their way and were one of the earliest purveyors of bro-country with a song called “Holler Back”.  It’d be cool if the Trailers weren’t lost anymore.

Lucero – “Nights Like These” (2002)
Ben Nichols has been grinding away for twenty years.  And despite the rise in notoriety for he and his band over the years, you can still feel that grind each time you spin this tune.

Lucinda Williams – “Can’t Let Go” (1998)
The album from which this song comes, 1998’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, is hailed as one of the finest Americana records of all time, with good reason. The album had 13 tracks…all of them good.  Lucinda wrote or co-wrote 12.  All but this Randy Weeks groovy gem.  A load out staple of many a fine soundman.

Luke Olson – “Panhandle Sunset” (1999)
San Antonio’s Olson found success in the early Texas Music scene of the late 90’s and early 00’s with his western folksy take on the subgenre. Produced, as most of the best of the day, by Lloyd Maines this title track is a good testament to what made Olson a solid alternative for those fans back in the day seeking something more than Shiner Bock and Lone Star.

Lyle Lovett – “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas” (1996)
Lovett helped, unwittingly or not, revive the Texas Music genre after the 70’s heyday had begun to fade.  Lovett became a star and meandered around different styles and inspirations prior to 1996’s The Road to Ensenda album which features this iconic track he co-wrote with Willis Alan Ramsey and Alison Rogers.

Texas Best Americana Red’s Volume 1

I once made a Spotify playlist that featured a few of my favorite songs from each of my favorite Texas/Red Dirt/Americana/OKOM artists.  I was programming my own station so to speak.  Soon though, laziness took hold and upon album release day for a favorite artist I found myself just dragging the entire new record into the collection.  … Read the rest

{Brad's Corner} September 2016: Cooly Uncool

{Brad�s Corner}

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.  Lester Bangs said that.  It was recreated for dramatic effect in Almost Famous and it rings true 40 years later. Musicians, by and large, grow up the uncool kids in a sea of jocks, climbers and brainiacs.  … Read the rest

Jack’s Journey

When on an uncharted journey it is not uncommon to get lost and led astray.  Following beacons and misguided navigational points that slightly betray your gut instincts.  True trailblazers don’t let this deter them.  Getting lost can be as illuminating as discovering paradise shortly after setting off.  … Read the rest